Archive for category Hoopla

Crying, talking, sleeping, walking…

…chasing, drilling, slashing, killing…

Aww, dolls. How sweet. Little miniature humans that can be played with and posed…dresses and undressed…dismantled and reassembled…twisted and tortured… Anything, in fact, that a child’s imagination can concoct.

But what happens when our playthings get tired of being pushed around? When they decide to find out what we look like with our heads turned around—or how far our arms can bend back—or what we’re stuffed with?

Join us this month as we follow the adventures of some dolls who give a whole new meaning to the term “action figure”. It might start out as just fun and games…

…but trust us, it’ll end in tears.


It’s HELLO, DOLLY – all through November at the B-Masters’ blog!


Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

How low can you go?

Year by year, movie budgets continue to escalate; year by year too, the names of certain producers and directors become synonymous with bloated, over-budget productions. Sometimes it seems as if it’s more about how much you can spend, rather than the quality of what you spend it on.

But what about those film-makers at the other end of the financial spectrum? – those people slaving away in the realm of the micro-budget, for whom overcoming artistic and technical limitations is part of the challenge, and who succeed in making an entire film for around 0.01% of the budget of the most expensive movie ever made*?

Join us as we take a look at some of the films that prove you don’t need to spend obscene amounts of money^ to make a good movie…

…or in certain cases, to make a right stinker…



It’s A FISTFUL OF PENNIES—all throughout August at the B-Masters’ blog!


*Currently considered the most expensive movie ever made: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($378.5 million)
^Upper limit for this Roundtable: $50,000


Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

Walking with Dino, what we saw…

As a teenager, Agostino “Dino” De Laurentiis enrolled in Rome’s Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, gaining experience behind the camera as a grip and an assistant director, and in front of it as an extra and in bit parts. By the age of twenty he had produced his first film, but the coming of WWII put his career on hold. When it resumed, De Laurentiis became an international name as the main producer behind the celebrated Italian neorealist movement, with both La Strada and Nights Of Cabiria winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. However, it was, perhaps, the 1956 version of War And Peace that most pointed the way forward, with its American cast and director drafted into a European film, in a production that was in all conceivable ways BIG.

At the beginning of the 1960s, De Laurentiis built his own production facilities outside Rome, from whence issued everything from biblical epics to pop-art spectacles, and from spaghetti westerns to Shakespeare. In the early 1970s, he relocated to the US, and initiated that phase of his career for which he is, perhaps unfairly, best-known—and most notorious—with a series of productions whose ambitions were matched only by their wrongheadedness. Meanwhile, the “DEG” logo of his production company, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, began (like its contemporary, Cannon) to convey a certain message to genre fans, appearing on Amityville sequels, Halloween sequels and Stephen King adaptations seemingly without number; while the producer balanced out his Academy Awards when Body Of Evidence took home the Razzie for Worst Picture in 1993.

But it is hard to argue with 2000’s choice of Dino De Laurentiis as the recipient of the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award—if only for the sheer scale of his contribution to the motion picture industry: at the time of his death in 2010, he had been involved in over 600 films.

So join us this month as we consider just a few of them:


It’s FROM THE BIBLE TO BARBARELLA—all through May at the B-Masters Blog!


Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

Home is where the hurt is

There are certain places in the world where the rules just don’t apply—where tragedies have occurred, and will occur again—where the dead refuse to stay buried—and where the living venture at their peril.

Such a place can be in the city, or in the country; on land, or at sea; in the middle of a crowd, or the middle of the woods. It might be a town—or a house—or a single room. It might look terrifying—or worse, it might look like home…

Welcome to The Bad Place…

badplace3All throughout February at the B-Masters’ blog.


Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

Testing, testing

As I indicated in the New Year’s post, this year my plan is to roll my website over from a software-based set-up to a blog…and I think we’re open for beta-testing, if possibly not quite business.

A major aim for this project is simplicity, so you won’t find any bells or whistles (not that you ever did). In this respect I also want to keep the layout pretty clean and straightforward, so while there will inevitably be tweaking, I want things more or less as they currently are. On the other hand I am more than willing to listen to suggestions on fonts etc., or anything for better readability.

I have started simply by shifting Alligator over to the blog as a test case: I would appreciate it very much if people could drop in, take a look, let me know how things appear on your systems, and draw my attention to any mistakes or glitches.

Welcome to the third iteration of And You Call Yourself A Scientist!


Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

There’s that unfounded sense of optimism again


While I hate to contradict T. S. Eliot, there’s no doubt in my mind that January is the cruellest month—always raising our spirits and our hopes, before dashing them down into cold reality.

Still…I suppose we should enjoy that inner glow while we can. In that spirit, on behalf of the B-Masters I would like to thank all our visitors for their support throughout 2015. I’m not going to be so foolish as to make promises, but—we’re trying, people: we really are!



2015 was a particularly difficult year for several of us. Personally, it has climaxed in a brutal nexus of computer, work and health issues. With respect to the latter two, I am planning on resigning from my job at the end of February, so that I can concentrate on getting my health back in order. And while this isn’t the main goal, this should also mean sufficient time to fix a variety of exasperating technical problems. Among other things, I’m planning on rolling the website over into a blog; and while I hope (hope: there’s that word again!) to keep updating, and will definitely be participating in Roundtables, I am anticipating that most of this year will be devoted to transferring and reformatting existing reviews. When the new digs are up and running, I will post a note here.


Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

Beware the cold nose of DEATH!!

Oh, Homo sapiens…just how stupid can you be?

Strange how tunnel-visioned people can be sometimes. No-one has any difficulty interpreting the horse-head scene in The Godfather; yet when their cat leaves a mouse’s head on the mat, they insist on calling it “a gift”. They hear all about missing persons cases, but never stop to wonder why their dog keeps digging holes in the garden.

You keep your friends close, they say, and your enemies even closer: a statement that has somehow come to encompass inviting those enemies into your house, running from shop to shop to find “their favourite”, sharing your bed with them, and going walkies in all weathers; all the while gushing about “unconditional love”.

Well, enough! This month, the B-Masters are making it their mission to expose these cuddly infiltrators – these adorable assassins – these killers in our midst who think they can get away with murder just because of their big eyes and their cold nose and their little whiskers and—and—aww, who’s a little sweetie? you’re a little sweetie, aren’t you? oh yes you are, you are! what, you want me to stand at the top of the staircase? okay, but I don’t see what y…………


It’s PETS GONE WILD – all through November at the B-Masters blog!


Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

A life well lived

When planning our Roundtables, we try to mix things up and not have two similar types or topics too close together. Ordinarily, then, we wouldn’t have Roundtables focused on an individual back-to-back. However, when the news broke in June of this year of the passing of Christopher Lee, there was immediate agreement that the next Roundtable should be a tribute.

Descended from the Emperor Charlemagne, and a veteran of WWII, Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee, CBE, CStJ was a linguist, an opera singer, a heavy metal rocker, a folk singer, and a voice artist. His acting career lasted sixty-eight years, from a bit part in 1947’s Corridor Of Mirrors and an appearance as a literal spear-carrier in Olivier’s production of Hamlet, to a most appropriate final role, playing “the boss of the universe”, in the not-yet-released Angels In Notting Hill.

In between there were, of course, some ups and downs…

Chris Lee himself may have had something of a love-hate relationship with his genre films, but there’s no disputing the man’s legacy. He was Dracula…and Frankenstein’s Creature, and the Mummy. He was Rasputin. He was the Duc de Richleau. He was Scaramanga. He was Lord Summerisle. He was Sherlock Holmes and Mycroft Holmes. He was Saruman. And yes…he was mod Dracula…and Jess Franco’s Fu Manchu…and he had the silliest character name in all the George Lucas universe…and he wore those damn sunglasses…

It was, in other words, a full, rich tapestry. Please join us throughout August as we celebrate it in all its diversity.




Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

Mick Fanning: Australia’s answer to Franco Nero

When our very own Keith Allison reviewed Enzo Castellari’s Shark Hunter, he offered the following summation of the film’s opening sequence:

We meet the titular shark hunter, Franco Nero, looking like he just stumbled out of the jungle and fell into a puddle of crazed hippie biker, while perched on a rock overlooking the ocean. Suddenly a shark catches his eye, causing him to leap up, run down the beach while accompanied by the sounds of Guido and Maurizio DeAngelis prog rock, and struggle to haul the thrashing beast to shore. He then retires to his open air beach bungalow to make love to his beautiful Mexican senorita, then goes to a bar where he beats the crap out of half a dozen thugs. Happy that Franco has whooped ass on the goon squad, a local takes him out for a bit of parasailing. I know, I know. You’re thinking to yourself that while hauling in a fishing line hooked to a man-eating shark is tough, and making love on the beach to a sexy gal is tough, and beating up half a dozen hired bruisers is tough, there’s not much that’s tough about parasailing. That’s what sunburned fat Americans do when they visit resorts, right? What’s so tough about that? Well, nothing. But while Franco does admittedly get a kick out of the parasailing, what makes this tough parasailing is that, while in mid-air, he spies a shark in the water below, let’s out a primal whoop of excitement, cuts himself loose from the parachute harness, plunges into the water, and immediately starts punching the shark in the face…

…a description that provoked some of our more cynical blog-visitors into accusing Keith of making that up.

Well, you know that old line about truth and fiction; and so it turns out that Franco Nero isn’t the only person out there who likes punching sharks…




But while about half of the inevitable meme-response to the incident was devoted to portraying Mick Fanning as an EXTREEEEME action hero, it turned out that, much to my delight, the other half was busy portraying the shark as a victim of a (more or less) unprovoked assault:




And while the urge to argue with any and all comers over the fact that this was NOT (i) a shark attack, or (ii) a giant shark, is almost overwhelming, at the end of the day I accept that what I really need to do is put all of my energies into being very, very, very, very, very, very, very thankful that we didn’t get—a different kind of encounter—being broadcast all around the world on live television…and not just for the shark’s sake. (I haven’t forgotten Mick Fanning, honest!)




Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

A Descent into Madness

coverAs has become par for the course, I am running behind on the John Carradine roundtable. For that matter, I’ve written very few film reviews at all lately. In a rare turn of events, it’s not just because I am being lazy. I am, surprise, writing a book. Titled AT THE MATINEE OF MADNESS and originally meant to be a compilation of popular Teleport City articles, it has since become substantially more, containing maybe 60% new material, 40% revised and reorganized Teleport City material.

I am hoping the damn thing will be done by the first week of July (I also hoped it would be done by the end of February, so…). As a thanks to those who follow the exploits of TC through the B-Masters Cabal, and for my fellow B-Masters themselves, I do have a little gift to tide folks over until the finished beast rolls off the presses (or gets uploaded in ebook form). The links below are for an ebook preview of the first chapter (which is about Louis Feuillade, Fantomas, and Les Vampires) in epub and mobi format. This is an unproofed next-to-final draft, so you might run across some mistakes and formatting foibles. The finished product might not be exactly the same. But it gets us in the ballpark.

Thanks to everyone. TC would not have stumbled to this point if it wasn’t for the support of folks willing to indulge my meandering reflections.

NOTE: You may get a prompt to join dropbox if you don’t already have an account. You can just click off of that alert and download the file without an account.

Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.