John Morghen Massacre!!!

Gory greetings! Your old pal Brain Hammer is proud to present a tribute to the one and only Giovanni Lombardo Radice (aka John Morghen).

Regardless of what name appears on the title credits, Giovanni should be a familiar face to all fans of clas-sick Italian horror. He has worked with such legendary Italian horror directors as Lucio Fulci, Ruggerio Deodato, Antonio Margheriti, Umberto Lenzi, and Michelle Soavi. Giovanni is a true horror icon, and his death scenes are some of the most spectacular in splatter flick history. This special edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features a fearsome foursome of clas-sick Italian horror epics starring Giovanni Lombardo Radice.

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980)

A gifted psychic named Mary Woodhouse (Catriona MacColl) dies from sheer fright during a séance after receiving a morbid vision of a priest named Father Thomas hanging himself in the cemetery of a cursed town called Dunwhich. Dunwhich is built upon “the ruins of the original Salem” which also hide one of the seven gates of Hell. As foretold in the book of Enoch, the suicidal preacher hanging himself causes the unfaithful servant to go straight to Hell and for the next three days the moon will turn red and the cities’ dead will walk the earth. Horrendous, awful things begin happening in Dunwhich that will shatter your imagination.

For starters, Mary isn’t really dead and was buried alive. Luckily for Mary, the pathologist played by none other than Lucio Fulci himself didn’t bother giving her an autopsy! Mary is saved from an agonizing death inside her partially buried coffin after a hard boiled reporter named Peter Bell (Christopher George – RIP) slowly realizes that Mary is screaming at the top of her lungs inside the casket and does the only logical thing – he grabs a fucking pick axe and slams it right into the part of the coffin where Mary’s face would be! After saving Mary’s life Peter hesitatingly agrees to join her on the quest to find the mysterious town of Dunwhich. According to the prophecies of Enoch, if the portals of Hell aren’t closed by All Saints Day no dead body will ever be able to rest in peace again and the dead will rise up all over the earth and take over the world. Peter and Mary have to destroy Father Thomas’ body to close the gates of hell and save humanity.

Meanwhile, the horror in Dunwhich reaches a fevered pitch as the dead priest wanders the town looking for victims. Staring into the eyes of the evil priest is enough to cause one unfortunate girl (Daniela Dora) to cry tears of blood and then puke up her internal organs, much to shock and disgust of her soon to be brain dead boyfriend (future director Michelle Soavi!). The plague of the dead also manifests itself in the form of sudden earthquakes that cause massive property damage to the local watering hole, angry cat scratching that rips the flesh of a neurotic woman named Sandra (Janet Agren) with incest issues, and undead grandmothers that chomp off a mortician’s fingers.

The town’s madness begins to infect its dimwitted citizens as well. A jealous father takes out his rage and confusion on the town pervert – Bob (the one and only Giovanni Lombardo Radice!) and puts a power drill through his brain. Once Peter and Mary finally make their way to the cursed city they are welcomed by maggots that fall like rain. Peter and Mary brush off the maggots and then team up with Sandra and her shrink Gerry (Carlo De Mejo) before heading into the decrepit catacombs underneath the priest’s grave site for a fiery final showdown with the possessed priest.

This is my favorite Lucio Fulci film, and one of my all time favorite films too. I’ve been a big fan since witnessing the film’s ability to shock and horrify firsthand. I was introduced to this one via a 1990 rental of the Paragon “Gates Of Hell” vhs that caused several of my friends (and their little sisters) to leave the room disgusted. Since then, I’ve watched this one more times than I can count. I think “City Of The Living Dead” is a perfect film, and Fulci’s true masterpiece. This is also my favorite of the many genius works that Lucio Fulci and writer Dardano Sacchetti worked on together. A lot of people prefer “The Beyond,” but I think “City Of The Living Dead” has a much more blasphemous and hallucinogenic vibe. It’s also a considerably more stylish film than “The Beyond” and possesses a truly morbid atmosphere that few other horror flicks can come close to matching.

The late great Christopher George turns in another one of his trademark winning performances. Chris was on a fucking tear in the early 80′s, appearing in one classic genre flick after another before his untimely death in 1983. He also starred in the classic 1980 vigilante flick “The Exterminator” and the following year appeared in both “Enter The Ninja” and “Graduation Day.” Who knows how many more amazing films Christopher would have starred in if only given the chance? The mind boggles. It’s great that Christopher and Lucio were able to work together, even if they didn’t get along and Christopher supposedly filled Fulci’s pipe full of maggots!

Fulci’s favorite leading lady, Catriona MacColl (“The Beyond,” “House By The Cemetery”) and his favorite female victim – Daniela Dora (“The New York Ripper,” “House By The Cemetery”) both star here and both contribute greatly to the film’s success. Catriona does a remarkable job in the role of Mary. Her scene inside the coffin when she wakes up buried alive is fantastic. Daniela steals the entire movie and instantly ensured a place in the annals of horror history for participating in what has to be one of the most insanely sickening death scenes ever captured on film. Daniela proved her “guts” by having the nerve to swallow actual sheep entrails and regurgitate them on camera at Fulci’s command! This is only one of the memorable moments of “City Of The Living Dead,” but the iconic image of Daniela crying tears of blood and then slowly puking up her innards is what immediately comes to a horror fan’s mind when you hear the title.

The living dead mostly take a back seat to the buckets of blood and maggots, but there should be more than enough gut barfing and brain ripping to keep gorehounds happy. The splatter effects from Gino De Rossi (“Zombi II,” “Cannibal Ferox”) are about as top notch as they come. But for some random and completely hysterical reason, whenever the frequently repeated closeup shot of the brain ripping is shown the hand doing the ripping clearly belongs to a black man with hairy knuckles! This makes the climax to the aforementioned gut barfing scene unintentionally hilarious as clearly it’s not Daniela’s hand ripping out Michelle Soavi’s brain. The zombies we do get to see look fantastic, as they were created by the legendary Rosario Prestopino (“Zombi II,” “Burial Ground)”. “City Of The Living Dead” is a film with GUTS, and a lot of them.

CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD should be considered mandatory viewing for all horror fans. Sharp eyed Italian horror buffs will get a kick out of seeing so many familiar faces. (Watch out for Perry Pirkanen of “Cannibal Ferox/Holocaust” legend in a small yet pivotal role as a perverted gravedigger!) I really can’t say enough good things about this one. “City Of The Living Dead” is a horror clas-sick. Anchor Bay and Blue Underground have both released “City Of The Living Dead” on dvd. The dvd features the theatrical trailer and radio spots. BUY IT!!!

 

HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK (1980)

The flick that will make you scream “DO IT TO ME ONCE MORE!” David Hess and Giovanni Lombardo Radice play the dynamic duo of Alex & Ricky: a pair of super swinging NYC psychopaths. Alex is so bad, he even rapes and murders a girl – at the same time mind you – BEFORE the opening credits! I guess the producers didn’t want anyone to forget who David Hess was!

Alex runs a garage and deals in hot cars on the side. Ricky is his loyal, semi-retarded sidekick. One night a rich and good looking young yuppie couple pulls into the garage after hours looking for a quick repair. Ricky fixes the problem while Alex makes chit chat with the chick and ogles her ruthlessly. The couple mentions a small get together taking place at their house later and Alex and Ricky quickly invite themselves along. Once at the party and introduced to the three other guests Alex starts pawing at the girl and Ricky gets his freak on all over the dance floor much to the amusement of the others. (HILARIOUS!)

After a “now you get me, now you don’t” game in the shower, and a crooked card game where the kids try to swindle the mongoloid out of his money, Alex decides that the rich kids are trying to have some fun at their expense and whips out his trusty straight razor. The secluded house on the edge of the park becomes the ideal setting for an orgy of sexual sadism.

Every exploitative element (with the sad exception of Religion, I would have loved an obvious Jew for Hess to hurl abuse at!) is used to its fullest potential. You want multi-racial lesbianism at knife point? You got it. Racism? In spades. Rape? You bet’cha! Well, not so much actual rape as the constant threat, or perhaps promise, of rape. Violence? Oh yeah! Feast your eyes on brutal bloody beatings, razor blade slicing, poolside urination humiliations, and even 9mm castration!

As nasty as this flick sounds (and undoubtedly is) it actually plays out in a lot more entertaining fashion that you might expect. This flick is my favorite of the trilogy because I feel it has a lot more repeat viewing value than the other entries. I can’t get enough of David Hess saying “It’s too late for boogyin’ anyway” or calling the black chick “Roots.” I never tire of hearing that catchy disco theme song or watching Giovanni get down with his bad self as he seduces the always lovely Lorraine De Selle (“Cannibal Ferox!”) with his funky dance moves.

This Italian effort which was directed by the legendary Ruggerio Deodato (“Cannibal Holocaust”) obviously owes a debt to “Last House On The Left,” especially with Hess starring and the title. However, this is no inferior rehash. This flick is a tight thriller with a nifty twist ending. Another interesting aspect of the film is the fact that it mostly takes place within one location. Once we enter the house, we only rarely leave it. It’s to both Deodato’s and Hess’s credit that the film never gets boring.

As I’ve said before, this flick is a personal favorite of mine. I’ve forced many people to watch it over the years and it never fails to entertain. People who might consider “Last House On The Left” too brutal might find this more tolerable. There is a lot of unintentional humor to enjoy here, especially with the music and wardrobe. Lots of nice nudity throughout, and lovers of BUSH will get a hairy eyefull when the lovely leading lady Anne Belle sheds her clothes. Not to mention classic lines like “street fighting you don’t learn watching Telle Savales on tv.” This really is a clas-sick.

You can get HOUSE OF THE EDGE OF THE PARK on dvd, with a slew of bonus features, including very in-depth interviews with David Hess & Giovanni Lombardo Radice, thanks to the fine fiends at Shriek Show.

 

CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE (1980)

Vietnam vet Norman Hopper (John Saxon!) returns home from the war scarred both physically and mentally. He tries in vain to settle back into domestic bliss with his wife in their Atlanta home but is tormented by recurring nightmares where he relives the gruesome bloodshed and flesh eating he witnessed in the jungles of ‘nam. He’s also infected with a violent infectious strain of cannibalism (!) thanks to a starving P.O.W. that took a bite out of his arm. Much to his horror and his wife’s disgust he slowly develops a taste for blood, and the tender thigh meat of the flirtatious teenage girl who lives next door.

Things take a turn for the worse after Hopper’s old combat buddy Charlie Bukowski (played by the legendary Giovanni Lombardo Radice) is released from the nut house also nurturing a taste for human flesh. Charlie takes a bite out of a half naked girl inside a grind house theater and winds up on the run from the cops and an idiot gang of bikers attempting to be vigilantes. He holes up inside a large indoor flea market and blows away quite a few cops and bikers as they try to bring him to justice. Norman shows up and convinces the cops to let him go inside to talk to Charlie. Norman regains Charlie’s trust by reminding him that the best way to deal with a can of tear gas is to piss on it, “Just piss on it.”

Norman and Charlie are then both brought back to the local mental institution, where yet another deranged vet – and coincidentally enough the same guy who bit Norman in Vietnam – Tom, is also being treated. The trio of cannibals becomes a quartet when a nurse is also infected with the cannibalism virus. The four lunatics (made up with the exact same race and gender as the four leads in George A. Romero’s “Dawn Of The Dead”) fight their way out the hospital, and then waste a few street punks who get in their way before heading into the Atlanta sewers for a gut-wrenching final showdown with the police.

Antonio Margheriti directed this infamous shocker, and the very prolific Dardano Sacchetti wrote the screenplay. This is a unique “cannibal” flick, as it features cannibalism as a virus that can be spread from person to person. The deranged flesh hunters are somewhat similar to the infected killers in Romero’s “The Crazies” and David Cronenberg’s “Rabid.” They crave flesh and blood and will stop at nothing to get what they want. The violence here is really quite exceptional, with lots of brutal fight scenes, splashy gun battles, and gory flesh ripping. The opening sequence features an especially disgusting moment where the starved P.O.W.’s chomp into the freshly barbecued flesh of a young Vietnamese girl. The highlight of the film has to be the spectacular demise of Giovanni Lombardo Radice, who has a giant see-through hole blown in his abdomen! There’s also a delightful “shock” ending that ends the film on a great note.

Apparently actor John Saxon considers this flick to be a personal low point of his life and career, and in the “Cannibal Apocalypse Redux” documentary admits he that even contemplated suicide at one point after realizing he had appeared in such a vile picture. If that’s true, imagine how John must have felt a few years later when he was starring in crap flicks like “Hands Of Steel” and “Welcome To Spring Break.” This flick features more characterization and emotional depth than the standard cannibal efforts, and is well acted and very nicely shot. It’s also “nasty” enough to have been banned in the UK back in the day, and was heavily edited in the States when released under the name “Invasion Of The Flesh Hunters.” Like any action/horror/exploitation flick, this has to be seen UNCUT to be fully appreciated.

Hats off to Image Entertainment for releasing a beautiful, digitally remastered dvd of CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE that is 100% uncut. It also includes several “sewer dwelling special features” including the aforementioned “Cannibal Apocalypse Redux” documentary, “Apocalypse In The Streets” – a video tour of the filming locations, trailers, still galleries, and more. It’s exactly the type of special edition dvd that a superior genre flick like this deserves.

 

 

CANNIBAL FEROX (1981)

A young pair of brother and sister anthropologists – Gloria & Rudy Davis (Lorraine De Salle & Danilo Mattei), take a trip to the jungles of South America to help prove correct Gloria’s theories on the “myth” of man eating man. They intend to prove that cannibalism no longer exists, and has NEVER existed! How they can prove cannibalism never existed by simply visiting a jungle is not explained. Also not explained is why they would want to bring their hot pussied little whore of a friend Pat (Zora Kerova) along for the trip. The three idiots quickly manage to crash their jeep and have to trek through the jungle on foot.

After a tasty encounter with a native who is contently munching on some fat green worms, the gang runs into a dead body and pair of lowlife drug pushers that are on the run from the New York mob after pulling a sting on a couple of Brooklyn horsemen and running off with $100,000. At first the rather strung out Mike Logan (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) tells a tale about a tribe of vicious cannibals that attacked them and mutilated their Portuguese cocaine and emerald harvesting companion. His buddy Joe is wounded, and lets Mike do most of the talking. Later that night and the next day Mike has some fun with Pat. After a few coke fueled fuck fests he asks her if she would like to “make” an Indio girl. Pat, being a well established slut, is intrigued by this and agrees, which leads to the attempted rape and cold blooded murder of one of the young natives.

Shortly after this senseless murder the now sick and delirious Joe finally breaks his silence and tells the real story behind the death of the “Portuguese.” It turns out that the story Mike told the gang was a lot of batshit. The so-called “Portuguese” was really a young Indio boy that Mike had tortured and murdered for not producing any Emeralds from the local rivers. With the cocaine Mike was on, he went completely crazy and seemed to get a perverted kick out of make the poor bastard suffer. Mike gouged out one of the Indio’s eyes, then castrated him and left him to bleed to death. After telling Gloria and Rudy his incredible story Joe dies from an infection. This gives Mike and Pat enough time to steal all of the supplies and leave the others for dead.

The adult men of the Indio tribe had all conveniently been away on a hunting trip while Mike was on his rampage. After returning home and discovering this incredible outrage the tribe decides that all of the white people must die, slowly. It doesn’t take long for all four of the survivors to be captured and brutal and primitive justice is dished out in short order. Once the unholy cannibal ferox has begun the natives have a blast hanging Pat with hooks through her tits and then give Mike more than a little taste of his own medicine. Humiliation and mutilation are only the appetizer for this blood feast – castration and decapitation are the main course. And of course no jungle revenge would be complete without a little cannibalism for desert.

This outrageous 1981 Umberto Lenzi film begins with a thoughtful pre-credits disclaimer that warns viewers that “the following feature is one of the most violent films ever made” and that “there are at least two dozen scenes of barbaric torture and sadistic cruelty graphically shown.” I lost count somewhere along the way, but that number sounds about right to me. Pretty much every other scene consists of nauseating footage of animals being killed, either by other animals or humans. One particularly disturbing moment features a tied up and defenseless little mongoose being savaged by a large snake! However, with all the flack that Lenzi (and all the other “jungle” flick directors) deservedly gets for his completely unnecessary cruelty to animals, I’m left wondering why more people don’t hate Francis Coppola for doing the exact same thing in “Apocalypse Now,” or despise Walter Hill for “Southern Comfort.” I guess when they do it – it’s considered art.

This is my hands down my personal favorite of all of the Italian cannibal/jungle flicks. For all of its many faults I find this one ridiculously entertaining. Say what you want about this one, it certainly isn’t boring. The dubbing, the dialog, the score – all cheesy perfection. This one wins the prize for featuring the most plentiful gore of all the early 80′s jungle flicks. It also wins the prize for the most frequent use of the word “twat” in any non porno film! Speaking of porno, the infamous Robert Kerman of “Cannibal Holocaust” & “Debbie Does Dallas” legend makes a brief appearance as a NYC cop looking for Giovanni’s character. This one has a delightfully sleazy vibe throughout that lends itself to a lot of repeat viewings.

Grindhouse Releasing did a typically beautiful job with their deluxe uncensored letterboxed edition of CANNIBAL FEROX.  As usual their dvd release includes a slew of bonus features including a commentary track with Umberto Lenzi & Giovanni Lombardo Radice, trailers, and still galleries. No gorehound’s dvd collection is complete without this gem, SHITFACE!!!

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

 

 

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