Emmanuelle (1974)

One from the to watch pile…

Emmanuelle (1974)

Film: There was once a time when soft core porn was cool. When a man and a woman could go out and enjoy a film with saxophone and oboe filled soundtracks, lithe sensual women, iron-jawed rugged men and more camera filters than you could shake a nubile titty at. Porn evolved fairly quickly as it became less something artistic that could be enjoyed by the general public and became a dirty societal secret, shunned by the mainstream because, you know, masturbation is dirty and only the scum of the earth do it.

Over the course of history the production value on porn films has been of varying degree, just like any other form of entertainment but this is a review about one film, not a reflection on an industry that even defines technological advances by what it uses to get its message across, like VHS and Bluray.

Emmanuelle was directed by soft-core legend Just Jaekin, who also directed The Story Of O and Gwendoline, a film I thoroughly enjoyed as it is a bizarre mix of a female Indiana Jones movie and a titty-flick. The film’s script was written by Jean-Louis Richard which was of course based upon the original novel by Emmanuelle Arsen, which was a series of erotic fantasies. This film launched an entire sub-genre of films which has Emmanuelle in the title, from the Black Emmanuelle flicks to the bizarre is-it-a-comedy-or-a-soft-core-porn-film Carry On Emmanuelle.

Emmanuelle (Sylvia Krystal) is the wife of a French ambassador, Jean (Daniel Sarky) assigned to Thailand. Emmanuelle and Mario have a very open relationship, as jealousy is out of fashion and apparently Emmanuelle is a spectacular lay and he doesn’t believe he should keep her gift all to himself.

So of course the story here shows Emmanuelle riding the beast with two backs across a foreign country, whilst her husband has his way with the various housemaids that litter their property, but is he honest with his lack of jealousy, or will the amount of people, male and female, who end up face down in her private parts start to piss him off? This is all without even taking into account her tryst with one of his work colleagues who just hands her around like a towel to all and sundry!

Be careful what you wish for, Jean!

There is no doubt Just Jaekin knows his way around a camera. The whole production is filmed softly, but not so softly that it takes away from the content. It does, however, spend most of the time looking like a Stevie Nicks music video but with boobs and gentle lovemaking.

I am well aware of the importance of this film but I was as bored as bored can be through the film… except for a sequence with a naked girl and a cigarette: here I was intrigued!! This is one of those films that I am glad I can tick off my list of films that should be seen. But it will definitely only ever get one tick.

Score: *

Format: The review of this film was done with the Umbrella region 4 DVD release which runs for approximately 94 minutes. It’s is presented in a decent 1.66:1 image with a 2.0 audio soundtrack.

Score: ***

Extras: None.

Score: 0

WISIA: No.

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974)

One from the re watch pile…

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974)

Film: As with all film fans, there are ‘Holy Grails’ on my mental checklist of ‘need to sees’ and before I had seen it, this was one of mine. This film, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, is also known as Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (which is more or less a translation of the Italian title “Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti” which literally means “You must not desecrate the sleep of the dead”) and Don’t Open the Window. I had these three films on my list, and for some reason I was ignorant of the fact that they were one in the same film.

Imagine my joy when I found out they were one and the same.

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue tells the following tale: George (Ray Lovelock) is an antiques dealer who enjoys his weekends in the country, away from the hustle and bustle and pollution of the big city. One weekend on his way to his retreat, he has a small accident with the gorgeous Edna (Christine Galbo) who is on the way to assist her brother in law Martin (Jose Lifante) in an intervention with her heroin addicted sister, Katie (Jeannine Mestre). Unfortunately his motorbike is wrecked, and so Edna offers to take him to where he has to go in her car.

Typically they get lost, and George stops to ask for directions at a farm that is using a revolutionary pest control technique that has a disturbing side effect: it brings the dead back to life! Whilst George is away from the car, Edna is attacked by one of the living dead, and so begins a descent into madness that finds corpses returning to eat the living, babies showing deadly signs of cannibalism and the local constabulary, led by a hardnosed old-school inspector (Arthur Kennedy) thinking they are a pair of homicidal hippies!

One of the things I really like about this film is what a misogynistic, sexist arsehole the male lead, George (Ray Lovelock) appears to be. He is a condescending, self assured jerkoff, and honestly I can’t tell if he is representing men of the era accurately, or if he is a parody akin to what was seen in something like the MUCH later film The Editor.

Now the female lead is one I really like. Christine Galbo plays her role of Edna like a more realistic Barbara from Night of the Living Dead. She is definitely in shock, but almost completely avoids the dumb-founded catatonia that made Barbara a frustrating piece of furniture to be thrown around by the male protagonists.

Actually I felt this film owed a lot to Night of the Living Dead, and not just due to its walking dead, its machismo fuelled male lead or weak-ankled female lead. There is an all over sense of impending doom, and the more cynical of us might just say the ending is a blatant copy of Romero’s B/W film.

The script, by Sandro Continenza, is both retro and revolutionary at the same time. It has hippie-hating cops and the women are of the shrinking violet variety, but it also looks at ‘new’ clean pest-rid technologies. It’s anti-pollution, looks briefly (and amusingly) at heroin addiction and demonstrates a high level of environmental awareness.

An absolute cracker. It precedes George Romero’s ideas of the dead’s instincts presented in Dawn of the Dead by several years, and its anti-pollution, pro-eco stance is well ahead of its time. As for Blue Underground’s disc, well it is chock-a-block full of more extras than you could shake a grave marker at. I never thought I would see a film to rival Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, and while I still may not have, this comes real close

Score: *****

Format: This review was performed on the Blue Underground, two-disc Set from about ten years ago. The DVD has a delightful image: bright, vibrant, detailed, and is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen. The cover claims the image has been remastered in Hi Definition from the original camera negative, and I am guessing it is that process which gives it…ahem… new life. The film is presented in a choice of 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround, Dolby Surround 2.0 and Original Mono. I reviewed this as 5.1 and was impressed by the quality. Of course, the voices do not always match the speaker’s lips but this may be due to dual language tracks rather than a fault of the disc mastering.

Score: ***1/5

Extras: This being a 2 discer means we are treated to a coffin full of extras.

Disc 1 treats us to the International trailer (which identifies the film as The Living Dead at THE Manchester Morgue, but gets away with it by providing a COOL music track), the U.S. trailer (under the title of Don’t Open the Window, and is one of those SEE!!! HEAR!!! Type trailers), TV Spot (another US trailer for Don’t Open The Window), Radio Spots (a collection of radio adverts with a collection of posters played over the screen…excellent) and Poster and Still Gallery (a collection of pixelated pictures and posters and stills from the film).

Disc 2 has a great series of featurettes:

Back To the Morgue – On Location With Jorge Grau sees director Grau revisit locations in Derbyshire and Manchester and talk about the production, location and filming of the movie. The revisitation of Southgate hospital shows it to be a condemned building…shame but the visit to the graveyard is fantastic (especially to a grave yard explorer like me) as it is the graveyard that contains the grave of Robin Hood’s Lieutenant Little John!! The visits are accompanied by amusing reminiscences from Grau. A favourite would have to be his justification of having the streaker in the opening part of the film; while he admits it wasn’t in the script, he believed it was ‘suggested’ by the scriptwriter.

Zombie Fighter – Interview with Star Ray Lovelock is an interesting interview with the actor where he basically recounts his career.

Zombie Maker – Interview with Special Effects Artist Gianetto De Rossi is an interesting look not just at the effects of this film and the effect’s artist’s body of work, but also a brief history of effects artists in European cinema.

2000 Interview with Jorge Grau is a more personal interview with Grau, and he discusses his life and influences, and the making of the film.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s an amazing zombie film and well worth repeated viewings!

Orca (1977)

One from the to watch pile…

Orca (1977)

Film: I just love cinema, I really do, and one of the things I love is when something becomes popular, or a blockbuster, smaller, not as well funded productions gear up to challenge whatever was the ‘hit’.

After 1975’s Jaws, killer sea life was all the rage: several Jaws sequels, Piranha, Humanoids from the Deep, The Deep, Mako, and this film, Orca (which, ironically, was the name of Quint’s ship in Jaws: the orca being a creature that can kill a great white shark). Orca was directed by Michael Anderson, legendary director of things like The Dambusters, Logan’s Run and Doc Savage, from a script by Luciano Vincenzoni, the writer responsible for The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Policewoman and Raw Deal.

I honestly don’t remember if I have ever seen this film before, but if I have it would have been on TV rather than any of the multiple forms of home video, as I don’t have any recollection of ever hiring the film, and I certainly have never owned it before.

Captain Nolan (Richard Harris) and his crew, Novak (Kennan Wynn), Paul (Peter Hooten) and Annie (Bo Derek, in her first released film… she had filmed one prior but it wasn’t released until after this) hunt sharks to sell, but when they witness a killer whale kill a great white they decide, against the wishes of marine biologist, Rachel Bedford (Charlotte Rampling), turn turn their attention to capturing one of those instead.

So they make their merry way to sea and try to catch a male killer whale, but instead accidentally snag a female, who at first attempts to kill herself to avoid capture by pushing herself against the prop of the boat, but fails, and once slung up, we find that she was also pregnant and she spontaneously aborts the foetus. Her mate spends the whole time in the water freaking out and commits Nolan’s face to memory…

Soon, the boat is attacked by the male and Nolan decides to throw the female overboard, but the male kills Novak and the male pushes the body of his dead mate to shore as a warning to all that he wants his revenge! Even a local Native American, Umilak (Will Sampson) warns Nolan about the memory and capacity for revenge that orcas have.

The small town is attacked by the whale, but will Nolan face up to his responsibilities and clear out of town, leaving it in peace, or will he try to kill the male, and leave the town in pieces?

You have to love a film with an opening action scene that is a clear challenge to Jaws. The destruction, with ease, of the Great White in the beginning is clearly Anderson saying,’ you think Jaws was something, our Killer Whales will make mincemeat out of them!’

The film is made in an exquisite location of Petty Harbour in Canada and every scene makes me want to go their more and more. Upon a bit of research I discovered that ironically two of the tourist locations in this town are whale-watching and their aquarium!

The real winner here is the cast, who do their very best to make do with a story that is preposterous, for example, the orca knowing where to bust a fuel line and what part of the pier it can hit to cause a lot lantern to fall and ignite it: remembering a guy’s face from the water is one thing, but understanding chemistry and physics is something else. It is a horror movie though, so preposterous is to be expected.

Other than the silly idea of a vengeful sea-mammal, the cast don’t really get much of an opportunity to create characters that are sympathetic. The majority of the focus is of Harris’s character and the rest don’t get much of a look in, to the point I reckon that Harris could have performed this as a one-man live stage show! This unfortunately means that whenever something happens to another character, you don’t really care too much, and their deaths seem to be for the purpose of giving Harris some to grieve over and reflect on his character’s stupidity.

I will compliment the special effects crew on the fake orcas: they look amazing in the film and one can’t tell the difference between the real and fake ones except when their situation is out of the ordinary. This is apparently true as well as the trucks delivering the models during the shoot were stopped by anti-whaling protestors!

Orca is a well acted but ultimately silly film that doesn’t seem to have any reason to exist other than as a challenge to Jaws. The cast and the location is really the only reason to watch this film.

Score: ***

Format: This film was reviewed with the Umbrella Entertainment region B Bluray, which runs for approximately 92 minutes is presented in a surprisingly clear 2.35:1and an excellent 5.1 audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: There’s a couple of extras on this disc:

First there is a commentary by film historian Lee Gambin, anthropologists of Nope, Nothing Wrong Here: The Making of Cujo and Massacred by Mother Nature: Exploring the Natural Horror Film,

Moby Dick ala De Laurentiis: Martha De Laurentiis remembers Orca sees Dino De Laurentiis’s business partner, co-producer of his films and widow discuss briefly the making of Orca.

There is also a trailer for the film.

Score: ***

WISIA: If I felt like watching a movie about sea life gone wild, I’d probably watch any of the Jaws films, any of the Piranha films or Humanoids of the Deep before this one.

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

One from the to watch pile…

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

Film: Somehow this film, over all these years, has passed me over.

I mean I haven’t actively avoided it, I just never purchased it nor have I seen it on TV. Maybe there was always something else to buy or watch, but even after Jurassic Park and I discovered a love of writer Michael Crichton, I still didn’t get around to watching it, even though I did watch the… shall we say below average… Congo (in my defence it was after reading the book, which I love, so I was high on crazy white monkey business).

In addition to being based on Crichton’s writings, this film has some amazing pedigree. The script writer, Nelson Gidding, was responsible for the scripts for films like The Haunting (1963) and Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) so you know it’s well written. The director was Robert Wise, known for SO many famous films: Audrey Rose (1977), Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), West Side Story (1961), The Sound of Music (1965) as well as the aforementioned The Haunting and Odds Against Tomorrow. The blurb on the back describes Wise’s direction as ‘clinical precision’ and that description NAILS it.

The Andromeda Strain tells of a satellite that crashes to earth in the small town of Piedmont in New Mexico which releases something that causes the entire towns population to die quite quickly. Scientist Dr. Stone (Arthur Hill) and surgeon Dr. Hall (James Olsen) get into hazmat suits and search the town for answers, and eventually come across two survivors, a baby and the town drunk.

The return to their research facility in Nevada, Wildfire, and are joined by two other scientists, Dr. Dutton (David Wayne) and Dr. Leavitt (Kate Reid) who are all employed to find out exactly what has killed the townspeople.

Wildfire is an intense environment to do their research in as it requires 4 levels of decontamination before the research can even be started, and the threat of a nuclear cleansing is ever present should any of the alien material should leak from its housing.

Will the research scientists be able to find out what has caused all the death, or is mankind doomed?

This film is intense for sure, and at no time is it not a feast for the eye. The production design of the town is depressing and as sad as any film that shows the death of a town. The research station is an amazing visual too, albeit dated, and apparently the sets were so good they were used repeatedly throughout the 70s in Tv shows like The Bionic Woman and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

The direction style has this great multi-screen format at times which really tells the story in an exciting, almost comic book fashion, and the acting is of a high caliber.

The Andromeda Strain is a science fiction film that deals with a potentially real problem so very realistically that it is quite disconcerting and is conceptually horrifying.

Score: ****

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Umbrella Entertainment, multi-region DVD which is presented in a clear, though with the occasional artefact, 2.35:1 image with a 2.0 audio track which is just fine.

Score: ***

Extras: Nothing, not even a menu screen.

Score: 0

WISIA: It’s a long film so I’ll have to be really in the mood to take the time to watch it, but I’ll totally watch it again!

Suspiria (1977)

One from the re watch pile…

Suspiria (1977)

Film: There’s a lot of films that I return to again and again. Some are because they are like comfort food and just make me feel good, some for nostalgia, and some because I just flat out like the film. Suspiria is all those things together.

I was introduced to the film by a good friend on laserdisc and was IMMEDIATELY entranced by it. The style was something I didn’t recall seeing before, the story spoke to my love of stories about cults and witches and it starred Jessica Harper, whose presence is startling.

Not to mention Udo Kier!

This film made me a Dario Argento fan and introduced me to the wonderful world of gialli which are now my favourite type of thriller. I should point out I had seen these types of films before but had never really paid attention to them as cinematic movements or sub genre.

Now Argento’s films sit highly on both my list of favourite films and most rewatched films, particularly this one, Tenebrae, Deep Red, Phenomena and his much later film Sleepless aka Non So Honno which felt more like one of his earlier films even though it was made in 2001. I love his visual style and his choice of actors for the lead roles.

Suspiria is the first part of a trilogy of films (the second being Inferno and the third being Mother of Tears) about three ancient sisters who are witches. This first film tells of Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), a young dancer from New York who has been accepted into a exclusive dance school in Germany but she starts at a very strange time for the school.

On the night she arrives, another student leaves and her and a friend’s bodies are found soon after, but their deaths are not the first mysterious occurrences. The school’s blind pianist is murdered by his faithful dog, and another student disappears… This all amongst a strange maggot infestation and Suzy suffering from an illness on which she is put on a special diet.

Quickly Suzy discovers that the school has a strange past involving witchcraft and the occult and maybe, just maybe everything that is happening is connected…

Argento’s eye is amazing in this film and everything has a particular look and feel to it, with an amazing depth of field created with the use of colour and geometry which harkens back to Italian directorial great Mario Bavaria and his style.

His casting choices are fantastic here too. Jessica Harper moves with a natural grace and she really plays into the whole Stranger in a strange land/ alienation thing that horror does so well perfectly. Her natural acting style and girl-next-dooriness make her a perfect Nancy Drew character in this Scooby Doo type adventure.

Suspiria is an exciting watch, both for the visuals and the story, and I really can’t recommend it enough. Top shelf horror.

Score: *****

Format: The reviewed copy of this film was performed on the Australian Umbrella region B Bluray release and it being sourced from a new 4K restoration means it is quite an amazing looking. It is presented in 2.35:1with an equally impressive 5.1 DTS-HD audio and runs for approximately 99 minutes.

Score: *****

Extras: Extras? You want extras? Oh boy, do we have extras!! Granted with most of them being about Suspiria, some themes are re-discussed, but it doesn’t become annoying. Actually it’s a completely look at the film. It must be noted though that if you are adverse to reading subtitles, you may not enjoy most of these extras.

Suspiria Told By Dario Argento is a thorough interview with Dario Argento by Variety’s Nick Vivarelli. It’s a fascinating reflection on the film and the filmmaking process, even down to the selection of the film stock!

25th Anniversary Suspiria Documentary is the documentary that was presented with many DVD releases of the film in 2002 which goes just shy of an hour but looks at the making of the film. It features interviews with Argento, Niccolodi, Harper, Kier, and others involved in the making of the film.

Exclusive Interview with Dario Argento is an interview with Argento from 2004 where he discusses the making of the film. It’s the most uncomfortable interview I’ve ever had to watch as he is twisted in a chair for the whole thing. I swear my back ached by the end of it.

Fear at 400 Degrees: The Cine-excess of Suspiria looks at Argento’s career, the giallo as genre and reflections on the film by various critics and academics.

An Eye for Horror is a TV special from 2000 about Argento’s career, and features interviews with his cast and contemporaries. Essentially, it’s an Argento Love rest. That’s not a criticism in any way: he deserves a love fest!

Dario Argento’s World of Horror is the Michele Soavi helmed from the 80s. Great for its time and still relevant, with some pretty cool behind the scenes footage of the making of some of his films.

The is an image gallery which normally I don’t think are a valuable addition to a DVD or Bluray, but in this case it shows all the promotion material for the film, which I do find interesting.

Next we have a pile of trailers for the film, including the international trailer, the US theatrical trailer, a Tv spot and a few radio ads, followed by an Argento Trailer Reel, starting with Bird With The Crystal Plumage and finishing with Sleepless.

Score: *****

WISIA: One of my favourite films of all time and this release is fantastic; it will get rewatched over and over again.

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (2008)

One from the re watch pile…
Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (2008)

The Umbrella Entertainment Bluray release of the film


Film: 2008 and the viewing of this film was a big thing for me. As an Australian and being a fan of cinema, somehow the fact that this whole ‘Ozploitation’ sub-genre even existed had passed me by. I knew that there were Australian films obviously, and loved a few of them (Mad Max and Turkey Shoot come immediately to mind) but I didn’t realise how much stuff I had naturally assumed were American… even films like Dead Kids aka Strange Behaviour, an Australian film, I naturally thought was America , though in that case I think it was the point.

Now when I say Australian film, I don’t necessarily mean heartfelt, moral stories or period pieces, what I am talking about is the rough and tumble, violent, bloody, nude-filled lowest common denominator films made for people like… well, like me!

This documentary is written and directed by Mark Hartley, who had previous made several documentaries about specific Australian films like Blood and Thunder Memories: The Making of Turkey Shoot and Jaws On Trotters: The Making of Razorback, and it is divided into three sections:

Ocker’s, Knockers, Pubes and Tubes looks at the Australian version of sexploitation, and the celebration of the freedom that the post 60s world allowed us.

QT enthusiastically talks about Ozploitation films.


Comatose Killers and Outback Thrillers jumps into the horror part of this period and we celebrate all the blood and gore that was on offer at the time.

High-Octane Disasters and Kung-Fu Masters is the final part of the film and it looks at the Australian action films of the time.

The biggest problem any film fan and movie collector will have with this film is that by the time you finish it, you have a shopping list of 50 films you immediately have to buy. It’s been almost 9 years since I first saw this and I’m still trying to get Lady Stay Dead and Snapshot!

Robert Powell survives in… well, The Survivor


Director Mark Hartley obviously has a massive love of Australian cinema and this documentary tells the story of this period of Australian cinema with the exact brand of humour that the films it celebrates displays. It has a great look to it as well: It art design is very of the time it discusses but it’s cut in a modern manner and with some hilarious animations.

A special cooee has to go out to the music as well. The selection of pop songs is spot on and the other music by Stephen Cumming of The Sports and Billy Miller of The Ferrets is fabulous too.

Quite possibly the BEST documentary about a niche sub genre of cinema ever. With so many interviews it could have been easily turned into a boring talking heads styled thing, but there is SO much archival footage and SO much clever and interesting editing that is really a feast for the eye.

Score: *****

The menu to the Umbrella Bluray of Not Quite Hollywood


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian Umbrella Entertainment multi-region Bluray release which runs for roughly 98 minutes. The film is presented in 1.77:1 and mostly looks fantastic. As one would expect, some of the archival stuff isn’t perfect. The audio, featuring some amazing Australian music, can be heard in either 2.0 or 5.1 and both sound great.

Score: ****

Extras: Extras? EXTRAS? Oh boy, is this disc just straining the threads of its undergarments with extras! It’s voluptuous with extras! It’s well-hung with extras!

Seriously though, if you for some crazy reason thought there wasn’t enough about Ozploitation info in the main part of the doco, or you just haven’t seen enough boobs, the extras will more than satisfy your desire for more.

First we have a commentary featuring a bunch that the cover declare to be the Ozploitation auteurs: Mark Hartley himself hosts this commentary and through the course of the film has a turnstile of talent who star in the doco, and has a lot more anecdotes and information about this film.

Deleted and Extended Scenes can be watched with the commentary on or off and even though I would have preferred this to be recut into the film, I do like watching them with either the commentary on or off as it’s pretty informative, and features some films that are quite conspicuous with their absence.

The Lost NQH Interview: Chris Lofven which features an interview with the director of 1976’s OZ, which unfortunately was left out of the film.

Quentin Tarantino and Brian Trenchard-Smith Interview Featurette has a conversation between the two directors and their respective careers.

Melbourne International Film Festival Ozploitation Panel sees a whole bunch of NQH interviewees talking about the state of censorship and other aspects of film and art of the time this film discusses. (There is a misspelling of the film ‘Stork’ as ‘Stalk’ but I guess either could be used to describe the character!)

Melbourne International Film Festival Red Carpet is an astounding piece of footage of stuntman Grant Page walking the red carpet, quite calmly, on fire.

Behind the Scenes Footage from the Crew sees a bunch of BTS stuff filmed on a Duty free purchased video camera whilst they were in the UK doing the interviews for the film.

UK Interview with Director Mark Hartley is just that, and it’s a nice introduction to the director.

The Bazura Project Segment sees another interview with Hartley with the guys from The Bazura Project.
The Monthly Conversation is a low-res version of an interview Hartley did with Tom Ryan from The Monthly.

The Business Interview is an audio only interview with Hartley.

Extended Ozploitation Trailer Reel is 3… yes, 3 hours of Ozploitation movie trailers!

Confessions of an R-Rated Filmaker: John D. Lamond Interview sees Mr. Lamond talk about his career.

The next 5 extras are archival ones, made at the time of the films they represent.

On-set Interview with Richard Franklin is an interview with Franklin on the set of the horror film Patrick.

Terry Bourke’s Noon Sunday Reel talks about the making of a film called Noon Sunday.

Barry McKenzie: Ogre or Ocker is a short doco about the making of the Barry McKenzie films.

Inside Alvin Purple is an hour long documentary about Alvin Purple.

To Shoot a Mad Dog Documentary looks at the making of Mad Dog Morgan.

Ozploitation Stills and Poster Gallery is an awesome look at a lot of promotional stuff for many of the films mentioned throughout the documentary. It’s an animated gallery too, with some funky music over the slideshow.

NQH Production Gallery like the previous Gallery is an animated one, but now has some great portraits of the interviewees for the documentary.

NQH Pitch Promos sees the inception of the NQH project and features a lot of Tarantino, and his endorsement with some of Hartley’s other documentaries that have features]d as extras on other DVDs and BDs. 

NQH Original Theatrical Trailer is (phew!) exactly what the name would suggest!

If that’s not enough extras, I don’t know what else could appease you.

Score: *****

WISIA: if it’s not the best documentary made about movies, it’s certainly the best made about Ozploitation movies. I rewatch it regularly!

Cassandra Delaney braves a bull bar in Fair Game

Fantastic Planet aka La Planete Sauvage (1973)

One from the to watch pile…
Fantastic Planet aka La Planete Sauvage (1973)

The cover to the Umbrella Entertainment DVD


Film: In my stupidly overlarge collection of books about films, I regularly go back to the 1,000 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and this film is always present in the list.

This animated film was directed by French director René Laloux, and was animated by an all-female group of animators called ‘animatrices’, the production starting in Prague but eventually moved to France due to Communist authorities who were in power at the time.

Apparently this film was inspired by the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in the late 60s (I know this as it is written on the back cover of the DVD) but I won’t make any commentary on that as my understanding of politics and non-Australian history is somewhat lacking, and anything I may say would be superficial and I don’t wish to insult people based on a subject I know nothing about.

I like movies, and whilst I appreciate some have subtext and meaning, I’m not one to comment on something of which I know nothing about.

Based on the book Om En Série by Stefan Will (a pen name of Pierre Pairault, writer of La Mort Vivant amongst others), Fantastic Planet tells of a planet inhabited by the Draags, a gigantic race of blue beings whose appearance may be slightly similar to ours, but whose existence is completely alien.

Also on this planet is a race identical to ours called Oms. Oms are kept as pets by the Draags, and our story tells of a young Draag, Tiwa, who has an Om of her own whom she calls Terr. 

Like any young girl, Tiwa dresses up her pet and loves him dearly, but Terr isn’t like other Oms. Terr listens in on Tina’s school lessons, learning all he can about everything to do with the planet. 

Terr has some creature make him new clothes.


As Tiwa gets older, she grows out of her playthings and Terr decides to run away, taking with him an educational headset, which to him is huge, so he can learn more about the world. Quickly, Terr meets up with a tribe of wild Oms and with his knowledge becomes a full fledged member, but will his knowledge bring revolution, or destroy the Oms altogether?

The Oms gets an education from a Draag device.


The visuals of this film are amazing. Each frame looks like it is straight out of a comic as there is depth to the pencil lines, and a beautiful watercolour element to the colour tones. The animation is a little clunky, but the artistic style overpowers that and the overall result is a treat.

How alien the planet is is wonderful too. The creatures are horrifyingly different to most modern science fiction art styles, and look more like they have been torn straight off a 1920s issue of Weird Tales cover. They are all a delight to behold though.

The soundtrack is amazing, and straight out of a prog rock rulebook, with maybe a little bit of Euro-sleeze porn bass thrown in for good measure.

This film is nothing short of beautiful and is well worth the award it received at the 1973 Cannes film festival. It’s slow paced but the visuals and score make it a fascinating watch. It’s said to be a precursor to the work of Studio Ghibli and with its unusual pace and innovative art design, I can’t argue with that.

Score: ****

A rare sighting of a What-the-hell-is-that?


Format: This Australian Umbrella Entertainment all-region (NTSC) DVD release of the film runs for approximately 72 minutes and is presented in a clear 1.66:1 image with a decent 2.0 audio track. The audio track is available in either French or English, but without a menu it can only be changed via your player’s audio options. I couldn’t turn off the subtitles though so in English that did become distracting when the dialogue was different.

Score: ***

Extras: Not a skerrik, I’m afraid… not even a menu!

Score: 0

WISIA: I think I am going to have to watch it a few times just for the beauty of the artistic style of the film, but maybe not so much after that.

The only good Draag is a dead one, if you are an Om.

Supervixens (1975) 

One from the re watch pile…
Supervixens (1975)

The cover of the UK DVD release


Film: I had read about soft-core porn filmmaker Russ Meyer long before I had ever seen any of his films. I remember seeing the image of a gigantic pair of boobs hanging from out the front of a cinema in Sydney in a magazine called Shocking Cinema which contained that particular image, with a small write up, within a ‘sealed’ section.

Just through magazine I read, and shops I frequented, like Land Beyond Beyond in Sydney, I became a little obsessed with Meyer though the opportunity to see any of his stuff didn’t become available to me until I managed to get my hands on a few releases Madman in Australia did on DVD a few years ago, and since then I’ve grabbed everything that Arrow Films in the UK have available, and have accumulated several books on the subject of Mr Meyer, including his experiences documenting WWII , as well as a photographer for Playboy in the early days.

The focus of Meyer’s movies are the female form, and the bustier the better! There are certain male attributes that are generally enhanced too when the opportunity arises for a peek though. His films are no doubt soft core porn, but there’s no ‘I’ve come to clean ze pool’ stuff in his work: no, these are articulate, rural black comedies that if you don’t just fast forward to the nudity, or turn them of when you have… um… ‘finished’, you’ll get a lot out of them

His movies are spectacularly weird too and he has been called the ‘Rural Fellini’, insomuch that his films merge fantasy, not just sexual but metaphysical and supernatural within the rural environments, like farming communities and small towns.

Supervixens is no variation on that.

Clint Ramsey (Charles Pitt) getting down and dirty


Poor Clint Ramsey (Charles Pitts) has a problem: his woman, Superangel (Shari Eubanks) is a suspicious, high-maintenance, voluptuous woman whose sexual appetite and penchant for violence is making his life a living Hell, even though she is a gorgeous.

After a particularly horrible argument, Supervixen calls the police, who send police officer Harry Sledge (Charles Napier). He quickly proves to be her undoing when he murders her after she tries similar shenanigans on him when he fails to satisfy her her in bed.

The titular Supervixen.


Sledge murders her and places the blame square in Clint’s lap, which puts him on a trip across country, evading the law and somehow ending up pursued by every horny, busty woman he …ahem… comes across, but will Sledge catch up with him?

This movie is heaps of fun and has some bizarre scenes that somehow make plenty of sense within Meyer’s eye. He has this amazing sense of cinematic style with the camera that once you see past the statuesque figures on screen, you really see a man who is totally in control of his craft. His previous occupation as a photographer is clear in the amazing way he frames his scenes.

The women in this film aren’t the only amazing thing within the camera’s eye: the locations are desolate and the heat of the desert is almost palpable.

I really love this movie, and though you probably should start any Meyer adventure with either Vixen or Faster Pussycat! Kill! KILL!, you really can’t pass this up.

Score: ****

The UK DVD menu screen


Format: Supervixens was reviewed using the U.K. Arrow Films DVD release which is presented in an ok 4:3 image with a pretty clear 2.0 audio. The image is a little artefacty at times but not to the detriment of the entire image.

Score: ****

Extras: Only two extras on this disc, but both are as entertaining as hell.

First there is an amazing commentary with director Russ Meyer where he doesn’t just tell amusing stories about the making of this film, but also interesting reflections of his life. 
Next, we have a trailer reel of Meyer’s films: Faster Pussycat! Kill! KILL!, Blacksnake, Mudhoney, Vixen, Wild Gals of the Naked West, Supervixens, Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens, Cherry, Harry & Raquel and Common-Law Cabin.

Honestly Meyer’s trailers are the best ever made, not just because of the beautiful stars, but also due to the absolute Sideshow Huckster, P.T. Barnham styled voiceovers which deliver the hard sell like never before.

Score: ***

WISIA: It’s a funny, sometimes silly and occasionally violent piece of classic Meyer cheese: not for family viewing but I watch it when I can.

Harry Sledge (Charles Napier) looks back at future victims.

The Cheerleaders (1973) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Cheerleaders (1973)

The cover of the UK Arrowdrome DVD release


Film: The teen sex comedy was a huge thing in the 80s, and I reckon as a teenager I saw most of them, which were basically stupid jokes mixed with hot half-naked girls in a soft-porn environment. 

As a teen in those days it was hard to get your hands on prom so this was as close as you could get… you kids have it so easy these days.

The film, The Cheerleaders, from 1973, clearly inspired by the films of Russ Meyer, were personably an inspiration to those eighties films and there is a lot of the bare bones of them in this. 

Written and directed by Paul Glickler, this film was also a clear influence on 1978’s Debbie Does Dallas not so much plot-wise, but certainly with the environment and the over-sexed teenaged girls.

The Cheerleaders of Amorosa High need a new cheerleader to make up their squad, seeing as how one of them has ended up pregnant. Now these Cheerleaders are, well, somewhat slutty, and so the head (heehee, ‘head’) cheerleader Claudia (Denise Dillaway), in cahoots with the ladies physical education teacher, decide to get a virgin to be their replacement so they don’t have that problem of pregnancy flare up again.

Claudia (Denise Dillaway) is concerned about something over there.


The problem is Jeannie (Stephanie Fondue) is desperate to ‘lose her cherry’ and the rest of the team want her too as well… and she does! Very soon the team are caught up in a match rigging exercise where their team are tired out by a massive orgy organised by an unscrupulous crook, but to make things even the Cheerleaders kidnap all the opposing team and proceed to have their way with each and every one.

Jeannie (Stephanie Fondue) does her best Jan Brady impression


The acting is terrible and the jokes are sophomoric at best, but it has a weird charm to it, which honestly might just be due to its age, rather than actual quality… the fact I love 80s teen sex comedies probably play into that as well. Heaps of ‘ nice balls’ and businesses with the names ‘Beaver Wash ‘ (a car wash) styled jokes run riot. Its Carry On and Russ Meyer all mixed together.

The weird thing is the world in which this movie exists. All teenage girls are oversexed, men are dumb crooks, and every adult male is an ephebophile.

It’s fun and dumb and I reckon an absolute influence of the biggest teen sex comedy of the 80s, Porkys, but it doesn’t necessarily hold up like Porkys does.

Score: **1/2

The DVD menu screen for disc one


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was on the UK Arrow films release DVD, and was an ok image, but far from great. The films image is a 1.78:1 aspect and has heaps of artefacts and some streaks, but everything that needs to be seen, can be, so it’s not too detrimental to the viewing experience. The audio is in 2.0 stereo and is just fine.

Score: ***

Extras: This disc was one of Arrow Films’ ‘Arrowdrome” series of releases, and comes with a reversible cover, an Arrow Films catalogue and a booklet featuring an essay from Cinema Sewer legend, Robin Bougie.

There are two extras on disc one: the trailer and a radio spot for the film.

Disc two though, has the full feature length sequel Revenge of the Cheerleaders, and includes trailers, radio and TV spots for the film. Make sure you watch this one too as it does feature Cheryl ‘Rainbeaux’ Smith, and a young David Hasselhoff as ‘Boner’.

Score: ****

WISIA: Once was enough for me.

Peripheral vision was at an all-time low in the early 70s.


Summer vs Zombruary: Zombie Flesh-Eaters (1979) Review


This film serves a double purpose. It is the first of February, the final month of the Australian summer, and what better way to spend your final month of summer than on a beautiful island, with clear waters to sail upon, and the undead who wish for your destruction. Also, this is the first review of the To Watch Pile’s Zombruary: a whole month of nothing but reviews of zombie films!
One from the re watch pile…
Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)

Zombie Flesh-eaters: The Arrow Bluray steelbook… unfortunately mine is battle damaged!


Film: I love Lucio Fulci films as they appeal to all the things I love about horror: the disturbing tale, the gore, the nudity, the violence, and especially in Fulci’s case, the sheer oddball-ness of it, or as ‘proper’ educated film critics may put it, his use of surrealism to convey the supernatural.

But I’m just some dude who likes horror movies, so I probably wouldn’t say that!

An abandoned ship enters New York Harbour with a soul occupant who attached a harbour police officer before being shot, and knocked off board. The owner of the boat’s daughter, Anne (Tisa Farrow) is notified of the murder and decides to sneak onboard to see if she can what happened to her missing father, who did not return with the vessel.

Zombie Flesh-eaters: Ian McCulloch and Tisa Farrow using the 70s version of a mobile phone.


When she sneaks onboard, which is being guarded by the NYPD, she meets reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch) who is looking for a story, and the pair of them quickly team up to back track her father’s movements to find where he has been, and what may have happened to him. They charter a boat owned by Brian Hull (Al Cliver) and his lovely girlfriend, Susan Barrett (Auretta Gay) and make their way to the island of Matul.

…but what they find is a seemingly mad doctor, Dr Menard (Richard Johnson) fighting against the undead!!! Will they find out what happened to Anne’s father? Will all of them escape the island alive? Is this the beginning of some kind of zombie holocaust; some kind of dawn of the dead?

This isn’t my favourite Fulci film: The Beyond has that honour, but instead this still sits high on the cool list for me. 

First up it’s cool that a zombie film of this period actually has a reason for the dead coming back and it’s not just some kind of facility for cinema to tell us about ourselves. I love the fact it’s just a film about zombies, and not ‘consumerism’ or whatever.

Then its just the flat out insanity of some of the scenes: the zombies aren’t freshly dead like in Dawn of the Dead, they look almost mummified and have a real creepy texture about them. Except for one, the one that fights the shark, near the basically naked Audretta Gay in a g-banger and a scuba tank.

Zombie Flesh-eaters: surf ‘n’ turf


Finally, the gore is just so fantastically over the top one can’t help but just marvel at it, I mean, it’s not extraordinarily realistic, but even to attempt some of the ideas in a world of practical effects is absolutely awe inspiring. Even going back around to the zombie versus shark sequence, one can’t help but marvel at the job.

Basically, this movie is awesome. Get it, watch it, love it!

Score: *****

Zombie Flesh-eaters Bluray menu screen


Format: The film is presented in a really nice 2.35:1 restoration with a choice of two excellent audio tracks, English or Italian, in Dolby Digital 2.0. It’s never looked at good as this, for certain!

Score:****

Extras: Not sure if it’s an extra or not, but there is the opportunity to watch this film as either Zombie Flesh-Eaters, Zombie or Zombi 2. Which ever one you pick, it’s introduced by Ian McCulloch, and it’s really just a change in the title card and nothing else. Is that an extra? I’m not sure, but I thought it bore mentioning!

Also the release I have is a pretty fancy steelbook with some cool original art, and the packaging contains an excellent booklet with articles by Stephen Thrower, Calum Waddell and Craig Lapper, photos of the original script with comments by Jay Slater, Fulci’s CV and a full cast and crew list, all fully illustrated.

Outside of that it’s an Italian smorgasbord of extras. This disc treats us to two commentaries, one with Elisa Briganti who co-wrote the film with her husband Dardano Sancchetti and the other with U.K. horror journalists Stephen Thrower (writer of Nightmare USA) and Alan Jones (writer of Dario Argento: The Man, The Myth and The Magic). Both are fascinating, with Briganti’s being a fantastic look at the making of the film and the Thrower/ Jones one is a fantastic retrospective from two movie journalists, and fans, with whom I have a lot of respect.

Next we have a documentary called From Romero to Rome: The Rise and Fall of the Italian Horror Film. Starting at Night of the Living Dead, but with reflections upon older ‘zombie’ films, it looks at the Italian output in reference to Romero’s output. It’s a great look at zombie films for zombie fans.

There is a heap of trailers and advertising material here, with a U.S. trailer, the Vipco trailer, 2 TV trailers and some radio spots.

Then we have a second disc of just extras!

The first on this disc is called Aliens, Cannibals and Zombies: A Trilogy of Italian Terror which sees Ian McCulloch discuss his acting career.

Zombie Flesh-Eaters: From Script to Screen sees doco director Calum Waddell totally nerd-out (and rightly so!) at an original copy of the script with Dardano Sacchetti.

Music for a Flesh Feast is a Q and A with Fabio Frizzi which is pretty interesting look at how a composer approaches a film.

The Meat-munching Movies of Gino De Rossi is a special effects doco featuring the work of Italian special effects artist De Rossi.

Score: *****

WISIA: I couldn’t actually accurately tell you just how many times I have watched this film, it’s awesome!

Zombie Flesh-eaters: here’s worms in ya eye!