Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Bloody Pit #57 - KILLER FISH (1979)

JAWS rip-offs were all the rage in the late 1970's. If you were a film producer of any ambition at that time the massive financial take of Steven Spielberg's world wide hit drew your attention. You can almost imagine the conversations in which moneymen demanded their own killer fish film, "script be damned!" And most of those rip-off scripts were damned - damned bad! It's easy to point to a couple of genuinely good descendants of JAWS (PIRANHA and ALLIGATOR ) to claim that high quality was more common in this narrow Danger in the Water sub-genre but the list of terrible efforts far outnumber the impressive. Who has good memories of TENTACLES (1977) , UP FROM THE DEPTHS (1979), ORCA (1977), TINTORERA: KILLER SHARK (1977),  BARRACUDA (1978)  or MAKO: THE JAWS OF DEATH (1976) the clear winner in the 'Not Even Trying to Hide Our Intentions' contest? Really - who? If you have some love for TENTACLES we need to know why!

So where does a film like KILLER FISH (1979) fall on this good/bad scale? As always, merit is in the eye of the beholder so allow John Hudson and I take the opportunity to convince you of our clear-eyed vision as we make the case for Antonio Margheriti's entry in the Pissed Off Fish genre. Given the tag line 'The adventure that drags you in, pulls you under and tears you apart!' the film is obviously trading on the allure of deadly fish munching on human flesh to get bums on seats. But this animal attacks tale throws at least two other genres into the mix to keep the story from becoming too predictable. The film begins with a jewel heist set to the tune of dozens of distracting explosions (cue Margheriti miniatures) and eventually slips in a bit of disaster film silliness to keep things off balance (cue embarrassing funnel cloud special effect). The film is packed with tasty humans known mostly from television stardom including Lee Majors, Karen Black and James Franciscus as well as model turned actor (?) Margaux Hemingway and football player turned guest muscle flexor Dan Pastorini. And what the hell is Gary Collins doing in this film? Anyway .....

Join us as we take a look at another Antonio Margheriti film to see where it fits into his long career. Do the Brazilian shooting locations add to the film's charms? Do the jewel thieves adhere to the code of criminal conduct we expect from all screen no-good-niks? Does Margheriti get the chance to work miniatures into the film on multiple occasions? Is the cool bionic sound effect used when Lee Majors makes out with Margaux Hemingway in the shower? Listen and learn! Or watch the film yourself. That's certainly an option.

If you have any comments or suggestions the email address is where we'd be thrilled to get your thoughts. The show has a FaceBook page where updates are occasionally posted so please check that out. Thank you for downloading and listening - and stay out of the water!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Sergio Martino Poster Art

Last night I watched one of the few Sergio Martino films I had not already seen - HANDS OF STEEL (1986). It's not one of his better movies but I found much to enjoy. It seems that even lesser Martino is worth seeing. Well - except QUEEN OF THE FISHMEN (1995)! Stay far away from that horrendous late career disaster. Ugh! 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Brief Thoughts -STUDENT BODIES (1981)

Truth to tell I should not have liked this film at all. I'm not the biggest slasher film fan in the world although I have learned to enjoy the genre over the past decade and a half. Plus, I am the most persnickety comedy viewer you've probably ever run across. It does not take much for a piece of cinematic comedy to push me away and once it has we're done - I'm not going to be won over.

So how did I end up liking this much-maligned slasher comedy? I'll have to tell the truth and admit that a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm fascinated by films shot on real locations in the 1970's and 1980's. STUDENT BODIES has the look of an independent production shot mostly on real locations and for that reason alone the film always kept me interested. It's not the only thing I found of interest but it was something that constantly kept my eye moving around the screen looking at places and things the way they were almost 40 years ago. Of course this entertaining little window into the past isn't the only reason I enjoyed the film. Believe it or not I actually did find it pretty amusing. Not every joke hits its Target but enough did that I was constantly amused. It wasn't too silly it wasn't too stupid and it played things in a way that - while it is winking at the audience - it's never being insulting.

I can easily understand why this film has such a bad reputation, especially among slasher aficionados. It's a very irreverent take on the tropes of the genre made all the more amazing by the fact that it was made even before those tropes had become set in concrete. STUDENT BODIES isn't a great film but I have to say I really did enjoy it. It's not great but it kept my attention and made me laugh.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

THE VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969) Poster Art (and Comic Book Cover)

I rewatched this Harreyhausen classic last night and it really hit the spot. I've loved this movie for years but it had been over ten years since my last viewing so it was nice to have the movie surprise me a few times. I had forgotten how appealing James Franciscus is in the lead role even though his character is less than the hero at times. I had also forgotten just how beautiful Gila Golan was and that she had been obviously dubbed. I'm guessing her European accent wasn't quite what the filmmakers were looking for in the role of a Mexican national. And I had forgotten that Richard Carlson plays a large part in the story meaning that he is in three of my favorite science fiction monster movies of all time! (The other two being THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) and IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953) of course.) This is a perfect film for summer viewing as it takes place mostly in the bright blazing sunlight. You can almost feel the sweat!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

G-Fest 2017 Image Dump!

And I only bought a small portion of this stuff! Sometimes my willpower amazes me. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tony Isabella's Black Lightning!

One of the pleasures of attending G-Fest this year in Chicago was getting the chance to meet one of my comic book heroes from days past, Tony Isabella. Mr. Isabella has a long list of comic book credits (including a great run on Hawkman!) but what he is most remembered for these days is the creation of the character Black Lightning for DC Comics in the 1970s. After years of legal wrangling with DC Comics about the creator's credit of that character Mister Isabella and the company are now happily in collaboration again. Indeed, things have been settled to the point that Mr. Isabella is a part of the production of the newest DC TV show - Black Lightning! This mid-season replacement show premieres next year on the CW and I can hardly wait!  

Of course Mr. Isabella was at G-Fest in his capacity as a Kaiju fan and presided over a number of panels revolving around giant monsters both in their comic book form, novelizations and on screen. But being an old comic book fan what I was thrilled most about was the chance to get in him to sign my trade paperback copy of the original run of  Black Lightning comic books. Luckily Mr. Isabella is an incredibly nice man and was willing to talk to an aging fanboy about his work. He even imparted some information about the production of the upcoming television show, his participation in it and the possibilities at this juncture of a second season. Let's just say I'm really looking forward to seeing Black Lightning finally hit the small screen next year.

One of the things he and I discussed was that the first issue of Black Lightning I saw back in the seventies was issue number four, I can clearly remember buying it off a spinner rack when I was a kid even though I can't remember which store that rack was in. He told me something that should have shocked me more but it didn't really shock me very much at all. It seems that Black Lightning had trouble getting distribution in the southeast during its initial run. As a matter of fact, the distributors in the southeast dropped a lot of other DC comic books so that they wouldn't have to distribute Black Lightning. There's nothing like running into another example of the big, ugly racial prejudice of the region of the country in which you were born and raised. All I could do was shake my head in disgust and wonder what this type of below-the-radar racist crap did to shape what I was able to see and read as a kid. While I'm sure such a pathetic bit of distribution censorship wouldn't occur today I'm also not completely positive that it might not happen in some other hidden form. I don't know why but sometimes it's far too easy for me to forget just how racially polarized the region of the country in which I reside remains. I guess I'm lucky to have seen an issue of Black Lightening at all when I was young. Now I wonder if the same thing might have been true for Luke Cage, Power Man since I remember several back issues of his comic being among the first books I ordered through the mail when I was a young comic fan.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Giant Phantom Monster Agon (1966)

I'm just back from Chicago's G-Fest convention with a new obsession - AGON! Over the weekend I got to see the first two episodes of this fun little kaiju series in four parts and now I'm excited to sit down and see the second half. It's a very slight piece of non-Toho giant monster fun but it has the effect of making me smile like I was a kid again. Certainly not to everyone's tastes but......

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

THE BLACK CAT (1934) Photo Gallery Video

This is an excellent look at the glory and beauty of one of my favorite movies. The fellow who made this is to be commended for his skill and good taste! I especially love the behind the scenes photos.  

Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Bloody Pit #56 - HERCULES, PRISONER OF EVIL (1964)

When is an Antonio Margheriti movie NOT an Antonio Margheriti movie? When it's HERCULES, PRISONER OF EVIL (1964).

As followers of this podcast will have noticed I am a fan of the films of Mr. Margheriti and have an ongoing thread of shows covering his work with co-host John Hudson. Our plan is to slowly (oh, so slowly) review each of his movies in no particular order. So imagine my surprise when Mr. Adrian Smith, my co-host from last year's CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST episode, said he wanted to cover something directed by the man! Was Adrian trying to muscle into Hudson's job? Nope! It turns out that although Antonio's Anthony Dawson pseudonym is in the credits of this peplum adventure it seems he didn't actual direct it. Margheriti was far too busy completing a different movie and handed the reins of this one over to his assistant director Ruggero Deodato! And that's not the only interesting info Mr. Smith has found about this film.

So join Adrian for his second dip into The Bloody Pit as we explore this prime example of an Italian sword and sandal epic. We discuss the various pseudo Hercules characters (Ursus, Samson, Machiste, Flintstone, etc.) that were all transformed into Hercules in the English dubs. We run through this film's story pointing out where the movie adheres to the peplum template and the few places it deviates. This movie sports a monster, some unexplained magic and a few sexy ladies so if you are already a fan of the genre you know what you're in for. We had a few technical issues while recording but I think you'll find the show to be perfectly listenable and pretty informative. The majority credit for this one goes to Adrian who, besides working on his doctoral thesis, has started a blog focused on Margheriti movies called - Blogeriti.  Or The Antonio Margheriti Blog. Whichever title seems less silly. I can't wait to see what he has to say about more of my favorites as he covers the man's career.

Thank you for downloading and listening to the show. If you have any comments or suggestions the email address for the show is Let us know what you think and what your favorite peplum adventures are. We'll talk to you next time.