Thursday, March 05, 2009

846, or On Second Thought...

At Donna's suggestion, I am going to reactivate Video WatchBlog -- but not to become what it was before. Because VIDEO WATCHDOG remains our bread and butter, we need a place to make timely announcements to our readers, and this is the most convenient and sensible place to do that. So, while I will not be posting additional articles or essays here, I will pop back from time to time to advise you of special offers, personal appearances and such.

I am, I repeat, AM done with blogging.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I have no more time in my life for this blog,
Too much else that I'd rather be doing;
It's hard to have a life and do the Watchdog
And this; it seems I'm always reviewing.

This is post Eight hundred and forty five
But I need to pull the plug, I just do.
The show will go on, the mag will still thrive,
But from here, I must bid you adieu.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Birthday Love to Coralina

Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni is Italian horror's reigning Diva of Delicious Death Scenes, but she is also a dear friend, an inspiring fellow artist, and our beloved sister, so Donna joins me today in sending her our warmest regards on the anniversary of her birth. She's seen here with us at last October's Cinema Wasteland convention, embracing her own personal copy of the Bava book, while we embrace her -- as I wish we could be doing right now.

Coralina first won the hearts of horror fans as another birthday girl: the ill-fated, talon-sprouting, pus-erupting Sally of Lamberto Bava's DEMONS 2: THE NIGHTMARE BEGINS -- a legitimately great monster performance. She can currently be seen in what is surely the most outrageous of her many death scenes in Dario Argento's MOTHER OF TEARS (featured in the new issue of VIDEO WATCHDOG), and is presently engaged in many different projects we eagerly await, including an ambitious authorized biography written with Filippo Brunamonti, new paintings and music, and some original screenplay projects written in collaboration with the talented writer-director Mariano Baino (DARK WATERS).

You can see the delightfully experimental and allusive 6m trailer for Coralina's and Filippo Brunamonti's forthcoming book on her MySpace page here (which includes a Hitchcock-like cameo by... er, another book), and also sample tracks from her CD, LIMBO BALLOON -- which capture the real Coralina I know and love.

"Happy Birthday!" the dark incubus spake.
"Now tie the birthday girl down
And... cut the cake!"

Criterion's MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION reviewed

Robert Taylor chases Irene Dunne's skirt right into the path of a speeding car in the 1935 version of MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION.

My review of Douglas Sirk's -- and John M. Stahl's -- MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION (Criterion DVD) appears in the March 2009 issue of SIGHT & SOUND, now on newsstands. It can be also read for free on their website, here.

Monday, February 23, 2009


If this blog should be doing anything, it is helping to promote the venerable hub of this freewheeling enterprise: VIDEO WATCHDOG magazine. I've been solipsistically remiss in mentioning here that VW 147 is now en route to subscribers and newsstands, and available now from our toll free 1-800-275-8395 number.

For those of you who favor Eurohorror, this current issue features an engrossing and illuminating (if I do say so myself) round table discussion of Dario Argento's MOTHER OF TEARS, with input from Maitland McDonagh, Kim Newman, Richard Harland Smith, Brad Stevens and yours truly. And, obsessives that we are, we let the thing roll on for 21 pages illustrated in full color! Where else are you going to get that? This is also one of those proud issues that has something to offer readers of every taste, from Jean-Pierre Melville noirs to horror classics from the '30s through present day, and both Kim Newman and Audio Watchdog Douglas E. Winter have their respective says about Peter Watkins' seminal rock-oriented cautionary tale PRIVILEGE. You can get the whole rundown on the issue here, complete with four free sample pages to whet your appetite.

Those of you who have been secretly wishing to write for VW over the years, but have been deterred by our "on an invitational basis only" restriction, may find an announcement in my current editorial of especial interest.

A great issue, this one, but being a monthly gives us no time to rest on our laurels. Last week, we put the finishing touches on our next issue, VW 148, which is now at the printer. Our readers have been urging us to follow our head by covering more obscure product, which we're happy to do, but if we want to keep the folks at Diamond Comics Distribution (and, by extension, ourselves) happy, we're going to have to do everything we can to keep our covers more recognizably commercial. I think Charlie and Donna's cover for 148 is a stellar example of doing this in the prettiest and most tempting way possible.

VW 148 is not billed as such, but it's actually one of our popular "all-review" issues. We weren't planning to emphasize STARDUST to this extent, but the quality of Sheldon Inkol's writing about the film, and the wealth of beautiful images available to us from it, conspired to give this issue both a special identity and sense of direction. Charlie did a lovely job of framing the ever-photogenic Michelle Pfeiffer on the cover, and adding sprinkles of his own stardust to the framing background. I also like the diversity of Donna's choices for the supporting images on the cover stripe, ranging from the British TV miniseries DEAD SET to Al Pacino (so memorable opposite Pfeiffer in FRANKIE AND JOHNNY) in the thriller 88 MINUTES, to classic stars like Fred Williamson and Sidney "Charlie Chan" Toler. This should be shorthand to our readers that, while our cover aims to appeal to wider or at least consistent numbers, the innards of this issue delve well into our usual depths.
Aside from reviews of everything from Herschell Gordon Lewis' MOONSHINE MOUNTAIN to Hideo Nakata's thought-lost ghost story KAIDAN (a remake of a Nobuo Nakagawa classic, to which we have frame grabs comparing and contrasting both versions), the real centerpiece of this issue is Kim Newman's review of the seven features collected in Fox's CHARLIE CHAN VOLUME 5 (including the spooky and rarely seen DEAD MEN TELL), which we've chosen to present in the form of a feature called "Charlie Chan: Curtain Down at Fox." You can read more about this terrific issue here, in our current "Coming Soon" section.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Before or After VW?

While perusing the Mario Bava items currently being hawked on eBay, I was startled to find this strangely familiar box art for a Greek VHS release of BLOOD AND BLACK LACE [Sei donne per l'assassino, 1964]. This Video Cronos release isn't dated anywhere on the auction page, but it's possible this box art design actually predates the debut of VIDEO WATCHDOG, since VHS has been around since 1979 or thereabouts. If this release came after 1990, it would offer compelling proof of VW's influence. If it dates from before 1990, it's an impressive bit of foreshadowing, linking Bava with the magazine that would later publish his biography.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Recent Activities

Donna and I spent the Valentine's Day weekend in Nashville, Tennessee -- our first-ever visit there -- where we visited with friends, had some delicious sushi at a Sapporo in Rivergate, and spent some time at a full-scale replica of the Parthenon, constructed there over 100 years ago for the city's centenary celebration.

While there, I also went inside to pledge eternal fealty to the goddess Athena.
The timing of this trip was cosmically fortuitous. During the four-hour drive from Cincinnati to Nashville, we drove past the Kentucky birthplace of Abraham Lincoln -- on his 200th birthday. Two days later -- in the early hours of St. Valentine's Day (when the above pictures were taken), for a total of 18 minutes -- the Moon was reportedly in the seventh house and Jupiter aligned with Mars, signalling the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, as described in the popular song from the 1960s musical HAIR.
I've also been...
... celebrating my and VW's various Rondo nominations, and the recent optioning of my original horror script SCARS & STRIPES by the British production company Livestock Entertainment.
... polishing an unpublished science fiction novel, THE ART WORLD, for another crack at publication.
... planning a four-issue graphic novel story arc for a leading comics company.
... enjoying some particularly wonderful, rewarding correspondences. One of these inspired me to revisit Bergman's FANNY AND ALEXANDER, which was time very well spent.
... looking forward to returning to the pool with my new Finis SwiMP3 player. I imagine Scott Walker and Echo and the Bunnymen will sound especially good underwater.
... reading Frank Harris' legendary MY LIFE AND LOVES (Grove Press). I can remember a time when this book looked too long to read. Very educational; should have read this in my 20s.
... listening a lot to Marianne Faithfull's BEFORE THE POISON, which I find superior to her celebrated '70s album BROKEN ENGLISH.
... thinking seriously about selling off large chunks of my poster, lobby card, book and magazine collections. Now that my body has lost 40+ pounds, I'm finding that my acquisitions weigh too much.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

VW Sweeps Rondo 7 with 10 Nominations!

The nominations for the 7th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards were posted over the weekend at the Rondo Award website, and I'm pleased to report that VIDEO WATCHDOG earned no fewer than ten (10) nominations, while my own outside projects, including this blog, earned another three (3)! They are as follows...

THE BOOK OF LISTS: HORROR edited by Amy Wallace, Del Howison and Scott Bradley (to which I contributed)

Also nominated: VW's own Tom Weaver and Anthony Ambrogio for, respectively, I TALKED WITH A ZOMBIE and YOU'RE NEXT! LOSS OF IDENTITY IN THE HORROR FILM.


BEST ARTICLE (8 nominations! More than any other magazine!)
'Amy and Her Friends: The Ann Carter Interview,' by Tom Weaver, VIDEO WATCHDOG #137. A career retrospective with the young star of a Val Lewton classic.

'Bewitching Hazel,' by David Del Valle, VIDEO WATCHDOG #140. Remembrance of late Hammer star Hazel Court.

'California Gothic: The Corman/Haller Collaboration,' roundtable with Roger Corman, Daniel Haller and Joe Dante, moderated by Lawrence French, VIDEO WATCHDOG #138. Tales from the sets of the Poe films and more.

'A Eulogy for Charles B. Griffith,' by Justin Humphreys, VIDEO WATCHDOG #141. A friend remembers the touching final days of the eccentric writer behind AIP classics.

'Harry Redmond Jr.: Last Survivor of Skull Island,' by Mark F. Berry, VIDEO WATCHDOG #146. Interview and revelations from last production veteran of King Kong and other RKO Cooper-Schoedsack-O'Brien classics.

'The Prisoner: A New Order,' by Tim Lucas, VIDEO WATCHDOG #142. Making new sense of the village by reshuffling the episodes.

'Suspense: The Lost Episodes,' reviewed by Kim Newman, VIDEO WATCHDOG #140. Episodes from dawn of TV described in kinoscopic detail.

'The Ubiquitous Dabbs Greer,' by M.J. Simpson, VIDEO WATCHDOG #144. The character actor interviewed about HOUSE OF WAX, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and more.

An incredibly tough competition!

VIDEO WATCHDOG #137 - Ann Carter and Simone Simon cover by Charlie Largent

Video WatchBlog by Tim Lucas

I was also surprised and interested to see that a new "write-in" category has been introduced this year: Best DVD Reviewer.

I sincerely hope you'll all take the time to vote for your favorites in the various categories. As I've said here before, I'm not asking you to vote for VW or for me, necessarily (of course, I'd be the last to discourage you from doing so!); the important thing is to do your part to see excellence in the field of fantastic film journalism and pop culture acknowledged and rewarded. The ballot page tells you everything you need to know about voting; it's easy, and you needn't vote in every category. Voting ends on March 21.
My congratulations and best wishes to all of this year's nominees!