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When the news broke last month that Sean Connery had passed away it didn’t come as much of a shock. He had made it to 90 years of age and I can’t be the only person that was surprised that he had such a long life. For decades he had been the epitome of masculine charism onscreen even as he aged into an elder cinema stateman in dozens of movies. Able to project calm no matter what chaos surrounded him and believable as an intense man of action regardless of the crazed nature any film’s plotline he was more than a movie star – Connery was a legend. His entire career he was underestimated even though he was a supremely talented actor who made what he did seem effortless. In fact, it may have been his skill at making it all seem easy that made it difficult for critics to acknowledge his ability. Of course, it was his performances as British spy James Bond that made him an international star even as the character became a weight around his neck. He tried for years to break away from that persona and succeeded to a large degree because of his determination to pick varied roles although it was another tough guy role that won him an Oscar in 1988. We will not see his like again. 

Mark Maddox joins me to dig deeply into the first two Bond films DR. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Finely crafted adventure tales they both stick closely to the Ian Fleming source material and, perhaps because of that, are fantastic spy tales. We talk about the films production with some added insights from the rare Criterion Laser disc commentaries that EON productions yanked as soon as they heard them! Mark brings his personal history with the character to bear explaining how his relationship with the movies have changed repeatedly over time. The differences between the books and the screenplays are discussed with some fun details about the possible reasons for certain changes. I make note of some scenes that the producers might have thought about editing from the finished movies if only to hedge their bets on mid-1960’s special effects. We also take a brief look at some of Connery’s post-Bond films to marvel at the variety of things he tried. 

If you have a special place in your heart for Connery and his portrayal of James Bond let us know. Which of his films is your favorite? How many of his 1970’s movies have you seen? Write the show at thebloodypit@gmail.com and we’ll add you to the discussion next time. Thanks for listening! 

American genre TV movies of the 1970’s hold a fascination for me. Growing up they were often the big event of the week and the major topic of discussion for kids at school for a long time after their premiere. In some cases, these movies have lived on in the larger public consciousness with reruns adding to their fanbase as it can take more than just excited playground conversations to grow their legends. In the past few years more and more of them have made the jump to Blu-Ray with lavish care taken to bring these sometimes difficult to find tales to a new audience. The biggest of the decade’s TV films are well represented, especially the fantastic and groundbreaking one-two punch of THE NIGHT STALKER (1972) and THE NIGHT STRANGLER (1973) or even the excellent failed pilot THE NORLISS TAPES (1973). But there is much more of interest to horror fans seeking obscure telefilms than just Dan Curtis productions and, in this episode, we dive into a discussion of the fun CBS creature feature GARGOYLES (1972). There is much to talk about!

 
John Hudson and I tackle the film from several angles starting with our own histories with it. John got to see it on it’s premiere and has some holdover nostalgia for the movie while I caught up to it much later. We both still love the monster design, the desert southwest setting and the fact that very little time is wasted getting into the meat of the story. John has some information gleaned from the DVD director’s commentary track that sheds some light on the production and answers a couple of minor questions. We lament the lack of a certain actor’s voice and find ourselves still impressed with the ambition of the film. I openly wonder about the dropped idea of the Satanic element of the backstory and do a little guesswork on some missed opportunities that the restrictions of television in the 70’s might have made impossible.

 
If you have any memories tied to this mad monster film tell us about it at thebloodypit@gmail.com or over on the show’s Facebook page. What was your favorite TV movie from your childhood? Thanks for listening! 

Mario Bava is one of the most influential European filmmakers of all time. At the time of his passing in 1980 it is doubtful that he would have thought his work would be held in high esteem but the list of cinema luminaries that praise his talent is too long to list. Certainly, by the measure of box office take Bava would have thought himself an unsuccessful director. Few of the movies we consider classics today were big hits in their day finding much more acclaim years after their initial release. And then there is his glorious masterwork LISA AND THE DEVIL. Given the opportunity after one of his rare hit films to craft a long dreamed of project, he made this film with almost complete control. Sadly, the producer was unable to find distribution for the finished movie except in one country and so demanded that new scenes be shot to make the film more commercial. The resulting film became THE HOUSE OF EXORCISM and is as messy a product as its gestation would imply. But, luckily, fans of Bava’s work can see his original vision and marvel at the beauty and joy of a master filmmaker letting his imagination take flight.

 
Joining me to discuss this amazing film is author Troy Howarth, the writer of many books on various film directors and actors including The Haunted World of Mario Bava originally published nearly twenty years ago. We delve into the film’s haunted palace imagery with an eye to the use of manikins and statues and corpses that seem to trade places randomly. The time-slip nature of the dream-like story is examined along with the possible ways to read the underlying meaning of what Bava was saying with this rumination on death and decay. The cast is amazing with a scene stealing turn by a grinning Telly Savalas as both family servant and devilish observer. We also note the origins of the wonderful Carlo Savina score and the producer’s feelings about being sold used goods!

If you have any comments or questions the address is thebloodypit@gmail.com or the show has a Facebook page where occasional updates are posted. Thank you for listening to this episode and we will be back soon with more.  

Usually when you see that a 1940’s Universal film is an adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe story the expectation is for a horror film, but Poe was much more than just a master of the macabre. His work spanned many types of fiction and he is credited with actually creating the genre of ‘detective fiction’ with his brilliant Murders in the Rue Morgue in 1841. In that iconic tale a clever man interested in puzzles bends his sharp mind to the task of solving an inexplicable murder. This character, Auguste Dupin, would appear in two subsequent Poe stories and is one of the inspirations for Conan Doyle’s later Sherlock Holmes. Universal had very loosely adapted the first of these mysteries in 1932 with Bela Lugosi and a man in an ape suit adding hideous pre-code horrors to the proceedings. The Mystery of Marie Roget was the second of the Dupin tales and it seems clear that Universal thought they could once again capitalize on the famous Poe name to bring home the dollars, only without quite so much of the grisly tone of the earlier film.

 
Troy and I pull the film apart looking for its darker elements. We discuss the fact that this is a fairly straightforward mystery that at times feels like a well mounted period drama that just happens to involve a few murders. The nastier details of the victim’s mutilated faces are kept offscreen entirely even as that plot element is needed to both set up a few red herrings and point the way toward the actual killer. We talk about the lavish look of the film, the interesting cast and speculate on who might have made a better onscreen Dupin. The excellent dialog between actors Patrick Knowles and Lloyd Corrigan is the highlight of the picture pointing the way toward an excellent future Universal film series. As usual, we also get a lot of fun out of reading reviews of this movie from contemporary critics. We are developing some favorites among the newspaper writers of the 1940’s! 

If you have any questions or comments the show can be reached at thebloodypit@gmail.com or over on the FaceBook page. We’ll be continuing our 1940’s Universal horror series after the holidays so let know what you think. Thank you for listening to the podcast! 

114 - DJANGO (1966)

Hundreds of westerns were made in the 1960’s and 70’s by European filmmakers looking to cash-in on the success of Sergio Leone’s breakout hit A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964). Within that huge volume of movies are a number that rival Leone’s work and sometimes surpass his level of quality. While I’m not sure that there are more than a dozen westerns made by other Italians that are as brilliant as THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966) the ones made by another Sergio make the best case. Sergio Corbucci directed all kinds of films in his career but his first big hit was DJANGO (1966) and his follow up efforts with (and without) star Franco Nero are just as good as anything being made in the genre at the time. Set in a nearly deserted border town in a wet winter the film feels like a wallow in the muddiest spot on Earth. Caked in filth and dragging a coffin behind him Nero’s Django walks into this decaying hellhole with an agenda that will have the corpses piling up faster than graves can be dug. 

Mark Maddox joins me to examine this classic Spaghetti Western from several angles. We note that its story is a variation of the plot of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and we trace that tale back to its literary origins. We talk about the rather graphic violence onscreen detailing how ahead of its time it is in the harsh, bloody actions we are shown. Franco Nero’s career is discussed as is his resemblance to one of the hosts of this podcast! The unforgettable theme song gets some attention along with some information about the impressive vocalist. Of course, many other westerns get talked about as we go with our long running argument about film rating scales nearly bringing the entire show to a halt in the final few minutes. Sorry about that! 

If you have any comments or questions thebloodypit@gmail.com is the address or you can drop us a note over on the show’s FaceBook page. We’d love to hear from you as we decide which western to tackle next. Thanks for listening! 

The late 1980’s were an odd time for Euro-trash exploitation filmmakers. The slasher genre was played out and no other type of horror film was considered a sure bet so, what to do? Why not find a way to somehow piece several sub-genres together to see if, combined, they will make a coherent film and rake in the profits! So they took a little from the animal attack sub-genre with a dash of mad scientist then added in some biting rage zombies and rape-happy frat scumbags to see what would happen. And then they sold it as if it were a slasher film! Madness, thy name is PRIMAL RAGE (1988).

Joining me to talk about this bizarre mixture is Bobby Hazzard who starts things off diving deep into the Claudio Simonetti produced collection of songs that pepper this film. Released back when a major selling point for a movie was the multi-artist soundtrack album featuring hoped for hit tunes and at times film’s the dialog is often less noticeable than the music. We argue about which song is worse and I sprinkle samples from most of them into the show. You’re welcome/I apologize!

 
We discuss the film’s ‘rage virus’ and how it, at times, feels a little like a dry run for 28 DAYS LATER (2002). Bobby takes great pleasure in noting the motor vehicles that this film shares with that other Florida-shot Italian-made horror film NIGHTMARE BEACH (1989) made by the same team. We lament the lack of Umberto Lenzi’s directorial touch and wonder about the song this movie shares with a certain Dario Argento film. Of course, we comment on the clothing choices and the odd hairstyles because the 80’s were a dead space for taste and this film is a document of those sad times. My favorite moment in the show is when Bobby rattles off a detailed list of every mad costume he could spot in the chaotic Halloween Party climax. Luckily this entertainingly sleazy, bloody mess moves at a good pace, making talking about it fun.

 
Let us know what you think about this film or our overlong conversation about it at thebloodypit@gmail.com or over on the show’s FaceBook page. We’d love hear you opinion of this jumbled Italian horror mess. 

Universal’s Frankenstein film series enters the 1940’s with its neck-bolted head held high. 

As the fourth in the series THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942) is usually seen a massive step down from the classic film produced in the 1930’s but Troy and I have some things to say about that. The story has Bela Lugosi’s Ygor character as the main agent of action which is a smart beginning. His desire to help his monstrous ‘friend’ regain its full strength sends this twisted George and Lenny to yet another son of Frankenstein for mad medical assistance. What could possibly go wrong? 

We discuss the impressive cast including the holdovers from THE WOLFMAN (1941), giving our takes on the various qualities of their performances versus what the script gives them to do. We lament the sad waste of Eveyln Ankers and seriously question the intentions of the film’s costume designers. What is with that bizarre dress? The film’s decision to double up on mad scientists gives us the chance to see Lionel Atwill run off with nearly every scene he has including being the most interesting thing to watch even when he is in the background. We dig into the switch from Karloff to Lon Chaney Jr. being behind the monster’s makeup and debate the choice to use dubbing for his voice in the climactic final sequence. I refer to the published script for the film to point out some interesting trims that might have made this short movie feel a little more substantial but there is something to be said for brevity, I suppose. At an hour and seven minutes it is certainly a fast ride! 

We end the show with the demo or practice take of an Exotic Ones’ song Knock It Down which was co-written by Liz Morris. It’s a fun tune centered around the Universal monsters and hopefully the band will eventually record a full-strength version for a future album. 

We can be reached at thebloodypit@gmail.com for any comments or suggestions or over on the FaceBook page. Thank you for listening to the show! 

I’ve been a fan of the classic version of Doctor Who since I was a teenager. Like many Americans I discovered the show on PBS and have been striving to catch up ever since. The standard debate amongst Whovians is about favorite Doctors but I think a more interesting discussion can be formed around favorite stories. So, when approaching our first podcast on the subject we picked a classic from early in the Third Doctor’s run that showcases the joys typical of the 1970’s version of the series.

Jon Pertwee’s five year run as Doctor Who is one of the periods of the original show that still holds some mysteries for me. There are a number of stories from these years that I have never seen, meaning that I get a bit excited to explore Pertwee’s version of the character because they are new Classic Who! Or, at least, new to me. This enthusiasm for the Third Doctor’s tales bleeds over into repeatedly watching beloved stories to soak up the fun of what they were doing. It took me a long time to realize that the entire time Pertwee’s Doctor is working with UNIT is supposed to be in the 1980’s! That just makes things even cooler!

Mark Maddox is a longtime Who fan and has had the pleasure of getting to create artwork for Doctor Who magazine. He has even gotten to interpret some unfilmed Who stories with brush and paint! He talks about that as we meander around this episode discussing ‘Inferno’, the final tale from Jon Pertwee’s first season. This is a six-part tale so we dig into why those longer stories are so much fun. As to be expected, the inevitable talk about favorite Doctors comes up along with a sharp digression into the elements we feel are missing from the 21st century incarnation of the show. This leads to a verbal scrum involving the various actors who have played the character. When we work our way back to ‘Inferno’ we discuss the smart sound design of the story and Mark tries to convince me to call the hairy green creatures in the story Lava Monsters. He is only occasionally successful. Occasionally.

If you have any comments or suggestions about the show or if you’d just like to tell us who your favorite Who is/was/will be drop us a line at thebloodypit@gmail.com and we’ll respond. Right now we have no idea what Mark and I will cover next so get those ideas in and you might influence our choice. Maybe.

For years Cannon Films has been celebrated for the mad movies they brought to the big screen in the 1980’s. The company’s focus on action films made that decade a crazed series of ever escalating, over the top adventures that often seemed uninterested in coherence and mostly concerned with creating a parade of stunts, violence and explosions. They had great success for a while but nearly every time they stepped away from fistfights, gunfights and car crashes they tended to lose a lot money. One of the biggest financial winners for Cannon was the trio of ninja films they produced from 1981 to 1984 starring Japanese martial artist Sho Kosugi as either the bad guy or the hero and sometimes both! Is there anything a ninja can’t do?

 

To discuss Cannon’s epic ninja trilogy, I’m joined by an old work buddy who I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. Brian Smith is a naturally funny guy with a love of exploitation films from the 1980’s and a previously hidden childhood history of wishing he could be a ninja. Luckily for us his creative side has allowed him to focus some of that childhood longing into comedy and we end this episode with his hilarious song about the joys of the ninja arts. You have been warned!

 

Brian and I relate our history with ninja films and our mutual love of the more insane aspects of these strange cinematic messes. With REVENGE OF THE NINJA (1983) as our jumping off point Brian tells of his parent’s bad reaction to the opening sequence’s violence. I think we’ve all been there. It can be difficult to move past ‘slaughter your whole family ninja violence’ and allow a young lad the joys of seeing the drowning of scantily clad women in hot tubs. It’s not really a ‘family movie night’ kind of film. We have a good time digging deep into the madness of this mess of a movie that seems only barely held together by racial stereotypes, random action scenes and bad ideas. Thank goodness that some of those bad ideas involve turning the stuntmen loose with the camera crew to create some pretty fun stuff. It may not be a good film but it is an entertaining one.

 

We also spend some time on ENTER THE NINJA (1981) and the even crazier NINJA III: THE DOMINATION (1984) to determine which is our favorite. There is even an unplanned sideroad discussion of Saturday morning cartoons in which we bond over the loss of the great Thundarr the Barbarian. There really should have been more episodes of that show made, dammit! You can email the podcast at thebloodypit@gmail.com or join us over on the FaceBook page. We’ll be glad to hear from you!

I’m very excited to welcome author and podcaster Amanda Reyes to the show for the first time! She edited and co-wrote the excellent overview book ‘Are You In the House Alone: A TV Movie Compendium’ and hosts the TV Mayhem Podcast where she hosts discussions of every type of television film imaginable. I’ve been a fan of her work for years and her focus on TV movies putting her near the top of any list of current experts in the field. But her knowledge of cinema ranges much wider than just the small screen. With her love of the thriller and horror genres pushing her into often strange territories she can find fascinating parallels that other viewers would miss. On more than one occasion I’ve been stunned by her deep understanding of obscure horror movies often forcing me to reevaluate my opinion. Plus, her podcasting tendency to go off on great tangents has made for some amazing discoveries of hidden treasures lurking on actor’s resumes!

I asked Amanda what subject she would like to tackle and she brought up the little-known Italian high fashion world thriller NOTHING UNDERNEATH (1985). I had only caught up with the film about a year ago and really enjoyed it so it seemed like a perfect small topic to dig into. Little did I know that Miss Reyes and I would have so much to say about it! We talk about the film for well over two hours and even discuss the bat-crap crazy ending. Be aware, we give you plenty of warning if you want to avoid spoilers but we just had to talk about the final scenes. Not that the mystery element is the only thing here to enjoy about the movie. We delve into the cast and their careers with some surprising details about certain projects. We debate the effectiveness of fake accents; the treatment of the story’s sleazier aspects; the 1980’s fashion; the plot’s red herrings; the film’s rural versus urban visual motif and the telepathic sibling element that drives the entire affair. We had a great time with this film and I hope you have half as much fun listening in.

If you have any comments or suggestions the show can be reached at thebloodypit@gmail.com or over on the podcast’s FB page. Let us know what you think and feel free to guess about what Amanda and I will be discussing the next time we record!

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