'Lost in the Multiplex's' very own Lord of the Flea-pit, Julian White writes on film and horror for various sites and magazines, as well as blogging about cult movies. He plans to publish a long horror novel called 'The Diviners' just as soon as the strange voice coming from the filing cabinet stops dictating revisions. He currently lives in the 1980s.
Website URL: http://diabolicalcinema.blogspot.com
Tinto Brass is probably best known for his notorious early movies, Salon Kitty and Caligula (which saw Malcolm McDowell playing a droog in a toga), but over subsequent decades he went right on where he started off, charting his erotic obsessions with unflagging enthusiasm. Witness All Ladies Do It (1992), about Diana (Claudia Koll), a young wife who loves her rather conventional husband, Paolo (Paolo Lanza), but has sexual appetites which he can't even begin to satisfy. Her opportunity to indulge them arises when she inherits a spacious penthouse flat in Venice from a deceased aunt who had a formidable reputation for being what the French call a “grande horizontale.” She doesn't even bother to unpack before she is throwing herself into the arms of Alphonse (Brass regular Franco Branciaroli), a whiskery old pervert whose inner sanctum is graced with a gallery of backsides. Afterwards, she can't wait to tell to Paolo all about her adventures, but how long before he realizes they are actually happening and she's not just making them up out of her overheated imagination?
Like Just Jaeckin, Tinto Brass is synonymous with that '70s phenomenon, the art sex film (this was back in an era when titles like Behind the Green Door played in major cinema chains). But unlike Jaeckin, whose career quickly petered out and whose movies now feel at best pleasantly pointless, Brass continued to pursue an eccentric career in softcore, bucking wider trends in the adult entertainment industry. Considering the way erotica has crept into the mainstream in the last year or so, now would seem an ideal time for rediscovering his work, but does it have anything to say to a modern audience?
If you're wondering why it is that horror buffs fall over themselves to sing the praises of cult Italian director Mario Bava, then this collection of three tales is as good a place as any to satisfy your curiosity. It comes from Bava's halcyon days in the early '60s and shows him at his peak as a visual stylist; it's also full of morbid subtexts and flesh-creeping tension, proving he could be just as scary in colour as in black-and-white.
Given the recent horsemeat scandal, the timing of this release couldn't be better – but then, it's hard to imagine a bad time for welcoming back this prime cut of '80s cult horror. Kevin Connor's salty black comedy concerns Vincent (Rory Calhoun) and Ida (Nancy Parsons), twinkly proprietors of Motel Hello (the neon sign's final “O” is temperamental) and purveyors of Farmer Vincent's smoked meats, which have customers drooling with delight. Outwardly, their business has all the hallmarks of a wholesome Mom and Pop concern. Trouble is, they make use of a controversial secret ingredient – human flesh – and, as a result, their tasty wares have turned half the county into unwitting cannibals.
At the time of its release, Billy Liar (1963) was seen as part of the Angry Young Man and “Kitchen Sink” movements which brought discontented working class characters into the cultural mainstream. These days, though, it has much greater significance as a precursor of Northern comedy and as a key influence on groundbreaking shows such as The Likely Lads. Oh aye, this is where 'tall started, right enough.