Saturday, May 28, 2011

Blogathon Ahoy!

Nathanael Hood over at Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear has thrown out a wide net for The Roger Corman Blogathon submissions, and yours truly just had to answer the call for this mid-June shindig. My contribution? Well, since I already covered Teenage Caveman both here, and here, a person could do worse than settling on the tale of Roger's kooky trip to the Caribbean for a little offbeat nugget of nuttiness known as...

Stay Tuned, Boils and Ghouls...

I'm contributing. Are You?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

YouTube Finds :: From Zardoz with Love...

For those clicking over from the utterly delightful She Blogged by Night, here's some more inZardozanity for your viewing pleasure:

Video courtesy of .

For more on this gonzoidal cinematic treat, clickey clickey.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Favorites :: Comic Book Covers :: Marvel Comics Six Issue Adaptation of Star Wars...

... or Episode IV. Or A New Hope. Or ... you know what? Screw that. It's just Star Wars. Always was. Always will be.

-- Issue #1 --
Artists: Howard Chaykin, Tom Palmer

-- Issue #2 --
Artists: Howard Chaykin, Tom Palmer

-- Issue #3 --
Artists: Dave Cockrum, Tom Palmer

-- Issue #4 --
Artists: Gil Kane, Dave Cockrum

-- Issue #5 --

Artists: Rick Hoberg, Dave Cockrum

-- Issue #6 --
Artists: Rick Hoberg, Dave Cockrum

Treasury Editions:
Front and Back Covers.

-- Special Edition #1 --
Artists: Rick Hoberg, Dave Cockrum

-- Special Edition #2 --
Artists: Tony DeZuniga

-- Special Edition #3 --
Artists: Ernie Chan

For more on the history of these comics and what happened right after The Battle of Yavin, click right here.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Whoops! No Apocalypse.

So. The Rapture didn't happ...

Double Dammit!
(Sorry, the fighting Panther Lamp and the F-Troop DVDs are already spoken for.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

YouTube Finds :: It's the End of the World As We Know It. And I Feel Doomed :: Donald Thompson's A Thief in the Night (1972)

Well, apparently, according to some, the world will finally come to an end this weekend with the Rapture due sometime on Saturday. Whatever ... Now, I'm not here to argue on whether or not this is really going to happen or get into any kind of theological debate on which side of the fence I fall in the whole Divine scheme of things. Nah. It's just all this talk about the allegedly nigh Apocalypse has got me to reminiscing about a trippy scare film concerning the Rapture and the Tribulation that I was exposed to by a rickety projector and some shitty synch-sound in a church basement many, many moons ago called A Thief in the Night...

Poor Patty Myers; she was a good person, a decent Christian, and lived by the Golden Rule. Unfortunately for her that just wasn't enough. One morning, her husband and millions of others, being completely twitterpated with the Haysoos, disappear without a trace, leaving Patty and the other unworthy to deal with the Anti-Christ; here, in the form of a New World Orderish organization going by the handle of UNITE (United Nations Imperium for Total Emergency), who demands all of those left behind must denounce their shattered faith and swear eternal allegiance by accepting a stamp -- or mark if you're more biblically inclined, consisting of a series of ones and zeroes: the binary code for 666, the Mark of the Beast.

A Thief in the Night (1972) is only the first part of Mark IV Productions Rapture, or Prophecy, quadrilogy. Based out of, and filmed around, Des Moines, Iowa, this religious themed production house was the brainchild of Russell S. Doughten Jr., who had been a jack-of-all-trades for Good News Productions; another religious based filmmaking outfit operating in Pennsylvania. If that's ringing some bells for any of you, yes, that's the same outfit who cranked out The Blob (1958) for Jack H. Harris. In fact, it was Harris's shabby treatment in the post-production phase that caused a frustrated Doughten to eventually pull up his revival tent stakes and head further west. (Doughten deserved a full producer's credit on The Blob. He didn't get it. Wait. Vanity is a sin, right?)

Anyhoo. There are plenty of acting gaffes and some plot specific and dated laughs to be had (-- nice 'stache, there, dude), and it does kinda go off the rails a bit in a good-bad kind of way once Patty goes on the run, but overall A Thief in the Night is an earnest and somber affair that lacks the true fundie whackadoodleness and fanatical delirium of your Estus Pirkle or Ron Ormand convert-or-die zealotry screeds like If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do (1971) or A Burning Hell (1974). For the record, things do get a little more shrill and wonky in the three sequels, A Distant Thunder (1978), Image of the Beast (1980) and The Prodigal Planet (1983) -- definitely more head-chopping. But while watching their inaugural effort, however, one cannot deny that there's some real talent behind the camera and in the editing booth that belie it's small town origins. (Check out the constantly moving camera and those montage sequences.) And I really kinda dug how they pulled off that twisty shock ending, when the film basically laps itself, and poor Patty's waking nightmare turns out to be only the beginning -- the beginning of the end.


A Thief in the Night (1972) Mark IV Productions / D: Donald W. Thompson / W: Donald W. Thompson, Russell S. Doughten, Jim Grant / C: John P. Leiendecker Jr. / E: Wes Phillippi / P: Russell S. Doughten, Donald W. Thompson / S: Patty Dunning, Mike Niday, Colleen Niday, Maryann Rachford, Thom Rachford

Monday, May 16, 2011

Favorites :: Print Ads :: Greatest Drive-In Double Feature Ever. Period.

Original Ad.


Artist Reconstruction.

(May, 1973)


Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Who, What, Where, When and Why of The House the Screamed (1969) :: Spoilers Ahoy!

___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___

"If the girls want to escape, they will.
This is a boarding house, not a prison."

"Then I will make it a prison."
___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___

Our film begins in what appears to be turn of the 19th Century France, with the arrival of young Theresa (Euro-Sleaze fave Galbo) at Madame Fourneau's palatial boarding school for girls. (Or, according to the horrible English dub that I watched, Madame Porno's palatial boarding school for girls.) As the new ward is given the grand tour by the Headmistress (Palmer), it appears the establishment is a prim and proper finishing school, designed to train and prepare the students in the fine art of womanhood. But if The House that Screamed teaches us anything, it's that things are never, ever what they appear to be.

See, turns out Fourneau's school is the last resort for the wayward and the unwanted, and she runs it like a Filipino prison camp, as those who show any signs of insolence are placed in solitary confinement, where that insolence is then summarily beaten out of them with a leather strap. Aided and abetted by a group of bullying (and, of course, lesbian) trustees, led by the predatory Irene (Maude), they soon set their lascivious sights on poor Theresa; whom, it turns out, is the illegitimate daughter of a high-profile prostitute and some muckety-muck that is footing the bill to hide her away.

Even before her arrival, with all of those coming of age girls cooped up inside the isolated academy walls, the sexual tension and roiling frustrations were already at critical mass -- even the sewing seminar carries an erotic charge. I'm serious. To help defuse this pent-up powder-keg, Irene trades favors on the side for access to the local delivery men, leading to a romp in the hay in the adjoining stable for the lucky girl of the day. The only other men on the grounds are a toady groundskeeper and Fourneau's adolescent son, Luis (Moulder-Brown). Though kept on a short, incestuous leash by his mother, who forbids him to associate with these unworthy girls, wanting him to wait for someone more refined just like her, Luis still manages to sneak around the mansion's many hidey-holes and unused passages, especially around the showers, to play the Peeping Tom (which isn't as much of a show as you'd think since the uptight Fourneau won't even let her charges bathe without their smocks on.) The little pervert also arranges secret assignations with several of the girls -- girls that seem to go missing after he promises to help break them out so they can runaway together, he typed ominously...

About a half-dozen girls have disappeared over the last few months under these same circumstances, prompting the increasingly agitated Forneau to beef up security to prevent any more of those ungrateful brats from running off. Our first real clue that something far more sinister is going on presents itself when Luis's latest doe-eyed conquest sneaks off to meet him in the greenhouse, where she is brutally knifed to death by some unseen assailant, as our movie drastically shifts exploitation gears from a delirium of forced sexual repression to maniacal mayhem and mass murder.

Let's be clear up front: The House that Screamed (a/k/a La Residencia) is one helluva disturbing movie. And awesome. Disturbingly awesome. Another one of those Euro-Sleaze melting pots -- Spanish money and crew, shot in France, English and German actors -- the film just gets under your skin and itches like crazy. What it reminds me of most is a combination of "Uncle Silas", author J.S. LeFanu's dark Victorian novel of mounting horror, and the visual, dreamlike ambiguity of Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock punctuated by explosions of graphic violence similar to Mario Bava in his Twitch of the Death Nerve phase. Here, director Serrador, with a story assist from Juan Tébar, really over-stuffs the blender with all kinds of ingredients: a Gothic pot-boiler, a Women in Prison flick and a seedy Slasher, with some heavy gialli-like overtones to give the resulting slush a really surreal kick. And Serrano plays the audience beautifully, capitalizing on an outstanding shooting location, and begins at the lowest speed, churning all of those elements together but they're still recognizable as they swirl around. But as he ratchets things up, the plot (and the audience) is stirred, mixed, chopped, puree'd and finally liquefied into something truly unique as we progress onward from that first murder. For what really sets the film apart is how we keep switching perspectives, meaning just when we think we know what's going on and who the main protagonist is, Serrador goes and bumps them off!

Remember how I said nothing is what it appears to be in this movie? Yeah, well, here we have the likable Theresa, set up perfectly as a typical, though proto, final girl, whom we expect to take us by the hand as she unravels the unholy secrets of Fourneau's Academy. And as Fourneau throws an even more draconian net over her charges, and caught in Irene's ever tightening web of humiliation, Theresa wants nothing more but to escape and turns to Luis for help. Here, following form, we expect her to be attacked while trying that escape, resulting in a struggle, revealing the killer, etc. etc. etc. Well, she does attempt an escape but only makes it as far the main hall before her throat is cut from ear to ear! So much for that idea, right? Right.

Well, since our heroine is dead and we still don't know whodunit the story shifts its focus to Irene, who is none to happy about her latest pigeon flying the coop. She knew of Theresa's escape plan and was waiting in ambush outside the main entrance. But when her target never appeared, all Irene finds is a splash of blood near the door ... Realizing all of those missing girls are probably dead and buried somewhere around the campus grounds, Irene confronts Fourneau with the facts, who still doggedly insists the girls just ran off despite all evidence to the contrary. Irene, meanwhile, raises such a stink that she loses all of her head trustee privileges. And when she's threatened with a trip to solitary over her continued defiance, Irene reminds Herr Fourneau that she has enough dirt on the Headmistress, and how she runs things, to ruin the school forever. Fourneau backs off, things disintegrate even further, and Irene decides she'd better get while the getting is still breathing. So when night falls, as she sneaks her way toward the main entrance, a strange voice draws the girl away from a sure escape and deeper into the darker recesses of the mansion, where the killer awaits.

And as we finally barrel toward the fantastically morbid conclusion of The House that Screamed, if you think Serrano is done pulling our chains at this point, well, you'd be wrong. Dead wrong. Just ask Irene. No, wait. You can't. She's dead, too, leaving Madame Fourneau to find and face the inevitable truth -- the truth that puts the scream in The House that Screamed. For in the end, it's not so much as whodunit that's important but whyhedunit. He, you ask? Yeah, if the killer wasn't obvious enough the final twist of why is an ample reward for those who sniffed Luis out early, whose perversely innocent and ingrained motives to find someone just (-- stress on the just) like dear old mom have finally reached fruition -- he just had to find her, one piece at a time.

According to several sources if you'd like to see The House that Screamed, which I hope this review will encourage you to do, go after the Elvira's Movie Macabre double disc of this and Maneater of Hydra. I watched it via an Amazon rental through my trusty Roku box, my inaugural effort on such things, and, aside from that aforementioned hatchet-job of a dub, was very happy with the quality of the widescreen print. Hell, I hadn't even heard of the damn thing until stumbling upon a poster a little over a week ago, and now I consider it one of my all time favorite Euro-Shockers.

The House that Screamed (1969) Anabel Films :: American International / P: Arturo González / D: Narciso Ibáñez Serrador / W: Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, Juan Tébar / C: Manuel Berenguer / M: Waldo de los Ríos / S: Lilli Palmer, Cristina Galbó, John Moulder-Brown, Maribel Martín, Mary Maude

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Breaking News:: And Very Sad News Indeed.

According to multiple reports a mummified body has been found in the home of cult-film-favorite Yvette Vickers. Sadly, the remains are too far gone to tell if it really is her. For the full story, click here. Though awaiting official confirmation from the L.A. coroner, it seems inevitable. Her career resume wasn't all that big, but Ms. Vickers left one hell of an impression. This all makes me very, very sad.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Movie Poster Spotlight :: A Strange Adventure Indeed : Cy Endfield's Sands of the Kalahari (1965)

It's been documented that within a span of just a few short months a domesticated pig turned loose in the wild will basically devolve and take on the characteristics of it's more primitive ancestors: a coat of coarser hair, sharper hooves, a meaner disposition, and more pronounced tusks. Now, according to most movies, packs of Homo-Sapiens can pull this same feralization stunt in a matter of mere hours, shaking the skin of civilization like a snake to get in touch with their inner Cro-Magnons, usually with a side-order of malignant Alpha-Maleitus. So take that, you little porcine porkers. We win. Anyways ... One of the better examples of this Humans Gone Wild genre is Cy Edenfield's Sands of the Kalahari.

One Sheet:

Three Sheet:


Half Sheet:

Lobby Cards:

Based on a novel by William Mulvihill, this anthropological tale concerns a small group of plane crash survivors stuck in the middle of the African desert. Despite the group's best efforts to adapt, with little food, water, and an even smaller prospect of rescue, compounded by the constant danger of a roving pack of (sadly, non-axe-wielding) Gibbons (*sigh*), one of the group (the great white hunter 'natch) stakes his claim on the lone female (who's so emotionally damaged she basically threw herself at him before the wreckage stopped burning) and does his best to stretch their meager rations by increasing his portion by picking off the rest of the group to ensure the survival of the stranded species. All of that topped off with one of the most fascinating endings ever committed to film when our retro-caveman is left to the whim of those troublesome monkeys.

Sands of the Kalahari is one of those oft championed offbeat films that has been maddeningly elusive for far too long. But now, my fellow gonzoidal movie lovers, our long wait is over as the film will finally be getting an official release this coming August on both DVD and BluRay thanks to the fine folks at Olive Films. Meaning: Woohoo! I can finally dump that A&E broadcast bootleg!

Sands of the Kalahari (1965) Joseph M. Schenck Productions-Pendennis Productions-Paramount / D: Cy Endfield / W: Cy Endfield / C: Erwin Hillier / E: John Jympson / M: John Dankworth / P: Joseph E. Levine, Cy Endfield, Stanley Baker / S: Stuart Whitman, Stanley Baker, Susannah York, Theodore Bikel, Nigel Davenport
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