Greed and Film Grain: Vera Cruz (1954)

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Probably no single US Western had more influence on the Italian revision of the genre in the 1960s than Vera Cruz. You can imagine Sergio Leone watching this movie and saying, “Hot damn, this is how I wanna make ‘em!” (Sam Peckinpah was watching too; The Wild Bunch contains direct visual quotes from this earlier trip down south for trigger-happy gunslingers to shoot up Mexico.) It was also a technical development in film formats: not exactly a tremendous leap forward, but something that placed the wider screen in reach of studios with less cash.

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MST3K Returns With a Season of Rip-Off Movies!

Today, Mystery Science Theater 3000 (which, if you don’t know, is one of my favorite things ever) finally revealed the six movies they’re gonna riff into pop-culture stardom for Season 12. Here’s the trailer announcement for “The Gauntlet,” as they’ve titled the season.

If you didn’t catch all the movies as they flashed by, they are: Mac & Me (1988), Atlantic Rim (2013), Lords of the Deep (1989), The Day Time Ended (1980), Killer Fish (1979), and Ator, The Fighting Eagle (1982). As a fan of schlock cinema, I’m proud to say I’m familiar with all these titles, although the only one I’ve seen all the way through is Ator. 

The season’s theme is a parody of Netflix binge-watching: Jonah, Tom, and Crow have to endure all six films back-to-back, allowing for crossover comedy from episode to episode. Maybe Tom will be incomprehensible by the last film and continually forget which movie he’s supposed to be riffing. That’s completely in Tom’s character.

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Forgotten Fantasy: The Face in the Abyss by A. Merritt

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Face in the Abyss wrap-around cover by Rodney Matthews

Edgar Rice Burroughs opened up the world of the pulps in the ‘teens, and the field of fantasy and science fiction (the latter of which didn’t even have that name yet) attracted new voices. One of the most successful to follow Burroughs was A. (Abraham) Merritt, a magazine editor and part-time speculative fiction author. Merritt specialized in the Los Civilization tale. He lavished an imaginative perspective onto this sub-genre unlike anything seen previously. In novels like The Moon Pool (1919), The Metal Monster (1920), and Dwellers in the Mirage (1932) he created science-fantasy vistas as astonishing as they were verbose. And of “coruscating” and “scintillating,” two words Merritt passionately loved.

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EW Did a Smear Job Against Clyde from Pac-Man

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It’s bizarre to me that the magazine 
Entertainment Weekly (“EW” so you know they’re still hip to the initials the kidz luv) is still around. The routine puff-piece weekly magazine is like the pathetic version of Empire, pumping out boring top ten lists run through market research grinders. And the covers are the absolute worst. The Worst.

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The Pit and the Pendulum: You Need Vincent Price Each October

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Happy October! I’m resurrecting horror movie articles from my old blog and revamping them. This article is reworked from a 2013 post.

Although Peter Cushing is my favorite horror movie actor—because Peter Cushing is my favorite actor, period—I bow to the popular wisdom that no performer better fits Halloween season thaN Mr. Vincent Price, whose elegance of evil combined with the reassurance of an old friend is the right flavor of fun n’ fright that marks the best of October.

When I first wrote about The Pit and the Pendulum, it was for the release of the first Vincent Price Blu-ray set. We’ve since had a second one, making it easier to indulge in the glories of Price during Halloween.

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My First Perilous Worlds Articles Are Live

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My first three articles for Perilous Worlds, the new publishing imprint and website, are now live. Presenting, for your enjoyment:

Hammer Country Concludes

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John Carson in The Plague of the Zombies

The end of another October crammed with articles about horror films from Britain’s great beast of the genre, Hammer Film Productions. Like last year, I did a Hammer horror-post-a week for Black Gate. This month’s selections:

As I did last October, I mixed up the periods and the qualities of the movies and saved the best for the last slot: The Plague of the Zombies is underseen for such a great film in this horror subgenre. Thankfully, there’s a North American Blu-ray coming from Shout! Factory in January. Two of the films are from Terence Fisher, Hammer’s great horror practitioner, but The Phantom of the Opera and The Man Who Could Cheat Death are among his weakest. Apologies for that, Terence, but I did two of your best last year. Hands of the Ripper is, hands down, (sorry) my favorite of Hammer’s 1970s output. I think I’ve watched it every October since I bought the Blu-ray.

I’m not sure yet if I’ll do Hammer October again next year. I still haven’t run out of titles, but I may do the Hammer Frankenstein movies as an article series once I finish my John Carpenter retrospective, and that will more than fill up the Hammer bill for the year.