Author: Craig Zablo

“D.B. Cooper: Where Are You?” (2022) / Z-View

D.B. Cooper: Where Are You? (2022)

Director:   Marina Zenovich

Screenplay by:  None

Starring:  Tom Colbert

Tagline:  None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

On November 24, 1971, a man the press mistakenly labeled D.B. Cooper (he actually bought the ticket using the name Dan Cooper) hijacked a plane.  He claimed to have a bomb, demanded $200,000.00 and four parachutes.  The plane landed.  The cash and parachutes were brought on board.  Everyone except the pilot and a few other crew members were allowed to leave.  The plane was refueled and took off.  Somewhere in flight, during a rainstorm at night, the hijacker (with the cash) parachuted from the plane.  He was never caught.

D.B. Cooper: Where Are You? is more about Tom Colbert (and folks like him) who are obsessed with finding D.B. Cooper than the actual case.  There have been thousands of leads called in to the F.B.I. and despite the resources available to them no one was ever arrested.  What’s interesting is the number of amateur sleuths who believe that they know who D.B. Cooper was/is.  There are enough of these folks that there is an annual D.B. Cooper convention where “fans” show up to hear the latest theories, buy the newest books, t-shirts and more.

If you’re looking to a definite answer as to who D.B. Cooper is/was, this is not the documentary for you.  It’s amazing how many viable suspects were interviewed and thought to potentially be D.B., yet no one was ever charged.  I also enjoyed the look at the folks who have made the D.B. Cooper case a big part of their lives.  D.B. Cooper: Where Are You? earns 4 of 5 stars.

“The Postman Always Rings Twice” (1981) Starring Jack Nicolson & Jessica Lange / Z-View

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)

Director:   Bob Rafelson

Screenplay by:  David Mamet based on the James M. Cain novel The Postman Always Rings Twice

Starring:  Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, John Colicos, Michael Lerner, John P. Ryan and Anjelica Huston

Tagline:  In the heat of passion two things can happen. The second is murder.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Frank Chambers (Nicholson) is a drifter who plans to scam a meal from a roadside diner and move on.  When the diner’s owner, Nick Papadakis (Colicos), offers Chambers a job, he declines… then he catches a look at Papadakis’ young wife (Lange).  Chambers takes the job,

Soon he and young Mrs. Papadakis are involved in a low-rent romance.  As things heat up, their thoughts turn to cold-blooded murder.  With Mr. Papadakis permanently out of the way, they’ll have each other and the diner to themselves.  They think they’ll be on the way to easy street, but depending on how things turn out it could be the electric chair!

This film is the fourth version of James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice.  It was David Mamet’s first produced screenplay and had Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange in the lead roles.  My expectations were high.  Sadly, I was disappointed.  The advertisements for the film boasted of the heat between Nicholson and Lange.  I didn’t feel it.  Chambers and Papadakis’ wife need to be so in love (or at least in lust) that they’re willing to risk everything.  I had the feeling that either of them could have moved on without a glance back.  The love scenes weren’t loving or even sexy.

I’m a huge fan of the 1946 movie version starring Lana Turner and John Garfield which I thought was a 5 star film.  This could have influenced my feelings toward the remake which earns 2 of 5 stars.

The Spoilers (1942) Starring Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott & John Wayne / Z-View

The Spoilers (1942)

Director:  Ray Enright

Screenplay by:  Lawrence Hazard, Tom Reed based on  The Spoilers novel by Rex Beach

Starring:  Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott, John Wayne, Margaret Lindsay and Harry Carey

Tagline: BOLD WOMEN! BRAWNY MEN! Living…loving in the Hot-spot of the Frozen North!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Roy Glennister (Wayne) and his partner, Al Dextry (Carey) are goldminers in a partnership with saloon owner, Cherry Malotte (Dietrich).  The trio’s goldmine has a rich vein and they found it.  Things are looking good until the new gold commissioner, Alex McNamara (Scott) arrives.  McNamara is claim-jumping mines that are paying off! He’s doing it “legally” with the backing of a crooked judge that he secretly has in his pocket.  In addition, to Glennister’s mine, McNamara has his eyes on Glennister’s woman, Cherry Malotte!  The tension mounts as it becomes obvious there is only one way this will end…

I was surprised at the innuendo in dialogue and actions of Dietrich, Wayne and Scott.  There is a whole other level to this film that you usually don’t see in westerns of the 1940s.  Wayne’s character is a player!  I loved Randolph Scott as the bad guy!  There is chemistry between the Dietrich, Wayne and Scott that adds to the believability of the film.  The climatic fight between Wayne and Scott lives up to it’s reputation.  The Spoilers is a fun ride and rates 4 of 5 stars.

“The Velvet Vampire” aka “Cemetery Girls” (1971) / Z-View

The Velvet Vampire aka Cemetery Girls (1971)

Director:  Stephanie Rothman

Screenplay by:  Stephanie Rothman, Charles S. Swartz, Maurice Jules

Starring:  Michael Blodgett, Sherry E. DeBoer and Celeste Yarnall

Tagline:  She’s Waiting To Love You…To Death

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Lee Ritter (Blodgett) and his wife Susan (Miles) meet and take a liking to a mysterious woman named Diane LeFanu (Yarnall).  When Diane asks them to spend a weekend at her remote desert home, they accept.  Only too late do they discover that Diane is a vampire!

The Velvet Vampire is a perfect example of low budget 70s horror films that often became the second or third films shown at drive-ins.  The movie features a small cast (of low-level stars), a remote location, women who bare their boobs and sex scenes spaced throughout the film. (Where you usually find the bare boobs.) There’s even a dune buggy scene in The Velvet Vampire!  Does it get any more “early 70s” than that?   Diane isn’t your traditional vampire – she goes out in the sun (but too much isn’t good for her).

Normally movies I make it through earn at least a 2 star rating.  I made it through The Velvet Vampire and (despite the bare boobies) it only earned a 1 of 5 star rating.

RIP: Jim Ivey

I got the call last night.  It wasn’t unexpected. Jim had been ill for quite some time and the night before had been admitted to the hospital.  Jim Ivey passed away last night.  He was 97 years old.

Jim was born James (but preferred the much less formal, Jim) Burnett Ivey on April 15, 1925 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Jim attended the University of Louisville, George Washington University, the National Art School in D.C. and also took correspondence courses through the Landon School of Illustration and Cartooning.  Jim served as a US Navy submariner from 1943 to 1946.

After the war, Jim was a Reid Fellowship recipient to study political cartooning in Europe.  Jim worked in the editorial art department for the Washington Star and the St. Petersburg Times before accepting an editorial cartoonist position at the San Francisco Examiner where he remained from 1959 – 1966.  Jim then worked as a freelance artist until 1970 when he accepted a cartoonist position with the Orlando Sentinel (where he stayed until 1977).

In 1967, Jim opened The Cartoon Museum using items from his own collection.  The Cartoon Museum sold all forms of original art including political cartoons, comic book art, newspaper strips, and more.  In addition, The Cartoon Museum branched out to include collectibles of all types.  Jim also began publishing a quarterly titled cARToon.  In addition Jim continued to work as a freelance artist and artist on the syndicated Thoughts of Man comic panel!

In 1974, Jim along with Charlie Roberts, Richard Kravitz, Rob Word, and Neil Austin started the annual OrlandoCon convention which celebrated comic books and comic art.  Jim was joined by Bill Black and Mike Kott to keep OrlandoCon going as an annual event through 1996, Each year the OrlandoCon guest of honor received a gold brick called the Ignatz Award named in honor of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat. (The brick was a sign of affection!)  Each year there was also a charity auction to benefit the Milt Gross Fund of the National Cartoonists Society (Jim Ivey was a member and regional Chairman).

 In 1977, Jim went back to freelance work.  From 1978 to 1983 Jim was an adjunct professor at the University of Central Florida where he taught a course on the Art of Cartooning.

Jim was also an author.  His books include U.S. History in Cartoons The Civil War through WW II, Roy Crane’s Wash Tubbs, the First Adventure Comic Strip (co-authored with Gordon Campbell) and Cartoons I Liked.  Jim’s essays could often be found in Hogan’s Alley, the Comics Journal, World of Comic Art and other sources.  Jim was an a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists and the National Cartoonists Society.  He was the National Cartoonists Society T-Square award recipient in 1979.

I met Jim in 1977.  My buddy, John Beatty and I began driving from Daytona to Jim’s Cartoon Museum each week to pick up new comics and hang out with Jim.  Before long our visits began to include marathon poker games.  Jim loved to play cards (or gamble on most anything).  Oh, the times we had.  When I moved to Orlando in 1980 to attend the University of Central Florida, my trips to The Cartoon Museum changed from weekly to almost daily visits.  Hanging out with Jim in the Cartoon Museum was a magical time.  You never knew who or what might come though the door.  I meet so many wonderful people (collectors, artists, writers and more) because of Jim.

Jim closed The Cartoon Museum in 1981.  A year or so later he opened again in a new location.  In the 1990s when  Jim was ready to semi-retire he opened a used book store.  Jim finally did retire around 20 or so years ago.  I’m proud to say that we continued to stay in touch (Jim didn’t use a computer, so it was phone or snail mail).  Twice a year, I would organize a get-together with Jim’s Cartoon Museum and OrlandoCon friends who could attend.  We’d celebrate Jim’s birthday and Christmas for Jim at a local breakfast spot.  The get-togethers would turn into three hour marathons of laughter and fond memories.  Jim enjoyed these times as much as those of us who could attend.

I’ve been in contact with the regular group to let them know of Jim’s passing.  We’re planning a celebration of Jim’s life get-together.  It will probably be  one day during the last weekend of September (that weekend was the traditional date of OrlandoCon).  If you’re interested in attending or want more details as we work things out, e-mail me.

Jim was my oldest friend.  I treasure the hours we spent hanging out together.  He was an original and will be missed but never forgotten.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Jim’s family and friends.

Dead Man (1995) / Z-View

Dead Man (1995)

Director:  Jim Jarmusch

Screenplay by:  Jim Jarmusch

Starring:  Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Crispin Glover, Lance Henriksen, Michael Wincott, Eugene Byrd, John Hurt, Robert Mitchum, Iggy Pop, Gabriel Byrne, Mili Avital  and Billy Bob Thornton

Tagline:  Sometimes it is preferable not to travel with a dead man.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

William Blake (Depp), a mild-mannered accountant, travels by train to a small town on the edge of the frontier.  There he meets a prostitute named Thel (Avital) who takes him home.  The next morning Thel’s ex-boyfriend, Charlie (Byrne) confronts Blake and Thel while they’re still in bed.  Charlie shoots at Blake.  The bullet hits (and kills) Thel and then strikes Blake in the chest when the bullet passes through her.  Blake picks up Thel’s gun and kills Charlie.  Blake then hightails it out of town.

Although he escaped into the wilderness, Blake’s chest wound is serious.  He passes out.  When he comes to he is surprised to find a huge Native American named Nobody (Farmer) standing over him.  Nobody says that the bullet is too close to his heart to be removed.  Blake is a walking dead man.  Nobody says he will help Blake prepare for his journey back to the spiritual world.  Along the way Blake has run-ins with many unusual characters including the three notorious killers hired by Charlie’s dad (Mitchum) to avenge his son’s murder.

Jim Jarmusch brought together an all-star cast to tell a strange, almost mesmerizing tale,  Dead Man was shot in black and white, with fadeouts after each scene enhanced by an improvised Neil Young soundtrack.  Truth be told, I started to watch Dead Man years ago and couldn’t get into it.  This time, I loved every minute.  Dead Man earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Paradise Highway” Starring Juliette Binoche, Morgan Freeman & Frank Grillo – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

The poster and trailer for Paradise Highway are here.  I like the looks of this one.

Academy Award® winners Juliette Binoche and Morgan Freeman lead this riveting thriller set in the trucking industry and its seamy underbelly of human trafficking. To save the life of her brother (Frank Grillo), Sally (Binoche), a truck driver, reluctantly agrees to smuggle illicit cargo: a girl named Leila (Hala Finley). As Sally and Leila begin a danger-fraught journey across state lines, a dogged FBI operative (Freeman) sets out on their trail, determined to do whatever it takes to terminate a human-trafficking operation — and bring Sally and Leila to safety.

“What Joshua Saw” Starring Robert Patrick & Nick Stahl – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

The poster and trailer for What Joshua Saw do what they should do… make me want to know more!

A family with buried secrets reunite at a farmhouse after two decades to pay for their past sins. Starring Robert Patrick, Nick Stahl, Scott Haze, Kelli Garner, with Jake Weber and Tony Hale. Directed by Vincent Grashaw.

“Attack of the Puppet People” (1957) / Z-View

Attack of the Puppet People (1957)

Director:  Bert I. Gordon

Screenplay by:  George Worthing Yates from a story by Bert I. Gordon

Starring:  John Agar, John Hoyt and June Kenney

Tagline:  Terror Comes In Small Packages!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Mr. Franz (Hoyt) owns a doll company that makes popular, lifelike dolls.  Little does anyone know that Mr. Franz’s personal doll collection is made from real people that he has shrunk to doll size.  When Mr. Franz’s secretary, Sally Reynolds (Kenney) discovers what Franz has been doing, she goes to the police.  Of course they don’t believe Franz is doing anything wrong,.. until Sally turns up missing and Franz has a new doll in his collection!

Attack of the Puppet People was given the greenlight due to the success of The Incredible Shrinking Man.  It was rushed into production with Bert I. Gordon (The Amazing Colossal Man) at the helm.  Fair warning,  if the poster for Attack of the Puppet People sold you on the movie, please know… 1) They weren’t really puppet people.  2) There were no “Doll Dwarfs”. 3) No “giant beasts” were crushed or did crushing. 4) No giant dog vs steak knife wielding little folks… Just so ya know.

Attack  of the Puppet People earned a 2 of 5 star rating.

“The Deadly Mantis” (1957) / Z-View

The Deadly Mantis (1957)

Director:  Nathan Juran

Screenplay by:   Martin Berkeley based on a story by William Alland

Starring:  Craig Stevens, William Hopper and Alix Talton

Tagline: The most dangerous monster that ever lived!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers

When volcanic eruptions set a gigantic prehistoric preying mantis free, the world becomes his buffet.  It is up to Col. Joe Parkman (Stevens), Dr. Nedrick Jackson (Hopper) and Marge Blaine (Talton) to find a way to stop this giant insect.

Documentary footage of Eskimos and jets taking off make poor filler footage.  The giant praying mantis looks good in scenes where it is busting into a building, but not so good when flying.  This viewing didn’t rate as high as the first time I saw The Deadly Mantis.  Of course I’m no longer eight.  The Deadly Mantis rates 2 of 5 stars.

FOLLOW ME DOWN: A RECKLESS BOOK by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips is Coming!

The next Reckless book, Follow Me Down by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips is set for release on October 18, 2022.  It sounds like another winner…

In the wake of the 1989 earthquake, Ethan takes a trip to San Francisco to search for a missing woman. But almost immediately he finds himself going down a path of darkness and murder in her wake, in a case unlike anything he’s faced before.
FOLLOW ME DOWN is the most intense of the Reckless books so far, and yet another hit from the most-acclaimed team in comics, creators of PULP, MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES, CRIMINAL, THE FADE OUT, and KILL OR BE KILLED. A must-have for all Brubaker and Phillips readers!

Like with all of Brubaker & Phillips’ books, deal me in!  If you feel the same pre-orders are available now!