Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fool's Views (5/15 – 6/15)

He's on a roll, folks! Dig in!

Howdy, friends,

This period does cover a calendar month, but the final two weeks were spent off the grid marching around the Colorado Plateau with my best girl, and the earlier half was spent trying to get things in order before we left. As such, there wasn’t as much time for concentrated viewings what with wrestling articles into shape for the latest issue of HorrorHound or pounding out the remaining BR reviews below. Even so, there were some grand Views to be had, particularly the Jon Kitley-hosted Big-Bug-a-thon on May 24.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.



Big Man Japan (2007) d. Matsumoto, Hitoshi (Japan) (2nd viewing)

A hilariously sly n’ dry mockumentary spoofing the kaiju eiga genre, with the titular “defender of Japan” depicted as a self-centered, insecure slacker who every so often has to strap on the electrodes and expand to giant-size in order to combat the various monstrosities that continually besiege the island. However, as we soon discover, his biggest problems are one of slipping ratings and public opinion, as well as constantly being compared to his grandfather BMJ, who was a hit in the 60s. As with nearly any kaiju effort, one wishes for more monster action and the meta ending is a bit of a head-scratcher, but the subversive nature of the exercise pays off in so many other ways that it’s easily forgiven.

Countess Dracula (1971) d. Sasdy, Peter (UK) (3rd viewing)


Demons (1985) d. Bava, Lamberto (Italy) (4th viewing)

When free tickets are handed out for a movie premiere at the brand new Metropol theater, it’s a recipe for gruesome gore, nightmare logic, and zany entertainment in the fine Italian horror tradition. Taking itself far less serious than, say, Fulci’s The Beyond or House by the Cemetery, Bava and fellow screenwriters Dario Argento (who produced), Dardano Sacchetti, and Franco Ferrini pool their collective sources to come up with one of the most balls-out narratives this side of Japan. Claudio Simonetti’s wicked sonic themes are accented by a stream of other recording artists (Billy Idol, Saxon, and Rick Springfield among them) while Sergio Stivaletti goes wild with the splatter and latex creations. Makes not a lick of sense, but still great fun for those willing to laugh at the scenery-devouring (badly dubbed) performances and sheer insanity of it all. Hats off to Film Deviant’s Bryan Martinez for hosting the recent screening of this bonkersfest over at Berwyn’s Reel Art memorabilia shop.

Field in England, A (2013) d. Ben Wheatley (UK) (1st viewing)

A group of deserters during the 17th Century Civil War wander across the titular patch of land and find themselves caught up in the intrigues of a sinister alchemist looking for buried treasure...or is he? Throw some psychedelic mushrooms into the mix and you've got a big pile of WTFIGO ("is going on" being the last three letters in that acronym), but since it's all carried off with such an assured hand in oh-so-classy black-and-white and slow-motion, you kind of just go along with it. Kind of. Can't say I liked this near as much as Wheatley's previous two films, Kill List and Sightseers, but the guy seems set on never making the same movie twice, and I applaud that.

House in the Alley (2012) d. Kiet, Le-Van (Vietnam) (1st viewing)


Ravenous (1999) d. Bird, Antonia (USA) (4th and 5th viewings)



May 24 bore witness to an impromptu Share the Scare, during which the following five films were consumed in a single sitting in the fine company of Jon Kitley (host) and Bryan Martinez (who had never seen any of them). Talk about recapturing your inner monster kid. This is the stuff (alongside Godzilla, Harryhausen, and the Universal classics) that made me who I am today. Given the choice, I could watch nothing but old-school atomic monsters the rest of my Foolish days.

Them! (1954) d. Douglas, Gordon (USA) (4th viewing)

Giant irradiated ants menace Arizona and the Los Angeles sewer system with the James boys (Arness and Whitmore) doing their darndest to halt the (wait for it) raid. The first atomic bug movie and still one of the best.

Tarantula (1955) d. Arnold, Jack (USA) (6th viewing)

As much nostalgia and affection as I have for this childhood favorite, this latest viewing awakened me to the fact that it’s not quite the special effects showcase I remembered it to be. (What is up with that freeze frame of the giant spider trekking across the mountainside?) Still great fun though.

Deadly Mantis, The (1957) d. Juran, Nathan (USA) (3rd viewing)

More gargantuan insect mayhem, with a wildly uneven mix of impressive puppetry and less-than-impressive matte shots of the “deadliest creature known to man” in flight.

Giant Spider Invasion, The (1975) d. Rebane, Bill (USA) (4th viewing)

Young AC first saw this Wisconsin-lensed shlocker in a Bay Area cinema as a double feature with Godzilla vs. Megalon. Some might say the die was cast from then on. So much cheesy joy, and my buddy Cory Udler even did some of the special features on the director’s cut DVD. Life is awesome.

Killer Shrews, The (1959) d. Kellogg, Ray (USA) (2nd viewing)

Despite its ubiquity on many a “public domain” box set, this low-budget effort about a disparate group trying to fortify their isolated island refuge against repeated attacks from oversized rodents (Kellogg used actual dogs in shrew “costumes”) still holds up as a taut little suspense yarn.

2014 Totals to date: 148 films, 83 1st time views, 80 horror, 22 cinema


  1. Grand reviews as always AC... but The Deadly Mantis was NOT spawned by atomic anything. He was gigantic when he froze and was just as big when volcanic activity shattered his glacier and resurrected him. Just saying.

    1. You know, you're absolutely right. That's what I get for waiting a month to post this damn thing. Thank the stars I have a Rondo-nominated superfan watching over me. EDITING NOW.