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DECOY (dvd collection -Film Chest )

DECOY  (1957 Television series) (Film Chest Media) DVD set (all 39 episodes on 3 DVDs) $19.98 First episode date: October 14, 1957 episodes run about 25 minutes each. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06Y18TNQ1/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=tvobscur47-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B06Y18TNQ1&linkId=24b5dd7a881e2acaab9606c6f8f612bf

Back in 1992, I had the extreme pleasure of interviewing actress Beverly Garland .The interview appeared in issue ten of SCARLET STREET (to read and see the issue, go to http://scarletstreetmagazine.blogspot.com/2015/10/ )

Best known for her films with Roger Corman as well as her later appearances on MY THREE SONS (74 episodes,Don Fedderson Productions 1969-1972) ,in the late 1950s she starred in a syndicated New York lensed series called DECOY (Official Films ,39 episodes, October 14,1957 -July 7,1958) .

In our SCARLET STREET #10 interview , she called the series the “biggest mistake of her life” as it ran only one season but rerun for seven, and she was labeled a TV actress, thus being forced to start her career all over again.

Now ,in hindsight , we can see how forward thinking the show was, as well as a time capsule of ideas and mores of the period . For one, she was an independent woman who knew self defense and how to work a side arm, as well intelligence. That said, reactions to her show the difficulty of a police woman being looked at as an equal.

 

The series has had certain episodes available from several public domain companies as well as on line video sources, but this is the first time that the entire series has been released in a three DVD collection.

“Presented as a tribute to the Bureau of Policewomen, New York City Police Dept.”(opening credit ).*

 

Ms. Garland was Policewoman Patricia ‘Casey’ Jones . She seems to live up to the Decoy title , as she is often undercover to investigate and stop crime in a no nonsense style reminiscent of the then popular DRAGNET (Mark VII,Ltd. ,1951-1959). She often breaks the fourth wall to address the audience about the case that has just been solved.

She often finds herself in dangerous situations, like becoming an inmate at an insane asylum while pursuing a lead in an heroin case (“Dream Fix”). We know very little about Jones’ personal life except that her boyfriend was a police officer who was killed by a person he was sent to arrest (“The Sound of Tears”), but like her counterpart Joe Friday from DRAGNET ,it was the cases, not her personal life, that were front and center.

Being shot in New York on location gives the series a grittiness often lacking in other series from the time . It also is a time capsule of the many sites and sights no longer around in the city that never sleeps, such as Colony Records and Steeplechase Park ,as well as several that still are (John Jovino’s Gun Shop in Little Italy. The photographer Weegee had a room above the store that overlooked the large pistol replica).

 

                                                (Weegee from his apt fire escape, same locale today)

 

Also, the New York location gave them a talent pool of up and coming actors from the New York Theatre scene .Larry Hagman ,Frank Campanella,Ed Asner , Colleen Dewhurst, Martin Balsam ,Suzanne Pleshette, Diane Ladd and Al Lewis all appeared on the series.

As a syndicated show, it was shot quickly ,and some continuity errors exist .For example, Al Lewis is with a cigar in his mouth in wide shot but cutting to closeup ,we see him putting the cigar into his mouth again.The exteriors were often filmed with a hidden camera , as they did not have the funds to get permits and shut down streets.

The show probably slipped into obscurity due to it’s noticeable lack of violence ,concentrating on gathering evidence and good police work .Plus, with so many people wishing to be “politically correct” , there is a lot of smoking on the show (amazing that Westinghouse rather than Winstons Cigarettes sponsored the series.).

 

That said, it is historically important that it is one of the first dramatic shows to star and be built around a female character, who didn’t have to “sex” it up , or need a male side kick. Indeed, Ms Garland is one of the few recurring characters, having her instead work with officers in different departments to solve the week’s story .Without Policeman “Casey “ Jones, we may not have had an Angie Dickinson’s Sgt. Suzanne “Pepper” Anderson , Teresa Graves’ Christie Love , or Mariska Hagitay’s Olivia Benson .

In other interviews, Ms Garland said : “Throughout my life, I’ve had ten or twenty women come up to me and tell me that they saw me on ‘Decoy’ and because of it they became a policewoman.”

I think that was a source of pride for the actress.

FILM CHEST has done a great job of presenting these full frame black and white episodes. Images are sharp and clear ,with no noticeable dirt or film damage. The mono sound was clear and serviceable. Each of the three discs has 13 episodes ,and can be either played straight through or episodes played separately .

-Recommended.
Kevin G Shinnick

 

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Two Stocking Stuffers- RAY HARRYHAUSEN FAIRY TALES/STRANGE & UNUSUAL CHRISTMAS FILMS

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RAY HARRYHAUSEN’S FAIRY TALES
– COLOR http://www.oldies.com/product-view/7875D.html

STRANGE AND UNUSUAL CHRISTMAS FILMS-Color/b&w -http://www.oldies.com/product-view/7871D.html

$7.98 each. Oldies.com

Just in time for the Christmas Season come two fun stocking stuffers from OLDIES.COM.

The first is probably the one that people will feel is the must have . Ray Harryhausen is a god to anyone who grew up watching fantasy films made between 1953 (BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (WB)) through 1981 (CLASH OF THE TITANS,MGM). You were at some time enthralled and in awe of the stop motion wizardry that this one man special effect auteur brought to the cinema screen. While ILM and others can do the same thing now via computer, recall that Harryhausen for most of his work was creator, camera person, and director ,single handedly doing what now takes teams of CGI experts to try and emulate.

However, unlike Athena born fully grown from the skull of Zeus, Ray Harryhausen’s artistry came from experimenting . Some of these experiments are to be found on RAY HARYHAUSEN’S FAIRY TALES.

After working as an animator on a George Pal Puppetoon (TULIPS WILL GROW,Paramount,1942),Ray continued to refine his talents as both cinematographer and animator on shorts produced for and by the U.S. Army.red-stare

After his service, he returned to his family home, where he got a 16mm camera and some Kodachrome color film to produce a series of shorts. It was a family affair, with his parents helping with costuming and set building. He completed five of his Fairy Tales between 1946 and 1953 ( a final film not on this collection ,TORTOISE & THE HARE, was started in 1952, but never completed when Harryhausen began making features. That is , it remained unfinished until 2002, when Ray and two fans who worked on tv’s ROBOT CHICKEN (Cartoon Network,2005-2015)decided to complete it.).

The films were released to schools as well as television filler but while they probably did not make Ray much money, he was able to learn his trade and improve his technique on each film .

The first film, THE MOTHER GOOSE STORY (1946) consists of very short vignettes, silent save for some public domain classical music. The influence of George Pal’s animated shorts is quite obvious in the style of puppetry design. The faces use a variation of Pal’s system of substitution faces rather than animating the features. A quick dissolve is used to smooth the transition of facial reactions.

The next film ,THE STORY OF LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD (1949) ,showed more confidence ,experimenting with camera movements ,and lighting. It also boasted a voice over narration by actor Hugh Douglas.

hanselTHE STORY OF HANSEL & GRETEL (1951)was once again narrated by Hugh Douglas ,has more reassured camera moves, and even uses some rear projection for a giant oven fire mixed with the stop motion animation figures .

THE STORY OF RAPUNZEL (1951), this time narrated by Del Moore ,seems a bit more stilted than the previous effort ,and the witch figure seems to be just a repainting of the witch from the previous film.

THE STORY OF KING MIDAS (1953),the final of Harryhausen’s short stories on this disc, is the most assured. Once again narrated by Del Moore, the character work on the faces is much more assured, and the villain of the piece is a marvelous piece of villainous design.midas

As a bonus, we get a variation of Little Red Riding Hood, this time via a short 1949 color film of the Wahmann Hand Puppets. The film was released by Encyclopedia Britannica Films, and was produced by Helen Wahmann Lanthop and Lee Wahmann Keel, co-founders of the Children’s Artist Series and the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, North Carolina (still in existence today). It is a straightforward recording of a well rendered puppet show telling of the familiar tale.

Back in 2005, RAY HARRYHAUSEN: EARLY YEARS (Sparkhill /Global Entertainment) was a two disc Special Edition that included the Harryhausen shorts on this disc, as well as a completed TORTOISE & THE HARE and many other extras. That collection is out of print and selling for over $100 . The Alpha/OLDIES.COM Collection is an affordable alternative to that release, and their prints are quite clean and acceptable.rh-the-early-years-collection-dvd-pal
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Next up is the well named STRANGE & UNUSUAL CHRISTMAS FILMS. The films are an odd mash up of color and black & white shorts made between 1945 through 1961. Many of them have been used and featured in recent Rifftrax Comedy Christmas specials, and once you see them, you will know why .

behind-scens-xmas-dreamThe 1945 Czech made “Vánoční sen” was released in the U.S. to tv and home video by Castle Films in 1948 as A CHRISTMAS DREAM . This was the first film that director Karl Zeman mixed live action and stop motion animation . He later become world famous for fantasy films like THE FABULOUS WORLD OF JULES VERNE (Czech: Vynález zkázy /The Deadly Invention,1958,released by WB in 1961).Consider that this short was made when there was devastating rationing due to Nazi occupation until April,1945, it is astounding that the film has such a magical feel.In effect, a young girl neglects her old toy for a new toy,and the older one comes to life.

The English dubbing, however, makes the film enter into the realm of creepy. The high pitched voice of the doll will make a younger generation think of Mr Hankie from tv’s SOUTH PARK (Comedy Central,1997-still running) .

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Next up is SANTA CLAUS‘ STORY (Board of Education,Buffalo,1945).In this story,Santa appears to two little children and tells them “A story you‘ ll always remember“ – about monkeys. That’s right, lots of footage of monkeys. Did I mention monkeys? These first two films have been satirized by the Rifftrax team during their various Christmas specials .

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS(Castle Films,1946) is a live action telling of the the classic Clement C Moore tale, with bits of cartoon animation thrown in. The only thing wierd about it is how it haphazardly jumps from cartoon animation to live action, but is probably the most “normal“ film on the disc.

SANTA IN ANIMAL LAND (Art Reels Production/Official Films,1948)- A bunch of big headed animals get together and go to the North Pole to ask Santa Claus for gifts. This is basically a puppet show that was filmed. However, the behind the scenes history is very interesting. Puppeteer Alfred Wallace (1914-1985) was a Native American puppeteer who had a strong career in the nightclubs during the 1930s through the 1950s. His specialty seemed to have been political satire ,using puppets such as FDR as a baby, or a Senator puppet with two faces. This production seems more like a work for hire piece.

 

 

ACD Systems Digital Imaging

The 1945 Czech made “Vánoční sen

 

 

SANTA & THE FAIRY SNOW QUEEN(Sid Davis Productions 1951)is probably the longest film in the collection(26 minutes) and the first in color .Sid Davis is a man best known for his public scare films, mostly about not talking to strangers ,running with scissors or you’ll impale yourself ,or the ‘dangers ‘of homosexuality .fairy Here, he seems to be showing you the dangers of community theatre telling a Christmas tale . Using public domain music , several annoying toys come to life(someone stop Jack In The Box,please!),an  female Elf named Snoopy and a drunk sounding Santa encounter a thick accented Snow Queen. This episode too has been spoofed by the Rifftrax team, but here you can experience it in all it’s bizarre glory.sfq100

THE ELF & MR. LITTLE (1953)seems to be a short made for local television (due to the chroma-key titles) Christmas tale shot in Arizona . It features marionettes by Rex Crum,better known as Rex Castle,who while Arizona based,toured and performed all over the world,even on Cruise ships and Las Vegas Night Clubs.In this a toymaker and his wife meet a Christmas elf.

 

SILENT NIGHT: THE STORY OF THE CHRISTMAS CAROL (Coronet ,1953)is a live action telling of how the famous song came into being.Though shot in color, the print appears at times to have faded almost to black and white.

THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL (CASTLE FILMS,1954)- Hans Christian Anderson’s 1845 story was shot as a live action French short in 1952,that Castle Films re-dubbed and sold on 16mm as well as to television syndication. While many of us think of a the Danish story teller as making lively children’s stories, a lot of his tales are damn depressing ! The Brave Tin Soldier has the title character melted with his ballerina love, the Little Mermaid in its original incarnation had the title character wanting to murder the Prince to get his blood , and then there is this ,the most depressing and saddest of all his stories.

A little barefoot Match Girl is forced into the cold by her (unseen) father to sell her wares. Hungry and cold, she lights her matches for warmth to no avail.As she dies, she sees a vision of the Virgin Mary (in the original story, it is her grandmother who greats her )who floats her off to Heaven. Actually, Anderson was ,like his contemporary Charles Dickens ,was pointing out the inequities of the poor and wanted to show how we neglect our fellow humans.

THE LITTLE LAMB: A CHRISTMAS STORY (Castle Films/United World 1955) is a live action film where a mother (Maureen O’Sullivan), after having her brood of five children say their prayers, tells them a story of a lost lamb and the Nativity. Morris Ankum, known mostly for playing generals and judges, here plays Azur The Shepherd. Not so much strange as a straightforward Christian tale.

CHRISTMAS FAIRY TALE (1961), seems to be a Canadian made film about a little girl who looks at a book and suddenly it dissolves to barely moving clockwork mechanisms. In fact, over 6 minutes of its nearly ten-minute running time is footage is of a revolving diorama with non-moving figures that have a narrator filling in the story!hqdefault

If you want another interesting animated stocking stuffer ,check out also the just released                                                                                 LOST COLD-WAR PROPAGANDA CARTOONS-Color –                                                                       http://www.oldies.com/product-view/7874D.html

 

Kevin G Shinnick

edmund-penney-in-santa-and-the-fairy-snow-queen-1951

     (Go Home,Santa, you’re drunk !)

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

SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE BOOK REVIEW

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

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$19.95 BEAR MANOR MEDIA 240 pages

Available via

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

or
Available at BEAR MANOR MEDIA

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

RECOMMENDED.

Kevin G Shinnick

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

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

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SCIENCE FICTION MADE ME A LIBERAL

 SCIENCE FICTION MADE ME A LIBERAL

sci-fi-made-me-a-liberal

With the current election cycle finally winding down, I look forward to the end of all the toxic attitudes and comments from all sides of the political spectrum.

 
What has for me personally been a surprise has been the vitriol aimed at those of the Liberal attitude from many within the horror and science fiction community. I am not so foolish as to think everyone who shares a mutual interest in a subject to lock step politically, though it is interesting that while we share a mutual joy in these subjects, that we take away different conclusions from them.

 
Being a small kid in the Bronx with a stutter and a strong Bronx accent, I always felt like an “outsider”. Then when I was very young, visiting relatives in Ireland, my older brother took me to the movies. The first movies that I ever saw on the big screen were FRANKENSTEIN (1931, Universal) and CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (Hammer,1957).

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Mind you, this was in the early 1960s, but cinemas  would sometimes pair older films and show them . Now I was terrified by both films (and indeed my brother & I were tossed out of the theatre because I was screaming so hard when Christopher Lee tore off his facial bandages), but I felt a certain sadness for the creatures too, and I was unknowingly hooked. Peter Cushing popped up in several other films and I was impressed by him as a performer and I began to get the idea that I would like to be an actor.

 

 

 

I found myself drawn to works by horror,science fiction and fantasy writers. In the era before the internet or home computers, one had to go to the library and research when one didn’t understand certain things. Due to the references of certain eras ,countries, etc,I would go to the library and read books on history ,politics ,and various topics . Rather than being bored I found that it enriched my appreciation of the stories that I read, and the world in general. While others in school were struggling with THE CAT IN THE HAT, I was reading histories of the Middle Ages so I would have a better understanding of the world of “The Pit & The Pendulum” .the-pit-and-the-pendulumthe-spanish-inquisition6

 

 

 

 

Now hooked to fantasy /horror films, I recall that on television they had an ad on the old WOR-TV (Channel 9) in NYC. “Ghosts, murder, Regicide” intoned the unseen announcer as black and white images flew by the screen. I didn’t know what regicide was, but ghosts and murder were what I wanted to see.

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At the appointed hour, I tuned on the t.v., and turned the knob to the channel. The film was Laurence Olivier’s HAMLET (RANK,1948). It looked like a horror film with its fog and moody photography (and heck at the end there was Peter Cushing as  Osiric) but there was something more to the film. I didn’t understand all that was said, but I knew I wanted to speak like that. At the end, I was in tears, and knew that:
1-I wanted to be an actor
2-I wanted to speak like the people in the film and learn more about this “Shakespeare” guy who wrote it.

 

hamlet-peter-cushing-1948

quote-who-wants-to-see-me-as-hamlet-very-few-but-millions-want-to-see-me-as-frankenstein-so-peter-cushing-87-41-29So, I would listen to recordings by Olivier, Gielgud, and others reading the works of the Bard (thank you Caedmon records) and it helped me develop my speaking voice and my confidence. It also got me beaten up a bit (no one likes a pseudo British accent, especially under ten-year-old bullies), but I found too the writings of this man from 350 years earlier spoke to me of the human condition. “Hath not a Jew Eyes? “A speech that showed that people may pray differently, but in essence we were all of humans.

 
An amazing speech too in that there were very few Jews in the country at the time, and in a play, that in the end, the Merchant is forced to renounce his faith, in effect destroying what defined him. A complex ending to be sure. That earlier speech lifted Shylock from being the Hebrew of anti-Semitic tracts into a human being with flaws. Othello was a great general, had even saved the city and yet suffered prejudice due to the color of his skin. Again, there were few blacks in England in Shakespeare’s time, and xenophobia was quite strong, so that Shakespeare created a rounded human being (who even had flaws, suffering from epileptic fits, etc) from someone who was different speaks volumes.

 
Plus, when women were little more than property, he wrote such wonderful parts about them and for them, though it was illegal for women to PLAY them. The first English woman to legally do so was Margaret Hughes, December 8,1660 as Desdemona, ironically in “The Moor of Venice” (a reworking of Othello).

 
Through Shakespeare I discovered the idea of trying to understand others. Shakespeare and horror films also developed my love of storytelling as well as the joy of reading and discovery of ideas.
Science fiction writers like George Orwell challenged acceptance of society without question, and that sometimes things were not always what they seemed. ‘1984” Orwellian double speak now lives on in Fox News as well as politicians who constantly deny facts if it stands in the way of their political agenda. Sadly, many seem ready to accept their outrageous claims as “double plus good”. Back in the 1960s, though, we were engrossed in a foreign war that was not what we told it was for, and indeed the ideals were dropped as the conflict continued. Plus, at the time, social injustices and women’s liberation were also issues that threatened the fabric of the country. Science fiction, for a young teenager was a way of trying to understand these complex issues.

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The idea of controlling the media and what we can and cannot read was a reality in many dictatorships, but also within our own country narrow minded people wanted to ban the likes of ROMEO & JULIET, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and many other works. Why? Because they made us question the status quo. Controlling thought in “1984” and Ray Bradbury’s ‘FAHRENHEIT 451 “reflected a society where that happens, and again Orwell predicted flooding the media with info that they wanted, and acting as if previous facts didn’t exist.

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Television and movies also had a strong effect on shaping my opinions and beliefs.

 

The earliest influence that I can think of is Rod Serling’s TWILIGHT ZONE. Serling tried through his various brilliant television dramas to illuminate the human condition Unfortunately, he ran up against censorship from both the networks as well as the advertisers. In one of his political dramas he was forbidden to have his politicians comment on current events to avoid the appearance of siding with one side or the other.

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Wanting to discuss social injustice, racism, and other injustices, he felt that only way to do that was to disguise his tales as fantasies, using the allegories to discuss otherwise taboo issues. Maintaining creative control, he was one of the first to explore the idea of people seeing only the superficial rather the person within (EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, NUMBER 7 LOOKS JUST LIKE YOU), bigotry and hate (I AM THE NIGHT-COLOR ME BLACK) and other social issues.

 

 

Probably the biggest influence on me was STAR TREK. The show showed a multinational multicultural crew working together to deal with new life forms and issues that reflected items within our own society. Yes, they had women in miniskirts, but that was more the demands of the era than the ideals of the series.

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Looking back now 50 years on, it is easy to point out the flaws of the show, but one must remember that every step forward starts with a small victory, and that it doesn’t happen overnight.

 

The show also dealt with the issue of overpopulation (MARK OF GIDEON), racism (LET THIS BE YOUR LAST BATTLEFIELD), mutual assured destruction (A TASTE OF ARMAGEDDON) and many other issues of the time.

 

The thing that most appealed to me about STAR TREK is that it offered a possibility of a future for mankind. That somehow we would survive the constant threats that promised the destruction of our society and possibility the entire planet.

 

It reflected the possibilities offered by Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Both were murdered by narrow minds but they left with us the baton to fulfill the dream that they proposed as well as the ideals that Gene Roddenberry’s series gave us in his “Wagon Train to The Stars”.

 

Little did I know, but these shows and books influenced my world overview. I like to think of the possibility that we as a planet and humans can accomplish, to help other people and not be xenophobic, to respect difference and learn from them, to protect the planet over profit.

 

There are those who live in fear and they become more conservative as they do not understand change, while there are those who look in wonder of the possibilities of our future.

 

Yes, SCIENCE FICTION made me into a LIBERAL, and I am very grateful.

Kevin G Shinnick

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THE ALIEN FACTOR (1978) limited edition Blu Ray 1000 copies only

ALEINTHE ALIEN FACTOR (1978) Blu Ray Limited SIGNED Edition (Retromedia) only 1,000 (signed by actor George Stover) color 1980 80 minutes. Anamorphic, Color, Widescreen $19.99
https://www.amazon.com/ALIEN-FACTOR-Blu-Limited-SIGNED/dp/B01GW7PNRE/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1467754988&sr=1-1&keywords=the+alien+factor

 

From the 1960’s through the 80s, you could actually go to the theatre and see films that were shot independently by regional moviemakers. Some could be eerie classics like CARNIVAL OF SOULS (Herts-Lion,1962) from Lawrence Kansas, and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (Image 10/Continental,1968) from Pittsburgh, Pa; and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (Bryanston ,1974) from Round Rock, Texas. Others were not so impressive like THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION (Group 1,1975) from Merrill Wisconsin or GURU THE MAD MONK (Wm Mishkin ,1970) from New York.

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A film that kind of falls in the middle ground is THE ALIEN FACTOR (Cinemagic Visual Effects 1978) from Perry Hill, Maryland. Quite ambitious (several varied extraterrestrial creatures from space terrorize a small Maryland town), the subject stretches way past it’s tiny budget. It does succeed, however, in being quite entertaining, though sometimes not in the way it expected.

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The acting, to be charitable, is often of the mumble or shout “look at me-acting “school. That is due to the bugaboo of many a low budget films, using non actors in roles. Often crew members stepped before the lens to be vanquished by one of the monsters before stepping safely back behind the camera. Plus, Don Dohler had no experience in directing (save for some Super 8 monster films) and so was unable to tamper or balance the performance. Having written the script as well, he was unable to hear the clumsy dialog often given to his performers (“Jack-stick it out” often is greeted with laughs due to its double entendre nature).

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Where the film does shine is in its special effects. From the opening title on *we are treated to both optical effects as well as stop motion, perspective miniatures, and several monster suits and a victim of progeria (though how they felt the victim, who looks like a werewolf who has gone green, suffered from a disease that causes the appearance of rapid aging is amazing to me).2zf4cqd The creatures work with various degrees of success (a basement reveal of one is an actual effective jump scare), though the longer that they are on camera the easier it is to find flaws, especially as they are often out in snow exteriors during the day.

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The film became a regular on television syndication due to the success of STAR WARS (Fox,1977). Gold Key Entertainment, anxious to cash in on the new sci fi craze, bought distribution rights to anything that might fall into that category. The package included DARK STAR (Bryanston ,1974), FANTASTIC INVASION OF PLANET EARTH (aka THE BUBBLE, Arch Oboler Productions, 1966) and many more. Here is the press video sent out to various markets to sell the package to the local tv stations https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nagBkBZ2a98&feature=youtu.be .

The Alien Factor VHS

Plus, at the same time, the burgeoning video market saw the film become a staple at video stores from VCI and MEDIA (MEDIA having been found in 1978 by filmmaker Charles Band). RETROMEDIA picked up the DVD rights in 2002, and then in 2005 it was released with FIEND as a co bill. The co-bill release had an audio commentary by George Stover, as well as a blooper reel (as well as a FIEND blooper reel) and photo gallery. In 2011, Mill Creek Enertainment somehow added the film to a 50 (!) film 12-disc set called SCI-FI INVASION, with very low quality prints and no extras.alien-fiend-don-dohler-collection-george-stover-dvd-cover-art

For this new BLU RAY release, RETROMEDIA didn’t just reissue their previous release, but went all out and found an original print, cleaned it up and gave it a new 2K HD WIDESCREEN scan from the 16mm negative.

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What results is an amazingly sharp print.

Having only seen the film in boxy and grainy tv and video prints, I was astonished to see how really clean and sharp a lot of the photography is. The film was shot in 16mm and blown up to 35mm, which probably accounted for the grain and poor lab work the muddy colors that were previously the only ones available. However, the sharper images also reveals a few more of the flaws, such as the small openings in the eyes of the Alien Pilot (who resembles a George Pal Morlock in a track suit).alienfact16

Rather than just port over the previous commentary, George Stover recorded comments from the cast and crew who were scattered all over the country and edited them into the appropriate sequences, as well as adding his own insights and bios of those who were involved that are no longer with us.

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Other extras include a
– “Behind The Scenes “Featurette-George Stover showing some of the original props as well as the painting used for the video cover, as well as showing that an acetate of an alien was placed over a screaming woman depicted, as it was felt that she looked too cartoonish.The Alien Factor VHS

alienfactorThe Television Years Featurette (appearances and plugs on Dick Dyzel’s Count Gore De Vol series)

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– ‘Meet The Cast & Crew” Featurette -various clips shot of cast and crew talking about their experience on making the film and showing some of the props today.alienfact23

– ‘Alien Factor Reunion” -home video recording of the cast and crew at a local convention, though director Don Dohler was unable to attend. You get to see how truly funny the late actor Don Liefert was in his recollections.Cinemagic09-1

Ported over from the previous 2005 Retromedia release are

An Alternate Leemoid Sequence with Commentary Trackalienfactor7.jpgorinal lemoid

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-and the Original Retromedia “Drive-In Theatre “introduction featuring Fred Olen Ray and Kymberly Ray. fred kym

This release is limited to only 1000 copies and previous RETROMEDIA releases (like BIOHAZARD ,21st Century ;1985) that have gone out of print are now fetching at least three times the original cost, so definitely grab this title for your collection quickly.

ALIEN FACTOR has been the subject of good natured kidding by CINEMATIC TITANICposter - alien factor-sm (an off shoot of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE 3000), as well as mentioned in various documentaries such as

BLOOD BOOBS AND BEASTS (superbly done by filmmaker
John Paul Kinhart in 2007 and released by Troma)BBBPost

And the recent DVD release NO STOPPING THE STOVER (Alpha New Cinema ,2016, to be reviewed shortly)
http://www.oldies.com/product-view/1100D.htmlno stop

but I suggest that you definitely pick up this labor of love  Blu Ray release of ALIEN FACTOR from Retromedia release.alienfact23

Highly recommended.

Kevin G Shinnick

*- Ernie Farino, who like others who worked with Dohler, went on to careers in major motion pictures. Farino, for example, worked on THE TERMINATOR (Hemdale,1984).alienfact26

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1960s, American International Pictures, Arrow Video, BLOOD BATH, Blu Ray, cult, fantasy, genre, ghosts, Horror, Jack Hill, obscure, Patrick Magee, Portrait In Terror, rare, review, Roger Corman, Rondo Awards, Stephanie Rothman, t.v., The FilmGroup, TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, vampire, VAMPIRES, wierd, William Campbell

BLOOD BATH

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BLOOD BATH (Arrow) Limited Edition 2 disc Blu Ray (b&w,1963-67) released May ,2016. $33.97
https://www.amazon.com/Blood-2-Disc-Limited-Special-Blu-ray/dp/B01BIEHMHA/189-2814066-0356520?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Arrow Video has become one of the premier companies for uncovering rare and unusual cult films and going the extra effort to not only to clean up the films for release, but tracking down the best possible elements worldwide, as well as a bevy of extras that boggles the mind. One suspects that the team at Arrow not only wishes to keep their wonderful company going, but are also film geeks extraordinaire themselves.

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This is proven by their limited release edition of BLOOD BATH (AIP ,1966). BLOOD BATH is a fun little vampire film by way of A BUCKET OF BLOOD (Alta Vista/AIP,1959) along with imagery that harkens to THE THIRD MAN (London Films ,1949) as well as foreign locales that add to the production values.

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(The Third Man ,Dutch Angles in a Viennese Street)

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                                                                  (OPERATION TITIAN, the shadow knows)

 

It was therefore surprising that BLOOD BATH was in fact a Shapeshifter of a film, or at least, was just one variation of a total of four different edits and incarnations with reshoots and redubs. Patrick Magee goes from major character to minor while Sid Haig suddenly appears. Bill Campbell goes from looking for a lost art masterpiece to crazed madman to a vampire played by another uncredited performer who looks nothing like him.

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All the existing variants (Jack Hill’s BLOOD BATH remains lost) are presented here in fine restorations.
The original OPERATION TITIAN (1963, aka Operacija Ticijan) was a Yugoslavian thriller that ran 95 minutes. Roger Corman, while scouting for new foreign films that he could redub and resell to the American market, was approached with a proposition, invest $20 grand and provide the American (or at least, English speaking leads), and Corman would have the U.S. rights the finished product. The idea of such a small investment for a finished film intrigued Corman, and so he provided two actors already in Europe and had worked with him on DEMENTIA 13 (Filmgroup,1963), William Campbell (perhaps today best known for his brilliant turn in the classic STAR TREK episode, “The Squire of Gothos” (Paramount/NBC ,1967). Irish actor Patrick Magee is best known by his turn in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (WB,1971) as the vengeful Mr. Alexander. The final film was considered unreleasable by Corman and so he set about trying to save his investment.hKki1BNKACrNef5zUMrucPhCJyn

 

 

PORTRAIT IN TERROR – was the first variant. Stephanie Rothman shot some new footage, approximately 10 minutes, basically adding some violence (one murder is padded out by five minutes!) , the original musical score is replaced with music from LAST WOMAN ON EARTH (Filmgroup,1959) and DEMENTIA 13 (Filmgroup,1963). Still the main body of the film was trimmed and so the film still ran only a little under 82 minutes. It was sold in 1967 by AIP Television as part of a package and received no theatrical release.

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BLOOD BATHCorman still felt there was possibilities in his property, and so invested even more dollars into trying to make a film that would make him a return on investment. Jack Hill got to shoot a new film as long as he used at least 30 minutes of footage from OPERATION TITIAN. He had about 5 days for shooting the project. Actor Campbell was brought back at a higher salary to shoot what he was told was new footage but instead was shocked to discover the plot had turned him into a mad killer! Hill finished his cut but left to film another project instead.

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Hill’s cut was never released and is unavailable but we do have the version that Stephanie Rothman shot using 4 minutes from OPERATION TITIAN and 37 minutes from Hill’s. The original mad killer plot of Hill’s version was changed now to a vampire who looks nothing like Marshall. This is explained by having that he is possessed! Magee is nonexistent in the new film, save for one shot of him from the original film of him covered in wax. New characters were added, new footage, some with doubles and redubbing’s ensued and this is the version which we now know. This was released theatrically with QUEEN OF BLOOD (AIP ,1966). Corman must have been seething, as the movie had by this point probably more than films had shot himself completely. Still, he finally had a version that was released to U.S. theatres and later to television.

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         (Who IS this uncredited actor who plays the Vampire?)
However, since in its current state, BLOOD BATH was deemed too short (under 70 minutes) for sale to television, so once again new footage along with outtakes from OPERATION TITIAN (restoring Magee somewhat to the storyline) added 15 minutes to the movies running time, along with a new title, TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE (AIP,1967). Strangely ,it was released as part of the same tv package as PORTRAIT IN TERROR, so in effect, tv stations were buying the same film twice!

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The print and picture quality are superb throughout, especially given the movie(s) strange history. There is some speckling on OPERATION TITIAN, due to what appears to tape marks that could not be removed from the master print. Watching the films’ back to back is an interesting experience, one that left me wondering which film was I now viewing! However, it is also an exercise I recommend for any budding filmmakers that show how important editing is to a film.Blood Bath vlcsnap-2016-05-29-00h53m34s852_zpsbw37yczt

 

Subtitles follow the dialogue fairly well, as well as noting key sound effects (piano plays)
Now if all this wasn’t worth getting this set, ARROW has added some wonderful extras.

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First up is ‘The Trouble with Titian Revisited”, a brand new documentary on the muddled history of the film, running 81 minutes, or as long as most cuts of the film!! This brilliant piece, which I feel will be a leading contender for the Rondo Awards next year, is an expansion and video essay of the three-part examination by Tim Lucas from Video Watchdog issues 4,5, and 7. Indeed, it was that series of articles from which many of us first became aware that the film had undergone so many incarnations. Lucas himself narrates.

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Next, Sid Haig speaks for under 5 minutes on his remembrances of the film, giving most of the credit to Jack Hill, plus how his beard changed length over the course of filming.

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A 3-minute video interview with the Jack Hill recalls has the director recall his involvement with the project and how it changed.IMG_20160620_171553931
Finally, there is a short still gallery which includes some interesting behind the scenes shots of shooting Jack Hill’s version as well as the QUEEN OF BLOOD / BLOOD BATH press book. The address given for AIP in NY ,165 W 46th Street, NY NY 10036 is now the home of ACTORS EQUITY, which is a bit ironic when you consider how often Corman and SAG (Screen Actors Guild) clashed.

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Included is a reversible Blu Ray cover featuring original art by Dan Mumford ,with the other side using original lobby card art for BLOOD BATH .  There is also a reversible poster of both .

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Also ,an informative collectible  booklet that provides nice information on stars Haig ,Magee & Campbell ,as well as a nice little piece concerning he films.

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If you are interested at all in how films can be made remade and changed (currently the major motion picture SUICIDE SQUAD (WB,2016) is undergoing major reshoots months after it wrapped initially in an attempt to change the tone of the film), then I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you buy this limited edition set.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
-Kevin G Shinnick

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
•Limited Edition collection of the complete ‘Blood Bath

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•High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of four versions of the film: Operation Titian, Portrait in Terror, Blood Bath and Track of the Vampire

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•Brand new 2K restorations of Portrait in Terror, Blood Bath and Track of the Vampire from original film materialsbloodbath3
•Brand new reconstruction of Operation Titian using original film materials and standard definition inserts

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•Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on all four versions
The Trouble with Titian Revisited – a brand new visual essay in which Tim Lucas returns to (and updates) his three-part Video Watchdog feature to examine the convoluted production history of Blood Bath and its multiple versionsIMG_20160620_171732878
Bathing in Blood with Sid Haig – a new interview with the actor, recorded exclusively for this release
•Outtakes from Track of the Vampire, scanned from original film materials
•Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artworks
•Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Dan Mumford

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•Limited edition booklet containing new writing on the film and its cast by Peter Stanfield, Anthony Nield, Vic Pratt and Cullen Gallagher

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1930S, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, book, BOOK REVIEW, books, cult, Encyclopedia, fantasy, genre, Horror, humor, McFarland, obscure, rare, review, rpg, SCIENCE FICTION, Silent, SILENTS, t.v., tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, Western, westerns, wierd

Encyclopedia Of Weird Westerns -a SCARLET book review

wierd westerns cover

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WEIRD WESTERNS by Paul Green (McFarland, publication February 2016) 320 pages-softcover $39.95 www.mcfarlandpub.com .

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Ever since seeing PHANTOM EMPIRE (1935, Mascot) on television, I have enjoyed westerns that not your typical gunslinger tale. It seems that I am not alone in my enjoyment of these genre mash ups, as author /comic artist Paul Green has tracked down horror, fantasy, sci fi tales of the Old West (or western tinged tales).

Green casts a wide lasso to hog tie in film, stories, games, and comic books that touch on these hybrid tales.

Some of the titles may raise a few eyebrows for their inclusion (STAR WARS, Fox 1977) as Space Westerns, and a few for their omission (THE TERROR OF TINY TOWN, Principal 1938) though the author clarifies why he feels certain titles don’t fall under the definition “Weird Western”. However, where is GHOST TOWN (Empire,1988)? He lists several other Charles Band produced films so I am surprised he missed this one.

 

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(GHOST TOWN disappeared from the book )

Most fascinating was how far back in literature these oddball oaters went. In 1868, “The Huge Hunter or The Steam Man of the Prairies “by Edward Sylvester Ellis was published, featuring a steam powered robot (true STEAM punk!) . Dime novels, pulps, and magazine serials all spun out tales of when the uncanny went West.

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I do recall in the 1960s a lot of comic books have science fantasy and outright horror stories mixed in with the six gun slinging chronicles. Many of these inspired big (and not so big) budget films and tv series such as COWBOYS & ALIENS (Universal ,2011).

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There are even several role playing games for those so inclined ,such as DEADLANDS (Pinnacle Entertainment Group,1996 )and it’s follow ups.

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Author Green choses some pretty choice illustrations for the comic art, giving small bios on artists like John Severin who did a lot of work in the craft. Likewise, he provides some rare lobby cards and photos from the cinematic world.

All and all, a pretty good research book on this subgenre of sage brush strangeness.

Kevin G Shinnick

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