‘Pulgasari’ - Kim Jong Il’s Comsploitation monster movie in full (with subtitles)

The late Kim Jong-Il was a notorious film fanatic, but did you know that in the 70s he kidnapped a movie director called Shin Sang-ok, brought him to North Korea and forced him to make feature films? The most successful of these films is Pulgasari from 1985, a Godzilla-inspired monster movie-cum-allegory for capitalism run wild.

I was unaware of this incredible story until details of Kim’s life started emerging after the announcement of his death on Monday, but in 2003 Shin Sang-ok spoke to the Guardian about his ordeal:

In 1978, he fell foul of the frequently repressive government of General Park Chung Hee [South Korea], who closed his studio. After making at least 60 movies in 20 years, Shin’s career appeared to be over.

What followed, according to Kingdom of Kim, Shin’s memoir, was an experience that revived his career in an unbelievable way. Shin and his wife were kidnapped by North Korea’s despot-in-training, Kim Jong-il, who sought to create a film industry that would allow him to sway a world audience to the righteousness of the Korea Workers’ Party. Shin would be his propagandist, Choi his star.

Shin’s story is as fantastical as many of his movies. He writes of being caught trying to escape, and spending four years in an all-male prison camp as a result, left to assume that his wife was dead.

Then, just as suddenly, he was brought into the inner sanctum of Kim Jong-il, the would-be successor to his father, Kim Il-sung, who ruled the country for nearly 50 years. Shin’s talents then officially fell to the service of North Korea, and he made seven movies before he and his wife made a breathtaking escape in Vienna in 1986.

That entire piece is well worth reading, it’s fascinating! For those of you wondering what Pulgasari is like, here is the full, 94 minute film (in 9 parts, with English subtitles.) The story of a doll made of rice that comes alive after contact with human blood, and feasts on raw metal, the production values actually aren’t that bad - it’s certainly not the worst obscure B-movie I have ever seen (although admittedly I didn’t make it to the end.) But we will let you decide for yourselves, dear readers, whether Pulgasari is the crowning achievement of the Supreme Leader’s legacy:

Pulgasari, part one

Thanks to Simone Hutchinson!
Pulgasari parts two to nine are after the jump…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Michael Gough remembered

Though Michael Gough, who died today, will be best remembered for his performance as “Alfred” in the Batman series, I’ll always remember the great actor more for his roles in a series of low budget British B-movie horror films - in particular the classic, Horrors of the Black Museum, Konga, The Black Zoo, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors and Horror Hospital; his work with Ken Russell (Women in Love, Savage Messiah) and Derek Jarman (Caravaggio, The Garden, Wittgenstein); and his roles in TV series like The Champions, The Avengers and Smiley’s People. Gough was always more than watchable as an actor,, who made even the most trashy films (Trog) enjoyable.

Here’s a small selection of highlights from Gough’s career, which gives only a hint of the quality of his talent and the diversity of his roles.

Michael Gough is resposible for a “huge, monster gorilla that is constantly growing to outlandish proportions let loose in the streets” of swinging London in ‘Konga’ (1961)
Previously on DM:

Michael Gough: ‘Horrors of the Black Museum’

More clips from Michael Gough’s career after the jump….

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Boris Karloff presents ‘Mondo Balordo’

Marc Campbell previously drew our attention to Mondo Balordo, with his post on Franz Drago: 27 inches of swingin’ dynamite. Though not a classic of the shockumentary genre, Mondo Balordo (1964) continued the trend of exploitation documentary devised by Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi, with Mondo Cane (1962) and La Donna nel Mondo (aka Women of the World).

Directed by Roberto Bianchi Montero and Albert T Viola, Mondo Balordo has some classic bizarre moments, and a commentary by none other than horror legend, Boris Karloff. 

Our World…What a wild and fascinating place it is! Filled with love, hate, lust and all the hungers and driving passions by which the strange creature called man is possessed.

Karloff’s association with the film, and billing, gave it a certain amount of respectability. However, the sixties was an odd decade for Karloff as the great septuagenarian actor continued to churn out a volume of films enviable in a man half his age. Though he made some excellent films during that decade, Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets, Roger Corman’s The Raven and The Comedy of Terrors, and Michael Reeves The Sorcerers, he did make some of his worst Cauldron of Blood, The Incredible Invasion, La muerte viviente.

Mondo Balordo is a novelty for Karloff fans, a distracting piece of bizarro movie-making, tasteless in places, though not necessarily for the reasons the film-makers originally intended. The whole film is available below, and here’s how the producers sold it:

Horror icon Boris Karloff wittily narrates Mondo Balordo, a shocking and depraved mondo movie that chronicles perversions and abnormalities from around the globe. You will be unable to look away as your eyes fill with shocking images that will burn scars into your retina and render you paralyzed in your seat. Grotesque and exploitive, but also riveting and defiant of taboo, Mondo Balordo seeks out the most twisted and surprising images. Subjects explored in graphic detail are dwarf love, white female sex slavery, Eastern brothels, black-market smuggling, marijuana, lesbianism, needless dog surgery and the phenomenon of raincoat-clad peeping toms. Experience Mondo Balordo if you dare!


Previously on DM

Franz Drago: 27 inches of swingin’ dynamite

Witchfinder General: The Life and Death of Michael Reeves


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Michael Gough: ‘Horrors of the Black Museum’

It starts innocently enough. A young woman receives a surprise package in the mail.  No doubt a gift from an admirer, or a belated birthday present. She opens it, inside is a pair black binoculars. An odd gift, for sure, but well-intentioned, no doubt. She examines them, then goes to a window, where she puts the binoculars to her eyes. Two spring-loaded spikes are instantly fired into her eyes, blinding and killing her.

So begins Horrors of the Black Museum, the most gory, gruesome and shocking film made in the 1950s. Co-written and produced by Herman Cohen, the American producer best known for I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Horrors of the Black Museum announced a new and distinct genre in movie-making - Exploitation, with its focus on sadistic cruelty and violence. Released in 1959, it is incredible now how this film was ever made, let alone given a certificate. 

Filmed in “the most fantastic advance in motion pictures,” Hypno-Vista, “a psychological technique” where the audience in the cinema auditorium “actually become part of the action…on the screen,” Horrors of the Black Museum didn’t need gimmicks to snare its audience. It may be Cohen’s masterpiece, but it is the central performance from Michael Gough that makes the film so bloody marvelous. 

Born in Kuala-Lumpur in 1916, Gough started his film career in 1947, and has appeared in over one hundred films since. Now best known for his appearance as Alfred Pennyworth in the first four Batman movies, Gough is the uncrowned King of Horror, starring in some of the most interesting (The Skull, The Curse of the Crimson Altar), shocking (Black Zoo, The Corpse, Horror Hospital) and influential (Dracula, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors), horror films of the of the 1950s-80s.

Gough may devour the scenery in Horrors of the Black Museum, but it is just what is needed to carry off such a bizarre and absurd story-line, as he stars as deranged writer, Edmond Bancroft, playing a murderous game of cat-and-mouse with the Scotland Yard Police. Cohen and Gough made five films together, but nothing matched the shock and awe of this beauty. In an interview with Cinefantastique Gough gave a tantalizing snippet of what making the film was like:

“I made five films for Herman Cohen as he seemed to like the way I played his characters or perhaps I should say character because the first three were cut from the same cloth. Cohen was a showman first, last, and always; his manner was always overbearing and his opinions sacrosanct. During the filming of Horrors of the Black Museum, he would show up unannounced onset and tell our director Arthur Crabtree how to direct a scene and the actors as well. I mean this just was not on, and as a result Arthur began to loath Cohen on sight. He demanded all the walls of the set be painted a violent shade of blue or green; Herman Cohen was the boss on all that he produced – and not in a positive way either.”

Grim and gory, Horrors of the Black Museum is definitely one to rent for this Halloween.



Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Denmark: The Land Of Consequence-Free Sex!
09:52 am



More mixed signals from the wild world of Danish advertising.  First came this highly questionable campaign to combat violence against women.  Now comes the video below.

“Karen” is an attractive young mother who’s looking for the father of her child, the product of a one-night stand.  She’s not obsessed, a bimbo, or looking to assign blame.  She simply wants to alert the baby daddy—whomever he may be—that their child “exists.”  But as Sociological Images points out:

The video was actually produced as part of a campaign by Visit Denmark, a Danish tourism agency.  The idea is, apparently, to market Denmark to male tourists with the implication that it?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment