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Author Paul Talbot has published two important books about Charles Bronson and his career. Both ‘Bronson’s Loose: The Making of the Death Wish Films’ and ‘Bronson’s Loose Again: On the Set with Charles Bronson’ are packed with information about the production of some of the most interesting action thrillers movies of the 1970’s and 80’s.

 
I was honored that Mr. Talbot agreed to join me on the show to talk about one of my favorite 1970’s Bronson movies. I’ve long been a fan of Bronson’s long string of crime movies and THE MECHANIC (1972) is easily one of the best of the lot. We discuss the lengthy gestation period of the script, the major changes that it went through over time and the various actors that passed on playing the titular character. We also look at the location shooting on skid row in Los Angeles and how it offers modern viewers a window to another time and place. Director Michael Winner’s multiple collaborations with his star are touched upon and Mr. Talbot’s insights are backed up with his interviews with the sometimes controversial filmmaker. Of course, when you get two movie nuts talking it is difficult to stay on a single topic so a number of Bronson’s other vehicles are dragged into the conversation with both of us naming our three favorite Bronson films for comparison. These slightly off-topic sideroads are frequent but we do usually circle back to THE MECHANIC – I promise.

 
If you have any comments or questions thebloodypit@gmail.com is the place to send them. Thank you for listening to the show and I’ll be back soon with more. 

During a recent rewatch of Dario Argento’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1998) I typed out my real time reactions to the film on FaceBook. Several friends played along, seeming to share my dislike of the film and enjoying my detailing of the bits that struck me as nonsensical or bizarre. But one person stood up for this strange version of the Gaston Leroux tale and now he and I discuss our disparate takes on this odd effort.

Troy Howarth returns to the show to defend the film that was many people’s breaking point with Argento. We forgo an in-depth synopsis and simply dive straight into picking apart the various points of disagreement about the film’s quality. Strangely enough, we find several details and scenes that we both admire but mostly our discussion involves me bringing up the elements I dislike and Troy providing a defense. I’m impressed with his resistance to my repeated appeals to sanity and logic but since neither of those things usually factor into an Argento film, he has cinema history on his side. Luckily, I think our conversation is pretty lively and might even make fans that hate this odd film give it a second look.

If you want to put in your two cents about this film or any other that we’ve covered on the show thebloodypit@gmail.com is the place to send messages. Thank you for listening and we’ll be back soon!  

The show finally reaches episode #150 with a discussion of the 1943 version of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA!

 
Join Troy and I as we swing on the giant opera house chandelier! Say what you will, but it gives us a good view of the film’s successes and failures. This often-derided film is one of Universal’s Oscar winners and on Blu-Ray it is a gorgeous thing to behold. We never thought we’d use words like opulent or big budgeted or colorful to describe a ‘horror’ film from the 1940’s but here we are! Of course, comparisons to the 1925 version can’t be avoided and we also briefly touch on a few of the more well-known adaptations over the past eighty years.

 
We spend a lot of time digging into the question of Christine’s relationship with the Phantom and wondering why having him be her father was excised from the story. At least one review from the time indicates that there might have been something left in early prints that made this very clear. We talk about the cast and the director with attention paid to some poor staging that undercuts important moments. Complaints about the comedy elements of the film are voiced as are questions about the difficulty of assembling a music room in the Paris sewers. A good time is had by all with music leading the way!

 
Near the end of the show, we respond to a couple of emails sent to thebloodypit@gmail.com and I have a mini-rant about the sad tendency in film fans to hate all new things. It’s a brief spasm and the phrase Doppler Effect is tossed out but I recover quickly and get things back on track. Hell! I almost forgot about the emails. Thanks Troy. And thank you for listening. We’ll be back soon! 

Lucio Fulci’s MURDER ROCK (1984) is not considered the director’s finest work but in this episode Troy Guinn, Jeff Nelson and I mount a defense of the film.

We take a look at several aspects of the film that are rarely discussed including the excellent cinematography and the script’s clever red herrings. It’s standard for a murder mystery to throw suspicion on most of the cast but several of the suspects in this case are real nasty pieces of work! How often do you have one character falsely confess to the killing and another try to use the murder method to cover their own desire to be rid of a rival? It certainly keeps things lively even if it makes for a difficult knot to untangle.

We discuss the cast while marveling at the number of actors/dancers that don’t get screen credit. The central dream sequence comes under scrutiny as part of the mid-80’s intrusion of music video style into cinema. We mull over the nearly bloodless nature of the murders as a possible concession to the angry response Fulci received for his previous New York set thriller. We also give our opinions on the often-derided score from the legendary Keith Emerson who seems destined to be insulted for his contributions to this film for eternity. In all, it is a fun ramble through an often-overlooked giallo.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions thebloodypit@gmail.com is the place to write or drop a recording of your thoughts. We love hearing from you so jump in! Thank you for listening.

We enter into one of the odder areas of the 1940’s Universal Horrors with CAPTIVE WILD WOMAN (1943)! The few jungle girl movies made by the studio in the decade can be seen as a slightly faltering bridge between the occasional jungle themed serials of the 1930’s, the Weissmuller Tarzan series and the rapid growth of such film and television tales in the 1950’s. By the time the Jungle Jim and Bomba films were Saturday matinee staples Sheena and Ramar were also enticing young viewers at home. These tales of wild animals, poachers and evil treasure hunters were perfect adventure fodder for young minds and if the subject was a leopard skin clad Jungle Girl then you might even find a few adults tuning in for the action.

CAPTIVE WILD WOMAN is an attempt to build a mad scientist horror film out of a lot of exciting circus footage. It is more effective than you might expect but the ratio of horror stuff to circus stuff is probably weighted in the wrong direction. Troy and I chew our popcorn while watching the spectacle! Deciding which parts work and which ones are very strange occupy most of our time but we discuss the cast and director with some detail too.  We only get a short period of time with Acquanetta’s silent wild woman/gorilla character but the 1932 animal act footage is skillfully integrated into the film almost making you forget this is supposed to be a horror tale. Luckily, John Carradine is one of the smoothest mad scientists of all time so it’s a joy to watch him slither across the screen.

The show can be reached at thebloodypit@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments. We would love to hear from you and we do wonder who you would name as best Jungle Girl or most impressive Mad Scientist. Thank you for listening!

Where is the line between grotesque horror and dark comedy? Paul Morrisey’s FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN (1973) explores that blurry line with colorful delight. Often known as Andy Warhol’s FRANKENSTEIN this is a one-of-a-kind experience and is now finally available on Bly-Ray!

Mark Maddox and I discuss the film and our history with it as we look at what we like and/or love about this bizarre piece of cinema. The movie was produced without a full script while the director composed pages on the way to Cinecittà Studios every day of its three week shoot. This creates a strangely meandering story about Baron Frankenstein (Udo Kier) attempting to bring about a Serbian master race by creating a perfect mating pair. As you might expect, things do not go as planned. Scattered about the story we find the mad doctor’s sister/wife, their creepy children and the lower-class servants who are asked to participate in some grisly experiments. It’s a bloody, nudity filled madhouse of a movie and is sure to please or anger an almost equal number of viewers. Our talk ranges from the very talented cast and the opulent sets to the well-done gore effects and the disgusting visuals. Of course, by the end we are off track and talking about other things but we start with good intentions. Forgive us!

The email address is thebloodypit@gmail.com and we’d love to know your thoughts on this odd work of cinema or any other subject we bump up against in our discussion. Thank you for listening.

John Hudson and Bobby Hazzard join me to discuss out first Filmirage production and, of course, it’s a horror film. 

BEYOND DARKNESS (1990) was directed by the man responsible for the astonishing TROLL 2, Claudio Fragrasso. That should let you know what kind of ride the movie will provide but it might not prepare you for the sheer madness. Consisting of ideas, characters and entire sequences cobbled together from at least six earlier films BEYOND DARKNESS serves up a low budget variation on the haunted house concept that must be seen to be believed. A Catholic priest and his family (!?) move into a home in his new Louisiana parish and are almost immediately assaulted by spectral nonsense. There’s a glowing otherworldly hole in a closet, ghostly witches creeping around and the lingering presence of a recently executed child murderer making a full night’s sleep pretty difficult to get. A sane family would leave but then we’d have no movie. 

The three of us try very hard to stay on topic but we each seem determined to run off onto side discussions that have only tenuous connections to the film. We start off well talking about the Otis House location BEYOND DARKNESS shares with Fulci’s THE BEYOND and the number of cast members that are also in other horror movies of the times. But eventually I’m babbling about alternative poster art for vintage films while Hudson drags us on another ‘Porn Talk’ sideroad and all of us are giggling about the haunted lamp in AMITYVILLE 4! What is wrong with us? Things repeatedly go off the rails as should be obvious by the fact that we end up referencing Zamfir, the Master of the Pan Flute, Gilligan’s Island and The Doors. Dive in and hang on – this one is a little crazier than usual.

 
We end the show with a tune from The Cocktail Slippers and you should check out their fine music wherever you listen to cool stuff. If you have any comments or suggestions thebloodypit@gmail.com is the place to send them. Thank you for listening to us go on about things and we’ll be back soon. 

After our recent discussion of BED OF A THOUSAND PLEASURES (1972) over on Wild, Wild Podcast Adrian Smith and I continued our conversation about Antonio Margheriti here on The Bloody Pit.

Taking a look at this exceptional little ghost tale was long overdue and it is a shame that THE UNNATURALS (1969) is so difficult to see. It’s one of the director’s best gothic chillers and that is saying something. It feels very much like an early version of Bava’s LISA AND THE DEVIL (1973) and even shares some of the score from Carlo Savina who was clearly not above getting paid twice for the same music! Hopefully some Blu-Ray company will bring this excellent little film to a larger audience soon.

Adrian and I discuss the period setting and finely detailed interiors that were borrowed from a more expensive movie. The film is a classic example of the Old Dark House tale with bits of the James Whale 1932 movie of that title featuring heavily in the open act’s plot mechanism. Just how stuck in the mud was that car, really! Since this is a German co-production we look at the cast with an eye toward the inclusion of several familiar faces from the krimi cycle that was still thriving at the time. Happily, the wonderful Luigi Pigozzi (a.k.a. Alan Collins) has a major part in this film. Often called the Italian Peter Lorre he was a frequent collaborator with Margheriti and THE UNNATURALS may mark the most significant screen role of his career. He makes the most of it! So, with gorgeous widescreen photography, some surprising nudity and a slowing unfolding series of revelations this is a great little film. Certainly it is an attention grabbing look at lust, greed and murder as a catalyst for possibly supernatural revenge.

If you have any comments or questions thebloodypit@gmail.com is the place to send them. We’d love to know what’s on your mind. Thank you for listening to the show!

Following on our coverage of SHERLOCK HOLMES IN WASHINGTON (1943) we once again dig into the wealth of radio adaptations of the original stories.

 
Beth has chosen two excellent audio versions of Arthur Conan Doyle tales with the connecting theme being that they involve an American character stirring up trouble. First we present The Noble Bachelor from the long running BBC Radio series starring Carleton Hobbs as Sherlock Holmes and Norman Shelley as Dr. Watson. This program aired from 1952 to 1969 and became the way an entire generation of British listeners became fans of character. We talk a little about the two main actors known primarily for their radio and stage work including the somewhat controversial work that Mr. Shelley was rumored to have done for Queen & Country. We then check out the CBS Mystery Theater’s 1977 version of A Scandal in Bohemia with Kevin McCarthy as Holmes and Court Benson as Watson.  It’s another fine adaptation and this time I’ve left in several of the commercials from the original broadcast to give you a sense of what it would have sounded like when aired. I snipped out the ExLax ads for your mental health!

 
Thank you for listening and if you have any comments thebloodypit@gmail.com is the show’s address. We’ll be back soon with a new episode! 

Sherlock Holmes takes center stage again with Rathbone and Bruce traveling to America to secure a secret document.

 
I am joined by Beth Morris and Troy Guinn for a detailed look at the third in the Universal Holmes series, SHERLOCK HOLMES IN WASHINGTON (1943). This is one of the few that we all dreaded as memory told us we were in for a weaker entry. Imagine our surprise to find a much better movie than we expected. Exciting!

 
We dig into the production with some neat information culled from my ever-expanding pile of reference books on the subject. Beth finds some highs and lows in the deductive reasoning the script gives Sherlock and Troy finds his first viewing of this one to be his favorite of the run so far. We talk about the excellent cast and spend some time on the great George Zucco’s career as well as heaping some deserved praise on the screenplay. This being the first of the series with a completely original story Universal was wise in its choice of screenwriter Bertram Millhauser who went on the pen four more Holmes scripts for the studio. We lament the limited screentime of Henry Daniell and question the steady cruelty of Holmes to Watson throughout the story. We were all pleased to see Clarence Muse given a solid supporting role as a train porter where he gets to play directly with Rathbone as the search for clues ramps up. And, because I have a dirty mind, I spot a subtle sex joke that was sly enough to get past the production code. Busy, busy!

 
We end the show with three emails from listeners one of which pushes us into a long discussion of favorite actors in the Watson role. The email address is thebloodypit@gmail.com and we’d love to hear from you too. Thank you for listening to the show and we’ll be back soon. 

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