Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A wish for a Wolfman's memories

Recently going through BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL I was reminded not just of how much I like Paul Naschy’s movies but of how little there really is out there documenting his career. There are a few good websites but few books. He wrote an autobiography several years ago that I can recommend called ‘Memories of a Wolfman’ but as much as I enjoyed it, the book was thin on details of his amazingly prolific movie career. There are whole films that are barely mentioned. As Mr. Naschy is still very much alive I would hope that someone might prevail upon him to write another book delving into his thoughts on just his movies. Much like William Shatner’s ‘Movie Memories’ volume it could give details of the conception of the stories, the production events and the promotional work for each film.

Of course, it’s quite possible that he has no interest in this kind of book at all. I would find that sad but acceptable. It’s his life and he may wish to move on. In that case, it would be nice if someone could conduct a lengthy series of interviews with him either on film or even just on tape. This would make it possible to write a book based on these interviews and include the thoughts of other participants willing to comment on the record.

I love Naschy’s movies and I think a lot of other people would love to read his in depth thoughts on his career. Here’s hoping it happens someday and soon.

Monday, April 21, 2008

PUMPKINHEAD poster art

Years ago I had a number of friends that thought very highly of this film. I watched it once and was unimpressed. Very unimpressed. So unimpressed I thought my friends had lost their critical abilities. I mean come on! Have you seen PUMPKINHEAD? Great creature design does not make a great movie! And the friends that tried to convince me of this sucker's qualities were the same fellows who tried to tell me Ken Russel's GOTHIC was good so it's not like they had a solid track record on recommendations.

But recently I've been tempted to watch it again. My memories have dimmed and the details of the story are faded shadows. Was it as crappy as I remember? Maybe I should put it in the NetFlix list? Could I just be thinking this artwork is so cool the movie might not really suck?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

BATMAN (1943)- Chapter 3

As Chapter 3 begins Batman & Robin are escaping from the nefarious Japoteurs with the unconscious Linda thrown over Batman’s shoulder. Walking along electrical wires Batman is about to be fried by rapidly advancing deadly sparks when Robin leaps to the ground and throws a rope over the wires for his partner to shimmy down. Safely on the ground our heroes rush off to get Linda to a doctor.

In his lair hidden behind a carnival House of Horrors Daka plots to blow up a train. When a kidnapped man (who appears to be the missing Uncle Martin from the first two chapters) refuses to cooperate he applies his zombie creating machine and has another slave. Already I’m getting confused! Is this Linda’s uncle? And if so how did he survive the fall at the end of chapter 1? And why does Daka have to re-zombify him? Does the process wear off? I need clarification dammit!

The henchmen report to Daka about the loss of Linda and the feisty villain dresses them down. When informed that someone has placed an ad in the paper asking for the owner of a ‘strange gun like object’ to come forward and claim their property he knows Batman is setting a trap. And indeed he is. Having no leads this is a desperate attempt to smoke out the evil organization using the captured radium gun.

Daka’s men call and set up a meet to reclaim the weapon. A disguised and nervous Alfred is waiting in the office being used as a front. (Alfred showed up in the second chapter and is clearly being used as the series’ reoccurring comic relief. Not that his sad antics are funny but what are you going to do. It is cool that he reads pulp adventure magazines as a hobby.) Robin follows one of the bad guys to the roof and when three others rush Alfred in the office another fist fight breaks out. This one starts with a pretty dangerous looking fall onto the set through a skylight that must have caused some bruises if nothing else. It’s a nice stunt and it looks like it really was the actor playing Robin that did it!

In the scuffle no one gets killed as Alfred is the only one who manages to fire a gun- poorly. But Batman is able to get his hands on a jacket with a note about that night's plan to blow up the train. Off to the Bat mobile to reach the bridge just as some evil henchmen are setting the bomb on the trestle. The Dynamic Duo attack but as the train approaches Batman is whacked over the head and collapses right next to the ticking bomb! And the train is barreling down the track with no possibility of stopping!

Will Batman be blown up? Will he be sliced up by the wheels of the oncoming train instead? Will Robin despair of his crime fighting buddy’s pathetic habit of getting nearly killed every few hours? And will Daka have to re-re-zombify Uncle Martin? And does that zombie making machine do perms?

Some of these questions will be asked in the next exciting and confusing chapter! I hope.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Nazi Exploitation films - Where shall I begin?

I love exploitation films of all types. I could spend an entire week watching nothing but one kind of exploitation film after another if I had no responsibilities and all the wealth in the world. Start out with a Women In Prison series on Monday, Blaxploitation on Tuesday, Cannibal movies for Wednesday, Car Chase flicks for Thursday and Military action movies to cap things off on Friday. And that leaves the weekend for anything else that might spring to mind.

In the category of ‘anything else’ is definitely the bizarre sub-genre of Nazi Exploitation movies. Sleazy, depraved and often completely horrible and disgusting they are few people’s idea of a good time at the cinema. But for the curious they can become a fascinating trip into both the odd decade that produced them (the 1970s) and the very European view of World War II that isn’t usually seen by Americans. I’ve only seen a few including the legendary ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS and it’s a class of film I don’t often feel a desire to dig into. But my recent purchase of a box set of three Naziploitation movies has me itching to check one out. I just haven’t decided which one to watch first.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Just finished a review of this movie under its more colorful title of BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL. I'm not sure which title I prefer.......

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Peplum Guide

Over at the Euro-Trash Paradise Yahoo group a few months ago someone was talking about their love of sword & sandal movies. I chimed in expressing my enjoyment of the genre and mentioned a magazine format guide I bought through the mail years ago. I promised to drag it out and post the info about it but I've only now been able to locate it. Sometimes I think I have too much crap and sometimes I think I don't have enough.

It's called "MUSCLES, MYTHS AND MOVIES- 'An Acquired Taste On Video' Guide to the Cinematic Adventures of Hercules". It's listed as being compiled by Stephen Flacassiea. Its a plain black & white magazine copyrighted 1994 with an ISBN number of 0-9641643-0-2.

Its a pretty entertaining 66 page triple columned look at a number of peplums with a four category rating system-
1. Beefcake- how pumped up was the lead?
2. Monsters- are they good, bad, ugly or some combination of the three?
3. Love Interest- is the hot thing wallpaper or an actual character?
4. Action Scenes- Quantity of fights with 'Hero vs. Everyone' being the highest rating.

I'm not sure if this is still available out there anyplace but its a fun read for fans of the genre. Its been so long that I wonder if there was ever a follow up publication with more information and reviews.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

What I watched in March 2008

THE POSTMAN (1997)- 4 (sadly overlong and slightly silly but containing some fine elements)
LIFESPAN (1974)- 5 (interesting in part but flat overall)
THE WANDERERS (1979)- 6 (gang warfare in 1963 Bronx-pretty good)
JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER (2008)- 8 (excellent animated adaptation that should have been longer)
ALIEN 3 (1993)- 8 (rewatch of the work print cut- much superior to the theatrical version)
THE FLESH EATERS (1964)- 5 (not bad but a bit too long)
TRAGIC CEREMONY (1972)- 5 (weak Freda but not terrible)
WITCHCRAFT (1964) – 6 (well done short thriller)
LUCKY # SLEVIN (2006)- 8 (damned good twisty hit man tale)
THE RACKET (1951)- 7 (excellent but stage bound noir)
VANTAGE POINT (2008)- 5 (great until it flies out of control in the last 20 minutes)
THE AZTEC MUMMY (1957)- 3 (silly and only occasionally exciting)
CHAIN REACTION (1996)- 2 (a terrible script and a waste of a game cast)
THE LAST OF SHEILA (1973)- 9 (sharp, tricky mystery with a great cast)
MANEATER OF HYDRA (1967)- 5 (your average mad botanist movie-Cameron Mitchell’s performance is fantastic)
JUMPER (2007)- 7 (a lot more fun than I’d been led to believe)
TIME OF THE WOLF (2003)- 6 (interesting but depressing French post-apocalyptic drama)
DOOMSDAY (2008)- 8 (rip-off or homage?- whatever- it’s a hyper-violent blast!)
BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL (1973)- 7 (rewatch)

I finally finished the first season of HEROES and I liked it. I didn't love it but it was good. I also caught a couple of old AVENGERS episodes to bask in the glow of Emma Peel. I still have two hours of THE SARAH CONNORS CHRONICLES to see and I'm happy to report the show got better as it went along. It was a smart move to ignore the third film and barrel on.