Monday, August 28, 2017

Rosalba Neri News # 27 - OSS 117 Collection On Blu-Ray

Cool Rosalba Euro-Spy Action in HD !!

    Kino Lorber has announced a Sept. 26 release for this 5 film/3 disc set which among its contents is 1968's OSS: DOUBLE AGENT which features (albeit in a small role) the presence of this blog's favorite actress. 
    Based upon novels by French author Jean Bruce with the OSS agent Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath (which numbered 88 in total !) they were adapted to the screen a series of eight films (along with a recent two film revival) that while staring in 1956 with OSS IS NOT DEAD didn't really kick into gear until the mid '60s with the advent of the James Bond films and the ensuing glut of spy movies.
    The OSS movies (for the most part directed by Andre Hunbelle) are some better of the Bond knock-off genre as they had beefier than usual budgets and are chock full of the usual components - jet setting worldwide locations, beautiful female co-stars, gadgets and evil master criminals. It's fun picking out the various 007 connections (Terence Young was the screenwriter of OSS 117: MISSION TO TOKYO) and they're wonderfully entertaining examples of all things 60's spy grooviness.
     OSS: DOUBLE AGENT features American actor John Gavin (PSYCHO) in the title role who replaced Czech born Frederick Stafford from the previous two films. A plastic surgery plot point was worked into the story which was an idea originally broached for ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. The film contains an amazing cast of supporting players (including a couple with past and future 007 linage) including Curt Jurgens (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME), Luciana Paluzzi (THUNDERBALL), Margaret Lee (SLAUGHTER HOTEL w/ Rosalba !), George Eastman (ANTROPOPHAGUS) & Robert Hossein (CEMETERY WITHOUT CROSSES). Gavin's role in this (though unreleased in the U.S. at the time) led to him being considered for Bond in ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. 
     Rosalba makes an early appearance (and quick exit) as the classic spy femme fatale who first beds the title character before attempting to off him.

The above screen caps are from the Region 2 DVD.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


"It was a small Louisiana town where people live and love and die 
and no one ever thought of locking their doors.... except in the Monroe house."

     In 1942 a young couple Ben & Ruth Watkins (Michael Parks & Jessica Harper) move into an old farmhouse in a small Louisiana town for Ben to start a new job at the local sawmill. In a sepia-tinged prologue, we were shown a bloody confrontation at the same house in 1928 during an attempted foreclosure on the Monroe family. Shown the house by the smiling and strangely creepy local real estate agent Jake Rudd (Vic Morrow) Ben & Ruth eagerly move into the house to begin their new life.
     However soon afterward eerie things begin happening as Ruth finds a threatening note in the mailbox and the locals seem to treat the new couple a bit strange. There is a seemingly helpful neighbor Ollie (Sue Ann Langdon) who takes a liking to Ruth who is left alone all day begins to feel something wrong as she sees a strange half-seen figure lurking about. Gradually the couple learns that the house has a violent history with several past occupants meeting death or disappearing which again we're shown in a flashback sequence.

     In 1972 director Charles B. Pierce released THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK which for cinema became the ground zero for the 70's bigfoot craze. Shot on a shoestring budget it made almost $20,0000 (becoming the 10th highest-grossing film of 1972) and pretty much made Pierce's career in the coming decade. Moving into different genres he made a "true crime" style thriller with THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (1976), a period medieval piece with THE NORSEMAN (1978 -Lee Majors as a Viking !) and several interesting western/Native American themed films including WINTERHAWK (1975), THE WINDS OF AUTUMN (1976) & GREYEAGLE (1977).
    Released by A.I.P and coming at the end of this fruitful decade THE EVICTORS has never been one of his more well-regarded films - although the main problem with Pierce and his legacy is that the great majority of his work is damnably hard to find existing on murky bootlegs. I happen to think that THE EVICTORS stands as one of his best films. It features a solid tight little story with very little padding, likable main characters and some excellent supporting work with familiar faces.  Like BOGGY CREEK & TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN 1979's THE EVICTORS is also nominally "based upon true events" and at its core is a kind of back to the roots style of horror (unknown intruder lurking in a home) while at the same time looking ahead to upcoming decades' slasher bonanza (even sharing some atmosphere with the same years WHEN A STRANGER CALLS). The film also fits into the southern horror genre with such films as TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and Rob Zombies HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and THE DEVILS REJECTS with their affirmation of families trying to hold on to their land and lifestyle. Being the 70's and the "horror sells" mantra and the one-sheet ratchets up these elements by showing a shadowed figure carrying a woman out of a creepy house (though to be fair that scene appears in the film).

    Being a big proponent of "magic hour" lighting Pierce shot most of THE EVICTORS at near dusk which gives the film a beautiful golden tone with long shadows and along with his other films it's shot in widescreen (used to full effect) which always gave his films a more substantial look beyond their budget.
    Having the action confined to the house or in the immediate vicinity helps Pierce keep the tension going and eschewing the corny country music songs or comedy relief that popped up in some of his previous films helps keep the proceedings in line also. Showing the various violent episodes of the house's history as spread throughout the films running time works better than having the entire thing lumped in together at the beginning as it helps slowly build the tension.
    Filmed on location in Louisiana it has an excellent period feel to it and Pierce was great at making his movies look a lot "bigger" then they were (the short sequences in the town have a real populated look to them with period cars and folks milling about) and he has a real knack for capturing the language and mannerisms of rural America.

   Though it's not hard to figure out what things are leading up to (especially if you pay close attention to the prologue) there is a nice creepy twist to the finale. Parks and Harper make a very touching couple as they seem to have genuine feelings for each other and attempt to work through things in a natural progression such as when he teachers her to shoot a gun (an act which will play into the climax with dire results). Harper a wonderfully natural actress who put together an awesome resume from the 70's into the early 80's including PHANTOM OF PARADISE (1974), INSERTS (1975), SUSPIRIA (1977), PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (1981) and MY FAVORITE YEAR (1982) is great here as she brings a slowing encroaching felling of dread to her character.
     Previously released on DVD as a bonus with their TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN Blu-ray, Shout Factory have now released this as a standalone blu that will hopefully help its stature. Plus, it gets an added thumbs up as does any release that has Dennis Fimple among the cast Be careful of the spoiler filled trailer !!
    Now let's bring on a legit LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK release !!  

    All above screen grabs are from the Scream Factory Blu -Ray