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Having A Movie Moment with Jon Longhi: Two British Classics

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 19, 2019 07:35pm | 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 look at two fantastic British films.

The Horror Of Dracula, Warner Archive:
There have been some nice recent releases of Hammer horror films and this is one of the best of them. The Horror of DraculaThis was the first of many vampire movies that Hammer produced and in many ways it is a template for the horror films that came after it. The Hammer dream crew worked on this: screenplay by Jimmy Sangster, produced by Anthony Hinds, and directed by Terence Fisher. These three men were behind the very best Hammer films. But it's the movie's two central stars, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, who really make this work. Their dynamic was at the core of Hammer's best films and anything that the two of them star in is worth watching.

When this was released in 1958, it was a huge commercial and critical success and, along with 1957's Curse Of Frankenstein, led to Hammer reinventing the classic Universal monsters in lurid modern technicolor. The plot of this sticks pretty close to Bram Stoker's original novel, but where it radically departs from the source material is in its tone. One of the most unsettling things about this movie is Terence Fisher's decision to portray vampirism as a sexualized form of addiction. The victims of Dracula are overcome with a lust where they can't wait for him to come each night and suck their blood, and the portrayals of this behavior are truly disturbing. Christopher Lee's acting is central to this vision; his Dracula can be handsome and charming or an unrelenting sexual predator whose frenzied hunger is almost animalistic. Other than possibly Bela Lugosi, I think that Christopher Lee is the best actor who has ever donned Dracula's cape. Peter Cushing is like the other half of the circle. His vulnerability and humanity are the perfect foil for Lee's undead villain. Watching the two of them playing off each other is pure pleasure. This film works on every level. Even the cinematography is marvelous with every scene soaked in rich gothic colors, which look fantastic in this hi-def remaster. If you have never watched a Hammer horror film, this is a perfect one to start with. It is one of the five best vampire movies ever made.

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Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi: The Horrors! The Horrors!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, November 29, 2018 06:07pm | 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. Both of these Blu-rays came out in the past three months. This month, I review two very different movies that just happen to have the word Horror in their titles.

Horrors of Malformed Men, Arrow Video:
This movie is like going to a Cirque Du Soleil show where all the performers on stage accidentally ate theHorrors of Malformed Men brown acid. I own a huge collection of cult films and along with the films of John Waters, Salvador Dali's Un Chien Andalou, Fellini's Satyricon, and Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain, and this movie pretty much rules the roost of the "HOLY SHIT, WHAT THE FUCK AM I WATCHING?" segment of my collection. The second half of this movie is like a sustained psychedelic assault on the senses. Director Teruo Ishii really pulled out all the stops to make this a one-of-a-kind experience. The movie is an adaptation of the writings of Edogawa Rampo and combines elements of his novels Strange Tale of Panorama Island and The Demon of The Lonely Isle with some of his short stories. The end result is a literal bombardment of strange surreal perversions. There's incest, bestiality, cannibalism, and a number of sexual fetishes that seem unique to Japan. There's a scene where a man sewn into a couch molests women who unsuspectingly sit on it.

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Monster Birds & Turkey à la King Rock n' Roll

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, November 22, 2018 12:40am | Post a Comment

Giant Claw. Happy Thanksgiving.

By Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show

"Come on baby, I need gravy...
Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie, give me gravy tonight!"
~ Lyrics from Dee Dee Sharp's song "Gravy" (sequel to "Mashed Potato Time")

Are you already day-dreaming of gnawing on a turkey leg like a frenzied barbarian warrior like I am? We Giant Clawmay not be eating lobster, deer, ducks, clams, and berries like they did in 1621, but we now have Great Aunt Nora's famous oyster stuffing. If there is one holiday that my growling torso-cave desires yearly, it's the Day of Thanks. Did you get stuck watching the Macy's parade and listening to horrible dentist office digestive jazz at your Mother-in-Law's last year? Well, here are my suggestions to add some spice to the day if you are hosting this year...for he who controls the Spice, controls the Universe!

First, we need some big birds on the boob-tube playing all day long. I'm not talking about Follow that Bird (starring John Candy and Dave Thomas), I'm talking about THE GIANT CLAW! Let it be noted, that the producers of Rodanthe film originally planned to use a stop-motion model created by Ray Harryhausen, but they lacked the moolah at the last minute so they used this amazingly creepy marionette for the bird. Also, if you look closely, a flying saucer can be seen in Grand Central Terminal during the giant bird's attack on New York City, as they used stock footage from Earth vs. the Flying Saucers for this movie. I like to think both alien invasion and giant bird attacks happened at the same time. This 1957 classic should almost be played on repeat, much like Darby O'Gill and the Little People should be on Saint Patrick's Day, however I got a few more choice feathered flicks for you to add for this Super Feast Thursday.

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Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi: Doctor Who Season One & Jack the Giant Killer

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, September 16, 2018 07:16pm | 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. Both of these Blu-rays came out in the past three months.

Doctor Who: Tom Baker - Complete Season One, BBC Video:
These are the episodes that first introduced the Doctor Who franchise to the American public. The series Doctor Who Season Onehad already run for more than a decade in England where the venerable Doctor had long been considered a national icon and a variety of stars had already played the role of the Doctor, but Tom Baker is the face and personality that made him beloved by legions of North American fans. So it makes perfect sense that these would be the first episodes of the long running series to get a deluxe Blu-ray upgrade here in the US. These were originally shot on video so there has been a lot of handwringing online about how good these would look due to the low quality of the original source materials. Many fans have questioned whether it is worth upgrading from DVD to Blu-ray. Well, as soon as I popped in the first disc of this and saw the beautiful sharp picture quality and heard the flawless sound, I realized this was a total no-brainer. This set is a huge improvement over the DVDs and possibly the best restoration I have ever seen of something that was originally shot on video. The image quality is flawless. Once in a blue moon there is a weird lighting artifact that the restoration couldn't cover up, but these are few and far between. Yes, this does reveal many of the shortcomings of the special effects. Now you can see like never before that all the monsters are made of bubble wrap and paper mache, but that is actually half the fun of this set. The production budget for these shows was comparable to what you would see for a local high school play. The special effects crew did the best they could with what they had and there is a funky low-fi style to their effects, which looks charmingly nostalgic in the harsh naked light of this Blu-ray.

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Bigfoot Bonanza in SF, 3/10-3/11

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 25, 2018 05:45pm | Post a Comment

Bigfoot Bonanza

Are you interested in the Unknown (with a capital U, of course)? Have you ever felt like there's more to American Bigfootthis world than meets the third eye? Fancy yourself an amateur cryptozoologist? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to join Amoeba Music at the Super Shangri-La Show's second annual Bigfoot Bonanza festival, happening March 10th & 11th at the Vogue Theater in San Francisco.

Spend two days running wild among Bigfoot-themed cult classics, documentaries, and TV shows, and listening to talks from some of the top specialists in the field, including Loren Coleman, Seth Breedlove of Small Town Monsters, Peter Von Puttkamer (Sasquatch Odyssey: The Hunt for Bigfoot), Daniel Perez of the Bigfoot Times, and Matt Ralston of Cryptozoologist.

A smorgasbord of Bigfoot movies and documentaries such American Bigfoot (2016), Beast of WhiteHall (2016), Man Beast (1956), Horror Express (1972), and (of course) The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), and television episodes of Leonard Nimoy's In Search Of, Ultraman, Jonny Quest, and more will keep you on the furry edge of your seat.

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