Jaws (1975)

Directed by Steven Spielberg [Other horror films: Duel (1971), Something Evil (1972), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983, segment ‘Kick the Can’), War of the Worlds (2005)]

While certainly one of the true classics of not just the horror genre, but cinema as a whole, Jaws is a film that I don’t love, and don’t really come close to loving. There’s a lot of good stuff in it, especially the second half of the movie, but there’s also some rather sluggish scenes that no amount of good orchestra music makes up for.

Luckily, the three main characters are all pretty decent. While it took some time for Quint’s gruff character to grow on me, there’s no denying that Robert Shaw does a fine job, especially during the scene where the group compares stories and scars. I always liked Richard Dreyfuss’ character, and he consistently solid through the film. Lastly, Roy Scheider does commendably also, though honestly, I think he stands out more in Jaws 2.

The movie picks up beautifully as these three embark on a small ship in order to take out the great white, but the movie beforehand was somewhat patchy, and while never bad, portions just bored me. The second half of the film isn’t perfect, but it was a lot more tense and enjoyable in my opinion.

Obviously, this is a classic, and there’s decent reason for that, but like some other classics of the 1970’s, such as The Exorcist, I was more underwhelmed than anything. I’d probably say the movie’s just a bit below average, but it’s close. Jaws is still worth seeing, please don’t think I doubt that, but unless you’re already a fan, I don’t know how likely it is that you’ll end up loving it.

6.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.

God’s Bloody Acre (1975)

Gods Bloody AcCRE

Directed by Harry Kerwin [Other horror films: Barracuda (1978)]

After having wanted to see this one for many years now, I can’t help but feel disappointed. Not because the movie is particularly bad, but because I was expecting something quite different from what we got.

What I was hoping for was a grimy exploitation flick with decent gore and an escalation of conflict between the mountain men and the construction company. Instead, we get a lot of characters I wasn’t expecting dealing with various drama, and eventually coming into contact with the three brothers and dying in somewhat grisly (yet entirely gore-free) ways.

It’s certainly grimy, as the rape scene can attest to, and it’s entirely a product of the 1970’s, but for much of the film, it wasn’t that engaging or enthralling. While the sluggish pace was bad enough, the lack of gore in lieu of characterization of the three brothers, wasn’t the best trade-off, in my opinion.

What makes this sting more is that one of the main actors, William Kerwin, starred in three H.G. Lewis films (A Taste of Blood, Blood Feast, and Two Thousand Maniacs!), not to mention plenty of other horror flicks, from Whiskey Mountain, The Shadow of Chikara, and Barracuda. With a guy like this, you’d expect a movie with a bit more force. Most of the other actors and actresses here did fine, though by far, Kerwin was the strongest link.

God’s Bloody Acre had potential, and I think they sensed it while making it, as there are some artistic and creative cuts in here that look like they belong in a higher-budget film. As it is, this movie might work out well for a drive-in (and the copy I saw certainly had that scratchy, 70’s feel that I associate with that), but due to the lack of gore and heavy drama at the beginning, I’d have to unfortunately say that this isn’t much worth watching.

5.5/10

Profondo rosso (1975)

Deep Red

Directed by Dario Argento [Other horror films: L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970), Il gatto a nove code (1971), 4 mosche di velluto grigio (1971), Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980), Tenebre (1982), Phenomena (1985), Opera (1987), Due occhi diabolici (1990, segment ‘The Black Cat’), Trauma (1993), La sindrome di Stendhal (1996), Il fantasma dell’opera (1998), Non ho sonno (2001), Il cartaio (2004), Ti piace Hitchcock? (2005), La terza madre (2007), Giallo (2009), Dracula 3D (2012)]

I saw this some years back; I couldn’t have been any older than 14 or 15. And I liked it – I hadn’t had much experience with either giallos or Argento’s work, but I liked it. Seeing Deep Red for the second time, it not only lived up to my recollection, but far surpassed them.

There’s nothing I don’t like about this movie, and if I had to nitpick, I guess I’d say that they should have made the blood look a bit more realistic than it did. But even so, at two hours and seven minutes, never once did I lose focus in the movie or interest in finding out who the killer was (like I said, I’d seen this before, but it’s been so long that I forgot who was behind the brutal murders).

The kills are actually a little weak at times, but there were also some classics here, such as the graphic finale (absolutely loved it), along with the death of another character toward the end. Even the first current-day death was decent, what with being hacked to death by a cleaver. I just wish there had been a few more deaths, but that’s not so much a complaint as wishful hoping.

Italian band Goblin composed the score to the film (they also did Suspiria‘s a few years later), and it was magnificent. Some fun electronic progressive Italian-synth tunes can’t go wrong. The movie already had an artistic feel to it, due to masterful cinematography, but the music helped elevate to even higher heights. And that haunting children’s song? That won’t soon be out of my head.

I won’t get deep into the actors as I sometimes (perhaps too often) do – the fact of the matter is that there’s not one performance that I would have preferred removed. There was a little overacting at times, but given how well everything else worked, it wasn’t much noticeable. David Hemmings was amazing as the main character, and while aspects of his character were troubling (his antiquated sexism, for instance), he was very compelling in his role. So too was Daria Nicolodi – while she wasn’t as important to the story as I thought she might be, her presence helped a great deal (the car scenes added some light humor to the film, which was somewhat welcomed).

Most of this film is the main character trying to remember an important thing he witnessed at a scene of a murder. He slowly pieces together clues, we get a few red herrings, along with a few fun flashbacks, and eventually, after a lot of investigation, we finally have our answer. I loved that – the scenes at the old house were all fun and suspenseful despite mostly being safe, and the discoveries made, along with how he went clue to clue, were all so fun also.

I have no complaints about this film. It helped that I was able to find a beautiful copy online, in original Italian with English subs. Call me a snob if you want, but if I had watched this dubbed, I don’t think it would have made the same impact. As it is, this is a fantastic movie, and easily a favorite of mine now. Dario Argento didn’t disappoint with this one.

10/10

Criminally Insane (1975)

Criminally Insane

Directed by Nick Millard [Other horror films: Satan’s Black Wedding (1976), Doctor Bloodbath (1987), Death Nurse (1987), Criminally Insane 2 (1987), Cemetery Sisters (1987), Death Nurse 2 (1988), Dracula in Vegas (1999), The Turn of the Screw (2003)]

I’ve long heard of this one, but I never knew how much of a hoot it’d be. Which is sort of ironic, as, at least in my opinion, there was very little in the film itself that was meant to be light-hearted. But the idea of a morbidly obese woman going on a rampage to ensure she can continue eating food at her own pace is definitely liable to raise some eyebrows and cause a chuckle or two.

The quality was what you’d expect of a grindhouse horror film, but I liked it all the more for that. The death scenes weren’t amazing – the blood is among some of the fakest blood I’ve seen in some time – but at the same time, they had heart. And this movie, with the short running time of an hour and one minute, certainly had the deaths to keep in interesting.

The story’s not particularly deep, and the acting isn’t always amazing (though our murderess, Priscilla Alden, does a very solid job in her role), but it is a very amusing flick. There was a sequel released in the late 80’s, starring Alden also, but I hear it lacks much of what this provided. If you’re a fan of 70’s grindhouse horror, and don’t mind iffy quality, I’d recommend giving this a go. Worst case scenario, you’d out an hour of your life. I found it worth it.

7.5/10