Posts Tagged Christopher Lee

Name Your Poison

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First, the review: THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN INVINCIBLE

Second, this:

17Teleport City’s relationship with Sir Christopher Lee, about which he never knew a thing, goes back almost to the very founding of this site. Where would have been in those early days without Dracula or Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf, which though they have since been rewritten and re-dated, represent some of the earliest reviews posted to this site. We have, on occasion, made light of the career and attitude (particularly toward Hammer and Dracula) of venerated horror film icon Sir Christopher Lee, but never with malice. I hope, at least, that came across. Lee was and forever will remain one of the giants of cinema, a man whose dedication to his chosen profession I much admire and whose life is one the likes of which I could only imagine in my wildest dreams. A commando; a key field agent in the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare; a man who stood atop a high tower in the Vatican as the Nazis and Fascists were chased from Rome; a man of great culture and passion and, despite the way he might have at times across, humor.

Lee’s biggest anxiety in life seemed to be that he would only be remembered as Dracula. And when it came time to write his obituary, just about every newspaper, magazine, and website ran with a “Dracula has died” style headline, though many also mentioned his role as a wizard and whatever he was in that Star Wars movie I can’t remember anything about. Ah well, it seems in the end he made peace with Dracula, if not with Hammer, and there are worse things to be remembered for than inhabiting an iconic role, however frustrating it might have been in life when applying for other jobs. We’re not here to talk about Dracula, though, because we’ve already written about all of his Hammer Dracula films and are not yet prepared to write about his role in Jess Franco’s Dracula.

One of the things I most admired about Sir Christopher was his willingness to accept any role and then to deliver nothing less than a competent performance. In other words, his willingness to be a working actor, and to handle even the least of his movies with the same dedication he brought to the best. This resulted in a vast and varied filmography. While not all the movies were of a quality befitting what Lee brought to them, in looking back it’s much more fun I think to have hundreds of really strange roles. And so it is some of his more varied roles we gather here to celebrate, for this is surely a celebration. When a man lives into his nineties, there is in my opinion little reason to mourn and many, many reasons to celebrate. If from time to time we poked him in the ribs regarding his cranky comments about Dracula or his inability to avoid mentioning he was related to Charlemagne, it was done out of the deepest fondness for a man whose accomplishments I could never hope to match and will always admire. He may be gone now, but we, all of us, still walk in his shadow.

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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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Little Devils and Deadly Dames

Hooray, it’s update time! A couple articles salvaged from the past and spruced up for 2009 or so.

DEADLIER THAN THE MALE
featConsider that Deadlier that the Male opens with legendary Elke Sommer skydiving from a jet seconds before she blows it up, plunging into the water to be picked up by another European beauty, Sylvia Koscina (from the first two Hercules films, among others), in a skimpy bikini. Seconds later, both bikini-clad women emerge from the ocean and find a man lounging on his seaside patio, whom they promptly impale with a shot from a spear gun. Now that is how you get the viewer’s attention.
THE DEVIL RIDES OUT
droutde Richleau spirits Simon away. It’s difficult to say whether or not he rescues or kidnaps the young man, since we’re unsure whether or not Simon was dabbling in the black arts of his own free will or because he was under the spell of local occult bigwig Mocata (Charles Gray, probably most recognizable as the narrator from The Rocky Horror Picture Show). Eventually, the film leans toward “under the spell,” but the whole thing seems very fuzzy, which allows the viewer to interpret the movie either as a straightforward “good versus evil” tale or a more subversive look at the subjugation of free will and intellectual curiosity at the hands of the ruling elite.
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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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The Madness of Wild Boys Howling on the Streets

Got a lot to catch up on, but here’s the latest pile of Teleport City articles.

These three have been salvaged and revised from the murky past:

STREETS OF FIRE
street2“The dialog is stilted and phony, but in a weird way that is totally believable. It’s fifties tough guy slang but with the rapid-fire panache of the eighties, or maybe of a forties film noir. So really, not so much how tough guys talked as it is how we think tough guys talked, playing once again to the concept of American mythology. Hill’s rock ‘n’ roll tough guys stand as tall and symbolic as the cowboys of a John ford western. Every line is a carefully crafted homage to the concept of rock ‘n’ roll rebel. It’s corny in spots, but never unintentionally so — and even though that stilted corniness may be intentional, it’s never ironic or overly wink-wink the way modern films are.”
HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF
featAnd yet, as undeniably bad as it all is, there I am, every time it’s on television. And what makes it worse is that I own the DVD! I own the goddamn DVD and still I watch it whenever it’s on television. Let this be a lesson to anyone who ever takes my advice on anything; if you ever find yourself faced with a difficult decision and ask yourself, “What would Keith from Teleport City do?” then your immediate next thought should be, “Watch Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf.”
THEY WERE 11
theywere11_1There is really only one action scene in the entire movie, and that’s a pie fight. Yet despite the dearth of robots on roller skates shooting cannons at each other, They Were 11 is an engaging, tense, and engrossing piece of science fiction that makes you feel like it’s action-packed even though it isn’t. The basic premise was derived from an old Japanese story about a group of children at a playground who suddenly realize that there is one more child there than there should be. There’s a good chance the extra kid, whichever one he may be, is some sort of monster.
And these two were written for The Cultural Gutter, a site for which I am writing on a monthly basis:
WHERE IS ALL YOU ANGELS
wb14-300x225Mulcahy’s big idea was to make a film version of Wild Boys, which seems rather a challenging project. Disregarding the self-indulgent structure and juvenile crudity of the book, Wild Boys is still a pulp adventure about a collapsing society that gives rise to gangs of violent, feral homosexual boys who spend all their time killing people, screwing each other, and masturbating. Not MPAA-friendly storytelling.
YOU CAN’T MAKE A MASTERPIECE WITHOUT MADNESS
gallery2-500x369Jodorowsky’s vision of the film was vast, an epic on a scale science fiction film had never attempted. A psychedelic mind warp that Jodorowsky himself said he wanted to be like taking LSD without taking LSD. He wanted his film to be nothing short of a cultural uprising, a trumpet for the legions of youth who had risen up against the establishment in the 1960s. He wanted Dune — in story, in philosophy, in daringness, in design — to be a revolution. Pavich’s documentary tells the story of how this movie never actually got made.
And finally, I am writing a book. It’s about booze and James Bond, and this is a sneak peek at the introduction, which poorly explains my concept.
BOND VIVANT: INTRODUCTION
james-bondWhen retired British Naval Intelligence commander Ian Fleming retired to his modest villa, Goldeneye (“Goldeneye, nose and throat” quipped his neighbor, the entertainer Noel Coward, who was unimpressed with Fleming’s abode) in Jamaica to write his first novel, he didn’t expect it to be much more to society at large than a passing trifle. It was an attempt to make good on a desire that boiled up in him during his wartime service, perhaps as a way to try and one-up his popular brother, Peter, who was a well-known much beloved adventurer, war hero, and writer.
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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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A Pile of New Reviews

Our trip through Space: 1999 history continues…

Space: 1999 – The Future is Taupe

This new take on the concept would feature the inhabitants of a moon base being hurtled out into space after a cataclysmic accident on Earth blows the moon out of orbit. Unfortunately, Anderson’s sleight of hand with his idea for UFO 2 didn’t fool ITC president Lew Grade, who remained unconvinced after the mediocre performance of UFO that a new Anderson science fiction series would be any more successful.

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Space: 1999 – A Galaxy of Stars

One of the other things I love about revisiting the show is seeing so many faces that are now familiar but were, in 1979 or 1980 or so, unknown to me. Space: 1999 benefitted it seemed from the collapse of the British film industry in the 1970s. This collapse left a lot of A-list actors scrambling for work, and that means that a show like Space: 1999 was suddenly able to afford to hire some of the most recognizable faces in British cinema.

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And some Swedish Ninjas…

Ninja Mission

In fact, it was his first ninja movie, Misja ninja or Ninja Mission, that gave the previously obscure and largely unknown director of “Swedish westerns” his boost into the sort of high profile superstardom that caused him to be showered with such accolades as “an embarrassment to Sweden,” “Sweden’s Roger Corman,” and “fucking Mats Helge.”

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And the first of John Gardner’s James Bond novels

License Renewed

That said, overall the book is as about as good as Casino Royale and about as flawed, though in different ways. For the most part though, I enjoyed it just enough not to mind the flaws — as was the case with Casino RoyaleLicense Renewed is not the sort of book I would go to war for — if you were bored by it or actively hated it, I would understand — but I thought it was perfectly acceptable. If you, like me, were interested to see where Bond would go after Fleming (and Amis) and now that it was the 1980s, then License Renewed isn’t going to let you down, but it’s not really going to excite you either.

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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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Faux Poe

OBLONG BOX

Hessler and Price are together again (for the first time) for a Poe adaptation that actually has a little something to do with Poe, or at least as much as any AIP Poe film has to do with Poe. Poe’s short story, “The Oblong Box,” has to do with a man who witnesses the obsession of an artist friend on a ship with an oblong shipping crate. So committed is the man, seeming delirious and mad, to this box that when the ship is wrecked during a storm, he sinks to the bottom of the ocean with the box rather than abandon it. Not to spoil the surprise, but it was a coffin containing his dead wife, though no one knew of the contents lest they refuse to travel overseas with a corpse. Hessler’s film does indeed contain a coffin that is referred to as an oblong box.

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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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