Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Three Films Make A Post: Enter a prime-evil world of future shock and alien terror.

The Unholy Four aka Ciakmull - L'uomo della vendetta (1970): Enzo Barboni's Spaghetti Western about four escaped mental patients (Leonard Mann, George Eastman, Woody Strode, Pietro Martellazana) finding out the truth about the amnesiac (Mann) among them, which obviously leads to some vengeance-ing in the end, starts out strong if loosely plotted, but peters out somewhat after half of the film is over and the actual main plot is truly starting. A film that up to that point was dominated by some beautifully photographed scenes taking place in autumnal Europe/America becomes predominantly bound to not very interesting looking sets and wants a type of highly melodramatic acting from the cast that only Evelyn Stewart actually knows how to provide.

It's thanks to Barboni's impressive tight editing rhythms and his always inventive direction that the film stays watchable and recommendable.

Island Claws (1980): This film about a giant crab and his little crab buddies fighting "eccentrics" in Florida is the only movie by director/producer/writer Hernan Cardenas, and watching it, I wasn't much surprised by that. It's not a catastrophically bad monster movie, but if the internet wouldn't tell me differently, I'd have taken it for a rather mediocre TV movie without anything in the writing or direction marking it as something other than just another movie made for no other reason than a pay check, and without much enthusiasm. The film does have one or two moments of pleasant silliness but the rest of it is just so dumb and inoffensive that I think I've already spent enough words on it.

Heavy Metal (1981): As a rule, I don't watch much Western animation, what with the form's peculiar fixation on kids and a family audience, and it's corresponding lack of exploitational values. The portmanteau film Heavy Metal (based on the US version of the French magazine) is an exception to this rule, seeing as it was made with the twelve year old boy in all of us in mind and therefore exists only to provide exploitational values. I find the quality of the animation rather rough when compared to Japanese films of the same era, but it is rough in a way that fits the film's fixation on breasts, blood and freaky humour.

Personally, I could have lived without the segment based on Richard Corben's Den, but then I do think that the Den stories are the absolute nadir of Corben's rather wonderful body of work. However, as we all know, every film like this is bound by law to contain at least one bad segment, and the rest of the segments is entertaining enough to make up for that beautifully.


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