Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Three Films Make A Post: The Screen Explodes With Wondrous Spectacle Bigger Than Anything You Have Ever Seen!!

Seven Blood-Stained Orchids aka Das Rätsel des Silbernen Halbmonds aka Sette Orchidee Macchiate Di Rosso (1972): Compared to the awe-inspiring insanity of Spasmo, Seven Orchids is a bit of a lame duck among Umberto Lenzi's giallos, a middling film that plods more or less competently through its plot without doing much that excites. It is (perhaps thanks to the fact it is a German co-production sold as an Edgar Wallace adaptation over here?) quite lacking in the four corner virtues of giallos - sleaze, style, violence and brain-melting insanity - with nary anyone getting undressed, hardly a shot that's particularly interesting to look at (Lenzi instead overuses zooms the way people always say Jess Franco does, even though Franco doesn't), murders that mostly feel harmless, and nothing particularly insane going on even in a few scenes taking place in an asylum.

Seven is not a horrible film - Antonio Sabato's horrid jackets and Riz Ortolani's score are worth the price of admission alone - it's just not particularly interesting.

The Great Impersonation (1935): Alan Crosland's (middle) adaptation of E. Phillips Oppenheim's thrice filmed novel is strictly part of Universal's low budget arm, making use of the studio's b-roll actors and sets built for some of the studio's more ambitious movies. Seen in this context, the film is a rather successful effort, its somewhat melodramatic plot flying by with enthusiastic pace. Despite this, I find myself somewhat disappointed by the film, for, treated with more visual creativity and a deeper script, its wedding of 30s espionage pot-boiler and Gothic romance could have been something rather more special than the competent little film The Great Impersonation turned out to be.

Temple of A Thousand Lights (1965): The last in our trio of mildly diverting movies is another Umberto Lenzi film. Richard Harrison plays a charming rogue without the charm by making his "I'm a mighty fine specimen of man, I am" face a lot, Malaysia plays India, and a lot of Italians wear brownface. The film's attempts at being light-hearted only emphasize how much of an asshole its hero is (his basic humour mode is "racist jerkwad"), and there's little happening I haven't seen in more exciting movies before. Again, this is not a horrible movie, just an excitation challenged one.

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