Friday, March 29, 2013

CineBites - The Chernobyl Diaries

I was really interested in seeing The Chernobyl Diaries when it first came out.  I've always been interested in the Chernobyl disaster and especially Prypiat, the now ghost town that housed many of Chernobyl's workers and families.  When the accident occurred  approximately forty-nine thousand people were evacuated in two days.  The exact death toll, is disputed, but from what I've read it's in the hundreds of thousands (counting after effects).

The film follows a group of Americans who take an "Extreme Tour" of Prypiat given by a fellow named Uri, who owns his own little rinki-dink tour racket.  When they arrive at the guarded gates, Uri tries to persuade the guards to let them in, but it denied.  Uri, however, being the crafty one that he is, knows another way in.  So off the group goes to tour Prypiat in all it's decay.  After nearly getting mauled by a radioactive bear, they decide it's time to head back to the van and get the hell out.

This is where things go wrong.  Apparently, someone has disabled the van.  OH NO!  What's going to happen?  Standard creature fare ensues.  What's stalking them?  Beats me.  Mutated people or something.  It's never explained.

The point is, I REALLY wanted to like this one.  I actually thought that the film was shot in part there, but apparently it was actually shot in parts of Serbia and Hungary and then CGI was used as set extensions and to add the appropriate buildings and reactors!  They had me fooled!  Aside from the suitably creepy cinematography, sadly I found this to be quite lacking.  Not horrible....just....lacking.

Final Score:
Two out of Five Pizza Rolls

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gator Bait - Playboy Swamp Princess a Go Go

'Gator Bait
Directed by Beverly & Ferd Sebastion
Written by Beverly Sebastion
Starring Claudia Jennings, Sam Gilman & Sam Thurman

Tag Lines:

Unless they get her first... she'll never let them out alive!

Swamp Behind -- Hell Ahead!

Untamed and deadly, she ruled the swamp with a BLAZING GUN and a LUSCIOUS SMILE.

Half Animal.. All Woman

Alternate Titles: 

Alligaattoriansa (Alligator Trap) - Finland
Blodhævn  (Blood Feuds) - Denmark
Destemida e Audaciosa (Audacious and Fearless) - Brazil
Isca Perigosa (Dangerous Bait) - Brazil  (Alternative Title)
Hetzjagd im Sumpf (Hunt in the Swamp) - West Germany
Η αγριογατα (The Wildcat) - Greece
Les marais de la haine (Swamps of Hatred) - France

Theatrical:  USA - June 1974:     Denmark - March 1977
VHS:  Paramount Home Video
DVD:  Panama Films

Unfortunately, no screen caps to go with this review.....I may be able to add them in later, but I've already lost too much time and not updated in a half a month.  But I digress......

I remember seeing Gator Bait in the aisles of Video Paradise and then later on in the local Blockbuster Video....and there was something (besides Claudia Jennings scantily clad) that really piqued my interest.  I've got this soft spot for swamp movies.  I dunno why, but I do.

Gator Bait start with good ol' boys Deputy Billy Boy (I'm not making that up) and Ben out in the swamp, waiting for the "Cajun Swamp Rat" Desiree to come collect a gator she trapped.  See Desiree and her brother and sister live in the swamp by themselves.  Sure trapping gators is illegal, but the sheriff just kinda turns a blind eye to it.  Not Billy Boy and Ben though....oh no.  They decide that they are gonnna get them some.  They figure they'll threaten Desiree with jail, unless she makes with the sexual favors.  Desiree leads them on a chase and after getting some swamp snakes tossed at him, Billy Boy accidentally shoots Ben in the head.

Billy Boy runs back to town and tells his Dad (Sheriff Joe Bob Thomas!  Seriously, that's his name!) that Desiree did it.  Well, that starts the whole mess.  Sheriff Joe Bob and Deputy Billy Boy then inform Ben's father and brothers of his demise.  They form a posse and go on the hunt for Desiree....which quickly goes sour.  Mostly because Ben's brothers are a bunch of horny bastards that view women as little more than fuck toys.

Everything is going more or less okay, until they come across Desiree's shack.  She's gone, but her siblings are there.  The good ol' boys take her sister hostage and just as Ben's brother Pete is about to rape her younger sister, other brother Leroy knocks him out of the way and then proceeds to blast her in the vagina with his shotgun.  WTF?!!??!???  Well, Desiree's brother escapes and warns her what happened (even though he's mute).  From that point it's full on war.

Of course Desiree knows these swamps like the back of her hand, giving her the advantage over these bumbling red necks who, half the time, can't stop bickering among themselves long enough for formulate a real plan of attack.  The entire movie takes place in the swamp save for the one scene where Deputy Billy Boy goes to get Sheriff Joe Bob.  That's a small town scene.  Everything else?  Swamp.  Lots and lots of swamp.

I'll bet that Claudia Jennings would have been an 80's Scream Queen had she not died in a car crash on Pacific Coast Highway in 1979.......

Midnight Cinephile Totals:

Body Count:  Six! Not bad for a no budget swamp flick!  There's not much in the way of blood and gore...and the bit that there is is pretty cheap looking....but that adds to the charm.

Boob Count:  I was expecting to see far more of Claudia Jennings than we did!  We get a brief view of her assets as she motor boats through the swamp in the initial chase and the rest of the film, she's scantily clad, but far from nude.  Her sister on the other hand (Janit Baldwin) shows us far more.

Beast Count:  No monsters to speak of, other than the despicable Bracken clan.

Final Thoughts:
The best way I can describe this movie is Deliverance meets First Blood.  It is pretty fun to watch Desiree lead these idiots around the swamp to their eventual demise.  You'll be cheering for her the whole way.  If you're a fan of that seventies low budget motif and you like your thrillers southern fried, then you will probably dig Gator Bait!

Final Rating:
Three out of Five Pizza Rolls!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

CineBites - The Cyclops (1957)

A cheapie from master schlockmeister, Bert I. Gordon, The Cyclops is a fun little 66 minute time waster starring Gloria Holden and Lon Chaney Jr.  Ms. Holden hires an expedition to search for her fiancee, who's plane crashed three years earlier in the Mexican wild. She believes that he is still alive, and will stop at nothing to find him.  Lon Chaney Jr. has funded the trip, but his motives are much different.  He's searching for Uridium and plans to make his fortune on it.  That same radioactive material is what's causing the local wildlife to grow to enormous size.  Of course they find her fiancee, but he's now a twenty five foot tall Cyclops.  

Sadly, you can really tell that Chaney's alcoholism was in full effect.  Not only is this one of his lesser efforts, but you can really feel the difference in his acting.  In the scene in which the four characters are in the plane, you can clearly see that Chaney is sweating bullets while the rest of the actors are perfectly dry.  Chaney's voice was also getting pretty gruff in this film, which is a bit off putting.  This is miles away from his performance in The Wolf Man.
As for the monsters, we see a giant hawk devour a giant rat, two giant lizards battle and of course, The Cyclops himself.  There's also a giant snake that The Cyclops fights.  The special effects are anything but, with Gordon's classic use of rear projection....which makes the monsters semi-transparent.  A lot of people knock his films for this problem, but to be honest....I find it to be part of their charm.

If you've got an hour to kill and you're looking for a cheap and cheesy monster flick, then you can do worse than The Cyclops.  If you are a fan of Chaney, then this film might be a bit of a disappointment, as it is rather heartbreaking watching his downward spiral into alcoholism.  

Three out of Five Pizza Rolls

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Creature from the Black Lagoon - Inter-species Stalker

Creature from the Black Lagoon
Directed by Jack Arnold
Written by Harry Essex, Arthur Ross & Maurice Zimm
Based on an idea by William Allend
Starring Richard Carlson, Julie Adams & Mark Williams


-Not since the beginning of time has the world beheld terror like this!
-Centuries of passion pent up in his savage heart!
-Terrifying monster ravages mankind!
-Amazing! Startling! Shocking!
-Clawing Monster From A Lost Age strikes from the Amazon's forbidden depths!
-Creature from a million years ago!... every man his mortal enemy... and a woman's beauty his prey!
-From the Amazon's forbidden depths came the Creature from the Black Lagoon

Alternate Titles:
Black Lagoon - USA Alternate Title

El monstruo de la Laguna Negra (The Monster from Black Lagoon) Argentina / Mexico 
L'étrange créature du lac noir (Creature from the Black Lagoon) Belgium / France
O Monstro da Lagoa Negra (Creature from the Black Lagoon) Brazil / Portugal
A fekete lagúna szörnye (Creature from the Black Lagoon) Hungary
Das Ungeheuer der schwarzen Lagune (The Monster of the Black Lagoon) Austria (dubbed version)
Der Schrecken vom Amazonas (Creature from the Amazon) West Germany
El monstruo de la laguna negra (Monster from the Black Lagoon) Venezuela
Het monster der moerassen (The Monster of the Marshes) Belgium (Flemish title)
Het monster van de Amazone (Monster from the Amazon) Netherlands (informal literal title)
Il mostro della laguna nera (Creature from the Black Lagoon) Italy
Kara gölün canavari (Land of the Lake Monster) Turkey (Turkish title)
La mujer y el monstruo (The Woman and the Monster) Spain
Monstret i den Svarta Lagunen (Monster of the Black Lagoon) Sweden 
Skräcken från Svarta Lagunen (Creature from the Black Lagoon) Sweden (TV title)
Mustan laguunin hirviö (Black Lagoon Monster) Finland
Ο τρομος της μαυρης λιμνης (The Terror of Black Lake) Greece 
Odjuret i den svarta lagunen (Beast in the Black Lagoon) Finland
Uhyret fra den sorte lagune (Creature from the Black Lagoon) Denmark


USA   5 March 1954
Argentina 16 June 1954
West Germany  24 September 1954
Sweden 29 November 1954
Austria December 1954
Finland 10 December 1954
Denmark  24 January 1955
France 13 April 1955
Portugal 2 May 1955
France 13 July 1955 (Paris)
France 7 November 2012 (3D digitally re-mastered)
USA 27 January 2013 (New York 3D digitally re-mastered)
I had this VHS as a kid!

Goodtimes Home Video                               
MCA Video 
Universal Home Video

Universal Home Video

Blu Ray:
Universal Home Video



David Reed:  An ichthyologist and a man of action!  Not only does this poor guy have to contend with The Gillman, but he's also gotta keep half an eye on the lecherous Mark Denning, who's got his greasy gaze on David's main squeeze, Kay.

Kay Lawrence:  The object of the bizarre love triangle that exists (kinda sorta) between David, Mark and The Gillman.  What's a girl to do?

Mark Denning:  David and Kay's boss, also financier of the expedition to The Black Lagoon and one hell of an evil lech.  Nice hair, though.

Carl Maia:  Found a fossilized (kinda) arm/hand belonging to an unknown species, so he went to David to put together an expedition to dig out the rest.  So basically, it's all Carl's fault.  That bastard.

Lucas:  The lovable boat captain!  Seriously, if I ever charter a boat on the Amazon, I want this guy.  He's like a grubby Popeye!

The Gillman:  The amphibious creature in question.  I always felt bad for him.  So first, a bunch of people come crashing into your back yard....shoot you, try to poison you, and then cage you!  THEN they get mad at you for attacking them.  Douche-bags!

Creature from the Black Lagoon is another film that instantly sparks childhood memories.  This one is another of the Universal flicks that my Aunt introduced me to.  I can quite vividly remember watching this one on a rainy Friday afternoon.  Aunt Patty was taking my sister and I for the weekend.  She took us to Plymouth Rock on Saturday so she picked us up on Friday so we could get an early start.  I think she was going to take us somewhere Friday afternoon as well, but it was raining, so instead we stayed in and watched movies.  I was completely enthralled with this movie and asked to borrow the movie so I could watch it again at home.  I must have watched that tape about thirty times over the next week or so.  That Christmas, I received my very own VHS copy, which still sits up in my old bedroom at my parent's house.

"Can we hold hands and sing Kumbaya?"

Creature from the Black Lagoon is 100% Universal monster matinee goodness.  Helping to bridge the gap between the moody Universal monsters of the years past (i.e, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy) and the atomic age monster movies, The Gillman was at once ancient and once representing our primal ancestry and the mystique of unknown scientific advances that his study would provide.

Sure, on paper, Creature looks almost cookie cutter formulaic:  Scientist finds bizarre specimen, scientist gathers up expedition to find more specimens (or a complete specimen in this case), things go horribly wrong and monster wrecks havoc.  There is something within this film that sets it apart.  Maybe it's the humanistic element of the Creature.  Maybe it's because we feel sorry for him.....he didn't ask for these scientists to invade his home, after all.

It might help ya find The Gillman if ya turn that light on.....just sayin'.

There has been much talk about the scene in which Kay (the ever lovely Julie Adams) goes for a swim in the lagoon.  Unseen by her, The Creature swims alongside her, mirroring her.  There have been some that say that this scene is a metaphor for sexual intercourse.  Other's say that it's meant to show us the more humanistic side of The Creature and allow us to feel his longing for Kay.  I say poppycock.  Let's take a look at that scene, with the appropriate music:

See what I'm saying?  Complete stalker.  Only instead of lurking in alleyways and such, Ol' Gillman lurks in the seaweed, watching lustily as Kay swims seductively around the lagoon.  Now, for 1954 this scene WAS incredibly sexy and racy.  The swimsuit that Julie Adams wears was custom made for her, which revealed just a little more than your regular off the shelf swimsuits.  I'll be perfectly honest, I never really saw a King Kong/Fay Wray connection between Gillman and Kay or sense a Beauty and the Beast vibe.  It's primal....deep, dark, primal instinct.

They do keep some fresh sushi 'round here!

William E Snyder's cinematography is gorgeous and crisp, and the Lagoon is almost it's own character.....dripping with atmosphere.  The score is quite good as well, though it does become a bit grating when The Creature's theme plays EVERY SINGLE TIME HE APPEARS.  Maybe if it wasn't the same trumpet blast of three incremental notes it wouldn't have been so bad......other than that, the score was quite good.

Midnight Cinephile Tally:

Body Count:  5 Dead and one dude seriously maimed!

Boob Count:  No boobs, but we do get to see Julie Adams in her racy little swim outfit.

Beast Count:  One certified Gillman.

Final Thoughts:
This should be on any serious cinephile's list of must-see films.  Everything about this film works.  Maybe it's because of the first time I saw it, but Creature from the Black Lagoon remains one of my all time favorite "rainy day" movies.

Final Rating:
Five out of Five Pizza Rolls!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

CineBites - Flying Monkeys

Don't have enough money to go and see Oz?  No problem!  Curl up with this Syfy original which is clearly trying to cash in!  This little piece of cinematic fried cheese is set in Kansas (clever) in a little town called Gale.  Get it?  Like Dorothy Gale?  Zing!  After missing his daughter's high school graduation, James buys his daughter Joan a monkey to make up for it.  Where'd he get the monkey?  Oh you know, the local pet shop run by a black market animal buyer.  Seriously.  Nothing says bad ass like black market animals.

Turns out said monkey grows wings, sheds it's hair and turns into a flying demon monkey thing every night. On it's nocturnal jaunts, it finds people and animals to maim and eat.  Oh yeah, and if you kill the monkey with anything other than an ancient sanctioned weapon, then it will just multiply.  Like a Mogwai.  Sorta.  Only no water.

This multiplication device is (I guess) supposed to add some social commentary on the state of gun control in America....because the two Flying Monkey Hunters from Hong Kong (yeah, there are Monkey Hunters) keep commenting on how ridiculous it is that everyone has a gun.  Way to be subtle.

All in all, it's a pretty terrible flick.  Bad special effects.....almost bloodless gore (if that makes any sense)....the monkeys themselves look ridiculous.  On the plus side, Electra Avellan is in here and has a shower scene.  You may remember that Electra is one half of the Crazy Babysitter Twins in Grindhouse.

Well, that's it for the first installment of my new feature we're calling CineBites.  Bite sized reviews of crappy movies!

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Sea Bat - Sponge Divers of the Damned

The Sea Bat
Directed by Lionel Barrymore & Wesley Ruggles
Written by Dorothy Yost, Bess Meredyth & John Howard Lawson
Starring Raquel Torres, Charles Bickford, Nils Asther & Boris Karloff

Tag Lines:


Beauty, Drama, Romance...that will stay forever in your memory!

Alternate Titles:
Il vampiro del mare (The Vampire of the Sea) Italy
O Monstro Marinho (The Sea Monster) Portugal
Tropikhavens skräck (Tropic Ocean Horror) Sweden

Theatrical:  USA - July 1930;  Sweden & Finland - February 1931; Portugal - April 1932

This obscure little gem, as near as I can tell, has never been released on VHS or DVD.  It was only a chance viewing on Turner Classic Movies that brings you this review.  I was searching the listings, looking for stuff to load up the ol' DVR since we're getting pelted with a metric shit ton of snow here in New England.  I came across The Sea Bat.  The description read:  A woman with pagan beliefs vows revenge on a manta ray that kills her husband.  Needless to say, I was intrigued.  Visions of unholy voodoo rites being practiced in the pale moon light danced through my mind.  "It's gonna be like White Zombie, but with FISH!" I said to myself.  "How can I lose?"  Also, it said that the film starred Boris Karloff!  Pre-Frankenstein Karloff to be exact!  Surely there will be some tropical chills to be had here!  Right?  Right?

See...that seems a bit snuggly for Brother and Sister....

"Oh please don't die, Carl?  How will I manage all these Cabana Boys myself?"  Not really.  While, the description didn't lie, it was quite misleading.  Yes, Nina (played by the lovely Raquel Torres) can be found with island natives practicing voodoo rituals, and yes there is a killer manta ray (or Sea Bat as they call it), but that almost takes the back burner to the story of a mysterious minister who shows up on the island.  Reverend Sims, while claiming to be a man of God, is actually an escaped convict from Devil's Island.  It's never stated what crime he committed, but he really didn't seem like that bad a guy....ya know....other than impersonating a priest.

He didn't even buy her dinner first!

Now as far as the ol' Sea Bat killing Nina's husband....well....I don't know what to tell you.  The description said that it was her the film she calls him her brother....yet, she seems awfully close and chummy with him, if ya know what I mean. to say she loved the guy.....and his name was Carl.  He was a seasoned sponge diver, which was a booming trade on the island.  She tries to give him a voodoo charm to keep him safe, which he scoffs at and then goes on his merry sponge diving way.  Poor Carl should have taken the charm.

Quite revealing for an MGM release in 1930!  Giggity!

Anyway, Nina becomes inconsolable and offers herself up as a reward for anyone who can kill the Sea Bat responsible for killing her  A group of lecherous sponge divers takes her up on the offer....after nearly raping her....and promptly are killed by said Sea Bat.  Remember we talked about  Boris Karloff a bit ago?  Well, he was one of the ruffians.  He may have had one line in the whole film, and if he did, I missed it.  Still, it's always nice to see the master at work.

BORIS!  Finding him in this flick is like a Goddamned "Where's Waldo" puzzle!

The cinematography in this film is quite beautiful, with much of the film shot on location in beautiful Mazatlán, Mexico.  The island footage is fantastic and the water scenes are quite good for their time....I was quite surprised by the underwater camerawork.

Midnight Cinephile Tally 

Body Count:  Carl gets it right in the beginning, plus the three rough necks that go after the Sea Bat in hopes of Nina's affections make four!

Boob Count:  You actually get a pretty decent view of the beautiful Raquel Torres' breasts.  She spends the entire movie bra-less wearing a thin dress.  There is a scene in which she is on the rocks by the sea in the rain...and you can pretty much see everything.  Quite surprising for a B film from the 30's!

Beast Count:  The normally docile and gentle manta ray is portrayed as a vicious killing machine here.  Yes, I know that Steve Irwin died after one stabbed him in the chest with it's tail, but that was an accident and  a defense mechanism that Rays have.   I  One vicious killer Manta Ray!

Final Thoughts:
I liked it, though it definitely could have used more Boris Karloff and more scenes with the Sea Bat.  I don't think that the producers of this film really quite knew what they had.  With title variations such as The Vampire of the Sea, Tropic Ocean Horror and The Sea Monster....I was really expecting some kinda low rent kooky monster flick.  But if you look at the tag lines, you might be expecting Gone With The Wind set among the palm trees.  When you actually watch it you get a combo pseudo monster/voodoo/action/romance flick with a wet t-shirt scene thrown in.

Final Rating:
Three out of Five Pizza Rolls

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Giant from the Unknown - Plus Sized Carnage in Devil's Crag

Giant From The Unkown
Directed by Richard E. Cuhna
Written by Ralph Brooke, Frank Hart Taussig
Starring Ed Kemmer, Sally Fraser, Morris Ankrum

Tag Lines:

A Hideous Monster from Beyond the Grave!

It came from another world!

Terror Stalks! Half Monster, Half Man!

Alternate Titles:
Giant From Devil's Crag (US Alternate Title)
Giant From Diablo Point (US  Alternate Title)
The Diablo Giant (US Alternative Title)
In den Klauen des Giganten (In The Clutches of The Giants) West Germany
O Gigante do Outro Mundo (The Giant of The Otherworld) Brazil

Theatrical:  US - March, 1958    W. Germany - September 1961
VHS: Vci Home Video - Englewood Entertainment - Sinister Cinema - First Look Home Entertainment
DVD:  Image Entertainment
Streaming: Netflix - Amazon - DailyMotion - YouTube

Characters of Note:

Wayne Brooks:  Our not-so-square-jawed hero.  Wayne's a bit of an odd duck, and a bit goofy, but as far as B-Movie heroes go, he ain't too bad!  Unfortunately for him, Sheriff Parker has got it in for him and wants to pin a rash of murders and animal mutilations on him.

Sheriff Parker:  The Law in the the sleepy little town of Pine Ridge, CA.  He's got a bit of a problem with some murders and animal mutilations.  Supposedly the whole town is under suspicion, but it does seem that he's already made up his mind that Wayne is his man.  Typical 5-0.

Charlie Brown:  No shit!  His name is Charlie Brown!  He's a local youth who's a friend to Wayne.  He's got a sister named Ann.

Ann Brown:  Charlie's Sister!  See?  I wasn't lying. She is pretty much Giant Fodder.

Dr. Frederick Cleveland:  A professor in town, looking for a buried giant Spanish Conquistador in the CA mountains.  Gee, he's like a 50's Scott Wolter, isn't he?

Janet Cleveland:  Professor Cleveland's daughter.  Janet's along on the trip to help out her Dad and play love interest to Wayne.  If you ask me, she gets the short end of the stick on this trip.  Essentially she's there to make them sandwiches and clean up the campground.  June Cleaver be proud.

Indian Joe aka Crazy Joe:  As you well know, every monster movie has got to have a crazy dude either warning everyone that they are DOOOOMED or at least spewing forth cryptic exposition......and we ALL know what's gonna happen to this guy.

Vargas the Giant:  The big man himself. he's not exactly a GIANT.  Still, he's a big dude and he's over five hundred years old....reanimated from a lightening strike after spending five centuries in suspended animation in the unusual soil in Devil's Crag.

If you want to know what the difference is between B-Movies of yesteryear and B-Movies of today, you need look no further than Giant from the Unknown.  These films were all about having fun, not trying to be the next big thing in Torture Porn.  Film making was quick and dirty.  Sure there were cast and crew that phoned in performances for a paycheck, but there were also people who loved and believed in these films despite knowing how goofy they were.

Pine Ridge....a nice place to get killed by Giant Conquistadors....

So Sheriff, this is the new town hearse, eh?
This little gem starts out in the pleasant looking town of Pine Ridge, CA.  There's a group of townsfolk that have gathered outside talking about the strange goings-on as of late.  Mutilated cows and pigs...a chicken coup that looked like it had been hit by a cyclone.....and now a murder.  A local man dead.  His bones crushed.  There's talk of a supernatural curse that plagues an area known as Devil's Crag....which is a place that includes an ancient Indian burial ground.  The local Indian drunk/crazy guy (Indian Joe) starts to spout off warnings from the spirits.  "Men who walk on Indian graves, die".  The Sheriff tells everyone that he'll be around to question them individually to get to the bottom of the murder.  Until our hero Wayne arrives, that is.  He gets back to town and it's like Sheriff Parker instantly made up his mind that he was to blame.  Kinda odd with absolutely NO evidence, except for a minor altercation between Wayne and the deceased a week earlier.

Figures...they had to stop for "supplies" at the cosmetics shop.

That's a rather sultry pose for metal detecting, isn't it?
Now enter into town Professor Cleveland and his daughter.  They're on an expedition to try and uncover the remains of a giant Spanish conquistador that was allegedly buried in the surrounding mountains by Indians some five hundred years earlier.  Supposedly, said Spaniard was part of the Ptolemy Firello expedition and mutinied along with several others.  They went off into the mountains in search of gold never to be seen or heard from again.  They run into Wayne, who attended some of the professor's lectures and offers his help.  The Sheriff, being his dickhead self gives the prof. a bit of a problem regarding some tent poles sticking out of his jeep.....and then warns them about the company they keep, alluding to Wayne.

Lookie what Janet found!  Sorta.

Of course Wayne and Janet are giving each other the googily eyes from the get go and the professor is fine with that, so long as Wayne shares some of his finds with him in his lab.  The trio sets out into the wilderness in search of the big guy.  In a hilarious, but very un-PC scene, Wayne and The Professor are setting out to make  a sweep with their metal detectors and Janet asks what she can do.  The Prof states:  "Well, you've made the beds so now you can do the dishes and clean up."  It was at this point that my wife let out a rather incredulous laugh.  Nuthin like a little 1950's Good Housekeeping mentality.  Oh yeah and they look at one of the most hilarious and awesome maps I've seen in a long, long time.

Best.  Map.  Ever.
Of course our Giant reanimates and rises from his rather odd resting place and starts to wreck havoc anew.  The Giant is your standard mute brute, running about crushing folks.  There is a scene that manages to create quite a creepy atmosphere towards the end where Wayne and Sheriff Parker go looking for Indian Joe and find him dead in his shack.  Then it's basically your standard mob vs monster chase through the woods.  The end is a bit of a cop-out and while I"m not going to ruin it, it was not at all a befitting end to the giant fiend.

Hey Indian Joe, we were just wonderi-

Oh.  Um.  Nevermind.

Midnight Cinephile Tally:

Body Count:  5 people die in total as a direct result of the monster.

Boob Count:  Get real, kid, this flick was made in 1958!

Beast Count:  ONE!  But, he's a big ol' bruiser!

Final Thoughts:
If you are a fan of 50's B-Movies, then there is a a very strong chance that you will love Giant from the Unknown.  The DVD transfer (as well as the streaming from Netflix and Amazon) is absolutely amazing.  It is quite crisp and clear with good sound, which to be perfectly honest, is astounding.  This is a film that is best watched with a like minded cinephile, but  if you've got some snacks and drinks, you'll have a blast!

Final Rating:

Four out of Five Pizza Rolls!

What good is it to be an evil Giant, if you're not gonna steal a girl?

Axe vs. stick.  Who will win?

That bridge looks a little unsteady....

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dark Holiday by J.B. Murray

I've got something special for you.  My good friend J.B. Murray has given us the gift of this incredible short piece of dark fiction.  I truly hope you enjoy this little slice of the macabre.....stay tuned for something else coming down the hallway......

By: JB Murray © Dec 2011-12-15 

He knew the roads were icy before they had even left the lodge. Weatherman said a storm was rising, blowing in from Canada, crashing into another front coming from the west, and was surely to blanket the northeast in a centuries new record snowfall. The day had been warm though, very pleasant. But as the clouds rolled in, they brought with them the slightest rain. Then the temperatures dropped. Then the snow started. But it had been a great holiday get away from the rest of the never stopping world he and Samantha were accustomed to.

It was a light, soft fluffy blanket at first; the flakes being whisked away from the tires of Jarrod’s SUV. Jarrod had both hands on the wheel. The traction control on his vehicle managed the occasional slippage here and there as they winded through the endless roads in this back country, a canopy of trees lining either side of them. His wife sat quietly in the passenger’s seat, a book opened on her lap, her glasses hanging just on the tip of her nose as she often did when she read, as if she weren’t really looking through them at all, but rather over them. It was an endearing trait that he always found amusing. Somehow, it was the simple things like that, that always felt like home, even though their home was relatively new. They had dated only a year, marrying the year after, and now on their third. But nothing felt quite like home to him, as his Samantha.
A slight smiled appeared on her face, her cheeks crawling upward as she turned her head and glanced at him over her glasses. Like always, she had know he had been watching her. He smiled back, and winked. Samantha giggled that one of a kind giggle, where she shook her head in the slightest from side to side, and covered her mouth with her fingers. It was an almost child-like gesture, almost purely innocent. She mouthed the words I love you through that smile of hers. He took one hand from the wheel and reached over, grabbing hers. He pulled it to him, kissed the top of her hand, and held it to his cheek, closing his eyes for just a moment, breathing in the smell of her skin, and the warmth of her caress.

His hand on the steering wheel slipped violently to the left as the wheels caught a long patch of ice. Everything that happened next was slowed down more than just a fraction. It was like living a lifetime in a matter of seconds.

He let go her hand and reached for the wheel, his unconscious mind preparing to take over and steer them to safety. He glanced over as Samantha’s glasses fell from her face and she gripped the dashboard with one hand, the passenger’s side door with the other. Her smile had contorted into a mask of fear; eyes bulging wide, mouth perched to scream. The SUV skid sideways for a moment, and next he knew they were backwards and he was looking out the windshield at the road they had just traversed. The force of the skid kept him pinned against the armrest. He was then looking at the tree-lined roadway, the forest, sparse at first, but growing denser the deeper you looked, the whitest blanket of covering on the forest floor. The road again. And as the vehicle swung around once more he caught only a glimpse of it. But the glimpse was all he needed. The outcropping of boulders by the roadside, peaking out from under the snow, maybe just a bit higher than the tires on his SUV. How fast were they spinning? 30? 40? 50? Faster? He had been going at least 40 before the wheels tore out from under him just moments before. The truck was sideways again. He craned his neck, working against the force of the spin, the cords on his neck standing out, in an attempt to look at Samantha. She, herself was pinned to the passenger’s side door. Jarrod closed his eyes. He knew it was coming. And then suddenly it was as if someone had turned off the volume to the world. The screams, the whooshing of the wind, the SUV engine, all fell silent for just a second. Then there was a CRACK! Metal bent. And the force of the spin changed in that instant as they were both pulled upward against their seatbelts. Jarrod watched the world turn upside down as the SUV struck the boulders and flipped. The forest whirled by, a kaleidoscope of pine greens, bare brown branches and flutters of snow. The SUV flipped into the woods, and he knew they were now at the mercy of fate, and fate alone. In all that forest, the SUV found a lesser dense part, and flipped into the woods, down a gradual descent. The roof concaved and windows exploded; the hood bounced open like a trapdoor and ripped off as the front axle snapped and a tire went rolling ahead. The truck turned over and over and Jarrod could swear, looking to his right that he could see the immense pine coming toward them at breakneck speed. Then the SUV smashed into the tree, just beyond the front tire of the passenger’s side. There, the truck lurched, and fell back into place, stopping abruptly.

It took a moment for the haze to lift. Jarrod shook his head and looked up, the cobwebs falling from his vision, not quickly enough. There was a ringing in his ears, and he was freezing. His window had been smashed, and snow was blowing in through it. Frantically he looked to his right. Samantha was not there in the passenger’s seat. He coughed, swallowed back something coppery and sweet. He reached for the door handle and tugged at it. Amazingly enough, the door was free and swung open. Jarrod didn’t as much as step out of the truck as much as he fell out, landing on his hands and knees. The snow was considerably deeper now. He wrenched his neck up. Even in the dense wood, he could see it was coming down much faster now. Stumbling, he got to his feet, and, using the truck as a crutch, he walked around to the passenger’s side and pried open the door. His senses were starting to come back to him now, adrenalin rushing through him, warming him slightly making his thoughts that more coherent. The passenger’s seat was empty. He stood, looked around him and the wreckage. There in the snow, just past the tree with which the SUV had collided, sat her book. The one she was reading on the trip back. He stammered forward and picked it from the ground. There were specs of crimson on the cover. That’s when he saw it; a trail. Droplets of red were spattered here and there on the snowy white linen of the forest flow, leading deeper into the woods. Had she gotten out by herself and walked off in that direction? But there were no footprints.

He slipped the paperback into his back pocket, and without thinking much now for his own safety, the matter of finding Samantha winning over, trudged out into the woods to find her.

He couldn’t tell how long he’d been walking. But the silence in the woods made everything deafening. Each time the wind picked up he could feel it to his core. Clumps of snow falling from the branches almost seemed to echo in the infinity of the forest. He walked at first, then his pace quickened and his heart raced. Little by little he sped faster and faster into the unknown. And then, without warning, the trail ceased. He looked to his left, his right, ahead and behind. The ground was untouched. The trees around began to spin a little as a brief bout of panic set in. He turned this way and that. Where the hell was he? He screamed. Jarrod then fell to his knees and began to cry. His tears were nearly freezing to his face, when moments later, he felt the oddest of things. It was the warmest of breezes. Almost like breath against his skin. In it he could smell embers, cinnamon and pine. Warm, like home. He looked up, confused. The breeze had halted. But ahead in the woods stood a man? Was it a man? Tall, dark hair, with eyes of a crystal blue he’d swear. He couldn’t quite make out his clothes. Jarrod rubbed his eyes, once, then twice. The man was still there. He smiled at Jarrod. Was he pointing? Yes, yes he was. He was directing Jarrod. Hastily Jarrod jumped to his feet, stumbling over a bit. When he stood the man was gone. Had he imagined him? No, certainly not. His feet were moving before he could command them to. He trotted off in the direction in which the man had pointed.
Jarrod ran now. He ran hard and fast as the woods around grew denser and denser still. He was running full as the trees closed in around him. And then he bounced off of one with his shoulder. They were surrounding him. He was walking, as briskly as he could, skirting this was and that through the trees, each only a matter of a foot apart, their trunks stretching into the heavens, their branches now covered in snow, nearly strangling all the light of day. He looked back and could not see behind him. He was caught in this labyrinth. But still he moved forward, something pulling him, almost beckoning. And then, just as sudden as the SUV slamming against the boulder, he came to a clearing. The space was huge, vacant, and he could see the trees circling around the outer creating a cul de sac of sorts. And there, in the middle, something lay. He need not see it up close, as he knew what it was. He knew the light brown jacket and the feathery hood even from here. He knew the long black hair fanned out against the snow.

Jarrod took off at an unbelievable pace. Snow kicked up behind him off his boots. His Samantha. Yes. He knew it without even knowing. And then he was upon her. He skidded to a halt and looked away, his breath caught in his throat, a sickening feeling clutching at his gut. His eyes filled with tears. He looked back slowly, and there she lay, sprawled out on the snow like a rag doll. A crimson halo circled her body, her face contorted and frozen in a disgusting, vile grimace. Jarrod sobbed as he knelt near her, and scooped her up in his arms. The warmth had left her completely now, and she was stiff, heavy. He screamed again and lowered his face to hers. He cried an eternity’s worth of tears.

A warm breeze flittered by. Cinnamon. Pine. Embers. Jarrod looked up from his wife’s corpse. The man was standing over him. Only he looked older this close up. He was tall, yes. His hair dark? Yes. But his face was sunken, shallow, almost cutting. His eyes were vacant and hollow. He smiled down at Jarrod. Jarrod smiled back. Was this a hallucination? Was this man an angel, leading him to his Samantha?

“Are you,” Jarrod stuttered against the cold, breathing in the warmth that seemed to surround this man that stood before him. “Are you… an angel?”

The man spoke back, though his lips never parted, nor his mouth moved. The words flowed not from him exactly as they seemed to more or less come from the howling wind. The smile never left the man’s face.

“Not exactly,” he returned as he reached behind him and pulled a black hood up over his head.