Continue to slowly scan and clean up the pages of my old fanzine REEL WILD CINEMA!, with a view to compiling them into a print-on-demand anthology sometime this year. Also throwing together some potential cover designs...
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Sad to hear that the man who gave us the immortal line "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb" - writer Lorenzo Semple, Jr. - has passed away at the age of 91.
Apart from being a driving force in the creation and tone of the classic 1960s BATMAN television series (and its 1966 off-shoot feature in which the above line was featured), Semple also wrote the screenplays for THE PARALLAX VIEW (1974), THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (1975), Dino's KING KONG remake of 1976, FLASH GORDON (1980), the renegade 007 flick NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1983) and - at the lower end of the scale - the 1986 missfire spy pastiche NEVER TOO YOUNG TO DIE starring John Stamos, Vanity, George Lazenby and Gene Simmons from KISS as
the ugliest looking evil hermaphrodite in cinema history!
But apart from his work on BATMAN, what I'll remember Semple most for is his screenplay for PRETTY POISON, a stunning and criminally underrated psychological thriller from 1968, starring Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld in a performance that's almost as chilling, subtle and disturbing as what Perkins' was in PSYCHO eight years earlier. If you can find it, watch it.
The world of classic exploitation cinema has lost one of its true giants, with the passing of prolific producer/director Harry Novak at the age of 86. Many people may not know the name Harry Novak, but if you visited the drive-in and grindhouse/flea-pit cinemas during the 1960s and early-70s, you have probably been exposed to plenty of his films. Some of his incredibly long list of credits as either producer or distributor (sometimes both) include the nudie-monster classic KISS ME QUICK (1964), the LSD psycho-sexual shocker MANTIS IN LACE (1968), Ron Garcia’s demented softcore sex fantasy THE TOY BOX (1971), the gritty low-budget crime drama A SCREAM IN THE STREETS (1972), and the uber-psychotronic 1973 Danish flick THE SINFUL DWARF.
Not to mention William Rotsler’s SUBURBAN PAGANS, THE SECRET SEX LIVES OF ROMEO & JULIET, COUNTRY CUZZINS, PLEASE DON’T EAT MY MOTHER, WILBUR AND THE BABY FACTORY, MIDNIGHT PLOWBOY, TOYS ARE NOT FOR CHILDREN, THE PIG KEEPER’S DAUGHTER, AXE, THE BLACK ALLEY CATS and the list goes on and on. Distributed under his Box-Office International banner, most of Novak's titles were released on VHS in the 1990s, and later on DVD, by Something Weird Video.
Australia also got a decent education in Harry Novak in the early days of home video in this country, with some of the great local labels of the early-80s (including Star Base and K&C) digging out scratchy old prints of Novak titles like HITCH HIKE TO HELL, KIDNAPPED COED, MANTIS IN LACE and WHAM BAM THANK YOU SPACEMAN, and sending them out to an appalled but hungry suburban family audience.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
A few pics I took at the mostly enjoyable Rob Zombie/Sheri Moon Zombie talk/Q&A following the screening of The Devil's Rejects (2005) at a jam-packed Astor Theatre in Windsor last Thursday evening. Marred only by the usual embarrassing questions thrown at the guests from the crowd...
I love that there was a Gold Key comic book adaptation of Roger Corman's X - The Man With the X-Ray Eyes (though the actual on-screen title simply calls it 'X'). I re-watched this pulpy, sometimes lurid 1963 sci-fi gem yesterday and forgot there was so much to like about it: Ray Milland's great performance as the dedicated Dr. Xavier (obsessed with increasing the range and depth of human vision), Les Baxter's score (reissued on CD), the impressive (for their time) visual effects used to illustrate Xavier's POV, the scenes where Xavier is on the lam and hides out as a fortune teller in a skid-row carnival (where Don Rickels plays his manager/spruiker!), the swingin' medical party where doctors use syringes to make cocktails and Xavier sees everybody go-go dancing naked, the trip to Vegas to swindle the tables, and of course the potent ending in the desert revival tent meeting - "If thine eyes offend thee, tear them out". Probably my favourite Corman film from one of his most creative and fertile periods as a filmmaker.
The fantastic cover art for the comic book was done by George Wilson, who did seemingly hundreds of Gold Key covers, as well as lots of paperback and pulps. I loved that many of the Gold Key covers looked more like pulp/paperback art than comic books, and Gold Key did some strange but terrific choices for movie adaptations (The Naked Prey is one of my favourites, and they adapted many of the Corman Poe films from that period as well).
The first issue of Tim Paxton’s reborn Monster! zine arrived last week, and is a fine read for all monster movie lovers (and curious cats) everywhere! Amongst other gruesome goodies, this issue covers such great vintage fare as Horror Express, Blue Demon Vs. The Infernal Brains, Terror from the Year 5,000, and the atmospheric and highly-underrated The Beast With a 1,000,000 Eyes. The second issue of Monster! has also just been published, featuring my reviews of John Frankenheimer’s Prophecy (1979) and the 1984 Australian outback horror flick Razorback.