Tag Archives: Balladeer’s Blog


floris dvdFLORIS (1969 and 1975) – Actor Rutger Hauer and director Paul Verhoeven first worked together for this adventure series set during the very early 1500s. The program aired on Netherlands television in 1969, then was remade – again with Hauer in the swashbuckling title role – in 1975 for German television and ran for even more episodes than the original series.

Rutger starred as the fictional Floris van Rozemondt, the knightly lord of his eponymous castle. Ever the adventurer, Floris had spent ten years as a mercenary, a privateer and a sea trader, acquiring quite a fortune from the latter two pursuits.

sindala and florisAround the year 1502, word finally caught up with our wandering hero that his father and two older brothers had died. Floris returned home, accompanied by his adventuring sidekick Sindala (Jos Bergman), an Indian Fakir. (Floris and the Fakir was originally going to be the title of the series.)

Upon his arrival, Floris discovered that Castle Rozemondt had been unjustly taken from him and occupied by Maarten van Rossum (Hans Culeman) – a subordinate of the Duke of Guelders. The Guelders Wars, centering on efforts to bring the Netherlands together as one nation, had broken out during Floris’ absence and van Rossum was on the opposing side of Floris’ family.

floris in the centerFloris and Sindala fought their way out of the hands of the enemy and wound up allied with Wolter van Oldenstein and his men at Castle Oldenstein. I often wonder if the 1991 film Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves took partial inspiration from the premise of Floris, with a returning nobleman fighting oppression alongside a nonwhite comrade from his overseas adventures. Continue reading


Filed under Forgotten Television


Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog may remember the obscure horror stories I review during Halloween Month each year. I’ve been asked if I’ll ever review any of the better known, big names in Gothic Horror, so here we go. 

the monkTHE MONK (1796) – Written by Matthew G. Lewis. Though The Monk was preceded by other works of Gothic Horror like The Castle of Otranto (1764) and The Necromancer (1794), Lewis’ novel cranked up the supernatural elements a great deal. It also painted the Catholic clergy in extremely unflattering terms, at least in the initial edition.

After the public outcry over the extreme horror and lascivious conduct of clergy members in the first edition, Lewis softened up the content in future editions. The title character, Ambrosio, breaks his vows by committing murder, rape and sex with a consenting partner, before plumbing new depths. The Prioress, Mother Saint Agatha, is sadistically violent to those in her power, even torturing the heroine Agnes.  

Some of the supernatural characters and elements: Continue reading


Filed under Halloween Season


gentleman jekyll and driver hydeGENTLEMAN JEKYLL AND DRIVER HYDE (1950) – Educational short films are often hilarious snapshots of their era. Driver’s Ed shorts are especially vulnerable to seeming outdated given how quickly car designs can change in certain decades.

This particular item is Canadian-made, proving that the Badfilm aesthetic is unfazed by international borders. (Yet Time Zones fill it with a vague sense of unease. Go figure.)

At any rate, Gentleman Jekyll and Driver Hyde obviously takes its cue from Stevenson’s story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. A pair of Canadian furniture movers – one tall and heavy, the other short and slender – bicker like a comedy team while discussing statistics which indicated that in 1950 a Canadian had a better chance of getting killed in a car accident than in a war.

Which I find to be a silly statistic. If it’s peacetime you probably have a better chance of dying from a piano dropping on your head than from a war. Wouldn’t it have been more ominous to say a person had a better chance of dying in a car accident than from heart disease or whatever physical ailment that a 1950 stat would indicate?

After some horrifically strained jokes “Laurel and Hardy, Eh” get to the meat of the matter: The way perfectly polite people can turn into figurative monsters when they get behind the wheel of a car. A kind, considerate man who just interacted with our two leads literally turns into a B-Movie monster thanks to editing and cheap makeup as he drives off.      Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies


college of idaho coyotesNAIA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME – Fighting it out for the National Championship in the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) were the COLLEGE OF IDAHO COYOTES and the INDIANA TECH WARRIORS (should be Hoplites).

The Coyotes fell into their usual pattern this season – they saw a comfortable Halftime lead of 45-26 get whittled down by an opponent’s rally. In the end, Indiana Tech fell just short against the College of Idaho, who held on for a 73-71 win. Jake O’Neil led the victors with a Double Double of 15 points and 12 rebounds. * THE COYOTES ARE NAIA NATIONAL CHAMPIONS *

bethel in pilotsNCCAA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME – The BETHEL (IN) PILOTS (riverboat pilots) faced the CLINTON COLLEGE GOLDEN BEARS for the National Championship of the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) Division One. Continue reading


Filed under College Basketball, Uncategorized


This weekend’s light-hearted, escapist superhero item from Balladeer’s Blog will look at Marvel’s unusual character Skull the Slayer.

skull 1SKULL THE SLAYER Vol 1 #1 (August 1975)

Title: The Coming of Skull the Slayer

Villain: A Tyrannosaurus Rex

Synopsis: Jim Scully, Army nickname “Skull”, is a Vietnam Vet and former POW trying to adjust to life back in the United States. Unfortunately, while he was MIA his wife divorced him and has found a new man. His parents passed away before even finding out that Jim was still alive.

Worst of all, when Scully is reunited with his younger brother, it turns out he is a junkie who tries to kill him. Jim kills his brother in self-defense, and then, overwhelmed by all the horrors of his homecoming after years in a POW camp, he goes on the run, fearful that he’ll be sent to prison for his brother’s death.

Scully is at last tracked down in Bermuda and is being extradited on a flight back to the United States when that aircraft disappears in the Bermuda Triangle. It crash-lands in a primitive rainforest that is apparently where all those who disappear into the Bermuda Triangle end up.

skull and t rexIt is not truly the Earth of millions of years ago, because it is anachronistically populated by dinosaurs and primates that were never alive during the same time periods. The only survivors of the plane crash are Scully, a young Native American man named Jeff Turner, an African American physician named Raymond Corey, and Corey’s young research assistant Ann Reynolds. Continue reading


Filed under Superheroes


graniaGRACE O’MALLEY (1530-1603) – Balladeer’s Blog takes a Saint Patrick’s Day look at Ireland’s notorious Grace O’Malley aka Grainne O’Malley aka Grania or Granuaile O’Malley. This woman was the head of the O’Malley faction in West Ireland and became legendary through her real and embellished career leading pirate crews against her enemies.

Grace became the O’Malley leader after the death of her father, despite this being unprecedented for a woman under the customs of the time. As Chief of the Name, Grace was the acknowledged power when it came to the O’Malley lands and seafaring ventures.

In 1565, during Clan warfare in Ireland, Grace’s husband Donal was killed in an ambush and his slayers in the Joyce Clan moved against the O’Malleys. The Joyces tried to take the island stronghold that later became called Hen’s Castle in honor of Grace O’Malley.

Though they had not expected any real resistance from a family led by a woman, Grace stunned the Joyces by out-generalling them and forcing them to retreat. Continue reading


Filed under Neglected History



college of idaho coyotesFINAL FOUR: FIRST BERTH – The COLLEGE OF IDAHO COYOTES clashed with the TOUGALOO COLLEGE BULLDOGS in this game.

By Halftime the Coyotes were comfortably on top by a score of 43-23, then coasted to an 83-66 triumph over the Bulldogs. The College of Idaho’s Jake O’Neil led his team with 20 points.

indiana tech warriorsFINAL FOUR: SECOND BERTH – Up next the INDIANA TECH WARRIORS (should be the Hoplites) played the ARIZONA CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY FIRESTORM.

The Warriors were clinging to a slender 35-34 edge at the Half, following which they managed to squeeze out a little bit more separation from the Firestorm to win the game 67-64. Twenty points from Blake Davison led Indiana Tech to victory. Continue reading


Filed under College Basketball


dark agnesSWORD WOMAN – This was the first story about Robert E. Howard’s fiery woman warrior Agnes the Dark aka Agnes de Chastillon, a sword fighting, butt kicking woman in 1500s France. Previously, Balladeer’s Blog reviewed the one and only story that R.E. Howard wrote about Red Sonya (NOT Sonja) Shadow of the Vulture, set in the late 1520s, not in Howard’s fictional Hyborian Age.

Unlike Shadow of the Vulture, none of the Dark Agnes tales were published during Robert E. Howard’s lifetime. Sword Woman, the character’s origin story, saw print posthumously in 1975, 39 years after Howard’s suicide. The author dedicated the short story “To Mary Read, Graine O’Malley, Jeanne Laisne, Liliard of Ancrum, Anne Bonney, and all other sword women, good or bad, bold or gay, who have swaggered down the centuries, this chronicle is respectfully dedicated.” Continue reading


Filed under Pulp Heroes


just a damned soldierJUST A DAMNED SOLDIER aka One Damned Soldier (1988) – Balladeer’s Blog concludes its look at all ten films of Italian cult action icon Mark Gregory, real name Marco De Gregorio. I know IMDb states that he also appeared in the made for tv movie Rainbow, but I watched that film and he’s not in it. The error seems to have been made by someone who saw the name MARY Gregory in the closing credits and, because the font for the credits is a bit stylish, mistook the y in Mary for a k.

Previously, I reviewed Mr. Gregory’s post-apocalypse movies 1990: The Bronx Warriors and Escape from the Bronx, plus his Thunder Warrior trilogy of Rambo imitations, his quasi-peplum Adam and Eve vs the Cannibals, and his pair of outings as an action villain in Delta Force Commando and Ten Zan: The Ultimate Mission.

mark in his j hatI’ll wrap up everything by examining Mark’s final two films before he walked away from the business at age 25 in 1989, with no explanation and after having just made his highest amount of money from a movie role.

The public fascination with Mark Gregory continues due to the mystery of his following years and the sometimes contradictory information about his life. Supposedly he raised horses for a time, then became a street artist in Rome, possibly spent all his film earnings or was conned out of them, and died in 2013 from an overdose. Some sources say it was a suicide, others an accidental overdose.

mark with dead meatJust a Damned Soldier features Mark in an ensemble cast as one member of a trio of badass international mercenaries who take on any dangerous, high-paying job that comes along. Our hero, whose character is also named Mark, serves alongside Cisco (Romano Kristoff) and their boss Bert Ernst (Peter Hooten).

Those three, plus their fourth, soon-to-die comrade that I’ll call Dead Meat for a Hot Shots joke, kick off the movie in style with a guns-blazing raid on an industrial compound in Cambodia. The quartet shoots and explodes their way to victory, overcoming dozens of armed soldiers in scenes that live up to the standard joke about 1980s action flicks – “Page One of the script says ‘The good guys open fire’ and Page Two says ‘The End.'”

Mark and his colleagues look typically badass while killing bad guys, stealing tons of gold from the facility, then escaping to a nearby hideout to have the booty flown out of the country. After high fives and similar gestures all around, our main characters escape in a ground vehicle. Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies



Kansas Christian College FalconsCHAMPIONSHIP GAME – Fighting it out for the D2 crown in the USCAA (United States Collegiate Athletic Association) were the KANSAS CHRISTIAN COLLEGE FALCONS and the MANHATTAN CHRISTIAN COLLEGE THUNDER.

The Falcons took control early and led the Thunder 45-24 by Halftime, following which they maintained their pressure all the way to a 98-73 triumph. Boog Lewis led KCC with 28 points, while teammate Jamal Clark notched a Double Double of 22 points and 10 rebounds. * THE FALCONS ARE USCAA DIVISION TWO CHAMPIONS * Continue reading


Filed under College Basketball