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Harvest of Despair (1985)
Stalin's Worst Crime
An interesting documentary about Ukraine which was dubbed "the breadbasket of Europe" but in the early 1930s was forced to endure a famine not because of crop failure or any other natural disaster but because it was targeted by the leadership of the Soviet Union including Josef Stalin and Lazar Kaganovich.
The Ukrainian farmers known as kulaks were regarded as class enemies and on the Soviet communist hit list. The borders of Ukraine were sealed by the Soviet secret police and grain confiscated by the state. As a result millions starved to death.
It is interesting to note that Winston Churchill knew about the Holodomor but still embraced Stalin as an ally in 1941. Churchill didn't care about the millions of deaths. At their first wartime meeting Stalin remarked to the British prime minister "Ten million kulaks have been liquidated". He was implying that they were killed by the enemy when he himself was responsible. Same thing with Franklin Roosevelt. He didn't care about the millions of deaths. In fact at the same time the Holodomor occurred the Roosevelt administration was giving diplomatic recognition to the USSR. Churchill and Roosevelt both claimed to be fighting against dictatorship yet fully supported Stalin who was a dictator. World War 2 - when cognitive dissonance reigned supreme.
The Day of the Locust (1975)
Real Life vs Reel Life
Paramount has released this film on dvd and bluray but with no extras at all not even a trailer. Could it be that a Hollywood studio does not want to publicise a movie which shows the decadence and and profit hungry mentality of a Hollywood studio because it cuts too close to the bone ? A case of art imitating life ?
Burgess Meredith plays an over the hill vaudeville performer. I imagine he could relate to the subject matter of this film as he started his acting career in the 1930s appearing in several films most notably Of Mice and Men.
Donald Sutherland appears as a character called Homer Simpson yet this movie was released over a decade before the tv series first appeared.
Another offbeat character is "Adore" a child who is an aspiring dancer/singer. Although meant to be a girl the part is played by a male actor (Jackie Haley). Maybe this was an allusion to Shirley Temple ? Believe it or not some people actually thought that Shirley Temple was a boy disguised as a girl.
Cult horror film director William Castle plays a film director during the battle of Waterloo sequence.
Excellent score and use of period music by John Barry.
The Meateater (1979)
Needs A Dvd Release
This is a variation on The Phantom of the Opera which has a shoe salesman who is tired of his profession buying and renovating a disused cinema. The problem is that a murderous fiend is lurking on the premises. The actor who plays the cinema manager looks like a z grade version of comedian Paul Lynde. He also has a distinctive way of pronouncing theatre. Another memorable character is a slob of a detective who decides to "investigate" mysterious deaths - that is when he is not stuffing his face with food.
This low budget junk has its moments. I saw the name of Steve Neill in the closing credits. He later helped with the special makeup on Mutant (aka Forbidden World).
Beyond Westworld (1980)
The "Guess Who is a Robot?" Show
A lot of people don't know this show exists because it came and went so quickly. This obscure TV program had the premise of at least one character being a robot in disguise who was up to no good. For this reason I call it the "Guess Who is a Robot?" show. For early 80's TV it is watchable but compared to the movies WESTWORLD and FUTUREWORLD it is pretty lame. The ratings must have really been in the toilet for the network to cancel the show after only 5 episodes! It was interesting to see the cast list of guest stars which include Robert Alda, Rene Auberjonois, Ronee Blakely, Christopher Connelly, Monte Markham, Michael Pataki and George Takei amongst others.
Cosy Cool (1977)
An ultra cheap bikie/mateship movie. If STONE is a low budget bikie movie then COSY COOL is a microscopically budgeted bikie movie. There is a scene where Cosy and Gracious are told to leave a property by a farmer with a dog - the actor playing the farmer in his mannerisms looked and acted a bit like former Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen. There is another scene where devil maniacs sacrifice a woman and drink her blood. This comes across as a completely different film and looks like it has been spliced into COSY COOL. I have this on a 1998 DVD release and the blurb at the end of the movie states that the Milperra Massacre occurred in 1982. Which drongo wrote that? That event actually occurred on Fathers Day 1984. A z grade production but that's the way I like them. I would rather watch this than a big budget Hollywood production.
Sons of Steel (1988)
Search for the Shine
A sci-fi camp comedy musical set in Sydney of the future. The cast is well suited to comedy-Dasha Blahova (who has since returned to Czechia) & Ralph Cotterill and Jeff Duff & Machs Colombani make memorable duos. Trivia:Blahova and Cotterill both appeared in The Howling III.
It was interesting to read the IMDb comments from director Gary L.Keady about the underground locations used. The director has stated that in some of the locations he saw graffiti from the 19th century! I wonder if people can still go there? The soundtrack was great, it was very uplifting music in particular "Fighting for You". An enjoyable movie and my favourite Aussie film of the 80's.
Street Trash (1987)
Scummers on Skid Row
Street trash. Derelicts. Vagrants. The Homeless. Hobos. Around here they are known as "scummers". If you are a scummer or if you have had dealings with scummers then you will be able to relate to this movie. I liked the performances and the dialogue was priceless. The special makeup effects were excellent. A cult classic that brings new meaning to the words "rotgut liquor".
Blood Tracks (1985)
Attack of the Hermits
This is the first Swedish horror movie I have seen and if I see any more I hope they are better than this. A rock group who are filming a video clip are destroyed by a group of animalistic hermits who have heretofore lived undisturbed in an abandoned factory. A "Structure Condemned Do Not Enter" sign is on the outside of the building so naturally they ignore it and barge in. This belongs in the subgenre of horror films that centre around rock groups - other titles include Song of the Succubus, Terror on Tour, Rocktober Blood, Trick or Treat, Monster Dog, Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare and Black Roses. The songs are by a group I've never heard of called Easy Action.
This looks like a made for TV movie or one that was for the direct to video market. Four horror/thriller stories each with a twist in the end. The stories are titled "See No Evil", "The Intruder", "Have a Nice Day" and "The Good Samaritan". There is no linking device and nothing supernatural so it is not like The Twilight Zone more like Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
A Day of Judgment (1981)
Repent Ye Sinners!
A series of vignettes relates how a group of townspeople during the 1920's have strayed from God. The Grim Reaper turns up and cuts them down to size. Slow at times and the ending is a bit preachy but I enjoyed it. I liked the scene where the banker got his comeuppance after being locked in a cold cellar. The cast is made up of regulars from the EO Corp studio.
Kiss of the Tarantula (1976)
Revenge of the Spider Woman
I would say that this was inspired by the success of Willard which came out the previous year but the action is provided by spiders instead of rats. How about the scenes at the drive-in movie theatre? A volkswagen contains four victims who are screaming at the top of their lungs and no one comes to investigate. Were they and the spider woman the only ones at the drive-in? The spider woman spends time fending off the lecherous advances of her uncle, played by Eric Mason, whose acting style reminded me of William Shatner.
This is a z grade zombie flick. Confederate soldiers rise from their graves, attack people and eat them to the sound of munch, chew and gulp on the soundtrack. How the soldiers' uniforms are still intact after being in the ground for over a hundred years is beyond me.
The Kirlian Witness (1979)
The deadeningly slow pace is what ruins this picture. A woman whose sister was murdered uses kirlian photography to try and solve the crime. An interesting idea but a livelier script was needed. Lawrence Tierney has a brief cameo.
House of Mortal Sin (1976)
The charming story of a priest.....who murders people! Meet Father Xavier Meldrum from the Church of the Sacred Heart. He uses religious means to bump off his enemies such as a poisoned wafer, incense burner and rosary beads. Splendid performance by Anthony Sharp (remember him as the government minister in A Clockwork Orange?) as the obsessed vicar and a good turn by Pete Walker regular Sheila Keith as a one eyed housekeeper. A well done musical score by Stanley Myers is also featured. Remember this movie the next time you go to confession!
The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982)
An uninteresting addition to the stalk 'n slash cycle which dominated the horror genre in the 1980's. This was filmed as Pranks but released as The Dorm That Dripped Blood which is an obvious steal from the 1970 horror anthology The House That Dripped Blood. Daphne Zuniga is the only recognisable face in the cast and this was her first horror movie (she has also appeared in The Initiation and The Fly II).
Murders linked to zodiac
A split personality type kills because of being born under a certain sign of the zodiac. Period piece set in the 19th century features early 70's gore including a decapitation and some real life blood and guts - frogs are dissected in a biology class. Made with z grade production values and similar to an Andy Milligan film. Sebastian Brook who was in the late 60's comedy THE GAY DECEIVERS goes slumming here and appears as the director of a nursing school with the name of Dorian Cabala. A mixture of murder mystery and softcore sex scenes with most of the female roles played by performers in X rated movies. I first saw this on VHS in 1985 and most recently on a DVD-R. As far as I can tell it has not had a proper DVD release.