Monday, March 27, 2017

World's Finest #236 (1976)


I don't think this was my first Superman/Batman team-up book but it has certainly remained stuck in my memory for decades. I think I read this (repeatedly) between the ages of 8 and 10 until it was lost to the winds of fate. I recently found a copy in the cheap bins and was thrilled to see that - as silly as it is - it holds up as a fun little story.

Of course, at the time I had no idea that scripter Bob Haney was blatantly ripping off the film FANTASTIC VOYAGE (1968) and crossing it with a monster story. It's just such barely concealed theft that makes returning to the comic books of my youth so much fun. I got the occasional title steal from classic literature and the often over-obvious character names for both heroes and villains but lifts from things I had yet to be exposed to went past me easily. Now, spotting this stuff is part of the joy of rediscovery when I find one of these pieces of my childhood. Of course, the fact that The Atom is reduced to dust and then injected into a human body where he reassembles himself to do battle with gremlin-like 'germs' has me smiling the whole time. This kind of madness is why the 1960's and 70's DC comics were seen as so unhinged. 

And, as a side note, Dick Dillin's artwork for this issue is amazing! I always associate him with his very long run on the origianl Justice League series and his pencils here show his style off well. 


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

INQUISITION (1976) is coming from Mondo Macabro!


We've known for  few months that Mondo Macabro was planning to release two top notch Paul Naschy films this year and today the company made the official announcement for the first - INQUISITION (1978). This is, of course, extremely exciting and not just because it is the beginning of a stream of Naschy Blu-Ray releases coming in 2017. This is one of the least well known of Naschy's horror films as it falls outside the area of his more famous monster tales. Indeed, this movie hews much more closely to WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968) or THE DEVILS (1971) than to any of his werewolf films. Regardless, this an excellent film with a strong script, excellent cast and some fantastic ideas driving the actions. I can't wait for more people to be able to finally see this film!   

This will be INQUISITION 's Blu-Ray debut and the disc will sport a few nice extras - and that is the big news for the Naschycast. Troy and I were asked to contribute a commentary track for this release and we did so! Yes! We recorded a track that will be included on this Blu-Ray in which we try to provide some information about the film and circumstances around it. We're very excited about this and are very thankful to the fine folks at Mondo Macabro for this opportunity. We hope you will enjoy our track but even if you never listen to us babble at you for the entire running time of the movie I think you'll enjoy the film itself.

Keep an eye on this page to pre-order the Limited Edition or wait a few more months for the regular edition (which will still have our commentary!). This a great film and a must for Naschy fans. It might even be capable of creating NEW Naschy fans!

Here are the official specs for the disc -

We hope to have the limited edition of this title on sale in late April or early May, with the retail version landing in June or so.

Brand new cover illustration by Gilles Vranckx

Region-free worldwide Blu-ray premiere


HD transfer from the original negative


Spanish and English Language Tracks


New created optional English subtitles


Audio commentary by Rod Barnett and Troy Guinn of the Naschycast


Archival video introduction to the film by Paul Naschy


“Blood and Sand”, Eurotika! documentary on Spanish horror


Mondo Macabro previews

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

666 numbered copies

Reversible cover

Booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by Pete Tombs


And of course, the red case

Oh! and here is the other side of the reversible cover-



More Random Poster Art










Friday, March 17, 2017

Beyond Naschy #20 - THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED (1970)


Writer/director Narciso Ibáñez Serrador only made two feature films and in this episode we cover the first. THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED is a carefully paced tale of sexual repression and murder in an all girls school and if that makes you think of a much more famous European genre film from a few years later you might be onto something. As we go through this film we point out some of the movies that seem to have been influenced by THE HOUSE THE SCREAMED as well as a couple of movies that might have served as influences for this under known classic. Set in France in the late 19th century it shows a depth of period detail both in the house itself and in the authoritarian culture it is commenting upon. Often seen as a proto-slasher, the film was known as LA RESIDENCIA in it's home country and under some truly bizarre titles in other places around the world.

The film is elevated by a talented cast led by the legendary Lilli Palmer as the strict headmistress in charge of a few dozen 'troubled' girls placed in her out-of-the-way boarding school.  As these girls range in age from about age 15 to 21 you can imagine what some of the problems might be. Spanish actress Cristina (THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE) Galbó plays the newest student enrolled and serves as our proxy as she learns about the place's dark secrets. British actress Mary (CRUCIBLE OF TERROR) Maude is Irene, the student most trusted by the headmistress to help keep the other girls in line, which she does in some often harsh ways. John Moulder-Brown plays the overprotected teenaged son of the headmistress who spies on the girls but is forbidden to associate with them. And NaschyCast favorite Victor Israel turns up as the school's all-purpose handyman who just might be the killer!

Join us as we dive deep into this one with our observations ranging from the cerebral to the silly. We certainly take great delight in the beauty and intelligence on display in the film and we don't just mean the lovely cast or exemplary acting. This is one of the finest films we have yet to cover and we hope to encourage you to seek it out.

We can be contacted at naschycast@gmail.com or over on the NaschyCast FaceBook page. Let us know what you think of this or any other Spanish horror films. Thank you for downloading and listening.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What I Watched in February


SPLIT (2016)  marks the third  M. Night Shyamalan project in a row that I've liked. Considering the fact that I had written him off completely after four or five miserable misfires this is something of a cinematic miracle. This film is a tight, taut creeper that wastes no time getting to the point and then meting out details in a way that keeps thing interesting. It helps that James McAvoy is fantastic in the lead role pulling off multiple characters inhabiting the same body with what seems great ease. Veteran actress Betty Buckley is also great as the psychiatrist trying to help the various personalities come to an understanding and coexist. This is a sharp little thriller and I now look forward to what Shyamalan will do next.


While I'll be the first to admit that the RESIDENT EVIL series has had it's fair share of ups and downs, I remain a fan. None of the sequels have held together as well as the first movie but I've enjoyed the crack-pot madness the films have embraced and I've been willing to go along for the ride. Sadly, this latest (and supposedly last) entry is one of the weaker ones. After flirting with incomprehensible millisecond-cut editing in earlier films hack director Paul W.S. Anderson finally embraces the suck and makes all the action scenes in this one a mish-mash of overly tight shots placed together seemingly at random. I would not be surprised to learn that these scenes were originally edited much more intelligibly  but Anderson wanted something 'edgier'. This disastrous choice destroys the first hour or so of the film because you can't give a crap about what is happening when you can't see it. Someone needs to tell the idiot director that if you are going to define your characters through action we have to be able to understand what the hell action is taking place to care. Moron.

Strangely, once the story reaches it's endgame I was interested again. The wrap-up they have invented for the Alice character(s) is pretty good and felt like a natural way to explain many different plot elements from the series. Now, if someone could go back in and fix the first hour or so we'd have a fun little movie.


I, like most people who saw it, loved the first John Wick film. It took the clichéd idea of the retired hit man drawn back into the game to new heights of visceral action. It was exciting, intriguing and emotional beyond what I could have expected. The sequel picks up right after the first one and dives into the unfortunate fallout from picking those guns back up. The action scenes are what you come to see in these films and they more than deliver with inventive fights and dazzling gunplay that is as beautiful as watching Gene Kelly dance - if Kelly wielded weapons like a vengeance seeking demon!

The best thing for me was the broadening (hello, Rome) and deepening (interesting relationships) of the dangerous world inhabited by these high level assassins. The codes they live by and work by are well thought out and rigid but clearly in place for everyone's benefit. The rules of this world are fascinating and the breaking of them is what is going to make the next film even more absorbing. Bring on the third entry - I'm ready!


Quite simply, A CURE FOR WELLNESS is the best Dario Argento film in thirty years. The fact that he didn't make it is a sad thing, but the film exists and that means that the audience wins!

Seriously, this is very much the kind of film I wish Argento was still able to craft. The film takes place in modern day but feels like it could be set any time in the past forty years. Lockhart, an ambitious young executive (played well by Dane Dehaan) for a large financial services firm in New York City, is sent to retrieve the company's CEO Mr. Pembroke from an peaceful but mysterious "wellness center" at a remote location in the Swiss Alps. This reason for this assignment is to get the CEO back to the US to sign off on a huge corporate merger. The company's board are concerned after receive a troubling letter from a seemingly demented Pembroke and emphasize to Lockhart the importance of his job. Upon arriving at the wellness center Lockhart is met with some resistance by the staff, particularly Dr. Heinreich Volmer (the always excellent Jason Isaacs), in his attempts to speak with Pembroke. He eventually succeeds in getting through to him, but a car crash forces him to recover as a patient in the center with a broken leg. From there things get progressively stranger.

The wellness center is as gorgeous a piece of old world stone and brick architecture as you are likely to see on film. Once the movie gets to this location the feeling of modernity falls away and a calm, gothic atmosphere envelopes the tale. Everything onscreen gives the impression of having stepped back into a time long passed - there are no computers, phones are mounted on walls, clothing is generic or crisply white and everyone is serenely going about their business. Both patients and staff seem to calmly pass each day comfortable in the routine of rest, relaxation and regular medical treatments. Ah, but what are those treatments?

Very much in the vein of SUSPIRIA or INFERNO the film does wallow a bit in it's own beauty and, to a degree, shares those movie's plot problems. Not all the story dots line up perfectly with at least one thing still puzzling me days after the fact. Even with the film purposely and cleverly confusing things at points with possible hallucinations it makes itself clear at the end except for one nagging element that I can't wait to discuss once more people have caught up with the film. The only other problem I had was the feeling that the movie is a little too long. But this is such a lovely, creepy tale that, in a way, I'm kind of happy for the extra time to soak in the sensations.

THE LIST 

SPLIT (2016) - 8
RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER (2017) - 4 (weak ending with spastic editing)
THE WOMAN WHO WOULDN'T DIE (1965) - 7 (well done thriller)
JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 (2017)- 8
THE TOMB (1986) - 3 (terrible Fred Olen Ray horror mess)
CIMARRON (1931) - 8 (excellent western epic)
EYE IN THE LABYRINTH (1972) - 7 (interesting Euro-Trash mystery hokum)
HAPPY HELL NIGHT (1990) - 2 (awful slasher)
ALONE IN THE DARK (1982) - 6 (interesting cast - OK film)
I, THE JURY (1981) - 5 (rewatch)
MOON ZERO TWO (1969) - 4 (sad Hammer SF)
WEEKEND OF TERROR (1970) - 6 (solid TV movie with good cast)
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (2015) - 9 (rewatch)
A CURE FOR WELLNESS (2017) -  8
THE HYPNOTIC EYE )1960) - 4
DARKMAN II: THE RETURN OF DURANT (1995) - 6 (rewatch)
DARKMAN III: DIE, DARKMAN, DIE (1996) - 5


Monday, March 13, 2017

The Bloody Pit #51 - Godzilla Talk!


A few months ago our regular correspondent Jason Spear wrote in and, among other things, started a chat about fandom. This conversation became a much larger thing than we thought it would and expanded with other listeners chiming in to add their opinions to an already heated topic. When Jason realized that his off-the-cuff remarks had spawned a discussion that painted his comments in a dark light he felt the need to clarify what he meant. So, we decided to craft an entire episode around a discussion of fandom, Godzilla and just what it means to be wary of disrespectful filmgoers.

This is an odd show for us as there is no single film that we talk about for the length of the episode even if we do spend a long time on SHIN GODZILLA (2016). Indeed, there is a lot of Godzilla talk (hence the title) with much love expressed for the Big G and his costars. Of course, this being a show with Rod and Troy hosting there are a number of tangents starting with general bitching about late-era Bruno Mattei films. And there are few things funnier (or sadder, really) than Jason's tales of bad luck with crappy audiences in movie theaters. But, happily, he also has many stories of his journeys to Japan and his visits to a number of cultural landmarks that only genre fans or small  children would give the first damn about! Giant Gundam suits should be stationed everywhere, in my opinion.

If you want to add your voice to the conversation about what we discuss or anything else please write us at thebloodypit@gmail.com or join us over on the FaceBook page for the show. Thanks for downloading and listening. 







Saturday, March 11, 2017

2017 - The Year of Paul Naschy Blu-Rays - continued!

Adding to the incredible list of Paul Naschy titles that are slated to come to Blu-Ray soon are three high profile films from Code Red! No details have been released about these discs as yet but the possibilities for extras are immense considering that a few of the cast members are still around to interview - paging Jack Taylor

Of course, for me the best news is that my beloved THE MUMMY'S REVENGE (1975) is one of the three movies on the way. This is one of my favorite of Naschy's films and I think that if more people see it that it's reputation will grow to match it's high level of quality. It really is exceptional! 

And what can any fan say about FURY OF THE WOLFMAN (1972) that won't sound like a spurned lover making excuses for why it was best for both parties to separate? This mad, messed up tale of lycanthropy and mad science is a true 'must be seen to be believed' piece of Spanish Horror and I can only hope that they are able to include the two different versions for comparison and study. Just the idea of being able to see this in high definition is mind bending! 


Friday, March 10, 2017

2017 - The Year of Paul Naschy Blu-Rays!


When we learned a few months ago that Mondo Macabro was going to be releasing two of Paul Naschy's more obscure films to Blu-Ray it was fantastic news. We have been doing the NaschyCast for seven years and one of our constant hopes was that his work would be made available on video again in some format. Last year's Blu-Ray of COUNT DRACULA'S GREAT LOVE was a massive step forward and with Mondo Macabro putting out INQUISITION and EL CAMINANTE the feeling among Naschy fans was that we might soon see more of his horror films soon. 

Boy, were we right! 

News came down just last week that Scream Factory will in June be releasing a huge Naschy set of some of his best work. Here - I'll let the Scream Factory info tell all

Synopsis

Paul Naschy (born Jacinto Molina Álvarez) was Spain's answer to Lon Chaney. He has portrayed many classic monsters – the Wolfman, Frankenstein's monster, Count Dracula, the Mummy and more. He was not only a terrific actor, but an accomplished writer, producer and director. This Blu-ray box set includes five stellar films from his long and distinguished career.

VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES
High Definition 1080p (1.33:1)/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono Castalian/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono English Dub/1972/Color/Not Rated/90 minutes
Complete Uncut Version
In Castilian with English Subtitles and English Dub
U.S. Theatrical Trailer
Spanish Credit Sequence
Alternate Clothed Sequences

HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB
High Definition 1080p (1.85:1)/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono Castalian/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono English Dub/1972/Color/Not Rated/89 minutes
Complete Uncut Version
In Castilian with English Subtitles and English Dub
U.S. Theatrical Trailer
Spanish Credit Sequence
Alternate Clothed Sequences

BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL
High Definition 1080p (1.33:1)/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono Castalian/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono English Dub/1973/Color/Not Rated/90 minutes
Complete Uncut Version
In Castilian with English Subtitles and English Dub
U.S. Theatrical Trailer
Spanish Credit Sequence

NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF
High Definition 1080p (1.85:1)/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono Castalian/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono English Dub/1980/Color/Not Rated/93 minutes
Complete Uncut Version
In Castilian with English Subtitles and English Dub
Deleted Scenes
U.S. Theatrical Trailer
Spanish Credit Sequence

HUMAN BEASTS
High Definition 1080p (1.85:1)/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono Castalian/DTS-HD Master Audio Mono English Dub/1980/Color/Not Rated/84 minutes
Complete Uncut Version
In Castilian with English Subtitles and English Dub
Spanish Theatrical Trailer

This was beyond our wildest fantasies of what we might be able to get! And I hear rumblings that there will be other extras announced before too long! Who knows what might happen if this set does well? Might there be even more of Naschy's amazing films on the horizon? Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

SPECTRAL (2016)


I was curious about this NetFlix produced military/SF/horror film for many reasons, not the least of which is that if it was well done perhaps the SyFy stink could be removed from non-theatrical science fiction films. From what I've seen of the clutter of SyFy style movies this is a cut above them but not by much and not by enough.

The film's story seems cobbled together from elements of several other movies but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. If a film is clever enough it can combine ideas from various sources and magic them into something new and exciting. Unfortunately SPECTRAL falls somewhere in the middle of that scale never fully making me forget that it just isn't very original or all that good.


The film's biggest problem is that it tells a pretty straightforward tale but keeps tripping itself up with the details. During a war in a generic eastern European city American soldiers equipped with fancy goggles begin to spot what look like ghosts in the ruins of the destroyed buildings. These human shaped things can kill with a touch and are soon presenting a major problem for the military. The inventor of the goggles is brought into the warzone to attempt to explain what is happening and things escalate into a slaughter and then a siege. The cast is good and everyone is doing their level best to bring seriousness and solidity to the story but, much like the titular creatures, the plot becomes hazy and transparent. The film never clearly establishes a sense of paranoia about the creatures, so the characters only seem worried about being attacked when the plot calls for it. Instead, these people should be terrified all the time that these monsters that can walk through walls might be anywhere at any time. Also, at first the 'ghosts' can only be seen through the goggles and then when a special light is shined on them but the movie abandons this conceit several times for either a cool image or to have someone react in fear. This lack of consistency really irked me.


James Badge Dale as the inventor is very good and it's a shame to see him waste his efforts on this poorly scripted film. It really is the script that is the trouble here. The visuals are mostly excellent but the story is half-baked nonsense requiring multiple leaps of logic that are laughable. Making things worse is dialog that never rises above serviceable and often becomes pathetically silly. Excellent character actor Bruce Greenwood is given a speech before the final assault that is supposed to be a rousing call to arms but is so badly written it becomes embarrassing. Indeed, the film is so badly written that for the last half of the running time fully 50% of the dialog has been replaced after the fact. There is so much overdubbing that I started to think the entire streaming movie had gone out of sync with the soundtrack. It took a few minutes to realize that someone was trying to fix the bad script in the editing room. They failed.

SPECTRAL isn't a terrible movie but it is a missed opportunity to make a really good one. I enjoyed it for the visuals and the actions sequences but that's about all. It looks good, though, and I hope everyone was well paid. 


Tuesday, March 07, 2017

They're Made Out of Meat!



Every now and then you just need a funny science fiction short film based on a great short story. 

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Random Barbarian Poster Art








Friday, March 03, 2017

DC announces Looney Tunes crossover specials!







Thursday, March 02, 2017

DARKMAN II: THE RETURN OF DURANT (1995) and DARKMAN III: DIE, DARKMAN, DIE (1996)


Because the great podcast Cinema Psyops recently covered all three DARKMAN films I decided to revisit the direct to video sequels. I certainly hadn't seen them in over twenty years and was looking forward to peeking back to this little superhero cul-de-sac to see if the films held up as anything more than wastes of time. Knowing that that have been no attempts to do more with the franchise in over two decades I expected to find both films to be disappointing. And, of course, knowing that they were cheaply made and only released to video dialed down my expectations as well. Luckily, I found the films to be very entertaining. Neither of them are classics of the genre and they certainly don't measure up to the nasty but fun original but, for what the are, they are solid little films.

The first of these sequels is the better of the two even if it requires the viewer to believe the impossibility that somehow Robert Durant survived the helicopter explosion of the first film. I'm willing to go along with this bit of silliness because it allows the excellent Larry Drake to return in the role and chew scenery like a mad dog. If the movie had been nothing but Drake disciplining his henchmen and making evil plans for 90 minutes I would have had just as much fun. It really is a joy to watch him sling his large vocabulary and perfect diction around as if words were weapons capable of severing fingers and crushing obstacles. Happily the film also offers up a lot of well done action and enough explosions to make Michael Bay smile. Even the switching of lead performer from Liam Neeson to Arnold Vosloo is handled well and Vosloo does a good job of owning the role of crime fighting mad scientist. 


The third film is less fun but still well done. The villain is played well by Jeff Fahey and, although he is good, the character has much less panache than Durant and therefore is less interesting. With this film it was clear that they were setting up a structure for the series if it were to continue. Darkman would continue to hunt for a way to permanently repair his damaged face and hands, be thwarted by criminal scum and then be forced to destroy said scum by either his incredible rage or in order to save innocent people. Much more has been made from much less. Our hero now has a cool underground lair accessible by converted rail-car in which he conducts his experiments to create artificial skin. To fund his work he ventures out at night, slaps criminals around and steals their money which strikes me as the perfect modus operandi for a vigilante superhero.

Although the first film remains easily the best of this trilogy I was glad to see that the entire series is pretty good stuff. I suppose the rentals on these two DTV films weren't good enough to make Universal finance more and that's a shame. I could have happily watched another six of these movies over the next five years but it seems that Darkman is fated to be one of those forgotten franchises. 

Maybe I should look into the comic books that were produced with the character?