Friday, February 28, 2014

Episode #276: Blood xXx

Welcome to another episode of the GGtMC!!!

Thies week Sammy and Will were detained due to personal schedule conflicts so Dr. Zom and Jake stepped in to cover xXx (2002) starring Vin Diesel and Blood (2012) directed by Nick Murphy!!! We want to thank the guys for helping us on such short notice, True Gents!!!

Direct download: bloodxxx.mp3

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Night Train Murders (1975)

**Possible Spoilers Ahoy!**

In movies, people dressed as Santa Claus always seem to be a focus of attention (even if only temporarily).  In The French Connection, for example, Roy Scheider chases a crook while clad in the jolly red outfit.  In fact, entire movies have been centered on people dressing up as the character.  Witness: Bad Santa, Silent Night, Deadly Night, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, um…Silent Night, Deadly Night 2, etcetera.  I honestly cannot think of a film where a faux Santa has been featured while still being just a part of the background (that is, he is noticeable without doing anything [or having anything done to him] which is humorous, villainous, or dangerous).  If there is one, I don’t recall it.  Then again, maybe that’s the point.  Claus, after all, represents Christmas, and placing a focus on him not only gives the audience a frame of reference for when a film is set, but it can also provide a visually interesting figure to catch the audience off guard, draw them into the story, or just warm them up.  And let me just tell you, you’re going to need a whole lot of warming up for Aldo Lado’s Night Train Murders (aka L’ultimo Treno Della Notte, aka Last Stop On The Night Train, aka New House On The Left).  Thank you, fake Saint Nick, for taking such a nice beat down at this film’s outset.

After we are introduced to thugs Blackie (Flavio Bucci) and Curly (Gianfranco De Grassi) via the aforementioned mugging, we also make the acquaintance of two young students (and cousins) Margaret (Irene Miracle) and Lisa (Laura D’Angelo).  The two young women are taking a train from Germany to Italy to visit Lisa’s family for the holidays.  While en route, the four meet, and skeeziness ensues.  And when a seemingly well-bred Lady (Macha Méril) enters the mix, things really go straight to Hell.

One of the things about this film which grounds it in verisimilitude is Lado’s use of vérité/travelogue style footage.  We have lots of handheld shots picking up the local color and establishing the locations of the film while also giving a bit of eye candy to those who dream of visiting foreign lands.  But the filmmakers include their fictive characters in this footage, so they are as much a part of this world as anyone else we see.  The only thing that makes them stand out is their behavior which (being actors acting) naturally draws attention to itself.  Any close ups, then, have a reflected, staged lighting which also distinguishes these scenes (again, like the Claus assault) from the naturalistic footage surrounding them.  So the viewer finds it that much easier to buy into the depravity coming down the pike.  Combine this with the Demi Roussos song A Flower Is All You Need, complete with a chorus of children singing about love, and you get the same sort of queasy pit in your stomach from the juxtaposition of musical style and exploitive material as you (or at least I) do from (the late, great) Riz Ortolani’s sonic lamentations as heard in Cannibal Holocaust.

If the third of this film’s above aliases sounds familiar, you’re likely asking yourself, “how much does this film actually borrow from Wes Craven’s Last House On The Left?”  First of all, to say “borrowed” is a bit of a misstatement, since this film lifts much of the earlier film outright.  Nevertheless, this is, first of all, a better-made film than Craven’s, and second of all, it’s a more thoughtful treatment of the subject matter.  Where Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring (a major inspiration for both House and Train) is very pensive and existential about its turn of events, and Craven’s film is straight up grotty exploitation, Lado’s movie attempts to blend both aspects, and to a large degree, it succeeds.  That the director is more concerned with the sociological facets of violence, however, doesn’t prevent him from getting down in the proverbial dirt.  And yet, all three films leave one with three different feelings, none of them especially upbeat even though all three follow the narrative of delivering unto the perpetrators of the movie’s evils a healthy dose of vigilante justice, by and large.  The fact remains that what Lisa’s parents are left with after they have exhausted their wrath is a very cold reality with which they must live out their remaining days.  This is not sanitized violence, though it is heightened.  It is brutal and vicious, and the audience is complicit in part, because they wanted to see it.

Lado places the blame for what happens in the film on the back of society or, more specifically, on the back of what most would consider to be “respectable” society.  So, we have a dinner party thrown by Lisa’s father Giulio (Enrico Maria Salerno), where he is first blamed for the violence in the world by a psychologist and then asked what he would do about it.  Of course, Giulio has no real answer for this, his retort being that there needs to be more “parental control and sports.”  He doesn’t need to think about violence, because it doesn’t touch his life.  This despite his occupation as a doctor and no stranger to blood and viscera, as we’re shown in a graphic (real) surgery scene.  Giulio can be glib about the subject but only for now.  But this illustration of society’s responsibility is best embodied by Méril’s Lady character (she has no proper name, because she personifies modern civilization).  She is impeccably dressed, with an elegant veil (like you might see on a widow at her husband’s funeral).  She engages with a man aboard the train about philosophy and society.  Yet, after she joins up with Blackie and Curly, she proves to be the worst of the lot.  She’s also unafraid to get her hands dirty, though her primary role is as a manipulator.  This complicity of society’s Haves extends to a peeping tom (Franco Fabrizi) whom the Lady involves in Lisa’s and Margaret’s violation, because she recognizes that he wants the same thing she does, but he is afraid to ask for it.  All this said, and despite the loftier ideas flying around the movie, it does deliver on its vow of exploitation.  It’s not easy to sit through, I’ll be honest, but it is not sleaze simply for the sake of sleaze.  Even if you don’t buy the notions put forth by the filmmakers through the characters, this film will leave you thinking.  Not particularly pleasant thoughts, but still…

MVT:  Lado’s direction is tight, and he does an excellent job blocking the film’s action out in some tight quarters.  He also does a marvelous job creating a sense of claustrophobia throughout much of the film, and this only adds to the nauseous feeling of the total experience.  

Make Or Break:  As Lisa and Margaret wait to depart for Italy inside a darkened train compartment, they hear Curly’s trademark harmonica playing offscreen (courtesy of one Ennio Morricone, who made equally exquisite use of the instrument in the superlative Once Upon A Time In The West).  The dread evoked with just a few notes of music is tangible and a clear declaration that none of this is going to end well.

Score:  7/10       

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Soul Brothers of Kung Fu (1977)

a.k.a. The Last Strike, Kung Fu Avengers

Director: Yi-Jung Hua (as I Hung Hwa)
Writer: Chan Wei Lin
Cast: Ho Chung Tao (Bruce Li), Feng Ku, Meng Lo, Carl Scott, Siu Yam-yam (Yum-yum Shaw), Au-Yeung Pooi San, Hoi San, Peter Chan, Alexander Grand, Yuen Biao

Following a recent viewing of the PBS documentary The Black Kung Fu Experience, I resolved to include more of the early cinematic contributions of African-American martial artists in my film viewing for 2014. (After all, why set goals for self-improvement in personal finance and health when I can set completely arbitrary media consumption benchmarks?) While Jim Kelly is probably the most famous and Ron Van Clief the most prolific of these pioneering actors, Carl Scott repeatedly emerged as the guy most overlooked and underappreciated. When I saw that RZA had name-dropped him in an interview with Film Comment as number one and the best, it all but cemented my urge to see his films -- all three of them! (I can’t, in good conscience, count Bruce Lee: The Man, the Myth, where he appears as an extra).

Like any group of young urban professionals, the trio of Wong Wei Lung (Li), Shao-san (Meng), and Chai Yun (Au-Yeung Pooi San) work a variety of crummy jobs to pay for their Hong Kong apartment. However, as hard-working immigrants from the mainland, they’re willing to do just about anything in order to live out their dream to live beyond their means. Wong Wei Lung and Shao-sen are doing menial labor down at the docks one day when they come upon a fellow dock worker, Tom (Scott) getting beat up by several of his bosses and colleagues for spilling paint while also being a young, black male. In rushing to his defense, the roommates catch the ire of a cruel boss named Mr. Chien (Feng), a man involved in absolutely every business in Hong Kong, legit or not.

All three of the men lose their jobs, but eventually get new, shittier ones. They lose those too. While Shao-san ceases all productivity and falls into a gambling addiction, Wei Lung participates in organized fights to make ends meet. During a conversation with Chai Yun about the next day’s huge championship match, he announces his intention to marry her if he wins, and wait a minute, it’s her birthday tomorrow, so they’ll just get engaged during her party because apparently they’ve been banging on the side this whole time. We see glimpses that Shao-san harbors a secret jealousy about their relationship, but all that sexual tension never really goes anywhere and he gets sidetracked by his involvement with a mysterious bar-girl (Shaw). I held out hope that this arrangement would explore the complex spectrum of human sexuality in the same vein as the 1994 romantic comedy, Threesome, but the filmmakers played things safe.

Throughout it all, Wei Lung and Shao-san train Tom in kung fu so he can better defend himself against angry shipping supervisors and asshole Triads. Meanwhile, Mr. Chien assembles his own trio of bad, nameless motherfuckers, respectively portrayed by Alexander Grand (Sideburns), Lee Hoi-Sang (Jug-Smasher), and Peter Chan Lung (Tiger Style). Allegiances shift, people change, and everyone is freaking out about money. A showdown is inevitable.

Despite my skittish disposition towards most Bruceploitation fare, this was a pleasant surprise. The film doesn’t do much to hide its iconographic nods. Even though his hair is more Bieber than bowl cut, Bruce Li’s character makes frequent references to his idol, has a Lee poster hanging in his room, reads his books, and is even regarded by Mr. Chien as a dangerous fighter because he “fights like Bruce Lee.” Sure he does, movie dialogue. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

I don’t know that 1977’s Soul Brothers of Kung Fu was the best place to begin in Carl Scott’s filmography, but it was definitely the earliest. He earns a strong supporting role here, with plenty of screen time and a performance nearly undone by one of the most horrific voice actor dubs I’ve ever heard. Fortunately, we’re not watching a Carl Scott movie to see him channel Sidney Poitier, and he conveys plenty of screen presence in his engagements with an eager and energetic Hong Kong stunt team in some good fight scenes. At times, he looks like an absolute world-beater. The Gents have discussed in past episodes how rare it was for gweilos to be able to hang with action players in golden-age Hong Kong, but Scott looks very much at home here and his fighting talent is undeniable.

Wading through the glut of 1970s kung fu cinema, let alone the output of second- and third-tier Hong Kong production companies, can be a cinematic minefield. Does this film rival stuff with the Shaw Brothers stamp? Is it Magnificent Butcher? Of course not, but when you’ve seen something as actively bad as Swordsman with an Umbrella and been burned by bargain bin multi-packs, a film like this is a happy accident. The exploitation elements were surprisingly strong too, as debuting director Yi-Jung Hua navigates from x-ray punches, organ gouging, and attempted rape to casual bloodletting and groin attacks. It should be said that not all of these elements revealed themselves on my first watch; after observing some confusing edits during the back-end “boss battles,” I discovered that the film had an uncut version floating around under the title Kung Fu Avengers (detailed here, be wary of spoilers). A simple rewatch of a few select climax scenes probably elevated this film a full point or more.

Make or Break: No matter which cut of the film you watch, the aforementioned sequence of boss battles is the stretch upon which your enjoyment of the film will likely hinge. If you see the Xenon
version, the herky jerky editing and jump cuts to nowhere will probably break the film into a hundred bite-sized pieces. The grisly conclusions in the uncut version, however, make for a satisfying film overall and provide logical extensions to the techniques we observe during training scenes earlier in the film.

Does the Film Have a Random Yuen Biao Appearance?: Yes, it has one.

MVT: I wish I could report that this was *the* Carl Scott film to see, but he’s underutilized here and the awful dubbing doesn’t help matters. Everything about this film is, at minimum, solid. Which is to say, not horrible. This makes it hard to single out any aspect as the most critical, but the fighting is probably the element closest to exceptional. All of the fighters, from Deadly Venom Meng Lo and Alexander Grand to Carl Scott and Feng Ku move well and throw convincing strikes, and the gore at the back end of the film helps to sell the stakes of each fight. The inventive training sequences added a nice visual touch as well. Dig it.
Score: 6.75 / 10

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Instant Action: Under Siege (1992)

I wore this videotape out as a young'un!

Written By: J.F. Lawton
Directed By: Andrew Davis

Steven Seagal is an interesting bird, especially in Under Siege as Casey Ryback. He's an anti-hero, but not in the traditional sense of the word. He's not anti-establishment, but he loves to cause trouble for those in and out of the establishment. Ryback is a trained killer, but he'd rather cook than kill. His fighting style leaves a lot to be desired as far as visual appeal is concerned. He appears to have no interest whatsoever in women, until the final moment of the film that is. He's not really heroic, he's more workmanlike than anything else. Ryback is a man doing his job, a job he believes only he is capable of doing. Then of course there is his seeming invulnerability, a trait that easily separates this character from most other characters Mr. Seagal has played.

I'll be honest right off the bat, I wore out a VHS copy of Under Siege as a kid. I can't tell you how many times I watched the movie as a whole, or the birthday cake scene in particular, but I know that one day I went to watch the tape and it had completely unspooled. Revisiting the film it's hard to put into words exactly what it is about Under Siege that I find so appealing. I recognize that it is a film with glaring flaws, but the entire package that is the movie overcomes all of those flaws. I'm sure there is a tinge of nostalgia to my continued love of Under Siege, but I do truly believe there's a pretty great action movie taking place.

Under Siege came out at a time when the obvious comparison for any action movie was to Die Hard. Mr. Seagal's film was labeled Die Hard on a boat. I can see the reason for that label, but I don't find that it completely fits. The invulnerability and aloofness of Ryback's character is the main reason the Die Hard comparison falls flat for me. John McClane is the everyman, a guy we believe we could share a beer with, and who we believe could die at any moment. Casey Ryback is a killing machine, one who we can't relate to on any sort of buddy level. The film tries to set him up as somewhat of a normal guy early on, but as soon as the killing starts it becomes clear that Ryback is as far removed from normal as a hero can get. His lack of vulnerability is at first a problem, but as the film progresses it becomes more of a film about how Ryback will win the day than whether or not he will win the day. Under Siege takes the opposite approach of Die Hard, it presents a hero who is extremely skilled, never in any real danger, and who mows down the enemy with relative ease while never quite seeming human.

The action in Under Siege is hard to quantify, it's awkward and nowhere near the type of action I usually prefer, yet it works. The knife fight between Ryback and Stranix is anticlimactic and doesn't really play well as a visually dynamic exercise in action filmmaking. There's no real tension to the scene, and there's never any doubt that Ryback will prevail. All of this should add up to a poorly constructed scene that lets the viewer down. That's not the case however as Andrew Davis goes so much with the fact that his main character is invulnerable that the scene is able to establish a different action dynamic. It's more important to watch Ryback prevail than it is for us to fear whether or not he will come out of the encounter alive. That scene informs much of what has come before and allows the clunky and almost visually unappealing action of the rest of the film to be seen in a better and far more kind light.

The world of Under Siege is also populated by a host of colorful supporting characters. We don't learn much of anything about said characters, but that doesn't stop Stranix or Krill from being very interesting to watch. We don't learn anything about the character of Colm Meaney's Doumer, but I'll be damned if I didn't find the lack of definition given to his character immensely interesting. In a way that describes Under Siege as a whole. It's not a completely formed film in a traditional action filmmaking sense. Yet, what happens during the film is interesting and manages to be an engaging experience in spite of the flaws contained within the film. Steven Seagal is not among my favorite action stars, but Under Siege is a great example of how he can deliver a borderline great action film because of his eccentric persona. Maybe my thoughts are clouded by foggy VHS dreams, but I still find Under Siege to be an eminently watchable action film.



Bill Thompson

Friday, February 21, 2014

Episode #275: Nightbeast and Lolly

Welcome to another glorious episode of the GGtMC!!!

This week we have another round of Kickstarter shows and we have brought Demise in for her pick Nightbeast (1982) directed by Dan Dohler and we also cover Shiftless Jeff's pick Lolly Madonna XXX (1973) directed by Richard C. Sarafian with a cast that is amazing to say the very least...

Direct download: ggtmc_276.mp3 
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Vindicator (1986)

The Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight was introduced in 1979 in issue #120 of Uncanny X-Men, but their leader was introduced individually a year earlier in that same comic’s issue #109.  Although more popularly known as Guardian in his team’s own title (which premiered in 1983), James MacDonald Hudson was actually first known as Vindicator (okay, Weapon Alpha if we’re picking nits) with his ass-kicking battle suit.  I have never disguised my outright love for Alpha Flight, and the first thirty-six or so issues are some of my favorite comics from the Eighties (possibly ever).  Now, Vindicator wasn’t my favorite member of the team (that would be Sasquatch), but he was remarkably different from other superheroes of the time (at least to my young mind) in that he was a scientist more than a man of action from the very outset.  This nature would mold how he led the team and ultimately shape his destiny.  

It’s a good thing the name Vindicator was changed, since, aside from sounding neat, it doesn’t pertain very much to the character.  The word vindicate basically refers to clearing an accused person’s name.  It has nothing to do with kicking ass, taking names, or battling supervillains.  As a codename, Guardian, on the other hand, fit Hudson well since part of his and Alpha Flight’s job was to guard Canada as a state-sanctioned superteam.  Funny enough, there was another, non-comic-related Vindicator out of Canada, and he is the titular character of Jean-Claude Lord’s The Vindicator (aka Frankenstein ‘88 aka Micro-Chip-Man).  Ironically, the moniker fits him slightly better than it does John Byrne’s four-color creation.  Slightly.

Evil corporate muckety-muck Alex Whyte (Richard Cox) and his evil scientist minions have finally completed work on a space suit which can be remotely controlled but inexplicably also has the built-in function of inducing primal rage in its wearer anytime anything touches them (how handy).  When good scientist (he wears jeans and a Hawaiian shirt to work) Carl (David MacIlwraith) raises a stink over where the money that’s been cut from his budget is going (three guesses), Carl quickly becomes a liability that has to be eliminated.  One laboratory explosion later, and Whyte now has a prime human test subject for his project (speedily and oh-so-covertly renamed Project: Frankenstein).  Unfortunately, there is an issue with the remote control unit that restrains the rage defense.  Oh, no!  That’s gonna leave a mark!

This is another one of those films where, if you were just told the plot, you would think it was lifting ideas wholesale from more successful American films, particularly Robocop, Darkman, and Universal Soldier.  You have a human scientist whose body is decimated in a deliberate “accident.”  You have a corporation’s conscription of said human’s body for their own project.  You have the project’s turning on his creators.  You have a human turned into a living weapon.  You have the idea of a man who pushes away the woman he loves because he no longer feels human.  And yet, this film was released one year before Verhoeven’s film, four years before Raimi’s, and six years before Emmerich’s.  Of course, it also has allusions to films like the much earlier The Colossus Of New York and the Frankenstein story in general, though of the two, I’d say it’s closer to the former than the latter.  Aside from the “playing God” angle, this film has absolutely nothing to do with Mary Shelley’s tale.  It’s just a convenient touchstone for the filmmakers to use strictly for its place in the public’s consciousness.  

After his transformation, Carl is supposed to embody the film’s pathos and provide its violent catharsis.  So, we have scenes like the one where Carl spies his reflection in a store window and pitches a wicked pity party.  This is alternated with scenes where Carl talks to his pregnant girlfriend Lauren (Teri Austin) though her synthesizer and avoids her seeing him because of his ugliness.  Then we have a scene where Carl bloodily tears through some bad guys.  Then we have a scene where Carl takes off his mask, notices his reflection in some water and pitches a wicked pity party.  And so on.  Now, I think an audience could accept one scene where the sight of his own deformity causes Carl to have a violent episode.  But two or more are simply earmarks for a sad sack character, and they’re tough to want to follow.  There’s also the idea that because someone looks grotesque they must behave grotesquely.  This works for the revenge/action scenes.  Lamentably, the emotional scenes don’t work as well, because Carl is so hellbent on being miserable while still trying to maintain contact with his lady, he comes off as dejected and little else.  Had Carl watched Lauren from afar, interceding on her behalf only as necessary, but never daring to make contact, this theme of the monster who feels undeserving of love would likely work better.  It wouldn’t necessarily be more original, but it would work better (it would also hew closer to Frankenstein, I think).

The one aspect of the film I like is the concept of Carl being literally desensitized.  He cannot feel pain or ecstasy (he lacks genitals in that regard, anyway).  If he is touched, he is programmed to respond with wrath, thus removing him from humanity even further.  He has become almost precisely a brain in a box.  And yet, he doesn’t even have complete control over that since he cannot completely command his body to do what he wants it to do.  And then, like almost everything else in the film, this intriguing plot device is negated utterly out of hand.  In fact, this film has got a whole lotta dumb (sing it to the tune of the Led Zeppelin song) going on in it.  Why would you give a synthetic being a rage defense mechanism activated simply by touch?  Lauren’s roommate Catherine (Catherine Disher) literally mocks her best friend only days after she has presumably buried the man she loves.  The bounty hunters (including Pam Grier as Hunter; get it?) are going to use vaporized acid on Carl (as if a strong breeze wouldn’t blow it back in their faces).  Hunter also seems to gain and drop her moral compass like a rabbit’s vaunted rate of intercourse.  A truck explodes immediately upon impact with a guard rail but before it plummets over a cliff (a classic, to be sure).  A corpse just shows up in a closet it would never have been within a million miles of just for a quick jump scare.  The score for the film’s finale made me think A.C. Slater was going to show up and bust a move at any moment.  I’ll save the very best of the dumb moments, because it’s pretty spoiler-y, but rest assured, if you watch this film, you’ll spot it in a heartbeat (although in fairness, you could very likely feel that some other dumb element is the most egregious, and you would still be right).  

All of this said, if I had seen this film as a fourteen-year-old boy, I would have loved a lot of it.  There’s some fun action.  Some of said action actually springs from some cool ideas.  There’s a little bit of nudity.  There are some sleazy bits.  Alas, the dumb moments, the moments that make you throw your hands up in despair, really overpower the moments that could have made this a better entry in the Sci-Fi/Action genre.  They did for me, at any rate.  The Vindicator isn’t detestable, but it’s not memorable either.

MVT:  The suit, designed by Stan Winston Studios, is pretty nice for a low budget film.  It looks a tad unwieldy, and it doesn’t appear to be very functional at all, but with the mask off, the facial makeup effects work fairly well.

Make Or Break:  The first kill scene with Carl versus some bikers is the Make.  The villains are classic cardboard thugs, and the justice meted out to them is satisfying while also being a nice step or two over the top.

Score:  5.75/10     

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Euro Horror: An Interview with Ian Olney

By Ben Buckingham

          After a long period of tertiary study I was feeling quite burnt out. I decided to get back on the horse sooner rather than later, deciding upon Ian Olney's EuroHorror: Classic European Horror Cinema in Contemporary American Culture as my first post-study reading material. It was the right choice. Published in 2013, Olney's book is an evocative & engaging read. I found myself becoming absorbed in it for hours on end. Though the book is firmly academic it does not speak down to its audience or become mired in dense theoretical brinkmanship. The writing is crisp & straightforward allowing for folks of all backgrounds to enjoy.
          His comprehensive analysis of the evolving relationship between academia & Euro horror places the reader in the midst of the complicated tug of war at the heart of cultural development. GGTMC listeners will recognise much of their own experiences in his discussion of both individual reception & fan communities. Olney is unafraid of acknowledging the value of their responses, placing them alongside the academics who have dominated discussions of what is acceptable & unacceptable culture for scholarly writings. This has been changing, & I hope that Olney's book will be recognised as an important step in this development.
          Along with the historical & theoretical context from which these films have sprung, & into which they have grown, Olney presents three fascinating case studies, examining giallos, S&M horror, & cannibal & zombie films. His perspective is refreshing, refusing the easy, knee-jerk reactions that can all too easily dominate criticism of such extreme cinema. His fan appreciation is expertly mixed with academic insight that is a pleasure to read & will forever adjust the way you consider these films. For example, I've never been a fan of Fulci's House by the Cemetary; having read Olney's fascinating & strikingly original reading of this film, I am eager to revisit & see it with different eyes.
          Additionally, if you are like me & enjoy the hunt for new information & perspectives on paracinema, then you will adore this book for its references. The bibliography is extensive & filled with a wealth of titles that will have you constantly referring to Book Depository & convincing yourself you can live on rice for the rest of the month.
          I pitched a few questions in Ian's direction & he was kind enough to respond with the following:

Ben Buckingham: As your book clearly indicates, the topic of Euro Horror is incredibly broad. How did you go about narrowing down your focus?

Ian Olney: The focus of Euro Horror is intentionally broad. I wanted the book to be the first comprehensive, holistic look at classic European horror cinema. I didn't want to confine myself to a particular national cinema or director or genre because the basic argument of the book is that Euro-horror movies share certain qualities across the board--regardless of who made them or where they were made--that make them unique and different from other horror movies (particularly American horror films). That said, it wasn't possible to discuss every Euro-horror film ever made, so after introducing my general theory of Euro-horror cinema in Part One of the book, I undertake the examination of several different popular genres of Euro-horror in Part Two as case studies: the giallo film, the S&M horror film, and the cannibal and zombie films.

BB: Aficionados of paracinema carry the strangest & least known films closest to their hearts. Are there any sub-genres &/or specific films which you could not fit in but wish that you could have, both well known examples & those long forgotten?

IO: There were two other genres I toyed with including but ultimately didn't because of space restrictions. One was the Euro-horror possession film, which I find fascinating and very different from its American and British cousins. The other is the necrophiliac film, which doesn't have an analogue in Anglo-American horror cinema at all, and may be (along with the cannibal film) the most taboo form of Euro-horror. Never fear, though: since publishing the book, I've been working in these two areas. I have an article on the mid-1970s Euro-horror possession film focusing on the contrast between The Exorcist and Jess Franco's Lorna the Exorcist appearing soon in the Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and I'm currently working on another essay on Barbara Steele and horror cinephilia that brings into play the focus on necrophilia that you find in so many Euro-horror movies. I might also mention that Antonio Lázaro-Reboll and I are in the very early stages of putting together what will likely be the first scholarly edited volume on Jess Franco!

BB: There is an abundance of academic writing on spectatorship theory when it comes to horror & paracinema, which can often feel like an overemphasis on the defence of a much derided subject. With the increasing acknowledgement of this subject in all walks of critical culture, do you think that this framework will continue to dominate interpretations? What do you perceive as valuable areas for further study in academia for the fields of Euro horror & paracinema?

IO: Spectatorship theory struck me as being a natural lens through which to view Euro-horror, but it is certainly not the only way of looking at these films. One related but separate approach that I'm just beginning to explore is through Cinephilia Studies. I'm fascinated by the ways in which these films activate and to a certain extent depend for their meaning on what Christian Keathley calls the panoramic gaze, and also offer a means of constructing alternate histories of film.

BB: Cannibal cinema has seen a significant resurgence in recent times, with much of it having a very European inflection; ranging from Hannibal on TV to upcoming Spanish film Cannibal, & independent & studio driven blockbusters Cloud Atlas & The Lone Ranger. What are your thoughts on the return of the cannibal & how it relates to your thesis?

IO: I see the explosion of cannibal programming on TV and film, especially in the U.S., as an extension of the anti-ethnographic impulse I discuss in my book. The appearance of Hannibal on television is a perfect example of this and the apotheosis of a trend dating back to the 1980s involving the celebration of the white cannibal in American culture. My argument is that this indicates not the disappearance of Western imperialism and colonization, but rather an admission (and embrace) of it in its contemporary forms. This is one of the reasons why it's important to return to an examination of the Euro-horror cannibal films and the (often subversive) politics of their representation of the black or indigenous cannibal.

Ben Buckingham on Twitter - @dissolvedpet
Euro Horror on Indiana University Press