Saturday, September 28, 2013

Poster Art for Leon Klimovsky Films

The amazing Klimovsky made movies in many genres but will always be best remembered for his horror efforts. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Beyond Naschy #8 - THE AWFUL DOCTOR ORLOFF (1962)

The sharp eyed listener will notice an odd numbering on this episode so I must explain things. As we move through our fourth year of the Naschycast we are going to be occasionally spreading our wings wider to embrace more Spanish Horror than ever before. We started doing shows we called Beyond Naschy episodes a couple of years ago to cover some of the great films of the genre from Spain - TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD, HORROR EXPRESS, etc.- as well as lesser known examples - I HATE MY BODY, CUT THROATS NINE. We did seven previous of these shows and have been hoping to return to talking about non-Naschy movies sooner than now but time is a precious commodity. Now we have decided to fold the Beyond shows into our regular schedule to supplement our Naschy coverage and to talk about the less well known corners of Spanish Horror. Of course, THE AWFUL DOCTOR ORLOFF is far from obscure in Euro-Horror circles but its new Blu-Ray release is cause enough for discussion. So -Beyond Naschy #8!

Troy and I delve into this beautiful, haunting black & white film with real joy. We find much to chew on from implied incest to dull protagonists to colorful secondary characters to mysterious motivations. We don't spoil the ending but we do talk about most of the characters in depth with our thoughts on their desires and competence.  Many questions are asked such as- Is this film one of the great links connecting the classic Universal Monster films to later splashes of the grotesque that Euro-Sleaze would bring to screen around the world? Is Howard Vernon one of the coolest mo-fos of all time? Does Franco know how to photograph beautiful women? I think you know the answers! Join us for a creepy night of horror, blood and a bit of nudity.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Love for PIECES (1982)

It was during my 9th grade year that I saw my first European horror film and it was on the big screen. Lucky me! 

In the 9th and 10th grades I attended a boarding school in Chattanooga. Being trapped in a campus dorm Monday through Friday made some type of escape on the weekend absolutely necessary. Not being overly interested in drugs and only marginally interested in alcohol I usually spent a few hours each Saturday in a movie theater sucking up whatever Hollywood would throw at me. But on this particular Saturday night I was in for something a bit more…..odd.

Several of us had spotted the newspaper ads for PIECES and were taken aback by the forwardness of the rather lurid image. By this time I had heard of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE but had yet to see it so this seemed even more dangerous. If this was striving to top that film what might be sprayed across the screen? A few of us teenage boys made plans to see this sucker no matter what. Understand- we were under no illusions about the nastier elements of the film. Hell! That’s why we were daring each other to go! We saw PIECES as a test of our masculinity, a rite of passage that without experiencing might point towards us becoming less than we were capable of being. We were men in training and we could handle anything this film could throw at us! Take your best shot!

Needless to say we were appalled by what we saw. Stunned! Shocked! Sickened, even! Grotesque on a level none of us had seen before we were reduced to trying to ‘man up’ by making fun of the gore and pretending we weren’t scared when the sounds of a chainsaw (or, in a smart cheap scare, a motorcycle) roared out of the screen. Luckily there were enough ridiculous moments to allow us the respite of humor to salve our raw nerves. I’ll never forget one of my buddies’ stunned reaction to the killer getting into a small elevator with an intended victim while hiding the chainsaw under his coat. His ‘Is that woman blind’ was one the biggest laughs I’ve ever had in a movie theater to this day.

Although I didn’t know it at the time this was a turning point in my love of the movies. Not immediately but over the next few years I began to return to the horror genre more often and found that I preferred it to all others. The thrills of scary movies have remained my favorite viewing and exploring the European horror films has been the most fascinating area of this most frowned upon hobby of mine. Oh well.

Several years ago my dreams of a Special Edition DVD of this mad film became glorious reality and I can now pull this bit of cinematic insanity off the shelf any time, on any whim. And having discovered that the Spanish director of this one made the just as crazed 'monster' film SLUGS (which is its own brand of giggle inducing joy) a few years later I’m now interested in seeing more of Juan Piquer Simon’s list of credits. With titles like MYSTERY ON MONSTER ISLAND (on the shelf and waiting), THE FABULOUS JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (has this gone out of print?) and SEA DEVILS (where the Hell am I gonna find this?) on that list my curiosity is aroused. Of course, he also made POD PEOPLE which was one of the worst pieces of crap Mystery Science Theater ever heckled. The joys of cinematic discovery are many and varied! And to think that the seeds of this were planted 31 years ago in a little theater in Chattanooga, TN. 

Where's the Blu-Ray? 

Saturday, September 21, 2013


I went looking for the trailer of this strange late 50's Universal Horror/Western hybrid and instead turned up this four minute snippet on YouTube. I really enjoy this odd pairing of two very different genres and wish that it had been successful enough to warrant more such movies. If you've never seen this one and are a fan of the classic Universal monster films I think you'll get a kick out of this attempt to spice things up as the horror boom faded at the studio.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013


I have no good excuse for watching this film beyond my love of the cinema of Enzo Castellari. I have loved nearly everything I've ever seen of his directorial efforts so I expected this to be a hidden, little talked about gem that I could speak about the next time someone brought up INGLORIOUS BASTARDS or THE BIG RACKET or 1990:THE BRONX WARRIORS.

"Why, yes- I'm a huge fan of Castellari's work. I love how he was able to swing through any genre and craft a fine film every time. Have you seen his Sinbad film? He handled fantasy as well as he did crime or action." 

(I have these imaginary conversations with people that aren't there often. I'm seeking help- bare with me.)

Only now that I've seen SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS (1989)  my faith is shaken. This is a terrible, silly film! I'm not even going to ask why Lou Ferrigno was tapped to play a muscle bound version of Sinbad. That's something I'm willing to just accept. I can also make allowances for the fact that it was obviously written as a children's movie with all the broadness of a Disney channel sitcom but it's still awful. From what I can learn the story was originally written by Luigi Cozzi (which explains the terrible dialog - see STARCRASH) and he was going to direct it but somehow Castellari was hired to helm the film at the last minute. I guess the producers had little faith in Cozzi as a director. According to Wikipedia (so be careful) Castellari changed Cozzi's script drastically, spent the several million dollar budget and submitted three hours of "non-releasable" footage to the producer, who shelved the project. Having now seen the 93 minute film cut from this footage I have serious doubts about this assertion. This shortened version of what was shot has the clear markings of a tale being produced as a mini-series for television. The story jumps forward every few minutes with the framing narrator (Daria Nicolodi!) papering over the missing details to keep things moving. This makes the film even more crazy than it would be otherwise with it often playing like the highlight reel for a Sinbad voyage. It makes what would have been, at best, an over the top, colorful, silly kid's movie completely bizarre.

Once again according to Wikipedia, Cozzi was hired back in 1989 to try to fix up the picture and the producer spent an additional half million dollars to finish it giving us the truncated version of this film. Cozzi's involvement might explain the strange modern touches present here such as the science fiction style sets for the evil wizard's lair and odd dialog that references 20th century ideas. Some of these same touches were in his earlier Ferrigno starring Hercules films. I don't know that my suspected mini-series version would have been any better but as it stands this is a movie best left off most Castellari fan's list of 'must sees'. It is painful! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Gamera Ad and Poster Art

I never met a Gamera movie I didn't like. Some are better than others but what's to dislike about a giant flying turtle? 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Behind the Scenes with The Bride

This image of Elsa Lanchester touching up her Bride of Frankenstein makeup is sublime. It makes me want to hug her! And then hope she doesn't hiss at me like a pissed off swan and reject me as the misshapen monster that I am. 

This got weird faster than I expected. 

Saturday, September 07, 2013

What I Watched in August

Two trips to the theater last month and both films were comic book adaptations. THE WOLVERINE finally spotlights Hugh Jackman's tortured hero in a film worthy of the actor's efforts.  The script uses the 1980's Wolverine comic book mini-series as its jumping off point but melds it with several ideas of its own. Logan is asked to visit Japan for the first time in years to say goodbye to a man he once saved from an horrific death. Once there he is pulled into a complicated power play by family members to control his friend's multi-billion dollar company. His instincts lead him to protect the young female heir especially after it becomes clear that there is a small army of ninja trained warriors after her. Adding to the complications is the fact that Logan has been poisoned in a way that is suppressing his super-human healing ability.

This film is well paced, well acted and is written at a level far above the previous Wolverine film. I was so disappointed by that movie and it wouldn't have taken much to improve on its bad memory but this is a picture that succeeds on nearly all levels. It not as satisfying as X-MEN: FIRST CLASS but it really is miles better than the sad ORIGINS movie. That previous film was a mess that tried to cram as many characters into the tale as it possibly could making the idea that it was a Wolverine origin story ridiculous. This movie wisely keeps the superhuman characters to less than a handful and lets the emotional changes Logan has to go through become the center of the story. Oh- and the action scenes are pretty damned good as well!

2 GUNS is the latest adaptation of a modern crime comic book and its a fun one. When THE ROAD TO PERDITION (2002) and A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005) were hits I expected to see more such adaptations reach the screen but, unless I've been missing them, there haven't been too many. 2 GUNS is based on a very good crime comic written by Steven Grant and while the film does alter some elements of the story it is a pretty good version. The film is crafted to play to the strengths of its two lead actors and the humor of the characters is heightened but it gets most things right. Of the two leads I enjoy Denzel Washington better because of his ease onscreen and effortless ability to make you believe every word he says. Mark Walberg is an actor I've never really warmed to even when I think he is well cast. I still don't understand why he was nominated for an Oscar for THE DEPARTED when his performance in that movie was easily the least impressive. Still, in this film he is acceptable as a foil for Denzel and the story is solid enough that I don't have to be interested in Walberg's character to enjoy the ride. I suspect 2 GUNS will find its audience on video and become better known.

ZAAT (1971)- 2 (terrible but fun)
SUPERMAN: UNBOUND (2013)- 6 (animated battle with Brainiac)
OUR MAN FLINT (1966)- 8 (rewatch)
BLINDMAN (1971)- 6 (pretty good spaghetti western)
CONQUEST (1983)- 3 (rewatch) (terrible Fulci fantasy)
THE ARTIST (2011)- 10 (rewatch)
THREE STRANGERS (1946)- 7 (excellent crime tale)
TARZAN'S MAGIC FOUNTAIN (1949)- 6 (Lex Barker as the Ape Man)
DREDD (2012)- 9 (rewatch)
DOUBLE CROSSBONES (1951)- 5 (silly, fun pirate comedy)
ZOTZ! (1962)- 5 (silly comedy from William Castle)
RITUALS (1977)- 7 (harsh backwoods stalker tale)
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (2012)- 3 (terrible horror effort)
EXIT HUMANITY (2010)- 2 (boring, pretentious zombie film)
THE VENGEANCE OF SHE (1968)- 6 (rewatch)
2 GUNS (2013)- 7 (solid crime caper)
KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1937) -6 (padded with songs!)
CURSE OF THE UNDEAD (1959)- 6 (rewatch) (vampire western)
BULLET TO THE HEAD (2013)- 7 (Walter Hill still knows manly action)
BARRACUDA (1978)- 3  (low budget JAWS rip off with an interesting ending)

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Post Apocalyptic poster art

Although I came to love these types of tales in the heyday of the rash of ROAD WARRIOR rip offs that filled video store shelves in my teenage years I find I love almost any attempt to tell a Post Apocalypse story on film. Not that all are good - believe me- but the genre is fascinating to me for many reasons. Of course, I gravitate toward the trashier examples but I'm not above a thoughtful, intelligent film. From time to time.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Big Country -Music videos

For the past month or so I have been listening to the first three albums by Scottish rock band Big Country. I can't remember what made me pull these CDs from the shelf and add them to the iPod but what ever the urge that drove me, I'm glad for it. I'm enjoying revisiting this music and finding that it still speaks to me in some profound ways. Of course, these feelings may just be the type of thing that you associate with youth and the emotional turmoil that comes with looking more toward the future than the past, but I'm swept along by these songs never the less. Was I more optimistic in my teenage years of the 1980's? I'm too far removed to know for sure.
Anyone else out there like Big Country? Anyone else out there ever even heard of them before now?

I can remember seeing these on MTV. Damn- I'm old!

Sunday, September 01, 2013