Posts Tagged ‘Samantha Eggar’

Movie Reviews 308 – Welcome to Blood City (1977)

July 28, 2017

When four men and a woman wake up in a desolate and remote region without knowing one another or any idea of where they are, how they got there or even why they are there, all they have for a clue is a slip of paper in each of their pockets telling them they are murderers and how many people they have killed in the past.  Picking a random direction in search of answers they encounter two mangy frontiersmen who kill one of the men and rape the woman before being rescued (sort of) by a black shirted sheriff wearing a conspicuously large Red Cross patch with a sewn in ID number.

Thus begins Welcome to Blood City as sheriff Frendlander (Jack Palance) leads the ragtag group to the outskirts of the titular frontier town in which similar black shirted ‘citizens’ run the show, Frendlander being the so called top gun. The others in the town are either hired security men or, like the new arrivals, basic slaves that do all the work. We soon learn that the working framework of this society is based on a brutal scoring system in which one’s place in the hierarchy is based on the number of kills they make. The protagonist among the new arrivals is Lewis (Keir Dullea) who is soon ‘provoked’ (a code word meaning coerced) into a battle with one of the citizens looking to get another point. But when Lewis ends up winning against those stacked odds he learns that he basically takes the place of his attacker and is now not only a ‘citizen’ but the town dentist, having inherited the losers possessions.

But Lewis is more interested in helping out his original acquaintances,especially Martine (Hollis McLaren) the woman in that group who is now held in the town jail for her own protection as she has a number of citizens hoping to claim her, either by rights or other means.

Almost as soon as we’ve grasped the inner workings of this new world we’re lurched to a scene depicting a modern (make that 1970’s contemporary) electronics and computer laden control room with two white robed scientists peering into monitor screens and overseeing the events unfolding in Blood City. In the background we see a slabbed body wired to apparatus and other scientists muddling about. The twerking body is that of Lewis, reacting to his immersed state in Blood City. Meanwhile the male operator is berating his co worker Katherine (Samantha Eggar) for having inserted a simile of herself into the ‘game’ and as she smiles and counters his arguments while watching her doppelganger ‘citizen’ perched on a horse, both observing and hinting Lewis.

It’s never made exactly clear the nature or reasons behind this game although the operators are briefed for updates by some administrator/politician (Barry Morse) with some sense of urgency to the overall mission at hand discussing possible ‘Termination’ at some points. Lewis and the others also suffer from momentary flashbacks to their past, more tranquil days prior to their current predicament.

The film begs comparison to Westworld with the similar blend of Science Fiction which incorporates a virtualized wild west world despite the visitors being convicts instead of vacationers. But were Westworld excels in presenting a cohesive and believable scenario Blood City tumbles trying to be too smart for itself as a even a tenuous scrutiny of the plot reveals glaring holes in logic. As a pairing of political and science fiction thriller it also fails on both accounts. There was no political intrigue at all presenting only a veiled suggestion of what the project overseers we’re trying to achieve with the experiment and how this would fit in some worldwide order. Based on the administrators (Morse) character I even had doubts as to whether we were watching good guys or bad guys. Was it normal and lawful to have murderers treated as they were or was this some rogue underground operation? As for the science it too was only hinted at and never fully explained. Were only one or two of the residents in Blood City being tested or were they all? Katharine’s role within the game is nothing more than a tease instead of being some sort of bridge between the real and virtual that would have been beneficial to the bereft plot.

What made this an especially tough viewing for me was the dreadful state of the video transfer on my DVD (a double feature DVD paired with a movie called God Said to Cain and with this movie simply titled on the cover as Blood City). It was bad enough that it was a ‘pan and scan’ 4:3 formatted transfer but it was also muddy as hell and obviously had some other cropping done since it contained a lot of scenes where the characters heads were at the utmost top of the frame and in some scenes even had the heads lopped off completely. Perhaps some well meaning editor was trying to warn me that this was going to be a brainless movie. Honestly the Youtube clips for this movie look better than this particular DVD release.

I didn’t feel particularly welcome, it was a small town not a city and despite all the killing there was no blood. Time to rewatch Westworld to remind myself how a well made Sci-Fi Western can be entertaining.

Movie Reviews 221 – Curtains (1983)

May 22, 2015

CurtainsWhat kind of personal gain could entice an otherwise peaceful, law abiding citizen to become a (literal) cutthroat serial murderer? Money? Sex? Drugs? How about the leading role in a play? The yearning for fame on the stage has been a movie premise since it was immortalized in the original silent-era The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney, albeit in that case it was not personal fame, but rather favoring one particular artist and just clearing the way for her.

Curtains, another fine Canexploitation film from the 80’s, not only revisits that premise but also happens to have a freaky mask wearing antagonist.

Seasoned stage actress Samantha Sherwood (Samantha Eggar) wants the lead role in Audra, a play about a psychotic woman. So desperate is she to play the part that she concocts a plan with her friend the director Stryker (John Vernon), to fake insanity so that she can spend time in an real asylum.

But Stryker has plans of his own. He instead puts out a casting call for the part while she languishes in the nut house and soon a handful of beautiful young hopefuls arrive at the reclusive mansion where Stryker wants to assess all the girls over a few days. Even before the last of the girls arrive one of the hopefuls is killed and just as Stryker begins his auditions he is surprised to she that Samantha has managed to escape and intends to retain her promised leading role even if she has to compete with the others.

Thus begins the expected cycle of women meeting grisly and gruesome ends one at a time as we, the audience, try to figure out which is the killer. The story is spiced up with casting couch antics, hot tub frolicking, a weird creepy doll that seems to be everywhere and a memorable ghastly looking hag rubber mask that is not only worn by the killer but is also an innocent prop in other scenes.

Is it one of the jealous girls, Samantha being the obvious leading suspect? Stryker’s weird cabana boy helper? Or is it Stryker himself who set up the audition and has already shown he can’t be trusted?

Aside from the confounding the lack of clarity on that damned doll this is a good, if not great, cheesy thriller. The scenes featuring the masked killer are alone worth the watch, and both Vernon and Eggar are at their maddening best. Let the play begin!