I for one welcome our crustacean overlords.
Even if you’ve never seen ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS, you probably still know it by heart. It is the perfect model of the drive-in B-movie, a sublime mix of papier-mache creatures, suggestive sexuality, and dodgy science, with just a bit of cold-war philosophy thrown in for tang. This is one of Roger Corman’s earliest films, and despite the bare-bones budget and having the ever-pressing theme of identity loss being delivered via the medium of giant, telepathic crabs with big, googly eyes, the master of the B’s makes the experience sixty minutes of pure hoot.
The Temple of Bad team of Andrea Lipinski, Kevin Lauderdale, Orenthal Hawkins, and Dan Persons welcome their special guest, Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, to giggle along at the silliness, praise the kind of good-bad film that’s all too rare but always welcome, and make far too many references to drawn butter. Click on the player to hear the show.
Nope, no big openings this weekend, and everybody is too busy talking Oscars right now (we’ll get to that later in the week). So while waiting for the awards ceremony to begin, the Cinefantastique Online team of the Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French and Dan Persons got together to celebrate another film having its fiftieth anniversary this year. It’s Larry’s call this time around, and he’s picked a good ‘un: THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, Roger Corman’s adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe story that casts Vincent Price as a Satan-worshiping noble who just wants to be loved — and corrupt anyone who comes within sneering distance — while an horrific pestilence spreads across the Italian countryside.
This time the team is in accord that this is not just, at the very least, one of Corman’s best Poe adaptations — possibly the best — but also a bona fide horror classic, lushly mounted and photographed (by Nicolas Roeg!), intelligently adapted by Charles Beaumont and R. Wright Campbell, and featuring an impressive cast headed up by Price in one of his finest performances. Come listen in as the guys delve in-depth into what makes this a must-see film for any dedicated fan of cinematic terror.
You’d think the weekend before Halloween that the studios would be falling all over themselves to get something suitably bone-chilling into theaters. Nope, turns out the lackluster CARRIE — the film that is to horror what a pouch of baby carrots is to a trick-or-treat bag — represents the full extent of what Hollywood wants to offer up for the season. Not good enough. So it falls to Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons to offer up some more appropriately scary movies to get you in the mood. We discuss what makes a movie appropriate for a night of spooky fun, talk about the legacy of John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN, and take a glimpse into the team-up of Roger Corman and Vincent Price.
Also, Steve discusses his experiences at this year’s batch of Halloween haunts, and Dan gives his take on the experimental horror film, TOAD ROAD. Plus, what’s coming to theaters next week.
Logan does not find a safe haven in Japan… Roger Corman finds evil ghosts in China… Russian soldiers find creepy zombots in FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY…
From the luxurious Cinefantastique Online studios in NYC, Dan Persons brings you up-to-date on what’s happening in the world of fantastic film & TV.
FULL-SIZE VIDEO IS BELOW
Do you ever feel your Sense of Wonder being overwhelmed? We certainly did this past weekend (in terms of quantity if not quality) with no less than six horror, fantasy, and/or science fiction films opening in U.S. theatres – some nationwide, some in limited engagements. EVIL DEAD, THALE, and EDDIE: THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL were covered in a previous Spotlight Podcast earlier this week. That leaves JURASSIC PARK, 6 SOULS, and THE BRASS TEAPOT for this follow-up edition.
Podcasters Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski delve deeply into the prehistory of the Steven Spielberg classic, based on Michael Crichton’s novel, which has been re-released in a new 3D conversion, including IMAX engagements. Does depth add a new dimension of terror to the 1990s computer-generated imagery? And how does the film hold up two decades after its original release?
After that, Biodrowski offers capsule comments on 6 SOULS (a supernatural thriller starring Julianne Moore) and THE BRASS TEAPOT (a comic-fantasy about a couple who discover a teapot that gives them free money – when they hurt themselves). Lawrence French wraps up with an account of seeing producer Thom Mount (who was interviewing director Roman Polanski via Skype at the Roxy Theatre in San Francisco) and learning from Mount that there is director’s cut of Roger Corman’s neglected FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND (1990) lying in the Warner Brothers vaults. If only Warner Brothers could be persuaded to release that version on Blu-ray disc!
It’s amazing some researchers haven’t figured out a way of determining personalities based on what aspect of Frank Oz’s career one is impressed with. Of course there’s Yoda — Frank voiced the beloved, and powerful, Jedi master, operated the puppet for most of the STAR WARS films, and for many helped form the heart and soul of the franchise. For me, it’s both the time he spent with Jim Henson — developing characters such as Miss Piggy and Grover and innovating puppetry in that surprisingly visionary company — and his work in the director’s chair for LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, taking the musical stage adaptation of the Roger Corman’s dark comedy and creating a rich and wondrous, albeit murderous, film world. I was able to talk with Oz on the occasion of the Blu-ray release of the film, which restores the original, apocalyptic Don’t Feed the Plants finale that was cut from the theatrical release. We also got to talk Muppets, STAR WARS, and the mysterious allure of sequel rumors. Click on the player to hear the show.
Italy has brought us so many wonderful things: Fellini; lasagna; Silvio Berlusconi (that last is debatable). But among the many marvels borne of those shores, truly the most wondrous has to be the knock-off film, a genre that took groundbreaking, innovative American titles and replicated them with a low-budget zeal and enough questionable technical prowess to make them their own classics. Loved JAWS? Wait’ll you see TENTACLES, the Italian version that features a giant octopus (plus the all-star quadrifecta of John Huston, Henry Fonda, Shelley Winters, and Claude Akins!). Got nightmares from THE EXORCIST? You should check out THE RETURN OF THE EXORCIST, which, despite the title, has neither Jason Miller nor Max von Sydow in the lead, but does offer Richard Conte in his final performance.
And if you just couldn’t get enough of STAR WARS, then the ever-inventive Italian filmmakers were willing to feed your hunger with STARCRASH, a faithful replication of CHAPTER IV: A NEW HOPE — if by “faithful” one means cheesy special effects, hammy acting and a storyline so muddled that audiences couldn’t help but proclaim, “Y’know, THE PHANTOM MENACE wasn’t that bad.” Forsaking their Jedi code, Temple of Bad residents Andrea Lipinski, Kevin Lauderdale, and I allow ourselves a flirtation with the Dark Side, one that here also claimed the souls of Caroline Munro, Marjoe Gortner, Christopher Plummer and (swoon) David Hasselhoff. In this episode, we unburden ourselves of an experience so devastating that even Lord Darth Vader would have cried, “Padme! Noooooooo!!!” Oh, wait, he did. Never mind.
La Forza può salvarti da film scadente!
THEME SONG: I Wonder If God was Sleeping by scottaltham
Song covered under Creative Commons
Motion Pictures Greatest Terror Personalities: Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone, Peter Lorre – Together for the first time!
This trailer from TALES OF TERROR provides an interesting glimpse into how movies were sold to audiences back in 1962. Curiously, the omnibus film’s three episodes are presented in reverse order from their actual appearance in the film. Also noteworthy: the tongue-in-cheek middle episode is acknowledged as being “sardonically humorous” – a tactic that distributor American International Pictures would avoid when releasing the comical THE RAVEN a year later, presenting it as a straight horror thriller.
As part of Cinefantastique’s 50th anniversary tribute to TALES OF TERROR (1962), we recently posted a podcast discussing producer-director Roger Corman’s three-part omnibus of horror inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe. As scintillating as the podcast conversation might be, it cannot capture the aesthetic achievements of the film, which features impressive production design (by Daniel Haller) and lovely cinematography (by Floyd Crosby). Therefore, we present this pictorial retrospective, showcasing horror stars Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Basil Rathbon, in the episodes MORELLA, THE BLACK CAT, and THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR.
With no new horror, fantasy, or science fiction films opening this weekend, Cinefantastique stalwarts Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski keep their Sense of Wonder alive by turning the clock back five decades for a retrospective celebration of TALES OF TERROR (1962), producer-director Roger Corman’s fourth film inspired by the work of Edgar Allan Poe. With a witty screenplay by Richard Matheson (THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN), and a cast including Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone, this three-part anthology serves up the expected chills and thrills, along with a perhaps unexpected dose of merriment, in MORELLA, THE BLACK CAT, and THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. The result is a classic example of 1960s terror cinema, colorful and atmospheric, with impressive art direction by Daniel Haller, beautifully captured by cinematographer Floyd Crosby, with an ethereal score by Les Baxter.
So listen in as Steve and Larry open the vault to exhume the buried behind-the-scenes secrets and the arcane aesthetics of this popuri of Poe. The result is a scintillating CFQ Spotlight podcast, which answers the immortal question: What the hell happened to that missing limbo scene?