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Saturday, May 27, 2017

REMEMBERING CHRISTOPHER LEE

Christopher Lee was born on May 27th 1927 in London.

Lee has a career spanning almost 70 years and that is an incredible run.

I was first introduced to Lee in "Horror Of Dracula" and then countless other Hammer horror films throughout my childhood. As with Peter Cushing, a good friend whom he was teamed in many films, I discovered Lee's pre-Hammer works after VHS became so popular.

His deep voice and 6' 5" frame made his a perfect movie villain, and he essayed the role of Count Dracula 7 times. Lee's career in cinema is unmatched by anyone.

Some of my favorite films he appeared in include "Horror Of Dracula", "The Devil Rides Out", "Dr. Terror's House Of Horrors", "Curse Of Frankenstein", "Man Who Could Cheat Death", "Man With The Golden Gun", "Hannie Caulder" and "Dracula A.D. 1972".

Lee died at the age of 93 on June 7th, 2015, just 10 days after his 93rd birthday. He left us with a very rich legacy of films that will be enjoyed for generations to come.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Lee Meriwether is 82, Linnea Quigley is 59, and Natalie Neidhart is 35.

Friday, May 26, 2017

REMEMBERING PETER CUSHING...

Peter Cushing was born on May 26th, 1913 and became one of the worlds most popular actors.

I grew up watching Cushing in many Hammer Horror films which were a HUGE influence on me as a child. As a matter of fact Cushing was the first "Baron Frankenstein" I had ever seen in film.

His heroic Van Helsing in "Horror Of Dracula" was also a first for me. Only after these films did I get to see the original "Frankenstein" and "Dracula", but the character Cushing created has stuck with me all my life.

In later years as VHS became the new home entertainment boom, I discovered Cushing in many, many different roles and I have never seen one I didn't enjoy.

Cushing was also a rare actor in that he was a faithful family man who loved his wife and when she passed away he changed a bit as a big part of his life was gone. That is rare, especially among the "actors" today whom mostly sleep around.

People who read this blog will know Cushing's resume as far as films go and everyone has their favorites. My favorites of his long a distinguished career include "Horror Of Dracula", "Island Of Terror", "Asylum", "The Mummy", and "Dr. Terror's House Of Horrors".

Sadly Cushing passed away on Aug. 11th, 1994 at the age of 81 from prostate cancer. On that day the world lost a true acting legend and a damn nice guy to boot. However, his lasting film legacy just proves that Peter Cushing was simply one of the greatest performers in the world.

WAR OF THE ROBOTS 1978 (MILL CREEK)

Director Al Bradley strikes again.

Meliaas Longo, Yanti Somer and Giacomo Rossi Stuart headline the cast in this bizarre tale about alien invaders.

An alien race that is facing extinction kidnaps two Earth scientists to help the race develop genetically. Earth is forced to take action against the humanoid robots.

This film has the same cast as "Star Odyssey" as well as the same costumes and some of the same effects shots. If you watch the two films together it's hard to tell them apart.

Director Al Bradley is also known as Alfonso Brescia and his final film in this trilogy is "Cosmos: War Of The Planet" which again looks exactly like this film.

The Italians really tried to rip off Star Wars, but the budgets on these films are so pathetic that they don't even come close. What does happen though is a very bizarre drug induced trip into space with colorful costumes, laser light shows and sometime stilted dubbed dialogue.

If you like this kind of thing then I can recommend this no problem.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO.....

Pam Grier is 68, Stevie Nicks is 69, Ashley Massaro is 38, and Ingrid Goude is 80.

RIP JARED MARTIN 1941-2017

The actor most remembered as Dusty Farlow on Dallas has passed away.

Martin was also in The War Of The Worlds mini series as well as Silk Stalkings and appearances on shows such as The New Mike Hammer and many more.

His movie roles included Aenigma, The Sea Serpent and Mississippi Summer. I am sure genre fans will remember him from roles in such show as Night Gallery and is starring role in the 1970's TV series Fantastic Journey.

He was 75.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

PLANET OUTLAWS 1953 (MILL CREEK)

This is the 1939 serial Buck Rogers edited into feature form for a release in the early 50's.

Buster Crabbe stars as Rogers who is an American soldier who crashes his ship and wakes up from suspended animation in the year 2500.

Here he finds an incredible world, but one still besieged by trouble. Rogers and his co-pilot Buddy who also was in suspended animation find themselves fighting an evil ruler named Killer Kane (Anthony Warde) who wants to rule the universe.

To edit a serial into a feature requires a lot of footage lost and what we have here is almost non-stop action and very little explanation. Perhaps that is a good thing. For being re-released in 1953 I do have to admit that even by 1953 this serial was dated and looks rather out of place.

Don't misunderstand, I love the 30's serials as they have a charm all their own, but I guess I don't understand the reasoning behind this re-release. It's fun to watch, and Buck Rogers is a favorite of mine, but I think I would prefer the entire chapter play as opposed to the re-edit feature.

The rest of the cast includes Constance Moore as Wilma Deering, Jackie Moran as Buddy, Philson Ahn, Kenne Duncan, and Reed Howes. I can recommend this is you're a serial fan. I know I am.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO....

Leslie Uggams is 74, Ann Robinson is 88, and Reiko Ike is 64.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

RIP DINA MERRILL 1923-2017

A very talented actress has passed away.

Merrill is best remembered by genre fans for her performance in "Batman" as Calamity Jane in 1968 in three episodes.

She appeared in hundreds of TV shows over her long career and some of those shows included "Ellery Queen", "Batman", "Mission Impossible", "Night Gallery" and many more.

She passed away at the age of 93 on May 22nd.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Sybil Danning is 65.

RIP ROGER MOORE 1927-2017

My favorite James Bond actor is dead.

Roger Moore was James Bond to me and much better than anyone who ever played the character.

I was first introduced to Roger Moore thru his television series "The Saint" on TV back in the mid 70's and I liked his suave and sophisticated approach to the material and the title character.

Later I saw him in "The Spy Who Loved Me" which turned into my favorite James Bond film. All of the other Bond films he did were great in my opinion, but that one took the cake.

He made many TV appearances and everyone he did with class and style. He was born in Stockwell, England in 1927. He died in Switzerland on May 23, 2017.

RIP 007.

Monday, May 22, 2017

WARRIORS OF THE WASTELAND 1983 (MILL CREEK)

Strange but interesting Italian Road Warrior ripoff.

Giancarlo Prete is Scorpion, a loner who comes upon a woman being chased by a group of crazies known as The Templars. He rescues her and soon teams up with another loner named Nadir.

Both men find themselves defending a small colony of people from the Templars. It seems the Templar leader wants to wipe out all that is left of the human race. George Eastman handles this role excellently.

In case you haven't guessed this movie takes place in the future, in the year 2019 and if this is what we have to look forward to in a couple of years we are in trouble.

Fred Williamson turns in a good performance as Nadir the man who fights with Scorpion and very often has to rescue him for bad situations. The dubbing is awful, as is usually the case. There is plenty of action for fans of this genre.

Anna Kanakis as Alma is a standout and she will catch your eyes every time she appears on the screen. All in all not too bad of an action film. It could have been so much more, but then again, would we really want ti to be "much more"?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO.....

Barbara Parkins is 75, Richard Benjamin is 79, Marilyn Joi is 72, and Ashley Renee is 53.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

STAR ODYSSEY 1979 (MILL CREEK)

One of many Italian "Star Wars" ripoffs.

The plot is pretty simple. Earth is attacked by an intergalactic madman and his robot army.

The robots wear silver uniforms and have the same bad blonde wigs on. The alien is on a quest to gather up slave stock for his planet.

One scene shows the aliens getting their slaves from Africa and i know this makes people a little bit nervous. But later it is said that people from other countries are being grabbed for slaves as well, so I guess that makes it better.

One thing I noticed is that in the opening credits the cast is presented in alphabetical order, which isn't true, but hey, I'm nitpicking.

the movie is full of bizarre costumes and gorgeous babes, so what more could you ask for? The print from Mill Creek is ok, but I do wish it was wide screen.

Director Alfonso Brescia, known as Al Bradley here in the states made three films which use the same costumes, effects and cast. Turn off your brain and enjoy this Italian trash.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

ALIEN SPECIES 1996 (MILL CREEK)

Low budget, but entertaining B movie.

Charles Napier stars as Sheriff Nate Culver in this off the wall film about an alien invasion.

Two sheriff deputies are transporting two prisoners to another jail when they happen upon three people stranded on the road side. The three are Prof. Chambers (Hoke Howell), his granddaughter and another young woman.

At the same time aliens have begun an invasion of Earth and while they are destroying everything in sight and taking human and animal specimens aboard their ships the seven people in the police van have an accident and must find shelter in a rain storm.

Unknown to them, the cave they find is being used by the aliens as a headquarters. The monster costumes are very good and the alien spaceships are done strictly by computer and therefore lack a lot, but what can you do with a super low budget?

Napier and Howell turn in the best performances, of course as both are vets at this kind of stuff.

The people vs. monsters in a cave scenes are well done and it appears that is where most of the money went. This is included on many 50 pack movie collections from Mill Creek, and if you get a chance, check it out. It's really no better or worse than anything else turned out in this time period.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO....

Joan Staley is 77.

Friday, May 19, 2017

COUNTERBLAST 1948 (MILL CREEK)

Pretty interesting film with tinges of sci-fi elements.

Mervyn Johns stars as an escaped Nazi doctor who kills a British doctor and impersonates him.

The reason he has done this is to work on an antidote for a deadly bacteria that the Germans want to try and use during the next war.

His plans work flawlessly until he falls for the young woman working as his assistant. He cannot have her, of course, and this causes him to lose sight of his actual project.

Johns carries the character perfectly and meets a demise worthy of the best film noir. The plot is very good and so is the acting as it depicts a world where a terrible war has just ended and it trying to put itself back together again.

The print from Mill Creek is awful, but watchable. I do wish the film looked a bit better and Mill Creek should get a better print. However, it really didn't detract once you get into the film.

This is an oddity I had never heard of and I did enjoy it.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO....

Nancy Kwan is 78.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

WILLARD 1971 (SHOUT FACTORY) BLU-RAY

FINALLY the 70's horror classic is made available!

I can't see it possible that anyone reading this blog and it my age didn't see this in theaters when first released in 1971.

Bruce Davison stars as Willard Stiles, a rather spineless young man whose boss humiliates him at work, stole the business from Willard's father and Willard never speaks up or stands up for himself.

He lives at home with his bizarre mother (Elsa Lanchester) in a broken, decaying mansion. One day he befriends a rat family and begins to take care and raise them.

His two favorite rats are a white one named Socrates and a brown one named Ben. Before too long Willard has thousands of rat friends and he trains them to do his bidding. After his mother dies he begins having a relationship with a beautiful temporary office worker named Joan (Sondra Locke).

Willard uses his rats to help him steal money from a wealthy man, ruin his bosses (Ernest Borgnine) party raise general havoc. Ben and Willard constantly go against each other, and it appears that Ben has more of a mind of his own.

A Willard's life spirals down deeper he uses his rats to attack and kill his boss in a scene that is never forgotten when once seen. It still gives me the creeps even to this day.

Director Daniel Mann brings out the very, very best in a top notch cast which also includes Michael Dante, Jody Gilbert, J. Pat O' Malley, Joan Shawlee and Sherry Presnell.

The Blu-ray presentation from Shout is absolutely beautiful and it makes the film look like it was shot last week. I hadn't seen this film in 46 years, but as I watched it it all came flooding back. You know a movie is good if it sticks with you that long, and this is a damn good movie.

The film was thought lost for many years due to legal problems associated with Bing Crosby Productions and the fact that the original distributor, Cinerama Releasing went out of business.

Shout has to be commended for getting this film out once again and in a beautiful package. Extras include commentary from Bruce Davison, trailers, radio spots, stills and an interview with Davison as well.

Highly recommend film that is surely one of the top releases of 2017 and a very fitting film for my 6000th post!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO....

Dwayne Hickman is 83.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

THIS BLOG IS NOW 7 YEARS OLD....

It was on this day in 2010 that I first started and I cannot believe I am still doing it.

Back when I started this I had only one follower and not a lot of readers. I have increased both, especially the amount of people who access this blog and read it.

7 years later and 5998 posts and still going strong. I want to thank everyone who reads this, follows it and comments on it.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO....

Dawn Dunlap is 54.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

BLACK SHAMPOO 1976 (VCI)

One of the oddest films I have ever seen.

A black hairdresser name Mr. Jonathan is very popular with the ladies and he has sex with as many of his clients as time will allow.

Suddenly he finds a mob boss is after the pretty young secretary he has working for him. Her name is Brenda (Tanya Boyd) and she is in love with Jonathan.

Thugs break into the business and wreck it as well as abuse some of the help. This sets off a chain of events in which Jonathan loses Brenda to the mob boss, but that doesn't last long as all is made clear a little while later.

The ending involving a small chainsaw and pool cues with have you, if you're like me, with you jaw hitting the floor. It's one of the wildest ending to a film I have seen in quite a while.

Greydon Clark directed this little "blaxploitation" gem and it has all of the usual Clark touches including some bizarre characters as usual.

Tanya Boyd steals the show. The woman is simply beautiful. The scene where she and Jonathan are running thru the woods to get away from the gangsters while wearing only a large blue shirt is priceless.

The rest of the cast includes Joseph Carlo, Skip E. Lowe and William Bonner. Recommended for fans of the genre.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO....

Megan Fox is 31 and Pierce Brosnan is 64.

Monday, May 15, 2017

RIP POWERS BOOTHE 1948-2017

Another character actor has passed away.

I was first introduced to Boothe in The Guyana Tragedy back in 1980, and his performance as Jim Jones blew me away.

Boothe appeared in many, many TV show including Philip Marlowe Private Eye, 24 and his last one, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Hia many movie roles included a vast array of different types of films.

The movies included Sin City, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, Mutant Species, Red Dawn and Southern Comfort. He died in sleep from natural causes at the age of 68.

CLEOPATRA JONES AND THE CASINO OF GOLD 1973 (WARNER ARCHIVE)

The terrific follow up to the original Cleopatra Jones.

Once again gorgeous Tamara Dobson is Cleopatra Jones, and this time she is kicking ass in Hong Kong.

Cleo is trying to find the head of a very large heroine ring run by a mysterious and very cruel woman known as The Dragon Lady (Stella Stevens). This Lady is also holding two of Cleo's childhood friends captive after they have been caught during a drug turf takeover.

Jones is helped in Hong Kong by a lovely young female agent named Mi Ling played by Ni Tien. There is a ton of action in this film, and it's colorful settings are a treat for the eye.

Dobson is simply stunning in her exotic and beautiful wardrobe. In her climactic battle with Stevens she really shows what she has got.

Sir Run Run Shaw produced this film and it has all the earmarks of a great chop socky flick. Fists and feet fly fast and furious and the spectacular destruction of the Dragon Lady's casino is a true work of film art.

I highly recommend this little gem of the blaxploitation field.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

REMEMBERING TAMARA DOBSON 1947-2006

Tamara was taken much too early at the age of 59.

One of my favorite actresses of all time, she was tall at 6'2", black and beautiful and most of all a VERY talented lady.

Dobson appeared in a few films in her brief career, most notably "Cleopatra Jones" and Cleopatra Jones And The Casino Of Gold".

In both of these films Dobson ruled the screen with her persona, height and fantastic good looks. I have never seen her in anything I didn't enjoy and it was a shame when she passed away from pneumonia and multiple sclerosis at a young age.

She was born in Baltimore on May 14th, 1947 and died there on Oct. 2nd, 2006. To me she was always one of the best and I think she has been severely underrated by most film fans and critics.

Thanks Tamara for the wonderful memories you have left this movie lover over the years.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO....

Yutte Stensgaard is 71.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

THE DISMEMBERED 1962 (GARAGEHOUSE) BLU-RAY

This film was made back in 1962 and never got a release until now.

Not too bad mixture of crime, horror and comedy in this ultra rare black and white indie shot in Philadelphia.

Three men rob a mansion of jewels and escape in an ambulance. They make their way to an old abandoned house which just so happens to be where 5 ghosts live.

The ghosts decide to kill the men in "the most horrible way imaginable". One by one they meet their fate, and the head gangster also happens to keep seeing a mysterious young woman who vanishes when she wants.

The first man is tied up and drowned, the second is killed by a crawling hand, and the third...well his fate is pretty cool, and I'll let you see the film to discover what it is.

Directed by Ralph Hirshorn and left unseen for 54 years, this little film finally gets to the light of day on a beautiful Blu-ray transfer from the directors 16mm print. The title on the film is "Oswald, You Botched It Again".

I enjoyed this 64 minute film and while it may not be for everyone, it is nice to see something so rare get a chance to finally be seen. The disc also includes a bizarre short from the same director entitled The End Of Summer (1959). That is one bizarre 11 minutes.

All in all this is another essential if you are into obscure horror films and regional ones. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO....

Senta Berger is 76, and Zohra Lampert is 80.

Friday, May 12, 2017

RIP GEOFFREY BALEDON 1924-2017

A top notch British character actor.

Most people probably are not familiar with his entire acting career, but horror fans knew Baledon very, very well.

He acted in hundreds of films but his most memorable, at least in my opinion was in the 1972 shocker "Asylum" where he portrayed Max the orderly in an insane asylum. His laugh still echoes with me to this day as he strangles and kills a visiting doctor.

Other genre films Baledon acted in where "Horror Of Dracula", "Tales From The Crypt", and "House That Dripped Blood".

In any film he was in, you never forgot the character he played. He died in England at the age of 93.

T MEN 1947 (CLASSIC MEDIA)

Hard hitting Anthony Mann film noir.

Dennis O' Keefe and Alfred Ryder star as two Treasury agents who go undercover to stop a counterfeit money ring.

O' Keefe is Dennis O' Brien and Ryder is Tony Genaro. Both men use phony names to infiltrate the criminal empire, and they find both their lives in danger every step of the way.

Genaro is seen by his wife and she accidentally blows his cover, and, of course, he pays for it with his life. This scene is played out in one of the most intense ways I have ever seen in a film noir, and once seen you never forget it.

O' Brien is left alone to stop the crime ring and he is almost caught on several occasions. The action is hot and heavy until the final stunning conclusion.

Wallace Ford also stars as a character called The Schemer and it is his sleazy presence that almost gets O' Brien killed.

Film noir doesn't get any better than this and I cannot recommend this enough. The supporting cast also includes many familiar faces in these kinds of films including Charles McGraw, Mary Meade, Jane Randolph, John Wengraf and June Lockhart.

If you like this kind of movie, I suggest you add it to your collection. It's essential viewing.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

RIP MICHAEL PARKS 1940-2017

A great character actor has passed away.

Parks acted in a lot of movies I enjoyed including "Kill Bill", "Grindhouse" and the first movie I ever saw him in "Distant Early Warning" on ABC.

His career started in 1960 and lasted 57 years. He is most remembered for his later work with Quintin Tarantino which introduced him to a younger audience.

He appeared in TV shows such as "Walker, Texas Ranger", "Hart To Hart" and "Twin Peaks". He was 77.

RIP KEN MILLER 1931-2017

Actor remembered by 50's monster fans has passed away.

Ken Miller may not be a familiar name to some, but anyone who has watched "I Was A Teenage Werewolf" or "Attack Of The Puppet People" knows Miller.

Over his long career he appeared in other films such as "Touch Of Evil", "This Rebel Breed" and TV shows such as "Official Detective" and "B.L. Stryker".

His role in Teenage Werewolf will always be remembered by monster fans from the 50's. His character of Vic sings a song and then is beaten up by Michael Landon's character of Tony. Good stuff.

Ken passed away from pneumonia on May 9th at the age of 85.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Darren Matthews is 49.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

HOUSE ON SKULL MOUNTAIN 1974 (MGM)

Interesting and different voodoo thriller.

This is a pretty cool "blaxploitation" film about a voodoo priestess who dies and the four people who are called to her house for the reading of her will.

The four have never met before and soon all of them are at the mansion. Beautiful Janee Michelle stars as Lorena Christophe, one of the people who have gathered at the house.

Soon they begin to die one by one from mysterious circumstances with a voodoo symbol next to their bodies. Victor French is Dr. Andrew Cunningham, a man who has studied voodoo and he tries to save the others, but all are killed and Lorena is picked as a sacrifice of the voodoo cult that is behind the killings.

This is not as famous of a black horror film as others i.e. Blacula, but it is fun and does have a rather bizarre and very interesting climax.

The rest of the cast includes Jean Durand, Mike Evans, Lloyd Nelson and Xernona Clayton. If you like "blaxploitation" horror films I could easily recommend this. I enjoyed it a lot.

Monday, May 8, 2017

THE MEPHISTO WALTZ 1971 (MGM)

I had never seen this film before and when the DVD came in I was pleased to have the chance.

The title is taken from a musical piece of the same name by Franz Liszt and is very fitting. Alan Alda plays a somewhat successful writer who is sent to interview the worlds greatest piano player, Duncan Ely (Curt Jergens). Alda's character of Myles Clarkson also plays the piano a bit and Ely encourages him to play more.

Gorgeous Jacqueline Bisset is the wife of Myles and soon she is swept into a web of very bizarre terror. It seems Ely is a Satanist who is dying and he wants to exchange souls with Myles so he can continue to play the piano and be young again.

This is accomplished and Myles goes on to great fame, but his wife notices a lot of differences in him, and soon people start dying including their young daughter Abby (Pamelyn Ferdin). Myles and his new lover Roxanne Delancey, who was also Ely's lover plot to have Myles' wife killed, but it doesn't work.

After a lot of investigation Bisset's character of Paula discovers what is actually happening and decides to try and stop it, but she fails, so she does the next best thing....and that is the very cool twist ending to this early 70's horror gem that was lost in the shuffle after Rosemary's baby was released around the same time.

I will not reveal anymore in case you haven't seen it, but I can recommend this to horror fans. The excellent cast in this Quinn Martin production directed by Paul Wendkos includes Barbara Parkins, Bradford Dillman, William Windom, Khigh Dheigh and Berry Kroeger.

This has also just been released on Blu-ray from Criterion. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!