Upcoming stuff and junk

revenge

I still owe a review of Curse of the faceless man this week. Also this week I still hope to do a Poster Posting and likely a Saturday Morning Flashback. Next week will be a half week for me because the second half of the week will see me taking my first vacation in six years. I don’t plan on writing while I am away. So for the half week I’ll aim to do reviews Raw Meat AKA: Deathline and Revenge of the creature plus Dr. Smith will be by and if there is time I’ll do a list of some sort. I guess I’ll announce the week after that since I won’t here late next week to announce it. So that week will be sequels week with probably reviews of Critters 3, Friday the 13th Part VIII and Phantasm 2.

Have a great week!

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Santa Claus conquers the martians

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We don’t need no stinkin’ Santa Clauses!

1964

Hey, it’s Christmas in July for this review.

Who’s in this? A bunch of people who never did much else oe don’t want you to know that they did this film. Top names are actress/singer Pia Zadora as an alien girl, she was only ten here. Fans of classic tv will recorgnize the late Ned Wertimer as a tv reporter, Wertimer is most known for having played Ralph the doorman on the Jeffersons.

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What’s this about? Martian children get tv broadcasts talking about how cool this Santa guy is. Some of the green skinned adults decide to abduct Santa and bring him on over to their planet. Along the way they graba couple of kids too. Hey even Mars has soupusses as one tries to kill Santa, no presents for you this year Mr. evil killy martian guy. Santa also gets a toy facotory on his new planet. Some frowning green goobers try to mess it up-oh, the horror. Eventually there’s a big old silly lovable battle in the martian toy factory. The non-rotten apples win and it’s decided that this clumsy goon martian who likes Santa will be the martian Santa and the real Santa p0lus the two kids will be shipped back to planet Earth. Hey we got the best of that deal.

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The martians have to wear spandex wahahahahaha.

The negatives-Sure, it’s low budget. The sets are thin, the costumes were thrown together and the acting is what it is-corny down to wooden. The film is also slow at times.

The postives-The idea isn’t as bad as most people make it out to be. Why shouldn’t the martians want Santa? It combines Christmas and aliens. Silly? Sure, but remember who this was aimed at-kids. This wasn’t meant to be an action sci-fi film and too many people forget that and jump all over it. I like the silly humor and the thrown together martain costumes. It may have been better if it was a little shorter, but mostly it’s a goofy yet likable enough film if you like Santa and martians and who doesn’t?

This film makes a lot of worst films of all time lists. For me those lists should be full of stuff that’s hard to get through and this film was not like that. It has tons of holes, but it was worth a laugh and fits it good as a watch at Christmas time with the kids kind of film. Hooray for Santy Claus!

Halloween costumes?

2012

So every year for Halloween we go to a Halloween party at a fire hall near where my wife works. They have a costume contest with different categories. The kids had done individual ones in the past, but last year they wanted to do a group so my daughter went as a mad scientist and my son and I went as her monsters. So now Halloween 2013 is a mere three months away so it’s time to start figuring out costumes. We discussed the possibility of Despicable Me characters with me as Gru and them as minions, but my son doesn’t want me to shave the three hairs I have on my head. My son and I discussed giant monsters with Godzilla, Rodan, King Kong and Mothra all being possibilities, but my daughter wants nothing to do with those. The kids talked about going as Pokemon characters. I told them I’d do it, but it certainly would not be my first choice. So we are still searching for costume ideas.

The Wolfman

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1940

Lon Chaney Jr. as Larry Talbot/the wolfman. The son of actor Lon Chaney of course. Chaney Jr. made a splash playing Lenny in Of mice and men, but his role in the wolfman would launch a long although up and down career in horror films for him. The only guy to play Universal’s Wolfman during this run and the only guy to play the big four monsters for Universal (Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstien’s monster and the mummy).

Evelyn Ankers as Gwen a local girl who works in a shop and is already engaged, but that doesn’t totally stop Larry’s advances. Ankers did around fifty films between the mid 30’s and the early 50’s before retiring to be a housewife. She did a number of horror/monster films, but this is likely her most known role.

Claude Rains as Sir John Talbot father of Larry and owner of lots of land. Rains was a British born actor who was in the business for almost fifty years. A four time academy award nominee he was in Casablanca, The invisible man, Mr. Smith goes to Washington, The adventures of Robin Hood and tons of other films.

Also in this one are horror legend Bela Lugosi in an all too brief role as Bela the gypsy. Maria Ouspenskaya as the gypsy woman. Ralph Bellamy is in this one too and he would go to actor for several more decades after this.

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What’s this about? Larry returns home after his brother has died. He visits his dad who appears to be of a different nationality and doesn’t appear old enough to be his dad, maybe this is why they didn’t get along so well. Anyways Larry is going to stay for a little while. He then gets the hots for local Gwen and even buys a silver wolf walking stick from her. Hey that could come in handy later. Lets all get our palms read by the visiting gypsy, that will be a gasser. Bela the gypsy sees a pentagram on the hand of Gwen’s friend Jenny. Soon Bela turns into a wolf awhowhowhooooo and he kills Jenny. Larry kills Bela in wolf form with the silver part of his cane, but not before getting bit. Oh dude that can’t be good. Maybe Larry is a killer or maybe not. Soon Larry’s feet get all fuzzy under the full moon and he goes werewolfin’ across the foggy woods. The villagers who believe such stuff panic, but the police and Sir John’s employees are more steady and go in pursuit of whatever this is. Larry does some killing and has vague memories of what he did once he turns back to his human self. Eventually he goes on a fuzzy rage, but his daddy whops him with the silver part of the cane – bob bop bop, take that fuzzfoot! Larry dies and turns from fuzz covered snarling killing machine back to normal guy. Are you kidding this film made money so you know he will be back again. Roll the credits.

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The negatives- I was rarely thrilled by Chaney Jr. unless he’s playing a monster. He is okay as Talbot but not great.

The positives-Claude Rains was always good and this is no exception. Chaney was a great wolfman even if I wasn’t by his Larry Talbot. The film has a solid supporting cast. The whole legend angle is great and many films for decades tried to copy it. The wolfman make-up is good for the time. The foggy woods look fantastic too. I live in an area that can get thick fog on summer nights and it always makes me think of this film. Definitely a classic film.

I may have seen this when I was really little, but I’m not sure. The first time I remember seeing it was when I was 16 on Count Gore De Vol’s Creature Feature and I was very much into it. I watch it several times a year and my son likes it a lot too. We watched it on Svengoolie last night so I decided to put up a review while it was fresh in my mind.

Hammer horror vs. Universal monsters

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If you have read this blog much you may have picked up the fact that I like old Universal monsters and Hammer horror films quite a bit. Both have similarities in that most of their earlier films focused on classic monsters with several of them like Dracula and Frankenstein being based although loosely on books. Both companies created trends in horror that lasted for the next decade or so. Universal thrived in black and white with castles, fogs and superstitious villagers being set upon by monsters. Hammer did some of the same things only in color and as they went along they took more risks and eventually added more violence, nudity and at times ventured out of the gothics and into present day or then present day. Universal’s big stars were Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. while Hammer’s big regular stars were Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Universal of course came first and no doubt their films had some influence on Hammer once that studio decided to focus on horror films. I had watched plenty of films from both studios and certainly gone through phases where I watch one more than the other, but now I watch films from both studios quite a bit. Universal monsters to me always had great monsters, but the stories and amount of action varied from film to film. Hammer’s strength was probably when they explored greater themes than just stop the monster however eventually they began to cut the budget on their films and it frequently showed.

So maybe it’s one of those pressing questions in the entertainment world much like Star Trek or Star Wars or Ginger or Maryann so do you prefer Hammer or Universal? Is it draw? If you pick then why? Or do just throw taste to the wind and prefer crappy slasher flicks?

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Flash Gordon

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1980

Okay, some brief background here from my standpoint. I first saw the old Flash Gordon serials on tv when I was like 7 or 8 and liked them. Around that same time my brother had some Flash Gordon comics from the 60’s and I enjoyed those as well. When the 1979 cartoon came on I was in awe of it. A year later here are these commercials for Flash Gordon movie. I was interested but my parents didn’t take us to the movies back then. No one I knew went to see it. So I forgot about the movie until about three years later when I picked up a three pack of the comics adaption of the movie for a buck at the Dollar Store. I read them one after the other and kind of liked it and thought hey maybe the movie is good, but I never had a chance to see it. Years went by I saw the serials again a few times and enjoyed them for what they were. Still I never got around to seeing the 1980 film, but somewhere along the line I kind of decided I didn’t really want to see it because as I met people who had seen it they were normally like oh, it’s so funny, cheesy, corny. Well, I can appreciate that kind of film the only thing is I had liked Flash as a character of real action not as a hoot or a gas or a knee slapping popcorn flick for someone to look down their nose at. Anyways blah, blah, blah I eventually decided to stop being sour and break down earlier this month, buy it and give it a chance on a rainy Sunday afternoon with the kids. I’m skipping the cast this time to get straight to the film because unlike me you probably saw this a bunch of times already.

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Why no we are not from around here.

What’s this about? So Flash Gordon is a star player for the New York Jets. Wait a good offensive player for the Jets in the early 1980’s? Now that is science fiction. Anyways he wears a shirt with his name on it you know in case he forgets and then he gets tangled up with a wild scientist Zarkhov and a woman with poofy hair named Dale (not to be confused with the male chipmunk of the same name). Eventually kaplooey they go to another world that looks like a bunch of paint cans blew up everywhere decorating everything and everyone in blinding colors. The evil guards wear crimson so you won’t see the blood when they get whacked. There’s lots of red in this film too as just about everyone wears it at one time or another. Ming you know the merciless loves red and really short hair cuts and spinach on his chin. I think there’s some spotty plot about Flash trying to stop Ming from destroying earth or something. Remember Earth it’s that place without winged warriors, painted skies and silly shiny baddies. Flash eventually plays a game of “let’s stick our hands in a stump and wait to die” with James Bond who is dressed as Robin Hood. When that gets boring (no, not the bore worms or is that boar worms) they move on to other stuff. Eventually everyone’s fighting kapow, blast, boom. Ming and Dale are to wed and you’ll get some executions while you wait hey cool, but the prisoners get free aww boo no executions. The good people are trying to blast, push and fly their way to stop the wedding. Obviously Ming and his guards took shooting lessons from Imperial storm troopers. Flash crashes a flaming ship into the palace. He accidently impales Ming and green blood spurts out although of a dark shade of green as opposed to the prettier shade of green of Spock’s blood. Ming still tries to stop Flash with a glowy ring pop, but Flash waggles a plastic misshapen sword at him. Ming fades away, the good people smile. A hand picks up Ming’s ring pop and a question mark after The End keeps it open for a sequel, but that never happened because only people in the UK went to see it. Roll the credits.

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Behold my jazz hands.

The negatives- Sam Jones is okay and maybe his stiffness works alright as the craziness just goes on around him, but I kept expecting him to warm up some and that never quite happened. Also Melody Anderson is very mediocre. She also starts out okay, but actually gets more annoying as the film goes along. “I’m lost, Aura” -that’s the truth.

The positives-Max Van Sydow plays it mostly straight as Ming and that works and he certainly looks the part. Brian Blessed is wonderful and loud as Vultan plus he has a great bread as always. The sets are mostly pretty cool in a tacky, blinding sort of way. They candy colored skies fit in well in everything else. The pacing is generally good as although much of this is campy jokes they knew when to jump to something else and not overstay their welcome on a part unlike other films like Galaxina. The soundtrack by Queen is fittingly over the top and actually compliments the film.

I cringed at a few parts, but overall it’s good. It’s not Starcrash, but it’s good and I’ll re-visit it again soon.

Upcoming stuff and junk

flashgordon

I still hope to review Flash Gordon to close out 1980’s sci-fi action week. Hope you have enjoyed it so far. Next week I hope to review The Curse of the faceless man and likely one other film perhaps Santa Claus Conquers the martians to be a Christmas in July type thing. Dr. Smith will be by as well as a poster posting, something about season threee of Star Trek and maybe a list of some sort. I actually just picked up Curse of the faceless man and I am looking forward to it as I have never seen it.

Have a great week!

The Running Man

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1987

Who’s in this?
Ah-nold is in this like you didn’t know.

So is Richard Dawson, Jessie the body, Jim Brown, Professor Toru Tanaka and well that’s already enough reasons to see this and my guess if you should have already seen this a bunch of times.

What’s this about? So this big dude is set up to take a fall and ends up in a futuristic prison, but soon he and some others escape. Not so fast he gets caught and this time a woman who was unwillingly with him gets taken too. But, hey no prison this time instead they get a chance at freedom by getting to compete on “The running man” a real life brutal game show where the contestants have to get past Stalkers- big old killers with goofy names. Richards (Arnold) of course fights back while delivering one liners and wins out eventually. Dawson gets his and roll the credits.

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Share, boys share.

The negatives-Some people like to look back at 80’s action films and tilt theire noses up (like today’s action films are so sophisticated). This film may get the cheese label thrown it at times.

The positives-The action is solid even if some of the effects are dated. The pacing is a definite plus here and that makes up for a lot. Arnold stands up pretty well here and seems very comfortable with the part. Maria Conchita Alonso was in my mind far better than most of the leading ladies that end up in Arnold’s films. Richard Dawson is awesome in being so over the top and cruel. The supporting cast in general are everything they needed to be.

This has always been one of my favorite Arnold films and one that I feel like I am always in the mood to watch.

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How shiny, just like a headlight or a firefly’s butt.