Saturday, May 18, 2019

Songs in the Key of WTF

The great Kimberly Lindbergs penned a blog entry over at FilmStuck in 2011 that I only now discovered. She points readers toward a fascinating book on a truly bizarre subject - celebrity records! This was a phenomenon of decades past in which a television or film actor would be convinced to record an album of music to cash in on their fame. These were usually disasters - artist failures of epic proportions that embarrassed the actor and delighted the fan of huge entertainment mistakes. Depending on your taste or ability to absorb the stranger end of recorded music you might enjoy this article and the music she introduces. Here are a few of my favorite examples -








Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes Poster Art












Monday, May 13, 2019

The Bloody Pit #85 - HORROR ISLAND (1941)


HORROR ISLAND (1941) is one of the 1940's Universal horror films that gets very little attention. The main reason for this it that it does not feature any of the big horror stars the studio created in the 30's or even an actor from the 40's that went on to larger acclaim inside the genre. Although it reteams the male and female leads from THE MUMMY'S HAND (1940), playing essentially the same roles they enacted so well in that film, it seems that Universal didn't even bother to make note of the fact to ballyhoo this picture. Another thing working against it is the movie's lack of a monster of any kind. It sports a 'phantom' but beyond looking vaguely like The Shadow the character offers little in the way of classic chills to entice the thrill seeking crowd. So, what does HORROR ISLAND offer instead? A fog-bound castle off the coast of Florida, a cast of mildly interesting victims and a hunt for hidden pirate treasure are the ingredients tossed about by the script. It's all a bit light and silly but does this under seen film deliver the goods? 

Once I'm finished babbling about the DC Comics animated films for video Troy and I discuss the film's comedic tone, creepy setting and it's stalk & kill plotline while marveling at the cast. Where else are you going to see the classic western sidekick actor Fuzzy Knight running around a gothic castle? We talk about the production history, the sick day that cost the film it's final scene and the clever use of left over sets. There is some examination of the idea of how difficult it would be to quickly get in and out of a suit of medieval armor and we wonder about well timed crossbow bolts. This is a movie that throws a lot of things at the wall and not all of them stick.

We close the show with two excellent messages from listeners. If you would like to send us your thoughts the show can be reached at thebloodypit@gmail.com where we'd be thrilled to hear from you. Thank you for listening to the show. Please share it with others that might like what we do!

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MP3 Download LINK 





Saturday, May 11, 2019

What I Watched In April


I will always wish that Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman had gotten a shot at completing a trilogy Of Hellboy films. The fact that they only got two in a series will go down as one of the great crimes of fantasy and comic book cinema so, I was a little reluctant to give this new film a chance. I'm not necessarily against a new vision of a solid property being attempted but I was concerned about this one. Indeed stories of a troubled production certainly made me worried that this film was not going to be very good. And I would be lying if I said that it wasn't obvious that there were production woes when you see this picture. Everything seems to flow pretty well until the third act and then there are a lot of things that are left dangling with some pieces that are oddly fit into place. In fact, some of it feels a bit more rushed than it probably should have been with some details getting left to the side.

But the strange thing is that I actually pretty much enjoyed this version of Hellboy. It's never going to supplant the two Del Toro pictures in my heart but even with all my reservations walking into the theater I found myself really enjoying this slightly harsher, much more R-rated version of the Hellboy Mythos. I especially like the fact that they managed to incorporate one of my favorite stories from the initial run of Hellboy - The Wild Hunt - into this film. Also, I'm very happy with the way the film revisits Hellboy's origin so that we get Lobster Johnson thrown into the mix. Having that character pop up onscreen for the first time is an absolute joy. So this isn't an out of the park homerun but I have to admit this film found a way to be a solid triple. To shame that it's a big box office failure because I actually wouldn't mind seeing a sequel to it or maybe even two. Seems that no matter what happens Hellboy is a bit of a doomed franchise.


I went to see THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA (2019) without realizing that it was connected to the larger CONJURING universe. I've seen a few of the CONJURING films and for the most part have enjoyed them, so knowing this was part of that larger world wouldn't have kept me from going. The good news is that if you're curious about this movie you don't really need to know anything about the other movies in this very loose series to understand it. Just go in knowing that it takes place in the 1970's and that this time period has absolutely nothing to do with anything that happens within the body of the film. That's actually one of the stranger things about this movie for me is that it's time setting really serves very little function within the story itself. In fact, this pleasantly short and to the point little horror movie is sadly only fitfully interesting. Luckily, it never really gets boring either. It's not a good film and it's not a bad film but it has enough points of interest for a genre fan to recommend it to other genre fans. The script doesn't do anything very interesting with the legendary curse of the Crying Woman that the story plays with and its treatment of the curse is rather shallow, but the movie is entertaining enough if your baseline is don't bore me and don't keep me in the damn theater seat too long.

I can compliment the film for something other than its brevity - the cinematography is phenomenal. The best thing, in my opinion, about this film actually is its excellent cinematography followed by its really sharp sound design. This is a beautiful looking, well-lit, shadowy, creepy film that is coupled with a very textured audio mix to make this one of the better-looking and sounding horror films of the past few years. The movie only has one really good standout performance and that's the central role of the working mom played by Linda Cardellini, an actress I'm beginning to wish had more time on screen in cinemas. She's very good but sadly the script gives only her anything interesting to do occasionally. All the other characters might have had a better chance at some quality acting time but either their abilities aren't there or the script isn't interested. So not a bad little movie; not a particularly good little movie, but it's okay.

THE LIST 

THE BEAST AND THE MAGIC SWORD  (1983) - 7 (rewatch) 
TERROR IS A MAN (1959) - 8 (rewatch) 
JESSE JAMES VS THE DALTONS (1954) - 5 
JIGOKU (a.k.a. HELL) (1961) - 8 (surreal Japanese horror) 
GREASE 2 (1982) - 4 
MASTERSON OF KANSAS (1954) - 7
THE TORTURE CHAMBER OF DR. SADISM (1967) - 6 (rewatch on Blu) 
CURSE OF THE VAMPIRES (1966) - 5 (slowly paced Pilipino horror tale)
THE CRIME DOCTOR (1943) - 7 (rewatch)  
HELLBOY (2019) - 7 
THE UNDYING MONSTER (1942) - 6 (rewatch on Blu) 
THE THING (1951) - 9 (rewatch on Blu) 
THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA (2019) - 5 
THE BASTARD (1968) - 7 (fascinating Euro-Crime) 
BLACK DRAGONS (1942) - 4 (rewatch)(interesting but terrible Poverty Row Lugosi film) 
AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019) - 8 
KING RICHARD AND THE CRUSADERS (1954) - 8 
DOCTOR BLOOD'S COFFIN (1961) - 6 (rewatch on Blu) 

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Paul Naschy Poster Art!

















Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Images from KING KONG (1933)










This film is never far from my mind. 


Sunday, May 05, 2019

Los Straitjackets Play the Theme From HALLOWEEN (1978)



Shot from the club's audience floor but it makes me wish October was already here! 

Saturday, May 04, 2019

STAR WARS Day 2019


I'm pretty sure I was ten when I saw STAR WARS (1977) for the first time and that is probably the right age to have it enter your life. I was a young lad living in rural Tennessee and getting to a movie theater was difficult to the point of frustration. I think the film had been out for months if not a year by the time I finally was taken to see it, but by then I was already familiar with the story. In 1977 I had bought a paperback copy of the novelization and devoured this tale of science fantasy adventure in much the same way I devoured Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter novels or Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories. The experience of seeing the film was life changing but not the way so many people seem to have had their sense of self altered by Star Wars. I loved it but I had so many other similar tales in my awareness that it was just another fun one. That this one got splashed across the big screen in the real world made it special but the screen in my head had so much more variety that competition was sharp for my love.


For a brief few years after the second film I thought that the series might become one of the greatest adventure stories of all time. The high quality of the script of Empire opened up the world giving the characters nuance and detail beyond the broad hero/villain outlines of the first movie. But then the third film came along with it's rehash of the first movie and made-for-toy-shelf characters and my enthusiasm was tempered again. Since then I've occasionally read some Star Wars fiction or comics that recapture the original feeling of wonder from when I was ten or twelve years old but it's still those first two movies that continue to do the trick.


Even after the horrible prequels and the weakly realized Disney follow up trilogy films I still enjoy those movies. I end up being able to enjoy new Star Wars films and tales only in that they find a way to rekindle the feeling of wide-eyed discovery I felt reading that novelization or seeing the first film. It's become something, for me, that causes nostalgia more than anything else. I guess that may have been the inevitable fate of a story originally conceived out of nostalgia for a man's childhood love of science fiction adventure stories. But it's a shame that there have been so few of the films since 1977 that have been able to make Star Wars more than what it's detractors said it was from the beginning - big budgeted children's scribbling. It's better than that but now it has become much more difficult to argue for the tale's higher qualities because you must start each defense with caveats about the obviously bad things attached to it. 


Thursday, May 02, 2019

HORROR ISLAND (1941) on YouTube!



This is the rarely seen and not often discussed Universal Horror film that Troy and I will be talking about in the next episode of The Bloody Pit.  This is the easiest way I know to catch the movie even if the DVD set it's included in is pretty darned cheap. Plus the DVD set has the next film we'll cover after this one too! 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

BLACK DRAGONS (1942)


It's hard to explain exactly why I am so fascinated by the Poverty Row horror film BLACK DRAGONS (1942). I first encountered it in an article I read in FilmFax magazine years before I was able to finally see it. FilmFax issue #30 featured an image of Bela Lugosi in a fedora on the cover mugging like he was in pain.


Inside was a feature article on this insane film that captured my imagination. Reading and rereading this piece made me so hungry to see the movie that it became a mildly unhealthy obsession. The article was very clear about the film's failings and even poked fun at some of the more embarrassing bits of dialogue. It pointed out that the plotting was clunky and made it very clear just how inept it was. In fact, it was made sure to detail the bizarre ways in which nearly everything in the damn thing makes no sense.

At barely an hour long it has such a confused story that it's almost impossible to accurately recount what happens. I suspect that there could be a fun parlor game of only allowing new viewers to see the first 20-minute segment (or actually any random 20 minutes section) and then ask them what they think the film will ultimately be about. I seriously doubt that anyone would be able to guess where things end up and I think we might have more party game fun just imagining the crazy films that people would imagine. They would probably be more entertaining then BLACK DRAGONS ends up being. Not that it's not an entertaining little mess!

Let me be clear -  I find this film completely fascinating in the same way that I find almost all of Bela Lugosi's poverty row horror films fascinating. It's illogical; it's silly as can be and because it's so short and because it features Lugosi it's kind of absorbing in just the same way as a slow motion car crash can be attention-grabbing. I know almost no one other than me is mesmerized by this film but if you've never seen it and you want to see something completely nuts - something that I guarantee will confuse and amuse - check out BLACK DRAGONS.




Sunday, April 28, 2019

Trailers From Hell - TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (1972)



Edgar Wright talks about his love for this amazing film and it's many titles. I've always preferred BAY OF BLOOD. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS (1957)


In BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS John Agar plays Steve March, a geologist working with his partner Dan (Robert Fuller) in the desert southwest. They’ve been getting odd fluctuating gamma radiation readings (!?) centered miles out in the desert and Steve insists they check it out. Once there they track the readings to a newly formed cave and are attacked by Gor-the titular brain from another world.


This evil alien kills Dan and possesses the body of Steve with the intention of using his incredible destructive mind powers to take over Earth, launch an invasion of his home planet and molest Steve’s fiancĂ© Sally (Joyce Meadows)- not necessarily in that order. Steve constantly tries to fight off Gor’s control to little effect but Sally and her father become very concerned about the spasms of pain that accompany his attempts. They ridiculously decide to travel to the desert cave and there discover Vol, another brain from Arous sent to recapture the fugitive Gor. Vol explains how to kill the mad brain and just before he’s able to take over the world Sally gets this information to Agar who takes an ax to the criminal cerebellum.


Almost too fun to be believed this is a classic so-bad-its-good movie. The story is incredible with characters doing hysterically illogical things simply to advance the plot. I’m still trying to figure out why a geologist would be given clearance to attend a major nuclear test or how (or why) geologists were monitoring ‘gamma radiation readings‘. But honestly the rest of the movie could be totally boring and would still be worth seeing for the insane final scene. The sight of John Agar ax-whacking an oversized brain dangling from clearly visible wires is one of the most hilarious things this side of PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE. The film had to be fun for Agar as well since he gets to play two roles- good guy and bad brain. He does a good job as both but it’s the evil moments that really shine. Rarely is he more entertaining than in the sequences in which he convinces assembled world representatives of his power and issues his mad orders complete with diabolical laughter. Brilliant! Highly recommended for these who like their popcorn movies spiced with cheese.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

ALIEN (1979) Poster Art









This month marks the 40th Anniversary of the release of the original film.