You have to be in it to win it.
When the dystopian sci-fi movie Deathsport premiered in West Germany today in 1978, the unusual poster above was used to promote it, the title having been changed to Giganten mit stählernen fäusten, which means “giants with steel fists.” That's obviously a terrible name, but whatever, that's what they went with. And what they got was David Carradine and Claudia Jennings in a tale of defiant freedom fighters known as range guides pitted against the minions of a state at eternal war.
The government needs to propagandize the population into joining the armed forces, so it stages televised gladiatorial spectacles in which statemen use fancy death machines to do battle. These contraptions are supposed to be so cool they bedazzle credulous viewers into joining the war effort. This is a really interesting point for an American movie to make, but this is b-cinema, which means the death machines are really just motorcycles the prop department welded extra aluminum to.
The budget may be low, but the framework of the movie is sound. Against its totalitarian/post-apocalyptic backdrop you get an ambitious stateman, played by all time b-movie villain Richard Lynch, pursuing a personal grudge against Carradine's legendary range guide. You may not know who Richard Lynch is by name, but if you've watched even a few terrible ’70s movies you know his face because of its distinctive scarring.
The movie also offers up cannibal mutants, desert mysticism, silver jumpsuits, crystal swords, and naked women—including Jennings in a couple of her nudest scenes. Ah, but don't fret, lovers of manmeat—Carradine wears a loincloth for most of the film. True, he's got one of those high fat content ’70s bodies, but on a typical Friday night, were the clock to strike closing time at the club, you'd take his hairy hunkiness home and be happy about it. In a way, that's true of the movie too.
Everything about her is right on the money.
Above, a nice promo photo of American actress Rosalind Cash, best known for co-starring in 1971's sci-fi classic The Omega Man. She went on to score parts on many television shows.
You exasperate me earth woman! I want you out of my saucer. Pack up your shit and I'll drop you at your mom's.
Martians decide they want to study a thousand Earthlings, including protagonists David and Janice, with the eventual goal of turning the entire human species into love slaves. Sounds easy, but of course unpredictable consequences result. The rear of the novel describes the story as “unbelievable but possible.” We think a better description would be, "Impossible, but you'll want to believe." 1960, with cover art from Basil Gogos.
Enterprise goes into dry dock for repairs.
The eleven-foot model of the U.S.S. Enterprise used to shoot television's Star Trek that has been housed in Washington, D.C.'s Smithsonian Institution since 1974 is receiving an overdue restoration. The Smithsonian requested photos from fans or studio staff who could help them return the metal ship to its exact condition from August 1967, when the episode “The Trouble with Tribbles” aired. Why that episode? We don't know. In any case, the Enterprise has been modified eight times over the years, and the museum was looking specifically for interior photos or shots of the ship disassembled so they could see how the interior structure was originally arranged. Photos emerged and the Smithsonian is now busily at work rehabbing the starship to its full luster. Since the original framework was wood, the two engines tend to sag over time, so one change being made is to reinforce the interior with a metal collar designed to keep the engines properly aligned. Repainting the exterior is also on the agenda. When finished the Enterprise will be displayed in the museum's new Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall, which opens in July. The timing is of course no coincidence. This year—September 8 to be exact—will mark the 50-year anniversary of the Star Trek's premiere on NBC.
You're going to like my movies or else. Now sit down and shut up.
Ann Smyrner was born in Denmark as Hanne Smyrner and came to wide attention for roles in cheeseball films such as Reptilicus and Journey to the Seventh Planet. The above photo was made when she filmed yet another cheeseball film—the 1967 Italian flop ...4 ..3 ..2 ..1 ...morte, aka Mission Stardust. These movies call out to us based on their titles alone, so we'll attempt to locate one or two and report back. They sound epically bad. Smyrner, on the other hand, looks epically good.
Newly unearthed manuscript by horror master set to be auctioned in Chicago.
A newly discovered manuscript written by otherworldly horror writer H.P. Lovecraft has been found in a collection of magic memorabilia in Chicago. The 31-page piece, titled "The Cancer of Superstition," is said to have been originally commissioned by Harry Houdini in 1926. Houdini died that year and the project fell by the wayside, but the typewritten pages were conserved by Houdini's widow Bess, and her manager, Edward Saint. The sheaf of pages will be auctioned April 9th, with bids starting at $13,000 and a final price estimated to reach $25,000 to $40,000—a pittance considering Lovecraft's fans will probably pay plenty to buy anything published bearing the icon's name.
This story dusted off some nice memories for us and brought a smile to our faces because—as any Call of Cthulhu geek knows—the real-life pairing of Lovecraft and Houdini is like ice cream paired with caramel sauce, or a census-taker's liver with a fine Chianti. We'd go so far as to say that any Call of Cthulhu keeper worth the title incorporates Houdini into the game eventually. In our long-running C of C campaign—years before we had girlfriends and an inkling that there were equally sticky but much more enjoyable ways to spend a Saturday night—Houdini appeared in a session only to promptly have his head melted by an interdimensional horror.
There's some small question whether "The Cancer of Superstition" was written by Lovecraft, or if it was actually penned by fellow author C.M. Eddy and merely polished by Lovecraft, but we suspect doubts on that score will always remain. After years of doing this site and trying to track the original authors of numerous obscure novels we know some questions about the provenance of literature are destined never to be answered.
So get your bidding hats on. Since anyone out who's seriously into Lovecraft and Call of Cthulhu is a supernerd (we mean that affectionately, as former nerds ourselves), you've probably squirrelled away plenty of cash from your career in computer sciences or botany or something. Don't let the manuscript fall into the hands of some empty suit hedge fund manager from upper Manhattan. And for those of you who haven't read Lovecraft and have no idea what we're talking about, we highly recommend you give him a try if you feel like a little literary horror. Just don't read too much about Lovecraft as a person. Some of his views were even more terrifying than his stories.
Spock beamed up a year ago today.
Star Trek icon Leonard Nimoy died a year ago today, an event we noted at the time with a brief tribute and a photo, though of Nimoy in human form rather than as Spock. Today, for the anniversary, we're going full Spock because we stumbled across this rare promo poster of Nimoy in character holding a model of the Enterprise. While the poster is similar to a widely circulated image available on the Memory Alpha website, as far as we know this particular item has never been posted online without a watermark. So that's our achievement for today.
Okay, Cathy, let’s try it one more time. You’re really scared, okay? Really really scared. Like utterly terrified.
American actress Cathy Downs, shown here in a promo image made for the 1957 sci-fi epic The Amazing Colossal Man, gives the photographer her most convincing scream of terror. Somehow she got the part anyway. Don’t doubt her acting skills, though. She was in one of the best film noirs of all time—1946's The Dark Corner.
The rocker, the roller, the out of controller.
Mad Max premiered in Australia in April 1979 and made its way to Japan a few months later. Significantly, the U.S. premiere came after Japan—as well as Portugal, Italy, Holland, and Spain—and when it finally happened it was at The Motorcycle Film Festival in Seguin, Texas, several months before a wide U.S. release. The point is it’s amazing how careful the filmmakers were about releasing the movie in what was the world’s most lucrative film market. They weren't sure how American audiences would react to something so leftfield, but of course it did well enough there to become a series, and now a rebooted franchise helmed by original director George Miller. The Japanese poster above, painted by Tom Beauvais, was made for the movie’s Tokyo premiere today in 1979.
He lives in a fetid swamp, has terrible grooming habits, and zero career prospects. But at least he listens to me.
David V. Reed’s, aka David Vern’s The Thing That Made Love was originally published in Mammoth Detective in 1943 as The Metal Monster Murders. The first paperback version appeared in 1946 as I Thought I’d Die, and the above version from New York City’s Universal Publishing and Distributing Corporation, which marketed digest sized paperbacks under the imprint Uni-Book, hit stores in 1951 with Robert Stanley cover art. What you get here is a man blamed for murder, but who claims the slayings were the work of a metal swamp monster. The women die battered, but with ecstatic facial expressions. Which raises the question—what exactly is happening to them? You can read a review of the book here.
Update: We learned that Stanley's cover art also appeared in 1952 on Florenz Branch's Whipping Room, for Intimate Novels. Often these cover reworks are clumsy, but we think this makeover is actually pretty good. Not as good as the original, but close.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1967—First Space Program Casualty Occurs
Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov dies in Soyuz 1 when, during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere after more than ten successful orbits, the capsule's main parachute fails to deploy properly, and the backup chute becomes entangled in the first. The capsule's descent is slowed, but it still hits the ground at about 90 mph, at which point it bursts into flames. Komarov is the first human to die during a space mission.
1986—Otto Preminger Dies
Austro–Hungarian film director Otto Preminger, who directed such eternal classics as Laura, Anatomy of a Murder
, Carmen Jones
, The Man with the Golden Arm
, and Stalag 17
, and for his efforts earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, dies in New York City, aged 80, from cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
1998—James Earl Ray Dies
The convicted assassin of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., petty criminal James Earl Ray, dies in prison of hepatitis aged 70, protesting his innocence as he had for decades. Members of the King family who supported Ray's fight to clear his name believed the U.S. Government had been involved in Dr. King's killing, but with Ray's death such questions became moot.
1912—Pravda Is Founded
The newspaper Pravda, or Truth, known as the voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publication in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the country's leading newspapers until 1991, when it is closed down by decree of then-President Boris Yeltsin. A number of other Pravdas appear afterward, including an internet site and a tabloid.
1983—Hitler's Diaries Found
The German magazine Der Stern claims that Adolf Hitler's diaries had been found in wreckage in East Germany. The magazine had paid 10 million German marks for the sixty small books, plus a volume about Rudolf Hess's flight to the United Kingdom, covering the period from 1932 to 1945. But the diaries are subsequently revealed to be fakes written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger. Both he and Stern journalist Gerd Heidemann go to trial in 1985 and are each sentenced to 42 months in prison.
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