Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BURNT OFFERINGS (1976) “The House Takes Care of Itself”

Greg Goodsell here -- since I recently covered a film I saw with my late father at the time of its release, ROLLERBALL, I will bookend this with a film I saw with my late mother at the time of its release, BURNT OFFERINGS! This film has quite a pedigree -- and all-star cast, and is directed by DAN CURTIS, the king of made-for-TV horror! They just remade his DARK SHADOWS for the big screen with Johnny Depp, and -- let's talk about something else...

Here we are introduced to the dazzlingly dysfunctional Rolf family! KAREN BLACK is Mom, Ken Russell favorite OLIVER REED is Dad, and repulsive child actor Lee Montgomery -- the one who befriended the rat in the movie BEN, which in turn led to an early hit for singer Michael Jackson, are motoring to their summer home! It’s the imposing, isolated Allardyce estate, that they’re to occupy for the summer. They’ve got the crumbling manse for a song, but as everyone knows, there’s always a very heavy price to pay –

Here is the still beautiful -- but rapidly decaying Allardyce estate. Mrs. Rolf is bound and determined to spruce the place up to its former glory, and she gets her wish. As we shall see…

BURGESS MEREDITH plays the flamingly flamboyant Arnold Allardyce, the wheelchair-bound son of the Allardyce clan! Meredith could overact with the best of them -- HURRY, SUNDOWN, OF MICE AND MEN, ROCKY, THE SENTINEL, TV’s Batman “The Penguin” -- the list extends out into infinity! He lived to the ripe old age of 90 and was in the GRUMPY OLD MEN movie series right up until he passed on!

And here is EILEEN HECKART as sis Roz Allardyce! Heckart, like Meredith has a list of acting credits several miles long! She tells the Rolfs that "the house takes care of itself" and part of the very reasonable summer rates is the family must look after old mother Allardyce, who never leaves her attic bedroom!

Here's something about Karen Black I bet you didn't know -- we courted Black for an interview with Screem magazine several years ago and she turned us down flat because we were a "horror" publication! Since she is a devout Scientologist, it is against her beliefs to appear in a film with supernatural overtones. She insists that HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, TRILOGY OF TERROR and this film are "science-fiction" movies! Go figure! I guess her religion has given her much strength -- look at what it did for fellow Scientologist John Travolta recently!

-- and how could we forget BETTE DAVIS as the lovably dotty Aunt Elizabeth! This role for her was a stretch -- in lieu of being a malevolent Baby Jane or Nanny, Bette begins the film as a feisty little old lady who falls into dementia. Her downfall is truly tragic!

Mama Allardyce, forever unseen, works on her picture collection in secret. Cue one of the many similarities to THE SHINING. For your information, BURNT OFFERINGS was a book AND movie long before Kubrick and King tangled on that modern masterpiece.

The house's Olympic-sized swimming pool becomes a focus of dread pretty darn quick!

Here, the house begins to exert its psychic toll on poor Aunt Elizabeth, as she seemingly puts on 20 years in a matter of days!

Reliable character actor ANTHONY JAMES plays the ghastly chauffeur, the only really visible phantom in this “haunted house” story. This ghastly vision is fresh from Oliver Reed’s funeral for his mother he experienced as a child. While James has a resume a mile long, for the ultimate in James goodness, check out THE TEACHER (1974), an odd role for an actor usually cast as a bad guy in westerns – he plays a charmingly inept and hilarious serial killer!

GASP! It's the hearse and the evil chauffeur from Mr. Rolf's mother's funeral, rolling into the modern day!

Ask not for whom the bell tolls....

Oops! Someone left the gas on in junior's bedroom! Who did it? Aunt Elizabeth, have you been hitting the Nyquil again?

Poor Aunt Elizabeth is at death's door! A matter of days ago she was the prototypical little old lady in tennis shoes, and now she appears in the final throes of Alzheimer's! DEADLY SERIOUS NOTE: Sometimes it happens that way.

BURNT OFFERINGS relies totally on understatement, and little details that only the viewer can pick up. Karen Black has become a Stepford Wife with a vengeance, and has begun to make some very interesting wardrobe changes -- it will all make sense at the end.

We're running out of room, so let's just say that things go from bad to worse. Mr. Rolf becomes an abusive bully, Mrs. Rolf becomes a bubble-headed hausfrau and junior is continually underfoot, a victim in his parent's ongoing tug-of-war! But as the old song says, “Oz didn't give nothin' to the Tin Man that he didn't already have!”

Cue big shock conclusion -- Mrs. Bates, oops, Mrs. Allardyce? This flick does steal from the best.

Mr. Rolf has had enough! Goodbye, Allardyce estate!

AAAAAAAAhhhhh! My kindly mother turned her head from the movie screen at this point.

A very long movie at nearly two hours, BURNT OFFERINGS benefits from a less-is-more approach and lots of little atmospheric touches that the viewer must discover. It also holds a moral: beautiful homes harbor some drastically unhappy families!

Monday, May 28, 2012

SANTO vs THE MARTIAN INVASION / Producciones Cinematográficas - 1967

This is the last Mexican Monster Monday in May with Tabonga, here at The Dungeon!.. In this adventure, Santo faces off with a bunch of Martians who land on Earth and plan on taking it over. Check out the lobby card, they make it look like they go to Mars! No, the whole flick takes place on Earth... Poor dumb kids.

Eegah!! made us a fun little soundclip of mostly kookie rock music from the club scene for our listening amusement, sooooo, you can push the big red 'GO' button there by the brick comforter, NOW, Ralphie The Tarantula! Here's a sample of spacey sounds from... SANTO vs THE MARTIAN INVASION!

These are the mighty Martians, preparing to land on Earth...

Santo watches in his lab as the Martians take over communications to broadcast their plan of conquest to the public.

Makes you wonder what el Nazi must have thought when he had to get fitted with this blonde wig and 'Martian' headgear!

All a Martian has to do is touch his victims and push a button on his belt, and... Poof!

But, where did they GO, George?

Here's the toy top they used for the flying saucer, mostly hidden by the miniature foilage... I had a few tops in my day.

Martian ladies show up at the gym and turn Santo's wrasslin' buddies against him! In the very cool Adult Swim cartoon series, THE BOONDOCKS, rapper Thugnificent had a tune called "Stomp 'Em In The Nuts!" That's what the 2nd photo reminds me of.

Sultry beauty Maura (THE BATWOMAN) Monti hypnotizes Santo into believing he has unmasked himself!

Santo takes his trademark white sportscar out (this time it looks like an MG) to fight Martian crime, wherever it may exist!

Mmmm, a mess o' marvelous Mexican Martian mavens!!

Even though the Martians have invaded Earth, there's always time for fun at the nightclub!!

With all their unearthly powers, the Martians are still no match for our hero... Viva Santo!!

Santo borrows one of the Martian's invisibility belts to see where he goes when he pushes the 'GO' button... Wait, an outhouse?!

The final battle takes place inside the saucer, any guess as to who'll win?

The Earth vs Mars movie win/loss tally: Earth 17 - Mars 0

Saturday, May 26, 2012

`STARCRASH - "May The Farce Be With You" (1978)

OKAY!!! The time has finally come! The moment you've been waiting for, the Super Saturday Seventies Spectacular Special, "STARCRASH"!!!

Caroline Munro is the stunning Stella Star, and mighty Marjoe Gortner is Akton!! Leave it to the Italians to come up with a cast that includes a one time four year old child evangelist coupled with one of the UK's queens of horror! But we're just getting started......Pretty cool spaceship they've got!!

If you had to pick somebody to be the super slimeball tough guy Count Zarth Arn that wants to rule the universe, Joe (MANIAC) Spinell would have to be the guy at the top of the list!!

Still more leftovers from "Wizard Of Mars," is that even remotely possible? Well, maybe conceptually anyway!

Caroline Munro has had an awesome career! Not only was she Dr. Phibes dead wife Victoria Regina Phibes in both of the Dr. Phibes movies, she was also Naomi in the "The Spy Who Loved Me," and along with Joe Spinell, was in "Maniac" and another film we'll get around to some day, "The Last Horror Film!"

This space skull barbarian shot of Stella Star looks like some kind of classic fantastic Frank Frazetta comic illustration!!

It's said that Caroline Munro and her blonde counterpart Ingrid Pitt were known as the Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe of UK horror! It's funny how Caroline Munro and Marilyn Monroe sound so similar, but Caroline was the one compared to Jane Russell not Marilyn!

I couldn't find my copy, but I might still have this Caroline Munro 12" single "Pump Me Up" that was produced by Gary Numan around here somewhere! Caroline Munro was never big on posing nude, she didn't need to!!

Caroline and Marjoe are joined on a good part of their journey by the campy robot Elle, who has Judd (The Last Horror Film) Hamilton inside, and whose obnoxious twangy voice in English was provided by actor and folk singer Hamilton Camp, who had a song that hit #76 in 1968 called "Here's To You!" The Pelón Thor was portrayed by Robert (Born Loser Glory Stomper Outlaw Rider) Tessier! Robert rounded out his career in the 1990 feature "Fertilize the Blaspheming Bombshell!"

Stella Star's meeting with this giant amazon robot seemed awfully reminiscent of one one of the Sinbad movies as do Count Zarth Arn's armed robot guards! Caroline Munro also had the role of Margiana in "The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad"

In a very primitive encounter with a bunch of cavemen launched off of trampolines, the robot Elle literally gets his brains bashed in, and Stella is left alone again!

Next up a stylish masked man appears out of nowhere to watch over Stella, and bigger than elephant poop, it's none other than..........

.........The Hoff, in his second ever film production! David Hasselhoff's previous film appearance was in "Revenge Of The Cheerleaders" where he played a character named Boner!

Thor ends up showing his true traitorous colours, and Marjoe has to kick his ass with what appears to be miracles of power! Just in case you wondered, Marjoe's name was derived from a combination of Mary and Joseph!

Just try and sit back, relax, and bask in the beauty of these combined four shots of cinematic wonder!!

Because "Starcrash" is SO bad, I can easily say it's one of the best flicks I've seen this year! Just like Joe Spinell in most of his films, it's that bad!! Joe Spinell passed away back in 1989 at the age of 52, from what are still undetermined causes!

Probably the most disappointing element of "Starcrash" is the uninspiring music by the genius John (Can you say James Bond?) Barry!! It is so brutally Star something else, it will keep your mind in wonder!

The gorgeous Caroline Munro looks so much like Spongebob's friend Sandy Cheeks in this final picture that it has left me speechless!!!

"Starcrash," what a fantastic giant heap of steaming dung, and what a great movie!!!!

Monster Music

Monster Music
AAARRGGHHH!!!! Ya'll Come On Back Now, Y'Hear??