Friday, January 30, 2015

Lamberto Bava Week: Demons 2

Welcome back boys and girls for Day 4 of Lamberto Bava Week and man I gotta say I was a bit surprised with this one. Given the reoccurring theme of shock and awe with a shoestring budget I have seen this week, imagine my surprise when a lesser sequel doesn't hold a candle to its predecessor. Seems like a very loosely connected sequel similar to A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, retooling the original work and altering the existing mythos because it is lazy writing in my opinion or just piss poor research of their own material. This is Demons 2.

Gonna pump you up!!!

So everything and everyone in the original film Demons was in fact supposed grounded into reality while this film is a movie within a movie? So we were watching a movie, watching a movie while in a movie??? Crack open your ibuprofen if you need it, because it gets odder. Our story follows pesky teens trespassing into a city that was deserted due to the demon outbreak... so does that mean in that reality, there was a demon/human war and there were severe casualties but they had plenty of time to crank out video documentaries/films about the subject matter? In the sense of it being a sequel it has demons and that is about it.

While we started off in the theater and expanded to the streets in the first film most of Demons 2 takes place in a substantial apartment building. A young couple being sweet and snuggly, a teenager having a birthday party with her friends, a family having some dinner and several musclebound jockos popping a sweat in the basement gym and thankfully the film has told us where everyone is.

Even movie titles want cake too.

A few folks are gazing at the idiot box with the show is focused on demons as the dialogue would have you belief this very thinly affiliation to the first movie and viewing this somehow releases the demons from the TV and into their really real world dimension as they proceed to go sickhouse throughout the apartment. With the athletes using a rudimentary series of makeshift melee weapons to fight, the rest of the building's tenants attempt to flee out of window washer harness, down the fire stairwell and even the fricking elevators to what avail??? Dare they try and hold back the all consuming onslaught of evil? When will self-preservation kick in?

A bit of trivia on our movie of the day.
I was deeply impressed with the practical effects of this film such as: the resurrection of the fallen demon was a wax hand melting and then the film was reversed and the demon popping out of the TV was an actor wearing a mask pressing his face into a screen of latex.

Bobby Rhodes who played Tony the pimp from Demons returned as a different character but yes I did snicker a bit. The demonic boy chasing after Hannah was actually played by adult dwarf actor Davide Marotta (Phenomena, Demons 2, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Passion of the Christ). With a more New Wave and Punk score and soundtrack we have tunes by Love and Rockets, Dead Can Dance, The Smiths and The Cult. What shocked me was seeing 11 year old Asia Argento joins our cast of players. Guess when your dad is the Italian master of Horror, this stuff doesn't phase you. Final vote is choppy editing, far-fetched story and not a single likable character. Sorry folks but the only pro I could find here was the makeup and FX were superior than the first film and that is about it.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lamberto Bava Week: A Blade in the Dark

Hey you crazy kids welcome back for Day 3 of Lamberto Bava Week and it is time for another giallo film. Again, if you are unaware Giallo is the term for Italian thriller which usually follow gruesome murder mysteries, unlikely victims, less than likely sleuths and always a morbid back-story for the killer. Such as it was with Dario Argento's Deep Red and Tenbre, this film is no exception to graphic deaths but is vastly tame for a horror movie's standards.
This is A Blade in the Dark.

Accidents will happen in the kitchen.

Our movie opens with two darn kids daring each other to go down a creepy fruit cellar and suddenly overpowered to neither be seen or heard from again. Working well into the nights composer Bruno (Andrea Occhipinti of Congquest, Bolero, Miranda, The Jeweller's Shop and The Sea Inside) is busting his hump on his latest creation as eerie mood music for a horror movie when he decides to rent a secluded villa so he make work in peace. This manor is enormous and inhabited by many. True to giallo modus operandi, a beautiful young woman Katia (Valeria Cavalli of Bomber,The Tenors, La bocca, Blood and Dust, The First Circle and Mother of Tears) has disappeared and may have been murdered in the villa itself.

So naturally rather that bringing one's suspicions to the cops Bruno proceeds to his own investigations. He ends up dragging Julia (Lara Lamberti of Street Dance, Red Sonja, Garibaldi the General, Aenigma and A Case for Two) his girlfriend that came to visit purely for some implied sex sequences and she is convinced Bruno is putting so much time and effort into finding this girl that clearly he boinking her as well. The investigation points to the horror movie in question. Bruno composes a score about an abused child taunted by bullies that tossed his or her tennis ball down a flight of stairs leading to a darken cellar and he begins to wonder what else this movie will reveal. With a heaping helping of red herrings, dead ends and more murders, Bruno may not be the best investigator on the job, given he has no DAMN experience at it.

All I know is Chopsticks, they're bound to figure out I am lying.

A film that seems to channel Argento as much as Hitchcock the murders have a sense of flair and style as there are no two alike. The clock is ticking down and the cast is being thinned out. Can Bruno figure out who the murder is, why the need for so much blood and what was the reasons behind it all? Is he up for the task? Should he strengthen his skills by playing 221B Baker Street and/or Clue?

Just a few notations on the film now. I was surprised on the control of Bava not showing us extremely graphic death scenes similar to his mentor Dario Argento. That man likes to make a statement that he has been there and it is an elaborate and over the top death scenario. Very brief in the nudity which again I was flabbergasted with considering the incredible collection of ladies for this film. The cat and mouse game was well delivered and really allowed tension to build up. Hell the composure by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis is astounding, offering so many emotions to come flooding from the viewers as suspense builds up over and over again.

My one complaint is I felt the film drug on a bit to meet the obligational release requirement demanding that of a 90 minute or more film. Filmed in 35mm Spherical via Eastman Color, this film does give good suspense, some horrendous deaths and in general some good thrills, chills and blood spills. While I don't recommend you sit down with the kiddies to watch it, again it lack a lot of foul language, nudity or really repugnant deaths.

Green doesn't flatter me like I thought!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lamberto Bava Week: Demons

Hello there, gentle readers and welcome back for Day 2 of Lamberto Bava Week. My fever is down so by God I am hobbling my achy self into a chair to watch this horror that awaits me. With a warped story penned by Lamberto Bava, produced by Dario Argento we can expect some blood, gore and pesky teen deaths toot sweet. This is Demons.

Dinner did not agree with her.

College kid Cheryl (Nastasha Hovey of Domani, Uomo contro uomo, Senza scampo, Volevo i pantaloni and Stay Lucky) is chased in the subway of the Berlin U-Bahn by a man in a mask for the length of two train stations just to give her a flyer to a newly renovated local movie theater. Cheryl convinces her friend Kathy (Paola Cozzo of Demons, Nightmare Concert (A Cat in the Brain, Demonia and Il grande fuoco) to cut classes and head to the movies.

The girls run into of all people, Carl Cabot! I mean George (Urbano Barberini of Otello, Gor, Opera, Gor II and Demons 6: De Profundis) and Ken (Karl Zinny of Pianoforte, Demons, Delirium, Opera, Act of Sorrow and La festa) who take an immediate liking to the girls and end up sitting with them in the theater rows. Not far from them is an elderly couple and a pimp named Tony (Bobby Rhodes of Hunter of the Apocalypse, Hercules, Demons and Demons 2) and his choice hos Rosemary (Geretta Geretta of Smithereens, Warrior of the Lost World, Rats: Night of Terror, Demons, Domino and Bloody Christmas) and Carmen (Fabiola Toledo of Big Mama, A Blade in the Dark, Demons, Brigada central, Taller mecanico and The Color of the Clouds) because Tony knows how to treat his women to entertainment. The film within the film opens with motocross bikes winding their way up to a creepy manor to the tune of Save Our Souls by Motley Crue.

Serial killer or Naruto fan?

Rosemary's face is scratched by a promotional mask that is virtually identical to the mask in the film she starts warping as the festering wound transmogrifies her into this viscous green mucilaginous demon. Rosemary proceeds to start whacking the fellow film goers and they either die or change as well. Pre-From Dusk 'Til Dawn only demons instead of vampires. The theater doors seem to be locked up and not letting anyone out as the survivors work out a way to escape before their numbers are up.

A few finer points on the film. This was shot in 35mm anamorphic widescreen. The dubbing is painful in translation alas Anchor Bay Entertainment doesn't have the film the original Italian dubbing, the soundtrack consists of the most overly used Edvard Grieg composure In The Hall of the Mountain King. Pull it up on youtube and you will be reminded several TV and movie trailers and intros.

Interestingly enough, Motley Crue, Rick Springfield and Billy Idol all added tunes to the movie to bring American audiences in to see the flick. Sadly with a paltry screening Bava did not get the love from the film until VHS rentals of which has given a well-established Lamberto Bava's cult classic following.

The prop motocross bike and sword sequence reminded me stuntman/stunt coordinator Joe Canutt from Boris Segal's The Omega Man as he goes flying up and down the aisles and stairs pinwheeling that sword around. From the impressive practical effects, the amount of gore induced story and path of the movie this was a creepy flick which ensures I get less sleep tonight assuming my cold doesn't do that as well.

My floor length skirt and I sense danger!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sorry gang...

Good evening and let me just say that I am sorry for not continuing Lamberto Bava Week today as I have a severe head cold that is making my brain hurt and constant coughing.   I am taking my Sudefed and helping myself to many a Ricola.   Hopefully I will feel better tomorrow and we will tackle another film of the Lamberto Bava creations.

Again very sorry but I feel like hammered crap right now.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Lamberto Bava Week: Macabre

Felicitations to you, my readers and welcome to Day 1 of Lamberto Bava Week. Now today's movie took a bit of searching but we are not going on about it because I found it in less than a half hour. With alternative titles at the ready, different regions of the planet know a film by one title or another and so on. With a bit of luck and persistence I managed a copy that was English dubbed and not subbed. To be honest, I would have preferred the subtitles. With a simplistic yet twisted tale underway it is no wonder to this critic how Bava got a fan base. This is Macabre a.k.a. Frozen Terror.

Mmm, the pool boy has been working out.

Based in the city of New Orleans, our film is based on a true story that happen 5 year prior to its creation. An adulterous housewife (No, not Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria or Marcia Huffman) Jane (Bernice Stegers of The Great Riviera Bank Robbery, The City of Women, Xtro, Sky Bandits, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Atlantis) is out and about when the husband is gone leaving her eldest child Lucy (Veronica Zinny of Macabre) to watch her little brother whilst Mommy gets her groove on. Being the ever observant and nosy kid that most can be, Lucy goes through Mommy's blackbook at a little apartment that is reserved for booty calls, scorns her mother and then proceeds to have a psychotic look in her eye. No sooner is Jane enjoying some heat beneath the sheets that Lucy convinced little brother to play with a sail boat in the tub... then drowns him as he is the favored child so therefore MUST PERISH!!! Yeah, not sure the moral lesson here but I also choose to not look into it.

Jane finds out her little boy has shuffled off this mortal coil, she and her man candy Fred (Roberto Posse of Nazi Love Camp 27, Eyes Behind the Wall, Rock 'n' Roll, In the Lost City of Sarzana and Trhauma) dash out the door, speed off in a mid-60s Volkswagon Bug to the traumatic setting when yammering about woulda, coulda, shoulda causes Fred to crash the Bug and decapitate himself with a rather conveniently placed guard rail not fully installed yet.

Oh, no I am not Paul McGann.

We then shoot ahead one year later to the local whacko I mean asylum where Jane has been recovering heads back to the same apartment as it is apparent that former hubby wants NOTHING to do with the woman negligent for his daughter and dead son. Her former landlord has passed away but her blind son Robert (Stanko Molnar of Allonsanfan, Padre pardone, A Blade in the Dark, Francesco and Area gialla) is keeping the place tip-top while still writing music and longing to drill Jane.

Lucy of course makes several visits throughout the movie as both of them are still recovering from all the crazy crazy of the first 12 minutes of the film when Lucy is convinced she hears her mother talking with someone while listening to Fred's albums and gadding it up around the living room or bedroom. Though separate investigations, both Robert and Lucy know Jane has a man in her life that clearly rocks her world but have not seen hide nor hair of him. Where does he come from? What are his hobbies? Does he simply appear like some modern day incubus, takes Jane in whatever fashion he wants and then heads home?

A few things to note on this movie.

While the pace of this film is slow I felt it ratcheted up the tension, showing insanity in both the mother and daughter for different reasons but it does have the feel of made-for-TV movie in its overall execution. The topic itself is fairly morbid it does not fall into a Joe D' Amato's women in prison, cannibalistic monster feel of sleaze and schlock as it is tastefully done. The brain tends to fill in the blanks of this bizarre source material. I will warn you up front yes there is a fair degree of nudity but the most important aspect of the movie is the girl dubbing Lucy's voice you want to fricking strangle. It is the sound of Satan being castrated in a megaphone factory. I'd rather here Chris Tucker screaming in the throws of passionate sex than have to hear that young girl's voice again. Dark story matter done well and creepy as hell.

Yorick's getting some action!

Lamberto Bava Week

Well hello there readers and welcome back to the madness I churn out on the screen. Now last week we all enjoyed a fair degree of style and substantial body of work with Timothy Dalton Week.
It however is that time again... to bring to light another Italian horror director of obscurity via the states and fairly across the pond. Lamberto Bava!!! Now, before you all query,"Who??" I would point out some of the significant titles he has done such as: The MST3K beloved Devilfish, Demons, Demons 2, Macabre and many more...

Headshot of horror!!!!

To give you a bit more scope of our subject of the day, I would point out that Bava is third generation Italian horror as his grandfather Eugino Bava was a camera operator and optical effects man during the silent cinema era. His father Mario Bava cut his teeth in early special effects designing, cinematography and even directing himself. Some titles like: Erik the Conqueror, Black Sabbath, The Evil Eye, Blood and Black Lace and Kill Baby, Kill. It is on the set of Planet of the Vampires, Lamberto worked as his father's personal assistant that he got the directing bug as well but he still needed to learn the fundamentals of film making. With his father he worked in the TV movie I giochi del diavolo (The Games of the Devil) of which Lamberto wrote the screenplay and he and his father directed.

Later on both men worked with Dario Argento in Inferno and Tenebre. This allowed Lamberto the freedom to shoestring budget his own thrillers Macabre and Blade in the Dark giving him a building block background for directorial he later handled the action movies Blastfighter and sadly went on to do Devilfish as a director for hire and was not responsible for the tremendous amounts of plot holes or trying to make Italians appear as Florida natives.

By 1985, his genius was recognized with a joint effort with Dario Argento producing Demons giving him international acknowledgement and success that he has continued in his family's legacy to disturb and warp minds with vivid imagery, well-molded characters and coherent storylines. Y'know, stuff that Paul W. S. Anderson shys away from. Here is hoping we all have some fun with this week and enjoy some more Eurohorror!

Deadite Jim Carrey!!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Timothy Dalton Week: Licence to Kill

Felicitations good readers and welcome to Day 4 of Timothy Dalton Week and here's to a fun week thus far. As many of you know, Dalton wore the guise of Bond only twice given the delays, arguments and lengthy litigation causing the grinding halt of the third movie. While waiting for this to right itself, he was kept busy with Christopher Columbus: The Discovery but ultimately lost the role to Gerard Depardieu Columbus movie causing bankruptcy. Thankfully the mini-series: Scarlett had appeared in time and gave him the funding needed for the year as well as endearing himself to the American public allowing him to grace the small screen. Tired of the run-around and the need for new challenges for his acting chops. He took his leave and forfeited his latter three Bond movies. This is Licence to Kill.
Gasp!  Bond gets the girl!

In route with Felix Leiter's (David Hedison of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Romance Theatre, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, The Colbys and Mach 2) impending nuptials, He and Bond (Timothy Dalton) get a tip that known druglord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi of The Goonies, Die Hard, Maniac Cop 2, Predator 2, Profiler, Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence and Night Trap) with James at his side, they manage to capture Sanchez before he made it to international waters, dropping him in the clink and arraigning him for prison as the groom and best man made it in the nick of time for the wedding. The happy couple are ended abruptly as Sanchez was released at a costly amount dispatches Leiter's wife and leaves Leiter to a man eating tiger shark. The joint effort of CIA and DEA found Leiter and informed Bond.

Not on assignment, Bond proceeds to look into Leiter's attack and Sanchez's miraculous escape, creating some international incident with local PD, and CIA. So much destruction and mayhem causes MI-6 agents to accompany M (Robert Brown of Kill Me Tomorrow, Ivanhoe, Shake Hands with the Devil, It Takes a Thief, Escape by Night, Octopussy, A View to a Kill and The Living Daylights) to collect Bond, bring him in for questioning, reprimand and cancelling his authority as a Double O. Our seasoned veteran disables his fellow MI-6 agents without killing them and fled into the day.

So who is this Kaiser Soze anyway?

Trailing the money, Bond encounters Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto of Licence to Kill, The Mambo Kings, Hostage, Harts of the West, Mortal Kombat, Spy Hard, Vampirella and The Island of the Dead), Sanchez's gilded lover who warns James to not anger a man as powerful as Sanchez but Bond views this as a matter of honor for his fallen friend. Managing to get a hold of Sanchez's laundered money and finding more information for the lovely CIA agent Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell of Club Paradise, Me and Him, Sleepless in Seattle, A League of Their Own, Leaving Las Vegas, Fierce Creatures and Law & Order), which of course requires a fist and fire fight and naturally she is smitten by James and well... you know how that works. Will James be able to thwart Sanchez? Can he get his revenge? Will he ever return to MI-6??

Just a few observations at this time. This is a loosely re-write of Live and Let Die dealing with political corruption fueled by a drug cartel that only Bond seems to be able to handle. While I am not a huge fan of this era getting away from the latter Roger Moore standing, this is a vastly underrated Bond movie, providing both an amazing pace of action and story with a solid running time of 130 minutes. Granted the truck chase scene took a bit longer for my tastes but all in all, it was a good flick.

The most impressive aspect of this movie was Robert Davi's villain was not camp but sinister and on par with Bond's convictions and morals. A well flushed out character bringing his "A" game for it. Director John Glen is a pro at this game with Bond films (For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, Checkered Flag and Christopher Columbus: The Discovery) as well as an editor for several of them gives time, love and effort and in this critic's humble opinion felt he did the name of Bond justice. Besides how many films can you say have Wayne Newton and Benicio Del Toro's film debut?

Truly miss my Beretta. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Timothy Dalton Week: The Doctor and the Devils

Welcome back for Day 3 of Timothy Dalton Week. Today I found a horror film that Dalton was in. Oh yes it does exist and of all craziness stars Julian Sands, Johnathan Pryce, Stephen Rea, Twiggy and Sir Patrick Stewart. Where in the fresh hell could I have found this concoction of terror and talent? Well truth be told, I just looked on Dalton's filmography on IMDB, did some searches for the movie and boom. Yeah very light research on this flick. This is The Doctor and the Devils.

Class is dismissed and I need a vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred.

From the awesome power of Freddie Francis, director of such classics as: Day of the Triffids, Nightmare, Hysteria, The Deadly Bees and Dracula Has Risen from the Grave comes the tale that is actually based on a Dylan Thomas screenplay following the real life murder cases of William Burke and William Hare. These two men supplied fresh cadavers for scientists to study anatomy on during the Victorian Era in Scotland. Yes these two unscrupulous men would deliver fresh bodies to scholars because at the time of these studies, donation to science was deemed ghoulish and only convicted felons that were executed were allowed to be used for discovery, anatomy and physiology.

Doctor Thomas Rock (Timothy Dalton) , a brilliant scientist holds lectures by day to enlighten his students but is dissatisfied, forced to work on weeks old convicts that will not teach him anything new and exciting on the subject of death. To hone his skills of his profession he needs fresher bodies to work on given refrigeration is still in its infancy. His assistant Doctor Murray (Julian Sands of Warlock, Boxing Helena, Witch Hunt, Timecode, Rose Red and Blood and Bone) toils with what can be done when a pair of disreputable men approach him in a tavern offering their despicable talents for retrieval of the freshest of corpses. Yup, grave robbery.

Blast, we've been nicked!

Mr. Fallon (Johnathan Pryce of Voyage of the Damned, Loophole, Timon of Athens, Jumpin' Jack Flash, Ronin and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) and Mr. Broom (Stephen Rea of The Crying Game, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, The Break, In Dream and V for Vendetta) tend to this need against the increasing fierce competition with the added bonus that they manage to find the freshest of bodies to be worked on make more than a pretty copper.

Doctor Rock is conflicted with the immorality of this offer but the chance to having a chance to evolve his findings and elevate his science to a practice that will bring information for generations to come. The very building blocks of medicine hang in the balance as he must argue with his superiors on a regular basis, he becomes obsessed with his work, overlooking his newfound body snatchers in order to drive the advancement of science out of the dark ages and to the upper echelons of science as it belongs... but where are all these bodies hailing from??? How is it Fallon and Broom manage to acquire them so easily with little fuss or muss??

A few interesting tidbits for the lot of us Yankees. While shot in clearly Edinburgh Scotland there is not a single Scottish accent aside from Patrick Stewart's Professor Macklin. Everyone else manages a bit of Cockney and proper English so you get the feel you supposed to be in London but still confused overall. Julian Sands' character feels redundant as he does not really bring much to the screen, no fault to Sands, it is just a small role for a good actor to shine through. Twiggy enacts as a lesser prostitute but the vibe is we could have put anyone in this role and does not bring much to the table. I cannot say who was my favorite out of this movie because Pryce and Rea steal the show but Dalton's presence is felt throughout the film. All three of these men gave so much life to their parts.

The interesting bit for the Americans that Mel Brooks' company Brookfilms produced this Gothic tale and it was actually quite disturbing and entertaining at the same time. This being one of the first horror movies to be produced by Brooksfilms to follow directly after would be David Chronenberg's The Fly. With this dark fable written by one of greatest obsessed minds of the 20th century, this is a gem hidden at the rental shelves for too long. Thankfully it has been out in DVD since 2005 and on Blu-Ray since October 2014 via Shout! Factory.

Sir, I think I dropped my signet ring in her spleen.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Blog 650!!!! Timothy Dalton Week: Antony and Cleopatra

I bid you all greetings and welcome to the return of Timothy Dalton Week. First off I would like to apologize for my lack of a write-up yesterday. My computer was infected with a Trojan (virus, not an ancient warrior nor a condom) and it took 5 hours for me to figure out what the bloody, bloody hell was wrong with it. By that time, I didn't even want to look at my screen much less view a film and give a comprehensive review on it. Today however is another day and we shall tackle a play adaptation, with the notion of a live play performance of an ancient love story that deals with honor, duty, love and betrayal. This is Antony and Cleopatra.

Your beard doth tickle.

Penned by William Shakespeare, this particular play has no such thing as a bit part in it. It is all encompassing and filled with drama, tragedy and good cheer. Our gentleman Timothy Dalton has the role of Marc Antony and an odd choice is Lynn Redgrave (The Bad Seed, My Two Loves, Chicken Soup, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, My Kingdom and Me, Eloise) to portray the Queen of the Nile, Cleopatra. This is a live performance taped in 1983 from The Royal Shakespeare Company this body of work challenges the whole cast but especially Dalton and Redgrave going from ranging emotions to the complexity of the dilemma they are both in. With the love of General Marc Antony to Queen Cleopatra, as he ignores his duties to Rome smitten by her beauty, charm and wit, she is promised to Octavius Caesar (Anthony Geary of General Hospital, The Young and the Restless, UHF and Fish Tank) the Empire is in dire straights with the Triumvir losing face with the Senate, Antony is called back to Rome to raise awareness that all is in hand and the united leaders have the Empire fully under control.

Is this Shakespeare or a Pinter play? Tempo, dammit!!!

Meanwhile, Sextus Pompey (Walter Koeing of Star Trek, Moontrap, Star Trek: Generations and Babylon 5) plots and schemes to rid himself of the triumvir and proclaim himself emperor while Antony must wed Octavious' sister Octavia (Sharon Barr of Bad Georgia Road, The Dirtiest Show in Town, Nuts, Dark Holiday and Trauma) as a sign of good faith to Octavious and make their households closer together.

Antony speaks with a local soothsayer (John Carradine of Stagecoach, The Unearthly, Kung Fu, The House of Seven Corpses, The Shootist, Shock Waves and Nocturna) who foresees a terrible fate where Antony would go against Caesar... you know by staring out goat liver and entrails. Got me on that one, it just sounds messy and probably smells worse.

With plot and counter-plot running course, each main character are at their wit's end which could ultimately lead to the downfall of the Roman Empire and the Egyptian Dynasty in total war.

Okay a few observations at this time. Historians have LONG since established given Egypt resides in Africa could we possibly get a leading lady of say a skin color a few shades darker than white??? HMMM???!!! Moving on, character actor Earl Boen (The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Curse of Monkey Island, Escape from Monkey Island, Black & White, The West Wing and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty) blew me away as Lepidus caught between the middle of two power hungry men as he watches the triumvir collapse and is helpless to stop it.

Also, Walter Koeing is a far better actor than the Star Trek show or films would exhibit. I saw some of this as Bestor in Babylon 5 but as Pompey he blows you out of the water. Dalton's presence in this play is not merely heard but felt. This is one of those meat and potato roles that comes once in a lifetime and I felt he nailed it. I thought he captured the essence of Marc Antony and did this historic figure justice.

If you are unable to see the live play in your town and neighboring one, I would recommend this as an excellent example of one of the more complex plays by the immortal bard.

We demand surrender of all nuclear wessels at once!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Timothy Dalton Week: The Lion in Winter

Hail and hearty greetings to you all. Welcome to Day 1 of Timothy Dalton Week. It took me a fair amount of time as Amazon Prime is not infaliable but nevertheless I found a copy. Today we look at the adaptation to film of playwright James Goldman (The Lion in Winter, They Might Be Giants, Nicholas and Alexandra, Robin and Marian and White Nights) the visage of King Henry the II of England's political and personal struggles, joys and conflicts. This film marks two interesting facets of conversation, as it is Timothy Dalton's second film and Sir Anthony Hopkins' feature film debut. Believed in many's eyes as one of the highest grossing movies of 1968 and won three academy awards including Best Actress for Katharine Hepburn, this is The Lion in Winter.

Now then, what of Ming of Mongo?

Set in the year 1183 during the Christmas season, King Henry (Peter O' Toole of Lawrence of Arabia, Great Catherine, Murphy's War, Caligula, Creator, Joan of Arc and Troy) spends his latter years grooming and preparing his youngest son, John (Nigel Terry of Excalibur, The Last of England, Edward II, Covington Cross, Rules of Engagement and MI-5) for the right to his throne while Henry's enstranged wife Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn of Stage Door, Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, On Golden Pon and Love Affair) favors their eldest son Richard (Sir Anthony Hopkins of A Bridge Too Far, The Elephant Man, Othello, Silence of the Lambs, Dracula and Nixon) as the one true king.

Don't be such an old poop, Richard.

Great turbulence hits these fair shores as King Phillip the II of France (Timothy Dalton of The Three Princes, The Voyeur, The Executioner, Agatha and Chanel Solitaire), former husband of Eleanor demands his half-sister Alais (Jane Merrow of The Girl-Getters, The Hands of the Ripper, The Patrica Neal Story, Romance Theatre and Accused) be wed or the return of her dowry.
Being one of Henry's many mistresses, Henry plots to deceive Richard with a mock wedding and it will satisfy King Phillip's demands as well but Henry's middle child Geoffrey II and John both plot with Phillip to wage war on England. Appalled at his own sons, King Henry has the lot of them thrown into the dungeon while Alais has his heart and possibly future heirs to his throne.

Will war be on the horizon? Must Henry ask his people to take up arms with him? What is to be done with his traitorous sons?

A few observations now. With its combination of tragedy, drama and witty comedy, the dialogue alone will keep you captivated. The performances of this entire cast will mesmerize you and yes will this is not wholly accurate in fact, this film dares to be entertaining, have an astounding musical score and holds the spirit of the story. Admittedly while I adore Hepburn in all works I have seen her in, I could never have expected this performance of a cunning, bitter woman seeking vengeance on her less than faithful husband and to such meticulous detail. With his sentiment one minute and his bluster the next, you will feel as I did, O' Toole commands the respect of men.

The main castle is the actual Abbaye de Montmajour in the south of France while most of the interior shots was Ardmore Studios in Ireland. With almost seamless transition, blocking techniques and wonderful atmosphere, you forget that films of yesteryear truly set the bar. With director Anthony Harvey (Dutchman, They Might Be Giants, The Glass Menagerie, Player, Richard's Things and The Patricia Neal Story), the story shows all scope of life and what is intertwined with actions and consequences.

The true pain my dear, is starring in a film with Ben Affleck

Timothy Dalton Week

How do all and welcome to the week. You may know this next fellow as Heathcliff via Wuthering Heights, perhaps as Edward Fairfax Rochester, James Bond, Lord President or Alexei Volkoff of Chuck but I first saw the man in question as Prince Barin in Dino De Laurentiis Company's Flash Gordon.
Cannot wait to shave of this mustache.

This man at the age of 16 was a member of Air Training Corps saw a production of Macbeth and decided to become an actor from there on. Leaving school in 1964 he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and while he had not completed his studies in RADA he left to join the troupe of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

Working through BBC in TV his first appearance in film was as Phillip II of France in The Lion in Winter, followed by Wuthering Heights giving him an income allowing him to return to the theater with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Offered the icon secret agent role of James Bond in 1968 for On Her Majesty's Secret Service, our man declined stated Connery was too good to follow after, coupled with the fact he was 25 and felt he was too young for the role.

Told you I was shaving it off.

In 1986, while performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company with Vanessa Redgrave and Sylvester McCoy, Roger Moore retires from James Bond and again this man was approached due to Pierce Brosnan could not escape his ironclad agreement for Remington Steele so our chap is none other than Timothy Dalton put on the tux, wooed the ladies and dealt the beatings to the baddies.

Following his career to Penny Dreadful, this fellow has managed a career spanning 6 decades ranging from drama, action, comedy and even dabbling in science fiction. Hell about the only thing he really hasn't done is horror but don't count him out yet.

This week we shall sojourn into the TV and film works of Timothy Dalton and we will see why he is considered the apex of a proper gentleman of cinema and small screen.   

May keep the beard though.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Puppet Master Week: Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter

Hello there and welcome back to Day 5 of Puppet Master Week. It has been quite the whirlwind with fairly decent writing in spite of a few continuity errors and a path of has bounced our characters through various timelines. I admit having somewhat of a guilty pleasure with this series and so perhaps I am not as critical as I should be. We continue our story arc with the continuation of the 4th movie when a new Puppet Master Rick Myers has gain not only control of the puppets but the blessing of Toulon to continue Myers independent research of the formula in all that it may provide. Of course their is the matter of thwarting Sutekh and that remains to go unpunished in that god/demon's eyes. This is Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter.

Telling you these late night film session are wiping me out.

Oh if only the tagline The Final Chapter held sway or meaning in films. Just ask Jason Vorhees,Freddy Kruger or those damn crocodiles from Lake Placid. After the previous events of Puppet Master 4, Rick Myers (Gordon Currie of Puppet Master 4, Blood & Donuts, Highwaymen and The Dark Hours) is arrested for the deaths of Dr. Piper and Baker, given he would have been the only one with access to either. Motive? Well the police believe it simple enough that they were cutting him out of the grant and potential success his would have. Enter Dr. Jennings (Ian Ogilvy of Withfinder General, Tom, Dick and Harriet, Death Becomes Her, Walker, Texas Ranger, and The Disappearance of Kevin Johnson) who decides in his lack of wisdom to view Rick's story of the happenings of the nights leading up with the discovery of Toulon' formula, the puppets and the chance of those unrivaled treasures to be found, professes to dismiss Rick's claims but clearly sees he did not cause these deaths.

Dane Cook's true form!!

Meanwhile Sutekh, defeated by mere mortals decides to get his claws dirty and creates a new Totem with his own life force attached to it. Apparently he cannot leave Hell without a homunculus or totem. Nothing strikes fear in the heart than a creature maybe 24 inches tall. Suzie (Chandra West of Kindred, The Embraced, The Gates, Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe, Hidden Moon and Played) is by Lauren's side when a vision of Sutekh/Totem appears in the room outlining his intent on Rick, the puppets and Hell probably anything or anyone standing in the way. Unable to reach him, Suzie heads back to the hotel.

Jennings hellbent to get Toulon's formula sends his rent-a-thugs to search the hotel and if needs be, bounce Rick around until he coughs it up. With the spirit of Toulon (Guy Rolfe) warning Rick of the impending danger, the lad rouses the troops and prepares for the intruders and the totem.

Will Jennings get the formula for his own insane lust for power? Will Sutekh unleash a mammoth can of whoop ass? Will the puppets die protecting their new master?

We can converse about some trivia with this film now. An entire day of filming was lost on due to the crew walking off as their paychecks had bounced as a whole. The issue was resolved expeditiously. David Allen of David Allen's Production crew of animatronics and stop motion animation felt this was his final installment to the films. In August 16th, 1999 the man who truly brought the puppets to life passed away.

Torch makes an appearance in this one and yes suspend disbelief for his absence in 4 as we did with Six-Shooter for the first two. 

This movie was shot back to back with Puppet Master 4 due to it was one movie broken into two that Full Moon's own CEO Charles Band was scheduled to direct known as Puppet Master: The Movie. Catchy title to be certain. Guess Puppet Master: The Moving Pictures sounded hokey. As our final scene establishes there is still more to come but for this reviewer, I am done for the week.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Puppet Master Week: Puppet Master 4: The Demon

Greetings my remaining readers. After this week I cannot say I blame you running for the virtual hills but I return for Day 4 of Puppet Master Week. It would appear this time around our fearsome figurines seems to be in the modern age and placed away in their trunk...but for how long? What if hell itself decided to wage war on humanity? What could possibly stave of the denizens of Hell? This is Puppet Master 4: The Demon

Hook shot!!!  Yes, bad pun.

Deep within the bowels of Hell lies a demon known only as Sutekh (just ignore that it is also the Egyptian god of death, war, storms and disorder) who sends a trio of his underlings, constructs called totems to dispatch any and everyone that knows the the secret of animation (So Disney, WB and 20th Century Fox are scared out of their minds), including of course our fellow Andre Toulon (Guy Rolfe of The Case of Marcel Duchamp, The Bride, Dolls, William Tell, Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge and Retro Puppet Master) and his puppets. Caretaker of the hotel Bodega Bay Inn, Rick Meyers (Gordon Currie of 21 Jump Street, Alive, Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter, Forever Knight, Highlander: The Raven and Leap Years) should really read the fine print on this gig, uses the basement region as a makeshift lab into his experiments in artificial intelligence while his mentors Dr. Piper (Stacy Randall of Trancers 4: Jack of Swords, The Assault, From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money and Shade) and Dr. Baker (Felton Perry of Magnum Force, Robocop, Hooperman and Dumb & Dumber) work uninhibited in their lab when they encounter a package holding one of the strange totems that smacks them about and for lack of better term seems to tear their souls from their bodies.

Val Kilmer has really let himself go.

Meanwhile that is happening, Rick's buddies Cameron (Ash Adams of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Lionheart, Puppet Master 4 and Once Fallen), Suzie (Chandra West of Viper, Something More, Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms, Forever Knight, Night Terrors and Highlander) and Lauren (Teresa Hill of Puppet Master 4, Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter, Models Inc., Raging Angels, Bio-Dome and Twin Falls Idaho) to hang out and typical get wasted when Rick tells them of the puppets that seem almost lifelike and similar to his and proceeds to awaken them with the formula. Now this is where it gets nutty. The formulas hails from Egypt from a band of sorcerers that were loyal to Sutekh and anyone using it may anger this ancient power. Oops.

As Rick goes through Toulon's notes he discovers this amazing ability to create stop motion animation, that is animate the puppets and fight alongside them as the totems have come gunning for him. Toulon makes an appearance as a vested spirit to aid Rick in controlling the puppets and reviving Decapitron his darker puppet made specifically for taking out totems... mighty convenient but hey that happens. Will the puppets be able to stop the totems?? Could the totems win? Shouldn't we dust off, nuke the sight from orbit and move on?

A few tidbits on the movie now. David Allen Productions re-apprises its services for the puppets but for some reason Torch was benched and his flamethrower became Tunneler's new laz weapon and he must also be buck bare as his coat made its way on Decapitron. Rushed to finish the 4th installment was supposed to be a longer film be producers wanted the film out ASAP, so Puppet Master 4 became 4 and 5. Similar to the latter Critters movie, one film got sliced in twine and made into 2 movies closely following each other. No nudity to speak of but a fair amount of gore effects that seem well silly in some spots. Your call on this one, readers.

So Hell is connected to Carnie Fun fairs??? Should have known.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Puppet Master Week: Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge

A fine greetings to you all and welcome back for Day 3 of Puppet Master Week. This next installment of the Puppet Master's franchise is pure flashback as Toulon was removed from the Fatherland during the war. We will have to excuse their lack of continuity as Toulon had already fled to the states in 1939 according to the first film so the fact he is in Nazi Germany in 1941 strikes of a goof. This is Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge.

Jester doesn't like this version of Punch N Judy.

Being a brilliant marionette craftsman and puppeteer, Andre Toulon (Guy Rolfe of The Stranglers of Bombay, Yesterday's Enemy, Dolls, Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge, Puppet Master 4, Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter and Retro Puppet Master) entertains the youth of Berlin with puppet shows with political satire of Hitler losing to a puppet named Sixshooter, a cowboy with six arms and six pistols so he is certain not to miss. With him in his theater, his beloved wife of much younger years Elsa (Sarah Douglas of Superman II, Conan the Destroyer, Falcon Crest, The Return of the Swamp Thing, Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time, Babylon 5, Stargate SG-1 and Strippers vs Werewolves)make a decent living until... a little goosestepping tattletale finklestein rats them to the Gestapo.

Head of Gestapo Major Kraus (Richard Lynch of The Sword and the Sorcerer, Invasion U.S.A., Trancers II, Maximum Force, Merlin, Werewolf, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Halloween, Laid to Rest and The Lords of Salem) is offended at the depiction of Hitler and sends his boys over to Toulon when his boy informs him of the formula injections to the puppets bringing them life when the head of Deathcorp (a reanimate project to bring soldiers back to life and return them to the Russian front) insists on conversing with this alchemist and his formula process in order to make his project a complete success. Kraus' men shoot Elsa, clap Toulon in irons and burn his theater as it is an affront to Da Freur. Clearly those equations, reverse engineering and chemical compositions will just slip from Toulon's mouth now.

Gotta move this body upstate.

After his daring escape from the Nutzis, Toulon demands revenge and even turns his late wife's present into Leech Woman... also just suspend disbelief that Sixshooter was not in the original two prior and he uh... got lost in the move to California. There! Moving along we can see the head of Deathcorp is working painstakingly to decipher the formula and finish his work which of course is of the highest order to Da Freur... like Ilsa's death camp, the SS Love camp, Fraulein Devil and Hell let's throw in Werewolf Women of the SS in there as well.

The puppets spring into action and it looks like curtains for the Third Reich as they systematically proceed whip the Nazis make them very sour krauts.

A couple of snippets on the movie now. Several of the key puppets from the first two are given an origin story as well as the formula is explained. David Allen Productions were back and rocking the animatronics as well as the stop motion animation. Principal photography was done in about 18 days. Previously, the crew was scheduled to go to Romania to shoot in 1991 but the political uprising may have put a damper on that and they thought it was to use Universal Studios back-lot instead.

A few historical inaccuracies aside, this was entertaining more-so than the first two. Gore is not ratcheted up to the same level as the previous but it is still bloody and yeah nudity is brief but available, so parents, you have been warned.

Zombie Ted looks on in horror.