Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Barbarians (1987) review


Peter Paul (Kutchek), David Paul (Gore), Richard Lynch (Kadar), Eva La Rue (Ismene/Kara), Virginia Bryant (Canary), Sheeba Alahani (China), Raffaella Baracchi (Allura), Franco Pistoni (Ibar), Michael Berryman (Dirtmaster), George Eastman (Jacko)

Directed by Ruggero Deodato

The Short Version: Birthed by the success of CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982), a few dozen fantasy flicks featuring muscle-bound heroes battled for both big and (mostly) low-budget supremacy during the 1980s; the decade where the sub-genre of men, monsters, magic, and maidens thrived. Italian Cannibal king Ruggero Deodato (THE LAST CANNIBAL WORLD; CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST) tones down the gore and directs bodybuilding twins David and Peter Paul in the US-Italian co-production, THE BARBARIANS, an entertainingly goofy, brawny adventure high on comical protein and low on narrative carbs.

After raiding the caravan of the Radnik's, a nomadic band of entertainers, the evil Kadar kidnaps Canary, their queen. After she refuses to divulge the location of the Radnik's coveted magic Ruby, Kadar begins killing them till one of two orphaned twins bite off two of his fingers. In a moment of desperation, Canary pledges to be his woman if he will spare their lives. Kadar promises the twins will never die by his hand or that of his subjects so long as she upholds her end of the bargain. Years later the enslaved twins grow to hate their captives and are destined to fight one another in a treacherous loophole in Kadar's agreement. They ultimately escape and end up battling men and monsters to both rescue Canary, retrieve the Ruby, and slay Kadar.

With the long-in-the-making release of CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982), a slew of sword-swinging savages and evil sorcerers hellbent on world domination briefly conquered theater screens for roughly a three year period between 1982-1985. The sub-genre reached its adventurous zenith with Richard Fleisher's CONAN THE DESTROYER in 1984; a less barbaric sequel, but more entertaining and fun compared to its brutish predecessor. Ruggero Deodato's THE BARBARIANS (1987) follows the same comedic path as DESTROYER; but is more explicitly humorous, slightly gorier, and with some brief nudity and an R rating. It's also twice the brawn in its casting of the bodybuilding twins, David and Peter Paul.

By 1987, though, Sword and Sorcery had lost its magic. This type of fantasy with Iron Age warriors battling evil magicians, sorceresses, and rescuing barely-dressed and distressed damsels was banished to the realm of video store shelves; where renters would often make their choice based on how well the cover art mirrored a Vallejo or Frazetta painting. THE BARBARIANS (1987), Cannon's $4 million co-pro with Italy, was more expensive than all the 13 Italian CONAN clones combined; and one of the last big screen releases this type of picture received--limited as it was. Cannon had distributed one of the better Italian copies in 1983, THE SWORD OF THE BARBARIANS (1982); but this was the first time they funded one of them.

Ruggero Deodato, known for his extreme horror pictures like THE LAST CANNIBAL WORLD (1977) and CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980), had dabbled in Herculean cinema early in his career as an AD on THE SON OF SPARTACUS (1962) starring Steve Reeves; and ANTHAR, THE INVINCIBLE (1964) starring Kirk Morris. Also in 1964, Deodato ghost directed half of Antonio Margheriti's HERCULES, PRISONER OF EVIL (aka URSUS, TERROR OF THE KIRGHIZ); a high on ideas but poor in execution muscleman movie starring Reg Park battling an evil sorceress who turns men into werewolves. Deodato was admittedly not a fan of the genre, but found himself returning to one of its offspring twenty years later.

Reportedly, THE BARBARIANS was supposed to be a serious tale with all the blood and guts of Milius's 1982 classic. Deodato cemented international notoriety for directing the most sadistic examples of primitive cinema; so a gross-out mythical movie in the CONAN mold would've been a natural fit for him. The twins, however, had other ideas--bringing their off-camera antics to the front of it. Deodato in turn altered the script to suit the film's newfound comedic nature. Golan and Globus warmed to the changes and found it hilarious and were pleased with the different direction the film had taken.

James R. Silke's script is somewhat bland, but fun and, despite some gory scenes, suitable for children and the kid in you. It mimics the twin barbarian motif of Piero Regnoli's script in an earlier Italian CONAN copy called THE INVINCIBLE BARBARIAN (1982); a terrible, if hilarious tale starring Pietro Torrisi and Giovanni Cianfriglia; the latter of which was a regular face in Italian mythological movies in the 1960s as well as the double for Steve Reeves. Cianfriglia plays two roles in Deodato's movie--one as the Ragnik strongman with the white-painted face (see pic below); and as one of Jacko's men in the barbarian barroom brawl sequence.

Unfortunately, Silke's script fumbles the quest formula these movies either live or die by; failing to do much with it till they reach the swamp-laden Forbidden Lands (created inside the De Paolis studios in Rome). Largely inconsequential scenes are dragged out while others that need expansion have far too much crammed into them. The swamp sequence falls into the latter category--where, in the span of approximately ten minutes, they must find the Tomb of the Ancient King, obtain the monster-slaying Sacred Weapons, find the Ruby, and defeat a giant, hydraulically-controlled dragon created by Italian special effects twins, Gaetano and Francesco Paolocci.

With twins in front of the camera and twins behind it, the Paolocci brothers special effects careers began in America working for Dino De Laurentiis at his North Carolina studio in 1983. Creating werewolves for SILVER BULLET (1985) and standard wolves for LADYHAWKE (1985), they eventually made their way back to Italy where a mostly unremarkable string of horror and fantasy productions awaited them like ROBOWAR (1988) and AFTER DEATH (1989). In recent years, they designed the Special Effects Creatures Studios, an exhibit of assorted monsters, dinosaurs, historical eras, and other fantastic creations for Cinecitta Word, an Italian amusement park modeled on cinema and television.

For THE BARBARIANS, the two Paolocci's created a werewolf, swamp creatures that surfaced again in the laughable bore-fest SHOCKING DARK (1989), and a huge dragon that recalls the early work of Carlo Rambaldi in movies like PERSEUS THE INVINCIBLE (1962). It's an impressive monster even if it looks like an articulate, mechanized parade float. It works best in closeup where an animatronic head is utilized; only then it looks less like a dragon and more like a skin-peeled dog.

As for the other twins, the two Paul's (nicknamed The Barbarian Brothers) are basically playing themselves; as if they've been transported from Gold's Gym to ancient times. Their northern accents are out of place, but fit perfectly with the film's comical tone. Deodato's movie is something of a precursor to the later HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS (1995-1999) and XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS (1995-2001) television series' that also adopted a modern approach to their format.

Having previously co-starred in D.C. CAB (1983) starring Mr. T and Gary Busey, THE BARBARIANS made the Paul brothers international stars for several years; going on to headline a few more movies before exiting the motion picture limelight. These other pictures, THINK BIG (1990), DOUBLE TROUBLE (1992) and TWIN SITTERS (1994), were once more the brothers playing their real-life shtick as truck drivers, detectives, and babysitters respectively.

On a sad note, David Paul (see above insert at right and below image at left) passed away from undisclosed causes on March 6th, 2020, two days shy of his birthday. He was 62.

Eva La Rue is the twins' sidekick, Ismene. She figures into the plot in a bigger way later on. Till then, she's mostly sidelined, reacting to the twins bickering to wring another laugh or two out of the scene. This was her first motion picture before performing mostly in television where she achieved her greatest fame starring in daytime soap operas and prime time crime programs. Some of her other film work included CRASH AND BURN and GHOULIES GO TO COLLEGE (both 1990).

Rent-A-Villain Richard Lynch does his usual admirable job of being one of the screens greatest antagonists. His character is a bit more complex than the average plundering tyrant of all your finer barbarian epics. Writer James R. Silke gives Kadar a modicum of substance that, while it isn't much, affords him a sliver of humanity where his attraction to Canary is concerned.

Lynch had previously played the Jim Jones-styled bad guy in Deodato's non-cannibal, gross-out jungle adventure CUT AND RUN (1985). Earlier in the decade, Lynch had played Cromwell, another warlord in the surprise box office barbarian hit THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER (1982). Playing an assortment of bad guys his entire career, one of his unique portrayals was as the unhinged Rostov in INVASION USA (1985), a Soviet terrorist tormented by an old enemy, Matt Hunter, played by Chuck Norris. 

Michael Berryman, well known as Pluto in Wes Craven's original THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977), and one of horror's most beloved actors, plays the Dirtmaster. He gets less screen time than he was afforded in Deodato's CUT AND RUN (1985), and is far less ferocious; but his presence makes for a better viewing experience just the same. 

Another casting choice that sweetens the deal for fans of this genre as well as Italian cinema in general is a cameo by giant George Eastman (Luigi Montefiori) as Jacko. One of Italy's biggest names in their exploitation industry (even writing many of the films), the 6'9" Eastman held nothing short of contempt for the action and horror movies he appeared in; although he comes off slightly more sympathetic towards the pictures he wrote and or starred in for Joe D'Amato like ANTHROPOPHAGUS (1980) and its pseudo-sequel ABSURD (1981). This wasn't Eastman's first rodeo in prehistoric cinema, though. He was the show-stealer playing the lion-head wearing antagonist in Umberto Lenzi's IRONMASTER (1983). He's only in THE BARBARIANS for five minutes and it probably seemed longer to him since he disliked working on the film.

Sword and Sorcery movies occasionally have soundtracks that are as memorable as the movies themselves. Whether it be Basil Poledouris with CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982); Lee Holdridge with THE BEASTMASTER (1982); David Whitaker with THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER (1982); or Ennio Moriconne with HUNDRA (1983), the power of rage and romanticism produced some fantastic musical compositions in this sub-genre. Pino Donaggio's score never reaches the heights of the above-mentioned soundtracks. It does have a few energetic cues; particularly the main theme that sounds like what you'd expect the Paul's to be working out to in the gym.

Overall, it's a surprisingly lavish production with a sheen the Sword and Sorcery movies hadn't seen since the terrible, but bigger budgeted genre killer RED SONJA (1985). Like the peplum and westerns before them, once comedy creeps in, the end is near. Regardless of some flaws, had there been additional heroic quest movies as strong as this one, THE BARBARIANS could've been a new beginning. Ruggero Deodato, his cast and crew, gave the mythical movies one last worthwhile entry before the television medium made them popular again. A lovably bone-headed, spectacularly silly movie, THE BARBARIANS (1987) never seeks to be anything more than that; and that's where its charm lies.

This review is representative of the All Region Spanish blu-ray (LS BARBAROS); Specs and extras: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen; English, Spanish, German language tracks; running time: 01:27:19

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

She (1983) review; & A Conversation with Godan: Gregory Snegoff on Filming She and His Career In Dubbing

SHE 1983

Sandahl Bergman (She), David Goss (Tom), Quin Kessler (Shanda), Harrison Muller (Dick), Elena Wiedermann (Hari), Gordon Mitchell (Hector), Laurie Sherman (Taphir), Andrew McLeay (Tark), Cyrus Elias (Kram), David Brandon (Pretty Boy), Susan Adler (Pretty Girl), Gregory Snegoff (Godan), Mary D'Antin (Eva), Mario Pedone (Rudolph), Donald Hodson (Rabel), Maria Quasimodo (Moona), David Traylor (Xenon)

Directed by Avi Nesher

"I didn't write [SHE] the way you do normal, conventional, well-organized cinema. I didn't even think it would happen. It was so far from the original novel, and it was so far from the way these movies are normally shot... I thought the producer would look at it and say 'that's bullshit' and it would never happen... and they greenlit the movie, much to my astonishment."--Director Avi Nesher, SHE blu-ray interview

The Short Version: Award-winning Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher is responsible for what is ostensibly the nuttiest, most incomprehensible of both the sword and sorcery and post-apocalyptic actioners in the wake of THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981) and CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982); the clones of which laid waste to video store shelves everywhere in the 1980s. Beyond the brainless onslaught of chainsaw-wielding mutants, toga-wearing lycanthropes, telekinetic communists, and wisecracking aliens that can regenerate severed limbs are plentiful sight gags and a smart sense of humor. The plot is about as rich as the junk-man art decor; but fun is truly had in what amounts to a 100+ minute rock and metal music video. SHE is unpredictable and has numerous mood swings, but SHE certainly knows how to show you a good time.

After a nuclear holocaust, a new society arises ruled by an array of gangs modeled on historical figures; some of which are led by beings with supernatural powers and some of whom call themselves gods. Among these is She, an immortal goddess of the Eurich and ruler of a society of women that dominates and enslaves men. When a man's sister is abducted by the Norks, She reluctantly sides with the men to find the sister. They embark on a bizarre journey that leads them to the Nork stronghold inside a crumbling city destroyed by the bomb.

Fresh off her success in the big budget CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sandahl Bergman takes center stage in the smaller scaled, futuristic barbarian flick, SHE. A bone-headed reworking of H. Rider Haggard's popular novel, 'She: A History of Adventure', Nesher's wildly out of control interpretation has as much familiarity to its source material as it does adherence to narrative cohesiveness.

Unfolding like any of your finer 80s rock/heavy metal videos, SHE makes about as much sense as one, too. Opening with an animated sequence of global Armageddon replete with burning bodies and the Grim Reaper (see below), the picture segues into live-action with a title card stating it's "Year 23 after the Cancellation". From there it's a typical "pillage the village" sequence that introduces the villains a la CONAN THE BARBARIAN; but instead of Wagnerian accompaniment, it's metal music as Hector (played by Euro-cult mainstay, Gordon Mitchell) and his colorfully costumed Nork soldiers ransack Heaven's Gate; a tiny community big on product placement and named after a bomb of another kind from 1980.

The plot is virtually non-existent and episodic in nature. It's a 'capture and rescue' tale to find a kidnapped sister who has no lines, being held by a lead villain whom we never learn anything about. We discover as much about the protagonists as well. Even the title warrior woman has very little revealed about her.

Nesher's script is pure anarchy on paper. According to an interview on the blu-ray, he intentionally wrote the picture this way, with the sole purpose of getting as far away from a linear narrative as you could get. Another example of how in on the joke Nesher was, his main characters are all named Tom, Dick and Hari. If you go into the movie expecting clarity, SHE will frustrate the hell out of you (you can read our 2009 review HERE). Just the same, Nesher's deliberately fragmented flick presents some fascinating themes and ideas--creating a post-holocaust society that has started over and every historical dictator, time period, and bizarre fashion sense has mutated into a single era. 

Sandahl Bergman was the 'It Girl' in the action genre in those days; her role in CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) made her popular with teenage boys at the time and it wasn't unusual to see pin-ups and posters of her on some kids bedroom wall. Both she and Schwarzenegger trained with noted Japanese martial artist Kiyoshi Yamazaki for their parts. With her skills as a dancer, she was a natural for this type of action--without the need of a double, and she looks fantastic in the fight scenes. Bergman genuinely comes off better than anyone else while leaping and dodging and clashing blades with the stuntmen. It's her film, but the non-stop craziness of the "anything goes" script undermines her character at times.

After passing through a gauntlet of swordsmen dressed like knights and a robot Frankenstein's Monster, She heals herself in a magical bath, giving an opportunity for Bergman to show off her breasts and regenerate her life anew. This is one of the fleeting connections to Haggard's novel. It teases another with a prophecy that the love of a man will one day destroy her; but this is abandoned during the finale so that She will retain her youthful vibrance for another cycle, waiting decades for the planned sequel that never materialized.

From there the lunacy intensifies as the man-hating She and her second-in-command, Shanda, eventually team-up with Tom and Dick. Our quartet of heroes commence on a bizarre quest that takes them to a factory inhabited by loose-limbed, cloth-wrapped mutants brandishing chainsaws; then on to a hedonistic hamlet of toga-wearing werewolves who listen to vinyl records during the day, and dine on any passersby during the night; next is the villa occupied by a super-powered, telekinetic communist named Godan (played by Gregory Snegoff); when our heroes escape from there, they find themselves once again captured by a mad scientist and his silent, Bud Spencer-like bodyguard wearing a ballerina outfit living inside an expansive oxygen tent filled with various fauna and animals. 

They then run afoul of Xenon, the film's most memorable personality; guarding the bridge leading into the Norks domain. A matte painting depicts the Norkian stronghold inside an irradiated, destroyed city; but several wide shots clearly reveal farmland and a dirt road beyond the big wall (see pic above). As much intentional goofiness as SHE revels in, it's flubs like this that only make this low budget delicacy all the more delicious.

American David Traylor was a popular comedian in Italy at the time (and still working today) so his participation in SHE gave the film some marquee value in those markets. His skills as a mime were suited to the role of the wacky Xenon, a strange, alien being with both a vast knowledge of American pop culture references and one-liners, but also an ability to regenerate into a clone of himself whenever a limb is cut off. Out of all the onscreen insanity, Xenon's shtick is the film's most unforgettable and hilarious sequence. 

Gordon Mitchell (see insert) started out playing good guys but his granite-faced visage had other ideas, making him a big star essaying countless villains of one sort or other. He headlined or guest-starred in dozens of muscleman movies, Italian westerns, horror, action, etc. He's one of the most familiar faces in all of international cinema. In SHE, you think he's the lead antagonist, but he's not. He looks menacing in a few scenes but does even less than Boba Fett in the STAR WARS movies. The real main villain is the Nork God Erraton (see above), who speaks through a voice box and wears what looks like a diving suit covered in glitter and sits on a throne made of two monster truck tires. 

David Brandon, an Irish actor of stage and screen (David Cain Haughton), is another familiar face; and a welcome personality to bolster the film's appeal with the Euro-cult fans. He had the lead in Joe D'Amato's absurdly trashy CALIGULA: THE UNTOLD STORY (1982); the main villain with the Fu Manchu mustache in D'Amato's unintentionally hilarious ATOR sequel, THE BLADE MASTER (1984); and one of his best roles in Michele Soavi's superb Italo-slasher STAGE FRIGHT (1987). In SHE, Brandon plays Pretty Boy, the leader of a strange commune of hedonists partially built on the Roman Empire. During the day, they're all about a good time; but at night, the groups lupine nature comes out. Brandon's in his element and, despite his brief time onscreen, is the best actor of the many featured.

Other than an international selection of actors, virtually none of the main cast on the SHE roster went on to lengthy careers in the industry. David Goss had leading man looks but did very little afterward. The gorgeous Quin Kessler was announced as the lead in Cannon's lady Tarzan flick JANE in 1983 but it was never made. She did a few TV show appearances and movies like the quirky comedy WISHMAN in 1992 before quitting the industry. Harrison Muller, as the annoying but aptly named Dick, co-starred in a handful of 80s barbarian and post-nuke movies before calling it quits by 1989.

Bergman headlined another Trans World production in 1987 titled PROGRAMMED TO KILL (aka THE RETALIATOR), a film that was essentially remade as the nearly identical EVE OF DESTRUCTION in 1991. After FATAL ATTRACTION (1986) and BASIC INSTINCT (1992) were huge hits, the market for erotic thrillers exploded and Sandahl found herself cast in a slew of them and a number of television appearances.

Co-financed through Continental Motion Pictures and Trans World Entertainment for the brother and sister team, Eduard and Helen Sarlui, Trans World was something of a competitor for the Cannon Group during an approximate ten year period between 1983-1993. Founded by Sarlui and Moshe Diamant, Trans World managed to steal Sho Kosugi away from Cannon for PRAY FOR DEATH (1985) and RAGE OF HONOR (1987); while also producing a video series titled Ninja Theater with Kosugi acting as host to a healthy line of Chinese Kung Fu movies. 

In 1988, Trans World execs Moshe Diamant and Eduard Sarlui failed to bring Marlon Brando's 'Jericho' to the big screen in a $65 million co-production with Brando associate Elliott Kastner before they were swallowed up with other small label production companies in the Giancarlo Parretti scandal of the late 80s-early 90s. Diamant eventually began a working relationship with Jean Claude Van Damme, producing several movies with him. Diamant remains a big Hollywood producer today.

In those days, both Continental and Trans World produced and distributed a handful of Drive-in style pictures that got frequent airplay on television and, whether through them or another company, theatrical and video distribution with titles like WARRIOR OF THE LOST WORLD (1983), CREATURE (1985), and ALIEN PREDATORS (1986); SHE (1983) being among them.

As stated above, SHE is comparable to a heavy metal video. This is highlighted by an eclectic soundtrack of international rock and metal artists; some of whom were well known. The soundtrack is very good and it's surprising an album was never produced. Motorhead contributed musical cues; Rick Wakeman of Yes wrote 'Rescue Me', sang by Scottish singer Maggie Bell; The Boppers, a Swedish rock band, furnished the Doo Wop styled 'Why?'; director Avi Nesher wrote two metal numbers titled 'Scream In the Night' and 'War', both of which were performed by a band called Bastard; Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues wrote and performed a ballad, the melancholic and catchy 'Eternal Woman'. In a film as confounding and out of control as SHE is, the soundtrack certainly fits with its array of musical styles; and a score that's typically, and suitably 80s.


As an added attraction, we've included an interview with Gregory Snegoff, Godan himself; where he talks not only about working on the film, but his career on the whole. Snegoff comes from a family of Hollywood performers. His brother Tom, for example, is a prolific stuntman who has amassed over 440 credits just in stunts alone. Gregory has acted in front of the camera, but found his calling behind it, working predominantly in the dubbing studio. If you're a fan of Italian exploitation movies and Japanese anime, you've heard his voice many times. Enjoy the interview.

VENOMS5: Tell me a bit about yourself and how you got involved in the film industry.

GREGORY SNEGOFF: I'm a 3rd generation actor. I've always been in the film industry. When I was 23 I moved to Rome. I ended up staying and continued working as an actor. I discovered I had a knack for dubbing which didn't really exist in America at the time. We're talking late 70s-early 80s. Rome was the dubbing center of the world. Not just for Italy but for films all over the world. So there was quite a lot of work. I did work on thousands of radio commercials and acted and directed commercials and in mid-1984, I was shooting a six hour mini-series called CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS. It was the first of a bunch of mini-series about Columbus. I came back to the states in 1985 and started a dubbing business in LA and worked in dubbing animation. In 1991 I went back and forth and in 1992, I moved back to Rome and stayed.

V5: Was it more difficult being an onscreen actor versus being a dubber?

GS: Some actors are better at dubbing than others. Some may not be able to see sync. In film and TV when an actor has to loop his own lines, some actors are terrible at it, nevermind dubbing other people. They don't have a musical ear. It's like dealing with rhythm. Dancers do it quite well. If you're a good actor and you know how to dub you'll be good at it. It takes a certain ability to put emotion into your dialog when you're standing in your jeans and T-shirt and you don't see the script ahead of time. It's broken up into loops, requiring some serious memorization skills. In America now we cut the loops down really short. When I first came back in 1984 I hit up some of the dubbing studios. I had learned from the Italians don't cut up the loops like that, because you'd memorize a page at the time. Here, it was annoying so I'd do a page at a time and ended up making a name for myself. We've gotten a bit lazy now for chopping up the loops so small. The ADR (Automated Dialog Replacement) systems are much more accurate today, though. The perks for dubbing versus acting in front of a camera is not sitting in a chair for hours in makeup and you don't have to dress up for the part. A lot of people think being famous is great but it ain't necessarily so. You think about Stallone and Willis on the street and being approached a lot; but when you're a voice actor nobody bothers you so long as you keep your mouth shut (laugh).

V5: How did your role in SHE come about?

GS: Italy was never terribly big on auditions. It's still rare for them to do auditions. If they like your face, you get the job. In this case, I may have read for Avi, I can't recall. Godan became the big baddie in the film. I still may have a Godan poster from the movie, too; the ones you see plastered everywhere. I had one in my apartment and when people would come over it would scare the shit out of them (laughs).

V5: What did you think of the film at the time?

GS: Avi was good to work with, but I didn't think much of it, actually. It wasn't a terrific film then or now. It was Sandahl's movie and she'd just come off a successful Broadway show and then she did CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982).

V5: What was your experience working with her?

GS: A very nice lady and a good sport. Very pleasant to work with. A low budget isn't terribly easy to work in. The script wasn't great and she made the best of things. David Traylor had it the easiest with all the silly lines.

V5: He's the funniest part of the movie.

GS: He and I arrived in Rome at the same time. We both went on English language radio and did separate shows and he became insanely famous over there. Unfortunately, he made a poor career choice. He wanted to be a standup comic so he quit his show and wanted to come back to America to be a comedian. He went to LA and got as far as doing an act on the Tonight Show. David's an extremely talented man, but his comedy is limited in the sense that if you're an American who speaks both languages then you'll love it. He tried to do stuff here and I had gone back to Rome and was working on a new satellite network called Orbit for the Arab countries. On one of their channels I was the voice of the network there called The Fun Channel, which was for kids. I told them you have to see this guy he'd be the perfect mascot so he became huge on that network for a while. As for SHE, Traylor ad-libbed his role. He made up most of that. Ask him to do any voice or character and he's astounding. That wasn't Nesher's doing, that was all David. He's a compendium of television trivia and he'll throw it at you 24 hours a day if you let him.

V5: How many days did you work on the picture and do you have any stories about David Goss or Quin Kessler? They did little else after this movie.

GS: A week or two, maybe? It wasn't a particularly difficult role, it was all shot in Rome in an abandoned villa. I remember Goss and Kessler, sitting in the dressing room with them. With Quin, I recall her being really concerned that her top would drop off and her breasts would fall out. She was constantly adjusting her top. That's why she was hired for the movie, actually. As for David, he would talk for hours about what he was going to do. He'd gone to acting school and would tell me how he was going to do this and do that in front of the camera, and this is my subtext, and so on. We'd go to filming the scene and I kept waiting for all that stuff to come out of David and it never did. He didn't seem nervous, he was very serious--and ended up with just two expressions like what Leone said about Eastwood's expressiveness--one with the cigar and one without.

V5: Gordon Mitchell?

GS: I didn't see him much on the picture, but Gordon Mitchell was a character and had an interesting face. Rome is a small town and the acting community is even smaller. Gordon was well liked so in Italy, if the word got around you're easy to work with, not fussy about money, you'd do an extra day, then they'd throw you in a film and he did a lot of them over there.

V5: Did you ever meet Roger Browne (you can read our interview with Roger HERE)? He was president of ELDA (English Language Dubbers Association) from 1966 to 1975.

GS: I did, although I didn't know Roger well. When I arrived in January of 1979, the Italian film industry was bottoming out of a ten year slide after producing over 500 films a year. Hollywood wasn't doing that. I might be stretching it, but most of their output was of a pornographic nature. It's a pity because they're very talented technicians over there and that industry disappeared.

V5: You did an episode of CHEERS in 1985.

GS: That was the first thing I did when I returned to the US. I come back and they cast me as an Italian bellboy (laughs).

V5: You dubbed Miles O'Keeffe in two of his ATOR movies, correct?

GS: (laughs) Yeah, that's me on those. For some odd reason during my career I have re-voiced or imitated the voice of pretty much all the muscle guys. We're talking about Miles, Reb Brown, Stallone, Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Schwarzenegger, and others. I could imitate all their voices and the producers would oftentimes call me for that reason; particularly with Schwarzenegger because of his heavy accent. Producers would call and tell me he had all these coaches on set and they'd be concerned about his acting. So they'd call me in to help with the lines. And the producer would say, "but for God's sake don't tell anybody!" (laughs); but I re-voiced about a third of his lines on some of his films; this being after CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982). For Stallone I did the grunts and groans during the fights. These guys would sometimes be so busy they couldn't come in and do the looping so they'd call me in to do it. I often dubbed Franco Nero, too. He speaks perfect English, but he has an accent. He knew I was dubbing him and he didn't mind it. I saw him recently in Italy at an event where we both won an award. Other actors think they should dub themselves and they shouldn't (laughs). During the big boom of Italian cinema, nobody dubbed their own voice. Even Marcello Mastroianni was dubbed and he had a beautiful voice. It wasn't till later that you'd hear the actor's real voice.

V5: Do you know Michael Forrest? He was a voiceover artist as well; famously as being Maurizio Merli's English dubber.

GS: Michael is wonderful. A funny story about him: he's the dead guy in the bed in Madonna's BODY OF EVIDENCE (1993). That's Michael Forrest. He made a crack to me once that he'd made love to Madonna the night before. He's made a great living going back and forth between Italy and America and selling his autographs. He did it for years.

V5: When you dub these movies do you ever have any input or problems from the filmmakers?

GS: No, not really. Dubbing pornos was the worst, though. We'd dub the entire film minus the sex portions. When I'd be asked to adapt these things they wouldn't even have a guide track. Some of them would take place in different time periods. I'd desperately try to make them more interesting by playing around with the dialog and they'd come back and tell me, "you can't do that" (laughs).

V5: When did you transition from Italian movies to Japanese anime?

GS: That was when I came back to the US and went to NY to visit friends and I walked around some sound studios and I asked about dubbing and got word about studios in LA. So I went to LA to Intersound and that's where I got onto ROBOTECH (1985). It is still on the air and Sony is about to do a live-action feature of the property. I wrote, directed and supervised ROBOTECH and most of those people are still working and that's been since 1985 when we started that. We're into our third generation of fans. Every once in a while I'm in a store and I put down my email which is Khyron13 and sometimes a 35 year old man will snap up all wide-eyed and ask about it and get really excited. We did CAPTAIN HARLOCK and other oddball feature films. I did a lot of films for Carl Macek of Streamline Pictures. I'm not tooting my own horn, but the reason you have the anime phenomenon today is because of us. Japanese producers tried to give it away back then but nobody wanted it. Carl knew the potential was there and he said, "Look, give me this film, that film, give it to me free, I will pay for the dubbing and distribution, and if it makes any money we'll split it 50/50". And because of the success of things like ROBOTECH, we did CRYING FREEMAN, FIST OF THE NORTH STAR, WICKED CITY, and many others. Everything that said written and directed by Carl it was actually me. Carl did not write till much later. Also, the Japanese will insist we dub their films literally. We'd argue back and forth that you can't say this in English; one example being this title from 2019 called SCIENCE FELL IN LOVE, SO I TRIED TO PROVE IT. They want us to keep all the Japanese stuff in even if you don't understand it. The distributors have bowed down to the hardcore fans who sent us hate mail after taking issue with us for changing things to suit the market. If you give me a film to write and direct I want do it my way because we care about the product. I do a quality of dubbing that nobody else does. I charge double the money. My productions cost twice as much as everybody elses because I spend twice as much time in the studio because ours looks like it's originally made in English. A lot of people think it's an American production.

We dubbed movies from all over the world including Hong Kong and the Philippines. We did the dub for CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN TIGER (2000). They made a bad decision in wanting Chinese accents but the sync is there and it looks like it was shot in English. SO CLOSE (2002) is another. Dubbing Asian movies in the past, they did not give a rats ass. They would pick whoever they could find off the street, from a bar, or wherever, and put them in front of a microphone. I did an animated Korean series THE LEGEND OF BLUE (2002), which was a 26 episode series and we did the first 13 episodes. For the rest, it sounded like they had guys from a bar and that's what it was. We also did the dubbing for THE WORLD OF YOR (YOR, THE HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE [1983]). I dubbed Reb Brown, a California surfer who got into acting. It was shot in English. That scene where he and his woman are coming out of a desert heading towards the ocean, and for some reason Yor knows the sea water is poisonous. She doesn't. She's running towards the water and he yells out, "Don't go in the water it'll make you dead!" We tried for an hour to come up with any phrase to replace that line and couldn't do it.

V5: What's the most memorable thing you've done and a project you wish you'd never participated in?

GS: Actually there's a TV series I dubbed I'm proud of called SQAUDRA ANTIMAFIA (2009-2016). It's a good copy of an American cop show. I put it on Free TV dubbed and we did a very good job. Nobody has a clue that show was dubbed. When the studio brought it to the lab to make the master copy they were waiting for it and the engineer running the machine said there was something wrong, that in some places it looks like a frame was out of sync. He had no idea it was an Italian production dubbed into English.

Something I wish I hadn't done... I'd say any of the Italian exploitation things were pretty bad. If you can at least finish the film it can generally make its money back. There was an Italian producer who made the worst, most ghastly exploitation films who went out of business. That's how bad those were. He produced lots of things shot in the South American jungle; didn't want to pay the crew nor the cast and some would walk off the set. Some of these guys would have an allergy towards payment. I did a bunch of films for another guy, and after the third job I'd say, "I'd like to get paid now". And he'd start shaking like he had no intentions on paying us. Another producer was paying people to steal copies of films. He'd pay for the dub and distribute the film, but they were films he did not have the rights to. When we found that out we dropped everything and fled. This guy is still in the film industry in a different capacity, still working, and never went to jail.

A huge thanks to Mr. Snegoff for giving his time for this interview. We wish him continued success in all his future endeavors.

SHE (1983) is one of the most bewildering, rule-breaking motion pictures; that description possibly being key to its growing cult status. It's even more odd in that director and writer Avi Nesher is one of Israel's most famous filmmakers. His work has been the subject of retrospectives and festivals in recent years. In one example, some of his acclaimed and award-winning films (like 1979s THE TROUPE; 1984s RAGE & GLORY) shared the screen with the likes of the oddball SHE at a festival at the Olamot Center in Indiana University. A selection of his serious, dramatic works rubbing elbows with a raucous, rebelliously nonsensical movie is as jarring as anything in the film itself.


Nesher's unbridled approach was possibly the reason the film never found a distributor for a US theatrical release. However, it was released to theaters around the world in European territories and the Middle East (where Nesher's name was listed as the pseudonymous Anthony Johnson). According to film historian Chris Poggiali, the picture was never submitted for an MPAA rating. Completed in 1983, SHE went straight to video in America, released on the Lightning Video label in 1985. 

The first time I saw SHE (1983) was around 1985 or 1986. It was on this channel out of Greensboro, NC. WGGT-TV48 was a monster kid's dream network. Monster and fantasy and kung fu movies were on any day during the week, and particularly on the weekends. This Saturday program called Billy Bob's Action Theater hosted by Billy Bob (basically a local version of Ernest P. Worrell) aired the three aforementioned genres, and night SHE was the evening's entertainment. I was ten or eleven and found it to be one of the strangest movies I'd ever seen. Several years later I'd purchase a used VHS of the Lightning Video release; then came the Italian Storm DVD; and now, finally, the belated blu-ray release in the United States where the film will hopefully garner a new, wider audience.

SHE is one of those movies you'll either enjoy the hell out of it, or find it among the most ludicrous cinematic experiences you've ever had. SHE is episodic, lacking traditional narrative technique, has a rockin' soundtrack, packed with sight gags and graffiti littering near every frame, and wears its bad movie badge with pride--daring the audience to like it. Whether you find it one of the worst movies ever made or one of the greatest unsung cult items seldom seen, SHE (1983) is certainly worth getting to know better.

***ADDENDUM: A few weeks ago, David Traylor (Xenon in the movie) got in touch with me and did an interview where he discussed his career including working on SHE. You can read that interview HERE.***

This review is representative of the Kino Lorber blu-ray. Specs and extras: 1080p 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen; interview with director Avi Nesher; theatrical trailer; running time: 01:44:53

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