Author: Craig Zablo

Blonde Dynamite (1950) starring The Bowery Boys / Z-View

Blonde Dynamite (1950)

Director:  William Beaudine

Screenplay:  Charles R. Marion

Stars:  Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell, Harry Lewis, Murray Alper, Bernard Gorcey, Jody Gilbert, William ‘Billy’ Benedict, John Harmon, Michael Ross and Karen Randle

Tagline:  THE ESCORT BUREAU’S GOOFIEST GIGOLOS! They’re professional Romeos…to a gang of glamorous gun-girls!

The Plot…

When Slip (Leo Gorcey) and Satch (Hall) are unable to get jobs as male escorts, Slip decides to open his own escort service.  Slip convinces Louie (Bernard Gorcey) to take a long vacation.  As soon as Louie is gone, Slip turns the sweet shop into a male escort service using himself, Satch and the rest of the gang as escorts.

Gangsters have a plan to rob the bank next to the sweet shop.  They’ll go in at night since they’ve got the combination to the safe.  The mobsters use some of the women they work with to hire the boys as escorts so they can break through the sweet shop wall into the bank.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Bowery Boys as male escorts has a lot of potential for laughs.  I wish the movie was as good as the premise.

Blonde Dynamite earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Judge Dredd” Alt Poster by Mickaël Journou!

Mickaël Journou created this cool alt Judge Dredd poster.  Here’s what he had to say about it:

I recently rewatched the movie. An all-time classic for me (yeah, huge fan of Sly! haha). I’m obviously older now so I couldn’t help to wonder if our current society is heading towards what we see in that movie. This is my new full digital art poster!

You can see more of Journou’s art on his Twitter feed.

“Alligator” (1980) starring Robert Forster / Z-View

Alligator (1980)

Director:  Lewis Teague

Screenplay:  John Sayles from a story by John Sayles, Frank Ray Perilli

Stars: Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Michael V. Gazzo, Dean Jagger, Sydney Lassick, Jack Carter, Henry Silva, Buckley Norris and Sue Lyon 

Tagline:  It lives 50 feet beneath the city. It’s 36 feet long. It weighs 2,000 pounds…And it’s about to break out!

The Plot…

An alligator that was flushed into the Chicago sewers twelve years ago begins feeding on discarded animal remains used in experiments.  This causes the gator to grow to a gigantic size with an insatiable appetite.  When body parts of missing city workers show up, police officer David Madison (Forster) and a rookie cop are sent into the sewer to investigate.

They discover the alligator, or perhaps it’s better to say the alligator discovers them.  Madison barely escapes but his partner isn’t as lucky.  Madison reports that there’s a giant alligator living in the sewers system, but no one believes him until the gator comes to the surface… and it’s hungry!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Alligator is a better movie than you might think a low-budget Jaws knockoff would be. That’s  thanks to the folks involved.  Lewis Teague (Death Race 2000; Cujo) knows how to get the most bang for the buck directing low budget horror.  John (The Howling; Piranha; Lone Star) Sayles provides a story with more depth than expected from a giant alligator movie.  Robert Forster is joined by Michael (Godfather II) Gazzo, Sydney (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) Lassick and Henry (Sharky’s Machine) Silva.  Dean Jagger and Sue Lyons also appear in what would be their last film roles.

There are two cool Easter Eggs in Alligator: 1) The first sewer worker to go missing is named Edward Norton which is a tip of the hat to The Honeymooners.  2) There’s graffiti on a sewer wall near the end of the movie that says, “Harry Lime Lives”.  This is a reference to Orson Welles character in The Third Man who escapes through a sewer.

Bryan (Breaking Bad) Cranston worked on the film as a production assistant for the Special Effects department and became friends with Robert Forster.

Alligator isn’t a great film, but it’s better than you might expect.

Alligator earns 3 of 5 stars.

TROOPER DOWN! by Anthony Neil Smith is Coming!

Anthony Neil Smith recently shared the cover of his next novel, Trooper Down!  It’s described as a…

Psychological thriller in the Hitchcock tradition told in first person by a South Dakota State Trooper who is shot in the head and tries to redeem himself.

Trooper Down! isn’t available for pre-order yet.  Once it is, I’ll let you know… right after I put in my order.

“An Ache in Every Stake” (1941) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

An Ache in Every Stake (1941)

Director:  Del Lord

Screenplay:  Lloyd French

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Symona Boniface, Vernon Dent, Bess Flowers and Bud Jamison 

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

Larry, Curly and Moe are delivering ice using their horse drawn ice carriage.  Along the way, their escapades cause a business man to twice fall onto a birthday cake he is trying to bring home.  When a woman at the top of a very long/steep staircase calls for a block of ice, the boys are at a loss as how to get it up before it melts.

After several false, but funny starts, they get the ice up to the house.  Their antics disrupt the woman’s caterers so much that they quit.  No worries.  Larry, Curly and Moe offer to cook and serve the birthday meal… which is for, you guessed it, the man who was trying to get birthday cakes home.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

An Ache in Every Stake is another favorite Three Stooges short.  If the long staircase looks like the same one Laurel and Hardy tried to get a piano up, it’s not!  Yeah, I was sure it was too.

An Ache in Every Stake earns 5 of 5 stars.

TOO MANY BULLETS: A Nathan Heller Case by Max Allan Collins is Coming!

It’s no secret. I’m a huge fan of Max Allan Collins’ Nathan Heller series.  In it, detective Nathan Heller gets involved with famous cases throughout history.  Max Collins does an exhaustive amount of research for each book and provides a solution to each case, that is sometimes at odds with history.  As the series progresses, Heller ages in real time.

Hard Case Crime has announced that a new Heller book will be out in the Fall of 2023.  Titled Too Many Bullets, it will have Heller investigating Robert Kennedy’s assassination.  That’s the cover above, and it’s a beauty painted by Paul Mann.

If you’re a fan of alternative history or detective stories, heck, if you’re a fan of well written books, then you owe it to yourself to check out the Nathan Heller tales by Max Allan Collins.

“A Plumbing We Will Go” (1940) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

A Plumbing We Will Go (1940)

Director:  Del Lord

Screenplay:  Elwood Ullman

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Symona Boniface, Dudley Dickerson and Bud Jamison 

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

There’s bad blood between Officer Kelly (Jamison) and the boys (Larry, Curly and Moe) when a judge finds them innocent of stealing chickens. (And they’re plainly guilty!)  Later the cop sees the guys attempting to catch fish from a pet store tank.  The chase is on!

When a butler thinks the boys are plumbers, he invites them in.  Seeing the police officer getting closer, they accept the offer.  In order not to blow their cover, Larry, Curly and Moe attempt to fix a bathroom leak…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

A Plumbing We Will Go was Curly’s favorite Three Stooges Short.  It’s hard to argue that it’s not the best.  Every scene has a laugh, starting with the judge finding the boys not guilty of chicken stealing as Curly pulls out his hat and chicken feathers fly everywhere.  Most folks know the gag where Curly keeps adding pipes to pipes and traps himself.  But there’s so much more – the cook dealing with the results of the “plumbers” work – the guests watching tv with a picture “so real”… even the final scene has a callback to a magician who appeared in an earlier gag and returns to end the short with a great “trick”.

A Plumbing We Will Go earns 5 of 5 stars.

ABOVE SNAKES by Sean Lewis & Hayden Sherman is Coming!

As I was going through the latest issue of Previews, I came across Above Snakes by Sean Lewis & Hayden Sherman.

A supernatural Western about DIRT, a man out to avenge his wife’s death with nothing but a bloodthirsty vulture to guide his way. What happens when the story of Dirt’s pain gets stolen by others and the world he thought he understood turns upside down? Featuring the incredible work of the team behind THUMBS and THE FEW, this thrilling new series is best described as Deadwood meets The Sandman.

Above Snakes drops January 24, 2023.  If this sounds like something you’d like  pre-orders are available now.

“The Parallax View” (1974) starring Warren Beatty / Z-View

The Parallax View (1974)

Director:  Alan J. Pakula

Screenplay:  David Giler, Lorenzo Semple Jr. based on The Parallax View by Loren Singer

Stars: Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, William Daniels, Hume Cronyn, Chuck Waters, Earl Hindman, Bill McKinney, Jim Davis, Ted Gehring, Doria Cook-Nelson and Kenneth Mars 

Tagline:  Assassination. Try to see it from their point of view.

The Plot…

Joe Frady (Beatty) is a newspaper man covering presidential candidate Charles Carroll’s press conference. Frady’s girlfriend, television reporter Lee Carter (Prentiss) is also covering the event when a gunman shoots and kills Carroll.  An investigation determines that the gunman acted alone.

Three years later, Joe’s ex-girlfriend, Lee, shows up terrified.  Six witnesses to the Carroll assassination have died under mysterious circumstances. Lee believes that she will be next.  Joe tries to calm her and says that she’s over-reacting.  Yes, the witnesses died and some were in unusual circumstances, but all could be explained.  When Lee turns up dead of an overdose, Joe decides to do an investigation of his own.  Soon enough (and after some attempts on his life), Joe discovers an organization named the Parallax Corporation that he believes recruits assassins.  Joe decides to infiltrate the company and bring them down.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Parallax View is definitely a product of its time.  Director Pakula lets scenes play out.  I enjoyed the long, shots and pace, which may be too slow for many of today’s audience members.  Pakula is joined by a cast of powerhouse actors: Beatty, Prentis, Daniels, Cronyn and McKinney.

I would have liked The Parallax View better if I cared more about Joe Frady.  When his ex-girlfriend comes to him scared out of her mind and convinced she is the next target of professional assassins, Joe displays little sympathy.  Then she turns up dead and Joe’s biggest concern is to take up her story.

Joe’s plan to infiltrate a corporation of professional assassins is pretty weak.  The fact that they’ve successfully completed hits on Presidential candidates and those who know too much doesn’t factor into Joe’s thinking.  I had problems with Joe’s actions when he discovers a bomb is on his flight.  Joe also under-reacts when the “corporation” discovers he’s been lying to them.  There are other things I could nit pick, but the truth of the matter is that the direction by Alan J. Pakula is entertaining enough that I went with the flow,

The Parallax View earns 3 of 5 stars.

RIP: Robert Clary

Robert Clary, the actor best known as Corporal LeBeau on the popular television series, Hogan’s Heroes, has died.  Mr. Clary was 96.

Born in Paris, France, Robert Clary began singing professionally at the age of twelve!  When the Nazis invaded France, Robert Clary along with twelve other family members were sent to a concentration camp.  Mr. Clary was the only one to survive.

After the war, Robert Clary continued his singing career.  Some of his recordings were popular both in France and the U.S.  In 1949, Mr. Clary came to the United States.  He started getting roles on television and Broadway.

In 1965, Robert Clary began appearing on Hogan’s Heroes in the role that made him famous.  The series ran from 1965 – 1971.  In 1972, Mr. Clary was cast in a role on Days of Our Lives that lasted until 1987.  In 1990, he joined The Bold and the Beautiful in a part that lasted 43 episodes.

Other notable Robert  Clary appearances were in the feature film, The Hindenburg, as well as television guest spots on The High Chaparral, Love American Style. Fantasy Island and The Munsters Today,

Robert Clary always seemed to have a joy about him that made you smile.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Robert Clary’s family, friends and fans.

“The Last Deal” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

The poster is okay, but the trailer has me interested in seeing The Last Deal.

A black market marijuana dealer tries to make one final score before getting squeezed out of the business when cannabis becomes legal.

#TheLastDeal – In select theaters February 7th. Starring Anthony Molinari, Sala Baker, Mister Fitzgerald, Jeffri Lauren, Mike Ferguson, Audra Van Hees, Connor Floyd, Kenny Johnston, Orion McCabe, Gigi Gustin, April Lang, Tim Willis, Linda Burzynski, Jamil Zraikat

A CALCULATED MAN by Paul Tobin & Alberto Alburquerque is coming!

The graphic novel, A Calculated Man by writer, Paul Tobin and artist, Alberto Alburquerque is coming!

A verifiable math genius, Jack Beans used to run the numbers for the Pinafore crime family, until one day he ran them too well and concluded that the only way out of this life was in a casket or Witness Protection. So, he turned state’s evidence and ran.

Now, the Pinafores are out to end their favorite accountant. Little do they know that Jack’s skills with math and his perfect memory have made him a better killer than they ever could have realized. What follows is a journey full of murder, mayhem and mathematics.

Writer Paul Tobin (BUNNY MASK, MY DATE WITH MONSTERS) and artist Alberto Alburquerque (The Amazing Spider-Man, Savage Sword) unleash a master of math on a mission to eliminate a criminal empire for good.

A Calculated Man drops February 14, 2023.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day.  If this sounds like something you’d like  pre-orders are available now.

“Count Yorga, Vampire” (1970) / Z-View

Count Yorga, Vampire aka The Loves Of Count Iorga, Vampire (1970)

Director:  Bob Kelljan

Screenplay:  Bob Kelljan

Stars:  Robert Quarry, Roger Perry, Michael Murphy and Judy Lang

Tagline:  Because of Certain Shock Scenes We Suggest You Don’t Come Alone!

The Plot…

Donna’s mother recently died.  She invites her boyfriend, Michael (Thompson), and close friends Paul (Murphy), Ericka (Lang) and Jim (Perry) to a séance performed by Count Yorga.  After the séance Donna says that Yorga and her mother dated shortly before she died.  The next day Erica shows up with what appears to be bite marks on her neck that she can’t explain.  She has little energy and has lost a large amount of blood.  As Paul, Michael and Jim follow the clues, evidence points to Count Yorga being a modern day vampire!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Count Yorga is a low-budget release from American International originally conceived as a soft-core porn film.  Producers wanted Robert Quarry as the vampire.  Quarry said, he’d star, but only if they dropped the porn aspect.  The producers agreed.  Still, as you can tell from the poster, producers emphasized the sexual aspect and made sure there were scenes of women bathing, in nightgowns, etc.

Count Yorga is definitely a low-budget movie of the late 60s/early 70s.  With that said, it was also much better than I anticipated.

Count Yorga, Vampire aka The Loves Of Count Iorga, Vampire earns 3 of 5 stars.