Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fantasy Batman poster art



These are really making me want to pull out my DVDs of the old Batman serials and finally finish them.

Friday, November 26, 2010

LUCKY, THE INSCRUTABLE (1967)


I’m tempted to say ‘Where has this fantastic film been all my life?’ but that would be the wrong way to approach LUCKY THE INSCRUTABLE (a.k.a. Agente speciale L.K.). I don’t think that I would have enjoyed this film if I hadn’t spent the last couple of years soaking up a number of its Euro-Spy genre brethren. I fear that if I had watched this ten years ago I would have turned up my nose and never looked back so thank God I waited until now.

This is without a doubt one of my favorite Jess Franco movies. I have learned over the past 15 or so years to enjoy movies from nearly every period of his career so maybe this isn’t too surprising but this film really blew me away and I’m a little shocked at my own reaction. When I sit down for a Euro-Spy film I’m usually hoping for a serious espionage tale with a strong plot, great action, glamorous locations, beautiful ladies and a real sense of danger to the proceedings. But as I’ve watched more and more of the genre from its brief 1960s heyday I’ve realized that what generally fuels these tales is a desire to not just play in James Bond’s sandbox but to kick the sand into the Bond franchise’s face. Even the most serious of the Euro-Spy films have at least a few moments in which they wink at the camera either in acknowledgement of the cinematic theft in progress or as a nod to what the audience might expect but that the smaller budget productions could simply not supply. If the film maintains a serious tone except for those few throwaway moments I can still fully enjoy the story and become caught up in the thrills but if the film descends into silliness for the sake of cheap laughs I start to be distanced from the film and can only appreciate it at a much lower level. My general resistance to the overly humorous Spy thrillers is rarely overcome completely so when it IS overcome it’s a sign that (in my opinion) there is something really great being done by the filmmakers. A good example of this is the brilliant relaunch of the French OSS:117 film series a couple of years ago. Reimagined as a comedy thriller it managed to nail every target it aimed to hit while being both exciting and funny. But of the 1960s versions of spy comedies there are few that stand out as truly funny for me. I often wonder if they might have played better in their time as the Bond phenomenon swept the world than they do now. They almost had to, I guess. I suspect it’s similar to how the terrible/sad SCARY MOVIE franchise plays to big crowds on release but ages very poorly as the current events being mocked are left behind and forgotten.


But, back to LUCKY THE INSCRUTABLE! This film is great! Because I generally don’t like the overly humorous Euro-Spy movies I should not have enjoyed this at all but against all odds I did. Through some alchemy of filmmaking genius (yes- I said genius) Franco managed to make a funny, silly, witty, fast paced romp that, while never being credible in the least, is so damned amusing that I found myself being swept along. I swear I had a smile on my face for the whole film. I have no idea how well it would play in another language but the English dub is packed with quotable lines that more than once had me laughing out loud. Ray Danton is great as the smirking Secret Agent everyone knows (even when he’s in disguise) busy working his charms on ladies around the world as he attempts to track down counterfeit currency plates. The plot is, of course, just the thinnest of threads to which hang each gunfight, fistfight, romantic encounter, car chase or daring escape as we watch Danton and his co-stars have fun running through their various roles. Dante Posani plays a kind of sidekick accompanying our man Lucky on his adventure, Barbara Bold is present as a nice piece of tanned eye candy and the amazingly sexy Rosalba Neri shows up as a whip wielding Albanian General. Wow! Miss Neri’s character wasn’t needed in any way but I am SO glad she was present.

While the main target being skewered in this spoof/satire is clearly the Bond series Franco throws in a few other things too. Periodically there are still/posed shots with comic book-like word balloons commenting humorously on the action and when the film shifts location there is a full comic description (often in Italian so I’m not always sure what’s being communicated) to one side of the still moving image. It’s almost as if once things start moving he didn’t want to slow down for anything. I suspect that if he had I would have focused on the silliness of the entire affair and had less fun. I also loved Franco’s two separate cameos – one as a man stabbed in the back who still somehow delivers his important message to Lucky and the second as a train hopping hobo who is found sleeping under a cow. You kind of have to see it to understand.


And did I mention the fantastic score by Bruno Nicolai? It’s a classic of the genre with a theme song I cannot get out of my head. I’ve known the music from this film for years from a Nicolai compilation CD but having the visuals finally linked to the sound is wonderful. Everything about this film says ‘We’re having a good time, we hope you are too’. Luckily I found Lucky’s antics to be completely captivating and I can heartily recommend the film to the curious Euro-Trash enthusiast. I can honestly say that I laughed for almost the entire running time and I can’t say that about most comedies of any vintage. I really wish a good DVD of this film would get a release. The bootleg I watched is a passable way to see this gem but it deserves much more exposure.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Opening credits for LUCKY, THE INSCRUTABLE (1967)



I cannot get Bruno Nicolai's score for this film out of my head.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Where are The Herculoids?


Thinking about old Saturday morning cartoons lately has me pining to see some more of the joys of my youth. As a youngster I caught up with The Herculoids in reruns but I had no way of knowing that they had been originally produced in the late 1960s. I also didn't care! The show was just far too damned cool for a super-hero and monster besotted kid to be anything other than 'must see TV'. Of course, I'm more than aware as an adult how limited the stories were but it still hits that nostalgic sweet spot for me even as I agree with almost everything written in this amusing posting. Here's the variant opening credit sequence--


And just because it makes me smile here's an entire adventure -- in Portuguese!



Now- when does the entire run come out on DVD? I'm waiting.....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Scooby Doo's Descendants

I've been watching a few cartoons from the days of my youth (i.e. the 1970s) and having a pretty good time doing so. But I've noticed that a lot of the Hanna-Barbera shows I missed as a kid are nothing but transparent variations on the original Scooby Doo show. Not that its a terrible thing to discover but it does kind of make digging into these old shows a little less fun. I can't help but imagine how much more I might like a particular episode if it was Shaggy and the gang running away from the disguised bad guys.





And, now that I think of it, my beloved Speed Buggy is a non-scary variation on the same concept. Damn!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Poster art for THE TIME TRAVELERS (1964)


This is a pretty bad movie overall but I still kind of like it. It's juvenile, silly, poorly thought out, tonally off and fairly dumb but it has a kind of Saturday afternoon matinee charm that hits a strange sweet spot for me. I know I shouldn't like it but I do. Have you ever had a film strike you in that way?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Poster art for THE UNCANNY (1977)


I have still never seen this Peter Cushing film but I have to say- this poster art makes me want to track it down ASAP. Wow!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Naschy short film - THE TELL-TALE HEART (2003)

This is a great 10 minute film starring Paul Naschy. It is (of course) based on Edgar Allan Poe's classic short story of guilt induced madness. The film changes the narrative quite a lot eliminating the original tale's final mad emotional explosion and substituting a certain dark element I find typical of great Euro-horror. Naschy is fantastic as is his co-star Eladio Sánchez and this is well worth your time. If you want to own a copy its one of three short Poe adaptations on the DVD below.



Saturday, November 13, 2010

Poster art for WEREWOLF SHADOW (1971)

Even after finishing NaschyCast #10 I still had VAMPIRE WOMEN VS THE WEREWOLF on my mind so I went looking for artwork. The usual fantastic poster for it under its original title above is great, of course, but look at this one. Wow! Yet another piece I've never seen before and it is gorgeous! That's the Italian poster art and it is a truly unique take on the film.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Poster art for SWITCHBLADE SISTERS (1975)


Until yesterday I had never seen this artwork for Jack Hill's fantastic exploitation film also known as THE JEZEBELS and now it might be my favorite of all the possible options. It's not at all representative of the movie but.......

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fuzzy westerns on my mind

Usually at some point after Halloween I shift none too gracefully into watching genres other than horror as my staple viewing diet. I always come back to the horror but I also love westerns so typically I start exploring the unwatched pile for the odder horse operas. Tonight I started a spaghetti western and during a break a bit of serendipity occurred as I was alerted via email to a slew of new books about film that are coming out soon. The one that caught my eye was FUZZY ST. JOHN: OUR FUZZY Q. JONES by western expert Bobby J. Copeland.

I've never been a very big fan of the various B-western sidekick character actors but Fuzzy has stuck in my memory for years. I first had him and his amusing onscreen persona brought to my attention by my old buddy Jack Daves as he worked his way studiously through every low budget western he could find. I swear that for the last ten years of his life Jack saw more westerns than any one human really should. Lost to the mists of time are a series of hysterical emails he sent out regarding the various merits of famous western sidekicks and Fuzzy saw one he lauded. The man starred in Hopalong Cassidy movies, Lash LaRue movies, The Lone Rider movies- Hell! I guess he appeared in nearly every series western being made from the silent era to the 1950s.

Looking over the other titles offered by Empire Publishing I see several books of interest and not all of them focus on the old west onscreen. I might have to read this book about Fuzzy one day just to get a better idea of what it was like to work on these types of movies for so long. And I think it'll be something Jack would have loved to read. I know what I would have been giving him for Christmas 2010 if he were still around.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Return to STARCRASH

I've finally started reading the recently published collection 'Curved Space' and am really enjoying this printed page return to the universe of Stella Star. Fun stuff!



Sunday, November 07, 2010

Elena Verdugo - loves Wolf Man/owns pistol- do the math


I couldn't let Halloween season go without a visit to the HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944). Yes. I know Halloween was over a week ago but I was feeling I needed a little more Universal monster goodness and the two HOUSE OF movies always get the job done for me. This time through I noticed some things I'd never noticed before like the electric cord dangling from the lantern J. Carrol Naish carries as he and Karloff escape from prison. And after being clued in by a buddy I also spotted the mustache fail on John Carradine's Dracula right before his sunlight demise. But the thing I was most captivated by this time out was the lovely Elena Verdugo as Ilonka the gypsy girl. I don't know why I'd never fixated on her until now but I must say she was a truly beautiful lady and one worthy of further attention. Does this mean I'll suffer through another viewing of the Inner Sanctum disaster THE FROZEN GHOST to see her again in black & white glory? Probably. I'm a sucker for a pretty face.





Thursday, November 04, 2010

NaschyCast #10 - WEREWOLF SHADOW (1971)


After putting it off for months we finally take aim at one of Naschy’s best known and most beloved Waldemar Daninsky tales. Mostly seen in the US on television under its alternate title of THE WEREWOLF VS THE VAMPIRE WOMEN it’s a film near and dear to fans for its sexy bloodsuckers as well as its monster battle. It sports the usual mix of romantic angst, tragic fate, and gory throat ripping violence all whipped together into a heady, unique creature feature that could only have been produced in the swinging 70s. While far from perfect it has more than enough horror entertainment value to keep most anyone staring at the screen – often in amazement and sometimes in complete confusion. But as with most Naschy scripts the story does eventually make a sort of mad sense and this scary suspense tale finds multiple ways to satisfy its audience.

This was the first time Naschy worked with director Leon Klimovsky and his skill makes WEREWOLF SHADOW a truly mesmerizing visual effort. He’s able to craft a fantastic dreamlike/nightmarish feel to many sequences that give the entire film a haunting quality. The cast is strong and the lovely ladies are very good but I’m really surprised old Waldemar only manages to sleep with one of them. It’s like he wasn’t even trying! The same can’t be said of his acting performance, though. Naschy is very good throughout with his ability to emote getting better and better as he learned his craft on the job. His earnest work here points toward the great work he would do over the course of the next few years.

Among the astonishing things we learn in this episode is that there is more than one way to kill a vampire; that neck meat is the tastiest kind of meat; that mini-skirted women roam the French woodlands at all hours of the night; that full moons don’t necessarily come in threes and for some reason Satan fears werewolves.


As usual the show is available from iTunes and Podcast Alley as well as from this bright, shiny LINK. Please drop us a line at nashcycast@gmail.com and tell us how we're doing.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

What I Watched In October


A good month for horror films as is usually true of October. I regret only squeezing in one Hammer and one Universal creature feature. I also had big plans to make a run through a long list of Bela Lugosi films I've been itching to revisit but didn't get to any of them. Once again I got caught up in things I've never seen before instead of genre favorites I love. Not that I didn't rewatch anything all month. I was happy to see my beloved HALLOWEEN III again this year and increasingly impressive THE FOG proved as brilliant as it was unexpected when released in 1981. I think I've watched THE FOG once a year for a very long time.

Romero's SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD proved to be less good than his classic films but far from the disaster the majority of the horror press keeps whining about. Considering that every single Romero film since DAY OF THE DEAD in 1985 has been greeted as a piece of shit by these same dumb-asses I have no doubt that in ten years time they will be hailing this one as a classic. I swear I can pretty much write the standard reviews of whatever his next film might be right now. Morons!

On the other hand Dario Argento's latest film GIALLO is an unmitigated clusterfuck. I have no idea how he managed to blow this one so completely. While I think his output for the last decade has been very hit or miss this film is so bad I was simply stunned. The only thing I can recommend is the score but that is far from a reason to see this boring, slow waste of time. GIALLO is as bad as his PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and THE CARD PLAYER and buddy- it doesn't get much more inept than those two travesties.

SHEITAN (2006)- 3 (failed French horror effort)
I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943)- 9 (gets better every time I see it) (rewatch)
TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971) 8 (rewatch)
THE EMBALMER (1965)- 7 (Italian thriller that feels like a German krimi)
THE BLACK CAT (1989)- 6 (Luigi Cozzi’s unofficial sequel to SUSPIRIA isn’t great but is pretty darned good)
YOU WILL DIE AT MIDNIGHT (1986)- 6 (a.k.a. MIDNIGHT KILLER) (Lamberto Bava thriller)
WHAT MAKES SAMMY RUN? (1959)- 9 (excellent TV-movie adaptation)
RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE (2004) – 5 (rewatch) (not as bad as I remember but still the weakest of the series)
FORBIDDEN WORLD (1982)- 6 (good Corman trash)
THE TOOLBOX MURDERS (1978)- 3 (pretty bad but an interesting 70s time capsule)
FRIDAY THE 13TH VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN (1988)- 3 (rewatch) (possibly the worst of the series with a teleporting Jason and the stupidest ending imaginable)
THE DARK HALF (1993)- 9 (rewatch) (I remembered this being good but not this good!)
PHANTASM: OBLIVION (1998)- 5 (the weakest of the series but still interesting)
CASE 39 (2010)- 6 (pretty good ‘evil child’ tale)
THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010)- 8 (well done and fascinating)
TWICE DEAD (1988)- 4 (meh)
FRAGILE (2005) -7 (a great Spanish-made English language ghost story)
SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD (2010)- 6 (Romero is working at a lower level than I’d like but not bad)
THE KILLER INSIDE ME (2010)- 8 (dark noir done well)
THE BOOGENS (1981)- 6 (rewatch) (pretty good monster movie)
WARLOCK (1989)- 8 (rewatch) (great witch film)
NAIL GUN MASSACRE (1985)- 1 (unbearably awful)
WEREWOLF SHADOW (1970)- 7 (rewatch)
LEGION (2010)- 7 (supernatural apocalyptic action)
I SELL THE DEAD (2008)- 5 (period horror/comedy- the humor is obvious and flat but the cast is fun)
THE TERROR (1963)- 6 (rewatch) (Corman’s nonsensical bit of gothic fluff)
THE MUMMY’S CURSE (1944)- 6 (rewatch)
GIALLO (2009)- 2 (Argento shits the bed)
IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (1995)- 8 (rewatch)
NO MAN’S LAND: RISE OF THE REEKER (2008)- 5 (OK follow up to the OK first film)
THE FOG (1981)- 9 (rewatch)
THE SHADOW OF THE CAT (1961)- 6
FEAR NO EVIL (1969)- 6 (made for TV movie with a great cast and a good story)
TALOS: TALE OF THE MUMMY (1999)- 6 (rewatch) (better than I remembered)
THE DESCENT PART 2 (2009) – 6 (effective but redundant sequel)
BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1971)- 7 (rewatch)
HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982)- 8 (rewatch)
JASON X (2001)- 7 (rewatch)
PIG HUNT (2008)- 6 (not bad backwoods giant animal film but lacks a great ending)
THE EVICTORS (1979)- 6 (low budget Louisiana period terror tale)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

TROLL HUNTER (2010) trailer

I have no way to know if this will be a good film but I have no doubt that it will be a lot of fun. The DVD can't hit these shores soon enough!