Author: Craig Zablo

“The Recruit” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Ignore the poster (ugh) but check out the trailer for The Recruit!  I like the looks of this one.  Deal me in!

Watch the official trailer for The Recruit, an upcoming Netflix series starring Noah Centineo. A fledgling lawyer at the CIA becomes enmeshed in dangerous international power politics when a former asset threatens to expose the nature of her long-term relationship with the agency unless they exonerate her of a serious crime. All episodes streaming December 16, only on Netflix.

NIGHT FEVER by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips is Coming!

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have announced their next graphic novel, Night Fever.  Here’s the lowdown…

Who are you, really? Are you the things you do, or are you the person inside your mind?

In Europe on a business trip, Jonathan Webb can’t sleep. Instead, he finds himself wandering the night in a strange foreign city, with his new friend, the mysterious and violent Rainer as his guide. Rainer shows Jonathan the hidden world of the night, a world without rules or limits. But when the fun turns dangerous, Jonathan may find himself trapped in the dark… And the question is, what will he do to get home?

Night Fever is a pulse-pounding noir thriller from grand masters Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. A Jekyll-and-Hyde story of a man facing the darkness inside himself, this riveting tour of the night is a must-have for all Brubaker and Phillips readers!

Night Fever drops June 20, 2023.  Pre-orders are available now.  Deal me in!

“Return to Glennascaul” aka “Orson Welles’ Ghost Story” (1951) / Z-View

Return to Glennascaul aka Orson Welles’ Ghost Story (1951)

Director:  Hilton Edwards

Screenplay:  Hilton Edwards

Stars:  Orson Welles and Michael Laurence 

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

Orson Welles is driving late one night on a nearly deserted road.  He spots a stranded motorist beside a car and asks the man if he could use a ride.  The man accepts and they drive off.  To pass the time, the man begins to tell Welles of an incident where, at the very same spot the man picked up two women who were stranded…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Welles actually made Return to Glennascaul while he was on a break from filming Othello.  When Welles picks up the stranded motorist, he asks him what’s wrong with his car.  The man replies, “Trouble with the distributor.”  Welles replies that he’s had problems with his distributor as well.  Welles is of course referring to the producers of Othello which is a cute inside joke.

Return to Glennascaul is a short ghost story that is enhanced by having Orson Welles as the “star” narrator.

Return to Glennascaul aka Orson Welles’ Ghost Story earns 3 of 5 stars.

“El Vampiro Negro” (1953) / Z-View

El Vampiro Negro (1953)

Director:  Román Viñoly Barreto

Screenplay:  Alberto Etchebehere, Román Viñoly Barreto based on the screenplay M by Fritz Lang & Thea von Harbou

Stars:  Olga Zubarry, Roberto Escalada and Nathán Pinzón.

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

A serial killer that the press labeled El Vampiro Negro (The Black Vampire) continues his killing spree of little girls.  Late one evening Amalia (Zubarry), a singer in a less than reputable nightclub, accidentally spies the killer dumping a child’s body in a sewer drain.  Amalia is frightened and afraid to go to the police.  When detectives ask questions of the nightclub’s employees, Amalia lies and says she didn’t see anything.

El Vampiro Negro continues to murder little girls. When police find their bodies, there is no evidence left behind. The killer is both smart and lucky.  As a patron of the nightclub where Amalia sings, the killer comes into contact with Amalia’s young daughter.  She will be his next victim…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

El Vampiro Negro is a re-tooling of Fritz Lang’s M.  Although the title might make you think El Vampiro Negro is a silly horror film, it is far from being silly.  I’m surprised that El Vampiro Negro isn’t better known since it is well written and beautifully directed.  The black and white cinematography by Aníbal González Paz is mesmerizing.  The camera loves Olga Zubarry and she’s excellent in her role.  Peter Lore became an international star after his performance as the killer in M.  Unfortunately Nathán Pinzón didn’t receive the fame, but his performance is just as powerful.

El Vampiro Negro earns 5 of 5 stars.

RIP: Anthony “Rumble” Johnson

Anthony “Rumble” Johnson passed away yesterday at the age of 38.  His cause of death was organ failure from a form of cancer known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis.

In 2004, Anthony Johnson won the 174 pound National Junior College Athletic Association championship.  He then transitioned into martial arts.  Mr. Johnson had a 4-0 record when he accepted a UFC fight on just a few days notice.  Johnson won the bout with a 13 second KO.  Anthony Johnson would go on to post a 23 – 6 record, with one Fight of the Night bonus, two Knockout of the Night bonuses and five Performance of the Night bonuses.  When Anthony Johnson fought, fans were assured of an exciting bout.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Anthony Johnson’s family, fans and friends.

Termites of 1938 (1938)

Termites of 1938 (1938)

Director:  Del Lord

Screenplay:  Elwood Ullman, Al Giebler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Bess Flowers, Symona Boniface, Carlton Griffin and Bud Jamison.

Tagline:  They’ve Got the Bug-House Blues!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Mrs. Muriel Van Twitchell (Flowers) wants to attend a high class dinner party that a friend is throwing to honor a guest from England.  The problem is that her husband is going hunting.  She decides to call an escort service so she won’t have to attend alone.  A mistake causes her to phone ACME Exterminators (run by Larry, Curly and Moe) instead of ACME Escorts.  She tells them the time to show up and the affair is formal.

The boys show up dressed in their best and ready to kill pests.  The butler announces dinner is served and Moe tells Larry and Curly, they “always feed ya at these high class joints”.  The boys eat like they think rich folks do, and when Lord Wafflebottom follows their lead, everyone at the party does the same bizarre things.  After dinner, the boys provide musical entertainment and then get down to looking for pests to exterminate.

Moe gets the funniest scene that involves a hanging blanket, a broom, a high class lady and her butler.

Termites of 1938 earns 5 of 5 stars.

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007) / Z-View

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007)

Director:  Kent Jones

Screenplay: Kent Jones

Stars: Martin Scorsese (narrator), Orson Welles, Val E. Lewton, Roger Corman, Jacques Tourneur, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Robert Wise.

Tagline:  None.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Val Lewton began his career as a writer of pulp fiction.  He had two published novels before he took a job at MGM.  There Lewton wrote promotional copy and film novelizations.  Lewton later became publicist and assistant to David Selznick.  Under Selznick, Lewton worked as a story editor and uncredited writer on Gone with the Wind.

In 1942, Val Lewton left MGM to become head of the horror division at RKO studios. He was given carte blanche if he followed three rules: 1) Each film had to be made for $150,000 or less.  2) Each film had to run 75 minutes or less.  3) Lewton’s supervisors at RKO would provide the film titles.  Surprisingly, given these parameters, Lewton made a name for himself by taking control of all other aspects of the films he produced.

Lewton’s first RKO film, Cat People became RKO’s biggest hit of the year.  Lewton developed a friendship with it’s director,  Jacques Tourneur.  They reteamed on two other films (I Walked with a Zombie and The Leopard Man).  Lewton gave Robert Wise (The Curse of the Cat People) and Mark Robson (The Seventh Victim) their first opportunities to direct.  Boris Karloff also appeared in three of Lewton’s films (Isle of the Dead; The body Snatcher and Bedlam). Karloff credited Lewton for helping rejuvenate his career.  Val Lewton always wrote the final draft of the films he produced, but seldom took a writing credit.  In the two cases where he did accept a credit, Lewton used the  pseudonym Carlos Keith (which he also used for some novels).

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows focuses on Lewton’s career at RKO and the (mostly horror) films he produced there.  The films were:  Cat People (1942); I Walked with a Zombie (1943); The Leopard Man (1943); The Seventh Victim (1943); The Ghost Ship (1943); The Curse of the Cat People (1944); Mademoiselle Fifi (1944); Youth Runs Wild (1944); The Body Snatcher (1945); Isle of the Dead (1945) and Bedlam (1946).

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Hold That Line” (1952) starring The Bowery Boys / Z-View

Hold That Line (1952)

Director:  William Beaudine

Screenplay:  Tim Ryan, Charles R. Marion, Bert Lawrence (additional dialogue)

Stars:  Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, John Bromfield, Veda Ann Borg, Taylor Holmes, Bernard Gorcey, Gil Stratton, David Gorcey, Benny Bartlett, Pierre Watkin, Robert Nichols and Paul Bryar.

Tagline:  They’ve Gone COLLEGE CRAZY! It’s their dizziest laff hit!

The Plot…

Hold That Line starts off as a take on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.  Two college alumni are discussing Ivy College.  One believes that anyone can succeed in college if given the chance.  The gentlemen make a bet and the Bowery Boys are chosen to test the theory.

What’s interesting about Hold the Line is that partway through the film, the “Pygmalion” aspect takes a backseat to football rivalry.  State always beats Ivy in the football championship.  While in chemistry class, Sach (Hall) invents a concoction that gives him super strength.  Sach becomes the star of the football team and big man on campus.  On the day of the championship game against State, gangsters kidnap Sach in order to win bets.  Will Sach get away from the gangsters?  If he doesn’t can Slip (Gorcey) and the gang pull off an upset?  And what about the original “Pygmalion” bet?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Hold the Line is a fun outing.  If you think it’s odd to see 35 year old Slip and 32 year old Satch as college freshmen, just wait until 64 year old Louie (Bernard Gorcey) joins them.

Angels in Disguise earns 3 of 5 stars.

HELL OF A MESS by Nick Kolakowski / Z-View

Hell of a Mess by Nick Kolakowski

Trade Paperback: ‎ 234 pages
Publisher: ‎ Shotgun Honey Books (August 25, 2022)

First sentence…

It was the worst possible timing – or maybe the best.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Fiona and Bill are back.

As a major hurricane bears down on New York, Fiona is on a mission to pull off a heist from a bad guy’s luxury penthouse.  She has a plan to get past the security team, grab the item and be gone before they know it’s missing.  What Fiona didn’t count on was what she found in the master bedroom.  Now she’s on the run with redacted due to spoiler.

Bill is riding out the storm in a “borrowed” penthouse.  The place is well-stocked and the owner left for safer regions well before the hurricane was scheduled to hit.  Bill plans to eat and drink, as he waits for Fiona to return.  Suddenly a group of dirty cops bust into the penthouse. They’re looking for redacted due to spoiler  but find Bill instead!  The cops are desperate.  Bill realizes they’ll kill him unless he can convince them he knows of money ripe for the taking.  Bill’s a good con man, but how long can he con these hardcore cops?

Fiona is on the run, slowed down by redacted due to spoiler.  Bill’s a prisoner of rouge cops driving to the promised “treasure”.  The weather’s getting worse.  What else could go wrong?  How about a hitman that Bill and Fiona had left for dead, ain’t.  And he’s back.  Yeah, it’s a hell of a mess and things are about to get worse.

Hell of a Mess rates 4 of 5 stars.  It’s a rollercoaster ride from start to finish.  I hope we’ll see a Love & Bullets Hookup Book 5.

Hell of a Mess Trade Paperback
Hell of a Mess Kindle


“John Wick: Chapter 4” – The Trailer is Here!

Wow!  We’ve seen the poster before, but the trailer for John Wick: Chapter 4 is fire and worth the wait.  I love it! (And yes, it will get me back in a theater.)

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) uncovers a path to defeating the High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.

Only in theaters & IMAX March 24. Starring Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Lance Reddick, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins, and Ian McShane.

“The Tetris Murders” – The Trailer is Here!

The Tetris Murders looks good.  I may have to check this one out.

The Tetris Murders, is a three-part documentary series, premiering on Monday, December 5 at 9/8c on ID and also available to stream the same day on discovery+.

In the late ‘80s and ‘90s, the puzzle-based video game TETRIS exploded across America and eventually took the rest of the world by storm. To this day, the iconic game’s popularity endures, with people of all ages and backgrounds playing it on their phones or devices. However, unknown to many, one of the minds behind the widely popular global sensation met a very tragic, complex, and deadly end. On September 22, 1998, Vladimir Pokhilko, who was involved with the development of TETRIS, was found dead alongside his wife and their young son in their Palo Alto, California, home. Now, more than two decades later, the Palo Alto Police Department homicide investigators who were first on the scene revisit the haunting crime. Over the course of this gripping three-part docuseries, the investigators unearth new theories and evidence, further unraveling the mystery of this crime. What was once thought to be a murder-suicide in 1998 is now revealed to be something much more sinister. As the investigators revisit the evidence, dark connections to Russia surface.