Wednesday, April 30, 2014

ROCKETEER animated short!

Thanks to Calvin in his Canadian Cave of Cool for alerting me to this. I will just second his desire for this to be a Saturday morning cartoon. Preferably when I was a kid and when Saturday morning was the only time you got to see cartoons.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I'm Getting Old! - Anniversaries.....

A recent newspaper article informed me that Flash Gordon is 80 years old this year. Eighty years old. Holy hell! I was not unaware of when Alex Raymond's greatest creation first hit comic strips around the world but consciously realizing that the character is 80 years old made me stop and think. I first became a fan of the character because of the colorful, fun and flashy (hehe hehe) 1980 movie with its comic book style, Queen soundtrack and desire to be pure eye candy. After that I sought out reprints of the original strips and even watched the three Flash Gordon serials from the 1930's multiple times. But eighty years....DAMN! After all the thinking I've been doing about this being the 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Batman I began  to wonder what other markers of my pop culture life have significant anniversaries in 2014. Here is a partial list of the things of note I found.

KILL BILL (2004) is 10 years old! - Inspired by the Saturday Morning Kung Fu Theatre this is a revenge romp featuring over-the-top action, an amazing (mostly borrowed) soundtrack, and that signature Tarantino dialogue.  All I can hope for is that he finally puts together the often rumored Whole Bloody Affair and releases that sucker to Blu-Ray!

FUTURAMA is 15 years old! -Yes- the show that has been cancelled several times over its TV run only to return better than ever, this futuristic animated comedy has more lives than a Hypnotoad.  I have loved this show from the first episode through its several straight to video movies and its great run on Comedy Central. There was a time when this show helped bring me out of a deep depression and it still has that ability today.

Hellboy is 20 years old this year! - Oh, damn, I feel old now. I was a latecomer to this character but once on board I've loved every minute of the ride. Mike Mignola's cigar chomping, ghost chasing, demon stomping, paranormal investigator has starred in an award-winning comic series, original graphic novels, novels, two animated films, and two fantastic feature movies made by Guierllmo Del Toro.  I can hope for a third film but I'm happy with what we have. I need to catch up with the recent comics!

THE SIMPSONS television show is 25 years old! -Wow! The show has become the longest running Prime Time animated series in the history of television and inspired a whole slew of animated programming (but I can forgive them for that).  The Simpsons has had such an influence on American culture that it has even created words that have been added to the dictionary like D'oh! I have given up watching new episodes of the show for about the past five years or so but will still catch one every now and then. Its not as brilliant as it once was but it still shines like comedy gold. One day, when I'm less burned out, I'll watch the last few seasons and see if it is as consistent as it was for the first decade and a half.

ALIEN is 35 years old!  - In 1979, Ridley Scott's sci-fi/horror scared the holy living Hell out of everyone brave enough to view the film in a darkened theater. In the years since it still has nearly that same level of power for fresh viewers watching in the comfort of their own homes. It is an almost perfect film that I can watch any time and I still feel like I'm catching new details each time. As I have talked about in the Bloody Pit podcast #3, ALIEN is one of my favorite films and that it is this old scares me almost as much as the film does! In space, no one can hear you scream.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Jess Franco poster art - Part 28

Caught up with this 1973 effort and was impressed with its smart use of locations and Franco's ability to conjure so much with such an incredibly small budget. The film is basically a soft-core sex version of The Most Dangerous Game spiced up with a little cannibalism so what's not to love! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

PLANET OF THE APES TV commercials from 1975

While looking around for pictures of POTA toys from the 1970's I was clued in to the fact that there were commercials for this highly profitable line of kid-bait. The fantastic Marty McKee mentioned that he had copies on a video tape from long ago (as almost all video tapes would have to be now) and I decided to extend my search to YouTube. Oh, my!

You must see these pieces from a much more naive (or clueless) time! All I can say is my brain nearly melted when I heard the line "I smell an astronaut". Words fail me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

NaschyCast #44 - DISCO ROJO (1973)

The English translation of this film's title is RED LIGHT and its a good name for this tale. Part social commentary, part crime story, part drug scare film, part action movie and in many ways an example of the darker tone 1970's cinema was taking. Of course, this is all done with a Spanish twist that makes DISCO ROJO well worth seeking out for the curious fan of movie history.  And, as you might expect, its also worth seeing if you are a fan of Paul Naschy as he plays another in his long line of nasty villains here. Naschy shines as a mid-level Mafioso placed in charge of the drug distribution and gambling  interests along Spain's Mediterranean coast. But the real star is the fantastic  actor Antonio Vilar in the role of a crusading journalist trying to unravel the tangled threads that will lead to this criminal organization. This is an interesting and sometimes confusing crime story that owes a lot to the bigger box office hits of the day but has enough of its own style to not come off as a retread. I just wish there were cultural subtitles as well as subtitles for the dialog!

The mailbag is pretty light this month but that doesn't stop us from a few tangential discussions including the news of the Naschy, Franco and Rollin influences in a novel by Edward Lee. We also talk a bit about the upcoming remake of Larraz's VAMPYRES and a few other movies of interest to Euro-Cult fans. You can write us at or join us over on the FaceBook page anytime. We'd be thrilled to hear from you. And if you get the show through iTunes we'd appreciate it if you could rate and/or review us there. It helps get the word out about the show. Thanks! 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Odd KING KONG (1933) poster art

I don't remember ever having seen this ad art for the classic until now. I like it quite a bit even if I don't think Kong ever drooled that much. Or at all. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014


In REVOLVER Oliver Reed plays Vito Caprini, an ex-cop who is now the warden of a large prison in northern Italy. Happily married and very good at his job, Caprini is the very model of a solid citizen on the right side of the law. Fabio Testi plays Milo Ruiz, a petty thief in from France whose first robbery in Italy goes badly wrong and ends with him burying his best friend/criminal accomplice in an unmarked grave. After Milo is arrested and placed in Caprini's prison these two men with nothing in common are forced together for mysterious reasons. Caprini's beautiful wife Anna (Agostina Belli) is kidnapped and Vito is told by phone that if he wants her back he must keep silent and arrange for Milo to escape from prison. The warden delays releasing his prisoner for a day to pressure him for the names of whomever is trying to get him out. When Milo claims to have no friends willing to go through something so elaborate to free him, Caprini realizes he must break him out. Putting Milo in the prison infirmary (heh heh), Caprini allows him to escape only to grab the thief so he can make a forced exchange for his wife. Following the only information they have, the antagonistic pair avoid the cops and make their way across the border to Paris. They question Milo's pop star friend Al (Daniel Beretta), who has connections to the underworld. When Al is very surprised that Milo's partner died in Italy and not France, it becomes apparent that the thief wasn't rescued from prison to do a job. And after a swap for Anna goes very wrong, it looks like Milo knows something that might get him killed.

When I first started watching European crime movies years ago I quickly learned that even the worst of them can be counted on to entertain me with great action scenes, vicious characters and the unwritten law that bleak endings were generally the best kind. Before I watched Revolver I'd seen only one of director Sergio Sollima's crime films — the fantastic Violent City. From just these two movies I can say I really hope to see much more of his work. Revolver is not as action packed a story as I've come to expect from Italian crime movies although it certainly has its fair share of fistfights, shootouts and chases. This film has several things on its mind, chief among them how society values one person over another, and why. The movie poses one answer but at the same time asks the viewers if we agree or disagree. Is the death of a person justified if a 'better' person lives by their death? And what does making that choice do to those who are forced to carry it through?

Although Revolver has the central mystery of who wants Milo Ruiz out of prison and why, it's primarily a character-driven story focusing on the relationship between the cop and the criminal. As the two are slowly forced to work together to stay alive, the script shows a steady hand in portraying them as very different people with different goals. The grudging trust they form is believable and affecting. Much of this effectiveness can be attributed to the great performances from Reed and Testi. I've come to expect strong work from Reed no matter what type of film he's in, but Testi is his equal here even with the handicap of being dubbed by another actor.

   Also contributing to the strength of Revolver is Ennio Morricone's usual excellent score. The incredibly prolific composer does a fine job here, but I did notice a strong similarity to the maestro's score for the crime movie Il Poliziotto della Brigata Criminale — released in the States as Fear in the City and The Night Caller. I can't complain about this at all, as I think the music is wonderful, but it was the first time I've heard Morricone quote himself so clearly from one score to another.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966) poster art

One of the all time great westerns. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"Batman: Strange Days" - Bruce Timm's Batman 75th Anniversary Short

Continuing my series of Batman post to celebrate the character's 75th anniversary is this fantastic piece of animation from one the greatest Batman writer/artists of the last 25 years. Bruce Timm made his mark on the brilliant Batman animated series in the early 1990's and has followed up that work with one great project after another.

Timm now presents this amazing short film that combines the black & white creepiness of a Universal Horror film with Batman in the style of the 1940's Columbia serials. I need to go back and finish watching those serials eventually. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"Brides of the Impaler" by Edward Lee

On occasion I find myself really wanting to read a certain type of book. This can be anything from mystery to fantasy to a piece of hard science fiction to a trashy men's adventure novel or even a detailed history of a particular event. But more often than not I get the urge to read a horror tale of some sort just to see what surprises the author might have for me. To that end, I am always on the look for recommendations from friends and other writers whose work I admire and it was one of those friends that years ago that pointed me toward Edward Lee's fiction. Having now finally read some of his work I must say I am a fan!

I picked up a used copy of Brides of the Impaler months ago and last week I pulled it down to see what hideous visions Mr. Lee might have for me. I knew things were going to be interesting when I read the dedication page in which the author thanks Paul Naschy, Jess Franco, Amando de Ossorio and Jean Rollin and immediately realized I should have been reading his books for a long time. I must pay more attention to modern horror novelists in the future

So, clearly he is a man after my own Euro-Horror loving heart but I had no idea just how far he would stretch this love in the story. Two of the main characters are a pair of lawyer partners named- wait for it- Paul Nasher and Jess Franklin. The cop investigating the murderous goings on is named Howard Vernon. The Catholic priest caught up in the mystery is named John Rollin (and for bonus nudges he hates the French for historical reasons). Many events take place on or near New York's obviously fictitious Dessorio Street and the characters often eat at the posh D'Amato restaurant. A couple of secondary characters that meet hideous ends are named George Gemser and Laura Eastman which will count as extra credit knowledge for most neophytes fans of the joys of Euro-Cult film. And for real Naschy fans there is the linguistics professor named Carl Aured. I love it!

Oh! And did I mention the novel's story is pretty damned good even without the judicious and amusing in-jokes for us movie geeks? Cause it IS pretty damned cool and involves a fairly fresh variation on the old Vlad Tepes, Dracula and vampiric legend & lore. This is a horror novel well worth your time.

Edward Lee! 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Jess Franco poster art - Part 27

Now this really doesn't reflect ANY of my memories of THE BLOODY JUDGE but its been a few years since I watched it. Might be time for a rewatch I guess. 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

What I Watched in March

I saw a wide variety of movies last month but the one trip to the theater was hardly worth the cash. Showing just how out of touch with a certain subset of the entertainment world I really am, I was unaware that NEED FOR SPEED (2014) was based on a video game. If I had known this I would never have agreed to spend money to see it, but we learn and we grow, huh? Still, I was interested to see Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul on the big screen. It might have been worth the trip out to determine if he has a chance at moving from small screen to large so I'm not going to claim too much of a wound. I find Paul to be an engaging and extremely talented actor and I'm glad to be able to report that he is very good in this film. He is able to breathe some visible emotion into a character written as thinly as you would expect from a game adaptation. He does his best with the material but there is only so much you can do with this lifeless. The only other real plus the film has is something you would also expect from its source - very well shot car crashes. Well- I'm sure that there are some people actually interested in car races - which the film has to spare- but its the crashes that are worth seeing even if the rest of the movie is by turns predictable, stupid and thin to the point of emaciation. NEED FOR SPEED is worth seeing if you can fast forward through the dull, pointless stretches and just get to the car footage.

And what the Hell is Michael Keaton doing in this movie? He plays a character that never interacts with anyone else and mostly just stares into the camera pontificating about the Zen of Racing. He speaks convincingly whatever words he has to say but its all gibberish and comes off as a cinematic afterthought. It's as if they thought they needed a narrator but realized paying Keaton for a day's work would seem more impressive and less of a storytelling cheat. You know the film is confused about his character when we are told up front that on one knows what he looks like but we then see that he broadcasts an internet video show almost every day. How can no one know what he looks like? As I said- the film is pretty damned stupid.

HIT MAN (1972)- 6 (it has a certain lack of forward momentum but overall its a pretty good action film)
EYEBALL (1975)- 8 (rewatch)
REVENGE OF THE NINJA (1983)- 3 (rewatch) (terrible, but entertainingly bad)
THE BEAST OF HOLLOW MOUNTAIN (1956) - 6 (rewatch)
LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971)- 6 (rewatch) 
47 RONIN (2013)- 7 (well done fantasy)
JOHNNY COOL (1963)- 6 (good but not great crime tale)
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1967)- 10 (rewatch)
CURUCU -BEAST OF THE AMAZON (1956)- 3 (not very good monster tale)
ACT OF VENGEANCE (1974)- 7 (interesting rape revenge film)  
NEED FOR SPEED (2014)- 4 (pretty silly and dumb revenge/carsploitation film- not boring but very paint by numbers)
THE INITIATION (1984)- 6 (well done slasher)
FRIGHT NIGHT 2 (2013)- 3 (not a sequel but a second remake of the original -colorful and pretty but dumb)
TRANCE (2013)- 9 (excellent mystery thriller)
THE BISHOP MURDER CASE (1930)- 6 (pretty good Philo Vance mystery)
ALL-STAR SUPERMAN (2011)- 9 (excellent animated film)

Friday, April 04, 2014

Jose Larraz poster art

Most Cult or Euro-Trash fans know about the brilliant Larraz directed VAMPYRES (1974)....

...but far fewer folks know about his other genre efforts. I have seen a couple of these and have enjoyed each one. I recommend using whatever means are at your disposal to see his work- its very rewarding. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


The back of the DVD case refers to this film as a "luridly gothic giallo". Maybe I'm a traditionalist but to me, gialli are contemporary tales of black-gloved murderers set in urban locales. Perhaps I've just seen too many films that fit that mold; it seems that to call SEVEN DEATHS IN A CAT'S EYE a giallo is stretching things a bit. While I'll concede the film boasts a black-gloved killer with a straight razor fixation, that detail alone doesn't make it a part of that vicious little sub-genre. To my perhaps too-picky eye it's more accurately a gothic horror film, and a pretty entertaining one as well. Director Antonio Margheriti made many Gothics in his career developing a feel for them that is quite accomplished. Over time I find myself returning to his work with regualarity and marveling at his inventivness. One can hear echoes of his earlier efforts from the 1960's in this film but working in color and on beautiful locations in Scotland he breathes some real freshness into the scenario. SEVEN DEATHS IN A CAT'S EYE has all the great qualities (murder mystery, gorgeous ladies, etc.) and flaws (slow pace, logic lapses) that most Gothics share, with a few strange things added to rattle the bars on the cage. While at least one idea thrown into the mix seems pointless, I can't complain too much about a film that involves both a lesbian and a violent orangutan!

The film is set in and around a large Scottish castle named Dragonstone. The story begins with an anonymous man being killed in the castle by an unseen assailant. His body is dumped in the cavernous cellar where rats immediately start devouring his face. Dragonstone is the ancestral home of the MacGrieff family, but the current Lady MacGrieff (Francoise Christophe) is having trouble maintaining the place. She's just been rebuffed in an attempt to get financial help from visiting relative Lady Alicia (Dana Ghia) when the unexpected arrival of Alicia's young daughter Corringa (the lovely Jane Birkin) changes Lady MacGrieff's plans. Hoping for a romantic match between her son Lord James MacGrieff (Hiram Keller) and the beautiful Corringa, she plots to bring them together. James is a recluse who purportedly killed his baby sister when a child and has been kept a virtual prisoner in Dragonstone his entire life. James' sensitive side is shown by his hobby of painting and in his choice of pet — an oversized orangutan bought from a passing circus. This poor creature has a violent streak and has somehow gotten out of its cage recently. Hmmmm... An embittered man who resents his status as a virtual prisoner in his own home, Lord MacGrieff demonstrates his anger one evening by insulting most of his mother's dinner guests. The only person who seems to be able to get any respect from James is the newly arrived village priest (Venantino Venantini). The object of most of the lord's vitriol is his personal doctor-in-residence, Franz (Anton Diffring). He has the dual responsibility of treating James' supposed madness and serving as Lady MacGrieff's lover. Franz routinely beds her but also keeps regular appointments with Suzanne, the sexy "French teacher" originally brought to Dragonstone to entice James to produce an heir.

Lady Alicia's response to Lord MacGrieff's dinnertime rudeness is to make swift plans for she and Corringa to leave the castle, but that night someone slips into Alicia's bedroom and smothers her. Lady MacGreiff convinces Franz to falsify the death certificate even as both of them claim to be ignorant of who murdered the woman. Hmmmmm... Corringa has been amused since childhood by tales of the family curse, which states that any MacGrieff killed by one of the same blood will return as a vampire to exact revenge. But when her mother's coffin is discovered ripped apart and her body missing, she begins to fear that the curse may be more than just a bedtime story. Soon servants are being killed by a razor-wielding murderer, cousins James and Corringa are writhing in bed together, the orangutan is loose and the police are stumbling around trying to solve the murders. 

Seven Deaths juggles a myriad of characters and ideas in an attempt to maintain interest and it succeeds pretty darned well. The red herrings fly by with just enough emphasis to keep each stuck in the memory, while a hint of strangeness is added by having the same fluffy housecat witness each murder. The presence of the cat soon becomes the herald of impending violent death which, of course, makes the proceedings even more entertaining. Indeed, I can easily imagine a drinking game centered on the cat's appearances throughout the movie. Drunkenness would be the eventual outcome. 

The film plays skillfully with the standard gothic tropes, including bringing the often subtextual (and just as often pointless) lesbianism out a bit more than usual. The script doesn't have a lot of fresh ideas but handles them well enough to keep a sharp viewer on his toes. Scattered around is some nicely turned dialog and some good performances, giving one a pretty clever Gothic with a completely unsolvable mystery at its core. Damned good fun! Working in a genre in which he was well versed allows Margheriti to play with using the widescreen canvas to good effect; he really piles on the colored gels in his lighting designs. No chance for primary lighting is missed, whether it is sunlight passing through stained glass windows or a multicolored lampshade casting rainbow shadows around dark rooms. For a giallo or a Gothic fan this is a must see!