Friday, 10 July 2009

Basking In The Cesspool Of Filth #11



The Plague Of The Zombies (1966 - John Gilling) - This was apparently the only dip into zombie territory for the folks at Hammer Studios. They really should have done more though, since this was a very good early zombie film (before even "Night Of The Living Dead") with great sets and damn fine looking zombies. The citizens of a small village begin to die off in odd circumstances and then disappear from their graves. The local doctor calls in his former teacher to help figure out what's happening. Turns out there's an old cult-like ceremony that essentially infects chosen people with the curse and they turn into zombies after they die. At which point point they become slave labour (boy, talk about low-cost geographies...).









Murders In The Rue Morgue (1971 - Gordon Hessler) - Kind of a strange beast. That's not bad necessarily, it's just that I didn't expect gorillas...It has several good scenes (mostly the dream sequences of lead actress Christine Kaufmann) and a mostly intriguing plot that has acquaintances of the leader of an acting troupe getting killed off by a horribly scarred man who is supposed to be dead. It threatens to go off the rails on several occasions, but always seems to manage to right itself at the last minute. I love Jason Robards as an actor, but he just didn't work in this role for me. I kept thinking "What the hell is Jason Robards doing in the 1800s"? I guess that's my problem though. Also, Herbert Lom will forever be Chief Inspector Dreyfus (from the Pink Panther films with Peter Sellers) - I know that's not fair, but there you have it.










Cargo 200 (2007 - Aleksey Balabanov) - Not strictly horror, but it contains some really disturbing moments - most of which could be classified as black comedy (emphasis on black). However, because of the oppressive drabness of the film and the depressing Soviet era lives these people lead, it really sends some shivers up your spine. The term Cargo 200 is used to denote bodies of Soviet soldiers coming home from the front lines and it's apropos for the film - there's death everywhere. Even the living are essentially zombies walking through their lives. You can probably guess that it's all a pointed commentary on the Soviet system in the 80s as it crumbled...









Portrait Of Hell (1969 - Shiro Toyoda) - Peter over at Coffee, coffee and more coffee recommended this to me a short while ago, so of course I jumped right on it. There's some terrific imagery throughout the entire film - ghostly presences, fiery hellish scenes and really effective use of lighting. While society crumbles around him and poverty overcomes most everyone else, a Japanese Lord refuses to see it and asks a painter to create a portrait of paradise. The artist can't do it, though, since he can only see despair all around him, so the Lord agrees that he should then paint his own portrait of hell. Of course, all these characters are already living in their own different versions of hell. Highly recommended.







8 comments:

Fox said...

Wow... Cargo 200 as "cesspool" is right! :)

I saw this last year at a fest, and a few ladies walked out after the glass bottle rape scene.

Cargo 200 is the type of confrontational movie that frustrates the doodoo out of me. One the one hand, the filmmaker knows his stuff and has a passionate opinion, and engages us immediately with a drab (yet intriguing) tone...

...but on the other hand, he wipes away any kind of true impact or reflection by resorting to shock tactics with his images. I liken it to the emptiness in French horror that just leans of brutal puches to the gut instead of conveying the feeling of horror.

These images are what were are left with after Cargo 200 is over, and, sadly, not the commentary on a significant time in history.

Bob Turnbull said...

Hi Fox...Hmmm, I hadn't thought of a comparison to those French horror films (which I'm not much of a fan of either) - I see what you're saying and don't disagree entirely, but I found Cargo 200 left more of an impact both viscerally as well as with its overall points. I'm trying to figure out why though...

Two things come to mind. First, I don't think the film revelled in those brutal scenes as much as some of those other films (at least the ones I've seen). It's almost matter of fact about the brutality and then moves on.

Also, as mentioned, I couldn't help getting a blackly comic feel to some of the events because they were just so, well, you know...Not that I laughed though - I cringed.

But yeah, some of the images linger.

Ed Howard said...

it's just that I didn't expect gorillas.

But that's what that story's always about! Sounds like this version deviates quite a bit from the Poe tale, but the images do look cool. The old 30s version is mostly notable for a hilariously campy Bela Lugosi.

Bob Turnbull said...

I need to see the Lugosi version at some point. Not to mention read the Poe tale.

I still didn't expect the gorillas though...

Tor Hershman said...

Than thar monkey done decided to
(darest he speak it? he darest)
GET A HEAD IN THE WORLD.

dr.morbius said...

There are some really goofy cinematic elements in The Plague of the Zombies that kind of torpedoes the film for me. I'm thinking, in particular, of that one scene where the camera has been sped up, making the whole enterprise seem like a Benny Hill episode, but there are other instances. Maybe that's just me.

Peter Nellhaus said...

Thanks for the mention. I did see Rue Morgue theatrically, thinking to myself, Jason Robards is in it, how bad can it be? If I recall, this was in a double feature with Blacula.

Bob Turnbull said...

I'm glad I wasn't thinking Benny Hill at the time - would've totally taken me out of the film and I would've been expecting that short old guy to pop up only to get his head patted. You're right tough Doc...The sped up moments don't work. They rarely do as a matter of fact.

Peter, that's a heckuva double feature...