Saturday, July 30, 2016
Tom Jones' Thunderball is one of my favorite Bond theme songs and I never tire of it but I am increasingly fascinated by the many rejected and alternate title songs for various films in the series. Let's compare and contrast the Jones classic and the rejected song sung by the great Shirley Bassey. Here's the first -
And here's Miss Bassey's version entitled Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang -
I like them both!
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Today the great cartoonist Jack Davis passed away. I was a fan of his work before I could understand how brilliant his art was at highlighting the things that made a person recognizable. He uses exaggeration and incredible detail to draw images that often seemed better than the reality they were caricaturizing. Mad Magazine was my introduction and although he was surrounded on those pages by a host of other amazing talents it was Jack Davis' distinctive style I saw pop up everywhere I looked. He did movie posters, magazine ads, record album covers and when I finally discovered the classic EC horror comics he was there too! There seemed to be no limit to the places his artwork would turn up and each time it appeared I was thrilled. He was one of a kind and his presence will be sorely missed.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
We return to the land of the giant monsters for a surprising and impressive entry in Toho's Godzilla series. This was the ninth outing for the Big G and his crowd of monster cohorts. It was also the last time that the core group of creators responsible for bringing the original 1954 classic GOJIRA to the screen were to work together on a kaiju film. The studio increased the budget for this outing (for reasons we'll discuss in the show) and the extra money shows in ways both big and small. The use of pretty much every giant monster character that Toho had created up to this point meant that the special effects technicians were working overtime to build and shoot the numerous battles and scenes of city destruction. Oh, man- the monster fights in this film are so great!
Adding to the general excellence of this movie are the wonderful directorial touches of the great Ishirô Honda. Always a man with a keen eye for framing he also gets a chance in this film to give us several unexpected visually gorgeous images that verge on the surreal. Rarely has wet sand, high heeled shoes, a low sun and the sound of crashing surf been combined to such charged effect in a G rated film.
Troy just returned from
his annual visit to Chicago's
G-Fest I question him about the highlights of the convention. He has a little
info on the new Japanese Godzilla film but we still await news of North
American distribution. He relates tales of meeting numerous celebrities over
the weekend and even has photographic evidence to back up his claims of glory.
I really have to attend G-Fest one of the days! As the episode swings into gear
we talk about the film's colorful set design, it's familiar and talented cast,
the two different English dubs available and a host of other details we can't
stop ourselves from gabbing about. I even spend a while complaining about the
tease of seeing certain creatures who are given only seconds of screen time. I
love you, Varan!
Thank you for downloading and listening to the show. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments or suggestions.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
These are a few of my favorite covers from the classic Marvel comic of the 1970's. I know that in comparison Tomb of Dracula was the better book but the tortured tale of Jack Russell (yeah, that is his name) dealing with his inherited lycanthropy is closer to my heart. Of course, I often see Paul Naschy in these images but that's just me overlaying one fascination on top of another.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Concentrating pretty hard on this film for the past few days in preparation of the next Bloody Pit episode. If you have any comments on the film leave them in the comments below and we'll respond in the podcast!
Sunday, July 17, 2016
I love that in 2016, after decades of hunting for interesting, obscure films from all over the world I can still find things that blow my mind. My latest discovery is the three film series from
follows El Latigo a.k.a. The Whip! I had never heard of this character until
spotting the DVD artwork for the third of the series El latigo contra las
momias asesinas (1980) - that translates
to The Whip Against the Killer Mummies!! It's as if this movie were made
specifically for me! A fake Zorro fighting killer mummies? Take my money now!
Luckily for me - and anyone else like me - that fine gentleman Juan over at Fifth Dimension Films has done the world a service by making these obscure movies available with English subtitles. Sadly, I am unilingual with only the vaguest understanding of a few words and phrases in French, Spanish and German so without an English option these kinds of films would be completely lost to me. Indeed, I would probably never bother with them at all because the frustration of not knowing what was going on would enrage me. Yeah sure, I might be able to dope out the basics but that is just not enough. But through the hard work of Juan I can not see EL LATIGO (1978) and it's sequels and for that I am incredibly grateful.
In the first film the villains are pretty straightforward in their goals and methods. They are standard western genre gunslingers and corrupt lawmen hiding behind a thin veneer of respectability until the Whip starts ....... whipping things into shape. But the second film takes a hard left turn as you might conclude from the title - THE WHIP AGAINST SATAN (1979)! Whoa, says I! From thieves and kidnappers to Beelzebub is a mighty big leap. Since The Whip seems loath to use guns (an oddity I find amusing) I felt that surely he was not well armed enough to take on a hoard of demons much less Satan himself. But heroes are made of sterner stuff than mere mortals such as I so into battle he goes. I won't give away the ending but needless to say he does manage to whip things into shape. (Sorry!)
I haven't watched the third film yet. I'm a little busy right now with show prep and I want to be able to give it my full attention but I fully expect it to be just as much fun as the first two. As you might have guessed from the fact that The Whip doesn't use guns the movies are a little juvenile in their approach but I find that part of their charm. Our hero doesn't kill people (kinda iffy on demons) and his actions are always honorable even in rough situations. In a way these play like lost western adventures from the 1950's shot through a Mexican lens. They conform to the rules of the genre while stretching certain details into unfamiliar shapes. For a jaded movie nut like me they are like a cool breeze on a hot day - refreshing!
If you're interested in checking these out for yourself go on over to Fifth Dimension Films and look them over. The trove of subtitled Mexican genre cinema doesn't stop at weird westerns - Juan also has a vast collection of uncut Santo movies as well! Oh yeah!
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Last month events conspired to keep me out of the theaters - movies I don't care to see, bladder infections, etc. - so I only got out to see one offering.
Having enjoyed the two previous films I have seen directed by director Nicholas Winding-Refn I was excited to see his latest 'controversial' movies. Surely the most controversial thing was that it was playing in a multiplex in
in the summer. Surely that valuable screen space could have been the fourth or
fifth screen for the nobody-asked-for-it INDEPENDENCE
DAY sequel! But I got lucky and co-financier Amazon pushed it out into American
chains were it could earn about a million and change and then get dumped ASAP.
But, how was it?
I liked THE NEON DEMON quite a lot, actually. That's not to say I think most people will also enjoy it as I have odd tastes and bizarre, slow films interest me more than the average filmgoer. Make no mistake - this is a very carefully crafted slow burn so if you aren't good with delayed gratification this one is not for you. It IS a horror film but one in which the horror slowly builds over the course of events first affecting a sense of unease and fear for the teenaged protagonist alone in a city of users and sleaze. Then, as sinister intentions become less veiled, the darker aspects of the various characters are revealed and things ramp up to a bloody and startling series of final acts.
I've read some takes on this film saying it is a thumb in the eye of the fashion industry and its never ending churn of fresh new faces for the camera. Of course, that means it's also painting the film industry in the same shameful and condemning colors - mostly red. Cinema has always been aware of the fact that it is creating images often worshipped by those with no hope of being on that big screen. THE NEON DEMON plays with the darkest end of the emotions that worship causes in the pretty young things that ache to be the object of that attention. It's a beautiful, deliberate film full of Argento and Bava inspired images but Winding-Refn refuses to rush to get to what horror fans will call 'the good parts'. For that they will hate him and I laud him. Bring on the next art horror film, sir. You are at least amusing me!
THE OBSCENE MIRROR (1973) - 8 (Franco and Emma Cohen)
THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977) - 4 (rewatch)
CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) - 8 (rewatch of the longer cut)
THE DISORDERLY ORDERLY (1964)- 5 (most of the humor is sad but there is some entertainment value in spots)
GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE (1972) - 6 (a rapist vampire!)
JAWS OF SATAN (1981) - 6 (fun low budget
lensed JAWS rip-off with snakes) Alabama
THE FALCON STRIKES BACK (1943)- 5 (average for the series with bad sidekick comedy)
WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? (1976)- 8 (rewatch)
HUSH (2016) - 7 (well done woman-in-peril siege film)
GLADIATOR (2000) -10 (rewatch - Extend Edition)
SOYLENT GREEN (1973) - 9 (rewatch)
THE SIN SHIP (1931) - 5 (creaky melodrama with Mary Astor)
BRIDGE OF DRAGONS (1999) - 5 (not bad, low budget post-apocalyptic fantasy)
CHALLENGE OF THE GLADIATOR (1965)- 6 (decent sword & sandal epic)
NINJA III: THE DOMINATION (1984)- 4 (terrible but fun)
KING KONG VS GODZILLA (1962) - 5
THE NEON DEMON (2016)- 7 (LA fashion bloodsuckers)
CHATO'S LAND (1972) - 7 (solid revenge western)
Monday, July 11, 2016
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING (1985) is not considered one of the best entries in that slasher series. In fact, it was reviled at the time of it's release not just by the usual people that despise the genre but by fans of the series as well. Over the last three decades more people have been able to find love for the movie and accept it for what it is rather than complain that it isn't what they wanted. And we should always remember that every F13 film is some young lad's very first or, for whatever reason, the one that strikes him to the core. This video from alt-folk artist Wolfie's Just Fine captures one of those moments in blissful perfection as a young boy proving his male bona fides to his pals is caught unaware by his emotional reaction to scene from the movie. This a sweet, touching and beautiful song and video. That FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V inspired this isn't as strange as you might think.
Wednesday, July 06, 2016
Set in northern
Italy in the early 1600s, The
True Story of the Nun of Monza relates the sad but sexy convent life of the
daughter of that city's feudal lord. She is dowered into the care of the nuns
by her father to remove her from the temptations of the world. This seems to
have been a good idea, as the newly christened Sister Virginia de Leyve (Zora
Kerova) has very vivid
dreams of humiliation by the nuns and of herself in a nude embrace with men.
When these dreams culminate in Jesus stepping down from the crucifix to allow
the kneeling girl to kiss his stomach, you know she has some problems with
fornication. Not that she's alone in this in the convent...
Her condition is kept quiet and when the child is stillborn she prays for forgiveness. Proclaiming not to love Osio any longer, she vows to mend her ways. But young novitiate Margherita (Leda Simoneti), who midwifed the baby, threatens to reveal everyone's dirty secrets unless she is given whatever she wants. Mere moments after Osio silences the girl the Inquisitor shows up to strip away all deceit and wield the mighty sword of Church justice.
The Nunsploitation genre is one I've never really understood. Not being Catholic, I don't have any childhood fears, erotic or otherwise, linked to the sight of women covered from head to toe in black drapery. Nor do I attribute these "Brides of Christ" any special reverence that would cause the sight of them acting with sexual abandon to be more alluring than any other attractive woman. Sadly this lack of any Catholic background or even direct knowledge of the religion seems to blunt the titillation factor of these films. This means that, for me, they succeed or fail solely on their merits as well told stories. Unfortunately this film lacks a strong narrative line which blunts any sense of forward momentum. Until the final 20 minutes the movie has almost no drive making it feel more like a series of anecdotes rather than a story with a purpose. As a matter of fact I'm sure that you could scramble the order of about 10 scenes in the middle of the film without changing the structure of the tale or the tragic arc
Virginia follows. The
overwhelming feeling for most of the film was of drifting from scene to scene
with little forward impetus. It was as if we were simply seeing incidents along
a timeline with only a few connecting threads until the pregnancy occurs and
the heavy duty guilt kicks in. I guess this might be a case of adhering to the
facts of the historical events they are supposed to be dramatizing but it makes
for a rambling, occasionally dull movie.
I guess I was expecting something sleazier as this was directed under a pseudonym by Bruno Mattei (as "Stefan Oblowsky"). His other films from the same period are trashy glories brimming with nastiness that he seems to relish wallowing in for the sake of cheap thrills. Maybe that’s the reason for the false name on the credits- to distance The True Story of the Nun of Monza from his other work. But it's strange that this well-mounted but mostly flat film would be attributed to a fictitious person while his junk film epics like Rats and SS Girls sport his given name. I wonder which he's more proud of when he looks back.