Monday, February 21, 2011

Bodacious, the bull that won.

I was just thinking about Bodacious today. I'm no bullriding expert, but I love his story.

My brother committed some acts of rodeo and told me about Bodacious.
Only six bullriders ever made the 8 seconds riding Bodacious. He had 127 wins and was finally retired in 1995 after injuring two of professional rodeo's finest. It is said that many of Bodacious' wins came from rider's simply bailing off him, out of fear.

As if he wasn't badass enough, in early 1995 Bodacious learned a new trick. Stutter steps and steep downward thrusts forced rider's faces forward, while quick, angry, backtastic head jerks slammed the rider's face into the back of Bodacious' dome. Tuff Hedman had every bone in his face broken by the move and said, "by the end he (Bodacious) was basically a cheap shot artist who would Sunday punch you.” Scott Breding wore a hockey mask and still had his nose and both eye sockets broken.

Bodacious was retired a couple of days after the Scott Breding ride. No one wanted to ride him. 

You can find a short biography of Bodacious here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Great Silence can now be heard.

Alex Cox just directed me to this amazing YouTube video. Someone has found the audio for the "happy" alternate ending to The Great Silence (Il grande silenzio.)

Another kind person created subtitles. Just hit the small "cc" button and viola.

I love how Frank Wolff saves the day. He was such an underrated Spaghetti Western actor. He was an American actor who followed Eastwood and Van Cleef to Europe to make films. He had some success but the nightmare of depression caught up with him and he killed himself in 1971.

I don't know a lot about the French actor, Jean-Louis Trintignant, who played Silence. He is still alive today. The Great Silence was his only Spaghetti Western.

You know I'm a Klausophile and Klaus Kinski is at his smugtastic best in The Great Silence as Tigrero, the bounty killer.

Any Spaghetti Western fan worth his weight in bullets has The Great Silence in their Top 10 list. It's a classic of the genre and while this ending is just horrible for the story, finding the audio is pretty exciting for us SW dorks.

Now if we can just find copies of VAMOS A MATAR SARTANA (incredibly rare, but rumors persist that there are copies out there), CHRYSTANTHEMUMS FOR A BUNCH OF SWINE (not even a hint of a copy still existing,) and A GUNMAN CALLED DAKOTA (supposedly there are film reels but no VHS or DVD releases.)

Hone hone waltz.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

R.I.P. David F. Friedman (1923-2011)

David F. Friedman died on Valentine's Day. If you enjoy splatter or gore films, Mr. Friedman is one of the people you have to thank for the genre.

Working as a producer with his longtime partner, Herschell Gordon Lewis, as director, the duo had recently moved from making nudie cutie films to roughies. Friedman had said that for one scene they needed a little fake blood for a scene. When the blood arrived, it ended up being a literal bucket of blood. Always on the lookout for providing fare that the major studios wouldn't touch, Friedman and Lewis took a page from The Grand Guignol and came up with the story for Blood Feast, the first gore film.

Filming began in March, 1963 with a budget of just under $24,500. The story involves an Egyptian high priest, Fuad Ramses, butchering his way through Miami's ladies in the effort to resurrect Ishtar, an ancient Egyptian goddess. The cops find him, chase him, he hides in a the back of a dump truck and gets crushed. The film starred Playboy Playmate, Connie Mason as the final girl.

Blood Feast premiered on July 6, 1963. Critics puked at the film. His wife called it "vomitous." So, Friedman provided barf bags at the theaters. The film was a huge success. IMDB has the nice well rounded gross at $4,000,000, but I've always heard it grossed over seven million dollars. The film played almost continuously on the drive-in circuit for the next fifteen years.

Friedman and Lewis worked together on a few more films. Their second splatter film, Two Thousand Maniacs is even better than Blood Feast, in my opinion, and a true classic of the genre. Their last collaboration rounded out their gore trio. Color Me Blood Red, wherein an artist learns the blood of ladies makes a wonderful additive to his oil paints. Several other production companies started ordering their own buckets of blood and painting beautiful young virgins in gore. The genre exploded. Friedman and Lewis parted ways.

Friedman went on to produce many more exploitation classics. She-Freak, a modern retelling of Tod Browning's, Freaks, is a personal favorite.
I think, Friedman was THE master of film titles. How could you not want to see: Scum of the Earth, Nude Django, The Big Snatch, The Acid Eaters, Thar She Blows!, A Smell of Honey, a Swallow of Brine?
In 2002 Friedman and Lewis reunited to film Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat.

Below is the blood drenched trailer for Blood Feast. There is a better quality version on YouTube but it is not embeddable.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dracula.

Happy birthday, to one of the great Universal horror films. Dracula premiered 80 years ago today, opening at New York's Roxy Theatre on Thursday, February 12, 1931.

It took Universal two years and $40,000 to obtain the rights for the picture from Bram Stoker's estate. There have been rumors that the star of the stage version, Bela Lugosi assisted Universal in their dealings with the Stoker estate, however I emailed Dracula expert and horror historian, David J. Skal about this and he said,

The play version of Dracula earned over two million dollars. Despite being the star of the stage play, Bela Lugosi was far from the first choice in the part of Dracula, for producer, Carl Laemmle Jr. Several other actors were considered, but fortunately for Lugosi he was in Los Angeles, traveling with the stage production and could lobby for himself. He begged and haggled, and only earned the role when he agreed to work for a pitiful $500 a week for seven weeks of shooting. Thirty-five hundred bucks, OUCH.

Production of the film was chaotic. Director, Tod Browning was pouty from not getting a chance to work with his choice for the Dracula role and one of the biggest stars of the time, Lon Chaney. Chaney had died. Actor David Manners said that Browning did not talk to the actors and was frequently missing. Manners said the limited amount he was "directed" was by Cinematographer, Karl Freund.

Another interesting fact is that when the crew was done filming each day a separate crew came in at night and shot a Spanish version of Dracula simultaneously. The versions are a bit different from each other. The Spanish version is longer by about 30 minutes. Some scenes are cross cut to build tension instead of run one after the other. The actress' showed a little more cleavage and the vampire women in the beginning are actually the ones to bite Renfield. The lighting is also much moodier. I believe the "Legacy" DVD of the Spanish Dracula also has a better original print source. I feel like it's trendy to say that the Spanish version is better, but I really think it is. It was also shot for $66,000 versus the Tod Browning one which was shot for $355,000.

I'm not sure of the date of the Spanish Dracula's opening or where it opened.

I did not know much about the Roxy Theater in New York. I was surprised to learn that Dracula only ran for eight days there. I was shocked to learn that The Roxy Theatre held nearly six thousand movie-goers! Dracula sold nearly 50,000 tickets in the first two days. Can you imagine getting there a little late, "Sorry bud we only got seats in the 626th row."

Universal opened the picture on a Thursday, to avoid any Friday the 13th publicity. They were not sure how the public would react to a straight horror film. Previous horror films had either had some comedy or the story would end up being a nightmare or flashback. This was in your face horror, 1931 style!

My buddy, Vince, also wondered about the curious opening date for Dracula. Why didn't they open the film on Valentine's Day? After all, the tag for the film was, "The Story Of The Strangest Passion Ever Known!" He found this harsh, but funny, paragraph in John T. Soister's Of Gods and Monsters:
"Tod Browning, master of the macabre, showman extraordinaire, moved Dracula's debut up a day, to the more emotionally neutral February 12. The logic of a move to Valentine's Day is so compelling that most fans remain positive that's when the film opened. While narrating the TV special 'Lugosi: The Forgotten King,' even Forrest J. Ackerman maintained that the picture, billed as a Gothic romance, 'premiered Valentine's Day in 1931.' Once again, Browning had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. How fitting that the next genre outing for the original Man with His Head up His Ass was MGM's Freaks."

After it's run at the Roxy, Dracula opened nationally in March.

While it's a classic and one of my favorites, it's hard to imagine the good folks in the 1930's actually being scared while watching this film. In my email to David J. Skal I asked about the rumors that people fainted from the horror and he replied:

Here's a review of the film from 1931:
"Treatment differs from both the stage version [by Deane and John Balderston] and the original novel [by Bram Stoker]. On the stage it was a thriller carried to such an extreme that it had a comedy punch by its very outre aspect. On the screen it comes out as a sublimated ghost story related with all surface seriousness and above all with a remarkably effective background of creepy atmosphere.
Early in the action is a barren rocky mountain pass, peopled only by a spectral coach driver and shrouded in a miasmic mist. Story proceeds thence into a tomb-like castle. In such surroundings the sinister figure of the human vampire, the living-dead Count Dracula who sustains life by drinking the blood of his victims, seems almost plausible.
It is difficult to think of anybody who could quite match the performance in the vampire part of Bela Lugosi, even to the faint flavor of foreign speech that fits so neatly. Helen Chandler is the blonde type for the clinging-vine heroine, and Herbert Bunston plays the scientist deadly straight, but with a faint suggestion of comedy that dovetails into the whole pattern."

Posters from Wrong Side of the Art.
Thanks to David J. Skal for helping me with some of the research. Be sure to check out his site.
Thanks to my friend, Vince, for some of the fine research.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lady Aiko's Lady Butterfly.

Intergalactic network, meet Lady Butterfly, a fairy of the street. One of my favoritest artists, Lady Aiko, worked with Tomenosuke Sho-ten to create this beautiful 10" plastic resin piece. Lady Butterfly is based off of one of my favorite Lady Aiko pieces (see below.)
It sounds like Lady Butterfly is hitting the streets right at midnight on Valentine's Day. She's $500 and you'll have to act super fast as this first silver edition is only a 10 piece run.

Click here for more information.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shat on Shat.

In case you were wondering what William Shatner did during the Star Trek off season. He battled his Native American twin brother in a jousting horseby pistol competition to the DEATH.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dripping tower of delight.

Holton Rower and friends create a drip painting tower. A simple, but really cool process.

Thanks to ReverendJoe for finding the video.

The History of Universal's Frankenstein Monster.


While Mary Shelley's Frankenstein takes place in the 1790's, it can be hard to identify when the Universal Frankenstein films take place. Costumes, cars, guns, and other props were current to the time period each film was made. 

According to Frankenstein's second assistant, Karl, the body used for the Bride of Frankenstein died in "1899." Her body was old and Karl had to wipe away a lot of dust in order to read the date on the coffin. This is a solid foundation for beginning to date the films. 
Dr. Henry Frankenstein.

In The village of Frankenstein, in 1900, Dr. Henry Frankenstein and his assistant Fritz stole pieces of various corpses to create a single body. Fritz stole an "abnormal" criminal brain from the nearby Goldstadt Medical College.
Using "the great ray," a ray beyond the known spectrum, Henry Frankenstein gave his monster life.

The Monster killed Henry's old medical professor, killed Fritz, killed a young girl, and wreaked havoc on the town.
Henry Frankenstein and some villagers gathered. They chased the Monster to an abandoned windmill where Henry confronted the Monster. A fire started. The Monster threw Henry Frankenstein to the villagers below. The windmill went up in flames.
The Monster fell into a pit below the burned and collapsed windmill. Henry Frankenstein also survived his fall from the top of the windmill.

As Henry Frankenstein recovered, another of of his old professors visited him, Dr. Pretorius. They agreed to work together to continue Frankenstein's research.

Dr. Pretorius.

Henry and Elizabeth were married.

The Monster lived, hiding, in the forest. Eventually, he stumbled upon a friendly, blind, recluse. The Monster stayed with him and learned to talk.
Some lost hunters came along and broke up the love fest. The Monster fled and met Dr. Pretorius who revealed his plans to make the Monster a mate.
Henry Frankenstein and Dr. Pretorius created a female monster.
The Monster met his bride. She screamed and was repulsed by him.
The Monster destroyed the lab. Henry Frankenstein escaped but Dr. Pretorius, the bride, and the Monster were buried as the entire castle crumbled down onto them.

Henry Frankenstein and his wife Elizabeth had two sons, Ludwig and Wolf. At some point Wolf moved to the U.S. and Ludwig moved to the nearby town of Vasaria.

Around 1939, the elder Frankensteins died. The elder Ludwig passed the Frankenstein inheritance to his younger brother, Wolf.

Wolf Frankenstein, came from the U.S. to the village of Frankenstein to claim his inheritance.

Ygor introduces Dr. Wolf Frankenstein to his father's secret love child.

Wolf began experimenting in his father's lab and discovered that a sulfur pit lie beneath the lab.
Wolf met Ygor, a local murderer. Ygor had been tried and hung, but somehow lived, living life with a curled, heinous looking broken neck.

Ygor had been taking care of the Monster who survived the destruction of the lab many years ago.
However, the Monster was currently unconscious and Ygor could not revive him. He asked Wolf Frankenstein to help him, to help the creature. Wolf agreed.

When the Monster awakened, only Ygor could control him. The Monster could no longer talk.
Ygor sent the Monster to kill the jurors who convicted and hung him.
The Monster murdered his way through town.

Wolf discovered Ygor's plan and tried to stop him. Ygor attacked Wolf. Wolf shot Ygor.
The Monster discovered that Ygor had been shot and went on a rampage. He kidnapped Wolf's young son.

The Monster kidnaps Wolf's son.

Wolf saved his son by kicking the Monster into the sulfur pit below his lab.
Wolf Frankenstein, his wife, and his son all returned to the U.S.

Ygor survived being shot by Wolf Frankenstein. A couple months later, the villagers raided Castle Frankenstein and smashed it up. Ygor escaped through a tunnel below the castle.
Ygor freed the Monster from the sulfur pit below the lab. The Monster was weak but gained some power from taking a hit of lightening in a grand storm. The Monster was still weak, though.

Ygor and the Monster arrive in Vasaria to meet the Monster's oldest brother.

Ygor and the Monster went to Vasaria, where Ludwig Frankenstein, the eldest son of Henry Frankenstein lived and worked. He lived with his adult daughter Elsa.

The Monster wandered off from Ygor and caused terror in the town. He was apprehended by the Vasarian authorities. He was put in the care of Ludwig Frankenstein.

Ludwig's father, Henry Frankenstein, visited him as a ghost and encouraged Ludwig to continue his work. Ludwig had Henry Frankenstein, and his younger brother, Wolf Frankenstein's notes.
Ludwig agreed to operate on the Monster.

Ludwig's evil assistant and Ygor sabotaged the operation and placed Ygor's brain in the Monster's body.
Ludwig realized this when Ygor's voice came out of the Monster's body. However, Ygor's blood didn't match the Monster's and the Ygor Monster went blind.
The Monster killed Ludwig.
The Vasarian villagers raided Ludwig Frankenstein's manor. The Monster smashed some equipment and started a fire. The Monster blistered and burned.

Second to Kharis, Ygor is my favorite Universal "monster."

Around 1939, Lawrence (Larry) Talbot returned to his home of Lanwelly Village. Talbot was bitten by a werewolf and lived. He became the Wolf Man.

Larry Talbot was "killed" by his own father and buried. In 1943, two graverobbers mistakenly resurrect Larry Talbot.

Larry Talbot's unconscious body was discovered by police in Cardiff, Wales. Talbot was brought to the nearby hospital and he was attended to by Dr. Mannering. Larry Talbot tried to convince everyone that he was The Wolf Man, but no one believed him. Larry Talbot escaped from the hospital.

Larry Talbot traveled to Vasaria, searching for Henry Frankenstein's diary. He could not find the diary.
Talbot turned into the Wolf Man and accidentally fell into the castle's basement catacombs. He discovered the Monster there. The Monster was not completely blind but did stumble about much more with his arms outstretched. His facial features had also changed.

Interestingly, after Ygor's brain was put into the Monster's dome, the Monster began to look a bit more like Ygor. Hmmmm.

The Monster did not know where the notes were. Talbot hatched a plan.
Talbot contacted Ludwig Frankenstein's daughter, Elsa Frankenstein, who no longer lived in Vasaria. He needed those notes.

Elsa traveled to Vasaria. Elsa refused to help Larry Talbot.

During a village celebration, the Monster crashed the party. Dr. Mannering had tracked Talbot to Frankenstein Village. Elsa was shocked to see the Monster. She agreed to help Talbot.
Dr. Mannering agreed to help as well. Elsa gave them her grandfather's diary.

Mannering's plan was to drain the energy from Talbot and the Monster. However Mannering got power crazy and wanted to see the Monster at full strength.
Just as the Monster got to full strength, Talbot turned into The Wolf Man. The Monster carried off Elsa and was then attacked by the Wolf Man.
The creatures fought. Dr. Mannering and Elsa Frankenstein escaped.
A mad villager blew up a local damn which wiped out Castle Frankenstein for good.

The Monster and Dr. Niemann. Dr. Niemann's older brother worked for Henry Frankenstein. Could he have been an assistant working with Henry before Fritz was, that died in a horrible accident and Henry used his head for the Monster and that's why the Monster's face looks a lot like Dr. Niemann's and then, only through sulfur pits, burning, drownings, facial fractures, Ygor brain transplants, etc. Niemann's brother/the Monster became unrecognizable to Dr. Niemann? I didn't think so either.

In 1944 a man named Dr. Niemann escaped from prison after spending 15 years there. His brother had been an assistant to Henry Frankenstein.

Dr. Niemann traveled to the wrecked remains of Castle Frankenstein. Under the castle, entombed in ice, he and his assistant, Daniel, found the Monster and Larry Talbot. Niemann and Daniel set them free in the hopes that one of them could lead them to the notes of Dr. Frankenstein.
Talbot found Henry Frankenstein's diary for Dr. Niemann. Niemann agreed to try and cure Talbot's lycanthropy.
They all traveled to Dr. Niemann's old lab in Visaria (not Vasaria.)
Talbot became the Wolf Man and wreaked havoc.
The villagers threw themselves into a panic and began to organize.
Niemann resurrected the Monster.
The Wolf Man was shot with a silver bullet and appeared to die in the forest of Visaria, just outside Dr. Niemann's home.
The Visarian villagers raided Dr. Niemann's home. They chased the Monster and Dr. Niemann into some marshlands.
They set fire to the marsh. The Monster and Dr. Niemann got caught in quicksand and disappeared.

The Monster and Dr. Niemann escape the Doctor's burning house. 

In 1945, Larrry Talbot, returned to Visaria. He came to ask Dr. Edelmann to cure his lycanthropy. Dr. Edelmann was not sure he could.
Talbot, despondent, attempted suicide by jumping off a coastal cliff into the ocean.
Talbot was swept by the tide into a cave which ran below Dr. Edelmann's property.
Dr. Edelmann searched the cave for Talbot. He found Talbot alive. He and Talbot found the Frankenstein Monster, and the corpse of Dr. Niemann, covered in sand. Having a bit of a brain fart, Edelmann confuses an old legend with the story of Dr. Niemann and the monster which occured only a year ago.
Dr. Edelmann also discovered an old dungeon under his house.
Dr. Edelmann brought the Monster to his laboratory and began to revive the Monster. However, he decided that reviving the Monster would be a great danger to mankind and he stopped.

That beautiful mug keeps a changin.

Soon after, Dr. Edelmann went mad and began experimenting on the Monster again.
In his madness, Dr. Edelmann murdered a local man. The Viserian villagers mobilized.
Dr. Edelmann made the Monster "Stronger than a hundred men." The villagers began to raid Dr. Edelmann's home. Larry Talbot started a fire to stop the Monster.
The Monster burned.

In 1948 a Mr. McDougal, owner of McDougal's House of Horrors had the bodies of Dracula and the Monster shipped in crates, to his location in La Mirada, Florida.
An agent of Dracula, Dr. Mornay intercepted the bodies and brought them to her island castle. Dr. Mornay had the notes of one of the Dr. Frankensteins.

Dracula and the Monster were still alive in the crates.

Wilbur Grey meets Dracula.

Dracula wanted to control the Monster by placing the brain of a moron into the Monster.
Dr. Mornay seduced a local baggage clerk named Wilbur out to her island castle.
Larry Talbot, had followed Dracula and the Monster to Florida and attempted to save Wilbur with Wilbur's friends. However, he turned into the Wolf Man.

The Monster received an electricity power boost as Dracula and the Wolf Man fought.
The Monster murdered Dr. Mornay.
Dracula turned into a bat and attempted to fly away, but the Wolf Man grabbed him and they both fell over a balcony to some rocky seas below.

While Wilbur and his friends attempted to flee. The Monster chased them to the island's small dock.
The dock was set on fire and the Monster burned. The pier collapsed and the Monster disappeared under the water never to be seen again.

The monsters gather for one last battle royale.

So, somewhere off the coast of Florida, the Monster still lies. Unless he was hit with a random bolt of lightening. He may be stomping around the swamps somewhere.

There are a ton of continuity errors between these films. This little story constitutes a best effort on my part to reconcile, ignore, and steamroll over some of the glaring inconsistencies to create a viable and coherent eight film epic.

Thanks to my buddy, Vince, for help with research.
I swiped all of the pics from various places on the intergalactic network. One sweet resource for information and pics is the Classic Horror Film Board. A user there, with the handle Rakshasa, has been unendingly kind enough to post a pile of wonderful Universal stills.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My favorite wrestling promo of all time.

I don't realy know who Bruiser Brian is, but damn he give good promo. He's gotta be cracked out or something.