Showing posts with label Caroline Munro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Caroline Munro. Show all posts

03 August 2014


William Lustig's 1980 film Maniac, with Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro, is not the easiest of films to get through even for die hard horror/gore hounds. The film is relentlessly depressing and brutal and is therefore one of my all time favorites of course. You wonder how people can get through a film like this and retain their sanity, but I found a few images online of the cast and crew taking it a bit easy between shots. If you're a fan of the fan these images may help you see the film in a new light. Gee, I know they did me. You can check out my review of this tasty ... er, nasty... little flick here while your at it. In the end, just a bunch of movie folk having a good time.

12 November 2011



1982/Director: David Winters/Writers: Judd Hamilton, Tom Klassen

Cast: Caroline Munro, Joe Spinell,  Judd Hamilton, Devin Goldenberg, David Winters, Susanne Benton, Filomena Spagnuolo( Mary Spinell)

I am certain even the most modest horror film fan has heard of Hammer and Bond girl Caroline Munro. Her long brunette hair and general looks are often simply stunning and she has starred in some fairly memorable horror flicks like The Abominable Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Slaughter High and the shlocky Italian sci-fi film Starcrush. One of her co-stars in Starcrush was New York City veteran character actor Joe Spinell. Spinell’s name may be less familiar to many except for the cognoscenti of b-films. He is more known as a supporting actor and had small roles in The Godfather, The Seven-Ups, Rocky and Taxi Driver before he had his first starring role in the 1980 William Lustig splatter film Maniac. We will get to Maniac in the second part of this double feature and instead will start off with what is sort of a follow up to Maniac pairing Munro and Spinell up again. That film is 1982’s The Last Horror Movie or Fanatic was it was originally released as on DVD. I got a hold of the Fanatic version of the film and not the new Troma release of the movie that is supposed to include a few extra minutes of scenes and some extras including commentaries and interviews. I have to be honest I never listen to DVD commentaries. Simply never. So I do not know if I going to go out of my way to find the Troma release but we will see. I would be interested in the interviews with Spinell’s buddy Luke Walter and Maniac director William Lustig who seems to have stopped directing films (his last being Uncle Sam, which I liked, in 1997) and now produces and is the head honcho at Blue Underground DVD.

I have seen Maniac a few times actually and was excited when I recently read about The Last Horror Movie and that Spinell and Munro had teamed up yet again for a horror/stalker type of film. Of course I expected it to a gore fest like the often over the top Maniac was and was surprised to find that the film was modest in the shock department. There are some gruesome deaths and blood shed to be sure but the film is actually a rather clever poke at slasher film cliches, the world of obsessed fans and the snooty films film makers they pursue. The film is a horror film but is a comedy as well and yet never becomes a wittless spoof. The film was shot guerilla style (i.e. without shooting permits and permission) at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival and that in itself makes the film a curiosity. Slasher type films usually are relegated to a few overused locations, the most notorious being camp grounds or high school/college campuses. The backdrop of Cannes adds a little excitement to the low budget production it would not have been able to achieve in yet another sorority house. And while Munro looks gorgeous as usual and it si fun to look for the fleeting faces of celebrities scuttling from ceremony to ceremony the star of the show is Joe Spinell. He is creepy and pathetic as cab driver and loser Vinny Durand who is beyond hope in his delusions that he is a great film director and that horror queen Jana Bates (Munro) will star in his ‘next’ (actually first and only) horror feature if he could only get the opportunity to talk to her and pitch his idea. He does not get much support from his co-workers or his mom (played by Spinel’s real mother Filomena Spagnuolo). The early scenes of the film of Vinny pleading with his mother to support him were shot in Spinell’s real New York City apartment. Mom just wants Vinny to give up his obsessions and have a plate of macaroni but Vinny is off to Cannes France to meet Jana and shoot his brilliant horror film.

09 October 2011



1980/Director: William Lustig/Writers: C.A. Rosenberg,Joe Spinell

Cast: Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Abigail Clayton, Kelly Piper, Rita Montone, Tom Savini

For my article about the William Lustig film Maniac I simply scanned over the disk for some new screen captures and watched a few scenes over to refresh my memory. I will probably rewatch the film in its entirety soon but I have seen the movie a few times in the past and will rely more on my general impressions of the movie from past viewings than from a fresh rewatch. I first rented the film on VHS back when I lived in San Antonio Texas. It was time when I was renting stuff I read from films books I owned, like The Psychotronic Video Guide and my collection of horror books. There was no Internet back then to learn about films. The reason I watched the film was because Tom Savini did the effects and it was a period when I wanted to see every film Savini had something to do with. Sadly the guy now has decided to be an actor rather than a special effects master. In fact even back then he appeared in many of the films he worked on, such as George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Martin. Savini’s make up work on this feature are some of his goriest to be sure. One classic scene is almost universally reviled by critics and it features Savini himself getting his head blown off by a point blank range shot gun blast. It still looks horrible three decades later.

Now the real problem with this movie is not Savini’s graphic make-up effects or the over top performance by star and co-writer Joe Spinell. Both Savini and Spinell are great, as is Carolyn Munro as Anne who is pursued by Spinell’s psychotic and sexually disturbed  Zito, but the trouble is with Lustig’s often shoddy direction and the overly bleak story by Spinell and C.A. Rosenberg. Of course I still recommend the film. All films here at The Uranium Café are recommended and films I like. But there is some reason I did not want to sit through it yet one time to do a better review. And yet it must say something about me that I have seen the film three or four times already. I just am not in the mood for the film’s despairing atmosphere right now is all. The same issue with the German film Necromantik. I have been wanting to rewatch it for a review but do not want to put myself through the experience right now. And I may be too harsh on Lustig’s direction since the film had a very low budget of about $350,000 and was shot, like The Last Horror Movie, guerrilla style (meaning usually without filming permits for locations). But some of the editing and production guffaws are simply creative negligence. And yet those glitches give the film some much needed campyness as the overall tone is otherwise unrelentingly grim and oppressive.

The story is about a lonely and schizoid landlord named Zito who keeps a collection of mannequins in his apartment. He likes to adorn the mannequins with the scalps of real women and then have conversations with them in his bed. He has monologues with his dead mother who was a cruel, over bearing prostitute. After a while Zito gets bored with his current bed partner and set off to find a new victim. Any film like this requires suspension of disbelief and acceptance of certain implausibility’s. But the relationship that develops between obviously sleazy Zito and photographer Anne is a little too much. Anne accidentally snaps a photo of Zito and while attempting to retrieve the picture, for whatever reason, Zito develops an appreciation for Anne’s work and soon he and Anne are dating and she actually seems attracted to the scum bag in some scenes. Now whether Zito is a twisted serial killer or not is beside the point. It is stretching things a little too much to think hot looking professional photographer Anne would waste much, if any, time on him or give a damn about any of his opinions on her work. The gore sequences are great if you like that sort of things and Spinell is over the top in a fun sort of way but the film lacks any of the wit or humor found in The Last Horror Movie and one wonders if Spinell is trying to deliver a film similar to Taxi Driver in which he a small role.

11 September 2011



1978/Director: Luigi Cozzi/Writers: Luigi Cozzi, Nat Wachsberger

Cast: Marjoe Gortner, Caroline Munro, Joe Spinell, Christopher Plummer, David Hasselhoff

Starcrash is one of those movies that has long on my extensive list of films to see before I die. I tend to not rush into seeing most of these films I doubt that on my death bed when I reflect on my life’s regrets that at the top of the list will be not seeing all of the films by Eddie Romero. But I enjoyed the pairing of Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro in Maniac (1980) and The Last Horror Movie (1982) and figured I could not go too wrong with this 1978 Italian made Stars Wars clone. And I was right, this is a fun albeit totally campy joy ride for fans of 60’s styled Italian sci-fi as well as fans of generally bad cinema in general and of Star Wars rip-off films in particular. And while I would certainly call Starcrash a bad movie it is a ‘good’ bad movie that even people who normally shy away from trash films may enjoy to some degree. There are plenty of reviews on line that bash the film and I was a bit stunned to see such negative diatribe coming out of Tokyo Stomp of all places about the movie. I thought TS was a site somewhat like The Uranium Café that pandered bad movies and treated them gently in their reviews. Not so with Starcrash but do not let phrases there like “…nearly unwatchable for many reasons” deter you. This is a watchable and enjoyable little film even if it does feature David Hasselhoff in one of the leading roles (the Princess Leia role from Star Wars actually.) Along with Spinell, Munro and the ‘multi-talented’ Hasselhoff the film also stars Christopher Plummer in the obligatory ‘established British actor who needs to pay the mortgage somehow’ category and 70’s cult figure Marjoe Gortner who plays a character that is Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and C-3PO all rolled into one.

Director Luigi Cozzi –who worked as assistant director and special effects artists for Dario Argento but lets not hold that against him- does a fine job of capturing the spirit of some of the earlier Italian sci-fi films of the 60’s and early 70’s and I can’t help but feel some of the effects and sets in Starcrash are deliberately cheesy though that would sheer speculation on my part. Even using someone like the always annoying Hasselhoff in a lead role seems like a bit of a joke in retrospect but at the time the guy was a hot item and his hit TV series Knight Rider was right around the corner in 1982. While most of the actors in the film appear to have tongue firmly planted in cheek pretty little Hasselhoff is acting for dear life in all his scenes and his exquisitely blow-dried coiffure is never a follicle out of place. The plot is totally derivative of Star Wars but it was hardly the only Star Wars clone to come along after the mega-success of the George Lucas space epic. While utterly corny places and with schlocky effects that wile lave you flabbergasted at best the film is till ore watchable than some of the other Lucas rip-offs such as the Battle Star Galactica TV series. The movie has rightfully earned itself a place among the great midnight-cult movies and was recently released on the Shout! Factory DVD label as part of the Roger Corman Cult Classic series. I have the nice looking Shout Blu-ray version but I got it here in China and all the cool extras were left off the pirated DVD here. Hate when they do that. All I got was the film trailer.