Sunday, January 30, 2011

Favorites :: Inks and Paints : Lush and Lovely, With a Splash of Trouble.

Artist: Robert McGinnis

Used for the cover of a Robert Kyle Ben Gates' mystery, Kill Now, Pay Later, we have another fabulous piece by McGinnis, who can bring out the sensuality of the female form better than anyone I can think of.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Aw, Nutz...

No. No. B-Fest itself has not been canceled.
But! Due to an absolute train-wreck of unforeseen,
dire and completely understandable circumstances,
annual trip to Chicago for 24-Hours of B-Movie
and butt-numbing insanity had to be scuttled.

Again: Nutz.

I are a sad, sad Panda, today.


For those of you still going, here's what the transparency
our sponsored film would have looked like.
(Burn a few seats during this one for me, eh.)

And so, to cheer myself up I've had this playing
on a loop for about a day and half:

By Gum, I think it's working!

Yup. Definitely working.
(Thank you, Leslie Gore!)

And before I go and play it again
I only have one last thing to say:

B-Fest 2012 or Bust, Baby!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Good Reads :: Collins Mines Hard-Boiled Gold in Quarry.

To get you all up to speed, our protagonist for today, Quarry, is a killer for hire who used to work for a network of assassins somewhat akin to Bugsy Segal and Meyer Lansky's Murder Inc., where said assassinations were handled by contract in such a clandestine way that there would be no link between those paying for the hit, the team of hit-men (one for reconnaissance, the other the trigger-man or woman) and the target. That is, he used to until his manager, known simply as the Broker, tried to double-cross and eliminate him three installments ago; and since Quarry is still here to be written about you can probably guess how that all worked out. Now, armed with the Broker's list of operatives, Quarry has a new angle: find and stalk his fellow assassins, find out who they're trying to kill, and then step in, gum up the works, and turn the tables on whoever wants the target dead and eliminate them instead -- for a fee, of course. Unapologetically misanthropic (with some narcissistic tendencies), fast on his feet, quicker of mind, with no moral hesitations, these traits make Quarry very good at his job, but he also subscribes to a strange code of ethics that separates him from you average, run of the mill sociopath. And despite these few character flaws, it is the wry, quick-witted and brutally honest voice that author Max Allan Collins bestows upon this character both internally and externally that endears me to him as he bangs away (on the bed and with his gun) through each venture.

"Not that I'm apologizing ... I like a black comedy, and I like the freedom of doing whatever sick, twisted thing that comes into my mind. My late mentor Don Westlake said that Richard Stark was Westlake getting up on the wrong side of the bed on a rainy day. Quarry is me when I slept on the floor and woke to a thunderstorm."
-- Max Allan Collins
I was first introduced to Collins' modus operandi when I found several Ms. Tree comics in one of those potluck value-packs you used to find at the Walgreens back in the 1980's. There was just something about the simple and blunt and brutal straight-forwardness of that series that clicked and I did my damndest to find more. (And could someone, anyone, get those Ms. Tree comics the ominbus reprint treatment? 'kay, thanks.) Anyways, I was re-introduced to him a few years ago while burning through those Hard Case Crime novels, where Collins resurrected his snarky and cynical hired gun for three new installments (-- with a fourth pending, I hope, as I'm highly confused with Amazon and their ever shifting release dates right now.) This sent me in search of more, which went nowhere, because those old novels, and even the reprints, went for an insane amount of coin no matter where you dug. Luckily, Perfect Crime Books has them all back in print at a much more reasonable price.

With Quarry's Cut (originally published as The Slasher in 1977), this time, an opportunity practically lands in Quarry's lap, when he spots a former associate, who used to scout targets for him, in a cafe he frequents, and then traces the creep to the probable target: a pornographer, who is currently shooting his latest and last skin-flick at a secluded mountain lodge before heading to Hollywood and legitimacy for a major minor studio. After bluffing his way inside under false pretenses, our protagonist sizes up the likely suspects among the motley cast and crew, including an old acquaintance he knocked-boots with at some point in the past. Luckily, that carnal encounter ended amicably, so she doesn't blow his cover, but that appears to be the end of Quarry's luck as he tries to sniff out the trigger-man and confirm the intended target. And then things get even harrier when someone starts knocking off the small troupe, one by one, as a winter storm rages outside, trapping them all inside with at least two killers. And maybe more.

What boils done to a proto-body count/snuff movie, Quarry's Cut is a fun and frantic and frenzied foray into the seedy world of smut films and the mob that usually finances them. And having our hard-boiled hero plopped down in the middle of a country cottage whodunit, with that kinda cast for support, is truly inspired story-telling, folks, and just one of the many, many reasons as to why I love Max Allan Collins. His style, like his character, here, is lean and mean and openly disdains any unnecessary filler; just clean and clear-cut; set it up quick and then knock 'em down, and then tease them to the next chapter to do it all over again.

See also, Quarry, Quarry's List, Quarry's Deal, The First Quarry, The Last Quarry, Quarry in the Middle, and, hopefully, Quarry's Ex.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cinema Oddities :: The Madmen of Crown International Pictures.

Crown International Pictures was founded in 1959 by Newton P. "Red" Jacobs, a former regional distribution supervisor for RKO, who had already been a successful independent distributor for over a decade with his Favorite Films brand. But by the 1960's, Jacobs was ready to back his own films (-- starting with Coleman Francis' The Skydivers and continuing with about 1/3rd of Mystery Science Theater's back catalog), and to hedge his bet and save some money Jacobs also repackaged and retitled some older product, and also handled the domestic dubbing of several foreign releases (-- most notably, Toho's Varan the Unbelievable, and later, Sonny Chiba's masterful The Street Fighter). Then, in 1964, Jacobs struck a deal with Westhampton Film Corporation and Desilu Productions that raided Crown International's film archives for future TV syndication.

Now, one of B-Moviedom's greatest mysteries is the exact extenuating circumstances that led Crown International to take an old, paranoidal psycho-noir flick like Madmen of Mandoras and pad it out with some clumsy and highly anachronistic footage with all the skill of Jerry Warren, turning it into the much more recognizable -- but still extremely stoopid, They Saved Hitler's Brain. It's been well established that this footage was added to expand the original film's running time so it could be packaged for television, where we're supposed to buy that these people...

And these Mod Squad rejects...

And this little guy...

Were all part of the same movie.

It's often been rumored that the footage was provided by some UCLA film students, looking for an industry in, but this has never been officially substantiated (-- as far as I know). So, no one knows for sure who shot this footage, who was shot in the extra footage, or exactly when the extra footage was shot to begin with. (I've heard anywhere from 1968-1973.)

Alas, I have no answer to this particular conundrum. But what I do have to offer, and the real reason for this post, is some more clues that will probably do nothing to solve anything but only add even more confusion. For you see, the fine folks working at CIP's behest not only shot extra-footage for They Saved Hitler's Brain, but they also shot and added a whole new nonsensical subplot for another CIP import, a confusing and coma-inducing mystery filched from Argentina called Sócio de Alcova, transforming it into something called Carnival of Crime, where, once again, we're supposed to believe that these people...

And these people...

Are part of the same film.

And it was while watching said flick, as part of Mill Creek's Cult Terror Cinema package, when it abruptly switched from the story of an architect, who is suspected of malfeasance over the disappearance of his wife and his long and protracted attempts to find her, to two revolutionary jungle guerrillas/assassins whose purpose to the overall plot, aside from watching some monkeys fornicate and a plane blow up, was a little murky, that I recognized one of those boobs as being in both movies. Which is why, upon this realization, I shouted "Whoa! Hey! Waitaminute ...That's that idiot from They Saved Hitler's Brain."

Just have a look for yourself.

C.I.D. Agent, Vic Gilbert
They Saved Hitler's Brain

Unknown Assassin and Primate Enthusiast
Carnival of Crime

E'yup, that's the same guy.

And I'm also fairly certain that dude on the right is
the same dude who gets blown up at the beginning

of They Saved Hitler's Brain, pictured below.

And while sifting through the added footage I'm
still not convinced that this isn't Hugh Marlowe
doing somebody a huge favor.
Which can only leave one to wonder how many more Crown International hatchet-jobs these guys and their compadres showed up in. But I have a feeling that since BCI went tits up and Crown International's library wound up in Mill Creek's lap, famous for all those 50 movie DVD packs and Cult Cinema collections, we're all about to find out.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Movie Poster Spotlight :: Murder at 120 Miles and Hour : Dragstrip Riot (1958)

Couldn't verify for sure if this was Reynold Brown or Al Kallis' work -- pretty sure it's another Brown classic, though. Regardless, I love the sense of momentum of this poster. The unbridled freneticism, if you will. Just looking at it, you can hear the engines roaring, and smell the rubber burning off the asphalt. And if you ain't careful, and aren't smart enough to get out of the way, this particular Dragstrip Riot is gonna land right in your lap.

One Sheet:

Three Sheet:


Half Sheet:

Lobby Cards:

Dragstrip Riot (1958) American International / D: David Bradley / W: George Hodgins / P: O'Dale Ireland / Gary Clarke, Yvonne Lime, Fay Wray, Connie Stevens

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Easier it Comes, the Easier it Goes :: A Beer-Gut Reaction to Jonh Rich's Easy Come, Easy Go (1967).

One of the things I always look forward to at the beginning of every new year -- after the hangover wears off that is, is to celebrate m'man Elvis Presley's birthday by taking a look at one of his fine, fractured forays into feature film. Producer Hal Wallis had a hand in a ton of these things -- usually used for some quick cash to bolster his other productions; and here, kicking off just the first of three films The Big E walked through in 1967 ( -- the others being Double Trouble and Clambake), was this tale of Navy Frogman Ted Jackson, who accidentally stumbles upon some sunken treasure on the last day of his enlistment while trying to deactivate an old underwater mine.

And once his gig is up, with a little help from his best pal and some diving equipment rented from the kookie father of the inevitable loopy love interest, he efforts to salvage the gold. Of course, a disastrous chain-reaction of misunderstandings soon has these lovebirds at odds and on the outs. Will they be able to reconcile before a couple of pirates sneak in and steal the treasure out from under them?

You know, it was while digging up some artwork for this update that something hit me: Somebody really needs to come out with a line of Elvis Presley action figures and accessory kits based on his movie characters. I mean, you could have Rodeo Elvis [Tickle Me], Scuba Elvis [Easy Come, Easy Go], Combat Elvis [G.I. Blues], Chopper-Pilot Elvis [Paradise, Hawaiian Style] or Racer Elvis [Speedway]. Hell, he's already got a built-in kung-fu grip. Seriously, this guy was a walking G.I. Joe doll, cinematically speaking -- all you had to do was just change the uniform, plug him into the same script on a different playset and there ya go -- about 85% of his movies.

In the end, that's all Easy Come, Easy Go is: just another rehash of the same hi-jinx and general foolishness. But, sometimes that's all we come for and all we ask. And besides, this film contains the absolute zenith, the pinnacle for all perpetuity, the most absurdest buffoonery ever befallen, the most absolute gob-smacking brain-bending smack-down to ever occur in cinema ... a dueling duet between Elvis and Elsa Lanchester. That's right: the King of Rock and Roll vs. the Bride of Frankenstein in a little number I like to call "Yoga is as Yoga Does."

Oh, mama ... That is a whole six-pack of awfulsomeness.

Other Points of Interest:

Newspaper ads for Easy Come, Easy Go at the Morgue.

Easy Come, Easy Go (1967) Paramount Pictures / EP: Joseph H. Hazen / P: Hal B. Wallis / AP: Paul Nathan / D: John Rich / W: Allan Weiss, Anthony Lawrence / C: William Margulies / E: Archie Marshek / M: Joseph J. Lilley / S: Elvis Presley, Dodie Marshall, Pat Priest, Pat Harrington, Skip Ward

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Vintage Tuneage :: Be Still My Undead Heart! But I think I Have a New Favorite Band!

From their Sell Your Soul album, I give you

Video courtesy of Stereo Dynamite's Channel.

The Creepshow:
The Reverend McGinty, Sarah Blackwood,

Matt Gee and Sean McNab
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