If so, I have to get mine out of storage!
Thursday, January 29, 2015
A commenter- OK - it was Brian of the late lamented website Eccentric Cinema - mentioned when I posted about this film that the score was one of, if not THE best thing about it. I think he may well be correct. Check it out in this well edited clip.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
I'm reading a collection of Marvel Team-Up issues and remembering why I loved the format when I was a kid. The issues above are ones I have fond memories of buying off the spinner racks and reading so many times I knew them backwards. I still get a thrill just looking at the covers!
Sunday, January 25, 2015
I was able to rewatch Antonio Margheriti's SNOW DEVILS the other night on the Warner Archive's DVD and it was wonderful to see it in as crisp and clear a version as I'm ever likely to find. I'm a big fan of all of Margheriti's 1960's science fiction movies even as I can explain clearly how some of them are terrible. Indeed, SNOW DEVILS is one of if not the worst of the Gamma One quartet of SF adventures he directed but I still get a kick out of it. Yes, its easily fifteen to twenty minutes too long and the story is silly & poorly thought out and the special effects are not great and the dubbing makes it even sillier...... wait. Where was I?
Oh- I like this film, despite its many flaws. The Gamma One films have a wonderful 1960's charm about them that defies criticism for me. They hit that grin-inducing groove of coolness that only the 1960's and 1970's imagined far future can tap into where brightly colored sets, macho he-men, strange costumes, curvaceous babes and sleek rocket ships combine perfectly. I never got to see these movies on a rainy weekend afternoon but I wish I had - and now I can.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Thursday, January 22, 2015
I was asked recently about 'underrated' spaghetti westerns and I struggled to come up with one. The reason is that the best of the genre are very well known and even the lesser known exceptional examples have penetrated into the broader knowledge base of western fans after thirty-five years of home video releases. After all - most aficionados of the horse operas are ravenous seekers that can't wait to watch the latest obscure discovery and with that being the norm, it becomes pretty difficult to locate a spaghetti western of real quality that isn't known to some degree - but it can be done. For instance....
10,000 DOLLARS FOR A MASSACRE (1967) turned up in a cheap four pack DVD set of spaghettis and its title prompted me to try it first. Bingo! This turns out to be a very well directed little western focused on a bounty killer (Gianni Garko) of dubious moral character (surprise!) and impressive skills (shock!). He has a helpful sidekick (Fidel Gonzáles) who earns a living as a portrait photographer when not wielding a rifle to aid his buddy. Adding greatly to the proceedings is Claudio Camaso as the main villain who is a familiar face from Bava's
Marghertti's spaghetti western VENGEANCE (1968). Camaso looks a lot like his
brother Gian Marie Volante who played the villain in Leone's FOR A FEW DOLLARS
MORE (1965) - so much so that I had to look him up to make sure he wasn't the
same actor. Also playing a bad guy is Fernando Sanchez who appeared in so many
movies there should a shrine built to his career! Trust me- if you've seen more
than about 20 Italian westerns you've seen
Fernando Sanchez. BAY
Oh- and did I mention that the main bounty hunter character is named Django? I am not kidding - this is one of the earliest of the unofficial sequels to the classic DJANGO (1966) and I was stunned to discover that it is not better known under an alternate title like DJANGO KILLS EVERYONE or DJANGO AND THE DUSTY TRAIL or even DJANGO ORDERS BRUNCH. ( I'd love to see a film called Django Orders Brunch.)
But this film does seem to qualify as an underrated entry in the genre. I was very impressed with it from beginning to end. It weaves its plot elements together very well; it has a couple of shocking turns; its villains are well drawn and somewhat sympathetic; the dark character of Django has a bit if an arc and the pace is good. If you have watched a lot of westerns you may have seen parts of this film in various forms over the years, but this movie is a step or two above average. I need to check out a few more of director Romolo Guerrieri's films - he's a stylish storyteller.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
As American fans of Paul Naschy we on this side of the Atlantic often feel left out of the loop. At least a couple of times a year some cool new Naschy product - book, DVD, museum display, etc. - is made available in Europe and we have to go begging. Or, more accurately, we have to import these things at exorbitant prices and hope they are English language friendly!
This was how I felt about the fantastic work of Javier Trujillo when, a few years ago, I first saw his amazing adaptations of a couple of Paul Naschy films. "Gimme, gimme" was quickly followed by "Crap! They're only in Spanish!" Well now that it no longer true! As of just this week Trujillo's incredible graphic novel edition of Naschy's 1983 film PANIC BEATS has been made available in America in a newly translated English version! How cool! This new comes to us from fellow podcaster (Horror Rises From Spain), webmistress and major Naschy fan Elena Romea Parente and she is also responsible for the translation for this book! Here is the ad copy directly from Amazon-
"Based on the movie of the same name by Paul Naschy in 1983, PANIC BEATS is a supernatural claustrophobic thriller that takes place in Alaric de Marnac’s old mansion.
Alaric de Marnac is Paul Naschy’s second important character, after the classic and famous werewolf Waldemar Daninsky. Alaric, inspired by Gilles de Rais, Joan of Arc’s deputy who ended his life mad and cursed after her death, is a character that in different Naschy’s works goes from one age to the other as an eternal spectre, always taking his dark and horrible curse with him.
Javier Trujillo’s work has a solid realistic style, always faithful to Paul Naschy’s original work, with whom he worked intensely during the director’s last years in order to translate his work and his personal supernatural cosmogony, always influenced by the classics, to the comic world and illustration. "
The only downside is that it only being made available as an ebook for the Kindle for now but that is a small hurdle when the work is this gorgeous. And the price is a mere $2.99! Amazing! Go on over and check it out- you can download a free sample page to get a look at the art and I'm sure that will entice you to read the whole thing. Take a look.
Saturday, January 17, 2015
With this episode we reach a true milestone -we have now covered fifty of Paul Naschy's films over the past five years! It hasn't been easy and it hasn't been perfect but we are proud of this accomplishment and we hope everyone sticks around for year six.
When we started this show we knew this film would mark the end of an era as it is the best of the movies Naschy made in the new millennium. It is a well made, slick and sharp horror film that brings all of his genre story obsessions to the 21st century brilliantly. One of the most interesting elements of the film is how closely its details mirror its lead actor's life and career. Naschy stars as the aging out-of-work actor named Pablo Thevenet who endures humiliating casting sessions and the disrespect and insults of young directors and producers. Nearly broke and completely desperate he agrees to accept an offer to be a doorman-entertainer for the upscale Pandora Club run by the bizarre and very wealthy Mr. Reficul. But from the moment he signs his employment contract things start to change for Pablo in ways he had not anticipated.
Friday, January 16, 2015
I'm on record as not being a huge fan of the modern Doctor Who show. I'm much more a fan of the original run from 1963 to 1989 with their low budgets, silly monsters and inventive scripts but I've always found the 21st century version to be a little too off from what I like in Who. Not that I haven't enjoyed the show in general but I've found the reliance on stories set on present day Earth irritating since they clearly have a LOT more cash to spend on the show than past producers. During the years of the much beloved 10th Doctor I became increasingly pissed by this fallback setting until things got to the point that I would turn an episode off once I discovered that, once again, we're in modern day
I would eventually return to finish the story but I did it more out a sense of
obligation than desire. That is not a good reason to watch a television show.
So, once they switched actors in the lead role I stepped away from Doctor Who and ignored the Matt Smith run of episodes regardless of the praise I read online. After all- I had heard the same talk about the first four years and had been only occasionally pleased by the onscreen results.
About six months ago, at the insistence of author Steve Sullivan, I decided to finally watch the first Smith episode and I was impressed - but not impressed enough to watch more. Cut to this past holiday season when - for no good reason - I watched the second episode of the fifth season/series and was very happy with it! The Beast Below is set in the far future and in deep space where the city of
has been set on course for a new planet. Yes! This is the kind of setting that
I think of when I think Doctor Who! So I watched the next episode and it
involved a trip back to WWII London to help Winston Churchill deal with a nasty
Dalek problem. YES! The past AND Daleks! Perfect! Then the show presented a two
episode tale that brings back the most impressive modern addition to the Who
rouges gallery The Weeping Angels while pointing toward future events that the
Doctor has yet to experience. "You had my interest but now you have my attention." Later in the season the Silurians return giving us one of those
great links back to the old Doctors and there is even a reoccurring nod to
first few incarnations of the character that show real affection for the full
history of this great program. This is a modern version of Who I can completely
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Monday, January 12, 2015
Saturday, January 10, 2015
As The Golden Voyage of Sinbad begins, the fabled nautical adventurer (John Phillip Law) and his crew are sailing on the open sea when they spot a strange flying creature. Frightened by an arrow fired by one of the sailors, the creature drops a small golden tablet. After Sinbad ties the object around his neck he has several nightmarish visions of a tall man dressed in black and a dancing girl with an eye tattooed on the palm of her hand. When a storm blows the ship off course, Sinbad is sure the land they come upon is connected to his dream somehow. Going ashore alone he encounters the man in black from his vision. The dark man (Doctor Who's Tom Baker) identifies himself as Prince Koura, a sorcerer who claims the golden tablet as his own and demands its return. Escaping into a nearby city, Sinbad is met by the benevolent, golden-masked Grand Vizier (Douglas Wilmer), who explains Koura's bid to obtain ultimate power. To gain this power, the wizard must unite the three separate pieces of a magical sign. The golden tablet Sinbad wears about his neck is one of these pieces, while the Vizier controls another. When combining their two segments they discover a map that can lead them to the third and so together they vow to foil Koura's evil scheme. A rich man's wastrel son and the slave girl Margiana (Caroline Munro), whose tattooed hand may play a part in stopping the Prince, join Sinbad on the journey. They set sail for the legendary isle of Lemuria with Koura and his henchmen in close pursuit.
Of the three Sinbad movies made by Ray Harryhausen, Golden Voyage has always been my favorite. Most people prefer 1958's The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and I can understand that, but I feel the story in Golden Voyage is better and I really like John Phillip Law in the lead role. He seems much more suited to the character and even affects an accent to add to his performance. It also helps that Caroline Munro — one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the silver screen — is the only female on display here, giving us more time to stare longingly at her tanned body and lose ourselves in her lovely eyes. (And she's not even a special effect!)
Although Jason and the Argonauts will always be Harryhausen's greatest film, this one gives him plenty of moments to shine and he capitalizes on all of them. Each creature brought to stop-motion life here is a wonder to behold with beautiful details and amazing, flowing movement. I'll never get over my original childhood fear of the prow of Sinbad's ship, which comes to life under Koura's power. It's a combination of the blank, unchanging face of the wooden woman and the creepy sounds of her moving that send chills down my spine.
There are two showstoppers in Golden Voyage that rival the skeleton fight in 7th Voyage. One is the grotesque one-eyed centaur that battles a mighty griffin, the other the living, six-armed statue of Kali. The fight between Kali and Sinbad's crew is a masterful bit of action that bears repeated viewings. With all these pyrotechnics you might expect the film to be a bit too broad, but my favorite moment in the film is the quiet scene of Koura's new homunculus awakening to life. The detailed facial expressions and body language of the small winged beast is mesmerizing; this is one of the best animation sequences of Harryhausen's career. Moments like this make Golden Voyage a wonderful film that will go on entertaining audiences for generations to come.
It's often said that 'They don't make 'em like they used to' and this film is a perfect example of that statement's truth. The clearness of purpose that can be felt behind Harryhausen's fantasy films is almost never evident in cinema today. Each of his movies feels as if it were crafted by people who cared very much about making the best possible film they could create. These stories weren't shaped by committees, vetted by a legal department or altered by businessmen looking for a good Happy Meal tie-in. These films were put together by people in love with the stories and in love with filmmaking. Any story changes were done for budgetary or time constraints, not because the vice-president of marketing thought his kids would like a blue monster instead of a green one.
Friday, January 09, 2015
I was recently dusting bookshelves and realized that although I have nice editions of many other of Moorcock's lengthy series of Eternal Champion stories I don't have any of the Elric tales. I read the DAW paperback series when I was a teenager (as I'm sure most long-term fans do) but I somehow have lost track of when I traded away, loaned or lost my copies of those old books. Now I'm feeling the urge to reread those novels but I also still haven't read the Corum, Hawkmoon or Nomad of the Time Stream books yet and they are sitting there on the shelf, mocking me.