Friday, April 30, 2010

OSS 117 : LOST IN RIO coming to US

Yes! The sequel to to OSS 117: CAIRO, NEST OF SPIES is getting a US theatrical release in advance of its release on DVD. I'm ready to laugh a lot and be thrilled as well. The best news about the film is while its apparently not as great as the first it still manages to combine hilarious slapstick and sharp satire in a near perfect blend. And as long as OSS 117 is played by Jean Dujardin giving another seemingly effortless comic performance it is a must-see. Dujardin is truly a comic genius and puts most comedy actors to shame. Those crazy French bastards! Of course, there are no Nashville dates as yet but they are supposedly planning to add new cities in the next few weeks. Here are the current listings- LINK.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

THE CYCLOPS (1957) trailer

How have I never seen this film? Any movie featuring a battle between two lizards that are supposed to be dinosaurs is exactly my kind of thing. Time to fire up the old TV.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

REDNECK (1973)

Renamed REDNECK for American release the translated Italian title of this film is WITHOUT REASON and that sums up the cruel actions of the two main characters, but this film could have been titled TWO IDIOTS ON THE RUN and been deemed accurately named. The plot is so basic that it can be summed up in a single sentence-Two men attempt to rob a jewelry store and get out of the country. Everything else is just detail and that is where this film gets things right. From the opening scene that rolls under the credits there is never any doubt as to the competence of the two thieves Mosquito (Franco Nero) and Memphis (Telly Savalas). Unable to even control a simply situation with a middle aged jewelery store clerk they kill the poor bastard within seconds of starting their robbery triggering the store’s alarm. Grabbing a couple of cases of goods they run out to their getaway car and then proceed to (almost comically) destroy the vehicle on the streets out of town. That they start off by ramming a hearse and dumping the coffin within onto their windshield is the perfect image pointing toward their eventual success or lack thereof. Gallows humor reoccurs throughout the film with a darker and darker tone each time.

The two crooks obviously had no idea of how to do what they set out to do and everything that gets in their way merely emphasizes each man’s true nature. Memphis becomes more violent, angry and craven eventually refusing to even accept blame for people being killed when he is the clear cause. Mosquito is little better even though he surely would have never become a killer like his companion. Nero plays him as a not too bright guy with some smooth talking skills and a crudely ingratiating personality that might have gotten him by in life with the right breaks. Cowardly in the extreme Mosquito is a n’er-do-well hanger on too timid to act on his own and too dumb to know when he should give up. Doing the right thing is never even an idea that floats through either man’s head. In the final analysis both men are opportunistic trash but Memphis embodies the worst kind of evil I see in the world around me all the time. He doesn’t set out to intentionally harm others but has such a petty, small view of life that his reaction to everything is to lash out in the stupidest ways. He’s a rabid dog, a selfish ‘redneck’ and society has to find a way to deal with his type before they kill children (“Why did he run?”) or ruin lives. (“I can always spot someone with potential.”) Mosquito is a pathetic, pitiable bastard deserving of contempt but Memphis is classic, clueless evil unaware of his true nature and convinced he’s in the right no matter what despicable action he takes. Singing or humming hymns each time that he is forced to think Memphis is like every ignorant redneck I’ve ever encountered. He’s steeped in Biblical words & phrases with none of the meaning behind those words ever registering on his thoughts. That his most repeated tune is the Christian supplication hymn ‘Just As I Am’ that acts as a call to accept Christ into your life illustrates his inability to think beyond the surface. He knows the song but understands nothing about what it means.

One of the most interesting things about REDNECK is that it keeps hinting at standard paths for a typical thriller to take and denying every one of them. It works hard to subvert expectations constantly and therefore becomes strangely unpredictable. Even little things like Memphis' trip to visit some prostitutes denies us what we expect - no nudity, no bump & grind- no sex at all. Instead we get a slap as the criminal morons discover what their efforts have gained them. The same with the rich old lady Mosquito so obviously is going to bed and rob. It doesn't quite work out the way he or we expect.

I was surprised to see young Mark Lester as their accidental kidnap victim. That kid keeps turning up in the strangest places. He was creepy as hell the year before this film in WHAT THE PEEPER SAW making Britt Ekland’s life hellish and he was in Curtis Harrington’s WHOEVER SLEW AUNTIE ROO as well. Who was this kid’s agent?

Overall this is a very solid but odd example of Italian crime movies of the 1970s. It’s not perfect but its dark & nasty story about loathsome men is fascinating and kept me glued to my screen even as it became more and more unpleasant. Both Savalas and Nero turn in excellent performances and the film never hits a wrong note. It's not pretty but it is well worth seeing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I've been interested in William Cameron Menzies ever since I first stared with wonder at INVADERS FROM MARS (1953). After watching a bootleg of CHANDU THE MAGICIAN (1932) years ago I knew he was someone I should spend some serious time studying if I could ever get the chance. Nominated for several Oscars over his career he picked up two for his excellent art direction on a couple of silents in the 20's and often earned that credit on pictures he directed outright as well. Clearly a brilliant visual stylist he was also able to bring some genuinely good movies to the screen showing a solid eye for scripts as well. In recent months I've caught up with two of his movies that are pretty hard to locate and I've enjoyed both. THE SPIDER (1931) is the weaker of the two. It tells a fairly hackneyed story about a stage magician who has to discover the identity of a killer before the finger of blame is pointed at him. That it has to be done in the space a few hours with all the suspects locked in a theater after the murder is committed adds some fuel to the proceedings but not much. Its not a bad film and it has a few moments that shine brighter than the standard for this type of thing. On the other hand-

THE WHIP HAND (1951)- directed and designed by William Cameron Menzies is a taut cold war thriller. A real hidden gem this film deserves to be rediscovered and talked about. Well paced and tight it tells the tale of a vacationing fellow who rolls into a Minnesota lakeside village that has seen better days. It used to be renowned for trout fishing but a virus in the lake has destroyed the wildlife and the town’s fishing industry as well. Mildly interested in the town’s story but more interested in why the local rich man’s estate is so heavily and viciously guarded he sticks around for a while and starts to learn too much. I really think this is a great little movie and I wish more folks had a chance to see it. The print I watched seemed to have been taped from television- possibly a Canadian channel. I recommend it highly and not just because Raymond Burr plays one of the heavies. Maybe it could be added to a Noir box set?

Friday, April 16, 2010


Because sometimes you just need a little Yor.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Wolf Man Vs. Dracula - the film that never was

In 1944 Universal studio asked for a script for their next monster movie from writer Bernard Shubert. He had written the screenplay for THE MUMMY'S CURSE and when he was given this assignment Shubert was told that this film would have Lon Chaney Jr. returning to his Wolf Man role and Bela Lugosi coming back to play Dracula. On top of that it was supposed to be filmed in Technicolor which would have been a first for a Universal horror movie! Of course, this film was never made but the script was completed and then socked away in a drawer for years. But now, thanks to Philip J Riley and Bear Manor Publishing, fans of old monster flicks can read the entire script reproduced directly from the original manuscript to see what might have been. Personally I can't wait to read this missing chapter from the classic Universal cycle of horror movies. Boy, I wish they had made this sucker!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rejoice, Hammer Film fans!

Just announced today is the fantastic and unexpected news that Synapse Films has negotiated the rights to release three Hammer movies to Region 1 DVD. They are VAMPIRE CIRCUS, TWINS OF EVIL and HANDS OF THE RIPPER. Fans (such as I) have been begging for years for these movies to be given some form of official video release over here and now our pleas have born fruit. And the fact that they are being handled by Don May Jr.'s Synapse films means that they will be done very, very well. Apparently there will be copious extras and even possible Blu-Ray editions as well. I can hardly wait until later this year to snag up all three! The fact that they are also releasing the 13 episode Hammer TV series HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR as a boxed set is just icing on the glorious cake. What great news!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ray Harryhausen Blu-Ray deal

I don't buy much from Deep Discount DVD anymore. I used to buy most of my DVDs from them but about a year ago there was some kind of change in the company and they no longer have prices that even come close to being worth worrying about. Until today. I was alerted to an amazing deal on this four film Blu-Ray set of Harryhausen movies and I almost plotzed. It was on sale for a little more than 40 clams! I could only resist the BUY button for a few minutes. I mean - that's about $10 bucks a Blu-Ray and that is right in my zone. The set is comprised of EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS, 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH, IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA and THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD.

I am SOLD! I thought you might be interested too.

Stormtroopers are people too

Some things just have to be shared with as many people as possible.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

STAR WARS episode II review

If you remember the mad brilliance of their review of THE PHANTOM MENACE you are set to love this ripping apart of the follow up.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

What I Watched In March

Lousy Smarch weather!

I guess the big movie I finally caught up with last month was GONE WITH THE WIND. It was pretty much exactly as good as I expected with some unexpectedly impressive performances making the overlong tale worth seeing. I've always been a fan of Olivia de Havilland but in this film her fantastic work made the pain of Vivien Leigh's whining bearable. I realize the character of Scarlett is supposed to be a pain in the ass but DAMN! Rarely have I wanted to reach into the screen and slap someone quite so often as I did with her. But now I've crossed GWTW off my list and can move on others that are hopefully less loooooonnnnnggg!

On the television front I've continued watching CAPRICA and actually gotten to the point of enjoying it. I have one more episode to see but I've found myself caught up in the soap opera-ness of it all. I'm also enjoying the return of FLASH FORWARD but I can see we won't have a second season since the ratings have fallen off a cliff. It's all right. I know I'm strange. I watched episodes of TIME TUNNEL and VOYAGE BENEATH THE SEA in March as well.

And a word to the wise- if you love genre movies see NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD as soon as possible. Easily one of the most entertaining documentaries about film I've ever seen it sent me scrambling to track down a dozen or more Australian horror and action movies I had never even heard of before this great movie told their tales. Invaluable stuff!

NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST (1975)- 7 (rewatch)
THE CORRUPTION OF CHRIS MILLER (1973)- 8 (very good Spanish thriller)
GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)- 7 (amazing if far too long- the last scene is a minus as well)
16 BLOCKS (2006) – 8 (rewatch)
THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (1932)- 8 (rewatch)
PERCY JACKSON: THE LIGHTENING THIEF (2010)- 5 (not bad fantasy film)
WOMEN OF DEVIL’S ISLAND (1962)- 5 (never believable period WIP film- but I enjoyed it)
THE POSSESSION OF JOEL DELANY (1972)- 6 (well acted thriller)
BATTLE BENEATH THE EARTH (1967)- 5 (OK cold war sci-fi tale)
TWISTED NERVE (1968)- 8 (amazing thriller)
42ND STREET (1933)- 7 (Busby Berkley Broadway fun)
SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE (2005) – 8 (not as brilliant as OLDBOY- but what is?)
DEATHSTALKER (1983) – 4 (fun in a bad way)
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010)- 6 (should have been better)
CEMETERY WITHOUT CROSSES (1968)- 8 (excellent spaghetti western)
8 ½ (1963)- 8 (amazing look at a middle aged man and everything that means)
WORLD’S GREATEST DAD (2009)- 8 (great dark comedy)
ERIK THE VIKING (1965)- 4 (silly, dumb and poorly directed)
DEADLY FRIEND (1986)- 2 (starts bad and gets progressively worse as it goes along)
LA CASA DE LAS MUERTAS VIVIENTES (1972)- 6 (Spanish giallo)
NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD (2008)- 9 (excellent documentary- had me running for paper & pen)
THE BLACK TORMENT (1964)- 6 (pretty good period chiller if a bit slow)
DAUGHTER OF THE MIND (1969)- 7 (sharp TV movie with a stellar cast)
THE VENGEANCE OF THE MUMMY (1973)- 7 (Naschy mummys it up)
NIGHTMARES (1980)- 6 (Australian slasher/giallo)

Friday, April 02, 2010

NaschyCast #3- NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST (1975)

In the third episode of NaschyCast Troy & I delve into the 8th Waldemar Daninsky werewolf film NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST. Afflicted with at least a half dozen alternate titles the film is a fun adventure film crossed with Naschy’s usual lycanthropic madness and some unexpectedly acrobatic fight scenes. The movie has more than a few surprises including disproving one of my earlier statements about Mr. Molina’s tendency to write only two types of female characters. Also note that with this episode we add sound clips from the movie for your entertainment and edification. Some of the lines in this one are just too good to miss.

We have also added an email address for the podcast so that we can get more direct feedback. We’re more than happy to take suggestions from everyone and if you have any thoughts on ways to improve the show please drop us a line at We’ll be glad you did.

You can download Episode 3 at this LINK or subscribe on iTunes. Thanks!

iTunes LINK