Monday, 22 June 2020

(Hollywood) Scream Queen Hot Tub Party (Fred Olen Ray & Jim Wynorski, 1991)

"Had we known what we in for on that fateful day none of us would have accepted the strange invitation, but the letter I received seemed so intriguing.  It read: "My dearest Brinke Stevens, i've thrilled to you in so many frightening motion pictures such as Grandma's House, Teenage Exorcist and Bad Girls from Mars that I had to ask you to join me at my Hollywood home for an all-day seminar on how to make a good horror film.  Signed, Count Byron Orlock."

The late 1980s and early 1990s.  Fred Olen Ray.  Jim Wynorski.  Scream Queens.  The Late Show (the magazine, not the chat show).  If you understand the meaning behind these arcane words and phrases, then we understand one another.  For the uninitiated: tits.

When I was thirteen, I owned a magazine that had a full-page photograph of Brinke Stevens in vampire fangs, a thong and a cape and nothing else, and I almost destroyed my organs of generation before they had fully developed.  There's an admission.  We're all friends here, right?  I know what you're thinking: this isn't the most progressive of reviews that he could be doing in this current time of the #MeToo movement; for a progressive guy with feminist views he can sound objectifying at times... these are true.  But how else does one approach a flick like this?  I could deconstruct it and give it a slaughtering quite easily.  But where's the fun in that?  And in these trying times of trial, fun distractions are important.  Plus, nostalgia for one's early teens can be a powerful thing.

So here we have Scream Queens Hot Tub Party - or, as it was released on video on the UK, Hollywood Scream Queens Hot Tub Party (perhaps they didn't quite trust us to know precisely what a "scream queen" was) - an attempt by arch purveyors of horror smut Olen Ray and Wynorski (operating here under the aliases of 'Bill Carson' and 'Arch Stanton') to beat Roger Corman's Little Shop of Horrors record of making a movie in two days by gathering five top tier scream queens together at Fred's house and shooting some brief titillating linking material for what is essentially a clip show.  A peep show clip show.

Actresses Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer, Monique Gabrielle, Kelli Maroney and Roxanne Kernohan are all mysteriously summoned to the home of one 'Byron Orlock' (a great gag for anyone who gets the reference to Peter Bogdanovitch's Targets) on the pretext of making their own individual presentations on acting in horror movies - something these gals know a lot about.  Finding the manse strangely empty, they decide to stay on nonetheless and use a Ouija board to find out the lowdown on what's going down, which leads to this piece of classic comedy dialogue:

MICHELLE: "Okay, the first thing we do is you put a finger on my diviner."
ROXANNE: "Hey, I don't do lesbian scenes!"
MICHELLE: "No, silly - this is the diviner!  We all put a finger on it."
BRINKE: "And soon we'll be in contact with that dark, festering daemon who roams the netherworld in search of obscene and perverse pleasures!"
ROXANNE: "You want to call my agent?"

Some of it is quite witty and meta, mind, such as when Brinke says that what they're doing is in accordance with page 17 of the script (which she dutifully consults) "and it burns up a minute of screen time".  The ladies then change into their regulation bikinis and enter the houses' hot tub - the ideal place to begin their seminar and present their fateful findings (Neil Breen reference!  Back away!) to each other.

Brinke begins with a masterclass on shower acting, which segues into some quite long sequences of archive footage from her screen debut in 1982's Slumber Party Massacre and Sorority House Massacre II ("Here comes the Hockstetter / Turn it up! / He's a lyrical gangster / Turn it up!"), then treats us to a demonstration of the fine art of how to 'shower act' in a horror film - the trick being to accentuate soaping the breasts and buttocks whilst remaining oblivious to anything going on around oneself, such as a knife-wielding murderer approaching.  After this, Monique Gabrielle presents some clips from Evil Toons and Transylvania Twist before giving us a rendition of the hypnotic dance of the vampiress, which involves a slow striptease in which she peels off a leather corset.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't giving this bit my full attention.

Next, Kelli Maroney shows a classic gun-wielding scene of hers from Night of the Comet and instructs us on the fact that before one can pump a shotgun, one must first pump iron.  This of course means her removing her clothes, oiling up and doing some weightlifting, ending with a wank-baiting wink to the camera and a knowing "Ready to pump boys?".  Then Michelle Bauer shows us her famous scene from Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers - a film I covered here - (a scene which shows much more than the original slashed by the BBFC UK VHS release did) and then demonstrates her skills using a throbbing tool (no, not that kind: this ain't one of her Pia Snow films.  Though I will get round to Nightdreams and Cafe Flesh at some point) and the importance of not wearing clothes for safety purposes when operating heavy machinery.

As the ingenue newcomer to the scene, Roxanne Kernohan has only a great scene of hers from Critters II to offer, but the follow up scene of her being molested by a monster whilst doing her laundry troubles the trousers as well as the mind.

I mean, this is a film that sports credits such as 'Bikini Wrangler: Hans Fhule', 'Lighting: Steven Wonder' and 'Dialogue: Joe D'Amato'.  We can't ask for too much.

The truly sad thing about this film (apart from my nostalgic enjoyment in watching it) is the fact that, after being presented as the New Scream Queen this is the last thing that the lovely Ms Kernohan did, being killed shortly afterwards in a car crash at the tragically young age of 32.  Which is a bittersweet note to end a review of a bit of fluff on.

Like a tearful, sexy wank.  Like Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

The Undying Monster ([a.k.a.: The Hammond Mystery] John Brahm, 1942)

"When stars are bright on a frosty night, beware thy bane on the rocky lane"

If you ever wondered whether 'the Hammond mystery' was "Why didn't Nicholas Hammond do more Spider-Man?" then you're wrong: it's actually the title of a novel by Jessie Douglas Kerruish - a writer that many fans of phantasie may have forgotten but who published many a short story and novel about such diverse topics as the Holy Grail and Arabian Nights-style high adventure before she turned her hand to horror (more specifically, the subject of lycanthropy) with 1922's The Undying Monster: A Tale of the Fifth Dimension.

Coming from Twentieth Century Fox, a studio that never joined in the Universal horror boom unlike Columbia and Paramount (in fact, as Famous Players-Lasky went on to become Paramount, they could be argued to have begun the tradition of the American horror feature film with the 1920 John Barrymore-starring Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) due to head honcho Daryl F. Zanuck's aversion to the genre - wait, does that make this a Fox werewolf?  A werefox?  ZOMG, is there a kitsune is this?  Squeee! - the 1942 film adaptation of Kerruish's novel has much of the lavish production value one might expect.

Released on a double bill with the Harry Lachman-directed Dr Renault's Secret (a J. Carroll Naish-starring remake of the 1927 silent The Wizard, itself an adaptation of the novel Balaoo by Phantom of the Opera scribe Gaston Leroux, concerning a Moreau-style mad scientist using surgery to transform a gorilla into a sentient ape man), the film opens with a great composite matte shot showing us stately Hammond Hall - "one of the oldest houses in England" - standing atop the cliffs over the dark moonlight-dappled ocean. Cutting to the interior, we get an excellently-executed shot as, from a single camera position, we slowly receive information as to the inside of the house via a forty-five second sequence of pans and zooms (windows, a suit of armour, the Hammond family crest above the roaring fireplace, the hand of a supine woman dangling in the firelight over the side of a couch, a sleeping bloodhound curled on the rug) that puts the "one shot" boasts of modern stuff like the CW's Arrow to shame in its artfulness - an opening shot that screenwriter Michael Jacoby would use again for famed Poverty Row director William "One Shot" Beaudine in 1946's The Face of Marble.

Our sleeping heroine is soon revealed to be Helga Hammond (the lovely Heather Angel, whose career spanned from playing  Beryl Stapleton in the 1939 classic Basil Rathbone rendition of The Hound of the Baskervilles to lending her dulcet tones to the eponymous character's older sister in Disney's 1951 Alice in Wonderland, via a number of entries in the ongoing Bulldog Drummond series).  Helga rouses herself and converses with the family butler Walton (the stalwart Halliwell Hobbes, who had played the role of Danvers Carew in the classic Rouben Mamoulian version Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde ["Indecent!  It isn't done!"] and would go on to play other retainers in Universal's Sherlock Holmes Faces Death [one of the better Rathbone/Bruce entries, based on Conan Doyle's 'The Musgrave Ritual'] and The Invisible Man's Revenge), and they both begin to fret that Helga's brother Oliver is outside in the dark on such a night.  Telephoning local medic Dr Jeff Colbert (Yorkshire actor Bramwell Fletcher, who so memorably laughed hysterically as Imhotep went out for his "little walk" in 1932's The Mummy), whom Oliver had been visiting, they find that they've just missed him and that he's making his way home via the coastal path: the "rocky lane" of the baleful family legend.

Dashing out into the night in a carriage to intercept her sibling, Helga braves the terrifying howls that fill the dank air to find not only Oliver (John Howard, Heather Angel's co-star as Sapper's Bulldog Drummond himself in seven pictures about the titular adventurer), wounded and unconscious from some animal's attack, but also his dog - turn asunder and broken by the mysterious beast - and local girl Kate O' Malley similarly slain.  Back at Hammond Hall, the injured Oliver cannot remember what happened, only that he was on the lane at night when he felt all about him some monstrous presence that "came rushing in" before he blacked out.  Scotland Yard sends in the inimitable duo of investigators Robert 'Bob' Curtis (James Ellison, who would go on to play Wesley Rand in 1943's Jacques Tourneur-helmed Val Lewton spooker I Walked with a Zombie) and his eccentric comic relief sidekick Cornelia 'Christie' Christopher (played by real-life eccentric monocle-sporter Heather Thatcher).

As the pair of dogged sleuths - who really could have spun off into their own series of supernatural investigations, with their likeably quirky Holmes/Watson or even monochrome proto-Mulder/Scully relationship - investigate the strange circumstances surrounding the Hammonds and their ancient curse which dates back to their ancestor Sir Reginald Hammond (whose statue stands in the family crypt alongside the effigy of some weird lupine creature), they begin to unravel a hex dating back as far as the Crusades of Richard I and rumours of the Hammonds having sold their souls to Satan.  Aided by Christy's unerring sense of spooky intuition (or "supercalaphegalus", as Curtis calls it in almost Poppinsian style) they discover that - far from being the victim of a physical assault by the monster - Oliver is himself the victim of the Hammond's lycanthropic malediction: his feelings of darkening terror when out at night were in fact the transformation coming over him before he rent asunder his own hound and young Kate O' Malley.  When night falls once again and Oliver's animal instinct takes hold of him once again and leads the werewolf to prey upon his beloved sister in an incestuous fashion, the beast must surely die...

Okay, it isn't Universal's The Wolf Man, but The Undying Monster is a fascinating little piece that's very well directed by John Brahm and thoroughly deserves further inspection from all connoisseurs of the supernatural whether they're wisecracking monocle wearers or not.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson (David Gregory, 2019)

From prolific genre documentary maker David Gregory - the man behind the coverage of real (reel?) life madcap genius in 2014's Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr Moreau: a document of one visionary director's descent into insanity amidst the febrile conflagration of actorly egos that really must be seen and is highly recommended to anyone who has yet to see it - comes this intriguing insight into the career and subsequent murder of exploitation movie icon Al Adamson.

About a year or two ago, during one of my many nights of fitful sleep, I came across one of those American 'true crime' TV shows that air on obscure digital channels in the wee hours of the morning to fill airtime and found myself watching it.  Entitled A Stranger In My Home: Death's Final Cut, it was in the midst of detailing the lonely and gruesome murder of a man by a business associate on a ranch in the middle of the Californian desert.  My attention was gripped however when the name "Al Adamson" was mentioned.  The Dracula versus Frankenstein guy?

Featuring interviews with friends and colleagues of Adamson such as his longtime co-conspirator in Independent-International Pictures Sam Sherman, actors Russ Tamblyn, Robert Dix and the elusive Roger Engel (aka Zandor Vorkov himself!), cinematographers Gary Graver and Vilmos Zigismond and directors Worth Keeter, Greydon Clark and Fred Olen Ray the documentary paints a riveting picture of Adamson's life from his youth growing up in the film business as the son of Poverty Row Western actor Victor Adamson (alias Denver Dixon), a real life cowboy from New Zealand who travelled to the US and parlayed his roping and horse riding skills into an acting and directing career, through his early directorial efforts along with producer Sherman (his first effort Echo of Terror slowly transmuting via a long series of re-edits and reshoots through various mutations such as Psycho-a-Go Go, The Fiend with the Electronic Brain and finally Blood of Ghastly Horror as the years passed and a straight psychological thriller became a mad scientist flick starring John Carradine) and the formation of Independent-International.

We are also privy to Adamson's private life, from his obsession with actress Vicki Volante (which led Ms Volante to ask Greydon Clark to accompany her on set and pretend to be her boyfriend) to his deeply loving marriage to his muse Regina Carrol (the Lina Romay to Adamson's Jess Franco), tragically curtailed by her death from cancer in 1992 at the early age of 49 - leading to Adamson's gradual withdrawal to his desert holding where he would in turn be cut down too soon at hands of employee Fred Fulford in the summer of 1995 - though due to Fulford's concealment of the corpse and continued usage of Adamson's credit cards the crime would not be revealed until more than a month later.

A very good and intriguing release from Severin that i'd recommend to any connoisseurs of exploitation and horror films, or those interested in the life and tragic end of a man who lived to make motion pictures (even if the consensus on his output doesn't exactly put him in the same bracket as Werner Herzog).

Monday, 18 May 2020

Inseminate the Doctor (Veronica Chaos, 2019) [NSFW]

Television's titular Time Lord

Name a sexy ventriloquist.

You can't, can you?  Okay, maybe Nina Conti.  Wait, who said Ray Alan?  Psychopath.

Anyway, it was only recently that the rather fetching cosplaying cam girl Ms Veronica Chaos penetrated my sphere (no, that's not a euphemism - though I should have absolutely zero objection should she express an interest in so doing), and her puppet-based antics have certainly (wood) rocketed her to number one in any such festive fifty of mine.  Okay, she's the only person on that list.  It's a niche list.

When one's main obsessions are i) genre film and television and ii) pornography, the amount of crossover can be quite surprising.  I mean, maybe not the ye olden days, when the best one could hope for would be something along the lines of Jamie Gillis and Annette Haven's antics in Phillip Marshak's rather genius 1978 Dracula Sucks (also known as Lust at First Bite, and I really should get round to watching that again sometime.  Purely for review purposes, obviously, and not at all because Ms Haven and Kay Parker are in it.  Dearie me, no), or John Leslie's (no, not that John Leslie!) 1988 AVN award-winning cash-in on the '82 Paul Schrader remake of Cat People - the rather obviously monikered The Cat Woman, which rather charmingly spawned a 1991 sequel titled Curse of the Cat Woman making Leslie the Val Lewd-ton of porn.  Yes, that pun was awful.  Your groans are indeed accurate.

These days, though, the porn parody of a genre title is a big thing with the once-niche market crowded with everything from Joanna Angel's Burning Angel studio's horror movie take-offs such as 2004's Re-Penetrator or 2012's Ash-tastic Evil Head, to the glut of Axel Braun-helmed naughty superhero bonkbusters, to Dick Bush's Danny D-starring parodies such as Sherlock: A XXX Parody (aka Sherlock Bones), to filth from a galaxy far, far away such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens - A XXX Parody and Star Wars: Underworld - A XXX Parody.  Yeah, i've done a few of these things now.  Only hundreds more to go!

I suppose my own first exposure to such wonderments (aside from Misty Mundae vehicles such as Lord of the G-Strings and Playmate of the Apes that would periodically manifest themselves from the Skinemax universe onto video shop shelves in all their softcore girl-on-girl glory) was probably Doctor Screw.  Produced by The Adult Channel deep in the dim and dark abysm of back-time known as 2006 when Who had made its glorious return on the BBC (hmm... jokes about pr0n... the words "on the BBC"... no, not spotting any opportunities there) and starring canonical Doctor Mark Sloan and his lovely companion Holly. Well, I saw four episodes of it, but I think it was enough to get the gist. Sadly, I never got to see Dr Screw's final confrontation with the Mistress, played by the very sexy Lena Frank aka Franki. I'll have to see if I can track the.. er... climax down some day.

I've also seen The Doctor or The Doctor XXX or whatever it's called. A fine continuation: they even brought back old Sloan for a regeneration scene into new younger Dr Screw Danny D at the start. It's like a mucky version of the 1996 TV Movie with McCoy handing over to McGann. Warms the cockles (sp?), quite touched my heart. Then Georgie Lyall turned up in it and something else got touched.

I've also seen the Wood Rocket Doctor Whore Porn Parody, which is amazeballs. Especially the bit where Rory says to Amy "I'm going to make my Angel weep all over your face". I bet Moffat's watched it.

I own Abducted by the Daleks but I haven't watched it yet. Apparently it's shit. I'll get round to it.  And I never got round to Dr Loo and the Filthy Phaleks, taking the puerile gags to the ne plus ultra with its portaloo (I was defeated, you won the war) TARDIS.  Which was named the TURDIS, as any nine year old would be able to tell you.

So out the three i've seen so far, I rate 'em:

Wood Rocket one

Classic Doctor Screw (just for it's charm)

The Doctor Screw XXX / The TVM.

Anyway, now that we're in the era of Jodie Whittaker and at last have the first incarnation of the Doctor that I would seriously like to interfere with (DILF?) since Paul McGann (look, i'd just turned 17 and the Eighth Doctor bewitched mine eyes and my heart and my crotch.  No, it wasn't just a phase - I still would) it's about damn time that a cosplaying cam girl retired the obvious Harley Quinn stuff for a while and got her Doctor on and me off.  Talk about fanwank.

Opening in a pretty nice CG rendition of the Thirteenth Doctor's infinity-mirrored and crystalline console room  (a TARDIS console room bemoaned by some sections of fandom, but one that I genuinely quite like - i've always wanted a crystal time rotor), proving that Adobe Aftereffects have come a long way since adding lasers to the eyes of the zombie alien in The Dark (that's a Brandon Tenold joke, and if you don't know who that is you should stop reading this immediately and go and subscribe to his Youtube channel, because he's cool.  But then come back and finish reading this: this blog isn't monetised or anything but I get what little validation for continuing to exist from people reading this stuff.  Sad but true), the Doctor is talking to herself about her most recent and risky mission to prevent a third Suicide Squad movie being made when her haven is invaded - by which I mean the TARDIS, we'll get to the other one shortly - by the latest in a long line of Last Daleks.

After some brief confusion on the Skarosian pepper pot's part as to whom it is facing -

"Is it the hair?  Do I need, like, a long scarf or something?"


(In fairness, unlike Costner in Sherwood facing the sheriff of "Notting Ham", Ms Chaos does make an attempt and at least pronounces words like "half" properly)

- the Dalek begins quoting Winston Churchill, having the unfortunate effect of rendering the awful 'Victory of the Daleks' canon to this wonderful universe despite my best efforts to forget it ever happened, before revealing its new protocol to rebuild the Dalek Empire: inseminating the Doctor and making her Time Lord body the mother of the new Dalek race.  After acquiescing with surprising speed, the Doctor lifts up her top and reveals her Gallifreyan goodies in order to allow herself to be scanned whilst indulging in this human thing that they call "foreplay".  It doesn't take much of this to get the man in a tin can sufficiently aroused to perform his duty, opening a hatch in its skirt section to extend a prosthetic wang on a pole and begin rhythmically machine-fucking the good Doc.

Looking extremely fetching getting railed by the red Dalek - and boy was my Dalek red too by this point - and even managing to emit an "Oh, bloody hell!" between moans (which at least makes her Britishness equal with that of Amanda Tapping's Helen Magnus from Sanctuary [has anyone done a porn version of that yet?  She'd totally fuck Bigfoot, I know it]), the Doctor is soon crying out "Inseminate me!" and with a croaking cry of "EJACULATE!" the Davros spawn delivers a Creampie of the Daleks in a nice POV shot that gives us a good look at her ring modulator.  Sitting up with legs akimbo, she then teases her pummelled pudenda until she expels not only a chunk of gunk but four pink plastic eggs of love (not quite the legendary ping pong balls being fired from a Thai lady [and I do wonder whether Boris Johnson would consider the resulting smell of such balls to carry a "whiff whaff whiff"], but amazing all the same) and declares that her new Dalek children will be Daleks of love.  Aww.

Fifteen minutes of fan service fun well spent, methinks.  Ms Chaos has done a couple of other Doctor Who-related videos - including seizing upon the obvious dom overtones of the "Kneel before me and call me Master" scene from 'Spyfall' to do a BJ scene (alas, pay day ain't until next week... So far away...) - as well as other genre filth such as the quite brilliant Twin Peaks video Damn Good Pornography and even a Daria cosplay (Morgendorffer muck FTW!).  I have an idea that her naughty creativity and ever so cute slight speech impediment (why yes, the sentence "like a young Nina Hartley" does make my pants perk up, thanks for asking) will be keeping me merrily entertained for a while.

Canon as fuck.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Horror of the Blood Monsters (Al Adamson [and others...], 1970)

"I am the vampire!  I have existed for centuries in legend, in fantasy, in men's minds - and, some say, in reality!  You must believe in me for me to exist, but those who have chosen to deny my existence have sometimes found me... a most... DEADLY... ENEMY!  I live by night, seeking fresh new blood to flow in my rather cold veins.  Many of my victims have joined my unholy legion of the un-dead... become creatures without souls, living only for hideous torment!"

So intones the legendary ball of crazy that took human form for a brief span to walk among us under the name of Brother Theodore (a.k.a. Theodore Gottlieb) in the opening confusing rush and whirl of Al Adamson's glaucoma-inducing cut 'n' paste disasterpiece Horror of the Blood Monsters.

Also known under a myriad of titles including Vampire Men of the Lost Planet, The Flesh Creatures, Seven for Infinity Against the Monsters from Space and - bafflingly - in France as The Monsters of the Planet of the Apes, this is a shining early example of the Godfrey Ho method of movie-making: namely, get hold of footage from a previously unreleased film by a totally different director, and then shoot new stuff and sew it together into a brand new patchwork product.  Adamson had previous form in this area, having already cannibalised his own 1965 crime thriller Psycho a Go-Go for re-release with a new sprinkle of sci-fi with John Carradine as a mad scientist for 1969's The Fiend with the Electronic Brain - and would reassemble it a third time with more new footage as 1971's Blood of Ghastly Horror.  A true pioneer of the green art of recycling film stock.  When crafty Al and his production partner Sam Sherman (head of Independent International Productions) acquired the rights to the 1965 Filipino sci-fi/fantasy film Tagani, only to find that it was black and white and that distributors for the drive-in market they were targeting only wanted colour by the early '70s, they quickly abandoned any plans to simply record an English language dub track and instead got creative about repurposing the footage for a new release IN LIVING COLOR [sic].

Responding to the threat of an outbreak of a plague of vampirism - represented by a what-the-actual-fuck-is-happening opening montage barrage of rapidly intercut vampire attacks (a man attacked in a warehouse by a vampire, a couple making out in a parked car wherein the girl suddenly sprouts fangs and attacks her paramour [good band, that - I used to fancy the lead singer something rotten], a john approaching a streetwalker only to find she's more creature of the night than lady of the night and he's going to get sucked in a different way than he was willing to pay for) and all this within the first three minutes, accompanied by Brother Theodore's unhinged narration - Earth in an unspecified 'near future' (i'm sure Lance Parkin will insist it's 1983 or something, despite all the space age advances on display) traces the origins of the scourge of the wampyr to a strain that arrived on Earth in the distant dawn of prehistory from the Tubatan vampire men of the far off Spectrum solar system in another galaxy.

You're taking notes, right?  There'll be a quiz at the end.

Dr Rynning (John Carradine, once again reduced to slumming for a cheque whilst being one of the best things in the movie) has assembled a crack team to accompany him in his space age XB-13 rocket to find the planet of the vampires (sorry, Al 'n' Sam, but Mario Bava had got there with that title and a much better film a few years earlier) and perhaps a remedy for the sanguine thirst gripping the Earth.  Mind you, he's not exactly assembled the A-Team here, he's more down among the Z-Men.  We have a fairly bland bunch consisting of Commander Bryce (Bruce Powers), Bob Scott (Fred Meyers), comic relief jokester Willy (Joey Benson) who is the only crewmember with a discernible personality, and Linda (Danish-born actress Britt Semand) who pioneers the Sigourney Weaver/Gwen DeMarco/Tawny Madison Galaxy Quest look with her blonde bob cut and having her jumpsuit unzipped to cleavage-revealing level.

Presiding over the team from Centre Neptune, deep beneath the sea Earth Control are Colonel Manning (Robert Dix, who'd been a crewmember in Proper Space Film Forbidden Planet and ought to have known better) and his trusty partner - in more ways than one - comms officer Valerie (Vicki Volante, whose six movie credits are all Al Adamson flicks).  Manning and Val oversee everything from their control room, which resides mostly in better looking footage from a different film, intercut with Dix and Volante speaking into microphones in front of a black cyclorama.

When the ship is hit by space radiation (sadly failing to give anyone aboard the powers of the Fantastic Four), they have to make planetfall somewhere in the Spectrum system.  Which is where they were heading for anyway, rendering the ten or fifteen minutes of faff about telemetry being lost, being knocked off course et al (their circuit's dead, there's something wrong) utterly pointless.  Rynning is well keen to explore this uncharted region of space

which he discovered himself (I like to think that the Spectrum system is also home to planet Spectra, eternal enemy of G-Force and instigator of the BATTLE OF THE PLANETS).  Making touchdown on the world they were aimed at in the first place, they find the atmosphere to be soaked in 'chromatic radiation', rendering everything outside the ship a uniform tinted shade of either yellow, green, blue or red depending where one is standing.  This, of course, is Adamson and Sherman's brilliant idea of the 'Spectrum-X' process, which allows them to splice their crew in with black and white footage without any jarring shifts between colour and monochrome - while also lending the scenes a charming silent film feel like when movies like Murnau's Nosferatu would be tinted sepia or blue to indicate day or night.

Oh dear gods.  I just compared Al Adamson to F.W. Murnau.  I feel sick.

After observing some dinosaurs (courtesy of the original 1940 One Million B.C., aka Man and His Mate), the team encounter Mailian (Jennifer Bishop, who would join Carradine later in 1970 for an even worse movie - the abomination that is Robert F. Slatzer's Bigfoot) - a cavegirl cross between Raquel Welch's Loana and Linda Harrison's Nova.  Mailian is being pursued by some club-wielding befanged cavemen who are soon finished off by the crew's space age weaponry (rifles and revolvers.  As Simon Phoenix would say "Where are all the phaser guns?").  After a brief bit of human vivisection in which they knock her out and slice her head open to implant a translator chip in her brain (not exactly Star Trek's Universal Translator or Doctor Who's TARDIS translation matrix) they can understand each other, and Mailian tells them of her home world (Usul).  This planet's inhabitants include her people, the human-like Tagani, as well as the vampiric Tubatan, the lobster men of the rivers (but not, sadly, the Lobster Man from Mars) and the bat men of the caves.  It's a budget Barsoom, basically.

Mailian is on a mission on behalf of the Tagani to seek out the famed Ramir and the warriors - who sound like either a terrible band or a great Saturday morning kids' cartoon - to help them in their fight against the evil Tubatan and the traitorous Akil (a goateed Tom Savini-looking motherfucker) who has joined them and taken captive the beautiful Tagani warrioress Leela (who is as deadly in battle and as great looking in a skimpy outfit as her janis thorn wielding Who namesake).  When she reveals that her other goal is to retrieve 'fire water' from the mountains and the crew figure that it must be petroleum with which they can refuel the depleted ship and ready it for take off, they resolve to join her on her quest (because, as the Bloodhound Gang so sagely advised us, Fire Water Burn).

After a number of daring quests involving encounters with the sundry creatures of this benighted world, the team (minus the late Bob and Willy, who are sad [not so sad in Bob's case, the characterless Zap Brannigan that he was] casualties of the mission) return to the ship not only with full oil cans but also a mysterious metal box they find half-buried in the ground.  With Ramir having bested the Judas Akil and freed Leela, Mailian sadly watches the rocket depart and returns to her tribe.  Aboard the ship, Doc Rynning (Carradine finally having something else to do, having remained aboard the entire time due to him only being hired for two days for a couple of hundred bucks) ascertains from the box that the planet once had an advanced civilisation much like our own before they developed thermonuclear warfare and bombed themselves back to the stone age.  He then cheerfully announces that they are all doomed due to the radioactive atmosphere and that Mailian and her victorious people won't be lasting much longer even having overthrown the vampires.  I love a happy ending.

Oh my god, we were wrong.  It was a shoe-horned in Earth analogue all along.  They finally made a vampire out of me.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Spider-Man (E. W. Swackhamer, 1977)

Spider-Man '77

"I heard that you were feeling ill / Headache, fever and a chill / I came to help restore your pluck / 'Cause i'm the nurse who likes to..."

So quoth Stephanie Blake (who, according to journal of record imdb would go on to star in the 1990 opus Invisible Maniac as well as having a small part in Ken Russell's Whore [steady on at the back: any jokes you're thinking I have already contemplated myself]) as the strippogram nurse from John Hughes' seminal 1986 design for living guide Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  Having had experience of the NHS of late, I have to be the bearer of the bad news that diligent and caring though the staff may be, I was not availed of any like services.  I knew I should have gone with BUPA.  In the remote vicinity of the topic at hand, though, whilst I was lollygagging around incapacitated I found my mind wandering to the strangest of places.  Movies, mainly, as per usual - hence the above thought idly worming my way through my head - and increasingly so drifting back ("Back, Doctor!" cried Morbius, luring me into the loving arms of Morpheus, "Back to your beginnings!") to the time I wrote a piece for the lovely website We Are Cult (right here: suggesting the existence (like the fabled 'Season 6B' of Doctor Who fandom) of a Marvel Cinematic Universe 'Phase Zero', comprising the initial run of made for television films showcasing the mighty heroes of Marveldom in the late 1970s and 1980s.  Oh, and into the '90s, too, including the last few Hulk outings and the Hoff-tastic Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD.  If we must.

And so we take a peek back into a webhead world pre-Sam Raimi (still presumably in Michigan with the idea dawning that this short Super-8mm horror flick he'd shot in the woods might make quite a good ultimate experience in gruelling cinematic horror, maybe).  Pre-Mark Webb's abortive attempts at a Sony-centric Spiderverse.  Pre-.... whoever did Homecoming (oh, all right, Jon Watts).  I speak, of course, of the wonderfully-monikered Egbert Warnderink Swackhamer's trailblazing 1977 opus Spider-Man.

(I'm slightly sad that I initially misremembered the release date as a year or two later than it was, as I really wanted to title this piece 'Spiderman '79' after the Veruca Salt song.  Ah, well.)

Opening to the driving strains of Johnnie Spence's funktastic horn-driven title theme, the energy of the movie feels as much like the '70s TV action thrills of Starsky and Hutch as comic book superheroics - a feeling that grows with the opening shots of the gritty streets of late 1970s New York: all grey concrete towers and yellow taxi cabs.  As the opening minutes pass, we see first a doctor's office in which the physician suddenly breaks off his consultation with a patient the instant the clock hits 10.45 a.m. and leaves the stricken man baffled with the blood pressure monitor still strapped to his arm (the doc's suddenly becoming a wordless, mindless zombie and striding out of the surgery will doubtless have done his hypertension no good at all); meanwhile, in a Manhattan courthouse, a lawyer freezes in the midst of his summation to the jury as the clock strikes eleven and he wanders out much to the fury and contempt of the judge.  This pair of under the influence pillars of the community wordlessly team up to rob a bank, the doc serving as getaway driver whilst Mr Attorney dons a gas mask and walks into the building with a gun, a gas grenade and a briefcase that he soon emerges holding now filled with liberated money.  All of this done silently and emotionlessly, they drive through the streets to an obviously preset destination where they drive the car straight into a brick wall.  A pair of goons (the lead one being played by the instantly recognisable angular-faced character actor Len Lesser) then emerge from hiding, taking the golden briefcase as well as the distinctive circular pins that each man is wearing on his jacket lapel, and disappear.

Don't you just love the personal touch of a hired goon?

Across the mean streets, at Midtown High University, science student Peter Parker (Friedrich Von Trapp himself, Nicholas Hammond) is trying both to control his allergic sneezes and gain his PhD along with fellow student ("Greetings, fellow students!") Dave (actor and professional magician Larry Anderson, who would shortly go on to make a cameo at the end of the aforementioned 1978 Doctor Strange movie and later be the original pre-shooting in the face Michael Knight [nee Long] in the pilot episode of Knight Rider before regenerating into the Hoff).  After a bizarre experimental laboratory task involving remotely manipulating an Erlenmeyer flask full of toxic waste (what sort of module did these guys pick?  How do you do a proper Intro-Hypothesis-Method-Procedure-Results-Conclusion write-up on that?) results in the spider who hangs suspended from his strand of web within the container getting nuked, the unfortunate atomic arachnid gets one good bite in on the oblivious Parker before crawling off to fade away and irradiate.

As Peter leaves to head home to his Aunt May, another robbery is in progress as a Cameron Mitchell-looking motherfucker (who soon turns out to be a high court judge) holds up an armoured car and makes off with the big bux in the same robotic manner as the previous miscreants, his kamikaze driving taking him straight towards Pete and pursuing him straight down a blind alley to plough into the cold cement at the end of the tunnel - prompting the panicked Parker to instinctively leap and crawl up the wall to safety before breathlessly staring at his hands (spider-hands, spider-hands, do whatever a spider can) once he reaches the top.  After trying to explain the circumstances of the crash  and subsequent disappearance of the cash to the gruff police captain Barbera (Michael Pataki, who has had a fist fight with Scotty as the boorish Klingon Korax in 'The Trouble with Tribbles', been the owner of Zoltan, Hound of Dracula and been the medical carer for the boogeyman in Halloween 4 in his long and varied career), Parker heads to the offices of that great bastion of the Fourth Estate The Daily Bugle.  Proprietor and publisher J. Jonah Jameson (David White, who played Darrin Stephens' boss Larry Tate in the long-running magicom Bewitched) is already at his bellowing blusterous best over the inexplicable rash of robberies when a television newscaster - played by "surely that's a porn star name?" Ivan Bonar - relays the information that in "one of the most bizarre crimes in the history of this city" (big words, pal.  This is Noo Yawk) a ransom demand is being made of New York City by the shadowy mastermind behind these events.  This mysterious supervillain is holding the city to extortion by stating that ten individuals throughout NYC have been pre-programmed to commit suicide unless he is paid the sum of FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS.

This being the case, neither the volcanic Jonah nor his more cool-headed editor in chief and moral conscience Robbie Robertson (Hilly Hicks) are minded to pay Parker the money he's asking for the photographs he took of the almost fatal crash ("A wreck is a wreck is a wreck!" J.J. growls in a Gertrude Steinian bout of solipsism), and are more interested in the tales of a so-called "Spider-Man" ("That's what these drunks call him") reportedly spotted scaling the sheer walls of buildings.  And so our friendly neighbourhood student-cum-freelance photographer begins to practise and hone his new-found spidery skills - waiting until Aunt May (Jeff Donnell, yes she's a woman called Jeff, so what?) is out, he climbs out of his bedroom window and scales the eaves, gables and balustrades of the house in a heartwarmingly nostalgic display of the naive '70s enthusiasm for {and belief in the abilities of) CSO / Chromakey / bluescreen.  After somehow managing to stitch himself together a pretty impressive costume for a homemade effort (perhaps his other major was in needlework?  At any rate, he'd be a hit a few decades later when the cosplay thing kicked in), our nascent Spidey utilises the preset timer function on his camera to capture a few happy snaps of his costumed self pulling some wall-crawling moves and gets them to the Bugle sharpish.

Whilst J.J., Robbie and Peter are in the newspaper office, a report comes in of yet another mystery crime following the zombified robbery/crash into a wall/cash goes missing template, the target this time being a factory payroll.  After Jameson orders Robbie to put their top snap-man MacNeill on the job only to be told that he's already out on an assignment, the eager Peter is dispatched to the scene of the prang to find Captain Barbera and his sidekick Monaghan already there ("A professor who steals a Payroll?  They don't make crooks like they used to!").  The "crazy lone wolf" - as Barbera calls him - semi-conscious behind the steering wheel is the respected Professor Noah Tyler (Ivor Francis), a teacher at the university, and Peter accompanies his daughter Judy (Lisa Eilbacher) to the hospital.  Watching on is Len Lesser's Chief Goon, who radios his shadowy boss - whose face remains unrevealed like a pre-You Only Live Twice Ernst Stavro Blofeld - to inform him that the plan has gone awry as Tyler has survived.

At the hospital, after Judy and Peter are asked to leave the amnesiac Prof alone to rest, the goon slips in disguised as a doctor to place another of the strange pins on the Tyler's lapel whilst the villain in his shadowy base manipulates whirring machinery with the inputted order 'NOAH TYLER - DESTROY'.  The frail academician suddenly finds himself clambering out of his sickbed and climbing to the window for a spot of leg-dangling upon the sill as he readies himself to hurl his body down, down to dash upon the ground down below.  This is Pete's time to rise, and so off he dashes to the bushes to strip into his red and blue union suit and scale the hospital wall to intercept the suddenly suicidal doc and carry him all the way up to the roof and hand him over to the cops before skittering away before the eyes of Barbera - "Who is that character anyway?" he asks.  I dunno, man.  Is it Ben Reilly, the Scarlet Spider?

When Judy later confides in Peter about a secretive self-improvement group that her father had joined and that she thinks the other group members might have information that can hep understand what's happened to him, Parker agrees to accompany her to the group session (well, she is very attractive... oh.  Not that kind of 'group session'.  Right).  There they meet the charismatic cult leader Edward Byron (Thayer David, the eminent Professor T. Eliot Stokes of long-running gothy horror soap opera Dark Shadows), who allows them to sit in on part of the meeting but politely asks them as they are not full members to leave before the private part of the conclave.  This is the part where they all throw their keys in a bowl, isn't it?  But, wait, no: it isn't.  This is the part when Byron darkens the lights and flashes disco strobes into the eyes of his assembly whilst intoning hypnotic suggestions over an echoing tannoy that makes his low bass rumble sound as though it were coming from beneath the sea.  Then he issues pre-programmed instructions for a number of them to kill themselves the instant they are issued the command.  Which, like, completely harshes the mellow that he had going on, man.

Paying a return visit later in his more comfortable clothes Spidey capers across the rooftops of nearby buildings, leaping o'er the chasms between them as if skipping over puddles to clamber into a high office window.  Ol' Webhead carefully makes his way through the silent and empty chambers of Byron's sanctum, searching for any evidence and then OMG NINJA ATTACK!!  Out of nowhere a trio of Kendo killers armed with heavy bamboo staffs and snarling threatening guttural warnings advance.  A man in a lycra gimp suit tussling with a large shaven-headed man with a moustache?  Nothing homoerotic here - move along.  Using his powers to his advantage, Spidey has the high ground as he scampers along the ceiling and walls to evade the "HAI!!" thrusts and swings of the mighty bo (Donatello's just can't get the staff these days) and leaves the martial artists encased in the sticky white goo he squirts over them (steady on, this ain't before making his egress from the roof by shooting a webline to a nearby flagpole and swinging to another building, and all without being made of CGI.

As the deadline of noon on Friday looms, Peter believes that he's made a breakthrough when his lab equipment picks up a strong microwave transmission sequence that he works out to be the method utilised by Byron to activate his somnambulist sleeper cells.  Hurrying to the police precinct to give this vital information to Captain Barbera, he is overcome by the hypnotic wave when the badge pin that Byron attached to his jacket earlier is activated.  As The Ten, all triggered and ready for noon doomsday, make their ways to their designated places of self-destruction (a man stops his car in the middle of a bridge and exits the vehicle to hurl himself over the side, a woman stands atop a skyscraper, the lovely Judy waits upon the edge of a subway platform ready to fall 'neath an oncoming train) Peter sleepwalks his way into the Empire State Building, makes his way into the lift, ascends to the eyrie of the viewing platform and readies himself to climb over the protective railings and drop into the abyss.  However, the caprice of fate intervenes and as Byron types in the 'PETER PARKER - DESTROY' command (perhaps 10 PRINT 'PETER PARKER - DESTROY' 20 GOTO 10 RUN would have worked better?) and Peter attempts to obey, the prong of a rail catches the pin badge and it falls off, snapping him out of Byron's spell.  Rushing in costume to Byron's base, just before the clock strikes 12 Spidey fires off a web that ensnares the broadcasting aerial dish atop the roof and tears it down - causing Byron's hypno-machine to start sparking and spitting like Kenneth Strickfaden arc generators and Tesla coils and turning the ray on him, reducing him to a zombified catatonic state.  Finding him in this more suggestible condition, Spider-Man prompts him to make his way to the precinct and hand himself in to Barbera, as the hypnotic victims snap back to their senses and make their way to safety.

As Byron and his goons are hauled in by Barbera and his officers, Peter meets with Jameson and hands over a sheaf of photos of Spidey standing alongside the now genial ninjas.  Amazed, the spluttering publisher can't believe his luck.

"How come you're the only one who can get a picture of him?"

"Simple," says Peter.  "I believe."

And as he takes Judy's arm and they walk off together into the bright Manhattan afternoon leaving the apoplectic newspaper man with all his questions behind them, you know what?  So do I.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

The Fly (Kurt Neumann, 1958)

For the Vincent Price blogathon, 17th to 19th April.

Sweet genes, Vincent.

I may only (only!  I turned 41 two weeks ago!  Aeeeeiiii!!!) have been born in 1979, but - perhaps strangely - I was very familiar with The Fly by the time the David Cronenberg re-version came out in 1986.  Which I know, because I have quite a strong memory of watching a movie on VHS with my dad, and one of the trailers was for said upcoming Jeff Goldblum Brundlefly vomit-drop flavoured movie.

"Look, Dad - they're doing a new one!"  I cried with glee.  Because I had fond memories of watching the original, that said father had dutifully recorded for me during some late night airing a year or two before: that eerie title sequence intro with a sort of psychedelic honeycomb with a fly (or flies?) emerging through holes.  I'm so glad I didn't suffer from trypophobia - i'd probably have been traumatised instead of spookily intrigued.

I had also, in the interval between seeing the two films, read the original George Langelaan short story upon which the movie was based.  Perhaps those pulpy old paperback Pan and Fontana books of horror and ghost stories edited by Herbert Von Thal weren't the thing for parents to buy five or six year old children - but reader, I loved them, and my parents would pick me up second hand copies if they happened upon them.

(Slightly confusingly, I distinctly recall that another volume of one of those books contained a different story - by a completely different author - also titled The Fly, which obviously meant that this small child was baffled a bit.)

Penned by Langelaan - a fascinating character in of himself, being an ex-spy and acquaintance of infamous occult master of dark magicks Aleister Crowley - The Fly was first published in the June 1967 edition of the Hefmeister's Playboy magazine, back in the pre-Flynt aeons when porn was fancy.  With a screenplay by James Clavell (of King Rat, Shogun and Tai-Pan fame), the film opens in the eerie twilight hours of a dark, dark night in deepest Francophone Canada at a factory belonging to the Delambre Freres corporation where ageing night watchman Gaston (Torben Meyer) finds the fresh mortal remains of his employer Monsieur Andre Delambre crushed beneath a hydraulic press.

The mystery of this tragedy compounded both by his having heard the press operate not once but twice and seeing the newly-widowed Madame Helene Delambre (the delightful Redmayned red-maned Patricia Owens) fleeing the scene, Gaston reports these strange occurrences to the still-extant member of the Delambre brothers Francois (genre legend Vincent Price) - his message coming immediately after Francois receives a call from Helene calmly informing his that she has terminated their brother and sister-in-law relationship in a pretty final manner.  Attending the scene of the crime, Francois and police inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall, not a stranger to the sci-fi/horror genres, having starred in bizarro robots-run-amok shocker Gog for veteran schlock-helmer Herbert L. Strock four years previously) try to fathom what's occurred - Francois maintaining Helene's inability to have possibly worked the lethal equipment whilst the pair are baffled by the evidence of the late Andre's head and left arm being twice-crushed by machinery set to impact zero level with its base to utterly destroy the cranium and limb in question.

Visiting an almost preternaturally calm Helene, who happily admits to killing Andre - but not murdering him - the sleuthing pair find the circumstances growing curiouser and curiouser as Helene informs them how she operated the press and that Andre voluntarily placed himself beneath it while all the time being distracted to the point of obsession by a housefly buzzing around the room, before examining it closely and then suddenly losing all interest. Placing Helene under the watchful care of police nurse Andersone (Betty Lou Gerson - the voice of 101 Dalmatians' Cruella De Vil herself), Charas follows Francois down to the manse's mysterious basement laboratory where Delambre is baffled to find rooms filled with strange and unfamiliar equipment that appears to have been deliberately smashed and sabotaged. "This is the work of a madman!" he expostulates, whilst Nurse Andersone has to deal with a lunacy of her own when she swats at a fly causing Helene to drop her calm and placid demeanour and erupt into uncontrollable hysteria.

The mystery of her fly fixation deepens when young semi-orphaned Philippe (Charles Herbert), who's being looked after by Uncle Francois, asks how long flies live and conveys the information that his mother has been searching for a very particular insect: one with a white head and one white leg.  When Francois goes to Helene with the ruse that he's found and captured the errant bluebottle, she begins to unfold her tale in flashback - wherein we finally meet Andre (an immediately engaging and reliably likeable performance from David Hedison [but you can call him Al, as he was still trading under his first rather than middle name at the time] - still one of only two actors to have played Felix Leiter in the Bond franchise more than once - in a role originally considered for Michael Rennie and turned down by Rick Jason).

"This is not a confession.  Although I killed my husband, I am not a murderess.  I simply carried out his last wish."

The Delambres' happy family life is interrupted the day that Andre excitedly leads Helene down to his lab to show her the fruits of the research that has kept him busy for weeks on end: the end results of the work he has been doing for the Canadian air ministry into faster forms of travel is his patented matter disintegrator-reintegrator - or teleporter to you and I - which he explains to his baffled spouse in the same terms as Willy Wonka explains the concept of television picture transmission to Mike Teevee.  Andre hopes in future to have a network of his machines installed around the globe - nay, where stop there?  The universe - to set up an instantaneous means of travel at the speed of light much like the transporters from Star Trek or the T-Mat system from Doctor Who's 'The Seeds of Death', not just as a method of conveyance for people but a cheap and instant means of moving food and other goods from place to place and perhaps end any future fear of famine or shortages around the world.  This Utopian hope is soon dashed, however, when Helene amusedly points out that the ashtray that he has teleported across the lab as a demonstration now has the 'MADE IN JAPAN' print on its underside reversed - prompting a suddenly despondent Andre to plunge back into his notes.

A further setback occurs when he attempts his first transmission of a living organism in the cuddly shape of the family cat, Dandelo, who vanishes in the disintegration module to never reappear in the reintegration receptacle, existing only as a haunting ethereal miaow ("Into space...a stream of cat atoms.  It'd be funny if life weren't sacred" he laments).  Certain that he's finally perfected the system, Andre celebrates by treating Helene to an evening at the ballet followed by an evening in sipping the finest vintage of chateau d' teleport: a chilled bottle of transmitted bubbly.  Life seeming back on track, after an idyllic summer morning in the garden Andre asks Helene to invite Francois over to show him the machine only for the two of them to later find Andre's lab door locked with a hastily-scrawled 'DO NOT DISTURB' note on the door.  Pinning it down to the doc's usually eccentric way of working, the pair don't listen to young Philippe excitedly telling them that he has caught a strange insect in the garden on his bug hunt: a fly with a strange head and leg, which he is casually - an tragically instructed to take back outside and let go.

When Andre's behaviour grows increasingly odder - remaining unseen and non-speaking whilst passing notes beneath the laboratory door asking for bowls of rum-laced milk and demanding that a white-headed fly be captured safely, and only showing himself to Helene silently and with a towel draped over his head and his arm tucked beneath his coat - Helene's increasing despair, fear and curiosity build up to the iconic scene reminiscent of Mary Philbin's unmaking of Lon Chaney in the classic 1925 Phantom of the Opera as she tears the cloth from him to be confronted by the visage of a monstrous fly, mandibles twitching,the image of her screaming face reflected and refracted in its golden multi-faceted eyes.

Not to attempt to post spoilers for anyone who may not have seen it, but it is a pretty famous plot point that Andre has transmitted himself without realising a housefly was inside the booth at the same time as him - leading to their hybridisation and swapping of noggin and hand.  Convinced that they will never again be able to locate the fly and terrified that his intellect is going, his mind being taken over by the savage impulses of the insect, Andre resins himself to destroying all evidence of his work and the monster he has become by leaving the wrecked lab under the cover of night and taking Helene to the factory - instructing her in how to operate the press to pulp him (especially his insectoid parts), an action that the agonised woman has the repeat after his monstrous limb slips out from 'neat the device first time.  As we return to the present and Helene has finished relating her fantastic tale, the disbelieving duo of Francois and Charas wonder what to make of such a strange story that still seems to fit the known facts - a wonderment brought to an end when Francois discovers the sought-for fly/human hybrid caught in a spider-web in the garden, it's miniature human head screaming "Help me"! Help meee!" as it is consumed by the web's arachnid inhabitant.  Price famously revealed in raconteur style how neither he nor Herbert Marshall dared to make eye contact during this scene as they kept cracking up throughout repeated takes, before the little creature is dispatched via euthenasia by means of brick.

Sumptuously photographed in CinemaScope and DeLuxe Color unlike its two monochrome sequels and sporting fine performances from Price, Hedison and Owens, The Fly stands as a great example of the silver age of science fiction and horror.  A Feast for the senses.  Just don't drink the milk - I think a fly vomited in it.

"He died because of his work.  He was like an explorer in a wild country where no-one had ever been before.  He was searching for the truth - he almost found a great truth - but for one instant he was careless... The search for the truth is the most important thing in the whole world.  And the most dangerous."