Demons 2 (1986)

Lamberto Bava, Dario Argento, and the demons may be back, but it’s just not quite the same this go around. For lack of a better term, I have sort of a love-hate relationship with Demons 2. On the one hand it successfully taps into the style, make-up, and mayhem of the original; but on the other hand it has almost none of the gore or bite that made that film so much fun. What should have been a crazy sequel set in the apocalyptic world we were left with at the end of Demons, ends up being a fairly tame rehash of virtually the same story with even less of a plot (if you can believe that). There are still some things to like here, but it definitely feels as if the filmmakers just wanted to quickly churn out whatever they could to ride the success of the first film.

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The Conformist (1970)

Made when he was still in his twenties, Bertolucci’s The Conformist is easily one of the most visually complex and rich films you will ever see. Every frame is so intricately planned and executed, it’s truly an amazing feat. Sure some of it may feel like Bertolucci trying to assert himself as a filmmaker and show off what he can do, but heck, if this is how he shows off, then he needs to do it more often.

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La Commare Secca (1962)

Bernardo Bertolucci was only 21 when he made La Commare Secca, taking over a script from Pier Paolo Pasolini, whom he had been working for as an assistant. Despite some interesting visuals, this feels very much like a first film. It doesn’t have the Bertolucci flare that I dig so much, it feels like he was trying to replicate the neorealist style of the time and make a “safe” film for his first outing. You can see bits of his later style peeking through occasionally, but he definitely holds back and as a result the film comes across as stiff and, with all due respect, quite boring. Literally nothing happens. Okay, well I guess a prostitute is murdered at the beginning and all the “action”, if you want to call it that, is centered around that murder.

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My Name is Nobody (1973)

(Note that this was a review written for Film-Talk’s World Cinema Club, so it contains plot information and spoilers.)

One words comes to mind when I think of My Name is Nobody, silly…pure, unadulterated silliness. But don’t let that put you off from seeing it. The film not only succeeds in cleverly spoofing the Spaghetti Western genre, but it is a marvelous addition to that genre in its own right. Henry Fonda, in his final western, plays the role straight as can be; while the charming, yet goofy Terence Hill is the source for most of the laughter. The jokes are never dumbed down, which is quite refreshing in this day and age, although there is some slapstick. Most of the humor stems from situational comedy and a lot of puns.

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Sabata (1969)

(Note that this was a review written for Film-Talk’s World Cinema Club, so it contains plot information and possible spoilers.)

Sabata is the exact kind of movie I think of when I hear the term “Spaghetti Western”. It uses all the elements from the traditional Hollywood westerns, but with a decent amount of Italian quirkiness thrown in. It has the extravagent sets and costumes and the very stereotypical storyline…but the characters and action are ridiculously over the top.

Sabata (Lee Van Cleef) mosies into town and immediately gathers an entourage that consists of the town drunk and a mute, acrobatic, Indian. He hits up the local saloon and patrols the craps table. He spots out a cheater and shoots up his loaded dice right on the table…and apparently none of the locals have a problem with this. He is instantly popular and trusted by the townspeople.

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