Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies 3/31/12!

Who cares what picture we see?

After calling my blog "impressive," I truly believe Sybil Danning does, so we will go with this gem:

This was a Sunday afternoon for me at Toler Cinema in Benton Illinois - and as a Star Wars obsessed kid it was just the kind of movie I loved. I still love it, though the seams show a bit more these days in Roger Corman's space opera version of The Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven.

But come on - you've got George Peppard as the wiseass, Robert Vaughn playing the same role he'd played in The Magnificent Seven twenty years previously, and Sybil Danning as a space warrior in a costume so sexy and revealing NBC was forced to add optical "shadows" across her chest in its premiere on that network a couple of years later.

I had hoped to find a picture of that optical shadow, but alas, no. You can see the outfit in question on the second poster - the Quad - but here's a picture for better viewing:

Roger Corman reused the effects from this movie about 462 times across the next twenty plus years - they became like old friends you hadn't seen for a while when they appeared in another of his movies a year or so after the last time you'd seen them.

And this movie is hanging out in the video vault on a pristine Blu-Ray, ready to spin at a moment's notice - if you feel like coming over to watch it with me - tonight, even!

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Getting Brain Damage from Uncle Bob Martin!

Bookworm's Book Club!

Brain Damage: A Trip Through Hell  (Broslin Press/Amazon Kindle, 1990/2011)

by Robert Martin
from the screenplay by Frank Henenlotter

This is one of the reasons to own a Kindle! Here's a book written in the 80's with a limited print run, something that would normally be impossible to find almost a quarter century later. But now you can own this excellent novelization by "Uncle" Bob Martin of the excellent horror film by Frank Henenlotter. The story is the same as the movie - a young man named Brian finds himself in possession of a strange wormlike creature called The Aylmer (or Elmer to his friends). Wait, did I say in possession? I meant in the possession of - because Elmer is really an ancient creature who gives his host the most amazing drug - a blue liquid the Aylmer injects directly into the base of the host's brain, causing intense hyper senses and psychedelic tripping - but as with all such things - there is a cost. Elmer has a taste for brains. And oh sure, at first he'll accept cow brains or pig brains or whatever you can get from the local butcher's. But later, when your need for his juice grows, he'll decide he wants those brains more in the way of still living...and human. Hold out on him, and he'll hold out on you. Who will break first? I know where I'd put my money...

Author Robert "Uncle Bob" Martin

Author Bob Martin, the greatest editor during the classic early run of Fangoria magazine is the perfect person to translate the movie's screenplay into prose form. It's a terrific companion piece to the movie - with all of the movie's energy and plot on display, but carefully woven together with the kind of interior monologues, and descriptions of Brian's juice trips that the written word excels at. If you've enjoyed any of Henenlotter's movies, including Basket Case and its sequels; Frankenhooker; or Bad Biology; or if you ever used to scamper down to your local store's magazine rack to pick up the latest issue of Fangoria - then you need to read this book. You owe it to Frank Henenlotter. You owe it to your Uncle Bob. You owe it to yourself. Get it.

Here is a link to the Amazon Kindle edition! Go get it!

Exclusive Author Interview with Uncle Bob Martin!

I was a reader and subscriber throughout Uncle Bob's tenure with Fangoria - I actually started picking up the magazine at about the time he took over editing it - and after he left I only stayed around long enough to let that current subscription lapse as it just wasn't the same without the Unk.
We've since become online acquaintances in the last couple of years - a huge thrill for this fanboy - and he graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions about the writing of this very cool novel:

Craig Edwards: How did you and Frank Henenlotter meet?

Uncle Bob Martin: I first heard of the film "Basket Case" from Rex Reed on a local Manhattan cable TV show. Reed's newspaper review, appearing much later, ripped the movie apart, but on this cable show he appeared to be drunk, and was telling the hostess that she MUST see it. The title told me that it was a film that might help me to distinguish Fangoria from other film zines, so I decided to learn more about it...
There is a detailed account of my first contact with Frank right here:

(Part Two has yet to be written)

Meanwhile, Frank saw the little blurb I had written about Basket Case in our "Monster Invasion" news section -- on first seeing the title in print, he panicked, thinking that some other movie had stolen his title! He was relieved to find that it was about his own movie.

I finally acquired Frank's phone number. At that point in my career, I still was not accustomed to cold-calling filmmakers and asking them for their time. But once I finally made the call, dealing with Henenlotter was a dream. He knew and enjoyed Fangoria magazine, and welcomed me into his home.

Every visit to Frank's, and they were frequent, resulted in another lesson in exploitation's extremities. I was not always the best of students -- I never really understood what Frank wanted me to apprehend regarding Jesse Franco's films, though many years later I would find Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun, and finally be convinced of Franco's genius.
My interest in seeing Fangoria succeed was too strong for me to ever fully adopt Frank's exploitation esthetic; I wasn't about to bump Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3D in order to make room for a detailed Ray Dennis Steckler retrospective. But Frank's influence in the pages of Fangoria was an essential component. Soon it became my habit to refer to Fangoria as "the magazine of horror and exploitation film," as a statement of identity (a Google search indicates that I am the only person to refer to Fangoria as such). Without Frank, I'd never have embraced the word "exploitation," a word the majority of mainstream filmmakers still shun. One reason that Fangoria, in those days, was not generally perceived as a complete tool of Hollywood was our obvious regard for outsider/exploitation filmmakers.

Writer/director Frank Henenlotter

CE: Was the book Brain Damage written before or after the movie was shot?

UBM: I began writing before a single frame was shot.

One of my favorite images from the film.

CE: Do you remember Mr. Henenlotter's reaction after he'd read it?

UBM: Frank was so pleased with what I'd written that he had at least one actor start reading it, to illuminate the character. The actor, however, became upset because he perceived it as interference with his own process of developing the character, so that stopped -- but I appreciated that Frank liked it that much.

A poster from the movie.

CE: How many drafts did you go through?

UBM: How do you distinguish drafts when you use a word processor? It's all the original draft, with constant revision.
But the screenplay provided such a solid path to follow, there was generally little revision. Frank's dialog was perfect, of course, and the dialog in the book follows the screenplay to the letter - and there was very little change to the dialog on the screen, either. The hardest part of the job was writing the narrative portions that sewed together the dialog scenes. But, again, I was strictly following the screenplay - except for the one chapter set in Berlin - so once I completed a page, re-read it and was satisfied, I seldom went back and changed it.

CE: Did this collaboration lead directly to you co-writing the Basket Case sequels with Mr. Henenlotter?

UBM: Frank wrote Basket Case 2 on his own, but the reason he called on me to help with Frankenhooker was because the 2 films were to be shot back-to-back, and he just couldn't type two screenplays at once. Frank narrated each and every scene in Frankenhooker to me as I took notes, then I went off and wrote the scenes he had described, usually in complete detail. I contributed dumb gags - like Jeffrey shouting "bunions!" then grabbing a file - and wrote Jeffrey's bad poetry, but even if I had only been a typist, Frankenhooker would have been a wonder. Another instance, I suggested that Jeffrey's magic serum should be purple -- but I was consciously referring to the Aylmer's purple juice from Brain Damage, so I stole an idea from Frank to use in Frank's movie. Fun!

The book's wonderful cover art.

CE: Which kind of writing did you enjoy more - the prose of Brain Damage, or the screenplays for Frankenhooker and Basket Case 3?

UBM: Working directly with Frank is a lot more fun than copying Frank's screenplay, so working on the films had a lot more laughter to it...also, the real themes of Brain Damage are pretty grim, and drawn from certain aspects of life in New York that were directly affecting just about everybody in NYC in the early 80s. Brain Damage is an absurd drama told by a man with a sharp, irrepressible sense of humor. Frankenhooker and Basket Case 3 were out-and-out comedies...not a shred of seriousness in either.

And Basket Case 3 was more fun to write than Frankenhooker was, probably because Frank had no reason to care what kind of movie it would turn out to be. All the barriers were down, and he just wanted the thing to be full of dumb bizarre jokey stuff. If production hadn't become a nightmare - the budget was decimated while he was shooting - I think Frank would speak of it more kindly today.

The Aylmer in all its glory.

CE: Do you think you'll write any other novels? Or an autobiography?

UBM: Writing one good original novel is a goal of mine, and while I don't doubt that I have the ability, I am not sure I have sufficient will...I don't find the process of writing enjoyable enough to leap into a big project. But I think that, if I develop the right strategy, I may be able to trick myself into doing it.

Another wild image from the film version.

CE: Anything else you'd like to tell us about your friendship and collaboration with Frank Henenlotter?

UBM: I just want to add one thing … let whoever is interested know that Frank possibly saved my life...the rock magazine I edited was a fiasco for a bunch of reasons, and a very frustrating experience, most of all when it was shut down through a Jimmy Swaggart-led boycott of rock magazines in the South -- before he got caught with a hooker.
After that, I was pretty much through with the magazine business and way too young to retire -- and flat broke to boot.
I had absolutely nothing on my plate until Frank brought up the Brain Damage novelization.

When I was at Fangoria, I thought now and then about working in film, and there were just two guys that I knew I'd jump at the chance if I could work with them; they were David Cronenberg and Frank. I really doubt that Cronenberg would have been as much fun, and I know he would never have given me first credit on the screenplay...I don't think anyone in movies would be as generous.

CE: What a terrific interview! Thank you for your time and insight into the background of this terrific book!

UBM: Thanks again for the review. I was trying to think of a way to properly thank you...this evening, I was watching the 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon, and it came across my mind that you might enjoy this small insight into the film and book. Shortly after I read the screenplay, Frank said to me: "You know what the Aylmer is, right? It's just the Maltese Falcon." This turned on some lights, and that's why the scene in Germany features characters based on Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.

The Aylmer is indeed the stuff dreams are made of...or nightmares...get this book - you'll love it!

Amazon Kindle edition link

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

Monday, March 26, 2012

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #62!

Harry in Your Pocket!  (United Artists, 1973)

I haven't seen this one - but it's about pickpockets, and it's a feature film directed by Bruce (Mission: Impossible) Geller - plus Coburn is always a fun lead. I went to see if it is available on Netflix - and now it's on my Instant Queue!

American Grindhouse  (Lorber Films, 2010)

We might have a theme tonight - movies I haven't seen that are on my Netflix Instant Queue!

The Fastest Guitar Alive  (MGM, 1967)

Oh, no, wait - I've seen this one - even had Buddha Man review it - here is the link to the review. But it's a fun poster for a fun little movie - so here it is!

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

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies 3/24/12!

Who cares what picture we see?

I have to believe Cerina Vincent would, so we will make the choice together - and it will be this one:

I love William Castle's original House on Haunted Hill. I thought the 1999 remake was okay, too. No classic, but a decent watch, as most of the Dark Castle movies have been. I wasn't sure about the idea of a direct-to-video sequel, however, until I found out that they really jazzed this flick up for its high def release on Blu-Ray (and HD DVD, although Heaven help you if you chose that format) - how about that interactive feature?

So, with 96 possibilities, each viewing can be a somewhat different movie - and what's really cool - it isn't a bunch of seeming flexibility in the middle that always comes back around to the exact same ending with the exact same survivors - you actually control who lives and who dies with your decisions.

I don't want every movie to be like this - and I'm not sure I'd watch this one more than once without it - but it is a fun way to experience this very gory ghost story with a group of friends - and my Blu-Ray is ready to go anytime - even tonight, if you were to show up at my door!

And that wraps us up until next post, so you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

PSA A Go Go 3/21/12!

In the interests of serving the public through an announcement - artist Rob Kelly and LGOOH have once again teamed up to bring you the following celebrity Public Service Announcement...

In other words, Bela would like to be the only bloodsucker in your life.

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

Monday, March 19, 2012

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #61!

Theme Week!

Since it's March Madness - let's hit the court with 1970's Basketball Movies!

One on One  (Warner Bros., 1977)

I never saw this back in the day - as Robby Benson dramas weren't my cup of tea then. I'd watch it now if it turned up on cable or something - as I love the time period - and G.D. Spradlin makes a heck of an antagonist.

Fast Break  (Columbia Pictures, 1979)

Although not sports enthusiasts, my parents went to see this one at the theater and really enjoyed it. I watched it when it premiered on Showtime a year or two later and I thought it was a fun little movie. I'd like to see it again to see how it holds up. And I must point out that this is another movie poster with art from the great Jack Davis of EC comics and Mad Magazine fame!

The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh  (United Artists, 1979)

1979 was quite the year for basketball comedies, eh? This one also played on Showtime a lot - but I skipped it. Now it's a must see for me - but like Skatetown USA it continually eludes me, dang it.

And there's the buzzer! Let's hit the showers, and until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies 3/17/12!

Who cares what picture we see?

Sometimes, in the dark, as I try to sleep - I imagine Gaylen Ross calls me to tell me she does...so let's make it a classic tonight:

I first saw this movie previewed in Starlog #21, before there was a Fangoria magazine. The articles even had a couple of fairly gory photos of Tom Savini's effects:

I didn't get to see the movie until it came out on home video - I'm pretty sure it was VHS, and I know it was the Thorn/EMI clamshell tape. I loved the movie - incredibly gory, and very cool, with Romero's usual "message in the ravioli" tucked in amongst the zombie slaughter.

I've since purchased the movie two more times - DVD and Blu-Ray - and the Blu-Ray sits ready to go in the video vault - and you could come over and watch it with me tonight, if you wanted!

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

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Video Vault of Mora Tau! 3/15/12

It has certainly been a while since we've made a full visit to the VVoMT, but at long last here we are again - what video clips should we take a look at?

With the success of the recent TenList post that showed shortlived TV shows that were adaptations of feature films, I think we'll track down some truly forgotten TV shows that I loved - three or four shows that ran 8 or 9 or 13 episodes and disappeared, almost never to be seen again.

Who remembers Wizards and Warriors - 8 episodes somewhere around 1983 or 1984?

This was a fantastically fun tongue in cheek fantasy adventure series - perhaps the best work from the erratic Mr. Conaway - and solid support from everyone else, including my first run-ins with Julia Duffy and Duncan Regehr.

How about Masquerade - 9 episodes, 1986?

With my Bond mania in full gear, here comes a TV show that mashes up Mission: Impossible with The Love Boat - giving us the terrific Rod Taylor as aging spy Lavender, who can't get a mission completed successfully, because all of his agents are known to America's enemies and their newfangled computers. So, he comes up with Operation: Masquerade - a team of ordinary Americans - each recruited for some special skill - who together pull off a spy mission in some exotic foreign land under the guise of an American tour group. The citizens get a year's pay for a few days of spy work, along with a free trip to whereever. Oh, sure, they might end up in deadly danger - but come on! Did you hear him? He said "Come spy with me!" That's so cool! And you get Kirstie Alley and Greg Evigan as the younger spies in support!

Or Disney presents The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage - 3 or 4 episodes, 1991?

I watched this one because it was a Stephen Cannell show - it was from Disney (despite an opening depicting the hanging of one of the leads 100 years ago!), and it starred my Hardcastle and McCormick fave Daniel Hugh Kelly. I now see it also marked my first sight of Ms. Roma Downey, who was to step into my life three short years later for a memorable two weeks (who says I can't tease upcoming posts like a particular I Was A Teenage Production Assistant entry?)

But I digress.

The plot of the show was that Daniel Hugh Kelly was a corporate raider type exiled to a tiny Caribbean nation by a higher power. Bereft of most of his ill-gotten riches, he has to struggle to survive. He chases local beauty Roma Downey romantically, and also has to deal with the local police commissioner - a little jackwagon as corrupt as he is sawed-off; and the ghost of a long dead pirate, sent back to Earth to make good on the 100 lives he took while alive - by saving the lives of 100 people with the help of his new buddy, (say it with me now) the only one who can see him. Luckily they have Black Jack Savage's ghostly powers, and the rich guy's sleek power boat - of course there's an ultra cool vehicle - this is a Stephen Cannell show - and there's also a resident gadget master who helps them out under duress.

This reiteration of the show's plot ran longer than the show did!

Speaking of shows that didn't stay on the air long - last up - Beyond Westworld - I think two episodes aired in 1980. Here's a promo for the premiere:

Basically latching on to the "replace people with android duplicates and take over the world" plot of the feature film Westworld's sequel Futureworld, this had a couple of special agents out to stop the madman who developed these robotic creations for the Delos Corporation, but he'd already escaped with the plans and several prototypes. This was a show I briefly checked out - no pun intended - but it wasn't something I was crazy over - just something I was sorta going to watch because it was sci-fi and I was a sci-fi geek. Then they cancelled it and I watched something else.

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Foley's a Jolly Good Fellow!

Beverly Hills Cop III  (Paramount, 1994)

Before the Camera:

Eddie Murphy  (Beverly Hills Cop)
Judge Reinhold  (Beverly Hills Cop II)
Timothy Carhart  (Ghostbusters)
Hector Elizondo  (Private Resort)
John Saxon  (A Nightmare on Elm Street '84)
Stephen McHattie  (A History of Violence)
Alan Young  (The Time Machine '60)
Theresa Randle  (Near Dark)
Bronson Pinchot  (Beverly Hills Cop)
Jon Tenney  (Legion)
Joey Travolta  (Beach Babes from Beyond)
Helen Martin  (Repo Man)
Fred Asparagus  (Galaxis)
Louis Lombardi  (TV's The Sopranos)
Gil Hill (Beverly Hills Cop)
Inspector Todd

Also, look fast for cameos from:

Ray Harryhausen  (stop motion animation master - Jason and the Argonauts)
Joe Dante  (director - Piranha '78)
Forrest J. Ackerman  (editor - Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine)
George Lucas  (director - THX-1138)
Martha Coolidge  (director - Real Genius)
Arthur Hiller  (director - Love Story)
Peter Medak  (director - The Changeling)
George Schaefer  (director - An Enemy of the People)
Robert B. Sherman  (composer - It's a Small World)
Barbet Schroeder  (director - Single White Female)
John Singleton  (director - Boyz n the Hood)
Julie Strain (The Dallas Connection)

Behind the Camera:

Directed by John Landis

Produced by Leslie Belzberg, Mark Lipsky, Catherine Meyers, Ray Murphy Jr, Mace Neufeld, and Robert Rehme

Written by Steven E. DeSouza

    Ten years after the first Beverly Hills Cop went through the box office roof and became a benchmark in action comedies, a few of the cast members came back for another go-round. In Detroit, detective Axel Foley (Murphy) is gearing up a bust on a major car theft chop shop operation with his team (including Tenney and Travolta), with his boss Inspector Todd (Hill) along as an observer. What Axel doesn't know is that moments before their arrival, some smooth operators with machine guns showed up at the chop shop, collected a van full of something that was stolen on their behalf, and paid off in lead. As the bust comes down around their ears in a hail of gunfire, what Axel does know is that he has seen Inspector Todd shot dead by the leader of the baddies - a steely eyed buzzard (Carhart) who then hightails it, along with the van full of McGuffins. However, they've left a trail...and you only get one guess where it leads. Well, two, because, yes, it is indeed Beverly Hills California. But where in Beverly Hills? How about the world famous theme park Wonder World, led by that lovable old Uncle Dave (Young)? And no, I don't know what you mean when you say the words "Disney" or "Walt." This is entirely different.

Axel shows up and enlists the help of Billy Rosewood (Reinhold), now promoted from detective to being the DDOJSIOC for all of Los Angeles. (Oh, that's Deputy Director of Operations for Joint Systems Interdepartmental Operational Command. Something about interfacing all the various law enforcement agencies when crimes go across city limits and county lines.) Sadly Taggart has retired, covered with a couple of lines of dialogue and they plain forget to even namecheck Lt. Bogamill, although both gentlemen can be glimpsed in a picture on Billy's desk.
    Billy introduces Axel to his new old cop buddy Jon Flint (Elizondo) who fills in neatly yelling at the boys for the rest of the movie that he's too old for this sh--wait, no, that's Danny Glover who says that. Oh well, Flint yells at them anyway, just like Taggart used to. Still miss John Ashton though.
    Axel heads out to Wonder World to see why there were clues pointing to the park back in Detroit and to maybe find out why all clues found in Detroit crime scenes always point to Beverly Hills. Flint offers to set up a meeting with chief of park security Ellis DeWald, but is called away, leaving Axel to head out there alone. Before he can even set foot in the park, Foley runs afoul of the park's jerkweed security force, and soon finds himself dragged bodily to DeWald's office where he first meets DeWald's boss, park chief of operations Orrin Sanderson (Saxon). Imagine Our Hero's surprise when DeWald finally shows up and it's the same motherloving jackwagon who shot Todd back in Michigan!
    Now knowing there's something more than fishy going in the home of Rufus Rabbit, Axel goes into full Foley mode, making waves every chance he gets as he works to bring down DeWald and his whole criminal organization. He gains some allies, including Wonder World operations rep Janice(Randle), Treasury agent Fulbright (McHattie), Uncle Dave himself, and even our old buddy Serge (Pinchot), now out of the art game and selling stylish weaponry for home defense. Even with this much help, will Axel be able to stop the slick and nasty DeWald?

Axel doing what he does best - needling the bad guy, here at an awards banquet in his honor.

    Everyone pretty much agrees the first BHC is a classic. There's a split on BHC II, some love it even more, others find it too impressed with its own coolness. But nearly everybody seems to agree that BHC III sucks, including Eddie Murphy.
    Well, I like Beverly Hills Cop III. Quite a bit. Oh, it's not a perfect movie. It doesn't meld the comedy with the action as seamlessly as did the first movie, and some of the trips it makes down the comedy road don't work. But the action side does work; quite well in fact. It actually makes sense that an older Axel, really hit by the loss of his mentor, the irascible and salty Inspector Todd, would tone down the quips and improvs and concentrate on getting his hands around DeWald's pencil neck. So I don't mind that Murphy is a little lower key here. It's a great cast down the line - look how many I listed up there  -and of course Landis continues his penchant for slapping film directors into as many of the 1 and 2 line parts as he possibly can.

The production got to use a real amusement park - Great America -  owned by Paramount, so the settings look good, with some early digital flimflam giving the park a different appearance in the wide overhead shots - watch how the camera "jerks" when it pans down across the park to the gate twice during the movie. Plus, they got the Sherman Brothers - Richard and Robert - the composers of Disney's notorious It's a Small World - to write a similar tune for this movie called The Wonderworld Song! Robert cameos too! And following in the villainous duo footsteps of Steven Berkoff and Jonathan Banks; and Jurgen Prochnow and Brigitte Nielsen - Timothy Carhart and John Saxon make for some terrific bad guys.
     In the end, I like this one a tiny bit more than BHC II - I'm one of those who thinks Eddie and the movie have started believing their own press in the second movie. This gets a definite recommendation for action junkies, and a qualified yes for others seeking action entertainment. Check it out!

Let's Get Out of Here ?

At around 1:16:07, Peter Medak knows this is no place to be if even Uncle Dave isn't safe from harm.

Eye Candy ?

Theresa Randle - for making a corporate skirt suit look good - you're in!
Why you got to photobomb my Eye Candy photo, Eddie Murphy? Why?

Welcome to the list, Ms. Randle!

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says: "Beverly Hills Cop III has no Axel to grind...
it's a Foley invested action comedy!"

I completely agree, little gold buddy! And until next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #60

Mad Mission 4: You Never Die Twice  (Cinema City & Films Co., 1986)

I've only seen one of the Mad Mission movies - but wow I wish I could see all of them! Maniacal Hong Kong energy, strange Western actor cameos, and lots of Bond-spoofing action. Right up my alley, as it were!

The Savage Bees  (Alan Landsburg Productions/Don Kirshner Productions, 1976)

I thought this was a feature film - but I guess it was a TV movie for NBC - directed by my fave Bruce Geller - creator of Mission: Impossible! He got a pretty good cast, including then-recent Oscar winner Ben Johnson, and I vaguely remember (from watching it the night it premiered, most likely) that it was a decent killer bug movie. I guess others thought so too, as the above poster attests that this flick played theaters somewhere in the world!

Deep Red  (aka Profondo Rosso)  (Rizzoli Film, 1975)

This is my favorite Dario Argento movie - so far; I can't say I've seen them all - with David Hemmings turning in good work in a typically gory Argento suspense fest. If you've never seen an Argento movie you really should give one a try!

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

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies 3/10/12!

Who cares what picture we see?

If asked to bet on it - I would say that Fred Haggerty would definitely care, and that gives us another opportunity to jump on the Bondwagon with this one:

The second 007 movie - based on a book chosen by JFK as one of his Top Ten - stays pretty close to the Fleming story - but adds an extra layer of intrigue by mixing in SPECTRE to the Britain vs Russia plot, with the criminal organization playing each country against the other. What can I say? It's Bond. James Bond.

And let's throw in a few extras while we're all gathered here anyway...

In 2005, From Russia with Love was reborn - as a new multi-platform video game! And best of all - they lured Sean Connery back from his 007 exile - so it's his face - and his own voice in a brand new performance as 007!

Here's a brief look behind the scenes - which gives a few seconds of Sir Sean's performance...

And here's the opening credits sequence from the game - which credits the original actors, as all their likenesses are used! (The voice actors are credited separately in the end credits, as Sean Connery was the only original actor from the 1963 movie to provide his own voice.)

Lastly, just for fun - after Harry Saltzman stated that Roger Moore had been briefly considered for the role of James Bond back in the early 60's, before they locked in on Sean Connery - artist Jeff Marshall came up with a new version of the poster for this film - what might have been:

This is one of the best of the early Bonds - and it looks beyond amazing after the frame-by-frame digital restoration by Lowry Digital for the Blu-Ray release - which sits ready to roll on my player any time - even tonight, if you cared to come by!

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

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

From Buddha Man with Love!

A small golden headed reviewer, a 007 joke post title, and three movies.


The Fastest Guitar Alive! (1967) Okay, if someone told you there was a movie starring Roy Orbison as a Confederate spy in the Civil War who carries a guitar that is also a gun, would you believe it? Well friends and neighbors, there is such a movie, and I have seen it! Roy plays Johnny, teamed with Steve (Sammy Jackson) as spies out to steal some northern gold for the Confederate war chest. Their cover is a traveling medicine show, with several dancing girls along as added camouflage. All are aware of their real mission however, including Johnny's girlfriend Sue (Joan Freeman). Johnny is the minstrel of the group, strumming his six string and singing several songs throughout the flick until trouble looms. Then he pushes the special hidden button, the guitar grows a rifle barrel, and he commences to shootin!' I kid you not!
There it is, in all its glory. The Sharps/Gibson Six String Black Powder Cartridge Guitar.

Despite this deadly prop, no one gets killed, there's a lot of goofy humor, and of course Roy is singing every few minutes, making this movie very much a cross between a Disney movie like The Apple Dumpling Gang and a late 60's Elvis movie. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this was originally written as an Elvis vehicle. If true, Elvis obviously turned it down, leaving the door wide open for The Big O to step into the star shoes. As an actor, Roy makes one heck of a great singer, but it's fun to see him trying, and the music is a big compensation as I always enjoy hearing Roy sing. Movie girlfriend Freeman was an interesting choice as she had previously spent time with Mr. Presley in Roustabout, and horror movie fans will recognize her as Mrs. Jarvis from Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter! None of the other actors are well known, but they are all at least adequate, the color photography features some beautiful landscapes, and the script manages to sidestep the fact that our heroes are on the Confederate side rather neatly without cheating too much. All in all this one is well worth a look for Orbison fans or those who enjoy some novelty value in their movies. This turns up occasionally on TCM, making it east to check this one out!

Thunder Run  (The Cannon Group, 1986)  Forrest Tucker - in his last performance - stars in this action flick as an aging trucker hired by the government to drive some plutonium through the desert out west in the hopes some Arab terrorists will attack him, so he can kill them!

When you're Forrest Tucker, and John Shepard is riding
shotgun -

- you can do this!

Well, that's exactly what happens, but luckily, Trucker's tuck...er...Tucker's truck been "modified" so we get some awesome semi-truck-loaded-with-computers-and-every-conventional-weapon-known-to-man fu! Some good action, although it admittedly takes a little while to get going. But the slow start is offset by seeing Forrest doing the Cotton Eye Joe! Also with Alan Rachins (TV's Dharma and Greg), John Ireland (Satan's Cheerleaders), and John Shepard (Tommy in Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning!)

Night Angel  (Fries Distribution, 1990)  There are no real surprises in this supernatural scare flick, but it's stylishly directed, and I kinda enjoyed it. An ancient demon who chows on lust pops up in 1990's Los Angeles in the form of (let's say it all together now) a mysterious and beautiful woman. She gets under the skin of a lot of the staff at a men's magazine, and the expected mayhem occurs.




Not bad at all, which is kinda surprising as I didn't care much for director Dominique Othenin-Girard's Halloween 5. But this one's a bit of all right! Stars Karen Black, Linden Ashby, Doug Jones, Helen Martin, Sam Hennings, and Isa Andersen as the hot demonchick.

That completes our mission, which we chose to accept. And always remember, Warren Beatty may have been quite the ladies' man back in the day, but he never romanced Shirley MacLaine.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #59!

Target Earth  (Allied Artists Pictures, 1954)

I've seen this one back there somewhere. I seem to remember almost nothing happening, despite that poster. Feel free to correct me in the comments if I'm remembering wrong.

Hallucination Generation  (Trans American Films, 1966)

I have a fair amount of debauched dreams. I have not, however, seen this movie.

'Gator Bait  (Sebastian International Pictures, 1974)

I got to see this fairly sleazy backwood bayoustravaganza courtesy Showtime around 1980. I remember being quite enamored of it and watching it several times across the month it aired. I'd really like to see it again. Who can help a feller out?

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

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies 3/3/12!

Who cares what picture we see?

I don't have the slightest inkling if Thorley Walters would, but either way, it's time to take a look at this one:

A latter day Hammer horror opus with none of the usual Hammer suspects, this is a pretty cool old school fangstravaganza. It sits ready to roll in a fine Blu-Ray edition in the video vault, and we could be watching it as quickly as...tonight, should you decide to make your way over to my place.

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

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I Was a Teenage Production Assistant: Superboy!

Quick disclaimer - I wanted to have my stories of working in and around the film and television industry under a blanket title - this is the one I came up with. However, this story is from before I became a production assistant - really, this one qualifies more as a Set Invasion...

The very first production I was ever around was an episode of Superboy in 1988. My parents, in the throes of some middle age crazy, decided to try for a fresh start in Florida that year. I initially went back to college for what was to be my senior year, but the idea of flying alone with the parents 1000+ miles away for the entire school year scared this sheltered bird, and I chickened out of school, withdrawing entirely from the program. I decided to go with my parents and finish college in Orlando, as they were building up their film schools due to the production that had sprung up there a few years previously. So, in the fall of 1988 we were staying with one of my father’s old friends and his wife in Auburndale Florida - Don and Evelyn Powell. The mostly retired Don worked part time at a lesser known theme park in Disney’s shadow called Boardwalk and Baseball. He told me shortly after we’d settled in with them that this new TV show Superboy was going to be shooting an episode at Boardwalk and Baseball, and if I wanted to go he could get me in free. Well, that was all I needed to hear, and I gladly said yes. The park was going to remain open throughout the shoot; with posted signs advising the park’s guests that the shoot was happening; that certain sections of the park might be temporarily closed for the crew to film on; and that if you wandered near you might end up in the far background of a shot, and by moving in to those areas you were in agreement to let your image be captured with no recompense.

So, a day in a theme park for free, and a TV show shooting to boot? I was all over that!

The show's logo - from the opening credits

I arrived at the park right when it opened – not a hard thing to do when you’re staying with folks who lived twenty minutes away from the place. I wandered quickly around the park, skipping the rides and games for the most part because I wanted to see the TV shoot. I eventually found them – never a hard thing to do with all the crew and equipment – as they were setting up to film a sequence involving a carnival game. Now, at this point Superboy had not yet premiered, and there had been almost no pre-launch publicity, so I did not know who the actors were. But when you’re talking about the Superman mythos, it’s usually not hard to figure out either. So, I saw three actors in the scene – two young men and a very attractive redhead female, all in their 20’s. The hair on one guy that was a shade of black that does not occur in nature, along with the nerd glasses pegged him as Clark Kent. The young lady must be Lana Lang if they were following the established story; and the other guy? No idea who he could be, unless he was Pete Ross, Clark’s best friend when he was a teen in the comics.

John Haymes Newton in full Clark Kent mode between setups - going low carb with hot dog minus bun.

I had plenty of time to speculate about this, by the way, because as I discovered within a couple of hours of showing up – production work can be stultifying in its slowness. I watched the actors rehearse a scene involving the throwing of rubber frogs onto a floating lily pad; then while the actors disappeared somewhere I hung around and watched the crew light the scene, which was interesting for a while. Eventually they finished lighting and the actors came back and they filmed a few takes. I was far enough away that I couldn’t hear one word of dialogue. They got the scene on film, and moved on to a new angle of the same scene, which involved moving the camera and the lights. This time, while this was going on, I found someone from the crew standing near the outskirts and not actively working on moving any equipment. I had no idea who I was speaking to, other than it wasn’t the director, as I’d seen him up close to camera calling “Cut!” I know now that I was talking to one of the production assistants, posted on the outskirts of the shoot to prevent any non-combatants from moving in too close, and to call out Rolling and Cut as needed while the actual filming was occurring. I struck up a casual conversation, and thankfully the PA was amenable to chatting. From him I discovered this was the sixth episode to shoot; the young actress – named Stacy - was playing Lana Lang; and that the other young man was a newcomer playing T.J. White, Perry White’s nephew. I also discovered that the bad guy for this episode was being played by fading teen idol Leif Garrett, who hadn’t been around for the morning’s shoot but was expected later.

Armed with this info I thanked my new pal and wandered off to a different vantage point to continue watching. The rest of the morning was taken up by the frog game sequence – with the pattern continuing each time: rehearsal, lighting, filming. Repeat until scene covered from several angles. After the crew finally finished all the shots involving the actors, they were sent away and the crew did some closeup shots of the frogs landing on the lily pads. This took another 15-20 minutes of shooting after the lights were tweaked for it. I wandered around the park some more, hitting a couple of rides and such; and then went back to see if they’d returned to filming. They had, and as I approached I saw Stacy Haiduk approaching at a run. She was heading for the restroom. I of course snapped a picture. The funny thing is, she totally saw me taking the picture, and it is plain to see she is having a slightly bemused reaction to being paparazzi-ed.

You can also see film equipment - big bounce boards on stands - in the background.

I stayed in this area for a bit, but I was too nervous to try to get closer. But eventually they broke everybody for lunch, and I got a couple pics of the cast walking by...

John Haymes Newton and Stacy Haiduk

Leif Garrett (in blue) and Jim Calvert (in green)

While they were at lunch, I wandered around again, then headed back to see what I could see for the afternoon part of the shoot.

This time, as I was wandering around looking for the crew – who do I see playing a carnival game but Leif Garrett? I approached him and introduced myself as a fan (I wasn’t really, as I wouldn’t have been caught dead listening to his teenybopper girl magnet music as a teenager – but he was the first actor I ever spoke directly to – and I wanted to get on his good side.) He thanked me, and I got him to autograph a sheet of paper that they’d passed out that basically said the same thing as the posted signs – filming; areas closed off throughout the day; might end up in the background. He was a nice enough guy, and I remember asking him who he was playing. He said the bad guy for the episode. I then asked if he was a supervillain with a costume - thinking I might know the bad guy from the comics. He said no, he was playing a troubled rock star – said with no irony, I might add – and that he was glad he didn’t have to wear the “little red booties or anything like that.” I thanked him for his time, and went off to find the crew.

I had some trouble finding them, and got enticed into riding a couple of rides. Finally, I did catch back up to the production - as they were wrapping a shot - but who did I see off to one side, prepping himself to step on set? Yep, John Haymes Newton, in full Superboy costume. As he passed close by, he gave me a little wave, as I guessed he could see the fanboy glint in my eyes at seeing the tights. I couldn't see much of anything that was being shot from where I was, but I stayed there as I reasoned that since he'd passed that way on the way to set, Newton would also be passing back the same way from set. Sure enough, about twenty minutes later he walked back by, this time with a plain blue robe over the Superboy costume. I had half hoped to get a picture with him in the gear, but it wasn't in the cards.

After that I saw my crew buddy again, who told me they were moving over to a section of the park that I wouldn't be able to get close to for some interiors in an office or something - and they would be finishing the day there. I thanked him for the heads up and took off to enjoy the park for the rest of my time there.

It was a pretty cool first look at how TV shows and movies were made - I even thought maybe I might work on the show one day - but that's not how things ended up happening - my parents gave up on Florida after two months, we returned to Illinois, I took the remainder of that year off and worked, then went back and finished school the next fall at the same University I'd left. Eventually I did make it onto another production -

- and that is a story for the next installment in this new series! And they do get better! I promise!

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