Monday, May 31, 2010

Lady Liberty in Distress

A few months ago I posted some images from comics and pulps that play with the idea of using the Statue of Liberty's destruction as a visual to impress the idea of apocalyptic horror on the viewer. The most famous of these is, of course, the end of the 1968 PLANET OF THE APES. As I find more such images I gather them and you, dear reader, are the beneficiary.



Thursday, May 27, 2010

Six Million Dollar memories

When I was a kid my favorite television show was The Six Million Dollar Man. I loved that show with a white hot intensity that can only be explained by my love of comic book super heroes. The character of Col. Steve Austin was the closest TV had to a super hero with his super strength, super speed and telescopic vision. He was like a more human version of Superman or the Flash and as I got a little older and saw some of the James Bond movies he seemed a bit like 007 as well. I was a major fan to say the least. In fact, I was such a fanatic I joined the official Fan Club. I can still remember the morning that the big white envelope arrived in the mail with all the Six Million Dollar Man Fan Club material stuffed inside. It was a moment of true magic that beat even the stunned giddiness of Christmas morning or an unexpected birthday surprise. It was a hard thing to go to school that day instead of sitting at home and marveling at the geeky bounty. I’m sure the clock crawled.


I wish I still had that stuff or any of my toys from the show. I think I had most of the action figures including the Oscar Goldman figure, the board game, the snap-tite model and even the Power Records story albums.

One of the off shoots of my love of this show was a willingness to watch Lee Majors in anything. This rarely panned out for me as a kid as most of the movies a TV star could get in the 1970s and 80s were far from the caliber that is offered these days. Anyone who has suffered through the painfully funny/bad THE NORSEMAN will tell you that Majors was not getting scripts with much gravitas or quality. But there is one of his movies from this sad period (before he landed his next TV role in The Fall Guy) that I remember fondly. THE LAST CHASE (1981) played on HBO in the early 80s on an almost endless loop. A Canadian motion picture it had that slightly 'off' feel that Canada seemed to exude at the time which worked really well for this futuristic tale. If I remember the story correctly it takes place in a near post-apocalyptic future in which cars are outlawed after all the oil has dried up. The only way to get around is by public transportation and the government keeps a firm hand on the population through various totalitarian methods. Majors plays a guy who has kept a beautiful sports car hidden and as an act of rebellion decides to go on one last cross country run. Along the way he picks up a kid companion played by Chris Makepeace and is eventually hunted down by aging fighter pilot Burgess Meredith. Yeah- the Six Million Dollar Man is chased by The Penguin!


Its been nearly 30 years since I've seen this movie and I've recently gotten the itch to rewatch it to see if it can live up to my recollection of being a pretty good little film. I suspect it may suck but I've gotten my hands on a copy and I'll check it out in the next few days. And even if it turns out to stink it has to be better than THE NORSEMEN!

But when are we going to see The Six Million Dollar Man on DVD? Talk about leaving money on the table!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

STAR WARS memories


Just about 30 years ago I sat in the crowded Eastgate movie theater in Chattanooga, TN and watched THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. I was with my little brother and my father. This was around the time my parents separated right before their divorce but I can’t be sure if that was the reason Dad rather than Mom took us two over-excited kids to see the most anticipated film we’d ever experienced. The place was packed and we had to sit on the far right side of the room but nothing could have dampened the film’s effect on us. Even Dad enjoyed it and he’s no fan of science fiction. Afterward he remarked that he really liked the fact that Darth Vader kept killing off his incompetent underlings. He chuckled every time he thought about it.

But what if the second and greatest STAR WARS film had been made in the 1950s………

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Summer horror reading

For years now I’ve been in the habit of seeking out old paperback horror novels in used book stores. Like many people of my generation I went through a period in the 1980s of reading a lot of horror. The Stephen King created boom of the genre had publishers printing everything that might become a hit in search of the next big author. Good things came from that boom and a lot of bad things as well but one of the aspects of this mad rush to put out as much horror fiction as possible is that some truly insane stuff got released onto the public. Luckily some of this insane stuff is pretty inspired and entertaining. Not that I always felt that this was true.

One of my favorite writers of this type is Guy N. Smith. During my years working in bookstores I shied away from his books because of their crazed covers and even more nutty titles. I was pretentious enough to turn up my nose at books about rampaging giant crabs and alien slime monster and tried to limit my ‘fun’ reading to higher minded science fiction and popular novels. In other words, I was an idiot! But now, having embraced Smith’s batshit crazy work, I find myself picking up every used horror novel I can find as long as it was published between 1970 and about 1986. I’m not sure why I picked 1986 as a cutoff point but I suspect it might have something to do with that being the year I graduated from high school.


Another odd part of my new reading obsession is that I find I like British authors more than American ones. I think it has to do with enjoying the ground level peeks inside everyday Brit’s lives that go along with the dismemberments and demonic attacks that keep me hunting for UK writers. Often I find myself simply fascinated by the different ways in which the countries view public life and dangerous situations. These are usually subtle but at times the differences are stark. Take for instance the climax of Kenneth McKenney’s nutty book THE PLANTS reprinted in the US in 1984 but first published in 1976. For most horror readers it might be considered a non-climax or the height of anti-climax but I loved it. Of course, the entire book is loony in the extreme but things are played so straight you just have to go along for the ride. I was less than 50 pages into the book before I was amused to note that the plot and the threat being spelled out resembled M. Night Shyamalan’s epic failure THE HAPPENING. A particularly good spring and summer has produced a jump in the amount of plant growth all over England. This fecund burst prompts the rich plant life of our planet to finally take a hand in stopping our ever expanding crush of nature with pollution and over population. Luckily some people can ‘hear’ the plants and attempt to broker a kind of d√©tente. The story ends with the inhabitants of a small English village holding onto a tree and ‘communicating’ with it their intention to be better stewards of the Earth. Then an older lady goes off with the telepathic plants to be one with them or something to that effect. No explosions; no pitched battle with EVIL; no mad rush to stop an imminent disaster. But I liked it. And while I was able to believe in the plight of the British villagers enough to buy their actions I also kept thinking that Americans would have acted in much dumber ways to the threat. I suspect tanks and helicopters would have been deployed to fight off the vegetable menace.

While I enjoyed the tale, THE PLANTS is not a good book in any formal sense. The introduction of the threat is so hysterically handled that I was laughing out loud as I read it and the way characters accept the completely ridiculous again and again is sure to induce many readers to give up and start another, less silly, story. But it’s a lot of fun and it’s exactly the type of horror fiction I crave these days. Though I know it would make a really crappy movie.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hong Kong Phooey toy


I'm thinking that I'm going to have to have this. He is the Number One Super Guy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Loving (and wearing) the Blind Dead

This past weekend I attended Wonderfest in Louisville, KY. I do this each year not because I'm a huge fan of model building or model sculpting (which is the main focus of the convention) but because its one of the few times all year I get to hang out with a number of friends. I know far too many good folks that live hundreds of miles away in Ohio, California, Texas and other such exotic locales and we use this geek gathering as an excuse to see each other, eat sushi and buy expensive stuff we'll have to lie to our loved ones about later. ("I won this statue- I swear!") I was excited this year to get the chance to meet a few new people I knew by reputation or simply as a fan. Those are stories for another time, though.
The funniest thing for me happened on Saturday when my chosen T-shirt for the day resulted in four separate conversations about Spanish director Amando de Ossorio's fantastic BLIND DEAD quartet of films. No less than three very different but impassioned film writers opined that these were some of (if not THE) scariest monster movies of the 1970s with one august fellow proclaiming them the quintessential monsters of that decade. I have to agree. The first film alone is a classic of the horror genre that stands up brilliantly today making the current crop of sad-ass remakes and weak 'thrillers' look like the dreck they are. Scene after scene is not just creepy or scary or titillating but also beautifully shot. There are so many amazing images from TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971) that its hard to just show a few and not turn this post into a still gallery. Here's a couple showing a sequence that seems very influenced by Bava's BLOOD & BLACK LACE.

It really is an amazing film and I encourage everyone with an interest in Horror movies to seek out not just the first but all four. Some fans even claim the second film is better than the original but I don't agree. You don't have to be a Euro-Cult or Euro Trash fan to enjoy these movies either- just enjoying being creeped out and shocked is all that's required to have one Hell of a time.

Oh! If you're interested in getting a shirt like mine you can buy it from Fright Rags. They are responsible for the equally great Zombie vs. Shark T-shirt I own as well. I recommend their work highly.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

100 Eurotrash Films to See Before you Die!

Recently over at the Yahoo Group EuroTrash Palace the members took it upon themselves to compile a list of the '100 Eurotrash films to see before you die'. This was started as an exercise to create a quick listing of the movies beloved by fans of European Trash to hand to newbies that might point them toward the highs (and lows) that were possible. The first 50 or so were pretty easy but after that we had to dig. I have to admit its a pretty good listing and there are several that I still haven't tracked down.
KING OF KONG ISLAND is in my 'to watch' pile as are PATRICK STILL LIVES and DAY OF ANGER. I'll get to them soon enough. This list pushed me to finally see THE CORRUPTION OF CHRIS MILLER which turned out to be fantastic and it kind of reignited my enthusiasm to seek out more unseen trashy treasures. My trash loving brethren have rarely steered me wrong over at the ETP so I plan to tick more of these titles off as I move along through 2010. If I had to level a complaint against this 100 it would be that not enough Euro-Crime and Euro-Spy movies are represented. Indeed, the list is pretty top heavy with horror films. I think that just goes to show the general preference for that genre among the Group but it has to be said that Europeans were rarely better than when they cranked up the scares. And now that I think of it PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES should be on there somewhere. I'd replace MALABIMBI probably.

1. THE HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE
2. THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z
3. BLOOD AND BLACK LACE
4. DEVIL'S NIGHTMARE
5. NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST
6. TENEBRAE
7. LADY FRANKENSTEIN
8. KING OF KONG ISLAND
9. TORTURE CHAMBER OF DR SADISM
10. BLOOD FOR DRACULA
11. ATOM AGE VAMPIRE
12. BLOODY PIT OF HORROR
13. CREATURE WITH THE BLUE HAND
14. THRILLER - A CRUEL PICTURE
15. FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE
16. DJANGO KILL!
17. PATRICK STILL LIVES
18. THE NEW YORK RIPPER
19. ZOMBIE
20. LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE
21. BURIED ALIVE
22. NIGHTMARE CITY
23. THE BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE
24. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST
25. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE?
26. DANGER: DIABOLIK
27. THE 10TH VICTIM
28. DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS
29. CASTLE OF BLOOD
30. VENUS IN FURS
31. THE GREAT SILENCE
32. BURIAL GROUND
33. HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD
34. RATS - A NIGHT OF TERROR
35. WHO CAN KILL A CHILD?
36. YOR, THE HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE
37. THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED
38. HORROR EXPRESS
39. REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE
40. THE LIVING DEAD GIRL
41. EYES WITHOUT A FACE
42. DJANGO
43. KEOMA
44. INFERNO
45. NEKROMANTIK 1 or 2
46. THE BEYOND
47. DEMONS
48. PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK
49. CANNIBAL FEROX
50. HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY
51. BAY OF BLOOD
52. DEEP RED
53. STARCRASH
54. SUSPIRIA
55. DIVINE EMANUELLE: LOVE CULT
56. TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD
57. RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD
58. NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS
59. BLACK SUNDAY
60. THE HORRIBLE DR. HICHCOCK
61. THE GHOST GALLEON
62. WILD WILD PLANET
63. VIOLENT CITY
64. FASCINATION
65. THE GRAPES OF DEATH
66. MANHUNT
67. REVOLVER
68. HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD
69. THE COLLEGE GIRL MURDERS
70. KOMMISSAR X: KISS KISS KILL KILL
71. THE MAD FOXES
72. MATALO
73. 2019: AFTER THE FALL OF NEW YORK
74. SLAUGHTER HOTEL
75. FRANKENSTEIN `80
76. DAY OF ANGER
77. DEATH RIDES A HORSE
78. BLADE VIOLENT
79. THE CORRUPTION OF CHRIS MILLER
80. GIANT OF METROPOLIS
81. THE SPIDER LABYRINTH
82. PIECES
83. A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL
84. CURSE OF THE LIVING DEAD (aka KILL BABY KILL)
85. SLEEPLESS
86. ANTHROPOPHAGUS (aka THE GRIM REAPER)
87. GOLIATH AND THE VAMPIRES
88. THE WHITE SPIDER
89. THE PHANTOM OF SOHO
90. THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE
91. THE WHIP & THE BODY
92. THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE
93. MALABIMBA
94. DELIRIO CALDO
95. DIARY OF AN EROTIC MURDERESS
96. HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB
97. IMMORAL TALES
98. IMMORAL WOMEN
99. DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOMEN
100. THE BEAST IN SPACE

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Thoughts on Bert I Gordon

My recent viewing of THE CYCLOPS (1957) got me to thinking about the Blind Idiot God--uh, uh-- I mean Bert I. Gordon. Realizing that I had somehow missed one of his ridiculous 'growing' or 'shrinking' epics caused me to pull up his IMDB page to see just how many of his science fiction efforts I was unaware of. It turns out that with THE CYCLOPS under my belt I've run the board, so to say.

I've even seen his less than stellar ghost movie TORMENTED (1960) but unfortunately once he ventured out into simple thriller territory my viewing history gets spotty. I would like the chance to see PICTURE MOMMY DEAD (1966), NERCROMANCY (1972) and THE MAD BOMBER (1973) even though I suspect that the quality would still be at the standard BIG hit-or-miss level that best characterizes all of his movies. Bert always had bigger ambitions that talent and that's one of the reasons I find his work so fun. Even when they fail they have a certain charm that manages to endear them to a old monster fan like me. Hell! I still get some joy out of EMPIRE OF THE ANTS (1977) for God's sake so you know I'm a fan of the man! I wonder if younger generations will find anything in his admittedly C-grade works to keep his legacy alive as the 21st century moves on? I hope so. There are smiles and (mild) thrills to be had watching a poorly done special effect spider walk across a postcard as crowds of people flee the city.


Thursday, May 06, 2010

Paul Naschy on Spanish horror

This is the first part of an episode of the fantastic British TV series EUROTIKA. Each show focused on one area of Euro-Trash cinema and did a good job of both informing newbies and providing some amazing interviews with the creators and stars of the classics of the 1960s and 1970s European film boom. Here you can see not just Naschy but Jose Larraz, Jorge Grau and a host of others discussing their best horror efforts.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

What I Watched In April


A busy month with few trips to the cinema but much joy on the home screen. I went on an animated super hero movie tear and really enjoyed myself. There really are some great new animated movies out there. The best thing I saw last month was certainly the Korean adventure film THE GOOD THE BAD & THE WEIRD. Although a little overlong it is easily one of the most impressive movies I've seen all year and puts most American efforts to shame. Comcast's On Demand service allowed me to catch a few of the recent direct to DVD releases of Ghost House horror efforts. The stand out was the British film THE CHILDREN with the amateurish DANCE OF THE DEAD barely getting by on energy.

COLD SOULS (2008)- 5 (interesting Kauffman-esque idea; well acted but flat)
THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1963)- 6 (William Castle’s comedic take on the ’32 classic chiller)
ORGASMO (1969)- 7 (Umberto Lenzi’s psycho-sexual chiller)
SISTER STREET FIGHTER (1974)- 7 (fun chopsocky action)
THE DEVIL’S HAND (1962) – 4 (silly devil cult blandness)
REDNECK (1973)- 8 (Telly Savalas and Franco Nero as inept crooks)
SMOKIN’ ACES (2007)- 5 (interesting but it doesn’t really click-someone’s trying too hard to be Guy Ritchie)
REPO MEN (2010)- 6 (almost chokes but pulls out a nice dark ending)
THE GOOD THE BAD & THE WEIRD (2008) – 9 (amazing Korean western)
DR. SYN (1937)- 7 (first film version of the character)
THE WHIP HAND (1951)- 7 (sharp red scare thriller)
THE CHILDREN (2008) - 6 (pretty good British horror effort)
RACHAEL GETTING MARRIED (2008) - 7 (solid drama)
THE VENGEANCE OF THE MUMMY (1973) - 7 (the English dub is less good) (rewatch)
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (2010) – 7 (damned fun animated romp that could have used better dialog)
TRIANGLE (2009) – 7 (good Twilight Zone style thriller)
THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE (1973) – 6 (from its reputation I expected better)
WHAT? (1972)- 7 (mesmerizing & bizarre Polanski comedy)
DANCE OF THE DEAD (2008)- 5 (OK zombie comedy)
THE THAW (2009) - 5 (OK environmental horror)
SHERLOCK HOLMES (2009) - 8 (rewatch)
EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS (1956)- 6 (rewatch)
LA MOGLIE GIOVANE (The Young Wife) (1974) – 8 (Marisa Mell is great in this Italian thriller)
GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT (2009)- 7 (good animated retelling of GL’s origin)
SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES (2009)- 8 (excellent DC Universe adventure)
KICK-ASS (2010)- 8 (dark but great non-super super hero movie)
OFFSPRING (2009)- 6 (nasty little Jack Ketchum adaptation)
BATMAN VS. DRACULA (2005)- 8 (animated adventure is better than I expected)
VAMPYRES (1974)- 8 (rewatch)
THE CYCLOPS (1957)- 2 (bottom of the barrel Bert I. Gordon)
PLANET HULK (2009)- 8 (my kind of Hulk story – plus Beta Ray Bill!)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Phantom - comic book trailer

I think I need to pick up some of these Moonstone Phantom comics. Wow!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

NaschyCast #4 -THE VENGEANCE OF THE MUMMY (1973)


In the 4th episode of NaschyCast we unravel THE VENGEANCE OF THE MUMMY a.k.a. THE MUMMY'S REVENGE. Occasionally slow and packed with Egyptian lore and mystery the film is one of my favorite mummy movies and Troy (despite a lack of mummy love) actually feels the same way. Of course, calling it the second best mummy movie of all time is like claiming to be the leper with the most fingers but it’s still one Hell of a fun movie. Bloody, sexy and filled with murder set pieces that rival what was being done in gore films of the same vintage it’s a fun, furious ride with a few surprises along the way. Crushed heads for everyone!

Back from HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB is director Carlos Aured, lovely co-star Helga Line and Naschy his own bad self is again playing two separate roles. Hey! When you can play both the villain and his main henchman why not do it? I wonder if he got two paychecks?

Anyway- a great Naschy horror film and we have a lot of fun with it, so enjoy!

Download Link

1990s memories


That could have been me in the ape costume. Really. I would have done it for free. I loved Laser Discs!