Random Film of the Week: Doctor X (DVD)

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For all that trouble setting their private and expensive game show up, no one could guess what was behind Curtain #1.

Dr. XLet’s just say that as a kid of, oh, seven or eight years old back in the 70’s, I had no idea (not a clue!) what I was watching when the local public TV station ran Doctor X so very many years ago. I do recall not knowing what was going on for a bit and some parts were wacky, but yes indeed, I did perk up when the “Synthetic Flesh” scene kicked in. Hell, I was a Frankenstein fan by then, even if my exposure was courtesy Universal Pictures and James Whale and not Mary Shelley until I read the book years later.

When I revisited the good Dr. Jerry Xavier (Lionel Atwill), and the film as I got older into my teens, elements started to click and it was all “Oh, that’s what that means!” on more elements I didn’t understand previouslyWhich of course means that as a grumpier and older old man these days, I’m all over this freak-fest like I’ve run into an old friend I haven’t seen in a while. This one’s pretty funny, pretty grim and completely bonkers. Oh, by the way, Doctor X sounds better and scarier than Doctor Jerry. That and if it were called Dr. J, there’s that slim chance a slimmer handful of folks might get fooled into thinking it’s a sports biopic (heh).

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Jacket jealousy here, as Fay’s got the stripes. but Tracy’s got the tweed and they both win the fashion lottery.

It’s also a great pre-code film, what with its discussion of a few hot topics those who think “well, those old movies were DULL!” might find they’re a bit incorrect about if they ever get off that dead horse they always jump on and see a few of these films. Now a little murder? Hey, that’s fine and dandy in a film about a mysterious killer. Toss in elements like that mysterious killer who happens to cannibalize corpses, a bit of prostitution and rape as story elements, plus a few old guys sitting around talking about their fetishes (hey, that may be the most creepy thing about this to some!), and more atmosphere that you can shake a few sticks at, and you get a true classic.

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Review: The Monster of Piedras Blancas

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“Oh, crap. I forgot to put on my silky underthings BEFORE I got into the costume. Er, they prevent chafing, you know, right…”

MFPB_MP2On one hand, Irvin Berwick’s 1959 flick The Monster of Piedras Blancas is a pedestrian and very slow-burning “B” horror film with some neat noir-like shots, light early gore, and a great creature costume cobbled from a few sources that looks quite spectacular when it’s finally revealed. On the other hand, it’s still a pedestrian and very slow-burning film that drags out its plot a wee bit too long.

Its big monster reveal comes so late in the film and manages to come off as somewhat disappointing because you still see less of that really cool-looking monster than you’d like, but at least you get some action on-screen when it happens. It’s far from a “bad” film, it’s just a bit dull in its presentation of an otherwise great-looking man in a suit. The again, with a budget under $30,000, you can see where the money went thanks to the suit that man is in being so well-conceived.

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“I will roar from the highest rooftop that I DID NOT DO IT!”

Granted, the film teases the titular creature right at the very beginning as a claw reaches for a beat-up metal bowl and afterward, some kids are sent packing off the beach by a lighthouse keeper named Sturges (John Harmon) with a secret. He’s the one keeping the creature well-fed and of course, he’s got a tasty and somewhat gorgeous daughter, Lucille (Jeanne Carmen) he’s kept out of the loop for years (ten years of boarding school, eep!). Naturally, she’s all grown up now and she and her curves caught the eye of Fred (Don Sullivan) a visiting biology student who’s not at all after her for her shapely figure and hey, this is 1959 we’re taking about and that stuff didn’t happen in movies like this (he said, sarcastically). Sturges is not a fan of Biology students who want to date his shapely daughter, it would seem.

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Shout Factory’s Shocktober Sale Will Have Your Wallet Screaming

Shocktober

Scared? Your wallet sure is, I’ll bet.

Mo’ horror, mo’ problems (for your wallet): Yes, the fine folks at Shout! Factory are having a little sale you may want to check out, as some great horror flicks are up for grabs at a discount. As usual, you have to act FAST, as the sale ends October 21. While I’m not a steelbook guy, some of them caught my interest and hell, I can use the steelbook to smack that monster in the closet with. Some also come as non-steelbook releases and the prices on a few are low enough to have my interest. Enough yakking from me, though. Go scare tour wallet into a tizzy here. Oh, there’s also a contest to enter if you like.

-GW

Review: Black Sunday/Mask of the Demon (Blu-Ray)

(Thanks, FulciLives!)

Layout 1Say, did I ever tell you all the story of the time a few decades ago back in the 80’s when I learned how to brine a chicken thanks to a pair of very helpful Satanists looking for Kosher salt at a grocery store? No? Well, that’s not why we’re here, so I won’t go into it other than to say I didn’t know they were into that stuff, and hell, I’m an atheist anyway. The chicken? It was excellent by the way. Still is, whenever it’s made.

Uh, speaking of “anyway”, Let’s move on.

Still scary and somewhat phenomenally timeless, Mario Bava’s classic “first” film La Maschera Del Demonio/The Mask of Satan (aka Black Sunday in the US) starts off unsettling and keeps the frights coming until the end. Bava’s direction and art direction here are generally superb, although yes, there are a few plot holes you can drive a rattly (or rat-filled) old Fiat through if you follow the story too closely. But taken as a whole, it’s still a work of brilliance that many films have paid homage to over the decades since its release.

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“Where the hell is my coffee? I just woke up after 200 years!”

Very loosely based on The Viy, Nikolai Gogol’s horror tale from 1835, the film revels in its high Gothic style, early use of gore effects and the stunning Barbara Steele who plays both the evil Asa Vajda and 200 years after her demise, her relative, Katia Vajda. It’s a revenge story of sorts, as that witch and her soulless-mate Igor Javutich (Arturo Dominici) are separated and then executed in a most bloody fashion for their crimes and yes, there’s a bit of a promise of defiant revenge from the witch. 200 years later, it’s young Katya who’s target of a newly revived Asa’s demonic ways and in tandem with the revived Javutich, things get ugly for a few people after that curse literally comes to life. Wait, or is it figuratively? I forget.

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Vincent Price wants his stage wig back when you’re done, pal.

Interestingly, the film links Satanism and witchcraft to devil worship as the same thing, which is about the sole flaw that sticks out (well, I’d guess it was seen as the same in the 1630’s, but I’m a terrible time traveler, getting too sick from the trips to pay attention and all that).

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Review: Torso (Blu-Ray)

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“Hello, I’m your masked and gloved fashionable scarf-wearing killer. Today, I shall be your GUIDE. Then I’ll have to kill you, of course.”

Torso Arrow(Lectures): Sergio Martino tells an interesting story about the film’s originally planned title in an excellent interview on this lushly produced Arrow Video disc. The film’s  producers wanted something more salacious to sell tickets, so they chose to pump up the sexual violence aspect with what they saw as a fitting title, I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale (The Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence). where as Martino wanted to use I corpi non mostrano tracce di violenza carnale (The Bodies Bear No Traces of Carnal Violence) here after his working titles like Rosso come l’amore, nero come il terrore (Red Like Love, Black Like Terror) were rejected early on. The Torso moniker (Carnal Violence was a title created for the export release) was a choice from the film’s US distributors, by the way,  In the States, Joseph Brenner Associates worked up a new title opening, chopped out 4 minutes of footage seemingly for some gory content and likely to make the film a run a compact 90 minutes (more butts in the seats at the end of the day), changed some music cues (the great Guido & Maurizio De Angelis score was fine, thank you), and there you have it.

*Ahem* I’m starting this review much like the film does (with an intentionally dull lecture after a sexy-ish opening) as a little joke because I’ve heard some kooky grumblings over the years at how the film gets off to a slow start for about 20 minutes or so. Nonsense, I say. Torso works as an effective and disturbing popcorn flick you’ll want to gather a few like-minded giallo-loving friends up to see. Yes, those friends will have to like some copious female nudity, icky flashes of gore in two of the early murders and nearly every male in the film portrayed as a leering goon of some sort (there are some regular guys here, but as background noise or padding out the lovely Perugian scenery). But this is a film where you’re getting almost exactly what you expect from with a title like this.

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Ooh, pardon me while I do some gift-giving. “Hey, nice lady, I got you a scarf!” Oops, I kind of got carried away in my excitement. That’s Patrizia Adiutori doing a great job playing dead, by the way.

After the murder of some friends by the above mentioned killer (Hello!), four college students decide to hoof it over to a secluded villa, only to have the killer and a few other suspects trail them. While that’s pretty much the plot here, Martino makes things quite tense as well as very 70’s sexy (well, as far as the ladies are concerned). The film tosses a few potential suspects your way as it goes on, so you’re always on the fence as to who the killer might be. The killer not only has a penchant for he ladies, he turns out to be an equal opportunist, as the bodies pile up and more are claimed by a few means.

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Severin Films Brings the Sleaze (and We Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way)

Oh, boy. Severin Films has a nifty set of three horror-filled films you’ll want and a hell of a lot of ways to order them.

Here you go, in the speediest manner as possible. You get to do all the clicking and  buying, I get to be as lazy as hell because it’s been a busy day and my poor wrists are giving out thanks to too much typing. Get ready to pick up some nicely restored vintage sleaze:

The Bundle

So sleazy, but you know that’s how you like it, uh-huh.

The ByPagThrope Bundle: https://severin-films.com/shop/bypagthrope-bundle/

Paganini Horror [2-Disc LE Blu-ray]: https://severin-films.com/shop/paganini-horror-le-blu-ray/

Paganini Horror [Blu-ray]: https://severin-films.com/shop/paganini-horror-blu/

Paganini Horror [DVD]: https://severin-films.com/shop/paganini-horror-dvd/

Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory [2-Disc Blu-ray]: https://severin-films.com/shop/werewolf-girls-dormitory-blu/

Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory [DVD]: https://severin-films.com/shop/werewolf-girls-dormitory-dvd/

Byleth: The Demon of Incest [Blu-ray]: https://severin-films.com/shop/byleth-blu/

Byleth: The Demon of Incest [DVD]: https://severin-films.com/shop/byleth-dvd/

Severin Films Hall of Fame Enamel Pin #9: Luigi Cozzi

Severin Films Hall of Fame Enamel Pin #9: Luigi Cozzi

Severin Films Hall of Fame Enamel Pin #10: Daria Nicolodi

Severin Films Hall of Fame Enamel Pin #10: Daria Nicolodi

Severin Films Hall of Fame Enamel Pin #11: Donald Pleasence
https://severin-films.com/shop/donald-pleasence-hof/

Yeah, that’s all the variants and a few nice extras, folks. Happy buying, I say!

-GW

Someone Left a Cake Out in the Rain (So it’s Likely for Me)

So, whadyagetme for my birthday? It’s today, you know. As for gifts, well… I got myself a little party to throw later:

(Thanks robatsea2009!)

Or, wait… maybe it’s this party?

(Thanks, 88 Films!)

Hmmm. I’m confused, but I know it isn’t this party because I went to it and did NOT have a good time at all:

(Thanks, Zero Media!)

In reality, other than thinking cake-like thoughts for a hot minute, I have no big deal plans for today at all. The day will be spent at home maybe with a movie, definitely with some gaming (I have a few backlogged films and games to get to, as usual), and probably no big deal food item other than what I plan to cook for myself later (ah, the wonderful world of restricted dieting, but at least it will be quite tasty). General mood in my current state is more or less this (and I’m not Thulsa Doom here):

(Thanks, Dean Oliver!)

Eh, whatever. I suppose things cold be worse, but let’s leave it at that for the moment.

Back in a bit.

-GW

Dario Argento’s “For Bridget” is Just The Thing to Coax A Kickstarter Pledge

dreadful bond logoSo, Dario Argento’s Deadly Bond now has a nicely unsettling Unreal Engine 4-powered short film attached to it and at just over six minutes long, it’s also a nifty means of getting people to pledge to its Kickstarter. It’s a bit of a slow burner of a short, but has a nice payoff and will likely make a few of you want to see more in a playable form.

I’m waiting for a payment to come through for some work I did elsewhere so I can toss a few coins into that particular fountain, but you (yes, YOU) can go on ahead of me with your wallet out if you’re into the man’s work as well as all the effort Clod Studio has put into both the game and short film.Uh, mind the steps leading to that basement, as they’re a bit loose… oops, um… well, that looked painful, ouch.

DB broken

While you’re recuperating, I think you could use a little movie to watch… Here you go:

Sometime in 2020, you’ll want to set aside time for a little bit of dread, I’ll bet…

-GW

The Dead Don’t Die: Jim Jarmusch Doing Zombies? Yummy.

Okay, the whole zombie genre is so played out to me that it would take something really quirky to get my yawny brain percolating in deciding to watch yet another entry in an already packed field. Well, thanks to the one and only Jim Jarmusch, here’s a zombie film I’d run out to see in a theater as well as snap up a disc at some point down the road:

Also, Iggy Pop as a zombie? Too damn funny (although Keith Richards would have been a more obvious choice), and the rest of the casting is inspired and diverse enough to make this a crowd pleasing gem for fans of everyone in this hopefully awesome flick. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see (and not pay a damn bit of attention to aggregate scores at all), but I’m prepared to go in cold and come out all warmed up about this one based on my appreciation towards Jarmusch’s previous work alone.

-GW

Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBIE: 4K, 3 Ways, On the Way in November

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If I’m not mistakes, we got a load of these posters in the NYC subways as well when the film was initially released in the US. I’d kill for a few to sell off now. Uh, figure of speech, that.

 

Yum. If you’re an old coot like me (or old enough to remember), this pair of TV ads for Lucio Fulci’s horror masterpiece, ZOMBIE. Hey, even though I was 15 at the time, they both kind of sunk into the memory like a… well, like a zombie munching on some fresh brains. I didn’t actually see the film until a few years later thanks to a friend who had it and a bunch of other horror flicks on a VHS tape he’d put together and, yeah, it was worth the wait.

Between the jump scares and general relentlessness when things got going, Tisa Farrow (Mia’s sister) getting it in the eye like Moe Greene, but slower and with a rather pointy piece of wood (ouch), a zombie versus shark scene (no pirates, sorry… but that’s a real shark!), and the classic line delivery early on: “Hey, watch out for the sail!” that kind of starts off this gore-fest in the most comic of manners before things get grim. Yes, there are slow stretches, but the film delivers all the goods when it counts from the icky to the just plain weird (conquistador zombies, ftw!).

 

 

Anyway, the fine folks at Blue Underground and MVD Entertainment Group are releasing not one, not two, but THREE 4K cover variants of the film, newly remastered in 4K and set to crawl your way on November 27, 2018. Actually, there are a whopping SIX variants total when you add in the older 2K BR and DVD versions on the BU site listed here, here, and… wait a sec… HERE. Collect ’em all!

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