Feed on
Posts

Mark Maddox returns to discuss another Hammer film!

Things became very different for vampire films in the 1970’s. Topics that used to be ignored or, at most, alluded to were suddenly able to be placed front and center in the narrative. No longer did a blood sucker’s victim have to merely cower in fear. Now they could react with lust or the real desire for the monster to put the bite on their necks to show the attraction these creatures might generate as part of their appeal. The sexual side of vampires could become a central part of the story allowing the carnal needs of both monster and victim to be explored. TWINS OF EVIL (1971) takes a pair of identical looking young girls on the cusp of becoming women and shows us two different reactions to a vampire’s sex appeal. The film clearly has a point of view but it is possible to read some darker ideas in the story as well.

We start by discussing the loose Karnstien trilogy that TWINS OF EVIL (1971) concludes. Then we move into a broad talk about the tone of Hammer films’ output during the 1970’s and how the studio became more of a place for independent productions guided by the old guard than a production house. This approach created a less controlled but very interesting run of movies that allowed for experimentation in both style and story as the public’s attention wandered away from the classic gothic horror model Hammer had epitomize since 1957. So even if new settings were not to too quickly embraced, fresh elements could be folded into the tales. This meant more adult themes, more overt violence and as much nudity as they could get away with! We talk about how this film also manages to put religious hypocrisy front and center and embodies it in one of Hammer’s most iconic actors, Peter Cushing. I argue in the show that this is one of Cushing’s best performances for the studio because the script gives him an arc to play unlike his usual villain or hero roles.

If you have any comments about the show please write us at thebloodypit@gmail.com to let us know what is on your mind. Is this your favorite of the Karnstien films? Thank you for listening and we’ll be back soon.

Mad science is a strange field of endeavor. It seems that there are few barriers to becoming a practitioner with the one real requirement being a narcissistic belief that the world needs to be changed and that YOU are the person to change it! For these types of roles Lionel Atwill was usually the perfect choice and this episode’s film has his second onscreen shot at being the baddest, maddest doctor (or, actually, a chemist) he can possibly be. It is fun to watch Atwill squeeze every bit of evil out of the script and he is easily the best thing about the movie.

Troy and I discuss THE MAD DOCTOR OF MARKET STREET (1942) and ask the most obvious question first – Why does this movie mostly take place on a Pacific island? That title is an example of blatant false advertising! This bizarre tale of mad science in the South Seas does begin in San Francisco on Market Street but quickly shifts to a doomed cruise ship and then, after some footage from another movie, to an island inhabited by the usual Hollywood-style native stereotypes. These easily fooled islanders are soon convinced by the Mad Scientist (Atwill) that he is a god capable of resurrecting the dead. You don’t have to be a genius to know that this is not going to work out well long term. The silly portrayal of these natives is only partially redeemed by the chief being played by the great Noble Johnson who manages to inject some dignity into the proceedings. And top billed Una Merkle is a real joy as the flighty Aunt Margaret who is on her way to marry a wealthy man in New Zealand. Past those elements your mileage may vary.

If you have any comments or questions our email address is thebloodypit@gmail.com or we can be reached on the show’s FaceBook page. We’d be thrilled to hear from you. Thanks for listening to this episode!

The film under discussion in this episode is a silent movie and a comedy meaning that it represents two cinema topics that this show rarely touches on. In fact, this is the very first time that we’ve ever covered either of those types of movies on The Bloody Pit so, it’s long overdue!

Usually when John Hudson guests on the show we discuss Antonio Margheriti films but after years of this we thought it would be a good idea to switch things up for a change of pace. Mr. Hudson suggested we look at one of his favorite funny movies THE KID BROTHER (1927) and since I knew nothing about it, I said yes. The film stars comedy genius Harold Lloyd who, by this time in his career, was one of the most popular filmmakers in the world and the highest paid film star of the 1920’s. He was in complete control of his movies usually generating the story ideas and co-directing them in a hands-on producer role.  His films are always energetic affairs filled with amusing chase scenes and daredevil action sequences as his central character struggles to overcome adversity and win the affections of his female co-stars. You might think it pretty standard stuff until you actually watch one of his movies and get caught up laughing and gasping in surprise at the inventiveness on display. Lloyd was an amazing performer and this film is a perfect example of his abilities.

After Hudson and I catch up with each other’s recent viewing lists we dive into a discussion of THE KID BROTHER (1927) and do our best to find ways to remark on this crowd-pleasing tale when we can’t use sound clips to detail our points. John relates his history with Mr. Lloyd’s movies and his love of silent comedy in general. A good time is had by both of us and we hope that you enjoy listening to our discussion of this great film.

Any comments or questions can be sent to thebloodypit@gmail.com or posted on the show’s FaceBook page. John and I will be returning to our usual subject matter the next time he visits but I suspect there will be more oddball choices for us down the road. Thanks for listening!

Every now and then you meet a true raconteur. Someone who not only has the ability to tell tales in an amusing way but who has enough life experiences accumulated to have stories that seem to be inexhaustible. Sam Irvin is such a person!

Sam is a filmmaker who got his start in the industry working with Brian De Palma in the 1970’s on THE FURY (1978), HOME MOVIES (1979) and DRESSED TO KILL (1980) but his journey began as a movie obsessed young man in North Carolina. While just a grade school kid, he started his own movie fanzine in which he reviewed horror, science fiction and fantasy films as well as conducting interviews with his horror film idols. Over his high school years he interviewed Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price, Freddie Francis, Terence Fisher and even managed to travel to England to speak with them in person. The story of his visit to the set of THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974) is incredible! In the 1980’s he shifted to being a producer, directed a short film and worked as the Vice President of Marketing for several film distribution companies before finally getting to fulfill his dream of becoming a director. And then there’s the little story of making the amazing ELVIRA’S HAUNTED HILLS (2001) with the great Cassandra Peterson. But I should just let Sam tell you his story as he does a much better job than I ever could.

Among all his other projects Sam is also an author and our current pandemic Hell has fueled his creativity in an odd way. Along with artist Dan Gallagher he has produced the book Sam’s Toilet Paper Caper! Styled as a parody of the classic children’s series of Little Golden Books it relates the mostly true adventures of Sam as he attempts to replenish his supply of white gold – rolls of TP. It’s available in both ebook and print editions with links done below. All profits from the sales of this book go to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. To learn more and to donate, you can visit this website:

So, sit back and enjoy this couple of hours with Sam Irvin as he let us in on some of the more incredible parts of his wild life. If you have any questions or comments the email address is thebloodypit@gmail.com or you can join us over on the show’s FaceBook page. Thanks for listening and we’ll be back soon.

Hammer Studios made four feature films in the ‘mummy’ subgenre and THE MUMMY’S SHROUD (1967) is usually listed as one of the least of them. I’ve never understood this general attitude and not just because I have a soft spot for tales of undead Egyptian monsters stalking grave desecrators. This movie has a lot to offer including a substantial role for the great character actor Michael Ripper. In his last Hammer film director John Gilling brings a number of fascinating ideas to bear and manages to find some new ways to present the usual story of cursed tombs and horrible retribution. In fact, the level of violence meted out by the silent killer in this tale brings to mind some of the darker aspects of the stalk and slash genre of later years. Could this bloody nastiness be one of the reasons the movie has been so derided by fans of the studio’s earlier output?

I’m joined by Mark Maddox to look at this film and dig into why we like it. We examine our discovery of the movie in years past and how it holds up now as it makes its way to Blu-Ray release. We talk about how it sticks to the tropes of the usual mummy story but finds ways to change things up enough to be more than a replay of past efforts. We discuss the cast beyond just the excellent turn by Ripper and the angular beauty of co-star Maggie Kimberly. I put forth the (fairly obvious) idea that the opening section of the film set in ancient Egypt seems to have been meant to be presented without the voice-over the film gives it. Of course, any time you get Mark talking there are going to be bizarre sideroads in the conversation and this episode is no exception. His ability to remember the details of what network showed which movie on what night back in the 1970’s stuns me!

If you have any comments or question thebloodypit@gmail.com is the email address or I can be reached over on the FaceBook page. Thank you for listening to the show and stay safe out there. Cloth wrapped feet are not the only deadly thing lurking in the night!

Created by German science fiction authors K. H. Scheer and Walter Ernsting, Perry Rhodan is the central character in the world’s longest running science fiction book series. Publication began in 1961 and a new novella has hit newsstands in Germany every week ever since!  That means there have been more than 3000 Perry Rhodan stories in the past 59 years as well as 850 additional spinoff novels with no end in sight. In fact, the series passed the one billion copies sold mark all the way back in 1986. There was an attempt to bring the series to American in the 1970’s with the first 139 entries being translated into English and published but financial disputes ended this arrangement in 1979. I also suspect that they weren’t as popular over here as in their home country which has kept the continuing galaxy spanning tales of Perry Rhodan from the English-speaking world ever since.

Strangely, there has only been one attempt to bring this epic science fiction series to the screen. MISSION STARDUST (1967) uses the first two Perry Rhodan novellas to bring a version of the character and his world to the movies. The basics of the printed tale set things in motion (minus the more interesting/expensive parts) and then the story is melded with a standard Euro-Spy plotline to give us one of the stranger variations on the genre that the 1960’s ever produced. On his Antonio Margheriti Blog, Adrian Smith pointed out that this film’s special effects were done by Margheriti and his team sometime after the completion of the Gamma One films. Dr. Smith suggested that the film was worthy of a conversation and after a rewatch I had to agree. It’s a bizarre genre mash-up that works far better than it really should even if the fans of the book series have every right to treat this film with the same disdain that the female alien Thora has for the human race!

If you have any comments or suggestions for the podcast please write to thebloodypit@gmail.com or comment over on the show’s FaceBook page. Thank you for listening and we’ll be back in a few weeks.

Although best known for their gothic horror films, Hammer made movies in many different genres. Before striking gold with their first Frankenstein film in 1957 they produced a trio of science fiction films that were big moneymakers and, in a different world, might have made Hammer into a very different studio. Their adaptation of Nigel Kneale’s 1953 television serial as THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (1955) left them wanting more such tales. But Kneale was wouldn’t allow the use of his character for a story he had not penned so they pushed forward with an original script of their own. First time scripter Jimmy Sangster stuck close to the basic template of the Quatermass film creating his own genius scientist who gets thrown into a terrifying encounter with a mysterious unstoppable force. It’s a cracking good tale with a few surprising moments of gore for 1950’s sci-fi and enough spooky atmosphere for two movies.

Mark Maddox joins me to discuss X THE UNKNOWN (1956) and relate a few personal stories about his history with it. Here’s a hint - always accept an invitation to have dinner with Frazier Hines! We use an outline of the film’s plot to dig into the things that work and the things that don’t. We remark on the sometimes shockingly adult nature of the story’s choices with dead kids, randy nurses and melting faces being unexpected spices in the radioactive stew. We spend a little time on the impressive cast with attention paid to the amazing Leo McKern and Michael Ripper who gets to shout some fun threats at his soldier underlings. Mark is clear-eyed in his assessment of the film’s various special effects sequences and I lodge a few minor complaints about the first act’s pace and the script’s expository scientific babble. We do ramble off topic a few times – OK – several times! But we always link things back to the movie under the microscope. I promise.

If you have any comments or suggestions please write the podcast at thebloodypit@gmail.com and we’ll try to get you your thoughts on the next show Mark and I record in May. Thank you for listening!

#101 - 1968

Author Mark Clark rejoins me in this episode to put an interesting idea before us all. He claims that the all-time best year for science fiction, horror and fantasy movies is 1968. Best ever?  He argues that there were more high quality genre films released in that year than in any other and he comes with an impressive list to make his case. I have to admit that I am compelled to disagree with him – well - I’m compelled to disagree with almost everyone eventually. BUT – he has a good point or five. So, we dig into the movies from that long ago year, making claims of greatness and arguing their finer points. I mean, there is a lot to be said about 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, PLANET OF THE APES, ROSEMARY’S BABY and WITCHFINDER GENERAL don’t you think?

Of course, I also push back at Mark’s thesis with a different year that I’ve always considered one of the best for genre cinema and the conversation ranges across the merits of that year as well. We find much to agree on but there are some strange areas of contention. There might be a separate future discussion about the contemporary popularity of some of these movies and what that says about the perception of their quality level. If a movie was a financial failure on release but went on to be considered a classic, how do we evaluate it as an entry in that year? Food for geeky thought.

If you have another year that you think is more impressive than 1968 drop us a line. The email address is thebloodypit@gmail.com or we could get a thread going over on the show’s FaceBook page. Thanks for listening!

For the 100th episode John Hudson returns for another discussion of an Antonio Margheriti film! It’s taken a long time to finally get to triple digits and I’m happy to say that we treat the occasion with very little reverence. In fact, it’s just like every other episode Hudson and I’ve done together with him constantly messing with me while I try desperately to keep things on track. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

BATTLE OF THE WORLDS (1961) is the second of Margheriti’s science fiction films. As with his other cinematic SF adventures he directed the film while also overseeing the special effects. It was this movie that convinced the money people at MGM that he could be trusted to make cheap but good-looking space movies leading to the financing of his quartet of Gamma One films in 1965-67. For years this was a staple of Saturday afternoon TV broadcasts but after decades of public domain copies (both VHS and DVD) it seems improbable that we’ll ever get a Blu-Ray of this fun film. It is the presence of the great Claude Raines that makes this one to seek out for fans of his decades long career and he lifts this movie on his shoulders in every scene. It’s a shame YouTube is the current best way to see the film because a special edition video release would bring deserved attention to both the director and often neglected 1960’s space opera genre. Special effects may have advanced well past this film’s day but the care on view is still worth more widespread attention.

Mr. Hudson and I start the show with a discussion of some recent viewings and a side conversation about Stephen King’s output over the last couple of decades. Those expecting certain invisible creatures to get mentioned won’t be disappointed even if I was. As usual. Sometimes I wonder why I tolerate this guy!

Any comments can be sent to thebloodypit@gmail.com or dropped over on the show’s FaceBook page. We’d be glad to hear from you as we plot the next one hundred episodes!

Is this the last ‘great’ Universal monster movie?

That is one of the questions Troy and I pose as we dive into a discussion of this beloved werewolf film. THE WOLF MAN (1941) is such an entertaining film that I, of course, found a way to begin our conversation with a few of the things that I find to be less than perfect. And from there it only gets odder as we dig into the questions the film always brings up about four-legged wolves and suddenly appearing clothing. But we start to color outside the lines when we consider the dark family relationships in Talbot castle as well as the unknown past of Bela the gypsy with his mother Maleva. And what was that gypsy lady’s real motivation for hanging around to help Larry once his animal side began rampaging in the night? She certainly had some sharp words for Lord Talbot in their one interaction. Is there a subtext of class anger between the two oldest characters in this tale bubbling just beneath the surface? Or is she just the world’s best werewolf whisperer? And what about pretty Gwen’s quick transition to being head-over-heels in love with a man who could be called a telescope stalker? Unhappy with her fiancé? Hussy? Gold-digger? The gossipy women of the town want to know!

I apologize for my out of place ramble about the Big Country album Steeltown at the beginning of the show. Sometimes I just can’t help myself. If you have any thoughts or comments, the email address remains thebloodypit@gmail.com and the show’s Facebook page is alive and well. We look forward to continuing this series of 1940’s shows and hope you enjoy what we do! Thanks for listening.

- Older Posts »