August 15, 2005

AN INTRODUCTION – THE BLIND ZOMBIE QUARTET

1968 and mainstream culture embraced Romeros’ modern cult classic ‘Night of the Living Dead’, which shook the graves of slumbersome zombiedom.

1971 and the first euro-offering inspired by Romeros raw slice of corpse and cannibalisation came along. Amando de Osorio’s ‘Tombs of the Blind Dead’ reflected an emerging trend that would eventually become vogue and become an entire genre on its own.

A masterpiece of euro sleaze ‘Tombs’ had a roughness and gothic originality neglected by anything before. It became hits at the drive in circuits, creates a cult in itself and later went on to become one of the darlings of late night yank cable channels.

De Ossorio had been around a wee bit longer regarding experience that outranked Romero. In 1964 de Ossorio directed the western ‘Tumbo del Pistolero’, this gained de Ossorio the credibility to establish his name in early Spanish cinema.

Next de Ossorio flirted with horror with the 1969 ‘Malenka: Niece of the Vampire’ with Anita Ekberg. This was very tame fayre indeed and fortunately Romero’s ‘inspiration’ ignited de Ossorio into creating the superb Knights Templar or ‘Blind Dead’ movies.


De Ossorio added a fascinating ‘historic’ sub-plot, genuinely creepy zombies, decent sfx, liberal doses of sex and a semi-graphic smattering of bloodletting to create a winner with the public and the imagination alike.

‘Tombs of the Blind Dead’ has a perverse atmosphere evident throughout and most if not all characters are obsessed by sex. It is this obsession that ‘animates’ the Blind Dead into their blood drinking spree. These crusty beings can only hunt for prey via sound as their eyes were pecked out when left on the gibbet , hung for crimes of inhumanity as Knights Templar ; or as we may believe in the Templars second outing their eyes were burned out by pissed off villagers. Of course we are also informed the templars' are of the ‘satanic sect’ type so that in their undead incarnation not only kills for a bit of thirst but for kinky sadistic kicks too – awesome!!!!!

The fausty freaks returned in the virtual remake of the first ‘Return of the Evil Dead’ (1973), I had always felt this to be a bit dull. It seemed to lead to gory avenues but stopped brusquely where as in the first film these were part of the shock value showing us the voyeur just how nasty these cadavers are. I read later that a totally uncensored print does exist but for one reason or another could not be seen outside of Spain. Not due, for a change, to a nation’s nannying but due to the rights of the versions and the material contained therein. Apparently several pieces of footage contain more of the red stuff and even more dialogue and sequences omitted from the international release. I hear of the knee trembling release of a Blind Dead box set featuring this version as well as pristine editions of the other films too! I cannot wait as I have not seen the full version and even truncated the movie is pretty decent and the lack of impact lets it down. With this restored what a spectacle to behold!


The third (and most disappointing-according to numerous sources) blind dead film in 1974 was ‘The Ghost Galleon’ or ‘Return of the Zombies’ as it was also strikingly known. This may be weak due to the pace of the piece but I only managed to see a washed out version of this. What messages that are lost in the action of the moment can be saved and enhanced by the cinematography, unfortunately I could not appreciate this as the film was as anaemic as the plot was turning out to be. The new release could save this again by bringing it to life. Who’s to say this is not as atmospherically creepy as ‘The Fog’, perhaps no version of the movie has done this justice as of yet. The poster to its bloody impressive hence it heads this narrative, fantastic artwork which will never be seen again.


1975 saw the Knights Templars’ last dusting off in ‘The Night Of The Seagulls’, although the original could never somehow be excelled this movie ended the saga as good as I would say. Another couple of articles mention ‘missing footage’, hopefully this to will be remedied in the new release. Some stunning images abound from the cinematography used in this swansong as decaying, monk like unspeakables ride in slow motion on their living dead steeds, galloping in the surf. Their victim awaits about to be exsanguinated or much worse; chained to the rocks by jet net-clad village crones.

Such scrumptious imagery can be witnessed in these glorifying chapters of Exploitations’ history. Prepare for reviews when the complete viewing pleasure becomes possible sometime in the Autumn 2005.

After a brief guest appearance in a hallucinatory / dream sequence in John Gillings’ 1975 ‘La Cruz Del Diablo’, sources state that this is a messy, dreary concoction that thankfully has little to do with the Knights Templar quartet of movies and is only connected by a small percentage of content. Having never had the opportunity to view this I cannot comment. So after this small outing the Blind Dead lumbered back to their tombs awaiting another appearance need………………………………..

TEMPLAROGRAPHY

La Noche Del Terror Ciego (1971)

Other pseudonyms ; Mark of the Devil 4 ; Tombs of the Blind Dead, Crypt of the Blind Dead, Night of the Blind Dead , The Blind Dead , Tombs of the Blind Dead .
*Check out the awesome, hypnotic, demonic, chanting soundtrack courtesy of Mr Antón García Abril thankfully continuing throughout the quartet.

Ataque de los muertos sin ojos, El (1973)

Other pseudonyms; Attack of the Blind Dead, Mark of the Devil 5: Return of the Blind Dead, Return of the Blind Dead, Return of the Evil Dead

Buque maldito, El (1974)

Other pseudonyms; Ghost Ships of the Blind Dead, Horror of the Zombies ,Noche del buque maldito, The Blind Dead 3, The Ghost Galleon.

Noche de las gaviotas, La (1975)

Other pseudonyms; Don't Go Out at Night (UK) (video title), Night of the Blood Cult, Night of the Death Cult, Night of the Seagulls, Terror Beach (video title),
The Blind Dead 4.


August 14, 2005

AN INTRODUCTION - MONDO MADNESS

MONDO – a marriage of National Geographic, peep-show, freak-show, geek-show, medical curio. All these weird and wonderful repulsive but fascinating glimpses into global life documented for bizarre tastes.

Surgical close-ups and medical atrocities blend with stark detailed dismemberment; point blank assassinations and nauseating cruelty by man or nature are offered to the viewer as steak tartare exploitation. The most perturbing thing – this is going on!! These are the things that sure as hell won’t make any sanitised news programme that concentrate more on gloss than guts.

These films stir viewers’ sensibilities when watching; you will either love them fascinated by the genre that is as close to snuff as we can possibly find, and as thrilling as anything visual we can get. Then there are the moralists, who like we are entitled to their own opinion, that feel this is possibly the worst kind of exploitation cinema that makes entertainment out of human suffering. Dear moralist ask yourself if you are a fan of reality TV, dear moralist ask yourself if you have ever looked or slowed down to view an unfortunately all too frequent motorway car crashes if you have you are in no place to condone or chide. For those who say no to either then you may not be of human origin or should simply watch constant loops of Little House On The Prairie – the complete set , there we are isn’t that lovely.

Mondo movies could stake there humble beginnings as gar back as when movie first wowed. Thomas Edison filmed ‘An Execution by Hanging’ (1898) possibly the first and last film to visually depict unflinchingly an execution. Edison again filmed ‘Electrocution of an Elephant’ (1903), featuring the disturbing annihilation of Topsy, an elephant used to build Coney Island.

In 1931 saw ‘Ingagi’ highlighting human sacrifice to a gorilla god. The movie done very well at the box office and one of the reasons was the fact that during the ritual sequence this gave the viewer to ogle admirably at the topless slaves dancing in frenzied rites of pantomime. Due to this all involved no doubt rubbed their hands and saw the green dollars.

1950 saw the beginnings of the darker side of the Mondo movie being debuted for the first time in ‘Wild Rapture’, we are treated to pygmy hunting and dissection of Elephant and Gorilla, lip splitting and the staple repulsive image of most Mondo movies – ‘bug eating’.

1954’s ‘Karamoja’ saw an American dentist on an African tour. As with most Mondo experiences this has to be one of the firsts to feature predominantly violent and graphic footage.

Then in 1962 came the turning point in Mondo cinema , Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco E.Prosperi created ‘Mondo Cane’ (transl.It’s A Dogs life’), this mixed a heady cocktail of immorality for the times), sex, drugs and offensive newsreel footage and documentary footage from the creators themselves. Segments in time from around our world luridly cinematographed and unflinchingly executed; shamelessly showing the nature of the beast, warts and all.

So popular was the theme ‘More’ by orchestrational exploitational maestro Riz Ortolani that it reached top 5 in numerous countries. The film was banned in England (there’s a surprise) and has not surfaced ever since. Judging by the way the u.k censors make up the snip-snip rules as they go along what version and when will remain a mystery.

Due to its superfluous success ‘Mondo Cane No.2’ promised we ‘it’s sick, sick time again’ in 1963. The same persons also brought ‘Women of the World’, Africa Addio and the startling mockumentary, ‘Adio Zio Tom’ (Goodbye Uncle Tom) in 1971. The mondo style was taken back to the Deep South in one of the yanks’ merciless periods in history – slavery in ‘Tom’ and caused a wave of controversy - this will be a tough one to review but expect it shortly.

So popular was Mondo Canes’ appeal it launched a whole sub-genre of shockumentary. True scenes of death and despair gaily skips along with mock suicides and anything humanitarianly grim. As the Emanuelle films - some of these (especially the early ones) are hit and miss and would probably be able to be broadcast on most channels in a late night slot. Some however would not stand a snowballs chance in hell of being released in this country – uncut that is.

During a delirious period in exploitation history such jaw droppers would have been at our nearest and dearest fleapit with such stunningly sinful titles as; Malamondo(1964), Taboos Of The World (1965), Mondo Balaordo (1964), Our Incredible World (1966), Sadismo (1967), Mondo Magic (1972), Faces Of Death (1978), The Shocking Africa (1978), Inhumanities (1988) and Executions (remember the furore in the U.K over that one) (1994). As the series progressed so the shock values escalated from mildly nauseating to monitor switch-off out and out vile. All trying to excel one another and scale the depths of the taboo. What started with dwarves dancing and an actor having the shirt ripped off him by besotted fans became catalogues of cruelty showing third world abortions, holocaust aftermath, female and male circumcision and some of the most despicable acts bestowed upon all things cute, warm and fluffy.

Mondo also poked its nose where it was most welcome – the horror genre. Those insatiable Italians used real animal cruelty and human gruel intercut into many such films. Purely for thrills and with the cash registers of the box office ringing in their ears the whole time. It was mainly the ‘cannibal’ genre that done well by this treatment. Deep River Savages, Cannibal, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals and the holy grails of this subgenre ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ and ‘Cannibal Ferox’ revelled in this technique to achieve stark violent cinema- verite to an otherwise already gruesome adventure.

During our journey throughout this website such tantalising glimpses into such a fascinating but morally neglected genre could prove that these ‘unmentionables’ are no more blueprints for our 20th century viewing habits.

We mustn’t forget they were here first and perhaps it’s about time they were rediscovered. A friend once commented that ‘you name it and it would’ve been filmed’, watching a clutch of these and some other choice titles I tend to agree with him wholeheartedly. I love ‘em!


MONDO- ‘A FORBIDDEN WORLD REVEALED BY HIDDEN CAMERAS! SEE EVERY CONCEIVABLE TORTURE KNOWN TO MAN, CIVILLISED OR SAVAGE! ALL TRUE, ALL REAL (hah-hum), AN INCREDIBLE ORGY OF SIGHTS AND SOUNDS ACTUALLY FILMED IN THE DARK CORNERS OF THIS SICK WORLD!’