Category Archives: movie posters

Warm hands?

  
This ad for William Castle’s 1959 fright flick “House on Haunted Hill” has me all “huh?”

See it with someone with warm hands has a more than devilish meaning, seems like.

Also – a blurb from Louella Parsons? Was Hedda Hopper out of town?

Classic: ‘The Man Who Would Be King’

the man who would be king poster

Did you ever go back and watch a fondly-remembered movie for the first time in 20 years and worry that your memories of it were totally skewed, that it wouldn’t be as good? Or maybe even embarrassingly bad?

I was a little worried about that upon my first re-watching in a couple of decades of John Huston’s “The Man Who Would Be King,” the director’s version of the Rudyard Kipling story of two British soldiers-turned-adventurers-turned-con-men in the depths of colonialism in the late 1800s.

Huston’s film was released in 1975 and is still more than effective in telling its story of two men who start out with nothing more than a plan to get rich off tribal warlords as they leave India and journey to remote Kafiristan, a province of Afghanistan.

The idea is to sell rifles to a warlord, allowing him to more effectively kill his enemies and expand his reach.

But as Peachy (Michael Caine) and Danny (Sean Connery) put their plan into motion, they discover that while they can train a warlord’s troops and stroke his ego, it would just be easier to become the warlords themselves.

Danny – and Connery is wonderfully effective here – believes his own hype and before long is acting like the god-on-earth that his new subjects believe he is.

the man who would be king scene

The story – based by Kipling on a couple of real-life adventurers – is a jarring mix of the old-fashioned and brutal. There’s a quaint framing device to tell the story but the fortunes of war are not kind to would-be warlords and gods.

Christopher Plummer is terrific as Kipling, as is Saeed Jeffrey as Billy Fish, the loyal native who helps the pair.

Seeing Plummer, Caine and Connery so young and vital is great fun and they’re perfect in what seemed like a throwback then that’s even more so now.

1970s cool: ‘Race with the Devil’

race_with_the_devil lobby card

I’m thinking that the vehicular mayhem in “Mad Max: Fury Road” will top that in “Race with the Devil,” but I’m gonna just leave this here to encourage you to check out the latter film if you get a chance.

Directed by Jack Starrett, the 1975 thriller stars Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Loretta Swit and the gorgeous Lara Parker as friends on an RV trip who stumble upon a Satanic ritual and human sacrifice in the middle of Texas.

Then the chase is on.

The leads are great and the wonderful character actor R.G. Armstrong plays the sheriff who won’t believe their story.

It’s a classic.

Welcome to the low-rent universe

war-of-the-colossal-beast

It’s news to no one that shared universes are the big thing in movies right now

Marvel began building its shared cinematic universe in 2008 with “Iron Man” and has announced plans to continue it through at least 2020. Not to mention Marvel’s TV entries in that shared universe, like “Agents of SHIELD,” “Agent Carter” and “Daredevil,” the latter debuting on Netflix in April as the first in a series of “street-level” hero shows that will culminate in a “Defenders” series.

Of course, DC/Warner Bros. are trying to get their superhero universe going; Sony wants a “Spider-Man” universe but I’ll believe it when I see it.

And Universal has announced a shared universe of remakes of its 1930s and 1940s monster films featuring Frankenstein, Dracula and other creatures. I’m still pondering that one for another entry here.

So the other day, a movie company that I’ve never heard of, Cinedigm, announced plans to create, of all things, a shared movie universe. But using what classic cinematic tales?

The 1950s and 1960s exploitation movies of American International Pictures.

Specifically, 10 films: “Girls in Prison,” “Viking Women and The Sea Serpent,” “The Brain Eaters,” “She-Creature,” “Teenage Caveman,” “Reform School Girl,” “The Undead,” “War of the Colossal Beast,” “The Cool and the Crazy” and “The Day the World Ended.”

Strangely enough, I like this idea.

Marvel has this kind of thing perfected, down to an art and a science. I’m not sure DC’s superheroes will ever really come together on the big screen because of, I believe, a wrong-headed approach that seems more like Warner Bros. is ashamed of comic books.

But the AIP films, some of which were originally directed by low-budget auteur Roger Corman?

That’s genius.

Not because the company says it intends to shoot all 10 movies back-to-back from recently-completed scripts. Not because remaking these old AIP classics for cable TV a while back worked so well.

Because these dimly-remembered movies are perfect fodder for the remake machine.

Somebody once said that if you were going to remake a movie, don’t remake a classic. How could a remake of “Psycho” possibly work? (It didn’t.)

But with the AIP flicks, most people won’t be comparing them and, unless the remakes are horrible, they won’t be comparing them unfavorably.

And the idea of a universe shared by the monstrous, mutated “Colossal Beast” and the juvenile delinquents of “The Cool and the Crazy?” How can that possibly work?

The producers say the movies will share “a recurring cast of antiheroes, monsters and bad girls.” I can’t say that’s a bad idea and I base that on what Marvel has done with its movies.

Really, consider how improbable it might have looked, 10 years ago, to propose a shared universe that would include a bone-crunching political thriller, a good-natured space opera, a Nordic fantasy world and a rampaging monster movie. Yet “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the “Thor” movies and the Hulk’s appearances all worked.

Who’s to say those juvenile delinquents won’t end up fighting alien invaders to big box-office returns?

Stranger things have happened.

Classic horror: Universal’s ‘Mummy’ movies

Mummy's_Hand_

It’s hard to imagine how a shambling, vengeance-seeking collection of bones and old cloth ever became a horror film sensation.

And yet: The Mummy.

One of the classic Universal monsters, the Mummy might not have the same level of recognition and shivery admiration as Dracula or Frankenstein or even the Wolf Man, but he’s nevertheless a favorite for some of us, inspiring reboots in recent years and cameoing in movies and cartoons for generations.

Universal’s first entry in the series, “The Mummy,” was released in 1932 and starred Boris Karloff. Made at a time that the world was still fascinated by ancient artifacts discovered – some might say stolen from – ancient Egyptian tombs, the movie was more atmospheric and creepy than monsteriffic.

For me, the best of the Mummy’ moments came with the sequels.

Beginning with the dawn of the 1940s, Universal released four sequels: “The Mummy’s Hand” (1940), “The Mummy’s Tomb” (1942) and “The Mummy’s Ghost’ and “The Mummy’s Curse” (both in 1944).

These movies portrayed the Mummy as a bandage-swathed, limping killer, sympathetic when he’s used by manipulative masters but an inexorable killer – granted, a slowly paced one – that stalks young women who are reincarnated versions of his lost love.

Tom Tyler, who had played Captain Marvel and was best known as a cowboy movie star, played the Mummy, Kharis, in the first sequel. This one was perhaps the creepiest for one of the Mummy’s features: Supernaturally dark eyes visible through gaps in his bandages.

The next three films betray the ever-cheaper budgets Universal was willing to allow for the movies. Each of the four sequels made use of footage from the earlier films, but the practice seemed more standard as the series wore on.

Mummys_Tomb

The three final films in the four-movie sequel series starred Lon Chaney – a star for Universal in “The Wolf Man” following in Tyler’s stuttering footsteps. It was a mark of how quickly Chaney’s star had fallen that he went from playing Universal’s most tortured and likable monster to being unrecognizable as the Mummy.

mummys curse

One of the oddest elements of the series was the passage of time, which meant that later installments took place in the 1970s – albeit a very 1940s-style 1970s.

The time jump was nearly equaled in “say what?” by the switch in locales from Egypt to the United States, finding the Mummy and his masters turning up in first Massachusetts then Cajun country.

As much as I love “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,” there’s something to be said for the comedians’ meeting with the Mummy in 1955 that, for pure and simple thrills and laughs, very nearly beats the A&C classic monsterfest that was originally released in 1948.

jonny quest mummy curse of anubis

As for those cameos: One of my favorite episodes of “Jonny Quest,” the classic 1964 primetime animated adventure series, is “Curse of Anubis,” in which Jonny and the Quest gang go to Egypt when antiquities come up missing and murders are committed. There’s plenty of human villainy, of course, but striding through the mix is a mummy – maybe the Mummy. There’s no doubt the wonderfully atmospheric scenes of the Mummy stalking victims – sights familiar to anyone who had been watching the Universal films in their early TV showings – inspired plenty of goosebumps.

Not bad for a shambling bunch of bones.

Comic Con: ‘Age of Ultron’ poster

avengers ultron poster

And then there’s this.

For Comic Con, Marvel has been releasing pieces of a giant poster promoting next May’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

The final pieces were released today.

And yes, that’s the Vision, as played by Paul Bettany, up in the corner. And he looks to be the proper green and yellow color.

That’s a whole lot of Ultrons.