Tuesday, April 21

Fantastic Four 2015

The latest trailer for the Fantastic Four movie, due out in August, has hit now. In it we get a better glimpse of the tone of this film and the characters in it.

The description on the trailer says:

"FANTASTIC FOUR, a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. "

And that, right THERE, is the crux of the problem I have with this film. It's Marvel's longest running superhero team, created by the genius of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Therefore show it the respect it deserves, and make the film faithful to the source material.

But no, like so many other "remakes" or "re-imaginings," what you have instead is lesser-talented individuals who pervert the creative work of others. It's nothing short of bastardization.

The makers of this film don't give a damn about the source material, other than to cash-in on the popularity of the brand name. Every comic book fan out there should shun this film for that reason alone.

And the way they made changes to the source material is, frankly, insulting. All of the characters are, predictably, younger. The human torch is now black, for some reason, but his sister is white. Because, you know, we want to be politically correct but not TOO politically correct. We can't have TWO black characters in a film. So instead we'll make them step-siblings. Cool.

No, not cool - it's manipulative and shallow and people should be smart enough to see this dumbass ploy for what it is. They're brother and sister - make them both black, or asian, or white or whatever you want, because otherwise changing the plot to keep Sue white reeks of racism from the filmmakers.

Dr. Doom, the Fantastic Four's arch-nemisis, is no longer the ruler of the country of Latveria, he is instead now an internet blogger. No I didn't make that up. That is these filmmakers' idea of an evil villain. And no, the irony of writing about what a dumb idea for a supervillian a blogger is - on a blog - isn't lost on me.

I honestly don't know who this film is intended for. Not fans of the comic, that's for sure. You just took their much-lauded comic, the longest running one in the Marvel Universe, and pissed on it.

If you wanted to make a story about kids who get sucked into another universe and gain superpowers, make that story, but call it something else. But then you would lose the ability to cash-in on the Fantastic Four brand name, and that's what this is all about.

I hope this film flops. I hope Marvel in turn gets this back and makes a proper version of it, and puts it back in the Marvel Universe where it belongs. At least Ant-Man is being released in July. Maybe I can catch a rerun of that week instead.

Monday, April 20

Vincent Price Shrunken Head Apple Sculpture Kit

"Create your own collection of delightful shrunken heads" - Vincent Price

One of the oddest and coolest games Milton Bradley put out in the seventies was the Shrunken Head Apple Sculpture kit. Designed for kids to carve faces into peeled apples and shrink them with the heat of a lightbulb, the best part of this "game" was the cover - it featured a beautiful illustration of Vincent Price, the spokesman for this product. In this video I take a closer look at this kit and its contents. They don't make 'em like this anymore!

Thursday, April 16

The Fantastic Films of Vincent Price #31

The latest episode THE FANTASTIC FILMS OF VINCENT PRICE, an ongoing exploration through the filmography of Vincent Price, is now online - featuring a look at the 1954 Bob Hope comedy CASANOVA'S BIG NIGHT. Price appears briefly in this one, at the beginning, as the titular Casanova. Hope is then mistaken for the famed lover, and hijinks ensue!

About this series: Dr. Gangrene, Physician of Fright and Award-winning Nashville-based TV Horror Host (aka writer/film historian Larry Underwood) explores the films of the merchant of menace, Vincent Price, in chronological order from first to last, approaching them from a scholarly perspective, offering commentary, review and criticism.

Wednesday, April 15


I got a chance to screen the 2014 horror film ANOTHER recently, which makes its Southeast premiere tomorrow night (4-16-15) at the Nashville International Film Festival.

Part coming-of-age story, part demonic possession, think Carrie and The Omen smashed together with a dash of Argento for flavoring. Dark, dreamy, atmospheric and scary in all the right ways, Another is definitely one worth catching on the big screen. Nancy Wolfe is especially good as Aunt Ruth, the creepy guardian of Jordyn (Paulie Redding), who is slowly pulled into a satanic nightmare, where dreams and reality collide as Jordyn discovers the dark secret of her past.

Director:Jason Bognacki
Cast:Paulie Rojas
Nancy Wolfe
David Landry
Maria Olsen
Lillian Pennypacker
Producer:Aline Bognacki
Screenwriter:Jason Bognacki
Cinematographer:Jason Bognacki
Music:Fulton Dingley

Nashville Film Festival Horror Offerings 2015

The Nashville Film Festival
kicks off tomorrow, and this year there are some terrific horror entries! Here is a quick guide for those attending, with a horror pick a day to keep you fright fans happy! Each feature screens with one or more accompanying horror short films, too. This should be a lot of fun!

Enjoy, and see you there!!


Another - THURSDAY APRIL 16 - 9:30pm
Director: Jason Bognacki. USA. | A beautiful young woman is driven into a dark underworld of demonic possession, desire, and extreme indulgences when she learns she may be the devil’s kin. Southeast US Premiere.

Ladies of the House - FRIDAY APRIL 17 - 10pm
Director: John Stuart Wildman. USA. | A birthday outing with two brothers and a friend turns into a horrific fight for survival after they become trapped in a house with a “family” of malevolent women.

Cub - SATURDAY APRIL 18 - 10pm
Director: Jonas Govaerts. Belgium. | A troupe of young Cub Scouts find themselves stalked by a psychopathic huntsman who has riddled the forest with ingenious and deadly traps. 

Sufferland - SUNDAY APRIL 19 - 9:30pm
Director: Linear Downfall. USA. | A walk through the many compartmentalized landscapes in the mind of a tormented girl who is under the control of a tormented man. World Premiere.

They Look Like People - MONDAY APRIL 20 - 9:30pm
Director: Perry Blackshear. USA. | Suspecting that those around him are actually malevolent shape-shifters, a troubled man questions whether to protect his only friend from an impending war, or from himself. Southeast US Premiere.

Felt - TUESDAY APRIL 21 - 10pm
Director: Jason Banker. USA. | A woman creates an alter ego in hopes of overcoming the trauma inflicted by men in her life.

Horsehead - WEDNESDAY APRIL 22 - 10pm
Director: Romain Basset. France. | A young woman plagued by nightmares studies lucid dreaming techniques to find the source of her horrifying visions.

Alléluia - THURSDAY APRIL 23 - 9:30pm
Director: Frabrice Du Welz. Belgium. | French fear jockey Fabrice Du Welz (Calvaire, Vinyan) returns with this tale of star-crossed romance and straight-up carnage, based on the true story of 1960s “Lonely Hearts Killers” Martha Beck and Ray Fernandez. 


Friday, April 10

Cult Fiction Underground needs your help!

Hey, Fright Fans -

 I don't usually promote crowd funding campaigns, but this is one that is near and dear to my black heart. Cult Fiction Underground is the coolest hangout joint in Nashville. Equal parts bar/theater/lounge, it is a mecca for Middle TN movie and music lovers, and home of all things weird and cool.

Please take a minute and check out the link, and donate if you can. This place rocks, and will become a real gem in the midstate area.



Thursday, April 9

Dangerous Mission

Episode #30 of The Fantastic Films of Vincent Price takes a look at the 1954 film-noir, DANGEROUS MISSION.

A woman named Louise (Piper Laurie) witnesses a mob murder and flees to a resort in Glacier National Park. Vincent Price, a photographer vacationing at the resort, is secretly a mob hit man sent to kill her, and Victor Mature an undercover agent sent to protect the witness.

About this series:
Dr. Gangrene, Physician of Fright and Award-winning Nashville-based TV Horror Host (aka writer/film historian Larry Underwood) explores the films of the merchant of menace, Vincent Price, in chronological order from first to last, approaching them from a scholarly perspective, offering commentary, review and criticism.

Saturday, April 4

House of Wax

Episode 29 of The Fantastic Films of Vincent Price features a look at one of my favorites, as well as arguably the single most influential film of his career, HOUSE OF WAX. This is Price's first true horror film, and set the stage for a long career as Master of the Macabre.

Vincent Price stars as Professor Jarrod, proprietor of a Wax museum specializing in gruesome scenes of terror. With his mute assistant Igor (Charles Bronson) they have a unique method of creating all too lifelike figures for their museum...

About this series: Dr. Gangrene, Physician of Fright and Award-winning Nashville-based TV Horror Host (aka writer/film historian Larry Underwood) explores the films of the merchant of menace, Vincent Price, in chronological order from first to last, approaching them from a scholarly perspective, offering commentary, review and criticism.

Wednesday, March 25

Hot Dripping Facts from the House of Wax

HOUSE OF WAX (1953) was an important film in the career of Vincent Price, arguably THE single most important one of his entire career.  Released in the new technique of 3D, House of Wax would go on to become a box office sensation and help make Price's name synonymous with horror.

Here are fifteen fun facts you may not know about HOUSE OF WAX:

1. HOUSE OF WAX (1953) was filmed under the working title THE WAX WORKS, and is a remake of the 1933 film MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM, which, incidentally, was directed by Michael Curtiz, with whom Vincent Price had previously worked on the film THE PRIVATE LIVE OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX in 1939.

2. Both MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM and HOUSE OF WAX were made by Warner Brothers Pictures, and both films were based on a three-act play called THE WAX WORKS, written by Charles Belden. 

3. Even though it is a 3D movie, HOUSE OF WAX was directed by Andre De Toth, who was blind in one eye, and therefore unable to reap the benefits of the 3D process.  

4. HOUSE OF WAX was not the first 3D movie. That honor went to the film BWANA DEVIL a year prior, from writer/producer/director Arch Obler (best remembered for the Lights Out old-time radio series). But it was the first 3D movie from a major studio, and the first 3D HORROR movie.

5. Though most famous for its 3D, HOUSE OF WAX was also the first widely distributed film using the new process of Sterophonic Sound.

6. House of Wax had two premieres, one for each coast. The East Coast premiere was held in New York April 10, 1953, and the West coast premiere was held in Los Angeles CA on April 16, 1953, and kicked off with a midnight spookshow. 

7. Bela Lugosi appeared at the LA premiere in a cape and tuxedo, with a gorilla on a leash. It was the only time Bela and Vincent would meet. 

8. HOUSE OF WAX was re-released in 3D in 1971, and again in 1982.

 9. Vincent Price almost turned down the role of Professor Jarrod, as he was offered the lead role in the Broadway play MY THREE ANGELS at the same time. He said it was a decision that “changed his life.”

10. This was Vincent’s first true horror film. He would go on to make many more over the years (6 more in the 50s alone), including THE MAD MAGICIAN the following year, which was a loose reinterpretation of HOUSE OF WAX. In fact, it even shared a number of crew members, including the same writer (Crane Wilbur), producer (Bryan Foy), and cinematographer (Bert Glennon).

11. Dr. Jarrod’s mute assistant Igor is played by a young Charles Bronson, credited as Charles Buchinsky. Price and Bronson would meet again in the 1961 film; MASTER OF THE WORLD, but this time Bronson would play the lead (Price is the villain).

12. During the fight between Bronson and actor Paul Picerni, Bronson got a little over-enthusiastic, and lifted and slammed Paul onto his back, injuring his tailbone. Picerni had to go to the hospital for x-rays.

13. Actor Nedrick Young plays Jarrod’s alcoholic assistant Leon Averill. He appears uncredited in this film because he was blacklisted at the time during the McCarthy red scare. His character is a heroin addict in MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM, but was changed to an alcoholic due to Production code restrictions for HOUSE OF WAX. 


Interestingly, Price had played a drug addict just eight years earlier in DRAGONWYK, and would play a character experimenting with LSD just six years later in THE TINGLER.

14. The guillotine used in the film in Jarrod’s wax museum was a real working guillotine, procured from a French museum, with an actual sharp blade. Director Andre De Toth initially wanted to do the shot, where actor Paul Picerni is knocked unconscious and placed in the guillotine (then pulled out at the last moment), in one take while the blade was falling toward him. He refused and after a heated argument was kicked off the set. The following day studio head Jack Warner ordered De Toth to bring Picerni back and continue filming, and extra precautions were put in place.

15.  The movie poster for House of wax can be seen in the music video THRILLER by Michael Jackson, along with the posters for the Price films THE MAD MAGICIAN and THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (as well as director John Landis’ SCHLOCK). Price, of course, recites his famous “rap” during the middle of the song.

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