Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mrs. 'arris Goes to Paris (1992)

I'm an Angela Lansbury fan. Who doesn't enjoy the adventures of Jessica Fletcher, the most dangerous serial killer in America, perhaps the world, with a body count that outranks Dexter Morgan, Fantomas, and One and the Templars combined, by the hundreds! So, when I saw an interview with her on the news recently, where she and the interviewer talked a bit about a TV movie called Mrs. 'arris Goes to Paris, which Lansbury said she loved, that was good enough recommendation for me, especially since the film is seemingly public domain, and therefore on Youtube!

Miss 'arris Goes to Paris is about Ada Harris (Lansbury), a middle-aged maid, who's saved up for three years, so she can go to Paris and buy a Dior gown, her dream possession...

The movie opens with Ada going to the house of Lady Dant, who she works for as a maid. While cleaning, she sees the Lady's Dior dresses, and they enchant her. (Naturally, being a rich person and all, Dant's problem isn't that she can't afford a Dior dress, but that she can't decide which Dior gown (i.e. which ssssuuuuper expensive gown) to wear!).

Later, Ada talks with her friend Vi (Lila Kaye) about her new ambition of saving up to go to Paris and get a Dior dress. Vi doesn't think much of Ada's want for a Dior, especially when Ada decides to cut out going to the movies with Vi, as well as other expenses, so she can fill her wallet more quickly.

When she finally saves up enough money, Ada flies to Paris, and finds her way to the house of Dior. She goes in, but finds out that one needs an invitation to view the Dior line. However, Madame Colbert (Diana Rigg), the sales manager, takes pity on Ada and gives her an invitation for the collection showing later in the afternoon.

Later, at the showing, Ada starts talking with Marquis Hippolite (Omar Sharif, who's credited as a 'special guest star'-*sigh*-There's no such thing as a 'special guest star' in a freakin' movie!), then the showing starts.

Once it's over, Ada picks a type of dress and buys one. However, it won't be ready for another week, and Ada has to be back in London by the next day, so she can't get the dress (Umm, why can't they just mail the dress to Ada's house in London? Surely they could do that, couldn't they?). On Colbert and co.'s advice, Ada decides to call Vi and ask her to fill in for her at Lady Dant's while she stays in Paris for the week.

Everything is going well, but the store manager Armand (John Savident) however, does not want Ada to have the dress, as he views her as a low-class woman...Even though she just unloaded the Pound equivalent to 800 bucks to his business! Shouldn't that make her a-o-freakin'-k in his book?

Ada soon makes new friends in the form of Natasha, a Dior model, Andre, the Dior accountant, as well as her prior acquaintance, the Marquis Hippolite. However, she faces opposition from Armand, and rich bitch Madame Croquette...

Mrs. 'arris Goes to Paris is a nice Pollyanna-style story, and I quite enjoyed it, despite certain flaws. The plot moves along nicely, and tells a decent tale.

Angela Lansbury is very good in this (that goes without saying), and Diana Rigg, Tamara Gorski, and Omar Sharif are good too. Lothaire Bluteau, who plays Andre, however, can't act, at all! And the actress playing Madame Croquette loses her accent at one point!

The plot does suffer a bit thanks to how forced and nonsensical Armand's, Madame Croquette's, and Natasha's boyfriend's jerkness is. Also, why does Ada try to matchmake Natasha and Andre? Nat mentioned to you that she has a boyfriend, lady! In fact, I actually wondered if the movie actually forgot about said boyfriend! It didn't though, he appeared after a while, and like I said, is portrayed as a total prick! That's so cliched that I'm surprised he was even included!

The movie's biggest problem is the time period! The movie is set in the 1950's, as is the book its based on. It never outright says so though, and since it looks like it takes place in the modern day (that is, 1992), I assumed that the time period was updated from the book. But no, despite the 'modern' look of everything, mentions of  'The War', and a very much alive Christian Dior prove otherwise.

So, I do recommend Miss Harris Goes to Paris if this is a genre you like, or if you just love Angela Lansbury...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Erotic Nights of the Living Dead (1980)

This blog is nearly two years old, and I haven't reviewed a single Joe D'Amato film until now. While that MAY sound like a positive, thans to 'gems' such as Emanuelle in America, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, Images in a Convent, and Porno Holocaust (!), he did of course make plenty of fun films too, from Ator the Invincible 1 and 2 (aka, The Blade Master, aka Cave Dwellers), to Anthropophagus, Beyond the Darkness, and Endgame!...And today I'll be looking at...none of those good movies, but rather Erotic Nights of the Living Dead! 'Yay' me!

The 111 minute long (!!!) ENotLD centres on a bunch of people who go to the mysterious, and deserted Cat Island, a seemingly supernatural place feared by the nearby locals...

So, Erotic Nights of the Living Dead opens with credits and music that almost entirely drowns out what some people are saying. The film starts at the medical camp, and a weird guy is trying to convince the doctors that there's something wrong with his arm. After they tell him that there's nothing wrong (I guess, it's hard to tell when I could barely hear what they're saying!), he follows a nurse, who's running off to her lover, Larry (George Eastman) for some...

Oh yeah!...

The weird guy watches the two, while whackin' the meat and shaking his body like he's trying to out-overact Bronson Pinchot.

Then the film cuts to a boat, and it's here where I finally found out that I was in fact watching an English version of this movie. Larry and another guy are fishing, and they talk for a minute, before the scene cuts away as abruptly as it began. John Wilson (Mark Shannon), architect, talks with a local official about Cat Island. A few minutes later, he hooks up with two prostitutes, and...

Oh yeah!...

Meanwhile, the other guy from the fishing boat is talking vaguely with another guy about something sinster that's happening on the island. Guy 1 tells the other guy to look for 'it', and Guy 1 starts lighting a candle shrine with a tiki doll. As he's lighting it, a zombie silently sneaks up on him and tears his throat out. Yeah, it serves you right for using a candle shrine to ward off zombies, dude! This isn't the first movie I've seen with these things, and here's what I've learnt-They're inconvenient as hell, easily knocked over/snuffed out, and the zombies in said films can still be dispatched with a single shot to the head, so I don't know why anyone in these films even bothers using them (unless they're really that bad shots).

After several minutes of  'Oh yeah!...' and 'Oh...god, are those warts?!' with Mark Shannon and co., the film cuts to George Eastman playing cards. Now I wasn't going to bother mentioning this scene until I saw it play out! Eastman beats a scrawny guy in cards, and the guy whips out a switchblade...and is dominated by the hulking Eastman! That's right, you don't fuck with the Anthropophagus!

Meanwhile, Wilson is asking the two hookers if they want to come with him to Cat Island. They're interested until he mentions the island's name, and they run off, even leaving their pay behind. Wilson runs out of his room to give them their money, but they're already gone. Then another woman comes out of her room and starts talking with Wilson, and he asks her over for a drink. You know where this is going! Yeah, this sorta-porn film may have an actual plot, but that doesn't mean all the characters aren't raging nymphomaniacs!

Blah blah blah, Mark Shannon fucks some more, as does George Eastman (albeit with no nudity from him, thankfully). Yeah, twenty-eight minutes into this film and we have no plot, and we've only seen a single zombie, and only for a few seconds. This film is kind of a tough sit!

After that, Larry and his girlfriend walk out of their boat and see a zombie in the water...And given how they react to it, do they know about the zombies? No, but it seems that way, thanks to the writing and direction.

After Larry hits the zombie with a fishing hook, the police are called over, and the comatose zombie is taken away by an ambulance. At the hospital, where the zombie is about to be autopsied, a doctor who doesn't believe in zombies is told about what just happened by two other docs, who tell him how dangerous zombies are...amd then just leave the doctor to autopsy the zombie on his own, with no protection at all! What assholes! Naturally the doctor becomes chow for the undead once it wakes up.

The next day, Wilson approaches Larry, asking to hire his boat. After getting paid, Larry agrees to take Wilson and his assistant Fiona to Cat Island. A few random cutaways to Laura Gemser (and her character's magical sap-bleeding powers) on Cat Island, several minutes of porn, and one cat jump scare later, Larry, Wilson and Co., at nearly fifty minutes into the film, are finally ready to sail to the mysterious island.

So, the trio go to Cat Island, which they find uninhabited, save for a mysterious old man and his grandaughter (Laura Gemser), who, after Wilson snaps up photos of them...for some reason...warn the trio to leave the island while they still can. After the man and woman leave, a strange rumbling noise makes the trio go back to the boat, which leads to more fucking! Well, almost...

Later, the two act strangely when Fiona tells them that there's a cat on the island. The trio go back to shore, and while Fiona sunbathes, Larry and Wilson look for paw prints, and complain about 'that damned old man' when they see them. Huh?! What's so weird about there being a cat on the island?

Another thing that weirds Wilson out is that Laura Gemser isn't showing up in any of the photos he took of her...

So, at this point, having finally started up the plot, and barely featuring any zombies, the film passes the hour mark...

Erotic Nights of the Living Dead is an extremely boring film for the most part, but I wouldn't call it terrible. I'm not sure why, since it is-I guess it's because I've seen worse and I've seen MUUUCH more boring films than this! Like Harper, or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, both of which are longer than ENotLD, and both of which I found unwatchably boring! I could at least make it through Erotic Nights.

Erotic Nights is structured like so-The first half (about fifty minutes) is porn, and scenes of plotless dialogue. That's it. No plot whatsoever. Then after the fifty minute mark, when the characters set sail for the island, and there's (a little) plot, and a lot less porn. This is a VERY bad thing! Bad because the porn (namely the 'uncorking'scene!) in the first half at least keeps your attention (well, minus Mark Shannon's genital warts-eww), and when it's gone, what we're left with is lots of boring scenes of people talking, barely any zombies, and just plain nothingness!

Like I said before, Erotic Nights is an hour and fifty minutes long minutes long! It took fifty minutes in for me to finally go "Is anything gonna fucking happen in this movie?! GOD!!". And not counting the two minor appearances in the first half-hour, the first time zombies appear in this ZOMBIE movie is seventy-five minutes in! Yes, you read that correctly!...

Erotic Nights of the Living Dead was filmed alongside the hilariously named, and from what I've heard, twice-as-boring, Porno Holocaust. Both films have mostly the same cast, and were both filmed around the same settings-Santo Domingo!

The acting seemed ok-I couldn't really tell that well since the movie is dubbed. Speaking of, the dub acting was passable, but the dubbing looked awful! But then again, most dubbing does.

The soundtrack is decent, and has some rockin' 80's synth muzak! It's very forgettable though, as I couldn't remember a single bar of music only a short while after watching the movie. If only it could have had a theme as fun and memorable as the one from Porno Holocaust!

The zombie effects are decent, which makes me wish they were in the movie more. As for gore effects, they're mostly really weak-victims in this flick just look like they've had fake blood smeared on their necks. And the zombies seem to have chocolate milk for blood. There are a couple of good gore effects though, namely a zombie headsplosion!

The zombies, however, make this film even more boring than it already is! They shamble so slowly that they'd make even the most ardent fast-zombie hater wish for some athletic undead! And the big 'zombies rising from their graves' sequence is slow and interminable!

As for the ending, it's weird! So...were there ever any zombies or ghosts or was it all in George Eastman's head?

So, in closing, Erotic Nights of the Living Dead is an incredibly boring movie that fails at being a porn, and fails at being a horror film.