Saturday, December 25, 2010


The first issue of my horror-mystery-fantasy film magazine, LATARNIA FANTASTIQUE INTERNATIONAL, is out now, with features on euro-cult films and personalities that may be of interest to readers of this blog:

The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism
Naschy Returns in Dual Role
Spirit Mountain by Becquer
The Many Faces of Barbara Steele
The Andres Resino Interview

Number 1 is a limited first edition limiting printing of 250 copies, all-color, 24 pages on 80 pound paper. Ordering info:

USA: Cost of issue is $7.50, plus $2 first class shipping/handling and bagging for a total of $9.50.

Canada: Add .50, for a total of $10.

Foreign: $11.50 total.

If you want your magazine boarded, please add $2, but that doesn't guarantee that postal delivery will not find a way to bend it.

Note: Once stock starts getting depleted, cost per issue will probably go up.

PayPal ID for payment:

Snail mail: M. Lipinski, PO Box 2398, NYC, NY 10009. Please make check/money orders payable to M. Lipinski.

There's also a Facebook page for the magazine.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Coming in February 2011

This is a fairly new film--from 2005. Certainly the most recent film that Mya has put out on DVD. Trailer below.

TRAILER Ufficiale

chiamami salomè | Myspace Video

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Mystery of ONE 7 MOVIES

Four DVDs were recently announced coming from a new company--One 7 Movies--SCANDALOUS GILDA, ALIEN FROM THE DEEP, CHINESE KAMASUTRA, THE SINS OF MADAME BOVARY. All Italian films or, in the case of THE SINS OF MADAME BOVARY, partially Italian. The cover design replicated Mya's, as did the policy of offering Italian audio but no English subtitles for the Italian audio if an English audio track was present. So what's going on? The official word from Mya was "no comment," but a sheet from distributor CAV that came with the review mailings of SCANDALOUS GILDA indicated a Mya connection:

It is our privilege to introduce a new label to the U.S. marketplace. One that builds upon the best traditions of Italian and European cinema, and is certain to gain cult status in the states quickly.

One 7 Movies was founded by one of the original partners of Mya Communications and No Shame Films. Expect the most classic, the most cutting edge, and the most sought after comedies, thrillers, science fiction epics, erotica, and much more...

All films have been beautifully transfered [sic] from original vault materials, and sleeve art design is eye-catching to say the least.

[Hat-tip: Matt Bauer at AVManiacs]

So there you have it, if that explains anything really. These days there seems to be more and more mystery behind the upstart companies bringing out foreign cult DVDs. I expect the "original vault materials" will be PAL DVDs. Ah, well....

Oh, and these are priced $5 to $10 more than the already high-priced Mya DVDs (whose newer releases had a price reduction to $19.95). The One 7 DVDs will be going for $29.95, unless you find a cheaper online retailer.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Coming in January 2011

Mya's first release of 2011 will be ALLIGATOR, the Sergio Martino film from 1973, starring Barbara Bach, Claudio Cassinelli, Mel Ferrer. The film had a previous release in the United States under the NoShame label. English and Italian audio options, with optional English subtitles. Original English and Italian trailers included, as well as a poster and still gallery.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Despite the presence of Ornella Muti, FORBIDDEN PASSION is not an Italian film, but actually the 1973 Spanish CEBO PARA UNA ADOLESCENTE (BAIT FOR A TEENAGER). Spanish horror fans will recognize some of the names behind the film and in front of it. Directed by Francisco Lara Polop (as Paco Lara), the helmer of MURDER MANSION (LA MANSION DE LA NIEBLA) is joined by cinematographer Raul Perez Cubero, who did such a fine job on Naschy's COUNT DRACULA'S GREAT LOVE and HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE, with the musical scoring belonging to THE MUMMY'S REVENGE composer Alfonso G. Santisteban. It's amusing spotting the lesser players, such as MURDER MANSION's Yelena Samarina, and Angel Mendendez, who appeared in many brief roles in Spanish horror films, including a role as that blood-spewing guy viciously attacked by Waldemar Daninsky in a cabin in LA MARCA DEL HOMBRE LOBO.

This is, however, Ornella Muti's showcase, one of her earliest films, and despite the fact that Muti offers no nude scenes (forget the DVD cover shot), she's a beautiful and captivating presence--and sweetly innocent in this film. Craggy Phillipe Leroy, a magnetic actor who was previously seen on DVD here in the Mya release, FAMILY SCANDAL, is fun to watch as the big-shot "engineer," who hires Muti to be his secretary--and begins a seduction of the naive girl, ultimately turning her into his mistress.

The incidents in the story are rather predictable (yes, a nice-guy young man turns up to win the secretary's heart), but the film is still of interest to watch because of Muti and Leroy.

If one thought, however, that CEBO PARA UNA ADOLESCENTE was just mere frivolous romance/drama, even a "chic flick," one would be mistaken, because there's an undercurrent of an anti-establishment message that reaches a climax at the end of the film when the engineer is given an award for his accomplishments. At that moment you suddenly realize, if you are aware of Spain and Western society in those years, that you've been handed a bit of a subversive element from Polop and his screenwriters, Francisco and Manuel Summers. Those building-in-progress institutionalized projects that are featured throughout the film take on a different perspective then.

The working title of CEBO PARA UNA ADOLESCENTE was EL BENEFACTOR (THE BENEFACTOR), which further underlines the film's anti-establishment aura. Surprisingly, the film was very successful film in Spain, with over a million spectators, and may have been a reason for Polop to move away from the horror genre. The Italian title of the film was LA SECRETARIA.

CEBO PARA UNA ADOLESCENTE saw previous DVD release in Europe, so Mya perhaps used that source. The print is rather worn, lacking any boldness in its original colors, and, on occasion, splicy. Here it's offered up widescreen anamorphic, in its Italian dubbing, with optional English subtitles.

The DVD is available from

Monday, August 23, 2010

October & November Releases

We're back after a little vacation from the blog to announce two forthcoming releases from Mya, both sequel films: DESIRABLE TEACHER 2 in October 2010 and THE FISHMEN AND THEIR QUEEN the following month in November. Note that this is the first time that only one title per month is being released by Mya.

DESIRABLE TEACHER 2 (PIERINO COLPISCE ANCORA) is a sequel to a previous release from Mya, DESIRABLE TEACHER (Italian title: PIERINO CONTRO TUTTI, 1981). The sequel, released the following year, also stars Alvaro Vitali as Pierino.

THE FISHMEN AND THEIR QUEEN (LA REGINA DEGLI UOMINI PESCE) is Sergio Martino's follow-up to his very popular THE ISLAND OF THE FISHMEN (L'ISOLA DEGLI UOMINI PESCE, 1979). The 1985 film is set in the future and does not star any of the actors/actresses from the earlier film. Certainly not as well considered as the first "fishmen" film, it will still be welcome to have this rarer movie available for viewing and study.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Umberto Lenzi Responds

I had a chance today of asking by-now legendary director Umberto Lenzi a few questions about his early career in making adventure, pirate and peplum films. This is an area of Italian film history that needs more attention and research. These films traveled throughout the world and were seen by millions, and are remembered by many with fondness. While we, euro-film fans, generally talk about Italy's gothic horrors, spaghetti westerns and gialli, it was these adventure and historical romances that were the beginning of Italy's domination of film product available to many countries, including the United States.

I was interested in whether Lenzi initiated the production of these type of films, which for him (as director) started with QUEEN OF THE SEAS (1961), and he answered that as a young director at the time, he could not choose the projects he would be involved in. Regarding Emilio Salgari, the author of the Sandokan novels and other Far East adventure tales like LA MONTAGNA DI LUCE, yes, in his childhood he was a fan of Salgari's books.

Umberto Lenzi worked with three recognized peplum actors during this period--Steve Reeves, Richard Harrison and Alan Steel (Sergio Ciani)--so I asked for a comparison, and Lenzi responded that only Harrison was a good actor.

Lenzi also added that he had many adventures shooting these Salgari films in the swamps of Celyon and in Singapore and Malaysia, but the worst experiences were with leeches and the terrible heat of those locations.

Finally, I asked, do these films hold a special warmth in his heart after so many years:

"In my heart I have a special warm place only for the actresses."

Molte grazie, Umberto, for your time and all the entertaining films you have made in your career!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

SANDOK - review

The second I saw that this film was in scope presentation and that the colors were fine, I smiled my considerable satisfaction. I'd been expecting the aspect ratio of Mya's newest DVD release to be strangled to a 1.85:1, but not so, thankfully. SANDOK--original title LA MONTAGNA DI LUCE (THE MOUNTAIN OF LIGHT), which I'll use in this review--is not the first NTSC DVD release of a film based on the work of Emilio Salgari (the silent film CABIRIA has that honor), but it's a very welcome introduction to the niche genre of family-friendly jungle adventures in the euro cinema of the 1960s.

Emilio Salgari (1862-1911). For a while, I've been fascinated by the Italian films based on the works of Salgari, an Italian author who is unknown in the United States, but an institution in Italy and many other parts of the world. Salgari's most famous romances take place in the Far East, particularly Malaysia. Euro-film fans would recognize a few of the movies based on his novels, in particular the two SANDOKAN films starring Steve Reeves and both directed by Umberto Lenzi, who also helmed the 1965 LA MONTAGNA DI LUCE. Lenzi, along with director Luigi Capuano, represented the Salgari film during the 60s, with Capuano employing Ray Danton and Guy Madison in major roles, while Lenzi, or his producers, chose former peplum actors Reeves and Richard Harrison.

Last year I read Salgari's MYSTERY OF THE BLACK JUNGLE in the commendable though slightly abridged/censored English translation by Nico Lorenzutti. What struck me most about that Salgari novel is that the hero had a wavering moral compass and did not hold back expressing his fears.

LA MONTAGNA DI LUCE also has a hero whose moral compass is dictated by circumstances and self-interest, though his fear factor is almost zero. Richard Harrison plays Alan Foster, a care-free gambler/traveler/thief/scoundrel who loses all his money in a game with the powerful Rajah Sindar. Owing the Rajah more money than he can ever hope to acquire, he must pay back the debt or face certain death. The Rajah informs him of one possibility of payment: acquiring the heavily protected "Mountain of Light," a fabulous diamond that holds significant religious value, as well as unheard of monetary worth. The debt will be dismissed if Foster gets the diamond for the Rajah. Foster escapes from the Rajah's palace, where he was imprisoned and, seduced by the wealth the jewel represents, proceeds on a journey to try to steal the diamond for himself. Along the way he meets up with Sitama, a faking fakir, played by dance choreographer and actor Wilbert Bradley. (Bradley is splendid in this film.) The two team up to acquire this coveted jewel that can bring incredible riches to its owner and guarantee a life of pleasure and indolence.

The witty interplay between Foster and Sitama, the balancing roles of Western anti-hero and a colorful member of the indigenous lower-class, reminded me much of "Blondie" and Tuco from THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. And this would make sense as Sergio Leone and his writing crew would have been Salgari fans in their youth. Any in-depth analysis of the spaghetti western will certainly have to address the influence that Salgari's works had on Italian filmmakers like Leone.

There is a love interest that evolves later in the film, and this is the film's weakest element, as it's one of those affairs that only is real in cinema: enduring love based on a few moments of meeting.

The film proceeds at a relaxed, even pace, not encumbered by the need to rush things (a sin of much filmmaking these days), until the near end, when it winds up too quickly, so much so that the viewer may want to rewatch the last ten minutes or so. An amusing send-off alerts us to a commentary on colonialism that comes from left field, leaving one thinking for a moment if Salgari's novel may had more substance that just being a simple adventure tale.

LA MONTAGNA DI LUCE is a splendid adventure tale, the kind young audiences in the 1960s would have loved on Saturday matinees or TV showings, and that older audiences would have sat through with appreciation, whether they were viewing the film in New York or Bombay. Exotic family entertainment, much distanced from the giallo, cannibal and horror films that Lenzi would be involved with later in his career, and a sumptuous set-design and on-location presentation wonderfully showcased by the cinematography of Angelo Lotti and Lenzi's crisp direction.

With Sandokan being Saligari's most famous chartcer, Mya decided to retitle LA MONTAGNA DI LUCE as SANDOK. But there is no "Sandok" in the film and the film has no relation to the character Sandokan. Unfortunately, there is no English audio track present (there must be one in existence, as the film was released in an English version under the titles JUNGLE ADVENTURER and TEMPLE OF A THOUSAND LIGHTS). The English subtitles are generally fine, with some occasional grammatical pitfalls. Colors are quite good, and, as noted, the aspect ratio is correct.

LA MONTAGNA DI LUCE opens up American viewers to an important phase of Italian B film history and Salgari's romances. Hopefully Mya will follow up this Salgari adventure with more Salgaris, perhaps the original Sandokan films from Lenzi--SANDOKAN, LA TIGRE DI MOMPRACEM (SANDOKAN THE GREAT) and I PIRATI DELLA MALESIA (SANDOKAN: PIRATE OF MALAYSIA). If not, then other adventure romances from the Italian cinema of the 1960s will certainly be appreciated by euro-cult enthusiasts.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sandokan Fever!

I'm currently writing a review of Mya's newest DVD, SANDOK, a film based on a novel by Emilio Salgari, and felt motivated to put on this blog one of my favorite YouTube clips: a sing-along of the Sandokan song, written by the De Angelis brothers for the mega-hit SANDOKAN TV series from Italy. The Sandokan character was Salgari's most known creation. (Sandokan, btw, has nothing to do with the SANDOK film; the only connection is Salgari).

TV's Sandokan, Kabir Bedi, is the surprised and moved actor during this clip.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Coming in September 2010

THE GIRL FROM CORTINA is the 1994 LA RAGAZZA DI CORTINA, a Sergio Martino production with brother Luciano scripting and Maurizio Vanni directing. A late entry in the giallo genre, it appears.


RED HOT ZORRO is the 1972 French/Belgium film LES AVENTURES GALANTES DE ZORRO. Jean-Michel Dhermay stars as the legendary Spanish "fox," with Gilbert Roussel directing. But wait... The underpinning of the film is actually THE THREE SWORDS OF ZORRO, with the Dhermay scenes being bawdy inserts of Zorro chasing women and having sex. A Spanish-Italian co-production, THE THREE SWORDS OF ZORRO (1963) starred Guy Stockwell as the masked avenger. Ricardo Blasco directing. (Hat-tip to Pieter Boven of 10,000 Bullets.)

One assumes that Mya's release will be taken from a French DVD released in 2003. That release was not English friendly, so expect English subs with this one.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Call for the NTSC DVD release of INHIBITION

If I were to select a short list of films that best represent euro-cult, Paolo Poeti's INHIBITION would be one of the primary films on such a list.

One of euro-cult's most memorable faces, Ivan Rassimov, plays Peter Smart, who arrives in Morocco in cowboy hat and boots, American jeans, a supply of cigarillos, and a cool laconic attitude. His only baggage seems to be a suit and dress shoes, which he carries over his shoulder in a suit-carrier, as if it were a saddle. Smart is an identifiable character from the euro-cult pantheon who has to live by his wits and whatever particular skill he has that sets him above others. For Smart, it isn't a swift gun as his Western predecessors may have had, but acute gambling skill.

Claudine Beccarie plays Carol Levis, a rich, obnoxious widow, who suffered sexual indignities at the hands of her sadistic husband. Primed to give back the hate she received, Carol now cruelly lords over her servants and her young female companion and sex toy, Anna, played by Ilona Staller (future porn star name: Cicciolina). Carol's world is cold and brutal, though comforted by wealth and luxury and yes-men and yes-women. When Peter Smart enters her world, a challenge erupts. Who will win this battle--Carol or Peter? And what lessons will be learned, if any?

There's an awkward disparity in Beccarie's face. Some would consider her unattractive, but she's just right for this film and its need for a bitchy European femme. Beccarie had a provocative film career, starting off in 1972 in porn shorts. Well into her porn career, she consented to do the self-revealing EXHIBITION, an art-house film that managed to get shown in Lincoln Center and reviewed in Time Magazine. Time's critic, J.C., wrote:

She is a woman of principle. That is, Claudine Beccarie disdains foul language and absolutely draws the line at performing sex acts with animals or film producers.

She will carry on, either solo or in various combinations, almost any other amorous activity, provided it is being filmed by professionals and the price is right. She refuses, however, to discuss her politics on camera. Too personal Exhibition, a French documentary about Claudine's life, loves and heavy thoughts, has certain pretenses at social and psychological significance. The heroine may be observed, shedding tears in closeup, as she tells how she was raped by an uncle when she was only 15. This assault precipitated a descent into prostitution and an unfortunate marriage in which her soldier husband insisted on having a child against his wife's express wishes. "He tied me down to the bed and everything," she reveals. All of this occurred before Claudine's ascent to stardom in a series of quickies produced by France's newly burgeoning porno industry.

The selling of INHIBITION played upon Beccarie's notoriety (as is obvious in the title take-off on the EXHIBITION film). My guessing game is that it was with INHIBITION that Beccarie wished to distance herself from her porn past, which may be why, according to an entry on the IMDB, she held a protest fast in front of the French theater that showed the film with added X-rated inserts. Beccarie never made it into A films, but instead found probably unwelcome employment in low-brow exploitation R-rated films, like FRAULEIN KITTY and HELLTRAIN.

As with any emblematic euro-cult film, what makes INHIBITION work is the entirety. The actors, the foreign setting, the direction, and, importantly, the music. The soundtrack by Guido and Marizio De Angelis is wonderfully hip and sexy, and so euro-1970s that it's a crime it hasn't yet been released on an authoritative CD.

There are frequent scenes in INHIBITION where Poeti's fluid direction, the musical score and the editing merge into some of the best moments I've seen in euro-cult. The entire long credit sequence at the beginning is a superb testament to everything working with easy flow and what appears to be easy artistry. I must have replayed these first ten minutes or so a hundred times, and those moments still manage to hold the same transfixing and exhilarating power as when I first saw them.

Several years ago, INHIBITION was released by NoShame in a PAL-format set in an uncensored edition that gave previous viewers delightful moments never before seen, including a genuinely hot masturbation scene with Beccarie that sizzles with the lonely meaning of, and physical need for, self-gratification. The film was presented in Italian audio only, but an English audio track exists. (INHIBITION was shown on US cable TV and also received a video release in the States.) Seeing as it was a NoShame release, it must be more accessible for Mya to put in on their schedule--one hopes.

The 1970s was a time when international adventure of embracing sex and experiences in foreign, more exotic countries still remained viable. Terrorism and kidnappings, and worse, of Westerners were not threats, and globalism and the internet had not yet shed their blinding light in the more mysterious corners of the world. INHIBITION is now a languid memory of a time that was, a precious memory that makes the film a hallmark of euro-cult cinema.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Coming in August 2010

FORBIDDEN GAMES is SOGNI PROIBITI DI DON GALEAZZO CURATO DI CAMPAGNA, a 1973 sex comedy directed by Emanuele Di Cola, cinematographer for such films as HELL COMMANDOS, SCREAM OF THE DEMON LOVER, and NIGHT OF THE DEVILS.

SEXY RADIO is a Spanish film, originally titled EL ESCOTE. Another sex comedy, it seems.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Coming in July 2010

EROS PERVERSION (1979), directed by Ron Wertheim, starring Carlo De Mejo, Viju Krem, and Ajita Wilson, is a musical (?) take on Shakespeare's THE TWELFTH NIGHT, with a bunch of nudity thrown in.


FORBIDDEN PASSION (1974), directed by Gianluigi Calderon, starring Gabrielle Ferzitti and Ornella Muti, was originally titled APPASSIONATA. A father-daughter sexy drama, controversial in its time (and probably now, too). [With the release of the DVD, it's clear this is another film, the 1973 Spanish CEBO PARA UNA ADOLESCENTE (BAIT FOR A TEENAGER), directed by Francisco Lara Polop.]

Star Video back cover. I've no idea what the dog is doing there.

Herman (I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF) Cohen was one of the distributors of APPASSIONATA in the U.S.


NAKED CITIES is I SEGRETI DELLA CITTA PIU NUDE DEL MONDO (1971) from Luciano Martino, with brother Sergio the scriptwriter. A mondo travelogue movie with scenes from Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, etc.