Jarv’s Birthday Series Redux: Schock (1980)

As has been oft-noted on the various odysseys through the Birthday Series that we’ve done, the closer to the 1970’s you get, the more difficult it is to find the release dates of films. Wikipedia can only help out so much. So, turning to other sources, I find myself digging deep into the dregs of the internet to root out a film, any film, released remotely near to my date of birth. Sometimes this works out just fine, but on other occasions it can throw up some utter dross, or even worse than that Italian horror. So, with no further preamble, let me introduce you to the late unlamented Mario Bava’s last work, cleverly entitled “Schock”. Or Beyond the Door 2 if you’re American.

Contains woman possibly going insane or maybe not and massive, massive spoilers below.

Schock? eh? Should have been called “fucking stinking load of wank”. I’ve reviewed an awful lot of Italian Horror, usually for the vault, and I have a golden rule: if it’s not called Suspiria, then chances are high that it will be absolute fucking honk. Italy is the nation that inflicted the likes of Fulci, Deodato, Bava, and that fucking pervert D’Amato, the man who to blame for Anthrophagus, on the world. What a fucking sorry list of talent vacuums. Furthermore, chances are also high that if it is an Italian Horror film from the late 1970’s then it will probably be assigned to the notorious video nasty list. So, lucky me: an Italian Horror made in 1977, but released on 17th August 1980 in the UK. Therefore, working by the rules, this is not only going to be honk, but appalling, obnoxious grotesque honk at that.

Wee Marco knew it was only a matter of time before the dump he left in his mother’s shoe was discovered.

Well, luckily, it isn’t. Don’t misunderstand me here, Schock is a fucking terrible movie on any level, but it’s not a viscerally unpleasant one.  Incidentally, if I see one more internet arsehole try to excuse Italian Horror’s inability to put anything resembling a coherent and interesting story on the screen by farting out “blah, it’s all about the imagery” then I swear to god that there will be violence. Well, maybe not violence, I’ll probably write a scathing review for the pleasure of literally dozens using the word “cunt” a lot. That’ll show them.

As may now be apparent, I don’t really want to review this film. It’s boring, badly acted, badly written, badly filmed tripe and I can’t think of anything relatively amusing to say about it. This is, unlike most Italian Horror that I’ve seen, remarkably tame, there’s very little in the way of gratuitous nudity, and the gore in it is kept to an absolute minimum. So, no rabid midgets biting off nipples, or anything like that. If anything, this is also an amazingly formulaic film- it’s basically a haunted house/ possession movie, without anything really to recommend it.

“Please, I swear if you take me away from here, I’ll wear the gas mask you like next time we’re going at it”

I cannot be bothered to do my own plot synopsis of it, because it isn’t worth my time, so here’s Wikipedia’s:

Dora Baldini (Daria Nicolodi), her son Marco (David Colin Jr.) and her new husband Bruno Baldini (John Steiner) move into Dora’s former home, from her first marriage, after Dora is released from a mental institution following the mysterious death of Dora’s abusive first husband. With Bruno away as a commercial airline pilot, Dora is left along with her son Marco and her shattered memory of the events of her husband’s death, caused by extensive electroshock treatment she received while institutionalized. Her insanity grows when she believes that her son has become possessed by the ghost of his deceased father, leading to Dora learning the truth about her first husband’s death: she murdered him after he forcibly injected her with heroin and LSD. When she contacted Bruno for help, he arranged for her dead husband’s body to be dumped out in the ocean while arranging for Dora to be placed in an insane asylum, as the drugs injected into her caused her to have a nervous breakdown. Now killing her new husband, Dora is compelled by her husband’s ghost (and her guilt) to commit suicide. The ending shows Marco, the sole survivor, having tea with his parents’ ghosts (who are invisible).

That, actually, doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Well, don’t be fooled. It’s bollocks and the film itself bears fuck all resemblance to that synopsis in all but the most cursory of ways. The problem here is that what we actually have is a boring woman messing about in a lovely house having a nervous breakdown while her obviously possessed kid dies weird things. She periodically bleats “Can’t we move, why don’t you believe me” at her husband before the last 20 minutes when Bava suddenly remembers that he’s making a horror film, so there had better be some blood.

Dora was only staying around at the Ambassador’s party until they broke out the Ferrero Rocher, and not one second longer.

In the interests of honesty, I’m not going to slaughter the acting too hard, as the version I just saw was dubbed, so it’s not particularly fair to beat up on actors for other people’s uselessness. Nicolodi is reasonably attractive, so that’s a plus, but it really doesn’t matter as the whole film is sunk by the fucking hideous performance of David Colin Jr, who wasn’t dubbed. This kid is bleeding awful in this film, hitting, frankly, Jake Lloyd levels of talentlessness. He’s horrible and so seriously unlikable that his time on screen is an endurance test. His cute antics aren’t cute. His alleged possession scenes aren’t scary, and really, I think you would have to go out of your way to find a less suitable child to be the focus of a film about a ghost possessing a child. We are not talking about Linda Blair here.

Really, though, the acting is the least of this film’s problems. The fucking writing (by Lamberto Bava) tries far too hard to be clever with disastrous results. The entire film is playing on the “is she or isn’t she nuts” routine, but simultaneously the script makes it so blazingly obvious that she can’t possibly be insane that the whole thing is a waste of time. Incidentally, when she does finally crack and introduces Bruno to the human- woodaxe interface, it actually feels out of place, because for the rest of the film she’s been doing her best Mia Farrow, and thus it’s almost entirely bizarre for her to kill Bruno.

Dora turned her vibrator up to 11 with entirely predictable results

Nevertheless, by a long shot, the biggest problem that the film has is that it’s basically long periods of boredom punctuated by the occasional laughably bad moment. The first instance, and the most unintentionally funny bit of the film, is when after a lengthy establishing period we see Dora and Bruno shagging on the couch (no skin, so don’t get overexcited). All fine and dandy, except that wee Marco sits up in bed and starts trying to impersonate Regan by shouting out “PIGS” in a demonic voice over and over again. He, quite frankly, hasn’t got the chops for this, so the entire scene is just astonishingly ham fisted and silly. If this was the only example in the film, then that would be one thing, but really, it’s not.

Musically, again this is an Italian film from the 1970’s, so the score is frankly awful. It reminded me a wee bit of the music from God of War 3, which, let me tell you, is not a good thing. It’s horrible, and contributes as much to a threatening atmosphere as an ickle fluffy bunny in daycare. The soundtrack here is simply another inept load of nonsense to add on top of the big pile of uselessness of the film.

Dora knew that she was going to get kicked out of Ghostbusters, because she quite clearly was afraid of no ghost

I can’t be bothered to go on with this any longer. Schock is a fucking terrible, worthless, pointless exercise in tedium. As such, there’s no way I can possibly apply a recommendation of any description to it. Instead, the question here (as this is a Birthday Series review) is does the film have enough to earn any marks out of 4, or is there anything in it that I can possibly use to excuse the film from an Orangutan of Doom? Sadly, the answer is no. This is cinematic turd of the lowest order, and I can’t for the life of me find a reason not to slap it with the upset ape. So, simian pal, over to you…

Next up is 1979’s Rich Kids. I’m nearly there….

Until then,

Jarv

The Full List for the Birthday Series Redux

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

9 responses to “Jarv’s Birthday Series Redux: Schock (1980)”

  1. Xiphos0311 says :

    sounds awful which is a redundant statement since Eye-talion horror flicks are all awful except for a very few .

    Quick question in that second picture in the kitchen is that dude in the hat a doorman?

  2. ThereWolf says :

    I haven’t seen this one (as far as I recall)… lucky me, by the sound of it.

    They are very stylish though, the Eyeties – it’s all about the imagery you know…

  3. Droid says :

    I’m afraid I must fall back on my stock phrase here. I haven’t seen this, and don’t plan to. Italian horror must suck something fierce. I don’t think you’ve ever given one a positive review.

    • Jarv says :

      Demons and Demons 2, but they’re fun and not what you’d call good. Just insane, the pair of them.

      Aside from them the closest I’ve come is Strip Nude for Your Killer (which is Giallo, rather than horror, to be fair).

      The only good one I’ve ever seen is Suspiria. I may do the other Argento witch films (mother of tears and one I’ve forgotten) as they look great, feature juggs, are fun, and don’t suck balls.

      Anything from Italy in the 1970’s is fucking dismal though. Fulci, Deodato, Bava, Roggero (fuck knows how you spell it), and that Cunt D’Amato can all fuck off and die painfully.

  4. tombando says :

    Needs Giant Robots…….ummmm you’re not doing Salo Aka Beaks’ Fappology Marathon I hope?

  5. Jarv says :

    I honestly cannot think of one single reason to sit through Salo.

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