Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What I Sang 7-30

"Eight Miles High" by The Byrds (inspired by Adam's recent tribute to Angar the Screamer--trippy, man!)
"Only Time Will Tell" by Asia.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Castle of the Creeping Flesh

CASTLE OF THE CREEPING FLESH (1968). Directed by Adrian Hoven. Starring Howard Vernon, Janine Reynaud, and Michel Lemoine.

(Very truncated review this time around...) Sometimes, I don't know what I'm letting myself in for when I rent one of these obscurities. When I started viewing Castle of the Creeping Flesh, it seemed like it was going to be a fun, cheesy bit of gothic ghoulishness, as a group of wealthy, bored aristocrats decide on a lark to go horseback riding in the woods near a foreboding, ancient castle. The fun ended with the first rape scene, which the film treats as merely a minor transgression (as one of the protagonists forces himself on his fiancee's sister, then blames her for tempting him). The movie gets even more repellent from there, both in its attitude towards its female characters and in its graphic content (incorporating actual open-heart surgery footage into its otherwise-standard laboratory scenes). As the movie went on, I realized "I can't write about this"...all I'll say is that William Shakespeare was surely spinning in his grave over the appropriation of a King Lear soliloquy to narrate perhaps the movie's most exploitive scene.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Howard Vernon, playing the sinister Earl of the sinister castle, does his best with the material, making the bereaved nobleman surprisingly sympathetic in spite of his desperate acts. Janine Reynaud (who, like Vernon, is probably best known for her collaborations with the prolific, controversial Spanish director Jess Franco) makes effective use of her icy beauty, but has no character to work with. The most memorable performance, however, is Vladimir Medar (or, at least, the actor responsible for his English dubbing) as the Earl's crude, robust, and LOUD manservant. I have a feeling that his pronunciation of "labyrinth" will be ringing in my ears for a long time...


Sunday, July 27, 2008


Running one more weekend at Dad's Garage:

For everyone who's ever had a nightmare of an office job.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

What I Sang 7-23

From last night:

"Summer in the City" by The Lovin' Spoonful.
"Does Your Mother Know" by ABBA.
"Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" by Ian Dury & the Blockheads.
"One Night in Bangkok" by Murray Head.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Ator, the Fighting Eagle

ATOR, THE FIGHTING EAGLE (1982). Directed by Joe D'Amato. Starring Miles O'Keeffe, Sabrina Siani, and Edmund Purdom.

Sorry, I'm pressed for time right now, so this review will be even more perfunctory than usual...
Remember the MST3K episode "Cave Dwellers," starring Miles O'Keeffe as the mighty warrior Ator? Remember that convoluted, expository backstory of Ator's previous adventures? ("Tolkein couldn't follow this story!") Well, that infodump consisted of footage from this, the first movie in the series...and now that I've seen the whole thing, I can tell you it wasn't any easier to follow in its expanded form.
The most interesting element of Ator, the Fighting Eagle occurs at the very beginning, as a stentorian narrator informs us of this medieval world's domination of the Spider God, and the prophesied coming of the great hero Torin...then, the narrator pulls the rug out from under us by informing us that Torin failed. Guess it wasn't such a great prophecy after all. (Many movies have a twist ending, but this is one of the few with a twist beginning.) However, the narrator continues by explaining that Torin "cast his seed upon the wind" (ewww!), resulting in a son, Ator. Hopefully things will work out better this time.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
It's hard to fault Miles O'Keeffe for the Ator this point in his career, he wasn't expected to be any more that a handsome slab of beefcake, and he fills the role with suitable charisma. (It wasn't until later that he was called upon to display any actual talent.) Sexploitation queen Laura Gemser (the Indonesia-born star of director D'Amato's notorious Black Emanuelle series) makes a brief appearance as a seductive sorceress (well, seductive until her true appearance is revealed)...somehow, I can imagine Gemser being more embarrassed by this movie than by all her more explicit work. However, the true embarrassment falls upon Edmund Purdom, a gifted British actor whose film career began promisingly with roles in such major pictures as Joseph Mankiewicz's Julius Caesar, but eventually drifted into Italian potboilers. In most of his B-movies, no matter how cheap, Purdom did his best to lend the pictures some dignity and gravitas...but he makes no such effort here, simply going through the motions as Ator's mentor, whose sinister side is so obvious that his eventual betrayal carries no dramatic weight. Purdom simply glowers behind his enormous Fu Manchu mustache, as if hoping that he won't be recognized.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

What I Sang 7-16

Last night's offerings:

"Sukiyaki" by Kyu Sakamoto (I don't speak Japanese, but I sang it from a combination of memory and phonetics).
"Come and Get It" by Badfinger.
"The Last Farewell" by Roger Whittaker.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Shack Out on 101

SHACK OUT ON 101 (1955). Directed by Edward Dein. Starring Terry Moore, Lee Marvin, and Frank Lovejoy.

In a cheap roadside diner, tempers flare between the long-suffering owner George (Keenan Wynn), his moody short-order cook "Slob" (Lee Marvin), and Kotty (Terry Moore), the waitress studying for a civil-service exam in hopes of leaving this sordid world behind. The movie begins as a character study of these bickering small-timers, as if director/co-writer Edward Dein were trying to make another Marty or Come Back, Little Sheba. However, the movie veers off wildly with the introduction of Kotty's boyfriend Sam (Frank Lovejoy), a nuclear physicist at a nearby laboratory, and the revelation that Slob is involved in a spy ring after his secrets. And yet, Dein never fully embraces the cold-war thriller aspect of the movie, continually going onto odd tangents such as Slob's habit of losing his wristwatch in the food, a discussion on bodybuilding between George and Slob, or George's planned scuba-diving trip with an old army buddy (Whit Bissell). As a result, the film is a strangely compelling patchwork quilt, filled with individual scenes that are entertaining in themselves, yet never seem to belong in the same story.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Shack Out on 101 benefits immensely from its charismatic cast, with Lee Marvin dominating the film with his distinctive combination of menace and humor. Apart from the major players, the cast is also filled with familiar faces in small parts, including Frank DeKova (of F-Troop and the MST3K fodder Teenage Caveman) as a drunken-exposition-spouting colleague of Sam's, and Len Lesser ("Uncle Leo" from Seinfeld) as one of Slob's contacts.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Yor's World, He's the Man!

As mentioned in the last VHS Vednesday review:

Now TRY to get that out of your head!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

What I Sang 7-9

From last night at Midtown Tavern:

"Happy Birthday" by Altered Images (for Bobby B.'s birthday bash).
"America" by Simon & Garfunkel.
"Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick" by Ian Dury & the Blockheads.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Yor, the Hunter from the Future

YOR, THE HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE (1983). Directed by Antonio Margheriti. Starring Reb Brown, Corinne Clery, and Luciano Pigozzi.

It feels like cheating to cover such a legendary bad movie that has already been reviewed all over the web, but I just watched this one the other day and I don't have time to find another one.
Yor, the Hunter from the Future opens with the titular hunter (Reb Brown, of the 1970s Captain America movies and the MST3K classic Space Mutiny) bounding across the barren prehistoric landscape with a vapid, carefree grin on his face, as a memorable (if near-incomprehensible) pseudo-Queen rock anthem blares his praises: "Yor's world, he's the man!" This theme will reoccur several times throughout the movie, whenever Yor accomplishes some amazing feat...or even when he fails to do so, as in one scene where he is rescued by his grizzled sidekick Pag (Luciano Pigozzi). That's got to be galling for Pag...his big moment in the spotlight, and the soundtrack insists on ignoring him to once more declare Yor "the man."
After the opening scene, Yor (who somehow manages to maintain his lustrous blond locks in a world without conditioner) comes to the rescue of the equally gorgeous and well-groomed cavegirl Ka-Laa (Corinne Clery) and her more realistically grubby father figure, the aforementioned Pag, as they are menaced by a triceratops. After slaughtering the dinosaur and drinking its blood (in an inappropriately cheery manner), Yor meets the rest of Ka-Laa and Pag's tribe...who are shortly thereafter attacked by a band of ape-men. Once again, it's Yor to the rescue!
MST3K fans...remember the scene in Cave Dwellers where Ator (Miles O'Keefe) invents the hang-glider? Well, Yor does him one better...he invents hang-gliding by killing a giant bat and using it as his craft!
After a number of episodic primitive adventures, the movie takes a sharp left turn when Yor and his merry band are attacked yet again...but this time by spaceships! Yes, this isn't a prehistoric world, but a post-apocalyptic one (thus explaining the title). Yor and Ka-Laa are abducted by the sinister Overlord (gaunt, angular John Steiner, hamming it up to beat the band), who intends to use them as "perfect genetic specimens" to create a new race who will obey him without question. Like that trick ever works...
To make a long story short (which, coincidentally, is exactly what the US distributor did by editing a four-part Italian TV serial into this mishmosh), Yor, Ka-Laa, and Pag escape safely, and the Overlord is destroyed (as if there was any doubt). As our heroes fly off into the sunset in their shiny new aircraft, a previously-unheard narrator attempts to wrap it all up by announcing Yor's new destiny to bring the world back to a civilized lesson. Valiantly trying to set up a sequel, he gravely intones "Will he succeed?" Well,'s Yor's world, and he's the man!
Yor, the Hunter from the Future was just one of a flood of sword-and-sorcery movies streaming out of Europe in the 1980s...possibly sparked off by the success of Conan the Barbarian (though I hesitate to give any one movie the credit for such a widespread movement). These '80s epics usually fell into two categories...those that tried to outdo Milius' picture in terms of graphic violence and nudity (such as Lucio Fulci's gruesome Conquest), and those that harkened back to the more carefree, family-friendly Hercules movies of the 1960s (such as, well...Luigi Cozzi's Hercules). Yor falls squarely in the "innocent fun" camp.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
As a fan of Italian B-movies, I was delighted to see the omnipresent Luciano Pigozzi (usually credited as "Alan Collins" for American distribution) getting a sizeable role as Pag...and for once playing a sympathetic character, to boot! (Pigozzi has sometimes been dubbed "the Italian Peter Lorre," both for the physical resemblance and for his typecasting in sinister roles.) What's more, Pigozzi actually makes it through a movie alive for once (though there is a close call where it looks like he's going to go the "heroic sacrifice to buy time for the others' escape" route). Now that's really a change for him...


Friday, July 04, 2008

Turn the Sky Into a Birthday Cake

I know I ran this last year, but hey, Schoolhouse Rock is worth repeating.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Conflict of Interest

CONFLICT OF INTEREST (1993). Directed by Gary Davis. Starring Christopher McDonald, Judd Nelson, and Alyssa Milano.

When an unsuccessful hit attempt on police detective Mickey Flannery (Christopher McDonald, fresh from his acclaimed supporting role in Thelma & Louise and enjoying a rare leading-man turn) results in the death of his wife, Flannery guns down the surrendering hitman and is stripped of his badge. Years later, Flannery is reinstated, and now must perform a balancing act between readjusting to the job and reconciling with his bitter teenaged son Jason (Gregory Alan Harris). Flannery's professional and personal lives are further entangled when Jason falls in with the murderous chop-shop ringleader Gideon (Judd Nelson, sporting history's most laughable muttonchops), the very target of Flannery's investigations. As if things weren't bad enough, Gideon soon decides to further complicate matters by framing Jason in a series of murders. Being a movie cop (as opposed to a real one), Flannery won't let the titular conflict of interest stop him from getting to the truth of the matter.

Cliche-ridden from start to finish, Conflict of Interest is quite possibly the perfect generic cop could imagine it being taken from the filmographies of Rainier Wolfcastle or Troy McClure on The Simpsons. As such, it's difficult to praise or's simply there.

Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?

Although given second billing, Alyssa Milano (playing Jason's love interest--presented as a nice, sweet girl despite her involvement in Gideon's outfit) has remarkably little screen time, and even less to do when she does appear. Which probably suited her fine, considering the material.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Refresh My Memory #3

Here's another half-remembered horror tale from my youth:

A bad guy is holding a young boy hostage. (I can't remember whether he was a kidnapper, or a burglar who had broken into the house and found the boy alone.) I really can't recall anything of the set-up of the story, but I remember the ending vividly. The bad guy put a knife up to the boy's throat, as the clock struck twelve. Cut to an exterior shot of the house, with a scream coming from inside. Then we see the boy's parents arriving and reacting in the sight of their son, safe and sound in his lupine form, blood dripping from his mouth, in the middle of a bloody mess that they'll have to clean up. The boy apologetically says "Sorry, mommy, but you know how hungry I get at midnight." And as if that wasn't enough of a twist ending, there's an additional kicker: The parents have tiny little bat-wings sticking out of their backs, and the father says to the upset mother: "Now, dear, you know he can't help it that he's a werewolf and not a vampire like us!"

I'm pretty sure that I saw this story in one of Marvel's '70s horror-reprint books (like Chamber of Chills or Weird Wonder Tales), rather than a Warren magazine. Does this ring any bells for anyone out there?

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