Day 17: Fulci!
The Black Cat (1981)
Day 17 for Junesploitation is prompted by ‘Fulci’, that means it is time for some Lucio Fulci and his masterful visuals. The man is perhaps best known for Don’t Torture A Duckling (1972), City Of The Living Dead (1980) and The Beyond (1981), however the filmmaker does have quite a vast filmography. The film chosen here is The Black Cat (1981), not exactly an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s story of the same name but inspired by parts of it, that show up more within the third act of the film.
The Black Cat takes place in a small English village, where a serious of strange accidents have caused some deaths. A visiting American photographer Jill (Mimsy Farmer) and a Scotland yard Detective Inspector Gorley (David Warbeck) team up to investigate. Jill has her suspicions about the town’s Professor (Patrick Magee) who has psychic abilities and his relationship to a vicious black cat.
The film is a fair effort from Fulci, it is very much his style and atmosphere, but it suffers from a highly disjointed story and doesn’t resemble or have many of the themes from Poe’s original story. Visually it looks great, very gothic horror/Hammer Horror feel and vibe to everything, the gore is there but not in excess and despite how disjointed it does feel the film moves along at a fairly steady pace. It is difficult to really follow the story and become fully engaged, the dubbing for the English version is quite distracting as well, something felt a little off with it.
While The Black Cat may not be one of Fulci’s better known films, it isn’t terrible by any means and it is an interesting film despite the flaws that it has. Fulci has certainly made better put together films, however this is still one to check out for those who enjoy Fulci’s work and haven’t yet seen this.
Day 18: Free Space!
Satan In High Heels (1962)
Another ‘Free Space’ day for Junesploitation, that means it is time for another film with female centered characters. Satan In High Heels (1962) is an exploitation film, touted as sexploitation, however this one isn’t a ‘nudie’ film at all and the ‘Satan’ of the title perhaps doesn’t even come close to becoming that. This film truly though was the original Showgirls (1995), having many commonalities, including the strange way it treats its female lead characters.
Stacey (Meg Myles) is a married burlesque performer who runs away from her junkie husband with money to New York. There she immediately uses her charm to win her way into a job as a singer at a Nightclub run by Pepe (Grayson Hall), and immediately gets the attentions of not only Pepe but the clubs owner Arnold (Mike Keene) but his son Laurence (Robert Yuro). Juggling men and striving to make her way to the top, she is tracked down by her husband who is none all too happy.
The synopsis is very similar to that of Showgirls, Stacey and Nomi are very similar, but perhaps Stacey is a little more aware of her intentions, where as Nomi doesn’t set out to intentionally cause harm at first. The film itself with a restoration looks fantastic, the picture quality is impressive and enhances the experience. This film is focused on character study and dialogue, there isn’t a bunch of nudity and sex, but it does have themes of adultery, affairs, lesbianism, that weren’t too often seen in older films, at least not overly mainstream ones. While the story does truck along fairly well, there is enough intrigue to hold interest, some of it does get muddled along the way however the final act delivers the goods.
The handling of Stacey as a character seems very hateful, she doesn’t have any real redeeming qualities, she is a manipulator for the sake of it, using people to get whatever she wants no matter the cost. It would have been more interesting and less misogynist if Stacey was more than a one dimensional ‘she devil’, at least the ending provided something for her, but other than that it let’s the film down quite a bit. Satan In High Heels is a mixed bag of a film, one that is interesting overall though and contains solid performances, especially from Grayson Hall as Pepe.
Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea
Please check out FThisMovie.net, with many thanks to the crew for the concept of Junesploitation and some excellent prompts for 2021!