Thursday, March 3, 2011

Three Films Make A Post: Mad Science Spawns Evil Fiends!

Night of the Cobra Woman (1972): This US/Filipino co-production (this time around made by an American director with American leads and Filipino everything else; "everything else" does of course include our old buddy Vic Diaz in his usual role) has quite a bit of interesting subtext circling around ideas of doomed interracial love, unhealthy dominance in relationships and sex as addiction, but falters to make that subtext work as the cheaply shot horror movie it's also supposed to be. For every clever scene, there are two more that work neither thematically nor as exploitation, giving the whole film a ruptured and jagged feel. It's still a bit more enjoyable than many other of these co-productions with Corman's New World Pictures, because director Andrew Meyer is at least visibly trying, though not succeeding, to make a worthwhile movie. Enemies of real animal violence beware: there's some rather ugly and unnecessary stuff on display; poor monkey!

The Invincible Barbarian aka Gunan, King of the Barbarians (1982): This Italian film by Franco Prosperi on the other hand isn't trying anything beyond being an early (these guys were as fast as The Asylum) cash-in on Conan, with random ideas stolen from peplums and possibly a few books thrown into the mix. Take some colourlessly filmed actors on valium, add a stolen soundtrack, stolen special effects scenes, and a British accented voiceover guy rambling random nonsense and explaining the parts of the plot for which there was no budget (basically everything), and you have something Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso would have made comedy gold from. Alas, Prosperi was no Bruno Mattei, and only makes a golden sleeping pill.

Malevolence (2004): Pleasantly irony-deficient slasher about quarrelling amateur bank robbers and their mother-daughter hostage duo coming too close to the pleasure farm of the local mute slasher. The film's photography's pretty great, the acting's pretty solid, bags are worn on heads. It's all very derivative, but watchable enough in its own, unambitious yet competent way. I'd suggest turning the film off ten minutes early, though. For some reason, director Stevan Mena felt the need to tack on five superfluous minutes of unnecessary exposition done by a badly acted cop that doesn't explain anything an even mildly conscious viewer hasn't understood, and further five minutes of nearly as pointless dream sequence after the actual plot has run its course and the ending credits should appear. That's a very unfortunate way to end a mostly alright movie.


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