Sunday, April 30, 2023

Viewings: April 2023

Willem Dafoe going insane in a luxury penthouse in Vasilis Katsouopis's downbeat, art-heist film Inside was my favourite first time watch in April. Judging by the reviews, it's the latest example of movie Marmite, and I'm cool with that.

Other notable highlights were Kurando Mitsutake's pinku / giallo mash-up Maniac Driver, and Jon S. Baird's film Tetris being a very pleasant surprise.


The Whip and the Body (Mario Bava, 1963)

She-Wolves of the Ring (René Cardona, 1965)*

The Valachi Papers (Terence Young, 1972)*

A Haunted Turkish Bathhouse (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1975)*

Death Game (Peter S. Traynor, 1977)*

Martin (George A. Romero, 1977)

Beyond Terror (Tomáz Aznar, 1980)*

Document of the Dead (Roy Frumkes, 1980)

Violence in a Women's Prison (Bruno Mattei, 1982)

Valley Girl (Martha Coolidge, 1983)

The Devil’s Honey (Lucio Fulci, 1986)*

Body Melt (Philip Brophy, 1993)

The Poughkeepsie Tapes (John Erick Dowdle, 2007 / 2014)*

Maniac Driver (Kurando Mitsutake, 2020)*

Creed III (Michael B. Jordan, 2023)*

Inside (Vasilis Katsoupis, 2023)*

Knock at the Cabin (M. Night Shyamalan, 2023)*

One Day as a Lion (John Swab, 2023)*

Tetris (Jon S. Baird, 2023)*


The Last Train Episodes 1 & 2 (Matthew Graham, 1999)

Neighbours vs. Zombies (Ric Forster, 2014)*

Mastermind Epsiodes 28 - 31 (Bill Wright, 2022 / 2023)*

University Challenge Episodes 30 & 31 (Don Reid, 2022 / 2023)*

The Grand National 2023*

World Snooker Championship 2023*

*First time viewings.

Dada Debaser Notes:

  • Fulci was never one for restraint. Much like his ultra gory horror films, The Devil's Honey, his attempt at the erotic thriller, leaves nothing to the imagination and is completly bonkers. Eighties saxophone sleaze undiluted.
  • Completely underwhelmed by John Swab's One Day as a Lion. Frank Grillo and J.K. Simmons relegated to minor roles. Swab's previous film Candy Land (2023) is far better.
  • Sylvester Stallone dodged a bullet not appearing in Creed III as it's entirely forgettable. Why couldn't Adonis be flamboyant like his old man?
  • After decades, I finally watched another holy grail - Death Game. Alan Scouser overrated the hell out of that one.
  • One of my films in the latest wish list post became a doubly accurate prediction the very next day.
  • Even spookier, I'm now wondering if I inadvertently put a death curse on Giovanni Lombardo Radice and Len Goodman, since they both passed away the same month as my Strictly Come Dancung / House on the Edge of the Park post.
  • Congratulations to Greg Wallace off Masterchef for winning this season's Mastermind. His specialist subjects sucked, but he became my favourite once that bloke who reminded me of Louis Theroux got knocked out in the semi-finals:

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Vampire in Braddock

Martin (George A. Romero, 1977)

Ought to precede this by stating that my first impression of George A. Romero's slept-on vampire film, Martin (1977), was a mostly negative one. Romero's modern update of such a traditional supernatural foe, festooned with indie art house sensibilities, was stark contrast to Hammer's traditionally, gothic bloodsuckers which your pre-teen host was accustomed to back in the day. This was new wave before I even knew new wave. Much like our taste buds maturing as we get older, the same is also applicable with film. For this blogger, Martin has gradually improved for the better.

The youthful Martin, played by John Amplas, is apparently an eighty-four year old vampire who has come to live and work with his elderly cousin Cuda in Braddock, Pennsylvania. The superstitious old man isn't afraid to reveal his contempt for Martin; right from their first meeting at a railway station, he ominously professes to him, "first I will save your soul, then I will destroy you!" From this point, their relationship is set in stone. It's old world meets new world.

Martin dispels many myths regarding vampires: sun light doesn't burn our protagonist, although his eyes are sensitive, however; crucifixes and garlic which Cuda has adorned all over his house to protect him and his daughter Christine from Martin, have no power. You begin to wonder why he would even allow Martin in his home. It's revealed that Martin's condition is a hereditary curse, which is countered with outsiders assuming he is suffering from either being an eccentric oddball. Drugging his victims and cutting them with razors are how Martin goes about feeding his lust for blood. The first kill, set on an overnight train travelling to Pittsburgh, illustrates Martin's predatory instincts and his methodical approach to killing. A disturbing scene, in my opinion.

As a character study, the film's titular protagonist, isn't the first new take on vampirism to emerge, but it is one of the more well realised examples. Amplas, a minor cameo actor in everything I've seen him in thus far, does a sterling job in playing Martin as a complex individual. Romero was supposedly so impressed by him, that he rewrote the titular character to look much younger than he really is.

A cool element of the film is Martin regularly calling a talk radio DJ, where he's been dubbed as "the Count". He nonchanontly describes how being a vampire isn't all that cracked up as it's meant to be. Of course, the DJ and his audience openly mock him, labelling him as another one of the city's freaks, but they're some of my favourite scenes from the film, and really serve to get even further inside Martin's psychological state.

Romero uses an effective feature where he edits black and white flashback style scenes into the film. These juxtapostions completely contrast between Martin's romanticed fantasy of what is about to transpire and the ugly reality of how they never do. 

Since it's such a very modest budget film, Romero makes economic use of his cast and locations, by including family and freinds, along with filming in their homes. Romero even improvises scenes by taking advantage of a street marching band playing in the local street and having Martin trying to blend in with the crowd. Tom Savini makes an appearance as Arthur, boyfriend to Martin's other cousin, Christina, played by Christine Forrest, who married Romero a few years after the film. Romero also has a small part in the film as the liberal catholic priest; in one scene he bigs up William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973) in what appears to be an improvised scene.

As mentioned earlier, the film was way over my head, initially. Decades on, when I've since discovered other regional seventies horror gems, like Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971), Messiah of Evil (1973), and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), films which arguably follow in Romero's independent footsteps with the seminal Night of the Living Dead (1968), it's the reason why I've grown to appreciate Martin since then. Would I have loved those movies if I had watched them at such a young age as I did with Martin? Probably not, in all honesty.

Today, Martin's legacy is perceived as an under appreciated horror classic. It's Romero's last hurrah as a somewhat unorthodox film maker, even his follow-up, the god-tier Dawn of the Dead (1978) is a much tighter offering with far more mainstream appeal. This would be a good reason why Romero struggled to get his non-zombie films; especially in the twilight of his film making career.

Apparently, there is an extended version of Martin. Boutique label Second Sight unsuccessfully tried to obtain the distribution rights, but the current owner of the film demanded a sky high price allegedly, thus the extended cut remains largely unseen. That's a real shame for film aficionados, sadly.

Monday, April 24, 2023

No One Knows Who They Were or What They Were Doing

Before Twitter and Reddit ruined the internet, there were online forums. It was the wild west of opinions, and despite the trolling, it was also a welcome time where fellow people from all over the globe could discuss the arts openly.
It's only a matter of time when the plug is finally pulled on another abandoned site I once used to frequent, and with the preservation of the past heading in the direction of the futuristic library in Rollerball (1975), here are some film related opinions that are far more entertaining than anything Robbie Collin or Anna Bogutskaya ever wrote.
Photobucket and TinyPic are effectively dead and Imgur won't let me upload some of these treasures as they're in some weird file format, so I felt obliged to archive them here on this forgotten corner of the internet.
Et voilà!

Millennia from now, mankind's cyber-archaeologist descendants from Tau Ceti’s sixteenth planet will attempt to decrypt the very purpose of these image files in a similar vain to us pondering over Stonehenge today.