Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: Z is for Zero to Sixty!


I'm not sure why this poster is in black and white - I doubt the actual poster was - but this was a tough poster to track down at all - and the movie's just as elusive. And I have to be honest - it's not that great a movie - but it's Darren McGavin and Joan Collins and the Hudson Brothers - and it's just a goofy damn movie with repo man McGavin helping out a 16 year old runaway girl to the detriment of what little life he's got.

Car chases and a slightly uncomfortable May-December vibe add to the weirdness. Produced by McGavin's wife Katherine Browne and directed by Don Weis - who helmed four episodes of Kolchak-The Night Stalker - this played on Showtime like it was going out of style in the early 80's and has rarely been seen since. If you like McGavin - even if only from his yearly appearance in your house from A Christmas Story - you should try tracking this one down.

In another startling coincidence (wink) - this April 2014 A-Z Blogging Challenge has come to an end - on my birthday! Again! So, I shall play the birthday boy card and indulge myself with a couple of fun video clips. Fun for me anyway...

I know! Here are three of my favorite TV show openings ever!

Awesome Stephen J. Cannell show from 1983-1986. And for B movie fans - that opening narrator is none other than John Ashley - who acted in the Beach movies with Frankie and Annette and made several exploitation movies in the Phllipines in the late 60's and early 70's, then later worked as a producer on The A-Team for Cannell!

Mission:Impossible is my favorite TV show of all time. It was brought back in 1988 to ABC during a long writer's strike - they used the scripts from the original show, with allowed updating elements. After the strike ended they continued the show with original stories. Peter Graves was back - and Phil Morris - son of original M:I star Greg Morris - was brought in to play the son of his dad's character - now that's cool.

and finally -

A funny and well acted show - here's season 6's extended opening - and if you've never watched this show - I truly recommend it. The first few episodes are okay - but it's one of those shows that just gets better and better after the cast starts meshing and the writers know how to write for them. I think these credits show the cast chemistry.

Until next post - after a few days off - and with my thanks for coming by the April 2014 A-Z Blogging Challenge - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: Y is for You Only Live Twice!

And Twice is the only way to live!


We're nearing the end of this A-Z Challenge - and I've featured two James Bond knock-off movie posters. For those just joining us - they were - coincidentally - back to back - Never Too Young to Die and Operation Kid Brother.

And while I did say at the start of this challenge that I was going to feature smaller, less well known (or remembered) movies - I am a 007 Superfan, so I wanted to get one of the movies' posters in. This seemed like a good time.

James Bond is headed to Japan to find out who is hijacking rockets right out of orbit. He suspects it's his old best enemy group S.P.E.C.T.R.E.  - and he might be right. He's never seen that group's leader - Ernst Stavro Blofeld - but before this one ends they meet face to cracked face - and wait til you meet Little Nellie and her grumpy father!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, April 28, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: X is for X-Ray!


While the pool of "X" movies battles with "Q" movies to be the smallest - at least there are crazy movies like this one available. What would seem to be a slightly late in coming standard issue slasher picture makes it on to this list for a few reasons. Let's list them.

1.) Barbi Benton. I have always liked her - and she was never more beautiful than in this movie.

2.) Once Barbi's character goes into the hospital - the movie gets blissfully strange - like she's crossed into another dimension. People act weird; the hospital has sections teeming with people right next door to entirely empty wings; old Jewish ladies are played by men, etc.

3.) This movie was sent out under several alternate titles. The most prevalent was Hospital Massacre. Then there was X-Ray - which helped me out today. Lastly, the opening setup involves Valentine's Day when Barbi is a girl. This led to one of the greatest titles in film history - and the only one this movie should have ever had, this A-Z Challenge notwithstanding: Be My Valentine...Or Else!

What more could anyone ask?

Until next post - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: W is for The War Wagon!


I realized as I went to select the W movie that there was a whole W genre I hadn't touched on in this series - and it's a genre I really enjoy - the Western. And here's a W movie that fits the bill nicely for a good solid Western - and of course it stars another W - John Wayne. Plus you get Kirk Douglas as a bonus.

The bad guys have an armored stagecoach called the War Wagon. The Duke and Kirk team up to take it down. Simple as that - and you're also getting dollops of another favorite genre movie - the heist flick - where a group comes together to plan out and execute some kind of caper against tremendous odds. (Are you surprised to find out Mission: Impossible is my favorite television show?)

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Friday, April 25, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: V is for Videodrome!


A typically challenging David Cronenberg movie - this one combining his patented "body horror" with some still topical ideas regarding cable television and what might be termed taboo entertainment.

When cable station exec James Woods discovers a secret satellite channel called Videodrome serving up real sex and violence to its subscribers, he starts investigating, little knowing what's in store for him when he starts tuning in...

Co-starring Sonja Smits and Debbie Harry (of Blondie fame) - this is the best kind of disturbing movie - with some incredible Rick Baker makeup effects. Recommended for those so inclined.

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: U is for Up the Creek!


Take a couple of guys from National Lampoon's Animal House (Tim "Otter" Matheson and Stephen "Flounder" Furst) and one guy from Porky's (Dan "Pee-Wee" Monahan) - put them in a raft race with your standard issue military school jackwagons among others - and let the shenanigans begin!

There's nothing too surprising about this R rated slob comedy -  but it's pleasantly played and was shot in some beautiful locations in Oregon - and female lead Jennifer Runyan - now married to Roger Corman's nephew and sporting a Corman at the end of her name - is "introduced" here and is very cute. What more could anyone ask?

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: T is for Tarantula!


I have been a fan of the 1950's Big Bug movies since I was a little kid catching them on TV. This is pretty much my favorite. John Agar and the gorgeous Mara Corday run away from Leo G. Carroll's ever growing arachnid - a byproduct of an experiment to end world hunger.

Director Jack Arnold does his job well - the effects are cool - the story is interesting - and the cast is good - including a young Clint Eastwood, who turns up near the end of the movie:

But he is only seen flying his plane with this oxygen mask on - still - there's no mistaking those eyes - or his voice.

Until next post - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: S is for Shock Waves!


The same year he'd done Star Wars - Peter Cushing came to Florida to film this cool little low key horror flick. He plays a psycho Nazi scientist (redundant, I know) hiding out on an uncharted island off the coast of Florida since WWII ended thirty years ago. Then boat captain John Carradine's engines conk out - and he and his passengers end up on the island with Cushing - and his experiments - aquatic Nazi zombie troopers. Let the mayhem begin.

Oh yes...there will be blood.

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With An Aquatic Nazi Zombie Trooper, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, April 21, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: R is for Radioland Murders!


 Fair Disclosure - I worked on this movie. I was the key production assistant for the second unit, and a day player production assistant for first unit. I will tell the whole story of my work on this movie - and why it was made - in one of my upcoming "I Was A Teenage Production Assistant" posts. Suffice to say it's an interesting tale (to me, anyway).

But what you have here is a big, sprawling, and frenetic George Lucas production with an incredible cast - here's SOME of the people in this movie:

Brian Benben

Mary Stuart Masterson

Ned Beatty

George Burns

Scott Michael Campbell

Brion James

Michael Lerner

Michael McKean

Jeffrey Tambor

Stephen Tobolowsky

Christopher Lloyd

Larry Miller

Anita Morris

Corbin Bernsen

Rosemary Clooney

Bobcat Goldthwait

Robert Walden

Dylan Baker

Billy Barty

Tracy Byrd

Candy Clark

Anne De Salvo

That's right - I worked on George Burns's last movie. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Some may find it too fast paced and over the top - but I think it's a funny movie - so I say - check it out!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A-Z Challenger 2014: Q is for Q - The Winged Serpent!


Here's another rather glorious poster for a stop motion animated monster movie - like the C post The Crater Lake Monster - but this time the movie is very cool.

The always quirky Larry Cohen wrote, produced, and directed what is essentially a 70's style character driven crime drama of a second rate criminal (Michael Moriarty) that just happens to have a flying reptilian beastie in it too. Girlfriend Candy Clark and cops David Carradine and Richard Roundtree add to the fun.

I'll say this for Q - you've never seen a movie quite like it!

Until next post you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Friday, April 18, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: P is for The Pirate Movie!


All right - I know - it's a really goofy movie - but that's the point! Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance becomes a big hit on Broadway. Movie rights are sought after and secured - a very theatrical looking version went before the movie cameras with Kevin Kline and Linda Ronstadt starring.

Then for some bizarre reason these filmmakers were undaunted and decide to film a spoof version - with parody songs and pop culture gags that were decades ahead of those "______ Movie" flicks that were coming out every couple of months a few years ago. This movie beat The Pirates of Penzance to theaters by about six months. Neither did very well at the box office, though this one had a long second life on HBO and other pay cable services throughout the 80's.

It's got an entertaining cast and was lushly shot in Australia - gorgeous scenery and solid production values make this one of my favorite WTH curio movies.

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Pirate, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: O is for Operation Kid Brother!


You gotta love the Italians - they do enjoy making their own versions of other people's movies. And you really gotta give it to these filmmakers - they didn't just find some hunky lantern jawed hero type and stick him in a generic James Bond pastiche - no, this bunch went and hired Sean Connery's brother - a non-acting plastic surgeon and archer - and had him play himself. Then they went and hired the Bond Girl from From Russia with Love (Daniela Bianchi); the main villain from Thunderball (Adolfo Celi); and a secondary bad guy from Dr. No (Anthony Dawson).

They weren't done yet either! They also hired M (Bernard Lee) to play Neil Connery's spy boss and Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) as the spy boss's secretary. Mind: blown! I guess what really surprises me is that the 007 producers just let this go on - with apparently no problem whatsoever.

I'd always heard and believed that this was just terrible - but I finally saw it a few months ago - and you know what? While it's true Neil Connery was no actor - the movie is actually an entertaining Bond knockoff - with outlandish but respectable production values and tongue enough in cheek to make it fun.

It was on Amazon Streaming in a nice widescreen version and might still be if you'd like to check it out.

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: N is for Never Too Young to Die!


Yeah, it's a video poster - but those count too! Here's a goofy 80's James Bond takeoff that at least had the good idea to actually hire a former James Bond - George Lazenby - to seal the 007 deal. Plus you have Vanity, Gene Simmons, and Robert Englund.  And, aw, what the heck - you got John Stamos too. And his hair. And a crazed hermaphrodite villain.  If you're not thinking "I need to see this right away...." then you should be!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: M is for Mad Monster Party?


Rankin/Bass Productions made some of the most beloved holiday TV specials from my youth. Stuff like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Comin' to Town. But they also made feature films - and this is one of my favorites of their productions.

Our favorite classic monsters brought to life with stop motion animated puppets - it's a great way to introduce youngsters to the monsters! You know you're in for a good time with the voices of Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Puppet, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, April 14, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: L is for The Last Starfighter!

I purchased the novelization of this movie long before I saw it - in fact, I missed it at the theater for whatever reason and only caught up with it on home video. I really don't know why that was, because I'd read the book and thought the story - boy plays video game, little knowing it's really an audition for a real space war - was wonderful.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie too - Lance Guest and Catherine Mary Stewart are the youngins; Dan O'Herlihy and Robert Preston are the old pros, and it's a terrific little flick. There are some really cool behind the scenes factoids too: director Nick Castle played Michael Myers (The Shape) in Halloween (1978); and this movie is the first to do all of its space visual effects with computer animation! (Yes, they're slightly primitive - but better than you'd expect from thirty years ago!)

Yes, this is the preview, or teaser, poster - but I actually like it better than the release poster - plus, this was what the cover to the novelization looked like - and it was truly eyecatching.

Until next post-er, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: K is for Kiss Me Deadly!


Although there have been other Mike Hammers in the movies and on TV - I think Ralph Meeker might have been the best of them all. He's tough, mean, and nasty - just like Mickey Spillane wrote him.

This is a terrific 50's film noir with Hammer drawn into the case when a female hitchhiker he picks up gets dead - and it's a particularly gruesome death too. (And look! It's a young Cloris Leachman!)  After that Hammer's on the job - fist fighting, gun fighting, throwing people down stairs, the works.

The McGuffin everyone is after is mysterious - and very lethal. The movie comes down to one of the craziest climaxes ever put to film - and that's saying something!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Friday, April 11, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: J is for Johnny Dangerously!


After his successes in Night Shift and Mr. Mom, Michael Keaton made this comedy spoofing the gangster flicks of the 30's and 40's. Despite a credible cast, the movie's wild humor didn't really catch on in theaters, though it seemed to work better on cable TV where it played constantly in the mid-80's.

If you like those old movies though - you'll find a lot to laugh at here.

Until next post - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: I is for I Wanna Hold Your Hand!


The same guys who later made Back to the Future - got started with this wonderfully nostalgic look back at the Beatlemania craze that struck this nation when the Fab Four came to visit. It's great fun and has a wonderful cast, including those listed on the poster, and Eddie Deezen - pictured between the two girls. Recommended.

Until tomorrow - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: H is for Hard Ticket to Hawaii!


Andy Sidaris was a sports producer and director for ABC in the 60's and 70's. But he really wanted to make movies. Keeping this short - he eventually started making movies with his wife Arlene. He wrote and directed; she produced.

They had a incredible formula - action movies mainly shot in their beloved Hawaii. Lots of good looking people in the cast - male and female. Nudity and softcore sex scenes - but much less sleazy than you'd think - almost wholesome (!). Very light profanity. No direct violence against women. Lots of gunfights, fist fights, explosions, and stunts. Tongue in cheek scripts. Andy and Arlene made twelve of these movies in the 80's and 90's. This is one of my favorites, the second in the Golden Twelve.

I find Andy and Arlene Sidaris to be fascinating. I wrote a long post about them and their movies a while back - if you want to read more about them here is a link:

Until next post - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: G is for Going in Style!


By the late 1970's George Burns was back in the spotlight for another phase of a career that reached back to the early Talkie pictures of the 1930's. He'd gotten going again with The Sunshine Boys in 1975, but really took off with the release of Oh God! in 1978. With his revived box office clout - this movie got the greenlight for 1979.

Teaming George with Art Carney and Lee Strasberg - this is a cool little comedy/drama about three old guys who decide to alleviate their boredom by robbing a bank. It's funny, exciting, and at times touching, and I'd love to see it again. I recommend it to you too.

Until tomorrow, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, April 7, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: F is for Fade to Black!


This movie jumped onto the horror bandwagon that had resulted with the incredible success of  John Carpenter's Halloween in 1978. I first saw it when it premiered on Showtime some months later.

I instantly felt a kinship to the lead character, Eric Binford - played by Dennis Christopher. He's a lonely film buff whose life unravels. Eventually he snaps and starts bumping people off while dressed as movie characters. (The kinship ends at the murders, by the way)

It's not a perfect movie by any means - Tim Thomerson's cop character seems to be in another movie entirely for the most part - but I still kind of love this movie - and definitely recommend it for movie buffs and horror fans. If nothing else - you can see Mickey Rourke in a very early role - as one of Eric Binford's doomed tormentors.

Until next post - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: E is for Equinox!


Here's a cool production story - a bunch of talented college students make a short film about the occult - little knowing that a future special effects Oscar winner (Dennis Muren) is among their crew. The short film turns out well enough that when longtime producer Jack H. Harris sees it at a screening - he makes the kids an offer - he'll put up the money if they'll get back together and shoot enough new footage to stretch the short to a feature - which he'll then release.

They agreed and the feature film version turned out as a pretty cool little monster movie. Because the second round of shooting occurred years later hairstyles don't always match, and the actors do visibly change age throughout - and that's part of this movie's charm. Recommended. And if you do watch - yes, that is Frank Bonner from WKRP in Cincinatti - acting under his real name here - Frank Boers, Jr.

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Friday, April 4, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: D is for Day of the Triffids!


It's a terrific British sci fi horror movie - and it even gets mentioned in the opening song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show - "Science Fiction Double Feature."

A beautiful meteor shower comes down all over the planet - and nearly everyone watches the light show. They are the first victims as they all go blind from the radiation. Then, when ambulatory carnivorous plants grow from the meteor fragments - Earth finds itself in dire straits.

I read about the movie in some monster movie magazine long before I saw it - and when I finally did see it I thought it was marvelous.

Until the next post - roughly the same time tomorrow - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: C is for The Crater Lake Monster!


Here's a case where the poster far outstrips the movie it is advertising. The Crater Lake Monster is a throwback to the creature features of the 1950's, right down to the awesome stop motion animation used to bring the monster to life. But the film is beyond slight - and represents the only filmic output of nearly everyone involved - except for visual effects guru Dave Allen - who had a fine career in movies and television before his untimely death a few years ago.

So, the movie is not that great - although a nostalgic fave of mine - but I don't think anyone would say that isn't a terrific and gorgeous piece of cinematic advertising up there.

Until tomorrow's post, which I hope will rock "D" world for you - you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: B is for Battle Beyond the Stars!

It's the second post in a month long alphabetical look at some cool movie posters - here we go!


When Roger Corman decided to cash in on the Star Wars craze he decided to make a science fiction version of The Magnificent Seven - itself a Western retelling of Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai - and he lined up some solid talents both in front of the camera and behind it.

While credited director Jimmy Murakami may have been a little over his head and might have been assisted along the way by others - the script by John Sayles is solid B movie fun - and the cast plays the whole thing with tongue firmly in cheek. And yes, it's the same John Sayles who wrote the movie in yesterday's "A" post - what can I say - the guy was good. Sadly, we lost him to indie drama - he doesn't do genre flicks any more. In any case, I promise we'll look at some movies he didn't write this month too.

And, uh, Sybil Danning. OMG.

Our next post is tomorrow, I hope you'll "C" your way clear to come back by - until then, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: A is for Alligator!

Welcome to my fourth go-round for the A-Z Blogging Challenge! After the first two Challenges - where I sometimes wrote posts with word counts that rivalled Dostoevsky and Stephen King - combined - I took it down a notch for the 2013's third blogfest with much shorter posts.

I'm going to bring it down again. This year, it's going to be 26 movie posters. I feature a lot of movie posters in this blog. Monday's regular department is Maniacal Movie Poster Monday - with three randomly chosen movie posters on display; and Saturday Night at the Movies is the other regular department where I feature a movie poster and trailer from my own video collection. So that's four posters a week right there.

So yeah, I do love movie posters. For this A-Z Challenge we'll run right down the alphabet - with the hopes of putting the spotlight on 26 smaller movies - flicks that didn't necessarily have huge budgets or massive advertising campaigns - but which are well worth a look anyway.

First up - I'm very happy to announce that

A is for Alligator!



Long before there was a Syuh Fyuh channel (I pronounce it when I write it) or their never ending stream of nature runs amok movies featuring goofy combo creatures and mostly bad CGI - here was a prime example of the genre that I prefer to call "Chew 'Em Up and Spit 'Em Out" movies - with a variety of practical effects pulling off a pretty cool alligator.

The little critter was brought home from Florida and subsequently flushed into the sewers of Chicago.
It started eating the remains of genetic experiments dumped illegally - and now Chicago faces a 36 foot long monster. Cop Robert Forster teams with biologist Robin Riker to try to save the city.

Add in a killer supporting cast - a knowing script by John Sayles (Return of the Secaucus Seven) with just the right amount of tongue in cheek - and tight direction from Lewis Teague (Cujo) and you have the recipe for a fine B picture - highly recommended.

Thanks to all the host blogs and associates - you guys rock!

Hope you'll "B" back tomorrow for the next post - until then, you Can Poke Me With An Alligator, Cause I Am Outta Here!