Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Starring: Lori Nelson, John Smith, Frank Gorshin, Chuck Connors, Russell Thorson, and Mark Andrews
Them crazy hot rodding kids, with their rock n roll music and television sets...why in my day.....
Sorry...started to sound like my grandfather there for a minute. Now, when I first purchased this DVD at a local K-Mart, basically I was expecting some good ol' fashioned juvenile delinquent fun. Y'know...chicken races, gang rumbles, a swinging rockabilly soundtrack, drinking soda pop straight from the bottle (that stuff'll rot yer teeth, according to dear ol' late granddad...'course this was a man who chewed tobacco, one of the most disgusting habits on the face of the planet...so what did he know? ). What I get is= Frank Gorshin (as a teenage goofball nicknamed "Flattop"), Chuck Connors (as the cop with a heart of gold), and some guy named John Smith as the whiniest mechanic in history...I mean, this guy broods so much, Hamlet stopped by and said, "Hey buddy...lighten it up a bit."
THE PLOT: Lori Nelson portrays the "Hot Rod Girl" from the title, and her boyfriend is the aforementioned mechanic...whom I will from here on out refer to as "Blubberpuss". It seems Ol' Blubberpuss was quite a hot rodder in his day, but has gotten older and much wiser, and doesn't want any of the younger kids, especially his brother, getting in the same troubles he did. So, he's teamed with police officer Ben (Chuck Connors) and they've set up a racetrack for these gear monkey teenagers, so that they can hotrod in an environment designed for it, and not out on the streets, which seems to be getting alot of them in trouble, especially one of Blubberpuss's brother's friends, "Flattop" (Frank Gorshin).
Everything seems fine until one afternoon, after a constructive day of burning tires down at Ye Olde Speedway, Blubberpuss and his brother are on their way home in a sweet T Bucket, and a local hoodlum challenges them to a race. Though the mechanic protests, his wiry sibling won't listen...and it all ends in a wreck that kills the younger brother...and leaves Blubber with more gulit and angst than friggin' Peter Parker.
Then, if things weren't bad enough..some punk from outta town rolls into the burg, looki' to rumble with his hot rod Lincoln. This guy starts hittin' on ol' Blubberpuss' ladyfriend (Lori Nelson, of REVENGE OF THE CREATURE fame...who, because of the lack of budget on this flick, was asked to use her own car in the sequences in which she's racing), and that's not the end of his troubles. "Flattop gets suckered into a chicken race with the stranger and loses...pushing Blubber to the breaking point. They race, Blubberpuss wins. The End.
Interesting side note- director Leslie Martinson would team with Frank Gorshin again, in 1966, when Martinson would directed the big screen BATMAN The Movie, featuring Gorshin as The Riddler.
Lori Nelson, who portrays the Hot Rod Girl of the title, was a mainstay of 1950's cinema, starring in such films as the aforementioned last installment of "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" series, REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE, and several Roger Corman productions of the day.
Chuck Connors, besides being the detective Ben in this flick, would go on to fame as the star of THE RIFLEMAN (and my personal favorite, BRANDED). In my opinion, though, he'll never top his performance in one of my personal favorite episodes of the 1950s ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, "Flight to the North" in which he portrays hillbilly "Seymore Superman" opposite the late George Reeves.
Recommended for fans of the Rifleman...or corny 1960s nightclub impressionists. Detroit steel junkies such as myself may find some interest in this flick as well.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
(1975 Warner Bros.) Director: Micheal Anderson Starring: Ron Ely
Never fear...Doc Savage is here.....
Not necessarily the most flattering portrait of the Man of Bronze, 1975's film adaptation of the classic pulp hero created by Kenneth Robeson is a camp relic of a simpler time. For some reason beyond my understanding, this flick plays like some demented episode of The Love Boat for me....
Now...I'm a huge fan of the character. So much so that I've nearly completed a set of the 1970s Bantam paperbacks. But this George Pal-produced fiasco is....just too cute for it's own good. That would be the best way to put it. Sure, Ely makes a fine Doc, and the casting is dead-on (likeness-wise)..but the storyline, while very much like one of the pulp adventures, is chock full of awful camp humor. Imagine a bad parody of the '60s Batman television show, and you'll get an idea of what I'm talkin' about....
The Plot: We open on a very patriotic image of Doc (Ron Ely) riding a snowmobile to his Fortress of Solitude and then images of Doc in his skivvies meditating in the Arctic wastes....just to show us all that he's one tough sumbitch. He then receives a telepathic message that there's trouble in New York, because adding empathy to Doc's impressive list of attributes seemed to be a fairly easy way to cut back on the budget of this film. Exposition is such an over-rated storytelling device, anyways.....
We then cut to New York, 1936...we know this because of a big honkin' title card. Anytime a period-piece film has to rely on coming straight out and flat telling the audience that it's not set in the present is always a bad sign. After an failed assassination attempt on Doc by a South America native that resembles Peter Fonda in pancake makeup (a sequence remarkably similar to the opening of PUMAMAN, to beat all) Doc and his cronies are alerted to something fishy involving the death of his father and some land he's inherited south of the border. Doc makes use of some of his amazing vehicles (everything he owns seems to have his name...or should I say, merchandising logo, stenciled on it...something tells me they had bigger plans for this film than actually happened....possibly because it bombed in a big way), Doc and crew make the trek south , along the way running into the stereotypical Bond-villain type bad guy, Captain Seas. Seas has a hand in Savage's father's death, mainly because the land in South America contains a boiling lake of molten gold. Some of this second-rate Lex Luthor's henchmen are natives who have the amazing ability to make cartoon snakes appear in mid-air and attack their enemies. The special effects in this flick are no STAR WARS, that's for sure.
After being captured by Seas, Doc and his gang fight to stop Seas and take back the Savage family birthright. The fight sequence during the climax between Doc and Seas is hilarious, for they use several different fighting styles, starting out with sumo...for alot of unintentionally funny results. Each time they change a fighting style, a titles card is added to the screen describing what it is (see below).......
All in all, a good time waster. DOC SAVAGE: Man of Bronze suffers from it's over-abundant use of camp humor, which must have been viewed at the time of it's release in the mid-1970s as fairly childish to the majority of the general audience of the era. It's odd to think that had this film been released, say, a few years earlier in the late 1960s, during the heyday of Batmania and films like Barbarella, it woulda probably went over like gangbusters. Still highly recommended for Doc fans and sumo lovers everywhere.
(1971) Director: Ted V. Mikels Starring: Sean Kenney, Monika Kelley, Sanford Mitchell, J. Byron Foster...and the cast of "Cats Can't Dance"...
Oh, man...my side hurts.
This is fuckin' great. God Bless Ted V. Mikels....
>BWA-HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHA!!!!!< style="font-weight: bold;">The Plot:
Mas hysteria explodes everywhere when felines begin being thrown from off-screen...ahem...um, I mean.."attacking" (yeah, that's it!) the masters Why? Because Morris the Cat is actually the Alien Anti-Christ!!!!!!
Sorry...decided to have a 1970s marathon here at the house over the weekend and watched Larry Cohen's GOD TOLD ME TO..right after this flick...
Anyways...it seems some shoddy business practices have caused the local cat food cannery to start losing some of it's surplus of raw materials, and they start substituting human by-products.
WHY DOESN'T ANYONE LISTEN TO ME!!!!! MEOW MIX IS MADE OF PEOPLE! PEOPLE!!!!!!!
Sorry...always wanted to do that. Who woulda ever thought that the original name of the Soylent Corporation was Purina?
The cops get wind of this, and the cat food processors get their just desserts with the help of their own cat food grinder. Oh bitter irony...you are a cold mistress.
This why I don't even attempt to try and eat healthy.
My sister and mother recently joined Weight Watchers, God Bless 'em...it seems to really be helping them. But, with their talk of "counting points" and "what I can't eat", it makes it sound like these meeting they attend involve some sorta religious cult. I jokingly told the other day not to drink any of the Kool-Aid. Wanna real horror story about the stuff ya eat that ironically involves another of Mikel's epics? My mom and dad useta own a little mom n' pop type country general store, where they sold cold cut meats. take a look at the ingredients on bologna or hot dogs, and you'll notice a little product called "bioearthian"...
What's that? Earth worms...no lie...looks like Ted wasn't too far off with THE WORM EATERS, eh?
Jeez....who woulda thought that when I grew up, smoking and drinking would be the healthiest vices I could have?
Above: A feline that owns me....
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
(1966) Starring: Roy Barcroft, Marjorie Bennett,Jr., Harry Carey, Olive Carey, John Carradine, William Challee, Charlita
Director: William Beaudine
This film belongs in a category I like to refer to as the "Lost Genres"...
Y'know, like cliffhanger serials and blaxploitation films, the Horror/Fantasy Western has went the way of the do-do bird and vanished from the face of the Earth. Unlike the other two above-mentioned "Lost Genres", the mix of Wild West shenanigans and elements of the imagination just never seemed to click with the movie-going public, making one wonder why the people behind such projects even bothered. Or, more likely, "What the hell were they thinkin'/drinkin'?!?!" (Your choice..)
BILLY THE KID vs. DRACULA is one of those type of films. While good for a few unintentional laughs, the reason for it's existence boggles my mind. Was it the fact that Westerns and Horror films at the time of this production were the two most profitable types of films to make that led to the decision to mix elements from both into one film? Let's hope so, because if this was someone's idea of artistic expression (seeing as how money and art are the only reasons in my mind to make a movie) , we're either dealing with the visions of a madman or a talentless hack.
The Plot: "Billy the Kid vs. Dracula" opens somewhere out on the range, with an elderly European couple (if one is to take their forced accents for granted) and their daughter Lisa camping out under the stars of a beautiful day-for-night shot. "Mama" awakens from a terrible nightmare , probably brought on by the chirping (No..really.) of the rubber bat hovering just above the family wagon. She begins ranting about vampires, and checks the darling Lisa, and after she's confident that she hasn't been violated by nosferatu, resumes her nightly rest.
This scene confirms that Europeans (even ones with cheesy fake accents), much like the underworld community of Gotham City, are a cowardly and superstitious lot.
Enter stage right John Carradine (jeez...was this guy always 100 years old?) as the fiendish king of vampires, Dracula. Dressed very much like Mandrake the Magician (or The Wizard of Gore, take yer pick), he startles the now-awakened Lisa and hits her with what I have affectionately deemed the "Ol' Vampire Hyp-Mo-Tize Whammy", which involves shining a red heat lamp in Carradine's face and having him look all scary and stuff. I could be mistaken, though, for this may be a natural reaction for Ol' John, turning beet red, because he was involved in such a shoddy production, but sadly one will never know for he has passed away and his son David (of "Deathrace 2000" and "Kung Fu" fame) has rightfully taken his father's mantle of King of the Hammy Actors who appear in no-budget drivel. We are then introduced to Billy the Kid (portrayed by Chuck Courtney) , who has given up his life of crime and reformed. He now has a job as a foreman on the Bentley ranch and is in love with Betty Bentley (Plowman) whom he plans to marry, if only he can get permission from Betty's long-lost uncle, her only living relative....well, that is, who was alive until ol' Drac stopped his stagecoach and murders him and decides to take his place. Oh yeah....and the aforementioned European couple? after their daughter dies from severe blood loss, Billy runs across them in their period of mourning and offers them a job at the ranch. Don'tcha just love pleasant coincidences?
Well, to make a long story short: Drac shows up posin' as Betty's uncle, gets on Billy's bad side by firing him from his foreman job and forbiddin' him from seeing Betty, all because after Drac sees a picture of her, he gets the hots for her.....maybe that's why his face gets all red when he apllies the Whammy on her...he just all flustered and twitterpated. The kindly European woman gives Billy an education on the Van Helsing Way of vampire disposal, Drac and Billy fight (during the daytime...which I thought was hilarious because of all the obvious day-for-night shots mixed in with obvious night shots) ending with a wooden stake thru Drac's chest that turns him (off-screen) into a plastic skeleton with a cape. The End.
Carradine considered this his worst film ('course, after seeing THE UNEARTHLY, I personally he shoulda reconsidered), and stated that he did it only for the money to fund his Shakespearean theatre company. BILLY THE KID vs. DRACULA was directed by William Beaudine, who got his start in the silent era and is best known for directing Bowery Boys shorts, "Bela Lugosi Meets the Brooklyn Gorilla", and an amazing 70 (!) episodes of "Lassie". Nominated for a Golden Turkey Award, this film went on to become a minor cult classic, and originally appeared on a double bill with another personal favorite of mine, the even more ridulous sounding JESSE JAMES meets FRANKENSTEIN's DAUGHTER. Highly reccommended to Psychotronic fans and anyone who will watch anything with a rubber bat in it.
I highly recommend the Cheezy Flix DVD (pictured above), which contains a highly informative and hilarious commentary by Drive-In expert, Joe Bob Briggs.
(1942 Universal Pictures) Director: Erle C. Kenton Starring: Cedric Hardwicke, Lionel Atwill, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Ralph Bellamy, Evelyn Ankers
A few years back when they were released, I bought the Universal Monsters Legacy collections....and, recently decided to finally watch 'em, rather than have them sit around on my DVD shelves gathering dust...
....and boy, am I havin' a blast. These things are great, and for the number of flicks available on each of the three sets (Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman) along with the tons of extras, the price (I paid a cool 19 bones apiece for 'em) can't be beat with a stick. While my favorites of Universal's golden age of horror have always been either The Mummy (with Karloff) or The Invisible Man (with Claude Rains), my tastes, as always, tend to gravitate towards the not-necessarily cheesier end of the spectrum, but certainly cheaper by way of budget end (though they usually end up being both) of the studio's latter day terror flick productions.
And The Ghost of Frankenstein definitely is one of those cases. The fourth of five Frankenstein films produced by Universal, "Ghost" was the beginning of the formula in which the plot line moved further away from Mary Shelley's original novel (like the original 1931 film is anything close to it to begin with) and the Creature basically became not so much a character himself, but instead a set-piece to drive the principle actors towards his eventually re-animation.
The Plot: The town council of the lovely village of Frankenstein convene after deciding to blame all of their troubles on the "accursed Frankenstein family" and their beloved monster. Wouldn't local civil proceedings be much funner if this was a probable course of action? I mean, I've sit in on some local Chamber of Commerce meetings that woulda been a hoot if someone decreed that a zoning ordinance couldn't be passed because of the old crazy-ass doctor who lives in the spooky house at the end of town was re-animating bastard creations of science again. Hell...I'd vote for it. I'd then grab a rake and/or hoe and join the mob to hunt him down. What can I say? I come from a long line of Republicans and witch hunts are in our blood....
Ygor the Hunchback (Bela Lugosi) is still hanging out in the ruins of the Frankenstein homestead after the events of the previous flick, Son of Frankenstein (1939), and the town mob assault the castle, blowing it up, releasing the creature from his entombment in the sulfur pit located below Doc F's old lab. The two then take to the road, in search of Wolf Von Frankenstein's brother, Ludwig (Cedric Hardwicke) hoping he has the knowledge to "fix" the ailing monster. Jesus...for a looney quack, Henry Frankenstein definitely made time to sire enough offspring to populate a small town, it seems. Along the way, we meet Ludwig and his medical associate, Dr. Bohmer (Lionel Atwill), Ludwig's former teacher who secretly covets his former pupil's accomplishments. Whaddaya expect? He's Lionel Atwill...he's bound to be a heavy.
After arriving at Ludwig's residence, Ygor blackmails Ludwig into helping them, and after examining the creature, Frankenstein comes to a startling conclusion. You guessed it: brain transplant. I wonder if MetLife covers such a procedure, and if so, do they consider it cosmetic? Ygor secretly plans with Bohmer to have his brain taken from his misshapen body and placed into the Creature's noggin, with disastrous results. The End.
Some Conclusions I Have Come To After Viewing This Film:
Being struck by lightning and entombed in sulfur have rejuvenating effects on the human body.
All Europeans speak perfect English...some with heavy British accents.
Blackmail is easy when you buddy up with bastard creations of science gone mad.
If yer last name is "Frankenstein", perhaps it's a wise idea to have it legally changed.
Superhuman monsters really dig creepy swami music of the horn variety.
Public trials for re-animated undead beasts----not a good idea.
Reading from your father's journal will cause flashbacks to footage from earlier film in your franchise.
Kenneth Strickfadden's electrical equipment is haunted by rear projection images.
Europeans draw conclusions quickly and are enraged by coincidence, especially in connection to a crime, with or without substantial evidence.
The Ghost of Frankenstein, even though more formula and cliche than actual plot, is a fun romp through a more subdued and innocent period in horror movie history. Just sit back and have fun...and have a few giggles giving thought to the fact that at one point this was as scary as it got. Highly recommended....
Friday, April 4, 2008
(1987 Columbia Pictures) Director: Thomas J. Wright Starring: Hulk Hogan, Kurt Fuller, Joan Severance, Tiny Lister
Things I Learned From This Movie:
1.) Contrary to popular belief, professional wrasslin' is REAL.
2.) Hulk Hogan possesses herculean...nay, super human strength.
3.) A great way to work out the upper body is punching your fucking fists through concrete blocks suspended on chains.
4.) Need a place to exercise? Try you local steel foundry while it's in operation.
5.) Ladies...never share a hotel room with the Hulkster.....
Okay.....No Holds Barred, the first top billing cinematic opus of the Man with the 24 Inch pythons (Hogan's only previous attempt at a film role had been as wrassler "Thunderlips" in one of Stallone's Rocky cash cows) demonstrates, above all, that for an action film....this flick makes a pretty good science fiction comedy. Why sci-fi, you say?
Read above statement Number #1
The Plot: Hogan portrays "Rip", not a real stretch, seeing as how Rip is a professional wrestler who steals alot of his gimmick from former squared-circle veteran Superstar Billy Graham. Kinda like a guy named....um....Hulk Hogan. "Rip" is the champion of some fictional movie federation and adored by the public. Just like the real world!
A slimy, rival sports promoter named Brell (Kurt Fuller) wants Rip for his own uses, but Rip sees him for the heal he is and turns him down.
Brell proceeds to try and kidnap Rip. Jesus, sports promotion seems alot like racketeering in this flick. Just like the real world!
Rip succeeds in escaping Brell's cronies, in the process using his super-human he-man type strength (see above statement Number #2) to destroy a limo with his bare hands. If the wrasslin' biz ever peters out for Hogan, he certainly has a future in the auto salvage business. Just like the real world!
Brell does not take this lightly, to say the least. He sends men to cripple Rip's younger wimp brother Rick. Along the way, he discovers the scary man-mountain Zeus (portrayed by "Tiny" Lister, of Friday and The Fifth Element fame). We know his name is this, because ever five seconds he tends to stare into the camera and say it menacingly or yell it in rage. Guy's got serious anger management issues, needless to say. Brell coherses Rip into fighting Zeus the mental giant, and all hell breaks loose. Whta follows is a clash of the titans not seen since....oh...I don't know....maybe the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (or G.L.O.W., to those of you who are wrestle savvy).
Rip wins. Whoop-de-shit. The End. P.S. Somewhere in there Joan Severance fits into all of this as Rip's girlfriend...or something.
All in all, decent time waster for an hour and a half. I wouldn't sell the kids or anything to track down the long out of print VHS....it hasn't made it to DVD yet (as I know of).....and maybe it's for the better. If ya want action like this...just go fire up the WWE on the ol' boob tube and watch it for free...
(1967 Mayflower Productions) Director: Byron Mabe Starring: Claire Brennen, Lee Raymond, Lynn Courtney, Bill McKinney, Claude Smith, and Felix Silla
There's a reason why I don't partake in the merriment of mechanical carnival and fairground amusement rides......
...when I was a kid in high school, an amusements vendor that used to service several of the county fairs in my hometown area would stroll into town and take up residence at the local fairground about three days before the county fair, and my friends and I knew it was time to make some quick cash....by climbing the fence and offering our "services" to the ride foreman, helping to assist in the set-up of the rides.....and trust me....the usual gang of idiots that I hung with were not construction engineers by no stretch of the imagination......myself included.
This usually involved myself (and said friends) just hanging out with various carny types, getting stoned and/or liquored up in the back of trailers and chasing "carny-tail" (don't ask). When we did work....it wasn't pretty. Let's just say that at one point in my life, while hanging in a harness upside down from a strut at the top of a ferris wheel , ninety-plus feet in the air with a tool belt...and in one hand some extra nuts and bolts that probably shoulda went somewhere, I began to realize that these things may not be too safe to be on, seeing as how the majority of them are set up in this fashion. Young, stupid kids just looking for beer money with a drop-wrench in their hand don't usually give much thought to safety procedures.
Ride at yer own risk, folks.......
The Plot: Opening with a Texas Chainsaw Massacre style title card sequence (sans the narration, though) which gives thanks to many carnival vendors and disavows that anything of the like of the following picture has ever happened, we are then treated to over five minutes of stock footage of a late 1960s carnival attraction in action while the title sequence is laid out. The dizzying scenes of fairground rides whirling about bring back childhood memories of county fairs past, but goes on way too long. If I wanted to see grubby carnies lazing about pulling brake handles with bright lights and buzzing noises, I'd just put in a day at my workplace and probably get the same effect. Cut to a greasy spoon style southern diner...ran by a guy named "Greasey"! Who'da thunk, eh? Greasy has in his employ one Jade (Claire Brennen), a mouthy trailer trash gal who buses tables in his joint, who dreams of leaving her podunk burg and making something of her life. Don't we all, honey...don't we all. But most of us aren't as bitchy about it.
A carny promoter stops by the joint just as Greasey is trying to put the moves on Jade....he's a slick one. "My wife's outta town. I'm a dirty smelly hick who owns a grease-pit...wanna do it?" Jade, spurning Greasey's Casanova-like charm, begs the promoter for info about obtaining a job with his traveling show, thus getting her fired. No big loss to the food service industry. She joins the carnival, at first working as a waitress (way to reach for the stars, Jade-baby!), where she meets with "Moon", a stripper with the girlie show (meow! The actress in this role is actually a decent looker) and Blackie, the ride foreman. Blackie's yer typical Rus Meyer-type tough guy, whom is a womanizer that Moon warns Jade about. She doesn't listen and has a fling with him. Then Jade falls for the Freak Show owner, a nice guy...whose money is the only thing Jade is interested in. Much to her later regret.
Jade visits the freak show...and is disgusted (FORESHADOWING!!!!!), all the while the owner falls for her, and they have a really quick marriage. So quick that Larry King would be envious. Jade continues to fool around with Blackie, until she's caught by Shorty, the freak show owner's cowboy hat wearin' midget assistant. Jade's hubby catches them in the act, and Blackie stabs him to death, leaving Jade to inherit the show. She mistreats the freaks, firing Shorty, pissing off her friend Moon and acts much like something that rhymes with.....oh...."BITCH" most of the time counting money. But the freaks take their revenge on her for the death of their friend, the sideshow owner....and she ends up an attraction herself! Never in a million years wouldya ever seen that one comin', would ya? Huh? Actually, the ending is pretty well telegraphed from the first ten minutes of the movie....The End.
Produced by David Friedman, a frequent collaborator with H.G. Lewis (2000 Maniacs, Blood Feast), it's easy to mistake this rip-off of Tod Browning's classic FREAKS as one of Lewis' works, because of similar editing techniques and camera set-ups, but was instead directed by Byron Mabe, the man behind the camera on The Acid-Eaters, a 1960s cult drug flick. A decent enough time-waster, worth a few chuckles.....