Saturday, September 28, 2013

Black Candles


To be honest, I can’t imagine, besides the director who helmed it (Larraz; Vampyres), that Black Candles (1982) would be of much consequence if it weren’t for the involvement of cult actress Helga Liné as the “hostess” for a couple who happen across her, receiving a place to stay and soon learning of her ties to Satanists. Helga Liné is primarily known for earlier films such as The Blancheville Monster, Nightmare Castle, Horror Express (perhaps her most famous), and Lorelei’s Grasp (my favorite of hers; from Blind Dead series director Ossorio). She’s been in everything…a giallo here, a kremi there, with some haunted house and a loosened curse; there wasn’t a genre Ms. Helga Liné hasn’t starred in. The peblum and spaghetti western both have starred Ms. Helga Liné. Well, erotica is no mystery to her, either.

Warning: Nudity
My Imdb Review from 2009
Along with her Latin professor beau Robert(Mauro Ribera), Carol(Vanessa Hidalgo) returns to London to visit her dead brother's wife, Fiona(Helga Liné)regarding his will. What she soon discovers is that her brother could very well have been a victim of witchcraft and that Fiona could belong to a Satanic cult. When John falls prey to Fiona's seduction, eventually joining the cult of his own free will, will Carol be able to escape?

Notorious for it's displays of a Satanic cult's sordid activities, José Ramón Larraz's BLACK CANDLES seems to be about an innocent's potential danger, as she pursues the real truth about her rather athletic and active brother's heart attack. You get plenty of soft-core sex, as the three leads often engage in spirited acts of love-making(Ribera has the privilege of having sex multiple times with both Liné & Hidalgo). As mentioned, a member of the cult(..the one having sex with Fiona's husband when the voodoo doll needle action took place)willingly copulates with a goat as Carmen Carrión(..as the lusty maid Georgiana)and her stable hand grounds keeper husband and lover watch. The film also features a sinister "reverend" who serves as the leader of this clan of Devil worshipers(..and gets to have sex with Helga and Vanessa as well). The film isn't really complex with any depth involving Satanism, just the exploitive nature of a clan of wealthy British aristocrats enjoying all the debauchery that their religion provides(..it's established that these people became rich due to selling their souls, enjoying the fruits by conducting ceremonies to Lucifer). ROSEMARY'S BABY is an obvious inspiration, shades of that premise(..except for the "baby" part), the practice of Satan worship by normal-looking people, hiding their religion from the outside world(..it's also mentioned that these covens are everywhere, establishing their "threat"). Besides the infamous goat sex is an unfortunate victim's anal stabbing by a sword(..Georgiana's husband who threatened to expose the coven)..we realize that this coven will resort to whatever measures are necessary to keep their secret worship just that. The film is essentially soft-sore pornography, with the devil worship an excuse to display deviant behavior. Hidalgo fulfills the Mia Farrow role here, spending a vast amount of time either naked or in her undergarments..very little time is Hidalgo wearing a wardrobe of any kind. The real star here is Helga Liné, embracing her role with relish, easily one of her best performances displaying a middle-age seductress who peeps on Carol and Robert having sex, moves in on her sister-in-law's man(..stealing him away with her impressive feminine wiles), and converts new members to Lucifer's flock because of this overwhelming power she has at her disposal.

SPOILER:The incredibly insipid conclusion, using the clichéd "it's all a nightmare" scenario with Carol awakening to find that all we have witnessed before was fictional, is an absolute cop-out that feels forced on us as if director Larraz had to include it due to outside influence.
















Black Candles doesn’t cover new or fresh ground. Larraz loves plentiful sex in his cult movies. Vampyres is notorious for its female vampire lesbian lovers and their bloodthirsty preying on men who happen upon them, and in Black Candles, there’s a possible Satanist coven in an area of England that a couple might soon find themselves. Like Vampyres, there’s lots of softcore sex (even a scene where a nympho fucks a goat) and a little violence (a sword anally killing a guy who rubs them the wrong way), but while Helga Liné is the headliner (yep, pun intended), the film is viewed through the troubled perspective of her female guest. Liné was at 50 when she got naked in Black Candles, and while I feel now after revisiting it (I’ve watched this twice since my initial viewing (I will include my imdb review on the blog here)) that she wasn’t the woman in full nude body riding men in the film (notice how the “double” hides her face, with Larraz carefully shooting Liné’s face and breasts only while her character was in the throes of ecstasy with her female guest’s beau). Whoever it was, their body isn’t bad to look at. Neither was Liné, for that matter. I was thinking about the whole MILF and Stacey’s Mom Cougar uprising thanks to American Pie in 1999 and how porn took a noticeably direction towards older women and younger men, while watching Black Candles. While Liné was at 50, it wasn’t unreasonable to think younger men couldn’t be seduced by her. It wasn’t far-fetched. A couple running afoul of Satanists was nothing new by ’82, especially coming out of the 70s where that had been the norm. That and multiple partners shagging each other. Larraz just added to all of that with his film. The “twist” at the end (it’s all a dream) was already tired by ’82, and I’m not sure why it was needed here. I did grin when the “roles are reversed” and the head Satanist actually turns out to be a priest (that’s irony for you) in reality, but besides the one murder by the group, the sole reason behind any sort of villainy is that the coven embraces the Devil as their deity of worship. Liné as seductress and influential in her indoctrination of the outsiders into her coven is probably the main attraction for cult movie buffs. If she weren’t involved, I figure Black Candles would be just another run-of-the-mill Satan-and-sex genre film. It really still is, but Liné adds spice to it all. She sure wears her age well and it wasn’t unconvincing to me that she’d still be able to draw younger men (and women, for that matter) into her web. Can one resist Madame Liné? Not in this movie. She loses herself in the part and seems to be enjoying the role, too. Maybe that’s part of the film’s seductive appeal…her. The film has other characters, for sure, and the lead female guest gets full body nude all throughout, but Liné is always front and center when she appears on screen. The eyes are on her. Larraz knows this and occupies his attentions on her aplenty.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Spit on Your Grave 2


Vengeance is mine...
Katie is a model hoping to make it in NYC, but she has no idea that an audition that proves unsuccessful when she refuses to pose nude will lead to unimaginable horrors.
**½

Tuesday, September 24, 2013



Like a lot of horror fans, I have been mulling over my "watch lists" for the first days of October. I have even set aside two vacation days about the 23rd and 24th specifically for all day horror marathons coming up next month. It is an exciting time for those of us who try to ridiculously cram as many horror movies as we can in each day, only to burn ourselves out by the third week. The fourth week comes around and a lot of us peeter out on our movie-watching. Many this year will take part in the imdb horror challenge, but I felt that I would take a one-year break from that to just watch movies that I want, not adhere to a specific set of rules. I have plenty of "new horror" (that is old horror I've never seen, along with some recent horrors like Sinister & The Woman in Black I have set aside) set aside for the occasion, this year, but I also plan to return to some films that haven't made the cut in the last two (Argento's Phenomenon will return, as well as, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, Captain Kronos, Let's Scare Jessica to Death, & Lemora), so I hope for an epic October. I'm not sure what the hell I will do on the blog. I'm not sure I will have the time required to dedicate to full reviews, but I would love to carry the excitement and thrill of new experiences and the reacquaintance of older horror films that haven't been on the screen for a few years onto the blog. Particularly, if some of the films making the cut this year (like Twins of Evil, Lust of the Vampire, Zolton Hound of Dracula, and Dracula Rising) are as fun as I hope they will be. I like that I will be mixing it up a little more this year (throwing in Wes Craven's Deadly Blessing, The Dark Side of Midnight, and Tombs of the Blind Dead; the list I want to be eclectic), and maybe the format on the blog will be a bit out of the ordinary. Dunno, we shall see.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I realize some are probably tired of horror fans (including myself) bitching about the heavy usage of CGI in "spook" horror these days, but I was already groaning ten minutes into Mama (2013), and it continued throughout the whole damned thing. I will have to really summon the inspiration to give this film a review of any depth because it just kind of left me with this constant gag-reflex. It was a ghost that couldn't look more cartoonish and unrealistic. Something out of a Harry Potter movie (except less impressive or creepy) but less-defined. And all those fucking butterflies. Eegad.

The Lords of Salem



A radio disc jockey--part of a popular late night team--living in Salem, Massachusetts, never emotionally recovers after listening to the music of a vinyl record by a band simply called The Lords. When she begins a mental deterioration, and a historian begins to research her past, there could be a link to the curse of burned-alive witches.
***

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Nightmare on Elm Street [2010]


For some inexplicable reason, teens in high school of a particular association (perhaps linked to a preschool where a gardener worked) are being tormented and killed in their dreams by a burn-faced man with razor-knife fingered glove, most of the time in some steaming, flaming boiler room. Will any of them survive?
**

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hostel III


On what was supposed to be a fun bachelor party weekend soon descends into a nightmare when the prospective groom and his best buddies find themselves as potential torture toys for a club of sadists.
**

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kiss of the Damned




Paolo is a writer who falls in love (and vice versa) with an aristocratic vampire, with the two soon having to endure the interference of her returning sister, a wild child with no filter on her vampirism.
***



Vampires and Dark Romance are definite bedfellows, and Kiss of the Damned (2012) doesn’t invent the wheel. Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia) is a screenwriter who eyes the forlorn Djuna (Joséphine de La Baume) in a club. Both are lonely. Djuna lives in a mansion and feeds off animals instead of humans while Paolo is in need of companionship. They both could complement each other in the department of love and sexual fulfillment. The vampire genre has pretty much at this point used up all its resources. I’m not sure what else we can expect at this time except doing the same rounds that have been tread since the likes of Murnau’s Nosferatu and Browning’s Dracula. Milo cracks a smile once he’s with Joséphine but the guy needs a personality because I couldn’t care less about him or his character. In fact, even when you’d think he would be absorbed by the relationship with Joséphine after seemingly going through the motions of an unfulfilled life, Milo hasn’t the power to summon the least bit of joy. It’s all stiff and lifeless. Joséphine is blessed with a European beauty that fits perfectly with the part of a longing-for-love vampire, shown sulking and in misery, whose countenance cannot rise above the near pit of despair her existence seems to have provided her. 






Even more troublesome to Djuna is her ravenous sister, Mimi (Roxane Mesquida), a carnivorous vampire more than willing to feast from mortal humans without the slightest hint of remorse or regret. Djuna reports to an opera star who seems to be an authoritative vampire with some level of prestige, but her sister gets the benefit of the doubt when all would point to her needing to be contained for the benefit of vampires in general. That said, Mimi brings a fan to the famous performer for a “snack” that ends in blood. Meanwhile, Paolo’s agent (played by a coke-snorting Michael Rapaport, looking might weary) , has been trying to get in contact with him, finally reaching the young writer at Djuna’s mansion. Sleeping off a drunken binge and coke high, the agent is soon attacked by a vampire. Who could have been? It’d be easy to point at Mimi, but Djuna and Paolo both have the same vampiric appetite…







The movie is sexy, and Joséphine and Roxane are both seductive screen beauties, so Kiss of the Damned (I think its chief goal to feature sexy and dangerous vampires in contemporary society trying to co-exist with humans, secretly feeding from them on occasion) is a success in what I believe it wants to set out to accomplish. It isn’t original and doesn’t cover fresh terrain, opting to follow the bumpy ride against the romance of Joséphine and Milo, both of whom contend with Roxane’s infiltration of their potential happiness. Because the couple is dealing with “the hunger”, they aren’t altogether happy, but Roxane seems right the opposite: because she doesn’t fight against what she is and how she hungers, Roxane’s Mimi embraces her voracious appetite. The movie is headed in one direction it seems: Mimi will have to be removed from the equation in order for Mimi and Paolo to ever truly remain in their good place in the relationship. Mimi’s reckless behavior and unstable bloodthirst (and her precocious attitude, needing to be naughty, always causing trouble, Mimi’s a handful) are certain to be her undoing.



Because Paolo is a man, he cannot resist the eventual seduction of Mimi once she makes a move on him in a steamy shower. Weakened by not taking from humans, Djuna is told to rest while the sullen Paolo is in the shower, soon to be joined by Mimi. Without getting too explicit or featuring a great bit of nudity (Paolo’s sex scene with Djuna is similarly shot), the sex scenes featuring Paolo and the vampire sisters still, to me, are quite sensual and erotic…both women have a lot to do with that. Chained for a while at her behest, Djuna is soon released by Paolo and her hunger can no longer be abated. Paolo is bitten, and she admits to Mimi that he is her love. Mimi is always at odds with Djuna because of their deep-seeded dislike for each others’ ways. It is obvious Mimi relishes the idea of seducing her sister’s man so the attempt isn’t surprising. And because Mimi is powerfully persuasive when it comes to her seductive charms, it’s not surprising Paolo is unable to resist. Both Djuna and Paolo eventually cop to mistakes they made (feeding from a friend, fucking a sister) and all’s well that ends well. Oh, and Mimi receives her just punishment for egregiously motivating her opera singing mentor to take a bite out of a 17-year-old fan…a deer in the road and a sun in the sky took care of her. Djuna’s faithful maid lights a smoke while watching Mimi smoke!




This film does show that taking from humans seems to generate far more strength than animal life as evident when Mimi lifts Djuna from her feet by the throat with relative ease. Djuna just wants Mimi out of her life, off her residence, and put away for the long term due to her insatiable bloodlust. The film also relates to us that the hunger never dissipates. At an after-opera party, Djuna and Paolo both find unrest as human throats call to them. Not Mimi, as she picks up a man from a club, takes him off to the side, as the public goes on their way, ripping out his throat and reveling in the taste of flesh and blood. Mimi desires authority and the fruits of what her vampirism can provide. It isn’t about mingling amongst the mortals and trying to fit in; Mimi wants to rule and feast.




















My favorite scene is undeniably Djuna’s unrepentant craving, spurning from arousal in Paolo, unchained in her bed even though he knows she is dangerous and out of control. I got a vicarious thrill from that gorgeous body writing in equal parts ecstasy and agony. Sex and Hunger at odds, both eventually leading to Paolo’s turning. It is the orgasm at the end of the orgasm. Djuna satisfies her sexual and blood hunger all at the moment of her orgasmic peak…Paolo is the reason she could reach this rapturous moment. This separates Kiss of the Damned from one of those damned Twilight movies. While I think both women are delicious in their own ways, Roxane--dare I say it?--has the juicier part as Mimi. She is the femme fatale, an absolute vampish heavy; in wickedness does she leave her mark. Joséphine has that sad kind of beauty fit for paintings: always warring against what she is, and having brought the man she loves into that same dilemma of ferocious hunger, in a sense condemning him to a never-ending desire for human blood not to be quenched.



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The Boogens - Intro

While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing ...