Carmellini issues a Terrore alert.
Above are two brilliant Italian posters for Il terrore sul mondo painted by an artist who signed as Carmellini. That's all we know about him, but what great work. The movie is better known as The Creature Walks Among Us. Is it as good as the posters? Are you kidding? It doesn't even deserve posters.
Predatory housing market claims more victims.
Is there such a thing as a movie poster that's too effective? This particular promo was painted by J. Gommers to promote the Belgian run of the horror movie The Haunting. Luckily, we already saw the movie, because we aren't sure we'd brave it based on this freaky piece of art. It opened in the U.S. in 1963 and reached Belgium titled La Maison du diable in French, and Het duivelshuis in Dutch, sometime in early 1964. You can read a bit more about it here.
Holiday revelers come face to fungi with their worst fears.
This is a simply awesome poster. It was made for the Japanese horror movie Matango, which was known in English speaking countries as Attack of the Mushroom People. The second title pretty much gives it all away—mushroom people aggressive. Plotwise, a group of sailboating jet setters get swallowed by a fog bank and end up marooned on a mysterious island. There they find a derelict boat, evidence of scientific research into the island's unique giant mushrooms, and disturbing indications that the fungi are more than what they seem. Not long afterward the castaways begin to fear they're turning into mushrooms themselves. This is of course a terrifying prospect, but since they're food challenged the upside is they'll have something to put in their eggs. Overall Matango is better than you'd suspect. It's atmospheric, nicely photographed, and the hallucinatory efx work pretty well. If you like 1960s sci-fi and horror we think this one will do the job for you. It premiered in Japan today in 1963.
Wow, how much did I drink last night? I feel terrible this morning.
You guys run! I'll hold them off with this garlic and bottle of olive oil!
Today our seminar for giant monsters will cover how to get human heads unstuck from your mouth.
How can you not love this? This startling poster that looks like someone has bitten off more than they can chew was made for Aullidos, a movie better known as The Howling. It was painted by Macario Gomez Quibus, an artist who also crafted promos for the horror movies The Fog and Murder Mansion, among others. After opening in the U.S. in 1981, Aullidos premiered in Spain today in 1982. Have you seen it? No? You might need to. Read about it here.
Obscure ’80s horror flick turns the idea of consumerism on its head.
Above you see a poster for Larry Cohen's The Stuff, an interesting piece of modern pulp cinema that premiered in the U.S. today in 1985. It's obviously a horror movie, and though it fails to be scary it succeeds as a wickedly clever anti-consumerist metaphor. Its underlying critique is that Americans will buy anything that's marketed with snazzy visuals and a good jingle, even things that are bad or even deadly for them. The Stuff takes that idea and runs with it, showing a nation addicted to a dessert that's actually a dangerous unknown organism. People eat it and it hollows them out physically and takes over their minds. While some victims succumb by snarfing the Stuff, others fall prey by being attacked by those infected. In this way entire towns are replaced, then the monsters move on to bodysnatch even more people.
Along the way Cohen's film takes swipes at regulatory capture by featuring FDA officials who approve the Stuff, at militias by casting a paramilitary group as the heroes, then exposing them as racist clowns, and at corporate greed by having the whole fiasco engineered by a shady cabal of one percenters. Yes, quite a lot of thought went into this baby. What didn't go into it was sufficient budget. And despite Cohen and company's obvious deeper intent, it's pretty safe to say most filmgoers didn't absorb the subtext. That fact can be confirmed by taking a glance at any of the numerous dayglow health killers on supermarket shelves today. So technically The Stuff flops both as a fright flick and a consumer warning. But it offers food for thought that remains relevant today, thirty-five years later, and it's certainly a movie unlike any other.
Look what the cat dragged in.
Cats get a bad rap in ’70s horror films. They're always shown lurking, staring, yowling, hissing, flying into frame from some elevated position off-camera, and standing sentinel over murdered bodies. Felines come to the fore once again in the Italian giallo-horror flick La morte negli occhi del gatto, aka Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye, as beautiful young Jane Birkin ventures into the Scottish countryside for a stay at creepy old Castle Dragonstone, which seems cursed or haunted by a feline or felines. Shortly after her arrival bodies start appearing. Who's doing the killing? Is there really a curse? Why does that darn cat keep turning up?
All of the answers and more are revealed, as is the reason behind the carnage, and guess what? It isn't the cat's doing at all. The problem is entirely human and has to do with coveting the castle. Seems everyone wants their own pile of rocks in windblown bumfuck Scotland. Yes, the plot is as blah as we made it sound, but at least the poster art is excellent. There's a another poster, an even better one, with Birkin on it. We digitally restored it to hi-rez perfection, then Photoshop corrupted the file right when we were putting the final touches on it. We aren't going to repeat all that work, so you'll never see what we did. Maybe there's a curse after all. La morte negli occhi del gatto premiered in Italy today in 1973.
Hmph. She didn't crumble to dust. Guess you weren't a vampire after all. Sorry, honey.
You may remember we started on a set of Richard Matheson books several months ago, long before we were thinking about COVID-19, and I Am Legend was always third on the list. There are so many books and stories about humanity being wiped out by flus and viruses. We thought this was one of them. We don't know why, but that was our assumption. The book, though, is actually about vampires. The novel first appeared in 1954, and the Corgi Books edition you see here was published in 1960. The story follows the day-to-day—and night-to-night—existence of man named Robert Neville who lives in a Los Angeles house, from which he kills vampires and forages for food by sunlight, but to which he must retreat every sunset lest he be consumed by rampaging bloodsuckers. He might be the last man on Earth, but how can he know? He's basically tethered to his house as far as a tank of gas can carry him—half to go someplace, half to get back. In that radius he's seen nothing but desolation and vampires.
Most of the narrative deals with him trying to decipher vampire biology as a way to cure or kill them. Everything is covered, from why they hate crosses to why wooden stakes kill them, and the idea of a virus is actually touched upon as a cause of their condition, which is perhaps where we got our mistaken ideas about the book. The science is interesting, but the point is terror and isolation, as the main character's survival is complicated by his occasional bouts of carelessness and despair. Setting aside the usual 1950s social attitudes that don't strike harmonious chords today, the book is effective, and, in parts, legitimately scary. The concept resulted in four film adaptations—1964's The Last Man on Earth, 1971's The Omega Man, and 2007's I Am Legend and I Am Omega. When a book is that kind of cinematic gold mine, you expect it to be good, and it is. We'd even call it a horror monument.
These are the warmest, slimiest raindrops I've ever felt.
Since we were on the subject of werewolves a couple of days ago, here's a fun promo shot of Claude Rains about to precipitate doggie drool onto Evelyn Ankers in their 1941 horror flick The Wolf Man. Ankers had trouble with other weird creatures too, including ghosts in Hold That Ghost, a vampire in Son of Dracula, an unseen troublemaker in The Invisible Man's Revenge, and a reanimated monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein. All that experience and she never learned to look up. Well, in her defense Rains is unusually sneaky, plus canines don't usually climb trees.
Swamp monster discovers that it's humans who are the real slime.
Who is truly monstrous—beast or man? That pretty much covers The Creature Walks Among Us front to back. When a group of scientists set out to capture an aquatic humanoid that lives in the Florida Everglades, they clash over whether the mission is one of mere discovery or rather cruel experimentation. To wit, the head of the expedition wants to genetically alter the creature as a step on the ladder toward making humans hardy enough for space travel. No, it doesn't really make sense. And it's hard to care, since with three basically identical looking guys as the three male leads we had a hard time telling them apart. And this in a movie in which they also wear lab coats much of the time, making it even more difficult to distinguish them. Lean and lovely co-star Leigh Snowden, on the other hand, is distinguishable as hell, and the three haircuts are soon vying for her attentions. But there's science that needs to be scienced, so they eventually capture the monster. It's upon returning to dry land that their problems really start. As third in the canon of Creature from the Black Lagoon flicks, The Creature Walks Among Us is worth a gander, but not necessarily a recommendation. It's damned funny in parts, though. Unintentionally. Above you see the movie's Belgian poster, with text in French and Dutch. It's far better than the film itself.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1955—James Dean Dies in Auto Accident
American actor James Dean, who appeared in the films Giant
, East of Eden
, and the iconic Rebel without a Cause
, dies in an auto accident
at age 24 when his Porsche 550 Spyder is hit head-on by a larger Ford coupe. The driver of the Ford had been trying to make a left turn across the rural highway U.S. Route 466 and never saw Dean's small sports car approaching.
1962—Chavez Founds UFW
Mexican-American farm worker César Chávez founds the United Farm Workers in California. His strikes, marches and boycotts eventually result in improved working conditions for manual farm laborers and today his birthday is celebrated as a holiday in eight U.S. states.
1916—Rockefeller Breaks the Billion Barrier
American industrialist John D. Rockefeller becomes America's first billionaire. His Standard Oil Company had gained near total control of the U.S. petroleum market until being broken up by anti-trust legislators in 1911. Afterward, Rockefeller used his fortune mainly for philanthropy, and had a major effect on medicine, education, and scientific research.
1941—Williams Bats .406
Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox finishes the Major League Baseball season with a batting average of .406. He is the last player to bat .400 or better in a season.
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