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Il Sorpasso (Italian for "the overtaking"; English: The Easy Life) is a 1962 Italian cult movie comedy film co-written and directed by Dino Risi and starring Vittorio Gassman, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Catherine Spaak.


It is considered Risi's masterpiece and one of the more famous examples of Commedia all'italiana film genre.


The film starts in a hazy, sun-baked and seemingly empty Rome on an August morning during Ferragosto holiday. A young, timid law student, Roberto (Trintignant), gazing out his window, is asked for trivial favor, a phone call, by a 40-ish man named Bruno (Gassman), who is passing on the street below at the wheel of a convertible Lancia Aurelia.


The young man tells him to come up and make the call himself. After Bruno fails to contact his friends — he is running a full hour late for his meeting with them, something he apparently doesn't find a good motive for them to have "abandoned" him— he insists on repaying Roberto's courtesy with an aperitivo. Tired of studying for the day and falling prey to Bruno's enthusiasm, the young man accepts.


Thus begins a cruise along the Via Aurelia, the Roman road that also gives the name to Bruno's beloved car. Roberto is unwilling or unable to part from this casual acquaintance despite having almost nothing in common with him. Bruno is loud, brash, risk taking, a bit coarse and a braggart, to boot. He drives recklessly, speeding and constantly attempting "il Sorpasso" — the impatient and aggressive practice of serial tailgating and honking to overtake other cars on the road. But he is also charming and likable. And Roberto, being his complete opposite, feels drawn to Bruno's impulsive, devil-may-care attitude.


Over two days of highs and lows across the coasts of Lazio and Tuscany, the two men fall into various adventures while gradually managing to learn something of each other.


When, for example, the duo spontaneously drops in on Roberto's relatives, en route, the young law student suddenly realizes that his childhood wasn't as golden as he'd always imagined. And later he finds out about Bruno's failed marriage and young daughter, revealing a life not nearly as carefree as Bruno pretends to lead.


When this free-wheeling road-trip movie crescendos to its dramatic ending, the bonding and emerging friendship between the two men is cut short. Spurred on by a seemingly transformed Roberto, Bruno speeds while attempting to overtake another car on the blind curve of a cliffside road.


This risky maneuver results in a fatal accident. The younger man goes over a rocky cliff in the car, leaving a bloodied and shocked Bruno on the curve's edge. When a motorway cop arrives and asks Bruno for Roberto's last name, the survivor realizes he does not even know it.


The movie is considered as one of the best examples of Commedia all'Italiana. Film critics frequently acknowledge that the story offers a poignant portrait of Italy in the early 1960s, when the "economic miracle" (dubbed the "boom" — using the actual English word — by the local media) was starting to transform the country from a traditionally agricultural and family-centered society into a shallower, individualistic and consumeristic one.


The Roman customizer crew Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche dedicated a customized bike to the movie. They named a MotoGuzzi V11 cafe racer: "Sorpasso".


DINO RISI, the Italian writer-director known here only for "Poor But Beautiful" ("Poveri Ma Belli"), shown in New York five years ago, has improved immensely to judge by "The Easy Life" ("Il Sorpasso"), which arrived at the Festival Theater yesterday.


For his examination of an aimless wastrel and his destructive effect on an idealistic youngster and others, he merely touches on his flight from responsibility in a seemingly simple and obvious, yet sensitive commentary on what certainly are universal faults.


Call this a comedy-drama in which the comedy is only a surface symptom. Basically, Mr. Risi and his scenarists are telling the story of Bruno, a youthful but middle-aged happy-go-lucky type, who adores his fast white roadster as much as he does the girls and the self-indulgent life it symbolizes.


This is also the story of Roberto, an ill-fated serious, Caspar Milquetoast-type of Roman law student who is drawn, quite casually, into Bruno's swift orbit for two days during which he loses not only his perspectives and ideals but also his life.


It starts, quite innocently, when the older man, Bruno, is invited to use Roberto's phone and he cavalierly invites the young man out for a drink. It is summer and the only care Bruno seems to have is the next turn in the road and the next girl.


The breakneck journey takes the pair from one spa to the next, with each stop proving an intellectual jolt to Roberto, who slowly discovers that his companion is a cadger, a braggart and an iconoclast who is ready to expose even the skeletons in the closets of the relatives Roberto reveres.


And our hurtling hero is exposed also by his own estranged family and his shady deals so that even he intermittently admits his faults and his gnawing loneliness.


In creating this upper middle-class "La Dolce Vita," Mr. Risi has given us a quick jaunt through the Italian Riviera, as well as his perceptive views of life among the vacationing bourgeois. The views and the girls are extremely photogenic and the headlong dash toward fun and games would appear to be obvious and somewhat pointless if they did not add up to a dramatic whole.


But Mr. Risi's fast-paced direction and, more important, the truths he underlines, give his uncluttered film meaning and poignancy as well as mere speed. He is fortunate in his principals, too. Vittorio Gassman makes a superbly brash, coarse, hail-fellow-well-met Bruno who, in one of his rare moments of honest sadness, warns Roberto away from his "easy life" because "I've never had a real friend."


As the diffident, introspective Roberto, Jean-Louis Trintignant, who has been seen here in a variety of French films, is excellent as his opposite number, an impressionable youngster whose shame and fears finally turn to admiration of his strange friend's "easy life."


Catherine Spaak is both cute and wise as Mr. Gassman's teen-age daughter. Luciana Angiolillo, as his estranged wife who long ago discovered his frailties, is both handsome and forceful. And Linda Sini and Corrado Olmi, as Mr. Trintignant's rustic relatives, add touching portraits to an impressive gallery.


The English subtitles miss quite a bit of the earthy humor and patois of the Italian dialogue, but that is a minor defect. This unpretentious focus on "The Easy Life" results in compassionate and memorable drama.



It is a preposterous idea. Untold centuries ago, when all the world was a desert of wind-whipped, blood-orange sand, and leopards lounged lazily in barren trees and arrogantly ruled all they could see, a few members of the puny race of human beings made their own accommodation with the fearsome beasts.


They sacrificed their women to them. And the leopards did not kill the women, but mated with them. From those mists of prehistory, the race they created lives even today: The Cat People.


These people have had a hard time of it. They have the physical appearance of ordinary humans, except for something feline around the eyes and a certain spring in their step. They have all the mortal appetites, too, but there are complications when they make love, because in the heat of orgasm they are transformed into savage black leopards and kill their human lovers.


They should mate only with their own kind. But as our story opens, there are only two Cat People -- and, like their parents before them, they are brother and sister. This is the stuff of audacious myth, combining the perverse, the glorious, and the ridiculous. The movies were invented to tell such stories.


Paul Schrader's "Cat People" moves boldly between a slice-of-life in present-day New Orleans and the windswept deserts where the Cat People were engendered, and his movie creates a mood of doom, predestination, forbidden passion, and, to be sure, a certain silliness. It's fun in the way horror movies should be fun; it's totally unbelievable in between the times it's scaring the popcorn out of you.


Nastassja Kinski stars as the young sister, Irena. She is an orphan, reunited in New Orleans with her long-lost brother, Paul (Malcolm McDowell). She also is a virgin, afraid of sex and liquor because they might unleash the animal inside of her. (Little does she suspect that is literally what would happen.) She is tall, with a sensual mouth, wide-set green eyes, and a catlike walk.


She catches the attention of the curator at the New Orleans zoo (John Heard). He senses danger in her. He also senses that this is the creature he has been waiting for all his life -- waiting for her as the leopards in their cells wait, expecting nothing, ready for anything.


We have here, then, a most complex love triangle. Kinski fears her brother because she fears incest. She fears the curator but loves him. To love him is, eventually, to kill him.


The curator is in love with the idea of her threat, but does not realize she really will turn into a leopard and rend his flesh. There are some supporting characters: Annette O'Toole is the sensible friend who senses danger, and Ed Begley, Jr. is the lackadaisical custodian whose arm is ripped from its socket.


You shouldn't mess with leopards. Schrader tells his story in two parallel narratives. One involves the deepening relationships among the sister, the brother, and the curator. The other, stunningly photographed, takes place in an unearthly terrain straight from Frank Herbert's Dune books.


The designer, Ferdinando Scarfiotti, and the veteran special-effects artist, Albert Whitlock, have created a world that looks completely artificial, with its drifting red sands and its ritualistic tableau of humans and leopards -- and yet looks realistic in its fantasy. In other words, you know this world is made up, but you can't see the seams; it's like the snow planet in "The Empire Strikes Back."


"Cat People" moves back and forth between its mythic and realistic levels, held together primarily by the strength of Kinski's performance and John Heard's obsession. Kinski is something. She never overacts in this movie, never steps wrong, never seems ridiculous; she just steps onscreen and convincingly underplays a leopard.


Heard also is good. He never seems in the grip of an ordinary sexual passion, but possesses one of those obsessions men are willing (and often are called upon) to die for.


"Cat People" is a good movie in an old tradition, a fantasy-horror film that takes itself just seriously enough to work, has just enough fun to be entertaining, contains elements of intrinsic fascination in its magnificent black leopards, and ends in one way just when we were afraid it was going to end in another.



I had never really heard many half-snorts before. Snorts, yes, and silence. But what do you make of an audience that has no idea how to react? "Black Snake Moan" is the oddest, most peculiar movie I've seen about sex and race and redemption in the Deep South. It may be the most peculiar recent movie ever except for "Road House," but then what can you say about "Road House"? Such movies defy all categories.


The movie -- I will try to be concise -- stars Samuel L. Jackson as a broken-down blues musician and vegetable market gardener whose wife has just walked out. On the road leading to his property he finds the battered body of a young white girl, whose injuries hardly seem curable by the cough syrup he barters fresh vegetables for at the drugstore. The girl is Rae (Christina Ricci); it is no coincidence that Jackson's character is named Lazarus, and Lazarus determines to return her from near death or whooping cough, one or the other. No saint himself, he wants to redeem her from a life of sluttery.


His technique, with a refreshing directness, is to chain her to a radiator. Good thing he lives way out in the wilderness. Lazarus and Rae have no sex per se, but they do a powerful lot of slapping, cursing and chain-rattling, and the reaction of the blue-collar town on Market Day is a study. I think the point is that Lazarus and Rae somehow redeem each other through these grotesqueries, a method I always urge be used with extreme caution.


The performances are very good: Hell-bent for leather, and better than the material deserves, there is much hysteria and snot. The writer-director, Craig Brewer, made that other splendid story of prostitution and redemption, "Hustle & Flow," with its Oscar-winning song ("It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp") In fact, I pretty much enjoyed the whole movie, with some incredulity and a few half-snorts.


Both "Black Snake Moan" and "Hustle & Flow" are about neglected characters living on the fringe who find a healing in each other. Both movies use a great deal of music to illustrate the souls of their characters.


We sense that the girl has never been treated other than in a beastly manner, and that the man, having lost his wife, is determined not to allow sex to betray his instincts to do good. Yes, I think it is probably against the law to chain a drifter to a radiator, but in a sense these people exist outside the law, society and common or any kind of sense. Their society consists of the usual locals who seem clueless and remarkably unobservant, leading to remarkable non sequiturs.


There is another woman, the middle-aged pharmacist named Angela, played by the sweet S. Epatha Merkerson, to provide Lazarus an alternative to a life of sluts and tramps. But, as for Rae -- well, I gather that when compulsive nymphomania passes a certain point, you're simply lost.


After Rae says goodbye to her boyfriend Ronnie (played by pop star Justin Timberlake), who has enlisted in the service for cloudy reasons, she immediately falls to the ground and starts writhing as if under attack by fire ants. This is her way of conveying uncontrollable, orgiastic need. A girl that needy, you'd approach like Miss RoboCop.


I love the way that both Samuel Jackson and Christina Ricci take chances like this, and the way that Brewer creates characters of unbelievable forbearance, like Ronnie, who is in a more or less constant state of panic attacks and compulsion. And I like the understated way the rural Tennessee locations are used. You have never seen a movie like this before. Then again, you may not hope to. Some good blues music helps carry the day.


I heard some days after the screening that Jackson considers this his best performance. Well, maybe it is. He disappears into the role, and a good performance requires energy, daring, courage and intensity, which he supplies in abundance. Few actors could accomplish work at this level with this screenplay. As for Christina Ricci, she is the right actor for this role; she embodies this poor, mixed-up creature and lets you experience both her pain and her hope. Her work defines the boundaries of the thankless.


Black Snake Moan's Faux Provocation. It has been a clarifying year for young auteurs. Smokin' Aces showed Joe Carnahan as a flailing vaudevillian, Breach reinforced Billy Ray as a stolid analyst of true-life enigmas, now Black Snake Moan establishes Craig Brewer as a faux-provocateur and resolute wigger cineaste. His follow-up to Hustle & Flow continues the white-guy infatuation with the South as a heated canvas of music and black bravado, consistent not just thematically but stylistically: The low-angled camera which gave an upskirt view of Taryn Manning in Hustle has been expanded into a full tour of Christina Ricci's undies.


Brewer kicks off with Ricci and beau Justin Timberlake in a feverish bout of goodbye-sex as he's about to head over to the Army, he vomits in a toilet before leaving and she drops to her knees as his van pulls away; elsewhere in the same Tennessee burg, Samuel L. Jackson experiences a harsh parting of his own, losing his religion after being dumped by a two-timing wife. The fucking, the puking, the squabbling, everything is slathered with vivid, Elia Kazan-type physicality, one of Brewer's strengths --


Jackson pins his cuckolding brother on a pool table with a cracked beer bottle and wipes the blood from his hand on his white beard, while Ricci marches her itchy cooch into town, gets smashed at a beer keg party, and collapses out of the frame as the whole screen is drenched blue. The meeting of the two wounded creatures is arranged when Ricci is left battered and half-naked in a ditch near Jackson's place; he breaks her fever and, since she's a nympho who can't keep from diddling herself, chains her --


I literally mean chains her-- to his radiator, "I aim to cure you of yo wickedness."
"Ain't no cure for the blues like some good pussy," some barfly intones, and for a patch Black Snake Moan snaps and crackles with comic verve. The serpentine chain wrapped around Ricci's waist is a brazen joke that feeds on intimations of bondage, slavery, and kinky sex, richly flaunted in the confrontational poster; Jackson yanks the scrawny bobcat in heat into the living room, Ricci yanks back after stretching just enough to reveal the skin underneath her Dixie-adorned tanktop.


Had the atmosphere -- fraught with the tension of power plays and the still-taboo possibility of interracial sex -- been pushed further, the picture might have burned like Larry Cohen's Bone or Jane Campion's Holy Smoke, vehement comedies of cultural anxiety brought to the surface. But Brewer's provocation is hollow, so he hides unearthed raw nerves behind humdrum humanism, with any real danger safely circumscribed for viewers: The town slut just needs a bit of exorcism from a churchy father figure, the embittered blues singer just needs to tend to some wounds before being able to pick up his guitar again:


"Git yo shit together," the chaste healing is clinched as Jackson rasps out the title song with Ricci hugging his leg, Miss Daisy lives! (About Brewer's use of the blues -- footage of the legendary Son House opens the picture, but anybody who lets "Stagolee" be ad-libbed with mother fuckers" has about as soulful an understanding of the music's raunchy force as John Landis in The Blues Brothers.) The gal who at the outset flipped off the tractor looming behind her is "cured" into docility, and passed from one man to another, climactically. It's not so hard out here for a pimp, not in Hollywood.


The Black Snake Moan poster might be a tough sell in Hicksville, but the one for 300 should play like gangbusters -- an ecstatically sunburst vision of bodies being pushed off a cliff, "Prepare for glory" as ad copy. It's fascinating to watch the two back to back. An aestheticized massacre will always be less threatening than miscegenation in a society where violence is still more acceptable than sexuality, yet both pictures are equally neck-deep in racial and sexual tensions; the difference is that Snake flashes them like the floozy at the ballroom while 300 keeps them leashed like the athlete prior to the big game, or like the rifleman who inexorably goes postal.


Title: Spell
Director: Dulyasit Niyomgul
Stars: Wanida Termthanaporn
Genres: Horror
Country: Thailand
Language: Thai
Release Date: 11 September 2014 (Thailand)
Also Known As: น้ำมันพราย, Nam Man Prai


Plot: Namman Phrai (น้ำมันพราย, Spell) – Veteran director Dulyasit Niyomkul returns with this supernatural horror about a young woman (Vanida “Gybzy” Termtanaporn), who becomes possessed by the spirit of a pregnant women after her childhood friend Lek (Pramote Tianchaikerdsilp) uses a love potion made from burning a dead pregnant woman’s chin. It’s in 3D in some cinemas.Rated 18+


A monk/sorcerer is caught in customs with a strange vial, a love potion he claims. It gets into the wrong hands and soon poor Prae (played by Wanida Termthanaporn) is infected. She goes from sweet, shy office girl to a sex fiend. Somewhat literally since during sex she transforms into this monster (a "ghost" in the translation) that looks like a cross between a hag and a lamia.


The movie is a bit confusing in places, mostly because it is from Thailand and I think the translation was a bit off. Also I am not 100% that some scenes were cut out. The monster in this was a nice little shock the first time since I was not expecting it. The story is your basic morality play of "don't have sex, sex is bad, mkay?"


Though there is a neat little twist at the end. Nam Man Prai I guess means "love potion" or "love spell" in Thai. For games I guess a cursed love potion could turn whomever drinks it into a homicidal hag. All in all not a bad flick to start out October!


This woman is sexy, young, and playful, but she also happens to be possessed by demonic forces. Temptation turns deadly when an ancient artifact brings out a demonic, seductive force of evil.


Spell focuses on a young woman who is possessed by the spirits of pregnant women, as a result of being given a love potion made out of the dead pregnant woman’s chin.


The Thai title is "Nam Man Phrai,” which roughly translates to corpse oil. Unlike some of the films earlier in this list, there’s no comedy at all in this film. It’s all gore, dark visuals, and scary scenes. If you really want to be afraid, watch this film instead. Technically, we’re supposed to be scared of the ghosts and evil spirits, but in this case, several of the victims are perverted men, so this may be one case where you actually end up rooting for the evil spirit.



South of Hell is a 2015 American supernatural horror drama television series starring Mena Suvari. The series was ordered by WE tv with a straight eight episode pick up, with seven episodes airing back-to-back on November 27, 2015.


In Charleston, South Carolina, Maria and David Abascal are demon hunters for hire. In Maria's body resides a demon called Abigail, who feeds off the evil that Maria exorcises of others. As Maria does her job of vanquishing evil, she must find a way to exorcise Abigail out of her body. But getting rid of Abigail is not an easy task, as she finds it immensely appealing to reside deep within a conflicted soul such as Maria's.


Ti West, Rachel Talalay, Jennifer Lynch and Jeremiah Chechik have been tapped to direct individual episodes. The show's opening credits theme song is "Wild Side" by the band Cross My Heart Hope To Die.


Mena Suvari in an Eli Roth-produced demonic drama that's being dumped on Black Friday? It's gotta be good! It takes neither a TV critic nor a fortune teller to read the tea leaves on WEtv's South of Hell.


If you're a network with minimal experience in the scripted space and you give a splashy straight-to-series order for a supernatural horror drama from a prolific genre producer (Jason Blum) and an established genre director (Eli Roth) with a recognizable star (Mena Suvari), deciding to release all of the series at once — trimmed to only seven episodes — on the day after Thanksgiving counts as a vote of minimal confidence.


Based on two episodes, it's easy to see why WEtv had no particular clue what to do with South of Hell. Whatever WEtv's brand is, this isn't it, nor is it likely to open the network up to a future niche.


It isn't scary. It looks comically cheap at times. The performances range from inconsistent to fairly awful. And unless the Emmys open up a category for Outstanding Use of Multi-Colored Contact Lenses, it's unlikely to get any real respect.


But as a representative of a subgenre already prone to overflowing hokum draped in Spanish moss, smothered in grits and delivered with Southern accents learned from a "Hooked on Keanu Reeves" tape series, South of Hell at least gets credit for some so-bad-it's-funny silliness to go with a premise which really could have been shaped into something better.


The hook is tasty: Maria (Suvari) makes her money reading tarot cards and selling fake mystical trinkets at a Charleston flea market, but she's really a demon-hunter with a unique qualification: Maria is harboring a green-eyed demon named Abigail who enjoys nothing so much as munching on the souls of other demons.


Maria can barely control Abigail, which is where brother David (Zachary Booth) comes in. David is able to keep Maria's demon under control, but he can't control his own drug addiction. See how this works? It's a metaphor drowned in metaphorical gravy and then deep-fried in metaphorically scalding oil.


Created by Matt Lambert, South of Hell also features Bill Irwin as Maria and David's crazed cult-leader father, Lamman Rucker as a priest with a personal interest in helping Maria and Dexter veteran Lauren Velez as a mystery woman presumably hiding demons, metaphorical or otherwise, of her own.


In addition to Velez, the Dexter connection on South of Hell includes showrunner James Manos, Jr. and a voiceover that you badly want to slap across its disembodied face.


See, the reason the Dexter voiceover worked was that it came from the perspective of a perpetually ironic character who was always questioning his humanity. Dexter could utter cliches and they'd sound wry and reflective coming from Michael C. Hall.


Booth, however, cannot find any way to sell voiceover such as "The world's a hard place to face alone and old habits die hard, like a tune you just can't get out of your head" in any way that doesn't just sound like bad writing.


I get the desire, in a show this extreme, to have the POV be an unremarkable character, but there's a difference between unremarkable and a character who is too bland to respond to anything in an interesting way.


South of Hell's writers and directors — Eli Roth and Rachel Talalay in the episodes I've seen, with Jennifer Lynch, Jeremiah Chechik and Ti West to come — share a general lack of interest in the non-supernatural elements and characters in the series, and Booth and his performance are only the most


Rucker's in-the-know reverend is a wooden bore, Lydia Hearst is amusingly uncomfortable as an alluring belle and Maria's trailer-park neighbor (Drew Moerlein) snoozes through playing a character whose name probably should just be Beefcake instead of Dusty.


While the prospect of playing both Maria and demonic invader Abigail seems like it ought to be enticing for Suvari, her more general interpretation appears to be closer to miserable discomfort, which may be related to either those contact lenses or the strangeness of playing a possessed version of someone bringing a human version of themself to orgasm while sharing a couch. Yes, South of Hell is that kind of show.


It's also the kind of program that has a possessed child, again encumbered by wacky contact lenses, informing an adversary, "Bitch, I eat souls for breakfast!" which surely would be one of the most quoted TV lines of 2015, except nobody is going to watch South of Hell. And while he may or may not be incubating a malingering spirit of his own, Irwin's character gives the Tony-winning actor the chance to be hammy at a level that exceeds his oft-hammy career norms.


South of Hell only comes to life in the exorcism or demon-related scenes, which steal from William Friedkin's genre-defining classic with abandon and seem to rely heavily on people wrestling on walls or ceilings while simultaneously wrestling with their contact lenses. More advanced effects like a soaring horde-of-insects cam and something where demons seem to speak through prisoners as static are more rudimentary, but there's a chance they could be spruced up for air.


Even at moments of peak lunacy, South of Hell falls well short of what Ash vs Evil Dead is doing on a weekly basis on Starz. Presumably WEtv is dumping South of Hell post-Thanksgiving rather than the more justifiable post-Halloween to get distance from that Sam Raimi-produced success, as if this will be the perfect time for fans of Marriage Boot Camp, Braxton Family Values and Tamar & Vince to switch from unscripted to badly scripted horror.


Tenebre-1982 Release Date: 28 October 1982 Sub-Genre: Giallo Country of Origin: Italy Running Time: 110 minutes Director: Dario Argento Producers: Claudio Argento, Salvatore Argento Screenplay: Dario Argento Special Effects: Giovanni Corridori








Cinematography: Luciano Tovoli Score: Claudio Simonetti, Fabio Pignatelli, Massimo Morante Editing: Franco Fraticelli Studio: Sigma Cinematografica Roma Distributors: Titanus, Anchor Bay Entertainment, Arrow Video Stars: Anthony Franciosa, John Saxon, Daria Nicolodi, Christian Borromeo, Mirella D’Angelo, Veronica Lario, Ania Pieroni, Carola Stagnaro, John Steiner, Lara Wendel, Giuliano Gemma, Mirella Banti Mirella Banti, Marino Masé Suggested Audio Candy: Goblin Tenebre


“The impulse had become irresistible. There was only one answer to the fury that tortured him. And so he committed his first act of murder. He had broken the most deep-rooted taboo, and found not guilt, not anxiety or fear, but freedom. Any humiliation which stood in his way could be swept aside by the simple act of annihilation: Murder.”


I’ve love to spend just a few minutes inside Dario Argento’s gloriously contorted cranium. One imagines it would be painted in garish primary colors, be densely populated with impossibly beautiful women, and be laced with more than a dash of sickness. In over thirty years of divulging horror it has been Argento’s work that has shown most dominantly just how beautiful the macabre really can be when witnessed through the eyes of a visionary genius.


Like any filmmaker, there have been a few troughs amongst the peaks but, when you consider the apex here includes deep red rubies of Suspiria, Inferno and Profondo Rosso caliber, it suggests that a bad day at the office for Argento is still well worth putting in a shift for. While the aforementioned trinity are regularly referred to as the Italian maestro’s finest works; many still regard Tenebrae as his last complete masterpiece and some still cite it as his finest hour.


It’s a common misconception that his work has trailed off since and, to his detractors, I urge you to revisit Opera, Sleepless and the mad as a crate of squirrels Phenomena and try telling me that they are the works of a spent force. The fact us that Argento possesses that certain indefinable something that most filmmakers spend their lives attempting to emulate and it resides deep within his glorious frontal lobe.


Tenebrae ran into considerable strife with the BBFC during their 1983 clampdown and placed on the DPP’s infamous video nasties list, where it remained indefinitely. Laughably it was then released with its cover image of a woman with her throat cut obscured by a red bow. Although eventually re-released in 2003 with all cuts reinstated, it still remains banned in Germany to this day for some reason. How anyone could regard any of his films as reprehensible is beyond preposterous, let alone such a striking display of artistic impression as this, but the film’s voyeuristic stylings certainly haven’t helped its cause.


“Let me ask you something? If someone is killed with a Smith&Wesson revolver… Do you go and interview the president of Smith & Wesson?” Tenebrae actually came about as a result of Argento’s real-life trauma after he was stalked by a fanatical follower during a trip to the United States. It focuses on American mystery-thriller novelist Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa in a role originally intended for Christopher Walken), who arrives in Italy to promote his latest best-seller with his assistant Anne (Daria Nicolodi) and agent Bullmer (John Saxon) in tow.


Before he can so much as unpack his luggage, he is paid a visit from Detective Germani (Giuliano Gemma) and informed of a young woman found brutally murdered, with pages from his book stuffed in her mouth. To make his stay even more uncomfortable, it isn’t long before the killer strikes again and appears to be drawing inspiration from his literature.


The title Tenebrae derives from a Latin word meaning darkness which is ironic as much of the film is brightly lit. The striking primary colors of Suspiria and Inferno are nowhere to be seen, although deep red plays a significant part, never more so than during a recurring dream sequence where it provides stunning contrast against pale whites. This disparity is also evident for a number of the kills almost as though he is painting on canvas and, in true Argento style, his victims gaze at the camera for long drawn-out moments, implicating us all personally.


I believe it was this film that taught me just how beautiful an act murder can be, although I’d prefer not to be quoted on that one. Luciano Tovoli’s cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking and there is one magnificent and technically glorious tracking shot that beggars belief to this very day. Argento’s roving lens scales a victim’s home in one single seamless take, navigating walls and rooftops, and peering in through windows, using the Louma crane.


This scene took three days to shoot and, astonishingly, Argento was requested to remove it for the film’s American release. Thankfully he stuck to his guns. It just shows how much this film was misunderstood at the time although, more recently, it has started to gain the adulation it deserves. Another element of note is the fantastic synthesized score by previous Goblin members Claudio Simonetti, Fabio Pignatelli and Elsa Morante who reunited specifically for Tenebrae.


“We have eliminated the impossible. Whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”Tenebrae is far more of a conventional thriller than out-and-out horror film but has more subtext submerged beneath its surface than possibly any other of Argento’s works. Freudian psychology, suppressed childhood trauma, sexual deviancy, spectatorship and the fetishization of violence are all touched upon here. The sum of its masterful parts don’t always hang together in a cohesive whole but since when has Italian horror cinema concerned itself with cohesion anyhoots?


While undoubtedly giallo in a sense, there is a far more contemporary feel to proceedings than most of its brethren. Indeed, Argento breathes new life into a genre just starting to grow a little obvious at the time and that, my dear Grueheads, is the sign of a true visionary at work. Grazie per tutti i ricordi meravigliosi di Dario Argento.


As for the kills, well there are a number of particularly grisly dispatches including the infamous scene where a hapless belle has her arm extirpated from the elbow down via axe that provides Argento the opportunity to splash his deep red all over a pallid concrete canvas. Needless to say, he does so gleefully. Giovanni Corridori’s practical effects are excellent and there are a number of gory set-pieces spread across its runtime. Indeed, pound for bloody pound, Tenebrae may well be the most violent of all giallo. He also caters well for our craving for sins of the flesh proving, beyond reasonable doubt, that Argento really is the gift that keeps on giving.



Suspiria: Movie Review Release Date: February 1, 1977 Sub-Genre: Supernatural Country of Origin: Italy Budget: $13,000,000


Box Office:$1,800,000 (US/ Canada), ITL 1,430,000,000 (Italy) Running Time: 98 minutes
Director: Dario Argento Producer: Claudio Argento, Salvatore Argento


Screenplay: Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi Based on Suspiria de Profundis by Thomas De Quincey Special Effects: Germano Natali Cinematography: Luciano Tovoli Score: Goblin, Dario Argento


Editing: Franco Fraticelli Production Design: Giuseppe Bassan Studio: Seda Spettacoli Distributors: EMI (UK), Anchor Bay Entertainment (DVD), Blue Underground (UK), Magnum Entertainment (VHS), Nouveaux Pictures (Blu-Ray)


Stars: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosé, Barbara Magnolfi, Susanna Javicoli, Eva Axén, Rudolf Schündler, Udo Kier, Alida Valli, Joan Bennett, Margherita Horowitz, Jacopo Mariani, Fulvio Mingozzi Narrator: Dario Argento (uncredited) Suggested Audio Candy:


“Broken Mirrors, Broken Minds” How does a ten-year-old boy even attempt to process a film such as Suspiria? That was precisely my age when I received my formal introduction to Dario Argento’s surreal nightmare. Did I understand what was playing out before my eyes?


I certainly had a vague idea but, as the end credits rolled and I shuffled off to my bed for further reflection, I don’t think I yet realized the magnitude of my undertaking. It wasn’t the first horror film I had watched but it was perhaps the first to throw up far more questions than it was willing to provide the answers for.


I may have been too wet behind the ears to reach inside and grasp it by its beating heart, but I certainly couldn’t shake its shadow from the darkest recess of my room as I laid my head down. If Argento’s movie taught me one thing then that was the immense power of avant garde cinema.


Thirty years down the line and still I struggle to think of a film quite as effortlessly macabre and cerebral. I’m used to movies getting under my skin and, at thirty-one, have had more than enough experience of the grotesque.


However, few pieces of art are quite as individual as Suspiria, and the only other example I can think of is Inferno, which also happens to be the second in his Mother of Tears trilogy. As fantastic as that film is, and as monumental as its underwater ballroom scene is, it’s not the ballet school.


I never much cared for ballet and would imagine that has something to do with the fact that Argento paid my nightmare tuition fees and I turned up there every night like clockwork until the age of fifteen. To be fair to Dario, Goblin are just as culpable.


Again, how does a ten-year-old boy even attempt to process their nightmarish renditions?
Just the name Dario Argento is enough to strike fear into most mortal hearts. Over the past forty years, this man has been a true innovator in his chosen field; inside of whom is a great artist and tortured soul both frantic to get out.


This is the man who harbors a peculiar obsession with his own daughter, the stunning Asia, to the point that he casts her unclothed in many of his works. Clearly this man has some unresolved childhood traumas wired in there with that embarrassing wealth of twisted raw talent and therein lies the key to his eminence.


You see, few can channel their anguish in quite such an exclusive manner and, while his later work may lack a certain artistic flair evident in his most prolific period, he is still dedicated to expressing himself deep into his seventies.


In many ways, he’s like horror’s own Woody Allen. If that is so, then Suspiria would be his Annie Hall. Dario was not content with helping to pioneer the Italian horror insurgency, not to mention weighing in with some classic giallo heavyweights and spearheading the charge for their very own cinematic progeny.


He wasn’t satisfied with being known for this alone and decided he wanted to probe deeper into the vaults of people’s deepest dread and insecurity. Not only this but it was clear to him that his knack for staging terrifying floor shows and striking broad bloody strokes across his canvas, was wasted unless he explored more unearthly inspirations.


He had to go deep and Profondo Rosso revealed a man already teetering over his own worst imaginings but for Suspiria he finally took that leap and squared up to his demons. For any freshmen, Suspiria is a blood-drenched fairy tale of a coven of witches masquerading as a prestigious German dance academy.


Argento’s stimulation come from fables told by the grandmother of fellow screenwriter Daria Nicolodi, who allegedly fled from a German music academy herself because necromancy was being surreptitiously practiced there.


American student Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives in the dead of night and torrential rain looking to enroll in one of the most magnificent opening scenes from the entire annals of horror. Shadows whisper, the incessant rain appears to be conferring too


and all the while Goblin are tapping at the doors of our mind, laughing grimly as they do. Their score was played at full volume on-set to needle the cast and extract truly fearful performances from them. It’s a truly hellish piece of music.


One of the factors which Suspiria is celebrated for is its exquisite production design and lurid coloration. Argento uses striking primary tones, red in particular, to filter the fear through and cinematographer Luciano Tovoli works with his vision beautifully to create an insular hell hole unlike any other.


Tovoli was advised to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs beforehand and to then remodel the color scheme. In addition, it was the first Italian film to make use of Steadicam, so it is visible just how invested he was to creating something truly commemorative.


His passion bleeds through the deep reds and his own cold terror dances around the somber blues also providing a banquet for the retinas. Naturally, it also features beautiful women, another ever-present and, to be fair, not totally exclusive with this particular Italian stallion.


A population of highly sexed alpha-males demanded no less than a quota of at least one siren-like beauty to accompany their linguine and Dario gleefully obliges. Harper had impressed him so much with her turn as Phoenix in Brian De Palma’s Phantom of The Paradise that he snapped her up on the quick and those large peepers captivate between every blink.


Every time she sleeps, Argento’s roving lens goes walkabout and we are given advanced warning as to what kind of hideous acts play out each night while her aching body heals. The rest of the time we’re Suzy’s spotters and she conveys her horror magnanimously throughout.


Argento also pushes the envelope here in terms of the beautiful bright red stuff. Profondo Rosso had already ruffled a few feathers and the censors were starting to sit up and take notice. His solid giallo Tenebrae was destined to land him in the dock for its notorious arm dismemberment


but just how any censor could dare touch this man’s scientific art is a concept I will never be comfortable with. Suspiria has a suitably atmospheric and grisly opening. Actually, I feel that this is doing it an injustice. The opening drips ominous darkness like a leaky faucet.


His use of audio, silence as much as score-driven, instantaneously whisks us away into a small corner of his splendidly deranged psyche and pins us down, forcing us all to take in the sublime beauty in his beast.


It doesn’t stop there though…oh no! Dario hasn’t finished with us yet. Suspiria features many distressing instances throughout its duration and, for each, he uses a different shade in his wide palette to apply that distorted genius.


The witches are hinted at rather than shown for the main part and this benefits the experience substantially. Without always looking toward visceral shocks and cheap jump tactics to achieve his desired effect, he is enabled to focus on taking that scene further into his own mind, where the limitations are considerably reduced.


One particular standout scene featuring a vortex of barbed wire, set against a striking blue backdrop, draws out the tension for a number of minutes and you feel your insides tangling up like our onscreen fly in her proverbial web.


A popular saying has always been that “you are your own worst enemy” thus, should you feed your brain ninety minutes of his phantasm, then said mind may well play cruel tricks on you for weeks afterwards. Both haunting and beautiful in equal measures, Suspiria has become known, not for its wayward narrative but for the delightfully composed set-pieces, brimming with vivid coloration


and accompanied by strings of torment. Currently Luca Guadagnino is set to attempt the long-rumored remake intended for release in 2017. Should this actually come to fruition, then he may just be the bravest man on the planet, and I wish him well with such an unenviable task.


After all these years and so many subsequent views, there still isn’t any other film that I’m aware of that is quite like it. For The Grue-Guzzlers: The wonderfully horrific opening features plenty of Argento’s delicious deep red alongside some truly affecting imagery.


However, Dario’s gory set-pieces are drip fed and so stunningly composed that it becomes hard to refer to it as actual grue. My fascination for sanguine fluids actually stemmed from watching Suspiria for the first of many times.


Goddamn, I owe this man a mochaccino. If that’s what it takes to get a shot at Asia.



Inferno : Release Date: February 7, 1980 Sub-Genre: Supernatural Country of Origin: Italy Budget: $3,000,000 Running Time: 107 minutes Director: Dario Argento Assistant Director: Lamberto Bava Producer: Claudio Argento, Salvatore Argento, Guglielmo Garroni


Screenplay: Dario Argento Narrator: Dario Argento Special Effects: Germano Natali Visual Effects: Mario Bava (uncredited)Cinematography: Romano Albani Score: Keith Emerson Art Direction: Giuseppe Bassan Editing: Franco Fraticelli Studio: Produzioni Intersound Distributor: 20th Century Fox, Anchor Bay Entertainment, Blue Underground, Arrow Film Distributors Stars: Leigh McCloskey, Irene Miracle, Eleonora Giorgi, Daria Nicolodi, Sacha Pitoëff, Alida Valli, Veronica Lazar, Gabriele Lavia, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., Leopoldo Mastelloni


I figured it is high time I revisit one of the more avant-garde classics of horror modern cinema. It simply had to be Dario Argento as few can boast of blurring the lines between horror and fine art so effortlessly as he. He’s the closest we have to our very own Vincent Van Gogh and, during his most flush period around the turn of the eighties, was creating the kind of brush strokes most filmmakers could only ever dream of. The work I am about to place under the microscope was incredibly divisive back on its release in 1980 but time has been kind to Inferno and it is now given the respect it so richly deserves.


Unquestionably flawed and amounting to little more than a collection of beautifully shot set-pieces to the untrained eye, it is also one of his most ambitious ever films. Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy inaugurated in 1977 with the undebatable masterpiece Suspiria inspired by Thomas de Quincey’s Suspiria de Profundis and wouldn’t be concluded until forty years later with the largely misunderstood Mother of Tears but its inter-joining fable opts for an entirely different approach to storytelling by opting for visual mastery over any form of notable linear narrative structure whatsoever.


To aid Argento in creating his sumptuous visuals, he enlisted the talents of Mario Bava, whose keen eye for detail assisted him no end with his transcendent revelation. Sadly, Bava passed away shortly before the film’s release but I’m sure he would have been more than satisfied by the results of their collaboration as Inferno both looks and plays out like a dream. As with Suspiria before it, the palette of colors used is fundamental to the unsettling surreal ambiance which is evident throughout, with Keith Emerson’s haunting score expertly adding an extra layer of consternation to proceedings.


This time the central focus is the second of the Three Mothers, Mater Tenebrarum, and our story begins in New York where poet Rose Elliot (Irene Miracle) has come across ancient scriptures denoting the whereabouts of Tenebrarum’s evil blueprints for demonic devastation. Convinced that the building she occupies is in fact the configuration she reads about, her investigations lead her to a subterranean vault where a sunken cavity awaits. Now, while Argento has given us many fantastical moments of optical


enchantment over his long career, I would be hard pushed to select one more beguiling, enchanting, tantalizing and, in turn, oppressive than the ballroom scene of the opening act here. There simply aren’t sufficient adjectives to sum it up and Argento wholly succeeds in leaving his audience as breathless as his inundated maiden. He draws it out for as long as he possibly can and, like Rose, we are desperate to come up for precious air.


Lighting plays an integral part in its ambiance, as does that delirious score. Ingeniously veiled light sources dance off the water creating different hues of Argento’s vivid insignia. Indeed, the director very near burned himself out creatively making Inferno (a bout of Hepatitis certainly didn’t help either), and it’s no small wonder as instances such as this are beyond breathtaking. I would even go as far as to list the underwater ballroom incident in the ten most magnanimous of horror history which, considering the shortlist, is high praise indeed.

It isn’t this extended moment of exquisite aquatic artistry alone though, far from it. A Roman university lecture amphitheater is also used to incredible cinematic effect and, even in such an imposing architectural structure, he is never once overawed and the precision in his craft shows an intricacy few filmmakers will ever possess and that’s all filmmakers, not just those who dabble in the macabre.


Meanwhile, the art direction and production design are simply off the scale and lend an ethereal mood to Inferno unlike any other movie in existence. It’s fruitless attempting to pick holes in the admittedly flimsy narrative structure when your eyes are being made love to constantly for 107 minutes but ultimately this is the only thing separating this from the likes of Suspiria. Granted, that film was hardly brimming with logic but it felt more measured with regards to storytelling and this is deemed largely redundant in the grand scheme of things here.


However, that’s not to say there isn’t a plot to follow and it primarily centers around Rose’s brother Mark (Leigh McCloskey) who catches the next available flight out of Rome to piece together any clues left upon her sudden disappearance. The role was originally intended for James Woods but previous commitments with David Cronenberg’s Videodrome prevented his involvement and McCloskey does his level best to make sense of something the audience are just as clueless about.


Argento’s muse at the time and frequent collaborator Daria Nicolodi also pops up in a minor role as Countess Elise but, alas, while we’re still marvelling at her perfectly proportioned deep red-painted toes, she is sent packing to the sidelines as is sadly too often the case in Argento’s films.


Other characters are largely superfluous to proceedings and seemingly exist only to deliver to our next moment of dread and horror. Once our beleaguered hero learns of the building’s dark secret, we are supplied the Inferno of the title but, regardless of all its fire and brimstone, it never capitalizes on our fear quite as effectively as its distinguished precursor did previously.


That said, it’s certainly not lacking in the panache stakes and is still a fittingly pressure cooker finale. As for the picture on the whole, Suspiria is still my personal darling and the reason for this is its more intricate framework. However, there can be no doubting the technical prowess on exhibit and, once again, Argento’s vision is one which exists only in the deepest sanctums of our subconscious, which is precisely why he evokes such unanimous reactions from his audience.


It’s a tour de force of devastatingly haunting imagery and, technically, on entirely another level to any other horror movie of its time. Sure it makes less sense than a Pauly Shore monologue but, when the end product is so beautifully crafted, I’m more than happy to take each inevitable rough edge with its smooth compatriot. For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: It is of eternal bewilderment to me why the DPP completely overlooked this film’s magnificent artistic broad strokes to focus on the supposedly ghastly bloodletting.


Inferno featured on the nasties list until 1985 but when it did eventually see the light of day in 1987 it was over four minutes lighter. Long since restored, truth be known it isn’t nearly as grisly as we were led to believe and it’s hard to fathom why the censors took exception to this as opposed to Suspiria but a dash of animal cruelty likely didn’t help it cause. That’s not to say there isn’t plentiful profondo rosso on the table. Throats are stabbed clean through, shards of broken window glass used as makeshift guillotines, eyes gouged, rats fed and bodies burned until extra crispy.


However, for Keeper, a single instance resonates over all others. One unfortunate female victim receives a knife to her lower spine and the acoustic of said blade making contact will haunt my dreams perpetually. As for sins of the flesh, Argento shows an unusual amount of restraint and the closest we come to bare flesh is a sodden blouse. On the plus side, Irene Miracle’s perky pink pellets are every bit as miraculous as her birth name and almost warrant a token credit all by themselves.


Mother of Tears (2007) Release Date: 31 October 2007 (Italy), 6 June 2008 (United States) Sub-Genre: Supernatural Country of Origin: Italy/United States Budget: $3,500,000 Running Time: 102 minutes Director: Dario Argento Producers: Dario Argento, Claudio Argento, Marina Berlusconi, Giulia MarlettaScreenplay: Dario Argento, Jace Anderson, Adam Gierasch, Walter Fasano, Simona SimonettiBased on Suspiria de Profundis by Thomas De Quincey Special Effects: Sergio Stivaletti


Visual Effects: Lee Wilson Cinematography: Frederic Fasano Score: Claudio Simonetti Editing: Walter Fasano Studios: Medusa Film, Opera Film Produzione, Myriad Pictures, Sky Cinema, Film Commission Torino-Piemonte Distributor: Medusa Distribuzione Stars: Asia Argento, Cristian Solimeno, Adam James, Moran Atias, Valeria Cavalli, Phillipe Leroy, Daria Nicolodi, Coralina Cataldi Tassoni, Udo Kier, Clive Riche, Massimo Sarchielli, Silvia Rubino, Jun Ichikawa, Luca Pescatore, Tommaso Banfi, Paolo Stella, Barbara Mautino


It can be troublesome returning to a beloved franchise after a lengthy lay off. Francis Ford Coppola learned the hard way and, while The Godfather: Part III brought no real shame to the game, it simply couldn’t hope to hold a candle up to its celebrated predecessors. There were sixteen years between Coppola’s second and third entry and that is nothing to the twenty-seven canyon between Inferno and Mother of Tears. When Dario Argento announced a return to his Three Mothers Trilogy it caused a great deal of excitement within horror circles although there was also a fair level of trepidation from doubting Thomases.


Both Suspiria and Inferno were showcases for Argento at the very top of his game and it was already clear at this point that he was unlikely to be able to repeat the feat a third time. His output during the interim had been decidedly mixed and, for many, the last truly great Argento picture had come way back in 1987 with Opera. To add even more pressure, Inferno damn near finished him off creatively and was one of the hardest films he ever had to make. Delving once more into Thomas de Quincey’s Suspiria de Profundis for inspiration, Mother of Tears concludes the trinity by introducing the most beautiful of the three mothers, Mater Lachrymarum. Argento and Daria Nicolodi actually started working on this as far back as 1984 but, after their turbulent relationship ended a year later, so too did their hopes of it bearing fruit.


It was almost two decades before Argento decided to give fans their conclusion and took another four for it to reach completion. The script underwent a number of rewrites and eventually he recruited Jace Anderson and Adam Gierasch to help thrash out a final draft. In some respects, it presented a refreshing challenge for the Italian maestro as it allowed him to use retrospect and approach the story with a fresh pair of eyes. However, his filmmaking style had changed considerably by the turn of the millennium, and folk had begun to grow critical of any fresh venture.


Mother of Tears is truly a bizarre little movie. Confused, convoluted, and often incoherent, it is also one of the most effortlessly enjoyable of his many works. Narrative was never his primary concern and neither Suspiria or Inferno concerned themselves with making a great deal of sense so it should come as no surprise that his third outing is borderline unhinged from its very foundations. However, at no point during its 102 minute running time did I find myself losing faith, despite regularly feeling as though the blind were leading the blind. This is Argento at his most unrestrained and who cares if it makes little to no sense when it moves with the pace of a methed-up ferret. Meanwhile, Claudio Simonetti’s grand score echoes Jerry Goldsmith’s ominous composition from The Omen and that can only ever prove a distinct positive.


We begin with members of the Catholic Church unearthing a casket containing the remains of a 19th-century church official, with a mysterious urn chained around it and artifacts belonging to the last surviving member of the notorious Three Mothers, Mater Lachrymarum. It is promptly shipped off to the Museum of Ancient Art in Rome where American art restoration student Sarah (Asia Argento) unwittingly unleashes the evil pent-up within and things soon turn awry for the wide-eyed girl and her curator boyfriend Michael (Adam James). After one of her colleagues suffers an unimaginable death at the hands of demonic cult members and an unexplained crime spree commences around the streets of Rome, it is left to Sarah to attempt to unravel the mystery before all hell literally breaks loose.


She soon realizes that the part she plays is more significant than initially feared and she receives her very own spirit guide in the ethereal form of her deceased mother Elisa (Nicolodi). She cannot hope to survive the onslaught of Satan’s little helpers without special powers and it doesn’t take Sarah long to realize that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Mommie dearest was a powerful white witch who almost toppled the eldest of the Three Mothers, Suspiriorum before being killed in a road accident along with Sarah’s father. Thanks to her new-found ability to turn invisible, she manages to stay one step ahead of the game whilst locating an alchemist and tooling up for the thankless task ahead.


Clearly Lachrymarum isn’t going to make it easy for her so she sends out a rowdy cluster of cackling punk rock minions and a savage gibbon to put the skids on her opposite number. Think of the demented chimp from Phenomena, then widen its mean streak considerably and you should be in the right ball park. Everyone Sarah comes into contact with seem to meet grisly ends and even Michael is a shadow of his former self as the Third Mother is now pulling his strings. There is no end of incident in a second act as bat-shit crazy as anything Argento has dreamed up over his long and lustrous career. If the cart feels as though it may career from its tracks at any given moment, then rest assured this is par for the course when the master is at the helm, albeit with Anderson and Gierasch attempting to rein him in.


He is assisted, in no small part, by his daughter who gives an energetic turn as our beleaguered lead. It is easy to see why he chooses her supple shoulders to rest the burden and she carries it decidedly well throughout. Her character may be a tad uneven but she more than makes up for any inconsistency with unquestionable enthusiasm and plays damsel in distress with the same conviction as a rabbit caught in the crosshairs of oncoming headlamps. Dab hands Udo Kier, Coralina Cataldi Tassoni and Philippe Leroy appear in cameos and James is perfectly cast as Sarah’s panic-stricken bedfellow.


After a disquieting voyage of discovery most harsh, the desperate Sarah manages to locate Mater Lachrymarum’s lair in the catacombs beneath a decrepit Gothic mansion and commences her search and destroy mission. The final flurry is typically nightmarish and packed tight with all manner of debauchery and sacrificial plundering. As our heroine explores the mansion in a single protracted steadicam shot, we begin to see flashes of Argento past, while Frederic Fasano’s cinematography focuses more on cold, naturalistic tones brimming with light and shade as opposed to the vivid Technicolor hues of both Suspiria and Inferno. It’s entirely off its rocker and precious little will make sense by the time Mother of Tears hurtles towards its conclusion but this is no different from any other work from his expansive oeuvre.


This is where we are required to forgive any discrepancies as a lot has changed in the twenty-seven years between his second and third fables. Its foibles, of which there are admittedly many, are somewhat charming and, three decades back, nobody would have batted an eyelid. However, expectation can be damning to a film such as Mother of Tears as is the reputation which precedes it. I fully expected a mess of gargantuan proportions and got precisely that but that didn’t stop me enjoying the bloody hell out of it. All things considered, it provides a fitting end to the trilogy, and is a lot more comfortable rubbing shoulders with its forerunners than we have been led to believe.


Hindsight is a glorious thing and it is here that Argento’s Three Mothers swan song reveals its tantalizing spread of tail feathers. Just speaking about it now has reminded me just how utterly transfixed I was throughout and it already begs for a repeat view. Logic is superfluous to requirements as you’ll find


scant rationale to anything presented here. However, taken in the correct context, and setting aside any predisposal to pick holes for a moment, it provides suitably non compo mentis closure to a certifiable triage of terror. Of all of his post-Opera output, this is the closest we have come to classic Argento and that is something to damn well celebrate in my book.


For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Attempting to begin here is akin to threading a needle after a litre of Fireball. Sergio Stivaletti’s practical effects are easily amongst the most hideous Argento has ever devised and, a little questionable CGI aside, there is a veritable smorgasbord of gushing grue and some remarkably vicious dispatches, even by his standards. Restraint is little more than ten Scrabble points here and everything is shown up-close-and-personal in lurid detail with impish glee. Suspiria and Inferno were no slouches when it came to the splatter but Mother of Tears trumps them hands down…combined!


The crimson glugs from every orifice, with standouts being the grotesque opening kill and a cringe-inducing vaginal penetration via wooden spear which culminates in an orgasmic spurt of satisfyingly deep red as the sharp end vacates its victim orally.


There is so much more besides but one of the most decadent moments comes when a mother nonchalantly disposes of her swaddled infant from a tall bridge and we watch its descent in humor-laced horror as the child bounces off a girder en route to its watery demise. With regards to carnal delights, Dario once again reminds us how well put together his daughter is and the Mater herself is shown in all her luscious glory as she delights in her second coming.



Marc Levie's THE PRAYING MANTIS (LE FESTIN DE LA MANTE) begins with the reminder that "for the praying mantis, killing the mate is part of survival." As Sylvia, a human praying mantis, actress Lou Boclain gives the best erotic performance as a non-human since Nastassja Kinski in CAT PEOPLE. But when she's not naked, it's the movie rather than her mate that's dead. This sensuous fairy tale for adults involves Sylvia and her two prey, Julien (Yann Chely), her cellist boyfriend, and Patrick (Sacha Kollich), the daredevil who pursues her like a wild animal only to find himself as the catch.


When Sylvia feels the devil -- or whatever it is -- coming over her, she banishes Julien from her bed. Trying to be the original alpha male, Patrick quickly takes his place. At first he thinks he has died and gone to heaven. He is having great sex with a gorgeous woman in her beautiful estate. What more could he ask? Safe sex would be one.


Sylvia is very physical in bed, biting lips, using her nails like ten sharp knives and choking her guys until they turn blue. THE PRAYING MANTIS has a lot in common with snuff films with the chief distinction being the high level of the production values. THE PRAYING MANTIS is sumptuously set and filmed. It's too bad that they couldn't have found more interesting things to say or do when not running around naked.


THE PRAYING MANTIS runs a long 1:36. The film is in French with English subtitles. It is not rated but would be R for sex, nudity and violence and would be acceptable for older teenagers. The film was shown as part of San Jose's Cinequest Film Festival (www.Cinequest.org), which ran March 3-14, 2004


While driving through the south of Belgium, the violoncellist Julien meets the mysterious and gorgeous Sylvia on the road and he immediately has a crush on her. They move together to his huge house and Julien builds a greenhouse for Sylvia in the field of his real state, where becomes her favorite place. One day, Sylvia has a strange behavior with Julien and asks him to stay alone at home.


When Julien leaves the house, she goes to a construction nearby her property and brings to her house the daredevil biker Patrick that is working in the building, playing erotic games with him. When Julien returns home, he surprises the couple having sex and the upset Julien leaves the place, going to the house of his friend and also musician Jean. But Julien is consumed by his passion for Sylvia, and when she tells him that she loves him, he understands her predatory need of life force of her mate.


Title: Le Festin De La Mante
Release Date: March 10, 2004
Runtime: 96 mins
Genre: Romance
All Genres: Romance, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Languages: French
Country: Belgium


Marc Levie
Lou Broclain ...Sylvia
yann Chely ...Julien
Sasa Nikolic ...Patrick (as Sacha Kollich)
Adele Jacques ...Claudine
Hugues Hausman ...Alain
Michel de Warzee ...Georges
Serge Swysen ...Jean
Renaud Boucquey ...L'homme du cimetiere
Samuel Lemaire ...L'homme a la caleche
Stephane Shoukroun ...L'homosexuel (as Stephane Schoukroun)
Felix Verbist ...Le cure
Ulysse Waterlot ...Le chef d'orchestre


Frederic Chanteux
Marc Levie
Marc Levie
Erik Vandebosch
Laurent Mersch
Ulysse Waterlot


'At the end of the copulation, the praying mantis eats its partner.' By Jean-Henri Fabre, 1823-1915 this fantasy film of love, sacrifice and the hunt tells the story of a beautiful woman who is cursed with the instinct of a praying mantis. The growing force inside her compels her to go on the hunt for a man to consume. Although terrified, she will do anything to keep the man she loves from death including searching for a young man willing to give his life for her.


Julien’s intensely romantic relationship with the mysterious Sylvia unravels when she senses the instinct of a praying mantis growing inside her. Terrified and unwilling to harm the man she loves, Sylvia searches for another lover, and the result is an engaging exploration of the connection between eroticism and self-sacrifice.


Director Marc Levie tempers fantastic images with familiar psychological insights. Sylvia’s lovers represent opposing sides of the masculine psyche: the faithful and sensitive Julien set against the risk-taking womanizer Patrick.


Similarly, Sylvia, who moves effortlessly between tenderness and cruelty, illustrates the extremes of the feminine personality. A perfect blend of the ordinary with the extraordinary adds incredible depth to this.


The supporting cast and the principle actors - Lou Broclain (Sylvia), Yann Chely (Julien), and Sacha Kollich (Patrick) - give moving performances, making each moment true to life, despite the story’s mythic narrative.


These performances combined with the poetic vision of Marc Levie and Michel Van Laer’s lush renderings of the French landscape make The Praying Mantis an unforgettable experience.


A rather off-beat delight from Belgium, Praying Mantis seemingly starts in a merely quirky manner before fully morphing into a somewhat chaotic supernatural story. Admittedly I didn't realize there were supernatural themes before seeing the movie but having them come as a surprise probably added to the story which is, at face value, simple enough: a man meets a strange woman on the side of the road, takes her home and they start a relationship of sorts.


But she is not what she seems and despite an obvious affection for him rebuffs his sexual advances only to accept a rogue into her 'bed' instead. But who is the real predator here? Well of course SHE is.


Although the film fails to make a lot of things clear and leaves a number of questions unanswered, the overall storyline is quite compelling as it really is an exploration of people's emotions and their reactions to their desires and love.


From the besotted 'hero' willing to give up everything even once he discovers the truth, to the poor girlfriend of the local daredevil who will sleep with anything and anyone, it's an interesting emotional montage.


However probably my favourite part of this flick is the simply delightful initial sex scene where the director flexes his creative muscles to emphasise not only the predatory nature of his femme fatale but the similarities between human mating and the mating dances of animals.


A seemingly playful blindfolded foreplay descends into a choreographed dance that is part animal, part graceful ballet. You almost forget the nudity it's so well done.


It's a theme that is later repeated in the background in one of the more surreal cinematic moments of all-time: where we have our hero playing the cello in the snow (during a heatwave) while his love cavorts ballet-style naked with her lover in a greenhouse in the background. Very impressive.


Overall this was an intriguing and enjoyable experience. So much so that you're willing to overlook the lack of explanation of a few key elements such as her background (probably not necessary in truth), the hero's discovery of his own corpse, and the seeming discordant chronology with our woodnymph/siren/succubus.


  「就在交配完的尚,雌螳螂就把牠的配偶抓住,按照習慣先啃食頸部,然後一小口一小口有條不紊吃得只剩下翅膀。」—法布爾(1823-1915)•法 國昆蟲學家。



Dark Angel: The Complete First Season (2000)
Series Created by James Cameron and Charles H. Eglee
Starring Jessica Alba, Michael Weatherly, Jensen Eckles,
John Savage, Valerie Rae Miller, Richard Gunn and Kevin Durand
Released by: Fox Home Entertainment
Rating: NR (violence)
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format


Max (Alba) has a little problem. She remembers all this stuff from
her childhood, but she doesn't know what any of it means. It's just
little stuff...like the mad scientists that created her, you know, and
her friends chasing her around a forest after escaping from their
genetics hospital prison where they were being trained to kick some
major ass as an elite, genetically altered infantry regiment...you know,
typical childhood problems.


Anyway, it's 2019, after the big terrorism EMP that knocked America
into the Second Great Depression and Max is trying to piece her life
back together by hiring some cheap, two-bit P.I. to investigate her
past. She teams up with a man known to the public as Eyes Only
(Weatherly) to pick up where the P.I. left off, and in return, she will
help him out with his revolution. This show started out with some
great potential. The pilot was really hot, fast paced and exciting, but
after that, the shows became really trite and predictable.


They just didn't really keep the premise of the pilot going so, I found
myself getting really frustrated with the fact that Max wasn't making
any headway at finding out how she became who she was. On a more
positive note, on the acting side, Alba and Weatherly are very strong
in their respective roles. I have no idea whether or not Alba does her
own fight and stunt work (maybe the DVD will eventually tell me, huh?),
but she kicks some major butt.


Not only that, she looks fantastic all the while she's doing it. Weatherly
was a good choice as the successful businessman who is running his own
video revolution out of his very upper-class apartment. Again, my only
problem with it is all the episodes began to look like each other way too
early in its life. Most of the special features are to be found on disc six of
the set. The first of the featurettes is a look at how the series came into
being; it's full of interviews with almost all of the actors about their main
characters and how they landed the roles.


This is really refreshing because we don't get a lot of psychobabble about
their characters, instead we get to hear the actors talking about their par
ticular audition experiences. The second, entitled "Seattle Ain't What it
Used to Be," is a look at the creation of the world of the show; the pro
Duct ion design of the sets and costumes. It's neat to hear their reason
ing behind their design choices, but that's about all there is to it.


And finally, the last is called "Creating an X5," a detailed look at the
creation of Max's character. Obviously, it is mostly a series of inter
views with Alba as well as some of the writers and producers of the
show. It gets a little heavy into the genetically engineered aspects
of the show that slowly unfold as the series progresses. Most of it
is stuff that you can get just by watching the episodes, but then it
gets into the other stuff like how Alba trained to prepare for the part.


Then we get to look at all the actors' audition tapes (which were com
prised of scenes from the pilot episode) and how they compared with
the final release of the pilot. Well, any genius could tell you that there
will definitely be changes between the audition tapes and the final ver
sion of the scene. There are little things like sets, costumes, lights, and
better camera equipment being used for the final shot. The thing I find
the most interesting is that they excluded Jessica Alba's audition tape
(she does appear on Weatherly's a little bit).


I have to say that I was very excited to see that there was a blooper reel
attached to this set, but I was only mildly amused by it. It's put together
r very well, but it's just a lot of them flubbing up their lines. The best part
about it is to see how feminine Alba can be when between takes! Finally
, the video game trailer is pretty well done, but how excited can you get
about a trailer for a game? The game looks like every other game spin
off that's out there.


Most of the commentaries provided are very dry and there's not a lot
of information presented. They're really just the participants in the
commentary relating what's going on in the show. This would be very
handy, were it not for the fact that I had functioning eyes and could
see all of that on my own, thanks. If you are a hardcore fan of the
show, you won't be disappointed with this set and will definitely want
to pick it up. Everyone else should just rent it sometime when you've
got nothing else better to snag.


Dark Angel: The Complete Second Season (2001)
Created by James Cameron and Charles H. Eglee
Starring Jessica Alba, Michael Weatherly, Jensen Ackles,
Martin Cummins, Kevin Durand
Released by: 20th Century Fox
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.


Dark Angel tells the near-future tale of Max (Alba), bioengineered
government weapon who, upon her escape from Manticore--a
government program, teamed up with computer genius named
Logan (Weatherly) to fight the corruption of their city and the
tyranny of Manticore. At the end of season one, Max was cap
tured by Manticore during the raid to free their other animal-
human bioengineered experiments; at the same time, the Manti
core recruits escaped and fled into the city.


Throughout most of this second (and final) season, Max is track
ing down a different recruit or two each week, each based upon
different animal physiology. The result is kind of a "freak of the
week" plot development, but the overarching themes of trying
to take down Manticore, dealing with the wicked Lydecker (John
Savage), and finally resolving the relationship of Logan and Max
enrich the plot. The features list is nicely chosen and produced.


Approximately one episode per disc has an audio commentary,
including the first and last episode of the season. Hearing the
actors, producers, and so forth talk about the episodes gives
you a fresh appreciation for the vision of the writers and how
each episode was meant to fit into the larger story of margina
lized youth finding a home in a society not of their creating. We
also get three nice behind-the-scenes featurettes, including a
really stand-out one, "Making the Manticore Monsters," a look
at the special effects makeup that makes the show work.


"Manticore on the Loose" is sort of a music video style look at
the various transgenics, and "Max Resurrected" is an overview
of the first season, a look at what they were hoping for from the
second season, and how the storyline is progressing. The bloop
ers reel, like most features of its ilk, is a mixture of funny and...


not, but overall it's a very nice addition for fans of the show. Given
that the film has already been shot, I don't know why more product
ion companies don't include bloopers as a feature; it costs them very
little to stick 'em on the disc, and fans like to see them.


The audio and video quality are both quite good here, a bit better
than you would expect from television. The surreal settings and
cyberpunk look of the series shows up nicely here, emphasizing
Max's cat-like good looks, as well as the appearance of the less
fortunate Manticore transgenics.


Fans of fantasy and science fiction shows like Buffy the Vampire
Slayer, Alias, and Mutant X might like this show and should at least
give it a shot. It's not so cheesy as you might be afraid that it is, and
we all need guilty fun sometimes. If you can deal with the MTV hip
ness and the frequent melodramatic dialogue, then this one just
might become your favorite tool for unwinding.



You are my everlasting, ma dame de cœur, my lady of
heart reine de douceur queen of sweetness tu combles
mes fantasmes. You fill my fantasies scelles mes pensées
sealed my thoughts, dans mon esprit, nous valsons.

J'étends ici le disposé pour penser à toi et I lay here the willingness
to think about you and la jeunesse vous m'avez donné tellement
il ya bien longtemps you gave me so many years ago.


That during the day you can take a few moments to think of me,
for surely I'll be thinking of you. E quando o entardecer invadir
o dia expulsado a luz do sol, cada estrela que aparecer me dará
notícias suas e assim você adormecerá sempre em meu


Tes baisers errants, frétillants your kisses stray frisky tels les
rêves hantant mon esprit, such dreams haunting my mind a fleur
de peau de tes lèvres satinées, at edge of your lips brushed,
habitués à m'embrasser en douceur accustomed to kiss me gently.


A gente se entende de uma maneira tão simples que uma troca
de olhares já nos faz saber exatamente o que o outro deseja e
quer. We understand it in a way so simple that an exchange of
glances already lets us know exactly what the other wants.


Bonjour je t offre une bise I offer you a soft kiss elle sera
douce comme une brise it will be soft like a breeze elle sera
donnée avec tendresse it will be given with tenderness
elle sera donnée avec gentillesse it will be given with kindness
elle sera donnée par magie it will be given by magic.


As palavras são expressão máxima dos sentimentos, então que as minhas
possam ser para você nesse momento a alegria ea certeza de que és muito
querido e desejado por mim. Words are ultimate expression of feelings,
so that mine might be for you at this time the joy and the certainty that
you are well loved by me.


Tenderly the day dawned ... e logo já estava em meus pensamentos. And
soon it was in my thoughts. Imaginei te dando um longo beijo de bom dia
e te desejando muita tranqüilidade para enfrentar mais uma etapa em sua
vida. I figured giving you a kiss good evening and wishing you much peace
of mind to face one more step in your life.


In my mind, we waltz, lente et longue, mais langoureuse valse, slow and
long, languorous waltz but, sensuelle étreinte, sensual embrace. Fougueuse
passion, fiery passionil est irréel, it is unreal, mon amour pour toi ne s'en
ira jamais, my love for you will never go away.


Em tudo que faço, desejo, quero e penso tem você a me acompanhar, a me
fazer ouvir muitas palavras de carinho e ternura, que me fazem tão bem.
In everything I do, I want and I think you have to accompany me, to make
myself heard many words of love and tenderness, I do as well.


Eu sempre te quis tanto, mesmo quando ainda nem te conhecia e hoje que
tenho você comigo, sinto que todos os meus desejos podem se tornar
realidade. I always wanted to do so, even when not even know you and
now that I have you with me, I feel that all my wishes can come true.


Que durante esse dia você possa reservar alguns instantes para pensar em
mim, pois com certeza eu estarei pensando em você.


And when evening invade the day expelled the sunlight, every star that
appears will give me news of you and so you fall asleep forever in my heart.


Meus beijos são e serão sempre seus...my kisses are and will always be
yours .. com Amor ... with Love ...


Hoje certamente tudo dará certo. Today certainly everything will be
alright. O seu caminho será suavizado pela brisa do ar que chegará até
você de mansinho, trazendo com ela o aroma das flores que darão
colorido ao seu dia.


Reflets incarnadins sur nappe de rubis reflections on incarnadine sheet
ruby va-et-vient flamboyants au chant des clapotis back and forth to the
sound of splashing flaming.


Friselis infinis dans les eaux frétillantes ripple in the waters infinite wriggling
clins d'œil étincelants au ciel du repentir winks at the sparkling sky.


Your path will be smoothed by the breeze of air that will come to you softly,
bringing with it the scent of the flowers that give color to your day.


What every morning, you feel in your heart to make sure that life awaits you
with open arms to receive their expectations and accomplish them one by one.


I'm getting ready for my new vocation, I am the man who will unite the nations,
this is love, the language of love.


Excusez-moi, my pretty Mademoiselle, you are a French girl it's easy to tell,
me, I don't smoke not even a French cigarette.


but I love my pomme de terre, and always croquette, I am from Angleterre
and you are from France, and you will honor me by having a dance.


I'm getting ready for a new sensation, never kissed them in another nation,
internationally I'm in clover,I was a native on the boat ride over.


We've been together now for more than a day, and I am waiting to hear what
you say, come on, come on, I think you're telling me lies, you are Italian, I
can tell by your eyes, I love Chianti and I hope you'll agree that Zefferelli
makes the movies for me.


I try my French, Latin, Spanish and Greek, this is the language of love that I
speak, I never know if they're from Paris or Rome.


We stop the talking when I'm walking them home, one little kiss and then
heavens above, this is the universal language of love.


Are you ready for a new sensation, I'm going to kiss a girl from every nation,
this is love - the language of love.


You write with kisses on the book of love, me das hambre de ti, me das infinitos
give me hungry for you, give me endless caricias sosegadas, me das sosiego
restful touch, give me serenity como una flor que acaricia mis sentidos like a
flower that touch my senses.


Je voudrai t'offrir mes louanges et mes désirs I would like to offer you my
praise and my desires ecouter le battement de ton cœur et te sentir frémir
listen to the beat of your heart and feel you shudder je voudrai lire dans tes
yeux ravageurs I would like to see in your eyes la tendresse.


Fougueuse passion, fiery passionil est irréel, it is unreal, mon amour pour
toi ne s'en ira jamais, my love for you will never go away.


J'ai ressenti ta chaleur pénétrer dans mon sang I felt your heat into my blood et
cette lueur dans tes yeux que j'aime tant and that glimmer in your eyes I love so
much, tes bras entourent ma poitrine et tes lèvres effleurent les miennes your
arms around my chest and your lips brush against mine tout à coup je deviens
coquine le désir s'infiltre dans mes veines, suddenly I become mischievous
desire seeps into my veins...


Conoscere la pena di troppa tenerezza essere trafitti dalla vostra stessa
comprensione d'amore, being impaled by your own understanding of love,
E sanguinare condiscendenti e gioiosi and to bleed condescending and joyful.


Amo in te il tuo pensarmi e poi chiamarmi... I love you in your thinking and then
call me ... il volerti sfamare solo di me... just want to love you always ... amo
te... I love you ... e null'altro voglio che... and nothing else I want ... annullarmi
nel tuo respiro su di me... canceled in your breath on me...



Faceless (film) 1987
Directed by Jesús Franco
Produced by René Chateau
Written by René Chateau
Jesus Franco
Michel Lebrun
Jean Mazarin
Pierre Ripert


Starring Helmut Berger
Brigitte Lahaie
Telly Savalas
Christopher Mitchum
Stéphane Audran
Music by Romano Musumarra
Cinematography Jean-Jacques Bouhon
Maurice Fellous


Edited by Christine Pansu
Release date
22 June 1988
Running time
98 minutes
Country France
Language English


Faceless is a 1988 French slasher film directed by Jesús Franco. The
film is about Dr. Flamand (Helmut Berger) and his assistant Nathalie
(Brigitte Lahaie) who lure unsuspecting victims to use their skin to
perform plastic surgery on the doctor's disfigured sister - a plot
reminiscent of Franco's first film, Gritos en la noche (1961). Hallen
(Telly Savalas) is a New York businessman who hires private detective


Sam Morgan (Chris Mitchum) to find his missing fashion model daughter
Barbara (Caroline Munro). Other elements of the story include a Nazi
doctor (Anton Diffring) and a chainsaw/power tool tormentor who are
called in by Dr. Flamand. Plot: A former patient of Dr. Frank Flamand
(Helmut Berger), a disfigured Mrs. Francoisis (Tilda Thamar) seeks revenge
for a botched operation by throwing acid at him but she misses and catches
his sister, Ingrid (Christiane Jean), full in the face, resulting in severe burns.


At a photo shoot in Paris, the doctor's assistant Nathalie (Brigitte
Lahaie) drugs and kidnaps Barbara Hallen (Caroline Munro) and
locks her in a room in the basement of Flamand's clinic. Whilst
checking on other kidnapped girls, a scuffle starts with Natalie
and Gordon (Gerard Zalcberg), who lives in the basement chops
off the girl's arms.


In New York City, Barbara's father Terry Hallen (Telly Savalas) is
desperately awaiting a news of his daughter and hires a private
detective, Sam Morgan (Chris Mitchum), to go and find her. Once
in Paris, Morgan visits a morgue with Brian Wallace (Daniel Grimm)
of the Paris police to see a decapitated body, but knows it is not
Barbara due to a missing mole.


Flamand and Nathalie go to see a surgeon Dr. Orloff (Howard Vernon)
about an operation to amputate Barbara's face and attach it to his
sister's Ingrid's face. Orloff tells them to track down Nazi doctor Karl
Heinz Moser (Anton Diffring). They return to find Barbara's face has
been badly cut by Gordon. Morgan interviews Barbara's photo
director Maxence (Marcel Philippot) and gets some information
through intimidation before Maxence's bouncer, Doudo (Tony Awak),
forces Morgan to flee.


Meanwhile, Flamand has kidnapped another woman, Melissa, to use
for the face transplant. Morgan updates Terry with information on
Barbara - that she was a prostitute and that she left with a gold watch.
Moser arrives for the operation, but destroys Melissa's donor face due
to complications and Flamand and Nathalie seek a replacement. At a
club they find an actress (Florence Guerin), trick her into going to the
clinic, drug her and hide her body.


Morgan traces a credit card belonging to Barbara Hallen to the Paris
suburb of Saint-Cloud, and to Flamand's clinic. At the clinic Morgan
sees a watch Natalie is wearing and later sees this in pictures at his
hotel as belonging to Barbara and decides to return to the clinic. A
nurse at the clinic enters the basement and finds all the girls locked
up. She is caught and killed by Gordon. At this moment Moser,
Flamand and Nathalie remove the actress's face and show it to Ingrid.


Morgan returns to the clinic and is attacked by Gordon but manages
to impale him on some hooks. Morgan finds keys and locates the girls
and Barbara but is locked in Barbara's cell with her by Natalie. Flamand,
Moser and Nathalie then brick up the cell. Barbara and Sam find them
selves trapped and gasping for air. Sam though has sent Terry a message
saying Terry, I traced Barbara to this clinic in Paris.


I'm going in tonight to look for her. If I don't leave a message in 12 hours,
send in the marines, Merry Christmas. Terry says to his office executive
Jenny, get me on the first flight to Paris!, in hopes to rescue the two.
Alternate ending: The original ending of the film involved Sam success
fully rescuing Barbara, and arresting Flamand, Nathalie, Moser, and
Ingrid, with Terry going to Paris to pick them up.


Jess Franco wanted a slightly different touch to make it different, so
while switching the ending around, this time it is mentioned that Terry
Hallen is going to Paris to the clinic, but it is left open, if he gets there
in time to save them or not.


Kate Beckinsale as Selene
Scott Speedman as Michael
Shane Brolly as Kraven
Michael Sheen as Lucian
Bill Nighy as Viktor
Erwin Leder as Singe


Sophia Myles as Erika
Written by
Len Wiseman
Kevin Grevioux
Danny McBride
Action, Fantasy,
Science Fiction,
Rated R For Strong Violence/
Gore and Some Language
121 minutes


Brendan Gill, the distinguished writer for the New Yorker, offered a
definition of pornography that has stood the test of time. A porno movie,
he said, is a movie where you become acutely aware that the characters
are spending too much time getting in and out of cars and walking in and
out of doors. Gill's wisdom came to mind when Todd McCarthy, writing in
Variety, observed of "Underworld" that "there may be more openings and
closings of doors in this picture than in the entire oeuvre of Ernst Lubitsch."


That is not the sort of detail that should occur to you while you're watching
a movie about a war between werewolves and vampires. But "Underworld"
is all surfaces, all costumes and sets and special effects, and so you might as
well look at the doors as anything else. This is a movie so paltry in characters
and shallow in its story that the war seems to exist primarily to provide
graphic visuals. Two of those visuals are Kate Beckinsale, who plays Selene,


a vampire with (apparently) an unlimited line of credit at North Beach Leather
, and Scott Speedman as Michael, a young intern who is human, at least until
he is bitten by a werewolf -- and maybe even after, since although you become
a vampire after one bites you, I am uncertain about the rules regarding were
wolves, Hold on, I just Googled it. A werewolf bite does indeed turn you into a
werewolf, according to a Web site about the computer game Castlevania, which
helpfully goes on to answer the very question I was going to ask next:


"What would be the result if a werewolf bites a vampire? It is called a were
-pire or wolf zombie... The reason Intern Michael is bitten by the werewolf
Lucian, I think, is because the werewolves want to create a new hybrid race
and gang up on the vampires. All of this is an emotional drain on Selene,
who finds herself in love with a werewolf at the same time that her vampire
kingdom is in grave danger.


Exactly why she falls in love with Michael, or whether love bites are
allowed in their foreplay, is not very clear, probably because romance
and sex inevitably involve dialogue, and dialogue really slows things
down. This is not a movie that lingers for conversation; its first words,
"You're acting like a pack of rabid dogs," occur after 15 minutes of non
stop and senseless action in a fight scene involving characters we have
not been introduced to.


Selene is being challenged for leader of the vampires by Kraven (Shane Brolly),
who, as you might have guessed from his name, is a villain, just as you can
guess from his name that Viktor (Bill Nighy) is not. Viktor in fact is deep in
a sleep of centuries when he's awakened prematurely by Selene, who needs
his advice to deal with the werewolf/human/Kraven situation. The gradual
transformation in appearance of the reawakened Viktor is an intriguing
special effects exercise; he begins as a terminal case of psoriasis and ends
as merely cheerfully cadaverous.


"Underworld" is the directing debut of Len Wiseman, an art director ("Stargate,"
"Independence Day") who can stage great-looking situations but has few ideas
about characters and plots. It's so impossible to care about the characters in the
movie that I didn't care if the vampires or werewolves won. I might not have
cared in a better movie, either, but I might have been willing to pretend.


Underworld: Evolution is little more than a muddled epilogue to the story
introduced in 2003's Underworld. Seemingly confused by its own legacy,
Underworld: Evolution has anti-climatic secrets for you to puzzle out,
provided you don't throw yourself to the wolves before the third act.
Kate Beckinsale returns as Selene, a vampire warrior who, when we first
encountered her, was still exacting her revenge on the werewolf race for
the murder of her family in the 1600s.


Scott Speedman is by her side as Michael, the human-turned-werewolf-
turned-hybrid at the end of the first movie. As the centuries-old war
between vampires (or Death Dealers) and werewolves (or Lycans) rages
on, Selene and Michael navigate a murky plot that involves Corvinus
(Derek Jacobi), the father of both races, and his sons Marcus (Tony
Curran) and William (stuntman Brian Steele), who became the first
true vampire and werewolf.

These two strains are of great import to the present, as the grand war
is edging toward a deciding battle. Speeches on betrayal, murder, God
complexes, and the idea of one race figure into the non-action sequences,
which lead up to the story's inciting moment, sharing secrets that don't
feel all that revelatory. There's nothing here that couldn't be packaged
as an addendum on a special edition Underworld DVD.


Beckinsale is surprisingly toned down this time out, though her husband,
director Len Wiseman, aims to obscure her muted performance with a
near-nude sex scene between his wife and Speedman. Selene talks and
shoots her guns more, where I can safely assume that the audience was
hoping for a more inventive fighting repertoire this time through. She has
flashbacks to her childhood which gave her character a bit more depth,
but mostly she comes across as incredibly battle weary. Speedman, as
usual, is the affordable alternative to Christian Bale, though the vicious
ness he doles out should get the audience on his side.


One interesting note on the action: most of it is horribly edited, except
for the goriest depictions of beheadings and torn-out organs. This is not
a sequel that aspires to be elegant, as the original dreamt. It's a shame,
because Selene looks so heavenly when she freefalls, and so cliched when
she shoots to kill. Still, I'd rather she empty clip after clip than appear be
hind the wheel of a truck (an attempt to outrun Marcus) or aboard a heli
copter (an attempt to confront Marcus); such things come across as so ...


When Underworld debuted in late 2003, it opened at #1 and shocked the
entertainment industry, who expected it to fare far worse than its closest
relative at the time, 2002's Resident Evil. Beckinsale, playing against type
and encased in black leather, drew the science fiction crowd, Goths, and
a more general audience into theaters. An Underworld sequel was announ
ced just as Beckinsale dove right into production on another monster movie,
Van Helsing. We all know how that played out, and we remember the fate
that greeted Selene's cousins (work with me here), Elektra and Patience
Phillips, aka Catwoman, upon their respective opening weekends.


Then came Aeon Flux to sink the genre even further into the muck. Underworld:
Evolution will be more successful than these films, but it rates alongside them all
in terms of quality while adding little to the sub-genre of films featuring solitary,
tragic super-heroines. My advice to the wonderful Ms. Beckinsale: let someone
else don the leathers next time (if the inevitable prequel is a go), safely dispose
of your werewolf-killer bullets, and consider the scripts that have you traveling
to farms and canyons.


Underworld: Rise of the Lycans: I'll admit to being surprised that the
Underworld series has reached a third installment. Apparently, these
films aren't that expensive to make because they have never been big
box office performers. With the second movie, Underworld: Evolution,
having wrapped up things too neatly for this production to continue
moving forward, the filmmakers have elected to do some backtracking.


This is an "origin story" - one that returns to the beginning and chronicles
how the vampire/werewolf war started. The limitations of the Underworld
saga are on display: the storyline essentially replicates that of Underworld
and Underworld: Evolution, meaning that if you've seen one or both of
them , there's no compelling reason to spend your hard earned dollars
on the third. The reasons for watching the first two Underworld movies
were simple:


Kate Beckinsale in a skintight leather costume, lots of fast-paced action,
Kate Beckinsale in a skintight leather costume, plenty of blood and gore,
and Kate Beckinsale in a skintight leather costume. The fast-paced action
and blood and gore are still present in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans,
but Kate Beckinsale is nowhere to be found (excepting a brief appearance
near the end in a clip that I believe was lifted from the first film). Since
Underworld would not be Underworld without the dominatrix aspect,
Rhona Mitra steps into the skintight leather costume. The effect is
similar but not quite the same.


Beckinsale's husband, Len Wiseman, who directed the first two Under
worlds before turning his attention to Live Free or Die Hard, has ceded
the top chair to Patrick Tatopoulos (a visual effects guru who worked
on the previous two Underworld films), although he gets a story credit.
Tatopoulos, it should be noted, does a passable job of imitating Wiseman's
style. The story takes us back hundreds of years to when the werewolves
were slaves to the vampires. (A staunch defender of the movie might call
this aspect allegorical.) Viktor (Bill Nighy), the king of the bloodsuckers,
has a particular fondness for Lucian (Michael Sheen), the best and bravest
of his wolf bite-infected pets.


Unfortunately, as much as Lucian likes Viktor, he likes Viktor's daughter,
Sonja (Rhona Mitra), even more, and the feeling is mutual. Since sex
between vampires and lycanthropes is forbidden, the two must meet
in secret. Even before they are found out, the affair leads to their down
fall. In order to save Sonja's life, Lucian must remove the collar that
inhibits his shape-shifting. This is an offense that lands him in a cell and,
while he's there, his words and actions plant the seeds for the uprising
that will start the war.


Those who disliked Twilight because of the way in which it defanged
vampires while turning women into victims can rest easily here. Sonja
is anything but a victim and the vampires, especially Viktor, are nasty
pieces of work. The problem with Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is the
way in which it repeats all that has gone before: forbidden love, desatur
ated color, bloody battles between CGI werewolves and all-too-destruct
ible vampires. The whole experience feels obligatory. If the filmmakers
were going to go to all the trouble to make a new chapter to this saga,
why not do something interesting with it?


Bill Nighy, who had a significant role in the first Underworld, is a delight
to behold in the way he gleefully overacts. This is true scenery-chewing.
Here's a legitimate thespian who has elected to go as far over-the-top as
the director will allow (and that turns out to be quite far). There are times
when it's impossible not to chuckle. This first-rate hambone performance
causes the more sedate work by Michael Sheen and Rhona Mitra, who take
their parts seriously, to fade into the background. (Although, to his credit,
Sheen does join the party during scenes when he gets to shout snippets of
"rousing" dialogue.)


The special effects are less impressive than in the previous two install
ments, perhaps because of budgetary restrictions. They seem like they
were done cheaply and/or quickly. Granted, we're not expected to be
lieve that an army of werewolves is storming a castle, but neither is it
supposed to be obvious that the entire sequence was put together on
a computer. The level of immersion demanded by the story has not
been achieved by the effects technicians. Also, the fight scenes are
assembled with the now-popular fast-edit technique that makes
them difficult to follow.


Does one have to be a fan of the series to appreciate Underworld: Rise
of the Lycans? Probably, since the movie assumes a familiarity with the
saga's mythology. The film can be watched and understood by a neo
phyte (although I have seen the other two, I can't claim to remember
them particularly well), but there's no reason why someone unfamiliar
with Underworld would want to bother. The first film was significantly
better and, therefore, is the place to start for anyone with a modicum
of interest. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is an also-ran that is likely
to be appreciated only by completists.


Underworld Awakening: Just when you think the Underworld series is
dead, it suddenly lurches back to life with a new instalment. Fitting for
a series all about vampires and that, I suppose. Having diverted to a
prequel telling us a story we largely already knew, here we rejoin Selene
(Kate Beckinsale), last seen six years ago (real world time) in Underworld
Evolution, which was very much Part 2 to the original film’s Part 1. They
told a pretty complete tale, actually, so rather than try to find something
there, Awakening launches into something new.


Following a two minute recap of the first two movies (it’s so long ago that
this is actually very handy), a quick-cut prologue-y bit tells us that the long
secret war between vampires and Lycans (aka werewolves) was discovered
by humans, who set about wiping them out. Trying to escape, Selene’s cross
breed lover Michael (Scott Speedman) is killed and she gets frozen… only to
wake up however-many-years later into a changed world… And so on and so
forth. Escapes, shooting, action-y-business all ensues.


Said violence is very bloody and brutal, much more like the second film
— I swear the first (especially) and third weren’t anything like as gory.
Evolution well earnt its 18 certificate, after a very 15 first film, and quite
surprised me at the time. This isn’t as extreme as that, but still. The main
drama and attraction in the Underworld series lies in the vampires-vs-
werewolves-with-modern tech concept, not in ripping off limbs or spur
ting blood or whatever. Or maybe that’s just me.


Whose daughter might she be...By taking such a bold move with the plot,
Mean while, the story pushes the series’ mythology in new and relatively
interesting ways. It’s becoming a bit dense and fan-only (unless you let it
wash over you and just enjoy the punching), but at least they’re not regurgi
tating the same old stuff. It manages a few twists along the way too, which
is always nice. The plot seems to have been half worked around Speedman’s
non-involvement, leading me to wonder why — he’s not too busy, surely?


Perhaps he’d just had enough? But no, apparently it was genuinely just
written this way. I guess he couldn’t be bothered to turn up for some
cameo shots, because the stand-in is really obvious. Also glaringly obvious
is the set-up for a sequel. Not so much as the first film, which had such an
End of Part One feel (including a direct cliffhanger) that the sequel picked
up mere hours later.


But this is still a story obviously incomplete (again, there’s a sort of cliff
hanger), but at least it has the courtesy to… actually, no, it’s only as com
plete as the first film. The main narrative drive is resolved, but other bits
are blatantly open. But it didn’t seem to go down too well, so what are
the chances of us seeing it continued? Well, as we’ve learnt, you can never
write the Underworld series off. And its niche fanbase, semi-independent
production, and relatively long three-year gap between sequels.


There's still lots of shooting means the next one will probably turn up out
of the blue with little hype, much as Awakening did last year. Plus, though
this is the most expensive film to date (double the budget of the preceding
one!), it’s also the most financially successful: $160.1 million worldwide,
beating number two’s $111.3 million. Assuming Beckinsale still feels up
for it, I imagine 2015 will bring us a continuation — and, hopefully, a


The higher budget and higher gross I mentioned are surely both down to
one thing: 3D. Shooting in proper 3D (as opposed to the ever-so-popular
post-conversion) costs a fortune, as a producer reveals in the BD’s bonus
features, but it can also net you more money at the box office thanks to
that 3D premium. Such a gamble hasn’t paid off for everyone (Dredd), but
it clearly did here (how the hell did Underworld 4 make four-and-a-half
times as much money as Dredd?!)


Watching in 2D, it’s clear that some sequences were designed with 3D in
mind — not in the way that, say, Saw 3D or The Final Destination some
times only make sense with added depth, but in ways where 3D would
(I imagine) enhance the visuals. There are some instances of stuff flying
at the camera, a popular sticking point for the anti-3D crowd, but that’s
actually been part and parcel of Underworld’s style since the start (just
watch a trailer for the first film — there was a shot of it used prominently
in most of the marketing).


New-style evolved Lycan also worthy of commendation: new-style
‘evolved’ Lycans; a small role for Charles Dance (always worth seeing);
the evocative near-future setting; good quality action sequences; some
nice steel-blue cinematography/grading. Some of it was shot at 120fps
on brand-new pre-alpha never-used RED cameras — take that Peter
Jackson, eh. Plus it’s only a little over 1 hour and 18 minutes long with
out credits.


Some would bemoan such brevity, but it has its Positives. I’ve always quite
liked the Underworld series, even if the first one is still clearly the best.
Awakening gets most kudos for taking things in a new direction, even if, as
a film in itself, it’s only OK.


Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)
Posted on May 29, 2017
Anna Foerster | 91 mins | Blu-ray
(3D) | 2.40:1 | USA / English | 15 / R
Kate Beckinsale is back in skintight leather for……


I’m sorry, my mind wandered off then. As I was saying: Kate Beckinsale
is back in… skintight leather……Sorry, happened again. As I was saying:
Kate Beckinsale is back in… her role as a werewolf-killing vampire for
the fifth entry in the Underworld series, which seems to be as undying
as its star creatures. Picking up a little while after the last one left off,
the war between vampires and Lycans (aka werewolves) is now back
in full swing, and both sides are hunting Selene (Beckinsale).


Her own kind want her for previous crimes (see: the first two films),
while the Lycans are after her daughter (see: the last film) to give
them an advantage in the war. Fearing for their safety, the vampires
invite Selene back into the fold to train a new generation of combat
ants, but there are sneakier plans afoot… Kate Beckinsale in leather.
Nuff said.


The first Underworld marked out somewhat-new territory when it hit
screens in 2003 by taking fantasy/horror elements like vampire covens
and werewolves and placing them in a modern urban environment,
fighting more with guns than swords and teeth. It certainly wasn’t
wholly original — Blade had already done a similar concept and visually
it owed a lot to The Matrix — but it was fresh enough. Since then the
series has increasingly strayed away from that:


the second film brought more traditional-style Eastern European
countryside, the third was a medieval prequel, and the fourth was
… kind of nothing-y, really. Now, they seem to have made some
thing of an effort to get back to the ‘world’ of the first film, with
extravagant vampire covens and underground Lycan forces, while
also growing the series’ mythology by introducing us to new areas
of vampiredom, primarily a Nordic coven.


This move also brings with it a degree of politicking among the
vampires, which is kind of what I imagine a millennia-old secret
society would be like. I mean, don’t expect House of Cards —
it’s done at the level of the action B-movie this series is — but
it’s kinda fun. To achieve this it’s had to ignore an awful lot of
the last film — not entirely, by any means, as it’s quite heavily
based in some leftover plot points — but other parts have been
completely glossed over.


This lax attitude to continuity could be irritating, but a counter
argument might go that isn’t it better to ditch stuff that isn’t
really working in favour of stuff that’s more entertaining?
Vampire politics: Part of the entertainment comes from
characters talking rather than just fighting, and we’re treated
to some magnificent cheesy, overworked dialogue. Some of
these scenes are edited within an inch of their life, lines almost
tripping over each other as they’re rushed on to the screen. By
rights that should be a problem, yet in something as fabulously
trashy as Underworld it feels more expedient — they’re getting
on with it, rather than being ponderous about the mythology,
like much fantasy is wont to do. I kinda like it for that.


Alternatively, there’s one bit where the main characters seem to
Express themselves in a quick-cut series of heavy breaths and grunts.
It’s either terrible or genius, or possibly both. This tone is supported
by some superbly hammy acting from a cast filled with faces from
British TV. Sherlock’s Irene Adler, Lara Pulver, seems to be having a
whale of a time as the scheming head of a vampire coven, while giving
Miss Beckinsale a run for her money in the kinky outfit department.
She’s accompanied by Merlin’s Arthur, Bradley James, pouting around
as her frequently-insulted boy toy. Tobias Menzies (take your pick of
what you consider him best-known for) does his best as the Lycan’s
cunning new leader, who’s most threatening in his CGI-powered
transformed state. And Charles Dance is back, exuding pure class
as always, completely convincing you that he believes in all the high
-fantasy drivel he has to spout.


Irene and Arthur: Similarly, we all know Kate Beckinsale is better than
this — and if you’d forgotten, Love & Friendship should’ve reasserted
it. Even here she’s called on to be more than just a shapely pair of but
tocks, getting to inject Selene with some rare emotion on several occa
sions. She also once again kicks ass left, right, and centre. The film’s
action on the whole is fairly entertaining. There’s little impressive
choreography or particularly original combat concepts, but it passes


Even Charles Dance gets to do some swashbuckling (as he terms it in
the making-of), which is only brief but also as awesome as it sounds.
Another part amusingly sees two bulletproof adversaries walk slowly
towards one another while emptying their guns into each other. It’s,
again, simultaneously close to being both terrible and genius. Despite
being renowned as a visually gloomy series, I thought it looked pretty
nice in 3D — better than Awakening did, at any rate.


Awakening was genuinely shot in 3D, whereas (based on what I could
see in behind-the-scenes footage from the special features) Blood Wars
appears to have been post-converted. It shows how far that technology
has come that even a modestly budgeted movie like this (just $35 million)
can afford post-conversion that often looks very good indeed. The only
major disappointment I had with the film was that, thanks to it being
in a rush every time it had some plot to get through, parts of it don’t
quite make sense.


The ending, in particular, where a voiceover monologue mentions a
load of stuff we haven’t just seen happen and doesn’t quite flow.
Surely they could’ve afforded an extra two minutes to connect the
dots? Apparently the ending was designed to both brings things full
circle and, perhaps, leave it open for a sixth instalment. Well, I would
say it shortchanges the wrapping-up bit — this could be a place to
conclude the series, but by not giving that sufficient weight (i.e. by
rushing it), it implies a kind of “tune in next time”-ness.


Kate Beckinsale. Leather. Nuff. Said. That aside, I actually massively
enjoyed Blood Wars; much more than the negative reception led
me to expect. Of course, the Underworld films are a fan-only experi
ence at this point — not because of diminishing quality, as most
reviews would cite, but because of how much the story is based
in events from three of the previous four films. If you’ve watched
any of those previous movies and not enjoyed them, it’s not worth
catching up for this — it’s fundamentally “more of the same”, just
done better than it’s been since the first movie.


These days franchises can revive themselves for new viewers later in
their runs — Fast Five being the best Fast & Furious movie is a case in
point — but Blood Wars isn’t a Fast Five. However, as someone who
would, at this point, I guess, count myself as a fan of the series, Blood
Wars delivered.



Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner: Daredevil) thought she was working
for a black-ops arm of the CIA. She thought her estranged father (Victor
Garber: Home Room) sold airplane parts. She thought she was going to
marry her true love and live happily ever after. She thought wrong. After
her fiancé is murdered and her father is revealed to be working for the
CIA, too,


Sydney enters a world of covert operations and double and possibly triple
agents as she works to bring down the agency that killed her husband
-to-be and stole her life. Garner quite deservedly became a star over
night for her performance as slinky, sexy, and smart Sydney, a woman
who takesgirl -power to a whole new level. She’s the rogue agent like
we’ve never seen a woman play before in a story that sneakily acknow
ledges its classic theme — “she loved a man, and she lost him” —
before smashing its clichés to pieces.


Strong and unsqueamish, Sydney offers no contradictions in her ability
to go from masquerading as a ditz at a cocktail party to digging up a
grave by herself to get at a buried nuclear bomb. We believe her when
she snarls at a bad guy, “I am your worst enemy — I’ve got nothing to
lose.” But not only does Alias raise the bar on portrayals of competent,
capable women, it’s one of the better spy series ever made for TV. The
beautiful widescreen presentation is accentuated by the digital sound,
perfect for the terrific pop and rock soundtrack.


When college student Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) joined SD-6
, a secret branch of the CIA, she had no idea that her father already
was a CIA agent and that her dead mother was in fact alive, but on
the run from the U.S. government after turning into a supervillain
in the grandest of James Bond traditions. That was the great setup
for J.J. Abrams’s spy show, which seemed inspired by Mission:
Impossible and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., even in the choice of
music. And it also had clones, a variation on the masks from Mission:


When we first met Sydney, she had no idea that SD-6 was in fact not
a part of the CIA, but a global criminal network. The only one of her
co-workers who knew the truth was her boss, Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin).
But after the murder of her fiancée, Sydney realized that she’d been
duped and contacted the CIA to become a double agent. She also
learned that Jack (Victor Garber), her father, already was a double
agent working both for the CIA and SD-6;


he gave her plenty of reasons to wonder where his loyalties lied, but
their relationship subsequently became much more affectionate.
Things changed over the years. SD-6 was brought down and Sydney’s
co-workers transferred to the CIA. As I wrote earlier, Sydney learned
that her mother was alive. The villainous Irina (Lena Olin) turned herself
in, but that was part of a plan and once she had accomplished whatever
she hoped to accomplish regarding a mysterious device, an all-powerful
weapon designed by a fifteenth-century prophet named Rambaldi, the
CIA were unable to prevent her escape.


Rambaldi had supernatural powers and Sloane (who once had had an
affair with Irina) was also obsessed with his weapon. Confused? There’s
more. The next seasons would deal with the growing love between
Sydney and a fellow agent, Vaughn (Michael Vartan), the problem of
not telling close friends that she was an agent, the constant emer
gence of new, powerful, evil organizations and the complex relation
ship between the agents and the mysterious Sloane whose finger
prints were always everywhere.


Character actor Rifkin was brilliant as Sloane, but Garner was the
true star; the missions took her all over the world, always landing
her in sexy disguises, including a new colorful wig for every job.
She was always up for the challenges, which were usually physically
demanding (she knew how to handle a gun and beat up bad guys).
The show reached its zenith in the second season, which was very
intense and creative; especially Olin contributed a lot as Sydney’s
two-faced mother.


The third season provided an amusing twist in the shape of forcing
old enemies to work together again in a newly created branch of the
CIA; people kept giving each other dirty looks, which is natural since
they had spent the previous season trying to murder each other. The
writing was uneven but the production values relatively high. The
actors made sure we rooted for the characters, even at times the
dastardly Sloane.


There were plenty of emotions, but everybody involved gave the
show a light touch that always made it fun to watch, even as the
quality of the show declined in later years. Alias 2001-2006:U.S.
Made for TV. 105 episodes. Color. Created by J.J. Abrams. Theme:
Michael Giacchino. Cast: Jennifer Garner (Sydney Bristow), Victor
Garber (Jack Bristow), Ron Rifkin (Arvin Sloane), Michael Vartan
(01-05), Carl Lumbly, Kevin Weisman, Greg Grunberg (03-05),
Bradley Cooper (01-03), Merrin Dungey (01-03), David Anders
(02-04), Melissa George (03-04), Lena Olin (02-03), Rachel Nichols
(05-06), Balthazar Getty (05-06), Mía Maestro (05). Golden Globe:
Best Actress (Garner) 02.


In the olden days, in what we call "The Before Time", Television
Shows used to follow certain formulas to construct each and every
episode so that the audience never received the jolt of abnormalcy
that could cartwheel them into an inter-dimensional nexus of confu
sion and angst resulting in less viewers, less product sold and ultimate
ly less profit for Brandon Tartikoff! Those were dark days indeed, and
I wish like hell these days were better.


However there are some family jewels in the rough out there, and
J.J. Abrams' Alias is the prime example of how a show can break the
proverbial mold and tell the TV Formulae to eat hot death! Jennifer
Garner's Sydney Anne Bristow started out as a College Student,
recruited by the Black Ops division of "SD6", before discovering that
they were evil as the Sith, and turning Double Agent on them, and
hoping that her beloved CIA isn't just as bad.


Sydney finds herself in water hot enough to make rice with CIA Director
Hayden Chase (Special Guest Star Angela Bassett) and subsequently quits
her job and sets about her task. The whole thing is a ruse, though be
cause Chase has already hired her for the brand new CIA Sponsored
Black Operations Division known as "APO" (Authorized Personnel Only)!
The good news? Chase surprises her by also hiring Marcus Dixon (Carl
Lumbly) and Michael Vaughn (Michael Vartan). The bad news?


She's also hired Syd's dad Jack Browstow (Victor Garber), whom she
still hasn't forgiven for the minor transgression of popping a cap in
her mommy's ass! What could be worse than that? Oh, how about
the whole thing being headed up by SD6 leader Arvin Sloane (Ron
Rifkin)! As if losing friends, boyfriends, two years of her life and
several teeth isn't enough, she still has to work with Captain Bad


What follows has more action than a book of Verbs, more surprises
than an accidental date with a transvestite, and more sexy outfits
than the Frederick's of Hollywood Catalog. Without a mention of
Rambaldi, Syd and the new old fashioned crew travel the world in
search of Vadik and his evil Henchman Tomazaki, the goodies they
are trying to steal and the secrets they're trying to keep. And Secrets
are indeed revealed here, like Skin in a Club Jenna film, all the while
setting up more and more and more secrets to unravel in the hopeful
future episodes and future seasons.


Like moving into a new house with the same family, Alias is different,
but still the same, and the initial threat of a dumb-down for more
ratings is quickly dismissed. Interestingly enough, Sloan's daughter
(Syd's half-sister) Nadia (Mía Maestro) has joined the cast full time,
making one miss Lena Olin's Irina Derevko just a tad bit more. In other
casting news, this season the bad news is that Fan Pariah Will Tippin
(Bradley Cooper) will be coming back... the good news is that Peter
Berg's Noah Hicks will not!


As great as "Authorized Personnel Only" is, it's not perfect. The product
placement that has always plagued Alias is still here in full force. Also
some of the revelations in this episode are a little hard to wrap the old
noodle around if Logic is employed (but I trust that this will work itself
out). Lastly there are just a few scenes thrown in to justify continuing to
pay an actor or two (though Kevin Weisman's Marshall is a welcome
returner). It's a credit to a great show that so much can change each
season and it's still great to watch!


Four and One Half Stars out of Five for Alias's Fourth Season Opener,
"Authorized Personnel Only". It's a worthy new beginning to a great
show, now matched up with another great show and hopefully getting
some good ratings at long last! If ABC keeps getting great shows and
keeping them, they could be the next Fox... assuming Fox ever kept a
good show... I'm still bitter. So unless Garner totally ruins Elektra (and
it looks like somebody has), I'll see you in the next reel!



ELEKTRA (2005)
Jennifer Garner as Elektra
Kirsten Prout as Abby Miller
Goran Visnjic as Mark Miller
Will Yun Lee as Kirigi
Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa as Roshi
Terence Stamp as Stick


Directed by
Rob Bowman
Written by
Zak Penn
Stuart Zicherman
Raven Metzner
Action, Science Fiction
Rated PG-13 for action
97 minutes
"Elektra" plays like a collision between leftover bits and pieces of
Marvel superhero stories. It can't decide what tone to strike. It
goes for satire by giving its heroine an agent who suggests mutual
funds for her murder-for-hire fees, and sends her a fruit basket
before her next killing. And then it goes for melancholy by making
Elektra a lonely, unfulfilled overachiever who was bullied as a child
and suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. It goes for cheap
sentiment by having her bond with a 12-year-old girl, and then ...
but see for yourself. The movie's a muddle in search of a rationale.


Elektra, you may recall, first appeared on screen in "Daredevil" (2003)
, the Marvel saga starring Ben Affleck as a blind superhero. Jennifer
Garner, she of the wonderful lips, returns in the role as a killer for hire,
which seems kind of sad, considering that in the earlier movie she
figured in the beautiful scene where he imagines her face by listening
to raindrops falling on it. Now someone has offered her $2 million for
her next assassination, requiring only that she turn up two days early
for the job -- on Christmas Eve, as it works out.


She arrives in a luxurious lakeside vacation home and soon meets the
young girl named Abby (Kirsten Prout) who lives next door. Abby's
father is played by Goran Visnjic with a three-day beard, which tells
you all you need to know: Powerful sexual attraction will compel them
to share two PG-13-rated kisses. The back story, which makes absolute
ly no mention of Daredevil, involves Elektra's training under the stern
blind martial arts master Stick (Terence Stamp), who can restore people
to life and apparently materialize at will, yet is reduced to martial arts
when he does battle.


Her enemies are assassins hired by the Order of the Hand, which is a
secret Japanese society that seeks The Treasure, and The Treasure is
... well, see for yourself. As for the troops of The Hand, they have
contracted Movie Zombie's Syndrome, which means they are fear
some and deadly until killed, at which point they dissolve into a cloud
of yellow powder. I don't have a clue whether they're real or imaginary.
Neither do they, I'll bet. Eagles and wolves and snakes can materialize
out of their tattoos and attack people, but they, too, disappear in clouds.
Maybe this is simply to save Elektra the inconvenience of stepping over
her victims in the middle of a fight.


The Order of the Hand is not very well-defined. Its office is a pagoda on
top of a Tokyo skyscraper, which is promising, but inside all we get is
the standard scene of a bunch of suits sitting around a conference
table giving orders to paid killers. Their instructions: Kill Elektra,
grab The Treasure, etc. Who are they and what is their master plan?
Maybe you have to study up on the comic books. As for Elektra, she's
a case study. Flashbacks show her tortured youth, in which her father
made her tread water in the family's luxury indoor pool until she was
afraid she'd drown.


(Her mother, on a balcony overlooking the pool: "She's only a girl!" Her
father, at poolside: "Only using your legs! Not your hands!" Elektra: Glub.)
Whether this caused her OCD or not, I cannot say. It manifests itself not
as an extreme case, like poor Howard Hughes, but fairly mildly: She counts
her steps in groups of five. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything
else. A superheroine with a bad case of OCD could be interesting, perhaps;
maybe she would be compelled to leap tall buildings with bound after
bound after bound.


The movie's fight scenes suffer from another condition, attention deficit
disorder. None of their shots are more than a few seconds long, saving
the actors from doing much in the way of stunts and the director from
having to worry overmuch about choreography. There's one show
down between Elektra and the head killer of The Hand that involves
a lot of white sheets, but all they do is flap around; we're expecting may
be an elegant Zhang Yimou sequence, and it's more like they're fighting
with the laundry.


Jennifer Garner is understandably unable to make a lot of sense out
of this. We get a lot of closeups in which we would identify with what
she was thinking if we had any clue what that might be. Does she
wonder why she became a paid killer instead of a virtuous super
heroine? Does she wonder why her agent is a bozo? Does she clearly
understand that the Order of the Hand is the group trying to kill her?
At the end of the movie, having reduced her enemies to yellow poofs,
she tells Goran Visnjic to "take good care" of his daughter. Does she
even know those guys in suits are still up there in the pagoda, sitting
around the table?



Brad Pitt as Joe Black
Anthony Hopkins as William Parrish
Claire Forlani as Susan Parrish
Jake Weber as Drew
Marcia Gay Harden as Allison
Jeffrey Tambor as Quince
Directed by
Martin Brest


Written by
Ron Osborn
Jeff Reno
Kevin Wade
Bo Goldman
Drama, Fantasy, Mystery,
Science Fiction
Rated PG-13
174 minutes


“Meet Joe Black” is a movie about a rich man trying to negotiate the
terms of his own death. It is a movie about a woman who falls in love
with a concept. And it is a meditation on the screen presence of Brad
Pitt. That there is also time for scenes about sibling rivalry and a
corporate takeover is not necessarily a good thing. The movie contains
elements that make it very good, and a lot of other elements besides.
Less is more.


As the movie opens, a millionaire named William Parrish (Anthony
Hopkins) is pounded by a heart attack, the soundtrack using low bass
chords to assault the audience. He hears a voice--his own —


in his head. On the brink of his 65th birthday, he senses that death is near.
He tells his beloved younger daughter Susan (Claire Forlani) that he likes
her fiance but doesn't sense that she truly loves him:


“Stay open. Lightning could strike.” It does. A few hours later, in a coffee
shop, she meets a stranger (Brad Pitt). They talk and flirt.


He says all the right things. Lightning makes, at the very least, a near miss


They confess they really like each other. They part. He is killed.


That night at dinner, she is startled to find him among her father's guests.
The body of the young man is now occupied by Death, who has come to
nform Parrish that his end is near.


He does not recognize Susan. That's odd. Isn't Death an emissary from
God? Shouldn't he know these things? He's been around a long time (one
imagines him breaking the bad news to amoebas). This Death doesn't
even know what peanut butter tastes like, or how to kiss. A job like that,
you want a more experienced man.


No matter. We accept the premise. We're distracted, anyway, by the way
Brad Pitt plays the role. As both the young man in the coffee shop and as
“Joe Black” (the name given him by Parrish


he is intensely aware of himself--too aware. Pitt is a fine actor, but this
performance is a miscalculation. Meryl Streep once said that an experienced
actor knows that the words “I love you” are really a question.


Pitt plays them as a compliment to himself. There is no chemistry between
Joe Black and Susan because both parties are focused on him.


That at least leads to the novelty of a rare movie love scene where the
camera is focused on the man's face, not the woman's. Actresses have
become skilled over the years at faking orgasms on camera, usually with
copious cries of delight and sobs of passion. (As they're buffeted by their
competent male lovers, I am sometimes reminded of a teenager making


the cheerleader team, crossed with a new war widow.) A male actor would
have to be very brave to reveal such loss of control, and Pitt's does not cry
out. His orgasm plays in slow motion across his face like a person who is
thinking, this is way better than peanut butter.


I was not, in short, sold on the relationship between Susan and Joe. She
spends most of the movie puzzling about a very odd man who briefly
made her heart feel gooey. There is no person there for her, just the
idea of perfect love. Joe Black is presented as a being who is not familiar
with occupying a human body or doing human things. One wonders--is
this the first time Death has tried this approach? Parrish strikes a deal with


him (he won't die as long as he can keep Joe interested and teach him
new things) and takes him everywhere with him including board meetings,
where Joe's response to most situations is total silence, while looking like
the cat that ate the mouse.


The Parrish character, and Anthony Hopkins' performance, are entirely
different matters. Hopkins invests the dying millionaire with intelligence
and acceptance, and he talks wonderfully well. “Meet Joe Black” consists
largely of conversations, which are well -written and do not seem false or
forced as long as Parrish is involved in them.


His key business relationships are with the snaky Drew (Jake Weber),
whom Susan dumps for Joe, and with the avuncular Quince (Jeffrey
Tambor), his loyal but bumbling son-in-law. Quince is married to Allison
(Marcia Gay Harden), who knows Susan is her father's favorite but can
live with that because Parrish is such a swell guy. (He's ethical, sensitive,
and beloved--the first movie rich man who could at least squeeze his
head and shoulders through the eye of the needle.)


What's fascinating about Parrish is that he handles death as he has handled
everything else. He makes a realistic assessment of his chances, sees what
advantages he can extract, negotiates for the best possible terms and grace
fully accepts the inevitable. There are times when he handles his talks with
Death so surely that you wish Heaven had sent a more articulate negotiator.


The movie's ending takes too long. There are farewells, reflections,
confessions, reassurances, reconciliations, partings and surprises.
Joe Black begins to get on our nerves with his knack for saying things
that are technically true, but incomplete and misleading. The film
would play better if he didn't always have to talk in epigrams. Even
at the very end, when a line or two of direct dialogue have cleared


the air, he's still talking in acrostic clues. Still, there's so much that's fine
in this movie, directed by Martin Brest (“Scent of a Woman”).


Claire Forlani has a touching vulnerability as she negotiates the strange
terms of her love. Marcia Gay Harden plays a wise, grownup scene with
Parrish, as a loving daughter


who knows she isn't the favorite. Jeffrey Tambor's performance is crucial;


through his eyes, we understand what a good man Parrish is. And Anthony
Hopkins inhabits a story that tends toward quicksand and finds dry land.


You sense a little of his “Nixon” here: a man who can use anger like a
scalpel, while still standing back to monitor the result.



Keanu Reeves as Alex Wyler
Sandra Bullock as Kate Forster
Shoreh Aghdashloo as Kate's friend
Christopher Plummer as Louis Wyler
Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Henry Wyler


Directed by
Alejandro Agresti
Written by
David Auburn
Drama, Fantasy,
Science Fiction

Rated PG

99 minutes


"The Lake House" tells the story of a romance that spans years
but involves only a few kisses. It succeeds despite being based
on two paradoxes: time travel, and the ability of two people to
have conversations that are, under the terms established by the
film, impossible. Neither one of these problems bothered me in
the slightest. Take time travel: I used to get distracted by its logical
flaws and contradictory time lines. Now in my wisdom I have decided
to simply accept it as a premise, no questions asked. A time travel
story works on emotional, not temporal, logic.


In "The Lake House," it works like this. A woman (Sandra Bullock)
lives in a glass house built on stilts over a lake north of Chicago.
She is moving out and leaves a note for the next tenant (Keanu
Reeves). He reads the note and sends a strange response to the
address she supplies: He thinks she has the wrong house, because
"no one has lived in this house for years." She writes back to disagree.
It develops that he thinks it is 2004 and she thinks it is 2006, and
perhaps she moved in after he left, instead of moving out before he
arrived, although that wouldn't fit with – but never mind.


This correspondence continues. They both leave their letters in the
mailbox beside the sidewalk that leads to the bridge that leads to
the glass house. The mailbox eventually gets into the act by raising
and lowering its own little red flag. The two people come to love
each other, and this process involves the movie's second impossibility.
We hear them having voice-over conversations that are ostensibly
based on the words in their letters, but unless these letters are one
sentence long and are exchanged instantaneously (which would mean
crossing time travel crossed with chat rooms), they could not possibly
be conversational.


Never mind. They also have the same dog. Never mind, I tell you, never
mind! I think, actually, that I have the answer to how the same dog could
belong to two people separated by two years, but if I told you, I would
have to shoot the dog. The key element in "The Lake House" that gives
it more than a rueful sense of loss is that although Alex's letters originate
in 2004 and Kate's in 2006, he is after all still alive in 2006, and what is
more, she after all was alive in 2004. Is there a way for them to send
letters across the gap that will allow them to meet where she was in
2004, or she where will be in 2006, or vice-versa?


It is, although it involves many paradoxes, including the one that in
2004 all of this is ahead of both of them, and in 2006 Alex knows
everything but Kate either knows nothing, or knows it too late to
act on it. None of this prevents her letter of romantic anguish:
That was you that I met! Enough of the plot and its paradoxes.
What I respond to in the movie is its fundamental romantic
impulse. It makes us hope these two people will somehow meet.
All during the movie, we're trying to do the math: It should be
possible, given enough ingenuity, for them to eventually spend
2007 together, especially since he can theoretically keep the
letters he received from her in 2004 and ask her out on a date
and show them to her, although by then she'd know she wrote
them -- or would she?


They do arrange one date, which involves them in some kind of
time-loop misunderstanding, I think. She later understands what
happened, but I don't think I do. I mean, I understand the event
she refers to, but not whether it is a necessary event or can be
prevented. A great deal depends on the personalities involved.
Sandra Bullock is an enormously likable actor in the right role,
and so is Keanu Reeves, although here they're both required to
be marginally depressed because of events in their current (but
not simultaneous) lives.


Many of his problems circle around his father, Louis Wyler
(Christopher Plummer), a famous Chicago architect. The old
man is an egocentric genius who designed the Lake House,
which his son dislikes because, like Louis himself, it lives in
isolation; there aren't even any stairs to get down to the water.
Alex is an architect himself, currently debasing himself with
suburban condos, and Kate is a doctor whose confidante is an
older mentor at the hospital (Shoreh Aghdashloo). Alex has a
confidant, too, his brother Henry (Ebon Moss-Bachrach).


A plot like this makes confidants more or less obligatory, since
the protagonists have so little opportunity to confide in each
other, except for their mysterious ability to transform a written
correspondence into a conversation. Now about that dog: Dogs
live outside of time, don't you think?



Falling Water is an American supernatural drama tV series. A commercial
free advance preview of the pilot aired on Sept 21, 2016 ahead of its Oct
13, 2016 premiere. On April 3, 2017 USA Network renewed the series
for a second season, though with Rémi Aubuchon replacing Blake
Masters as the showrunner.


The pilot was written and co-created by Blake Masters and Henry Bromell
before Bromell died in 2013. In honor to his work, Bromell is still listed
as a co-creator and receives a producer credit. Three strangers realize
they are dreaming parts of the same dream. As they delve deeper into the
meaning behind their connection to each other, they realize that the
implications are much larger than their personal fates, and the future
of the world lies in their hands.


Falling Water has received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator
Rotten Tomatoes gives the series a score of 28% based on 18 reviews, but
they have an Audience score of 72%. The consensus says, "Falling Water
attempts complexity and intrigue but churns out an unimaginative concept
lacking a redeemable payoff." On Metacritic, the show has a weighted
average of 50/100 based on 14 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews."


From Universal Cable Productions and executive produced by The Walking
Dead's Gale Anne Hurd and her studio-based Valhalla banner, Falling Water
is described as a mind-bending thriller intersecting reality and unconscious
thoughts. The drama, which is being exec produced and directed by Juan
Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later), tells the story of three unrelated people who
slowly realize that they are dreaming separate parts of a single common dream.


Each is on a quest for something that can only be found in their subconscious
— a missing girlfriend, a son, a way to communicate with a catatonic mother.
However, the more they begin to use the dream world as a tool to advance
their hidden agendas, they realize that their visions are trying to tell them
something and that their very real lives are at stake.


"People have always been fascinated by the subconscious and
Falling Water explores that topic in very unique and unexpected ways,
" said Jackie de Crinis, exec vp original series at USA Network.
"In this story, the immensely talented and prolific storytellers, Blake
and Henry, have created an innovative thriller and compelling vehicle
to bring the subject of dreams to television."


French actress Lizzie Brocheré (American Horror Story: Asylum) has
been cast as the female lead opposite David Ajala in USA drama pilot
Falling Water, a supernatural thriller from the late Henry Bromell
(Homeland), Brotherhood creator Blake Masters and The Walking Dead
executive producer Gale Anne Hurd.


Written and co-created by Masters and Bromell and directed by Carlos
Fresnadillo, Falling Water, from Universal Cable Prods., is described
as a mind-bending thriller intersecting reality and unconscious
thoughts. It tells the story of three unrelated people — Burton
(Ajala), Taka and Tess (Brocheré) — who slowly realize that they
are dreaming separate parts ofa single common dream.


Each is on a quest for something that can only be found in their
subconscious. However, the more they begin to use the dream world
as a tool to advance their hidden agendas, they realize that their visions
are trying to tell them something and that their very real lives are at
stake. Tess is a cutting edge trend spotter with an uncanny ability to predict
the next big thing, who is haunted by nightly dreams of an absent child.


An intersection between reality and unconscious thought, FALLING WATER
is the story of three unrelated people, who slowly realize that they are
dreaming separate parts of a single common dream. Each is on a quest for
something that can only be found in their subconscious.


However, the more they begin to use the dream world as a tool to advance
their hidden agendas they realize that their visions are trying to tell them
something more, and that their very real lives are at stake.


Displaying 8 out of 1991 comments
02/21/2018 20:24:25

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The soul always knows
what to do to heal itself....

The challenge is
to silence the mind...

If you want to feel rich,
just count the things you have
that money can't buy....

Have a Beautiful
and Gorgeous Time,
with you love ones!
my sweetheart..    .
♥ Nancy ♥

7 Winter Wedding Dos and Don’ts
cozy + snuggly engagement photos by Vic Bonvinci Photography

02/21/2018 19:01:14



02/21/2018 18:16:25

Greetings My Dear Friend

Hang In There,We're Half-Way There...
Always Loves And Hugs,

02/21/2018 17:00:44


02/21/2018 15:47:05

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Enjoy your Evening Sweetheart Robert,


Megan xo

02/21/2018 15:39:25

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Have a Nice Evening Sweet Friend..Hugs n Kisses Britt

02/21/2018 15:34:19

Have a Wonderful Evening and a Peaceful Night! My Sweetheart Robert,

Love and Kisses....


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02/21/2018 15:31:52

Have a Lovely Evening! My Precious Robert,

Much Love and Kisses...


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