Posts Tagged roundtable

The Invisible Man

THE INVISIBLE MAN

When news of the invisible man spreads across town, Yajima hatches a scheme to capitalize on the warning that another invisible man is out there. He dresses his gang up in the iconic Claude Raines style overcoat and face bandages and has them rob banks and race tracks while claiming to be invisible men themselves. The logic of this ruse is, well, there is no logic to it. Being an invisible man has pretty much one and only one advantage when it comes to pulling a bank job, and that’s being invisible. If you bust in fully clothed and clearly visible, merely shouting that you are an invisible man, it sort of undercuts the edge being invisible would give you during a heist. It’s like yelling that you have the strength of Superman while doing curls with a five pound dumbbell.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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The Invisible Man Appears

We’re slipping in one more for NO, THE OTHER ONE just under the wire, but before we get to that one, we have to talk about this one.

INVISIBLE MAN APPEARS

By 1949, the Invisible Man had all but vanished. But 1949 is the year in which Japanese director  Nobuo Adachi made Invisible Man Appears (Tômei ningen arawaru) for Daiei Studios. The heyday of the iconic Universal monsters was over, and the studio was pitting it’s classic creatures against Abbot and Costello (they would meet the Invisible Man in 1951). The last legitimate film in the Invisible Man series had been 1944’s The Invisible Man’s Revenge. This Japanese entry into the sweepstakes might not have been an official part of the series, but it certainly holds its own against Universal’s films, and in fact is a sight better than most of the official Invisible Man sequels.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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When Quatermass Met Robert Lippert

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OK, so we’re a little behind schedule, but I’ll try to make up for it by rambling on about three films, with a special guest appearance by Peter Cushing…

FIGHTING THE UNKNOWN: ROCKETSHIP X-M & QUATERMASS

quatermassThe Quatermass Experiment was broadcast in six half-hour episodes during July and August of 1953. Set in the very near future, It revolves around, well, an experiment being conducted by a scientist named Bernard Quatermass. Played by actor and former Royal Air Force squadron leader Reginald Tate, Professor Quatermass is an odd balancing act between compassionate and amoral in his pursuit of scientific discovery. Or rather, he is more than willing to accept that risks (including death) are involved if one wants to achieve scientific greatness. His current experiment, and the one that will launch the serial’s story, involves the development of a rocket capable of space exploration. As the series begins, Quatermass and his team are in a quandary after their most recent manned space flight vanishes without a trace, only to turn up later when it crashes into a farmer’s field. Rushing to the site, Quatermass is baffled to discover that of the three astronauts launched into orbit, only one is still in the ship. no trace can be found of the other two, no clue to their fate.

 


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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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.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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While I was Busy Cutting Off Faces

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OK, running more than a little bit late for the “Quelle horreur!” round table, but…well…some French excuse. I don’t know. Anyway, I’ve finally pulled my act together and completed my entry.

Eyes Without a Face/Les yeux sans visage

feat“With a few exceptions scattered throughout the past hundred years or so of feature filmmaking, the French never really embraced the horror film. Instead, the French response was cinema fantastique. Certainly it had elements of horror, sometimes more overt than others, but more traditionally recognizable characteristics of horror were mixed into a dreamy mist that also included romance, science fiction, mystery, and melodrama all spun with a disregard for logical narrative structure and progression in favor of a dreamlike (or nightmare) quality. Of the many films that make up the body of cinema fantastique, few have developed an enduring reputation, good and bad, quite like that of Georges Franju’s Les yeux sans visage, aka Eyes without a Face.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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I think I have been here before…

B-MENTIA 15

2014 is not only the Cabal’s 15th Anniversary. It’s also mine, at Braineater.com. To celebrate my own site’s Anniversary, I’ve decided to review one of my favorite Italian horror films. And for my Roundtable entry, my Anniversary-themed flick, I’m going with the Bollywood remake of that same Italian horror film.

Sette Note in NeroFirst up, there’s Lucio Fulci’s 1977 giallo Sette Note in Nero (Seven Notes in Black), also known as The Psychic. Since it’s nominally a mystery, I’ve done two entirely different reviews for this movie: one without spoilers and one with LOTS of spoilers. The first review is ridiculously short, and the second is ridiculously long. You might want to read them both: even though it’s a murder mystery, Sette Note is not the sort of film that loses its interest when you know what’s going to happen in the end.

Sette Note in NeroIn any case, I recommend you read at least one of them before proceeding to my Roundtable entry: 100 Days (1991), the Indian version of Fulci’s film.

I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in: Bollywood Fulci… with singing and dancing. But don’t get any ideas about a Ziegfeld Zombie or Busby Berkeley’s Beyond. 100 Days is a surprisingly entertaining thriller, in which an anniversary brings with it a cruel twist of fate. Given a choice between the two films, I much prefer original; but then, I am not the target audience for 100 Days. All things considered, this total re-interpretation of Sette Note in Nero is a great example of how to make an authentic local version of a movie without simply going through the motions.

(That said, though, you’ll certainly see things in 100 Days you’d never expect to see in a giallo…)

100 Days

Will Laughlin is the Braineater.

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Deadly Art of Survival

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Teleport City’s roundtable contribution is in effect:

das6DEADLY ART OF SURVIVAL

Amid the ruin and confusion of 1970s New York, a group of (primarily white) young artists, freaks, punks, and weirdos decided they were going to become movie makers, the cinematic branch of No Wave, new wave’s slightly stranger, more chaotic sibling. At the same time, uptown and in The Bronx, a group of (primarily black and Hispanic) young artists, freaks, dancers, and weirdos were pioneering a creative lifestyle that would become known as Hip Hop. The two scenes intersected frequently, and when no wave film maker Charlie Ahearn was stopped by a group of black kungfu students who wanted to know what he was doing with a movie camera, DEADLY ART OF SURVIVAL was born. It’s more interesting as a historic piece than an actual film, a fascinating (to me) cocktail of punk, New York, black culture, martial arts and the role kungfu films played in black urban life, and a celebration of a dude who was being paid in pizza but was still willing to get kungfu kicked into the 1978 East River.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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From Bad-Ass to Just Plain Bad

By the dawn of the 1970’s, the major Hollywood studios found themselves facing near-bankruptcy, both financially and creatively. The old system just wasn’t keeping pace with the times: more and more people turned to television rather than the movies, since they no longer seemed to see themselves or their concerns represented on the Silver Screen.

Of course, Black America had never really seen its interests represented in mainstream movies — if the Black experience did show up on screen, it was almost always filtered through the eyes of, say, Gregory Peck or Spencer Tracy. That’s why it came as a shock to Hollywood when they realized the biggest profits of the early 70’s were going to movies made for that vast, under-appreciated Black audience… movies like Ossie Davis’s Cotton Comes to Harlem or Melvin van Peebles’s Sweet Sweetback’s BaadAsssss Song. Suddenly it seemed like a good idea to give Black viewers what they wanted.

The movies that followed made stars of Black actors… brought attention to Black issues… gained a foothold in the industry for talented Black artists of many kinds… and paved the way for the serious Black Cinema that arose a decade later. But the producers, directors and/or writers of these movies were still — more often than not — white guys. This fact, plus the movies’ emphasis on violence, sex, drugs and crime, prompted civil rights leaders to coin a new word to condemn the Soul Cinema of the 70’s: BLAXPLOITATION! A term that’s been extended to almost all the Black-themed movies of the era.

Some of these Blaxploitation movies were genuinely respectful of Black American culture. Others at least had their hearts (and fists, and other body parts) in the right place. And some, in spite of their Black casts, were pure jive-ass honky bulls#!%. Yet taken all together, in their strengths and weaknesses, they represent some of the most vivid and memorable movies ever made. So join the B-Masters through the month of May, as they celebrate Blaxploitation movies from every part of the bell curve. It’s…

Bad, Black and Beautiful! The B-Masters' BaadAsssss Roundtable
Will Laughlin is the Braineater.

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