Wow. I had no idea until today that there had been so many Bond board games made over the years. I've never even seen one of these outside of pictures on the internet. Wow.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Monday, July 27, 2015
This may cause me ridicule for years to come and my Film Reviewer's licence might be revoked but I must confess - I love EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC!
There! I've said it! I love EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC. A lot. I think it is brilliant and I often look forward to rewatching it for weeks at a stretch before finally allowing myself the two hour indulgence that is EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC. I'm a fan! Really! I'm not kidding. I'm not in the Pauline Kael camp claiming it to be better that the original film but I can stand with Kim Newman who said "Exorcist II doesn't work in all sorts of ways... However, like Ennio Morricone's mix of tribal and liturgical music, it does manage to be very interesting." And it IS very interesting which may be why I find it so damned fascinating.
Am I alone here in the wide wonderful world of blogger-dom? Are there any other fans of this movie? Although it is often listed as one of the worst films of all time surely there are others who find it as mesmerising as I.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
July the 27th of this year would have been Gary's 77th birthday. As someone who spent many hours of imaginative fun playing the games he brought to the world I want to take a moment to remember him and his accomplishments. The above adventures are some of the favorites from my youth and I can still remember those afternoons and long nights, the battles waged, the mysteries solved and the thrills experienced. Thank you Mr. Gygax!
Friday, July 24, 2015
Thursday, July 23, 2015
If you're a comic book fan and are unaware of the great site Super-Team Family The Lost Issues you should check it out. Each day they post a new cover from a wished for but impossible team-up comic. If only some of these could come to pass they would make history!
Sunday, July 19, 2015
The NaschyCast returns with a French produced gem from the 1970's. Paul Naschy's role in this action adventure is pretty small but the film is well worth seeing for the rest of the cast and the fun story. DOCTOR JUSTICE is based on a series of French comic books that were very popular at the time about Dr. Benjamin Justice. He is a humanitarian doctor that works for the World Health Organization tackling medical problems all over the globe but that's not all. He is also an expert in judo (6th dan), ju-jitsu, karaté and is in the top physical condition of a conditioned athlete. In this film he is played by the great John Phillip Law as an incredibly unflappable, optimistic force for all that is right and good (justice, no?) with a will to put every bit of his abilities in the service of bringing criminals to heel. In this case the (very) good Doctor is up against some very clever oil thieves who have found a way to highjack an entire tanker of the black gold while the ship is still in transit - and without the crew even knowing the oil is gone! These criminals are lead by Gert Fröbe who will be instantly recognizable as Auric Goldfinger from the Bond film, of course but the rest of the bad guys a prove to be of interest as well including a martial arts expert that makes the numerous fight scenes very entertaining.
Friday, July 17, 2015
The great (and award winning) video series The Fantastic Films of Vincent Price by modern Horror Host (from Nashville, natch!) Dr. Gangrene takes a brief detour into some of the odder ephemeria of Price's career. Now where is that piece on making shrunken heads from apples?
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Last month saw me slow down a bit on theater visits. The best was the first when I took in TOMORROWLAND, the latest from director Brad Bird best known for his excellent animated features THE IRON GIANT and THE INCREDIBLES. So far Mr. Bird shows a marked talent in live action filmmaking as well with the best Tom Cruise Mission Impossible under his belt and now this wonderful effort. I always have my suspicions aroused whenever Disney decides to turn one of their amusement park attractions into a film as it smacks of boardroom synergy BS rather than the desire to tell a good story. So I went to see this one with a fair amount of trepidation and found myself shocked at how much I enjoyed it. This film feels like an old fashioned Disney movie from the 1950's and 60's - and I know that by telling you that I have just lost a fair percentage of you but please let me explain. There used to be an entire sub-genre of family friendly movies that Disney pioneered that were very well made, tightly scripted and fun in ways that made them perfect for kids but not insulting to adults. This kind of cinema is pretty much the norm for animated features these days where the idea is to get the whole family in the theater instead of crafting flicks for the Saturday matinees. But the appeal of this type of tale in live action has been forgotten or, more accurately, relegated to cheap TV productions done for - ah ha! - the Disney channel.
TOMORROWLAND is a throwback to the days when real budgets and excellent ideas were used to craft movies that the entire family could enjoy without the winks and nods to the adults in the audience. This movie is for everyone and is all the better for attempting to bring back the real Disney family film of old. I've read shallow criticisms of the film that hinge on the things that the film doesn't have such as a romantic subplot (why would you need one in every damned story?) or that it doesn't have a conventional villain (good intentions gone catastrophically wrong are not interesting?) and I find it all pathetic. TOMORROWLAND is an unabashed anti-cynical, optimistic blast of pulse-quickening futuristic fun with a glorious heartfelt message at its core - turn away from the darker parts of yourself and work toward a better tomorrow or there will be no better tomorrow. To have communicated that idea while firing laser guns, fighting robots and flying around on jetpacks is quite an accomplishment, in my book anyway.
On the darker end of the futuristic spectrum comes EX MACHINA which is being called one of the best of the year. I walked out of the theater thinking this film was a solid effort that just didn't connect with me. I was impressed with everything about it on a technical level but I felt detached and distant from everything that happened. I was able be interested in what was being said and done onscreen but there was no emotional connection for me. But over the next few days I found myself unable to stop thinking about EX MACHINA and the ideas it examines about human nature, sexuality, power and our inability to understand what it is that makes us real to others. The more time that has passed since I watched the film the more it has been on my mind so I know I'm going to have to see it again soon. I suspect that a second viewing may make me more aware of what is making the film stay in my head and might make me think better of it overall. And by the way - Oscar Issacs is an amazing actor!
JURASSIC WORLD is nothing more or less than remake of
which was a remake of WESTWORLD and
may well have had a preceding film or book I am unaware of that Michael
Crichton drew inspiration from way back when. In my opinion the further you get
from the original the more clever you have to be to create something memorable
and unfortunately the makers of this film are not very clever. Oh, they're
clever in the special effects field creating all manner of new dinosaur
experiences and monsters and creatures but it is the same damned story. Again!
Yes, Chris Pratt is charming and Bryce Dallas Howard is gorgeous and Vincent
D'Onofrio is wonderfully villainous but it is still the exact same story told
back in 1993 and 1973. The same. Only with cooler special effects and, to be
blunt, dumber shock moments. I mean, Hell - I thought the idiotic T-Rex inside
the building ending of JP was stupid but the finale of this film throws
believability into the fish tank for the same kind of 'cool' moment that finishes
breaking the film for me. Not that the movie had been handling the spatial
relations between humans and dinosaurs very well for a while at that point but
it's as if they gave up trying. But its made over half a billion dollars
worldwide so what do I know - other than there will be another Jurassic film in
about two years probably telling the same story again. JURASSIC PARK
OMEN IV: THE AWAKENING (1991)- 3 (and it limps into the 90's)
LONG LIVE ROBIN HOOD (a.k.a. ARCHER OF FIRE) (1971)- 7
THE RAID 2 (20) - 9 (rewatch)
WORLD GONE WILD (1988)- 4 (terrible post apocalyptic tale but it has its charms)
TOMORROWLAND (2015)- 9
HELL'S ANGELS ON WHEELS (1967)- 6
BLACK BELT JONES (1974)- 7
THE DEVIL SHIP PIRATES (1963)- 7 (rewatch) (Chris Lee as a pirate!)
TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER (1976)- 7 (rewatch)
ANNA (2014)- 8 (well done, slightly SF mystery)
ENDGAME (1983)- 6 (Italian post apocalyptic action)
EX MACHINA (2015) - 7 (interesting but overly detached and cold)
GODZILLA, MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORA: GIANT MONSTERS ALL OUT ATTACK (2001)- 9 (rewatch)
KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2015)- 10 (rewatch)
WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966)- 8 (wow!)
THE WOMAN THEY ALMOST LYNCHED (1953)- 6 (Republic western)
SUNSET (1988) - 5 (missed opportunity)
SHADOW OF THE CAT (1961)- 7 (excellent murder story from Hammer)
JURASSIC WORLD (2015)- 5
TARZAN AND THE SLAVE GIRL (1950)- 7 (Lex Barker is a very good tarzan)
Thursday, July 09, 2015
After a short delay John Hudson and I finally sit down to discuss two of director Antonio Margheriti's scary films. This time out we delve into his Gothic Horror output with the Barbara Steele featuring CASTLE OF BLOOD (1964) and Margheriti's remake of that film WEB OF THE SPIDER (1971). Yes, you read that correctly - much like about a dozen other filmmakers Margheriti remade his own film and in this case seems to have used the same script. And the same score too! But since the score is by Riz Ortolani that might be considered a mark of brilliance instead of a cost cutting measure. There are some striking differences though starting with the fact that the first film was made in glorious, shadow-filled black & white while the remake was filmed in color. Does this visual choice end up making or breaking the story?
As you might expect when discussing two separate but very similar films we speak about the points of departure the later film makes from the first incarnation while trying to determine which is a better version of this ghostly tale. There is much to discuss when comparing the legendary Barbara Steele to the beautiful blonde lady that took on her role seven years later. It turns out that French actress Michèle Mercier had quite an interesting career and serving as a replacement for a horror icon might have been a step down for her. In another casting coup, WEB OF THE SPIDER also has the amazing Klaus Kinski adding his thespian skills in a small but pivotal role as Edgar Allan Poe. Yeah- no matter which version you watch this is an interesting story.
If you have any comments or suggestions for future podcasts you can drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll take your thoughts under advisement. Mr. Hudson and I will be continuing our trip through Margheriti-ville soon by dipping into his westerns so we hope you'll come back for that. Thank you so much for downloading and listening.
Wednesday, July 08, 2015
I just watched my first episode of this classic television western and really enjoyed it. It was a well written and performed show with star Steve McQueen showing great screen charm and a deft ability to turn a line of dialog into something more interesting than it actually had to be.
My enjoyment might have been heightened (OK- it obviously WAS) because completely by chance the first episode I ever see stars the great Lon Chaney Jr. as a sheriff and Star Trek's Dr. McCoy Deforest Kelley as a mystery character. I really lucked out! If you want to see it for yourself it's titled The Empty Cell and is well worth the 25 minutes if you're a fan of the actors or TV westerns in general.
Tuesday, July 07, 2015
For those that were around for the experience 1989 was a strange year for science fiction movie fans. That was the year we got three high profile underwater monster films released all within a few months of each other. This was back in the heady days of producers trying to rush similar films into production to piggyback on the predicted success of a big budget movie that was in the public consciousness. That's how 1982 saw THE SWORD & THE SORCERER in theaters before the highly anticipated CONAN THE BARBARIAN. Well, in cinema the rip-off dollar is a very good dollar so the news of hit maker James Cameron's new project called THE ABYSS sent other studios into a frenzy to find a comparable script and so we got Sean Cunningham's miserable DEEPSTAR SIX as well as this low rent effort.
On the surface LEVIATHAN has everything going for it. It has a decent budget, a talented cast, a tried-and-true plotline and a director coming off a huge hit. Sadly, the one thing they forgot was to locate a good script instead of just any old pile of papers. This film has many faults but almost all of them can be traced back to that sad-ass script. The story is nothing but a transparent combination of chunks of ALIEN and a measure of Carpenter's THE THING mixed with a dash of ...... not much. The film can be summed up (as it is on the IMDb) this way - " Underwater deep-sea miners encounter a Soviet wreck and bring back a dangerous cargo to their base on the ocean floor with horrifying results. The crew of the mining base must fight to survive against a genetic mutation that hunts them down one by one. " In other words, its 'ALIEN meets THE THING underwater' and I'm sure that was how it was sold to the money people to convince them it was going to be a hit in the year of Cameron's CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE OCEANIC KIND. It wasn't, making about $15 million which did not return a lot to the investors I'm sure.
When I mentioned before that the director (George P. Cosmotos) was coming off a big hit it should be clarified that the film in question was actually made four years before this - RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II (1985) and isn't exactly a cinema classic. In fact, it is one of the dumbest action films of the 1980's but it WAS a huge hit, which is something that you couldn't say about his next film COBRA (1986). Yeah - two shitty Sly Stallone movies in a row with rumors that the star/writer was the real director on both occasions. And knowing the fact that Stallone had COBRA edited down to his less-than-ninety-minutes specifications it would appear that Cosmotos might have been a name hired to fill a slot for some reason other than his skill behind the camera. Hell- the man supposedly didn't even direct the western
TOMBSTONE (1993) from
what I've read with star Kurt Russell reportedly stepping in to get the moviefinished.