Monday, 29 June 2009



I don't much care for Herschell Gordon Lewis. Years ago I saw the UK video version of Two Thousand Maniacs, so heavily shorn of all its graphic gore effects that it emerged as Two Thousand Mildly Annoyed People, and I'd be surprised if watching it again with the splatter and dismemberment restored would be a significantly better experience. (The film also has the most annoying damned theme song in the history of absolutely everything: The South's gonna rise again, yee-haa - repeat to fade).

But I discovered that HG Lewis' 1972 offering, The Gore Gore Girls, is legitimately available online for free and, it being a slow afternoon, gave it a try. Really, why not make an exceedingly slow afternoon of it? Strippers and go-go dancers are being sadistically murdered by a masked killer and the police are stumped until one Abraham Gentry, world-famous detective and utter ponce, steps in at the behest of the newspapers. Who could it be? Could it be the traumatised war veteran who can only cope with life by pounding his fists into fruit? Could it be the humourless old bag from the Local Women's Lib movement? Could it be the missing kid who's fallen in love with one of the strippers? While Gentry ponces about interviewing the various suspects, more bodies are piling up, butchered in hideous ways bordering on the gratuitously repulsive, even by the standards of the senseless gore movie. Eyes are gouged out (and pushed back), faces dunked into boiling chip pans, nipples chopped off, buttocks beaten with a meat tenderiser. The Gore Gore Girls is, of course, absolutely terrible. No-one's capable of acting; the actor Frank Kress playing the detective/ponce has never been heard of since and the girls are there for the sole purpose of getting them out and shaking them up and down every few minutes. It's indifferently photographed, and the amateur gore effects go on for far too long.

Thousands have figured this out before, but I only saw it the other day: thinking about it afterwards, I suddenly realised that The Gore Gore Girls is not just a cheap piece of tacky drive-in sleaze, but a giallo. Masked killer, multiple suspects, unofficial investigation, twisted motives, buckets of blood - it's an Italian murder mystery, a Bava or an Argento. It's an Argento film made by a hopeless idiot, it has none of the flavour, flair, visual magic or pace of even a bad Argento film, but it's the kind of thing he could have taken as a very rough idea and made something passable with. As it is it could have been made by Argento's dog, for all the suspense and excitement it manages to generate.

Bizarrely, the IMDb recommends Argento's own Mother Of Tears in the "if you liked that, you'll like this" section. Mother Of Tears is an out of control mess with some good stuff sandwiched between the awful dialogue and unfathomable craziness, but it's still leagues about HG Lewis' hack job.


For what it's worth, Amazon stock this thing:

Sunday, 28 June 2009



It's really difficult to review this without resorting to uncharitable and ungentlemanly comments, but I'll try. Hardcore is a softcore British smutcom from 1977, apparently detailing the life and countless loves of sex symbol Fiona Richmond (played by sex symbol Fiona Richmond) in a series of flashbacks which play out like a checklist of Dirty Raincoat fantasies: schoolgirl molested by the chemistry teacher (Richmond was over 30 when she filmed this and – ungallantry ahoy – it shows), lesbian tryst on a yacht, bonking a railway ticket inspector, action on a blue movie set, and so on. Frankly it's just a rather grubby parade of boobs and pubes aimed pretty squarely at the typical adult movie audience of the time. It couldn't be more explicit and actually live up to the promise of the title because the censors wouldn't let them so it ends up as coy and suggestive.

Much of the dubious pleasure of watching this kind of movie is spotting the familiar British sitcom stars and character actors. This one is slightly unusual in that it doesn't have a semi-regular from the Carry On films or anyone from Dad's Army. But it does include Graham Crowden, Ronald Fraser and Victor Spinetti (camping it up as a features editor at Men Only magazine, and all his scenes have a middle-aged bloke in the background groping the breasts of prospective models). Graham Stark shows up in the last reel as a French policeman complete with Clouseau accent, which is hardly surprising as he was in most of the Pink Panther films anyway.

The weirdest thing is that while watching it, I was reminded of none other than Catherine Tate! In fact, if some enterprising producers are thinking of doing The Real Fiona Richmond Story (as opposed to this sexed-up bumfest) she'd be ideal casting. She can also look scary and she doesn't do comedy very well. (I think Tate is at her best when she's working from someone else's scripts, as in Doctor Who, and the problem with her comedy shows is that she wrote them.)

So the comedy is pretty non-existent and the sex (or what bits of it they were allowed by law to show) is dull. And – ungallantry ahoy #2 – I don't get Fiona Richmond in the way I'm supposed to: as a sex goddess. I get Mary Millington but I don't get Richmond. (If it's any consolation, I don't really get Marilyn Monroe in that way either.) To be brutally honest I think Richmond is a bit scary-looking. And there's also the fact that she can't act. I know that in this kind of movie that's the last thing on anybody's mind – if you want acting, go get Meryl Streep but she's not going to do that lesbians-on-a-yacht scene. It's mainly absolutely terrible and even the occasional appearance of a sitcom star doesn't help. For me the biggest thrill (of any kind) was a three-second shot of a TV set broadcasting an old movie called Sweet Virgin in the background while Fiona and Number 72 are fumbling about on the vicarage floor. And that old clip woke me up basically because it had Lalla Ward in it: one of my favourite Doctor Who assistants during the Tom Baker years. Now, how rubbish does a movie have to be when the best bit is an unrelated clip from a completely different movie?


Should you really want to, you can get it from Amazon: