#253 Planet of the Vampires/Terrore nello spazio

Watched: January 15 2020

Director: Mario Bava

Starring: Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell, Ángel Aranda, Evi Marandi, Stelio Candelli, Franco Andrei, Fernando Villena

Year: 1965

Runtime: 1h 28min

planet

Source

Back to civilization after winter break, we dive into the magical and stylish world of Mario Bava with Planet of the Vampires (pronounced vampyres, like Andrew’s documentary in the Buffy episode “Storyteller“. At least in our minds).

planet5
Unfortunately, despite a good start, the female heroes in this this movie tend to scream, faint, and/or run away at the first sign of the undead. Buffy would not approve.

Source

Argos, a spaceship filled with beautiful people in fabulous leather outfits, approaches an unexplored planet together with its sister ship Galliott. Both ships are sucked into the planet’s atmosphere and go in for a rough landing, and then the crew members try to kill each other once they wake up from the crash.

planet1
“I’m sure glad someone designed these high necked and traditionally vampire proof outfits for our space journey. Their reliance on perfect peripheral vision is exactly what has gone wrong with earlier expeditions.”

Source

A knock on the head is enough to bring them back to themselves, and the Argonauts go out onto the new planet to see if they can find and rescue the crew of the Galliott. However, strange things start to happen – voices are heard, dead and living bodies both disappear, and massive skeletons are discovered. What is going on?

planet2
“I wonder how these giants died…” “Isn’t it obvious? No high necked, sexy leather outfits anywhere! It was only a matter of time before they perished.”

Source

Bava always hits the spot for us, although we have never seen this particular movie before. The costumes are amazing, the concept is great (and clearly an influence on later works in the genre), the sets are awesome and there are some very cool shots and visual effects.

planet3
The planet looks eerie and fantastic

Source

It’s a fun and slightly campy sci-fi-space-adventure which will make you develop trust issues on par with The Thing (1982). Loved it!

planet4
“Plastic is not good for the ENVIRONMEEEENT!!!”

Source

What we learned: We’re so cosplaying this later. Peripheral vision and ability to turn our heads be damned!

Next time: Repulsion (1965)

#252 For a Few Dollars More

Watched: December 26 2019

Director: Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè, Mario Brega, Luigi Pistilli, Aldo Sambrell, Klaus Kinski

Year: 1965

Runtime: 2h 12min

dollar

Source

The Man with No Name (Eastwood), a.k.a. Manco or Monco (so… The Man with Potentially Several Names then..?) is now a professional bounty killer, roaming the wild west looking for bad guys to kill. For money, obviously. He’s not a complete psycho. He is not alone in this noble pursuit though – The Man in Black (van Cleef), a.k.a. Colonel Douglas Mortimer is a formidable rival.

dollar1
“Let’s make a deal. Whoever kills the most bad guys gets to wear the poncho for a day!”

Source

Notorious criminal El Indio (Volontè) escapes from jail and reunites with his followers whom he preaches to about carpenters from a pulpit… Seems like an oddly familiar pastime. Manco/Monco/TMWPSN and Mortimer alpha off and then join forces to stop El Indio’s evil bank robbing plans.

dollar2
“My name is El Indio, and these are my ten discipl… eh, gang members.”

Source

The Man with No Name goes undercover in the gang, and then gets into hot water – quite literally as they ride to Agua Caliente, the unfriendliest town in the west.  But who will outwit whom? What is the significance of El Indio’s pocketwatch and his flashbacks? And who will eventually Über-Alpha the other Alphas and become the one Alpha to rule them all?

dollars clint
One can only guess…

Source

The sequel to A Fistful of Dollars, later followed by The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), For a Few Dollars More has everything you could possibly want in a western. Strong, silent men, lots of pregnant pauses and tense silences, a fantastic soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, saloons with easily distracted piano players (is there a union rule that they all have to stop every time a new person enters the room?), hat shooting duels, and lots of violence and horses. What’s not to love?

dollar3
Even The Man with No Name has upgraded from his mule to a proper horse. Well done, you!

Source

We loved Mortimer’s arrival in Tucumcari, Indio’s flashbacks and backstory, the soundtrack, all of Clint Eastwood, the twists and turns, and the tension. Can’t wait for the next one!

dollar4
“So, we’ll meet up again in 8765 hours for the sequel?” “Sure. Can I play a different character though?” “Well, we can certainly change our names for it if that helps.” “Dammit, I’m in!”

Source

What we learned: Keep your friends close and your frenemies closer. And would it kill you to call your frenemies once in a while..? They might be getting lonely you know.

Next time: Planet of the Vampires (1965)

#251 Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Watched: December 18 2019

Director: Russ Meyer

Starring: Tura Satana, Haji, Lori Williams, Sue Bernard, Dennis Busch, Stuart Lancaster, Paul Trinka, Ray Barlow

Year: 1965

Runtime: 1h 23min

faster

Source

Go-go dancers Varla (Satana), Billie (Williams) and Rosie (Haji) like it fast. Fast cars, fast men, fast living. While joyriding out in the desert, they run into young couple Tommy (Barlow) and Linda (Bernard). Varla challenges Tommy to a race, and afterwards kills him in a fight.

faster2
“Unfortunately for you, I am both a sore loser AND a sore winner! You never stood a chance.”

Source

After the murder of Tommy, the girls drug Linda and bring her along on their road trip. A chance encounter with and old man (Lancaster) and his son “The Vegetable” (Busch) at a gas station lead them to their farm where the three women plan to rob them and the other son Kirk (Trinka).

faster5
“A deltoid and a bicep, a hot groin and a tricep, makes me – Ooh! – shake!”

Source

The crippled old man is rumoured to have a hoard of money. Unfortunately, he also has misogynistic and murderous inclinations which he has passed on to his son. With feigned friendliness, Varla and the old man start a power struggle over lunch, both plotting each other’s demise.

faster6
Buns of Steel vs. Wheels of Steel. The Showdown

Source

This movie is glorious, campy fun. We absolutely loved the diversity and blurred gender roles – the women are as badass and as bad as the men! The plot is filled with twists and turns, the dialogue is amazing and the music is fantastic. Also, Linda’s bikini is totes adorbs.

faster3
“I really should be in a sweeter movie”

Source

In fact, we loved every boobyliscious and swinging go-go outfit the women wore. And we could watch angry, violent women fighting misogynistic, violent men all day every day. We’re simple that way.

faster4
“Yay! Sexy violence!”

Source

What we learned: Russ Meyer was definitely a boob man! Also, don’t mess with women.

Next time: For a Few Dollars More (1965)

#250 Darling

Watched: December 30 2019

Director: John Schlesinger

Starring: Julie Christie, Dirk Bogarde, Laurence Harvey, José Luis de Vilallonga, Roland Curram

Year: 1965

Runtime: 2h 08min

darling

Source

Diana Scott (Christie) is being interviewed for “Ideal Woman,” telling the story of her life. And what a life! From a “normal” life and a normal marriage, she becomes friends, and later lovers, with reporter Robert Gold (Bogarde). The two of them move through in the London art scene in the swinging sixties, partying and being adored.

darling1
“My career goals? Model, actress or princess. Yes, I’m a grown woman. Why do you ask..?”

Source

They both leave their spouses for each other and move in together. However, Diana becomes very jealous when Robert goes back to his ex to see his kids. In fact, she decides to have her own child, but changes her mind when it becomes a reality.

darling5
“You know what they say – bringing a baby into a troubled relationship always saves the day.”

Source

Diana, bored with Robert who likes to stay home and write, continues to seduce and be seduced to further her own modelling and acting career. She moves up in the world one man at a time while not playing very well with other women at all, all of whom she sees as threats. But what does she really want from life?

darling3
“Oh, I’m just like any modern woman trying to have it all. Loving husband, a family. It’s just, I wish I had more time to seek out the dark forces and join their hellish crusade.”

Source

Darling is fascinating and engaging, and the contrast between Diana’s words and actions is very interesting to watch. The stories we tell ourselves and others are clearly just a version of the truth.

Darling2
“Did I leave the iron on..?”

Source

We loved the clothes, the decadence and hypocrisy, the out and proud gay people, and all the fake books hiding vices throughout the movie. Julie Christie and Dirk Bogarde are wonderful as Diana and Robert, with both good and bad qualities.

darling6
“Just think of all the ways we could eventually hurt and devastate each other!”

Source

Thematically, there are parallels to Bitter Harvest, but Diana is treated much better than Jennie. Jennie is pretty much a victim, while Diana is the author of her own destiny – for better or worse.

darling4
“Bitch, I’m fabulous!”

Source

What we learned: If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?

Next time: Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

#249 Bunny Lake is Missing

Watched: December 30 2019

Director: Otto Preminger

Starring: Carol Lynley, Laurence Olivier, Keir Dullea, Martita Hunt, Noël Coward

Year: 1965

Runtime: 1h 47min

bunny

Source

When Ann Lake (Lynley) comes to pick up 4 year old Bunny from preschool, the child is nowhere to be found. Not only that – she has not been seen by anyone the entire day.

bunny2
“Hi! It’s my daughter’s first day of school in a new country! I couldn’t find anyone, so I left her to her own devices in an empty room. I’m sure someone will come find her eventually. If not, maybe you can check in on her at some point during the day, random stranger. Gotta dash! Ladida, mother of the year!”

Source

As she desperately starts searching for her girl, Ann finds that she has trouble convincing people that Bunny really exists. Apart from her brother Steven (Dullea), no one in England has ever seen the girl since they came over from the USA – not even the audience.

bunny3
“Darling sister – are you sure you remembered to take her with you when you moved..?”

Source

Even Bunny’s things have gone missing from their new house, and supercreepy landlord Horacio Wilson (Coward) cannot remember seeing them despite being very invasive while Ann was unpacking her toys and clothes. And now we are no longer sure there ever was a girl. But fear not! Superintendent Newhouse (Olivier) is on the case and determined to get to the bottom of the mystery!

bunny4
“And when she said her daughter was missing, what did you do then?” “Well, I tried to dick her, of course!” “Ah yes, naturally. “

Source

We loved this SO much! The characters are amazing and the mystery is very well done. Carol Lynley is wonderful as the increasingly frustrated and desperate Ann (while looking very much like a 1960s Keri Russell. Or the other way around, we suppose). Noël Coward is Creepy McCreeperson, Keir Dullea is slightly sinister, and Laurence Olivier’s Newhouse is likable from his very first appearance.

bunny6
“I’m a motherfucking legend!”

Source

AND HERE THERE MAY BE SPOILERS:

Trying to figure out who to believe and what is really going on was fun and kept us guessing (although our suspicions were eventually confirmed. Yay us!) Despite her slow start, Ann turned out to have agency and cunning – she was not just a damsel in distress!

Huty1913524
Even surrounded by eerie dolls, she puts to shame all those men who question her sanity. Take that, woman-not-being-believed-by-authorities-when-she-worries-about-her-child-trope!

Source

What we learned: Junket is junket. Also, trust no one.

Next time: Darling (1965)

#248 Zulu

Watched: November 17 2019

Director: Cy Endfield

Starring: Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson, James Booth, Michael Caine, Nigel Green, Patrick Magee, Mangosuthu Buthelezi

Year: 1964

Runtime: 2h 18min

Zulu

Source

The year is 1879. In South Africa, imperialism rules, but Zulus have attacked a white settlement and won, which inspires another tribe to do the same to a nearby mission/military hospital.

zulu
“Yippee ki yay motherfuckers!”

Source

At the mission, Lieutenants Chard (Baker) and Bromhead (Caine) must learn to work together and cooperate if they are to defend themselves from the 4000 advancing Zulus with their own measly 150 soldiers, many wounded.

zulu2
“You think you’re so cool, riding in here with your title and rank and stupid sexy hair…”

Source

Zulu is a famous epic depicting real events with surprisingly little racism considering the subject matter and the time. Sure, we do not really see the Zulus’ side of the story, and they are a nameless, faceless, personalityless mass for most of the movie. However, they are also intelligent, strategic, cultured and honorable, which makes the film a lot less dated than we’d expect.

zulu3
Basically, they are people. And treated as people. Which should be a given but sadly is not.

Source

The cinematography is gorgeous, the characters are great (Bromhead is a very shady queen!), and the suspense is real. Also, fun fact, the Zulu king Cetshwayo kaMpande is played by his real life grandson Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

zulu5
However, no fun fact can compare to the glorious moustache of Colour-Sergeant Nigel Green

Source

We loved the arrival of the Zulu, the British adherence to protocol even in a crisis (proper tunic etiquette is to be observed at all times!), the action, and the game we made up wherein we recast the movie using only Monty Python members (they all correspond perfectly with a character in the film!). And did we mention it is gorgeous? Well worth a watch!

zulu4
“We’re knights if the round table, we dance whene’er we’re able. We do routines and chorus scenes with footwork impeccable…”

Source

What we learned: Invade someone’s land and they might be a bit pissed off.

Next time: #249 Bunny Lake is Missing (1965)

#247 Topkapi

Watched: December 17 2019

Director: Jules Dassin

Starring: Melina Mercouri, Peter Ustinov, Maximilian Schell, Robert Morley, Jess Hahn, Gilles Ségal, Akim Tamiroff

Year: 1964

Runtime: 2h 0min

topkapi

Source

Elizabeth Lipp (Mercouri) has an obsession. Emeralds. And no emeralds are greater than the ones adorning the dagger of Sultan Mahmud I, currently on display at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. But how will she get her hands on it?

topkapi1.jpg
“No locks or security measures are a match for my intense stare.”

Source

To execute a heist, she recruits ex-boyfriend Walter Harper (Schell) who in turn enlists a motley crew of amateurs. There’s mechanical magician and toy maker Cedric Page (Morley), mute acrobat Giulio (Ségal), and muscle man Hans (Hahn). Together, they will switch out the dagger with a replica and get away before anyone knows a robbery has even taken place. Or so they plan.

topkapi2
Before any heist can be done, one needs to find one’s James Bond-looking ex to sort out the details.

Source

In order to get the weapons they need over the border from Greece, they pay small-time con man and designated “schmo” Arthur Simpson (Ustinov) to take a car across the border. However, when customs find the guns, the hapless Arthur is engaged as a spy for the Turkish government who fear an assassination is about to take place.

topkapi5
Few things scream “International Man of Mystery” like this guy

Source

Arthur successfully infiltrates the group and becomes an integral part of their plan. But will they succeed? Will Arthur betray them? Will their cook Gerven (Tamiroff) ever shake his alcoholism? These are the questions which will haunt you. Until you watch the excellent Topkapi, that is.

topkapi3
“Subtlety is my forte”

Source

This one had us hooked from the beginning. We loved the colourful, strange and magical opening and Elizabeth’s monologue to the camera. The kaleidoscopic filter added to the surreal feeling, and we were in for the ride!

topkapi4
Much like Arthur himself!

Source

The heist was very exciting, and we also loved the colours, the humour, the suspense, Gerven the drunken cook, the sunglasses-wearing Turkish agent-dude, and the homoerotic oily wrestling. Not to mention 1000-films favourite Peter Ustinov. The man won Oscars and a knighthood, and has even been quoted on Criminal Minds! Which is among the greatest honours a person can receive.

topkapi6
Pictured: his greatest achievement

Source

The only drawback was actually the person who promised to be the most intriguing – miss Elizabeth Lipp herself. Sure, the idea for the robbery was hers, and she opened the movie very strongly, but after recruiting her ex to plan the heist, she basically did nothing. Walter was the one to come up with the plan and get the others involved. Her role after the start was just to make out with all the men in turn and seduce a poor lighthouse keeper. And she had so much potential. Although she did redeem herself a bit in the end. All in all, another great heist movie from Jules Dassin.

topkapi7
This scene alone is worth the investment of two hours of your life

Source

What we learned: Plan meticulously, execute cleanly, don’t get caught before, during or after.

Next time: Zulu (1964)

#246 The Umbrellas of Cherbourg/Les parapluies de Cherbourg

Watched: November 11 2019

Director: Jacques Demy

Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo, Anne Vernon, Marc Michel, Ellen Farner, Mireille Perrey

Year: 1964

Runtime: 1h 31min

umbrellas of cherbourg - cinema quad movie poster (3).jpg

Source

Geneviève Emery (Deneuve) lives with her mother Mme Emery (Vernon) in Cherbourg, selling umbrellas. Not umbrellas, bags, shoes, and raincoats, or anything which might help them actually earn a living. Nope. Just umbrellas. We’ve never been to Cherbourg, but now our impression is that of a rainy town filled with forgetful and/or wasteful people.

umbrellas2
“Maman! Maman! I think I see a raincloud! If someone didn’t check the forecast before they left the house today we might actually eat something this week.”

Source

Not surprisingly, the mother-daughter-team struggle to make ends meet and Maman wants her daughter to marry rich. Specifically Roland (Michel), a character we remember from Lola, who has taken a fancy to the young umbrella salesgirl. Geneviève on the other hand is in love with mechanic Guy (Castelnuovo) and plans to marry him, money be damned!

umbrellas3
“Don’t worry about money, my love. The constant rain makes the roads very slippery, so my mechanics business is thriving!”

Source

Then, Guy is drafted into the army and sent off to fight in the Algerian War. A few months later, Geneviève confesses to her mother than she is pregnant. She is also worried about Guy who only answers her letters sporadically.

umbrellas5
“You did actually get something in the mail, but it’s possible all the wallpaper in this house has damaged your eyesight to the point that you cannot read simple letters”

 

Source

Roland (who may or may not have grown up a bit since the last movie where he famously made his unrequited feelings for Lola her problem instead of dealing with it on his own) is still willing to marry Geneviève despite her being pregnant by someone else. He offers security and comfort. So what should she do?

umbrellas6.jpg
Just try to blend in and wait for all this to blow over.

Source

Oh, and did we mention that all of this is conveyed to us through the medium of song? Because it is. Every single word in this movie is sung (not necessarily by the actors), and continuously accompanied by the wonderful score. Additionally, the photography and colours are so bright and vivid that you can’t help being sucked into the story.

umbrellas7
It’s enough to give you a toothache. But, like, a good one.

Source

We loved the colours, the music, the random interruptions by passers-by during Geneviève and Guy’s date, the wallpaper (we want ALL of it – we don’t care if it blinds us!), and drama queen Auntie Élise (Perrey).

umbrellas8
“As I keep saying, I’ll probably die soon. Most likely when you’re away. When that happens, be a dear and send all my capes to a couple of sisters in Trondheim, Norway.”

Source

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a sort of continuation of Lola (1961), and also connected to the upcoming The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967). It’s an intriguing universe filled with men befriending the mothers of young girls, and storylines that don’t always go where you expect them to. It is a universe we recommend you visit at some point.

umbrellas9
Gorgeous!

Source

What we learned: Use protection. Also, life doesn’t always turn out the way you planned. But it might be OK after all.

Next time: Topkapi (1964)

#245 The Pawnbroker

Watched: November 28 2019

Director: Sidney Lumet

Starring: Rod Steiger, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Brock Peters, Jaime Sánchez, Thelma Oliver

Year: 1964

Runtime: 1h 56min

pawn

Source

Ready for some holiday cheer? You’ve come to the wrong place. After watching this, we could certainly need some cheering.

pawn3
“Falalalala-lala fuck you”

Source

Sol Nazerman (Steiger) is a holocaust survivor (with a slightly unfortunate name) living in New York. There, he runs a pawnshop while dabbling in whitewashing money for local gangster Rodriguez (Brock). Other than the business, he’s just going through the motions after losing his family, his friends and his will to live in Auschwich.

pawn2
No, we’re not able to identify various concentration camps on sight, but we are aware of the not-so-fun-fact that Auschwich was the only camp to use prison number tattoos. And we wish we didn’t have to know this sort of thing.

Source

Sol’s only employee Jesus (Sánchez) looks up to his boss, but he is also ambitious and has some less-than-savoury contacts. So he’s a bad choice waiting to happen. Meanwhile, Sol has repressed his memories and emotions, and that always ends well. Basically, you’re sitting on tenterhooks for 116 minutes, ready for tragedy.

pawn4
Look, we realise that you have nothing left to give to your fellow man, but please be nice to poor old Mr Smith. We love him.

Source

Ok, while this didn’t exactly get us into the Christmas spirit, The Pawnbroker is a really good movie. Sol, while anti-social and detached, is an intriguing character and we can see why everyone who came into contact with him was drawn to him. Probably mainly due to Steiger’s excellent performance – he’s marvellous.

pawn5
“I know you want nothing to do with me or any other human being, but you’re hypnotic and magnetic and I’m dying to be your friend”

Source

We loved the jazzy soundtrack, the menace of the lawnmower pawners (whose names escapes us), the quick-cut flashbacks with scenes from the camp, Mr Smith, and the contrast of the two sex scenes. It’s heartbreaking and horrible, but oh so good. Watch it, and then take a page out of the book of Penelope Garcia and go stare at pictures of puppies for a good half hour. You’ll need it.

Snapchat-1802402961
Alternatively, enjoy this photo of our late, great doggo watching “The Last of Sheila” and trying to figure out who dunnit.

What we learned: Everyone has a breaking point. And pushing people away has consequences…

Next time: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

#244 The Naked Kiss

Watched: October 22 2019

Director: Samuel Fuller

Starring: Constance Towers, Anthony Eisley, Michael Dante, Betty Bronson, Virginia Grey, Patsy Kelly, Marie Devereaux

Year: 1964

Runtime: 1h 30min

naked

Source

Apologies for the long break – there have been some family stuff as well as day jobs which have required all our energy for a while. So our posts might be a tad sporadic for the time being, but we have not given up. Promise!

Kelly (Towers), a working girl, arrives in a new town. First off, she makes good (i.e. sleeps) with local law enforcement Griff (Eisley) who advises her to practise her profession in the neighbouring town, lest she destroy the reputation of this one. The men of this town only like to fuck harlots – not see them around when they go shopping!

naked4
“Sure I’ll sample the goods, but then you have to leave”

Source

But Kelly is traumatised by and tired of her days as a prostitute and wants a different life for herself. She is also smart, strong and resourceful. So when she sees that the town has a children’s hospital, she applies for a job and is hired on the spot. Not only hired – she is a huge success!

NAKED KISS, THE (1964)
“If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your fe… Oh…”

Source

Through her work and her new friends, she is introduced to Grant (Dante), the richest man in town, and the two fall hard for each other. However, Grant’s best friend Griff is not too impressed by his friend’s choice of romantic interest…

naked5
“I’ve done things. Things I’m not proud of.” “Like what? Wear white after Labour Day..?”

Source

From the jazzy opening scene onwards, we were thoroughly enthralled by The Naked Kiss. Melodramatic though it may be, it is also intensely watchable and engaging. It constantly goes off in unexpected directions and keeps you on your toes.

naked6
You’ll never guess who she’ll end up with in the end!

Source

We loved Miss Josephine, Mac, Kelly – basically all the women in this. We also loved the noiry feel of the movie, and the sense of doom and destruction we felt throughout. It’s shocking and pulpy in just the right ways, but it also has great performances, gorgeous cinematography, a musical number, and a bald prostitute beating a man with a frying pan. So if that doesn’t make it a must-watch, we don’t know what will.

naked2
“Honey, you know you wanna watch me kick some ass!”

Source

What we learned: Men are mostly assholes. But some of them eventually come through!

Next time: The Pawnbroker (1964)