Thursday, August 31, 2017

Doctor Who - Survival (1989)

I can't remember if I'd ever seen Survival back in the days of catching these stories on VHS. I know it's possible but having now watched it on DVD I can say that it is such an unremarkable story that even if I had seen it I'm sure I would have forgotten it by now.

Certainly, for a story with the master as its villain, this is a limp effort. It doesn't help that this is a perfect example of all of the things about the Sylvester McCoy years that I find irritating. I can't stand the fact that we never have scenes inside the Tardis. I'm sure this decision had something to do with lowering the budget because the BBC was quite worried about money being spent on the show at the time. Strangely, every Sylvester McCoy story I've ever seen was shot entirely on location. Why that would make this show less expensive I have no idea but we all know how the BBC works, right? Not having those scenes inside the Tardis really gets on my nerves as it never allows us to have what I consider to be the most basic Touchstone scenes in Doctor Who stories. We kind of need - or, at least I kind of need - to see the Doctor fiddling with the Tardis controls, speaking about the machine, talking about plans and destinations and ideas and stories that we will never see. This kind of thing adds mystery, flavor and depth to the character which is something the McCoy years needed to just offset the boring locations. Having all of the show's scenes take place outside the Tardis always seems artificial and silly.

Also, in what I'm sure was another cost-cutting effort, pretty much every Sylvester McCoy story I've seen or can remember takes place in modern-day London. This is irritating and mirrors my feelings about the modern Who shows! It's so obvious and cheap a choice that it does nothing but draw attention to how often it is done. It also imparts a certain sameness to everything regardless of how many deserted landfills, grassy fields, rock quarries or other places the show occasionally visits.

So, overall, not a great episode even with some pretty cool cat creature costumes. I'm sad that this was the last of the run of the original Who show. It deserved a much better final story.

Monday, August 28, 2017


From the moment I saw the first trailer for ATOMIC BLONDE I knew I was going to see the film. First of all, I love Charlize Theron and will watch her in almost anything. She's beautiful, talented and completely captivating on screen and this would be far from the first film in which she had proved herself as an action hero. Hell - she was arguably the star of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

The preview trailer for ATOMIC BLONDE made it clear that the movie was going to be an action filled cross between John Wick (with whom this film shares a director) and the James Bond movies. As far as spy thrillers go this one is a throwback in more than one way. First of all, plot-wise it is very old school. Hell - the plot actually involves the recovery of microfilm and even in a movie set in 1989 that's a story point that perhaps was out-of-date by even 1985. But as with any good James Bond film the McGuffin is hardly the point. We are here for several reasons, none of which involve microfilm or paper documents or anything else that the hero may actually be hunting for. We're here to revel in dark characters, interesting situations and - above all - stylish, exciting action. Luckily this film succeeds on that count easily.

Theron plays Lorraine Brown, an MI6 operative who just has just returned from Berlin and as she is debrief by her handler Toby Jones and a mysterious CIA figure played by John Goodman she explains how she may or may not have succeeded in her most recent assignment. Since we've already seen how bruised and battered she is after this little German adventure we're already interested to see just how everything went down. Watching Theron as this world weary agent trying to stay on task amide multiple nefarious players with clashing agendas is incredibly entertaining for me. One of the things I love about espionage tales is seeing the harsh price paid by field agents who often have to trust their instincts as well as their training to survive deadly encounters. Shifting loyalties, questionable motives, bad choices and hidden desires can alter the calculus of a situation for the worse leaving only seconds to decide on the correct option. ATOMIC BLONDE takes the spy thriller back to the days of more carefully plotted, dark stories that refuse to spoon feed the audience the pieces that the main character is struggling to understand right along side of us. I found that refreshing and maybe it's enough of a throwback to raise eyebrows and interest in modern viewers.

There's been a lot of talk over the past few years about doing some interesting casting in the James Bond franchise with the idea of Idris Elba possibly taking the role. I doubt that will ever happen (no matter how much I'd love to see it) but I would say that this film is probably the starting point for a parallel female James Bond series. Theron is excellent in the lead, the supporting cast is fantastic and the period detail is phenomenal all the way down to the smart choices made in the soundtrack. I'm sure there is an actual score written for this film somewhere in the mix but all I can remember are the mood setting songs from the  1970's and 1980's that set everything in place and push the story forward in interesting ways. Much like this summer's  Edgar Wright film BABY DRIVER, ATOMIC BLONDE uses songs as an integral part of it's storytelling effort. They aren't just there to set the scene and to remind you of the time. They actually become an important part of the storytelling, showing you why and how characters are acting and thinking in the ways they are. ATOMIC BLONDE isn't the best movie I saw this summer but it was damn good and it's one that I know I will enjoy revisiting many times in the future. Fingers crossed for a sequel!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Tales From the Crypt covers

Thursday, August 24, 2017

MISTER X (1967)

I acquired MISTER X (1967) under the very similar title AVENGER X - Let's not go into how I acquired it. I had been told that it was a kind of Euro Spy film and I guess it almost fits into that category. The problem is that the film barely has a story and until the last act is pretty damned boring. I guess, to be  more accurate, it does have some semblance of a story but it is so poorly related that in the end it just seems like a string of events held together by the presence of some of the same actors playing characters that all seem like they should be in a Euro Spy film. It's an indifferently directed, sloppily dubbed and haphazardly scored Adventure/Crime / Thriller in which the bad guys are trying very hard to be hardened criminal types. These bad guys are involved in or scheming to become involved in the standard movie Vague Drug Trade that will net them all millions.

The main character - Mister X - is a smirking, smarmy attempt to be Diabolik about a year before Mario Bava brought that good/bad guy to the screen. As in DANGER: DIABOLIK (1968) our antihero is a master of hiding in plain sight and has the ability to disguise himself so well as to be appear to be someone completely different. This chameleon-like ability is not used very effectively in the story, much as little else in the film is all that effective. Well - until the final fifteen minutes when the action gets interesting and a few random story elements actually come together. That last act is good enough that it almost makes it worth sitting through this lackadaisical meander around some out of season European tourist locales. 

The one element of the film that I can give full marks is the presence of two of the female actors. I originally tracked this film down because the amazing Helga Line has a small role in it and she is a joy, sporting jet black hair while playing a gangster's moll with a sneaky plan of her own. Sadly, the film only gives her one good scene but at least it is opposite the other entertaining actress Gaia Germani. Miss Germani plays Mister X's sidekick/lover and she gets to shine here showing off real energy and a wonderfully expressive face. I've spotted her in a couple of other Italian films from the 1960's (HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD, CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD, the Euro Spy film YPOTRON) but it's in this one that she is so sensual and cute I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I kept wishing the film would just focus on her especially after she demonstrates her own hand to hand combat skills.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Video - How To Make A Blockbuster Movie Trailer!

It's sad to have to admit it but this trailer formula works on me every damned time! But I do now hate that BWAAA sound effect. Where did that come from originally? 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Bloody Pit #58 - GAMERA (1965)

NOTICE - There is an audio glitch in the first couple of minutes of our conversation that pushes our voices into one channel. It clears up quickly and remains fine for the rest of the show. It is not your equipment - it was ours!

Having covered a number of Godzilla films over the past two years Troy and I finally move outside of the Toho stable of giant monsters to talk about GAMERA! The giant friend to children everywhere has gone through many iterations over the past fifty-two years but one thing remains the same - he's a flying turtle! How in the hell did that even become a thing?

Regardless, we dig into the genesis of everyone's favorite giant Testudine (yeah, we're educated) and relate our history with Gamera as well as the strange ways in which we discovered his adventures. We delve into the two separate versions of the film with attention paid to the alterations and additions made when it was brought to America. Originally a lean 75 minutes the film's extended US length adds much but is the extra time well used? We have much to say about that, let me tell you! We dig into the pathology of  young Toshio as he endlessly seeks to end his own life and the lives of his countrymen by offering himself up as bait/sacrifice to the hideous turtle monster. Rarely has attempted suicide been presented in such a positive light, much less the desire for immolation by prehistoric sea-beast. Circa 1965, truly, the Japanese child-rearing standards were well overdue for an overhaul!

I try (and fail) to contain my hatred for small, precocious, turtle obsessed Japanese children named Toshio while Troy does his best to keep the show on an even keel. We marvel over the technical achievements of the film and it's audacious move to co-opt the younger audience of the Godzilla franchise. The more serious aspects of the story are discussed along with some of the fascinating behind the scenes tales that demonstrate the difficulty of producing movies at this level of complexity. Remember - Mr. Flame is not always your friend!

We can be reached at or on the Bloody Pit FaceBook page. If you have any comments or suggestions please drop us a line. Thank you for downloading and listening to our little dog and turtle show.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Trailers From Hell - THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942)

Joe Dante has such a clear vision of what makes these Universal Monster classics great even with their various drawbacks. He's one of the best people to introduce films like this to a new audience. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Frankenstein Monster Art!

It always comes back to the Universal Monsters! 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

What I Watched In July

Bluntly stated there is nothing interesting or fresh about the story of  BABY DRIVER (2017). If you've seen a dozen or more crime films in your entire life you have seen a variation on this story. But that is what actually makes this such an incredible film. It's the style employed in telling this clichéd story that makes this movie an amazing cinematic feat - one well worth seeking out.

Understand that it's not just in the obvious thing that director Edgar Wright has done, which is to edit entire sequences of the movie to rock and roll songs. That in and of itself would be an interesting thing to see and Wright does it very well. But what he's really done is infuse the film with the energy of those rock and roll songs to the point that it's impossible to think of the film's various characters without the certain music automatically playing in your head. I'll admit that I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more to the story of BABY DRIVER but any film that has the sequences this one does deserves to be respected. Hell, this film has two specific sequences that elevate the movie to near classic status on their own - the romantic laundromat getting-to-know-you sequence which is played out like a ballet routine laid over the verbal dance that allows two people to discover if they actually like each other beyond just the physical. And then there is the mind-bending, brilliant car and foot chase set to the instrumental song tune Hocus Pocus by Focus. Rarely have electric guitars, yodeling and speeding bodies been so well crafted for excitement.

Oh - great cast too! 

I've already written a brief bit about WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES and I plan to comment on VALERIAN and the new Spider-man film but I'm really pressed for time right now.


THE CURSE OF THE VAMPIRE (1972) - 4 (dull, lifeless Spanish horror)
TIME TRAVELERS (1976) - 4 (limp TV movie from a Rod Serling story)
BABY DRIVER (2017) - 7
GAMERA (1965)- 7 (Japanese version) (rewatch)
CASTLE IN THE DESERT (1942) - 6 (solid Charlie Chan mystery)
KING KONG VS GODZILLA (1962)- 7 (rewatch on the big screen)
THE SAINT'S DOUBLE TROUBLE (1940) - 5 (OK programmer)
STUDENT BODIES (1981)- 6 (fun slasher spoof)
BLOOD FATHER (2016) - 7
HAMDS OF STEEL (1986) - 6 (silly Italian post-apocalypse thriller)
THE RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984) - 8 (rewatch)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (2017) - Thoughts on Silence

The first thing I noticed about WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is the silence. At first I feared that the quiet opening and subdued aural composition of the first few seconds of the film was a technical glitch but then the natural sound effects of people walking through a forest became audible and I realized that it was intentional. Soon it was clear that sound was going to play a major role on the way the story was going to be told.

The rest of the movie demonstrated that director Matt Reeves fully understands how to use sound to tell his story as well as draw an emotional response and a quickening of interest in the viewer. Often he drops specific, expected noises out from underneath images in such a way that it draws attention to violence or action. He is cleverly using his soundtrack to underline character traits the same way a visualist will use costuming or lighting to color our perceptions. At one point a character is crouched in snow with tears trickling down his face and what we hear is his slightly stifled sniffle. This shows his pain better than any conversation could. At another point two antagonists scream while attacking each other as slow motion machine gunfire tracks across a floor and wall seeking a target but all we hear is breathing and the score. The tension is unnerving and I don't think I could have had a more emotional response if all the fury and rage were blasting my ears.

This use of silence often  seems wholly natural because of the wintertime setting. Given that the majority of the story takes place in the harsh cold it's easy to suppose that the general hush over the story comes from that choice alone. I would be curious to know if the filmmakers chose to set the film in the colder months or if it were mere happenstance. Silence over snowy landscapes and cold frigid vistas is a standard movie visual but Reeves and his team clearly know that silence is also something useful in both contemplative sequences as well as scenes of frantic action. On more than just the one occasion described above gunfire, explosions and screams all drop away and we're left with only the music or incidental sound effects giving us an expressive and often profound  view of the emotional content of the violence on screen. This isn't the first film to use silence in this way but, as a technique, I thought it had gone the way black & white photography. I'm glad to see a modern director employ the lack of sound creatively where bombast seems the standard.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Year of Naschy Blu-Rays Marches On!


Paul Naschy (born Jacinto Molina Álvarez) was Spain's answer to Lon Chaney. He has portrayed many classic monsters – the Wolfman, Frankenstein's monster, Count Dracula, the Mummy and more. He was not only a terrific actor, but an accomplished writer, producer and director. This Blu-ray box set includes five stellar films from his long and distinguished career.






Also included in this five-film collection is an immersive 24-page booklet by author Mirek Lipinski.

November 14th! 

Sunday, August 06, 2017

What if John Carpenter did a Doctor Who Theme?

I never cease to be amazed by what people are out there doing! 

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Doctor Who - The Krotons (1968-69)

Not that it's a topic that comes up very often but whenever the subject does raise its head I point out that my favorite Doctor Who actor is the second man to take the job - Patrick Troughton. I've never been exactly sure why it was so easy for me to fall in love with him as the character. It could be the fact that he was the last Doctor whose adventures were shot in black and white (something that I love) or it could be that I just love the slightly rumpled cosmic hobo idea for Doctor Who. It might also have something to do with the fact that Patrick Troughton was simply an excellent actor and capable of pulling off anything that the scripts asked.

Of course as any fan of 1960s Doctor Who will tell you, one of the big problems with trying to watch Who from that period is that a lot of it got wiped. Yes, a number of classic Hartnell and Troughton episodes have long since vanished because the BBC decided to wipe the tapes on which they were stored. They clearly did not know what they were doing.

The Troughton story that I viewed most recently is The Krotons and it was not one that got lost in the mad desire to clear shelf space in the vaults at the BBC. It was released on video tape in the UK and the USA in 1991 so the fact that I'm only now seeing it is really my fault. I missed out on the US DVD release that has now gone out of print and fetches a ridiculous price here in the states so, being the owner of a region free player, I purchased the relatively cheap DVD from Britain. And boy I'm glad I did! While not being an especially great Doctor Who story The Krotons is an excellent example of exactly what I tune into 1960s Doctor Who to see. The story is engaging, the dialog good,  the Doctor and his companions fit into events very well and the conflicts between the Doctor and the villains and the Doctor and the oppressed people he's there to help are very well drawn.

The only real complaint I have with the story is there's a certain lack of energy at times and the Krotons themselves are pretty pathetic looking at any point in which they move around. They're an interesting design but it's clear that they can't actually do anything. Also, it was fascinating that the usurping bad guy who stupidly gets a number of his oppressed compatriots killed is not dealt with by the end of the story. I suspect there may have been an idea to return to this planet later to deal with what his machinations may have continued to create. Sadly, there was no sequel to The Krotons, though.

So, another fun Troughton Doctor Who story with the excellent combination of Zoe and Jamie as the perfect companions for the adventures I love so much. And of course it helps quite a bit to my eyes that Wendy Padbury as Zoe is running around the entire time in a mini skirt. Damn that was one cute lady!

Friday, August 04, 2017

Superman Ad Art from the 1940's and 50's

Getting the urge to watch some of the early live action Superman stuff!