Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Images of Halloween!

Here's a little gallery of some of my pictures from Halloweens long past...

My buddy Richard as Dead Oscar Wilde at one of my Halloween parties.

Stephanie as a bloody ghost and Richard out of his Oscar Wilde gear.

Meeting our local Southern Illinois horror hostess Misty Brew.
Misty Brew is back! She has a YouTube channel and is gearing up
new episodes of her show! Amazing! Watch for a post about that!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Halloween Picture, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #186!

Night of the Blood Beast  (American International Pictures, 1958)
I am sure I've seen this - it must have played one of my "Chiller Theater" shows when I was a kid - but I remember nothing about it and would like to see it again. I mean look - you've got Roger and Gene Corman producing a story Gene wrote, and directed by Bernard Kowalski - who helmed the pilot for Mission: Impossible - a man I actually got to briefly meet a few years ago.

The Bonesetter  (Tempe Video, 2004)

I know nothing about this 2003 medical horror flick - the poster is cool, but where are the credits? I do know they managed a sequel in 2005 - so somebody must have liked the first one...

The Skull  (Amicus Productions, 1965)

You can't go wrong with an Amicus movie starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee - especially when it's directed by Freddie Francis - who got the blog spotlight shone on him a few days ago!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sandy Claws!

Blood Beach  (Compass International Pictures, 1980)

Before the Camera:

David Huffman  (Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby)
Marianna Hill (High Plains Drifter)
Burt Young  (Rocky)
Otis Young  (The Last Detail)
Lena Pousette  (Xanadu)
Stefan Gierasch  (High Plains Drifter)
John Saxon  (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Captain Pearson

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Jeffrey Bloom

Produced by Sidney Beckerman, Neil Canton, Steven Nalevansky, and Run Run Shaw

Written by Jeffrey Bloom

Story by Jeffrey Bloom and Steven Nalevansky

Southern California, 1982. The beautiful Santa Monica beach. But something has come to the beach. Specifically, it's under the beach. And anyone on the sand above it is in danger. Whatever is under the beach is dragging people down to their deaths. Police officer Harry Caulder (Huffman) lives on the beach - and he's noticed people are missing. None of his fellow officers - Royko (Burt Young) or Piantadosi (Otis Young) - seem all that concerned - and that goes double for Captain Pearson (Saxon). Caulder starts his own investigation - along with his new girlfriend Catherine (Hill) - daughter of the first victim. Their detective work takes them all over the beach, and eventually - even under it. Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water - you can't get there!

It was a weird thing - a horror boom was kicked off by John Carpenter's Halloween in 1978 - although horror is a diehard genre that never completely goes dormant - and the boom continued into the early 80's, dominated by slasher films. By 1980, however, filmmakers were finally getting creature features greenlit - this, The Boogens, The Strangeness. But here's what is strange about this - these films were for some reason much harder to see than ones made the previous two years. So even a dyed-in-the-wool horror fan like me didn't get to see these movies as a kid or teen. I'm finally catching up with them now.

Blood Beach played at my old hangout Toler Cinema back in 1980 - but I didn't get to go see it - and it  is still hard to find - it's not been fully released on DVD - and the VHS was hard to find back in the day. (It is on Amazon Streaming- touted as a "Retro VHS Presentation" meaning a full frame VHS rip - and they were also dubbing that same presentation on DVD-R's - but those are out of print and the used copies go for $100 or more (!)) I finally got a gray market DVD-R - and after more than thirty years finally got to check the movie out.

I don't think I'm going to surprise you when I say - after all that time - it was a letdown. The movie has a fun premise - but it is slowly paced, and the kills are few and far between. Add in only a little gore, and a creature that stays out of sight until the very end of the movie - and even then is not clearly seen - it doesn't add up to much. Huffman and Hill are okay as the leads - but the other character actor cops are kinda phoning it in, so even their scenes don't bring a lot to the movie - though it's always good to see Saxon.

It's also annoying that since the creature "just kind of showed up one day." That's not dialogue quoted from the movie but instead a line used by Roger Corman hosting a showing of Bert I. Gordon's The Spider on AMC Monstervision some years ago. Corman said that is the explanation for all good monsters. It's a funny line - and obviously stuck with me - but in the reality of watching a movie - it's usually better for me to get an explanation for what the thing is and where it came from. But just like The Boogens - another movie I saw decades later with no explanation for the monsters - this movie falls down in that regard as well. Because there is no human agent behind the creature's creation - and the creature isn't in a multiple form or swarm of monsters (allowing one or more to be killed and studied) the script tries to shoehorn in an explantion - the police scientist (Gierasch) is given the job in the form of crazy evolutionary theories about sea creatures adapting to land and learning to move about on - or under - the ground. This is a neat trick considering he's never seen such a creature - but since there are no other explanations possible the way this is structured - you have to accept that this guy is right - which is just kind of silly - especially as he continues to expound on his theory in ever greater detail as the movie goes on.

Because it is a movie made in that golden period of 1977-1981 - and does give the viewer a good look at Santa Monica at the time - this rates a minor recommendation for those so inclined or creature feature completists. Others can go right on not seeing this one.

Let's Get Out of Here ?

At around 46:40 John Saxon informs everyone the briefing is over.

Eye Candy ?

Marianna Hill is certainly cute - but she is not showcased well here, so no. Sorry Marianna.

Buddha Man Sez:
"Blood Beach sinks under the weight of too little monster."

Until next post - just 24 hours or so from now - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Night at the Movies 10/18/14!

Who cares what picture we see?

Jackwagon producer David Kappes most certainly would not - and what's he doing acting in this anyway? While I try to figure that out, here's tonight's pick...

I worked on this movie - and was delighted it turned out as good as it did. Based on a Stephen King short story - it did end up about the only adaptation of the author's work that he does not cameo in. (I believe he was on deadline writing The Green Mile serial novel at the time.)

There was a part for him in the movie - but I'll save that story for my behind the scenes post for this flick. Here's a preview of that post - fun times on set with Julie Entwisle (Katherine Blair) and Michael H. Moss (Dwight Renfield).

The movie is on DVD in the video vault - and we could be checking it out any time - even tonight - if you don't mind venturing out after dark...you know...when the vampires are out of their coffins...

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Grefe Counselor!

The Jaws of Death (Cannon Film Distributors, 1976)

Before the Camera:

Richard Jaeckel (The Dirty Dozen)
Jennifer Bishop (Horror of the Blood Monsters)
Buffy Dee (Super Fuzz)
John Davis Chandler (Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead)
Ben Kronen (The Wizard of Speed and Time)
Paul Preston (Ordinary People)
Bob Gordon (The Champ '79)
Jerry Albert (Little Laura and Big John)
Richard O'Barry (Hardly Working)
Luke Halpin (TV's Flipper)
Dan Fitzgerald (Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach)
Bob Leslie (Nice Dreams)
Marcia Knight (Darker Than Amber)
Dete Parsons (Flesh Feast)
Dick Sterling (Barracuda)
Mal Jones (The Truman Show)
Jack Nagle (Sting of Death)
Don Sebastian (Super Fuzz)
Courtney Brown (Jaws: The Revenge)
Herb Goldstein (Miami Blues)
Milton 'Butterball' Smith (Stanley)
Harold 'Odd Job' Sakata (Goldfinger)

Behind the Camera:

Directed by William Grefe

Produced by Bob Bagley, William Grefe, Paul Joseph, Robert Plumb, and Doro Vlado Hreljanovic (<---wotta br="" moniker="">
Written by Robert W. Morgan, from a story by William Grefe

After the success of Jaws, sharks became big business. Books, TV shows, and movies all started going a little shark crazy. So, legendary Florida filmmaker William Grefe jumped in on the act with The Jaws of Death (aka Mako: The Jaws of Death). Although the title here is certainly meant to evoke fond memories of Spielberg’s classic – once you get past the title you find the movie is not really a Jaws ripoff at all – no community being threatened; no single shark making a local beach his own all you can eat buffet; no mayor crying about the loss of tourism; no hydrophobic authority figure forced to confront his fear to save the day. No, instead, Grefe brings the world a remake of his own 1972 movie Stanley, which was itself a ripoff of the popular rat movie Willard. So you go from Willard – loner boy befriends rats who he uses to kill his enemies; to Stanley – loner guy befriends snakes who he uses to kill his enemies; to this movie – with a loner guy who befriends – yes, you guessed it – sharks. And guess what he uses them for? Richard Jaeckal stars as Sonny, whose love for sharks is displayed in the opening scene, as he and a toothy pal take out a couple of shark hunters – the shark using his teeth; Sonny using a spear gun.

While we digest this, we follow Sonny home – so he can show off his built-over-the-water house with convenient interior trapdoor opening right into the ocean waters where he throws meat leftovers to his toothy friends and chats with them. We then travel around Florida with Sonny in his ramshackle truck so he can introduce us to the supporting cast. There’s the science geek at the local marine institute; he wants to “borrow” one of Sonny’s sharks for “observation” and scares Sonny with warnings that local authorities may institute a bounty on sharks if they aren’t better understood and soon – so Sonny “loans” him a shark. Local business owner Barney (Dee) has a bar where the main attraction is his own wife (Bishop) swimming around in a special tank with a big observation window behind the bar; he also wants to “borrow” a shark from Sonny to put in the tank with the Mrs with a secret clear plastic screen between them so that it appears she is swimming with the shark to his customers. This guy’s more canny, though: he gets Sonny to sign a release allowing him ownership over the shark. While all of this is going on, two thugs – including one time James Bond villain Sakata – are hunting the stuffing out of the local shark population – and they’re doing it as employees of none other than Barney. While Sonny works on getting the bite put on Charlie & Pete, he discovers the marine institute is vivisecting his pal; and Barney has put a radio transmitter in the tank at the bar – sending powerful hypersonic waves into the water to drive his pal into a frenzy but leaving the better half safe behind her screen. Sonny’s psyche can’t handle all this and the guy simply snaps. Now it’s open season on shark hurting humans, and those finding themselves having a Sonny day wish there was a brighter outlook for their future.

Sharks' eye view of Sonny's digs, with Mrs. Barney looking on.

Despite establishing Sonny’s credentials as a screen psycho with this opening scene, director Grefe works overtime trying to make the audience take Sonny to heart as a misunderstood hero. Every other character in the movie – EVERY OTHER CHARACTER – lies, cheats, steals, and gleefully chuckles about it. This scheme to make Sonny our hero doesn’t work, because no matter how nasty every other character is; no matter how slimy and underhanded and double dealing they are – Sonny is killing them dead. He’s a A-1 nutjob. But, the end result of this is, there are really no likable characters in the movie – not even ostensible Final Girl Jenifer Bishop, and that makes the movie a sleazy grindhouse kind of flick. As a result – I like this movie. It reeks with 70’s Florida ambience; Jaeckal is always a positive presence; the other actors are okay, and Harold ‘Odd Job’ Sakata is in it! And he’s credited in the film as Harold ‘Odd Job’ Sakata!

The poster up above and an opening credit both make much of the cast and crew going into the water with real sharks minus cages or other protective technology. Those ‘in the know’ icthyologically speaking indicate that the bulk of the shark action is handled with the use of nurse sharks, which are relatively docile and non threatening creatures. Whether that is true or not – it is still a production value (if a possibly unsafe and insane one) to have so many people hanging out with the critters without any protective gear. Past that – I can’t really say it’s a good movie per se, but if you like your movies kind of low rent and trashy, I can definitely recommend this one – if you can find it – beware the DVD releases – neither apparently are much of a presentation – both appear to be a VHS dub, with the added funk of one less generation of clarity allowing for maximum murk and soft focus. If you can find it though, check it out!

Let's Get Out of Here ?

Somewhere around 32:18, Jenifer Bishop has had a long night.

Eye Candy ?

Well, I think Jenifer Bishop might qualify under the right circumstances - but this movie is not the right circumstances. Sorry, Ms. Bishop.

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "The Jaws of Death is okay - but you won't
have to be pried away from your television by the Jaws of Life."

Thank you Mr. B to the M - until next post - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Celebrity Endorsement: Kane Hodder!

He's been a stuntman and actor for four decades - and he logged another important four in his career - he played Jason Voorhees four times - more than anyone else ever has - and most likely ever will.

He's also very into his job - and he also enjoys a good pop culture blog now and again...


Thanks Mr. Hodder! I'll buy you a Shock Top next time I see you!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Buddha Man's Screaming Witchcraft!

Scream (Calendar International Pictures, 1981) Fifteen years before Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson's first collaboration glommed onto this title, there was another horror movie yelling for your attention. But just as the 1996 movie came to Scream as a second title - changing from Scary Movie - so did this earlier slasher flick - starting out as The Outing - but seeing release with the more vocal appellation.
I know, right? And you're in this movie!

The story here gives us a group of people taking a white water rafting tour. However, despite a rather lengthy opening sequence, the filmmakers squander every opportunity to actually introduce these people or their relationships to each other. They are just some folks we're forced to assume were randomly thrown together on this tour. Then they reach their destination, which turns out to be a deserted ghost town - I hope this was the economy tour, considering -and they make plans to stay the night. Then, waaaaay into the running time, one of the rafting enthusiasts wanders off by himself and is brutally murdered, only without the common decency to do it onscreen. Then our Nondescript Rafting Club find out that their rafts are damaged or gone and what with being out in BFE, they are now stuck. Eventually a couple of rather mysterious motorcyclists appear and agree to take one of the men to get help. But are they on the up and up? And finally, an old sailor (Woody Strode - The Professionals), appears from nowhere with a black dog and black horse, and gets all Crazy Ralph on the survivors, warning them that they are doomed. Who will survive and what will be left of them?

Woody Strode in and gave out with what might be termed a
Scream-of-consciousness monologue. Then he was gone, and
the movie resumed tanking.

This is another one of those rare movies from back in the day that I never got to see. Finally, decades later, it showed up on disc from Netflix in a newly restored special edition DVD. Having seen it - what was all the fuss? The movie starts off fairly well, with the credits running over some weird doll-like figures in a room filled with weird headless bric-a-brac. Then the plot begins and the movie starts a slow but steady decline. The characters appear on screen - I word it that way to again point out they were in no way "introduced," a common and even dare I say expected occurrence in most movies. Here we just start watching them, and it is quickly obvious that none are particularly likable, smart, or easily identified with, which starts the viewer off at arm's length and then keeps them there. The arrival at the ghost town is okay; seems like it will be a creepy place later; movie is still tolerable at this point. The first murder is fine - a little suspense, fairly spooky. Then, the rest of the group find the body of the victim, who'd made the mistake of wandering off on his own. There is much panicked discussion, but not much is done. Night falls. And what happens? Another character develops a mighty thirst that demands to be slaked, even if the beer cooler is in one of the other light challenged buildings. The guy sneaks over on his own to get his brew - and SPOILER ALERT - he is promptly knocked off. Well, the first guy was unlucky, the second guy was stupid. Okay, it's a little iffy, but I can buy that. Then the movie does the exact same thing not once but twice more! This makes every person onscreen look stupid at best.
Weird bric-a-brac. There, between
this and Woody Strode, you've seen
the best this movie has to offer.
The last of these embarrassing moments gets even bigger in its WTF-ness - somebody wakes up and finds they are completely alone - no one else is in any of the sleeping bags scattered around the dark communal sleeping area. It's actually an eerie scene and would have served as a clever dream sequence, but no! After several minutes of watching this poor sap wandering around the town alone suddenly everyone else comes walking in together from out of the darkness, completely blase and matter of fact despite the fact they left this poor guy sleeping alone in a town where four people have already been hacked to death within seconds of finding themselves sans companions! Was the entire group trying to get this guy killed? At this point the script's stupidity caused the whole movie to hit bottom for me, but I went on and rode it out to the end. Here's what I gained from my stick-to-it-iveness: I got to see the great Woody Strode show up for a useless cameo that achieved nothing except allowing the filmmakers to use his name on the poster; and I got to see the ending, which comes off as smug despite the few answers to the many questions in the minds of the viewers being inadequate at best and nonsensical at worst. I was then left with a much bigger question in my mind - are there truly so many fans of this half-assed movie that it deserves to be resurrected on DVD? I bet you know my answer...

Witchcraft (20th Century Fox, 1964) This is a pretty good little scareflick from Great Britain which gave Lon Chaney Jr. his last quality horror hurrah before he slid into the junk that marred the end of his career.
Lon Chaney Jr. moments before Warren Zevon
saw him walking with the Queen...

Lon plays Morgan Whitlock, the elder paterfamilias of a family descended from a witch named Vanessa. When a construction project buys out the land Chaney's family has been buried in for centuries, Lon gets plenty upset and refuses to have the remains moved. The more unscrupulous business partner desecrates the graves, and wouldn't you just know it? A mysterious woman suddenly pops up at the Whitlock house, and shortly after people start dying in bizarre accidents.

No, she's not Barbara Steele, but she does play
her on TV...

This is old school horror, with no gore, but some good chills. Lon is in fine form, though he attempts no British accent and so stands out a bit among the British cast, all of whom are solid if not familiar (the male lead - Jack Hedley - was in For Your Eyes Only 17 years later). Still in all, it's good to see one of the old horror greats in something with some production value, and it's too bad Lon couldn't have gone out on a note like this 9 years later instead of Dracula vs Frankenstein. Check this one out!

Thank you Buddha me lad! Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!