Sunday, September 23, 2018

dressed for excess.

Brilliant article over at Vintage Everyday showcasing Jacques Fonteray and Paco Rabanne's frankly fantastic costume designs for the 1968 Roger Vadim movie Barbarella.


Enjoy a taster.

















Saturday, September 22, 2018

plug!

Now available - Presenting over 200 pages of horrific Victorian fact and fiction,and featuring art by me, Gaslit and Gruesome is now on sale from Amazon.


one dark knight...

With all the buzz surrounding the Todd Phillips directed, Joaquin Phoenix starring Joker movie culminating in the first stills of Phoenix as the Clown Prince of Crime being released this week I remembered a very lucid bat-based dream I experienced a couple of years back after partaking in a few ales.

"Laugh Now!"



Luckily I awoke to find a pen and paper on the bedside cabinet and excitedly wrote it down.

Obviously I did this before I noticed the dead rent boy at the bottom of the bed but that's a different story.

Obviously it has to be based on The Dark Knight Returns due to the fact that in the passed 30-odd years it appears that no fucker as ever read anything else.

So anyway, here goes*.


"No, Joker. You’re playing the wrong game. The old game. Tonight you’re taking no hostages. Tonight I’m taking no prisoners!" John Cassavetes as an older, wiser Bruce Wayne.


'Batman: The Dark Knight Returns'

(loosely) based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller.


Dir.
Nicolas Winding Refn.

Prod: Stanley Kubrick.

Adapted for the screen by Truman Capote and Anthony Burgess

Original music: Cliff Martinez and Wendy Carlos.


Cast:


Bruce Wayne/Batman: John Cassavetes

The Joker: Malcolm McDowell
 

Commissioner Gordon: Lee Marvin

Two Face:
Udo Kier
 

Alfred Pennyworth: Vincent Price

Robin: Emma Stone

Superman: John Phillip Law 


Bruno: Ajita Wilson

Oliver Queen: Doug McClure

Selina Kyle: Helga Line

Dave Endochrine: Dustin Hoffman.








For added realism McDowell actually underwent a painful bleaching process to obtain The Joker's deathly pallor.
 

Despised by critics yet loved by cinema goers,
the big screen adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns popularity among lefties annoyed it's creator, Frank Miller so much that vowed never to allow another one of his stories to be adapted in any medium. 

Eventually, after realizing that he needed cash for a new cowboy hat he relented and finally allowed all of his properties to be adapted by anyone with a dollar and/or right wing leanings.





The Bat mask interior as envisaged by  Jean Giraud


 


The behind the scenes story is as exciting as anything on screen tho', with triple Oscar winner Nicolas Winding Refn taking over the project after Dario Argento, Alejandro Jodorwosky, Shane Black, John Boorman, and Takashi Miike failed to stay attached to the film. 

During the Jodorwosky production, Mick Jagger was slated to play the Joker, tho' Jagger reportedly actually appeared on set, his scenes shot at various locations around the world due to The Rolling Stones being in the middle of a world tour.

These scenes were to be inserted into the final film at a later date using technology created by producer Stanley Kubrick. 

It was this period that saw pre-production costs spiraling 12 years and 250 million dollars over-budget, almost bankrupting Warner Brothers and causing Jodorwosky to secretly escape from America seeking refuge in Mexico where he hoped to film the entire movie and where construction of the full sized Gotham City sets had begun in earnest

The Jean Giraud inspired Batmobile. 47 different versions were built for the film.


Trivia:

Some of the concept art by French cartoonist Jean (Moebius) Giraud were eventually used in Terry Zwigoff's stage adaptation of Marvel's Alpha Flight (2019).

Scarily Klaus Kinski was cast as the Joker for Argento's version and 70% percent of his scenes were in the can before he became increasingly deluded that he was being stalked by Mick Jagger in revenge for 'stealing' his role. 


Three weeks before the end of shooting Kinski disappeared on the same day that Jagger went missing from a Florida hotel room.

After a countrywide search it was discovered that after numerous phone altercations with the Jagger, Kinski had kidnapped the singer in an attempt to replace him on stage and during a gig in Washington blow himself and the rest of The Stones to pieces in revenge for what he said were Great Britain's crimes against popular culture.

No charges were filed.



























*If anyone from Warner's is reading this I'm available.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

bigfoot strikes again.

Between The Abominable Snowman and Abominable I've been on a wee bit of a Bigfoot bender recently - there are plenty more Sasquatch-based shockers here, see if you can find them, go on it's fun! - but thought I'd save the best till last.

And it's a true story.

Enjoy.


Sasquatch, the Legend of Bigfoot (1977).
Dir: Ed Ragozzino.
Cast: Chuck Evans, Terry Blackhawk, Josh Bigsby, Bob Vernon, Dr. Paul Markham, Barney Snipe and Hank Parshall.*





The incredible story of seven men who defied death in a primitive wilderness where no man had gone before.... and survived to tell the shocking story of this legendary creature.


Opening with some jaunty country type tunes over - burned out and blurry - stock footage of a variety of forest dwelling wildlife, living in harmony and frolicking about with gay abandon the mood suddenly changes and, like some kind of Disney style snuff movie, the ickle animals soon become agitated as an unseen presence (played by a big booted cameraman) stalks them off-screen culminating with the - frankly trouser filling - view of a hairy outline reflected in a stream while the sound of someone slamming a dogs bollocks in a car door echoes thu' the forest.

And if that don't grab ya I don't know what will.

Obviously the film-makers do tho' as after some lovely Letraset titles the screen is awash with zooming newspaper cuttings all to do with Bigfoot sightings over the years climaxing with the frankly terrifying Patterson–Gimlin film, shot by Roger Patterson on October 20, 1967, in Bluff Creek, California.

You know the one, it shows Bigfoot, cunningly disguised as a tall bloke in a moth-eaten gorilla outfit, strolling nonchalantly along a dry creek bed.

Seems legit.



The spooky voice-over guy goes on - in great detail - to explain that by 'inputting' every piece of Bigfoot data into a 'computer' that scientists working at the real sounding "North American Wildlife Research Centre" can discover the best place to look for him and after Govan is rejected for being too far away from the directors house the computer suggests a remote site in British Columbia.

Where luckily quite a few film-making tax breaks apply.

Enter - roughly against an old log, your dirty sausage fingers tearing at his filthy denims - Sasquatch expert and professor of tidy beards Chuck Evans (father of Chris, both of them) who has recently secured funding to mount an expedition in the hope of verifying the creature's existence.

Along for the ride is his seven man team of experts including Native American (aye right) tracker Terry Blackhawk, stinky chinned frontiersman  Josh Aloysius Bigsby (and his faithful mule Ted), New Yoik newshound 'Bouncy' Bob Vernon, anthropologist Dr. Paul Markham, chief cook and concubine Barney 'The Beast' Snipe and animal husbandry expert - and dog handler - the ginger prince 'Handsome' Hank Parshall who are all set to spend a few months on horseback as they descend into an uncharted wildness in order to find the mythical beast.

Or at the very least find some comfort in a nice hot piece of man ass on a cold snowy night.

No?

Just me then.

Erasure have let themselves go.





And with the introductions out of they way we're off into the woods for an adventure of a lifetime.

Well it would be if an adventure of a lifetime involved copious amounts of dull, unfocused shots of various unattractive blokes on horseback, gurning at each other whilst occasionally to stop you falling asleep/slashing your wrists with boredom someone hurls a drugged cougar at a pony to up the excitement factor.

What?

It is?

Well this is the film for you.

It's not all nature shots and animal abuse tho' as at various points in the film - usually just when you need the toilet - everyone will dismount and sit on logs whilst Josh Bigsby tugs on his beard and tells a true story pertaining to the Bigfoot.

The first of these you'll be thrilled to hear is the shit scary Ape Canyon incident, which took place near Mt. St. Helens in Washington State in July, 1924.

On a Wednesday.

Probably around teatime.

See? I knew you'd be excited.

But for those thick plebs who have no idea what we're talking about, here goes....

Fred Beck (father of The Devil's Haircut singer Beckley Beck) and his pals - played here by a group of local winos on the promise of a hot meal and a bed for the night - were busy 'panning for gold' in the hills surrounding the aforementioned  Ape Canyon when they began to notice evidence of unwanted visitors around their cabin.

Huge footprints in the dirt, shit in the butter dish and the toilet seat being left up, you know the kind of thing.

Putting it down to either their vivid imaginations - or wolves - the men, after a hard day looking for gold, head off to bed only to be rudely awakened not by the dustman but by a big hairy brute trying to break in and steal their shoes.

Cue much blurry day for night footage of men screaming whilst the same bit of film of a man in an ape suit, silhouetted against the sky throwing a polystyrene rock is shown about 5 times.

Obviously worried that such realism may cause the audience to faint, or at least lose bladder control, we cut straight from that terrifying tale to Barney chasing a raccoon out his tent to some top quality 'womp womp' music.


Comedy gold I'm sure you'll agree.

I had noticed at this point tho' that Barney appeared to be making a fuck load of sandwiches for everyone, which begged the question where did he get the bread from?

I mean it's a 3/4 month mission and at no point have I seen anyone carrying a freezer or even a mini-bread maker.

Hmmm, I think this documentary may be fake.


"My throat's killing me I must be a little hoarse!"


Continuing into the wilderness at what can only be described as a very leisurely pace and stopping only to pad out the already threadbare plot with even more wildlife footage (this time featuring a couple of bears wrestling and a racoon drowning) the motley crew are soon (but not soon enough) on the shores of the dangerous Peckatoe River giving the static-wigged Terry a chance to ominously tell of the Native American legends that warn of passing across it.

Which is nice.

But pass they do but not without a causality.

Don't worry tho' as it's only man-child Barney's kiss me quick hat.

Phew.

As the group travel deeper and deeper into the forest the party  is beset by a series of mysterious rockfalls and are scared (OK kinda non-plused if I'm honest but I'm trying my best to jazz the film up a wee bit) to discover massive trees snapped in two.

Just as the Bigfoot is meant to do to mark it's territory.

Ulp.

With nerves frayed and a strange noise echoing from the trees the party press ever forward but just as it seems the tension is the air is fading Bob is attacked by a bear and it's only

Setting up camp for the eve it's now Terry's turn to spin a tale and this time it's the infamous story of Bauman and Jessup.

You know, the same story as featured in Teddy Roosevelt's The Wilderness Hunter** about the beaver hunters (snigger) who are sure that they're being hunted by a huge beast who walks like an man.



And who says this blog isn't educational?



Posh and Becks: Dogging for Beginners.


 As Terry recounts his tale a spooky 'something' watches from the woods.

The next day the group enter a large valley called Yourmum, the final destination of the expedition and according to their research the best place to find a Bigfoot.

Apart from at the end of a big leg obviously.

To make sure they don't miss a thing the group gets to work setting up a complicated array of high tech alarm systems around the camp - electriconic alarms, tin cans on string, the works in the hopes of at least catching a glimpse of the elusive creature.

To be honest after sitting thru the last 70 odd minutes of tree-based tedium I hoping for a wee bit more than a glimpse.



"And this is where I shagged your mum."



 As everyone sleeps the beast makes it's appearance, kicking over lamps and pissing on the tents as the horses go wild and the cast valiantly wave around a collection of kids BB guns.

Suddenly rocks begin to rain down on the men and Markham is injured, he can only sit and watch as a Bigfoot enters the camp and smashes his equipment.

Luckily the mix of gunfire and shouting - coupled with the stench of shite - scares the strange attackers away leaving the party to assess the damage before packing up and heading home.

No, really....that's your lot.

Tho' as a treat we do get a replay of the spooky reflection from the start.

They must have really liked that bit.




Inspired in part by the 1972 cult classic The Legend of Boggy Creek as well as the 1976 Harry Winer docudrama The Legend of Bigfoot, the film which gave Sasquatch nut and sometime con-man Ivan Marx a platform to spout his frankly terrifying Bigfoot conspiracies, alongside those Wonderful World of Disney style nature documentaries so loved in the 60s and early 70s - Sasquatch Legend of The Bigfoot casts lone actor George Lauris (who also wrote the script) in the Marx role and populating the rest of the movie with every cliche in the cinematic book with it's mix of science, skeptics and Native American mysticism, everything about the film from it's cheesy listening MOR folk score to its aforementioned - how can I put it - leisurely pace screams no-talent cheapie but what is essentially a long, meandering, badly filmed mess of a movie somehow ends up hypnotically enjoyable and strangely entertaining.

Well it's either that or I really need to get out more.

"You ain't seen me....right?"




Maybe I'm getting old or maybe, just maybe the fact that the cast seem to be if not enjoying themselves then kinda believing in what they're doing actually comes across on screen works in the films favour, making a change from the usual 'make a horror movie for a quick buck' mentality that you find around the edges of low budget cinema.


Either way whilst Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot is in no way the best Bigfoot blockbuster ever made it's far from the worst.

Just not that far.

Recommended for insomniacs and anyone who likes horses.























































*OK it's not actually a documentary and they're all really actors - Chuck Evans (George Lauris). Dr. Paul Markham (William Emmons), Terry Blackhawk (Joel Morello), Josh "Aloysius" (Ken Kenzie), Hank Parshall (Steve Boergadine), Barney Snipe (Jim Bradford) and Bob Vernon (Lou Salerni).

And one of them actually went on to have a career.










**Written in 1890, Theodore Roosevelt's book The Wilderness Hunter: an account of the big game of the United States and its chase with horse, hound, and rifle is a go to guide for anyone wanting to learn about the American frontier in the 19th century, tho' we're only here for the Bigfoot stuff so here's an extract: 



"Frontiersmen are not, as a rule, apt to be very superstitious. They lead lives too hard and practical, and have too little imagination in things spiritual and supernatural. I have heard but few ghost stories while living on the frontier, and those few were of a perfectly commonplace and conventional type. But I once listened to a goblin-story, which rather impressed me.

A grizzled, weather beaten old mountain hunter, named Bauman who, born and had passed all of his life on the Frontier, told it the story to me. He must have believed what he said, for he could hardly repress a shudder at certain points of the tale; but he was of German ancestry, and in childhood had doubtless been saturated with all kinds of ghost and goblin lore. So that many fearsome superstitions were latent in his mind; besides, he knew well the stories told by the Indian medicine men in their winter camps, of the snow-walkers, and the specters, [spirits, ghosts & apparitions] the formless evil beings that haunt the forest depths, and dog and waylay the lonely wanderer who after nightfall passes through the regions where they lurk. It may be that when overcome by the horror of the fate that befell his friend, and when oppressed by the awful dread of the unknown, he grew to attribute, both at the time and still more in remembrance, weird and elfin traits to what was merely some abnormally wicked and cunning wild beast; but whether this was so or not, no man can say.

When the event occurred, Bauman was still a young man, and was trapping with a partner among the mountains dividing the forks of the Salmon from the head of Wisdom River. Not having had much luck, he and his partner determined to go up into a particularly wild and lonely pass through which ran a small stream said to contain many beavers. The pass had an evil reputation because the year before a solitary hunter who had wandered into it was slain, seemingly by a wild beast, the half eaten remains being afterwards found by some mining prospectors who had passed his camp only the night before.

The memory of this event, however, weighted very lightly with the two trappers, who were as adventurous and hardy as others of their kind. They took their two lean mountain ponies to the foot of the pass where they left them in an open beaver meadow, the rocky timber-clad ground being from there onward impracticable for horses. They then struck out on foot through the vast, gloomy forest, and in about four hours reached a little open glade where they concluded to camp, as signs of game were plenty.

There was still an hour or two of daylight left, and after building a brush lean-to and throwing down and opening their packs, they started upstream. The country was very dense and hard to travel through, as there was much down timber, although here and there the somber woodland was broken by small glades of mountain grass. At dusk they again reached camp. The glade in which it was pitched was not many yards wide, the tall, close-set pines and firs rising round it like a wall. On one side was a little stream, beyond which rose the steep mountains slope, covered with the unbroken growth of evergreen forest.

They were surprised to find that during their absence something, apparently a bear, had visited camp, and had rummaged about among their things, scattering the contents of their packs, and in sheer wantonness destroying their lean-to. The footprints of the beast were quite plain, but at first they paid no particular heed to them, busying themselves with rebuilding the lean-to, laying out their beds and stores and lighting the fire.

While Bauman was making ready supper, it being already dark, his companion began to examine the tracks more closely, and soon took a brand from the fire to follow them up, where the intruder had walked along a game trail after leaving the camp. When the brand flickered out, he returned and took another, repeating his inspection of the footprints very closely. Coming back to the fire, he stood by it a minute or two, peering out into the darkness, and suddenly remarked, "Bauman, that bear has been walking on two legs."

Bauman laughed at this, but his partner insisted that he was right, and upon again examining the tracks with a torch, they certainly did seem to be made by but two paws or feet. However, it was too dark to make sure. After discussing whether the footprints could possibly be those of a human being, and coming to the conclusion that they could not be, the two men rolled up in their blankets, and went to sleep under the lean-to. At midnight Bauman was awakened by some noise, and sat up in his blankets. As he did so his nostrils were struck by a strong, wild-beast odor, and he caught the loom of a great body in the darkness at the mouth of the lean-to. Grasping his rifle, he fired at the vague, threatening shadow, but must have missed, for immediately afterwards he heard the smashing of the under wood as the thing, whatever it was, rushed off into the impenetrable blackness of the forest and the night.

After this the two men slept but little, sitting up by the rekindled fire, but they heard nothing more. In the morning they started out to look at the few traps they had set the previous evening and put out new ones. By an unspoken agreement they kept together all day, and returned to camp towards evening. On nearing it they saw, hardly to their astonishment that the lean-to had again been torn down. The visitor of the preceding day had returned, and in wanton malice had tossed about their camp kit and bedding, and destroyed the shanty. The ground was marked up by its tracks, and on leaving the camp it had gone along the soft earth by the brook. The footprints were as plain as if on snow, and, after a careful scrutiny of the trail, it certainly did seem as if, whatever the thing was, it had walked off on but two legs.

The men, thoroughly uneasy, gathered a great heap of dead logs and kept up a roaring fire throughout the night, one or the other sitting on guard most of the time. About midnight the thing came down through the forest opposite, across the brook, and stayed there on the hillside for nearly an hour. They could hear the branches crackle as it moved about, and several times it uttered a harsh, grating, long-drawn moan, a peculiarly sinister sound. Yet it did not venture near the fire. In the morning the two trappers, after discussing the strange events of the last 36 hours, decided that they would shoulder their packs and leave the valley that afternoon. They were the more ready to do this because in spite of seeing a good deal of game sign they had caught very little fur. However it was necessary first to go along the line of their traps and gather them, and this they started out to do. All the morning they kept together, picking up trap after trap, each one empty. On first leaving camp they had the disagreeable sensation of being followed. In the dense spruce thickets they occasionally heard a branch snap after they had passed; and now and then there were slight rustling noises among the small pines to one side of them.

At noon they were back within a couple of miles of camp. In the high, bright sunlight their fears seemed absurd to the two armed men, accustomed as they were, through long years of lonely wandering in the wilderness, to face every kind of danger from man, brute or element. There were still three beaver traps to collect from a little pond in a wide ravine near by. Bauman volunteered to gather these and bring them in, while his companion went ahead to camp and made ready the packs.

On reaching the pond Bauman found three beavers in the traps, one of which had been pulled loose and carried into a beaver house. He took several hours in securing and preparing the beaver, and when he started homewards he marked, with some uneasiness, how low the sun was getting. As he hurried toward camp, under the tall trees, the silence and desolation of the forest weighted on him. His feet made no sound on the pine needles and the slanting sunrays, striking through among the straight trunks, made a gray twilight in which objects at a distance glimmered indistinctly. There was nothing to break the gloomy stillness which, when there is no breeze, always broods over these somber primeval forests. At last he came to the edge of the little glade where the camp lay and shouted as he approached it, but got no answer. The campfire had gone out, though the thin blue smoke was still curling upwards.

Near it lay the packs wrapped and arranged. At first Bauman could see nobody; nor did he receive an answer to his call. Stepping forward he again shouted, and as he did so his eye fell on the body of his friend, stretched beside the trunk of a great fallen spruce. Rushing towards it the horrified trapper found that the body was still warm, but that the neck was broken, while there were four great fang marks in the throat. The footprints of the unknown beast-creature, printed deep in the soft soil, told the whole story. The unfortunate man, having finished his packing, had sat down on the spruce log with his face to the fire, and his back to the dense woods, to wait for his companion. While thus waiting, his monstrous assailant, which must have been lurking in the woods, waiting for a chance to catch one of the adventurers unprepared, came silently up from behind, walking with long noiseless steps and seemingly still on two legs. Evidently unheard, it reached the man, and broke his neck by wrenching his head back with its fore paws, while it buried its teeth in his throat. It had not eaten the body, but apparently had romped and gamboled around it in uncouth, ferocious glee, occasionally rolling over and over it; and had then fled back into the soundless depths of the woods.

Spooky eh?

Monday, September 17, 2018

rowdy mole.

Ended up watching this as someone emailed to say that there's not enough John Agar on this blog.

Fair enough.

The Mole People (1956).
Dir: Virgil W. Vogel.
Cast:  John Agar, Cynthia Patrick, Hugh Beaumont, Alan Napier, Nestor Paiva, Phil Chambers, Rodd Redwing, Robin Hughes and Dr Frank Baxter.


"Archeologists are the underpaid publicity agents for deceased royalty."





Let's be honest, any film that opens with a video essay from the late, great American TV personality, educator and former professor of English at the University of Southern California Dr. Frank Baxter, has to be worth a look.

As regular readers (just regular readers in general, not of this blog obviously) will already know, Baxter was famous for his appearances as "Dr. Research" in the Bell System Science Series of television specials that ran from 1956–1962 becoming a staple of American classrooms right thru' to the 80s.

Which kinda explains a lot if you think about it.

With Baxter acting as a genial and affable host, the specials combined scientific footage, live action and animation to explain complicated concepts (like space travel, radiation and why you shouldn't elected tangerines to the office of President) in a lively, entertaining and simple way and to thousands of Americans young and old these programmes became the 'go to' for all science minded folk, making a star of its trusted host.

So when Baxter rocks up in the prologue to the film chatting about various hollow Earth myths and theories you have to sit up and listen, for what follows must be true.

And so must the film we're about to see.

Spooky.

Patrick Stewart shooting hoops with one of Mark Shannon's genital warts yesterday.



After what seems like hours of flipcharts and children's drawings we're into the movie good and proper with a title card that informs us that we're in Asia, although to be honest it looks like Egypt from the stock footage tho' the painted backdrops features snow covered mountains so we could actually be anywhere.

I'm going for South Wales.

Anyway, geography aside it's time to meet our heroes for the next 70 odd minutes and they are the dashing  Dr. Wes Bentley (Rhythm Ace and former Mr Shirley Temple, Agar) and the slightly less dashing  Dr. Paul Stuart (Chambers) who are busily digging up bits of stone whilst attempting to look intelligent.

And interested.

Suddenly one of the local workers appears with a stone tablet which Stuart noticesis engraved in a language "not of these parts".

Bentley excitedly grabs the ancient artifact and, after blowing the dust away (which makes a change from blowing his agent for roles) announces that the text is Sumerian and tells the tale of a city that disappeared from the face from the Earth.

And with that the camera starts to shake whilst the actors pretend to be slightly concerned as the stone tablet falls to the ground and smashes into pieces.

Bloody hell how exciting is this?


"Is it in yet?"


As a new day breaks (fuck they're clumsy) Bentley and Stuart decide a conference is in order so invite Doctors Jud Bellamin (Beaumont) and Geordi Lafarge (Paiva) over for beer, crisps and a quick chat regarding the broken tabley before rounding the day off with a quick game of soggy biscuit.

LaFarge, as ever, wins.

As they're cleaning up a wee native boy approaches them carrying a bit of market tat cunningly disguised as an ancient artifact whilst motioning toward a crudely painted mountain.
"The mountain was the epicenter of the earthquake!" exclaims Dr. Stuart and with that our fabulous foursome decide to go and explore it.

Cue endless stock footage of snow-covered mountain climbing which I'm pretty sure is exactly the same as the stuff used in The Abominable Snowman.

No really, I'm gonna cut it all together and upload it so you can see for yourselves.

Probably.

After what seems like days of scratchy out of focus snow trudging our merry band finally arrive at the ruins of a Sumerian temple, cunningly disguised a an old set left over from a local pantomime, where Bentley is excited (some would say too excited) to find an old shop window dummy head lying in a pile of polystyrene snow.

"It's the goddess Ishtar!" he exclaims!

And as he does poor Dr. Stuart steps on a cracked bit of concrete and falls thru' a hole into a deep, dark chasm.

Obviously he has the team wallet as Bentley a co. decide to climb after him, giving the viewer the exciting prospect of watching the cast carefully tie ropes, hammer hooks into walls and slide down a spooky shaft all very, very slowly.

Seriously the scene seems to go on for days, the only relief being a long lingering shot of Hugh Beaumont gently easing a rope between his thighs.

One tearful wank and cold shower later and the group are finally at the bottom - tho' not rock bottom, not yet - and crouched over Stuart's corpse, riffling thru' his pockets for photos of his wife in the nude.

The sheer excitement of seeing something so hot raises the temperature in the cave causing the shaft to collapse leaving Bentley, Bellamin and Lafarge no other choice but to press on ever deeper into the dark tunnel ahead.

But as they do a sinister pair of clawed hands appear in the dirt behind them.

That's your Nan that is.


After much walking and waving a torch around he tunnel eventually opens into an underground cavern housing an entire city.

Or at least a painted approximation of one.

Which would probably be OK if the matte artist in question hadn't decided to illustrate the whole thing in really thick Sharpie.

You drew this.

Deciding that they've had enough adventuring for one day the tired time team lie down on the cavern floor to get some sleep.

As you do.

As the trio snore and fart away their troubles a group of the mysterious Mole People (I'm assuming) begins to dig their way up from the under the ground, popping canvas sacks over the shocked archeologists’ heads and dragging them kicking and screaming underground.

Tho' seeing as they're already underground surely that should be underground the underground?

Or more undergrounder?

John Agar is coming for tea? Aaah Lovely!


Waking in a makeshift dungeon resplendent with creepy cobwebs and hanging Halloween style skeleton decorations, Bentley, Bellamin and Lafarge sit around twiddling their thumbs and spouty psuedo-science bollocks till a wall opens and they're motioned to walk forward by a couple of visibly embarrassed extras covered in greasepaint and decked out in children's nativity costumes carrying plastic swords.

Sorry, I meant to type they're motioned to walk forward by a couple of scary  Sumerian warriors.

My bad.

The archeologists are escorted to an ancient - is there any other kind? -  Sumerian temple where a mysterious ceremony, which seems to involve Elinu, the high priest (Alfred the butler himself, Napier looking visibly embarrassed even under a 6 inch layer of white face) shaking a giant cardboard Star Trek badge at a group of 'sexy' dancers, is taking place.

It appears that this is the dance of Ishtar.

Fair enough.

Concluding the ceremony Elinu approaches King Rollo (you can tell he's the king because he appears to be wearing a cardboard hedgehog on his head) and announces that there are 'intruders among them!"

Tho' to be honest from the look of them I'd be less worried about intruders and more concerned about latent arse banditry.

The fucking state of this.


Eyeing them up (and down) with a suspicious gaze the King stands erect and regal before pronouncing that the archeologists are to be put to death via the "Fire of Ishtar" so Bentley and Bellamin, not waiting to wait to find out what this entails,  punches the guards and steals their swords before fleeing into a convenient tunnel with resident oldster Lafarge lagging behind.

As the guards draw ever closer the poor old guy falls to the ground calling on his buddies for help and when Bentley hears Lafarge’s calls he spins around, shinig his flashlight into the faces of their pursuers which not only temporarily blinds them but scares them into submission as they shout about Ishtar's light.

Bizarrely tho' the torch isn't actually as bright as the  lights in the city they live in.

Maybe it's actually circles that they're scared of.

Or it might just be shit film-making.

Who knows?

Leaving Lafarge leaning against a cardboard wall (he's tired the poor lamb), Bentley and Bellamin continue to explore the cave eventually reaching the slave quarters where the skirted Sumarian guards spend their days whipping the poor Mole People for some reason or another.

Realizing that nothing exciting has happened for a few minutes one of the mole folk attacks the archeologists and attacks them, alerting the Sumarian guards to their presence.

Cue more pointless running around in the dark till  Lafarge is killed by one of the beasts due to the torch jamming.

No really.

The surviving pair just shrug their shoulders and move on.

Confession time: This scene gave me strange feelings in my tummy as a child.


As the pair continue into the cave system who should pop out from behind a wall but the high priest, it seems that the king has changed his mind about the strangers and wants to invite them around for tea to say sorry.

Sounds legit.

All that hot torch action has convinced the king that the archeologists are actually holy messengers rather than B-movie actors trying to earn a buck and to this end he's organised a party for them that includes fizzy pop, music and scantily clad maidens serving paper plates full of mushrooms.

Standing out from the sexy slaves tho' is the wistful Adele (Patrick strangely credited as Adad in the titles) who is constantly beaten and abuse because unlike everyone else she has normal skin colour and blonde hair.

Obviously she will become Bentley love interest for the remainder of the film.

Meanwhile, whilst all this scoffin' 'n' romancin' is going down the high priest is busily plotting behind the scenes to overthrow the king.

It's almost like that after so many boring scenes of endless cave wanderings and climbing that the writer has decided that what the film needs is an actual plot.

Unfortunately rather than anything remotely involving action this involves lots of forgettable characters in silly hats sitting around talking about stuff.

Case in point as to achieve control of the city the priest sits on a garden chair and slowly orders his co-conspirators to steal Bentley's torch.

The king however has other ideas and demands that Bentley and Bellamin use the magic fire to control the mole people and stop their plans to take over the city.

Bentley however is more interested in Adele and her skills at playing the banjo.

No really.


They look how I feel.


Anyway, more stuff happens, a few mole people get whipped and Bentley continues to gaze wistfully at Adele whilst all the time him and Bellamin are fed mushrooms by sexy albino chicks like the gods they've been mistaken for.

But the film is almost over so it's time to ramp up the action.

Or at least have the priest come across (who are we to judge? it might be a religious thing) LaFarge's corpse proving that our heroes are just mere mortals and deserve to die.

But first there's just time for a fucking terribly choreographed dance routine to accompany three 'sexy' maidens who, one by one disrobe and enter the sunlit room thru' a huge cardboard door and into Ishtar's Flame.
Yup that's right, the high priest is effectively threatening our heroes with death by sunroof.

I mean what if it's raining?

Or cloudy?

Or nighttime?

What your Mum, Nan and Auntie Jean get up to when they say they're at bingo.



Well the guards - after a few minutes waiting - go and retrieve the now burnt remains so their must be a scientific reason for it working.

Oh that's right, Bentley explains that because they've lived underground sunlight is deadly to them.

Well that's OK then.


Anyway some more stuff happens* that leads to Bentley and co. starting a mole man revolution that culminates in the titular beasts attacking the city.

Having stolen the torch the king waves it frantically at the mole men but the batteries are dead which allows the beasts to murder everyone in cold blood, opening the doors to fry the survivors in the blazing sunlight.

Which isn't at all extreme.

Luckily Adele - being a freak with normal skin - is immune to the sun and survives.

With the palace littered in corpses and drenched in blood Bentley, Bellamin and Adele leave the city via Ishtar's flame and climb up the rock face to freedom.

Your sister's wedding night.




"It’s warm…and beautiful," Adele exclaims as she limbs out of the hole and onto the studio set.

Bentley gazes at her lustfully and laughs.

For those of you who think they know how films of this ilk end the makers of The Mole People have an ace up their sleeve.

Or more accurately no idea what constitutes a satisfying ending because 
suddenly as the trio start their journey down the mountin to home an earthquake rocks the mountain causing  Adele to be crushed by a falling stone pillar.
No, really.







Amazingly for a film with such a short running time The Mole People seems to go on forever. 'Directed' (and I use that term in it's loosest possible sense) by Virgil Vogel - the man behind such classics as Space Invasion of Lapland and The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm - and 'starring' lug-headed 50s sci-fi icon (as in he was cheap) John (Zontar the Thing from Venus, Attack of the Puppet People, The Brain from Planet Arous, Women of the Prehistoric Planet - top quality one and all) Agar, The Mole People is the cinematic equivalent of a really unsatisfying toilet trip, you know what I mean - you settle down, trousers round your ankles with a good book ready to let slip the (poo) dogs of war and then nothing.

Just painful pushing and grunting followed by a wet fart (if your lucky) 25 minutes later and culminating in a streaky stain on the bowl glistening sadly in the harsh light of the naked bulb.

Just me then?

See that? That's  your film that is.
Ploddingly paced, stiffly acted (if you can call it acted) and as engaging as watching someone nail bent nails into an old piece of wood - which if anything would be a better use of it's cast - The Mole People is so inexcusably horrendous that its only redeeming feature and the only interesting thing about it is the fact that footage from it was reused in a film ever more shite than this one, Jerry Warren's 1966 shitfest The Wild World of Batwoman.

A film so arse-numbingly bad that it even managed to steal the non-sexy bits from a Swedish porn film.**

Avoid.

Unless you have trouble sleeping that is.



Not even with your Dad's.











































































*All of which is frankly way too boring to even consider typing, tho' it does involve poisoned mushrooms, beast beating and (even) more vaguely erotic dancing whilst John Agar looks on with that smug, punchable expression on his face.

Agar: Punchable.













**In certain establishing shots there's a sign reading "Livsmedel", the Swedish word for grocery store.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

foot in mooth.

The Abominable Snowman (AKA The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, 1957)
Dir: Val Guest.
Cast: Peter Cushing, Maureen Connell, Arnold Marlé, Richard Wattis, Forrest Tucker, Robert Brown and Wolfe Morris.


"They killed him. It was the sound of that howling. He couldn't stand it - it drove him mad."



The corduroy loving academic-type Dr. John Rollason (Cushing) alongside his lusciously librarian-like wife Helen (Connell) and their bespectacled colleague Dr. Peter Fox ( Wattis) have come to Tibet to make a study of the rare medicinal herbs used by the local monks at a remote Buddhist monastery at the foot of The Himalayas.

But Rollason's reason for being there isn't all to do with his plant based potterings as our erstwhile chum has a secret obsession with all things Yeti based.

So to this end he has arranged to meet up with brash American mountaineer cum salesman  Tom Friend (original Ghostbuster and star of The Trollenberg Terror, Tucker) in order to - hopefully- track down and capture the beast, much to his wife's chagrin.

You see he had a bad fall last time he went climbing (he fell off the roof fixing the Sky dish) and had specifically promised not to do it again.

What a rotter.

Peter farted....and it was an eggy one.


She's not the only one set against the idea tho' as the local lama (Marle) would much prefer Rollason to concentrate all his efforts on his studies of the plants too.

You see the lama is totally convinced that there's no such thing as the Yeti, explaining to Rollason the the legends - and noises - are probably just wolves.

Or maybe rats.

Plus winter is coming meaning that the already treacherous mountains will quickly become unclimbable.

A wee bit like your mum.

Or is that unmountable?

Either way neither of those, it seems, are real words.

Neither wistful wife nor knowledgeable Nepalese can sway John tho' and he excitedly joins up with Friend’s party - Edward Shelley (latter day Bond boss M, Brown) and Andrew McNee (Brill) as well as a single native guide Terry Kusang (Morris) - and heads off the very next day.

"Scarf on mah neck!"

Although the group man seem small (as in members wise, Tucker is sporting some mighty manbreasts), Friend has planned it with almost military precision, the previous year he ordered a much larger team into the mountains to prepare their base camps in advance and stock them with such supplies as non-perishable food, rifles, first-aid gear, and radios.

In fact everything a Yeti hunting expedition would ever need including a huge sledge to bring the beast home on.

Sorted.

They've no sooner left the monastery tho' than things start to go awry with Rollason soon realising that his plan to merely observe the creatures in their natural habitat has been superseded by Friend's plan to shoot one and bring the body back for exhibition.

Which he really should have asked about before they left if I'm honest.

The situation isn't helped by the fact that NcNee has encountered the beast (or at least heard it) before and is slowly losing his mind at the thought of encountering it again.

Typical bloody Scotsman.

Maureen Connell: Ask your Granddad.

 

As tensions flare and feelings run high the group bicker and bitch as they climb higher and higher but when poor McNee accidentally steps into one of Shelley's patented Yeti-traps and breaks his ankle resulting in much crying and poor old Peter Cushing having to bathe his stinky foot.

But things are about to take a turn to the sinister as that very night a Yeti sneaks into their camp (but not alas their hearts) and starts poking McNee thru' the tent walls.

Grabbing his rifle Shelley lets off a few rounds and kills the beast but not before Kusang has run away back to the monastery, leaving Friend, Shelley and Rollason to drag the bugger back to camp alone.

Upon their return tho' they notice that McNee has gone for a wander, climbing barefoot up a treacherous cliff whilst announcing that he loves big feet - or something - before falling to his death.

Meanwhile back at the monastery, Helen is so worried about her husband that - in the films most erotically charged scenes - she's taken to stomping around in her fluffy PJ's and a pair of big boots whilst shouting at everyone.

Fox, ever helpful suggests that she goes back to bed and get pissed but Helen, being a woman refuses and storms off to see the lama before deciding to blow her entire housekeeping money on hiring all the other sherpa's and mounting a rescue mission.

Girl power eh?


"I can see your house from here Peter!"




This it transpires is probably for the best seeing as by now Rollason, Friend and Shelley are currently being harassed by the dead Yeti's pals and as a combination of cabin fever (not the movie tho' thank fuck) and the lack of oxygen begins to take effect the three men must battle against not only their own fears and prejudices but a mysterious species that appears capable of invading their very minds.....






After hitting the horror big time in 1955 with their cinema-sized adaptation of Nigel Kneale's BBC classic The Quatermass Experiment, Hammer Films looked to repeat its success, first with a sequel in everything but name in X The ~Unknown (Hammer actually wanted it to be a Quatermass movie but Kneale refused permission for the character to be used due to Brian Donlevy's scenery chewing performance) and then with a big screen adaptation of Kneale's Himalayan horror The Creature which had been broadcast two years earlier.

Retaining Peter Cushing from the TV version but pairing him with an American co-star - Forrest Tucker replacing Stanley Baker - due in part to secure co-funding from producer Robert L. Lippert who also held the rights to distribute Hammer's films in the United States, The Abominable Snowman is a low budget slow burn of a picture that's as creepy as it is thoughtful.


"Oh Vic....I've fallen."

Inspired by the then recent reports concerning the mysterious Yeti, fueled in part by Sir Edmund Hillary’s photographs of large footprints while ascending Mt. Everest in 1953 as well as the 1954 Snowman Expedition (sponsored by the Daily Mail of all things), The Abominable Snowman plays against our expectations of a Hammer monster movie by having the titular creature not some blood crazed beast intent on killing everything with a normal shoe size but a creature that is determined to hide from man, waiting patiently to reclaim their world again once the ape-upstarts have destroyed themselves.

Their only acts of aggression against the humans is with a subtle use of telekinesis and telepathy, slowly driving the group mad as broken radios continue to broadcast and dead companions cry from the snowy wastes.

It's themes like this that not only would Kneale revisit but so would Doctor Who especially in its Quatermass inspired series 7, much to the writers chagrin.

"Brrrraaaa Shuper Ted! Do you require any scissors sonically sharpening?"


Unfortunately this wasn't what folk were looking for and The Abominable Snowman failed to find an audience at the box office.

But whilst the film is a wee bit of an undiscovered classic it's not all perfect,  Tucker is a wee bit of a set-chewing Shouty Kenneth but with the original being lost who knows if Baker was any subtler, plus the addition of Helen and Fox to the story adds nothing to it except a wee bit of a saucy thrill for any viewers with a 50s secretarial sex-fetish when Connell wanders passed in her fluffy oversized PJs and walking boots.

But just because the film was a wee bit of a flop doesn't make it any less enjoyable plus it's head and shoulders above most of the horror output of the time.

Bizarrely enough tho' we should really be thankful for it's less than stellar box office as its due to its relative failure plus the diminishing returns of Quatermass II the same year that Hammer decided to re-invent their horror output for a rapidly approaching new decade.

For it was later that very year that the company unleashed The Curse of Frankenstein, quickly followed by the horror powerhouse that is Dracula, changing the face of British horror cinema with it's new found focus on blood, boobs and bare flesh forever.