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Thursday, April 24, 2014

VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE 1958 (TOKYO SHOCK)

Underrated Japanese sci-fi film.

This review is for the Japanese version, not the US version with Myron Healey.

A small Japanese village in the mountains worship a strange God. When two explorers are killed the rumors spread and finally a huge monster called Varan appears and destroys the village and heads for civilization.

Varan is a pretty cool looking monster than can also fly due to membranes between his arms and legs. He heads for Tokyo and nothing can stop him. Many are killed during the fights and Varan makes his way to Tokyo and proceeds to destroy some of it before a professor comes up with a way that might just stop him.

As a monster Varan never went anywhere in the Japanese cinema market and that is a shame. I like this film a lot. Varan only appeared in one other film which was "Destroy All Monsters: in 1969, and then only very briefly as he is seen flying.

Tokyo Shock turned this out in a beautiful widescreen version with Japanese subtitles and it is one of my favorite discs. I highly recommend this.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO....

Stacy Haiduk is 46.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

CRY DANGER 1951 (OLIVE)

Another fine film noir on Blu-ray.

This film noir gem was filmed in just 22 days and stars Dick Powell as an ex con sent to jail on a frame up. Once he is out he begins looking for the real thieves of a $100,000 bankroll. His goal is to clear his name and that of his friend Dan, who is also in jail for the same crime.

Along the way he meets Delong, a disabled vet who evidence freed him. Powell's character of Rocky is a hard and cold one while elong, played by Richard Erdman is only interested in women and booze.

Rocky also meets Nancy, the wife of his friend Danny. Nancy is played by the lovely Rhonda Fleming and she and Powell are a very good combination. There are a lot of twists and turns along the way as Rocky tries to find out who framed him. He is eventually led to Castro, a big burly crime boss played by William Conrad. Castro is the man who framed Rocky and much to Rocky's surprise so did Danny and Nancy.

This is a gritty and very realistic film noir that uses actual Los Angeles locations for most of the filming. Thank goodness this has been restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Funding for this Blu-ray release was provided by the Film Noir Foundation. Olive has done a great job with bringing this to DVD. If you're a film noir buff, this is a must see.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO......

Lee Majors is 75.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL 1958 (DVD-R)

A classic exploitation film.

You can always tell a movie is great is someone like Jerry Lee Lewis comes riding into a high school campus banging on the piano singing a damn good rocking tune.

Russ Tamblyn is a student new to a high school who quickly moves in and takes over the local drug scene. He steps on everyone's toes and is finally taken to see the big shot named "Mr. A". During his rise to the top he meets Joan Staples, a very attractive student who is hooked on reefers. His teacher, the lovely Jan Sterling tries to help but it seems all Tamblyn wants to do is jive talk and get her in the sack.

The real highlight of this movie is Mamie Van Doren as Tamblyn's aunt, who is always trying to seduce him. When we are first introduced to her character of Gwen it's hard to understand how Tamblyn can possibly resist her. I know I couldn't. Jack Arnold directed this Albert Zugsmith production and the rest of the cast is a b-movie lovers dream and includes, John Drew Barrymore as the drug pusher Tamblyn tries to put out of business, Diane Jurgens is Joan, Ray Anthony, Mel Wells, Jackie Coogan is "Mr. A", Charles Chaplin, Jr., Michael Landon, Jody Fair, and Lyle Talbot.

It turns out that Tamblyn's character of Tony isn't really what he seems to be. There is no two ways about it, this is a great movie for fans of exploitation and of course, Mamie Van Doren. For some reason this hasn't come out on DVD so it may be hard to find. It does run on TCM once in a while,a nd if it does WATCH IT!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO.....

Jack Nicholson is 77, John Waters is 68, Peter Frampton is 64, and Glen Campbell is 78.

Monday, April 21, 2014

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE 1988 (MGM)

Step right up.

This is a perfect combination of horror/sci-fi/comedy. When two young people see a meteor land in the woods they investigate and find a circus tent, but it is no circus tent. Instead it is an alien spaceship with evil killer clowns who keep people in cotton candy cocoons in order to eat them later.

John Vernon stars as Officer Mooney, a cynical and hateful cop who refuses to believe in anything he cannot understand. He fits the role perfectly. The aliens use toy guns to kill humans, balloon dogs to track people down and all of the other things you'd usually see in a circus.

Director Stephen Chiodo co-wrote with his brother Charles Chiodo an they have made a timeless classic. The rest of the cast in this bizarre thriller includes Grant Cramer, Royal Dano, Suzanne Snyder and John Allen Nelson. If you haven't seen this film yet, you really need to. There is still nothing quite like it.

You will also enjoy the theme song entitled "Killer Klowns From Outer Space" by the Dickies. It is a very unique song and if you find the video on YouTube you'll be entertained.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO....

Ed Leslie is 57, and Dee Hartford 86.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

DAGORA THE SPACE MONSTER 1964 (TOKYO SHOCK)

Fun Japanese sci-fi.

Huge diamond thefts are being reported all over the world and it soon becomes apparent that it's more than the usual run of lawlessness.

It's discovered that a huge space amoeba is eating the diamonds as well as coal for it's carbon content. This is an interesting mixture of gangster film and monster movie. One of the more neglected Toho films of the time, this is a very interesting film with it's cross plotting working very well.

The delectable Akiko Wakabayashi is a gangster moll and every time she is on camera I melt. Robert Dunham is an American detective on the case of the stolen diamonds and has what is his biggest role ever in the many Japanese productions he was involved in, at least up until Godzilla Vs. Megalon.

This is a fun film, and well worth checking out.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO....

Carmen Electra is 42, Clint Howard is 55, Veronica Cartwright is 65, Judith O' Dea is 69, Gary Raymond is 79, Elena Verdugo is 88, and Olga Karlatos is 67.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

TALES FROM THE CRYPT SEASON 5 (WARNER)

Another very good season.

13 episodes comprise this season, and as usual there are some standouts. The first three episodes are unforgettable and it gets the season off and running.

Some of the many guest stars include Yvonne DeCarlo, Ed Begley, Jr., Adam West, Roger Daltry, Bill Paxton, Brooke Shields, Traci Lords, Kate Vernon, Frank Stallone and Priscilla Presley.

Here are the episodes.

Death Of Some Salesmen (10/2/93) A crooked cemetery salesman meets a bizarre backwater family.

As Ye Sow (10/2/93) A jealous hubby thinks his wife is having an affair with a priest.

Forever Ambergris (10/2/93) Two war photographers love the same woman

Food For Thought (10/6/93) A mind reader can read is lovely assistant's thoughts.

People Who Live in Brass Hearses (10/13/93) An ice cream vendor has a big surprise for his murderer.

Two For The Show (10/20/93) A man who kills his wife and stuffs her body in a trunk gets an even bigger shock.

House Of Horror (10/27/93) Frat pledges face horror in a haunted house.

Well Cooked Hams (11/3/93) One magician murders another to steal his "Box of Death" trick, but it doesn't end there.

Creep Course 11/10/93) An Egyptology professor's deadly scheme backfires in a most horrifying way.

Came The Dawn (11/17/93) A man picks up a woman stranded on the roadside in the rain. the twists never stop on this road to terror.

Oil's Well That Ends Well (11/24/93) Two flimflammers run an oil scheme to get cash, but they get so much more.

Half Way Horrible (12/1/93) A business executive wants to market a preservative that keeps food from spoiling forever. Maybe it will preserve other things as well. (I was so impressed with this story in the original comics I made this story myself in my film Tales of The Damned).

Till Death Do We Part (12/8/93) A gigolo romancing an older, mob connected woman begins eyeing an attractive waitress.

No fan of the show should miss this season. It is one of the best.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO.....

Tim Curry is 68, Hugh O' Brian is 89, Ox Baker is 80, Rhodes Reason is 84, and if she were still with us Jayne Mansfield would be 81.

Friday, April 18, 2014

TROLL HUNTER 2010 (MAGNET)

One of the best films I have seen in a while.

It took me a while to get a chance to see this film, an what a film it is. After a rash of bear deaths in Norway occurs, a group of three college students decide to investigate. They stumble upon a hunter named Hans, who, at first, tries to get away from them, but then agrees to have them film everything as long as they follow his orders.

The soon discover that Hans is a Troll Hunter who is working for a very secret Government organization, and he is seeking several dangerous trolls who have escaped from their territory and are wondering free. At first the students refuse to believe this until they are confronted by a three headed troll that Hans saves them from.

As the hunt goes on, the students become more and more frightened and interested at the same time. The final troll Hans must battle is over 200 feet tall and it, like all of the other troll are a marvel to behold. They actually look real, that is how good the effects are.

The movie really keeps the viewers attention from start to finish. This is how films should be made. The cold and desolate scenery in and around Norway adds to the eerie atmosphere of the entire film. Made in the "lost/found footage" genre, this is done much better than others such as "Diary Of The Dead" or "Blair Witch Project". I like those films as well, but this is just done so much better.

This is only the second film I have ever seen made in Norway. It's a powerful and brilliant film that has many moments you'll never forget.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO.....

Melissa Joan Hart is 38, Eric Roberts is 56, Barbara Hale is 92, James Drury is 80, Bob Hastings is 89, and Steve Lombardi is 53.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

NIGHT OF THE SKULL 1974 (IMAGE)

Rare Jess Franco horror.

Filmed in 1974 but not released until 1976, this rare Franco film concerns a small group of people in a Louisiana mansion who are gathered there for the reading of a will. They are killed one by one by a mysterious killer who wears a skull mask.

This sounds like a standard potboiler, but it really isn't too bad at all. The killings are sometimes very unique such as a woman tied face up on the beach and who is drowned by the tide. There are other murders too and it's interesting that this was filmed in Span, but is centered in the southern USA.

William Berger and Lina Romay star, and yes, Romay keeps her clothes on in this film which makes it all the more odd for a Franco film. The DVD looks very good and it is in Spanish with English subtitles. This release as all but disappeared into obscurity and that is sad because it is a very well made film for what it is. I saw it on Amazon for well over 100 dollars and I accidentally found mine in a Hastings store for $1.99.

If you can find it, I recommend it.