Night of theTemplar David Carradine In His Last Performance

Night of the Templar

Night of the Templar is a 2012 low budget (an estimated $3 million) British film and the best thing about it is David Carradine in his last performance. Officially this was his last film before being found dead aged 72 in Bangkok, Thailand  apparently a victim of auto-erotic asphyxiation.

Written and directed by stuntman Paul Sampson, the film’s premise and its tag lines are, regrettably, the best thing about the film, although having said that, the cast list was damned impressive. In case you can’t be bothered to look up either the cast or the tag lines here they are, in reverse order.

Taglines:

“Here tells a tale of Passion, Loyalty, Deceit, Betrayel … and Revenge!”
“Hell is Eternal as is the Wrath of Vengeance!”
“The Eternal Wrath of Vengeance!”
Cast list courtesy of IMDb:
Paul Sampson
David Carradine
Udo Kier
Norman Reedus
Billy Drago
Max Perlich
Benoit the Butler
Nick Jameson
Lord Renault

If you want a plot run-down, don’t bother looking for it in Wikipedia. On IMDb is gets two lines that say, “A Medieval Knight resurrects to fulfill his vow and bestow a blood-thirst vengeance upon the kindred spirits of those who betrayed him long ago. In the course of one night, identities will be revealed, destinies met, and a poetic justice of the macabre maniacally served.

I’ve discovered in my short time of writing “reviews” for films, that is a film is really bad, you will not find a recap on Wikipedia. Really, I could get by with not doing a review at all. But, despite the execrable editing, the horrible acting, except from Kier and Carradine, and the ramshackle plot, I liked it.

I did have some problems, apart from the above listed. One had to do with Paul Sampson. Sure he fell into the bad acting category as well, but, my main problem with him was the way he spoke. His accent was all over the place,  (like mine, I’ve been told, but I can assure you that is my “speaking voice” and not my “acting voice”) but beside that and the bad acting, he didn’t sound right.

Now before I get all kinds of complaints, let me explain that I do not suffer from Homo-phobia nor do I think there is anything wrong with same gender relationships.

Okay?

But, every single time that Sampson opened his mouth as his “reincarnated” self, he sounded almost camp. As he was supposed to be a muscle bound actor who was the reincarnated soul of a Templar knight, he didn’t sound the part. It took me till halfway through the film to realise that it was his “Hollywood bridge” that was causing the problem.

A Hollywood bridge is a cosmetic dental device, very popular among the Toddlers and Tiara’s set, which clip over your real teeth and  give you a perfect smile. Sampson’s changed the way he spoke. It was as though he was wearing someone else’s teeth. In the flash-back scenes he is very obviously not wearing the bridge so when he was playing the Templar, he sounded just fine, his acting even appeared to improve!

English: David Carradine in Almaty, Kazakhstan...

But this last film of Carradine’s was doomed by so many problems. It is such a shame  that Night of the Templar wasted  two talented actors like the 72 year-old Carradine and  the 68 year-old Udo Kerr .

About Kerr…

Either the man has made some sort of Faustian pact or has the services of the world’s best plastic surgeon, because he almost looks no different. It is as though he has stopped ageing. It is a little creepy. I keep trawling the internet to find pictures like those featured of Keanu Reeves, Nick Cage, and John Travolta!

But Udo Kerr and his creepy non-aging thing aside, the film could have been great.

Towards the end of the film, the acting got better and the interaction by the surviving members of the cast was quite good. It gave a glimpse of what the film could and should have been.

It’s a shame that they didn’t figure that out before they started editing the thing.

One very odd moment in the film stuck out. And if you know what auto-erotic asphyxiation is it will actually give you a bit of a shiver.

One of the characters is getting some sexual oral ministrations from another character. While he is in the throes of passion he takes his belt and wraps it around his neck, tightening it.

Shivers, right?

The irony of that cinematic moment not only gave me the shivers, but I had to stop the film and have a think. As Night of the Templar was David Carradine in his last “official” performance, you have to ask the question, “Was he influenced by that scene?”

This is a 2 out of 5 star film, notable only for the presence of Kerr and Carradine. Worth a look if you want to see the Kung Fu actor and Kerr together.

Français : l'acteur Udo KIER au festival de Ca...

The Lords of Salem (2012): Zombie Christmas Gift?

I first found out about the genius that is Rob Zombie when I stumbled across the film House of a 1000 Corpses. It was a case of love at first sight. Like most people who suddenly discover a new ‘loved one’ I read everything I could about the man and his beginnings.

It then became my mission in life to watch every film he directed.

So far I have managed to do just that. It is with bated breath that I wait for his latest foray into the weird, wonderful world of horror, The Lords of Salem. I had forgotten all about this upcoming feature until someone tweeted the latest teaser trailer (try saying that fast three times, go ahead I dare ya) and I managed to catch it earlier today.

Of course the main reason it had been tweeted was Zombie’s use of classical music in the teaser. The tweeter reckoned that it worked very well. I agree. I did try to imagine it with a more typical Zombie-esque heavy metal rock background and I couldn’t do. Probably because I’m not Rob Zombie.

This short teaser had me scrambling to google the latest information on his upcoming (and soon to be released in a theatre near you…well around Christmas time is it’s slated time of release) feature and who was in it.

RIP Richard Lynch (February 12, 1940 – June 19, 2012)

The first thing I found out was that the (recently) late actor Richard Lynch‘s scenes had to be cut from the film due to his failing health and voice. The next thing I found out was that quite a few actors wound up on the metaphorical cutting room floor. Clint Howard who has made a career out of playing those ‘a few bricks short a load’ characters that hulk around in a lot of modern horror films, Udo Kier who seems to have been in just about every horror film I’ve ever seen (and that’s a lot, friends and neighbors) and lastly Camille Keaton, granddaughter of Buster (silent movie comic genius) and star of that iconic cult classic slasher film 1978’s I Spit on Your Grave.

*On a side note, I Spit on Your Grave was banned in the UK for years because it was labelled a ‘video nasty’ that would corrupt and spoil the youth of Great Britain. You can see how well that worked.*

I can only assume that all the actors who had worked with Richard Lynch could not repeat their work due to scheduling problems or possibly out of respect for the late actor. Whatever the reason it is a real shame that none of them (Richard specifically) wound up in the final film. Hopefully there will be footage of them on the DVD when it is released.

The plot, which I have borrowed entirely from Wikipedia’s entry is as follows:  Heidi DJs at the local radio station, and together with the two Hermans (Whitey and Munster) forms part of the ‘Big H Radio Team’. A mysterious wooden box containing a vinyl record arrives for Heidi, “a gift from the Lords”. She assumes it’s a rock band on a mission to spread their word. As Heidi and Whitey play the Lords’ record, it starts to play backwards, and Heidi experiences a flashback to a past trauma. Later, Whitey plays the Lords’ record, dubbing them the Lords of Salem, and to his surprise, the record plays normally and is a massive hit with listeners. The arrival of another wooden box from the Lords presents the Big H team with free tickets, posters and records to host a gig in Salem. Soon Heidi and her cohorts find that the gig is far from the rock spectacle they’re expecting; the original Lords of Salem are returning, and they’re out for blood.

Rob Zombie has, in my mind, never failed to deliver. His earlier films were raw, entertaining and slightly tongue-in-cheek. His move into re-imaging the Halloween franchise was superb considering the lack of artistic freedom that he had.

Now we have The Lords of Salem. Bucket loads of freedom, directed  and written by Zombie, plus a decent budget. These three facts alone combined with the brilliant cast list makes Salem destined for the number one position on the horror film parade.

The cast, just in case you are interested is as follows:

(cast list courtesy of Wikipedia)

Does it get any better than this? I look at the plot and the cast and I cannot wait to see this film. I can only hope it opens before Christmas instead of after. I mean, what better gift can you get than the latest Rob Zombie film?

Rob Zombie Horror meister.

Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977): A Cacophony of Sound and Colour

I have been banging on about this film for years. Well, not just the film, but Dario Argento as well. Unless you’re not a fan of horror films or at least horror films made way back in the 1970’s you will have heard of Argento and  his high standing in the horror film community.

Since Suspiria is being remade and due for release next year in 2013, I was very interested in seeing it again. I had not seen the film in years. In fact it had been so long that I had forgotten the main plot point and the ending.

I found a blu-ray copy on LOVEFILM and put it on my ‘wish-list’ to see. It came in and I bullied my daughter into watching it with me while we ate our tea. To say I was surprised would be an understatement.

We watched a very young Jessica Harper (as Suzy Bannion the young ballet student)  leave a German airport and attempt to get a taxi. As she goes to hail a taxi the heavens open and she is drenched to the skin in a matter of seconds. The approaching taxi’s all ignore her outstretched hand until she steps in front one to make it stop.

Once inside the cab she says the address she’s going to ‘something’ Strasse (I cannot for the life of me remember the actual name of the dammed street) the cab driver makes a big show of not understanding her. Finally he corrects her pronunciation after reading the address on a note that she shows him. He drives off and ignores her one attempt to talk to him.

In the first few minutes Argento has shown us the epitome of a ‘stranger in a strange land’ in this case it’s an American girl in Germany. Our sympathies lay with her before the film has truly begun.

Argento’s Suspiria is a mixed collage of colour that almost leaps from the screen. From the fuchsia shades of pink on the walls to the (this is the same shade  used to represent blood) deep blue of the ‘hidden’ rooms in the ballet school. The film seems to bleed these colours. So much so that your eyes start to hurt from the over stimulation.

The scene following Suzy’s aborted attempt to gain entrance to the school is the first murder in the film. It is in actual fact a double murder and again it is a frenzy of colour that leaps from the screen through the entire scene. But it is here that I had my first shock of the evening.

Fuchsia Pink ‘Bad’ Ballet School

The music.

I swear I don’t remember it being this loud when I saw it years before in the drive in. It might well be that the updating of the sound system is the culprit here. I am pretty sure that in the year 1977 when the film was originally released that the sound system used was not of Dolby Digital quality. I’m pretty sure it was the good old mono system that had been used since the first emergence of ‘talkies’ in film.

Unfortunately the music was too loud with the Dolby Digital sound system. Annoyingly I had to keep the  TV remote in one hand so I could keep lowering and then raising the volume. The dialogue was so low between the actors that it seemed they were mumbling. I can only guess that when they remixed the soundtrack they didn’t bother to remix the looping that had been done when the film was originally dubbed.

In essence  it ruined the film. The music that was so crucial to the feeling that Argento was trying to evoke actually just irritated and intruded on the film’s story. The very action of having to turn the dammed volume down every time the discordant and (let’s admit it) brilliant cacophony of sound came on was distracting. I found myself getting annoyed at a film that for years I’ve touted as being a top-notch horror film.

I can honestly say that apart from getting to see actress Joan Bennett in one of her later roles and a also very young Udo Kier (who was brilliant as the vampire elitist who get’s his teeth yanked out and it left in the sun to die) and as I mentioned before the young Jessica Harper.

I still think Dario is the master of Italian horror. He is in a sense the Takashi Miike of Italy. His films are full of the type of characters you would find if you visited the underbelly of any city. His ‘normal’ characters all treat these unfortunates poorly and it adds to the unease that you feel when you see them on the screen.

He is the ‘Godfather’ of gore. He used bucket loads of blood gleefully. I’m sure that I’ve read that Miike states that Argento was an influence on him and his film making style.

I can only hope that the remake due out next year loses none of the vibrancy of the original in the area of colour and that the sound issue is corrected. The music won high praise and awards at the time of its 1977 release. It will be a shame if the too loud music  ruins the new version of the film like it ruined the blu-ray version.

Either way, I know I’ll be queueing up to see it when it comes out.

Dario Argento answers questions at the Brussel...
Dario Argento answers questions at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival in 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)