Thursday, September 29, 2011
Recently NPR's editors conducted a a survey of readers to discover the 'best' Science Fiction/Fantasy novels of all time. After reviewing hundreds of nominations they tossed out the ones that didn't fit the survey's criteria and drew up a nicely contentious list. The 100 titles can be seen at this LINK and is pretty interesting and although I'd disagree with some of the choices it is a solid place to start for anyone curious about being well read in either genre. One could argue that they didn't seem to be too stringent about a few of their requirements - I'm pretty sure Matheson's 'I Am Legend' is a horror tale more than a SF story - but that's one of the things that makes things like this fun. Of course, my first instinct was to count how many on the list I had already read and I was disappointed to find it was only 49! Less than fifty percent? I guess it's time to finally read my copy of Scalzi's 'Old Man's War'.
If you're wanting to dive in but feel the need for some guidance the folks over at SF Signal have created the amusing flowchart below. Click to enlarge it and simply follow the path to reading pleasure.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Oh my goodness! Fall weather has arrived in Tennessee and for two Euro-Horror fanboys that can only mean one thing- its time to break out the Dracula adaptations and discuss! In our second Beyond Naschy show focused on Jess Franco we talk about his moderately successful version of Bram Stoker’s classic tale of terror, blood and Victorian manners. “No sex- we’re British!”
While the consensus on this film in fan circles seems to be mostly negative we find a number of laudable things onscreen even if we are unhappy with several odd elements. The fact that the three main stars are never even in the same room is a big problem but there are a number of fine qualities on view – and we don’t just mean the lovely faces of Maria Rohm and Soledad Miranda. As an attempt to mount a faithful adaptation of the novel, COUNT DRACULA deserves to be studied. It is certainly a fine chance to see Christopher Lee speechify haughtily as the Count digs his fangs into Dracula family history to justify his arrogance and natural right to do with lesser humans as he sees fit. Ah, the joys of a self-righteous aristocracy!
As you might expect, the conversation takes many digressions including various versions of the Dracula tale in film; our continuing obsession with actor’s facial hair; Troy’s lustful thoughts about Maria Rohm; my own lustful thoughts about Soledad Miranda; Jack Taylor’s emoting; Jess Franco’s Cockney accent; quality fangs and a number of other strange and wonderful subjects. Neither of us can remember the name of the author of The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein during the podcast- which is a shame as Theodore Roszak is a great writer and his brilliant novel Flicker should be read by any fan of genre fiction. I also can’t recall the name of director Gordon Hessler for some reason. For me to forget the name of the fellow responsible for THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD, THE OBLONG BOX, and SCREAM & SCREAM AGAIN is unforgivable! All this and we end the show with a lengthy discussion of our favorite Hammer films. See what you can get when you write in with a question!
Send any notes, queries, comments, complaints or praise to firstname.lastname@example.org or post same on the NaschyCast Facebook page. Thanks for listening!
NaschyCast 20.5 LINK
Friday, September 23, 2011
It is that time of year once again when I start to curl up and listen to old horror radio shows. Actually I listen to them throughout the year but as Fall approaches I feel the need to share them everyone else I know, so there! Here's a pretty good Inner Sanctum Mystery tale to get the season off to a fun start. It's called Death Across the Board and I think you'll like it- if you enjoy old radio shows anyway. Enjoy the sound of the creaking door on a dark, cool evening.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
As we read and responded to the letters in the most recent NaschyCast I mentioned that I had recorded a commentary track for a film at one time. The film in question is THE GIANT BEHEMOTH (1959) and I created this fan commentary back in 2008. I love the film and was underwhelmed (to say the least) by the track on the otherwise great DVD. I'm not sure how much crossover there really is between Naschy fans and fans of giant monster movies of the 1950s but just in case anyone is interested I'm re-posting the original info about the commentary here & now. This makes it much easier to find than trying to search through the labels at the bottom of each blog entry. Enjoy!
Last year I was thrilled to pick up a couple of the Warner Brothers three DVD sets of what they called 'Cult Camp Classics'. First on my list to grab was the one labeled Sci-Fi Thrillers because I'm just that kind of guy. In all honesty, the idea of being able to see QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE in its widescreen glory put a big smile on my face. But the real icing on the cake was the inclusion of commentary tracks for the each of the three movies. Genre writer and historian Tom Weaver handled the tracks for QUEEN and ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN but a couple of special effects masters did the track for THE GIANT BEHEMOTH.
But as I listened to this commentary I became angry. The two men clearly thought the film was beneath them and acted more like ADD teenagers than people interested in the qualities of the film they were watching. I found it insulting and switched it off after the fourth or fifth complaint from them about how nothing was happening but 'people standing around talking'. This level of cluelessness I expect from kids but not from supposed fans of the genre. So, I set out to correct that with my own commentary track.
I hope you will think I did a good job. This track has some faults – sloppiness, verbal stammering and stutters- but I hope I got across the information well enough to be enjoyed by fans.
I’d like to clearly acknowledge the sources for the information in the track.
-Two interviews conducted by Tom Weaver were most helpful- one with director Eugene Lourie and the other with leading man Gene Evans.
-Mark Berry’s fine book The Dinosaur Filmography was an invaluable resource.
-The wonderful article from SPFX magazine #26 by Paul Mandell was fantastic and helped me form up my own thoughts about the film.
-And last was Mark Berry’s great interview with Desmond Davis about his career.
I’ve tried to get my hands on a documentary about the life and career of composer Edwin Astley but that has proven harder than I thought. Produced in 2001 it’s never been released on video but I hope to catch up with it one day.
If you decide to listen to this track I hope you enjoy it and I would be glad to hear from you. I hope to eventually do more such commentaries and any feedback would be appreciated.
Oh- and one last thing. I must apologize for my most glaring verbal mistake. Near the very end of the track I seem to think the current year is 1978. I meant to say something else but obviously my mind and mouth were not linked at that moment. Of course, these films often make me feel like I’m 10 years old so maybe my slip was a Freudian one.
THE GIANT BEHEMOTH commentary
Friday, September 16, 2011
A couple of weeks ago I was finally able to see the fascinating silent movie THE HANDS OF ORLAC I now feel the urge to watch the brilliant remake MAD LOVE (1935) again. It really is a great movie and - in my humble opinion- an improvement on the original film.
With the weather slowly changing from summer to fall I'm starting to desire a return to the Universal monster movies and GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN is one of my favorites. It's fun to hear Joe Dante reminisce about seeing these films on TV as a kid. Those days are long past.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
This image boils down the lessons needed to deal with the classic monsters as discussed and put into practice in THE MONSTER SQUAD. I have a small copy of this folded up in my wallet just in case!
This cracks me up every time I look at it! It lays out the method and correct order of each of Jason Voorhees' murders movie by movie. Genius!
This info-graphic gives you a quick & easy way to identify which Caroline Munro movie you are watching. If you've missed the credits. Or are drinking too heavily. Or maybe you got fixated on her breasts and lost the plot for a minute.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
I should have known better than to watch this film. Everything I knew about it screamed ‘disaster’ but my curiosity once again did me in.
I have been a fan of the original 1980 HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP since I finally got to see it back the late 1980s. For years I had wanted to see it because it was one of a handful of movies that got talked about a lot at school when I was in middle school. Cable television and HBO had just crept into our backward part of rural Alabama and the kids lucky enough to live where the wires reached would occasionally get to see something they really shouldn’t have gotten to see. Many a kid my age told tales of catching late night showings of R rated movies with all the dirty parts left in! These were thrilling stories that often expanded in the telling but one film that stood out in repeated tales was HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP. The way it was described it had to be one of the most intense things imaginable. Heads got pulled off, arms ripped from bodies, dogs torn apart and most incredible of all – multiple young ladies were seen completely nude! All of this graphic, bloody violence coupled with full female nudity made the film legendary around seventh grade and a kind of Holy Grail for those of us unlucky enough to not get to see it. Damn, but I wanted to see this sucker!
You might expect that once I finally saw the film I was let down. Surely nothing could live up to the madness concocted by puberty struck male minds in full hormonal flower. But, believe it or not, the film turned out to be something I quite enjoyed. It’s not a great film and I would never claim classic status for it but it is a well crafted piece of exploitation monster sleaze and I still enjoy seeing it today. Notorious for its violence and nudity it’s just as infamous for its human raping monsters humping away to reproduce offspring like mad spawning fish. THAT was a surprise! I have to figure the kids in my homeroom class describing the film simply had no words to use to get these disturbing scenes across to the rest of us. We couldn’t understand sex much less ‘fish monster on human female’ sexual violence!
You can easily see why producer Roger Corman would think it would be a snap to remake this trashy gem in the 1990s. He had struck a deal to produce a few monster movies for the Showtime cable channel and this got tossed out there but, as you might expect, the budget is low and the results are bad. Sadly the things that make the original film fun to return to for repeat viewings are one of the many things missing from version 1996. The 1980 film had the feeling of being about a real place with real people that had lives that went on before and after we watched them. There was a sense of a small town community in which everyone knew each other that made the eventual monster trouble have a sharper edge as old grudges and slights are brought to the surface in the tense moments. In the remake there is nothing believable about any of the characters and I couldn’t even tell you what most of them do for a living. In the 1980 film the characters were defined by their jobs and their attitudes grew out of what they considered important. In the remake characters exist only to create situations that drive the story forward. The original was filmed on a lot of real locations giving everything a lived in, comfortable feel but the remake is shot mostly on some of the cheapest, flimsiest sets I have ever seen. One look at a shack/home and I knew it was going to burn simply because you don’t build well if its not going to last past reel three.
I could go on and on but the film bored me and I fear boring you by writing about it. I suggest avoiding the 1996 version of HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP and seeking out the nasty 1980 film. It’s a mean-spirited bit of Corman produced monster mash and it can still entertain the sleaze hungry teenager in each of us. The 1996 film will just give you a headache.
Monday, September 12, 2011
This is an absolutely terrible film and put the final nail in the Fu Manchu series' coffin but I still get a sick kick out of it. The best way to watch it might be via Mystery Science Theater 3000 just so you have help making sense of the 'plot'.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
In this episode we follow Master Naschy into the world of Voodoo and check out the mad mystery born of crimes too hideous to explain in detail. Those used to the Romero style movie zombies will be surprised by these grave risen killers as they seek neither flesh nor brains to chew on and tend to only do what they are told. Rather well behaved for monsters, I guess. But that means that the thing to fear is the person creating the monsters and issuing the orders and that just might be our main man Paul Naschy- or it might be some other stocky guy running around London with wax effigies and jars of blood.
As we made clear in our comments at the end of the last episode we were not expecting VEGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES to be a ‘good’ Naschy experience. Some listeners took us to task for that negativity but my memories of the film from my one previous viewing were less than stellar. Both Troy and I were surprised to discover that this is actually a pretty good, if flawed, horror tale with lots to recommend it. This is another Leon Klimovsky directed film and it has all the pluses and minuses associated with his work. It’s a spooky movie filled with amazing things and creepy ideas sandwiched in between some terrible scenes and lathered in a score that only occasionally seems to be appropriate to what you’re watching. Listen in as we remark on the oddest things, such as one character’s resemblance to Dr. Phibes; the possible deal Klimovsky got on rubber masks; the completely ignored live leopard sitting on a table in one scene; the romantic life of Hindu gurus; and the fact that London police have very strange crime scene practices. Also, we introduce our new sister podcast and we both manage to give the show’s name incorrectly! It’s called the Hello Doomed Show and we highly recommend checking it out. Visit the hosts over at Doomed Moviethone and tell’em we sent you!
Remember you can give us your thoughts anytime at email@example.com and, like good southern gentlemen, we’re always glad to hear from you. Thanks for listening.
NaschyCast #20 LINK
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
August was a weird summer month filled with rewatches of old favorites and some new movies that I know I’ll be returning to in the future. Not quite in the ‘return to’ category is the willfully bizarre RUBBER. How do you make an absurdist tale about a sentient, killer car tire even stranger than it clearly has to be? Simple- you add in a mad commentary on the type of person that would seek out such entertainment and analyze the symbiotic relationship between those that make such films and those that enjoy them. The filmmakers get extra credit for stretching their argument(s) to the breaking point by challenging the viewer to be put off by the very oddness that attracted them in the first place.
Miike’s remake of the (unseen by me) 13 ASSASSINS was easily the most mind-blowing period action film I saw all month. A brilliant variation on Kurasawa’s SEVEN SAMURAI it is perfectly played, very well paced and incredibly exciting. When your film is 125 minutes long and the last 45 minutes is one long battle you really have to be able to bring tension, emotion and great characters together to keep your audience from getting tired of the action. Miike clearly understands how to construct his story and I can’t imagine a better film. The similarly themed British film IRONCLAD isn’t as great but it is still very good. It plays like a variation on THE MAGNICENT SEVEN with all the dilution of themes that referencing a remake might suggest. It is still an excellent film and one that refuses to shy away from the gray areas of hard decisions or the harsh violence of serious swordplay. I really got a kick out seeing the historic King John (played well by Paul Giamatti) dealing with his signing of the Magna Carte in the detestable way I would expect such a bastard would. The entire cast is excellent and I also liked the romantic subplot and that the siege story actually takes place over painful weeks. I hate it when screenwriters try to rush things into too short a timeframe.
K-20: THE FIEND WITH TWENTY FACES is an amazing amalgam of dozens of pulp characters, plotlines, ideas and designs shot through the mind of very clever Japanese filmmaker. A love letter to the era of Pulp Heroes and movie serials it tells a story of an alternate Earth that avoided World War Two and made great strides in super-science because of it. The downside was the rise of smart, subtle fascism that keeps most of the population in poverty while the upper classes live as kings. Into this dystopia steps master criminal K-20 carrying out his mad schemes as the police attempt to stop him. I can’t recommend this enough to its target audience but I will warn you that it drags a lot in the middle as we get to know our circus performer hero and his love interest.
RUBBER (2010)- 6 (not bad, pretty funny and sort of clever)
THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK (2004) – 9 (rewatch)
INSIDIOUS (2011)- 8 (rewatch)
THE FISHMEN AND THEIR QUEEN (1995)- 1 (so bad I could hardly believe it exists)
COWBOYS & ALIENS (2011)- 9 (only very minor quibbles)
FIREBIRD 2015 A.D. (1981)- 4 (poorly directed Canadian dystopian tale enlivened by Darren McGavin)
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (2010)- 5 (the remake is about as good as the original)
SPINE TINGLER! THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY (2007)- 8
THE CAT O’NINE TAILS (1971)- 9 (rewatch)
BLOW OUT (1981)- 8 (rewatch)
HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB (1973)- 8 (rewatch)
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011)- 7 (good if a little facile and too many plot holes)
A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD (1973)- 8 (rewatch)
13 ASSASSINS (2010)- 10 (Miike hits it out of the park)
ALL STAR SUPERMAN (2001)- 7 (good animated adaptation)
THE ARRIVAL (1996)- 7 (rewatch)
AMUCK! (1972)- 7 (nice, sleazy mystery- Barbara Bouchet is beyond gorgeous!)
BARON BLOOD (1972)- 8 (rewatch)
THE WARD (2011)- 4 (Carpenter’s dull return to features)
THE LINCOLN LAWYER (2011)- 8 (well done courtroom thriller)
K-20: THE FIEND WITH TWENTY FACES (2008)- 7 (insane Japanese combination of several pulp characters and influences)
IRONCLAD (2011)- 8 (violent period action film)
CONAN THE BARBARIAN (2011)- 6
THE DEVIL’S WEDDING NIGHT (1973)- 3 (bad on many levels but it has Rosabla Neri!)
VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES (1973)- 7 (rewatch)
Monday, September 05, 2011
We'll be covering this astounding Naschy film next month so I thought it would be good to give you a taste of its charms. Sadly this trailer is in Spanish but I think you can get the idea.
Friday, September 02, 2011
Animator Roger D. Evans is obviously a huge fan of the classic Jonny Quest TV show. His remake of the show's opening credit sequence is brilliant and worth watching more than once. Or even twice. Check it out.