Thursday, May 29, 2014

Universal Monster Toys!

How did I miss these??? 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Anniversary - Dungeons & Dragons is 40 Years Old

This one really hits home with me.

Although I played many other role-playing games Dungeons & Dragons was the all time champ. I have no idea how many countless hours of enjoyment this wonderful little game brought to my young life. Entire weekends were spent in my parent's (literal) basement running friends through so many battles and so much adventure that the telling of them all would fill a dozen books. Nothing fueled my fantasy loving imagination more than this wonderful game because it allowed me to create and embellish tales in a way that made the the monsters and evil wizards more fun. The players I was creating these tales of bloody quests with relished the often mad details and we all loved crafting a world of sword wielding heroics that could almost be seen as we rolled those dice. Just flipping through the Monster Manual or the Fiend Folio was enough to get the creative juices flowing and conjure up new tricks and traps to spring on the other players. 

The game was inspired by the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard and as designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Anderson is an amazingly immersive experience. As a kid, being able to put myself into a world populated by elves, wizards, dwarves, trolls and dragons of different colors and powers was incredible. I cannot overemphasize how much joy D&D gave me over the years. I learned a lot playing this game and I'm not ashamed to say that a lot of those lessons have served me well in later life. That may sound silly but it is true. Playing this game helped make me a better person. How's that for countering all the crazy BS from the press in the 1980's?

Monday, May 26, 2014

STREETS OF FIRE (1984) poster art

None of these images really impress me and I think that is symptomatic of how the studio had no idea how to market this film. It is a strange one- A Rock & Roll Fable - but I think its one of Walter Hill's crowning achievements. And Hill made 48 HRS, THE WARRIORS, THE LONG RIDERS and THE DRIVER so that is high praise. I understand he had to trim the movie down for a PG rating so I hope one day he might be able to restore his full-blooded vision for video. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960)- poster art and lobby cards

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What is Wrong with RETURN OF THE JEDI ?

Lots of things. I can remember how much I loved this film as a teenager and that love lasted about ten years. Some time in my twenties I realized just how sloppy, dumb and irritating so much of ROTJ is. There is a solid fifteen or twenty minutes in the film (mostly the beginning and parts of the end) but in the final analysis this film is pretty sad.

Allow this video to illustrate---

Monday, May 19, 2014

NaschyCast #45 - THE HANGING WOMAN (1973)

Episode forty-five brings us back to the wonders and excitement of a Gothic period tale! The film is so steeped in creepy atmosphere that it begins with a funeral, which leads to a will reading and inevitably to a sleazy seduction - its all good. The plot will be familiar to genre fans but the story has a few nice twists on the standard tropes. So much fun! One of the joys of a gothic tale is the chance to see rare locations and The Hanging Woman (a.k.a. Terror of the Living Dead) has a great set of places to delight the eye. Of course, it also has a couple of lovely ladies in Maria Pia Conte and Dyanik Zurakowska. Both of them vie for the attentions of our handsome leading man--- no - not Naschy! He was too busy to play the time consuming central figure. Instead our man Paul Naschy plays the local gravedigger and all around oozer of sleaze by the name of Igor. Strangely, Igor does not work for the film's mad scientist character. Odd, but you gotta love it!

In this film we discover many things- the dark world of Nebulous Electricity: the possibilities of Black Magic as a hobby; an alternate way of reanimating the dead; the fact that its difficult to maintain a monogamous relationship even if your girlfriend is a corpse; and that its good to be the king of any small domain. We were both surprised by this one and that is no mean feat.

You can write us at and let us know your thoughts on The Hanging Woman or any other Naschy related or non-Naschy related topic. We plan to get back to tackling some other Spanish Horror films in new Beyond Naschy episodes later this summer - we think you'll be surprised! Thanks for listening and be sure to rate and review us in iTunes or where ever you find our show.

Jess Franco poster art - Part 30

Whoa! I guess Uncle Jess really did make almost every kind of movie it is possible to make. Check out this plot synopsis--  "A young aristocrat falls in love with a gypsy-girl the day of his engagement. After a fight in which the young man is injured and convalescent for a while, he returns to his love, the gypsy-girl, who has became a well-known artist in Paris." 

Not sure when I'll ever get around to this one but I'm glad to know it exists. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Anniversary - Scooby Doo!

Scooby Doo is 45 years old. Oh, my! How old am I, again? 

This most reluctant canine sleuth and his bizarre group of human minders was my first favorite Saturday morning cartoon series as a young lad. Although there are many criticisms that can be leveled against the show (repetitive plots, repetition of animated backgrounds, silly ideas, etc) this character has brought so much joy and happiness to me and, indeed, to at least three generations of kids and kids at heart that I feel all can be forgiven. The show is simplicity itself - Scooby and the gang drive around the country in their awesome van named The Mystery Machine and solve mysteries. Now, even at a young age I wondered just how these young folks were able to afford all this travel and all those Scooby Snacks since I never saw them getting paid for their hard work. Where did the gas money come from? How were those hamburgers bought? As I got older I created a possible side story about how Shaggy was actually a criminal mastermind pulling off heists in each town the gang drove through to finance the ghost busting 'fun' side of life. But I digress.

Nothing makes me happier about this character than the fact that he is just as beloved by the current crop of young cartoon loving kids as he was to me and mine. Scooby Doo is one the great pop culture icons in American entertainment history even if we have to squint to forget the Scrappy Doo years. Those were dark days.  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

FLASH GORDON (1980) teaser poster art!

This amazing teaser poster art for one of my favorite guilty pleasures (?) is by Philip Castle and shows beautifully the fabled Hawk Men of Mongo! I love almost everything about that film. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM is 30 years old! Holy suspension bridge! The first film will always be the best of the lot but I find this much derided second movie in the (ongoing?) series to be the most fun. I love the setting, the style and the fact that the female sidekick is such a pain in the ass! I also like Short Round and I usually hate pointless kid sidekicks. 

The film got a lot of grief at the time because of its violence but I have always loved that the film was willing to push things so far and still keep it relatively bloodless. I mean, that has to be the most impressive heart removal scene of all time and there is NO squirting blood! You gotta love that! The general consensus seems to be that the third film was better but I've always been irritated that in that movie they returned to Nazis as the villain. All the bitching about Temple Of Doom seems to have made them want to stay with a villain that did not have to be established onscreen so as to avoid having to create one - just point at the SS officer and say 'I hate these guys'. Sloppy and sad.  Sign me up for a round of Anything Goes anytime! 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

DC Comics' Shadow Covers

If i had unlimited funds I would own this entire run. I wish DC would reprint this comics in cheap trade paperback form. Now! 

Friday, May 09, 2014

What I Watched In April

The second Captain America film is being lauded as possibly the best super hero movie and it IS very good. Marvel has very intelligently made an espionage thriller with a super powered main character instead of making a 'super-hero' movie. The well crafted plot smartly moves Steve Rogers forward while introducing The Falcon (excellent turn by Anthony Mackie), giving The Black Widow a very good role in the story, finally gives Samuel l. Jackson's Nick Fury something to do onscreen other than scowl and issue orders and gives us the great Robert Redford having a grand old time being the smartest villain (spoiler?) the Marvel franchise has yet produced. And the fact that they managed to link the current S.H.I.E.L.D. television series into the film was a stroke of storytelling genius! I love the show and having this adventure merge with the events that have been unfolding recently with Agent Coulson's team really felt like the old comic book summertime cross-over madness I used to enjoy so much. This is an excellent movie and shows Marvel Studios still knows what they are doing but I must add that I actually enjoyed the second Thor movie a bit more -that seems to be a controversial statement from what my friends say. Sorry! 

I also got to take in a screening of the amazing documentary JODOROWSKY'S DUNE (2013) at Nashville's Belcourt Cinema. It was just as entertaining and awe inducing as I had expected with the added bonus of finally getting to see and hear the 81 year old Jodorowsky. I hope I have a quarter of his energy and enthusiasm at his age! His joy at discussing this failed film project from the mid-70's is infectious and only increases my wish that this mad vision had somehow made it the screen. The film smartly illustrates the plan of the movie with hundreds of illustrations augmented with new animation using the original conceptual artwork by Moebius and Voss. I can only imagine what science fiction filmmaking would look like if this movie had been made instead of STAR WARS - the mind boggles. If you are a fan of science fiction movies, Jodorowsky or just fascinating cinema you owe it to yourself to see this documentary. 

CABIN BOY (1994)- 8 (hysterical, absurd comedy)
CALIBER 9 (1972)- 8 (excellent Italian crime film)
THE FIVE MAN ARMY (1969)- 5 (mediocre Spaghetti western)
CRIME OF PASSION (1957)- 7 (interesting noir)
DISCO ROJO (1973)- 6
STOKER (2013 - 10 (amazing)
THE EYES OF CHARLES SAND (1972)- 6 (good TV-movie/failed pilot)
THE INITIATION OF SARAH (1978)- 4 (not very good TV movie)
THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT (1996)- 3 (sad evidence that a Shane Black script is not foolproof)
VIOLENT BLOOD BATH (1967)- 7 (interesting murder mystery from Spain) 
HARD TARGET (1993)- 7 (rewatch)
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013)- 9 (amazing!) 
HOLMES & WATSON: MADRID DAYS (2012) - 3 (Overlong and deadly dull Spanish Sherlock tale)
TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS (1973)- 6 (rewatch)
DRACULA- PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966)- 8 (rewatch)
COUNTESS PERVERSE (1973)- 6 (Franco's tale made up of part sex, part Most Dangerous Game and part cannibalism)

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

DOC SAVAGE - MAN OF BRONZE (1975)- trailer

If ever there was a missed or flubbed opportunity in cinema this film is it! Such amazing potential wasted because (as so often happens) the filmmakers didn't trust the material. I still hope for a good Doc Savage film and hope that Shane Black is the guy that makes it.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Adventures with Black Emanuelle!

I'm not sure what's come over me but I'm beginning to actually like the Emanuelle films. Don't get me wrong - I've not suddenly found hidden depths of meaning or unplumbed pockets of brilliance in these rambling T & A movies - but I have somehow found a frame of mind in which I understand their appeal much more than when I saw them as pointless excuses for nudity and soft-core groping. This change of heart happened while watching 'Emanuelle in Bangkok'. Usually I would have been frustrated by the lack of any real story or forward momentum but instead I found myself caught up in the pure sensual pleasure of looking at beautiful women and beautiful places. I felt at ease; maybe even comforted by the pace of the film with its essential lack of story and almost complete absence of conflict. It soothed me... Nay, it washed over me like warm soapy water dripping from a naked oriental massage girl. But I've gotten ahead of myself.

A few years back Severin released a series of boxed sets of the "Black Emanuelle" films and I have worked my way through them. Produced in the 1970s and '80s, they were a huge international hit quite apart from the Emmanuelle (spelled with two M's) films they were imitating and they now have a much more vocal fan base in the 21st century. Whether by accident or design the three movies I'll talk about here show Laura Gemser's Emanuelle move from lustful sex kitten to crusading journalist to penitent daughter of Christ. It's a long strange trip but I definitely enjoyed it.

The onscreen credits give the title of the first film in the set as 'Black Emanuelle En Orient' but the more common name is Emanuelle in Bangkok. The credits both at the beginning and end of the film are clearly taken from a much inferior French language print and these sequences look awful. Happily the majority of the picture looks infinitely better. The movie begins with American photojournalist Emanuelle (Laura Gemser) in Thailand visiting her archeologist lover Robert (Gabriele Tinti, Gemser's real-life spouse). He's there to participate in a dig upcountry while Emanuelle is going to Bangkok to try to interview the king. Roberto obviously wants the beautiful lady all to himself but she's not ready to settle down. Indeed 'settle down' is a phrase I'm not sure she would even understand as 'E' is easily one of the least inhibited women in history, with one eye on the lookout for new sexual experiences at all times.

So off she goes, bouncing from one encounter to another as she's shown around the country by royal cousin Prince Sanit (Ivan Rassimov) while waiting for a chance to meet the monarch. She dallies with a young hotel employee and is sent to a special massage parlor by the prince, where she's given a full body bath by cute little Gee (Koike Mahoce). Gee shows her new friend around some of the less prosperous areas of the city; then Roberto shows back up in the company of a rich American tourist couple. The prince joins this odd group for a night on the town, the highlight of which has to be the stripper that insets ping pong balls into a very personal, private place. I never thought I'd see that, let me tell you!

After a group opium smoking session at the prince's house an impromptu orgy breaks out that sees the American couple decide that maybe they weren't made for each other. And as both of them end up sleeping with Emanuelle, maybe this reporter has a vocation as marriage counselor in her future. Up until now the film has been a plotless but gorgeous travelogue of Thailand, interspersed with nudity... Then suddenly the prince disappears because of an attempted coup and Emanuelle is gang raped by a bunch of thugs! As shocking a turn of events as this is its nothing compared to how she then befriends the rapists, who send her on her way with the warning to get out of the country for her own safety. I guess E is just so damned good in the sack that no one can have her and dislike her. Bizarre. Since her passport and camera have been stolen she has more sex to procure a way out of Thailand and heads to Casablanca with the American wife to link back up with Roberto. Of course, there is sex on the plane with the newly liberated wife. Man! If life was only like this! Once in Morocco Emanuelle meets the cute young daughter of the American ambassador, befriending her and impressing her father. While waiting for the ambassador to get her a new passport E ventures out into the desert to find Roberto and his new English fiancée. Within a few hours all three are on very friendly terms and the two girls have even gone off on their on to play with some nice Arab gentlemen. There is no situation you can't screw your way out of, huh? The film concludes with Emanuelle having a touching lesbian romance with the ambassador's daughter that ends when a new assignment comes in from her newspaper editor. The girls part sadly at the airport as the credits roll. 

Now I would never claim Emanuelle in Bangkok is a great film but I did enjoy it. Devoid of plot, characterization, logic or even conflict (except for the out-of-place rape scene) it is less a film than a tone poem about nothing more than enjoying the exotic and erotic sights it scrolls before you. It's soothing and arousing in almost equal measure and just might be perfect for an evening's viewing with that special someone. This is what sex films can be when they strike the right notes.

But as I advanced to the next film in the set, Emanuelle Around the World (onscreen title Le Vice Dans La Peau), I find that director Joe D'Amato (real name Aristide Massaccesi) opted for something different this time out. He decided to have not only conflict, but a story! Not necessarily a bad idea, but a funny thing happened on the way to a plot. While Emanuelle in Bangkok was fun in a silly way, by injecting a serious tale of white slavery into Emanuelle's world the tone goes from silly to stupid. While EIB was ham-handed in its construction and character motivations (when there were any), it didn't matter so much as we weren't being asked to take things seriously at all. But in EATW we are confronted with all kinds of sexual cruelty that repeatedly destroys the occasional eroticism. At best we are placed in the arena of the drooling voyeur crudely trying to see where that banana is going to be shoved. It’s a film at least as technically accomplished as EIB but it is just not enjoyable in the same fashion.

The film starts with Emanuelle arriving in San Francisco after having spent a few months out of touch with the world living on a desert island. D'Amato uses the first few post credit scenes to get across a coming change in tone with E telling a friend, "I was looking for happiness but I got lost." It's almost as if both director and star are symbolically throwing away Emanuelle's old values of 'looking for love' anywhere and everywhere to do something positive for society. Of course the subject they tackle is white slavery. Big shock that it would be something that involved naked women, huh? In Frisco Emanuelle talks with her colleague Cora Norman (Karen Schubert) a crusading reporter famous for crime exposés. A letter from her New York editor begs Emanuelle to come back to work, so she flies there in the company of a new acquaintance, Dr. Malcolm Robertson (Ivan Rassimov, returning to the series). Robertson works at the United Nations on third world policy focusing on hunger relief. Emanuelle tells him how she’s never wanted to be a serious reporter and likes the fame her sexy photographs bring. In keeping with her past adventures the newspaper sends her to India to interview a new guru. The fellow (played by George Eastman looking like a sexy Jesus!) has a 'School of the Kama Sutra', teaches tantric sex and turns out to be a pretty crappy lover. He does stage an interesting "orgasm-free" orgy, though.

After this sad encounter our feisty girl reporter decides she wants to do something important with her life and selects violence against women as her target. She travels to Rome, meets up with Cara who is already working on a white slavery story and in short order has gotten herself kidnapped by bad guys. It's as easy as looking for a white Rolls Royce! The abduction turns nasty with an unnamed scar-faced scumbag raping a young girl before we jump cut to the next day. We're told the cops arrived, the bad guys have been arrested and everything is wonderful again in Rome - I'm not kidding. The movie completely skips from scumbags raping girls to "Aren't we lucky Emanuelle had that guy follow us when we were kidnapped." It ignores the chance for suspense, tension or anything approximating excitement just to get on with things. I guess this is just not that kind of movie. Instead we're treated to Cora getting raped by more white slavers as a lesson to her not to interfere. Or something like that. I wasn't really clear why she got raped other than it just seemed like ALL the female characters in this film get raped.

Clearly emboldened by their success (and forgetting the rape, I suppose) the two reporters follow another lead to Hong Kong, where they dig into the Oriental white slavery market. Here we witness more rape and some forced bestiality with a German Shepard before we learn that an Arab emir is the true beneficiary of the slave trade. He turns out to not be too bad a guy; in exchange for sex with both Emanuelle and Cora he ends the white slavery ring operating out of Macau! Is there nothing that woman's moist nether regions can't accomplish? After this triumph Emanuelle gets a lead on a crooked politician in Washington so it's off to D.C. for another bout of rape courtesy of a group of bums enticed by a naked girl forced to dance before them. Once again we jump to the next day, with the cops having arrived to fix everything and Emanuelle getting out of the situation with little more than another rape or two. At this point the film has passed the 90 minute mark so our intrepid do-gooder sails off into the distance with Dr. Robertson for a vacation. The End. 

After the casual sexual shenanigans of Emanuelle in Bangkok this one was a bit of a shock. The same playful tone is present at first, but with the shift to pursuing criminals it takes on a nasty feel that no amount of poorly written moralizing can purge. By the fourth or fifth rape I began to feel like I was being asked to witness evidence in a sex crime trial. Where's the fun? Where's the joy? Ah, Black Emanuelle — where is the graceful abandon of consensual lust?

So following her conversion to conscience-driven reporter it's a little easier to accept the major change the divine Ms. E makes in Sister Emanuelle. Having become disillusioned by her hedonistic lifestyle, she has entered a convent and become a nun. Trying to put her lustful past behind her, she strives to overcome her sexual desires but this is made much harder when a new student is enrolled in the convent's school. Monica (Mónica Zanchi) is a beautiful young girl forced by her rich father to attend the convent. Showing a healthy appetite for both sexes, Monica tempts Emanuelle even before the girl climbs into her bunk on the train ride to the school. The sister holds her off so she slips out to have sex with the conductor. Nymphomaniacs just want to have fun! Once at the secluded school the new student quickly seduces her prim roommate and then by pure luck finds a fleeing criminal named René (Gabriele Tinti) hiding in the woods nearby. Working her considerable charms on the bankrobbing killer, she sneaks him into the school and hides him in an unused tower. (A girl's got to have some variety in bed.) Contriving to have Sister Emanuelle find the two of them puts René in the position of forcing the nun to keep silent by threatening to kill everyone. Monica then informs Emanuelle that René wants the virginal Anna (Vinja Locatelli) brought to him, prompting the nun to offer herself instead. Monica brings Anna up to watch E and René having sex but the girls are spotted by the mute, guntoting groundskeeper. The resultant mess finally gets the lascivious girl expelled but as Sister Emanuelle drives her to meet her train a new surprise is in store.

The only movie in this set not directed by Joe D'Amato, I really enjoyed this one as it managed to have a story (if slight and ultimately shaggy-doggish) and be quite erotic without the nastiness of EATW. That Emanuelle is not the main lovely engaging in the romps is also a nice change. Mónica Zanchi steps up to the challenges of the central role quite effectively, bringing both a natural beauty and a bed full of enthusiasm to every scene. Of course it wouldn't be a Black Emanuelle film without Ms. Gemser showing off her fine form and eventually making with the horizontal bop, but the change of main feminine scenery was inspired. Having the young nympho be a conniving pain in the ass also added to the interest level, throwing a few curves that I really couldn't see coming. There is very little wasted time in Sister Emanuelle aside from the silly few minutes spent on an older nun's bladder control problem (!); the film's conclusion made me curious about the further adventures of the beautiful Emanuelle. That's something I never expected to say about this series of movies. I should mention that there is one odd moment near the end where there is obviously some footage missing... After Emanuelle strings Monica up in a barn the girl goes from fully clothed to mostly naked with a jump cut that just screams 'trimmed for content'. With all the flesh on display I wonder what might have prompted this edit?

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Jess Franco poster art - part 29

What an amazing poster for such a terrible, boring film. If the movie was one tenth as exciting as this poster it would be a classic!