Kaiju Week: Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

And the theme weeks at B&S About Movies collide once again—with our review of the currently in pre-production of Karn Evil 9 for our “Radio Week,” and Sam’s insatiable appetite for all strange beast from beyond the lands of the rising sun.

Huh? What, pray tell, does the 29th film in the Godzilla franchise and the sixth and final film in the franchise’s Millennium period, as well as the 28th Godzilla film produced by Toho Studios overall, have to do with Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s fifth album, 1973’s Brain Salad Surgery?

Please, don’t say “who” when I say, “Keith Emerson,” ye youthful movie and music fan.

Keith Emerson’s full soundtrack to Godzilla: Final Wars

As result of today’s classic rock FM radio eliminating the ELP catalog from their playlists (come on, even “Lucky Man”?), all you horror hounds most likely know Emerson through his Italian giallo soundtrack work for Dario Argento’s Inferno (1980), Lucio Fulci’s Murder Rock (1984), and Michele Soavi’s The Church (1989). In addition to Sylvester Stallone’s Nighthawks (1981), Emerson also composed the soundtrack for Toho Studios’ Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)—which serves as his final work as a film composer.

And that musician analogy continues as director Ryuhei Kitamura (Clive Barker’s 2008 The Midnight Meat Train starring Bradley Cooper; 2012’s No One Lives) compares his contribution to the Godzilla cycle to that of a musician’s “best of” album; Kitamura picked what he felt were the best elements from the past Godzilla movies that he loved. He chose that approach as result of his being unsatisfied with the Godzilla films of the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s and he wanted to bring back the messages and themes of the times those films reflected in their plots.

And “greatest hits” he gave us . . . and then some!

In addition to the big guy, Kitamura brought back Angurius, Ebriah, Gigan, Hedorah, Kamacuras, King Ceasar, Kumonga, Manda, Minilla, Monster X/Keizer Ghidorah, and Mothra—along with a slew of others monsters via stock footage and toy placements throughout the film. And the alien Shobijin twins—from 1961’s Mothra—and the Xiliens—from 1965’s Invasion of the Astro-Monster—are back. Then there are the ships! Yeeeessss! The Gotengo from 1963’s Atragon (and 1977’s War in Space) is back—along with the all-new kaiju-battling weapons: the Earth Defense Force’s Éclair, the Karya, and the Rumbling. Then there are the new, reversed winged Dogfighter jets, and the good ‘ol Heisei and Millennium-era Type 90 Tanks and Type 90 Maser Cannons are back.

Mada watashi no kokorodearu: I am in Kaiju Tengoku.

So film kazu 29 picks up where the initial attack on Tokyo in 1964’s Godzilla left off: the green guy trapped under the Antarctic ice after losing the fight against the original Gotengo battle ship. As the years pass, the Earth’s environmental changes (yes, the “message” is back) results in the mutations of more giant monsters and superhumans, aka “the mutants,” the genetic off-spring of humans and the Xiliens.

One of those returning classic monsters, the Manda, from 1963’s Atragon (aka, Destroy All Monsters in the U.S.), goes up against the Gotengo once again, and the drilling battleship, piloted by Captain Doug Gordon (MMA and UFC, and New Japan Pro-Wresting champion Donald Frye!?)—loses the battle and Gordon is stripped of his command.

Helping in the battle are the mutant solider Shinichi Ozaki (Japanese musician Masahiro Matsuoka of top-selling pop-rockers Tokio), who protects U.N biologist Dr. Miyuki Otonashi (Rei Kikukawa, the lead in the awesome action flick, Crazy Gun: 2 Beyond the Law; You Tube clip), as she studies a mummified monster.

And a deus ex machina teleportation device zaps them to Mothra’s planet and the Shobijin twins warn of a coming battle of good and evil. Then the Haisetsu-mono wa fan ni atarimasu and all manner of monsters and aliens attack.

I’m on Kitamura’s side: I’m an Old Milwaukee or Miller Beer guy; get away from me with that fancy imported swill. I want the Godzilla monsters of my youth and not so much the ones from the ‘80s or ‘90s.

So, Keith Emerson brought me here . . . but Ryuhei Kitamura made me stay to see the show. It’s a sushi-splashing kitchen sink of craziness that rivals the hard to beat insanity that was the pseudo Planet of the Apes romps Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) and Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)—my favorites of the franchise (Kitamara cites the first as his favorite of the franchise as well)—that I watched in the darkened duplex all those years ago. The kaiju special effects—all shot in-camera with no CGI assists—combined with the present-day Mission: Impossible and The Matrix-inspired live action sequences, only enhances the film’s awesome retro-throw back qualities . . . and you get a ripping Sum 41 tune, “We’re All to Blame,” too?

Wow! What a way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Godzilla franchise!

You can stream the film—and watch the official trailer—on Amazon, Vudu, and You Tube. And, yes! Kitamura’s The Midnight Meat Train and No One Lives are both streaming for free on TubiTv.

Looks like a Kitamura marathon night! Life does not suck.

Hey! Don’t stomp off yet, green guy!

If you jump on Netflix, you can check out the Reiwa-era trio of the latest animated Godzilla flicks: 2017’s Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, and 2018’s Godzilla: The Planet Eater and Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle. The first Reiwa-era film, 2016’s live action Shin Godzilla, is available on Amazon Prime and Vudu.

Of course, the whole reason for this “Kaiju Week” blowout is Warner Bros. Studio’s Godzilla vs. Kong coming in 2020 that, if you’re nuts for the green guy and keeping track, is the fourth film in Legendary Studio’s (made their debut with 2005’s Batman Begins and 2006’s Superman Returns) “MonsterVerse” and serves as a sequel to Hollywood’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) and Kong: Skull Island (2017).

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

That time Halloween III: Season of the Witch was remade and nobody noticed

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jim Rex knows plenty about movies and is more than happy to share that knowledge with the world at large.

I been hanging around the Video City Drive-in for a while and although I wouldn’t boast that I’ve seen it all, I would say I seen my fair share. But still, some things surprise me and fans surprise me.

Before we start I want you to know I’m gonna be talking freely about the two films in question and if you haven’t put your eyes on them yet and don’t want them spoilt, then stop reading. I mean, one has been around for dang near forty years and if you haven’t seen it by now you probably ain’t never gonna get around to watching it but still, divert your eyes. Go watch some cat videos. But seriously, stop reading because I’m giving away main plot points and endings; the whole shooting match. 

Ok, may the record show that I like remakes. Sure, maybe not every remake that comes down the pike. I find a lot of them to be kind of pointless, but when the higher power of the almighty greenback dictates what gets remade, no fan’s philosophical outlook on the matter, or their love for the original film, means much to the suits up there in Hollywood Town. 

When we’re talking about remakes, there are a couple different flavors filmmakers can choose from. Because all remakes aren’t created the same, it stands to reason that some remakes slip by fans or they never realize a new film is a remake. This goes beyond knowing there have been four official film versions of Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers. It drives me nuts sometimes when fans don’t know their movie history. I don’t mean you have to know every movie ever made, but know some of your history. You need to be aware there’s a dumb little rubber Piranha remake stuck in between Joe Dante’s classic 70’s version and Alexandre Aja’s entertaining modern 3-D remake.

So, I’m about to shoot my mouth off and make a big fat statement some of you might be inclined to react to with a sour, “Jim Rex, you done flipped your lid, son. Your mouth-hole’s making one heck of a racket and you need to shore it up before you get popped.” I’m hoping you might be more inclined to say, “I never did consider that idea quite that way before, Jim Rex. Your mouth-hole’s making a little sense.”

Without further ado, the Video City Court of Law is now in session. In presenting my case I am going to try and use official, judicial sounding words and phrases, most of which I will be too lazy to look up to see if I’m using them correctly. (Abet I do it more than once, but I’m felon pretty good about stating my case today.) 

No, ladies and gentlemen, technically I did not go to law school. To the best of my knowledge I never even have driven by a law school. But I did log a couple hundred intense hours watching Perry Mason and Matlock with my Maw-Maw Rex and her friends at the Abilene Convalescent Center, so if anything, I feel pretty good about wrapping all this up within an hour or so, less fifteen minutes for commercials. 

Let’s first discuss about all the different types of remakes and figure out what kind we’re chin waggin’ about here. The traditional remake is by someone who loved and/or respected the old movie and then convinces a studio to let them remake it, and they try to add to the story in an attempt to make it better, or update it for modern viewers. Examples would be John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) and David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986). Sometimes someone just wants to remake a movie they loved and/or respected, knowing full dang well it won’t be as good as the original but they hope it is at least fun and they do it anyway. These kinds are like Black Christmas (2006) and Sorority Row (2009).

Then, there’s the old sequel-remake, as in, “We made our first movie for seventeen dollars and thirty-three cents and it made millions at the box office. Let’s take all this money the studio gave us for a sequel and just remake it.” Evil Dead 2 (1987) and Phantasm II (1988) are examples of this kind of remake.

Then there’s the “Inspired by” kind of remake. Some people call these “Rip-off,” but these are really two different things. An “Inspired by” uses the nugget of an idea from an earlier film as a launching pad for a new film. Zero Hour! (1957) begat Airplane! (1980), Fantastic Voyage (1966) was the proud papa of Innerspace (1987) and IT! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) sired Alien (1979). “Inspired by” remakes are usually made with love and respect for the original film. It is not always blatantly obvious what older film the new film is inspired by.

A “Rip-off” remake is usually inspired only by the money an earlier film made. Great White (1982) is certainly a rip-off of Jaws (1975) and Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) is certainly a rip-off of Star Wars (1977). “Rip-off” remakes are usually made with love and respect only for money. It is always blatantly obvious what older film the new film is ripping-off.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I would now like to take the opportunity to convince you that I absolutely believe, beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt, that Tommy Lee Wallace’s 1982 classic trick or treat flick of witchcraft and robots, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, was remade, quite brilliantly with much respect, as an “Inspired by” type remake by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg with beer and robots as the chug-a-lug classic The World’s End (2013)!

It feels good to say it out loud. I mean, I been waiting for someone else to notice this forever and say something so I wouldn’t have to, but never once have I ever seen or heard it mentioned. I talk to other fans about it and when I sort of hint around it they look at me like I got gawl-dang lobsters crawling out my ears. 

Okie-dokie, the hard part is over, now the easy part. Evidence. I have so much manipulating and speculative and circumstantial evidence it is going to make your head spin. What makes me think Halloween III: Season of the Witch was remade as The World’s End? Please look over at the ABC table of evidence. 

  • Both films take place in small rural towns; Santa Mira in Halloween III and Newton Haven in The World’s End.
  • Silver Shamrock rules Santa Mira and The Network rules Newton Haven. In fact, these “corporations” coming to these small towns revitalized them.
  • The Silver Shamrock logo is prominent throughout Santa Mira. The logo for The Network (five lines of varying heights) is prominent throughout Newton Haven. 
  • Both “corporations” resort to shady business practices. (Silver Shamrock mixes modern technology and ancient witchcraft for results while The Network depends on ever-advancing modern technology for results.)
  • As soon as our heroes in both films roll into town, eyes are on them from everywhere.
  • The “hero” in both films is a middle-aged alcoholic man. Dan Challis, in Halloween III, is a divorced doctor. Gary King, in The World’s End, is a ne’er-do-well who spends a lot of time with various doctors.
  • Dan Challis has two kids. Gary King may have a French kid.
  • Dan Challis learns about Silver Shamrock from the town drunk outside a liquor store. Gary King and his friends learn about The Network from town drunk Basil in a bar.
  • Dan Challis likes to test his sexual prowess with young girls fresh from the shower. Gary King likes to test his sexual prowess with his friend’s sister in the public restroom.
  • Dan Challis has a manly mustache. Gary King has a manly Sisters of Mercy tattoo.
  • Most everyone in Santa Mira is an automaton under the rule of Silver Shamrock CEO Conal Cochran. Most everyone in Newton Haven is an automaton under the rule of The Network.
  • In both films, the automatons break apart like action figures, with limbs snapping off easily.
  • In both films, the automatons attack with a stiff arm thrust forward.
  • In both films, the automatons have super strength, but it is never a match for middle-aged alcoholic heroes.
  • In both films, the automatons try to act normal but always seem to stick out like a turd in a punchbowl. 
  • In both films, a major character is taken over by the evil “corporations” and transformed into an automaton.
  • In both films, the major character has been transformed in an attempt to manipulate the actions of the hero. (Ellie tries to make Challis drive into a tree and Oliver tries to deliver Gary and the group to The Network.)
  • In both films, the automatons squirt brightly colored juice for blood. (Orange in Halloween III and blue in The World’s End.)
  • Throughout the film, Dan Challis is seen drinking in bars, carrying six-packs and leaving liquor stores. The nature of the pub crawl keeps Gary King drinking throughout the entire movie.
  • There is a moment in both films where our hero makes a mad dash from one point to another. In neither case do they vomit or pass out with a gut full of alcohol swishing around in them.
  • Both Halloween III and The World’s End were the third chapters in film trilogies.
  • Both films include sidekick actors that appeared in all three films. Nancy Loomis was Annie Bracket in the first two Halloween films and then appeared as Linda, Dan’s killer shrew of a wife in Halloween III.  Nick Frost was co-star opposite Pegg in the “Cornetto Trilogy,” appearing also in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis was in Halloween I and II as Laurie Strode and then “appeared” in Halloween III in voiceovers. She can be heard as a phone operator as well as the voice of the town’s curfew reminder. Bill Nighy was in both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz in supporting roles and then “appeared” in The World’s End as the voice of The Network. He can be heard first on the phone talking to a character and then as The Network in the climax.
  • In both films, human characters meet their doom at the hands of automatons after revealing “secrets” about the “corporations.”
  • In their final moments, both Conal Cochran and The Network give up when they realize they’ve been bested by their human opponents. (Cochran even applauds Challis’s ingenuity. The Network just throws in the towel at King’s stubborn ignorance.)
  • Finally, the endings are basically identical, with the destruction of the world. I know, I know, it never really shows what happens to all the kiddos on Halloween night, but we know instinctively there is no way Challis saved anyone. You don’t save the world with a belly full of beer. (We also know Universal imposed a “happier” ending than the original cut, wherein the screams of children could be heard in Halloween III’s final fadeout.) The World’s End follows through with its end of the world wrap-up, showing the destruction of the world and what is left of mankind after The Network packs its bags and leaves. 

In closing, I will say that Wright and Pegg have shown some serious genre savvy in everything they’ve ever done together, going way back to their Brit TV show Spaced. I don’t think it is too far off to see a connection between these two films and their appreciation for Halloween III.

When boiled down, both movies work as fantasies for middle-aged men everywhere, especially those stuck in a rut who would love the adventure of maybe having to save the world. For Dan Challis it is almost a James Bond scenario where he is escaping the disappointments of his ruined family life and getting to save the world while making it with a young woman who doesn’t seem to notice how long in the tooth old Dan really is. For Gary King, he is returning to a moment in his youth when everything was perfect, and no matter how wonky the night goes, he is able to re-capture and revitalize a part of that wild spirit he left behind when he got old.

Both of these men fought for their worlds bravely, both with bellies full of beer.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, you have the proof before you. It is time to decide for yourownself. I know what I believe. 

Drive-In Friday: Black & White Night

For this week’s installment of our weekly (at 11 AM) Drive-In Friday feature, we’re kickin’ it old school out ‘ere in the sticks amid the aroma of mosquito coils and heat-carouseled hotdogs — and probably cow and horse poo from the farm on the otherside of our lot’s treeline. Now if yer one of those folks who “don’t do black & white movies, they depress me,” then you just keep on drivin’ into the big city and spelunk that air-conditioned 28-screen behemoth selling the $5.00 (tiny) boxes of Snowcaps (they’re a $1.79 — and bigger — on the candy isle at the registers where I grocery shop).

I dated two women who hated black & white movies (those relationships didn’t last long, natch). My cousin? She refused to watch anything “that’s not in color.” Me? A great movie is a great movie, color be damned. And long before Crown International Pictures and Roger Corman began pumping out B-Movie fodder for the big screens under the stars, these are the movies you necked to your girlfriend by on the nights the “submarine races” were cancelled.

So, let’s hook up that speaker on the window and fire up that mosquito coil and, like the marquee states, get ready for a night of comedy with No Time for Sergeants, drama with Marty, and lose it over Barbara Stanwyck (Scha-wing!) in the suspenseful film noirs Double Indemity and Sorry, Wrong Number.

Movie 1: No Time for Sergeants (1958)

Before there was Bill Murray’s 1981 military comedy Stripes, there was CBS-TV’s ’60s series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. And before that there was No Time for Sergeants.

Before you became familar with Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor from the syndicated TV reruns of The Andy Griffith Show and as lawyer Ben Matlock on Matlock, you may have known him as Harry Broderick, the junk man astronaut from Salvage 1.

But before all of that, Andy Griffith was a stand up comedian-monologist that wowed audiences with humorous, long-winded stories, such as “What it Was, Was Football.” As with most comedians (see Jerry Seinfeld for a modern context), Griffith made the transition to acting and won across-the-board acclaim for his turn on the stage, television, and film versions of No Time for Sergeants. He starred as Will Stockdale, a country bumpkin drafted into the Air Force too daft to realize he drives everyone crazy — especially his beloved Sergeant King. And the fact Will keeps falling into buckets of poo (the iconic “toilet salute” scene) and keeps coming out like roses only makes Sgt. King crazier.

Griffith’s co-star/comedic foil is Nick Adams, who went from the highs of Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean, to the lows of working on the B-flicks Frankenstein Conquers the World and Godzilla vs. Monster Zero. He also starred in 1965’s Die, Monster, Die, which is a (very) loose adapatation of H.P Lovecraft’s short story “Colour Out of Space” (we recently reviewed the new Nicolas Cage version Color Out of Space).

Movie 2: Marty (1955)

“You don’t like her, my mother don’t like her, she’s a dog and I’m a fat, ugly man!” exclaims Marty to his best friend, Angie, a gangly guy who pines for women way out of his own league.

Now if this sounds alot like Jackie Gleason’s CBS-TV series The Honeymooners, which begat that network’s series King of Queens, which begat Mike and Molly, then it probably is. Did you ever see John Candy as the lonely bachelor cop in 1991’s Only the Lonely alongside Ally Sheedy? That’s where Marty takes all of it’s cues and Mike and Molly pinched its plot.

The “dog” Marty speaks of is Claire (Gene Kelly’s then wife, Besty Blair): a plain Bronx school teacher that our middle-aged butcher meets at the Stardust Ballroom — where she’s humilated by a blind date that ditched her. A sweet, clumsy romance that his doting mother and sexually immature buddies try to discourage, blossoms against all odds.

While you may not know of this deep slice of celluoid set on the streets of New York, you know of the film’s screenwriter: playwright Paddy Chayefsky. He’s best known to fans of ’70s and ’80s cinema for the award-winning films Network (1976; “I am mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”) and the sci-fi feature Altered States (1980; the film debut of William Hurt, aka Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, from the Captain America/Avengers/Black Widow film arc).

The 1953 teleplay of “Marty” on which the film is based aired as part of the NBC-TV Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and starred Rod Steiger (American Gothic, The Amityville Horror, Mars Attacks, and Stallone’s The Specialist) in the title role.

And do we have to tell you that Ernest Borgnine was “Cabby” in Escape from New York? Really, do we? (He talks about that role on You Tube.)

Three-for-one watermelons and cantaloupes! Ten ears of corn for $2.00!
B&S About Movies 2-4-1 DVD and VHS movie sale blowout this Sunday.

Movie 3: Double Indemity (1944)

“That’s a honey of an anklet you got there, Ms. Dietrichson,” salivates the nebbishly dashing Walter Neff, an insurance salesman.

Poor bastard; he didn’t stand a chance.

Now, in today’s #metoo movement, Ms. Dietrichson would be on the phone to the insurance company to report Neff to his superiors. He’d be fired, slandered on social media, become an alcoholic, and slither around on rock bottom until his eventual self-demise.

But this is a James M. Cain novella-based film and back then, a comment about a woman’s anklet triggered a femme fatale chain-of-events from which a man could never recover. And in this case: a rich, seductive housewife romances an insurance salesman into a murder/insurance fraud scheme of her husband, which arouses the suspicions of an insurance investigator played by Edward G. Robison — who you know as Saul “the Book” from the apoc-romp Soylent Green.

Do we really have to tell you who Fred MacMurray is? Ugh. Yes, he’s the old guy from all of those Antenna TV reruns of My Three Sons, you know, the “Uncle Charlie, where’s Chip and Ernie?” show. But before his TV career, Freddie starred in hit-after-hit movie, including this film noir ranked No. 38 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 best American films of all time.

Study this film, ye potential filmmaker. It’s the gold standard.

Movie 4: Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)

Sigh. Barbara Stanwyck. The art of flashbacks to tell a story. Long tracking shots out of windows, over roof tops, across exterior walls and through windows — without bogus CGI After Effects digital stitching. In other words: “real oners.” Dark lighting. Moody shadows. Swirling cameras. And Barbara Stanwyck. Schwing for all of it, not just her.

She stars as Leona Stevenson, the spoiled, bedridden daughter of a wealthy businessman that — in the days before cellphones, where operators used patchcords in a circuit board to patch phone calls to various parties — hears a murder plot on a crossed phoneline. The twist: the plot is to murder her. And the murderer is her lover, played by Burt Lancaster, a slimy-yet-dashing businessman-cum-drug dealer (toned down for the movie).

If you’re interested in screenwriting and filmmaking, this is the film you study again and again. And again. Simply magnificent.

And you thought we were all about Sergio Martino and Fred Olen Ray movies at B&S About Movies? Don’t forget: hang up your speakers and please, use the trash recepticles on your way out. We’ll see you next Friday under the stars.

Sadly, there’s no free online streams available to share with you. However, because of each of the film’s “classic status,” they’re commercially available on all of the streaming services — You Tube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, and Vudu for less than $5.00 (cheaper than a box of multiplex Snowcaps!) — and DVDs are easily obtainable at your local public library. Happy viewing!

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

Hello everyone…

Hello to everyone that reads B&S About Movies every day.

These are scary times.

I’ve spent most of my life watching post-apocalyptic and horror movies. This is not the end of the world scenario I was promised.

Actually, to be fair, while this is going to fundamentally change how we live our lives, it’s only the end if we give in. I never want to tell people what to do, but if you don’t need to work, stay inside. Your grandparents were called to go to Nazi Germany and fight in a war. You only need to sit on your couch and be chill for a while.

How long? No one knows. But it’s as if my every dream — being forced to sit inside and watch movies all day and be on the computer — has come true.

It sucks.

My heart and soul go out to everyone at this time.  I’ve been freelance since October and Becca is injured from work and unable to do anything due to a major back injury. Yet I know that many people are worse off than us.

How can I help?

Becca, Cubby and I are all safely isolated inside our home, surrounded by 4,000 DVDs and every streaming platform possible. Perhaps just doing what I do all the time — share my love of films with the world — can help you.

Can I recommend something to you?

Can I help teach your kids when they are being homeschooled about writing or being creative?

Can I take your mind off all this?

I sure hope so.

Take care of yourself. Take care of each other.

42nd Street closed a long time ago and there’s no movie worth seeing in the theater anyway. Just load up a DVD and try to enjoy yourself.


PS – I heard from Luigi Cozzi, who is feeling fine, and I burst out in tears. That’s how much all this film garbage means to me.

Karn Evil 9 (202?)

On the distant planet of Ganton 9, the annual Karn Evil—a societal rite of passage—is a young person’s final opportunity to experience the unbridled freedom of the decadent world before subjugating themselves to the order of the dictatorial-technocratic ruling class. When attendees of the Karn Evil right-of-passage ceremonies fail to return from their rebirthing experience, fear sweeps across the lands of Ganton as its citizens rise up in revolution to topple what is discovered to be an artificial intelligence that’s drained humanity of its will.

In other words: look down at the Smartphone in your hands, kiddies. Welcome to Karn Evil 9.

Michael Napoliello and Maria Frisk for Radar Pictures, the producers behind Vin Diesel’s Riddick franchise and Sony’s Jumanji franchise reboot, are currently working with New York Times best-selling author Daniel H. Wilson on a screenplay adaptation of the 30-minute futuristic rock suite featured on British prog-rock legends Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s 1973 album Brain Salad Surgery. Wilson, also the author of The Andromeda Evolution, most recently adapted his novel Robopocalypse for a co-production by Michael Bay and Dreamworks.

While the world came to know the artwork of Swiss surrealist H.R Giger through his 1977 book Necronomicon, which showcased his futuristic images of man meshed with machines, and became the inspiration behind Ridley’s Scott’s 1979 film Alien, it was Emerson, Lake & Palmer who first brought Giger’s work to a worldwide audience when they commissioned the artist to design the cover for Brain Salad Surgery.

You’ve come to know Keith Emerson through his Italian giallo soundtrack work for Dario Argento’s Inferno (1980), Lucio Fulci’s Murder Rock (1984), and Michele Soavi’s The Church (1989). In addition to Sylvester Stallone’s Nighthawks (1981), Emerson also composed the soundtrack for Toho Studios’ 28th Godzilla film, Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). Here’s to hoping the production design of Karn Evil 9 will be infused with H.R Giger’s visions and the soundtrack will replicate Emerson’s use of Hammonds, pipe organs, harpsichords, and Clavinets from the album.

One thing’s for sure: Karn Evil 9 isn’t going to be no Alice’s Restaurant, a Harper Valley PTA, or an Ode to Billy Joe—but will probably freak us out with some crazy, surrealistic nightmare akin to the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. Heaven only knows how long it’ll take before Rush sells the film rights to their 1976 epic, 2112.

You can listen to ELP’s four-movement “Karn Evil 9” suite in its entirety on You Tube while you read the full lyrics at Genius.com and fan through the pages of Giger’s Necronomicon at Google Images.

About the Author: You can read the music and film criticisms of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

* Mock movie one-sheet by R.D Francis based on Giger’s Brain Salad Surgery. Typefaces courtesy of Picfont.com.

Pact of Vengeance (2021)

Get out of here! There’s a movie starring Leo Fong (Kill Point and Low Blow) AND our all-time favorite “rock warrior” Jon Mikl Thor from Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare and Zombie Nightmare?

Oh, hell yeah!

Champion Korean Kata, Black Belt Heavyweight fighter, and noted fight choreographer Len Kabasinski is currently in the pre-production stages of his latest writing and directing effort to be shot in Erie, Pennsylvania. (Hey, yinz are making a movie?)

Leo Fong is Zian, a retired Special Forces commander who now runs an auto body shop in the tough inner city (Pittsburgh?!)—a city gripped in fear at the hands of “The Black Roses,” a ruthless gang who makes the rounds and collects “turf money” from local businesses. When Zian refuses to comply with the gang’s demands, they assault his grand-daughter and leave her for dead. When the corrupt cops and in-the-pocket local politicians turn a blind eye to the gang’s increasing power, Zian’s only choice is to call up his old Special Forces team, “The Obliterators,” to serve their own brand of justice.

In addition to Leo Fong and Jon Mikl Thor, the film also stars Sylvester Stallone’s former bodyguard, Mathew Karedas, the star of 1991’s Samurai Cop and 2015’s Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance.

There’s no word yet if Thor is a member of or the leader of the “The Black Roses” or “The Obliterators,” but who cares—it’s a film starring Jon Mikl Thor! We’re just stoked to see him back on the big screen. (And for you B-Movie film buffs: John Fasano, who directed Thor in Zombie Nightmare and Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, also directed one of our favorite heavy-metal horror films: 1988’s Black Roses.)

Dude. This film is making my head spin!

Len’s crowdfunding Pact of Vengeance and you can learn more about it at Indiegogo. You can also learn more about the film’s funding campaign at Killerwolf Films’ Patreon page.

Fong previously starred in Len Kabasinski’s last writing and directing effort, 2018’s Challenge of the Five Gauntlets. You can learn more about where to get the Blu-ray and DVD at the film’s Facebook page.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

Nic Cage Bitch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I’m so excited that Paul Andolina has contributed this, as he has gone through the same vision quest that I have taken so many times in the past. While my road has been the trail of Stallone and Van Damme, he is brave enough to enter the cage, as it were. The world of the California Kinski, Nicolas Kim Coppola, forever to be known as Nicolas Cage.

To read more of Paul’s writing, check out Wrestling with Film and Is the Dad Alive?

For the past two months I have felt like I am slowly going insane. This is pretty normal. I’m always teetering on the brink of being stable or careening wildly down a slope into depression, however, it almost feels like it’s becoming sort of a crisis situation. It might have turned into this crisis when I had the idea to do a small talk with a local wrestler, Chet Lasseter, about Nicolas Cage. I’ve always enjoyed Cage so we decided to talk about a couple movies; Ghost Rider and National Treasure. That turned from an evening with a couple drinks and a few Cage movies into what has now almost been a two week bender of films that star Nicolas Cage.

It wasn’t my plan to fall into a black hole of Cage’s wonderful performances. Cage is a passionate man, he’s so passionate about acting that even if the movie he is in is subpar, his role will make you pay attention to it anyway. A Cage role can lull you into a sense of feeling what you’re watching is just another movie, but then completely takes a turn into something profound, grabbing you by the scruff and screaming in a typical Nic fashion. You see, Cage adds these little touches to everything he is in; the intonation in his voice, a facial contortion, even his wardrobe or what he eats. I mean the dude eats fucking red and yellow jelly beans from a martini glass in Ghost Rider. Well, he actually drinks them if that makes any sense. In another film Next, he drinks a martini at a diner in Vegas. I guess alcohol is served everywhere in Vegas, perhaps there are even cash bars in their churches. I’m getting off track here though, the point is it’s been about 10 days, and I’m on my 19th film that stars Cage. Cage and I have become so intertwined that I’ve come to feel like maybe I’m a character in a movie he happens to star in. Like reality is all about Nicolas Cage, the person, the actor, the phenom, and I’m just some background character in a cruel picture.

Here are some of my thoughts about my binge:

February 23rd I started small with National Treasure (2004) one that I’ve seen so many times since its release that it feels like a friend. I hadn’t noticed it yet but so many of the characters Cage has played are haunted by his past. In National Treasure, he is haunted by his family’s past, a curse almost, the lust to solve the mystery of the Templar treasure. He is successful, though, in finding it. Cage’s performance of a riddle solving, neurotic, new age Indiana Jones is something I never knew the world was missing until he crashed onto the scene. That same night I attempted to watch Ghost Rider but was a bit too tipsy.

Two days later on February 25th I watched Kill Chain (2019). I loved it, I don’t remember much other than I knew right then and there, Cage was a force, a tornado that comes crashing in and out of films, with a precision level of destruction that leaves entertained people in its wake. A series of killings comes full circle. Cage plays an ex mercenary, Araña. It’s good, I need to visit it again. I may have actually started this on the 24th and finished it in the wee hours of the 25th. I don’t remember because time has become irrelevant.

The 26th of February saw not one or two films starring Cage, but fucking three of them. A Score to Settle (2019), more being haunted by the past, Cage plays an ex mob enforcer, he wants revenge on the men who fucked up his life and got him thrown in jail for 22 years. Excellent little thriller, Cage is unhinged as fatal insomniac, Frank. 

This far into the unintentional bender I haven’t met a film I haven’t been fascinated by to almost an obsessive level before thrusting myself into the next movie, which was Ghost Rider (2007). Ghost Rider is about Johnny Blaze, he’s a stunt cyclist, so is his dad. His dad has cancer, he sells his soul to heal his father but then his father wrecks his cycle in the worst filmed crash I’ve ever seen. People hate this movie. I watched it in theaters when it came out, MESMERIZED, I still like it. It has its flaws, many. But its still great. I love the music, Cage’s Johnny Blaze is what I think of when I think of the comic book character now, he is one cool customer. When he turns into Ghost Rider and is doing the penance stare and saying his lines, I can’t think of anyone else portraying him.

My third movie was Rage (2014), also known as Tokarev. A former mobster’s daughter is abducted and murdered, he goes on a murderous rampage with two of his ex mob buddies. It’s nuts. It’s ugly and fucking melancholic. It was great.

The 27th saw three more movies, because, why not? Season of the Witch (2011), National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007), and Bringing Out the Dead (1999).

Season of the Witch (2011), I always get this confused with Black Death (2010), they’re similar but not in tone. Season of the Witch sees Cage as a former crusader, haunted by killing women and children, who is tasked with bringing an accused witch to an abbey to stop a plague. It gets crazy. Ron Perlman is in it. There’s a wacky ass CGI demon too.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007) More adventures of Benjamin Gates, his past is brought up. A Gates might have been a traitor of the United States. Mount Rushmore is filled with gold. Indigenous people gold. 

Bringing Out the Dead (1999) sees Cage as a paramedic haunted by the death of a young girl he couldn’t prevent. It’s been one of my very favorites so far. Earlier Cage, starting to spread his crazy wings wide, He is actually literally haunted by his past in this one, often seeing the spirit of the young girl he cannot save. There’s a pretty great drug trip sequence in this. This movie is very artistic, downbeat and filled with black comedy.

I watched three more movies that starred Nicolas Cage on the 28th of February. It seems like seven weeks ago instead of just a few short days, the day saw me experiencing, Next (2007), Army of One (2016), and Mom and Dad (2017).  

Next (2007) is a lot of fun, I wasn’t expecting a sci-fi thriller from the title and short plot description I read but I got it in spades. Very loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s “The Golden Man”. It sees Cage as Vegas magician, Frank Cadillac who can see 2 minutes into the future if it involves himself. He is waiting to meet a woman, he keeps seeing in his visions. He meets her but the government is after him, they want his abilities to assist them in stopping a thermo-nuclear attack. I really enjoyed this one. It was more than what I had been thinking that it would be. 

Army of One (2016) is fucking hysterical. Cage is amazing as Gary Faulkner, a man with a shit kidney who is convinced God has told him to go to Pakistan to capture Osama Bin Laden, O.B.L., the Bearded One. This movie is everything I never knew I wanted. Based on the true story of Fary Faulkner, who actually did go to Pakistan to hunt Bin Laden. Gary Faulkner’s voice is funny and he does and says some pretty outlandish shit, both in the States and Pakistan. I feel I will be quoting this movie often. I already have screamed I fucking love Pakistan while traipsing around my own house, and I may or not refer to myself as the donkey king and thank baby goats often. Everyone should see this it is peak Nic Cage. I think it may be a masterpiece.

Mom and Dad (2017) was insane in a good way. Nic Cage acts like a maniac as a father who is overcome by a mysterious illness that is causing parents to attempt and in many cases succeed in killing their offspring. It must be seen because this level of bonkers isn’t something I often come across when watching stuff. Then again I have been watching Cage for 10 days straight so maybe I am not the best judge of levels of crazy. Selma Blair plays his wife.

The 29th saw me watching two films, Outcast (2014) and Knowing (2009)

Outcast (2014) sees Cage as a crusader again, this time alongside Hayden Christensen. Both are haunted by their pasts. They run off to Asia, they get into some shit and have to save a young prince and his sister from being murderized by their brother who plans on killing them and taking over the throne after having killed his own father.

Knowing (2009) is one of the most original films I’ve seen in a while. I loved it. Spooky whispering men, doomsday prophecies in a time capsule from the 50s, and Cage being haunted yet again by the past. A past that could have been prevented if that damn capsule was opened earlier, not that it matters. Earth is fucked.

The 1st of March I watched Seeking Justice (2011) and Between Worlds (2018).

Seeking Justice (2011) is about a secret organization trying to right the wrongs of the world one unsuspecting chump at a time. Cage is roped into this mess after his wife is raped and a man offers to help him punish the rapist. So get two forever bars, and find out why the hungry rabbit jumps when the MASSIVE COUNTRY WIDE conspiracy about these cells doing the same shit all over comes to light

Between Worlds (2018) is a mess. It’s actually very well structured and is a great movie but it feels like a mess. You will feel like you need a shower after you watch this movie. Supernatural bullshit wrapped in a horrifying failed romance when Cage helps a woman bring back her daughter from a coma but surprise it’s actually Cage’s character’s dead wife. Bloodshed, sex, odd wardrobes, and different dimensions. Need me an alligator head shirt with a sick ass shark tooth necklace. I’ll never be a trucker but I can pretend to if I have this get up.

I watched another two films, on the 2nd of March, Bad Lieutenat Port of Call New Orleans (2009) and Left Behind (2014).

Bad Lieutenant Port of Call New Orleans (2009) is one of the best movies Cage has ever done. It has a star studded cast. Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, Xzibit, Fairuza Balk, Brad Dourif, and Michael Shannon all star in this. Cage shines as drug addicted Lieutenant Terence McDonagh, who steals from evidence rooms, conspires against Xzibit’s character, Big Fate, and ends up getting a slew of mafia enforcers knocked off, while high on crack. Fairuza Balk is in her underwear straddling Cage at one point who is so messed up on heroin he doesn’t want anything to do with her sexually, instead instructing her to take drugs from her precinct’s evidence locker and to make sure she loses the vouchers. Terence is in love with a prostitute, played by Eva Mendes. Eva puts on a heck of a performance. Werner Herzog directed this and it shows, there are some really off the wall shots with handheld cameras and reptiles, mainly iguanas and alligators. McDonagh and his imaginary iguanas will stick with me for a while. I gave this movie 5 stars and it earns every single one. It’s a tour de force of fucked up people, Terence is the most fucked up yet somehow comes out on top after almost messing everything up because of his addiction. He also learns nothing in the end.

Left Behind (2014) was one I wished I had never watched because it’s weak sauce. Cage is great but it’s too much rapture on a plane and not enough crazy happenings. 

Today is the 3rd of March, it is 5 pm. So far I have watched Trust (2016) and Adaptation (2002).

Trust (2016). Nic Cage, the guy who played Frodo, a heist by two cops, an amazingly twisted film. See it for the fact that Cage somehow turns in a seemingly normal performance with peppered in crazy. He speaks German in a scene, He says, “David!” in an octave I’ve never heard him use before.

Adaptation (2002) is a movie. I enjoyed it. Not as much as everything else I have watched. Cage plays twin screenwriters. Meryl Streep cradles her foot like a baby, high out of her fucking skull on a drug extracted from an orchid. A guy gets killed by an alligator. Must see because there are two Nic Cages in it. Probably will enjoy this more when I’m in a less frenzied state.

Time is a funny thing, something I think I may have too much of to write this much about Nicolas Cage films. It’s been a journey, one that won’t end any time soon. I like Nicolas Cage, I will watch a goat eat grass as long as Cage is the farmer who owns that goat. I don’t care if Cage is in it for a half hour out of the movie’s 2 hour running time. He’ll make it the most compelling movie about a goat the world ever could bear witness to. At one point in these 10 days I attempted to start another site just strictly for Nicolas Cage stuff. It might happen one day. I started it but never published it. Maybe this piece gets hosted there some day. Maybe it sees itself on B&S About Movies. Maybe it just sits on my desktop under the file name NIC CAGE BITCH until the world ends. Maybe I am mad and will stay mad but I hope Cage continues to make as many films as he can a year because I will find them and I will watch them and maybe just maybe I’ll feel a little more chipper because it’s Nicolas fucking Cage and he is all the rage.

Footnote: Since this is a Nicolas Cage roundup, be sure to check out our recent, individual reviews for the Cage in Arsenal, Color Out of Space, and Mandy.


Want to write for B&S About Movies?

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Here’s what the next few months look like. Have a movie you want to cover? Just comment here or reach out to bandsaboutmovies@gmail.com!


  • 2 – 8: Open theme
  • 9-15: Amityville
  • 16-22: Giallo
  • 23-29: Box office failures


  • 1-7: Open
  • 8-14: Kaiju
  • 15-21: Wrestling
  • 22-28: Dan Curtis
  • 29-31: Open


  • All James Bond and the many ripoffs of Bond!

Thanks! We look forward to collaborating with you!

A night with Fabio Frizzi

It’s been a rough month to be perfectly honest, but Becca surprised me with tickets to see Fabio Frizzi, whose Frizzi 2 Fulci tour made its way to Pittsburgh — Frizzi’s first time here.

Frizzi said of this tour, which features a set of Fulci themes and a showing of The Beyond with full soundtrack by Frizzi and his band, “The definitive mix of a movie is a difficult matter in which [everyone’s] ideas flow and where the director has to create the right balance under his artistic view. For the new composer’s cut, I found my old notes taken with Lucio and many of the scenes that I newly scored contain the original, unused music cues…It is basically a new reading of that movie. I tried to do the work imagining Lucio sitting beside me. The true Beyond is always the one dated 1981, but I hope this new one will be a pleasant experience for all of those who loved that one.”

It was a magical evening, with the first set ending with an incredible cover of the theme from Zombi, which was a sure crowd pleaser. Then, after a ten-minite intermission, the band and Frizzi returned for the composer’s cut of Fulci’s 1981 masterwork.

With most of the dialogue being made secondary to the music, this allowed Fulci’s visual style to stand even more up front. I refuse to believe that the so-called “Godfather of Gore” is a hack as many claim and seeing this revised version only made my love for this film stronger.

You can purchase maestro Frizzi’s albums at Cadabra Records or get the Frizzi 2 Fulci live album from Mondo. To learn more, visit the official Facebook page. What you won’t be able to get is the barf bag that was a giveaway at the show.

Here are the rest of his tour dates:

11/23/2019 Youngstown OH @ Westside Bowl
11/24/2019 Boston MA @ Coolidge Corner Theatre
11/25/2019 Philadelphia PA @ Warehouse on Watts
11/26/2019 Brooklyn NY @ Murmrr Theatre
11/28/2019 Greenville SC @ Radio Room
11/30/2019 Knoxville TN @ Central Cinema
12/01/2019 Nashville TN @ Exit / In
12/02/2019 New Orleans LA @ The Church at Hotel Peter and Paul
12/03/2019 Lafayette LA @ Freetown Boom Boom Room
12/04/2019 Dallas TX @ Gas Monkey
12/05/2019 Austin TX @ The Parish
12/07/2019 Tempe AZ @ Club Red
12/09/2019 Los Angeles CA @ The Fonda Theatre
12/10/2019 San Francisco CA @ The Chapel
12/11/2019 Portland OR @ Hollywood Theatre
12/12/2019 Seattle WA @ Fremont Abbey
12/15/2019 Denver CO @ Bluebird Theatre
12/17/2019 Little Rock AR @ Vinos
12/18/2019 Jacksonville FL @ Sun-Ray Cinema
12/19/2019 West Palm Beach FL @ Kelsey Theatre
12/20/2019 Atlanta GA @ Masquerade


Want to write for B&S About Movies? Good. I could use the help.

Here are the themes — spoiler warning — for December and January if you want to get involved.

December 1 to 7: Anything at all!

December 8 to 14: Planet of the Apes and its clones!

December 15 to 21: Beatiful failures: movies that tanked!

December 22 to 28: Holiday and Christian films!

December 29 to January 4: Kids in trouble and making trouble!

January 5 to 11: Sharks are back!

January 12 to 18: Satan!

January 19 to 25: Giallo!

January 26 to February 1: You tell me!

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