Monday, June 29, 2020

Beyond Naschy #31 - THE BLANCHEVILLE MONSTER (1963)


THE BLANCHEVILLE MONSTER (1963) is a gothic horror film set in 1884 which has a small cast of characters wandering around a huge castle-like home searching for different things. At times the castle search is for the origin of a strange nighttime noise (Is that a man moaning in pain?) or for a missing companion (Did they go down to the dungeons for some reason?). Sound familiar? But, in the end, everyone is searching for both romance and the answer to a family mystery. Well, usually that’s what happens in these types of movies. Actually, this film throws us several curveballs by, at first, having a haunting mystery at its center (“Oh, you silly dear. You didn’t really see what you clearly saw.”) and then tossing it out for a darker plot involving disfigurement, madness and murderous intent. It all revolves around family curses so at least that aspect of gothic tales is kept all the way through!

Troy and I step carefully through this film’s dark corridors holding our candelabras aloft searching for the meaning of it all. We discuss the Gothic Romance as a genre and I outline my newer understanding of it. We talk about the usual tropes of these tales and the ways in which this one adheres and deviates from them. I was actually shocked that there was no incest! The period setting and real castle locations work well to create a fair amount of atmosphere and the fact that we can almost always see the actor’s breath adds to the chilly mood. It is really a shame that this movie’s status as a Public Domain work continues to keep a good looking print available. The black and white photography cries out for sharp resolution without the dark, muddy smearing that obscures from view the efforts of the legendary cinematographer Alejandro Ulloa. I sincerely hope that we one day get a remastered version of this interesting film. And did I mention the Helga Line is in this? 

We end the show with a new instrumental song called Mystery Machine from Troy’s band The Exotic Ones. This tune is on their forthcoming EP and it drops in the next few days. Check it out! The podcasters can be reached at naschycast@gmail.com with any comments or suggestions. As is evidenced by this episode we do take advice from listeners, so add your voice to the proceedings. We’re always interested in what Naschy related films we could cover next! Thank you for listening.






Saturday, June 27, 2020

Video - Zero-X - Planet of Bones - Part 3



The birth of a whole new species! 
Here's the final part of this exciting Zero-X story in motion comic form. 
Is that genocide we're witnessing there at the end? 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Audio - Good Neighbors by Frank Oreto



This is an episode of a podcast called Overcast. This show features my good friend Frank's short story 'Good Neighbors' and I recommend it highly. I'm not sure if this is my favorite of his work but it is in the top five. Do yourself a favor and check it out! 




Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Comic Books!!






How am I only now learning of this five issue run of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser comic books from 1973? Holy Hell! Written by Denny O'Neil? With art from Howard Chaykin, Jim Starlin and Walt Simonson? 
This just jumped to the top of the 'Must Read' pile! 
Trade collection ordered! 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Video - Gerry Anderson's Zero-X: Planet of Bones Part 2



In part two we get all kinds of action including reanimated dinosaur bones attacking astronauts! And what is that luminous liquid in the cave? Curious. 

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Bloody Pit #107 - THE MAD DOCTOR OF MARKET STREET (1942)


Mad science is a strange field of endeavor. It seems that there are few barriers to becoming a practitioner with the one real requirement being a narcissistic belief that the world needs to be changed and that YOU are the person to change it! For these types of roles Lionel Atwill was usually the perfect choice and this episode’s film has his second onscreen shot at being the baddest, maddest doctor (or, actually, a chemist) he can possibly be. It is fun to watch Atwill squeeze every bit of evil out of the script and he is easily the best thing about the movie.

Troy and I discuss THE MAD DOCTOR OF MARKET STREET (1942) and ask the most obvious question first – Why does this movie mostly take place on a Pacific island? That title is an example of blatant false advertising! This bizarre tale of mad science in the South Seas does begin in San Francisco on Market Street but quickly shifts to a doomed cruise ship and then, after some footage from another movie, to an island inhabited by the usual Hollywood-style native stereotypes. These easily fooled islanders are soon convinced by the Mad Scientist (Atwill) that he is a god capable of resurrecting the dead. You don’t have to be a genius to know that this is not going to work out well long term. The silly portrayal of these natives is only partially redeemed by the chief being played by the great Noble Johnson who manages to inject some dignity into the proceedings. And top billed Una Merkle is a real joy as the flighty Aunt Margaret who is on her way to marry a wealthy man in New Zealand. Past those elements your mileage may vary.

If you have any comments or questions our email address is thebloodypit@gmail.com or we can be reached on the show’s FaceBook page. We’d be thrilled to hear from you. Thanks for listening to this episode!






Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Monday, June 15, 2020

What I Watched in May


MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN (2019) seems like one of those scripts that needed another set of eyes on it before it was put in front of the cameras. It’s a good movie but it thinks it is a great one. Sadly, it should have been great but it is a little too muddled and, in the end, it feels like a fantastic idea and flawless cast are working to get about 70% of what they could have achieved.

The List 

DR CYCLOPS (1940) – 7 (rewatch on Blu)
THE KID BROTHER (1927) – 7 (Harold Lloyd comedy)
HAUNTS OF THE VERY RICH (1972) – 6 (well done Twilight Zone style TV movie)
SCARED TO DEATH (1980) – 4 (pretty poor monster/detective story)
BLOW THE MAN DOWN (2019) – 7 (well-made small-town crime drama)
BLOODSHOT (2020) – 7 (not as good as hoped but solid)
SPLIT SECOND (1992) – 4 (rewatch) (it does not hold together at all)
YOUNG, VIOLENT, DANGEROUS (1976) – 8 (strong Italian crime film)
MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN (2019) – 7 (needed a tighter script but good)
THE TURNING (2020) – 3 (a mess that tries to have things both ways)
THE FALCON OUT WEST (1944) – 7
WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (166) – 7 (rewatch)
HUDSON RIVER MASSACRE (1965) – 6 (rewatch on Blu) (a.k.a. REBELS IN CANADA)
BYLETH: THE DEMON OF INCEST (1972) -5
THE POLICE ARE BLUNDERING IN THE DARK (1975) – 4 (weak giallo)
THE KILLER WORE GLOVES (1976) – 7 (well done giallo)
THE SCARLET BLADE (1963) – 8 (rewatch on Blu)
HAPPY DEATH DAY 2 U (2019) – 7 (not as good as the first but good)
LA LLORONA (1933) – 5 (first film version of the Mexican legend is clunky and slow)
THE MAD DOCTOR OF MARKET STREET (1942) – 6 (rewatch)
DEADLY MANOR (1990) – 5 (rewatch on Blu)
THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE (1967) – 6 (rewatch)
TARZAN THE FEARLESS (1933) - 5 (feature edited down from the mostly lost serial)
THE SEVEN MAGNIFICENT GLADIATORS (1983) – 6 (about as good as this mix could have been in 1983)
TRAUMA (1976) – 6 (rewatch on Blu) (Klimovsky’s interesting giallo)
APOCALIPSIS SEXUAL (1982) – 6 (Carlos Aured’s super sleazy crime film)
CASINO ROYALE (2006) – 9 (rewatch)
QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008) – 7 (rewatch)
TARAS BULBA (1962) – 6 (epic sized tale of Cossacks)
MACISTE IN HELL (1962) – 6 (rewatch of the Italian widescreen version)
ATTACK OF THE MOORS (1959) – 6 (might be better if a superior print surfaces)
ANGUISH (1987) – 7 (incredible Spanish horror film)
THE INVISIBLE DR. MABUSE (1962) – 8 (excellent crime tale)
THE DEATH RAY OF DR. MABUSE (1964) – 6 (too long but pretty good)
SUDDEN DEATH (1995) – 4 (without Powers Boothe’s bad guy this would be unwatchable)
THE LEGIONS OF CLEOPATRA (1959)- 7 (good historical tale)
THE FALCON GOES TO MEXICO (1944) – 6



Saturday, June 13, 2020

Video - Gerry Anderson's Zero-X: Planet of Bones Part 1



I'm a big fan of the various television adventure shows produced by Gerry Anderson in the 1960's and 70's. I'm still playing catch up with several series like StingRay, Fireball X-15 and Joe 90 but I'm fascinated by them all. This motion comic was just posted over at the official Gerry Anderson website and it is a blast. Until this video I was unaware of Zero-X spaceship and its connection to two of the classic TV shows. Of course, now I'm scrambling to find more of these stories in reprint form! 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Toys From My Youth!










I wonder what any of these would be worth now? 

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

THE LEECH WOMAN (1960)


It’s difficult to explain why I have real affection for THE LEECH WOMAN (1960). It is easily one of the weakest of Universal Internationals' sad late 50’s horror thrillers with a retread story and set-bound look. It’s silly, derivative and the details of the plot are so obvious that you can predict nearly every action minutes before they occur onscreen. So, what is it that has made me watch this movie half a dozen times over the years? The characters!

This movie accomplishes what I think was not possible in a film of this type until the late 1950’s. There is not a single likeable or even semi-likeable person in this story. Not one! Everyone either starts out as a despicable scumbag or is eventually revealed to be one as the story plays out. It’s incredible!

It was only in the mid-50’s that some science fiction and horror films were starting to be aimed at a more mature audience. The Hollywood horror product of the 1940’s war years was gauged for a younger crowd as escapist monster tales suitable for kids. But after this infantilizing of much of the genre the 1950’s had ushered in higher minded adult stories that could be better enjoyed by older audiences. Of course, not every production had a huge budget to swing around for creating nifty effects or believable creatures. Some had to rely on mature themes and, just as is true now, that meant melodrama and/or sex. This being the 1950’s melodrama was easier to add but if you were crafty sex could spice things up pretty well too.


Enter THE LEECH WOMAN (1960)! The central horror of this tale is the awful specter of old age. Well – old age for women. As the movie lays out very clearly, old age for men brings a distinguished wisdom along with the graying hair. But women become hideous monsters subject only for pity and derision! They are horrible harridans hobbling around making demands of the virile men in their lives who are simply attempting to accomplish great things and breed with younger, prettier women. At least, that’s the picture this film paints. Needless to say, I find this entirely entertaining. Rarely has a low budget horror film so perfectly captured the patronizing attitudes toward older women in service of a ridiculous story. Because not only the men but the women hold these backward beliefs! The film repeatedly demonstrates the disgust of everyone for elderly women and it is the bedrock of the entire plot. The main male character is striving to find a way to become rich by reversing the aging process; the central female character wishes to be young looking again to keep her slightly younger husband attracted to her; and the old lady that set things in motion needs money to return to her native African village so she can restore her youth for an end of life bacchanal. Good lord! Why don’t all these people kill themselves at the age of thirty to avoid the hell of middle age?

So, yes - THE LEECH WOMAN (1960) is a completely insane film. Although it integrates its jungle stock footage much better than most movies of the time it never fools anyone into thinking that everything we see isn't on a stage. And while I am impressed that the film actually treats the African characters with more respect than average even casting actual black folk in the roles instead of black faced white dudes they are still presented as ignorant savages. But the reason I am fascinated with the film is that it takes a standard societal attitude of the times and blows it out to create a story that either illustrates the idea perfectly or displays it for mockery. And I can’t decide which of these two choices the filmmakers were aiming for! Were they so immersed in the belief that old women are useless hags that it seemed like a natural jumping off point for a story or did they want to point out the horrors of such a view of life? I don’t know but I suspect I have put more thought into this than anyone involved in the film’s production. This is my curse.


My most recent time through the film (on Blu-Ray, no less!) I was paying attention to the characters again. I was sure that there had to be at least one person in this nasty tale that came off as likeable in some way. And I thought I had someone pegged as the one that was going to hold her head up and exit this sordid mess with dignity intact. The doctor’s secretary seemed like a perfectly nice young woman with no real personality flaws. And then she pulled a gun threatening another woman with death if she didn’t leave town and keep her hands off her fiancé! Insane! Everyone in this movie is one jealous or greedy moment away from violence or murder and that is why it fascinates me. It’s like watching a pit of trapped vipers fight each other. I’m entranced watching their sad struggle to come out on top and escape across the lip of that trap as they keep pulling each other back into hell. Probably not everyone’s idea of a fun night’s viewing.


Sunday, June 07, 2020

Elric Paperback Cover Art









I'm back at my re-read of the Elric saga. I continue to be impressed by Moorcock's writing. 

    

Saturday, June 06, 2020

The Bloody Pit #106 - THE KID BROTHER (1927)



The film under discussion in this episode is a silent movie and a comedy meaning that it represents two cinema topics that this show rarely touches on. In fact, this is the very first time that we’ve ever covered either of those types of movies on The Bloody Pit so, it’s long overdue! 

Usually when John Hudson guests on the show we discuss Antonio Margheriti films but after years of this we thought it would be a good idea to switch things up for a change of pace. Mr. Hudson suggested we look at one of his favorite funny movies THE KID BROTHER (1927) and since I knew nothing about it, I said yes. The film stars comedy genius Harold Lloyd who, by this time in his career, was one of the most popular filmmakers in the world and the highest paid film star of the 1920’s. He was in complete control of his movies usually generating the story ideas and co-directing them in a hands-on producer role.  His films are always energetic affairs filled with amusing chase scenes and daredevil action sequences as his central character struggles to overcome adversity and win the affections of his female co-stars. You might think it pretty standard stuff until you actually watch one of his movies and get caught up laughing and gasping in surprise at the inventiveness on display. Lloyd was an amazing performer and this film is a perfect example of his abilities. 

After Hudson and I catch up with each other’s recent viewing lists we dive into a discussion of THE KID BROTHER (1927) and do our best to find ways to remark on this crowd-pleasing tale when we can’t use sound clips to detail our points. John relates his history with Mr. Lloyd’s movies and his love of silent comedy in general. A good time is had by both of us and we hope that you enjoy listening to our discussion of this great film. 

Any comments or questions can be sent to thebloodypit@gmail.com or posted on the show’s FaceBook page. John and I will be returning to our usual subject matter the next time he visits but I suspect there will be more oddball choices for us down the road. Thanks for listening! 









Friday, June 05, 2020

Dell Comics' Universal Monsters








Tuesday, June 02, 2020

HAUNTED HONEYMOON (1940) and Dorothy L. Sayers


I have to admit that I've never read one of Dorothy L. Sayers detective novels. She's one of those well-regarded mystery writers from the early 20th century that I've just not gotten around to yet. Every now and then I'm reminded that she's someone whose work I should examine more closely and then it slips away and I forget. But having now re-watched a film adaptation of one of her stories I have to say that I'm really going to have to bear down and find some of her work. 

There's a short film entitled THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF AGATHA CHRISTIE (2019) that popped up on the Flix network that I found incredibly amusing. It recounts the 1926 disappearance of Agatha Christie and recounts the details of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy Sayers becoming involved in the hunt to find the missing mystery novelist. It was quite amusing, painting the various men attempting to locate Miss Christie as oblivious dolts trying bizarre methods to solve the case. Dorothy Sayers comes off as the most level-headed investigator of the bunch and, indeed, is the one who manages to locate Miss Christie. This short has a touching scene between the two characters as Christie explains exactly why she would want to be missing and how they're going to fix the situation as it stands. I recommend checking this fun 24 minute film out if you can find it.


Having been reminded of Miss Sayer's work I decided it was time to re-watch HAUNTED HONEYMOON (1940) a film that I remembered enjoying quite a bit. The credits tell me that it's not only based on one of her novels but that she and a co-writer had actually turned this into a stage play (called Busman’s Holiday) at some point. The sharpness of the dialogue and the speed of the plot certainly give that credence as the entire movie plays like one of the best Thin Man movies never made. Robert Montgomery is smooth charm personified as Lord Peter Whimsy giving every line a just enough ‘english’ to have it bounce perfectly to his co-stars. Constance Cummings is excellent as his fiance/wife capable of more than holding her own in the verbal thrust and parry. I am informed that this film has little resemblance to the play as Miss Sayers wrote it and that, sadly, Mr. Montgomery never again played the character. That’s a shame.

I really much read some of these stories!