Tag Archives: Euro-horror

Ridiculous scene o’ the month: Slapstick sk8ter grl

This month’s Ridiculous Scene comes courtesy of the equally ridiculous 1983 movie Pieces, in which a loon with a hard-on for a nudie jigsaw cuts up various college girls to make a human sex doll.

Allegedly, according to the young actress featured below (she posts on the Pieces IMDb message boards), this scene was supposed to be what set the killer off, reminding him of the pre-credits slaying, and costing her her head a scene or two later.

If nothing else, it should serve as a lesson not to mount a skateboard if you have no fucking clue how to ride it.

pieces11a

pieces3b

pieces5b
pieces6b
pieces8b

And there you have it. Falling to pieces in several senses of the word.

Penis envy

PIECES

3 Stars  1983/18/82m

“You don’t have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre!”

A.k.a. Chainsaw Devil

Director: J. Piquer Simon / Writers: Dick Randall & Joe D’Amato [as John Shadow] / Cast: Christopher George, Frank Brana, Lynda Day George, Paul Smith, Edmund Purdom, Ian Sera, Jack Taylor, Isabelle Luque.

Body Count: 7

Dire-logue: “The most beautiful thing in the world is smoking pot and fucking on a waterbed.”


A quick run of the plot before we look at the ‘unique viewing experience’ that is Pieces. At a Boston college campus, which looks an awful lot like Madrid, a maniac is chainsawing off various appendages of the female students in accordance with the nudie jigsaw he’s obsessed with. Who is it and why blah blah blah…

Even though I’ve dolled out a generous three stars, Pieces cannot be regarded as a good film by any standards. It’s truly horrendous no matter how you cut it (with chainsaw or not). But nevertheless, it’s a funny-as-fuck 82 minutes. To truly convey the spirit of Pieces, we’re going to need a few pictures.

Beginning in 1942, the killer-to-be is caught by his strict mom playing with the nudie jigsaw. She loses her shit, smashes a mirror and photo of her husband, and tells sonny she’s going to burn the filth. In turn, he whacks her in the head with an axe and saws off her head, pretending to the police that he has merely survived the attack when they force their way in, after nobody answers the push-button phone. Hmm… looks a bit advanced for 1942, don’t it?

Forty years later at the college campus, a girl skateboards into a giant mirror. Then she goes to lie down and study, but along comes a chainsaw-toting loon and cuts off her head.

The cops (cheese favourite, Christopher George and Frank Brana) come along and the college Dean (Purdom) requests that they keep quiet, saying he’s told the staff it was an “unfortunate accident”. Would like you see how he explained that… she tripped and fell on a running chainsaw then her head rolled into a storm drain?

The killings continue in a clunky, idiotic way… The next victim is a cute blonde girl who first introduces us to one of our leading men, ‘Campus Heartthrob’ Kendall.

I know, right?

Anyway, cute blonde girl goes off to the swimming pool for a topless dip and is soon attached by the most frightening predator of all: THE POOL-SKIMMER KILLER!

Echoes of the killer’s garb at the start of The Burning don’t you think? With the lethal pool skimmer, our loon pulls cute blonde girl out of the water and lays her out flat while he fetches his handy chainsaw and comes at her with it. Does she do what the rest of us would and just roll back into the pool and swim away? No. She’s sits there quivering, allowing him to remove all her limbs and head and make off with the torso.

At this point, the finger of suspicion is pointed at beady-eyed custodian Willard. The actor playing him (Paul Smith) was a shoo-in to play Bluto in the 1980 Popeye movie that starred Robin Williams. No question, the guy is Bluto. And he has a big chainsaw that he strokes. And loves. It’s his friend fo’ sure.

The killer tries once and fails to capture his victim of choice – the dancer in the blue ‘tard – but catches up with her later in the first scene that really began to show just how phallic a movie Pieces is. The girl leaves the dance studio alone and, as she closes the door, another one opens and the killer skulks through holding his big, penis-shaped chainsaw. And, because he appears as a shadow, it looks like he’s just walking along with a giant stiff one. Regardé:

See?

Like, really see?

There you go. Big and brutal. What ensues is one of those classic Jason-style chases where the girl flees through an endless maze of corridors but the killers feet mope along slowly, and yet he’s still apparently only just behind her. Eventually, she reaches the safety of the elevator and bumps into the killer – GASP! – she knows and trusts him!

In one of Pieces‘ many ridiculous moments, the killer climbs into the lift behind the girl wielding the fuck off massive ass chainsaw and somehow conceals it!? A few seconds later, out it comes like he’s flashing her with it and he takes her arms off.

Despite being outside and quite far from the building, Kendall hears the commotion from inside a concealed box halfway between floors and, with two cops, breaks in to find the poor girl minus her upper limbs.

Christopher George recruits real life wife Lynda Day George – who is some tennis-pro-cum-detective called Mary – to investigate the college. Posing as a tennis pro. Kendall fancies the pants of her and even cuts short a shag to spy on her. This scene is something to behold and one that compounds the borderline uncomfortable misogynistic taste of the film. While he leaves the bed to gaze upon Mary, his female companion promises she’ll try not to let herself get so carried away and then tells him he can tie her up and gag her if it means they can continue!

Nevertheless, the scene is noteworthy for a little equal opportunity gender objectification. As ‘college heartthrob’ Kendall climbs out of bed, the nude-o-meter pings to the seldom used male end of the spectrum for a quick, profile cock shot!

What a hunk. Ladies and gay fellows watching must have been be so overjoyed to see it.

Randomly, Mary is attacked by an Oriental dude outside and Kendall comes along and saves her, even though she manages to strike him down. He gets up, as introduced as Kendall’s Kung Fu master, says something about eating bad chop suey, and buggers off. IMDb trivia tells us the actor – Bruce Le! – was something of a tribute act to his neo-namesake and a friend of the producers, so they made up this totally random scene to crowbar him in. Gotta love that.

Next on Pieces death-to-PC-values toboggan ride is the killing of the snooping reporter. Naturally, it’s a she, and said lady finds herself accosted by the killer in some random building where there’s a waterbed. Things go into slo-mo for what’s possibly the most overtly sex/death crossover on screen. The killer’s big, shiny, dildo-sized knife keeps coming down at her and the victim grunts as blood spunks over her face and, when the blade pierces the waterbed, it resembles some kind of twisted porno the patrons of Elite Hunting would jack off to.

While the scene is high art in terms of what Pieces is capable of (i.e. very little), it’s got a disturbing edge to it. The slow motion seems to prolong the victim’s suffering in some belief that the audience will enjoy the spectacle.

The killer doesn’t even require a body part from this victim, she was merely the curious one who gets too close. I wonder what the scene might’ve been like had they cast a male actor in the role… Probably a quick, from-behind knifing with none of the waterbed theatrics.

The female victims in Pieces are pathetic idiots, the kind of useless girls that don’t really exist beyond the realms of cheap-ass exploitation movies like this. That they freeze up, fail to even try and save themselves when there are ample opportunities must be riling for the non-stupid female viewer. Hardly any of them are given names let alone any facets of character of motivation; they exist purely to strip off and then die, making Pieces possibly the most aggressive film when it comes to pointing out the ones that feminists are actually right about.

The final kill does nothing different. Kendall and Mary go to play tennis and are put off by loud, annoying big band music blaring from the speakers. In the meantime, some random girl who lost a game to Lynda earlier, is chased around the changing rooms (topless, of course), cornered, wets her pants, and is sliced in two.

Yes, the dildo-saw blade strikes again. There are couple of neat shots in this sequence though, and it’s soon followed by the film’s most hilarious moment. When Kendall, Mary, and the custodian guy find the body, she yells out: “While we were fumbling with that music, the lousy bastard was in there killing her!” then she shrieks; “Bastard!” and then; “Bastard!” and a beat later; “Bastaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard!”

Where did her career go, we must ask ourselves?

Eventually, everyone involved seems to grow bored and they decide to reveal the killer and bring proceedings to a close. Lynda George is sent to talk to the Dean with questions she has about her various suspects, only Kendall and the non-Chris George detective find out that the Dean was the boy who axed mama!!! Too late for Mary though, because Evil Dean has laced her coffee with a paralyzing drug and intends to cut off her feet.

The cops and Kendall show up and shoot him, saving the day for all yaddah yaddah yaddah… As they clear out, the non-Chris George cop leans against a wall that spins around, throwing the stitched-together human doll right on top of Kendall. But here, Pieces does what Pieces does best. Fucks with us.

*

It’s like a totally different girl in two seconds.

Pieces‘ final shock, and possible apology for its kill-the-stupid-girls extravaganza, is that the corpse suddenly animates and rips off campus heartthrob Kendall’s balls! Random shit.

In conclusion, Pieces is funny now, in 2013, but thirty years ago, when the people looked regular and their hair and fashion tastes weren’t repulsive, it would be a worrying sight to behold: countless pretty girls being horrifically cut up, all with their tits out, acting like morons – it’s really not that long ago. That said, it’s more idiotic than spiteful, probably just a box-ticking exercise on behalf of a couple of guys who said: “People like gore and tits.”

I don’t particularly like the film and my third star was added for the sheer laugh-at quality/failing that Pieces is stacked with. It’s a pitiful piece of crap, but viewed in the right mindset, it’s bloody hilarious.

Blurbs-of-interest: Christopher George, who died the same year, was in Graduation Day and, with his surviving wife, in Mortuary; Purdom was in Don’t Open Till Christmas and Absurd; Jack Taylor was in fellow slasher Espanol, Edge of the Axe.

Twists of fury: Shadow

In this feature, Vegan Voorhees examines those jaw-dropping revelations that the slasher film loves to bat our way from the blue, like a pushy parent tossing softballs at a kid who doesn’t want to learn baseball.

This time, marvel at the double-twist that adorns the climax of Italiano-but-in-English flick, Shadow. As ever, if you’ve not seen it, QUIT READING NOW.

shadow-pics

Set Up: Recently done-with-Iraq/Afghanistan American soldier David (Jake Muxworthy), delays his return home for a cycling vacation in the beautiful scenery of somewhere. I can’t remember if they even tell you what country he’s gone to. I digress, he befriends fellow-pedallar Angeline and they piss-off some redneck hunters before all four find themselves captured by a Gollum-esque sadist who enjoys torturing the men… David escapes to save Angeline but –

Twist: …it was all a dream. Well, a coma-imagined limbo-cum-fighting-to-stay-alive thing. David’s in hospital after he and his squadron fell on a landmine. The redneck guys are two colleagues; Angeline is the nurse; the killer-dude was clearly death on legs.

And speaking of legs, David has none left below the knee. Something that will undoubtedly thwart the planned cycling trip.

Problems with this revelation: It’s just naff, isn’t it? The kind of miracle twist you’d write at school thinking you’d fooled everybody! What’s worse, the limbo/fighting-death thing was done in Soul Survivors, although in that trash only good, middle-class, white, heterosexual, Christian teenagers were able to make it back.

Likely explanation: Decently cruel no-legs twist notwithstanding, Shadow seems to have been reverse engineered from the twist backwards. At 75 minutes, it’s a short affair, and with a decent edit could probably form part of an anthology to greater effect than a feature in its own right.

Disappointingly, aside from the gorgeous scenery, there’s little else in the film that hasn’t been done before. The torture scenes look like off-cuts from Hostel and the stalk n’ slashing is curiously tame and largely off-camera.

Murder! Mystery! and the Italian bra-shortage of 1981

FEAR

3.5 Stars  1981/97m

A.k.a. Murder Obsession (DVD); Murder Syndrome; The Wailing (UK video)

Director/Writer: Riccardo Freda / Writers: Antonio Cesare Corti, Simon Mizrahi & Fabio Piccioni / Cast: Stefano Patrizi, Anita Strindberg, Silivia Dionisio, John Richardson, Henri Garcia, Martine Brochard, Laura Gemser.

Body Count: 6

Laughter Lines: “After you were sent away [SPOILER] developed an interest in black magic. It was by this means, coupled with my psychic power, that [SPOILER] was able to induce you to [SPOILER SPOILER].”


The clock strikes giallo in this colorful black-glove mystery from gothic horror fixture Riccardo Freda, sometime mentor of Mario Bava.

Going under the usual phone-directory of alternate titles around the globe, Fear is an unusual and amusing slice of Italian cheese, in which actor Michael (Patrizi) visits his mother at her secluded country home with some industry friends in tow for a weekend “away from the smog” et cetera.

Much Psycho-ness abounds as the neo-incestual relationship between mother and son is apparent and Michael quite candidly tells his friends that he killed his father years before. He also begins ignoring Agnetha-esque girlfriend Debora, who has the longest dream sequence EVER, involving a spider with fingers.

About the only time her boobs stayed put

About the only time her boobs stayed put

Then soon after, the usual black-gloved loon starts doing away with the outsiders; gutting one, chainsawing another, axing a third.

Who is it? And why are the doing it? And who is it? Fear sort of collapses like a souffle as it pounds towards the bizarre ending, all black magic, cursed symbols, psychic abilities n’ such, but there’s a solid slasher movie opus lurking below the surface, and a killer with a rather standard motive.

Full of trademark zooms to suspicious expressions, a score that sounds like the composer had a seizure at the piano, bats on strings, boobs falling out of clothes at the slightest movement, and more than a few unintentional laughs from the dubbing and some of the cheapo effects on display, not least the axe in the head for one fellow. Did you know that when chopped in the noggin, the eyes actually disappear inside the skull!?

fear-axing123a

I mock, but I actually enjoyed Fear. It’s stacked with all manner of 70s/80s European fodder and Freda actually mixes the (then) new slasher craze with his gothic leanings quite well: Debora runs through the woods in a vicious downpour as lightning encroaches, and the house has a stone castle-like ambience, power that won’t stay on for long, and shitloads of candles everywhere.

Far and away the most intriguing thing about the film though, is Oliver. Oliver is mother’s butler/handyman/whatever. He takes in luggage, prepares supper, strikes a Five Star pose when about to be photographed and is the subject of nearly all of the zoom-red-herring moments. He appears at windows, stops for smell-the-fart moments when scrubbing the floor, walks in trances through the woods… What is he hiding? I’m not telling, but for now, behold the many stares of Oliver…

manystaresofoliver2

Despite all this super-fun, Fear seems largely unknown. A few websites I would bet on finding information about it came up blank and it’s almost as if it lay forgotten at the bottom of some VHS well throughout the 90s and 00s until it was dug up and bunged on DVD.

While not a must for fans, this is a whole lot better than a lot of Euro horror from the early 80s, with a little less sleaze to proceedings (despite the full frontal nudity and recurring “wardrobe malfunction” gag) and directed with substantial competence and flair by a bloke who was already in his 70s.

Blurbs-of-interest: Both Richardson and Brochard were in 1975’s Eyeball.

Crime in a tower block is wrong on so many levels

comedown2COMEDOWN

2.5 Stars  2012/15/90m

“It’s fun getting high… but the comedown is a killer.”

Director: Menhaj Huda / Writer: Steven Kendall / Cast: Jacob Anderson, Sophie Stuckey, Adam Deacon, Jessica Barden, Duane Henry, Callum MacNab, Geoff Bell.

Body Count: 6


Supposed demographic synopsis: Dis is da story, yeah? In South LDN, some bros from a crew is arksed to put a radio antenna at da top of da abandoned Mercy Point tower block. But da fing iz dat there is a psycho livin’ in da flatz and he killz dem one ba one innit.

Rest of society: In South London, six “friends” are asked to place a radio antenna at the top of the abandoned Mercy Point tower block. However, their plans to party are scuppered by the homicidal intervention of a psychotic resident who begins doing them in one by one.

British ‘urban’ posturing was always going to leak into the horror genre by osmosis eventually. Demons Never Die (which featured leading man here, Anderson), made a year before this, flirted with such characters, mixing them into the blend of some suicidal-but-then-not-quite college teens. And Tulisa from N-Dubz. Innit.

cd3a

Comedown is more or less the UK equivalent of films like Cutthroat Alley, Urban Massacre, and all those killer clowns-in-da-hood DVD releases that came out a while back and is directed by Kidulthood helmer Huda. Set in a grimy, rat-infested block of flats with six leads who are supposed to be friends but largely appear to detest one another, if you have no experience with this kind of lifestyle, it just looks like a parade of vulgar stereotypes who can’t get through a sentence without an expletive.

In that sense, it should be fun to watch them laid to waste by a killer with a predilection for powertool-themed killing, including an icky nail-gun to the eyeball. Other victims are torched, dissected, and thrown headfirst down garbage chutes. Mucho arguing grates in the first act, accompanied by a lot of walking up and down dim corridors, which recalls cheapo early slasher flick The Dorm That Dripped Blood, which padded with reams of the same ‘action’.

comedown-2pics

That said, a couple of the teens do become slightly more bearable once they get scared. The aggressive one who says ‘fuck’ a lot is done in early, leaving the slightly bland leading couple (consisting of ex-con-going-straight guy and his newly pregnant girlfriend), a couple of sheep, and gentle giant Col (Duane Henry – easily the most interesting) to find ways to split up.

The loon also turns out to be alumnus from the Jigsaw School of Improvised Death Traps: He boxes the kids in to the upper floors by welding a door over the elevator ground floor exit and wire mesh over the stairwells and later traps victims in a room behind a steel door and pipes in smoke.

Things eventually culminate all too quickly and fizzle out a little disappointingly. The killer’s motive seems to be no more complex than his love for pigeons and the cut n’ dried hero-is-blamed ‘twist’ feels ridiculously crowbarred in given the age of DNA testing we live in.

cd1a

Ultimately decent fare that gets better once the stalk and slashing begins but leans too heavily on ghetto cliches and can’t steer its way around some of the slasher movie necessities, features mere seconds of dreadful cheap looking CG work (you can’t miss it) and squanders some of the grubby, dirty, this-is-also-social-horror mechanics operating. Listen for a couple of actors compromising their “innit” accents as their dulcet tones seep through. Could do better, could do worse.

Blurbs-of-interest: Adam Deacon was in Wilderness; Geoff Bell was in Tormented and Botched; Gemma Leah Devereux from Stitches, plays one of the nurses (the one whose face we don’t even see!)

1 7 8 9 10 11 17