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.
Greenville, South Carolina, United States
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, ...Read More
Last week I promised you folks a Christmas movie that hailed from the Italian peninsula. With only a few days left until the big holiday, here is the film as promised. I’ve been watchingThe Christmas that Almost Wasn’t for many, many years now. Back in the early ’80’s, they used to play this every year on HBO, and I’ve been slowly wearing out my tired copy taped off TV since then. The heartwarming tale was always a favorite, but it wasn’t until I was watching it last year that I noticed something seemed a little off. I don’t know how it never occurred to me that it wasn’t an American production, but it somehow it did not. I thought I should take a look into this film, and I was a little surprised by what I found. The film I had grown up loving was an Italian production by the name ofIl Natale che quasi non fu (1966) directed by Rossano Brazzi. So today, I am very happy to share with you this little remembered gem from Italy which is one of my very favorite Christmas classics. It’s a week before Christmas and Santa (Alberto Rabagliati) is in trouble. With nowhere else to turn, Santa asks for help from Sam Whipple (Paul Tripp), a lawyer who as a child once sent a thank you letter to Santa. It seems that Santa is being evicted from the North Pole by Phineas T. Prune (Rossano Brazzi), a child hating miser who wants to put an end to Christmas. Sam and Santa try to appeal to Prune’s better judgment, but when that doesn’t work Santa gets a job as a department store Santa to try and make the rent. Prune ruins that too, and it all looks hopeless. Santa’s only hope is the ...Read More
I've stumbled across a number of interesting little Christmastime titles over the weekend, so I wanted to share a few of these with you folks. Starting at the oldest thing I dug up, the 1936 film The Christmas Eves. It starts off innocently enough with four girls (who apparently sleep in two beds) wake up for Christmas morning.... When the girls wake up, it's time to gather under the Christmas tree to open presents. Which turn out to be stockings and sweaters. Naturally this requires the girls to take off all their clothes to try them on. Of course those aren't their only presents, they get trains, and toy planes... and apparently handguns... The handgun was definately this gal's favorite... Then they participate in a favorite holiday tradition, bottomless target shooting... It was a very merry Christmas for all, but next year I hope Santa can see his way to bringing these girls some pants. It's not the way my family celebrates the holiday, but I do see how it could have certain advantages. Hope you folks enjoyed this first rather risqué installment of Christmas Shorts. I'll have another tomorrow and all kind of goodies planned leading up to the big day ...Read More
Hey folks. It's Mardi Gras, and before I give up not being awesome for Lent (so easy, let me just say), I want to live it up. For me living it up means looking back at all the old, and new, New Orleans related posts that can be found in and around The Lair. (Just click on the poster to be whisked off to any of the reviews) First off let's start with the new stuff. How about the definitive look into the Video Nasty title Mardi Gras Massacre. Well, you can see it for yourself today over at the Bloodsprayer. If you want all the ancient Aztecan rituals that Mardi Gras is known for, then head on over and check it out. Now to look into the Lair and see what else we can find. First up The Cincinnati Kid with Steve McQueen. While the title may feature a Northern locale, the setting of this Norman Jewison film is all New Orleans. With a great cast featuing McQueen, Ann Margaret, Karl Malden, and Edward G. Robinson, it's a good way to get your NOLA going. ext up is one that has very little location shooting in it apart from the old New Orleans Zoo, but where else could a film like Cat People be set at than New Orleans? One of my absolute favorite pieces of Crescent City cinema is the Jean Claude Van Damme/ John Woo collaboration Hard Target. You get lots of great city shots and Van Damme as a cajun! Easily the best thriller to come out of NOLA is Alan Parker's Angel Heart. Not only is it creepy as hell, it will surely scare you how much different Mikey Rourke looks these days. Less successful was Clint Eastwood's try at a NOLA thriller,1984's Tightrope, starring ...Read More
Welcome back once more to another edition of B.L.O.G, and after the intensity and brutality of Martyrs, I looked toward the classics for something a bit more subdued. I found it in the premiere adaptation of the Henry James novel The Turn of the Screw, a classic tale of supernatural horror… or is it merely psychological. That’s the beauty of the performance we get from the lovely…. Scottish born Deborah Kerr was already an established star by 1961. In fact, she had already achieved cinematic immorality after her iconic beachside make out session with Bert Lancaster inFrom Here to Eternity (1953). Then in 1956 she appeared in yet another iconic role when she became Anna opposite You Brenner’s king in The King and I. Kerr would rarely step foot into genre film category, her only other entry being the 1967 farce Casino Royale, but with her role in tonight’s film, I think she deserves praise from beyond the mainstream film world. It is her dynamic performance and incredible strength that make this film work so well. So I am very happy to bring you Ms. Kerr in…. The Innocents (1961) starring Deborah Kerr, Megs Jenkins, Martin Stephens, and Pamela Franklin. Directed by Jack Clayton. A young woman, Miss Giddens (Kerr) accepts a job as a governess to two orphaned children. Upon arriving at the country estate where they live, she finds her bucolic surroundings tinged by a feeling of unease. As the two children, Miles and Flora (Stevens and Franklin), begin to exhibit strange behaviors, Miss Giddens begins to believe that the manor is being haunted by spirits who intend to possess her young charges. The Bugg Picture Henry James novel, The Turn of The Screw, is an amazing piece of literature, and its influence on the modern ghost story ...Read More
It's the start of the working week again, and it's time once more to reach into the grab bag and pull out something to watch. Perhaps I should have said that "it's time once Moore" because today's film stars non other than Sir Roger Moore. As with any actor who is tasked with playing James Bond, the struggle is always to maintain an identity as an actor apart from your role as the suave agent. All the actors who have come to fame playing the role seem to always have this problem. (Especially George Lazenby, who recalls anything about him other than being the one time Bond.) While Moore had been an established actor for many years playing in many films, The Saint TV series, and even a handful of episodes ofMaverick, he knew this was a trap that he could easily fall into. So in between his 007 romps, he took on many different films. In 1977 he was coming off of the success of The Spy Who Loved Me(perhaps the best outing of Moore's Bond) when he made The Wild Geese (1978) with Richard Burton, a film about mercenaries in Africa. Then in 1979 he had a banner year with three films being released, Moonraker, the star studded WW II picture Escape to Athena, which I have never seen, but would really love to (I mean Sonny Bono, Moore, Richard Roundtree, and Telly Savalas in one film!), and the film that I want to bring to you... "ffolkes" (1979) starring Roger Moore, James Mason, and Anthony Perkins. Directed by Andrew V. McLagen. Rufus Excalibur ffolkes is just your average sort of scotch drinking, cat loving, woman hating, commando training chap. He is approached by his employer to devise a scheme to defend oil platforms in the North Sea from terrorist attacks. Naturally it's only a few months ...Read More
Hello everyone. Thanks for coming back for the third course of Thanksgiving with Alejandro. While Fando y Lis was a collection of impenetrable images which Jowderowky learned to temper with traditional plot points in El Topo, The Holy Mountain (1973) may well be the director’s artistic high point, but as far as clarity of vision, it might have been a step back. Thankfully, for me, the subject matter kept me entirely enthralled in the proceedings. Well, not entirely, but we’ll get to that later. Where El Topo had been brought to the film market thanks to Beatles manager Allen Klein, this time Alejandro made his film directly for Klein, a decision that lead him to make the most expensive Mexican film production in the English language. The Holy Mountain is a film, but it is also a spiritual journey that even thirty seven years later allows the viewer to join cast an cast and crew on their spiritual journey. Unlike Fando y Lis, which I found hard to synopsize, and El Topo, which was easily summed up, The Holy Mountain has a deceptively simple plot that wouldn’t take more than a single sentence to explain. The alchemist (Jowderowky) assembles representatives from each for the solar system’s planets and together they go on a journey into the spirit. All this is to ignore the opening scenes of the Christ-like thief (Horacio Salnas) as he finds the business of religion, survives being a false idol, and get thrown out of a church that doesn’t recognize his divinity. It is also not to bother to explain about the seven other companions that join the thief and the alchemist, all of which represent various decadent aspects of their world. A cosmetician, a millionaire, a toy weapon manufacturer, and an art dealer all become part of ...Read More
There are many ways to unsettle or frighten an audience in the world of cinema. There are probably as many as there are people because there is no telling what might be scary to one person or another. Lately I've talked about films that use sound as the device to horrify, and films with such disturbing visions that the interpretation of the horrific acts are left open to the viewer. Today's film chilled me down to the bone with the utterance of four little words. The Purge, another horror flick pulled together on a meager budget (The Blair Witch method, but with name actors this go round.) pulled in big bucks at the box office, but reviews were mixed and I remained skeptical. It sounded like a mix between The Hunger GameS and The Strangers, both of which were better when they were called Battle Royale and Ils respectively, and I might have taken a pass entirely. Then I heard a little of the political subtext, and while I still wasn't intrigued by seeing any movies with Ethan Hawke as my protagonist, I thought I'd purge myself of doubt and give The Purge a shot. In the world of the future, violence and hatred has been eradicated, but one night a year, the titular Purge, everything is on the table. All Americans are invited by "The New Founding Fathers" to indulge in all the rape, murder, and wanton violence they want from seven at night until seven in the morning. The logic being that the resulting catharsis resulting contains the desire to disobey the rest of the year. The film centers its focus on James Sandin (Hawke), his wife Mary (Game of Thrones' Lena Headey), and children, the sexually budding Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and nerdy recluse Charlie (Max Burkholder). James sells the ...Read More
So finally the day is here, and I wanted to take time off today to celebrate William Shatner's birthday. For over 60 years Shatner has been a fixture on the stage, screen, and television. From Captain Kirk to T.J. Hooker to Denny Crane, he's created memorable characters time and time again. He's survived personal tragedy, professional failure, and critical drubbings only to return time and time again. William Shatner is 79 years old today, and I should be so lucky to be as vital and look so good when I reach that age. So wherever you are Mr. Shatner, Happy Birthday from a lifelong fan. To celebrate I'm here's a series of pictures each of which symbolizes a decade in Shatner's long career. Young Shatner in one of his first major roles, 1951's The Explosive Generation. Shatner showing how to rock a gold shirt on Star Trek Shatner does lounge as he emotes "Rocket Man" at the Science Fiction Film awards. After T.J. Hooker, no car hood would feel safe again. Shatner vs Shatner in Star Trek VI Denny Crane! You don't want to mess with the Shat! ...Read More
While Poe adaptations in the 60's belonged to Roger Corman and Vincent Price, today's film found three European auteurs getting down and dirty with the works of Edgar Allan. Each of them present a singular and innovative look into the work of the macabre writer, and through the film was distributed in the states by American International Pictures, it has little in common with the content or tone of AIP's other Poe offerings. It should be noted that for the purposes of this review I watched the French language version entitled Histoires Extraordinaires. This title comes from the first volume of Poe's short stories translated for a French audience by the poet Baudelaire, but when it was released in the States, it was saddled with title Spirits of the Dead, a reference to an 1927 poem of the same title by Poe. Of the two I much prefer the French title as it speaks directly to the type of tales the movie contains, stories of the extraordinary. As this film is divided into three segments with no connecting device (the American version contains narration by Vincent Price between the stories), I'm going to tackle each one individually. First up is the Germanically titled Metzengerstein. Jane Fonda stars as Contessa Frederique de Metzengerstein, a decadent woman given to throwing grand parties filled with debauchery and sex. Next door lives the austere Baron Wilhelm Berlifitzing (Peter Fonda) who is in all ways the opposite of the Contessa. Living a quiet life, hunting and riding his horses, the Baron takes no part in his neighbor's grand lifestyle. One day while roaming in the forest separating their property, the Contessa becomes caught in a bear trap, but is freed when the Baron happens across her. Instantly smitten, the Contessa pursues the Baron, but being a ...Read More