Monday, March 31, 2014

Stephen King Week: Silver Bullet

Howdy King fans and welcome to Day 1 of Stephen King Week.  I thought I would ease us into the terror with an adaptation of a novella involving a small town in Maine (THE TERROR STATE OF AMERICA!!!!).  Yes, according to the disturbing corridors of Stephen King's mind, all of Maine has these pockets of immense evil.  The real estate market must be hell to move any newcomers in.  Getting back to Tarker's Mills, Maine a quaint little town of close knit community has suddenly be barraged with a series of murders and only two kids and their zany uncle know the score.  This is Silver Bullet.

Heads up!!!
Uncle Red: I mean uh, what the heck you gonna shoot with a .44 bullet at anyway...made out of spoiler?
Mac: How about a werewolf?

This is the story of not of love but a series of unsolved murders and two sibling children coming to terms with one another.  Jane Coslaw (Megan Follows of Boys and Girls, Domestic Life, Anne of Green Gables, Longmire and Reign) narrates our film as she tells us of a summer of excitement, disappointment, bonding and terror.  She views her parents coddle her handicapped brother Marty (Corey Haim of Murphy's Romance, Lucas, The Lost Boys, Watchers, Fast Getaway and Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star) and is deemed the favorite so she and Marty are typical in squabbling and snark at one another.  Living in Tarker's Mills is pretty average town but then people start having accidents and then the sheriff (Terry O' Quinn of Stepfather, The Rocketeer, Wild Card, The Good Fight, Earth 2, Millennium and Lost) concludes some of these deaths could be murder of a most grisly manner.

Little pig, little pig, sizzle in my pan.

Marty's bestest bud stays out past fly a kite?  I kinda figured it would be drinking some swiped hooch off of Dad's liquor cabinet or toking some weed but okay...a kite.  Flying said kite he is stalked from 360 degrees and handheld zoomed to death, mauled with a paw.  Our local gun toting, liquor drinking chugs feel the cops aren't doing enough and they will take the law in their own hands...assuming they have evolved enough to have thumbs.   The town reverend, Lester Lowe (Everett McGill of Quest for Fire,Twin Peaks, Heartbreak Ridge, The Peope Under the Stairs, Under Seige 2: Dark Territory and My Fellow Americans) tries his level best to get the mob to cease, desist and go home to reflect on how wrong this is.  They ignore their pastor and head out into the woods where several of these good old boys meet a gruesome end.
Curfew in town the annual fireworks show is cancelled so the kids are bummed.  Fortunately their kooky former Vietnam Vet uncle, Red (Gary Busey of A Star is Born, The Buddy Holly Story, Lethal Weapon, Predator 2, Point Break and Piranha 3DD) give the kids some explosives and built Marty motorcycle/wheelchair they dubbed "Silver Bullet"

Our brother and sister team start to put the clues together that these murders could not be the work of a madman but a monstrous creature of legend, a werewolf.   The two work together to smoke out the creature before any more murders happen.

I had a few observations on some goofs I noticed.  this story is supposed to take place in 1976 and yet I saw Diet Coke cans, vehicles clearly from the 80s and the bloody newspaper was dated 1980 so I had a few snickers on this one but the biggest goof was Reggie Jackson's Angels poster in Marty's bedroom.  Reggie didn't join the Angels until 1982.   So with period pieces you need to cover that a bit better with your background.  Not the nastiest werewolf film but a decent story, memorable characters and a good gore tone is established.

Stay back Grandma and NO I DO NOT WANT TO RUB YOUR CORNS!!!

Stephen King Week

Howdy all and welcome back to the menagerie of merriment that is Rotten Reelz Reviews.  This week I thought we would tackle some horror films and I felt a decent source of material would be Horror writer novelist Stephen King (The Running Man, Cujo, Misery, Christine and Cycle of the Werewolf) and his various adapted novels to film.  Some of these flicks have chilled your soul, made you break out into cold sweats and some have been It.  Well you cannot expect gold every time and you will have to sift through the prairie apples to find the buried treasure.

The beautiful boy tempted me I tell you!!!

We will look into the various directors that worked with King and tried to stay in the same mindset as well as the budget. With certain film makers, bonding with King was easy as pie.  For others, it was a veritable nightmares as egos clashed.   Here's hoping for a fun time and I know some of you King fans have been asking me this for a while so here it is.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Dirty Harry Week: Sudden Impact

Hey there folks and welcome to Day 4 of the Dirty Harry Week.  We are finishing up here because my copy of The Dead Pool VHS died horribly in a move 9 years previously.  I would much rather catch up with Callahan and his ability to attract danger and craziness all the while solving what appears to be random homicides.  This time around Eastwood is beyond and in front of the camera which sounds like a complicated adult film maneuver but he is directing as well as acting.  This is Sudden Impact.

This is my "You've really stepped in it" face.

Chief Lester Jannings: So you're the famous Harry Callahan. So I'm going to tell you two things. We don't have any spoilers in this town and we don't need any from you. Got it?
Harry Callahan: Aye-aye, sir.

Callahan is getting razed by a judge due to yet another unreasonable search and seizure and the little pukes get to walk.  They snark on Callahan in the elevator and Harry sets them straight by terrifying them with size and snarl.   No sooner is he back on the streets he interrupts a robbery at his favorite diner by smoking three of the four scumbags and tells the surviving punk to make his day.  The smart lad drops his pistol and gives up.  Disrupting a stakeout of an alleged crime boss Threlkis at his granddaughter's wedding, the slime finds out he actually has a heart as it fails on him and he vapor locks.  Couldn't happen to a nicer guy in this writer's opinion and Harry agrees.

Difference of opinions.

Callahan's superiors are teed off at the actions of the inspector leading to this heart attack and  grumble at his methods demanding Harry takes a vacation rather than they suspend him.
No sooner is Harry on vacation that four of Threlkis's men try to ambush him leading to three of them having holes inside them the size of cantaloupe and one managed to escape.  Lt. Donnelly (Michael Currie of Dark Shadows, Soap, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, The Dead Pool and Dying Time) gives Harry an assignment to San Paulo where a previous homicide used to live so Harry is to do some background checking and then report back.  Meanwhile in San Paulo a similiar homicide that occured in San Francisco happens.  Harry digs deeper in spite of Chief Jennings (Pat Hingle of Invitation to a Gunfighter, Hang 'Em High, Nightmare Honeymoon, Batman and Batman Returns) grumblings.
Harry starts to fall for an artist with a dark past, Jennifer (Sondra Locke of The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Gauntlet, Every Which Way But Loose, Bronco Billy and Any Which Way You Can) but the clock is ticking as the homicides keep piling up in this small town.  I think Death and Harry have an agreement or understanding.

I had just some fun trivia on the movie.  This would be the eleventh movie Eastwood directed and the only Dirty Harry Movie Eastwood directed.  Furthermore, this is the first Dirty Harry film that Harry does not have a partner backing him up and still remains the highest-grossing of the Dirty Harry franchise.

I use this one for bears and kids blaring their hip hop.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

#425!!!! Dirty Harry Week: The Enforcer

Hello you Harry fans and welcome to Day 3 of Dirty Harry Week.  Our installment this time around deals with hostages, militants and lots of military hardware.  With two sects of revolutionaries harassing the good citizens of San Francisco, it's up to Inspector Callahan to wage in and cash these punks out.  This is The Enforcer.

Harry, slow down . I'm in heels for crying out loud.
Harry Callahan: Here's a seven-point suppository, Captain.
Capt McKay: What did you say?
Harry Callahan: I said stick it in your spoiler.

Marin County lose a few gas company men as they are lured away from their route by a little blonde with great legs, Miki (Jocelyn Jones of  The Other Side of the Mountain,The Great Texas Dynamite Chase, Fun and Games and Nowhere to Run) who assists her psycho former Vietnam Vet boyfriend and all around thug Bobby (DeVeren Bookwalter of The Omega Man, Cover Girls, Manhole, Evita Peron and Richard II).  Bobby's crew calls themselves the People's Revolutionary Strike Force (which makes a really crappy acronym) who plan to use the van and uniforms for a heist.

Callahan and DiGiorgio (John Mitchum of Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Telefon and The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains) are on the scene of a liquor store robbery gone bad and they have hostages.  They demand a fast car with a police radio before they give up any hostages.  Callahan drives his squad car through a plate glass window and ventilates the perps thus saving the day.   Callahan's uptight wank of a Captain chews Callahan's butt for the damage to the store and the injury of the hostages from flying glass sending Harry to Personnel.

Typical Tuesday in San Fran.

DiGiorgio is wounded stumbling on the PRSF's weapons heist, including LAW rockets and M-16s and Harry is assigned to the case along with a new female inspector Kate Moore (Tyne Daly of Cagney & Lacey, The Last to Go, Face of a Stranger, Christy, Bye Bye Birdie and The Autumn Heart).  Working the streets, Harry sits in with a black militant group Uhuru, our former Vietnam Vet was associated with and the leader of the group tells Harry what he needs to know and pretty much establishes to get that psycho off the street before he sees black and white squaddies in his neighborhood.

Harry and Kate are in hot pursuit now but can they find these lunatics before all hell breaks loose?
I had a quick couple of observations on the film now.  The two militant organizations are clearly based off of the Symbionese Liberation Army (the folks that brainwashed Patty Hearst) and the Black Panther Party but for obvious reasons they did not use either real named parties.

The Enforcer cleared over $60 million stateside and another $120 million overseas making this one of the most grossing Eastwood movies of its time.  The biggest SNAFU of this movie was a lawsuit aimed at Eastwood for the title The Enforcer.  Writer Bretaigne Windust (June Bride, The Pied Piper of Hamelin and Winter Meeting) was annoyed his title ending up as Eastwood's working title and Eastwood simply stated that is where the inspiration came from.  Warner Brothers produced both films of course and the case was dismissed.

We don't dig the establishment, man!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dirty Harry Week: Magnum Force

Welcome back to Day 2 of Dirty Harry Week.  Today is one of my personal favorites out of the batch.  Homicides are piling up in the old town of San Francisco, which is nothing new but this time around the victims may all have something in common and it is up to Harry to figure out what is going on and how to stop it.  This is Magnum Force.

Scram Mormons!!!
Harry Callahan:  The rest of you could shoot like them, I wouldn't care if the whole damn department was spoiler.

Mobster Ricca gets acquitted due to a technicality in the case and is off on the road when a traffic cop pulls him over.  No sooner is he done looking at the driver's ID he comes back and wastes all three men in the car at point blank range.

Inspector Callahan and his partner Early Smith (Felton Perry of The Towering Inferno, Sudden Death, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Robocop and Robocop 2) have been lifted from Homicide to a stake out duty on a kingpin when their Lieutenant, Neil Briggs (Hal Holbrook of All the President's Men, Lincoln, Midway, The Fog and The Bachelor) has Ricca and crew's homicides looked into and Harry is just the man to stick the job with.   Early and Harry look over the Lincoln and get the ballistics and corner reports while an house party of a known scumbag gets gunned down, guests and all.

Doing anything tonight, bright eyes?

As Callahan and Smith pursue the case, a known pimp is also smoked like turkey at close range but Harry notices the pimp's cash is available like a bribe to a traffic cop.  Later that day Callahan meets four rookie traffic cops with impeccable aim at the gun range.  Turns out all four men are former Airborne Rangers and chose to carry the good fight on in civvie life via police.

I had just a few comments to make about this film.  This is the second of the Dirty Harry series as was directed by Ted Post (Gunsmoke, Rawhide, Hang 'Em High, Peyton Place and Beneath the Planet of the Apes).  Our four rookies are played by David Soul (Here Come the Brides, Starsky and Hutch, Salem's Lot and Tides of War) Tim Matheson (Animal House, 1941, Fletch, Cannonball Fever, Trial & Error and Burn Notice) Kip Niven (Earthquake, Damnation Alley, New Year's Evil and The Painting), who I didn't immediately recognize and lastly but certainly not least Robert Urich (SWAT, Vegas, Spencer: For Hire and Night of the Wolf).

 With a fast pace, disturbing content and a bit of nudity this hard hitting action film pushed boundaries and make us root for Harry yet again.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dirty Harry Week: Dirty Harry

Hey kids and welcome to Day 1 of Dirty Harry Week.  The saga of Inspector Callahan and his Smith and Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum.  Personally anything over a .357 Python seems to be a bit much but hey this cat can one hand it so more power to him.  A different breed of cop is needed for the streets of the 1970's.  One that has the stomach to dish it out as much as he takes.  So hand me that oil, prep me some hollow points and cover your ears.  This is Dirty Harry.

De Georgio: Morning, Harry.
Morning, fatso. Spoiler wants to see you.
De Georgio: You are a sweet man, Harry.

A serial killer roams the street of San Francisco and prowls its rooftops with a sniper rifle.  He calls himself Scorpio (Andrew Robinson of Barnaby Jones, Cobra, Hellrasier, Shoot to Kill, Child's Play 3 and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and seems to murder at random or when it suits his purpose.  He demands $100,000 dollars from the Mayor's office or his next target will be a priest or a n*gger.  The Mayor (John Vernon of Point Blank, Topaz, The Outlaw Josey Wales and  Animal House) wants this handled with care as they are not about to pay an assassin to not kill deeming it terrorism and asks Inspector Callahan (Clint Eastwood of Rawhide, Fistful of Dollars, Magnum Force, Sudden Impact, Heartbreak Ridge and Unforgiven) to defuse this situation with subtly and diplomacy.

Oh yes, he looks completely sane.

Harry's Lieutenant, Bressler (Harry Guardino of Houseboat, Pork Chop Hill, The Five Pennies and The Enforcer) is a bit of a kiss ass, easy going with the brown nosers and has no issues with the press conferences but must have an ulcer the size of a softball with Harry's pension for attracting wackos, weirdos and scumbags.
Our villain is stepping up the game as he kidnaps a girl to make up for being shot at by Harry after a foiled attempt on a priest's life.  The first face-to-face meeting with Scorpio, he comes alone and unarmed.  Scorpio kicks hims, taunts him about he may kill the girl anyway and Harry stabs the slime with a switchblade.  Only to start the dance all over again.

I have just a few comments to make at this time. The National Film Registry deemed this film historically and culturally significant for a full restoration in 2012.

Andrew Robinson's portrayal of Scorpio was so effective that he had to get an unlisted number after several death threats from mail and phone.  Wonder if Kane Hodder is approached with axes, hammers and pitchforks for being an effective Jason Vorhees.  Robinson ad-libbed his line"My, that's a big one" aimed at Harry's hand cannon and the scene had to be reshot due to laughing crew.   Eastwood performed all his own stunts, even leaping onto the roof of the bus.  Guess he's no sissy.

Get back in your seats and STOP DOING THE WAVE!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dirty Harry Week

Hey folks.  Sorry for being AWOL today.  I am building cosplay costumes for a photo shoot later this April and I lost track of time.   This week I thought we would tackle the original glib action hero.  A man of few words, dirty deeds and a hog leg that could blow your head clean off.  I speak of none other than Inspector Harry Callahan otherwise known as " Dirty Harry".  A rough and tumble modern day cowboy that totes a hand cannon .44 magnum six shooter.   The inspector works homicide for San Francisco Police Department and is given every dirty job that comes down the pike because he can stomach it but he doesn't have to like it.  He's rude, mean and packs a helluva right hook when he isn't blasting an offender and is exactly the man you need for the scum plaguing the streets whether the higher ups want to admit it or not.
Played by Clint Eastwood at the time was known primarily from the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), Eastwood did appearances in Maverick and Death Valley Days before becoming a regular on Rawhide.  Dirty Harry allowed him to showcase a cop that didn't follow every rule and bend the others to get the job done.  Without setting this paradigm character there would be no Axel Foley of Beverly Hills Cop or John McClane of Die Hard.   That in mind let's enjoy the Dirty Harry Collection and hope that no punk thinks he is lucky enough to handle the man.

Like the suit?  Well, do you, punk?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Post Apocalypse Week: The Terminator

Welcome back you survivors of the psychic wars to Day 5 of Post Apocalypse Week.  We've had a slippery slope of outbreaks, nuclear wars, landscapes gone to madness and zombie incursions.   Why not round this week out with a war against the machines?  So bring out your Talkie Toasters, grab your digital watches and your MP3 players to the slag pit.  This is The Terminator.

Bad boys indeed.
Kyle Reese: Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever until you are spoiled.

In the far away year of 2029, A.I. machines search and destroy the remnants of humanity.  A supercomputer known only as Skynet is a self-aware and sentient machine that was designed to detour World War III actually initiates the nuclear holocaust feeling the planet is imperfect with these beings roaming about it.  One man, John Connor leads the pockets of humanity against the machines and has overthrown them but not before Skynet sends a cybernetic organism coated in artificial skin to find and kill John's mother before his birth.  The Resistance sends one of their own , Kyle Reese (Michael Behn of Aliens, The Abyss, Navy Seals, The Rock, Insatiable and Kickback) to 1984 to protect John's mother Sarah (Linda Hamilton of Beauty and the Beast, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Separate Lives, Dante's Peak, A Girl Thing and Smile) with no back-up or future based weapons but only what he can find here and now.   The machine (Arnold Shwarzenegger of Conan the Barbarian, Predator, Raw Deal, Red Heat, Total Recall, True Lies and Eraser) systematically goes through the local phone book and proceeds to wipe out Sarah Connors until he has removed them all.  The machine stands at 6'2 and almost 220 lbs in the chest alone and you would think stood out but it actually knew a little subterfuge.  


Kyle saves Sarah from a night club onslaught as the Terminator is not fussy about civilian casualties in the least.  They go on the run and Kyle tells Sarah of the future to come and the hope to stop the machines from their terrible mission alongside his commanding officer.  He views Sarah as this warrior legend that gave her son the means, tools and skills to fight back and to not go into the gentle good night.

I had just a few observations of the film at this time.   One of the biggest sponsors of this movie was Gargoyles as they were the shades Schwarzenegger wore and their sales that year and the next 3 went through the roof thanks to the popularity of the film.

Michael Biehn almost did not get the roles for Reese as in his first audition he spoke in a Southern accent due to working on a stage production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and the producers didn't want Reese region based.  His agent cleared it up for the producers, rescheduled him another audition which was a slam dunk for him.   Tom Selleck, Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas and Mel Gibson were all considered for the role of the Terminator but they all declined.  Kicking yourselves a bit there, fellas?

Amway is back, honey! Bolt the door!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Post Apocalypse Week: Dawn of the Dead

Welcome back to Day 4 of Post Apocalypse Week kids and I thought we would step away from the nice neat nuclear holocaust section for a spell and let's dig in an effect of a comet passing the outer atmosphere of our planet instead.  I hear it has adverse effect on the dead in that it cause them to rise up from it.  In 1968,  writer/director George Romero (Night of the Living Dead, The Crazies, Martin, Day of the Dead, Creepshow, Monkey Shines, The Dark Half and Land of the Dead)  altered the course of what a zombie film means by creating  risen ghouls from the dead to dine upon the living's flesh.  This was titled Night of the Living Dead and made waves in the Horror community given a dismal view of these creatures that were once friends or family now hunger for our flesh and organs.  Breaking further ground unintentionally was casting our lead actor Duane Jones (Night of the Living Dead, Losing Ground, Beast Street, To Die For, Fright House and Living Dead) a black man in the primary cast and before the 1970's this was apparently unheard of.    But that was all that night, what happens in at dawn?   This is Dawn of the Dead.

Francine Parker: What are they doing? Why do they come here?
Stephen: Some kind of spoiler. Memory of what they used to do. This was an important place in their lives.

Black Friday at Wal-Mart!

The US is becoming overrun with the living dead as a massive epidemic.  In the rural and small town areas, Government and local law enforcement seem to be handling the issue but the metropolitan cities are simply being swept up by the steadily increasing wave of unliving biting others and infecting them to add to the fold.  An argument during a telecast was the scientist screaming for nuclear deterrents to level the cities because the dead will never run out of food until they are all dead.    The zombie plague is taking over Philadelphia as martial law is declared. National Guard and SWAT teams break into a building to eradicate the zombies their former loved ones may be hiding.   A national demand that the dead must be given to the military for burning.

Hair smells great. New conditioner?

Helicopter pilot Stephen (David Emge of The Booby Hatch, Basket Case 2 and Hellmaster) and news switchboard staff Francine (Gaylen Ross of Dawn of the Dead, Madman and Creepshow) proceed to get the hell out of Dodge or Philly with a stolen helicopter.  Stephen is waiting for their SWAT buddy Roger (Scott H. Reiniger of Danny, Knightriders, Falcon Crest and Dawn of the Dead) who meets up with them along his newfound buddy and fellow SWAT member Peter (Ken Foree of The Wanderers, Knightriders, From Beyond, Viper, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, The Devil's Rejects, Halloween and Brotherhood of Blood) as they whisk themselves to safety.  From the sky they see the insanity and question humanity's survival but fuel is an issue and they want to make sure to top off as they land in a rural area rather than a big city cluster.

Barely escaping the fuel pump and its plethora of zombies our quartet make their way to a massive shopping mall which has plenty of supplies and ammo (1970's malls had many a gun and blade shops) so they decide to give it a looky loo.   Finding that the zombies are slow on their feet the four think to claim the mall for themselves and remove the zombies outright by locking the shatterproof windows, dropping the gates and leaving big rig semis in front of the doors.

Is this the Utopia to live out the Apocalypse in?   Are our heroes safe from harm or is it only a matter of time before it all comes to an end?

A quick few comments about this movie now.  SFX makeup artist/stuntman/actor Tom Savini had cut his teeth under Romero with the deranged vampire movie Martin that he just showed Romero all his skins he could and the two were bonded at the hip from there on.  Savini tutored the company that became KNB EFFX in Day of the Dead and they later have had more than 40 years of Special Make-up, prostethics and gore effects.  I just now notice Joseph Pilato (Knightriders, Day of the Dead, Gung Ho, Shooters, Alienator and Pulp Fiction) who had the antagonist role in Day of the Dead had a bit part in Dawn of the Dead but that was just an observation.   The End.

Carter administration takes more flack again!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Post Apocalypse Week: Damnation Alley

Howdy wastelanders and welcome back to Day 3 of Post Apocalypse Week. We have been chugging along nicely from the fallouts and viral plagues so how about a nice nuclear holocaust this time around?   Very loosely based on the heroic fantasy writer Roger Zelazny (The Guns of Avalon, The Hand of Oberon, Trumps of Doom, Blood of Amber, Jack of Shadows Isle of the Dead and Damnation Alley) comes a tale of survivors after the final war, World War III via nuclear strike.  Is there anything or anyone left out there to rebuild or is the world that was a thing of the past?   So keep your shotgun handy, watch out for radroaches and fire up your Landmaster.  This is Damnation Alley.


Maj. Eugene Denton: Tanner this is Denton! This whole town is infested with killer spoilers.  I repeat: KILLER SPOILERS!

With TV and Action film director Jack Smight (The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, I'd Rather Be Rich, The Third Day, Rabbit, Run, Midway and Airport 1975) calling the shots, there is little to no drag time from action beats to dialogue.  We don't have that typical story arc that is slowed down by massive amounts of exposition.   1st Lieutenant Jake Tanner (Jan-Michael Vincent of The Survivors, Shadow of the Hawk, Vigilante Force, Hooper, Airwolf, Dirty Games and Buffalo '66) is on ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missle) duty along with Major Sam Denton (George Peppard of Porkchop Hill, Breakfast at Tiffany's, How the West Was Won, The Bravos and The A-Team) who apparently doesn't like the 1st Lieutenant.   They make their tour around the complex meeting up with Airman Keegan (Paul Winfield of The Horror at 37,000 Feet, Conrack, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Terminator and The Serpent and the Rainbow) who is working on a piece he has been painting when early warning radar detects incoming missiles causing them to launch a counteroffensive barrage of their own bringing about the end of the world.

Lord have mercy. I'm the token, aren't I?

Two years later...yeah I know I was stunned that wasn't the end of the flick too.  *Ahem*  Two years later, the Earth is off its gravitational axis, plunged into high yield radiation and massive storms are spread across the planet.   Trying to find any sign of life, Denton settles on Albany as it is the only place they are getting a radio feed at all but the quest is dangerous and they have no back up.  Rather than cross the land on foot our boys have some impressive RVs called Landmasters.  a 12 wheeled juggernaut that manages rough terrain and also can navigate in water similar to a Hummer.  In order to get anywhere at all they must cross what Denton calls Damnation Alley.  the remains of Salt Lake City braving rad storms, rodents and insects of unusual size and possibly roaming bands of gun totting raiders.  Any of you Fallout fans thinking this sounds familiar?  The book it was based on and the movie came first so lump it.  

I had just a few thoughts and points about the film now.  Weighing in at 91 minutes this film gives a pretty impressive feel to the post apocalypse via military.  Their superior training, weapons handling and survival skills makes you feel they have a guanine chance of living.
Our killer cockroaches were actually the Madagascar hissing cockroaches and are about three inches long making my skin crawl enough.  However the giant scorpions are clearly super imposed with the film. Damnation Alley was 20th Century Fox's big budgeted science blockbuster back in 1976 when this dinky modest film called Star Wars was in production and you can pretty well guess which made more coin of the realm.

Roger Zelazny, the author of Damnation Alley saw the first script of the film and assumed that was the basis of the flick when in actuality they removed several key elements from the book to give the script some elbow room.  Zelazny shocked at the film was less than thrilled.

Welcome to the end of the world, baby.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Post Apocalypse Week: Last Man on Earth

How do all and welcome to Day 2 of Post Apocalypse Week.  Going more for a viral feel this time around so why not tap into one of the most famous novels made to film adaptation I Am Legend by Richard Matheson?   A joint effort between Italy and the states a pairing of  director Ubaldo Ragona (Sweet Smell of Love, Baldoria nei Caraibi, Il fiume dei Faraoni) and director Sidney Salkow (The Zero Hour, Flight Lieutenant, The Golden Hawk, Sitting Bull and The Great Sioux Massacre) causing two different styles and formats to blend together to provide you a movie.  This is Last Man on Earth.


Robert Morgan: December 1965. Is that all it has been since I inherited the world? Only three spoilers.  Seems like 100 million.

Most men get into a routine but few could manages Dr. Frank Morgan (Vincent Price of Tower of London, The Eve of St. Mark, The Three Musketeers, House of Wax, The Fly, The Bat and Pit and the Pendulum) his daily duties such as: sharpening stakes, prepping mirrors and garlic for the house and running men and women through with said stakes.   Three years prior a plague infected the populous to the point foreign powers contemplating destroying the nation.  Dr. Morgan speculates that the virus mimics vampirism causing the victims to rise at night and tear around the towns and cities. The only reason he too is not infected is from a bite of a Vampire bat in Panama many years ago giving him immunity.

Not so welcome wagon.

Residing in Los Angeles (areas of Rome) finding supplies is not too difficult as Morgan enjoys a five finger discount and his narrative operates explanation for the audience.  His dark humor masks his pain as he discovers a dog on his front stoop.  He tends to the animal's wound and the dog starts showing signs of the disease.  As he buries the dog he spots a girl and chases her down.  Her name is Ruth (Franca Bettoia of Desert Warrior, The Seducer-Man of Straw, The Itchy Palm, The Dam on the Yellow River, Duels of Champions and The Lion of St. Mark) and clearly she was infected but somehow her society has been working on a serum to allow them out in the daylight.  It never lasts though and Morgan  takes Ruth home, gives her a transfusion of his blood to instantly cure her.   Can these two bring about order in the world again?

I had just a few comments to make on the film at this time.  Other than a few goofs in continuity I found this to be a dark and disturbing story of a scientist, a doctor having to give up his Hippocratic oath simply to live through another night.  It weighs on his soul every day and he does break up from time to time but his logic brings him back in order continue on.   A few vehicle swaps occur between shots at the plague burning pit and bodies were laid at different angles from different shots as well.  Overall it is a creepy and foreboding tale making you question if you would do not unlike Doctor Morgan.

Last refuge for the smoker.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Post Apocalypse Week: Things to Come

Howdy all and welcome to the end of the world as you know it.  Day 1 of Post Apocalypse Week and I thought I would start us off right with some H.G. Wells of a different standing.  As many of you are no doubt aware of The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, our gentleman story crafter gave us a short story that should given us pause.  In 1933, Wells published a short story describing social and political forces and all the possibilities they ensue.  The title is The Shape of Things to Come, which many believe this is less a story and more of a discussion for many to delve into. The impact it had on the world screamed for it to be put upon the big screen so director William Cameron Menzies (The Iron Mask, Alibi, Puttin' on the Ritz, Our Town, The Devil and Miss Jones, Duel in the Sun and Invaders from Mars) took the reins of this wild horse and did his level best.  This is Things to Come.

Alright, one more present and then the war simply must start.

Roxana: I don't suppose any man has ever understood any woman since the beginning of things, You don't understand our spoilers.

Hailing from Denham Studios our movie opens with the impeding threat of global war during of all times, Christmas Day a successful businessman John Cabal (Raymond Massey of The Speckled Band, The Prisoner of Zenda, Arsneic and Old Lace, East of Eden, Seven Angry Men and Dr. Kildare) queries to himself and his guests of what is to become of their city "Everytown" if and when this war reaches them.  His naive friend Passworthy (Edward Chapman of Murder, The October Man, The Spider and the Fly, His Excellency and X: The Unknown) assures him with technological marvels excelling as they do, the social conscious will rise with it.

A dissolve later we see Cabal in a biplane shooting down an enemy bomber, land and pull that bomber from the wreckage.  They both reflect on the madness that is war while conversing through gas masks when they see a little girl running around the dilapidated streets telling them they are done for anyway as it was so matter of fact.    Cabal takes the girl to safety in his plane as he wonders what is to become of Man's civilization.
Decades past as the war continues to wage on that even the survivors have no idea why they are fighting and who is the enemy anymore. The world ends up in a new Dark Age.  With cities and towns in ruins and little to no technology to be found aside from a scant amount of firearms to continue the killing.

That was me. Sorry little girl.

By 1966, a plague is introduced by some unknown enemy using the last remnants of aircraft to spread this gas about.  Dr. Harding (Maurice Braddell of Master and Man, Men of Tomorrow, Flesh and Women in Revolt) struggles desperately to find a cure to save what is left of humanity in order to rebuild and start over but with little equipement to harness a vacine is found dead.

By 1970, a despotic ruler calling himself the Boss (Ralph Richardson of The Avengers, Richard III, The 300 Spartans, Rollerball, Watership Down and Time Bandits) reigns over most of Southern England and has ceased the plague by shooting those infected.   This tyrant was a little man that came to power simply by being in the right place and time as so many conquerors.

This film brings about some of our worst fears to light.  The Luddites against progress to those that are enslaved to technology.  From warring nations to the Big Brother mentality that is sweeping the planet.  It portrays the best and worst of humanity in every conceivable way and frankly was an audacious piece of work for its time and holds true to our time.

But the Morlocks come out at night good sir!

Post Apocalypse Week

It's in our literature of books, comics and magazines. Our anime, movies and TV series.  This particular theme has scored from Science Fiction, Horror, Action to Drama Television.  Ranging as far back as Mary Shelly's Last Man in 1826, this genre normally establishes a virulent disease, a nuclear war or zombies roaming the Earth and those of us that remain are left to pick up the pieces and fight for our very lives.  Why is this concept so appealing is probably to that morbid wonder if you or I could survive without a government environment.  To live in a land where might makes right or whether or not we as a people could rise from the ashes of the old and start anew.   What sort of person would you become? What morals and convictions will you sacrifice to live another day?

H.G. Wells Time Machine and War of the Worlds is another example of this given the Science Fiction angle that humanity would be self-destructive in bloodier wars or an alien invasion that would bring civilization to a grinding halt.

No, we are not here to sing show tunes!

My era of this fascination hails to The Day After.  A made for TV movie giving the effect that NATO has failed, all treaties are out the window and all our SAC (Strategic Air Command) are on high alert.
Mad Max to my opinion gives the darker effect of the world attempting to make sense again and failing miserably at that.

This week we see different depictions of the end of the world, sharpen our blades and clean our guns for the dark days ahead... in fiction.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Hound of the Baskervilles Week: The Hound of the Baskervilles 1988

Welcome back boys and girls to Day 4 of The Hound of the Baskervilles.  I apologize for the delay of this review but family matters and a bum tooth caused a bit of a roadblock.   This time around we will focus on the late brilliant Jeremy Brett (My Fair Lady, The Merry Widow, A Picture of Katherine Mansfield, A Legacy, Seagull Island and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes) brings his ellegance to this exemplary detective character.   So gather around the kiddies around the fireplace, wrap them in a wool blanket and be prepare to be astounded.  This is The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Silver will settle the score with that werewolf.

Stapleton: The moor is full of spoilers.
Dr. John Watson: But what was it?
Stapleton: The peasants say it is the Hound of the Baskervilles calling for its prey.

Based on the TV series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes this TV movie is did take liberties of the source material in order to stem it down, our film opens with Sir Charles Baskerville on the grounds of Baskerville Hall.  Dr. Mortimer (Alastair Duncan of Taggart, Split Second, Tracey Takes On..., Providence and The Batman) takes up a meeting with Sherlock and Watson (Edward Hardwicke of The Scarlet Letter, Richard III, Elizabeth and Love Actually) to express his great concern for the nephew of his best friend Sir Charles.  Young Henry has been residing in Canada for his scholastic was given an anonymous note left at his London hotel room warning him away from the moors of Devonshire.

Do explain this BFG weaponry. Sounds most fascinating.

Mortimer is convinced of a legendary torment of a demonic hound roaming Devonshire moors sought the blood of Hugo Baskerville's descendants to quench its hunger.  Taking in this story with a degree of concern, Watson is dispatched with Mortimer to greet Sir Henry and Holmes would endeavor to find the truth behind the monster and the legend if any to be found at all.

I had just a few comments to make about the TV movie now.
Aside from a few temporal goofs such as Watson's revolver was a Webley Mk VI .455 while resembling a 19th century revolver it was not manufactured for the British Army until 1915.  30 years prior to when the story was created.   Seldon was a victim of a botched lobotomy, a  procedure that had not came to pass until the 1950s.   This TV Movie stayed true to the Victorian Era and held that with language, clothing and location.
Quite impressive portrayal of the classic story even if I do not hold it in high regards.

Mud bath of DOOOOOOM!!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Hound of the Baskervilles Week: The Hound of the Baskervilles 1978

Hello there and welcome to Day 3 of The Hound of the Baskervilles Week.  I am changing things up a bit.  Rather than reviewing the 1972 TV Movie I felt we need a bit of a lark, some goof if you will and that is why we are moving on ahead to 1978’s rendition of said title.  This is meant as a spoof of the classic Doyle tale and is done with precision and exquisite time of the late Peter Cook and the late Dudley Moore.   This ladies and gentlemen is The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Yikes, right in the little soldier!

Sherlock Holmes: Do you think I’m gonna waste my time spoiling the streets of London for some old boot?  This is a job for an imbecile.
Doctor Watson: Quite right, Holmes, let me deal with this.

 With an in-depth view into Holmes’ personal life, issues with his constantly perplexed mother and his welsh Watson we can surmise this is clearly a parody of the Doyle tale and quite the detraction from the dramatic mystery that it is. Holmes has just returned from finding a lost holy relic for three French nuns that are adamant about getting to the church on time for the thousand of blind cripples to enjoy…how you may ask? Why, faith, of course.   No sooner has Holmes (Peter Cook of Alice in Wonderland, The Bed Sitting Room, Find the Lady, The Two of Us and The Black Adder) tended to the nuns Dr. Mortimer (Terry-Thomas of I’m All Right Jack, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies, The Abominable Dr. Phibes and The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones) pays Holmes and rather excitable Welsh Doctor Watson (Dudley Moore of Bedazzled, 10,  Foul Play, Arthur and Six Weeks) of his concern for Sir Henry Baskerville and the fiercesome beast that curses Baskerville Hall and all its estate.

Star in a film titled Supergirl?  Sounds daft.

Tired and shagged out from the previous cases, Holmes hands the reins to this case to Watson.   Arriving at the station, Sir Henry (Kenneth Williams of Carry on Sergeant, Carry on Nurse, Carry on Teacher and Carry on at Your Convenience), Watson, Mortimer and Perkins their driver are halted by a bobby informing them of an escaped lunatic that is hiding out in the moors and they are to be wary at all times…this is just after they rammed him in the balls with a Model A.   He’s only married for a month, the poor fellow. 
Moving right along Mortimer and Watson are mistreated by the Barrymores feed only cheese and water and then cast into a dingy, grimy small bedroom with ankle deep water.  As Watson keeps Holmes abreast to the situation, Holmes must endure his cranky eldery mother (Moore in drag) rambling nonsensical left and right.

I just had a few observations of the movie at this time. With such an amazing cast as Denholm Elliot of  Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Prunella Scales of Fawlty Towers and After Henry this low brow humor consists primarily of jokes, puns and a running gag of dogs peeing.  The amusing part to this film is it truly does not steer away from its original source material.  It would be more accurately viewed as this is The Hound of the Baskervilles in the mind’s eye view of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore and frankly that is almost as terrifying to be in Robin Williams’ mind.

It is fun, warped and filled with abject wrongness for all to enjoy.

Was that you or do we have a dead yak in the front hall?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Hound of the Baskervilles Week: The Hound of the Baskervilles 1959

Hello again to Day 2 of The Hound of the Baskervilles Week and what could be cooler than a Sherlock Holmes story given life to the screen? How about a Hammer Films Production of it??   That’s right kiddies I just finished enjoying the hell out of this oh so impressive cast, location and period piece so this should be a slippery slope for Rathbone’s inception.  The year is 1959, filmed in the UK as it should be and our intrepid twosome about to receive a visitor in the night urging their assistance in a family endeavor.  This is The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Sharp dressed Sith.

Sherlock Holmes: I must insist upon one thing. Under no circumstances are you to go out onto the spoilers at night.

However would you find a man that could fit the physical and mental aptitudes that make up a wiry man with a hawkish nose and a cunning intellect that few could rival?   Well with Basil Rathbone setting a pretty high bar how about Peter Cushing?   Yes, I thought that would grab your attention.

Holmes (Peter Cushing of Horror of Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein, Doctor Who and the Daleks, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, Shock Waves and Star Wars) and Watson (Andre Morell of The Bridge on the River Kwai, Ben-Hur, The Message and The Great Train Robbery) have tucked in for the night when Mrs. Hudson informs the gents a Doctor Mortimer would like a word with them on a matter of most urgency.  Holmes relaxed in his smoking dressing gown (robe for the Yanks) greets Mortimer (Francis De Wolff of A Christmas Carol, Ivanhoe, Moby Dick and From Russia with Love) exclaims that his best friend’s nephew is the target of a family curse where he to set foot in his inherited estate.  Holmes takes this concern in with leisure but ever a sound mind as Mortimer tells the story of his dearest departed friend Sir Charles Baskerville dying under the guise of a heart attack. Claiming a curse was placed on the house of Baskerville due to the actions of Charles’ ancestor Sir Hugo that a large horrendous beast from the pits of Hell is known to roam the lands of Baskerville in search of Hugo’s descendants for only their blood will slake its thirst.

Daleks are a tricky adversary, you know. 

Sir Henry (Sir Christopher Lee of Horror of Dracula, The City of the Dead, Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, The Man with the Golden Gun and Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring) meets with the gentlemen only after an attempt on his life with a deadly tarantula and Holmes is certain this was foul play.  Telling Watson to go ahead with Sir Henry, Holmes proceeds to the region hours behind them to better snoop about.

I have many reasons to have enjoyed this movie.  One, this is my favorite Holmes story.  Two, this Hammer film spared no expense from the elegant costuming, sets and location to the amazing score of music that captures the scenes from moment to moment. Three, Peter Cushing is Holmes and embodies all the requirements for such a iconic character with style and grace.   Lastly, Hammer Film legendary director Terrance Fisher (Horror of Dracula, The Mummy, The Brides of Dracula, The Curse of the Werewolf, Island of Terror and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed) is helming this project with the same gravitas that was seen in his earliest movies.   This is also the first adaptation of this story seen in color. An 
imaginative twist on the theme will keep Hammer fans and new onlookers riveted.  

Sir Henry, why do you gaze at my neck so?

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Hound of the Baskervilles Week: The Hound of the Baskervilles 1939

Hello and welcome to the very first day of The Hound of the Baskervilles Week.  As I previously mentioned, I will not be reviewing the silent film because…frankly it is a bit difficult and we will leave it at that.  That being said I thought we would toddle down to 1939 and tackle the Basil Rathbone manifestation instead.  In this version Holmes is the butler and maid’s last name was altered to Barryman rather than Barrymore (due to John Barrymore’s acting streak and not to confuse audience members).  Some reason or another that is an issue of debate and hopefully cleared up.  This is The Hound of Baskervilles.

So, what do you think of the smoking jacket?

Sherlock Holmes: There is no doubt of it in my mind. Or perhaps I should say, my imagination. For that is where spoilers are conceived and they’re solved- in the imagination.

Brought to us by director Sidney Lanfield (Cheer Up and Smile, Three Girls Lost, Hush Money, Red Salute, My Favorite Blond and Where There’s Life) and produced by 20th Century Fox this was the first of the fourteen movies based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes.    

Holmes (Basil Rathbone of The Last Days of Pompeii, Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sun Never Sets and The House of Fear) and Watson (Nigel Bruce of Escape!, I Was a Spy, Murder in Trinidad, The Lady is Willing, The Spider Woman and The Woman in Green) are in for the evening when they receive a visit from Dr. Mortimer (Lionel Atwill of Night Monster, Captain America: The Serial, House of Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Fog Island and House of Dracula) who warns the duo of the impending arrival of Sir Henry Baskerville, the last of the line and heir to the estate in Devonshire. He begins to explain that Baskerville Hall is cursed by a demonic beast, a veritable hellhound that killed Sir Hugo Baskerville hundreds of years ago and believes in his heart that this creature roams the moors to kill all Baskervilles. 


Naturally Holmes views it as tittle-tattle or poppycock if you will, then Mortimer tells the events leading to his best friend Sir Charles Baskerville’s ghastly death.   Found dead in his garden without so much as a mark on his body but his face was contorted into sheer terror.   The official inquisition did not make the village aware that around his body some distance away was gigantic paw prints.  Mortimer failed to mention this because no one would have believed him in the slightest. 

Holmes sends Watson to Baskerville Hall along with young Sir Henry, stating he is far too busy to attend them at this time and Watson is to keep a wary eye of the goings on there.

I had just a few comments to make at this time.  I have heard constant complaints of the lack of Victorian times rather than the contemporary settings of Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes movies and I am proud to say this actually holds to that time period but it is the only of the series that does. During the latter 1930s to 1940s Rathbone’s Holmes was a war hero thwarting the Nazi regime and while it did detract from its original beginnings it brought hope and strength to the fighting boys overseas to see a classic English hero as a spy buster across the pond.  Not to be too fan boy but this is one of my favorite versions of this classic chilling tale.   FYI, be on the lookout for character actor John Carradine in this film.

Doctor, please remove your hand from my knee.