Friday, April 29, 2011


Hey everyone. I'm going to be starting a new segment here where I run down and review all of the Bond series from beginning to end. Should take up a good deal of time seeing that there are 22 official films, one unofficial one (which I love), and a new film on the horizon.

I'm looking forward to kicking off this new venture and getting some great Bond films up on the site. Stay tuned for the first in the series, Dr. No, which I'll be posting in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

i Spy Eurospy: New York Calling Super Dragon

New York Calling Super Dragon
Director: Giorgio Ferroni
Year 1966

New York Calling Super Dragon, or as it's also known Secret Agent Super Dragon, is a highly entertaining Eurospy flick that has a rather solid cast and enough amusing super spy elements to make it a worthwhile entry in any Eurospy fan's collection. Ray Danton stars as American secret agent Bryan Cooper AKA Super Dragon, who has just come out of retirement to avenge the death of his friend and fellow agent. Accompanied by a gadget genius named Baby Face and a sultry female agent named Cynthia Fulton, the group set off to solve a troubling case in which normal people have been turning into crazed lunatics in a small Michigan college town. Their investigation takes them across the globe as all leads point them to Amsterdam and to a strange collector of the arts named Fernand Lamas and his secretive cult of masked strangers.

The names Dragon, Super Dragon.

Ray Danton does a commendable job as agent Super Dragon, giving the larger then life character the much needed charisma that is needed to pull off the trademark spy swagger. I've never had the privilege in seeing any of Danton's other roles, so I really had no idea what to expect from his interpretation of a swinging secret agent. I'm happy to say that he carried the burden well, bringing a confidence to the character of Super Dragon yet at the same time a vulnerability that was extremely unexpected on my part. I'll be keeping an eye out in the future for any film starring Mr. Danton, because he really did make the movie better then it had any real right to be.

Another stunning addition to the cast is the breathtaking Margaret Lee, whose exploits in the Eurospy genre is legendary. I'm still struggling to obtain all of her spy outings and hoping against hope, that more of her catalogue will be available to the not so resourceful spy hounds like myself. In New York Calling Super Dragon, Lee plays a fellow female agent named Cynthia Fulton, whose role permeates the story, often weaving in and out of the narrative as the film moves along. She looks absolutely stunning in this film, often stealing scenes and taking names, even if she is just window dressing in the end. Who really cares though, because style is often better then substance in the world of Eurospy films and Lee's got style to spare.

Michael Jackson leaves a little love note for Super Dragon.

If Margaret Lee wasn't enough on the eye candy scale, we're treated to another heroine for Super Dragon to cozy up against in the form of Marisa Mell. Far from a stranger in the spy and cult film business, she has tackled some very memorable roles in such films as Mario Bava's Danger: Diabolik and Lucio Fulci's Perversion Story. Here she takes on the role of Charity Farrel, a great Bond inspired name, who is both friend and foe to agent Super Dragon, playing both sides for various reasons known only to herself. Her character is vulnerable yet deadly at the same time and you never really get a solid idea who she is working for. It's a great duel role for her and one that she has displayed before in her works that would follow in her interesting career.

Aside from the beautiful women in Super Dragon's life, there is another important character that this film adds to the mix. The addition of the inventive gangster Baby Face, turns the Eurospy film on its head so to speak, morphing it into an almost buddy caper where each man plays off each other and helps the other out of a jam. It's a pretty interesting move to give Super Dragon a side kick of sorts and by doing this you bring the super agent down to a more real to life status. He's not a one man army, taking on everyone and coming out on top unscathed. He's a hero that is susceptible to failure, making him that much more relatable even if he does always get the girl, or girls, in the end. The character of Baby Face makes this possible and the many times that we see him help or even rescue Dragon from some very dire situations, makes us realize that maybe Super Dragon isn't the cartoon caricature that the spy genre has come to typify as the norm. It's almost a breath of fresh air and adds another layer to the espionage of this cinematic world.

I just can't stop staring at those bangs.

Not withstanding the already mentioned stellar cast, I had concerns about the actual story and inventiveness of the movie. For a film that has been run through the mud by many reviewers and countless recollections of MST3K viewings, I was expecting something of a filmic farse when I sat down to view this little number. Happily, I was taken by surprise and came to find that there are some exceptional moments in this much unheralded film.

For instance, I found the scene where Super Dragon is sealed inside a coffin and dumped into the river quite captivating. The calmness of the entire act and the quite nature of the direction was unsettling and claustrophobic. With the absence of a high tempo beat to pump the action along, the viewer is left feeling cold and alone, much like how Super Dragon must have been feeling when trapped in the coffin stuck in a self induced trance. I really loved the scene and felt that it accomplished a hell of a lot more then it was initially setting out to do.

Man we look like a pair of idiots.

Another great moment is the masquerade auction, where Dragon, Baby Face, and Cynthia, go undercover to investigate the strange surroundings at the eccentric Fernand Lamas' mansion. The build up is done with a great deal of respect and their infiltration within the ranks of the secretive cult is pulled off effortlessly. I enjoyed the subtle change from scene to scene as we follow Super Dragon into the underbelly of this perverse group of men who relish the idea of controlling the minds of their unsuspecting victims. It's a plot that doesn't hold a candle to the Bond outings, but then again it never sets out to be such a spectacle. New York Calling Super Dragon is more of an intimate exposition into the quirky world of agent Super Dragon. It balances the fine line between tongue and cheek and sensible espionage. I love the pairing and feel that they work well off of each other.

Of course we're given some of the outrageous moments that make Eurospy films so much damn fun, such as the psychedelic torture room that Margaret Lee's character finds herself in when captured by the dastardly Fernand Lamas. By electrocuting their captives in what resembles a kiddy pool, they threaten to extract the information they want from her, that is until Super Dragon shows up and gives them a taste of their own medicine. There's also some familiar trappings in the film, where our main baddy Lamas holds meetings inside a stereotypical lair of sorts straight out of James Bond's arch nemesis Blofeld's most memorable habitats. The familiarity is there, but it doesn't hold the inherent baggage that you'd expect from copying ones superiors. Well at least for me it didn't, but I like that kind of corny stuff.

Help me Secret Agent Super Dragon, you're my only hope.

Speaking of corny stuff, where's the gadgets? Well the gadgetry is a plenty, provided mostly by Baby Face's many contraptions that find their way onto the screen. From remote control boats that are able to pinpoint the location of missing agents to armpit guns that go off if the owner's arms are raised above the wearer's head, are just a few of the many gadgets that Super Dragon has in his arsenal. In retrospect, Baby Face is Super Dragon's Q, but with a more youthful and jovial appearance. While not many of the gadgets are original, they work within the context of the story and help build the authenticity of the spy world in New York Calling Super Dragon. It's just great to see some of these things pulled off and in the end, who the hell doesn't want to see someone go down in a blaze of glory from a hidden pair of armpit guns. If you raised your hand, then I don't want to know you. Good day sir!

Why the hell are we talking on the phone when we're in the same room?

I would say that for the most part, New York Calling Super Dragon is an enjoyable ride that when not compared to the much superior Bond franchise, you can really get a lot out of. There's enough familiar spy elements from the era and enough beautiful women and lush locations, that you really can't go wrong with the film in general. The film moves at a brisk pace and follows a pretty straight forward plot-line that doesn't meander or get too convoluted like most Eurospy flicks tend to do. It doesn't take itself too seriously, but at the same time it's able to have fun with the genre and that's really all you need a Eurospy film to do. If you're looking for a fun little film that has all the elements that make a spy film enjoyable, then I highly recommend you give this under-appreciated number a try. It may not be the best the genre has to offer, but it does hold a special place in this reviewers mind and it satisfied my Eurospy appetite and then some. Check it out and you might be surprised.

3 out of 5 guns          A Decent & Enjoyable Eurospy Entry!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

MY FILM: Among the Fallen Preview

Hey everyone. I'm back again with another update on my film, Among the Fallen. I've got a series of four scenes to show off and they represent some of the various locations and looks of the film. It should give you a good idea of the quality of the movie and the overall atmosphere that I was going for in the whole piece.

First off, is a scene early in the film where our main character Will Ashford first comes into contact with one of the strange watchers that plague the story. A zombie demon hybrid of sorts, the quiet strangers progressively begin to drive Will insane until he finally succumbs to a savage retaliation while fighting for his survival and his very soul.

After surviving the night, Will tries to escape from the Watchers and their soulless and ever watchful eyes. Setting off down a never ending road, he finds that leaving this nightmare is easier said then done when some unseen entity begins hunting him.

Finding out that no matter how hard he tries to escape, Will discovers that every road seems to work its way back to the cabin. Fearing that he has to spend another night under the decrepit gaze of the Watchers, he prepares for a long and bloody night of terror. The Watchers, once docile and complacent, quickly turn into ravenous beasts thirsting for nothing but Will's own flesh. Barricading himself into a back room, Will struggles to hold back the oncoming zombie horde.

Finally, as Will reaches his boiling point. He begins to fight back against the bloodthirsty menace, using any and everything to cut down the numbers of these insurmountable foes. It's going to be one bloody night.

Well I hope you enjoyed this little preview and I also hope it gave you a little more information on what to expect when the full film is later premiered. As always, all comments, questions and criticisms are welcomed and thanks for checking out the videos.

Friday, April 22, 2011

OVERVIEW: Twilight Zone - Season 1, Part 1

The Twilight Zone is one of the most original and accomplished television shows that I've ever come across. The stories that mastermind Rod Serling has concocted have influenced so much of our culture and infiltrated so many of our film's favorite moments, that I thought it would be interesting to do a quick overview of all of the wonderful episodes of this stellar series.

Now this might take me months to complete, but I think it will be a nice compilation of information, focusing on some of the most amazing moments in television history. Well without further ado, here's part one of Season one. Enjoy.


Director: Robert Stevens
Original Air Date: October 2nd 1959

Looks like it's just you and me tree.

The episode of "Where is Everybody?" is a great way to introduce the world to the wonderful and bizarre realm of The Twilight Zone, because it has all of the elements that have become a staple in some of the most memorable entries in the series. Rod Serling brings us a tale of a confused and bewildered man named Mike Ferris, who has found himself in a quant little town devoid of human life. Panicked by his newfound loneliness and isolation, Ferris succumbs to the inevitable fate that man needs companionship to survive. It's an intriguing concept and one that is pulled off with expertise.

The set up and location of this story is just hauntingly realized by taking such a peaceful and hospitable looking town and morphing it into something out of a nightmare. The inclusion of mannequins, prerecorded operators, and triggered street lights, give the film a voyeuristic quality that eventually pays off in the unsettling conclusion where we are shown that this was all just a trial run in finding out man's ability to handle long space flights without human contact. It's a great and unexpected turn of events that brings about an interesting idea on space travel and the psychological baggage that comes along with it.

This story introduces the first of many space allegories that focus on the perils of man's journey through the stars. I really enjoyed this one and thought that the overall theme of the episode was outstanding.

Director: Robert Parrish
Original Air Date: October 9th 1959

Sometimes I feel like, somebody's watching me. Who's playing tricks on me?

An unexpected visit by Death takes an aging pitchman named Lou Bookman by surprise when finding out that his time is finally up. Mustering every trick in the book, Bookman bargains for a way to escape Death's plan, only to find that in order for him to live someone else must take his place. Even if that someone is an innocent child.

The decisions made in this tale are very dark and the fact that they were so bleak, frankly surprised this viewer. I really enjoyed the give and take between Lou Bookman, played by Ed Wynn, and Death, played by Murray Hamilton. It's played off in such a tongue and cheek kind of way, but underscored with such dire consequences, that it makes for a rather interesting game of tug of war between the two characters. Bookman shows such characteristic strength when given the death blow of realizing that his choice spells the doom for an angelic acquaintance in the form of young Maggie. His desperation in trying to change Mr. Death's ultimate decision is heartbreaking and absolutely genuine on Wynn's part. His resulting pitch to save the girl's soul and subsequently redeem his own is rather inspirational and endearing in its display.

The Twilight Zone magic is sprinkled over this episode, making you believe that such an unimaginable plot could in fact be factual. Rod Serling creates an unforgettable tale in "One For the Angels", bridging the gap between fantasy and reality while at the same time defining the realm and spiritual confinements of, The Twilight Zone.

Director: Allen Reisner
Original Air Date: October 16th 1959

Now who the hell would throw out a perfectly good gun?

Rod Serling transports us back to the wild west where vices can take control of even the best of men. In this tale we follow a man by the name of Al Denton, whose recently had a string of bad luck rooting from his overwhelming lust for liquor and the mind numbing stupor that it concocts. Once a legendary gun slinger, Denton is now the town drunk, bullied by local tough guy Dan Hotaling, played by the mean mugged Martin Landau. Denton's luck at the moment of our introduction, seems to have run dry, that is until he is paid a visit by a mysterious peddler named Henry J. Fate, who gives Mr. Denton an elixir that has the most peculiar effects on its consumers.

I really enjoyed the grimness of this story which presses hard on the fact that Al Denton has really lost everything that he has and is a shell of a man that he once was. There's also a great tragedy to his life, because even when he was on the top of his game, he was constantly put to the test as every sharp shooter in the county rode in to challenge him. Denton was a man haunted by death no matter where he turned and the fact that his good fortunes, later on in the tale, are all but soured by the taint of his once legendary status, is heartbreaking. His redemption, like most in the Twilight Zone, comes at a cost, for he is forced to relive the life that he thought he had finally gotten rid of. A life where everyday is a struggle to prove you are the best with the only downfall being the price of your life.

The revelation at the end of Denton's story is especially meaningful, as Denton is given a second chance of life, one without a gun and holster. Unorthodox for a Twilight Zone episode, but the main character is reprieved of any past sins and is granted another chance at happiness. I really like the full circle the character makes and I was immensely pleased with Al Denton's rebirth into a mature and much wiser man. This is one of the few Twilight Zone stories that end on a positive note, allowing for the main character to learn a lesson from what he experiences and gain a second chance. Mr. Denton on Doomsday is a very memorable episode and one that goes against the usual Twilight Zone formula and subsequent doom filled conclusion.

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Original Air Date: October 23rd 1959

That's right. You just sit there in that lazy boy and live it up.

Lost in a haze of memories and celluloid dreams, Barbara Jean Trenton is an aged film star who longs for the days of classical cinema and the simple warmth of those care free moments when her light shone the brightest for all to see. Trapping herself in her study, she turns back the hands of time and losses herself in the nostalgic wonder of some of her most treasured film roles. Encased in a blackened sealed box of memories, she revisits those days with the help of her sixteen millimeter shrine that projects her youthful image up upon the pale canvas to relive over and over again. Time stands still for Ms. Trenton, but at what cost.

This story is haunting in its portrayal of a has-been film star who has lapsed into a self induced madness that no one can seem to break her of. The recluse nature that is on exhibition by the handy work of Ida Lupino, is pitch perfect as she depicts a bitter and embroiled woman who fears the slipping of time and the inevitable aging that accompanies the mournful passing moments of a progressing life. She does a commendable job in showcasing a woman whose mind has been locked away in a time long since past. The startling moments when she's confronted with the truth are rather unsettling and wholly effective in their world shattering presentation.

The conclusion of the tale is just as disturbing, as we watch in disbelief as Ms. Trenton, mentally and physically looses herself in the film, transporting her entire being into the celluloid wrappings of the reel and relegating herself into a world trapped in time and eternal existence. It is both a sad and happy ending that pulls the viewer in two ways at once. A very established and competent entry in the Twilight Zone series and one that will stick with you long after viewing.

Director: Robert Stevens
Original Air Date: October 30th 1959

You spin me right round baby right round. Like a record baby right round, round, round.

Walking Distance is one of the pinnacle moments of the Twilight Zone series that pulls the rug out from under its central character and watches as the bewildered pedestrian struggles to come to terms with an earth shattering and highly revealing change of events in both time and space. It's a plot device that has been used a lot throughout Twilight Zone's run, but none that are done so effectively and infused with such child-like wonder.

Martin Sloan, a jaded and worn out 36 year old executive, relives his childhood while visiting the neighborhood where he grew up. He revisits these moments not through memories, but through an unexplainable miracle that sends him back in time. Confronted with nostalgic overload, Sloan juggles with the mind boggling realization that he is indeed home in circa 1934, home to his 15 year old counterpart. Meeting himself in the past and having a few run ins with his parents, sends Sloan on a whirlwind chase through memory lane desperately trying to figure out how he got there and why he has returned.

The flow of Martin Sloan's journey is eloquent and patient as he encounters one familiar event in his young life after another. The faces of the people of his past introducing themselves in a continually creepy manner makes for some rather interesting moments, until finally he comes to terms that he is in fact back in 1934.  The effects that he has on this time period are also very apparent as he chases his younger self, hoping to get some kind of answers out of him, only to have the young Martin Sloan trip and fall off a carousel injuring his legs. The repercussions of that fall reverberate all the way to the elder Sloan, who instantly begins walking with a limp, giving way to the hazardous implications that the time traveling Martin Sloan has on this mysterious world.

All in all, this episode is a must and I highly suggest that you give this one a whirl. The story really sweeps you up in the moment and the time switch is pulled off rather beautifully.

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Original Air Date: November 6th 1959

Find another suit in the discount bin, huh Walter?

In the episode, Escape Clause, a man by the name of Walter Bedeker finds a way to eradicate his hypochondriac tendencies by making a deal with the devil. He exchanges his eternal soul for a sample of immortality, allowing him to live up to a million years without the fear of death or disease. What at first seems a blessing, slowly becomes a curse, as Bedeker comes to realize that being godlike can be quite boring. Confronted with this unsettling thought, Bedeker schemes to up the stakes only to go too far and condemn himself to an imprisoned life sentence that would have him spend the rest of his years behind the metallic bars of a prison cell.

The irony is thick in this story, really hitting the viewer over the head in the final sequences of the episode. The twist in the concluding moments is something of a double edged sword because Walter Bedeker's personality is so revolting and his attitude towards the world so negative that you can't help but wish him the worst and root for his demise. On the other hand you find yourself sympathizing with his predicament and feeling sorry for the cruel twist of fate that has befallen his character. It's one of those moments where the Twilight Zone teaches a lesson to the main character in appreciating what they have, yet at the same time never giving the person a chance to redeem themselves. It's cruel and unusual punishment, but that's what makes it so entertaining. The moral lesson is really for the audience to take home with them and possibly avoid the kind of mental trappings that inhabited Bedeker's unappreciative mindset.

I really enjoyed this story, not only for its grim conclusion, but for the comedic elements that are sprinkled throughout the tale. I had a hell of a time watching Bedeker come up with new and exciting ways to test his immortality and the untimely demise of his wife is morbidly and curiously laugh out loud funny. Escape Clause is just another great story that really uses the Twilight Zone atmosphere to its full advantage.

Director: Jack Smight
Original Air Date: November 13th 1959

You know from here I can almost see Uranus.

The Lonely is by far one of my favorite episodes of the first season. I love the combinations of science fiction, love, and loneliness, that deal with the psychological horrors of life in space. This story focuses on all of those things and really brings some interesting concepts to the forefront.

James A. Corry, a convict, has been banished to an isolated planet for the duration of his sentence and is visited every three months by a trio of guards who bring him new supplies and a few choice words. The worst thing about being left on this lifeless hunk of rock that serves as his prison cell, is the overwhelming loneliness that accompanies such miserable surroundings. Captain Allenby, one of Corry's only contacts to the outside world, sympathizes with his situation and deems it onto himself to comfort him with a simple gift that could banish the loneliness and give him some kind of peace on this destitute planet that he now calls home.

The gift is in the form of a robot woman, who looks, acts, and talks just like the real thing. At first Corry is mortified and disgusted by the gesture, but then eventually succumbs to the notion after contrasting it with the cold and lonely realization that he will go mad if he refuses this false comfort. After giving in and accepting this fictional happiness, Corry's perception of reality and fantasy begin to blur and he comes to love the robot as if it were a flesh and blood woman. Like most stories in the Twilight Zone, happiness doesn't last forever as Captain Allenby arrives earlier then scheduled to tell Corry the good news that his imprisonment term has been terminated. The kicker is that they can only carry the weight of one person and they have to leave immediately or it will be too late. Of course this news is both delightful and painful for Corry, causing him to struggle to find some way to bring his love back with him.

I was amazed at how much emotion this story carried as we are put in Corry's shoes having to abandon the woman he loves for a chance at freedom. It begs the question, what is the price of freedom if you lose part of yourself in the process. The robot might have been just a bucket of bolts, but in his mind she was a part of him to such a degree that he didn't see the inner workings of her metallic body, only the feeling of completeness that she was able to give him in their short time together. He survived because of her existence, yet her demise now lies in his salvation.

In its brief runtime, The Lonely really has a slew of things to say and it hits all of the intriguing topics in an impressive display of science fiction genre mashing. I would have to say this is one of my favorites of the first season and it's a perfect display on why I love this certain sub genres of science fiction so much.

Director: John Brahm
Original Air Date: November 20th 1959

Time waits for no man. Not even for a nerd like you Henry Bemis.

Bookworm and overall socially devoid bank teller Henry Bemis has the peculiar habit of burying himself inside the written marvels of books, shunning the real world and placing all else on hold. This certain unusual habit has been testing the patients of the various people in Mr. Bemis' life, forcing them to enact strict regulations on his reading privileges and necessitating him to resort to unorthodox ways of maintaining his connection with said books. What seems like an eccentric lifestyle only serves to be the catalyst that keeps Mr. Bemis alive when a nuclear disaster befalls Henry's warped little existence resulting in the annihilation of every living thing on earth. Every living thing that is except for himself. Alone for the first time in his life, Henry battles the overwhelming possibilities of his newfound fate, contrasting the pros and cons of being the last man on earth and the implications that follow. Only in his most dire need does he then realize that this is exactly what he needed. Sadly the realization comes at a cost, for the Twilight Zone loves to bring you down a peg once you have a revelation on pure happiness and its meaning to oneself.

This story is just plain great, starring a very memorable Burgess Meredith as the knowledge seeking Henry Bemis. His coke bottle glasses and cheery disposition does wonders for building a memorable character in Mr. Bemis. The situations he finds himself in, in both pre apocalypse and post apocalypse, are highly entertaining and Burgess really sells it for all it's worth. The tragic ending of the piece is really delivered with an exclamation point, with Meredith's mournful realization that he was so close to obtaining his dream only to fall short at the last second.

I'd say that this story is one of the more memorable ones in Twilight Zone history and it is bound to be a favorite among many fans of the series. It really is an accomplished little story about dreaming big and then failing when you're just about to obtain that glorious dream. A very sad and disheartening tragedy.

Director: Robert Florey
Original Air Date: November 27th 1959

My word! His hands are so soft! He must moisturize.

Edward Hall is a man haunted by a recurring dream that threatens to extinguish his very being. He fears that if he falls asleep again, he will never wake up, and in resisting this urge to rest he creates a horrible and labored existence for himself. Forcing himself to stay awake, Edward relays his story to a psychiatrist, retelling the unbelievable factors of his unsettling dream and the woman who seems tied to his overwhelming fears of doom. The plot intertwines with both the dreamworld and reality as the clarity between what is real and what is fiction is blurred, mimicking Edward's own sense of loss and understanding.

Perchance to Dream is a rather trippy story, told in flashbacks by the character Edward Hall, played by Richard Conte, as he explains the strange events that have led him to this point in time. The dreams in which he describes to his psychiatrist are quite vivid and capture a haunting aura that nails home the paranoid overtones that have been tearing Mr. Hall apart. You can see the toll that these dreams have had on his waking life and you can tell that he is at his wits end, suffering from a forced insomnia that could kill even the strongest of men. It's an exhaustive effort on all fronts, but one that is absolutely necessary to tell the story and tell it right.

The presence of the spectral woman Maya is breathtakingly achieved by the stunning actress Suzanne Lloyd, whose alluring looks reflect the dangerous pull of a spider luring in its unsuspecting prey. She really is captivating and does the character of Maya and her overbearing presence justice. The ending, though not as earth shattering as some previous Twilight Zone episodes, does a competent job of wrapping up all of the loose ends and at the same time, making us question whether what we have just seen has really happened in the real world or existed purely in the limbo realm of the Twilight Zone. In the end, Perchance to Dream gives a great effort in creating a tale that is caught between the two worlds of dreams and nightmares.

Director: John Brahm
Original Air Date: December 4th 1959

Get me off this crazy boat!

A man stands aboard a ship in the Atlantic, with little to no recollection of who he is and how he ended up on this seemingly doomed cruise. Bits and pieces begin unraveling in his mind until he comes to a startling conclusion that makes everything crystal clear. The ship is about to be attacked and he is the very same person that will execute the order that will sequentially end the lives of all onboard, including his own. This bizarre tale is told in the most twisted of ways, giving way to suspicion and terror, as the mysterious man comes to terms with the unaltered truth that not everything is as it seems in the Twilight Zone.

The episode of Judgment Night is a rather exceptional one, because it contains such a memorable atmosphere and sustains it rather well throughout the stories runtime. There's always a sense of dread and a foreboding presence that hovers around the main character, Carl Lanser, as he tries to figure out what is happening. A majority of the credit goes to Nehemiah Persoff who plays the amnesia victim, for he really acts out the part with great anguish. His tormented mind struggles with the unknown origins of his character and even when confronted with the truth, he fights to control that horrible reality from happening.

We're given bits and pieces of the puzzle as the episode progresses, gradually gifting Carl Lanser with fragments of his past and his personal effects that narrow down the origin and nature of his character. One of the most startling and mysterious findings is when we are presented with a Nazi sub commander's hat placed suspiciously in Lanser's closet. At this point we are convinced that Mr. Lanser is in fact a spy, sent aboard the unsuspecting vessel to sabotage it in some way, shape, or form. It isn't until the final moments of the episode that we are finally knocked over the head as the recollection becomes crystal clear. In some form of wicked twist of fate, Lanser turns out to be the commander of a German submarine. The very submarine that he was so sure was bound to attack their vessel.

In a blaze of melodramatic self realization, Carl Lanser comes full circle and meets his fate at the hands of himself. Doomed to relive the horrors that his victims endured, Lanser's hell becomes all too clear. It's a rather interesting story that has a surprisingly deep inner workings that lie within its simple plot. I really enjoyed the twisting nature of this episode and the way it built up to its inevitable conclusion.

Director: Douglas Heyes
Original Air Date: December 11th 1959

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The Twilight Zone rules!

Existence is a peculiar thing. One minute you're walking, talking, and breathing, the next you're wiped from the face of the earth. Three astronauts touching down from a failed mission, come to find out that not is all that it seems, when one by one they each begin to fade from memory and from the world. Left with a feeling of emptiness and disillusion, the tale tells a story of the struggle of ones' self preservation against incalculable odds. Can a person just vanish from existence? Can the ones you love forget you ever existed? All of these questions and more can be answered in The Twilight Zone.

This haunting tale is rather remarkable in conveying a sense of paranoia not seen on such high levels since 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers. As astronaut Colonel Clegg Forbes, played by screen legend Rod Taylor, comes to realize that no one has heard of his fellow astronaut and friend Ed Harrington, he becomes distraught and extremely determined to prove his existence. Running over the events in his head from their space accident to their arriving at the hospital, he can't seem to figure out why no one has ever heard of Harrington and why they are telling him that his mission was only a two maned flight that only he and Major William Gart had been on.

The maddening plot thickens as Forbes comes to the conclusion that someone or something is trying to correct their existence in the form of wiping the slate clean so to speak. Perhaps they were never meant to survive their space journey? The intriguing concept is only made that much more compelling by the explosive characteristics of Rod Taylor's Colonel Forbes. He is desperate in his search for some kind of reasoning behind his friends disappearance and compelled in his own personal knowledge of what he sees as the truth, knowing too well that he could be next.

In the final closing moments of the episode we are given a dismal outlook on the validity of Colonel Forbes convictions, as we find an empty hospital room, void of any evidence that any of the astronauts ever truly existed. It's haunting in its finality and perfectly complete in its commentary on whether we genuinely exist at all. A true classic of Twilight Zone goodness.

Director: Alvin Ganzer
Original Air Date: December 25th 1959

What I need is that kick ass hat and scarf combo!

An old street peddler named Pedott has an uncanny ability to know exactly what you need. This highly valuable ability is both a blessing and a curse, for it attracts some unwanted attention from a down and out street tough named Fred Renard who desires nothing more then to get what he wants and more from poor Pedott. Unfortunately, what you want is not necessarily what you need and Renard finds this out the hard way resulting in his untimely death, capping off what had come to be a miserable life full of regrets and anguish. Maybe death is what Fred Renard really needed?

This is a rather demented little tale that toys with some pretty interesting moral angles and hits them from every possible direction. Pedott's gift of seeing what people truly need at the moment is pulled off perfectly and he uses this ability to enhance peoples lives, guiding them on their way to happiness. Though this seems like Pedott interfering with fate, which would come off as a very selfish gesture, this instead shines positively on his personality and reflects the character of this eccentric street peddler as a kind and good hearted soul. After helping out a few patrons inside a local bar, his kindness catches the eye of small time crook Fred Renard who wants to exploit Pedott's amazing gift and benefit solely from it.

What results is an interesting game of cat and mouse, as Pedott gives in to Renard's first demand, only to later steer him down a path that would lead him to his doom. It's an amazing sequence of events, because Pedott comes out of this mental skirmish as a pacifist, only acting in self defense as he sets in motion the intricate pieces that will eventually take the life of the selfish Fred Renard. It's at the very end of the episode where we learn what Pedott really saw when he looked into Renard's eyes when they first met at the bar. Pedott had seen his own death by the hands of Renard and essentially had been steering Renard away from that resulting event, replacing Pedott's death with his own. It's kind of mind boggling, but exceptionally effective when all is said and done. What You Need is another great addition to the wide range of experimental Twilight Zone episodes and one to look out for.

Director: John Brahm
Original Air Date: January 1st 1960

When advertising attacks.

An illusive man, who has the power to morph his own face, masquerades as several local men in an effort to satisfy his own personal urges and financial troubles. This unorthodox form of identity theft leads him down a series of encounters that subsequently seals his fate and lands him on the receiving end of someone else's punishment. Be careful whose identity you steal, especially when you're in The Twilight Zone.

Arch Hammer is a man of many faces. He has led countless lives which were all made possible by the fact that he can transform his face to resemble any person that he has seen. It's a strange ability, but one that has enabled him to satisfy his most darkest of urges and twisted of dreams. Taking advantage of unsuspecting people, Hammer poses as deceased lovers, powerful gangsters, and important men to gain the upper hand in his miserable and unfulfilled life. Having his moral compass skewed, he deceives these people without remorse, approaching the deception as a game, but a game that in the end he must lose.

The irony that can be found at the end of Arch Hammer's story is one of justice, as he poses as a professional boxer Andy Marshak who had wronged his family in the past. This decision ultimately brings about Hammer's death. As Arch Hammer comes face to face with the real Andy Marshak's father, he realizes that not all situations can be escaped from by a twitch of his face or a crinkle of his skin. At this moment, the disgraced father pulls out a pistol and guns down the false image of his hurtful son. This act does not fulfill the true justice that he longed for, but it achieves another form of justice. The one that fills the void created by the selfish and manipulative Arch Hammer, from which so many lives had been effected and plagued by his irresponsible and reckless ability to manipulate the trust of others.

This episode is remarkable and takes an unbelievable idea of a person being able to change their face at will, into a believable and highly plausible reality. The fact that there are so many characters juggled in the first couple of acts and the resulting blow of justice's swift hand during the final moments of the story, prove that The Four of Us Are Dying is an exceptionally original and highly engaging story that has a lot of things to say about the morals of men and the choices that they make.

Director: Richard L. Bare
Original Air Date: January 8th 1960

Get back in the car! You should have went we we at the rest stop.

In a world filled with paranoia and lurking dangers, two Government families decide to hijack a top secret spacecraft and jettison out into space, just before the planet that they know and love is destroyed by a third World War. The plan is simple, but the execution of that plan is more then complicated, especially when all eyes of their ever watchful Government seem to be on them. Can they escape this doomsday and what lies in store for them beyond the furthest reaches of their galaxy?

William Sturka, played by a feverish Fritz Weaver, has just recently become aware of the impossible. The world as he knows it is about to come crashing down and the only thing he can think of is how to ensure the survival of his family. His plight is ever the more real, as we're bombarded with an insanely heavy amount of paranoia that seems to be bursting at the seam in this fictionalized and technologically advanced society. Hatching a scheme to steal the top secret spaceship that he and a friend have been working on, they vie to take their family away from danger and out into the unknown.

I love the intensity of this episode as it really hits home the severity of their situation and the consequences of their failure, both in becoming outlaws and deviants to their respective Government and to meeting their untimely end if they are still grounded when World War III begins. The intense atmosphere never lets up as the story progresses, pressing the two families on as they get ever nearer to their end goal. The inclusion of a dastardly spy in their midst, only serves to amp up the already frenetic tone.

There is a great revelation moment in the closing scene of Third from the Sun, and it really brings the title of the piece home to the viewer. We come to find that the planet that they are escaping from is not the Earth that we know, but another planet that was home to a race of humanoid people. After successfully escaping their home world, they come across an inhabitable blue planet that gleams in the horizon. They read out the information of the planet and to our surprise the planet turns out to be Earth. It's a moment that really flips your perspective on what has been going on and it's absolutely stellar on all fronts.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Original Air Date: January 15th 1960

Where the hell are the bathrooms on this damned planet!

I Shot an Arrow into the Air is another story that emphases the great toll that space travel takes on its participants. This is a theme that runs most true in many tales from The Twilight Zone. A crew of astronauts crash land on a strange and barren planet with no way to communicate back home about the dire situation that they find themselves in. Order breaks down as mens mind's break over the tremendous pressure of not knowing if they'll ever be found or even survive the harsh conditions their up against. This mental lapse in judgement and reason, turns the sophisticated men of science into primal beings as they lash out at each other in order to someway sustain there selves.

I really enjoyed this one for it's demented take on humankind. The episode's portrayal of a mental breakdown of civilization within this small band of astronauts is quite compelling and says a great deal of our own selfish nature when faced with the end. I also love how even the most level headed of the crew still succumbs to this territorial madness, threatening to extinguish any one who compromises the overall well being of the group. It's of course justifiable, but still savage in its truth and that's what makes this episode so enjoyable to watch.

The real kicker in the episode comes in the final moments of the story, when we come to find that they never even left Earth. During the confusion, they crash landed in the desert outside Reno, Nevada and were mere days away from civilization. The horror really hits home when the only surviving crew member comes to realize that he killed his fellow astronauts for nothing. Ain't that a bitch! This is probably one of the best episodes that display how quickly mankind can lose their civility when faced with insurmountable odds.


Friday, April 8, 2011

MY FILM: Among the Fallen Trailer

It's time for another update on my film, Among the Fallen. This time I've got the final trailer for you and it seems that my five year journey with this film is finally coming to a close. I tried to keep the trailer as mysterious and surreal as possible so not to give too much away about the film and at the same time peak people's interests into wanting to dive into this interesting story.

The trailer runs just over two minutes long, but it's packed with some interesting imagery that clearly defines what you're going to get with this film. Well, let's get right down to it and check out the trailer. Let me know what you think because all criticisms and comments are more then welcome. Thanks for checking it out. Enjoy.

Among the Fallen Trailer by jayskitstar

Friday, April 1, 2011

MY FILM: Among the Fallen DVD Art

Hey everyone. I've got some more updates on the status of my first feature film, Among the Fallen. I have just finished putting together the DVD cover artwork, for when I mail out a few copies to a couple local horror film festivals, and the final look of the layout turned out pretty wicked.

As for the film, everything is edited, the sound is complete, all the music has been composed and placed, and all I'm doing now is tweaking with various output settings to see what result looks the best for the final look of the film. It looks like the film should be done within a few weeks. I'll be doing some viewing of the movie over the weekend with a handful of friends to see if there's any problems that need ironed out, but at the moment the end is in sight. Well, enjoy the images below and feel free to comment, critique, and relay your impressions of the artwork. Opinions are welcomed.

The full spread of the layout.

The FRONT cover.

The BACK cover.

Thanks for checking out the work and stay tuned for more info on Among the Fallen.