Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: A Dragonfly for Each Corpse (1975)

Poster for A Dragonfly for Each Corpse (1975)A Dragonfly for Each Corpse (1975)
AKA Una libélula para cada muerto by
#LeónKlimovsky

w/#PaulNaschy #ErikaBlanc #ÁngelAranda

A killer cleans up the streets of Milan by murdering those considered to be deviants and leaving behind an ornamental dragonfly, soaked in the blood of the victim.

#Horror #Spanish #Giallo
#NotQuiteClassicCinema
#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

A Dragonfly for Each Corpse (1975) is very different from the last Paul Naschy film I watched (and wrote about). I am referring to Hunchback of the Morgue (1973), which is one of my favourite Paul Naschy films. It may in fact be the first Paul Naschy film that I ever saw…

I call them Paul Naschy films, even though he is the star, and not the director(s). Naschy is one of those rare personalities who seems to be the defining thing about most of the movies that he’s in. Put another way, he’s the main reason why I (and I presume most people) watch the movies that he’s in.

Of course, he also wrote and directed quite of a few movies. In fact, he’s credited as coming up with the story for A Dragonfly for Each Corpse. So calling it a Paul Naschy film may not be totally off base.

A Dragonfly for Each Corpse is basically a Spanish giallo. Anyone who knows me, know that I love giallos, so it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed this movie. It may not be as good as the best of the genre (some of my favourites include The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Deep Red (1975) and Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972)) but then again it has Paul Naschy in it, so what’s not to like?

I could ramble on for five more paragraphs, listing off all of the things that I enjoyed about A Dragonfly for Each Corpse, but I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep. So, I’ll just leave you with this…

A Dragonfly for Each Corpse (1975) is #NotQuiteClassicCinema that should appeal to both fans of Paul Naschy, and fans of giallos. Just don’t expect it to be the greatest example of either type, and you should be in for a very pleasant and enjoyable #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975)

Poster for Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975)Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975) by #AndreaBianchi

w/ #EdwigeFenech #NinoCastelnuovo #FemiBenussi #SolviStubing

A fashion model dies during a botched abortion, and the people closely connected to her are murdered one by one.

#Giallo #Mystery #Thriller

#NotQuiteClassicCinema
#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975) is a giallo, and a pretty darn fun one at that. I’ve talked about my personal history with giallos, and how I first discovered them many years ago, in a previous blog post. I would love to go into the specifics of this one, but due to the pressures of deadlines, the convergence of multiple responsibilities, and the general unexpected horrors of real life, I find myself at a loss for time, words and sanity right now. 

Suffice it to say that Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975) is a an example of #NotQuiteClassicCinema that really delivers the good (the goods being tons of sleazy fun and violent murder). It has been described as a cross between a giallo and a sex film, and I guess that’s pretty fair. If you enjoy giallos and sex films, you should certainly get a kick out of this one. If you don’t like giallos and/or sex films, you should probably give this one a pass – and ask yourself why you’re reading this blog. Not that it’s only about giallos and sex films, but…

Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975) is a movie that I will definitely be watching again on a not too distant #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)

Poster for Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) by #TheodoreGershuny

w/#PatrickONeal #MaryWoronov #JohnCarradine

A man inherits an old mansion which once was a mental home and is soon stalked by an ax murderer.

“The mansion… the madness… the maniac… no escape.”

#Xmas #Horror
#NotQuiteClassicCinema
#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

I used to walk over to Jumbo Video with my friends (or sometimes alone) in the middle of the night. It was the first video store we had that was open 24 hours – and that seemed unreasonably cool to us. Sometimes you’d go to a late movie and then walk home and you’d realize that you were in the mood to watch two more movies and order pizza – but it was already after midnight! In the old days you’d be stuck watching whatever was on TV or – if you were lucky enough to have any – whatever VHS tapes you had in your collection. But truth be told, we didn’t really have collections yet.

VHS and Beta tapes were super expensive to buy – when they were available at all – and previously viewed movies hadn’t really been invented yet.

So, we rented movies whenever we could.

As I may have mentioned before, Jumbo Video had a horror castle – which was a room full of more horror films than anyone ever knew existed – and we always spent a lot of time wandering around inside of it. If we had rented a movie every day it would have still taken us years to see all of these obscure gems. And there were new ones being added all the time. Put simply, this castle was a horror junkie’s paradise.

VHS box for Christmas Evil (1980)I remember a little mini section of Christmas horror films on one of the shelves. This was before I had seen any of them, and my friends and I wold look at the boxes and laugh. Yes, we would laugh at the idea of Christmas being the subject of a scary movie. Halloween made sense to us. Friday the 13th made sense to us. Even Prom Night made sense, as we were all a little bit afraid of school dances. But titles like Christmas Evil (1980), Black Christmas (1974), and Don’t Open Till Christmas (1984) just seemed a little silly to us.

We knew about Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), and how it had been pulled from the theatres due to some moral outrage – but we had not seen the movie yet. We could, however, see its influence as there were similar titles on the shelf, like Silent Night, Evil Night (which it turns out was a retitling of Black Christmas), and Silent Night, Bloody Night – which it turns out was made twelve years before the notorious Santa Claus slasher film.

VHS box for Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)I eventually saw Silent Night, Deadly Night and I liked it. Then I saw Black Christmas (1974) and loved it. After that I watched every Christmas related horror film that I could get my hands on. This led me to eventually, pick up an old beat up VHS copy of Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) and I thought it was pretty good. It had Mary Woronov in it, who I knew from Eating Raoul (1982) and a few other films.

Honestly, I think I found Silent Night, Bloody Night a tad confusing the first time I saw it. It probably didn’t help that it was a bad film print which had been cropped and transferred to a cheapo VHS tape (which had likely been somewhat abused before I bought it). The image was dark and fuzzy, and the sound was slightly muffled. Still, there was something I liked about the movie, so I kept it in my collection.

It grew on me over the years, as I watched it a few more times. Then I picked up a nice widescreen DVD that was almost in good shape – and it was like a whole new movie to me. I felt like I appreciated it more than I ever had before. Maybe I had simply finally seen it enough times, or maybe that widescreen image made all the difference. Whatever the case, I can now honestly say that I love this movie. And watching it last friday – on Christmas Eve – really confirmed that for me.

Don’t get me wrong. Black Christmas (1974) is still the greatest Xmas horror film of all time, in my opinion. And Christmas Evil (1980) is also very special to me – but that’s another story.

Silent Night, Bloody Night actually has some things in common with Black Christmas (1974). It’s kind of a proto-slasher film. I have to wonder if the filmmakers were influenced by some of the great giallos that had come before it. It has a great location/setting (the mansion that used to be a mental institution). It has some really great horror atmosphere, as only the movies of the early 1970s seem to have. It has suspense, and a sense of dread. And it has John Carradine instead of John Saxon – both genre legends whose films run the gamut from masterpieces to trash. 

Other interesting facts:

Mary Woronov was one of Andy Warhol’s superstars – and there are at least two others in Silent Night, Bloody Night: Ondine & Candy Darling. Woronov was also apparently married to the director, Theodore Gershuny, at one time. 

Lloyd Kaufman, legendary filmmaker and co-founder of Troma, was an associate producer of Silent Night, Bloody Night – or Ass Prod as I once called him on Twitter, to which he responded: “yes I was “ass producer!”… I still an “Ass Producer” check out @Return2NukeEm vol1″ – but I digress.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) is #NotQuiteClassicCinema that could bring the merry good times to any #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn – particularly one that falls on or around Xmas Eve. I know that I will continue to enjoy it for many years to come.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Plot of Fear (1976)

Poster art for Plot of Fear (1976) #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn……………… Plot of Fear Plot of Fear Plot of Fear Plot of Plot of Fear (1976) by #PaoloCavara

w/ #CorinneCléry #MichelePlacido #TomSkerritt #EliWallach

A group of wealthy men and women get murdered one by one at a decadent weekend party full of orgies and drugs on the outskirts of Milan.

#Giallo #Mystery
#NotQuiteClassicCinema

I had never heard of Plot of Fear (1976) prior to picking up a copy on DVD sometime earlier this year. It was on sale and, looking at the box, I found it irresistible. The description on the back begins “Plot of Fear tells the story of a group of wealthy men and women who get murdered one by one at a decadent weekend party…”. Well, say no more – I’m sold.

It turns out that this description is a little wrong. The men and women are not murdered AT the party. They are murdered sometime AFTER the party – and we don’t even know about the party at first. It’s the thing that ties them all together and provides a motive for the murders.

Plot of Fear is a giallo. I’ve talked about the genre before, and how it has become one of my favourites. This one, starring Corinne Cléry from The Story of O (1975) and Moonraker (1979), features a heavy dose of sleaze including hookers, S&M, and the promised “decadent weekend party”. 

The film even includes a pornographic cartoon made by Gibba, who was an Italian animator (full name Francesco Maurizio Guido) who did several erotic animated films in the 1970s and 1980s.

Tom Skerritt appears in Plot of Fear as a Chief Inspector of the police. I thought for a minute that he was only going to make a brief cameo in one scene, but his appearances are actually peppered throughout the entire movie.

Eli Wallach also appears as Peter Struwwel, a private detective with some questionable techniques and morals – and his character is even more prominent than Skerritt’s.

 is the real hero of the movie. He has 130 credits on the IMDb, and may be recognizable from movies such as The Pyjama Girl Case (1977), Kleinhoff Hotel (1977), The Sicilian Connection (1985). and Big Business (1988) with Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin. In Plot of Fear, Pladico plays a police detective trying to solve a series of bizarre murders (as could only be found in a giallo – or maybe a slasher film). 

Plot of Fear is probably not the greatest giallo ever made, but it’s pretty darn entertaining – especially for those who appreciate a higher than average sleaze factor. It manages to keep you guessing as to what the hell is going on – and who is behind the murders. And it is certainly no carbon copy of every other giallo that came before it.

The director, Paolo Cavara, is probably best known for making Mondo Cane (1962) and other pseudo-documentaries that expose strange behaviour from around the world, like Women of the World (1963), Malamondo (1964) and  L’occhio selvaggio (1967). Plot of Fear is a drama that exposes the strange and shocking behaviours of a group of rich elite people in Milan, so it’s kind of like Mondo film in a way. 

Plot of Fear (1976) is #NotQuiteClassicCinema that should appeal to fans of unusual giallos and other Italian exploitation films. It could certainly add a little spice to any cinematic line-up that seems a little too chaste for a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Virgin Terror (1978)

It’s time for #TrashOrTerrorTuesday

…when I examine a film that’s been languishing in my personal library to determine if it is #Trash or #Terror

– or more importantly, if it deserves to stay in my collection.

And so, out from the dusty shelves of #VHS tapes comes…

VHS box for Virgin Terror (1978)Virgin Terror (1978) by #AlbertoNegrin

AKA Enigma rosso or Red Rings of Fear

w/ #FabioTesti #ChristineKaufmann

A detective investigating the murder of a teenage girl begins to focus his suspicions on the three girlfriends of the victim, who call themselves “The Inseparables.”

“Sweet sixteen … they’ll lose more than just their lives.”

#Horror #Giallo #TrashOrTerrorTuesday

 

Confession: I knew that I liked this movie before putting it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test. I even wrote about it briefly in a post about giallos a while back. However, it’s a VHS tape that I frequently notice on my shelf but haven’t watched in a long time. So, I figured it was time to refresh my memory…

Virgin Terror (1978) is a giallo, and it reminds me of other gialllos like What Have You Done to Solange? (1972) and Who Saw Her Die? (1972). It’s probably not quite as good as those two, but it’s still a worthy entry into the genre.

I won’t summarize the plot, as I feel that it’s best to go in not knowing very much at all. But if you’ve seen other giallos, like the ones I mentioned, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into.

So, what’s the verdict?

Virgin Terror delivers the goods in terms of violence and sleaze, so I would have to say that it is both Trash and Terror. I would say it’s a moderate to seriously valuable treasure, in fact. I am operating a slight disadvantage, however, because it turns out that my VHS copy is an edited version of the film. It’s about five minutes shorter than the uncut version – which I have never seen. So, I am partly guessing that there is more sleaze, more violence, and more gore that what I got to see. I enjoyed it well enough as it is, but I’m assuming that it would be even better uncut. So…

My VHS tape might looking a little more like trash to me now. I may have to upgrade to a better copy of this film at some point. But for now, it’s a keeper.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Suspicious Death of a Minor (1975)

I’ve touched on this before, but back in the early days of renting VHS and Beta tapes, you didn’t always get what you expected. Movies were retitled and given box cover art that was extremely misleading. One of the most common tricks was to make you think that a movie was brand new when it fact it was from ten or fifteen years earlier. This was not an entirely new trick. Movies were often distributed to drive-ins under new titles in the hopes that they would do better business than the first time they went out. Sometimes it wasn’t a question of the age of a movie, but rather the subject matter. A dull story with no violence or nudity could be retitled to sound like it was going to be the next Chained Heat (1983).

I used to tell people that Grace Jones was my favourite actress (if you’ve read my ode to her movie Vamp (1986), you will know what I’m talking about). So, when I found a VHS copy of something called Deadly Vengeance (1981) – starring Grace Jones – on the shelf of Star Time Foto Video – I told my friends we had to rent it. It was an oversized box mostly covered by a picture of Grace Jones’ face. “They Killed her lover. Now she wants revenge.” What could be better than that? We excitedly took it home and popped it into the VCR.

First of all, the movie appeared to be considerably older than the stated release date of 1981 (home drive-in crime #1). Secondly, Grace Jones was not playing the woman whose lover was killed – and more importantly, she was not playing the woman seeking “Deadly Vengeance” (home drive-in crime #2). Sadly, this was all too common in those early days of home video. If a famous actor (or not so famous actor, but maybe someone you might have heard of in passing once or twice) appeared in a movie for more than one second, sleazy distributors would paste his or her image and name all over the box cover. Sometimes the actor actually had a big part, but the film was made 20 years before they were famous and they looked completely different. No problem, the distributors would simply put a more recent and recognizable photo of the actor on the cover.

In the case of Deadly Vengeance, Grace Jones was very young, and did not have her iconic ’80s look. She was almost unrecognizable to us, and her part was very small. She played the girlfriend of the main bad guy. But as I recall it, we only saw her in one or two brief scenes. Maybe I’m wrong about that. But according to one internet source, Grace’s part was INCREASED for this 1981 release. Increased? How small could it have originally been? The same source claims that Deadly Vengeance is a re-edited combination of two much older films: Dirty Tricks (1972) and Sweet Vengeance [1970]. Those older films were apparently X-rated, whereas Deadly Vengeance was rated R. I do seem to recall extended (soft core) sex scenes in it, so it’s not hard to imagine that there could have been a more explicit version (or versions). Just for the record, Grace Jones is not listed as being in either of those earlier films, so I guess her part was INCREASED, as in ADDED to this version. Not sure what the real story is, but needless to say, the Grace Jones fan in me was not too thrilled by this movie rental experience (extreme sleaziness notwithstanding).

A while back, I wrote about how I originally discovered giallo movies – and it was basically a result of this kind of home video false advertising. The movies were packaged like 1980s slasher films, when it fact they were 1960s or ’70s giallos. As it turned out, I was very pleased to discover those films, and giallos have become one of very favourite things to screen at the home drive-in.

Last week I decided to watch a giallo that I had never seen before, The Suspicious Death of a Minor (1975). It was directed by Sergio Martino, who made many excellent movies, including some top notch giallos like All the Colours of the Dark (1972), Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) and Torso (1973). I was quite surprised to discover that The Suspicious Death of a Minor, despite its very giallo-esque title and poster art, is not really a giallo. It does have some moments that are very giallo-like, and the opening sequence seems to fit that description, but the movie quickly turns into more of a poliziotteschi, or Italian crime film. More surprising than that, the movie takes on a tone that is quite comical – almost slapstick comedy at times. But perhaps the most amazing thing of all, is that it really works.

The Suspicious Death of a Minor is a very entertaining movie. Claudio Cassinelli gives an amazing performance as our hero, Paolo Germi. We don’t know this at first (and perhaps this is a mild SPOILER), but Germi is a police officer as unorthodox as Dirty Harry, only much more comical. There were several scenes that had me laughing at loud as I watched Germi’s way of dealing with obstacles and enemies. In spite of the humorous tone, the movie also manages to deliver some legitimately suspenseful and even scary moments. It may not be a horror film like Torso, but I did not feel cheated by the almost bait and switch style plot maneuverings that take us from giallo to poliziotteschi, to slapstick comedy. A lot of directors would have fallen on their face attempting such a mash-up, but Martino somehow pulled it off, and I am glad that he did. 

The Suspicious Death of a Minor (1975) was not at all what I expected, but it managed to deliver a wildly entertaining #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn. It is a unique example of #NotQuiteClassicCinema that doesn’t quite fit into any of the usual categories, but somehow feels completely right. You can rest assured that I will be screening it again in the not too distant future.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Death Smiles on a Murderer (1973)

Back in May of 2020, I wrote about my first cinematic encounters with Klaus Kinski. I may or may not have said it then, but whenever I see Klaus Kinski’a name in the credits of a movie, it is always an added incentive for me to watch it. I don’t think I have ever made mention of Ewa Aulin. In fact, I don’t recall ever having heard or seen the name Ewa Aulin prior to watching Death Smiles on a Murderer (1973) last #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn. This may not quite be true, as I have seen at least one of her other performances. She only has eighteen listed on the IMDb, but one of the titles sticks out like no other: Candy (1968).

I have not seen Candy, but I am very familiar with it. This is mainly because I read the book by Terry Southern (and Mason Hoffenberg). Don’t ask me why, as I had never heard of it or Terry Southern at the time. I think I picked up five paperbacks for dollar in some used bookstore and Candy was one of them. It was amusing, but I can’t say that I particularly loved it.

Then a few years later I saw VHS Collector’s Editions of the movie version of Candy and I was surprised that it even existed. I was tempted to buy it, as I have always been a sucker for nice looking Collector’s Editions of movies – even ones that I had never heard of…

I didn’t buy it, because I recalled not loving the book, and most often when people see movie adaptations of books they say “The book was better.” So if the book was better than this movie, I didn’t think I needed to see it.

A few years later, I met a nice old lady in New York who told me that a relative of hers had once produced a terrible movie that had embarrassed his whole family – and it was called Candy. I told her that I knew about Candy and she was amazed.

“I haven’t seen it,” I told her.

“Don’t” she said.

But this is really another story. My point is that I probably saw the name Ewa Aulin on the nice VHS box of Candy, but if I did, I don’t remember.

Incidentally, Terry Southern was a successful writer who, among other things, co-wrote Easy Rider (1969) with Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda (which is a favourite of mine) and The Cincinnati Kid (1965) which is a very good movie. So, he was clearly a good writer. And I don’t mean to suggest that Candy was a bad book. It was very popular and I’m sure some people loved it. Somehow it just didn’t speak to me.

Oddly enough, many years later I was writing a play for a major Canadian theatre, and they put me together with a dramaturge who they thought could help me “shape my play into something that would work in their theatre”. The dramaturge read my latest draft and said:

“This seems to be a picaresque story.”

“A what?” I said.

He went on to explain, in his own words, what that was. I can’t recall exactly what he said, but Dictionary.com defines it as “an episodic style of fiction dealing with the adventures of a rough and dishonest but appealing hero.”

This did describe my play quite well, actually.

The dramaturge went on to mention that the French novel Candide by Voltaire, was an example. As he talked about the book, it slowly dawned on me that Candy was a version of Candide.

I’ll be damned, I thought. Maybe there was more to that book than I had realized. Maybe I needed to read it again…

I never have. But I do want to see the movie – especially now that I’ve seen Ewa Aulin in Death Smiles on a Murderer

Death Smiles on a Murderer was directed by Joe D’Amato, who had primarily been a director of photography early in his career. He started directing movies under assumed names, because he didn’t want to jeopardize his reputation as a cinematographer. He started with spaghetti westerns, then did some comedies – always under other names. The first horror film he made was Death Smiles on a Murderer – and he used his real name, Aristide Massaccesi! For some reason he continued to make horror films but under the name Joe D’Amato. D’Amato became known for gore films like Beyond the Darkness (1979) and Antropophagus (1980), as well as erotic films like Emanuelle in America (1977) and  Erotic Nights of the Living Dead (1980), which obviously crossed over with horror.

In fact, D’Amato made over a hundred hard core erotic films as well. He has a total of 196 directing credits on the IMDb. Quite remarkable. I’ve seen a number of his films, but I’ve hardly scratched the surface of his total output. I was excited to finally get a chance to see his first horror film, Death Smiles on a Murderer last week, and it didn’t disappoint me.

I had been expecting it to be a giallo, and it does have some very giallo-like moments, but it is more of a gothic horror story at heart. It’s also got a very unpredictable plot, with a few unusual twists and turns. It’s hard to say exactly what it is, and yet somehow it works.

The atmosphere and the cinematography are top notch, and the film features several nods to Edgar Allan Poe, which are always welcome.

I don’t want to say too much more about it, because I believe it’s better to go in not knowing what to expect. If you’re a fan of Joe D’Amato, Klaus Kinski, horror films, giallos, Ewa Aulin, or movies that are hard to categorize, give this one a shot. It’s a certified #NotQuiteClassicCinema classic.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Double Face (1969)

I’m not sure when I first saw Klaus Kinski in a movie. It could well have been Jess Franco’s Count Dracula (1970). I saw several versions of Dracula on TV when I was young, and I’m sure that it would have been one of them. But my memories of that are, to say the least, hazy. I remember seeing the movie box of Jack the Ripper (1976), also by Jess Franco, every time I went to my local video store. It intrigued me, but somehow I didn’t rent it until I was an adult. I did take notice of the name Klaus Kinski, and the images of him on the box. I think I had already heard of him, through reviews of movies like Fitzcarraldo (1982) on Siskel & Ebert’s TV show. I also remember seeing the box for Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), which I think I had likewise seen reviewed by Siskel & Ebert. But much like Jack the Ripper, I did not see the movie itself until years later. 

For some reason, I distinctly remember seeing (part of?) a movie called Buddy Buddy (1981) on TV when it was first aired. My mom has always been a fan of Jack Lemmon (and Walter Matthau, I suppose), so she was watching the movie. I think I just wandered into the room at some point and got pulled into it. It was the story of a suicidal man (Jack Lemmon) who stumbles into a awkward friendship with a professional killer (Walter Matthau). Lemmon’s wife is leaving him for a crazy, cult-leader-like doctor named Zuckerbrot – played by Klaus Kinski. I really enjoyed this offbeat movie, and Klaus Kinski made an impression on me as the crazy doctor. 

Later, I rented movies like Schizoid (1980), in which Kinski plays a psychiatrist who may or may not be murdering his patients, and Crawlspace (1986), which presents Kinski as the demented son of a Nazi surgeon, who may be killing people in his apartment building. I was starting to recognize a possible pattern in Klaus Kinski’s performances…

I should also note that I saw him in movies like The Soldier (1982) and Creature (1985), which I rented in my junior high school days. I also saw him in Marquis de Sade’s Justine (1969) on late night TV. It is yet another film directed by Jess Franco, and Kinski plays the titular Marquis (a role that seems to fit nicely with the mad doctor type characters I had come to expect from him). 

David Schmoeller, the director of Crawlspace, made a short (9 minute) film about the making of that movie called Please Kill Mr. Kinski (1999). It’s quite an amazing personal account of what it was like to work with Klaus Kinski – and somehow also fits perfectly with the kind of characters Kinski would create on screen. If you have not seen it, seek it out and give it a shot.

Double Face (1969) is a movie that I had never even heard of, prior to finding the (relatively) brand new Blu-ray from Arrow Video. I have always enjoyed Klaus Kinski’s performances – plus this movie had the look of a giallo, which is always a good sign to me – so I decided to take a chance on it. 

It’s not a hard core giallo, as it lacks many of the typical tropes of that genre. It’s almost more like a classic film noir, or crime story. I’m not terribly familiar with the krimi genre, but as Double Face is a German co-production (with Italy) it may well be an example of that. It should perhaps be noted that Lucio Fulci is one of the credited writers on this film, and he made a couple of my favourite giallos: Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972) and A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971). Perhaps if he had directed Double Face, it would have been more giallo-like. 

In any case, I enjoyed Double Face quite a bit. I’m just as big a fan of old fashioned film noir as I am of giallos, so it’s no problem if this film falls a little more on the noir-ish side of the spectrum. Klaus Kinski is great in this film, but he is not playing a crazy mad doctor. In fact, he is much more the leading man hero type (although slightly on edge due to circumstances). He is perfect as the (relatively) normal man caught up in extraordinary and mysterious circumstances. His sanity will be called into question before the movie is done, and you may find yourself wondering (as is so often the case in a Klaus Kinski film) if he is in fact a murderer.

The music, the production design, the atmosphere of swinging London in 1969 are all reasons to enjoy this movie – at least they were for me. I am very pleased to add it to my #NotQuiteClassicCinema library. And I find myself wondering what other obscure films starring Klaus Kinski I shall one day discover on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Friday night at the home drive-in: The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail (1971)

While working on this blog post, I kept being warned that I was running an old version of PHP (?) and that I needed to update it. When I looked into how to do this, I was advised that I should make sure that everything (my themes, my plugins, etc.) were all updated so they were less likely to break down when I upgrade the PHP. So, I went ahead and updated all of the things that claimed to need an update.

The administrative dashboard of my blog disappeared. As one person put it, I was left staring at a “white screen of death.” Something had clearly gone wrong, but I couldn’t do anything about it because I couldn’t access my dashboard.

To make a long story short, I had to remove all of my plugins (from the safe distance of the root folders on my hosting site) to get my dashboard back. I was able to restore most of the plugins, but some of them had to be trashed as they would no longer play nicely with my blog. You may notice that my share buttons look a little different now.

So, I was finally able to get back to the business at hand, which was to continue writing this week’s Friday night at the home drive-on post. But when I opened it up, things looked very different. I had started the post a few days ago, but now I couldn’t see the embedded tweet at the top of the screen. All it was showing me was the link to the tweet. I tried looking in Preview mode but it still only showed me the link.

I should also mention that when I first opened the editor I was welcomed to “blocks”. It seemed like a whole new way of constructing a blog post. Every paragraph is inside it’s own “block”. The link to my tweet is also inside a block. Maybe this is the problem? Or maybe there’s something else going on. Hopefully I will be able to resolve it. But just in case things looks wind up looking a little wonky, now you’ll know why.

The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail (1971) is an entertaining giallo that I have never seen before. But as I said in a previous post, I’ve made it a mission to seek out and watch giallos ever since first discovering them in the haunted castle of an old video store of my youth. This one was made by Sergio Martino, the prolific Italian director of such cinematic delights as  All the Colors of the Dark (1972), Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972), & Torso (1972) – boy that was a good year for Sergio, wasn’t it? Later, he made the revered spaghetti western A Man Called Blade (1977) and the sleazy jungle adventure Slave of the Cannibal God (1978). Let’s face it, the man has an oeuvre to admire.

Is The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail his best movie? Probably not. But it’s a good, solid giallo that keeps you guessing and has a fair amount of sleazy eye candy on display. Interestingly, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail is an earlier film (1971) than the other ones I mentioned. Perhaps Martino was merely ramping up to do his some of his best work the very next year. Or perhaps he’d already done it with The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971). Maybe the next time I watch The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, I will declare it to be my personal favourite, and the best of the bunch. You never know with #NotQuiteClassicCinema – some of it creeps up on you like a giant carpet monster from outer space. You don’t realize how great it is until it’s rolled right over you – several times. 

P.S. — I had to use a screenshot of my tweet at the top of this post. Still can’t get the embedding to work. I guess that’s progress…

Friday night at the home drive-in: Watch Me When I Kill (1977)

I have always been a fan of horror films, and slasher films in particular. I saw movies like Halloween (1978) and Terror Train (1980) when they first appeared on TV, and they made a strong impression. But it wasn’t every day that respectable TV stations would show movies like that. And I was too young to get in to see most of them in the theatre. Home video was a life-changer for a kid like me. Not only did stores like Jumbo Video have a Horror Castle (which was a room filled with hundreds of horror films on VHS and Beta), the clerks who worked in those stores never stopped me or my friends from renting R-rated movies when we were 12 or 13. Continue reading