Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy 75th Birthday Batman!

You've provided me with countless hours of entertainment since I was a wee lad. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cast & director Photo - ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968)

They look like they're having a good time. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Universal Horror trailers

Over on the Book of Faces I was alerted by Tim Lucas to this wonderful and pretty damned complete assembly of Universal Horror movie trailers and it is well worth passing on to you. I've thought for years that Universal was leaving money on the table by not compiling just such a collection and marketing it in some fanboy pleasing fashion. Until they realize their mistake you can enjoy this hour and a half of great previews of mostly classics.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Beyond Naschy #10 - EYEBALL (1975)

The new Beyond Naschy episode brings us another giallo and our first chance to talk about director Umbeto Lenzi. If you are only familiar with Lenzi's work through his horror movies EYEBALL might come as a shock. We discuss the amazing number of highly entertaining (and competently made!) films from this under-sung Italian genius (?) and speak about his skill at crafting fun tales.

EYEBALL is a very fast and witty murder mystery that has a number of pluses and very few minuses. One of the best elements is the energetic, exciting score by maestro Bruno Nicolai which I've peppered throughout the show. Of course, the main, reoccurring theme will be familiar to longtime NaschyCast listeners but there are several other melodious tracks. The discussion ranges all over the film with each of us finding it amusing that the cast of American tourists in Spain are very much like a group of typical stereotypes from an Irwin Allen disaster epic - TOWERING EYEBALL INFERNO, perhaps? And Troy comes another step down the path of accepting that a Giallo is always going to screw you by withholding vital need-to-know information - Guessing the murderer's identity is the only chance you have because empirical evidence is useless in one of these thrillers. You just gotta enjoy the ride!

I have to give a very public nod to the excellent plot synopsis by Nick Thomson from his great blog DeadShed Productions. His clever way with words helped us dive into this film and give it its due.  I recommend checking out his site. If you have any feedback for us please write to or visit us over on the Book of Faces NaschyCast page. And, thank you downloading and listening! 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Interview with director Umberto Lenzi

This is an excellent talk with the legendary Italian director. The focus in this piece is on his cannibal exploitation film EATEN ALIVE (1980) but you can easily get a sense of the man and his approach to his work. Wish I could find him talking about EYEBALL (1975)!

Friday, March 21, 2014

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968) poster art and lobby cards

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

THE SLAVE (1962) or THE SON OF SPARTACUS... if you must!

Make no mistake about it- I think THE SLAVE is a fantastic film. It's not perfect, but I was shocked at how good it turned out to be. I've been a fan of the Sword & Sandal genre for decades now but until I watched this little slice of Italian joy I had never thought very seriously about how much the adventures of Hercules, Samson, Machiste and all those other muscle bound supermen were a simple outgrowth of the great historical dramas of  1950's Hollywood. Movies like EL CID (1961), QUO VADIS (1951), THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956),  and (of course) BEN HUR (1959) were the broad template for the movies of lesser scope and budget that flourished for about seven or eight years until the wave of Spaghetti westerns caused those well trained horses and stuntmen to be used to craft tales of another genre. My love of the Hercules type of fantasy/adventure films had never really made me very curious about their more historical minded brethren before now but this fine film has reversed that- probably for good. 

Also known under the more accurate title of THE SON OF SPARTACUS this is an even more fictitious account of Roman history than the classic Kubrick film it plays at sequelizing. It tells of Roman Centurion Randus (Steve Reeves) who has ascended to high rank in Julius Caesars' army by demonstration of great leadership qualities. His elevated position is made even more impressive when we learn Randus is an orphan but has still risen so high in Rome's often nepotistic political and military culture. The only clue of his parentage is an amulet he has worn around his neck since childhood. This bit of neckwear serves as the clue to a rescued slave that this battle hardened Roman soldier is actually the son of the great leader Spartacus who lead the famously failed slave revolt twenty years before. At first skeptical of this claim of extraordinary parentage Randus is eventually forced to accept it as true and pick up where his brave father left off. In a move that seems like great good fortune (or sly scriptwriting) Caesar (Ivo Garrani) asks his new Centurion to go to the city overseen by Crassus (Claudio Gora) to keep tabs on that politician's often dangerous ambitions. As Crassus is the man responsible for the death of Spartacus in that long ago war it makes the task of taking up Spartacus' sword and helmet much easier to contemplate. After securing the help of a few close Roman friends and aligning himself with a growing group of escaped slaves Randus begins a well coordinated series of attacks designed to destroy Crassus' hold on the region and eventually take him down. But can this be done with Caesar in control of the Empire or will this slave revolt have the same sad end as the last? 

This is a beautiful movie shot partially on location in the Egyptian desert and given real depth by the use of wonderful widescreen cinematography. Even tough the print used on Warner's Burn On Demand DVD isn't a well scrubbed re-master the film looks pretty darned good and I can only imagine how compromised the image would be cropped down to a TV friendly sliver. As helmed by my second favorite Italian director named Sergio (Corbucci, thank you very much) this is a very well paced adventure tale that also manages to feel that we are really watching a man come into his own as a revolutionary leader. Sure, the scene of Randus being brought to a ruin to be shown the relics of his father's past is a bit portentous and silly when you stand back from it, but it works so effectively in the moment that it doesn't matter. 

I'd like to be able to say that this scene works well because of star Reeves' ability as a performer but to be honest he is a little stiff in this film. Not that he was ever the greatest thespian involved in the peplum cycle of movies but he could usually be called upon to emote well enough. And the moments in a Hercules film in which he seemed to be less than fully engaged could always be excused (in my eyes) as the reactions of a demi-god or even the fault of the often distancing dubbing that was part of the joy of watching these movies. But in THE SLAVE I found myself noticing more than a few times that Reeves wasn't pulling his own weight alongside his fellow actors. In a few scenes it was actually distracting especially when the dialog is being quite clever but our star isn't putting any real spin on his delivery. Luckily the supporting cast is fantastic and filled with faces familiar to fans of the genre or really of Italian genre cinema of any type. They make this well told tale shine brightly and paints nicely subtle shades of villainy that often seems evil depending on exactly where you stand in the Roman Empire power structure. 

This is a fun, highly entertaining old school sword, sand and blood story told with much energy and enthusiasm. Like any good peplum of the times it cribs from a multitude of sources (including 1958's THE VIKINGS) but does so very smartly. You won't find a better example of the non-fantasy end of the genre and although the film is slightly longer than average at 103 minutes Corbucci's direction and the script's forward momentum keep everything moving so well that you may not notice the running time. I was not expecting such a strongly produced movie but I couldn't happier to have finally seen this one. I knew Sergio Corbucci had made several exceptional westerns (THE GREAT SILENCE, COMPANEROS, DJANGO, etc.) but this film shows that his skill transcended genres and I need to seek out more of his work - much more!  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

CURUCU - Still Unseen

I have still not seen this film! I have to rectify this situation soon. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Bloody Pit #13 - Jamesian Radio!

With the thirteenth episode it is just me flying solo again. As this series of podcasts features a random assortment of things that interest and/or entertain me I have no fear of zigging around and sometimes talking about things most folks know nothing about. In that vein, this time out I'm bringing you a fun piece of Horror Radio that requires a little explanation. So, in this short show, I first explain who author M. R. James was; then I point you toward the wonderful literary podcast about his ghost fiction and finally I present one of the odder audio adaptations of his work - all in a day's work for a media magpie such as I am! Oh- and I found a neat piece of James inspired music to end the show as well! I hope you enjoy this bit of creepy fun.

Feel free to let me know what you think of this episode or, indeed, any previous one. I can be reached by writing to if you have any comments on the podcast. The show can be downloaded from the link below or subscribed to through iTunes. Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Batman vs.Terminator fan film!

Having just recently seen the DC Animated version of Frank Miller's classic The Dark Knight Returns I was primed for this little one man experiment. This five minute blast of awesome is the brainchild of Mitchell Hammond of the blog If It Blogs, We Can Kill It and I recommend checking it out. He has produced an excellent combination of the Dark Knight idea and the dystopian future of the first two Terminator films. I would love it if this became a full length film! 

Saturday, March 08, 2014

EYEBALL (1975) poster art

Umberto Lenzi's very fun giallo was graced with many alternate titles but it will always be EYEBALL to me. 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

What I Watched in February

Through nefarious methods (thank you faraway friends) I was able to see the ROBOCOP remake and I have to say that it was not bad at all. It is not in the same league as the original and the satire has been mostly excised (along with the harsh humor) but its an effective action film that held my attention. The movie even offered up a few surprises that made it clear that the filmmakers had thought through a number of elements of the story in ways that are actually fresh. The cast is very good with Gary Oldman as the scientist in charge of building a better police officer really giving the film a performance above the norm for this kind of material. The movie is also well directed with an organic feel as it moves efficiently from place to place in a way that is smooth enough to paper over some logical questions the script skips past. The biggest problem is that it feels a bit neutered in its aim to stay bloodless for a PG-13 rating so the story has very little punch. Its a well done movie but, unlike the 1987 film, it is easily forgotten and might only become something memorable with a sequel that goes for more visceral thrills and sharper wit.

I had hopes that JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT might be a smart thriller but it didn't measure up. I was excited to see what director Kenneth Branagh could bring to an espionage tale although the idea of rebooting the Jack Ryan character again was less than appealing. The cast of the film is pretty darned good with Branagh himself as the main Russian nemesis, Kevin Costner as the older mentor and Chris Pine as the big screen's fourth (or fifth - I don't care) Jack Ryan. The surprise was Keira Knightley as Ryan's finance. This is the first time I've seen her try on an American accent and its a reasonably good fit. In fact, all concerned do fine jobs onscreen with what they are given but the problem here is that the story is nothing you haven't seen before. There is nothing surprising or even particularly interesting going on in this film. The plot is straightforward and it unfolds in a standard, predictable manner. Some of the spy sequences have visual snap but the style and talented cast can't conceal a mediocre film that should have been much more entertaining. Its not a terrible movie but it is nothing thrilling or memorable.

THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1975)- 7 (rewatch)
THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (2012)- 4 (not very compelling love letter to Kung-Fu action films)
THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977)- 6 (rewatch)
SEX KITTENS GO TO COLLEGE (1960)- 3 (terrible comedy but it has some interest)
THE LOST WORLD (1960)- 6 (fun version of the Doyle tale - not as good as the 1925 film)
COME OUT AND PLAY (2012)- 4 (flat, dull remake of WHO COULD KILL A CHILD?)
THINNER (1996)- 5 (mediocre Stephen King horror tale)
NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST (1975)- 8  (rewatch)
SHE (1935)- 8 (rewatch)
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE MASK OF DEATH (1984)- 7 (Peter Cushing's last run at the role is a Hammer reunion)
ROBOCOP (2014)- 7 (solid but neutered and forgettable remake)
MONSTERS (2010) - 8
DEVIL DOLL (1964) - 4 (rewatch)
THE FORMULA (1980)-  5 (slight thriller with an interesting cast)
SANGRAAL, THE SWORD OF FIRE (1982)- 3 (terrible but entertaining Italian barbarian film)
BURIAL GROUND (1981)- 3 (rewatch) (I love this terrible film!)
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: PARTS 1 & 2  (2013)- 9 (near perfect animated adaptation of the comic books)

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Alternate PACIFIC RIM (2013) poster art!

This take on the classic poster for JAWS is simply wonderful and too funny to not share. I love it! 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Blaxploitation Poster Art