Friday, October 14, 2011

Freakshow –review

Director: Constantino Magnatta

Release date: 1989

Contains spoilers

This was an eighties portmanteau film and I actually think it was better than it should have been. It had an interesting premise at its core, a vampire section and a bit of zombie/vampire crossover.

The portmanteau section began with an audience watching a film in a cinema. The film ends, the crowd leaves and in the street a gunman (Dean Richards Wiancko, Red Blooded American Girl) opens fire, committing mass murder.

Audrey Landers as Shan
We see the aftermath through the eyes of reporter Shan Nichols (Audrey Landers) who was on the scene with a camera crew as the killer had tipped her off earlier that he would do something spectacular. She hadn’t informed the police, rather she went after the story. Her crew are disgusted with her and she is left to get home by herself. On the way back she comes across Dr Borges (Peter Read) who takes her into his freakshow – where the exhibits show the viewer their own inner demons.

warding a zombie with a cross
These then are the sections and we have the story of a desperate junky and a devilish dog, the story of a woman on a designer drug who ends up trapped in her own body and assumed dead by police, doctors and the morgue – this, of course, is a reworking of earlier similar tales. I mention a zombie/vampire cross over and this is in the final story where a couple of gravediggers are stealing the nutrient rich earth from the graveyard, to spruce up a golf course, and the dead want revenge. As well as a golf cart driving zombie, we get a priest crossing two golf clubs (in a Peter Cushing manner) and repelling a zombie.

making the delivery
The actual vampire section starts in a pizzeria on Halloween, a place full of stereotyped, misogynistic Italian pizza guys, and Wilbur – the new employee. Wilbur is sent to the stock room (after entertaining kids with magic tricks). However a call comes in for a pizza, no garlic, to be delivered to 1313 Bram Stoker Boulevard. The owner’s son is next to deliver but she won’t let him go to that place and so Wilbur is sent on the delivery. En route the pizza guys bet him 2 weeks wages that he won’t make the delivery.

welcoming the pizza guy
He gets to the building – which is a girl school – and enters the creepy, deserted looking place. Part way through a hand comes out of the floorboards at him but he seems rather calm, rationalising that it was a prank. He gets to a room were two girls wear lingerie and lure him to a bed. Suddenly he is grabbed by the throat, by a long nailed hand, and forced to watch as quite a few girls basically do a low-key, non-nude strip from a variety of outfits.

strange vampire form
We never see the hand’s owner and, eventually, he tells them to stop. He calls the hand a nice effect and then reveals his true face – he is a vampire. And what an odd looking vampire, with giant fangs and tusks that seem to emerge from his cheeks. Apparently the girls were just girls, playing a Halloween prank. No longer though, they are his now.

a veritable harem
He bites each one (a rather bloodless affair that seems more a nuzzle on the neck) and turns them all into vampires. He goes back to the pizzeria to get his revenge, suggesting to the guys that there is a party over at the school – one of the girls rings the pizza place to confirm Wilbur’s story and that, as they say, is that – well bar a quick hiss at the camera with tusks and fangs on show once more.

the floorshow
It wasn’t a great story but it had just the right level of oddness to qualify as good fun. The entire opening was drawn out and the entire prank seems too elaborate for its own good but it made an interesting, very eighties and very non-nude watch. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t deserve a massive score (as always, it is only the vampire section that is scored) but the film (as a whole) is worth a quick watch if there is nothing else on for the weirdness factor alone. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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