Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Why Do I Keep Watching ZOMBIE 3 (1988)?

Over the past 20 years I have watched  this particular film  at least half a dozen times. I have no defendable excuse for this fact because there is no good reason to watch it more than once - Ya know- for the experience!  So there is no good reason to own Zombie 3 on Blu-ray. In fact, there is no reason for Zombie 3 to even exist on Blu Ray. It is without a doubt one of the worst examples of zombie cinema made before the advent of cheap digital photography. It has a terrible script, awful acting, crappy sets, awful makeup effects, depressingly stupid ideas and a total lack of intelligence. For roughly 85% of its running time it is a nonsensical ramble thought half-formed scenarios that go nowhere. It is without a doubt one of the worst horror films I have ever watched more than once. The fact that I have to express my feelings in these particular terms will show you just how sick a horror fan I am.

So, why do I own it on Blu-ray?

Two reasons, I guess.

One is that clearly I'm a sucker. There's a part of me that seriously hopes that one day I will watch a horror film that I think of as absolutely terrible and find hidden depths or buried qualities that I was just too youthful or inexperience to discern on previous viewings. Sometimes it happens. Not often anymore, but sometimes it does and so hope springs eternal.

The second reason is that I am an incredible sucker in another way which might be worse. If there is a brand new sparkling HD edition of even a film as marginal and bad as Zombie 3 it can draw me in. Usually it's with the idea that somehow just being able to see the image more clearly may make me appreciate the film more. That has rarely happened but I can't stop thinking down that deadly path. So, Severin got me to pony up for their new Blu-Ray of this awful movie. I'm such a sucker!

Should I also admit that I bought their Blu of ZOMBIE 4 as well? How much shame can one man bear?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

What I Watched in May

ISLE OF DOGS (2018) is director Wes Anderson's second stop motion animated feature. It's a fanciful dystopian tale set in a future Japan where evil corporate interests work hand-in-glove with a compliant government to do away with all canine pet life in the country. The pets aren't euthanized - thank goodness - but are sent off instead to live on Trash Island. Those hearing overtones of Monster Island from Toho's Godzilla features would not be wrong in surmising a few of the themes played out in this wonderful and amusing film. I'm sure for some this film will be a bit too twee, as are all of Wes Anderson's films. But if you're on it's wavelength this really is a joy. The director's whimsical approach to storytelling is not for everyone so your mileage may vary.

As the culmination of several years of careful build up AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018) had to do a lot of things. It had to take all the pieces laid out in over a dozen previous movies, meld them into a coherent story and then craft its own tale smartly enough to allow those who might have skipped a couple of Marvel movies to follow everything as well. Luckily the head writers of the cinematic universe have done their jobs expertly giving us an exciting and emotional superhero film that – even though it ends on an extreme down note – still feels exuberant in the right ways. The hard work of establishing the huge roster of characters has been done leaving the filmmakers the chance to build a series of escalating action scenes that bring the heroes to their knees. I was impressed that they found a way to make each fight a different kind of visual treat. In a movie with so many battles it would have been easy to fall into the trap of having them all feel too similar but they did not. I think it’s because each fight has not just different participants but also a very different goal. Each action scene felt necessary to drive the story and each was interesting in a fresh way. Other than the sheer exceptional confidence needed to pull off this project what may be the film’s most extraordinary accomplishment is that, by the end, you have some sympathy for the villain and his goal. Is it time for a philosophical paper on the war of ideas at the heart of an Avengers movie?

I was not on board with DEADPOOL 2 (2018) for the first fifteen minutes or so. The tone was the same as the jokey original but there is a death in the first section that seemed so odd that I assumed that it would become a joke as well. Since the movie up to this character’s demise had been filled with dozens of comedic deaths I thought that this one would be presented as some kind of elaborate fake-out leading to another joke. But as the story finally kicked into gear and I realized that this particular death was to be the motivating force for Deadpool it finally sank in that this one was real. Until the comedic ending post-credits that seems to reverse it. I think. Hard to tell, really. But once I caught the flow of things I really enjoyed this R rated ride and, in some ways, even more than the first. There’s a lot of creativity onscreen and it breezes along splendidly.


ISLE OF DOGS (2018) - 7
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1980) -6 (rewatch)
THE SURVIVOR (1980) - 6
SEX & FURY (1973) - 8 (rewatch)
KONGA (1961) - 5 (rewatch)
THE HATCHET MAN (1932) - 6 (Edward G. Robinson as a Chinese assassin!)
THE RITUAL (2017) - 8 (strong monster tale)
WAR OF THE PLANETS (1965) - 4 (rewatch)
BLACK FRIDAY (1964) - 6 (rewatch)
MUTE (2018)- 7 (Duncan Jones has too many ideas here, but still well done)
DEADPOOL 2 (2018) - 8
JUPITER'S DARLING (1953) - 6 (silly, fun musical with Ester Williams)
THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD (1952) - 8 (excellent Disney version)
DICK TRACY (1945) - 5 (rewatch)
THE SON OF ROBIN HOOD (1958) - 4 (pretty blah adventure with a weak script)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Mexican Vampire Cinema: A Brief History

This is the first episode in a fantastic series on ...well... Mexican Vampire Cinema! I was alerted to it by Steve Sullivan and it deserves to be much better known. Check it out! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Images from Wonderfest 2018's Model Show!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr. and Vampira on The Red Skelton Show!

I never thought I'd see this! Made famous in Tim Burton's film of ED WOOD here is the actual scene in which Lugosi becomes flustered with Skelton's ad-libs. Fascinating! 

Friday, June 08, 2018

The Bloody Pit #69 - BLACK FRIDAY (1940)

This month Troy and I return to our new series focused on the Universal Horror films of the 1940's. In fact, we leap to April 12th of 1940 for the release of the second such feature of the decade, BLACK FRIDAY. We were reticent to cover this one as neither of us had great memories of it even though it stars two of our favorite horror actors. This has always seemed the weakest of the Karloff and Lugosi pairings at Universal so talking about a low point for them felt like a bad idea. But, in the end, the chance to finally talk about those two screen greats was too enticing for us to pass up so we dove in to see what we would find on a return visit to the University of Newcastle.

We discuss the genesis of the script and it's original title including some information about writer Curt Siodmak's reuse of this story's central brain swapping premise. (Gotta cover Donovan's Brain someday!) Director Arthur Lubin's career gets some love with the tale of his history with Lugosi playing a part in how he handled the film. Karloff's incredible wardrobe is a constant topic of wonder as I ponder how much of the production's meager budget was spent keeping him looking so cool. And, obviously, the subject of the last minute casting change is discussed with reference to both Greg Mank's book 'Karloff & Lugosi: The Story of a Haunting Collaboration' and 'Universal Horrors: The Studio's Classic Films 1931-1946' by Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas and John Brunas. We are indebted to those fine books for our understanding of the production and it's background.

Near the end of the show we get to read out an email sent in by a listener with some comments and questions. If you want to do the same please write us at where we'll try to get back to you quickly. We love getting show ideas from people that enjoy what we're doing since it usually points us into areas we haven't considered for years. This episode closes with a pretty obvious song choice but it's Lugosi that has the last word. Thanks for downloading and listening!

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Thursday, June 07, 2018

Brief Thoughts - THE SON OF ROBIN HOOD (1959)

My recent search for lesser known Robin Hood films turned up this little-seen effort from 20th Century Fox. After the high of the excellent Disney version from 1952 I was perhaps a but too enthusiastic for the lower level of quality present here. Indeed, this film is pretty lame overall with only a few points of interest for adventure fans.  

This story tales place several years after the death of Robin Hood with the aged remainder of his band of men waiting for the arrival of his twenty year old offspring. It seems the people of Sherwood Forest need a new leader because another oppressive ruler, Duke Simon Des Roches, has begun abusing his power. It is felt that a shot of the olde Hood spirit is just the right thing to set things right but a problem arises when it turns out that the child of Robin is of the wrong gender! Whoops! What else can be done other than enlist a strapping young lad with a desire for revenge against the Duke to impersonate Deering Hood and lead the new Merry men to victory.

This is a pretty weak film with a tired script and not much in the way of thrills. There are a number of swordfight scenes but almost all are sub-par with little skill on display in either the fighting or the action choreography. David Hedison plays the rogue pressed into service as the Son of Robin Hood and it's interesting to see him post-THE FLY (1958) playing a dashing hero, even if he (wisely) doesn't attempt a British accent. But the movie is uninteresting with very little depth given to the characters and only one really exciting villain.

The DVD 20th Century Fox has issued of the film doesn't help elevate it's few qualities. The movie is presented full frame chopping off huge amounts of information on both sides of the Cinemascope image. Adding to this insult is the fact that film is in desperate need of a remaster and clean up as well. The colors are faded and the print looks dull and muted. I don't know if a better looking version of THE SON OF ROBIN HOOD would make it more interesting but it certainly couldn't hurt. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

SUSPIRIA (2018) Trailer

I still can't understand why a filmmaker would set themselves up for the beating they will inevitable take for remaking a beloved classic of the genre. BUT - this trailer looks interesting, fresh and as if the creators have found a way to build something new on old bones. I am now curious to see this as soon as possible. 

Sunday, June 03, 2018

The Fantastic Films of Vincent Price #87 - EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)

In the final episode of this great series Dr. Gangrene takes a look at the last three film Mr. Price made - with emphasis on the big Tim Burton movie, of course! 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD (1952) - Disney Tackles the Legend

I love Robin Hood films. One of my favorite movies of all time is the 1938 Warner Brothers movie THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD starring Errol Flynn in the title role. It's a bona fide classic with great action, fantastic dialog, wonderful characters and a take on the legend that presents events in a clever way. Until several years ago I had rarely bothered with other cinematic versions of the story as they inevitably fell victim to problems that hamstringed them in some way. Sometimes the problem was bad casting (Kevin Costner, anyone?) or having nearly an hour chopped out of the full-length running time (1991's John Irving directed film). But often these films are simply guilty of not matching the high quality of the Flynn film or even the excellent (if overlong) 1922 silent version with Douglas Fairbanks. They might be good but they're not great.

Enter THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD (1952)! I recorded this film out of general curiosity a few months ago when Turner Classic Movies was screening a night of Disney features and I finally watched it last week. Wow! Where has this film been all my life?

In a lot of ways this is a typical Disney feature of the period in that plenty of money was lavished upon it giving it high production values and the look of a lush, well made film. Everything about it looks textured and detailed, colorful and alive. The film has real energy and in the high-def print used by TCM it popped off the screen for the entire running time. This isn't a half-assed attempt to do a new telling of the legend. This is a full-blooded Robin Hood adventure story with its own particular take on the events we all know from previous films. The script is tightly constructed and juggles around some of the relationships and backgrounds of characters in a way that I found absolutely fascinating. It switches the noble birth from Robin Hood to Maid Marian positioning Robin as an upstart commoner who was the subject of Marion's noble father. This puts a great spin on their relationship as younger people and their continuing and growing affection for each other as adults. It gives the relationship real depth without having to go into on-screen detail about what draws them to each other.

Some of the elements of the story that we know from previous films - especially the Flynn version - are shuffled about and placed in different spots to keep you guessing. If you're coming to this one expecting a replay of the 1938 film you will have some fun surprises. For instance, the archery contest involves not just Robin but his father and is placed very early in the story. It's used to establish not just the main character's bow skills but the methods by which Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham build their personal army of tax collectors. Great stuff! If I had one complaint about the film it's that I would have wished for a little bit more swordplay. This has nothing like the excellent sword fight between Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone in the '38 film but things are so well paced  that it didn't occur to me while watching - only afterward. And the very good songs that are played by the travelling bard add a lot of joy to the entire thing as well. I can see why there was a soundtrack LP released at the time although I suspect that these tunes are the direct inspiration for the Brave Sir Robin songs in MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975).

After thoroughly enjoying THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD I thought it would be nice to add it to my collection. I looked around online and discovered that it was not available to buy on Blu-Ray. At all. A quick look at the Wiki page for the movie revealed that it has never been released on Blu-Ray and on DVD only on a limited Disney Movie Club DVD offering in 2006! What the hell? This is a great film ripe for a new audience to discover and Disney is just letting it sit there? Somebody needs to start a petition, now for a Blu-Ray release as I doubt the old DVD looks very good these days. Or TCM needs to show it a couple of times a year.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

BLACK FRIDAY (1940) Poster Art and Lobby Cards


Podcast coming soon for this one! 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Brief Thoughts - PRINCE OF THE CITY (1981)

I've known about PRINCE OF THE CITY (1981) since it was released. I remember the fanfare surrounding it specifically because of the lead performance by Treat Williams. At the time he was being touted as a probable Oscar nominee for the film and much attention was paid to him because of the expected attention this film would bring. This supposed star making role was talked about in the press with comparisons being made to Pacino and Deniro. Then the film was released, flopped and those wild speculations about Treat becoming another big dramatic actor screen presence faded. Williams went on to a solid but unimpressive career as a jobbing actor taking roles where he could in movies and television.

Now that I've finally seen PRINCE OF THE CITY (1981) I can understand why the film didn't do so well and why it's lead actor might not have blown people away. The film is a strong Sidney Lumet crime story based on real events with two major flaws. The first is that it's nearly three hours long. Although I was never bored while watching this on a recent Friday evening, it did feel a little overlong by about the two hour mark. Lumet was a master filmmaker, he has plenty of story to tell and he handles things well but it's just too long.

The other flaw is Treat Williams' much anticipated performance. I have to admit that I've never found Mr. Williams to be a particularly strong screen actor. I think he is competent but mannered and stiff. Here he advances his emotional arc within a scene far too quickly in some very important moments crippling his character's intent. The first time I noticed this was when he is explaining to two Internal Investigators why he is going to help them take down crooked cops. He goes from normal to frenzied with nearly no warning making it difficult for me to know if he was being honest with the IA cops or leading them on with a line of bull. He is actually sincere but this problem with him making emotional leaps with no subtly happens repeatedly in the movie. By the third one I realized that he was doing something that might have worked better on the stage but with the intimacy of film it comes off as phony.

Overall I think PRINCE OF THE CITY is a very good film but it has a critical weakness at it's center. That makes it a failed classic but a still worthy effort.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

DRACULA A.D. 2015 - Hammer Film Tribute

In this homage to Hammer Films, a group of college students accidentally resurrect Count Dracula from the grave. Of course, he then proceeds to wreak havoc on their University with all the expected blood and horror.
Written, Produced and Directed by Joshua Kennedy.

Friday, May 25, 2018

BLACK FRIDAY (1940) on YouTube!

We live in incredible times! Here is the final Karloff & Lugosi Universal horror film just sitting there on Youtube for free! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Bloody Pit #68 - SEX & FURY (1973)

SEX & FURY (1973) is more properly known as 'Story of Delinquent Female Boss: Ocho' and is a prime example of the Pinky Violence genre. Although Troy and I are both curious about this strange Japanese variation on the revenge film we have had very little exposure to it. Luckily our occasional podcasting buddy Jason chose this fine period action tale to cover giving us the opportunity to dig into one of the best of the type. I guess you could say we came for the naked swordfight and stayed for the compelling story of intertwining vengeance plots.

The film stars two of the most recognizable female leads of violent cinema circa the early 1970's. The first is Japanese actress Reiko Ike as the titular Ocho. As the movie begins in 1905 she is a woman seeking three people responsible for the murder of her father decades before. She is getting closer and now knows that each one has an identifiable animal tattoo that will point her to the guilty parties. Adding to the complexities is American gambler and spy Christina (played by Swedish beauty Christina Lindberg) who is being forced by her military controller to push Japan into a second Opium War. But Christina is conflicted because her actions might cause her Japanese lover to be killed as he carries out his quest to assassinate a nasty politician. Confused yet? Wait until you hear us take a dozen sidetracks as we go through this one!

The show can be found at The Bloody Pit of Rod or on iTunes or Stitcher. If you have any comments the show's email address is and we'd love to hear what you have to say. Thank you for downloading and listening!  

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Brief Thoughts - PHANTOM FROM SPACE (1953)

Each time I think that I've seen every 1950's science fiction or monster movie one pops up that reminds me that I still have not.

I know I've seen the poster art and the title of PHANTOM FROM SPACE (1953) for years and I think I've gotten it mixed up with the film KILLERS FROM SPACE (1954). That means that for a long time I thought that I knew this film and was avoiding a rewatch. Instead it turns out that I had never seen PHANTOM FROM SPACE until last night. It was a slow night!

After the first few minutes I realized how exciting it was to discover a science fiction / horror movie from 1953 that I haven't seen yet. Twenty minutes later I realized that I really regretted having finally located this film. I'm sure there are fans of this one out there and more power to you if that is the case. But I have to say that this dull 74 minutes was nearly unendurable. If it wasn't for the fact that I was watching with someone else who joined me in poking fun at the oddities that are part of the film I don't know that I would have made it through in one sitting. Sometimes having a movie buddy will get you through something much faster and with much less pain. The film feels painfully drawn out to feature length with several scenes of people standing around and regurgitating information we already know. Then they sit around smoking and discussing the things we already know. Maybe just to make sure the audience knows it? Maybe.

Needless to say PHANTOM FROM SPACE is an interesting curio from the early 50's independently produced science fiction film genre but it's an awfully slow affair. It was fascinating to wallow in the idiosyncratic elements of the film that are attributable to the period when it was made (see all of the smoking, all of the time) but there's just so little here of interest that there's no way I could ever recommend it for anything other than a group of people wanting to get drunk and joke around. If there are fans of this movie out there, please let me know what  I missed. But otherwise I doubt I'll be revisiting this long slog sober again in my lifetime. I usually love 1950's SF but this needed to be about 20 minutes shorter.

I do like the poster art though.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Music Video for THE CREEPING CRUDS - I Eats The Dead

New music from Nashville's own Creeping Cruds! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

1950's Monster Movie Poster Art