Friday, 25 February 2011

Xmas Fear From Finland ...

Rare Exports
(2010 Finland / Norway / France / Sweden)

‘‘The real Santa was a bit different, the Coca Cola Santa is a fraud’’

Jingle bells Santa smells, his body rotting away, Rudolph’s left and the elves bereft, since Santa got buried, along with his sleigh … but now he’s been dug up, and this Christmas ‘Yule’ all pay !.

A festive frivolity of fearsome Christmas chills from Finland as the legend of yore in the shape of the original Santa Claus returns. Old books tell of the terrible tales of Santa as a child beating ogre. A young boy named Pietan is sure that on the eve of Christmas day this terrible Santa is coming to town !.

A business man has a professional drill team excavating the Korvatunturi mountain in Finland. They drill down thirteen hundred feet and hit a sixty five foot thick embodiment of sawdust !. It is here that legend has it that the Saami people of Lapland centuries before created the biggest burial mound in the world. Imprisoned within the mountain burial mound it is said is this evil and original Santa Claus !.

Christmas eve, and in the valley afoot the mountain the local farmers prepare their annual round up of the indigenous reindeer. A major part of their continued resource to survive with the lifestyle they are dependant upon in the region. Disaster awaits them this day, however, as the valley beneath the mountain is strewn with the dead carcass’s of the reindeer !.

With their livelihood’s severely jeopardised by the discovery several of the locals traverse up the mountain to seek answers from the team of foreigners. What they discover is a derelict site, no sign of life at all, and one massive hole burrowing down deep within the mountain. Something was discovered, disturbed and released from its entombment !.

That very night Pietan’s father’s wolf pit trap claims an inquisitive catch. Early in the morning the impaled body of a still twitching spindly old bearded man is retrieved. With the help of a neighbour the man is watched over in the slaughter house barn of the farmer. Pietan believes that his father has captured Santa. The boy has also discovered that all of the towns children have mysteriously gone missing. Upon seeing Pietan the old man reacts curiously and visibly appears to be recuperating from his life threatening injuries. Whoever, or whatever this old man is becomes cause for great concern.

Pietan’s father, along with two friends manage to contact the business man and set up a trade for ‘Santa’ in payment for their combined losses with the slaughter of their reindeer herd. The exchange is set up, but it is within the hour before Christmas day itself, and what the anxious men have in their possession turns out to be not quite what they had expected after all, and the worst was about to befall them all !.

Time to measure whether they have been naughty or nice and come to fully realise just how many little helpers Santa actually has, particularly in his hour of need !.

All aboard then for a winters tale of terror. A fine slice of darkly delicious Finnish humour that is sure to ‘sleigh’ you. Big fun from an independent venture that stands more than a snowballs chance in hell at sitting atop the tree of film goodness. A wickedly wry take on the twisted tale of ye old Santa, torn straight from the stuff of childhood nightmares. The cinematography of the beautiful white snow laden environment is spectacular, and the stark landscape and insular people make the unleashing of a fearful apparition all the more believable. Very well rendered effects and a straight laced cast of real people more than compliment this accomplished feature. Santa’s entourage of elves never looked so evil.

Rounded up, and rounded off, come completion, the movie’s vein of deliciously dark humour spills on over into an aptly wry epilogue. A perfectly applicable manner for such Rare Exports to, ‘Finnish’.

Movie Rating: 7/10

Review by Paul Cooke

Rare Exports (2010)

Director Jalmari Helander
With Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, Tommi Korpela,
Rauno Juvonen, Per Christian Ellefsen,
Ilmari Järvenpää & Peeter Jakobi

Monday, 14 February 2011

Japanese VHS Delights Up On Ebay

February (III) 2011

Welcome one and all to my third entry for February of all things bright and beautiful available on Japanese Original VHS Tapes, now listed up on over at Ebay.

Another Great selection of Japanese VHS Goodies, including several nicely original formatted Wide Screen presentations. British Action star Lewis Collins heads up another great Euro cast of familiar faces, all under the brilliance of Italian Director Antonio Margheriti, in the Jungle Action power house Commando Leopard. Available here in its Full 2:35:1 frame !.

Amongst the cache up for auction is the highly sought after Action / Sci-Fi juggernaut starring Franco Nero, Top Line, available in wonderful Wide Screen. Also offered in Wide Screen here is the very rare Code Name Flash. Again available here in a fantastic Wide Screen presentation. Speaking of Rare, up for Auction also is Above The War aka Search And Destroy. An Action packed mercenary jungle warfare assault movie so rare that the IMDB have no mention of it !.

Do check out the Euro Cult Rambo hybrid that is Thunder 2, starring Mark Gregory and Directed by Fabrizio De Angelis. A fantastic Wide Screen presentation here also, and it looks terrific.

Dangerous Seductress offers up not just a great Wide Screen presentation but the opportunity to acquire this hard to come by tape Fully Uncut, all the gore and naked flesh as intended. The DVD release is censored !. This Japanese Original VHS is completely UNCUT and Uncensored as should be.

Covert Action, Reviewed here at Ballistic Blood Bullets, is a great example of a late entry in the Euro Crime genre and with a cast that includes Maurizio Merli, Corinne Clery, Arthur Kennedy & Ivan Rassimov you really cannot go wrong in claiming this title for your personal collection.

Lots of other Great Euro Action titles available and very much worth your consideration, all Exploding over at Ebay right now.

Thanks for looking, and once again the very best of luck to any and all who may place a bid.







Saturday, 12 February 2011

Fugitive In From The Cold ...

Covert Action
aka Sono stato un agente C.I.A.
(1978 / Italy / Greece)

‘‘Stick to fiction, you’ll live longer’’

An expose tape implicating the C.I.A in world military take over’s is in the possession of one of the C.I.A’s very own, and the organisation want it, and him eradicated !.

Former C.I.A operative Lester Horton (David Janssen) is in Athens, Greece holidaying. His presence, and photography sessions, in and around the city are a cause for concern from the stationed C.I.A Chief Maxwell (Arthur Kennedy). Maxwell and Horton have a history, and the former would rather that the retired C.I.A agent were literally, no longer around !.

Government agent man John Benson has been murdered, but announced as having gone missing. He is the man responsible for the tape, implicating the C.I.A from high. Lester Horton is now a journalist and novelist, penning many a chapter and verse causing ripples. He is in fact in Greece to investigate the disappearance of Benson and uncover more about the tape. Maxwell suspects the same, and has his men tail him.

One lead has Horton cautiously approaching a man in a cinema, during the screening of a movie, but before he can ascertain any solid information the man is shot in the back from someone sitting a few rows behind. Horton’s brief interaction with the man leads him to a former friend during his active time in the C.I.A, Joe Florio (Maurizio Merli). Their friendship was tested when Florio’s wife Anne (Corinne Clery), and Horton became attracted to each other in the past.

Joe Florio is an operative on the edge of his usefulness with the C.I.A. He has been informed that he will be transferred back to America, but in reality the wheels are in motion for him to have a planned accident !. He has become an embarrassment to the agency, due to his dependency on heroin. Chief Maxwell has ordered that he be eliminated, as he is not good for the company reputation !.

Lester Horton wants to help his former friend, but both he and Florio together stir up too much heat for Maxwell, and both are overtly targeted. A fantastic car chase in Rhodes has Florio believing more in Horton, and news of the tape is shared with his former friend. Their mutual respect for each other ends in tragedy as the two are cornered in one of the cities historical outdoor amphitheatres. Chief Maxwell’s right hand problem solver known as The Silent, due to his inability to talk, administers a lethal overdose of heroin to Florio, as Horton is restrained and forced to watch. Ivan Rassimov plays the role of, The Silent with an icy calmness that is effectively chilling. His performance as the bad guy extension of Chief Maxwell is very well realised, and the inevitable cumulative run in with Lester Horton is an emotive one.

Chief Maxwell sanctions Horton to the insane asylum in his desire to get him to divulge information pertaining to the tape. Horton refuses to cooperate and is subjected to all of the indignities of the environment he has been placed in custody to, along with some horrendous applications by the doctors believing him to be of unstable mind. When Horton tries to escape from the institution he is subjected to electro shock treatment, which is actually difficult to watch !.

Anne Florio uses her charm and respected position to call in a favour from the local police inspector, played quite perfectly by Philippe Leroy. He is an honourable and incorruptible officer of the law and facilitates the release of Horton from the institution. He reunites with Anne, and together they hold up in her secluded second home. It affords Horton some time to recuperate, but both know that it is only a matter of time before Maxwell uncovers them.

For a late entry in the Euro crime stakes Covert Action is a very accomplished piece of work from Director Romolo Guerrieri. A stellar cast, all delivering strong performances, adds to the enjoy ability of the film. Maurizio Merli gets to portray a more vulnerable side to his acting skills, and David Janssen is perfectly cast as a man with a past he is fighting to disassociate himself from. Arthur Kennedy delivers a demonstrative characterisation of self assured unpleasantness, and Ivan Rassimov emits an aura of stoic menace throughout.

A well paced slice of Seventies Euro espionage and crime. One that does not play to the Hollywood stereotype of good versus evil, but displays the shades of grey in between. Not everyone gets all that is coming to them, delivering instead a rather sombre conclusion, but at the same time a suitably realistic one.

Movie Rating: 7/10

Review by Paul Cooke / Source Japanese NTSC VHS

Covert Action (1978)

Director Romolo Guerrieri
With David Janssen, Corrine Clery, Maurizio Merli,
Arthur Kennedy, Philippe Leroy & Ivan Rassimov

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Eighties Action On Ebay ...

February (II) 2011 

More Euro goodness on both the Greek and UK PAL VHS Format, eagerly seeking nice new homes to go to, popped up over on Ebay for your kind considerations.

Once again All of the movie insert covers shown here and on Ebay are scans of the actual video film inserts themselves. What you see is most definitely what you will get.

One of the Rarities listed is the Peter O'Brian Indonesian starer Rimba Panas aka Jungle Heat. Cannibals, gore, scantily clad jungle babe and all the usual zany Indonesian outrageousness you could wish for. From Director Ratno Timoer (Blind Warrior / The Devils Sword).

Wide screen goodness comes in the form of cool Post Nuke Actioner The Final Executioner, and this really is a very nicely formated proper wide screen cinema presentation, and a very good quality print once again for a Greek tape, and Tiger Joe in a marginal wide screen issue with David Warbeck in top form under the always reliable Direction of Antonio Margheriti.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Total Nonsense Angle ...

River Of Darkness
(2010 / USA)

‘‘How are you going to fight demons from hell  
when you don’t have God on your side !?’’

Stars from the world of wrestling entertainment step into the squared circle of film, in a match made in ‘B’ movie bad-ville. When a wronged family return from the dead, to take revenge upon their deceitful killers, the road to horror mania begins !.

In the small township of Cedar Springs Sheriff Will Logan (Kurt Angle) has a sudden spate of savage killings to investigate. First a young woman finishing her days shift at the diner is attacked, gutted, and strung up in a make shift style of crucifixion. A crude wooden board sign is left hung around her neck, written upon it is the word Hix. Other killings soon follow in equally brutal and bloody fashion. It seems that a trio of Cajun killers are on a murder spree. Big fish gutting hooks and axes are the tools of their trade.

Two night fishermen are butchered by the ghostly ghoul like killers, leaving them similarly marked with the branding of, Hix. Folk in Cedar Springs become very edgy, and when a local woman, dubbed Crazy Mary, breaks into the communal church, spouting off apocalyptic phrases and foretelling that ‘they’ have come back !, things start to get even darker.

Sheriff Logan seems to be not the most popular guy in his position of authority, but sets about his business with professionalism. He investigates the only lead he has, what in fact turns out to be a name, Hix. The locals don’t want to talk, but one older generation town stalwart imparts information that the id pertains to a man named Harvey Hix. It turns out that thirty years ago he, and a band of town folk vigilantes set upon, and killed three men unwelcome in the community. The Jacobs boys and their father kept themselves to themselves but were deemed lowlife vagrants and no good riff raff, unwelcome in Cedar Springs. When they failed to move on a local girl accuses one of the Jacobs boys of raping her. The falsehood leads Harvey Hix and his vigilantes to take justice into their own hands. All three men are unjustly attacked and murdered !.

Thirty years on and it seems that the Jacobs boys and papa Jacobs have returned from their watery grave, and are taking their own form of justice against those who turned upon them. Fish hooks in hand and gutting skills put to expert use, backed up by an axe apiece to grind out their gratuitous revenge.
It’s a pretty standard affair with all the applicable traits and attributes of low budget ‘B’ movie film making. The attention to detail and plot from the writing team often leaves its audience more dumbfounded than the on screen silliness. Sheriff Logan’s lack of knowledge with both locals and town history is ridiculous. Not knowing anything at all about an infamous town lynching and murder that occurred in the last thirty years is too odd for words. It is never quite clear as to whether he was raised in the town, or come in to be appointed sheriff in recent times !?.

The movie itself is pretty well filmed, and particularly the night scenes, replete with back lit creepy scenarios and suitably applied wafts of mist, make for good viewing. The best moments do actually come when the Jacobs family appear out of the mist and set about their tirade of terror. Fans of wrestling will no doubt delight in seeing the icons Psycho Sid Vicious and Kevin Nash apply their might to taking out the trash on the big screen. There really is something quite enjoyably quirky visible in their eyes when they swing that axe. Go Big Daddy ‘Kill’ !.

The small town fishing community, murders in the mist scenario certainly is reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980), but in reality the difference in class is vast. Carpenter’s movie is an all time classic and readily re-watchable, whereas River Of Darkness, once viewed is most likely to be ‘mist’ on repeat showings.

Pretty much all of the acting is wooden and visibly stilted, with the actors concentrating more on hitting their marks than relaxing into character. Kurt Angle does his best, but comes across in the Kurt Angle wrestling character school of acting. Not altogether a bad thing as a large portion of the likely audience for this will be from his fan base, and he’s a pretty decent all round good guy anyway so why the heck not.

This one is really for fans of the wrestling stars on show, and die hard ‘B’ movie horror fanatics easily forgiving of such well intentioned trite. Former Olympic champion Kurt Angle might have greater success in attaining future gold chasing the end of a rainbow than pursuing a serious acting career, but if he can take himself less seriously in future roles it could be good times for all. Oh it’s true, it’s damn true !.

Movie Rating: 3/10

Review by Paul Cooke / Source UK PAL Region 2 DVD

River Of Darkness (2010)
Director Bruce Koehler
With Kurt Angle, Bill Hinzman, Kevin Nash,
Psycho Sid Vicious, Bill Laing & Ray ‘Glacier’ Llloyd

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Prepare, Greek Bearing Euro Gifts ...

February 2011

By Athena's great wisdom and Apollo's shinning light the eternal ethos of Ebay plays host to some Euro Action goodness from the Italian Masters of Explosive entertainment, snappy and Raty ! Horror, killer crocs and a double dose of street crime. All in all a Wild Team of Action that covers a great cross section of all that is highly enjoyable about the Euro / Italian genres from the last few decades.

Please do stop by Ebay and check out my latest batch of Original VHS Tapes. All of these particular Greek Tapes are of the best quality, and considering the all too familiar low grade and inconsistent quality regularly associated with the Greek tapes, these are amongst the best releases and all come in sturdy large boxes with some Cool insert art work.

A great cross section of Euro goodness.

Of the Eight Video Tapes up for grabs, six are Greek Original VHS Tapes All in English language, with Greek Subtitles. The two remaining tapes The Marseilles Connection and Sudden Justice are both UK PAL VHS Original Tapes, subtitle free and in English language.

Scans of the VHS insert covers as shown below are once again of the actual VHS that is on offer.

To all who take the time to check the Auctions out, Thank You. And to all who place a bid, and go on to become the winning bidder ... Thank You Very Much :) .