Friday, April 29, 2016

Vince Rotolo - Podcasting Mentor

About ten years ago I first learned about the world of podcasts and immediately started searching for shows focused on my off-kilter interests. Vince Rotolo's B-MovieCast was one of the first shows I subscribed to and not long after that time I realized that I wanted to put in my two cents worth. Vince made that easy by having a phone number set up for fans to call and so - after screwing up my courage - I called, left a message and thus began a long series of sometimes crazy contributions to that show. If truth is to be told I was trying to do a couple of things with those dozens (?) of phone calls. Sure, I wanted to add some information about the movies being covered on the podcast BUT - I was also trying to make Vince laugh. I really, really wanted to make Vince laugh. I knew that if he was amused he'd surely include me in his show. That's how it works, right? If you put a smile on the boss' face he lets you stick around.

Well, he did include my calls in the B-MovieCast and I could hear him laughing so I knew I was cool. B-MovieCast cool. And even when he wasn't audibly laughing you could hear the grin that was plastered on his face. That's right. Vince was the kind of host that could not keep the sound of his voice from telling you how much fun he was having making his show. He was enjoying himself the entire time, even when he was wrestling with Skype problems that made recording with his distant co-hosts a start and stop pain. Of course, I should have figured out long before I actually did that I didn't have to work so hard to make Vince laugh. He wanted people to join the conversation and as long as I added to the show he was happy to have me. Indeed, he seemed to be happy to include everyone that took the effort to be a part of the B-Movie love that he started the show to foster. I was far from the only listener to add my voice to the party and Vince weaved us all in no matter how nutty we got. Hell! I used his show to jokingly call another podcasting legend a heretic for not watching more Godzilla movies! (Sorry about that, Derek!) But Vince took it all in stride and juggled us lunatics like a professional. He made us all feel welcome in his place even when we acted like crazy people. He created the gold standard for this kind of podcast because he treated us all as friends - even those of us he had never met.

On this past Wednesday night I received a phone call from B-Movie co-host Nic Brown to inform me that Vince Rotolo had unexpectedly passed away just hours before. I was at a friend's house preparing to record a podcast of my own and as I sat down on the couch I felt sure that I was imagining this call. But I wasn't. Nic gave me the details he had and we sat miles away from each other, listening to our own breathing, stunned into confused silence. He was able to assure me that Vince's wife Mary was doing as well as could be expected but, being used to hearing her every week on the podcast, I could imagine her voice cracking with grief with the same words Nic was using. No matter what this was doing to me, Nic, or any other fan of his show I knew Mary was in a far more terrible place and I just wanted to help her. But there are no sympathetic words that aren't obvious. No phrase that will heal this pain. Not for her, not for Vince's family or for any of us.

I only met Vince and Mary once several years ago at the Monster Bash convention in Pittsburgh. I was so thrilled to be able to shake his hand and he was very gracious but also kind of shy. He smiled a lot and as soon as we all started hunting the dealer's room for goodies it was like kid's in a candy store. He might have seemed standoffish but as soon as the conversation turned to our common interests we were cool! I know he talked me into at least one purchase and I think I was able to point some cool pieces out to him as we searched too. It was magical and I can still see him holding a British Blu-Ray of WITCHFINDER GENERAL in his hand and pondering the price.

I'm planning to be at this summer's Monster Bash for the first time since I met Vince there. A big part of why I was excited to go was to talk face to face with him. I had plans to email him in the next few weeks to ask if he would be willing to sit down at the show and record a little for my own podcast. I wanted to dig into his childhood and ask him about his memories. I had visions of getting inside the head of a first generation Monster Kid. What was his first monster film? When did he realize how important movies were for him? What were his thoughts on how the movies of his youth formed his adult tastes? I wanted to know about his job and how he ended up living in the southern US. I wanted to pick his brain about Ray Harryhausen and the day he spent at his house. But mostly I wanted to spend some time with Vince. Some more time. Two or three hours a week for most weeks of the year just didn't seem to be enough. Not for me. And probably not for a lot of other people either. I started missing Vince Wednesday night and I'm going to be missing him every day for the rest of my life. He was a long distance friend; a podcasting mentor; a movie fan and an incredibly nice guy. A light went off this week and, unfortunately, we aren't waiting for the movie to begin on the screen in front of us - we're saying goodbye to that light forever. 

The Bloody Pit #37 - LOGAN'S RUN (1976)

Welcome to the 23rd century. The only thing you can't have in this perfect world of total pleasure is your 30th birthday.

All around good guy Randy Fox joins me again as we continue our series of shows on the science fiction films of the 1970's. This one figures big in both of our young lives as a touchstone for the genre and how we viewed it. It may come as a surprise just how big and widespread the fandom for this hit movie became. As kids it was easy to get caught up in LOGAN'S RUN simply for its sets, action and beautiful people but luckily those are not the only elements on offer. In this episode we dissect the film in detail drawing out some subtext and symbolism along the way even though we both still spend a lot of time marveling over the look of the world the film so skillfully builds. We talk about the cast and our mutual appreciation for the solid center they give to this wild story and look at the ways the casting made the film work. There is a discussion of several deleted scenes and I've even managed to grab audio from one such sequence that restores some dialog cut from the finished film. Exciting stuff!

We also delve into the changes made from the book, talk about the book's sequels and the surprising, never completed comic book sequel to the film. Along the way Randy and I pledge our undying love for both Jenny Agutter and the lost art of matte paintings so it's strange trip no matter how you think about it. We even try to diagnosis Box the cyborg's mechanical needs as he has clearly missed his preventative maintenance check up!

Along the way I've sprinkled some bits from Jerry Goldsmith's excellent score and some extra clips from the picture. We end the discussion with a look at Marvel's comic book adaptation, Randy's stint in the Logan's Run fan club and a brief look at the short lived TV series from 1977. We hope you enjoy this (rather lengthy) look back at this SF classic and if you want to share your memories of the books or the movie please contact us at - we'll be glad to hear from you. Until next time - Run, Runner! 

iTunes LINK 

MP3 Direct Download LINK 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Logan's Run by Marvel Comics!

As had become the norm by the mid-1970's someone had to adapt the latest science fiction film for the comics. Luckily the book was handled by the very talented artist George Perez making it stand out visually in a way that just seemed to enhance the film's imagery. The comic spread it's adaptation of the movie over the first five issues allowing the writers Gerry Conway and David Kraft to dig deep into the story and bring out subtly and nuance that was never possible even with a big Hollywood budget. And then they continued the story in issues six and seven before Marvel pulled the plug! It's a damned shame because the next chapter was shaping up to be amazing. I've read conflicting accounts as to why the series was cancelled with low sales being offered as a reason. I've also heard that there was a sudden discovery that Marvel didn't have the rights to do more than adapt the film and had over stepped their rights by going further. I really doubt that the series was not selling well so I suspect that Marvel charged ahead without the contracts having the correct letters crossed and dotted. They certainly never kept a series going again once the particular film had been adapted including FOR YOUR EYES ONLY and BLADE RUNNER. Jeeze! Imagine a couple of sequel issues for BLADE RUNNER from Marvel in 1982! 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Brief Thoughts - SCORPIO (1973)

The other night I caught SCORPIO because I liked the look of the cast. How could I pass up a spy thriller with Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon?  Even if it stank it would interesting. Lucky for me it turned out to be excellent and one of my favorite unexpected discoveries of the year so far. Lancaster plays Cross , an aging agent of the CIA responsible for arranging the assassinations of foreign citizens that stand in the way of the United States' interests. Delon plays a French professional assassin codenamed Scorpio that Cross uses often in his plans. The film opens with the duo seeing through the removal of an Arab government official and then traveling back to Washington DC. It soon becomes clear that Cross has been marked for elimination by his own side with Scorpio is set after him with the promise of replacing his longtime mentor upon success. I won't give away any more of the film's surprises so as to encourage others to seek it out. I will court spoilers by saying it ended up reminding me quite a lot of the Robert Mitchum film from the same year THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE (1973). Overall I think I liked this film more.

Oh! I really enjoyed the casting of a number of great character actors in SCORPIO too. There are good roles for Paul Scofield, James Sikking, Gayle Hunnicutt, J. D. Cannon and two familiar faces from Star Trek as well - John Colicos as the CIA boss out for Cross' head and Joanne Linville as Cross' wife. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Power Records Book and Record - Six Million Dollar Man: Birth of the Bionic Man

The mighty internet tells me that today is Lee Majors' birthday so I was looking over my novelizations of the TV series. An unexpected Facebook conversation with some friends about the huge amount of ancillary media generated to make money off The Six Million Dollar Man made me do some hunting online. I am so happy that someone has done this motion comic version of the origin story and I'm thrilled to share it. Check it out! Oh! And Happy Birthday Mr. Majors.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Beyond Naschy #16 - THE LORELEY'S GRASP (1974)

Amando de Ossorio is the man best known for his quartet of Blind Dead films but he made quite a few other worthy movies as well. This horror fantasy combines a couple of European myths with elements from Stoker's Dracula story to create a creepy and unique monster tale. And, being a man with an eye for beauty, Ossorio populates his scary movie with about a dozen completely gorgeous ladies and the supremely hunky Tony Kendal to keep everyone distracted. Of course, any film featuring the amazing Helga Liné has my attention from the beginning! 

THE LORELEY'S GRASP also features some surprisingly gory violence with no regard for keeping the carnage confined to the bikini clad young ladies. In fact, the victim choice seems to be entirely unpredictable adding to the shock value of the monster's various stalking scenes. This film's nasty reptilian beast is not just after female hearts to eat - even bearded hippies are on the menu!

Since this is our first Beyond Naschy in a few months we have a backlog of comments and letters to sift through. We get to those in the show's last segment but we actually start the episode with the live opening of several stunning gifts from a dear listener. This is a first for us and - as you will hear - we were overwhelmed with the generosity of these presents. And, like the whores we are, we couldn't help but turn this into an open plea for more! Who wants to be our Number 1 fan? Send money! But, in all seriousness, we are so happy to have you folks out there willing to listen to us. We're just two Tennessee boys with a love for cinema and the desire to find out more about what we enjoy. It is wonderful to know our efforts are appreciated as we share the love. You people keep us going.

So, stock up on irradiated cutlery just in case a mythical murdering monster comes calling and drop us a line at if you have something to add. We love hearing from you and this show's mailbag points out how quickly we can be swayed to cover a film suggested by our fans. Shatner on the NaschyCast feed? Oh my!

Thanks for downloading and listening and feel free to rate & review us over in the iTunes store or wherever you feel like spreading the word. The more the merrier, after all. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sword & Sandal Poster Art

Because every now and then you just need to see examples of gorgeous movie poster art. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

COMIN' AT YA (1981)

With the recent Blu-Ray release of this very late in the cycle Euro-Western a small part of my younger movie watching days has come full circle. I saw COMIN' AT YA (1981) when I was 13 years old in the company of the man who would become my mother's second husband. He was trying to get on my good side by taking me to the movies but I suspect that it was his choice to see a western. I don't remember complaining, especially with the extra thrill of seeing a 3D film. For years afterwards I only retained a few memories of the flick and most of them were related to the many scenes concocted to shove, sling, drop or dangle something at the camera. The movie has so many shots set up to create a 3D effect that after a while the viewer begins to anticipate them. There are even a few notable 3D jokes including a gratuitous yo-yo scene right out of the classic HOUSE OF WAX (1953)! Fun stuff, even if it is incredibly silly. But that is the joy of these kinds of movies. They are trying to entertain and thrill to the exclusion of any other concern and often they succeed.

I'm not going to claim that rewatching COMIN' AT YA for the first time in 25 years was an incredible film fan experience but it was a lot of fun. I have developed a strong dislike for 3D in the past few years so I watched it in 2D and soaked up the go-for-broke vibe of it all. The paper thin plot is so clichéd and obvious - man's wife is stolen by slavers, vengeance ensues - that it is almost beside the point. This is a movie made to throw things at the screen, show bloody gunfights and reference spaghetti western images one after another. It's not the worst Euro-western I've ever seen and its not particularly good either, but it's entertaining. I would say this Spanish-American co-production accomplishes its goals pretty well and it managed to keep my attention throughout. There are certainly some impressive stunts on and off horseback with the regular use of slow-motion capturing the action in cool detail.

This is my second Tony Anthony movie from the period and I'm turning into a fan of his ugly mug. For this film and TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS (1983) he was involved in producing and writing his own lower budget 3D films and apparently COMIN' AT YA made a lot of money at the time. Indeed, it seems to have been the movie that started the brief 1980's 3D resurgence, so it must have been profitable. But once the craze for the gimmick died out he couldn't get financing for a planned third movie and his producing options dried up. That's a shame. I would have enjoyed seeing what wacky-ass thing he would devise for his next cinematic epic. He didn't make good movies but he did make fun ones.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

CRACKED - Why JJ Abrams Doesn't Understand Star Wars

This humously lays out some of the problems with The Force Awakens and I have to admit that I hadn't even thought of a few of them. The Mystery Box is a terrible idea for these films.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Superman Comic Book Covers of My Youth

I can still remember picking these up off the wire spinner racks - probably creasing the spines and destroying their future value! But who cares? 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What I Watched In March

I only went out to see one film last month and I'm not going to bury the lede - I liked BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. I realize that puts me in the unenviable position of liking something that the broader popular consensus has decided is garbage, but I'm comfortable with that. I often like movies that others despise and I've never cared before so why start now. I am a little surprised by the magnitude of the outright hatred generated by this film though. Well - I'm surprised by the non-geek hatred. I'm never surprised by geek hatred. Nerd Rage is a daily fact of life in the 21st century and if you have any interest in listening you can find some group, someplace, bitching about any and all details small and large about every geeky topic you can image - and some you would be shocked to learn about. These days, of course, superhero movies are at the top of the list of bitched about geeky things. Everyone has something to complain about and, in some cases, I can agree that a case is being made that is worthy of attention. I've certainly had problems with some recent superhero films, but overall I'm very happy and outside of hideous missteps like GREEN LANTERN I've enjoyed much more about the genre than I've disliked. I think that might be because I've always had a fondness for new and different interpretations of these classic characters. I don't feel that something I love is being destroyed just because it isn't exactly the way I pictured it. I actually WANT to see different versions of these characters and I don't mind the darker tone at all.

In fact, I love seeing these decades old characters taken down less sunny paths because it allows for some dramatic tension. I have a fondness for the Christopher Reeve  Superman films but I never doubted for a second that he would prevail in the end. With this story I can't be sure of anything. Here Batman has been at his thing for twenty years with Alfred a weary veteran of his ongoing battle against crime in Gotham. That's cool! Superman is new to this hero thing and is very unsure of the correct path for his future and worries that the public sees him as more a threat than a benefit. Seeing the fear that his power causes in some people fills him with uncertainty about his place in his adopted world. That's fantastic! He's not a do-gooder 'god' - he's a man with real concerns about unintended consequences and blowback. Excellent! This is already more interesting than it needs to be in my opinion and we haven't even gotten to the plot! Or the great introduction of Wonder Woman. Why did it take this damned long to get her on the big screen?

But, fanboys gonna bitch. That's what they do. They did the same about MAN OF STEEL and they'll do it about every version of these characters that doesn't conform to their narrow vision. But I'm thrilled with this new road for these films. The older versions of these heroes still exist on my bookshelves, my DVD shelves and I can check them out any time I wish. Maybe the complainers should think of this run of stories as an Elseworlds tale like Gotham By Gaslight or Red Son. In those books writers took familiar characters and placed them in new settings or just changed their backgrounds to explore the hero's journey from a new perspective. (The Marvel version is called What If.) That's fun stuff! Change it up! Stop bitching and remember that, in their own way, these characters are timeless and are certainly strong enough to be reimagined and played with by new creators. The version you prefer - whatever that may be -  hasn't gone anywhere, so calm down. Let someone else play in the sandbox and stop trying to crap in the corner.

The List 

KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1950)- 7 (good adventure tale)
PRAY FOR DEATH (1985)- 4 (pretty bad ninja movie)
THE NEW BARBARIANS (1983)- 6 (rewatch)
CYBORG 2: GLASS SHADOW (1993)- 3 (terrible)
FINAL EXAM (1981) - 4 (not good but watchable)
THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974) - 6 (rewatch)
THE BELLBOY (1960)- 5 (Jerry Lewis)
CORMAN'S WORLD:EXPLOITS OF A HOLLYWOOD REBEL (2011) - 8 (excellent documentary on Roger Corman)
THE KEY (1934)- 6 (love triangle set in Ireland in 1920 with William Powell, Colin Clive)
DRACULA (1958) - 9 (Hammer's classic on Blu!) (rewatch)
THE MASK (1961) - 6 (rewatch)
EASY COME, EASY GO (1967)- 5 (amiable, silly and colorful Elvis film)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Queen Videos from HIGHLANDER (1986)

In my earlier blog post I didn't mention one of the more amazing aspects of HIGHLANDER - the music. Although Michael Kamen wrote some of the score the most memorable parts of the film's musical legacy is the half dozen or so songs recorded for movie by Queen. I don't think their work here is the best music of their career but it is certainly incredible with these two songs showcasing the extremes of emotion they were able to touch upon for the project.

Friday, April 08, 2016

HIGHLANDER (1986) and I

I have a strange history with this film. I first saw HIGHLANDER (1986) back in 1986 in the theater on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I was stunned that my student ID was all that was needed to go inside and see this and any other movie the school decided to show. (Yes, there is a story about what I was doing enrolled at UAB but this isn't about that. Stay focused people!) I was excited to see this new science fiction/fantasy film starring the great Sean Connery and the prospect of sword wielding and decapitations made me vibrate with energy. After the film was over I quietly exited the theater, drove home and spent the next day or so trying to decide what I thought. And 30 years later I guess I am still doing that.

I've seen the film six or seven times over the years and each time I come away slightly frustrated, mildly entertained and puzzled over the whole affair. It was one of the first movies I ever saw that I immediately knew was missing scenes. It was the only explanation possible for what I had seen. There seemed to be big chunks of the story that were just gone from what I watched - scenes that I was sure would make things clearer or at least answer some of the obvious questions the movie left dangling. So many things are just thrown at the viewer with no elaboration! We are told by Connery's character that this mutant (?) group of immortal people are occasionally born at random around the world with no understanding of what causes them to exist. We're told they can sense each other, are drawn to each other and must battle each other to the death. The only effective method of killing these immortals is by cutting off their heads so they fight each other with swords even in modern day New York City.

But - and this is the central problem at the heart of the film - The natural question of WHY is never addressed in the movie! Why must they fight? Why only removal of the head? What is this famed 'Prize' that they are battling to obtain? And why would they want it? In other words -What the hell is driving these immortals to act the way they act? Add to this the obvious question of how in the hell Connery's ancient Egyptian-by-way-of-Spain character knows this information. Or why, if he is fated to battle these other immortals he would go out of his way to inform, train and become a father figure to Christopher Lambert's character at all. (Or why an Egyptian sounds so damned Scottish in the first place - but let's not get sidetracked by the film's bizarre casting or we'll be here all night.) The film doesn't give us any answers and, indeed, seems completely unaware that anyone would ask the questions in the first place.

But the multitude of questions about this strange cult of immortals is just one of the elements that make the film so interesting to me. Director Russell Mulcahy simply cannot keep his camera still and he has it sweep and glide around every location and set in the film until I almost need Dramamine. Sometimes this stylistic choice is fun or even smoothly effective but more often than not it draws attention to itself in the worst way. "Look at me! I'm moving the camera all over the place! Here - watch me put it on a helicopter now! Wheeee!"

As I stated earlier I was confident that there were missing parts of this film and at different times over the video release history of HIGHLANDER I've thought I was going to finally see these explanatory scenes. Years ago a VHS of the 'Director's Cut' was released and I sought it out to discover several minuets of additional footage that gave more detail for side characters or added some more flashbacks - which was interesting. But the hoped for explanation of the immortals and their driving force was left just as murky as ever. Dammit. And so, I revisit the film every few years and once again am entertained enough to watch the entire thing and frustrated enough to bitch to whoever will listen - lucky you. And I know the eventual TV series offshoot built an explanation (supposedly) for all this crap but I am not interested in that. I don't care to watch hours of mediocre television for something that should have been in the freakin' original film!

So, in the end, I have to say I've finally come to terms with this film now. I watched it the other night, have mused on my reactions to it 30 years on and have realized that I kind of like the stupid thing. It's a great example of so many of the things that went wrong in 1980's cinema - flash over substance, style over coherency, an aversion to telling an actual story - and is kind of fun for that reason. I don't know if it's good but I think I like it. A little.

One day I need to write about mad sequel. Whowsa! 

Thursday, April 07, 2016

HIGHLANDER (1986) Poster Art

Some of these are quite odd. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

100 RIFLES (1969)

I have a very long list of older films that I want to eventually see and this Tom Gries directed western has been there for years. I've seen a few of Gries' other work (TV movies EARTH II and HELTER SKELTER, Charles Bronson western BREAKHEART PASS) but have yet to catch his more critically lauded work (Charlton Heston western WILL PENNY). Now that I've seen 100 RIFLES I will have to make some serious effort to check out the rest of his credits because I thought this was great!

The main reason this film was on my radar was because of Rachel Welch. Yes, of course, she's a gorgeous woman but I also always find her a pleasure to watch onscreen. (Mind out of the gutter, folks!) In the late 60's and early 70's she starred in several movies and I'm especially interested in seeing the westerns as they all seem to have pretty good reputations. I'll eventually get around to BANDOLERO (1968) and HANNIE CAULDER (1971)  but I'm glad I started here. Jim Brown plays an American bounty hunter in Mexico chasing down bank robber Burt Reynolds and the $6000 he stole in Texas. Reynolds plays an American who has embraced his mother's Yaqui Indian heritage and used the money to purchase the titular 100 rifles to help the tribe fight the Federal army led by General Verdugo (the excellent Fernando Lamas). As you might expect, things do not go the way the bounty hunter would hope and soon he is chained to his target and suspected of being a collaborator with the Indians. Adding to the story is Welch as a (damned convincing) Mexican rebel on the side of the Yaqui and a cowardly railroad executive played by Dan O'Herlihy trying to keep his hands clean as he assists the General. Did I mention the film has an amazing cast?

Oh! And for fans of Euro-Trash cinema there is a featured role by the legendary Jess Franco actress Soledad Miranda in the first few minutes as a prostitute in bed with Burt! She has a solid speaking part and spends most of her screen time nude so that's another point in the movie's favor. Also turning up in a small but important role is Argentinean actor Alberto Dalbés who I've come to appreciate because of his many appearances in Spanish films such as CUT-THROATS NINE (1972), MANIC MANSION (1972), Paul Naschy's HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE (1973) and several of Franco's 1970's films.

I should also add that I really get a kick out of Burt Reynolds onscreen. In the 1970's he became one of the biggest stars in the world but it is evident even in his early work that he had what it takes to hold the audience's attention as a main attraction. He has a tricky character to play here and although he doesn't hit every mark perfectly he is very good and displays the abilities that would bring him huge fame very soon after this film. As good as he later became in comedic parts he is much more able in the dramatic scenes in 100 RIFLES even as he plays them with a well crafted light touch. Some of that can be attributed to the script which paints him as a man who has had to use his smile and charm to gain things in life but a lot has to be laid at the actor's feet. Reynolds had real screen charisma and here you can see it beginning to blossom. Of course, you can also see just how little real hair he had even in 1969! Those hairpieces and hats in later years must have been a separate line item on the budget of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT films.