I'm never going to claim THE DEVIL BAT is my favorite Bela Lugosi film BUT it is my favorite of his Poverty Row Horror films. It's a mad scientist lab full of crazy with Lugosi in full (slightly) secretive sinister mode which is enough to make almost anything a fun viewing experience. THE DEVIL BAT falls into the odd cinema space in my head where I can kick my brain into neutral, take it at face value and really enjoy it the way it was intended. But, I can also engage my critical faculties and swing back & forth between loving it and laughing at it. I truly love this film!
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
If you've not been reading the quarterly horror comic magazine The Creeps you have been missing out. The 11th issue is still on the shelves of your local Barnes & Noble (if you have a local Barnes & Noble) and is perfect October night entertainment for fans of the classic black & white horror comics of the 1970's.
Do yourself a favor and at least look over the previews available for each past issue at their website. Check it out and see if it's your kind of scary!
Monday, October 16, 2017
Sunday, October 15, 2017
Among the things I saw last month are two very different Stephen King adaptations. They show the problems inherent with moving from page to screen not just for King's horror tales but any story fashioned first as a book.
Put me in the (rather large) camp that found this new adaptation of King's massive novel to be excellent. Although I've read 19 of his novels and a couple of short story collections, the book IT is one of his that I've never read so I came to this film with only the 1990 TV mini-series for comparison. Wisely, the filmmakers chose to only tell the first half of the book's long story in this movie and I think this new film does an excellent job of placing the children's tale in the 1980's (as did the TV film) without bashing us over the head with 80's-isms. King was clearly trying to emulate favorite authors such as Ray Bradbury by placing the young versions of the characters center stage and this film actually captures that feeling well. The cast of kids are very good, the scares are very well done (even the cheap ones), the monster is brilliantly portrayed and the sense of the town of
Derry being a truly
dangerous place is put across well. I'm not sure if this is true in the novel
but in this version of the telling what we have is partially a haunted house
story and I love such things. I was quite pleased with this first half and hope
that the 30 years later portion in the second film won't flub things.
THE MERMAID (2016) - 7 (fast, silly Stephen Chow comedy)
HANDS OF THE RIPPER (1971) - 7 (rewatch)
DEATH NOTE (2017) - 7
THE FALLING (1987) - 2
NIGHTMARES (1983) - 5 (mediocre anthology horror film)
DARK SUMMER (2015) - 5 (too long ghost tale)
TERROR TRAIN (1980)- 6 (rewatch)
LATE PHASES (2014) - 7 (smart character study as werewolf film)
(2017) - 4 DARK TOWER
MADMAN (1981) - 6 (rewatch)
HOUSE (1977) - 7 (mad Japanese haunted house insanity)
WILD TALES (2014) - 9 (Amazing Argentinean anthology film)
ENTER THE DEVIL (1974) - 5 (Italian devil-possessed woman vs priest film)
SAW IV (2007) - 4 (rewatch)
DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING (1972) - 8 (rewatch)
NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS (1975) - 7(rewatch)
YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY (1972)- 8 (rewatch)
SAW V (2008) - 4
SAW VI (2009) - 5
SAW: THE FINAL CHAPTER (2010)- 5
IT (2017) - 8
LA VENGANZA DE LAS MUJERERS VAMPIRO (1970) - 6 (Santo vs vampire women and a mad scientist!)
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? (1972) - 8 (rewatch)
SEVEN DEATHS IN A CAT'S EYE (1973) -7 (rewatch)
STRANGE BEHAVIOR (1981) - 4 (flat and uninvolving)
EVIL LAUGH (1986) - 3 (rough low budget slasher)
NOTHING UNDERNEATH (1985) - 7 (pretty darned good giallo)
NIGHTBREED: DIRECTOR'S CUT (1990) - 7
Saturday, October 14, 2017
In an incredibly surprising announcement Quartet Records is releasing a CD with the scores of two Paul Naschy films! The big news is that at long last the score for Naschy's classic tale of mad terror HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB is one of them. The film's music was written by Spanish composer Carmelo Bernaola who also scored COUNT DRACULA'S GREAT LOVE, HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE and CUT-THROATS NINE. If you've never seen HRFTT it can be difficult to describe the sound of the music but perhaps calling it a Gothic/psychedelic mixture that uses organ, strings, piano and wooden percussion will almost prepare a new listener for the experience. But not really. And since the score is only about 30 minutes long, the CD also features the complete score for a Spanish TEN LITTLE INDIANS variation in which Naschy played a small role. That just adds value to the pacakge!!
I ordered my copy immediately and if you want one you should too. There are only going to be 300 copies! Follow one of the links below to secure yours -
Friday, October 13, 2017
I have not yet indulged in my annual viewing of HALLOWEEN III (1982) but I did enjoy this fellow's brief history of the film's progress from disappointing failure to eventually being seen as an impressive stand alone Halloween story.
If you have never seen the film I would stay away until you do, but for the rest of us this is a interesting look at a twisted classic.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Just in time for the creepy season John Hudson and I dive back into the films of Antonio Margheriti for a gothic horror that deserves to be better known. Set in a huge Scottish castle in which the ancestral family is both broke and (possibly) mad you just know that all kinds of shenanigans are going to be gotten up to! Adding to the complications are a mysterious black-gloved killer, a beautiful visiting cousin that is being pushed onto a handsome family member's...... member...uuuhhh...with an eye toward an heir, a gorgeous 'French' teacher that seems to lounge around the place waiting for sex, a family doctor with an eye to claiming some of the wealth tied up in the estate and an honest-to-God killer gorilla (called an orangutan throughout the film) running around the place occasionally scaring the hell out of people. Sounds like a couple of episodes of The Monkees, don't it?
Luckily, Margheriti knows what he's doing with all these bizarre elements so the film is entertaining and not confusing. Of course, with a black gloved killer roaming around the castle SEVEN DEATHS IN A CAT'S EYE has been called a giallo and we discuss my uncomfortable view of the film's place in the genre. We also talk about the variability of the 'Scottish' accents; the beautiful Jane Birkin; the castle locations; the use of the titular cat; the very odd vampire legend the film posits; the tricks of doing gothic tales in color and bloody straight razor murders. We also speculate about the contributions of legendary English language dubber Ted Rusoff beyond voicing the Priest character. Rusoff must have been important because he gets an onscreen credit at the beginning of the movie.
The show can be reached for comments or suggestions at email@example.com where we love hearing how many more ways we can insert pointless 1970's pop culture references into each episode. I'm not sure Hudson needs any help in this effort but all notes will be happily read. The Bloody Pit has a FaceBook page where interesting things occasionally get posted if you would like to join up. This episode ends with a new song from Queens of the Stone Age called 'Head Like A Haunted House' and an outtake that has us talking about The Village People. We are strange fellows!
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
I hadn't seen this one in years until today and really enjoyed my return visit. It's far from a great film but it's near perfect example of the typical late 50's low budget monster film. It's silly, padded and often just as wacky as it can be, but it holds together well enough with a slimy villain and a doddering old (thieving) mad scientist keeping the teen angst claptrap from clotting up the flow of fun. The film's most obvious padding is provided by Page Cavanaugh and His Trio who perform the song "Special Date" onscreen during the pool party sequence. In 2017 this section of the movie allows you to encounter the mild, rocking experience of early teen music near the beginning of the rock n' roll explosion. Get ready to snap those fingers!
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
If you've never seen this Poverty Row horror film here's your chance! It's a fun mad scientist story in which George Zucco transforms Glenn Strange into a a kind of werewolf. Tom Weaver described the film as "a combination of The Wolf Man and PRC's own The Devil Bat with Zucco subbing for Lugosi as the wacky doctor... one of those uniquely bad films that is difficult to dislike." That's about right.
Sunday, October 08, 2017
Saturday, October 07, 2017
Over the years I've become a fan of writer/director/special effects artist Bert I. Gordon's films. I was resistant for a very long time because whenever I stumbled across one on TV it always seemed cheap and lacking. Never well thought out or well produced, they exuded the feel of a production stretched beyond what could reasonably be accomplished with the meager means available. Whether it was a grasshopper crawling over a postcard cityscape (BEGINNING OF THE END) or supposedly giant monsters that somehow didn't cast shadows (virtually every movie he made), Gordon was always at least a few steps behind the special effects curve. And that was when he started producing movies in the 1950s! But I learned to love those pics for their odd charms and simple stories. They were not great films but they were earnest fun.
For the first seven or eight years of his film career Gordon kept pace with larger budgeted movies in the 'giant monster' genre because there were only so many ways to create the effects. But as he moved into color photography in the 1960s it became apparent that his skills were not advancing and sadly, neither were his stories. By the '70s he was still in the game but he was rarely getting films made. At the time he made THE FOOD OF THE GODS he had been making different kinds of movies for a while and must have seen this as a return to glories past. I guess in a way it was. His scripting is just as juvenile as in the '50s and the effects are just as cheaply cheesy. But even though I came to love the movies "Mr. BIG" made in his early years, this effort just doesn't work for me. I think it's because I'm willing to give the older films the leeway to slather on the cheese out of a sense of nostalgia for a time before I was born. For me, stilted, awkward dialog is somehow more believable when the actors drive Studebakers, smoke
Chesterfields and wear fedoras. The tin-ear
dialog that was always a part of Gordon's monster efforts becomes slightly
embarrassing when spouted by men who also curse. I can understand having a soft
spot for FOOD OF THE GODS if you saw it as a youngster, but as an
adult first-time viewer, it's just a silly hoot. I counted at least five great
laugh-out-loud moments of classic unintentional humor. Maybe I should count
that as a plus?
Morgan (Marjoe Gortner) is an NFL wide receiver who, with a couple of fellow players, goes off for a few days of rest before a big game. Traveling to an isolated Pacific coast island, they encounter a host of oversized wasps and one of their group is stung to death. In searching for help Morgan learns that a nearby farmer and his wife have discovered a gooey substance bubbling out of the ground that they've been feeding to their livestock. This "food of the gods" causes animals to grow to gigantic proportions and after a dangerous encounter with a big chicken Morgan leaves the island with his dead pal vowing to come back.
A few days later, Jack Bensington (Ralph Meeker) and his secretary Lorna (Pamela Franklin) come to the island to meet with farmer Skinner about the Food. But Skinner never made it home the night before, after a deadly run in with some giant rats. Bensington realizes that this Cream of Wheat-like stuff could be incredibly profitable and tries to secure the rights. Mrs. Skinner (Ida Lupino) is adamant that they wait for her husband to negotiate but when Morgan and a buddy return to the island with shotguns and explosives plans begin to alter. Warning a pregnant couple stranded by their broken-down Winnebago about the dangers on the island, the jocks proceed to the farm and set out to destroy the insects responsible for their friend's death. But after successfully burning the huge wasp nest the two men realize that the real problem they face is the growing hoard of hungry giant rats.
In a series of exciting scenes Morgan and his friend race around the island trying to find a clear path to the ferry dock but it soon becomes apparent they're cut off. The pregnant couple joins Bensington, Lorna and Mrs. Skinner in the farmhouse and attempt to barricade the place as the rats attack. From here on out it's all-out war with the giant rodents as the besieged humans are picked off one by one. With shotgun shells running low and few options, how will anyone survive?
Sounds great, doesn't it? Giant critters swarming all over the place trying to get a mouthful of juicy human flesh as screaming people attempt to shoot their way to safety. And, to give Bert I. Gordon his due, the movie does move very well. Once things start to happen after the destruction of the wasp nest the pace is very fast. It often felt as if he thought that if he kept moving the shoddy effects work would zip by quickly and be more easily accepted. Unfortunately that doesn't happen. The giant animal attacks are accomplished with a combination of partial mockups for the actors to push against and poorly done process shots laying the images of real creatures across the shots. In other words, the exact same process used in the 1950s. I knew we were in trouble when the first of these effects sequences involving the wasps was so bad that the flying insects looked like greenish magic marker squiggles. And once they landed on a victim the fake bug was obviously not moving, forcing the actor to shake it while pantomiming fear. It's actually kind of funny... albeit not a promising start for a horror film.
Friday, October 06, 2017
With the long awaited (?) sequel to BLADE RUNNER (1982) now in theaters maybe it's time to revisit the PKD novel it was very (very) loosely adapted from. If you've never read the book it is well worth your time and this is pretty good way yo check out the original story.
Wednesday, October 04, 2017
Rewatched this tonight and it really holds up! The smart, clever script combined with assured direction, an excellent cast, wonderful music and stellar cinematography make this a winner - a classic even. Thumbs up to the Scream Factory Blu-Ray!