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The Lightning Bug

The Lightning Bug is the Boss Man of the Moon. When he’s not teaching people how to talk like him (“reaaaal sexy”) or taking his flying wing out for a spin, he enjoys watching and reviewing all kinds of cult, exploitation, sci fi, b-movies, and horror goodness to bring to the people of Earth. New reviews come out every couple of days so check back early and often.

From the Desk of T.L. Bugg

My thoughts about movies can’t be contained by a brief profile. Legend has it they are bigger than a breadbox, and four times as dangerous, and with a better beard than George Eastman. Ok, that last part is not true… Here’s what is true. Five days a week. One year running. Reviews at your service. Thanks for visiting the Lightning Bug’s Lair.

-T.L Bugg
Greenville, South Carolina, United States

Reviews

Turkey Thursday:The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976)

When I first looked up the IMDB page for Charles Pierce I was quite impressed. I scanned down the role of credits Coffe, Black Belt Jones, and The Outlaw Josey Wales among them, but then I noticed that those credits were for set decorating. Needless to say even though all three of those movies have a great and very specific look, I had never taken a long look at the sets. I skimmed down and saw he did have some other directing credits including the beast flick, The Legend of Boggy River. I wish that were the film we were here to discuss tonight, but instead we're going to learn a lesson in why I dread voice over as badly as... The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976) starring Ben Johnson, Andrew Prine, Dawn Wells, and Charles Pierce. Directed by Charles Pierce. It's the spring of 1946, and life is as peaceful as can be in Texarkana, Arkansas. That is until the night in March when a couple are found after being beaten on a lover's lane. Their white hooded attacker had all but killed them, and the peace of the town was shattered. Slowly over the next month things got back to normal, but 21 days later the attacker struck again. This time he killed the young man and woman. Deputy Norman Ramsey (Prine) almost caught him that night, but the killer managed to slip away. With fear gripping the community legendary Texas Ranger Captain J.D. Morales (Johnson) is called in to assist on the case. Three weeks to the day after the last killing, they set up decoys to ensnare the killer. They stock cars on lover's lanes and lonely roads with undercover cops posing as guys and their dates. The killer finds another set of victims instead, a ...
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The King of Wilmington – Maximum Overdrive (1986): Uncle Stevie Grinds The Gears

When a movie kicks off with an ATM machine telling the director he’s an asshole, that‘s a dangerous statement to make. This is especially true if the first time director in question is coked out of his mind and promised in the trailer to “scare the hell out of you”. This is doubly true if you’re Stephen King and after famously pooh poohing Stanley Kubrick’s vision of The Shining, you also say in the trailer, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” On Dino De Laurentiis dime, the King of Horror went to Wilmington,  North Carolina to make good on his promise. There he brought to the screen his short story “Trucks” in the form of Maximum Overdrive, a movie that has been reviled and derided over the years.  While it undoubtedly caused many in the audience (and in the production for that matter) to agree with the ATM machine on the director’s character, today I am happy to be talking about Maximum Overdrive in this second installment of The King of Wilmington. As a strange comet envelops the Earth’s skies with a greenish haze, machines everywhere decide they’re done doing what we tell them too. For the patrons and employees of The Dixie Boy truck stop that means dealing with rogue electric knives in the diner, impertinent gas pumps, and worst yet runaway 18 wheelers. Parolee Bill Robinson (Emilio Estevez) works as the short order cook at the diner, but when the machines start to rebel, Bill is the only one brave enough to fight back.  Despite the protestations of his boss, the surly Mr. Hendershot (Pat Hingle), Bill inspires the truck stop staff, newlyweds Connie (Yeardley Smith) and Carl (John Short), and hitchhiker (Laura Harrington) to band together armed with Mr. Hendershot’s private cache of weapons ...
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Chromeskull: Laid to Rest II: The Horrorhound Weekend Report

Hello all! Day One of Horrorhound Weekend is already behind me, and I already have things to report. Apart from getting to meet up with some folks (including Emily from The Deadly Doll’s House, The NOTLP crew, the Bloody Good Horror folks, Grey from The Dark Hours Podcast, Mike from Cadaver Lab, and many more), I also got a chance to take in one of the day’s panels for Laid to Rest II. With director Robert Hall, Chromeskull Nick Principe, and Laid to Rest II star Angela Armani in attendance, the assembled crowd was given a first look at the teaser trailer as well as a couple of scenes. Laid to Rest II, shot in 19 days down from the original’s 24, picks up right where the action of Laid to Rest left off. If anyone remembers what state the sequel’s titular character was in at the end of the last movie, you might imagine that Chromeskull is feeling pretty put out about it. Getting back to his killing weight and to continue his reign of terror, Laid to Rest II promises to clear up some of Chromeskull’s origins (it appears he’s working for some kind of secret organization), but leave the viewer with more questions and more thoroughly satisfying and gory kills. Principe How many gory kills? Nick Principe stated there were three times more deaths than the first film, and Hall echoed that sentiment stating that Chromeskull: Laid to Rest II is “chock full of f**king violence”.  From the kill I got to see featuring a girl getting half her face sliced off with Chromeskull‘s, they’re just as gory as last time. That kill by the way was what Nick Principe referred to as his third favorite, and if that came in third then I can’t wait to see ...
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Enzo Castellari’s The Heroin Busters (1977)

It’s Monday folks and as usual I’m diggin’ in The Grab Bag once again. Seeing as Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds release is getting closer, I thought I’d sit down and take a look at the film Castellari put out directly before his original film Inglorious Bastards. If it was made today, people would say Enzo was ripping off Quentin, but all he did was merely make a film that fans of genre film like me, and you, and Quentin Tarantino can get our Politzia fix from. And that’s the strongest thing we should touch too, because you learn quite well that you don’t want to cross… The Heroin Busters [Italian: Vie della droga, La] (1977) starring Fabio Testi, David Hemmings, Wolfangle Soldati, Sherry Buchanan, Directed by Enzo Castellari. The drug trade has spread all over the world, and Mike Hamilton of INTERPOL is determined to put a stop to it.  He's working with an undercover cop played by Fabio Testi whose name we never learn. The back of his jacket is emblazoned with the name 'Matt', but he is never called by that name, and in the credits to the film he is listed as playing Fabio. So, Testi himself has gone into deep cover in the drug trade, and he gets pulled into Hamilton's investigation when zealous customs officials bust Fabio but let a big time dealer through. When the cops do manage to get on the right target, the drug runner outsmarts them and gets away with the goods. After setting all of this kick ass action premise up, Castellari took a moment to include a little after school special into the film. We see some young teens try to buy some junk from Wolfgangle Soldati's character Gilo. Right in front of the impressionable duo, Gilo gets jumped and savagely beaten.  That's taking ...
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B.L.O.G Presents: Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1972)

Today's B.L.O.G. (Beautiful Lady of Genre, if you've forgotten.) is one of the best actresses in the realm of Asian exploitation cinema. In the late 60's she got her start in martial arts and crime pictures before landing the lead role in Nikkatsu studios in the film Female Juvenile Delinquent Leader: Stray Cat Rock (1970). She would go on to make four more pictures in that series. Then, as Nikkatsu began to make more harder edged Pink Film, she moved to Toei studios where she made tonight's film, and it's three sequels. If you know who I'm talking about then you know what a treat tonight's film is, and if you don't know then let me introduce you to... That's right Meiko Kaji. She's already a Lair favorite from when she knocked the Bug's socks off with her hard edge turn as a woman of unstoppable vengeance in Lady Snowblood (1973).However, tonight we're looking at another of her other iconic characters. This is a flick that features art house lightning and directing, even though it's a women in prison movie. It goes deep with camera angles, mobile sets, and symbolism, but it also pays off with sex, violence, and torture, the WIP mainstays. So it is my great honor to bring to you Meiko Kaji and her film... Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1972) starring Meiko Kaji, Rie Yokoyama, Fumio Wantanabe, and Isao Natsuyagi. Directed by Shunya Ito. During a ceremony where the Warden (Wantanabe) is to receive a commendation for his jail, Nami Matsushima (Kaji), known as Matsu to her fellow inmates, tries to make a break for it. She is captured, and having raised the ire of the Warden she is thrown into solitary confinement. While confined she is tortured by the matron who brings her food, and she has ...
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Hitch on the Hump: Frenzy (1972)

Welcome back to another installment of Hitch on the Hump. I know it has been quite some time since the last appearance of the Master of Suspense, but now he’s back and I’m ready to resume my goal of reviewing all of his films. To kick the series off again, I wanted to revisit Frenzy(1972) which I’ve reviewed here some time back, but it didn’t get the HotH treatment. I enjoy many of his films immensely, but there’s something about Frenzy that intrigues me. I’ve re-watched the film a few times since then, and I even had the good fortune to find the book that the film was based on and give that a read. Frenzy was Hitchcock’s next to last film, and it saw the master trying hard to keep up with the times. Many people have criticized the director for the results, but I find the film to be darkly comic, perverse, and full of the great cinematic moments that Hitch was known for. In the aftermath of his plodding 1969 Cuban Missile Crisis inspired film Topaz, Hitchcock sought a property that would fit more in the mold of a “Hitchcockian” film. He found what he was looking for in Arthur La Bern’s 1966 book Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square. La Bern had a proven track record as another of his novels was the basis for the 1947 film It Always Rains on Sunday, and Goodbye Piccadilly contained a wrong man plot, a dark humor, and moments that must have reminded Hitchcock of both The Lodger and Psycho. To script the film, Hitchcock wanted a writer as English as the setting and material, and so he chose writer Anthony Schaffer best known for the play (and film) Sleuth. Hitchcock and Schaffer shaped the script from the book, excising some portions ...
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Ursula Andress Undressed For Dinner

Statuesque blond beauties have been a hallmark of cinema over the years. From Jayne Mansfield to Marilyn Monroe, the camera has always loved a bombshell, but there's one scene that stands out above the rest. When Ursula Andress emerges from the Caribbean waters in the first James Bond picture, Dr. No. , a sex symbol had been born. Andress had taken the part on a lark and assumed that no one would see the movie, but instead the vision of her in the iconic white bikini has been burned into the psyche of the world's movie goers. Dr. No. was made in 1962, and by the late 1970's, Ursula's star had fallen a bit. She had yet to film her memorable 1981 performance in Clash of the Titans when she took a role in a Italian picture opposite a young Stacy Keach who himself was five years away from defining himself to the American public as Mike Hammer. Tonight we bring you that film at brought these past and future icons together. The Mountain of the Cannibal God (Montagna del diocannibale) starring Ursula Andress, Stacy Keach, and Claudio Cassinelli. Directed by Sergio Martino. As the film opens we are introduced to Susan Stephenson (Andress), as she travels to New Guinea in search of her lost husband Henry. She is accompanied by her brother Arthur (Antonio Marsina who reminded me of Jude Law quite a lot in this film.). They are sent to Dr. Edward Foster (Keach) to enlist his help as a guide through the jungles. He thinks that her husband was headed for the island of Roka and the mountain of Ra Ra Mi. He agrees to guide them and they set off accompanied by some natives and Foster's assistant Sura. They make it through the jungle and onto ...
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Jeepers Creepers (2001) Death Loves Johnny Mercer

Holy shazbot, this makes three days in a row, and this time I’m back with an old favorite. Sometimes with all the new flicks I want to talk about, I neglect to go back and really talk about old favorites that deserve a place on your shelf, your queue, and definitely on the Lair. I’m talking about 2001’s Jeepers Creepers, everyone’s favorite supernatural slasher film with a vague connection to a 1930’s Johnny Mercer tune. Some say that United Artists was all for the connection as they were the original rights owners of the song, but little known are the other Johnny Mercer themed slashers they intended to make after Jeepers Creepersmade big box office. The Girlfriend of the Whirling Dervish,The Lady on the Two Cent Stamp, and Hooray for Spinach all went into pre-production, but none of them ended up making it to the big screen. The world will never know what randomly thrown together plots and loose collection of powers those song-powered sadists might have contained. All we can do is appreciate what we do have and enjoy watching Jeepers Creepers. Darry and Trish (Justin Long and Gina Phillips) star as a brother and sister on their way home for spring break. Trish, in no hurry to get home and face her mother’s endless questions about her boyfriend, asks Darry to take the long way down two-lane country roads to delay their arrival. (I’m betting she never took anything that wasn’t an Interstate ever again.) After having an encounter with a rusty, aggressive truck on the road, they spot the driver dropping what looks like a human body down a shaft. Derry (being softhearted as well as softheaded) wants to go back and see if anyone needs help. Naturally, this only gets them deeper involved with “The Creeper”, a ...
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Feature Friday: Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (1985)

It's the fourth Friday this month, and we're nearing completion of our jungle adventure. Now that we've survived two waves of cannibals and escaped from the Amazons, it's time for a little spot of jungle adventure. Tonight's film takes us deep into the Amazon, the Green Hell itself, for an adventure with some laughs, some nudity, some heart rippin', and a touch of political commentary. Gather round one and all, and beware the tale of the....  Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (1985) starring Michael Sopkiw, Suzane Carvalho, Milton Morris, and Andy Silas. Directed by Michele Massiomo Tarantini.  Bone hunter Kevin Hall (Sopkiw) talks his way onto a flight into the dense jungle to a secret location known as Dinosaur Valley. Accompanied by Dr. Ibanez, his lovely daughter Eva (Carcalho), Vietnam vet Captain Heinz (Morris) , Heinz's wife Betty, and a fashion photographer with his two models. Their small plane crash lands in the wrong part of the jungle, and the pilot is killed. They set out on foot to find their way home under Captain Heinz's direction, but they soon become even more lost, and worse yet deep in cannibal country. The group is perused by the cannibals, and soon one of the models and Eva are taken hostage. The two girls are offered up in a ritual to appease the tribe's Gods, but Kevin comes to the rescue. They take off though the jungle, but soon fall into the clutches of China (Silas), the head of an illegal mining operation. China imprisons Kevin and intends to make the girls sex slaves Kevin struggles to free himself, but perhaps it is their fate to perish in Dinosaur Valley. Film Facts  --For the scene where the tribe's priest eats a heart, the actor playing the priest dined on a fresh pig's heart. --Most of the cannibals are played by Brazilian military men ...
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Hitch on the Hump: The Lodger (1927)

Of all things, we have electric cables to thank for Alfred Hitchcock making his way into the film world. In 1918, Hitchcock was a nineteen year old man working in the advertising department of Henley’s, a company specializing in early electrical supplies. At the time, there was no separation between the writers and artists in the advertising department; they were one in the same. So the young Alfred spent his days writing brochures to sell Henley’s wares and then illustrating them as well. In time he found he had some degree of proficiency with the pen on both accounts. In 1921, when he saw that Famous Players-Lasky, a London based production arm of Paramount Studios, was looking for artists for the captions in silent films, he prepared a portfolio of designs and was quickly offered work. April 27th of the same year was Hitchcock’s last day in advertising and his first in the movie world. As luck or necessity would have it, Hitchcock ended up working far beyond the job description as a “captionist”, and the hard working young man soon parlayed his break first into a job assistant directing films before working his way into the big chair. In 1925, he helmed his first directorial feature, The Pleasure Garden, followed closely by 1926’s The Mountain Eagle. Unfortunately, neither of those film survive in their entirety. However his third film, which the director himself noted that “you could almost say that The Lodger was my first picture”, managed to survive through the decades. It was also the first script that Hitchcock chose from properties available from the studio, and the young director relished translating a novel that he loved for the screen. Written by Marie Belloc Lowndes and published in 1913, the novel was a best seller in it’s time, ...
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