Repulsion (1965)

repulsion_5Starring Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser, Yvonne Furneaux, Patrick Wymark, Renee Houston, Valerie Taylor, James Villiers

Directed by Roman Polanski

Expectations: Moderate.


Repulsion was Roman Polanski’s first English-language film (and second film overall), and boy is it a strange one. If you were to classify it, you’d label it as a psychological thriller, but it’s a thriller so slowly paced that many will never make it past the first half of the film and into the part where that thrilling psychological horror takes hold. Although, if you’re watching this one it’s pretty safe to assume you’re “into film” and didn’t rent it randomly because “it looked good,” so it’s probably safe to assume very few are shutting this one off mid-film.

Repulsion opens with a tight close-up of an eyeball, the film’s credits drifting over its surface. As the sequence goes on, the eyeball darts from side to side, foreshadowing the paranoia that our main character Carol experiences. Carol moves through life as if she’s asleep, seemingly daydreaming and making no real connection to the world around her. She is especially repulsed by men and their advances towards her, which in her eyes are constant and neverending. This causes her an incredible amount of distress, and Polanski builds from there.

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In a Colt’s Shadow (1965)

In a Colt’s Shadow [All’ombra di una colt] (1965)
AKA Pistoleros

Starring Stephen Forsyth, Conrado San Martín, Anna Maria Polani, Helga Liné, Eugenio Galadini (as Graham Sooty), Franco Ressel (as Frank Ressell), Aldo Sambrell, José Calvo (as Pepe Calvo), Javier de Rivera, Andrea Scotti (as Andrew Scott), Rafael Albaicín

Directed by Giovanni Grimaldi

Expectations: Moderate. I’ve never heard anything one way or the other on this one.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

In a Colt’s Shadow isn’t your average Spaghetti Western. Not like Cemetery Without Crosses‘ thoughtful difference though, instead this one has a romantic through-line that drives the entire film and it takes as much influence from American westerns as it does from the work of Sergio Leone. This makes for an interesting film and one that is definitely entertaining for genre fans, but one that falls short of both cinematic ideals by choosing to go the hybrid route. The film opens with a stylized, painted credits sequence that is stunningly rendered and sets the stage for a colorful, unique western. Over the images is one of the strangest (and therefore lovable) western themes I’ve ever heard. While the soundtrack pumps out emotive, jangly guitar and whistling that evokes the musical styles of Ennio Morricone, the vocalist speaks his lines instead of sings them. Lines such as:

I wanna feel between my fingers
the warm wood of a plow
the prickly ears of grain
the silky soft hair of my woman
But I can’t…
‘Cuz I gotta kill.

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A Coffin for the Sheriff (1965)

A Coffin for the Sheriff [Una bara per lo sceriffo] (1965)
AKA Lone and Angry Man & Tomb for the Sheriff

Starring Anthony Steffen, Eduardo Fajardo, Fulvia Franco, George Rigaud, Armando Calvo, Arturo Dominici, Luciana Gilli, Miguel Del Castillo, Jesús Tordesillas, Tomás Torres, María Vico

Directed by Mario Caiano

Expectations: Low, but I enjoy Anthony Steffen so hopefully it’ll be good.

Let’s just cut to the chase: A Coffin for the Sheriff is a good, enjoyable spaghetti western, but one that is very average and clichéd. The fact that it remains interesting and fun is a testament to the quality of the storytelling, with the mystery of our main character Shenandoah slowly revealed over the course of the film. If you’ve seen any movie like this before, I’m sure you can unravel it rather quickly as I did, but regardless, it’s a story well told with lots of good scenes sprinkled throughout.

The film opens with Lupe Rojo’s gang robbing a wagon and murdering the people on it. This leads into an awesome montage of wanted posters, telegraph operators and the ever-riding Lupe Rojo as he continues to skirt the law in any way he can. After this we meet Shenandoah (played by genre-staple Anthony Steffen), a mysterious stranger who rides into town and has a run-in with the bandit group. Instead of fighting against them as you’d expect though, he rides off with them, helping an injured member escape along with him. Is this Shenandoah worthy of your trust? (On a side note: The word/name Shenandoah ranks near the top of my most hated words in the lexicon of classic Western cinema and its use here continues to annoy me.)

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The Twin Swords (1965)

The Twin Swords [鴛鴦劍俠] (1965)

Starring Chin Ping, Jimmy Wang Yu, Ivy Ling Po, Petrina Fung Bo Bo, Lo Lieh, Tien Feng, Cheng Miu, Wu Ma, Ku Feng, Lau Leung Wa, Chen Hung Lieh, Chiu Ming, Feng Yi, Kao Pao Shu, Lam Jing, Lee Wan Chung, Wong Ching Ho, Wong Yeuk Ping

Directed by Hsu Cheng Hung

Expectations: Low. The first film was OK, I don’t expect this will be too much different. I have heard it is better though.

This is more like it. I hope you like martial arts fantasy movies, because The Twin Swords packs lots of imaginative fun into its compact runtime. Starting off with the final scene from Temple of the Red Lotus, our heroes Jimmy Wang Yu and Chin Ping battle through the villainous scoundrels of the Red Lotus clan. They are once again saved by the quick darts of the Scarlet Maid, but the forces of evil are not known for resting on their laurels. They quickly concoct a plan to lure our heroes and their twin swords straight into the Red Lotus temple, which has been newly retrofitted with tons of lethal traps!

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Temple of the Red Lotus (1965)

Temple of the Red Lotus [江湖奇俠] (1965)
AKA “The Red Lotus Monastery”

Starring Jimmy Wang Yu, Chin Ping, Ivy Ling Po, Lo Lieh, Petrina Fung Bo Bo, Tien Feng, Ku Feng, Wu Ma, Kao Pao Shu, Lau Leung Wa, Chen Hung Lieh, Chiu Ming, Feng Yi, Ko Lo Chuen, Kok Lee Yan, Lam Jing

Directed by Hsu Cheng Hung

Expectations: Moderate, as this is such an early Shaw and it’s bound to be rough, but I’ve been building a lot of mind-hype for this over the past few months.

It all had to start someplace, and for the Shaw Studios, this is evidently the first of their films to include martial arts sequences. It fared very well at the box office, spawned two sequels (which I will be looking at in the coming weeks), and launched an entire genre. While Come Drink With Me and The One-Armed Swordsman may be more well-known films from this early period in Shaw history, Temple of the Red Lotus was their first color martial arts film and is notable for that if nothing else.

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