Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cryptozoology Week Starts Tomorrow

After watching Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot today, I decided that I would start a Cryptozoology themed week starting today.  With that in mind, I decided to post some recent comments about my first book Searching the Abyss.  Sure, this is one of the last major non-fiction projects I have completed, my love of the unexplained and paranormal continue to motivate me in my writings. 

Have you ever heard of that unexplained animal sighting up the road? Or been interested in organizing a trip searching for your native legends? If so, this is the book for you. This handbook outlines the world of cryptozoology, everything from its humble beginnings to details on collecting evidence in the field. Complete with tips on researching, classifying and investigating cryptids, this book is easy to use and is everything you need to get your search started. Written for the beginner, Searching the Abyss offers both practical advice and personal experience in its quest to make you a better hunter.

Searching the Abyss is one of the best Cryptozoology books of 2006... - Cryptomundo. com

If anyone is interested in going into this field of study, I would recommend this book as not just educational reading, but as an on-hand field guide during such investigations. It is easy reading, simple, and to the point without all of the fancy words that requires a master's degree to understand. - Shawn McKenzie

Mark's book explains how to begin an investigation, how to conduct a field investigation and then form a hypothesis from your findings, all in a professional manner. Famous cryptozoological success stories, such as the coelacanth and the giant panda, are also discussed. It is a great book for getting you started in this field.
- Stephen Wagner (About. com)

Is this a book for people heading out in search of Bigfoot? Yes. This book is also for anyone headed out to do any field research. It is a must read and is destined to be one of the key 'How To' books in cryptozoological research.  - Gene Lafferty (bsphi. com)

You can pick up an autographed copy from me for $15.00 (plus S/H).

Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot (1977)

I decided to change things up today and move away from the typical horror movies that I have been watching. So, once I got back from picking up a couple of potential curiosity cabinet items, I decided to revisit my youth (and one of my inspirations for Searching the Abyss) and watch the 1977 docudrama Sasquatch: the Legend of Bigfoot.

Plot/ Scientists mount an expedition to find a Bigfoot-type creature.

It has been a long time since I have watched this one; it was one of the first movies (along with the Legend of Boggy Creek) that got me into the Bigfoot phenomena. Watching it again today brought back so many memories. A fictional docudrama / mystery, there were some very interesting moments. Yes, it was low budget and the B movie actors were had some rough moments, but the creepy atmosphere still holds up after all these years. While not perfect, it is an interesting look at the possible existence of one of the most famous cryptids in the world. Not for everyone, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in Cryptozoology or the legendary Squatch..

Friday, April 29, 2011

Berserk (1967)

Yesterday prior to the draft, I had my daughter Jillian select a movie. While I truly expected something zombie or slasher related, I was surprise when she pick the 1960s era circus themed Berserk!

Plot/ Monica Rivers, is the owner and ringmaster of a traveling circus and who'll stop at nothing to draw bigger audiences. When a series of mysterious murders begins to occur and some of her performers die gruesomely, her profits soar.

Hopefully, this was originally intended to be a comedy / thriller, because that is exactly what it turned out to be. This is not a masterpiece in any way; the title does not seem to fit, the acting seems a bit over the top (including the still lovely Joan Crawford), there is definitely too much circus stock film used as fluff and the ending is forced and laughable. However, there are some decent deaths and cool dialogue, truly pure campy fun that cannot be overlooked. While far from perfect, this is an entertaining film that has its moments. For me, it was a great thriller to watch with the daughters!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

To the Devil a Daughter (1976)

After having my feel of the Drive-In Classics, I decided to move back into something more tangible. Looking through Netflix, I stumbled onto the satanic themed To the Devil a Daughter from 1976.

Plot/ An American occult novelist battles to save the soul of a young girl from a group of Satanists, led by an excommunicated priest, who plan on using her as the representative of the Devil on Earth.

As many fans know, this is one of the last films from the Hammer studios, and while some Hammer fans dislike the flick, it is not all bad. This is a creepy film that, while it lacks the typical Gothic Hammer atmosphere, features some great performances and cinematography that creates an eerie feeling throughout. Christopher Lee is brilliant as always, but it is the performance of the supporting cast the truly adds to the overall feel. Sure, the pacing drags at times, some of the effects are poor and it is clearly not the perfect send-off that Hammer would have imagined in the 1970s, but it is a very sinister little film that is often overlooked.

Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1983)

I have actually had enough of the Drive-In Classics: 50 Movie Pack. So, the 1980s flick, Prisoners of the Lost Universe will be the last movie from that set I review for a while.

Plot/ Three people are transported into a parallel universe. There they find that they must use modern technology, but medieval weapons, in order to save the citizenry from a murderous warlord.

Let me start by saying that this is not a great movie. In fact, it may not be that good. Really, it is just a typical low-budget Sci-Fi / Fantasy flick from the 1980s. The acting is so-so, the plot outlandish, the effects are bad and the script is laughable (actually it may possibly be the high point). However, it is actually pretty entertaining when you get past all of the flaws and in the end, it is what it is… A cheesy fantasy B-Movie and nothing else.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Voodoo Black Exorcist (1974)

I have found another snoozer while watching the Drive-In Classics: 50 Movie Pack. The dull entry is the Euro-horror / Blacksploitation / Exploitation flick Voodoo Black Exorcist from 1974.

Plot/ The mummy of long dormant, but powerful Caribbean voodoo priest Gatanebo gets revived on a luxury South Seas ocean liner as a big buff bald guy and proceeds to terrorize the passengers. Gatanebo beheads several folks, occasionally reverts back to his prune-faced mummified state, and falls for the ravishing Sylvia, who reminds him of his old flame Kenya.

After two pretty good movies, I was destined for a snoozer and this dull Euro-horror / Blacksploitation / Exploitation flick definitely fell into that category. The movie is slow, the acting so-so, the editing terrible and the effects are horrid (Paper Mache heads anyone?). Truly the movie is THAT BAD! Its only redeeming quality is the abundance of flame- swallowing exotic dancers and a nice array of topless Voodoo Rituals. Watch at your own risk, I cannot recommend it to anyone.

Unsane (AKA Tenebre - 1982)

I definitely should have paid better attention to the article AKA in Horrorhound Magazine a couple of issues ago. As I am discovering while watching my Drive-In Classics: 50 Movie Pack over the past few days since my surgery, there are so many important and influential movies that have fallen into the AKA category, a great surprise can be found at any moment (especially with giallo’s). One such revelation from yesterday was Unsane (AKA Dario Argento’s  Tenebre) from 1982.

Plot/ An American writer in Rome is stalked by a serial killer bent on harassing him while killing all people associated with his work on his latest book.

I do not know what more I can say about Tenebre. Not only is it one of Argento’s best, it may be one of the best examples of Giallo in cinema. The story is twisting and strong, the acting solid, the plot and pacing work well together, the soundtrack fits perfect and there is enough blood, gore and shocking violence to keep everyone happy (except maybe Tipper Gore). In the end, Argento’s artistic flair with the use of colors to create atmosphere is amazing, and he was truly on top of his game creating a thriller full of stylish murder and haunting elements. This is one of the best and definitely highly recommended to fans of blood, Giallo’s and Argento.

Trauma (AKA Enigma rosso / Virgin Terror - 1978)

Continuing with my Drive-In Classics: 50 Movie Pack, I decided to move into giallo mode. My first giallo for the afternoon yesterday was Trauma (AKA Virgin Terror) and originally known as Enigma rosso from 1978.

Plot/ A detective investigating the murder of a teenage girl begins to focus his suspicions on the three girlfriends of the victim, who call themselves "The Inseparables."

This was an interesting little giallo. Yes, there was a definite lack of overall gore and the transfer was choppy, but there truly was a lot to like. The atmosphere was very creepy and heavy, the suspect list was long, varied and really held up throughout the film (not to mention kept you guessing), the soundtrack fit and the acting was solid (not to mention some nice nude scenes). As with some giallo’s, the pacing seemed a bit off at times and the story did move is some strange ways, but in the end it led to a great twist that made the ending work. Sure, this is not the perfect flick, but it was definitely worth watching.