Saturday, June 30, 2018
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Monday, June 25, 2018
The actual story begins with archaeologist Dr. Roger Bentley (John Agar) working on a dig somewhere in Asia. (That's as specific as the film gets!) He and his team find a tablet fragment with indications of Sumerian origins. After a small earthquake they are shown an unearthed ancient oil lamp found at the base of a local mountain. Convinced of the possibility of a major find, Bentley and Dr. Jud Bellamin (Hugh Beaumont) mount an expedition to the mountain's summit. After much stock climbing footage — shades of 1951's Lost Continent! — they reach a high plateau scattered with crumbling Sumerian buildings. When a member of the team falls into a deep crevasse the men descend into the mountain and make the archaeological discovery of the century: a living Sumerian settlement cut off from the world for thousands of years! Amazingly the inhabitants have survived through the ages and maintained their culture and history. Most of the population has become albino, with extremely pale skin and a high sensitivity to bright light, while some have 'devolved' into hideous mole-like humanoids. These Mole Men are used as slave labor and are treated horribly by their masters.
Silly, cheesy fun from start to finish, The Mole People never resembles anything close to reality. When our heroes encounter the Sumerians there is a very quick nod to Agars' ability to speak the (very dead) language but then all the other members of the party suddenly can as well. The mole men are treated as beasts and constantly beaten but never use their digging ability to escape their cruel masters. And of course, isn't Agar lucky to run across that incredibly rare 'normal' girl to romance and rescue? But with all the crazed fun this film offers it is Agar's character that gives the film its entertaining highlights. Arrogant almost to the point of annoyance, Bentley is so forward in the first third of the movie that it felt like he'd be the villain of the story. A pushy, arrogant ass, he really seems to be the guy most likely to get a harsh comeuppance until the final third when he slides jarringly into hero mode. I love the fact that the Sumerians mistaken assumption of divine powers meshed so well with Bentley's character. It didn't take much for him to start acting like a deity. I'm surprised his swelled head didn't give off a radiance of its own!
Adding to the strangeness on display is some of the dumbest dialog of any film of the period, with Agar getting the lion's share. That he was able to utter lines like "In archaeology all things are possible" with a straight face shows real acting skill. I love that someone asked an actor to say, "The thing that impresses me the most is the complete and utter silence — you can almost hear it." I live for this kind of wackiness.
In the right frame of mind The Mole People is a blast and while never actually good, it still stands as a great example of the qualities fans love about '50s science fiction movies. It's very well produced, with all the right elements to make it a fun Saturday afternoon matinee. I love this film the way you love a not too bright pet that might chew up your shoes but is simply too cute to strangle. They don't make them like this any more... And maybe that's a good thing.
Now- Bring on the Blu-Ray!
Friday, June 22, 2018
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
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
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)
TEEN TITANS: THE JUDAS CONTRACT (2017) - 7
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!)
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018) - 8
THE RITUAL (2017) - 8 (strong monster tale)
PRINCE OF THE CITY (1981) - 8
WAR OF THE PLANETS (1965) - 4 (rewatch)
BLACK FRIDAY (1964) - 6 (rewatch)
BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA (1973) - 8 (rewatch)
MUTE (2018)- 7 (Duncan Jones has too many ideas here, but still well done)
PHANTOM FROM SPACE (1953) - 3
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
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Monday, June 11, 2018
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
Direct Download MP3 LINK
Thursday, June 07, 2018
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
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
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
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!