Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Friday the 13th part 1

Friday The 13th. Directed By Sean S. Cunningham, Starring Ari Lehman (1980).

This review is a special request from Brandon Hendrix a Deep Red devotee and brilliant writer (who should be writing for us). When I was growing up in South Florida, this movie was constantly on TV on the Miami station WDZL along with Shock Waves and Nightmare on Elm Street. I had seen the Tom Savini book beforehand, so I knew how all the kills were orchestrated, using dummies squibs and real weapons cut down to create the illusion that they were being inserted into head cavities. In the make-up book Grand Illusions or Bizarro which was it's alternate title at the library, there were full color spreads of gore for The Burning, Martin and Dawn of the Dead. The Savini book was a major spoiler for me because other than Dawn, I had yet to view all of the films. This didn't matter to me and yet another reason why I don't give a shit about giving away what happens in a film, it's all about the experience. I obsessively watched Nightmare on Elm Street, though and that became a problem with my Mom, she was worried about my psyche. I was pretty fixated on Freddy (as someone still today who owns a replica of the sweater, glove and a plush doll it's safe to say I still have a major problem but whatever, I take medication so don't fucking judge me)!

No judgement here, time for your meds.

As much as I like the other Friday sequels, this one stands on its own as a fun slasher movie. I remember when I was pretty young, I went over to this guy Dave's house in New York and during the scene where pre-teen Jason jumps out of the water and scares the shit out of the last girl. His Dad kind of scrambled to turn the dial (no remote control at the time) but it was too late! 
I wasn’t really traumatized however, this was also the first time I had discovered the cartoon Heavy Metal, which at the time was only available to watch on cable and no one had the rights yet.Sometimes you could catch it at a midnight screening but only bootlegs existed.

I'm backstrokin' my ass outta this hillbilly swamp.

As for that scene in Friday the 13th, I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but I thought it was pretty funny that a little skeleton kid covered in mud and grass pops up out of the water. I always crack up in the beginning when Irwin Keyes show up at the country diner, sadly he doesn’t even have any lines. I knew this lunkhead from The Exterminator 1 & 2 even though he died in the first movie, also from The Warriors and other cameos, he’s kind of made a career as a fun character actor on the Michael Berryman level. I had no idea until he passed away that he was a reoccurring character on The Jeffersons.

R.I.P. HUGO (aka Irwin Keyes)

Everybody in the town keeps trying to warn the smiley runty camp counselor girl played by Robbi Morgan (whose the third victim, after the two counselors who die before the credits). I like the Tom Bosley looking guy who drives her around saying "Camp Crystal Lake is jinxed!" That actor Rex Everhart voiced a TV special about Gnomes and Trolls that scared the bejeesus out of me as a youngster. At the time--because my parents were Christian hippies, any kind of satanic looking creatures repelled and also attracted me. Not much has changed as an adult obviously with me.

That Crazy "Motherfucker" Ralph, I never noticed before and I've seen this flick about 20 times that the characters mention his wife is worried about him, which is so strange to think that he's married! I guess even Hitler had a dog and girlfriend. Everyone in this movie has a catch phrase seemingly, "You're Doomed, Doomed" is one that's been copied in many other films. Most of the characters die in the sequel, which Tom Savini always bitches about with good reason. I don't care I love part 2 as well.

By today’s standards the nubile teen girls are pretty fugly looking. The cutest one in my estimation is the last surviving girl played by Adrienne King, she has that bowl haircut Vicki Lawrence has on the cover of "The Lights Went Out in Georgia". When I re-watch this movie all I can think about is Mrs. Voorhees behind the camera driving people around and then murdering them. Her scene is still one of my favorite parts.

Yay it's picture day at the yarn barn!

The difference between the uncut version and this is really slight, I mean just a couple of extra seconds of blood splatter or an open wound, that wouldn't have convinced me to plunk down the $25 to get a dub from Chas. I saw this on a double feature at the Castro theater with my pal goat. They played a really shitty washed out print of The Burning which is one of my all-time favorite slashers. It’s sort of follows the pattern of this one, except it’s more fun in an awkward nihilistic way. Even though Cropsey gets his head split open towards the end, I can't imagine they'd still bring him back for a sequel, probably in an alternate universe there's a run of Burning sequels with Fisher Stevens and Mark Ratner reprising their roles ala Corey Feldman and Kane Hodder. The most confusing thing to me was how they played the raft massacre scene after the flick ended because it was excised from the existing print.

The girl that gets an ax planted in her face doesn’t wear a bra and you can see every bump on her nipples. Betsy Palmer with that itchy thick sweater (she's wearing in the humid summer too) is the best character in the whole film to me at least. Her geriatric teeth clench as she hisses "Kill Her Mommy" is pretty chilling. There are so many elements used from Bay of Blood that I discussed in an early review like the itchy sweater wearing maniac hiding behind trees and deaths that were recreated against the 80's teens stolen from the Bava 60's.

The eerie piano of Harry Manfredini during the placid water as the credits float by always strikes me as a mysteriously ambiguous ending, what does it mean and will that damn ghost boy pop up out of the water again? He never does again in this first movie at least, but I always expect him to for the second time!

I'm not going to break down each sequel and only will cover the first one. There have been some wacky moments in practically every Friday sequel. For instance, Mrs. Voorhees' decapitation is usually a crowd pleaser and one reason I created a scratchy video moment from repeatedly re-winding that climax! If you look real close you can see the stunt guy's hairy knuckles reaching up to feel for the missing noggin. Later on in part 3, Mrs. Voorhees re-attaches her own head and pops up out of the water, leech infested sweater slopping around, like part one, as entertaining as it pans out, it makes no sense whatsoever. Part one triggered an avalanche of copycats and lame sequels but I have a special place in my heart for this genre and dig all the rip offs and foreign copies. Go buy a headshot from the original Jason kid Ari Lehman who's seemingly still out there.
See you next time when I feel like writing again, which might be just in time for USA UP ALL NIGHT week in MAY. Stay Tuned.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Monster of Piedras Blancas

The Monster of Piedras Blancas, Starring Les Tremayne, Don Sullivan, and Jeanne Carmen, Directed by Irvin Berwick (1959).

Reviewed by Richard Glenn Schmidt

“Remember! We’re burying the Rinaldi brothers in the morning. First class funeral. Better not miss it!”

In a small seaside town, Sturges the old lighthouse keeper (played by John Harmon) is keeping a secret and it’s not his plans to get a neck tattoo. He’s been buying meat scraps for years and feeding them to something on the rocks below the lighthouse. If you’ve ever wondered what widowed lighthouse keepers get up to, now you know! His hot daughter Lucille (Jeanne Carmen) is fresh from finishing school and thinks her dad is a harmless eccentric even though he talks to his dog constantly. She works at the local diner and is dating the local science dude named Local Fred (Don Sullivan).

 Vague Accent Man knows what’s up.

Life is pretty spectacular (and horrifically dull) for all parties involved until the friggin’ monster that Sturges has been feeding starts ripping off local Italian men’s heads and feasting on their blood. Before this monster business started, the most action that Constable George (Forrest Lewis) has had to deal with is The Shoe Soiler down at the library. He, Local Fred, and Dr. Sam (Les Tremayne) are the masterminds who will get to the bottom of this monster rigmarole. They have a scale sample from one of the corpses and it’s definitely a Klyptovertablah (that’s what I wrote in my notes). One by one, the old monster claims victims including a child that should have known better than to go outside.

Hey baby, have you ever seen From Here to Eternity?


The local yokels form a posse to catch this thing and they are spectacularly ineffective. Someone actually says, “If he can think then we’re in real trouble.” Finally, the monster heads to the lighthouse to kidnap Lucille because he thinks he’s the Creature from the Black Lagoon. But he’s too much a doofus to remember how bad he wants to make sweet love to her (just like in The Shape of Water) when Sturges enrages him by pathetically shooting his impenetrable hide with a shotgun. They are able to trick the monster into falling off the lighthouse to his death or not. I’m gonna say death because this never got a sequel.

 Thank you, my constant reminder of your dead mother.

Director Irvin Berwick spent most of his career as a dialog coach on westerns. The only other of his directorial works I’ve seen is the hilarious garbage melodrama, Malibu High. Producer Aubrey “Girl’s Name” Schenck was responsible for producing such films as Voodoo Island, The Black Sleep, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Frankenstein 1970, Pharaoh's Curse, and Daughters of Satan. I kinda love this dude. What a career (of schlock)!

 Bold as brass (not the Split Enz song).

Cinematographer Philip H. Lathrop is the reason why this film looks so damn good. His 30 year career behind the camera has some real classy stuff in it like The Illustrated Man, Touch of Evil, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s just to name a few. Two years after this monster flick, screenwriter H. Haile Chace also wrote and directed a little film called V.D. AKA Damaged Goods about a high school jock with painful urination. I guess that was his passion project.

I theorize that I won’t remember being in this film.

Blond bombshell, Jeanne Carmen, is quaintly bad in this film and I wouldn’t want her any other way. Pretty boy Don Sullivan didn’t do much but he was in Teenage Zombies and The Giant Gila Monster! The wildly prolific Les Tremayne was in every damn thing but I know him best from The Angry Red Planet. Also prolific but less memorable is old chew-toy face, Forrest Lewis, who was in The Thing That Couldn't Die but I don’t remember him at all. Of course, no one in this movie was in more crap than John Harmon! This motherfucker has nearly 300 film and TV credits under his belt with his final film being Microwave Massacre. Go out with a bang much?

Where’s my penis, Guillermo del Toro!?

I’m glad that Olive Films put out a super nice Blu-ray of this film that has somehow eluded me for so long. All of the pseudoscience and fun goofs fill my heart with an artery clogging warmth that will be with me until I croak. Sorry, those garbage cigars that Constable George were chomping on throughout the film are reminding me of my own mortality.

The other people who saw this film.

What a joy that The Monster of Piedras Blancas is. It has some serious charm and moxie going for it despite all of the half-assery going on. The camp is high and the monster, in spite of his doofness, isn’t fucking around. He kills adults and children alike and walks around in broad daylight with his severed head to-go cup. The Angry Samoans used a production still from this movie for their 1982 album, Back from Samoa. Speaking of punk rock, when the monster buys the farm at the end of the movie, his death scream is just a dude screaming. How is that related to punk? It’s not, it’s just lazy as balls.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Skunkape and I have been a fan of Islandrocks aka Mr. Thomas Nylom for a long time going back to when Youtube was thee place to find undiscovered talent. It was still a trash heap of ungodly, moronic celebs, oozing with narcissism, however this one man stood out from the shit and self-diluted trash. 

I'm drowning in an overflowing toilet of self appreciation

Nylom was the first guy I can think of who took Italian Horror themes, Nintendo core, Actionsploitation and covered them brilliantly before it all became another run of the mill internet trend and he did it with total dedication and gusto. Going to Youtube to find music is annoying and the fans demanded we have these awesome tracks on a portable system to blast in our cars! It’s about time, right? So what do we have in store for this full length first effort by Islandrocks? Well, it begins with a genius re-working of Claudio Simonetti’s Demons theme, which I liked even more than the cEvin Key remix. That tracks takes Hall of the mountain king and discos the fuck outta it!

pass the dust, I'm so Studio 54.

The guitar tones and piano have never sounded better on these Fulci themes, if you are a fan of Italian horror you might start drooling over how glorious they sound. Slurp, ahem—I know I was!

He really hit the nail on the head!

Carpenter/ Howarth eat your hearts out because Island "rocks" your movie themes as well in the most face melting style possible! There's even some originals on there, one inspired by The Dead Next Door. Nylom has a way of making horror themes sound like you’ve never heard them before done in all kinds of original and crazy styles. What are you waiting for? Go out of your way to get a copy! 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Dear Dead Delilah

Dear Dead Delilah Directed By John Farris (1972).

I saw "Shakespeare Was a Big George Jones Fan", an insanely fun documentary on the Shout Factory app about Cowboy Jack Clement. Clement worked with most of the famed artists of Sun Records and discovered Charley Pride. He was close friends with Johnny Cash, George Jones,Waylon Jennings and wrote shit that rocketed them all to superstardom in the real deal country heyday of Nashville before it was all ruined by the pop country swill. Clement mistakenly decided to delve into the sleazy world of film production. He even mentions this movie in the documentary and seems slightly embarrassed by it. As he should because it totally sucks, but it's not like he wrote it. The writer and director of this John Farris, penned The Fury for Brian DePalma and one of my favorite Masters of Horror episodes about the ice cream clown played by William Forsythe.

This one is on a double feature with Savage Intruder (which we reviewed before from If you like hillbilly weirdos and Agnes Moorhead than you'll be as thrilled as a cornpone hick at a Cracker Barrel buffet.

I always get the IGNORMOOSE in that Cracker barrel peg game.

It begins with a swollen eyed gal who must've slaughtered her mother, because she talks to a corpse, stunned and rotting on the stove covered in blood. Then a girl with 2 black eyes and a soiled wig gets into some shenanigans. The whole flick is scratchy, strewn with film lines and cigarette burns. It all plays out like an even duller Tennessee Williams rejected play. Sometimes the tubby blonde who wears all white blends into the bedsheets which are also white and it looks like those 2 black eyes and teeth are hovering around. The Ormonds knew what they were doing with technicolor and music, you'd think Cowboy Jack would've joined forces with them and not gone out of his way to make Trashville look so fucking mundane and uneventful.

The main actress looks sort of like Meg Whitman, that Benjamin Franklin looking candidate who lost to Jerry Brown. If you're craving to see Agnes Moorehead on a rampage you're shit outta luck, watch that episode of the Twilight Zone where she beats the tar out of those robots instead. Everyone drinks then stares at the camera and does a little dull soliloquy. Seriously, I have no idea who or what these people are doing or what's going on. So like Veronica Lake in Flesh Feast, this is that bitchy Mother-in-law you know and love's from Bewitched and Citizen Kane's swan song.

I'm a bargain basement Rebel Wilson.

I was happy to see Michael Ansara, the Indian medicine man from my all time favorite stoner film The Manitou. One dude has the same hair as Dirk Benedict from the A-Team and Battlestar Galactica. I can't believe it, but I swear to God, Hillbillies in a Haunted House is a better movie than this piece of shit! I'm starting to think this is just a lost episode of Mama's Family with less interesting results. After watching that documentary you'd think Cowboy Jack would have more sense but maybe he was just trying to lull people into a deep sleep, for whatever unknown reason!
This one is rough but not as painful as another Guinea Pig sequel or root canal, that's a positive right? Kindertrauma dug it and I almost always side with them, they compared it to S.F. Brownrigg who I despise and Blood and Lace, which is a bazillion times better than this dreck. Don't take my opinion though.

In the XXX version of Bewitched they felt my actual name was porny enough.

I like my Manitou'd broiled and topped with gorgonzola.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dracula's Greatest Love

COUNT DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE, Directed by Javier Aguirre (1972).

Hello from the TOG headquarters, Erok decided to hand the keys over to one of the head honchos over at The Paul Naschycast, because most of our writers hands were bitten off by the Italian shark from one of those Bruno Mattei rip offs. Take it away Troy Guinn and thanks for the fun review.

Rod Barnett and I are the hosts of Naschycast. Our first episode was in February of 2010. We were already the two biggest Naschy fans we knew, and realized there weren't any podcasts devoted to him so we decided to start one. In 2017 we did audio commentaries for 5 Naschy films on Blu ray. We have a Facebook page for the Naschycast, you can also find the episodes on iTunes and on Rod's blog site, The Bloody Pit of Rod

This movie first drew me into its haunted, languid realm when it played on late night television, at a time when I was just becoming familiar with Paul Naschy’s face, if still a few years away from truly appreciating his importance to, and influence on, the horror films of Spain. Perhaps it was the combination of absorbing a previously-unseen take on a very familiar and beloved classic monster, the exotic beauty of the actresses, and the hypnotic three-note motif of the main score at 2am in a dark living room that left me feeling I had witnessed something singularly strange among horror films. Repeated viewings in the years since have revealed CDGL’s not-inconsiderable flaws, and yet the qualities I appreciated upon first experience have retained their power as well.

Don't snicker at my lockjaw, I stepped on a rusty nail!

After the pre-credits sequence, in which two workers delivering coffins to a castle get a bit too nosey and are brutally dispatched by an unseen assailant, our story proper begins: A group of young people (four female college students and their male friend) are traveling through the Borgo Pass (never a good idea under ANY circumstances) when their carriage is wrecked and the driver is killed in the accident. The companions are given shelter by a reclusive physician, Dr. Marlow (Paul Naschy). During the days of their stay, the girls frolic in Dr. Marlow’s swimming pool, read books about Dracula in his library, and a couple of them even vie for the doctor’s affections. Over the course of several nights, Marlow’s guests are turned to vampires (and subsequently vamp others themselves) until only the doctor and the lady who has won his heart, Karen (Haydee Politoff) are left. Ultimately, the vampiric presence haunting the castle turns out to not only be Count Dracula, but his spirit has been inhabiting Dr. Marlow’s body and he succeeds in overcoming the doctor’s persona completely. Thus begins a complicated series of rituals, intended to restore life to the Count’s daughter Radna and requiring Karen’s sacrifice, yet the Count finds himself seriously struggling with a complication he hadn’t foreseen: ol’ fangs is IN LOVE.

live action dainty thrift store figurines.

Of all the films I consider “essential” in Naschy’s filmography, CDGL is easily the sloppiest in its narrative construction. However, it also just might be the most hauntingly beautiful in its visual realization. Before I go further, let me state that while CDGL will always be considered a “Naschy” film, the credit for its qualities (which are 90% visual) really goes to director Javier Aguirre and cinematographer Raul Perez Cubero. Characters do a lot of walking and talking in this film. Even when they are not talking, they walk…and walk…and walk. Yet, the foggy moors, the sunlit treetops, the mist-shrouded corridors and vampire’s crypts, even the shades and tones of the characters’ skin, hair and clothing make the film wash over the viewer like a virtually unbroken cyclorama of dream imagery. Then there are those moments of more jolting visual inventiveness, such as when the vampiresses leap from the ground onto a rooftop, or when Dracula drives a dagger completely through a hypnotized victim’s neck and fills a goblet with her blood while she stands there mute, feeling no pain. Both of these ideas, I’m pretty sure, were new to vampire cinema at their time.

ACCHH I paid extra to have coffin skin protection, not cool!

In extolling the film’s virtues, certainly much praise must be given to the quartet of actresses who are the lovers/victims/vamps served up for the Count’s desires: Politoff, Ingrid Garbo, Rosanna Yanni, and Mirta Miller. These ladies are radiant, too be sure, and in a genre where creepily sexy vampiresses are plentiful, the vamps of CDGL can lure, seduce and destroy with the very best of the Hammer Films vixens. However, I doubt enough credit is ever given to the performances of the four actresses and how well they convey the individual personality “types” of their characters. One could say that Miller is a bit miscast as the “timid scairdy-cat” girl, but not because of her performance; simply that with her fiery red hair and arching eyebrows (which suggest nothing so much as bats in flight) she looks like a vamp-in-waiting already. When she finally is “turned” and revels in orgasmic ecstasy and fresh human blood spilling from her mouth (and her victim’s nude breasts), it seems as if the real Mirta Miller has finally stood up. Okay, so no shortage of beauty among these ladies, but equally commendable is the chemistry the actresses establish with one another, believably conveying the dynamics of long-time friends.

Despite the ultimate great failings of the script, I still marvel at Naschy’s ability to bring fresh ideas to genre archetypes. In CDGL, we have what has to be one of the earliest portrayals of Dracula as a tragic figure, struggling between fulfilling the destinies proscribed for both his daughter and himself, yet dreading the need to sacrifice the woman he loves. He even sheds tears, and while Naschy is not technically the FIRST crying Dracula (there are those odd shots of Christopher Lee seeming to weep as he crumbles to dust at the end of HORROR OF DRACULA, and his tears of blood as he is impaled on the cross in DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE), at least Naschy’s Count cries over the choices he’s made, not just over his own rotten luck. It is important here to note that CDGL prefigures Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire” and the modern “Vampire as anti-hero” by several years. When Dr. Marlow makes love to Karen, it is seemingly this action that triggers the takeover of his personality by Dracula, in remarkable similarity to what happens to the vampire Angel/Angelus in the 90’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series. Now, I’m not suggesting that Buffy creator Joss Whedon drew this idea directly from CDGL (though the film DID make the television rounds so Whedon could certainly have come across it); I simply take it as more evidence that Naschy was so often ahead of the curve.

Naschy is the genius behind The Werewolf & The Yeti, impressed?

Okay, enough of being nice. Each new viewing of COUNT DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE also makes me aware of what a face-palming mess the script is. That script…oh dear. Yes, anyone who studies this film is aware of its troubled production history: how an accident that injured a few of the cast members caused the filming to shut down, how HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE was filmed in the interim (and emerged as the far superior of the two films) and then work resumed to complete CDGL. Such setbacks can allow us to cut the film a little slack, but it can’t excuse everything. We’ll never know how many of the story’s flaws were there initially, and how much stems from the confused production schedule, but the impression is often of a film that doesn’t remember what has happened in the previous scene. Naschy commonly loads his mythologies with overly-detailed rituals and laws, but even a flow chart here wouldn’t help us understand (1) whether Dracula is a sadistic harbinger of evil or an avenging angel, (2) whether Dr. Marlow KNOWS he carries Dracula within him, or is unaware of his vampiric alter-ego (3) why, if Dracula has been dormant inside Dr. Marlow, has he still obviously been operating freely on his own? There’s no doubt it is Dracula who arranges the delivery of his daughter’s body and subsequently vampirizes one of the men who drop off the casket in the film’s prologue.

the negative reviews are in.

Apparently, there were intentions to film a sequel to CDGL that would have focused on Dracula’s resurrected daughter, Radna. While it is enticing to imagine how this never-filmed project might have turned out (just think, it could have been called COUNT DRACULA’S RECKLESS DAUGHTER!), I’m of the opinion CDGL would have been better to have lost the daughter subplot altogether. Instead, the idea of Dr. Marlow and Dracula inhabiting the same body and the one’s attempt to dominate the other could have been more cohesively developed, with Karen’s fate hanging in the balance.

SHHH, She's sleeping be quiet!

Then, of course, we have one of the film’s most odd devices: The elimination of virtually all dialogue once Dracula makes his appearance. The final act of the film instead features narration by Dracula while the cast all bare their fangs and stare at one another. It’s assumed each character is hearing Dracula’s voice via telepathy, but just why this method was chosen remains a mystery. It can’t be because the actors had difficulty speaking with fangs in place, because any dialogue (English, Spanish or otherwise) would have been dubbed anyway; and if the narration was intended to explain to the viewers what is going on, then it is so confusingly written that it ultimately achieves the exact opposite effect. Perhaps the film’s last third would have been better without any words at all, since its greatest strength is its visual poetry. If the last act had been fully relinquished to the dream-like series of images, it might have become the Spanish horror film genre’s closest equivalent to the vampire cinema of Jean Rollin.

Despite its flaws, I still consider COUNT DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE to be a lovely bit of cinema, and I recommend you let it take you on a stroll through its misty forests. The modern phrase of “Just go with it” could easily have been created to explain the seductive qualities of European horror cinema, and it could very well be the key to falling in love with COUNT DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE.

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