Vado… l’Ammatto e Torno (1967, ITA) C-98m. Scope ** D: Enzo G. Castellari. Starring Edd Byrnes, George Hilton, Gilbert Roland, Stefania Careddu, José Torres, Ivano Stacciali, Sal Borgese. Slightly above-average spaghetti western, director Castellari’s second film. Hilton plays a bounty hunter, who may have the last word in hunt for hidden loot. Some funny directorial touches may make it fun for fans, but plot is a drag. English titles: ANY GUN CAN PLAY, BLOOD RIVER, FOR A FEW BULLETS MORE, GO KILL AND COME BACK.

Valentine (2001, USA) C-96m. Scope ** D: Jamie Blanks. Starring David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton, Denise Richards, Katherine Heigl, Jessica Capshaw, Daniel Cosgrove, Hedy Burress. Typical slasher movie about a madman, who stalks four friends after sending them macabre valentine cards. A possible suspect is the boy they rejected in Junior High School. Well-photographed, suspenseful thriller is poorly plotted, like director Blanks’ URBAN LEGEND (1998). Watchable for slash’n’stalk enthusiasts, but story makes very little sense.

Valerie a Týden Divu (1970, CZE) C-77m. *** D: Jaromil Jires. Starring Jaroslava Schalleróva, Helena Anýzová, Petr Kopriva, Jirí Prymek, Jan Klusák. Curio from Czechoslovakia about a 13-year-old girl, who experiences a kind of sexual awakening when her grandmother fails to protect her from lecherous adults (vampires?) and she gets lost in the search for her parents. Mysterious, grotesque surreal and experimental, much in the vein of an Alejandro Jodorowsky, the film consists of a series of stark, oddly touching images. Difficult to access, perhaps, but interesting as a time capsule nevertheless. Based on a novel by Vitezslav Nezval. English title: VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS.

Vampire at Midnight (1988, USA) C-93m. ** D: Gregory McKlatchy. Starring Jason Williams, Gustav Vintas, Lesley Milne, Esther Elise. Quite interesting vampire/cop thriller about investigator Williams, who refuses to believe that recent killings (with victims drained of their blood) were made by a vampire. The viewer is informed right away that hypnotist Vintas is responsible… is he a bloodsucker? 80s horror is stylish, but you keep waiting for it to cut loose, which it never does.

Vampire Circus (1972, GBR) C-87m. **½ D: Robert Young. Starring Adrienne Corri, Thorley Walters, Anthony Corlan (=Higgins), John Moulder-Brown, Laurence Payne, Richard Owens, Lynne Frederick, David Prowse. More vampires from Hammer, as a vampiric count is killed by villagers but swears bloody revenge. Fifteen years later a travelling circus arrives in town, and people start to die. Fairly good, violent horror movie should please Hammer fans and vampire addicts, although plot is a little unfocused. Frederick’s innocent beauty is an asset.

Vampire in Brooklyn (1995, USA) C-102m. ** D: Wes Craven. Starring Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, Allen Payne, Kadeem Hardison, John Witherspoon, Zakes Mokae, Joanna Cassidy. Vampire Murphy arrives in Brooklyn from the Caribbean and tries to find a woman (Bassett) who is half-human, half-vampire. He wants to seduce her and make her one of his kind. Solidly filmed and acted, this horror comedy is fairly entertaining, considering such a ludicrous premise. Might have worked better, had director Craven gone for more serious horror - or made a spoof out of it. Wendy Robie, star of the director’s THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS has a brief bit at the police station.

Vampire Lovers, The (1970, GBR) C-91m. **½ D: Roy Ward Baker. Starring Ingrid Pitt, George Cole, Kate O’Mara, Peter Cushing, Ferdy Mayne, Douglas Wilmer, Madeline Smith, Jon Finch. Erotic Hammer chiller about a female vampire (Pitt) who resides at a castle and is attacking innocent girls by night. Much too talky and even confusing at the beginning (though prologue is nice), film improves in the final third. Well-directed, moody but uneven horror movie was followed by two sequels, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE and TWINS OF EVIL (both 1971). Based on Sheridan Le Fanu’s famous Carmilla.

Vampire Nue, La (1969, FRA) C-84m. ** D: Jean Rollin. Starring Olivier Martin, Maurice Lemaitre, Caroline Cartier, Ly Lestrong, Bernard Musson, Michel Delahaye. Bizarre vampire/sex fantasy about rich brat Martin, who stumbles upon secret bourgeois-like society, which conducts secret perverse ceremonies in a mansion rented by his father. It turns out the members are protecting a female vampire from extra-terrestrial mutants! Rollin’s second feature (following LE VIOL DE VAMPIRE) has occasional flashes of style but drags on and on and on, bordering on pretence due to low budget. Aka THE NUDE VAMPIRE or THE NAKED VAMPIRE.

Vampiri, I (1956, ITA/FRA) 78m. Scope *** D: Riccardo Freda, Mario Bava. Starring Gianna Maria Canale, Carlo D’Angelo, Dario Michaelis. Classic, almost legendary chiller, regarded as the first Italian gothic chiller. A reporter and the police of Paris are after a mysterious serial killer, who drains his victims’ blood. Is it a vampire? Marvellous atmosphere, stylish cinematography (by Mario Bava, who completed the film) and a brilliant score make this a treat for cineastes. American video release, titled THE DEVIL’S COMMANDMENT, runs 72m., features several unrelated scenes and ends rather abruptly. Original version has been released on DVD.

Vampiros Lesbos (1971, SPA/GER) C-89m. ** D: (Jesus) Franco Manera (=Jess Franco). Starring Ewa Strömberg, Susann Korda (=Soledad Miranda), Victor Feldman (=Andrés Morales), Dennis Price, Paul Muller, Jess Franco. Dreamy vampire movie, a loose lesbian adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, which director Franco had filmed before as EL CONDE DRACULA (1970). Blonde Strömberg (in the Jonathan Harker role) has frightening dreams of a female vampire, then is called to a Turkish island, where lady Korda has just inherited a castle from a certain Count Dracula. Pretty trashy, tiresome after a while, but has some atmospheric scenes and the inimitable early 70s period flavor. Exotic, bizarre soundtrack adds to film's mood. Alternative titles. VAMPYROS LESBOS, LESBIAN VAMPIRES: THE HEIRESS OF DRACULA, THE HERITAGE OF DRACULA, THE SIGN OF THE VAMPIRE, THE STRANGE ADVENTURE OF JONATHAN HARKER, and THE VAMPIRE WOMEN.

Vampyr (1932, FRA/GER/DAN) 73m. *** D: Carl Theodor Dreyer. Starring Julian West (=Baron Nicolas de Gunzburg), Sybille Schmitz, Maurice Schutz, Henriette Gerard. Remarkable early horror melodrama about young man, who’s fascinated by the occult and wanders into a strange castle one day where a vampire is stalking the corridors. Ground-breaking mise-en- scene uses creative techniques to chill the audience. Plot is confusing, to be honest, but cinéastes will find this film a treat. Based on the novel In a Glass Darkly by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. Made in English, French and German language versions. The German original, which premiered in May 1932 is lost. A 73m.-long version was restored in 1998.

Vanilla Sky (2001, USA) C-135m. ** D: Cameron Crowe. Starring Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell, Jason Lee, Noah Taylor, Timothy Spall, Tilda Swinton, Alicia Witt, Steven Spielberg. Rich hot-shot Cruise (can he play any other guys?) has an affair with Diaz, who’s really in love with him. When he obviously abandons her for Spanish beauty Cruz, Diaz freaks out and kills herself in a car accident, which leaves him disfigured. In the frame narrative, Cruise is telling his story to psychologist Russell, who is hearing him for a murder Cruise has obviously committed… but which? Mystery drama grows increasingly annoying, as dream and reality merge. At its worst, film finally takes a bizarre twist, which explains most of the going-ons but comes far too late to reconcile the viewer with the overlong film. Director Crowe based his script on the 1997 film ABRE LOS OJOS by Spanish wunderkind Alejandro Amenabar (TESIS). Photographed by John Toll.

Vanishing Act (1986, USA) C-100m. *** D: David Greene. Starring Mike Farrell, Elliott Gould, Fred Gwynne, Graham Jarvis, Margot Kidder, Wally MacSween, Heather Ward Siegel. Above-average murder mystery, based on Robert Thomas’ play “Trap for a Lonely Man”. Farrell’s wife disappears while on honeymoon in the Rocky Mountains and he asks detective Gould of the local police for help. Soon a woman turns up, claiming to be his wife, but Farrell insists he has never seen her before. Rather implausible at times, but humorous and well-cast. This one lives off its twisted ending. Made for television.

Vanishing Point (1971, USA) C-99m. *** D: Richard C. Sarafian. Starring Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, Dean Jagger, Victoria Medlin, Paul Koslo, John Amos, Rita Coolidge. Straight-forward cult movie about former race car driver Newman, who accepts a crazy bet to drive a 1970 Dodge from Colorado to San Francisco. Slowly, after more and more police cars are after him, his motivations become clear. Well-photographed action drama with good chases and soundtrack is a cult film for its outlaw attitude. Remade for TV in 1997.

Vanity Fair (2004, GBR/USA) C-141m. Scope **½ D: Mira Nair. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Gabriel Byrne, Rhys Ifans, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Bob Hoskins, Eileen Atkins, James Purefoy, Jim Broadbent, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Romola Garai. Tenth adaptation of William Thackeray’s 1847 novel about Witherspoon, who comes from a poor family and tries to find her position in pre-Victorian England. Intrigues, affairs, fulfilled and unfulfilled dreams are spotlighted. Lacking any dramatic punch whatsoever, film lives off fine production values and some good performances. Well-photographed by Declan Quinn.

Veinards, Les (1962, FRA) 98m. **½ D: Jean Girault, Philippe de Broca, Jack Pinoteau. Starring France Anglade, Francis Blanche, Blanchette Brunoy, Daniel Ceccaldi, Yvonne Clech, Geneviève Cluny, Claudine Coster, Darry Cowl, Mireille Darc, Louis de Funès, Pierre Doris, Jacques Hilling, Jean Lefebvre, Jacqueline Maillan, Pierre Mondy, Jacqueline Monsigny, Philippe Nicaud, François Périer, Noël Roquevert, France Rumilly, Guy Trejan. Five comic episodes about people winning in a prize-draw and the chaotic events that ensue, which leave them unhappier than before. The first two episodes are by Jean Girault (who also coscripted), the third by Philippe de Broca (he cowrote with Daniel Boulanger), the fourth again by Girault, and the last one (featuring the unique comic talents of Louis de Funès) is by Jack Pinoteau. Vignettes are quite funny and easy to take, but only the second (and shortest) one about a gourmand who has won a fancy dinner in a restaurant is really good.

Vela para el Diablo, Una (1973, SPA) C-68m. ** D: Eugenio Martín. Starring Judy Geeson, Lone Fleming, Blanca Estrada, Charley Pineiro, Victor Alcázar. Two shrewd, sexually starved sisters run a small pension in a tourist village. When young Geeson comes looking for her missing sister, it turns out that the two landladies dispose of what they think are indecent, immoral people. Rather poorly plotted thriller becomes watchable only towards the end. Longer version reportedly in existence, but it’s doubtful whether it’s an improvement. English titles: A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL, NIGHTMARE HOTEL, and IT HAPPENED AT NIGHTMARE INN.

Vendetta di Ercole, La (1960, ITA/FRA) C-88m. Scope **½ D: Vittorio Cottafavi. Starring Mark Forest, Broderick Crawford, Leonora Ruffo, Gaby André, Wandisa Guida, Sandro Moretti, Federica Ranchi. Hercules (Forest) must do battle with tyrant Crawford, as well as some (cardboard) monsters in the underworld in this colorful muscleman epic. More serious and better-scripted than later films in the ERCOLE series, this is one of the best. The effects are very hokey, though. English title: GOLIATH AND THE DRAGON (no dragon appears, though).

Vendetta di Ursus, La (1961, ITA) C-88m. Scope ** D: Luigi Capuano. Starring Samson Burke, Wandisa Guida, Livio Lorenzon, Ugo Sasso, Gina Rovere. Okay peplum movie about strongman Ursus, who uses his superpowers to overcome intrigue against his favorite princess. Okay production values, slightly better camerawork and score than usual, but mostly still just a naïve, boring actioner. English titles: THE MIGHTY WARRIOR, THE REVENGE OF URSUS and VENGEANCE OF URSUS.

Venditore di Morte, Il (1971, ITA) C-96m. Scope ** D: Lorenzo Gicca Palli. Starring John (Gianni) Garko, Klaus Kinski, Alan Collins (=Luciano Pigozzi), Gely Genka, Giancarlo Prete. Quite unusual, but still standard spaghetti western about gunman Garko, who tries to help Genka to convince authorities that Kinski did not kill some people in a saloon fight. Tries to be a kind-of whodunit, but there is no suspense. Hardly convincing, really only for fans. English titles: LAST GUNFIGHT, THE PRICE OF DEATH.

Venere di Ille, La (1979, ITA) C-60m. *** D: Mario Bava, Lamberto Bava. Starring Daria Nicolodi, Marc Porel, Fausto Di Bella, Adriana Innocenti, Fabrizio Bava. Elegant, intelligent fantasy drama set in 19th century Italy, where a rich landowner unearths a bronze statue on his property. The ancient Greek statue then seems to influence the events around his son’s wedding to beautiful Nicolodi. Antique expert Porel becomes witness to the weird going-ons. Barely seen - never released outside Italy, where it was only shown on TV -  but appropriate swan song for Mario Bava, whose last film also marked one of his son Lamberto’s first. Beautifully poetic rendition of a novel by Prosper Mérimée is also surprisingly cinematic, including an excellent score by Ubaldo Continiello. A must for Bava fans. Previously filmed in 1922 (DIE VENUS), in 1962 for theaters and 1980 for French TV (both versions titled LA VENUS D’ILLE).  English title: VENUS OF ILLE.

Venom (1982, GBR) C-93m. **½ D: Piers Haggard. Starring Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed, Nicol Williamson, Sarah Miles, Sterling Hayden, Cornelia Sharpe, Lance Holcomb, Susan George, Michael Gough. Kinski and Reed’s kidnapping plan goes seriously awry when they find themselves trapped in their victims’ house, with not only the police waiting outside, but also a deadly mamba on the prowl upstairs. Not-bad thriller, quite well-directed by veteran Haggard, but also none too clever, with standard plotting and characterizations. Based on the novel by Alan Scholefield. Score by Michael Kamen.

Verano para Matar, Un (1972, SPA/FRA/ITA) C-99m. ** D: Antonio Isasi-Isasmendi. Starring Christopher Mitchum, Karl Malden, Olivia Hussey, Claudine Auger, Gérard Barray, Raf Vallone, Gérard Tichy, Umberto Raho. Rather poor Euro-thriller about baby-faced Mitchum (much too harmless), who witnessed his father’s murder when he was a child, now returns to Spain to kill his killers. Included in his revenge plot: The kidnapping of Hussey, daughter of a crime boss. Some action, little suspense. Overall a disappointment despite having a cult reputation – probably because of its English title SUMMERTIME KILLER.

Vergina di Nuremberga, La (1963, ITA) C-84m. Scope **½ D: Anthony Dawson (=Antonio Margheriti). Starring Rossana Podestá, George Riviere, Christopher Lee. Who is the hooded killer that’s been abducting unsuspecting women to his torture chamber? As in most European and particularly Italian horror films of the period, this gothic tale of terror creates fine atmosphere and offers good direction and photography. However, it also has a strictly second-rate plot, which keeps the film from being a success. Horror fans won’t be disappointed. Aka: HORROR CASTLE.

Vergine in Famiglia, Una (1975, ITA) C-93m. ** D: Luca degli Azzeri (=Marco Siciliani). Starring Franca Gonella, Gianni Dei, Femi Benussi, Filippo Torrieri, Carla Calo, Ricardo Garrone, Ezio Marano. Undistinguished, but quite cute sex comedy, set in a small Italian village, where there’s secret beauty pageants, prostitution and an invading, sex-hungry army. Not at all bad! Nice score by Carlo Savina, who did the music for Mario Bava’s LISA AND THE DEVIL.

Verità Secondo Satana, La (1972, ITA) C-87m. *** D: Renato Polselli. Starring Rita Calderoni, Isarco Ravaioli, Marie Paule Bastin. Insane but artsy psycho horror film about suicidal Ravaioli, whose ex-lover Calderoni agrees to pay him one more visit, during which he stages his own murder so that she can be blamed for it. Enter a crazy neighbor who has seen it all. A mind game between the two begins. Sleaze classic with gore and nudity from a controversial but little-known director. His editing makes this surreal and effective, a joy for cult movie enthusiasts. Sweeping score by Gianfranco Di Stefano. Review is based on 48m. fragment, which presents the core of the plot. ‘Complete’ version reportedly only adds hippie characters and a sex orgy (with some hard-core elements). English title: THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO SATAN.

Versus (2000, JAP) C-119m. Scope D: Riyuhei Kitamura. Starring Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Masaka, Kenji Matsuda, Yurichiro Arai. Japanese splatter movie about two escaped convicts, who can’t seem to get out of the woods because there’s a portal to hell and countless zombies attacking them. Peopled with unlikable, meaningless characters, film is totally pointless, unless watching graphic gore is your cup of tea. Totally uneffective due to lack of plot. If one didn’t know it better, one might think it’s a video game adaptation. Some stylish directorial touches save it from total disaster. A sequel to the 45m. DOWN TO HELL (1997), this is also known as DOWN TO HELL 2, and THE ULTIMATE VERSUS.

Vertical Limit (2000, USA) C-124m. **½ D: Martin Campbell. Starring Chris O’Donnell, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn, Izabella Scorupco, Bill Paxton, Nicholas Lea. Ice and snow adventure about a group of mountaineers who fall into a crevasse on their way up to K2. A rescue team led by O’Donnell heads off quickly, because one of the climbers is his estranged sister. Fast paced but predictable, an okay view. Some audacious, rather painful stunts make it worthwhile. Filmed in New Zealand.

Vertigo (1958, USA) C-128m. ***½ D: Alfred Hitchcock. Starring James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore, Henry Jones, Ellen Corby, Raymond Bailey, Lee Patrick. Hitchcock classic about naïve ex-cop-turned-private-eye Stewart, whose first job concerns seductive blonde Novak, who might be cheating on her husband – or is she slowly going insane? Stewart’s fear of heights complicates the case… Memorable set-pieces, haunting Bernard Herrmann score, an extravagant mystery, one of Hitch’s best (and most fervently discussed). A must-see. Based on the novel D’Entre les Morts by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. Rereleased in 1997 after a forty-year absence from theaters because of Hitchcock’s disappointment with the film’s initial reception. Filmed in VistaVision.

Very Bad Things (1998, USA) C-100m. **½ D: Peter Berg. Starring Christian Slater, Cameron Diaz, Jon Favreau, Leland Orser, Jeremy Piven, Daniel Stern, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Lawrence Pressman. Outrageous - and completely incredible - black comedy about five buddies who go to Las Vegas for a few days to say good-bye to their friend Favreau, who's going to be married to Diaz soon. However, during a particularly rough night, they have murder at their hands and must deal with a situation never before experienced. Fast-paced, amusing, violent, and completely illogical, Berg's first film is a matter of taste.

V for Vendetta (2005, GBR/GER) C-132m. Scope *** D: James McTeigue. Starring Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, John Hurt, Tim Pigott-Smith, Rupert Graves, Roger Allam, Ben Miles, Sinéad Cusack, Natasha Wightman. Comic-book adaptation with style about masked crusader V, who sees himself as society’s saviour after a totalitarian government is in control of England in the near future. Lost soul Portman becomes his companion, but it’s difficult for her to find access to the witty but embittered avenger, who likes to be thought of as a 21st century Guy Fawkes. Story doesn’t ring true, but plot is surprisingly intelligent, and film is extremely well-made, from stylish direction to dynamic editing. Also features a fine score by Dario Marianelli. Based on the comic book series by David Lloyd, adapted by the Wachowski Brothers.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008, USA/SPA) C-96m. **½ D: Woody Allen. Starring Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Kevin Dunn. Light-weight, flaky comedy drama about two young American women, who spend a summer in Barcelona. They are both infatuated with painter Bardem, who just broke up with Cruz, a very passionate, jealous artist herself. A love triangle with interesting complications is the result. Good storytelling involves you with just the right amount of erotic innuendo, though film’s ending is rather unsatisfactory and undermines the entire movie. Otherwise, this is writer-director Allen in fine form.

Victim, The (1978, HGK) C-92m. Scope **½ D: Samo Hung. Starring Samo Hung, Leung Kar Yan. Complex but terribly uneven eastern concerning young fighter who finds out that his new master is fleeing from the wrath of his brother. Goes for awkward humor but cannot be called a comedy because there is so much serious drama and tragic happenings in the plot! The action and the (meandering) plot in this movie will keep you posted until the final fight, which will knock you out of your socks.

Victor Frankenstein (1977, EIR/SWE) C-91m. *** D: Calvin Floyd. Starring Leon Vitali, Per Oscarsson, Nicholas Clay, Stacy Dorning, Jan Ohlsson. Atmospheric, faithful, little seen film version of Mary Shelley’s classic gothic novel Frankenstein. Thoughtful treatment bears less emphasis on horror but on the actual theme of Shelley’s novel, that of the limits of science. Excellent score by Gerard Victory offsets dramatic flaws, low-key treatment. Director Floyd also produced and scripted with his wife Yvonne. Commonly known as TERROR OF FRANKENSTEIN.

Victory (1995, GBR/FRA/GER) C-99m. *** D: Mark Peploe. Starring Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Irène Jacob, Rufus Sewell, Jean Yanne, Ho Yi, Bill Paterson, Irm Hermann, Simon Callow. Beautifully filmed drama from Joseph Conrad's last novel, set in Southeast Asia on the eve of World War One. Merchant-turned-hermite Dafoe returns to civilization to claim some furniture left to him by his father and meets young Frenchwoman Jacob, who is about to be sold to hotel owner Yanne. He saves her by taking her along to his island, but when a month later seedy 'Governor' Neill arrives at Yanne's hotel, the seeds of revenge are sown. Deliberately paced but well-filmed and rewarding for patient viewers. Written by the director.

Videodrome (1982, CDN/USA) C-89m. *** D : David Cronenberg. Starring James Woods, Sonja Smits, Deborah Harry, Peter Dvorsky, Leslie Carson, Jack Creley. Another bizarre horror shocker by Cronenberg: Woods plays a TV producer specializing on sex and hard core, who catches a pirate transmission of a snuff movie and becomes obsessed with it, leading to hallucinations and other weird stuff. What is the “Videodrome” programme doing to his mind? Surreal, no-holds-barred horror, with (can you believe it?) subtle allusions to the not-so-small influence media have over people. Vague and difficult to decipher, which is exactly why this is so fascinating. Beware: This is indeed a matter of taste! Excellent score by Howard Shore. Good effects by Rick Baker. Writer-director Cronenberg reworked the subject matter in a computer setting with EXISTENZ (1999).

Vidocq (2001, FRA) C-98m. *** D: Pitof. Starring Gérard Depardieu, Guillaume Canet, Inés Sastre, André Dussollier, Edith Scob, Dominique Zardi. French mystery horror set in 1830 about detective Vidoqc (Depardieu), who is killed before catching an elusive serial killer that is said to steal the souls of young virgins. In the frame story, a reporter (Canet) tries to complete the detective’s biography by finding the ‘monster’. Uniquely designed chiller is well-directed and has an interesting narrative structure, which outshines the rather conventional story. Marc Caro (DELICATESSEN) is credited as character designer. Shot on digital video.

Vie Amoureuse de l’Homme Invisible, La (1971, FRA/SPA) C-89m. **½ D: Pierre Chevalier. Starring Howard Vernon, Brigitte Carva, Fernando Sancho, Paco Valladares, Isabel de Río, Evane Hanska. Interesting, quite bizarre gothic horror about a doctor (Valladares), who is called to the castle of the mysterious, much-feared professor Orloff (Vernon). It turns out the mad scientist has created an invisible man, who is his servant. And yes, the daughter has come back from her grave, too. Incredibly cheesy at times, but Euro-horror/sleaze fans shouldn’t be disappointed. Good, elaborate score by Camille and Claude Sauvage. English titles: THE INVISIBLE DEAD, DR. ORLOFF’S INVISIBLE MONSTER, ORLOFF AGAINST THE INVISIBLE MAN, ORLOFF AND THE INVISIBLE MAN, and LOVE LIFE OF THE INVISIBLE MAN (the literal translation).

Vieille Qui Marchait dans la Mer, La (1992, FRA) C-94m. **½ D: Laurent Heynemann. Starring Jeanne Moreau, Michel Serrault, Luc Thuillier, Géraldine Danon. Unusual, odd comedy drama about a fraudulent old couple (Moreau and Serrault) whose relationship is disturbed when the woman decides to take an apprentice in young hot-shot Thuillier. Film wavers uneasily between comedy and drama, with a rather one-note plot, but Moreau’s chilling performance as the aging Lady M. makes it worth watching. Try comparing this with Truffaut’s JULES ET JIM. Based on a novel by San Antonio (=Frédéric Dard).

Vierde Man, De (1983, NED) C-104m. ***½ D: Paul Verhoeven. Starring Jeroen Krabbé, Renée Soutendijk, Thom Hoffman, Dolf de Vries, Geert de Jong. Allegorical mystery drama about bisexual writer Krabbé, whose new lover Soutendijk (as a classic femme fatale) gives him a few questions to answer, especially when he finds out that she was married three times and he may be „the fourth man“. Dazzling, well-acted surreal parable in the guise of a thriller about a man who cannot come to terms with his own sexuality. Based on a novel by Gérard Reve, which is incidentally the name of the character Krabbé is playing. Stylish photography by Jan de Bont. English title: THE FOURTH MAN.

Vierges et Vampires (1971, FRA) C-87m. ** D: Jean Rollin. Starring Marie-Pierre Castel, Mireille Dargent, Philippe Gasté. Another one of Rollin’s vampire sex movies, about two escaped convicts and lesbians, who stumble into a strange castle where vampires reside. Medium Rollin; amateurishly directed, but nicely atmospheric, for Rollin’s fans. Written and coproduced by the director. Alternative titles: REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE, CAGED VAMPIRES and VIRGINS AND VAMPIRES (to name a few).

Vieux Fusil, Le (1975, FRA/GER) C-102m. *** D: Robert Enrico. Starring Philippe Noiret, Romy Schneider, Jean Bouise, Joachim Hansen, Robert Hoffmann, Karl Michael Vogler. Harrowing thriller drama set towards the end of WW2: Doctor Noiret sends his wife Schneider and their daughter to his country estate, hoping to keep them away from the German troops in his occupied village. When he goes to visit them, he must realize that his beloved ones have already fallen prey to them. Embittered he goes on a rampage to kill all German soldiers. Unusual revenge drama combines touching flashbacks detailing Noiret’s infatuation with Schneider with shocking bursts of violence. An interesting, little-known parable on the end of innocence and a telling comment on the end of WW2 that also boasts charismatic star performances. Watch this one! Winner of 3 César Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Noiret) and Best Score (a melancholy one by Francois de Roubaix). Claire Dénis was assistant director. English titles: THE OLD GUN, VENGEANCE ONE BY ONE.

View to a Kill, A (1985, GBR) C-131m. Scope ** D: John Glen. Starring Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Patrick Macnee, Alison Doody, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, Dolph Lundgren, Maud Adams. With this film, the Bond franchise lapsed into a crisis (critically speaking). Moore’s last film as 007 pits him against villain Walken, who intends to flood Silicon Valley and thereby control the micro chip market all by himself. Pointless vignettes, unmotivated sex scenes and a rather tired special agent. Some good action sequences keep it afloat. Timothy Dalton took over from Moore to star in two 80s Bonds and was himself replaced by Pierce Brosnan in 1995’s GOLDENEYE (the first Bond film in six years). From A VIEW TO A KILL onwards, no Bond movie really lived up to its predecessors. Dolph Lundgren’s first film role.

Vigilante (1982, USA) C-89m. Scope ** D: William Lustig. Starring Robert Forster, Fred Williamson, Richard Bright, Rutanya Alda, Don Blakely, Woody Strode, Joe Spinell, Carol Lynley, Frank Pesce. Typical DEATH WISH clone about family father Forster, who loses all his trust in the law, when his wife is injured and his son is killed in a thug attack, and their leader is sentenced to two years on probation only! He then joins Williamson’s violent vigilante force in the streets of New York. Badly paced, one-dimensionally plotted but technically okay. Actioner is nothing special. From the director of MANIAC (1980), who was apprentice editor for DEATH WISH (1974).. Also known as STREET GANG.

Vigilante Force (1976, USA) C-89m. ** D: George Armitage. Starring Kris Kristofferson, Jan-Michael Vincent, Victoria Principal, Bernadette Peters, Brad Dexter, Judson Pratt, Andrew Stevens, Paul Gleason. Rather poor but watchable actioner with Kristofferson in an unusually unsubtle role. He plays a newly appointed town sheriff, who fights crime but then takes over control himself. Hardly anything of interest. Written by the director.

Village, The (2004, USA) C-108m. *** D: M. Night Shyamalan. Starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Brenda Gleeson, Cherry Jones, M. Night Shyamalan. A 19th century village situated in a secluded valley is threatened by mysterious creatures living in the woods surrounding them. Now it seems their mutual truce has been violated… how long will it take until the villagers are attacked? Low-key but effective chiller, a little construed, with a somewhat disappointing revelation, but intelligently handled and extremely well-acted (especially by the remarkable Howard). Another Shyamalan film worth watching, though not the horror film advertised and expected by some. Gloomy cinematography by Roger Deakins, fine score by James Newton Howard.

Village of the Damned (1960, GBR) B&W-77m. *** D: Wolf Rilla. Starring George Sanders, Barbara Shelley, Michael Gwynn, Laurence Naismith, John Phillips, Richard Vernon. After an inexplicable black-out in the little village of Midwich, where people fell unconscious, all the women are found to be pregnant. Did some extra-terrestrial power impregnate them? Will the children be monsters? Right on-target, well-directed chiller benefits from tight script by Stirling Silliphant and Wolf Rilla, adapting the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. A small British horror classic, remade by John Carpenter in 1995. Followed by CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED.

Village of the Damned (1995, USA) C-98m. Scope ** D: John Carpenter. Starring Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Linda Kozlowski, Michael Paré, Mark Hamill, Meredith Salenger. After an inexplicable black-out in small coastal town of Midwich, ten women discover they are suddenly  pregnant. Nine months later they give birth to strange blond boys and girls who possess the power to control minds. Pointless, pretentious remake of the 1960 classic. Major liability: Why doesn’t anyone do anything against these brats? A realistic setting calls for realistic, logical action. Beautiful photography by Gary B. Kibbe only asset. Based on the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham.

Vingt-Cinquième Heure, La (1967, FRA/YUG/ITA) C-130m. Scope *** D : Henri Verneuil. Starring Anthony Quinn, Virna Lisi, Grégoire Aslan, Jacques Marin, Jean Desailly, Michael Redgrave, Serge Reggiani, Wolfgang Völz. Superficial and yet engrossing war drama about a Romanian farmer (Quinn), who is separated from his family when WW2 breaks out and must go on an odyssey through Europe. The meaningful encounters and adventures stand in contrast to the naïve man’s simple nature. Not gripping throughout, but well-acted, beautifully produced (by Carlo Ponti) and endowed with a chilling ending. Excellent score by Georges Delerue (assisted by Maurice Jarre). Based on a novel by C. Virgil Gheorghiu. English title: THE 25TH HOUR.

Viol Du Vampire, Le (1967, FRA) 95m. *** D: Jean Rollin. Starring Solange Pradel, Bernard Letrou, Pauly Ursule, Catherine Devil. A psychoanalyst and his wife go to a château in the country, which is inhabited by four vampire sisters. Rollin’s first feature is distinguished by good photography and score, which manage to overcome the bizarreness of the plot and the deliberate pacing. An atmospheric horror classic, but decidedly not for all tastes.

Violent Tradition (1996, CDN/HGK) C-101m. **½ D: John Woo. Starring Sandrine Holt, Ivan Sergei, Nicholas Lea, Robert Ho, Michael Wong, Alan Scarfe, Jennifer Dale. Two professional thieves (Sergei and Holt), passionately in love, turn their backs on their ‘family’, trying to rid them of a large sum of money, but one of them (Sergei) is caught. Later, the two meet again in Vancouver, both turned secret agents of the police. Along with the woman’s new lover (Lea) they are assigned to wipe out a crime syndicate, which happens to be the same one as back in Hong Kong. Action thriller is far from being as intense or uncompromisingly violent as the director’s earlier efforts but above-average plot is smoothly directed by Woo, who also produced this pilot for a television series.

Violenza in un Carcere Femminile (1982, ITA) C-98m. M D: Vincent Dawn (=Bruno Mattei). Starring Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Maria Romano, Ursula Flores, Francoise Perrot, Lorraine De Selle. Bland sexploitation about Gemser, who must get by in inhumane prison, where there’s sex and violence galore. Has all the clichés of the W.I.P. films, but it is poorly made and boring. A later example of this subgenre, which flourished in the 1970s, and one of the worst. The fifth movie in the EMANUELLE NERA series, following EMANUELLE E GLI ULTIMI CANNIBALI (1977). Followed by one more entry: EMANUELLE FUGA DALL’INFERNO. English titles: CAGED WOMEN, CHICKS IN CHAINS, EMANUELLE REPORTS FROM A WOMEN’S PRISON, EMMANUELLE IN HELL, VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN’S (WOMAN’S) PRISON.

Violette Nozière (1978, FRA/CDN) C-124m. **½ D: Claude Chabrol. Starring Isabelle Huppert, Stéphane Audran, Jean Carmet, Jean-François Garreaud, Bernadette Lafont, Henri Attal, Dominique Zardi. Paris in the early 1930s: Fourteen-year-old girl Violette has relationships with various men and is disenchanted with her parents, who show no compassion for the girl’s problems. How can they be solved? Not one of director Chabrol strongest works, film is buoyed by exceptional camerawork (Jean Rabier) and an appropriately melancholy performance by Huppert as the young girl. Interesting mainly for Chabrol enthusiasts, others beware of the complicated narrative structure. Most reviews reveal too much of the plot! From a novel by Jean-Marie Fitère, which is based on a true case. Released in the U.S. as VIOLETTE.

Virgin among the Living Dead, A (1971, FRA/ITA) C-88m. ** D: Jess Franco. Starring Christine von Blanc, Howard Vernon, Jess Franco. Pretty von Blanc moves into her uncle’s castle after her father’s death and is soon plagued by nightmares and other weird going-ons. Rather inept, repetitive and sometimes incomprehensible, this horror film at the same time manages to be oddly atmospheric and even enigmatic! The American video release, titled ZOMBIE 6, is cut and features some footage inserted by the producer (and shot by Jean Rollin) years later. The original version is available in Europe.

Virus (1980, ITA/SPA) C-100m. M D: Vincent Dawn (=Bruno Mattei). Starring Frank Garfield, Roger O’Neil. One of the worst and most unashamed horror rip-offs to emerge in the years following the release of George Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD. Trash production follows the ‘adventures’ of several survivors of a virus catastrophe that turned most people into zombies. Goblin are credited with the music score, but in fact, film just uses their original score from the 1978 DAWN! Several plot elements (read: gory killings) are utterly reminiscent of the Romero classic. It’s no coincidence director Mattei chose ‘Dawn’ as a pseudonym! The running time is simply preposterous, even more so for such an incoherent and dumb movie. Alternate titles: VERUS - INFERNO DEI MORTI VIVENTI, and APOCALIPSIS CANIBAL. U.S. title: NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES.  

Virus (1999, USA) C-99m. Scope M D: John Bruno. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin, Donald Sutherland, Joanna Pacula, Marshall Bell, Sherman Augustus, Cliff Curtis, Julio Oscar Mechoso. Greedy sea captain Sutherland considers his latest discovery, a deserted Russian mega-ship, his chance at getting rich, but it turns out it has been infested by a virus from outer space that is turning the machinery on board into uncontrollable monsters designed to wipe out humanity. After 20 minutes film abandons the plot and rips off countless better films like ALIEN, TERMINATOR or SPHERE. Ludicrous, and a waste of time. Based on a comic book series, and it shows in the plotting, and unfortunately not in the design.

Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (1992, USA/JAP) C-92m. *** D: Arnold Glassman, Todd McCarthy, Stuart Samuels. Interesting documentary looks at 20th century cinematographers and the tricks of their trade. Almost 100 films are dealt with (brief sequences are discussed by the interviewees). Most enlightening and amusing anecdotes concern Richard Brooks’ IN COLD BLOOD (shot by Conrad Hall) and Polanski’s ROSEMARY’S BABY, respectively. Worth watching, although only a handful European films are discussed. What about the great Mario Bava? Among those interviewed: Sven Nykvist, Conrad Hall, Michael Chapman, Néstor Almendros, Vilmos Zsigmond, Robert Wise, Laszlo Kovacs, Haskell Wexler, Gordon Willis and Vittorio Storaro.

Visitor, The (1979, ITA/USA) C-101m. ** D: Michael J. Paradise (=Giulio Paradisi). Starring Mel Ferrer, Glenn Ford, Lance Henriksen, John Huston, Joanne Nail, Sam Peckinpah, Shelley Winters, Paige Conner, Franco Nero. Science-fiction horror film made by Italian hands. In present-day America, Huston is on trail of a child with mysterious powers, which she might use against mankind. Apocalyptic recycling of THE OMEN (1976) is unfortunately pretentious, despite (or because?) presence of stars. For the curious. Cowritten and coproduced by Ovidio G. Assonitis. Original version might run longer. Italian title: STRIDULUM.

Visit to a Small Planet (1960, USA) B&W-85m. **½ D: Norman Taurog. Starring Jerry Lewis, Joan Blackman, Earl Holliman, Fred Clark, John Williams, Milton Frome, Ellen Corby, Joe Turkel. Rare Jerry Lewis movie, an adaptation of Gore Vidal’s play. Jerry plays an extra-terrestrial who travels to Planet Earth to study it and its inhabitants. This leads to more or less amusing complications in alien-disbeliever Clark’s household. Some candid moments for a 1960 movie, as well as interesting Beatnik references. Likable Lewis gives it his best, but plot isn’t very funny.

Vita è Bella, La (1998, ITA) C-124m. *** D: Roberto Benigni. Starring Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Horst Buchholz. Bittersweet comedy set in the late 1930s about a Jewish waiter (Benigni), who falls in love with a woman who is supposed to marry someone else. He wins her over with his innocent humor. The rise of Fascism threatens to destroy their relationship, but the man keeps up his joyful temper, esepcially towards his little son. Benigni's tragic story won him three Oscars for Best Actor, Best Screenplay, and Best Foreign Film. A long, heartbreaking journey into the terrible days of World War Two, with beautiful photography by Tonino delli Colli and a fine score.

Vital (2004, JAP) C-86m. *** D: Shinya Tsukamoto. Starring Tadanobu Asano, Nami Tsukamoto, Kiki, Kazuyoshi Kushida, Lily, Jun Kunimura. Low-key but telling examination of love and mourning about medical student Asano, who suffers from amnesia after an accident which killed his girlfriend. Then, as he takes up his studies again, he realizes it’s her body he’s studying in the university’s anatomy course! Not a horror film, nor a mystery, this psycho drama is not for all tastes but it’s strikingly directed and shot (by the director of the TETSUO films and the incredible TOKYO FIST).

Vittima Designata, La (1971, ITA/FRA) C-100m. **½ D: Maurizio Lucidi. Starring Tomas Milian, Pierre Clémenti, Marisa Bartoli, Bruno Boschetti, Sandra Cardini. Fairly interesting crime drama lifts its central idea off Hitchcock’s STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951), itself an adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel. Unhappily married businessman Milian is baffled when stranger Clémenti offers to murder his wife in exchange for the assassination of his own brother. At first Milian is put off by the decadent, bored count, then circumstances force him to act accordingly. Medium giallo idles along, with main interest coming from melancholy classical score by Luis Enríquez Bacalov. Not bad, well-worth a look. Screenplay cowritten by Augusto Caminito, Aldo Lado and director Lucidi. English titles: THE DESIGNATED VICTIM and SLAM OUT.

Viva América! (1969, SPA/ITA) C-90m. ** D: Saverio (Javier) Setó. Starring Jeffrey Hunter, Margaret Lee, Guglielmo Spoletini, Gogó Rojo, Pier Angeli. Gangster chronicle about Italian immigrant Hunter, who becomes his brother’s partner in 1920s Chicago and introduces a new order in the underworld. Relatively ambitious, with Hunter (in his last film appearance) acting hard against trite script. English titles: MAFIA MOB, CRY CHICAGO, and THE TRUE STORY OF FRANK MANNATA.

Viva la Muerte (1970, FRA) C-90m. **½ D: Fernando Arrabal. Starring Fernando Arrabal, Mahdi Chaouch, Mohamed Bellasoued, Núria Espert. Experimental art film, a reaction to and an attempt to exorcise the demons of General Franco’s despotic rule of Spain from WW2 to the 1970s. Plot outline deals with a little boy, whose father is in prison and who suffers traumata under the wing of his mother, a religious fanatic. Disturbing surreal images abound in this highly symbolical but hard to decipher art film. Off-putting and fascinating in turns. Judge for yourself. Writer-director Arrabal’s first of five (some sources state seven) feature films. This one is based on his novel Baal Babylone. Along with Alejandro Jodorowsky (FANDO Y LIS) and Roland Topor (THE TENANT), Arrabal was the co-founder of the Panic Movement, a radical surrealist group.

Vivement Dimanche! (1983, FRA) 111m. *** D: François Truffaut. Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Fanny Ardant, Philippe Laudenbach, Caroline Sihol, Philippe Morier-Genoud, Xavier Saint Marcay. Real estate agent Trintignant is wrongly accused of a murder and hides from the police while his secretary Ardant is investigating the case on his behalf. Suspenseful whodunit, well-photographed (by Nestor Almendros), well-scored (by Georges Delerue), and not without a sense of humor. Truffaut’s last film was based on the novel The Long Saturday Night by Charles Williams. English title: CONFIDENTIALLY YOURS.

Vixen! (1968, USA) C-71m. **½ D: Russ Meyer. Starring Erica Gavin, Garth Pillsbury, Harrison Page, Jon Evans, Vincene Wallace, Russ Meyer. Typical Meyer potboiler, a sex-and-crime pulp melodrama about a voluptuous woman (Gavin) whose husband flies tourists into British Columbia. The arrival of two holidaymakers ignites her lust, and there is racial tension, too. Not particularly meaningful, but an okay view, especially at this running time. Its easy-going score makes it a time capsule.

Viy (1967, RUS) C-72m. *** D: Georgi Kropachyov, Konstantin Yershov. Starring Leonid Kuravlyov, Natalya Varley, Aleksei Glazyrin, Vadim Zakharchenko. A young seminarian on leave spends the night in a house of an old recluse and realizes that she is actually a witch. The witch ultimately changes into a beautiful young woman, exactly the one to whose deathbed the seminarian is called on the next day. Will he be brave enough to spend three nights saying prayers for her? Interesting, well-directed chiller was the first Soviet horror film, with atmosphere and design reminiscent of the Russian fairy tales of the 1950s and 1960s. A must for horror film fans! Adapted from a short story by Nikolai Gogol, which was also the basis for Mario Bava’s classic LA MASCHERA DEL DEMONIO (1960). Some sources credit cowriter and special effects supervisor Aleksandr Ptushko with the direction as well. English title: THE VIY OR SPIRIT OF EVIL.

Vizi Morbosi di una Governante, I (1977, ITA) C-83m. ** D: Filippo Walter Ratti. Starring Corrado Gaipa, Roberto Zattini, Isabelle Marchall, Annie Carol Edel, Gaetano Russo. Post-giallo sleaze mixing sex and violence about Marchall, who returns to her grandfather’s with a few friends in tow. They plan to party and relax, but soon they are stalked by a maniac. Sounds like it cannot fail, but does so, with poor pacing and gratuitous nudity. Even giallo fans should avoid this one. English title: CRAZY DESIRES OF A MURDERER.

Voci dal Profondo (1990, ITA) C-84m. *½ D: Lucio Fulci. Starring Duilio Del Prete, Karina Huff, Paolo Paoloni, Pascal Persiano, Lucio Fulci. Latter-day Fulci about a businessman who suddenly dies (was he killed?). His spirit remains alive and tries to find the person responsible. Starts okay, loses its way pretty soon, when family relations become more than confusing. Some trademark gore, but otherwise nothing special here. From a story by Fulci (he also cowrote the screenplay). Not-bad score by Stelvio Cipriani. English title VOICES FROM THE DEEP.

Voici le Temps des Assassins (1956, FRA) 113m. *** D: Julien Duvivier. Starring Jean Gabin, Danièle Delorme, Lucienne Bogaert, Gérard Blain, Germaine Kerjean, Gabrielle Fontan, Robert Manuel. Vividly directed, potent crime drama about respected restaurant chef Gabin, who is visited by a girl one day, who claims to be the daughter of his recently deceased ex-wife. He puts her up in his house, without knowing her true intentions. Young student Blain, another one of Gabin's protégés, is infatuated, but she seems to have fallen in love with the elderly man. Slight overlength, unprecise character definitions are film's only flaws. Fascinating, if typically cold-blooded French drama. English title: DEADLIER THAN THE MALE.

Von Sex bis Simmel (2005, GER) C-67m. ** D: Hans Günther Pflaum, Peter H. Schröder. German documentary focusing on several German sex films from the 1970s (the 13-part SCHULMÄDCHENREPORT series) and some hesitantly erotic (but equally trashy) Johannes Mario Simmel adaptations. Producer Wolf C. Hartwig explains his motivations and why he thinks the films grossed six times as much as those of acclaimed German directors Fassbender, Wenders or Herzog. Leaves out many other sex films (and possible interviewees) and is generally not very enlightening. Like the films, of marginal interest only. Among the other interviewees: Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff, Hanna Schygulla.

Voyou (1970, FRA/ITA) C-120m. *** D: Claude Lelouch. Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Charles Denner, Danièle Delorme, Christine Lelouch, Yves Robert, Sacha Distel. Amusing crime comedy with Trintignant playing a charismatic, resourceful thief. Plot is episodic but coherent, Lelouch’s cinema-tography and direction good. Fine score by Francis Lai. Jacques Herlin appears unbilled as the prison warden. Claude Pinoteau cowrote the screenplay with director Lelouch. English title: THE CROOK.

Vredens Dag (1943, DEN) B&W-110m. *** D: Carl Theodor Dreyer. Starring Thorkild Roose, Lisbeth Movin, Preben Lerdorff Rye, Anna Svierkier, Sigrid Neiiendam. Heavy-going drama set in the 17th century about the repercussions of a curse uttered by a woman wrongly accused of witchcraft. Priest Roose, who once saved a woman from being burned because he wanted to marry her daughter, feels pangs of conscience and is soon confronted with his much younger wife’s infatuation with his own son. Stagy, but excellent photography by Karl Andersson recalls the works of 1920s expressionism. English titles: DAY OF ANGER, DAY OF WRATH.