Counter Destroyer [1989]

I can honestly say that “Counter Destroyer” is the best DVD I have ever purchased from my grocery store. I’m not generally distracted by the bins of discount DVDs because of tragic unkept promises of amazingness from that source in the past. However, a double-bill of Far Eastern Wackiness was more than I could resist. Maybe I was just suffering from a moment of vulnerability brought on by the fact that my favorite ice cream sandwiches were out of stock, but I decided to give the double-bill of “Counter Destroyer” and “Magic of the Universe” a try. What did I have to lose except for two ninety minute chunks of time and three dollars? Nothing, meine freunde–that’s what.

Let’s begin by discussing what “Counter Destroyer is not about:

  • Counters being destroyed
  • Anything that makes sense

Let’s move on to discuss what the movie does include:

You need to know nothing more about this movie in order to want to see it, right? That’s what I thought.

For those of you who are traditionalists and require some kind of plot outline, I think the movie is about a woman who retires to an abandoned villa in order to write a screenplay about the Last Emperor of China and angers the spirits who then attack and attempt to possess her. There is a sorta-dovetailing plot about the producers of this same film who are working against evil probably-gangsters that are trying to bring their own movie on the same topic to market first. In Asia, you are apparently allowed to have lady private eyes assassinate your competitors with crossbows in order to secure your Droit de seigneur on a sensational biopic. Who knew!

The movie also has some of the Most Hilarious Dubbing Ever. Really–it’s gooooood stuff. It seems as if two guys and one woman sat around and dubbed the whole thing by themselves, putting on more and more outrageous accents as the character list developed. “Help–I’m running out of voices! The only one I have left for the tough gangster is Bert from ‘Sesame Street.’ I’m just going to have to roll with this…”

What a mess. What a beautiful, tapped-to-the-cerebral-cortex-with-a-small-hammer mess…

Really, there’s no better way to fall in love with “Counter Destroyer” than to just see a clip for yourself. Please accept this offering of You Tube clip goodness, internet:

More low-res than usual film stills from “Counter Destroyer” live here on Flickr.

The French Sex Murders [1972]

What a title, eh? “The French Sex Murders” works like a bullet list–you know exactly what you’re in for from the moment the title card appears on screen. The French–you’re covered with the opening image of the Eiffel Tower. Sex–we then head directly to a brothel. As for the “Murders,” the first one occurs within fifteen minutes.

You’ll notice that the film poster proudly displays the words “The Man With Bogart’s Face.” Now, I’ll be honest–I would far rather have seen a movie called “The Man With Bogart’s Face”–I’m picturing a “Maltese Falcon”/“Faceless” mash-up made of pure excellence. Or at least a movie that contained some moments of diverting weirdness. Sadly, “French Sex Murders,” in spite of its promisingly lurid title, just never lives up to its promise. The little “About This Film” blurb on the DVD extras was significantly more interesting than pretty much anything that happened during the course of the movie.

The story is told in flashback, opening with the death of an unidentified person leaping from the Eiffel Tower. Humphrey Bogart impersonator Robert Sacchi looks on, smoking a cigarette (naturally), and in voiceover tells the audience “it all began during Carnivale.” Cool so far, right? Yeah, except–not so much. The only glimpse we get of Carnivale is of two figures entering a brothel clad in hooded cloaks and eyemasks. I guess the budget was shot on those Eiffel Tower frames…

The storyline is reasonably OK, telling the story of a man accused of murdering his prostitute girlfriend in a Paris brothel. After all evidence in the case points to him, he is sentenced to death and vows to return from the grave to seek revenge on the people who have framed him. One must understand that the actor portraying the accused murderer is completely out of control. We’re talking eye-bulging, jaw-clenching, hardcore freak-outery here. If his character had lived and gone on to further displays of mania throughout the film, there might’ve been more to enjoy.

Sadly, he is decapitated by a truck’s loading shelf in a mannequin-tastic bit of hokey FX, thus depriving the audience of the potential for further zaniness. Needless to say, the killings continue, with those who were involved in the accusations against the convicted murderer turning up dead. The potential for a supernatural twist is never really elaborated upon, throwing away another perfectly good opportunity to amp up the eccentricity factor.

Howard Vernon plays a pathologist who is investigating the case and puts in a creditable enough performance. There’s some WTF’ery surrounding the fact that he has been entrusted with the head of the accused murderer, upon receipt of which he immediately instructs his assistant to “excise the right eyeball.” As you do in French pathology, apparently. Said assistant is trying to schtup HV’s daughter in an extremely rapey-slash-guilt-trippy manner… By this point I was just so distracted by the Humphrey Bogart look-alike detective and the not-as-arty-as-they-sound repeat-motion murder scenes that I honestly didn’t care much about the plot and the not-terribly-imaginative death set-pieces and the underutilized Eurotrash Royalty cast (Anita Ekberg, Rosalba Neri, and Barbara Bouchet all show up to look fabulous and collect a paycheck). I was also distracted by the presence of what I have lovingly dubbed “the Heartini” in Howard Vernon’s lab (it’s above left in the image preceeding this paragraph). Seriously–what is that thing? Do French pathologists typically display internal organs in attractive colored glass barware? Also, would the Heartini taste any good? You could probably get away with mixing one using well liquor, as I’d imagine the heart would sort of overwhelm the flavor of a really good gin…

Then, this shot appeared on screen:

…and I began to construct a Far Superior Film tracing the wacky hijinx of the Porn Star, the Funeral Director and the Humphrey Bogart Impersonator. Trust me, this movie was way sounder and more interesting…

Internet, once this movie hit the one-hour mark I was honestly punched out of it. I think I may be spoiled on lesser gialli. I’ll summarize by saying that the ending is pulled together out of loose plot strands and doesn’t make a lick of sense. Well, maybe a lick of sense, but by no means does it get to the center of the Tootsie Pop. I will conclude by pointing out that this movie does not portray French men in the best light. If I am to take the word of this film, I should definitely carry an extra-grande sized can of Mace with me on my trip to Paris lest I be groped unremittingly and perhaps bitchslapped into an early grave by a lusty Gallic fellow.

Here’s a hott naked girl on a flokati to make up for the marked lack of awesome in this film:

The Flickr gallery of stills from “French Sex Murders” lives here.

Queen of Black Magic [1979]

About two thirds of the way through “Queen of Black Magic,” the following exchange occurs between two villagers:

Man 1: I saw them there, and you know what I think? I think this stranger Permana is secretly working in cahoots with the Queen of Black Magic. And they could be–this guy and Murni–plotting together to murder us all!

Man 2: Yes. Makes sense. Maybe the Holy Man is in her power. You know how strong Murni is. She managed to overcome our Witch Doctor and he was very powerful.

Man 1: Ah! We know now.

Wait… back it up there, gentlemen–“Makes sense?” That’s precisely what this movie does not do and exactly why this movie is such a wonderful bit of Indonesian bizarritude.

While not as gleefully wacky as the truly mind-bending pennangalan flick “Mystics in Bali” and significantly more timid than “Dangerous Seductress,” “Queen of Black Magic” is a fun oddity with enough exotic weirdness to maintain interest during its ninety-minute run time. Rooted in regional folklore, the film follows the story of Murni (played by exotic beauty and Indonesian Scream Queen Suzzanna), a naive young woman who is accused of witchcraft by the man who has deflowered her and left her for another woman. Murni is tossed from a cliff by furious villagers but is saved by a magician who convinces her that the only way to right the wrongs committed against her is to go ahead and study black magic in order to murder her accusers. I’m sure this plot twist makes sense in the context of local traditions, but were I in a similar situation, I’d likely pursue a different course of revenge (one with a handgun and a nun’s habit, which would be equally perplexing to a Southeast Asian audience).

The film is at its core a female revenge film, but it’s gussied up with a heaping helping of unique anthropological elements. The conservative Muslim culture of Indonesia resonates throughout the movie, from blurred nudity to the over-arching theme that Allah is far mightier than any magic or superstition. The villagers’ loss of faith is emphasized several times via heavy-handed dialogue, and it is only after Permana the Holy Man teaches the villagers that prayer is… well… the answer to their prayers that they are able to fight back against the black magic that is destroying them. I assure you, prayer is no frikkin’ joke in this movie–the results of prayer include such things as “the ability to explode logs,” “hurling magicians halfway across a room,” and “deflating dangerously-huge stomachs.” There’s a fairy-tale literality to the events in this movie that’s both enchanting and extremely disorienting.

Notably, the Occam’s Razor of the characters in this film is calibrated a lot differently from the one applied in the West. The words “must be black magic” are as quick to drop from someone’s lips as “it’s raining outside,” and are uttered with an equal amount of conviction.

What the movie lacks in boobs, it makes up for in wild special effects. There is a no-holds-barred approach to the effects work, with plenty of arterial spray, oozing wounds, and crashing dummies employed throughout. If you want to watch a man pull his own head off, collapse to the ground, and then have his head fly around and bite people–well, dear reader, this is your film. Also, there is Death By Bees, which I find to be wince-worthy in the extreme (if this scenario incorporated a revolving door, it would embody my deepest nightmare).

This release is another wonderful presentation from the folks at Mondo Macabro. The DVD release has gorgeously-saturated colors and a nice crispness to it. The dubbed English-language track is pleasantly creaky (it sounds like a Sunday afternoon chop-sockey movie). There’s also a nice little essay on the film and its place in the Indonesian horror canon and a documentary on the FX work. Recommended for fans of world movie weirdness.

The prerequisite gallery of film stills from “Queen of Black Magic” lives on Flickr.

Fantomas [1913 – 1915]

Fantomas is a Master of Crime–the granddaddy of such fictional villains as Diabolik, Kilink and Kriminal. Conceived in the fevered imaginations of French novelists Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain, Fantomas is a thief, a murderer, and a borderline anarchist who haunts the European underworld, always just out of reach of his nemesis Inspector Juve. His utterly amoral acts and devilishly clever plots set the Gold Standard for criminal master-mindery.

Masquerading in various bourgeoise roles from banker to judge to landlord, Fantomas runs a devestatingly efficient criminal empire whose goal appears to be bankrupting nearly everyone in France. Fantomas’ motivations are sketchy–he doesn’t appear to live a life of luxury; instead he seems to relish crime for crime’s sake, planning ever more elaborate ways to separate wealthy personages from their wealth.

First published in 1911, the novel “Fantomas” by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain captured the imagination of the reading public with its complicated interweaving storylines of corruption, disguised identities, murder, and scandal among the upper middle class. The novels were unusual in their construction, with the two authors taking turns writing different sections of the story. I had not known this prior to picking up the first novel, and there are moments of severe unevenness throughout, with sections ping-ponging back and forth drastically in terms of pacing and style. This method of novel structure is evocative of the later Surrealist “game” Exquisite Corpse, where participants take turns adding elements into a piece of prose or art that is only revealed in its entirety once it is complete. Several novels followed, capitalizing on the success of the first publication, and a few short years later in 1913, the first of the silent serials directed by Louis Feuillade put the arch-criminal on the silver screen. The reality-and-sense-bending character was a fast favorite among the intelligentsia, with a fan base that included such luminaries as James Joyce and Rene Magritte.

One of the key differences between the novels and their screen adaptations is the manner in which the films simplify the plot details and strip them down to their essence (weird crimes, elusive criminal, disguises, constantly-foiled inspector). The first “Fantomas” novel is almost too complex–there were moments in the plot where I felt I should have a spreadsheet detailing the list of characters and their associations with one another. By the time it was reworked and distilled into the film adaptation, the novel contained about a third of the characters, an almost inverted storyline (with events taking place during the opening that don’t occur until about two-thirds of the way through the book), and the ghoulishness had been dialed back significantly. The bloated corpses and a shocking beheading that figure into the novel are nowhere to be seen in the film. Also missing is an interesting backstory to the character of Fandor, the journalist who works as Inspector Juve’s right-hand man.

In the novels, it is never made clear whether Fantomas is an individual or a collection of evil-doers working in tandem, as he seems able to be in many places simultaneously. This air of mystery is kept up throughout the series. In the films, Fantomas is clearly a single man, operating with the help of a network of thugs (who he is not infrequently cheating out of their fare share of the spoils). There is a charming montage at the beginning of each of the serials where Fantomas is shown in all of the disguises he’ll assume throughout the film to come. Granted, this does spoil the key mystery of the novels, where one is kept guessing as to these assorted identities until such time as they are dramatically revealed, but it adds a decided element of whimsy to the films. Seeing the person you know to be Fantomas fooling his prey is, admittedly, damned entertaining. It’s clear that these are very early narrative films, because there are many conventions that are being worked out by the technicians. In fact, there are a couple of startlingly post-modern moments of breaking the Fourth Wall, including one where Fantomas looks directly at the camera and gestures over his shoulder, indicating that he can see the man who has been trailing him via train.

In addition to being a King of Crime, Fantomas is a ladies’ man, employing his charms to victimize wealthy women. In the first novel, he catches a Princess unawares in her bath (in the film, the Princess is alone in her suite–not quite as sexually scandalous) and through sheer force of charisma (along with a dash of blackmail…), convinces her to relinquish her jewels and a tidy sum of cash. He also carries on a torrid affair with Lady Beltham, the widow of one of his murder victims!

In spite of his horrible crimes (and I assure you, dear reader–his crimes are truly appaling, including poisoining, animal attack, stabbing, and hanging), one cannot help but root for the master criminal. His victims are shown as bumbling through their lives, oblivious to the undercurrent of evil around them. When Fantomas makes his inevitable fantastic escape at the end of each story, one is left relieved that there will be more fabulously wicked tales to come.

For more on Fantomas, including a wonderful essay on the character’s impact on the Surrealists, visit the spectacularly informative website All historical facts are cited to this website or Kim Newman’s amazing documentary on the Artificial Eye DVD of Feuillade’s serial.

Enjoy a gallery of Fantomas film stills on my Flickr account.

Salon Kitty [1976] with the Vicar of VHS

An evening, not too long after my fateful introduction to Jacinto Molia—a half-empty bottle of Jameson in the center of the Tenebrous Desk. Contemplating the last drops of amber liquid in my glass, I look up to see the Vicar of VHS across the dark, shiny expanse, deep in thought. I am nothing if not appreciative of those who serve the Tenebrous Empire, and I owe the Vicar, who has so generously offered his services as Grand Vizier and able procurer, a debt of gratitude. I had just revealed one of the wonders of my personal film library to the Vicar, and I’m eager to hear his response to Tinto Brass’ 1976 Third Reich epic “Salon Kitty”

VV: You know, Empress, of all the various and sundry ‘sploitations, I have to say that Nazisploitation is the one I have the least experience with. In fact, you’re initiating me into the genre with this entry, so please be gentle.

I couldn’t help thinking Brass and Co. might have been playing fast and loose with certain historical facts. For one thing, I’m not sure that the S.S. offered team-sport synchronized sex as part of their basic training.

TK: Also, I understand fencing is usually done with pants.

VV: That’s the tradition. But by the point that they got to the naked-fencing—which was, what, about 3 minutes in?—I was already shopping for a new sleaze-meter, as the one I had was obviously not up to the task.

TK: Yes, this film has a way of recalibrating one’s taste for smut. There’s something about the whole “Nazi brothel and political espionage” thing that sets the mind reeling. I mean, I know it sounds like the set-up for one of the great love stories of our time, but director Tinto Brass makes it so much more. Also, he gives us pantsless Helmut Berger as well as leather-pantsed Helmut Berger. Check and double-check, Mr. Brass. It’s wall-to-wall weird sex with a huge budget and a capable cast—it’s the “Cleopatra” of Nazi exploitation films!

Naturally, the part of the film that gets a lot of attention is the infamous Training Sequence, where Berger’s S.S. Officer Wallenberg puts the potential spy-hookers he plans on staffing his brothel with through a series of tests to prove their capacity for kink. They begin with The Most German Sex Ever…”Ladies, you must fuck with TEUTONIC EFFICIENCY”

VV: That was hilarious, the way the S.S. all came marching in, naked, single file. I kept thinking about Madeleine Kahn in “History of the World.” Nobody was smiling, either—just facing a similar line of naked lady Germans across the gymnastic mats.

TK: It was so easy for them to pair up. Put me in that situation and it’d be like a salad bar. One of each pleeeeease.

VV: He did run down the daily specials, as I remember: vaginal, anal, oral, groups…

TK: Although it mainly seemed to be pairs there. * pout *

VV: Well, it was their first day.

TK: Question is–would I take the hott S.S. sex if I knew it would inevitably lead to cripple sex?

VV: It’s a package deal. After the “Triumph of the Will: Hot Cock version” in the gym, they went to the VIP rooms for the real action.

TK: I am still baffled that THE most horrified woman was the one who just had to sit and get eaten out by the cute blonde lesbian. OH NO PLEASE! Don’t throw me in the Briar Patch…! She was, indeed, REJECTED. The Tenebrous Empire would have no part of her either.

VV: I knew when the one girl sank cheerfully into a reverse cowgirl on the double-amputee that we were in for something special.

TK: Wallenberg was totally right with that one.

VV: Agreed. And speaking of Helmut, because I know you want to…I had no idea that “S.S.” stood for “Sexy Silks.”

TK: Oh I KNOW! His outfits were fan-frikkin-tastic throughout. I don’t understand what Teresa Ann Savoy’s problem was. “OK, so I’m totally irresistible to Helmut Berger, he wants me to partner up with him in a life of pure sexy evil…” Where is the CATCH, woman?

VV: Yeah, her motivation was nebulous.

TK: Her acting was nebulous.

VV: Although in their brief encounters, it seemed that Helmut was a bit quick to turn on the showers IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

TK: AND I THINK I DO. His leather cleaning bill must’ve been astronomical. Not that I know anything about this.

VV: Seriously. Break out the “Son of a Gun” spray.
Is it weird that I totally wanted to know more about Helmut’s wife?

TK: No, I’m there with you. I got that she was “dutiful and discreet,” but I wasn’t aware that was a euphemism for “dyke.” Maybe in the Third Reich that’s how they rolled *shrug*

VV: Now there’s a title I’m amazed we haven’t seen: DYKE OF THE REICH

TK: * runs off to Google that shit *
Much like “vampire bulge,” initial search results are disappointingly tame.

VV: So as a red-blooded supporter of democracy, I was wondering whether I should be finding all this Aryan efficiency sex hot, or whether I was somehow betraying the Greatest Generation in that.

TK: I have no such troubles with doublethink.

VV: I haven’t been that ashamed of an erection since my aunt’s funeral.

TK: But the shame made it BETTER, right?

VV: In this case.

TK: You’ll get used to it. Just keep ogling, the shame will abate. Or so I hear. I… read that in an article.

VV: I also noticed a recurring motif of disfigurement throughout. Seems like everybody had a birthmark, or cleft palate, or dwarfism, etc.

TK: …except the hookers.

VV: Yes, German hookers are perfect. Dr. Mengele proved it scientifically.

TK: Hey, if the Nazis can give us the Volkswagen and perfect hookers…

VV: Who could ask for anything more?

TK: I’ll take a little Ethnic Cleansing if it means a sweet ride. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.


Loved the informative science as well: “Even this nasty-ass dissected hooker with her spleen hanging out is more perfect than this black dude with a ginormous WANG.”

TK: Everything I needed to know about history, I learned from Tinto Brass movies.

Also, the Bread Penis scene…?

VV: Glad you brought it up… * ruffles notes * Let’s see, what did I write down here…Ah yes, here we go:

W. T. F.?

TK: But… you’d get some serious street cred for driving a hooker at a Nazi brothel out of her mind. Who knew all it would take was a bread penis?

VV: It’s so simple, I’m amazed it hadn’t been tried before.

TK: So, when was the last time you drove a hooker mad?

VV: What day is it today?

TK: But… I mean, how did you go about doing it? Because I’m working on my technique.

VV: Sadly, bread penis didn’t enter into it.


VV: Basically I bent her over a sawhorse, shackled her wrists to her ankles, and then made her watch THE SINFUL DWARF three times in a row.

TK: You mean–that movie * I * currently have sitting on the Tenebrous Teevee Stand?
I should be worried.

VV: I think you have built up an immunity to such poison. But to the uninitiated, it’s no wonder they go cuckoo.

TK: Running screaming into the night, or more like “carted away?

VV: Well, they can’t run, cuz of the shackles.

TK: Ahhh… I’ll watch it sans-shackles, then!

VV: Speaking of which, I should go change her water…

TK: You’re entirely too kind.

VV: ANYWAY, back to Deustchland Deustchland Uber Anal…I can’t get over the training sequence and subsequent “limits-testing” in the VIP room. Brass must have had a great time coming up with things an S.S. guy would make a woman do to prove her belief in National Socialism. I was impressed that he gave us everything from retarded gypsy to lesbian German to the ever-popular hunchback dwarf.

Excuse me, NAKED hunchback dwarf.

TK: Uhmmm… “I would not hit it.”


TK: Damn damn DAMN!

This is why I need to be Empress. No problem with REJECTION, no dwarf-fucking. I want to run the brothel. It’s a better fantasy.

VV: You in the Kitty role works out much better.

TK: Also, I would get to be played by Ingrid Thulin, who is fucking fabulous. I could perform cabaret, smoke expensive cigarettes, wear amazing outfits…

VV: I admit that I kinda wanted to try on some of Helmut’s SuperNazi outfits

TK: Believe me; I’m saving up to find just the right tailor. Everything can be improved with embellishment and leather. Believe it.

VV: He should totally be the villain in the Captain America movie, fuck the Red Skull.

TK: He could just swan around bitchslapping people and throwing hissy fits. I’d totally watch that movie.

VV: He’s awesome at that.

TK: He’s the best there is, mein freund.

VV: There were some great minor characters here too we haven’t mentioned, too. Like Wallenberg’s assistant, Lieutenant Half-Nose Who Shouts Every Line.

TK: Oh GOD I love the half-nose guy! Step one would be to tell him to dial it back to, say, six from the ten he was occupying.

VV: I totally believed his character
You WILL believe a man can shout!
You WILL believe a Nazi in a merry widow!

TK: SEE the majestic parade of penises!

VV: GASP IN ASTONISHMENT at the Cock-Cock Can-Can!

TK: REVEL in pubic hair of every color!

VV: Then of course the “hero-defector” character, the one who wanted to assassinate Hitler. He was the moral center of the work. But dumb. I mean stupid do you have to be to think that everything you say in a brothel, TO A HOOKER, is going to be sacrosanct and never get out? “They won’t tell. It’s the hooker code.”

For the only heroic character in the piece, dude was startlingly ineffective. All he did was fuck Teresa Ann Savoy a lot and then get hanged.

TK: And waste champagne by upending a bottle over his head. I would have hung him for that. There is no wasting of champagne in the Tenebrous Empire.

VV: Agreed. If you’re going to pour it on someone, pour it on the Emotionless Whore of the Third Reich. See if you can get her to change her expression.

TK: Yes, she was a little monotone.

VV: A little? She was like a sexier Robbie the Robot “Danger Will Robinson! My tits are out!”

I have a “Lost in Space” fetish. So sue.

TK: “Lost in Space” fetish–they would’ve accommodated that at Salon Kitty. That was in the training room they DIDN’T show.

“She vill not fuck zee robot–REJECTED.”


TK: Moving on…in addition to its mélange of cripple-fucking and ass shots, this movie was an ode to the garter belt, was it not?

VV: I am a big fan of the garter belt. Therefore this movie’s constant bombardment of garters and stockings made view Fascism just a leetle more kindly.

TK: It’s tricky that way, right? It’s like, on one hand–Nazis. On the other hand–GREAT hooker makeovers.

VV: It’s a side of history you don’t often get to see.

TK: I’m planning on keeping the hooker makeovers and ditching the genocide in the Tenebrous Empire.

VV: No one credits the Nazis for their fabulous dance numbers.

TK: Also—the garter belts *stay*.

VV: Agreed. And a bread-cock in every pot!

TK: I’m… dubious about the bread-cock, though as my Grand Vizier, you do have something of a say in this matter.

VV: “As God is my witness, I will never not have a phallus-shaped loaf of bread again!”

TK: You just want a new way to drive hookers MAD.

VV: You’d have preferred a vagina-pita?

TK: Isn’t there something more sinister and fabulous we could come up with? Meh–who am I kidding. I just want to REJECT people while staffing the Love Train.

VV: So, what leads to immediate REJECTION in the Tenebrous training rooms, one wonders?

TK: Insufficiently fabulous panties–REJECTED
Unpainted toenails–REJECTED
Bad shoes—REJECTED

VV: You are indeed a harsh mistress.

TK: I think the refusal of lesbianism is really the only thing I can take directly from the movie that would be of great import to the Empire, in terms of REJECTION. I would just make them fuck cripples for LOLs.

“Naaaah, you were totally hired anyway–I just wanted to see if you’d do that.”

VV: I think I told you earlier that I loved Kitty’s last gown there–the one with the insane fan sleeve.

I was thinking, “Why would you wear something like that?” And then the window blew open and she was completely safe from flying glass. Form + Function = Fabulousness.

TK: It’s really a very sound concept indeed. That, I respect. Besides, she was totally dragtastic. I’d love to see this movie re-made with an all-drag cast.

VV: So would the guys be played by women?

TK: YES! Precisely.

VV: Where are you going to find a hunchbacked female dwarf at this hour?

TK: Ohhhh… you raise a valid point. They’re just not producing hunchback dwarves at the rate they used to.

VV: * would hit that *

TK: I’ll send you one as a bachelor party gift upon the eve of our evil nuptials.


TK: What does the Vicar REJECT?

VV: Let’s see…
Birthmark in the shape of Pennsylvania—REJECTED.
Tattoo of Willie Nelson – REJECTED.
Circus-style Lady Beard–TAKEN UNDER ADVISEMENT.

TK: Maybe I should lead this part of the enterprise? You clearly can’t be trusted with this.

VV: You’re much better at it than I am, I admit. You must be REJECTING, like, twenty people EVERY SINGLE DAY.

TK: Just while riding the subway in the morning.

TK: So… maybe you can be in charge of interior design of the evil brothel? You seem to be really good at evil interior design.

VV: Well, you know, I do what I can. A few chains here, a couple of torches there. I find a Wheel of Anguish can really tie a room together.

TK: You also have a keen appreciation for cabaret acts.

VV: It’s true. I appreciate showmanship.

TK: And boobs.

VV: Well, the boobs go without saying, now, don’t they?

TK: See, that’s the kind of insight I’m talking about. You’re a natural.

VV: I do think that I saw more penises in this movie than I’ve seen in one place my entire life.

TK: I definitely saw more penises than I have ever seen in the sum total of my entire life. I felt so virginal.

VV: *raises eyebrows*

TK: Quiet, you.

Bask in the ‘sploitationey glow of the “Salon Kitty” film still and costume design gallery on my Flickr account, IF YOU DARE.

LOTT D – Posts of Note

Once again, I find myself working on Projects. I’m working with a couple of Esteemed Colleagues on two different and exciting morsels of contentalicious content to be posted in the coming days. Watch this space! In the mean time, please watch the respective spaces of these fine folks:

Be sure to check out the most recent LOTT D Blogcritics post on Evil Kids in Horror.

And Now the Screaming Starts highlights custom taxidermy. As a big fan of custom clothing and accessories, I can heartily approve of this extension on an already-sound theme.

Final Girl brings us gorgeous Japanese movie posters.

Frankensteinia schools us on this week’s events in Frankenstein history.

Gloomy Sunday reviews vintage Gothic paperbacks, complete with gorgeous painted cover artwork.

The Groovy Age of Horror’s Freudian slip is showing.

Kindertrauma whips out the Love Gun and exposes the horrors of KISS.

Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies fearlessly tackles “Malabimba: The Malicious Whore.”

Unspeakable Horror is working on a gorgeous graphic novel tribute to Vincent Price.

So, please–occupy yourselves in a manner that won’t lead to blindness and/or hairy palms until my triumphant and chock-full-of-awesome return.

NOTE: OK, so my last LOTT D round-up which I think I might or might not have called “weekly” was on May 30th. In the Tenebrous Empire, weeks are approximately 20 days long. This is subject to change on my whim.

ETA: In a glaring and heinous omission on my part, I neglected to shout out as follows:

And of course The Horrors of It All Brings us hott disco grim reaper comix action in THE GHOSTLY HOST. This blog happens to be maintained by the pure, sexy force for evil that IS Karswell, beloved ally of the Tenebrous Empire.


Vatican Musical Update – From the Department of "Too Awesome To Be True News"

Internet, sometimes there’s a news story that’s so outrageously pants-wettening that it cannot possibly be true. Like the UFO crazies and the Bigfoot researchers, I want to believe that this little nibble is true.

Stelvio Cipriani hired by Vatican to work on musical version of the life of the Virgin Mary

This name is probably familiar to some of my fellow trashthusiasts as the composer responsible for the “Nightmare City” score as well as the music from “Ring of Darkness,” which is notable for its totally fucking awesome Satanic interpretive dance opening credits. Is it possible that the man who worked with Mario Bava on “Bay of Blood” and “Baron Blood” is now working with the Pope-ah?

I desperately need to believe this is 100% true. I read it on the internet–it must be.

Vengeance of the Zombies [1972]

I was sulking fashionably over my recent breakup with Dario, unable to find joy even in the simple pleasure of ruling my Empire with an Iron Fist, when a hand-penned invitation was placed discreetly upon my desk. Recognizing the sigil of the VHS Vicarage on the wax imprint, I opened the missive, not without a certain sense of hesitation. Was I ready, so soon after my profound emotional turmoil, to embark on the kind of fevered bacchanal that the Vicar’s soires not infrequently devolve into? Or was it of vital importance to the well-being of the Tenebrous Empire that I accept this invitation and distract myself from this unseemly bout of navel-gazing?

Weighing my options carefully, I decided that this little get-together would provide a chance to wear a fabulous outfit. Besides, there was a mention in this missive of an introduction to someone new and wonderful…
In the lull that always comes between the dessert course and the customary abuse of the chambermaid, I spied a stranger seated upon the divan in the corner of the room. His clear appreciation of outlandish personal attire coupled with his majestic bearing enchanted me even from afar. Within a moment of the introduction the Vicar of VHS afforded us, I was smitten entirely with this Iberian rake.
I feel dreadful posting this where Dario can read it, but… I think I’m in love with Paul Naschy.

Watching “Vengeance of the Zombies” on Sunday provided my very first Naschysperience–yes, I’m a late-comer to this particular cinematic revelation, internet. Nobody’s perfect. Fortunately, I have Friends In Low Places to take corrective measures and point me in the direction where Awesomeness lives. There is so much to love in “Vengeance of the Zombies” that it’s kind of difficult to know where to begin.
The film tells the story of an evil Indian mystic who is seeking revenge by creating an army of zombie slaves. Working against him is a good Indian mystic and his sexy model love interest. Set in Swinging London and the English countryside, there are ample opportunities for both gothicry and grooviness as well as far-out occult madness, and the film delivers on all counts.

First off, Paul Naschy has the most amazing charisma–he’s utterly convinced that he is the coolest, most capable, sexiest man in whatever film he’s appearing in. His beefy machismo and melodramatic mannerisms embody the aphorism “Fake It Till You Make It.” Naschy plays three roles in “VotZ,” giving him opportunities to play the hero and two villains, including Satan himself. Also, he is frequently shirtless, displaying a physique not unlike that of a dockworker. But, like, a really self-assured dockworker who would totally kick your ass for snarking on his vanity.
There is a kitchen sink approach to this movie that’s just dizzying–horror trope is piled on top of horror trope. Why pick between witchcraft, voodoo and Kali worship when you could just cram all three together into an epic mega-statement of Black Magic Badness? More = More Better in el Mundo Naschy. Now, moving right on to that hott voodoo goodness, I have a deep and abiding love of voodoo-sploitation and this movie has some of the zaniest moments in the subgenre, with slow-motion zombie girls in diaphanous gowns, a mysterious masked magician, and wild occult rituals. Delicious, friends–just delicious. Sure, the film gets the reality of voodoo bass-ackwards, but if I wanted to watch a documentary, I’d… well, you wouldn’t be reading this essay, that’s for damn sure.

Also, swamis are fucking cool, and I think more movies should have more swamis. Seriously, gentlemen, I want to see the turban-and-suit look make a comeback stat.

Moving on to the technical aspects of the film, director Leon Klimovsky creates a lush and effective look on a tight budget. I make no bones about having a great affection for the fisheye lens. This movie makes wonderful use of fisheye shots, adding an off-kilter, disorienting touch to the on-screen weirdness. The use of slow-motion shots when the zombies are on-screen was a nice touch, in spite of semi-problematic makeup choices. It’s really a triumph of creativity and vision over throwing money at the visual effects.

Set design and costuming are fantastically overstated, with saturated pinks and reds dominating, and embellishments everywhere. As the Hell’s Angels would say, this is “showing class.” Do nothing by halves and all that.
“But is there a flippin’ funky soundtrack?” you’re asking. Why–of COURSE there is! Supplementing all these visual delights is a smashingly prog-jazzy score to add to that “tapped gently on the cerebral cortex with a rubber mallet” feeling that one seeks when watching such films.
I’m sorry–I could go on gushing, but I’ll spare you the intimate details of my newfound passion. Enjoy this gallery of film stills on Flickr while I moon over my latest crush, won’t you?

Revenge of Tiny Paintings

In order to further procrastinate on the full-sized acrylic portrait I’ve been working on, I opted to make some more of those 2.5″ wide by 3.5″ high watercolor portrait cards. This time one of the lucky recipients of my artistry (pls to see wee Coffin Joe above) is fellow blogger and Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies royalty, the Vicar of VHS. The Cleric of Antique Formats warmed by black little heart with this amazing sonnet. There are still 4 of these portaits to come so there’s plenty of time to curry favor, Internet 😉

House on Straw Hill [1976]

Ohhhh “House on Straw Hill,” you had so much potential, but ultimately you left me unsatisfied. This 1976 British thriller starring Udo Kier had so many opportunities for awesomeness and yet wound up committing the ultimate sin by being undeniably boring. It’s hard to imagine that an erotic thriller featuring good-looking women, mysterious intrigue, a brooding German, brutal murders and several kink-laced sex scenes would be a yawn-fest. This film is another to bear the infamous “Video Nasty” moniker, and yet I feel like the nastiest trick is played on its audience. Somehow, this movie achieves the dubious distinction of playing like an overlong, vintage episode of “Silk Stalkings.”
“House on Straw Hill” traces the story of novelist Paul Martin (Udo Kier), who has holed himself up in a remote countryside house in order to finish the follow-up to his blockbuster first novel. His isolation has caused him to become increasingly paranoid and his writing has stalled. Enter Linda (Linda Hayden), an alluring blonde who comes to the house to work as his typist and secretary. Strange and violent events begin to happen and Paul is drawn into an obsessive web of deceit that seems to center around Linda.
It’s a damn shame this movie is such a mess, because the plot has potential and Kier and Hayden are both capable actors. Somewhere along the line, what could have been a taut mystery with a limited cast in a creepy setting just became a silly trainwreck, lightened only by the presence of some much-needed sexiness in the last quarter of the film. Elements of revenge and madness are just plain mishandled in favor of long scenes of people looking at each other and getting pissy with one another. The Paul Martin character could have been developed into a complicated mix of megalomaniac and paranoiac, but instead he comes off as a bit of a whiner, and when the final plot twist is revealed, it seems fairly obvious! Also–and this is just a personal thing–but it drives me a little crazy when an actor with as distinctive a speaking voice as Udo Kier’s gets overdubbed. What a waste of a wonderfully sinister accent!
In the final analysis, “House on Straw Hill” is the sort of movie that is frustrating because it’s not hard to glimpse what could have been successful had the material not been so woefully mishandled.