Published on October 2nd, 2014 | by SgtKaiju0
Cult Of Consume – Vol I.
Greetings and welcome to my little dark corner of Need To Consume, THE CULT OF CONSUME. This is where we look beyond the frontline of film, deep into the DVD racks, into the VOD void and around the back into the alleyway of re-releases. This isn’t the place for your blockbuster drudgery. I’m going to be bringing you hidden gems of the cult world, lost classics and certainly some films that have been forgotten for good reason.
There will be zombies. There will death. There will be terrible acting and set that move when touched. There will be nudity, violence, aliens, gods, gangsters, madmen and femme fatales. Come with me…
Contraband (or The Smuggler to give it it’s official UK release titles) is an ultra-violent Italian crime thriller from infamous horror director, Lucio Fulci. The films tells the story Luca Di Angelo, a mildly reluctant smuggler in Naples, in business with his brother, ferrying booze and cigarettes up and down the cost. The tentative peace between the mafia families is broken by the murder of Luca’s brother, setting of a violent chain of events, orchestrated by a shadowy french boss called The Marsigliese. It is this boss, through his sadistic tendancies, that gives the film much of its gore, from burning the face of Ingrid, a german rival, to the bombing of a Mafia bosses bed.
Whilst Lucio Fulci is certainly better known for popularist horror fare like Murder Rock and Zombi 2, he has one of the most diverse filmographies out there and in Contraband he has put together a fine film. It treads the line between a bland police procedural and a Saw-like gorefest very well. The violence feels grotesque but that is certainly the intention, you are meant to feel uncomfortable and it certainly achieves that, various scenes left me physically squirming in my seat.
As with a lot of traditional giallo films, any enjoyment of this film is going to heavily depend on your love of the genre. For those, like myself, who harbor a deep love for the grittiness of this era of Italian cinema, Contraband is a rare treat.
Where to begin with a film like The Ghasty Ones? Three sisters are called together and informed that to qualify for their inheritance, they and their husbands must spend three days at their secluded family home, waited on by the reject cast of The Hills Have Eyes. Predictably and almost on cue, they start to meet all kinds of ghastly ends, from a cleaver to the head, a pitchfork to the neck or being set one fire. A stunt they did by just setting the actor on fire. Gotta love low-budget. The bloodbath builds over the film to the ‘shocking’ denouement at it’s close. Whilst ostensibly more violent than Contraband, this film feels more cartoony than gritty, with Andy Milligan’s style being more over-the-top than realistic.
The Ghastly Ones is an infamous film due to its inclusion on the 1980s Video Nasties list under the title Blood Rites, but much like most films on the list, their power to shock has been much diluted over time, feeling positively tame to modern audiences.
All in all, The Ghasty Ones is a good fun b-movie, Andy Milligan bringing his signature rough and ready style to what otherwise could have been a forgettable genre film film. As with a lot of film of this ilk, the transfer is nothing to write home about, beset with dirt and scratches, but much like the pops and scratches of vinyl, these just add an sense of authenticity to the viewing experience. One to watch with some friends and pack of beers.
In an unusual break for the Cult Of Consume, this film features neither gratuitous nudity or evil serial killers. What is though, its an unrelenting and bleak portrayal of prison life and the things done to survive there. Burt Lancaster plays Joe, a long-term prisoner just out of solitary. Beaten down by an lame duck Warden and a brutally sadistic Guard, Joe plans an escape, leading to a bloody conflict with the authorities. Inter cut throughout the film are flashbacks for all the prisoners sharing Joe’s cell, telling the stories of how they ended up there. Notably, all of them ended up in prison due to the women they loved, either being betrayed or committing the crime for them.
Burt Lancaster is mesmerizing as Joe, bringing an intensity to the screen that outshines almost everyone else. Much like many prison dramas, Brute Force is not what could be referred to as a ‘fun’ watch, but it certainly a powerful and moving piece of cinema. Echos of this film can be seen through the years, particulry in films such as The Last Castle or Lancaster’s own Birdman Of Alcatraz. This is a must watch for any cinema fan.
The transfer for the blu-ray is crisp and beautiful, the black-and-white looking rich and full. It comes with a full compliment of extras detailing the behind the scenes and impact of the film.
Of all the films in this volume of Cult Of Consume, The Washing Machine certainly takes the crown for the most WTF insanity. The tentative plot follows a Venetian detective as he is called to the home of three sisters, upon the discovery of a body in the titular washing machine. When he gets there, the machine is empty and the three sisters all have wildly different stories of what happened. Told much like a sexploitation version of Run Lola Run, the detective is slowly drawn into their web of sex, violence, cannibalism, prostitution and even more sex.
Much like Contraband, your experience of The Washing Machine is going to depend much on your willingness to engage with the genre and timeframe. To modern audiences films like this can come across as nonsensical and indulgent, but if you buy into the premise of the film, it becomes a different experience. Director Ruggero Deodato may be better known for his seminal and infamous film Cannibal Holocaust, but here he crafts a surreal trip of a film, go with the ride and it’s quite an experience. Perfect of midnight grindhouse screenings and horror films alike.
Filmed in PSYCHOVISION! Bloody Pit Of Horror is as camp and silly as films based on Marquis de Sade can be. The story is of a group of friends trapped in a castle with a demented actor who thinks he is the reincarnation of an 18th century sadistic, The Crimson Executioner. This film is replete with the tropes of the genre, from creepy old guys in castles, forgettable and vicious henchmen, looking out from the eyes in portraits, beautiful near-naked women, all shot in soft-focus. The one thing that lifts this film from complete obscurity are the ridiculously over-the-top nature of the traps set by the villain. The stand out is certainly the spiders-web featured on the box art. One of the lovely ladies is tied to a metal web, with a poisonous spider model slowly moving towards her. The hero is forced to crawl under a room full of web, if he knocks a single wire arrows will shoot from the wall, killing everyone. Bonkers.
Ultimately, Bloody Pit Of Horror is fun but forgettable. Even the most generous would struggle to call the stars ‘actors’ and most of the effects looks incredibly shoddy to modern audiences. Would work as part of a horror night but I wouldn’t suggest carving out a time in your diary for it.
And so we reach the pinnacle of this month’s releases, the frankly astounding remastering of the 1984 classic, Night Of The Comet. A perennial cult-classic, this tells the story of a pair of teenage sisters caught in the aftermath of a world-wide apocalypse. What keeps this film feeling so fresh is the unique leads. Rather than the traditional Alpha Male taking charge we follow the valley girls as they react to the deaths around them, interact with survivors from the good, to the evil to the downright evil, and bond along the way.
This film sits in an rar place of both being referential and influential. Several 80s tropes are evident here, the synth-pop montage in a shopping mall, pop culture obsessions and the like. But these are given a fresh twist; the abandoned mall they have free range in, obsessions with video arcades translating in gun skills. Moreover, the influence of this film can be seen to this day. Without Comet there is no Buffy, no Tremors, no Shaun Of The Dead. This film broke the mold making all these possible.
This version is perfectly restored, the 80s colours crisp on the blu-ray and the sound pin-sharp. With it you get several fascinating behind-the-scenes documentaries, featuring all the lead talent. The audio commentary from the two leading ladies, Keli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart, is certainly a highlight. This is a must for all fans of the genre and a hearty reccomendation for everyone else.
(Also, Catherine Mary Stewart will be at MCM Expo in October, go meet her. I’ll be first in line…)
Come back next month for more movies from the fringes of cinematic world…if you dare….