Sunday, April 29, 2012

Jess Franco Poster Art - part 14

As I have discussed elsewhere, I'm not much of a fan of this much lauded Franco film but I admire many things about it- including this poster.

Friday, April 27, 2012

DIRIGIBLE (1931)

Because of author Stephen Sullivan’s urging I had the DVR capture a film off Turner Classic Movies last month that I had initially decided to ignore. You’d think I would have been more interested given that the film was made in the 1930s and involved airships but the description of the plot somehow turned me away. It was listed as a tale about an attempt to reach the South Pole by Dirigible and while that might entice me if I was scanning what was showing on a particular night in front of the tube, when looking downrange I just gave it a pass. But after Mr. Sullivan brought it up on the B-Movie Cast as a movie of interest by way of mentioning it being made by a director who went on to bigger and better known things I became curious. I did a little research, discovered it was made by Frank Capra and was suddenly much more interested in seeing it. I’m not the world’s biggest Capra film fan but I do enjoy his work and the idea of him making a movie of this type piqued my curiosity. Boy, am I grateful that I was convinced to check this sucker out!

DIRIGIBLE (1931) is a fantastic film! It has several good things going for it, any one of which would have been enough to make it worth watching. First, it has the luminous Fay Wray playing the lead (actually, only) female character. Miss Wray will always be known primarily as one of the stars of the great KING KONG (1933) but she was in quite a number of very good movies in this era and she could always be counted on to turn in a fine performance. It doesn’t hurt that she was one of the most beautiful screen presences of her time. Of course, Capra shoots her close-ups in a slight soft focus to make her even more gorgeous but I think she looks best in the shots with other actors in which you can see the details of her stunning face. She is an always welcome sight in any film and her performance as the neglected wife of a daredevil pilot here is good and very convincing.

Another fine element is the great combination of real footage of dirigibles and acrobatic planes with very, very good special effects. It was usually clear for my modern eyes to discern the FX shots versus the real ones but the combining of them was nearly seamless. The scenes of flight actions are both fascinating and at times exciting. I’m almost as intrigued by old propeller powered airplanes as I am by lighter than air craft so any chance to see footage of these great vessels doing their thing can keep me glued to the screen. In this film the scenes are well integrated and they knew enough to occasionally speed up the footage to keep the rather stately pace of a dirigible docking maneuver from being deadly dull stuff. This is expertly done and adds immeasurably to my enjoyment of the film. I just love watching these giant sky ships do their thing!

The one element that might be considered a hurdle for a modern viewer watching this film is the rather corny storyline involving the ambitious pilot husband and his blindness to what his career is doing to his long suffering wife. It’s a story told a thousand times before 1931 and just as many times since (even if has fallen out of favor in the movies) but I found even this familiar plotline enjoyable as it is played out with so much energy. The reason is Fay Wray as you might expect, because she is so moving in her emotional anguish as she tries desperately to communicate her feelings and fears to a man unaware of what his choices are doing to his beloved. It helps that Ralph Graves is an appealing performer as well even if he only really shines as the film reaches its dark third act. It’s this part of the film that put it in the ‘fantastic’ category for me as Graves and his crew are forced to crash land in the Antarctic. Their fight for survival is depicted as quite harsh and it’s in this segment that the movie’s Pre-Code pedigree shows. The nastiness of the hard choices that the increasingly haggard men have to make had me flinching away from the screen on a couple of occasions. It is some pretty strong stuff.

I heartily recommend this film to anyone interested in Hollywood cinema of the 1930s. It’s very good on many levels and might well surprise fans of Frank Capra expecting a lighter, more family friendly kind of tale.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

HALLOWEEN 3 coming to Blu-Ray?


I read a rumor today that my beloved HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982) will be released on Blu-Ray disc this Fall by Shout! Factory! I can only hope this is true. Of course, the fact that this rumor was reported at the same time that it was stated that the same company would be releasing a Special Edition of HALLOWEEN 2 (1981) on Blu as well casts doubt on the whole thing. I mean- I would love a good, packed to the gills hi-def edition of HALLOWEEN 2 but Universal just released that film to Blu-Ray last year so I can't imagine them undercutting their own product with a sub-license to let another company put out a (potentially) better version. I can dream of a Blu-Ray of H2 that includes the entire TV version of the film as an extra as well as interviews with the cast & crew but I just don't see that coming down the pike this soon after Universal screwed the pooch by simply adding TERROR IN THE AISLES to their disc.

Still- a Blu-Ray of HALLOWEEN III would be great.






Monday, April 23, 2012

NaschyCast #26.5 - Beyond Naschy - CUT THROATS NINE (1972)


In covering our first Western for the podcast we find ourselves going overboard discussing the genre and the reasons the Spaghetti flavor came into being. As big fans of the genre we are thrilled to talk about what we love about Oaters and the appeal of the darker kinds of tales of which the Euro-westerns were a part but..... we babble on for a long time before we even get to talking about CUT THROATS NINE! Never fear though- once we dig into the particular film under our knife we dissect that sucker good! Everything gets a turn on the table from the bleak, snowy setting; the use of certain colors; the effective use of music; the nastiness of the characters; and, of course, this film's reputation as one of the most violent westerns ever made.

We truly strived to talk about this fantastic but dark film in fairly general terms but finally decided to delve into spoiler territory past a certain point. We counsel listeners who want to avoid having the actions and events of the last half of the movie ruined to skip ahead so you have been warned! We start talking spoilers at the one hour and thirty-four minute mark and stop talking about them at around two hours and eight minutes into the show. Please be careful because this is a movie worthy of being seen cold- so to speak.

Once again the Mail-Bag section is great with our regular correspondent Mark bringing up many fine points and a new writer giving us some info on some questions we asked back in the EXORCISM podcast. Glad to know people are still discovering the show! Don't take it amiss that Troy and I go into a bizarre discussion of Southern accents in movies or that I show my fanboy love for Spanish filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia. That's just part of hanging out with us lunatics. If you'd like to add your voice to the show please write us at naschycast@gmail.com or contact us over on the NaschyCast Facebook page. OH! And if you'd like more information about the documentary I mention in the show that focuses on Jose Larraz please read my brief review about ON VAMPYRES AND OTHER SYMPTOMS below.

NaschyCast #26.5 LINK

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Many Names of Reb Brown!

I still love Mystery Science Theater 3000 and this is one of the funniest minutes you can possibly experience. Even the fact that the creator of this video misspelled Brown's name is funny.




Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ms. Marvel - Super Hero


I know that will seem like a strange post for this blog but.....I make the rules here, so there!

I love to prowl through the bargain bins at comic shops in search of deals on older comics that I might have missed in my checkered history of comic buying. The 25 and 50 cent boxes hold many hours of cheap delights and often I will find whole runs of a particular series that I have been curious about. Last summer I found issues #4 through #10 of the original MS. MARVEL comic book from the late 1970s. I only got around to reading these books last month and I really enjoyed them. It was a blast not just to wallow in very cool art by Jim Mooney and the very 70s-ishness of the storyline but also to watch writer Chris Claremont trying to get a handle on how to write the character of Carol Danvers. The struggle was a complex one involving how to resolve the odd problem of having two separate people in the same body - for no good reason. Its obvious that this dual personality was an unnecessary complication for the character to have to deal with and made getting her on a straight story path difficult at best. This was a mess inherited from the previous writers that should have been resolved with Danvers simply having a secret identity but getting to that point was still in progress when my streak of issues ran out. Claremont was getting some of the smaller problems in line in the seven issues I have, including shifting some of Danver's Kree derived powers from her costume to her actual body so he was moving toward the eventual integration so clearly needed. I'm hoping to find more cheap copies of the rest of the run one day and see just how far things got before the series was cancelled. Maybe I'll just pick up the Marvel Essential volume an call it a win.


And as an aside- Ms. Marvel was easily one of the sexiest comic book characters of the Bronze Age! She was always drawn as a curvaceous goddess and her skimpy outfit was more distracting than even the breast-flashing costume of DC's Power Girl. I was very unhappy when they quietly altered her look with issue number #9 to eliminate the view of her bare midriff. A little bit of my heart still aches that she no longer shows her navel to the world. Its like the TV network hiding Barbara Eden's lovely stomach from the American public all over again.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Barbara Steele - Gothic Horror Actress



If you are unaware of Miss Steele and her body of work in the genre this Clive Barker hosted TV documentary will give some insight. The biggest plus is the lady's own words about her roles.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

What I Read in March



ORIGIN by J. A. Konrath (great modern pulp SF/horror)
The Turtle Boy by Kealan Patrick Burke
FIRESTORM The Nuclear Man by Gerry Conway, Al Milgrim, George Perez
BAR-20 DAYS by Clarence Edward Mulford



As I mentioned in my post about what I watched last month I was incredibly busy with work in March so I had very little reading time. That's not to say I wasn't reading at all but it takes a long time to finish a novel when you can only devote about twenty minutes a day to looking at it!

The Turtle Boy by Kealan Patrick Burke was a good short story I stumbled across in the Kindle bookshop. It’s a fine little Ray Bradbury-esque tale of a childhood tragedy with supernatural overtones that I found to be a worthy read for fans of that particular style of fiction. It is the first in a series of stories about the young boy protagonist Timmy Quinn and I hope to read more of Burke’s work in the future to follow his small town adventures.

The Firestorm comic trade paperback was a great purchase that allowed me to finally read the aborted sixth issue of the original Firestorm series from 1978. Even in simple black & white pencils it was very satisfying to see what the next, never before published tale was to be. This collection also has the run of eight page back-up stories later printed in the Flash's comic book too so all I need now is for DC to reprint the run of entire Fury of Firestorm seres. I only got to read a very few issues of that later series and I'm curious to see what happened to the character as time went on. I understand that at some point John Ostrander turned him into an elemental!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New World Pictures Poster Art








Roger Corman always knew how to get butts in seats. I'd have paid to see any one of these movies in a Grindhouse theater during their original releases. Hell! I still would today if given the opportunity!

Monday, April 09, 2012

ON VAMPYRES AND OTHER SYMPTOMS


Its not often that what at first looks like a documentary film turns out to be something I would call art. Artful? Maybe. But ‘art’? Beautiful, accomplished, effective, heartfelt or even touching are descriptors I would apply to many documentaries I have seen but how many can be said have stepped into the area of being not just informative on their chosen subject but are art in their own right? In my experience these types of docs are few and far between so when they come along it should be pointed out and lauded. ON VAMPYRES AND OTHER SYMPTOMS should be held up as a great example of a documentary that I think is actually art.

It seems that director Celia Novis had the opportunity to speak with and get to know director Jose Larraz in conjunction with his appearance at the 2009 Sitges Film Festival. While some filmmakers might have seen this as a chance to interview the legendary man by simply asking questions about his work or his feelings about what he accomplished Novis clearly had a better idea. She takes the approach of an artist. She follows Larraz on his trip to the Festival allowing us to see him in normal activities as we hear his own voice explain various points in his career. Then as we see his speech to the theater crowd to introduce a screening of his classic horror tale VAMPYRES we see his public personality. Larraz is a very funny speaker and his self-effacing way of talking about his films is incredibly endearing. He is as unapologetic about his use of eroticism as he is surprised by the warm reception his movies get in the 21st century. He is proud of his work but not insulted if someone doesn’t like it and it is this attitude I find to be a wonder. It makes his movies even more impressive to me because if such a group of dark, brooding horror tales can be made by such a humble man then surely there is hope for other filmmakers of his type to craft lasting contributions to the genre.


The standout element that Novis uses in ON VAMPYRES AND OTHER SYMPTOMS that makes this film more than just another look at a retired artist is a series of comic book style drawings used to relate the story of Larraz's meeting with Joseph Von Sternberg in the 1960s. Shown with simple pans across the comic panels to reveal the word balloons in secession they give real insight into the cinematic passions that drove the director to make movies. Intercutting this tale with the 2009 footage of his adventures at Sitges is what creates the artful nature of this film. The expert back and forth of the dreamlike narrative is a conscious attempt to evoke the same kind of style Larraz used in his movies to make the viewer drift along with his fantasies. That she even tried to use this difficult style is laudable and that she succeeds is astounding. The feeling of being caught up in the often nightmarish sensation of becoming slightly unstuck from reality is very well done here making Novis' film a worthy companion to its subject. If you have ever enjoyed one of Jose Larraz's films I can highly recommend seeking out this documentary. It is truly beautiful and managed to bring a tear to my eye on more than one occasion.


Sunday, April 08, 2012

Trailer for LOGAN'S RUN (1936)

I love these fan-made fake trailers for classic movies! This one is quite wonderful and clever. It makes me want to see the film all over again.

"Kane Richmond from The Lost City plays Logan 5. Claudia Dell plays Jessica 6 and Jerry Frank plays Francis 7, both from The Lost City. You can spot Crash Corrigan crucified on a tank and getting rammed through a castle gate (from Undersea Kingdom). Lee Van Atta is the little boy in sailor hat firing a raygun (Undersea Kingdom)."




Thursday, April 05, 2012

Barbara Bach - Fishmen's Darling





I have never thought of Barbara Bach as a great thespian but I have found her to be a pleasant addition to a number of films I love. She was a solid foil for Roger Moore's James Bond in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME; she was a good addition to Castellari's thrilling crime film STREET LAW; and she played a stuck-up prehistoric hot chick very well in CAVEMAN. But her crowning achievement as far as I'm concerned is the role she has in Sergio Martino's beautiful ISLAND OF THE FISHMEN a.k.a. SCREAMERS (1979). If you have never seen this odd Italian combination of Jules Verne style science fiction and rubber suited monster film I highly recommend checking it out.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

What I Watched In March



I only got out to the theater once in March and even that was a struggle to accomplish. I made the extra effort because I just had to see one of my favorite fictional heroes come to the big screen in all his glory. Yes! After 100 years ERB's first JOHN CARTER OF MARS tale was finally coming to the multiplex complete with a big cast, amazing special effects and a director in love with the material. Sadly, he may have been both too in love with the original stories and overly worried that newcomers needed an ass-ton of set-up to buy into the tale. The film stumbles out of the gate by setting up the Martian villain but showing him as easily defeated (and therefore of little real threat) before giving us two separate introductions to characters on Earth. A least the first 15 minutes of the film needed to be chopped off and discarded. All we needed was a brief intro of Carter that gives us his background and his mindset and then they just needed to have plopped his ass on Mars and let the fun begin. This should have been a great 'fish out of water with a sword and radium bullets' rip-roaring movie but unfortunately it limps along undercutting itself every time it starts to get some momentum. Its not as bad as some are saying but its far from as good as it should have been. I have intensely mixed emotions about JOHN CARTER and I hate to have to say that it was a disappointment - but it was. There are great things in there but its not a great film and I fear return visits will not improve my feelings.

The reason I had so little time for movie watching was that, like last year, I have spent the past two months working seven days a week. I do this during a certain time of year to knock out a few bills and put a little away in the Rainy Day Fund. I'm glad that I have the chance to better my financial state but it wears on my mind and I have very little time for friends, family and my hobbies. I have to prioritize and of my various hobbies I have pushed the podcast to the top of the 'to do' list so that we can always publish at least one each month. Getting that show out gives me a real sense of accomplishment and I hope that it continues to bring more folks to the Cult of Naschy as time passes. We have some amazing films to cover this year!

I rewatched a couple of controversial films from recent years that I loved but most people hated and found them to be just as good as I remembered. I'm willing to wait for enough time to pass for the eventual reevaluation of SUCKER PUNCH and SPEED RACER to happen so I can smile and simply say "I told you so".

I hope I have more time to watch movies in April!

MAROC 7 (1967) - 6 (pretty good spy thriller)
THE LIQUIDATOR (1965)- 8 (excellent British spy thriller adapted from a John Gardner novel - I liked the humorous edge)
SKY RIDERS (1976) - 6
QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL (2011)- 4
MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (1987)- 2 (rewatch)
THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD (1935)- 7 (fascinating combination of Universal horror and Charles Dickens)
SUCKER PUNCH (2011)- 8 (rewatch)
JOHN CARTER (2012) - 6 (it should have been better)
RABID (1977)- 5 (rewatch) (oddly flat second feature for the Cronenberg)
PETE KELLY'S BLUES (1955) - 7
THE MAGNETIC MONSTER (1953) - 2 (dull, padded SF story)
SPEED RACER (2008)- 8 (rewatch)

Monday, April 02, 2012

SPECIAL MISSION LADY CHAPLIN (1966) -trailer



I am feeling the urge to watch some spy cinema - Euro-Spy cinema. I saw this one a couple of years ago and liked it but my memory has faded. Might be time for a re-watch.