Rat Man (1988)

  
When a pretty model is found dead on an island, her body mutilated, an investigation begins in to just what happened. The deceased model’s sister arrives with a mystery novel writer (David Warbeck), to try and figure out what was the cause of her sisters murder. The duo discover that the explanation is far more bizarre than they ever could have realised. 

A scientist has created a rat/monkey hybrid, for reasons unknown, though he does mention a Nobel peace prize at one point. The hybrid played by Nelson de la Rosa (The Island of Dr. Moreau), has developed murderous tendencies and decides he doesn’t like being caged up anymore. 

  
This movie is straight up trash and I loved it. I’ve always had a soft spot for David Warbeck as he’s always given 100% no matter what the role or how strange the movie is. He kind of downplays it a tad here, but he’s still the sort of hero he played in The Beyond. The plot dithers about and feels patchy and incoherent in places, but I feel it adds to the charm. I mean when the tag line reads ‘He’s the critter from the shitter’ I think it’s safe to say you know what sort of movie you’re getting. 

  
Nelson de la Rosa seems to enjoy his role as the carnivorous Rat Man, particularly as he gets close to some scantily clad women, and if you’ve seen the documentary about the making of ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ then you know he’s quite fond of the ladies. 

    

The acting is atrocious in places, but if you’re a fan of trashy movies then that really won’t be an issue to you. These sort of horror movies have never really attempted to wow you with their acting, preferring to throw blood and naked women in your direction instead and hope that it keeps your attention. Fans of cheap Italian horror will find a lot to like here, and David Warbeck is always good value. The supporting cast are not the best, but they make do. 

  
Shameless Screen Entertainment have released the movie uncut for the first time ever in the U.K, and the film is presented in 16.9 anamorphic widescreen. The film is available to purchase now directly from the Shameless website via the following link:

http://www.shameless-films.com/shop/Ratman.html

I’d like to thank Shameless for providing me with the movie for review. 

3/5

JM

  

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The House on the Edge of the Park (1980)

  
A woman is brutally raped and killed by psychotic Alex (David Hess) late one night. Afterwards he returns to work at a garage where his simple friend Ricky (Giovanni Radice) also works. When a young well to do couple come into the garage asking for help fixing their car and say that they’re going to a friends party, it kick starts a chain of events resulting in brutal murder and unparalleled mayhem. 

  
Ruggero Deodato was really at the height of his fame when he made this brilliantly sleazy movie. Ricky is easily led by the brutal Alex, as he just isn’t that bright, but still has (very) small elements of good in him. Alex however is just pure evil, resorting to satisfying his wildest urges, no matter how depraved. The group having the party are really put through the ringer, and you wonder just what will happen next. 

  
David Hess just really recycles his role from ‘Last House on the Left’, and it’s not really a far cry from many of the roles he played during his career. The makers of this movie were so desperate to have him on board that they actually gave him half the rights to the film. Giovanni Radice plays the part of the simple Ricky very well. With limited intelligence you can see he doesn’t really understand at first the magnitude of his actions, and you feel that he’s mostly doing it to impress Alex. There is a lot of nudity, some full frontal, and the violence is quite brutal. If that’s not your thing then it’s best to avoid this movie. Then again if you’re reading reviews about this movie, it’s probably safe to say that it intrigues you somewhat, and if so then I would say you should give it a go. 

  
The film is over 35 years old, so it is very dated in parts, particularly the fashion, but the content on show still manages to pack a punch. The violence, a lot of it of a sexual nature, is very near the knuckle. The acting on show really is top quality, and really helps in keeping you gripped to the end. 

Thank you to Shameless Screen Entertainment for letting me review this movie. It’s available now from their site via the following link:

http://www.shameless-films.com/shop/House-On-The-Edge-Of-The-Park.html

4/5

JM

  

Trapped (TV Series) (2015)

  
Synopsis from the Arrow Films website:

“As a ferry carrying 300 passengers from Denmark pulls into an Icelandic town s small port, heavy snow begins to fall. The ferry can t leave until the storm passes and the main road into town is impassable. A mutilated and dismembered body washes on the shore, an unidentifiable man murdered only hours ago. The local police chief, Andri Ólafssun, whose personal life is in shatters, realises a killer has descended into his town. As word spreads, order disintegrates into chaos as the ferry’s passengers and the town’s residents realise they are all possible suspects and that a killer is trapped among them.”

That does a much better job of describing this stunning series than I ever could. When we meet Chief Ólafssun he is already someone you can wholly sympathise and identify with. He’s an everyday sort of person who finds himself up against a cunning killer when he is already himself at breaking point. With his trusty colleagues, they begin to piece together the events that lead to the grisly murder, but there are lots of surprises and red herrings along the way. Each episode leaves you wanting more, and you may find that you binge through episodes before deciding to take a break, it’s that good. 

 
Ólafur Darri Ólafassun who plays the put upon Chief Ólafassun really makes you warm to him. Eagle eyed viewers may remember him from ‘A Walk Among The Tombstones’ of which he had a brief but memorable role. Scandinavia has really been on a solid run with the thrilling dramas it has been releasing of late. The Killing, Borgen, The Bridge and Those Who Kill all show why audiences are so drawn to the sterling drama on offer. Each series that has come out of Scandinavia has hooked people because of the great writing, fully rounded characters and thrills that are on offer. 

 
The supporting cast all deliver and help in fleshing out a gripping piece of television. The scenery is breathtaking too, with the mountains and the unrelenting snow really making you feel glad to be warm indoors. I love watching TV series such as ‘Trapped’ which keep you gripped and don’t give too much away in each episode.

 
I’m really looking forward to seeing what is in store for a second series of ‘Trapped’ should they decide to make one. TRAPPED is released on Monday 11th April by Nordic Noir & Beyond, and is available to pre order now from the following link:

http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/shop/index.php?route=product/product&keyword=trappe&product_id=710%22

It really is a top series and one I highly recommend. 

5/5

JM

  

Dream Home (2010)

  
Cheng Lai-Sheung (Josie Ho) has long dreamed of an apartment with a harbour view. All her life she has saved her money to afford the apartment. However just as her dream home is within her grasp, the owners pull out of the deal and the sale falls through. Now, desperate to own the apartment at any cost, Cheng will do whatever it takes to see her dream become a reality…..even kill for it. 

  

The story that is laid out paints a brutal picture of what life is like when trying to get on the property ladder in Hong Kong. Rent is astronomical and it can be hard to make ends meet. As Cheng Lai is going about her life, working two part time jobs and sleeping with a married man, we are shown flashbacks to when she was younger. The flashbacks work well as they help the viewer understand just how deep Cheng Lai’s desire for a new home goes, and the reasons why she craves it so. You can almost sympathise with Cheng Lai…almost. 

  
Once the blood flows, it doesn’t stop. The kills are gruesome and disturbing. There is some dark humour thrown in too, which tries to lighten the mood, but kind of nullifies the impact of the killings, and doesn’t really belong in the film. Josie Ho is fantastic as Cheng Lai, really getting into her character. The supporting cast are okay, but never linger long enough to really make an impact. This movie really is Josie Ho’s. 

  
The beginning of the movie tells us that it’s based on a true story, but I couldn’t find anything that gave that claim any weight. If it is based on a true story then it robs the movie of any real ending or sense of closure. Impressive gore and fantastic acting from Josie Ho definitely means you should check this out. 

4/5

JM

  

Hollywood, Je T’Aime (2009)

  
Jérôme Beaunez (Eric Debets) returns home to find his partner having sex with another man. Initially shocked and saddened, he pokes fun at the fact that his boyfriend is now “bottoming”, to which his boyfriend replies “well I never had the chance to bottom with you.” Jérôme leaves, but not being able to face a winter alone in Paris, he books a trip to Los Angeles with dreams of being an actor. 

  
Once stateside Jérôme meets and makes friends with a colourful bunch of folks who make him feel welcome. It’s then that he meets Ross (Chad Allen) and the two fall for each other, but deep down Jérôme misses his hometown and you feel it will have an effect on his holiday romance. 

  
There are some very funny moments during the movie, but not enough to shake the amateurish feel that permeates throughout. I understand that it was made on a low budget, but it felt at times that I was watching a student movie, which hampered my enjoyment. The chemistry between Jérôme and Ross is believable however and reminded me a lot of the chemistry between Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain, which is still one of my favourite movies. You can believe in the romance blossoming between Jérôme and Ross, and would understand that it would transcend mere infatuation. 

  
The supporting cast are humorous, such as Jérôme’s cheating partner, but I felt that they trod the line between reality and stereotype once too often for my liking. Probably not something I’d revisit again, as it just doesn’t hold up to recent gay cinema outings. Be sure to stop by http://www.out.tv and check out what’s on offer. 

2/5

JM 
  

Romanzo Criminale. Coming soon from Arrow. 

  
Following the success of their most recent Italian language TV drama titles, most notably the acclaimed Naples-set crime saga Gommorah, along with the likes of Inspector De Luca and Inspector Nardone, Arrow Films will continue to house quality international crime thriller shows from various European territories and beyond, under their sub-label ‘Nordic Noir and Beyond’.
 Ahead of the arrival of the upcoming Witnesses and the highly anticipated The Bridge Season 3, both due for release later in Q4, Arrow are excited to announce the arrival of Romazo Criminale, a hard edged and violent look at the criminal underworld of Rome set between the 1970s and the 1990s. Season One will be released on DVD 14th September and focuses on the darker side of Rome during the 70s.

 Synopsis

A criminal known as ‘Lebanese’ has a dream: to conquer the underworld of Rome. To carry out this unprecedented feat he puts together a ruthless and highly organised gang. Their progress and changes in leadership take place over twenty-five years, from the 1970s into the 90’s, and are inseparably intertwined with the dark history of modern Italy: terrorism, kidnappings and corruption at the highest levels of government. Throughout these years Police Lieutenant Scialoia sticks to the gang’s trail, trying both to bring them to justice and to win the heart of Gang Member Dandi’s girlfriend Patrizia.

JM

13 Assassins (2010)

  
How I haven’t already reviewed this amazing movie I don’t know. So I am making up for that now. This is in my top 5 all time favourites and by the time you watch it, I’m pretty sure it’ll be in yours too. Viewing this for the first time is an experience that I’d love to feel again. 

  
The plot begins when the master of Namiya clan commits speppuku. A samurai warrior by the name of Shinzaemon Shimada (Kôji Yakusho) is summoned by the shogun’s advisor to hear the tale of a man who’s son and daughter-in-law were brutally slain by the evil Lord Naritsugu. Shinzaemon also meets a woman who was mutilated by Lord Naritsugu. She writes with her mouth pleading with Shinzaemon to kill Lord Nartisugu. Shinzaemon gathers 11 other warriors and together they seek to dispose of Lord Naritsugu. 

  
The build up is amazing. Some folks may watch this and worry it’s moving along too slow, but I implore you to bear with it, because the final third is quite possibly one of the greatest 40 or so minutes ever committed to celluloid. Takashi Miike who is normally known for his brutal Yakuza films and seriously disturbing dramas such as Visitor Q, has created possibly the finest samurai movie ever made, and yes I have seen Seven Samurai. There is some great drama delivered here, and the action is spectacular. Lord Naritsugu is one of the vilest villains to ever grace the screen, and you are willing the 13 Assassins to complete their herculean task. 

  
Every actor involved is magnificent, really bringing to life what it was like during those dark times. There is the odd helping of humour to lighten proceedings, mostly coming from the stranger that helps the 12 warriors become 13, which really rounds off how great this film is. I cannot recommend this enough, and 10 years down the line this, if it isn’t already, will be labelled a classic. This is a movie seriously worthy of your time. I urge you to see it. 

5/5

JM

  

The World of Kanako (2014)

  
Akikazu Fujishima (Kôji Yakusho) , an ex-cop, is contacted by his estranged wife to find their daughter Kanako (Nana Komatsu) who has gone missing. Akikazu agrees to help, believing that the return of his daughter can help repair the damage to his family. However the majority of Akikazu’s familial problems stem from his aggressive mental state. 

  
As Akikazu begins his investigation, he gets to know some of Kanako’s ‘friends’. They paint a completely different picture of the girl Akikazu thought he knew. It soon becomes apparent that Kanako was not the person he thought, and is the focus point for many people’s misery. The deeper Akikazu treads into the investigation, the more dangerous it becomes, leaving no chance of redemption for Akikazu. 

  
The opening credits were very 70’s, with a mixture of Saul Bass art and funky exploitation music.  This is a supremely dark movie however, and there is barely a ‘likeable’ character amongst the cast. All of them having some sort of problem in their lives and not leaving you many people to root for. That said, Yakusho is great as Akikazu, portraying a very Raymond Chandler-esque sort of character. A man with many faults of his own and desperate to get back a life he never really had to begin with. 

  
The violence, when it happens, is brutal and very harsh. There are scenes that some may not have the stomach for, but it’s done in a way that serves the story. All of the actors portray their respective characters brilliantly and you believe the story that is being told. It is a very good movie and one I recommend you see. 

4/5

JM

  

 

Street Law (1974)

 
Street Law aka Vigilante II, stars the enigmatic Franco Nero as Carlo Antonelli, an engineer from Genoa, Italy. Whilst collecting a package from the post office, Carlo is beaten and kidnapped by three armed robbers. After surviving his ordeal, and disillusioned by the police who seemingly refuse to act, Carlo seeks vengeance against those that wronged him. 

 
After his amateurish attempts at making underworld contacts leave him coming close to a beating, Carlo tries again, this time making contact with a robber called Tommy, played by the late Giancarlo Prete, whom he blackmails into helping him track down the 3 robbers responsible for his beating. All leading to a breathtaking shootout in a warehouse. 

 
This is my first real foray into the Euro Crime genre and I must say I was very impressed. The action is used sparingly, but staged believably so.  Carlo doesn’t immediately become a gun toting vision of vigilante justice. No. His fear and anxiety come through on screen, showing that he is still just an ordinary guy refusing to be afraid any longer. That’s what I liked about it. Franco Nero really sells it too. There’s no John Woo balletics here, but raw, gritty action instead. 

 
Everyone is on point here. Barbara Bach who plays Carlo’s love interest isn’t really given much to work with, but does well with the screen time she is given. The soundtrack is amazing too. The music by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis is very catchy, and it’s safe to say you’ll be humming it long after the credits roll. I can highly recommend this if you haven’t seen it. Enjoy. 

5/5

JM

  

Blood and Black Lace (1964)

 
Directed by Mario Bava, Blood and Black Lace was one of the first giallo’s to be released, but not *the* first as my good friend Kat Ellinger over at http://thegoresplatteredcorner.com/ pointed out to me. I’ll be honest I wasn’t really a fan of some of Bava’s other work like Lisa and the Devil. However that being said Blood and Black Lace really did it for me. 

 
When a beautiful young model is murdered and her body found in a salon the finger is pointed at many who knew her. When her diary is later found it causes many to become worried, as they fear there may be something that could implicate them inside the diary. However has the bodies pile up, and more grisly murders take place, it’s clear there is something far more sinister at play. A masked maniac stalks the women, bumping them off one by one, with the police oblivious to who could be responsible. 

 
Director Mario Bava’s use of colour is extrordinary. They literally pop off the screen, with red being the most prevelant colour. The transfer from Arrow Video is nothing short of sublime. The blacks are rich and deep and the close ups of each actor are vibrant to say the least. It looks like a movie that was made last year and not 51 years ago. My only gripe is the music. Not that it’s terrible, because it isn’t. No, my issue is where it’s used in the movie. It’s far too upbeat to create any tension, so when it’s used in the stalking scenes, I just didn’t feel the tension I felt the director may have been trying to create. Though that really is all I can fault this movie for and that’s saying something. 
 
The acting is great and not at all hammy, like it can be in some Italian movies I’ve seen. The costume and set design is wonderful, and you really do wish you could just step into the movie just for one moment. This copy of Blood and Black Lace was generously provided by the folks at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/ and is available to purchase now. It’s available in a steelbook release or in a reversible sleeve jewel case. Personally I’d choose the sublime reversible sleeve with the beautiful Graham Humphreys artwork. 

5/5

JM