Thursday, February 28, 2019

Random Science Fiction Poster Art

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


I'm not much of a fan of Japanese anime or manga but I am always interested enough to see a live action version out of curiosity. ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (2019) comes to the screen via James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez and does so in a spectacularly action-packed way. In fact the defining characteristic of the film is its action. It moves quickly, the action is very exciting but unfortunately it isn't an entertaining enough film. Oh, I was never bored! There are far too many sights to see for the entire two hour running time for it to be boring, but the film suffers from compacting too much story and too many characters into too little time. Plot details are so rushed that they speed by leaving some important information as a single line of dialog that is often lost in the colorful splash of action. I suspect that the script of this effort is an attempt to crush down hours of material into a narrative that is too short to allow for all the beats necessary for clarity.

The biggest problem is obvious by about an hour into the movie. The film's major flaw is that it is never engaging on an emotional level. At no point did I care at all about the characters, their fates or the various events that the plot put in front of them. There are some good performances from a few good actors but the various CGI creations are more interesting and serve the film's true purpose much better. The real reason the film exists is not to tell a story but to supply spectacle and on that count it succeeds. ALITA is awash in science fictional imagery that fairly bursts with vitality and (artificial) life. It never seems busy or overly flashy giving us a Blade Runner inspired future that feels lived in and logical, for the most part. As a setting it's fantastic but it is terminally flawed. It simply feels like a place created to tell a story instead of a place in which a story takes place. It's hollow. Pretty, but hollow. I was satisfied by the intensely detailed visuals but it never seemed like more than a backdrop built to keep us interested during the slower moments of the needlessly complex tale.

I've seen this compared to two other recent big budget science fiction films - JUPITER ASCENDING (2015) and VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (2017). All three were expensive gambles on properties that producers hoped would generate the kind of returns the well known science fiction franchises routinely garner. Indeed, I suspect that they were all attempts to create one of those huge franchises. None of them seem to have succeeded on that financial level and they gained their main notoriety from the scathing reviews directed at them. I, of course, liked both JUPITER ASCENDING and VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS and rooted for them to pull in large audiences. They were engaging, imaginative adventure fiction not afraid to be bold in story choices and visual style. They connected with me in a way that ALITA just did not. I liked watching their characters who felt like people that existed before the film began instead of being artificial constructs running through an attractively designed maze. This new film was an interesting thing to watch but it exits the mind seconds after it enters, leaving nothing useful behind. And that sequel set-up is quite sad.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Short Film From Bob Mould

Paranoia? Or informed concern? Bob still plays the biggest guitar in the world! 

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Bloody Pit #81 - William Castle Westerns

In this episode I welcome longtime podcaster Derek Koch to the show! Derek is the producer, writer and host of Monster Kid Radio which is one of the best shows out there focused on the monster films of the 1920's through the 1960's. I've been a guest on his podcast covering Antonio Margheriti science fiction and horror as well as Mario Bava peplum films. The two of us share many cinema fascinations ranging far from just our mutual love of horror, sci-fi and fantasy but on MKR Derek is somewhat restrained by the show's stated goal of talking about the 'Great and Not-So Great' movies of those specific genres. With that in mind, I invited him to start a series of shows here examining the recently released set of eight western films directed by the amazing William Castle. These are all early career efforts made while Castle was learning his craft at Columbia and gives us the chance to see him grow into the genre filmmaker who would go on to scare the pants off of audiences.

We begin our chronological trek through this set by tackling the first two of these oaters in this episode. First up is a female-centric tale from 1943 called KLONDIKE KATE. Based on the life of a real life Yukon stage performer the film tells a sanitized version of early 20th century Canadian frontier shenanigans. It boasts a strong cast lead by Ann Savage and the incomparable Glenda Farrell as ladies that have to find creative paths to make their way in a man's rough world. Savage's later DETOUR (1945) co-star Tom Neal plays her rival and possible lover in this short, entertaining barroom tale.

The second film we cover is 1953's CONQUEST OF COCHISE which is a colorful fictionalization of events around Tucson, Arizona right after the 1853 Gadsden Purchase. Robert Stack stars as the Army Major in charge of troops sent in to oversee the transition of the area from Mexican control. He runs into trouble from both Apache and Comanche tribes while also making an attempt to romance the lovely Mexican lady Consuelo de Cordova (Joy Page). Add to this the desire of Apache chief Cochise (John Hodiak) to end the fighting and the military complications escalate. And does Consuelo have feelings for the Army major or is she more interested in the honorable Cochise?

Derek and I have a great deal of fun digging into these movies. We actually spend the first twenty minutes of the show talking a bit about our favorite westerns as a place setting exercise. This allows listeners a chance to understand what kind of films in the genre we enjoy most and, of course, it lets us babble about even more movies we love! We hope you enjoy our conversation and we plan to cover the next two films in this fine DVD set in a couple of months. If you have any thoughts or comments on these movies or westerns in general the email address is or the FaceBook page for The Bloody Pit is available as well. Thanks for downloading and listening!


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

B-Western Poster Art

I've had films of this type on my mind lately. Podcast on the way! 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Horror Art - Weird Menace

Or, women under supernatural threat! 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Beyond Naschy #26 - THE DIABOLICAL DR Z (1966)

The Naschycast returns with our ninth anniversary episode! We dive back into the films of beloved Spanish filmmaker Jess Franco with THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z (1966). This is one of the director's final black & white movies and is considered by many to be his most accomplished work. I'm not sure where I would rank it on Franco's long list of credits but it is certainly a fantastic and beautiful horror film that features several amazing performances. It also has one of the best revenge seeking female mad scientist characters in cinema history. The lovely and deadly Doctor Zimmer is not someone you want to antagonize! Especially not when she can bend to her will the incredible nightclub dancer Nadia (a.k.a. Miss Death) whose long fingernails are laced with poison! And did I mention the murderous, mind-controlled escaped convict willing to strangle anyone blocking the destructive path of this mad woman? Strap in or, more likely, be held down by scary robotic arms for this amazing film!

Troy and I ramble our way through a discussion of this Spanish Horror classic marveling at the clarity and sharpness of the print available on the Kino Blu-Ray. The black & white  cinematography of Alejandro Ulloa is remarkable to see in high definition. As fans of his director of photography work for Naschy's lushly colorful EL CAMINATE (1979) and NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF (1981) we're amazed by his ingenuity at presenting shades of light and darkness without losing detail. Even if the film was only half as good as it is Ulloa's skill would make this a must-see for curious cinema aficionados.

We pick apart the plot, question the need for certain evil elements and gush about the intelligence of the script. Some time is spent on co-writer Jean-Claude Carrière's amazing career with me delighting in talking about his late 1950's Frankenstein sequel novels. The adult nature of the story is discussed as we make note of possible censored spots in the narrative. The amusing onscreen roles played by Franco and his longtime musical collaborator Daniel White are pointed out so that we can praise their acting talent. And we can't resist taking note of Franco's kitty co-star in one scene and his rather direct directorial touch with this wandering performer. Meow!

Any comments or questions can be sent to or dropped on the Naschycast Facebook page. We read out a couple of missives in the final few minutes of this episode and they stir some unexpected conversation, as always. Thank you for downloading and listening to the show. We'll be back next month with more Spanish Horror! 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Vintage Valentines - Monster Edition

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Trailers From Hell - HORROR EXPRESS (1972)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Spaghetti Western Poster Art