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Riccardo Freda: The Life and Works of a Born Filmmaker

Riccardo Freda: The Life and Works of a Born Filmmaker
Roberto Curti Price: $45.00 40 photos, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
376pp. softcover (7 x 10)McFarland  2017                                                http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-1-4766-6970-0

Like many American film fans, my knowledge of director Ricardo Freda was mostly limited to his
Horror films I Vampiri /THE DEVIL’S COMMANDMENT (Titanus,1957),Caltiki il mostro immortale /CALTIKI,THE IMMORTAL MONSTER(Lux,1959),L’orrible segreto del Dr. Hichcock /THE HORRIBLE DOCTOR HITCHCOCK(Panda,1962) and Lo specttro /THE GHOST (Panda,1963).

• However, Freda had a career in cinema that lasted from 1937 (Lasciate ogni speranza /LEAVE ALL HOPE ,Juventus Film) until 1994 (La fille de d’Artagnan /REVENGE OF THE MUSKETEERS ,Canal+ )starting and ending his career as a writer.

• Writer Roberto Curti of Cortona Italy has done a remarkable job tracking down an amazing amount of information on Freda’s life and career.His love for the subject comes though with his very detailed synopses of these rarely seen (outside of certain countries), providing the history behind many of them, production facts, and their success or failure in various territories as well as changes made to them .

Curti uses Freda’s memoir Divoratori di celluloide (Emme Edizioni (1981),164 pages)as a starting point ,but also researching though film magazines and newspapers from several countries, as well as tracking down and watching the titles from the director’s long career. Curti points out that the director could often be petty and recall incidents that might not always match the facts.Curti’s interviews and research sometimes contradicts what Freda put into his book.

• Still ,the Egyptian born Italian director lived La Dolce Vita, being an extravagant personal spender and gambler as well as womanizer. It is ironic that he despised films like Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (Riama,1960) as well as the entire neo-realist movement of films like Ladri di biciclette/THE BICYCLE THIEF(Ente Nazionale,1948).

He was more a storyteller who felt that film should be escapist,and take us out of reality. Not only did he have those skills, he was also able to make limited budgets look richer than they were, due to his understanding of film editing and camera placement ,as well as working with innovators like the great Mario Bava. Indeed, the short tempered Freda walked off the set of a I Vampiri ,leavinng it to be  finished by Bava. We see throughout the book that Freda had a habit of walking off set, much to the detriment of his films and career.  I Vampiri has an important place in Italian horror films ,as it was the country’s first true sound horror film (the first Italian horror film may have been Il monstro di Frankenstein(1920) a now sadly lost silent picture).

Freda had prior to I Vampiri had done a lot of regional comedies ( he cared little for the comics in many of his films ,but put in many physical gags inspired by the likes of Buster Keaton ,historical dramas and swashbucklers . Indeed ,his love of classic novels and adventure tales seemed to have merged into Caccia all’umo /LES MISERABLES( Lux,1952) ,making it more of an action thriller!

His swashbucklers seemed to have broken new ground in storytelling in Italy, being more inspired by American filmmakers than the home grown artisans. His love of tracking shots to get a lot of detail within a long take was developed during this period .Having reviewed the Italian historical drama La cena delle beffe / THE JESTER’s SUPPER* (Società Italiana Cines,1942 ,not by Freda, but by a contemporary),I would love to see more these  rarely motion pictures                (see review at https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/the-jesters-supper-dvd/ ) .

Freda also was one of the first to leap into the sword and sandal films ,even telling an earlier version of the tale of SPARTACUS(Spartaco(API,1953),released in the U.S. by RKO as SINS OF ROME ). He hopped from genre to genre with various budgets and varying success. Comedy (at which he seemed to have a lot of success),drama ,spy thrillers ,Krimi( he faced off and WON against the antagonistic Klaus Kinski) ,swashbucklers,historicals, and of course horror.

His indifference to some parts of the movies he made show with some sloppy work (in ROGER LA HONTE( Comptoir Francais du Film Production ,1966,one of his later films with a decent budget, he allows a major stunt to show clearly that a “woman” passenger is actually a stunt man since his trousers are clearly visible ),as well as his indifference to actors (he was notorious for using doubles when actors gave him any grief). Yet in staging ,he often surpassed the budget with strong imagery and tracking shots that convey a lot of information .Plus several actors who worked with him praised the director .

Curti’s book makes me want to revisit several of Freda’s films and seek out some of his rarities. Curti has done what any film researcher should do, and that is evaluate and place into historical context the work of the subject.

McFarland is to be commended once again for putting out such a detailed volume about a filmmaker not as well known as perhaps he should be. Each film has b&w illustrations of the film posters or on set photographs, The graphics are sharp and easy to see.

This is a MUST HAVE for lovers of film, especially for those who love Euro-Cinema.

Highly Recommended.

Kevin G Shinnick

 

                  "Acquista il libro o ti farò del male ..."

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Win a free Blu Ray/DVD Combo of DEATH RACE 2050

UPDATE : January 18,2017. CONTEST OVER.  

WINNERS!!!!!!

Here are the winners of the UNIVERSAL /SCARLET DEATH RACE 2050 Blu Ray Contest .

Death Race 2000 was based on the short story “The Racer” by Ib Melchior.

The people who were picked with the correct answer were:

Sean Fernald
Los Angeles, CA

Allison Bennett
Peoria, AZ

Ken Sleeth
Lusby, MD 20657
Mike Shields
Prescott Valley, AZ

Joe Covert
Baton Rouge, LA

Congrats ! Universal‘s representative in the contest has been contacted with the winner’s mailing information .Their prize ,each to receive one blu ray combo of DEATH RACE 2050, is being sent. .

Thank you for all the entries.

DEATH RACE 2050 is AVAILABLE NOW FOR PURCHASE .
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGOI1v-WXIM

Like & Follow  SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE REVIEWS for upcoming articles and contests!!

Update: January 17th, contest over. Winners to be announced!!!!  death-race-2050-blu-ray

UNIVERSAL PICTURES and SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE REVIEWS would like you to win one of five copies of the BLU RAY/DVD combo release of the new sci fi action adventure film DEATH RACE 2050 .

How to win :
Answer : What story and by what author was the original DEATH RACE 2000 based upon?

just send an email to scarletthefilmmag@yahoo.com
in the heading ,put DEATH RACE 2050 contest .

In the body of the letter,
put your answer
and
you name and mailing address .

Contest ends January 15th,2017 .

Five winners will be pulled from all entries .

Open to readers within the continental United States .

LEGENDARY FILMMAKING ICON, ROGER CORMAN RETURNS
TO PRODUCE THE MOST EPIC DEATH RACE EVER
AS PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY BEGINS IN PERU

ROGER CORMAN’S DEATH RACE 2050

The MSRP is $26.98 for Blu-ray and $22.98 on DVD.
AVAILABLE JANUARY 17,2017.

MALCOLM MCDOWELL STARS IN THE SENSATIONAL ACTION-PACKED FILM
DEBUTING ON BLU-RAY™, DVD AND DIGITAL HD
IN 2016 FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT

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Universal City, California, February 18, 2016 – An outrageous action-packed film and reboot of the original Death Race 2000, Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050 began filming February 8 in Peru. Filled with the full-throttle mayhem and black-hearted humor, this all-new film drops the flag on a phalanx of automotive gladiators who earn points for killing pedestrians — and their fellow drivers. Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050 is an original release from Universal 1440 Entertainment, a production entity of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The film will be available exclusively on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD in 2017.

death-race-2050-700x300

The Original DEATH RACE 2000

In the decades since well-known independent film pioneer and Academy Award® winner Roger Corman first put the iconic anti-hero Frankenstein into the driver’s seat in Death Race 2000, this over-the-top cult classic has hurtled headlong toward cinematic immortality. Among the most enduring of the prolific producer’s legion of memorable films, Death Race 2000 has inspired a growing fan base that continues to propel the popular franchise as it marks the 40th anniversary of its original release.Death Race 2050

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“This is an amazing opportunity for me and millions of Death Race 2000 fans to experience the intensity, thrills and dark humor of the original, fueled by a terrific young cast, spectacular vehicles and side-splitting action, literally” said Corman, the trailblazing writer, director and producer. “Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050 puts the pedal to the metal to bring this enduring franchise to a whole new level.”

 

Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050 stars Manu Bennett (The Hobbit franchise) as Frankenstein, as well as Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) as the Chairman, Burt Grinstead (“NCIS”), Marci Miller (Viper), Folake  Olowofoyeku (The Beaver), Anessa Ramsey (Footloose), Yancy Butler (Hard Target) and Charlie Farrell (Cantar).Death Race 2050 (2016)

The film is directed by G.J. Echternkamp (Hard Candy)  from a script by Matt Yamashita (Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda) and G.J. Echternkamp, and produced by Roger Corman (Death Race 2000) and Luis Llosa (Anaconda).

 SYNOPSIS
In the not-too-distant future, America is controlled by an all-powerful corporate government that keeps the masses placated with violent virtual-reality entertainment. The event of the year is the Death Race, where a motley assortment of drivers compete in a cross-country road race, scoring points for running down pedestrians and killing each other. The reigning champion and popular favorite is half-man, half-machine Frankenstein — but little does he know he’s taken on a rebel spy as his co-pilot.Death Race 2050

BLU-RAYTM, DVD AND DIGITAL HD’s exclusive BONUS FEATURES:

  • The Making of 2050 – This featurette goes behind the scenes of Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050 to explore why, over four decades later, the original Death Race 2000 has been remade, including what made this project appealing to cast and crew, what changes have been made, and what fans of the original will still love. Discover the movie magic behind the deaths, stunts and of course — the cars! Includes interviews with stars, director G.J. Echternkamp and Corman himself._aaa8012-4
  • Cars! Cars! Cars!Death Race 2050 Go on the set with the drivers of Death Race 2050 as they introduce their one-of-a-kind killing machines: Frankenstein and his Monster, Perfectus and his Piece of Art, Tammy and the Tank, Minerva and her Sound Box and ABE.
  • The Look of 2050 – An insider look at how the film’s visual style came together, including how shooting in Peru helped set the tone of the picture and how the costumes became stars in and of themselves.Death Race 2050 (2016)

The Blu-ray Combo Pack includes a Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD with UltraViolet.

  • Blu-ray features a pristine high-definition picture, theater quality sound and  extras.
  • DVD offers the flexibility and convenience of playing movies in more places, both at home and away.
  • DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet™ lets you watch movies anywhere, and plays on your mobile devices.

Death Race 2050

 

About Universal 1440 Entertainment:
The Universal 1440 Entertainment banner develops and produces live-action and animated non-theatrical productions directly for distribution in all media worldwide. Since its formation in 2005, the group has assembled an exceptional roster of animated family fare, including the Daytime Emmy®–winning Curious George television series for PBS KIDS; the latest installment of the beloved The Land Before Time series, The Land Before Time: Tale of the Brave; as well as a string of hugely popular Barbie and Monster High movies, based on the world-renowned Mattel-branded properties. The group also has successfully built upon some of Universal’s highly celebrated live-action franchises, Scorpion King, Death Race, Jarhead, The Man With The Iron Fists and the terrifying Chucky movies, as well as debuting the Tony Award®–nominated hit touring stage production Bring It On: The Musical and the epic sci-fi adventure hit Tremors 5: Bloodlines. Among projects currently readying for release are the explosive action-adventure Jarhead 3: The Siege; the adrenaline-fueled actioner Hard Target 2, and the high-energy dance drama Honey 3.Death Race 2050

Universal 1440 Entertainment is a production entity of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE). Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE) is a unit of Universal Pictures, a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com). Universal Studios is part of NBCUniversal. NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.Death Race 2050

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ANY WAY I CAN: 50 YEARS IN SHOW BUSINESS by John Gay with Jennifer Gay Summers

SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE BOOK REVIEW

ANY WAY I CAN: 50 YEARS IN SHOW BUSINESS by John Gay with Jennifer Gay Summers

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$19.95 BEAR MANOR MEDIA 240 pages

Available via

http://www.jennifergaysummers.com/book.php

or
Available at BEAR MANOR MEDIA

 http://www.bearmanormedia.com/any-way-i-can-50-years-in-show-business-by-john-gay-with-jennifer-gay-summers

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Many people know the actors who star in their favorite shows and movies, and others know the directors. The person who is most forgotten is the writer, the person who basically creates the world in which the stories take place.

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One of these artists is screen, teleplay, and stage play writer John Gay. Now Mr. Gay, with the assist of one of his children, daughter Jennifer Gay Summers, has put out his autobiography.jennifer-gay-summers1

 

And what a fascinating life it is. The California born Mr. Gay talks about the lure of acting and how it drew him across country (after serving our country in WWII ) to become an actor. Working in summer stock, he soon gained a great deal of experience as well as meeting his partner and wife Barbara “Bobbie” Meyer.

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Venturing to New York, their attempts at gaining acting work led them to entering the new media of television ,broadcasting live several nights a week from the top of the New Amsterdam Theatre (the former home of the Ziegfeld Follies and now the House of Mouse where the hit musical ALADDIN currently resides).o

 

The show, APARTMENT 3C had only two actors (the husband and wife team) and due to the low budgets, Gay had to also write the shows himself! The program became the second show broadcast from fledgling station WOR in 1949. A modest hit, it gave John Gay not only an extra avenue for revenue but a career for which he would greatly excel.brewster_fig35

Their second show ,MR & MRS MYSTERY had a larger budget (they were allowed to hire other actors ) and Mr. Gay was able to parlay those into other writing assignments for the Golden Age of Television (KRAFT TELEVISON THEATRE ,PLAYHOUSE 90 )and crossing paths with such greats as Rod Sterling and Sidney Lumet.wor_tv_xmtr_room_color

 

His first screenwriting assignment was for the Burt Lancaster /Clark Gable submarine drama RUN SILENT RUN DEEP (1958/UA). His second screenplay earned him an Oscar nomination (along with co-writer Terrence Rattigan) for SEPARATE TABLES (1958/UA).h

 

From there he was now a full-fledged screenwriter, working with the likes of Vincente Minnelli (twice, neither of which were happy experiences) as well as actors like Rod Steiger (twice, in two gems well worth seeking out (NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY (1968 Paramount) and HENNESSY (AIP 1976)) and Paul Newman (SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION 1971/Universal).gd

 

He nearly worked with science fiction great Ray Bradbury on the troubled production of WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART, which remained unmade until Clint Eastwood and different writers turned it in a feature.

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In the 1970s, when television really began turning out movies of the week and adaptations of classics, Mr. Gay seemed to have been involved with almost every great production. Many of my well-remembered favorites had a title mentioning John Gay as the Adaptor or Teleplay By credit. KILL ME IF YOU CAN (NBC,1977) had Alan Alda embody killer Caryl Chessman ; Anthony Hopkins as THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (CBS HALLMARK ,1982) ; LES MISERABLES (CBS HALLMARK 1978) and so many others. Plus he did superior TV remakes of mystery classics DIAL M FOR MURDER (ABC, 1981) WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (CBS HALLMARK 1982), and SHADOW OF A DOUBT (NBC HALLMARK 1991). The list goes on and on .f

 

 

He took his skill as a story teller to the stage, having VINCENT PRICE remind people what a brilliant and versatile actor he truly was in DIVERSIONS & DELIGHTS, a play about Oscar Wilde. Price took the play all over the world, doing well everywhere but NYC (when the New York Times critics could still kill a show).

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Mr. Gay is a wonderful writer, telling his life story with wit, good grace and honesty. Indeed, it is one of the few books that I have read lately that I wish had been longer (Mr. Gay dismisses his work on the troubled George Pal science fiction film THE POWER (MGM, 1968) with just a line or two).b

Having turned 92 this past April,2016 , we are pleased that he and his daughter have shared his wonderful story with us. I have been careful not to give too much away so that you can discover the wonderful life of John Gay within the pages of ANY WAY I CAN.a

 

RECOMMENDED.

Kevin G Shinnick

Full Disclosure: I have been in contact with the author and his charming daughter for several years now as I attempted and finally successfully directed the first NYC Equity Production of DIVERSIONS & DELIGHTS in 35 years. The chapters 40 and 43 deal with this wonderful gem of a play.

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originally published March 30,2015  SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE Facebook page

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BLINDMAN – ABKCO dvd review

blindman-movie-poster-1972-1020377327BLINDMAN (Il Cieco ,Italy, November 15,1971 /U.S. release by 20th Century Fox Jan.15,1972)-color -105 minutes-release by ABKCO -$12.99-release date November 4,2016

https://www.amazon.com/Blindman-Ringo-Starr/dp/B01LXU311M/ref=pd_sbs_74_img_0/166-8333352-5114628?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=HTM8B2YSKEX4QFHXZ38R

“I want my fifty women.”

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The Spaghetti Western reigned from about 1964 until sometimes into the mid-1970s. While there had been, westerns filmed in Europe before and after that time, Sergio Leone’s Per un pugno di dollari/Por un puñado de dólares/Für eine Handvoll Dollar, best known as A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (released in Italy in September 12,1964, released in the U.S by United Artists) was the first international success of the Euro Western. Many of these films were produced multi-nationally via German, Yugoslavian, Spain, the U.S., even Israel, along with Italian producers.blindman-2

 

Usually in the Spaghetti Western, the definition of bad guys and the good guys, unlike the classic American films, became blurred. The level of violence also escalated. As the westerns went along, they also developed interesting eccentricities and characterizations. Also, a dark sense of humor permeated a lot of them. DJANGO (1966 Euro International) and the coffin exemplified these.
However, by the 1970s, Kung Fu films became the rage, and the westerns slowly rode off into the cinematic sunset. Before they did, they left us with BLINDMAN (ABKCO FILMS, released in 1971 in Italy,1972 U.S. via 20th Century Fox).

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BLINDMAN was a bit more violent than many of the westerns and had a great deal more nudity. The original American release was pared down to 84 minutes in some areas. I saw it upon its original release, due to the casting of Ringo Star as a Mexican Bandito(!)and seeing this new release from ABKCO, I do not recall the film being as explicit .westward_the_women

Many of the Spaghetti Westerns had inspirations in other films, and BLINDMAN seems inspired by WESTWARD THE WOMEN(MGM,1951). In WESTWARD, Robert Taylor (WATERLOO BRIDGE, MGM 1940) is consigned to deliver 140 (not 200 as the poster declares) mail order brides to California. Indian attacks, renegades, even natural disasters, dwindle the numbers. The film was a huge hit when it came out, though it is not well remembered today.

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Tony Anthony an American born actor who had a good career in Italian Westerns, and later help bring about the 3D revival with his film COMIN’ AT YA (U.S. release Filmways ,1981), stars as the title character and who also wrote the screenplay for BLINDMAN, however, seemed to have been at least partially inspired by it. For good measure, he mixed into the blend a bit of the legend of the blind masseuse/ swordsman, Zatoichi. First filmed in 1962 as THE TALE OF ZATOICHI ( Dalei Studios ),the long running series had already had 22 entries by the time BLINDMAN was into production.

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The Blindman (he seems to have no other name), it seems, was contracted to bring fifty women to some miners in Texas. However, his partners double cross him and bring the women to Mexico. Blindman thus needs to hunt down his associates, who often end up dead, as he tries to regain his female consignment and honor his contract.

Blindman sets up the film by establishing that he is indeed blind ,but no less deadly, when he blows up a character named Skunk(an unbilled Renato Romano, DEATH LAID AN EGG / La morteha fatto l’uovo,Italy 1968) and an unnamed compatriot and woman companion after Skunk lets Blindman know his cargo is now in Mexico with Domingo(American born Lloyd Batista,who had appeared in Tony Anthony ‘s THE STRANGER/Lo straniero di silenzio,Italy 1968 ),his brother Candy(Ringo Starr* )and their sister called Sweet Mama(Magda Konopka,WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH,WB 1970) and their gang.

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The bandits shower down the kidnapped women while Sweet Mama and Dominic discuss if Candy might want one of the captives. However, Candy is sweet (sorry about pun) on Pilar (Agneta Eckemyr, later to appear in ISLAND AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD (Disney, Dec 20,1974)). The women are being offered to a General (Raf Baldassare, who appeared in Mario Bava’s ERIK THE CONQUEROR/Gli Invasari, Italy 1961) and his drunken battalion.

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However, even more double crosses happen and El General is captured for ransom. More betrayals occur and more characters end up dead (including Ringo!), and The Blindman is at times caught and tortured.blindman12

The actors seem to be having a good time in their various roles. The women, however, to be blunt, are for the most part, sex objects, and spend a great deal of time being naked and pawed by the various cast members. Konopka, hints at a sick sadistic pleasure of watching this, and that she is closer to her brother Dominic that would be considered acceptable.cropped

The at times surreal western was directed by Ferdinando Baldi was a very busy in the 1960s through 1980s, jumping genres but most comfortable in the oater genre. He later would direct the two 3-D films that Anthony would write and star in. The film was lensed in Almeria, Spain, a desert like stretch that was used in numerous westerns as well as films like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (Columbia ,1962) and HOW I WON THE WAR (U.A. ,1967). In fact, Ringo had visited John Lennon on location there while Lennon was filming HOW I WON

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Music by Stelvio Cipriati, who had scored THE STRANGER RETURNS (Italy,1967) and is still scoring films today, does a Ennio Morricone -like score with a lot of jangly sounds and odd vocals. Ringo did not contribute to the soundtrack, though on the flipside of his song single “Back Off Boogaloo”, he wrote and performs a song called ‘Blindman” that sounds inspired by Cipriati’s score https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5EXfCMyibw

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Allen Klein, the head of ABKCO Films, was the former manager whom Paul McCartney blames for his exit from The Beatles. Ringo obviously had no ill will to Klein, and took the supporting role. Being the most famous name in the film, his prominence in ads and trailers was expanded. Ringo acquits himself quite well in the atypical bad guy role. (See trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5454Qe6uoaM )ringo-starr-and-allen-klein-holding-gun-spain-july-1971

     Ringo & Klein(holding gun) clowning on set.

The DVD transfer shows off cinematographer Riccardo Pallottini (CASTLE OF BLOOD/ Danza macabra, Italy,1964) sharp images, thanks to a HD transfer from an original 35mm negative. The film is also available as a digital download, though no word of any planned BLU RAY release (if they do ,perhaps a commentary by Anthony, or even Ringo?). Sound quality is a 5.1 transfer with no noticeable pops or hiss. The only extra on the DVD is a trailer.mpw-20184

BLINDMAN was one of those films that had been available on the gray market in variable quality prints. In fact, SCARLET reader John Crummett informed us when BLINDMAN was first announced for DVD that some time ago he had attended a screening of GET MEAN**(Italy ,1975, U.S. release through Cinemation)  at the Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood and director Tony Anthony himself doubted there would ever be an ever be an official release due to all the bootlegs. ( You can see how bad a typical bootleg looked here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l95IUUNnpjg )

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I am glad that Tony Anthony was wrong about that, and that the film is finally available in a good quality print. One small note about the ABKCO website- they really don’t sell their DVDs very well, concentrating more on their musical releases. The most important thing, though, is you can finally get BLINDMAN in a high-quality release.

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Recommended for Italian Western Fans, as well as Beatles completists.
Kevin G Shinnick

*-Was Ringo’s name CANDY a reference to his first non-Beatles film, CANDY (A.B.C/Cinerama ,1968)?candy1968

**-GET MEAN, also directed by Baldi with performances from Baldassare and Battista, is available on BLU RAY from BLUE UNDERGROUND.blu-bd-8005_l

PLEASE “LIKE ‘ and SHARE SCARLETTHEFILMMAGAZINE on WORD PRESS, as well as SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE REVIEWS on FACEBOOK, to get our latest reviews and articles. Also ,check out our earlier reviews and articles starting with https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2015/10/

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ROCK ‘N’ROLL MONSTERS: THE AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL STORY

ROCK ‘N’ROLL MONSTERS: THE AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL STORY by Bruce Hallenbeck (Hemlock Books) paperback pages 280 published August ,2016

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U.K. £16.25 http://www.hemlockbooks.co.uk/Shop/category/7
U.S.: $47.85   https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Monsters-American-International/dp/0993398936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477073892&sr=8-1&keywords=rock+n+roll+monsters

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Author /film historian Bruce Hallenbeck has published another must have book for lovers of movies. After giving us wonderful books on many of the British companies Amicus and Hammer, Bruce Hallenbeck turns his focus on the little upstart company that grew and challenged the majors in areas where they could not or did not compete. American International Pictures finally began to become a major, only to find that the other studios were now churning out higher end versions of the type of movies that AIP had done, and so the studio vanished into corporate buyouts after 26 years.aiplogo001

AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES began when studios began to lose audiences to television. Small independent producers began to create their own films outside the studio system after the United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., 334 US 131 (1948) forced theatres to divest themselves from owning theatres and keeping out other producers.aip_logo_2_4200

Rock ‘n’ Roll Monsters: The American International Story is a 2016 book by Bruce G Hallenbeck (The Amicus Anthology; The Hammer Frankenstein; The Hammer Vampire), published by British-based Hemlock Books.
In the early 1950s, the traditional American film industry was facing a crisis due to one thing: television. Two men from totally different backgrounds pooled their talents and tapped into the burgeoning ‘teenage’ market, and American International Pictures was born.gw228h126

Founded by James H. Nicholson, a fantasy /science fiction horror fan (he had known Forrest J Ackerman since High School and had even published an early fanzine together) who had worked his way through the industry up to writing campaigns for Realart’s re-releases of Universal horror classics.

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When Realart distributed MAN MADE MONSTER (Universal,1941) under the title ATOMIC MONSTER*, producer Alex Gordon had a script with the same title, he sought a legal settlement. The lawyer he brought had been seeking an entrance into film production by the name of Samuel Z. Arkoff. Arkoff got Gordon a $500 settlement but more important the three men all hit it off with their similar love of making movies. In a strange way, Universal had created a monster that rose to challenge their status as a maker of creature features.james
Nicholson and Arkoff sought completed product to start their new company. They had tested the waters with a small documentary in 1953 called OPERATION MALAYA released by their company AMERICAN RELEASING CORPORATION. **     The man credited as producer on that film also became an important component to the company’s development, Herman Cohen.

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However, the company had its first real success when they met the filmmaker who made them a viable entity, Roger Corman. The filmmaker had a film called THE FAST & THE FURIOUS (1954, released nationally in 1955). He had been thinking of having another studio distribute his film, but after being taken around by Nicholson to the various sub distributors, he was so impressed that he decided to take a chance with the new company.

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With borrowed money to keep the doors open, the film became profitable enough that company was off and running. The studio was also smart enough to capitalize on a market that the major studios were neglecting, teenagers.

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While many of their early films starred older performers, as the company developed, younger actors took the spotlight and became the heroes and heroines. Young audiences responded with their newly available dollars.
As the 1960s began, the studios moved into more expensive productions, and made Edgar Allan Poe a hot property.
Bruce Hallenbeck tells the story of the studio with clarity and affection, and has done a lot of research. His choice of mostly British lobby cards is most welcome to an American fan of the genre such as myself.

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Towards the final portion of the book, there is a sense of rushing to the end. That may be because of editorial choices wishing to keep the book under the mass of a Stephen King novel. One wishes that the author had been allowed to expand his research into two books, as there is a very rich history. Also, except for a few brief references, Nicholson’s contribution to the success of the company is often overlooked and Arkoff’s a bit overblown. Several people felt that Nicholson was the creative force behind the studio, and several of the artists disliked dealing with the crude Arkoff.

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That said, the book, like all of Hallenbeck’s studio studies as well as Hemlock Books, is definitely worth picking up.
Recommended.983210008d258dcf6b992681e83b3c4e
-Kevin G Shinnick

 
*-This was a script that Alex Gordon had co-written with Ed Wood that was also known as ‘Bride of The Atom” before finally being titled BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (1955, released through Banner Productions, oddly, not ARC / A.I.P.)ghost-in-the-invisible-bikini-still-gorilla

**-if you were not a major company, you had your film distributed by several small regional sub distributors.

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1930S, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, cult, Film Detective, FILM NOIR, friend, genre, Hammer Films, Hitchcock, Horror, humor, RICHARD VALLEY, Uncategorized

NINE YEARS ON

NINE YEARS ON

It is hard for me to grasp still but that it has been nine years since writer, playwright, editor, publisher, actor, and friend RICHARD VALLEY passed away.

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What I wrote quickly then
http://scarletstreet.yuku.com/topic/4623/SADDEST-NEWS-I-VE-HAD-TO-POST-HERE?page=1#.V_47YvkrLIU

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SADDEST NEWS I VE HAD TO POST HERE-

Posts: 15257
Oct 12 07 11:37 AM

RICHARD VALLEY, SCARLET STREET EDITOR, has passed away at age 58.

He leaves behind a beloved mother, and his love of over a quarter century,
Tommy Amorosi.

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Since then, many other fanzines have ceased publications, many other friends in the genre have gone on to join him in the great beyond, and many of the issues that were important to him have become political fodder once again.

To me, though, it is a personal loss of a man who was a great true and loyal friend who could irritate the hell out of me and then move one with his extreme generosity and kindness.

I have been lucky to have had four truly great friends in my existence, and though now two have departed, I still cherish them all.

I hope that each and every one of you is fortunate enough to know or have known such a shining presence in your life.
-Kevin G Shinnickscarlet-issue-55

Feel free to share any memories that you have of Richard and SCARLET STREET.

I hope you enjoy the https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/    and share it with your friends.

richard-valley

BIG THANKS to JOHN C STOSKOPF for preserving SCARLET STREET and painstakingly scanning them to post them online for people to enjoy the work of Richard and so many contributors.  http://scarletstreetmagazine.blogspot.com/

https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/remembering-where-we-come-from-rest-in-peace-richard-valley/?preview_id=2richardvalley

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1970s, BLUE UNDERGROUND, CAMP, Canadian, Carol Lynley, cult, Harry Alan Towers, international, Jack Palance, John Ireland, SCIENCE FICTION, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, wierd

Shape Of Things To Come(79)Blu Ray – Blue Underground

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SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (1979)98 mins. Color. BLUE UNDERGROUND BLU-RAY. ALL REGION. Release Date: September 27, 2016 PRICE: $29.98 http://www.blue-underground.com/product.php?product=272

Many years ago, John Mathews (the News Hound) & I took a 45-minute walk to a now long demolished theatre in Hackensack NJ to see a new Science Fiction film. It was the height of the great science fiction craze that had exploded in movies, books, comics and television since STAR WARS( Fox ,1977) hit the scene.images
We should have known something was up when the two of us were the ONLY audience members. However, we settled back to have our private showing, hoping for the best. Well, we enjoyed, but for all the wrong reasons. Remember the audience reaction in THE PRODUCERS(Embassy,1967)? tumblr_n2evlqgunn1sbf1mqo5_500I am sure that our faces somewhat resembled that. About 45 minutes in, the screen suddenly went black, and the manager came down and said if we would take two tickets for a future film, they could all go home early. John & I happily accepted.

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Now, in 2016, I finally get to see the entire film. There was no offer for a refund this time, though, even though I got through the entire picture.
H.G. WELL’S THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME, to give the film it’s full onscreen title, was a film that referenced the great writer’s 1935 treatment that became the Alexander Korda THINGS TO COME. *

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Released in 1936, the film was the 16th most popular U.K. film of 1935-36. However, the film fared less well at the U.S. box office and so was viewed as a box office failure. Now it acknowledged as a classic and admired for how prophetic Wells was at his prediction of a second World War (he was only off by a few months).
The 1979 film was a Harry Alan Towers (international film producer whose product ran the gamut  of quality from classic TEN LITTLE INDIANS(WB,1965) to dire (SHE,Prophecy,2001)production funded using private investors and the Canadian Capital Cost Allowance of 1974.

 

This allowed investors to deduct 100% of their investment in feature films that were certified Canadian. To earn that designation, a film had to be at least 75 minutes long, have at least one producer and 2/3 of the “above the line” creative team be Canadian as well as 75% of production and post be done in the country. **

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Canada had had some science fiction tv in the 1950’s (a young James Doohan starred briefly in SPACE COMMAND(CBC,1953) which also had a guest appearance by William Shatner! ) but for the most part there was not a lot of Canadian film science fiction product. Their previous science fiction “epic”, STARSHIP INVASIONS (1977, Hal Roach/W.B.) had an inflatable spaceship and Christopher Lee in a very unflattering spandex outfit and Robert Vaughn missing the high standards of TEENAGE CAVEMAN (A.I.P.,1958).f468f96c9cdb160d7b6f0e0a576be273-1

Photo: Andrew AnthonyPhotography Date: November 1953.

Photo: Andrew AnthonyPhotography Date: November 1953.

 

 

SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME was not a lot better. The film has almost NOTHING to do with Wells, except having a Dr. John Caball (Barry Morse), wherein there was Raymond Massey as John Cabal/Oswald Cabal (one” L”).

 

The “plot” set in the future has Earth recovering from devastating war, forcing the human race to flee and inhabit the moon. To survive mankind needs an anti-radiation drug called ‘Raddic-Q2”, produced only on a faraway planet called DELTA 3 (as opposed to spice from Dune?).

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A cargo ship from Delta 3 is deliberately crashed into New Washington by self-proclaimed New Emperor Omus (Jack Palance, who must have been in deep to H.A. Towers, having worked for him since 1969’s JUSTINE(AIP) and later in the misogynistic GOR (Cannon,1987)).

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The master computer Lomax (voiced by the Laurence Olivier of Canadian theatre, William Hutt) feels a counter -strike would be imprudent.screen-shot-2010-10-25-at-3-27-33-pm Senator Smedley (John Ireland, THE HOUSE OF SEVEN CORPSES, Int. Amusement Corp,1974 ),however, secretly disagrees , and sends a crew off in the space vessel Starstreak to stop Omus .

The crew is made up of  Dr Caball(Barry Morse ,who had appeared in the Canadian WESTWORLD(MGM, 1973) rip-off ,WELCOME TO BLOOD CITY(EMI,1977)with Palance, but is best known for chasing Richard Kimble on t.v.’s THE FUGITIVE (Q.Martin,1963-1967) and, perhaps the reason he was hired for this film, SPACE 1999 (1975-77,ITC ) ),hqdefault-1Caball’s son Jason (Nicholas Campbell, later quite effective in David Cronenberg’s THE DEAD ZONE ,Paramount,1983)and Smedley’s daughter Kim (Anne-Marie Martin billed here as Eddie Benton .Later Ms. Martin starred in the cult horror film THE BOOGENS(Taft Int.,1981)).

 

Caball is accidentally exposed to radiation within the ships reactor room but keeps this information to himself as to not jeopardize the mission.
Also on the ship is “Sparks”, a malfunctioning robot rescued from the crashed spaceship from Delta 3. Sparks ranks among the most annoying robots in film history, or as a friend called him,”the Jar Jar Binks of mechanicals“.vlcsnap-00005
Starstreak malfunctions (this film is full of malfunctioning machinery, making one suspect that writers Martin Lager, Mike Cheda, and Joseph Glazner were secret neo-Luddites) and the vessel is forced to land upon Earth. There they find  children who have survived on Earth  after the Robot Wars. Finishing their repairs, the space voyagers  promise to return once their mission is complete.

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Meanwhile, back on Delta 3, the rightful Governor Nikki (Carol Lynley, a long way from THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, Fox,1972) is trying to lead a revolt against Omus and his robots.the-shape-of-things-to-come-20 However, her inept fighters are soon overcome by the clunky collection of clanking  robots controlled by the evil Omus.
Starstreak is racing towards Delta 3 at light speed, when it encounters a space anomaly that threatens to destroy the ship. The weightlessness scene does not even go for wire work, but instead as a slightly tilted camera angle as the actors WALK to the other side of the shot.shape_05
They survive (you doubted it?) and finally reach their destination, only to be surrounded by Omus’ robots, while a giant Hologram of Omus appears in the sky above them (an effect that appears as if a video camera was used as Palance sat in a chair slowly spinning in a chair reciting his threats).shapeofthingstocome3 Caball demands to meet with Omus and the villain surprisingly agrees. Caball is bought to Omus who does stock villain rant #3 that fails to move the Doctor to join the dark side. So, Omus dons a helmet and turns torture device whose sound will painfully kill Caball. The device- a spinning disco light (no kidding).

Jason & Kim get to Caball too late to save the Doctor, but Kim discovers that the scientist had radiation sickness and would soon have died anyway (that makes it better??) Jason is captured by Omus and his robots and was about to be subjected to the same torture disco ball when suddenly Sparks has all of the robots turn on Omus. Donning the helmet, Jason gives Omus get a dose of his own medicine until he discovers that the planet is about to explode.the-shape-of-things-to-come-61

Sparks teleports onto one of Omus’ ships to take over the control system .Sparks takes the cargo ship full of Raddic -Q2 off as explosions begin to rip through the city. The remaining humans get back to the Starstreak just in time and lift off as the planet explodes, taking care of Omus and his evil robots.

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But wait, it has also destroyed the only planet where Raddic -Q2 comes from? What will happen when the cargo ship’s supply runs out? Oh well, don’t think on that, just run the end credits.

The film is definitely a product of the 1970s, with the jumpsuit outfits, the square computer buttons and green computer screens. The space ship model work is surprisingly good shape_07(Wally Gentleman had worked on 2001(MGM ,1968)), but the robots, however, are throwbacks to the arm waving cardboard wearing creations from THE PHANTOM EMPIRE(Mascot,1935), only with less charm in their design.

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shape_11The film has the flat white look of a lot of tv science fiction of the time, most notably the Saturday morning SPACE ACADEMY (Filmation,1977-79, with Jonathan Harris) or JASON OF STAR COMMAND (Filmation,1978, starring —James Doohan).
The acting goes from competent(Campbell) to better than the role  deserves (Ann-Marie Martin) to “I’m just here for the paycheck” (John Ireland) to “Oo I see scenery I’m chewing it “(Palance and Morse).

 

That could be blamed on the indifferent direction by George McGowan (who also directed the cult classic FROGS(AIP,1972) as well as the so so horror film SHADOW OF THE HAWK (Columbia,1976).

 

The music is definitely disco era by Paul Hoffert (who wrote a much more effective score for GROUNDSTAR CONSPIRACY (1972, Universal)), even to the damn drum machines.

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Now, to the Blu Ray, BLUE UNDERGROUND has done an exceptionally fine job of making this film look as sharp and as clear as it has ever looked or sounded. They have created an all new Hi Def print from the original negative and a 5.1. surround sound mix DTS-HD & DTS-HD Mono. There are also optional subtitles in English, Spanish & French.

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Blu Ray Extras include:
JASON’S JOURNEY-Interview with star Nicholas Campbell. (made for the Blu Ray release). The still active actor has fond memories of going from acting with Laurence Olivier to working on this film, with a special note about Jack Palance and his need for “weed”.

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SYMPHONIES IN SPACE- Interview with composer Paul Hoffert (made for the blu ray release) The composer talks proudly of his score, and how his floating in space theme is still used by ice skaters, as well as his use of a then new toy drum machine.

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Additional extras ported over from the DVD release of 2004 are
A French Trailer
A Film Ventures TV Spot (rated PG).
A Posters & Still Gallery

There are those who will appreciate the campy charm of the film and its cheesy effects and hammy acting by some of the stars.

I, for one, am not one of them.
Kudos, though, to Blue Underground for their usual high caliber restoration of an obscure title.

-Kevin G Shinnick

*Wells screenplay of Things to Come was based on two of his books, “Shape of Things to Come “(1933) and “The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind” (1931). He originally titled the screen treatment “Wither Mankind?”.

*- the CCA was reduced to 50% in 1982 and the Canadian film boom was over.

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