Monday, May 30, 2011

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday! #19

Happy Memorial Day all!

Let's pay tribute to the troops with today's trio...

Ski Troop Attack  (Filmgroup, 1960)

Roger Corman went out to snowy South Dakota to film this low budget WWII flick. Set in Germany, the story has a small patrol of American soldiers discovering they have a chance to take out a bridge vital to the Axis efforts, and the film details their efforts to make it happen despite roving bands of Nazi ski soldiers. The great thing about this one: Roger enlisted a local high school ski team to populate his ski shots in American and German uniforms. The movie's not great, as the low budget allows more cranky American arguing than battle or action scenes, but all of Corman's flicks from this era are at least worth a look.

Midway  (Universal Studios, 1976)

Once again, Sensurround takes top billing. This is a kind of a weird movie anyway, even if it wasn't enhanced with super sub woofer audio effects. For some reason, Universal decided in 1976 to make a war movie and cut costs by using stock footage from several other war movies, including some shots that were over thirty years old even then! So, half the time in this movie you're actually watching war shots from Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), Away All Boats (1956), Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), and even newsreel footage from 1942, all of it cropped and mashed to fit a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Not sure why they thought no one would notice - but it's glaringly obvious, and despite the all star cast, makes this expensive motion picture seem like an average TV movie of the time.

Zone Troopers  (Empire International, 1986)

Cool poster - note the "borrowed" Twilight Zone font for the title. Charles Band's Empire International produced this neat little World War II flick, giving it their usual high concept twist: a squadron of American soldiers lost "somewhere in Italy" has to fend off both Axis soldiers and aliens whose saucer has landed nearby. A great B movie cast headed by Tim Thomerson and including one of those pesky Van Pattens (in this case, Timothy), Art La Fleur, and Biff Manard make this one an entertaining watch. Sadly unreleased on DVD in an authorized edition, this one has to be tracked down on VHS or bought on a gray market DVD-R to see these days. I wish MGM would put a remastered print on MGM/HD.

LGOOH thanks all of our servicemen past, present, and future for their service, fighting for our freedom and our privilege to enjoy goofy movies!

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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Buddha Man Academy 6: City Under Siege!

The Gold Head is going undercover in the city to unmask the mastermind of movies

Peter Sellers

L.A. Bounty  (Lions Gate Films, 1989)  Mayoral candidate Mike Rhodes (Robert Hanley - Private Benjamin) has been tough on crime throughout his campaign, and as this action flick opens, crime decides to get tough on him. He is kidnapped by several goons working for Cavanaugh (Wings Hauser - Vice Squad) but they don't follow orders and leave Mrs. Rhodes (Lenore Kasdorf - Starship Troopers) alive and kicking. She teams up with police lieutenant Chandler (Henry Darrow - the older Zorro on the 90's TV series) to save her husband. But running interference all over the place, and keeping strictly to her own agenda, is the mysterious bounty hunter Ruger (Sybil Danning - Battle Beyond the Stars). She shows up and starts laying waste to Cavanaugh's men, but whose side is she really on? Will she save Rhodes, or watch him die and consider him collateral damage in her war on Cavanaugh?

Sybil Danning is loaded for bear. And she's carrying a big gun.
The great Sybil Danning went on a hiatus from acting, with this flick from 1989 her last until 2007, when she jumped back in to the game. Not sure what caused the break, as I would have enjoyed more movies like this one from her, but I'm glad she's back in any case. She co-produced and co-wrote this flick as well! As for her onscreen presence, she's still smokin hot today, and brings her hard edged sexy aura to this character with ease - even if she is downplaying her assets in black leather jacket and jeans throughout. She also takes the strong silent route here - with only a few lines of dialogue bitten off at long intervals. (The listing for this film on IMDB claims she only speaks 31 words of dialogue through the whole flick, which sounds about right.) But she's fun as this badass, using a succession of automatic weapons and shotguns against a virtual army of thugs. And what a villain we get here! Wings Hauser has never been less than electrifying in anything I've ever seen him in, even if the surrounding flick lets him down. Thankfully, that does not happen here, as he makes Cavanaugh an A-1 nutjob, nattering to himself at the end of every scene he's in and just making your skin crawl with his amazingly wonderful psychotic performance. He is aided and abetted by some terrific character actors too, including Blog Fave™ Robert Quarry (Count Yorga himself!) and brief bits from Blackie Dammett (Nine Deaths of the Ninja and father of The Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis!) and Branscombe Richmond (the burly mulleted stunt guy who gets pounded on in nearly every action movie and TV show in the 80's and 90's - including Licence to Kill). This was made on a low budget, obviously, and isn't wall to wall action in every frame - but director Worth Keeter keeps things moving and there's some solid stunt work on display. But really, this is all about Danning and Hauser - a team-up made in B movie heaven - so do what you must, but check this flick out!

Alan Arkin

Curse of the Cannibal Confederates  (Troma, 1982)  During the VHS video boom of the mid to late 80's, a little company called Troma was doing well releasing low budget (or no-budget) flicks direct to video with goofy titles like Surf Nazis Must Die and The Toxic Avenger. In order to keep their output steady, in addition to their in-house productions they also made a habit of buying just about any extremely cheap horror and exploitation movie they could get their hands on and releasing them under goofy "Troma-tized" titles. Case in point, this little horror number, originally called Curse of the Screaming Dead and filmed in 1982 for what looks like a budget that would equal the average couple's bill at Outback, without booze or a Blooming Onion. Troma scooped it up and sent it out on VHS under the above title, which while vaguely wild is nothing compared to stuff like Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator! and A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell. The story has a camper full of hippie types out for a weekend of fun in the forest, hunting, and doing whatever else long hairs would do in the boonies. The three couples are pretty interchangeable and non descript, except for the blind girl. Everybody whines and bickers for about the first half of the movie, then things go awry when one guy finds an ancient Civil War soldier's diary hidden in the ruins of an old church the group comes across. He takes it for no particular reason, and about 50 minutes into the running time the dead finally rise from the ancient cemetery outside the church. The next twenty minutes become a running battle between the unusually well armed hippies and the zombies, with the score going hippies 8, zombies 0. At this point the biggest effect has been a series of dummy zombie heads exploding when shot with the oft mentioned "exploding bullets" the rifle is loaded with. Ah, that explains the smoke filled blast each time one of the ghouls' heads is detonated.

His soap and shampoo may not be cutting it, but his
toothpaste is worth every penny.
We throw in a couple of local policemen who show up out of nowhere, and at long last the bloody gut munching begins as the two old geezers and one of the hippies go down, making the score by this time hippies 14, zombies 3. Now, way back in my youth, the original Night of the Living Dead was shown at my senior prom. After the zombies in the movie have claimed a couple of victims and started their icky feast, my friend Tracey Burnett was heard to comment "Man, they're running that eating stuff into the ground!" If only he could have seen the equivalent scene in this movie! While the survivors begin a mad run to escape the horror, the movie screeches to a dead halt for about five minutes to allow the zombies plenty of time to grab, pull, yank, lick, taste , rend and play with long strands of foam rubber guts soaked in blood while LOUD slurping noises are heard on the soundtrack. It is also only after this sequence that the zombies live up to the original title as screams are finally heard over the soundtrack as they lumber about. Prior to that, the original title should have been "Curse of the Completely Silent Dead with Curiously Explosive Heads." The hippies start to die off quickly at this point, since there are only about 10 minutes left to the movie. Finally, we reach our big climax, ripped off from The Fog but without the final jolt. Considering how little happens in this movie and how poorly made it is, I didn't exactly hate this movie. I'm not sure that would be true for anyone else, though. I guess I was expecting it to be more like the worst of Troma's homemade product, which often goes for the gusto in bad taste and becomes mean spirited in the hopes of offending you since there's no other way to get an audience reaction with a movie made on a budget of the change found in Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman's couch cushions any given weekend. Since this movie was sincere in trying to be a real movie, no matter how badly it failed at it, I had a softer reaction to it. Still, not sure anyone else would feel that way, so unless you're a zombie movie completist, you're probably going to want to avoid this one.

I leave you now. Until we meet again, always remember -

When you have it, you don’t need it.
When you need it you don’t have it.
If you have it, you need more of it.
If you have more of it, you don’t need less of it.
You need it, to get it.
And you certainly need it to get more of it.
But if you already have it to begin with, you can’t get any of it to get started, which means you really
don’t have any idea how to get it in the first place. Do you?
You can share it,sure.
You can even stockpile it if you’d like.
But you can’t fake it.
Wanting it….
Needing it…
Wishing for it…
The point is, if you have never had any of it….
People just seem to know.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Night at the Movies! 5/28/11

Who cares what picture we see?

My nephew James does, and he's challenged me to track down the trailer to a silent classic. Did they have trailers in the silent movie days?

Well, I'm really not sure if they had trailers or not, but that was a trailer for a screening at one of Robert Osborne's film festivals in Atlanta, so there you go.

I love Old Stoneface, and I do have a few of his silent classics in the video vault, including Steamboat Bill Jr, which we could watch as soon as...tonight, even...if you care to come over, that is. And here's a movie where we can even talk over the whole thing if we want!

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

Friday, May 27, 2011

Price Tag!

Spotlight on : Vincent Price!

It's a whole week dedicated to the "Vincentennial" - actor Vincent Price's 100th birthday celebration, Friday, May 27th, 2011!

December 26, 1935: A young actor named Vincent Price makes his theatrical debut
playing Prince Albert to Helen Hayes in the role of Queen Victoria. The play was
Victoria Regina. He was 24 years old.

1938: Film debut: Service De Luxe.

1939: Playing the doomed Duke of Clarence
in Tower of London, Vincent has his first role
in a horror film.

I mean, he does get drowned in a vat of wine by
Basil Rathbone (l) and Boris Karloff (r)!

1940: Vincent was next seen...er...well, you know what I mean...in
The Invisible Man Returns.

When he is actually on view - it's sans mustache
for the first time!

Throughout the 1940's, Vincent acted in scads of movies - sometimes with the cookie duster, and sometimes without. He was mainly a supporting player in the bulk of these flicks, third or fourth billed (or lower) and usually playing villains and cads, but he always brought something good to the table.

Throughout the 1940's Vincent was also a
popular radio actor, appearing in several
shows, but most remembered for playing
The Saint.

One of Vincent's favorite roles was Burnbridge Waters in
Champagne for Caesar, a comedy from 1950.

In 1953, Vincent's career was forever changed by his starring role in
House of Wax. He may have dabbled in a few projects that were gothic
melodramas or that had horrific elements, but this was his first full-blooded
horror movie. He plays Henry Jarrod, the eccentric but seemingly benign
owner of a waxworks House of Horrors.

SPOILER! Once his waxen mask is knocked off,
it turns out Jarrod is also the hideously burned
psycho who's been murdering his way through
the cast. Price's delicious performance instantly
cemented him into the horror actor role.

Did I mention the movie was in 3-D? Here's what
it looked like with the red-and-blue effect - and yes,
if you have a pair of 3-D glasses they will work on
this picture! A new blog first! Now with 3-D!

After the success of House of Wax, Vincent Price became
one of the screen's top boogeymen, joining Boris Karloff.
Here he is in The Bat.

The Mad Magician was another scarepic in 3-D, trying hard to repeat the success
of House of Wax. It's not as good, but it's Vincent Price, so of course it's worth watching!

The 1960's proved to be one of the busiest ever for Vincent Price.
He worked constantly in movies and on television. He also
started a series of movies for producer/director Roger Corman based
on the works of author Edgar Allan Poe. The series started with
The Fall of the House of Usher in 1960.

More Poe followed: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

A lot of the movies Vincent made in the 1960's were for
American-International Pictures. Away from the gothic frights of his
star vehicles, he would also pop in for cameos in some of their other
movies, such as his cameo as"Big Daddy" in Beach Party (1963).

Sometimes his acting style was described in reviews as hammy. Here he
shows if true, it was a glazed ham. Tales of Terror (1962).

The Raven (1963) teamed Vincent with Boris Karloff and
Peter Lorre. It also took the novel approach of being a
spoof, showing Poe's renowned humorous side.

The Masque of the Red Death in 1964 was a high point in the Poe series.

The Poe series came to an end with Tomb of Ligeia the same year.

Vincent continued as the King of Scares throughout the decade,
joined by his British brethren Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee
as the Triumvirate of Terror.

He acted with them too, in several different movies and different combinations across the
late 1960's and early 1970's. Here's The Oblong Box and Madhouse. They were great co-stars
onscreen, and great friends offscreen.

Vincent did lots of television too, appearing here with Boris Karloff on Red Skelton's show.

Vincent appeared on Batman several times as the villain Egghead. He was
always one of my favorites - I mean, look at him! The egg colored suit with
yolk colored shirt, the head, the "egg" puns (eggsactly, eggstreme, eggsquisite,
etc.) And boy did it look like he was having a good time!

In 1968 Vincent had one of his best roles, as the evil
Matthew Hopkins in The Witchfinder General. It was also
retitled The Conqueror Worm, a Poe poem title, to try to
tie it to the older Poe flicks. It didn't need help. It was
a terrific historical horror drama that could totally stand on
its own, and Vincent shines in it in a serious performance.

As the 1970's rolled around, Vincent continued to appear all
over the place. Here he threatens to reduce The Brady Bunch
to the Brady Quintet when the Bradys explored the wrong
cave on their trip to Hawaii.

Vincent added another indelible character to the Horror Hall of Fame when he played Dr. Anton
Phibes in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) and Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972). Phibes was
a genius in animatronics and acoustics, out to kill those he feels responsible for the death of
his wife Victoria. While racing to his wife's side his car wrecked and he burned to death.
Only, not. Phibes disguises his burns under a mask of his original face as he goes about his
murderous plan. In this picture he shows the depths of evil he is capable of when he prepares
lunch and it's nothing but Brussels sprouts!

Dr. Phibes unmasked.

Vincent appeared with rocker Alice Cooper in his TV special
Alice Cooper: The Nightmare in 1974.

Vincent had another favorite role in Theater of Blood in 1973, which built on the Dr. Phibes movies, casting Price as a ham Shakespearean actor turned down for the Critics' Guild award, whereupon he murders the critics one by one
using scenes from the Bard's works. It's good, and some feel it's the best of the three movies, but I prefer the
Art Deco excesses of the Phibes movies.

1974 brought us Madhouse, wherein our hero plays a horror host named
Dr. Death. Murder and madness abound onscreen, but the more graphic
nature of the film and a feeling that the movie companies were grooming
others to replace him led to Vincent calling this his last horror film. By the
way, if this character looks familiar but you never saw Madhouse - rest
easy - Bill Moseley and director Rob Zombie "borrowed" this makeup
design for a horror host Moseley plays in Zombie's Halloween II (2009).

Bill Moseley as "Seymour Coffins"

But even though he retired from horror films, Vincent kept working
steadily, though more in television. Here's one of his many
appearances on The Hollywood Squares.

Vincent also kept busy throughout the 70's touring in the play Diversions
and Delights, in which he played Oscar Wilde.

Thankfully for horror fans, Vincent was coaxed out of retirement in 1981,
although the resulting film, The Monster Club wasn't much, even with
the added support of John Carradine.

The House of the Long Shadows (1983) was a horror film's delight, casting the four reigning
Kings of Horror in their first film together. In case you're a heathen, that's Christopher Lee (also
celebrating a birthday today! 89! Happy birthday Christopher Lee!), John Carradine, Peter
Cushing (birthday yesterday, May 26th!), and Vincent. Sadly for horror fans, they were saddled
with an indifferent script, and most damagingly, co-star Desi Arnaz Jr. Still, what true horror
fan could resist giving it a watch?

Vincent took great joy in providing the voice of the villainous
Professor Ratigan for Disney's The Great Mouse Detective in

Slowing down a bit in his mid 70's, each new project Vincent Price took on in
the 1980's became a cause to celebrate for his fans. The Offspring (aka From
a Whisper to a Scream) features Price as a small town librarian telling
spooky stories from his town's history to reporter Susan Tyrell.

As the 80's wore on, Vincent became the elder statesman of
horror and Halloween, playing King to Elvira's Queen each October.

Vincent had a wonderful character role in The
Whales of August with Lillian Gish and Bette Davis
in 1988.

Vincent popped in for a cameo that livened up the otherwise
meh Dead Heat in 1988.

Director Tim Burton idolized Vincent, and cast him in his
last great role, the Creator who didn't live long enough to
replace Edward's scissor hands in, er... Edward Scissorhands.

Vincent did a couple more smallish parts in a couple of cable
movies, then played his last role in front of a microphone when
he voiced the character Zigzag for the animated feature The
Princess and the Cobbler.

Vincent Price passed away October 25, 1993. The world lost a wonderfully witty actor, raconteur,
art historian, gourmand, husband, and father. We still miss him. I try to watch something with
him during every Halloween Film Festival, and always love to hear his laugh each October
from my radio.

Happy 100th Birthday Mr. Vincent Price!

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