Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Bloody Pit #91 - EMBODIMENT OF EVIL (2008)


After more than a year away from the subject Cort Psyops and I finally return to the cinema of Zé do Caixão a.k.a. Coffin Joe! EMBODIMENT OF EVIL (2008) is the long delayed third film in the trilogy of tales about the mad undertaker and his quest for a woman to bear him the perfect child. As this film begins his frantic search has been on hold for forty years while he was kept locked away in a dank Brazilian prison. Once released his hunt is aided by a fanatical cult of followers that are willing to do their master’s bidding no matter what he demands. It seems that while he was imprisoned the world might have caught up with Coffin Joe’s dark vision of humanity. Pursued by two government officers and a priest driven to stop Zé do Caixão even if it means murder, Joe cuts a bloody path through the city’s underbelly terrorizing anyone in his way. Will he finally succeed in his life’s goal or will his enemies find a way to end his life?

Cort and I dig into this one in much the same way we did the first two films. We examine the dark outlook on the world that writer/director/ actor José Mojica Marins puts forth with his signature creation to determine how much of it we share. We discuss the structure of the story, the smart use of the decades long gap as part of the narrative and the clever use of footage from the previous films to enhance this last tale. We talk a bit about the beauty of the ugliness the movie displays as well as the amazing and effective special effects that are used to create the ghosts that haunt Coffin Joe’s mind. It’s rare that a filmmaker gets the chance to return to his creation after so long a break and even more rare for the return to be as impressive as the earlier work. Some of the images in this movie linger with the viewer for months afterward which is something I’m sure would put a smile on Marins' face.


If you have any comments about the show or Coffin Joe the email address is thebloodypit@gmail.com where we’ll be thrilled to hear from you. As we mention near the end of the show Cort and I plan to cover more of Marins work eventually after we cleanse our palette with something less grotesque. If you have suggestions for that please let us know.









Friday, September 20, 2019

Brief Thoughts - ZOMBIES OF MORA TAU (1957)


I've only watched this movie a couple of times in my life and months afterward I can barely recall that I did watch the thing. On my most recent viewing I realized why it's so forgettable - there are almost no memorable scenes in this movie. The only a few scenes that even approached being memorable and they are that way because they're slightly silly. Not really silly. They never become cartoonishly funny but just remain at a constant level of mildly silly in a sort of low-budget-film, got-to-get-this-shot kind of way. These silly moments include the sight of a supposedly underwater trip via diving helmet in which the illusion of being underwater is accomplished by having a bubble machine attached to the back of the actor. It’s a not very effective attempt at convincing the audience that water is surrounding the character and it’s mildly daft. Another cheap effect is faking the firing of a flare pistol by merely turning an off-camera bright light on and having people shield their eyes and squint. As I said, silly but not silly enough to warrant more than mild amusement.


But the strangest element of this movie, and one that eventually irritates me over the course of its short running time, is that there are multiple times in the narrative when the most natural thing for characters to do is simply set fire to the zombies! Set them on fire, dammit! At several junctures there are cans of gasoline or kerosene, torches with open flames and a room full of walled-off zombies. Light those suckers up and get rid of your problem. Done. But this being a mid-50s low-budget affair (thank you Sam Katzman) what we get is something much sillier. You know - like pouring the flammable fluid on the ground and lighting it so that the zombies don't follow you. The script is such a sloppy mess that there are points where even the actors seem to have lost the thread of just what is going on. Oh well. I guess in another 10 years or so I'll have forgotten enough about this movie to be willing to watch it again.  It's a shame it's not better. Maybe I should have watched it with a beer or four?



Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Nightmare Magazine Cover Gallery










Now that's good good bedtime reading! 


Sunday, September 15, 2019

What I Watched in August


TOY STORY 4 (2019) is the weakest of the animated series but it’s still an excellent movie. It really only seems less than perfect because of its predecessors. The writers have found another touching and heartfelt tale for these characters that shows that the creators are willing to let the toys grow up in ways similar to how the stories have allowed the kids change. It’s funny, fast, inventive and finds new ways to make the eventual loss of childhood innocence feel like a scary journey worth taking. And the film has a lot of interesting subtext about the importance of imagination to a healthy life. Plus, I would love to see a series of shorts starring the two characters voiced by Key & Peele. That was some hilarious stuff! 


CRAWL (2019) is a throwback to the lean, mean animal attack films of the 1970’s. A hurricane caused flood traps a man under his house and when his daughter arrives to help, things escalate with both of them menaced by alligators. There are a few moments of dodgy CGI and at least one point where I think there is too much physical damage done to a character for them to survive, but it’s a pretty solid small-scale creature feature.


SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK (2019) is based on a series of kid’s books which had me dialing down my expectations. Luckily, the movie does a good job of using well the idea of a book filled with magically real stories. The 1968 setting helps as well with the small-town backdrop adding a Ray Bradbury style touch, at least until the terrifying monsters show up to scare the bejeezus out of the young characters. The movie makes good use of a Halloween setting and well-done practical effects work to amp up the creepiness. Although I enjoyed the film overall, I think it’s missing something that could have pushed it into classic territory. But, I’ll watch it again next October to see if I have a more positive reaction.

The List

20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954) – 8 (rewatch on Blu)
TOY STORY 4 (2019) – 8
FRANKENSTEIN 1970 (1958) – 5 (rewatch on Blu)
THE PROFESSIONALS (1966) – 8
THE MUMMY’S REVENGE (1975) – 8 (rewatch on Blu!)
THE SEA SERPENT (1985) – 4 (Ossorio’s last)
CRAWL (2019) – 6 (animal attack tale - nothing new but well done)
LOS PASAJEROS (1975) – 4 (a.k.a. The Travelers – failed Spanish arthouse w/Naschy)
THE SPIDER WOMAN (1943) – 7 (rewatch of Sherlock Holmes adventure)
LAS ALIMANAS (1977) – 7  (a.k.a. The Vermin – Ossorio crime film)
KEEP WATCHING (2017) – 3 (bad home invasion effort)
TREASURE ISLAND (1934) – 8 (very good version)
BATMAN: HUSH (2019) – 8  (excellent story with a host of villains)
THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB (2018)- 4 (well directed but stupidly plotted)
SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK (2019) – 6 (slight but well made)
BILLY THE KID VS DRACULA (1966) – 4 (rewatch on Blu – why do I like this?)
TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1972) – 9 (rewatch)
AVENGING FORCE (1986) – 4 (dumb, overlong action film)
DEATH WARMED UP (1984) - 3 (terrible New Zealand horror film)
EMBODIMENT OF EVIL (2008) – 8 (rewatch)
THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN (2009) – 8 (rewatch on Blu)
DEMONOID (1980) – 6 (interesting possessed hand story)




Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday the 13th Art!













It's only in the past fifteen years or so that I became a fan of this series. Now, I feel that they are a strange form of comfort viewing - 80's style. My appreciation for the slasher genre took time to grow and the maturity to realize that I was having a reaction to them that I disliked when I observed it in others. Like all other types of movies there are good and bad examples. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Song & Trailer - CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN



After yesterday's post about the film I couldn't get the classic Roky Erickson song out of my head. He clearly loved this film as much as I do. Probably more! 
Here's the trailer! 


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Brief Thoughts - CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN (1955)


I can't say that CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN (1955) is a particularly good movie but it is an enjoyable one. It's got a lot of things going for it even if one of those things isn't a particularly high budget. Director Edward L. Cahn is known for a handful of 1950s science-fiction / monster movies and although CEATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN is not the best it is also definitely not the worst. The reason for this is probably the script. Although it's also not Curt Siodmak best genre work his script for this film does have a firm enough structure and a strong enough basic idea for the movie to work. It's a little ramshackle but it still functions pretty well. On my umpteenth viewing last night, I found myself liking the movie more than in the past. Maybe I’ve seen it enough times for it to have become comfort viewing. 

My main takeaway this time is a continued fascination with Siodmak returning again and again to the combination of gangsters and mad science. DONOVAN’S BRAIN (1955) (both novel and film) is the better-known example and the better film if truth were to be told. This strange combination is something that probably shouldn't work but somehow does. And this film’s concept of ill-gotten money funding evil science for criminal revenge is a pretty tasty combination. Even if it doesn't serve up a fully satisfying meal here it's still a pretty good snack. Can’t watch just one!