Friday, February 28, 2014

Short Film: Death of a Bullet (1979)


 
This month's Short Film of the Month Death of a Bullet, by Jimmy T. Murakami, who died this month on February 16 at the age of 80. The painting above is a self-portrait of his, and his short below is about dancing bullets and suicide.
 

A Japanese-American, Murakami was born in San Jose, California, U.S., on June 5, 1933. At the age of seven, he and his family were among the thousands of Japanese American interned at a segregation camp — one wonders why with the war of terror raging as it is we haven't had the brilliant idea of reinstating them for Muslims... oh wait: we have Guantanamo — and, once released, the family farm gone, they moved onto Los Angeles, where he ended up studying at Chouinard (now CalArts)... at one point while there, Chuck Jones was a fellow student. 
The career that followed after graduation, and all the places it took Murakami along the way — California, New York, Japan, France, Italy, the Netherlands, England and Ireland —  is why he  was once referred to as a 'globe trotter of animation'. In the end, he was an expat who spent most of his life abroad in Ireland. (For an interesting interview, go here at Animation World Network.) 
During his long and productive career — to list only the things we find interesting — he was nominated for an Academy Award for Animated Short Film for The Magic Pear Tree (1968 / full short); was the second-unit aerial director of Roger Corman's The Red Baron (1971 / German trailer); the director of the classic piece of flotsam Battle Beyond the Stars (1980 / trailer); supposedly did un-credited directorial work on another craptastic classic of Corman's, the original Humanoids from the Deep (1980 / trailer); did the "Soft Landing" segment of Heavy Metal (1981 / trailer); and made the bleak, sadly under-appreciated and almost forgotten animated movie When the Wind Blows (1986).
Worth noting is that the music to Death of a Bullet is by fellow ex-pat Sam Spence,* one of the great unknown music composers; he is best remembered as the former house composer for NFL Films and commercials. While his name is not extremely recognizable, his music tends to be. In fact, is known for being very, very, very recognizable — as in generally sounding so much like some other well-known piece that many (if not most) of his compositions can be accused of almost being plagiarized. (The music to Death of a Bullet, you may perhaps note, is of no exception.)
*He resides in Munich, Germany, and has for decades.

 Further Sam Spence "homages":


Also by Murakami — 
the official Music Video to Kate Bush's King of the Mountain:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

R.I.P.: Alexandra Bastedo, Part III


(9 March 1946 —12 January 2014)

The mostly forgotten (outside of the Commonwealth) 60s' sex symbol Alexandra Bastedo, a "devoted animal rights activist" and vegetarian, died in January of cancer. Retrorambling says "Bastedo was born in Hove, Sussex, England. According to her official website, her mother was of French, German and Italian descent. Her Canadian-born father was of Spanish, Dutch, Scottish and native Indian extraction. She attended Brighton and Hove High School and Brighton School of Drama. Although most familiar to viewers of 1960s TV, she was also famous for her multilingual skills, speaking Italian, Spanish, French and German. This skill brought her to the door of 10 Downing Street to assist with translations and landed her the role of co-presenter of Miss World competitions with Peter Marshall in the 1980s." We here at A Wasted Life rather liked her exotic eyes, strong jaw and her prime 60s figure and parts of her filmogaphy, which we take a look at below...

Go here for Part I
Go here for Part II





Tu dios y mi infierno
(1976, dir. Rafael Romero Marchent)

Alexandra Bastedo returned to Spain to make this movie with another director with the last name of "Romero Marchent", Rafael Romero Marchent, who worked on so many movies together with Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent (see: El clan de los Nazarenos [1975] in Part I), who co-wrote this movie with Santiago Moncada, that one can't help but wonder if the relationship was deeper than just business... were they siblings? Any Spaniard out there know?
A Scene from Rafael Romero Marchent's  
Santo contra el doctor Muerte (1973):

The co-scripter of this unknown and forgotten drama, Santiago Moncada, by the way, unsheathed his pen for many a better-known movie, including: Bava's Hatchet for a Honeymoon (1970 / trailer), A Bell from Hell (1973 / trailer / full movie) All the Colors of the Dark (1972 / trailer), Franco's La esclava blanca (1985 / full film, with Lina Romay), José Ramón Larraz's Rest in Pieces (1987 / full movie http://stagevu.com/video/nfwaotxseiuv), Voodoo Black Exorcist (1974 / full movie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMxX7motyes) and Rico The Mean Machine (1973 / trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBGc8gXJn8A).
The plot as far as we could string together from two Spanish one-sentence synopses we found, concerns Liselotte (Analía Gadé of Exorcism's Daughter [1971 / trailer] and In the Eye of the Hurricane [1971 / opening credits]) and Caesar, who come a former fishing village that is now popular amongst the rich, where Liselotte fleeces millionaires; she meets and falls in love with a priest (John Phillip Law), whom the jealous Caesar has beaten up...
In any event, despite two English-language AKA titles, Your God My Hell and Your Heaven My Hell, and the fact that the movie stars cult actor John Phillip Law (of Ray Harryhausen's The Golden Voyage of Sinbad [1974] and Night Train to Terror [1985], among many movies of note), we could find little to nothing about this film online. The only English-language commentary is on imdb, where henry (henry@panamahank.com) says: "This is not a spectacularly good film, but I loved it because my wife, girlfriend at the time, had a small part. She is the beautiful young woman who appears several times in cut-off jeans and in a white bikini in the beach scene. The poster in the lobby [see above] featured a picture of her and Alexandra Bastedo lying on the beach. [...] If you get a chance to see the film, keep your eye peeled for the beautiful girl in the cutoff jeans. She makes the whole film worthwhile.
Nice to know that in some relationships, unlike that of your parents probably, love is still there after 26 years (henry's comment: 2002 — film: 1976 = 26 years).
Also from Director Rafael Romero Marchent —  
And Santana Kills Them All (1970):





Find the Lady
(1976, dir. John Trent)

The sequel to John Trent's equally unknown comedy It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time (1975 / sort of a trailer), and, as far as we can tell, the first movie in which John Candy (31 October 1950 — 4 March 1994), one of the most un-funny comedians to ever succeed, received on-screen credit. Like most films of director John Trent, the only exception being the hicksploitation Sunday in the Country (1974) — "Not since Peckinpah's Straw Dogs has the screen exploded with such righteous vengeance!" — Find the Lady is pretty crappy.
Over at imdb, Jean-Marc Rocher (rocher@fiberbit.net) offers this more-than serviceable plot synopsis (it's also good enough for TCM, which uses it without credit): "The daughter (Alexandra Bastedo) of a wealthy businessman (Peter Cook) has been kidnapped, and the chief of police, under a lot of pressure to find her as soon as possible, assigns officers Kopek (John Candy of The Clown Murders [1976 / full movie]) and Broom (Lawrence Dane of The Bride of Chucky [1998], Behind the Wall [2008 / trailer], Rituals [1977 / trailer / full movie], and Scanners [1981 / trailer]) to track her down and bring her back safe and sound. What nobody on the police force realizes is that the kidnapping was meant to be a fake: the girl's father hired a couple of mafia goons (Mickey Rooney & Dick Emery) to stage a kidnapping, so that he could use the ransom money to pay off his gambling debts. Unfortunately for him, the hired thugs get the wrong girl. While this should been fairly easy to resolve, the daughter has decided to run off with her boyfriend, after which she actually does get kidnapped by someone else. To add to the complications, a third party is also claiming to be holding her for ransom. Somehow, the bumbling pair of officers has to wade through this mess and find the lady."
Aka Call the Cops!, Kopek and Broom and Police Epidemy (the last in Germany), the cast is eclectic, to say the least, and aside from being Candy's debut, also features the first credited performance of Delroy Lindo as well as a yitload of familiar faces with unknown name.
Unknown Movies, which says that "the only entertainment [from this movie] comes from wondering why it was made in the first place", also explains why it was made in the first place: "It can probably be safely deducted that this was a tax-shelter production, with Canadian investors at very little risk. And the Brits invest in it as well, providing enough English actors to make it a 'British' movie, so it can be easily released to British theaters because of quotas on British movies, no matter how terrible they may be. [...] The end result is a boring mishmash of sitcom antics, bad performances, crude slapstick, and the curiosity of hearing Canadian, British, and American accents from characters supposedly in an American city but looking more like Eastern Canada."
For a non-funny and non-embeddable scene from Find the Lady, go here or here at JohnCandy.com.




The Man Inside
(1976, dir. Gerald Mayer)

Alexandra Bastedo plays "Joan Lytton" in this TV movie directed by Louis B. Mayer's nephew Gerald Mayer, who started his career doing unspectacular B-movies in the 50s (his better ones being his debut noir Dial 1119 [1950 / trailer] and the western The Marauders [1955 / trailer]) before retiring to a long career doing TV. The true stars of the movie are James Franciscus (of Ray Harryhausen's The Valley of Gangi [1969 / trailer]) and Stefanie Powers [of Crescendo [1970 / trailer], Invisible Strangler [1976 / full movie], Warning Shot [1967 / spot], Die! Die! My Darling! [1965 / trailer] and Experiment in Terror [1962 / trailer from hell]).
At Rovi, John Bush says the movie is about how "an undercover Canadian agent must get into a Toronto drug ring, but when he's successful, his morals are tested by the opportunity to cut out with $2 million in cash." At Stefanie Powers' website, she cribs (uncredited) the plot description written by frankfob2@yahoo.com for imdb: "An undercover cop (Franciscus) infiltrates a major heroin ring. He soon finds himself in a position to take $2 million without anyone knowing about it, a situation made all the more tempting because of his girlfriend's griping about their constant struggles to make ends meet and their need to change their lives for the better." Somewhere along the way, the TV movie got a VHS release as well as a Spanish-language release.




El mirón
(1977, dir. José Ramón Larraz)

Seeing that one the various language Alexandra Bastedo could speak was Spanish, it isn't all that surprising that she eventually was to work together with the Spanish-born, mostly active in England director José Ramón Larraz, the man behind that vampire masterpiece Vampyres (1974). (We took a look at his career when he died in 2013.)
Trailer to Vampyres
which doesn't feature Alexandra Bastedo:

Regrettably, Bastedo didn't exactly take part in his more notable films — in fact, this drama is one of his most obscure movies. In Part II of our Larraz career review, our brief entry on this movie is as follows: "Another Spanish film that never got an English-language release. A computer translation of some Spanish synopsis offers the following: 'A middle-aged man (Héctor Alterio of Scarab [1983 / trailer]) has a dissatisfying marriage with Elaine (Alexandra Bastedo of The Blood Spattered Bride [1972 / trailer]), who sleeps with other men on the condition is that he has to be present and, in some cases, participate in the ménage à trois.' Seems to be a real snoozer..."
Long scene in Spanish:




La Gioconda está triste
(1977, dir. Antonio Mercero)

This Spanish TV film based on a novel by José Luis Garci is listed on many a website as featuring Alexandra Bastedo, but she is neither listed in the credits nor did we notice her in the film... but then we sort of watched this slow moving 47-minute-long movie with only one eye. Slow but interesting is the word: at the Louvre, the Mona Lisa loses her smile and as she looks sadder and sadder the world gets sadder and sadder until — Armageddon? Yep, that's the basic plot... see for yourself below. Love how the guy lights up a cigarette in the museum towards the start of the filmlette.
Full movie in Spanish:
La Gioconda está triste
La Gioconda está triste (Antonio Mercero) from Hobbes on Vimeo.




Cabo de vara 
(1978, dir. Raúl Artigot)
This Spanish costume drama based on a novel by Tomás Salvador doesn't seem to have had an English-language release, but it does have a nice poster. As far as we can make out from two indecipherable computer translations of Spanish synopses, the movie takes place in 1883 in Ceuta, an autonomous Spanish city on the Northern coast of Africa. A prison story, it deals with an officer who takes an interest in a new inmate who, instead of being reformed by prison, is corrupted..
Who knows where Alexandra Bastedo fits in there, but she's listed on the poster and made it on the cover of a VHS. Cabo de vara was the second of only three films directed by Raúl Artigot, whose most interesting project was probably his first movie, El monte de las brujas / The Witches Mountain (1972), a somewhat slow but odd horror film starring the under-appreciated Patty Shepard of Juan Piquer Simón's masterpiece Slugs (1988) and much another fine flotsam.
The Witches Mountain — Full Movie:

The Witches Mountain von crazedigitalmovies

Director Raúl Artigot was actually far more active as a cinematographer, and in that function he worked on two Jess Franco Films, Les demons (1973 / German trailer) and Les expériences érotiques de Frankenstein (1972 / scene), as well such notable Euro-genre trash as The Cannibal Man (1973 / trailer), Amando de Ossorio's The Ghost Galleon (1974) and The Pajama Girl Case (1977 / trailer).
Trailer to Amando de Ossorio's  
The Ghost Galleon:





Estigma
(1980, dir. José Ramón Larraz)

Full Movie:

Aka Stigma. Alexandra Bastedo's second movie with José Ramón Larraz, after 1978's El mirón, and like that film already took a look at Stigma in Part III of the career review of José Ramón Larraz, where we wrote the following: "[...] This film [was] 'adapted' by the Italian Sergio Pastore, aka 'George Vidor', who among other movies, also wrote and/or directed The Crimes of the Black Cat [1972 / trailer]. Larraz makes a rare (un-credited) appearance in Stigma as one of the mourners at a funeral.
"Deep Red Rum is of the opinion that 'Stigma succeeds in its darkness and moodiness, which more than make up for the pace. This is a somewhat unfairly overlooked entry into the Euro horror canon. Seek it out if you think you've seen everything from the time period.' Considering how easy Stigma is to find in comparison to so many of Larraz's movies, it is a bit surprising that so few people have bothered to watch it.
 
"Over at DB Cult, Phil Hardy offers the following bare-bones plot description: 'Sebastian (Christian Borromeo of Murder-Rock: Dancing Death [1984 / German trailer] and Tenebre [1982 / trailer]) discovers at puberty that he has the ability to kill people by thought-power. Initially disturbed by the rumblings in his psyche, which terrify a medium (the great and underappreciated Helga Liné of The Vampires' Night Orgy [1974 / trailer], When the Screaming Stops [1974 / trailer], Virgin Killer [1978 / Italian trailer], My Dear Killer [1972 / trailer] and So Sweet... So Perverse... [1969 / main title]) he accidentally encounters, he learns to use them and kills his brother (Emilio Gutiérrez Caba of La Comunidad [2000 / trailer] and The Art of Dying [2000]) out of jealousy for his girlfriend, Ana (Alexandra Bastedo of I Hate My Body [1974 / scene])."




Legend of the Champions
(1983, dir. Cyril Frankel)

We took a look at the British television series The Champions (1968-1969) in Part I of this career review. 14 years after its cancellation, two episodes — The Champions: The Beginning (1968) and The Champions: The Interrogation (1969) — were edited together for a TV movie that got later VHS release. Both episodes were directed by Cyril Frankel, the director of one of Hammer's few "message pictures", the virtually forgotten and disturbing B&W movie Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960), and Joan Fontaine's last feature film, the Hammer horror movie The Witches (1966 / trailer).
Trailer to Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960):

The "movie" Legend of the Champions thus inter-splices/combines the origin of the three super-mensch with a tale of one of the party, Craig Sterling (Stuart Damon) being interrogated to find out whether or not he might be a double agent. One of the few in the US who has seen this chop-job is zeitschik, who, on 7 May 2005, wrote the following at imdb: "Having seen the movie a number of times, I can see why anyone would experience confusion or displeasure. Whoever decided to use episode 18 with The Beginning did not do the viewers any favors." He is also of the opinion that "Sharron Macready (Alexandra Bastedo) really gives Emma Peel a good run for her money, and as far as I'm concerned, that's really saying something!!"




Draw!
(1984, dir. Steven Hilliard Stern)

Alexandra Bastedo's last appearance in an English-language movie of note, she is the third headlining star after Kirk Douglas and James Coburn in this shot-in-Canada HBO TV production with subsequent cinema release in Canuckland and later VHS (and now DVD) release
Director Steven Hilliard Stern has a long and undistinguished career and among his projects of mild note are Lo B'Yom V'Lo B'Layla (1972), featuring a young Zalmon King; Harrad Summer (1974 / trailer), the sequel to The Harrad Experiment (1973 / trailer); and the Tommy Lee Jones TV movie The Park Is Mine (1986 / trailer). Draw! was written by Stanley Mann, an Oscar-nominated scriptwriter (The Collector [1965 / trailer]) who, among other things, wrote Damien: Omen II (1978 / trailer) and Conan the Destroyer (1984 / trailer); supplied the idea to and helped produce one of our favorite movies, Theatre of Blood (1973); and helped produce two notable pieces of flotsum, the arty The Ballad of Tam Lin (1970 / a trailer) and the non-arty Class of 1999 (1990 / trailer).
Trailer to Theatre of Blood (1973):

Charles Tatum's Review Archive, which says "Alexandra Bastedo is good, if not a little vacuous, as the love interest who really just needs to stand around and look pretty," explains the plot: "Kirk Douglas is Handsome Harry Holland, a retired gunfighter who pops into a small town long enough to win some money in a poker game from the local spoiled rich brat. Holland tries to collect his winnings and leave, but kills the town sheriff in self defense after getting a bullet in the leg, and holds a traveling Shakespearean actress Alexandra Bastedo hostage in her hotel room. The town panics, and deputy Graham Jarvis leaves to get legendary lawman Sam Starret, played by James Coburn. The years have not been kind to Coburn, who is a raging alcoholic. As Douglas and Bastedo fall in love, Jarvis literally drags an incoherent Coburn back to town. Douglas and Coburn have a friendly history, when they were not trying to kill each other, and Douglas almost agrees to Coburn's plea to surrender. Enter the circuit court judge, a man who Douglas maimed years ago. He makes no bones about his desire to hang Douglas, and Coburn and Douglas are forced to face off in a final showdown."
Full movie in Spanish:





La veritat oculta
(1987, dir. Carlos Benpar)

Alexandra Bastedo's last appearance of note in a movie was in this unknown and forgotten Spanish movie, on the poster of which her name is found. She plays a palm reader named Agnes. Online, we found the following widely-used plot description: "After a long and turbulent time in America at the beginning of the century, Adrian Massaguer (Conrado San Martín of The Awful Dr Orlof [1962 / trailer], Conquest [1983 / trailer], The Beast and the Magic Sword [1983 / Spanish trailer] and The Colossus of Rhodes [1961 / trailer]) returns to his birthplace on the Mediterranean coast to become one of the richest men in the world."
La veritat oculta was screened at the 1988 Fantasporto Film Festival in Portugal, the year Ching Siu-tung's great A Chinese Ghost Story won Best Picture there.
Trailer to A Chinese Ghost Story:





Batman Begins
(2005, dir. Christopher Nolan)

Trailer:

OK, Alexandra Bastedo isn't anything more than an extra in this movie, so write if you even noticed her as a "Gotham Society Dame", which indicates that she probably shows up at some scene of Bruce Wayne socializing with the upper crust, perhaps the party scene just before Wayne Manner goes up in flames. Who knows. You know? We don't know.
Batman Begins is a good movie, a total breath of fresh air in the franchise after Joel Schumacher managed to kill it with his two Batman flicks, Batman Forever (1995 / trailer) and Batman & Robin (1997 / trailer) — but it is still not as good as Tim Burton's Batman Returns (1992).
Tim Burton's Batman Returns (1992):


Alexandra Bastedo — May She Rest In Peace

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Hamiltons (USA, 2006)


(Spoilers — but then, it is impossible to write about this movie without giving away a key revelation.)
Now this movie was a surprise... one can only wonder what has to later go wrong for two people to produce something as good as this movie and then, two years later, go on to make something as crappy as the 2008 remake of April Fool's Day (trailer)...
The Butcher Brothers, the catchy moniker of Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores, may not have made their feature-length directorial debut with The Hamiltons — they did that with the 2002 indi comedy Long Cut — but with this genre-bending film they finally made some waves. And justifiably so, for The Hamiltons is an adeptly modernized take on an extremely popular horror genre that tweaks classic rules as supplied in a defining and eternally inspiring book first published in 1897 and as usually followed to the T in most films and popular television programs... in The Hamiltons, however, everything is made a lot more human, if definitely not at all humane. As the asshole sibling Wendell Hamilton (Joseph McKelheer of The Violent Kind [2010 / trailer]) teasingly tells one of his future victims, the piteous Kitty (Jena Hunt), at one point: "Kitty, if monsters were real they'd be a lot different than they are on TV." He should know.
The basic situation is of a group of four siblings trying to survive as a family after the unexplained sudden death of their loving parents — a situation effectively presented by the opening montage of old family films and the voiceover of the young teenage son Francis (Cory Knauf of Pocahauntus [2006 / trailer]). But the unexplained sudden death of the parents has seemingly left a group of alienated and extremely psycho siblings in its wake — not to mention an unseen creature locked in the basement — and why they should in any way want to stick together is unexplainable for much of the movie, as aside for the incestuous twins, the redneck Wendell and the Goth Darlene (Mackenzie Firgens of Sweet Insanity [2006 / trailer]), they don't seem to really get along at all. Of them all, only Francis appears to have any feelings of disgust for the bloody and violent deeds of his brothers and sister, and the guilt for being the silent witness weighs heavy upon his shoulders — all the more so when he begins to feel attached to Samantha (Rebekah Hoyle), they latest bound nubile hanging from a hook down in the basement...
One might complain that the movie does suffer from a slight case of sexism, for though both girls and (mostly gay) men are killed, only the girls seem to be tormented and terrorized while, with but for one overweight exception, the men are mostly killed off-screen. Still, it must be said that the movie really isn't half as bloody and gory as it seems to be: what is present far more than any gore, and what also gets so under the viewer's skin, is the creepy sense of dread that infuses so much of the movie. This dread is equaled by an ever-present aura of repugnance and distastefulness — caused by the brutality shown the victims, the normalcy with which the family goes about their bloody activities,* the queasy incestuous sexuality, and the sense of hopelessness that threads through most of the movie — that continually leaves one feeling uneasy but never fully tips to instigating a total feeling disgust. (The filmmakers often tread a fine line in this respect, but somehow they never take it all too far.) As a result, the movie not only retains one's interest despite its oddly grimy feel — and, equally important, despite its often somewhat leisurely pacing, the movie also manages to maintain a level of tense suspense that is nicely complemented by a sense of gloomy inevitably.
On one level, The Hamiltons is very much a coming-of-age story: a tale of a troubled teen unable to deal with the actions of the family, and who is not only struggling to balance guilt and shame with family responsibility but is also having major problems coming to terms with what or who he is. Luckily, however, while it would seem that the Butcher Brothers do believe in strong family ties — this thematic aspect does indeed play a major part in the events of the movie — the Butcher Brothers are no John Hughes and definitely are not at all interested in corn or tugging at our tear ducts. The latter is almost mischievously and ironically underscored by the film's last ten minutes in which, in regards to the whole coming-of-age and/or family-bonds aspect, the filmmakers unfurl a truly crowning achievement: the odd feeling of hope that the family-reaffirming ending gives you also leaves you feeling slightly ill.
As mentioned earlier, The Hamiltons is an low-budget indi horror, and as such it also suffers both some of the normal flaws as well as enjoys some of the hoped-for advantages such a production can have. The strong (and tight) story is a definite plus, as is the solid direction and the occasional and brief (and thus enjoyable) slightly arty cinematographic interludes. The acting is often variable, the weakest possibly being that of the uptight, quasi-homo David (Samuel Child, who supposedly appears un-credited somewhere in Piranha 3D [2010]), but even he gets stronger towards the end and reveals greater depth to his character. Still, across the board the victims tend to be both the best actors and the most likeable characters; as a result (and to the advantage of the movie), they also gain the most sympathy from the viewer — something the Hamiltons, bound by their "family sickness", only gain towards the last ten minutes of the depressing and futile story when, for them at least (including the one locked away in the cellar always unseen but heard, hungry and ready to feed until almost the end), all's well that ends well... 
* That they are so brutal and "heartless" is easy to understand, however, when one takes into account the statement made somewhere along the way in the film about how the rest of the world is basically their mast, their fodder, and thus a lower animal. Mankind is hardly the most gentle of creatures when it comes to how they treat their own livestock or living food, be it hens or pigs or milk cows or any animal hunted, so why should it be otherwise when man is viewed as the food source?
The sequel six years later; watch with trepidation, for the trailer below reveals everything we tried not to reveal in our review...
The Thompsons (2012):

Monday, February 10, 2014

R.I.P.: Alexandra Bastedo, Part II


9 March 1946 — 12 January 2014

The mostly forgotten (outside of the Commonwealth) 60s sex symbol Alexandra Bastedo, a "devoted animal rights activist" and vegetarian, died the other day of cancer. Retrorambling says "Bastedo was born in Hove, Sussex, England. According to her official website, her mother was of French, German and Italian descent. Her Canadian-born father was of Spanish, Dutch, Scottish and native Indian extraction. She attended Brighton and Hove High School and Brighton School of Drama. Although most familiar to viewers of 1960s TV, she was also famous for her multilingual skills, speaking Italian, Spanish, French and German. This skill brought her to the door of 10 Downing Street to assist with translations and landed her the role of co-presenter of Miss World competitions with Peter Marshall in the 1980s." We here at A Wasted Life rather liked her exotic eyes, strong jaw and her prime 60s figure and parts of her filmogaphy, which we take a look at below...

Go here for Part I


 
I Can't... I Can't
(1969, dir. Piers Haggard)

 
Aka Wedding Night. Alexandra Bastedo's first cinematic project following the demise of The Champions was as Gloria in this forgotten, serious, if not now sorely dated drama directed by the author H. Rider Haggard's grandson, Piers Haggard, whose best-known films are probably Venom (1981 / trailer), The Blood on Satan's Claws (1971 / trailer) and The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980 / trailer). Contrary to what the poster and name would seem to indicate, we are not dealing with sexploitation here... or?
Over at the NY Times, Dan Pavlides explains the plot: "The moral dilemma of a young Catholic woman [named Mady (Tessa Wyatt of The Beast in the Cellar [1970 / trailer])] is intensified when her religion forbids the use of birth control. When her own mother dies during childbirth on her wedding day, the woman becomes fraught with a fury of anger, guilt and sexual dysfunction. The woman is forced to care for the seven children her mother left behind as the groom [named Joe O'Reilly (Dennis Waterman of Fright [1971 / trailer] and Scars of Dracula [1970 / trailer])] must leave on business, and the tirades of a narrow-minded priest (Martin Dempsey) further complicate the relationship between the newlyweds. This film is meant to pose serious questions of universal concern to those who follow the path of religious dogma insisted upon by the church."
The Irish Film Institute, which occasionally pulls its copy out of the vaults for a rare screening, has pointed out that when released, the Most Rev Dr. Lucey tried to have it withdrawn from the Cork Film Festival because "with its nude and semi-nude scenes it must lead to immodest thoughts". For a 2011 screening at the Institute, we are told by CineIreland, "The writer of the film, Lee Dunne was in attendance and gave a brief interview before the screening [...] in which he revealed that he still had not seen the film [...]." Supposedly, following the screening of the movie, which "is full of some classic Irish stereotypes", Dunne "stood up [...] and thanked everyone for not leaving." CineIreland is also of the opinion that "the scenes at the disco in 'swinging' London looking particularly dated"; the band playing was the Garden Odyssey Enterprise, a long-forgotten group that once (in 1969) had a mild success with the forgotten song Sad & Lonely.
Garden Odyssey Enterprise —  
Sad & Lonely:



My Lover My Son
(1970, dir John Newland)

 
Released in Germany as Inzest. One of those scandal films of yesteryear which, more than anything, are scandalous today only for being so boring. Supposedly it took the filmmakers two sources, Wilbur Stark's short story Second Level and Edward Grierson's novel Reputation for a Song, to come up with their story which, as TCM tersely puts it, is basically, about "a deranged woman [who] thinks her son is her dead lover." Romy Schneider (born September 1938) plays the mum, Francesca Anderson, while Dennis Waterman (born February 1948) plays the son, James Anderson — and indeed, the fact that the son is only about ten years younger than the mum is obvious in this soap opera of a drama.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is of the opinion that the main object of the director of My Lover, My Son "seems to be gaudiness, [as] the screenplay all but drowns its principals in cheap melodramatic thrills, and neither the mother's ultimate comeuppance nor the son's more natural romance with a local girl (Patricia Brake) can save the movie from deserved oblivion." The reviewer at the NY Times was also not really impressed by the narrative, calling the movie a "simple tale of a lad who loves his mother and murders his father". He goes on to say "My Lover, My Son adds a little pomp and lots of circumstance — to the extent that the boy only thinks he kills his father, and it isn't his father anyway, and he doesn't really love his mother, he really loves a nice girl he picks up in a London discothèque, who works for the B.B.C. and lives alone in a vine-covered houseboat on the Thames. On the whole, I prefer the pomp: the houseboat, the discothèque, handsome offices, romantic restaurants, a really terrific Tudor mansion with a baroque swimming pool, the London zoo, and the whole world looking like 6 o'clock of a spring morning over dewy lawns — mostly because the images are so dark and fuzzy. Although it is difficult to see My Lover, My Son and not wish you were somewhere else doing something different, the film has at least the grace to suggest what and where." Alexandra Bastedo shows up as "Cicely Clarkson"...
 From the Movie: 
Norrie Paramor & Mike Vickers — What's On Your Mind:



This, That & the Other
(1970, dir. Derek Ford)

Aka A Promise of Bed — produced by Stanley A. Long, we already took a look at this movie in the R.I.P. Career Review we did on him when he died two years ago. Alexandra Bastedo, as "Angie", is one of the many attractive babes to flit across the screen in this sexploitation comedy written and directed by Derek Ford who ended his life in literal penury; somewhere along the line of his downward spiral, along Alan Selwyn, he co-wrote — as "Selwyn Ford" —the immensely entertaining sleazy scandal book The Casting Couch.
Anyone for a swim?
This mod comedy is "Derek Ford's third and final film for Stanley Long [...]. TV Guide calls the film "An all-around sophomoric picture." Over at imdb, Gavcrimson (gavcrimson@tesco.net) explains that the film is a "Three-part 'trilogy of comedy'. In 'This,' Susan Stress (Vanda Hudson of Circus of Horrors [1960 / trailer], in her last film), a fading sex symbol attempts to win the lead in a movie by seducing the son of a film producer only to make a fool of herself in a case of mistaken identity. In 'That,' George (Victor Spinetti of Help! [1965 / trailer]) is a depressed middle-aged loner whose suicide attempt is interrupted by the arrival of a child-like hippy girl who proceeds to turn his life on its head.
Let's party!
While in 'The Other,' Harold (John Bird), an avid sex film fan and taxi driver, crashes his cab after being distracted by the leggy charms of his latest passenger. Suffering a thump on the head, Harold has bizarre hallucinations and ends up being chased around a forest by shapely girls." A given character of one interludes acts as the linking crossover to the next.
Susan Stress takes a bath:




Tibetana
(1970, dir. John Peyser)

 
In Alexandra Bastedo's next equally obscure project, she shared space on the posters with the movie's real star, Bonanza's eternally missing son Pernell Roberts. Aka as The Kashmiri Run, four years later director John Peyser went on to make his masterpiece, the far more memorable exploitation movie, The Centerfold Girls (1974 / trailer); scriptwriter Jameson Brewer went on to help pen the far more memorable black comedy Arnold (1973 / trailer); and co-star Julián Mateos went on to do the more entertaining slice of true Eurocrap horror, Demon Witch Child (1975 / full movie).
 
The 1995 copy of Video Movie Guide rates The Kashmiri Run as a turkey, saying that the plot involves an "American adventurer in the Far East [who] is commissioned to take two scientists to India and bring back a load of yak skins." Everywhere on the web, everyone else simply reprints Jason Ankeny's one-line plot description: "An American adventurer leads another man and a girl on an escape route out of Chinese communist-occupied Tibet." Only TV Cowboys says something else: "Pernell wears a slouch hat, he gets to sleep with 2 women (any man's fantasy) and ends up with the girl. All this while running around in Tibet with a Chinese general chasing after him." We would assume that Alexandra Bastedo is the gal he ends up with...
Poseidon's Underworld was nice enough to supply the above photo of the bathing Pernell, saying "Actor Pernell Roberts only made a small handful of feature film appearances in his career. I can't figure out where this publicity shot of him bathing comes from! [...] The best bet is 1970's The Kashmiri Run, a little-known Spanish-made film about an ex-mountain climber trying to help a scientist get out of Tibet before the Chinese invade the country."
The first 17.5 minutes of Tibetana:



La novia ensangrentada
(1972, dir. Vicente Aranda)

 Trailer:
Aka The Blood Spattered Bride* — that Eurotrash classic we all know and love. This is also the movie that made us notice her: who can ever see the beach scene of her discovery and fail to remember her? (The GIF of the scene seen below, as well as that further down, comes from the blogspot Cult Movies.) Director Aranda went on to do the screenplay to León Klimovsky's People Who Own the Dark (1976 / trailer).
Like so many a classic and non-classic lezzie (and some not so lezzie) vampire film — most notably: Carl Creyer's poetically stunning Vampyr (1932 / full masterpiece); Roger Vadim's Blood and Roses (1960 / trailer); the Christopher Lee movie Crypt of the Vampire (1964 / French trailer) and Roy Ward Baker's The Vampire Lovers (1970 / trailer) with Ingrid PittThe Blood Spattered Bride is based on Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Gothic novella of circumspect lesbian vampire love, Carmilla, which hit the presses a good 25 years before Bram Stoker's better-known but less well written classic Dracula. For decades, The Blood Spattered Bride was only available in English in a highly butchered version (83 min long instead of the original 101 min), but at the latest since Anchor Bay Entertainment brought out an uncut DVD version, the movie can be enjoyed in its full Eurotrash artiness.
Like so many, the irreverent and oft-falsely informed website Mr Skin confuses the fictional Carmilla with the historical figure Countess Bathory — that they are not one and the same is one reason why we do not list Harry Kümel's masterpiece Daughters of Darkness (1971 / trailer) above — and gives the skinny of the movie as follows: "The Blood Spattered Bride actually has very little to do with Countess Bathory, but it does hold the honor of having one of the greatest horror-film names of all time. Maribel Mart plays half of a newlywed couple that [...] end up getting too close to a Sapphically inclined villainess (Alexandra Bastedo) who has young Maribel cleaning her carpet like a Stanley Steemer before her husband can say 'Billy Jean King!' Shag-slurping isn't the only pursuit Maribel is led into by Bastedo, and soon the two gal pals are planning a grim fate for Maribel's cuckolded husband. Luckily he finds his wife (naked) and Alexandra (naked) while the two are sleeping off a night of bloodletting and bush licking in a king-size coffin and sends them both to hell in a love casket."
 
Radio Anthrocide lists The Blood Spattered Bride between Daughters of Darkness (1971) and Lucio Fulci's The New York Ripper (1982 / trailer) in part six its list of The Most Disturbing Films Ever Made, explaining: "While the Spanish Horror / Giallo industry was always very much in the shadow of the Titans in Italy, there were moments when the Spaniards matched the intelligence, style, luridness and sexual license of the completely uninhibited Italians. Such is the case with Blood Spattered, one of the weirdest films I've ever seen and a completely original and enjoyable take on the Carmilla tale. Starring a splendidly lovely Maribel Martin and including a remarkable performance by the unearthly adolescent beauty of Maria-Rosa Rodriguez (and you just wait 'till you see what she is all about, buddy), this is a unique and upsetting film of sexual violence, grim abuse, male cuckoldry and cruelty and... scintillating lesbianism. Featuring one of the most truly remarkable Surrealistic scenes in Giallo-inspired cinema — one that literally comes out of nowhere like in a dream — the supernatural element to this film is so deftly handled that you almost can believe what your seeing could be real. And the final scenes, the pay-off as it were... I was just completely stunned by how all this ended up, and I promise that you will be too."
Mondo Digital took a look at the restored DVD of this veiled critique of fascism and said "Fully restored to its original perverse glory, this film will never be perceived in quite the same way again. [...] In its familiar, censored 80 minute form, The Blood Spattered Bride is a fascinating but incomplete horrific fantasy laced with unexpected surrealism and nudity. This restoration significantly reinstates a number of graphic sequences, including a jolting amount of frontal nudity and genital-related violence, but it also greatly improves the pacing of the film. [...] In any case, the film itself will not appeal to all tastes, thanks to the slow pacing and disorienting storyline, but game viewers will be rewarded with a unique vampire tale graced with hefty dollops of eroticism. The strange, jittery music score creates unease from the opening scene, and the evocative imagery of director Aranda [...] wouldn't look out of place in one of Jean Rollin's vampire sagas."
The cut version of The Blood Spattered Bride was a bit of a grindhouse hit in 1974 when it was shown as part of a double feature with I Dismember Mama (1974).
Trailer to the double feature:
* Which, we must point out, should actually be The Blood-Spattered Bride.



The Starlost
(1973, various directors)

 
Full episode:
The print adverts shown below come from the blogspot Space: 1970. Alexandra Bastedo had a guest appearance in episode 10 of this Canadian science fiction series conceived by that walking Napoleon-complex known as Harlan Ellison; as possibly to be expected, he was displeased with the changes in his concept so by the time this noticeably low budget series — it was even shot on video back in a time when most TV shows were still shot on film — hit the airwaves, he had his credit changed to his well-known pseudonym "Cordwainer Bird". The series was in no way inspired by the silent fiction film Silent Running (1972 / trailer), which had been released a year earlier, because we all know Ellison never borrows from others, only others borrow from him. Ben Bova and Douglas Trumbull (the director of Silent Running) were also on hand during the conceptional phase, but like Ellison they left their posts as the budget got smaller.
The basic plotline involved a giant spaceship ("The Ark") consisting of a multitude of interlocked domes, each of which containing the remnants of a different culture from the planet Earth, a planet long dead. Due to an asteroid disaster, the original crew in charge died, and the various domes have advanced socially alone and separate for hundreds of years until three Amish-like upstarts not only find out the truth (for which they are forced to flee their dome) but also find out that the Ark is flying towards an unavoidable collision with a sun...
Over at imdb, Jeremy Morrow (tashimon@hotmail.com) points out: "Often perceived as one of the most low budget, awful sci-fi series ever made, it has a cult following, especially with Canadian sci-fi fans. Known for its all video, low budget special effects and wooden acting, it has a certain charm, even if the pacing of the show is viciously slow. It's also notable as being the second Canadian sci-fi series ever created." 16 of 24 planned episodes of the series, which among others starred Keir Dullea (of Brain Waves [1983]) and his Castro-Clone moustache, were aired; two un-aired episodes should exist in limbo somewhere. Ten of the episodes were re-edited and combined in the 1980s to create a series of three TV movies: The Starlost: The Beginning, The Starlost: Deception and The Starlost: The Alien Oro.
And speaking of the last TV movie, it included episode 10, The Alien Oro, directed by a TV director named Joseph L. Scanlan, which originally aired on 3 November 1973 and, aside from Bastedo in the supplementary babe roll as Idona, featured the least Shakespearean of all the original cast of Star Trek (1966-69), Walter Koenig, as the titular alien Oro. The plot, basically, has the lead trio of the show discovering a stranded alien named Oro who, "dressed in a gold lame jump-suit with a cheap motorcycle helmet" and with the assistance of Idona, is stripping the parts he needs to repair his crash-landed spaceship from the Ark so that he can fly home. Rather a self-centered snob, Oro knows the future fate of the Ark but doesn't give a rat's ass. Idona, who is actually also an escapee from another dome, sort of gets romantic with the second formerly Amish-like upstart male lead (Robin Ward), but the romance is doomed: she's got a deadly sickness and her only hope to survive supposedly lies on Oro's home planet, Xar. Oro returned without Idona on 15 December 1973 in the follow-up episode, The Return of Oro (dir., Francis Chapman). 



Odio mi cuerpo
(1974, dir. León Klimovsky)

 Short scene:
Aka I Hate My Body. This Spanish science fiction horror movie was the next foreign-language film of the linguistically gifted Alexandra Bastedo — aside from English, she could also speak Italian, Spanish, French and German — after The Blood Spatter Bride. And this time around she was directed by no one less than the famously prolific Argentina-born auteur León Klimovsky (16 October 1906 — 8 April 1996), the man behind a countless number of much-loved Spanish cult movies, eight of which he made with the even more-loved Paul Naschy. With over 70 titles to his name, it is difficult to pinpoint Klimovsky's best, but currently Wikipedia sees The Strange Love of the Vampires (1975 / opening), The Dracula Saga (1973 / trailer), and The Vampires' Night Orgy (1974 / trailer) as classics. Nobody, however, who has seen this rare and difficult to obtain movie seems to view it as one of his best. It should be noted that the scratchy print of I Hate My Body available at Something Weird, at 82 minutes, is a full 15 minutes shorter than the original Spanish length...

"I think like a man! I act like a man! This female form is a stranger to me! I hate my own body!"
Leta / Ernest (Alexandra Bastedo)


In their great entry "The 50 Most Fascinating Gender-bending Characters of Psychotronic Film", the Daily Grindhouse calls I Hate My Body "a strange mess of sleaze, a weird exploitation flick that wants to make a point about misogyny while simultaneously wallowing in it", which makes the movie sound better than they probably wanted it to.
Bloody Pit of Rod, which calls this movie "a pretty good but not great slice of sleazy trash", offers the following plot description: "Philandering husband Ernest (Manuel de Blas of Slugs [1988] and The Ghost Galleon  [1974 / trailer]) is out partying in a nightclub with some co-workers one night. He gets in his car to take one of the secretaries home for the evening for a little mattress bounce but has overestimated his ability to drive while drunk. One crash later the secretary is dead and he is on an operating table breathing his last. Enter mad scientist/doctor of insane medicine Adolph (Narciso Ibáñez Menta of Obras maestras del terror [1960 / full film in Spanish], Sólo se muere dos veces [1997 / Spanish trailer] and, a directorial effort, The House that Screamed [1969 / trailer]) who is pressed by his nurse into continuing his concentration camp experiments on poor Ernest. A gleeful Adolph takes the fellow's brain out of his dying body and pops it into the body of Leta (Alexandra Bastedo). It seems that she'd had a terminal brain tumor but her body is in fine shape so it's a perfect match — right? You would think so — especially if you were a Nazi doctor hell-bent on proving his mad theories to the world. Of course if you're a macho man suddenly placed inside a woman's body you might think otherwise..."

"Men are the bosses! They talk about sexual equality but it's all a dirty lie!"
Peter Muller (Byron Mabe)


One of the few who appears to have liked what truly sounds like an interesting movie is some guy named John Bernhard, who says: "Here is a strange film indeed.....mixing feminism, sci-fi medical experiments and good old fashioned exploitation elements. The Spanish excel in the field of mix and match genres and Klimovsky made just about every kind of movie imaginable. [...] What follows is one of the more inventive male / female switch films that I have seen. Throughout the film, whenever Alexandra's character is sexually harassed, the viewer sees Manuel getting pawed. He still feels and thinks like a man, and like the title says, he hates his (hot) body and can't handle a guy shoving his tongue down her/his throat. It's one of the films many effective techniques. Klimovsky co wrote the screenplay too, so I think he was trying to say something here, I'm just not sure what. Or I was, but the abrupt ending threw me, it seemed out of place (and pretty harsh)...."



 El clan de los Nazarenos
(1975, dir. Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent)

It would seem that this movie never received an English-language release, but to translate the title, it's called "The Clan of the Nazarenes". Director Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent also made the super nasty Chorizo Western Cut-Throats Nine (1972 / trailer). Alexandra Bastedo plays Arima, the female fly in the ointment of the movie. The plot, from what we could decipher from a few computer-generated translations of Spanish descriptions, concerns a monk named Chris (Javier Escrivá) who loses his faith, leaves the monastery and forms a ruthless and murderous criminal gang that stop at nothing, his concept that since he never saw God while doing good he might while doing evil. "Better to see you in your wrath than to die without having known you."
That quote, by the way, was taken from the only English-language review we could find online, written by one Nzoog Wahrlfhehen, who wasn't thrilled by the movie, complaining that Chris as a character was under-drawn, his motivations too vague. Nzoog also went on to say: "Chris's underlings are more persuasively drawn: a self-destructive youth (Luca Bonicalzi), a punch-drunk former boxer (real-life fighter Luis Folledo) and a vocational murderer (Tony Isbert), plus an enigmatic newcomer (Antonio Sabato). A detonating element in the storyline involves a woman (Alexandra Bastedo) who, after being found unconscious on the beach, is taken by Cris into the gang's rural quarters. The rest is a tepid tale of the gang disintegrating, variously on account of character flaws or duplicity, while the ending manages to be both predictable and unsatisfying as it closes in on characters that had hitherto played comparatively secondary roles, as if the scriptwriters had felt, after what must have been some bad planning, that they had to close the film somehow."
Among the other females to populate the background is the tragic Sandra Mozarowsky (as Magda), seen above, who may or may not have been done away with in the name of protecting the Spanish Royal Family....
The music of El clan de los Nazarenos was composed by Stelvio Cipriani, the man behind the music of Nightmare City (1980), A Bay of Blood (1971 / trailer), Baron Blood (1972 / trailer), The Big Alligator (1979 / German trailer) and Tragic Ceremony (1972 / trailer), among many other wonderfully trashy films.
 Stelvio Cipriani —  
Papaya, Love Goddess of the Cannibals (1978):



The Ghoul
(1975, dir. Freddie Francis)

Aka Night Of The Ghoul and The Thing In The Attic. A movie, oddly enough, often confused with the public domain B&W Boris Karloff movie from 1933 also entitled The Ghoul (full film), remade in 1961 as What a Carve Up! Hello, out there: while the Karloff movie and Francis both films may be British products, this movie here, however, is in color, stars Peter Cushing, has a completely different plot, and is not in public domain.
The Ghoul was the third movie produced by the Tyburn Film Productions, an English horror movie production house set up by Kevin Francis, the son of Freddie Francis, and due to its rather old fashioned productions — its films owed more to the then-dying Hammer than, say, the more contemporarily exploitive movies of Pete Walker — Tyburn folded a few films later. Keeping everything in the family, The Ghoul was scripted by no one less than Anthony Hinds (19 September 1922 — 30 September 2013), the son of Will Hammer, the co-founder of Hammer Films. When Hammer died, Hinds took over his father's share of the business and, as The Telegraph put it, "was the producer and screenwriter chiefly responsible for the Hammer company’s indelible association with horror films".
For The Ghoul, Hinds mined his past productions and then regurgitated a reworking of one of Hammer's more atmospheric but equally disappointing horror movies, The Reptile (1966). More than one website out there incorrectly lists Alexandra Bastedo as playing the evil housekeeper in The Ghoul, but they are wrong: that would be the much older Gwen Watford (of Taste the Blood of Dracula [1970 / trailer]) as Ayah, while Bastedo plays — for a lack of a better description — the Final Girl, Angela.
 Trailer to The Reptile (1966), 
which "inspired" The Ghoul (1975):
Terror Trap, typically terse, offers the following plot description: "Peter Cushing is top notch in this effective British chiller about a former clergyman who keeps a secret possession locked up in the attic... his crazed flesh-hungry son who feeds upon the visitors!"
Horrorpedia says: "The film was set, interestingly, in the 1920s jazz age (taking advantage of sets built for The Great Gatsby [1974 / trailer]), with Ian McCullough (of Zombie Holocaust [1980 / trailer]), Bastedo and Veronica Carlson (see above) playing rich kids who challenge each other to a race to Land's End, only to become lost on the moors (which moors isn't made clear). They are attacked by red herring John Hurt and offered shelter by Cushing, who has a sinister Indian servant, a private chapel and mutters a lot about corrupt Eastern religious cults — so clearly nothing good will come of this. [Nevertheless], it turns out to be a somewhat tedious film. Devoid of shocks or any sense of style, it features listless performances, bored direction from Francis (who clearly didn't feel the need to up his game just because his son was paying the bills) and seems incredibly dated for the time. Very little happens, and when it does, it's handled with an overly genteel style."
British Horror Films, however, though they call Bastedo a "horrifically bad actress", is of a differing opinion: "Beautifully shot, with fog-shrouded moors, a lovely period setting and a racist 'white-woman-blacked-up-to-play-an-Indian' bit of casting, The Ghoul is a top-notch Gothic horror in the Hammer tradition, which unfortunately by the time it was made was woefully out of whack with the trends at the time. Still, with the benefit of hindsight, it's a cracker. [...] Well, you can guess what happens next, can't you? Bumpings-off galore, a fair amount of blood letting… yup, all the things we love. [...] A late night must-see."
  

Go here for Part III.
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