Thursday, 23 June 2016

Krimi Casebook:
Das Verrätertor / ‘Traitor’s Gate’
(Freddie Francis, 1964)

BLOGGER’S NOTE: It was actually a complete coincidence that I had this post, which discusses the intricacies of a curious Anglo-German co-production, scheduled to appear on the day of the UK referendum on membership of the European Union. As a strong believer in co-operation between nation states, open borders and the breaking down of cultural & economic boundaries, I’m unsure at the time of writing whether I’ll be weeping tomorrow morning or merely putting the whole sorry mess behind me and moving on, but – checks watch – I believe there’s still time to get to the polls today, so would urge all UK citizens reading to please consider rejecting petty nationalism and doing the decent thing. And hey, why not let this tale of zany Germans running around idyllic 1960s London waving guns about guide your hand..? (Ok, maybe not.)

[Political mithering ends. / Movie review begins.]

By late 1964, Copenhagen-based Rialto films had been churning out Edgar Wallace ‘krimis’ for the West German market for nearly five years, and had released no less than seventeen entries in the loosely connected series.

Given this level of productivity, and the creative burnout it must inevitably have incurred in the studio’s small stable of writers, directors and actors, it makes sense that someone in Rialto’s boardroom must have sat up one day and realised that the film industry in the UK – where all of these films were ostensibly set – also boasted its own, equally efficient, genre movie production line, as exemplified in particular by Hammer studios, whose unprecedented international success in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s could scarcely be ignored by other European producers.

Perhaps those fuzzy stock shots of Big Ben and Trafalgar Square were starting to get a bit ragged, or constantly redressing those ‘Scotland Yard office’ and ‘cobbled East End back street’ sets was getting a bit tedious - or perhaps Joachim Fuchsberger and Harald Reinl just REALLY needed a holiday - but whatever the reason, feelers were extended, hands shaken, and when ‘Das Verrätertor’, the 18th entry in Rialto’s Wallace series, went into production, it did so in actual, real life London, with Freddie Francis (fresh off ‘The Evil of Frankenstein’) in the director’s chair, and a script provided (under a pseudonym) by Hammer’s Jimmy Sangster.

Sadly, the eventual result of all this bold co-productionin’ sass is an odd mish-mash that basically plays out as if a few of the more distinctive faces from the ‘krimi gang’ (Klaus Kinski and Eddi Arent) had accidentally blundered into a mediocre British thriller in which everyone inexplicably speaks German - but nevertheless, it is not without its merits, and it remains vaguely interesting as a historical curio, at the very least. (1)

Things certainly get off to a good start, with an edgily shot prison break from a joint that I suppose is supposed to be Dartmoor (eventual destination of all krimi ne’erdowells). Bleak, wide angle overhead shots are here mixed with juddering, handheld footage and a tense, mod jazz soundtrack, as our protagonist (British actor Gary Raymond) scrabbles across scrubland with armed guards in close pursuit, only to find himself rescued by a Luger-toting Kinski, who ushers him into a waiting helicopter in which the pair make their getaway.

Back in London however, it soon becomes clear that this going to be another one of those creaky old “plan to steal The Crown Jewels” type heist capers, with all the discussions of alarm systems, guard duty rotas and unspeakably tedious footage of Beefeaters trooping about exchanging keys that that invariably entails.

Perhaps this might have all carried a bit more of a sense of novelty to German audiences than it does to us Brits, but it’s more likely that ‘Das Verrätertor’ simply suffers the kind of narrative structure that – much like that of the routine whodunit – has withered particularly badly under the glare of our somewhat different 21st century entertainment expectations.

I mean, first off, hands up who really gives two shits about the Crown Jewels? I suppose back in the ‘60s they probably still carried a certain mystique and cultural importance vis-à-vis British identity and so on, but now… well, you tell me when concern for their security last crossed your mind. And do any of us *really* care that much about the rather routine and unsurprising methods by which some fictional crooks might go about stealing them..?

No, what we really want to see in a story like this is the excitement that ensues during the after the heist, as things go wrong and people get hurt, as the perpetrators flee the law and double-cross each other, and so on. The jewels themselves should be little more than a McGuffin to set up the human drama. Unfortunately though, this is a point that Sangster and Francis (and perhaps Wallace, assuming anything in this yarn can actually be traced back to him) largely fail to appreciate, instead choosing to take us again and again through the not-terribly-riveting aspects of the gang’s planning whilst saving the big jewel-grab itself for the final reel.

Normally, Sangster was a writer who could be relied upon to put a cynical new twist on the formulaic genre material he was assigned to work on, but, perhaps playing it safe for a co-production aimed at an overseas audience, ‘Traitor’s Gate’ is an uncharacteristically bland effort, hitting the expected beats of its plotline with nary a trace of surprise or innovation. (A shame, as the twisted aesthetic of the krimis might in other circumstance have made for a perfect match with the black humour and imagination of Sangster’s better writing.)

Elsewhere in the film, Eddi Arent pops up as – I bet you never saw this one coming - a bungling German tourist, who gets inadvertently involved in the heist gang’s plans when, in the course of his day-to-day bungling, he accidentally visits a pleasantly authentic-looking Soho strip joint, the “Dandy Club”, wherein he witnesses triggerman Kinski doing away with a snitch – the gunshots muffled by the drummer in the house band playing a roll on the snare.

Slickly staged by Francis, this episode is just as much fun as it sounds, and indeed, there are some lovely bits of authentic London street footage to enjoy here too, largely shot around Piccadilly and Soho, all of which serves to make the corresponding passages of ‘changing of the guards’ / ‘buggering about with the beefeaters’ type material go down a little easier. (2)

In fact, Francis’ direction is probably the film’s strongest suit. He keeps things brisk and visually interesting through even the dullest stretches, occasionally experimenting with bold techniques and stylish moments which, it must be said, do not really equate to anything found in the British horror films he was directing at around the same time. This leads me to wonder whether he was in fact simply following the dictats of his producers in tailoring the look of the film to fit Rialto’s preferred “house style”, incorporating the kind of tricks (wide angle and deep focus shots, use of on-screen camera lens and mirrors, handheld shots and the like) that we have previously attributed to ‘krimi’ specialists like Reinl and Alfred Vohrer.

As you might have expected given the plot-line, ‘Traitor’s Gate’ features absolutely none of the macabre or fantastical elements that have livened up the others krimis we’ve thus far examined in this review strand, but as a straight-down-the-line crime caper, it is executed with what must have passed for a somewhat glamorous, high-tech sheen in 1964, exhibiting a particular fascination for camera lenses, telescopes, hidden tape recorders, clocks and so forth, verging momentarily into the realm of total ridiculousness for one particularly enjoyable moment in which the film’s heroine falls afoul of a specially modified taxi that fills the back-seat with knockout gas at a simple button push from the driver.

For the most part however, ‘Das Verrätertor’ is disappointingly down to earth. Presumably due to the fact that it was actually made in the UK with the participation of British personnel, the “bizarro world London” flavour that gave films like ‘Dark Eyes of London’ such a unique, out-of-time atmosphere is entirely lacking here, as the more buttoned down, English way of doing business vis-à-vis low budget thrillers leaves us instead with a far more quote-unquote “realistic” portrayal of London in 1964, completely devoid of psychotic masked villains, knife-wielding vagabonds, subterranean gangster hideouts, blood-thirsty fetishized murders and the like, although the presence of Kinski does at least bring a hint of this kind of thing to the table.

Spending much of his time obsessively licking his fingers and dispassionately threatening people with guns as only he can, one particularly surreal scene back-stage at the aforementioned strip joint sees Klaus lurking about near the head of a pantomime horse, whose teeth he at one point pretends to examine. In fact, I’d say that Kinski’s presence alone makes ‘Das Verrätertor’ worth seeking out, were it not for the fact that the unspeakable bastard made so many other films through the ‘60s in which he similarly delivers the goods, making such completism unnecessary for any but the most dedicated fans of his unique brand of strangely hilarious psychopathic menace.

Above and beyond the various drawbacks I have outlined above, there is one central fault that I feel stops ‘Traitor’s Gate’ from overcoming them and hitting home as a decent bit of entertainment, and that is the fact that no one else in the film is remotely interesting. With the exception of Kinski and Arent (who are both basically just goofing on their established screen personas), there is not a single character here who will stick in your mind after viewing – in fact I can barely remember a thing about any of them, and I watched this damn thing twice for review purposes.

A far cry from the sweaty-palmed blackmailers, seedy servants and playboy detectives we expect to find rounding out a krimi cast-list, in ‘Das Verrätertor’, the crooks, the innocent lead couple whom the persecute and the cops who peruse them barely have two character traits to rub together, and the blandly professional cast play out their assigned roles within the story as if they were simply experiencing a mildly stressful day working in an insurance office.

As a result, there is simply no suspense, and nothing beyond the occasional nice shot or visual flourish to even keep us awake. Will the heist succeed or not? Will the crooks be brought to justice? What do we even care, when we barely know enough about anyone concerned to decide who we should cheer or boo?

Though the film’s production values and technical credits are solid and the Rialto crew do their best to entertain, it is easy to conclude that ‘Traitor’s Gate’ – which remains one of the more obscure entries within the already obscure krimi canon - has been lost to history for good reason, relevant only to genre historians seeking an easy explanation for the reasons why the rich possibilities for Anglo-German krimi co-productions were never really followed up. (3)


(1) According to IMDB, Rialto’s only production partner on ‘Traitor’s Gate’ was an outfit named “Summit”, and my assumption is that this must be said company’s only known venture into the film industry, given that IMDB lumps them in with a US distributor of the same name who have no credits prior to 1983.  (Actually, it’s a fair bet that the IMDB page in question amalgamates the credits of at least three different companies, but it’s scarcely our business to complain about that here.)

(2) Outside of central London, one particularly lovely establishing shot captures the riverside beer garden of the London Apprentice pub in Ilseworth, Middlesex, which remains largely unchanged to this day.

(3) In so far as I can tell, only other Rialto krimi to feature significant UK input was 1966’s The Trygon Factor, which was directed by Cyril Frankel (‘The Witches’, ‘Never Take Sweets From A Stranger’) and starred Stewert Granger and Robert Morley. Again, no actual UK production partner is listed, and I’m not aware of the film being much of a hit on either side of the channel.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

A Visit to Jean Rollin’s Grave.

Earlier this month, I visited Paris for the first time in many years, and naturally I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the resting place of one of my favourite filmmakers, the great Jean Rollin.

Approaching Père-Lachaise Cemetery through the quiet lanes leading to the side entrance off the Rue de la Rèunion, the city’s muted roar of traffic gradually gives way to bird song from the trees overhead and the muffled clamour of morning break-time at the nearby primary school, and it is hard not to reflect that, as much as his fans might have envisaged his ashes being scattered into waves at Dieppe, there is really nowhere more appropriate for Rollin to be entombed than alongside the great and the good of his city, deep within this veritable cité des morts.

Despite the frequent intrusion of ill-mannered tourists wrestling with their google-map equipped devices in perpetual search of Jim Morrison’s regrettably placed monument, Père-Lachaise retains its unique atmosphere, with its sheer scale and prevalence of overhanging foliage giving the cemetery’s central portions a sense of complete isolation from the outside world – a feeling that Jean Rollin must surely have appreciated, even as he endeavored to embody a similarly rarefied atmosphere in many of his films. [Needless to say, Rollin actually used the cemetery as a location in both ‘Lèvres de Sang’ (1975) and ‘Les Deux Orphelines Vampires’ (1997).] When night falls, as the gates are locked and the tourists depart, is there anywhere he would feel quite as at home as here?

A small, wedge-shaped block in the central Eastern part of the cemetery, Division # 27 of Père-Lachaise can be easily reached by climbing the winding steps surrounding the colossal tomb of the Baroness Elizaveta Alexandrovna Stroganova (pictured above), just off the pathway known as the Chemin des Chèvres.

Though #27 is thankfully one of the smaller Divisions in the older part of the cemetery, it still took us a good fifteen minutes of off-the-path searching to locate the modest Morel / Le Gentil family tomb within which Jean Rollin is interred, commemorated by a simple stone plaque appended to the tomb’s frontage, next to that of his son Carel, who sadly passed away in 2001. Though he was born Jean Michel Rollin Roth Le Gentil, Jean’s plaque simply bears the name by which the world knew him best.

Raising the metal bar that secures the gate to the railings around the tomb, I took a brief step inside to leave my own small tribute. Perhaps not quite un rose de fer, but the closest I could come up with at short notice. Rest in peace Jean, and may your spirit run free among these mysterious stones, dreaming of stories and pictures, for as long as they stand.


Appendix # 1: Whilst kneeling at the base of the tomb, I couldn’t help but notice a small red and black beetle with a striking ‘deaths head’ type design on its carapace making its way across the step. Not exactly being an expert on beetles, I have been unable to identify this species, and am uncertain of their commonality within the cemetery, or whether or not any significance is attached to them, but either way, it seemed an odd bit of synchronicity.

Appendix # 2: The location of the Le Gentil / Rollin tomb, it should be noted in closing, actually borders on the cemetery’s larger 28th Division, which is seemingly the chosen resting place of assorted military generals and 20th century descendants of the Morat / Bonaparte dynasty. The thought of Jean Rollin quietly sneaking in under the grandiose noses of these representatives of a very different French culture amused me greatly.

Appendix # 3: Some bonus cemetery photographs? Why not.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Random Paperbacks:
A Woman in Space
by Sara Cavanaugh
(Ace/Stoneshire books, 1983)

When I added this early ‘80s romance paperback to my library, certain parties questioned my decision.

All I can do in response was to draw their attention to the cover photograph and back cover blurb, and to paraphrase Electric Wizard: you think you’re civilised, but you will never understand.

Research-wise, any chance I may have had of finding a brief history of the ‘Tiara’ series of books via google has been effectively obliterated by a popular children’s manga series of the same name, and the internet also gives us nada on ‘Sara Cavanaugh’ beyond a few cover scans and broad mockery of this novel, suggesting either a one-off house pseudonym or an unsolicited manuscript that got… well I hesitate to say “lucky”.

SF columnist & humourist David Langford obviously made his way through ‘A Woman in Space’ at some point however, as he picked out the following passage as part of a collection of sci-fi goofs & howlers:

“A few hours had passed since they had been pulled away from the moon. A few hours and millions of miles. The moon was no longer visible, not even as a star. The whole thing was so crazy, weird and far-out. It was as though they were floating in a giant vacuum.”

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Arrow Round up:
Eaten Alive
(Tobe Hooper, 1976)

Independent producer Mardi Rustam must have thought he’d hit the grindhouse horror jackpot when he signed up the director of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (then still knocking people’s socks off on its initial theatrical run) to make a movie about a backwoods hotel proprietor feeding his guests to a giant alligator, starring a bus load of old-hand Hollywood character players and a handful of pretty girls.

Forty years later, when I threw this disc on without much prior research to headline a Friday night of mindless horror movie fun, I’ll confess I had broadly similar expectations…. but as it turns out, fate dealt both Mardi and I a pretty ugly hand on this one.

To put it plainly: ‘Eaten Alive’ (also widely known as ‘Death Trap’) is a real fucking weird one, and not necessarily in a good way. Despite the foolproof simplicity of its drive-in friendly premise (‘Psycho’ + alligators + tits & gore = $$$, basically), the film that eventually emerged from the production’s evidently quite troubled set is one of the most ramshackle, disquieting and uniquely off-putting attempts at making a commercial horror film I’ve ever seen. (1)

The reasons for this are many and varied, but I suspect, at the end of the day, there was simply a bad moon on the rise (or some equally calamitous astrological conjunction) the day that the film’s creative principals convened on a low-rent Hollywood sound-stage to throw this thing together. There is just something.. off.. about the whole venture. Depending on circumstances and personal taste, some may find that this freaked out, weirdie vibe could add greatly to the film, but…. well, let’s just say that on this occasion it didn’t do a lot for my proposed programme of popcorn consumption and solfa-based relaxation, and leave it at that.

Although ‘Eaten Alive’s consciously artificial, set-bound visual style – all glowing red gel-lighting, swathes of candy floss fog and garishly camp costume/set design – suggests an intention on Hooper’s part to take a 180 degree U-turn from the realism of ‘Chainsaw..’, the spirit of that film was clearly still very much on the director’s mind, and his actual direction here is just as disorientating and stylistically extreme as it was on his earlier classic. Dutch angles, sweaty facial close-ups and prolonged sequences of twitchy discomfort are all very much in evidence, whilst the director’s favoured soundtrack (recorded in conjunction with Wayne Bell, as per their work together on ‘Chainsaw..’) comprises a genuinely alarming selection of jagged, atonal noise loops that, combined with a near-continuous barrage of shrieking, squelching, canned animal noise and incoherent radio chatter, makes the film a constant, low level assault on the senses. (2)

Whereas this approach worked very well for ‘Chainsaw..’s assaultive “descent into hell” structure however, it wreaks havoc with the slower, more conventional narrative utilised here, leaving viewers lost and confused, unable to grab hold of anything to help us connect with or understand the parade of increasingly grotesque insanity unfolding on-screen.

One of the main problems here (if indeed you see it as a problem) is that, of the distractingly large cast of characters, most appear just as unbalanced and unpredictable as Neville Brand’s psychopath hotelier, leaving us searching in vain for the kind of vaguely sympathetic protagonist figures necessarily to anchor (and more importantly, drive the suspense of) this kind of slasher / bodycount set-up.

Robert Englund’s smirking cowboy rapist, Stuart Whitman’s sleazy, ineffectual sheriff, Carolyn Jones’ doddering brothel madam – all of these are potentially intriguing characters, but they’re also almost comically dislikeable and entirely absorbed in their own strange tangents, giving the film a rambling, “lunatics have taken over the asylum” feel that persists despite the belated introduction of Mel Ferrer and Crystin Sinclaire as a theoretically sympathetic (but actually also quite dysfunctional) father / daughter team about halfway through the run-time. (3)

I don’t know what kind of advice and/or freaky treatment Hooper gave his cast here, but, whether their characters demand it or not, just about everyone on-screen is completely out-to-lunch, which doesn’t exactly help matters. This is most evident early in the film, when a bickering family unit of rent-a-victims (the parents played by Brian De Palma regular William Finley and ‘Chainsaw..’s Marilyn Burns) pull up outside Brand’s decaying boarding house. Finally, we think, some normal people to help put things in perspective… but it’s not to be.

Shot dispassionately from above as they stomp around their hideously decaying hotel room, Finley and Burns’ domestic disagreements soon assume the quality of shrieking, operatic hysteria, with Finley in particular going so far off the map it’s hard to believe anyone let him get away with it. By the time he begins scrabbling around on the floor, apparently channeling some acid-damaged reject from a way-out experimental theatre production as he mimes a search for his “eyes”, which he accuses his wife of having scooped out of his skull, we’re forced to wonder whether the couple’s terrified child – currently hiding under filthy bed sheets having already been traumatized by the sight of her pet poodle getting chomped by the alligator – wouldn’t be better off taking her chances with the muttering, brain-damaged axe murderer downstairs.

So yeah – it’s that kind of movie.

At the centre of all this derangement, probably the most genuinely disturbing (as opposed to just fingers-down-the-blackboard grating) aspect of ‘Eaten Alive’ is the casting of Neville Brand in the central role of the aforementioned psychopath.

Apparently one of the most highly decorated American veterans of World War II, Brand often claimed that he initially turned to acting (with a particular emphasis on The Method) as a means of coping with the ravages of what we would probably now term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (back then, they probably just went with “shell shock”, or did that ‘silently tapping the side of yr head’ thing). Though extremely successful in his new career (his filmography is quite a read), by the time he got to ‘Eaten Alive’ Brand had also resorted to treating his condition through the more traditional means of raging alcoholism, resulting in a tendency toward dysfunctional behavior that shines through all too clearly here.

It is often difficult to discern how much of Brand’s incoherent performance is a result of his “immersion in the role” and how much is simply a reflection of his damaged mental health at the time of filming, but either way, he makes for an extremely uncomfortable presence on screen. Constantly muttering to himself and occasionally raising his voice to make odd, fractured pronouncements to whoever happens to be around, the vast majority of Brand’s dialogue is either inaudible or meaningless, meaning that, although we spend a great deal of time following him stomping about his living space as distorted country n’ western blares on the radio, we learn very little of his character’s personal history, or the motivation for his apparently random crimes.

He does sometimes seem to experiencing flashbacks or hallucinations of a military nature, suggesting that the character, like the actor playing him, is a traumatised veteran of some kind (thus aligning ‘Eaten Alive’ as a potential distant cousin to the sub-genre of “shell shock” horror flicks represented by Bob Clark’s ‘Deathdream’ (1974) and Buddy Giovinazzo’s ‘Combat Shock’ (1984)), but this is never really explored, and again, the ratio of “stuff that was in the script” versus stuff that Brand was simply improvising on the spot remains unclear.

All we can say for sure is that, based on opinions culled from the extensive extras on Arrow’s release of the film, most of the cast and crew were frightened of Brand, finding his behaviour threatening and unpredictable (one interviewee recalls him eating from a huge jar of honey between takes, like some perverted Winnie the Pooh), whilst many of his scenes convey the impression of a man suffering from severe dementia who has been pushed onto the set and left to fend for himself.

As with many of his later films, Hooper himself doesn’t seem to have been an easy collaborator either, and his constant clashes with ‘Eaten Alive’s producers appear to have led to his walking off and returning to the production like a yo-yo, with many cast members recalling pivotal scenes instead being directed by cinematographer Robert Caramico (whose attitude could be summarised as “LET’S GET THIS FUCKING THING DONE AND GO HOME”), or by Rustam himself.

Under the circumstances, it is a testament to the strength of Hooper’s vision that the finished film continues to embody his directorial sensibility so strongly, but his obvious absence from large chunks of the shooting nonetheless lends ‘Eaten Alive’ a fragmented, piecemeal quality that makes it an even stranger viewing experience, full of threads left hanging, entirely gratuitous bits of character business and some sequences whose very existence remains entirely inexplicable.

An example of the latter is provided by one extraordinary diversion during a scene set in a local bar, when David Haywood, the wondering cowboy with the violin case from Robert Altman’s ‘Nashville’, turns up, apparently playing the same character he portrayed in that film. Haywood proceeds to be terrorised in an exceptionally odd manner by two unsavory gentlemen – cohorts of Englund’s character – who rival Brand in the “authentically fucking creepy” department, in a meta-textual bit of pre-Lynchian menace that defies any kind of rational explanation.

Buried somewhere beneath ‘Eaten Alive’s distressed, almost avant garde surface is a great little fun-time horror movie (the one Rustam initially wanted to make, presumably) just fighting to get out. It is ironic that, despite turning off most of horror crowd with its sheer, rambling weirdness, the film’s actual murder set pieces are outstanding. More audacious and explicitly gory than most mid-‘70s American horrors, they border on the cartoon splatter of ‘80s Italian fare in their best moments – in fact I’m sure a carefully assembled trailer of the bloodier highlights could have had gore-hounds queuing ‘round the block, were it not for the fact that the total failure of the movie’s animatronic crocodile (alligator? I dunno, who cares..) simultaneously undercuts the laudable achievements of the film’s effects team in other areas, making a laughing stock out of any hopes the producers might have had of scoring some topical, ‘Jaws’-style action.

The more acclaimed classics of 1970s American independent horror might have gained a rep for their dark, twisted innovation, but for sheer berserk extremity I think ‘Eaten Alive’ pretty much tops them all, even whilst it’s lavishly eccentric production design instead seems to hark back to the ‘60s gothics, or early Technicolor melodramas. Going considerably further in its audience alienation tactics than most viewers are liable to tolerate even today, I can only assume it must have been met with consternation, walk-outs and general bafflement when it first made the rounds of America’s grindhouse/drive-in circuit back in the mid ‘70s.

Like most of Hooper’s post-‘Chainsaw..’ films, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that ‘Eaten Alive’ is a ‘good’ or artistically successful film – and it is certainly not one I’m be liable to recommend to anyone for the purposes of ‘entertainment’ – but it is definitely a unique experience, and that counts for something. Whatever you make of him as a director, Hooper’s bloody-minded pursuit of his own peculiar vision, combined with his apparent refusal to ever actually make the film his producers or audience want him to, is difficult not to admire.

Just spare a thought though for poor old Mardi Rustam, head in hands beside his account ledger a year or so after ‘Eaten Alive’ wrapped, wondering what the hell went wrong.


(1)Other AKAs include ‘Horror Hotel’, ‘Starlight Slaughter’, ‘Legend of the Bayou’, ‘Brutes and Savages’ (appropriate?), ‘Akuma No Nuwa’ [‘The Devil’s Swamp’] in Japan and, as demonstrated via the superb poster above, Quel Motel Vicino alla Palude [‘The Motel Near the Swamp’] in Italy.

(2) I’m sure all this has been widely discussed before, but with my “music fan” hat on, I can’t help but reflect on how ahead of their time Hooper & Bell were with their scores for ‘Chainsaw..’ and ‘Eaten Alive’, and how influential they must have been on the emergence what we’d today classify as ‘harsh noise’ or power electronics. I mean, who else, outside of the farthest reaches of avant garde composition, was busting out this kind of thing in the mid-‘70s?

(3)Amusingly, the perpetually dignified Mel Ferrer also ended up appearing in Umberto Lenzi’s ‘Eaten Alive!’ (1980).