Sunday, November 29, 2009

Franco Watch - BARBED WIRE DOLLS (1975)


Watched the second in my personal Jess Franco film fest tonight and didn’t come away too displeased. BARBED WIRE DOLLS is another of his Women in Prison stories that almost makes you impressed with his ability to conjure something out of nothing. Obviously shot on abandoned ruins someplace where the local government doesn’t care to keep up appearances the film has a minimal cast running through the same old standard plot. Various gorgeous ladies spend 80% of their time un- or under-dressed, being tortured in various ways and plotting an escape from the prison. There is the sadistic female warden, the sympathetic male doctor, the poor kind hearted guard and the high level government official in on the deal. If there had been an undercover journalist it would have hit every cliché of the genre. Since it’s a Franco film from the 70s Lina Romey plays one of the prisoners as a cute and nude woman imprisoned for a crime she didn’t commit. Did I mention that cliché?


Whatever enjoyment you can take from this type of movie depends on your ability to go with the flow. There are no real surprises with a WIP film after you’ve seen a couple of them so the only joy comes in either shocking excesses, strange variations on the themes I’ve mentioned or bizarre casting choices. Here the variation on a theme is that Lina’s character is innocent of her crime but doesn’t know it! And she never learns this fact either. Also, the ending is particularly downbeat with good folks dead and the evil people alive and well. I think the best of Franco’s WIP movies I’ve seen would have to be 99 WOMEN (1969) which hit most of the genre tropes but also had a better than average script. BARBED WIRE DOLLS’ story could be laid out on a bar napkin and I seriously doubt there was ever a complete script for the actors to reference. I got some pleasure from my viewing because of the beauty of the ladies on display and the amusement of checking the cliché boxes as it meandered along but I wouldn’t recommend the film to most folks. If you must see a Jess Franco WIP movie go with 99 WOMEN but if you are a jaded exploitation film nut check out both.

SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED (1974) trailer

Easily one of the worst movies I've ever seen with one of the funniest Yeti monsters of all time. Classic!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sophia Hardy - Euro Babe

This evening (as threatened) I watched Jess Franco's ATTACK OF THE ROBOTS (1966) a.k.a. CARTES SUR TABLE and enjoyed it quite a lot. Its a fun comedy/spy adventure with some great fights, some fun dialog and a nice breezy style. But the most impressive thing visually was actress Sophia Hardy. Wowsa!

She has a kind of 'pixie dream girl' thing going on with a smile that could melt steel plating. In this film she had dark hair but from the photos I can find she may have actually been a blond. Or not. I don't care! I'd like to see more of her movies but the 60s stuff might be hard to find. I don't even remember her from THE ROAD TO SALINA but I saw that years ago so maybe my eyesight has gotten better over time. Or maybe black & white photography makes it easier to spot beauty.



Or not.

Poster art

I just can't stop posting this great stuff!


Also known as HOTEL OF FEAR I think. I need an English friendly version so that I can figure out whats going on in this one.


I have a copy of its English dub entitled ATTACK OF THE ROBOTS and I'm looking forward to seeing it soon. Maybe tonight!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dino D-Day game trailer

I have no interest in playing video games. The entire explosion of amazing graphics and addictive scenarios over the past ten years has completely passed me by. I just don't have the desire to spend my time in that way. But.... the trailer for this game looks great!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

LUANA (1968) and its novelization


A couple of years ago I bought a bootleg copy of the then hard to find Italian made jungle girl film LUANA. I had hopes that it would be either a rough gem of hidden skill or, if that was too much, a sleazy soft-core romp in steamy nudity with fur loin cloths. It turned out to be neither sad to say. Its a poorly made outdoor epic shot on obvious indoor sets with very little in the way of sleazy fun or even interest outside of the basic idea. Not that the idea for the story was original at all but the 'child lost in the wilderness/raised by animals' concept is inherently fascinating on many levels so it takes a real effort to screw it up. That effort was made with LUANA and in a certain light that makes it unique. Not adult enough to be dirty, not well written enough to be fun it still manages to be a mostly painless 85 minutes or so even if it would have been greatly enhanced by the Mystery Science Theater crew.

A while after finally seeing the movie I made a shocking discovery- science fiction author Alan Dean Foster had written a novelization for LUANA. Holy crap! I found a copy for sale and was stunned by what I held in my hands. How had this come to be? Foster was kind of the king of science fiction film novelizations for years but how did he end up handling this small, obscure production? There was nothing for it but to ask! So I looked up Mr. Foster on the old inter-tubes and there was his contact info - right on his website. He turned out to be a very nice fellow and responded to my questions quickly and with great humor. Sadly the later emails I exchanged with him were lost when my old computer crashed but I still have our first communications. Here's how I broached the subject.....

Hello Mr. Foster,
As you might surmise, I am a fan of your work. I first became aware of your name from many science fiction film novelizations in my youth but then quickly branched out into the Pip & Flinx novels and the Spellsinger series with my favorite still being 'The Man Who Used the Universe'.

I recently became interested in tracking down a copy of the very obscure film LUANA. For months all I could locate was the amazing poster art done by Frank Frazetta but I finally was able to get a copy sourced from the only video release of the film in the world that I'm aware of (from Venezuela, of all places). Then one bit of good luck followed another and I stumbled across a copy of your novelization of the film. Until I spotted it on the table of a used book dealer i had no idea this existed. I know from your web-site that this book was published in 1974 coinciding with the small scale US release of the film. The movie was actually shot in 1968 and released in most of the world then with the US getting it a bit too late to really make much of an impression- if it really could have ever done so any way!

I am curious about what you remember of this film and your involvement with it. I realize the passing of years and the slightness of the film are working against me but I'm hoping you have some information. Did you ever see the film? Were you given a shooting script to work from? Were you aware of the film's pedigree i.e. the comic strip its based on? Any information at all would be welcome.

I must confess that I still haven't read the novelization. I haven't even pulled it from its plastic wrap! Often the anticipation of a thing can be as good or better than its realization but I hope thats not the case here. With your name on the cover I'm sure there are at least some points of interest within.

Thank you very much for reading this email. I look forward to learning what you remember about this long ago project.

Sincerely,

Rod Barnett


His reply came in less than a day.

Hi Rod;
There was no shooting script of the film available. I did the novelization after watching it...in Italian! I didn't know it was based on a comic strip.
The funniest story involves Disney. After reading the book, they wanted to buy the film rights...they didn't realize it was a novelization of an existing film.
Thanks for the kind words regarding my work.
Alan F


As I've said, we wrote back and forth a few more times and I particularly liked his comments on his novel 'The Man Who Used the Universe' but those missives are gone now. I'll leave speculation on the Disney idea to others but it does amuse me. Foster did some serious creating to fill the book's pages with no English language translation to work from. Of course, the film is pretty simply plotted so it wouldn't have been too hard to follow the tale- but still! One of the things we discussed included the fact that film came was made in 1968 in most places around the world but didn't get picked up for the US until 1974 which is when his novelization was written and published. He was unaware if its age at the time but wasn't surprised. LUANA was his first job as a film novelizer and seems to have pointed the way for his later career in the field.

Just for the record- the book was very good. Foster made up his own story to go along with the film he watched and, to put it clearly, his is the better tale by far. But if you're curious the film can now be had pretty cheaply on DVD straight from Amazon and the book isn't too hard to find either.



Sunday, November 15, 2009

GOLDEN VOYAGE poster art

Having expressed my admiration for the movie and Miss Caroline Munro here before I'll add this fine piece of promotional artwork without comment.

(click to embiggen)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

HALLOWEEN II (2009)


I caught up with Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN II last night at the local $1.50 theater and that was about the right price. This is easily the worst film I've seen theatrically all year and after TRANSFORMERS 2 I thought I had seen 2009's biggest turkey. I am in the camp that thinks Zombie had an interesting if not very good first movie, a better but still not very good second and has crapped the bed ever since. His inability to write dialog that might actually be spoken by real human beings becomes less annoying and more (unintentionally?) comic as his movies play out. He seems unaware of how people interact in life when not being threatened by a homicidal manic. I'll give him some slack for the rushed time frame he had to make this mess but if in the future he doesn't have an idea of what to do he should try asking someone else to write a script. His default redneck blather/sexual jokes/repetitions of the F word style of typing is pathetic. He almost made it work in THE DEVILS REJECTS but here it (once again) comes off as sloppy, faux-offensive drivel.

I think that may be the bottom line with Zombie's films- he so much wants to be seen as a hard-ass that he keeps tripping over his own shoelaces. To be a hard-ass filmmaker you first have to actually be a good filmmaker and he just isn't. Hopefully the poor box office for this will move him on to other things. Maybe back to music where he can be more easily ignored.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

FEAR NO EVIL movies


OK. Strange thing to post about but here goes. I just tried to watch the 1981 film FEAR NO EVIL and I completely friggin' gave up after 19 minutes. I could not gag down any more of the crap it was dishing out. Amateur acting, pathetic dialog and truly stilted direction had me marveling at the pure incompetence onscreen. I have friends that have tried to convince me over the years that writer/director Frank LaLoggia's later film THE LADY IN WHITE is some kind of minor classic but I never agreed. It always seemed like a poorly thought out hodgepodge of horror movie ideas cobbled together badly and glazed over with a veneer of sappy nostalgia. It, to put it bluntly, sucks. For years I've figured I'd check out his earlier fear flick to see if it was any better and tonight I discovered the truth- it isn't! It might actually be worse. I may never see the rest of his FEAR NO EVIL and I am unconcerned.

But to relate the bizarre nature of things this evening-- by accident, right after I gave up on 1981's sad effort, I discovered a completely unrelated movie with the same title. This movie appears to be an NBC TV movie from 1969 starring Carroll O'Connor, Louis Jourdan, Lynda Day George and Bradford Dillman. It's listed as a suspense/gothic story and it was the last script penned by Guy Endore who was responsible for 1935's MAD LOVE, 1936's DEVIL DOLL and wrote the novel that Hammer's THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1962) was based on! Holy terror gap! I must see this. It has to be better than LaLoggia's embarrassing dinner theater production. Two movies- same title- same night- without planning. Odd.

October score


I thought about just ignoring my tally of horror film watching for this past October's DVD Talk contest. I really didn't feel like typing it up and the more I looked over what I managed to fit into those 31 days the less impressed with my score I was. I didn't watch a single film in a language other than English. I didn't watch a single film starring Vincent Price. Not a single giallo? How did I watch nothing with Jamie Lee Curtis in a month I almost always check out either HALLOWEEN or its first two sequels? All my plans to rewatch RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD came to naught. Even my listing of two of the Universal Mummy movies from the 1940s as sequels to Karloff's THE MUMMY are a dubious choice since they aren't really sequels even though they do use footage from the 1932 classic. I didn't even rewatch one of my favorite modern horror sequels JASON X to tick off the 'takes place in space' slot on the list.

Did the vacation to Disney World really cut so much of my October horror movie watching time? No. That's not what happened. I just followed my ongoing trend of trying to see lots of movies I've never seen before rather than actually planning my viewing. And that lends itself to the 'what's exciting me right now' type of movie watching that I find so much fun. Why else would I have wasted my time watching RAIDERS OF ATLANTIS in October? Or, really, ever?

Oh, well. I think I'll try it again next year. It's a fun game- especially if you don't take it too seriously.

The DVDTalk October Horror Challenge Expanded Checklist/Bingo Card

Watch one film from every decade of film history.
--- 1890 -
--- 1900 -
--- 1910 -
--- 1920 -
--- 1930 – THE RAVEN
--- 1940 – THE MUMMY’S GHOST
--- 1950 - ?
--- 1960 - ?
--- 1970 – THE BAT PEOPLE
--- 1980 – WAXWORKS
--- 1990 - ?
--- 2000 – SPLINTER

Watch a film for each rating:
--- Pre MPAA-THE MUMMY
--- G - DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE
--- PG – SHOCK WAVES
--- PG-13 -
--- R – TRICK ‘R TREAT
--- NC-17 -
--- X (not porn; several horror films were rated X) -
--- Unrated (post-MPAA) -

Watch films in at least three formats (DVD, BD, HD DVD, Laserdisc, TV, online, UMD, theater, iPod, etc).
--- First format, (theater), (THE FINAL DESTINATION).
--- Second format, (DVD), (THE HANGING WOMAN).
--- Third format, (BD), (TRICK ‘R TREAT).

Watch a film starring:
--- Bela Lugosi – THE RAVEN
--- Lon Chaney Sr. -
--- Boris Karloff – THE MUMMY
--- Lon Chaney Jr. – THE MUMMY’S GHOST
--- Vincent Price -
--- Peter Cushing – SHOCK WAVES
--- Christopher Lee - DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE
--- Robert Englund -
--- Bruce Campbell -
--- Jamie Lee Curtis -

Watch films in at least two languages other than English.
--- First language, (insert language), (insert title).
--- Second language, (insert language), (insert title).

Watch a film in each of the following subgenres/types:
--- Vampire - (insert film title here)
--- Frankenstein -
--- Werewolf - TRICK ‘R TREAT
--- Mummy – THE MUMMY
--- Invisible Man -
--- Ghost/haunting – DEATH SHIP
--- Witchcraft/satanic/religious -
--- Zombie - ZOMBIELAND
--- Slasher/psycho/homicidal maniac - BODYCOUNT
--- Monster/creature feature/Godzilla – THE BAT PEOPLE
--- Documentary -
--- Musical -
--- Spoof/comedy -
--- Revenge – SUGAR HILL
--- Killer/evil doll -
--- Killer/evil animal -
--- Killer/evil child -
--- Giallo -
--- J horror -
--- MST3K/rifftrax/CT -
--- film and its remake -
--- based on a video game -
--- based on a novel – THE KEEP
--- directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis or Uwe Boll or Ulli Lommel -
--- won an Academy Award -- any category -
--- silent film -
--- Criterion version film -
--- with commentary -
--- film and at least two of its sequels – THE MUMMY, THE MUMMY’S CURSE, & GHOST
--- anthology film - TRICK ‘R TREAT
--- takes place on a holiday – TRICK ‘R TREAT
--- takes place in space -
--- takes place on or under the sea – DEATH SHIP
--- animated film -
--- called "Night of ..." -
--- called "Return of ..." -
--- called "Revenge of ..." -
--- called "Attack of ..." -
--- with the words "Living Dead" in the title -

(One film could fill multiple items. Example: Dracula would fill one for decade, rating, actor, vampire, based on novel, and maybe others as well.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

MST3K short film

Let's lighten things up a bit.......

Thursday, November 05, 2009

QUATERMASS 2 web site


If you go here you'll find an amazing thing- an entire website dedicated to the original 1955 TV serial and subsequent 1957 Hammer movie version of Nigel Kneale's QUATERMASS 2. As stated on the home page "Quatermass 2 is considered by many to be the lesser of the Quatermass stories, we think differently." Regardless of whether you think its the best or the least of the tales this is a great site packed with information including a production rundown, synopsis, info on the cast & crew, poster art, images from the comic book adaptation and lots more. For fans of Quatermass its a must view.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (1963) restoration!


From the news section of the DVD Savant page comes the welcome and unexpected news that THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS is being lovingly restored. Film 'restorationist' Mike Hyatt has spent a lot of the last ten years picking tens of thousands of tiny particles out of the soft emulsion of the original negative- by hand! Last week he screened a 35mm print of his work in Hollywood. That's all fine and great but the good news for everyone else is that "Hyatt holds substantial rights to the picture and is hoping for an eventual DVD and Blu-ray release as well as making restored prints available for theatrical screenings." That means an eventual disc of this fantastic science fiction classic I can bring home and watch over and over again. I can't wait!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

What I Watched In October


I didn't get in nearly as many horror films last month as I wanted. The trip to Florida cut into movie watching time but that isn't going to bother me in the long run. I didn't get out to the theater much either but there wasn't too much out there I wanted to see. I was kind of curious about Rob Zombie's latest Halloween disaster but after his remake two years ago the idea of giving him more money made my stomach turn. Maybe on video. With a lot of beer in my system. Maybe. Train wrecks can be fun to laugh at while drunk and H2 has 'tunnel crash' written all over it.

I spent a lot of time catching up to 70s & 80s movies I had never seen before and enjoyed doing that. Several duds but the gems were fun to finally see. Wish I had fit in more Hammer and at least one Vincent Price film, though.


RAIDERS OF ATLANTIS (1983)- 2 (abysmal Italian fantasy/action/thriller sci-fi mess)
ZOMBIELAND (2009)- 7 (good fun)
DEATH SHIP (1980)- 5 (seems to be missing parts to keep it to 90 minutes)
WAXWORKS (1988)- 4 (too unfocused and unfunny)
THE HOUSE OF FEAR (1939)- 6 (not bad mystery/scare pic)
BODYCOUNT (1987)- 4 (Deodato’s sloppy backwoods slasher)
SHOCK WAVES (1977)- 6 (rewatch)
MOH: DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE (2005)- 9 (rewatch)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981)- 5 (glad to finally see this)
THE FINAL DESTINATION (2009)- 5 (OK fourth installment in 3D)
THE MUMMY (1932)- 6 (still the least of the Universal classic monster films of the 30s)
TRICK R TREAT (2008)- 9 (excellent)
G.I. JOE (2009)- 3 (not as bad as I expected but awfully stupid anyway)
AMITYVILLE III: THE DEMON (1983)- 3 (pretty flat)
THE MUMMY’S GHOST (1944)- 6 (rewatch)
SUGAR HILL (1974)- 5 (only fair blaxploitation horror)
DAMIEN: OMEN II (1978)- 7 (rewatch)
THE BAT PEOPLE (1974)- 3 (mostly dull creature feature with an interesting ending)
THE MUMMY’S CURSE (1944)- 5 (rewatch)
SEIZURE! (1974)- 6 (interesting Faust variation)
THE HANGING WOMAN (1973)- 7 (excellent Eurotrash nonsense)
G-FORCE (2009)- 5 (predictable and not as funny as it should be but better than Transformers)
THE STEPFATHER (1987)- 7 (well done thriller)
SPLINTER (2008)- 7 (good modern monster film)
THE RAVEN (1936)- 8 (rewatch)
GRADUATION DAY (1981) - 2 (miserable slasher)
THE KEEP (1984)- 5 (rewatch)
DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968)- 5 (not great but I still love it) (rewatch)

Monday, November 02, 2009

November already?

Still coming down off the Halloween high so here are a few nice posters to look at.