Monday 30 January 2012

Pieces (1982)

PIECES is one of those rare movies that really does live up to your expectations, not least because everything you have heard from anyone who has seen it is true. It is awful, it is hilarious, it is beyond belief. In fact the only truly unbelievable thing about it is that despite all the insults, accolades and scorn poured on it through the years it really is more than the sum of its parts (sorry). So if the following review of this quite insane picture suggests you might enjoy watching it then be assured that you won’t be disappointed.
‘You don’t have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre!’ screams the adline on the free poster I got with the DVD. And you obviously don’t have to be Ed Wood to make something as unintentionally funny and deliriously entertaining as PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE. The film opens in Boston in 1942. We know that because we’re told it by the opening caption, even though this appears to be a somewhat odd version of Boston where jigsaws of very 80s-looking nude ladies are freely available to children like the little boy we then see attempting to assemble said work of softcore naughtiness. Mum isn’t happy when she finds what he’s up to and her admonishment is all that’s needed to send junior over the edge. Grabbing a nearby axe he hacks his mother to pieces in a surprisingly graphic sequence which, if the rest of the film were remotely competent, would actually be genuinely disturbing. Two heavily moustachioed men looking like Spanish supply teachers roped in to be policemen at the annual school play turn up and turn in performances that can only be kindly described as ‘less than adequate’. 
And it’s time for the titles! Pausing only to note that the screenplay was co-written by the man who gave us FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY (about a three foot high James Bond-style superspy) and THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE (no I haven’t seen it but I suspect it’s one of those movies where you can pretty much guess the plot) we can settle down and prepare ourselves for something special.
And goodness me it is. Flash forward forty years and we are on the sort of unnamed American campus where students have sex in the university grounds while  Willard the psychotic gardener (Paul Smith doing his best Jack Elam impersonation by way of Tom Baker from Blackadder) looks on; that is when they’re not getting their heads chainsawed off in broad daylight.
‘The police think it’s an inside job’ says the dean’s secretary, sitting next to the biggest reddest typewriter I have ever seen. The police themselves see it somewhat differently and completely incomprehensibly “We’re just trying on clothes without labels and seeing if they fit” ‘explains’ one officer. Christopher George is in charge of the investigation and he’s even worse.  “I don’t want to wait for the coroner’s opinion” he says to the local anthropology professor (Jack Taylor - Euro horror regular and veteran, or some would say casualty, of hundreds of Jess Franco and Marius Lesoeur produced low budget atrocities),  as he regards the severed body parts of the killer’s latest victim, “I want yours. Could that have been done by a chainsaw like the one covered in blood lying just over there?” Professor Jack has obviously been in these sorts of films before and looks as if he’s considering everything carefully before venturing his opinion, but we know he’s actually wishing he was back at Eurocine rolling around with Lina Romay or Janine Raynaud in some softcore tat.
Suspicion falls for all of two seconds on Kendall James, the nominal hero and school lothario who wears awful check shirts and sky blue cardigans and has a spectacle-wearing best friend he rather unkindly refers to as ‘Goggles’. ‘Goggles’ wear exactly the same kind of clothes as his chum but in negative.
The police are baffled and so decide to do something even more stupid by placing ace tennis pro Mary Riggs ‘undercover’ despite the fact it’s made clear from the first scene that she’s well-known to the public. Meanwhile the killer is slowly completing more bits of that jigsaw we saw at the beginning. Quite often he has a bit of trouble getting the pieces to fit because of the black gloves he’s wearing. Then it’s onto his next actual victim, an aerobics student who finds herself in quite possibly the most hilarious scene of non-suspense ever filmed. She gets into a lift and is followed by our black gloved/coated/hated/masked villain hiding a full size chainsaw behind his back and she doesn’t notice until it’s too late.
Kendall’s fixing his motorbike when he hears her scream, and now so do we, because Kendall has swapped his cardigan for a turtleneck sweater and the kind of anorak Primark would be ashamed to stock. His success with the ladies must presumably lie with his eloquent skills of seduction. But no! A couple of scenes later we see him berating his latest conquest for her slightly vociferous orgasm. “What do you have to make such a big production for?” he says, which is certainly an accusation that can’t be levelled at the filmmakers. This is also the bit where sensitive viewers may have to turn away as Kendall’s full frontal nude scene is by far the most disturbing thing to grace the screen during the movie’s running time. 
Can it get any sillier? Mary is menaced by a professor of kung fu who promptly collapses because of ‘bad chop suey’ and more murders occur. In fact to give the films its due the special effects involved are really very good and within the context of a proper film would have been extremely effective. Unfortunately like a lot of movies from the early eighties the effects are fine, it’s just everything else that’s awful.
Oh but not quite as awful as this film’s ending – a double whammy of quite staggering proportions that I guarantee will leave you unsure as to how to react. 
        Highly recommended in the uncut Region free double disc DVD version from Grindhouse releasing that I watched, just like the trailer says: PIECES – it’s exactly what you think it is. Or at least it should be after you’ve read this.

Thursday 26 January 2012

To The Devil A Daughter (1976)

Hammer’s final horror picture (at least until the recent revival of the company) kicks off by introducing us straight away to its villain, Father Michael Rayner. We know he’s the villain partly because he’s being excommunicated, secondly because he doesn’t feel one bit sorry for whatever naughtiness he’s been accused of, but mainly because he’s being played by Christopher Lee in a Hammer film that isn’t THE DEVIL RIDES OUT.
A brief title sequence and suddenly it’s twenty years later and we’re in Bavaria where naughty Christopher has somehow become responsible, along with his two German character actor friends, for nun Nastassja Kinski, presumably atoning for her father’s numerous on and off set atrocities over the years. Nastassja gets put on a plane for England where she’s supposed to be met by her sweaty nervous Denholm Elliott of a dad. When she gets there however it's scowly behatted Richard Widmark who gets to take her off to his place for ‘safe keeping’ after being convinced to do so by worried old Denholm at a book signing Widmark seems to exhibit no interest at all in attending, which is odd seeing as it’s his own book that’s being launched.
Widmark is playing John Verney, who is allegedly an expert on the occult, although he appears to be more of an expert in wearing blue herringbone tweed, Gucci loafer slip ons, and looking exceedingly pissed off, all the time. His friends Honor ‘My God did she ever look in the mirror to see what she was wearing?’ Blackman and Anthony ‘At least this is better than my bit part in Tower of Evil’ Valentine are on hand to help (i.e. get murdered) and meanwhile back in Bavaria another German extra is having her legs tied together so her baby can be born unnaturally, following her impregnation by Christopher Lee’s character in a scene where we Most Definitely Do Not Get To See His Actual Bottom.
The baby, which when we get to see it, appears to be the kind of thing that would be more at home in Norman J Warren’s INSEMINOID rather than Nastassja Kinksi’s womb somehow ends up there anyway, or at least it does in a dream sequence. Nastassja and the baby are both needed to bring back Astaroth (I think), a process which requires a hill of flint, a whole woman’s worth of blood, and the complete and utter absence of Richard Widmark holding a rock that he can throw at Christopher Lee’s head. Unfortunately all does not go according to plan and one totally unnecessary and possibly even illegal nude scene later and the film is over. Apparently Dennis wasn’t pleased.

Monday 23 January 2012

Stagefright (1987) - aka The Owling?

A surprisingly good entry in the 1980s slasher subgenre, STAGEFRIGHT defies expectations by being an Italian horror film produced by Joe D'Amato and written by his frequent collaborator Luigi Montefiore (aka George Eastman / Lew Cooper in this) that's actually well crafted, makes sense, isn't too tastelessly over the top in its portrayal of the murders and has dialogue which sounds as if it's being spoken by actors rather than the usual two or three people crammed into a Soho dubbing suite. One would be tempted to lay all the credit for this endeavour at the door of talented first time director Michele Soavi and certainly his subsequent movies make you sorry he hasn't had a longer career in the horror genre.
              Also known in different territories as DELIRIA and BLOODY BIRD (what would a EuroHorror picture be without several different titles?) the clever opening scene makes us think we're on the hideously cheap set of another Italian horror film. But no - we're actually on the hideously cheap set of an Italian stage play called 'The Night Owl'. After a couple of knowing comments about the Italian horror genre as a whole ("I know it doesn't make sense, but can you imagine the effect on the public?") Alicia (Barbara Cupisti) is off to the nearest hospital with Betty the wardrobe mistress to seek treatment for Alicia's sprained ankle. Unfortunately the nearest hospital is an Institution for the Criminally Insane which also just happens to be looking after psychopathic loony mass murderer plus actor Irving Wallace. Wallace escapes and hides in the back seat of the car (why does no-one ever check there after leaving these places?) before doing Betty in with a pickaxe. After the police have been and gone director Peter (David Brandon, who's not at all bad as the megalomaniacal director, although one wonders if having worked in Italy for some time he may have found quite a bit of inspiration to draw on) decides he's found the hook that will sell his play and locks his actors in for the night. Unfortunately Wallace is in there too and once he's found the owl mask and the keys to the tool and chainsaw cupboard the stage is set (sorry) for a series of well-orchestrated and quite ghastly murders, leading to the now famous scene of all the bits of the victims arranged as a tableau tastefully augmented by swirling feathers amongst which is hidden the key Alicia has to retrieve so she can escape.
                    For a 1980s horror film STAGEFRIGHT hasn't dated too badly at all, possibly because the actors' hair and costumes could conceivably be part of the play they're meant to be appearing in. In the era of SAW and its ilk the murders are still quite horrible and Soavi demonstrates on this picture, as he did on subsequent projects THE CHURCH & DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE, that he's a born director with a natural eye for some impressive visual compositions. As I mentioned above the acting all round seems to be rather better than many EuroHorror efforts (and in particular many Joe D'Amato efforts) and Simon Boswell's electronic music augments the proceedings nicely. I believe there was talk of a STAGEFRIGHT 2 for a couple of years after this one but perhaps it's just as well it never materialised. As it is the movie stands as the best owl-headed theatre set slasher movie out there. Unless of course anyone knows better?

Thursday 19 January 2012

Kolobos (1999)

A low budget American movie that’s a little bit too ambitious for its own good, KOLOBOS starts with an amateurishly filmed car accident but rapidly gets much better from there. The victim of the accident is teenager Kyra (Amy Weber). Battered and bandaged, she lies in a hospital bed while flashbacks give us her memories of how she ended up there. Discharged from a halfway house for the rehabilitation of patients with mental disorders and with the scars on her arms suggesting a history of self harm, Kyra answers a newspaper advertisement to take part in a low budget backwoods USA film version of Big Brother. Once inside she gets to meet her housemates which include a poor standup comedian, a struggling actress, a college student and a girl who works in a fast food joint. It isn’t long before steel shutters have turned the house into a prison and booby traps are picking them off one by one. But all is not at it seems, and who is the mysterious figure Kyra keeps seeing on the television screen, the one persistently mutilating his own face? 
Starting with a title sequence and music reminiscent of Argento at his SUSPIRIA-like best, there are a lot of nods to that classic in KOLOBOS, including the use of weird coloured lighting filters and everyday objects filmed from unfamiliar angles. Images of figures distorted by frosted glass, hospital curtains and the like abound, and as the film goes on the movie’s deliberate sense of clouded reality increases. It’s nowhere near as stylish as the Argento classic, but directors Daniel Liatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk obviously have great affection and appreciation for the genre, and even if their bleeding-eyed doctors do get a bit too sub-Fulci at times, it’s in a good way. Oddly enough the movie I was most reminded of while watching KOLOBOS was Norman J Warren’s TERROR, in that it employs much the same Argento-aping style to tell a story that doesn’t really make sense but by the end you don’t really mind because it’s been such a fun ride anyway. Neither director seems to have been at the helm of anything else, which is a shame as the movie should have been a springboard to greater things. KOLOBOS (and I’m not really giving anything away by saying the word translates from the classical Greek for mutilated) is no classic but it’s certainly not hackwork, and is worth 84 minutes of any discerning horror fan’s time.

Monday 16 January 2012

Switchblade Romance (2003)

Starting off like so many slasher movies before it, SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE (let’s call it by its English title for the sake of this review, shall we? Especially as it’s a rather better title than what Haute Tension translates as) begins in a farm house in the middle of the French countryside. Alex has brought her friend Marie back from university with her so they can do a bit of revision during the holidays. The law books never get opened, though, because as soon as everyone’s in bed it’s the cue for almost Alex’s entire family to get massacred by a mysterious caller who then proceeds to kidnap her. Marie ends up with her in the back of the killer’s van and the rest of the film details their trip through the French countryside before culminating in a final blood soaked showdown. To say any more would spoil the story for those who haven’t yet seen it, suffice to say the film takes a turn I wasn’t expecting but was extremely welcome in these days of by-the-numbers slasher movies.
The new wave of extreme French horror cinema has tended to emphasise the more grim and miserable aspects of the genre. SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE predates films like INSIDE, MARTYRS and THE HORDE and while it’s no less bloodstained it does have a lighter, more entertaining vibe to it. Having seen it it’s now no surprise to me that while his contemporaries have been exploring the finer points of miserabilism in their homeland director Alexandre Aja moved to Hollywood to direct an okay remake of THE HILLS HAVE EYES and a quite outrageous over the top fun filled extravaganza of a remake of Joe Dante’s PIRANHA. 
As SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE progresses, and particularly as we get into the last twenty minutes, it becomes obvious that this and PIRANHA 3D are the work of the same man. Personally it’s a delight to discover a modern French horror director who wants to entertain at least as much as he wants to mortify. It’s also a pleasure to see Giannetto de Rossi’s name in the credits, his torn throat appliances having come a long way since Olga Karlatos had hers ripped out in Fulci’s ZOMBIE 2. In fact the only thing I really didn’t like about this film was the music, which comes across as one of those ‘sound design’ efforts filled with scraping noises and wobbling base noises when a proper score would have made this even more enjoyable. On the basis of this and his subsequent projects, Alexandre Aja has confirmed his position as the only modern French horror director I would like to actually meet, if only so I can ask him if the J&B gag in this film is a reference to the Italian giallos SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE could actually so easily be a blood drenched, slasher-orientated, over the top tribute to.

Friday 13 January 2012

Macabre (1958)

If there is one filmmaker in the world I would have liked to have been it’s William Castle, who seemed to have a genuine love of his audiences and most of all wanted them to have a good time. His string of successful horror films included HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, THE TINGLER, HOMICIDAL and MR SARDONICUS, all made with a twinkle in the eye and a gimmick hidden somewhere in the picture. Whether it was a plastic skeleton floating over the audience, electric buzzers wired into the seats, or just the thumbs up / thumbs down poll cards for the villain’s fate at the end Castle fans knew they weren’t just paying their ticket price for a movie but an entertainment experience that might include something along the lines of the above. And it all started with MACABRE. Admittedly the gimmick here isn’t anywhere as near as ambitious as some of his other films. A stern announcement at the beginning tells us that the management is concerned for its audience’s health and if anyone should display signs of undue fright would the person next to them please alert cinema staff in case of emergency. I understand that while nobody actually died of fright and thus was able to cash in on the life insurance policy offered by Lloyds of London, actors would sometimes be employed to sit in the audience of Castle pictures to play the gibbering wreck who couldn’t take any more of the terrors being doled out on screen. Then the film proper starts, and what an odd little picture it is. Veering between film noir and lurid melodrama we begin at a funeral parlour where a child’s coffin has been stolen. Then the nurse who assists the local doctor receives a telephone call to say his six year old daughter has been kidnapped, buried underground, and they only have until midnight to find her. What follows is the most convoluted of plotlines and the most ludicrous of outcomes, but Castle keeps everything moving along breezily so the movie is never boring. There are quite a few flashbacks as well, detailing the reprehensible nature of much of the townsfolk until it gets to the point where you wonder if there’s a single decent person in the script. Much of the film takes place in a graveyard that’s actually remarkably atmospheric for such a low budget picture, and wouldn’t look out of place in a Universal film  made fifteen years earlier. Once the plot has been wrapped up, the villain has died horribly and the world has been set to rights we are treated to an animated end title sequence led by Mr Castle himself and writer / coproducer Robb White driving a hearse as the cast is divided into ‘The Dead’ and ‘The Living’. Stephen King wrote about this film in Danse Macabre (he called it McBare as a child) and said when he finally got to see it he was unimpressed. So I have him to thank for lowering my expectations and providing me with an unexpectedly entertaining evening’s viewing.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Wrong Turn 2 (2007)

One of the wonderful things about this genre of ours is that joy can come from the most unexpected places. Rob Schmidt’s original WRONG TURN (2003) was an okay hillbilly horror movie in which Eliza Dushku, Desmond Harrington and friends encountered a trio of deformed mutants and suffered the consequences. Schmidt went onto direct one of the few episodes of the second series of MASTERS OF HORROR worth watching - Right To Die, and in fact it was that TV episode that encouraged me to seek out his debut picture.
Joe Lynch, on the other hand, (who directed WRONG TURN 2) I met at FrightFest last year where he and his friend Adam Green (HATCHET, FROZEN) were premiering their new drive-in anthology movie CHILLERAMA. Lynch seemed such a personable chap, and so alive with the love of all things Mortal Cinema-esque (as did his colleague, I hasten to add) that I thought it only charitable to seek out what I assumed would be a fairly routine effort.
Far, far better than it has any right to be, you will know if you’re going to enjoy WRONG TURN 2 before the titles have finished when a blonde-haired young lady called Kimberly is despatched in a way so over the top outrageous that it will either be time to switch off the film or settle down for a hillbilly horrorfest of near-crazy proportions.
This time, instead of people randomly lost in the woods the plot centres around a simulated post-apocalypse reality TV show. The participants are introduced in such a deserve-to-die way as to bring a nostalgic tear to the eye of even the most hardened fan of slasher films. What then follows is an exercise in country carnage, with several scenes going over the top in terms of violence. Judging from the way certain scenes seems to have been included simply on the grounds of outrageous bad taste one also wonders if Mr Lynch may also harbour a love for the gleeful excesses of John Waters. In fact a viewing of his CHILLERAMA episode almost confirms it (I’ll leave you to find out the title yourselves).
As well as having a healthy sense of gory fun the cast is peppered with familiar faces from these sorts of things. Both Crystal Lowe and Texas Battle (I suspect these aren’t their real names) appeared in FINAL DESTINATION 3 as the one who dies naked in a tanning booth and the chap who gets his head squished in the gym, respectively. Walter Murphy is the only carryover from part 1, doing his best John Carradine impersonation as he tries to provide some explanation as to why the mutants developed in the first place and allowing Lynch to provide a nod to PROPHECY. In fact there are plenty of homages for horror fans to pick up on, with scenes reminiscent of everything from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE to TROPIC THUNDER, but in a good way.
So, highly unexpected, highly outrageous and highly enjoyable. Well done Mr Lynch. On the Mortal Cinema shelves lurks WRONG TURN 3, which will have a hard time living up to this one, but only time will tell.

Saturday 7 January 2012

Frogs (1972)

Along with demonic possession movies riding on the coat-tails of the success of THE EXORCIST and THE OMEN, probably the other most popular horror movie subgenre of the 1970s was the ecohorror picture. Movies about nature turning against man, often because of humankind’s scientific meddling, abounded throughout the decade. Despite the attempts of Bert I Gordon (FOOD OF THE GODS & EMPIRE OF THE ANTS) and of course William F Claxton (NIGHT OF THE LEPUS) the main differences between these and 1950s monster movies was that often the animals in question were normal sized. Few were intended to do little else than use some inexpensive animals obtained from the local pet store as a means of providing exploitative thrills. Quite possibly the nadir of the use of animals in this way was the Ted V Mikels-produced THE WORM EATERS but that’s for another time. Or, as anyone familiar with Mr Mikels’ work may be relieved to hear, quite possibly never. One of the first ecohorrors out of the gate was FROGS, an AIP production directed by George McCowan. McCowan spent almost his entire career in television, and his CV boasts mainly episodes of FANTASY ISLAND, STARSKY & HUTCH and CANNON, but he took a bit of time out in the early seventies to direct THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN RIDE! 
A tiny moment of nostalgia here if I may. The UK quad of FROGS was one of the very first pieces of film memorabilia I owned, and the tag lines ‘Slithering Slimy Horror!’ and ‘If You’re Squeamish Stay At Home!’ screamed out from above a picture of one of the title creatures with a human hand in its mouth much to the chagrin of the rest of my family.
On a private island in some mystical part of America where boa constrictors, rattlesnakes, alligators, monitor lizards and enough frogs to stage a live version of an old Paul McCartney single all live together, octogenarian wheelchair-bound Ray Milland is busy gathering his dysfunctional family around him for a July 4th birthday celebration. Into this unhappy mix floats Sam Elliott in his canoe. Sam’s been shooting some pictures for a magazine article on environmental pollution, which has been a handy way of showing a few shots of bin bags and Coke cans floating around over the opening credits, as well as the necessary fullscreen amphibian visage over which the title itself is imposed to an almighty burp of Les Baxter’s self-performed electronic music score. Elliott gets run over by Adam Roarke’s speedboat and by way of apology gets taken chez Milland to dry out and meet the rest of the family. And lots of frogs. Eventually anyway. Milland’s family includes Joan van Ark who gets to wear the most appalling yellow romper suit ever seen outside of a carry-cot. Milland has lost his handyman and asks Elliott to go and look for him. The fellow was last seen spraying insecticide and so we already know what has most likely happened to him. Sure enough it’s not long before he turns up with his face in a ditch, the victim of froggy revenge. As various members of the household succumb to animal-engineered accidents it soon becomes clear that the wildlife is taking over and the frogs are in charge. Milland refuses to leave the family homestead, leaving Elliott, van Ark and a couple of kids as the last ones standing as they try to escape.
FROGS is buckets of fun. Most of the deaths involve a degree of intelligence and planning not commonly encountered in simple vertebrates. A murder in a greenhouse requires the lizards in question to not just knock over bottles of chemicals but to presumably be able to read the labels on the jars so they know which bottles to smash so the contents mix to produce a lethal gas. As I have already mentioned above, at least one rattlesnake has braved its long journey from its normal desert environment to take part in the Florida-based swampy fun, and the frogs all get so excited they either don’t know which way to leap or the frog wrangler didn’t know which way to throw them. Slithering slimy horror? Oh yes. And wonderful fun, too.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Eyes of Crystal (2004)

Does the giallo as we all know and love it have a place in 21st century horror? Well that all depends. Last year Spain offered us the thoroughly enjoyable, stylish and barking mad thriller JULIA'S EYES (which is reviewed on this very site). A few years prior to that Italy and Spain got together to produce EYES OF CRYSTAL, a police procedural that could be considered a serious giallo (complicated plotting, obscure clues, creatively bizarre murders) without all the daft (but fun) elements of its 1970s precursors (outrageous fashions, terrible wallpaper, J&B, excessive scantily clad pulchritude). Oh yes, EYES OF CRYSTAL (or OCCHI DI CRISTALLO to give it the original Italian title) is definitely a giallo for the 21st century, a sleeker, more polished, more distilled version, if you will, of its predecessors.
            There's a mad taxidermist roaming the streets of an unnamed Italian city, busy reconstituting the doll he keeps having flashbacks to from his youth (along with burning nuns and other Italian standbys) from human body parts. His murder victims are left with the parts he has removed replaced with mannikin limbs and, more often than not, with Latin phrases written in blood on the wall close by. Luigi Lo Cascio is the Young Cop Who Doesn't Live By The Rules (he shoots a rapist in the knee in the film's opening sequence after they have caught him just to show he's a bit unstable) assigned to investigate the murders and work out why people are turning up on the beach minus their legs. Senior policeman Simon Andreu (star of THE BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE and providing a nice link with the EuroHorror of old) gets admitted to hospital where he lies slowly dying of a brain tumour and seeing visions of him and the killer together when they were boys at the orphanage where they grew up but unfortunately he can't remember the chap’s name until it’s just too late. Lucia Jimenez is on hand as the gorgeous girl who needs Lo Cascio's protection but ends up tied to a rickety old bed in her skimpies as the killer dangles his knife over her. It all reaches a climax at the big scary orphanage overlooking the cliffs near the sea where the killer's identity is revealed, as is his whacked out reason for what he's been doing with all the body parts.
            Extremely stylishly shot, EYES OF CRYSTAL often manages to out-Dario Mr Argento with some of its delicious visual set-ups, and there are so many the movie is worth watching at least twice just to appreciate some of the more subtle visual treats and framing on offer here. A glass eye factory and a climax that relies partly on a homage to a certain Mario Bava film that will have all his fans nodding in appreciation, this really is very good indeed. Director Eros Puglielli seems to have worked solely in Italian television since making this which is a shame, as his eyes would be better employed constructing more stylish visual feasts of giallo for a modern generation.