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May 172017
 

Usually when I think of TV shows that are about making fun of bad B-movies from the past, the first show that used to always come to mind was Elvira’s Movie Macabre. Then when I found out about Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-1999), that brought it to a whole new level.

Image result for mystery science theater 3000 Joel

Mad scientists Dr. Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu) and his sidekick Dr. Laurence Erhardt (Josh Weinstein) launch janitor Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgson, who is also the series creator) into space in a satellite and force him to watch the bad movies that are either old sci-fi or horror. You can only imagine how those scientists pick them out and they use an old film projector to play them. I guess VCRs don’t work in space.

On the bright side, Joel is not alone. He has robots that watch the movies with him. They are Tom Servo that looks like a talking gumball machine, and Crow a golden robot with a beak and what appears to look like half a wastebasket on his head.

While watching each movie, you can see their shadows near the bottom right corner of the screen since they always sit in the same seats. What really makes this show funny is the commentary from Joel and the robots. I love it, especially from the robots. They are hilarious. It’s really the only kind of situation when it’s okay to talk during the movie.

There are two other robots on the satellite also, Cambot and Gypsy. They are hardly ever featured on the series and they don’t watch the movies with Joel, Crow, and Tom Servo. Why do you suppose that is?

Every half hour or so, Joel and the robots perform skits that parody the movie they are watching. Sometimes the villains participate also, but not too often. The skits are good, but I still prefer the funny commentary.

This is an interesting series that knows how to make fun of bad movies in order to make them funny. I couldn’t help but notice that one of those movies was Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders. I didn’t think it was on that level of B-movies.

Apr 192017
 

Old school horror star Vincent Price has done it again with yet another classic, Theater of Blood. In this feature, Vincent Price stars as Edward Lionheart, a Shakespearean actor that was humiliated at an awards ceremony after being passed over for an award to an actor whom he felt didn’t deserve to win.

Lionheart decides to take revenge on a group of critics by murdering them one by one, based on the murder scenes of various Shakespeare plays, like getting stabbed to death from Julius Caesar, or drowning in wine from Richard the Third, etc. It’s very creative since Lionheart also dresses in different disguises and recites passages from the Shakespeare plays as he kills each of the critics.

Of course, such a task cannot be done alone. Lionheart ends up finding beggars and drug addicts in the streets that help him out. Why they agreed to help is anyone’s guess.

Inspector Boot (Milo O’Shea) leads the investigation behind the murders. Even with head critic Devlin (Ian Hendry) knowing the pattern and who is responsible, Boot finds it hard to believe since Lionheart committed suicide long ago, or did he.

Inspector Boot’s main suspect is Lionheart’s daughter Edwina (Diana Rigg). However, she doesn’t believe her father is still alive either. You’d think Edwina would be off the hook, but Boot refuses to think that she wasn’t somehow involved. This only adds to the mystery.

This was a good horror film, especially with the level of horror being campy, which made it more interesting. However, some of the murders were a bit too gruesome to watch. Most particularly the one where pie is stuffed down a critic’s throat from Titus Andronicus. Aside from that, I’ve got to hand it to Theater of Blood for providing a great amount of knowledge about Shakespeare, which makes for a helpful source for those unfamiliar with his many plays.

Mar 292017
 

Before starring in the various Edgar Allan Poe based movies, Vincent Price has starred in many other horror features. One such film was the original version of House of Wax (1953). Unlike the House of Wax remake about college teens in the woods, this movie takes place in 1890s New York. Professor Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price) is a talented wax figure sculptor that specializes in historical figures like John Wilkes Booth, Joan of Arc, Marie Antoinette, and Marc Antony for his museum. Jarrod also talks to them like they were real people.

Although Jarrod prefers the beauty and artistic integrity, his business partner Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts) is more focused on the profits and demands more sensational exhibits. Jarrod provides an opportunity for an art critic, Sidney Wallace (Paul Cavanagh), to buy Burke out, but Burke decides to burn the museum down to claim the insurance money. What a shame, those were such nice wax figures destroyed by corruption.

Shortly after, a cloaked and disfigured killer is on the loose killing people and even stealing their bodies. The killer looks a lot like Jarrod, but is it really him? That leaves some mystery.

Apparently, Jarrod did survive the fire, but his hands are disfigured and he’s confined to a wheelchair. He reopens his museum but focuses on historical crimes and recent murders, though it seems out of character. The part that stands out most is when Jarrod provides smelling salts for the women who pass out during the tour. That’s so funny.

Here’s something interesting. This movie has an intermission in the middle. In the old days they had those, even when the movies were on home video. No movies have had that in years and that’s a good thing since it’s so annoying.

House of Wax was also in 3-D, but the only 3-D moment I could find here was when a greeter (Reggie Rymal) uses his paddleballs while announcing the exhibits in the museum out front to get customers to come inside.

Jarrod also reveals that he uses models to create the faces of his wax figures like the face of recent murder victim Cathy Gray (Carolyn Jones). I liked her perky persona.

The only one that’s suspicious is Cathy’s friend Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk). Part of it could include how the killer keeps coming after her, or maybe it’s something more, despite Jarrod’s thorough explanations about how the art is done.

This was a good movie. Sometimes it’s nice to look back on the original version of a movie after seeing the remake, though I must point out that the two versions are hardly alike at all. Which do you prefer?

Mar 082017
 

When it comes to vampire movies, it’s easy to think of Dracula. Back in the 70s, there was a creative version called Blacula. This is about Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall, who I remember best as the King of Cartoons from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse) seeking help from Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) to surpress the slave trade, but instead Dracula turns the prince into a vampire thus making him Blacula. Who would’ve thought that Dracula was involved in the slave trade back in 1780.

About two hundred years later, Blacula rises again and looks for victims in Los Angeles. I’m sure he’s merely suffering with his thirst for blood. It’s easy to see that in the animated opening title sequence, which is really cool I might add.

Soon Blacula claims his first victims, interior designers Bobby McCoy (Ted Harris) and Billy Schaffer (Rick Melzler) and decides to take a cape to add to his look. Why not, I mean what’s a vampire without a cape.

After taking a few more victims, Blacula finds a young woman named Tina (Vonetta McGee). She has a striking resemblance to Blacula’s wife Luva, mainly because the same actress plays her.

Normally Blacula doesn’t care who his victims are, but he would never intentionally harm Tina or take her by force. Even after Blacula reveals what he really is, Tina still falls for him. Is that insane or what?

The only one suspicious about the mysterious attacks is scientific investigator Dr. Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala), who happens to be dating Tina’s sister Michelle (Denise Nicholas). To prove it, he intends to show his superiors the vampire victims in order for them to believe him. That was a smart move on Dr. Thomas’s part.

The main victim that stands out to me is Juanita Jones (Ketty Lester) the cab driver. After running over Blacula, she had an attitude with him, which was pretty funny. Juanita was one heck of a vampire too.

Blacula has the same weaknesses as any vampire, but here’s something different. He tends to avoid a certain individual named Skillet (Ji-Tu Cumbuka) who often describes Blacula as “one strange dude”. Could it be because Skillet likes to be photographed, or because he’s so annoying? It’s hard to say.

Even though it’s not shown until much later in the movie, Blacula can also turn into a bat. The effect is really smooth and amazing.

I liked this movie. It was certainly good for its time, especially when compared with how the vampires looked back in the 70s to the vampires in movies today. Those were more simpler times.

Feb 082017
 

I’ve seen some movies about giant monstrous spiders and the most memorable one to me was Eight Legged Freaks, but that soon changed when I saw Big Ass Spider!. This is about a giant spider, which was an experiment gone wrong, that’s on the loose. It starts small, but only gets bigger, not to mention stronger and faster.

The movie starts with exterminator Alex Mathis (Greg Gunberg) waking up on the ground in the middle of an intense battle against the giant spider. Then suddenly, it cuts to an earlier time. It’s so hard to follow a movie when it does that, especially when I see it for the first time.

As the story goes, Alex gets bitten by a spider and treated at the hospital. Suddenly, a mysterious spider comes out of a dead body and starts attacking people. Now this spider is bigger than any other and is smart enough to unzip zippers, open sewer grates, and snatch rolling quarters with ease. That’s definitely out of the ordinary.

Alex offers his services as an exterminator with the help of security guard Jose Ramos (Lombordo Boyar). He is such a comedic character and is very helpful in his own way.

Then suddenly the military is involved. Major Braxton Tanner (Ray Wise) intends to hunt down this spider before anyone, Major Tanner doesn’t take him seriously.

Of course that doesn’t stop Alex and Jose. They track the spider themselves as the army does the same. As the spider continues to grow while loose in the city, it catches and eats people really fast. It was creepy enough when the spider attacked in its small size.

Also assisting Major Tanner is Lieutenant Karly Brant (Clare Kramer). Alex likes her, even though she can come off cold. Eventually Karly does warm up to him, but she’s a soldier first.

I met Clare Kramer at Mini MegaCon 2009 and still remember how sweet she was.

It’s interesting that Lloyd Kaufman has a cameo. I thought he looked familiar.

This was a good movie with plenty of Sci-fi action and humor. As creepy as this spider was, I have to say that the scariest movie spider would be the one on Arachnophobia. It may be a lot smaller, but still very deadly.