Friday, April 27, 2007


Directed by Michael Findlay
USA; 1974

Are you like me? Do you hate to follow “rules”? I really hate following rules, even ones I’ve made up myself. In keeping with this anti-authoritarian attitude, I have decided that Worldweird’s “no movies from English speaking countries” is just too limiting. How can we really delve deep into the world of weird, weird cult films without covering one of the world’s most bizarre exploitation industries, that of my own country, the good ole US of A! Our inaugural item to review for this issue is none other than Michael Findlay’s’ absolutely ridiculous Yeti opus SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED and we may never be the same again …

SHRIEK is utter mess of a ramshackle cinematic debacle. Unlike the director’s 60s peak with the astonishing “FLESH trilogy”, this monstrosity can boast very little in the way of anything approximating artistic intent or methodology. This is pure exploito dreck. But it’s exploito dreck which is fairly damned entertaining and even a bit unpredictable. Well, sort of. There’s a creepily obsessed Anthropology professor who will stop at nothing to get evidence of the existence of the Sasquatch, even risking the lives of his annoying students (who all look about 10-15 years too old for college, at least) to get it. With a fresh batch of idiots in tow, our fearless leader takes his crew to an isolated island wilderness where his ponytailed pal, (who owns the island I guess, do professors really make that much money?), holds court on the subject of local Yeti sightings. Things seem fishy from the start, since the host, while encouraging his friend’s obsession also seem strangely detached from it all. He’s more interested in bossing around his “Native American” assistant Laughing Crow (who’s obviously just some New Jersey meathead sporting an “Indian” headband) who he claims “takes good care of him”. Hmmmm, I bet he does. Befitting a film from the maker of so many perverse 1960s soft-core epics, SHRIEK does have a hint, just a hint, an underlying current, of kinky weirdness. There’s not really any overt sexuality in the movie (a shame since one of the chick students is quite the busty little looker), but there is an almost unhealthy subtext, the whole plot seems to be a masked reference to a kink-filled sexual underworld and its beastly machinations. Or maybe not.

Then there’s the Beast itself. And what a monster it is! Absolutely the most stupid, ridiculous fuzzy-bodied Animalman this side of TURKISH STAR WARS is unleashed upon our dim-bulb co-eds and lots of really fake looking bloodshed enthusiastically ensues. Most of the time the Yeti is seen in just-out-of-focus long shot, disappearing into the haunted woods. It’s almost effective. Close-ups of the creature towards the end tend to break up the magick but offer up a moose-load of unintentional guffaws to more than make up for the lack of any real terror on display. Of course all the mysterious and suspicious behavior reveals a somewhat obvious plot-twist, but that twist is itself twisted and the conclusion works over your expectations with the unveiling of a sinister plot of an International Secret and Ancient Order of Satanic Hippie Cannibals. While the prettiest and most idealistic of our young students meet a particularly bummer of a conclusion at the hands of the slathering mute (Or is he?) idiot Indian Laughing Crow, who is definitely the only character who you end up caring about in this silly little potboiler. And that’s only because, again, he’s obviously just some Italian musclehead hired at the last minute because he was willing to undergo the humiliations the role required. What a good sport.

Not the best horror movie you’ll ever see by a long shot, but it is maybe the best Yeti-Witchcult-Doomed-Co-ed movie directed by a legend of New York Roughie Cinema you’re likely to come across. Michael Findlay was a genuinely talented film-maker although this is not his best hour and a half. He would dredge his way through the hardcore porn world for a few years after this oddity before meeting an unfortunate end in a helicopter accident while planning a 3-D Kung Fu movie in Hong Kong. While THE CURSE OF HER FLESH or ULTIMATE DEGENERATE are far preferable to this greasy little celluloid morsel, enough of his talent for underhanded perversity shines through that it emerges as a fun and severely peculiar evening’s worth of grubby entertainment. Dig in, though it might get a little messy. Not to mention furry.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Images below are NOT Work-Safe!!!

These were the good old days.
Below is a selection of beautiful covers of some obscure French erotic film magazine.
Their interview subjects read like an all-star line-up of current Euro-cult film gods (Franco, Rollin, Benazeraf, etc.), plus naked pics of the hottest of Euro-cult Goddess-babes.
Thanks to Andras at the Laternia forums for pointing them out to us.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Another goodie from the Mondo Macabro YouTube page.
Can't wait to see this!
Looks a lot better than any recent American gore films!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Directed by Ratno Timoer
Indonesia; 1988

REVENGE OF NINJA is a fairly obscure entry in the rather insane world of 80s Indonesian cinema fantistique and is not mentioned in either of the MONDO MACABRO or FEAR WITHOUT FRONTIERS books. It has only now come to our attention via the tireless film obscurity excavations of Shocking Videos. And we are ever thankful for the wonderful work they do. REVENGE is pretty wild. Though it does feature some boring patches, the movie sports some extraordinarily weird set-pieces and some rather impressive Martial Arts moves. Overall it’s as fine an example of Asian Kung-fu/Black-magic Film as you’re likely to see. If you can find it, that is.

Barry Prima stars as … well, I’m not really sure. He’s a muscle-bound martial-artist whose hot martial-artist girlfriend is asked by a White Magician to hold onto a magic amulet, so as to keep it out of the hands of some wicked evil criminal gangs who dress like rejects from a 80s Italian ROAD WARRIOR rip. Why the White Magician doesn’t just hold onto it himself is never really explained. And that is pretty much the entirety of the plot. Beyond that, the characters are not really fleshed out and I’m not even sure I caught any of their names much less could offer up a description of the inner workings of their development in the story. After that there are just fights, magic, fights, magic, witches, zombies, an indestructible ninja, disco, fights, magic and fights. Pretty fun, actually. Prima is his usual bad-ass self but seems distracted and vacant throughout. You see a lot of the usual Indonesian character actors that often populate these offbeat pulp cinema offerings and the whole thing feels familiar even as it warps your mind with its individual qualities.

While not nearly as far-out as such irrational classics as MYSTICS IN BALI or SNAKE QUEEN, REVENGE has a lot to offer. In one scene the indestructible ninja dude (I guess this is the NINJA of the title which is otherwise completely nonsensical) kills an evil hunchback henchman by sadistically crushing his hunch underneath his superhumanly strong boot. And the magic scenes throughout are marvels of colorful and cheap visual effects that amuse and amaze at their simultaneous cheesiness and vision. Add to that wall-to-wall Prima-Fu action and you’ve got the recipe for an awesome and silly Asian cinema spectacle. I still can’t remember any of the names of the characters though. I’m not even sure that they had names.

Print provided by Shocking Videos.

Available for rent at Scarecrow Video!


The latest from the Mondo Macabro YouTube page.
The movie itself is just as if not more wild than this.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Worldweird DVD News Roundup!

Here's a quick tour through the upcoming DVD releases of cool, weird international cult films announced of late, many hits here we think:


As a weary sailor named Jan (Matthieu Carrière) sets foot on dry land, he is mysteriously abducted and awakens in the isolated mansion of Malpertuis. There, he is reunited with his sister Nancy (Susan Hampshire) and an eclectic group of distant relatives, each summoned by his dying uncle Quentin Cassavius (Orson Welles). Cassavius wishes to will all of his heirs an equal portion of his fortune. However, in return, each must honor his dying request: They are to remain within Malpertuis for the rest of their lives, the last couple to marry.

Trapped on the grounds of the sprawling mansion, Jan investigates as those who try to flee are dispatched in peculiar ways. Jan slowly spirals into madness as he realizes his uncle’s true intent and the nightmare world of Malpertuis takes hold.

Based on the classic fantasy novel by Belgian author Jean Ray, Malpertuis was director Harry Kümel’s follow up to the acclaimed Daughters of Darkness. Barrel Entertainment is proud to present Kümel’s surrealist masterpiece in two distinct versions: The quickly-assembled English-language edit that premiered at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival, and the newly restored Dutch-language director’s cut — re-edited to 119 minutes as Kümel intended and presented here in a new high definition transfer.

Special Features include:

Disc 1:

* Malpertuis: Director’s Cut (1973; 119 minutes) Dutch language with removable English subtitles
* Audio commentary from director Harry Kümel
* Orson Welles Uncut, a 25-minute featurette containing rare outtakes footage of Welles during the filming of Malpertuis
* Susan Hampshire: One Actress, Three Parts, an 11-minute featurette containing new interviews with Hampshire

Disc 2:

* Malpertuis: Cannes Version (1972; 100 minutes)
* Reflections of Darkness: Del Valle on Kümel, a new 74-minute career-length interview with director Kümel by noted film journalist David Del Valle
* Jean Ray / John Flanders, a 7-minute featurette that delves into the fantastical world of the Belgian writer including archival interview footage
* Trailer

Plus liner notes from film historians David Del Valle and Ernest Mathijs

“Filmed in luscious color by Gerry Fisher and a with a haunting Georges Delerue score, Malpertuis is a dream film unlike any other, and can now be seen in its full glory.”
– David Thompson, B.F.I.

Malpertuis is at once totally delirious, and a marvel of control. It has to be seen to be believed – although see it and chances are, you still won’t believe it.”
– Jonathan Romney, The Independent on Sunday

Out on June 24th! We are really looking forward to this one!

From Deimos/BCI -


To salute this film revolution of a bygone era, BCI has developed a line of DVD double features that recreate the ephemeral experience of the Grindhouse theaters with a whole new, interactive DVD experience. Featuring back-to-back film presentations, complete with movie trailers and intermission commercials, you can now enjoy the exploitative nature of exclusively licensed, cult films in the comfort of your own home with “WELCOME TO THE GRINDHOUSE”.

Black Candles
Carol and her boyfriend Paul travel to England after the unexpected death of her brother. Once there she finds out her sister-in-law is involved in a satanic cult and she finds out that Paul is being drawn into the cult.
New Anamorphic Widescreen transfer
Starring Helga Line (Loreley’s Grasp) and Vanessa Hidalgo.
Directed by cult filmmaker Jose Ramon Larraz (Vampyres)
Not Rated – 85 minutes – 1983 - Color

Evil Eye (Il Malocchio)
Peter Crane is having nightmares about murdering someone. His psychiatrist Doctor Stone has him hospitalized for being unable to differentiate between dream and reality. Soon people start turning up dead at the hospital. Is Peter really a killer or is there something more sinister at foot.
Starring Richard Conte (The Godfather), Anthony Steffen (The Night Evelyn Came Out of Her Grave) and Pilar Velasquez
NR – 89 minutes – 1974

Trailers: Pick up , Legend of the Eight Samurai, Burnout , Sister Street Fighter

New Anamorphic Widescreen transfers!

More Jose Larraz on DVD is always a good thing, even if it's one that the director himself completely disowns. Again, can't wait!

From Dark Sky, here's the details on the previously mentioned WHO CAN KILL A CHILD DVD and the lowdown on the wonderfully cheesy looking Italian 80s Vietman flick rip THE LAST HUNTER dropping the same day. Dig, it:

Who can contemplate the unimaginable?
Who can face the unthinkable?

On a vacation away from their family, Tom (Lewis Fiander, of DR. JEKYLL & SISTER HYDE) and his pregnant wife Evelyn (FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD’s Prunella Ransome) sail to an island off the coast of Spain that seems deserted… until its children emerge from the shadows with the blood of their parents on their hands… and hatred in their hearts for every adult.

Unflinchingly horrific and unapologetically downbeat, Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? was heavily censored for its American release in 1976 as ISLAND OF THE DAMNED. Dark Sky Films is proud to present the complete film, uncut and uncensored, for its long overdue American DVD debut.

Special Features:

"Who Can Shoot A Child” -- featurette w/ cinematographer José Luis Alcaine
-"Child Director" w/ director Narciso Ibáñez Serrador
- still gallery

War is Hell... and to carry out his top secret mission, one soldier will make a deal with the Devil.

Italian frightmaster Antonio Margheriti (Cannibal Apocalypse) turned to the horrors of war for this explosive action film set near the end of the Vietnam conflict.

Following the grisly suicide of his shellshocked friend, Captain Harry Morris (David Warbeck, The Beyond) accepts one final mission: to go behind enemy lines and destroy a Viet Cong radio tower broadcasting anti-American propaganda to US troops.

Aided by a ragtag squadron of commandos and shadowed by a beautiful photojournalist (Tisa Farrow, Zombie), Morris carries out his search and destroy mission with extreme prejudice, straight into the heart of darkness.

Made in the wake of the success of THE DEER HUNTER and shot on Philippine locations left over from APOCALYPSE NOW, THE LAST HUNTER is an over-the-top example of Italian exploitation filmmaking at its most shameless... and unforgettable.

In Blue Underground news, a recent interview with label head honcho Bill Lustig has laid out plans for what will most likely be their swan song of releases. But they've got some awesome stuff waiting in the wings:

THE STENDAHL SYDROME (2 Disc Special Edition)
LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE (2 Disc Special Edition)
and four (count 'em!) Four New Jess Franco DVDs!

Fucking excellent! But sad too, cause BU was one of the very best.

And here's some Amazing Asian Sickness from Discotek!


Stunning 70's cult siren Meiko Kaji, star of the LADY SNOWBLOOD, FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION and STRAY CAT ROCK films, blasts off in her first headlining role! A novice yakuza boss in early 20th century Japan, she must defend her clan against a vengeful blind swordswoman (Hoki Tokuda), her bizarre hunchback servant (Tatsumi Hijikata), as well as villain Toru Abe’s gang of bloodthirsty killers.

Director Teruo Ishii (FEMALE YAKUZA TALE, HORROR OF MALFORMED MEN) delivers a bizarre hybrid of Japanese horror and yakuza genres featuring a nomadic terror carnival, girls skinned alive for their tattooed epidermis, and a succession of brutal swordfights. Actress Kaji offers prime evidence of why she became the top female action star of 1970's Japan. One of the key cult films from Nikkatsu, the studio that also released the unforgettable, offbeat hit TOKYO DRIFTER.

* NTSC Region 1
* Japanese with English Subtitles
* Anamorphic Widescreen 2:35
* Trailer and Photo Gallery
* Commentary


The late-'90s Hong Kong gross-out 'classic' that gets a hard Category 3 when Category 3 films still promised gore and sex. A man gets the ebola virus and is determined to spread it to as many others as possible (and often through forced sexual contact). Meanwhile, he begins to rot away. No detail is spared.

* NTSC Region 1
* Anamorphic Widescreen
* Cantonese with English Subtitles
* Interview
* Commentary
* Deleted Scenes!!!

To wrap things up, just a reminder the DVD release of the year (or maybe of the decade, or maybe even in the entire history of the medium), the Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky Box Set is coming very, very soon - on May 1st! Six discs - EL TOPO, THE HOLY MOUNTAIN, FANDO Y LIS, LA CRAVATE (Jodo's first film once thought to be lost), plus soundtrack cds for both TOPO and MOUNTAIN and a ton of other extras! Great Goddess! Almost too good to be true!

And in book news, FAB Press has a batch of very intersting looking books coming out soon (and that's in addition to the amazing NIGHTMARE USA book we talked about some weeks ago). Here's the rad lineup:

A VIOLENT PROFESSIONAL: The Films of Luciano Rossi
by Kier-La Janisse

Italian cinema's tough-guy specialist explodes into action. A must-have for fans of '70s macho cinema!

With nearly seventy films under his belt, almost exclusively in the colourful, controversial and eye-catching realm of Italian exploitation, character actor Luciano Rossi (1934-2005) remains one of Italian cinema's unsung heroes. But while always memorable, until now he has existed only as a footnote in most Italian-focused film criticism, even in the work of ardent fans of the exploitation genre. By luck or judgement, Rossi made appearances in many of the greatest low-budget films ever to come out of Italy, working in all the popular genres, from spaghetti westerns, mafia shockers and horror films to cop thrillers, sexploitation, and every conceivable brand of bizarre Euro exploitation.

One would be hard-pressed to find a fan of spaghetti westerns or 1970s Italian crime films who isn't immediately gratified by Rossi's presence in any given film. Rossi gets brutalized more regularly and more spectacularly than any of his supporting counterparts, whether it's at the flaming fists of Maurizio Merli or via blowtorch to the nether regions courtesy of Klaus Kinski - and he deals it as furiously as he takes it.

A Violent Professional is the first book to fully examine the career of Luciano Rossi - complete with a brief biography and first-hand reviews of all of his known film roles - and stands proudly as a long-awaited appraisal of this dynamic actor's immeasurable contribution to Italian cinema.

This stunningly designed full-colour book is an absolute feast for the senses; hundreds of ultra-rare posters, pressbooks, stills and artwork have been put together to form an innovative and eye-opening package oozing with style, and every bit as dramatic as the classic films discussed in its pages.

Films covered include truly great Italian cult movies such as Django, They Call Me Trinity, Return of Sabata, Death Walks in High Heels, So Sweet So Dead, The Bloody Hands of the Law, Death Carries a Cane, Death Smiles At Murder, The Violent Professionals, Red Light Girls, Violent Rome, Emanuelle's Revenge, Salon Kitty, SS Experiment Camp, Violent Naples, Red Nights of the Gestapo, Contraband, City of the Living Dead, and many, many more!

'Kier-La Janisse, the first lady of euro-trash, has put together THE definitive work on Luciano Rossi. Ms. Janisse captures his mercurial oddness in text and pictures as only someone devoted to art and trash could. BUY THIS BOOK.'
- Craig Ledbetter, European Trash Cinema

'Luciano Rossi is one of the most identifiable and yet little known faces in Italian genre cinema. Kier-La Janisse's book is invaluable, both for its focus on Rossi and for the fascinating journey it takes us through the changing landscape of Italian popular cinema.'
- Pete Tombs, Mondo Macabro

Out May 14th, 2007!

CINEMA SEWER: The Adults Only Guide to History Sickest and Sexiest Movies!
by Robin Bougie, et al

The ultimate guide to the wildest excesses of grindhouse movies and beyond... Get Ready to Be Flushed!

The celebrated underground smash that is Cinema Sewer the magazine has been transformed and mutated into CINEMA SEWER: THE BOOK - and it's here to defile readers' souls while they giggle and shriek like gibbons!

A mind-melting compilation of gonzo writing, illustration and comics about the most insane, sexy, awkward, cheesy, hilarious, upsetting and jaw-dropping movies in the history of film, Cinema Sewer joyously celebrates the sleaziest aspects of the moviegoing experience, whilst delving deep into bizarre cinematic history.

Author and comic artist Robin Bougie takes a dive to the bottom of the cesspool of sexploitation, doing so in a distinctive manner that has made him famous amongst a loyal following of cult film fans. If anything, Cinema Sewer acts as Robin's handmade journal, preserving the DIY 'zine aesthetic and carrying it kicking and screaming into the future via articles packed with bizarre trivia and personal insights about the movies your mama always warned you about.
The best of the first twelve long-out-of-print issues of the magazine have been exhaustively revised and collected here, along with almost 100 pages of never-before-seen interviews, rants, comics, hard-to-find classic movie advertising, and graphic illustrations by Bougie and a host of his talented friends from both the comic book and animation industry. Regardless of whether the reader is just discovering the world of classic porn, horror, and exploitation movies, or if they're a long time fan from the days when the drive-ins and grindhouses reigned, they'll find plenty to get excited about, gleefully sloshing around in the filth of the Cinema Sewer!

'Great illustrations, trivia tidbits and lots more round out this most indispensable movie 'zine.'
- Broken Pencil Magazine

'The best obsessive porn-horror-kitch themed movie 'zine!'
- The Georgia Straight

'What sets (Cinema Sewer) apart is that even though the coverage is of the most insane, grotesque, repellant smut around, Bougie's writing never seems to pander... it is a refreshing approach.'
- Neon Madness magazine

Out June 2007!

NO BORDERS, NO LIMITS: Nikkatsu Action Cinema
by Mark Schilling

Nikkatsu Action - the film genre that brought the West to the East - and taught a whole generation the Japanese meaning of cool!

Nikkatsu is the oldest studio in Japan. In 1954 however, when it restarted production after a twelve-year gap, it was the new kid on the block, and had to learn new ways to survive in the brutally competitive Japanese film market. In 1956 it found salvation in Yujiro Ishihara, a hot new star who was Japan's Elvis Presley and James Dean rolled into one singing, brawling, long-legged package. To showcase Ishihara, it launched a new genre called Nikkatsu Action.

Made by a fresh crop of talented directors in their twenties and early thirties, including Seijun Suzuki, Toshio Masuda and Koreyoshi Kurahara, and featuring young stars like Ishihara, Joe Shishido, Akira Kobayashi and Keiichiro Akagi, Nikkatsu Action defined cool for a generation. Drawing inspiration from Hollywood and the French New Wave, Nikkatsu Action pictures blended East and West, movie-fueled fantasies and gritty realities of life in postwar Japan, from the hot jazz clubs and glam cabarets of the Ginza to the foggy loneliness - and danger - of the Yokohama docks at midnight.

As the 1950s gave way to the 1960s, Nikkatsu moved with the times, going Pop with a bang in films like Yasuharu Hasebe's Black Tights Killers and Suzuki's Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill, while raising a new crop of stars like Tetsuya Watari, Tatsuya Fuji and Meiko Kaji - the fiery, take-no-nonsense star of the Stray Cat Rock series. The end came in 1971, when the studio switched to a new genre it called Nikkatsu Roman Porno - but the Nikkatsu Action legacy lives on.

No Borders, No Limits: Nikkatsu Action Cinema is the first book in English devoted entirely to Nikkatsu Action. Packed with illustrations, including amazing rare Japanese posters, all in full colour, plus many previously unseen stills direct from the Nikkatsu archive, this book includes a history of the studio, profiles of stars and directors, film reviews and career interviews with Joe Shishido, Toshio Masuda and Seijun Suzuki.

'An excellent introduction to a vastly overlooked but crucial chapter in the history of Japanese film.'
- Midnight Eye

Out July 2007!

We're getting all these. You should too.


Directed by Yavuz Yalinkilic/Directed by Mehmet Aslan
Starring Aytekin Akkaya/Starring Yildirim Cencer
Turkey; 1970/1972
Available from Onar Films!

The Digital Video Gods, having seen fit to lay a BOLLYWOOD HORROR DOUBLE FEATURE on us last year have now in all their wisdom offered us mere viewing mortals a TURKISH HORROR DOUBLE FEATURE and to be sure, it is a weird and wooly evening’s worth of wild entertainment. While the Indian film industry had an honest-to-goodness horror film boom (the so called “doom boom” in fact) from which to pull any number of weirdo morsels for the Mondo Macabro series, Turkey has only ever produced a handful of films that could really be heralded under the banner of “horror”. Two of those obscure few are presented here, and you really should soak ‘em up, as there are not many more out there to be absorbed. While the late 70s film SEYTAN (a.k.a TURKISH EXORCIST) has gotten all the attention from cult film archivists in the west, these two oddball numbers are, in my opinion, far more deserving of cult fan attention. They are disjointed, cheap and utterly ridiculous examples of the Turkish “can-do” cinematic attitude. Made in the face of wide indifference and even outright ridicule, these treasures are ripe and vivid, with a retarded sensibility that nearly borders on the visionary. You can’t really call them successful movies from any sort of conventional film-crit perspective, but it’s that very haphazard “non-classic” air about them that makes them seem special, unique. Like something that, if you held it too long, might crumble to dust in your hands.

Onar Films went through a trial of nearly Biblical proportions in order to get you this astonishing and rare video treat. The details are unimportant, but it should be mentioned, as this was a true labor of love for something that at best has a limited appeal to the worldwide DVD market. But for those of us who horde such amazing artifacts as this, it couldn’t be any more welcome. As ever for Turkish cinema, the elements from which the DVD would be made were decidedly not of the best preserved quality. Onar does what it can and in this case, they’ve done a pretty fuckin awesome job. THE DEAD DON’T TALK in particular looks quite fine (relatively of course), being sourced from an old theatrical print which had been gathering dust for aeons in an Istanbul warehouse and not some old VHS master like most of the Turkish stuff we get (this would be represented here by the materials for THIRSTY FOR LOVE, SEX AND MURDER). So it has that going for it. But it’s really kind of a miracle this exists at all. In fact this film (DEAD DON’T TALK) was at one time considered “lost” and much-missed as it is, as stated above, one of the few true horror films made by the Anatolian film biz during it heyday (if you can call it that). This is its Worldwide Home Video Premiere, and we couldn’t be more exited at it arrival here on our shores. I read about this movie some time ago in the FEAR WITHOUT FRONTIERS book from FAB Press and have coveted it ever since. Thank you Onar! So how is the film itself? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I had previously seen THIRSTY FOR LOVE SEX AND MURDER and marveled at its uncanny aura and cheapskate sleaziness. So this DVD presentation of it is most welcome in the Worldweird Household. THIRSTY is a twisty, turn-y Turkish giallo. More specifically it seems indebted to the 70s thriller films of the great Italian director Sergio Martino. Even more specifically it is more or less a remake of that director’s masterpiece THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH. Well, more than less actually. You could even call it THE TURKISH STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH if you wanted to. It is basically a scene-by-scene remake of the classic thriller. And it doesn’t come close to capturing the lurid poetry of that, Martino’s best film (in my opinion). So it’s just a boring third world re-tread right? Why not just watch the original again, right? WRONG! THIRSTY takes the plot and set-pieces of STRANGE VICE and warps them, stretches them out into an almost pure cinematic abstraction. While it’s a totally failure at creating tension, suspense or any sort of strong emotional quality at all, it is a complete success in just being so freaking odd you can barely believe what you’re watching. As usual, the film’s soundtrack is plundered from Italian film scores, but here they are placed almost at random, with different musical cues spliced together in almost Burroughsian fashion, creating a delirious, whirlwind atmosphere that burrows it way though you unbelieving ears and into your now-permanently damaged brain. It keeps you off-balanced and unsure, even as the familiar plot unfolds more or less faithful to its source. There are some differences between this film and it’s inspiration, as the plot is simplified and leaves room for it’s own audiences expectations, like turning the somber final twist conclusion of the original into an all out fisticuffs brawl.

But the plot and it machinations are so beside the point. THIRSTY and it’s talented director Mehmet Aslan (director of many of the astonishing TARKAN films), seem to be more interested in weirdness and sleaziness than plot or characterization. Arguably the original is also only concerned with these points, but as in many Turkish films, these points of interest just totally take over. An uneasy dreaminess subsumes you and conjures unreal images, conflating dream and reality and subverting (probably by accident) the very form of the giallo thriller genre. And so, almost alchemically, we have this film, built essentially on another film but pulling at its elements until it breaks and bursts into something totally unique and baffling. Giallo fans and completists, you won’t be disappointed I assure you.

Now for the lost gem THE DEAD DON’T TALK. Honestly I don’t care much for the old fashioned gothic chiller type of horror film. Spooks, creaky doors, wind through the shudders, spectral visions – eh, feh. But these forms are here crystallized into a abstract facsimile of the gothic horror, it never puts you on your feet, never allows the gothic clichés to ground your experience watching the film, never succumbs to the dull mechanics which have usually put me off these kinds of movies in the past. I don’t know if it’s an intentional approach or sheer ineptitude of the technical challenges involved which have created this utterly baffling atmosphere. But then I hardly think it matters. The plot is beyond confused. A couple arrive in a sleepy Anatolian burg are taken by a brash and somewhat odd coachman to a seemingly abandoned mansion. The reasons for any of these actions are left totally obscure. Logical procession of the narrative is hardly the strong point of this film (or any Turkish film I’ve seen for that matter), but instead of hampering it, it hurtles the movie towards being a totally individual viewing experience not only in spite of it’s narrative indifference, but because of it. Great exploitation films often work this way. Work in ways that more mainstream film-makers and audiences would find abhorrent. Which is what makes them so interesting to those of us willing to “go with the flow” with these rare and flawed celluloid treasures.

Anyway the plot unfolds. That’s about all I can say about it. The couple from the beginning of the film don’t really feature in the main plot, which involves a menacing ghost who arises on the 15th of every month to kill young ladies. Pretty girls perpetually clad in nightgowns, zombie schoolteachers, Koran-bearing hunters and the most insane and incessant diabolical laughter you’ve ever been subjected to involve most of the rest of the films briefrunning time. “Time” itself is an interesting feature of viewing this movie. It seems to disappear within the creaking labyrinth of the story. Characters wander aimlessly, slowly and the editing scheme only enforces the “lost-time” dimension of the film, flipping randomly between events upping the supernatural elements of the film while utterly warping the more conventional aspects. “Dream-like” might sound like a cliché in regards to this kind of movie, but it achieves the uncanny uncertainty of dreams effortlessly, though by design or by budgetary and talent limitations is left open to debate. Some will find this film to boring. Indeed it seems that not much really happens through most of the running time and the things that do hardly make sense. But that’s the gift these movies bring. If you open yourself up to the odd, dreamy momentum of this or other low-budget films of its ilk, you will uncover a different method of involving yourself as an audience member, a method which engages the more unconscious aspects of you critical apparatus. Horror and exploitation films seem especially suited to this bizarre, almost occult interaction, even more so when they hail from a culture with different values and concerns and compounded with the poverty level budgets which while limiting the “believability” of the movie increase the strange “otherness” which seduces the intuitive, dare-I-say magical part of your brain. Engaging it head on, when for most of your day it lays dormant, awaiting unique experience to activate it. Not bad for something considered useless trash just a few years ago, huh?
Cheap entertainment as weirdfilm sorcery. It doesn’t get any better for me.

As mentioned above, and as with most Turkish films available, the video and audio quality are always going to be compromised by the ravages of time and indifference. Here we have two of the better preserved examples however, and there are surely the most watchable Turkish films on DVD since Mondo Macabro’s TURKISH POP CINEMA disc a couple of years ago. THIRSTY suffers the most, being sourced from an old VHS master which seems itself to have been sourced from a fairly worn theatrical print. BUT it still looks pretty great, considering. The sound levels fluctuate wildly at times, and there are many print lines and speckling throughout, but the colors are fairly strong and the image quite sharp despite it’s humble, compromised origins. DEAD fairs much, much better. While there were no negative from which to strike a fresh print, an old barely used theatrical print was found and while not perfect it looks the best of any of the films Onar has released thus far.

And there’s a plethora of extras as well. Interviews are featured with Turkish cinema experts Metin Demirhan and Giovanni Scognamillo, who cover almost identical ground though their interviews, basically an overview of the few legitimate horror films made in Turkey from the 1940s up until the very US and Japanese inspired flicks of the last few years (unfortunately the clips they showed of these movies looked uniformly terrible to me). Interesting but neither one mentions anything about THIRSTY which is a real shame. I wanted to know more about this odd little film nugget. Scognamillo’s interview gets more interesting towards the end when he talks about working with legendary directors Ricardo Freda, Umberto Lenzi and Jess Franco when they came to make films in Turkey. Lenzi is appartenly something of a dick. Oh well, his movies are cool. Aytekin Akkaya is also given a thourough interview covering his entire career but this too is treading the same familiar ground as the interview feature on Onar’s 3 DEV ADAM disc from last year, but he’s charming and there are some great clip and images of lobby cards from his movie edited into the featurette. The professional quality of the interviews is a major step up from those on previous Onar DVDs. You can tell a lot of heartfelt work went into them (and the disc as a whole), so major props must be given. Beyond that we get brief, informative bios and more or less complete filmographies of the directors of each film Mehmet Aslan (THIRSTY) and Yavuz Yalinkilic (DEAD) and colorful and fun image galleries featuring very rare lobby cards and posters for these two films and other Turkish Horror items like SEYTAN and DRACULA IN ISTANBUL as well as a gallery of Addaya film promo items which are totally boss as well. To wind things up there’s a handful of Onar trailers for some of their upcoming releases.

This is one hell of a DVD. The movies are amazing, the presentation the best we are ever likely to see of these films and this might just be the only time these cinematic obscurities will ever see the DVD light of day. This disc is limited to 1200 copies and when they’re gone I can hardly imagine anyone will ever go through this much trouble to release them again. So savor this moment, this magickal, unreal moment of pure filmic delight. Collectors of worldwide video weirdness cannot possibly pass this up and the “worldweird” curious are encouraged to just take a damn chance and grasp this hot little number to your warm, welcoming bosom. These films deserve a home, your home and to rest deep in the hearth of your weirdness loving hearts.
Go! And! Buy! It! Now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!