Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Wishes Still Coming True

I've had this lifelong memory of a time when I was about six years old and already consecrated to the goal of seeing every horror movie ever made. I got permission to stay up all night (it was a Friday, not a school night) to see a "melodrama" listed in TV GUIDE called SHE DEVIL (1957) -- something about two doctors creating a monster out of a beautiful woman. By the time Mom and Granny were ready to turn in, I was getting sleepy too, so they set an alarm clock for the time the movie was scheduled to begin, something like 5:45 a.m., and left it with me, along with a pillow, in front of the television, so I could take a nap, wake up, and be right there when the movie was ready to start. Somehow or other, little Timmy didn't quite make it; I turned off the alarm, struggled to stay awake, and ended up missing all but a few glimpses. I was very angry with myself the next day, especially since no stills from this elusive film ever appeared in any of the monster magazines I collected while growing up. That was a very long time ago, and I never had another opportunity to see SHE DEVIL... until tonight. It's coming out soon on DVD and Blu-ray from Olive Films. In RegalScope. Tomorrow I get to review it.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

RIP Armando Trovajoli (1917-2013)

Armando Trovajoli, whose long career as a film composer encompassed more than 200 titles, has passed away at the age of 95. His death was announced only today though he died in late February.
He started out professionally as a successful songwriter and jazz pianist, and evolved from a jazz combo to a full jazz orchestra by 1960, during this period accompanying such jazz greats as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis. During the great boom in Italian film production of the late '50s and early '60s, he found his skills increasingly in demand by the movie business. Among his most notable accomplishments as a film composer are the scores for such mainstream successes as TWO WOMEN, BOCCACCIO '70, YESTERDAY TODAY AND TOMORROW, MARRIAGE ITALIAN STYLE, BAMBOLE, THE LIBERTINE, DEADLY SWEET, LONG DAYS OF VENGEANCE, A BULLET FOR ROMMEL, IL COMMISSARIO PEPE, THE PRIEST'S WIFE, THE VALACHI PAPERS, WE ALL LOVED EACH OTHER SO MUCH, MAN OF THE YEAR, SCENT OF A WOMAN (the original), A SPECIAL DAY, WIFEMISTRESS, BLAZING MAGNUM, LA NUIT DES VERENNES, MACARONI and LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. 
His experience in jazz helped to make him particularly adept at creating atmospheric scores in the genres of horror and fantasy. Among his numerous scores of this kind -- sadly under-represented on CD -- are UNCLE WAS A VAMPIRE, ATOM AGE VAMPIRE, ALONE AGAINST ROME, THE GIANT OF THE METROPOLIS, MOLE MEN AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES, HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS, HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD, WEREWOLF IN A GIRL'S DORMITORY, TOTO VS. MACISTE, THE WORLD OF TOPO GIGIO, SEVEN GOLDEN MEN, PLANETS AROUND US, DR JEKYLL LIKES THEM HOT and FRANKENSTEIN 90.
Trovajoli also excelled at writing Italian popular canzone. Check out his work for Paul Anka, Jimmy Fontana, and this splendid medley of his work performed by Mina. Trovajoli continued to serve as a piano accompanist to Mina and also Johnny Dorrelli throughout the 1970s. His most famous composition in his own country is "Roma nun fa' stupida stasere" ("Rome, Don't Be Stupid Tonight"), made famous in the 1960s by opera great Gino Bechi working in a more popular form, which has since come to be regarded by many Italians as the great city's unofficial theme song.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

It's That Time Again!

Time to vote for the 11th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Film Awards!

I'm proud to say that VIDEO WATCHDOG has received 10 nominations in all:
Best Magazine;
Best Cover (Charlie Largent's MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE cover for VW 166);
three Best Article nominations:
Robert Guffey's "Charles Darwin and the Suppressed Science of Dr. Mirakle" (VW 166)
Paul Talbot's "The Unmaking of EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC" (VW 171),
and my DRACULA/FRANKENSTEIN Blu-ray coverage in VW 171; 
a Best Interview nomination for "Say Laví," my Daliah Laví interview in VW 170;
two Best Magazine Horror Column nominations:
Douglas E. Winter's "Audio Watchdog" and
Ramsey Campbell's "Ramsey's Rambles" respectively;
Best Themed Issue for our DARK SHADOWS round table (VW 169);
and one for Best Blog (my Pause. Rewind.Obsess., which you can read right here on the VW website)!

Furthermore, I'm honored to also be nominated for Best Audio Commentary (Mario Bava's HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON)!

Mind you, there are also "write-in" categories, such as Best Writer, Best Reviewer and so forth, so feel free to write our or my other efforts should you feel they are worthy.

This link will take you right to the ballot.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

First Franco

Fun stuff from J.L. Romero Marchent's pioneering paella western EL COYOTE (1954): Jesús Franco's very first screen credits as screenwriter and assistant director, followed by his second screen credit as songwriter (following COMICOS, 1953) and, best of all, what is likely his first-ever screen appearance. He is shown reading a decree of statehood as the American flag is raised in 1848 California.





Sunday, February 10, 2013

Add One More To The Franco Roster

Tonight, to my wonderment, I stumbled across what seems to be an otherwise forgotten Jess Franco screen credit. After watching an old VHS tape tonight, I discovered that the remainder of the tape contained the first 45-50 minutes or so of Marcel Ophuls' HAGAN JUEGO, SENORAS (1965; US: FIRE AT WILL), an Eddie Constantine thriller produced by Henri Baum, who also produced THE DIABOLICAL DR Z around this time. Jesús Franco is given an entire screen credit all to himself for writing the story and Spanish dialogues.

I remember Franco saying in an interview that he had been responsible for dubbing a number of Eddie Constantine films into Spanish in the 1950s, but this came much later, and it has generally been assumed that Franco stopped accepting work-for-hire jobs like this by this point in his directorial career. I don't recall seeing this film appear in any of his filmographies, not in books and certainly not on the IMDb. Now I wish I had the full feature! In fact, I do have the French version of this film in its entirety, but of course its credits make no mention of Franco. It would seem accurate, though, to credit him with writing the story (generally credited to Jacques Robert), as it's supposed to feature an all-girl gang led by a gypsy named Soledad! Franco had previously cast Soledad Miranda in her film debut LA REINA DEL TABARIN (1960) and, by this time, he may have taken notice that she was starting to play more prominent roles in films.