A few years older than that other
faux horror movie trailer we so like, Handjob Cabin
(2015), this Austin-lensed faux trailer, Hell No: The
Sensible Horror Film, not only has as many bull's-eyes as
that earlier off-color project, but almost garners as many laughs. In his trailer for a non-existent horror movie,
one that would surely be 0% scary if it were ever made, director and
scriptwriter Joe Nicolosi (with co-scripter John Freiler) takes pointed and
funny jabs at the idiocies that have served as the plot catalysts for an untold
number of horror movies since the dawn of film horror. (See, for example,
Segundo de Chomó's The Haunted House
, our Short Film of the Month this month. Even therein, the trio seek shelter in a scary-looking deserted house...)
Hell No is a filmic ode in trailer form to the truly foolhardiness
(if not sub-intelligence) displayed by too many characters in the average
horror movie, and that drives so many of us — horror fan to horror hater — to
distraction. Here, however, the interchangeable non-characters that are the
fodder in so many films — characters that exist (like their actions) only to drive
the movie forward and supply the uncreative lead-up to their demise —
unexpectedly reveal themselves as undeserving of a Darwin Award. Watch it, as Hell No's three minutes are truly
"balm for your cinematic irritation".
But let's face it, as Nicolosi
himself kinda infers by some of the fake voiceover used in the trailer, if
characters in horror movies weren't wont to make all those stupid decisions, horror
movies would be pretty boring. As an extra, check out Mike Castro's short Stay Indoors (2017).
So, anyway, we were invited over to a
friend's place to watch a flick entitled Torso. We went expecting the legendary
Italian giallo from 1973, starring the great Suzy Kendall and directed by
multi-genre specialist Sergio Martino — trailer directly below — but, no: instead,
we were served some Canadian TV movie from 2002 entitled Torso - The Evelyn
Dick Story. Our friend has a lot to make up for.
Trailer to Sergio Martino's Torso (1973):
Not that we knew this Torso here to be a TV
movie; indeed, we knew nothing about the movie at all. But what is it about so
many TV movies, even well-made ones, that makes them feel like a TV movie even
if you don't know it's one? Despite the beautiful classic cars and period
clothing, enough of both that a budget must have been present, Torso — The
Evelyn Dick Story still felt, looked, smelt like a Movie of the Week. Not that
we don't like Movies of the Week; we just tend to like them a bit older, more
in the direction of tacky TV GILF like Moon of the Wolf
(1972 / full movie)
or Bad Ronald (1974 / trailer)
or Killdozer! (1974 / trailer)
or Wes Craven's
hilariously bad Invitation to Hell (1984 / great scene).
Torso — The Evelyn Dick Story is just a tad too "good" to truly be
our cup of tea.
Torso - The Evelyn Dick Story:
Outside of Canada, the story of Evelyn Dick is pretty much
unknown; in terms of true-crime murders, hers are relatively mundane in
comparison to, dunno, the Moors Murderers
or Dorothea Puente
or even Caril Ann Fugate.
Nevertheless: a husband murdered and reduced to a torso found in the woods by
kids, a dead baby encased in cement in a suitcase, and a by-the-hour goodtime girl
who slept with as many men as most men wish they had slept with women — no
wonder the case was such a scandal back in '46-47, when Evelyn Dick sat at the
dock. In the end, after a retrial, she was found not guilty of the murder of
her husband, John Dick, but went to jail for the murder her baby son….
The real Evelyn Dick
As a TV docudrama of the case, Torso — The
Evelyn Dick Story is worse than some and better than most. That isn't to say
that it isn't well made and interesting, it's just that it is also annoying
superficial at times and, as perhaps appropriate to the case, leaves as many
questions open as it does semi-answer others. And not just the question of who
actually murdered John Dick, a question that [officially, at least] has never
truly been answered. In Torso, however, doubt is definitely cast upon the guilt
of Evelyn, whether for the murder of her husband or child, as either instigator
or perpetrator. In fact, if we are to believe the tale as told in the movie,
she was probably innocent of the death she was convicted of: that of her baby
As directed by the well-employed TV
director Alex Chapple, Torso — The Evelyn Dick Story adds a sheen of neo-noir
for much of the film, complete with the hardnosed inspector, Inspector Wood (Callum
Keith Rennie), a beautiful but [possibly] heartless killer, Evelyn Dick (Kathleen
Robertson), and cheap blasts of stereotypical saxophone music in the
background. (The saxophone is such a cliché that it almost induces involuntary
laughter whenever it toots.) Wood stays hard-nosed throughout the movie, but
Evelyn proves to move beyond her cigarette-enveloped face to become something
more than just some fem fatale.
To what extent the movie follows the book
it is based on — the last book written by Marjorie Freeman Campbell (1896-1975), likewise entitled Torso – The Evelyn
Dick Story — we know not, but as the movie unfolds one definitely gets the impression
that Evelyn Dick paid for either the crimes of others, or was the lone
scapegoat for crimes committed in cohorts. (The "truth", needless to
say, will never be known.) As the titular Evelyn Dick, the Canadian actress Kathleen
Robertson (of Nowhere [1997 / trailer],
Psycho Beach Party
[2000 / trailer]
and I Woke Up Early the Day I Died [1998 / opening scene])
is vacuous in a way that is almost aggravating, but on the other hand, as the
film progresses her very emptiness does well at reflecting a damaged, slightly
brainless girl-woman under the manipulative thumb of parents from hell.
the end, however, Evelyn remains a cypher. If, indeed, her parents were so
manipulatively evil; and if, indeed, she experienced the molestations of her
father; and if, indeed, her parents killed her child son unbeknownst to
herself; and if, indeed, she so loved her daughter; and if, indeed, her parents
literally frame her for the death of her son, what sense loyalty, what sense of
debt, what extent of manipulation could be so strong as to make Evelyn watch
silently as her mother, Alexandra MacLean (an excellently duplicitous Brenda
Fricker), walk free and easy out of the courthouse with Evelyn's daughter,
Heather Dick (Hannah Lochner of Dawn of the Dead [2004 / trailer]),
without finally opening her mouth?
And it is the discovery of the
cement-encased dead son that outs Inspector Wood as possibly a man more
interested in his record of success than in uncovering the truth, for the film
makes it clear that although all the evidence found during the second search of
the house was known not to have been there during the first search — ergo: it
was planted, most likely by the parents — he never pursues the "why"
and simply lets it paint Evelyn into the corner. Once again, what matters is
not that justice gets served correctly, just that it gets served.
Now, decades after the fact, whether or not
justice got served or shortchanged is probably irrelevant. And Evelyn, to some
extent, was undoubtedly involved in her husband's death. But like all murders,
you can take the "facts" and spin them in many different ways,
especially so many years after the fact. (Cf.: Alex Jones, flat-worlders, Kavanaugh, and
just about any conspiracy theorist you meet.) The spin of Torso - The Evelyn
Dick Story is basically that not everyone who should have paid, did. But the
movie fails to cast any light upon Evelyn's reasons for her action(s) or
inaction(s), from the why of the marriage to the why of her silence.
Torso — The Evelyn Dick Story, a good-looking, tightly acted TV movie that feels like the TV movie it is, displays a convincing if clean
sense of time and place, and is populated by a convincing cast with too little
to do. Hardly the worst thing you can watch when bored, but a far cry from
being exceptional, either as a conveyor of history or as a cinematic
experience. You can watch this one with your grandparents.
John Dick (1906–46)
Like Lizzie Borden (19 July 1860 – 1 June
1927) in the US, Evelyn Dick was immortalized in verse in Canada, where children
were once wont to sing:
You cut off his legs...
You cut off his arms...
You cut off his head...
How could you Mrs Dick?
How could you Mrs Dick?
Undoubtedly, were the crime one of today,
the verse would instead surely be something like:
Vienna-born Maria Rohm (nee Helga Grohmann), talented cult actress and
wife of British independent film producer and screenwriter Harry Alan Towers
(19 Oct 1920 – 31 July 2009), has gone the way of the wind at the age of 72 in
Toronto, Canada, the home of Bruce McArthur. Rohm, who began her acting career on
stage as a child actress, seems to have begun her film career at the age of
twenty playing a prostitute in a 1964 film. Soon after she married producer
Towers, also in 1964, he began putting her in many of his projects, including
nine different movies directed by Jess Franco (12 May 1930 – 2 April 2013). She
retired from acting in 1976, but like her husband remained active as a producer.
In a German-language interview published online in 2002 by Terrorverlag, it is claimed that Marie Rohm produced
up to five films a year with her husband Harry Alan Towers. That may have been
true, but the list of movies in which she is credited onscreen for production
is much shorter, at least going by what we found online. We do not claim this
list to be complete.
Massimo Dallamano (17 April 1917 – 4 Nov 1976), director of
Gray (1970, see Part III), tries to
cook up his own Emmanuelle-style franchise with this relatively uninteresting
sex drama aka (in English) as Teenage Emanuelle
and Annie; the original Italian
title is La fine dell'innocenza
("The End of Innocence"). Maria Rhom supposedly shows up somewhere in
the movie playing "Marie".
Linda Lee (Rossana Barbieri)
sings the title track to Blue Belle / La
The by-the-numbers script tells the tale of, basically, the "sexual
adventures of a seventeen-year-old who has just left convent school." To add some details: her "daddy" Michael
(Charles Fawcett) takes her to Hong Kong where, after he is arrested for
smuggling, she is left penniless and to her own devices and the soon former
virgin ends up proving that "have vagina, will survive". Luckily, she
met Linda (Felicity Devonshire) on the flight over, and Linda
has a good-looking husband named Angelo (Ciro Ippolito,
aka "Sam Cromwell", the writer, producer and director of Alien 2: On Earth [1980 / trailer])…
Blue Belle /
La fine dell'innocenza was very much an attempt to convert Annie Bell — the person, the
actress, the body — into a personality and franchise. As the text of a
magazine of the time parroted: "Petite, blonde, blue-eyed and stunningly
attractive, Annie makes her film debut in a starring role — a film,
incidentally, that is largely based on her own personality and experiences. […]
It was producer Harry Alan Towers who dreamed up the idea when he met the young
actress in Paris — a film based on her experiences in the Far East and her
romantic adventures in search of true happiness."
Annie Belle Theme:
Annie Belle was the last film of Charles Fernley Fawcett (2 Dec 1915 – 3 Feb 2008), a real-life
adventurer whose life sounds like fiction. He "was a wrestler, resistance
worker, soldier, airman, film star, film maker, and co-founder of the
International Medical Corps. He was a recipient of the French Croix de Guerre and the American Eisenhower
Medal." That's him below with the titular Annie, in a film that surely would not, could not, be made today.
Among the films Fawcett appeared in that we here at a wasted life find "fun": Lust of the Vampire (1957 / German trailer), The
Witch's Curse (1962 / trailer), The
Death Ray of Dr. Mabuse (1964 / scene), the infamously racist version of Uncle Tom's Cabin (1965 / full German film), and Target Frankie (1967, starring Joachim Fuchsberger).
Felicity Devonshire, seen above from Adam magazine (March 1975), who as Linda goes all scissor sisters
with Annie Belle, is a former Page 3 Girl of the British newspaper The Sun who enjoyed a mild film career
between 1971 & 1978; her most noteworthy film credit is undoubtedly Ken Russell's Lisztomania (1975), in which she plays the Governess.
Penis, anyone? Ken Russell's Lisztomania (1975):
"[Felicity Devonshire] is ranked 1794
on The Times' 2008 rich list and
estimated to be worth in the region of 40 million." Why? Because: "Devonshire Investment Holdings
Ltd. operates, manages, and leases properties in the United Kingdom. It manages
retail, office, mixed, leisure, residential, and industrial properties. The
company was founded in 2003 and is based in London, the United Kingdom.
The Black Arrow
(1985, dir John Hough)
Marie Rohm moved into production ("associate producer" to Towers's
"producer") with this television movie, never again appearing as an
actor onscreen, big or small. British director John Rough had, some 13 years
earlier, directed her in Treasure Island
(1972, see Part III); like that feature film, the TV film
Black Arrow is an adaptation of a
public domain novel by Robert Lewis Stevenson. (Namely: The Black Arrow:
A Tale of the Two Roses, which was first published in 1888 after initially
appearing as a magazine serial.) A swashbuckler, it is also the only
Harry Alan Towers production to be released by Disney, initially for broadcast
on the Disney Channel and then on Disney Home Video. "Peter Welbeck"
wrote the script with David Pursall (19 Aug 1917 – 7 Sept 1986), a man perhaps
best known for his work on the Margret Rutherford Mrs. Marple films, Murder She Said(1961 / trailer), Murder
Ahoy(1964 / trailer) and Murder
Most Foul(1964 / trailer). Set in
England during the Wars of the Roses (roughly 1455 to 1487),
it was filmed in Spain.
Trailer to The
Disney reduces the
plot to "A
wealthy lord in medieval England plans to murder one ward, marry another, and
take over the property of both, but he is outwitted by the notorious Black
Over at the imdb, however, nufs68 offers more detail: "In England, during the 15th century, […]
two of the most powerful nobles fight a bitter war among one another. Sir
Daniel (Oliver Reed [13 Feb 1938 – 2 May 1999]) is
the head of the House of York, while Sir Henry is the head of the House of
Lancaster. Among all the English nobles, they stand the best chance of becoming
the next king of England […]. But there can only be one monarch. The two Houses
go to war. […] The Earl of Warwick (Fernando Rey [10
Sept 1917 – 9 March 1994] of Eyes Behind
the Wall [1977 / let's dance]) is the sitting monarch's advisor but he
already starts to plot against the king in a secret alliance with Sir Daniel.
The only party not having anything to gain from either House acceding to the throne
is the English populace facing ever increasing royal taxes. However, a
mysterious champion of the poor and the oppressed [the Black Arrow, played by Stephan Chase of José Ramón Larraz's
Lady (1979)] has appeared
on the scene, attacking and killing any tax collecting officials and their
armed escort. The mysterious stranger is clad in black and uses a black bow and
black arrows that can penetrate chain mail. Annoyed by this impertinent
avenger, Sir Daniel sends his retinues to hunt him down. Sir Daniel has two wards
in his care, Joanna (Georgia Slowe of The Company of Wolves [1984 / trailer]) and Richard (Benedict
Taylor of Perfect Life [2010
/ trailer]). These teenage wards have inherited
much wealth, lands and titles but cannot touch their inheritances until they
come of age. A greedy Sir Daniel is scheming to marry beautiful Joanna in order
to take her wealth and he plans to have young Richard killed for the same
reason. But the avenger known as The Black Arrow keeps upsetting Sir Daniel's
In 2015, Jeremy Hodges, author and former Scottish arts and
features editor of The
Sunday Times, rated the film as one of the top ten Stevenson
stories adapted for the screen, saying: "The brooding presence of Oliver
Reed as the wicked Sir Daniel, coupled with the sinister Donald Pleasence as
the murderous priest Sir Oliver, gives this 1985 made-for-television movie more
dramatic power than you might expect from a story written to order for a
children's magazine. Despite numerous exciting action sequences that could have
been written for Hollywood, Stevenson knew The Black Arrow fell short of the
mark as a great work of literature — and dedicated it to his wife as a joke,
because she refused to read it. [Edinburgh City of Literature]"
Split — Edge of Sanity
(1989, dir. Gérard Kikoïne)
pointless, and unpleasant." Leonard Maltin
French director Gérard Kikoïne began his career as an editor for Jess
Franco before directing his first soft-core sex comedy Mannequin (1974), whence he quickly moved into hardcore and even
directed a minor Golden Age "classic", The Tale of Tiffany Lust (1979). Around 1985, with Lady Libertine aka Frank
& I (film in French), which Towers produced and "Pierre
Wellbeck" co-wrote, Kikoïne put away his raincoat and began making more
mainstream, low-budget fare, including this horror film on which Maria Rohm is
an "associate producer".
Black Arrow (1985) above and Treasure
Island (1972, see Part III), Split is
based on a public domain classic by Robert Lewis Stevenson: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The source
material, however, is spliced with aspects of Jack the Ripper. Split is very much an exploitation film
filled with violence and nudity.
Trailer to Edge of Sanity:
On their list of "Borderline Extreme Movies", the Worldwide Celluloid Massacre lists Split as being "Of Some Interest", saying, "Anthony
Perkins (4 April 1932 – 12 Sept 1992) had more than his fair share of twisted
roles, but this is by far his most demented performance in a surprisingly uber-sleazy movie. […] Perkins portrays
a doctor with a repressed fear of women, boosted by nightmares involving an
over-the-top sleazy and humiliating encounter as a kid. I bet the director knew
exactly what he was doing, given Perkins's real-life fear of women. So after an
accident with some chemicals, Hyde roams the streets and terrorizes a bizarre
whorehouse straight out of a Ken Russell movie, and lets loose in some really
warped scenes of frenzied perversions and unpredictable turn-ons and turn-offs,
terrorizing both men and women before forcing them to perform sex, masturbating
a whore with his cane, and then slicing them up of course. Altogether a
surprisingly unpleasant and disturbing one from Perkins."
"This retelling of a classic tale of good versus evil
unfortunately doesn't have a very high opinion of its main characters; it goes
straight for tawdry erotic and gory thrills. Even Anthony Perkins'
memorable performance of Mr. Hyde can't salvage this inarticulate film. It
is a fun movie, but not recommended for anyone looking for a serious
exploration of the duality of human nature. […] One of the better aspects of
the film is the performance of Anthony Perkins. I can think of no other
actor who better portrays twitchy nervousness. Perkins plays Hyde with
a remarkable panache. [Classic Horror]"
"What makes this movie even more a weird watch is the
fact that it can also definitely been seen as a soft-core-porn flick. There is
really quite a lot of nudity in it and lots of different sexual acts get
explicitly implied. [Boba Fett]"
"[Edge of Sanity]'s a
loose Dr. Jekyll adaptation
that feels like a lost early work of Paul Verhoeven. Its period setting and
moody lighting give the movie far more class that one might expect. In this
version of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale, Dr. Jekyll (Anthony
Perkins) is experimenting with cocaine as an anesthetic for use on patients.
After a monkey knocks over some ether onto some of his cocaine supply, the
fumes turn Dr. Jekyll in to Mr. Hyde (this scene is less funny than it sounds).
After killing several prostitutes, his wife Elisabeth (Glynis Barber of Horror Safari [1982 / trailer] and The
Terror [1978 / trailer]) starts to catch on that something not
right is going on with her husband. […] The murder scenes combine horror and
eroticism in surprising, surreal ways. There are plenty of bodices to be
ripped, but the decent acting and set design put this movie in a higher caliber
that one might suspect. An abrupt ending hurts the picture, but it's still
worth a watch. [Battleship Pretension]"
Call Him Jess (2000, writ. & dir. Manel Mayol & Carles Prats)
We took a look at this documentary in R.I.P. Janine Reynaud Part II. Original title: Llámale Jess.
A documentary on the great Jess Franco (12 May 1930 – 2 April 2013) written by
Mayol & Prats and Joan Ferré. To say that Maria Rhom participated in this
documentary is an overstatement: she is merely one of the many actresses and
actors — alongside Janine Reynaud (13 Aug 1930 – 30 Jan 2018), Adrian Hoven (18
May 1922 – 28 April 1981), Klaus Kinski (18 Oct 1926 – 23 Nov 1991), Christopher
Lee (27 May 1922 – 7 June 2015), Soledad Miranda (9 July 1943 – 18 Aug 1970),
Ewa Strömberg (13 Jan 1940 – 24 Jan 2013), and so many more — found in the
various clips taken from Franco's films that are edited into the film. The real
talking heads of the project are Franco himself and Lina Romay (25 June 1954 – 15 Feb 2012).
"Jesus (or Jess) Franco is one of the great names in B movies.
With a number of pseudonyms (Clifford Brown, David Khunne, etc...) and a
filmography including over 170 titles, it is extremely difficult to catalogue
and categorize his work, despite the existence of many retrospectives and
studies in both Europe and the United States. Jess began his career as an
assistant director, the high point of which was working with Orson Welles (6
May 1915 – 10 Oct 1985), whom he admired greatly. Jess himself became well
known in 1961 with The Awful Doctor
Orloff (1962 / trailer), a horror film which instantly became a classic. […] From that
moment his international career took off, his credits include The Diabolical Dr Z (1966 / trailer), Lucky the Inscrutable (1967 / opening credits),
Count Dracula (1970 / subtitled trailer — see: R.I.P.
Herbert Lom), Vampyros Lesbos (1971 / trailer) and Succubus(see Janine Reynaud Part
I). […] In this documentary, arguably the
most significant work about this director, Jess Franco speaks openly about his
films, himself and his understanding of the world of cinema. He is,
essentially, a director who defies conventional categorization […]. [FFC]"
The documentary has since been re-released as Llámale JessRedux: "Jesus Franco, also known as Jess Franco, was one of the biggest names in 'B' cinema wordwide. With more than 200 films and a large and peculiar
use of pseudonyms, his work remains difficult to categorize, which makes
it more exciting if possible. Through a series of interviews with
Franco, Call him Jess Redux dissects the sadist, esoteric and erotic
world of the director, as refined as rogue. This new version [...] incorporates new scenes and pays homage to his muse
and companion, Lina Romay. [Amazon]"
Manfred Hübler &
Siegfried Schwab's great music is of course also found in Call Him Jess:
(2001, dir. Mark Roper)
Depending on which online source you prefer to believe, this is either
first or the second in a series of two low-budget action movies, both made in
2001 and produced by Harry Alan Towers, featuring Gary
Daniels (of Fist of the North
Star [1995 / trailer], Knights
/ Cyborg Warriors [1993 / trailer], Astro [2018 / trailer] and so much more) as Captain Anthony
Strong. The other Strong movie is entitled Witness
to a Kill (2001 / trailer).
Regardless of the actual order they were filmed — we tend to think
this one is the first one — Maria Rohm is listed as a co-producer only for this
one. The screenplay was by Harry Alan Towers and Peter Jobin (1 Feb 1944 - 10 Aug 2018), the latter of
whom had, some twenty years previously, helped script the Golden Age slasher
classic Happy Birthday to Me (1981 /
The plot description as found @ Impact Video: "By order of Her Majesty’s Secret
Service, Captain Strong (Gary Daniels), senior officer of the elite Queen's
Messenger Corps, is given the dangerous assignment of delivering a delicate
communication to the British Ambassador of Kazakhstan (John
Standing of The Psychopath [1966
/ trailer], Torture
Garden [1967 / trailer], The
Legacy [1978 / trailer] and
Nightflyers [1987 / trailer]). If intercepted, the document will
compromise secret agreements. Now Captain Strong's commitment gets put to the
test. Ben Samm (Christoph Waltz), the ruthless leader of the country's most
powerful rebel force, knows that whoever holds the documents holds the key to
controlling the region's untold oil wealth. In a daring move to assume control,
he captures the Ambassador, Strong and Alexi Jones (Theresa Sherer-Donovan), an
attractive but stubborn news reporter. Against all odds, Captain Strong leads
the trio in a daring escape with impassioned rebels in hot pursuit. In an age
of Internet, fax and e-mail, some messages are just too dangerous to be
delivered by any means other than the Messenger of the Queen."
Trailer to Queen's Messenger:
Over at Letterboxd, After Movie Diner moans
that Queen's Messenger is
"sadly not one
of Gary Daniels' better efforts, but not for want of trying on our Gary's part.
Sadly he is hampered by having an atrocious director. Something which seems to
plague his career. A good B director given the same script and budget could've
knocked this playful Bond rip-off out of the park. Sadly, the pacing and the
TV-movie-style camerawork bogs this down and makes it almost unwatchable. It
doesn't help matters that this guy is incompetent when it comes to filming
fight scenes. Christoph Waltz shows up for 3 minutes to be... well... Christoph
Waltz, but nothing much more can be said about this laughable entry into
Daniels ever growing resume."
Over at the imdb, way back
in 2003 Peter Forster was also not impressed: "Imagine a
sandwich of gun fight, car chase, fist fight, gun fight, sex, car chase, gun
fight, etc. with thin slivers of dialogue in between to explain why the
protagonists are fighting or chasing each other. Our hero, Captain Strong, is
diverted from his day job in the Special Air Service to take on a diplomatic
mission to one of the former Soviet republics. With steely eyes and firm chin
he manages to avoid several million rounds of ammunition fired in his direction
by some very bad men and still finds time to engage in unprotected sex with
attractive women who can scream very loudly when necessary. Nice to see that
Brits can still save the world and avoid STDs."
Dunno, but going by what Daniels looks like above, we would be willing
to bend over and scream very loudly when necessary. Talk about a total DILF! Yummy.
(2001, dir. Timothy Bond)
Maria Rohm is associate producer to Harry Allan Tower's credited producer
status in yet another direct-to-DVD cinematic version of a public domain
classic novel, in this case H. Rider Haggard's popular adventure yarn, She, which "Is generally considered to be one of the classics of
imaginative literature and, with 83 million copies sold by 1965, it is one of
the best-selling books of all time." The cover below is to a 1968 British softcover.
She Who Must Be Obeyed:
Now primarily a television director, Timothy Bond's directorial debut
was the mildly entertaining and totally forgotten end of the world flick, Deadly Harvest (1977 / full movie). Some twenty years prior to She, Bond also helped write the classic
slasher, Happy Birthday to Me (1981
/ trailer), with She's scriptwriter Peter Jobin; here, however, Bond only directed
and Jobin shares his scriptwriting credit with "Peter Welbeck".
We've never seen the movie, but have always liked the German actress
Marie Bäumer (of Der Schuh des Manitu[2001 / German trailer] and Sieben
Monde[1998 / trailer]). Over at the imdb, wellsangel puts the film down by saying that the "Filming is somewhat reminiscent of campy
1970's schlock sci-fi" — which, to us, sounds like a recommendation.
To date, no one seems to have seen the film and bothered to write about it. But
that's what the imdb is there for —
"Artemis-9" wrote a decent plot synopsis:
"Leo Vincey (Ian Duncan) receives a map from his late father (Christoph Waltz), leading him to the legendary city of
Kor in search of an explanation for his mysterious ancestry. He is accompanied
by his girlfriend Roxanne (Marie Bäumer). He
discovers that he is the only descendant of an Egyptian priest who had been
executed for the crime of falling in love with the Egyptian Princess. The
ruling queen Ayesha (Ophélie Winter), or rather
She, is the same Egyptian Princess of centuries ago, her beauty and youth look
being preserved by magic. She becomes convinced that Leo is the reincarnation
of her former lover, and wants to kill him. Leo and Roxanne will have to fight
against surprise attacks on them, but survival in that foreign land with
strange customs, is difficult. Leo is terribly attracted to She's beauty, but
at the same time he fears for her obscure spirit, and finally he must take a
decision — to run away from her, or to love her and die."
"She largely serves as an obscure vanity vehicle for
French singer and actress Ophélie Winter (2001: A Space Travesty [2000 / trailer], with Leslie Nielson). [Weird Flix]" That's her directly above, not
from the movie, looking oddly uncomfortable.
Ophélie Winter & Coolio — Keep It on the Red Light:
Death, Deceit and Destiny
aboard the Orient Express
(2001, dir. Mark Roper)
What a title! Now you have absolutely no doubts regarding what the
film is about. But then, despite the Aylum-like mockbuster title, the movie has
very little to do with any version of Murder
on the Orient Express, book or film (1974 / trailer) and (2017 / trailer). This Canadian-Bulgarian co-production —
Maria Rohm, "co-producer: UK"; Harry "Daddy" Towers,
"executive producer / producer" — is not a train-bound detective
film, it's a kill-dem-terrorists action movie. Die Hard (1988 / trailer) on a train and with no budget, you could
"Let's start with the obvious: Death, Deceit and Destiny aboard
the Orient Express is a miserable excuse for a title. Off the top of
my head, I can drum up a handful of perfectly serviceable alternatives: Terror
on the Orient Express, say, or Millennial Terror, or, my
personal pick, the spoilery yet evocative Throw Sendhil from the Train.
[Preppies of the Apocalypse]"
Unlike the previous two Tower/Rohm productions from 2001 we looked, some
English-speaking people actually seem to have seen this train-wreck of a movie,
perhaps drawn by the non-drawing power of Richard Grieco's name. (The irony of
having him play an action movie star... hell, the irony of having him play a
star.) The general sense conveyed is, at best, that if this movie is to be enjoyed
at all, then only in a bad movie kind of way — the scene below holds great
This guy went on to a big
As the Preppy of ApocalypseMorgen Richter says, "I'm sorry — I know it's a
pile of crap, but I'm incapable of hating any film that draws inspiration from
On the other hand, it could be that the movie is just bad: "What this all boils down to
is that I can't even come up with a reason why you should watch Death, Deceit & Destiny Aboard the
Orient Express as it has absolutely nothing going for it. Even those who
might be fans of one of the cast should seriously question whether they really
need to sacrifice 90 minutes of their time on this. [Movie Scene]"
Joe Scaramanga's House of Trash, which says "this is bottom of the
barrel stuff", has the plot: "Anyway, events take place on the eve of
the millennium, despite being made in 2000, when everyone with a grain of taste
had realised that movies set then would out of date as precisely a minute past
midnight. A group of wealthy individuals (and partners/business
associates/whatever) gather for a New Year jamboree through Europe to Istanbul.
Oddly no one seems to know who invited them. […] Obviously the lure of a posh
train, and copious free booze and food is too much to refuse and they all duly
turn up. And a motley bunch they are too: there's a mobile phone salesman, a
mobile phone manufacturer, a gymnast, the son of an Indian industrialist, a
couple of women who could be con artists (I'm not really sure we ever find out)
and an action movie star, Jack Chase (Richard Grieco, of Webs  and Raiders of the Damned )! Seriously. About two minutes
after leaving the never-identified station a bunch of bad guys shoot all the
staff and, luckily all their uniforms fit them perfectly, and they take over
the train, with one staying behind to prepare eight-course dinners for
everyone. Turns out this is our bad guy, Tarik (Christoph Waltz), who tells
everyone via a chunky widescreen TV that he has taken control of the train and
wants everyone to pay him $50 million or he'll blow it up. Well, action star doesn't
take kindly to this and assisted by the gymnast (Klara Romina Mondello of Wax Mask [1997 / trailer]), who he's decided will be his love
interest for this evening, he disarms all the bombs, saving one to blow up the
train and the bad guy. Hooray!"
Keep your eyes open for Gotz Otto, German bad film character actor/heavy
found in, among many movies, the hilariously great Iron Sky (2012 / trailer below) and the hilariously bad Beowulf(1999). He must have
signed a multi-picture deal with Towers, 'cause he's found in the background of
this movie, of She, and of the next
movie we look at, High Adventure.
Iron Sky (2012):
Quatermain — High
(2001, dir. Mark Roper)
Aka Chris Quatermain and the
Lost Treasure, Quatermain — The King's Treasure, Quatermain— The Treasure of Alexander the Great, and Raiders of the Lost Treasure. Currently, it doesn't seem available
outside of Europe. Sad.
Maria Rohm is the associate producer (and
Harry "Daddy" Towers the executive producer / producer) of another already
forgotten direct-to-video movie distantly inspired by the public domain
Quatermain, a popular character introduced by H. Rider Haggard (22 June 1856 –
14 May 1925) in his 1885 novel, King
Solomon's Mines. (Among the numerous subsequent books Haggard wrote,
Quatermain even met up with She's
beautiful queen Ayesha in She and Allan
The adventurer of High
Adventure, however, is Chris
Quatermain, the grandson of Allan Quatermain — a bit of an impossibility, one
would think, seeing that in the Haggard books Allan Quatermain's son, Harry
Quatermain, dies of smallpox as an unmarried medical student. (No son,
especially one that was childless, usually means no grandson.) In the end, the
film has less to do with Haggard and Quartermain than it does with the desire
to produce an extremely low budget Indiana Jones mockbuster — see: aka Raiders of the Lost Treasure. Script:
"Peter Welbeck" and Peter Jobin (again). For a plot description, we
once again look to the imdb, where 15
years ago the big movie guy griped that the movie was "quite
long even though it only lasts 94 minutes and [has] no cool scenes",
supplied the following pot description: "Thomas Ian Griffith (of Vampires  and Hollow Point) as gambler and adventurer Chris
Quatermain. […] Griffith travels to Africa to recover Alexander the Great's
treasure hidden somewhere in cave. His trusty assistant Johnny Ford (Harry
Peacock) and his love interest Hope Gruner (Anja Kling) have to join forces to
find the treasure before ruthless gangster Lorenzo (Kendra
Torgan) gets her hands on it."
Quatermain — High Adventure:
Video Junkie saw the flick and came away thinking,
"I was having such a hard time wrapping my head around just what the hell
this was supposed to be that at the 60 minute mark I finally came to the
conclusion that it must be a children's film! Only kids would be this
(2003, dir. Darrell Roodt)
Maria Rohm is the "co-producer: United Kingdom" (and Harry "Daddy" Towers, the executive
producer) of another already forgotten direct-to-video
movie distantly inspired by the Su Muru tales by Sax Rohmer — the image below of a nicely pulpy Gold Medal printing — the source of the
late-60s Towers movies (in which Maria Rohm acted), The Million Eyes of Su Muru (1967, see Part I) and The
Girl from Rio (1969, see Part II).
For whatever reason, in this version of the tale, Sumuru is now no
longer the antagonist and/or antihero, but rather the good girl of the movie —
and, perhaps in even a bigger break from the source, the events now take place in
the future and on another planet.
As normal, "Peter Welbeck" worked on the screenplay, this time
alongside Peter Jobin and some guy named Torsten Dewi. Dewi has since gone on
to develop and write to hilariously bad ecological end-of-day flicks, Post Impact
(2004 / trailer) and Lost City Raiders (2008 / trailer).
Wikipedia has the serviceable plot description:
"Earth's outermost colony was forgotten for 900 years — until now. Cut off
from the rest of the universe, men have become beasts of labor — and women
rule. Arriving on planet Antares, Adam Wade (Michael
Shanks of Ice Twister 2 - Arctic
Blast [2010 / trailer] and 13
Eerie [2013 / trailer]) and Jake Carpenter (Terence Bridgett of From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter  and Kite [2014 / trailer]) come with a mission and a secret.
Humanity has suffered from a deadly virus that has left the women barren, and
the two are to seek out the last fertile members of the human race and relocate
them. When the small spaceship crashes, the two find the planet run by women
and the men slaving in primitive mines, used occasionally for procreation
purposes. The two astronauts have to overcome anti-male prejudice as well as
earthquakes, a giant snake and opposition from snake-cult priestess Taxan (Simona Williams of Spiders
[2000 / trailer] and Raging
Sharks [2005 / trailer]), but find support in relatively
rational-minded queen Sumuru (Alexandra Kamp) as
well as her personal guard Dove (Casey B. Dolan of Lost
Boys: The Thirst [2010 / trailer]) and her kid brother Will (David Lazarus)."
Director Darrell Roodt, while probably unknown outside of South Africa,
is a film-farting force to be reckoned with: he's almost as productive as, say,
David DeCocteau, and his projects are almost as invariably embarrassing. Past
projects of variable note: The Lullaby (2017 / trailer), Prey
(2007 / trailer), City
of Blood (1987 / trailer), and Cryptid (2006 / trailer).
The true star of the show is, of course, the German model and actress
and total MILF Alexandra Kamp (born 29 December 1966), seen above not from the
film. (If we looked that good in the skin, we would eschew clothing totally.) Primarily
active in German TV movies, her name is well known there but hardly a sign of
quality. That said, she has been in a few fun B-flicks of varying quality — e.g., Deep Freeze (2002 / trailer), Shadow
Fury(2001 / trailer),Vampires(2010 / trailer) and Dracula
3000(2004 / trailer) — and were
she only more active in that field, we here at a wasted life can't help but feel that she would one possibly
achieve cult popularity as a genre Eurobabe of the 21st century.
In any event, when it comes to Sumuru, the German website Home of Fantastic Cinema more or less says: "The science
fiction film Sumuru beams motifs of
the English writer Sax Rohmer into outer space. If you overlook the absurdity
of the premise, this trivial film manages to establish an occasionally
plausible and interesting story despite the sometimes crass deficit of logic,
simplistic dialogue and in part weak acting. The South African director Darrell
James Roodt is, usually, a reliable producer of cinematic slag, but despite the
problems mentioned above Sumuru is
better than its (miserable) reputation and counts as one of the director's better
works. The film is a rare example of a science-fiction from the African
continent, even if was made with the massive support of German, Canadian, and
British co producers. It makes good use of exotic desert landscapes, and the
funding of the production is solid enough for it to pass as a 'real' movie —
only some of the dialogue and the computer-generated special effects are really
Dorian — Pact with
(2004, dir. Allan A.
Producers Rohm and Towers return to Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray — yes, the classic novel is in the public
domain. The cover below, typically 50s.
The script was written by Ron Raley (see: Split ) and Peter Jobin — no
"Peter Welback" found this time around. The adaptation is, let us
say, extremely free. Director Allan A. Goldstein, whose greatest claim to fame
is probably the flop that is Death Wish
V: The Face of Death (1994 / trailer), the only Death
Wish film not to include a rape scene, was also one of the many producers.
Over at Film Affinity, they simply use the plot description
supplied by Claudio Carvalho of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the imdb: "While temporarily working in
a photographic studio with the famous photographer Bae (Jennifer
Nitsch [10 Dec 1966 –13 June 2004], possible suicide), the simple and
handsome worker Louis (Ethan Erickson of Jawbreaker [1999 / trailer] and John
Dies in the End [2012 / trailer]) meets her manager Henry (Malcolm McDowell of Tank Girl  and sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
much more), who is impressed with his beauty. He invites Louis for taking some
pictures, gives the artistic name of Dorian to him as an homage to 'Dorian
Gray' and a framed picture of him. Louis wishes to have the same fate of Dorian
Gray, and from this moment on, he becomes very successful in the career of
model. As years go by, he notes that only his picture ages, and he has the same
face of years ago."
In the book Indie Horrors! The
Not-To-Be-Missed, The Acceptable, and The Forgettable, author Barry
Atkinson writes: "A flashy, trashy updating of Oscar Wilde's classic
novel, fare for the MTV generation and virtually going straight to DVD, but any
film featuring the mighty Malcolm McDowell (playing the devil) has to be worth
a look, surely. Ethan Erickson (wooden in his role) is the preening pretty boy
Louis, renamed Dorian by McDowell [...]. Each frame is filled with the
beautiful wealthy set and their parties, highlighted by a semi-pop soundtrack.
McDowell reinvents his Clockwork Orange (1975
/ trailer) persona with undisguised glee, and the
women are gorgeous. [...] Yes, it's a million miles away from Wilde's book and
purists will balk at this particular rendition of his work, but it's reasonably
entertaining for 90-odd minutes and McDowell makes it worth a look
Interestingly enough, and typical of critical writing, over at the
imdb, zeppo-227 basically writes the same thing, but with
a reverse opinion: "This is a modern updating of the classic, Picture of Dorian Grey. As if the Oscar
Wilde story was rewritten by sex & shopping book hack, Jackie Collins.
There's nothing new here except for the setting, in a photo model environment
instead of Victorian London.
It starts off interesting enough but McDowell as a poor man's Devil, begins to
chew the scenery before too long. And sadly, Ethan Erickson doesn't have the
range of acting to successfully portray the slowly morally declining Dorian.
For a study in debauchery, there's precious little shown, you would get the
idea the height of decadence was dancing in a few discos on the continent.
Surprising since the video I watched had an 18 certificate. The original film version
was made under far more stringent censorship rules but still was able to imply
the depths that Dorian sunk to in his pursuit of hedonistic pleasures. This is
just fodder for the MTV generation, full of flash style and hip music but
lacking in any real substance at all."
Our biggest complaint about the flick is that Ethan Erickson doesn't
do a nude full frontal. In fact, no one does a nude full frontal, not even the
gorgeous women. To use one of the favorite words of tha fat joke in the White House: Sad.
The Sea Wolf
(2005, dir. Mark Roper)
Aka: The Pirate's Curse.
Maria Rhom is co-producer of this "Peter Welbeck"-written flick.
After the massive success of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the
Black Pearl (2003 / trailer below), still the best film of the whole
series, pirate movies once again became a thing. Hardly surprising that Towers
did one, too. But, in the good ol' exploitation fashion, the advertising is a
trick: the tale is set in the contemporary world — "Great movie for all
the family, adventure and fun in the islands. Great scenery and car chases."
— and is not a swashbuckler in yesteryear. Also: does the name sound familiar?
It should: Jack London wrote a book entitled The Sea Wolf which, actually, has little in common with this film
but surely inspired the name of the ship in this movie.
to Pirates of the Caribbean — The
first & the best one:
The back of an old VHS offers the following plot description:
"Discharged from the US Navy for disobeying orders, Thorpe (Thomas Ian
Griffith) sails the high seas as a mercenary for hire in his sleek ship called
'Sea Wolf'. Upon meeting the beautiful and mysterious Helene (Gerit Kling), she enlists Thorpe to find Moctezuma's
Treasure, millions in jewels and artifacts, and return it to the government of
Mexico. What he doesn't realize is that this will not only be his most
dangerous mission ever, but also his most deadly."
On the website to Blue Rider Pictures, which did the "bridge
financing" for The Sea Wolf (2005),
they can't help reprint the (probably) singular good thing anyone has said about
the movie: "What director Mark Roper has made is cheesy fun. It's nice to
see an update of the swashbuckling genre, even if it is in jest. I enjoyed Sea Wolf in all it's [sic] campy
splendour. [Ryan Cracknell @
Apollo Movie Guide]"
Blue Rider, in turn, also reveals: "Released on Hungarian
TV in 2005 and on Spanish and Finnish DVD in Spring of 2006. It was also seen
it the U.S., Canada, Italy and Denmark." But the TV release explains the
decided lack of flesh in the film.
The Sea Wolf:
In any event, over at Amazon some guy named Michael Butts was slightly less impressed than Ryan Cracknell and wrote, "Sea Wolf — The Pirate's Curse is lame,
ponderous, and dull. Any attempts at humor fall extremely flat, and the whole
movie is limp and flaccid. Thomas Ian Griffith [...] is one of the most bland
heroes we've seen in some time. Attempting to be a new Harrison Ford, Griffith
only serves to remind us how great Indiana Jones was, and how any movies
claiming to be 'like' it always fall flat. Add Gerit Kling, a lovely German
actress, whose accident [sic] is almost indecipherable, Barry Flatman who lives
up to his last name in his role as a villainous colonel, and assorted chases
and you have one cheesy movie. The heroes actually use a coral-colored
Volkswagen as their getaway car; the bad guys pursue an old Chevy Impala in
Suzukis!!! There is little to recommend the film except for some lovely scenery
Speaking of Gerit Kling, pictured above from a German Playboy pictorial, her sister Anja King
is found in Mark Roper's (Towers and Rhom-produced) High Adventure (2001, see somewhere
above), which also starred Thomas Ian Griffith. Not a very important
fact, but an excuse to include the picture. As for Barry Flatman, he's been
part of better films, including The
Returned (2013 / trailer), The
Paperboy (1994 / trailer), and Patch Town (2014).