Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Short Film: The Nose (France, 1963)


Much like Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450 – 9 Aug 1516) is now seen as an early (if unwitting) surrealist painter, the Ukrainian-born writer Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (31 March 1809 – 4 March 1852) is now often referred to — at least in the West — as an early father of surrealist literature. (In Russia, he's considered a founder of literary realism — go figure.) We never managed to make it through Gogol's classic novel Dead Souls, but for that we have always enjoyed his drily satirical, macabre short stories like The Overcoat and The Nose. Especially the latter features one of the most inanely surreal literary concepts to precede that of a guy waking up one morning as a cockroach (see: Kafka, The Metamorphosis [trailer to the 2012 Canadian film version]). In The Nose, a barber awakens to find a nose in his bread and, in turn, a client of his wakes up to find out that his nose is gone… and that it has also taken on a life of its own.

"The use of a nose as the main source of conflict in the story could have been due to Gogol's own experience with an oddly shaped nose, which was often the subject of self-deprecating jokes in letters. The use of iconic landmarks in the story, as well as the sheer absurdity of the story, has made The Nose an important part of St. Petersburg's literary tradition. [Wikipedia]"

 
Above: An example of Alexander Alexeieff's work:
Bedroom for Bouddha Vivant (print available at Galerie Seru)

In 1963, the Russian-born artist, filmmaker and illustrator Alexandre Alexeieff (18 April 1901 – 9 Aug 1982) and his American-born 2nd wife Claire Parker (31 Aug 1906 – 3 Oct 1981) created a short film version of the tale using a technique they themselves invented: pinscreen animation. Indeed, the two even invented the technological device with which to make the films, the pinscreen, or Écran d'épingles (patent registered 1935 in the name of Claire Parker), "a vertically-mounted grid of 240,000 sliding metal rods that are first manually pushed into position to create lit and shaded areas, then filmed frame by frame. [Wikipedia]"
"The Nose is a divine bit of nonsense that is better if one does not attempt to make sense of its absurdity and dream logic. (That hasn't stopped academics from trying, including the usual, tedious Freudians. But, hey, who am I to interfere with someone's livelihood?) The story is simplified considerably in this version and a subplot about Major Kovalyov's flirting ways is cut entirely but that is understandable given that the film is silent and without intertitles. [Fritzi Kramer @ Movie Silently]" (As they say in German, "Wie die Nase eines Mannes, so sein Johannes.")
Talent, by the way, seems to have run in the Alexeieff family: Alexeieff's daughter Svetlana Alexeieff-Rockwell is a successful painter and illustrator, and her son (his grandson), [Charles] Alexandre Rockwell, is an independent filmmaker — he did the segment The Wrong Man in Four Rooms (1995 / trailer), among other things.
We here at A Wasted Life first caught this short decades ago at art school, where it bowled us over. The story, great, and the visuals absolutely beautiful — a cavalcade of images that would work, artistically, on their own if removed from the source and presented as solo pieces. Achieved by a painstakingly slow process of moving the pins on a pinboard, one by one. All the more amazing when you consider that they didn't work with advance sketches or drawings, creating each frame one at a time. It is hardly surprising that the duo only ever made six short films. (That said, the duo saw no difference between "artistic" and "commercial" work and created up to 41 adverting shorts, many using the technique.)
Recently we rediscovered this undeservedly obscure short on YouTube — enjoy!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Amphibious 3D (Netherlands / Indonesia 2010)

Five years after the less than notable Spanish horror movie Beneath Still Waters (2005), Brian Yuzna dusted off his pen, checkbook, megaphone and folding chair to write, produce and direct a less than truly notable Dutch-Asian horror movie that is, at least, both less of a fiasco and more enjoyable than the turkey preceding it. The biggest flaws are, as always in Yuzna's case, not directorially based: in all his movies, Yuzna generally has a good eye and knows how to use the camera in a way that keeps the action flowing, the tension present, and the viewer interested. No, as normal, the flaws are in the narrative itself, which, as seems common for him at this stage of his career, is less than optimal. Likewise, once again the overall lack of thespian ability of many of the people onscreen is sorely visible.
At the core of its exotically located heart, Amphibious is basically an old-fashioned monster movie with exotic, extra trimmings — "creature feature fusion", so to speak. Were someone like Eugène Lourié (8 April 1903 – 26 May 1991) or Jack Arnold (14 Oct 1916 – 17 March 1992) to rise from their grave(s) today to make a full-color, CGI-heavy, somewhat gory, 3-D monster movie in Asia, it might look something like Amphibious. So if you have a penchant for monster movies along the lines of Arnold's Tarantula (1955 / trailer) or Lourié's Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953 / trailer), you might find yourself mildly enjoying this movie despite yourself. It is stupid, it is clumsy, it is almost predictable, but it is also oddly charming and watchable, even as it often induces you to laugh at places where you shouldn't. And the ending is sort of a gross, unexpected kick in the gut, which is definitely a plus point. 
In its broadest sense, Amphibious is about an unbelievable and hot biologist* with the cutest of European accents, Dr. Skyler Shane (Janna Fassaert), who hires the crusty American boatman, Jack Bowman (Michael Paré), to boat around some Indonesian waters looking for something and who ends up getting involved with a deadly gang of smugglers based on a mid-water fishing platform as well as a deadly underwater monster when she tries to save an enslaved child named Tamal (Monica Sayangbati of Pulau hantu aka Ghost Island [2007 / trailer] and Mati Suri aka Comatose [2009 / trailer]). A lot more happens, of course, but the bare-bones plot just given is basically what drives all the death and gore and suspense of the movie — all of which is given desperately needed support by the exotic location. 
* How hot and how unbelievable is Dr. Shane? Well, the only less-believable scientist to hit the silver screen is, probably, the not-half-as-hot Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) of the 1999 James Bond movie, The World Is Not Enough (trailer).


Released in the Netherlands in 2010, Amphibious disappeared more quickly than a dissatisfied one-night stand. Today, it is easily available on DVD, but maybe you should save the money. Heralded as the first 3-D Dutch production, the movie looks less like it was shot in 3-D than subsequently converted from 2-D, and while more than enough shots play with the 3-D depth of vision — a toilet death, a scene in which Skyler sort of freaks out during a religious ceremony on the street, and the final scene all come immediately to mind — the overall quality of the 3-D is primitive and eye-straining enough that one is warned to go for the 2-D version. We, for one, would seriously say that but for the freak-out scene, the 3-D effects brought nada to the movie.
In regard to the acting, as mentioned it is generally pretty abysmal. Michael Paré (of Bloodrayne: The Third Reich [2011], Ninja Cheerleaders [2008], Bad Moon [1996] and Village of the Damned [1995] and so much more) is a shining example of true thespian talent in comparison to the rest of the cast, and his character-appropriate sun tan is probably the best indicator of what in all probability made this movie project attractive to him — aside from the paycheck, that is. (Who can say "No" to a paid vacation?) The problem with Jack, the figure Paré plays, however, is that the figure's actual character is inconsistent: he veers from self-centered to heroic to self-sacrificing at such speed that one could well believe he has multiple personalities. Worse — although good for a fit of laughter — at one point, the story has such little use for him that it literally leaves him stranded on a floating boat with a dead engine watching all the action on the fishing platform from afar. 
Once the movie goes into action mode, Janna Fassaert is never as convincing as her accent is endearing, which only becomes odd if you bother to watch her showreel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fq_w0GUGdPM, which indicates that she can act. But attractive she is, so she is always at least pleasant to watch — though it is with deep regret that while she does have a penchant for short shorts comparable to those of Dr. Christmas Jones, she also leaves her clothes on throughout the movie, never even getting down to something as innocuous a one-piece bathing suit. 
That said, Amphibious does open with a pre-narrative interlude of a typical, backpacking party-tourist couple, Julie (Elke Salverda) and Logan (Timo Ottevanger), which ends in death and gore soon after a quick flash of Julie topless. And while such scenes are generally appreciated, in the case of Amphibious it seriously seems tacked on, as if the conscious decision was made to shoot a scene that could be added in countries that don't object to female nudity in movies. And while the interlude is precariously interwoven into the narrative, and obviously involves the same killer creature, it really has nothing to do with rest of the movie. (But in this day and age, maybe we shouldn't complain.)
As mentioned, Amphibious is a creature movie, and the creature of the movie — Eugène Lourié waves from the grave, here — is nothing less than a giant prehistoric undersea monster. And though one might initially scoff (if not burst out laughing) at the concept, much less sight, of a huge water-inhabiting scorpion, a creature we now know as tiny and living on land, the real primordial "scorpion" of yesteryear did indeed live in water, where it sat at the top of the food chain for millions of years. (An estimated 27 million, actually — a lot longer than mankind will ever survive. Hell, we'll be lucky if we survive the Trump administration.) Of course, the real prehistoric scorpion looked nothing like the killer critter of Amphibious, but does that really matter all that much? Is Robert Gordon's It Came from beneath the Sea [1955 / trailer] any less fun just because Ray Harryhausen's octopus has six arms instead of eight?
Though hardly a big step, Amphibious is nevertheless a noticeable step up from Yuzna's last directorial effort. It is entirely acceptable in a creature feature kind of way: a passable full color update of the B&W prehistoric monster flicks that the older generations used to catch on the local TV channels after school. The movie may not set its sights high or be all that demanding, but in regards to what it aspires to do and be, Amphibious manages to be better and more interesting than the average SyFy underwater and/or prehistoric monster cheapy — but then, is that really difficult to do?
But all truth told, if you're an old school monster-on-the-loose film fan, we would recommend you check out Tremors (1990) before this baby here. True, by now that flick is old enough to almost be old school, but it really works way better than Amphibious. As does Splinter (2007), for that matter, despite the minuscule size of its deadly critters. 
Amphibious is, in the end, good for a rainy day at best — and even then, only when it doesn't cost any dinero to watch.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Short Film: Neomorphus (Brazil, 2011)

Here's three-minute oddity by the Brazilian production company Animatorio. A mixture of stop motion with a dash of CGI, this nightmarish little short is a visual if twisted treat. We were too taken in by the sights to look for a theme, but a visit to the film's homepage reveals a theme indeed: "Transformation trough mutations stages. Evolution as a function gain is called neo-morphic. Imaginary creatures adapt into an Ecosystem and the transformation of these habitats for these creatures generates a fantastic cycle. The mutation symbolism is part of our experiences in that trajectory, changing places, finding a new spectrum, a new phase, evolving."

Monday, May 21, 2018

R.I.P.: Janine Reynaud, Part I, 1965-68


13 August 1930 - 30 January 2018

Last week Boot Hill announced the death of cult actress Janine Reynaud, a surprise to us here at A Wasted Life because we had assumed that she went to make bad films in the sky decades ago. But no, instead she passed away at the age of 87 on 30 January 2018 without notice or fanfare. How, we wonder, could that be? (Probably because when she went into retirement in 1978, she really retired.) 
True, she was no great actress, and in appearance was somewhat reminiscent of Amanda Lear but with worse skin, but especially as of 1968 she did make a variety of films worth watching, even if they haven't all aged that well. And that's why, though she is long gone, we here at A Wasted Life have decided on this belated career review.
Let's take a look at the movies of this former high fashion model who decided to become an actor…



Six Days a Week
(1965, writ. & dir. Luigi Comencini [8 June 1916 – 6 April 2007])
Original title: La Bugiarda. Possibly her debut film, Janine Reynaud plays the "real" Silvana — a fact that only makes sense if you know the movie's plot.
And what is the plot? Well: "Maria (Catherine Spaak of Cat o' Nine Tails [1971 / Italo trailer]) is a young beauty who is busy juggling three boyfriends (a count, a dentist and a student) at the same time. She manages this elaborate deception by impersonating her roommate Silvana (Reynaud), who is a real-life airline hostess. She lies to the count (Enrico Maria Salerno [18 Sept 1926 – 28 Feb 1994]) and the dentist (Marc Michel [10 Feb 1929 – 3 Nov 2016]) about her flight schedules and her whereabouts so she can spend three days a week with each of them. She spends the remaining day of the week with a student (Manuel Miranda), who thinks she is a fellow student named Maria. One day the news of the real Silvana's flight disappearance breaks out and she is presumed dead. Comedy and confusion ensure when Maria is forced to come up with a more elaborate scheme to cover her tracks and keep her boyfriends happy. [imdb]" For more about the movie, go to La Calda Vita.
Great soundtrack to
La Bugiarda:


 Mission to Caracas
(1965, dir. Raoul André [24 May 1916 – 4 Nov 1992])
Original title: Mission spéciale à Caracas. Janine Reynaud plays Véronique — she doesn't make it to the end of the movie. According to Cinemorgue, she is "shot to death by an enemy agent, using a gun hidden in a camera, on board an ocean liner".
Plot: "Parody spy thriller of attempts by French agents to discover plans for a nerve poison bomb which is about to cause war between France and Russia. [BFI]"
Eurotrash Cinema offers more details: "Roland Carey is special agent Becker, who's after a briefcase that rather cleverly disguises some secret documents. The documents are being smuggled aboard a cruise ship, as luck would have it. Based on Claude Rank's spy novel […]." We were unable to discern which novel.
At her official blog, Hammer actress Yvonne Monlaur (15 Dec 1939 – 18 April 2017, see Brides of Dracula [1960]), who plays Muriel in the movie, gives a full and extremely detailed plot summary and also mentions that "Mission to Caracas is probably not a great film. The plot summary […], with its awkwardness and naive narration, sometimes unintentionally funny, reflects the numerous problems which marked its shooting, one of the longest and most chaotic I've ever lived. We went on a cruise to Venezuela during the months of April, May and June. It was such a holiday for most of the team that we sometimes forgot we had a movie to shoot!"


A Desire to Die
(1965, dir. Duccio Tessari [11 Oct 1926 – 6 Sept 1994])
Original title: Una voglia da morire. Who knows what Raynard's part was in this obscure movie, as while one finds her across the web listed on the cast her character is never named. Director Tessari was a versatile and fun if now underappreciated and forgotten director and scriptwriter whose oeuvre includes working on the scripts of Mario Bava's Hercules in the Lost World (1961 / trailer), Sergio Corbucci's Goliath and the Vampires (1961 / trailer), and Leone's A Fistful of Dollars (1964).
Also directed by Duccio Tessari –
the Euro-blaxploitation flick
Three Tough Guys (1974):
The blog One Man & His Droid is the lone voice that knows this movie, writing: "In search of forgotten films. […] Una Voglia da Morire (1965) by the Genoese Duccio Tessari, a film shot for the most part in Arenzano, is a sarcastic attack on the cynicism and hypocrisy of middle-class Italians during the boom years which was banned on the grounds of obscenity, and when it was finally released didn't have a real distribution. Since then it has become an invisible film, forgotten by everyone. […] It starts off in Arenzano with the death of a prostitute (Regine Ohann) killed in the street, and then moves setting to the wealthy Milanese middle-classes. The murdered woman was the wearing shoes and underwear of a wealthy lady, a businessman (Raf Vallone [17 Feb 1916 – 31 Oct 2002]) from the Po Valley discovers in the newspaper that the license plate of the car involved belongs to his wife (Annie Giardot [25 Oct 1931 – 28 Feb 2011], of Mario Bava's Shock! [1973 / trailer]), […] and the truth slowly starts to come out: the wives of these two gentlemen had gone on holiday to Arenzano for a few days, started seducing men to relieve their boredom…"


La spia che viene dal mare
(1966, writ & dir Lamberto Benvenuti)
Supposedly aka The Spy Who Came from the Sea. Though the unknown Benvenuti directed — the first of his only three known movies — credit is given to "John O'Burges". Janine Reynaud plays bad gal Madame Lina, and even made it onto some of the posters to this obscure movie. Over at Cinemorgue, which is not sure if the death they speak of is in this movie or in Operation White Shark (1966, see directly below), they claim her character is "shot to death in a shoot-out as she gets out of her car on the beach".
According to the imdb, the lead of this spy movie, John Elliot, is the same John Elliot that played Det. Harlan in HGLewis's The Wizard of Gore (1970 / trailer). The mind boggles.
From the movie:
Possible plot of the movie: American intelligence agencies believe that that top US scientist Dr. Lindstrom will be assassinated during an upcoming scientific conference to be held in Geneva. After some investigation, the secret service discovers that the criminals may be based in the Republic of San Marino and so they send in an agent there. Agent 027 (Elliot), with the help of a colleague, finds out that the criminal's den is led by some guy and Madame Lina, the head of a fashion house. The story soon moves to Venice and then Geneva. Of course, in the end, the wicked die.


Operation White Shark
(1966, dir. Filippo Walter Ratti as "Stanley Lewis")
"Welcome to the low rent district. While Operation White Shark is colorful in places, it is clear that the filmmakers were working with a budget embarrassingly low even for Eurospy knockoffs. We're in for some third-rate spy action! […] This is one of those movies that has much unintentional humor in the dialog and situations. It will keep you rolling. Also, Robbie Poitevin provides an entertaining score that far outshines anything on the screen. [imdb]"
Original title: A.D.3 operazione squalo bianco. Reynaud has a meaty role as the Frida Braun of the Tattoo Club; her singing, obviously enough, was dubbed. Over at Cinemorgue, which is not sure if the death they speak of is in this movie or in The Spy Who Came from the Sea (1966, see directly above), they claim her character is "shot to death in a shoot-out as she gets out of her car on the beach".
Ratti's later films include (as "Peter Rush") Mondo Erotico (1973 / talk, talk, talk) and the two horror flicks, Night of the Damned (1971 / credits) and Crazy Desires of a Murderer (1977 / trailer). Scriptwriter Luigi Angelo went on to help write The Slasher aka The Prowler aka Bad Girls (1972 / trailer), starring Farley Granger and, in a re-edited X-rated version entitled Penetration, the mighty member of Harry Reems.
Trailer to
Operation White Shark:
As revealed by the trailer above, Something Weird had this one for a while. They offered the following plot description: "When 'The Third Eye' — a criminal organization made up of the world's most vicious killers — kidnaps nuclear scientist Professor Von Kraft, his secret formula for a new atomic weapon that can destroy all human life falls into their evil hands. Making things a tad difficult, however, is that the weapon is located deep beneath the ocean. Nevertheless, the Third Eye plans on experimenting with the device in little more than a week. However, the Secret Service has other ideas and asks 'Jerry', their super computer, to locate the best man to stop them: Mark Andrews (Rodd Dana), a special forces secret agent who infiltrates the criminal gang under the cover of a robber who just happens to be an expert underwater diver! He also wastes no time romancing all manner of shapely women in the tightest clothes imaginable (when they're wearing more than a modestly placed bed sheet) especially Janine Reynaud, the bisexual leader of The Third Eye, who sports a wild wardrobe of very revealing outfits."
Rodd Dana, by the way, began his limited career in small parts in two faves of ours, Bert I. Gordon's War of the Colossal Beast (1958 / trailer) and Herbert L. Strock's How to Make a Monster (1958 / trailer).
For more about Operation White Shark than you would ever want to know, go to Teleport City.


Special Code: Assignment Lost Formula
(1966, dir. Pino Mercanti [16 feb 1911 – 2 Sept 1986])
Original title: Cifrato speciale. "Herbert J. Sherman" is credited as the director. Reynaud plays Sheena in a movie also featuring the great Helga "Yummy" Line (of the great Horror Express [1972 / trailer], José Ramón Larraz's Estigma (1980) & Sex Rites of the Devil [1982], Umberto Lenzi's Kriminal [1966] & So Sweet... So Perverse [1969], and so much more).
Credit sequence and theme:
"Standard Italian Bond imitation follows the exploits of sort-of agent Johnny Curd (Lang Jeffries [7 June 1930 – 12 Feb 1987]), who knows the whereabouts of a secret code or formula used by the Nazis. Many different organizations try to buy him, which leads to some action and an underwater showdown. Trivial, disjointed fare tries hard to be dramatic, comes off as pretentious. Good Riz Ortolani score. [Cult Movies]"
Lang Jeffries lackluster career includes such highlights as Al Adamson's "Blaxploitation" flick, Mean Mother (1974), which he only appears in because it is actually a re-edit of León Klimovsky's Run for Your Life (1971).
Trailer to
Mean Mother:


Ypotron - Final Countdown
(1966, dir. Giorgio Stegani as "George Finley")
Original title: Agente Logan - missione Ypotron. Director Giorgio Stegani, who had previously directed Mill of the Stone Women (1960 / trailer), went on to do "additional dialogue" for Ruggero Deodato's classic, Cannibal Holocaust (1980). Janine Reynaud plays Carol. Over at Cinemorgue, they claim that Carol is "poisoned when she scratches her finger on a hidden needle on a briefcase handle".
Credit sequence:
"Ypotron boasts […] a terrific score by Nico Fidenco throughout the film and the swinging theme song is performed by The Sorrows. This film has enough bad guys for three movies and the confusing plot doesn't help any. Things to look forward to are scenes with wind tunnel peril (it had to happen), a strange stripper act, and dialog that loses something in the translation. Note: the bloodthirsty of you will enjoy the bullfight scenes where you witness the actual killing of a bull. Our heroes get to use all manner of fancy gadgets in their pursuit of evil. Lighter communicators get a workout and there's an instant oil slick capsule to derail those bad guys chasing you. They use a briefcase movie camera which not only develops the film automatically but will also project it onto a tiny screen, a receiver in a Norelco shaver, a nifty gadget that makes phones ring, and a radar tracking device in a Bible! [B-Movie Nation]"
The plot: "Doctor Morrow (Alfredo Mayo [17 May 1911 – 19 May 1985], of In the Folds of the Flesh [1970 / trailer]), a scientist who works for NASA, has mysteriously disappeared. The Secret Service investigates. Agent Lemmy Logan (Luis Dávila [15 July 1927 – 21 Aug 1998]) is in charge of the case. He discovers that that Leikman (Alfredo Mayo) — a former Nazi scientist — is developing Ypotron, a weapon that could destroy a large part of the world. Leikman wants to use the Dr. Morrow's scientific knowledge. This is an Europsy movie from the sixties with some nice locations en beautiful women. […] The acting is good, especially from Luis Dávila as Lemmy Logan. However, there are 3 positive things about it that bear special mentioning: 1) Janine Reynaud in a bikini. Compared to the cute but overly mousy Gaia Germani [as Jeanne Morrow], she plays the better female character here. 2) The striptease sequence combined with the heroine's smart trick of escaping from the hero's close supervision. 3) The interesting final twist. [European Trash Cinema]"


Killers Are Challenged
(1966, dir. Antonio Margheriti [19 Sept 1930 – 4 Nov 2002])
Original title: A 077, sfida ai killers. Janine Reynaud plays Halima — you already see her during the credit sequence. Over at Cinemorgue, they claim her character is "shot in the chest by Wandisa Guida [character: 'Terry Coleman']".
Of course, as so often in Margheriti's case, the movie was credited to his favorite pseudonym, "Anthony Dawson", the man behind many a good movie and more than one bad movie — like Alien from the Deep (1989), starring Charles Napier. Musclebound actor Richard "Hung" Harrison is also found in Orgasmo negro (1980 / opening scene), among many fun films. A 077, sfida ai killers was preceded by Luciano Martino's Secret Agent Fireball / Le spie uccidono a Beirut (1965 / trailer) and followed by Mino Loy & Luciano Martino's Fury in Marrakech / Furia a Marrakech (1966 / credits), the latter without Richard "Hung" Harrison (photo below not from the movie).
"In what has to go down as one of the great disappointments in the history of cinema, at no time during director Antonio Margheriti's Killers Are Challenged does star Richard Harrison ever utter the phrase, 'The name is Fleming. Bob Fleming.' [Monsterhunter]"
Credits and theme song:
"Like always, the story is weak. This time a crime organization wants to take control over a formula that would make every kind of poisonous energy unnecessary (gasoline for example) and their last person to kidnap and kill is Dr Coleman (Marcel Charvey [22 Feb 1916 – 21 Aug 1995]). But of course, the US government doesn't want this to happen (which is kinda ironic, because nowadays they do everything to get their hands on the oil!) and sends Bob Fleming (Harrison), their top spy, to take over Coleman's identity and stop the sinister plan! He travels to Casablanca and meets up with Coleman's wife (Wandisa Guida of I vampiri [1957 / trailer]), and the rest of the movie is more or less one long excuse to show him avoid getting killed by different henchmen! Gotta love the Italians! [Ninja Dixon]"
The bar brawl:


The Seventh Floor
(1967, dir. Ugo Tognazzi [23 March 1922 – 27 Oct 1990])
A comedy starring Ugo Tognazzi. Original title: Il fischio al naso. Janine Reynaud appears briefly as "the English Ambassador's Daughter" — but for that, Tina Louise (photo below from some old issue of Playboy) has a meatier role as Dr. Immer Mehr. (A Bondian joke name in German, "Immer Mehr" translates into "Always More".)
"In this unusual offbeat black comedy directed by Ugo Tognazzi, Giuseppe (Tognazzi) is a middle-aged industrialist obsessed with gadgets. When his nose starts to whistle uncontrollably, he checks into a clinic to resolve the problem. What begins as a minor affliction worsens, and Giuseppe is placed on a different floor as his ailments multiply. The sicker he gets, the higher he goes up in the floors of the clinic, until he is near death's door. [All Movie]"
Italian trailer:


Run, Psycho, Run
(1968, dir. Brunello Rondi [26 Nov 1924 – 7 Nov 1989])
Original title: Più tardi Claire, più tardi... Rondi also directed the early Italo psycho-horror movie El demonio (1963), the Italo women-in-prison flick Cárcel de mujeres / Riot in a Women's Prison (1974 / trailer), and Emanuelle viciosa (1976 / full movie); he also co-wrote a number of Fellini films. Janine Reynaud part in this movie is minimal, it would seem, as no online source ever list the name of her character.
Theme to
Più tardi Claire, più tardi...
"The film is set in Tuscany in 1912 where the retired Judge George Dennison (Gary Merrill [2 Aug 1915 – 5 March 1990], of The Savage Eye [1960]), his wife Claire (Elga Andersen [2 Feb 1935 – 7 Dec 1994], of Coast of Skeletons [1965]), and their son Robert arrive at a Villa in Mount Argentario for the summer. Shortly after a party, both Claire and Robert are murdered. A year later, Dennison once again returns to the villa with his new fiancée, Ann (Elga Andersen) and her son. Ann resembles Claire which he believe will assist him in unmasking the murderer. Although filmed in the mid 1960s, Run, Psycho, Run was not released until 1968 in Italy. It subsequently was released to television in the United States. [Wikipedia]"
At the Classic Horror Film Board, David Sinclair said: "The John Stanley guide […] dismissed the movie is a non-scary, boring talkfest. The Stanley guide was right on that one point; this is one of the talkiest movies I've encountered, and were it not for the plot descriptions, I wouldn't have a clue to what is going on here. Heck, even with the plot descriptions, I'm still not sure. Only three visual moments stand out; the first is the murder scene itself (and that's a little ambiguous), the second is a scene where a peasant girl plays with a young child while wielding a big butcher knife (which was rather suspenseful even if I didn't know the context for the scene), and a scene near the end where a woman explores a hidden room, and it's here I see the lone reference to Psycho (and which provides the clearest horror content I could find in the movie). Other than that, the English title should have been Talk, Psycho, Talk!"


"The Black Hand"
(1968, dir. Max Pécas [25 April 1925 – 10 Feb 2003])
Original title: La Main Noire. The English title above is a direct translation of the original French title; the film doesn't seem to have been given an English release. Max Pécas is a sorely underappreciated sex- and B-movie filmmaker from France who, though hardly a stylistic master or influence, made trashy movies that are nevertheless entertaining time-passers. This one here has a noteworthy German title: Die Sexsklavinnen von Schloss Porno — or: The Sex Slaves of Porno Castle. He and Reynaud were to work together again in the future…
Opening scene:
The plot, we think: Secret agent Thomas Usher (James Harris of Nuda per Satana [1974/ trailer] and Jesús Franco's Hot Nights of Linda [1975 / trailer]) is on the trail of the "Black Hand", a terrorist organization seeking world domination. After he is attacked by an enemy agent, he reaches a castle, which is home to a Research Institute for Testing New Forms of Society. There is Zhan Raur (Jean Topart [13 April 1922 – 29 Dec 2012]), a man who works himself into a tizzy every time he talks about power. Zhan Raur proves to be as a leader of the Black Hand, and he's waiting for the arrival of some secret documents revealing the positions of merchant ships he intends to destroy. Usher is also fascinated by the three women of Raur's immediate circle: the dominant Mafalda (Janine Reynaud), his partner, their submissive servant Eleanor (Chantal Nobel), and Eleonore's apparently mentally deficient cousin (Anny Nelsen). Trouble arises when Usher gets unmasked by Zhan Raur, who wants to test his methods for finding the truth and brainwashing him…
At the imdb, that famous fan of sex films lor raves: "Max Pecas is my favorite French porn director […]. An obscure title, 'The Black Hand', from his oeuvre is quite enlightening as to the age-old issue of how would a ghettoized porn director handle directing a mainstream film. […] Here Pecas is making an action film in which he shows skill at eliciting consistently effective acting performances in both lead and supporting roles, clean/evocative action outbursts in the Jean-Pierre Melville (20 Oct 1917 – 2 Aug 1973) mode, and idiosyncratic style points all the way. The inclusion of partial nudity and sex is no more jarring than in any 21st Century major movie, and not the crutch one would expect. Stolid hero played by 'James Harris' […] is weakest element, especially as casting has him matching physically his opposite-number nemesis. Otherwise we have a very colorful cast: a sexy white-haired evil genius Jean Topart, who is wont to pontificate on East/West relations when he is not humping some young babe; three beautiful babes led by genre favorite Janine Raynaud […]; and even a mysterious dwarf who tortures a beautiful blonde in the film's second scene. Opening is stark action-man cinema, very well directed and emblematic of the fact that Pecas is directing a real movie, all the way. After that, the dwarf sets off a series of strong BDSM and fetish-content scenes that are up to the domestic '60s level, popularized by Bob Cresse in films like Hot Spur (1968 / trailer) and Love Camp 7 (1968 / trailer). Name your kink and it is effectively (soft-core only of course) interjected at the proper moment here. The spy/intrigue content is verbally played up but has little impact here. Style is everything with a baby-doll impersonation by the blonde member Anny Nelsen of Topart's troupe loaded with interesting shtick, and the nihilistic finale very skillfully blocked and staged with enough final reel twists to fill a boatload of movies. A 21st Century emphasis on gore has made Pecas's action and death scenes seem very tame, but I enjoyed them for that very reason of lacking the explicitness cop-out."


Castle of the Creeping Flesh
(1968, dir. Adrian Hoven [18 May 1922–8 April 1981])
Original title: Im Schloß der blutigen Begierde — which translates not into its common English title above, but into In the Castle of Bloody Lust. (Indeed, another aka title of the move is Castle Of Bloody Lust.) The English cut is shorter than the original cut. "This is definitely not for the squeamish as there is beaucoup amounts of nudity, violence, and actual footage of open-heart surgery."
Director Hoven is credited as "Percy G. Parker". We here at A Wasted Life first got to know of Adrian Hoven as an actor in the lesser Edgar Wallace movie The Secret of the Red Orchid (1962 / German trailer), but Hoven, an active actor/director/producer while alive, was an exploitation force in his day and has a career full of notable, noticed and unnoticed A to Z films to his name. If people recognize his name, it's probably for writing and producing Michael Armstrong's Mark of the Devil (1970 / trailer), starring Herbert Lom, and directing its inferior sequel, Mark of the Devil Part II (1973 / trailer). His work is worth checking out if you're a fan of Eurotrash or simple bad movies. Aside from directing Janine Reynaud in this movie, in 1968 & 1969 he acted alongside her in three Jess Franco movies. (If you get down to it, this movie plays out like a Franco movie, too. There are voices out there that claim he is the true scriptwriter of the movie.)
French trailer:
Janine Reynaud has two roles in two different time periods in Castle of the Creeping Flesh: she plays Vera Lagrange in the present as well as the Baron's mistress in the past: According to Cinemorgue, Vera survives the movie but the "Baron's mistress is stabbed to death by Graf Saxon (Howard Vernon) in his laboratory."
The plot: "Castle of the Creeping Flesh begins with a lavish and very noisy party that is about to break into a wild orgy, but before the fun begins Baron Brack (Michel Lemoine [30 Sept 1922 – 27 July 2013]) convinces the flirty socialite Vera Lagrange (Janine Reynaud) to accompany him to his country house for a more intimate experience. However, the plan does not work as intended and Vera leaves with a couple of her friends, while Baron Brack ends up raping her equally flirty sister Elena (Elvira Berndorff). After riding aimlessly in the bushes for hours, the partygoers eventually reach a mysterious Victorian castle and ask a very rough-looking guard if they can spend the night there because it is already too dark and they have no clue how to find their way back. Then the owner of the castle, Graf Saxon (Howard Vernon [15 July 1914 – July 25 1996] of Zombie Lake [1981] and so much more), welcomes the guests and while showing their bedrooms entertains them with some fascinating stories about his ancestors. Not too long after that the guests accidentally discover that there is an underground chamber where Graf Saxon is secretly trying to rebuild a very special woman who died a long time ago. [Blu-Ray.com]"
"Never scary but occasionally atmospheric and always entertaining, Castle Of The Creeping Flesh is hard to take seriously but it is a fun watch, particularly if you have an affinity for European trash films. The cast are in decent form here. Lemoine's eyes seem to go in two different directions at once, making him an odd choice to play the studly rape-happy male lead, but he's enthusiastic enough in the part to make it work. Janine Reynaud and Elvira Berndorff both get plenty of screen time and are frequently running around in the nude, so that's a definite plus that almost makes up for the fact that the great Howard Vernon is woefully underused in the film. […] The movie is pretty rape happy and the sex scenes plentiful and fairly graphic (never getting close to hardcore, mind you, but there is a LOT of skin on display in this picture). […] People stare at one another with long, knowing glances every couple of minutes. The scenes that take place in the basement, where Saxon has a secret laboratory, are fairly gory as the filmmakers decided to splice in what appears to be footage from actual human heart surgery into the proceedings. This happens a lot. […] Still, this moves at an okay pace and features enough strange moments to keep your attention. We won’t spoil what happens to the bear that Saxon let loose during his moment of anguish, but it’s pretty great. The dialogue is so overwrought that you can’t help but get a kick out of it and the eclectic score is kind of fun and the locations are awesome. [Rock! Pop! Shock!]"
Full movie:


Killer Without a Face
(1968, writ. &dir. Angelo Dorigo [as Ray Morrison])
Original title: Assassino senza volto. As far as we know, the last cinema credit of writer/director Dorigo, who moved to television after this movie. Like so many, this low-brow (and very rare) giallo features an Euro-slumming American has-been: tough guy Lawrence Tierney (15 March 1919 – 26 Feb 2002) plays "The Mute". An oddity of the genre, the movie is set in a gothic castle and shot in Expressionistic B&W, so it feels a bit retro-gothic. Janine Reynaud plays Francis. The best synopsis we found on line: "Who is shooting people in the castle?"
"In this Italian giallo from director Angelo Dorigo, the owner (Mara Berni as "Barbara MacDonald ") of a remote castle finds herself embroiled in a situation where a suspicious falling death occurs that slowly leads to a series of mysterious happenings around that castle that soon lead to a series of murders. Killer Without a Face's storyline is pretty much in the slow-burning department as Dorigo establishes plenty of darkly lit sequences while heavily focusing upon developing the film's characters and the situation they find themselves in as the killings occur with the film's final 25 minutes. The most noticeable thing about Killer Without a Face are the participation of both American noir star Lawrence Tierney (who has a supporting role [and was starting to become heavy set]) and Jess Franco starlet Janine Reynaud as they lead their support to the cast and help make Killer Without a Face a pretty watchable film. [Letterboxd]"


Succubus
(1968, dir. Jess Franco [12 May 1930 – 2 April 2013])
Original title: Necronomicón. Supposedly written by Pier A. Caminnecci (25 July 1941 – 30 Dec 2013), who seems to have left the film biz soon after producing his final film, Freddie Francis's The Vampire Happening (1971 / trailer), starring Caminnecci's then-wife Pia Degermark. Janine Reynaud plays the lead role in Succubus, a woman named Lorna Green.
Spanish trailer:
Plot: "This strange, surrealistic German horror film from cult director Jesus Franco stars Janine Reynaud as Lorna Green, who performs a pseudo-snuff nightclub act involving erotically staged S&M murders. Lorna's mind is controlled by a man who might be Satan (Michel Lemoine), and she slowly loses her tenuous hold on reality, moving increasingly closer to the night when she begins to really kill. Lorna's nightclub act and the final scenes — involving a wild orgy where Lorna viciously murders a man named Bill Mulligan (Jack Taylor) — were cut drastically in some of the film's several release versions. Prints run 93, 84, 81, and 78 minutes. Acclaimed director Fritz Lang called Necronomicon 'a beautiful piece of cinema', but its edgy sexuality and hallucinatory tone struck most viewers as confusing and off-putting. This eerie, haunting film co-stars Howard Vernon and Nathalie Nord, while producer Pier A. Caminnecci (who co-scripted) and singer-filmmaker Adrian Hoven also appear. [All Movie]"
According to the current Wikipedia (Date: 21.05.18): "Succubus was Franco's first film made entirely outside of Spain. […] While filming was in progress, the German financial backers pulled out of the film. Producer Adrian Hoven contacted Pier A. Caminnecci who took an interest in actress Reynaud and agreed to finance the film. An affair later occurred between the two."
In his book Deadlier Than the Male: Femme Fatales in 1960s and 1970s Cinema, Douglas Brode writes: "Succubus divided audiences and critics in 1969, continuing to do so today. The late Pulitzer-prize winning reviewer Roger Ebert considered this to be one of the worst films ever made, even speaking unkindly of Reynaud's physical appearance.* Most others found her, if not the movie, enticing. Quentin Tarantino, who owns a print, considers this a classic."
* Roger Ebert: "[Succubus is] a flat-out bomb. It left you stunned and reeling. There was literally nothing of worth in it. Even the girl was ugly."
Some scene from the movie:
Well, we here at A Wasted Life saw the movie and were left somewhat indifferent, though like Ebert we did make note of Reynaud's physical appearance — to be exact, "her surprisingly ravished face". Our final judgment of the movie itself was that "In regards to surrealistic sexually transgressional cinema, Succubus might be an early and thus noteworthy example, but it is also one that has aged badly. Indeed, in regard to this particular genre of formerly avant-garde cinema, Jess Franco was far more successful five years later with his more linear but nonetheless equally oblique Virgin among the Living Dead (1973 / trailer) which, oddly enough, hasn't aged quite as badly." (Go here for our full review.)
10CC Bullets is of the opinion that "Succubus was like a new beginning for director Jess Franco. Who up till that point as director had mostly made horror or spy films. The films that followed Succubus would become more and more sexual in their content. The narrative in Succubus like many Franco films has been said to be disjointed or confusing. Both of which it is not and in many ways it is one of Franco most developed plots. The films dream like narrative style perfectly complements Franco's surreal imagery. What is real and what is a dream? Franco walks this line ever so finely as he never fully eposes either as frauds."

To be continued….
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