Tag Archives: 1981

Knightriders (1981)

Director: George A Romero

Starring: Ed Harris, Tom Savini, Patricia Tallman, Stephen King, Christine Forrest, Gary Lahti, Warner Shook . USA . 2h 25m

While Romero is well known for his ground-breaking horror movies, it is his change of pace movies like Monkey Shines (1988) or Knightriders that really spark the imagination and allowed him some personal exploration, this drama about a travelling renaissance fair troupe is not only deeply personal for him and it’s cult followers but a chance to express some of his moral code into an imaginative story.

Seemly inspired by age old tales from Medieval Europe and a man dealing with his own strict moral code, there’s an amazing battle between good and evil temptations in this action drama and it all starts with Billy (Harris), who leads a travelling troupe of motorcycle jousts. Billy styles himself according to King William’s ideals, and is constantly balancing these internally within the ruins of the modern world. His battle, financial pressures and the strains from the group becoming so popular start to fracture the group apart. Continue reading Knightriders (1981)

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Black Cat (1981)

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Director : Lucio Fulci
Starring: Patrick Magee, Mimsy Farmer, David Warbeck, Al Cliver. Italy.1h 32m

A giallo tribute to the brilliance of Edgar Allen Poe, but as Fulci was the king of gore it pulls away from the gothic nature of the original stories and lathers it in slasherific fun.  

In a small English village there is something macabre going on, a man notices a cat on the backseat of his car that appears to  hypnotise him which results in him crashing his car and his death, the car cheerfully scampers off home to the cottage is shares with Robert Miles (Patrick Magee), a retired; hateful professor who doubles up a psychic or medium and spends most of his time recording in at the tombs or graves of the recently deceased.  Meanwhile an American tourist Jill Travers (Mimsy Farmer) wanders into a tomb to take photos and finds a microphone, she’s eventually warned off b a local bobby Sergeant Wilson (Al Cliver). A young couple sneak into an airtight room in a boat house to make out, when a black cat appears suddenly the key goes missing and the two are seen dying from an unfortunate lack of oxygen. Continue reading Black Cat (1981)

Scanners (1981)

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Day 23 of 31

Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Jennifer O’Neill, Steven Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane, Michael Ironside. Canada. 1h 43m

For me early Cronenberg films shine very brightly with imagination and unique fleshy charm. He is certainly one of those directors who can sell a dark concept with a mysterious shroud that gives his audience layers of fear to think through, these concepts were never all that solid but are strong with so many possibilities.

From his early body shocker films like Shivers (1975) and Rabid (1977) he slowly evolved his work to include more science and the emphasis on social interactions gave way to internal chemistry, and in this thriller the mind is the central focus more than the whole body.scanners

Starting out strong, ConSec a private security firm attempts to showcase the abilities of one of their scanners,and boasts a fine tuned collection of mind powers including, telepathy such as mind reading, mind-control, and telekinesis. When the Scanner attempts to interact with a member of the audience, it turns out this individual is a much powerful scanner and the brain battle that ensues leads to one of the most brilliant head explosions ever, i assume Cronenberg couldn’t resist the flesh. The security staff attempt to capture the man but he uses his immense skills to kill the guards and escape. Continue reading Scanners (1981)

Howling (1981)

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Day 2 of 31

 

Director/Writer: Joe Dante
Novel: Gary Brandner.
Starring: Patrick Macnee, Dee Wallace, Robert Picardo, Christopher Stone, Dennis Dugan, Slim Pickens, Elizabeth Brooks, Don McLeod. USA. 1h 31m.

A long running all time favourite of mine that displays one of the more memorable transformation scenes in Werewolf Cinema, Howling was certainly a pleasant horror to fall for especially in a year that also saw the amazing cult classic, American Werewolf in London (1981) the stakes were high and this terror filled movie manages to conjure up a less messy but equally thrilling horror transformation in a unique tale.howling-transformation

Continue reading Howling (1981)

Outland (1981)

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Director/Writer: Peter Hyams
Starring: Sean Connery, Frances Sternhagen, Peter Boyle, James Sikking. UK. 1h 52m.

After leaving the James Bond franchise Sean Connery was finding his footing in a range of different style of films and with his great acting abilities and physical fitness he was the perfect candidate for this futuristic “Space Western”. Continue reading Outland (1981)

Chong po gong fu cheng – Dragon Fighter (1981)

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I found this epic in CEX for 50p but I do like these bargains as they do yield some amazing B movies, movies that are so bad they are good. and this one is actually ok.

Starting out strangely with a few guys getting violently abducted, one is even clothed lined and stolen as he tries to get help for his pregnant wife, despite her square cushioned shaped baby, he and a few others are chucked into a gold mine and expected to work (without training), the story unfolds quickly after this and it goes something like this..  some dude needs to pay up some cash but his only source of cash is his gold mine (woe be unto him), he’s worked out that if he steals some people to work in his mine he’ll be able to smelt enough gold in time but his prisoners keep trying to escape.. damned peasants. The overseers are total bastards and are constantly rounding people up and beating them. There is one respite as one of the team leaders and his daugher (with long pigtails and a wispy fringe.. no cliches here) do their best to make life a little easier, and secretly teaches a few of them kung fu as they are determined to escape. Continue reading Chong po gong fu cheng – Dragon Fighter (1981)

L’aldilà – The Beyond (1981)

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Day 13 of 31

L’aldilà – The Beyond  (AKA Seven Doors of Death) (Horror,  1981) (X) D: Lucio Fulci W: Dardana Sacchetti (story/screenplay)  C: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale, Antoine Saint-John. 1h 27m. Italy.

Synopsis : A young woman inherits an old hotel in Louisiana where after a series of supernatural “accidents”, she learns that the building was build over one of the entrances to hell.

TAGLINE : … and you shall live in darkness for all eternity.

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A profound blend of everything horror, iced with an amazing soundtrack, superb cinematography and detailed and painstakingly orchestrated special effects, including using drunks covered in sand as corpses, time paid for in alcohol (heck I’d do it for a bottle of vodka).

Taking inspiration from many old school horror sources, such as Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith the film that is heavily laced with the occult, also includes zombies, deadly spiders, haunted paintings, vanishing grimoires and a dog called Dickie.

The introduction is pretty awesome, the locals all decent upon a warlock Schweick who is renting room 36 in a lonely hotel, they distract him from his painting and nail him to the wall and continue to destroy him before he gets to open the gates of hell while voice the details of a chilling curse “You ungodly warlock! Because of you  this hotel and town will be cursed forever!. Cut to modern 1980s and Liza (Catriona MacColl) has inherited a hotel and despite her best efforts, help from her friend, two housekeepers Martha (Veronica Lazar)  and Arthur (Gianpaolo Saccarola) she strains to restore the hotel to it’s former glory but mysterious occurrences hold back the development and she is drawn slowly towards the horrors of room 36 and the curious book of Eibon. The films has a healthy pace with frequent grisly happenings throughout even if not directly attached to the main plot (and sometimes it seems to be done for the fun of it). But it just keeps serving up the gore.

TheBeyond (3)There is distinct style to this movie, it has the look and feel that you’d expect from a deep occult charged 70’s Italian horror, the beautiful and iconic Cinzia Monreale  who plays the blind and mysterious stranger Emily has perfect features like a Boris Vallejo femme fetal. Supposedly The Beyond is set in New Orleans was actually filmed there but finished in Rome, the genuine atmosphere  more than the dubbing is part of the charm. The strongest theme is the occult and forbidden knowledge, like an absinthe charged Dennis Wheatley novel, and has strong influences from Fulci’s hero Antonin Artaurd who’s unique approach to filing added an avant gaurd style to Fulci’s work.

Enhanced with cunning special effects and makeup to enhance the horrible deaths that really being the horror alive, supplied by a team (Penta Studio) who deserve a lot of praise and especially Germano Natali, who obviously crafted many meticulous props with great attention to detail. He delivered flesh eating spiders, acid melting heads, and his stereotypical eyeball gouging. There is an awesome scene with Dickie and a fragile neck that is ripped open in slow motion, and to top it all off there are a few zombies creeping around and a spooky as fuck red head child.

TheBeyond (4)One impressive aspect of The Beyond is the atmosphere that is created and is maintained right through. It’s also full of little quips of cool horror facets, some can been seen coming a mile off, others are pretty new but all enjoyable, one example is when a mortuary assistant positions a heart monitor onto a cadaver and leaves the room, then as you’d expect the monitor starts to beep… beep… beep! Oh no zombie! But then it’s off onto something entirely different, but it’s this technique that keeps the movie flowing and fresh.

It’s hard to comment on the script as there is the whole badly dubbed and roughly translated side to take into consideration, but it’s in the same vein as any other Italian to English translated horror epic, like House by the Cemetery (1981), Profound Rosso (1975) etc. A curious point is how many people actually attempt to put on a New Orleans accents, and that’s one, she works in a bar and was probably a local who had the accent anyway!

TheBeyond (4)Fabio Frizzi provides the title track for this multitalented horror epic, there is something demonic and majestic about this track called, L’Aldila, the entire soundtrack is well crafted with tones of mystery and esoteric goodies.

Catriona MacColl stand out in the lead role, giving a great all round performance, the stunning charismatic Cinzia Monreale looks perfect as the blind muse. A friendly companionship is found in David Warbeck as the dark haired, strong doctor who’d character transforms into a Fulchi James Bond. Gianpaolo Saccarola returns with a small part as a simple stalkerish porter, and Fulchi himself even turns up as the town clerk. I love how the maid Marta really doesn’t give a shit about anything until “Joe” turns up and she couldn’t wait for him to come over and to get him down in the basement to sort out her plumbing, sadly it’s not as dirty as it sounds and not the start of some retro porn scene, in fact there are no boobies to see here.

TheBeyond (7)As much as I don’t want to come across as a fan girl here. Fulchi is one of my all time favourite directors and this is one of my all time favourite films, for me it’s really his crowning glory. Definitely a accomplishment on many scales and dare I say it.. Perfect. There is clear evidence of exploration of the occult within the film, boundaries are pushed to include some fascinating horror effects (yet again back to the melting head) and these scenes are so detailed that they are closely focused in on and are quite lengthy scenes. Usually when the effects can’t be afforded they are flashed over and soon forgotten but you can clearly see how much work went into them as they are stressed over and make up a healthy part of the movie.

TheBeyond (10)While a lot of other movies of the era deal with each of these horror aspects individually, not only does The Beyond cook them all together without the distraction of jubblies, through it’s masterful story telling an elaborate story is laid down.

V: I can’t really sum up just how much this movie thrills me each and every time I watch it, I’ve got several copies and one amazing t-shirt from Rabbit in Red  I’m looking into getting a few more because I just can’t get enough. There really is something that conjurers up lots of amazing ideas and this film has influenced me for some time. It has some amazing quotes like “and you will face a sea of darkness, and all therein that may be explored” along with superb music, ‘THAT’ painting and everything just moves me.

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Rating –  10/10

R: City of the living dead (1980), House by the Cemetery (1981)
5B : Lucio Fulci
L: My top 30 movies, Selected Horror Movies, 1981,
PD : Post Discussion to come

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American Werewolf in London (1981)

31dayshalloweenhorror2015

Day 11 of 31

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American Werewolf in London  (Horror, Comedy,  1981) (18) D: John Landis W: John Landis C: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Joe Belcher. 1h 37m. UK/USA.

Synopsis : Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

TAGLINE : John Landis – the director of Animal House bring you a different kind of animal.

An american werewolf in London is a superb movie not just because of the witty script,  amazing effects and great acting but it’s also everything  that’s usually missed in all other werewolf movies. The inspiration seems to stem from three main sources, firstly the very old and traditional myth and legend of the werewolf in olde English folklore, secondly John Landis’s outlandish american amusing humor (try saying that three times in a row) and thirdly all the fears of problems that occur when an outsider meddles in local affairs. Continue reading American Werewolf in London (1981)

Hospital Massacre / AKA X-Ray (1981)

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Hospital Massacre AKA X-Ray  (Horror, Thriller,  1981) (15) D: Boaz Davidson W: Marc Behm (screenplay), Boaz Davidson (story)  C: Barbi Benton, Charles Lucia, Jon Van Ness, Jimmy Stathis.

Synopsis : While receiving a routine check-up, a beautiful woman is stalked by a maniac out to avenge a childhood Valentine’s Day humiliation.

TAGLINE : There’s no recovery at … Hospital Massacre Continue reading Hospital Massacre / AKA X-Ray (1981)

Thief (1981)

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Thief (Action, Crime Drama 1981) (18) D: Michael Mann:  W: Frank Homier (novel “The Home Invaders”): C: James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson, James Belushi, Robert Prosky, Dennis Farina 2h 2m. USA.

TAGLINE : Tonight, his take home pay is £410,000… tax free

Synopsis: Becoming close to his dream of leading a normal life, a professional safe cracker agrees to do a job for the mafia, who have other plans for him.

Though not a box office success, Thief certainly made a name for Michael Mann and brought him international acclaim and led to a series of dark stylish crime movies such as Manhunter (1986) the gangland epic LA Takeddown (1995) and the mob assassination thriller Colateral (2004).

Set in Chicago, mostly at night and in the rain Thief is easily described as a Neo-Noir masterpiece. Its hard-nosed protagonist Frank (Caan) is a freelance safe cracker, and head of a small gang including (James Belushi) this is one of Manns trademarks, setting up a group of 1-4 deadpan male protagonists who are experts in some profession. After spending a few years building up his reputation in the dealing of uncut diamonds and cover as a used car dealer, Franks need for human warmth over takes and he decides to get married to another loaner like himself Jessie (Tuesday Weld) and to start a family, this leads to one of the most unromantic but impressive chat up and marriage proposals in cinematic history.   Franks primary ambition is to leave the trade and settle down, but this involves doing one last job for the mafia. At every attempt to leave the sleazy underworld he’s forced back into it, even getting his newly adopted kid from the black market with his mobster ties.

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The hi tech heists are preformed to the pounding, driven music of German electronic group Tangerine Dream who Mann uses in numerous future films, similar to Greenaway and Nyman, the atmosphere and harmony are outstanding. Franks unrelenting dry humour and harsh personality clashes with everyone around him and makes him the driving force for everything around him. That spark and catalyst couldn’t have been produced by any other actor, even Caan himself claims that is some of his best work and Mann was sure to give him a lot of freedom with this character, as we possibly seeing James Caan as himself on screen?

A ground breaking starting point for so many stylised movies from a great director, teamed with a resounding soundtrack the results are shocking and sharp. This film started a new wave dirty crime movies, and anti hero’s that warm our hearts despite their hard natures. A total triumph all round.

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Rating : 10/10

R: Manhunter (1986) , LA Takedown (1989), Carlitos Way (1993). Layer Cake (2004), Drive (2011)

 

Q: FrankNobody like older kids, You got an eight-year old black chink kid, we’ll take him.
TIL: You never get out of the business alive
BS: Opening credits deserve a mention, pounding tangerine dream soundtrack and amazing visuals of a safe cracking job, simply magic.
I also adore the scene where Frank (Caan) proposes to Jessie (Weld) in the most charming and unromantic way possible but it works!
OST: Tangerine Dream
L: Thief movies, Getting out of the business films, Favourite Mann movies, Musicians in films. Films that have been improved by Tangerine Dream OST
5B: Jame Cann, James Belushi, Michael Mann,Dennis Farina, Robert Prosky.
DGI: Knock a shot every time Caan insults someone?!