Thursday, February 28, 2008

Miss Itsy-Poo of 1922

Mark and I just love Mae Murray. Her story's tragic and very "Sunset Boulevard" though her tall-tale-telling has only added confusion to her legacy. From one of Hollywood's biggest stars to being arrested on a park bench for vagrancy, poor Mae was the original true Hollywood story.

'Step aside, peasants! Let the Princess Mdivani pass!’ she demanded imperiously of the nurses who came forward to help her into the hospital.

Monday, February 25, 2008

More Slammies

The Hardest Working Actor Award goes to Jack Cassidy for appearing in four(!) projects after his death in 1976. Here's a clip of Jack on the Dinah Shore show displaying his two great talents, singing and being a jackass.

The Hardest Working Actor Award, First Runner-Up goes to Bela Lugosi, who only appeared in most of one movie after his death, but what a movie!

The Slammies

Here at CS we don't acknowledge the Oscars, 'cause ... well, 'cause they don't matter. For our first annual Slammer Awards, here are the illustrious winners. We don't care if they're dead.

'The Roddy McDowall Lifetime and Beyond Achievement Award', goes to William Castle, for influencing generations:

The Most Influential Dead Blonde Award goes to Jayne Mansfield, Goddess:

Our Favorite Queen Poll Winner - surprise! Liberace:

Our one Dead Star Tribute - fittingly, Vampira:

and of course, Satan. Just because.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Eddie Deezen – God of Nerds

You can hike up your pants, you can put tape on your glasses, you can wear suspenders, you can try to emulate the nasal laugh, you can hunch your shoulders and shuffle your squeaky Buster Browns through the local library – and you will not be half the nerd that is Eddie Deezen. There have been imitators and there will be more, but Eddie’s persona isn’t an act. He’s the quintessential nerd, as authentic as they come.

It all started with an underfunded sci-fi turkey called Laserblast (1978). This cult-classic would springboard Eddie into a slew of projects that showcased his unparalleled gift of nerd. He stalked the Beatles in I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978) and joined John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in Grease (1978). B-list director Steven Spielberg recognized his talents and in an inspired casting move invoked one of Eddie’s most bizarre performances. In the World War II satire 1941 (1979) Eddie plays war-weary kook Herbie Kazlminsky, brandishing a ventriloquist dummy that looks exactly like him (!).

A personal favorite is the cult-classic Midnight Madness (1980) starring David Naughton, with a cameo by Paul Reubens and featuring the debut of young Michael J. Fox. It’s a scavenger hunt flick that employs five teams of college student stereotypes: the heroes, the jocks, the sorority sisters, the wealthy nogoodnicks and Eddie’s team of nerds. Leon, the enigmatic engineer of the “Great All Nighter” scavenger hunt, pits the teams against each other as they cavort the greater Los Angeles area. The competition turns into a small scale war between the teams as they engage in food-fights and automotive sabotage. Eddie and his team of clones scoot around the city on their matching white mopeds, wearing uniform-like white shirts and helmets. Eddie, with his trademark gaping-mouth smile, leads his team through one humiliation after another, finally storming the lobby of the Bonaventure Hotel on their bikes in search of the finish line.

There were a few more notable film appearances such as Zapped! (1982) with Scott Baio and War Games (1983) with Matthew Broderick. But a few years later Eddie would find a home in television, briefly snooping around with Magnum P.I. and hanging out with Punky Brewster for a few episodes. This would lead him into a lucrative career in voiceover work.

Check out for a super nerdy fan club page run by Eddie Deezen himself, complete with trivia and quizzes about history and what-not.

R.I.P., Ben Chapman

... better known as one of my very favorites - The Creature From the Black Lagoon!

... which, believe it or not, is not only the same fishin' hole at the beginning of the Andy Griffith Show, but only a few miles from my house, and a favorite hiking spot of mine.

Monday, February 18, 2008

"Baby Love" (1968)

Wow, this peculiar little flick is a real relic of Swinging London in the late ‘60s. Our 15 year-old heroine Luci (Linda Hayden—later to appear in a few Hammer horror films and some softcore fair) is a precocious youngster who falls into tragic circumstances when her whory, beefy mom, Liz (former British sex kitten, Diana “The Siren of Swindon” Dors—as well as the former Mrs. Richard Dawson!), decides to do the smart thing and kill herself.

However, all is not lost because into the breach steps an improbably rich ex-boyfriend of Mummy’s named Robert (Keith Barron) who improbably decides to take the semi-chunky teen into the placid home he very probably shares with his mousy wife Amy (Ann Lynn) and their geekish son Nick (Derek Lamden).

Soon, Luci is parading around the backyard in a bikini and seems to have everyone in the house especially agitated down the trousers. Especially Amy! When Luci starts complaining of nightmares Amy decides the needy gal could use a bunkmate to get her through this rough patch. Sensing that she has this drab housewife all hot and bothered, Luci amuses herself by pretending to be sleeping then grinding herself all over the sexually confused homemaker. Panic ensues!

But when Luci runs home crying after some dandified fops try to forcibly hit her up for hairstyling tips—Amy gets so turned on by Luci’s convulsive sobs that she throws caution to the wind and begins smooching the deranged youngster as the scene fades out.

Yes, Luci has thrown a monkey wrench into the family’s routine, and Dad is pissed that he is no longer getting his rocks off with the misses at bedtime, while she’s off feeling up juicy Luci. Inappropriate!

Wildcat Luci also gets into a shoving match with young Nick in the shower, and the little jerk hits his head on a fixture and, rather conveniently, croaks instantly. Heavy drama!

I liked seeing the London of forty years ago, and the earnest way this family of wacked-out pervs was portrayed as getting their just desserts for getting too horny over a dopey little teenybopper.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Girl Can't Help It - or Could She?

There's nothing more tragic than an aging sex symbol who doesn't morph into something else. There are possibilities - see Marlene Dietrich - but Jayne Mansfield didn't know it and neither does Pam Anderson:

Pam famous boobs
Jayne famous boobs
Pam 12 Playboy appearances
Jayne 30 Playboy appearances
Pam animal lover/activist
Jayne animal lover/tried to smuggle chihuahas into UK
Pam Vegas nightclub act
Vegas nightclub act
Pam hung out w/wrestlers
Jayne hung out w/bodybuilders
Pam loving mother
Jayne loving mother
Pam beaten up by Tommy Lee
Jayne beaten up by Sam Brody
Pam "I'm actually really smart"
Jayne "I have an IQ of 163"
Pam resorts to strap "accidents"
Jayne infamous for oops-they-fell-out schtick
Pam loves the stripper pole
Jayne would strip regardless of pole
Pam Motley Crue fan
Jayne Rocky Roberts and the Airedales fan
Pam Blonde & Blonder w/Denise Richards
Jayne Las Vegas Hillbillys w/Mamie Van Doren
Pam doing the Bardot thing
Jayne did the Bardot thing
Pam on nudie club act: "It's art"
Jayne on nudie club act: "Kinky, you know?"

The Spiral Staircase

Is there anything more terrifying than watching someone who can't see, hear, or speak get stalked by a killer? The Spiral Staircase still rattles; mute Helen is terrorized by a killer who targets 'women with afflictions.' A prototypical Wait Until Dark, Robert Siodmak's film gives the viewer a feeling of helplessness that goes beyond the usual dramatic irony. I still can't walk by an iron fence without thinking of Dorothy McGuire being stalked by the killer.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Comin' at ya! In 3-D -- in the 80s !!

Many of my Saturday afternoons (as a young teen) in the early 80s were spent going bug-eyed at the local cinema watching 3-D films. I recall mostly that my expectations were always greater than any of the films' production values. It was my introduction to real Hollywood schlock comin' at me.

Comin’ at Ya! (1981)
This cheapo Western from Spain was released in the USA and started the 3-D craze in early 80s films. The plot involves a good guy tracking down his girlfriend held hostage by bad guys. The film was reviewed as “generally boring with bad 3-D effects”.

Money shots: Bats, rats, guns, flaming arrows...and in one hysterically tasteless shot a baby's butt is lowered onto the camera!

House of Wax (1953)
Strangely, the Warner Brothers horror film starring Vincent Price was re-released to keep up with the demand of the 3-D matinee audience.

Parasite (1982)
Demi Moore stars in this futuristic horror movie as Patricia Welles, a young woman struggling to get by in a post-apocalyptic world where a flesh eating parasite is terrorizing the city. Also-starring Cherrie Currie of “The Runaways” rock band.

Money shots: A steel pipe pierces a body and blood flows out; a thug sticks his fingers into the parasite tube; a gun barrel points toward the audience; a parasite falls from the ceiling, and even parasites bursting from flesh come at ya.

Friday the 13th part III (1982)
Psycho-tard Jason Voorhees moves on to a Crystal Lake property called “Higgins Haven” where he slaughters teens and bikers and chases a woman whom he attacked (raped?) two years earlier.

Money shots: Opening Title Credit, a yo-yo, machete, pitchfork, and an eyeball comes at you.

Funfacts: Budgeted for $ 4 million, the film earned $34.5 million in the States.

Amityville 3-D (1983)

This was the first Amityville film to not be based on or inspired by the so-called "true story" of the original book and movie. The film stars Tony Roberts, Tess Harper, Meg Ryan, Lori Loughlin and Candy Clark (the former Mrs. Marjoe Gortner!).

Money shots: Flames, pets, and a demon from a cellar pit come at you.

Jaws 3-D (1983)
The film involves the oldest son from the first two Jaws films, Michael Brody (played by Dennis Quaid) working for SeaWorld in Florida, which is preparing for the launch of its new "Undersea Kingdom," a set of tunnels where people can "view the wonders of the deep without ever getting wet." You can imagine the outcome.

Money shots: shark’s teeth, shattered acrylic glass, and shark blown up bits come at you.

SpaceHunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983)
A sci-fi film about bounty hunter on a mission to rescue three women stranded on a brutal planet. He meets a vagrant teenage girl (Molly Ringwald) along the way.

Funfacts: Budgeted at $ 14.4 million, the film grossed $ 16.4 million.

Executive Producer: Ivan Reitman. Elmer Bernstein composed the score.

MetalStorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983)
This sci-fi western involves a space ranger in search of an intergalactic criminal with supernatural powers named Jared-Syn, (played by Michael Preston). Also-starring Kelly Preston (Mrs Travolta) and Richard “Night Court” Moll.

Fun facts: Critics pointed out that the title, "...the Destruction of Jared-Syn", makes little sense since the villain is never destroyed and actually gets away in the end.

Treasure of the Four Crowns (1983)
Spaghetti western vet actor/producer Tony Anthony stars as a JT Striker - a fortune hunter seeking valuable gems hidden inside two of the remaining four Mystical Crowns which are guarded by a cult lead by the evil Brother Jonas.

Funfacts: Music by Ennio Morricone. Treasure of the Four Crowns was rushed into production by Cannon Films after the runaway success of Comin' at Ya! by the same producers. It was released just as the 80s 3-D era was coming to an end.

The poster is better than the movie.

Well, except for the part where Jack Nicholson mutters, "We put garlic on the bullets." I think that's his only line.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Christopher Plummer, Monroe and ...Hasselhoff?

Well, sort of. Yes, “Sound of Music” Christopher Plummer and yes, oh god yes, David “Bay Watch” Hasselhoff. But the Monroe in question is Caroline Monroe, the beautiful and almost famous Italian “actress”. The film is, of course, “Starcrash: The Adventures of Stellar Star” made only months after “Star Wars” and tries ever so hard to cash in every way possible except in quality.

Still, there is something lovable about this film. Just as it is hard to resist the flattery of someone who wants you to like them so much, you give in eventually and find a good point or two to make hanging with them seem worthwhile, this movie manages to reel you in.

Mme Monroe's performance is like nothing else you've ever seen. Even laughing she is totally blank, sucking thoughts right from your mind as they occur. She changes her costume in almost every scene (all of them worthy of “Barbarella”) and even though playing some sort of tough, mercenary pilot (the best in the galaxy) she gives up at at the first sign of trouble. “Ok... you win... this time”. I wish I could put “this” in caps... but she says everything in monotone.

Each shot is filled with coloured lights like some sort of bad acid trip, even space seems over-lit, and that the plastic models take on an over the top, pop art look. There is terrible stop motion animation in some weird attempt to mesh the old “Sinbad” movie series with space opera. The villain flies around in a spaceship shaped liked a giant hand that makes a fist when he is angry... I'm not lying!

EVERYONE wears inappropriate costumes. Plummer looks like a knight from the round table ( and really tries to give his character’s ridiculous lines meaning - making them even more ridiculous), Stellar wear less leather and more plastic as the film goes on and the villain Count Chocula... no that's not it.. whatever... is way too fat for his leather suit with an uncomfortable red “V” at the crotch. He has a cape (no surprise) to fling open at every other word, proving that black is not always flattering.

I searched for this film on DVD for years, my VHS copy had long worn out from multiple viewings and finally got it a couple of weeks ago. I think it sold for about 10$... well worth it!

Two Great Tastes...

Often, I have wondered how I could show my love for pretentious arty directors and dirty heavy metal at the same time. Now I don't have to wonder anymore, because the fine folks at CineFile Video has found a way to combine my two great loves into one great T Shirt. Check out all their shirts here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

RIP, Roy Scheider

Damn. I went thru a whole Roy Scheider thing ... I love those sexy, wiry Jews. And think about it: French Connection, Klute, Marathon Man, Jaws and All That Jazz. In one decade? That's pretty amazing.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Timothy Carey - The World's Greatest Sinner

The common theory is that a great character actor sneaks up on the star, the director, and you in the audience, and politely steals the scene. If this is the case then Timothy Carey was not a great character actor.

Sometimes credited as Timothy Agoglia Carey, he was one of the most brooding figures of famous (and infamous) films in the 20th century. He weaseled his way into productions and when that didn’t work he threatened his way in. Carey is rumored to have pulled a gun on Harry Cohn in the middle of an audition in the 1950's, firing blanks at the then head of Columbia Pictures.

The World’s Greatest Sinner is Timothy Carey’s first attempt to manage the other side of the camera as producer/writer/director. With Carey in the starring role it’s the story of Clarence Hilliard, a disillusioned insurance salesman and family man that wants more out of life. Much more. He wants to know where he can find God. He turns to writing, and eventually politics, ultimately finding his voice as a new-world messiah. Clarence spreads his word through pamphlets at first and graduates to evangelism through the new religion of rock and roll. As his grasp on power increases he seduces an elderly woman for money and an underage teen for influence. His street performances grow into full-scale press conferences. Clarence is convinced that man as a whole is God! He spirals toward his much-needed event of clarity.

The film has never been released theatrically and may have never had an official telecine transfer for video but it can be found as a bootleg in the furthest corners of the cinephile circuit. If you can’t find it at least be sure to check out one of the films that Timothy Carey co-starred in. I guarantee you’ve never scene anything like him.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mickey Rooney is the Devil, part 17, chapter 8

Just when you think you've seen/heard it all, a friend sends me the following. Y'know, when people find out what upsets you - as in my case, giant bunnies, unfinished wood, Peeps, evil dwarves, and Mickey Rooney - they go out of their way to show you examples. Why?

'Friend' writes:

From one of the latest bootleg catalogs*:

Y291 Milky Life, The (1992) aka: Andy Hardy's Great Lactations (Just Kidding !) - Mickey Rooney plays a rich industrialist that wants to be a baby again. He starts wearing diapers, speaks only baby talk, and hires a big boobied woman (Mariane Sagebrecht) to wet nurse him. Wow, I am guessing all American Cultural Hero Rooney would prefer no one saw this one! With English Subs

Sadly, this is no joke. Here's the IMDB listing and you can see why it hasn't gotten any attention. I'll be damned if I add a plot synopsis and details. It's listed as a "comedy" rather than "horror."

*I'm protecting them in case certain Rooneyites go on their trail. Anyone who puts this movie out deserves to stay in business!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Bad Ronald (1974)

I have dug this damn movie since I first saw it back in the 1970s. In essence, it's just your run-of-the-mill "Movie Of The Week" style television flick with some familiar faces and a rather low-budget vibe. On paper, nothing special. But this adaption of John Vance's novel (of the same name) hinges on the performance of one of the decade's best teen thespians, Scott Jacoby.

Jacoby shines as awkward misfit Ronald Wilby--an intellectual geek and bigtime mama's boy who yearns to fit in with the "cool" teens in his neighborhood---in particular, the annoyingly egomaniacal ingenue Laurie Mathews (Shelley Spurlock) and her band of snotty friends.

When Ronald dresses up in his awful clothes and shows up in Laurie's yard to try and ask her out he's met with a less than enthusiastic reaction. As it happens, she's chillaxin' by the pool with her rotten friends as our hero decides to make his move. The positively satanic girl and her hellish cohorts slamdunk Ronald's pride as savagely as Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins used to do back in the day when he was shattering all those backboards. Ronald leaves the pool party a broken man.

This is when our distraught young anti-Christ runs into Laurie's sixth grader-ish younger sister Carol (Angela Hoffman) who gladly continues haranguing this four-eyed time bomb.

"She only likes football players...and besides--you're weird, Ronald!"

You got it, sis! But Ronald, clearly, has reached his limit for tolerating snide comments for the afternoon. He picks up the pint-sized pain in the ass by her scrawny neck and smashes her dopey little head into a handy cinder block. So, it's lights out for the loud lass, but Ronald has so much life left to live!

The bespectacled boy wonder goes home and breaks the news to his super wacky Mom (Kim Hunter a.k.a. Zira from "The Planet of the Apes") who decides that Junior should move into a backroom in the house (that they board up) so that "no one will know" the pimply killer is still in the house. Almost unbelievably, this silly ruse fools the cops completely. And Ronald is left to go increasingly nuttier as he spends all his time in his room pretending that the bizarre fairy tales he dreams up in his twisted mind are actual reality.

But tragedy strikes when Big Bad Mama goes into the hospital for an operation and never comes out. This leaves Ronnie Baby in a real pickle, but conveniently it's not long before a new family (headed by an ultra-laidback Dabney Coleman!) moves in with a trio of foxy mini-skirted daughters...Ronald sets his sights on the youngest gal, Babs (Cindy Fisher), and manages to work her into his sicko fairy tale plotline.

Anyway, there's more but I will let you check it out for yourselves. Director Buzz Kulik does a good job of straddling the line between '70s network television banality and a genuine psychological thriller. And Jacoby and Kim Hunter make this eccentric little movie well worth a look.

Not All Cartoons Are For Children (or are they?)

In the early 1970’s the dope-smoking, comedic duo known as Cheech & Chong recorded a strange, but significant, tale of a ghetto child reared on the sport of basketball. It was later animated in 1974. The clip would eventually inspire a remake by comedian Chris Rock and singer Barry White (as a duo).

I remember this short from my childhood, though I’m not sure where from. It could have been broadcast on television with my Saturday morning cartoons. Maybe that’s what makes it a bit disturbing, the fact that it might have slipped in with the mainstream. It’s obviously offensive and racist in nature but, at the same time, presents the satirization of one minority group by another at a specific time. Interesting, no?

The short is its own vehicle but can also be found within the following features:

California Split by Robert Altman

And my favorite...

Being There by Hal Ashby

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lost "Boys" - finally coming to DVD

Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band will (finally) be released on DVD in May 2008!

Written for the stage before Stonewall and produced for film while the riots happened, this film was one of the first to include a nearly entirely gay ensemble. Considered by many to be a landmark in gay representation in cinema, it has left many confused as to why it took so long to be released on DVD.

Historically and politically significant despite (or because of) the pervading self-loathing and wallowing self-pity of its gay characters, The Boys in the Band is a stage-bound, hyperventilating comedy-drama about eight friends who get together for a simple birthday party. What ensues during the course of the evening are enough emotion, acid-laced barbs and self-analysis to last a lifetime.

The film starred the entire original stage cast, many of which have since died of AIDS related illnesses.

Here is the roll-call:

Peter White (alan) He is still working in features (Flubber, Armeggedon) & TV.

Larry Luckinbill (hank) married Desilu heiress Lucy Arnaz. He still acts, as recently as 2003 on Broadway in Cabaret as tragic "Herr Shultz".

Kenneth Nelson (michael) 1930-1993
He died of AIDS in London, but worked in films thru 1990.

Leonard Frey (harold) 1938-1988
He got an Oscar nom for Fiddler on the Roof role - died of AIDS in NYC - worked in tv and films thru 1987.

Cliff Gorman (emory) 1936-2002
He died of leukemia in NYC (worked thru 1999 in films & TV).

Frederick Combs (donald) 1935-1992
He died in LA of AIDS (worked in tv/theatre).

Keith Prentice (larry) 1940-1992
He died of cancer in Ohio (acted in Mary Martin's The Sound of Music on Broadway -- and in 1980's Cruising).

Robert La Tournex (cowboy)
He died of AIDS in 1986.


"What I am, Michael, is a 32-year-old, ugly, pock-marked, Jew fairy. And if it takes me a while to pull myself together and if I smoke a little grass before I can get up the nerve to show this face to the world, it's nobody's goddamn business but my own."

-Harold, on explaining his lateness to his own birthday party

Fuzzy Mandingos

Many years ago, I used to work at a large video rental store on Newbury Street, Boston (USA). The clientele was challenging at times to say the least. This was the start of video renting and films costs anywhere from 40 – 200$ depending on how much the studios wanted to stick it to the stores. You actually dealt directly with the studios to get videos and they would even let you special order some films they had lying around and not officially released. A blessing... and a curse as one member of the video store decided she absolutely wanted to copy a new copy of a “classic” film. Her plan? Make the store buy a new copy for her, then return it and get her money back after copying it. I made her keep it of course... how many copies of certain films can one store carry?

The resulting conversation as she made her attempt, to the best of my memory:

“HEY! YOU! Manager! I need to talk to you!”
“Yes... what seems to be the problem?”
“My Mandingo is FUZZY!”
“Excuse me?”
“You heard me! My Mandingo is FUZZY!”
“Maybe you would like to rephrase that...”
“My Mandingo is FUZZY!”
“Maybe you should trim it then.”
“You don't think it's Fuzzy do you? Let me show you...” and she reached into her pants and I expected the worse. Luckily, it was just the video she wanted to return.

Of course, during this exchange, a former friend of mine was not so discreetly rolling on the floor, slamming himself against the wall and pointing at her.

She never tried the same thing with “Mandinga”, the “female Mandingo” as the advertisement called it. maybe only the males get fuzzy.