See what I mean?
Thursday, February 23, 2017
I caught up with 1969's MOON ZERO TWO the other night and found it to be pretty terrible. In fact, it's easily one of the weakest Hammer productions I have ever seen and that is saying something. I enjoyed the miniature work, the set design and the female lead, the talented Miss Catherine Schell. Although she had a long career I remember her primarily for her featured role on the second (and last) season of the 1970's TV series Space:1999. This film proved I had not been looking at her closely enough!
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
While browsing the cheap boxes at a local comic shop recently I spotted this cover and had to read the story attached to this image. What ERB inspired lunacy was this going to be?
Sadly, although the first page references Burroughs's John Carter novels as well as Bradbury's Martian Chronicles and even Otis Kline's Mars books the story here is not quite as good as I hoped for. It turns out to be one of DC's legendary 'Imaginary Stories' which was their way of occasionally playing 'What If' with classic characters. In general I love these recastings of superheroes in new time periods or radically different circumstances but not all are great and this one falls into the pretty bad category.
Prolific comic writer Elliot S. Maggin scripted this tale in which little Kal-El's rocket lands on Mars instead of Earth resulting in him being raised by a race of warmongering monsters to be a ruthless soldier named Skagerrak. His adoptive father uses his son's superhuman abilities to become the ruler of the planet and then they take aim at Earth for conquest. The expected reversal of position for our Last Son of Krypton is handled in laughable fashion with Kal/Skagerrak masquerading for about fifteen minutes as a storefront Santa Claus, witnessing kindness for (supposedly) the first time and then turning on his people and their way of life. It's as dumb as you just imagined.
The issue's one saving grace is the excellent artwork by the great penciler Curt Swan. Swan is easily one of the best Superman artists of all time and was always able to make even the lamest story palatable through sheer talent. Without his work this would have been a complete embarrassment instead of a barely tolerable waste of an interesting idea.
Friday, February 17, 2017
Until now we have danced around the 1990's Godzilla films in our series of shows focused on Kaiju films but we have only briefly discussed them. That is over!
Closing out our Ghidorah Files series we come to 1991's GODZILLA VS KING GHIDORAH and it is a joyous time. The Heisei films are special to both
Troy and myself for
several reasons. I explain my discovery of this movie through the VHS gray
market and the awakening of Big G love it inspired. Luckily this film and the
entire seven film Heisei Godzilla series is now available on Blu-Ray so you no
longer have to take the dark path of underground dupes and sleazy bootleggers.
Unless you want to, that is.
As you might expect, this film sports some amazing monster battle action with locations in both the countryside and among the modern skyscrapers of
getting the worst of these two creature's destructive power. But the movie also
has some great human characters that lead us through the often complicated time
travel storyline and add some texture to the villainy. Of course, the 1990's
Godzilla films had much worse luck with casting Caucasian actors than they did
in the 1960's so we also have some pretty terrible acting in a few scenes. Nick
Adams, oh, how we miss you!
So join us as we talk about this incredibly fun science fiction monster adventure. We touch on the controversy about the film's supposedly anti-American sequences as well as obvious TERMINATOR steals and the towering brilliance of Akira Ifukube's score. We also discuss the just below the surface metaphors and often hidden societal commentary with which the movie is laced. And then, courtesy of writer Keith Aiken's excellent article entitled GODZILLA VS KING GHIDORAH: Time Travel and the Origins of Godzilla we dig into the timeline of the Heisei films and talk about just how many Big G's there were!
Thank you for downloading and listening to us tackle this film. If you want to let us know what you think aboutthe podcast, this movie or any other film you can contact us at email@example.com or over on The Bloody Pit's FaceBook page. As we say near the end of this show we are casting about for ideas on what movies to cover in the near future and would love to hear your opinion.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
The other night I popped in my DVD of this classic RKO western more out of curiosity than real desire. I had picked up the disc recently for $3 and felt that it was worth that price just to see another Richard Dix film. I've become a fan of Mr. Dix in the last few years even if I often find his mannered form of acting much more suited to the stage or the silent screen than to sound films. But though I think Dix sometimes seems as if he's posing for a still photo or projecting to the back rows there is something compelling about his screen presence that keeps my eyes glued to him. It helps that the 1930's movies I've seen him in have been surprising in some ways with 1935's THE TUNNEL a.k.a. TRANSATLANTIC TUNNEL being a great science fiction tale that treats it's fantastic subject seriously. Dix sells every minute of the story and makes the drama (or melodrama) work even when it shouldn't.
The film covers more than forty years in the life of Yancey and, more to the point, his long suffering wife Sabra played by the fantastic (and also Academy Award nominated) Irene Dunne. Numerous times over those forty years her husband leaves her and the children behind to see the next new exciting expansion of the country to the west. Sabra shows herself to be a brilliant businesswoman keeping the newspaper going and growing while raising the family and eventually running for elected office. In the end, she is really the hero of the tale even if the film has Yancey pop in on occasion to challenge her to be more open and civic minded. I guess in the 1930's we just couldn't have those ladies getting it in their heads that they knew everything, huh? Regardless, Miss Dunne is fantastic and deserved her Award nomination just as much as Dix did. In fact, she had the harder job as she never had the chance to be as bombastically over-the-top as her co-star is allowed to be in certain scenes.
Although I'm partial to film from the 30's and 40's I'll admit that I was not expecting to like this film very much. I know it's silly but I've developed an aversion to movies that come to me sporting Academy Award nominations and
CIMARRON had seven - three of
which it won! I'm glad I ignored these accolades and gave it a try because it
was one of the quickest two hours I've had watching movies in 2017. I heartily
recommend this film to the curious film fan wondering what a pre-code epic
about American history might look like. I think you'll be entertained!
Monday, February 13, 2017
Saturday, February 11, 2017
I was extremely reluctant to go see the first UNDERWORLD film in 2003. Judging by it's trailer the film smacked of silliness and stupidity wrapped in stylistic excess, but my girlfriend wanted to go so I went. To this day I'm thankful for her insistence because I loved the first film and it's entire universe of vampires and werewolves locked in an ancient war for dominance. Overly stylized? Yes. Blue tinted? Yes. More action film than horror story? Yes. But it worked on me and, to my greater surprise, so did the sequels. Call me a fanboy, I guess.
But now we have the fifth film in the series and I have to report that they have finally disappointed me. For the first time I didn't get caught up in the story and I wasn't dazzled by the fight scenes. I didn't even give a damn what happened past a certain point. UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS is a dud.
Kate Beckinsale returns as Selene, the vampire warrior currently on the run from both her own kind and the Lycan race. Her daughter Eve from the previous film is quickly written out of the narrative other than as a McGuffin driving part of the story. Things hold together pretty well until about the halfway point when the double and triple crosses of the vampire elders becomes tedious and the Lycan threat begins to feel like where the film should have focused it's energy. As the film creeps along I found myself less and less interested in the events onscreen, merely hoping for things to wrap up already. That's right - for the first time an Underworld film bored me. It might be time to retire the franchise and move on.
It must be my month for films with colons in the their titles because I also went to the second run theater and caught OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL. Checking this film out in the theater marks a first for me as I have never watched a prequel movie without having seen the original beforehand. I feared I would be missing vital information necessary to enjoy the story but two things pushed me to see it - good word of mouth and the fact that it was made by director Mike Flanagan. Flanagan has proven himself to be a solid crafter of horror films in the past few years with ABSENTIA, OCULUS and HUSH all being well done, suspenseful exercises in the genre. I'm glad I chose to see this one too as it once again proves this fellow has the skills to build a career to be admired.
The film takes place in 1967
Los Angeles where a widowed woman and her two
girls work a fortune telling scam to earn a living. When the eldest daughter suggests
incorporating a Ouija board into their séances the mother agrees but then
unknowingly contacts a spirit that takes possession of the younger daughter
when she foolishly uses the board alone.
At first the spirit seems benevolent helping the family by revealing a cache of hidden money in the basement and turning their fake medium act into the real thing. But after the young girl is seen to be writing a lengthy document in a language she doesn't know the local priest is asked to intervene. Eventually they learn the dark secret of the family's house, who the possessing spirit really is and why using a Ouija board was a bad idea to begin with. The film is creepy, well paced, scary and very well done on every level. I guess I should see the first film to find out if it measures up to this excellent prequel.
GIRL MISSING (1933) -6 (fast and funny mystery with the great Glenda Farrell)
MISTER SUPERINVISIBLE (1970) - 4
THE CAREY TREATMENT (1972)- 8 (James Coburn as a murder solving doctor)
UNDERWORLD AWAKENING (2012) -7 (rewatch)
UNDERWORLD BLOOD WAR (2017)- 5
THE SHINING (1980) - 9 (rewatch)
ROOM 237 (2012) - 7 (rewatch)
RUN OF THE ARROW (1957)- 8 (Sam Fuller western)
THE DEVIL MAKES THREE (1953)- 7 (Gene Kelly in post-war
THE PHANTOM PLANET (1961) - 4 (rewatch in colorized form)
HEAVENLY BODIES (1984)- 5 (cheesy, silly and obvious aerobics drama that somehow works)
BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE (2016) - 8 (excellent animated adaptation)
STUNTS (1977) - 6 (pretty good on-set mystery)
THE NAKED FACE (1984)- 7 (mystery thriller with Roger Moore)
RESIDENT EVIL RETRIBUTION (2012) - 7 (rewatch)
THE LAST FRONTIER (1955) -6 (Anthony Mann western)
HAWK OF POWDER RIVER (1948) - 4 (standard B-western staring Eddie Dean)
OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL (2016) - 7 (prequel is solid - guess I need to see the first film)
THE EVIL MIND (1935) - 7 (a.k.a. THE CLAIRVOYANT)
INQUISITION (1976) - 8 (rewatch)
THE TERRIBLE PEOPLE (1960) - 7 (West German crime film based on an Edgar Wallace novel)
Thursday, February 09, 2017
Sunday, February 05, 2017
George Dumurrier (Jean Sorel) is a supposedly wealthy doctor with his own medical clinic in
Francisco. His brother Henry (Alberto de Mendoza)
helps run the private clinic but the siblings often clash over George's
sometimes crass publicity attempts to get the facility better recognition. At
home things are not great either, as George's rich wife Susan (Marisa Mell) is
a virtual shut-in suffering from asthma and requiring almost constant care. The
couple's relationship is in bad shape and he has been denied access to the
areas of the house Susan occupies. On top of this is the poor man's newly
strained relationship with his long time mistress Jane (Elsa Martinelli), who
is close to deciding to leave him and the city. He loves Jane but knows that
without his wife's money his debts would destroy him. Has this guy got problems
Only by making a grand romantic gesture does George manage to change Jane's mind and convince her to stay in Frisco. He makes vague promises of divorce and hints that his rich wife can't life forever in her condition. No sooner does this conversation take place than he receives word that Susan has died! Completely shocked by her death he is even more surprised when he learns that she'd taken out a life insurance policy naming him as the sole beneficiary. While this unexpected windfall will allow him to clear the clinic's debts and put him comfortably in the black, he can't understand why she would've done this. The marriage had been on shaky ground for years and Susan had made her displeasure with his financial dealings known. The police show some interest at first but nothing suspicious is evident, so they leave things alone.
Then a few weeks later George receives an anonymous call telling him to go to a particular nightclub. He does, accompanied by the suspicious Jane, and witnesses the striptease act of Monica Weston (also Marisa Mell). Stunned by the uncanny resemblance to his dead wife, he can only see two minor differences —hair and eye color. Monica is a blonde, green-eyed beauty while Susan was dark haired with brown eyes. After her stage act the sexy woman makes it plain that she's available for sex with George and Jane or the both of them if the price is right; he begs off but is far too intrigued to let it go. He contacts Monica on his own and meets her at her apartment. After a scare when he notices a drug Miss Weston uses that Susan needed as well, George becomes convinced it's just a bizarre coincidence but is it, really?
This is a crackerjack of a film! Lifting both the setting and the central conceit of a dead beautiful woman's doppelganger from Hitchcock's Vertigo, Lucio Fulci (Zombie) doesn't simply make a copy of that portrait of obsession. He comes at the story sideways, like some kind of sex-crazed loon hell-bent on one-upping Hitch while playing, tricking and mesmerizing his audience. Unlike Vertigo's nice guy protagonist we're presented with a main character we can't sympathize with very much. He's a bit of a con artist, willing to lie to advance his business prospects. He's clearly no longer in love with his wife — if he ever was — and as we see her gasping for air during an asthma attack the look of hurt accusation in her eyes invites our hostility toward him. But then during a stylishly filmed lovemaking scene, as he gently holds his mistress, we see someone we could possibly like. And after his mad race to Jane's train destination we see him as a flawed man certainly, but not the monster he might have been. And, of course, the fact remains that we know he didn't kill his wife. So when the finger of guilt points to George we're with him because we understand his confusion. And what a lot of confusion he has to contend with!
Of course, one of the things confusing poor George so is also one of the big reasons cult film fans have been drawn to this movie for decades — the beautiful Marisa Mell. Playing both Susan and Monica, she is very good here, showing more range than she was usually allowed. When first we see her as the pale, dark haired woman at death's door it's a bit of a shock to viewers familiar with her from Danger: Diabolik. In that Bava comic book classic she's the epitome of sexiness; as the sickly wife she is a haggard mess. But don't despair if you picked this film out to ogle bare flesh, because as Monica we're given the chance to stare at her gorgeous body in scene after scene and in many fetching poses. The sequence in which Jane photographs the stripper in her private studio has enough imagery to jumpstart puberty in an 8 year old! I think that even if the film's story stank it'd be worth seeing for a lot of people simply because of Marisa Mell's many nude scenes. She was certainly one of the most beautiful women to grace European films in the '60s and '70s, and if there's a film that shows more of her physical charms I'm unaware. And if there is one, please contact me immediately!
Be aware that the version of this film released several years ago on domestic DVD under the alternate title PERVERSION STORY is the shorter 97 minutes cut. I much prefer the 107 minute version of the film as that time adds depth and character to this excellent mystery. With luck this Fulci classic will show up on Blu-Ray soon.