Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Gogol's Triple-Bills: Furious but Furless - Three Non-Werewolf Naschy Flicks

Master of Spanish gothic horror Paul Naschy is famed for his regular appearances as werewolf Waldemar Daninsky, yet despite a werewolfography as long as the thick rope of bloody drool dangling from his perpetually gnashing maw Naschy also appeared in a number of other roles. The films I have chosen this time reflect a more diverse approach to genre filmmaking and are my preferred non-lupin entries into his body of work.

The Mummy’s Revenge  (Carlos Aured, 1973)

Naschy’s turn as the Egyptian undead ditches the sleazier elements of Euro-horror and commits to gorgeous sets, opulent costumes and generous gore. Playing both the Mummy and a descendent driven to resurrect it Naschy seems to have tremendous fun stalking the streets of Victorian London looking for sacrificial victims.

This is one of the most beautifully produced horrors Naschy has made. The sets, from gold laden sacrificial temples to dank but evocative sewers, display a spectrum of rich textures. This mix is also present in the Mummy costume: a composite of filthy rags and shimmering gold jewellery. These juxtaposed materials help create a rich and tactile movie that tickles all the right nerve endings.

El Ultimo Kamikaze (Jacinto Molina, 1984)

Leaving horror altogether Naschy, billed under his real name, directs himself in a crime-thriller that oozes Dirty Harry and ItalianEuro-crime. Having watched this in its original language (a language I am unable to speak) I’m not a 100% clear on the story, but it appears that Naschy is a hitman with a penchant for disguise and whose Father may have been a Nazi war criminal.

This is something of a vanity project with Naschy getting to act tough and frolic with a number of partially dressed women. Or not dressed at all. Yeah, this movie is dripping with sleaze. The flashbacks to the Nazi camps allow for some dalliance in Nazi-sploitation shenanigans while even something as simple as a pool party features be-speedoed muscle men flexing and women running around with nothing on.

What struck me more than the sex were the film's influences, most notably some direct lifts from Magnum Force. The opening credits sees a revolver being loaded and fired against a red backdrop while the pool party descends into a machine-gun bloodbath.

And just because this is an action thriller rather than a horror doesn’t mean Naschy skimps on the red. Grenades take off limbs, bullets rip through flesh and the camera lingers on the aftermath of whatever carnage has taken place so that we really get to soak in whatever fleshy wreckage has been left.

“Nazi-sploitation”, “sleaze” and “fleshy wreckage” doesn’t make this film sound a lot of fun and yet Naschy does manage to present all of this with a sense of the absurd. Naschy’s disguises make Clouseau look like the T-1000. It is really difficult to be upset by a movie that features Naschy dressed as the shittest women ever lobbing grenades at a Sheik.

Horror Rises From the Tomb (Carlos Aured, 1973)

When not indulging his lycanthropic proclivities Naschy tends to dabble in medieval witchcraft. Horror Rises from the Tomb is a nice example of film that has a little of that but also manages to throw in some contemporary stuff as well. Naschy plays a master of the black arts who, along with his female accomplice, is beheaded for his dalliances with Lucifer. Fast-forward to modern times and a séance brings back the lopped bonce and unleashes all manner of ghastly goings on. This is a proper kitchen sink movie with murders, car chases, zombies, a kick-ass executioner, sex, a talking severed head and all sorts. It doesn’t quite have the integrity of The Mummy’s Revenge or the shamelessness of Kamikaze, but it’s a fun horror flick that ticks a lot of boxes.

I go on about Paul Naschy a lot on this site but his huge filmography keeps throwing up genre gems. If you’re a genre fanatic there really is loads of fun to be had with Naschy, even if werewolves aren’t you thing.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Ninjas Ninjas Ninjas! Ninja Cheerleaders (David Presley, 2008)

George Takei trains three 18 year-old college girls to be ninjas. He also runs a strip joint where these girls regularly strip to their undies to fund their continued education. I'm not sure I like George Takei's character in this movie.
Anyway, despite being an ethically questionable and exploitative opportunist we, the audience, are apparently meant to care when he is kidnapped by the mob for some reason or another. The girls give up their dreams to better themselves instead choosing to track down their mentor/pimp.
This movie comes in at under 90 minutes but outstays its welcome after about fifteen. Shot dirt-cheap and with no identifiable visual style aside from an overuse of Cube Spin transitions this movie has very few ninjas, very little ninja action and absolutely nothing else to offer except Michael Pare and competent sub-season one Buffy martial arts sequences. In short, imagine the trailer below lasted 80 minutes and you've pretty much established the experience you would be in for.
It appears that my grading system has at last got it right: this is a poor movie that also fails to satisfy in its ninja content. One small note; my attention began waning about twenty minutes into the film and as such the statistics below are the product of the minimal concentration required to claim I've seen this movie and, as such, may not be 100% accurate.

Ninja Abilities – Partially stripping.

Ninja Kit – Katana (two of which seem to generate electricity and/or magical energy).

Ninja Colours –Black.

Notable Ninja Kills – Zero (Takei pinches a woman into unconsciousness, but it is unclear whether she is dead or not).

Ninja Activity? – Low.

Ninja Mythology - Ninjas run after-school clubs in questionable locations.

Overall rating: - 0.23

Wondering what the hell you just read? Check out the introduction that explains everything you need to know about this column here!