Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Scenes from the Morgue :: The Teen Scene You've Never Seen!

(June, 1966)

Other Points of Interest:

Full film review of Village of the Giants at 3B Theater.

Poster campaign for Village of the Giants at The Archive.

Village of the Giants (1965) Berkeley Productions :: Joseph E. Levine Productions :: Embassy Pictures / EP: Joseph E. Levine / P: Bert I. Gordon / D: Bert I. Gordon / W: Bert I. Gordon, Alan Caillou / C: Paul Vogel E: John Bushelman / M: Jack Nitzsche / S: Tommy Kirk, Ron Howard, Beau Bridges, Tisha Sterling, Joy Harmon

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Vintage Tuneage :: The Yin and Yang of Jack Nitzche.

Consider this a companion piece to my earlier post on Vanishing Point. Here, Quentin Tarantino stole the Yin of The Last Race for Deathproof. Today, with the help of stuntmanaustin, I'm stealing it back for Bert I. Gordon and Village of the Giants:

And now, the Yang, with the much more mellow The Lonely Surfer.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Putting the CREEP! in The Creeping Terror!

When I try to explain to folks my unwavering fondness for thee gloriously hare-brained sci-fi and horror epics of the 1950's and early '60s, being a nuts and bolts kinda film buff, I never fail to mention my fascination for all those people who seemingly crawled out of the woodwork and slapped together a film with spit, bailing wire and no delusions (-- or any apparent aptitude in a lot of cases) as to what they were making and the real reason for making it in the first place: $$$. And, with hard work, dumb luck, or chicanery of the most dubious order, not only did they get these demented films made, through more hard work, dumber luck, or chicanery of an even more dubious order, they managed to find a distributor to unleash them on the viewing public. Which is why, more often than not, the story of the making of these cinematically-challenged films is usually a lot more entertaining than the finished product.

Art Nelson's The Creeping Terror (1964) is probably an apex example of what I'm talking about. Nelson also took the lead, under one of his many nom de plumes, Vic Savage, and edited this fractured flick together. And though scripted by Allan Silliphant (-- brother of fellow screenwriter, Stirling Silliphant ... and a check of credits reveals who landed in the shallow end of the gene pool), who penned Ray Dennis Steckler's marquee-busting monster musical, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies, and with Jon Lackey being credited with constructing a monster, whose shambling, shag-rug texture cannot hide its bizarre sexual organ-connotations, that took a long walk off a short credulity pier before it even creeped its first creep, this film would not have happened without Nelson's misguiding hand. And now, this felon, grifter and certifiable sociopath's story can be told. But not by me...

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

"CREEP! chronicles the outlandish story of director Art Nelson in his audacious effort to produce a monster movie in 1964. The result was the obscure yet cultish film, The Creeping Terror. Considered to be the worst movie ever made, it also became one of the most mind-boggling scams in the history of celluloid."
-- the company line
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

Producer Nancy Theken and director Pete Schuermann and their Slithering Carpet Films are in the first stage of a three stage process to bring this docu-drama on Nelson and the making of his magdumb opus, with interviews with bad film buffs and key members of the cast and production crew from The Creeping Terror. And along with these clips and interviews, Scheurmann intends to film a bio-flick on Nelson with many highlights -- eh, make that lowlights of his seedy film career and even seedier personal life, topped off with some hilarious re-enactments during the making of what many call the worst film ever made -- some of which can be seen in the extended trailer for CREEP!.

For the record, I don't find The Creeping Terror to be all that bad. Ineptly endearing and monumentally stoopid, sure, But worst movie ever? Nah. Not even close. Still, Theken, Scheurmanm and Co. promise to win that particular argument, augmented by a mind-boggling making-of tale that includes "sex, drugs, rape, money scams, high comedy, pedophilia, heartbreak, bank robberies, Nazism, missing persons, suicide, false identities and a tie-in to the Manson murders" means I for one cannot wait to see the finished film.

Right now, however, CREEP! is kind of on hiatus, and, in true, independent B-Movie fashion, they're efforting to raise completion funds. And if you'd like to help out, the filmmakers have started a Kickstarter campaign to get CREEP! creeping again. Until then, feel free to check out the website for more details.

Pertinent Links for CREEP!:

Website :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Kickstarter

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Vintage Review Sportlight :: Del Tenney's The Horror of Party Beach (1964)

For the longest time, The Horror of Party Beach was only available in a severely truncated version; a version where almost eight minutes of footage was removed to make it more Standards & Practices friendly when it was packaged and sold off to TV after its theatrical run played out. Now, even without those missing scenes, the film earned itself a strong cult-following over the years for its bizarre monster and rockin' tunes, but when you put those eight minutes back in, you take a highly entertaining piece of schlock and turn it into one of the greatest gonzoidal movie classics of all time!

You see, after a solid career as a New York based stage actor and theatrical roustabout, Del Tenney got married, to fellow actress Margot Hartman, had a couple of kids, and decided to switch professions to something a little less time-consuming that didn't call for all-night rehearsals and extended road tours. Wanting to stay in the arts, and with a desire to leave a more permanent legacy for his career in the same, he ingratiated himself into New York's seedier film scene, and, using his theater connections, landed a few bit parts in some early burlesque films, where he was soon drawn behind the camera, which garnered him a few assistant-director credits for the likes of Satan in High Heels and Orgy at Lil's Place. While learning the trade with these sleaze-noirs, Tenney crossed paths with Richard Hilliard, another fledgling writer/director, who had churned out his own little opus to sexual-dysfunction gone homicidal with The Lonely Sex. Together, these two would collaborate on a similar project, Violent Midnight.

Taking a cue from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, [producer] Tenney and [director] Hilliard's stark and grisly whodunit may appear to be a cheap-jack exploitation piece on the surface, but the devil, as they say, is in the details; and when you start peeling back the layers you'll find a movie with some interesting ideas, a steady and stylish eye behind the camera, and a fearless attitude as it aggressively pushed well beyond what mainstream Hollywood would/could allow at the time. But the true secret of the film's success both artistically and economically, in all of Tenney's films, actually, is that Tenney and his crew took the time and effort to make their $40000 budget seem like $45000. Now, that may not seem like much, but if you took a straw poll of equally budgeted genre films, and do a little contemporary compare and contrast, I think you'll see what I'm getting at. Just because its cheap doesn't mean it can't be made better with a little focus, ingenuity, and effort -- a "keep it simple, stupid" attitude whose main goal was to give the viewer what they paid to see without the usual bait and switch. Audiences seemed to appreciate the effort, and after a name change to Psycho-mania, Violent Midnight went on to earn Tenney Productions a tidy profit.

Alan V. Iselin, meanwhile, was a regional entrepreneur who ran a string of theaters out of Albany, New York. Seeing the business the locally produced Violent Midnight was pulling in, Iselin, wanting to expand his empire into film production, like a lot of other chain-owners looking for a bigger piece of the box-office pie, sent out feelers to Tenney through a mutual acquaintance about the possibility of making another film for him. Tenney agreed, and this time taking their cue from American International, who were raking it in with their Beach Party and Poe franchises, the duo settled on co-financing a double-bill in the same vein.

And also like AIP, the films began with a just couple of titillating titles Iselin cooked up, The Curse of the Living Corpse and The Horror of Party Beach, in which a script was then concocted to fit. Originally, Curse of the Living Corpse was to be the top bill, was shot first, and shows more polish with its gothic setting and cast culled from Tenney's theater buddies. And it's a pretty good film, too, much better than being just Roy Scheider's anomalous film debut, but it was destined to become a second banana to the second feature that was still being scripted by Hilliard while Living Corpse was shot ... And for the rest of the story click here.

Other Points of Interest for The Horror of Party Beach:

Full film review at 3B Theater.

Newspaper ads at the Morgue.

Poster campaign at the Archive.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

In Memoriam :: Losing a Legend :: John Severin R.I.P.

As a comic book fan, a humor magazine aficionado, and an obsessive doodler, no matter what era we're talking about, John Severin has always been a favorite. And, yes, I will still use that tense until the day I kick off. In fact, as I grew up with my nose firmly planted in these funny books, Severin was one of the first artists I recognized by style alone, a style I usually tried and failed to mimic or emulate whenever I put pencil to paper. At caricature, he had few equals. Photo-realistic but slightly exaggerated. Amazing. And he really knew his way around an action sequence, too. And whether drawing or inking, he added a lot of weight.

It didn't matter if it was inking Dick Ayres or Herb Trimpe, Severin's contribution to both is why this era is my favorite rendition of old Jade Jaws ever committed in four-colors.

He made the jump from EC, mostly Two-Fisted Tales, to MAD Magazine after Dr. Wertham and the No Fun Brigade ushered in the Comics Code era. Later, his work for Cracked, especially his Monster Issues, was the main reason I always preferred it over MAD.

And so, obviously, I was majorly bummed when the news broke a few days ago that Severin had passed away at the age of 90, leaving behind an exhaustive and often hilarious body of work that will truly speak for itself for generations of fans to come.

John Severin
(1921 – 2012)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Scenes from the Morgue :: Godzilla vs. Hercules (February, 1965)

(February, 1965)

Yes, sadly, in an effort to shore things up I've made the decision to archive Scenes from the Morgue and post all further pulp film ads here. This wasn't an easy decision by any means, but, I came to the conclusion it would be better, for my sanity if nothing else, to concentrate on just one blog instead of four or five and felt it would be easiest to make the ads a regular feature here. Fear not, the old Morgue will not be purged and will be left up for your viewing and re-viewing pleasure. In fact, now that I've finally figured out how to post the images properly, meaning at a size you can actually appreciate, a lot of those old ads will probably be re-posted here at some future date. Meantime, enjoy this new feature at Micro-Brewed Reviews, and raise a glass to the old Morgue one last time.

-- The Management.xxxx

Saturday, February 11, 2012

YouTube Finds :: Taking it Back.

This movie ... Quentin Tarantino kinda missed the point when he stole this movie and co-opted it for his teeth-grinding, MAXIM-ized piece of stoopidity. Today, with the help of deightweetabix, I'm stealing it back:

Video courtesy of deightweetabix's channel.

I believe in Kowalski's God. I feel secure and humbled knowing that after all his trials and tribulations, tempered by the desert heat, shunning prophets and false prophets alike, Kowalski died for all our sins, and that he is still out there, somewhere, foot on the floor, going hellbent toward another, endless horizon. So, when next you face a moral dilemma or a crisis of conscience, just ask yourself: What Would Kowalski Do?

Video courtesy of natumelow's Channel.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fractured Flickers :: The NotLD Memorial Edition :: Bill Hinzman R.I.P.

Sure, the out of the blue, opening assault on Barbara and Johnny in the graveyard, which ultimately led to her brother's death, is the opening salvo in the seminal, ground-breaking and still scary as hell Night of the Living Dead. But it isn't until after Barbara reaches the apparent safety of the car when the collective Image-10 punched their fists into our brains and then seized and squeezed the crap out of our respective amygdalas because -- call it subliminally, subconsciously, verisimilitude-ly, or breaking the plane, whatever you prefer -- it's here, when the silent ghoul chucks the notion of leaving a stainless steel hook in the door latch, picks up a rock, and goes to town, we, as an audience, realize he's no longer coming to get Barbara, but, instead, he's breaking through the screen and, therefore, irrevocably, coming to get us!

Samuel William "Bill" Hinzman
(October 24, 1936 – February 5, 2012)

Dear Bill, I say this in all sincerity, thanks for the scaring the hell out of me and for the permanent case of the drizzles whenever I watch this movie, and for making the simple act of sitting in a theater/living room to watch a movie no longer a safe and secure inevitability.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) Image Ten / P: Karl Hardman, Russell Streiner / D: George Romero / W: John Russo, George Romero / C: George Romero / E: John Russo, George Romero / S: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, George Kosana
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