Friday, December 30, 2011

Viking Dead


When the winter months descend on me I tend to want to find ways to hibernate or at least stay close to comfortable, warm surroundings. My usual outgoing nature becomes less so and I turn more than normal to older entertainments or at least ones that key some relationship to the joys of my youth. A part of this manifests itself in what I am inclined to read in the colder seasons and, since it also touches on one of my favorite films since childhood, I like to read tales of Vikings. I've been fascinated with the dreaded Northern raiders because of several forgotten tales in kids books, THOR comics from Marvel and the incredibly fun Kirk Douglas film THE VIKINGS (1958). I love this movie and rarely go a year without watching at least part of it just to enjoy the amazing pulpy energy of it. If you've never seen the film I highly recommend you do. If you like adventure tales involving swords, villains and lusty men battling over women I suspect you'll get a thrill or ten.

So, to supplement my desire for Viking tales I am always on the lookout for new or previously unknown examples of this admittedly small genre of fiction. I've been told by several friends that I need to read the classic novel 'The Long Ships' but I have as yet to find a copy. I'll get to it one day but it hasn't happened yet. But earlier his year I learned of a book that made my eyes widen in shock. The title is 'Viking Dead' and I was told that it was a novel length tale pitting Viking raiders against zombies! Holy Crap! Its like author Toby Venables looked inside my head and wrote the story I had been begging to read for years. There was no way I wasn't going to get my hands on this and read it as soon as possible. Actually, it took months but I finally did find a used copy and have now read it in a blaze of horror geeky speed.


I am glad to report that the book is very good. As a matter of fact it is much better than I expected in that I expected it to be a fairly silly romp, poorly written and badly researched that sloppily threw together these two iconic character types in a jumbled tale to make a quick buck. Imagine my surprise to find with in the first few pages a competently told story that spent plenty of time establishing strong characters and relationships before the living dead problem enters the picture. This is the author's first novel and his background as a Cambridge lecturer shows in the attention to detail and careful, evocative descriptions. As much as I love the zombie element of the book I have to admit that even if it were left out of the story it would still be a damned entertaining novel. It would have a very different ending (hoo, boy- would it) but it would still be a great read.

I won't give anything away so that potential readers can come to it fresh but just let me say that I rate this very highly and consider it a great piece of modern pulp adventure fiction. Check it out!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD radio show

I'm not sure where this compelling audio version of the great 1968 zombie classic originated, but if you are a fan it is well worth checking out. It's well narrated and follows the screenplay very closely while still shrinking the tale down to about an hour. It has been posted in two parts and you can listen in below.






Tuesday, December 27, 2011

JUJIN YUKI OTOKO (1955)

I've been busy over the last few days doing the standard Christmas things but my return to the house the other night was the when I finally finished watching Ishiro Honda's follow up film to GOJIRA. I have been slow to catch up with the great monster filmmaker's lesser known projects and this film falls into that category for odd reasons. According to Wikipedia Japan, the movie was removed from general circulation due to the original screenplay describing the inhabitants of the remote village similar to the Ainu people as being deformed from generations of inbreeding. Knowing this going in I was on the lookout for a nasty attitude in the dialog or even in the way characters act when dealing with the natives but I found no such thing. The version I watched is a poor copy of the full length Japanese film as far as I know and the fan-made subtitles were clear and typo free but perhaps the unknown translator smoothed over the racially charged moments in the story. There were certainly no such references made in the film's dialogue as I saw it, but I would be happy to learn if the translation I have is not quite accurate.

Soon I'll have to watch the American version of the film HALF HUMAN to see what was left after the US scissors went to work. If this Wikipedia entry is true there is probably not much similarity between the two movies--

" The 1958 nationwide U.S. release of this film took sequences of Jujin Yuki Otoko and added extensive new scenes starring John Carradine and featuring Morris Ankrum and two lesser-known American actors, and the entire soundtrack was replaced with American stock music cues, sound-effects, and voice-over narration by Carradine replacing all dialogue in the Japanese scenes.
Toho's costume for the snowman's son was even imported by the new film's makers and used in a scene where the creature has supposedly just been autopsied by Ankrum and is seen lying on an operating table. Including the extensive American footage, this version runs only 63 minutes in total. "


That means that there is a 33 minute run time difference between the two movies and the American version has scenes shot just for the English language film. Holy crap! This should be interesting, especially as I think the Japanese version was a little too long.



Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

NaschyCast #23.5 - The Return of Tim Lucas!


Once again we have the pleasure of bringing you a conversation with Tim Lucas. This time both Troy and I are able to sit down and delve deeply into three specific Paul Naschy movies. Tim is always gracious with his time, energy and thoughts often seeing elements your humble podcasters miss or simply barrel past. Of course, good critical insight is what you might anticipate when you realize that he has been writing about film and the horror genre for nearly four decades. While we aimed to stay focused on certain films, as you might expect, the talk turned to various subjects and none of us are above the occasional salacious joke or silly statement. Luckily Tim doesn’t mind when we Tennessee fellows go off on bizarre tangents or disagree with his assessment. We’ll have to name Mr. Lucas a sadly displaced Southern Gentleman as well as a fine Naschy scholar.

We hope you enjoy this romp through the Naschy-verse with Tim. Besides the three films under direct discussion the inevitable talk about Jess Franco is present as well as THE LEGEND OF BLOOD CASTLE; QUATERMASS AND THE PIT; the directorial style of David Cronenberg and its relation to Naschy; the talent of various Spanish actresses; as well as cannibal films and animal cruelty in art. Its always fun to talk with Tim about anything but these periodic Naschy dialogs are a great way to shake up the way we see these films and offer a fantastic challenge to our preconceived notions. I have to say that he's got me thinking hard about my impressions of BEAST AND THE MAGIC SWORD.

Remember you can drop us a message at naschycast@gmail.com or join us over on the Facebook page to put in your two cents worth. We're thrilled by the great feedback from listeners and it makes for a much more lively show. Let us know what your favorite Naschy film is and give us suggestions on other Spanish Horror films you'd like us to cover. Have a great Holiday week and we'll see you again in 2012!

NaschyCast #23 LINK



Santa image drop!








Is there nothing that jolly old elf won't get up to doing?

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Calvin & Hobbes Christmas Tableau

I have hundreds of wonderful memories of the great Bill Watterson's classic comic strip and this brilliant animation gives us a new view of one of them. This is sure to put a smile on the face of even a Scrooge.




Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas comic books of my youth

I can't remember how I got my hands on these over-sized comic treasuries when I was a lad but I do remember reading them until they came apart. They were so much a part of those Christmas seasons I still get a warm rush of joy thinking about how exciting it was to curl up in bed and anticipate the 25th. Those were such simple, fun times.








Monday, December 12, 2011

A Krampus Carol!

According to glorious legend, the demonic Krampus accompanies Santa Claus during his Christmas night rounds, warning and punishing bad children and, in contrast to kindly Santa, doesn't give gifts to them. No, no! When the Krampus finds a naughty kid, he stuffs the child in its sack and carries the stupid runt away to its lair, presumably to be devoured for its Christmas dinner. Talk about 100 proof nightmare fuel! Be good or the Brainiac looking monster will eat you! The teaching of this darker side of the Christmas tale might have steered some kids onto the straight and narrow if I'm any judge of childish thinking. And I've had a lot of practice lately.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

NaschyCast #23 - THE MARSHALL OF HELL (1974)


Not even computer melt downs, cold weather or the time pressures of the holiday season can keep your Naschy podcasters from their appointed rounds! This month we bring you bright shiny joy in the form of a swashbuckling tale bent about the legend of the infamous Gille de Rais. Full of derring do, evil machinations, swordplay, romance and cruel torture MARSHALL OF HELL is a bit of a surprise for both of us. It turns out to be a reworking of the classic Errol Flynn film THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD with Naschy taking the villain role. By combining aspects of the King John and Sheriff of Nottingham characters he creates in his ersatz Gille a sneering bad guy but still endows him with a guilt complex big enough to overwhelm the biggest ego. Naschy also throws in a hunt for the Philosopher's Stone and enough Satanic worship to justify the alternate title of DEVIL'S POSSESSED. Back in the director's chair is Leon Klimovsky who's films have received almost as much coverage in our show as Paul himself. We make note of the standard Klimovsky touches and are impressed that this time out he somehow got a score that is far above average.

So join us as we dissect this very entertaining film with our usual digressions and asides. Where else are you going to hear two detail oriented movie fans talk about THE HOUSE BY THE EDGE OF THE LAKE; point out the Lady MacBeth character in a Robin Hood rip-off; debate the tinting problems in shooting day -for-night; discuss the politics of the torture dungeon and the complex connections between power and corruption. Well- we also lament that the film has no nudity so don't think that we get too intellectual! For those that want to skip the serious spoilers, we dive into the mailbag at about the 2:33 mark for some back & forth about snarkiness in the podcasting world and the merits of making fun of movies we love. Please drop us a line at naschycast@gmail.com or join us on the NaschyCast Facebook page. We love hearing from our fellow fans and getting ideas for future episodes. As always the show is available on iTunes or at the Link below. Thanks!

NaschyCast #23 LINK


Thursday, December 08, 2011

Monster Freeze'ems




20% real fruit juice? That's all I needed to know!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

What I Watched In November


I only got out to the theater twice in November but each tip was rewarding. APOLLO 18 turned out to be much better than the derisive bitching I had read online lead me to believe it would be. The reaction of the angry petulant fanboy seems the only critical response I’ve been able to find with the words ‘boring’ and ‘stupid’ being the main descriptors tossed around. I found the film to be neither of these things and indeed, to be tense, fascinating and creepy. I can understand disliking the ‘found footage’ types of movies that is coming back into vogue with the success of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise’s huge box office take but the form has never bothered me and this film really worked for me.

The second trip out was for Soderbergh’s intriguing CONTAGION. This is a film that will not play well for a casual film fan as it tells its story in an almost documentary style giving you information in a mostly detached way that requires the viewer to kind of lean into the tale being told. Character traits are communicated subtly, plot points are given without dramatic underlining and the horror of the situation grows slowly until the size of the danger seems overwhelming. This is a well acted, well scripted and deliberately paced adult story about a worldwide pandemic. Its straightforward way of relating its story is one of its most effective elements. This is the way it would probably happen and that is one of the scariest things about it.

Now that I’ve caught up with BREAKING POINT (1976) on DVD I’ve seen all of director Bob Clark’s work from his period for greatness. Say what you wish about the movies he produced from the 90s until his unfortunate death in 2007 but from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s Clark made some of the best entertainments available in multiplexes. That he worked in multiple genres during this fertile period and still maintained a high level of quality shows how good a filmmaker he was regardless of what you might think of individual movies. Anyone who can make DEATH DREAM, BLACK CHRISTMAS, MURDER BY DECREE, PORKY’S and A CHRISTMAS STORY clearly knows how to craft a screen story for the intended effect. BREAKING POINT demonstrated that Clark also could make an action/revenge film in the mold of DEATH WISH without succumbing to either outright copying or cloying simplification to more easily manipulate the audience. The hard choices are laid out as very difficult and even after the cathartic violence that climaxes the film there is still the lingering doubt that this action will end the threat that hangs over the main character’s family. Although the movie boasts a strong cast I was disappointed that Robert Culp’s cop character didn’t have more to do but that is my only real complaint.

APOLLO 18 (2011)- 7 (pretty clever ‘found footage film)
THE FRENCHMAN’S GARDEN (1978)- 8 (rewatch)
THE GAMMA PEOPLE (1956)- 6 (fun Cold War/mad scientist tale from John Gilling)
THE DEADLY INTRUDER (1985)- 2 (miserable, boring slasher)
HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982)- 8 (rewatch)
THE HELLFIRE CLUB (1961)- 8 (excellent swashbuckler)
THE DRAGON MURDER CASE (1934)- 6 (fun Philo Vance mystery)
VACATION OF TERROR (1989)- 4 (low budget Mexican POLTERGIEST rip-off)
SUCK (2009)- 7 (fun musical, vampire comedy)
THE NEST (1988)- 6 (rewatch)
PONTYPOOL (2008) - 9 (rewatch)
ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1933)- 9 (rewatch on Blu-Ray)
MINOTAUR (2005)- 4 (retelling of the legend falls flat)
THE HORDE (2009)- 7 (French zombie/crime film)
YOR, THE HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE (1983)- 7 (rewatch)
CONTAGION (2011)- 7 (well done, documentary style drama)
GIALLO IN VENICE (1979)- 5 (incredibly sleazy but dumb mystery)
MYSTERY HOUSE (1938)- 6 (fun, short, locked room mystery)
DEVIL (2010)- 6 (pretty good mystery/horror tale)
TROLLHUNTER (2010)- 8 (a blast!)
TEENAGE MONSTER (1958)- 4 (not good but what other juvenile delinquent, horror western is better?) (rewatch)
SLEEPWALKERS (1992)- 2 (rewatch) (so bad its almost MST3K good)
BREAKING POINT (1976)- 7 (Bob Clark makes a man against the mob film)
CHARLIE CHAN ON BROADWAY (1937)- 6

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Christmas Art - Pulp Magazine style!







For many the painted images that the Christmas season brings to mind are the classic Norman Rockwell covers for the Saturday Evening Post. For me it is the equally gorgeous covers of science fiction, detective, western and horror pulp magazines that I only discovered in my twenties. I wish there was a coffee table book collecting such images together for convenient gift giving. I know more than a few people that would love to have such a tome.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Lon Chaney Jr. -Monster's Holiday!

Sorry I've been AWOL for the past few days but a computer meltdown has curtailed my time online. I planned to do a lot more Creepmas style posting but better late than never. Here is one of my favorite Holiday songs and a fitting scary introduction to the season.