Thursday, May 28, 2015

On Deck - WORLD GONE WILD (1987)

Until last Sunday I had never heard of this slice of 80's cheese. I was guesting on the fantastic B-MovieCast talking with them about TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1972) when co-host Nic Brown mentioned this film as a forgotten and nearly lost post-apocalyptic epic. Well, he didn't call it an epic, but my love of the genre is strong so I hope for the best. I'm expecting Bruce Dern's presence to balance out the Adam Ant-ness. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Anniversary - The Flash

2015 is the 75th anniversary of my second favorite DC Comics' superhero The Flash and BOY- has he had a great year so far! A hit TV show has put him on the map as far as the public is concerned and he will even be hitting the big screen next year. 
These are some of the comics I first remember buying featuring the Scarlet Speedster although they aren't the first ones I read. A cousin of mine had a stash of Flash books that got me interested and his appearances in the JLA stoked my fascination. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Brief Thoughts - HOUSEBOUND (2014)

Just a very quick note to bring attention to the film HOUSEBOUND (2014) that is currently streaming on NetFlix. I had been advised by several online friends to seek this one out and now that I have I will follow suit.



Now, a few non-spoiler details. HOUSEBOUND is best gone into with no or little prior knowledge of the plot but I will say that it would be categorized as a horror/comedy and has elements that wouldn't feel out of place in one of fellow Kiwi filmmaker Peter Jackson's early work. The story involves a young lady forced to return to her childhood home to serves eight months of house arrest. As any woman in her early twenties might, she feels resentment at the situation and frustration with her mom and step-father. She gradually starts trying to make use of her time and eventually her boredom turned curiosity results in learning that her mother thinks the house is haunted! Soon enough she too begins to notice things that only seem explainable by supernatural means. That is all I will say.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


I'm not the biggest fan of Agatha Christie film adaptations and I'm not sure why. It might be because the few I've seen have been a little too long, far too star-studded and slightly too much in earnest to do more than mildly intrigue me. Or it might be that I don't find Miss Marple a very interesting protagonist and most of the Agatha Christie movies I've read about seem to focus on her so I tend to take a pass. Her other series sleuth Hercule Poirot I have not seen much of on screen. I think I witnessed him once but he was played by Peter Ustinov and I remember little more than a silly accent and much squinting in bright Egyptian sunlight. I'm sure there was a murder or two but......

I became mildly interested in seeing THE ALPHABET MURDERS (1965) because I was informed that it was directed in an inventive style by Frank Tashlin. Tashlin is best known for directing a slew of Jerry Lewis comedies and the Doris Day vehicle THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT (1966) so I wasn't too keen on diving into his lesser well reviewed efforts until I realized he also made one of my favorite lesser known Christmas films SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954). That film is a little gem of comedy genius even if it has a whiff of the 'creepy uncle lusting after the forbidden niece' layered over the top of the entire tale.

So, with all that in mind, I have to report that THE ALPHABET MURDERS is a blast from start to finish. That's not to say it a perfect film- far from it. But it does have a cool mystery at its center, a strong cast playing up to the story and a breezy sense of light menace that keeps the thing moving along. I think that everyone involved must have had fun making the film on location in England although I wonder what the British actors thought of the very American Tony Randall taking center stage as the Belgian main character. Not that Randall is bad in the role- indeed, he is very good - but I half expected Robert Morley to eventually pause, look to the camera and drolly comment that perhaps he should be playing Poirot instead. I suppose that the only reason such a thought enters my head is that Tashlin starts this film in the radical fashion of having Tony Randall break the fourth wall and address the audience to say that he will be playing Poirot in the movie we are about to watch. I wasn't expecting that! And I'm sure film-goers in 1965 weren't either. Still, it is amusing and certainly effectively sets the tone for what is to come. And did I mention Anita Ekberg as the femme fatale? Oh, my!

Overall this is a fun film and well worth seeing for its stylish direction, silly humor and sly sense fun. It's hard to take very seriously but I doubt anyone involved was attempting to make a pulse pounding thriller so expectations should be dialed down to comedy levels for maximum enjoyment. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Beyond Naschy #14 - THE VAMPIRES' NIGHT ORGY (1974)

Major spoiler warning! We talk about the entire film this time out, all the way through to the ending image - I just had to!  And  man - this episode sprawled out of control! With great joy, Troy and I cover the Spanish Horror gem THE VAMPIRES' NIGHT ORGY but the verbal side trips stretch the show to a length I am slightly sheepish to see. But maybe the long running time is a good thing? Maybe providing a nearly three hour long podcast is appreciated! I hope.

At any rate, we start out talking about a couple of recent horror films (IT FOLLOWS, THE LAZARUS EFFECT) and in an amusing (and accidental) way this discussion informs our analysis of the film we focus on here. You never know what connections exist, huh?  This the is the eighth Leon Klimovsky feature film we have covered which puts him at the top of the list of directors we have examined. This gives us a chance to talk about the very good qualities he brings to the table as well as the less than admirable choices that seem to consistently afflict his work. We both feel that a through exploration of his lesser known movies might be fascinating as long as we can locate English friendly copies.

The mail sack is full this month but there is always next time, so please drop us a note at or join us over on the Book of Faces. Also, if you can spare the cash consider stuffing some virtual currency in the jar by tapping the donate button on the right hand side of the blog page. It would help us out! Thanks for downloading and listening.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Amazing Flash Gordon animated short!

If you are a fan of Flash Gordon or even if you only know of the character by name and reputation I think you'll get a kick out of this excellent little short. Presented as the second chapter in a serial it bypasses the origin of Flash and his companions leaping directly into the action. Check it out!

Friday, May 15, 2015

ARCHER OF FIRE (1971) poster art

How can I NOT want to see this film

Thursday, May 14, 2015

MANT! - the reconstruction!

MANT! (2013 Reconstruction) from Plan 9: Genesis on Vimeo.

For those who have never had the pleasure of seeing the fantastic Joe Dante film MATINEE (1993) this will seem..... odd. But for the rest of us this is gold! Where is the Blu-Ray?

Monday, May 11, 2015

What I Watched in April

Last month I was able to see the much talked about horror film IT FOLLOWS and I am squarely in the camp of those that were impressed. Indeed, its one of the best of the recently made scary movies I've seen in a long time. The central concept of a sexually passed along deadly threat is an over obvious metaphor but the film carries its idea to such fascinating places and in such realistic ways that having the symbolism so near the surface actually added to the achievement. I've read some viewers complain about the speed of the narrative but I found the calm, deliberate pace to be seductive as I was sucked into the film's world, trying to place the time period (impossible) and character relationships (complicated). As the threat began to manifest itself the film reached heights of creepy dread that thrilled me. Here is a film in complete control of its strengths that also knows where to place its characters for maximum effect. And the score is brilliant as well sounding like the kind of thing John Carpenter would have composed if he retired to just crafting music for other people's films. This is a refreshing change of pace from the current state of the horror genre and I look forward to more from these filmmakers. More like this please!

THE LIVING HEAD (1963) - 5 (Mexican horror effort is OK if slow)
PICTURE MOMMY DEAD (1966)- 7 Bert I Gordon doing a William Castle riff)
PULGASARI (1985)- 6 (North Korean giant monster epic)
WAX (2014) - 6
GOING CLEAR (2015)- 8 (excellent documentary on Scientology)
DOCTOR MORDRID (1992)- 7 (rewatch)
IT FOLLOWS (2015)- 8
JENNIFER (1977) - 6
BEAR ISLAND (1979)- 7 (rewatch)
CASTLE OF BLOOD (1964) - 8 (rewatch)
99 and 44/100% DEAD (1974)- 7 (strange but entertaining crime film)
THE 'HUMAN' FACTOR (1975)- 7 (well done revenge thriller) 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

MOTHRA (1961) poster art

On this date in 1962 MOTHRA hit theater screens in the United States! Long may she reign!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

What if BATMAN VS SUPERMAN was done ....

in the style of the 1990's Batman and Superman animated series? 

Friday, May 08, 2015

THE VAMPIRE'S NIGHT ORGY (1974) poster art

Yes, I know the first and last image are of the same poster but one is brighter than the other! I like the contrast. I'm making notes on this one for our next podcast. 

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Brief Thoughts - REC 4: APOCALYPSE (2014)

I sat down and watched the latest and weakest of the REC films the other night. Although this fourth entry is pretty good and wisely continues the story of the female lead of the first two movies it doesn't have the energy or thrills of those earlier movies. Much criticism was leveled at the REC 3 for tone shifting into some bloody comedy during its second half but I felt that film's story was well crafted enough to make the often odious mixture work. Perhaps concerned about the complaints of those that dislike their horror chocolate mixed with their comedy peanut butter, the newest film moves away from any hint of comedy (even when a crazed monkey is attacking) and remains as grim and serious as the first two.

REC 4's story is quieter, slower and less involving than the earlier three movies so I have to say its the least of the series so far. That's not to say I disliked it, but it left much to be desired even with an interesting twist on the movement of the central 'infection' from host to host. If you're a fan of the other REC movies its worth a watch but go in with lowered expectations for maximum enjoyment.

I'm a huge fan of director Jaume Balagueró's other movies and have been impressed with nearly every move he has made in the horror genre. Over the past fifteen years he has emerged as possibly the best of the current crop of Spanish Horror filmmakers and if you have yet to see his other work - THE NAMELESS, DARKNESS, FRAGILE, etc - I recommend checking them out for some great creepy horror tales. 

Monday, May 04, 2015


In the waning days of World War II the still-beating heart of the legendary Frankenstein Monster is removed from a secret German laboratory and sent to Japan by submarine. Scientists there intend to use this amazing indestructible muscle to create soldiers that will be impervious to bullets. But mere hours after the heart arrives in Hiroshima — on August 6th, 1945 — the building housing it as well as most of the surrounding city are destroyed by the first atomic bomb blast.

Cut to 15 years later... Dr. James Bowen (Nick Adams, Invasion of Astro-Monster) is a visiting American medical researcher working at the Hiroshima International Institute of Radiotherapentics. He and his colleagues are attempting to use the horrible discoveries made about the effects of radiation to find and improve medical treatments. The benevolent scientists are unaware that, nearby, a strange deformed boy skulks in the shadows, living off whatever food he can scrounge from the garbage. Pretty Dr. Sueko Togami (Kumi Mizuno) spots the boy one night on her way home and then she and Dr. Bowen observe him from her apartment balcony a few days later. They toss the silent child some food and hope for the best. But when they encounter him again days later near the beach they realize something must be done for him. Dr. Togami is able to calm and comfort the boy so he is brought back to the Institute for tests. 

Shocked to find that the gangly teenager appears to be Caucasian, the team of researchers are even more surprised to find that he has a very high resistance to radiation. Also it seems that a steady diet of nutritious food is causing an odd growth spurt and within a few days he has expanded to 10 feet in height, requiring the doctors to house him in a nearby warehouse. Out of fear a cell is constructed and chains placed on his wrists.

Working on information provided by the captain of the wartime sub that transported the Frankenstein heart, Bowen and Dr. Yuzo Kawaji (Tadao Takashima) travel to Germany and speak with the aged scientist responsible for preserving the organ. He tells his incredulous questioners that if they think the boy is somehow related to the heart the best test is to remove an arm or leg and see if it grows back. Appalled by the suggestion but at a loss for another test the two men return to Japan just as the now 15-foot tall boy escapes his confinement, leaving behind a severed hand. When the grotesque hand remains animated they know that somehow the Frankenstein heart — caught in the atomic blast — grew an entire human body around itself! Now they must somehow capture the boy in hopes of using his amazing biological properties for the betterment of mankind. This already difficult task becomes even harder when at the same time a giant beast burrows up from the depths of the earth and begins rampaging across outlying areas of the country. Soon sightings of the frightened "Frankenstein" are being mixed up with the attacks of the reptilian animal and the military are simply trying to destroy the still-growing boy. But soon enough the two oversized creatures meet and it's a fight to the death.

Absolutely one of the most entertaining Daikaiju Eiga ever produced, this bizarre amalgam of East and West is one of my favorites of the genre. The first co-production between Toho Studio and Henry Saperstein, it was imagined as a way to make the giant monster films even more profitable in the States. As shot by the legendary director Ishirô (Godzilla) Honda the whole film feels like a Japanese updating of the classic horror films of the 1930s and '40s. From the opening scenes of a snowy battle-scarred graveyard in Germany, the film makes its debt to the classic Universal Frankenstein films front and center. The slow pan across that dark cemetery looks like it could have been shot on the sets used for the 1931 movie or its sequels and sets the tone beautifully. The nearly silent sequence in which soldiers remove the heart from the mad German scientist's lab is brilliantly played and is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of any Monster Kid. The rebirth of the Frankenstein monster in a new place and time is a wonderful idea, with the usual preaching about the horrific effects of the Atom Bomb being nicely worked into origin of this new creature. I'm not sure what it says that the reborn Frankenstein monster ends up fighting to protect his new homeland, but it at the very least speaks of a wish to pull together against mutual enemies. The movie is beautiful to look at, especially in its intended widescreen format. Honda makes wonderful use of the entire frame to give real size and scope to the action and constantly providing some gorgeous images even in simple shots of the Japanese countryside. The expert miniatures and mostly well-done process shots are amazing in their detail even when too much time on screen shows the strings behind the tricks. The one complaint I've always had about this fun movie still holds true though... Why didn't they get an actual Caucasian boy to play the Frankenstein creature? One of the things that point the scientists toward the eventually solution of his nature is that he is supposedly not a Japanese child. But the young man in the role is so obviously Asian that calling him anything else is slightly silly. Of course I'm willing to overlook this as I watch the film over and over again — it's not a deal breaker — but it does make me laugh. And this IS the kind of movie in which men wear a tie as they search through a dense jungle for a giant monster. Always dress well and never let them see you sweat, I guess.

Fans of this movie can breathe a sigh of relief after years of waiting because the Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock's two-DVD presentation is everything you could want and then some! Not only do you get the original full-length Japanese version and the "International" cut (which has an added battle sequence before the end credits), you also get the American version as well, complete with English-language dub. All three versions of the film are in the correct widescreen aspect ratio and enhanced for 16x9 TVs; both the English and Japanese soundtracks are available in the original mono or in a new 5.1 Surround mix.

The first real extra of the set is the "International" cut of the film (Frankenstein vs. Baragon), which includes the giant octopus scene eliminated from the other versions. Originally added because the American producers wanted Frankenstein to fight a second monster, it was removed when the creature was deemed too unrealistic. Personally I prefer the film with this scene, as it provides a much more satisfying ending even if the sudden appearance of a giant octopus is hysterical. Other extras include a commentary track with photographer Sadamasa Arikawa, discussing his memories of working on the movie; a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos and promotional art; the Japanese trailer and an interesting teaser for the movie as well. The excised octopus scene is included on the second disc (along with the American cut) as a deleted scene, so even fans fond of the version from their childhood can see what they missed. This DVD release will do just fine.....until the inevitable Blu-Ray, of course. 

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Vision comes to the big screen

Well done Mr. Wedon. Well done, indeed.