Thursday, 13 October 2016



The glossy erotic thriller, the 18-rated top-shelfer that festooned video libraries in the wake of Basic Instinct.... let's be honest, they weren't that good. At their best they were enjoyable enough Friday night tosh: half a dozen prettily photographed humping scenes and ladies (usually Shannon Tweed, Shannon Whirry, Delia Sheppard and/or Tanya Roberts) parading around vast mansions in lacy lingerie, while proper recognisable actors like Jan-Michael Vincent, David Carradine, Maxwell Caulfield and Sam Jones did the daft neo-noir plot scenes that stopped Animal Instincts, Illicit Dreams and Night Rhythms from just being porn movies. Sadly, as with any sudden run on a new and exciting subgenre, it quickly petered out into utter hackwork with near-unwatchable dreck like Illegal In Blue and The Pamela Principle.

Ordinarily Scoring would have bypassed me entirely (there's no UK distribution on this one anyway, unless you count a YouTube upload) were it not for the fact that it's one of a very small number of movies about film composers. As a score and soundtrack enthusiast for many years and a fan of the likes of Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, Bernard Herrmann et al, the idea of an erotic thriller about a film composer naturally seems more intriguing than an erotic thriller about an architect or a restaurant critic. Nice idea, but Scoring not only stinks as a thriller, sexy or not, but it also stinks as a glimpse into the soundtrack world, being so utterly implausible that it would have been only half as laughably absurd if it has been set on Neptune.

Our hero is one Eric Lazlo, a fabulously wealthy musician despite [1] scoring terrible erotic thrillers and [2] scoring them astonishingly badly. (No soaring melodies or tremelo minor sixths here: his approach to every single scene, be it a sex session or a tarantula attack, is tinkly electric piano and bland sax solos.) Who could be trying to kill him? Could it have anything to do with the meaninglessly titled rubbish sex thriller Scorpio Descending that he's supposed to be scoring apparently over a period of weeks, when he occasionally bothers to footle about on a keyboard? Could it have anything to do with the plagiarism lawsuit mentioned near the start? Could it have anything to do with the hooker he's taken to?

It's all very boring, it's all very stupid, it's all very low on thrills and energy. All the women take their clothes off a lot, and we don't just get the sex scenes from Scoring, we get them from Scorpio Descending as well. The trouble is, they're all indistinguishably terrible: the demonstrably stupid movie-within-a-movie is no better and no worse than the demonstrably stupid Scoring itself. It's also hugely problematic in places, not least because it includes a rape scene in which the victim calls out to her boyfriend upstairs that she's fine - while being raped by an intruder. Cretinous garbage either way: badly done, makes no sense, and even as a "yeah, but on the other hand..." the endless sex scenes aren't that impressive anyway. Director Toby Phillips, aka Paul Thomas, has 445 director credits on the IMDb, over forty of them in 2005 alone. Make of that what you will.


Saturday, 8 October 2016



Rule one: if your father made horror movies and you want to make horror movies as well, the bar is higher than it is for Bob across the street whose dad was a coal miner. Jennifer Chambers (Lynch) has had variable success, Brandon Cronenberg sort of managed it, and Cameron Romero wisely avoided zombies altogether but it still didn't do him any good. (I'm not sure Asia Argento's Scarlet Diva was even a horror film, but I didn't much like it anyway.) Meanwhile, Lamberto Bava has doubled down on tempting the fates here: not just remaking one of Mario's films, but his first and one of his most striking - and has ultimately made a colossal Farage of it.

Less a straight remake of Black Sunday, 1989's The Mask Of Satan (La Maschera Del Demonio) feels like more of a rehash of Lamberto's own equally nonsensical Graveyard Disturbance with only occasional nods to its supposed source material. Surprisingly, it begins in bright, crisp sunlight with a gathering of one-dimensional teenage dumbasses on a skiing trip: before long they tumble into a crevasse, but sadly they don't hurt themselves anything like enough. No sooner have they chanced upon a mysterious spiked mask impaled upon a long-dead body than [1] the one injured member of their party is mysteriously healed and [2] another of the gang is fatally impaled on a shard of rock and is thereafter barely mentioned again. Exploring the caverns they come across a church (complete with blind priest) and a hidden village which might be where a seventeenth century witch laid down a curse on everyone. And it suddenly looks as if the reborn Anibas is possessing cute virgin Sabina (oh, how these ancient forces of evil love their anagrams!): sex, wanton lechery, a lot of running around the church and everyone getting killed and then being alive again....

At some point this was retitled Demons 5: The Devil's Veil, so they could incorporate it into the Demons franchise along with similarly unconnected movies The Sect, The Church and the supreme gibberish of Luigi Cozzi's incoherent The Black Cat. Whatever you want to call it, it's still absolute rubbish: Sabina's dumb boyfriend takes ages to twig the backward lettering even when ANIBAS has been written on the window in capital letters in front of him, everyone behaves like a complete moron whose idea of a good time is to confuse a blind man by moving his furniture for a joke, the witch keeps revealing herself as a hideous bloated hag and then as Sabina again. It has a few nice visual moments with the coloured lighting and a Sergio Stivaletti deflating breast prosthetic, and it's nice to see Michele Soavi playing one of the morons, but it's dull and stupid, with no interesting characters and none of the atmosphere than Mario Bava's film possessed. Hardly surprising it's washed up on YouTube rather than any kind of regular UK distribution.