Friday 31 October 2014

The Fifth Cord [1971]

THE FIFTH CORD is an Italian giallo that was directed by Luigi Bazzoni and originally released in August 1971 under the title Giornate nera per l'ariete, which a quick translate tells me means 'Black Day for the Ram'.  It stars Franco Nero, Pamela Tiffin, Silvia Monti, Wolfgang Preiss, Edmund Purdom, Ira von Furstenberg, Agostina Belli and Rossella Falk.   Nero plays Andrea Bild, a monumentally grumpy reporter investigating a series of murders in which he himself becomes a suspect.

I'm going to assume that readers are familiar with the concept of the giallo and will therefore skip the 'teaching granny to suck eggs' introduction.  That leaves plenty of room to discuss the merits or otherwise of this film and it seems to me that there are principally two things to mention: firstly, it is one of the most beautiful giallo I have ever seen - and that's in a genre which is noted for its style - and second it has an utterly incomprehensible plot.  I'll admit up front that I watched it over two nights and may have lost the thread; I must have because characters were bumped off that I had no idea who they were and the eventual reveal left me none the wiser.

The brutal assault that kicks everything off.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.  As I say, the film is genuinely stunning to look at.  The photography is by one Vittorio Storaro who of course went on to forge a world class reputation for his long collaboration with Bernado Bertolucci and his Oscar-winning work on APOCALYPSE NOW [1979]. He also short Dario Argento's debut feature THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE [1970] the film which more or less kick-started this genre and set the template for the narrative and visuals.  Storaro is up there with the very best in his profession and if I had to try to characterise his style I would say it is best suited for sumptuous almost dreamlike photography.  I have the impression that he uses warm tones - browns and deep orange - frequently although THE FIFTH CORD is something of an exception in that it uses a mainly blue palette.

Franco Nero and Silvia Monti
I love the Bava-esque splash of colour in this still.
And again here.
I've written before about films that use visual motifs to underscore the thematic concerns of the story: a good example of this is Jean-Pierre Melville's LE CERCLE ROUGE [1970] a review of which can be found here.  I must say that despite the recurrent visual motifs in Bazzoni's film I couldn't detect much in the way of thematic concerns.  Then again this is a giallo which tend to use style for it's own sake.  So in this film what we get are elaborate framings which use all sorts of natural shapes and lines, filled in with some outrageous colour.  In some respects it looks forward to the Hollywood style of directors like Tony Scott and Adrian Lyne, all coloured filters and shafts of light.  As far as I'm concerned Bazzoni is no more interested in what all this might signify than Scott and Lyne are. For him and them it's all about the surface.

There are so many parallel lines in this movie but what do they mean?
Everything?   Or nothing?
Nothing, is my guess.
What a surface it is though.  You could take practically any frame from this movie and it would make a sensational poster.  There is the beautiful curve of the tunnel in which the initial assault takes place; there is the spiral staircase in Helene's uber-stylish house.  Even the park, where one of the murders takes place, has a beautifully framed path which almost looks like a river winding its way through a field.  There are shots through blinds, shots through windows, subjective camera shots - all of which might be trying to make some sort of point about voyeurism but I'm not convinced by that.  Any such implications I reckon was inadvertent; I think they were included simply because they look fabulous.

This reminds me of the escape sequence in Jim Jarmusch's excellent DOWN BY LAW [1986]

The reason I don't think the film rests on more than a superficial level is because Bazzoni seemingly makes no effort to construct a coherent narrative.  Much like Argento, at least in his later films - say from INFERNO [1980] onwards - Bazzoni is interested solely in stringing together one elegantly constructed sequence after another.  Which is difficult to sustain in a 90 minute movie.  The result is that scenes don't seem to flow logically from one to the next; characters come and go, locations dot around madly and the information given to the audience is piecemeal at best.  It's the kind of film where it's best to simply let it wash over you.  Revel in the visuals and forget about the plot, such as it is.

Franco Nero is of course one of the staples of European genre movies and the occasional mainstream English-speaking one.  I've written about him before but will limit myself to saying he's wasted here: good-looking but given very little to do because essentially the film isn't about the actors.

Franco Nero as Andrea Bild
Pamela Tiffin is an American actress imported to Italy to give the film some marketability overseas. She's most famous, as far as I'm concerned, for a beguiling performance in Jack Smight's HARPER [1966], the excellent Chandler-esque detective movie.  She was on a downward trajectory by the time she came to make this film and indeed only made a handful more before retiring in 1974 to become a home-maker, as the Americans say, or unemployed, as Alan Partridge says.

Pamela Tiffin as Lu
Similarly, Edmund Purdom had long since been a major star by the time he settled into European genre movies.  Initially he had gone to Hollywood in the same wave as Richard Burton and Roger Moore; unlike Burton, Purdom and Moore didn't do so well.  Later on of course Moore landed the plum role of James Bond and never looked back.  Purdom packed his bags and came back to Europe and started making much more interesting films.  He worked with the likes of Jess Franco, Ruggero Deodato, Massimo Dallamano and even the notorious hack Joe D'Amato.  Purdom died in 2004, in his adopted home of Rome, aged 84.

Edmund Purdom as Edouard Vermont
Monti, von Furstenberg, Belli and Falk are names familiar to lovers of delirious Italian genre films and one or more of them seem to crop up in many of the late 60s and early 70s heyday.  I'll deal with each of them when discussing future films because in truth they mainly to look sufficiently stylish to complement the scenery.  Wolfgang Preiss, whom I have mentioned before as being in A BRIDGE TOO FAR [1977], appears in a supporting role as the police inspector in charge of the murder investigation.  He has a couple of brief but important scenes with Nero which, like everything else in this film, are beautifully done.

Wolfgang Preiss (L) as the unnamed police inspector
And here he is again, in silhouette, on the right
Luigi Bazzoni didn't make many films and to date this is the only one I have seen.  Of his others I have a couple of spaghetti westerns and the apparently bizarre horror / sci-fi / weirdo LE ORME [1975] (also known as'Footprints on the Moon) on my 'to watch' pile and will no doubt get around to them sooner or later.  Watch this space.

A couple of other credits worth mentioning.  The score is by Ennio Morricone and is typical of his work in this period, all breathy female vocals.  The Assistant Director is one Luciano Marin who as an actor appeared in a load of peplums - the other great staple of Italian genre films - in the early 1960s.  Bazzoni's co-screenwriter Mario di Nardo worked twice in collaboration with the great Mario Bava - one of my favourite directors of all time.  If you can you should see FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON [1970], Bava's take on Agatha Christie's 'And Then There Were None' which, in a neat piece of symmetry, co-stars THE FIFTH CORD's Ira von Furstenberg.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

The Boogens [1981]

THE BOOGENS is an American creature feature that was directed by James L. Conway and originally released in September 1981.  It stars Rebecca Balding, Fred McCarren, Anne-Marie Martin and Jeff Harlan.  Four randy twenty-somethings set up home in a log cabin in the Utah mountains while the blokes are employed reopening a long-sealed silver mine.

A standard slasher set up you might think, which it is, but THE BOOGENS is only part slasher flick because what is doing the slashing in this case is not a masked knife-wielding maniac but a bunch of remarkably bloodthirsty mutant turtle creatures.  So a hybrid movie then: part slasher and part creature feature.

Boogen cam
I love a good creature feature.  I'm not sure I've really dealt with this subgenre in previous posts so a quick primer is in order.  In my personal opinion, the creature feature concerns a (more-or-less) normal sized animal or animals running amok.  So you could count FROGS [1972], GRIZZLY [1976], THE PACK [1977] or THE DAY OF THE ANIMALS [also 1977].  I would disregard things like KING KONG [1935], GODZILLA [pretty much every year since time began] or THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS [1953] on the basis that those guys are mega-nasties and properly belong in the realm of fantasy or even science fiction.  I would include, however, abnormally large but actual species, such as JAWS [1975] or LAKE PLACID [1999], and mutated versions of actual species, such as PROPHECY [1979] or tonight's film THE BOOGENS.

A Boogen

The Boogens' natural abode
Of course the water-based creature feature, most of which took their inspiration fron JAWS, is almost a genre in its own right, so prolific they are.  You might actually include THE BOOGENS in that - they are essentially turtles and there is a JAWS-esque killing in a subterranean pool - but I'd say it's borderline in that respect.  Anway, let's not get too bogged down in the taxonomy, what of the film itself?

Well the first thing to report is that it's not particularly original.  As you can probably tell from what I've already said, it's a mish-mash of a lot of familiar elements.  There's the aforementioned sex mad dork, a cute dog, bonking in front of a log fire, shower scenes, basement scenes, a stupid copper, a raggedy old man muttering dark warnings, and liberal use of subjective camera.

"That's the kind of window faces look in at."
Somehow though it all hangs together.  The script is well above average for a film of this type and the relationships between the youngsters are well observed.  Yes the sex mad dork is incredibly annoying but the two girls especially are properly drawn characters. The acting is decent too, again, from the girls especially.

L-R: Deputy, Shaggy, Daphne, Velma and Freddy
The Boogens themselves - the name is never explained - are vicious critters who live in the abandoned mine and are thus released when our heroes go meddling.  I use that word advisedly because there is more than one element to this movie which makes a subtle nod towards Scooby Doo. Roger is like a priapic Shaggy, Mark is the clean cut Fred type, Jessica is glamorous, amorous Daphne, and spunky little Trish is obviously Velma.  And of course there's Tiger the dog.  The abandoned mine is in itself a Scooby Doo staple.  You half expect the Boogens to reveal themselves to be employees of the local newspaper but, perhaps wisely, that doesn't happen.

and Scooby.  Pardon me, Tiger.

Yes that's a Deputy getting his face sucked off by a Boogen

The quality of the script can be attributed to Jim Kouf, here operating under the pseudonym Bob Hunt.  Kouf wrote the very decent sci-fi flick THE HIDDEN [1987] and the amusing STAKEOUT [also 1987], the latter of which includes jokey references to star Richard Dreyfuss's role in JAWS. Kouf did try his hand at directing, with less notable results, but this particular picture is helmed by James L. Conway who made a couple of genre features but pretty soon moved into TV work, albeit of a fantasy / sci-fi nature.  The direction is actually the least impressive element of this movie: it's rather ponderous and never does anything you're not expecting.  It's professional enough but lacks fair which, I think it's fair to say, suggests TV is Conway's real home.

Rebecca Balding as Trish
Of the cast, the best known is a toss up between Rebecca Balding, who plays Trish, and Anne-Marie Martin, who plays Jessica.  Balding played Elise Rothman in umpteen episodes of CHARMED, which may be connected to the fact that James L. Conway directed some of those.  Martin played the foil to David Rasche in SLEDGE HAMMER! the fondly recalled spoof cop show from the late 80s. She is also notable for being the ex-wife of the late Michael Crichton; I understand she did quite well out of the divorce settlement and that almost certainly explains why she quit acting barely into her 30s.

Anne-Marie Martin as Jessica

Tuesday 21 October 2014

The Attic [1980]

THE ATTIC is a psychological thriller that was directed and co-written by George Edwards and originally released in October 1980.  It stars Carrie Snodgress and Ray Milland with a supporting turn by Ruth Cox.  The film explores the bizarre relationship between Louise, an old-maidish librarian, and her tyrannical invalid father Wendell, with whom she lives in a palatial house in the suburbs. Wendell treats his daughter with such cruelty that Louise often fantasises about killing him but painful flashbacks to a love lost years before hint that she too has a darker side.

 This is one of those lush American thrillers that proliferated through the 1970s as self-consciously glossy alternatives to the grittier independent features.  REFLECTION OF FEAR [1972] is another example as are Brian De Palma's OBSESSION [1976] and THE FURY [1978] which coincidentally also features Ms Snodgress.  I would also cite THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD [1975] but will not (oh I have) because it is one of the dullest, most incident-free films I have ever seen, in any genre.

These films, it seems to me, are characterised by three elements in particular: hazy, soft-focus photography, a middle or upper-middle class location - often a grand old house, and a shaggy dog narrative, which builds and builds to a climax which may or may not be a twist.  In some respects they are bigger budget equivalents of all those British thrillers from the 1960s with the 'is someone trying to drive me mad?' plots.

Louise gets home from work.

As a consequence of the slow narrative they are often rather tedious to sit through and risk total failure by staking everything on the ending.  It would be uncharitable of me to say much more about the endings of these films because to do so would remove perhaps the only reason for sticking with them, assuming you seek them out in the first place.  What I will say is that inevitably some work and some do not; in this particular case, after some deliberation, I concluded that it did work, that I hadn't fully seen it coming, and that it did give me pause to consider what its implications might be.  So there's a recommendation for you.

Consider the implications of this.

The trouble is that before you arrive at that point there are about 95 minutes to sit through which, despite taking in libraries, travel agents, casual sex, a pet monkey and Ray Milland in the bath, are not terribly entertaining.  Director Edwards manages - just - to keep you watching but, as is often the case with films such as this, it's difficult to tell whether you're ploughing on because you're enjoying it or because you just want to find out what happened.  That's what I mean by staking everything on the ending; the patient, not to say painstaking build up, means the film really has to deliver the goods in the last five minutes or risk total viewer alienation, like listening to one of those long, rambling old jokes that no-one seems to tell any more.  British readers who are familiar with Ronnie Corbett will know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, I digress.  Louise is a monumentally wet character for the most part who for reasons unknown puts up with appalling treatment at the hands of her wheelchair-bound father.  One wonders why she doesn't just bugger off and leave him to it; however, the ending does oblige you to revisit that question in a very unpleasant light.  Which is true of several plot strands actually, to the extent that the film becomes more interesting after it has finished than it was while you were watching it and there aren't many films you can say that about.

Carrie Snodgress as Louise Elmore

Carrie Snodgress, who rather sadly passed away about ten years ago aged only 58, was an interesting actress who mainly avoided mainstream pictures in favour of more offbeat work.  She made a huge splash in her first proper screen role in DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE [1970] for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.  Pretty much straight away after that she began a relationship with Neil Young and became a mother; because her son was born with a significant disability she retired from acting in order to care for him.  She was away from movies for most of the 1970s and by the time she came back Hollywood, as it tends to do, had moved on.  Subsequent parts were very much supporting roles; it's fair to say that the lead in THE ATTIC was very much the exception. And very good she is in it too; it's not a great character to be honest but she makes an excellent fist of it and her interplay with Ray Milland is what drives the movie.

Ray Milland as Wendell Elmore

Milland was old school Hollywood and a major star in the 1940s.  For lovers of delirious cinema though his most interesting work came from the 1960s onwards when he began to crop up in some properly weird and challenging pictures.  He's really good in Roger Corman's THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES [1963] which is simultaneously a trippy sci-fi picture and a philosophical examination of, well... religion, the existence of God, and basically the entire universe.  Great stuff. He made two films in 1972 alone which demand the attention of lovers of the bizarre.  First came FROGS, an eco-horror movie set on an island overrun with the titular creatures, and then THE THING WITH TWO HEADS directed by exploitation genius Lee Frost.  Some may think that he was degrading himself by appearing in films like these but, like I say, they're far more memorable than a lot of his routine 40s movies (with the honourable exception of Fritz Lang's MINISTRY OF FEAR [1944], which is absolutely bloody brilliant).

THE ATTIC was George Edwards' first and last feature as director.  He was much more at home behind the camera both as producer and screenwriter.  Among others he produced the aforementioned FROGS and, in collaboration with Jack Broder, THE NAVY VS THE NIGHT MONSTERS [1966] which keen readers will note was mentioned in today's earlier review of BRIDE OF THE GORILLA [1951].  How's that for a coincidence?

A spirit of ribald mischief prevents me from concluding without mentioning Gary Graver who shot this picture and in some quarters is credited with a hand in the direction too.  Graver did a lot of his work in the porn industry (being responsible for such timeless classics as THE SILENCE OF THE BUNS and CAPE REAR) but it wasn't always thus and he was the DP, if you'll pardon the expression, on Orson Welles's aborted lost feature THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND [1972] which was only part of a long professional association with the great man.

Bride of the Gorilla [1951]

BRIDE OF THE GORILLA is horror / mystery film that was written and directed by Curt Siodmak and originally released in October 1951.  It stars Raymond Burr, Lon Chaney Jr, Barbara Payton and Tom Conway.  Set in the South American jungle it recounts how the foreman at a plantation lusts after the owner's wife and, after killing him, is cursed by a native.

This film has a pretty low reputation and is usually cited as an example of how far Barbara Payton's career had sunk so quickly after its peak only two years before.  With such a terrible, Ed Wood-esque title you might at first blush be inclined to agree.  But while it's undeniable that the film is very much a B-picture, if that, and does feature a man in a gorilla suit I reckon there is a little more to it than first meets the eye.

Barney Chavez catches a glimpse of his true self in a mirror
First of all the title.  During production the film had a working title of 'The Face in the Water' which is both less lurid and more accurate than the title it ended up with.  I can only assume that producer Jack Broder had the final say, being the man who also gave the world BELA LUGOSI MEETS A BROOKLYN GORILLA [1952] and THE NAVY VS THE NIGHT MONSTERS [1966].

Secondly, Curt Siodmak was no hack.  Although he only directed a handful of pictures he was much more prolific as a screenwriter.  It's fair to say there was some crud on his CV, especially toward the end of his career, but this was the man behind the original Universal production of THE WOLF MAN [1941] and Jacques Tourneur's superb I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE [1943].  So I thjink we can give Siodmak the benefit of the doubt in the sense that the film he started out making is not the film that eventually pitched up in cinemas.

The film starts with the decayed, abandoned plntation house slowly being reclaimed by the jungle.
Thirdly, while Lon Chaney Jr and Tom Conway were past their peak as stars, Raymond Burr was a reasonably talented young actor still making his way in movies and Barbara Payton was fresh from co-starring with Gregory Peck in ONLY THE VALIANT, released six months earlier.  So this was no collection of duffers and no-hopers.  Indeed, the iconic African-American actor Woody Strode also appears albeit in a bit part.

The great Woody Strode as Nedo.
So, you might ask, how is it that the film is regarded as a turkey, that is if it is remembered at all?  I often think it's something of a cop out to blame studio interference but in this case there may be some substance to that claim.  There was evidently a disconnect between the film that Siodmak had in mind and that which Broder wanted to shove out into theatres.  There are strong hints of the exotic, even dreamlike atmosphere of I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE; the films even share the same isolated plantation setting, hemmed in on all sides by impenetrable jungle and native superstition.

Like that film, BRIDE... isn't really a full on horror movie at all; it's just as possible to describe both of them as gothic romances in the "Jane Eyre" vein.  Certainly as much screen time is given to the tangled relationships between Burr, Payton, Conway and plantation owner Paul Cavanagh as it is to the doings of the titular gorilla.  Indeed, said beast never actually kills anyone.

Three stills of Mrs Van Gelder's relationships: with Dr Viet...

...with Barney Chavez...

...and last, and probably least, with Mr Van Gelder.
Equally, Siodmak seems more interested in the psychology of Burr's transformation than he is in its physical appearance.  In fact there are strong suggestions that it may all be in Burr's mind, such as when he glimpses a gorilla's face when staring into the river (hence the film's working title).  Without wanting to get too wanky about it, I guess Siodmak is really trying to tell us about the metaphorical beast within, in the same way as Zola does in "La bete humaine" (which, incidentally, was adapted as HUMAN DESIRE [1954] by Fritz Lang, in whose METROPOLIS [1927] Curt Siodmak made his first and only screen appearance as an extra).

Chavez again sees a reflection of the beast inside.
I'm certainly not claiming that BRIDE OF THE GORILLA is a lost gem but I am certainly attempting a certain degree of rehabilitation on its behalf because I think it's better than its current reputation would suggest.  With a more understanding producer - like Val Lewton - the elements were certainly there for it to have become a minor classic.

Raymond Burr as Barney Chavez
Raymond Burr was, on the basis of a couple of his early roles that I have seen, a talented, physical actor who unfortunately came to prominence at the same time as TV and got rather bogged down in that medium when he might have had a good movie career.  Still, he will at least always be remembered for his work, unlike the ill-fated Barbara Payton.  In possibly Hollywood's most extreme case of riches to rags, Payton went - within about 10 years - from A-list pictures to alcoholism, prostitution and death.  I am currently reading an excellent biography of her by John O'Dowd and may treat myself to a Payton mini-festival thereafter; stay tuned for more.

The tragic Barbara Payton as Dina Van Gelder
Tom Conway is another who met an untimely end.  The fact that he is perhaps best known for being George Sanders' brother kind of sums up his career: always the bridesmaid, never the bride.  Indeed, the other thing he is most remembered for is playing gentleman detective The Falcon in a long series of B-pictures from RKO in the 1940s.  But even that was a role in herited from his brother, after George quit in search of bigger and better parts.  As Hollywood moved into the 1950s those programmers began to die out and with them went regular work for a good number of actors (and technicians, lest we forget).  Conway continued to make sporadic appearances in pretty cruddy movies but struggled with alcoholism and, in much the same way as Veronica Lake, was by the mid-60s reduced to living in a hostel.  He died in 1967 of cirrhosis.

Tom Conway as Dr Viet
Like Conway, Lon Chaney Jr was destined to live and work in the shadow of a more illustrious relative.  That's not to say he was unsuccessful - after all he played one of cinema's most iconic monsters in the aforementioned THE WOLF MAN - but his career straddled periods when horror films were, to put it mildly, not treated with a great deal of respect.  Much as John Carradine did, Chaney ended up appearing in a good many films that perhaps had circumstances been different he would have avoided.

Lon Chaney Jr as Police Commissioner Taro

Monday 20 October 2014

Ark of the Sun God [1984]

ARK OF THE SUN GOD is an Italian adventure film that was directed by Antonio Margheriti and originally released in 1984 under the title Sopravvissuti della città morta.  It stars David Warbeck, John Steiner, Ricardo Palacios and Luciano Pigozzi.  As you might imagine, it is a blatant rip off of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, a film which Margheriti had previously ripped off two years before in HUNTERS OF THE GOLDEN COBRA.  In this later effort Warbeck plays Rick Spear, a suave cat burglar and safecracker who is engaged by an equally suave British aristocrat to recover a sceptre that is reputedly buried in Gilgamesh's tomb.

Italian genre movies traded on this sort of thing in the 1970s and 80s in much the same way as Asylum productions do now.  Somehow though the Italians seemed less cynical about their recycling; certainly in Margheriti's pictures there was a genuine attempt to make as good a job of it as possible. One gets the impression that Asylum are making their films to a rigid formula with little or no regard for artistry or even quality.

It helps of course that Margheriti was a decent director.  I've written about him before several times on this blog and it's always a pleasure to catch one of his films.  He retained an old-school fondness for model work in his films (see the review of Wild, Wild Planet) and could usually be relied upon for good set design and photography.  He also knew how to keep a film moving and the very least that can be said of his films is that they are rarely dull.

This is supposed to be a mountain, viewed from a helicopter.  Rather than a sand castle viewed by a small child.

A model car crash.
Obviously Margheriti was working on a fraction of Spielberg's budget so there are perforce things wrong with the film.  For a start a period setting was plainly beyond the budget so the film is set in the grubby yet garish 1980s and doesn't have the sumptuous exotic feel of RAIDERS.  It has to be said Aldo Tamborelli's score is terrible too; regardless of what you think of John Williams' work you have to admit he can write a good theme.  Neither does it have sufficient resources for either a top notch cast or spectacular set pieces.  Having said that, part of the reason why I admire Margheriti is that, not unlike Edward D. Wood Jr, he never let such things dampen his ambition.  So while Susie Sudlow is no Karen Allen and Ricardo Palacios is no John Rhys Davies, David Warbeck is just as charismatic as Harrison Ford and John Steiner is miles better than Paul Freeman.  Similarly, there is something endearing about having a millstone roll down a slope rather than a giant boulder, or having a close up of some snakes rather than an entire chamber full of them.

Rick Spear falls down a hole...

... into a pit full of snakes.  Three snakes to be exact.

And is then nearly crushed by a runaway wheel.
What I've never properly understood though is who these films were aimed at.  I mean, it's inconceivable surely that audiences even in non-English speaking parts of Europe were denied the opportunity to see RAIDERS and went to see this instead?  Assuming they had seen it, why then would they want to see a spunky but inferior rip off?  I suppose the answer lies in the video market which is after all how films such as this made it out of Italy in the first place.  It would also explain why the leads in these movies are often slumming Brits or Americans.  I would honourably except Warbeck and Steiner from such a description however; both made their careers in Italian genre movies and did so with a gusto that shamed much more feted performers.

David Warbeck as Rick Spear
David Warbeck was a good-looking New Zealander who came over to Britain in the late 1960s and initially found work as a rugged model but quickly made the leap into movies.  He was pretty much always a genre actor, starting out in British horror and then Italian horror.  What I like about him is that he genuinely seemed to love what he did for a living and never took it, or himself, too seriously. He never appeared to regret not having had a mainstream film career - he was considered for James Bond before Roger Moore go it - and warmly embraced the fan / convention circuit that his films appealed to.

John Steiner as Lord Dean
John Steiner had a similar career trajectory in many ways although his looks steered him towards character parts, often villainous, rather than the leads which Warbeck got.  His CV though is a delirious fan's dream; among others he worked with Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Tinto Brass, Ruggero Deodato and the aforementioned Antonio Margheriti.  That's as close to a full house as anyone's ever going to get.  Like Warbeck, Steiner's film career tailed off after the Italian genre movie industry petered out towards the end of the 1980s.  Warbeck started accepting smaller roles and made occasional appearances in very low budget British movies but Steiner quit acting altogether and became an estate agent in California.  Sadly, Warbeck succumbed to cancer in 1997 aged just 55.

Ricardo Palacios as Mohammed
Ricardo Palacios is a prolific Spanish character actor who has appeared in dozens of low budget European genre movies.  Besides working with Margheriti on several occasions over the years, he has appeared in several Jess Franco films and a number with Paul Naschy, as well as some of the less familiar names of exploitation cinema like Andrea Bianchi and Eugenio Martin.  Luciano Pigozzi, here going under his regular Anglicised pseudonym Alan Collins, is another familiar face in genre cinema not least because, at least in his younger days, he looked remarkably like Peter Lorre. Unsurprisingly that's the kind of part he usually plays; in this particular case he's the scrofulous treasure hunter Beetle.

Luciano Pigozzi (aka Alan Collins) as Beetle