Friday, October 24, 2014

Buddha Man: Death by Invitation!

"Death by Boredom is more like it."

This horror flick gets off to some kind of start by giving us a flashback to 1671 - as the members of the Vroot family are joined by several other people (fellow villagers?) in denouncing Lise (Shelby Leverington - Cloak & Dagger) as a filthy filthy witch. After this pronouncement, the Vroot family patriarch (Aaron Phllips) adds injury to insult by hitting her with an axe.

So far, sounds pretty good, right? Except, much like certain Andy Milligan movies - this period recreation is staged in old timey costumes that would barely pass muster in a kindergarten play in front of contemporary (for 1971) suburban homes. (!) At first I thought this was supposed to be a 1971 festival or play, but no - this is the best these filmmakers could do to give us a period flashback. They even shot this movie in Andy Milligan's old stomping grounds of Staten Island, NY!

Ah, the joys of aluminum siding in 1671.

And to show I'm not just being a snarky Monday morning quarterback - here are a couple of ideas on how you could shoot a 300 year old flashback on a very limited budget: get your graphic artist to paint or draw several pictures of the scene you want. Add a narrator. Then shoot some money shots (crowd denouncing, witch collapsing, guy swinging axe) from low up into the sky or from up down to the ground. Meld this all with superimpositions and double exposures. Voila. Not one contemporary home shown. Story set up. Yes, I am available to direct a remake of this for you.

Here's a great representation of the middle of the movie: smokin' and talkin'.

Meanwhile, back in the movie, after that goofy opening, the movie jumps ahead to 1971 (the cast changes clothes) and the movie slows way down to give us a young woman named Lise (Leverington again) - either a descendant of the witch or the witch herself back from the grave. She befriends the modern day Vroot family - including the current paterfamilias Peter (Phillips again) - well aware these are the descendants of the bunch who swung that axe back in the day. She becomes a valued and trusted family friend in short order and then sets her secret agenda in motion. She gets one of the Vroot guys alone and performs what seems like a 45 minute monologue about a tribe in the far flung past before finally killing the guy with her bare hands. (After that monotonous diatribe he was probably relieved.) Then, it's time for a lot more talking. Periodically after that, Lise bumps off another family member. Eventually she falls in love with Peter's son Jake (Norman Parker - Bonfire of the Vanities) and her mission grows doubtful. Will she continue wiping out the family, or settle down with Jake and some avacado green appliances for the kitchen?

And they said Lise would never get a head in this world...

There are a few cool moments in this flick - mainly - a short scene involving a severed head and a child's reaction to it - but those moments are spread very thinly across this otherwise static talkfest. Suprisingly, this clunker is beloved enough by someone to rate a rescue from oblivion and a DVD release by the fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome. More power to them, but don't expect to see this one in the video vault anytome soon - and you can probably skip it too.

Thank you Buddha Man! I'm so glad you watch some of these movies so I don't have to. Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spotlight on Boris Karloff!

1931: A Star is Born. The movie: Frankenstein.

Born William Henry Pratt, the renamed Boris Karloff
had been acting in small parts since the silent era.

Here's Boris taking in the sights in one of his sixteen (!) movies in 1931 alone, Five Star Final.

Boris ran with his Frankenstein stardom. Here he plays Fu Manchu for MGM in 1932.

This picture gives me the chills. Seriously. Boris as Imhotep in The Mummy (1932).

When Universal first paired Boris with Bela Lugosi, in 1934's The Black Cat,
Karloff was the villain and Lugosi the hero. Eventually they worked together
in eight movies! Because I think they're both amazing, here are their other
seven times together on screen:

Universal next put them in one of their rather strange all-star sketch
pictures, The Gift of Gab (1934). I've never seen it, dammit.

Plastic surgeon and all around nutter Bela gives Boris
a face only a mother could love in The Raven (1935).

Bela's back to being the hero and Boris the villain - a
crazed  radioactive killer in The Invisible Ray (1936).

Their next teaming was 1939's Son of Frankenstein.
Karloff is back playing the Monster for the last time
in a feature film,and Bela gets his finest post-Dracula
role as the sly and villainous Ygor.

Their next Universal picture was Black Friday (1940)
but Boris and Bela share no scenes in the picture, so
here's a publicity photo from the film instead.
It was their last Universal movie together.

Over at RKO they were joined by Peter Lorre for the musical comedy thriller
You'll Find Out (1940) with bandleader Kay Kyser and his Kollege of Musical
Knowledge. This is also Boris's only starring role with Ish Kabibble.

Their final teaming was for The Body Snatcher (1945).
Boris starred, Bela 's character was added to get him
into a movie with Karloff one last time.

Since in the 1940's Hollywood still hadn't figured
out that Asians might be best suited to play
Asian detectives, here's Boris as Mr. Wong

After three times in the Monster's boots, Boris returned to the Frankenstein series
for the sixth entry, House of Frankenstein (1944), but this time he took the easier
job - the mad scientist. Glenn Strange takes over as The Big Guy.

Boris got to appear on Broadway too, in Arsenic and Old Lace,
where his character murders everyone who says he looks like
Boris Karloff, and in Peter Pan, as Captain Hook, as seen here.

By the 1950's Boris was still hard at work, and as this shot
shows, more often as dapper villains than monsters.

He wasn't adverse to working on television either, serving as the host
of the great show Thriller (out on DVD), and the little seen series
The Veil, pictured here, (also on DVD, though a little harder to find.)

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

Due to Roger Corman's speed as a filmmaker and Boris's professionalism,
they wrapped ahead of schedule on a couple of pictures. With Boris contracted
for another couple of days of work, the amazing Corman got some script pages
thrown together, then commandeered some sets about to be torn down, shot the
two days with Boris, and  months later had others finish shooting the rest of
the movie with the other actors. Surprisingly, it's not bad for being cobbled
together in this fashion. It's The Terror (1963), and here's Boris in it, with
a young Jack Nicholson!

As the 1960's wore on, despite increasingly fragile health, the tireless Karloff became the elder statesman
of horror films, as seen here in a very atmospheric shot from Die Monster Die! (1965)

Boris did more television too, appearing here with Vincent Price on Red Skelton's show.

Boris pops up in a couple of cameos in the American International "Beach" movies.
This one is Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966).

In addition Boris won a Grammy award for his narration of the
classic television special How the Grinch Stole Christmas when it
was released as an album in 1966.

Boris made Targets with first time director Peter Bogdanovich in 1968. This was
another movie made because Karloff owed Roger Corman a couple of days'
shooting. Corman told Bogdanovich he could have Boris for two days and
had to use footage from The Terror - and from these edicts Bogdanovich
somehow made a gem of a movie, a thriller that would have been the
perfect valedictory for Boris' long, wonderful career.

However, Boris shot scenes for four Mexican horror movies in
California in 1968, just months before he passed away at the age
of 81. The films (The Fear Chamber, The Sinister Invasion, House
of Terror, and The Snake People) were completed in Mexico and
released posthumously, the last more than two years after his passing
in 1971. No, they're not very good, and they ended up with more
R rated material in them than I think he would have been
comfortable with, but they are Boris Karloff movies and
are worth watching, just to see him.

Dedicated to Boris Karloff.

You should watch some Boris Karloff this Halloween season - he'd be happy to know he gave you some entertainment and scares!

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Video Vault of Mora Tau 10/22/14!

Here's a quick look at several horror hosts who were on the air in the 80's...I travelled a bit back then and actually saw a few of these hosts' shows - I always loved that...

Thankfully there are still horror hosts working today - though most are now found on the internet - in fact, let's have some more horror host fun with my old buddy Daniel Roebuck and his character Dr. Shocker...

And a clip featuring a few other horror hosts featured at HorrorHostGraveyard.com....

I love horror hosts - have even contemplated perhaps coming up with my own character one day...hmmm...

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

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!