Thursday, May 26, 2011

Corjo: The Killer Corgi Trailer

It's Trailer Obscura time! I've just finished a short trailer for my ongoing trailer compilation project and this one features a killer rabid corgi. Yeah, you heard right. A killer rabid corgi named Corjo!

The title role of the little bastard is played by my very own hell hound, Willow, who in his own right is a pain in the ass. We were playing out back and he was covered in mud looking like something out of Cujo so I thought, what the hell let's make this a trailer.

I basically filmed it on the spot and then whipped up this trailer in a matter of seconds, but it's still very effective in portraying an off the wall Grindhouse type vibe. Hopefully it's entertaining, so check it out.

Corjo: The Killer Corgi Trailer by jayskitstar

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

REVIEW: Kriminal

Director: Umberto Lenzi
Year 1966

Kriminal is a mishmash of 60's film elements, based off the popular 1964 italian comic book of the same name, that showcases the crazy antics of a master thief named Kriminal. With his creepy skeletal disguise, he robs from the rich to make himself richer, all the while being chased by the determined Inspector Milton who will stop at nothing until Kriminal is behind bars.

The film is just wacky as all hell, with enough sixties euro-vibe atmosphere to shake a stick at. The real fun is in Kriminal's nonchalant attitude, as he pulls off some very imaginative capers. He's so cool and calculative, that he appears unstoppable in his pursuit for the riches. There's even some great twists and turns in the narrative that prove Kriminal to be one hell of a tricky bastard and the film to be an entertaining ride where anything can happen.

Nice ascot.... Ass!

Kriminal, that creepy pervert.

The first aspect of this film that really drew me in, was the genre hopping that occurs throughout the film. At its heart, Kriminal is a heist caper that focuses on one master thief as he goes about pulling off a daring robbery that continuously escalates as the story moves on. Underneath that simple premise lies a more mishmashed mixture of sub-genres including horror, comedy, and Eurospy elements. The layers are all there, but they melt so well with the world of which Kriminal inhabits that they really don't jump out at you at first sight. 

What really works for me the most out of all of those sub categories is the Eurospy element. If Kriminal wasn't a thief, he would have made one hell of a secret agent. He globe trots like a madman, romancing every woman that he comes into contact with, often leaving them dead or dying. If that wasn't enough to set him in the mold of the typical super spy, the guy also has charisma to boot. With such a strong Eurospy atmosphere, I debated on whether to add this to my i Spy Eurospy segment, but opted out at the last second seeing that in essence Kriminal is not a good guy. He's a bastard, but oh how good at being a bastard he is. 

Kriminal says, "If you can't take the heat, get your ass out the sauna."

I just can't look at you when you're wearing that ridiculous outfit.

Kriminal is not your usual central character for a movie. He doesn't rescue the girl or save the day, but instead is out for himself. Everything that he does throughout the film is to benefit himself and he often does this at the expense of other people's lives. With all of this bad publicity and selfishness that comes with Kriminal's personal baggage, you surprisingly end up rooting for the guy. It's a strange outcome for someone who is such a prick, but the plans that he executes are so outlandish and bold that you can't help but hope he gets away with it.

It also doesn't hurt that Kriminal has a confidence and self assurance that hasn't been seen on the screen since Sean Connery's turn as James Bond and that is all credited to the fine acting prowess of Glen Saxson. This guy never falters, even at the sight of capture. He just grins and presses on, lying his way out of any jam and diverting the attention of his pursuers with ease. Kriminal is one smooth criminal and he makes it look so easy too.

Kriminal AKA Handsome man about town.

WANTED: That mustache!

Now what I respect Kriminal most for is his fashion sense. The guy is supposed to be a master thief, stealthy to the last, but what kind of outfit does he decide on? A bright yellow skeletal halloween costume that practically screams out "Over here!" With such a vibrant and unstealthy selection, he shockingly never gets caught. Now that's one hell of a master thief.

When not burglarizing the well to do, Kriminal wears the most distinguished in sixties swinging attire. The man can rock an ascot like it's nobodies business and when it comes to sleek suits, he's right up there with some of the most stylish secret agents of the era. In fact the overall style of the film is very lush and exotic, making it a pleasant walk through the fashion of the time. It also doesn't hurt that you've got one of the most beautiful woman of italian cinema to showcase some of these outstanding wardrobes.

Hello Helga Line. You are a stupid head.

Kriminal is one dirty bastard.

Helga Line of Mission Bloody Mary, Special Mission Lady Chaplin, Horror Rises From the Tomb, Loreley's Grasp, and countless numbers of Peplum films, plays a duel role in both Inge and Trude, two sisters who are in possession of Kriminal's next heist. She's outstanding in this film, showcasing why she is such an icon of this era of filmmaking. Able to convey both the victim and the assailant, Line milks all aspects of the spectrum as she plays both sides for all it's worth.

She's made for these kind of mirrored roles, ones that allow here to stretch herself and skew that moral compass. A wolf in sheep's clothing would be a very accurate description for a good majority of her most iconic roles, and this one is no exception. She passes with flying colors and adds a certain erotic tone to the film that would be sorely lacking without her captivating presence.

Where the hell am I?

Roger Big Daddy we got the blonde bandit. Over and out.

With all the colorful cast members and the genre borrowing of the film, the movie has a style all of its own. Taking tremendous efforts to broaden the visual look of a caper film and blend it with the world found within the Kriminal comic book. It's fantastic and surreal as it amplifies an already engaging element of the heist film, and melds it with a realm only found within the kaleidoscopic panels of a cartoon strip.

This is not only implied throughout the film, but accented in the closing moments of the film where we are treated to a stylistic illustration of Kriminal's final moments as a free man. The technique is kind of jarring visually, but aesthetically it fits in perfectly with the playful nature of the film. It also acts as a clever homage to its own source material while at the same time leaving on an outstanding and illustrious note.

Overall this film is just a whole hell of a lot of fun. There's a ton of memorable moments where Kriminal barely escapes capture, only to be later revealed that it was all according to his master plan. The brilliant locations and varying exotic cities that Kriminal visits add to the overall scope of this enjoyable piece and enhance the wonder and style of the Eurospy elements. Even though this is a caper film, it spans such a large portion of the globe and never feels small in scope, that you tend to forget its meager heist origins and take it as a new kind of beast. One that doesn't rely on the trappings of the genre, but in fact embraces all forms of cinematic splendor to tell its story.

In the end, Kriminal is just a film full of flavor and fun, dashed with a spicy undertaking of Eurospy goodness that doesn't take itself too seriously and rather relishes in the delights of the era. It's a feast for the eyes that never lingers, allowing us to get swept up in the outlandish story and unforgettable characters. I had one hell of a time with this film, just sitting back and watching Kriminal do his thing. He may be a bastard that only looks out for number one, but I'll always have a soft spot for this prickish rogue.

If you need a good pick me up and you love sixties italian cinema, then I highly recommend Kriminal for its extremely high entertainment value. Kriminal teaches us that being bad can be oh so good.

4 out of 5 stars               A Kriminal-tastic Heist Film!


It's time for another title sequence and I've chosen the wacky and wonderful Umberto Lenzi film, Kriminal. Based off of an italian comic created in 1964, the movie features a masked master thief by the name of Kriminal who overcomes insurmountable odds again and again, in his pursuit of diamonds and jewels.

In the film's title sequence, Lenzi and company have opted to pay homage to Kriminal's comic book roots by composing a handful of comic strip images to accompany the cast's credits. Intermixing cartoon stills with live action shots gives the introduction to this film an added spice of fun and also gives way for some very iconic imagery. The sequence perfectly represents the absolute blast that this film is to watch and it gives a good abbreviation of the kind of antics that Kriminal finds himself in.

So without any further explanation, here is the good stuff. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

i Spy Eurospy: OSS 117 Double Agent

OSS 117 Double Agent
Director: Andre Hunebelle
Year 1968

OSS 117 Double Agent is a film, like many Eurospy movies, of a thousand names. Also titled Murder For Sale, No Roses, and many other variations, Double Agent is a highly entertaining and worth while Eurospy that brings so many great aspects of the genre together that you really can't deny its overall entertainment value.

Double Agent tells the story of American Secret Service agent Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, aka OSS 117, as he attempts to infiltrate a terrorist organization run by a fashionably devoid, but highly brilliant mastermind, Il Maggiore. OSS 117 takes on the identity of a known criminal William Chandler, in hopes to gather information on the illusive organization, only to be trapped in a deadly game of trust by his new employers when he is sent to the Middle East to assassinate a peace negotiator. Can he survive in a high stakes game of treachery and treason? Can he thwart Maggiore's well laid out plans? And can he also do this while at the same time bedding a few beautiful women on the side? My instincts tell me yes.

Hold it right there buster!
EXTRA! EXTRA! Put some pants on!

OSS 117 Double Agent has one of the most impressive casts that I've come into contact with on my topsy turvy journey through Eurospy land. The caliber of spy actors among the ranks of this film are delightful and seeing each person come onto the screen, in very random moments, is a real treat for Eurospy fans. Some appear for only a few frames and others help carry the film along, but all help in creating a colorful film that screams to be watched, especially by spy enthusiasts.

One of the names that is not very known in the Eurospy world, just happens to be the man who plays the main character of OSS 117. John Gavin may be lacking the credibility to take on the role, but he ends up coming out of the ordeal as an accomplished veteran of the spy trade. I loved his portrayal of OSS 117 and felt that he brought just the right amount of charisma and playfulness to the role. His character appears to be living it up and loving every moment of it, even when he is fighting for his life. Gavin's juggling of both business and pleasure is also a hoot to watch play out. Much like his predecessor James Bond, Gavin's OSS 117 loves the ladies and doesn't mind rolling around in the hay on mission time. I felt that Gavin hit the perfect note of lightheartedness and significance, often recalling Sean Connery's performance as Bond, without delving into more camp material like Roger Moore. Unfortunately this is Gavin's only portrayal of OSS 117 and to my knowledge this is also his only foray in the Eurospy genre. It's sad, because I really got a kick out of his performance.

It seems that your nipple is in perfect working condition.
I don't know what I hate more. That tacky suit or that sweaty gorilla standing behind me.

Like all spy films of this era, the women are essential and let me tell you there are tons in this film. Not just in quantity though, but quality also. We have a fleeting appearance by one of Italy's most iconic actresses, Rosalba Neri. She plays a bit part early in the film where she comes to find that the man that she has just slept with is ruthless killer William Chandler, of course portrayed by OSS 117 on his undercover mission. She phones the police, ensuing a rather entertaining scene where 117 must fight off a group of police officers wearing only a newspaper and a few random objects. It's a great set piece and it's nice to see Rosalba even if it is just for a few precious moments.

Two of the meatier roles go to fellow spy vets, Luciana Paluzzi and Margaret Lee, with Lee coming out with the more substantial role. Both women are no strangers to the genre with Paluzzi taking on her iconic role in Thunderball alongside Sean Connery in 1965, to Lee's almost endless supply of Eurospy films. She seemed to be the go to girl at the time these films were most popular in Europe. Some of her credits include Agent 077 Fury in the Orient, New York Calling Super Dragon, Bang! Bang! You're Dead!, Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die, Dick Smart 2007, Spy Pit, and the list just goes on and on.

In Double Agent, Luciana Paluzzi plays the role of Maud, a physician who works for the terrorist organization that 117 is up against. She encounters agent OSS 117 and of course falls into bed with him. She has a few key roles and does splendidly with them for the short amount of time she's on screen, but boy does she eat up the scenery. She has the ability to draw your attention in and she does it in great abundance in this movie. Margaret Lee on the other hand plays the role of Aicha Melik, an innocent woman who ends up getting tangled in 117's life and mission only to fall head over heels for him. She actually has a lot of physical scenes in this film, lunging at armed assassins and getting tossed all over the place. I've always loved Margaret's performances in this genre and in Double Agent she doesn't disappoint. Like Paluzzi, she has a magnetic personality that was just made for film and in this one she shines.

Margaret Lee is unbeLEEvable! Yeah I said it.
What a nice Sunday drive.

Let's not forget the other side of the coin here, for where would we be without the villains? In Double Agent, we get a hefty portion of diabolical masterminds that all serve their individual purposes while at the same time, never really defining a clarity in the bad guy hierarchy chain. It really is a strange sort of set up, because the obvious main villain comes in the form of Il Maggoire, the leader of the assassin and terrorist outfit, but he really has little to no influence throughout the picture. He is more of a guide of sorts, pushing 117 on his way and never getting that confrontation moment that we are always treated to at the end of these spy opuses.

Instead we are given two underlings of the organization, that are given two separate roles in plaguing our main character. There is a Doctor named Saadi played by Robert Hossein and a brutish fellow named Karas played by George Eastman. Both men have a great deal to do in the film, helping to carry the extra weight that Maggoire's character neglects to share. Saadi has a particularly interesting role in poisoning OSS 117, keeping him on an invisible leash so to speak in order to get his daily dose of the antidote and to stay the poison in his bloodstream. Karas' character is a more physical beast, in which he relishes the brutality of inflicting pain. During the early portions of the film he plays a more passive role, but come the waning moments of the movie he becomes a raving lunatic lashing out at anything and anyone, most notably pour Margaret Lee. It seems to be a specialty of Eastman's because whenever I see him in a film, he is a raving mad lunatic. Take his roles in Antropophagus and Erotic Nights of the Living Dead, just to name a few. The guys a complete maniac! Luckily he was able to channel that same lunacy for his role as Karas, because he really does set the few ending moments of the film on fire with his energy and animalistic mystique.

That's the last time you open the window when the air conditioning is on.
Oh Margaret Lee.... you're just darling.

Though the overall plot of the film is a bit vague in its presentation, you really can't deny the energy and fun of the whole mission. John Gavin's playful nature as OSS 117, is infectious in my opinion and really helps to mold the film into a fun romp in espionage. Paired with the enjoyable and adorable acting chops of Margaret Lee and you've got yourself a winner.

The two have a great chemistry between each other and the relationship that they begin to build together is pleasant to see unfold. You really can't say the same thing for a majority of Eurospy films or even the originator of the genre, the James Bond films. The only thing that comes close in my memory would be George Lazenby and Diana Rigg's relationship in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Both films kind of lifted up the misogynist spy facade and took a broader scope at the main agent's relationships. While not as accomplished at said feat as On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Double Agent still has a twinkle of that unique magic in its workings. For being such an under-seen gem, I would say that's quite an accomplishment.

You better start talking lamp shade or the girl gets it!
A romantic helicopter ride for two.

OSS 117 Double Agent is a surprisingly enjoyable spy romp that has an elite cast of Eurospy veterans and genre pros to back it up. The overall story may be vague, but the impression that the film gives off is immensely addictive. I loved the carefree nature of John Gavin's 117 and the playful nature that he brought to the character. I felt it was perfectly balanced with the tone of the whole film and gelled well together with both the narrative and Margaret Lee's enrapturing presence. I highly recommend the film for anyone who loves the wild ride that Eurospy can provide and if you're new to the genre, give it a try. You might just end up becoming one of the converted. Double Agent is an extremely enjoyable addition to the OSS 117 spy series and one you should definitely check out.

5 out of 5 guns         A John Gavin & Margaret Lee Stunner!