Thursday, August 21, 2014

Formula For Murder

Formula for Murder

A Giallo crime mystery from the gutter of Italy; Formula for Murder is a movie that abides by the genre familiarities of blood soaked yellow rain coat killers, a seemingly helpless protagonist, and religious iconography encompassed by a dark and mysterious multi-layer cake of murder mystery plot.  Formula for Murder does it one better and includes people fencing and jousting in wheel chairs and a European version of the Special Olympics.  The plot is straight forward enough, a chair bound millionaire heir named Joanna is targeted by a scheming couple (Greg and Ruth) looking to score her McScrouge sized fortune.   Greg somehow is able to pose as a physical therapist, eventually winning his way into Joanna’s heart though fencing with her and showing her how to properly throw a javelin.  True love is showing someone how to kill a man.  Ruth weasels her way into Joanna’s life as her personal nurse and confidant.  Because this is the setup right from the beginning we can only assume the greedy couple’s scheme took years to execute, making it all the more fantastic and unbelievable.  Joanna firmly believes Ruth to be her best friend, not the kind of trust that’s formed overnight.  As Joanna suffers from haunting nightmare and flashbacks involving horny old priests, Greg and Ruth quibble about the best way to finish her off, an argument that eventually ends in Greg viciously stabbing Ruth repeatedly with a razor blade.  Somehow Greg knows that Joanna was raped by a priest as a young nubile girl, a tragic event that left her disabled in a wheel chair, so to push her over the edge he dresses as a priest and spooks her repeatedly, making her repeatedly question her already fragile state of mind.  At the end Greg reveals himself to be the killer, and Joanna reveals she kind of knew it the whole time!?  Through some contrived logic Greg was hoping to cause Joanna to have a fatal wheelchair accident to inherit her fortune, but the tricks on him, all the deadly arrow shooting, fencing, and javelin throwing skills he taught her come back to bite him in the ass at the end. 

Formula for Murder is a decent chunk blower, plenty of gooey, splattery Giallo styled slashings to go around.  Even though the plot seemingly defied common sense with a flaming middle finger it seems to work on a visceral level.  The DVD came with a slick yellow rain parka to play your own sick little psycho stalker games with, ya sick pup.  Go outside and play!



Brutal z-grade basement budget horror so good it needs two title screens; Scalps is a bloody mess of Indian curses and transmogrification, a virtual cornucopia of racial stereotypes and loud mouthed jerks.  The story centers on a group of amateur archeologist that dig up a sacred spooky Indian burial ground and become possessed by a blood hungry native named Black Claw who more closely resembles a living troll doll in dirty gray underpants than a malevolent spirit of the ancient world of Indian black magic.  The gore comes thick and gooey with slow motion scalping action and some nice arterial spray to make your day.  Randy the macho jerk-wad was a personal favorite character of mine calling chicks BITCHES and basically owning everything with his cheesy cut off shirt and ragged blue jeans.  Spoiler alert you numb skulls, I love movies where everyone dies in the end and this is one.  Evil prevails!  I evoke the lion headed wizard of Native American black magic to make the sequel Scalps 2: The Return of DJ a reality!

Cards of Death 1986

Cards of Death

This is a stick up sleazebag; give me all your good taste because you won’t need an ounce of it for Cards of Death; a movie that is a holocaustic bomb of depravity, hooker nails, and porn lighting.  Featuring a sordid and bizarre love affair between a neo-Nazi dominatrix named Tracy and a brutal sadomasochist with spider tattoos named Hog Johnson, Cards of Death deals out the bludgeoning with cheese and crackers; literally.  The main pelvic thrust of the story centers around a struggling finger painting artist (seriously) named Billy who is trying to find out what happened to his father, the police chief, whom mysteriously disappeared when investigating a series of serial killing like murders taking place every Thursday.  The poor red flanneled schmuck is actually held captive by Hog and Tracy who slowly and systematically torture the chief, cutting off his nose with a cheese slicer along with several fingers and toes and sends the “sick shit” to police headquarters.  Billy the sensitive finger painter is paired with a hysterically bad tough guy cop with a pink cut off shirt who overreacts to virtually everything because he has a “hot head”.  During their investigation clues about the chief’s whereabouts are gathered from fast food takeout, doodles of pigs, and a heart to heart between Billy and a street hooker.  Hog Johnson and Tracy bring in new meat to play their “Cards of Death” game, which is never explained really, only that the loser is killed by the winner who wins some sort of cash reward, and Hog can change the rules whenever he wants like some brat. Their secret hideout is neon lit, giving it that soft porn look.  Hog is a bored billionaire so he invented the “Cards of Death” game to sate his blood lust.  Since refereeing a death game doesn’t seem to be all it’s cracked up to be Hog also had an industrial press installed in their secret evil lair to crush street people and strippers in so he and Tracy can drink and bath in fresh blood, Bathory style.  Because the setup of the story wasn’t crazy enough there is an impaled priest with a gambling problem, copious nipple teasing, and rape thrown in for good measure.   Padding comes in the form of a dancer dancing to, what else, the movie’s theme song “Cards of Death”  Cards of Death will probably be one of my most bizarre and rare VHS tapes.  They don’t make them like they used to, and I doubt a movie with the same atmosphere and dime store feel as Cards of Death will ever come out again, making it special in its own right.  The apocalypse is written and it is “Cards of Death”!  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Art fart 08/19/14

The season of rot is almost upon us.  Time to kick out a new zine.  Expect more B-rated shit that's bad for your brain.  MOSH!  Here's some gooey work in progress sketches to tide you over for the real deal.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sketch 7/25/14

Cropsy head split

Friday, July 18, 2014

Art fart 7/18/2014

More sketchy WIP's for the zine.

The Cat With Jade Eyes

Giallo straight from a gutter in Italy, “The Cat With Jade Eyes” is a movie crafted in the stereotypical murder mystery fashion; a gloved killer strikes, an amateur investigation ensures, a dark and terrible secret is revealed at the end.  It is Argento-lite for the gore elite; while the story beats remain roughly the same from one giallo to the next it is the style and atmosphere that typically set them apart; not to mention the craftiness and complexity behind the murder set pieces.  Argento crafts murder sequences that are often unique and visually stunning in their own right, often tying in with the thematic elements of the rest of the film.  “The Cat With Jade Eyes” offers strangulations by shower heads and a women who gets burned and drowned in her own beef stroganoff for the showpiece kill of the movie.  Other victims get the traditional throat slit or a pharmacist hammer to the back of the head; whenever the killer strikes the death blow we are treated to a quick image of animal eyes outlined with a furry face, perhaps offering the only explanation for the title.  If there is any common theme to the murders it is that they all have seemingly nothing in common, they all seem to be functioning under a different modus operati.

“The Cat With Jade Eyes” fails as anything but a nonsensical soap opera giallo with some sexist leanings and a heady handed use of coincidences and common acquaintances to push the plot along.  The story begins with the murder of a pharmacist.  A dancer that stopped at the pharmacy after the murder and heard the killer’s synthesized voice may offer the only solid clue to the murderer’s identity.  She finds herself being stalked by a shadowy figure and turns to her on again, off again boy fiend to help.  His name is Lukas, he likes expensive cigars (they make many references to his fondness of stogies throughout the film) and is a sound engineer/musician hipster or something.  It’s not really clear what he really does, only that he has a swagger and gets casually wrapped up in a murder investigation, cause why not?  He ends up figuring out the victim’s all had something to do with a murder trial held a few years back, gets tripped up on a few glaring red herrings, but ends up finding out incredibly that it somehow had all to do with Nazis and the war, although it all seems very pigeon holed into the story.  Where other movies might have something to say about the conflict this one seems fine with letting any commentary lie in the hearts of the viewers, and as soon as the revelations come to light everything is wrapped up without any reaction from the protagonist or main characters.

Although I loved the aesthetic 70’s era quality of the film I find it somewhat of a chore to sit through.  Several times during the long, seemingly drawn out investigation held by Lukas I felt my head bob to my chest, threatening me with a sitting nap.  It didn’t seem like the story was very well thought out, it followed a lot of dead ends and when there is some breakthrough it was through happen stance or coincidence, only rarely through any logical connection or by examining clues.  The murder scenes only seemed to have a few high octane moments to raise the pulse.