Saturday, September 25, 2021
Friday, September 24, 2021
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Monday, September 20, 2021
Saturday, September 18, 2021
Friday, September 17, 2021
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Sunday, September 12, 2021
Last week I finally dipped my toes into the mysterious waters of the Weird Wisconsin Blu-Ray box set. To be clear, I originally had no intention of buying this career retrospective of independent filmmaker Bill Rebane simply because the one effort attached to his name that I had seen before was the abysmal MONSTER A-GO-GO (1965). Rarely has a movie deserved derisive discussion more than that failed mess. But after reading a bit I learned the odd history of the film’s convoluted production and realized that Rebane’s other work might be more interesting and less sleep inducing. I’ve purchased films for flimsier reasons.
Simply because I liked the title, I pushed play on THE DEMONS OF LUDLOW (1983) and was mildly rewarded. It tells the story of a small rural community that receives the gift of a special piano from a European benefactor. It seems that the foreigner is a member of the family that established this small town but was made to retreat to the old country for some local crime. Regardless of the dubious reasoning, on the two hundredth anniversary of its founding the mayor is proud to accept the gift with the explanation that the European family wishes to contribute something to the townspeople. As you might expect, this piano is part of a curse that serves, each time it is played, to call up vengeful dead folks to kill the descendants of the people that forced the European family to flee. Cue the carnage!
I’m not going to claim THE DEMONS OF LUDLOW is a great movie or an undiscovered classic. It’s very low budget hampers its ambitions several times and the cast is peppered with some non-actors that just can’t convincingly play most of the emotions that are required. But the movie does have something. It might be that it has a certain charm that grows from its outsized ambition or the ‘let’s put on a show’ feel of the entire affair. I found myself wanting the often teetering narrative to find its footing and get its tale told. To be honest, the film got me on its side with what I can only call its earnestness! I wanted the film to succeed and so when it firmly connected, I was happy and when it stumbled, I was more forgiving of its lapses. Even though I was constantly amused by whether the gifted musical instrument was supposed to be a piano or a harmonium I found myself overlooking the confusion about the very non-piano sounds it produced. Would it have been so difficult to dub in piano music when its being played? Or was there some larger reason for the music used? Maybe Stephen Thrower’s book included with the box set will have some information about this mystery.
There are four more Bill Rebane films in the set that I have yet to see and, mixed feelings aside, this viewing has made me eager to try them out. I’m not going to rush through them but I’m no longer dreading the experience. But I doubt I’ll ever watch the high-definition version of MONSTER A-GO-GO. That pain I do not need!
Friday, September 10, 2021
Tuesday, September 07, 2021
The film’s strong body horror elements are put under the microscope as we relate it to the public fascination with the then emergent field of organ transplantation. This leads us into dissections of several of the special effects and especially the variable quality of the miniatures. Fire gives the game away nearly every time! And then we point out the several threads the movie leaves dangling including the fate of the room of mad scientist experimental mistakes. Were they drowned in the blood flood? We may never know.
Monday, September 06, 2021
Saturday, September 04, 2021
Friday, September 03, 2021
Thursday, September 02, 2021
Monday, August 30, 2021
Also known as CREATION OF THE DAMNED the film tells the story of a small group of survivors of a possible nuclear war. These five people live in a cramped underground complex while trying to wait out the effects of radiation on the world above. The teenage son of one couple is obsessed with trying to stay in contact with the outside by shortwave radio. He lives in the hope that his girlfriend is somehow still alive but is becoming less sure of that possibility while the pair of married couples are having problems of their own. The husbands are ex-military so are using their training to maintain order but as the film begins tensions are in evidence. One wife drinks and knits while the other tries to sleep away as many hours as she can. Soon, the cracks that begin to appear in the walls of their concrete bunker aren’t the most dangerous breaks in their lives as mentally fragile people start to fracture.
REFUGE OF FEAR (1974) has a generally bad reputation which both Troy and I feel is a shame. We were drawn to see this film because it stars the wonderful Patty Shepard who, along with Craig Hill, appeared in a couple of Paul Naschy’s films. She and Hill have the most screentime and are good in their roles with the script giving them some juicy dramatic meat to chew on. The interesting script comes under discussion even as we try to not spoil the turns things take in the final act. We both feel that the director lets the film down a bit and we dig into the possible reasons for that. And we once again find a film that is richly deserving of a quality Blu-Ray release. I think this could be considered a much better film if a good print was made available.
If you have any comments on the film or anything else firstname.lastname@example.org is the address. Or we can be found lurking over at the show’s FaceBook page as well. Thanks for listening!