Sunday, November 30, 2008

New MySpace Profile -

Hey everyone.
One final post. If any of you want to keep in touch on MySpace, I decided to start a personal profile at

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Horrorman Is Closing The Crypt -

Some of you may have noticed that I cut the life-line to Sexy Bloody Horror. It has disappeared into that unknowable...unreachable place where all "dead" sites go to dwell. The reason? Not enough hours in the day. I'm sorry to say that after much reflection over the Holidays, I've decided to snip the umbilical to horrorman Blogs as well. On top of my other projects, I recently had another opportunity drop into my lap. All of these take up a considerable amount of time, as does running a "quality" horror film blog site. Back in the late '80's when I kicked off the horror web site The Horror Chamber, there were only a handful of us out there. Twenty years later, it's an entirely different story. There are literally hundreds (thousands, probably) of sites and blogs out there dealing with our much beloved genre. Fans today are far...far more informed and knowledgeable than they were back then. I've chatted with many of you, many of you who have excellent blogs and sites of your own that I visit every chance I get. There are even a handful of you whom I'd consider friends now (sure...we may have never met face to face, but you know what? That doesn't matter.) For those of you who care, I plan on leaving horrorman Blogs up for a good while for the Archives. And if you are a new visitor to this blog, please check out my "Links & Friends" list on the sidebar. These guys and gals know their horror, and over the past year, I've found that more often than not, we pretty much share the same taste and opinions in films. And if you, kind visitor, are one of those listed... I'll certainly continue dropping in on your sites, leaving comments, etc. I've really enjoyed and appreciated all of your kind comments.

Best wishes,

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Venus In Furs (1969)

(aka: Paroxismus/Black Angel/Puo Una Morta Rivivere Per Amore?)

Jess Franco's 1969 film Venus In Furs is considered by many (including myself, who'd place it in his top "5") to be one of the prolific director's best. Two years after Jazz trumpeter Jimmy Logan witnesses three demented members of the upper class-elite whip, rape and mutilate a beautiful young socialite in an Istanbul back alleyway, he discovers the body of a woman washed up on the shores of the Black Sea. The woman seems strangely familiar to him, and when he sees her again, very much alive...he becomes sexually obsessed with her, unaware that the mysterious beauty has returned from the grave on a deadly mission of revenge.

Originally entitled Black Angel, Franco got the general idea for the story following a conversation with Jazz musician Chet Baker, who told Franco that whenever he performed a solo piece it was as if he lost all sense of reality and time, reliving all his passions and desires, whether real or imaginary..."like a drowning man who sees his whole life flash before his eyes". Franco intended on having a black trumpeter player who falls in love with a mysterious beautiful white girl; however, was forced to change the story when producers said that American audiences weren't "ready" to see a black man and a white woman in bed. Ironic that there was no problem having a white man in bed with a black woman. I guess in the last thirty-nine years, America has come a long-way-baby... Again getting his inspiration from Baker, Franco rewrote the script, having a white musician with a black girlfriend (evidently, Chet had several black mistresses throughout his career). Typical of Franco's other films produced by Harry Alan Towers, Venus In Furs had its share of problems due to having too many producers (the film was actually a co-production between 60 and 65 countries!) When he was asked to change the script yet again, following Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's 1870 novella Venus In Furs, Franco refused. He did, however, give in a little by changing the films title and by having Harry Alan Tower's wife Maria Rohm's character wear a fur coat throughout much of the film.

Along with Ms. Rohm (99 Women, Bloody Judge), who is incredibly sexy and convincing as the ghostly Wanda Reed, 50's teen heartthrob James Darren (TV's T.J. Hooker and The Guns Of Navarone) was thrust upon Franco as the lead. Though Franco was dubious at first, after talking with Darren, he learned that the handsome actor was also an accomplished musician (he had several hits in the mid-60's, including "Goodbye Cruel World" ) and had been an acquaintance of Chet Baker. In the film, Darren plays all of his own trumpet solos and was very impressive as the much beguiled Jimmy Logan. African/American singer/actress Barbara McNair (They Call Me Mister Tibbs!) plays the part of Rita, Jimmy's girlfriend. Though being "faithful" wasn't obviously in their relationship agreement, she understandably gets jealous when she finds out that Jimmy is diddling this mysterious and sexy young blonde that keeps showing up out of nowhere. When she sees that he has become obsessed with the girl, Rita tries to help to no avail. There's just no helping some guys. McNair, whose character is a lounge singer, performs a couple of songs in the film and handles the role quite well. The singer/actress was once voted one of the world's most beautiful women. Klaus Kinski (Nosferatu, Crawlspace), one of my all-time favorite actors, has a small yet powerful role as the Turkish millionaire playboy Ahmed Kortobawi, who was the ring-leader of the trio who brutalized Wanda Reed. Kinski is only on the screen a few minutes at the beginning of the film and a few minutes towards the end, and has limited (and unfortunately dubbed) lines, but still serves up a troubling and creepy performance. But what else is new. Kinski was fantastic...even when he didn't say anything. Despite his reputation as being difficult, Franco said of Kinski, after seven films together, "I never had a single problem with him."

As much as I like Venus In Furs, the movie isn't without its faults. I've never been a fan of Franco's trademark shifting in-and-out of focus technique. Nor the surrealistic slow-motion, dreamy sequences. Even Jess himself, during Blue Underground's DVD Extras interview, states that although he signed off on it, he was unhappy with the editing and that it was too surreal for his taste. If you're stricken with ADD, there might be a few scenes that seem to drag on for too long...some of the lounge scenes for instance. Still, I really enjoyed cinematographer Angelo Lotti's (Seven Blood-Stained Orchids ) trippy psychedelic imagery and all the "hip swinging 60's" dialogue. At the beginning of the film, when Jimmy witnesses the violence in the alleyway, he thinks it's all some kind of perverse consensual game and says (in a voice-over), "Man, it was a wild scene. But if they wanted to go that route, it was their bag..." What else can you expect from a film released one day after "Woodstock"? I also liked South African born blues/pop musician Manfred Mann's soundtrack. I thought it worked really well.
Others in the cast include Dennis Price (Vampyros Lesbos), whom Franco said was a good actor "even if he was drunk"; Margaret Lee (Slaughter Hotel) as Olga, the lesbian fashion photographer; Franco regular Paul Muller (Nightmares Come At Night, Nightmare Castle); and Adolfo Lastretti (Spasmo) as Inspector Kaplan. Look for Franco playing the trombone and piano as a member of Jimmy's band.

If you're a fan of Jess Franco, you'll undoubtedly love Venus In Furs. As I've said, it is one of his best. Even the critics liked it. If you're not a fan... Give it a chance anyway. You might be surprised. And if you're new to the films of Franco, this is a great film to start off with. It's a well made, well directed, well acted erotic ghost story that you won't forget the day after you watch it. "Venus In Furs Will Be Smiiii-ling."

Ready to buy Venus In Furs?

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Liane, Jungle Goddess (1956)

(aka: Liane, das Mädchen aus dem Urwald)

A good two decades before Sheena-Queen Of The Jungle, White Cannibal Queen, Diamonds Of Kilimandjaro, and Golden Temple Amazons, Austrian born director Eduard von Borsody (Corinna Darling) gave us Liane, Jungle Goddess. By now, the female Tarzan story is familiar to most. When an expedition discovers young blonde Liane living in the African jungle and idolized by the native tribes, they capture and return her to Hamburg where she is welcomed by her wealthy grandfather, ship tycoon Von Amelongen. His nephew Viktor Schoening, present head of the firm and prospective heir, tries everything in his power to stop his uncle from acknowledging her, including perjury, destruction of evidence, and eventually resorting to murder.

When first released in the U.S. in the mid-50's, Liane, Jungle Goddess was strictly considered "adults-only". A New York Times critic even declared it "virtual pornography". This is non-sense however, as most of the sparse nudity consists of topless National Geographic style footage of native women performing a ceremonial dance (six short years later, Jayne Mansfield would bare a heck-of-a-lot more in King Donovan's Promises! Promises!). The female star of Liane, Jungle Goddess was 16-year-old Marion Michael who was selected for the role of Liane out of 12,000 other prospective actresses. Michael did provide many pocked-faced adolescent 50's males a few quick glimpses of her breasts during the first half of the film, which stirred up more than a little controversy in those days. Not only due to the fact that she was only 16 at the time, but because she was only the second German actress to ever appear nude in a film (Hildegard Knef was the first to do so in the 1950 film The Sinner). By today's standards, Liane, Jungle Goddess is a very tame, yet entertaining, movie. It could easily squeak by with a PG rating. Though the film was a success at the box office, none of Ms. Michael's other dozen films, including Jungle Girl and the Slaver, a sequel of sorts of this movie, were unfortunately.

Like most 50's genre films, there are portions of Liane that are silly. Like when our handsome hero Thoren (Hardy Krüger - The Flight of the Phoenix, What The Peeper Saw) is fighting with the African natives and winds up with an arrow stuck in his hat. But all-in-all I really enjoyed this movie. It's nostalgic and entertaining. Shot on location in Africa (no cheap studio jungle sets here), I thought the photography was impressive, with lots of jungle and authentic native scenes and plenty of wild animals. Unfortunately, the master print used for the DVD transfer wasn't in great shape, and there is quite a bit of color fading and scratches throughout. Surprisingly, the acting was decent as well. Marion Michael may have come off a bit campy at times, especially when she attempts to communicate with her captor and new-found friend Thoren. But then, she spends most of the film either topless (albeit, covered with fake long blonde locks) or wearing short and sheer night gowns and bikinis, so who cares. There is an interesting little sub-plot in the movie. A love triangle (or...rectangle) between Thoren, Liana, the gorgeous Dr. Jacqueline Goddard (Irène Galter -Rome 11:00 ), and monkey-trader Tibor Teleky (Peter Mosbacher -Diabolically Yours). Thoren, who serves as Liane's paternal-like protector, is such a dimwit that he's unaware that both Jacqueline and Liane are in love with him. Meanwhile poor Tibor, after time and again trying to shield Jacqueline from Thoren's aloofness, eventually makes his feelings known to the lovely doctor.

Others in the cast include Rudolf Forster (Return Of Dr. Mabuse) as Theo Amelongen, Liane's grandfather; Rolf von Nauckhoff (Island of the Doomed) as Professor Danner; and the one and only Reggie Nalder (Mark Of The Devil, Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Salem's Lot) as the scheming and greedy Viktor. If you are a fan of female Greystoke movies or campy 50's jungle/action movies, I'd recommend Liane, Jungle Goddess. True, you won't get the endless shots of topless girls like in Franco's White Cannibal Queen or Diamonds Of Kilimandjaro, but apart from that, this is actually a better movie. I really like the story and Eduard von Borsody's direction. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, too.

Ready to buy Liane, Jungle Goddess ?

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Golden Temple Amazons (1986)

(aka: Les Amazones Du Temple D'Or/Amazons in the Temple of Gold)

Sixteen years after the vicious slaughter of her parents at the hands of an Amazonian tribe, the young jungle girl Liana sets out to avenge their deaths. After joining forces with an archaeological expedition searching for the tribe's secret golden temple, the group discover that the Amazons, led by the sinister and sadistic duo of Uruck and Rena, will protect the temple from intruders at all costs. First things first. As most genre fans know, Golden Temple Amazons isn't actually a Jess Franco film. According to most sources, Franco merely did some of the second-unit work and possibly supplied additional footage from an earlier film of his as padding. The director for the film was Alain Payet (HellTrain, directed many porn films under the name John Love). Produced by France's Marius and Daniel Lesseur from Eurocine, the film is yet another female Tarzan/Liane, The Jungle Goddess rip-off. Again, it seems I'm all alone on this one. But, dang it, I love jungle girl movies. I've yet to talk to a single soul who really enjoyed this movie. To be fair... It is pretty bad.

Though set in the Amazonian jungle, the movie was actually shot at an animal park in southern Spain (the same location used for Diamonds Of Kilimandjaro ). After young Liana's gold-thieving parents get arrowed down by the Amazons, she grows up in the jungle, raised by area tribesmen and all the cuddly little jungle critters. The film starts out with the adult Liana (Analía Ivars -Vampire Blues, Tender Flesh) running and swinging through the jungle (topless, of course) searching for her chimp pal Rocky. She rides an elephant for a while, and is eventually summoned back to the abandoned mission where her drunkard father and mother were slain by another missionary priest (Olivier Mathot -Diamonds Of Kilimandjaro) who had been a friend of the family's years ago. The priest sits down with Liana (not in the least bit put-off by her nakedness) and reads her her father's diary. When Liana learns that the Amazons were responsible for shooting down her father and mother, she sets out to avenge them and promptly teams up with an oddball tribal witch-doctor named Koukou (Stanley Kapoul -Maniac Killer), who looks and acts a lot like Tor Johnson of Ed Wood fame. Not long after, Liana and her new sidekick meet up with an archaeologist, his wife, and a partner who have heard about the legendary Golden Temple in the mysterious Blue Mountains. Liana agrees to guide them, and the five head off. Before they can find the Amazons and their Temple however, the Amazons find and capture them when each come in range of a mysterious mist-like gas issuing from the entrance of a cave, rendering them unconscious. Uruck (William Berger -Love Letters From A Portuguese Nun, Five Dolls For An August Moon), the "Lord" of the Amazons, orders Rena (Eva León -Blue Eyes Of The Broken Doll ) his right-hand, eye-patch wearing Amazon bi-atch, to imprison and torture everyone but Liana, whom he has taken a fancy with and intends on using for "breeding" (I guess when you're the only guy in a tribe full of Amazons for all those years, after a while it gets kind of "iffy" as far as inbreeding with one of your daughters). It falls in the hands of Liana and her pet chimp Rocky to save the trio of incompetent men and one woman serving as her traveling companions.

I've read and heard a lot of fans criticize this movie for it's laughable voice-dubbing, silly script and dialogue, cheap hoaky sets, and poor continuity. True, we have savage Amazon jungle chicks wearing make-up and sporting perms or long blond wigs riding horses decked out with metal bits and decorated Western-style harnesses. And a young Tarzan girl supposedly raised by tribesmen and jungle animals who speaks English as well as any Grammar teacher. Not to mention a dumpy and grizzled old man ruling over all those beautiful nubile topless Amazons babes (who ever heard of a man ruling over a tribe of Amazon warriors, anyway?). And where did he come up with all the fancy modern furniture and polished marble inlay floors adorning his abode? Still, these are inconsistencies and Faux Pas I can overlook and live with. This is "entertainment" we're talking about here, after all, not a historical documentary. A little creative license and inexactitude should be expected.

Being of shallow mind, there are things that irritated me more than those mentioned above: the incessant babblings of Koukou, "Kuckoo kill evil, Kuckoo kill evil!", and some of the casting choices. Not to be mean, but a few of the Amazons were pretty skanky looking. Again, to be fair, because several of the "actresses" would be required to ride horses, many were picked out of a local riding school, which might explain why some of the Amazons were topless and others wore black slingshot bikini tops. And though she is no Sabrina Siani or Katja Bienert, Analía Ivars is cute enough, despite the curly '80's hairdo, and is fun to watch jogging and swinging around the jungle with nothing on but a few flapping fox tails and a leopard skin loin cloth. Alicia Príncipe (Night Of 1,000 Sexes, The Sexual Story of O) plays the part of Bella, the archeologist's wife, and has a nice scene where she goes for a skinny-dip, gets chased out of the water by a hippo, then decides to go exploring a cave (Note I said nothing about "after" putting her clothes back on). Eye patch wearing Eva León was pretty easy-on-the-eyes back in the early '70's when she was still in her early twenties, but here she is just shy of forty (and looks older), though I seriously doubt her breasts were that old.

Those of you hoping for some cannibalism and gore will be sorely disappointed. The only "real" violence (there are a couple of fight sequences, but they are so staged and hoaky they are hilarious) we see is when Liana's parents get speared and when one of the Amazonian guards locks onto the archeologist's manbits with a huge set of prongs and gives them a twist or two. Ouch! The Spanish park where Golden Temple Amazons was shot looks beautiful, with towering waterfalls, lush dense foliage, rocky cliffs, distant mountains and loads of cuddly exotic animals...elephants, hippopotamus, giraffes, tigers and chimpanzees...which Payet takes every opportunity to film. It is, by most accounts, a pretty tame film. In Shriek Show's DVD extras interview, Daniel Lesseur even claims that by today's standards, Golden Temple Amazons could pass as a family film. Uh... Perhaps in Europe, where folks aren't so uptight about naked boobies.

Other notables in the cast include: Antonio Mayans (Sadomania, Zombie Lake), Françoise Blanchard ( Living Dead Girl), Emilio Linder (Monster Dog), and Jean-René Gossart (Killing Car). Lina Romay and Alice Arno are sometimes credited for cameo appearances, but as far as I know, this is a mistake. If you've never seen Golden Temple Amazons, I wouldn't let reviewers and critics out there sway you from giving it a looksy. If you are like me, you can overlook the faults and sloppiness of the filmmakers as well as the low budget and still enjoy. Think of it this way... If nothing else, you'll get to see a bunch of girls riding horses bareback.

Ready to buy Golden Temple Amazons?

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