Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Beyond Naschy #30 - THE MAN CALLED NOON (1973)

Westerns are not the most frequent category of cinema covered on this podcast. In fact, this episode marks only the third one in the ten years we’ve been doing this! That might be considered strange when you know just how many fine examples of the genre were made in Spain employing Spanish actors and technicians. Because of the low costs of production many westerns were shot in the Spanish countryside and on the standing sets built for countless Italian movies including some American productions. The cleverest of filmmakers found ways to make those places look fresh and interesting. Such is true of THE MAN CALLED NOON (1973).

We discovered this film while digging into the credit listings of one of Paul Naschy’s most impressive female co-stars. The sight of Patty Shepard aiming a six-gun while dressed in an all black cowboy ensemble encouraged our curiosity and the online plot synopsis grabbed our attention. Based on a Louis L’amour novel? Directed by the guy who made THE ITALIAN JOB (1969)? The lead is played by Rambo’s boss? And the luminous Rosanna Schiaffino is in it as well? How could we resist?

The mystery at the heart of this twisty tale is unraveled slowly over the film’s running time so we do our best to keep spoilers out of our discussion. There are so many reveals and discoveries along the way that we thought it would be best to let new viewers find them as the story plays out. This is a movie with a lot of interesting characters and learning about them is more than half the fun.

We don’t have any new emails or messages to respond to in this episode so if you have any comments for the show we can be reached at or over on the FaceBook page. We’d be thrilled to hear from you!


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Italian Western Poster Art

Long live the Spaghetti West! 

Saturday, April 25, 2020


For those that read my previous post and were curious about this serial, here is a way to check it out on YouTube. It's not one of the best of its type but it can be fun if approached in the right frame of mind. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Serial Time - TERRY AND THE PIRATES (1940)

At least once a year I dive into an old serial that I've never seen before. There's still quite a number out there that I haven’t watched and after stumbling across an illegal copy of the Columbia serial Terry and the Pirates (1940) in a stack of DVD-Rs, it got shifted to the top of the ‘watch’ pile.

This is an adaptation of the Milton Caniff comic strip of the same name. I don't know anything about the strip so I can't tell you if this is a serial that wraps itself around its subject matter effectively as an adaptation or whether it takes the basic idea or the characters of the source material and kind of shoves them into the serial format. I do know from the Wikipedia entry about this production that Mr. Caniff was not pleased. He is quoted from his autobiography as saying “ I saw the first chapter and walked out screaming.”

Regardless I'm three chapters in to Terry and the Pirates and so far, it's not too bad. It's not great but it's not an embarrassment and therefore it hits that sweet spot that I need classic cereals to land in. It also has the classic family structure that for me was cemented into place by the Jonny Quest cartoon series of the 1960s. You have the scientific father, the young son striving to be just as incredible as his dad and the macho badass pseudo father who is also the constant companion and protector of the young boy. If they had a dog you just might as well call it the Quest Family Adventures.

The most interesting thing so far is that the father character has proven to be a very action-oriented character. He has not been the kind of weak lamb scientist who has to be saved by the strong protector character or by the actions of his overly energetic son. Dr. Lee has often initiated fisticuffs and other types of violence when the villains have threatened him in some way. This is a nice switch from this type of character normally being a kind of male Damsel in Distress. But I have to say I was fairly annoyed by the serial until the third chapter because of the characterization of Terry. His incredibly irritating optimism and giant toothy smile served just to get on my nerves most of the time. That is until he became a take-charge ass-kicker in the third chapter and suddenly turned me around on him and the whole serial. Terry was involved in an extended fistfight that was a perfect example of the kind of sequence these short chapters were built to showcase. If he stays in this mode for the remainder of the run I'm going to turn into a major fan.

I think I also need to track down some of the comic strips see how they compare to this adventure on screen. Certainly, Milton Caniff deserves to have his creation evaluated from an example of his actual work.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Space:1999 Inspired Short Film

Pretty funny and very short. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Bloody Pit #102 - X THE UNKNOWN (1956)

Although best known for their gothic horror films, Hammer made movies in many different genres. Before striking gold with their first Frankenstein film in 1957 they produced a trio of science fiction adventures that were big moneymakers and, in a different world, might have made Hammer into a very different studio. Their adaptation of Nigel Kneale’s 1953 television serial as THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (1955) left them wanting more such tales. But Kneale was wouldn’t allow the use of his character for a story he had not penned so they pushed forward with an original script of their own. First time scripter Jimmy Sangster stuck close to the basic template of the Quatermass film creating his own genius scientist who gets thrown into a terrifying encounter with a mysterious, unstoppable force. It’s a cracking good tale with a few surprising moments of gore for 1950’s sci-fi and enough spooky atmosphere for two movies.

Mark Maddox joins me to discuss X THE UNKNOWN (1956) and relate a few personal stories about his history with it. Here’s a hint - always accept an invitation to have dinner with Frazier Hines! We use an outline of the film’s plot to dig into the things that work and the things that don’t. We remark on the sometimes shockingly adult nature of the story’s choices with dead kids, randy nurses and melting faces being unexpected spices in the radioactive stew. We spend a little time on the impressive cast with attention paid to the amazing Leo McKern and Michael Ripper who gets to shout some fun threats at his soldier underlings. Mark is clear-eyed in his assessment of the film’s various special effects sequences and I lodge a few minor complaints about the first act’s pace and the script’s expository scientific babble. We do ramble off topic a few times – OK – several times! But we always link things back to the movie under the microscope. I promise.

If you have any comments or suggestions please write the podcast at and we’ll try to get you your thoughts on the next show Mark and I record in May. Thank you for listening!


Friday, April 17, 2020

What I Watched In March

Leigh Whannell’s remake/reimaging/adaptation/whatever of THE INVISIBLE MAN is one of the best science fiction horror films of recent years. As the screenwriter he chose a brilliant way into the tale shifting the focus from the title character to his victims which allows the invisible person at the center of the story to remain offscreen as we learn about him from other characters. The picture we get is one of a near psychotic paranoid control freak intent on getting his way at every turn. Being the very wealthy inventor of sophisticated surveillance technology, it has been easy for him to have his way except for one glaring spot in his life – he can’t make his girlfriend do more than fear him. In fact, his controlling nature has done so much harm to her mentally and physically that as the film begins she is executing an elaborate plan to escape from their shared home. Once away from him the film becomes a smart, perfectly directed tale of terror, murder and the madness that comes from feeling stalked by something that isn’t there. Or is it?

Whannell’s most ingenious decision in crafting this story is in rethinking the drive of the man at the center of the action. In the 1933 film an ambitious man succeeds in creating an astonishing breakthrough but is pushed to madness by it. This film is about a man who is so successful in such a profitable way that his madness is tolerated and even encouraged. Instead of his scientific breakthrough/discovery slowly driving him mad, it was his madness (or at least his personality disorder) that allows him to accomplish the breakthrough around which the film revolves. It is his ‘madness’ that pushed him toward this discovery meaning that his flaws created the capability to achieve his incredible accomplishment but it is also what will be his downfall. Just changing the focus from the title character to victim wasn’t considered enough to craft a new tale. Whannell wisely saw that the kind of person that could create such a next level project would have to be slightly cracked from the beginning. That insight makes THE INVISIBLE MAN (2020) more than just a clever horror film – it is also a scary look inside a disordered mind. It’s nice to see a movie think several steps beyond the standard twist endings a good thriller can provide and nail each and every one. Bravo!

The List 

PANTHER SQUAD (1984) – 3 (Jack Taylor is great in this mess) 
DINOSAURUS! (1960) – 4 (not great)
THE MAGIC SWORD (1961) – 6 (rewatch on Blu) 
DANGEROUS CARGO (1977) – 6 (Greek crime film) 
UPGRADE (2018) – 7 (solid, scary sci-fi thriller) 
THE THIRTEENTH CHAIR (1929) – 6 (creaky but well done mystery) 
THE STRANGE DOOR (1951) – 8 (rewatach on Blu) 
THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1964) – 7 (rewatch on Blu) 
GIGANTES PLANETARIOS (1966) – 3 (terrible but amusing Mexican SF/comedy) 
THE FALCON AND THE CO-EDS (1943) – 7 (very good/artful entry in the series) 
EXTERMINATOR 2 (1984)- 6 (rewatch on Blu) 
THE EYES OF ORSON WELLES (2018) – 9 (excellent subjective look at the great man’s art)
X THE UNKNOWN (1957) – 7 (rewatch) 
DAVID HARDING, COUNTERSPY (1950) – 6 (the radio show on the big screen!)

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Gamma One on Blu-Ray Campaign!

Writer Robert Monell recently suggested that someone should release a box set of the Gamma One films and it struck me as long overdue. It is certainly not the first time the idea has floated to the top of Euro-Cult film fan conversations but the more I thought about it I realized that it is indeed long past time to bring those four colorful science fiction films together for a high-definition release. And now we might have a way to push this idea forward because at least three of them are owned by the same company!

Director Antonio Margheriti made the four Gamma One movies over the course of just a few months for an amount of money that could best be described as small. American studio MGM had seen his previous two films OPERATION: OUTER SPACE (a.k.a. SPACE MAN) and BATTLE OF THE WORLDS as proof of his ability to make solid low budget science fiction. In fact, Margheriti had originally moved into the director's chair in the early 1960's because of his background in creating special effects for other people's films. MGM wanted in on this profitable SF party so Margheriti was contracted to make four films fast and cheaply. It has been suggested they were made with an eye toward television release but that upon seeing the finished product they were deemed good enough for theatrical release – if only on double bills. I've never been sure that was true but, regardless, the films passed muster and were released over the next couple of years. 

As I mentioned earlier, right now Warner Bros. has the rights to at least three of the four films. Through their Burn-on-Demand DVD arm Warner Archive the company has released WILD WILD PLANET (1966), WAR OF THE PLANETS (1966) and SNOW DEVILS (1967) but as of now these colorful and bizarre films have yet made the leap to Blu-Ray. This seems odd when you realize that the pseudo Gamma One production from a few years later, THE GREEN SLIME (1968), has been released on Blu by Warner Archive. I realize that the Margheriti films don’t have a cool rock tune as a theme, but surely they are at least as deserving of high definition treatment.

I am not sure why Warner Bros doesn't seem to have the rights to the remaining Gamma One film WAR BETWEEN THE PLANETS (1966). Perhaps they actually do but don’t feel they have elements that would provide a good enough scan for release. Regardless, we can concentrate on the fact that they certainly have excellent prints of the other three and make a push to get them onto Blu-Ray. What I propose is that if you want to see these beautiful science fiction films in hi-def, please write to the Warner Archive podcast team. This show is the way that new arrivals to their growing list of offerings are announced to the world. The three hosts encourage listeners to contact them with questions or requests and are very good about responding on the podcast. If enough of us wrote them asking for the Gamma One films to be released on Blu-Ray they might just start moving things in that direction. It would at least let them know there are potential customers out here interested in adding these films to their collections or upgrading to a better format. They have already put out one of Margheriti’s peplum adventure films THE GOLDEN ARROW (1962) in hi-definition so adding to the total of the director’s works on Blu could be a further incentive for them to make some moves with his sci-fi.  

If you want to type, scrawl or draw a request and send it off to them, the mailing address is -

Warner Archive Podcast
3400 Riverside Drive B160-4
Burbank, CA 91522

They can also be reached at the podcast’s FaceBook page, on twitter @WarnerArchive and on their Instagram page. Let's see if we can get these films even more attention and onto Blu-Ray! 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Even More Alternative Poster Art

Click on each one for a closer look. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Recent Viewings!

This week I've been digging into several TV movies from the 1970's. I wanted to finally check out films that I've heard about for years but never been able to find. Luckily, YouTube provides! 
I recommend all of three of these with A Cold Night's Death being he best so far! 

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Trailers From Hell - SPIDER BABY (1968)

This is so cool! 
Jack Hill talks about his first feature film's trail to viewers and its various titles. How cool to have the man himself giving us some information on this amazing black comedy. 

Friday, April 03, 2020

The Bloody Pit #101 - 1968 - Greatest Movie Year Ever?

Author Mark Clark rejoins me in this episode to put an interesting idea before us all. He claims that the all-time best year for science fiction, horror and fantasy movies is 1968. Best ever?  He argues that there were more high quality genre films released in that year than in any other and he comes with an impressive list to make his case. I have to admit that I am compelled to disagree with him – well - I’m compelled to disagree with almost everyone eventually. BUT – he has a good point or five. So, we dig into the movies from that long ago year, making claims of greatness and arguing their finer points. I mean, there is a lot to be said about 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, PLANET OF THE APES, ROSEMARY’S BABY and WITCHFINDER GENERAL don’t you think?

Of course, I also push back at Mark’s thesis with a different year that I’ve always considered one of the best for genre cinema and the conversation ranges across the merits of that year as well. We find much to agree on but there are some strange areas of contention. There might be a separate future discussion about the contemporary popularity of some of these movies and what that says about the perception of their quality level. If a movie was a financial failure on release but went on to be considered a classic, how do we evaluate it as an entry in that year? Food for geeky thought.

If you have another year that you think is more impressive than 1968 drop us a line. The email address is or we could get a thread going over on the show’s FaceBook page. Thanks for listening!

Apple Podcast LINK

MP3 Direct Download LINK

Wednesday, April 01, 2020


Sometimes an image just keeps popping up on my screen.