It’s all quiet here….

It is.

Basically, as much as I would like to at the moment, I don’t have the time to maintain this blog, a classic internet excuse if there’s ever been one.

Cigarette Burns is in no way slowing down, but until further notice, screening specific blogs will be posted here 

In the meantime, here’s our current upcoming and make sure to sign up to our mailing list!!! Sooo important!

 

 

 

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The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave

Poor Evelyn has a history as ridiculous as it’s plot, and at times as hard to follow, but unfairly neglected and often resigned to the “50 Greatest Horror Films for a £1” DVD collections, with shoddy transfers, it’s overlooked and forgotten. A film that takes some time and appreciation to properly enjoy. You sip it slow and allow it’s insanity to take you where it wants to go.

When you are staring down the winding tale that is Evelyn, you require someone who can tackle a beast, and the captain of the good ship Satanic Pandemonium, kindly stepped up to the challenge. 

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The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave

by Samm Deighan of Satanic Pandemonium

Emilio Miraglia, 1971

Starring: Anthony Steffen, Marina Malfatti, Erika Blanc

La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba aka The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is the first giallo film from director Emilio Miraglia. Though lesser known alongside giallo greats like Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, Sergio Martino, and Umberto Lenzi, Miraglia’s first film will likely delight giallo lovers but probably confuse the hell out of everyone else.

An English lord, Alan, was recently released from a mental hospital after a breakdown over his wife Evelyn’s death. His obsession with Evelyn has not abated and he spends his time trolling bars and clubs looking for red headed women that resemble his wife to come home to his isolated castle and spend the night. But these trysts all result in torture and murder. He has to pay off his wife’s brother, the groundskeeper, to keep silent and attempts a seance that summons Evelyn’s ghost but results in another minor collapse. His doctor convinces him he should marry again and he meets the blonde Gladys. For a time he is happy with her, but Evelyn’s ghost begins to appear around the castle and drives Alan back to the brink of insanity. Gladys finds Evelyn’s tomb empty and strange murders begin to occur around the castle. Is Evelyn back to take her revenge on Alan?

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The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is an entertaining blend of genres and presents a series of intertwining murder mysteries constantly folding and unfolding upon themselves. With that said, the winding plot is far from perfect and will likely confuse giallo newbies. While the genre in general isn’t known for its linear or rational plots, Evelyn is something else entirely. Some scenes drag on too long, where as others cut away without fully explaining events. Though there are many beautiful set pieces, the film is a little choppy and the plot doesn’t really care about making much sense. If you’ve seen a lot of giallo films, this isn’t going to interfere with your enjoyment of the film too much.

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Part of the confusion is due to the fact that Miraglia blends a number of genres together. This begins as a fairly routine Euro-horror serial killer film a la The Awful Dr. Orloff (1962), Bava’s Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970), or even the ridiculous Night of a Thousand Cats (1972), where a series of beautiful women are whisked away to a castle or mansion to be murdered. It rapidly turns into a ghost story with the seance and sightings of Evelyn’s ghost around the castle. The plot eventually morphs into a more giallo-like construction and picks up some genre tropes along the way, including twist after twist after twist.

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If you have the patience for it, the bizarre story is actually in the film’s favor and there aren’t a lot of other gialli with the sheer number of fun twists. Though there are some murders early on, courtesy of Alan, things don’t really kick off till the second half of the film. Evelyn isn’t particularly gory, but includes such unexpected deaths as a woman being fed to a cage full of prized foxes. There are some lovely, surreal visuals with plenty of shots of semi-nude women running through graveyards and one great scene where a stripper, played by the lovely Erika Blanc, rises from a coffin to begin her macabre striptease act. And let’s not forget the wacky ending that involves a swimming pool full of acid.

Unlike other genre directors, Emilio Miraglia for some reason did not make a lot of giallo films even though he started fairly early – Evelyn came out the same year as one of Dario Argento’s earliest films, The Cat O’Nine Tails (1971). As with Mario Bava’s Baron Blood (1972), this is a mix of giallo tropes and Gothic horror, set in a menacing castle in the woods complete with a mouldering crypt and a torture chamber. It also borrows from Bava’s Hatchet for the Honeymoon, as both films center around insane protagonists who murder women because of complicated relationship with their wives, who may or may not be dead and who possibly linger in the form of malignant spirits.

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The uneven cast makes it difficult to really sympathize with anyone and, unlike the films of Dario Argento or Sergio Martino, Evelyn lacks a charismatic protagonist. Part of the problem is that we are simply unsure who to trust. Spaghetti western regular Anthony Steffen does a decent job as Alan, though it’s difficult to rise above a character that is depicted as insane for much of the film. Marina Malfatti (All the Colors of the Dark, Miraglia’s other giallo The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, and more) is icy and reserved, but looks beautiful whether she is screaming in terror or plotting diabolically. She also wears increasingly racy lingerie and is barely clothed for much of the film. The cast is rounded out by Enzo Tarascio (The Conformist) as Alan’s conniving cousin, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart (The Last Man on Earth) as his psychiatrist, and Erika Blanc (Kill Baby, Kill) as a particularly memorable victim.

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Overall The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave is recommended for giallo lovers or at least seasoned Italian horror fans. The film is available uncut on DVD from Eclectic or in the Emilio Miraglia Killer Queen box set with The Red Queen Kills Seven Times.

It is also screening on Halloween at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave will conclude a day full of horror related talks with film historian Jonathan Rigby, film genre programmer Josh Saco, Professor Peter Hutchings, Associate Professor Ian Olney, and Dr Antonio Lázaro-Reboll.

Creepshow (1982) Reviewed

Thirty years after it’s original release, George Romero‘s ‘Creepshow‘ is still a deliciously dark anthology full of macabre tales and comic dark humour. With a new Blu-Ray release thanks to Second Sight, the feature is as bright and bold as ever, with its comic book style aesthetics perfectly captured on screen.

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Written by Stephen King and starring a whole host of familiar names and faces from across cinema and genre film, ‘Creepshow‘ is one of those special films that transcends all ages. Whilst there are some rather dark moments, the film is essentially for both kids and adults, with the slapstick comedy and childlike escaping-reality-for-fantasy comic stories coming to like being the appeal for youngsters. Adults will no doubt like the, sometimes, very comedic touches that come out of the darkest parts of the stories. Revenge, monsters, murder, bad dancing (yes Ed Harris, you are most definitely guilty of this), it’s all there, with literally something for everyone in the form of fears, terror, phobias and characters like the excessive drunk, manipulative colleague, jilted lover and oppressive family members.

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If you’ve never seen the feature, or want to upgrade your DVD to high definition format, now is the time. The transfer looks positively stunning. Not only is the picture quality terrific but it enhances the entire experience. The colours of the comic style that the films homages are once again bright and sickly with Tom Savini‘s special effects looking devilishly beautiful. Whether it be your first time or a revisit, alone or with company, ‘Creepshow‘ is the way to go. They just don’t make anthology films like it anymore.

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Creepshow is out from Second Sight on 28th October, just in time for Hallowe’en, pre-order it here

Sharknado – The Spinning Terror

Brendan tried to avoid the treacherous waters, but no luck, they came to land to find him.  

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Jaws is correctly revered as a classic of the disaster/horror movie genre and rightly credited as the first high concept blockbuster movie. Jaws’ singular premise – a giant monster shark – that neatly translated into one single marketing image, and transformed the way in which films were made and sold in Hollywood to this day.

No one who was certifiably sane would say that Sharknado is destined to have the same homunculus impact on the world of modern filmmaking. However, it is undoubtedly a high concept project (sharks meet tornadoes), it is undoubtedly a disaster film and it has undoubtedly achieved a new and very modern type of success with contemporary audiences.

After amassing several million views on YouTube for it’s trailer, Sharknado’s premier on the Syfy channel accomplished something unprecedented for a made for TV movie by becoming a trending topic on Twitter. Websites and blogs have since collated the best and most amusing of Sharknado’s tweets, while the wave of social media interest in the film secured a limited US theatrical run, again another first for a “Syfy original film”.

Sharknado is a slick example of how low budget filmmaking can leverage social media platforms to generate positive word of mouth and reach new, incremental audiences. The problem for some critics with Sharknado, however, is the nature of the film itself.

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The premise of Sharknado doesn’t require much in the way of thought or explanation. A waterspout brings all manner of man eating sharks in-land to downtown LA, where they wreak all kind of havoc on an assorted cast of b-movie actors. Interestingly this ensemble includes the semi-credible presence of John Heard, he of The Sopranos (Ed: or for our purposes – Cutter’s Way, CHUD and Cat People etc)  and other far more legitimate screen roles. One can only assume John badly needs a paycheck right now.

It is willfully silly, escapist nonsense that pays homage to a host of cheesy pop culture references. The issue and where Sharknado proves to be so divisive, is that it is a project that is designed to be mocked. Unlike say the efforts of Ed Wood or Tommy Wiseau or even some of the movies distributed by Lloyd Kaufman, the makers of Sharknado certainly have no artistic hubris about the highfalutin merit of their work.

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That’s not to say Sharknado is a bad film as such. For my sins I actually enjoyed it. Honest. Production values are better than expected, pacing and narrative move quickly enough and among its truly memorable sequences is the sight of Ian Ziering first being swallowed whole by a badly rendered, flying CGI shark only to then see him cut himself out with a chainsaw and simultaneously rescue his love interest (Cassie Scerbo) from inside the same creature! Wow. Intense.

Sharknado is terrible, self consciously cheesy, deliberately camp fun brought to life purely for the commercial gain of the backers and producers at the Syfi channel. It’s safe to say that with Sharknado, the sharks of this film are not just limited to those in front of the camera lens.

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Sharknado is out on 7th October

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The Fog 16mm screening with Death Waltz Recording Co.

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Click the above image to buy tickets.

2We are super excited to be teaming up with our friends at Death Waltz Recording Company to help celebrate the launch of their latest soundtrack release, none other than John Carpenter’s classic, THE FOG, featuring specially commissioned art by none other than Dinos Chapman, the release and screening will be unmissable.

We’ll be screening a print of the film in the Nave on Essex Rd, N1, DW and CB have been working on this screening for over 6 months, so expect something special.

Don’t snooze as this will sell out, get the tickets while you can.

Exclusive Radley Metzger Interview

CB sent the wonderful Lydia Mitchell, Russ Meyer and general sexploitation obsessive off to have a word with Radley Metzger. 

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 Biographer Jimmy McDonough once pointed something out for me. What Russ Meyer was to the one extreme of sexploitation cinema on the West Coast of America, Radley Metzger on the East Coast was the other side. Whilst Meyer was creating pictures that focused on the visual cliches and superficiality of sexuality, Metzger created a solid filmography that allowed the landscape of human sexual response to be psychosexually examined on screen. Forget the ‘smut’ that many associate with the word sexploitation, Metzger developed a catalogue of sophisticated adult erotica that allowed the audience an introspective viewpoint of their own desires and feelings. In basic layman’s terms, Metzger is perhaps one of the most successful directors to allow his audience to ‘think’ and be ‘aroused’ at the same time. This month see’s the first ever uncut UK releases of three of his best pieces of work, Camille 2000, Lickerish Quartet and Score, through the cult distribution label Arrow. Released on both DVD and Blu-Ray, these films have been digitally restored and packaged with director commentaries and behind the scenes material. Metzger himself took some time out to answer a few questions.

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Firstly congratulations on the Arrow releases, how does it feel seeing your work restored and remastered for existing and new audiences? They look beautiful and Arrow have done a great job. It’s nice to see them again as they were when we first shot them. It’s also exciting to see all the bonus features, some really nice making of footage that was shot as behind the scenes on each film. What was it like revisiting that?

I don’t tend to watch my films, I don’t go back over them again and again. But it was nice to see the behind the scenes material, I had to watch it again when I was doing the commentary and narration, which I hadn’t seen for a long time.

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There’s a lot of talk at the moment about 35mm, its future and preservation as many studios now shoot digitally so it’s nice to see that you’ve kept so much, not just the behind the scenes stuff but cut scenes from your features too.

It’s really sweet of you to say that. It’s not easy preserving film over such a lot period of time and I’m terrible because I keep everything. You should come to New York and see my closets, they’re full of everything that other filmmakers would throw away. I always took a 16mm camera with me on set but it was just a case of when there was time to film. Different crew would just pick it up at different times and shoot what was happening if there was time to. Score was different. We had a member of crew who didn’t think they were doing enough and wanted to shoot the behind the scenes stuff which is probably why it looks so different because its consistent and there’s little wobbling or jumping.

In terms of the footage that you edited from the final cut, were you ever tempted to re-insert it back for the restoration? I’m thinking the striptease that you cut from Camille 2000.

It never really crossed my mind. That was cut more for the pace and flow of the film, it didn’t work originally and we didn’t want to stall the energy of the characters.

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These three in particular were made right in the heart of a social revolution in terms of attitudes towards sexuality and how it was depicted on screen. For you, was it ever about making a political statement through your filmmaking or more a reflection of the times?

It was kind of at the apex of, I don’t know if apex is the word but, the sexual revolution of the sixties, it started certainly in the late fifties, 1964 the Beatles came to New York and we certainly were reflecting the times. But there’s always a counter culture aspect to young filmmakers and I was no exception. Where you feel that it’s your responsibility almost to be a little shocking at the culture, to kind of say to everybody ‘Hey look I’m here!’ I think it’s certainly political and in almost every way filmmakers and writers want to say ‘come out of your complacency’. On reflection it’s probably true in the horror genre which developed simultaneously.

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I’ve been quite of fan of erotic cinema, sexploitation film and how sexuality has been depicted on screen for a very long time but what I like about your films, and these three in particular, is the representation of sensuality and sexuality as one entity as opposed to a strict black and white depiction, especially when it comes to portraying homosexuality, heterosexuality and all things in between. I think Score and Lickerish Quartet are very fluid in their portrayal, is that something that you’ve always felt? Do you think it’s changed in cinema as audiences and filmmakers have gone on?

I think a lot of it is dependent on your source material. I think that there’s a kind of a putzi quality to what you see today. You have a story and then you’ll have things stuck into the story whereas I was very lucky. I was able to rely on source material where the sensuality came out of the story, it wasn’t something that you had to add or talk about. As far as Score I think a great deal of what is successful, I think a lot of its success is the author of the play- it was based on an off-Broadway play, the playwright did a really commendable job in the dealings of seduction.

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You also have a background in importing and distributing European sexploitation fare and softcore pornography in the sixties, do you think any of your work in that field influenced the way you approached filmmaking, such as a greater understanding of the audience of how to portray themes more clearly?

That has been called to my attention. I think that I was very conscious of – well a famous director once talked about the fact that he never went to see movies because of something called unconscious plagiarism. Having studied these films because I had to make the trailers and had to take the film and analyse it, select scenes, and that kind of contact, maybe through the process of osmosis, a lot of it I think bled over. I try very hard, I’ve always been very concerned about not copying other people or by not copying my previous films. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes you just can’t help it. But despite of all the efforts I’m sure that something seeps through your pores from that kind of exposure. Because it’s the exposure of where you take a film to doing a trailer, it’s very intense. I was able to, because I was working for Janus Films which is now the Criterion Collection, I had only really the top of the line films to work with which included lots of Bergman films and Antonioni.

You mention Antonioni, there’s certainly some similar set feelings between Camille 2000 and Blow Up, was Blow Up any influence at all?

Blow Up didn’t make much on an impression. The one that really had a strong influence on me was L’avventura which was the earlier film.

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This is the first time that all three films are being released uncut over here in the UK and I can imagine there will be a few people who will watch it for the first time and really wonder what all the fuss was about. How tolerant do you really think audiences, filmmakers and studios have become?

I think in general audiences, and particularly young audiences, seem to be less demanding than they were. I feel that they seem to settle for less which is a shame because they’re cheating themselves. But that’s just an overall impression I get from watching filmmakers and audiences in general.

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Do you find that anybody comes up to you now and says things about the subject matter, the willingness and understanding of the open relationship in Score for example, when you do screenings or interviews?

The films cut very deeply into audiences. I think at the time and even now – I had a very nice moment where I was invited to a film festival in Oldenburg and was given an award and the audience were very similar to the crowds when the films were first released. It was almost like ‘If you’re going to be a little different, that’s ok’. I feel that people took away at the time different things from it.

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What strikes me now is that there are still a lot of filmmakers who only care for the physicality of sexuality and the mechanics of the act, almost for shock value, but you really seem to explore psychosexuality, the emotional and mental side to it all. I never thought you could survive on a shock level because there’s always somebody across the street who can be more shocking. If you’re going to try and attract an audience based on that, it’s, again, like horror, if you’re going to be horrific, there’s always someone who will be more horrific and I think the only way you can really compete is on the basis that you just articulate the emotion.

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Watching the films back, one scene in particular stood out for me, the bondage party scene in Camille 2000 where Marguerite is held on a chain and forced to watch the man that she loves with someone else. It’s very sadistic and sadly very cruel. Do you think that people tend to respond more to the psychology then the physicality of sex?

Yes. The answer is most definitely yes.

In current filmmaking, it was very easy to be reminded of 9 Songs, Shortbus and Closer in terms of the loneliness and emotional torment in relationships when watching Camille 2000 and especially Lickerish Quartet. Do you think they have modern counterparts or do you just see them as films of their own?

Well, I cant think of anything that I’ve seen that explicitly reminds me of what I did but its touching to know that audiences are responding to the scenes that we shot as intended.

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There’s no doubt that Metzger stands as a pinnacle in the genre of erotic cinema; a figure that has constantly tried to emphasise and embrace the adult emotions and complex psychology surrounding human sexuality with such a deft touch that there are few real competitors. A great starter point for new audiences and a welcome restoration for the existing fan base, the Arrow releases of Camille 2000, Lickerish Quartet and Score are a cinematic delight long overdue a UK release.

Radley Metzger’s ‘Camille 2000’, ‘The Lickerish Quartet’ and ‘Score’ have been beautifully restored and are available on Blu-ray & DVD now.