Friday, July 24, 2015

Die, Monster, Die! (1965)

Die, Monster, Die! (1965), dir. Daniel Haller, Alta Vista Film Productions

With the Haunted Palace bringing in money, another Lovecraft tale seemed as inevitable as the tide. Going with the 1927 tale "the Colour Out of Space", this one would feature horror legend Boris Karloff.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Beware the Batman: Darkness

"Darkness" Beware the Batman, Cartoon Network, 10 August 2014

Back again and here's another Batman

Brief recap from previous episodes, namely that Batman went toe to toe with Ra's al Ghul and lost utterly. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Haunted Palace (1963)

The Haunted Palace (1963), dir. Roger Corman, American International Pictures

While we've finished with the cinematic works of Robert E. Howard, I felt we could switch the focus to one of Howard's closest friends, namely H.P.  (Howard Phillip) Lovecraft. Lovecraft's stories were of a different thread than Howard's works. Lovecraft's mythos told of dark inhuman and utterly alien things that mankind could never hope to truly defeat.

It seems that making a film based on his works would be difficult if not outright impossible. Filming something that couldn't be imagined by the human mind is a tall order even for the most talented director. So, for Lovecraft's first foray into motion pictures, Roger Corman presented it as a story based on Edgar Allan Poe, and the script was based on one of Lovecraft's stories that dealt with something a bit easier to imagine, namely "the Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward"; even with the tweaks to the original script it ties it more into Lovecraft's better known Cthulhu Mythos. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Solomon Kane (2009)

Solomon Kane (2009), dir. Michael J. Bassett, Davis Films

Here we reach the end of Robert E. Howard's cinematic endeavors. Released before the 2011 Conan film, but not reaching the US until 2012 (when I found it on cable), Solomon Kane was one of Howard's lesser known characters. A Puritan, Kane also traveled the globe fighting monsters of both the human and inhuman ilk. First appearing in "Red Shadows" (August 1928), Kane's literary career was shorter than Conan but I found his stories in many ways to be richer. Conan was often just motivated by revenge or greed in his stories, but Kane often fought because he felt compelled.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Conan the Barbarian (2011), dir. Marcus Nispell, Nu Images Films/Millennium Films/Paradox Entertainment

Fourteen years after Kull came and went, another attempt was made. This time it was decreed that the original flavor was what the public wanted, so it was decided that it would be Conan's sandal-ed feet to stride across the celluloid map. New star, new director, and a wholly new approach. What could possibly go wrong?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Kull the Conqueror (1997)

Kull the Conqueror (1997), dir. John Nicolella, Raffaella de Laurentiis Productions/Korsala Productions

Back in the 1990's, there was an explosion of fantasy on television. While mostly in syndication, viewers could still watch Hercules, Sinbad, Robin Hood, and many more all flying around on wires. Even Conan came back, albeit with a lesser budget than the other mentioned properties.

That's when it was decreed that the time was perfect for another Conan film. Titled Conan the Conqueror, it would have been the long mentioned revealing on how Conan became a king. At least that's what was supposed to happen; thanks to changing budgets and a much larger star (Arnold had pretty much become a household word by this point) the de Laurentiis group decided to go with another Howard character. One name change later and Conan became Kull.

Who is Kull you ask? In many ways he's the prototype of Conan. He was a man of many titles; slave, pirate, warrior, and finally king. An unpublished tale in Howard's lifetime, "By this Axe I Rule", told the story of Kull. Howard also rewrote it to create "the Phoenix on the Sword", the first Conan story. So it seemed fitting that a reworked Conan script would became Kull's debut.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Red Sonja (1985)

Red Sonja (1985), dir. Richard Fleischer, Dino de Laurentiis Company.

Sometimes you can actually see the wheels falling off. After Conan the Destroyer made money, although few decent reviews, the de Laurentiis group decided to rush another film out. Rather than telling another Conan tale, they decided to focus on the first Marvel spin-off of the property, Red Sonja.

Howard's character; who first appeared in "the Shadows of the Vulture" (1934), wasn't a contemporary of Conan, however. She was a sword for hire with the name 'Red' Sonya of Rogatino who battled the armies of Suleiman the Magnificent during the 1529 Siege of Vienna. Roy Thomas and Barry Smith took the character and transported her into the Hyborian Age, as well as changing most of her back-story.

That last point was (and still is) a sore point with a few Howard scholars. The film treated Sonja much like Conan, but problems still persisted.