Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bob and Bing Week: Road to Zanzibar

Welcome back kiddies to Day 2 of Bob and Bing Road Week and since those nuts managed seven of these movies, what say we move on to the second one? For the sake of chronology of course. Howabout a trek deep in the jungles of Africa for a safari but more of a spoof on Stanley and Livingstone? With our boys Bob and Bing gabbing and ad libbing their way through this remote region as two con men just trying to get a leg up in the world and get the brass ring. This is Road to Zanzibar.

Geez, Dollface you packed everything but the kitchen sink.

Hubert "Fearless Fraizer: (Cannibal burps) Must've been someone he ate.

Circus sideshow caller Chuck Reardon (Bing Crosby of Holiday Inn, Going My Way, Road to Utopia, White Christmas and Stagecoach) calls action and revs the crowd with the death defying feats the one and only Hubert "Fearless" Fraizer (Bob Hope of That Certain Feeling, Paris Holiday, The Jack Benny Hour, Alias Jesse James and The Facts of Life) the human cannonball that is hides in a secret compartment and uses a dummy at the last minute. The flame imbued dummy sets fire to the big tent causing a ruckus and as people flee in terror and our boys hightail in out of there.

Trying to make back the money they lost, Chuck hinges on the idea of Fearless wrestling a live octopus. Naturally Fearless is appalled at the idea as it goes horribly wrong and is nearly throttled to death, decides he wants to make his way back to the good ole US of A when they sent a bottle of bubbly by a diamond baron name of Charles Kimble (Eric Blore of Top Hat, Swing Time, Shall We Dance and The Lady Eve) who has made a vast fortune in the diamond mining that he proposes a offer of five thousand dollars for the fellas to have their own diamond mine. Which is all well and good but Kimble is known for being a crackpot and whatever he signs off is ultimately worthless. Fearless annoyed at losing all their collective money dissolves their partnership and storms out.

Um... why the gimp suit?

That evening Fearless is all smiles and pockets of money claiming he sold the diamond mine to some poor sap for seven thousand dollars. The lads are almost out of there when they are cornered by the very same "sap" Monsieur Lebec (Lionel Royce of What Price Safety!, The Son of Monte Cristo, White Pongo and Gilda) and his hulking bodyguard "insist" Chuck and Fearless accompany them to the mine to inspect his purchase.

Jumping ship and ending up on a life raft, our struggling stragglers make it to shore meeting with the lovely Julia Quimby (Una Merkel of 42nd Street, The Bank Dick, Summer and Smoke and The Parent Trap) who begs for the boys' assistance in saving her friend Donna (Dorothy Lamour of Road to Singapore, Road to Morocco, They Got Me Covered, Riding Hight, And the Angels Sing and Duffy's Tavern) who is being sold at a slave auction. The guys leap into action and buy her for the local coin and agrees to take the gals on a safari across the country.

The boys squabble over Donna and it comes down to fisticuffs when the trouble ensues as they have gotten the attention of a local tribe of headhunters.

Will the boys be able to get out of this one or are they in hot water?

An interest note of interest now.

The second of the seven Road movies, Road to Zanzibar was nominated for Best Picture in 1941 but sadly lost to John Ford's How Green Was My Valley. Also nominated for Best Picture but failed to win was Orson Welles' Citizen Kane. Henry Fonda did not even get the recognition for his performance in The Lady Eve but that they say is show business.

Gulp!  Sure glad I use Scope.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bob and Bing Road Week: Road to Singapore

Welcome girls and boys of all ages to Day 1 of Bob and Bing Road Week and what better way to start of the week than with the original film that started the Road saga. Bringing together two playboys who choose to hit the high seas see their fellow sailors get the riot act by the wives and girlfriends. Our pals pledge to swear the fair sex away and forget their women woes... that is until they spy with their purdy lil eyes a shapely Dorothy Lamour. This is Road to Singapore.

Top billing, babies.

Joshua Mallon IV: You must think the world is just some three ring spoiler, and all you've got to do is run around and have fun

Josh Mallon (Bing Crosby of Sing, You Sinners, Paris Honeymoon, My Favorite Blonde, Dixie and Going My Way), an adventurous fellow is plagued by his father Joshua Mallon IV into settling down with a chosen girl and carrying in the million dollar family business of steam ships.

But our boy prefers to pal around with his childhood chum Ace Lannigan (Bob Hope of Some Like It Hot, The Cat and the Canary, My Favorite Blonde, Road to Utopia and My Favorite Brunette) who loves balling it up and having a laugh. When trying to entertain the snooty guests about the ship the snarky barbs of Ace end up the boys into a real donnybrook. With the severance pay, our sailors hop a ship bound for Singapore but the boys run out of the cabbage in no time and get dropped a remote island chain called Kaigoon.

Well, at least it's not black face??  Ho boy.

Enjoying the cabaret acts with a stunning Mima (Dorothy Lamour of The Jungle Princess, Swing High, Swing Low, The Last Train from Madrid, Road to Zanzibar, Road to Morocco and They Got Me Covered) is being manhandled by her lead dancer Ceasar (Anthony Quinn of Road to Morocco, China Sky, The Guns of Navarone, Lawrence of Arabia, Zorba the Greek and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys- Hercules and the Lost Kingdom) that yet another fight breaks out and our boys exit stage left with Mima. With next to no money our threesome tries to find a way to make some lettuce without getting too zany. Cesar and Joshua Mallon IV are in hot pursuit of the fellas and things are looking a bit bleak and tensions are bit high given both of the guys have the hots for Mima.

Will our sea faring friends come out on top or will they be adrift at sea?

A few fun facts about this film now.

This is the first of the seven Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour “Road” movies. Originally this film was titled Beach of Dreams was to star George Burns and Gracie Allen. When they bowed out it was re-titled Road to Mandalay for Fred MacMurray and Jack Oakie before its final title was revealed and recast.

After the failed attempts of getting either George Burns or Fred MacMurray into the picture, producer Harlan Thompson offered it to Bob and Bing with he saw these two clowning around on the Paramount lot and genuinely got along with each other. A lucky thing for Thompson.

Three hour tour, my eye.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Blog Number 575! : Bob and Bing Road Week

Well hello and welcome to the week my fine readers. It has come to my attention that the blog may lack taste and refinement. This of course is news to me but seeing the requests coming in I thought we would partake in the Road to movies Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour.

Two Jews walk in a bar... hang on I think I forge the rest.

With the adventures taking place all over the world our heroes sing, doing ad-libs and inside Hollywood jokes, this trio entertained with song and dance and wild antics to appease the audience and kept people in stitches with snappy patter and great physical humor. Bob and Bing were a natural duo that perfected their formula of jibber jabbing past whatever minor scenario only to end up in a heap of mess towards the end and constantly fighting over the affection of Dorothy Lamour, a femme fatale that always had her way and got her say.

Let's head wherever the road Bob and Bing may take us.

Eye candy indeed!  Well, I never!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Andrea Romano Week: Justice League Unlimited: This Little Piggy

Hey gang!  Welcome to Day 4 of Andrea Romano Week.  Was feeling a bit out of it and computer was not behaving so that is why we are a write-up short.   Sorry about that.  Say what could be more terrifying?  Standing up to an ancient sorceress with unbridled powers of the Netherworld or Batman having to admit he has emotions?   As luck would have it we are about to find out in this installment of Andrea Romano Week with another success story of hers.  The Justice League.   This is Justice League Unlimited: This Little Piggy.

Eat your heart out, Marilyn!

Circe: My cousins, the Sirens said I couldn't sing.  They thought they were all that with their "spoil the sailors" routine. Well, I'm showing them tonight, aren't I?

Alone on a stake-out, Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg of Jackie Adventures, Justice League, Golden Axe: Beast Rider, Supermam/Batman: Apocalypse. Justice League: Doom and Injustice: Gods Among Us) grows tired of the hero gig without any form of fun.  Her brooding companion, Batman (Kevin Conroy of The Office, Batman: The Animated Series, The Batman Superman Movie: World's Finest, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, Static Shock and Justice League)  points out how dating co-workers is always a mistake, that she hails from an ancient race of warriors and he's a rich kid with more issues than a comic book store and how his enemies would just look for someone in his life to menace... and yet he has trained three kids by this time into impressive non-lethal combatants but maybe I am just splitting hairs.  

Can't move. Back's cramped up.

The alarm is triggered and both Bats and the princess swing into high action to find a lithe cat burglar attempting a break-in only to find out that our burglar is none other than Circe( Rachel York of Fantasy Island, Son of the Beach, Terror Tract, Lucy, Neverwinter Nights 2, Happy Feet and Close to Home) an immortal witch from Homer's Odyssey that has escaped Tartarus (the Underworld) and decides to reek revenge on Hippolyta by changing Wonder Woman into... a pig?  

Through the aid of a high ranking mage and old friend of Batman's Zatanna (Jennifer Hale of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Diablo III, Guild Wars 2, Halo 4 and Green Lantern: The Animated Series) they attempt to break the spell and find they cannot, they seek out Circe and try to convince her to lift the spell.  
What will it cost to get on Circe's good side?   What is Batman willing to sacrifice for Diana?

The episode alone is great with pop culture gags, sibling rivalry and excellent collection of sarcasm.  Andrea Romano pulled out all the stops with finding Rachel York because she steals the show as Circe.  Conroy surprises us all with a tenor tune that is moving.  Trust me kids you want to catch this episode.

Let's see.. eye of newt, testicle of squirrel.. Ah, Dragon's eye.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Andrea Romano Week: Batman Beyond: Heroes

Well greetings and salutations my readers and welcome to Day 3 of Andrea Romano Week.  After the success rate of both Batman: The Animated Series and The New Adventures of Batman, head of programming Jamie Keller got the crew in to praise their work and ask them if they could do another Batman themed series.  To gather a wider audience of kids they wanted a teenage Batman and bring this all new show to green lit and production.  With the help of voice casting director Andrea Romano, she managed to find some previous actors from Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series as well as some new cast to handle the load.  This is Batman Beyond: Heroes.

Chilly reception.

Just another crime-ridden night in Gotham as high-tech thieves in rocket belts trying to rip off a new microchip and Batman (Will Fridle of Boy Meets World, Kim Possible, Static Shock, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Green Lantern: The Animated Series) is in hot pursuit when three super-powered beings capture the thieves and handle the damage.

 In a released interview from Wayne/Powers Industries they state these three scientists were exposed to radiation altering their DNA making them The Terrific Trio...  say that sounds vaguely familiar.  Magma (Robert Davi of The Goonies, Die Hard, The Living Daylights and Profiler) Freon (Laura San Giacomo of Pretty Woman, Quigley Down Under, Just Shoot Me!,  Saving Grace and Few Options) and 2-D Man (Jeff Bennett of James Bond Jr., Johnny Bravo, Transformers: Rescue Bots, The Legend of Korra and Jake and the Never Land Pirates) are sponsored by the government and it seems Gotham is in good hands, Terry/Batman wonders if he is even needed now but Bruce remains skeptical about them and the situation.  

Yeah, gonna feel that in the morning.

 As time progresses, Magma starts to resent humanity given he cannot shift back into human and cannot have a real relationship with Freon.   Batman finds out that their physiology is so damaged it may mean they will not be able to survive let alone their condition may not have been an accident.  Will Batman have to fight them?  Will the government cover it up?

Andrea Romano had to team up with veteran voice actors like Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series, New Adventures of Batman, Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League), Teri Garr, Seth Green,Michael Rosenbaum, Olivia d' Abo, Kevin Michael Richardson offers a huge diverse collection like Paul Winfield, George Lazenby, Henry Rollins, Angie Harmon, Carl Lumbly and Christopher McDonald bringing life to the characters and bringing realistic problems and events to a fictional standing.  The series is as well grounded as Static Shock giving the teen issues presence.

To the Baxter... I mean the Terrific Tower!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Andrea Romano Week: Static Shock

Welcome one and all to Day 2 of Andrea Romano Week and I thought we tackle an obscure superhero in the making.  In the fictional city of Dakota (creation of DC comics affiliated with Milestone Media, a coalition of African American artists and writers that felt minorities were less than represented in America comics) lurks a meta-human teenager with the abilities to control electrical currents creating, absorbing and controlling both electricity and magnetic fields i.e. static energy.   Our young 14 year old decides in his ultimate wisdom to don a garish costume and fight supervillains and use his power for good according to his set of morals and conduct (no pun intended).  This is Static Shock.

How do I kick your butt? Let me count the ways.

Static: I put a shock to your spoiler!

Like any typical high school we have the popular kids, the geeks, the gangs and the loners.  Virgil Hawkins (Phil LaMarr of The George Carlin Show, Free Enterprise, MADtv, Invader ZIM, Justice League, Samurai Jack, Justice League Unlimited and Afro Samurai) is a gifted intelligent kid trying to not make waves, go with the flow and chase after the popular girl when he gets jumped by F-Stop (Danny Cooksey of Need for Speed: Underground, Medal of Hour: Pacific Assault, Dave the Barbarian, Invader ZIM and What's with Andy) a swaggering twerp that has not figured out a belt because his pants are damn near at his knees.  His gang is looking to slap Virgil around because... well they're punks and don't really need a reason.   Another gang lead by Wade (Omar Gooding of Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, Smart Guy, Baby Boy and The Gospel) treats Virgil like one of his own but wants him to roll with his crew or he'll stop protecting him in school and the streets.

Later that night Virgil joins up with Wade's crew, is given a gun and told to represent as both gangs are ready to rumble.   Hiding out in a restricted area, police helicopters spot both gangs distributing lead at one another and also open up on them releasing some sort of gas that caused these kids to mutate and develop powers.  Virgil caught also by the gas develops his electrostatic powers and becomes Static.  Most of the Bang Babies go villain and since Dakota is lacking a SCU (Special Crimes Unit for superpowered beings and villains) he feels he needs to help the police.   Our young teen slowly collects a rogue gallery that commonly team up on him or go after him solo but he gets some help now and then from say... Batman, Superman and the rest of the Justice League.

Dude, I don't rag on your threads so ease off mine.

His best friend Richie Foley (Jason Marsden of Justice League, Codename: Kids Next Door, Teen Titans, Xiaolin Showdown and Kim Possible) went looking for him during the "Big Bang" and was also exposed to the gas and developed an enhanced intelligence devising tech for non-lethal combatant and capture calling himself Gear, creating devices for Static such as his saucer he can fly on with magnetism, shock caps (stunners previously charged and power stored) and walkie talkies known as Shock Vox.  Our two young heroes have their work cut out for them as they still have every problem a teenager could have.  This show covered a lot of issues including: racism, rap and how various people view it, parents' discipline and responsibilities.  Aside from a hip intro music brought to you by Lil' Romero which you cannot get out of your head with the Men in Black Neuralizer, cotton swabs or the Necronomicon, this show deserves credit for the work and voice work put into it.

Andrea Romano had cast Phil LaMarr in Justice League for what he calls Charlton Heston meets Richard Roundtree voice for Green Lantern John Stewart.  Romano asked him what was his range of voices and found he could manage a young man's voice and snared him for Static Shock toot sweet.   Didn't hurt the fact that LaMarr was impressed with the episodes and the messages getting out there on Saturday Morning Cartoons.

Yeah, we look dumb but I can still roast you.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Andrea Romano Week: Batman: The Animated Series: The Lion and the Unicorn

Welcome readers to Day 1 of Andrea Romano Week and I thought I would start us off with a clever story involving espinoage, global threats and maybe a manservant or two.  With the phenomeonal story telling of Batman: The Animated Series hails an old enemy of Batman, dubbed Red Claw.  A ruthless terrorist/freedom fighter who works as a mercenary or her own objects.  This time around she seeks to start a thermonuclear crisis and Batman and Robin may be the world's only hope.  This is The Lion and the Unicorn.

Really sir, an obscene phone call... at this hour?

Robin: And here I thought all you did was dust spoiler.
Alfred: A Louis Quinze: what a pity.

Auspicious theme music sweeping into our ears by Danny Elfman, our story opens another day in the Batcave.   Bruce (Kevin Conroy of Tour of Duty, The Office, Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, Superman, Batman Beyond, Batman: Vengeance, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited) implementing some new criminal database while Dick (Loren Lester of Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, Men in Black: The Series, Batman: The Brave and the Bold- The Videogame and Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds) is working out a gymnastics routine on the uneven bars and Alfred has prepared them both lunch when a call is made to the manor from England.  Alfred's "cousin" Fredrick calls begging for Alfred's help ASAP.   The next morning Dick wakes up to find Alfred is nowhere to be found and a note was left for them to so they would not worry.   Arriving in London, Alfred (Efrem Zimbalist Jr. of 77 Sunset Strip, The F.B.I., Hot Shots! and Batman: The Animated Series) is met at the airport by a couple of goons claiming that Fredrick sent them.  Alfred's keen mind sizes them up, thumps them proper and makes his way to a telephone to inform Master Wayne of the faux pas he has made and could use assistance.

You're standing on my cape.

Reacquainted with his old chum Fredrick, it is revealed they have been abducted at the behest of Red Claw (Kat Mulgrew of Ryan's Hope, Remo Williams, Throw Momma from the Train, Star Trek: Voyager, The Black Donnellys and Warehouse 13) who wants access to a hidden missile silo that only these two men have access to.  Batman and Robin hot on the trail, Batman tells Robin about Alfred's MI-5 status in the day for logistics, analysis and that it is most likely both men and the world are in terrible danger.   Will our heroes be in time to prevent World War III?   Will Red Claw get justice between the eyes?   Will Alfred's recipe for scones go with him to the grave?

Just a few side notes now.  Kate Mulgrew came in to audition for Catwoman and Andrea Romano was so taken back by her performance that she had mixed feelings now to have cast Catwoman so soon but always wanted to keep Mulgrew available for a part.   With her smooth lines, confidence and professional attitude, Romano hoped to find Mulgrew a tough as nails, take no prisoners kinda gal and with that came Red Claw.

We have to make our own sandwiches now. Grr...

Andrea Romano Week

Good day and hello to my readers and sorry if I didn't make it clear on Facebook as I was stumped for a week.  Luckily I managed to drag myself out of that, kick my muse in the tuckus and get some neurons and electrons flowing to the coconut to bring you Andrea Romano Week.   Who the heck is that some of you are asking?   Well, this woman is one of the most influential voice casting directors in the biz.   Still no idea?  I feel her work speaks for itself but I am willing to give you some highlights.  From putting voices to faces as far back as the Smurfs and getting recognition in the business for her success with a WB logistics nightmare Tiny Toons, our heroine went on to being forced to endure such bile as The Flintstone Kids, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo and The Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels when she got the call that would change her stance in the industry forever.

Yes, I do know Batman's secret identity...

Getting the hero and villains for Batman: The Animated Series.   Yes, scooping up Kevin Conroy for Batman, Mark Hamil for the Joker, Adrienne Barbeau for Catwoman, John Glover for The Riddler and Richard Moll for Two-Face, her ship had come in.  Mind you a gathering of these actors were stuck in a dinky studio during a infamous riot in L.A. and she had to leap down executives throats to point out how dangerous it is for them to be there and to post-pone the filming... hey you need to speak to Conroy or Hamil how that ended.  She is the go-to gal for the animation.  The lady that gets the talent to the pencil and ink and has more than 30 years experience in the biz, it is safe to know she will get the ace folk for the gig.  With that in mind we will touch base on her successful casting with a few episodes for each blockbuster collection.

Andrea Romano, you have been chosen as Green Lantern of Sector 2814!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sid Haig Week: House of 1000 Corpses

Well hello there and welcome back to Day 5 of Sid Haig Week.  I thought we would end our week on a generation gap for newer Sid Haig fans.  As many of you are aware there is more than 40 years of films and TV to contend with so it is only logical he would naturally gravitate back to exploitation and this time it is horror. Bounced around for three years from Universal to Lionsgate Films, our feature was a Halloween based horror film clearly influenced by Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes.  This is House of 1000 Corpses.

Bozo the Clown: After Dark.

Otis: It's all spoiled.  The bogeyman is real and you found him.

Two couples  Jerry Goldsmith (Chris Hardwick of Shipmates, Jane White Is Sick & Twisted, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Spectres, The X's and Halloween II) Denise Willis (Erin Daniels of Action, One Hour Photo, Boomtown, Wheelmen, Justice and The L Word) Bill Hudley (Rainn Wilson of Blue in Green, Six Feet Under, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Juno and The Office) and Mary Knowles (Jennifer Jostyn of The Brothers McMullen, Milo, Deep Impact, A Perfect Little Man, Maximum Velocity and Rancid) are hitting the road writing a book about those out of the way roadside attraction when the lot of them when to a ran down gas station/museum where our foursome encounter Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig of The Big Bird Cage, THX 1138, Foxy Brown, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill: Vol. 2 and The Devil's Rejects) a crass clown that tells the lot of them about a local legend known as "Dr. Satan" a doctor that experimented on wards of the state torturing them and pushing their thresholds of pain and anguish.  

The town rose up and hung him from a tree.  Fascinated by the story our couples head out to find the said tree and document it when they encounter a hitchhiker with nickname Baby, (Sherri Moon Zombie of Toolbox Murders, The Devil's Rejects, Halloween, Halloween II, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto and The Lords of Salem) a bubbly blonde that seems to be vapid and vaccant with a hint of something sinister behind the eyes.  She asked if they could drop her off at her family home a few miles away when the car's tire pops and Baby leads Bill to her family home and her half-brother Rufus (Bill Moseley of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, The Blob, Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out!, Carnivale and The Devil's Rejects)  grabs a ride to pick the rest of the passengers back to the house.

Thank God, they're just burning bodies and not books.

 After introducing the family to our now disturbed couples, offering dinner and putting on some strange play praising Halloween Baby starts hitting on Bill and Mary takes offense to it and lets Baby know it.  Mother Firefly (Karen Black of Five Easy Pieces, Nashville, Family Plot, Repo Chick, Double Duty and Better People) insists they leave because their tire was replaced and shuns them from the house.   Otis and his mongoloid brother Tiny attacks and mutilates Bill in a warped modern art, Mary is bound tight in a barn while Denise is dressed up for the appreciation of Halloween.
Denise's father gets the police to check out the house when all hell breaks loose.
Will our survivors get away?  Will they summon courage to get revenge?  Will this nightmare ever cease?

A chuck full of tidbits about the movie now.  Universal Pictures refused to release the film believing it would be rated at NC-17 via MPAA.  This was Rob Zombie's first directorial debut.  The title of the movie is coined after a same named song on Zombie's second solo album The Sinister Urge.  Karen Black was due to play in the sequel The Devil's Rejects but demanded a salary increase that Zombie didn't have and Leslie Easterbrook replaced here.

The family house is the same one used for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas which is commonly seen for the Universal Studio tram ride and Universal shockingly enough refuse to stall the tours causing delays in filming many of the scenes.  Rob thinking about how to appease Universal was filming two versions of the more violent scenes to make the rating boards not lose their collective crap.  

Lick of paint and trash hauled and it still would look creepy.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sid Haig Week: House of the Dead 2: Dead Aim

Welcome back for Day 4 of Sid Haig Week and I thought we might skip ahead into Haig's current body of work.  So what is more fun than watching a video game themed movie?  Well reading a book, working out, going out with a member of the opposite or same sex. Yeah loads of things are vastly better than a video game based movie.  Watch yourself, get an ax because it is bound to be a trick.  This is House of the Dead 2: Dead Aim

The Betty Ford Clinic gone dark.

Spoilers make no noise.

Writer Mark A. Altman (Free Enterprise, House of the Dead, All Souls Day: Dia de lost Muertos and Room 6) Director Michael Hurst (New Blood, The Baby Juice Express, The Darkroom and Room 6) have collaborated in TV as well as film many a time decided to drive us to drink with this demented little soap opera of a horror movie.  A demented professor (Sid Haig of Koffy, House of 1000 Corpses and Devil’s Rejects) has been experimenting with the dead by killing students that no one will immediately miss and attempting to re-animate them.  Must be the Herbert West guide to immortality he was reading from.   So the prof’s creature is loose and we go through a flash sequence of screen shots, credits that look made of a MAC, stills and a quick story telling idea to establish the campus has clearly been overrun with the undead.  Hey photophobic folks, you may want to fast forward a bit. Zombie U!  The curricular is murder.

Doctors with guns.  Yeah that can only end well.

Lieutenant Ellis (Ed Quinn of Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation, Eureka, True Blood and Behemoth) and his A.M.S. team are prepping from a previous mission and a little dialogue hints to a poorly planned mission. Alexandra ’Nightingale’ Morgan (Emmanuelle Vaugier of Saw II, 40 Days and 40 Nights, Supernatural and Far Cry) is called in from a lesser date to a possible outbreak of zombie infection at an alarming rate and will be escorted by Special Forces leader Sgt. Major Dalton (Sticky ‘Kirk Jones’Fingers of Blade the Series, Flight of the Phoenix, Once Fallen and Burn Notice) and he is channeling his inner Apone.  His team is the atypical Colonial Marine archetypes filled with sexist and racist morons, dumb rookies, seasoned jerks and at least one resident psycho that can allegedly shoot.

Dalton’s second-in-command Lieutenant Henson (Victoria Pratt of Mutant X, Cleopatra 2525, Brotherhood of Blood and Journey to the Center of the Earth) keeps the boys and girls playing nice. They need a blood sample of a first generation zombie in order to create a proper vaccine and a missile strike is due in 12 hours.  Her character was at least feasible but only because she has actually gone through weapons training.

I think the biggest complaint I have overall were the film flubs and the inconsistency.   Ellis loses and gains blood on his face during a poorly edited chit-chat with Morgan.  Continuity director fell asleep there.  Zombies are either moving at a fast clip or they travel at the speed of curdled milk.  They sneak about or they bum rush.  Pick something and stick with it.  The power is supposed to be out and all but some areas are too well lit and others almost pitch black.

The elite special ops team is co-ed for some reason but my biggest issue is the overweight or more specifically out of shape comic relief O' Conner (Steve Monroe of Austing Powers: International Man of Mystery, Cast Away and Miss Congeniality) whose weight limit is barely allowed for basic infantry but special forces?  Sticky's character whips around with his flashlight to check on O' Conner but the flashlight is still attached to his weapon... with live ammo... and his safety was off.  Big tactical no no that any armed forces member is screaming foul.  My other pet peeve is Sid's screen time or lack there of it dammit.

Guess Sci-Fi Channel (I refuse to type it the current spelling) didn’t bother with a weapons and tactics trainer because the Special Forces team look as threatening as a group playing paintball.   No direct correlation with the previous film so this is sequel in name only.  Save yourselves!... from wasting any time devoted to this "movie".

Zombification is now classified as Beiber Fever.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sid Haig Week: Warlords

Welcome back for Day 3 of Sid Haig Week.  Hey, let's get away from the women in prison subgenre because... well there is so many implied violence on women my stomach can endure.  Yeah, I know I lost the better chuck of the male readers but so be it.  Instead how about a nice slice of post-apocalypse instead?   Where might makes right, governments and police are gone and the weak will be stomped on.   Sounds far more wholesome by comparison.  This is Warlords.

*hic* Line Please!

First off our motion picture is brought to us by Corman protege Fred Olen Ray so expect jiggly girls, nudity, pointless sex scenes and a very low budget.   When a class act director's collection hails from film as: Evil Spawn, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Alienator, Dinosaur Island, Bikini Drive-In and Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfolds, expect panache.    Well I'd rather have five teeth pulled out of my head but let's get this pain started already.    The world has ended according to the stock footage of nuclear testing, scale models with stills of wreckage and mayhem and only a few will survive.  Most died in the cities, few have retreated to the desert (where it is cheaper to film and you can drag in some thrashed cars) for the simpler life.   We catch up with a very paltry car chase scene in which we met Danny (Dawn Wildsmith of Evils of the Night, Prison Ship, Commando Squad, Surf Nazis Must Die, Future Force and Alienator) a harsh woman with well manicured fingers, make up looks spot and and hair is 80's frizzed.  

The secret Tusken Raider slave trade.

She deals with these raiders in short working order, steals their car and is on her way when she meets Dow (David Carradine of Shane, Kung Fu, Death Race 2000,  Thunder and Lightning, The Serpent's Egg, Deathsport, Circle of Iron, North and South, Future Force and Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat) causally strolls into shot, armed to the teeth.  They tootle around in their stolen rust heap Nova until the radiator hose gives and then it's on foot and let me tell you have not seen such chemistry since Spencer Tracy and Kathrine Hepburn.     Sorry, I meant you haven't seen such lack of chemistry since Bossom Buddies.
Our tiresome twosome wander into the hills as a band of marauders, excuse me mutants (decked out in German gas masks and leftover Tusken Raider apparel) scoop up a couple of bimbos with obvious saline jobs brought to the Warlord by Beaumont (Ross Hagen of  The Hellcats, Speedway, Daktari, Sidehackers a.k.a. Five the Hard Way,  Gunsmoke and Dinosaur Island) a crafty man that knows where the power is in this region of the states and that is the Warlord (Sid Haig of Galaxy of Terror, The Aftermath, Fantasy Island, Commando Squad, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Halloween and Brotherhood of Blood) and he supplies him with women and guns.

Sid Haig: Lord of the Apocalypse.

Dow reveals to Danny that he has a disembodied robot head as a early warning device, navigation and more than a few weapons when he cannot get close for hand-to-hand with his martial arts.  He is searching for the Warlord that took his wife (Brink Stevens of Slumber Party Massacre, Tales from the Darkside, The Jigsaw Murders, Spirits, Bad Girls from Mars, Teenage Exorcist, Roots of Evil and Illicit Dreams 2)
Will Dow find his wife and claim his revenge against the Warlord?  Will Beaumont be given his just desserts?  Can they find a car that lasts more than 2 miles?

Here some trivia on our amazing moving picture.  This flotsam was shot in ten days.  The demolished tank in the opening credits sequence was a MBT-70, a joint West German/American prototype of the late sixties, early seventies that did not make it past the initial creation.

Once again our cinematic creation was filmed on location via Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park in Agua Dulce, California because this means you require very little in the way of props to show a post-apocalyptic film.  Miles of desert in all direction except where the plot should be.

Stock footage... OF THE FUTURE!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sid Haig Week: The Big Bird Cage

Howdy folks and welcome back for Day 2 of Sid Haig Week.  Well seeing yesterday I was not burned in effigy or in actual life I think it is safe to continue on to another Jack Hill movie that oddly enough is also similar to a women in prison film, Roger Corman didn't want Jack Hill to feel stuck in this subgenre so overall they decided to make this more of a parody and still shoot it in the Philippines as well as make use of the star power of both Pam Grier and Sid Haig with more predominate roles.  This is The Big Bird Cage.

Must remain bland. No emoting.

Our episodic opens with a gathering of scantily clad women working in a farming community under heavy guard interspersed with shots of sassy, free wheeling socialite Terry (Anitra Ford of Price is Right, The Love Machine, Where Does It Hurt?, Messiah of Evil, Invasion of the Bee Girls, Wonder Woman and The Longest Yard) an American tourist that decided to visit a remote portion of Central America to flirt and entice the prime minister and found her self in trouble with the government for such.  She is boated out to a obscure prison comprised of mostly bamboo (not commonly grown in Central America) forced to work the sugar cane crops for a ancient mill that looks as about as safe as holding onto a lit stick of dynamite.   The guards are corrupt and ruthless and their Warden, Zappa (Andres Centenera of Brides of Blood, Beast of the Yellow Night, Women in Cages, Black Mama White Mama, Super Gee and Black Mamba) is not above using his slave labor to the breaking point and even death keep his order.   Wow, fighting off the urge for a Frank Zappa joke is hard.

Man, normally you have to pay big time to roll around in the mud with Pam Grier.

Among these prisoners are two revolutionaries Blossom (Pam Grier of The Big Doll House, Black Mama White Mama, The Arena, Coffy,  Scream Blacula Scream, Foxy Brown and Jackie Brown) a buxom bad girl that doesn't take any crap from man or woman.  Hell even the gods are on edge about this doll.   She and her radical leader Django, no not Franco Nero or Jamie Foxx (Sid Haig of Fantasy Island, The Fall Guy, The Forbidden Dance, Jackie Brown, House of 1000 Corpses and House of the Dead 2) who watched a plan to get into the prison to raise an army against the government by fumbling a robbery at a night club.  Terry attempts an escape at this time and is damn near um... violated by a crazed mob of men when she is saved by the outlandish and over the top gay guard Rocco (Vic Diaz of The Thirsty Dead, The Pacific Connection, Cover Girl Models, The Dirty Half Dozen, Too Hot to Handle, Totoy Bato, Sudden Death, Vampire Hookers and Death Force) who I swear the uncanny resemblance to Peter Lorre is staggering.

Gaining the support of the other women, Blossom ensues a riot that throws the guards off their balance and the fireworks really begin it only true blue exploitation can manage.    Will our prisoners get out, get revenge and flee for the hills?  Will working for Django be any better or worse?  How come Anitra Ford got imprisonment for being of loose morals?

And now some wild facts about the flick at hand
Jack Hill and Roger Corman both decided this film was to be a spoof to make it stand out from the other entries of the WIP subgenre.  Andres Centenera wanted to be brought to the set in a limousine.   As Terry is being taken to the prison by boat, the very cove she is dropped off at is the same location as the Kurtz compound in Apocalypse Now six years later.  Turns out it is easier to film a movie about Vietnam in the Philippines.  Who knew?

Several frames had to be cut during the riot as one of the prison guards was being ravaged by several of the female inmates and would have wound up with an X rating.  Shocking that.

Gob-smacking amounts of nudity and violence aside, Haig and Grier are really a great combo together and play off each other well.  Their scenes are what make this film enjoyable although I could have done without their lovemaking scene.

Debbie, you have credits all over you. Scrub up.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sid Haig Week: The Big Doll House

Well hello there folks and welcome to Sid Haig Week and what say we start this off right and classy??   So of course as we should kick this week off with a women in prison flick of course.  Yes the delights of a tropical locale of unknown origin, lesbian forceful guards, corrupt warlord and the horrors of addiction and political affiliation.   This is The Big Doll House.

Girl, you know I'm foxy.

Grear: You son of a spoiler! This is for Bodine,  You're rotten, Harry.  You know why?  'Cos you're a man.  All men are filthy.

This film is typical one of the cliche filmed in the Phillippines and yet held in some republic in South America.  Collier (Judith Brown of Threesome, Women in Cages, Slaughter's Big Rip-Off, Willie Dynamite, A Woman for All Men, International Assassin and House Calls) arrives to the prison with four other women as she is in for killing for her husband.  With the different personalities, cultures, and races there are constant fights during dinner which constantly tortured or disciplined lead guard Lucian (Kathyrn Loder of A Cry of Angels, The Big Doll House, Night of the Witches, Foxy Brown and Far Out Space Nuts) and Miss Dietrich (Christiane Schmidtmer of Stop Train 349, Ship of Fools, Boeing, Boeing, Scream, Pretty Peggy, Airport 1975, The Specialist, Half a House and The Giant Spider Invasion) the head warden couldn't be bothered to care one iota.

Damn girl, why ya gots to be cruel?

They have had enough of the abuse.  Her cellmates Alcott (Roberta Collins of Women in Cages, Sweet Kill, The Unholy Rollers, The Roommates, Wonder Women, Caged Heat, Three the Hard Way and Alias Big Cherry) and Bodine (Pat Woodell of 77 Sunset Strip, Petticoat Junction, Bunny and Claude: We Rob Carrot Patches, Class of '74, The Roommates and The Woman Hunt) agreed to help break out.  They need the aid of Grear (Pam Grier of Women in Cages, Cool Breeze, The Twillight People, Hit Man, Black Mama White Mama, Coffy, The Arena, Foxy Brown, Bucktown, Miami Vice and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey) to coerce the other guards and use these two men who brought market produce and Fred (Jerry Franks of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and The Big Doll House)  and Harry (Our boy Sid Haig of Forty Days of Musa Dagh, The Fall Guy, Misfits of Science, Commando Squad and Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II) end up reluctantly helping them escape with arms.

A few comments to make at this time.

Jack Hill brings $125,000 as a budget and managed to gross over ten million dollars and amusingly 3 million in VHS rentals.  This was Pam Grier's first big acting role.   Because Brooke Mills (Harrad of The Big Doll House) was a trained ballet dancer. Hill added a dance sequence just to capture her on film.

 The infamous line "Get it up or I'll cut it off" line was improvised by Jack Hill and Robert Collins making this psychotic glance in her eye wielding a knife and nailed it. The line that is.

Hey, I am talking to you!

Sid Haig Week

Welcome and hello ladies and gents.  I have noticed a decline in reading and a few commentaries about the subject matter.  By all means, give me some suggestions.  I can always use them.   This week we read up on a few fellow from California bitten about the acting bug and attended the Pasadena Playhouse for two years and made his way to Hollywood and cut his first teeth in a student film by Jack Hill called The Host.   Jack Hill found a certain charisma in this man as well as an actress Pam Grier and proceed to appear in five of his films and made his way into TV series and even  A-list films and this fellow himself states after 40 years of carrying a gun he was finally acknowledged for something other than a thug or gunsel and Quentin Tarantino and Rob Zombie both grew up on this man's exploitation films and found him to be clever, far more intelligent than he was perceived.

I am a wild and crazy guy!!

This actor standing at a menacing 6'4" almost sullen look about him is Sid Haig.   He landed more than its fair share degree of Westerns, Science Fiction and Cop Dramas since 1959 and has been considered landmark programs such as: Batman, Star Trek, Mannix, The Six Million Dollar Man and Police Woman.   Almost 75 years of age he has survived in TV and movie for more than 50 years as he had been an assistant director, worked over 350 TV series and more than 40 films gives testament to a career.  Does he view himself as a successful actor?  No but he has a work ethic.

The Manson Family outing.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Werewolf Week: Cursed

Well hello there and welcome to Day 5 of Werewolf Week and I am told by a reliable source (my Mom) that the last day's film will leave me reeling (film pun) from disappointment.  But, but but... it's a Wes Craven flick and we all know those are brilliant!  Well... except The Last House on the Left. Yeah, that was pretty painful.  Oh and The Hills Have Eyes II but he was under contract for that... oh wait, I hated Shocker as well.  Hmm, come to think of it I was not a fan of Vampire in Brooklyn.  Oh dear, this may suck more than a black hole.  Well let's see a gaggle of youngsters contend with lycanthropes and see if they are not one-dimensional.  Oh crap, Kevin Williamson is writing this as well.   This is Cursed.

Kyle: Whoa, hey Ellie.
Kyle: Hey, '70s retro week is spoiling up. Do we want Keith Partridge or Marica Brady?
Ellie: Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

Suffering the evils of being neutered from its R rating and into a PG-13 to get more butts into the theater our story begins thus, in Los Angeles (Haven of all werewolves apparently)  two friends Jenny Tate (R& B artist Mya of In Too Deep, Haunted, Chicago, James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing, Shall We Dance, The Heart Specialist and Cover)  and Becky Morton (Shannon Elizabeth of American Pie, American Pie 2, Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back, Thir13en Ghosts and Catch a Christmas Star) at what looks like Santa Monica pier to get their fortune told about a boy.  No, not whether the movie About a Boy will be any good because it was.  Zela (Portia de Rossi of New York Daze, Scream 2, Girl, Ally McBeal, The Glow and I Witness) warns them of impeding danger and a terrible fate awaits them both.  Annoyed at this information the two girls scoff, snark and take off. Becky gets behind the wheel and is hell bent for leather when she realizes that Jenny isn't with her.

Meanwhile Ellie (Christina Ricci of The Addams Family, Casper, That Darn Cat, Buffalo '66, 200 Cigarettes, Sleepy Hollow and All Over the Guy) drives down to the same pier to pick up her brother Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg of The Village, The Education of Charlie Banks, Zombieland, Camp Hell, 30 Minutes or Less and Now You See Me) and end up hitting an animal as well as another car.  

 Seeing the car is almost off Muholland Drive and about to be Muholland Falls, Ellie tries to save Beck when she is dragged out of the car and ripped asunder by a creature or creatures unknown and both Ellie and Jimmy have claw marks on them, lucky to be alive.   The police interview them both and their brilliant deduction was it was a cougar attack.  Yet not booze or risque panties on the scene.  Oh, wrong cougar.

Cops are persistent on ticketing!!

 Jimmy refuses to believe it was a large cat but actually some sort of wolf and starts researching about wolves in California.  Yes, they are  abundant in Cali but not normally predators towards humans.    Ellie starts feeling different, almost feral in someways she cannot describe and darn near ravages her boyfriend Jake (Joshua Jackson of Dawson's Creek, Urban Legends, Americano, Bobby, Battle in Seattle, One Week and Fringe) and Jenny apparently did not get vaped as we thought or it was eluded to but dies after an awkward moment at a party when she hits on Jake in front of Ellie.  

Ellie and Jimmy both notice the tendencies in themselves and Jimmy's hand is burned by a silver cake server.  Their dog attacks Jimmy, tasting his blood and becoming a were-creature of his own tearing around the neighborhood.    Who cursed them?  How can they end it?  What of Timmy stuck in the well?

Okay, and now the trivia, facts and critiques of the movie.

Because of the PG-13 edit, most of the story is a bit baffling and because the Weinsteins wanted more rumps in seats and the CGI seems incoherent in the transformations.   I noticed the size of said werewolf and was amused to find horror character actor Derek Mears as the creature.  Oh and less we forget the cameos of Craig Kilborn, Lance Bass, Bowling for Soup and Scott Baio?    Why was this needed?   One could argue to round out the story and surprise the audience but that one would be drug out in the street and beaten to death with a clown hammer.

 This production got stalled due to a re-write so cast member that Craven had worked with before got cut from the project.  Several of the filmed scenes due to the re-writes had to be scrapped as well.
The high school used as their set is Torrance High oddly enough used for as "West Beverly High" for Beverly Hills, 90210 and Sunnydale High for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Man that district is brutal.

Kevin Williamson has just made the Howling with Scream formula turning Joshua Jackson into Skeet Ulrich's character, the dependable pretty that turns out to be a monster and Ricci is playing Neve Campbell's character trying to defend herself and those she cares for.  So yeah, methinks his muse is on permanent hiatus.

On a side note it was shown that Ellie (Ricci) worked as crew for the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn but by the time the film was released in February 2005, Kilborn had left the show and Craig Ferguson picked up the spot and he and Jeff have dominated the wee hours since!!!

Phew, I smell a bad script!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Werewolf Week: Half Moon

A big hi there to all intelligent life and as for the rest of you, the secret is to bang the rocks together.  Welcome to Day 4 of Werewolf Week brings us to yet another indy that thankfully has heard of camera stabilizers, provides a decent enough story and humanizes its characters.  Is it one for the kiddies?  Well considering it is a tale of the prostitute and the werewolf I am going with no on that one.  With a minuscule budget, very few well known names and an adult actress as a lead most would put this in the soft core rating and call it a day but hold people, this has a plot.  This is Half Moon.

Sorry, floated an air biscuit.  Apologies.

Amusingly enough our story is actually in L.A. as our writer/director Jason Toler takes us out on the hunt via the mean streets with a series of young ladies of the night making ends meet and hopefully their "Johns" won't be psychotic or homicidal when the rumor mill is talking about girls going with a fella and winding up dead.    Two girls are peddling their wares as they chat.  Tammy (Adult actress Nicki Hunter) explains about this client she sees every so often is into a little bondage, passionate and all in all a gentleman.  She watches out for her friend Rose (Adult actress Tori Black) in the hopes that her naivety doesn't get her killed when Tammy gets picked up off the street by a cop.  Rose scared to be alone tonight but knows she has to make her quota for her pimp takes Tammy's gig and hopes for the best.

Gonna be at least $350 if the film crew is gonna watch.

She meets Jacob (Marek Matousek of In with Thieves, Never on Sunday, American Fetish, The Brazen Bull and Pulse of the Indigo) a tall drink of water that as an air of refinement, charisma and taste.  Rose is confused on how this man would ever need a hooker when his charm could seduce even the most frigid of ice queens.    He pays up front for the night, has room service brought in and simply converses with the girl.    Their interaction of course leads to a tame love scene with little to no nudity.  Rose goes to clean herself up when she spies a small satchel with zip ties, rope and tranquilizers leading her to believe this is the killer.     Can Rose get away in time?  Will her pimp demand money from her as she narrowly escapes with her life?  Will Jacob track and hunt her down?

A few words on the film itself.  Being an indy production our director had the right idea in scooping up girls that do not have an issue with nudity.  Using the residing neighborhood and a stage set which doubles as a haunted house once a year worked well as most of the scenes the budget is workable and I was actually pleasantly surprised at the chemistry of Tori and Marek. This film is primarily dialogue driven and sets a nice steady pace with a bit of exposition but moves nice and even.  This is actually little to no gore and the love scene's nudity is light as well.

Admittedly going into this film I am expect the cliches of rampaging beast slays hookers as some sort of easy prey, hooker barely gets away and teams up with cop/werewolf hunter and blah blah blah and this is nothing of that sort at all.  A simple story of a cursed man meeting a lost girl and there in lies a moment of connections of both heart and body.

 Unlike yesterday's shaky cam seizure inducing deluxe, our crew know their jobs, the lines, sound and lighting.  Some decent hand held, little bit of tri-pod and studio camera.   I cannot believe I am writing this but this was actually an enjoyable movie and I hope Tori gets some more movie roles.

Behold! The dangers of masturbation!!! Hairy everything!