Category: Trivia

“Master of Dark Shadows” (2019) / Z-View

Master of Dark Shadows (2019)

Director:  David Gregory

Stars: Dan Curtis, Nancy Barrett, Ben Cross, Roger Davis, Jonathan Frid, Ian McShane, William F. Nolan, Lara Parker, David Selby, Barbara Steele and Whoopi Goldberg.

Tagline:  The Gothic World of Dan Curtis

The Plot…

Dan Curtis’ soap opera, Dark Shadows, was scheduled for cancellation in six weeks.  When Curtis was told this, he decided to take his traditional daytime melodrama in a new direction,  He added a vampire!  Surprisingly the show soared to the top of the ratings.  Kids and young adults made it must-see tv and the show was saved.  Dark Shadows ended up running for six seasons.  Spin-offs included two feature films, comic books, trading cards, board games and more.

Although Dan Curtis became best known for films in the horror genre he wanted to break out into other genres.  Master of Dark Shadows is his story.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Dan Curtis produced and directed the two Dark Shadows feature films.  He also wrote the second.  Then when the series ended, Dan Curtis was considered the go-to guy for horror.  He produced The Night Stalker. It became the highest rated tv movie of its time.  Curtis followed that up by producing and directing The Night Strangler, The Norliss Tapes, Scream of the Wolf, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Turn of the Screw, Trilogy of Terror, Burnt Offerings, Dead of Night and Curse of the Black Widow.  Although Dan Curtis did produce and direct other films, he was still best known for horror.

That all changed when Curtis produced and directed the television adaptation of Herman Wouk’s Winds of War.  The seven episode mini-series became the highest rated television event of its time.  The series was nominated for eleven Emmy Awards, winning three (Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or a Special; Outstanding Individual Achievement – Costumers; Outstanding Individual Achievement – Special Visual Effects).

Dan Curtis followed with War and Remembrance, a continuation of Winds of War. War and Remembrance received 15 Emmy Award nominations.  It won for best miniseries, special effects, and single-camera production editing.

I’m happy that Dan Curtis was able to break out from the horror genre and make big budget, award winning projects.  But the truth of the matter is, I will always remember the thrill of running home from school to catch the latest adventures of Barnabus and Quentin Collins.  Five days a week on Dark Shadows we got vampires, werewolves, and a taste of horror.  I read the novelizations, comic books, collected the cards and saw the feature films.  The excitement we had as kids talking about Dark Shadows is a highlight of this kid’s elementary years.

If you’re of the right age, Master of Shadows will take you back to that time.  If you’re too young, then you’ll get a taste of something that will never be replicated.

Master of Dark Shadows (2019) earns 5 of 5 stars.

The Three Stooges Shorts: My Thoughts & Trivia After Viewing Them All!

When I was a little kid, I loved watching The Three Stooges shorts on television.  I was the perfect age for their slapstick antics.  At the time, I thought it would be cool to view every Three Stooges Short ever made.  Who knew that 6 decades later I’d finally complete the mission.

During the past year (and maybe a little longer), I watched all 190 Three Stooges’ shorts. Mission accomplished.  Every Stooges’ short is now Z-Viewed and posted.  My viewing resulted in some trivia…

Years with the most Stooges’ shorts released:

1943 – 10 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1940 – 9 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1946 – 9 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1948 – 9 starring Moe, Larry & Shemp
1950 – 9 starring Moe, Larry & Shemp
1953 – 9 starring Moe, Larry & Shemp

Years with the fewest Stooges’ shorts released:

1959 – 2 starring Moe, Larry & Joe
1933 – 4 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1945 – 5 starring Moe, Larry & Curly

Years that I rated the most 5 stars to Stooges’ shorts:

1938 – 5 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1943 – 5 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1940 – 4 starring Moe, Larry & Curly

Highest Average Rating for Stooges’ shorts released

1938 – 4.5 out of 5 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1943 – 4.4 out of 5 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1940 – 4.3 out of 5 starring Moe, Larry & Curly

Lowest Average Rating for Stooges’ shorts released

1958 – 2.67 starring Moe, Larry & Joe
1957 – 2,75 starring Moe, Larry & Joe
1959 – 3.0 starring Moe, Larry & Joe

From my ratings it becomes clear that my favorites were the shorts featuring Curly.  It could be because Moe, Larry and Curly were the trio of knuckleheads that I first discovered.  It could also be because Curly was my favorite Stooge for years.

Still is.

But I also enjoy Shemp’s antics.  He was a fine addition to the team when Curly had to leave because of health issues.  When I was younger, I didn’t like Joe at all.  I found him to be irritating and not funny.  As an adult, I appreciate Joe bringing his own brand of humor to the team.  And I do find him funny now.  There’s no argument that Joe’s years on the team were the worst.  But, it would be wrong to blame it on him.  At the point he came on board, Columbia was the only studio making shorts.  The slashed the budgets on the final Stooges’ two-reelers and used a lot of stock footage from earlier Stooges outings.  This was no fault of Joe’s.

It’s too bad that studios don’t make two-reelers any more.  They might help get folks back into theaters.  Heck, maybe just release some of  the best Stooges shorts.  It’s time for a new generation to discover them.

“Dizzy Detectives” (1943) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Dizzy Detectives (1943)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard and Bud Jamison.

Tagline: Deliriously daffy with laughs!

The Plot…

Our boys are carpenters turned cops dealing with crooks & a gorilla. Of course they are.  Let the monkeyshines begin!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The opening scene is reused from the Stooges 1935 short, Pardon My Scotch.  It’s the scene where a table that Moe is standing on is cut in half by Curly.  Moe took the fall in real life and broke three ribs.

Dizzy Detectives (1943) earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Sappy Bull Fighters” (1959) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Sappy Bull Fighters (1959)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Jack White

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser and Joe Palma.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

The boys are entertainers down in Mexico.  When their suitcases get mixed up with the woman of an insanely jealous husband, the hijinks begin!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Sappy Bull Fighters is a reboot of the Stooges 1942 short What’s the Matador?,  Eagle-eyed viewers will spot Curly in some of the reused footage.

Although Sappy Bull Fighters wasn’t the last Stooges’ short filmed. it was the last to be released to theaters.

It may be Mary Tyler Moore playing a ballet dancer in the background at around the 1:30 mark.  It sure looks like her.

Sappy Bull Fighters (1959) earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Frasier” – Season 1 (2023) starring Kelsey Grammer / Z-View

Frasier – Season 1 (2023)

Based on: Frasier by David Angell & Peter Casey & David Lee; Frasier Crane by Glen Charles & Les Charles; developed by Chris Harris, Joe Cristalli

Director:  James Burrows (Eps.1 – 2); Kelly Park (Ep. 3; 6); Kelsey Grammer (Eps. 4; 7 – 8; 10); Phill Lewis (Ep. 5);

Teleplay by: Joe Cristalli & Chris Harris (Ep. 1); Stephen Lloyd (Ep. 2); Lauren Houseman (Ep. 3); Bob Daily (Ep. 4); Farhan Arshad (Ep. 5); Joe Cristalli (Ep. 6); Sasha Stroman (Ep. 7); Miles Woods (Ep. 8); Robb Chavis (Ep. 9); Janene Lin & Jenna Martin & Naima Pearce (Ep. 10)

Starring:  Kelsey Grammer, Jack Cutmore-Scott, Toks Olagundoye, Jess Salgueiro, Anders Keith, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Jimmy Dunn, Bebe Neuwirth and Peri Gilpin.

Tagline: None.

The Plot: 

Frasier Crane, a Harvard educated, wealthy and famous television psychologist moves back to Boston after the death of his father.  Frasier hopes to rebuild a relationship with his grown son, Freddy.  Freddy is now a firefighter, having dropped out of Harvard.  Frasier buys the apartment building where Freddy lives, moves in and returns to Harvard as a Professor.

Let the good times roll

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

The season starts off a bit shaky but really hits stride with episode 6 which reaches the high bar set by the original series.

Many scenes take place in a bar called Mahoney’s.  This is a tribute to the late John Mahoney who played Frasier’s father in the original series.  It’s interesting to note that Kelsey Grammer is older than John Mahoney was when he played Frasier’s dad.

Frasier – Season 1 (2023)

Outer Space Jitters (1957) starring The Three Stooges and Dan Blocker! / Z-View

Outer Space Jitters (1957)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Jack White

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser, Emil Sitka, Philip Van Zandt. Dan Blocker. Diana Darrin and Joe Palma.

Tagline:  The planet of Sunev – Somewhere in outer space – “Sunev is Venus spelled backwards”

The Plot…

Moe, Larry and Joe travel to the planet Sunev.  The rulers there seem nice, but in reality they are planning to take over the planet Earth!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Dan Blocker, who would become famous playing Hoss Cartwright on Bonanza appears as a monster.  Sadly, he’s billed as Don Blocker in the opening credits.

Outer Space Jitters features a weak script with a weaker ending.  The boys deserved better.

Outer Space Jitters (1957) earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Die Hard 2” Trivia from Renny Harlin!

Rob Hunter at Film School Rejects posted 22 Things We Learned from Renny Harlin’s ‘Die Hard 2’ Commentary.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorites and my thoughts on each…

Harlin was first hired by 20th Century Fox to make Alien 3, but when that fell apart he was instead offered The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. The studio liked the dailies from that film so much that they offered him Die Hard 2. The schedule was so tight that he was still finishing shots on Ford Fairlane while jumping into Die Hard 2, and he planned on doing post-production on both simultaneously. “I was thirty years old, I had lots of energy, I loved movies, I loved working with Joel Silver.”

It’s odd that Harlin was up for Alien 3, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane and Die Hard 2.  They are such different types of movies.  While I’m not a fan of Alien 3, I am of the other two. – Craig

Harlin chuckles at the changes in audience climate “these days” (circa 2001 when this track was recorded). “While I’m watching the movie I’m realizing there’s quite a lot of cursing in it, and also Bruce Willis is smoking.” He thinks that, in today’s world, there has to be a specific reason as to why the character is smoking. “And the same thing with cursing.”

If I was in the situation that John McClane found himself in, I’d do a lot of cursing too.  Heck, I might even take up smoking. – Craig

Harlin’s favorite scene in the film is where McClane is trapped in the cockpit, surrounded by bad guys shooting and lobbing grenades his way. He likes seeing protagonists placed in extremely difficult situations. “Obviously planes like this don’t really have ejection seats, but we decided they would.”

That is probably Die Hard 2’s signature scene.  If you’re not making a documentary, and you do the scene well. audiences will forgive things like this not found in real life. – Craig

“Black Angel” (1946) starring Dan Duryea, June Vincent, Peter Lorre & Broderick Crawford / Z-View

Black Angel (1946)

Director:  Roy William Neill

Screenplay: Roy Chanslor based on the novel THE BLACK ANGEL by Cornell Woolrich

Stars: Dan Duryea, June Vincent, Peter Lorre, Broderick Crawford, Wallace Ford, Robert B. Williams and George Ford.

Tagline: DURYEA! …that fascinating tough-guy of “Scarlet Street”!

The Plot…

Martin Blair (Duryea) wants to see his estranged wife, Mavis Marlowe.  It’s their anniversary and he’s sent Mavis a large ruby brooch in an effort to win her back.  Yet, she’s told the doorman to NOT allow Martin up.  Dejected and rejected, Martin goes to get drunk.  He then stumbles to his room, where a friend locks him in for the night.

Later, Kirk Bennet goes up to see Mavis.  He finds her on the floor.  She’s dead.  Kirk notices she’s wearing a huge ruby brooch.  When Kirk hears a noise in the apartment, he realizes he’s not alone.  As he carefully makes his way through the bedroom, he hears someone running out.  Kirk goes back to find the brooch missing and the front door open.  Kirk realizes he’s in a bad spot and runs to the stairwell.  He’s seen as he flees.

When the cops pick up Kirk, it becomes clear that he was having an affair with Mavis, despite being married.  Kirk’s wife, Catherine (Vincent) doesn’t believe her husband is a killer.  Kirk claims Mavis was blackmailing him. This just gives the cops more reason to think he killed Mavis.

Catherine is grasping at straws to find evidence to clear her husband when she meets Martin.  Catherine believes he could be the killer.  Martin says the police thought so too at first.  Except he couldn’t have killed Mavis since he was knock-down drunk and locked in his room when the murder occurred.  Martin takes pity on Catherine and offers to help her find the killer.

Kirk is on death row and the clock is ticking.  What chance does a housewife and functioning alcoholic have of finding the real murderer?  Tick tock tick toc…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Black Angel is loosely based on Cornell Woolrich’s novel of the same name.  Woolrich is said to dislike the film because of the changes made.  Since I haven’t read the book, I wasn’t hindered by expectations. I thought I knew how it would play out.  Boy, was I wrong.  I was surprised by twist ending.

This was the last film directed by Roy William Neill.  He died shortly after the release of Black Angel.  Neill is best known as the director of several Sherlock Holmes‘ films as well as the classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.

Dan Duryea, on the other hand, had a career that was heating up.  He’s even the subject of Black Angel‘s tagline.  Broderick Crawford has a small but important role.  Four years later Crawford would win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for All the King’s Men.

Black Angel (1946) earns 4 of 5 stars.

“A Merry Mix-up” (1957) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

A Merry Mix-up (1957)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser and Diana Darrin.

Tagline: Hilarious?  Better Than Ever!

The Plot…

Three sets of triplets (played by Larry, Moe and Joe) lose track of each other after the war.  Moe, Larry and Joe are single.  Morris, Luke and Jeff are engaged and soon to be married.  Max, Louie and Jack are all happily married.  None of the brothers have told their girls about the brothers that they haven’t seen in years.

As luck would have it, all the brothers and their girls show up at the same nightclub at different times.  Unfortunately when the girls arrive they mistake the wrong set of brothers as their guys.  All of the girls think their guys are cheating and the guys have no clue what is going on.

Let the hijinks begin.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The one-sheet poster for A Merry Mix-up lists the Stooges as Shemp, Larry and Joe!

Most of the shots when there is more than one set of twins was accomplished with doubles for each Stooge.  The final shot with a 9 brothers in the same scene was accomplished with a matte shot using a triple exposure.

A Merry Mix-up (1957) earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Muscle Up A Little Closer” (1957) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Muscle Up A Little Closer (1957)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser and Maxine Gates.

Tagline: Hilarious?  Better Than Ever!

The Plot…

Joe, Larry and Moe plan to propose marriage to their girls.  Joe discovers that the ring he bought for his sweetheart is missing.  The boys believe that a bully from work stole it.  Our guys decide to confront the lug in the company gym.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

In Muscle Up A Little Closer Larry and Moe wear more conservative haircuts for the first time in the series. The new haircuts would appear from time to time in the Stooges’ shorts with Joe Besser (he suggested the new style do’s).  The problem was that most of the new shorts contained footage from previous Stooges’ outings and the hairstyles wouldn’t match.

Muscle Up A Little Closer (1957) earns 3 of 5 stars.

Rare Arnold Schwarzenegger Photos – “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” – Interview Magazine, June 1991

The photo above comes from the Zablo vault.  It’s a centerspread from the June 1991 Interview magazine.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is featured on the cover and an interview.  This was prior to the release of Terminator 2: Judgment Day.  Here’s an interesting exchange…

Interview: You’ve got a sequel coming to The Terminator, a film that did a lot of things for you.
Arnold: Pumping Iron was a good vehicle for me.  Conan the Barbarian was a good vehicle for me.  But, Terminator, which came three years after that, was a great vehicle.  It took me from the Conan-like parts that were being offered to me because of my body – which of course I understood, because that was my big asset then – and created good box office.  And that sent a whole new signal to the community.

Interview: This time there’s another terminator who’s badder than you.  Was it a concerted decision not to have you play the film’s villain this time?
Arnold: We talked about me playing the good guy and the bad guy – two terminators with two different missions.  Both look alike, but when they were taken off the rack they were programmed differently and then sent to the past.  We played around with the idea, but the more we talked about it, the more, I think Jim [James Cameron, the director of both Terminator films] felt the new terminator should be a streamlined-looking character.  It should look the opposite of me.  Very lean.

It’s interesting to read Arnold’s thoughts prior to the success of Terminator 2.  What do you think?  Would T2 worked as well with Arnold playing both parts?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

“Chrome and Hot Leather” (1971) starring William Smith / Z-View

Chrome and Hot Leather (1971)

Director: Lee Frost

Screenplay by: Michael Haynes & David Neibel and Don Tait from a story by Michael Haynes & David Neibel

Starring: William Smith, Tony Young, Michael Haynes, Peter Brown, Michael Stearns, Larry Bishop, Kathrine Baumann, Wes Bishop, Herb Jeffries, Bobby Pickett, Cheryl Ladd (aka Cherie Moor), Robert Ridgely, Erik Estrada, Dan Haggerty  and Marvin Gaye.

Tagline: A terrifying look at Motor Cycle Savagery – from the same studio that made “Born Losers”

The Story:

When a US Special Forces sergeant learns that his fiancé was killed by the member of a motorcycle gang, he recruits three of his service buddies to track down the murderer.  Four Viet Nam vets against an entire motorcycle gang?  Yeah, that sounds about right.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

William Smith and Peter Brown co-starred in the television series Laredo before working on this film.

Chrome and Hot Leather features some interesting cast member trivia…

  • Cheryl Ladd made her feature film debut billed as Cherie Moor.
  • Marvin Gaye, best known as a multi-Grammy award-winning singer, made his feature film debut as well.
  • Bobby Pickett, best known as the writer/singer of the classic The Monster Mash appears.
  • Herb Jeffries, a popular jazz singer and actor in films made for African-American audiences in the 1930s/1940s, shows up.
  • Erik Estrada can be seen in an uncredited role in only his second feature film.
  • Dan Haggerty also has an uncredited role.  He plays a bearded member of the biker gang.

Chrome and Hot Leather (1971) was made to cash in on the biker craze of the era.  It’s a low-budget drive-in film.  William Smith was built for biker films.  If he was a bit younger, he’d have been an action movie star of the 80s.  Still playing Conan’s dad is quite a notch on your resume.

ALFRED HITCHCOCK STORYBOARDS by Tony Lee Moral

ALFRED HITCHCOCK STORYBOARDS by Tony Lee Moral will appeal to Hitchcock fans and movie lovers.

A one-of-a-kind historical document and celebration of the artwork behind several of the Master of Suspense’s greatest films.

This stunning coffee table book focuses on the storyboards for nine of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movies – Vertigo, The Birds, Psycho, North by Northwest, The 39 Steps, Torn Curtain, Marnie, Shadow of a Doubt and Spellbound. It includes never before-published images and incisive text putting the material in context and examining the role the pieces played in some of the most unforgettable scenes in cinema. Hitchcock author and aficionado Tony Lee Moral takes you through the last 100 years of cinema, with the Master of Suspense as your guide.

ALFRED HITCHCOCK STORYBOARDS drops February 6, 2024.

“The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) directed by James Whale, starring Boris Karloff, Colin Clive & Elsa Lanchester / Z-View

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Director:  James Whale

Screenplay by:  William Hurlbut, story by William Hurlbut, John L. Balderston based on premise suggested by FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Elsa Lanchester, Valerie Hobson, Ernest Thesiger,  Gavin Gordon, Douglas Walton, E.E. Clive, Dwight Frye, Billy Barty, Walter Brennan, John Carradine and Una O’Connor.

Tagline: A BRIDE FOR THE MONSTER COMES TO LIFE IN A SCIENTIST’S LABORATORY!

The Story: 

The Bride of Frankenstein picks up immediately where Frankenstein ended.  Miraculously, although severely injured, Henry Frankenstein (Clive) is not dead. As the crowd breaks up, some carry Henry back home to recover.  Meanwhile the monster, also thought to be dead, has survived the destruction of the windmill.  It climbs out and begins to wander the countryside.

Once healthy enough, Henry pays a visit to his friend Doctor Pretorius (Thesiger).  Pretorius shares results of his experiments and encourages Henry to continue efforts to create living creatures from cadavers.  Henry is hesitant.  Despite Pretorius’ pleas, Henry refuses.

Things heat up when the monster returns, Pretorius prevails and Henry is forced to create The Bride of Frankenstein.  We learn there’s one thing worse than an upset bride.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

It’s rare that a sequel is better than the original.  The Bride of Frankenstein is one of those rare ones.

Universal wanted a follow up after the success of Frankenstein.  Director James Whale was hesitant to return.  It took four years and multiple writers to come up with a suitable script.  Once Whale and the script were in place, Karloff, Clive and Frye returned to reprise their roles.

Elsa Lanchester isn’t listed in the opening credits instead a ? is used to name who was playing the Bride. The same was done in Frankenstein when a ? was listed instead of Karloff’s name as the actor playing The Monster.  Despite being the title character the Bride only appears for a few minutes at the very end of the film.

The scene where Henry visits Doctor Pretorius and is shown the little people he created has always seemed a bit out of place to me.

The Bride of Frankenstein has more humor than the original, but the balance is right and it doesn’t detract from the film.  I’m looking at you, Una O’Connor.

There are some surprising uncredited cameos in The Bride of Frankenstein. Billy Barty plays a baby, while Walter Brennan and John Carradine show up as town folk.

The Twilight Zone’s Best Twist Endings!

Devin Meenan came up with a list of The 6 Best Twist Endings In Twilight Zone History, Ranked. The list is a good one. Before you click over to read Devin’s rankings and rationale, below is how I’d rank them.  I also included three that didn’t make Devin’s list and my rationale for each.

Beware of spoilers!

06. Eye of the Beholder
05. A Nice Place To Visit
04. Time Enough At Last
03. The Midnight Sun
02. The Invaders
01. To Serve Man

  • Nightmare at 20,000 Feet:  We know there really is a creature on the wing of the plane. THAT isn’t the twist.  The twist is when we realize that if Shatner’s character hadn’t taken drastic action, the gremlin would have crashed the plane killing everyone! We learn this as Shatner’s character is strapped to a gurney to go back to a mental institution.
  • The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street: This episode has one of the great twists of the series.  Neighbors have turned on each other resulting in at least one murder.  Each thinks the other could be the “alien”.  The things leading to this are mundane.  Lights going on and off.  A car starting.  In the midst of the mayhem the camera pulls back and we see the two aliens causing the events.  The aliens realize it doesn’t take much to get humans to turn on each other.  A world takeover will be easy.
  • Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?:  This episode contains a double twist.  We’ve spent the episode wondering who is the alien (if there really is one).  The reveal is that one of the passengers is indeed an alien.  He/It brags to the counterman that an invasion to take over the earth is coming.  Then we get the 2nd twist.  The counterman reveals that he/it is an alien as well.  His race is aware of the other aliens’ plan to take over the earth.  His “people” have intercepted and wiped them out.  The earth will be theirs!