Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cigarette Burns revisited

I've just rewatched John Carpenter's CIGARETTE BURNS that he made for the first season of the "Masters of Horror" series. I'd totally forgotten how good it is!! The story perfectly fits the 60 minute running time. I think I'll start rewatching all three seasons again ("Fear Itself" being "season 3").
Here's a link to my five year old review.



Last on the bill at last night's screening...


I finished off last night with a couple of episodes from the highly entertaining US TV series KOLCHAK: The Night Stalker from the mid-seventies. It only ran for one season which is a bit odd as I reckon it was pretty great. But then again, good doesn't necessarily equal commercial. Maybe nobody cared about it in 1974/75.

It was remade a few years back but I've never seen the remake. Much like COLUMBO, KOLCHAK basically has the same plot in each episode, Kolchak is sent to investigate an ordinary story for his newspaper and along the way he runs into something obscure like a vampire, a zombie, or as in last nights episodes a guy who sold his soul to the Devil so he can turn himself into a hound from Hell and thus win the election. And in the second episode, an evil red indian who can turn himself into a coyote and kill people in order to steal their jewels. Both episodes were highly entertaining.

The Satanic demon dog from Hell guy was played by Tom Skerritt who many yrs later played the main character in the TV series PICKET FENCES which was a weirdo kinda show basically created to take over when TWIN PEAKS ended (and it was pretty good actually. I remember taping episodes but I mucked up, missed episodes, and eventually gave up. That was definitely a mistake as the series has drifted into obscurity and apart from season one hasn't been released to home-video in any format. EDIT: I just checked and apparently season two has JUST been released in OZ at the beginning of December!!). The indian was played by none other than Richard Kiel aka "Jaws"!

The DVD set that I have contains the complete series. My release is the UK set which basically is identical to the US set - EXCEPT it's the one you need if you're a purist! The first few episodes had a slightly different title when they ran on US TV originally (it was just called "The Night Stalker") but the series was retitled from episode 5 ("Kolchak: The Night Stalker"). During reruns the new title was used for all episodes in the US and the reg. 1 set carries the rerun title whereas the UK set uses the original title-card for episode 1-4. Also, the reg. 1 set uses flipper discs while the UK set does not. If you need English or Spanish subs the US set is the one to get, tho. No subs on the UK set. The two telly films (THE NIGHT STALKER and THE NIGHT STRANGLER) aren't part of the set.

My friend, the sensational Steven Smith with Richard Kiel in Australia, 2012!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Second film on tonight's programme at Cinema J

THE HAUNTED SEA (1997) from Corman's New Horizons company. According to the DVD cover it was directed by Daniel Patrick but IMDb also lists Dan Golden as co-director. According to IMDb, this is Daniel Patrick's only film!

Anyhoo, we're in true Corman territory as the budget could hardly have been more than a couple hundred dollars. A ship crew runs into a big ship floating adrift and needless to say they board it to see if there's any goodies on board. It turns out there's heaps of gold and shit but also... an angry Aztec monster/demon! However, I swear the "Aztec" monster/demon looks like fucking Minya, hahaha (you know, from SON OF GODZILLA). :P

But don't let the budget or Minya fool you, the film is totally entertaining and great fun. Yes, we're in clichéd territory; yes the character development was probably written on the back of a matchbox, yes there's even stock footage from some other movie, yes the black guy dies, but as they say in dubbed kung fu films, "but still!"... I had great fun with THE HAUNTED SEA.

Fans of old genre cinema will recognise Don Stroud who's been in tons of psychotronic films and TV series going back to the 60s. He was in COOGAN'S BLUFF and the nasty DEATH WEEKEND, and heaps more. Why some unknown chicks are mentioned on the cover while Stroud is ignored is a mystery to me.

There's some gore here and there but don't expect a full-blown splatterfilm. The leading lady shows us her boobs about 10 times (the film kicks off with a shower scene). James Brolin is in there, too (i.e. the film, not the shower scene).

I bought the reg. 1 release from New Horizon directly from Corman's eBay store ($13 + postage). Apart from the film's trailer the disc is completely barebone and to mock us even further it's presented fullscreen.

The Ripper is dead. Long live the Ripper.

Old Danish sell-thru VHS (Film-Lab)

First off this afternoon: Hammer's HANDS OF THE RIPPER from 1971, directed by Peter Sasdy. I thought it was quite good. The urge to kill lives on in Jack the Ripper's daughter. Quite gory for its time. Phil Hardy's "The Encyclopaedia of Horror Movies" calls it "arguably the last masterpiece produced by Hammer". I quite liked the fact that it doesn't have a good guy character.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

BLOOD THIRST (USA/Philippines 1971)

aka BLOOD SEEKERS / THE HORROR FROM BEYOND




Director Newt Arnold
Producer Newt Arnold
Executive Producer Michael “Dupont”/Du Pont
Writer N.I.P. Dennis
Director of Photography Hermo Santos
Post-Production Supervisor Lee Osborne
Editing Supervisor “Tony”/Anthony DiMarco

Cast
Robert Winston (Adam Rourke), Katherine Henryk, Yvonne Nielson, Vic Diaz (Captain Miguel), Vic Silayan, Eddie Infante, Bruno Punzalan, Judy Dennis, Max “Rojo”/Roio, Ching Tello, Minda Morena, Isidro Francisco, Felix Marfil



by JACK J

Young, beautiful women are being bumped off by a mysterious killer in the vicinity of a nightclub in downtown Manilla. The head of police (played by a young and less plumb Vic Diaz) runs to the phone and calls an American detective friend (played by Robert Wilson Mercy) who has specialised in mysterious killers who bump off beautiful, young women. The American friend arrives and soon after goes under cover as a writer with an interest in bumped off beaut... well, you get the point.

He also runs into the police chief's sister (unavoidable romance ensues), local goons, scantly clad nightclub dames (relatively scantly clad anyway. The film was probably made in the 60s altho not released until '71), and eventually a monster so diabolical your blood will freeze and you'll be tossing and turning because of the nightmares you'll be getting (I'm exaggerating by a million). Half of the film is set in the nightclub, the dialogue is aplenty, and the action and horror scenes kept to a minimum.



BLOOD THIRST is by no means a great film. Not even if we only compared it to other Filipino horror films. But I liked it and thought it had its charm.

The film has a laid back obscureness to it that I though was cool. Also, the film being so old, made way before the American-Filipino coproductions we're so familiar with from Roger Corman (i.e. mostly made in the 70s), makes for an interesting watch.

The fact that the actors are unfamiliar faces (except Vic Diaz who was probably in every Filipino film made in the 60s and 70s!!!) makes it almost seem like it's from another Philippines. Bizarro Philippines. And just who was Scandinavian sounding Yvonne Nielson??

I liked the crisp black & white look as well - and not least the cool jazz score thru out the film. And with a running time of just over 70 minutes it doesn't overstay its welcome.



THE DVD:

I watched Vinegar Syndrome's release from their "Drive-In Collection" series. The film is backed with another US-Filipino film called THE THIRSTY DEAD. Both films have also been released by Something Weird Video. VS's print is from a 35mm print presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and it looks fantastic!

There's a wee bit of noise and worn print around reel ends but that's alright and if nothing else means the film wasn't shot on fucking video. The SWV dvd is presented fullscreen and it's definitely not the way you wanna watch the film once you've seen the print from VS! Neither release carries any extras related to the film.



Andrew Leavold also reviewed the film on his blog and had this piece of interesting titbit to say:

"Robert Wilson Mercy, the smug big-chinned former stuntman and bit player who plays our Ugly American hero, has made his presence felt on the net recently, leaving some outrageous claims in unsuspecting chatrooms: that he made more lost films in the Philippines with director Newt Arnold, who he describes as one-eyed and with a malformed hand; that he was offered the role of James Bond in a serious version of Casino Royale – but he was making a B-film in Manila at the time and couldn’t get out of the contract; and that he’s stalking the producers of the next Bond film offering his services as Daniel Craig’s nemesis. I say to Robert Wilson Mercy: the world may have gotten Woody Allen as James Bond instead, but we still have your career’s crowning glory, the 1971 Blood Thirst."

I'd love to find out what other films Newt Arnold directed in the Philippines and where they are now. Are they lost? Did they get finished? Have they been screened anywhere?



You'll find a better and more incisive review here.



The credits list is borrowed from Andrew Leavold's blog.

Monday, December 22, 2014

"There’s a killer on the loose… a homicidal maniac with delusions of ancient history. Now, can I use your phone?"


I received my pile of new reg. 1 dvd releases of US-Filipino coproductions a couple of days ago and I just watched one of them, the black & white monster killer film BLOOD THIRST (1971). Vinegar Syndrome have put it out on a double (single dvd) bill paring it with THE THIRSTY DEAD (1974). Both films are also out from Something Weird Video, I've got both those dvd's as well, and I just did a two minute comparison between the two versions of BLOOD THIRST. It's easy to see which one comes out on top, the sheer fact that Vinegar Syndrome's release is the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and SWV's is fullscreen makes all the difference. The latter print doesn't look bad, by no means, but still, the new release blows it out of the water.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

NIGHT OF THE COBRA WOMAN dvd from Scorpion Records

When I posted about new DVD releases of American-Filipino coproductions the other day I forgot this one, NIGHT OF THE COBRA WOMAN, - maybe because it's not released from Vinegar Syndrome (like the other five) but instead it's out on Scorpion Records (run by Code Red's Bill Olson's brother).


NIGHT OF THE COBRA WOMAN (1972) is yet another Roger Corman produced flick shot in the 'Pines. Until this release the film had only been released on VHS. I haven't got the new DVD yet but according to one online source the DVD is pretty good, and it's got a few great extras on it; There are new interviews with Marlene Clark, who plays the main character, and Roger Corman. The trailer is also included and the film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1.

"Queen of Black Magic" director passes away

According to Ekky Imanjaya over at Finding Jaka Sembung blog, Lilik Sudjio, the director of the cool Indonesian horror film QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC (starring Suzzanna) has passed away. This is sad news indeed. To read his post go here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Bava double bill to remember - a quarter of a century ago!


I used to live in the UK in the late 80s/early 90s. Actually, my love of horror films began in the UK, and in early 1990 I went to visit a friend in London. I'm not sure if I already knew about what was going to be screened on TV that night or if I found out during the visit. I probably knew already, but then again maybe I just brought a blank tape by chance. Or maybe my friend Suzanne had one that she gave it to me. Who knows. And it's not all that important - what is of much, much, much greater importance is what was on BBC2 that night! A double bill of Mario Bava's THE MASK OF SATAN and LISA AND THE DEVIL! It was introduced by Kim Newman and yours truly was ready at my friend's VCR and said blank tape. And... I just found my old tape!

Needless to say, better versions of the two films are available on DVD and blu-ray now but that broadcast was historical as it was: 1) the very first time THE MASK OF SATAN was screened in its uncut original version in the UK (i.e. not neither the re-edited and re-dubbed American fiasco, nor the British censored version of the American edit). And 2) it was the first time the director's cut of LISA was shown in the UK. The screen grab is not from my tape but one I found online.

Tonight I've uploaded Kim Newman's intros to the two films, and I've watched them a handful of times now. So weird, it's so fresh in my memory and yet... that double bill was 24 years ago!




PS: the title-card screen-grab from THE MASK OF SATAN isn't from my tape but one I found online.

Monday, December 1, 2014

THE MUTHERS from Vinegar Syndrome!

A few minutes after I had just posted the previous post about the five Filipino movies from Vinegar Syndrome I check their facebook page and, lo and behold, someone just posted the news that they'll be releasing yet another American-Filipino coproduction soon!!

The film is Cirio H. Santiago's THE MUTHERS from 1976.

The film has already been released on DVD in Australia a couple of years back. It was included as a bonus on the 2-disc release of MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED doc on US-Filipino coproductions (check my old post about it here). According to the post on fb the DVD is slated for March, 2015.



I would have posted the trailer here but I can't find a copy anywhere! So instead here's the way cool Japanese VHS cover! (which I found at Video Culture. Thanks, mates!).