Sunday, 15 May 2011

Yul Brynner Brings It As ...

The Ultimate Warrior

Set in a future decimated by a plague, the Spartan populace of New York City is dispersed into pockets of survivalist groups. The civilised, the lawless and the scavengers each battle to survive in a world where food and water supplies are sparse. The cultivation of new crops is nigh on futile due to ecological devastation. There is hope, however, in the guise of Cal, a horticulturalist who has rediscovered successful seed growth in soil. He resides with the Baron (Max Von Sydow) in a fortified sanctuary within the city. Under the leadership of the Baron the people of this community have security and hope, but across the street resides Carrot (William Smith), a physically dominant figure of leadership to his anarchic followers. Carrot wants what the Baron has, and will do anything to acquire it !.

Fate plays its hand when a lone stranger appears one day. A warrior for hire, prominently standing for all to see in the centre of the dilapidated city. The Baron steps out from his protective haven with a small band of protective men, his intention to offer the stranger food and shelter in exchange for his services. Initially giving no response or indication of acceptance to the proposition made, the Baron makes his way back to his stronghold, but he and his men are set upon by the street scavengers. To their aid comes the stranger, bare chest displaying his strong physique, and a knife wielded in his hand clearly showing his intent. This man for hire is clearly all that the Baron believed him to be, a warrior !.

Yul Brynner is The Ultimate Warrior, and in great shape for such a physical role here at the age of fifty five, clearly setting a great example to the future senior Action stars of today who too have maintained their health and fitness regimes, enabling them to still be doing the physically demanding roles with believability, such as Sylvester Stallone. Brynner’s character introduces himself to the Baron as Carson. The Baron sees in him a man of honour and the perfect person he has been waiting for to entrust with a mission to benefit the future of mankind.

With Carrot and his mob gaining greater strength, and becoming more of a threat to him and his peoples good intentions, the Baron entrusts Carson with the sustainable plant seeds and the protection of his child bearing daughter. Carson tells the Baron that there is an island off the coast where decent people have settled, and are together striving to rebuild a new world together. He gives his word that he will get the seeds to them to continue Cal’s work, along with the Baron’s daughter and child to be.

The first part of the movie sets the scene of the plague decimated world environment, and dresses the screen stage of opposing factions fighting to survive in the dilapidated landscape of New York City. The second act plays out like condensed chapters of good and evil torn from the very bible itself !. A bleak yet intelligent story interwoven with a parable of hope, with the seed of life growing in the womb of a mother, and life giving seeds carried by a strong and good man to a new beginning !.

Yul Brynner puts in a solid performance, and Max Von Sydow delivers a consummate characterisation, in a decently developed production, well delivered under the experienced direction of Robert Clouse (Enter The Dragon 1973). William Smith plays the archetypal villain of the piece once again with screen stealing menace, soon leading him to one of the most memorable villainous roles ever as Falconetti in the epic television Best Sellers series Rich Man, Poor Man (1976).

Carson takes the seeds, and the Baron’s pregnant daughter surreptitiously away from the flailing colony, exiting underneath the compound, down into the long since dormant underground tube way system. Their departure does not however go unnoticed, and word soon reaches Carrot, who deploys his best trackers to stop their escape.

The underground setting is very well structured and dressed, convincingly portraying the look of a future ravaged period set almost forty years on from the films production back in 1975.

With a heavily pregnant young woman under his guardianship, and a band of thugs hunting him down, Carson has his hands full. Things get even tougher as the mother to be goes into early labour, and having to stop, in order to facilitate the birth, Carson must truly prove himself to be The Ultimate Warrior as Carrot himself catches up to them !.

Terrific stuff, and a movie that still holds up extremely well today. The role of Carson was as perfectly sculpted for the role of Yul Brynner as you could ever imagine, and it stands tall as an enduring representation to the quality of its genre and time. The visual introduction of Yul Brynner standing resplendent and proud, at the beginning of the movie, is a memorable tribulation to the screen presence of this movie great, and the gruelling conclusion to his fight with William Smith, as Carrot, is what good old fashioned, gutsy Action film making, is all about.

The Ultimate Warrior Movie Clip

Movie Details IMDB

Sunday, 8 May 2011

African Witch Doctor Prescribes Terror In ...

Curse Of The Voodoo

A stock and schlock British chiller, thriller from the sixties. Schlock horror from maverick Canadian Director Lindsay Shonteff, with stock wildlife footage integrated into an African backdrop setting. A slow paced excursion that delves into the world beyond the tangible, and into that of tribal voodooists. Only the bold and the brave dare dismiss … The Curse Of The Voodoo !.

Mike Stacey (Bryant Haliday) is a big game hunter out in Africa with a party of people, headed up by experienced resident hunter and tracker friend Major Lomas (Dennis Price), who has to hunt down and finish the kill of a lion, shot by an inexperienced guy out for the thrill of the kill. Stacey treks off into the bush land with one of his native trackers, crossing over into the lands of the Simbaza tribe. The Simbaza being practitioners of voodoo, and worshipers of the mighty lion, a beast that is sacred to their beliefs.

The wounded lion is shot and killed by Mike Stacey deep into Simbaza territory, but not before Stacey is injured himself during the hunt, and the Simbaza very quickly become aware of the act. Stacey and his hunting party are paid a visit by the natives that very evening at their camp. Squaring up to Stacey the Simbaza witch doctor visually sizes him up. The imposing warriors then turn away from the camp and disappear back into the jungle whence they came. Back at the Simbaza camp the witch doctor begins to formulate a curse to place upon Stacey. A curse of voodoo !.

Concerned for his friends wellbeing Major Lomas warns Mike Stacey of the Simbaza tribes reverence of the mighty lion and of their practices in voodoo. Typically staunch, stiff upper lipped Brit Stacey dismisses such talk as nonsense. Stacey returns home to England to rest and recover from his shoulder wound which has become infected. Upon his return Stacey learns that his wife has moved out of their home, and taken their son with her. Mike Stacey pays a visit to his mother in law to seek his wife and son out, and discovers that they are indeed staying with her. Stacey’s wife has had enough with him disappearing off for long periods on safari’s and big game hunts around the world, leaving her and their son alone.

Stacey starts to experience unease and hallucinations. Visions of Simbaza warriors chasing him, and the audible presence of a lion baying for flesh. With the infection in his wound sapping his strength, and bringing a fever to his brow, Stacey’s wife comes to his aid and calls upon a home visit doctor for assistance. The doctor does all that he can, but becomes perplexed at why the wound fails to heal.
During this time, of Mike Stacey slipping into a state of failing health, back in Africa Stacey’s tracker, who was with him for the killing of the lion, is bound and tortured by the Simbaza tribesman who placed the curse upon the white hunter. The petrified native tracker being used as a living mirror representation of Stacey, for the practices of a human voodoo doll !.

This is a slow building British chiller with a tinge of horror running through its celluloid veins. It’s black and white film stock perfectly weathering the look and feel of the movie into this modern day. It’s tale is a simple one yet harkens back to the earlier still style of a Val Lewton production. Inference is the key to the movies air of unease, rather than cheaply delivered shocks. A low budget rarely shown picture that would have been the perfect second tier movie on a double bill feature.

The film follows Mike Stacey’s decent into ever decreasing poor health, until the point of near death from the mysterious ailment that eats away at his physical being. His wife visits an expert in African beliefs and practices in voodoo, to be informed that the only way for her husband to end the Curse Of The Voodoo is for her husband to kill the Simbaza who has placed the curse upon him.

Summoning up the last remnants of energy within his ailing body Mike Stacey returns to Africa in order to seek out the Simbaza, and one way or another bring an end to the suffering. The movie ends in a dark and violent tone.

View Curse Of The Voodoo Movie

Movie Details IMDB