Saturday, August 30, 2014

Brief Thoughts- THE CRATER LAKE MONSTER (1977)

I picked up the Blu-Ray of this small budget horror film for $3 even though its disc co-feature is the awful GALAXINA. The film looks remarkably sharp for such a minor, regional movie made as cheaply as possible - it looks much better than other, more expensive movies from the same period. Strange. 

I can't say this is a great film but I can't find it in my heart to dislike it either. It is clear that a lot of care and work went into this film and it shows. Yes, the cast is a very mixed bag of merely OK thespians ranging from passable to dire and the effects are not the best. But the effort was made to craft a solid stop-motion monster flick with some colorful, likable characters and I had a good time with the entire affair. It's not for everyone but it is a fun B-movie that would be perfect for your lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon viewing. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fringe - A Great TV Series!

After putting it off for a long time, last week I finally finished watching the fifth and final season of the TV series Fringe. I didn't put it off because I had come to dislike the show - indeed, it had maintained its quality and my interest from the beginning -but because i didn't want to see it end. I started watching Fringe when it premiered back in 2008 and watched it religiously until i screwed up and miss a few episodes at the beginning of the fourth season. I waited until those episodes were issued on DVD and rented them through NetFlix to catch up. But I as still behind when season five came around so I waited still longer and now, through the joy of streaming, have completed seeing all 100 episodes.

From the start I called Fringe an alternate version of the X-Files - but would then say "But this one is done well". By that I didn't mean to insult the X-Files too much- I was a fan of the show in the 1990's myself- but Fringe seemed to have learned from that show's massive mistakes. Chris Carter's show teased us for years about some huge alien conspiracy, constantly adding elements that just confused and complicated matters until even the most hopeful fans had to conclude that there was no planned story that was ever going to be able to resolve the mess they had created. Fringe seems to have had an end point in mind from the start with built in stopping places just in case the show was cancelled. The very important Observers are glimpsed in the first season numerous times before we are even told that they are something to which we should be paying attention. By the start of season five the mystery behind these nearly emotionless bald men takes center stage - we are told who they are, what they are doing and that there is a chance that the Fringe team can defeat them. For thirteen final episodes the show plays out brilliantly bringing back elements of previous stories and folding them into things in inventive ways. It is wonderfully done! Somehow the creators managed to fulfilled nearly every promise they made to their audience over the course of five years. All the way to its triumphant endpoint they remained true to the series' core values - the importance of family, the necessity of trust in humanity, the joy of intellectual inquiry, the beauty of a bit of humor at the right time and the awesome power of love. Fringe wasn't just a great, exciting science fiction show- it was about the bonding of a ragtag group of people into a family that fought to make the world a better, safer place for everyone. I loved every minute and recommend that if you haven't watched Fringe before that you give it a try. It is a great one hundred episode ride!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

NaschyCast - Beyond Naschy #11 - CROSS OF THE DEVIL (1975)

CROSS OF THE DEVIL is one of the more controversial entries in Paul Naschy's credits. He has co-writing credit but has no onscreen role or any other behind the scenes position either. As we talk about this interesting Spanish gothic we detail the he said/she said aspect of how, at the height of his popularity and box office appeal, Naschy ended up on the outside of this project looking in - and throwing stones! Director John Gilling has a history of making fine horror films for Hammer and other British studios but this was to be his only Spanish production and the behind the scenes shenanigans might have been the reason why. This was a dream project for Naschy as he desired to make a film from  some of the stories of Spanish poet and writer Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. To have had that opportunity yanked away engendered much anger and his venomous statements about the film and the people involved attest to that. He seems to have held out hope of trying again to bring Bécquer to the screen for decades afterwards.

But all of that is beside the point as long as an entertaining movie got made and in this case it turned out pretty well. Join Troy and I as we try to keep this show from spiraling out of control on our trek through the Spanish countryside to the Mountain of Souls so that we may cower before the titular Cross! There are many interesting sights to see along the way and we hope to keep you amused as we talk about burned Ninjas, difficult relationships, hash pipes, ghostly visions and murder mysteries. We have an audio visit from Elena of Horror Rises From Spain so that she can school us (really me!) on how to pronounce more Spanish names and the first installment of a new segment from Dan, Our Man in the Field in which he talks about some Kilma theories and plays a great pop song for us. Very cool things coming your way in this overstuffed episode! I even get to speak about my love of the band Jellyfish and they take us out of the show. If you want to get in contact is the place to reach us. Thanks for downloading and listening! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Brief Thoughts - HAUNTER (2013)

Last night I finally caught up with HAUNTER (2013) by director Vincenzo Natali and it was fantastic! I probably should shy away from over praising the film out of the fear that readers of this blog will go into it with their expectations set high and feel disappointed but - I really loved this movie. It is a ghost story with a very intriguing twist but that twist is only the beginning of the tale with many great moments to follow. I've been a fan of Natali's past work since CUBE (1997) through SPLICE (2009) and I had known this was his newest movie I would have watched it the minute it popped up for possible viewing. (This reminds me that I still need to see his 2002 film CYPHER which promises to be a spy story!) I love the mood that the director is able to evoke in his films. There is a slightly heightened reality combined with the banality of the everyday that is unique and has the effect making his movies feel like something is about to happen at any time. They are smoothly told and the direction is naturalistic and uncomplicated in the way information is presented. Natali is an excellent director whose work seems incapable of connecting with a huge audience but it is perfect for me. I think his ideas are just too out of the mainstream - too quirky - to make most viewers comfortable with his stories.

The cast of HAUNTER is very good with Abigail Breslin showing real skill as the main character and excellent Canadian character actor Stephen McHattie being a creepy bastard in brilliant fashion. The little boy that plays Breslin's brother is a bit stiff in his role but that is the only sour performance note in the entire movie. If you've seen and liked his earlier films or even if they seemed too odd in the past, give this one a try. It might be his most accessible horror work to date and in a better world would have been a hit in theaters. It is available to stream on Netflix which is where I watched it. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Film Noir Poster Art

Thursday, August 21, 2014

PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965) poster art

Until today I had never seen this piece of poster art for the Bava classic of science fiction horror PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES. It is gorgeous, don't you think? I cannot wait for the soon to be released Blu-Ray of this underseen film and hope that it is packed with hours of extras. I know Bava expert and biographer Tim Lucas is producing a commentary track for the disc but I wish for more, of course. At the very least a look at the amazing poster art for the film from around the world would be in order. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Brief Thoughts - KICK-ASS 2 (2013)

I held off on seeing this one for a few reasons foremost being the nearly universally harsh opinions on the film from all who felt the need to express one. I never got details of why people didn't like this sequel - only a general dislike that made me think it must have gone in a direction most did not enjoy. I assumed the film must have been a departure from the original in some way that pushed viewers away. But now that I have seen it I am perplexed as to why fans of the first film were unhappy. I may lose some kind of critical cred with this statement but I really enjoyed this movie. Its not quite as impressive as its predecessor but its a damned solid follow up that moves the story and characters forward in clever and honest ways. It is just as transgressive and violent as the first and in some ways more emotionally complex. I liked this movie and wish it had been a success. Guess I'll have to read the comic book sequels to see what the writers decide to do with everyone in the future.