Saturday, October 26, 2013

Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961)

Hell o Prisoners

Time for Disc #1, Movie #9, from 50 Horror Classics

Allied Artists Television Corporation Production


Directer (and Producer) Roger Corman's

"The 20th century occurred in Havana, Cuba. The revolutionary victors marched in, and the national complexion changed completely. They had been liberated. The survivors of the old regime had escaped the best they could, taking with them only a few meager effects, such as the Cuban Treasury and other art objects. It wasn't always easy to smuggle a loot out of Cuba, and so secret meetings were being held all over the island.

This story of robbery, double-cross, and murder, begins with just such a meeting..."

Right out of an episode of Get Smart, Agent XK 150 (Robert Towne) gets a simple shine, plus a secret message in his sock. He tips the man accordingly, and is on his way, but not before shots are fired. The shoe shine man drops, and XK 150 is chased by two bearded men.  

Who knows.
You never see them again.
Just another day in the life of a secret agent...

XK 150 gives them the slip and stoops in a doorway to read the note. "Santa Domingo Bar XK 120." He eats the note, puts on his fake stache and shades, and proceeds to the Santa Domingo, where he deduces the girl sitting alone in front of a chess board must be XK 120, so once she gives permission, he joins her.

They banter.
She asks, “Do you play?”
“I never work, if I can help it.”
“I mean chess.” 
He positively identifies her as XK 120, and will report back to her during the mission, but please don't ask what that is, because I have no idea. She’s got a decoder ring. Oh boy. For appearances sake, they kiss, and unable to wrench his eyes from her, he trips on his way out. 

Meanwhile in a secluded wood, three cars meet. Out of one, exit Cuban officers, Counter Revolutionaries "As you know, our country has been order for us to....a counter has become necessary for us to, uh, steal the Cuban Treasury...You'll have 1/4...Deliver the treasury; we'll give the money." And a crate that takes six men to carry is lifted from one vehicle to the other. They depart, and the shooting begins. It's all very dark and confusing and difficult to tell who is who. But you know, the guys who were entrusted with the gold are now stealing it and making their way to their getaway boat. Narrator, none other than XK 150, says, "The first move in the great conspiracy had been made. The Cuban Treasury was now in the hands of Renzo Capetto (Antony Carbone), the most trustworthy man to be deported from Sicily..."  XK 150, alias Sparks Moran, boards posing as a "Notorious gun machine burglar from Chicago, but  'My real name is XK 150.'"

Players on the boat:

"Renzo Capetto, alias Capo Rozetto, alias Ratto Pazetti, alias Zeppo Sticcato, alias Shirley Lamour" a low-life-do-badder Bogart Doppelganger, regarded as dangerous.
His gal, Mary-Belle  (Betsy Jones-Moreland) alias "Mary-Belle Monahan, alias Mary-Monahan Belle, alias Belle-Mary Monahan, alias Monahan Marybelle." Low-life sleeze, heroin dealer, and femme fatale.
Happy Jack Monahan (Robert Bean) Mary-Belle's brother, a strapping young beach boy type, with striped T and original Vans, to boot.

And then we have Pete Peterson, Jr. (Beach Dickerson), son of a Vaudeville star, "but unfortunately he blew his brain out of whack when he was imitating a whooping crane at an Elk's convention picnic in Osh Kosh in 1942." Since then, he makes mostly animal voices. Renzo likes him. I think he's annoying, but Renzo takes care of him, and in turn, Pete Peterson is Renzo's faithful servant. 
And then last, but not least, XK 150, alias Sparks Moran, alias Narrator--Edward Wain, the Cuban soldiers, and the Generals. 

As the Cubans make merry on deck, down below, Renzo and Company make a plan. "We got to get rid of at least half of these Cubans without making the rest of them suspicious." He tells a folk tale about a sea monster known to be in the area. So, naturally they'll make a monster on which to pin the murders. It will have the claws of a garden rake and olive oil and seaweed for skin. 
In his cubbie, XK 150 sets up his "undetectable radio set" using "simulated hot dogs for knobs and tubes inside of dill pickles." 
And Mary-Belle's up on deck trying to ward off the Cuban General's advances, and, due to the language barrier, and a translator who feels it best to skew the message. Mary-Belle's "Will you please tell the General I think he would be most at home cooking over a hot spit?" Comes out, well, just look to the right. He kisses her hand and passes on. 
That night, Renzo and his cronies rig the scene. They make footprints with a plunger and paint. Everything seems to be going according to plan, except there was to have been only one Cuban killed, not two. One of the Generals is easier to convince than the other when it came to blaming a monster. 
A boat approaches. They see it's the Coast Guard, which is now actually the National Coast Guard. To act natural, Renzo had Mary-Belle, alias Mary-Belle Monahan, alias Mary-Monahan Belle, alias Belle-Mary Monahan, alias Monahan Marybelle sing a song.  They were looking for gold. They didn't find any, but they did find you don't mess with Renzo, alias Renzo Capetto, alias Capo Rozetto, alias Ratto Pazetti, alias Zeppo Sticcato, Alias Shirley Lamour. Once everything dies down...

XK 150 pants at Mary-Belle. "Mary-Belle, you have a beautiful voice. You're talents are being allowed to molder away unknown to humanity. You could be a star. The toast of three continents. Let me take you away with me...She was madly in love with me, only she didn't know it yet...You're ravishing...When Renzo isn't looking, we'll jump and swim through shark infested waters, so no one will follow us." To which Mary-Belle replied simply, "You're sick." 

Renzo sets the plan; They'll go to a little island at the tip of Puerto Rico. The entry reef is narrow, so he'll run aground, and then a lifeboat will be lowered. Once the Cubans get in the boat, Pete is to capsize it. Check.

The water is full of Cubans, and the monster, and, unfortunately, the gold. On shore, the Cubans are building a shelter on the little island and Renzo and Mary-Belle are planning their triple-cross. They'd all go down for the treasure. He'd get it, without them knowing, kill a few Cubans, tell the Generals they were unable to retrieve it, and return a few years later for the loot.

Now, I'm not gonna spend a lot on this part, because it's boring, but this little island turns out to be, like, the Love Island.  Pete hooks up with some island wench named Rosina Perez (Esther Sandoval), and Happy Jack hooks up with this chick named Carmelita Rodriguez (Blanquita Romero) who later hookss for Agent XK 150, so Rosina hooks him up with her daughter, Mango (Sonia Noemi Gonzalez).

First, they need to get everyone back in the boat. Renzo sees his chance right off the bat to put the plan in motion, picking off a Cuban who ventures off alone. Then another makes the same mistake. The divers float up on the beach, and believe Renzo's story about a monster. 

Down below, Renzo locates the crate, but he's not alone. The Creature watches unnoticed.

The couples frolic in the water, but Mango gets drug under by the Creature in true Jaws form. They really don't notice to begin with, but then Happy Jack starts freaking out. "Mango! Why'd ya do it, Renzo?!" 

Renzo managed to convince him that it had to be the Cubans, cause at this point, he didn't know if the monster was real either. There had to be another dive. He needed to pick off the Generals. It didn't take long for them to separate, and they were knocked off one by one, while the monster looked on. The Creature, however, struck out at Happy Jack, and the love lost boy checked out. 

And now, Special Report from Agent XK 150 notes, "It was getting dark, I could tell because the sun was going down." 

He flees with Carmelita in a lifeboat to the island. On board, Mary-Belle is about livid, what, with Jack being killed and all, and not  knowing who to believe. Who killed him? The Cubans? A monster? Renzo? And so while Renzo's trying to get back into her good graces with a kiss and a hug next to the bow, the monster snatches Mary-Belle up and out of the boat, and well, that's the end of her. The Creature boards, wreaking havoc, while Renzo rows away in a lifeboat for one. He makes it to shore, but the monster doesn't have to stay in the water, and so that's the end of Renzo, too. 

In black tie, shades, but no stache, fickle Agent XK 150 says,“Carmelita I love you, and I want to marry you and take you away from all of this…Of course we have to live on the salary of an American spy which is $41.50 a week. “  This is alright with her. And then as humble as he is, he comes clean.  “I’m not really as smart as I look.” Well, he fell for the fake monster bit too, and they kiss. 

And Narrator, Edward Wain, alias XK 150, alias Sparks Moran, wraps it up. “So I got the girl, and guess who got the gold.” And the Monster holds the camera in the last shot, sitting on the crate, down with Davey Jones.

What'd I think? Well, I thought it was alright. Actually, it was better than alright. I still don't know what XK 150 was doing on the boat, though. haha. You can't deny the script is a hoot! Thanks Mr. Corman! Scary? No. But there was a monster in it! And no atomic energy! Bonus! I'm going to give it two flames on the flame scale. Certainly entertaining, if you're looking for a good laugh. 

Next, it's Disc #1, Movie #10, Eaten Alive (1977).

Until next time...Keep those fires stoked.

Eternally Yours
Warden Stokely

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)

Hell O Prisoners

Sorry for the delay. Workin on somethin' uptop. 

Time for Disc #1, Movie #7, 50 Horror Classics

"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." Lord Acton

Hammer Film Productions


Director Alan Gibson's

In a secluded farmhouse on the outskirts of London, a ritual is taking place. In luscious Argento inspired red, four men cloaked in white sit transfixed by the spectacle at which they stare--a beautiful naked long haired blonde writhing in the now and in anticipation of what will come. Ok. Here's part of the blonde.
Chin Yang (Barbara Yu Ling) prays aloud, slits the throat of the cockerel, drains it's blood into a chalice, and while still warm, pours it on the sacrifice's soft warm underbelly. The men's eyes widen as they approach the altar. They reach, and dab a bit of blood, and mark their foreheads with inverted crosses, when the alarm sounds. 
On the other side of the house, Undercover Agent Hanson (Maurice O'Connell), who was evidently more of a  uncovered undercover Agent, had managed to escape, killing his captor, but when he left, he tripped the alarm--a great big light beam at the base of the doorway. His captors pursue, donning the crraziest 70's fur vests, Mod do's, and reflector shades. Well covered, he makes it to an awaiting car, and is whisked away to their facility where a Physician waits, and soon says, “obviously, he’s been systematically beaten…” 
“Thank you, Dr.” 
Before he dies, he is able to tell them what's been going on at the house, and, hopefully, produce a short viable video from the gizmo in his watch, and five descent photos. While speaking, he tells them about one of the men, John Porter, whom they know. Head of the Department. Has power over pensions. Among others things.
Scotland Yard has word that there is a "group of middle aged men indulging themselves in some sort of sick orgy. That's what we've got. Maybe the truth's in here." says the Inspector, as he removes the intricate little metal wheel from the inside of Hanson's watch. Just then the Dr. comes up. "I don’t suppose anyone will be allowed to claim him. Usual routine? False name on the death certificate?”
sorry, love this pic

They decide to consult another man, Inspector Murray (Michael Coles). Together they take a look at the evidence.They have a lead that a group of influential men  are visiting the house regularly. They look at the slides. Four of the most prominent members of society, and then one blank image. The door was visible where each of the men were shot, so to speak, but this fifth photo was just the doorway and no man. Murray wants to hit up University Lecturer in Anthropology and Eastern European History, and "Authority on the Occult,"  Dr. Lorimer Van Helsing (Peter Cushing). 
On the other side of town, after a very long night at work, the Inspector's secretary was kidnapped from her vehicle after driving down a street that, from what I could tell, had no apparent signage that would even remotely indicate a dead end, especially a dead end that ends in a V. The motorcycle guys totaled her car with a crowbar, and she ends up in the same room as Hanson, tethered to the bed, but after some shaking of doors and knobs and window shudders and a preponderance of fog, Dracula (Christopher Lee) enters and takes her...on the neck. 
Van Helsing listens and watches to the evidence. The cockerel, the blood, the prayer, the sacrifice, "Death is no prison for those who have given their souls to the Prince of Darkness," Chin Yang prayed, as she buried her knife into the gut of the girl. But soon, the girl rose, and the wound heeled before their eyes. No. It was not  exactly a satanic ritual. It was specifically for the Glorification of Blood. All the evidence: The cockerel,  the blood, the sacrifice, the marking of the inverted cross. No. This was not your average Satanic Ritual. Dracula was involved. Vampirism, Van Helsing revealed, was practiced usually by sophisticated mature adults. These men were "probably hypnotized."
Jessica (Joanna Lumley), Van Helsing's granddaughter, and “right hand," recognizes one of the men, Dr. Julian Keeley (Freddie Jones), and points out that her Grandfather knows him, too. They'd gone to college together. Van Helsing hadn't spoken up, cause he wanted to talk to Keeley first. They concurred that that was a good idea, so Van Helsiing went to the Keeley Foundation to hit up Julian.

When he does, Van Helsing finds that Keeley is not really up to par. Evil rules you know…Evil and violence are the only two measures that hold any power..The Deadly sins...or the Deadly Virtues.....Nothing is too vile...Nothing is too dreadful. Too awful....The thrill of disgust....Beauty of obscenity.” While listening to Keeley, Van Helsing is checking out his petri dishes, and finds that Keeley's been working on a way of accelerating the bubonic plague.
“I found the new strain….I grew them….exposed them to radioactive neutrons…Rots on the bones. In minutes…I've finished. I've finished in time...”  Van Helsing looks around, and starts asking questions. He heard Keeley say it had to be completed by the 23rd of this month. And then he starts drilling him about who commissioned him, but the motorcycle guys have been watching the house, and they come in and shoot, missing Julian, but grazing Van Helsing. They ck on him, and know he's alive, but leave him, and as far as he can tell, they take Julian, but when he wakes up, he finds Julian hanging from a hook on the ceiling, and all of the petri dishes are gone. 
The Inspectors make way to the farmhouse, and Murray, especially, wants Jessica to stay there, but, of course, she doesn't. They never do. So while the cops are questioning Chin Yang, Jessica's landed herself right smack dab in the middle of a basement full of women vampires. The secretary is chained to the wall, but smiles when she smells the guest. The Inspectors hear her screams, and they manage to get her, and get away. And then it gets complicated.
D.D. Denham funded all of Keeley's research, and Heads the Keeley Foundation. He is a recluse, and is said to be into chemicals, oils, banks, and land. He and the other four men in the photos are on the Board of Directors, and Denham Headquarters and the Foundation is built on top of the cemetery where Dracula died in the previous film. Denham moonlights as the "Lord of Corruption.” Master of the Undead. The one and only...Count Dracula.” Van Helsing destroyed him two years ago on this very spot. But he's come back. He's been Called Back. And I expect he did exit the door in the fifth photo. 
They figure Dracula's plan is to take down, well, everyone. He's got the four men, his four horsemen, who have viable connections, to well, everyone. So Van Helsing can't help but think that Dracula wishes his own demise. Maybe, he's just burnt out, and wants to hang it up, and was fine cashing in a couple years ago. But there is this question about the date. Going over a Boolean Disaster map of the world, Van Helsing explains, every disaster the world has ever suffered coincides with where these circles meet. "He marshals his disciples, the living and the Dead." The Date chosen by Dracula himself. The Sabbath, the week before Halloween. He will control over everything, and then nothing.

Murray and Jessica decide to do a stake out while Van Helsing plans to meet up with D. D. Denham. The guard has no intention of letting him in. No one ever sees Mr. Denham. But, the phone rings, and directions are given for the visitor to hit the red button in the elevator which will take him directly to Denham's floor. Van Helsing totes a small gun with one silver button freshly made from a silver cross he melted the night before, and answers "no" to the guard when he's asked if he's carrying a camera. 
Sitting behind the desk in the dark, D.D. Denham, Count Dracula, speaks first. "I've been expecting you....Ever since Julian took his own life...his nerves failed political regimes must some times be necessary to be persuasive…”
And he fires up a bigg stogie. “Helps me to concentrate.” He accidentally lays his hand on the Bible Van Helsing placed on his table, and instantly screams in revolt. His hand smokes and sizzles."You are Count Dracula!" and Van Helsing immediately whips out his cross and bares it as a shield. The Count cowers in the shadows. And then Van Helsing pulls out his gun, his dinky little gun. “Foolish man," says Dracula, "Bullets cannot harm me.” 

“Silver bullets can.” 

When in stampede a couple of the horsemen, who move in straight for the kill, but Dracula says it cannot be made so simple for him, “Not for Van Helsing...Nor for his Granddaughter.”
Murray and Jessica out run a sniper, but fur-vested-shade-wearing-gun-toting motorcycle guys await them inside their getaway car, so they're pretty much screwed and are hustled back to the house. Murray wakes up and sees Chin Yang who slinks up to him and says she needs help to get away. When he brings up the fact that she lives there, she says it's not by choice, and then she begins to glamour him. It’s working. He starts to kiss her, but then something's not right, and when he looks again, she has fangs,so he pushes her away, "In God's Name!" They wrestle, and he throws on her a net, grabs a spike, and wastes her, right where it counts, in the heart. Her feet flex. I love that part. Her teeth and fangs bared and bloody; she's down. 

And now another lady vamp approaches wearing a red robe. Actually they all end up wearing red. Until I put my glasses on, it looked like they were in the vampire ward at the prison. Prison reds.  Murray makes the sign of the cross. And then another approaches. He makes another sign. Another approaches. Another sign. And there's this one that looks like Elizabeth Taylor. He thought of Van Helsing talking about the repellents, and he remembered the fresh water, so he turns on the fire sprinklers. The little red flames burn out. 
The horsemen, Dracula, and Van Helsing enter the ritual room where Julia is asleep on the altar. Van Helsing will have a front row seat when Dracula sacrifices his granddaughter. "On the eve of the Sabbath"  he begins, "I chose this blood of yours to be my consort....The instrument of my final conquest...The vial...Swifter and more awesome then the Black Death..The Plague.”

“And so" Van Helsing asks, "You will destroy every living being on the earth…including you…Is this your Deathwish, Count Dracula?"

"I have chosen four messengers of death..Four carriers of the plague who will infect their miserable Brethren.” And the most prominent men get it. "We served you faithful!” one shouts. And Dracula throws the vial to the man, who automatically catches it, and can't let go, and as the clock ticks up to 12, he is compelled to squeeze a bit too hard, and on the stroke of midnight, the vial shatters, and he's infected.
Murray finds the camera controls, turns them on, and sees the ensuing sacrifice, but the Watch busts him, and in the tussle, the guard electrocutes himself by jammin his weapon into the control panel. Murray's off.
Plague man is rotting. The ceiling caves in from the fires upstairs and quickly spreads throughout the mansion. Murray gets Jessica. Dracula and Van Helsing duke it out. Van Helsing literally breaks out the window and runs into the woods. The house is burning down. Van Helsing notices a Hawthorn tree. The Hawthorne tree. The tree from which Christ's crown was made."Count Dracula!" he beckons. And Dracula comes. And he walks right into the Hawthorn. He gets all tangled up. Deeper and Deeper, like quicksand, when Van Helsing sees the fence. Dracula almost gets free, but the Hawthorn trips him, and Van Helsing plunges a fence post into Dracula's chest, and Count Dracula is smoke to dust. 
Well, what do I think? Good, but too much work. It's almost like they tried to validate the idea of Dracula with the monotonous din of intellectual, technical, and scientific  banter. And if I thought I was free from the Atomic Age for just a moment, I found I was wrong, as it was an atomic age plot, but it was weak, and there were so many subplots going on in this movie, that it shone no brighter than the others. It's definitely worth a watch, and you gotta see the fur-vested-shade-wearin-gun-totin motorcylists, they are truly hip. I see a lot of Argento, lots of red, which I love. One of my favorite lines is one of the Inspectors reaction to Van Helsing Vampire theory. "I can see kids doing it for kicks, but these are sophisticated mature adults…” I'm giving it 3 flames on the flame scale. I absolutely loathed the music. It took me five views, at least, just to get passed the opening credits, till I finally just turned the audio down. After completing this, it felt like more of an achievement to watch rather than entertainment.
Next it's Disc #1, Movie #8, Creature from the Haunted Sea (1962). This has got atomic age flick written all over it. But it sounds fun!
Until next time...Keep those fires stoked.
Eternally Yours,
Warden Stokely

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Movies at Dog Farm's 1st Annual Pre'Ween!

Hell o Prisoners!

Short diversion.

1st Annual Pre'Ween! 

Brandon coined the term, and hey, what the hell? It's October! The best month of the year! Go ahead and  write up something, and Brandon'll probably put it on Movies at Dog Farm during the month of October. You can shoot it here or there. 

Check out the Movies at Dog Farm's 1st Annual Pre'Ween! page 

Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973), up soon.

Until next time...Keep those fires stoked.

Eternally yours,
Warden Stokely