Thursday, February 23, 2017

Catherine Schell - Science Fiction Dream Girl

I caught up with 1969's MOON ZERO TWO the other night and found it to be pretty terrible. In fact, it's easily one of the weakest Hammer productions I have ever seen and that is saying something. I enjoyed the miniature work, the set design and the female lead, Miss Catherine Schell. Although she had a long career I remember her primarily for her featured role on the second (and last) season of the 1970's TV series Space:1999. This film proved I had not been looking at her closely enough!








See what I mean? 


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Superman #417 (1985)


While browsing the cheap boxes at a local comic shop recently I spotted this cover and had to read the story attached to this image. What ERB inspired lunacy was this going to be?

Sadly, although the first page references Burroughs's John Carter novels as well as Bradbury's Martian Chronicles and even Otis Kline's Mars books the story here is not quite as good as I hoped for. It turns out to be one of DC's legendary 'Imaginary Stories' which was their way of occasionally playing 'What If' with classic characters. In general I love these recastings of superheroes in new time periods or radically different circumstances but not all are great and this one falls into the pretty bad category.  

Prolific comic writer Elliot S. Maggin scripted this tale in which little Kal-El's rocket lands on Mars instead of Earth resulting in him being raised by a race of warmongering monsters to be a ruthless soldier named Skagerrak. His adoptive father uses his son's superhuman abilities to become the ruler of the planet and then they take aim at Earth for conquest. The expected reversal of position for our Last Son of Krypton is handled in laughable fashion with Kal/Skagerrak masquerading for about fifteen minutes as a storefront Santa Claus, witnessing kindness for (supposedly) the first time and then turning on his people and their way of life. It's as dumb as you just imagined.


Did I mention that the classic S symbol is retained here but used as the crest for Skagerrak's father? As I said - dumb.

The issue's one saving grace is the excellent artwork by the great penciler Curt Swan. Swan is easily one of the best Superman artists of all time and was always able to make even the lamest story palatable through sheer talent. Without his work this would have been a complete embarrassment instead of a barely tolerable waste of an interesting idea. 




Friday, February 17, 2017

The Bloody Pit #50 - GODZILLA VS KING GHIDORAH (1991)


Until now we have danced around the 1990's Godzilla films in our series of shows focused on Kaiju films but we have only briefly discussed them. That is over!

Closing out our Ghidorah Files series we come to 1991's GODZILLA VS KING GHIDORAH and it is a joyous time. The Heisei films are special to both Troy and myself for several reasons. I explain my discovery of this movie through the VHS gray market and the awakening of Big G love it inspired. Luckily this film and the entire seven film Heisei Godzilla series is now available on Blu-Ray so you no longer have to take the dark path of underground dupes and sleazy bootleggers. Unless you want to, that is.

As you might expect, this film sports some amazing monster battle action with locations in both the countryside and among the modern skyscrapers of Tokyo getting the worst of these two creature's destructive power. But the movie also has some great human characters that lead us through the often complicated time travel storyline and add some texture to the villainy. Of course, the 1990's Godzilla films had much worse luck with casting Caucasian actors than they did in the 1960's so we also have some pretty terrible acting in a few scenes. Nick Adams, oh, how we miss you!

So join us as we talk about this incredibly fun science fiction monster adventure. We touch on the controversy about the film's supposedly anti-American sequences as well as obvious TERMINATOR steals and the towering brilliance of Akira Ifukube's score. We also discuss the just below the surface metaphors and often hidden societal commentary with which the movie is laced. And then, courtesy of writer Keith Aiken's excellent article entitled GODZILLA VS KING GHIDORAH: Time Travel and the Origins of Godzilla we dig into the timeline of the Heisei films and talk about just how many Big G's there were!

Thank you for downloading and listening to us tackle this film. If you want to let us know what you think aboutthe podcast, this movie or any other film you can contact us at thebloodypit@gmail.con or over on The Bloody Pit's FaceBook page. As we say near the end of this show we are casting about for ideas on what movies to cover in the near future and would love to hear your opinion. 




Thursday, February 16, 2017

DC Comics Hostess Ads











DC even had some of their more colorful villains get in on the snack cake action! 


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

CIMARRON (1931)


The other night I popped in my DVD of this classic RKO western more out of curiosity than real desire. I had picked up the disc recently for $3 and felt that it was worth that price just to see another Richard Dix film. I've become a fan of Mr. Dix in the last few years even if I often find his mannered form of acting much more suited to the stage or the silent screen than to sound films. But though I think Dix sometimes seems as if he's posing for a still photo or projecting to the back rows there is something compelling about his screen presence that keeps my eyes glued to him. It helps that the 1930's movies I've seen him in have been surprising in some ways with 1935's THE TUNNEL a.k.a. TRANSATLANTIC TUNNEL being a great science fiction tale that treats it's fantastic subject seriously. Dix sells every minute of the story and makes the drama (or melodrama) work even when it shouldn't.


CIMARRON (1931) marked the only time Dix was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and it's clear that (my complaints about early sounds screen acting to the side) he earned the good notices. He plays 19th century adventurer Yancey Cravat, a man determined to be present to see the American empire stretch west. The film starts with the Oklahoma land rush of 1889 which prompts thousands to travel to the Oklahoma Territory to grab free government land. Cravat tries his hand at this but is bested by a woman who uses his kind nature against him to lay claim to the parcel he had his eye on. Refusing to let this distress him he moves his wife and son to the boom town of Osage that has sprung up out of the Oklahoma prairie. There Yancey establishes the Osage Wigwam, a weekly newspaper, and uses it to turn the raucous frontier camp into a respectable town.

The film covers more than forty years in the life of Yancey and, more to the point, his long suffering wife Sabra played by the fantastic (and also Academy Award nominated) Irene Dunne. Numerous times over those forty years her husband leaves her and the children behind to see the next new exciting expansion of the country to the west. Sabra shows herself to be a brilliant businesswoman keeping the newspaper going and growing while raising the family and eventually running for elected office. In the end, she is really the hero of the tale even if the film has Yancey pop in on occasion to challenge her to be more open and civic minded. I guess in the 1930's we just couldn't have those ladies getting it in their heads that they knew everything, huh? Regardless, Miss Dunne is fantastic and deserved her Award nomination just as much as Dix did. In fact, she had the harder job as she never had the chance to be as bombastically over-the-top as her co-star is allowed to be in certain scenes.

Although I'm partial to film from the 30's and 40's I'll admit that I was not expecting to like this film very much. I know it's silly but I've developed an aversion to movies that come to me sporting Academy Award nominations and CIMARRON had seven - three of which it won! I'm glad I ignored these accolades and gave it a try because it was one of the quickest two hours I've had watching movies in 2017. I heartily recommend this film to the curious film fan wondering what a pre-code epic about American history might look like. I think you'll be entertained! 




Monday, February 13, 2017

Marvel Hostess Ads!











Back when Marvel's superheroes sold snack cakes! 


Saturday, February 11, 2017

What I Watched in January


I was extremely reluctant to go see the first UNDERWORLD film in 2003. Judging by it's trailer the film smacked of silliness and stupidity wrapped in stylistic excess, but my girlfriend wanted to go so I went. To this day I'm thankful for her insistence because I loved the first film and it's entire universe of vampires and werewolves locked in an ancient war for dominance. Overly stylized? Yes. Blue tinted? Yes. More action film than horror story? Yes. But it worked on me and, to my greater surprise, so did the sequels. Call me a fanboy, I guess.

But now we have the fifth film in the series and I have to report that they have finally  disappointed me. For the first time I didn't get caught up in the story and I wasn't dazzled by the fight scenes. I didn't even give a damn what happened past a certain point. UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS is a dud.

Kate Beckinsale returns as Selene, the vampire warrior currently on the run from both her own kind and the Lycan race. Her daughter Eve from the previous film is quickly written out of the narrative other than as a McGuffin driving part of the story. Things hold together pretty well until about the halfway point when the double and triple crosses of the vampire elders becomes tedious and the Lycan threat begins to feel like where the film should have focused it's energy. As the film creeps along I found myself less and less interested in the events onscreen, merely hoping for things to wrap up already. That's right - for the first time an Underworld film bored me. It might be time to retire the franchise and move on.


It must be my month for films with colons in the their titles because I also went to the second run theater and caught OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL. Checking this film out in the theater marks a first for me as I have never watched a prequel movie without having seen the original beforehand. I feared I would be missing vital information necessary to enjoy the story but two things pushed me to see it -  good word of mouth and the fact that it was made by director Mike Flanagan. Flanagan has proven himself to be a solid crafter of horror films in the past few years with ABSENTIA, OCULUS and HUSH all being well done, suspenseful exercises in the genre. I'm glad I chose to see this one too as it once again proves this fellow has the skills to build a career to be admired.

The film takes place in 1967 Los Angeles where a widowed woman and her two girls work a fortune telling scam to earn a living. When the eldest daughter suggests incorporating a Ouija board into their séances the mother agrees but then unknowingly contacts a spirit that takes possession of the younger daughter when she foolishly uses the board alone.

At first the spirit seems benevolent helping the family by revealing a cache of hidden money in the basement and turning their fake medium act into the real thing. But after the young girl is seen to be writing a lengthy document in a language she doesn't know the local priest is asked to intervene. Eventually they learn the dark secret of the family's house, who the possessing spirit really is and why using a Ouija board was a bad idea to begin with. The film is creepy, well paced, scary and very well done on every level. I guess I should see the first film to find out if it measures up to this excellent prequel.

THE LIST

GIRL MISSING (1933) -6 (fast and funny mystery with the great Glenda Farrell)
MISTER SUPERINVISIBLE (1970) - 4
THE CAREY TREATMENT (1972)- 8 (James Coburn as a murder solving doctor)
UNDERWORLD AWAKENING (2012) -7 (rewatch)
UNDERWORLD BLOOD WAR (2017)- 5
THE SHINING (1980) - 9 (rewatch)
ROOM 237 (2012) - 7 (rewatch)
RUN OF THE ARROW (1957)- 8 (Sam Fuller western)
THE DEVIL MAKES THREE (1953)- 7 (Gene Kelly in post-war Germany drama)
THE PHANTOM PLANET (1961) - 4 (rewatch in colorized form)
HEAVENLY BODIES (1984)- 5 (cheesy, silly and obvious aerobics drama that somehow works)
BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE (2016) - 8 (excellent animated adaptation)
STUNTS (1977) - 6 (pretty good on-set mystery)
THE NAKED FACE (1984)- 7 (mystery thriller with Roger Moore)
RESIDENT EVIL RETRIBUTION (2012) - 7 (rewatch)
THE LAST FRONTIER (1955) -6 (Anthony Mann western)
HAWK OF POWDER RIVER (1948) - 4 (standard B-western staring Eddie Dean)
OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL (2016) - 7 (prequel is solid - guess I need to see the first film)
THE EVIL MIND (1935) - 7 (a.k.a. THE CLAIRVOYANT)
INQUISITION (1976) - 8 (rewatch)
THE TERRIBLE PEOPLE (1960) - 7 (West German crime film based on an Edgar Wallace novel)