Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Saturday, September 26, 2020
Hundreds of westerns were made in the 1960’s and 70’s by European filmmakers looking to cash-in on the success of Sergio Leone’s breakout hit A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964). Within that huge volume of movies are a number that rival Leone’s work and sometimes surpass his level of quality. While I’m not sure that there are more than a dozen westerns made by other Italians that are as brilliant as THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966) the ones made by another Sergio make the best case. Sergio Corbucci directed all kinds of films in his career but his first big hit was DJANGO (1966) and his follow up efforts with (and without) star Franco Nero are just as good as anything being made in the genre at the time. Set in a nearly deserted border town in a wet winter the film feels like a wallow in the muddiest spot on Earth. Caked in filth and dragging a coffin behind him Nero’s Django walks into this decaying hellhole with an agenda that will have the corpses piling up faster than graves can be dug.
Mark Maddox joins me to examine this classic Spaghetti Western from several angles. We note that its story is a variation of the plot of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and we trace that tale back to its literary origins. We talk about the rather graphic violence onscreen detailing how ahead of its time it is in the harsh, bloody actions we are shown. Franco Nero’s career is discussed as is his resemblance to one of the hosts of this podcast! The unforgettable theme song gets some attention along with some information about the impressive vocalist. Of course, many other westerns get talked about as we go with our long running argument about film rating scales nearly bringing the entire show to a halt in the final few minutes. Sorry about that!
If you have any comments or questions email@example.com is the address or you can drop us a note over on the show’s FaceBook page. We’d love to hear from you as we decide which western to tackle next. Thanks for listening!
Friday, September 25, 2020
Just a reminder that The Creeps is still publishing new horror comics issue after issue for your reading pleasure. I'm very happy that in the depths of this rough year that there are still some fine throwback items like this to make me glad to be alive. I can recommend checking out each and every issue and they can be orders at the link below.
This week Truck Records of Britain has released a vinyl single of a pretty interesting song. I'll let the owner of the company explain -
"Peter Tevis, a California singer living in Rome made a single in 1962 with Ennio Morrione, a cover version of a Woody Guthrie song. It was released in Italy and Japan. No one bought it. Three years later Ennio's chum Sergio Leone asked him to write some music for his up and coming film, A Fistful Of Dollars. So he wrote some music, Sergio Leone hated it. So, he asked for something else. Ennio played him "Pastures Of Plenty" from three years earlier. Leone loved it and said that it was the music he wanted, but without the Tevis voice. So, this is the new Trunk single. The classic Tevis single that accidentally began a new chapter in film music. Unreleased since 1962."
And if you just want to here what the song sounds like here it is on the Tube of You -
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Three groups of people are in the Caribbean at the wrong time. Group A is taking a short sightseeing tour around the islands aboard a glass-bottomed boat. Group B is a crew of professional native fishermen currently down on their monetary luck trying hard to make a big haul. Group C is a mixed bag of travelers and tourists flying to the islands on a chartered plane. When a sudden cyclone sweeps in from the Atlantic all three groups are caught far from land and suffer the consequences (of being in a disaster film). The fishermen have to abandon their sinking vessel for a small dinghy; the glass-bottomed boat runs through all of its fuel just to keep from being swept out to sea, while the plane crashes, killing most of the passengers and crew. The rescue searches begin immediately, with relatives and friends pushing for swift help to locate the missing. Over the course of a few days the three groups of survivors find each other and cluster together on the tour boat. A few fish are pulled from the ocean for food but the limited amount of fresh water soon becomes their main concern. Even with strict rationing it quickly becomes clear that rescue is going to be too late for most to live if something isn't done. When the idea of cannibalism is finally broached it's clear that it may be the only chance they have to survive long enough to be found. So, with the sun beating down on them, sharks circling the boat, a baby about to be born and no help on the horizon, what will they do?
Cyclone isn't a terrible film, although it is fairly dull for the first hour or so. The time spent introducing the players and setting up the situation is routine and slow with only some nice underwater photography to enliven things. Like most disaster films the characters are nothing more than stereotypes sketched in just enough to provide contrast with each other. There's the greedy businessman, the priest, the pregnant woman, the young boy, the stern boat captain, the over-privileged rich bitch, etc. A few of the characters are given a little bit of depth but not too much, as their primary purpose here is to suffer. It's hard to care about any of these folks even if several of the standard movie heart-tugging moments do manage to hit their marks. (I'll give up my water for the pregnant woman!) The priest (Arthur Kennedy) is the voice of moral guidance and has more than enough to say in the eventual debate over eating the dead members of the group. The pregnant couple is blandly endearing and the owner/captain of the boat is slightly interesting but mostly the group remains ciphers. It's only in the last 45 minutes that the movie really comes to life with arguments and anger finally boiling over. These scenes between people pushed to the edge by nature make the desperate quality of events start to feel real. Enough time is spent on the nastier points of how these people survive to make the grittiness seem a straightforward look at circumstances instead of just exploitation — at least most of the time. No matter how realistic or necessary the death of the rich woman's dog might be, it's never going to feel like anything more than a scene contrived to shock the audience.
This being a low budget affair there are some times when the script's reach exceeds its grasp. The storm sequence is only sporadically effective. The reality of the cyclone is pretty shakily displayed and smartly moved past as fast as possible to get to the focus of the tale. It can be hard to film effective displays of raging nature without huge amounts of money but there's no reason to complain here. They seem to have known their limitations and covered them fairly well (even if they lean on the stock footage a little too often). Only the shots of the crashed and sunken airplane really sell the sense of danger the actors are conveying. Of course, the later shark attacks are also pretty unconvincing, as it looks like the beasts are ripping into bags of paint rather than human flesh. Still, this is far from the worst the disaster genre has to offer and though it certainly isn't the best, it's worth seeing for its effective moments.
Apparently this has been released on DVD once before under its alternate U.S. title, Terror Storm. I've not seen that disc but I can't imagine it looks or sounds better than what Synapse offers here. The film is presented in 16x9 enhanced widescreen and is letterboxed at 1.78:1. The nicely effective soundtrack is the original mono processed in Dolby Digital. Showing the usual care expected from Synapse, the DVD is apparently a fully uncut version and is remastered from the original negative. The only disappointment is the lack of extras. The DVD insert has a great two-page essay by David Hayes about Cardona and Cyclone that touches on enough interesting things to make me wish for more information about the man and his trashy movies. And though there is no trailer for Cyclone they've included promos for two of Cardona's other low budget masterworks. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the great cover artwork. I don't know if this effectively gruesome piece was used as a theatrical poster but it certainly sells the film well.
Friday, September 18, 2020
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
No - Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons is not the name of a band you've never heard of before. It's the name of a Gerry Anderson produced TV series that you've (probably) never heard of before. I'm doing a slow watch of the entire original series from 1967-68 and loving every minute if it! If you are wondering what it's all about check out the two videos below.
First up is the opening titles followed by a Primer on the series from the Anderson Entertainment people.
Sunday, September 13, 2020
Joining me to talk about this bizarre mixture is Bobby Hazzard who starts things off diving deep into the Claudio Simonetti produced collection of songs that pepper this film. This was released back when a major selling point for a movie was the multi-artist soundtrack album featuring hoped for hit tunes and at times film’s the dialog is often less noticeable than the music. We argue about which song is worse and I sprinkle samples from most of them into the show. You’re welcome/I apologize!
We discuss the film’s ‘rage virus’ and how it, at times, feels a little like a dry run for 28 DAYS LATER (2002). Bobby takes great pleasure in noting the motor vehicles that this film shares with that other Florida-shot Italian-made horror film NIGHTMARE BEACH (1989) made by the same team. We lament the lack of Umberto Lenzi’s directorial touch and wonder about the song this movie shares with a certain Dario Argento film. Of course, we comment on the clothing choices and the odd hairstyles because the 80’s were a dead space for taste and this film is a document of those sad times. My favorite moment in the show is when Bobby rattles off a detailed list of every mad costume he could spot in the chaotic Halloween Party climax. Luckily this entertainingly sleazy, bloody mess moves at a good pace, making talking about it fun.
Let us know what you think about this film or our overlong conversation about it at firstname.lastname@example.org or over on the show’s FaceBook page. We’d love hear your opinion of this jumbled Italian horror mess.
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