Horror on the Lens: Satan’s Triangle (dir by Sutton Roley)


Hi there and welcome to October!  This is our favorite time of the year here at the Shattered Lens because October is horror month.  For the past three years, we have celebrated every October by reviewing and showing some of our favorite horror movies, shows, books, and music.  That’s a tradition that I’m looking forward to helping to continue this year.

Let’s start things off with the 1975 film. Satan’s Triangle!  Satan’s Triangle tells the story of what happens when a derelict boat is spotted floating in the middle of the ocean.  An attempt to rescue the boat leads to mystery, tragedy, horror, and …. well, let’s just say that there’s a reason why this stretch of ocean belongs to Satan.

Featuring atmospheric direction from Sutton Roley and a great performance from none other than Kim Novak, Satan’s Triangle is one of the best made-for-TV horror films that I’ve ever seen and I think it’s the perfect way to start off this year’s horrorthon!

Enjoy!

Horror on TV: Thriller 2.17 “La Strega” (dir by Ida Lupino)


For tonight’s excursion into televised horror, we have an episode of Thriller!

This episode is called T and it deals with an artist (Alejandro Rey) who saves a young woman (Ursula Andress) from drowning.  It turns out that the local villagers believe that the woman is a witch.  The artist has no time for superstition and takes the woman back to his home.  She starts as his model and then becomes his lover.  She may not be a witch but her mother (Jeanette Nolan) definitely is…

And, of course, this episode is introduced by the one and only Boris Karloff!

The episode premiered on January 15th, 1962.

More Of Bronson’s Best: Mr. Majestyk (1974, directed by Richard Fleischer)


Mr_Majestyk_movie_posterWhat happens when you combine the great tough guy writer Elmore Leonard with the great tough guy actor Charles Bronson?

You get Mr. Majestyk, one of Bronson’s finest films.

Vince Majestyk (Bronson) may be a former U.S. Army Ranger instructor and a decorated Vietnam vet but now that he has returned home to Colorado, all he cares about is running his watermelon farm.  With a lucrative harvest approaching, Majestyk hires a group of unionized Mexican migrant workers, led by the fiery Linda Chavez (Linda Cristal), to pick his crops.  When a local criminal named Bobby Kopas (Paul Koslo) shows up and demands that Majestyk hire his drunken crew instead, Majestyk does what Bronson does best.  He gives Kopas an ass-kickin’ beat down.

After Kopas charges him with assault, the local police arrest Majestyk and, despite his request that he be allowed three days to finish harvesting his crop, Majestyk is thrown in jail.  Also in the jail is a Mafia hitman named Frank Renda (Al Lettieri).  Renda may be a tough guy but nobody’s tougher than Vince Majestyk.  When Renda’s associates attempt to hijack a prison bus, Majestyk ends up hijacking it instead.  Majestyk plans to hold Renda hostage until the police agree to give him his three days of freedom so he can get back to his farm.  Renda even offers to pay him off but Majestyk doesn’t care about his money.  He just cares about melons.

Because he was the only 1970s action star who could be believable as both a decorated combat veteran and a no-nonsense watermelon farmer, Charles Bronson is the only actor who could have brought Mr. Majestyk to life.  Before he became an actor, Bronson worked for a living.  From the age of ten until he enlisted in the Army, Bronson worked in the Pennsylvania coal mines, earning one dollar for each ton of coal that he mined.  Though Bronson was never a great actor, his legitimately working class background allowed him to bring an authenticity to a role like Vince Majestyk that most other actors would have lacked.  When Bronson says that all he cares about is bringing in the harvest on time, you believe him just as much as you believe him when he’s beating up Paul Koslo or hijacking a prison bus.

The rest of the cast is full of good 1970s actors who have never really been given their due.  Al Lettieri may be best known for playing Sollozzo in The Godfather but he also does a good job as Frank Renda.  Paul Koslo plays another one his sleazy villains here and does a great job as Bobby Kopas.

Mr. Majestyk was directed by Richard Fleischer but, with its colorful characters, working class hero, and modernized brand of frontier justice, the film is clearly the work of Elmore Leonard. Though Mr. Majestyk is credited as being based on a novel by Leonard, Leonard actually wrote the screenplay before the novel.

The combination of Elmore Leonard and Charles Bronson makes Mr. Majestyk one of the best action films of the 1970s.

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Special Memorial Day Edition: Audie Murphy in BATTLE AT BLOODY BEACH (20th Century Fox 1961)


cracked rear viewer

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When I was in college, I wrote a paper on Audie Murphy for history class. Murphy was a real American hero, the most decorated combat soldier of World War II. He held off an entire squad of German soldiers alone, armed with a machine gun and bleeding from a leg wound, under fire from both foot soldiers and tank fire. Then he rejoined his men and led an attack on the Germans, driving them back and earning the Medal of Honor for his valiant efforts.

Murphy was noticed by Hollywood upon his return from the war, and soon was cast in a successful series of Westerns: THE KID FROM TEXAS, KANSAS RAIDERS, DUEL AT SILVER CREEK, RED BADGE OF COURAGE, GUNSMOKE, and a remake of DESTRY. His autobiography TO HELL AND BACK was a national best seller, and Audie played himself in the film version. Surprisingly, Murphy only starred in one other war film…

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Embracing the Melodrama Part II #43: The Stepmother (dir by Howard Avedis)


stepmotherJust looking at the poster for the 1972 film The Stepmother, I bet you think it’s a pretty scandalous and sordid film.  I mean, there’s a picture of a woman wearing a black bra and there’s a tagline that reads, “She forced her husband’s son to commit the ultimate sin!”

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Well, perhaps not surprisingly considering that this is a Crown International film, The Stepmother‘s poster and tagline have very little do with the actual film.  Yes, the film does feature a stepmother and, during the final 20 or so minutes of the film, her stepson does finally show up and she does end up sleeping with him.  It’s consensual.  There’s no forcing involved.  And, as far as the ultimate sin part is concerned — well, her husband has been doing a lot worse.

The film itself is actually about the husband.  Frank Delgado (Alejandro Rey) is a wealthy architect who is also insanely jealous of his new wife, Margo (Katherine Justice).  Whenever he suspects that Margo is cheating on him, he ends up killing someone.  And, as a matter of fact, even when he doesn’t think Margo is cheating on him, he ends up killing someone.  Frank, of course, has to find a way to cover up all of his various murders.  It doesn’t help that Inspector Darnezi (John Anderson) is constantly snooping around.  And then, once he discovers that his stepson actually has slept with Margo (as opposed to all the people he killed just because he assumed they had slept with Margo), Frank is forced to decide whether or not to kill his own son.

The Stepmother is available in about a dozen Mill Creek boxsets and it’s fun in a 1972 sort of way.  Frank and all of his friends are decadent rich people so you could argue that the film is meant to be a portrait of the immorality of the 1%.  (That would actually be a pretty stupid argument but it’s one that you could make if you’re trying to impress someone who hasn’t read this review.)  Director Howard Avedis tries to liven up the plot by including a lot of artsy touches that don’t really add up to much but which are still fun to watch.  Occasionally, he’ll toss in a freeze frame for no particular reason.  As well, Frank has a habit of hallucinating.  He continually sees his first victim running across the beach in slow motion.  Make a drinking game out of it.  Every time it’s obvious that The Stepmother was trying to fool people into thinking it was a European art film, take a drink.

To be honest, the most interesting thing about The Stepmother is that it is the only Crown International film to have received an Oscar nomination!  That’s right!  The Stepmother was nominated for Best Original Song.  The name of the song was Strange Are The Ways Of Love.  You can listen to it below if you want.  Feel free to dance.

Anyway, that’s The Stepmother for you.  It’s not my favorite Crown International film but, as a historical oddity, it’s still worth watching.