Great Television Analyzed : Boris Karloff’s THRILLER (1960-1962)

THRILLER is a tv series hosted by the late, great Boris Karloff, that even for fans and students of cinema and television, is more rumored of than actually seen. So imagine my happy surprise to come home from a hard day of work and find the first season of this perennially hard to find show, available on the Roku Streaming Channel for free.

Very much an attempt to ride the popularity of Rod Serling’s TWILIGHT ZONE (1959-1964), THRILLER ran only two seasons, starting out as a crime/thriller series before drifting into pure horror. The show never truly finding its footing or audience, but is remembered fondly by fans of classic television.

After watching the first episode “Twisted Image” I can see why. WoW! As someone watching this episode for the first time, 59 years after it was first aired, I was absolutely riveted. Everything here, works, the cinematography, the direction, the performances, the writing, the undercurrent of sex, dread and desperation… I mean we have seen variations on this theme, in the decades since, and yet this episode  still manages to own every single minute of its 48 minute run-time.

I can only imagine how powerful this episode must have seem in 1960. To a generation just coming off of shows like LEAVE IT TO BEAVER it must have felt nearly X-rated. And yet 60 years removed from that relatively simpler America, the show somehow magically still has power, and is still oddly relevant to our world now. A world of desperate people, doing desperate things, in an attempt to find someone to hold them through the night.

Directed by the esteemed Arthur Hiller, from a teleplay by James Cavanagh, from a novel by William O’Farrell, this is as good a 48 minutes of television as you will find.

And a quick aside about Arthur Hiller, while his cinematic filmography is impressive (see some of his movies below) it is filled mostly with comedies.

It is his little seen early television work that is imbued with this seedy, nightmarish intensity.

Tobruk (1967)The Out of Towners (1970)Miracle of the White Stallions (1963)Man of La Mancha (1972)

Al Pacino, Dyan Cannon, Tuesday Weld, Bob Dishy, and Alan King in Author! Author! (1982)

Liam Nielsen, long before becoming known to a younger generation as a comedic lead, cut his teeth doing serious, often mirthless roles. And this episode of THRILLER is one such role.  He is great here, as is the rest of the cast, but the real draw for me is actress Natalie Trundy, her beauty and fragile madness is the spark, that burns the whole world down.

Just a phenomenal episode. I would buy the boxset of THRILLER on Dvd/BLU-RAY  just to own this episode. It is that good. I put it right up there with the first episode of the original ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS. Now as I mentioned not every episode is a hit. Every great episode seems to be followed up with two mediocre ones, but the series is worth having for the great ones. Try it for free courtesy of Roku, and if as impressed as I, use the link below to get the box-set, while you can.

 

https://amzn.to/2IjIrsF

 

 

 

Currently Watching : DEAD SQUAD TEMPLE OF THE UNDEAD

DEAD SQUAD: TEMPLE OF THE UNDEAD

25 minutes in and the jury is out on this one. I find it intriguing despite the annoying nature of most of the characters. The annoying, brain dead westerner character is one I can definitely do without. The film so far has not been great, a bit too campy and annoying, but I find myself interested in where the film is going. Interested in the shape of the doom they are getting closer to. And the Antagonist equally wears out his welcome.

However the practical effects and makeup are impressive, and how badass one of the characters is around the 40 minute mark keeps me watching when I was ready to write this one off.

I do not like Zombie/Ghoul films as a rule, but this one is different enough (especially the head monster) and truly deranged and yes campy enough, that you just have to be impressed by the absurd weirdness of it.

It becomes far more intriguing than I was initially thinking. Definitely not for everyone but for fans of Peter Jackson’s early horror films like BAD TASTE and DEAD ALIVE, despite my early doubts, Dominik Hauser’s DEAD SQUAD (his debut film) by the end, becomes an absolutely tremendous and fitting homage and evolution of those campy horror classics.

Try it yourself courtesy of Amazon Prime streaming. It is unfortunate movies like this are not getting a DVD/Blu-ray release with Director’s commentary. That’s how B films like this traditionally have endured. Preserved by collectors and fans. In the ephemeral world of streaming,controlled by cold dollars and cents, films like this can disappear without a whisper.

Movie Trailer of the Day : HIGHWAYMEN & TRIPLE FRONTIER

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BODU4MzM2MDAxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDEzNjM0NzM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_.jpg

THE HIGHWAYMEN & TRIPLE FRONTIER– I have not been the biggest fan of Netflix, mostly for their price hikes, but also I have never been a fan of their user interface. But their actual content, since the Marvel/Netflix shows, has over all been sound.

I think the Netflix/Marvel TV Shows,for the most part, were very strong. IRON FIST was an unfortunate misstep (my least favorite show next to the PUNISHER. While loved by many, I found season 1 after a strong start, plodding, one note and unlikable), however DAREDEVIL Season 1 set the action standard, and LUKE CAGE Season 1 and 2 for me set the story standard. I like the places LUKE CAGE went, and I think it holds up the best to repeat viewings, as it has something to say more significant than supposed good guy hits bad guy.  And for me has character growth, the other shows lacked.  I love where LUKE CAGE Season 2 ends, and of all of them, its loss of one more season seems the most unfortunate.

But beyond the Marvel/Netflix collaboration, Netflix is well represented by its new films and straight to Netflix films.

While Will Smith is currently getting the stink eye for his ridiculous look in the live action ALADDIN (what was he and his agent thinking???),  I enjoyed BRIGHT and I have enjoyed other Netflix  branded films such as MUDBOUND and BIRDBOX.

Also Netflix has a great offering of international TV shows from RIPPER STREET to NARCOS to MINISTRY OF TIME.

So I am always open to being impressed by their content. 

And with the latest THE HIGHWAYMEN trailer and TRIPLE FRONTIER trailer, I am very impressed with Netflix’s March Lineup. These two trailers look stellar!

Even though I philosophically am more inclined to the Warren Beatty version of BONNIE & CLYDE, I am open to giving this opposing take a chance. See for yourself here…

Here in First Quarter 2019, FINALLY reflecting on BEST Youtube Channels 2018!

Odd the difference streaming has made to my TV watching habits.

I went YEARS without watching cable TV, or really much of broadcast TV, and not really missing it.

I did not want a cable television bill, so I did either free off the air via the digital antenna or whole seasons of DVD. And I had my unlimited clear broadband modem, so web shows were also an option.

But back in 2013 or 2014 when Roku and Netflix really began to become a thing, I jumped in to the ‘streaming revolution’ and man have I, like most of you, had a blast.

So much so, that last year, after a few years of using Roku to watch the regulars (NETFLIX, HULU, AMAZON PRIME, CRACKLE, TUBI, and SHOUT FACTORY TV to name a few) I checked out a ‘new’ Roku station… YOUTUBE.

Youtube, a thing I avoided like the plague in its web/pc version for YEARS (because of lack of moderation of the sewage like comments section), quickly in 2018 became one of my favorite channels.

I spent more time watching the Youtube Channel and assorted programs on my big screen TV (Thanks to Roku) than just about anything else, with the other two big ones being AMAZON PRIME and HULU.

I still have issues with Youtube (the organization) but the regular joes and joettes, who for the love of it… create this unique and passionate content, these unique channels, well I love it for the same reason I love podcasts.

(Quick shout out to COMIC GEEK SPEAK, EPIC MARVEL PODCAST, KNIFEPOINT HORROR, TWOMORROWS, THE DAILY RIOS PODCAST to name a few)

They exemplify the passionate amateur who shows a better grasp and coverage of the material, then the paid professional pundit. And for the hours of joy they gave me, and others, in 2018 they deserve to be applauded.

And here (in a brief paragraph) are my favorite Youtube shows for 2018:

  1. AFTA COMICS
  2. SILVER-AGED DAVE
  3. REGIE SIMMONS IFBB PRO https://www.youtube.com/user/rsimmons1911
  4. RANDY AND TAYLA
  5. RICH REBUILDS
  6. ALL THAT JAZZ
  7. BRAVE WILDERNESS
  8. FIRST WE FEAST
  9. THE GO2 GEEKS
  10. WALLACE RYAN
  11. WORKOUT
  12. HAANTI
  13. EARL GREY https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1ZtauWih38Lr1aVEXuZybw
  14. JOHN CAMPEA
  15. DS COMICS
  16. METAROG
  17. MINDSMASH https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC87Lj67s_Ht40lvGhtF9iHA
  18. MINORITY MINDSET
  19. OMELETO
  20. POP CULTURE PHILOSOPHERS
  21. PROFESSOR THORGI
  22. RAPID TRAILER
  23. CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT http://www.cerealatmidnight.com/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsVgZNzzvedehALS-dTIFhACereal At Midnight: Pop Culture in Analog
  24. CHYCHO
  25. COMICHYJINX
  26. COMICS WITH BUELLER
  27. DR JOSH AXE
  28. FURY ROAD
  29. LEEKIRBYDITKOCOMICS
  30. THE DELUXE EDITION
  31. UFC AND MMA

If you are unfamiliar with any show above, do a search ( Not at google, please. Try duckduckgo or ixquick.com. Google and Disney should not own everything guys. Spread the love guys. Competition will help keep you free. 🙂 ). These channels are worth your time.

So yeah didn’t want to drag this post out but those are 31 channels that kicked butt in 2018, and I am currently still enjoying in 2019. And more than that, network and reach out to each other, and make it easy for your fellow youtubers and fans to reach you outside of Youtube. Cause you probably have a lot of fans who reach you via a streaming device. Which means they do not see your comments section, and can not post comments, etc. And I have seen a few channels go dark in the brief time I’ve been following Youtube channels, so an old fashioned email link, maybe not as outdated a concept as people say. 🙂

I would hate some of the above channels to likewise go dark, come 2020.

Thanks for looking!!!

If you liked this post, show support by purchasing today’s item via the below link:

 

https://amzn.to/2El13WP – This one is a little more expensive than the standard or usb version, but is worth the additional money due to a faster processor, HDMI port, and Fast Ethernet port. If you already have a streaming device or use a different streaming device, this one makes a great addition to a guest room, or a great gift.

 

Be well out there!

Is the 1st Quarter of 2019 almost done???!! Quick a few last lessons and observations from 2018!!!!

Wow this year has been flying and busy…so I did not have a lot of time to reflect on 2018. So I wanted to say a few words before we get out of the 1st quarter of 2019.

 

2018.

What a year.

Politics, war, human and civil rights conflicts. Losses both subtle and staggering. And also great achievements to balance out the bloody churning of the 24 hour news cycle.

Other places have spoken on those serious points of 2018.

I wanted to speak on mostly light, trivial, personal minutiae that for what ever reason reverberated with me. And may just reverberate with those of you who visit me.

2018 was, despite the unsteady global outlook, personally for me… a good year.

Those I hold dear were well.

And that for me is the main measure of a good year.

So onto the minutiae:

Umm

  • I spent time in Connecticut in 2018, and absolutely loved it. New London, Mohegan Sun, Terrificon 2018. Just a fantastic trip with my better half. So enjoyed the trip so much, that we will be doing it again in 2019. If you are into Comic Book movies, and more importantly classic comic books, from the great Silver and Bronze Age, and their creators, this is the con for you. If you are with family that has only minimal interests in Comics, this Con is definitely for you, because it is held in a stunning Casino, so it is great shopping,, with great food. And the surrounding area is filled with great things to do with your family, from great small town window shopping, to cruises, and tours, and yes… excellent food.
  • 2018 saw me transition from Fire TV back to Roku Premiere+. Which served me great all year with one little caveat.

  • The Roku Premiere + while it offers improved processing speed over earlier models and a handy HDMI port, it also overs a microphone in the  remote for voice control.  As someone who works in tech two of the stupidest things I think you can have in your home, is a camera you can’t turn off ( or be truly certain when it is on) and a microphone that is always recording.
  • Too many people place devices in their home, that a smarter, more prudent, generation would have called illegal surveillance systems (cough – XBOX – cough), but because these systems come marketed as ‘must have entertainment devices’, or ‘AI convenience devices’, too many people are swayed by the sheen rather than the substance, and blithely allow invasive tech into their home without researching that tech, or means to limit violations of same. Just like before you use a car most people pay a reliable mechanic to check out the car, and seasonally tune it up, the same minimum steps should be in place for these smart/iot devices. Have a tech set it up and secure it for you, and ensure it is safe to use. That is just smart consumerism in this day and age of identity theft, and billion dollar companies unable to keep from losing your data.
  • And these are the companies you pay to put an alexa in your home. 🙂 I am not so lazy that I need an Alexa in my house, always listening to answer an inane question, or turn on a light. Such smart technology can be of use, but not when paired with an uninformed and lazy consumer.That is a recipe for your technology owning you, rather than the other way around.
  • Most notably marketing. There are billions made by game/entertainment machines that has NOTHING to do with gaming. But has everything to do with selling your data to the highest bidder. A not locked down gaming machine, is indistinguishable from a state of the art bio-metric spying machine. Indistinguishable.
  • I’m not saying do not have have a video game console in your house. I am saying be informed about the equipment you are putting in your house and how to limit egress by marketers, and privacy violations.
  • Such as the news item a couple years back of people who bought the smart TVs, unaware that it was recording them.:)
  • Smart Devices, are for smart consumers. And most consumers are not smart. I’m not being insulting, but it is a truth the marketing relies on, that people buy off of a glitzy ad, rather than research. On emotion, rather than reason. How else to explain pharmaceutical ads that sell potentially deadly products, to address the most inane issues. They rely on consumers not being smart, and wanting what is new and hip and popular. We must look at the world, with better eyes than that. All of us. Myself included feel the pull to jump aboard the band-wagon, but those are the times we have to pause, and take a step back. And really look and see where the road of good intentions… is leading you. 🙂 . It takes putting in the effort, which is contrary to the marketed status quo of, just ask your phone, or smart device to think for you.
  • For the sake of entertainment this social media generation is relinquishing rights, that took much loss of blood to get. Technology can be great, if you take the time to hold manufacturers accountable, and make the technology truly a tool that you use, rather than visa-versa.
  • All this to say, I swapped out my mic enabled remote for my Roku for a model without a mic. I do not want to talk to machines. I don’t really want machines talking to me. 🙂 And no, I don’t have a smart phone. I work with smart phones, tablets, and laptops, and desktops for a living. I do not need my phone to be a computer, I just need it to make and receive calls. 🙂
  • Having set those ground rules for the Roku, and some other privacy changes enacted, the Roku Premiere + has served me well for all of 2018. And continues to do so in 2019.

Most notably Youtube, a thing I avoided like the plague in its web version (because of lack of moderation of the sewage like comments section), is one thing I am enjoying on my big screen (non-smart) tv, thanks to Roku. The ‘comments free’ Youtube Channel App, on Roku, is easily one of my most watched channels of 2018. More on this in my next installment.

 

 

And we will wrap this streaming heavy look at 2018 up with my 5 favorite Streaming Channels of 2018 from most to least watched.

  1. YOUTUBE

  2. AMAZON PRIME

  3. HULU

  4. NETFLIX

  5. PLUTO TV

Those five channels were pretty much all I watched in 2018.

Youtube I already mentioned what I watched.

As far as Amazon Prime, they have a huge selection of Big Foot, Werewolf, and other obscure horror films, which is my cup of tea. The slasher stuff I have no use for, but a good Big Foot movie, I’m there! So between many hours of movies and trailers, and their great classic and original programming (JACK RYAN season 1 was excellent) they were a solid contender for most popular streaming channel.

HULU allowed us to keep up with broadcast TV, (ex. AMERICAN NINJA) as well as original programing and classic series. Netflix ran a distant fourth for me, but did have some fun shows and movies as well.

Finally PLUTO TV scratched the itch for us when we wanted the Cable experience.

There you go guys, a streaming intensive look at 2018 from herE in the far future of 2019! 🙂

 

Best Short Horror Films of 2019 Week 8!

Best Short Horror Films of 2019 Week 8!

 

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/mPtCeemqdE0/hqdefault.jpg?sqp=-oaymwEjCPYBEIoBSFryq4qpAxUIARUAAAAAGAElAADIQj0AgKJDeAE=&rs=AOn4CLDh_UfxcZNe5u6425f8IB_xRSS0rgCLAP, CLAP– A 2017 short film according to youtube, I just became aware of this one tonight. Directed by Brandon Piskorik and starring Aaron Burt it is everything you want from a 5 minute horror film. A setting, a narrative, a looming dread, and a payoff. It is a fantastic short film, so I was a bit surprised to see even IMDB has no entry for it. And there is seemingly no webpage or online poster image promoting the short. To go to the effort to make a quality film, then to spend no effort to publicize it seems to me a missed opportunity.

Horror while a popular genre, is a hard genre to get right. Get the editing wrong, the timing wrong, the pacing wrong, and it becomes dreary rather than dreadful (in the horrific, hoped for tone, you want your horror film to hit). Piskorik gets it right here. A solid B+. Worth a look.

 

Another worth a look short is DOOR TO PURGATORY, also from 2017 this one is written and directed by Alexandra Balda. There are no surprises here, from frame one this is a pretty straight forward horror tale, but it is told and photographed well, with a protagonist you find likable and want to keep following.

At 13 minutes it is longer than most shorts but is 13 minutes well spent. There are minor things that distract, showing too clearly and too long the horror element, and too much of the mustache twirling villain at the end. But beyond that it is a solid first short film. A solid C+.

And the things the film CLAP, CLAP failed to do to publicize that movie, is not repeated here. As this movie is on IMDB, is a festival circuit participant (and winner) and has a poster. Alexandra Balda is a filmmaker I look forward to seeing more from.

 

Now films that did not make the cut and why:

STICKS- while arguably more professionally assembled than others on this list, what hurts this is what hurts most horror films, whether short or long. People reacting without any commonsense. Seemingly the protagonist is a caretaker. Why she is cleaning the house at night, well people get busy no biggie. So i’ll ignore that. However, why on earth would any sane person go up those stairs given the circumstances of the short? Why would any sane person open a door given those circumstances? they wouldn’t. It is bad, lazy writing, and a waste of everyone’s time. And the movie is an insult to the viewer’s intelligence.

TOOTH MAN- Not as slickly made suffers from the same issue. Characters acting completely braindead. With reason and commonsense seemingly a foreign language. You are babysitting and discover a bag of bloody teeth after a noise, and the possibility of an intruder, any sane person gets the kid and you get out of the house, and call the police/parents from a neighbors house. But no, not in this movie. I understand you need to create a situation of isolation for protagonist and threat, but you do that through smart writing, not lazy writing. On top of that I hate movies where adults lie to kids. Or husbands patronize wives about the obvious crazy stuff that happens in these movies. When those scenes happen they take me completely out of the movie.

 

 

VOD Streaming Movie of the Day : Blake Edward’s Brilliant EXPERIMENT IN TERROR

Glenn Ford and Lee Remick in Experiment in Terror (1962)

Blake Edwards is a name that arguably, if known at all by a modern audience, is known for the PINK PANTHER movies. But true film fans know him as one of the greatest directors of that transitional period between the all powerful studio system and the rise of auteur directors and Independent Film-making.

Cutting his teeth in fast paced, often live television, (his most notable Television work being the excellent and both evocative and ahead of its time PETER GUNN) like his contemporary Don Siegel he brought a frenetic new pace and tempo to film making. Starting with the use of jazz to denote the soundtracks of his film, rather than the more orchestral, staid, European classical influences of earlier films, his films looked to modern composers, most notably Henry Mancini to tell uniquely American tales. Also his use of pacing and editing and shot selection were all revelatory.

And his use of characters of color stands out, one of the earliest directors to use background actors of color in non-stereotypical roles, to show an America peopled with more than just the traditional studio system view of an all white America. Seeing a mixed crowd, or a crowd with people o f color and whites just sharing the same space, as people, while taken for granted today, during the making of this film… it was groundbreaking. And many theaters in the south, the film could not be shown without cuts being done to it.

Anita Loo in Experiment in Terror (1962)

Directors like him, and Don Siegel, and Stanley Kramer and Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Richard Brooks, helped transition a very blinders on/white-washed 1950s America, into the more multicultural 1960s, and they did this through our entertainment, our films and our tv shows.

They, and the actors and editors and writers helped drag a more honest view of the American landscape into the light, a view full of different people and different backgrounds, and different challenges.. Both feeding and being fed by, the civil and human rights battles being fought at home and abroad, their veracity as filmmakers, helped open the door to this concept of film as something progressive and capable of change.

From these new daring Filmmakers like Blake Edwards, we begin to get film-making  that transcends complete artifice, and stereotyping.

We get the French New Wave Films, The Pan African Films, the Neo-Realist films of Italy, and at home we get the Independent Film Movement, to include the Black New Wave Films of the 70s ( dismissively titled Blaxpoitation by people who do not realize that Black Exploitation is the first 60 years of Hollywood Films. Where people of color had no positive representation in films, most films with no persons of color at all, and the few that did have people of color, offered them typically only one token person of Color in a film, in a menial/demeaning role. Actors like Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte and directors like Gordon Parks, and Ossie Davis, helping to pave a view of an America that actually reflected the multitude of people in it, formerly invisible).

It is a thread, the evolution of film, that allows us to evolve from DW Griffith’s 1915’s THE BIRTH OF A NATION (which shamefully was the predominant mindset of Hollywood Film-making, both behind and in-front the camera, for the greater part of the 20th century). An evolution filled with achievements small and large, and filmmakers lauded and forgotten. A lot of films and a lot of filmmakers, and a lot of steps forwards, and moments of stumbling backward, to in a little over a hundred years go from THE BIRTH OF A NATION, to Ryan Coogler’s justifiably lauded BLACK PANTHER in 2018.

Glenn Ford, Lee Remick, and Stefanie Powers in Experiment in Terror (1962)

 

The films of Blake Edward are part of that thread. Not in any overt political manifesto, but just in his love of showing an America peopled with… the people he would see in the streets and in the crowds, his love for a veracity that transcended stereotype.

 

EXPERIMENT IN TERROR, is a pure thriller of a film, with not a wasted pound. And it has people of color in it, not because they are people of color, but because they are people, it is San Francisco of the time, before gentrification, where people you would see, came in multiple creeds and colors. It is a fantastic film that has nothing to do with ethnicity, but everything to do with being true to telling a story in a place and a time.

It is one of Blake Edward’s best films. However, Blake Edwards very rarely made anything that was not a ‘best’ film.

It is a uniquely tense, and thrilling film, even by Blake Edwards standard. I mean the tension in it holds up today. Lee Remick is one of the most beautiful women from an age of beautiful women, and she is also like most of Edwards leading ladies… delivering a phenomenally written and ground breaking tour de force performance.

Also starring the great Glenn Ford, who like the movie does not waste a moment, everything propels the story and the moment. Glenn Ford was one of those actors who never delivered a bad performance, and elevates everything he is in.

A stunning cast. A stunning script. And sumptuous film-making makes for a film that can be watched for free courtesy of AMAZON PRIME this month, but deserves in the age of digital to be owned on DVD/Blu-Ray.

 

Get your copy here:

Experiment in Terror [Blu-ray]

https://amzn.to/2Gk6ZS8

I would also recommend picking up the gorgeous poster with the stunning Lee Remick as well as the CD and Album. Please use my links as they earn this blog a few, well needed, pennies. 🙂 .

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

https://amzn.to/2DAaUXh

https://amzn.to/2MZGK3D

 

Thanks for looking. And if you enjoy this post please like, comment or order via the links. All three are greatly appreciated!