Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Bloody Pit #39 - SOYLENT GREEN (1973)


These days SOYLENT GREEN is a film better known for it's spoiler level final act revelation than for it's more impressive cinematic qualities. It presents a dystopian vision of the world if then current trends in overpopulation and pollution continued unabated and it does so with a depth of meaning and intelligence typical of the best science fiction. Fortunately, the talent involved were able to craft this harsh story into something smart and entertaining instead of dull and ponderous. The film boasts a brilliant cast, strong direction and a dark future-shock style scenario that feels realistic but alien and fascinating at the same time. The vision of a hopelessly overcrowded New York City in 2022, choked with clouds of yellowish smog and bathed in a constant smothering heat wave is a window into to a tomorrow that no one would want for their children but seems more likely with each passing year. Perhaps, if we are lucky, this film's fate is to be less prophecy than heeded warning for the generations that fear that one day we might be feeding on ourselves just to survive.

For this episode I am joined once again by my fellow 1970's science fiction fanatic Randy Fox to discuss SOYLENT GREEN and we find that our opinions differ just a bit. Before we begin Randy let's in on his recent, exciting project bringing independent radio back to the city of Nashville! He is one of the main movers & shakers behind the scenes of WXNA 101.5 FM which can also be streamed online at their website if you are not privileged enough to live in Nashville. It's a DJ programmed radio station with a slew of specialty shows and the attitude that they will play what corporate radio won't touch. Check it out!

As you might expect, this look at SOYLENT GREEN covers a lot of ground. We talk  a bit about the cast and crew, delve into the darker elements of the story, marvel at the glory of Edward G. Robinson, bitch about the madness of silenced revolvers and Randy introduces us to the Charlton Heston 'Grimace' Scale. Near the end we talk a little about the source novel by Harry Harrison and we even have a piece of feedback email relating to our LOGAN'S RUN show. Very cool! If you want to let us know what you think the email address is thebloodypit@gmail.com where we will be thrilled to hear from you. Thanks for giving us a listen.

You can listen to the show right off this page in the Bloody Pit player on the right side of this page or at the embedded player below. 



Or the podcast can be reached at the links below- 



Friday, June 24, 2016

Soylent Green Day














Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Neal Adams' Tarzan Art










Some time back I posted the series of book covers these originally graced  but here are better scans of  just the artwork. That man has a talent for capturing bodies in action! 


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Reading About Jess Franco!

When I posted the recent podcast about Video Watchdog magazine and Jess Franco I planned to follow up with some info about my favorite Franco articles in VW. A recent illness put a halt to my forward momentum on that front but I'm back to at least point the way toward some of the best pieces I've read over there in the last 25 years. A damned good place to start if you're a beginner, or even if you aren't, is Tim Lucas' essay 'Jess Franco's Declaration of Principles: How to Read the early Films 1959-67' from issue #157. 


Published in 2010 the piece is Lucas' revisit of his then 20 year old try at processing the work of the famed Spanish auteur. In the ensuing decades he had had been able to see much more of Franco's work and therefore had much more meat to chew on when he dug into this subject at length. As you might expect, the hundred plus titles he had added to his 'watched' pile gave him new insights, new ideas, new connections pointing toward possible inspirations and a truly fascinating new way of dividing up the man's entire career. It certainly makes things more interesting and places the movies in a new light no matter how many of them you've been able to catch. It's an amazing read and well worth checking for yourself if the podcast has you curious for either the new Watchdog App or the films of Franco. Put them together for a perfect combination! 

Video Watchdog Website: www.videowatchdog.com





Monday, June 13, 2016

INVASION OF THE STAR CREATURES (1962)


"THE STORY YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE IS TRUE. ONLY THE FACTS HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY DISTORTED."


Thus opens Invasion of the Star Creatures — and folks, it's all downhill from there. Shot in 1962 on a minuscule budget by director Bruno Ve Sota (The Brain Eaters), it tells the story of two dimwitted soldiers (Bob Ball and Frankie Ray) sent to investigate a crater made by a recent atomic test blast. Quickly separated from the other solders, our heroes are captured by a group of alien invaders inhabiting a local cave in a prelude to conquering Earth. The boys are confused (naturally) by the fact that the alien creatures are two very tall beautiful women dressed as if for a men's magazine photo shoot. The males of the alien race are nowhere in evidence but the grunt work around the cave is handled by some extremely silly looking VegeMonsters that the ladies grow themselves. Between the super-strong, badly costumed VegeMen and the women's deadly prop guns the intrepid GIs have their work cut out for them to save Earth from being overrun by dastardly alien invaders.


A hypothetical fan of this film would claim I'd left out any mention of the story's humor, but that's OK. The filmmakers left it out too. To call Invasion of the Star Creatures a lame, inept comedy is to insult lame, inept comedies. There is so little humor in this film that they would have been better off trying to play the story straight with just a wink and a nod a la Queen of Outer Space. But noooooo! They try again and again to foist off gags that were old when dinosaurs roamed the planet! Along with ancient vaudeville bits and 'funny' mugging for the camera they try to spice things up with the occasional bad celebrity voice impression. I've seen Saturday morning cartoons from my youth that have more sense of comedy than this movie. When the gorgeous aliens showed up I was hoping for a few '60s era politically incorrect double entendres, but only one is offered. And by the time they trot out a group of Native Americans for the sadly misplaced Cowboy and Indian jokes I was simply stunned... This is supposed to be funny? And I'm still trying to figure out if the people in the film were bad actors or just purposely acting badly. Screenwriter Jonathan Haze is best known for playing Seymour in Roger Corman's Little Shop of Horrors and a host of other bit roles. He should never have been allowed behind a typewriter as his strengths were definitely in front of the camera. As one of the Indian characters might have said: Ugh!

Love the poster art, though. 




Saturday, June 11, 2016

What I Watched in May


I spent a lot of time in the theaters in May. Never let the cheap theater catch it's breath, I say! When people talk about the explosion of Young Adult novels being adapted into film THE 5TH WAVE should be exhibit one in the case of 'Please Make Them Stop'. I've enjoyed The Hunger Games films (although I still need to catch up with the last two) and The Maze Runner surprised me with it's energy and dystopian imagery but I'm beginning to think the well might be dry enough now that we're getting silt in the drinkables. THE 5TH WAVE is barely passable as a movie much less an entertainment recommendable to others. There are some decent moments of disaster effects and a few of the actors really are trying but there is so little detail or character in the story that they end up flailing. The 'twist' is obvious, the dialog is terrible and the production looks like the cheap effort it is. Ugh.


Part crime tale, part spy story and part science fiction CRIMINAL has a similar feeling of fumbling the story. Once again here, the script is simply terrible. The central idea is about a psychopath criminal who is given the memories of a dead CIA agent in the hopes that some kernel of information that the Agency needs can be obtained from this memory swap. Of course it's much more problematic than that and things don't work out well when the psychopath (Kevin Costner, trying hard) escapes to run wild around -of all places- London. There's a great cast in this film but they're all floundering because the script is a tonal mess asking us to move between too many emotions far too quickly. At no point is the scenario believably enough to get me past the hurdle of willing suspension of disbelief. They give the doctor responsible (Tommy Lee Jones) some gobbledy goop to mumble about the science behind the idea but it's as half-assed as the rest of the film. To make things worse they do such an amazing job of establishing Kevin Costner as a reprehensible scumbag that by the time you're supposed to sympathize with him because he's being influenced more and more by the memories implanted in his head, you don't care. By that point we've watched him senselessly murder dozens of people and no backdoor justification can make up for what he's done. And I have to say the final line from Gary Oldman's character is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard from a spy film in my life. I laughed out loud in the theater and that's definitely not the reaction the filmmakers are hoping for. CRIMINAL was a film that had a lot going for it but no one thought to give a crap about the script.


Next up was CAPTAIN AMERICA : CIVIL WAR or as it would be more accurately named AVENGERS 3: CIVIL WAR. I loved this film and found it to be very nearly perfect. It had everything I wanted and I only have two problems, both small. One - the action scenes have had that bizarre skip-frame thing done to them that is supposed to make things seem faster - or something - but only tends to take me out of the movie. The shots were not presented that way in the various trailers so I know it was an editing choice made later and I wish they had kept the natural look of the mostly fantastic stunt work in the film sans pointless trickery. Two -as much as I'm glad to finally see Spider-Man interacting with the rest of the Marvel Universe his inclusion is so obviously a late in the game addition that it is a little painful. I loved every minute he was onscreen but once Stark dismisses him after the big battle I just shook my head. I guess they couldn't figure a way to wedge him into the final act? Pretty clunky. On the other hand, the introduction of the Black Panther was handled very well with the inclusion of Wakanda in future stories ramping up the coolness factor nicely.


Then I ran out to see THE NICE GUYS which will inevitable be on my Best of 2016 list. I'm a huge fan of Shane Black even when I think a director has destroyed his work. (I'm looking at you, Renny Harlin!) I still think that Black's directorial debut KISS KISS, BANG BANG (2005) is one of the best comedic action films of all time and in many ways THE NICE GUYS plays like a sequel to that film. If it took place in the 1970's. With different characters and actors. And a well written child character thrown in to add to the fun. Maybe this isn't the best analogy. Anyway - nearly everything in this film is perfect and if you aren't on board by the time Ryan Gosling is talking to the giant bee you should just push stop and move on. Gosling's comedic timing and delivery are a perfect match for Crowe's stoic cynicism pushing the humor in this dark mystery to great heights.


I walked in to see 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE with the knowledge that the ending was controversial so I couldn't wait to see it. But the film turned out to be a smartly written, creepy exercise in suspense and mystery and I wasn't even thinking about the supposed strange ending by the time it hit. And boy, did it hit hard! Wow. I loved it. I refuse to spoil something this well done but I'll just say that the film has the perfect ending and is a movie I will enjoy showing to others. Oh - and John Goodman is a damned national treasure!


X-MEN: APOCALYPSE has been getting bitchy reviews and I cannot for the life of me understand why. Unless it's just another part of the rejection of darker themed superhero films along with the whining about BATMAN V SUPERMAN I really don't get the complaints. Of course, I don't get the complaints about the DC movie Universe either but I can enjoy versions of classic characters that aren't EXACTLY the way I read them as a child so maybe I'm not the Nerd Rage fan base anymore. Sorry - rant over. At any rate, this continues the run of excellent X-Men films jump started by FIRST CLASS and it explores the new timeline created by DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. Here we see the Xavier School for Mutants in 1983 as a fighting team is assembled to deal with the awakening of an ages old mutant bent on wiping out those pesky humans infesting the planet. The returning actors do fantastic jobs and the new, younger actors playing Jean, Scott, Kurt, Storm and the rest are very good bringing real weight to the emotional end of the story. Fassbinder as Magneto must be singled out for his affecting performance here bringing some very real heart to the man who would/could end the world. Bravo to everyone involved.

THE LIST

CURVE (2015) - 6 (not bad little psycho thriller)
INVASION OF THE ASTRO MONSTER (1965) - 7
WONDER WOMAN (1975) - 6 (TV pilot film is played pretty straight)
F FOR FAKE (1973) - 7 (fun Orson Wells documentary)
ISLE OF FURY (1936) - 6 (early, minor Bogart)
THE WILD BUNCH (1969) - 10 (rewatch)
THE 5TH WAVE (2016) - 3 (flat, dull alien invasion story with terrible dialog)
SHERLOCK HOLMES IN WASHINGTON (1943) - 6 (rewatch)
SUPERNOVA (2000)- 6 (rewatch)
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD (1988) - 5 (rewatch)
THE MUMMY (1959) - 8 (rewatch)
CRIMINAL (2016) - 3 (stupid, bad espionage story) 
THE FANTASTIC FOUR (1994) - 1 (wow!)
PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987) - 8 (rewatch)
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016) - 9
NIGHTFLYERS (1987) - 1 (Terrible and boring)
DIAL: HELP (1988) - 6 (oddly compelling Euro-trash from Deodado)
THE SIEGE OF FIREBASE GLORIA (1989)- 5
DEATH WISH 2 (1981) - 6 (rewatch - uncut version)
THE NICE GUYS (2016)- 8
SHOCK (1977) - 6 (rewatch) (Mario Bava's last)
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016)- 8
THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (1936)- 7
BLACK DYNAMITE (2009) - 8 (hysterical comedy)
YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967) - 7 (rewatch)
X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (2016) - 8
FRIGHTMARE a.k.a. THE HORROR STAR (1983)- 4
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016)- 8 (rewatch)
THE GREAT AMERICAN GIRL ROBBERY (1979) - 5 (tonal shifts make it uncomfortable)



Thursday, June 09, 2016

Beyond Naschy Special - Video Watchdog and Jess Franco!


This month we bring you a special episode of the show. If you've listened to many of our shows you will have heard us mention the magazine Video Watchdog in reference to something or some movie. Both Troy and I have been readers of the 'Perfectionist's Guide to Fantastic Video' for decades now and each issue brings new delights. The depth and breadth of the coverage in the pages of this digest sized joy is incredible. Several years ago we met duo behind the magazine and became great friends  resulting in many fun evenings of movie (and music) discussion that often saw the sun rise before we called things to a halt. Call them publishers, editors, writers, film historians or just great folks Tim and Donna Lucas are two of the nicest people in the world and we're proud to bring you a chance to sit in on a conversation with each of them. First up, Donna takes the opportunity to explain the details of Video Watchdog's move to the digital world. Luckily this does not mean the end of the print version of VW (Thank the stars!) but the bells and whistles added to the online versions of each issue are astonishing. And proving just how nice a lady she is, Donna let's you in on an amazing deal - By using coupon code PODCAST at the Video Watchdog online store checkout you receive 50% off the Digital Archive (176 issues) until December 31, 2016. That's right! For the rest of this year you can grab the VW Digital Archive for half off the (already low) digital price! And did I mention that each new issue is online to read free for the first two months after it's published for FREE! Amazing. So go check out the latest issue online and see what's going on! The current issue has tons of reviews and a huge article on Carmilla and the various screen adaptations of that classic female vampire tale.


Longtime listeners will know that back in 2011 I got Tim Lucas to sit down for a couple of chats about Naschy's films resulting in some great discussion. I still think his defense of several aspects of BEAST AND THE MAGIC SWORD are eye opening and it is just such differing, knowledgeable opinions that I want when talking about genre film. Of course, Tim is one of the top genre film writers working today and his recent awards for his Mario Bava commentary tracks show that his skills translate from page to audio very well. Here we spend some time discussing several Jess Franco films and a few of their variations. Movies we touch on include THE OBSCENE MIRROR and it's non-porn Spanish language version THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR, FURY IN THE TROPICS, THE DIABOLICAL DOCTOR Z, THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN and Franco's two Fu Manchu films. I think that in my excitement I may have babbled too much but just listen in for the pearls of insight and wisdom Tim brings to the table and it will all even out! I hope!





Here are the links to take advantage of the Video Watchdog Digital Archive Sale and look over the newest issue for free!


Use coupon code PODCAST at checkout to receive 50% off the Digital Archive (176 issues) until December 31, 2016.

Digital Editions: http://www.videowatchdog.com/home/digital/library.html

Free Issue:  http://videowatchdog.com/vw

Free Keeper Issue: http://videowatchdog.com/home/digital/keeper

Digital 'Dog Blog:  http://vwdigitaldog.blogspot.com/

Link to the Naschy Cast page in VW 175: http://content.yudu.com/A2idht/current/resources/94.htm

Video Watchdog Website: www.videowatchdog.com