Sunday, January 14, 2018

Beyond Naschy #22 - THE GHOST GALLEON (1974)


The new year starts with a shiny new episode of Beyond Naschy! Finally returning to the cinema of Amando De Ossorio the NaschyCast dives into the waters of the North Sea and are surprised to find that the Blind Dead lurk there waiting for fresh victims. The third of this classic Spanish Horror series is called THE GHOST GALLEON or HORROR OF THE ZOMBIES or THE CURSED SHIP but under any title it is a problematic film. Seeking to add new ideas to his signature creation Ossorio puts his Undead Knights Templar on an 18th century galleon that seems adrift in both the oceans and time itself. Only occasionally visible in our world, this ship encounters unlucky sailors or tourists and, in this case, it happens to bump into a pair of bikini clad young ladies looking to set a ridiculous publicity stunt in motion. As you might expect, things do not go well for them or their intended rescuers. The satanic living dead rarely seem to take pity on people no matter how cute they may be.

Troy and I deep dive into this one with the hopes of changing our original poor impressions of it. Do we come to love this film now or has age still not scraped the barnacles off this dark hulk? Listen in and see! We talk about the film's rushed production and it's multiple titles while also letting listeners chime in with their thoughts as well. We discuss the possible symbolism present in the movie and spend some time picking over the film's troubling attitude toward women. The wacky professor character shows us how to be a very strange fellow but somehow also the most useful member of the crew. Who knew that a flaming crucifix would help hold off the Blind Dead?

The show can be reached by email at naschycast@gmail.com or on the FaceBook page. We plan to ask for more input in the future over on FB so join us there for more information. Thank you for downloading and listening!



Friday, January 12, 2018

What I Watched in December


I'm surprised that there haven't been more big screen at adaptations of some of Agatha Christie's more famous novels over the past few decades. As soon as I heard that Kenneth Branagh was planning to adapt MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS for a new feature film I was kind of amazed that it had been over 40 years since the last time someone had done so. I would think that there would be enough interest in such a thing for there to be a new version of this tale told on the screen every 20 years, give or take. But then again, maybe it's a good idea in the age of home video to let the story lay low long enough for the general audience to forget that they might already know the solution to the central mystery. Regardless, this adaptation of the story is fantastic. I love this twisty tale and the stunning cinematography is worth the price of admission all on it's own. The fantastic cast brings energy to the proceedings and the movie moves along very well even if the occasionally artificially goosed pace seems a little out of place in at least one spot. Branagh is a fine director and is an excellent Poirot, finally bring his magnificent mustache to the screen in it's gargantuan glory. I very much look forward to the sequel film of Death on the Nile whenever it appears.


I think that I am no longer the correct audience for a Star Wars film. As a matter of fact, I think I may not have been the correct audience for a Star Wars film for about 20 years. Of the three Disney produce Star Wars films in the past 3 years I've liked only one of them and it's the one that doesn't have an Episode number in it's title.

THE LAST JEDI has turned out to be a very divisive film for fans and I can completely understand. I used to count myself as a Star Wars fan but, having grown up much more attached to Star Trek, Star Wars has always seemed a little too tied to Fantasy for me to really feel wholly attached. This new film continues that - as it should, I suppose - but there might just be something about this universe that makes it so artificial that I can no longer care about it. Everything about the barely-there story of this feature feels like it's there for some reason other than to tell a tale. It's like a series of slightly connected segments or television episodes meant to evoke recognition or nostalgia instead of creating something new. 

That being said, I did enjoy about 30 to 40 minutes of THE LAST JEDI. The entire confrontation with Snoke, the large-scale lightsaber battle all the way up through the splitting of the lightsaber between Rey and Kylo Ren was a fascinating and well done film sequence. It's the film's most well handled action sequence with understandable emotional reasons for the actions taken wrapped in colorful and vividly cinematic skill . It really is great but all it accomplishes for me is to point toward the next film where I guess we'll end this dance of powerful Force users -hopefully. Also admirable is the theme of leaving the past behind so as to carve out new ideas and new stories in an attempt to forge new movies that aren't beholden (and I would say crippled) by adherence to the shape and form of the original trilogy. Do we really need to keep 90% of these film's dialog as bad as the 1977 original? Really? Do we?  

It is both the stylistic and structural holdovers from the original trilogy that make the Last Jedi such an uninspired and weak experience overall. For all the talk of forging a new path, this movie feels dragged down by holding onto the past. That's the only excuse for that extended Casino World/Cantina sequence. Talk about needing to leave things in the past!


THE LIST 

SPLIT (2017)- 8 (rewatch)
WEREWOLF & THE YETI (1975) - 7 (rewatch on Blu-Ray)
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017) - 8
GHOST STORY OF YOTSUYA (1959) - 7 (Japanese spectral vengeance)
SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954)- 8 (rewatch)
BRIGADOON (1954) - 7
AT SWORD'S POINT (1952)- 5
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (2017) - 5
THE SIGN OF ZORRO (1958)- 5 (Disney TV show cut into feature)
SANTA CLAUS (1959) - 4
BRIGHT (20117) - 5
CYBORG 2087 (1966) - 5 (cheap but interesting SF)
THE FOX WITH A VELVET TAIL (1971) - 8 (excellent if slow thriller)
THE REVENGE OF THE CRUSADER (1964) - 5


Tuesday, January 09, 2018

THE GHOST GALLEON (1974) Poster Art







Sunday, January 07, 2018

NaschyCast Commentary for NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS (1975) Announced!


Scream Factory has finally announced the extras for the forthcoming Blu-Ray of Amando De Ossorio's final Blind Dead film THE NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS and I'm proud to say that it contains our seventh Spanish horror commentary track! We recorded this late last year and were thrilled to be able to expand on our previous Ossorio track for THE LORELEY'S GRASP. We took the time to talk a bit about the entire series, it's influences on other films and the qualities that make the Blind Dead so iconic. We might have even gotten a little too professorial for once! We'll let you decide when this disc streets in February. 



Friday, January 05, 2018

John Ford's THE RISING OF THE MOON (1957)


Because Turner Classic Movies showed it back last March (and my DVR still held on to it, thank goodness) I finally was able to catch up with John Ford's Irish anthology film THE RISING OF THE MOON (1957). I was well aware of director Ford's previous Irish epic THE QUIET MAN (1952) which is rightly considered a classic and is a film that I dearly love. This film seems to be much less well-known and there really is no excuse beyond  the sadly obvious -  this one does not have an identifiable American movie star at its core. Also, I guess, the anthology format works against it for broad audience acceptance which I think is a real shame. I love anthology movies and all three of the tales told here are really entertaining with great humor and fine wit at every turn. I suspect that the producers or Ford himself may have feared the lack of star box office appeal as evidenced by the inclusion of Tyrone Power as the narrator and host of all three tales. This gives a slight Hollywood sheen to the stories that are otherwise populated by dozens of fine Irish actors drawn from that country's stage and film community. The film  was shot completely on location in Ireland (except for the Powers segments, I assume) and part of the fun of watching is to see the wonderful sights of that land circa the 1950's. The black & white photography is so beautiful I only once or twice wished for it to be in color so I could see the natural vistas in their green glory.


THE RISING OF THE MOON is a fantastic, entertaining picture and one I plan to rewatch around St. Patrick's Day if possible. If you can get your hands on it maybe you'll enjoy laughing along with Mr. Ford and his collaborators too. Warner Archives sells it on DVD if Turner isn't available in your neck o'the woods. I recommend it! 



Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Early 1990's Spanish Cult Films Coming to Blu-Ray!


Exciting news for fans of interesting European cinema was announced today! Two of my favorite Spanish films from the 1990's are being brought to domestic Blu-Ray by Olive Films. This means I can finally show friends good prints of these amazing movies instead of lamenting their status in my collection as lesser quality bootlegs. Both of these are exceptional cinema and come at their subjects in ways that seemed rough and fresh when I caught them in the mid-90's so I can hardly wait to see if they feel as impressive on a return visit. 

Here's Olive Films' descriptions of the two movies due out at the end of the month- 

THE RED SQUIRREL (La Ardilla Roja), written and directed by Julio Medem (Tierra) and starring Emma Suárez (Julieta) and Nancho Novo (Lovers of the Arctic Circle), is a stylish thriller à la Hitchcock — with echoes of Vertigo — set in a Spanish campground.

Jota (Novo), a musician with a career in decline and a romantic life in shambles, is on the verge of ending his life by jumping from a bridge when a mysterious figure on a motorcycle comes roaring — quite literally — into his life. Rushing to aid the injured cyclist, Jota discovers the driver is a beautiful young woman (Suárez) who's lost her memory in the crash. Seeing an opportunity to start a new life, Jota creates a fictional backstory for Sofia, the amnesia victim whom he now calls Lisa, claiming that they're a couple. Fearing her growing suspicion of his ruse, Jota cuts Lisa's hospital stay short by whisking her off to The Red Squirrel, a remote campground far away from prying eyes. But they soon attract the attention of the other campers, leading to an escalation in Lisa's erratic behavior. What secrets are hiding in Lisa's past? And who is Félix (Carmelo Gómez, Tierra), the mysterious stranger who appears at the camp site in search of Sofia? Twists and turns abound in The Red Squirrel.

In Spanish, with optional English subtitles."


Set in Spain's Basque Country, VACAS (Cows) tells of a bitter rivalry and a decades-old feud between three generations of the Mendiluze and Iriguibel families, stretching from the Third Carlist War through the Spanish Civil War. These families, not unlike the tale of the Hatfields and McCoys, have carried a simmering, deep-seated hatred dating back to a war-time act that left brave Carmelo Mendiluze dead on the battlefield and the cowardly deserter Manuel Iriguibel crippled but alive. Years have not cooled the animosity between these houses as the film traces the lives, loves, and deaths that propel the atmospheric story forward to its inevitable outcome. Directed by Julio Medem (Tierra, The Red Squirrel) from a screenplay by Medem and Michel Gaztambide, Vacas stars Carmelo Gómez (Tierra, The Red Squirrel), Emma Suárez (Julieta, The Red Squirrel), Ana Torrent (The Other Boleyn Girl) and Karra Elejalde (Tierra).

Director Medem is immeasurably aided by cinematographer Carles Gusi (El Niño), whose camera captures the lush foliage of the Basque countryside and cocoon-like farmhouse interiors, successfully recreating a bygone era. The film also features a dramatic score courtesy of composer Alberto Iglesias (The Constant Gardener).

In Spanish, with optional English subtitles.

Of course, Olive Films never includes any extras but just the chance to see these movies in a good HD presentation is enough for me. If they sound intriguing, you might enjoy them as well.  




Tuesday, January 02, 2018

FRANKENHOOKER (1990)


The films of Frank Henenlotter are not for everyone. I wouldn't call them an acquired taste because I think most people have a visceral reaction to them that defines how they feel about movies like BASKET CASE without any deep thought getting in the way. I think this reaction is mainly because, as much as they appear on the surface to be horror films, Henenlotter's movies are actually comedies. Anyone who has ever tried to recommend a funny film to someone can tell you that the hardest genre to get two people to agree about is comedy. If you don't find something or someone funny there is nothing anyone else can do to get you to appreciate the humor of, say- The Three Stooges. You either laugh at the eye-poke or you don't. In the same way, if the sight of a talking parasite that feeds its host a narcotic for carrying out its homicidal requests doesn't strike you as amusing then Henenlotter's second film BRAIN DAMAGE is not for you. And, by extention, I can say that this means your reaction to any one of his movies will tell you if you'll like all of them.  None of them are going to ever be called the best filmmaking the world has to offer but his energy, inventiveness, humor and warped sense of the way the world works marks Henelotter as one of the best kinds of American auteur - the truly independent kind! 

FRANKENHOOKER was the writer/director's fourth film and appears to have had a higher budget than the first three combined. This extra cash is clearly onscreen from the beginning with a very professional look to the production that, to 21st century eyes, seems to simultaneously improve and date the movie a bit more than earlier efforts. This movie is an unashamed product of the late 1980s and only a story as over-the-top as this could make that a good thing. The fashions alone make FRANKENHOOKER  an embarrassing time capsule of hideousness - and then the sewed together hooker beast shows up and the madness goes into the stratosphere!


Obviously based loosely on the classic Mark Shelly novel the film tells the sad story of misunderstood inventor and part-time medical student Jeffery Franken. After his modified lawn mower accidentally reduces his fiancée to a pile of veal cutlets Jeffery's grief is so great that he vows to bring his beloved back to life. As he has only been able to salvage her head he will need to find her a fresh or semi-fresh body for attachment. Now, where would you look for a female that wouldn't be missed by too many people? That's right- Time's Square in the 80s was packed to the gutters with prostitutes of every description so its there our mad doctor goes with a stethoscope, a tape measure and a plan. That his plan involves his rather dangerous new invention Super-Crack might not seem too bad an idea- what Time's Square prostitute is going to turn down free drugs . But the fact that this drug has the terrible side effect of making the user literally explode doesn't factor into Jeffery's thinking until he's standing in a room filled with random hooker parts wondering which pieces he should salvage. Needless to say, our hero eventually fashions a serviceable woman out of the bits but things don't go quite the way he would have wished.


If you can get on this movie's wavelength it is an extremely funny tale. As already mentioned Henelotter's movies are cock-eyed horror comedies and that makes them harder to appreciate than the average low budget horror film or low budget comedy. I suspect that only horror fans with a taste for low brow humor will be able to get past the first 20 minutes and discover the real cleverness at the heart of this mad scientist love story. The story is filled with real wit, amusing observations and a cast of colorful characters that make predicting what will happen next almost impossible. The film is over the top and completely insane in a ways that defy easy categorization. What other movie features a stitched together woman turning tricks in an hysterically robotic manner like some fantasy blow-up doll in the middle of a story punctuated by touching scenes of its main character reciting love poetry to his dead girlfriend? The film is strange- maybe stranger than it needs to be- but I really enjoyed it and if the idea of a man filing a bunion off a foot he's about to attach to his beloved's new body causes a grin for you, so be it. I'm tempted to chant 'One of Us' repeatedly.


Synapse Films has issued FRANKENHOOKER on Blu-Ray with all the love you could hope for. The film print was taken from original vault materials and is presented in gorgeous widescreen with both 5.1 and 2.0 audio options. I had never seen the movie before this disc arrived but I can't imagine it looked this good in earlier incarnations. The picture is bright with colors that really pop, especially in the neon lit scenes shot on location in New York. The Blu comes with lots of great extras as well starting with a commentary track featuring Henenlotter and his Make-Up Effects Designer Gabe Bartalos. The writer/director does most of the talking, as he should, and proves to be just as entertaining in this venue as he is as a filmmaker. His tales of the madness involved in shooting around crack houses and only semi-legally are a hoot. I would hope he is given the chance to do similar tracks for all of his work. The other extras include a short interview with the mighty Frankenhooker herself, Patty Mullen called A SALAD THAT WAS ONCE NAMED ELIZABETH; the featurette A STITCH IN TIME: THE MAKE-UP EFFECTS OF FRANKENHOOKER and TURNING TRICKS, an interview with actress Jennifer Delora and her time spent as a cinema 'hooker'. Miss Delora is very funny relating he attitude toward doing onscreen nudity at the time and I was glad that she was given another short piece to show off her photo scrapbook from the production. This unexpected peek behind the scenes is a blast. The film's theatrical trailer rounds thing out and the case comes with a reversible cover sporting alternate promotional art. What more could a horror hound wish for?