2000s, Anita Page, Athena Demos, CAMP, cult, diy filmmaking, dvd, fantasy, film, genre, gore, Horror, independent, killer brain, Nazi, nudity, Randal Malone, review, Ron Ford, SCIENCE FICTION, Stephanie Beaton, thriller, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, wierd

THE CRAWLING BRAIN

 

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THE CRAWLING BRAIN (2002) released 2016.Blood Banquet Theatre.
$10.99. DVD. Color. Shot on Video. Available from
http://bbtheatre.xyz/collections/1423514-blood-banquet-theatre-distribution-dvd-titles/products/18388604-the-crawling-brain-dvd

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   “Has he health insurance?”Behind the scenes photo

 

If Andy Milligan (GURU THE MAD MONK, Nova Int.,1970) made movies for Independent International that were produced by John Waters, it would give you an idea of the craziness that is THE CRAWLING BRAIN.

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The term “camp” was made for films such as this. The film is a loving if inept tribute to classic b movie camp like THEY SAVED HITLER’S BRAIN (Paragon/Gold key ,1968), BRAIN OF BLOOD(I.I.,1971) MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND(Hemisphere,1968) and most obviously, FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (MGM,1958). Gore and nudity are sprinkled liberally throughout.

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The story has Stefan (Randal Malone) finding out his grandmother is the former nurse/lover of Franz Kindler (the name of the Nazi from Orson Welles classic THE STRANGER(RKO,1946)), a mad Nazi scientist who has his spine and brain placed into a tank until a new body can be found for him.

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        (Young Anita Page Ziegfeld Follies;92 year Ms Page in this film)

 

The grandmother Anita is portrayed by then 92-year-old Anita Page, who starred in the first sound film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, BROADWAY MELODY (MGM,1929). She passed away in 2008, her last film being released posthumously in 2010, FRANKENSTEIN RISING (Sterling), which also starred Malone.

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The brain suddenly decides to take over Stefan, who manipulates his brother (Mark Shady) into helping him. Every once and awhile the brain crawls from its tank and takes things into its own-err— spinal column, and kills people itself.

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People visit the house end up being used as experiments for surgery, until a new nurse named Jillian (Heather Beaton, EYES OF THE WEREWOLF, Leo Films,1996) arrives to care for Grandma. Jillian, it seems, looks exactly like Anita did when she was young (also played in flashback by Beaton) and it seems once the evil brain finds a new body for itself, Anita may have herself a new host body as well.

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The whole film has a “Hey I got a camcorder, let’s make a movie” feel to it. Shot on video, the entire budget wouldn’t stretch to craft services for one meal on a T.V. show. That said, the film is unlike a lot of s.o.v. product at least competently put together, though the dialogue suffers at times from microphones being too far away.

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Hey there IS a script!

 

Music (credited to Ronald Stein) sounds like it is mostly lifted from DEMENTIA 13(AIP,1963) with certain sounds effects taken directly from FIEND WITHOUT A FACE.

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As to the “acting”, always a major bugaboo of mine in these s.o.v. films:

Randal Malone, who it seems has more than 50 films to his credit, minces through his part like a bitchy Divine wannabee.randal-malone

At the other end of the spectrum we have Stephanie Beaton, who never seemed to get a film that truly showcased her actual acting talent.

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The effects are a fun throwback to the onset physical effects of the films that inspired them (at points reversing the film has the spinal column appear to wrap around its hapless victims).

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(Because You’re Mine, I’ll steal your spine ….)

A well -staged car crash surprised me, although I was left wondering did they just do the stunt and leave?

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               (How dis-arming !)

Indeed, I wish there was a commentary track from those involved, to hear what it was like on set and their thoughts of the final product (and indeed, how they got Anita Page to be in their film).

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Extras are limited to an alternate opening (full nudity as it stands now, topless nudity in the alternate, both supplied by actress Athena Demos) and an alternately edited flashback sequence (which I admit I saw no difference).

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Also included is an over the top trailer that would have put people into their local drive ins had it been made in the 1970s. Finally, there are trailers for other films to be released by BLOOD BANQUET (including DEVILS’ NIGHTMARE(French,1971)).img_20170117_114835
Blood Banquet also sells a 3D version of MANIAC (Roadshow,1934), GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE (Ent.Pyramid,1972), as well as other S.O.V. titles by Ron Ford.

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Should you wish to see a modern-day exploitation film, leave your brain outside as you watch THE CRAWLING BRAIN.

Trailer.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMBNzl1tIsc

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Kevin G Shinnick

              (note:some photos courtesy BLOOD BANQUET,some Frame Grabs from the DVD).

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THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN: The Most Incredible Film Ever Made

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The Incredible Shrinking Man
The Most Incredible Film Ever Made

                                                                            By Randolph Thanos

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“I felt my body dwindling, melting, and becoming nothing. My fears melted away and in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation it had to mean something and then I meant something too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something too. To God, there is no zero, I still exist!”

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And those were the final words of The Incredible Shrinking Man in Jack Arnold’s incredibly stunning and visually breathtaking film of the same name.

MATHESON 1957 cover of The Shrinking Man

The Shrinking Man

Released in 1957 with a screenplay by Richard Matheson*, THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN(Universal)  tells the story of Scott Carey, an average guy who is exposed to a mysterious cloud while on a boat at sea. Scott’s skin is covered with a glittering substance that he cannot explain. Scott returns home and he begins shrinking and the only medical explanation is that he has become a victim of atomic fallout. Scott soon shrinks so far down in size that his clothes no longer fit him, he is reduced to living in a doll house and he has to fight off a house cat and spider much larger than himself. Now living as a 3 inch tall man, Scott has now become the hunted and has to fight for his survival in a world that he once towered over.

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I first watched this incredible film in 1972 when I was 9 years old. I wanted to stay up late to watch The Big Show of the Week and the film that was being featured that night was The Incredible Shrinking Man. The Big Show of the Week was normally off limits to this young television viewer so I had to sneak down stairs, sit in the adjoining hallway and watch the film through the living room mirror opposite the television. My parents could not see me so they were oblivious to my special seat and therefore could not refuse me admission.

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It was nothing like my eyes had ever seen before. At the Canadian National Exhibition, I watched a beautiful woman turn into a gorilla that year, I witnessed a horrific car accident and the monster from hell, my French teacher who was really really mean but nothing prepared me for the horrors that would face The Incredible Shrinking Man.

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In one scene, he has to fight off his house cat who now is clawing him down in terror, a once normal sized cat who now towers above him in height and that fight with the spider in the basement is one of the greatest fight for survival scenes in the history of cinema. All I could think about was what it must feel like to shrink so far down in size that one’s life didn’t matter anymore, that one’s life had no more meaning?zz-the-iincredible-shrinking-man-spider-fight-shrinkingman2

 

 

As a child growing up around adults who were much larger than me, I could identify with the discomfort and fears that The Incredible Shrinking Man was feeling, feelings of insignificance and anxiety at the vastness of the world before me. The Incredible Shrinking Man didn’t just terrify me, it made me really think about my own place in the world and since then I must have watched it over a hundred times and each time I am amazed by its cinematic wonder.the-incredible-shrinking-man9

 

 

I especially love The Incredible Shrinking Man because the hero of the story never gives up. Sure he is depressed (wouldn’t you be if you were smaller than a house spider?) but for all his bleakness he proves that big things like a heroic spirit, perseverance and fighting strength comes in a small package, a very small package. The other reason I love this film is because it is a humanity tale of how ones stature in life can become diminished and all hope can be abandoned but one can still plot ones future. Things in the world of The Incredible Shrinking Man do not always turn out the way he has planned but this does not mean that life is not worth living and fighting for.

 

 

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Another reason, I love this film is that it depicts the age old lesson that when life deals you lemons, you make lemonade. If you cannot live in a dollhouse, move to a match box as the hero in the story ends up doing. No matter how large or small we become, the universe is always going to be bigger than us and at some point we must face how insignificant we are in comparison but we can still remember that like The Incredible Shrinking Man, we still exist and it is our existence that gives our life meaning.zz-the-incredible-shrinking-man-scott-carey-in-water-in-cellar-bscap00033cs
The Incredible Shrinking Man is not only ripe with philosophical and metaphysical meaning; it is full of amazing special effects for its time. Director Jack Arnold, who made other fantastic science fiction films like, It Came from Outer Space (Universal 1953   ), Creature from the Black Lagoon(Universal 1954   ) and Tarantula (Universal 1955   ), spent almost a million dollars to make The Incredible Shrinking Man. The special effects were not cheap and technicians worked for almost a year on the photography for the special effects alone. Prior to the days of green screen and CGI, the special effects for this time were created by the film makers incorporating a pain staking process of creating and inventing props and camera manipulation to help the audience accept that what they were watching was real. Giant props were incorporated into filming key scenes to make it appear that actor Grant Williams had really shrunk down in size. Many of the props used were actually constructed just for these incredible scenes such as a gigantic 15 foot mousetrap and a sewing needle over 12 feet long and a match box which towered over Williams. These gigantic props were 40 times larger than normal size. A pair of scissors that weighed 40 pounds, a pencil that was 21 feet long was used in the flooded cellar scene was among the incredible props.incredible-shrinking-man-1

 

One of the pivotal scenes involves an exhausting battle between The Incredible Shrinking Man and a spider. The spider used in the film was an actual tarantula named Tamara and was the same spider used in the film Tarantula. Other fun (?) facts about The Incredible Shrinking Man are that Grant Williams almost died during the shooting from key scenes like the flooded basement where he almost drowned and on another scene he almost faced electrocution. And the remember the scene of the water heater exploding, the giant drops you see falling over the Incredible Shrinking Man were created by filling up condoms with water to create the perfect water drops falling in perfect unison.zz-the-incredible-shrinking-man-scott-carey-in-water-in-cellar-bscap00033cs
Many films I have seen as a 9 year old that have special effects have not really held the test of time, many of these effects now appear cartoonish but the special effects in The Incredible Shrinking Man have held up over the past 50 years because of the painstaking effort that went into them to create such memorable movie scenes not to mention the films central themes of isolation, existentialism, survival and loss that are prevalent in today’s world.

 

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The magic of The Incredible Shrinking Man comes from not only these philosophical and metaphysical themes and the special effects but from the power that the Incredible Shrinking Man is a humanity tale for all times, it is a fantasy yet the viewer is left with the question: What If? What if we did become smaller and had to carefully orchestrate our way through the world that we had once taken for granted? Would we find our meaning in life or just let ourselves shrink away into nothingness? That is the real horror we must not only confront in the world of The Incredible Shrinking Man and that we must confront in our reality today. This is why The Incredible Shrinking Man still fascinates and terrifies me today, more than 50 years after its release. The Incredible Shrinking Man is the most incredible film ever made.

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*-based upon his novel ,”The Shrinking Man” (first published in 1956 by Gold Medal04102015p21pha

 

 

 

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           incredible-shrinking-man-photo-1ism4-e1471641323518                                                                                          (There is trouble in the marriage)

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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.

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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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2000s, cult, documentary, dvd, film, FILM HISTORY, genre, Horror, review, SCIENCE FICTION, SEVERIN, studio history, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, William Cameron Menzies

LOST SOULS: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR MOREAU

SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE REVIEWS BLU RAY

LOST SOULS: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY’S ISLAND OF DR MOREAUSeverin BLU RAY $20.00 -2014 – 100 Min.

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Order direct at https://severin-films.com/product-category/blu-ray/

This documentary rates up there with LOST IN LA MANCHA (2003) on the horrors and misadventures of filmmaking and what might have been.

 

 
Director David Gregory (the underrated PLAGUE TOWN,Severin 2008) has tracked down many of the players in the production that became a John Frankenheimer (SECONDS, 1966) movie and in Rashomon fashion, we hear of the genesis of the project to what was finally released.

 

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Gregory also explores the history of the 1896 H.G. Wells novel ‘Island Of Doctor Moreau “, which even in itself was surrounded by controversy and Wells’ accusing Joseph Conrad of plagiarism for his 1899 work “Hearts of Darkness”.

 

 

Coming off the relative success of HARDWARE (1990, available from DVD from Severin) and the studio interference on DUST DEVIL (1992, seek out Subversive Cinema Director’s cut which is the most extant version), Richard Stanley was a relatively hot property.14

 
Stanley, then in his 30s, was excited when New Line Cinema greenlit Stanley’s proposed remake. The film that he had proposed from existing drawings would have been a hellish present day reflection on God and Religious ideals (one sketch has Moreau holding a new born creation with the operating light forming a halo around his head as in the background his creatures in surgical gear lick the blood off the instruments.).

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(Doc says no to  AIP version-nom nom nom nom)

The director hated the 1977 version that AIP had released (no footage is used from this version) and his version seemed to want to create the entire world that the creatures lived in.

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Problems began when the studio attached big name stars like Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer, whose egos ballooned as fast as the budget for the film. Due to them, other actors left (James Wood, replaced by David Thewlis, and Rob Morrow, who saw the train wreck about to happen).

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Nature seemed to conspire against them too, as the locale chosen and weather conditions threatened several times to shut the production down. Finally, the studio decided to remove Richard Stanley as director, and desperately sought out a replacement. With only a week prep, John Frankenheimer who had stayed away from the genre since the disastrous mutant bear horror PROPHECY (Paramount ,1979), took over with a new cinematographer and rewrites happening constantly during the course of the remaining filming.

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(I’m sure John Frankenheimer wasn’t smiling often on this set)

This documentary is actually longer than the released ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU (New Line 1996) but has a much more involving story to tell.

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(Director Richard Stanley before the purge)

16Several of the participants had passed on before this documentary was shot (Brando ,Frankenheimer, the 2’4” Nelson de la Rosa(the inspiration for the later Mini Me in The Austin Powers films )) while Val Kilmer seemingly declined defending the myriad comments that showed him to be a “dick” .Also M.I.A.  is Mike Thewlis, but almost everyone else in front and before the camera still with us ,from background Aborigine performers, to the makeup team to the production office to stars ,the charming Marco Hofschneider (EUROPA EUROPA,Orion,U.S.release 1990) and Fairuza Balk, (RETURN TO OZ,Disney 1986) .

 

 
Also on this must have disc is  a lot of amazing behind the scenes video footage shot at the time during production captures the madness and creativity that went on for the six month gestation of the beast that was ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU.

 
Director Stanley seems to have gone into seclusion in France since the madness and frustrations of that film, working on some shorts and screenplays in the interim. Let us hope that he might be tempted back to make an independent production.13
Extras on the blu ray include extended interviews , Graham Humphreys concept drawings, an archive John Frankenheimer interview, a Barbara Steele interview(yes at one time she was involved),and more.

 

 
This is a must have item for general film fans and horror collectors. I have been cautious not to give away many of the surprises in the production as you should discover them for yourselves and shake your head in disbelief that films get made at all!

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Two hoofs turning into thumbs up!!HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.

-Kevin G Shinnick

Other versions of ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU:
ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932) CRITERION Blu ray and DVD .
TERROR IS A MAN (1959) Alpha dvd
TWILIGHT PEOPLE (1972) VCI DVD
ISLAND OF DR MOREAU (1977) MGM DVD
ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU (1996) New Line DVD

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED https://www.facebook.com/SCARLETreviews/posts/1605625319676422

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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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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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DOWN FROM THE ATTIC (book review)

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Down from the Attic: Rare Thrillers of the Silent Era through the 1950s
By John T. Soister and Henry Nicolella -(McFarland; June ,2016 )248 pages $39.95

 http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-9831-4

This wonderful follow up to UP FROM THE VAULT: RARE THRILLERS FROM THE 1920S AND 1930S (McFarland ,2010) has author John T Soister joined by Henry Nicolella to track down and view where possible twenty-four films that are ignored and unknown by the majority of genre fans.

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Some are at present lost (i.e. deteriorated nitrate negatives and thus no longer in existence) and others available in truncated forms. Yet that we have still so many of these films for viewing is in itself miraculous, as according to Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation claims that “half of all American films made before 1950 and over 90% of films made before 1929 are lost forever.”

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Beginning with the silent era and going up to 1951, the pair of author sleuths tracked down films and prints from around the world, viewing whatever prints are still extant, and delving deeply into research about productions and reviews buried long ago in musty volumes and microfilm. Their summaries and plot synopses of the films covered makes one seek to look for many of these films, and some make you wonder why a few of them are not better known. Hopefully, their research may bring a few of these films to being found and perhaps preserved.6676769_1

What also makes this book invaluable is their willingness to seek out films that were made outside of the United States. Movies from The U.K. Germany, the Czech Republic, and South America are also explored, many perhaps for the first time in such detail outside of their borders.

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Plus, they cover the odd career of filmmaker Bud Pollard, responsible for the elusive and obscure THE HORROR (Bud Pollard Productions ,1932) as well as the first sound version of ALICE IN WONDERLAND https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6O8kbTi4WNo .

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Soister and Nicolella have done a wonderful job of finding these films and bringing them to the attention of genre fans. As they point out, not all of the films can be considered classics, but their importance cannot be denied.

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HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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-Kevin G Shinnick

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