Random Film of the Week: Dracula/Horror of Dracula (1958)

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Now, that’s a title screen, Isn’t it?

draculaAmusingly enough, I was wearing a Famous Monsters of Filmland T-shirt I got as a gift when I ran into an older neighbor in the supermarket last week who mentioned that as a kid, her parents took her to see Horror of Dracula back in 1958. She was only 8 years old, but was a big fan of sci-fi and horror movies, noting her parents were as well, and they’d make trips to the movies regularly. She noted she couldn’t sleep for about a month or so, but not because of Dracula, mind you, as (spoiler!) he’s as dead as a door nail at the end of the film (well, until his revival in the next films), but because of his brides.

She was convinced they were going to come after her for some reason and I noted that I’m sure many people who’ve seen this film sure as heck wanted a nibble on the neck from any of the lovely ladies in that film, vampires or not. Maybe even a few too many nibbles.

She laughed, and said “I know, but there was one in particular… what’s her name? The one that looked like a cat?” I thought for a few seconds and guessed correctly it was Andrée Melly, who indeed did look like a cat, and yes, briefly played that favorite bide of too many others as well. The neighbor let out a loud laugh. “Well that was fast! I guess she made an impression on you, too!”, which made me laugh as well, as there’s a pun in there she didn’t realize she was making. Anyway, we chatted a bit more and I helped her get a big aluminum baking pan off a high shelf for the ham she was making, as family was visiting that weekend. She paid for her groceries and left with a wave, thanking me for jogging her memory.

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Meow! Careful. I hear she bites…

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Review: Terror in a Texas Town (Blu-Ray)

Terror in a Texas Town coverI sure wish director Joseph H. Lewis got more a lot more respect these days. Granted, his career spanned 41 mostly B-movies spread across different genres that it was hard to shoehorn him into a box (but that’s a good thing for those who love variety and surprises). You could say he was a journeyman with quite a vision, as some of his films were memorable and considered classics by those some film lovers who’ve seen his work and appreciate it. He took some chances in his time in the director’s chair, but also made the some pretty generic titles between the brilliant ones.  While some of the results might have gone over the heads of some viewers at the time, it’s worth tracking down some of his work to see a quiet master in action when the results were really good.

In 1958, Lewis planned to retire from movies and go to TV, but opted out to make one final film, the B-quality, but memorable for a few reasons western, Terror in a Texas Town. While it’s no epic (hell, it opens right off the bat with part of the ending sequence and also uses some ancient stock footage a few times, clearly as a means to kill time and save money during its tidy 81 minutes) and the story is a bit weathered (until you know certain things about its genesis), it’s worth a watch because it’s an intriguing B-grade flick on a few fronts. Is it a “good” movie? Well, one could say where it counts it is despite its budgetary limitations.

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“No, I don’t like your tie. Besides, I’m married to the man who’s going to try and kill you, sooo…”

Sterling Hayden plays George Hansen, a Swedish immigrant, who after almost 20 years at sea, comes to America to live and farm alongside his dad, Sven, who’s been waiting for him to arrive. Unfortunately, Sven is murdered in cold blood while trying to defend his land from Crale (Nedrick Young) the steel-fisted and black-clad killer hired by McNeil (Sebastian Cabot) who it turns out, would probably rather have paid Sven off or burned him out instead of having him killed. But, gone is gone, McNeil gets his ill-gotten land and Crale quite enjoys what he does. Protests from his weary wife, Molly (Carol Kelly) who warns Crale the law could close in any moment, go ignored by Crale and it seems he’s due for a fall at some point. He’s not exactly in his prime and his former gun hand was shot off and replaced with a steel one (it’s too bad more isn’t made of this, though). McNeil’s plan is to grab all the land in the area for its newly found oil and the film opens (after the titles) with a literal barn burning as a elderly couple gets one of McNeil’s less violent choices of treatment.

(Thanks, HD Retro Trailers!)

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There’s A Vertigo Game Coming. With A Hitch.

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Yep, that was me upon reading this email from earlier today. I’ll say no more other than I like some of what Microïds has done over the years and if they can do this right and pay homage to Hitchcock and one of his greatest films, I’ll be one of those championing the work. That said, I know a load of people will indeed be upset at this news and all I ask is for them is to be patient, go poke around at the company’s site and see that there’s probably no cause for alarm at this point.

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Press release below the jump:

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The Eyes Have It (Less): Things To Come (If You’re Still Around To Read Them)

(thanks, VIDEOJAXX!)
 

Day four or so of the icky eye is going okay. It’s looking almost normal but I’m still not venturing too for into the outside world. I did do some shopping over the last two days, but between the black sunglasses and hand sanitizer I’d been whipping out, I’m betting I look like a really paranoid celebrity. Or a blind guy making sure there’s no evidence while stocking up on doomsday supplies.

Anyway, I have a lot of crap to yak about in a few days. Everything from the Muppet mess-up I’m annoyed and amused about to what the hell is wrong with some people and overly criticizing certain games (and their audiences). But let’s not get ahead of things. First things first, that damn eye needs to stop doing its thing and get back to normal.

Finally Friday: Let Cary Show You Some Moves For That New Year’s Party…


 

Other than a clip here and there over the years, I’d actually never seen all of Stanley Donen’s 1958 film Indiscreet until a few days back when I was up late stressing over some stuff. Yeah, the kitchen and other major repair jobs that are needed but seem to be hard to impress on the folks who run this place about how urgently they need to get taken care of. Bleh. Anyway, it’s an interesting and not quite perfect film about a woman (Ingrid Bergman) who thinks she’ll never find love who ends up falling for a man (Cary Grant) who she thinks is married. There’s more and a twist or three, but I’ll let you track this down and watch it if you’ve yet to, as it’s a fun film to wile away some time.

I’d have to say this dance sequence was the funniest thing I’d seen in a while at that hour of the morning, as I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t sleep afterwards thanks to the scene replaying itself in my head a few times. While I knew that Grant could hoof it like a maniac when he needed to in his earlier films, I didn’t think he did any fancy dancing this late in his career. That, and the scene is played entirely for laughs and gets them even when seen in that out of context clip above. Anyway, study those moves well and use them at that New Year’s party you’ve been invited to. I’d bet those steps work with any modern uptempo beat and I’d also bet that someone’s going to try and out-step you at some point on that dance floor. Of course, if they’re not in on the gag and have never seen this film, they’ll look a lot more foolish than you do, that’s for sure…

Random Film of the Week: The Colossus of New York

the colossus of nyThe first time I saw Eugène Lourié’s The Colossus of New York, I think I was about ten or eleven and stayed up all night on a Friday or Saturday just because it came on at something like 2 or 3am. I recall falling asleep somewhere in the middle and waking up for the ending, disappointed that I missed whatever robot rampage the cloaked metal man went on. It turns out that I didn’t miss much of a “rampage” at all, although the thing did wreak some havoc on some poor important folks down at the United Nations before getting shut down for good without the military blowing it to scrap metal with a bunch of rockets.

Anyway, featuring some fine performances and an brilliant (and sometimes unsettling) piano score by Nathan Van Cleave, this is an interesting albeit flawed sci-fi film with a more human side to its fantastic bits thanks to the internal conflict of Jeremy Spensser (Ross Martin) who finds his brain in that bulky cyborg after he dies in an auto accident and his genius dad (Otto Kruger) and second genius (but somewhat devious) son (John Baragrey) decide to keep him living in that metal shell… Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: The Defiant Ones

the defiant onesAlthough he doesn’t appear until about 45 minutes into the film and has about seven minutes or so of screen time total, Lon Chaney Jr. plays a pivotal role in The Defiant Ones. As Big Sam, a burly, weathered old soul who saves the escaped duo from a lynching, he delivers a powerful speech against killing the men and beats down one of the angry mob before asking anyone else to step up and try their hand at murder. Given that the guy he slugged went down like a stone wall hit by a wrecking ball, no one decides to test their luck afterwards.

Later on, he cuts the pair loose before brusquely sending them away still chained from the small waterside shack town they’d stumbled across. It’s not until the last moments the three men are together that you realize why Sam isn’t keen on seeing the men harmed (at least by his people)… a flash of his badly scarred wrist reveals he used to be a former chain gang convict. He doesn’t know or care what they’ve done to be chained to each other, but he’s giving them a better chance at survival than anyone else would have… Continue reading

Random Film of the Day*: The 7th Voyage of Sinbad

*For the next week or so plus, I’m going to add a random film the great Ray Harryhausen worked on. The legendary special effects MASTER passed away on May 7, 2013 at age 92 in London and yes, the film world owes him more than they can ever repay…

7th Voyage of Sinbad From the moment you hear Bernard Herrmann’s outstanding main theme that sets up the thrilling adventure ahead, director Nathan Juran’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad sets itself squarely in fantasy film history as a true classic. Of course, having Ray Harryhausen on board and in full charge of the film’s effects work at the height of his talents makes this one an absolute must-see as well as one of the best genre films ever made. It’s a perfect blending of talents by all involved and it’s probably the one film Harryhausen worked on I’ve seen the most times as have many who’ve been influenced by it over the decades. This film was yet another hit for Harryhausen and producer Charles H. Schneer and also introduced the word Dynamation into the movie lexicon (later rechristened “Super DynaMation” and later, “Dynarama”), which amusingly enough, ONLY refers to the stop motion technique the master perfected over time and became an immediate means of letting his fans know who was behind the visual effects in that latest cinematic treat they wanted to catch…
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Vikings vs. The Vikings: My Money’s Still On Kirk & Company…

 

I’m gathering that any actual historian worth his or her salt cellar has stopped watching the “History” Channel some time ago for actual history, but their new “first” scripted (allegedly – not counting the fact that “reality” TV is in fact, constructed of MANY pre-scripted elements) series seems to be drawing some attention in a Game of Thrones/Spartacus sort of manner. It’s actually not a bad show at all, but I do wish it were associated with another network, not one with swamp dudes and other happy and not so happy-go-lucky hillbilly hipsters, hicks and hucksters getting their 15 minutes of fame.

 

 

That said, I still prefer Richard Fleischer’s 1958 epic with Kirk Douglas, as the show is based off the real-life story this classic was cut from. Check it out sometime if you haven’t seen it yet, as it’s a pretty great flick that’s stood the test of time and deserves a younger audience appreciating it’s violent charms…

Random Film of the Week: Fiend Without A Face

fiend_face_MPIf you’re old enough and recall camping out in front of the TV on Friday or Saturday nights long after the sun went to sleep (Chiller Theater or Creature Features, anyone?), you probably saw a ton of horror and sci-fi flicks from the 50’s and 60’s. For some reason, Hollywood’s “B” movie makers were brain-obsessed during this period, churning out films good to terrible with titles such as Donovan’s Brain, The Brain From Planet Arous, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die and so forth and so on.

All those brains on screen and yet, in my opinion the best one wasn’t even made in the USA. For years I always thought Fiend Without A Face was a US-made “B” flick, but I just found out recently that it’s British. Oops. Granted, that doesn’t make it any “classier” at all – it’s just yet another reason you should check out this classic 1958 sci-fi/horror gem.

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