Friday, May 30, 2008

Jesus, I learned of all of these deaths just today

Harvey Korman is dead at age 81. A brilliant comedian and multiple Emmy winner, Korman was indeed a favorite. He was often at his best with two other formidable talents, Carol Burnett and Mel Brooks. Dick Martin and now Harvey. I will miss them. Froggy Love Daddy? Daddy loved Froggy - an awful lot.

The Film and Television Academy lost two very great composers this week. Two composers that I was a big fan of and whose melodies are in the hearts and minds of hundreds of millions.

Alexander Courage has died at age 88. Courage, who was best known in the industry for his conducting, arranging, and orchestrating is best known to the public for his composing. The opening measure to his Star Trek theme is known the world over and is associated with boldly going where no man has gone before. Alexander has boldly gone - but has left us with a profound legacy.

Composer Earle Hagen has also died. Another composer most famous for his television work, Hagen's melodies were embedded in our national psyche and we've lost another major talent. Quoted from filmmusicmag.com "His television work included composing original music for over 3,000 television episodes, pilots and TV movies, including theme songs for That Girl, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." His classic "Harlem Nocturne" became the theme for Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Top Ten Vampire Babes of All Time

Bloody Disgusting recently posted their list of The Top Ten Vampire Babes. Well, I don't align with ANY of their choices as a top 10 - as a top 100 - sure. But, overall, I thought Bloody Disgusting's choices were bloody awful. As this is a matter largely of personal taste I've decided to make my own Top 10. This is a list built entirely from personal (libidinal) preference; the choices are not a reflection of the films per se, rather this list is simply about laying down arms and surrendering to these dark, dangerous, creatures...

And so, without further delay, I implore you to lay down your hammers, stakes, garlic, holy water, super soakers, hedge clippers, what have you, because Chick Young Proudly Presents Trash Aesthetics' Top 10 Vampire Babes of All Time:

10. Count Yorga's Harem of Honeys - Count Yorga Vampire & The Return of Count Yorga 1970 and 71'


Can't have none of em' so I might as well have all of em'. Yes, that's right, just about all of the hot chickies from both Count Yorga films wind up becoming vampires - and what a harem this Bulgarian Vulgarian amasses. Special emphasis must go to Judy Lang for her Chef Boyardee slathered kitten munching scene. Although the Vampire Hunters in both films spend a tremendous amount of time running away from all this vampire hotness - in truth - they represent the ultimate vampire hunters wet dream. Don't go down fighting in these films - just go DOWN - and shout... "I regret Nothinnnnng!"

9. The Brides from Dracula 2000 (2000).


In keeping with the spirit of Number 10's having your cake and eating it too - Jeri Ryan, Colleen Fitzpatrick (Vitamin C) and Jennifer Esposito make an incredibly toothsome trio of vampire honeys!! Not to mention Justine Waddell - whose Mary is also utterly perfect. And, I mention in passing that Justine did a pretty damn good job playing Natalie Wood (The Mystery of Natalie Wood). Dracula 2000 is clever, original, well-executed, and has Christopher Plummer as Van Helsing - nuf' said. Underrated movie.

8. Ingrid Pitt as Carla Lynde - The House That Dripped Blood (1971).


The only actress that is on both Bloody Disgusting's list and my own, albeit for different films. My choice is for her snobby and bitchy Carla Lynde in The House That Dripped Blood. Oh the thrills I used to get watching her pop out of her shoes and fly up to John Pertwee - fangs popped, cleavage at the ready. This was regularly aired in Detroit in the late 70s and early 80s - and remains, for me, a very treasured (Robert Bloch penned) anthology.

7. Kate Nelligan as Lucy Seward - Dracula 1979.

I have always admired Kate Nelligan and was saddened that she was primarily used in supporting roles in the States. She's a vastly underrated actress, of whom, we sadly did not see enough. However, her turn in John Badham's also vastly underrated Dracula (1979) has become quite iconic. The spider to the fly scene in Sewards asylum is a magisterial display of clever and original mise en scène. I especially love the bat-like wings of her period costume. An Amazing scene in which Kate achieves a very, very dark beauty.

6. Andree Melly as Gina in The Brides of Dracula (1960).

This scene freaked me OUT AS A KID!! I wrote about it over at The Horror Blog Roundtable a few weeks ago. First the bit with the padlocks, and then BINGO! Up comes Gina propositioning all sorts of serious girl on girl action to Marianne. Wow, wow, wow. Andree was sort of like Barbara Steele's separated at birth twin. They shared similar physical features and both starred in horror films. Andree worked with Terence Fisher again on The Horror of it All (1963) which desperately needs a DVD release. Lord, I loved her - beautiful, lithe, and dangerous. What's not to like?

5. Barbara Shelley as
Helen Kent in Dracula - Prince of Darkness (1966).

What happens when you release decades of repressed Victorian psychic and sexual energies? Barbara Shelley turns psycho-vamp-nympho that's what. This truly lovely English actress has graced many films with her classy presence. But, it was her extremely frigid and prim Helen Kent that became a blast furnace of heat once the drives of her Id were ignited and seriously vented. Her "gang-rape" staking scene is one of the true marvels of English censorship - how it cleared the censors is beyond me - such a tremendously subversive scene! Old Drac really blew it in this one - he had an auburn haired fireball and let her get away. Tsk, tsk, tsk...

4. Yutte Stensgaard as
Mircalla/Carmilla in Lust for a Vampire 1971.


Probably the most famous vampire publicity still of the 1970s. Yutte Stensgaard' s (Did you say Yutte?) Carmilla was a most bewitching and seductive vampire. A Stunning Swedish export, Stensgaard's movie career was short-lived after she married - leaving acting for good in 1972. Pity, what a Bond girl she would've made! Charming, beautiful, and missed by her fans.

3. Sharon Tate as
Sarah Shagal in The Fearless Vampire Killers (1966).

What can you say about Sharon Tate that has not already been said. Although a tragically short life - her youthfulness is forever preserved on celluloid. And, The Fearless Vampire Killers (or Pardon me but Your Teeth are in My Neck) remains a wonderful mix of comedy and (light) chills, progressing the genre and leaving us with a lush, vivid, brilliantly conceived and shot film (really, has Polanski ever framed a bad shot?). In fact, I just watched it again today - "When I say barricade, I mean BARRICADE!" Although her dramatic chops were questioned by critics, I found Sharon to be a very adept comedian. I especially love her as Freya Carlson in the very fun Matt Helm romp, The Wrecking Crew (1968). She is delightful - when she parts her beautiful, wet, red locks and says to Matt - "It's too deep" - I lose it every damn time. Sharon is gorgeous.

2. Soledad Miranda as
Countess Nadine Carody Vamyros Lesbos 1971 - or Lucy Count Dracula - 1970. Take yer Pick!

Numbers 2 and 3 (and my beloved Natalie a bit further down) seem to be my life cut tragically short picks. The tragedy of Sharon's (and her unborn baby's) murder and the tragedy of Soledad's premature death are the bittersweet spectres of my list. Just as this ravishing, flawless Spaniard was about to catapult to major international fame - her life ended. Fortunately, she made a generous amount of films and music recordings, many with the man who called Soledad his muse, the infamous Jess Franco, who directed both of these entries. I nearly made her my number 1 - but, I just had to give that honor to...

1. Mary and Madeleine Collinson, aka The Collinson Twins as Maria and Freida in Twins of Evil (1971).


Come on - you can't beat this. As Richard Nixon's Head would say... "ARR-OOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" The Holy Grail of Vampire Hotness. I just don't think you can top Playboy magazine's first twin-sister centerfolds. Really, I just don't think it's possible. And, why Bloody Disgusting has only ONE single Hammer film on their list (and for Countess Dracula??) is utterly beyond me. NOT when you have the Karnstein Lesbian Trilogy to pick from friends and neighbors, of which this film, 1971's Twins of Evil completes. I wore this VHS completely out! Fortunately, I have a region free player as this film has yet to see an NTSC release. The Collinson's are beyond the limits of dramatic prose here - so I'll just stop now.

THAT'S ALL FOLKS! Well, maybe I should notate a few more:

A Few Honorable Mentions:
Anne Gwynne as Rita Hussman - Well she doesn't exactly become a vampire in 1944's House of Frankenstein, she just sorta puts on Dracula's ring which acts as a sort jewelry piece of blotter acid for the undead. But, damn, Anne was sooooo beautiful. Just absolutely stunning. A timeless quality to her looks - like Ava Gardner or Rita Hayworth, she just radiated beauty. She was a very popular pin up during World War II and one of the first scream queens. Beautiful.

Lénore Aubert as Dr. Sandra Mornay in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). Sophisticated and very sexy Austrian-born actress, sadly blacklisted for her uncooperative nature when it came to "back-room" deals to help her "upward mobility." Ms. Aubert told em' to go to Hell! Her Sandra is one cool (possibly sadistic, it is hinted that she engaged in human experiments during the war) cucumber - even going so far as to challenge the Original Dracula (Lugosi) to a battle of wills! Guess who wins...

Kirsten Lindholm as 1st Vampire in The Vampire Lovers (1970). Holeee-Jawbone Batman! Kirsten pops her mouth open wide enough to swallow a cannonball before she gets decapitated, and let me tell you - my seven year old self was smitten right away. She really did provide dark frissons as she glided across that English landscape to her (sadly) death. Pity, to die in the first reel. Fortunately, Kirsten is in all three Karnstein films!

Tina Louise as Countess Gilligan Gilligan's Island S03,E01 Up at Bat. The decision of Mary Ann or Ginger is made considerably easier - at least in this episode, as Mary Ann plays a weathered old hag and Ginger is the succulent wife of Bob Denver's Count Gilligan. Another memory scorched into my temporal lobe at around age 4 or 5. The best part is that Tina really has a good time with the role - hamming it up, and laughing maniacally. It's classic TV at its best.

Arlene Martel as Lorelei in The Monkees S02, E50 The Monkees Monster Bash. Arlene Martel sure has a cult following. Her turns on Star Trek, Wild Wild West, Hogan's Heroes, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E (to name only a few!) have guaranteed her legions of fans. She was on The Monkees twice, but I'll always remember and love her for her incredibly sexy, groovy and hip vampire - Lorelei. "You fool it is not my kiss, but the Magic Necklace!" The Monkees was decades ahead of its time; its extremely sophisticated visual design and creative uses of pastiche, intertextuality, fourth wall transgressions, and self-relexivity make it the perfect postmodern television series. I loved it as a kid and am in awe of it as an adult. And, just to illustrate Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein's influence and impact - the plot of this episode is identical. Swap brains of the monster with pacifist/hippie/simple Peter Tork. We even have an "Invisible Man" tag at the end! Nice.


And lastly, in the "I wish this actress would've made a vampire film" category. Well, it should come as NO surprise to anyone who has read this blog that this honor would fall to Natalie Wood. But, in all honesty, that would may not have been such a good thing after all. I'm sure many of you remember the Benny Hill skit where Benny's in the nursing home playing strip poker with his hot young nurse? She's already down to stockings, garters, panties and bra and loses another hand - as she's about to take off her top he gets a massive heart attack from the anticipation. Well, that would be my fate - to see Natalie in full Vampire garb would result in severe Tachycardia and probably death, but I'd go with a smile on my face! In fact, I do believe that the next piece of art that I commission (when I have the money) will be this scenario. Niice.

Well, that's it then. I'm completely sure your list differs - depending on your sexual tastes, preferences, and orientation. A film's place in history, the canon to which it belongs, its "importance" or thematic and aesthetic "qualities" can be debated, BUT, a list of Hot Vampire Women is a very personal project. If you do fancy a sizzlin' vampiress - perhaps you'll agree with some of my choices and perhaps you won't. There's DOZENS of women I had to leave off of this list (I'm tempted to start listing them) which was made in haste, but they're up here (taps forehead) all right, they're up here...

Friday, May 16, 2008

R.I.P John Phillip Law 1937-2008


From the Associated Press:

"LOS ANGELES (AP) — John Phillip Law, the strikingly handsome 1960s movie actor who portrayed an angel in the futuristic "Barbarella" and a lovesick Russian seaman in "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming," has died. He was 70.

Law died Tuesday at his Los Angeles home, said his daughter Dawn Law. The cause of death was not announced.

With his vivid eyes, blond hair and imposing physique, Law was much in demand by filmmakers in the late 1960s and early '70s."

I adored John Phillip Law. His turns in Barbarella, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and Danger Diabolik made him a cult film lover's ideal idol. Ruggedly handsome, physically imposing, and very talented - Law was, and remains, a major icon of fantastic cinema. These qualities combined with his multi-lingual abilities made him a valuable commodity in the Europe of the 1960s and 70s - which were his most active decades as an actor. He was a genuinely decent man who lived a remarkable life. His commentary (with Tim Lucas) on Danger Diabolik is extremely lively, funny, informative and thoroughly enjoyable. We are grateful to have it. My friend in Spain - Carlos Aguilar, the world's greatest authority on Spanish cinema and an incredible film historian in general - has completed a book on John Phillip Law which we all eagerly await. Thank You John Phillip Law and rest in peace.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Clip of the Week

I've begun writing a very lengthy project. I will still continue to update the blog on a consistent basis, but while I get my bearings for this project, things might slow for just a little bit. In the meantime, enjoy the CLIP OF THE WEEK narrated by none other than one of my hugest, biggest heroes of all time ->->->->->-> JOE FUCKIN' DANTE! His website TRAILERS FROM HELL is a brilliant ever-growing collection of film trailers that are graced with commentaries from Dante's colleagues and friends, John Landis, Mary Lambert, Stuart Gordon, Alan Arkush, Rick Baker, Jon Davison, Jack Hill - and so on. As I've said before, Dante is my favorite film historian of all time. He's a bottomless pit of knowledge which is then augmented by his extensive (from grindhouse trailer editor to major studio director) industry experience. As Reni Santoni says in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid - "What a guy!"




Sunday, May 4, 2008

NEW RATING SYSTEM AT TRASH-AESTHETICS

Howdy Folks,

My favorite Television show of all time is M*A*S*H (I'll be posting on it in the near future). Meantime, I'm implementing a new rating system here at Trash-Aesthetics. I won't be using it too much as I mostly review by way of the GONE TO BED SERIES or GIRLS AM/WAS GA GA OVER, and those would all receive the highest rating possible, naturally. But, for other stuff, like films I go see and such - - we've got a new Commanding Officer in camp and here are his dictates:

An "OFFICIAL SHERMAN T. POTTER OKEY DOKEY" is the highest rating that can be earned. Not only do you have Col. Potter's respect, but you most certainly have outdone yourself in every way imaginable. This is, to me, praise of the utmost caliber. The item reviewed is purely, and simply, FAN-DAMN-TASTIC!


After an Official Sherm Okey Dokey, the next highest rating that can be earned is the "HOLY HEMOSTAT!" Sherm thinks very highly of your efforts. His respect and admiration for your skills are formidable and he would give his all to see that you earned a promotion, or at least, a commendation for your efforts. A class act all around.


The generally amused but slightly concerned or annoyed Potter is the next ranking on the latter down and is referred to here simply as
"OHH...PIGEON PELLETS!" Sherm is not overwhelmed or underwhelmed, he is a mildly interested bystander. Neither commendation or recommendation are in order. A job done - not necessarily well and not necessarily poorly.

Now Sherm is getting a bit sour, and if you are rating below a "Pigeon Pellets", you are heading for a none too complimentary Shermie "WHAT IN THE NAME OF SWEET FANNY ADAMS...?!" Sherm is not pleased at all. As his former character Major General Bartford Hamilton Steele (3 E's! Not all in a row!) would say... WASTE, WASTE, WASTE! This is a waste of time and Sherm recommends skipping it!


And, lastly. You're in the hoosegow big-time if you get the dreaded "SUFFERIN' SADDLESOAP." Sherm thinks you and your work are utterly worthless. You have disappointed a fine man and an old horse-soldier. For shame. For shame.





I reserve this rating if the piece being reviewed is somehow offensive to one's intelligence or causes irrational fits of rage. If you get the BJ MUSTACHE rating, wow, this movie is not fit for human consumption. Now don't get me wrong, I like B.J. Hunnicutt just fine. However, his mustache and occasional "over do it" episodes are inexcusable. If this rating is given out to a film, it is because I would like to urinate on it.

Lastly, if there is a film that transcends the boundaries set above, it will receive the opposite of the BJ MUSTACHE rating, the greatest and highest award a film can recieve. THE KLINGER STATUE OF LIBERTY rating! This is reserved for recognized masterworks, i.e., Citizen Kane, Sunrise, L'Avventura, and my personal recognized masterworks, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Black Sunday, Into the Blue, etc etc.


Hope this rating system will aid any readers as to how reception may be measured on my end. Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.