Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Winter Reading- Doc Savage!

Each Winter I feel the strange urge to wallow in Pop Culture from decades before I was born. I can’t rationally explain why my love for movies from the 1930s and 1940s or Pulp Hero fiction from the same era surges to the forefront of my brain in the colder months, but it happens and I just roll with it. This usually means that in January and February I watch a larger than normal number of older films and read a lot of Doc Savage, Spider, G-8 and Shadow novels. This year is proving to be no exception. But at this point in my life I’ve read so many of each of these series that I’m finding it difficult to immediately remember if I’ve read a particular book. This makes the normal grabbing of a book off the shelf to plunge strait in method of picking my next piece of fun adventure fiction more problematic. In fact, I’ve realized I need to actually print off a list of, say, all the Doc Savage tales and check mark the ones I’ve read. I want to say this means I’ve read so many that I’m whittling down the ‘to read’ pile but I know that in reality I’m just getting old. Oh well- it beats the alternative and these old Pulp tales are some of the best entertainment around.

Monday, January 28, 2013

NaschyCast #35 - THE SNIPER (1978)

Once again we venture into the area of 1970s crime movies but this time out we find a very different kind of tale. Somber, melancholy and restrained THE SNIPER is the story of a man driven to do a terrible thing because he feels he has nothing to live for. Naschy plays the central role and puts his all into making Lucas the watchmaker sympathetic and sad. Does his loss make sense in a senseless world? Can he bring some balance to things by violent action?  Is he so hurt by life that he can never care about other people again? THE SNIPER asks a lot of questions about life, loss and grief but its up to the individual viewer to decide if the ultimate message is positive or negative. Needless to say we both thought the film was well worth seeing.

Changing things up a bit this time we thought it would be a good idea to not spoil the last act of this one so we end our discussion before events spiral out of control. This film is very difficult to find so we want to encourage Naschy fans to seek it out and NOT know the ending from us! We may do more of this in the future depending on what our loyal listeners think so be sure to let us know which way of conducting the show you prefer. We get into some odd areas as we go through things and since we didn't have any feedback for this episode we even talk about comic books for a few minutes- and then we get back on track! Forgive us fanboys our geeky digressions, please.

Drop us an email or send us an MP3 with your thoughts to to get in on the discussion and make us aware you're out there. We love hearing from you! Grab the show at the link below or pull it down from iTunes. Thanks for listening.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Charlie Chan Poster Art

I will always prefer Warner Oland in the role but no matter who plays Chan I love watching the mystery unfold in this classic mystery series. The Winter months bring out my desire to watch older, black & white films and these are the perfect thing to see on a cold night while drinking a mug of hot tea. 

PROMETHUS explained

I found this review/deconstruction of PROMETHEUS (2012) to be fascinating and in line with my thinking about the film. I still wait patiently for Ridley Scott to produce an edit of the film that incorporates the scenes that better explain certain motivations but this piece shows that the clues for many of them are already there in this amazing but flawed cinematic question mark.

Monday, January 21, 2013

STARCRASH (1979) - an appreciation!

As readers of this blog will already know, I have an strange love of and obsession with STARCRASH. It's a terrible film in so many ways but it is terrible in just the right ways - if you know what I mean. Make no mistake about one thing — screenwriter/director Luigi Cozzi is a big fan of science fiction. The first image in this wannabe epic is of a spaceship named after Golden Age SF author Murray Leinster and the first bit of dialog is a page over that ship's intercom asking Major Bradbury to come to the communications bridge. Cozzi is such a fan of the genre that when possible he slips science fiction elements into any movie he can. This is the only explanation for the incredibly odd mechanical creatures and bizarre conversations about scientific theory in his Hercules films with Lou Ferrigno. So I can only imagine the man's joy when the huge global success of Star Wars gave him the green light to make his pet sci-fi project. I've often heard Starcrash called a rip-off of that 1977 classic but Cozzi claims that the script was penned long before Mr. Lucas made the genre profitable — maybe he just got lucky. The unlucky folks were the poor suckers in 1978 who were conned into seeing this atrocious mess. I know of at least one man who claims that not only is Starcrash the worst film he has ever seen but that it may have contributed to his desire to kill small woodland creatures in the dead of night. And you thought the Star Wars prequels were bad!

As with most Cozzi films the plot is a mishmash of half thought out ideas and half remembered moments from movie serials, novels and comic books. The story concerns the adventures of interstellar smuggler Stella Star (Caroline Munro) and her partner in crime Akton (Marjoe Gortner, who somehow got top billing). As the film begins they are being pursued by law officers Thor (Robert Tessier) and Elle, a sentient robot voiced by Hamilton Camp as some kind of Texas moron. They make their escape through hyperspace and find an abandoned spacecraft's launch. After rescuing a survivor from the ship they're captured by the pursuing cops and carried off to prison. Stella is forced to feed the radium furnaces in a skimpy outfit and high heels until recruited for a job by the same two cops that caught her. It seems the Emperor of the Universe (Christopher Plummer) wants her and Akton to help fight the evil Count Zarth Arn (the great Joe Spinell). This dastardly despot has created a devastating planet-sized weapon that will allow him to rule the universe — but no one knows where it's located. The smugglers will accompany Thor and Elle on their search through the Haunted Stars and if they succeed they will be pardoned. Oh, and if they should stumble across the Emperor's son, the crown prince, they should bring him back, too. He was sent looking for the Death Star.... uh, I mean, the Count's massive weapon and he's missing. So, off they go tramping from one silly place to another hunting for the bad guys. The only stop of real interest (for me any way) is when a bikini clad Stella has to fight off a group of hot, Amazon-style women before they sic their giant, poorly stop-motion-animated robot on her. Akton reveals that he can see into the future, fake his own death and whip ass with his handy light saber... uh, I mean laser sword. Finally, of course, they find Prince Simon (David Hasselhoff!) and the correct planet, blow up the terrible weapon and then rush back to the Emperor to join in the gloriously insane battle with Zarth Arn to rid the Universe of his evil forever.

I've left out a lot of details mainly because, for space considerations, I must. This movie's script is an insane mess that feels like it was assembled in the dark from ideas jotted randomly on post-it notes. There is no logical progression from scene to scene or from idea to idea. When an explanation or solution was needed Cozzi just seems to have inserted a line of ridiculous dialog, had the characters smile at each other and kept moving. And some of the lines are priceless. Informing Stella that he can't tell her about the future because she might try to change things, Akton declares with a straight face, "Because that's against the law." Early on a character declares, "Scan it with our computer waves!" You get the idea. If an 8-year old riffed on an issue of EC Comics' Weird Science,Starcrash is what his Pixie Stix-fueled imagination would create. Luigi Cozzi is that sugar-rushing kid, bursting with enthusiasm but short on talent and money. He throws in a lot of references to classic science fiction movies including the disembodied head that leads the Invaders from Mars (1953), the radium furnaces from the Flash Gordon serials and (I swear to you) a nod to the giant, floating stone head from Zardoz! But even these bizarre touches are topped by the sight of all the male characters wearing enough make-up to pass for drag queens. This is top-of-the-line crazy cinema! Almost nothing is done well but eventually the complete lack of sense is kind of mesmerizing. Like watching slow-motion footage of car crash tests I found it impossible to turn away, wondering if the next ludicrous idea was going to make me laugh or roll my eyes.

One thing I can complement is the rather impressive score by legendary composer John Barry. I give it credit for keeping things moving more often than it should have to, making some dull stretches easier to handle. It's a solid musical accompaniment to the story, even if it occasionally reminded me of passages from a few of his James Bond scores.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


This an excellent example of someone taking the concept of the 'mash-up' to a new level! Here we have the audio for the second PROMETHEUS trailer married to visuals from Mario Bava's brilliant PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES. Words fail me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Serial Poster Art

Because its winter I'm back in the mood to watch old Chapter Plays- a.k.a. Serials. I'm finally finishing off the first Batman 15 parter (!) that I have been chipping away at for years and then I'll probably watch the second Superman screen adventure. I love these old creaky visions of superheroes from the 1940s. They present a strange world that might have been if only things were more clear cut or black & white. Perfect entertainments for a weirdo like me! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello

I cannot improve on this description from this amazing short film's YouTube page--

"Nominated for an Oscar and for a BAFTA award, Jasper Morello is a short feature made in a unique style of silhouette animation developed by director Anthony Lucas and inspired by the work of authors Edgar Alan Poe and Jules Verne. In the frontier city of Carpathia, Jasper Morello discovers that his former adversary Doctor Claude Belgon has returned from the grave. When Claude reveals that he knows the location of the ancient city of Alto Mea where the secrets of life have been discovered, Jasper cannot resist the temptation to bring his own dead wife Amelia back. But they are captured by Armand Forgette, leader of the radical Horizontalist anti-technology movement, who is determined to reanimate his terrorist father Vasco. As lightning energises the arcane machineries of life in the floating castle of Alto Mea, Jasper must choose between having his beloved restored or seeing the government of Gothia destroyed. Set in a world of iron dirigibles and steam powered computers, this gothic horror mystery tells the story of Jasper Morello, a disgraced aerial navigator who flees his Plague-ridden home on a desperate voyage to redeem himself." 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What I Watched In December

I was only able to get out to the theater once in the merry month of Holiday Madness but it was an event film of nearly three hours in length so it was almost like seeing two movies. Almost.

Overall I was happy with the film. It is very well cast with special kudos due to Martin Freeman as Bilbo. I have been a major fan of Freeman for his work as the modern Watson in SHERLOCK and his performance here is absolutely perfect. His work in the scene with Gollum is fantastic as you would expect of such a highlight of the tale but its in the quieter moments that his nuanced skills as an actor make scenes stronger than they really should be. And that points toward one of the obvious problems the movie has - it is over long with no real reason. Don't get me wrong- I was never bored by the film but the additions to the tale are not necessary even when they smartly tie events and characters to the LORD OF THE RINGS story that happens 60 years down the timeline. But this lengthening of the simple adventure tale makes of it something that I don't think it should be- an epic. There is no need to craft such a large picture from such a small, sweet story. Its too much.

The other problem I have with the film is what I've begun to call 'Peter Jackson Syndrome'. He first showed this dread disease in his lamentable remake of KING KONG where everything was given too much time onscreen and we had to be shown everything - often twice. This over the top quality I worst in the action scenes where Jackson seems convinced that bigger is not only better but that biggest is not quite far enough. The escape from the underground home of the goblins becomes a damned ludicrous CGI video game of Rube Goldberg enhanced madness where swinging bridges are miraculously able to ignore plausibility, physics and logic. Its irritating to have such a beautiful production undercut by the desire to go so far that even little kids will be stunned by the spectacle. I mean come on- we're dealing in dragons and dwarves for goodness sake! Your job is to make it all the more believable by grounding the action stuff in recognizable reality so the unreal things seem more credible. Isn't the tale of a bunch of fantasy characters going of on a quest to slay a dragon exciting enough? Damn! 

But even with these caveats I enjoyed the film well enough to see the next. I just wish it were to movies instead of three. That is just overkill and a money grab.

MAGIC MIKE (2012)- 8 (excellent coming of age drama-- of a sort)
MST3K: SANTA CLAUS CONQUORS THE MARTIANS (1964/1991)- 7 (rewatch) (The only way to watch this sucker!)
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951)- 8 (rewatch)
CRY OF A PROSTITUTE (1974) - 7 (Henry Silva become a Mafia Don)
THE GRAND DUEL (1972) - 8
THE WILD NORTH (1952)- 8 (rewatch)
THE HOLE (2009)- 8 (Joe Dante still knows how to make a good movie)
GREMILNS (1984)- 7 (rewatch)
RARE EXPORTS (2010)- 8 (Santa was never so creepy!)
MAUSOLEUM (1983)- 2 (terrible, terrible horror film)
HAUNTED HONEYMOON (1940)- 6 (entertaining Lord Peter Wimsey mystery)
THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (1966)- 8 (rewatch) 

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Poverty Row Poster Art

I'm feeling the urge to curl up and watch a creaky old low budget Monogram or PRC horror film from the 1940s! There is nothing else quite like these crazed hour long spook shows.