Saturday, August 30, 2014

Brief Thoughts- THE CRATER LAKE MONSTER (1977)

I picked up the Blu-Ray of this small budget horror film for $3 even though its disc co-feature is the awful GALAXINA. The film looks remarkably sharp for such a minor, regional movie made as cheaply as possible - it looks much better than other, more expensive movies from the same period. Strange. 

I can't say this is a great film but I can't find it in my heart to dislike it either. It is clear that a lot of care and work went into this film and it shows. Yes, the cast is a very mixed bag of merely OK thespians ranging from passable to dire and the effects are not the best. But the effort was made to craft a solid stop-motion monster flick with some colorful, likable characters and I had a good time with the entire affair. It's not for everyone but it is a fun B-movie that would be perfect for your lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon viewing. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fringe - A Great TV Series!

After putting it off for a long time, last week I finally finished watching the fifth and final season of the TV series Fringe. I didn't put it off because I had come to dislike the show - indeed, it had maintained its quality and my interest from the beginning -but because i didn't want to see it end. I started watching Fringe when it premiered back in 2008 and watched it religiously until i screwed up and miss a few episodes at the beginning of the fourth season. I waited until those episodes were issued on DVD and rented them through NetFlix to catch up. But I as still behind when season five came around so I waited still longer and now, through the joy of streaming, have completed seeing all 100 episodes.

From the start I called Fringe an alternate version of the X-Files - but would then say "But this one is done well". By that I didn't mean to insult the X-Files too much- I was a fan of the show in the 1990's myself- but Fringe seemed to have learned from that show's massive mistakes. Chris Carter's show teased us for years about some huge alien conspiracy, constantly adding elements that just confused and complicated matters until even the most hopeful fans had to conclude that there was no planned story that was ever going to be able to resolve the mess they had created. Fringe seems to have had an end point in mind from the start with built in stopping places just in case the show was cancelled. The very important Observers are glimpsed in the first season numerous times before we are even told that they are something to which we should be paying attention. By the start of season five the mystery behind these nearly emotionless bald men takes center stage - we are told who they are, what they are doing and that there is a chance that the Fringe team can defeat them. For thirteen final episodes the show plays out brilliantly bringing back elements of previous stories and folding them into things in inventive ways. It is wonderfully done! Somehow the creators managed to fulfilled nearly every promise they made to their audience over the course of five years. All the way to its triumphant endpoint they remained true to the series' core values - the importance of family, the necessity of trust in humanity, the joy of intellectual inquiry, the beauty of a bit of humor at the right time and the awesome power of love. Fringe wasn't just a great, exciting science fiction show- it was about the bonding of a ragtag group of people into a family that fought to make the world a better, safer place for everyone. I loved every minute and recommend that if you haven't watched Fringe before that you give it a try. It is a great one hundred episode ride!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

NaschyCast - Beyond Naschy #11 - CROSS OF THE DEVIL (1975)

CROSS OF THE DEVIL is one of the more controversial entries in Paul Naschy's credits. He has co-writing credit but has no onscreen role or any other behind the scenes position either. As we talk about this interesting Spanish gothic we detail the he said/she said aspect of how, at the height of his popularity and box office appeal, Naschy ended up on the outside of this project looking in - and throwing stones! Director John Gilling has a history of making fine horror films for Hammer and other British studios but this was to be his only Spanish production and the behind the scenes shenanigans might have been the reason why. This was a dream project for Naschy as he desired to make a film from  some of the stories of Spanish poet and writer Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. To have had that opportunity yanked away engendered much anger and his venomous statements about the film and the people involved attest to that. He seems to have held out hope of trying again to bring Bécquer to the screen for decades afterwards.

But all of that is beside the point as long as an entertaining movie got made and in this case it turned out pretty well. Join Troy and I as we try to keep this show from spiraling out of control on our trek through the Spanish countryside to the Mountain of Souls so that we may cower before the titular Cross! There are many interesting sights to see along the way and we hope to keep you amused as we talk about burned Ninjas, difficult relationships, hash pipes, ghostly visions and murder mysteries. We have an audio visit from Elena of Horror Rises From Spain so that she can school us (really me!) on how to pronounce more Spanish names and the first installment of a new segment from Dan, Our Man in the Field in which he talks about some Kilma theories and plays a great pop song for us. Very cool things coming your way in this overstuffed episode! I even get to speak about my love of the band Jellyfish and they take us out of the show. If you want to get in contact is the place to reach us. Thanks for downloading and listening! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Brief Thoughts - HAUNTER (2013)

Last night I finally caught up with HAUNTER (2013) by director Vincenzo Natali and it was fantastic! I probably should shy away from over praising the film out of the fear that readers of this blog will go into it with their expectations set high and feel disappointed but - I really loved this movie. It is a ghost story with a very intriguing twist but that twist is only the beginning of the tale with many great moments to follow. I've been a fan of Natali's past work since CUBE (1997) through SPLICE (2009) and I had known this was his newest movie I would have watched it the minute it popped up for possible viewing. (This reminds me that I still need to see his 2002 film CYPHER which promises to be a spy story!) I love the mood that the director is able to evoke in his films. There is a slightly heightened reality combined with the banality of the everyday that is unique and has the effect making his movies feel like something is about to happen at any time. They are smoothly told and the direction is naturalistic and uncomplicated in the way information is presented. Natali is an excellent director whose work seems incapable of connecting with a huge audience but it is perfect for me. I think his ideas are just too out of the mainstream - too quirky - to make most viewers comfortable with his stories.

The cast of HAUNTER is very good with Abigail Breslin showing real skill as the main character and excellent Canadian character actor Stephen McHattie being a creepy bastard in brilliant fashion. The little boy that plays Breslin's brother is a bit stiff in his role but that is the only sour performance note in the entire movie. If you've seen and liked his earlier films or even if they seemed too odd in the past, give this one a try. It might be his most accessible horror work to date and in a better world would have been a hit in theaters. It is available to stream on Netflix which is where I watched it. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Film Noir Poster Art

Thursday, August 21, 2014

PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965) poster art

Until today I had never seen this piece of poster art for the Bava classic of science fiction horror PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES. It is gorgeous, don't you think? I cannot wait for the soon to be released Blu-Ray of this underseen film and hope that it is packed with hours of extras. I know Bava expert and biographer Tim Lucas is producing a commentary track for the disc but I wish for more, of course. At the very least a look at the amazing poster art for the film from around the world would be in order. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Brief Thoughts - KICK-ASS 2 (2013)

I held off on seeing this one for a few reasons foremost being the nearly universally harsh opinions on the film from all who felt the need to express one. I never got details of why people didn't like this sequel - only a general dislike that made me think it must have gone in a direction most did not enjoy. I assumed the film must have been a departure from the original in some way that pushed viewers away. But now that I have seen it I am perplexed as to why fans of the first film were unhappy. I may lose some kind of critical cred with this statement but I really enjoyed this movie. Its not quite as impressive as its predecessor but its a damned solid follow up that moves the story and characters forward in clever and honest ways. It is just as transgressive and violent as the first and in some ways more emotionally complex. I liked this movie and wish it had been a success. Guess I'll have to read the comic book sequels to see what the writers decide to do with everyone in the future.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Outer Limits - The Game?!?!?

How did I not know this exists? Holy crap! Here's the description from Board Game Geek

-The game consists of a deck of 42 cards: 8 'Radar Image', 32 'Monster Parts', and 2 Wild cards. A game board is also included which has spaces for up to four 'radar' screens'.
-The entire deck is shuffled and five to ten cards are dealt to each player (depending on how many are playing).
-On each turn a player draws one card and then may play one card to each active Radar screen on the board. If he holds a 'Radar Image' and an empty screen exists it must be played (this is the only compulsory play). Monster Parts may only be played on areas that have an Image.
-The first person to get rid of his hand of cards wins.
-A good card matching game for Ages 7 - 12... not much more.

Doesn't sound great but I'd love to at least see the sucker. Amazing. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

RICA (1972)

I don't know much about the "Pinky Violence" genre of Japanese women's revenge movies but I know what I like. And if this is a good example of them then I'm a big fan! Other than the Female Prisoner 701 films I've seen very little of this strange genre and was warned that not all were of the quality of those artistic movies. It's true that Rica doesn't have the high art aspirations of those films but it more than makes up for it by being a relentless, speeding bullet of a tale. Exhilarating and eventually exhausting, Rica is an amazing 'motion picture' with very little time spent without our athletic star either in action or in a tricky situation requiring her to devise an escape. And the nudity helps as well. Not so much the singing...

The time is the early 1970s as we are introduced to half-Japanese Rika Aoki playing (of course) Rica — leader of a small gang of tough girls with yakuza connections. The illegitimate daughter of a woman raped by American GIs, she's grown up as an outsider with a considerable amount of anger directed at the world. Raped herself at a young age by one of her prostitute mother's customers, she certainly has little love for men. So it's easy to understand why, as the film begins, she takes it upon herself to beat the hell out of a low level gangster who'd gotten a girl pregnant but left her on her own. After the girl dies in childbirth, Rica takes the infant's corpse to him and demands he bury the child. During the brawl that ensues the gangster is killed and Rica is sent for her first visit to a prison-like reform school. She is slipped notes from the outside informing her that the rest of her gang has been sold into sex slavery in South Vietnam. The actual turn of phrase used is a sneering "to be fed to the GIs" — that image of girls being imprisoned, used and discarded reoccurs constantly in the film.

Rica makes her first of many breaks form the reform school, extorts ¥3,000,000 from the businessman who raped her and tries to use the money to buy back her friends. The gang boss she deals with, however, is less than honorable (imagine that!) and only through the violent intervention of loner good guy Tetsu (Fuminori Sato) is she able to escape.

The gangsters seek revenge on Tetsu by kidnapping his girlfriend as bait. But Rica thanks her new buddy by striking a deal with yakuza boss Tachibana (Yoshiro Nakadai), in which Rica agrees to dance nude at his nightclub in exchange for the girl's freedom. Strange I know, but in the world of this film it actually makes sense. At least until you realize she sings as well as dances! Some things are more bizarre than others.

Some time after this, Rica learns that her long-absent mother has been spotted working in a nearby department store. But while there looking for her only parent our Amerasian heroine sees one of Tachibana's goons steal secret government papers from an older man. Tachibana doesn't trust Rica to keep silent and orders her killed but he fails to reckon with her feminine wiles. She seduces the thief sent to murder her, cuts off his hand and delivers it to the crime lord to throw it in his face. This leads to another fierce battle and soon Rica is off to reform school again. At a certain point I actually lost track of the number of times Rica escapes from the school. You'd have thought they might have realized she was going to get out somehow and just chain her to a tree or something. But I guess that might have gummed up the plot.

Once back on the outside she finds that the man who raped her as a child is the new gangster running girls to Vietnam. Rica manages to kidnap the man from his legitimate business office and reunite him with her mother, his old lover, who is now ravaged by venereal disease and near death. Using this situation to get the name of the ship being used to transport girls to Vietnam, Rica and Tetsu gather friends and plan an assault to free the women.

Believe it or not this is the short-form story detail for this film. There is so much plot crammed into this 90 minutes that it has the feel of an adaptation of a series of stories compacted down with just the good parts retained for maximum effect. And boy, are there plenty of good parts! An endless stream of fist fights, sex scenes, gun fights, prison breaks, nude dancing, car chases, criminal conniving, ridiculous coincidences and last minute rescues race by so fast its hard to keep track. The movie just keeps coming at you. I don't think I could really call Rica a great movie but it definitely kept me glued to the screen and smiling. Not that there aren't quite a few nastier elements that would make the average inexperienced exploitation viewer squirm. Most of the female characters get raped, only two of the male characters are better than scum and the unhappy fate of several characters is gruesome. But that is the nature of this particular beast. Vicious and cruel, just like the central characters, the Pinky Violence movies showcase a breed of women that were far from the norm at the time the films were made. Rica herself is a perfect example of what I guess would be a nightmare for the very male-dominated culture of Japan. Half Caucasian, taller than most of the men around her, violent and demanding the same freedoms men command, Rica would almost certainly strike fear into people on sight. Add to that a fierce desire for revenge and you have one of the scariest 'juvenile delinquent' concepts imaginable. And the wellspring for dozens of movies!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

I just wanted to note that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is the best damned film of the summer! I am a big sucker for the slew of Marvel movies that have been coming out since IRON MAN blasted onto screens and have enjoyed all of them to one degree or another. Some of these films have been so good it was like watching my childhood comic book collection come to life causing me to want to see them over and over again the same way I reread those 30, 35 and 40 cent classics of my youth. Director and co-write James Gunn and his crew have gone above the very high quality standard set by the previous Marvel franchise movies. They have crafted one of the most entertaining and exciting pieces of science fiction cinema in decades and the fact that it is incredibly funny as well as smart makes it one of the most satisfying movies experiences of the year. If you haven't seen this yet - do so immediately.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Santo Poster Art!

I've decided to watch a slew of Santo films in August and these are some of the movies on my stack to see! Wish I had time for more. 

Friday, August 08, 2014

Brief Thoughts - FRANKENSTEIN'S ARMY (2013)

It's a shame when a film has a great idea but just can't manage to craft a solid entertainment from that idea. Here the filmmakers had several things going for them - a good idea, a good setting, amazing creature designs - but made the crippling choice to shoot the film in the now tired Found Footage style. This decision destroys any chance of the story coming together in a satisfying way. The first hurdle is the usual 'why is he still filming' question which is never well answered in the movie. The second problem is that such cameras as are used in this film would seem to be either anachronistic or so out of the ordinary as to be prohibitively expensive to be sent out with Russian soldiers in World War II. 

As I said -a shame. Maybe one day a remake will find a good movie buried in this concept. They won't have to create more creatures but they will have to just shoot the thing as a proper film. 

Thursday, August 07, 2014

What I Watched In August

Two new theatrical experiences last month and the first was extraordinary. 

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is the best POTA film since..... RISE. But in some ways it's even better than that excellent movie as this one has a much more complicated story to tell. I'm not going to bury the lead - I loved this movie. The old cliché that 'I laughed, I cried' is actually true for me with this movie. This felt like the perfect culmination of the entire Apes film run since reboot with RISE bringing together all the elements that have made the series a good, solid action adventure. Although I could complain about the slow pace of the first half of the picture I could not have asked for a better follow up movie and as the credits rolled and I wiped away tears of joy (seriously) I was happy to have seen this excellent tale onscreen. At many points the film wasn't exactly what I thought I was going to see and that was impressive. After all- I've watched these movies for decades now so I can often see plot tricks and ideas coming round the bend, but here they caught me unaware repeatedly. I might wince about a certain character's rather miraculous survival but that is a small complaint in a film that so marvelously succeeds. I could have enjoyed an even longer version of this film and if extra footage exists I can't wait to see it. And I can't wait to see the next one!

When I caught THE PURGE I liked the film pretty well but was disappointed that the creators didn't do more with the fascinating near future dystopia they set up. There just seemed to be so much that could be done with the premise than a simple (if effective) home invasion tale. Luckily, in the sequel, a bigger budget has allowed for just what I was looking for and the future fascistic United States where the rich really do have the ability to do with us what they wish is explored just a bit more in THE PURGE:ANARCHY. The nastier aspects of the New Founding Fathers are touched upon just enough to intrigue me more and fueling my desire to explore this dark scenario more fully. The story on this sequel is of the next year's Purge Night and a group of people brought together by chance once they are trapped on the streets after the night of lawless abandon begins. One of these people is outside by choice and his mission on this violent night is the engine that drives the plot forward as the other characters wonder why and what he is up to. We are shown more of the wealthy class' version of enjoying this annual chance to kill (or be killed) and introduced to some inventive ways of taking advantage of such an event for profit. I enjoyed this film about as much as I did the first and I wouldn't mind a new installment in this series every year or so just to see what dark alleys the creators dream up. 

GYMKATA (1985)- 3 (terrible but fun)
NIGHTMARE CITY (1980)- 7 (rewatch)
DARK SKIES (2013)- 7
MADIGAN (1968)- 8 (rock solid New York crime film)
HOUSE ON STRAW HILL (1976)- 6 (interesting psycho-sexual thriller)
JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR (2014)- 8 (another excellent animated DC film)
KILLER JOE (2011)- 9 (harsh Texas-set thriller)
GODZILLA VS BIOLLANTE (1989)- 7 (rewatch)
KILMA, QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS (1975) - 6 (pirates vs. amazons on an island)
VIOLENT ROAD (1958)- 7 (solid B-movie version of The Wages of Fear)
THE COUNSELOR (2013)- 3 (Whoa! What a mess.)
THE KILLER IS AMONG THE 13 (1976)- 7 (Spanish Agatha Christie style mystery)
ODD THOMAS (2013)- 4 (Stephen Sommers simply cannot make a good film)
AGENT 003: OPERATION ATLANTIS (1965)- 6 (completely silly spy film)
BLACKTHORNE (2011)- 9 (extremely good western about the later days of Butch Cassidy)
MRS. POLLIFAX: SPY (1971)- 5 (overlong semi-comedic spy tale -Darren McGavin is good fun)
THE VISITOR (1979)- 3 (insane Italian SF crossed with silly mysticism)
CAGED (1950)- 8 (very good woman in prison film)
FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984)- 7 (rewatch) 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Jess Franco Poster Art - Part 33

OK- to be honest, this looks more like a VHS cover than theater poster art- but I like it! I haven't seen this one yet- a standard refrain in this series of blog posts, I know - but I am intrigued by the casting of Antonio Mayans in a central role. Maybe he has sex with Lina Romay? Yeah- he probably does. 

Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Bloody Pit #17- Doc Savage, Man of Bronze!

If you’ve never read one of the Man of Bronze’s adventures this podcast can serve as an introduction to him and his world. Although the character is not very well known these days, Doc Savage has a long and storied history. Born out of the fertile imagination of the great Lester Dent in the Depression of the 1930’s he is the perfect heroic man meant to exist as a beacon of nobility for people to aspire to emulate. An adventurer and righter of wrongs with an unbreakable code of ethics, Savage was the type of pulp fiction hero that could be enjoyed by readers of any age looking for fast action and wild plots. Yes,  the violence often gets brutal in a Doc Savage novel but the bad guys will always be the ones that end up on the unfortunately placed sharp stick or at the bottom of that undiscovered deadly pit.

In this episode Doc Savage super-fan Brian Lindsey joins me for a conversation about all things Doc that ranges from the character’s background; his use of incredibly prescient gadgets; his five amazing companions; the best and worst of the novels and even the unfortunate 1975 George Pal produced film. As it appears that writer/director Shane Black is pushing to revive Doc as a film project in the near future we even speculate on who we’d like to see cast in the title role – we can be such conventional geeks! We also get into the details of the elements that make these books so much fun and pick apart some of the things that are a little questionable as well. If you’ve heard of The Shadow but never heard of Clark Savage, Jr. now is the time to let us escort you to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building and introduce you to one of the most impressive American fictional heroes of all time. I guarantee thrills and smiles aplenty!

If you want to drop us a line here at the podcast just write to and let us know what you think. Thank you very much for downloading and listening.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Anniversary -60 Years of Godzilla!

This is the biggie for 2014. The giant green destroyer first made his presence known six decades ago and demonstrated that he is the King of Monsters -- Godzilla!  Thirty (or so) stories high, he breathes fire, and has a tail that can smash buildings into rubble, and depending on his mood, he can be mankind's biggest threat or our only hope against the alien overlords that seem to threaten Earth every few years. Damned alien invaders are like cicadas but even more annoying! And that doesn't even take into account the monsters mankind accidentally creates that the Big G has to deal with as well. A giant irradiated lizard's work is never done.