For the film buffs and those who pay attention to movie headlines in general you may remember that filmmaker extraordinaire Quentin Tarantino participated in a semi-annual film and multi media event hosted by the Austin Film Society the first one happening in 1997 and named simply The QT Film Fest. The gist of the event, Tarantino screened some of his favorite movies using his own prints of the movies. His taste varies wildly, from the more obscure American gang/crime movies of the 1970s, to exploitation movies whose sub genres included ‘Blaxploitation’, ‘Actionploitation’ (the latter including lots of martial arts movies) as well as ‘Sexploitation’, ‘Spaghetti i Westerns’ and Italian Horror and Giallo genres all being represented.
The Festival ran from 1997 to 2005, with a ‘best of’ type Festival held the following year where the best movies from the Festivals previous screenings were held. So as long as I’m permitted to, I’ll run a weekly review of two movies that were included in Quentin Tarantino’s Festivals, starting the The QT Fest 1 – 1997. I’ve chosen to review crime movie The Outfit (1973) and The Beyond (1981) an Italian Horror classic, screened at the very first QT Film Fest back in 1997.
The Outfit (1973)
Starring Robert Duvall, Karen Black and Joe Don Baker
Directed By John Flynn
Robert Duvall was one of the more interesting character actors to emerge in 1960s and really delivered on his early promise throughout the 1970s (and indeed the rest of his career). Having just shot ‘The Godfather’, with Duvall playing a member of the mob, it was quite an interesting 180 degree turnaround to see him play Macklin, a recently released armed robber, who had been arrested whilst robbing one of ‘The Outfits’ banks. (The word ‘Mafia’ is never used in the movie nor was it used in The Godfather, and I’m assuming the filmmakers were made an offer they couldn’t refuse to make sure they didn’t use the word.)
Just as Macklin is about to be released, his brother, whom The Outfit believed had been involved in the attempted heist but not arrested, is shot dead. Macklin is released and quickly works out who was responsible, and along with his love interest Bett, played by the always excellent Karen Black, and his old working partner Cody, portrayed by the tough looking Joe Don Baker, seeks revenge. Without giving the game away (even though the movie is 47 years old) I highly recommend ‘The Outfit’ to anyone who is a fan of the crime genre whether you’re in your 60s or in your late teens, and particularly anyone interested in 1970s American Cinema in general.
There’s plenty action, and a whole lot of character development. You’ll find yourself immersed in Macklin’s mission to exact his revenge, and really feel Bett’s struggle, who just wants Macklin to give it up the battle so that she can live in peace with the man she loves. Director John Flynn presents a stylish looking movie and the supporting cast all do a fantastic job. The Outfit was not a box office success, probably due to the fact that the year of 1973 saw a litany of absolutely brilliant crime movies released, and many had casts including more star names. Nevertheless this is one not to be missed.
The Outfit RATING-[9/10]
The Beyond (1981)
Starring David Warbeck, Katherine MacColl, Antoine Saint-John and Sarah KellerDirected By Lucio Fulci
Also screened at the 1997 QT Film Fest was the 1981 Italian horror classic ‘The Beyond’. (Not to be confused with ‘From Beyond’) Italian Horror is a world unto itself, and the two undisputed leading horror filmmakers throughout the 1970s and 1980s were Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. Argento is held in high regard as a director, being capable of putting together dazzling camera work and able to create atmospheric moments without the need for very much actually happening on screen, something he excelled in when he made his Giallo films for which he was more known for than straight up horror.
Fulci on the other hand was the shock master, with blood guts and corpses (often undead ones) bounding around the screen murdering and maiming anyone in sight. Now, something that ought to be mentioned about both filmmakers, they both utilized their visual talents over plot lines, something that could be said of a whole host of other fine Italian directors. Fulci as mentioned was the gore king and although there is a plot to ‘The Beyond’ it really does become somewhat wafer thin on occasion but ‘The Beyond’ doesn’t suffer one bit due to the sheer class of the overall atmosphere and surrealism on offer. The story, in as basic terms as I can possibly provide you, is Liza (Katherine MacColl) a young ambitious business woman from New York spots a property in Louisiana, formerly ‘The Seven Doors Hotel’, which has been closed since 1927.
What she isn’t party to is the Hotel is in-fact a portal to hell and her renovation work re-awakens these doorways of doom, and strange and unholy incidents begin to take place. As the workers are being attacked by unseen forces Dr John McCabe (David Warbeck) enters the proceedings to tend to those in need of medical assistance. Liza encounters a blind hotel guest who warns her “not to enter room 36”, which of course Liza ignores and upon entering the room finds a book called the ‘Eibon’, and then sees the corpse of a dead man nailed to the bathroom door. This man is ‘’Schweick’’ who had been slain by a lynch mob in the hotel back in 1927, under suspicion of being a ‘Warlock’.
Liza runs to the good Dr McCabe to show him the horror she’s just encountered but the book and corpse are gone. What follows is a crazy, fun and blood splattered journey of demons, zombies and lots and lots of blood, as Liza and McCabe discover the hotel is a portal to hell. Again I won’t ruin the ending, because it’s actually a brilliant pay off and the final images will stick with you long after seeing this movie. Although I wouldn’t recommend this to the more mainstream horror fan, if you’re up for something unique and have maybe encountered Italian horror movies before, and don’t mind the English language dubbing, then ‘The Beyond’ is an excellent representation of Fulci at his best.
The Beyond RATING-[8/10]