Sunday, December 28, 2008

Good news for Sword & Sandal fans!

No sooner do I watch ATLAS IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS from the Mill Creek Warriors pack of 50 peplum films then I see this news posted over on DVD Drive In--

On March 31, Image Entertainment will release the HERCULES COLLECTION, a four-disc peplum set featuring such stars as Steve Reeves, Mark Forest, Reg Park, Gordon Scott and Richard Harrison. Titles in the set include HERCULES, MOLE MEN AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES, HERCULES THE AVENGER, HERCULES AND THE BLACK PIRATE, HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN, HERCULES, PRISONER OF EVIL, HERCULES AND THE PRINCESS OF TROY, ATLAS IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS and GIANTS OF ROME. Image promises 2.35:1 widescreen transfers on most of these English-dubbed titles, and the set will retail for $19.98

Of course, I hope that ALL of the nine movies listed will end up presented in their proper aspect ratios but even if only a few are this is a very good thing. Hercules films in widescreen are not as easy to find as I'd like them to be, sad to say. I can't wait to see what this set brings us in April.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas tradition

Each December I watch SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS. Not because its a good movie and fills me with holiday spirit but because its a BAD movie and fills me with holiday spirit. It's a wonderfully awful cinematic error that never fails to put a smile on my face. Of course, the only way I can watch it is by heckling it to death which is why I only view it in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version. Recorded 15 years ago and it is still comedy gold.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Two things for your December 25th enjoyment: this great blog entry combining Lovecraftian madness with IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

And second- this video set to one of my favorite alternative Christmas songs. Have a good one!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Viking Apes!

Nothing says winter like gorillas in Viking dress. (Click on the image for a more detailed look.)

This is the cover art for issue 26 of Marvel's 1970s Planet of the Apes magazine. I don't have this one but I really need to locate it eventually. As an avowed Apes fanatic the idea of combining them with Vikings conjures a movie starring Charlton Heston and Kirk Douglas that ends with a bloody axe duel on a beach in front of the Statue of Liberty.

Mario Bava should direct. And Cameron Mitchell should play a significant role. Yeah....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Hate People! (Not really)

I simply love the 1971 musical film version of Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol. Entitled SCROOGE it stars Albert Finney as Ebenezer Scrooge and he gives one of the best performances of his life. Ripping into the character, Finney shows us both the despicable aspects of the old man and the warm, loving human being he was in his younger days leading to a series of incredibly touching scenes in the last twenty minutes of the film. I’ve heard some folks remark that Scrooge is such a mean spirited bastard here that he becomes unsympathetic but I think that is way off the mark. For the man’s redemption to really mean something you have to see him as a truly cold hearted creature and this version nails it. This film never gets old for me and never stops making me glad I’m alive and surrounded by loved ones during the Holiday season.

Here is my favorite song from the movie- and actually my favorite song in the world.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Marvel Christmas past

When I was a young lad I had this over-sized comic book. Back then $1.50 was a lot of scratch to pay for a 'funny book' but I was thrilled to get this. I may eventually use the magic of Bay E to get another copy because, 30 years on, I can only remember one tale from the collection. The Nick Fury Christmas story has stuck with me for some reason- possibly because he had a flying car and was James Bond cool ending up with the girl on Christmas Eve- if I recall correctly.

Aahhh- to be eight again!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The SPIRIT that wasn't

I have no idea if Frank Miller's film adaptation of THE SPIRIT will be good or not. I was excited at first but some of the footage I've seen in trailers make me wonder if he'll strike the right tone. Still- I'll go see it out of curiosity and hope. You never know.....

I know there was a TV movie about the character years ago that was apparently not very good but I was unaware of THIS earlier attempt to bring Will Eisner's most famous creation to the cinema. What might have been.....

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

STAR CRASH (1979) trailer

I just can't stop myself. Here's a great looking trailer for this bizarre film.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New STARCRASH adventures?

I take a back seat to no one in my enjoyment of the complete Luigi Cozzi clusterf**k that is STARCRASH. Today we started a discussion of this amazing cinematic achievement over on the Eurotrash Paradise yahoo board and so far its going quite well. But the most incredible thing is the announcement at the fan site The Haunted Stars that comic book sequels of the adventures of Stella Star are on the horizon. They even posted this panel art as proof.

I have my doubts that this will ever actually be published but I'll buy a copy if it happens.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

WAR OF THE PLANETS (1966) poster art

I cannot lie- I love this Antonio Margheriti science fiction film. I can't say its good but it is a great piece of pulp SF from Italy that entertains me every time.

I had never seen this amazing artwork for it and just had to share.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Tarzan may not survive this...

If there is one thing I can think of that would depress me more than Stephen Sommers making another film- of any type- it would be that he get another shot at a film icon. After failing repeatedly to make a movie even passably good in THE MUMMY, THE MUMMY RETURNS and VAN HELSING (for which he should have been beaten) word now is that he will next crap all over Edgar Rice Burroughs' most famous creation TARZAN. This is the kind of thing that makes me dry heave. Sommers has proven time and again that he cannot make a good film. That enough people have been fooled into seeing his movies to make them profitable does not change the fact that he registers high on the 'Incompetent Hollywood Hacks' list along with Micheal Bay, Joel Schumacher and Roland Emmerich.

This project needs to be stopped. And we must find a way. Tarzan can survive almost anything but Sommers must be kept away from this. If he does his usual moronic job we may not see another good Tarzan film for 50 years or more.

The Big Gundown (1966)- Italian trailer

I've wanted to see this Spaghetti western for years but have never gotten the chance. I love watching Lee Van Cleef shoot people. It's a sickness.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Kinski's PAGANINI (1989)

One of the best things about the various Yahoo Groups I belong to is that the members often push me to read, listen to and see things I might never have tried otherwise. Such is definitely the case with the EuroTrash Paradise. The list of books and movies these guys have turned me onto would fill a notebook! Returning to a fine tradition of the group this past week was the Twisted Video Book Club in which we watch a particular film and discuss it. Dan Taylor of Exploitation Retrospect provided this crazed film that appears to have been Klaus Kinski's last. Here are the comments I added to the very long, all day talk. I'm one of the few that found something to like about this movie. Enjoy- and if you're so inclined- pop over and join in the discussions with the rest of us. We're always happy for more!

That seems to be the theme of Kinski’s PAGANINI. But then when a film is written, edited and directed by the mad man that is K2 then I guess that would have been the theme no matter what. I assume Klaus felt a strong kinship to Paganini as he throws himself into the role completely. Not that Kinski ever half-assed his way through anything but he seems especially invested in this man’s life. I wonder if he saw his own life as reflected in some of the sad events depicted here.

I have no idea of the historical veracity of this crazed film but it is at least visually arresting- not so much for its photography, although that might be judged fine if a better print could ever be found. It’s more an arresting kaleidoscope of images and partial scenes edited together to push the viewer into Paganini’s life. As laid out by Kinski the man was a rock star of his time as we are shown dozens of women swooning over him in ways that reminded me of reactions to The Beatles. Playing to sold out crowds, tearing through bows, abusing his violin as if possessed by a musical demon the man’s genius was unquestionable. But also undeniable was his sexual obsession with under age girls and by the 25 minute mark we are introduced to Paganini’s terrible treatment of a young girl whom he seduced and promised to marry. Once she became pregnant he tried to induce an abortion and nearly killed the poor child. Then we jump into his marriage, his mistreatment and neglect of his wife, her eventual suicide and this loving relationship with his son. Sadly, all of this is played out in a confusion of images, slow motion photography and pointless scenes of Kinski eating food, riding in carriages and walking across courtyards.

And yet- and yet… I was not actually bored! The film has no real story or plot and nearly no coherent through line at all, but I was kind of mesmerized. It’s not that I was unaware of time passing but even as I became occasionally frustrated with a pointless sequence I found myself caught up in wondering where things were going and what mad thing was going to play across the screen next. A constant jumble of often disconnected things the film begins to take on the feel of a dream. Perhaps a fever dream? Could this be KInski’s ideas of the imaginings of Paganini on his deathbed? A rush of memories pulled and stretched, chopped and misaligned in a brain wracked with both disease, hatred and guilt?

While it doesn’t have a plot it does have a point- and sometimes that’s enough. When something tries hard to be both about art and a piece of art simultaneously pretensions creep in. I don’t find that to be the case with PAGANINI- well –not all the time. It is far from perfect but it is unarguably alive, vital and fascinating. One could argue over the necessity of multiple scenes of beautiful women masturbating because of an unhealthy need for Paganini and question if the man was as obsessed by asses as Kinski portrays him- but why bother! This is a mad disaster and an often lyrical rumination on a life spent rolling in beauty and filth. Amazing.

Monday, December 01, 2008

What I watched in November

In the past few months I've gained a couple of regular movie watching buddies. One is a friend I've known for years who has been spending a little more time with me lately as his schedule allows. We catch things like Guy Ritchie movies and Bond films. The other is an 11 year old young man who has become a big part of my life over the last year. He and I catch things like animated films and TWILIGHT. I'm lucky to have both of these people in my life and its a blast to be going to the theater with them as much as I do these days.

BODY OF LIES (2008)- 8 (strong political action film)
976-EVIL (1988)- 2 (abysmal horror effort)
PHASE IV (1974)- 7 (fascinating- a shame Saul Bass didn’t make more movies)
ROCKNROLLA (2008)- 8 (Guy Ritchie crime fun)
TOWER OF EVIL (1972)- 6 (rewatch) (sleazy, set bound British horror tale)
THE HOUSE ON SKULL MOUNTAIN (1973)- 6 (good non-exploitative black cast horror film)
FRANKENSTEIN (1931)- 10 (rewatch)
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE BEACH (1978)- 6 (well made sleazy Euro-thriller that earns its cringe moments)
CHANDU THE MAGICIAN (1932) – 6 (rewatch) (silly pulp hokum)
THE ROAD WARRIOR (1982)- 10 (rewatch) (caught up with the Blu-Ray)
ADAPTATION (2002)- 9 (rewatch)
RED EYE (2005) - 8 (rewatch)
MADAGASCAR 2 (2008)- 6 (by the numbers animated film but it has some solid laughs)
A TALE OF TWO SISTERS (2003)- 7 (strong Korean scare film)
SATELLITE IN THE SKY (1956)- 3 (fairly dull early British sci-fi)
THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951)- 9 (rewatch)
QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008)- 5 (as much done well as done poorly- very disappointing with incomprehensible action scenes)
THE SISTER OF URSULA (1978)- 7 (rewatch) (sleazy Italian thriller)
THE STREET WITH NO NAME (1948)- 7 (good docu-noir)
TUROK: SON OF STONE (2007)- 7 (excellent animated resurrection of a great old character- I hope there are more)
PAGANINI (1989)- 6 (bizarre take on the musician by Klaus Kinski- writer, editor & director)
TWLIGHT (2008)- 6 (much better than I expected- but too much lovey vamp crap- at least we caught it without too many screaming teen aged girls)
BEYOND THE WALL OF SLEEP (2006)- 1 (Tennessee made attempt at a Lovecraft adaptation- godawful- but a buddy of mine was the key grip and he warned me)
HUDSON HAWK (1991)- 1 (Willis’ vanity project IS as bad as you’ve heard- there is nothing worse than an unfunny comedy)
DANGEROUS SEDUCTRESS (1992)- 3 (Indonesian madness- funny as it can be)