Thursday, 10 April 2008

Mondo movies and video games

Ben Howard and Dan Auty over at Mondo Movie make a brief mention of British media scares around violent films in their latest podcast, in this case the furore that surrounded the release of Man Bites Dog, Reservoir Dogs and the Bad Lieutenant in 1992. Ben and Dan are steeped in exploitation cinema and have a much longer relationship with it than I have, having been part of the ‘zine scene in the 1980s and 1990s, and seem quite unconcerned about these panics. Their take is that these things happen from time to time and never amount to much.

They point out that violent video games are now taking much of the attention away from violent films, most recently illustrated by censorial dithering and media outcry over Manhunt 2, which has finally been granted a release. Most of the fuss around video games seems to be centred on their availability to children. New laws are being mooted which will toughen up present regulations on selling violent video games to children under 18.

This is a welcome change in the parameters of the debate. Whereas in the past films were banned because of the possibility they could fall into children’s hands, now talk is of tougher policing of 18 certificates, stiffer fines for retailers and the possibility of prosecuting parents who buy 18 certificate games for their children. This much more sensible approach treats adults as adults while protecting children, and is to be welcomed.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Night of the Bloody Apes

Director: René Cardona
Writers: René Cardona and René Cardona Jr
Mexico 1972

"Night of the Bloody Apes" is a Mexican exploitation piece from 1972, with all the appalling production values that suggests. There are occasional bursts of unintended humour – not least that to be had by emphasising the “bloody” in the title – but overall this dull, simplistic film has little going for it. The version I watched, a Satanica VHS release from the late 1990s, is apparently cut by one minute, but even so it’s difficult to see how this incredibly cheap film could provide any real gore or scares.

The plot is basic Frankenstein stuff. A mad surgeon replaces his terminally ill son’s heart with that of a gorilla, which transforms him into a half-man, half ape creature - or at least a man in cracked, slathered on makeup who makes silly growling noises. In the build up to the transformation, the unfortunate gorilla is portrayed by a man in a particularly bad monkey suit alternated with stock footage of an orang-utan. And yes, there’s only one bloody ape, despite the title’s claim otherwise. Inevitably the ape-man goes on the rampage, dispatching with canoodling couples in the park, before a predictable King Kong finale.

None of the gore in the version I saw was worse than the average Hammer Horror, and I find it difficult to see why this film had to be banned. I can only conclude the BBFC took one look at the title and, realising no one would care, put it on the list anyway. Appalling behavior outside any sensible definition of a censor’s remit, but it’s hard to argue they did us a disservice.