Sunday, November 29, 2009

Six friends and a corpse named Orville.

Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1973)

Director: Bob Clark

Writers: Bob Clark, Alan Ormsby

Starring: Alan Ormsby, Valerie Mamches, Jeff Gillen, Anya Ormsby, Jane Daly, Seth Sklarey

"I peed in my pants!"

Alan and The Funky Bunch

Sometimes it takes a few years and a second chance. First impressions aren't always reliable. Sometimes our reactions are colored by the audience we're with at the time. So seeing something alone is a must for an accurate assessment of a film.

Just married

The film opens with a fog shrouded graveyard. A lone caretaker spies a strangely dressed man standing over a open grave. When he moves toward the man a ghoul lurches at him from out of the fog. Cut to Alan (Ormsby) and his troupe of actors on a charter sailboat heading to an island somewhere of the cost of Florida. Alan is a controlling and sleazy little director who wants to do a little black magic on the island. It turns out the island is used for a burial site for some of the less then desirable elements of society. Though the group protest at first they go along with Alan's bizzaro shenanigans, in fear of loosing their jobs. Nothing happans. Not satisfied Alan has them take the corpse of the freshly dug up Orville (Sklarey) back to the caretaker's cabin. There Alan stages a mock ceremony were he marries Orville! The two ghouls from the opening turn out to be cohorts of Alan's, who've tied up the caretaker. As the two filling in a open grave, whilst the poor caretaker looks on all tied and gagged the dead finally rise. The dead shamble out of their graves and trap Alan and the gang in the cabin. Will anyone make it out alive? Will the dead get their vengeance? Will Alan and Orville slip away for their honeymoon? Have you managed to stay awake?

All the fixins

Well I've only seen Children once before. A friend had it on VHS (That'll tell you how long ago it was!) cassette. I watched it with a group of friends and found it boring. At an hour and a half we're not treated to any zombie goings on till the last thirty minutes. There's really no likable characters (Alan is one of horror cinema's all time prize winning dicks.) to care about. The thing is at the time I couldn't appreciate the weird and wacky world of 70s horror. Many, many moons later I really love the stuff! In fact the more bizarre the better. Children isn't for everyone. It takes it's sweet ass time getting to the goods. But there's ample strangeness and bad fashions to get us over the hump. If your a fan of the stranger side of 70's horror, dodgey acting and zombies Children is a good way to go. I definitely plan on visiting Alan, Orville and the gang again sometime on that foggy island graveyard.

Ready for his close-up

Bob Clark had a long and varied career in film. A Christmas Story, Porky's, Murder by Decree, Deathdream and of course Black Christmas. You were taken too soon in 2007 Mr. Clark, we miss you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Movies I love: The Black Cat (1934)

"You say your soul was killed, that you have been dead all these years. And what of me? Did we not both die here in Marmorus 15 years ago? Are we any the less victims of the war than those whose bodies were torn asunder? Are we not both the living dead? And now you come to me, playing at being an avenging angel, childishly thirsting for my blood. We understand each other too well. We know too much of life."

Here's a film I can watch multiple times a year. Karloff and Lugosi's first film together, they completely knock it out of the park. Both are in top form here. One of Bela's few roles as a good guy, Dr. Werdegast. Though the doctor is so emotionally scarred he seems capable of all most anything in his vendetta against Karloff's Hjalmar Poelzig. Poelzig a architect and occultist gives Boris the opportunity to play an incredibility creepy and mannered villain. Poelzig's castle is a high-tech, art deco masterpiece of set design. A truly amazing and dark film and one of my all time favorite Universal horror pics of the '30s.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Boris Karloff and the Wall of Voodoo

Voodoo Island (1957)

Director: Reginald Le Borg

Writer: Richard H. Landau

Starring: Boris Karloff, Beverly Tyler, Elisha Cook Jr., Rhodes Reason, Owen Cunningham,

"I'd give a lot just for a shower and some clean clothes. And a double martini!"

Floating Voodoo doll guy

Time for the Boris Karloff Blog-A-Thon! I thought I'd go with something, well more up my alley. In other words something bad. Behold, Voodoo Island!

Right there with you

Wealthy hotel tycoon, Howard Carlton (Cunningham) wants to build a hot new resort on some tropical island. But only one of the four surveyors sent to the island returned. In a zombie like trance state. Carlton hires Phillip Knight (Karloff), who specializes in debunking myths and superstitions. Knight decides that taking Mitchell the surveyor to the island is the best way to cure him. Carlton agrees and sends an expedition that includes Knight, his assistant Sara, Carlton's right-hand man Barney and designer Claire Winter.

I call him Mr. Pinchy 

The next day the group boards a plane and heads to an outpost owned by the resort manager Martin Schuler (Cook), with him is his assistant Matthew Gunn (Rhodes Reason). They plan to head to the island from there and look for the other three surveyors. Gunn takes to trying to get it on with Ms Winter. But she gives him the old brush off. That night Mitchell dies mysteriously. Pointing towards the island before he dies. Knight concludes that poor Mitchell died of fright. The next morning the group takes a boat to the island, but the boat starts to break down and they have to leave it via row boat. Once they get there they discover the campsite of the survey team. So the intrepid group decide to use it as their own. They also get menaced by the worst crab puppet ever. Meanwhile, Gunn hits on Claire again.

Feed Me!  (Sorry)

Claire: "Give me a cigarette, will you, Gunn?"
Gunn: "Sure."
Claire: "Now drop dead."
Gunn: "Any time you say. You make it sound exciting."

Gunn decides it's a no-go and moves on to try his luck with Sara. The men go to the boat to get supplies. They leave the ladies to take care of the campsite. Claire goes on a stroll. She sees a pond and goes for a swim. While swimming a hungry plant decides to make a meal out of her. Later Sara finds her body and freaks out. Gunn uses this as a reason to bond with her. Finch wanders off and sees a native kid get eaten by one of the killer plants. He loses his shit and comes undone. Later on, the remaining members of the group get captured by the natives and brought to see the chief. Now it's up to Knight to get the survivors off the island without them becoming zombies.

Boris doesn't buy it 

Poor Boris, he definitely adds class to this otherwise cheap time waster. He tries to make it interesting, but sadly there's not much going on in this film other the lots and lots of walking thru the jungle. Karloff plays Knight as a rational scientist who likes to debunk anything supernatural, and a shrewd investigator. Elisha Cook Jr. is the other stand out here, playing the typical sniveling complainer type of character these movies always have. Also of interest is the touch lesbianism brought to the film by Claire who turns down Gunn repeatedly and lasciviously eyes Sara.

Hello, Hello, Hello...Hello

If you really need to waste some time this will do an okay job of it. Plus you see a giant plant eat a women and a cameo by Adam "Batman" West.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Interview With David A. Prior

David A. Prior has made over 30 feature films. He's done everything from producing, writing, directing to editing. From horror (Sledgehammer) to Sci-fi (Future Force) to Crime dramas (Center of the Web). He's worked with actors ranging from the late David Carradine to Tony Curtis. Recently I had the pleasure to interview Mr. Prior about his career as a filmmaker.

What inspired you to become a director?

The truth is I was trying to get a movie made and could not afford to hire a director so I did it myself. But before that I had never considered myself as being a director.

Is there any one film or director that stands apart as being the most influential on your work?

As far as a film-maker I would have to say Stephen Spielberg. He’s incredible. Take a look at the top 15 films of all time and his name will be there several times. As far as a movie it is very difficult to pick just one and I really don’t think that I can.

What can you tell us about your first fill, a slasher film from 1983 called Sledgehammer?

Not much to tell really. Making Sledgehammer was simpy getting a movie made, anyway, any how. Just to prove that I could do it.

One of my favorite films of your's is Future Force. Can you tell us a little about the making of that film?

Shooting Future Force in L.A. was a tough picture to make. Because we only had David Carradine for a very short period of time, it was necessary to shoot just his side of all his scenes. Meaning we never shot the other person talking to him on the same day. And after we were finished with David and he left us, we went back to every location and re-lit them, and shot the other side of those scenes, hoping they would match, which they did.

Your brother Ted has appeared in a number of your films. What's it like directing your brother?

Ted and I have always worked well together. He gets on my nerves sometimes and I get on his sometimes but for the most part things always worked out for the best. Having been room mates for most our younger adult life, we were closer than a lot of brothers are.

You have served as director, editor, producer, and writer on a number of films. Is there one that you enjoy more than others?

I like them all and I hate them all. The most educational though is editing. Any one out there who thinks they are going to be a director some day would be doing themselves a great service by doing some editing first. And the reason is that editing teaches you exactly what you need to shoot and what is a waste to shoot and this can and will be critical to any lower budget production.

Can you tell us a little about your writing process?

My writing process is more about making myself do it than anything else. If I push myself I can write a really good script in a matter of days, but often times that stretches out to weeks and even longer. And it’s not a matter of getting blocked, it’s more like I’m running away from it. It’s a weird dynamic. I love it and I hate it.

What advice would you give to anyone contemplating a career in lower budget genre films?

Work hard and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Ever! And try to be different. There is now a huge glut of these low budget movies that every body and their brother seems to be making on video and you need to make movies that can rise above the crowd of them. Otherwise you don’t stand a chance of any meaningful distribution.

What projects can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

Watch for something called “The One Warrior”. I plan to start shooting it in a couple of months and anybody who has ever played an adventure video game will love it.

Any final message for our readers?

Thanks for watching, and keep it up!

You can check out Mr. Prior's web site here...
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