Category Archives: exploitation movies

When Animals Attack!!! Part I – ‘Grizzly’ (1976)



A film that had terrific posters, and tried to base the terror of Jaws on land. But fails.

My dad took me to watch this at the cinema. It was (I think) supposed to make up for the fact that I was not allowed to go and see Jaws (as that was considered too frightening). Well, my folks were right about that – Jaws was terrifying, but Grizzly was not. I remember being faintly amused by the final confrontation between the huge bear and some guys near a helicopter that resulted in a bazooka being employed to devastating effect. I remember that there was a fair amount of killing and ‘blood’. But even as a 6 year old I was not particularly moved by it (certainly not as moved as I was by the ‘A’ rated trailer for ‘The Omen‘ that was being shown prior to ‘Grizzly’. I burrowed myself into my Dad’s right arm until he swore blind to me that that particular clip had finished….)

(Picture of Lee Remick as Katherine Thorn cradling her son Damien (Harvey Stephens) from ‘The Omen'(1976))

As well as it’s ham-fisted attempt at replicating the terror and tension of ‘Jaws’, Grizzly couldn’t get its posters right either (as good as some of them were at trying to sell the movie). Whereas one of the posters promised ’18 feet of gut crunching terror’, another ad promised a bit less than that;

So, ‘Grizzly’ is just a derivative of ‘Jaws’ – large predator hunting down visitors in a tourist area – and not a very good one at that. BUT, it could be viewed as so bad it is good (which is often s tiresome way to try and enjoy a movie, but judge for yourself from the clips – though they include spoilers);

Links!!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grizzly_(film) IMDB entry for Girzzly

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grizzly_(film) Wiki entry for Grizzly

http://www.thespinningimage.co.uk/cultfilms/displaycultfilm.asp?reviewid=1739 A review of Grizzly from The Spinning Image

http://www.horrorwatch.com/reviews/movies/grizzly.shtml Review of Grizzly from Horror Watch

Mail order Movie Soundtrack advert from back pages of Marvel UK comics (1983)

Anyone who used to read Marvel UK in the early 1980s would probably remember this advert, and it is just an excuse really to print it to show the Soundtrack album covers.

This is taken from 1983, from the back cover of a copy of the Uncanny X-Men reprints. Some great fantasy, action, horror and sci-fi soundtracks listed there – Mad Max 2, The Beastmaster, Xtro….

Post Apocalypse V – Exterminators of the Year 3000


‘A Fututristic Film of Survival’.

As the title suggests, this film is set in the year 3000, where the world, post-nuclear apocalypse, is all desert and it has not rained for years. As in Mad Max 2, a film it slavishly copies, there is a precious resource that the survivors covet. In this film that resource is not gasoline – it’s clean water. I don’t understand why they set it in the year 3000, when other Italian post-apocalypse movies of the time had more realistic ‘futuristic’ settings (‘2019: After The Fall of New York’ is the first example that comes to mind). The film was produced in 1983, and has all the standard features of these types of movies;

a) heavily customised vehiicles (usually involving grills and spikes),
b) everyone wearing leather or looking like they were in the Olivia Newton-John ‘Physical’ video and then didnt wash for 5 years,
c) the ‘hero’ being of dubious morality
d) car and truck chases
e) a fantastic video cover!! (see top of the page for proof)

It may sound like I don’t like this movie. That would be wrong. I just dont think its a great ‘Mad Max 2’ rip-off, but even poor versions of the George Miller original have their qualities. Its engaging enough at times, with some great vehicular action scenes and cheesy dialogue to get through its 100 minute runtime. You can spot all the Mad Max 2 influences throughout the film. That should keep you busy as well. It has the look of a low budget cash-in, and that is all it is, but if you are willing to give your brain a rest, you could do far worse.

It does not appear to be available on DVD yet, though it is available on ebay from time to time on VHS PAL or NTSC formats. Is it worth it? Depends if you are a completist on this sort of stuff. I watched it in the mid eighties and thought it was okay, and then found it at a boot sale in Yorkshire in the late nineties on VHS and watched it and thought it was pretty poor. I have recently watched it a thrid time and thought it was a good laugh. I’d give it a ‘positive’ 5 out of 10. However, if you are just starting on this stuff, and haven’t watched Mad Max 2 before, then watch that, not this! That film is definitive, and spawned the likes of this film.

Links

IMDB entry for the film

Great post-apocalypse film site with review of this film

Another great post-apocalypse film site deals with this film

A site dedicated to Mad Max movies discusses the films imitators

Video cover art of the 80s (plus FORMAT WARS!) and some videos too

Bit rambling this (nothing new), and its a sort of continuation from the article I did on Ruggero Deodatas ‘Cannibal Holocaust’. The cover art, as I showed, was brutal, and did justice to the brutality of the film;

which got me thinking about all the other fantastic video cover art of that era. In the past, when writing about post-apocalypse films of the early 80’s, I have commented that the cover art on the video was usually far more spectacular than anything the film itself offered (as the majority of the films put out on video in that period was generally low budget – major films could take months to come to video).

A classic example of great cover, BAD film;

and here is a review of the film;

Beardy Freak Review of ‘Mardi Gras Massacre’

Two of the most notorious covers (alongside Cannibal Holocaust) are here;

SS Experiment Camp

Review of SS Experiment Camp

Snuff

Review of Snuff from StompTokyo

Here is an example of a cover that sums up the film nicely – the stark, creepy cover to the brilliant Texas Chainsaw Massacre, prior to its removal off the shelves in 1984 under the Video Recordings Act;

There are a few sites out there that dedicate themselves to archiving these treasures of the recent past;

Video Cover Art of the 80s

pre-certificate video art

Killer Covers

Ade collection of cover scans from the nasties era

That got me reminiscing of the video shops of 25 years ago – something some other people were doing on this forum;

forum thread about old video shops

I love the fact that someone on that forum mentions he collected video posters – so did I, including The Alchemist, Demons Of Ludlow, Ice Pirates, Frightmare, and my most treasured, The New Barbarians, all plastered over the bedroom…..

A modern day format war is now all but over, with Blu-Ray beat HD-DVD as the next format for films & games. Bit like the video wars of the early 80’s, when there was a 3 way tussle for the main prize of being the dominant format at the time competed for space in the rental shops (only the rich could afford to buy Video Cassette films, they cost upwards of £50 per film at the time). Betamax, Video2000 and VHS all challenged, with VHS winning out. There’s an overview here;

A History of the Video Format Wars

A brief history of Video mentioning the format wars

A brief history of the VCR

Finally on this whistle stop tour of video culture in the early 80s, here are trailers or opening sequences for some of the films that were staples of early 80s video shop rentals….

1990: The Bronx Warriors

Basket Case at the IMDB

Bronx Warriors at the IMDB

Creepshow at the IMDB

The Deadly Spawn at the IMDB

Flash Gordon at the IMDB

Hawk The Slayer at the IMDB

Cannibal Holocaust, Riz Ortolini, Exploitation & Video Nasties

One of the (if not the) most notorious exploitation films of all time, Cannibal Holcaust (directed by Ruggero Deodata) was banned in several countries upon its theatrical and subsequent video releases. The splendidly named Deodata was arrested in his homeland of Italy and charged with obscenity of making a ‘snuff’ film, a situation he brought upon himself by allowing viewers to believe that the film was actually a documentary on a tragic Jungle expedition.

Wiki has a rather good article on the film, and here is some of it;

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) is a controversial exploitation film directed by Ruggero Deodato and is based on a screenplay written by Gianfranco Clerici and Giorgio Stegani. Filmed in the Amazon Rainforest, it focuses on a team of four documentarians who head deep into the jungle to make a documentary on the primitive native tribes that live there. After two months and no word from the team, a famous anthropologist is sent on a rescue mission in hopes of finding the team alive. The film stars Robert Kerman as the anthropologist Harold Monroe, Carl Gabriel Yorke as director Alan Yates, Francesca Ciardi as Alan’s girlfriend Faye, Perry Pirkanen as the cameraman Jack Anders, and Luca Barbareschi as fellow cameraman Mark Tomaso.

Cannibal Holocaust is one of the best known exploitation films due to the controversy it caused upon its release. After premiering in Italy, the film was seized by the local Magistrate and Deodato was arrested for obscenity. He was later accused of making a snuff film based on circulating rumors that the film’s actors were slain for the camera. Though Deodato would be cleared of these charges, the film was banned in Italy, the UK, Australia, and several other countries for graphic gore, sexual violence, and for the genuine slayings of six animals featured in the film. While many nations have revoked the ban, it is still banned to this day in other countries around the world. Despite this notoriety, Cannibal Holocaust is seen by some critics as a social commentary on civilized society.“

When VHS top-loading videos were the thing to have in the early 80s, we were lucky enough to get one (rented, from Granda Rentals, because they cost about £500 to buy in 1982). The scene was set, one Friday evening in October, for my mother to go to the local Video Rental shop ‘Replay’ in Fazeley, and rent out a couple of videos (after paying the £25 joining fee, which entitled you to the first 2 rentals for free, as I recall – after that, rentals were £2.50 each). Their was palapable excitement as we waited for my mum to reveal what she had rented. She produced 2 brick sized VHS cases, with blank blue covers. On the spines were typed

Clash of the Titans (A)
Cannibal Holocaust (X)

This was in the days of the old ‘U’, ‘A’, ‘AA’ and ‘X’ film ceritifications – see the link;
Film certification 1970-1982

so we (me, brother, sister) knew we were going to watch Clash of the Titans, and that was it. As a 12 year old at the time, I wasnt going to get to watch an X rated film. I dont really know what made Cannibal Holocaust appeal to my mother (she seems such an innocent soul);

Anyway, that cover used to haunt me as I went around the aisles and viewed the display cabinets at ‘Replay’ and the several other Video rental shops (and one video rental van) in and around Tamworth, Staffs in the early to mid eighties. My mum said that she couldnt watch the film because it wasn’t ‘what she had expected’ (???). That just added to the intrigue. When, in 1984, the Video Recordings Act took Cannibal Holocaust (and many other ‘Video Nasties’) from the rental shops, it only made its murky glamour ever more appealing.

I finally got to watch the film in 1998, when, at a car boot sale in Buckinghamshire, I chanced upon a man selling reasonable bootlegs of all the Video Nasties, with the original cover art (in washed out photocopy colour). I purchased Cannibal Holocaust and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and got a typed-up list of all the goodies he sold, a list over several pages long. He did mail order, £5 per film. I got a couple more videos via the post, including a grainy copy of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, but then he never got back to me when I requested Clockwork Orange and The Beyond. Never found out what happened to him. It is amazing to think that only 10 years ago this was how you had to go about obtaining a relatively gory horror film. It seems like it could be than 50 years ago when you look at how the internet has revolutionised how you obtain films, either through the likes of play.com and amazon, through to torrent sites and youtube and other video hosting sites.

Anyway, I watched the film. Some parts were pretty repulsive (the animal death and cruelty scenes are horrendous, and Deodata has since admitted in an interview (that was bundled as an extra on a DVD release of the film) that he regrets including these scenes. Apart from that, the film is brutal, exciting and very gory. There is an atmosphere of dread and desperation within the film, and inevitability as the cast meet their fates.

Critical response to the film is mixed;

Critics remain split on their stances of Cannibal Holocaust. Supporters of the film cite it as serious and well-made social commentary on the modern world. Mike Bracken called it one of the greatest horror movies ever filmed, and also stated, “Viewers looking for a film that’s powerful, visceral, and disturbing have a new title to add to their must-see list.” Sean Axmaker praised the structure and set up of the film, saying, “It’s a weird movie with an awkward narrative, which Deodato makes all the more effective with his grimy sheen of documentary realism, while Riz Ortolani’s unsettlingly lovely, elegiac score provides a weird undercurrent.”Jason Buchanan of All Movie Guide said, “…while it’s hard to defend the director for some of the truly repugnant images with which he has chosen to convey his message, there is indeed an underlying point to the film, if one is able to look beyond the sometimes unwatchable images that assault the viewer.”

Detractors, however, counter with the genuine animal slayings, questionable acting, and hypocrisy that the film presents. Nick Schager criticized the brutality of the film, saying, “As clearly elucidated by its shocking gruesomeness — as well as its unabashedly racist portrait of indigenous folks it purports to sympathize with — the actual savages involved with Cannibal Holocaust are the ones behind the camera.” Schager’s racism argument is supported by the fact that the real indigenous peoples in Brazil whose names were used in the movie — the Yanomamo and Shamatari — are not fierce enemies as portrayed in the movie, nor is either tribe truly cannibalistic (although the Yanomamo do partake in a form of post-mortem ritual cannibalism).

Robert Firsching of All Movie Guide made similar criticisms of the film’s content and claimed that the “…pie-faced attempts at socially conscious moralizing make it rather distasteful morally as well. The fact that the film’s sole spokesperson for the anti-exploitation perspective is played by porno star Richard Bolla should give an indication of where its sympathies lie.” Slant Magazine’s Eric Henderson said it is “…artful enough to demand serious critical consideration, yet foul enough to christen you a pervert for even bothering.”

Cannibal Holocaust currently has a 57% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 4.7.[20] The film came 8th on IGN’s Top 10 Grindhouse films.“

(taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannibal_Holocaust#Critical_response)

The mention of Riz Ortalinis “unsettlingly lovely, elegiac score” brings me onto that very thing – the theme tune for the film. Ortalini is an Italian film composer, whose work includes the soundtrack for Mondo Cane (a documentary film that consists of a series of travelogue-vignettes that provide (the intended) Western audience with a shocking glimpse into cultural practices around the world). In some respects, it could be said that Mondo Cane was an influence on Deodata and his making of Cannibal Holocaust. His work has also been used by Tarantino, in the excellent Soundtracks for Kill Bill.

Here it is, in all its unsettling loveliness;

Cannibal Holocaust Main Theme – Riz Ortalini

and here is the trailer for the film;

Links

Full Wiki entry on the film

Riz Ortolani info

Mondo Cane info

A few years ago David Kerekes (of Headpress) and David Slater produced a book that explores the history of death on film, and there is a section on Cannibal Holocaust in there. It’s fascinating and well worth tracking down – amazon have it;

By the way – do snuff films actually exist?

Finally, if you are at all interested in the curious witch hunt that got Britain in a state about some (mainly bland or bad) horror films, you should check out John Martins’ book, “The Seduction of the Gullible: Curious History of the British “Video Nasties””. Its been reprinted twice, but is currently out of print, but you can find copies out on ebay or amazon. He also released a sequel, but the book I have mentioned remains definitive.

There are also some good resources on the internet for this curious slice of British History;

Wiki entry for Video Nasties

Critical Film analysis

The Video Nasties furore detailed

The brilliant Melon Farmers site gives an account of the Video Nasties saga

and absolutley it seems as if even now, in 2008, when we are hardened to the graphic ‘torture porn’ of the likes of ‘Saw’, ‘Hostel’, ‘Vacancy’ and ‘Paradise Lost’, someone has not forgotten about the good old days….

The video nasty debate rears its ugly head again