1980s, Arrow Video, Blu Ray, cult, dvd, film, genre, gore, Horror, independent, monsters, reviews, thriller, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized

THE SLAYER,1982 (Arrow Blu Ray/DVD combo release)

THE SLAYER (Arrow U.S. DVD/Blu Ray Combo) $39.98 s.r.p. Color .1982. https://vinegarsyndrome.com/shop/the-slayer-arrow-films/

Back in 1985, while I was managing a video store, horror films were among the biggest rentals.

The major studios had started putting out more and more of their product, so indies had to think of new ways to make their titles stand out.

One of the ways was the larger sized video boxes. Continental Video (1984-87), one of the smaller companies, released 63 titles during their short existence, and quite a few were interesting titles for cult and horror fans, among them TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER (Hammer ,1976), DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (Gemini-Maron,1971) and THE RETURN OF THE ALIENS /aka THE DEADLY SPAWN (Filmline, 1983).

Their large boxes with often garish colors stood out on the shelves. The company also began to release double features (edited for time though not for gore or nudity to fit on one tape) and a lower price point to appeal to store owners.

One of them was SWEET SUGAR (Dimension 1972)/ESCAPE FROM WOMEN’S PRISON (aka HELL HOLE, Phillipines,1978), a woman in prison co-feature.

The other was THE SLAYER (21st Century Film Corp.,1982) and Fred Olen Ray’s SCALPS (21st Century Film Corp.,1983). Both had been edited down to 75 minutes each from 90 minutes and 82 minutes respectively.

Even in their edited forms, these two films were better than a lot of the indie horror stuff that was filling the shelves at the time.

Fred Olen Ray got the rights back to his third feature, and released a beautiful uncut blu ray of the movie through his company Retromedia. Now, thanks to Arrow U.S., we can give a proper evaluation to THE SLAYER.

Kay (Sara Kendall) is a surrealistic artist who has suffered from bizarre nightmares since childhood. Her husband (Alan McRae), a doctor, decides that she needs to get away, and so they go to a remote island, along with Kay’s brother Eric (Frederick Flynn) and his wife Brooke (Carol Kottenbrook). They are flown to the remote place by Marsh (Michael Holmes). Kay is disturbed to see that on the island that the house in which they are staying and an abandoned theatre both are featured in her dreams and her subsequent paintings. The others dismiss it as just an odd co-incidence.

As they are settling in, Marsh tells them that a storm is coming, and that they should all leave.

Of course, they decide to stay, and one by one, they are picked off in gruesome fashion.

The brief synopsis I gave I am sure does not sound that original, and indeed, it isn’t if you have ever seen a horror film involving a group of isolated people.

What makes this film stand above so many other films of the era is its execution (pun intended).

The film’s main characters, for one, are not just a bunch of horny teens but married couples with jobs (Eric even shoots television commercials). The actors are also better than many of the screaming teens featured in so many of the flood of Friday The 13th rip offs that invaded theatres and home video at the time (lead Sarah Kendall we are told on the commentary track had been a stage actress, and after a small role in THE KARATE KID PART TWO (Columbia,1986) she seems to have done no further film work. I cannot seem to find any stage credits for her, nor is she to be confused with an Australian comedienne with the same name.).

The film also has a slicker, more European style than other horror films made in the U.S., which we find out on one of the commentary tracks was intentional.

The film also has a dream demon that comes into our dimension while Kay sleeps, two years before Wes Craven’s A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (New Line,1984).

Indeed, the effects are still quite impressive, especially the final creature suit (this is not a spoiler, as it is featured on almost all artwork or video release covers previously, as well as in beautiful cover art on this new ARROW U.S. Blu Ray/DVD combo pack).

For one thing, the original theatrical release was a shoddy cheap print run, and the colors were quite muddy as well as quite dark imagery. On the Continental release, this was the print used for their full frame (and, as noted, edited) vhs edition.

Now, ARROW has gone all out and given this little sleeper (see what I did there?) the treatment that makes the film look better than it even did on its original release. (note: review is based upon BLU RAY screener.)

They have given us a REGION FREE High Definition (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation from a 4K scan of the original negative.

The 1:85:1 composition truly shows off the marvelous cinematography by Karen Grossman (who handled similar duties on 18 episodes of MONSTERS (Laurel Productions,1988-90), with rich colors, as well as being able to see information previously hard to discern in older prints.

The Mono audio sound is crisp and clear. There was no punching up the tracks nor was there need to.

As to extras:
The original theatrical trailer.

The optional English subtitles for the hard of hearing are excellent in their descriptive quality and match the dialogue perfectly.

There are two running audio commentaries:

The first features a fact filled track moderated by Ewan Cant (Arrow disc producer and knowledgeable horror fan) along with writer /director J.S. Cardone (this was his first effort, but he has continued in the genre with productions such as the vampire flick, THE FORSAKEN (Screen Gems,2001)), actress Carol Kottenbrook (later to marry the director,  now a producer in her own right) and executive in charge of production Eric Weston (producer/ director of EVILSPEAK, The Moreno Co.,1981). The discussion is lively, and their recollections of the production are for the most part positive and informative about shooting in Georgia, casting, and a great deal about the effects done live on set.

The second commentary track is from a group known as the Hysteria Continues podcast. I had never heard of them before, but they are a group of U.K. friends who are quite knowledgeable about genre films, especially slasher movies.

They comment about how they first discovered this movie, about the whole Video Nasty nonsense thanks to nutcase Mary Whitehouse, and that this was one of the 72 films outright banned in 1983, but was never prosecuted, and later reissued with 14 seconds cut of a pitchfork murder.

They are as of this week up to their 150 podcasts https://player.fm/series/the-hysteria-continues# if you would like to check them out.

There is an isolated selection of the score and an audio interview Michael Felsher (Red Shirt Pictures documentaries) with composer Robert Folk (a Julliard graduate, best known for the POLICE ACADEMY (Warner Brothers,1984) theme. Their discussion about how the score was constructed was very interesting and quite unique.

Not enough extras? How about these new documentaries:

Nightmare Island: The Making of THE SLAYER “- this a nearly hour long featurette that covers some of the info from the first audio commentary, but also builds and adds to it, with new interviews with Cardone,Kottenbrook,Weston ,as well director of photography Karen Grossman , camera operator Arledge Armenaki (HOWLING V,Vestron,1989) effects wizard Robert Short (who had begun on ALLIGATOR ,Group 1,1980 makeup effects and is active still on special effects for major films like THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. ,W.B.,2015) and the man in the creature costume, Carl Kraines .

Return to Tybee: The Locations of THE SLAYER” – a return to the locations used in the film on Tybee Island, Georgia, including the original house which many of the crew thought was haunted.

The Tybee Post Theater Experience”– the theater used in the film held a recent screening and the locals react and have a Q & A with Ewan Cant and Arledge Armenaki.

-A slide show picture Gallery.

The first Pressing only will have a collector’s booklet featuring a film overview by Lee Gambin (horror historian, author of Massacred by Mother Nature: Exploring the Natural Horror Film; Midnight Marquee Press, Inc. October 8, 2012).

A Reversible sleeve featuring a beautiful cover by Justin Osbourn.

This is a must have for fans of horror films of the 1980s and kudos to ARROW U.S. for their amazing dedication to this film that is deserving of rediscovery.

-Highly Recommended.

Kevin G Shinnick

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DE LIFT/THE LIFT and DOWN(THE SHAFT) Blu Ray/DVD Combo packs from Blue Underground

THE LIFT/DE LIFT 1983(Ltd Ed Blu Ray/DVD combo)Blue Underground $39.98 region 0
Color / 99 min. Dutch /English

https://www.amazon.com/Lift-Limited-Combo-Blu-ray-Stapel/dp/B074BNZP7G/

DOWN -2001 (Ltd Edition Blu Ray /DVD combo ) Blue Underground $39.98 region 0
Color /111 minutes English
https://www.amazon.com/Down-Shaft-Limited-Combo-Blu-ray/dp/B074BNB14B/

Back in 1982, ‘Twilight Zone” by Golden Earring was a music video in constant rotation on the new channel MTV. The catchy tune  referenced the
popular TV.series as a suspected spy is caught and interrogated . Several music video directors went on to make popular fantasy films ,such as David Fincher ,Russell Mulcahy, and Alex Proyas.

Also among them was Dutch director,writer,producer, and musician Dick Maas. Since then he has given us many Dutch thrillers and horror films like AMSTERDAMNED(1988,also available from BLUE UNDERGROUND https://www.amazon.com/Amsterdamned-Limited-Combo-Blu-ray-Stapel/dp/B071GW2L2Z/ ), SINT (SAINT) 2010,up to 2016’s PROII (PREY). His films are marked by their style as well as dark humor that permeates them.

His first film that drew him to international attention was DE LIFT . In a modern apartment building in Amsterdam, strange things are happening ,most of which seem to involve the bank of elevators . The company who are responsible for the maintenance of the three conveyers (or lift of the title ) send Felix Adelaar (Huub Stapel ,later to star in MaasAMSTERDAMNED )to check out the systems.

While working, he runs into reporter Mieke de Boer (Willeke van Ammelrooy, star of the art house hit and Oscar winning ANTONIA’s LINE ,1996)who is investigating the strange events.

Among the occurrences are two drunken couples who are trapped in an elevator while the heat increases to dangerous levels , a blind man who falls into an empty shaft (and which the building owners declare is a suicide) ,and the gruesome decapitation of a security guard .

The more the Felix & Mieke investigate, the more strange things become. Is the company RISING SUN,who provides microprocessors for the system ,somehow involved with the strange things?

 

Their detection leads to Adelaar’s wife leaving him and taking the children, thinking that he is having an affair with the journalist. His boss also suspends him. Felix has nothing to lose as he goes to building one final time to find out what is happening and confront the evil within.

DE LIFT seemed to have done well in Europe, but it was not as well received in the United States.

Released to a limited number of theaters in July ,1985 , critics were indifferent to the foreign title ( “Mr. Maas leaves the elevator’s potential fiendishness largely unexploited.”-NY Times,July 4,1985)and 6 year old distributor Island Alive folded shortly after .)

Luckily ,video stores were booming and Media Home Entertainment released it on VHS in 1986 in a dubbed version, and in 1988 through their foreign film division Cinematheque Collection in a Dutch language subtitled print.

Maas continued to create wonderfully off kilter films through his First Floor Features .He creates three popular Dutch comedies and a T.V. series (FLODDER)as well as the marvelous already mentioned AMSTERDAMNED (1988) and even an episode of the THE YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES (‘Transylvania Transmission”).

It seems that for years people kept after Maas to do a sequel or a remake to DE LIFT. Finally in 2000, Maas raised sufficient funds (fifteen million Euros) for a larger version that expands on several of the ideas from the original film, and hires American actors as the leads as well as several marvelous character roles.

While set in New York City , the majority of the film was shot in Holland on some of the biggest sets ever built for a Dutch film .Some street scenes and aerial photography were the bulk of the American footage. The blending is for the most part flawless, and even the Dutch actors blend in convincingly in this English language film.

In DOWN (also known as THE SHAFT ,which makes one expect it to be a film about Richard Roundtree ), the setting is in a modern NYC skyscraper. In the Millennium Building, one of the elevators malfunctions and traps a group of pregnant women ,overheating the air and several of them give birth !

The building managers call in the Meteor company that maintains the elevators, who send Jeff (Eric Thal ,Sam Nevins in Buena Vista’s adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s THE PUPPET MASTERS,1994 ) and his new young assistant Mark Newman (James Marshall ,who is best known for portraying James Hurley in the original and revival of TWIN PEAKS )to check them out. Newman wants to do a more in depth review of the systems ,but his partner feels that will be too much of an inconvenience to the building, and expensive. Mr Milligan (Edward Herrmann, LOST BOYS ,W.B. 1987),the building owner, agrees.

Not long after that , a blind man and his seeing eye dog fall (literally) victim to the killer machines. One of the security guards who finds the corpses hanging in the shaft gets his head caught in the door and decapitated when the elevator descends .

Reporter Jennifer Evans (Naomi Watts, later to star in Peter Jackson’s epic KING KONG ,Universal,2005) starts to investigate, and she interviews Newman ,quoting him in her article as saying “ 9 out of 10 people make it out of an elevator alive.”

Newman is chewed out by his boss ,Mitchell (the always wonderful Ron Perlman, HELLBOY,Columbia,2004). Shortly thereafter, another bizarre death happens ,when a skateboarder is pulled supernaturally into an elevator and within seconds hurled up to the 86th floor, and then flung out violently ,through a glass partition and off to the ground below .

A press conference is held by Milligan and Police Lt McBain (Dan Hedaya,THE USUAL SUSPECTS, MGM,1996). The official statement is that the skateboarder committed suicide, and that it had nothing to with the previous accidents .

Evans does not believe it ,and she visits Newman’s home .She has gotten several surveillance tapes, and it shows the skater’s death. Most mysterious, the elevator trip, which should take at least 40 seconds, is accomplished in less than two!

Jeff refuses to believe them ,and so they go to Evan’s newspaper office . Their research keeps bringing up the name of a researcher named Gunther Steinberg (Michael Ironside, forever typecast as a villain thanks to his brilliant work in SCANNERS,Avco Embassy ,1981). Gunther ,who had worked with the army on mixing dolphin brain mass with electronic circuits ,was hired by the elevator company to develop microchips .

The next morning Milligan is horrified when he has the body of Jeff drop through the ceiling of the elevator he was occupying. Jeff had probably been checking the elevators but Milligan and company use his death as a means of scapegoating. At the conference, they call Jeff deranged and say that he had been responsible for all the events, and probably died trying to set up another incident.

The story is believed and the building conducts business as usual. That is ,however, until one elevator speeds upward, the bottom dropping out and passengers, including a small child, fly helplessly downward to their doom . Those who hang on are not safe, as the container hurls at extreme speed through the roof ,stopping with a crushing Impact.

The President of The United States holds a White House press conference ,where he announces he feels that the events are due to terrorists and a terrorist team is sent to protect and prevent any further incidents.

Evans and Mitchell continue to investigate the bizarre history of the building, and the experiments of Steinberg .

Since the Army let him go, it seems that he has continued,only now their may be human DNA ,and the chips have become sentient, and evil.

Can they get in the building, pass the militia and Steinberg to stop the evil ? The film ends like a supernatural DIE HARD (Fox,1988)

DOWN was given a token release by Buena Vista International on May 20,2001. It seems to have come and gone quickly ,and the home video rights were acquired by Artisan . It seemed to have also made little impact on the dwindling video store market ,and with fandom .

Now BLUE UNDERGROUND has done stellar work on finding the best material possible on these two films, and put them on Blu Ray.

THE LIFT is a 1080p HD resolution print 2 K restoration from the original negative , presented in 1:66:1 wide-screen.The film is available in it’s original Dutch Language (5.1 DTS-HD or 2.0 DTS-HD) or English (2.0 DTS-HD). The sound is very clean and clear, with sound effects and original music jumping out at certain points.

Dick Maas also composed the score , and it is one of those now dated sounding synth scores as well as electronic whooshes and sounds .

The English track uses terms like “lift” (a direct translation of the title)rather the more common American usage.

The subtitles seem to be based upon a direct translation of the Dutch dialogue ,as it does not always match the English language dialogue. They are clear and easy to read. There are also English SDH and Spanish subtitles as well.

Other extras are :

-A running commentary by director Dick Maas and editor Hans van Dongen who talk about the difficulties of making this film on a 350,000 Euros budget.

-”Going Up” an interview with star Huub Stapel

-”Long Distance”-a short 4 minute short that has the feel of a Twilight Zone episode ,wherein a father who has had a car accident, calls his home and speaks to his daughter . Beautifully filmed and acted.

-Trailers from the U.S. and Holland

-A poster and still gallery .

-a nice newly written essay booklet by by writer /filmmaker Chris Alexander . He nicely covers the film ,plus discusses the more relaxed mores of European filmmakers about sex and nudity as well as comparisons to Stephen King works about machines gone wrong. He prefers the original film to the 2001 remake.

For DOWN , the film is also a brand new 2K restoration from the original negative, 1080p HD Resolution , presented in a 2.35.1 wide-screen all region print .

The audio is available in the original English as well as French in both 5.1 DTS-HD or Dolby Digital Stereo .

The sound is more mixed for multi speaker presentation (due no doubt to it’s larger budget ),with sounds being very crisp and clean.

The Yellow Subtitles are easy to read, though whomever wrote them , they need to learn the difference between “Your “ and “You’re” .

Spanish subtitles are also available.

Other extras include :

A running audio commentary with Maas and stunt coordinator Willem de Beukelaer . Maas at times seems to have forgotten how certain scenes were done ,but is reminded by de Beukelaer (an example is the opening shot that moves from C.G.I.  and model shots to the live action.On the extras ,we see how the shot was accomplished.More on that later.). It is fascinating to hear the two say how they have worked together since AMSTERDAMMED ,and the difficulties of doing a film like this. The recreations of New York interiors is perfect ,and it seems the diner was actual functional (too bad they didn’t move it to an actual building.I am sure it would have been a hit with tourists to have an American diner in Amsterdam!).

The same director of photography (Marc Felperlaan )worked on both films ,and they recreate some shots ,while using a little C.G.I. to blend between the real actors and effects(such as the beheading in the elevator).

The director seemed to have had disagreement with Marshall on the exact tone of the film, but it does not come across in the finished production.

Director Maas mentions that the film opened the weekend before 9/11, but he is referring to the European opening. It seems it opened well, but after the events, the film did no business.

It is easy to see why. A New York Skyscraper ,people falling to their death, the President referring to terrorists (dialogue was actually copied from President Bill Clinton referencing the Feb 26,1993 bomb attack on the Twin Towers). It is quite creepy ,and not in the way the film intended. Needless the film ended up being a financial failure.

The use of Aerosmith’s “Love In An Elevator” was a big expense but is a nice button to the film.

Other extras are

The Making of Down : a behind the scene look at the making of the film, including the construction of the huge sets, and the mix of CGI and live action,as well as the various stunts.

The Blu Ray exclusive is a more detailed behind the scenes documentary.

-There is also the American teaser and theatrical trailers.

-A poster and still Gallery

– A Collectible booklet with a new essay by Michael Gingold.

 

Both films have much to recommend them . The original has a nice gritty quality to it , though oddly, I lean more to the slicker American remake. It is probably because of the expanded story-line plus the dark humor comes more to the fore . The remake does seem to fluctuate as to whether there is a supernatural element or is it a sci fi A.I. story (or both) , but it doesn’t take away from the film.

Maas handles possessed machinery better than Stephen King film adaptations like MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE (1986,D.E.P.). It also predated supernatural skyscraper films like the little seen  DARK TOWER (Sandy Howard, 1987 ;directed by Freddie Francis (as Ken Barnett), Ken Wiederhorn  (as Ken Barnett)(!!) starring Jenny Agutter and Michael Moriarty) and elevator terror films like DEVIL (Universal,2010) or ELEVATOR ( Inception ,2011) .

 

I would definitely recommend both films ,especially if you wish to see an example where a foreign director remakes his film in English and doesn’t mess it up (a la THE VANISHING (Argos Films,1988  and  Fox,1993).

Both Recommended.
.
-Kevin G Shinnick

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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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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

n

$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

m

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.

john-gay

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.

l
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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1980s, Action Adventure, Blu Ray, cult, fantasy, Fred Ward, genre, Joel Grey, Orion Pictures, The Destroyer, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Twilight Time Blu Ray

REMO WILLIAMS ( Blu Ray from Twilight Time)

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REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS (Twilight Time) Blu-Ray Regions: A/B/C $29.95 -1985, color, PG-13 Action-Adventure ,121 minutes. http://www.twilighttimemovies.com/remo-williams-the-adventure-begins-blu-ray/

 

From 1978 until 1999, Orion Pictures was a studio that made several brilliant films that sometimes-won awards and nominations (AMADEUS,1984; THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS,1991) but also had many box office failures and behind the scene intrigues that prevented it from becoming a new United Artists.

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In fact, several of Orion’s board were former U.A. executives who were looking around for a successful action franchise along the lines of James Bond.   The series that they decided upon were “The Destroyer “book series created by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir. The series continues to this day (145 and counting) with Murphy’s son Will picking up the mantle.

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In the books, Remo Williams was a Newark cop falsely sentenced to die in the electric chair. His death is faked and he is spirited away and trained to become an assassin for CURE, a secret government organization. He is trained by Chuin, a master of Martial Arts. Many feels that the series hit its stride with the third book (Chinese Puzzle, 1972, Pinnacle Books). That is when Sinanju fighting style is mentioned and developed. Williams is taught that a gun is unnecessary (though he does occasionally use standard weapons when needed) and that he himself is the ultimate weapon.                                      (The Duo also appeared in Comic Book Form as well)

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The idea for a film was shopped around by producer Larry Spiegel (he had written several episodes of tv’s RETURN TO PLANET OF THE APE series (Fox -tv,1975) as well producing John Huston’s little seen horror thriller PHOBIA(Paramount,1980)) and he presented the Orion executives what they thought would be a lucrative series.

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To keep the idea of being a competitor to the Bond films, they hired director Guy Hamilton (GOLDFINGER,1964, U.A.) and screenwriter Christopher Wood (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME,1977, U.A.).

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Fred Ward was relative unknown when cast as Remo Williams (he had starred in TIMERIDER (Jensen Farley ,1982) as well as embodying Gus Grissom in the superb THE RIGHT STUFF (Ladd Company/WB,1983)). Ward, feeling this film series could raise his level of visibility, through himself into the role, doing as many of the physical stunts himself.

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Cast as Chiun was Tony Award winning Broadway star Joel Grey (winning the Best Supporting Oscar for role of the M.C. in CABARET (Allied Artists,1972). Grey was attracted to the mysticism of the role but feared offending the Pan-Asian community, particularly the Korean.  He researched and made sure that his character respected that history and he decided to take the role on the strength of the superlative make-up by Carl Fullerton.

REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS, Fred Ward, Kate Mulgrew, 1985. ©Orion Pictures Corp

REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS, Fred Ward, Kate Mulgrew, 1985. ©Orion                                                   Pictures Corp

The closest thing to a female lead in the film was the casting of Kate Mulgrew as Major Fleming. This was her first lead in a major film release (her debut was opposite Richard Burton in the barely released LOVESPELL(Paramount,1981) but there was not much there for the stage trained actress to work with.

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The film was lensed in New York City, Coney Island New York, Washington D.C., and various locations in Mexico.

 

With all the expectations, the film, released October ,1985, received mixed reviews and worse, did not even cover its production costs.   Adding insult to injury, the May release of A VIEW TO A KILL (U.A.) continued to outdraw REMO.
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The film started to receive cult status when it became a staple of H.B.O. and other premium channels.  Remo’s bad luck sadly continued when a t.v. pilot starring different actors was mostly pre-empted by a Presidential Speech in 1989, and then unseen until it began to pop up on some cable channels in 2009.

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Now, TWILIGHT TIME goes above and beyond with their release of the film. Limited to a print run of only 3,000, Twilight Time has given us a 1080p Hi Def print in its original 1.85:1 ratio (it seems director Guy Hamilton was not a fan of Panavision). The image is sharp, showing off the cinematography of Andrew Laszlo (THE WARRIORS, Paramount,1979).

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Sadly, the film betrays some cost cutting (or some money not making it to the screen. Shooting in Mexico to cut costs, they had superlative craftsmen, but they had not budgeted extortion that was a daily factor at the time in the Mexican Film Industry of the time). While the Statue of Liberty recreation is superb, some of the interior sets look like they were left over from a Jess Franco spy thriller (it seems some of the sets were unfinished when the filmmakers had to use them).japanese-posteer

 

The English 2.0 DTS-HD MA sound is rich, with hiss free dialogue.   The optional English subtitles are all very easy to read and follows the dialogue and describes the action perfectly.

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The Disc has an abundance of Superb Extras:

 

  The original theatrical trailer

 

MGM   90TH Anniversary Trailer (MGM had acquired many of the Orion titles in one of their many acquisitions)

 

-A poster /still gallery

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Craig Safan’s isolated score-  the synth sound dates the film as being from the 1980s, but it is a fun inventive work, mixing in traditional heroic orchestrations as well as a Korean Orchestra and even gun shots worked into the fabric of the compositions.(Remo Williams -Main Theme YouTube                                                     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxAjVfDOTs4 ).

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Audio Commentary by Film Historians Eddy Fiedfeld, Lee Pfeiffer, and( friend of Scarlet) Paul Scrabo.  This has got to be one of the most interesting commentary tracks in quite a while, as two of the three up front basically say that the film is not one of their favorites, and while they are quick to point out its many wonderful qualities, they seem to go into detail in pointing out its flaws.

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The only other commentary track that I recall being this belittling of its subject was Retromedia’s out of print Tenth Anniversary DVD of JACK-O (Tri-boro, original Direct to video release,1995). On that film, producer Fred Olen Ray’s ribbing angered filmmaker Steve Latshaw so much that the Latshaw stormed out of the recording!!!

 

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Ballyhoo Pictures once again outdoes themselves with their special mini documentaries.

 

Subjects covered are:

 

CREATED, THE DESTROYER: Writing Remo Williams. This part goes into detail about the many novels, and their history, plus interviews with author Will Murray and  others.   Devin Murphy (son of  Warren Murphy )has taken over production of the series .

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UNARMED & DANGEROUS -Producing Remo Williams. Interviews with many of the people who shepherded the film from pre-production into the final release, including producer Larry Spiegel and some of his team.

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SECRETS OF SINANJU: Training Remo Williams – A nice interview with star Joel Grey. He talks about how he approached the role, and the work that he put into it.  He seems (rightfully) very proud the part and has great affection for the character.   Sadly, neither Fred Ward or Kate Mulgrew appear in an of the interviews.  For Miss Mulgrew, it is perhaps no surprise, as it was a thankless role, but that Ward did not make himself available is a bit of a surprise/disappointment.

 

 

BALANCE OF POWER: Designing Remo Williams –  Production Designer Jackson DeGovia gives a very informative interview (well-illustrated with production sketches) on the important job that he and his team did on making REMO WILLIAMS, plus the behind the scenes problems and some disappointments.

 

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ASSASSIN’S TUNE: Composing Remo Williams- Composer Craig Safan talks about his ideas that went into making his memorable soundtrack. Plus, as a bonus, he composes on the spot a villain’s theme, which the film he feels lacked.      Here he is a few years ago conducting his Remo Williams Suite without synths. What do you think?    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdoeKTv40qs

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All in all, a quite enjoyable disc given a remarkable first class release.  If you are a fan of this film, then this a definite must have.  If you have never seen it, this is a superb introduction to the characters.

 

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Every few years, it is announced that someone else is going to attempt a new Remo Williams film. Before that happens, you should seek out this film.  It may not be a classic, but it is fun.  Kudos once again to TWILIGHT TIME.

 

 

Kevin G Shinnick

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  (this article was corrected and updated on October 27,2016 thanks to welcome information provided by author Devin Murphy.Kevin had incorrectly said Will Murray ,not Devin Murphy was the son of Warren Murphy . The above pressure point was applied to Kevin ,and he is truly sorry for his error !Agh!)

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1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, American International Pictures, book, BOOK REVIEW, Bruce Hallenbeck, CLASSIC, Classic Hollywood, cult, fantasy, genre, hemlock books, Horror, rare, review, Roger Corman, SCIENCE FICTION, studio history, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, wierd

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

kevin g shinnick
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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