#46 – What Did They Do To Patricia?

(1974, US, 92 min) Dir Art Blitzen. Cast Angela Raider, Pete Diggs, Harry Pork.

Given that The Exorcist’s release coincided with the ‘Golden Age’ of porn with Deep Throat, Behind the Green Door and so on, it should come as no surprise that someone would meld these two types of blockbuster together. Unfortunately that person was ‘Artless’ Art Blitzen and his effort What Did They Do To Patricia? (whose title, incidentally, is nonsensical) might actually be a step down from the likes of Jesus Franco’s Lorna the Exorcist, if such a thing can be believed. Angela Raider plays history student Patricia who has been possessed with the Paluzu, a spirit from an old icon, and of course this  renders her an insatiable nymphomaniac. By the time the church gets around to drafting in a pair of priests to rid her of the demon she’s already drained three men of their ‘lifeforce’, which means exactly what it sounds like. Unfortunately for both the viewer and everyone in the film too, the aforementioned priests are sex-crazed lunatics with a rather unfortunate method in mind of divesting Patricia of her demon. This film is all kinds of wrong – not just in a moral sense (though you’ll feel in need of a wash afterward) but also aesthetically, as everything seems to take place in a series of nightmarish bedsits and in them ‘Artless’ Art seems to spend as much time lingering on the appalling décor or figuring out how to pull focus as he does on recording the ‘action’ itself. Grim.

www.imaginaryfilmguide.com

Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#45 – Notte il diavolo venne per Sandy, Il (Night the Devil Came for Sandy, The)

(1975, It, 112 min) Dir Paolo Andreotti. Cast Nicoletta Elmi, Carla Gravina, Mel Ferrer.

Whereas the majority of exorcism films take their cue from The Exorcist and follow the story from the perspective of the parents and/or the priests, The Night the Devil Came for Sandy takes a different perspective – that of the possessed. As if that wasn’t innovation enough, as suggested by the title the whole film also takes place over the course of one night. The film opens with young Sandy (eleven year old horror vet Elmi) being tucked into bed by her mother who leaves the night-light on and goes downstairs. All is quiet until, just before Sandy drifts off to sleep, a voice comes from the darkness at the far side of the room, the voice of a small boy. “Hi Sandy,” says the voice from the dark, “My name’s Phillip.” Sandy sits up and peers into the darkness but can’t see anyone there. “Hi Phillip,” she replies, “Why are you in my bedroom?” The voice laughs. “Because I want us to be friends.” Soon enough the conversation trots along from inside the bedroom to the inside of Sandy’s head and Andreotti has plenty of excuses to throw all sorts of madness at the screen, from hair-raising dream visions of a blood-dripping Satan in her room to savage biting attacks from the possessed Sandy on the clergy (hastily assembled in the middle of the night via, presumably, some sort of exorcism hotline). Pretty well handled from the usually schlocky Andreotti with an appropriately bonkers Morricone soundtrack.

www.imaginaryfilmguide.com

Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#44 – Claws of the Damned

(1946, GB, 100 min, b/w) Dir Alberto Cavalcanti. Cast Elisabeth Welch, Miles Malleson, Frederick Valk.

A worthwhile addition to the horror subgenre of killer kitties, Claws of the Damned features Elisabeth Welch in a rare lead role as Rose, the maid hired to work at the decrepit Howe Hall without there seemingly being anyone to serve under save a couple dozen black cats roaming the house. It teeters into rote mystery solving by the end with dread family secrets and all that but what the film has to offer in spades is atmosphere – thick, eerie atmosphere. Those who have seen the film (few and far between they may be) all talk in hushed tones of the scene in Rose’s dark bedroom as she finds herself drifting off to sleep. The camera becomes her eyes, the hazy darkness of her lids opening and closing slower each time. With each blink the room grows darker and with each dial down of the darkness the room, it seems, becomes populated more and more with the black cats of the house. The genius of it is like that of The Innocents where the viewer, like the protagonist, is never quite sure of what it is they’ve seen. Of course she wakes with a jolt and, fumbling with the light, gets the room illuminated to find that the cats aren’t there. Just about finished when Cavalcanti left Ealing under a cloud this didn’t receive the kind of a release that it should have and was reportedly disowned by the director too. A truncated version from a scratchy print is up on YouTube for the curious and uninitiated.

www.imaginaryfilmguide.com

Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#43 – Buried Hearts

(1985, US/GB, 105 min) Dir Alastair Hirst. Cast Jessica Lange, Julian Sands, Denholm Elliott, Hugh Grant.

Jessica Lange is the young American widow Ms Allison Fairley, the kind of person who one finds depicted in films as a ‘live wire’ or a ‘free spirit’ but that you, in real life, wouldn’t wish to be trapped in an elevator with. Since she has a lot of money from her late husband’s estate and a lot of free time Ms Fairley has decided to travel to Edwardian England to indulge herself in her latest hobby – the digging up of dinosaur bones. The reason she has her eye on England of all places is because of Sir Evelyn Pearson (Sands), the internationally acknowledged expert on all things paleontological. Of course he wants to have nothing to do with this forthright and crude American but she’s not easily put off – even if it means turning up at every one of Pearson’s digs she’ll get her man in the end. In the end, of course, she does but that’s not really a spoiler, is it? Produced by the estimable Merchant Ivory team though written and directed by TV veteran Alastair Hirst, this slight film seems at times to be trying a little too hard to out-Merchant Ivory the duo themselves. A young Hugh Grant adds value as Pearson’s flabbergasted student who is alternately appalled and besotted by the manic Fairley.

www.imaginaryfilmguide.com

Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#42 – Sex Lives of the Living Dead, The

(1973, Fr, 84 min) Dir Jesus Franco. Cast Montserrat Prous, Anne Libert, Francisco Acosta, Howard Vernon.

AKA Passion of the Zombies AKA Lust of the Dead AKA Erotiknomicon AKA one of about a million films that the legendarily prolific Jess Franco is credited with the same year. Jack and his pals have travelled to an off-season resort for some manly times together fishing, getting drunk and shooting passing snakes to bits whilst laughing at nothing much. Thankfully night falls and from the woods around them comes the sound of eerie song followed by a trio of beautiful half-naked women. That’s right – to the relief of some and the consternation of sickos the living dead of the title aren’t as decomposey as might have been feared. No, they’re just spooky forest dwelling nudists and of course Jack and his pals don’t seem to think that there’s anything weird about this either, they just take it in their stride that buck-naked ladies are in the habit of such behaviour. Local man Danny (Vernon) turns up though and he finds the whole set-up a touch out of the ordinary. On top of that thinks that he might have seen these ladies before… Yes it’s slow and yes it’s riddled with all kinds of inconsistencies of tone and behavior but hey, it was probably shot in a weekend. On the plus side is Bruno Nicolai’s soundtrack and some choice badly dubbed awful dialogue such as “Hey asshole, is that a lake?” and “You don’t mean that I just had sex with -gulp- a zombie?” With films like this it’s best to just sit back and enjoy the ham.

www.imaginaryfilmguide.com

Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#41 – How Long Until Then?

(1976, Fr, 111 mins) Dir Roland Sacher. Cast Roman Polanski, Romy Schneider, Hans Neuber.

It’s plain to see what attracted Polanski to a rare performing role in Sacher’s second film – it’s the story of a man (Monsieur P, Polanski) under house arrest in his apartment in an anonymous European city where everyone speaks English who is spiralling into madness and is repeatedly visited and interrogated by a beautiful woman (Schneider). All three of the main points here – the enclosed space, the slide into insanity and the beautiful woman – tick the right boxes for the diminutive Polish auteur. There is a fourth thing too: oppression by unknown forces. Monsieur P wakes one morning to find a letter having come through his letterbox stating that until further notice he is forbidden to leave. He tries anyway and is confronted by Hans Neuber’s trenchcoat-clad goon waiting in the hallway. He calls his work but they already know about his arrest and request that he not contact them until the board have discussed the matter themselves. He calls his family but they are no longer there. What is happening to him? Why is his life falling to pieces? Then his interrigator arrives and with her the meat of the film too – a series of two-handers where the interrogator dissects every moment, every slight and folly of Monsieur P’s life. Filmed while Polanski was in Paris making The Lodger, it’s an interesting film for him to have made at that particular point in his life following his comeback with Chinatown and just prior to the arrest that would see his move to Europe made permanent.

www.imaginaryfilmguide.com

Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#40 – Spanish Inquisition, The

(1973, It, 80 min) Dir Antonio Marretti. Cast Vincent Price, Barbara Steele, Patrick Magellan.

Reuniting Price and Steele following Corman’s The Pit and the Pendulum, Marretti’s The Spanish Inquisition finds the two of them in the same torturer/victim relationship as before. Young Francis (Magellan, still hanging around from Circo Nero and still wooden as all hell) longs to run away with his love Elizabeth (Steele) but when he finally drums up the courage to act he is interrupted by the arrival in town of the dreaded Spanish Inquisition. Price is Inquisitor Medina and from the time he first arrives he has his eyes set on Elizabeth. It all gets a bit Witchfinder General from then on – he concocts an accusation against her so that he can get her alone for some special torturing and, despite Francis’ best efforts, gets her up on the stake for the finale. But, just when you thought that unlike the Python’s Inquisition this was totally expected, Elizabeth’s head turns into a writhing ball of snakes and her unfurling bat wings snap the ropes that bind her to the stake. Yes, that’s right – she actually is some sort of Satanic hell-spawn and of course the Inquisition are running about like headless chickens because this is the first time they’ve actually seen a demon. But Elizabeth quickly blinds Inquisitor Medina and grabs a now not so keen Francis, making off into the dying sun. The special effects are terrible but points are scored for the unexpected.

www.imaginaryfilmguide.com

Twitter: @MadeUpFilms