Saturday, April 27, 2013

Three Films Make A Post: Horror so incredible it stretches the mind of man beyond the breaking point!

Armored Car Robbery (1950): Working for RKO's b-unit, Richard Fleischer learned early on some of the virtues that would make him one of the better work-for-hire directors in years to come: an ability to tell a story in the most economical manner while still giving it room to breathe. Case in point is this hard-boiled movie about the hunt for a quartet of armoured car robbers, a film that uses its 67 minutes of runtime to the fullest, trusting in the abilities of a fine cast (particularly Charles McGraw, Adele Jergens and William Talman), and its audience's knowledge of the basics of the genre its working in. I'm tempted to say there's not quite enough depth to Armored Car Robbery but then, like its title, this is a movie that is all about a slick, polished surface that already says all there is to say.

The Crimes Of The Black Cat aka Sette Scialli Di Seta Gialla (1972): For most of its running time, Sergio Pastore's giallo comes down on the side of the giallo as a murder mystery, using a lot of favourite giallo bits and bobs (the amateur detective, fashion models as the main victim group, the black-gloved killer) in an entertaining, yet also somewhat conservative and certainly not lurid manner. Which is a curious thing to say about a movie about a blind composer (played by old wooden face Anthony Steffen with a quiet intensity of obsession I'm not surprised anymore now that I've seen him in enough movies where he actually acts) hunting a killer who uses a black cat as his murder weapon, but there you have it.

The film only becomes truly lurid and crazy with its last murder and final plot twist; fortunately, as the very solid and stylish suspense scene surrounding that final twist and luridness demonstrate, Pastore is well equipped to make a perfectly fun film even without the lurid and the crazy whose absence so often breaks a giallo.

Eyeball (1975): This one is generally treated as one of Umberto Lenzi's best giallos but I can't say I see it. Sure, there's a killer in a stylish red raincoat haunting Barcelona stealing eyeballs, but the red raincoat is as stylish as anything here gets, and the eyeball-stealing less lurid than is sounds. Meanwhile the plot slowly plods along, the mystery bores a bit, and the murders just aren't all that interesting. It's an okay film to watch if you don't have anything exciting at hand, but that's as far as it goes for me.

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