First, I decided to watch Jack Hill's "Coffy". I caught up on a lot of Jack Hill this year, mostly his Filipino Women in Prison films, but again with Pam Grier. Seemed like a good Hill film to round off the year. The thing that makes these movies so great is getting to stare at Pam Grier who is a pillar of strength and a most bodacious babe. Seeing her blow the heads off drug peddlers with a shot gun is illuminating. She plays a nurse whose 11 year old sister has been hooked on heroin. Fed up with all the pushing going on in her town, she seeks out revenge by picking the gangsters off one by one. A lot of similarities to Foxy Brown. I'm not sure why, but I liked Coffy a little better. Just a personal preference. Maybe just because it's fresher on my mind, maybe it was the Roy Ayers score, or maybe the super saccharine psychedelic furniture, clothes and wallpaper (although as I recall, there was plenty of that in Foxy Brown too), but it was all good. Oh, also. Linda Haynes. I love her. She's so very lovely, appeared in a handful of exceptional cult movies in the 60's/70's (Rolling Thunder, Latitude Zero and my favorite, the Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones) and has just has great cadence and screen presence. She worked well opposite Pam Grier which is no easy feat. Grier is a whole lotta' woman.
Next up I watched what was truly one of the most revolting movies I've ever seen. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill. I've watched some grossies but having finally gotten around to the 1975 film "Criminally Insane" aka "Crazy Fat Ethel", I'm really reaching to think of something more disgusting at the moment. Ethel is an obese woman who lives with her Grandma and is undergoing shock treatment for her fits of rage. What causes these rages? Anything or anyone who comes in between her and her food. Food is a powerful tool in a film. Certain films revolving around food make me happy and hungry (Tampopo coming to mind). Food is kind of universal in the language of film and for that reason I love to see it used at a plot point. As comforting as it can be, it can also be extremely unappealing.
Once gluttony, fetishism and digestion is involved, this thing that gives us nourishment has been corrupted. I was less affected by the violence in Criminally Insane as Ethel's insatiable appetite. The fact that the two were related gave it a bigger impact. We constantly see Ethel cooking and eating huge amounts of food. Never having enough, KILLING people that interfere with her constant consumption. It's a really ugly subject, and considering I chose to watch it while I and had just sat down (not really knowing what it was about) with big plate of Christmas leftovers, it effected me even more so. I couldn't eat my food and in fact, I didn't eat again for the rest of the day. I've always prided myself in having an iron gut in regards to grotesqueries. You develop a tolerance when pizza and graphic horror movies are a reoccurring factor in your life. THIS MOVIE, set me off my food in a way few have. Some may consider it cheesy, but I thought it was genius. Elements of a John Waters movie directed by H.G. Lewis or Andy Milligan. I recently found out that it was remade this past year. I can't help but wonder what a modernized Crazy Fat Ethel would be like. The dvd also came with a sequel made in 1987, which I anticipate watching...on an empty stomach.
After this I tried to watch Lucio Fulci's Murder Rock from 1984, but I downloaded it and the copy was in Italian with no english subs. Which is weird, because this is like the third time I've tried to watch it and something has happened. The first time, I rented it from netflix and the disc was scratched, the second time I was at a friend's house and I got called into work within the first 20 minutes and now this. It's like I'm not meant to see this movie that I strongly suspect I will love. Dammit.
This poster is out of sight!
Moving on, I decided to stick with the Italian theme and go the Giallo route, although I didn't realize it at the time, the film I picked was actually French, derp. 2009's "Amer", a French tribute to giallo. I was a little daunted by this one. Someone, I can't even remember who, told me that it sucked. That comment mind-ninja'd me out of making the leap for a while. With Murder Rock being a busta-rooni, it just seemed like the next best thing. And it was! Very minimal dialogue so the story is more of a collage of visuals. There are maybe ten lines in the whole movie. The film is mostly about psychosis, but you don't really know that at first...so that's a spoiler, sorry. It unfolds in three acts, all revolving around a pretty girl in three stages of her life. The first, her as a little girl living in what seems to be a haunted house. The second part, her as a teenager going to town with her mother. There are a lot of hormonal sexual overtones in this entire sequence (the whole film really, but it really comes out in this scene). Then, her as an adult going back to the house she grew up in, the "haunted" house. The film takes some unexpected twists and turns all the while using beautiful lighting and cinematography which has been greatly influenced by giallo films. The music is spectacular as well. Stelvio Cipriani, Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai and they even threw in a pop song by Adriano Celantano. Nicely done. The ambiance is bewitching. Reminiscent of Suspiria and the work of Carmelo Bene. Tinges of Svankmajer's Alice in the that first sequence as well. It's worth a look if you're a fan of anything I've mentioned. Throw Backs are difficult to master. Take Argento's own film "Giallo" for instance. What a mess. This film on the other hand is a nice addition to your giallo collection and the best revivals of the genre I've yet to experience. I recommend it.
Despite my ambivalence toward the film, I dig the poster. I kind of want it.
Lastly in this quadruple feature, I decided to go back to Fulci and watch another I had on hand. Sodoma's Ghost. Yeeesh. I'd heard bad things but, I'd heard bad things about Amer too. I hear bad things about a lot of movies, especially ones I end up loving. So I watched it anyway. Ehh, not so good. It's about this group of teens who get lost and end up at house haunted by Nazi ghosts. It sounds cool and all, but there's a whole lot of nothin' going on. There's some extended footage of Nazi's partying (which Fulci re-used in Cat in the Brain), confused teens, and one good scene involving Russian Roulette and monster tits.
It was watchable, barely, but very watered down for Fulci. I can say without hesitation it's my least favorite of his. The end of the movie felt very Scooby-Doo. No real consequences or death. I'm sad to say, it was just generally weak. Oh well...
Next time I post it will be 2013! yay! I may even post my top 12 of 2012.
See you next year!