free counters

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Apparently, Smith showed his new feature, Red State, A horror film to Sundance and then, after he promised to auction off the distribution rights to the film, announced that he sold the rights to himself for twnety bucks and is going to self distribute. Also, he is going to retire after the film, HIT SOMEBODY.
See kids, this is why you smoke weed when you're young and then...KNOCK IT OFF!!!
So, for those of you keeping score. Kevin Smith's last good movie is CLERKS 2.

Lord, it makes me want to weep.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


The other day when I was putting together the most recent episode of The Basement of Baron Morbid, it dawned on me.
I think movies suck now.
Let me explain and to do that I will be dragging Jess Franco, Jerry Warren and Al Adamson into the fray.
Quite a trio there, huh?
Let's start with Al. I have always liked Al's movies. They have that seat of your pants feeling to them. Low budget fun. He made this jewel heist flick called Psycho A Go Go. Psycho A Go Go didn't do great business. When it came time to make another flick, Blood Of Ghastly Horror, they decided to incorporate a lot of footage from Psycho A Go Go to make it on the cheap. Eventually footage from Psycho A Go Go was used in The Man With The Synthetic Brain and Echo Of Terror. All fun little films that took advantage of a lot of shared footage.
The one example of Jess Franco I would like to use here is Exorcism. I actually watched The Sadist Of Notre Dame first which uses a lot of the same footage, but it is a bizarrely different film. There is a third version, but it just has hardcore inserts so it doesn't really go with the point I'm trying to make here.
Then there is poor Jerry Warren.
That man would cobble together footage from things that didn't even match. He figured if the title was good enough people would watch. and he was right. Blood Of The Man Devil is a prime example. Two different features that ran out of money before completion. Normally people would throw in the towel. Not Jerry. He put them together and made a senseless motion picture that is still fun to watch.
What I'm trying to say here is that people don;t seem to have that spirit anymore. The rare exceptions would be Lloyd Kaufman who has used his car crash footage as many times as Roger Corman used his helicopter crash footage. There is Terry Gilliam who had a movie unfinished due to the death of Heath Ledger. This was a big budget flick that embraced the spirit of the old days and Gilliam finished the flick by changing how the storyline went and used three different actors to finish the flick.
But those are the exceptions.
Everything is so processed nowadays. And before you start on how Hollywood is just a big movie vomitorium, I'm not just talking Hollywood. From micro budget, to low budget to sexploitation it's all so homogeneous. Same old, same old.
I can remember seeing the same movie year after year at the drive in because they would just rename Invasion of The Bee Girls as Cemetery Tramps.
While I find some new flicks fun, The Green Hornet, for example, for the most part I can just pass on what is coming out nowadays.
Thankfully, there are tons of old flicks out there for me to watch and the exception to the rule that hits the screens once in a while.
I'm outta here. Gonna watch a Corman flick.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


  Apparently, a gentleman by the name of Larry Gold Sr. has been in the film business for years. Just because I have never heard of him means nothing. There are lots of players I am unfamiliar with.
Anyway, Mr. Gold has formed INTERVISION and is releasing two Jess Franco flicks.

First up is 1973's THE SINISTER EYES OF DR. ORLOFF. Apparently culled from a 1" master that Jess Franco had in his possession SINISTER tells the story of Melissa Comfort (Montserrat Prous) who wakes up every morning with a scream of fright from a nightmare that haunts her. The rest of the family decide to bring Dr. Orloff in to see if he can help the girl. Paralyzed since birth, Melissa is slowly being driven mad.

Can Dr. Orloff help her? Or does he have other ideas on his mind?

THE SINISTER EYES OF DR. ORLOFF is like a bizarre stepchild of all the other Orloff films. No Howard Vernon to be seen. Lina Romay has a bit part, but not the lead. And this Dr. Orloff really has no dubious surgery going on during the film. It's like he is Dr. Orloff's half brother or something.

Does that make this a bad film?

SINISTER is a tense little thriller. Some things you can guess, but it throws you a curve from time to time. The abrupt ending makes you do a little double take, but it works. It's reminiscent of Michael O'Donoghue's rules of telling a story. He says they should all end with the sentence; 'And they all got run over by a bus.' No bus here, but you'll see.
The print is clean if a little fuzzy around the edges. The scene on the road that takes place in the fog is surrealism at it's best and Ms. Prous does a fantastic job.

Two complaints that Mr. Gold might want to consider;
There are two times that the subtitles drop off. Once early in the film where the butler, Matthews, says a sentence or two with no subtitles. Then there is a scene at the police station with Orloff where we don;t get subtitles for a couple of minutes.
The other thing might be just a suggestion.
A commentary on some of his older releases. His release of PAULA-PAULA (reviewed below) doesn't really need one with the abundance of supplemental material, but a commentary for SINISTER would be welcome.
Other than that, it is always good to see a new Franco film being released. And by new I mean one that wasn't available with subtitles before.
And I love the retro look covers we are getting with these releases. They look like something you would see from the 70's. Just fantastic

Now we move on to the second release.

PAULA-PAULA is ground that I have covered before. It was originally released in a limited edition. Yes, I bought the limited edition when it came out. Yes I liked it. I know, big surprise. But, let's cover this as something new in it's cool new packaging.

First, the supplemental material by Jess is required viewing. The first segment tells us that he has just finished putting the film together a few minutes earlier. Amazing! Then there is a chapter of Jess on film making. The man is a genius and everyone who ever wants to make a film needs to watch this segment. Twice. Finally, there is a long segment that tells us how PAULA-PAULA came about. Just the guts of a man like Franco taking a weird concept and running with it. If anyone else said they were going to meld a jazz piece by Friedrich Gulda with the basic storyline of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde I would just scratch my head. With Jess it makes perfect sense.

So, remember going into this that it is not a movie. There are people in front of the camera and things going on, but it's not a movie. Even the box proclaims it as an Audiovisual Experience and that might be the best way to look at it.
The film starts with PAula (Carmen Montes) in catatonic shock mumbling something incoherent. In comes police officer Lina Romay (her character is given no name). It seems that Paula is the prime suspect in the murder of her lover, Paula (Paula Davis). But, is that Paula even real? The first Paula, played by Montes, is a sexual being. Rarely clothed with silky, tan skin and constantly writhing around. Her perfectly formed face and body is a pleasure to watch. The other Paula remains clothed for the most part in a bright red silk bra and skirt. She is bleached blonde, tattooed, pierced and has white, milky skin. The opposite of Paula.

Is she really there or some form of manifestation by the other Paula?   Franco leaves a lot of it open for discussion and with its brief running time of 67 minutes not a lot of answers are given.
I assume that the second Paula is not a real person. The other Paula mentions that she has been doing porn shows since she was five. When asked with who she says her father. This is a woman with a scarred psyche and it ends with her creating an opposite of her from thin air. Franco uses a lot of sheets of Mylar to create an hallucinatory atmosphere in limited space. It's obvious they are shooting this in his apartment in Malaga and he manages to make it seem like so much more. A police station. A porn show. You know it's his apartment, but he makes you see much more. Finally, the music. Friedrich Gulda, who did the soundtrack for SUCCUBUS (1968), contributes this score from beyond the grave. It was given to Franco to do something with and he makes it the essential layer in this experience.

In the end, PAULA-PAULA marks a return of the man who has been referred to as 'the most dangerous director in the world'.


Thursday, January 13, 2011


I decided to watch a couple of flicks this afternoon. Martha is sick and she likes to sleep to get rid of the sickness so, kids in school is the perfect time.

First up was The Man With The Glass Eye. Seems that people are getting murdered by a knife thrower. Add to that heroin being smuggled in pool cues and a white slavery ring and you have a wonderful film that has the excellent Horst Tappert who I thought played the landlord in Spider Man 2. I was mistaken by the way but those guys sure look alike. So Inspector Perkins with his sidekick Sgt. Pepper (no, I'm not kidding) are running around trying to get enough clues to find out who the mysterious shrouded figure is and what their motive is.

This is a colorful movie filled with action, fun and it keeps you pretty busy from beginning to end.

I find that I like the color krimis more than the black and white ones. The colors they use just pop on the screen.

Then I watched Scotland Yard VS. Dr. Mabuse.

It seems that the spirit of Mabuse can not be defeated, even in death. Mabuse possesses another doctor and sends him on a rampage with a special camera that can make the wielder of the camera  have another do their bidding. At first they test the camera by having an innocent postman commit murder, but then it escalates and soon Scotland Yard is in on it, trying to stop the madman before he uses his hypnotic device to make all men his slaves.

Peter van Eyck is alright as Bill Tern who is helping Scotland Yard, but Agnes Windeck, who plays his mother, is more of an outgoing character in the film.

Also we get a young Klaus Kinski as a member of Scotland Yard who is actually pretty subdued for Kinski. It was an interesting flick, but I think my preference for color krimis is going to win out overall.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Many, many years ago I frequented two drive ins in my youth. The Douglas Drive in on Douglas Avenue and The Portage Drive In on Portage Road. Say what you want about us Midwestern types but imaginative we ain’t. Anyway, there are viewing experiences that I will always remember concerning the drive in. I can remember taking my little sister to see Fulci’s ZOMBI and she was terrified. I can remember being in the back of my parent’s station wagon with a brown paper grocery bag full of greasy popcorn watching Beneath The Planet Of The Apes. I’ve seen The Devil’s Nightmare and Invasion of the Bee Girls so many times with so many varied titles that I am an expert in both of these movies. Only one double feature sticks in my mind more than anything; the exquisite pairing of Jack Hill’s Switchblade Sisters and George Milhalka’s Pinball Summer. While much has been written about Switchblade Sisters, Pinball Summer tends to get short shrift. I recently revisited the film and saw it as a perfect teen comedy. Right up there with so many of the greats; Porky’s, Meatballs, the list goes on and on. I did a little web snooping and actually found the star of Pinball Summer, Michael Zelniker and he was willing to subject himself to a lengthy interview where we talked about Pinball Summer and many, many other things.

Douglas Waltz – So, you’re going to let me talk to you about Pinball Summer, huh?

Michael Zelniker – Pinball Summer, my goodness. That anybody would want to talk to me about Pinball Summer is a miracle in itself so, what the heck. Here we go.

DW – It’s a great movie, I just watched it again yesterday.

MZ – Oh boy. Um. You know I haven’t seen the movie in maybe 30 years. So, it’s nice to know that someone is enjoying it.

DW – Oh yeah, I saw it the first time when I was a kid at the drive in.

MZ – Really? And when was that and where was that?

DW – That would have been at The Portage Drive In and it was on a double bill with Jack Hill’s Switchblade Sisters.

MZ (laughs) – Okay, and when was that?

DW – That would have been 1981.

MZ – 1981, my goodness. And so you’re a Michigander?

DW – Oh yeah, still in Kalamazoo.

MZ – Is that where I’m calling you?

DW – Yup, that’s where I am right now.

MZ – That’s a point of interest for me because I’m actually trying to raise the financing for a movie titled Michiganders. It takes place in rural Michigan in 1978. It’s a story about three generations of a family. And so any time I come across a Michigander it’s always a point of interest for me.

DW – Oh great! That sounds like a great movie. I would watch that.

MZ – Well that’s good. I’m not sure that’s a compliment as you enjoyed Pinball Summer, but there ya go.

DW – Now Pinball Summer was shot in Montreal?

MZ – Yeah, that’s my hometown I’m originally from Montreal. Although at the time I was already living in Toronto and this was the first lead I ever played in a movie so it was very very exciting for me and had a great old time working on it. The guy who plays my sidekick in the movie is still a good friend of mine and so there you have it. Every now and then the movie resurrects itself in my life. I think what makes the movie work so well is we didn’t send it up. You know we played it for real. I think often with these teen exploitation movies people send them up and don’t play the characters for real and I think anytime you’re winking at the audience whether it’s in one of these teen movies or something much more significant or serious. Like Steve Martin says, ‘Comedy is deadly serious business.’ And if you’re winking at the audience or sending your characters up then I think that movie isn’t going to necessarily play well. But with Pinball Summer we played it for real.

DW – Yeah when your character Greg has his girlfriend Donna fooling around with Bert the biker guy and you stole his motorcycle you could tell that your character was pretty ticked off.

MZ – Right. And indeed around the whole pinball contest. It was a serious undertaking for us. How do you take something like that seriously? Well, if the story tells you to take it seriously then you take it seriously. And that’s what we did.

DW – Right, if your character has that one thing he’s good at like that documentary that came out King of Kong where this guy’s whole life is playing Donkey Kong and he takes it very serious.

MZ - Right.

DW - The one weird part of the movie is in the pinball tournament. You guys are playing a Pinball Summer pinball machine with pictures of the cast on it.

MZ – Oh yeah? I’m not even aware of that.

DW – The machine that you and Bert go head to head on is an actual Pinball Summer pinball machine with artwork of everyone from the movie on it. So you’re playing a pinball machine of the movie you are in. And that’s just a little surreal for this kind of movie.

MZ – Yeah! I mean what a nice touch and what a nice piece of art direction but I’m sure I noticed it on the day that we shot it and I’ve seen the movie a couple of times but I’m certain that I must have noticed it somewhere along the way but you’re telling me something I didn’t know before so I’m unable to give you a well informed answer as to why they chose to do that.

DW – Fair enough. Now on the DVD release they are going with the alternative title, Pick Up Summer? Why did they go with that?

MZ - Well, that’s what happened when the movie was released in The United States. I can’t remember the name of the company that picked it up for distribution in the U.S. but whoever that was they chose the title then so, for a long time the alternate title has been Pick Up Summer and that is an American derivation to make the movie more commercially interesting to some people. I don’t know.

DW – One rumor is that pinball was on its way out and arcades were on their way it.

MZ – Yeah, that’s a reasonable explanation. My understanding is that when the movie was picked up in the U.S. they chose the title Pick Up Summer. In fact when the movie was released theatrically, because it was briefly released in the US, unbelievably so, some friends of mine were living in New York at the time and it played in a theater in New York in Times Square, one of the big theaters and on the marquee it said Pick Up Summer starring Michael Zelniker so they took a picture and sent it off to me.

DW – Yeah, I distinctly remember when I saw it at the drive in it said Pinball Summer. As I mentioned I recently rewatched it to see how much I could recollect from the initial viewing from 30 years ago. I remembered you and your sidekick chasing that trophy around a lot and Sally with her top off playing pinball.

MZ – Right, well that’s a memorable moment.

DW – Although for some reason and it might be because I was a teenager at the time, I remember her being more well endowed than that.

MZ – Right. (laughs) Her name is Joy Boushel. I still remember her name although I haven’t had any contact with her. I left Canada in 1984 so I’ve kinda lost touch with a lot of the people that I have worked with in my years back in Canada. I don’t know what Joy is up to, but she was well endowed.

DW – Joy did a lot of horror movies.

MZ – Oh is that what she’s done?

DW – Yeah, you guys have one thing in common in that you both worked with Cronenberg.

MZ – Oh, you’re kidding?

DW - She was in The Fly and she played Tawny, the girl he picked up at the bar and takes home for hours and hours of sex. And then you were in Naked Lunch.

MZ – Yes I was. You know it’s funny, I’ve seen The Fly and I don’t remember Joy in it. I do remember the part you’re discussing but I don’t remember that it was Joy. Maybe I did know at some point but my memory isn’t so good.

DW – Now because you spent a lot of time with this scene; the motorcycle gang. The shack that they had. Was that built just for the movie?

MZ – Yeah, that was something that was built for the movie. There’s an area just outside of Montreal where we shot a good deal of the movie so, the coffee shop where we all hung out and the shack, the pier that I drove the motorcycle off of, many of the roads that we were driving around on all of those locations were, I can’t remember where it is but it’s just outside of Montreal just off the island maybe on the South shore. A lot of those locations were within a mile of one another. The biker shack was actually built for the movie. So that when we set up to pull it down we were obviously able to do that.

DW – So, did you jump the motorcycle off the pier?

MZ - No, I didn’t actually do that. In fact, they started to train me I had never ridden a motorcycle before. They started to train me and I had an accident so, the insurance shut all that down. In fact the scene where I’m driving the motorcycle where you’re on my face I’m hooked up to a rig and not actually driving it. And the shots where you seen me completely on the motorcycle, that’s a stunt guy who actually did the jump off the pier.

DW – The writer of the film, coincidentally, has the same last name as you.

MZ – Yes, the writer of the film is my brother Richard.

DW– Did that help getting you into the movie?

MZ – No, in fact it made it harder. The director was concerned that I was the writer's brother.

DW – Okay

MZ – He and I got to know each other a little bit. The casting director suggested me and I auditioned and the audition went very well and then he and I went out and had some drinks together and that reassured him

DW – Now, here’s an interesting thing; you’re one of the only members of the cast that didn’t go on to be in My Bloody Valentine.

MZ – It’s true a couple of people did go on to be in that film Carl (Marotte) is in it, right?

DW – Right.

MZ – And Karen Stephen who played Donna my girlfriend.

DW – And Thomas Kovacs who played Bert is in it.

MZ – Oh, is he in it, too?

DW – Yup, he’s in it.

MZ – I was doing something else at the time. I had already hired on to something else when they were casting it so I never was offered that movie. I’m not saying that I would have been offered something, but I was already working on something else.

DW – Yeah, that’s considered a classic slasher movie.

MZ – Yeah, and after Pinball Summer I did another Teen Movie called Hog Wild. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that.

DW – I saw it on your IMDB listing and I’m going to track that down. It looks like fun.

MZ – If you have a penchant for teen comedies then I think you’ll like Hog Wild. It’s populated with some very good actors. And I think there’s some very good stuff in that movie. It’s a little more sophisticated than Pinball Summer is. I think it’s a slightly better movie. I think the script is better and so on. But after Hog Wild that was sort of the end of my teen exploitation movies. I paid my dues, I gave my bit of skin and I was done with that.

DW – Yeah then you went on to be in films like Bird.

MZ – Bird is one of the movies that I am most proud of in my career. I got to work with Clint Eastwood. Work on a period of musical history that is very special and the real Red Rodney, the character that I played, was still alive at the time. I got to spend a couple of weeks with him. The movie played at the Cannes Film Festival. Forest Whitaker and I were asked to go and represent the movie. What’s not to like? This is the granddaddy of all film festivals. I was able to go and represent a movie that I was very proud of so that turned out to be a wonderful opportunity in my life.

DW – And then there was Naked Lunch with David Cronenberg.

MZ – Yeah, Naked Lunch. Also a great opportunity. Working with David, again on a piece of literary history and working with David who is a great director and, I think, one of the great storytellers. It was just great. It was fun playing Allen Ginsberg and a movie that I’m really proud of. Bird and Naked Lunch are the two movies that people mostly recognize me for and are interested in talking with me about.

DW – Except for when I automatically recognize you from Pinball Summer.

MZ – There ya go! How did you get to come in touch with me?

DW – Oh, well I’d seen the movie originally back in the drive in days, I had a VHS copy which then led to the DVD and I have recently been on a teen comedy jag, reviewing a bunch of them for the website and then I decided to see if I could find anybody. You were the first actor listed so I searched the internet and found your blog ( Which was very interesting.

MZ – Thank you. Yeah I actually started teaching a number of years ago at one of the big conservatory schools here American Musical and Dramatic Academy AMDA Anyway they have had a campus in New York for 40 years and they opened in California about seven years ago and through several circumstances I started teaching there and have found a second calling in life. I’m a little bit older in my career now and don’t feel really excited about a lot of the opportunities that are available to me as an actor and what’s great about this opportunity teaching at the school is its provided me with a chance to give away this work that I love so much and spent my adult life trying to learn how to do well. And I get to give it away to young actors just starting out. Over the years people have been urging me to write a book and I really don’t know how to get that started so a little more than a year ago I was watching the Julie and Julia movie and I thought, ‘Well, I can probably write entries so I decided to write this blog.

DW – That’s a good way to get started. Plus Blogger has a thing where you can publish your blog in book form.

MZ – Oh yeah?

DW – Yeah, once you get enough entries to fill a book they will print it for you and they are very nice.

MZ – Wow.

DW – One other movie of yours I haven’t watched yet, but am getting ready to watch is Snide and Prejudice.

MZ – Oh yeah, this is directed by a guy named Philippe Mora who is probably best known for a movie.. is it called Communion? Do you know the Whitley Strieber book?

DW – Yup.

MZ – Whitley Strieber wrote that book about close encounters about these people who believe that they have been visited by aliens. Philippe directed that movie and it was very well done with Christopher Walken. You know a movie that could be very badly done. He’s from Australia and he’s always wanted to make a movie about the rise to power of the Nazi Party and just couldn’t raise the financing. So, he found an odd way to make the movie and he set it in a mental institution and has the institution populated by figures who believe that they are Nazi war figures. And so I played Joseph Goebbels. What you get is just great fun. This movie, Snide and Prejudice we made it in two weeks. Under enormously difficult conditions and it’s kind of thrown together and yet, in a certain kind of way, it works. The movie never had much play, but it’s worth watching. It sounds like you have an eclectic taste in movies and Snide and Prejudice would fall into that category.

DW – Well, if I wasn’t going to watch it before I am now. Actually when you mention Philippe Mora the first thing that comes to mind for me is the film The Beast Within.

MZ – Oh, I don’t know it.

DW – It deals with a guy who reincarnates himself by raping this woman and her child becomes him after he starts to hit his teen years.

MZ – Wow!

DW – It’s a pretty intense movie. It has Ronny Cox as one of the leads. It’s all shot down South in a tiny little town. But I’ve always liked Mora’s work so I will have to watch this.

MZ – Philippe assembled a very good cast these are not actors who normally do any kind of exploitation movies.

DW – Sounds good.

MZ – And if you’re interested in any of my movies I did co write and produce a small independent film called Stuart Bliss. Which is a movie that I am really proud of. We traveled the film festival circuit with it, we won a couple of best film awards for it and we traveled all over the world with it. A distributor took it out and we actually played in five cities around North America, including Los Angeles and Toronto, which is very difficult for a small, independent film. It’s a strange, little dark comedy that I had a blast making. We made it for very little money.

DW – Well, that’s another one I’m going to have to find then. I like a good dark comedy.

MZ – Yeah, it is a dark comedy it’s about a man who believes that the world is coming to an end and with the stuff that is happening to him, who can blame him? The subtitle on our script had that famous phrase; ‘Just because he’s paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after him.’

DW – The other one of yours I was going to see was called Rats.

MZ – Well, it seems you like these sort of genre movies and Rats is definitely a movie that falls into that category. I did that movie in Bulgaria. I did that movie with a director named Tibor Takacs who you may know because he does a lot of these genre type movies and he and I had done a couple of movies before. I think I’ve done a total of four movies with Tibor. Rats was a Nu Image picture and they make a lot of genre movies. Another movie we did in Lithuania, was it called Earthquake? Maybe it was called Earthquake. (According to IMDB it is called Nature Unleashed: Earthquake) So these are places I never expected to get to in my life and I had lots of fun getting to travel to places I never expected to go and always have fun working with Tibor.

DW – Well, I have seen a lot of killer rat movies, but never this particular rat movie.

MZ – So, what draws you to these kinds of movies?

DW– I like these movies because they show a lot more ambition than your typical, shot by committee Hollywood movies.

MZ – Well, I’m with you there, although I am more attracted to movies that are about people. People undergoing difficulties walking through everyday human condition stuff.

DW – Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today.

MZ – Thank you, it’s always a pleasure to connect with people who love movies. I find it inspiring so, thank you.

DW – Goodbye and have a Merry Christmas.

MZ – You as well, Goodbye.

There you go fans! I must say that Michael was delightful to talk to, patient with my constant yammering and an all around great guy.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin