Film Review: The Visitor (1979)

Also known as: Stridulum (original Italian title) 
Release Date: March 22nd, 1979 (Italy)
Directed by: Giulio Paradisi (as Michael J. Paradise)
Written by: Giulio Paradisi, Ovidio G. Assonitis, Luciano Comici, Robert Mundi
Music by: Franco Micalizzi
Cast: Joanne Nail, Paige Conner, John Huston, Mel Ferrer, Glenn Ford, Lance Henriksen, Shelley Winters, Sam Peckinpah, Neal Boortz, Steve Somers, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (cameo, uncredited), Franco Nero (uncredited)

Brouwersgracht Investments, Film Ventures International, Swan American Film, 108 Minutes, 90 Minutes (edited version)

Review:

“Now listen to me Katy isn’t there something you want to tell me?” – Det. Jake Durham, “Yeah. Go fuck yourself!” – Katy Collins

I came across the trailer for this movie randomly on YouTube while looking for another film. The trailer grabbed me, however, and I was intrigued by it, even if the concept felt derivative. It was just so strange looking with insane visuals and it was an Italian horror picture that was shot and takes place in Atlanta, which is somewhat bizarre.

Also, this has one hell of a cast!

While some reviews I read said that this great cast was wasted in a shit picture, I couldn’t disagree with that more. But I guess, Italian horror movies only work for a special breed of American film aficionados, myself being one of them.

This doesn’t really have that ’70s giallo-styled color palate but it is still a vivid and vibrant looking picture in its own way. It looks and feels more American than a typical Italian horror production but that genuine Italian touch still exists in nearly every frame. It’s kind of hard to explain but giallo fans will know what I mean if they watch this.

For an Italian picture, the production is also really impressive, as this has a higher quality standard than what’s typical of similar films. The special effects are sometimes a bit hokey but it all works remarkably well and the film also doesn’t try to overdo it and keeps things fairly grounded, which doesn’t expose the production’s limitations.

Sure, some of the rooftop alien scenes are weird and total ’70s Euro horror cheese but then nearly everything else comes off looking like a low budget but well-produced American horror flick.

I thought that every actor in this brought their A-game and took this movie seriously enough to give it some actual gravitas and authenticity. Even the little girl, who had a lot on her shoulders in this film, did a fantastic job at being a sadistic, evil superchild.

This is just a damn cool movie that should definitely be on more people’s radar. Those who already love Italian horror of this era, should most likely love the hell out of this.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other ’70s horror movies about creepy kids with crazy powers.

Film Review: Eaten Alive (1976)

Also known as: Brutes and Savages, Slaughter Hotel, Death Trap, Horror Hotel, Horror Hotel Massacre, Legend of the Bayou, Murder on the Bayou, Starlight Slaughter, The Devil’s Swamp (alternative titles)
Release Date: October, 1976 (limited)
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Written by: Kim Henkel, Alvin L. Fast, Mardi Rustam
Music by: Wayne Bell, Tobe Hooper
Cast: Neville Brand, Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones, Marilyn Burns, William Finley, Roberta Collins, Robert Englund

Mars Productions Corporation, 91 Minutes

Review:

“Name’s Buck… and I’m rarin’ to fuck.” – Buck

A film that was directed by a young Tobe Hooper that features both Robert Englund and William Finley is enough to hook me. Now add in great TV legends Neville Brand and Carolyn Jones and you’ve got me hooked even further. Toss in Mel Ferrer, Marilyn Burns and Roberta Collins and this picture is now boasting some serious f’n talent!

But overall, this isn’t a classic and from a historical and cultural perspective, doesn’t hold a candle to Hooper’s previous film: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

However, this was still an awesome experience and even though I know that I had seen it in my youth, I barely remembered anything about it other than it taking place in a shitty bayou hotel where the owner chases people with his scythe until they fall into a pit where he keeps a large man eating crocodile.

But you don’t really need to know more than that. And frankly, that’s all the film needs to be. One doesn’t need to get bogged down by details and an elaborate story. This was ’70s horror. Just throw boobies and blood at the screen every few minutes and consider it a job well done. Granted, this could’ve used more boobage.

This is gritty and pretty brutal but not so much so that it’s a gore festival. But if you like watching people get slashed by a madman and then chomped by a large animal, this should satisfy.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: Tobe Hooper’s other earlier films: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Funhouse and Salem’s Lot.

Film Review: Scaramouche (1952)

Release Date: June 27th, 1952 (USA)
Directed by: George Sidney
Written by: Ronald Millar, George Froeschel
Based on: Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
Music by: Victor Young
Cast: Stewart Granger, Eleanor Parker, Janet Leigh, Mel Ferrer

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 115 Minutes

scaramoucheReview:

Scaramouche was a pretty well-renowned film in its day. However, it isn’t one that you hear a lot about anymore. When looking back on those old swashbuckling movies, people tend to remember those that starred Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power: two giant names in film history. Many don’t seem to remember Stewart Granger in his role as Andre Moreau, a sword-wielding French revolutionary that disguises himself as the clownish Scaramouche.

The film is based on Rafael Sabatini’s book of the same name. It was one of many Sabatini works that was adapted for film. Actually, it is the second Scaramouche picture, as there was a silent version released in 1923.

This is one of the top swashbuckling films of all-time. It is kind of cool that it flies under the radar, waiting to be discovered by those who are curious about the genre.

The film is beautiful, from the French countryside to the opulent interiors. The wardrobe is magnificent and the attention to detail was astounding. The final duel at the end, is one of the most visually pleasing sword fights I have ever seen on film. Not to mention that the fight choreography was some of the best, up to the point of this movie’s release.

Granger was great as Moreau and Mel Ferrer was equally enjoyable as the villain, Noel, Marquis de Maynes. The contrast in character between their personality, style and beliefs created a solid dichotomy that made their hatred for one another very believable. They were a great on-screen pair.

Eleanor Parker and Janet Leigh were both good as the female leads of the picture. The rest of the supporting cast also carried their weight.

It is unfortunate that good swashbuckling pictures like this aren’t made anymore. Sure, we have those Disney Pirates of the Caribbean films but they’re more over-the-top fantasy blockbusters that have more in common with modern summer movies than swashbucklers of old.

Scaramouche isn’t just a great movie, it is a reflection of a time when films like it could exist without computer generated bells and whistles. It is a much simpler film than the modern action-adventure outing, yet it is just as exciting.

Rating: 8/10