Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Bloody Pit #67 - AT MIDNIGHT I'LL TAKE YOUR SOUL (1964)

The cinema of Brazilian filmmaker José Mojica Marins is under seen and underappreciated in the English speaking world. Although his astonishing movies have been available in subtitled form since the 1990's the general public has almost no idea of his existence and even knowledgeable cult movie fans are often unaware of the groundbreaking work Marins created in the 1960's. At the same time that Hershel Gordon Lewis was pushing bright red gore onto drive-in screens for shock value Marins was making deeply thoughtful and transgressive films that pushed against the artistic restrictions his country imposed on creative people. To this day his crude, vicious vision of the world as a place in need of a more honest way of living life can be a difficult thing to behold. From the mouth of his most mesmerizing character Zé do Caixão (known in the English speaking world as Coffin Joe) came the darkest vision of humanity he could dream up. With Joe he was able to give voice to the worst impulses of man to act as either a sinister harbinger of the future or the starkest example of what good people must guard against. Each viewer must decide for themselves what parts of Joe's twisted moral sense are the most contemptible. Maybe that's how we define ourselves - who do we most want to not be.


To dig into the first of Marin's incredible horror films I'm joined by fellow podcaster Cort Psyops. His show Cinema Psyops has often allowed Cort and his co-host to delve into the deeper aspects of the dark end of the genre. Even if the reason for the harshest effects of a disturbing film resides in the simple act of watching it at far too young an age, they examine the what that means on a personal level. In this show he and I try to sift through our reactions to AT MIDNIGHT I'LL TAKE YOUR SOUL and attempt to come to terms with what it means for each of us. But, on a more interesting track, we also burrow into the philosophical questions that Marins seems to have been asking with his story. If horror films are able to cloak intellectual curiosity in a grotesque form then this film is a fine example of that concept as it hides its subversive ideas behind shocking images. There is much food for thought here and Cort and I bat around lots of ideas as we debate the merits and defects of Coffin Joe's dark world view. We really get into the weeds on this one and I think it's a great conversation. We hope you think so as well. 

The show can be reached at if you have any comments. Feel free to write or send along an MP3 of your thoughts when Cort and I cover the second in this amazing trilogy. Thank you for listening.

Friday, April 27, 2018


The first of the Coffin Joe films is a mesmerizing classic! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


It's difficult to put into words why I enjoy the Canadian horror film HUMONGOUS (1982) but I shall try.

There are probably two understandable reasons why I've watched this film more times than I care to count. The first reason is that in the 1980's this was a pay cable staple for a long period of time so I caught all or part of this movie on multiple occasions. Those late nights glued to the wicked films shown only after prime time were formative in my movie nut life.  Back then I found this film fascinating and titillating for various reasons including that there are a couple of attractive women in it. One of these young ladies is often semi-nude or scantily clad and the other - although never nude - is just the type of attractive woman that you don't mind following around in a horror film. Back then these surreptitious late-night viewings of an R-rated horror film carried a certain sense of slight danger and the feeling of being a little bit naughty. I'm sure that added a little bit to the thrill of the horror and sex elements and accounts for my possibly over-generous view of the movie to this day.

A second reason that I'm probably a fan of this film against my better judgment is that it's a Canadian horror film complete with the odd feel of Canuck-sploitation. You might know what I mean if you've ever seen a film that seems as if takes place in the States but the characters pronounce 'about'  in an odd way or drink Labatt's beer. There were dozens of commercial movies produced in that amazing time in which the Canadian government made it easy to finance films that were of questionable taste and dubious public value. These movies were aimed squarely at making a buck and out of that glorious time came a lot of very interesting exploitation films of which HUMONGOUS is a fine example. It's clearly built on the slasher genre model but coming in 1982 it's early enough in the cycle for it to not feel like as much of a copy/retread as it really is.

The film's structure mimics a number of other slasher films that came both before and after. It begins with a prelude that takes place a couple of decades before the main story begins. This sets up our killer giving a us minimal back story and possible murderous motivations. Post credits we move into modern-day 1981 (when the film was shot) and are introduced to are very stab-able cast, the plot gets underway and mayhem ensues. As a younger man in the middle of the 80's what appealed to me most was that it was a kind of monster movie. The creature who is killing our poor young victims is physically monstrous and bereft of characteristics beyond being a hulking, grunting killer. So for me it fit very easily into the category of monster film rather than slasher film. This is an irrational way to look at the film necessarily but it is one felt right at the time and even in the 21st century looking back it's still kind of feels okay. So what we have is a slasher movie with a monstrous villain at it's center and a bunch of younger people who we watch get murdered one at a time. The good news is that only one of the characters is a despicable piece of garbage / dislikable meat bag and that person get offed first. Sadly, my favorite character kind of gets killed twice.

To be clear, this is not a great movie! I want to emphasize that because I don't want someone to read this slight recommendation then visit the film and rail against me as some kind of lunatic who can't discern good cinema from bad. HUMONGOUS (1981) exists in that strange mid-range between something plausibly good and something definitely bad. It appeals to me for some of the most wrong reasons. Of course, some of those wrong reasons were put there specifically to make someone at a young impressionable age enjoy what I was seeing. And I saw it early enough in my life for it to partially slip under wire for me being able to understand why I was attracted to the story That does not mean that I am blind to its many faults. For instance - the way the group of soon-to-be-dead younger people end up on the island involves our idiot character doing something incredibly idiotic for an idiotic reason and then feeling idiotically bad about it. That's bad enough but it is his actions that cause the film's weakest visual moment which is when we see a boat "explode" and be destroyed. This blast is not accomplished well. Although the movie tries its best to sell the effect it's obviously that they did not destroy a boat or even come close to harming a boat to make this moment plausible. But this modestly budgeted film still gets me on it's side with this sequence because they distract me with the plight of the now marooned victims.... castaways... whatever.

So, yes - I get a kick out of this Canadian monster slasher but I know it's not great. This is exactly the kind of film I return repeatedly but try to hide that fact from others. If nothing else you can read this as a confessional or even a cry for help. But really I think I might just be searching for other fans of the movie out there who might be better able to rationalize liking HUMONGOUS. Maybe we could start a support group.

"Hello. My name is Rod and I like HUMONGOUS. It's been twenty days since I last watched it. One day at a time, I guess."

Monday, April 23, 2018


This plays like a trailer for the never produced fifth Blind Dead film. It gets the visual look of the 1970's right and all it's missing is the iconic music. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day from The Smog Monster!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

THE WILD BUNCH (1969) Poster Art

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Decemberists on YouTube

Caught these folks again the other night and - as always - had a great time. They played tunes from across their career but leaned heavily on the new, very strong album. The only song I was unfamiliar with was the Lin-Manuel Miranda penned Ben Franklin's Song which was cut from Hamilton. He thought it was the perfect track for The Decemebrists - and he was right! 

Many F-Bombs are dropped in Ben Franklin's Song. If you know Ben's life that won't be much of a surprise. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

What I Watched in March

ANNIHILATION (2018) is an amazing breathe of fresh air in these days of tent-pole science fiction films. Operating at the opposite stylistic end of most modern cinema SF that vies for mass attention every year this film is a calmly, deliberately told tale of mysterious alien contact. Telling the frighteningly plausible tale of a slowly expanding extraterrestrial effect that may destroy the North American continent and the world, we accompany a team into the influenced area. Once inside people are subject to odd mental and physical consequence of the alien power spreading across the land as thy push toward the coast to reach the original point of contact. Along the way they discover strangely altered animals, dangerous plant life and the remnants of earlier teams. Each of these encounters makes them doubt their ability to carry on, doubt themselves and wonder if the possible answer waiting for them might be beyond their capacity to understand.

Adapted from a novel by Jeff VanderMeer by director Alex Garland (EX MACHINA) the film channels Tarkovsky's classics SOLARIS (1972) and STALKER (1979) but finds a new way to get to the same questions. This tale's answers are surprising as well with the main character's motivations twisting in an interesting direction by the third act. This is not a perfect film but it is thoughtful, intelligent speculative fiction that stands well beside ARRIVAL (2016) proving that cerebral science fiction filmmaking isn't dead yet, even if it only shows its head on rare occasions.

At the other end of current cinema science fiction we have a film that is built around giant robots beating the crap out of each other.

PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING (2018) should not have been as enjoyable as it turned out to be. As a sequel it should be a weaker version of the original movie running the surviving characters through their paces while introducing some cardboard new faces to take the place of the hearty souls that perished in the last story. So, how did this movie manage to surprise me? It refuses to copy and paste the first film. Yes, it brings the next generation of Jeager controllers on board giving us the fresh, young faces to pilot the robots but it makes a couple of sharp turns with the new characters. The story has advanced ten years so the holdovers are the same but different. In fact, some of the changes to them are both logical and horrible turning the third act of this story in an interesting direction. I won't spoil things but I was impressed with how this continuation grows the storyline in smart ways giving the Pacific Rim title an even more understood importance. And they did it all without subverting the victory of the first movie! I love it.

What anyone would fear from a film of this type is that it will descend to the crap level of the useless Transformers franchise where nothing matters except spectacle and explosions. But, if anything, this movie made the returning characters richer and the new people are well drawn and easily relatable. This bodes well for any future sequels and i hope we get them.


ANNIHILATION (2018) - 8 
NAKED...YOU DIE (1969) - 7 (rewatch)
MY FORBIDDEN PAST (1951) - 7 (New Orleans drama with Mitchum)
DARK HARVEST (1992) - 2 (shot on video mess)
THESEUS AND THE MINOTAUR (2017) - 4 (no budget fantasy tries hard)
THE SAGA OF HEMP BROWN (1958) - 6 (standard western made good by cast)
DIMENSION 5 (1966) - 3 (terrible, cheap SF spy tale)
THE MYSTERIOUS MAGICIAN (1964) - 7 (a.k.a. DER HEXER - fun krimi)
THE SCARLET CLAW (1944) - 7 (rewatch) (creepy Sherlock tale)
LIFE (2017) - 7 (good ALIEN clone)
DAUGHTER OF DRACULA (1972) -6 (Jess Franco vampire film)
NIGHT SCHOOL (1981) - 6 (not bad slasher)
CRY WOLF (1947) - 7 (Flynn & Stanwyck in mystery melodrama)
ROUGH NIGHT IN JERICHO (1967) - 7 (solid western with Peppard and Dean Martin)
ISLAND CLAWS (1980)- 5 (well done but let down by FX) 
THE NICE GUYS (2015) - 8  (rewatch)

Friday, April 13, 2018

ALIEN (1979) Poster Art

Decades later this film continues to inspire artists. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Blake's 7 on YouTube!

2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the underrated, underappreciated British television show Blake's 7.  It ran for four years from 1978 to 1981 and over the course of its 52 episodes it broke new ground for science fiction TV in many ways. It told a continuing story of a group of rebels working against an oppressive, authoritarian Federation of planets. Each new season saw a rotating cast of central characters with a few core people remaining for the whole run. New cast members were necessary because one way this show separated itself from more conventional SF TV of the period was that no character was safe. People died unexpectedly as part of the dystopian narrative and by the third season even Blake himself was lost and presumed killed!

Sadly, this excellent series is not well known in the United States as it was only broadcast briefly in the early 1980's and only in a few cities. It's deadly serious tone combined with the typical British SF  television low budget look made it a difficult sell here, I suppose. But it is exactly that tone and look that attracted me initially as I was already used to the feel of Doctor Who of the period. It was the smart scripts and sharp dialog that kept me coming back for more. I would eventually spend lots of time over the years digging through magazines and books trying to learn more about the show. It was years before I was able to see all the episodes and by then I could quote some scenes perfectly.

But I know I'm part of a small cult on this one. Just not enough people know of the show and I fear that far too many others would not have the ability to forgive it for the problems that it's low budget necessitated. The leap required for the willing suspension of disbelief might be impossible for those that didn't catch the show in a less CGI-filled time. Oh, well.

If you're interested enough to see what all the fuss was once about the entire series seems to be available on YouTube. Below are the first three episodes that set the story in place and introduces the first central cast. My hope is to find another fan of the series and do a 40th Anniversary podcast about Blake and his band of rebels and miscreants. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Reclining Theater Seats - Not The Best Idea Ever!

For a long time now I've been curious about a certain type of Theater that had yet to come to Nashville. You know the kind - they have large, plush reclining seats. I read about this advanced level of theatrical comfort and knew that eventually we'd get something like it, if we were lucky. Sounded like a dream come true! Maybe they would deliver beer to me during the preview trailers as well.

Well, without me realizing it, those types of theaters had finally sprung up in my town but I only wish I'd known about it beforehand.

My girlfriend and I were going to see the Pacific Rim sequel (which, by the way, turned out to be much better than it had any right to be). Because of a previous appointment we ended up going to a theater that's usually a little out of our way and not one that we attend frequently. While buying our tickets we were confronted with the fact that we had to choose our seats. We'd been confused because a couple right in front of us trying to purchase tickets to another movie had left without going inside. We quickly discerned why. For the screening of the movie we wanted  to see there were only two seats still available that were actually right next to each other. All other seats in the theater were singles meaning that we were the last couple in attendance that could sit together. If we had been unable to get seats right next to each other my anger would have been off the charts and I doubt we would have gone to see the film. Even without that barring our rare chance to go to the movies I was still peeved that things could be so poorly managed as to turn away customers in such a stupid way. After buying our tickets and realizing just how irritating I expected this experience was going to be we proceeded into the cinema and learned very quickly that it was only the first problem we would encounter.

One of the larger problems with going out to see movies is that you have to do so in a room with a bunch of strangers. Ordinarily this isn't a big deal but on occasion you end up accidentally seated near idiots. In general I'll inform overly talkative folks that they are not in their living rooms and no one else cares about what they have to say. That approach works fine with most simpleminded dimwits but not always. In such cases you have to get up and move away from the brain-dead word vomiting dolt. You see where this is going, don't you?  

Yes - Problem number two with this new type of theater seating is that if you end up seated next to babbling morons you cannot simply get up and move to another seat. You have bought one particular seat and one particular seat only. In most cases - as in ours - there are no other seats to move to. You are screwed! You're going to sit next to that chattering dullard or whining child or clueless cretin for the entire film. Period. So, I had to endure sitting next to a dunce who had to give me and all around her an intermittent recap of the action onscreen. So my enjoyment of the film was sporadically disrupted by such trenchant exclamations as "Oh! Look at that! He slid in there!" or "He ain't going in there!" or "He's the bad guy!!"  There is not a room in Hell hot enough for this level of transgression.

Needless to say, I spent the entire running time of the film trying to suppress my desire to strangle this moronic chair barnacle. That I am not in jail currently speaks volumes about my strength of will. Or my fear of prison.

To sum up - I'm not sure I'm going to enjoy the move toward fewer but more comfortable seats in theaters. The downsides are many more than I had anticipated and the intelligence level of movie going crowds show no sign of improving. I'll have to be much more choosy in the future and, although I'm sad to say it, there are places I will no longer patronize. I have to be able to move far enough away from the idiots to enjoy the film. Time to go back to the Drive-In! 

Friday, April 06, 2018

Trailers From Hell - THE SHADOW (1994)

THE SHADOW is one of those films that I still think is a mess of good and sloppy elements that combine into a memorable but frustrating whole. It could have been a classic but the director (in my opinion) is too careless of tone and is convinced that camera movement connotates excitement. But others disagree including Agnes Morehead. Or is it Michael Schlesinger? Hard to tell! 

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The Bloody Pit #66 - THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS (1940)

With this episode Troy and I start a new thread of shows focused on an unjustly neglected area of classic horror - the Universal Horror films of the 1940's. Not that there hasn't been attention paid to some of the movies of this period but, beyond the respect given to THE WOLF MAN (1941), there is a general disdain for these later entries in the cycle. We're not sure we can rectify this injustice but we do plan to shine a light on the (admittedly) lesser 40's output with hopes of elevating their reputations a bit. Surely even the least charitable fans recognize how the various Mummy and Frankenstein sequels add some bizarre ideas to the Universal Monster Universe that make the entire sequence richer. Right? 

We start with the first Invisible Man sequel THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS (1940) which gives us the chance to talk about the very young Vincent Price. Of course, he's invisible for most of the movie but the rest of the cast is more than capable of holding your attention. The film sports some high quality special effects and some foggy, creepy atmosphere so, regardless of the fact that the story is more of a murder mystery than a horror film, it feels like a proper continuation. Under discussion is the difficult attitude of the director, the consistently excellent score, the haunting beauty of Nan Grey and the odd sound of Vincent Price's voice. We are able to stay almost completely on the main subject and both of us manage to keep all our clothes on which means we avoided going mad - unlike some people we could name! (Anybody got a hit of monocane? I got the cash! Really!!)

At the end of the episode we read out a few emails we've received prompting some off topic discussion. It's always good to know there are folks out there enjoying what we're doing. If you have any comments, the show can be reached at and we'll be thrilled to hear from you. We end things with a feisty little punk song and Vincent ranting us out the door! Thanks for listening.