Sunday, February 28, 2010


Creepshow is not only one of my favorite movies of all time, it's also associated (for me) with the time in my life when something absolutely WONDERFUL and perfect came into my early teen years.....VHS. As you may all remember, I grew up in a time of three (!) whole channels, and also in a time of when theatrical movies showing on TV was a big deal. We also weren't able to record them, so if you wanted to see a movie, you had to a)actually go to the theater, or b) wait a year or two (I don't even know how long it took for a theatrical movie to make it to broadcast TV) and then you better actually be at HOME when it was on.

I also lived in the middle of BUTT-FREAKING-NOWHERE, where cable wasn't even an option. At some point my grandparents were able to get a box with ON Television (anyone else remember this relic of pay TV?), and that was such a big deal that we'd make a special trip to watch some movies at their house. ON Tv actually introduced me to many classic horror films such as The Howling, Friday the 13th, Hammer House of Horror (the TV show), and a slew of slasher films from the late 70s and early 80s. But even then, getting to see those movies involved scheduling, begging, and then when I did get to actually see the movie, a certain amount of hiding under a blanket/pillow/my hands was involved. Sometimes, like with Friday the 13th, I was SO freaked out the first time I watched it (unfortunately people had spoiled the ending for me and I knew what was coming) I had to leave the room before it was over.

So long story short, even with being raised on horror films, and loving them, I was still afraid of them. But I loved it. And ON TV was my first introduction to current horror films of that time. So when the idea of VHS came along, with the idea that you could just go to a place, actually pick out movies and bring them home to watch (as many times as you wanted to!), I didn't think there could be much more of a reason to be alive. (the first time I walked into a real actual video store, I think I almost hyperventilated - the memory is just a swirl of colors and words and an overwhelming feeling of not being able to take it all in)

The first few times we rented movies, we also had to rent the machine. I think we rented machines until my mom opened her video store, so we'd get a machine and a bunch of movies for like a weekend or something. I don't know how Creepshow made it into my home - I'm pretty sure I had seen the ads on TV and wanted to see it - and I certainly knew who Stephen King was by that time and had read his books. But I do know, after I saw it that first time, my request for a movie every time we rented a machine was the same. Creepshow. Creepshow, Creepshow, Creepshow. Couldn't get enough of it. Even a few years later when my mom opened her store, and I worked on Saturdays, I'd always put in Creepshow at noon when the store opened and I'd spend my first two hours of the day with it. I even still own my original clamshell case from my mom's store (!) because I can't bear to part with it.

So last week I caved and bought it on Blu-Ray (and I say caved because it, like its DVD predecessor has, like Bruce Campbell says, two things on it, Jack and Shit. Apparently the UK DVD has some sweet extras, but from what I understand, we're unlikely to see a release here with anything like that. So I just said eff it and bought it)

For asmuch as I was obsessed with the movie all those years ago, I've probably only watched it twice in the last 7 or 8 years. Watching it today in Hi-Def took me back to the times when I was obsessed with it - and I also understood why this movie was such a HUGE deal for me (besides it just being kick-ass).

Creepshow was the first current (at that time) uncut horror film that I was able to watch and enjoy at the same time. I was scared but having so much fun that I wanted to see everything and take it in. The movie was also a huge turning point in my love of horror films as it took me from not just liking scary movies to a real fan of the genre. I watched the movie so many times that I started to notice other things like the score, the use of lighting and color, and the way the movie was cut and framed to resemble a real comic book.

The film was also my introduction to George A. Romero, which led me to look for more films by him, which led me to look into horror publications that told me more about the movies I loved, which led me to magazines like Fangoria, GoreZone, and others. Those magazines taught me about people like Tom Savini, Dario Argento, Sam Raimi, and countless others. Interviews with them and learning about their favorite films and filmmakers led me to search out those films....and in the booming era of VHS (and literally, there were video stores popping up EVERYWHERE - at that time not only were there video stores, but you could rent movies at gas stations, pizza places, you name it) I was also privy to a number of publications and catalogs that were delivered to my mom's video store that helped me get the inside track on what was available and what was going to be released.

In short, Creepshow was responsible for me crossing the bridge between being just a kid who liked scary movies to being a student obsessed with the genre. I even still own all of those magazines and books that I acquired during those early years (and maybe even still a few catalogs), and my dream is someday to have a place where I can display those things (along with other horror related items I've collected over the years). And although I don't collect much besides movies these days, it's no secret that I can't resist picking up an evil doll here and there (with possibly a new member coming soon (!)

There are other movies that also had a huge effect on me as a kid - Dawn of the Dead especially - but for me, Creepshow was the little movie with a big snowball effect. I'm sorry to see it not get any special treatment but I'm happy to have it on BluRay nonetheless. With no special edition on the horizon, it's a pretty good deal at under ten bucks.

Now - where's my Knightriders on Blu-Ray, Dammit????

Mother Firefly

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bava II: Blood and Black Lace (1964)

Watching Black Sunday a few weeks ago made me want to dig into my Bava Boxes, but first I thought I'd check out this one - it's not in Box I or II, which is why I bought it separately.

Besides, check out that cover - it just screams fun, right?

Uh -huh.

Unfortunately, this is yet another instance where cover art beats hell out of the film itself - although the movie does get better the further you get into it, and by the end, it's even kinda interesting!!!! Neat!!

Not too much happens in the first twenty minutes or so. A pretty woman dies and her body is found:
Apparently, this woman left a diary. I did attempt to watch the movie in Italian with subtitles until we got to the part where another woman reads a page out loud and the movie doesn't bother to translate the DANG thing.
I mean, what the hells? So I had to go back and temporarily switch the film back to English so I could hear what this apparently important piece of info was.

The woman who stole the diary burns not only the page, but the whole diary, and then this dude comes looking for it.

Oh yeah, and then another chick gets killed with her shirt off:

So the cops decide to bring EVERY GUY IN THE DANG MOVIE to see if they can't just figure out who's up to these killing hijinks!!

But even with all the men in custody, the bodies still manage to pile up:

It's a girl, BABY! Or is it????

Turns out that this guy is the killer - but his woman loves him so much that she agreed to do a murder while he was locked up, so he'd have an air tight alibi!

Apparently it all started with the model's diary, which contained the details of her blackmail against these two - who originally killed her husband so they could get his money.Those crazy kids!!

Look, they're just a couple of lovebirds:

He convinces her that there's one last murder that has to be done. Dang, whatever you do, don't hang out in this movie in yer bra!

Then he arranges for her to have a little accident on her way from the scene, but it doesn't pan out exactly how he planned. Still, a bitch has to give him props:

Then she decides to shoot the BF and call the police - thereby framing him for all the murders - but before she can finish her phone call, she collapses.
Well, dang.

Not too much else to say about Blood and Black Lace - no lie, I really did enjoy it more the longer I watched it. I don't know whether it was my attention span that night (which can be maddenly short sometimes) or if I was just tired. I fell asleep about 30 minutes in and then had to go back and start over. Mama workin' hard these days, friends!

Still, it ended well (even if the whole blackmail - killed the ex husband - deal wasn't exactly original) and I'm looking forward to getting more into the Bava boxes.

And hey, this week I went from ZERO movies to two, count 'em two (!) films. Maybe Mama is getting the hang of this work thing after all.

Or else I'm just slacking. Hee!

-Mother Firefly

Monday, February 22, 2010

BLACK DYNAMITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know, it's not a horror film.

But when I love a movie so much I wish I could take it home to meet my mom, then Mama Firefly has to make with the shout out.

If you love Blaxpoitation, films from the 70's, or have thought to yourself recently, 'You know what today's movies are missing? Lots of kung fu action."

Then check this out.

I almost ordered it on Amazon (based on previews) but chickened out and rented it on Netflix instead.

Shoulda ponied up the cash.

Green and Red band trailers follow:

Here's the website: Black Dynamite

I'm sorry I pimp slapped you into that china cabinet,
Mother Firefly

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Empire of the Ants

As you might recall from my review of Night of the Lepus, we're big fans of the mutant animal/bug movie down here on the Firefly Ranch. So naturally I thought Empire of the Ants would be a perfect way to unwind on a Saturday morning.
Instead, it ended up being a perfect way to spend an hour and a half with a confused look on my face.
Not that it's complex (which is fine by Mama - I don't heart giant insect/animal on the loose movies for their detailed plots) - it's just, well, perplexing.
I went from thinking I had a standard cheeseball man vs giant bug fest on my hands, to realizing that I had a BAD (even for my low standards) cheeseball/man/bug movie, to the last 20 mins when the movie completely and unexpectedly changes direction. (Foreshadowing? Plot development? Oh, no, no, no. Those might cost MONEY, people.)

Our movie starts out as these often do - with a little lesson on nature and how the animal/bug/plant functions normally in the wild. Ants, we're told, are the Sweet Sweetback Bad Asses of the insect kingdom. They harvest crops, build roads, tunnels, and bridges; and herd aphids. That's right, I said HERD APHIDS. They also are ruled by pheromones, which we learn, produce an obligatory response. Lest we miss that about-to-become-important piece of information, the voice over dude says: Did you hear that? OBLIGATORY!!!!! And then he's nice enough to define the term as meaning, 'CANNOT BE DISOBEYED!!!!' Here concludes the vocab lesson for the day.

But hey, says our narrator, that's all in nature 'n stuff. GOOD thing we don't have to worry about what ants do!

Well, shit.
I have to admit I was heartened when the movie started with a slightly bitchy Joan Collins working the 70s giant headband-scarf action w/matching blouse:
She's a real estate agent taking a bunch of idiots to check out some new up and coming property. No seriously, they're DUMB ASSES. As will become apparent soon.
The name of the place is Dreamland Shores - and it's pretty isolated except for some town that's pretty far away (as our worker men let us know during their conversation). Sounds like a nice place, right?
Well, shit.
Joan gets out the plastic tram and takes the group on a tour of Dreamland Shores:
The island has all kinds of neat places where you can visit the future:
Spider Fights done in the tradition of so many movies of its kind - build something that kind of resembles the head of the bug/animal, have your actor wrestle with it, move the camera so fast we can't tell what's going on, and throw some blood on them at the end.
Also we get this view ALOT. And believe me, it's just as NOT interesting every other time as it is in this shot. (Also, this lady proves to be DUMB ASS #1, as she runs in the OPPOSITE direction of her group and deep into the forest when her husband bites it - thereby demonstrating my theory that to be killed by a giant ant really does take some effort on your part)
These two head out in their high-waisted pants to look for the missing couple:
Just chillaxin', watching the ants get ready to jump on my boat that happens to be smaller than the pier it's docked at:
So then this fool decides to blow up his boat instead of trying to fight the ONE ant on it, thereby eliminating their only way off the island:
I'm tired of these motherf**king ants on this motherf**king boat!!

Let me continue to illustrate how the film shows us that, if you want a giant mutant ant to eat you, you're gonna have to stop with the running and the fighting already.

Ways to make a giant ant eat you:
Sitting and waiting while making zero effort to get up and run:
Similarly, while watching your loved one being eaten by giant ants, do not make a move to help WHATSOEVER.
Continue to look shocked, presumably, at what a HUGE DUMB ASS you are.
This method works so well that this goof decided to give it a go:
And Joan completely filled her end of the bargain by doing absolutely NOT A DAMN THING.

Or, you can play like Grandpa and Grandma did, which was purposely run in the opposite direction of their group, find a shack with THREE WHOLE WALLS, and just wait for the ants to find you.
Ant fight time, and thankfully the idiot who blew up the first boat doesn't just turn around on and light this one on fire, too.
Also notice the guy on the left is using his oar to hit at ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and swings at the air over and over while the other dude swats at some ants. Maybe at some point the filmmakers thought they might actually add some ants on that side of the scene, but then realized they didn't have a clue how to do that.

Then after about 30 seconds of swinging, while never hitting one ant not once, and with the ants still waving around and making scary ant noises, they just sit down, start rowing and leave.
Miss Blonde Mom Jeans has an epiphany: "They're herding us like CATTLE!"
Um, yeah. Like RETARDED, INBRED cattle, maybe.

Then our lucky group stumbles upon Ma and Pa Kettle living in a shack surrounded by barb wire. A barbed wire shack in the middle of nowhere that happens to have a PHONE, no less. A phone to call the sheriff on.

But just when our survivors think they're safe, they sense that the town doesn't actually want them to leave, they steal a car to get away. A car. To get off an island. How is it that ANY of them managed to get away from the ants?
But it turns out that this town REALLY doesn't want them to leave:
Just good ol' boys, never meaning no harm.....

Then we find that the town is rounding up the people and putting them in carts:
While the town whistle blows and the ants make a nice, neat line:
And because it MAKES ALL THE SENSE IN THE WORLD, we find out that the ants are ruling the town, and making everyone make sugar for them.

Oh yeah, and the queen ant needs to give you a weekly spray of her pheromone so you'll stay in line and behave 'n stuff.
Joan Collins takes a moment to drink the kool-aid:
Then the dude who loves to blow shit up decides to work his magic:
And, as usual, start with giant radioactive bugs, end with an explosion:
My sentiments too, lady. THANK GOD it's over.
-Mother Firefly