It's been far too long since I've been able to talk to Michael Schlesinger about movies but, luckily, he has a new batch of trailer commentaries popping up on THF! I have to agree with him about this film and the stunning output of Warner Bros. in the pre-code era. BABY FACE is a pretty sleazy tale!
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Sunday, March 29, 2020
There are some......inaccuracies in a few of these advertisements. But they are all pretty great examples of what I wish poster art for science fiction still looked like!
Friday, March 27, 2020
Kat Ellinger has made a name for herself in film fanatic circles over the last several years as the editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine as well as writing for both that site and the British Film Institute among others. She is a prolific commentary track creator contributing to dozens of Blu-Rays ranging from classic Hollywood to arthouse cinema to Euro-Trash of the filthiest type! She’s even a podcaster, teaming with up with fellow female film fans to discuss cult movies in Daughters of Darkness and Helles Belles. And did I mention her book about the great Sergio Martino? Kat was nice enough to add her voice to this show and chose DOCTOR JEKYLL AND THE WEREWOLF (1972) to dig into. I had a blast talking with her and can’t wait to do it again!
Robert Monell has been a guest on The Bloody Pit but never before on this show. His is the writer behind the amazing blog “I’m In a Jess Franco State of Mind” where he has reviewed and dissected the work of that Spanish filmmaker since 2006. He has since branched out into creating extras for various Franco Blu-Ray releases and moved into commentating on movies as well. He also runs the Cinemadrome film forum which hosts some of the most interesting discussions of cult cinema you’ll find on the web. For his visit to this show Mr. Monell chose one of the most problematic of Naschy’s werewolf films, FURY OF THE WOLFMAN (1970). He has some interesting things to say about it starting with digging into the probable origins of its basic plot. It is quite an interesting find!
Troy and I end the show with an extended dive into the mailbag to finally catch up on our backlog. We answer a lot of questions and take notes on possible future episode subjects. We can be reached at email@example.com or over on the FaceBook page for the show. Let us know what you think and we’ll be back soon with more Spanish Horror!
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Thursday, March 26, 2020
I have to admit that even though I've watched this film a dozen times in my life I've only spotted a couple of the moving vehicles and people in these wide shots. But the digital removal of them does enhance the creepy emptiness of the L.A. streets making the images that much more effective.
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
UPGRADE takes place in the near future where we meet Grey Trace, a mechanic that specializes in keeping older cars on the street for very wealthy collectors. One night while on the way home from a visit to one of his wealthy customers he and his wife are attacked. Grey’s wife is killed and he is left crippled from a shot to the spine. This injury leaves him a wheelchair bound paraplegic and his grief and depression lead to serious thoughts of suicide. Just then the wealthy and slightly sinister customer he was visiting the night of the attack offers to implant an experimental computer chip that will give him back his mobility. Grey agrees and then finds that not only does he regain the use of his body but the chip can communicate directly to his mind. Soon he and his new ‘friend’ are looking into the facts around his wife’s death while trying to hide the miracle cure that lets him walk again.
This is a very well-done film and I was glad to finally see it but all the time I was watching something kept nagging at me. There was something oddly familiar about it. Then my girlfriend piped up and noted that this movie was telling essentially the same story as VENOM (2018), the pretty crappy Spider-Man offshoot film from the same year. And she was right! The entire middle section of UPGRADE in which the protagonist is partially taken over by an entity that may or may not have his best intentions in mind is nearly identical to VENOM – only done much, much better. The scenes in this film that show the main character’s horror at what his body is capable of doing when controlled by an outside force are very much the same as seen in VENOM only much more intelligent by far. The super hero (?) film had cardboard characters, bad dialog, a ridiculous plot and an ending so sloppy and stupid that it might well be responsible for brain trauma in younger viewers.
On the other hand, UPGRADE is smartly written with an excellent mystery at its center and an ending that made me respect the film even more than the preceding events had managed to do. It’s a film with the courage to keep escalating its story and include enough well-conceived twists to keep the end point well out of sight until it sneaks up and slaps you. It’s a clever film that I know I will enjoy watching again with foreknowledge of the paths down which the tale turns. I can’t wait to see what Mr. Whannell does next!
Sunday, March 22, 2020
When I was a kid the only ‘new’ Star Wars material readily available to excitement hungry fans was the Marvel comic book series. In between the 1977 film and the first sequel these comics told new tales of Han, Luke, Leia and the droids that were thrilling to our young minds and allowed the collective childhood imagination of what might be next to burst wide open. They were an amazing window into the possibilities for further adventures and, even if they felt slightly off sometime, we accepted these new stories like the starving devotees we were.
Of course, we were far too youthfully inexperienced to spot that the stories being told in these new SW comics were little more than direct steals from earlier things. I guess that we were so stunned by the cobbled together legends that Lucas stitched into his space opera script that it shouldn’t have been a surprise that the creators of the Marvel series would expect us to be clueless about their obvious plagiarism too. The first new Star Wars storyline in these four-color pages so blatantly lifts the plot of THE SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) by way of its western remake THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960) that it’s impossible to miss now. Han Solo is placed in the role of a man hired to help a bandit troubled village fight off the pillaging bad guys. He recruits a band of misfit drifters willing to do the job for minimal pay and then enacts the aforementioned story. Since STAR WARS (1977) was mostly based on Kurasawa’s THE HIDDEN FORTRESS (1958) I guess stealing from another Kurasawa films was considered the safest way to get the series off to a solid start. Although this multi-part comic book version might be the first adaptation of the SEVEN SAMURAI story into science fiction it would be far from the last with the Roger Corman production BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS (1980) being the one that did the least to hide its theft.
Rereading these old comics as an adult has been an interesting experience. Now I can see how stilted they are and I’m amused by the things that Marvel invented that subsequent movies swept away. They are of their times in many ways that surprise me with some strange additions to the central characters that might have been better than the ones the sequels eventually employed. Overall, these comics are a fun sideroad that I suspect fans of later generations would have trouble enjoying. I’m well aware that the kick I get from them is largely based on nostalgia as I remember the ways these issues spurred my imagination. They are a colorful window into a fanboy past that allowed a young me to see possible futures spread out with near infinite opportunities for star-spanning adventure. I suspect that the sadness I can sometimes feel about the inept path down which Lucas eventually took the franchise is a sense of loss about what could have been. As these flawed comic books show, there was so much potential and it has (to my mind) been squandered. If only they had used that seven foot tall green rabbit in the sequel films…..
Saturday, March 21, 2020
Rewatched this for the umpteenth time last night and remembered why I love it so much! The first head crushing mummy! Did Paul Naschy take his monster's signature move from this film?
And I really enjoyed Kat Ellinger's video talk on the British Blu-Ray about the lovely lead actress Jeanne Roland. I had not realized how unfortunately short her film career had been or that she was dubbed in this one!
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
For the 100th episode John Hudson returns for another discussion of an Antonio Margheriti film! It’s taken a long time to finally get to triple digits and I’m happy to say that we treat the occasion with very little reverence. In fact, it’s just like every other episode Hudson and I’ve done together with him constantly messing with me while I try desperately to keep things on track. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
BATTLE OF THE WORLDS (1961) is the second of Margheriti’s science fiction films. As with his other cinematic SF adventures he directed the film while also overseeing the special effects. It was this movie that convinced the money people at MGM that he could be trusted to make cheap but good-looking space movies leading to the financing of his quartet of Gamma One films in 1965-67. For years this one was a staple of Saturday afternoon TV broadcasts but after decades of public domain copies (both VHS and DVD) it seems improbable that we’ll ever get a Blu-Ray of this fun film. It is the presence of the great Claude Rains that makes this one to seek out for fans of his decades long career and he lifts this movie on his shoulders in every scene. It’s a shame YouTube is the current best way to see the film because a special edition video release would bring deserved attention to both the director and the often neglected 1960’s space opera genre. Special effects may have advanced well past this film’s day but the care on view is still worth more widespread attention.
Mr. Hudson and I start the show with a discussion of some recent viewings and a side conversation about Stephen King’s output over the last couple of decades. Those expecting certain invisible creatures to get mentioned won’t be disappointed even if I was. As usual. Sometimes I wonder why I tolerate this guy!
Any comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or dropped over on the show’s FaceBook page. We’d be glad to hear from you as we plot the next one hundred episodes!
Sunday, March 15, 2020
In a couple of days the next episode of The Bloody Pit will drop and we'll be covering this early Antonio Margheriti science fiction film. Check it out and we won't actually be spoiling it when you listen to the show!
Friday, March 13, 2020
Usually when a film is described as a ‘slow burn’ the idea is that you have to sit through an hour of laborious somewhat tedious storytelling or protracted character development before you get to the moments that are compelling. This is not the case with the GRETEL AND HANSEL (2020) at all. Although the movie does rest squarely on the shoulders of two fantastic performances this small-scale retelling of the fairy tale is mesmerizing and its ability to impart loads of information through its imagery is phenomenal. Certainly, it IS a slow burn as the first hour or so of the film slowly, carefully gives us, through mood and atmosphere, a sense of incessant dread as the two title characters are pushed out into an unforgiving world because their parents have no future. They eventual stumbling upon what looks to be a safe harbor in a cottage in the woods inhabited by an old lady who seems to have a miraculous larder filled with every type of baked good imaginable. At first what seems like a heaven-sent release from eventual starvation and death slowly turns until the inevitable truth of their situation makes itself painfully and bloodily evident. This is an exceptional film that will reward repeat viewings. For me, it became a thoughtful rumination on fear, loneliness and the desire to live regardless of the cost. Not enough can be said to praise the excellent lead performances from Alice Krige as the witch and Sophia (IT) Lillis as Gretel. They are fantastic and this carefully crafted deliberately paced horror tale would not work half as well without their fine work.
JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (2017) – 5 (predictable kid’s movie)HOUSEBOUND (2014) – 9 (rewatch)
THE WOMAN IN THE MOON (1929) – 8 (Lang’s epic science fiction tale)
DJANGO THE BASTARD (1969) – 7 (well done and creepy spaghetti western)
REQUIEM FOR A GRINGO (1968) – 7 (an alternate title spoils the climax but a good SW)
THE HOUSE ON THE OUTSKIRTS (1980) – 7 (well-made Spanish thriller by Eugenio Martin)
REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE (1967) – 8 (brilliant drama)
THE LIVING SKELETON (1968) – 8 (Japanese ghost revenge tale – insane!)
GENOCIDE (1968) – 7 (dark Japanese sci-fi tale)
PEEPER (1975) – 6 (merely OK noir styled mystery/comedy)
THE SILVER BULLET (1942) – 5 (typical Johnny Mack Brown B-western)
BIRDS OF PREY (2020) – 8
NIGHTWISH (1989) – 5 (low budget horror effort- its reach exceeds its grasp)
THE CALLER (1987) – 6 (oddball thriller with an unexpected ending)
RIDE’EM COWBOYS! (1942) – 6 (Abbot & Costello silliness)
GRETEL & HANSEL (2020) – 7 (fascinating fairy tale)
FURY OF THE WOLFMAN (1970) – 4 (rewatch)
STIGMA (1980) – 7 (Jose Larraz murder tale)
THE WOLF MAN (1941) – 8 (rewatch)
THE LEGEND OF HILLBILLY JOHN (1972) – 6 (interesting low-budget attempt to adapt Manly Wade Wellman’s Silver John tales)
BATTLE OF THE WORLDS (1961) – 6 (rewatch) (Margheriti’s sci-fi tale with the great Claude Raines)
THE PRODIGY (2019) – 7 (great ‘evil child’ horror story)
Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Saturday, March 07, 2020
I caught up with this minor dinosaur tale last night and found it to be on the low end of entertaining. It was produced by the same team that made THE BLOB (1958) a few years earlier but is a less endearing bit of science fiction. A construction team working on a Caribbean island accidentally unearth a couple of frozen (?) dinos who thaw and start butting heads, A local jerk also finds a frozen caveman who proves himself helpful as the action limps along. Much more screen time is spent with the caveman than the dinosaurs which is reflected in the French poster art.
As soon as I made mention online of watching this film Hunter Goatley pointed to the strange synchronicity of the World of Monsters blog posting a scan of the Dell comics adaptation on the same day! Sometimes a silly monster movie is on everyone's mind at once, I guess. In several ways the comic book is a better version of the story!
Thursday, March 05, 2020
How have I missed this until now?
"A "trailer" with music performed by the Golden State Orchestra under the direction of William Stromberg (also available on youtube). Animation and colorization by Mark Thompsen, Kerry Gammill, and Ted Newsom, all lovingly combined under the "Fair Use" clause of the Copyright Act regarding "Derivative Works" and parody."