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The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest

The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest
CONTINUES...

Adam Jahnke - Main Page

Welcome to the Grindhouse Double Feature: Black Candles and Evil Eye

Welcome to the Grindhouse Double Feature: Black Candles and Evil Eye
1982/1974 (2007) - BCI Eclipse

WARNING! Absolutely no one under 18 admitted to this review! No, seriously. I try to keep in mind that The Bits is an all-ages site and choose my language appropriately. But there's no point in being polite when discussing movies like these.

Nobody enjoys sleazy, vintage exploitation flicks more than I do but if I hear the word "grindhouse" used as an adjective one more time, I'm gonna hunt down and rip out Quentin Tarantino's and Robert Rodriguez's tongues with a pair of rusty pincers. They, of course, are the two guys responsible for its current overuse. Their tribute pic, Grindhouse, got a lot more wrong than it got right in its effort to recreate the glory days of trash cinema. My opinion of it has only soured since I first saw it, although I admit that Planet Terror is somewhat diverting. Death Proof, on the other hand, is unwatchable garbage. Y'see, this is why I hate these guys. Even reviews of movies that have nothing to do with them inevitably circle back to them at this point.


Anyway, one sort of nice side effect of the QT/RR show is the new availability of some gen-yoo-wine sleazy exploitation flicks, including the two amazingly sordid "classics" featured in this disc of bloody terror from BCI Eclipse's Welcome to the Grindhouse series.

In Black Candles, Carol travels to England after the mysterious death of her brother, accompanied by her boyfriend Paul. Once there, they fall under the spell of the brother's wife and her entourage of devil-worshippers. Paul falls in and out of bed with both Carol and the sister-in-law, quickly succumbing to the charms of Lucifer. Place your bets now for how long it'll take Carol to be seduced by the dark lord.

The only thing that separates Black Candles from porn is a matter of minutes. A shot held longer here, a camera moved just inches to the left there, and you've got yourself a pretty graphic 70s porno flick with a vague horror theme. Some of this is amusing, although the novelty wears off quickly and there are far too many dull patches for a movie of this length. There's plenty of naked late 70s/early 80s flesh on display, which should come as no surprise. Despite Tarantino's and Rodriguez's refusal to get their wimmen nekkid (or their men for that matter), full frontal nudity is a staple of movies like these. But the blood 'n' gore factor is somewhat tame. Black Candles does have at least two notorious scenes that will appeal to those who enjoy this kind of thing. In the first, a black mass is conducted in which... well, a chick fucks a goat. Quite believably, too. So either there was actual goat-fucking going on here or both the actress and the goat deserve Oscars. In the second scene, a devil-worshipper with second thoughts is captured by the cult and gets a sword shoved up his ass for his trouble. Hopefully no one will be disappointed to learn that this bit looks more like a special effect than the bestiality does.

The second feature, Evil Eye, is somewhat more entertaining and twice as inexplicable. Millionaire playboy Peter Crane begins to have nightmares about a group of moaning, stark naked weirdos. Every so often, a stimulus will remind him of these dreams and he'll rip somebody's throat out. That stimulus is never exactly clear... seems to be just about anything from a painting to a shadow to a Tom Jones record. He hooks up with his doctor's "frumpy" assistant (frumpy in movies like this always means she's the hottest chick on screen) and she attempts to cure him by taking Peter out to a secluded cottage in the middle of nowhere. Good call. Meanwhile, a dedicated cop who keeps hearing weird sound effects sorta kinda tries to track him down. Or something.

Sorry but that's the best I can do with Evil Eye. This movie doesn't even try to make sense beyond setting up the premise that Peter Crane kills people for some reason or other. I could barely figure out what was happening from moment to moment. Still, I laughed out loud repeatedly, mainly thanks to the amazing dubbed dialogue. My favorite exchange was this one between Peter's jealous girlfriend Tanya and the frumpy Dr. Sarah.

Tanya: Well, I don't like her very much.

Frumpy Dr. Sarah: Yes, you're probably just tuning in on my reaction to you.

Tanya: I do tune in on grand pianos.

What the holy hell is that even supposed to mean?! By the end of the movie, nothing makes sense any more and all you can do is just hold your head in your hands and wonder what combination of drugs and alcohol you'd have to take in order to figure all this out.

The DVD looks and sounds lousy, as it should. That's one of the details Rodriguez at least fetishistically got right in his movie. There aren't any real extras except for something called The Grindhouse Experience. The main menu allows you to play either feature individually or enter The Grindhouse Experience. This option plays prevues of coming attractions for Pick-Up, Legend of Eight Samurai and Don't Answer the Phone! before launching into Black Candles. After the movie, you get an intermission with more prevues for Prime Evil and Sister Street Fighter, then it's on to Evil Eye. Some might gripe because you can't access these trailers any other way other than through The Grindhouse Experience. Not me. In for a penny, in for a pound, and if you're gonna bite into either of these shit sandwiches, you'd might just as well make a night of it.

No, neither Black Candles nor Evil Eye are anywhere close to being good movies. What of it? Every so often, you want to see just how weird the horror genre can get. Remarkably, these aren't even close to being the weirdest or most outlandish flicks you can find. But they'll do until something weirder comes along. So rip up the cushions in your sofa, pour a bunch of soda on your floor, maybe ask a homeless guy to come over and take a nap in the chair behind you and let BCI turn your home into a grindhouse for a night. Some of you will be glad you did.

Program Rating: B+ (just for the entire experience, not the movies themselves necessarily)
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C-/C/B-


Adam Jahnke
ajahnke@thedigitalbits.com


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