Monday, February 1, 2010

Shadowman (1974)

Dir: Georges Franju DVDr

Franju will probably be best remembered (and deservedly so) for the incredible Eyes Without A Face (1960). Unfortunately this one doesn't match the artistry he showed in his more famous work, probably the reason it hasn't been officially released in the states, but it's still enjoyable to watch. The movie starts with a butler going to visit an old woman who he was told could help him steal secrets from his boss. The old woman however, is the Shadowman in disguise and the secrets in question supposedly lead to the treasure of the Knights of Templar, a treasure highly coveted by this master thief. The Shadowman tortures and kills the man for the secrets but to no avail. He then uses a never ending array of disguises, gadgets, kick-ass female sidekick (Gayle Hunnicutt) henchman, and zombies(!!!) to figure out where the secrets and/or treasure is. All this leads to the big logic flaw in the plot, if he has all this money, including a London branch he mentions in one scene, then why does he need this particular treasure? So, let's forget about that. It's a comic book type film with a bit of the Wallace Krimis thrown in but doesn't achieve the pace or shear fun of Bava' Danger: Diabloik. There is however, exploding remote-controlled taxis, lots of creepy masks, an awesome spring-loaded knife shooter (that reminded of the Episode of The Equalizer with Adam Ant), and a big showdown between the Knights Templar and a bunch of henchman. In an interesting side note, Shadowman is played by Jacques Champreux, a screenwirter and the grandson of Louis Feullade who created Judex, Fantomas, & Les Vampires and directed over 600 films in the silent era.
"Just For The Hell Of It"'s print is more than acceptable for a gray market disc. The original image was probably more saturated with red and there is, of course, some fuzziness that can't be helped, but you can see and hear everything just fine.


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