Groovy & Wild Films from Around the World

Monday, June 14, 2010

Immoral Tales, The Final Chapter: Eva Stromberg

So, I’ll finish off this mini-series of Immoral Tales with one of Franco’s most recognizable actresses, Eva Stromberg (or Ewa), most notable for being Solidad Miranda’s lesbionic vampyros sidekick in the infamous Vampyros Lesbos (see one of the most famous VL stills on the left sidebar, featuring Stromberg’s blood-splattered face). Like Miranda, Stromberg was involved with a slew of Franco’s production from the late sixties to early seventies (and most of the along side of Miranda), including She Killed in Ecstasy (in which her death scene happens to be one of my all-time Franco faves), the Devil came from Akasava, and the Miranda-less X312 – Flight to Hell and Dr. Mabuse; before she slipped quietly out of the Franco spotlight, likely when Franco turned to doing the many (read: insane amount of) Erwin Dietrich/German productions in the mid-seventies. Actually, not long after leaving the Franco spotlight, she left the cinema spotlight altogether following a couple of sexploitation flicks for director Hubert Frank (Virgin Wives and Wedding Night Report, both circa 1972, and neither of these films have I seen or heard much about). With her striking features and on-screen presence, it’s hardly a wonder that she’s stuck in my mind all these years since discovering the wonder world of Franco films, it’s actually somewhat of a disappointment that she was relegated to the supporting roles in the light Franco’s muse’s presence. Not that Miranda didn’t deserve her spotlight – on the contrary – I only wish we’d had an opportunity to see Stromberg shine in her own leading role. At any rate, I’m glad we got what we got of this attractive German actress, and at least she made a small dent for herself in the anarchic cult cinema of the era.


Friday, June 04, 2010

Immoral Tales 7: More Spanish Insanity

Within the lengthy introductory pages of Immoral Tales, there is a striking image from a film that years ago I had never heard of. The image in the Immoral Tales book stayed with me for years; the film in question was Accion Mutante, by a director I'd also never heard of until just last year, when one of my neighbors was over at our place visiting and he asked if we'd ever heard of “Day of the Beast” by a Spanish filmmaker named Alex De La Iglesia. I told him I hadn't. Evidently most of this guy's films were at one time in print and available on DVD in North America, though that time appears to have long passed. Keeping this in mind, I kept an eagle's eye out for any of this filmmaker's movies in the UK last year, and lo and behold if I didn't find Accion Mutante and Dance with the Devil on the bargain racks at a London HMV. I picked them up immediately and when I got back home the first ine I watched was Day of the Beast. This was a strange and awesome film about a pair of homicidal devil-worshiping (and Federally wanted) kidnappers – Rosie Perez and Javier Bardem (from No Country for Old Men) – who take a couple of young white kids hostage and subject them to torture, rape and bloodletting while taking them on a cross-country roadtrip as they're being chased down by James Gandolfini (who did his best non-Sopranos work right here, in my opinion). Laden with sex and devilishly dangerous shenanigans, this was something I can honestly say I've never quite seen before... or since... until I threw in Accion Mutante just last week in the interest of continuing with this Immoral Tales blog series.

Like Dance with the Devil, Accion Mutante explores the themes of kidnapping, torture and The Stockholm Syndrome not only head-on, but wildly over-the-top. Set in the future (and in space and on another planet) Accion Mutante is about a group of militant freaks and cripples who kidnap the daughter of a wealthy company owner for ransom, staple her mouth shut, cuff her to a chair and take off in a spaceship with her. Aboard the ship, mutiny abounds when the crew finds out their fearless leader has lied to them about the amount of the ransom they're to receive when they arrive at the meeting place (on another planet). To combat the mutiny, the leader then begins murdering his lackeys in such a way to ring in flashbacks of Peter Jackson's gorifying comedy “Braindead”, and then pinning the murders on each of the other lackeys, creating an atmosphere of comedic paranoia. Of course, the only person on the ship who knows that the real traitor is el capitan himself is the kidnapped heiress, but her mouth's been stapled shut. Awesome. And if you think I've given anything away here, think again – this is only the first third of the nutzoid movie! Although the unfortunate lack of any graphic sex makes me wonder why it was even brought up in Immoral Tales – but the over-the-top mayhem more than makes up for anything that might be lacking – though lacking might not exactly be the right word for a film so entertainingly insane...

I'm seriously going to have to find a copy of Day of the Beast, and PDQ.