aka Scontri Stellari Oltre la Terza Dimensione 1978 Written by Luigi Cozzi (as Lewis Coates) and Nat Wachsberger
Directed by Luigi Cozzi (as Lewis Coates)
The galaxy is threatened by a secret weapon from a mad dictator – something that projects red blobs into ships! The horror, red doesn’t go with most peoples’ outfits, which drives them mad. Or maybe the red blobs themselves drive the people mad. Whatever the case may be, the galaxy is in danger, so who’re you gonna call? Obviously two random smugglers! Wait, WHAT? It’s Italy, baby!
Starcrash is one of those films that if you love bad movies, you have to watch it. It’s the law. Bad Movie Law. That’s totally a thing. Because Starcrash is freaking awesome! There’s so much to love from every direction of cheese! We got crazy costumes, scantily clad space babes, a ridiculous robot, David Hasselhoff, light sabers, model spaceships (complete with model sprues glued to the outside!), fireworks explosions, blobby weapons, giant titans, dodgy dialogue, traitorous goons, amazing amazons, kooky cave dwellers, a hand-shaped space station, and scene-chewing villains. Mix that together and Starcrash crashes all over the screen with top notch entertainment!
Star Wars that is totally not Star Wars was a brief specialty in a lot of local movie production hot zones. Italy managed to produce more than most, thanks to Italy then being a source of hundreds of cheap films pumped out. While that system was slowly breaking apart, it was still cohesive enough to produce a good amount of science fiction junk that could cash in on Star Wars. Starcrash manages to be 1000% times more 1970s while still being an entertaining film that is a lot more swiftly paced than most of the Italian Star Wars ripoffs (the rest are almost universally long and terrible) Continue reading →
1983 Written by Richard Vetere
Directed by William Lustig
William Lustig does Death Wish with Vigilante! Vigilante follows a reoccurring Lustig motif, namely the entire system is corrupt and things can only get accomplished when you take matters into your own hands. Vigilante is the most extreme example, but the entire Maniac Cop series works under the premise the corrupt system framed the Maniac Cop, and even Hit List features police unable to protect people or legally bring powerful mobsters to justice. Vigilante says that what you can’t trust the cops and courts to do, you can trust guns and fellow angry citizens to carry out.
I saw Vigilante at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in their Bay Area Now 7 program, under the Invasion of the Cinemaniacs! heading, specifically the part curated by Jesse Hawthorne Ficks of Midnite for Maniacs, who hosted two William Lustig triple features (a sextuple feature?) spread across two days. Vigilante screened between Maniac and Hit List, while the next night was all three Maniac Cop films. William Lustig himself was in attendance, and did some entertaining Q and As. Lustig is very charismatic and shared stories about filming and some of the actors/producers of his films. I’ve included some of what he mentioned in the reviews.
Eddie Marino (Robert Forster) was just a normal good working man with a family, until his family is violently attacked and destroyed by a mad gang. The cops are unable to bring more than one member to trial (citing lack of evidence), and the trial quickly goes south due to corrupt lawyers and judges forcing plea deals, meaning the gang leader gets a whole two year suspended sentence for assault and murder of a young child. When Marino is rightly outraged over this, he’s the one tossed in jail for contempt. Continue reading →
1980 Story by Joe Spinell
Screenplay by Joe Spinell and C.A. Rosenberg
Directed by William Lustig Maniac is an infamous film, a violent slasher that is almost entirely focused on the killer. The film faced criticism upon release due to violence against women, but became a hit and has gone on to become a genre classic. The film is far more complicated than just a simple slasher film. Co-written by and starring Joe Spinell, Maniac is disturbing, but well-crafted and delivers suspense and terror in a way modern horror has shifted away from.
I saw Maniac at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (yes, Maniac was screened at a museum!) in their Bay Area Now 7 program, under the Invasion of the Cinemaniacs! heading, specifically the part curated by Jesse Hawthorne Ficks of Midnite for Maniacs, who hosted two William Lustig triple features (a sextuple feature?) spread across two days. Maniac screened with Vigilante and Hit List, while the next night was all three Maniac Cop films. William Lustig himself was in attendance, and did some entertaining Q and As. Lustig is very charismatic and shared stories about filming and some of the actors/producers of his films. I’ve included some of what he mentioned in the reviews. What I like about screenings like this is I would probably never just watch Maniac on my own. Horror/slasher films aren’t really my bag, but to see it as part of a screening group like this makes it just fit in. Watching film is all about expanding your horizons, because you never know what you will discover when you leave your comfort zones. I try to follow that philosophy at TarsTarkas.NET, hence part of why we cover such a diverse range of global cinema. Maniac follows Frank Zito as he embarks on a crusade of terror in the streets of New York City, stalking and slaying women, then scalping them and dressing mannequins up in their clothes, with the scalps nailed to the heads. Much of the film is Frank following the various women and the ladies responding in terror, the tension building as their attempts to escape become dashed again and again. In between we see Frank breaking down in his apartment, conflicted by his compulsion, but unable to do anything to stop it. Frank has issues about his abusive dead mother. In a conversation with photographer Anna D’Antoni (Caroline Munro) in the film’s loose plot narrative, Frank talks about photos as a way to preserve the women forever. Frank’s talks with Anna are about as normal as he gets, but the facade can’t last long and soon he’s breaking down and hallucinating his dead mother is attacking him in a graveyard. Frank’s demons are his ultimate undoing, his destructive force turning upon himself. Continue reading →