And You Thought It Was Safe(?)

Magnum Force (1973)
"...especially when it comes to tedious Crime Dramas."

“…especially when it comes to tedious Crime Dramas.”

Blanket Spoiler Warning for a forty year old film you should’ve already seen. But, then again, who am I to talk? I’ve seen pieces of Magnum Force over the decades, and everyone’s seen the clip of Harry saying, “Man’s got to know his limitations” for the third and final time, buttoning up Our Theme. That clip’s the next-to-last shot of the film so, in one sense, a thousand Eastwood Retrospectives have already spoiled it in more ways than I ever could, just talking about it.

So let’s talk about Magnum Force, the One With Those Other Vigilante Cops Who Don’t Play By the Rules. The film that exists explicitly because everyone called Dirty Harry fascist. It’s star, a self-described “political nothing” who now admits registering with the official Political Nothing Party (the Libertarians) took all the “fascism” talk personally. Especially since an early draft of Dirty Harry‘s script centered around, not a psycho killer vaguely based on Zodiac, but a gang of vigilante cops much easier to confuse for fascists than Hangdog-faced Harry.

Eastwood liked that script, but Don Siegel preferred the one with Scorpio. And America agreed, making Dirty Harry the fourth highest grossing film of 1971, right behind Diamonds Are Forever. With Dirty Harry only eight million dollars less popular than James Bond, a sequel was inevitable. Or so we’d say on this side of the 1970s, a decade that, among other things, saw sequels gain a measure of acceptance in polite company. They’d always existed, of course, but Hollywood A-listers and cultural pundits shunned them as fundamentally low, pulpy things. Besides, Big Name Stars put butts in movie theaters, not on-going stories. The very idea was regarded as silly, the kind of notion that drove “silly,” “juvenile” stuff like superhero comic books. Movies, the thinking went, could certainly be better than that…couldn’t they? Continue reading

Unknown Island (1948)
"I don't know, T-rex, he comes from the land of sharp focus. Can't be THAT tasty...can he?"

“I don’t know, T-rex, he comes from the land of sharp focus. Can’t be THAT tasty…can he?”

Generally speaking, Dinosaurs make everything better. However, when you get down to the specifics, you’ll likely find “better” often translates out to “better than nothing” or “not complete shit.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, is usually blamed for hammering out the Dinosaur Adventure template with his 1912 novel The Lost World. Principally remembered today as an on-the-job training ground for budding special effects wizard Willis O’Brien, 1925’s Lost World movie was extremely popular as a whole, opening whole new markets up to subsequent “fantasy adventure” pictures and the giant monster movies they eventually spawned.

There’s a reason most film geeks skip directly from that Lost World to King Kong and onward to Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. The twenty years in between Kong and Beast were a sorry time for all the interesting genres. Horror fell into a vicious “self-parody = $$$ = self-parody without self-awareness” cycle my fellow survivors of the 1990s should instantly recognize. Sci-fi, barely out of infancy, got relegated to before-the-feature serials until the Space and Atomic Ages stole the American imagination away from the Old West. There were no “Action Movies” as we know them today. Westerns covered most of that territory, but whole swaths of what we’d now call “Action” or “Thrillers” were categorized under the catch-all term “Adventure.”

Like most film nomenclature, the term’s inaccurate and often dangerously misleading. Most “Adventures” follow a plot so standardized and predictable even audiences from the 1940s could recognize it from the next town over. Blindfolded. In the dark. Unknown Island is a perfectly awful example of that, the best reason in the world to love King Kong even more than you already do. Because as problematic as some of the things in Kong might be, at least they aren’t boring. And, generally speaking, Willis O’Brien makes everything better. Continue reading

The Traumatic Cinematic Show, Ep. 60: Another Django Heard From
March 18, 2013, 11:01 am
Filed under: Movies, Podcasts | Tags: ,

Ep. 60: Sukiyaki Western DjangoIt has taken slightly over a year but the Traumatic Cinematic show has finally logged their 60th episode. In celebration, and to keep in line with March-ial Arts Month, the trio delved deep into Takashi Miike’s spaghetti western kung-fu extravaganza Sukiyaki Western Django. This is not the first nor the last Miike experience for the boys but it is the first gun slinging western. Tune in to see if Wickliff gushes all over yest another one of his own picks, listen to see if Mr. DeMoss finds something to hate about this film like all the rest, and see if Mugumbo understood any of the film’s Engrish.

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Find us on Twitter at @GenXnerd, @Greymattersplat, ,@AYTIWS, and the whole cult @TCPodcastCrew

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Twitter: @imageblownout

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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (2013)

Part 4: More Comic Book History You Don’t Care About But Need to Know in Order to Understand What the Hell’s Going On in This Review:

"We now return you to our regularly scheduled film, already in progress."

“We now return you to our regularly scheduled film, already in progress.”

Since Warner Brothers insisted on adapting this story into two, one hour and twelve minute movies I made a point of not revisiting Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 in preparation for this review of Part Deux. If it’d been up to me, I would’ve adapting Frank Miller’s four-issue story arc into one movie. Even with everything here it’d still be at least an hour shorter than the last two live action Bat-films. And make no mistake – the WB’s straight-to-video animation department threw in a lot.

They had no choice.  These are adaptions of one of the best-loved Batman stories in history. Find me a Bat-writer and, with a little help from my friend Google, I’ll probably be able to find you a choice quote about how 1986’s Dark Knight Returns either got them into Batman in the first place, or brought them back after a period of apostasy. Current Batman/Superman writer Greg Pak just provided me a perfect example in this interview, dated February 27th, 2013:

I dropped out for a little bit, and I was still picking up indie comics like Cerebus and Usagi Yojimbo, but it was Batman that got me back into superhero comics when I was in college. Specifically it was Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One, which then led me to other stuff. It was basically Frank Miller who dragged me back in, and I was hooked. I was obsessed with Batman. Continue reading

Destroy All Monsters (1968)
As iconic images go, you could do a lot worse.

As iconic images go, you could do a lot worse.

For G-fans, this is the Big One, the culmination of all that came before. It’s easy to see why since Kaijû sôshingeki (“Charge” or “Invasion” or “Attack of the Monsters“; take your pick) hits the ground running with none of the drawn-out build-up we’ve come to expect from these flicks…especially those directed by Ishiro Honda. By the eleven minute-mark, Godzilla’s nuking the UN and his monstrous colleagues are reducing other major cities to scrap. By the end of the film, ten monsters engage the twice-defeated (yet inexplicably popular) King Ghidorah in a no-holds-barred brawl in the shadow of Mt. Fuji, which became legendary before the film’s premiere.

So the number one reason cited for out-and-out loving Destroy All Monsters is totally valid. Here, you really can get more monsters for your money and the scope of that Climactic Battle is mind-bending, both as a piece of cinema and as a technical landmark in film making history. Ten monsters, most of them actors in costumes, the rest puppets, all requiring some manner of off-screen puppeteers to keep up the illusion. It was a logistical nightmare of actors and wires and animatronics, all under hot lights, sixteen hours a day…but thanks to the magic of editing and shot composition, its made not only beautiful, but enduringly awesome.

For many G-fans, that fight alone ensures this film can do no wrong. For others, Destroy All Monsters can do no wrong because it was their introduction to Godzilla and his universe. A certain generation (the one right ahead of mine, in fact) grew up seeing this film on network TV, where it played with varying degrees of regularity until the 1980s. This was back in the days when there were only three networks and they bought up catalogs of cheap, old films to shore up their schedules. Continue reading

The Traumatic Cinematic Show, Ep 56: Black Dynamite
February 18, 2013, 3:48 pm
Filed under: Movies, Podcasts, Reviews | Tags: ,

Black DynamiteWilliam Bruce West (@WilliamBWest) joins the crew as we celebrate Black History Month with the 2009 retro blaxploitation extravaganza, Black Dynamite.

Find William Bruce West on Twitter @WilliamBWest and check out his website

Send hate mail to

Find us on Twitter at @GenXnerd, @Greymattersplat, ,@AYTIWS, and the whole cult @TCPodcastCrew

Check out our site

Check out Tom Jenner (creator of our theme songs) and his many project at and @imageblownout on Twitter.

Download episode (right click, “save target/link as”)

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)
"You sure got a purddy mouth..."

“You sure got a purddy mouth…”

Robert Lewis Stevenson was one of those rare good writers lucky enough to be famous in his own time. I may not like Treasure Island but a lot of people do and even more did at the time of its original publication. They got Stevenson over his inevitable Sophomore Slump (a Romance  named Prince Otto that not even English teachers read anymore) and on to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Among English language horror classics it has the benefit of being short and Stevenson’s Presbyterian countryman immediately seized on it for a parable for sin, full stop. Using it in sermons as A Cautionary Tale without the slightest of Spoiler Warnings helped to make the book a best seller. Stage adaptions sprang up immediately, becoming their own worldwide sensation. At least five film versions preceded this one, two of which are lost to us by the time of this writing.

So why ignore the three we have in favor of 1920’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Well, because this is the one I own. And it’s the one with John Barrymore in the title role(s). His name recognition alone should make up for everything…including the film’s problems. Great casting has carried it down through the decades but it shares more with Thomas Russell Sullivan’s stage adaption than with its Stevenson’s novel. Making this a prime example of how Adaption Decay bowdlerized good stories long before the dawn of cinema, and will probably continue to do so until the sun goes nova. So down your mysterious potion of choice, people. This will probably get depressing. Continue reading

Drunk on VHS Podcast – Robots and Monsters
February 7, 2013, 12:00 am
Filed under: Movies, Podcasts | Tags: ,

After months of playing message tag across several social media platforms, I finally dropped in on the Drunk on VHS Podcast and talked the ears off its estimable host, Moe Porne. Drunk on VHS is but one part of, your one stop shop for cult, horror and exploitation news, reviews, videos, opinion pieces and pop culture ephemera for those of a certain taste.

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

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