Monday, December 11, 2017

The Bloody Pit #62 - And All Through the House (1972/1989)

December brings our annual Holiday Horrors episode! This year my two co-hosts have chosen a tale told twice and adapted from a 1953 comic book story by the legendary Johnny Craig. The story is about a murderous wife who decides to off her husband on Christmas Eve but then has to deal with an escaped axe welding killer dressed in a Santa Claus costume. The best laid plans of mice and murderers often go awry and this short story shows us a fine example. 'And All Through the House' was first filmed as part of the Amicus anthology movie directed by Freddie Francis in 1972. This may or may not have been the first instance in cinema of a killer Santa but it certainly struck home for viewers as it is the story that most people recall with great clarity even years after a viewing. Creepy, chilling and sinister in tone it is a difficult effort to beat.

In 1989 director Robert Zemeckis retold the tale as one of the first episodes of HBO's wildly successful series Tales From The Crypt. Adapted by Fred Dekker and lengthened out to fill a half hour time slot this version throws in a few extra curves, amps up the dark humor and broadens the performances for a more comic effect. The results are still pretty darned good but - as with any remake - the debates will never rest. Listen in as Troy Guinn, John Hudson and I discuss all three tellings of this Holiday Horror. We break down the differences and consider the qualities that each film brings to the table. We dig into the alterations, the motivations and the relative skill each version imparts to the main character as well as the portrayal of the nearly silent killer Kringle.

As is usual for the three of us, we get off-track a few times with my show opening gambit of asking about favorite childhood Christmas toys pushing the conversation into odd territory. Who knew a show about an EC Comics Christmas tale would reference The Six Million Dollar Man so frequently? If you want to tell us about your favorite youthful Christmas gift the email address is where we'll be happy to hear what you miss from years gone bye. You can also join us on the Bloody Pit FaceBook page where new links of interest get posted. Thank you for downloading and listening to the show and have a safe and happy Holiday season.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Santa Horror Comic Covers

Often in these comics Santa is exactly the scary thing kids feared - he knows all the secrets! 

Friday, December 08, 2017

Motion Comic of "And All Through The House" - The Vault of Horror #35 (February/March 1954)

Here's a narrated version of the original EC Comics Evil Santa tale done as a very good motion comic. The fellow that crafts these videos of classic horror comic stories is very good at both the presentation of the panel layout and throwing some emotion into the voice-over. This is well done and a great way to 'read' the creepy Christmas story. Happy Holidays! 

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Lon Chaney, Jr Does a Christmas Song! - MONSTER HOLIDAY (1964)

Full confession - I have a major weakness for Christmas music. There are very few traditional carols that I don't enjoy hearing during the festive season and one of my great joys is seeking out the odder holiday hymns to mix in with the classics. Not all of these stranger tunes are going to be considered great but I find that after including them in my Christmas music rotation for a couple of years they eventually fit right in. Maybe this song's bizarre combination of growling monsters and cheerful joy will end up being part of your Holiday Playlist! 

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

THE WEREWOLF AND THE YETI (1975) - Naschy on Blu-Ray

After promising myself on November 30th that in recognition of the anniversary of his death I was going to watch one of the new Paul Naschy Blu-rays that have come out this year, I finally got around to it this week. Certainly better late than never.

The film I chose was one that I haven't watched from beginning to end in a good long while. I saw this movie in the early 1990's as NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST although the title you'll find it under on Blu-ray is THE WEREWOLF & THE YETI. I was really curious to see just how sharp a picture this Blu-ray would have considering that every version I've seen previous to this was (as you might expect) pretty soft and rather visually unexciting. The good news right off the bat is that the film looks absolutely fantastic on the new Scream Factory Blu-ray. I have very few complaints about the visuals of this Blu-ray. Although the film does have a couple of scenes inserted from a lesser quality print (in most cases from a VHS print as far as I can tell) the film is remarkable in it's clarity, sharpness and color. If I were to lodge one complaint against the Blu-ray it would be that several scenes that clearly should have been dimmed down to simulate nighttime have not been filtered so that the day for night shot look correctly dark. This is a little distracting especially when you have the eternal nocturnal beast of a werewolf running around in what is obviously broad daylight.

The most striking thing that is apparent from seeing the film in such a high quality presentation is that all of its better qualities are enhanced but all of its faults are also in stark relief. I've always loved this movie for its entertaining combination of yet another fresh take on the Waldemar Daninsky werewolf tale mixed with action adventure in the Himalayas. The setting and the episodic nature of things makes it somewhat like watching a Paul Naschy werewolf character invade a Republic serial. Indeed, the action sequences in the final 15 or 20 minutes of the film are absolutely a blast to watch and would fit in perfectly with anyone's sense of adventure movie excitement. Just the plain hand to hand combat thrills are amazing to watch even if the enthusiasm of someone coming to this straight from a classic Republic serial might be tempered by the fact that it's spiced up with some pretty graphic violence. I actually expected the special effects and gore to suffer a good bit from such as sharp clean and clear presentation but I have to admit that that did not happen. My appreciation and admiration for the practical special effects in this film has grown considerably with this viewing. There is some really good and quite detailed work here and it holds up very well.

Being a fan of Naschy films and European horror cinema of this period in general means that you're always willing to overlook the particular failings that these films will usually display. Two of these failings are in stark relief in THE WEREWOLF & THE YETI  and can be generally attributed to either budgetary constraints or the director's choices. First is the rather jarring and often sloppy transitions from one sequence of the film to the next. Often I've wished for just a little bit of smoothing to make the narrative flow a little easier - a shot of the darkening sky, the mountainside or really anything to demarcate the point where the story is moving from one group of characters to another. Another problem is that often while watching this movie I feel that certain sequences could have been shot just a little bit differently for much better effect. Usually it's just that I think that everything within the scene is fine but it's framed poorly or it's framed a little indifferently. Of course, as with most of these genre films from this period of time, I always feel that there could have been just a few more inserts shots of characters having reactions to certain things or close-ups of them delivering specific lines just to underline the emotional content within the story. That's true here, especially when you have a group of characters standing around one of their colleagues who's been torn apart in the night by a werewolf and all of the dialogue is done in a single group master shot. Just a few inserts of those actors delivering a couple of those lines could have made the entire sequence much better.

But I sound like I don't like the movie and that is absolutely not true. Just because I see these flaws in this new excellent presentation doesn't mean that I don't really love this movie. I'm very pleased to see that Scream Factory took the time to reinsert the nude sequences in the movie and am especially happy that they inserted the one nude scene that changes the nature of a certain mystery that Troy and I had when we first viewed this film for the NaschyCast. What we were watching and reviewing at the time was the American VHS version without the nude sequences (very frustrating, let me tell you) but that cut of the film is missing a key scene that shows us that Daninsky and his female companion in the movie have a sexual relationship. Since Troy and I had wondered if this character was a virgin, we surmised that might be what allowed a certain neat little trick at the end of this movie to happen. Knowing that she certainly wasn't a virgin answered a big question and kind of made the magical flower at the end a little more interesting and strange. Let's just say that not all fairy tale ideas necessary adhere to classic expectations within a Spanish horror film.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

And All Through The House - TALES FROM THE CRYPT

For the annual Holiday Horrors episode of The Bloody Pit my co-hosts have chosen the creepy Christmas story first published in Vault Of Horror #35 way back in 1950. There have been two adaptations of the tale and we're going to take a look at both of them. I also hope to wedge in some discussion of the original comic version. Above is the second version of the story done for the HBO series Tales From the Crypt, just in case you've never seen it. Look for the new podcast in a week or so. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Trailers From Hell - I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (1957)

Hopefully one day we will get a digital release of this great little film. At that point we can all stop watching those crappy versions ripped from the old VHS.