Rise of the Dead

ROTD is a low budget indie horror film shot on location in Athens and Marietta Ohio, employing many actors and actresses with limited film credentials.

The story centers around Laura, a young woman who delivered a baby a few years earlier then gave it up for adoption. The adoption didn't work out well for the baby. The first couple who adopted him were some kind of religious nuts who determined that the baby was evil because of his mother's sinful ways, and ended up giving him up. Worse than that, they placed a curse on him - a rather effective one at that, because the baby's next step father left a loaded gun on an table and ... well, you can use your imagination.

Unfortunately for the baby and everyone in Athens, Ohio, the curse was not the kind that expires upon death. It's was one of those eternal curses and, hoo-boy, is that dead baby pissed off about that. He is now using his dead baby ghost powers to rise from the dead and get revenge on all three sets of his parents. He is able to do this because he can completely take over any human body, and after he does so he uses that body's familiar and trusted countenance to get near his potential victims, then rip them to shreds with sharp objects. Although he is trapped inside a normal human body with no superpowers, he is more or less unstoppable because if his potential victim turns the tables and kills him, he just moves to another body, and if his attacker manages to bind him somehow, he just commits suicide with that body and moves on in that manner.

After some initial confusion, Laura finally figures out what's going on, but of course nobody will believe her, much to their eventual regret, so the body count multiplies quickly. The only really intriguing element of the film is the mystery of how Laura can defeat such an apparently undefeatable juggernaut.

The production is a typical microbudget straight-to-disc effort: only 72 minutes long, with minimal character development, mundane dialogue, and performances which are sometimes weak enough to break the fourth wall. On the other hand, the direction is not so bad. The grey ambience of a Northern winter and some spooky music combine to lend an ominous tone, and some of the scenes are edited effectively enough to maintain the appropriate amount of suspense while the ghost baby lurks somewhere in the shadows. It's not a very good film, but given that it comes from a first-time director, it's good enough to make you wonder what he might do with some money, a decent script, and a competent cast.

On the guilty pleasure genre scale:

(1) The gore is insignificant. There's some blood and a knife occasionally penetrates skin on camera, but it's basically done in the 1970s style, and not with modern explicitness. I doubt that they had the budget for convincing gore effects.

(2) On the other hand, nudity is within everyone's budget, so there's some nice skin in this film. A actress named Jaime Whitlock, playing Laura's roommate, walks around naked for quite some time and flashes some very attractive buns and breasts before being killed. (Jaime also did make-up and costumes for this mini-budget film, and I assume she performed those functions fully clothed in an Ohio winter, but she has the kind of healthy young body that should be naked as much as possible.) A second actress named Jamie Lewis shows her breasts in a spirited sex scene which knocks off her glasses. After the coitus is interruptus, she is possessed by the killer ghost baby and comes after a victim carrying an axe, still stark naked, thus finally delivering the coveted full frontal scene.

Give a decent effort by the director and the clear nudity, I'd call it a C- on our scale. Mainstream viewers should stay away, but genre buffs will probably find it watchable, or at least find some scenes to be worth watching for one reason or another.

Jaime Whitlock film clip. Collages below.



Jamie Lewis film clip. Collages below.



The Last Hangman

On a scale of 1-10, how interested are you in a biopic of a famous hangman? About a three? Maybe lower? Yeah, I guess that would be typical. The premise certainly offers the potential for a morbid, depressing film which lapses into proselytizing for one point of view or another.  Surprisingly, that is not the case. Oh, it's not a feel-good movie. It must dramatize a couple dozen hangings in real time, and you can guess how pleasant that is, but it is a consistently interesting true story.

Albert Pierrepoint was a second generation hangman who prided himself on his work. He developed an efficient system of weights and rope lengths which allowed him to kill the condemned person instantly, and he had a purely businesslike approach to his job. He never employed gallows humor to break the tension. He believed that all those executed should be treated with as much respect as possible, and after the execution he insisted that their bodies be given the same treatment one might give the body of a beloved family member. His theory was that the criminals had been sentenced to death to pay for their crimes; therefore, their account was fully paid as soon as they died, and from that point forward they were entitled to the same treatment as any other Englishman.

He remained anonymous from 1932 to 1945. Even his wife didn't know what he did on the weekends, at least not officially. That's the way the system worked in England. A hangman was not a full-time professional from within the penal system, but a part-timer who was trained and hired in secrecy, then summoned by the state when his services were required. There would be several such people "on the list" at any given time, and their assignments were rotated. They would travel to the place of execution on a Friday evening, receive a meal and a bed, and conduct the execution the next morning, leaving them free to pick up their stipend and return to their normal lives with a minimum of disruption while attracting a minimum of suspicion. Albert was just a grocer so far as anyone knew, and that's exactly the way he liked it. Even under the shroud of anonymity, it was difficult enough to be a hangman, bearing the psychological burden of an endless string of face-to-face encounters with those about to die.

His secret was revealed after the war when the British government needed to execute a vast number of Nazi war criminals. Field Marshall Montgomery asked the penal experts for their best man, and Pierrepoint was their choice. On behalf of England, Montgomery personally asked Pierrepoint to take the job. For a humble grocer turned pub owner, a personal audience with the legendary Monty himself, coupled with recognition as the nation's best at his "other" job, was an exhilarating honor, but the ultimate price of it was dear. As a result of the Nazi executions, the press learned Pierrepoint's identity, and he became quite a national celebrity, often treated to a spontaneous "he's a jolly good fellow" when recognized. Being a celebrity hangman was all well and good right after the war, but the supply of Nazis was not unlimited and when all the war crimes had been adjudicated, Pierrepoint went back to life as usual, absent his former cloak of anonymity. Those last six or seven years of his career proved to be distressing. Knowing who he was, mothers would come to him to intercede on behalf of their sons. Protestors would parade outside his home to demonstrate against capital punishment or the execution of some specific person whose cause might attract attention. Being a superstar hangman is not an enviable position. A sizeable chunk of the populace pictured him as a medieval executioner or as the avatar of Death himself. And Albert was a simple, fundamentally moral man with a good heart. He reasoned that his efforts did not add or subtract a single execution from the record. Somebody would do the hangman's job, and it was better to have it done by an efficient professional than by a hack who might blunder and leave a live person dangling on the gallows in pain. It was difficult for him to reconcile the man he knew himself to be with the man described by the demonstrators outside his door.

To keep his sanity, Pierrepoint had to remain detached and aloof during the hangings, to "leave himself outside" during the process, and to complete his task as rapidly and efficiently as possible. That all changed during the climactic incident of the film, the moment when Pierrepoint loses his professional detachment and looks deepest inside himself, when he is called upon to execute one of his mates.

This really happened. The man's name was James Corbitt, and he had sung "Danny Boy" as a duet with Albert Pierrepoint on the very night he murdered his girlfriend in a fit of jealousy.

In my mind, that is one helluva good story. Almost every single detail is fresh and original and instructive. The ultimate bar for a truthful biopic to clear is to become so fascinating that people would declare it contrived if it were fictional. The Last Hangman clears that bar. It is a rare to watch a film that has such a great story and is so edifying at the same time. And the cast is excellent. A hearty "bravo" for Timothy Spall. An unattractive, overweight, middle-aged actor rarely gets a role like this, with a chance to be on screen during virtually every minute of a film. Unromantic character actors may wait an entire lifetime and never land such a role, but every once in a while fate requires the services of someone like F. Murray Abraham in a starring role. The role of Pierrepoint is Timothy Spall's Salieri, and he absolutely nails it.

If there is anything negative to say about the film, other than the obvious point that the subject matter is relentlessly bleak, it is that the film lacks sufficient tonal contrast between Pierrepoint's life as a hangman and his life as a working class urbanite. Even at home he seems like a particularly wretched Dickensian invention. His domestic surroundings are just about as miserable and dingy as the prisons where he works. Even a night at the pub with the lads seems to be a dark and generally funereal endeavor. I think I would have liked to see him outdoors on a sunny day surrounded by bright colors once in a while. He seemed to need that kind of healthy stimulus to help decompress after a particularly gut-wrenching execution, and frankly, so did I, because the film put me into his point of view.

In fairness, I believe that the lack of atmospheric contrast between the two halves of the hangman's life is not some kind of error made by the director, but a calculated and deliberate statement. That interpretation is supported by some obvious parallels as, for example, when both his wife and a prison warder offer him his evening meal in a comparably joyless ambience.

But, dammit, I needed some relief from the constant morbidity.

Setting that aside ... this is an excellent film. Brilliant, interesting, educational, and thoughtful ...

... just really, really grim.

By the way, Pierrepoint was not literally "The Last Hangman" in the UK. He resigned in 1956, eight years before capital punishment was abolished. The "last" were actually two hangmen who presided over simultaneous executions in different prisons in 1964. Pierrepoint was, however, the last hangman to execute a woman, and the last man to hold the official title of Chief Hangman for the United Kingdom.

After his resignation Pierrepoint eventually became an outspoken opponent of capital punishment, and outlined his reasons in an autobiography, "Executioner: Pierrepoint":

(1) Capital punishment was not an effective deterrent. The Corbitt incident drove home the fact that hanging was no deterrent to crime because Corbitt, like most of the people Albert executed, killed in the heat of the moment without having planned it. Corbitt's actions, like so many others, could not have been affected by the possibility of punishment. Pierrepoint argued that capital punishment is not designed as a deterrent, but as revenge. "Executions solve nothing," he wrote, "and are only an antiquated relic of a primitive desire for revenge which takes the easy way and hands over the responsibility for revenge to other people."

(2) The appeal and reprieve process was unfair. Some men executed by Albert turned out to be pardoned posthumously, but they were denied reprieves, although at least one of those cases (Derek Bentley) prompted a vast outcry for clemency. On the other hand, several reprieves were granted in accordance with political expediency or other motives unrelated to  the merits of the cases.

As you might imagine, the nudity in this film is not titillating in any way. I didn't make a film clip for reasons you can probably guess after you see the collage below.

Elizabeth Hopley



* Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

* White asterisk: expanded format.

* Blue asterisk: not mine.

No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.








666: The Child


An airplane crashes. One survivor, a young boy, leaves the plane alive. A news reporter and her photographer husband adopt him. Bad move. Turns out he is the spawn of Satan, and kills his first adoptive parents before he leaves the hospital. The second victim is grandpa. With grandpa out of the way, Lucy Fir is hired as a nanny, and to provide the breast exposure. Things don't go well for anyone around the boy.

This is theoretically a spoof of "spawn of Satan" films, and had they made it clearer in pre-release that this was a spoof, the film might have been better received. As it stood, the fans of Asylum Films expected horror, and were not pleased. On the other hand, even if we assume a spoof, it is of dubious value. The IMDb score of 2.9 sums it up quite well. There is nothing wrong with the photography, but there's no real laughs, the story is a yawner, and it's such a lackadaisical effort that the director had to run the credits in slow motion to pad the running time to 80 minutes.

The Child

It is available from on a German disk with both English and German Dolby 5.1 soundtracks.


Nora Jesse as Lucy Fir











American Wedding


Today we are off to complete the original Pie trilogy:


Amanda Swisten plays a maid at a stag party and shows off her tits.

Nikki Schieler Ziering plays a tough cop at the stag party as we get a  good look at her Robo-Hooters.







Notes and collages


Part 3 of 3

Stella Stevens


Coming next: Stella in The Ballad of Cable Hogue







Been digitizing all the old stuff that was laying 'round on videotape. Some treasures to be found, despite the quality of that ancient medium. For starters, caps and clips of a couple of things not otherwise found in the Funhouse, which in screen nudity is tantamount to saying it just doesn't exist. 


We have Tisa Farrow (sister of Mia) in Some Call It Loving


and Rae Dawn Chong in Running Out of Luck.  That's Mick Jagger screen-snogging Ms. Chong. The horror.

And for Farrow completness sake, Mia in Wedding. Gad, she was scrawny.

Two other clips of some interest, one of which stars a true superstar. Bad news is that would Marlon Brando. He has a most unusual approach to foreplay as he beds Stephanie Beacham in The Nightcomers. Other clip is Lil Miss Partridge, Susan Dey, in First Love.

On to performances well covered by others but interesting enough to deserve another glance or two.  In that category falls Clio Goldsmith in two movies, Le Cadeau and Plein Sud. Saw Clio on cable when I was 16 in the movie, Honey. Though I had died and gone to heaven. Because I had grown up on Air Force bases I had no idea women could look like her. She remains the perfect woman in my mind's eye.

Sonia Braga is Brazil's answer to Clio Goldsmith. Here's a short clip of her in The Lady On A Bus.










“Peppermint” (1999) is a Greek coming of age film , set in the 60s, - with great attention paid to the re-creation of the period detail - recounting the erotic awakening of an adolescent boy. The subject matter is not groundbreaking and in the end the viewer comes away none wiser. However it’s an honest attempt at a well-traded theme and has some good deal of eroticism in it.

Natasha Manissali plays the ‘Fellini-esque busty’ teacher.

Maria Theodorova is a lady the boys spy on.



To milo tou satana

“To milo tou satana” (The apple of Satan) a.k.a. “Intimate relations” is a 1979 Greek erotic thriller. The plot about the police search for a murderous jewel thief is just an excuse to thread together a series of erotic encounters (mostly as flashbacks) between the female protagonist and her various male or female partners. In perspective, it’s one of the better efforts of the era with production values higher than usual.

The star “Jennifer Mason” is actually American hardcore porn actress Helen Madigan (her filmography includes titles like “Naked came the stranger”, “Ecstasy in blue” etc.). This, and the fact that some erotic scenes seem abruptly cut off just as they are about to build momentum, leads me to think that there may also exist a more explicit (hardcore?) version of this film, a fact not unusual for the period and the director, Omiros Efstratiadis.




In Good Company

“Enas ki enas” (In good company) (2000) is a Greek situation black comedy about two escapees (one from the asylum, the other from prison) who search for a treasure, and the people who pursue them. A road movie in essence, the film is virtually plotless but greatly benefits from the performances of the two leading male actors.

Evelina Papoulia

and a couple of unknowns provide the needed sex appeal.




“Nowhere” (2002) is directed by Luis Sepulveda and Harvey Keitel is prominently featured on the cover. His role however is very small. The film, detailing the sufferings of a group of people captured by a South American dictatorship, is talkative and slow moving ...

but there’s a couple of nice scenes with Bond-girl Caterina Murino to compensate.




Liubi” (2005) is a Greek drama about an eastern European girl in Greece, named Liubi, who finds a job as a home nurse for a bed-ridden old lady. She falls for the young man of the house but society restrictions and family rules prevent their happiness. The film is old-fashioned and uninvolving ...

 but features Eugenia Kaplan, a fresh faced beauty.



Süsse Teeny-Träume

“Süsse Teeny-Träume” (2002) (translated : sweet teenie – dreams , it seems Germans have a fixation on the ‘teen’ term) is a hardcore German film from the “Magma” company directed by ‘Moli’.

It features a scene with German, of Turkish descent, “Dilara” , who later became well known in mainstream films under her real name Sibel Kekilli.



Switching Channels

“Switching channels” (1988) is a witty comedy – update of “The Front Page” - directed by Ted Kotcheff ...

and starring Kathleen Turner who is very good in this.



Edge of Night

“Afti I nihta menei” (Edge of night) (2000) is based on the book of the same name by Thanos Aleksandris, which details the writer’s experiences as a showman in provincial underground music clubs that many times double as semi-brothels and are usually frequented by the lowlifes, the junkies and the underworld. The book became a cult favorite, but Nikos Panagiotopoulos’ film offers a watered down version of it, introducing a pair of lovers and omitting the more extreme parts of the story, perhaps in order to make it more accessible to the mainstream audience. The movie benefits greatly by the music and some of the performances. Greek theatre writer - director Giorgos Dialegmenos has an outstanding cameo.

Athina Maksimou is a joy to the eyes.








Johnny Moronic came up with an excellent project: a complete summary of all the nudity in the first (only??) season of Californication.

Madeline Zima
L.E. Brooke
Camille Langfeld
Paula Marshall
Alison Mei Lan
Rachel Miner
Laura Niles
Michelle Nordin



More clips