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Once again we travel back to 1940 to check in on the horror film output of Universal Studio! This time we have a literary adaptation of Nathanial Hawthorne's classic novel THE HOUSE OF SEVEN GABLES. Filmed both before and since it's as straightforward an example of a melodrama filled with familial guilt and resentment played out against a background of possible supernatural components. Did someone say Gothic Romance? Well - I did, even if this might not be exactly what some think of when imagining that specific type of creepy tale. I make the argument that this film may have been the template for a few dozen similar tales over the decades with Troy pointing out the Dan Curtis connection as well. This movie casts a long, dark shadow indeed!

We dig deeply into the film, happy that we get to talk about Vincent Price one more time before he exits Universal. The rest of the cast is even more impressive with George Sanders playing his standard cad character with arch skill. But it's the amazing Margret Lindsey as Hepzibah that takes top acting honors bringing real longing and nuanced emotion to the most difficult role in the story. We get return visits from Alan Napier, Cecil Kellaway and Nan Grey with singing cowboy Dick Foran making his debut in a Universal Horror film. As the discussion continues we talk about the changes and additions to the original story with special attention paid to future victim of the Black List, screenwriter Lester Cole and the visual choices made by director Joe May. This is a beautiful movie with much of interest to classic horror fans and romantic drama aficionados too.

If you have any comments or questions please write to us at thebloodypit@gmail.com and let us know what's on your mind. Thank you for downloading and listening!

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Antonio Margheriti directed several westerns over his very long career. VENGEANCE (1968) was his second effort in the genre after 1967's DYNAMITE JOE and the evidence here shows he was very comfortable in the field. Margheriti also takes a full writers credit on this one meaning that he had a strong hand in shaping the story instead of just being a director for hire. Perhaps this means we can see what 'Mr. Dawson' was thinking in the late 1960's about westerns and the specific Italian slant on them when looking at this early in the cycle example. What are the necessary elements that need to be included?

 

Attention grabbing opening scene? Check.

Clint Eastwood-style loner? Check.

Revenge plot fueling the action? Check.

Intricate crime with backstabbing and betrayal? Check.

Gorgeous female character with little to do? Check.

Charismatic bad guy with odd affectations? Check.

As much violence as the times will allow? Check.

 

Seems like he had everything in place. But did he craft a good movie? Join John Hudson and I as we go through this well produced film starring Richard Harrison and a host of excellent European actors including Margheriti regular Luciano Pigozzi. (Was there an actor who appeared in more of his movies?) I complain about the plain nature of Harrison's name while Hudson laments the missed opportunity for a cameo by the Invisible Chimp. We talk about the Savina score, the title song, the joys of catching smaller onscreen details and pointing out where the film could/should have been shortened. We also take a few unexpected side roads with the lengthy DAWN OF THE DEAD conversation being pretty ridiculous even if it did relate to the 'less is more' concept.

 

Near the end we discuss an email sent in by a listener and if you'd like to comment on the show the address is thebloodypit@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you! Thank you for downloading and listening to us babble. We'll be back soon with more.

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This month Troy and I return to our new series focused on the Universal Horror films of the 1940's. In fact, we leap to April 12th of 1940 for the release of the second such feature of the decade, BLACK FRIDAY. We were reticent to cover this one as neither of us had great memories of it even though it stars two of our favorite horror actors. This has always seemed the weakest of the Karloff and Lugosi pairings at Universal so talking about a low point for them felt like a bad idea. But, in the end, the chance to finally talk about those two screen greats was too enticing for us to pass up so we dove in to see what we would find on a return visit to the University of Newcastle.

We discuss the genesis of the script and it's original title including some information about writer Curt Siodmak's reuse of this story's central brain swapping premise. (Gotta cover Donovan's Brain someday!) Director Arthur Lubin's career gets some love with the tale of his history with Lugosi playing a part in how he handled the film. Karloff's incredible wardrobe is a constant topic of wonder as I ponder how much of the production's meager budget was spent keeping him looking so cool. And, obviously, the subject of the last minute casting change is discussed with reference to both Greg Mank's book 'Karloff & Lugosi: The Story of a Haunting Collaboration' and 'Universal Horrors: The Studio's Classic Films 1931-1946' by Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas and John Brunas. We are indebted to those fine books for our understanding of the production and it's background.

Near the end of the show we get to read out an email sent in by a listener with some comments and questions. If you want to do the same please write us at thebloodypit@gmail.com where we'll try to get back to you quickly. We love getting show ideas from people that enjoy what we're doing since it usually points us into areas we haven't considered for years. This episode closes with a pretty obvious song choice but it's Lugosi that has the last word. Thanks for downloading and listening!

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SEX & FURY (1973) is more properly known as 'Story of Delinquent Female Boss: Ocho' and is a prime example of the Pinky Violence genre. Although Troy and I are both curious about this strange Japanese variation on the revenge film we have had very little exposure to it. Luckily our occasional podcasting buddy Jason chose this fine period action tale to cover giving us the opportunity to dig into one of the best of the type. I guess you could say we came for the naked swordfight and stayed for the compelling story of intertwining vengeance plots.

The film stars two of the most recognizable female leads of violent cinema circa the early 1970's. The first is Japanese actress Reiko Ike as the titular Ocho. As the movie begins in 1905 she is a woman seeking three people responsible for the murder of her father decades before. She is getting closer and now knows that each one has an identifiable animal tattoo that will point her to the guilty parties. Adding to the complexities is American gambler and spy Christina (played by Swedish beauty Christina Lindberg) who is being forced by her military controller to push Japan into a second Opium War. But Christina is conflicted because her actions might cause her Japanese lover to be caught and killed in his quest to assassinate a nasty politician. Confused yet? Wait until you hear us take a dozen sidetracks as we go through this one!

The show can be found at The Bloody Pit of Rod or on iTunes or Stitcher. If you have any comments the show's email address is thebloodypit@gmail.com and we'd love to hear what you have to say. Thank you for downloading and listening!  

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The cinema of Brazilian filmmaker José Mojica Marins is under seen and underappreciated in the English speaking world. Although his astonishing movies have been available in subtitled form since the 1990's the general public has almost no idea of his existence and even knowledgeable cult movie fans are often unaware of the groundbreaking work Marins created in the 1960's. At the same time that Hershel Gordon Lewis was pushing bright red gore onto drive-in screens for shock value Marins was making deeply thoughtful and transgressive films that pushed against the artistic restrictions his country imposed on creative people. To this day his crude, vicious vision of the world as a place in need of a more honest way of living life can be a difficult thing to behold. From the mouth of his most mesmerizing character Zé do Caixão (known in the English speaking world as Coffin Joe) came the darkest vision of humanity he could dream up. With Joe he was able to give voice to the worst impulses of man to act as either a sinister harbinger of the future or the starkest example of what good people must guard against. Each viewer must decide for themselves what parts of Joe's twisted moral sense are the most contemptible. Maybe that's how we define ourselves - who do we most want to not be.

 To dig into the first of Marin's incredible horror films I'm joined by fellow podcaster Cort Psyops. His show Cinema Psyops has often allowed Cort and his co-host to delve into the deeper aspects of the dark end of the genre. Even if the reason for the harshest effects of a disturbing film resides in the simple act of watching it at far too young an age, they examine the what that means on a personal level. In this show he and I try to sift through our reactions to AT MIDNIGHT I'LL TAKE YOUR SOUL and attempt to come to terms with what it means for each of us. But, on a more interesting track, we also burrow into the philosophical questions that Marins seems to have been asking with his story. If horror films are able to cloak intellectual curiosity in a grotesque form then this film is a fine example of that concept as it hides its subversive ideas behind shocking images. There is much food for thought here and Cort and I bat around lots of ideas as we debate the merits and defects of Coffin Joe's dark world view. We really get into the weeds on this one and I think it's a great conversation. We hope you think so as well. 

 

The show can be reached at thebloodypit@gmail.com if you have any comments. Feel free to write or send along an MP3 of your thoughts when Cort and I cover the second in this amazing trilogy. Thank you for listening.

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With this episode Troy and I start a new thread of shows focused on an unjustly neglected area of classic horror - the Universal Horror films of the 1940's. Not that there hasn't been attention paid to some of the movies of this period but, beyond the respect given to THE WOLF MAN (1941), there is a general distain for these later entries in the cycle. We're not sure we can rectify this injustice but we do plan to shine a light on the (admittedly) lesser 40's output with hopes of elevating their reputations a bit. Surely even the least charitable fans recognize how the various Mummy and Frankenstein sequels add some bizarre ideas to the Universal Monster Universe that make the entire sequence richer. Right?

We start with the first Invisible Man sequel THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS (1940) which gives us the chance to talk about the very young Vincent Price. Of course, he's invisible for most of the movie but the rest of the cast is more than capable of holding your attention. The film sports some high quality special effects and some foggy, creepy atmosphere so, regardless of the fact that the story is more of a murder mystery than a horror film, it feels like a proper continuation. Under discussion is the difficult attitude of the director, the consistently excellent score, the haunting beauty of Nan Grey and the odd sound of Vincent Price's voice. We are able to stay almost completely on the main subject and both of us manage to keep all our clothes on which means we avoided going mad - unlike some people we could name! (Anybody got a hit of monocane? I got the cash! Really!!)

At the end of the episode we read out a few emails we've received prompting some off topic discussion. It's always good to know there are folks out there enjoying what we're doing. If you have any comments, the show can be reached at thebloodypit@gmail.com and we'll be thrilled to hear from you. We end things with a feisty little punk song and Vincent ranting us out the door! Thanks for listening.

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What do you get when you combine Mario Bava, Tudor Gates, the Woolner Brothers and Antonio Margheriti? You get NAKED...YOU DIE! This is a project that started out as a Woolner production to be directed by Bava but ended up eventually being made by Margheriti. According to Tim Lucas the Gates script remained intact but he faults the film for not being as well crafted a film as Bava would have directed. He may have a point but the joys of this film shine through regardless of any possible 'what ifs'.

John Hudson joins me again to dig into this Margheriti thriller - or is it a giallo? There certainly are black gloves and a number of beautiful young ladies meet an early death. There is a semi-effective police investigation and an ersatz Nancy Drew sneaking around trying to solve the murders taking place on the gorgeous, sun dappled campus of an all girl's college. There are half a dozen possible killers with a multitude of potential motives. There are secretive sexual liaisons, hidden homosexual relationships, leering criminal habits, odd exercise regimens and even some strange vanities that point toward likely guilt. So, the film has a number of the classic elements that would make this a giallo, I guess. But which of these clues are more than simply suspicious and which ones will lead to the serial murderer in the school? If you've ever watched an Italian mystery you know that just following the breadcrumbs might not get you anywhere but this one plays fair. Mostly.

Mr. Hudson and I lounge poolside with the young girls of St. Hilda's College, skulk around the Bughouse with Professor Andre, shake our fingers at the local Peeping Tom and fall in love with the wonderful character of Jill as she uses her new walkie-talkies to put herself in danger - or try to solve the crimes. Michael Rennie may be the cop in charge but it's Jill that eavesdrops her way into our hearts! We do take a couple of short unrelated side roads during this episode and I do apologize for the derision I heap on Marky Mark. I promise not to do that again! If you have any comments about the show or suggestions for future Margheriti films to cover we can be reached at thebloodypit@gmail.com or on the Facebook page. Thank you very much for listening to the show! And don't stand so close to me.

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Randy Fox returns to the podcast and we resume our discussion of the science fiction films of the 1970's. It's been over a year since the two of us sat down for a long talk about the incredible SF movies made before STAR WARS warped the genre out of shape but it felt like it was just last week. One reason for that is our topic in this episode is an under sung classic that appeals to the more mature in the audience than to the under twenty set. As people who first encountered ROLLERBALL as kids we can attest that our younger selves enjoyed the action set-pieces but that many of the more adult concepts flew over our heads. But watching this film in middle age certainly brings home just how profound and thoughtful it is. The best science fiction often holds up a dark mirror to our lives and asks question about the human condition that resonate because of their timelessness. The bloody violence on display has much to say about who we are in the real 2018 as it does about the movie's fiction 21st century.

Our discussion of the film touches on the career of director Norman Jewison and the script's fidelity to the source material. Credit has to go to Jewison for bringing in the original short story author William Harrison to craft the screenplay. We talk about the actors' performances with attention paid to lead James Caan's ability to convey the depths of a man without the words to express himself clearly. We dig into the future society of the movie and how it's structure resembles other literary dystopian visions from Brave New World, 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 while marveling at the detailed game system set up to make Rollerball a sport that feels realistic. Plus, any film with Ralph Richardson complaining that the planet's computer system has misplaced the whole history of the 13th century is worth seeing!

Join us for this return to smart science fiction where ideas are presented in intelligent ways even as heads get busted and people are set on fire! Send any comments or suggestions to thebloodypit@gmail.com where we'll be happy to learn your thoughts on the SF films made before Star Wars. Thank you for downloading and listening.

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DALEKS INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D. is the second and, sadly, last of the feature films made with Doctor Who as the central character. Or, at least, the ostensible central character. As you might have noticed, The Doctor isn't even mentioned in the title of this science fiction tale. In fact, that is one of the odder things about this movie - there is very little Doctor Who! Why? Well, there are several reasons but with the great Peter Cushing in the role it's a crying shame that his screen time is so limited. Not so with the titular Daleks as they glide around enslaving humanity and digging deadly mineshafts with a plan to do something to the planet's core that I'm still trying to completely understand. Regardless, they are ruthless murdering metal monsters and they must be stopped even if their spaceship is the coolest thing ever!

Stephen D. Sullivan joins me again to take a look at this classic little British export. We examine how closely it hews to the original television version of the story as well as compare how it stands next to the first of these cinematic Who tales. There is some disagreement about which of the two films is better so we dig into the differing tastes that elevate one over the other. We talk about the illnesses and accidents that marred the production, the strange product placement visible in the dystopian future and the sequences we feel the movie would be better without. We even get to talk a little about the fine character actors that started their Doctor Who association with this film. I've done my best to excise the worst digressions but, for the curious, there is a lengthy off-topic conversation appended to the end of the show in which we discuss Batman. We are geeky, after all!

The show can be reached at thebloodypit@gmail.com for any comments or criticisms. Thank you for downloading and listening.

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December brings our annual Holiday Horrors episode! This year my two co-hosts have chosen a tale told twice and adapted from a 1953 comic book story by the legendary Johnny Craig. The story is about a murderous wife who decides to off her husband on Christmas Eve but then has to deal with an escaped axe welding killer dressed in a Santa Claus costume. The best laid plans of mice and murderers often go awry and this short story shows us a fine example. 'And All Through the House' was first filmed as part of the Amicus anthology movie directed by Freddie Francis in 1972. This may or may not have been the first instance in cinema of a killer Santa but it certainly struck home for viewers as it is the story that most people recall with great clarity even years after a viewing. Creepy, chilling and sinister in tone it is a difficult effort to beat.

In 1989 director Robert Zemeckis retold the tale as one of the first episodes of HBO's wildly successful series Tales From The Crypt. Adapted by Fred Dekker and lengthened out to fill a half hour time slot this version throws in a few extra curves, amps up the dark humor and broadens the performances for a more comic effect. The results are still pretty darned good but - as with any remake - the debates will never rest. Listen in as Troy Guinn, John Hudson and I discuss all three tellings of this Holiday Horror. We break down the differences and consider the qualities that each film brings to the table. We dig into the alterations, the motivations and the relative skill each version imparts to the main character as well as the portrayal of the nearly silent killer Kringle.

As is usual for the three of us, we get off-track a few times with my show opening gambit of asking about favorite childhood Christmas toys pushing the conversation into odd territory. Who knew a show about an EC Comics Christmas tale would reference The Six Million Dollar Man so frequently? If you want to tell us about your favorite youthful Christmas gift the email address is thebloodypit@gmail.com where we'll be happy to hear what you miss from years gone bye. You can also join us on the Bloody Pit FaceBook page where new links of interest get posted. Thank you for downloading and listening to the show and have a safe and happy Holiday season.

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