Wizards (1977)


Though there were a few examples in earlier decades, the 1970s is the decade when animation grew up.  Movies like Watership Down, The Last Unicorn, and Castle of Cagliostro brought animation out of the realm of kid’s stuff and into the world of PG (and R) rated movies.  Spurred on by the popularity of adult underground comics by people like Robert Crumb and the importation of Japanese anime, more and more adult animated movies began appearing in theaters until it’s zenith with Heavy Metal in 1980.  But before that director/ animator Ralph Bakshi made quite a few adult animated movies, starting off with Fritz the Cat and following it up with several urban adult animated movies (even earning an X rating on a couple).  By 1977, he wanted to make an adult animated fantasy film and developed War Wizards at Fox.

The story tells of a post apocalyptic future in which the Earth was destroyed by nuclear war and covered in radiation for thousands of years.  What was left of mankind either became mutants or evolved into elves, dwarves, and fairies.  Into this was born two children- Avatar, a good elf; and Blackwolf, an evil mutant.  Blackwolf was banished to Scortch, a poisoned wasteland where he gathered other mutants to him and studied black magic, eventually raising an army of demons from hell to join him and his minions.
Still, his evil army could not defeat the elves and fairies, until he discovered a secret weapon.  Technology (which had been banned for thousands of years, because it had destroyed the Earth) and in particular an old film projector, which he infused with his magic to call upon the images of an evil from the far distant past to help him defeat the legions of good.

Avatar sets out on a quest with an elf prince, a fairy princess, and a robot to stop Blackwolf from defeating the forces of good permanently.

The movie starts out with narration by an uncredited Susan Tyrell (Andy Warhol’s Bad, The Forbidden Zone, Flesh + Blood) who later lamented that she wished she had not been uncredited.  Mark Hamill also does the voice of a fairy (and Bakshi actually changed the name of the movie from War Wizards to just Wizards at George Lucas’ suggestion because he let Hamill off filming Star Wars for a few days to do the voice acting), and Bakshi himself does several voices.

Somewhere in the midst of making it, he ran out of money, and Fox would not give him more.  He then started pouring his own money into the project, and in order to keep the costs down he used rotoscoping (in which an animator uses photos or film cels and paints over them).  He painted over several scenes from old movies such as Zulu and The Battle of the Bulge to get the dynamoc battle scenes he wanted, and combined that with more conventional animation.  The effect is pretty original looking, and mildly creepy at times (with the armies of hell descending on the good guys in rotoscoped semi-realism).
The backgrounds are beautiful, and several scenes (especially at the beginning of the movie) are still shots of paintings, which make the movie feel like you are watching a living comic book in places.  He used two different background artists (including Marvel Comics’ Mike Ploog) to create the feel of the gloomy and dark radiation-filled land of Scortch and the bright, magical land of Montagar.


The movie makes a lot of veiled commentary on things like war, technology, propaganda, and religion (which Bakshi apparently considers silly and unhelpful in any way), and is a very strange mix of mildly sleazy and creepy adult scenes and more whimsical and absurd (even goofy) kid-friendly themes and parts (Bakshi actually considered this his first “family picture”).
I really enjoy the offbeat jazzy and mildly psychedelic background music which gives it an otherworldly feel (70’s movies are filled with Moog synths, which make them sound uniquely ’70s, and this one is no exception).
It has been released on both dvd and blu ray with Bakshi commentary, and is definitely worth seeking out for fans of animation, fantasy, or weird ’70s movies.


Bits & Pieces ‘zine #8



Bits & Pieces was a well written ‘zine that always left you asking for more (which was pretty typical back then, esp with ‘zines that had little to no advertisements- one thing you could say about most fanzines is they were pretty short).  What it lacked in length it made up for in quality-  most every article they printed was a winner.  This issue features an old article on what horror movies first scared various writers (including editors of other fanzines such as Midnight Marquee , ecco , and the fairly new Weng’s Chop (which has a similar article in their newest issue, on the stands now)).
Here’s a good chunk of this issue from 1993 for you to enjoy:

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The Monkey’s Paw (2014)


The story of the Monkey’s Paw has been adapted so many times, one might ask why bother?  If someone told me they were making a new version of it, that’s probably what I would say to them.  But when I walked by it in the video store today, I immediately grabbed it without a second thought.  I suppose it’s because of all the charmless, uninspired modern horror movies that line the shelves, seeing an old friend, even in a new version (just released on disk today, after an extremely limited theatrical run in October 2013), was appealing.

The original story was written by W. W. Jacobs in 1902 and became a big hit. There actually haven’t been that many straight filmatic versions of it, however it’s themes have been coped ad nauseum in many different mediums- movies (Leprechaun, Wishmaster), books (Richard Matheson’s Button, Button), and tv shows from the Twilight Zone to The Simpsons. I was hoping for a newly made sumptiously filmed period piece with lots of creepy atmosphere and an old fashioned chilling plot without all the false grandeur and jump scares of modern horror. What I got was not what I wanted, but still not what I was dreading either (a typical, soulless and predictable modern horror movie).

As old and quaint as the original Jacobs story is, it’s still fairly creepy. In it, a couple (the Whites) are entertaining a friend who tells them of his monkey’s paw, a charm he got in India which grants three wishes.  The wishes, however, are cursed to show that fate rules people’s lives, and that those who interfere with it do so to their sorrow. The couple wish for money, which they receive from their son’s insurance policy when he is crushed by heavy machinery at his job. Then they wish for him to be alive, but he returns from the grave as is, mangled and zombified.
The movie uses the original story as a starting point.  Most of it is set in modern day Louisiana and involves several workers in a factory.  The supervisor (Daniel Hugh Kelly of Cujo) is fired because of the laziness of some of the other workers. As it turns out, he was the Whites’ other son, and has carried the monkey’s paw around with him ever since the incident with his undead brother (who in this movie, evidently killed his parents). When his foreman Jake tries to apologize to him for his part in the firing, he gives Jake the monkey’s paw and convinces him to make a wish on it. It all goes predictably downhill from there.


Director Brett Simmons made a movie called Husk that I watched a few years ago and had completely forgotten about until I looked him up after watching The Monkey’s Paw to see what else he had done.  Husk was competently made and had some interesting ideas, but the execution was bland and the pacing pretty slow.  Overall it was forgettable (which is hard to do with a movie about killer scarecrows possessing people).  The Monkey’s Paw is an improvement in looks- the cinematography is pretty inspired (and benefits quite a bit by being filmed on location in New Orleans) and saves the film from being completely mediocre.  The direction is still just workman like and not too phenomenal.  This could actually be a TV movie.  It has that feel to it, complete with commercial break points and very little gore or nudity.  Made for TV movies just have a certain atmosphere to them, and this one has it in spades.  Having said that, if this was made for TV it’s better than the average TV movie, more along the lines of Dark Night of the Scarecrow in feel and tone than the average 2 hour time waster.  The characters are decent and the acting pretty well done (it includes the reliable Charles Dutton as a cop (per his usual); and Stephen Lang, who played a generic evil army commander in Avatar, stands out as the ill-fated redneck Cobb), but still this is a fairly forgettable effort.
It’s competent, and might be worth a rental to fans of the original story, but it’s slow pace and lack of many thrills will likely grow tiresome to a lot of horror fans.
My fav Monkey’s Paw adaptation is still the one from The Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror (Halloween special) #2:

Godvomit ‘zine #4

At this point, having already put up issues 1 – 3, I shouldn’t have to say that Godvomit should not only not be viewed by children, but probably by anyone.  This issue was probably the most over-the-top stupidly offensive in every way (everything from purposeful grammar Nazi baiting to a  Michael Diana cartoon), however in 1991 and 1992 (when it was produced and released) there wasn’t that much subversive, shock-to-the-system art coming out (that movement was just starting and gaining speed in more than the underground, where it had been going strong for awhile) and offending pretty society was a priority.  Don’t take it too seriously.

Also, several pages of this issue were damaged- the original cover was damaged beyond repair, so a preliminary sketch of the cover is printed here.  Also the Schismopathic interview is damaged beyond repair.  Everything else was fixable.  Enjoy…


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Monster Island (The Mythology of Godzilla)


A new American version of Godzilla is coming out on May 16, and I can’t be more excited!  Despite past Americanized versions of big G being horrendous, this one looks to be pretty awesome.  It’s directed by Gareth Edwards, who did a thoughtful movie about monsters and aliens a few years back that, tho a bit threadbare, was enjoyable.
The thing that has really intrigued me is that there will be other monsters in this new movie besides Godzilla.  A look at the latest trailor reveals a fairly Mothra looking creature flying, however we have been told that Godzilla is the only Toho Studios monster to appear in this outing (tho there have also been reports that the Mothra Twins have been spotted in it).  One new monster is named Muto, and is very slick looking and space-agy (more like a Gamera enemy, really), and I assume the other is the flying monster seen in the trailors.  Only time will tell if this new Godzilla movie and his new enemies will be any good (here’s to hoping), but I wanted to take this time to focus on some of Godzilla’s past monster friends and enemies in the mythos of Toho Studios.

I’m going to skip most of the bigger monsters most people know such as Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidorah, and focus on some of the lesser-known monsters.  I’m also only concentrating on the Showa era mythology (IE: Godzilla movies from 1954 (Gojira) to 1975 (Terror of Mechagodzilla).

King Caesar

The Legend of the Shisa is an Okinawan story about a king who summoned a monster who looked like a hybrid between and lion and a dog to defeat a sea serpent.  Many Japanese decorations use the image of the Shisa as a good luck charm to protect their household.  Toho was inspired by the story of the Shisa to create King Caesar (also known as King Shisa and King Seesar) for their 1974 film Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (also known as Godzilla Vs. the Bionic Monster and, after the producers of the Six Million Dollar Man threatened to sue, Godzilla Vs. the Cosmic Monster).
King Caesar is the protector of the Azumi family, and could be awakened by a mystical song.  He arose to help Godzilla defeat Mechagodzilla.


Gigan is a cyborg created by the Nebula M aliens (who turn out to be giant cockroaches).  He is one of Godzilla’s most vicious foes, and has a buzzsaw on his stomach and hooks for hands.  The aliens use him in conjunction with King Ghidorah to destroy human civilization and colonize the earth in 1972’s Godzilla Vs. Gigan (tho they are defeated by Godzilla and Anguirus).  He returns in Godzilla Vs. Megalon to fight Godzilla and Jet Jaguar, but doesn’t return again until some of the newer Toho Godzilla films.


Gabara only appeared in one single Godzilla film- All Monsters Attack! (1969), which is unique in that it is unclear if he even exists, because the entire movie is a dream.  Ichiro is a boy who is routinely bullied and daydreams about living on Monster Island and being friends with Godzilla’s son Minilla.  Minilla is also tormented by a bully, the cat-like Gabara (who can channel electricity through his hands).  Despite being one of the worst Godzilla films (even tho it was directed by Ishiro Honda himself), Gabara is one of the coolest kaiju, probably inspired by a Japanese monster of folklore called an Oni (kind of a trollish type of creature).  I wish he’d appeared in more Godzilla films.


Also known as Angilas, he is the second monster to ever appear in a Godzilla film (after Godzilla himself), in Godzilla Raids Again (aka Gigantis the Fire Monster) (1955).  He is a mutated ankylosaurus who gets his start fighting Godzilla.  He later helps Godzilla fight other monsters such as Gigan and King Ghidorah.He is also the only monster shown talking to Godzilla in a language humans can understand (in a word balloon in the original Japanese version, and in an English overdub in the English version). 


Megalon is another monster who only appeared in one Godzilla film, Godzilla Vs. Megalon (1973), in which a colony of undersea dwellers (called the Seatopians) summon him to attack the surface dwellers of Earth for disrupting their lives with nuclear testing.  Megalon is an insect-like monster with a lot of powers, including the ability to shoot beams from his antennae and spit explosive bombs out of his mouth.  He and Gigan are eventually defeated by Godzilla and the giant robot Jet Jaguar.


Manda is a gigantic dragon-esque sea serpent who actually did not get his start in a Godzilla film.  Atragon (which was also put out by Toho studios and directed by Ishiro Honda) was a very Jules Verne influenced film about a submarine (named Atrigon).  Manda appeared in it, but was later brought into the Godzilla fold when he attacks London in 1968’s Destroy All Monsters.  He’s had brief appearances in a couple of Godzilla films since then.


Varan also got his start in a non-Godzilla movie, Varan, the Unbelievable (1958). In it, he is a god worshiped by a mountain village.  He attacks Tokyo (of course) but is dispatched.  He shows up again in Destroy All Monsters helping to fight King Ghidorah, and it is revealed he lives on Monster Island with the other kaiju.  He also appeared in a lot of Godzilla video games.

This leaves out a few more less popular monsters such as Minilla (Godzilla’s son), Titanosaurus (a water-dwelling dinosaur-like monster with a tail that could create powerful winds), Hedorah (aka the Smog Monster), Baragon (who also got his start in a different Toho series than Godzilla), and the various giant insects, arachnids, and animals  that Godzilla has fought over the years.  But the above are some of the most interesting and my favorites of Godzilla’s lesser-known rogues gallery.
I read an interview with Gareth Edwards that says that if this new Godzilla film is popular, he wants to do a new version of Destroy All Monsters! next, which would be awesome.  Here’s to Godzilla being back on the big screen!

Weng’s Chop #5


“Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human numer.  It’s number is Weng’s Chop 5”. -heavy metal song intro

“That’s no moon… that’s Weng’s Chop 5!” -space opera wizard characture

Wing’s Chop #5 is here, and it’s a monster!  This is not a ‘zine, it’s a book.  265 pages (an inch thick and magazine sized) full of horror/ gore/ exploitation/ sleaze/ trash/ sci-fi/ grindhouse/ drive-in/ underground and low budget film from all over the world and all eras.

Full of writing from people who know their shit, which includes a lot of editors of the very ‘zines that we have been spotlighting here on P.M.T. as well as tons of writers who have been published in other ‘zines and specialty film blogs (and have even written and published books) for decades.
There’s an  article on jungle movies (specifically the ‘jungle woman’ type of jungle movies- future issues are to focus on Tarzan rip-offs and men in ape suit jungle movies) by Steve Fenton (who published one of my fav old horror/ sleaze ‘zines Killbaby), several articles on film festivals (including one on the Exhumed Films 24 Hour Horrorthon by Dan Taylor of Exploitation Retropspect), one on Jiangshi (hopping vampires) by Brian Harris (who has written for tons of ‘zines and several books, and who is co-editor of Weng’s Chop), and quite a few more (some other subjects of articles, which are all in depth and more than a page or two long, are Manos: The Hands of Fate, Filipino vigilante action films, porn director Bob Chinn’s Johnny Wad films, several different thoughts and reviews of I Spit On Your Grave and it’s remake and the remake’s sequel, reminiscences about 3 old sci-fi films by Stephen Bissette, articles on Asian, Mexican ,and Indian horror and exploitation films, several interviews (including one with John Alan Schwartz (director and co-creator of the Faces of Death movies, telling what parts are real and which are ‘re-enactments’, among other things), and reviews.  Oh man the reviews- I haven’t counted them but it would take you years to watch all the movies reviewed in this (including tons of obscurities, all very well written).  Reviewers include the above mentioned Steve Fenton and Brian Harris as well as Tim Paxton, Jeff Goodhartz, Tim Merrill, and many more.  Also reviewed are books and printed matter (including an out-of-print section).

It all ends with all the writers of the magazine plus a bunch of filmmakers and other people of interest giving lists of their favorite movies from last year, and an exploitation movie crossword puzzle.

This is like 4 magazines crammed into one, and costs just slightly more than a single issue of Fangoria.
You can get your copy (and see a few more sample pages) here, or you can order them at some retail outlets and book stores (I know Hastings can get them).

They come in 3 different covers to chose from (I got the jungle goddess cover, pictured above, but you can also get the machete nuns cover or the Jiangshi cover)…

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Sheer Filth ‘zine #8



Sheer Filth was a great digest sized sleaze/ trash/ exploitation/ grindhouse ‘zine (with an emphasis on sleaze)by David Flint (who went on to put out some books on these subjects).  This issue features an interview with David Friedman and tons of reviews (of books, music, films and performances).  Here are some pages from issue #8:

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UPDATE:  Evidently every issue of Sheer Filth has been collected in a book!  It’s pressed in the U.K. (by FAb Press) but you can get it from Amazon here

Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1


Class of Nuke ‘Em High was never one of my fav Troma films.  I liked it well enough, but it didn’t fit into my topmost favs (even just of Troma films).  I saw part 2 (Subhumanoid Melrdown) which wasn’t too good, and I never saw part 3 (The Good, The Bad, and The Subhumanoid), which I heard was bad.
I was pretty excited to see that they were making a new one, tho- I enjoyed their last film (Poultygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead) which came out 8 years ago, and I was ready for some new Troma guts and insanity.
I used to be a huge Troma fan- I loved their movies like the Toxic Avenger, Troma’s War and Tromeo and Juliet as well as movies they sponsored (Street Trash and Redneck Zombies being two of my most favs).  The mix of slapstick and gore and over-the-top craziness really appealed to me.  Not everything they did was fantastic, but enough of it was (and even the stuff that wasn’t could at least not be called boring) that I’ve always been excited to see a new film by them.
I got to meet Lloyd Kaufman (producer, director, and actor of movies such as those listed above as well as countless others from Big Ass Spider! to, errr, Rocky) at a horror convention in 2009, and he was really cool and friendly, so that’s always a plus (truthfully, I’ve rarely met a horror personality who was a prick, but I’ve heard stories).
So I hate to say it, but I was a bit disappointed in Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1.

The story starts out with narration explaining the back story (pretty much the story of Class of Nuke ‘Em High with a slight mention of parts 2 and 3, narrated by Stan Lee no less!), in which the Tromaville nuclear power plant’s improperly disposed of waste mutated a bunch of students into subhumans.  Now, many years later, an organic food processing plant was built on the ruins of the old nuclear power plant, and the owner (played by Lloyd Kaufman himself) is trying to get his food (which is also contaminated) into the local high school.
Meanwhile, at said school, new girl Lauren has moved into town.  She is met with hostility by the school’s local activist blogger Chrissy (who doesn’t like her because she’s rich), but they soon find that they are attracted to each other.
Trouble arises when the Glee Club (who were previously nerds) eat some contaminated tacos and mutate into a dangerous gang of punk psychopaths called The Cretins, and begin terrorizing the city.  Our two heroines must team up to defeat the Cretins and stop the food plant from doing the same thing to the whole country.
Features cameos by Lemmy, Debbie Rochon and Toxie as well as Rick Collins (who has been in all of the Nuke ‘Em High movies, as well as all the Toxic Avenger movies and a lot of other Troma films) as an ill fated science teacher showing off the laser from the first film.

The movie is not bad, and features all the sleaze, slapstick, gore, humor, and over-the-top insanity that Troma is known for.  It’s just that in this one, it all feels a bit forced.  Like they’re trying hard to capture something that should come naturally.  Most of the actors overact horribly all of the time.  In a Troma movie, bad acting and overacting is expected.  All their past movies have had it in spades, but it just doesn’t hit the right notes in this one (you can’t act over-the-top in the red for every scene- there’s times that it needs to be toned down, or it just looks awkward and forced).  It doesn’t always work in this one like it has in the past.  Besides the acting, some of the humor and slapstick seems forced as well.  You can’t really manufacture zaniness- it has to come naturally from the storyline.  Absurdity works best when not shoehorned in hamfistedly.  So tho this stuff works in this movie some of the time, other times it comes off more like those awful Aaron Seltzer/ Jason Friedberg parody movies (Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans, etc.)- trying too hard to be funny and zany, but not pulling it off.

The stuff that works, however, is great.  There are several classic Troma type clever, messed up and over-the-top scenes and situations.  I just wish the whole movie was like that.  I think the problem is that it was rushed- it seems that way.  If they could have taken just a little more time to flesh out some of the jokes, some of the slapstick and set ups.  Had a few of their actors bring it down a notch in some scenes (tho other actors do very well- there is an extra on the DVD going over the casting of it, and they used 99% amateur actors they found at drama classes and Hollywood extras, so I guess you get what you pay for.  Both of the leads do a good job, at least).

It ends on a cliffhanger, and there’s going to be a part 2, so hopefully it will be better.  As it stands this one is good for a rental or two, but I wouldn’t buy it.

Steve Albini interview from 1994

Here is a great interview with Steve Albini (BIG BLACK, RAPEMAN, SHELLAC) who’s opinions on music and promotion and art I have always admired.  He’s produced so many releases by so many bands (both huge and extremely underground) and is so opinionated that it’s always entertaining and informative to hear what he has to say.

This interview is from an old ‘zine called Under The Volcano which focused mostly on punk and pop punk, but also had a large dose of other forms of early ’90s music and culture (Am Rep, grunge, indie rock, shoegaze, industrial, etc.).  For some reason I only have a small chunk of this particular issue (the rest got torn off and thrown away I guess), but at least it included this interview, from issue #20 (June 1994).  Enjoy…

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The original Texas Chain Saw Massacre restored and returning to theaters this summer



It appears that the restoration of the original 1973 Texas Chain Saw Massacre that was planned for a re-release in 2013 has finally been completed (just in time for it’s 40th anniversary).  The restoration evidently took far longer than anticipated, as they used the original 16 mm film rolls which were saturated with scratches, chemical stains, tears, dirt, and glue splices that all had to be painstakingly repaired and color corrected, frame by frame.

It also features a newly remastered 7.1 soundtrack overseen by director (and composer) Tobe Hooper.

It was completed in time to be screened at South By Southwest in Autin on March 10th, then receive a theatrical re-release in summer 2014.tcm4

We here at Post Modern Trashaeology  consider it to be one of the greatest and definitely one of our top 5 most favorite horror movies of all time, so we eagerly await it’s arrival (tho we wonder if digitizing it and taking all of the grit off will make it lose some of it’s charm and actual ‘this could be real’ amateur feel).
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A dvd and blu ray rerelease are expected as well…