Not So Random Film Of The Week: Panic In Year Zero!

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Oh, I just LOVE that song! Oh, wait…

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It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I don’t feel fine!

I recall the first time I saw Ray Milland’s Panic In Year Zero! some decades back as a kid, I laughed at a few things from some of the histrionic acting and direction, the incredibly poor science on display (back then I was a science whiz), Frankie Avalon’s perfect coif (that pomade he was using was pretty much disaster proof) and every woman being a second class citizen and second fiddle to the men in the world it presents. I still laugh now, but it’s more of a dry cackle of late. The film’s less that rosy display of humanity comes off as only a fraction of where we are today with reality rolling up with a nice ice cold dose of “hold my (insert obviously named) beer, pal.”

Despite its flaws, it’s a really good “B”-grade film that’s quite dated on a few fronts, but the message hits home because hell, who wouldn’t want to get the heck out of town after major cities fall under multiple nuclear attacks? Well, if you’re a tightly knit family unit like the Baldwins, who happen to be on a camping vacation when all hell breaks loose, you get in your trusty sedan with that handy trailer attached and try to survive the trip into the mountains as chaos breaks out everywhere. Saying this film is a total blast is an understatement as well a a nice and corny joke (ha and ha).

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(Not So) Random Film of the Week: The Flesh Eaters (1964)

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Cheesy, but very perfectly so.

TFE_adI think about Jack Curtis’ exceptionally cheesy but really awesome sci-fi/horror hybrid The Flesh Eaters maybe a bit more than I should, but there’s a good reason for that. It was one of the many fright films I grew up watching on television so many times that its unnerving 91 minutes were engraved in my brain for decades. While I’d seen many other horror/sci-fi films as a kid, this particular one stood out for the unsettling for a kid gore factor and overall tone that screamed EC Comics-style nightmare fuel.

I found out later in my teens that it was written by very prolific DC, Marvel and other publishers comics writer Arnold Drake who also made storyboards for the film to assist the director. It’s also by location, classifiable as a New York-based film because it was partly shot in Montauk, New York. The plot kicks off as a small seaplane takes off from Manhattan, runs into a bad storm, and is forced down on a small island in the area with, let’s just say, some rather interesting results in store for all involved.

 

 

On that plane are faded starlet and professional drinker Laura Winters (Rita Morely), her lovely but very harried assistant Jan Letterman (Barbara Wilkin), and debt-ridden pilot for hire Grant Murdoch (Byron Sanders), all of whom survive the in-flight stormy surprise landing. They soon meet a German-accented marine biologist Professor Peter Bartell (Martin Kosleck) who’s all by himself on the island save for his little microbial friends whom we will soon find out more about. The not so good Professor has taken up some evil WWII experiments in breeding nasty little bacteria who need fresh flesh to thrive, and between the human and many more fish skeletons that start turning up in the troubled waters around the island, everyone is in for quite a bad time if something REALLY stupid happened to that plane, right?

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It’s too bad the folks on that plane didn’t see the beginning of the film as the in-flight movie, as they kind of missed out on a few important things…

Guess what happens to the plane? Free popcorn to the winning guess!

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Random Film of the Week: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die

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Not inspired by actual events!

brainBy 1981, I’d seen The Brain That Wouldn’t Die on TV maybe a half dozen times and had started going to sci-fi conventions the previous year, my first being the old Creation Conventions here in NYC. I bring this up because it was at one in 1981 where I met a rather quirky gentleman named Jack Tiger (J.G. to his friends) and ended up working with him on a project that could have been popular at the time, but wasn’t able to get fully off the ground.

Now, I should be reviewing either one of his two low-budget films here or at the very least the film that gained me some temporary employment with the man,  Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror, a film that had neither a Frankenstein and thanks to the censors here, nor much Bloody Terror in it. Now, I’ll admit that I haven’t seen it in decades and really need to do so again, but in its original uncut Spanish version. Also, I’ve only ever seen one of Jack’s films by very happy accident a few years back on TCM when I came home very early in the morning from a lousy party I stayed too long at, and it was on TV unexpectedly.  So, Brain it is because it’s a fun flick and there’s also a small personal connection there you’ll read on and find out about. So, read on, please.

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Jan thought the Doc was kidding when he said she could lose about 100 pounds in a crash diet…

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Random Film of the Week: My Life to Live

my life to live_MPYou know all those easily forgettable modern quasi-romantic melodramas that try so hard to pull at the emotions at every turn and only fool the easily manipulated thanks to the usual tired plot points repeated over and over again? Well, Jean-Luc Godard’s 1962 masterpiece Vivre Sa Vie: film en douze tableaux STILL spits all over their graves thanks to the director’s remarkable technique and the simple, powerful performance given by Anna Karina as a young woman trying and failing to achieve anything resembling a happy life.

Presented in twelve scenes, each one chock full of what looks like first take genius, this look at one woman’s life and fate isn’t at all your run of the mill tearjerker at all and in fact may almost seems like a documentary at times. Karina’s naturalistic acting is flawless as she plays a character who uproots her own life in the pursuit of some kind of evolving dream that devolves as the film progresses to its abrupt finale. This is one you’re not going to walk away smiling about, but it sure as heck makes for a greatly depressing conversation piece… Continue reading

DVD Review: Here’s Edie – Early 60’s Time Capsule Makes A Mostly Glorious Return To Earth…

Here's EdieI had an English teacher in high school who was obsessed with Edie Adams to the point that he actually stopped a fight in class by singing part of a Muriel Cigars commercial that made the two girls fighting stop and stare at him as if he were completely insane. Of course, by then I’d seen some reruns of The Ernie Kovacs Show on PBS and had a whisper of an idea of what he was going on about. However, I also recall bumping into him during a lunch break (he was outside smoking a Muriel Air Tip, of course) and hearing tales of a TV series starring Edie that no one else I asked seemed to have a clue about.

It turns out what I thought was one man’s fantasy life getting a wee bit too real was actually a real TV variety show. MVD Visual is about to unleash Here’s Edie, a 4-disc set of her 21 half-hour specials unseen anywhere since they first aired. After spending some quality time this past weekend with this incredible lady and her talented friends, I can very safely say that fans of classic variety TV will absolutely want this one in their collections… Continue reading