Saturday, March 17, 2018
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
What do you get when you combine Mario Bava, Tudor Gates, the Woolner Brothers and Antonio Margheriti? You get NAKED...YOU DIE! This is a project that started out as a Woolner production to be directed by Bava but ended up eventually being made by Margheriti. According to Tim Lucas the Gates script remained intact but he faults the film for not being as well crafted a film as Bava would have directed. He may have a point but the joys of this film shine through regardless of any possible 'what ifs'.
John Hudson joins me again to dig into this Margheriti thriller - or is it a giallo? There certainly are black gloves and a number of beautiful young ladies meet an early death. There is a semi-effective police investigation and an ersatz Nancy Drew sneaking around trying to solve the murders taking place on the gorgeous, sun dappled campus of an all girl's college. There are half a dozen possible killers with a multitude of potential motives. There are secretive sexual liaisons, hidden homosexual relationships, leering criminal habits, odd exercise regimens and even some strange vanities that point toward likely guilt. So, the film has a number of the classic elements that would make this a giallo, I guess. But which of these clues are more than simply suspicious and which ones will lead to the serial murderer in the school? If you've ever watched an Italian mystery you know that just following the breadcrumbs might not get you anywhere but this one plays fair. Mostly.
Mr. Hudson and I lounge poolside with the young girls of St. Hilda's College, skulk around the Bughouse with Professor Andre, shake our fingers at the local Peeping Tom and fall in love with the wonderful character of Jill as she uses her new walkie-talkies to put herself in danger - or try to solve the crimes. Michael Rennie may be the cop in charge but it's Jill that eavesdrops her way into our hearts! We do take a couple of short unrelated side roads during this episode and I do apologize for the derision I heap on Marky Mark. I promise not to do that again! If you have any comments about the show or suggestions for future Margheriti films to cover we can be reached at email@example.com or on the Facebook page. Thank you very much for listening to the show! And don't stand so close to me.
Direct Download LINK
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Monday, March 12, 2018
In one way Black Panther continues the incredible winning streak of Marvel Studios but it is much more than that. It is, of course, a landmark superhero film because it breaks the previously stark color barrier that kept producers from making huge budget superhero films with a black lead character. You could argue that BLADE (1998) already made this leap but the level of money dedicated to that film versus BLACK PANTHER is astronomical. Also, Blade is much more of an anti-hero if, for no other reason, he is a half-vampire and not above murder. You could also point to Marvel's excellent LUKE CAGE NetFlix series as an impressive translation of black hero to the screen but in the world of entertainment Big Screen beats TV every time.
As for the film - It's very good. I loved seeing Wakanda brought to the Marvel Universe so well and the emphasis on the tribal politics was well handled. The division between those that want to bring the nation's gifts to the rest of the world and those who wish to adhere to an isolationist policy is well drawn and the arguments on both sides are shown to have merit. This film really just tells the story of how T'Challa comes to break with his ancestors' choice to stay quiet and move out into the larger world to help. It's a great tale and having it mirror our current world's conflicts brings events a certain sharpness that I appreciated.
My only complaints are the same ones I had with the second Captain America film. At times the plot mechanics are a little too obvious (Waterfall? I wonder who's going over that in the second act?) and the final act danger into which Martin Freeman's CIA agent is placed is far too artificial (Where did that window attacking plane come from?) and unnecessary. Also, the CGI fights got a little too cartoony, which is a standard problem with these action heavy films these days. But those gripes are minor in the face of such a well done film.
ALIAS NICK BEAL (1949) - 8 (Ray Milland as a devil!)
OCTAMAN (1971) - 3
GORATH (1962) - 5 (ridiculous Japanese SF - second half is tense)
ROLLERBALL (1975) - 9 (rewatch)
BUCK PRIVATES (1941) - 6 (comedy/musical/military recruitment film with Abbot & Costello)
ERIK THE CONQUEROR (1961) - 8 (rewatch)
LAST OF THE VIKINGS (1961) - 7 (rewatch)
THE WOLF HUNTERS (1949) - 4 (weak, slow Mountie tale)
THE BABYSITTER (2017) - 6 (fun comic book style horror comedy)
A CURE FOR WELLNESS (2017) - 7 (rewatch)
A CURE FOR WELLNESS (2017) - 7 (rewatch)
ALIEN COVENANT (2017) - 8 (rewatch)
CODE 7, VICTIM 5 (1964) - 5 (Euro-Spy stuff that apes DR. NO pretty well)
SECUESTRO (1976) - 6 (Naschy crime film)
THE MAN WHO HAD POWER OVER WOMEN (1970) - 6
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE FROG (1959) - 7 (rewatch on Blu)
BLACK PANTHER (2018) - 8
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Thursday, March 08, 2018
I've now watched the first three of his movies - THE MONSTER OF PHANTOM LAKE (2006), IT CAME FROM ANOTHER WORLD! (2007) and CAVE WOMEN ON MARS (2008) and I thoroughly enjoyed each of them. They show just what an inventive and very creative team of people can do with a little money and a strictly defined goal in sight. The films are set in the 1950's or - in the case of CAVE WOMEN ON MARS - as if they were made in that decade while imaging a distant future (1987!) as seen from that time. They are filmed in black & white to emulate the look of the classic 1950's movies they are striving to reproduce with an eye toward mimicking the style and quirks of those movies. But, happily, Mihm's pictures do a good job of getting the most important thing right by not taking the idea too seriously. The attitude seems to be one of doing the best possible job while keeping a slightly winking tone but never insulting the wonderful science fiction films they are imitating. There are genre in-jokes from both the 1940's and 1950's with a sprinkling of smart dialog lifts from some very recognizable hits from the 1980's as well. The scripts are slightly silly, very cheesy but also just serious enough to make fellow fans of this type of cinema glad to take the ride. Or amble, to be more accurate to the pacing of these movies.
The feel is similar to the excellent comedic productions of Larry Blamire such as THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVERA (2001) and DARK AND STORMY NIGHT (2009). Mihm's movies are operating on much more limited budgets and use a small cast of rotating actors most of whom double up by working on the productions as camera assistants, makeup people or special effects techs. This group effort seems to rub off on the films giving the entire thing a 'let's put on a show' air that makes even the occasional failed or clumsy moments all the more forgivable. These folks really are putting their hearts into these movies! Even the choice of using old library music tracks to score the films shows a cleverness. What could be seen as a cost cutting measure also evokes a sense of warm nostalgia from fans familiar with these repurposed tracks playing under new, tweaked variations on older stories.
Having now seeing some of Mihm's films I can honestly say that they are quite enjoyable. Quite. In fact I can say without any doubt that I wish I had already watched most if not all of them. They are most entertaining. Indeed!
Tuesday, March 06, 2018
When MI6's operative in Jamaica, Commander John Strangways, is killed leaving a bridge game, M (Bernard Lee) sends England's "blunt instrument" — secret agent James Bond (Sean Connery) — to the island to investigate. M mentions that the Americans seem to think that the recent toppling of many of their rocket launches from Florida are connected to something in the Jamaica area. Convinced that there's something large behind Strangways' death, Bond thinks that the commander's recent look into the business of local Chinese national Doctor No is the cause of the agent's disappearance. Strangways had made secret trips to the doctor's island of Crab Key and returned with some radioactive rock samples. Finding that the local government files on Doctor No and his private island are mysteriously missing, 007 suspects the Colonial Secretary's beautiful Chinese assistant of being involved. When an attempt on his life is made as he drives to meet her, he's convinced.
Following her trail to a local geologist and bridge partner of Strangways', Bond realizes that all clues lead to Doctor No and his island. Enlisting Quarrel, a local sailor and CIA operative, Bond sails to Crab Key to scout for information. Once there, he finds beautiful Jamaican native Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) poaching valuable seashells.
He also learns that the good doctor plays very rough. Before any message can be relayed to the authorities, they're chased into the island's interior and Bond and the girl are captured. Completely at their host's mercy, Bond realizes he has very little time before yet another American rocket is toppled. And this time No intends to salvage the warhead for his own sinister purposes.
While rarely named a favorite of fans, Dr. No is also never singled out as one of the true duds of the 56-year-old series, either. Much like the next three sequels, this one follows the outline of the original source novel pretty closely. The plot, locations, characters and flavor of Fleming's book is kept almost intact with only a few additions and deletions made that push the story into more cinematic areas. The changes made to the book are mostly cosmetic — the mined resource of Crab Key was guano, not bauxite; a deadly caterpillar native to Jamaica was used in an attempt to kill Bond, not a tarantula; Quarrel was an old cohort of Bond's specifically requested for this mission; Doctor No was not a member of SPECTRE but a (self-professed) maniac out to dominate the world; there was no messing about with radioactive power. Of course, a few moments from the book were best lost in the translation, including 007's battle to the death with a giant squid (!) and No's ignominious end beneath a huge pile of bird crap. Some changes were done to curtail nudity (damn those censors!) and speed the story along, while keeping the budget manageable, but a few of them are a bit odd. I'm still not sure why there was a need to include CIA man Felix Leiter here, when he serves absolutely no purpose. But overall this is a very good adaptation of the book, one that keeps a good deal of the tone and intent in place while introducing us to a character for the ages.
Dr. No is a great spy thriller with strong direction and many great performances. This is the film that made Sean Connery both a star and a household name, of course, and it's easy to see why. His performance is so self-assured that it's hard to imagine a more perfect actor to tackle the role. The way he moves and carries himself exudes a sense of suave style and coiled energy that fairly crackles off the screen. Connery is always believable as Bond and for this type of film, that's half the battle. If we believe the character we are willing to follow him through almost any bizarre situation. And Dr. No certainly provides its share of those.