Archive for February, 2017



il_570xn-629277202_cozfNot being able to read to confirm the truth, and having attempted to quit caffeine and cigarettes, a nervous Rick Shaw had heard through the grapevine that his cinema mentor and landlord was infatuated with a second sequel/third movie that the world despised…

Word is, when you did the super epic review of JAWS 3D on Cult Film Freak, along with a few criticisms there’s a deep adoration beneath… Is this true?

First off: During that time, the early eighties, the 3D gimmick was very popular. Like the 1950’s, it was all about things coming at the screen, and being used for a JAWS film, you’d think the shark would be the main vessel to pop out at the audience, like the advertisement marquee in the second Back To The Future. Instead, probably due to the attempt of making the shark look real, up close, which was always a problem, only background props, like dragon heads decorating the underwater tour, are thrust upon the audience for them to reach their hands out at; a perfect smiley icebreaker on a first date. Or the very beginning when, instead of a suspenseful slaughter of a teen girl skinny dipping, or showoffs photographing Quint’s sunken Orca, in its perspective, the shark beheads a small fish… Pretty weak stuff…

But you like the movie, right? Or love it, even… Which is mind-boggling!

Calm down and we’ll take a stab at answering the overall big question… What makes JAWS 3D a movie that is very enjoyable and thoroughly addicting, and far more pleasurable than what’s called a Guilty Pleasure, has to do with a man who created his very own Sub-Genre: Irwin Allen’s big screen Disaster Films had pretty much ended with the very underrated WHEN TIME RAN OUT, but there were still TV movies with an eclectic all-star cast frantically stuck in a dire circumstance: Herein there’s not a cruise ship upturning or a giant building burning but a grandiose Sea World type of place, so ahead of its time there’s a parenthetical aura of Science-Fiction throughout…

So while the 3D aspect is pretty embarrassing, the third JAWS also fails to fill the shoes of not the Spielberg JAWS, which is a complete impossibility, but the semi-solid JAWS 2 that covered the teen body count sub-genre decently enough, and continuing my defense from the original site that got you so concerned, JAWS 3 had absolutely nowhere to turn but to make the location a gimmick rather than the creature or its sporadic human snacks, and it didn’t fail, entirely.


Autographed by Joe Alves

Okay, so… Do you think the Irwin Allen touch was intentional?

It was more of a shove, and, it was mentioned, in person… to director Joe Alves who just nodded his head vacantly, and not necessarily in agreement. More of an, “Ok, fine, I accept that theory.” Interesting fella. Had a bunch of storyboards for all three JAWS flicks. He was really short and my personal nick name for him was “The Wizard of JAWS” since he’d done everything, from making the shark to finally getting his chance to direct. So it probably wasn’t intended to be a Disaster flick involving a killer fish, and there is hardly an all-star cast. Dennis Quaid, as Chief Brody’s grownup oldest son, and his girl, Bess Armstrong as well as Leah Thompson and… Archie Bunker’s wife’s son weren’t even as familiar as Louis Gosset Jr. (who hadn’t won an Oscar yet) or Aussie heartthrob Simon McCorkindale; the first playing the Murray Hamilton “We need to keep the park open to make money at all costs!” and the Robert Shaw shark killer role, combined with an attention loving Geraldo Rivera exploitive journalist. But, long story short, what the director did create, somewhat successfully, was making the grandiose Water Park seem like an attraction where nothing could or would or should go wrong: its success not only important to Gosset’s bigwig capitalist but everyone employed, and to the public…

In Irwin Allen disaster movies, the first half introduces the characters while the second deals with the problems that occur in pockets along the way. Same exact thing happens here while the suspense, channelled into this particular plot-line and straying from the shark itself, beats the pants off of a current blockbuster that borrowed the idea: a large creature running amok and turning JURASSIC WORLD into shambles: A god-awful film that received excellent reviews, especially compared to this maligned disaster, or better put, Bonafide Disaster film that, while being pretty corny, campy and unbelievable, got an unfair shake and yet still holds up as a breezy piece of afternoon time-filling cinema, dammit. And that’s that! So don’t quit smoking till you’re old like me, and get wired on some coffee and take a look at the second JAWS film… Or if you already have, taken it in again and, see what you think…




Year: 1972

A stressed Rick Shaw couldn’t believe that his movie mentor… no matter how deep into camp cinema… would consider a movie with this title a low budget classic…

Seems the movie FROGS gets a lot of flack, especially for the title, allowing the camp value to be revealed right up front… Do you think, in the history of cult cinema, FROGS should be, or should have been, more respected?

One time, a few years back, while shopping in a supermarket, there was a kid. around ten or eleven, who saw the DVD of FROGS in one of those bargain racks, and the way he looked at the cover was a wonderful thing to experience. And he had guts, that boy; picking up the case and carrying it over to his mother. Being far away I saw and couldn’t hear as he lifted it up to her; obviously asking if she’d buy it for him. I predicted her head would shake, and that was that. The poor little guy, curious about that brilliant cover with a frog having swallowed everything except the victim’s hand, could have learned a lesson on how movies were made before computers and, well… hell… he’d probably have hated it so, maybe mommies do know best after all.

And doubling back to your question: FROGS is the perfect title but what makes it an instant punchline is that these creatures, except for the rare poisonous ones, don’t have the cinematic potential of a shark or, a lion or, a swarm of bees. How the film is pieced together means everything. The reptiles are all photographed, poised on nature, aiming themselves, or rather… seeming to be aimed towards the New Orleans mansion, draped in idyllic shade by immense trees from a surrounding swamp, and most important, owned by corporate polluter Ray Milland, whose family are an eclectic lot of spoiled rich folk – the kind that Tennessee Williams thrived on. Perhaps NIGHT OF THE FROG would have been a better title. Then again, his IGUANA movie was hardly scary at all!

Well it wasn’t mean to be… oh, you’re joking, sorry… Anyhow, what your’e saying is, FROGS is more character than creature-driven? 

It’s actually both. Pretty much an equal, perfect hybrid as the family, through dialogue and movement, show their true color as human beings, not being able to sleep because of the noisy frogs at night so they had started to poison them the day before. The only real good guy is Sam Elliott’s freelance nature magazine photographer, Pickett Smith, who, having been brought into a July 4th party after an accident involving his canoe and a beer-rowdy speedboat, isn’t smug and preachy like he would be if FROGS were made today… the reptiles, from all kinds of lizards to turtles to alligators, get nastier and nastier yet it never seems contrived or forced. The camera eye’s manipulation of these cold-blooded antagonists occur thanks to cinematography. Moving Pictures in a literal sense. And the amount of time between showing the actors in their day-lit exterior stage play and the reptiles gets shorter in length as the story intensifies… My God, this is beginning to sound like a David Lean picture!


Cool Foreign Poster

What some consider hell others call heaven, and yet, there aren’t very many FROGS fanatics out there: How do b-movie buffs compare FROGS to other Eco Horror flicks? 

Eco Horror. A genre within a genre. And to hell with them because FROGS is one of the best of its kind in an era that was sort of continuing the work done in the 1950’s. As for the cast – there’s a secondary couple other than Elliott and Milland’s pretty perfect girl daughter played by Joan Van Ark… Two actors that have passed on, Lynn Borden recently and Adam Roarke years ago, who also appeared together in DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY and THIS IS A HIJACK, have important supporting roles without existing merely to back the leads. Both play has-been high school beauties; she’s just beginning to show some age, and he winds up scoping out a younger woman, and not in a subtle manner. There’s even a conversation with the couple inside their bedroom (or a guest bedroom), talking about a hopeful inheritance. They’re soap-opera-interesting enough to like despite being completely selfish and… unlikeable. Even Elliott is drab and impersonal.

It’s been a while… There were actually alligators in this? 

Unfortunately, yes. One, or two. And it’s a shame because once the family dwindles down, it’s a kind of cheat or short cut to get rid of the excess baggage using large and powerful creatures. Even before the Robert Forster cult classic, ALLIGATOR, it was a bit much having what could have done a lot more damage all along. In other words, with a group of these ferocious and powerful, leftover dinosaurs, why would any of the small lizards matter at all? But hey, why argue a bizarre masterpiece? Oh and here’s some words from that very nice lady, actress Lynn Borden on the power of FROGS through the eyes of a victim!


Sam with Adam’s shirt & Lynn’s pic

Okay well, the curtains seem to close once the link goes up and, let’s revisit FROGS one day and get into more scenes with some of the other side-cast including the guy who played Roarke’s weakling nephew, who was abused by his convict boyfriend in a strange Cornel Wilde flick called SHARKS’ TREASURE and, anyway, here’s one last question centered on Sam Elliott… For a guy that usually bursts right through the screen, even when playing laidback tough guys, he hardly has a pulse: Do you think it’s intentional? 

First off, this was before he grew the signature mustache; one that would eventually resemble a Wookie janitor’s push broom. And second, he’s the main character, so this is what we refer to as The Frozen Lead, usually occurring when there’s a lot of others around… The life of the party doesn’t always throw the party given the stress of ownership… Actually, in a technical sense, Ray Milland does that so Sam is actually the Buried Lead here… But given the part as a stranger in a strange land, he remains constantly level-headed, even during an intense, frantic and deadly situation. And while he does a fine job, it must be difficult for any really good actor to hold back so much while others step into the light. He keeps a poker face and lets Milland hold the real cards despite that character being subjected to a wheelchair… As far as Sam goes, there are plenty of examples of great actors who, early on, toned themselves down almost too much… And many think this is done on purpose, or, in spite… But it’s unlikely that an actor or actress would think, “I know I’m in a preposterous turkey so I’ll suck real bad,” unless they’re already legendary and have nothing to lose, and just want to work. Yet Milland, like Elliot, does a good enough job in the co-pilot’s seat despite receiving first-billing. One of those “We’re lucky to have ’em” situations. Then again, compared to THE THING WITH TWO HEADS, this movie is LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.




Year: 1957

Rick Shaw can’t read, so, not being able to journey through Cult Film Freak for background into, has personally enjoyed a few movies, like LAURA and BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, starring his landlord’s favorite actor, Dana Andrews, but was curious about one of Dana’s better known b-movies that seemed a sort of demotion of cinematic value for such a serious, squared-jawed presence…

What was the science fiction horror British production, CURSE OF THE DEMON, for  Dana Andrews’ career?

A very wonderful thing. But who knows if he felt that way at the time, when he’d veered from the A-list into B-movie status. Obviously he was happy enough with the results since he wanted the director, Jacques Tourneur, back to do THE FEARMAKERS the very next year. Then again, Andrews and Tourneur had worked before, a decade earlier. CANYON PASSAGE was Dana’s greatest Western. And by the way, something to discuss later… Every Western he starred in had to do with a man who goes to the gallows, or is in threat of being hung by some kind of lynch mob or kangaroo court: he or someone else… But this isn’t about cowboys hanging cowboys, sorry…

Well it is about Dana and Jacques… What do you think of Dana’s performance in CURSE OF THE DEMON?

First off, CURSE OF THE DEMON is also known as NIGHT OF THE DEMON. That’s the British version, a longer cut, and those scenes aren’t really necessary, so the movie that’s more widely available, titled with the CURSE, is better: gets to the point at hand, centering on a replacement for a slain English scientist who was about to expose a… what he considers a phony cult of demonologists following one Doctor Karswell, played brilliantly by Niall McGinnis. So the film’s best moments have this elegant, rotund and surprisingly subtle and polite character showing Dana he’s for real and not a trickster or sham, but without fully proving it. There’s a  wonderfully lavish scene where the Bad Doctor conjures up a windstorm during his own mansion daytime party wherein he’s performing tricks for children. When everyone runs inside it is very reminiscent of a film that hadn’t yet been made: Alfred Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS… And hey, wait, your initial question wasn’t even answered, was it?


Insert Art

We’ll get back to it… About what you said: Is there an overall Alfred Hitchock vibe? It sounds like it would given the plot…

Yes and no. Mostly it’s a forerunner to a string of ongoing movies that would become extremely popular the following decade: concerning gadgets and espionage. It’s been mentioned already on Cult Film Freak and Karswell is very much like a stock villain in that franchise. But what can be disclosed here, and isn’t over there, follows up on the Yes to your Hitchcock question. There is a Demon, and we get to see him, all of him, right up front within the first ten minutes, which the director felt was deleting the suspense for the rest of the movie. This would have been much more in the Hitchcock vein had the creature been hidden till at least what we call the King Kong 45-Minute Mark. What remains is a sort of dark comedy blended into the investigative nature of Dana Andrews and ingenue Peggy Cummins’s entertaining and breezy rollercoaster ride that Karswell puts them on. Plus there’s a Film Noir vibe on how Tourneur, who epitomized the genre with OUT OF THE PAST, plays with alley night shadows and the ambiguous nature of the film’s lead and villain. The girl is the only person up front about everything. Her uncle was the scientist killed in the beginning, and while Dana’s in it for his job and eventually, his life… when Karswell gives him the curse so that the Demon will visit in a week’s time… she’s got revenge on the mind.


Didn’t Rune Dana’s Career

Okay, back to basics: How do you rate this for Dana Andrews as far as performance goes?

It’s his best horror flick. Given some of the junk he’d be thrown into later, in the sixties, takes away from the fact that CURSE OF THE DEMON is an incredible movie with just about everything… And it’s got to be said, even from the biggest of fans, Dana’s acting isn’t perfect here. A lot of times it feels like he’s sailing his way through the dialogue, using that perfect voice as a crutch, and when facing immense danger, if you put a glass of sherrie in his hand it’d probably stay filled. But then again… this provides his character a sort of unflinching quality that makes everything else stand out as having to absorb the residual intensity. While Dana isn’t the only person who could have played the part, like in LAURA and THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, his comfortable performance neatly fits within his noted minimalist style: He doesn’t try to take away from what the picture’s really about. In this case, a formidable monster that was actually, arguably, better off experienced at the beginning so that the audience wasn’t depending on that and that alone for closure. What’s important here is the “landing strip” the beast lays out before it rams straight at its victim. While Dana’s non-believing gentleman hero knows nothing of what’s to come, we know everything, and our fears lie on not what will kill him, or how, but where… For in CURSE OF THE DEMON, Where means everything.




Year: 1978

Rick Shaw, who is Jim Tate aka Cult Film Freak’s illiterate basement boarder, had a helluva time figuring STAR WARS out since the opening scroll could’ve been flying paper with squashed flies, but his curiosity about Luke Skywalker in a hod rod flick peaked his interest, and he wanted to get the general story down up front…

So what’s the main plot of CORVETTE SUMMER?

It’s simple, really, and the complications arise during the thrust of the plot wherein Mark Hamill’s lonely auto shop high school senior has to find the prized vehicle he himself made, and that all the class took great interest in after the completion. But like all great movie pawns… a character who goes on a trip and bad things happen like falling dominoes… it’s he alone that has to search, going from California to Las Vegas.

Of all the films that wind up in Las Vegas, or even the ones that begin and end there or stay-put the whole time, what distinguishes CORVETTE SUMMER?

Las Vegas is shown mostly during the daytime. The buildings are like skeletons of great beasts; monstrous bones burning in the sun, casting their shadows upon this very little guy in comparison to everything… even back home. It makes the location more of a desolate zone than a hotbed for partying and good times. In one daylight scene, Kenny’s sitting Indian style, writing to his auto shop teacher, and it’s as, even with so many cars rolling along… none of them his prime target… he’s in a ghost town. Life is nothing without that Vette.

Does the movie feel like it’s banking on STAR WARS?

Having come out just a year after the blockbuster, and the fact Mark’s face looks freshly put-together after his horrible motorcycle accident, it’s obvious he had a fair amount of time between projects. Movies take months to film and often a year to edit and… get finished as in, get made. If the question is, Are there scenes that have a sort of science-fiction vibe, or actual nods to the audience regarding the George Lucas blockbuster, well, no. But the story of a young man with no meaning being called to a higher purpose to something he’s connected with, and winding up fighting the bad guys, and ending with a literal explosion of the villain’s own vehicle, then, yeah, sure it does link to STAR WARS.


Kenny Keeps His Diary

Every movie has a heavy… Who plays the villain?

That’s an important question, and an even more important answer…First off, the Hidden Big Villain who is revealed as igniting the main one shouldn’t be spoiled. But the bonafide baddie is Kim Milford, who starred in the cult favorite, LASERBLAST, the same year, and he blows up a STAR WARS sign with the laser connected to his arm (Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig’s catastrophic COWBOYS & ALIENS borrowed heavily from LASER even though it’d never be admitted). In this movie, Luke Skywalker, so to speak, causes Kim’s car stealing body shop chief to… well that’s been mentioned already: BOOM!

What’s the best time to watch this movie?

SUMMER is not bad enough for midnight viewings and is perfect during the day, in the morning but late morning. And by the way, it’s almost a worthy drinking film, but the music isn’t very strong, and a good drinking flick needs a few good tunes, like AMERICAN GRAFFITI, PULP FICTION, JACKIE BROWN, OVER THE EDGE, and hell, even NASHVILLE works since the characters represent the bad music so perfectly. But that’s another post entirely.


Great Import Cover

How does SUMMER attempt to be a bad, or, liken to a cult movie?

Well it does try for… pretty much everything. There’s a hot rod exploitation element for car buffs, and they’ve embraced it like surfers have BIG WEDNESDAY, only not as much. There’s a sort of raw, rough chrome hybrid with the glittering of the disco era, and surrounded by a vast desert encompassing the journey-to and the escape-from. And with Annie Potts as a hooker in a 1970’s style van named Vanessa, it also attempts banking on the drive-in theater sexed-up vibe but plays it safe as she has a heart of gold, and merely takes Kenny’s virginity without exposing much.

What are some negative things about the movie?

First off, Mark Hamill is a good actor. He nailed Luke Skywalker because he was the character. Especially in the otherwise maligned RETURN OF THE JEDI where his scenes with Darth Vader and the Emperor, at the very end, are as intense as anything that’s been nominated. But here, a lot of the times he seems to be going through the motions. And yet, with such groovy motion going on, he fits right in. You can say the vehicle not only carries itself but its leading man as well. But no matter what anyone’s opinion is of Mark’s performance, while better actors could have played the role, no one could have fit the movie like Hamill, and yes, plenty of that has to do with its subliminal connection to STAR WARS because CORVETTE SUMMER, his only starring role beyond the far, far away galaxy, is extremely important to the cult phenomenon. And more people need to realize it so check out Cult Film Freak for a more conventional movie review with photos, further connections and philosophies about one of our all=time favs.


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Deadhead Miles

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Author: Jim Mullen Tate


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