Horror on TV: The Twilight Zone 3.24 “To Serve Man” (dir by Richard L. Bare)


“It’s a cookbook!”

During the month of October, we like to share classic episodes of horror-themed television.  That was easier to do when we first started doing our annual October horrorthon here at the Shattered Lens because every single episode of the original, black-and-white Twilight Zone was available on YouTube.  Sadly, that’s no longer the case.  In fact, there is exactly one episode of the original Twilight Zone on YouTube.

Fortunately, that episode is a classic.  In 1962’s To Serve Man, an alien (Richard Kiel) comes to Earth and invites people to return to his home planet with him.  He leaves behind a book.  When everyone learns that the title of the book is To Serve Man, they excitedly decide that the book must be an instruction manual on how to help mankind.  The truth, as we learn in the episode’s classic finale, is something a little bit different.

Here’s the episode!  Watch it before YouTube yanks it down.

(This episode originally aired on October 2nd, 1962.  It was directed by Richard L. Bare from a script by Rod Serling.  It was based on a short story by Damon Knight.)

Enjoy!

Horror on TV: The Twilight Zone 3.24 “To Serve Man” (dir by Richard L. Bare)


“It’s a cookbook!”

During the month of October, we like to share classic episodes of horror-themed television.  That was easier to do when we first started doing our annual October horrorthon here at the Shattered Lens because every single episode of the original, black-and-white Twilight Zone was available on YouTube.  Sadly, that’s no longer the case.  In fact, there is exactly one episode of the original Twilight Zone on YouTube.

Fortunately, that episode is a classic.  In 1962’s To Serve Man, an alien (Richard Kiel) comes to Earth and invites people to return to his home planet with him.  He leaves behind a book.  When everyone learns that the title of the book is To Serve Man, they excitedly decide that the book must be an instruction manual on how to help mankind.  The truth, as we learn in the episode’s classic finale, is something a little bit different.

Here’s the episode!  Watch it before YouTube yanks it down.

(This episode originally aired on October 2nd, 1962.  It was directed by Richard L. Bare from a script by Rod Serling.  It was based on a short story by Damon Knight.)

Enjoy!

 

Horror on TV: The Twilight Zone 3.24 “To Serve Man”


On this day, 58 years ago, one of the most influential shows in the history of television, The Twilight Zone, premiered on CBS.  Created by Rod Serling, this anthology show not only featured some of the best actors and writers in the business but it also used tales of the unexpected to address some of the most pressing issues of the day.  (Many, if not all, of those issues remain relevant today.)  The Twilight Zone inspired a countless number of future filmmakers and writers and it remains popular today.  The annual New Year’s Eve and 4th of July marathons on SyFy continue to delight viewers both new and old.

When we first started doing our annual October horrorthon here at the Shattered Lens, every single episode of the original, black-and-white Twilight Zone was available on YouTube.  Sadly, that’s no longer the case.  As I sit here writing this, while several episodes from the show’s later (and largely unsuccessful) revivals have been uploaded,  there is exactly one episode of the original Twilight Zone on YouTube.

Fortunately, that episode is a classic.  In 1962’s To Serve Man, an alien (Richard Kiel) comes to Earth and invites people to return to his home planet with him.  He leaves behind a book.  When everyone learns that the title of the book is To Serve Man, they excitedly decide that the book must be an instruction manual on how to help mankind.  The truth, as we learn in the episode’s classic finale, is something a little bit different.

Here’s the episode!  Watch it before YouTube yanks it down.

Enjoy!

Film Review: Space Trucker Bruce (dir by Anton Doiron)


For most of today, I’ve been posting reviews of films that I watched off of my DVR.  Well, I’m going to take a brief break from that pattern to tell you about a film that I watched last weekend.  It was a low-budget sci-fi film, a real labor of love that the director posted on YouTube.  I watched this film with some of my friends from the Late Night Movie Gang: there was me, Kurt Zellner, Holly Wilson, Janeen Worrall, Phil Kaine, Michael McDow, and Jes Coolbaugh.  For the most part, we enjoyed this film.

The name of the movie was Space Trucker Bruce.  I’m trying to think of the best way to explain the plot and it’s not easy.  It’s a very episodic film and I think it could actually be argued that there really isn’t a plot per se.  Instead, there’s just a lot of stuff that happens. Some of it is connected and some of it isn’t but the randomness of it all is part of the film’s charm.

Space Trucker Bruce takes place in the far future.  The Earth has colonized the solar system.  Humans and human businesses have taken over space.  Bruce (Karl Sears) is a space trucker.  He’s currently in the process of hauling 20,000 tons of hog fat from Earth to a space station.  It’s a lonely job, to be honest.  At the start of the film, Bruce doesn’t have any human companionship.  He does have a robot, though it’s possible that the robot might actually just be a trash can.  You’ll have to watch the film to know for sure.  He has several books to read, including a few by the noted Catholic historian Garry Wills.  He also has movies, which apparently hardly anyone watches in the future.  (Bruce is one of the few people in existence to still know what Star Wars is.)  There’s also a tub of cream cheese that has apparently come to life and which keeps encouraging Bruce to do some really bad things.  Or at least, we assume that the cream cheese has come to life.  Could Bruce just be crazy?

During the journey, Bruce gets some human companionship when he picks up a hitchhiker named Max (played by the film’s director and writer, Anton Doiron).  Max is an affable if occasionally neurotic guy.  He has a hard time adjusting to Bruce’s laid back personality but, on the plus side, Max is willing to watch movies.

The rest of the film — well, I guess the simplest way to put it would be that Bruce and Max have various adventures while making their way to the space station.  Except, they’re not really adventures as much as they’re just stuff that happens.  Calling them adventures would suggest that Bruce and Max were really active participants.  For the most part, they both spend the majority of the film just relaxing in the ship and occasionally responding to stuff that happens.  I mean, if the ship is about to be destroyed then sure, Bruce and Max are going to try to stop that from occurring.  But, for the most part, Bruce and Max are just kind of hanging out.

And that really is the film’s charm.  This is a low-budget film that proudly embraces the fact that it’s a low-budget film.  The sets and the special effects manage to look cheap and effective at the same time.  There’s a real charm to the fact that the director wanted to make a space epic and he managed to do it, despite not having much money.  Even the amateurish acting become charming after a while.  To say that the actors were stiff would be an understatement.  But, at the same time, Karl Sears was perfectly cast as Bruce.  He just was Bruce in much the same way that Anton Doiron just was Max.  There are some films that you appreciate just because they actually managed to get made and seen.  Space Trucker Bruce is one of those films.

Space Trucker Bruce is available, for free, on YouTube.  It’s not a film for everyone but here’s the thing.  If it’s not for you, you’ll know after the first ten minutes.  However, if you’re still watching after those ten minutes then you’ll probably enjoy this odd little movie.

Here’s the trailer!

As for the film, it can be watched here:

 

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Giallo in Venice (dir by Mario Landi)


(I know this is a boring poster but it’s literally one of the few Giallo in Venice graphics that I can post without running the risk of getting the site in trouble.)

So, I finally saw the infamous (and, in many countries, banned) 1979 film, Giallo in Venice.

Back when I first decided to learn about the history of Italian horror, Giallo in Venice was a title that I frequently came across in the course of my research.  Everyone — and I do mean everyone — seemed to agree on three points: 1) it was one of the most graphic and mean-spirited Italian thrillers of all time, 2) it had never been released on DVD or Blu-ray in the United States and, as such, it was not the easiest film to see, and 3) the film was really, really bad.

Now, I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have had any desire to see Giallo in Venice if not for the fact that I repeatedly read that it would be next to impossible for me to do so.  I hate being told what I can and cannot do.  Don’t get me wrong.  Everything that I read about Giallo in Venice was overwhelmingly negative.  Critics, some of whom I actually respected, were nearly unanimous in their dismissal of the film.  Unlike my hope that I’ll someday see fully restored versions of Greed and London After Midnight, seeing Giallo in Venice was never a number one priority for me.  Instead, it was just something that I kept in the back of my mind.  If I ever had a chance to watch Giallo in Venice, I told myself, I would just so I could say that I had seen it.

Last week,I got that chance.  I discovered that Giallo in Venice had not only been uploaded on YouTube but it was also the uncut version.   (I’m not going to include a link because of the film’s graphic content.  I don’t want to get either this site or the people who uploaded the video in trouble.  If you go to YouTube and search for “Giallo in Venice,” it should be one of the first videos to come up.) The only problem was that, along with being copied from a faded VHS tape, it was the Russian language version.  Basically, whenever any of the film’s characters spoke, you would first hear the line in the original Italian and then a rather angry man would shout the same the line in Russian.  Unfortunately, I know very little Italian and absolutely no Russian.

Needless to say, this led to a rather odd viewing experience.  If Giallo in Venice had been directed by a visual stylist like Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, Mario Bava, or even Ruggero Deodato, it might not have been a problem.  Those four directors are all rightly renowned for their ability to create mood and atmosphere.  (And, for that matter, the best giallo films are often more concerned with visuals than dialogue.)  Unfortunately, Giallo in Venice was directed by Mario Landi, an veteran television director whose style can best be described as “turn on the camera at the start of the scene, turn it off at the end.”

(Landi also directed Patrick Still Lives, which is a smidgen more interesting than Giallo in Venice.)

As for the film’s plot — well, it’s hard for me to say for sure.  Not to overemphasize this point but, quite literally, I COULD NOT UNDERSTAND A WORD THAT ANYONE WAS SAYING.

The film opens in Venice, with a man being stabbed to death while a woman drowns in a canal.  Inspector De Paul (Jeff Blynn) is assigned to solve the murders.  He has poofy hair that wouldn’t be out of place in a stage production of Boogie Nights and, for some reason, Inspector De Paul is constantly eating hard-boiled eggs.  In just about every scene in which he appears, he is eating an egg.  Though it was hard to judge his overall performance (though the Russian seemed to enjoy repeating De Paul’s dialogue), Jeff Blynn really got into eating those eggs.  It got rather sickening to watch after a while.  As far as I could tell, De Paul’s investigation amounted to talking to one witness and then talking to the dead woman’s roommate.

The roommate, incidentally, is played by Mariangela Giordano, who also appeared in Patrick Still Lives, Burial Ground, and Michele Soavi’s The Sect.  Any fan of Italian horror will not only recognize Giordano but will also immediately know that her Giallo in Venice character is destined meet an unlucky end.  Patrick Still Lives, Burial Ground, and Giallo in Venice were all produced by Giordano’s then-boyfriend and, in all three films, she played a character who was graphically and gruesomely killed onscreen.  In Patrick Still Lives, she was skewered by a fireplace poker.  In Burial Ground, she made the mistake of trying to breastfeed her zombiefied son.  And in Giallo in Venice, one of her legs is slowly sawed off.  Seriously, if my boyfriend insisted that I suffer a terrible death in every film that he produced, it would probably be an issue.  Just saying.

Anyway, while Inspector De Paul is investigating the murder, this young couple keeps popping up.  They’re young, rich, and fifty shades of fucked up.  Fabio (Gianni Dei) has apparently been rendered impotent by all the cocaine that he’s been snorting and the only way he can get off is by forcing Flavia (Leonara Favi) to play out all of his kinky fantasies.  I found myself wondering why the film kept switching back and forth, between the not-quite-loving couple and the murder investigation.  Was Fabio the murderer?  Then, suddenly, I realized that Fabio and Flavia were the same couple who were murdered at the start of the film.  The Fabio and Flavia scenes were flashbacks.  I’m assuming that my confusion was due to the Russian dialogue but it says something about Landi’s visual style that it was impossible to tell, just from watching, that the Flavia/Fabio scenes were meant to be flashbacks.

(As far as I can — and again, dialogue problems — the flashbacks weren’t triggered by anyone saying, “I remember one time…” or anything like that.  Add to that, most of the flashbacks only featured Fabio and Flavia so, logically, there’s no way anyone could have been telling Inspector De Paul what happened.  Instead, the flashbacks just felt like random scenes that were sprinkled in between the violence and the eating.)

Giallo in Venice is a mix of egg eating, sex, and sadism.  The graphic murders are probably what Giallo in Venice is best known for, though I have to admit that I found the constant egg eating to be almost as disgusting.  As for the film’s gore, it was just as graphic and extreme as I had previously read.  But, with the exception of what happens to poor Mariangela Giordano, the violence has no impact on the viewer.  Since Landi directs with no discernible style, there’s nothing behind the murders beyond the fact that, when you title a movie Giallo in Venice, you’re obligated to include a few deaths.  It’s violence for the sake of violence and therefore, rather boring.  Admittedly, I’m sure it was rather shocking in 1979 but, today, audiences are more used to that sort of thing.  After all, everyone’s seen that tutorial on how to be a zombie for Halloween.

While watching Giallo in Venice, it was hard not to compare it to Lucio Fulci’s The New York Ripper.  Both films are deeply unpleasant but, due to Fulci’s energetic and, at times, subversive direction, there’s at least always something going on underneath the blood-drenched surface of The New York Ripper.  You can debate whether or not he succeeded but it can’t be denied that Fulci was going for something more than just sadism when he made The New York Ripper.  (If you doubt me, read Stephen Thrower’s analysis in Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci.)  Landi’s style, in Giallo in Venice, is so flat that there’s not only nothing going on underneath but the surface itself seems to be pretty barren too.

To give credit where credit is due, I did appreciate just how ugly Landi managed to make Venice look.  I’ve been to Venice and I absolutely love it.  I would never believe that a director could make Venice look like a dump but Mario Landi managed to do it.  I don’t know if that was intentional on his part but it actually worked for the film.  Since all of the characters actually lived in Venice, it made sense that they wouldn’t be standing around and admiring the city’s natural beauty.  Instead, they all live and operate in the parts of Venice that tourists don’t see.

Finally, Landi did manage to get one interesting shot, when the reflection of one of the victims is seen in the killer’s sunglasses.  Unfortunately, Landi was so impressed by that shot that he kept using it over and over again until, eventually, it became far less interesting.

One final note: Giallo in Venice had a very odd score.  It sounded like it was being played by a cocktail lounge jazz quartet.  The music, itself, was actually rather boring but it was so totally out-of-place that it became oddly charming.  I found myself craving a drink with a little umbrella in it.

Anyway, that’s Giallo in Venice.  It’s not good, it’s not memorable, but at least I can now say that I’ve seen it.

Check Out This Montage Of Every Best Picture Nominee!


2013 oscars

So, I was searching for short films about the Oscars on YouTube and look at what I came across.  This video was put together by All About The Oscar.  It’s a montage of every film nominated for best picture between 1927 and 2015!

Seriously, I love this!

Watch it below:

How many of these films have you seen?  I’ve still got a way to go but someday, I will be able to say that I’ve seen every single one.

(Except, of course, for The Patriot…)

Horror on TV: The Twilight Zone 3.24 “To Serve Man”


You know what?

I’ve spent this October irritated by the lack of episodes of the Twilight Zone on YouTube.  I mean, I understand the importance of copyright laws and everything but seriously, how can you take away the Twilight Zone in October!?

However, I finally managed to find one — and exactly one — episode of The Twilight Zone on YouTube.  And it’s a classic!  (And who knows how long it’ll be available so don’t hold off on watching it!)  Here is the classic “To Serve Man” episode of The Twilight Zone!

Enjoy and bon appetit!