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Having A Movie Moment with Jon Longhi: The Reptile with a Side of Quatermass

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, October 4, 2019 07:43pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi.

Welcome to this month’s Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi where I review recent Blu-ray releases. If you're a Hammer movie fan Shout Factory really opened the floodgates for you in August when they released some of the best films the studio ever produced including one that is arguably their very best.

The Reptile, Shout Factory:
This has always been one of my very favorite Hammer films. The studio was mainly known for redoing all the classic Universal monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and the Mummy in their own unique and luridly colorful British style. What sets The Reptile apart is that it is their own original creation. There are mild elements of the werewolf in the film but the script goes to new and unexpected places. The movie is kind of a slow burn but when the monster does finally reveal itself it is as good as anything Jack Pierce created. This was a later Hammer film so everybody who worked on this was at the top of their game when it was made. It's just a good story that is well told. Everything on the movie works flawlessly, the cinematography, directing, script, music, acting, so that when all these elements are put together they make a perfect whole. On many levels, this film is the essential embodiment of Hammer and their style.

It starts with a murder like many of the best Hammer movies do. After Charles Spalding is killed in this opening scene his brother Harry and his new bride, Valerie, inherit his cottage and move to the rural town of Clagmoor Heath in Cornwall. They find the town living in terror due to a rash of recent deaths caused by a mysterious and unexplained ailment the locals refer to as the "Black Death." The corpses left behind by this ailment are all foaming at the mouth with blackened and swollen faces. At first the locals shun the couple, but Harry eventually befriends Tom Bailey who owns the local pub and offers to help Harry solve the mystery of the recent deaths. Tom and Harry have only seen similar symptoms in people bitten by king cobras in India. Their investigation leads them to the nearby home of the sinister Doctor Franklyn who recently moved to the area with his daughter Anna. Franklyn is a professor of theology who has traveled the world studying mysterious and hidden cults and religious groups. To describe Doctor Franklyn's relationship with his daughter as "dysfunctional" is putting it lightly. Every scene with these two is profoundly disturbing on a number of psychological levels. You know something weird is going on with these people you just don't know what it is. John Gilling does an excellent job directing and he keeps you guessing at the true nature of what is going on right up until the final act. The ending really delivers and the movie is as good as any of the classic monster films Universal made.

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Sorceress Sabbath, Witchcraft Film Festival in SF, 10/19

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, September 27, 2019 07:49pm | Post a Comment

The Super Shangri-La Show (creators of the fringe film events Bigfoot Bonanza and The Space Visitors Film Festival) bring back Sorceress Sabbath, Witchcraft Film Festival -- a full day of witchcraft-themed films at San Francisco's historic and haunted Balboa Theater -- on Saturday, October 19th! See seven films dealing in the dark arts, as well as special guest speaker Maja D'Aoust! Maja is an author, artist, practicing witch, and founder of the educational non-profit The Well Wishers, which focuses on teaching wellness and esoteric sciences to the community.

Here's the bewitching schedule for the day:
11:00am - Burn, Witch, Burn (1962)
1pm - The Witches (1966)
3pm - Daughters of Satan (1972)
4:45pm - Night of the Demon (1957)
6:30pm - Guest Speaker Maja D’Aoust
7:30pm - Simon, King of the Witches (1971)
9:30pm - The Love Witch (2016)
10:15pm - The Devil’s Rain (1975)

Get your tickets to this unique day of magick and cinema HERE before they vanish!
 

 

Having A Movie Moment with Jon Longhi: Mothra & Space 1999

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, August 31, 2019 05:50pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi.

Welcome to this month's Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi where I review recent Blu-ray releases. This month we travel from the island of Japan to the depths of the universe.

Mothra, Mill Creek:
When a new hundred million dollar Godzilla reboot to hit the theaters I just assumed we'd be treated to aMothra flood of classic kaiju reissues on Blu-ray, but instead it looks like we only got this. And I'm not knocking this release. Mothra is a great movie and Mill Creek did a fantastic job on this, I just figured there would be more classic Japanese monster movie releases to coattail on the marketing for the new film. All is not lost though. It looks like Mill Creek has signed a deal with Toho and they have more releases to come. On October 15th they will release two classic kaiju Blu-ray sets: Ultraman and Ultra Q. Both of these sets are motherloads of Japanese monster movie goodness and will be the first time North America has ever seen Toho's official remastered hi-def prints of these shows. If they look as good as this new Mothra release, we are in for quite a treat.

This reasonably priced steel book edition of the film comes with both the US and original Japanese versions of the movie as well as some nice extras. This is easily the best print of Mothra that has ever been released and, while it is not flawless, the majority of the film looks gorgeous. Certain scenes like the one in the cave when Mothra's egg hatches have been cleaned up to the point where they reveal all kinds of details you could never see before. The cave is filled with mutated plants and animals that were little more than blurry shapes in the old editions. Sometimes the remastering is so good it leads to unintended effects. Now you can see better than ever before that all the special effects in the film were made with models and puppets, but the models and puppets are totally cool and amazing. Toho created many of their special effects by stacking up multiple layers of film and the new remaster sometimes exposes every scratch and piece of dust on each of these layers of film. But these are pretty minor quibbles. The bottom line is that Mothra has never looked or sounded better.

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Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi: Jonny Quest & Aliens on Spring Break

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, July 30, 2019 01:02pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi

Welcome to this month's Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi where I review recent Blu-ray releases.

Jonny Quest, The Complete Original Series, Warner Archive:
In my opinion this is the best Saturday morning cartoon ever made and the greatest achievement of Johnny QuestHanna-Barbera Productions. I can already hear the angry cries of the naysayers: "But The Flintstones! The Jetsons!" I'm not belittling either of those shows, they are iconic entries in the history of cartoons and basically set the standard for funny cartoons. But Jonny Quest has levels of sophistication that neither of them has and was literally developed to be better than those two shows. Hanna-Barbera created Jonny Quest to deal with their own success. In the early to mid-1960s, The Flintstones and The Jetsons ruled the Saturday morning airwaves to the point where within a year or two every other competing cartoon show was drawn to look as near as possible to them. Hanna-Barbera basically flooded their own market and needed to come up with something stunningly new and different to stand out from the flooded marketplace that they themselves had created. So they turned away from the omnipresent humor shows and made an action/adventure series instead.

To spearhead this effort, they brought in the incredibly multi-talented Doug Wildey, an illustrator who had long worked in the comic book industry. Wildey truly understood the action/adventure genre and brought with him a bunch of his gifted comic artist friends to work on the Jonny Quest project. The end result is arguably the best action/adventure kid show ever made. Jonny Quest just fires on all levels: the artwork, the stories, the theme music, the voice actors, the designs...this show had it all and set the standard by which future cartoons would be measured by. The series told the story of a boy named Jonny Quest who had adventures with his government research scientist father, Doctor Benton Quest. Race Bannon was a secret agent assigned to be their bodyguard but ended up basically being a family member. In the course of their travels they adopt an orphaned Indian boy named Hadji. This was a real boys' club show; there was no mother or any women in the central cast, which has often caused me to comment that Jonny Quest was the first show about gay parenting.

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Having A Movie Moment with Jon Longhi: Kung Fu Vampires & Medieval Christians

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, June 18, 2019 01:25pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi

Welcome to this month’s Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi where I review recent Blu-ray releases. This month I review a crazy cult vampire kung fu zombie movie and a cinematic masterpiece about a Christian painter in the Middle Ages.

The Legend Of The Seven Golden Vampires, Shout Factory/Scream Factory:
This was the only time that the mighty Hammer Studios teamed up with the Shaw Brothers, but they should have made a habit of it. This delirious kung fu vampire zombie film is one of the most entertaining movies either studio produced. It kind of combines what both studios did best. On the Hammer side, you have actors like Peter Cushing playing distinguished aristocrats and the studio's beautiful gothic neon technicolor cinematography. On the Shaw Brothers side of things, you have hideous monsters, surreal flourishes in the story and images, and some of the best kung fu fighting you'll ever see. When you mix them together it's like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of pure horror movie fun. The film starts with a Chinese villain traveling to Transylvania to enlist Count Dracula's help in reincarnating the legendary seven golden vampires in his homeland. Dracula instead steals his identity and travels himself to China to become the new ruler of these vampires of the far east. Meanwhile, Doctor Van Helsing (played by Peter Cushing) is giving a lecture tour in China, trying to warn the country's scientists of the vampire scourge. He tells them that he has heard legends of a town terrorized by a group of seven vampires. He's pretty much laughed off the stage by everyone except for one man who knows the doctor is telling the truth. The man's name is Hsi Ching and he's from the town the seven golden vampires have recently returned to. He and his seven brothers enlist the aid of Van Helsing, and, with the help of a traveling dilettante heiress who underwrites the expedition, they all take off to defeat the monsters. What follows is a series of adventures that plays like an Indiana Jones movie infested with vampires and zombies. The film is filled with action scenes that are like a form of kung fu ballet. The vampires have a literal army of zombies and the fight scenes are non-stop.

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