Monday, January 30, 2012

Spaghetti Western Orchestra

If you've not yet heard of the Spaghetti Western Orchestra let this clip be your introduction. Five men using over 100 instruments perform selections from Ennio Morricone's classic Italian western scores. In this brief, statically filmed piece they recreate the song Angel Face from A PISTOL FOR RINGO and the best part is that the original vocalist Maurizio Graf joins them to sing the tune. This is doubly nice in that he wrote the English lyrics for this song back almost fifty years ago. I hope these guys eventually tour on this side of the Atlantic even if there will be few chances for such great special guests as London allows.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Horror Rises From Spain

For over a year and a half the lovely and talented Elena has hosted an English language internet radio show that focuses on Spanish horror. Titled 'Horror Rises From Spain' it has been hosted on the site Cult Radio-A-Go-Go since its inception but a few weeks ago Elena broke from from that carrier's restrictive broadcast policies. That means that you can now hear every single episode whenever you want by simply downloading the show as an MP3! No longer do you need to be in front of your computer at a specific time on Saturday to listen to Elena's interviews, reviews and often wild music choices. Now you can check them out as you wish.

I can recommend the entire run - not just the excellent BLIND DEAD episodes David Z and I guested on back last summer - for some great insight into Spanish Horror and a stunning amount of information on some of the classics of the genre. If nothing else, Elena should be up for some kind of award for her two part interview with the fine actor and Naschy co-star Antonio Mayans. Getting him on record about his career is a truly important addition to the history of European horror filmmaking.

But don't take my word for it. Follow the link below and grab the shows yourself. You'll get a kick out of hearing from a lady in Madrid who knows her stuff and loves what her native country has contributed to the world of fantastic cinema. Her enthusiasm and good humor will keep you entertained and coming back for more.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Janet Munro

Most 'normal' film fans would know of Miss Janet Munro from her roles in DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE (1959) or THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON (1960) but for me she will always be the sexy lady from Val Guest's excellent apocalyptic science fiction classic THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE (1961). She was also a welcome sight in THE CRAWLING EYE (1958) but she was simply amazing no matter what she appeared in - or out of!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hammer Horror Blu-Rays!

Like millions of other fans of Hammer films I'm thrilled by the announcement that several of the studio's classic movies will be coming soon to Blu-Ray disc in special editions. That these releases promise not just fancy extras but the reinstating of snippets of film cut at the time of their initial theatrical runs is news of the most stunning kind. If this turns out to be true it might well be the best thing to happen to horror fans since the dawn of the digital disc age. For decades rumors of longer, more violent versions of HORROR OF DRACULA and others have kept drooling Hammer Heads seeking foreign prints for extra bits but this is the first time we've been promised anything new. They plan to start with DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966) and then push forward with THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, THE MUMMY' SHROUD, THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES and more. For me, the best news was in the final paragraph--

"Also lined up for future release are The Legend Of The 7 Golden Vampires, Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, Frankenstein Created Woman, The Witches, The Lost Continent, Slave Girls, The Viking Queen and The Vengeance Of She."

THE LOST CONTINENT in Hi-Definition? Where do I send the money?


Monday, January 23, 2012


Coming soon to the NaschyCast's Beyond Naschy series of podcasts!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I recently watched two post-apocalyptic movies back to back without realizing what I was doing. Or, more accurately, I didn’t know BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER (1960) was such a story but I knew SHE (1982) was an entry in the 80s post-ROAD WARRIOR dystopian action genre. I also knew SHE was going to be pretty terrible but I have a sick love of the awful post apocalyptic films of the 80s so nothing was going to stop me from pressing play on that baby!

I have wanted to see BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER for a long time but its poor reputation kept me from seeking it out for over twenty years. There were two big reasons I finally pulled it up on NetFlix and sat through its short running time. The first reason I was drawn to the film is my love of science fiction movies in general and those made before I was born in specific. I’m not sure exactly what element of older sci-fi it is that appeals to me so strongly. It might have to do with the thrill of seeing the future projected from another time to discover what the people of that age thought we would find important or strive to accomplish. I’m usually stunned by how little we’ve done in comparison to what was expected. Another aspect that calls to me is the fun of watching a visualization of the far future by filmmakers working to craft something believable and functional enough to not be thought ridiculous. This is often a minefield and that deadly land is littered with more sad leisure suits and sexy mini-skirts than any respectable person should ever have seen. Often just the whacked out costumes are more than enough to put a stupid grin on my face and make me happy I watched the film!

The second thing that called out to me about it is that this movie was directed by Edgar Ulmer, the genius who made my favorite Universal Horror film THE BLACK CAT (1935) and one of the all time great Film Noirs DETOUR (1946). His earlier science fiction film THE MAN FROM PLANET X (1951) is a fantastic example of creepy atmosphere on a low budget and a great little movie as well so I had some hopes for this to be better than its reputation. Unfortunately Ulmer could not overcome the lack of money with this one. There are some interesting moments scattered throughout but overall its a pretty dull affair that feels stagy and very often silly. After Air Force pilot Major Bill Allison (played by the reliable Robert Clarke) flies an experimental new aircraft to sub-orbital spaceflight something strange happens and when he lands at the airbase it is now is abandoned and seems old and unused. Baffled by his situation, he wanders around until he sees a futuristic city on the horizon. He walks to the city (a fair matte painting) where he attacked, knocked out and captured by the inhabitants. Here he learns that he has somehow traveled through time and landed in the year 2024. The only people alive are survivors of a cosmic plague that hit the Earth starting in 1971. The inhabitants are slowly dying out and live in an underground city called The Citadel. The leader of these people thinks that Allison might be able to help them as they are no longer able to reproduce. Military stud to the rescue!

I am sad to report that this sounds more interesting that it is. The movie is pretty slowly paced, the dialog is mostly flat and the story isn't very compelling. Once some other accidental time travelers are introduced the endgame is clear and its just a slog through the romantic triangle with the only good distraction being the lovely ladies walking around in mini-skirts and high heels. Strange what production designers think will end up being worn in the future. I got some joy out of the few interesting miniature scenes and the diamond shaped set design but even at only 75 minutes its a long trudge.

Friday, January 20, 2012


During our most recent NaschyCast Troy made mention of the fact that in the United States 'El retorno de Walpurgis' not only had its title changed to something less European sounding, but seems to have been sold as anything other than what it actually is. He pointed out that the English language trailer makes no mention of werewolves, never shows the beast in full and the usual hyperbolic voiceover appears to be trying to convince potential audiences that CURSE OF THE DEVIL is some kind of exorcism story. Check it out and see for yourself.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

NaschyCast #24 - CURSE OF THE DEVIL (1974)

The podcast reaches the two year mark with a howl! Our second anniversary episode focuses once again on our old pal Waldemar Daninsky in his sixth big screen outing (or seventh depending on how you count). CURSE OF THE DEVIL marks our coverage of the last of the four collaborations between Naschy and director Carlos Aured and we're pleased to find it as impressive as the other three/ As usual, things are not easy for Naschy's greatest creation as he struggles through not just a terrible curse but depression brought on by accidentally murdering a score of people - some of whom he actually likes. This is the first El Hombre Lobo film to have a period setting and this pays off in some nice atmosphere and mood. The photography is top notch with especially great attention to detail in the many sequences shot at night. THE WOLFMAN (1941) gets referenced quite lot in this one and even has one of the same central mysteries as that classic. We discuss that question near the end along with others such as - Why does no one gag the witch before they burn her so she can't issue a curse? Are we supposed to think Waldemar is a virgin?? Are there rules for when a loved one can kill a werewolf? All of these issues are addressed as we are puzzled by the story's oddities, stunned by the sexy little sister and impressed by the cool threads Waldemar sports in this adventure. Woo hoooooo!

For those wishing to skip the spoilers as we go through the final section of the film, the listener's emails are cracked open at about the 2 hour and 45 minute mark. This leads to a discussion of several things but mostly it turns into a listing of our favorite Christmas movies. We come out in favor of an undervalued version of A Christmas Carol and cap the show with my favorite song of all time.

Please drop us a line at and tell what's on your mind. We love hearing from our fellow fans. Also, join us on the NaschyCast Facebook page for updates and trailers. We'll be back here in a couple of weeks with an in depth look at HORROR EXPRESS. The show can be grabbed at the link below or downloaded from iTunes.

NaschyCast #24 LINK

Monday, January 16, 2012

Spaghetti Western Poster Art

I feel the desire to watch a few of these rising within me. The urge is almost always there but a late Christmas gift has rekindled it strongly.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Matte Shot- a blog worth reading

I am pleased to direct you to this fantastic blog dedicated to the Golden Age of special effects. I'm just beginning to delve into the joys it provides but this one post I want to highlight is stunning. Here the blogger goes into great detail about the amazing Matte Paintings and Miniature work in the genre films of Hammer Studios. I'm still just staring goggle-eyed at some of the screen captures and really looking at the fine craftsmanship on display. I've often remarked on the beauty of this type of work especially in the Hammer gothics but to have them laid out like this is a fine reference for lovers of the movies. Go check it out!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

MARLOWE (1969)

Recently I finally quit putting off the event and watched the 1969 Raymond Chandler adaptation MARLOWE staring James Garner. I have always read that it is a bit of a disappointment and that sadly turned out to be true. Its a shame really since the source novel 'The Little Sister' is very interesting and rarely tackled by Hollywood. And to add salt to the wound Garner is physically just right to play the role of hard bitten private investigator Philip Marlowe. So, what went wrong? Good question.

The problem isn't really the script. From my memory of the book the film follows the twisted tale pretty faithfully even including the nastier and trickier parts in which one character briefly attempts to take credit for a murder. The tale unravels at a good pace and the characters are given just enough time onscreen to register well. Its not the actors because, along with the very reliable Garner, the cast list reads like a dream for a modern noir/mystery with Carol O'Connor and Kenneth Tobey as cops, Gail Hunnicut as a femme fatal, Rita Moreno as a world weary dancer and William Daniels as a reluctant Marlowe client. No, if I was to point to one overall problem its with the direction. It is consistently flat and uninvolving leading me to think that the approach was to remain at a distance as things played themselves out. This detached feel might also have been related to the director being unfamiliar with the very widescreen aspect ratio used as it seems often that he is avoiding close ups that would have served several scenes better than the long shots used. This is a flaw I see with a number of widescreen movies from the 1950s and 60s so when I notice that Paul Bogart's credits are mostly for directing television I suspect a fear of the wider image playing hell with the film.

One other problem is the inclusion of Bruce Lee in a small role as an enforcer for a big time gangster. He is in two scenes and while the first is fun just because its amusing to see Lee destroy Marlowe's office the second encounter on a restaurant rooftop is the film's low point. Its a stupid scene that should have never have even been filmed as it exists in the movie. This sequence was the moment I realized the film probably wasn't ever really going to kick into gear and work for me.

This really is a shame because on paper this should have been a really good movie. Something just got lost in the process as it often can in the world of filmmaking.

Monday, January 09, 2012

HANDS OF STEEL (1986) - trailer

Some buddies in an online fourm have been talking about the great Sergio Martino's movies and I was reminded that I haven't yet seen this one. I think I'll have to change that in the next few days.

Friday, January 06, 2012

What I Watched In December

December is usually a very busy month for me with Christmas parties and other social events taking much of my time. The annual gift giving season finally became that thing I've dreaded since I was old enough to notice my parent's holiday stress levels- a time wished to be over with soon. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy myself. Any month that includes extra time with friends and family is going to be a good month, but the constant tug of often conflicting responsibilities and expectations can be rough. Luckily I saw several good movies.

The first theater visit was with my girlfriend to see the excellent new Muppet movie. The first new adventure of Kermit and friends in years was a return to greatness. The story was touching, the songs were funny and seeing the characters onscreen again was one of the best events in movies all year. The clever humor of the film includes commentary on selling out personally and professionally, ruminations on what it means to be a friend and reflections on the perils of love all with a smile inducing energy that keeps everything moving. And I can honestly say I never expected to see veteran character actor Chris Cooper rap and dance but now that I have I can report that its the funniest thing ever. Ever! Its even funnier than the sly song about the sad joys of masturbation.

The fourth MISSION IMPOSSIBLE film proved that given enough tries the producers can eventually bring the series up to the level of 'good' even if I still dislike the impossible aspect of some of the over the top stunts. The final, tense action scene in a high tech car garage is one of the best fist fights I've seen in a big budget movie in years. The second Guy Ritchie SHERLOCK HOLMES film was almost as much fun as the first although I felt the plot took too long to kick into gear. That impression may have more to do with my preference for the BBC TV production SHERLOCK than the flaws in this souped-up version of Holmes, but the emphasis on action sometimes works against the story. The cast was fantastic with Jared Harris turning in one of the all time great Moriarity performances and Jude Law showing real flair as a very fine Watson. I also liked Stephen Fry as Mycroft and his habit of calling his younger brother 'Sherlie' was a nice touch.

BATMAN: YEAR ONE (2011)- 8
HORROR EXPRESS (1972) - 8 (rewatch)
STUNT ROCK (1978)- 5 (plot less combination of hard rock, stunts and stage magic serves as a love letter to Grant Page)
WILDERNESS (2006) - 6 (solid British revenge/survivalist tale)
RED STATE (2011)- 8 (surprising film from Kevin Smith)
MARY SHELLY'S FRANKENSTEIN (1994)- 8 (rewatch)
THE MUPPETS (2011)- 8 (They're back and awesome)
WALL-E (2008)- 8 (excellent Pixar tale)
THOR: TALES OF ASGARD (2011)- 6 (good animated 'Young Thor' story)
WAKE WOOD (2010)- 8 (damned good horror story from Hammer)
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1984)- 8 (very good version with George C. Scott)
THE RACKETEER (1929)- 6 (gangster love story)
JUJIN YUKI OTOKO (1955)- 6 (Honda's Abominable Snowman film)
CURSE OF THE DEVIL (1973)- 7 (rewatch)
ALIEN (1979)- 10 (rewatch)
GODZILLA VS. HEDORA (1971)- 3 (terrible but still fun in a silly way)
BEGINNERS (2010)- 8 (touching and funny drama about what makes us)
SLITHER (1972)-8 (amazing, funny road film with James Cann as a hapless ex-con)

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Jungle Girls

Spring is just a few months away. Really.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Fritz Lang poster art

I just caught up with Lang's excellent western RANCHO NOTORIOUS so I've got the mad German on my mind. There are still several of his Hollywood films I need to eventually see and the raw, terse tone of this revenge tale was a reminder of his skills. I haven't been this ready to watch more of his work since I read that fine biography of him called The Nature of the Beast by Patrick McGilligan.