Tag Archives: Entertainment

RAFFLES (1975-1977): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

Raffles 1RAFFLES (1975-1977) – A. J. Raffles, the master thief and star Cricket player was created by E.W. Hornung – the brother-in- law of Arthur Conan Doyle. As all Raffles fans know, A.J. and his bumbling assistant Bunny Manders were intended as a tongue in cheek criminal answer to Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.  

The camaraderie was similar, the Victorian to Edwardian Age setting was similar, the use of the sidekick as a device to have the expert character explain things to the reader was similar and good GOD, was the unintended homo-eroticism similar.

Raffles 5Raffles was portrayed by a long line of suave, debonair actors, from John Barrymore in Silent Movies on up through David Niven and others in Talkies. In my opinion, this 1970s British television series served up the best rendition of the iconic character.

Anthony Valentine perfectly embodies the sly, charming bon vivant whose public fame as a first-rate Cricket player helps conceal his secret avocation as a master jewel thief. Christopher Strauli does the best that any actor can be expected to do with the thankless role of the baby-faced, naïve and often inept sidekick Bunny. Continue reading

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HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980)

HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following 

Okay, this movie is better known than many of the other joyously bad films I review, but it still hasn’t acquired the reputation or the following it deserves as Midnight Movie or Movie Host material. Vic Morrow IS the heavy and Doug McClure IS another bland and unmemorable hero in this Continue reading

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RETURN OF THE FLY (1959) ON THE TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT

*** FEATURING A MAJOR MILESTONE IN THE SHOW’S HISTORY ***

Morning Breath

Morning Breath

BEFORE MST3K THERE WAS … THE TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT!

In the mid-1980s The Texas 27 Film Vault was the show to watch on Saturday nights to see “Film Vault Technicians First Class” Randy Clower and Richard Malmos show and mock bad and campy movies preceded by episodes of old Republic serials. Machine-gun toting Randy and Richard would also have comedic sci-fi adventures before and after commercial breaks. 

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of this neglected cult series via my research into really old newspapers, my interview with Randy Clower and recollections from my fellow fans of this show. Keep those emails and comments coming “Vaulties”. Here’s another review of a movie shown when a date can be verified.  

EPISODE ORIGINALLY BROADCAST: Saturday August 9th, 1986 from 10:30pm to 1am.  * Special thanks to my fellow T27FV fan Spearman for the date.

Atom Man vs SupermanSERIAL: Before the movie an episode of the 1950 Columbia serial Atom Man vs Superman was shown. Kirk Alyn starred as Superman with Lyle Talbot as his archenemy Lex Luthor. Lex has his own secret identity in this serial – each episode he dons a lead mask and oversees the villainy as “Atom Man”.

This was one of the liveliest and most campily watchable serials of the 50s. Especially laughable are the bits when Superman “flies” – an effect achieved by switching from live footage of Kirk Alyn to INSERTED CARTOON FOOTAGE of Superman flying. Think of the ‘Toons in Roger Rabbit interacting with the live backgrounds and you have the idea.   

FILM VAULT LORE: The previous week our boys of the Film Vault Corps (“the few … the proud … the sarcastic”) had shown The Story of Mankind, another film with this episode’s interview subject: THE Vincent Price. Like this week’s showing of Return of the Fly it was used to promote Randy and Richard’s upcoming public appearance at the Dallas debut of David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly. (More on that public appearance after the movie review) Spearman also tells me this August 9th episode also featured R&R’s interview with Vincent Price.

THE MOVIE: Return of the Fly is a black and white sequel to the Continue reading

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DRIVE-IN MASSACRE (1976)

drive-in-massacreDRIVE-IN MASSACRE (1976) – Category: Gimmick movie worth watching once, but never again.   

This movie has that certain charm to it that most low-budget 70s horror films possess. When watching Drive-In Massacre you can’t help but reflect on the fact that the talent of John Carpenter is the only thing separating his milestone film Halloween from the many other 1970s slice and dice films like this one. 

The plot of Drive-In Massacre involves a serial killer who strikes only at drive-ins and, in the tried and true custom that countless subsequent slasher films would follow, he thrives on killing couples who are making out. At least at first. The killer’s motive varies throughout the movie, but the murder weapon remains a sword.  Continue reading

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HEX (1973)

Cristina Raines

Cristina Raines

HEX (1973) Category – Enjoyably bad movie but not fun-bad enough to earn my highest rating        Hex, which was also released under the title The Screaming, belongs to that joyously bizarre subgenre of motorcycle horror films.  

That  peculiar cinematic niche also plays home to flicks like Werewolves On Wheels, about a biker gang that hassles Satanists who transform them into werewolves, to Psychomania, about a biker gang that forms a pact with Satan  which permits them to commit suicide and then return from the grave as invincible, soulless marauders and to Blood Freak, about a biker who turns into a turkey monster (no, really).   

Hex trumps all of those other films for sheer weirdness, partly because it is set in the early 1920s and partly because its western locale makes it a candidate for my Weird Western series during the Frontierado Holiday season during the summer.

The underrated beauty Cristina Raines stars in this incoherent mishmash as Oriole, a half-breed witch who uses the Native American magic taught to her by her father to defend herself and her sister Acacia from a roaming biker gang.  Continue reading

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THE PSYCHOPATH (1975)

The_Psychopath_RMCjpgTHE PSYCHOPATH (1975) – Category: The 70s version of camp, with a premise and plot elements that would have been banned in previous decades  

If you’ve ever wanted to see Mr Rogers and/or Pee Wee Herman and/or Barney The Purple Dinosaur go on a killing spree this is the movie for you! Tom Basham plays Mr Rabbey, the host of a popular kiddie show. The key to Mr Rabbey’s success – his knack for knowing what children want to see – is no accident, since Rabbey himself is soon revealed to be a crazed, child-minded nutcase. Picture how much creepier Paul Reubens’ Pee Wee Herman character would be if it was no act and he really, honestly behaved that way 24/7. That’s Mr Rabbey.

The victims of Rabbey’s murder spree are people who beat and otherwise abuse their children, so it’s not all that hard to take the death scenes. You see, it turns out Mr Rabbey himself was the victim of an abusive parent, and when he realizes some of the children he visits on a charitable trip to the hospital have been beaten by their parents he sets out to kill those parents. (The original title of this movie was Eye For An Eye, which is why the film opens up with an extreme closeup of one of Mr Rabbey’s eyeballs) Continue reading

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CENTAUR COMICS SUPERHERO PANTHEON

With superheroes continuing to flood movies, television and streaming media, Balladeer’s Blog takes another look at a neglected pantheon of heroes.

Air ManAIR MAN

Secret Identity: Drake Stevens

Origin: Drake Stevens’ father, Ornithology Professor Claude Stevens, was murdered and when the police were getting nowhere Drake donned a costume equipped with various technical gimmicks and set out to bring the killers to justice.

As always happens in comic books Drake decided to continue fighting crime under his new nom de guerre Air Man.

First Appearance: Keen Detective Funnies #23 (August 1940). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1941.

Powers: Air Man’s costume boasted feathers filled with an experimental anti-gravity gas as well as a jet-pack. In addition to that he sported guns plus a Chemical Belt loaded with cigar-shaped explosives. On top of that Air Man was highly skilled at unarmed combat and had Olympic-level gymnastic abilities. 

Comment: Air Man was one of those Golden Age superheroes who didn’t hesitate to kill off his adversaries when the situation called for it.  

Blue LadyBLUE LADY

Secret Identity: Lucille Martin, novelist

Origin: Returning from a trip to China on board a luxury liner, Lucille Martin was given a priceless statue by a Chinese woman named Lotus. She was told to guard the statue from some men who were pursuing Lotus and by way of payment the Chinese woman also gave her a blue ring.

When the men pursuing Lotus killed her, Ms Martin accidentally discovered that the ring gave her super-powers. She donned a costume, called herself the Blue Lady and brought Lotus’ murderers to justice as the start of a crime-fighting career.  

First Appearance: Amazing-Man Comics #24 (October, 1941). Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Powers: Accidentally breaking the blue-bird shaped gem on the Oriental ring released a gas which bestowed upon the Blue Lady the strength of ten men, invulnerability and the ability to teleport via blue mists. She could also generate those blue mists to hide in and to disorient her opponents. In turn, other gasses were the Blue Lady’s weakness.  Continue reading

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