Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tales From The Crypt (1972) - Repost

Tales From The Crypt 

Directed by Freddie Francis
Screenplay written by Milton Subotsky 
The 1972 UK filmed horror anthology Tales from the Crypt is one of my favorite examples of combining Christmas themes within a horror film. The first segment presents a not so innocent Joan Collins enduring the pursuits of a murderous man in a Santa suit. 

As horror anthologies go, this is a favorite; with many of the Hammer/Amicus film folks (on and off screen) participating in the production. The Amicus crew also followed this with 1973s Vault of Horror, another horror compendium based on EC comics. 

the trailer

the feature

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Santa Claus (1959) - Repost

Repost with updated link.

René Cardona (director of multiple Mexican wrestling, horror and exploitation movies, such as Survive!, Night of the Bloody Apes or Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy) put his spin on Christmas films with 1959s odd opus Santa Claus; which was distributed in the U.S. by K. Gordon Murray.

The visuals are bargain basement weirdness (check out Santa's bug-eyed telescope or Merlin as Santa's main man), the plot of Satan sending his lackey Pitch to irritate Santa while attempting to ruin Christmas never quite gels and off center dubbing all combine for this watchable chunk of cinematic high bizarreness.

Merry Christmas!

the trailer

the feature

MST3K Episode 521 - Santa Claus 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (1993)

The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb was originally commissioned and created as a short to be shown on BBC2 during their special Christmastime programming. Although considered too dark to air as first planned, the short won festival praise, and then additional material was shot which extended the running time to near an hour.

This was filmed with both stop-motion animation for the figures and pixilation (a technique were the actor becomes a stop-motion puppet) for the human actors. Written and directed by Dave Borthwick the plot centers on Tom Thumb, a very small boy who is snatched from his home by a nefarious genetic/government entity. During his escape, he comes into contact with strange creatures as well as other diminutive humans on his path back to his Dad.

Little English is spoken here in this surreal tale, with the soundtrack instead filled with odd grunts and sound effects. English group Startled Insects and John Paul Jones provide musical accompaniment.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Gerald McBoing-Boing (1950)

The animated short Gerald McBoing-Boing was produced by United Productions of America and released by Columbia Pictures near the end of 1950. It won that years Academy Award for Best Animated Short and years later in 1995 it would be heralded for preservation by the Library of Congress' United States National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

The short tells the story of Gerald, a youngster whose entire oral communication output consists of various sound effects but no recognizable speech. This condition proves difficult for Gerald, but he eventually overcomes and also redirects his unusual communication style into something very positive.

Originally the story appeared on a record with musical accompaniment from Billy May and was written by Dr. Seuss. Directed by Robert Cannon, the adapted short was rendered in an artistic approach that spurned the realistic style of animation that Walt Disney Studios favored at the time and instead utilized a more limited animation and stylized caricatures.

The short proved so popular that three sequels were subsequently produced: Gerald McBoing Boing's Symphony (1953), How Now Boing Boing (1954), and Gerald McBoing! Boing! on Planet Moo (1956).  A character who very closely resembles Gerald also makes a brief appearance in 1962s Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)

Everyone's favorite visually impaired cartoon character Mister Magoo takes center stage in this  animated version of Charles Dickens' timeless holiday classic A Christmas Carol. It was first aired in 1962 on NBC and was one of the earliest made-for-television animated Christmas programs, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer didn't debut until December 1964.

While Jim Backus provides the voice for Mister Magoo, there are also some Broadway style musical numbers. Additional voices are supplied by notable folk such as Morey Amsterdam, Jack Cassidy, and Royal Dano. Also of interest is the fact that much of the characters dialogue comes directly from Dickens source material and is not "dumbed down" as has become increasingly the case with television adaptions of A Christmas Carol.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Terror Train (1980)

The slasher movie Terror Train is notable for taking place almost entirely on a moving train as well as for the cast members and director.

This was Roger Spottiswoode's first movie as a director and it came immediately after his editing the two Sam Peckinpah films Straw Dogs and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Spottiswoode's next film as a director was The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper.

Jamie Lee Curtis helped cement her scream status with this role. Former rodeo champ and stuntman turned actor Ben Johnson brought a steel eyed gravitas to his role as the doomed trains conductor. Also, the films Canadian producers inserted magician David Copperfield into the film as a magician who both performs and becomes a suspect.

the trailer

the feature

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Death Ship (1980) - Repost

Repost with working trailer and feature.

I've always dug this 1980 floating haunted house movie Death Ship, directed by Alvin Rakoff as one of the many Canadian tax shelter cinematic ventures. Worthy of note is that favorite Jack Hill participated in writing the screenplay.

After their cruise ship has been rammed and sunk, a lifeboat full of survivors comes into contact with the rusting hulk of an aged freighter. Far from a rescue vessel, it's not long after everyone is on board that the ship's dark past creates terror and trouble for all.

the trailer 

the feature

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Blood Beach (1980)

"Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water - you can't get to it." 

John Saxon and Burt Young chew the scenery as frustrated detectives while beach goers increasingly get chewed up by Blood Beach. It's an enjoyable horror romp which might have benefited from a little humor/camp and continues the Jaws inspired terror at the beach theme found in other films such as Tintorera: Killer Shark (1977) or Piranha (1978). A U.S. co-production with Sir Run Run Shaw, Blood Beach was distributed by The Jerry Gross Organization and also features a score from Gil Melle (The Andromeda Strain, Night Gallery, Columbo, Killdozer). 

Director and co-writer Jeffrey Bloom was originally a professional magician but went on to extensive television work including episodes of The Dark Room series as well as other films such as Nightmares (1983) and Flowers in the Attic (1987).

the trailer

the feature

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Voivod - 1987 - Paris

opening for Kreator 
1 December 1987  
at the Rex Club 
Paris, France 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Grizzly (1976) - Repost

Repost with working links for the trailer and feature.

If you enjoy watching Christopher George chew the scenery and kick ass in his cinematic roles as much as I do, then 1976s Grizzly is worthy of at least a single viewing. Shot in Georgia and directed by William Girdler (Abby, Sheba Baby, Day of the Animals, The Manitou) Grizzly is one of several "animals on the attack" films that emerged after the blockbuster success of 1975s Jaws

the trailer

the feature

Friday, October 30, 2015

Shanks (1974)

The terms weird and strange get applied to an enormous number of films, but perhaps 1974s Shanks is truly worthy of such cliched categorization. Notable as both the last movie directed by maverick gimmick filmmaker William Castle and also as the first major movie role for world famous mime Marcel Marceau.

Marceau plays Malcolm Shanks, a master puppeteer who goes to work in a castle, toiling for a crazed but good-hearted doctor/scientist named Old Walker (also played by Marceau) who has made great advances in the reanimation of the dead. After the doctor dies, Shanks then uses the reanimated to get retribution.

The film never completely gels for me, but still manages to provide a rather unique experience for the curious viewer.

the feature

Scream of the Wolf (1974)

Written by Richard Matheson (The Night Stalker, Duel, I Am Legend) and directed by Dan Curtis (Dark Shadows, Trilogy of Terror, Burnt Offerings, The Winds of War), is 1974 made for television movie Scream of the Wolf.

A series of brutal murders are committed with evidence at the scene indicating the possible involvement of a large wolf. A retired big game hunter (played by Peter Graves) is called in to assist in hunting down the killer but gets little help from a suspicious local pro-hunter (Clint Walker). Great use is made of nighttime visits through fog shrouded forests.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Peopletoys (1974) aka Devil Times Five

A bizarre and brutal seventies horror/exploitation film, Peopletoys follows what happens when a van carrying a group of extremely disturbed youngsters crashes off an icy mountain road. The children make their way to a lodge populated by a relatively annoying assortment of wealthy and/or unpleasant folks. The family and their group welcome the little wanderers into the warm and inviting home but come to regret this decision after both the telephone and power cut out while the adults begin meeting violent ends.

Sorrell Booke is (for me) the most notable face among the cast; seen here five years prior to his blockbuster role as Boss Hogg on the Dukes of Hazzard. A very young Leif Garrett plays one of the murderous children, his sister Dawn Lyn also plays one of the youngsters, and their mother Carolyn Stellar is also among the film's cast.

Peopletoys was a work horse exploitation film and was re-released multiple times under different titles such as Devil Times Five, The Horrible House on the Hill, and Tantrums.

the trailer

the feature

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pussy Galore - Maximum Penetration compilation

Maximum Penetration is a compilation 
of clips and live performances from  
Pussy Galore 
in all their noisy, snarling, glory.

Jon Spencer (guitar, vocals) 
Julie Cafritz (guitar, vocals) 
Kurt Wolf (guitar) 
Neil Hagerty (guitar) 
Bob Bert (drums)

Pig Sweat 
White Noise 
Just Wanna Die 
Nothing Can Bring Me Down 
Biker Rock Loser 
Constant Pain 
Pussy Stomp 
NYC 1999 
Cunt Tease 
When I Get Off 
Get Out 
Pretty Fuck Look 
Trashcan Oildrum 
Die Bitch 
Kill Yourself 
No Count 
Fuck You Man / Encore 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Butthole Surfers - 1987 - Atlanta

Butthole Surfers
15 May 1987 
Rollick (formerly the 688 Club), Atlanta 
Videographer - Barry Mills

I was lucky enough to witness the Locust Abortion Technician tour when the Butthole Surfers played Chicago about a month before the show featured below. 

Over the years I have attended a lot of live shows but that one remains my all time favorite. The combination of incredible music plus the over the top visuals; such as the fog machine pushed into the red line, the heavily odd movies projected either behind the band or onto banks of fog, and the painted naked dancer with glued on facial hair, created an alchemy the likes of which was a true mind-scrambler.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

T. Rex - 1972 - Empire Pool, Wembley


T. Rex
Empire Pool, Wembley
18th March 1972

Baby Strange
Spaceball Ricochet
Cosmic Dancer
Telegram Sam
Hot Love
Get it On
Just One More
Summertime Blues
Backstage with Ringo 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Spookies (1986)

Released in 1986 as Spookies, this movie began as a feature named Twisted Souls.

In 1984 co-writers/directors Brendan Faulkner, Thomas Doran, and producer Frank M. Farel (who would next be an associate producer + actor in Street Trash) agreed to create a horror film for Michael Lee, a British film distributor, in which they followed his specific plot guidelines and then subsequently he would finance their next project. Twisted Souls was their first feature after doing some second unit directing as well as starting several horror films that were never finished.

After viewing a rough cut, that had not yet undergone post production work, Lee removed Faulkner and Doran from further involvement. He brought in Eugenie Joseph to edit some of the existing footage while also shooting a significant amount of additional footage without the original cast, but using the same location, the John Jay Estate.

Even for a low budget horror film, the results are truly mixed. According to an oral history (featured on the sadly now defunct film criticism website The Dissolve, which was also especially helpful in my writing this piece and can still be found here) with those involved with the project, much of my preferred portions of the film are elements from the original version. These include the farting mud men in the wine cellar, the spider woman, a grim reaper, little monsters, and a melting she-demon. Conversely, the newer footage is more of a laughable drag on the movie. According to The Dissolve article mentioned above, the "second director... inserted scenes of a Crypt Keeper-type sorcerer, a cat man, a half-dead bride, high schoolers dressed as zombies, and a little boy having a haunted birthday party." Also, for reasons that are never explained, the cat man has a pirate style hook for one of his arms.

Despite the low budget, many of the original special effects are worthwhile and a positive aspect of the film. The crew of young talent creating the effects included Jennifer Aspinall (she also created make-up/effects for The Toxic Avenger, Street Trash, Saturday Night Live, and MadTV), Gabe Bartalos (Leprechaun) and John Dods (known for his work on Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn, Poltergeist III, Ghostbusters II, Death Becomes Her, The Santa Clause, and The X-Files) among others. 

the trailer

the feature

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Strange Invaders (1983)

The 1983 film Strange Invaders, from writer/director Michael Laughlin, was originally intended to be the second of a "Strange" trilogy with 1981s Strange Behavior as the first in the series. Unfortunately, this movie failed to find an audience and poor ticket sales meant the third film was not to be.

I was introduced to Strange Invaders from a split review on Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert's At the Movies television show. Couldn't locate it in theaters, but rented it as soon as it appeared in my local video stores new release section.

The plot is a tribute of sorts to 1950s science fiction films, especially Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Aliens land in a rural Illinois town in the late fifties, replacing all the residents, while they slowly study the Earth in order to see what their next move will be. Fast forward to the 1980s as Paul Le Mat's wife, played by Diana Scarwid, has not returned from a trip to that rural town for her mother's funeral. Thing's escalate quickly after Paul Le Mat's harrowing trip to that town results in him uncovering the aliens secret but few others take his claims seriously.

the trailer

the feature

Strange Invaders
reviewed by
Siskel & Ebert on
At the Movies - 1983

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Fast Asleep - 2015 - Santa Cruz

 Here's new favorite
Fast Asleep
whose heavy sounds
are on display here
at a show in
Santa Cruz, California
opening for the Cro-Mags
on 17 February 2015.

Dead Race 
Pain Never Stops 
Charred Altar 
Time Theft 
Perseverance of Annihilation 
Burial Gown 
Dead Silent Stare 
Reasons of Insanity 
Not Yet 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Iron Reagan - 2015 - Brooklyn

Here's some great footage of Iron Reagan 
from their recent 2015 tour with Noisem and Angel Du$t
I lucked out and won tickets to their Boston show, 
the night before the one below in Brooklyn at Saint Vitus.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hot Resort (1985)

A hot mess, 1985s Hot Resort is a cliche filled, snobs-versus-slobs sex comedy that has no business being as entertaining as it is. Produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus during their free wheeling spree of film creation during the 1980s, Hot Resort was directed and co-scripted by John Robins. Mr. Robins has an extensive career in both film and television, but I'm most impressed by his work directing The Benny Hill Show in the 1970s as well as his scripting of the grim 1980 nautical horror film Death Ship.

The story follows four pals from New York City who have hired on for the summer at a tropical beach resort. Of course they're horny, anxious to meet girls, and they also make pals with some of the other workers, initially in response to their new boss and his drill instructor like demeanor. Amongst this cast there are several familiar faces: Bronson Pinchot, Dan Schneider (Better Off Dead..., Head of the Class), and Samm-Art Williams (Blood Simple, A Rage in Harlem). Also on hand is a visibly tired looking Frank Gorshin playing a game show winner vacationing at the resort.

Also of note is the film's musical score, a great deal of which sounds similar to the generic background music from low budget porn being made during this time period.

the feature

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Deadly Blessing (1981) - Repost

A repost, now with a functioning feature, sorry it's got Greek subtitles.

I first viewed Deadly Blessing (1981) during the onslaught of movies that were newly available to me through the wonders of vhs. While Wes Cravens' film output during this period is somewhat spotty, I've always dug this messy but atmospheric film.

After her husband is killed in a farming accident, pregnant Martha (Maren Jenson) has her two best friends (Sharon Stone and Susan Buckner) come to console her. Things quickly get creepy with a secretive Amish-like sect (which includes Ernest Borgnine and Michael Berryman) who think Martha is an "Incubus", recurring nightmares, and more unexplained deaths playing into the scenario.

the trailer
the feature 

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

The Hills Have Eyes (1977) was the first Wes Craven movie I ever saw when it aired in the Chicago area on an over the air, descrambler needed, pre-cable system called ONTV sometime in the late 70s/early80s. A bunch of the movies I caught on that system have remained favorites, such as The Wicker Man or The Children. Both on the movie poster and in the film, Michael Berryman left quite an impression as well and remains a favorite actor who brings much to all his film roles.

the trailer

the feature

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Torche - 2015 - Brooklyn

Here's Torche's entire set 
from a show this past March. 
They were delivering their unique brand 
of sonic heaviness to a receptive crowd 
at the Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, 
the night after I caught them in Boston.

26 March 2015

0:00 - Piraña
1:45 - Sandstorm
4:20 - Healer
7:05 - Minions
11:35 - Loose Men
14:08 - In Return
17:07 - Kicking
19:50 - In Pieces
23:20 - Reverse Inverted
26:48 - No Servants
30:28 - Believe It
34:22 - Sky Trials
36:26 - Across the Shields
39:34 - Vampyro
42:03 - Restarter
47:30 - Barrier Hammer
51:23 - Undone
53:05 - Blasted
56:48 - Annihilation Affair
1:01:32 - Charge of the Brown Recluse
1:04:00 - Harmonslaught

Video shot and edited by Nicolas Cusworth:

Originally posted by Heavy Blog Is Heavy

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Going to Pieces: Rise & Fall of the Slasher Film (2006)

Based on Adam Rockoff's 2002 book Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, 1978-1986, this documentary focuses primarily on horror/slasher films created in the United States and Canada during those years and into the 90s. 

Many genre stalwarts are interviewed and include: John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Sean S. Cunningham, Harry Manfredini, Tom Savini, Robert Shaye, Stan Winston, and Rob Zombie. Eminently watchable, I do wish the interviews were fuller, giving more time and depth for the subjects to expound further.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Last Days Here (2011) Pentagram doc

Last Days Here (2011) 

Fascinating documentary on 
Pentagram and lead singer
Bobby Liebling 
during a recent resurgence 
of his band.

the trailer

the documentary