WDF – Post-nuklearne polowanie

Joseph Javorsky dołączył do panteonu jednego zmoich ulubionych najgorszych morderców w historii. Perła, którą warto zobaczyć na własne oczy.

Advertisements

Mniej więcej od początków lat 50. ubiegłego wieku filmowcy zaczęli poświęcać sporo uwagi zagadnieniom związanym ze środowiskiem oraz zagrożeniami płynącymi z postępu technologicznego. W tym nurcie filmów kręconych „ku przestrodze” niezmiernie często omawianym zjawiskiem były próby nuklearne oraz ich niszczycielskie działanie. Biorąc pod uwagę okoliczności rosnących napięć politycznych i wiszącą w powietrzu groźbę wojny atomowej, poruszanie takiej tematyki było całkowicie zrozumiałe. Niniejsza recenzja prezentuje jednak dzieło, które ten trudny temat ugryzło wyjątkowo niefortunnie.

Głównym bohaterem „The Beast of Yucca Flats” reżyserii Colemana Francisa, jest wybitny rosyjski naukowiec Józef Javorsky (grany przez szwedzką gwiazdę wrestlingu Tora Johnsona), ścigany przez rosyjskich komunistów. W szaleńczej próbie ucieczki przed swoimi oprawcami, mężczyzna trafia na tereny objęte próbami atomowymi. W wyniku nieszczęśliwego wypadku Javorsky pada ofiarą promieniowania nuklearnego i zamienia się w zdeformowanego potwora, który terroryzuje okolicę.

„The Beast of Yucca Flats” uznany został przez krytyków za godnego przedstawiciela najgorszych filmów w historii już w momencie swojej premiery – dziś to swoisty klasyk „gatunku”. Film Francisa trwa jedynie 54 minuty, ale to naprawdę wystarczająco długi metraż, bowiem taka dawka kiczu byłaby w dłuższej wersji nieznośna. Należałoby zacząć od tego, że z uwagi na brak mikrofonów w miejscach zdjęciowych całość udźwiękowienia dogrywana była w studiu, dzięki czemu fabułę w dość niecodzienny sposób opowiada nam narrator. To on w dużej mierze odpowiedzialny jest za niezamierzony komizm filmu. Jego osobliwe didaskalia uginają się pod ciężarem patosu, a zdarza się, że pozbawione  są również sensu i logicznego powiązania z fabułą. Niejednokrotnie słyszymy o nieposkromionej bestii, która bezustannie poszukuje nowych ofiar, oraz o zastraszającym tempie postępu technologicznego – nie ma to jednak  absolutnie żadnego odzwierciedlenia w tym, co widzimy na ekranie. Coleman Francis więcej filmowego czasu poświęca bowiem wątkom pobocznym – zagubionym na pustyni chłopcom i policjantom ścigającym Javorsky’ego. W wyniku tego reżyserskiego zabiegu rola zmutowanej bestii ogranicza się do histerycznego porykiwania w jaskini oraz bezcelowego snucia się po wyjałowionej ziemi.

Komiczne są  także wysiłki reżysera, by „zakamuflować” wspomniany wcześniej brak mikrofonów na planie. Gdy tylko w scenariuszu pojawia się jakikolwiek dialog, twarze aktorów są sprytnie oddalone lub zmyślnie ukrywane –  na przykład zasłonięte karoserią samochodu. Tak samo nieudane są próby budowania napięcia. Teoretycznie, szok i trwogę budzić ma obecność zabójczego naukowca, ale ten potrafi tylko dusić, zaś jego ofiary nawet nie próbują wydostać się ze śmiercionośnego uścisku, pokornie konając w masywnych dłoniach Tora Johnsona. Ciekawi też sekwencja lotniczego pościgu, w którym jeden z bohaterów zostaje kilkukrotnie raniony – nawet moja elementarna wiedza na temat anatomii pozwala mi podejrzewać, że nikt nie powinien wyjść z nich cało. Ku mojemu zdziwieniu, postrzelony delikwent znosił te przeciwności losu nad wyraz dobrze. Zaryzykowałbym nawet stwierdzenie, że im więcej kul przyjął, tym łatwiej przychodziła mu ucieczka. To właśnie tym podobne absurdy nadają temu wytworowi „filmopodobnemu” wyjątkowego uroku.

Wisienką na torcie jest jednak scena otwierająca dzieło Colemana Francisa –  przypadkowa kobieta zostaje uduszona przez masywnego człowieka, którego sylwetka do złudzenia przypomina Tora Johnsona. Niestety ani reżyser, ani narrator nie silą się na żadne wyjaśnienia tego wątku w filmie. Kim była ta osoba? Dlaczego została zamordowana w mieszkaniu, skoro bestia grasuje na pustyni, z dala od cywilizacji? Podobne pytania nurtowały zapewne wielu widzów po seansie, zatem w jednym z wywiadów z reżyserem poruszono kwestię zagadkowej sceny przed napisami. Odpowiedź reżysera brzmiała: „po prostu lubię sceny nagości w filmach”. Oczywiście, kto ich nie lubi? Mimo wszystko warto byłoby  jakkolwiek je uzasadnić, panie Francis.

„The Beast of Yucca Flats” zapewnił mi w tę skromną godzinę więcej masochistycznej radości, niż większość innych tanich produkcji, jakie widziałem. Duża w tym zasługa błyskotliwych opisów narratora tej dramatycznej opowieści, ale brawa należą się całej ekipie filmowców zaangażowanych w produkcję dzieła. Udało mi się obejrzeć wystarczającą liczbę złych produkcji, aby powiedzieć to z czystym sumieniem – nakręcenie filmu tak złego to prawdziwa sztuka. Lektura obowiązkowa dla fanów gatunku.

Ocena UMP: Tak bardzo kocham takie kino, że aż słów brakuje.

Film „The Beast of Yucca Flats” jest dostępny na YouTube.

Wpadnijcie na moje profile na FB i Twitterze:

https://www.facebook.com/unusualmotionpictures

@UMP_blog

Reminiscing the Forgotten – Octaman (1971)

He is made from rubber, he’s clumsy and unspeakably hilarious – Octaman everybody!

Someone once told me, that it’s crucial to watch an utterly terrible film from time to time – it provides you with a different point of view the next time you spread your criticism. Following this brilliant advice, I occasionally turn myself into a cinematic masochist and rummage through hundreds of weird and low-rated movies. These uncommon journeys usually end up with some remarkable discoveries. Hence, I’d like to introduce you to “Octaman”, directed in 1971 by Harry Essex.

https://i0.wp.com/forgottenflix.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/octaman-poster.jpgA group of scientists conduct research of a contaminated lake in Mexico. Their unprecedented findings suggest, that the studied region is inhabited by a genetically modified, strange mutation of an octopus. The strange creatures are only a beginning to a horrifying discovery of a much more dangerous monster, which treats the scientists as its enemies.

“Octaman” is definitely one of the most hilarious flicks from 70s I have watched so far. It follows the well-known patterns – a group of devoted scientists or scavengers encounter a horrendous creature, which terrorizes them, only to remain safe in its own habitat. What makes Harry Essex’s flick so extremely exceptional is the monster itself and its behavior or, more specifically, a nonsense in its behavior. The titular Octaman is a guy in a rubber costume, with tentacles so immobile, that the actor was forced to swing them around to actually make a punch (!). If I didn’t watch “Octaman” I would never know, that a genetically redesigned, humanoid octopus, could jab someone like a professional boxer. But I don’t want to remain groundless – check this scene below to see how this beauty shakes its body:

Octaman shows up every time one of his smaller, gummy friends is being caught and cut by the scientists – Essex is taking his time to fully exhibit the perfectly crafted, dull face of the monster and it doesn’t matter what time of day it is. Actually, there is an issue going on throughout the entire movie with perception of day and night – there were moments, when I lost it completely. When Octaman is not throwing his rubber tentacles in a random direction, grunting and panting in the meantime, we observe him slowly wandering around with no exact purpose or hiding in the bush.

On the other hand, there is the group of main characters a.k.a. scatterbrained scientists. Henry Essex managed to make a movie, where each of the character is only a part of the shapeless pulp – it’s hard to distinguish any particular personality in this bunch of people. It is amazing what ways this meaningless group finds to deal with poor Octaman, among which the most ludicrous seems to be pointing flashlights at him for good couple of minutes.

https://monsterminions.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/showdown_octaman.jpg?w=820In the entire chaos, which is streamed straight into our heads, “Octaman” manages to bore in the first twenty minutes to make the first screening in the audience – only the toughest remain to witness the rest of the movie, which delivers pure fun. No matter how hard I tried to find anything particularly good about this flick – the only thing were the credits. Especially taking into consideration the final scene – “Octaman” left me with open jaw and huge WTF in my mind. And eyes swollen due to laughter.

If you want to talk about “Octaman” or have an offer of cooperation, contact me on FB (link here) or write me an email: unusualmotionpicturesblog@gmail.com

 

Reminiscing The Forgotten – King of the Zombies (1941)

An ancestor to zombie movies genre, “King of the Zombies” seemed to me as a must to show you guys. Even though I do not consider myself a zombie genre fan, it’s interesting where it all started. At least on the grounds of cinema. Although Jean Yarbrough’s movie was very probably not the first one to introduce the concept of walking deads, it’s definitely interesting piece of cinematography. Particularly, for reasons other than zombies themselves, but the portrayal of the social background of American reality in the 30s…

https://i2.wp.com/deathensemble.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/At-least-Mantan-Moreland-graces-this-poster.jpgThree travelers end up on a ghastly island, where they find a shelter at a luxurious mansion of an eccentric doctor. The more time they spend in the spacious house, the more incredible and terrifying things come to the daylight.

“King of the Zombies” is one of those vintage flicks, which relies solely on performance of one actor. Mantan Moreland, playing the role of a servant Jeff, fires with zingers and mean comments without any break, but it actually holds the entire show at a watchable level. The incredibly pompous Dr. Sangre, portrayed by Henry Victor, is quite irritating – as well as the rest of very schematically playing crew. Nevertheless, the vision of quite harmless zombies used as brainless servants mixed with presence of racism in every piece of “King of the Zombies” seemed compelling to me, yet original and different from what we’re given nowadays. The zombies have turned into a synonym for a disgusting bloodshed, rather than a disturbing life-after-death creation. This 20th century flick could be named an inspiration to many filmmakers – I’m certain “Braindead” by Peter Jackson was an effect of watching Yarbrough’s oldie.

https://i1.wp.com/oldhorrormovies.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Zombie_King_Head_Gear.pngAs I stated before, a disturbing point regarding “King of the Zombies” is the ubiquitous presence of insults on a racism ground. Understandably, times are changin’ – quoting Bob Dylan. Nevertheless, Mantan Moreland’s character is treated worse than a brainless zombie, which for a modern viewer, might be a bit… unexpected. Why is it so then? One reason could be the so-called “Jim Crow laws”, which implied that African Americans were an inferior race. Since “King of the Zombies” was being directed and released in 1941, the World War II was at its beginning phase. Later on, when African-American soldiers started to support the American troops, the society also began to change, favoring them as equal.

What you actually might not believe, this movie received an Oscar nomination! Edward Kay (just check this: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0443033/?ref_=ttawd_awd_1) has received one for the music composed to Yarbrough’s film. The director himself was also very prolific as the composer mentioned above, but  “King of the Zombies” was not honored with any other prizes. Nevertheless, I kind of feel that the Oscars did not change that much in terms of the quality – despite my joy while watching Jean Yearbrough’s horror comedy, I can hardly hum a single theme from it. Not a good sign for an Oscar-nominee composer, right?

https://i0.wp.com/images.qualityinformationpublishers.com/pictures/1076/KingOfTheZombies1.jpg Wrapping things up, I won’t say that ‘King of the Zombies” could be placed in the same line with some less popular flicks by Kubrick, Bergman or Fellini. It is not even the league of some smaller players like James Whale (“The Invisible Man” review can be found here). Even though it’s full of irritating acting mannerism, it still provides entertainment. And let’s be honest, ain’t it what we all expect from a movie?

The movie ‘King of the Zombies” is available online on Youtube, without subtitles.

Parts of the text was based on the following site: http://tuskegeeairmeninthesky.weebly.com/segregation-in-the-1940s.html

 

Reminiscing the Forgotten – Les Yeux Sans Visage (1960)

Eyes Without A Face is by far one of the best horror films in the history of film – gripping, disturbing and well-acted, provides shivers like not many others flicks.

The most accurate description of Georges Franju’s drama, which is erroneously classified by many as a horror, would be a “game of details” – static, prolonged scenes, where every single element exists for a reason, constitute a bizarre insight into the doleful reality we are confronted with. Although the director takes his time to present the events, the story itself grasps the attention, in its twisted, riveting way. Horror movie fans may find some interesting scenes as well, so prepare yourself for it – “Les Yeux Sans Visage” is a remarkable piece of cinematography.

Eyes-Without-a-Face-Poster

After Christiane Genessier’s face is deformed after a car accident, her father, an acclaimed surgeon, does his utmost to right the wrongs and struggles to create a new face for her. His experiments require the use of human material and with the help of a demonic assistant, both cross the line of morality, with purpose to bring peace to the harrowed soul of Christiane. The doctor becomes the target of the local police and this puts a pressure on him – the time is ticking as his mission to soothe the pain of his daughter becomes his main duty. The director doses the pace in a rather slowcoach manner, but due to that, Franju cherishes all the details and creates the opportunity for the spectators to get really sucked into the story. Pierre Brasseur, who plays the role of the maniac doctor, delivers his line a spine-chilling stoicism and precision, which is almost deluding. The devilish assistant completes the portrayal of the fiendish experiments conducted within the boundaries of the saying, that end justifies the means – Genessier does his utmost to reconstruct not only the face of his beloved one, but her entire life as well.

“Les Yeux Sans Visage” is a game of details, which requires a lot of “cinematic” patience when viewing. The thin line of boredom may be once or twice touched, but never fully crossed, as Franju created a darksome, mysterious study of psychology in terms of sin-burdened morality. What’s more, the French classic became a source of widespread inspiration afterwards – let’s sort things out: Almodovar’s acclaimed drama “La Piel Lo Habito” (2011) is relevantly inspired by Franju’s film and it is  only one of few other titles, which shall be listed in here. The most fascinating part of the movie – the surgery – is a masterpiece on its own: not only taking into consideration the realism of skinning the face off (1960!), but also the pulsing suspense throughout the entire scene. It is needless to say, that Georges Franju, being one of the most important French directors, remained quite underrated. “Les Yeux Sans Visage” is by far his utmost, proving exceptional, but bizarre delicacy in moviemaking. The actors follow the rule of minimalism, which in the past was rather unusual – especially the little gestures and countenance of Edith Scob, playing Christiane Genessier. All in all, “Les Yeux Sans Visage” constitute a horrific psychological portrayal, which nowadays gives background to many thriller and horror movies.

Source: http://www.ecranlarge.com

To gather things up, I wasn’t completely out-blown by “Les Yeux Sans Visage” – the film grasped my attention and kept me within some tension till the very last minutes. It represents this part of cinema, where the way the director tells the story is quirky, but that’s how the talents are forged. All in all, what I hate the most is being like the others – and Franju’s horror definitely does not meet that point even merely.