Showing posts with label monsters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label monsters. Show all posts

Friday, October 19, 2018

Where Wolf? Watch: Wolfen (1981)


Watched:  10/19/2018
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's


Well, I finally managed to watch Wolfen (1981) instead of The Howling.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

PODCAST! SIgnal Watch Halloween Horror Watch: Horror Express and Death Line (both 1972)



Watched:  09/08/2018
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade: 1970's

In the spoooookiest of all Halloween themes - SimonUK and Ryan settle on "Christopher Lee + trains + 1972".  Two wildly different takes on the horror genre from the same year, each with a lot to offer, but offering up chills - one featuring a drunk Donald Pleasance as a policeman, and one Telly Savalas as a vodka-swilling Cossack.  But, honestly, both well worth a viewing this Halloween season.




Music:
Bride of Frankenstein Theme by Franz Waxman
Crazy Train, Ozzy Osbourne
Bound for Hell, Love and Rockets
Swan Lake - Act 2: No. 10 Scene - Tchaikovsky

Playlists:

Featured:  Signal Watch Halloween 2018



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Monday, September 24, 2018

PODCAST! WEREWOLF WATCH! a Signal Wach Halloween! "Late Phases" (2014) and "Dog Soldiers" (2002)


Watched:  08/18/2018
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  First (both)
Decade:  2000's and 2010's

SimonUK and Ryan go to the dogs with two monstrously good films set to make anyone howl.  We talk the werewolf genre and the troubles which ail it, but also what goes right in two movies sure to transform you into the Halloween mood.  It's two modern-era movies doing something a bit different with an age-old idea, and maybe coming out the top of the pack?

And, of course, there's a detour into discussing Sean Connery for absolutely no reason.




Music:
Bride of Frankenstein Theme by Franz Waxman
Hungry Like the Wolf, Duran Duran
Wolves (radio edit), Wu-Tang Clan
Swan Lake - Act 2: No. 10 Scene - Tchaikovsky

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Halloween Watch 2017: The Mummy



I didn't mean to watch all of The Mummy (1932), but as so often happens, I did.

This Universal monster movie was one that, the first time I watched it, I loved the first ten minutes and then felt waning interest in everything but Zita Johann.  But, the past two or three times I've given those first few minutes a shot (because I love the opening), I've really changed my tune.  And, in fact, have to retract initial statements made about dull camera-work in comparison to the grand, gothic guignol of Dracula or the surrealist landscapes of the first three Frankenstein films.

The lighting, sets, and FX employed are far more deft than I'd originally wanted to give credit, and leave you in a murky place where you know Bey is employing mystical shenanigans, but it's hard to put a finger on what and how.  Add in Karloff's performance, as well as that of Johann, and you've got something that's been aped more in vampire movies than anywhere else the past 85 years.

Karloff is actually terrific as Imhotep/ Ardath Bey, and the overall effect of the picture is not so much horrifying as it is eerie and uncanny.  Unraveling the machinations of what he's up to (ripped off for the past thirty or forty years of Dracula movies), and it's good stuff.

Weirdly, TCM rated the movie TV-14, and for the life of me, I have no idea why.  This is one I'd watch with a kid aged 10 or up.  There's no blood, minimal on-screen violence, a lack of nudity or sexual innuendo...  But Mummies are scary, I guess.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Halloween Watch 2017: Theatre of Blood, Altered States, House of Dracula


Well, it's that time of the year, and we're watching movies about monsters and murders and transdimensional-psychotic states brought on by a rich cocktail of hallucinogens.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Basil Gogos Has Merged With The Infinite



If you're a Monster Kid of any stripe, you know the work of Basil Gogos. Whether from his work painting covers of Famous Monsters of Filmland to album covers, Gogos spent the back half of the 20th Century and early 21st Century as king of a niche others are just now entering - illustrative portraiture of cinematic marvels and monsters.

Yesterday I became aware of the news that Basil Gogos has passed beyond this veil of tears.  But of this I am certain - his work is now as much a part of Monster Movie fandom as the films, actors and creators.  His uncanny visuals have been wonderful additions to pop-culture and modern culture itself.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Kaiju Watch: Shin Godzilla (2016)



I had two failed attempts to see Shin Godzilla (2016) when it was released in October 2016 and then had a quick return to the screen around New Years 2017.  The first time something at work came up and I had to cancel.  The second time I went to see the movie with PaulT and Jamie and something was wrong with the film.  It started and a 1K tone was laid over the soundtrack to the movie.  Which was both awful and hilarious.  Anyway, they stopped the movie about three minutes in, we had this weirdly informal conversation with the manager about what we should do, and I got a couple passes to come back, but couldn't attend the next screening as it was my first day back to work after the holiday break.

And the more stuff I saw about the movie, the more goggle-eyed I became.  I really wanted to see this flick.

In case you don't know what Shin Godzilla is, essentially Toho Studios rebooted the Godzilla franchise from square one (it was also marketed in the US as Godzilla: Resurgence).  And if you've never seen Gojira, the 1954 Godzilla that is the Japanese version and lacks Raymond Burr (a) shaaaaaaame on you, and (b) fix that immediately.  It's a terrific film.  And aside from Godzilla 1985, Gojira is one of the only movies that's just about Godzilla (aka: Gojira) attacking Tokyo by himself and for mysterious reasons and is not fighting, say, Anguirus*.  Here, in a re-booted universe that's never heard of Godzilla, our scaly pal returns again for the first time to wreak just horrible, unthinkable havoc upon an unsuspecting Tokyo.

And it is really, really good.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Godzilla Man-In-Suit Actor Haruo Nakajima Has Merged With The Infinite



Harou Nakajima, the original Man-in-Suit, has passed.

Watching Godzilla movies will tell you that our gigantic, atomic-fire-breathing-pal had a definite personality.  And I think you can chalk a good chunk of that up to Mr. Harou Nakajima.

To get a better idea of what I mean, give those first few Godzilla movies a spin and watch as the big fella becomes more himself.  A sort of cranky giant who definitely has opinions.

I recently saw this video interviewing the actor.  It is absolutely inspiring and a testament to a certain mindset we could all stand to try on.








Saturday, April 1, 2017

Ape Watch: King Kong (1976)



With Kong: Skull Island checked off my "must see" list, I noted King Kong starring Jessica Lange was on Amazon Prime.

If ever a movie was a mixed bag, it's the 1976 version of King Kong.  It's a movie only the 1970's could have produced, still in the echoes of the pessimistic Planet of the Apes saga but brimming with the romanticism we'd see in Superman: The Movie and Star Wars.  It features two/ three stars busting out - nobody aware they'd become Hollywood icons - in Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange and Charles Grodin, who would go on to be Charles Grodin (and that is not a complaint).

But it's also a movie with a very good mask/ make-up on a guy in an ape suit, big animatronic hands, arms and legs for Lange to cling to, and a re-writing of the premise as an Energy-Crisis-conscious abandoning of the showbiz angle of the original for something about oil exploration.  And it really whittles down the wonder of Skull Island - dumping the dinosaurs in exchange for more dialog and human moments, severely diminishing the idea that this is an adventure film.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Artist Bernie Wrightson Has Merged With The Infinite



Artist Bernie Wrightson of Swamp Thing, Frankenstein and Cycle of the Werewolf fame, has passed.  He had been fighting cancer for some time.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ape Watch: Kong - Skull Island (2017)




Box office numbers will give me the answer to the question "was anyone really wanting a new King Kong movie, let alone a re-imagined one?"  Because I really don't know.  Our theater was near sold out, but I had the distinct impression it was full of the kinds of movie goers who think picking what movie they'll see ahead of time is a waste of time - you just buy tickets for whatever is starting next.

King Kong, like Frankenstein, is one of those movie concepts that bled out into the pop culture to such a degree - it's just part of the cultural lexicon.  This in spite of the fact very few folks you talk to have actually sat through the original films.  But the imagery of both has become so iconic, the concepts both bizarre and yet easy to grasp and the metaphor so accessible... we all get it.  Giant apes and flesh golems tend to stick in the mind.

Weirdly, Kong: Skull Island (2017) arguably throws away all of that metaphor, telling a different story.  No more Ann Darrow, no John Driscoll, no showboating Carl Denham.  No more "'twas Beauty who killed The Beast."  This is a 1970's-era landing on Skull Island by a mix of government scientists and soon-to-be-done Army soldiers, rotating out of Vietnam and a whole lotta explosions.

The end result is also something altogether different, and that alone can take some getting used to.  You're in for two hours of fast-moving excitement, a razor thin script, name actors without much to do, and a Vietnam known only via high-profile filmic depictions.  All in all, Kong: Skull Island (2017) is maybe not what I was expecting, but it is visually stunning, entertaining, contains some pretty amazing FX and action sequences, and if you don't have a bunch of people talking behind you, is going to keep you glued to the screen for the run-time of the movie.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Godzilla Watch: Tokyo SOS


It's not often I watch a whole Godzilla movie.  I probably watched 3/4ths of about 3 or 4 of them last year, but they never showed up on my movie-list as I don't watch them from beginning to end.  Usually I stumble in 1/4 of the way in, have no idea what's happening, and just keep on watching.

And that's kinda too bad.

I never quite recovered from missing Shin Godzilla in the theater this year (twice I had tickets!  TWICE!), but over Christmas, the El Rey network celebrated the holiday with "Kaiju Christmas", which was something like 36 hours of Godzilla movies.  In fact, I wrapped up Christmas Day night watching the second half of Godzilla vs. Destroyah.

I'd never seen Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003), but heard it was a fun one, and, indeed it was.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Lust for a Vampire (1971)



Editor's Note (12/5/2016):  Sometimes we sort of half-watch a movie while we're on our computer, and sometimes we aren't paying correct attention.  This has, from time to time, meant that we've totally misunderstood plot-points, found movies unengaging, etc...  

I was a bit embarrassed to learn from someone via twitter that, despite the fact I thought Christopher Lee was in this movie, he is not.  Which is weird.  I like Christopher Lee.  I know who he is.  And I thought it extremely odd he was so lightly used in this film (see below).  Which puts me in a bit of a position.  What did I watch?  

The actor in question is Mike Raven, who bears a passing resemblance to Mr. Lee, especially in facial hair.  I'm now genuinely feeling like I did not give the movie a fair chance and may need to give it a whirl again to reconsider.  When I am wrong, I am wrong, and I try to be open to that idea, especially when I'm so rudely dismissive to a film, book, what-have-you.


Thanks to Judy Jarvis for the correction.



So, I hated this movie.

I was grabbing a few movies at Vulcan and was looking for Vampire Circus (which they literally only had on VHS, so...) or another Ingrid Pitt movie in their Hammer section and saw they had this sequel, and figured "ah, what the hell.  Why not?"  And, why not?, indeed.

I'd argue Lust for a Vampire (1971) is boring, overly long, devoid of even psychological drama, has dull leads, and is a poor successor to it's predecessor, The Vampire Lovers.   That movie was based on a novel with a few centuries under its belt, and, yeah, this was a fresh story about the same vampire coming back to life and being put in a girls' school.  But they replaced Ingrid Pitt as the lead character, which I was willing to accept, and forgot to not just write scene after boring scene where nothing happens.

So, Lust for a Vampire (1971), has some goofy love story where an author falls for Carmilla and so maneuvers his way into teaching at her girls' school where... I dunno.  It doesn't matter.  Even the sex scenes are awkward and boring, and the vampire scenes don't really exist.  Just turning over bodies to see puncture wounds.  AND, unbelievably, it features Christopher Lee and he's basically in a supporting role anyone could have filled in.  Maybe he was just hanging around?


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Halloween Watch: The Wolf Man (1941)


TCM was on a Universal Monsters sprint last night, and after the frighteningly monstrous loss by the Cubs in Game 3 of the World Series, I needed to chillax for a bit with some creepy mayhem.  I watched the last twenty minutes of The Invisible Man (a movie I always give short shrift.  It's really good.), and then moved into The Wolf Man (1941).

The Wolf Man is a movie of highs and lows.  It sets up a great mythology from whole cloth and the modern-age denial of werewolfism as the result of some psychic shock suffered by our tortured protagonist.  Of course all of these things are beats every werewolf movie since has imitated.  It contains Claude Rains and Bela Lugosi - even a young Ralph Bellamy.  I'm in the camp that likes the monster make-up, but the Wolf Man scenes are better in concept than execution, never really feeling like much more than a large guy manhandling people instead of a monster rending them apart.

It's kind of strange that Universal's 2010 go at rebooting this franchise was such a mess, because - this is a very simple movie.  Seems like it should have gone better than it did (I only really liked the bits in the medical college and then in the streets of London - and that felt more like a Landis-homage than anything to do with this movie).

It's certainly a crucial movie for getting monster movie history, and I still think it's very well realized.
But there's an elephant in the room by name of Lon Chaney Jr.  And that elephant isn't much of an actor.  I really want to like Chaney Jr., but he's playing on the same screen as Claude Rains.  There's just no comparison here, and his character spends most of the movie hitting on an engaged woman (I think I found your real wolf here).  I wish the scenes with the Wolf Man felt more full of menace, but no matter how well shot and well-lit those scenes are... man.  It looks like a hirsute lumberjack on a bender.