Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Have a safe and happy Halloween! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Moon Monster - Animated Horror Fan Club Spot (Comic Book Ad, 1970)

Moon Monster - Animated Horror Fan Club Spot (Comic Book Ad, 1970) from Jason Willis on Vimeo.

Each year animator Jason Willis puts together a Halloween project in which he takes neat image or ad from his Monster Kid childhood and brings it to life. This year's is fantastic and funny to boot! Check this out- it'll put a smile on your face.

Jack O'Lantern time!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


The Last Horror Film relates the sad tale of Vinny Durand (Joe Spinell). A New York cab driver, Vinny has dreams of becoming a Hollywood film director but as the film begins he lives at home with his mother (Spinell's real-life mom). Obsessed with horror film actress Jana Bates (Caroline Munro), he's convinced that if he can just speak to her she will recognize his genius and be thrilled to star in his movie. He is, of course, delusional — and if there is any doubt seeing his bedroom covered in photos of Ms. Bates from floor to ceiling will put them to rest. Determined to overcome all obstacles he loads up his 16mm camera and sets off to the annual Cannes Film Festival to somehow meet with his beloved actress.

Once he's in France Vinny begins darting around Cannes, camera on shoulder, trying any way he can to get in front of Jana and attract her attention. The actress is being feted about town and spoken of as 'in the running' for awards for her roles in a string of horror movies — my favorite unbelievable element of the film. At the same time someone starts killing movie-makers at the festival... all of whom are connected to Vinny's favorite actress in some way. Is the clearly unstable Vinny doing the slicing and dicing? Or is there something else going on? And who is sending notes to Jana and her filmmaker boyfriend (Judd Hamilton, Munro's actual spouse) stating that they have made their "last horror movie"? Is it Vinny? Someone with a 16mm camera certainly seems to be able to catch Jana's reaction to the discovery of her dead ex-husband on film just before the body mysteriously disappears.

Does our erstwhile obsessive film fan have more than a single screw loose or is he just a determined man misunderstood by less discerning people trying to hold him back? Actually, that's a silly question. Vinny is obviously nuts! Unable to hold his shit together long enough to watch a gore film, or control his lustful urges while a nude woman dances in a club, he's the classic repressed sicko with no good way of expressing his feelings. The film tries hard to slather a sense of social commentary over these goings on with a reoccurring voice-over that lets us partially inside Vinny's mind, but it doesn't work very well. Even less effective is the repeated, intrusive radio news broadcasts relaying violent real-life incidents from the year the film was made. The filmmakers were trying (I guess) to underscore the harsh, terrible reality of the world that makes horror movies such a tame thing in comparison, but it just comes off as pointless. I agree with what I think the film is saying with these inserted news stories but it would take a better movie to effectively communicate the idea without seeming inane.

There comes a point while watching a movie when the viewer realizes that they are watching a bad 'un. No matter when this moment comes it's immediately followed by a conscious decision to either keep watching or to move on to some other, less crappy thing in life. I almost always opt for sticking through to the bitter end just to see if there is anything of note in the disaster onscreen. Often this can be a fool's game and a real waste of time, but on occasion there are benefits to my drive to complete whatever film I've started. In the case of The Last Horror Film there are a number of reasons I'm glad I stayed until the end credits — but the script is not one of them. The reasons to soldier on are the two stars and the one stroke of brilliance the filmmakers mustered up: shooting the entire thin tale on location during the 1981 Cannes Film Festival. The movie could be a whole lot less good and still be worth watching simply to see the amazing sights of Cannes in full movie spaz-drag. I found myself pausing and rewinding several times to get a better look at posters, theater marquees and strange advertising gimmicks that litter the French landscape. My favorite is the hotel entrance made up with the artwork for the Bond film For Your Eyes Only that places the doorway between a pair of shapely female legs. Mon dieu!

And I'd be lying if I claimed I didn't enjoy some aspects of the movie. I always like seeing Caroline Munro onscreen, even in such a poorly written, underdone tale. She is a true beauty and was at the height of her stardom when this was made. She's a pleasure to behold even with the awful white frosted stripes running through her huge '80s-style hair. And Joe Spinell is really good here, putting his all into a performance that didn't require much more than a half-assed effort to get the job done. He sputters, stumbles and sweats his way across the screen looking at times like a kid in a candy store and at others like a bad boy caught looking at Playboy magazine. His frustration, anger and naivety combine to make Vinny a sad sack you end up pitying, even as you know he can't come to a good end. His dreams are simply too big for his abilities.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Godzilla Images

Just because! 

Vintage Halloween Post Cards

Happy Olde Tyme Halloween! 

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Director Edgar Ulmer is responsible for one of my favorite movies of all time –THE BLACK CAT (1934) – and scattered around his list of credits you will find several other excellent pictures well worth your attention. His film noir DETOUR (1945)  is a classic; the 1944 BLUEBEARD is fascinating; THE MAN FROM PLANET X (1951) is wonderful; and MURDER IS MY BEAT (1955) is quite entertaining.  Sadly, for me, THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN (1960) is not one of Ulmer's works I can recommend. Spurred on by a commenter to this blog and the fact that TCM recently ran the film I decided to revisit the movie the other night. My memories were that it wasn’t very good and I have to report  that I still feel the same way.

The movie is barely feature length clocking in at 58 minutes but DAMN- you feel each and every one of those increments of sixty seconds crawl  by. The film is best described as a combination of film noir crime elements and mad scientist tropes but that makes it sound much more interesting that it is. Hell - just saying that a scientist creates an invisibility ray that is used to make a professional safe-cracker's job easier makes the film sound like a surefire blast but the resulting movie is just dull. Deadly dull! Tedious. Monotonous. Lifeless even. THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN is the filmic equivalent of watching paint dry or insects slowly die as the weather gets cold. I need never see this sleep inducing cinematic bog again. Ugh! 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Fantastic Films of Vincent Price #3 - The Invisible Man Returns!

My old buddy Larry Underwood is the reigning Horror Host of Nashville and has been doing a web series covering each of the films of Vincent Price. Here he covers one of the most overlooked of his early horror movies and does a fine job summing up its strengths and weaknesses. Its not my favorite of the Invisible Man sequels but its better than its reputation.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Universal Monster artwork!

Because it always comes back to these movies. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book to Film - THE MANITOU (1978)

I can't explain why I have such a strange fascination with the 1978 film THE MANITOU. I can't claim it's a very good movie or that it has a very impressive story or is packed with creepy atmosphere or is well cast. OK- that last complaint isn't completely true. The only bit of casting that really seems off is TonyCurtis as phony psychic and all around good guy Harry Erskine. Erskine is supposed to be in his early thirties and at the time Curtis was actually in his late fifties so when the dialog between him and co-star Susan Strasberg strays too close to romantic territory the story seems a little odd. Luckily the story is so crazy there isn't much time for that kind of thing.

For years I have wanted to read the source novel of the same title by Graham Masterson but only got around to it this October. I was pleased with the book and found it (my first Masterson novel) to be a fun, freaky horror tale. Adding to my enjoyment was the fact that the film stuck really close to the novel. Indeed, I was surprised by how close to the book the film had stayed. There are a few changes -location, specific events, etc.- but the movie is about 80% straight from the page. This is a rarity and I must say that in this case it was a refreshing thing to discover, as my familiarity with the adaptation made the book an even more visual read. The movie takes entire sections of the book and slaps them right up onto the screen- even when that might not have been the best choice to have made.

The plot of the film is simple, up to a point -  Karen (Susan Strasberg) is suffering from a reoccurring nightmare and consults psychic Harry (Curtis). She believes her trouble is related to a tumor growing on her neck and enters a private hospital to have it removed. After a series of X-rays the doctors begin to think the tumor is a living creature - possible a vestigial fetus growing inside the swelling. Harry becomes concerned and researches Karen's dream which points to a Native American legend about a medicine man. The operation to remove the fetus/tumor fails when it seems that the growth has interlocked its nervous system with Karen's and then strange things start happening around the hospital. It appears that the tumorous growth is an Indian medicine man named Misquamacus who is reincarnating himself! The time travelling magic user feels under attack as a result of the X-rays used by the doctors to ascertain its nature and the radiation is starting to stunt and deform the thing's development. Misquamacus is returning to exact his revenge on white men who invaded North America and exterminated its native peoples. Harry locates another Native American shaman named Singing Rock (Michael Ansara) who is hired to help fight the reincarnating medicine man, but the kind of spirits he can summon for battle may be too weak to match his opponent's abilities.

Now- if that synopsis sounds crazed you know what you are in for and I wash  my hands of responsibility if you still watch the film. Understand that I like the movie but I don't expect you to be anything more than bemused. The ending is completely insane and shows that the book's monster heavy ending needed to be re-imagined for the screen - but not in this way. On the other hand, I can easily recommend the Masterson novel as a good read and well worth your time if you enjoy horror fiction and I think so highly of it that I look forward to tracking down the sequel! I wonder if Misquamacus actually returns or its another pissed off medicine man.

One day I need to write a bit about the film's director William Girdler. He had in interesting career.