Castle Freak (1995) is a horror offering with the look and feel of a Giallo, except that the audience is never in doubt as to what is going on. An American family has inherited an Italian Castle. Three of them (Jeffrey Coombs, Barbara Crampton and Jessica Dollarhide) travel to Italy. The daughter, is blind, and Crampton and Coombs are not sleeping together. We soon learn that his drinking was a contributing factor in the death of their son, and his daughter's blindness. Crampton has not forgiven him.
The deceased Duchess had been a recluse since her husband had left her, and her young boy died shortly after. Wait a minute. The boy isn't dead, he is the castle freak, kept locked in the dungeon and beaten daily for 20 years by his mother, and boy is he hungry and pissed. He wears full body make-up, which took six hours to apply. Raffaella Offidani as a hooker shows breasts and bush. The film includes some cannibalism.
IMDb readers have this at 4.9. Seems a little harsh to me. The special effects were not bad, the plot was coherent, and the ending was something of a surprise to me. The mean at IMDb is 5.8, which seems closer to me. This is a C-, a watchable low budget horror thriller.
|Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)
William Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice
The words above represent the
full title of the film. I can't imagine the logic behind including Billy Shakespeare's name, since anybody who would have any interest in
seeing The Merchant of Venice would know the author's name. I can only guess that they had to
include that information in order to distinguish it from
"Mickey Spillane's The Merchant of Venice" which, while rather
lacking in the niceties of iambic pentameter, did include many more
action scenes with "booze-swilling Venetian broads" and "tough
Italian mugs packing
What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any
other name ...
Wait a minute. That's a bunch o' crap. Oh, yeah,
maybe it is true when applied to roses, but let's apply it to
products, shall we? Which tampon would your wife be more likely to
buy - Summer Fresh, or Leaky Sandpaper? A movie is a product, and
the name can be important, especially if one sinks thirty million
dollars into a Shakespearean adaptation that will be passed over by
all but the most discriminating ticket buyers. If I had been in charge of naming
this film, I
would have called it Dirty Dancing at the Star Wars Canteen, in an
attempt to get the all-important "female tweener" and "male fanboy"
audiences, which together comprise somewhere around 105% of
the ticket purchases in America.
All kidding aside, this is one of the
very best Shakespearian adaptations I've ever seen on film, and is
certainly the best version of this particular play which I have ever seen in any
medium. I could cite many positives, like the beauty of the Venetian
imagery and the music, and I will also cite some negatives below, but that is all really window dressing. My
central argument all boils down to one thing: clarity. Under almost
any circumstances, it is damned hard to understand Shakespeare. I
have taken several courses in Elizabethan Drama, and have read a lot
more on my own. I've seen a few dozen live performances and every
major movie. I have read every one of his plays and have most of the
famous passages memorized. Even given all of those facts, I normally
have a hard time understanding many passages and scenes if I have
not reviewed a Shakespearian play just before viewing the
performance. It's just difficult to understand all the details,
because Elizabethan English is virtually a foreign language to 21st
I reckon this is probably a bigger problem for
most of you than for me, since you probably don't take it quite as
seriously as I do, unless you are really serious scholars like
our occasional contributor Mick Locke. Because of the
comprehensibility problem, we modern viewers are dependent on the
actors and the directors to make everything clear to us. What we
need from Shakespearian actors in modern times is not necessarily
what was important to Elizabethan audiences. Since the play was in
their language, 16th century audiences were able to follow the plot
details and understand the jokes easily, so the most important task
for the actors was simply to deliver the beauty and emotional power of the language.
Many Shakespearian performances are still delivered with that in
mind, but that just doesn't work for us if we can't understand the
words. Sure it's beautiful language, but it might as well be
beautiful Swahili. The modern Shakespearian actor has to place the
meaning above the rhythm and beauty of the poetry, and almost
everyone in this film has done a marvelous job of that. I was able
to understand not only the gist of it, but the details of virtually
every sentence. Not only did they deliver the lines in a lucid
manner, but they took great pains to think about how they viewed
their characters and precisely what they needed to do to project their
interpretations, accentuating all of the
distinctive vocal mannerisms, pauses, and gestures. Even when I
disagreed with their choices, I appreciated the thought that
went into them. I didn't really like the Jeremy Irons version of
Antonio, for example, but I can see that Irons established his
character and kept it consistent. (No disrespect intended to Irons.
Antonio is an impossible role to interpret, for reasons too numerous
and complex to detail here.)
The actors were supported ably by the pacing and editing of the film,
which allow the viewer to
understand not only the precise mechanics of the plot and the
attitudes of the characters, but also much about
the times in which the action takes place. Especially important are
the background activities of both the main
characters and the extras. While we see Shylock in one light in the
main plot, the wordless activities on screen give us far more
understanding of the context in which Shylock's anger was formed. We
see Christians demeaning Jews and tossing them into the canals for
sport. In the film's opening, we actually see Antonio spitting
contemptuously on Shylock. Although Christians seem to feel that the
Jews are heathens, we see gaudy Christian prostitutes flashing their
breasts at passers-by while abstemious and devout Jews go about
their serious business. Since the director can't add to
Shakespeare's words, we need all of this to understand Shylock's
There were two scenes that made me uncomfortable:
One of Portia's suitors is an African chieftain, and
this character and his entourage seem to be portrayed beyond the
boundaries of our modern sensitivity to racial stereotyping. I'm not
saying the scene was "bad Shakespeare". Indeed, given the attitudes
of 16th century England, this interpretation could have been
precisely what Shakespeare had in mind. Unfortunately, many
centuries have passed, our modern ears have been tuned to a
different frequency, and this scene played out like a racist
minstrel show. I guess I may be over-reacting, but my gut tells me
that the director should have turned down the laughs and allowed the
African character to play out his humiliation with more dignity,
even though Shakespeare may not have seen it that way.
There is one scene where Portia comes off as a
shrill, unpleasant woman. If you remember the play, there are three
scenes between Portia and Bassanio involving a ring. In the first,
Portia gives Bassanio her ring, and he swears an oath that the ring
will not leave his finger while he lives. Later, when Portia is
disguised as a male lawyer and gets Bassanio's buddy off the hook on
the "pound of flesh" deal, he/she demands the ring as payment for
legal services. Finally, in a third scene, Portia confronts Bassanio
for having broken his oath. The third scene must be handled
delicately, because we know that any reasonable woman would forgive
Bassanio for having broken his vow in this extreme case, but we also
know that Portia really wants to bust his chops for a while to see
his reaction and to see if he tells the truth. Frankly, Shakespeare
himself is at fault here, because we leave the scene with the
impression that Bassanio would never break the oath again under any
circumstances. Huh? So if Bassanio ever has to choose again between
his friend's life and a hunk of metal, he'll have to go with the
metal? In order for the scene to work, Portia must be seen as having
a good-natured laugh at Bassanio's expense before revealing her
ruse, and she must not be seen as a mini-Shylock, insisting that a
promise has greater value than a human life. I believe this third
scene was mishandled in this film. Portia came off as a queen
biatch. Had I been Bassanio, I would have asked Portia if her
imaginary lawyer also handled divorces.
Look, let's be honest here. I have not researched
this play carefully, and I'm no expert on interpreting Shakespeare
in general, while the director obviously put a lot of research and
thought into the various ways those scenes could be presented, and
he ultimately decided on those renderings.
But I have to say that those two scenes just made me
Apart from my quibbling about those
scenes, my hat is off to director Michael
Radford. He envisioned how he wanted this project to work, he cast
the actors perfectly, he directed them to perform according to his
consistent vision, he placed them in interesting settings, and he
clarified every detail and nuance of the plot with editing and
I've liked just about every movie he's
ever made, although that isn't many, since we can consider ourselves
fortunate to get one
from him every three or four years. The amazing thing to me is that you'd
never guess the following movies were all the work of the same guy.
The Merchant of Venice (2004)
Dancing at the
Blue Iguana (2000)
B. Monkey (1998)
White Mischief (1987)
Another Place (1983)
Dancing at the Blue Iguana is a movie
about strippers in which the actresses improvised much of their own
characterization and dialogue. It has a kind of cinema verité,
real-time feel to it which verges on docudrama.
B. Monkey is a tightly scripted and
poetic story about the unlikely relationship between a male
kindergarten teacher and a hardened female criminal. (I called it
the European version of Modern Romance).
Il Postino - you may be familiar with
this one, because it won a pile of awards - is kind of a
highbrow film about a postman who learns to love poetry as a result
of making deliveries to a poet, and then uses his awakened soul to
woo his lady-love. Unlike most arty films, it leads from the heart,
not the brain.
1984 is the John Hurt version of the
Orwell story, and it seemed to catch the spirit of the book
What do those films have in common with
each other? Beats me. There are not many threads running through
that list. But the ones I have seen are all pretty damned good. Of course, Radford
tends to disappoint his audiences. Those who loved Il Postino had to
be saying "WTF?" if they rented Blue Iguana because it had the
same director. Obviously Radford likes to challenge himself. When he
was 54, he made his wildest, freest, most innovative movie (Blue
Iguana), the kind of spontaneous, experimental film that guys make
when they are just out of film school. He then followed that up with
a filmed version of Shakespeare, which requires the actors to
deliver the lines exactly as written, allowing for no improv at all.
I suppose Radford must be an interesting (and obviously very
Anyway, this film is a must-see if you
like Shakespeare. It should be made the absolute standard for people
studying the play in school, simply because the play completely
carries itself and can therefore be shown uninterrupted. Having been
on both sides of the desk, I can tell you that nothing is
more irritating for the teacher or the student than having to stop a
Shakespeare film every 10 minutes for an
Unfortunately, this version will not really end up in
schools because there are background breasts everywhere, supplied by
the Venetian prostitutes! Yup, you heard me. All of this and a
steady parade of topless chicks as well!
"Gee, mom, I got a part in The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino"
"Oh, honey, how wonderful. We knew you would make it in serious
drama. Which part do you play?"
- Topless Shakespearian hookers (1,
The L Word:
Here are Shiloh's film clips and my .wmv conversions from
Sunday's shows. His are zipped avis, mine are zipped .wmvs
- Entertainment Weekly reports:
Comedy Central star Dave Chappelle has checked himself into a
mental health facility
eBay item AMERICAN IDOL'S COREY CLARK & PAULA ABDUL appear on
toast!!!!! Another Hollywood breakup! No longer sharing
The late Mitch Hedberg was supposed to be the next Seinfeld.
He died almost unnoticed, the same week as the pope and
Johnnie Cochran. (Includes some comedy clips)
'Home Alone' star Macaulay Culkin denounced the molestation
allegations against Michael Jackson as 'absolutely ridiculous'
Here comes the no-frills laptop: $200. The Linux-based
computer is expected to be available commercially in India within
three months. It can't handle high powered apps or games, but
includes software for basic office applications, e-mail, internet
browser, music, and movies.
Ten things Michael Jackson loves. I wouldn't touch that
set-up with a ten foot pole. Not even with an eleven foot czech.
OK, maybe with a twelve foot serb, but no promises.
The Daily Show: Run Forest, Run! The White House shows
its independence from the powerful photosynthesis lobby.
Who would win the World Cup of baseball?
- Here is the team the Dominican Republic could field: 2B
Alfonso Soriano, SS Miguel Tejada, 1B Albert Pujols, DH David
Ortiz, CF Vladimir Guerrero, RF Sammy Sosa, 3B Aramis Ramirez,
LF Manny Ramirez C Miguel Olivo P Pedro Martinez
- That team could beat just about any other team you could
draft! If you were picking a team from scratch, they have five
of the guys you would choose: center, second, short, DH, and
first. They are so good that except for catcher, Sammy Sosa is
their weak link! If you figure their proper line-up, you'll see
that Sammy will end up batting sixth!
- Sorry - Ivan Rodriguez is Puerto Rican, but the D.R. seems
to have the other positions covered!
- Their back-up third baseman would be Adrian Beltre; their
back-up left fielder, Jose Guillen.
- In real life, the winner of the tournament would be
determined by the game frequency. The USA has all the pitching
depth. If the teams have to play three games in three days, then
the D.R. would be screwed. I assume they would start Colon
against a weak Canada team in round one, saving Pedro for the
tougher Puerto Rican team. Assuming they get through those two,
they would have to depend on Odalis Perez to pitch the finals.
On the other hand, if the tournament is played in a format that
requires only one game per weekend, with Pedro pitching every
game, they would be mighty tough to beat.
Fantastic Four Movie Official Site - very impressive!.
The new Fantastic Four TV spot and the new online game are hidden
in the official web site. Choose your language, get the main page,
then hit the F4 button on your computer for the "Van Doom
archives." Another note: the wallpaper of Alba ... Fantastic.
Things That Don't Exist
Lotto winner's first purchase? Big boobs for her sisters.
- Speaking of Other Crap -
Police in Milwaukee performed an unreasonable search and seizure
when they forced a man to take laxatives for several
hours until they recovered a baggie of heroin he swallowed, a
state appeals court ruled Tuesday.
KIDMAN: 'PREGNANCY WOULD GIVE ME THE BREASTS I LONG FOR'
Culkin to testify for Jacko Wednesday
The Philadelphia Eagles will not renegotiate the contract of star
wide receiver Terrell Owens
- Chinese basketballer
Sun Ming Ming is 7'8" and weighs 360 pounds. And he
wants to be a center, now that his jockey career is over.
CASEY CHAOS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY ANNA NICOLE SMITH
(With strange picture)
eBay item - Subliminal CD To Turn Your Spouse into a Sex Slave
- Thailand's Ministry of the Obvious warned teens:
injecting penises with olive oil to boost the size could cause
misshaped members and even permanent erections.
- Thai youngsters were reluctant to believe the warning until
they heard the dramatic first-hand testimonial from a former
Democratic President of the USA.
- Now you know why Jimmy Carter always wears baggy pants.
Quentin Tarantino agreed to direct the CSI: Crime Scene
Investigation season finale in part so he could test
the waters for doing a TV show of his own, tentatively titled
"Everyone hates Raymond and wants to sodomize him and cut off his
head with a ceremonial sword"
Jessica Simpson, Hilary Swank, Billy Bob Thornton and Lindsay
Lohan will present gongs at this year's MTV Movie Awards.
I used to make fun of the MTV awards, but I've revised my opinion.
While the actual awards are meaningless, the award show is
the only one of its ilk that is consistently fun to watch.
Homer Simpson's dream comes true.
- "The entire load of beer was spilled, creating what one
police officer described as a 'sea of beer' ... this is the
busiest stretch of highway in North America."
In New York City, a Scrappy Local Newspaper Struggles For Survival
Official Transcript of Closed Door Meeting Between President Bush
and Totally-Bestest-Pal-Who's-Not-Just-A-KGB-Hatchet-Man President
Vladimir Pooty-Poot - (WHITEHOUSE.ORG)
Minister starts 'CHURCH OF GEORGE W. BUSH'
- The holy man declared: "Look at the evidence: Bush didn't
even win the election in 2000, and yet God found a way to put
him in office. Plus, Bush is infallible. He's been asked a
number of times to name something he's done wrong, and he can't
think of a single thing."
Weekly World News: "NEW STUDY PROVES... WATCHING NASCAR MAKES YOU
More King Tut news. Facial Reconstruction shows he was actually
The world record golf drive is held by Jack Hamm, who in 1996
launched a ball 1,012 yards on the east runway at the Stapleton
International Airport in Denver. Mr. Hamm also holds
the Guinness World Record for the longest carry of a golf ball,
458 yards at Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
Why can't we decipher Indus script?
Warhol's 'Liz' sells for $12.6 million at Sotheby's
Canadian food alert- Cock may be full of nuts.
"Consumption of the Cock product may cause a serious or
life-threatening reaction in persons with allergies to nuts."
What's the news? When I used to visit Toronto, Canadian women
always said this to me.
Conan schemes to improve his ratings by giving away lottery
Conan shares some of the tricks he uses during sweeps week.
This is funny. Another show is remaking The Wizard of Oz with
Muppet characters during sweeps week, so Conan's team plans to rip
off the general concept and remake The Triumph of the Will with
Conan and Max have a contest to make up New York Post headlines
A new featurette about the making of Ron Howard's Cinderella Man.
The trailer from Hustle and Flow
- With help from his friends, a Memphis pimp in a mid-life
crisis attempts to become a successful rapper. Talk about
mismatched buddies: Terrence Dashon Howard and DJ Qualls,
together at last. (You may not know his name, but Howard is one
of the most distinguished and versatile black actors, a real
talent, a star-in-waiting who usually plays intense roles where
his outward calm hides deep emotions. DJ Qualls is the
underweight nerdy guy from Road Trip. What a team they make!)
DERBY WINNER LAUNCHES FRAGRANCE ... Horse-based Scent
Hits Cosmetic Counters Friday
King Tut died of gangrene caused by a broken leg:
"Egyptian scientists have finally lifted the veil of mystery
surrounding famed pharaoh Tutankhamun's death, saying he died of a
swift attack of gangrene after breaking his leg. "
Other Crap archives. May also include newer material than the
since it's sorta in real time.
to submit a URL for Other Crap
are the latest movie reviews available at scoopy.com.
- The yellow asterisks indicate that I wrote the
review, and am deluded into thinking it includes humor.
- If there is a white asterisk, it means that
there isn't any significant humor, but I inexplicably determined
there might be something else of interest.
- A blue asterisk indicates the review is written
by Tuna (or Junior or Brainscan, or somebody else besides me)
- If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too
ashamed to admit it.
Scoop came up with a good idea for our next poll that should stir up some conversation, if not some controversy.
This week's poll....
Email Scoopy Jr. if you'd like to add nominees or offer suggestions for future polls.
Here are the results of our previous polls:
The Top 20 Nude Scenes of 2004
The Best Nude Film Debuts of the 80s
The Best Nude Film Debuts of the 90s
Which actress has been the most convincing playing a stripper.
Who has the best bum in Hollywood?
Best All Time Television Comedy
Best Nudity in an Oscar-winning performance
The Top 20 Best Straight Sex Scenes
Best Lesbian Love Scenes
NOTE: We currently have to do all of our movie files in zip format. Instead of viewing them online, save the zip files to your hard drive in the directory of your choice, un-zip and play from there.
Today from the Ghost, another batch of assorted video clips. Zipped .wmvs as always.
- Dina Meyer bares her bum as she gets out of bed in a scene from the Phillip Marlowe/detective flick "Poodle Springs", starring James Caan.
- Laura Dern showing off a single breast in this clip from 1991's "Rambling Rose".
- Nicole Kidman bares breasts and bum in a scene from the other 'Billy Zane on a boat' flick, "Dead Calm" (1989).
- Pamela Jean Bryant Private Lessons (1981)
- Here is former Heffer Pamela Jean Bryant (April '78) in scenes from "Private Lessons" (1981). Bryant is all wet and shows some see-thru goodies in #1. In #2 we see her topless in the mirror.
- "Legally Blonde" star Reese Witherspoon's one and only topless scene. Here are a couple of clips from 1998's "Twilight".
- The former "Charles in Charge" co-star Josie Davis. Here we see her all grown up and nekkid in scenes from Nicolas Cage's directorial debut, "Sonny" (2002).
- Oddly voiced actress Carol Kane going topless and showing a bit of bush in scenes from the Jack Nicholson movie, "The Last Detail" (1973).
|The "Matrix Reloaded" co-star and Italian mega-babe baring her big'uns (2-4) in scenes from the French comedy "Mauvais genre" (1997).
|Toplessness and a bit of bum in scenes from another French comedy, "Un chien dans un jeu de quilles" (1983).
|The star of Israeli cinema baring all in scenes from "Hatuna Meuheret" aka "Mariage tardif" aka "Late Marriage" (2001).
||The 'pop starlet' almost falling out of her top while on stage.
|Lara Flynn Boyle
|The Skin-man takes a look at the 1994 movie "Threesome". Boyle bares her bum, Kousi goes topless.
|Pat Reeder www.comedy-wire.com
Pat's comments in yellow...
NEVERLAND RANCH SOLD?
Get It Steam-Cleaned - The National Enquirer tabloid claims that Michael
Jackson is so cash-strapped, he has secretly sold the Neverland Ranch to a
mystery buyer for $35 million, and it's already in escrow. The fantasy
estate has a $16 million mortgage and costs $3 million a year to maintain.
A source said it hasn't felt like home to Michael since the police raided
it, so whichever way the verdict goes, he'll never live there again.
He might be moving to a huge, new $100 million facility with
Fortunately, he has plenty of little friends he can bunk with.
Someone bought Neverland?! This can mean just one thing: Siegfried and
Roy are moving to California!
KING TUT MYSTERIES SOLVED
The Mummy Speaks! - A study of King Tut's mummy revealed that he died of
gangrene from a broken leg, not murder. Also, scientists created a 3-D
model of his skull and covered it with clay and silicone skin to see what
he probably looked like. Judging from the model, he looked a little like a
13-year-old Vin Diesel.
Now, Michael Jackson wants to buy HIS skeleton.
They put fresh new skin on a 3,300-year-old mummy, using technology
invented by Cher's plastic surgeon.
DEMI SAYS SEX WITH ASHTON IS "FAST"
She Calls It "Getting Punk'd" - The New York Daily News reports that
fashion designer Cynthia Rowley said she was talking about the pros and
cons of her younger boyfriend with pal Demi Moore, and Demi agreed that sex
with younger guys like Ashton Kutcher is "kind of, like, fast."
Well, they have to hurry up and finish: "SpongeBob Squarepants" is
But it does come around again right away.
Older men know how to take their time...Sometimes, they even take a
break in the middle to go get a snack, or watch a football game...
|A quick site note
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