#MonsterMovieMonday: Nightmare Castle (1965)

Ho-wdy, Kinky Kreeps!

Just another #MonsterMonday here at Kinky Ho-rror! This week, we’re worshiping at the Crimson Altar of the High Priestess of Gothic Ho-rror, Barbara Steele!

Ms. Steele is, without a doubt, THE Queen of cl-Ass-Sick Ho-rror Cinema. Her piercing eyes, her haunting presence, her ghost-like grace…Barbara always looked like she was about to Steele your soul! No coffin could hold her and no force on Earth could stop her! She held her own against the likes of Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, and Barnabas Collins! Both ho-rror heroine and ho-rrific monster, Steele is a true fright icon.

Today’s terror tale is Nightmare Castle and it features Goddess Steele at her most frightful. The Gothic Queen does double duty as both the doe-eyed Jenny and the ghostly Muriel… and kills it as both!

It’s an old-fashioned sort of story: castles, romance, and… ghosts! A cozy little tale that’s just perfect for this most ghoulish of seasons. With mad science, fiendish torture, surreal nightmares, and an Ennio Morricone score that sounds like it was composed by The Phantom of the Opera, this is film is pure Gothic bliss. And if Steele’s creeptacular performance doesn’t frighten you, you’re already dead!
Do you dare spend the night at… Nightmare Castle?!

Happy #MonsterMovieMonday, Kreeps!! 🙂

#TBT: The “Happy Birthday, Dario Argento” Edition

Happy Birthday to that maestro of Italian ho-rror, Dario Argento!

From his very first picture back in 1970, Signor Argento has been haunting our collective nightmares with some of the most maddeningly beautiful ho-rror films in the world. I mean, the dude puts the “gore” in “gore-geous”! With jaw-dropping camera work, fabulous visuals, and his frequent use of startling colors,  Dario Argento brings a painterly beauty to the canvas of cinema. Among his masterworks are Deep Red, site favorite SuspiriaPhenomena with Jennifer Connelly, and 1987’s Opera.


In ho-nor of this mad artist’s birthaversary, we dug up this groovy documentary on the man. It features interviews with ho-rror legends, including John Carpenter, Alice Cooper, and Jessica Harper. Enjoy, Kreeps! 🙂

Happy Birthday, Dario! Stay scary! 🙂

Goon Review – Madhouse (1981)

(Submited by our Ho-rror Ho-mie, Mr. Andrew W. Peters…Thanks, Madman Magee! 🙂 xoxo)

Ovidio G. Assonitis, like most Italian film directors, had a wide variety of films he’s directed, including the Jaws cash-in Tentacles and the Exorcist cash-in Beyond the Door. Hey, it’s Italy in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s and cash-ins or rip-offs were their thing. He’s also produced a number of films like Piranha II: The Spawning, The Curse, the excellent and often underrated The Visitor, as well as American Ninja 4 and 5. Needless to say the guy knows horror and he also knows movies, so I was psyched when Arrow released Madhouse, an overlooked slasher film from 1981, in a brand new 2K restoration.

However, upon revisiting it, I understood why it’s possibly overlooked. It’s not that I hated, in fact I’m probably one of the few people that rather enjoy it, but I can see why people might find it so underwhelming and that’s because, well, it is. It’s a well made movie and it does have a very interesting premise, but for an Italian made slasher flick, it’s actually kinda tame and falls into cliched trappings and then there’s the reveal of the killer… hoo boy, it’s pretty obvious from the get-go who the killer is and you really hope they don’t “go there,” but, yeah, they do. It’s not only that it’s painfully obvious, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear motivation and honestly it kinda dampers what they were setting up. I gotta say and sorry for sounding like a broken record, but for an Italian made slasher in the early ‘80s, this film feels kinda like it’s playing it safe.

I keep calling it a slasher flick when Italy was more commonly known for suspenseful giallos and while Madhouse toys around with the idea of being a giallo, it doesn’t commit to being one. The same can be said about it being more of a character drama between two twin sisters, one evil and the other good. There’s a fine variety of different ideas here, but the movie can’t seem to decide on which one it would rather be and ends up being a moderate, ho-hum horror flick and for being Italian produced film, a country known for reveling in gore, it’s pretty tame. I don’t know if this was due to budgetary problems or perhaps Ovidio G. Assonitis thought it would make his film more suspenseful and to his credit, it is wonderfully shot and full of dark shadows, so it at least has a very ominous mood.

It opens up interestingly enough; two young girls sit still and silently in blackness as the camera pans in until one starts smashing the other one’s face in with a rock. Alright, movie, you have my attention. I’m interested in finding out what that was about, but unfortunately, we never do. At least, not really. Fast forward years later and the girls are all grown up and you could say they took different paths. One grows up to be a school teacher for the deaf and a stone cold fox, Julia, played by Trish Everly. Who’s Trish Everly and what else has she been in? Exactly. According to IMDB, this is her only credit and she never forayed into the world of acting again which is a shame, because she puts in a terrific performance.

Her sister Mary, on the other hand, has been less fortunate, living her life in a mental institution with a skin disease that has left her disfigured. Talk about drawing the short stick. Mary is under close observation by Father James, a friend of the family who Julia refers to as Uncle. Father James seems a little too pleasant and a little off kilter, so if you know anything about slasher films, I’m sure you’ll be able to see what direction they are taking this character. About halfway through the film, after the reveal of the killer, his character takes quite a silly turn as he’s nonchalantly hauling a body bag into a basement and chasing Julia’s landlady around the her building, skipping and singing children’s nursery rhymes. It’s kind of a whiplash in tone of character and I’m assuming it’s because people are under the impression that just because children’s songs are in a horror movie that makes it’s creepy, but they forget it needs to have context. That’s not the case here. It seemingly comes out of nowhere and I found more puzzled instead of interested and laughed at this reveal. If anything, this dampens the Father character’s motivation for everything happening. In fact when questioned about it, he just giggles and spouts a nursery rhyme that has no bearing or meaning on the situation. It explains nothing or maybe it does. Either way, it doesn’t ever explain why he’s doing what he’s doing.

 

The big red herring or twist of events happens when Julia receives word that Mary has escaped the asylum just in time for their birthday. The birthday doesn’t really play into the main plot, but give a reason for something to happen (I guess), but it just echoes of desperation for the film to take place during a holiday or event to mirror something like Halloween. To the film’s credit, the slasher does have a very interesting weapon of choice; a rottweiler. Yeah, I bet you’d never see the day a slasher film uses an animal as their knife. I was worried for the dog’s health and safety when remembering this is an Italian production, but luckily Ovidio here takes the dog’s well being into consideration. You figure a dog tearing apart the victims would result in a blood bath and mangled body parts, but if there is one thing really disappointing about the film, it’s that it lacks gore. I know gore doesn’t make a horror film, but spectacularly bloody deaths in a slasher makes a better viewing. At most, it’s blood smeared all over someone’s face and the most shocking death in the movie, the death of Julie’s favorite student, takes place off screen, but there I actually feel it gives it more of a punch, especially when she has to break the news to the other students at school. It’s a scene, however, that involves the dog being put into a headlock by Julie and putting a power drill through it’s head that this film is most likely notorious for. Even with a noticeable puppet in use, it’s still a rough scene to watch listening to the dog squeal.

During the finale of the film, I couldn’t help but think of Happy Birthday to Me (a slasher film I like, but find it a tad overrated) and that may be because Madhouse feels like it’s borrowing from other popular slasher movies of that time rather than try to be something original or experimental. That’s kind of surprising for being an Italian horror film, in a way, because while they were more known for ripping a film off, they still took the idea in a wild direction and made it it’s own beast. This feels more of the American cash-in variety where it takes no risks and spends no money on the gore budget. To the film’s credit, it’s the finale where you see what is most likely the goriest moment in the movie where a character takes an axe to the back, spraying chunks of flesh and squirting blood. You can’t help but wonder why this approach wasn’t taken during the rest of the movie. Maybe Ovidio wanted to make not necessarily a classier horror film, but maybe a more suspenseful one with more dignity. It’s unfortunate that’s not what happened.

Along with this being a new 2K transfer, Arrow also includes a new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues. That’s sort of confusing as to why they would have the people from a comedy/horror podcast do the commentary for the film rather than the original cast and crew when they were able to get new interviews with them. You can also check out the alternate opening if you’d like and the theatrical trailer. I think the show stealer in this whole package is the newly commissioned artwork by Marc Schoenbach. Seriously a talented artist and that’s one hell of a spooky cover.

It’s not boring, but rather predictable and subdued. It is at least pretty to look with some creepy cinematography and it doesn’t hurt that it was filmed in a supposed haunted house in Savannah, Georgia. It’s more upsetting seeing what this movie could have been and what it turned out to be instead of it being an actual bad movie. It showed so much promise with a murderous twin angle and the classic black leathered gloved giallos and the end result is so disappointing. It’s tolerable and worth watching for a typical ‘80s slasher, but don’t expect anything beyond that.

Goon Review: Burial Ground (1981)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thank you, freaky fiendster! :)xoxo)

If there is one thing I love about Italiansploitation films (that’s Italian made exploitation films, which I’m sure you were able to figure out), it’s that they would take a preposterous idea seriously while having fun with it. Sometimes without even knowing that’s what they are doing. The producers tell them that the Dawn of the Dead movie is popular, so crank out a zombie flick as fast as you can. Someone writes a script over a lonely, drunken weekend, turns it in and the first director that says they can make it on the lowest budget wins. The gore is ramped up, a few quirky and disturbing character traits are added and the film is cast. Everything is turned up to ten. The actors take their roles very seriously and put their heart and soul into it. Of course, sometimes it’s hard to notice once these films are atrociously dubbed. The film is then haphazardly cut together in a short amount of time and released to your local grindhouse theater the next day for your viewing pleasure. Nethertheless, once those credits start rolling, you aren’t sure what the hell you just experienced, but you loved it.

I have no evidence to back this up, mind you. It’s something I’ve gathered from watching bonus features, reading stories and the overall impression I’m left with once the film is over.

Burial Ground comes to mind as a perfect example of this. Everything about this film is poorly executed, so why do I love it so much? I should hate this film by all accounts, but I don’t. It’s a film that you can’t really talk about or review without putting it under a microscope and fully analyzing it. So hunker down, this is gonna be a long review. I know what you are thinking, “Isn’t there a movie called Nights of Terror?” Well, no. That movie is Rats: Night of Terror. This movie’s subtitle is Nights, with an ‘s’, plural, which is actually quite stupid since the film only takes place during one night. But seeing as how Night was already taken… or maybe they are being extremely technical since the opening of the film does take place on the evening before, but I don’t think they took that into consideration.

Mall Santa by day, back up ZZ Top member by night, Professor… ? (they just call him Professor or “the” Professor if they are being polite or perhaps in some cruel ironic ploy, his name actually was Professor) has just discovered the secret! A secret so secretive that it will be never be revealed what it is or even brought up by anyone again. He then wanders out to some tomb not too far from his mansion where zombies begin to rise and immediately eat him and by eat him I mean they rub identifiable lumps of gore all over their faces to mimic eating, even after his pleas that he is their friend.

First thing you are gonna notice about these zombies is that there seems to be a mix of pretty decent zombie makeup and some of the worst looking zombies you’ve seen. The makeup job can get so bad, that you can see the actors eyes and lips through the masks, even on a low quality VHS. The second thing you’ll notice is how slow they are are. And when I say slow, I mean S-L-O-O-O-O-W. Crawling doesn’t even define it. These zombies move so slow, you’ll think you’re watching a scene in slow motion. You have to wonder how they ever catch their victims to eat, but luckily we have a smorgasbord of daft idiots for them to feast on and I’m not sure where any of these people are in relation to the Professor, since it’s never really addressed (maybe as colleagues in passing, but I can’t recall). The stand out character from this group is Michael, played by Peter Bark, for a reason that will become glaringly obvious the split second he is on screen; he’s a dwarf in his mid 20’s with a bad toupee playing a ten year old. And if that isn’t creepy enough for you, he also has sexual feelings toward his mother.

Anyway, this evenly matched man to woman crew has returned after six months and what’s the first thing they do? Sex! Yeah, the film certainly knows how to maintain your attention, as you watch each of the three couples foreplay, until Michael interrupts his mother, Evelyn’s. She stands there totally nude, inquisiting the young lad about what he is doing, which I’m sure is in no way sexually confusing to the already sexually confused deviant. Without getting too far ahead of myself or psychoanalyzing the character, Evelyn seems to be sexually confused about her son as well, but it’s (surprisingly) more subtle.

The useless blonde archetype of the group, Janet, can’t help but feel that they are all in danger and wants to warn the others, but is discouraged by her lover Mark. The good ol’ ‘Prophet of Doom’. Most of these Italian films had them, even if they don’t fit into the story, like why is she suddenly getting these feelings? It’s never explained, so let’s move on to the next morning, where after some finely placed J&B Scotch product placement, we are finally giving a brief, but not open ended explanation as to why the zombies have risen.

The Professor was studying ‘the black arts’. There ya go.

And this is why all of the characters are here. This is what the Professor wanted to tell them. A simple phone call or letter would not do. Well, we needed a reason to group a bunch of dimwits together for a zombie, gut munching gore fest, so now we have one.

Now that all (and I do mean all) of the exposition is out of the way, we can move on to more exploitation! Each of the couples separate to do their own hobbies, like sketching, photography or George teaching Evelyn to fire a handgun (which, again, never comes back in the film, so take that, Chekhov’s gun!) Ultimately, all of these activities lead to heavy petting, leaving these fools to be distracted as the zombies emerge from the tomb and attack the profusely stupid and conveniently distracted couples. Janet and Mark are the first two to be attacked and although they aren’t sure what to make of the creatures, Mark intelligently states that, “Whatever they are, they aren’t human!” Thanks Mark, I wasn’t able to figure that out. As they escape, Janet runs around screaming and flailing, making Olive Oil look dignified, manages to get herself caught in a bear trap. Wait, why the hell is there a bear trap randomly placed there. Did I say bear? I meant nimrod trap.

Meanwhile, George is trying to seduce Evelyn, even while Michael is in the room (which I’m sure seeing random dudes grind on his mom is in no way adding to those sexual feelings toward her…). In a disturbing turn of the scene, Michael manages to gain his mother’s attention by finding a cloth, commenting that it smells like death, then showing George how to really seduce a woman as he kisses his mom’s hand all over while staring right into George’s eyes as if saying, “Yeah punk, let me show you how it’s done. I know what my mom likes!” I can’t believe I had to write that. This movie is making me feel ill.

Luckily before things go any further and turns into some weird fetish films, the zombies attack, killing George leaving Evelyn and Michael to defend themselves by throwing paint on the zombies and setting them on fire. James and Leslie, the other couple (sorry, that’s the best description I have for them) manage to save them in time, as they also previously saved Mark and Janet. They group takes shelter inside the house, with what looks like very helpful stage direction from a zombie who points for them to run in a certain direction. Finally inside with the butler and maid, Nicholas and Kathleen, they decide it’s best to check out the rest of the house to make sure it’s safe. Mark heroically volunteers defenseless Kathleen to go search the entire house by herself. Sorry lady, but we can’t spare any of these several people sitting around. After searching the house for a bit, Kathleen finds an open window to close on the second floor, but that doesn’t stop these zombies. These zombies are ninja like experts with their precise accuracy as one throws a tent spike right into her hand, pinning her in her spot and leaving them time to slowly cut off her head with a scythe, making this what could be the best zombie kill in a movie.

These zombies may look laughably stupid, but they know how to organize. Arming themselves with weapons from a nearby and conveniently placed tool shed, they march to the front door and begin smashing on it with tools. However James, who inexplicably now has a shotgun, starts blowing their heads off from an open window. Even these zombies aren’t that stupid, as after about a dozen of them have their brains reduced to mush, they begin to retreat. The group feels they are now safe for the night and Leslie heads off to find some bandages for Janet’s wounded leg, only to be jumped from a zombie outside as she passes a window, who uses a broken shard of glass to push through her brain. This calls for all the other zombies to infiltrate like a SWAT team and attack helpless Janet in a scene that feels like it goes on forever, until the others reappear and fight back.

That was pretty tense! I think everyone needs a break. As they all sit around and rest up, Michael uses this time to make a move on his mom by kissing her and groping, adding a whole new definition to breastfeeding, which she sickly seems to be going with, but snaps out of it and slaps him across the face and immediately apologizes. Yeah, this kid is gonna be messed up for the rest of his life, which coincidentally isn’t too much longer. He darts off only to have his arm devoured by a zombie Leslie, who I thought had glass stabbed through her brain (but, how did she turn if she wasn’t bit?). Evelyn finds the now dead Michael and bashes zombie Leslie’s head up against a bathtub, leaking all kinds of grossly colored juices.

No time for mourning your weirdo son, lady. The zombies have made a homemade battering ram (holy moly, they are resourceful) and have broken down the door! If only they were really slow moving and weak, then maybe they would have a chance of escaping… instead the remaining survivors hide until morning when Janet spots what looks like a monk heading inside the tomb. Monks? Sure why not! I’m sure they are downright neighborly and will offer shelter and help or, as it turns out, they are zombies and kill James upon seeing him, who almost immediately rises from the dead.

So what are the qualifications for becoming a zombie in this movie? Do you or don’t you have to get bit? How long does it take? Who cares! Zombies, right?

The final three realize they are locked in the tomb’s… workshed? Yeah, why does this place have a workshed? I guess when monks and the Professor aren’t studying the black arts, they are heavy into home repair. I’m sure a work shed is in no way a setup for the final act and our remaining victim’s fate (wow, I am using a lot of sarcasm in this review). Michael returns as a zombie, with a whole new arm somehow and a nipple bite later, Janet and Mark are being surrounded and being pushed headfirst into saw blades. The movie closes on a freeze frame, telling of a “profecy” of a “nigths” and that’s not a typo on my part.

So the movie ends about as well as you thought it would. With obviously glaring typos over the survivor’s demise.

If it weren’t for the time that this movie was made, I would have sworn this is a spoof, otherwise there would be no explanation as to how bad things are in this movie. Complaints about some of the terrible and revealing makeup aside (at least during the close ups), these zombies are incredibly slow moving and weak. In order to make them a menace, the characters in this film are written to a point of stupidity so insane, that it is fiction. Nothing anyone does is something anything with a pulse would do. They stand around looking puzzled as zombies slowly shuffle toward them, then while escaping, they run head first into the undead, even though they have plenty of space to run around them. Of course, most zombie films are guilty of this, but here it’s overplayed. Thankfully, it plays for laughs and sheer entertainment. With the exception of Michael, I can’t say anything positive about the other characters. There is simply nothing to them, except to be a meal for the zombies. I’m not expecting deep character development, but literally all of these characters are the same. The guys are all faux masculine and the women just cry. In some sort of sick ironic sense, if it weren’t for Michael, there wouldn’t be any reason to watch these buffoons.

Playful jabs aside, the film isn’t horribly directed. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t consider it to be beautiful like a Mario Bava film or something like Fulci’s The Beyond, but mood is well established and the shots frame everything well to capture what is going on. The soundtrack is… interesting to say the least. It’s no Harry Manfredini score, but it’s odd keyboard ‘pokes’ and tense violin strings do accompany the film extremely well. And the gore. Oh yes, the gore. There is more than enough here to satisfy any like minded horror fan as these poor chumps are ripped apart and have their guts devoured, body parts torn or cut off and even the zombies themselves get their head smashed to bits. Also, I know I joked about some of the makeup looking pretty bad and it can be, but there are some good looking zombies thrown in, complete with maggot covered faces and all. And I do have to say, it’s refreshing to see zombies use some tools for a change and instead of mindlessly lumbering around, these zombies actually had something of a plan and did what they could to do it. I was often reminded of the first zombie encountered in Night of the Living Dead who uses a brick. There are very few breaks in between the carnage for you to sit back and relax, as something is always out to get you. Even the dubbing is fitting for the film. It’s as atrocious as you would expect (especially Peter Bark’s voice over) from an Italiansploitation film, yet it somehow fits into all of this.

Ever hear the phrase ‘so bad it’s good?’ Well, this is what the are referring to when they say that. This is a movie that by all accounts (the special effects, acting, directing, etc.) should be a bad film, but it isn’t. Everything that is bad is what makes this film good. Lying beneath its serious demeanor is a smirk of devilish charm, a film that is (or at least it must be) self aware and having some fun with you. Underneath all the layers of cheese is a delicious blend of fun and hokiness. Burial Ground is what I consider to be the definitive example of the Italian zombie genre of the 80’s. It’s not revered as a classic in the way that George Romero’s earlier zombie flicks are, but the film is looked as a classic in terms of what to expect from an exploitation film of this genre.

Luckily, Severin Films is also a fan of the film and completely restored it in 2K and even though it does clean it up too much to the point where all the bad makeup becomes even more evident, it’s still amazing to watch in clear detail. It wouldn’t even be an official release if you didn’t toss in a bunch of new extras, most of which are interviews with the cast and crew, so that means you have to read it since they are in Italian. There’s also deleted and extended scenes as well as the theatrical trailer and Severin also offers a poster along with it with amazing artwork from Wes Benscoter.

I really could go on forever about Burial Ground, but I think it’s easiest, and probably the best, to say you need to see it. I don’t think you can consider yourself to be a zombie fan or Italian film fan until you do.

Goon Reviews: Wild Beasts

(The Animal Lover in me can’t with this movie, but I still appreciate Mr. Andrew Peters for sitting through it and sharing his thoughts with us. I’m now super certain I shall be avoiding it at all costs. 😉 xoxox)


Franco Prosperi doesn’t often get the credit he deserves, be it good or bad. He first exposed his work to the world in 1962 with Mondo Cane, the original “shockumentary” of mostly real archive footage displaying mankind at its most depraved and perverse, displaying bizarre rites, cruel behavior and bestial violence. He would try to outdo what he had previously done with his later works, Africa Blood and Guts and Goodbye Uncle Tom. Arguably, this is what started the whole Italian horror and gore genre, possibly even the cannibal movies. Later Italian horror films, like Cannibal Holocaust (and in this regard, Cannibal Ferox as well) seemed to revel in the animal cruelty and sadistic violence toward or from a culture.

His final film in 1983 would be a step away from the shockumentaries and more toward the nature strikes back genre with Wild Beasts, a film that feels like a mix of zombie outbreak spreading and animals run amok on a killer rampage. On paper, this sounds like it could be pretty damn fun! And then slowly the realization dawned on me that this was an Italian made film that featured scenes of people fighting against real life animals.

Real animals are gonna die in this film, aren’t they?

This is something I can never excuse. I’ve gone off about this once or twice, but an animal should never have to die for your goddamn movie. I’ve heard some people try and defend it by telling me that’s it’s because it’s a different time and things were different. That may be true, but that doesn’t mean morals didn’t exist. It’s not just mistreating animals, this film gets downright uncomfortably sadistic with it and seems to enjoy the fact that they are killing animals, ya know, for your entertainment. For example, a cat has a legion of rats attacking it and although apparently according to some sources I’ve read that both the cat and those rats lived, but the look of sheer brutality on their faces tells me they didn’t escape without injuries. The rats, however, were sprayed with high pressured hoses, which I’m sure some drowned or had bones broken and then they were lit on fire with flamethrowers. The camera shows this going on for minutes with little or no dialogue, like it wants to show off the fact that they are torching real rats. It was one of the most sickest fucking things I sat through. I seriously yelled, “are you fucking kidding me, Italy?” at my TV, paused it to catch my breath and then back at it.

If that was the reaction you were going for, congratulations movie. You proved that you can be a soulless, depraved piece of shit.

Okay, I had my little rant, so let’s talk about the actual film itself. In essence, PCP manages to get into a local zoo’s water supply, so as a result they go into a kill crazy rampage. The setup alone is a sleazy, exploitation movie waiting to happen and, oh, throw in the main chick from Cannibal Ferox for good measure and so the audience knows what kind of film they are in for, since she only seems to pop up in the real dirty and gritty Italian flicks. I could stop talking about it now, since that pretty much IS the film, but I’ll tell you a little bit about it.

Rupert takes care of animals at the zoo as well as does some other science-y stuff. I may have stopped paying attention or this was never explained. Neither would surprise me. He has a thing going with the aforementioned “chick from Cannibal Ferox,” Lorraine De Selle as Laura. I can’t quite recall what her purpose was either, other than to be damsel in distress and to assure those familiar with this type of film that you are gonna see some real carnage. She has a super bratty, obnoxious daughter, Suzy, that I could have sworn I recognized in the same role from other Italian horror flicks, but this was the only film this actress has ever done, so I’m assuming it’s whoever dubbed her voice I am confusing it with. Anyway, you don’t care about the daughter (in fact, I was hoping she would have been devoured at some point in the film) and Laura doesn’t seem to care about her that much either, always neglecting her and forgetting about her. So far, Rupert is the most likable character and I have to give kudos to this actor as he actually gets in close range with these animals and pets them. I’m guessing this was a “anything goes” kind of set, seeing as it was all about nature taking course, or something.

It’s pretty much immediately PCP gets into the water, although at the time you aren’t sure what exactly is going on, but it’s clued that something is wrong with the water supply by showing all the animals taking drinks before the outbreak. There’s some filler afterwards to get to know the characters a little bit, but it’s pretty muched described in the paragraph above and being from the “Godfather of Mondo,” he knew when to let all hell break loose. Elephants smash through down the brick walls of the zoo and all of the other animals bust outta the joint and endure on a kill crazy rampage, tearing some poor victims to shreds. It’s practical effects mixed with stuntmen (I only assume… this is Italy after all) being mauled and shredded to death. The practical effects of all the cuts and guts being torn out look spectacular and it’s sure what most of you paid to see and it pays off quite well.

Now the characters find themselves in one hell of a predicament as the animals roam the city and devouring anyone they come across. This is where the movie plays out much like an early ‘80s zombie knock off film as the characters try to find out what is going on, what’s causing the problem and how to stop it while the Police sit around and eat popcorn. Seriously, there is a detective who sits around and eats bags of popcorn as the scientists or zoo workers – whatever the hell their occupation was – try to find a solution and he’s just hanging back munching a snack without a care in the world.
Things seem to escalate when they realize the water supply was tainted and this could be more widespread than they think… and that people could be now infected. Meanwhile, Suzy is off at dance class and they have no idea that zoo animals are running around slaughtering everyone until a polar bear breaks into their class and eats their teacher. On a list of things that were unexpected, I bet that lady never would have imagined that would happen. The kids also stop for a water break, but Suzy decides to stick to her ice cold, delicious Coca-Cola, a product placement I’m sure Coke is totally happy about. As they find shelter from the polar bear, the kids arm themselves with knives and Suzy soon realizes that she’s in just as much danger hiding in a room with her peers as she was with the polar bear. I have to ask, is this some new strain of PCP that makes you kill crazy? Or is that how PCP actually is? I’ve never had an interest in doing something that stupid, so I don’t know. Either way, the outbreak has now spread to humans, so things are really taking an ugly turn. They don’t really go into it that much, nor do they resolve who decided to spike the water in the first place, although it’s hinted at and maybe that’s the way to do with that. It does keep it ominous and mysterious.

Finally after a long, long time, Wild Beasts is presented on Blu-ray in an all new cleaned up digital restoration. The quality is absolutely phenomenal to say the least. There is some grain here and there, but that sort of thing doesn’t bother me when watching an older film. In fact, I prefer a little bit of weather, because they don’t look right if they are completely polished, like something is being lost in translation. There’s also a handful of interviews with various cast and crew members as they talk about their experiences with the film, but it’s all in Italian, so for those of you who hate reading subtitles, I don’t know what to tell you other than you are being silly.

Wild Beasts can be laughably ridiculous, shocking or even appalling at times, but it’s always captivating. The film feels like a mix bagged of genres, being more than just an animals attack movie. It begins with an isolated incident that quickly escalates and in the last several minutes or so shows you that this has now become a widespread outbreak and this certainly isn’t the end, implying an apocalyptic, drug crazed doom of some kind. As much as I can dislike something for animal cruelty, Wild Beasts is absolutely gonzo and a unique, gory blend of various genres.