Dr. Gangrene's Cinetarium airs Saturday Nights at 9pm central on Nashville NECAT Arts CH9. It is also simulcast on the NECAT Roku channel (search for Necat). Or click to watch below.

Wednesday, November 17

Movie Night with Dr. Gangrene

 I kicked off a new series on Youtube this week I'm calling Dr. Gangrene's Movie Night, where I'll pick a movie at random off my shelf and watch it and review it. For the first episode I looked at a pretty neat little indy flick from 1990 called METAMORPHOSIS... have you seen this one?


Friday, November 5

Frankenstein 1931

One thing I quickly discovered while doing this year's Halloween countdown of mad science movies for Youtube is just how many of them there are! Of course I knew there were a lot going into the countdown but once I started looking specifically at the genre the full extent hit me. Even with the specific criteria that I applied to this countdown - it had to feature not just a mad scientist but also a creation of some sort that runs amuck (thus the title Monsters Gone Wild) - there were way more of these films than I could possibly cover in 31 days (especially in the early days of cinema) . 


But of all the hundreds or possibly thousands of mad science movies out there, one stands boots and bolts above the rest - I'm talking about, of course, the 1931 Frankenstein from Universal Studios.

Most of us are familiar with the story - Colin Clive plays Dr. Henry Frankenstein, a scientist obsessed with creating life. Together with his hunchback assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye) he robs graves for parts to sew together to create a new body. He builds a laboratory in an abandoned windmill and makes all the preparations. During a thundering storm he harnesses electricity from lightning and brings his creation to life. The monster (Boris Karloff) is grotesque, huge, and strong, yet innocent of mind. When Fritz tortures the monster with a whip and open flames , it reacts in fear and murders Fritz. The horror of what he has done overcomes Frankenstein, and he realizes the monster must be destroyed. His mentor Dr. Waldman (Edward Van Sloan) prepares to dissect the creature to destroy it forever, but it awakens and murders the doctor, then escapes to rampage the countryside.

This film is loosely based on the 1818 Mary Shelly novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus. It draws influences from the 1927 stage play adaptation of that novel by Peggy Webling too, as well as an American adaptation of that play by John Balderston. It's always been interesting to me that Universal chose to swap names of the doctor and his best friend, Henry and Victor. In the book the doctor is Victor Frankenstein and his friend Henry Clerval. This name swap came directly from the first stage adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel, adapted by Peggy Webling. 

When I think of Frankenstein the image of Boris Karloff in that incredible makeup immediately springs to mind.  The look of the monster is so iconic it is etched into the public consciousness. It’s a part of the general zeitgeist now. That design was painstakingly created by makeup artist Jack Pierce through weeks of trial and error with Karloff, testing and reworking designs until they came up with the final look that wowed audiences and continues to impress to this very day, nearly 100 years later.

It was Karloff’s performance that sold that design wholeheartedly, however. Without speaking a single word he conveyed power, pain, rage, and even vulnerability. Colin Clive is convincing as the obsessed scientist who immediately regrets his ill-fated actions in creating this monstrosity. Mae Clark plays the doctor's fiance Elizabeth. James Whale's direction is masterful. Dwight Frye is the actor who continues to impress me on repeat viewings of this film. He is just so GOOD in it. Fritz is a sad being who was undoubtedly mocked and abused by society and who, given the opportunity, does the same thing to someone else, torturing and tormenting the monster with whips and open flames. 

Kenneth Strickfadden’s electrical apparatuses in the lab would not only be copied in films going forward, many of the actual devices would be used and repurposed in other mad science movies for decades. 

This film is, in a word, iconic. It set the mold for so many films – not just Frankenstein movies, mind you, but mad science films in general – to come for decades. Thundering storms, the musty damp castle, buzzing electrical apparatus, a bubbling beaker-filled lab, the hunchback assistant, the obsessed scientist tempting the laws of nature – the list goes on and on.

This was quite possibly the first horror film I ever saw, on television as a kid in the early 70s. It doesn’t get much better than this.

πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€ 

5 out of 5 skulls

Monday, November 1

Monsters Gone Wild - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 31

 Dr. Gangrene wraps up the 2021 Halloween countdown with a look at the Reanimator franchise. Happy Halloween everyone, and thanks for watching these along with us!


Monsters Gone Wild - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 30

 Dr. Gangrene's Halloween countdown continues with a look at The Bloodwaters of Dr. Z... aka ZAAT

Friday, October 29

Thursday, October 28

Tuesday, October 26

The Mad Monster

I've been watching a ton of films featuring mad scientists lately, as that was my theme for this year's Halloween countdown on YouTube. Mad scientists were all the rage in the early days of science fiction films. There are more mad scientist pictures throughout the 30s and early 40s than you can shake a test tube at. Universal Studios released their own fair share of them during this time, most notably the Frankenstein series of films, as well as other mad science features like The Invisible Ray and Man Made Monster. In 1941 Universal also released a very different type of monster movie that would become a smash hit... The Wolf Man, starring Lon Chaney Jr. The movie in this week's review is from a rival studio, one of the lesser ones... PRC... and it was their own low-budget attempt to capitalize on both of these genres - mad science and werewolves - mashed into one picture, with THE MAD MONSTER.


George Zucco stars as Dr. Lorenzo Cameron, a scientist with a chip on his shoulder towards a group of colleagues and fellow scientists who scoffed at his work, called him mad, had him barred from the University where he was employed, and discredited him in the press. 

He was working on controversial theories of science and evolution at the time and has since continued these studies, using his simple-minded handyman Petro (Glenn Strange) as a test subject. He gives Petro injections of a catalytic agent derived from wolf blood that turns him into a snarling werewolf. He then invites each of his nemesis to his lab for a firsthand – and deadly – look at his “mad” theories in practice. Petro has no recollections of his transformations afterward, or the monstrous deeds he performs while in his animalistic state.

Anne Nagel plays the good doctor's daughter, Lenora, oblivious to his work and mad scheme. Johnny Downs plays her boyfriend reporter who suspects her father’s involvement in the unusual string of deaths of scientists.


The Mad Monster was directed by Sam Neufeld in 1942 for PRC (Producer's Releasing Corporation). This black and white poverty row chiller feels very low-budget across the board, and a bit dated, mostly due to the clunky soundtrack, which is very much a product of its time. Despite this, the film is fairly entertaining throughout, mostly due to the quick runtime (77 minutes) - but it could still stand to have 5-10 minutes cut just to tighten it up a bit. 

The makeup for the werewolf in this one consists mainly of wig, beard, and fangs – but it's still effective, and his costume is unique, resembling a hillbilly werewolf in overalls and floppy work hat. Glenn Strange’s size makes him an imposing, hulking brute of a beast – which of course made him perfect to play the Frankenstein Monster two years later, in 1944’s House of Frankenstein.


The Mad Monster
is very similar to another mad science film that came out one year prior (1941) - Man Made Monster. In both a somewhat slow, simple man is taken advantage of by a mad scientist, used as a guinea pig, and turned into a monster with the ultimate goal of creating an army of super-powered soldiers. Anne Nagel stared in both films as the daughter of a scientist and has a reporter boyfriend in each as well. 

This film also plays very much like a mash-up of two Lon Chaney Jr. films: the aforementioned Man Made Monster and The Wolf Man, which was also released in 1941. To top it all off Glenn Strange seems to be very much channeling Chaney’s performance as Lennie from Of Mice and Men (1939) in this role as well. There's no doubt in my mind one of the producers of this film was a Chaney fan!


Director Sam Newfeld would go on to direct four films starring good ole George Zucco, all science fiction schlockers from PRC - The Mad Monster (1942), Dead Men Walk (1943), The Black Raven (1943), and The Flying Serpent (1946). George Zucco was definitely their "guy" there at PRC.

Speaking of Zucco, the role of a mad scientist seems custom-made for him. He brings an intensity to his performance that is perfect for the part. The sets and backgrounds in this one feature the standard mad science trappings of bubbling beakers and fluid-filled flasks, housed within the castle-like stone walls of his laboratory. What kind of mad doctor would he be otherwise?

The Mad Monster was re-released in theaters in 1945 on a double-bill with The Devil Bat starring Bela Lugosi. These films pair perfectly as each features a mad scientist taking revenge on their former colleagues through elaborate mad schemes. That would have been a great double-feature, especially in drive-in theaters - hell, I'd love to see that double-feature at a drive-in even today!

3 out of 5 skulls




Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 26

 Keeping that 2021 Halloween countdown going with a look at THE CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN.

Monday, October 25

Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 25

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the 2021 Halloween countdown going with a look at The Thing with Two Heads.

Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 24

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the 2021 Halloween countdown rolling with a look at three TV comedy skits starring Vincent Price as a mad scientist.


Full skits below:


Danny Kaye Show - 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vL4tWtqqBM4


Red Skelton Hour

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuiIGEZk354&t=324s


Carol Burnett Show

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yLBqPbi3Xc&t=326s

Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 23

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the Halloween countdown going with this ape wild flick, KONGA.

 

Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 22

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the Halloween countdown going with a look at the scifi classic The Colossus of New York


Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 21

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the Halloween countdown going with a look at The Werewolf.

 

Monsters Gone Wild - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 20

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the Halloween countdown rolling with a look at this Bela Lugosi classic - The Devil Bat!

 

Monsters Gone Wild - 2021 Halloween Countdown Day 19

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the Halloween countdown going with a look at the mad science classic THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE.

 

Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 18

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the Halloween Countdown going with a look at the 1959 film The Alligator People.

Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 17

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the 2021 Halloween countdown rolling with a look at the 1931 Universal classic, Frankenstein.

Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 16

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the Halloween countdown going with a look at The Freakmaker, aka The Mutations.

 

Monsters Gone WILD 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 15

 Dr. Gangrene Keeps the Monsters Gone Wild Halloween Countdown going with a look at one of the greatest Frankenstein films of all time, Curse of Frankenstein. 

 

Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween countdown - Day 14

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the Halloween marathon going with a look at THE FLY series of films... it's quite the buzz around town!

 

Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 13

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the 2021 Halloween Mad Science countdown going with a look at the episode of Karloff's THRILLER titled The Incredible Dr. Markesan.



Monsters Gone Wild - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 12

 Doc Gangrene keeps the Halloween countdown going with a look at the 1957 sc-ifi flick I Was a Teenage Frankenstein.


Monsters Gone WILD! 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 11

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the Halloween countdown going with a look at MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS.

Monsters Gone WILD! - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 10

 Doc Gangrene keeps the Halloween fun rolling with a look at the 1942 flick THE MAD MONSTER.

Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 9

 Dr. Gangrene's 2021 Halloween countdown continues with a look at this giant creepy-crawlie, Tarantula!


Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 8

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the 2021 Halloween countdown rolling with a look at the Frankenstein franchise from Hammer Studios.

Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 7

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the 2021 Halloween countdown rolling with a look at the 1956 Universal Gillman movie, The Creature Walks Among Us.

Monsters Gone WILD - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 6

 Dr. Gangrene keeps the Halloween countdown for 2021 rolling on Day 6 with a look at the 1967 film Body of the Prey.



Monsters Gone Wild - 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 5

 Dr. Gangrene continues the 2021 Halloween countdown with a look at the Blacksploitation schlocker BLACKENSTEIN!



Monsters Gone WILD! 2021 Halloween Countdown - Day 4

 The 2021 Halloween countdown continues with a look at the 1970 scifi film SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN, featuring Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing.



Wednesday, October 20

HALLOWEEN KILLS - Trick or Treat?

    I finally watched HALLOWEEN KILLS this weekend. I initially planned to see it in the theater, but my schedule didn't allow it, so I finally relented and signed up for Peacock streaming and watched it at my house. I have mixed feelings about seeing movies this way. I'm a big supporter of theaters, but the past several times I've gone to see a movie anywhere outside of the Belcourt (Nashville's arthouse theater that doesn't allow talking or disruptions of any kind) the experience has been HORRIBLE. Audiences are so badly behaved nowadays that it ruins the entire experience. But I'll save my old man rant for another day - today I'm here to talk about Halloween Kills.

Spooky season is here and Michael Myers is back, stalking his way into theaters once again. I had heard there were a lot of folks upset about this latest installment in the franchise, and it was people posting spoilers online that finally made me go ahead and watch it at home. Admittedly, I wasn't the biggest fan of this team's first effort, HALLOWEEN 2018. I didn't hate it, I just kind of had a problem accepting the premise of it, to be honest. You see, there's just an inherent arrogance built into any filmmaker who takes an established franchise like Halloween and throws out all the sequels, proclaiming them trash and that theirs will be the only "real" storyline going forward. ESPECIALLY if they're not including one of the very best films in the franchise, HALLOWEEN 2, which I'm a big fan of. It's the second-best "Michael" movie, after the Carpenter original. It picks up immediately following the first film, builds on the events of that film, and tells a compelling story. It was also written by the man himself, John Carpenter, in conjunction with his creative partner Debra Hill, in 1981, just 3 years after the original, when the story was still fresh.

The new creative team (David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Jason Blum) have gone on record saying the main reason for ignoring part 2 (and all subsequent films) is so Michael and Laurie would no longer be siblings. Not sure why they chose to discard this particular bit of lore, as it's one of the most well-known parts of the story. But they did, and it was a bit hard for me to accept that in the 2018 film. ESPECIALLY since that exact thing had already been done once, with HALLOWEEN H20 (1998). That one also chose to discard all the sequels, setting its story directly following the original 1978 HALLOWEEN. And here's the kicker - it did it better than the 2018 version. 

In 2018 the biggest problem was the way they wrote Laurie. They were trying to portray her as a strong woman character, but instead, she comes across as a fearful loon, afraid of her own shadow and hiding in the woods with her guns. You know what's strong? Learning to cope with trauma, beating your fears, and being able to live a semi-normal life after the fact, even becoming headmistress of a school and raising a son. Hiding in fear isn't strong, conquering that shit and living life takes real strength!

So I found the 2018 version less than compelling for a number of reasons. BUT, I decided to put that aside and give the latest film, Halloween Kills, a fair chance - even if it is a terrible title. And it is. I mean... Halloween Kills? That's the best they could come up with? About as bad as FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, another really lame title for a spinoff property.

So how was this latest horror-holiday offering?

After seeing it, I'm really not sure what people were all that upset about online. This one takes place immediately following Halloween 2018 (in much the same way that Halloween 2 followed the original film). A large portion of it takes place in the Haddonfield hospital (again, much like Halloween 2). Halloween Kills was better than 2018 however, largely because Laurie is out of her clichΓ© Sarah Connor mode this time around. She is injured in the hospital from wounds received in the prior film, and confined to her hospital bed for the most part. Her character is much better written this time around, showing some warmth and compassion with an old friend in her hospital room, as well as genuine concern for her family.

This one does get a bit convoluted story-wise by introducing a whole bunch of characters with ties to the 78 film. Probably a few too many, at least I had trouble keeping up with all of them. But that aside, the story was engaging and it felt more like a proper Halloween film this time around. There was even a nod to HALLOWEEN 3 in it, but I'm honestly not sure if it's supposed to be an homage or a middle finger to that oddball outlier of the franchise. But people can watch and decide for themselves, I suppose. Probably a better question for the filmmakers.

There's also an angry mob portion of the film that - you know, now that I think about it, a lot of the film is taken up with this storyline. Maybe that's what people disliked so intently. I was fine with it though, as it's at least something new that we haven't seen in any of the Halloween films before. I think it's good for the franchise to go somewhere new. That's what a sequel should do, not just remake the same film time and again. 

There was a portion toward the end where Michael confronts the mob that kind of bugged me, cinematography/editing-wise, with them shooting it in slow motion, in kind of isolated shots highlighting specific kills, instead of letting us really see the action play out in real-time and revel in it. Makes me think of that amazing ending in CABIN IN THE WOODS when all hell breaks loose and the camera stays right on the action, pulled back so you can really see it in all its glory. I'd have preferred that here, but they got artsy with it, which is okay,I guess, it just lost some of its power that way, which is the complete opposite of what they were going for, I think.

So... is Halloween Kills a trick or a treat? 

Overall, those gripes aside, I found this to be a bit of a mixed bag. The film is enjoyable, much more so than Halloween 2018, and I will probably re-watch it sometime, which I'm not sure I'd say for the 2018 version. I do wish the trailer for Halloween Kills hadn't given away so much of the story ahead of time. For the next chapter, the supposedly final one in this team's run (I think) titled HALLOWEEN ENDS (Really? Again, best you can come up with?), please, PLEASE - use some restraint on the trailer. Really. You don't have to give away major chunks of plot in the trailer. Study some classic trailers. There's an art to effectively teasing the action and intriguing audiences yet not giving away the story. You can do it, I have faith in you. 



3 out of 5 skulls


Sunday, October 3

Saturday, September 25

Dr. Gangrene's 2021 Halloween Countdown

 Greetings fright fans!

It's almost time! My 5th annual Halloween countdown on Youtube is almost here. This year's theme is a fun one, and was viewer-suggested: Mad Scientist/Monsters Gone WILD!

 Join me on Youtube every day in October and I'll post another review of a Mad Science flick where Monsters Run Wild!

Saturday, August 21

New Midnight Syndicate CD!!

MIDNIGHT SYNDICATE RELEASES BLOODLINES MINI-ALBUM, A PREQUEL TO THE 13TH HOUR 

 CLEVELAND, Ohio, August 20, 2021 – Midnight Syndicate has just released a mini-album entitled Bloodlines. Their 14th studio album, Bloodlines is a prequel to the duo’s best-selling, haunted mansion-themed, The 13th Hour. The new release draws listeners deeper into the world of the Haverghast family, a sinister clan whose dark secrets were first introduced on the 2001 asylum-themed album, Gates of Delirium. 

Bloodlines - Midnight Syndicate - CD Cover for mp3s.jpg

 “The events that occur in Bloodlines happen before The 13th Hour, although how long before is left up to the listener,” said Edward Douglas. Gavin Goszka added, “The selections on this album expand the story of the Haverghast family. We wanted this album to flow as seamlessly as possible into The 13th Hour, while still maintaining its own distinct stylistic identity.” 

 Bloodlines comes on the heels of the band’s first live album, Live Shadows, which was released in June of this year. Beginning in September, Midnight Syndicate will bring their critically-acclaimed concert experience, Midnight Syndicate Live! Conspiracy of Shadows, back to the world famous amusement park, Cedar Point. The horror-themed multimedia concerts blending live music, theatre, and film will run from September 17 through October 31 at the park’s HalloWeekends event. The band has hinted that another major announcement will be coming soon. 

Buy or listen to Bloodlines: https://midnightsyndicate.fanlink.to/bloodlines 
Watch the album trailer: https://midnightsyndicate.fanlink.to/f4xM 
Midnight Syndicate official website: www.MidnightSyndicate.com 

Bloodlines Band Photo.jpg

 Midnight Syndicate Midnight Syndicate is synonymous with haunting themes, gothic soundtracks and musical storytelling at its most evocative. If you’ve visited a haunted attraction or amusement park around the world during the Halloween season, or simply enjoyed a night of trick-or-treating in your neighborhood, chances are you’ve heard their music. Since 1997, dark music pioneers Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka have been entertaining fans of Halloween, gothic music, haunted attractions, horror cinema, video games, and roleplaying games with their soundtracks to imaginary films. Featuring a signature blend of orchestral music and sound effects, Midnight Syndicate’s fourteen studio albums, along with their independent film, The Dead Matter, and several film scores, have earned them a worldwide following with combined sales now approaching 800,000 physical and digital units. In 2003, the band was approached to produce the first official soundtrack to the seminal roleplaying game, Dungeons & Dragons. Their success has led them to collaborations with Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends, and Grandin Road, along with being featured in television shows, HSN, SiriusXM’s Scream Radio, video games, King Diamond tours, a Misfits live album, releases by major horrorcore artists, and even Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion private Halloween parties. In 2014, the band began producing Midnight Syndicate Live!, a series of horror-themed multimedia concerts which continue to enjoy successful runs at Cedar Point’s annual HalloWeekends event. The 13th Hour Released in 2005, 

The 13th Hour is one of Midnight Syndicate’s most popular and iconic albums. Set in the haunted Haverghast family mansion, The 13th Hour takes listeners on a musical journey into a sinister supernatural world which highlights the band’s unique orchestral stylings and sound effects. Used in haunted attractions and amusement parks worldwide, The 13th Hour was also the first album to receive an Origins Awar Award from the Academy of Adventure Game Art & Design, as well as the first to receive an ENnie from the popular fan-based awards show in the roleplaying game industry.

Monday, May 3

I am Honored!


 I just found out that my interview with Bruce Campbell in Scary Monsters Memories #116 won a Rondo Award for Best Interview! I am truly honored, and very surprised! I didn't campaign at all this year, just mentioned it once on the social media sites. It was a blast talking with Bruce - this one was actually the idea of the Scary Monsters editors, Don and Vicki Smeraldi, who asked me to try and interview him. It turned out really well and my favorite fact from the interview is that Sam Raimi once sent a short film to the horror host The Ghoul - which he played on the air!!

Again - Thank you to everyone who voted for this interview, thank you to Scary Monsters for the space to write it. Long live the Rondos.




Tuesday, February 16

Vengeance Cops

Not every movie I watch is a horror film, and that's certainly been true lately. I've been on an Italian crime binge lately. One of the recent ones I watched in that genre was Vengeance Cops (1971).  

Vengeance Cops is an Interesting little cop film with a great title and some suspenseful moments, including the car chases, one of which takes place in a drive-in movie theater! 




I love when drive-ins pop up in movies! IMDB lists the country of origin on this one as South Africa. Apparently drive-ins were big in South Africa at one point, so that makes sense. This particular one might have been a 5-screener too, as they pull into one lot with a big 5 at the sign of the lot entrance. There is also a blurry shot of what I think is the main marquee as they enter the drive-in, but I couldn't make it out. 



I'd love to know the name of this drive-in where this was shot. I doubt it's still around but would be good to know some more details about it. It was concreted and had the humps for cars to angle toward the screen as well as speakers on poles - they did it up right! Vengeance Cops was a fun little Saturday afternoon action flick. I watched it on Amazon Prime.