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.