…and we’re back (and some updates!)

For all three who noticed we were gone for a little bit, thank you.

To ensure a more regular posting schedule, I would like to pose a question. As some may know, I also run a site Use Soap, that I use as a repository for my weekly review column at a local newspaper. I would like to propose that I run my reviews from that site on here, along with the regular features in Natsukashi. I still will post the podcast, as well as “Messing with Memories” and other various and sundry nostalgic movie morsels.

Please drop me a line and let me know what you think, I welcome any and all suggestions.

Also, you will notice a certain little logo at the top right of this blog. That piece of artwork is from none other than Flixster.com, one of the largest (and coolest) movie sites on the internet.

Our little blog has been invited to become part of the Flixster fam! Go us!

We are certainly excited about this move and hope that our incredibly inflated egos do not become even more drunk with power and end up snorting blow off the sweaty ass cracks of Malaysian ladyboys…again.

Sorry, where was I?

So we look forward to getting back into things, keeping everyone updated on upcoming remakes, hobnobbing with those in the industry who helped create the movie memories of our youth, and looking at films currently in release.

Thanks for sticking with us and, as always, your suggestions help keep us going, so please let us know what you think.

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‘Troll’ with fx legend Jim Aupperle

troll

Film: Troll (1986)
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: John Carl Buechler
Written by:John Carl Buechler and Ed Naha
Starring: Noah Hathaway as Harry Potter Jr.
                   Michael Moriarity as Harry Potter Sr.
                   Shelly Hack as Anne Potter
                   Jenny Beck as Wendy Anne Potter
                   Sonny Bono as Peter Dickinson
Tagline: Come closer…

By Jason Plissken and El-Ron
Jason’s pre-screening memories: As mentioned before, I was a fan of scary movies. Ironically, I would always get scared and turn them off. Troll was no different. I was perhaps not even in high school when I first started to watch Troll on television, and I can remember watching it up until the part where little Wendy Anne has become inhabited by the eponymous monster and her voice morphs into his guttural growl.

I guess I could blame Poltergeist, or perhaps even The Village of the Damned or The Bad Seed, to know that when a cherubic little blonde girl shows up on screen, bad things follow.

Troll was no different.

El Ron’s pre-screening memories: Trollwas released during the evil puppeteering heyday of the mid- to late-80s, which included Ghoulies, Gremlins, Critters and Munchies, and I ate all of those films up, despite being terrified by them. There was more than one evening that I swore one was trying to push his was up past the floorboard under my bed, causing me to sleep with the lights on.

Troll stood out, though, for I remember its mix of fantasy in the everyday world. Was our old neighbor a former witch? How about our mailman? Did he possess some supernatural power that I was unaware of? What about my Uncle? Was that a magic potion on his breath, or just whiskey?

I remember all the faces familiar to me at the time — Michael Moriarity, Moe from The Stuff, Sonny Bono, Gary Sandy from WKRP in Cincinnati.

But it was not until I sat down to rewatch this that I realized…Holy Crap! It’s Harry Potter! I had no idea that the main character’s name was shared by a certain literary creation that has received some press as of late. Not only that, but as I recall, the Harry Potter of Troll was also practicing to be a wizard of some sort as well.   I suppose my updated viewing of this will answer all these questions for me.

All I know is that I have the light close to the bed tonight, just in case I hear a rumbling under my floorboard.

_________________________________________________________________________

jim-aupperleOur featured guest: Jim Aupperle Chances are good, if a film had groundbreaking stop-motion special effects work done, Jim’s fingerprints can be found on those little miniatures. He has worked with visual effects for such films as Dreamscape, Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Ghostbusters, Evil Dead 2, BeetleJuice, Critters 2: The Main Course, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Hellboy (to name but a few!).

His name is mentioned alongside such stop-motion legends as Willis H. O’Brien, Randall William Cook and the master himself, Ray Harryhausen. Jim also wrote and produced his own feature, Planet of Dinosaurs, where he was able to live out his childhood dream of bringing dinosaurs to life.

We were very fortunate to have Mr. Aupperle for this little podcast and hope to have him back to discuss other films in his expansive resume.

Come venture under memory’s bridge for a trip to Troll here, or listen to below.

Ep. XXXIX: ‘The Terror Within’ (with fx artist Bruce Barlow)

 

terror within

 

Title: The Terror Within (1989)
Rated: R
Directed by: Thierry Notz
Written by: Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
Starring: Andrew Stevens as David
                   George Kennedy as Hal
                   Starr Andreeff as Sue
                   Terri Treas as Linda
Tagline: “It wants to get out!”

By Jason Plissken

Pre-screening memories: I am a creature of habit. It was evidenced the the sheer volume of films I would watch throughout my childhood. You see, in high school I would work at Ruby Tuesday’s and arrive back home rather late. After still being hopped up on fried cheese and chili, I would unwind by sitting on the sofa and watch something lurid or scary, or, on those perfect ‘kismet’ evenings, something with a little of both.

Skinemax was always a good pudescent primer, where I witnessed Valley of the Dolls for my first time, and then went on to watch it’s Roger Ebert-penned sequel. On other evenings, monsters were on the bill. For if there was anything guaranteed to populate wee-hour movie channels of the 80s, it was breasts and beasts.

I would eagerly sit through the Godzilla canon of films, or watch lesser-known titles such as “Planet of Dinosaurs” (Editor’s note: Stay tuned, as we have the writer and special effects artist of this little gem joining us for a future podcast!) and, of course, The Terror Within.

Truth be told, I never watched the entire film as a teen. I couldn’t. For it only took a few minutes to send me darting upstairs to bed and seeking shelter of my covers, never to return to the nightmarish visions I saw on the screen that night.

Until now.

You see, one particular evening, I saw this advertised in the TV Guide and new it was right up my alley. After a holocaust, a group of survivors in a underground bunker battle mutated creatures threatening to take over. It also featured inter-species lovin’ which would result in the birth of a horrible mutant alien baby.

Jackpot!

Unfortunately, I was lulled into a slumber after a particularly grueling evening at the restaurant before the film even began. I awoke during a pivotal scene in which the titular “terror” descended from the rafters to lay waste to one of the main characters. That scene, combined with my groggy awakening from my onion-ring-induced nap, led me to retreat from the film, never to visit it again.

Until recently… picture_458

The podcast: We are excited to have another special guest for this special episode, Mr. Bruce Barlow, one of the special effects artists for legendary producer Roger Corman’s ‘The Terror Within.’ In this episode, Bruce recounts the conditions under which the film’s most memorable scene — an alien baby birth — was constructed and shot. Bruce also recounts moments throughout his career in the special effects industry, which includes Ghoulies II, Critters 2: The Main Course, Munchies, Dr. Moreau’s House of Pain and Dinocroc. You can see a sample of Bruce’s work right here, shot during the film’s aforementioned slimy baby alien birth.

A big ‘thank you’ to Bruce for his time, wit and wisdom for walking with us through this memorable little creature feature and be sure to check out Bruce’s website MonsterFX5 to keep updated on all of Bruce’s latest endeavors.

In true Corman fashion, our audio was not up to snuff on the recording of the film, so the clips from it may sound a bit ‘tinny.’ For that, we apologize, but luckily Bruce was here to liven up the proceedings. As always, you can click here for the podcast, or listen below:

‘It’s Alive’

Title: It’s Alive (1974)
Rated: R
Directed by: Larry Cohen
Starring: John P. Ryan as Frank Davis
              Sharon Farrell as Lenore Davis
              James Dixon as Lt. Perkins

Tagline: “There’s only ONE thing wrong with the Davis baby…”

By: Jason Plissken

Pre-screening memories: For those of us with a thirst for cinematic blood as kids, sometimes our only outlets were on cable, and were typically edited as to not contain a hint of actual gore, sex or profanity. One of our gore guides in the 80s was a cigar-chomping “superhero” on the USA Network by the name of “Commander USA.”

While Rhonda Shear and Gilbert Gottfreid get all the love for their “Up All Night” shennanigans, Commander USA is largely a forgotten artifact of the era. It’s a shame, really, as his “Groovie Movies” featured quite an impressive list of films for those of us who liked to dance on the darker side.

Titles included such well-known horror gems as C.H.U.D., Friday the 13th, American Werewolf in London, Child’s Play and My Bloody Valentine. But it also included rarely seen films as the Hammer classic The Abominable Snowman (with Peter Cushing), “Bloodbath at the House of Death” (featuring Vincent Price), “Fiend without a Face,” “Hangar 18,” “The Possession of Joel Delaney,” “One Dark Night” and the truly horrifying “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band.”

As well as such international horror oddities thrown in for good measure, like Mexico’s “Brainiac,” and “The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy,” Germany’s “Mark of the Devil,” Italy’s “Satanik.”

It was through this window that I first witnessed “It’s Alive.”  The movie was actually on a lot back then on other channels, but watchin it with the Commander is my strongest memory.  I remember it being pretty scary (for reasons unknown, honestly). I remember, even as a child, thinking that the special effects were rather weak, but still effective. I enjoyed the movie enough that I went out and rented the sequels — “It Lives Again” and “Island of the Alive” —  from the local movie store.  I can’t remember the plots of the sequels, but they were pretty corny, or perhaps Ijust got a little older and they no longer held up under closer scrutiny.  In fact, I remember being more enchanted of the tropical island on which the third film took place than any other piece about the film.

I’m sure Commander USA would be disappointed in me.

Was Jason still making goo-goo faces at the little nipper after all these years? Download it here, or listen to it below:

‘The Final Terror’

The Final Terror (1983)

Directed by: Andrew Davis
Written by: Jon George
Starring: Adrian Zmed as Cerone
                Rachel Ward as Margaret
                Daryl Hannah as Windy (yes, Windy!)
                Joe Pantaliano as Eggar
Tagline: “It’s a slow week, what else are you gonna see?” (just kidding, there wasn’t one)

By: Rob Rector and Jason Plissken

Rob’s pre-screening memories: The Final Terror was a milestone for me.

For it was this little, cheapie camping-gone-awry horror flick that started my descent into the dark, seamy underbelly of the world of forbidden flim-going.

Despite my parents’ best attempts to raise a respectable, law-abiding young man, peer pressure would triumph in this battle, even though I regarded myself as someone with an iron will.

A movie theater that was within walking distance to my suburban childhood home would usually offer two distinctly different films in its two theaters. In Theater I, the latest Hollywood hit would house the more serpentine lines of the moviehouse, as lesser-known fare would typically be relegated to Theater II, which usually featured a more palsied line of vagrants, freaks and local college kids merely looking for an “Alanis Morrisette special” in the back rows.

It was in this theater that the manager opted to screen “The Final Terror” in 1983 (my guess is the 3-D magnum opus “Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone,” starring a “Sixteen Candles” -era Molly Ringwald, was boring the hell out of audiences in the opposite theater). I say this is my guess because there had a be a PG-rated film playing for which we purchased tickets as a cover for our crime.

You see, it was a few weeks before the “final” installment of Star Wars, Return of the Jedi would be housed there, (which would make it home away from home for the following months) and we were merely killing cinematic time before its arrival.

As many pre-teens with too much time on their hands and friends who were actual teenagers, we devised a nefarious plan to enter one theater (the crap-tacular “Spacehunter“), only to switch over to the “dark side,”(“The Final Terror“) when the ushers weren’t looking. At the time, it was a plot that had to be planned and executed with David Mamet-like skill and style. Movie times, curfew, menacing theater staff all had to be calculated precisely to avoid suspicion, or, worse yet, a phone call home to pick us up.

The three of us nervously purchased our tickets, graciously accepted our 3-D glasses, casually and accordingly sauntered into “Space-whatever” and waited for the minions to arrive and provide perfect cover for us. Somehow, the added element of 3-D glasses would provide just enough chaos for us to slither under the radar.

Then, one by one, we exited the theater – a bathroom break here, a popcorn refill there – and managed to nonchalantly adopt a couple heading into “The Final Terror” as our parent and/or guardian. I have a feeling our acting was better than any within the film itself, as we all had to give the illusion that we were too engrossed in our buttery buckets or coming attraction posters to be bothered with making direct eye contact with the ticket takers (who, in retrospect, would have most likely just let us in by slipping them an extra $5 spot).

We confidently strode to our seats, keeping one or two in between us as to give the illusion that we were awaiting our negligent parents. Shortly after, the lights dimmed, the previews rolled and we were home free.

Unfortunately, this being my first real dance with deviltry, I was completely unable to focus on the on-screen happenings, as I was enveloped by my pre-teen paranoia. There was something about a group of campers, the chicks from Splash (Daryl Hannah) and Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (Rachel Ward) were in it, as was the host of Dance Fever (Adrian Zmed). And I recall a final confrontation involving a large, swinging log marked with spikes that marked the demise of one of the characters.

Honestly, though, all I kept thinking is that this would be the demise I would face if I accidently bumped my feet into the chair in front of me and a disgruntled patron would call the flashlight-wielding arbiters of the art house to escort me out.

So, when Jason Plissken and I sat down to revisit “The Final Terror” on DVD, I could now comfortably take in all its subtle shades and nuances of this masterpiece without fear of ejection or the bitter wrath of mom and dad.

Jason’s pre-screening memories:
I first watched The Final Terror years after it was released.  I was probably in the 8th grade when I saw it, which was around 1989.
My family and I had just gotten back from a roadtrip to Ohio and it was pretty late.  My parents went to bed, but I stayed up to watch late night TV.  That’s when I came across The Final Terror.  At the time, I thought it was pretty creepy.  I also thought it was cool because it had Daryl Hannah in it, and I had a crush on her with or without that mermaid tail!

It was filled with all the elements that would keep a youing kid rapt with attention: murky stalkings in the woods, hot female leads and a cannibal-esque psycho on the loose (sadly, there was no gratuitous nudity, but I was probably better off, considering my parents were in the next room and could enter at any time).

What did the screening hold this go-round? Download it, or listen to the podcast here:

 

‘The Monster Squad’

 

The Monster Squad (1987)
Directed by: Fred Dekker
Written by: Shane Black and Fred Dekker
Starring: Andre Gower as Sean Crenshaw
Robby Kiger as Patrick
Brent Chalem as Horace (The Fat Kid)
Michael Faustino as Eugene

Tagline: “Call them for a monster-ous good time!”

By: Jason Plissken

Pre-Screening Memories: I haven’t seen The Monster Squad since I was in high school, but since it had “Monster” in the title, it was required viewing. I would scour the TV listings every week, checking for what creatures would be featured for the week. This one sounded like the Mother Lode, in that it featured all the classic monsters from Universal Studios: Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The movie came out in 1987, but I didn’t see it until it came on HBO about a year later. My memories of the film are pretty vague but I did learn a number of things from watching it:

  • I remember the movie was corny but still able to keep my attention. There were several little details about the kids in the film that I wanted for my childhood: to battle monsters as a young kid, a really cool treehouse (that was two-story, no less!), and a neighborhood girl like Patrick’s sister (played by Lisa Fuller, which was really the height of her film career, unless you count Teen Witch).

  • I thought that it was really cool that the main character, Sean Krenshaw (played by Andre Gower), was able to watch a nearby drive-in movie from his roof. I could not have cared less if I could not hear the dialogue, just watching it would have been enough to occupy me. I could do the whole Mystery Science Theater 3000 thing, I suppose, and make up my own dialogue.

  • I remember Fat Kid declaring that the “Wolf man had nards.” Childish, I know, but ‘nards’ is just a funny word.

  • It was the first time I heard sex referred to as “dorking.”Again, I was a kid, these things were endlessly fascinating to me.

  • I remember a World War II bomber loaded with Dracula’s coffin in the
    beginning. At the time, it seemed perfectly plausible for the ancient tomb of Nosferatu to circle over middle America for no apparent reason whatsoever.

I remember having a fondness for the film in the way it handled its leads, not treating them as typical “Hollywood” kids, in much the same way that “Stand By Me” and “The Goonies” seemed to. They never seemed to talk down to their targeted audience.

Will the exclusive “Monster Squad” still allow membership to Jason now that he’s an old guy? Find out in the podcast here:

Or download it here.

‘Monster in the Closet’

Monster in the Closet (1987)
Rated: PG
Directed by:  Bob Dahlin

Starring
Donald Grant: Richard Clark
Denise Du Barry: Professor Diane Bennett
Claude Akins: Sheriff Sam Ketchum
Howard Duff: Father Finnegan
Henry Gibson: Dr. Pennyworth

Tagline: It’s Out! It’s Out! It’s Out!

By Jason Plissken

Past Memories:  The last time I saw this movie, I was in 7th or 8th grade.  Being somewhat of a geek, I always looked forward to watching monster movies on the weekends.  There was a period of time during the late 80s that Channel 17(Philadelphia’s first-ever UHF station, WPHL) would show late night monster movies.  (Ed. Note – This is where I, too, developed my love for monsters in rubber suits and such, since it aired many a Godzilla movie, as well as the series Ultraman and Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot).

I think the segment was called “Friday Night Frights” (hosted by Bill “Wee Willy” Webber).  Saturday afternoons on Channel 48 often would play monster movie matinees during its Creature Double Feature as well.  My favorite presentations were the seemingly endless stream of Godzilla movies with the model cities, toy tanks, and excrutiating dubbing.
I watched Monster in the Closet on a Saturday afternoon.  I believe my first encounter was on HBO (back when they were none-too-discerning what they showed during the afternoon).  The movie actually freaked me out pretty bad, and had a lasting impact on my psyche.  I thought the monster suit was pretty creepy looking… at least creepy enough for a 12 year old.  The death scenes also seemed pretty gruesome to me as well, from what I recall.  Most of the titular monster’s victims were grabbed unsuspectingly and yanked or dragged into a child’s most feared corner of his or her bedroom. It was there they would meet an agonizing death, filled with screams of terror from the victims and elation from the beast.  I can also recall its Alien-like mouth that protruded out of its primary gaping mouth when it was ready to attack.
One particular scene involved a seeing-eye dog being hung (by its guide-grip) on the inside of the closet door when the creature was through with it. The scene disturbed me then, and the thought actually still does today.The film, for whatever reason, stayed with me years afterward.  I can remember that, for years afterwards, I always had to have my closet door closed before going to bed.  By the time I was senior in high school, I was finally able to let go of this closet door phobia.
Is Jason now twitch-free when he slides open that door to retrieve his Oxford shirts or shoebox full of Star Wars trading cards?

 You can download the episode right here.
  
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