Monday, December 17, 2018

Marvel Comics Merry Christmas











Saturday, December 15, 2018

What I Watched in November


It may seems strange for me to say this, as I'm pretty upfront about my love of comic books, but I've never read a single issue of a Venom series. I've never even read an issue with the character guest-starring. I know where the black alien symbiotic life-form comes from because I was an avid Marvel fan in 1984-85 and read Secret Wars like the good little zombie I was. I know that at some point the alien grafted itself onto a new host (post Peter Parker) and was first a major villain but (as the character became popular) was turned into a hero. Of sorts. All of this happened in the 1990's when I was taking a long sabbatical from Marvel because I was tired of the latest X-Men spin-off/reboot/new direction/whatever sucking all the oxygen out of the entire line. So, I come to this new film with only the bad memory of SPIDER MAN 3 (2007) coloring my thoughts of what the character could be. This film had to be better than that tragic mess, right? Well........

VENOM (2018) is a stand alone off-shoot of the Sony Spider Man films. It doesn't seem to reference the other films in any way so it can be seen as a form of reboot, I suppose. I had some hopes for this to be a fun film based solely on the cast. I think Tom Hardy is a fantastic talent with natural screen charisma and Michelle Williams has never seemed less than letter perfect in any role she attempts. But, sadly, this film wastes them and their impressive efforts on a script that just cannot be bothered to generate much interest. The entire things feels artificial from the relationships, the plot and even the underlying ideas. Nothing seems to  fit together properly giving the story a disjointed feeling. It might as well be cobbled together from random issues of the Venom comic book for all the sense it makes and maybe it was. It can't even manage to strike a solid tone for it's ending leaving the entire thing feeling more like a mess than it had to, really. In the end the film is bland and forgettable. If they make a sequel there is nowhere to go but up from this flat starting point.  


OVERLORD (2018) should have been much better than it is. The scenario reads like either a first person shooter video game or the most perfect SF tinged WWII film of all time. Just before the D-Day invasion of Normandy a squad of American soldiers parachute into occupied France to destroy a German communications jamming station. Almost immediately the group is reduced to a handful of survivors but they continue to their objective enlisting a local young woman's aid. Once in the country town the soldiers learn that the French citizens have been systematically taken into the castle headquarters for hideous human experimentation. Since the target is in the same place they decide to destroy both problems with one attack but are well aware that their small numbers mean there is little chance of survival. Everything is in place for a rousing action film with mad scientist created monsters in a WWII setting. Cool! But then the script falters.

At a certain point our main character leaves the cottage in which the soldiers are hiding for less than clear reasons. And then he manages to stumble, fart and fall inside the castle with none of the German troops ever spotting him. He gets into the deepest areas of the laboratory, sees the important information and gets out of this highly guarded place without a single person laying eyes on him. Once. This sequence breaks the movie for me. I kind of enjoyed the third act because it's a well played action set-piece but this pathetic way of getting the American characters the necessary intel is just terrible screenwriting. I wasn't bothered by the unhistorical mixed race American army of the 1940's in the film because we're here to see Nazi monsters get splattered. But this idiotic plotting disaster is just too much. The whole sequence needed to rewritten. Oh well.


THE LIST 

THIS NIGHT I WILL POSSESS YOUR CORPSE (1967) - 7 (rewatch)
GHOSTKEEPER (1981) - 6 
VENOM (2018) - 4 
THE BOWERY BOYS MEET THE MONSTERS (1954) - 5 
MACON COUNTY LINE (1974) - 7 
THE VAMPIRE'S GHOST (1945) - 4
MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND (1964) - 4 (rewatch) 
THE NANNY (1965) - 7 
ABSOLUTE QUIET (1936) - 7 
SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT III: BETTER WATCH OUT (1989) - 3 (Ugh!)
SCHIZOID (1980) - 5 (not bad sleazy thriller) 
OVERLORD (2018) - 6 
PRISONER OF THE LOST UNIVERSE (1983) - 3 (Riftrax version - 7) 
RAW FORCE (1982) - 3 (inept but entertaining for all the wrong reasons) 
SUMMER OF '84 (2018) - 9 
NIGHT OF TERROR (1933) - 6 
CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980) - 8 (rewatch) 




Thursday, December 13, 2018

Universal Monsters Christmas Images







Monday, December 10, 2018

The Bloody Pit #77 - CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980)


For the fourth year in a row Troy Guinn, John Hudson and I dig into a festive themed film that fits the odd nature of this podcast. Holiday Horrors 2018 brings us to the often overlooked classic CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980). Written and directed by Lewis Jackson the film is available in a fine Blu-Ray release that shines a light on the a film that really should be better known. Kind of a cross between A Charlie Brown Christmas Special and Polanski's REPULSION it relates the sad tale of a man overly preoccupied with the holiday but seemingly unable reconcile himself to the realities of incorporating it into an adult life. Having spent years working for a toy manufacturing company he has wrapped himself in the warm message of December the 25th year round. But, this year, he begins to feel his sense of the season slipping away at the same time that his obsessive preoccupation with Christmas ramps up as the holiday approaches. The details of what might be real life and what could be fantasy become intertwined and often impossible to tease apart as our main character starts to act out his love of Christmas and his anger at the uncaring people that pervert it for selfish ends.

We discuss the film's production with a sleigh full of details straight from the Blu-Ray's three commentary tracks. The film's achievements and failings come under the microscope with each of us noting the moments that we love and the points we felt could have been better presented. We remark on the amazing cast of New York acting talent onscreen as well as a surprising connection to a certain New Jersey musical legend as well. The film's beautiful, glowing cinematography is discussed and the movie's fundamental similarity to another, much more famous New York set drama of the 1970's is noted. Anytime a way can be found to compare Travis Bickle to the Grinch you know you've hit on a supremely odd confluence of ideas!

So, join us for an accordion spiced Christmas episode with a few comedic surprises along the way. We rattle on a quite a while but we hope this year end show will put a smile on the faces of even the most curmudgeonly of the Christmas naysayers out there. The show can be reached at thebloodypit@gmail.com or over on Facebook where the Bloody Pit's page resides. Thanks for listening and have a Happy Holiday, whatever you might be celebrating. 




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Sunday, December 09, 2018

Batman Christmas Images!





 




Probably because as a kid I was always hoping to get superhero toys for Christmas I associate the holiday with comic books. Happily, the comics oblige with all kinds of Holiday tales! 

Friday, December 07, 2018

SUSPIRIA (2018)


As soon as this remake of Argento's classic 1977 film was announced there was the usual hue & cry from horror fandom. It was a noise similar to the one made every time a remake of a beloved film is learned of and, to be blunt, I'm damned sick of it. Yes, a large number of remakes suck. No joke. But some of them are very good examples of creative people finding new ways to tell a good tale. Why not hope for the best and discover what the new film might have to offer? Of course, I think I know why. For a lot of self appointed defenders of cinema, The Great Screaming is a public display of their bona fides as real fans. I'm not saying they don't actually feel that remakes are a bad idea. I just think that a very public rending of garments is a way to prove they are to be taken seriously. Their loudly derisive sneers about a movie they have not yet seen are broadcast to enhance their own standing in fandom. "Look at me! I hate something sight unseen. I also hate food I haven't tasted. Aren't I to be admired?" This is pathetic. It's the one thing that I know will eventually cause me to go off on some bloviating idiot in a way that will require me to make a major apology or do hard time. One day I will be screaming 'Grow Up' at some gibbering protector of art while fighting the urge to strangle them with a length of 35mm film from Cronenberg's THE FLY (1986).

But I digress. How was SUSPIRIA (2018)?

Surprisingly brilliant. As a friend said after the credits rolled, "Now that's how to remake a film!" Indeed. The filmmakers have taken the story of a young American woman traveling to Germany in 1977 to attend a dance school that is secretly run by witches and crafted something new and fresh. Smartly avoiding the incredibly colorful visual style of the original, this film strives to look as grim and bleak as Winter in 1970's Berlin actually probably looked. The colors are muted, the sky overcast and the population is constantly reminded of the dark realities of life by steady news reports of the ongoing Red Army Faction terrorist activity in the country. These visuals change the feel of the story immediately from a place of bright beauty with shadows creeping into view from the corners to a dark, pitiless place with harsh details seeping into life from all over. Here, the dance studio could be seen as a retreat from the unpredictable world of sudden violence and ugly reality. This sets the tone for the story brilliantly. We are already worried about the real life horrors that occasionally intrude onto the soundtrack adding an uncertainty to events that would be ordinary in other circumstances.


Also, in this remake, the dance academy actually comes alive. In Argento's film it was just a place to gather a group of young women of a certain age to provide victims for the witches. In this film dancing is an integral part of the witches' lives. Dance is used as part of the casting of spells and as a way of testing the latent powers of the students. This addition to the tale builds a depth into things that allows the final act to become more clearly part of the whole story. Along with the machinations of the witches/teachers as they choose their coven's new leader it paints a complex picture of these women as layered characters with completing visions for their art - both witchcraft and dance. It is fascinating!

The addition that I worried most about was the expansion of the realistic element from the first version. In the original movie we have a couple of 'experts' on the human mind who are replaced here with an elderly Jewish psychiatrist pulled into investigating the academy by the disappearance of one of his clients. This character seemed an odd one to enlarge in the story even as he becomes a stand-in for the audience, exploring the background of the school and it's founders. But by the final act it is clear why he, with his tragic history, is perfectly suited to demonstrate the change in the coven by the end of things.


This new film is fantastic and, while it won't replace the original for me, it is an incredible achievement. I wish that more remakes were given this level of thought and effort by their creative teams. 2018's SUSPIRIA is a great film that stands proudly next to 1977's film as a cleverly conceived variation on it's themes. Well done!


Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Star Trek Toys of the 1970's











The 70's were a dark time and the toys were terrible (as you can see) but I wanted every one of these things! 
Well. Not the helmet. I wasn't that stupid!