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Monday, September 13, 2010

Assorted Bits & Pieces: RIP Kevin McCarthy, Code Red DVD On Life Support, Italian Film Review, Missing Reel & Stats


Before I get into some news and other stuff, I would like to point out that Nigel Maskell, the dedicated and profoundly knowledgeable owner of Italian Film Review asked me to be a contributor to his site a few months back. If you haven't already, and you're a fan of Italian genre movies (who isn't?), you should serious head over there and check out Nigel's site filled with capsule reviews of items Al'Italiana.

Also, select reviews I've done here can be found at Missing Reel, a superlative website on everything exploitation. Run by Kurt Loyd, if you're a lover of the drive in and 42nd Street, you should park your car, or buy yourself a ticket and indulge in the trashy goodness exploitation cinema has to offer from Kurt Loyd and David Walker at Missing Reel.


Terrible news this past September 11th-- Kevin McCarthy, an actor of many movies and television programs among his long showbiz career has died from pneumonia. Although he has appeared in many great genre shows such as THE TWILIGHT ZONE and THE WILD, WILD WEST, McCarthy will likely be best remembered for his role as Dr. Miles Bennell in the superlative science fiction/horror political allegory, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956). He also reprised his manic final moments from the original in Philip Kaufman's provocative remake in 1978.


He also appeared as the main villain in the Italian western, ACE HIGH from 1968 with Terrence Hill, Bud Spencer and Eli Wallach, the second of a trilogy that began with GOD FORGIVES...I DON'T! (1967) and ended with the awful BOOT HILL (1969). He also played the sleazy promoter in the gritty roller derby flick KANSAS CITY BOMBER (1972).


Later in the 70's McCarthy apparently became a favorite performer for the great Joe Dante as he appeared in quite a few of the fantasy specialists movies such as the mad doctor from the huge fan favorite, PIRANHA (1978). He was good at portraying wide eyed, raving pseudo madmen and Dante gave him plenty of breathing room. He played a slightly less mad man in Dante's THE HOWLING (1981) as radio station manager, Fred Francis. But it was back to off kilter characters with his role as Uncle Walt in one of the best segments of the uneven and much troubled TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983). McCarthy again essayed a mad scientist bent on world domination in Dante's lively and lovably enjoyable INNERSPACE from 1987. Yet one more wonderful screen personality has gone to the great beyond.


There's more sad news, or at least impending bad news as yet another independent DVD label will be closing up shop soon. Code Red DVD, the enterprising juggernaut that launched an impressive slate of titles and even more yet to be released will reportedly be closing its doors by summer of 2011. Due to poor sales and a cavalcade of disgruntled "fans" nitpicking over small issues, it seems this label is deciding to pack it in as opposed to braving the waves of a rocky economy. Many of these hypocritical "fans" choose to illegally download, or simply not buy because the documentary isn't in HD (insert other complaint here). They then later complain when their "favorite movie" isn't coming out. It's a lose-lose situation it seems. Oh, well, you can't make everybody happy.

I suggest these individuals bust open those piggy banks and rally those pennies and start their own DVD company so they can put out all those obscure nostalgia-centric movies they claim to be buying, or don't buy because the disc is interlaced, or doesn't have a Criterion level of restoration done to the print. They can also do justice to the movies that the licensors apparently aren't doing. Hopefully, Code Red will hang in there even though it doesn't seem likely at this point. I do hope that their canceled release of RITUALS (1977) will surface before the doors are closed.

And now for some stats and what people are reading, or stumbling upon for whatever reason. It seems for the last week or so, articles have superceded reviews for the most part....

1. THE 20 BEST HAMMER HORRORS
2. SINS OF CELLULOID 4

3. SINS OF CELLULOID 5 -- Surprisingly, this fifth entry has had the fastest rise and the slowest start. I went a little overboard with this entry packing it full of brief rundowns of various crazy Asian movies. Some I left off for a future entry. It's just a few clicks away from overtaking the above entry and also it's the second biggest article on the site.

4. THE 26 BEST SWORD & SANDAL ADVENTURES

5. THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS -- This is the only review that ever managed to get to the number two spot, but has since dropped down to #5. Must have been the boobs. Great movie, too.

6. INQUISITION -- This tastelessly well done Naschy movie isn't going anywhere it seems.

7. ANIMAL CRUELTY: MONDO MOVIES & THE CANNIBAL CONNECTION

8. MONSTER KID MOVIE MEMORIES PART 2 -- This one trailed part one, but now has surpassed it. Logging what few remnants of nostalgic joy still in my brain pan was a lot of fun.

9. CHANG CHEH'S BEST ACTION FILMS PART 2

10. MONSTER KID MOVIE MEMORIES PART 1 -- I had a good time putting these two together and the main reason I did was personal so as to help keep these memories alive and to share with others who may have similar memories. I'll probably do a part three.

11. SHAW BROTHERS & KUNG FU CINEMA PART 5

12. INDEPENDENT DVD COMPANIES: BATTLES WITH BOOTLEGS, CHAIN STORES & AN ECONOMICALLY CRIPPLED CLIMATE -- I'm very opinionated on this subject and this was something I wanted to put together for a long time. These guys putting out these movies are the true fans and when they're all gone, they're gone.

13. EMPIRE OF THE ANTS (1977)
14. PIRANHA 2: THE SPAWNING (1981)
15. 2001 MANIACS: FIELD OF SCREAMS (2010)
16. THE LAST SHARK (1980)

17. ITALIAN CRIME CINEMA: BLOOD IN THE STREETS & A DECADE OF VIOLENCE PART 3 -- This third entry dealing predominantly with selected works of Fernando Di Leo is the most hit of the four available so far.

18. TOUGH GUYS FILES #1 -- This is the first in a series detailing bad ass dudes of cinema that I've grown accustomed to over the years. This one is dedicated to the great and extraordinary William Smith, an actor whom I'm hoping to be able to meet one day and shake the hand of one of the most versatile and accomplished performers the world has ever seen. Upcoming installments will feature Charles Bronson, Gordon Scott, Hwang Jang Lee, Maurizio Merli and Sonny Chiba.

19. ILSA, SHE-WOLF OF THE SS (1974)

20. MESSIAH OF EVIL (1973) -- One of the best releases from the allegedly soon to be defunct Code Red DVD. Come on, guys, get out there and support this company if you can!

This September 17th marks two years of Cool Ass Cinema. I thought it had been one year, but time has slipped up on me, apparently. I may be involved in other things that day, so I am taking this time to graciously thank all those who follow, read, peruse, or just check out the pictures. A big, huge thank you to you guys. If you don't wish to comment, or want to shoot me an email, I can be reached at brianchiba@gmail.com. Again, thanks for stopping by!

4 comments:

Max Evel said...

Kevin McCarthy was a really great actor.

venoms5 said...

Yes he was, Max. Very versatile. Oddly enough, I had read the news not long after seeing the PIRANHA remake.

Carl Manes said...

I was hoping to see UHF on there too, the guiltiest of guilty pleasures! Loved Kevin McCarthy, I was hoping to meet him some year at one of the cons..

Code Red may be only the first of many, it isnt surprising but it is definitely sad.

venoms5 said...

I don't even remember him in that one, Carl. I haven't seen it since it hit video. If and when CR goes, it will one of many already gone. There won't be but a few left after that.

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