Thursday, October 31, 2013

October the 31st viewing suggestions.....





You could do much worse than these three! 


Happy Halloween!







Have a safe and Happy one, folks! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Elvira's House of Mystery?








Until recently I had no idea this was even a thing! The original run of House of Mystery was as a horror anthology and after several years in the mid-1960's with super hero tales it went back to that format.  It had  a good run which ended in 1983 but then in 1986 DC comics published a new series - Elvira's House of Mystery. It sadly only lasted 11 issues plus an oversized special. From what i'm told this series was sort of a follow up used to publish stories that hadn't been used in the original series, with the added selling point of  famed horror movie hostess Elvira taking over from Cain and adding her two cents worth to the proceedings. I've found two issues in bargain bin boxes and with a little luck I'll grab the rest in the same manner! The hunt is on. 
 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Beyond Naschy #9 - RETURN OF THE BLIND DEAD (1973)


Has it really been two years since we covered TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD? That is far too long! It is with great pleasure that we return to the land of the living dead Templar Knights! For the second of Ossorio's fantastic Blind Dead films we examine the two different cuts available on Region 1 DVD and then ponder the deeper social commentary buried within the story. Really? Only for a little while. We mostly chat about the casting choices, the relative beauty of the female actors, the story's odd love rectangle, the mechanics of the creeping living dead and the number of homages to (or steals from) other movies that Ossorio weaves into the story. I wish we had spent more time on how difficult it is to destroy these walking corpses but some things get lost in the stumble/shuffle.

Of course, this being the NaschyCast the show starts with some unrelated discussion of several monster related topics. I wax enthusiastic about Universal Horror novels and we discuss the joys of Shaun Hutson's horror epic 'Slugs', which leads us to the question of why we have yet to cover any examples of the cinema of Spain's Juan Piquer Simon. He certainly fits our criteria as he is Spanish and has directed plenty of Horror, so maybe a show on PIECES is in our future. That one won't be for the faint of heart! We also have an impromptu discussion of Lucio Fulci's tetralogy of gore films and - just for fun - rank them from best to worst. In the mailbag section we commiserate with a listener fresh from a viewing of FURY OF THE WOLFMAN and talk briefly about several worthy Jess Franco titles. How long before we just dive headlong into Uncle Jess' catalog and never look back?


We can be contacted at naschycast@gmail.com and the show can be downloaded at the link below, on the right side of the blog page or subscribed to in the iTunes store. Let us know what you think and if you want your comments to be a part of the podcast. Thanks for listening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Monday, October 28, 2013

THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US (1956)


The general critical consensus is that these films declined in quality with each sequel, marking THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US the worst of the lot. While neither follow-up goes in the direction I'd have liked, at least the third film has a very strong premise at its core. Dr. William Barton (Jeff Morrow) assembles a group of experts to find and capture the Gill Man, still believed to be loose in the Florida Everglades. This team includes levelheaded Dr. Thomas Morgan (Rex Reason) and hotheaded muscle Jed Grant (Gregg Palmer). All seems fine until the doctor's reason for wanting the creature is revealed to be a half-baked idea about using his ability to breathe underwater for space travel! Suddenly we're in mad scientist territory and I'm thrilled! Of course, along for the hunt and serving as bait is Barton's trouble-making trophy wife Marcia (Leigh Snowden), adding just the right touch of beauty to offset these beasts. They track our web-footed buddy using some mildly ridiculous science fictional sonar equipment and corner him in a small lagoon. They render the Gill Man unconscious but not before the poor fellow gets 3rd degree burns over most of his body. In short order the creature's outer layer of skin and gills are peeled away to reveal a more human-like epidermis; a pair of vestigial lungs have started to operate. Dr. Barton takes this as proof of his crackpot ideas even as Dr. Morgan explains that this is not evolution in action. Unfortunately this debate never goes much further as Barton's baseless, paranoid jealousy of his wife rears up to bring a violent end to the tale. 

A more focused — if stranger — sequel than Revenge, I find Creature Walks Among Us to be a bit better and a lot more interesting. The story goes in a new direction that may seem just as crazed as Barton's theories but it adds some fascinating ideas to the mix. The first two films had already posed the question of just how near to human this beast is on the evolutionary ladder and now the third offers some answers. The heart of each of these movies is the tragedy of the poor Creature's situation and this film brings down the curtain in a very sad final moment, giving us one of the most haunting images from any monster movie. This poignant moment is an almost perfect heartrending ending to this beauty and the beast tale. Drawn to a vision of loveliness he is destroyed by those who don't understand him and in the end he can't even hope to return home.

Technically the film is on par with the first two getting away with using a few alternate shots of the underwater creature from the first movie. Direction is good and sometimes quite clever, the cast is once again strong and the monster suits are just as well done as before. The new look the Gill Man has in the latter half of the film is nicely done giving the impression that his step up from water to land animal is difficult and uncomfortable. His labored breathing reminded me of the first breaths of a newborn shocked into awareness of a cold, unforgiving world. Maybe it's taking the analogy too far, but perhaps the Gill Man trilogy can be seen as the story of the Creature's birth from the womb of the Black Lagoon to his first steps into Man's harsh domain.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Random Halloween Images


















All of these things and many others are on my mind this October! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (1955)

Picking up a year after the first film, REVENGE OF THE CREATURE has a couple of stalwart scientist-types return to the Black Lagoon to capture the monster. Using dynamite charges (which seems a little over the top!) to subdue him, they transport the amphibian back to Florida and set him up in Ocean Harbor for scientific study and public viewing. Ichthyologist Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson) and fellow scientist Clete (Really? Clete?) Ferguson (John Agar) begin trying to both communicate with the Gill Man and romance each other. Their romance is a bit more successful... probably because Agar doesn't poke Nelson with an electrified prod every ten minutes as he does the Creature. Finally the poor aquatic beastie manages to break free, kill a few folks and run off into the open water with gunmen in hot pursuit. Once again he has his sights set on a female — this time it's Ms. Nelson he goes in search of, putting her new fiancĂ© Agar on the offensive!

Definitely a couple of notches down from CFTBL, Revenge is still good and certainly not worthy of the turkey carving given it by Mystery Science Theater 3000. The main reason for the drop in quality is unavoidable, as the first film eliminated the mystery of the Creature. At least they acknowledge this by getting him onscreen quickly and moving the story to the next logical step. However, by taking the Gill Man out of the lagoon a big part of the creepy thrill of the first film is lost. The Creature just isn't as scary or impressive lurking in a swimming pool as he was in a shadowy grotto. Another reason for the lesser stature of Revenge is that too much time is spent on the romance subplot. This is a structural carry over from the previous film; in that film it seemed unobtrusive while here it simply gets in the way. The romance story element could have been great if it had been used to emphasis the sadly solitary nature of the Gill Man but this idea is only given lip service and instead we're treated to him once again becoming infatuated with a human female. Plus the two lovers are given the movie's most stilted dialog, making their romantic scenes pretty silly at times. Still, this is a fun, well-paced monster film and a pretty good sequel to a classic. If only they had decided to include a Gill Woman...


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

THE MUMMY (1932) Reincarnation Deleted Scenes Slideshow

Just when you think there is nothing new under the sun! I was told about this fantastic bit of fan recreation by the person responsible for this video. The amazing Shiksa took untold hours of free time to pull together all the available images from the famous deleted sequences of the classic Universal horror film THE MUMMY in an attempt to show how these scenes might have played. I love this and am eternally grateful that such care and hard work is put into something so dear to my monster loving heart. If you know this film you owe it to yourself to check this out.



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Phantom Stranger comic covers








As much as I like the supernatural characters of the DC universe I have to admit that The Phantom Stranger is one that I know very little about. I recently picked up a used copy of the first Showcase collection of his appearances out of curiosity so I think I might have to delve into his history sooner rather than later. Judging from the artwork I'm in for some entertaining horror stories. 


Monday, October 21, 2013

CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954)

CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON represents the last burst of cinematic monster making that Universal studios would ever attempt. It's not that they stopped making monster movies but Creature marked the final attempt to create a monster in the fashion of the Wolf Man or the Frankenstein Monster. Unlike so many of the features to come in the later part of the decade this was no giant rampaging bug or homicidal maniac but a beast with emotions who earns the audience's sympathy. Coming almost a decade after the Golden Age cycle of classics fizzled out during the war years, the Gill Man roared onto screens to take his place among the greats. While he will always be grouped with the other classic Universal monsters his true antecedent is that misunderstood simian, King Kong. Indeed, producer William Alland fashioned his film as an aquatic remake of King Kong and there are few better templates to use. Even if it's not as critically well regarded as Kong, Alland and his collaborators created one of the best monster movies of all time, one that 50 years later is still alive and swimming.


The story is a classic- In the heart of the Amazon rain forest paleontologist Dr. Maia (Antonio Moreno) discovers a very unusual fossil. It appears to be a five fingered hand but with webbed fingers and scales. Gathering a team of scientists comprised of Dr. David Reed (Richard Carlson), Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams), Dr. Mark Williams (Richard Denning), and Dr. Edwin Thompson (Whit Bissell), Maia travels deeper up the Amazon until the fabled Black Lagoon is reached. Here, instead of more fossils, the team amazingly finds a living example of the claw-like hand in the person of a 7-foot tall bipedal amphibian. Easily the find of the century and seemingly the only creature of his type remaining on Earth, the group disagrees sharply about what to do. Williams hopes to capture the beast and bring him to civilization for study and profit while Reed wants to leave the beast alone. Unfortunately Reed isn't in charge, so they begin trying to subdue the Gill Man using poison, nets and cages — but the Creature has his eyes on the very pretty Miss Lawrence.


A great movie from beginning to end, there is so much to praise you could start nearly anywhere... First, the Creature's design is brilliant, never looking like a monster suit and beautifully detailed both in and out of the water. Only on many repeat viewings of the film can you tell there are slight differences between the monster's design on land and underwater. This reflects the two different men playing the Gill Man — Ben Chapman dry and Ricou Browning wet. Both men do a good job making us first fear and then care for the beast and the wonderful Creature costumes look perfect from every angle. Of course, the rest of he cast is good as well, with Carlson and Denning making a strong team as well as fierce rivals for Julie Adams' attentions. Ms. Adams is certainly worth fighting over and she's a fine presence in the film as well, doing more than just serving as a damsel in distress. Director Jack Arnold (TARANTULA, THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN) shows his skill with storytelling and suspense while being immeasurably helped by the fantastic underwater photography work. Critics often overlook Arnold but his credits clearly mark him as one of the greats of the sci-fi/horror genre. He directed many good films after this one but I still think his visit to the Black Lagoon is his best work. If nothing else you can always count on his genre films to be tense and logical which is saying something for 1950s science fiction.