It’s always good to welcome an old favourite, so let’s hear it once again for the Master, the maestro (and occasional minstrel) of Italian exploitation, Ruggero Deodato.
We’ve covered other films of Deodato’s wide-ranging oeuvre here before such as the cannibal flick Last Cannibal World, the polizei Live like A Cop, Die Like a Man home invasion chiller House on the Edge of the Park, and the rollicking adventure of Raiders of Atlantis. Tonight’s crop also cover a differing range of genres, first up being the giallo-esque (and quite explicit) The Washing Machine from the early 90s.
Genre-favourite Michael Berryman makes an appearance in the second film of the evening, Deodato’s post Cannibal Holocaust ‘decent-budget’ jungle flick Cut and Run (which had one of the most memorable VHS covers of the late 80s) and tonight’s triple treats are rounded off with a Japanese-cut of his slasher movie, Camping del Terrore from 1987.
So what are we waiting for - let’s go, Deodato…
Tonight’s Zombie Club was brought to you by Rawshark, a household kitchen appliance, Jungle Tours R Us and a vengeful Indian Shaman.
The Washing Machine (1993)
Plot Vida and her two sisters weave a wicked web of seduction and murder for police detective Alex, who is investigating the murder of a man believed to have been found dismembered in a washing machine.
Rawshark Made at the end of his peak (it was Deodato’s last feature film before he moved back more fully into TV), The Washing Machine is hardly the best title for a fairly explicit, erotic-thriller-giallo movie, but it has to be said, it certainly does the job on a good spin cycle and proves Deodato was far from washed up well into the 1990s.
The film doesn’t hang around, thrusting us straight into a sex scene between Vida and her older boyfriend Yuri Petkov at the fridge (later dubbed the ”Sex Fridge” by Zomblee). At the same time, the two of them are being watched by a girl on the stairs in her nightie playing with her instrument (”a quite bizarre use of the triangle there to accentuate the scene don’t you think?” - Jim). Yuri doesn’t like being spied on though and leaves when Vida is flanked by her two sisters, Maria and Ludmilla. Later that night Ludmilla sees blood coming from the washing machine and a dead body inside.
The police are called and this sets in motion a classic case of not only a ”whodunit”, but ”whatdidtheydo?” scenario as Inspector Alex Shaw turns up to investigate a murder / non-murder whilst getting ever-increasingly drawn into the seductive web of the sisters’ world. Trapped, confused and generally just caught up in the plot, Alex’s world begins to fall apart. Just what is going on?
There’s a lot to like about The Washing Machine - it’s well performed and it has an intriguing story that keeps you guessing all the way to its blood-bath ending. Plus there’s the appeal of lots of euro-sleaze (”I always think Italy’s got lots of ladies in lingerie peering through the curtains” - Jim) as the sister’s use their wiles in ever-inventive ways such as handcuffing themselves to banisters, coming on to the poor Inspector Alex in a museum next to a blind people, or simply flashing him their knickers and throwing salad over his crotch. And, yes of course, the washing machine was used for one sex scene, but as Zomblee observed, if there’s one lesson we’ll take from this film, it’s that ”Don’t combine sex with washing machines whilst the iron is on. And the fridge door is open”.
“A man. Cut into pieces. And stuffed in there like soiled linen”.
Zomblee Having never seen The Washing Machine before, and not having researched it beforehand, I was mildly curious as to what kind of a film Ruggero Deodato could make with such a strange title. "Not a strong title for a horror film really", noted Rawshark early in the proceedings, and we were all inclined to agree. Within a mere four minutes we're confronted by a refrigerator-set sex scene featuring the massive boobs of Katarzyna Figura (Jim: "Put those thing away, you're going to get someone killed!"), and that's as good as introduction to this movie as one should expect. It's sleazy. It's sensual. It's a bit shit. But that's ok.
To clarify this movie's title: three sisters live together under one roof. The plot kicks off when one sister sees dirty Russian Yuri's dead body inside their washing machine late one night, but the lack of evidence brings local cop and multiple look-a-like Alexander to the conclusion that she was hallucinating. It is not long before Alexander is dragged into the sexed-up world of the Kolba sisters, as they continuously seduce him with all their mind games and tits.
As we all know from watching sleazy Italian movies, the filmmakers are fond of employing a context of classical music to add a touch of class, and that's what Deodato does here. One of the sisters, Ludmilla, is a percussionist in a local orchestra, and any such scenes throughout the movie serve as a cultured relief from all the sensual sexy shenanigans that appear to be the main focus of Deodato's Dirty Eye. I might also point out that Ludmilla has a penchant for playing with her triangle (take that how you want to) while watching her sister fuck Yuri by the fridge. She's a bit odd, that Ludmilla.
By the time the final reel comes along you'll be shocked to find some tardy plot coming your way, but it all feels a bit pathetic and tagged-on. It's something to do with some Germans who Yuri ripped off, a stash of jewels that the girls have their eyes on, and you'll also get to see what happens when you throw a live iron into a bath. Crazy bitches.
"Has that washing machine been on all day?"
Jim Yeah, you're right Zomblee, nobody saw that 'plot' coming, not at all. It does feel a bit ridiculous.
Let's look at the plot again. Firstly, Vida comes back late one night and shags Dirty Yuri in front of the fridge, while Ludmilla plays the triangle on the stairs, only feet away ("It's a good phrase - a girl playing with her triangle..." - Rawshark). Then she wakes up in the night and there's a body stuffed in the washing machine, with blood dripping down the front of it. So they call the cops, and this cop called Alex arrives who looks like a combination of Ewan McGregor, a couple of Baldwins, Lewis Collins ("only In bed" - Zomblee), "Spandau Ballet dude" (Rawshark), Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan and Simon Cowell. But the washing machine is empty. So, no body. So, no crime?
Well you'd think so, but Yuri is still strangely absent from the film while the three sisters go out of their way to seduce Alex all the time. Vida shags Alex while he's handcuffed to the balcony ("That's for the to-do list!" - Zomblee), while Ludmilla plays for the local orchestra ("I do like those scenes were it plays the music then it cuts to a scene of them playing the music." - Rawshark). She then goes round to his house and shags him too (but not before throwing a tossed salad at his crutch), leaving her red knickers behind to dye his washing red, much to the concern of his girlfriend Irina. Maria (or Sissy as she's also known) stays aloof, preferring the company of her blind, often topless, lesbian lover ("Can you insert a lesbian scene? Doesn't have to be very long." - Zomblee). But even she succumbs at the blind people museum. Yes, in one of the weirdest sequences I've ever seen Maria and Alex make out silently in a museum while blind people fondle the exhibits. Naughty, these Italians.
And so on. There's more sex, some double crossing, a trippy sequence then all of a sudden a new plot element turns up. No, not the fact that Ludmilla was previously married to some dude who drowned, that's a complete red herring, but the fact that Alex is apparently in possession of Yuri's case, that he stole off some Germans, and he wants it back. It appears all this shagging Alex was all about getting this case back for Yuri, so maybe that's what Maria was looking for at Alex's pad when her blind lesbian friend was hiding in the cupboard?
I don't know, sometimes I don't understand these Italians. People do obviously have a lot more sex in Italy than they do in the UK though, so a trip to Italy might be in order.
"I can't be concerned with three sisters that accuse each other of a murder that probably never existed."
Director Ruggero Deodato
Cast Philippe Caroit
Runtime 90 mins
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Cut and Run (1985)
Plot Two journalists embark on an expedition to the jungle to make a report on a jungle drug dealer but get caught up in a kidnap case and a full-blown drug war between the natives and drug-makers.
Jim Next up, Deodato's uber-gory Cut and Run, the ‘almost follow-up’ to Cannibal Holocaust, in the sense that it's set in the jungle and is exceptionally gory if you get the uncut print. It has none of the heavy shock value of Holocaust, but this time there's more budget, which is obvious from the gorgeous opening cinematography ("Ah yes, Deodato widescreen jungle..." - Rawshark) and the expensive cast, which includes Richard Lynch and Karen Black, who still none of us fancy. How did she get in to films?
So, the movie opens with an attack on a jungle drug farm boathouse thing, where Michael Berryman and his gang of monkey men (don't blame me, Zomblee nicknamed them that because they jump out of trees) steal all the drugs, and stab the women in the legs, pinning them to the floor. Then Michael Berryman gets very angry and kills them ("What's his beef?" - Zomblee). It's that kind of movie.
Then we switch to two journalists, Mark and Francis, who have a plan to go and interview jungle drug dealer Richard Lynch, last seen in the intro piloting that aquaplane that Berryman and crew stole all the drugs in. They go and see Brian the pimp about how to get to the jungle ("He's been to the pimp shop, hasn't he?" - Zomblee) and then get the official backing from the head of their TV station, whose son Tommy has been kidnapped by said drug dealers and is being held in forced labour in the jungle, much to the concern of Tommy's mum Karen Black. Tommy is in the jungle and he's trying to escape along with another girl called Ana, although Zomblee's name "Sweaty Hot Monkey Lady" is a lot more apt, since she is very hot. In fact, there's a standard for this type of movie rape sequence involving her that is followed by a scene with Tommy consoling her, and that consoling scene is actually rather touching.
Anyway, Mark and Francis arrive flown in by the brilliantly named pilot Tony Martina, and they make their way through the jungle, recruiting new characters along the way (Tommy!) and losing some (Ana the most notable, sadly...) before the final interview with the soon to die Richard Lynch, which is a bit predictable, and the very silly Michael Berryman epilogue, which we all agreed was shit.
Along the way there's some fun to be had though. There's a very funny scene with a bunch of guards and a porn mag ("They're fighting over the porn!" - Zomblee), loads of scenes of Berryman and his monkey men bursting through floors or leaping out of water then decapitating people, and a particularly good gore scene when John Steiner gets ripped in two ("He had to split." - Zomblee). There's a good alligator sequence too, and lots of aquaplane and helicopter scenes, especially near the end where Tommy's dad turns up with loads of men in a chopper. He's wearing one of those 80s studded jackets that are "...a little bit rock, but not that much" (Zomblee). You know what he means.
All in all, an awesome Zombie Club movie, which I was stunned not to have seen before. If you are looking for this, make sure you get the uncut version - you can tell if you have because some of the more gory scenes switch in to Italian with English subs. Don't know if you know what I mean, but that's kinda cool.
"I'd better turn the beacon on for Tony."
Rawshark Make no mistake, Cut and Run certainly looks good. Made post-Holocaust, Deodato returned to the jungle in 1984 with a bigger budget, better actors and better cameras, but sadly, a lesser script.
It’s certainly quite a brutal opening prologue, as superman Michael Berryman leads a tribe of natives by literally LEAPING out of the river to attack a drugs factory in the jungle - beheading two naked girls as part of his short-raid massacre along the way. Taking all the drugs with him, Berryman rows away casually down the river after all the bloodshed whilst an aquaplane circles the devastation. Cue credits. Good start. What else you got?
Back in New York (it’s requisite for Italian-made jungle-set films to have a ”Back in New York..” scene) we cut to a topless dancing bar (”Deodato makes any film as long as he gets to film in a titty bar” - Jim), a shot of a video recorder (”It’s a top loader. Awesome wide 80s VHS player!” - Jim) and finally to journalists Mark and Fran pitching a TV report to their boss Karin (Karen Black) to go into the jungle to make a report investigating drug smuggling. Luckily (sort of), Karin’s son Tommy has been recently kidnapped in the area, so she agrees to the assignment as long as they look out for her son along the way.
Finding a pilot called Tony, Mark and Fran fly into the jungle at night, but super-Berryman is there to greet their arrival as he bashes in the beacons, spears a guard and kills the sentries whilst seemingly also manage to take out the plane’s pilot with a blow-dart. Surviving through, Mark and Fran erect a satellite the next day and wander into scenes of carnage in the nearby camp (complete with vultures picking at corpses) and send footage back to the US. They continue their quest (finding a girl called Ana and Tommy along the way) and then it all goes a bit Apocalypse Now as they wander round the jungle trying to find the elusive Richard Lynch, presumably to explain what they’re all doing out there anyway.
So, a slightly muddy story spoils the end result, which is a bit of shame as there is, as usual with Deodato, lots to like here. The synth score (by Simonetti) is good, it looks great and there are some great gore FX moments (the body rip in particular plus a couple of nice decapitations). Richard Lynch gives good value as usual, here as the quite Kurtz-like Colonel Brian Horne and Michael Berryman’s always a great watch, perhaps a tad underused here, but at least he is given the good grace to appear in both the prologue and a cool epilogue (involving a plane, a fire extinguisher and a gun). I’ll give it three sexy monkey ladies out of five.
”You’re on assignment here Fran”.
Zomblee Moving on from the softcore smut of The Washing Machine, we are rewarded with the slightly more hardcore violence of Deodato's mid-80s jungle-set drug war flick, Cut and Run. Two TV reporters, Mark (Leonard Mann) and Francis (Lisa Blount from Carpenter's Prince of Darkness), are hell bent on tracking down and interviewing a supposedly deceased drug trafficker (Richard Lynch) who they believe might have something to do with multiple drug gang slayings. Or something like that.
The movie opens when our favourite The Hills Have Eyes clansman Michael Berryman somehow manages to physically leap out of the water onto a coke factory / river house where he is then joined by his underwater monkey men to wreak complete havoc and make off with all that white powdery goodness ("They've nicked all the drugs! - Jim). It's a blinder of an opening scene, a bit like the big boob fridge shag in tonight's first movie, but obviously completely different, as this one features some quite nasty leg-spiking (as well as the aforementioned water-leaping).
The aerial cinematography here is a real treat, doing justice to the Venezuelan location, and he also has multiple helicopters and aqua planes at his disposal, as well as a great cast that includes John Steiner, Gabriele Tinti and Karen Black. If there's any justice in this world, then I pray to God that they didn't allocate much budget to Karen Black's hideous wardrobe, which makes her look twice her normal size in every scene. Karen Black is rubbish anyway - why did anyone ever cast her?
This one features Deodato's then-girlfriend, the extremely hot and sweaty Valentina Forte (also Sopkiw's daughter in Blastfighter!), who hangs around the camp in the jungle where the villains refine their drugs. She can be seen taking an awesome shower halfway through the movie and you'll be inclined to shout something along the lines of, "Deodato you lucky bastard!" when you see her butt... it's a thing of great and wondrous beauty. For some reason, all my zombie buddies could say at this point was, "See what Deodato can do when he's given a budget?"
Cut and Run is pretty strong stuff from Cannibal Holocaust-meister Deodato, but although mostly jungle-set, has little of the shock factor of that movie. However it should have enough to satisfy the gorehounds (one decapitation is particularly memorable), and the plot is fairly strong until, as Rawshark pointed out, it "goes all Apocalypse Now" at the end. Oh well.
"Fuck her. Fuck her. Fuck her till she hurts."
Director Ruggero Deodato
Cast Lisa Blount
Runtime 90 mins
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Camping del Terrore (aka Bodycount) (1987)
Plot A Shaman slasher. Naughty naughty, very naughty - E's no good.
Zomblee Perhaps it's down to Deodato's infrequent output that we find ourselves having little choice but to settle on a movie like Camping del Terrore to finish off tonight's Zombie Club. The stalk 'n' slash craze was obviously still alive and strong even in 1988, giving the Italian cloning movie machine license to go off into them there woods and kill off a bunch of younglings, just like in The Burning, Friday the 13th, and Madman. Actually, forget that last one, because it's an absolute piece of shit, and take my advice - the fact that Dawn of the Dead's Gaylen Ross is in it doesn't make it any better.
This may surprise some readers, but it turns out that Camping del Terrore aka Bodycount is actually really rather routine. Who would have thought it? The surprises keep coming, too. The main component of the cast is a bunch of 80s kids venturing into the back of beyond for all manner of spirited hijinks and a bit of 'how's your father', but it transpires that the location they have chosen was once an Indian burial ground. I think I am falling asleep, but every now and then I open my eyes and see a kids acting like dick heads, falling off cliffs, showing their rubbish tits and getting bits hacked off them. It's monumentally boring, in case you hadn't already guessed. But some people like this kind of dross.
So, who have we got in the cast to make this worth your while? David Hess is the main pedigree draw here, as the camp caretaker who lives in the wilderness with Mimsy Farmer (whose name sounds more like some sort of bizarre occupation), but it turns out that she's in bed with local sheriff Charles Napier. Also in the mix we have the fantastic Ivan Rassimov as the deputy, and John Steiner as Dr Olsen, and to be honest I think spotting the steadfast Italian regulars was the only joy I got out of Camping del Terrore. I'd be much happier watching The Burning for the 26th time. And now for a completely misleading quote from the movie:
"I guarantee you this is going to be a weekend you'll never forget."
Jim Camping Del Terrore, also known as Bodycount, starts with a flashback of two teens making out in a tent in a wood, is followed by them finding an abandoned cop car, and then they get stabbed through the seat by a masked killer with big messy hair. Then the movie fast-forwards 15 years to the late 80s (even though in the flashback the kids had 80s hair and clothes) with that killing 15 years ago being attributed to the spirit of an old Indian Shaman. Present day (i.e. the late 80s) centres on a group of teens turning up in the woods for a bout of drinking and premarital sex. One of the kids is Ben (character's name), who's the son of David Hess and Mimsy Farmer (actors' names), who live in a cabin in said woods and are very unhappy, hence why Mimsy is knobbing local Sherrif Charles Napier (actor's name).
Anyway, the kids go about the usual frolicking, stripping off, making out, etc, as other campers arrive. One of the girls goes missing, then her boyfriend stumbles back in to the camp on deaths door. Then the rest of the teens make out a lot more, and keep disappearing, killed by the masked messy haired killer. "Are they not noticing their friends are disappearing?" (Rawshark) - apparently not, but they do spend a lot of time hanging out in a dilapidated shower. And one of them dreams of maggots. Or something.
Allright, we were all way gone by now, so it's literally a miracle that you've got this much out of me. While I'm a big fan of slashers, this one came way late in the craze, so it's understandable that it's been washed under the carpet, despite genre favourites like Charles Napier, Mimsy Farmer ("He's trying to touch her Mimsy." - Zomblee) and David Hess showing up. Having said that the ending which I can't remember apparently - according to my notes - involves Farmer killing then not killing Hess, a brief chainsaw and a freeze frame reveal that, err, reveals nothing. Um, so there you go.
"Why is everything always directed towards me?"
Rawshark Positioned quite low on the Deodato down curve, Camping del Terrore was his first (and only) entry into the pure slasher genre, and it’s safe to say it’s unfortunately one of the weaker of the flood of mid-eighties Friday the 13th rip-offs, despite a cast featuring David Hess, Mimsy Farmer, Charles Napier and legend Ivan Eaten Alive Rassimov in his last ever role.
The set-up for this round of tormented teenagers lies with a holiday camp supposedly having been built on an Indian burial ground and the existence of a vengeful Shamen spirit offing those who offend him. You see, it all started 15 years ago, as the film handily explains in the extended prologue, when Tom and Rose have sex whilst camping and are then knifed, after a quite protracted stalking, by a glowy-eyed presence.
Back in the present-day 1980s, and a group of teens in an RV pick up hitchhiker Ben, who is on leave from the army to visit his parents at the campground (including father David Hess). Upon arrival the teens are told by Hess that they can’t stay, but Ben appears and calms things down and sorts them out with accommodation. They all settle down for the night as one girl goes off to exercise before running to the showers and (in one of the better murder scenes) is killed with a knife though the back of her head, sharp blade emerging from her mouth.
From then on the film lumbers around from one set-piece to another - some kids buy some hot dogs at night, there’s some sexy talk, sex in showers and toplessness, and David Hess gets to say the words ”Stupid kids!” in a Scooby Doo kinda way (convenient considering the Scooby Doo elements of the ”is it The Shamen / person dressed up as The Shamen” plot-stylings). More and more of the teens are dispatched one by one (one girl has a spear pushed through her chest), and David Hess lays some trip-wire traps, but it’s a bit dull really – we care little for the campers and we’re really never sure who or what is killing them or even why.
On the plus side, the score by Claudio Simonetti isn’t bad (”Klinky keyboard. Coming to get you. Coming to get you” - Zomblee) and the more well-known cast, with main mention to Charles Napier, at least bother to put on a slightly charismatic turn. Of course, our viewing wasn’t helped at all by the fact we were watching the Japanese cut which featured naked blurs and as Jim called it ”digitized minges”, but I really doubt even the clear-pictured HD 5.1 version would have helped this Deodato misfire get a better rating than 2 Stars.
”You know what I feel about democracy… let alone campers!”
Director Ruggero Deodato
Cast Bruce Penhall
Runtime 90 mins
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So there you have it. Don’t be put off by the, quite frankly, appalling title, The Washing Machine has a lot going for it if you like your sex-filled twisty-turny mystery murders and proves that there was still life in Deodato’s film career well into the 90s. I think we all took something away from this film, not least the lesson not to leave an iron turned on near the bath when you’re having sex.
Cut and Run is a lesser film to Cannibal Holocaust (what isn’t in Deodato’s catalogue) but still kept it’s head firmly above the entertainment levels thanks to nice cinematography of both the jungle and a manic Michael Berryman. And ok, maybe squeezing in a third film at the end was maybe a movie too far for such a widely-versed, yet still niche director (I knew I should have gone for The Barbarians!), at least we’ve found out it’s just really another slasher film to tick off the list, yet Charles Napier and David Hess together made it at least watchable.
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