Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CUT-THROATS NINE (1972) on YouTube!

We live in amazing times. An uncut copy of the fantastic but gruesome Spanish made western CUT-THROATS NINE is available on YouTube. I can remember a time not too long ago when it would be almost impossible to see this film at all and now you can click a button and watch it on your computer monitor. Amazing.

Troy and I will probably do a Beyond Naschy episode of the podcast later this year to talk about this movie and its connections to the Naschy-verse so check it out now- for free!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lina Romay RIP

I'm very sad to hear of Lina Romay's death on February 15th from a cancer related illness. Her braveness in throwing herself completely into her roles was mesmerizing to see. No matter the film I could always get lost in her big, dark eyes. She was an icon of European genre cinema and my heart goes out to Jess Franco in his time of grief.

Monday, February 20, 2012

NaschyCast #25 - OPERATION MANTIS (1985)

We start our third year of podcasting with a film that Naschy looked back on as a major mistake. Indeed, he called it the biggest mistake of his career and, as you’ll hear, it was certainly an odd choice for a filmmaker of his sensibilities.

OPERATION MANTIS is a spy comedy from a decade that produced very few such movies. That it is also a 'wacky' comedy puts it in the unenviable position of attempting to crack jokes on a variety of subjects in a silly way and the script only fitfully manages to walk that tightrope with any skill. Not that the movie doesn't have its amusing moments. Any film that can boast the sight of Paul Naschy as a caped professional wrestler, Naschy in full clown make-up and (in the maddest scene ever) Naschy dressed as a punk rocker while singing a spastic pop song (!) cannot help but keep you watching. Whether you're watching to see if it will get better or worse is entirely up to the individual but you will never know what is around the corner with this one.

The thinly spread plot of OPERATION MANTIS involves a shadowy, female lead secret organization trying to get its hands on a man-made virus that can destroy the male gender. The evil Matriarka criminal conspiracy intends to reduce the number of men down to only 200 worldwide who will be controlled and used to create the next generation. This dastardly plan only has three agents of the I.A.A.T. fighting against it - one American Military vet; an Italian fashion designer and a gorgeous blonde bikini model. How can the planet's men be saved from the fiendish, but lovely, Mantis?

This bizarre film marked the end of a major era in Naschy's career and he never really recovered. Join us as we pick it apart to see what is there that might be worth discussion. Please let us know your thoughts on the slightly new format for the show and any other thing you might want to talk about. As you will hear in the mailbag section it doesn't take much to get us going. Or at least, it doesn't take much to get ME going. The email address is NaschyCast@gmail.com or visit us on the Facebook page. And if you get the show through iTunes please think about reviewing the show there. It really helps us get some attention.

NaschyCast #25 LINK

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kindle Joy

For Christmas I was given a Kindle eReader and I have to admit that it has changed the way I read and what I read. I always have a huge stack of books around the house waiting to be read and the Kindle has sharply increased both my actual stack and my possible stack of books to eventually devour. Since one of my fascinations is early 20th century pulp fiction the first thing I did was seek out Kindle versions of those types of books and I was shocked to learn just how much was available for free. Free! And then just how many more were available for incredibly small prices. I’ll give you an example.

When I was a young lad I started reading the classic Tarzan novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I came to them by way of ERB’s John Carter stories but I quickly fell in love with the character and setting. I've written about my love of theses books before so its no secret that I loved the stories with their more formal style of writing. The spell of ERB's fiction grabs me every time I crack open the covers. As a kid I only read the first seven Tarzan books. After that my attention was grabbed by other things or I couldn’t lay my hands on number eight or something. I can never be sure. A few years ago I decided I would pick up the rest of the original Tarzan tales and slowly finish all 24 written by Burroughs. My plan was to read one of them a year and since I was starting out with number 8 I figured in 16 years I’d have the entire series under my belt and could then read some of the tales written or finished by other writers. I know, I know. It’s a silly long range plan but that was the way I wanted to go. Cut to today when I haven’t read one in over two years because I reached the 13th in the run and haven’t yet picked up a copy of the next one. It’s not hard to find the Tarzan novels- they are always in print- but I haven’t felt the allure of the Jungle Lord in a long time and there is that huge unread stack staring at me from the shelves, so.....

Then comes the Kindle. I’m casting about for eBooks to grab and I think why not get the next Tarzan book and put it in the ‘on deck’ circle, so to speak. I do a quick search on Amazon and Holy Crap! I find multiple listings for the series with the most astonishing one being an eBook version of all 24 of the original books for $2.99. That’s not one book for $2.99- that is every single Tarzan novel for less than three freakin’ dollars! I won’t have to hunt for the rest of the series any more. I have them all in one convenient place- my Kindle. Wow! The possibility of older fiction ending up in my (or anyone else’s) 'to read' stack just got more likely. I can see the true beauty of this eBook thing.

So, I might be finishing the Tarzan series in less time than I thought. Or I might read another Bulldog Drummond book. Or Doc Savage. And I'm loving the Ed McBain crime novels from the 1950s too. That stack is pretty high.

Friday, February 17, 2012

What I Read in January

I've decided to start a new monthly post here on the blog listing the books and short fiction I read each month. I will add some comments about the books on occasion but not always. Of course, I read dozens of articles, comic books and news stories each week because I can't imagine not reading each and every day but this formal list of books finished as I complete them will at last give me a reference for where my curiosity leads me month to month. You never know what will cross my path and/or leap into my hands.

Marvel Essentials: POWER MAN vol. 1 (finished after reading it in pieces for months)
Scrap Dragon by Naomi Kritzer (short story)
The World That Couldn't Be by Clifford Simak (short story)
SPACE VIKING by H. Beam Piper
BULLDOG DRUMMOND by Herman Cyril McNeile a.k.a. Sapper
DEAD MAN #2: RING OF KNIVES by James Daniels (love this series)
Plumage From Pegasus by Paul Di Pilippo (short story)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Damn NetFlix streaming and its listing for this film. Why did I watch it? Surely I knew what was in store.

The films of Larry Buchanan are completely terrible. That may read as a bold statement but anyone who has watched more than one of his low budget B-movies can attest to the fact that I tell the truth. Its not that Mr. Buchanan is a total incompetent or wholly without storytelling skills. He can string a fairly coherent, if plodding, tale together that moves slowly from point to point and place to place in a manner that mimics the natural progression that a good film usually has. While you could go on for hours about the amusing mistakes and silliness that his extremely poverty ridden productions have the real problems occur when you get into the details of his movies.

Let's take CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE (1966) as a case in point. It is supposedly a remake of VOODOO WOMAN (1957) and it certainly does follow the plotline of that pretty terrible film. Don't get me wrong- I enjoy VOODOO WOMAN. It is not a good movie but it does have Marla English. CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE has John Agar and while John Agar rules, he is no Marla English if you know what I mean. But I shouldn't denigrate this film for a lack of sex appeal. There are a couple of lovely ladies in Buchanan's film and they have their charms. Francine York plays mad scientist Victor Trent's wife and although she only has two outfits the entire film she fills them out expertly. I never bought her distraught act as she longs to be released from her hellish marriage but she is nice to look at. Indeed, none of the acting is very good but Agar is competent in an underwritten role, Shirley McLine as a murderous femme fatale is OK but Jeff Alexander is very entertaining as the crazed Dr. Trent. The fact is that it was Alexander's hammy, meticulously calm but slyly evil performance that kept me watching this silly mess. He's a study in amoral inhumanness and the film could have benefited from more time spent getting to know his character.

No. Even though most of the actors in this are bad, acting is not really the aspect of this film that weighs it down so heavily. Its real liabilities are the skimpy budget and flat, boring direction. I can forgive some of the crappy shot choices because its clear the sets were tiny and there wasn't much time to get things in the can. But the moments when the locations put the lie to statements made in the dialog are numerous, laughter inducing and turn the movie from bad to worse. Much is made about the mad doctor's house and laboratory being out in the middle of the swampy nowhere but the place has an obvious connection to the nearby electrical poles. The doctor keeps gators in his pool out back but the shots of the reptiles thrashing around are clearly from a muddy river far too large to be anywhere near that well manicured lawn. The 'rough' trail that leads to the hidden lair of Dr. Trent is so well worn it might be a bike path. The list of ridiculous elements is a mile long but I could forgive them all if the movie wasn't so damned dull. Not even the site of the final monster can do more than generate a slight grin.

So I can't recommend this one to any but the hardiest of B-movie aficionados. Its rough going with few joys and much tedium. You have been warned! Damn NetFlix streaming.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jean Dujardin's Villain Auditions

I haven't gotten to see THE ARTIST yet but I've been a fan of Jean Dujardin since I caught the fantastic OSS 117 films. Both CAIRO: NEST OF SPIES and LOST IN RIO are fantastic and it is Dujardin's performance in the lead role that makes them as incredibly funny as they are. In this Funny Or Die clip he shows off his comedy timing and his facility with English. He really would be good as a cartoon Bond villain, wouldn't he? Or maybe Skeletor. Yeah. Skeletor.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

IRON SKY is coming!

I really had my doubts that such a cool concept could ever be made but it seems the mad folks behind the 'Nazis On the Moon' film have actually gotten it completed. It looks very SKY CAPTAIN to me and that is a good thing. I can only hope that it will actually play theatrically near me so I can discover its glories on the big screen.

Monday, February 06, 2012

What I Watched In January

I only got to the theater twice in January but I enjoyed the time there. Much to my surprise I have really enjoyed the UNDERWORLD films from the beginning. I was dragged to see the first film and was shocked by how fun it turned out to be. Its highly stylized (and color de-saturated) tale of a centuries long war between vampires and werewolves played more like a hyperkinetic action epic than horror but its fantasy elements were of a piece with the pulp stories of my youth and I found it very engaging. I liked the first two sequels as well, each just a little less but found them to still remain quality popcorn entertainments. I could easily imagine them being played on drive-in screens to the applause and smiles of action & exploitation audiences any time in from the 1970s to today.

This fourth film in the series picks up after the second one (the third one was a prequel) and after a nasty bit of violence that separates our two star-crossed lovers the story jumps into the future about fifteen years. There the battle between the warring monster factions continues but with the added complication of the human race being fully aware of the supernatural creature's conflict as well as their weaknesses. All I can say is that if you liked the earlier movies you will probably like this one.

The American remake of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO is quite good even if it somehow didn't have the impact of the original. The film is solid and I continue to find Daniel Craig to be one of the most interesting actors working today but the biggest weakness was in the female lead. Not that Rooney Mara was bad in the role but she wasn't as impressive as Noomi Rapace in the Swedish originals. Rapace was able to communicate intelligence and barely contained anger all while being sexy and dangerous. Mara can get across one or two of these ideas but not all at once.

TWO-LANE BLACKTOP (1971) - 8 (fascinating minimalist road film)
RANCHO NOTORIOUS (1952)- 8 (excellent Fritz Lang western)
ELIMINATORS (1986)- 4 (cheesy/fun ROBOCOP rip-off let down by unnecessary elements and a low budget)
DON'T BE AFRIAD OF THE DARK (2011)- 7 (rewatch)
FRANKENHOOKER (1990)- 7 (fun, if broad comedy)
MARLOWE (1969)- 5 (just doesn't quite have what it takes)
SHERLOCK HOLMES (1922)- 5 (silent version jettisons too much of the character to feel right)
KING RICHARD AND THE CRUSADERS (1954)- 7 (fun, colorful Sir Walter Scott adventure)
CURSE OF THE DEVIL (1974)- 7 (rewatch)
ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011)- 8 (excellent British alien invasion tale)
BLACK LEGION (1937)- 8 (great social drama with Bogart)
DISTRICT B-13-ULTIMATUM (2009)- 8 (excellent sequel)
UNION DEPOT (1932)- 7 (very good pre-code crime story)
BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER (1960)- 4 (not too good low budget SF)
SHE (1982)- 2 (terrible post-apocalyptic/sword & sandal mess)
THE LONE WOLF MEETS A LADY (1940) -6 (good mystery and cast)
UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING (2012)- 7 (fourth film pleases)
THE LAST GUN (1964)- 5 (early spaghetti western - feels more like a 1950s film than what was just around the corner)
GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER (1966)- 4 (the descent into colorful kiddie camp was underway)
DARK IS THE SUN (1968)- 9 (wow! I'd like to see the rest of the obviously harsh violence but this is a great film)
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO (2011)- 8 (remake is good but I prefer the original)
THE LAST HARD MEN (1976) - 7 (Heston and Coburn in a late period western)
THE DEAD ARE ALIVE (1972)- 8 (excellent giallo)

Friday, February 03, 2012

THE FIFTH ELEMENT fantasy poster

I'm a big fan of Luc Besson's mad science fiction adventure and although I'd love to have him still writing and directing films of his own I'm happy to have him producing the best action films France has to offer. In fact, his current line-up of bad-ass action movies beats anything Hollywood has produced in decades. Check out the two DISTRICT B-13 films to see what I mean.

Just the idea of this story with Connery and Lee makes me smile.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

NaschyCast #24.5 - Beyond Naschy- HORROR EXPRESS (1972)

We have the pleasure of finally bringing you the show we have threatened/promised for over a year -HORROR EXPRESS! The film that some call the best Spanish horror film ever made gets the NaschyCast treatment and to keep things interesting we've brought along a friend. Randy Fox has known your boisterous hosts for longer than any of us would care to think about. He is a warm, unique individual and his enthusiasm for movies of all types is second only to his knowledge of esoteric subjects. Where else are you going to find someone fascinated by Russian history who is also a fanatical gun collector? Throw in the fact that he's a Godzilla fan of the highest order and has been known to track the elusive Bigfoot in his spare time and its easy to see why we value his opinion. On some things.

So join this mad trio of movie nuts as we discuss the sheer wonder of this film and touch upon the many joys it holds. We talk about the magic of the year that was 1972; learn about old porno theaters in Nashville; speak about the surprise of Christopher Lee as an action hero; talk about the fantastic film team of Cushing & Lee; discuss what kind of edged weapon a Cossack would use to stab lesser mortals; remark on the difficulty of acting while blinded by special effects; thrill at seeing Helga Line again; and experience the joy of having character actor Victor Isreal pop up just to be choked out. The train is leaving the station in Peking- or is it Shanghai? Regardless- hop aboard and hang on as we hurtle through the cold winter night while a monster stalks our every step.

Remember to drop us a note at naschycast@gmail.com or visit us over on the NaschyCast Facebook page. Follow the download link below as usual or grab the show from iTunes. And for extra fun here are the various weapons we play with during the podcast. Randy has helpfully labeled them so everyone can see what we're talking about.

iTunes NaschyCast 24.5 LINK!

Direct Download LINK