Head of the Family (1996)
Rating: 4.8/10 (425 votes)
Runtime: 82 Mins
Director: Charles Band
Blake Bailey ... Lance
Jacqueline Lovell ... Lorretta
Bob Schott ... Otis
James Jones ... Wheeler
Alexandria Quinn ... Ernestina (as Dianne Colazzo)
Gordon Jennison Noice ... Howard (as Gordon Jennison)
J.W. Perra ... Myron
Vicki Skinner ... Susie (as Vickie Lynn)
Robert J. Ferrelli ... Weasel
Bruce Adel ... Ticket Agent
Gary Anello ... Arthur Raskow
Dyer McHenry ... Truck Driver / Hunk A Luv
Rob Roeser ... Justice
Steve Novak ... Cauchon
Van Epperson ... Chorus
Description: Lance and Loretta are having a torrid affair behind her husband Howard's back. The problem is that Howard is brutal thug who is bound to catch the cheating pair sooner or later. To solve this problem, the lovers hatch a plan involving the Stackpoole family: a collection of misshapen freaks who waylay unsuspecting travellers and dissect them in gruesome experiments. Unfortunately, things don't go quite according to plan.
Chi sei? (1974) aka Beyond the Door
Rating: 3.1/10 (415 votes)
Runtime: 109 Mins
Director: Ovidio G. Assonitis
Juliet Mills ... Jessica Barrett
Gabriele Lavia ... Robert Barrett
Richard Johnson ... Dimitri
Nino Segurini ... Dr. George Staton
Elizabeth Turner ... Barbara Staton (as Elisabeth Turner)
Barbara Fiorini ... Gail Barrett
Carla Mancini ... Mrs. Francis
David Colin Jr. ... Ken Barrett
Vittorio Fanfoni ... Mr. Francis
Description: Juliet Mills plays a young pregnant woman in San Francisco who is going to have the devil's baby during her strange possession. Richard Johnson shows up to help her... but what does he really want?
I won't waste time summarizing the plot for this film since the other users have done quite a good job themselves. Basically, you've got just one more in a stream of films that cashed in on the success of William Friedkin's 1973 classic "The Exorcist". I can only recommend "Beyond the Door" to those who enjoy these types of movies. Director Ovidio G. seems to be the Italian version of William Girdler, who directed his own "exorcist" knock-off that same year with "Abby", a blaxsploitation version that was actually taken out of theaters after two weeks due to a lawsuit filed by Warner Brothers for plagiarism. If I'm correct, "Beyond the Door" was also attacked by Warner Brothers but I'm not sure what the outcome of that one was. It did manage to stay in the theaters though and actually did good at the box office. "Beyond the Door" copies "The Exorcist" in almost every way and you will either hate it or love it. This time, instead of a young girl, we have Juliet Mills (Nanny and the Professor, Passions) who levitates, vomits, spins her head around, and curses like a sailor, saying things like "lick the whore's vomit" in a demonic voice. Sound pretty familiar? "Beyond the Door" was marketed during it's theatrical release as being filmed in Possess-O-Sound, which was basically the same thing used for the Sensurround effect in the film "Earthquake"; huge speakers with the bass turned way up. To sum things up, this is not a well-made movie at all. I was especially turned off by the devil himself doing a little narration at the beginning of the film. You will, however, have a good time watching it and be entertained if you like this kind of thing. There's a few lines of dialogue from the girl playing the daughter that are a hoot and have to be heard to be believed. I'm pretty sure that whoever wrote this script was smoking some of the wacky tobbacy.
This film is creepy for creepy's sake, created only to cash in on the popularity of its more famous sources-the Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby- and, unlike its sources, has no salient message about good vs. evil or the mystery of faith to offer its viewers. That being said, this is strange, Bava-informed Ovidio Assonitis film making at its best!! Ed Montoro and Assonitis had no greater ambition than to give the movie audiences what they wanted, and, in the 1970's, they wanted to be creeped out by demonically possessed women.
You want soup vomiting?, you got soup vomiting; you want to see TV's wholesome Phoebe Figalilly cuss and rage?-you got that, too!! You also have daring, if not failed, lighting experiments, smothering and fear-inducing camera work, and some amazing usage of color. That first head spinning scene is bathed in a harmless, toy-like pink that juxtaposes Jessica's evil leer at Gail so effectively, and with such great irony. That scene looks like a Tim Burton creation.
Of course, what critique of "Chi Sei?" would be complete without mentioning the beautiful shower of glass shards and slow-motion dying fish when Jessica tosses the ashtray at Robert's coveted fish tank, or the "What begins with G/toys coming to life" scene, or the flying eyeball that Sam Raimi borrowed and perfected as a variation of a Three Stooges gag in Evil Dead 2
My favorite frame comes right before Jessica levitates out of bed. There is this close-up of her eye as it opens that is so broadly-drawn and colorful-a truly stunning image. That one frame shows me that Assonitis, if he had any sense at all, could have made some decent films. Fortunately, he was clueless, and chose to make movies like Chi Sei
Assonitis really exploits Juliet Mills' strange eyes much in the same way Mario Bava did those of Barbara Steele in Black Sunday (Do a comparison of the American one sheets for this film and Black Sunday and see what I mean). There is no uglier possessed woman in drive in moviedom than Jessica Barrett, just as there is not a more beautiful actress when out of her possession makeup than Juliet Mills.I like the way that Assonitis mixes the traditional Mercedes McCambridge voice-over acting with Mills' actual, witchy-sounding voice (when she does that creepy sing-song "he wants to steal my baby" during the infamous "brain scan" scene, weird vibes and cold chills abound).
The film stock for "Chi Sei?" stinks, and the so-called "Possessound" effect amounts to little more than amplifying the sound of someone snoring and laughing devilishly, but what other movie captures the spirit of 1970's rip-off drive in movie fare like this one? And-dare I say it?-the soundtrack is far stranger, campier, and loungier than the well-loved "Vampiros Lesbos" soundtrack. All of that weird "Who are you? (the film's actual translated title)" business, and those strange giggles mixed in with the "Eurotrash" lounge music and the lysergic percussion effects creep out even those scenes that occur in broad daylight (why else would you be so freaked out over watching a woman eating a rotten banana peel if the music underneath it was not so disturbing?)
It's been said before: "Chi Sei?" is "so bad-it's good." It's damn good. What is your problem, Anchor Bay? This film had so much in the way of trailers and exploitative promotional ephemera when it was released that it begs for a fully-loaded nostalgic DVD treatment. Add to the mix that it had so many different titles in so many countries that you could pack a still gallery without blinking an eye.
Once in a while, the crew on the soap opera "Passions" (Juliet Mills' latest gig)will put Juliet Mills in a straight jacket, or will turn her into a goldfish, which persuades to me that the people who make this soap opera were less impressed with Juliet Mills' performances in "Avanti" or "The Other Sister," than they were with her turn as Jessica Barrett in "Chi Sei?," when they cast her as Tabitha the Witch.
"Chi Sei?" the terrible movie that everyone is afraid to say that they like. There is no fear in admitting that "Chi Sei?" is good for B-movie laughs and chills, so-confess.
Sam's Lake (2005)
Rating: 4.5/10 (262 votes)
Runtime: 83 Mins
Country: USA | Canada
Director: Andrew C. Erin
Fay Masterson ... Sam
Sandrine Holt ... Kate
William Gregory Lee ... Jesse
Stephen Bishop ... Franklin
Salvatore Antonio ... Dominik
Megan Fahlenbock ... Melanie
Peter Beks ... Rod
Description: Inspired by a murder-mystery-turned-legend surrounding a massacre near "Sam's Lake," the film follows Sam, a young woman who, every summer, returns home to the secluded lakeside cottage she grew up in, to reconnect with her traditions and memories of the past deep within an isolated forest. This year's guests are a group of hip, young urbanites, who join Sam on her annual trip. But when Sam and her childhood friend and local to the area, Jesse, take the group on an adventure to revisit the site of the murder they all come face to face with the terrifying legend of "Sam's Lake."
Nero veneziano (1978) aka Damned in Venice
Rating: 5.6/10 (94 votes)
Runtime: 95 Mins
Language: Italian (English subs included)
Director: Ugo Liberatore
Renato Cestiè ... Mark
Rena Niehaus ... Christine
Yorgo Voyagis ... Dan
Fabio Gamma ... George
José Quaglio ... Father Cristoforo
Description: A blind boy receives a vision that warn him of the birth of the anti-christ.