Saturday, June 17, 2023

The Trap (1922)

Just when you think you've seen all the Lon Chaney films that have been found, another one gets cleaned up and rereleased. I recently picked up the Kino release of what is claimed to be Lon Chaney's first starring role in a film, The Trap. By all accounts on IMDb, he had appeared in over 100 films and shorts prior to starring in this film. Like many other Chaney films I've seen, he plays a character who has been wronged, which makes it a perfect vehicle for him to demonstrate his talent at changing his appearance from one of innocent benevolence to crazed and vengeful. 

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Messiah of Evil (1974)

I decided to watch something from 50 years ago by selecting a title from my 1973 movies and landed on Messiah of Evil. It wasn't until I went to write this post that I realized the incorrect date was listed on the Film Detective DVD, and it had actually been released in 1974. If not for that error, I may have been writing about Jesus Christ Superstar today instead. It seems to be an era for messianic movies.

"A hundred years ago, the moon started turning red up in the sky and things began to happen. It was like the redder the moon got up there, the closer the people were being jerked toward hell. Well, the people started bleeding out of control. They found children eating raw meat. It was like the town was festering with an open sore, until the night that they...until the night they came down out of the canyon and..."

Friday, June 9, 2023

A Musical Digression from the 1970s

I interrupt this blog to make the following announcement:

Jim Croce

If you belong to the Aging Broad's generation that had formative years in the 1970s, then you may enjoy checking out The Midnight Special TV Show YouTube channel. You may still enjoy it even if you aren't a part of that generation, though it holds a special nostalgia for those of us growing up at the time. For the past several months, they have been uploading episodes and performances from artists of the era in honor of the show's 50th year anniversary, including Fleetwood Mac, Jim Croce, Linda Rondstadt, Willie Nelson, Journey, Steely Dan, Al Green, King Crimson, Tina Turner and many more musical artists. The show also featured comedians such as George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Steve Martin, and had interviews of musical artists. 

What's different about this show from others of the time is that artists performed live, unlike on American Bandstand or Solid Gold, where they lip-synched their most popular tunes. In the era before MTV, many of us had never seen these bands perform and knew them solely from hearing their music on the radio or records, quite often through those memorable K-Tel albums that provided wondrous collections of the top hits. Seeing these live performances provides a whole new experience and understanding of the performers and their showmanship. I have a newfound appreciation for Genesis. I mean... I had no idea.

Since this is a blog about movies, I would like to provide an excuse for this digression by noting that music connects us to time and place, eliciting feelings and memories, which can be used to great effect in film, as I was considering while recently revisiting Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I have no affiliation with Burt Sugarman's The Midnight Special and share this channel only because it brings me joy, and hope it does for you as well. 

Let me hear you say Yeah!


Alice Cooper


Donna Summer

The Byrds



Willie Nelson

Dolly Parton

David Bowie

George Carlin

Rod Stewart and Faces with Keith Richards

Richard Pryor

Tina Turner

Fleetwood Mac

Chuck Berry and The Bee Gees

David Bowie


Message from Blondie:

"The abuse of nuclear power is merely a symptom 
of our troubled time. It is time for all Americans 
to take control of their own lives 
and stop being pushed around and poisoned. 
The race for nuclear superiority 
can only end with the destruction of civilization."

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Don't Bother to Knock (1952)

This month, the Criterion Channel is featuring a collection of films by Marilyn Monroe. I've seen quite a few of her films, so was pleasantly surprised to discover a film I'd not seen before, Don't Bother to Knock, which also has Anne Bancroft providing some lovely lounge music and Richard Widmark looking for love in all the wrong places. 

"The way you treat people. The way you think about them. All you can focus on is the cold outside of things, the simple facts. Not any causes of why's or wherefores. Oh, you're sweet. And you're fun. And you're hard. And you lack something that I ask for in a man." 

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Whatever Happened to The Season of Horror?

This post is part of a new series I'm calling Stale Crumbs, a collection of posts I've written months or years ago that have never been published. Hopefully, they won't be as unpalatable as actual stale crumbs. Of course, it's entirely possible the Stale Crumbs series may end up going nowhere, that my posts on The Dunwich Horror, Psych-Out, and Mystery of the Wax Museum, among others, may continue to lurk in draft form. I always have the best intentions to get back into blogging and then something suddenly comes up. 

The following post was written back in January 2023.

My absence from blogging during this year's Season of Horror may have led my dwindling readership to ponder whether the Aging Broad may have made it to the final curtain. Good news, everyone! I'm still here. Despite not finding time to write, the Season of Horror came. Somehow or other, it came just the same. Here are a few highlights from this year's viewing:

I started off by diving into an exploration of the many movies based on the Mexican folktale of La Llorona

I saw The Conjuring and this felt like more of the same with La Llorona as the featured malevolent spirit. It had some scary elements that ended up being less effective since I'd seen them before. Meh. 


This movie didn't make much sense, was poorly written and, for the most part, terribly acted. I should have listened to other reviewers who said the same thing. There were a few parts that made me laugh, though that was not the intention, and my misplaced amusement did not make up for the WTF feeling I had through the rest of the film. 

"Vaya con dios, Maria."

La Llorona (2019)
This retelling does not adhere strictly to the traditional legend and focuses more on the Mal hombre who wronged La Llorona. Interesting and well done. Unsettling more than scary. It is the best of all versions I watched. 

La Llorona (1933)
This version seemed more of a mystery than horror. It covers two of the folklore origins which makes for a long digression, but also gives it a greater sense of authenticity. I enjoy it mostly for the period in which it was made, which makes it my favorite version of the tale thus far.

La Llorona (1960)
I enjoyed this retelling, though it was rather frustrating that La Llorona was reluctant to carry out her curse in the end. She may have had the best wail of all the Lloronas. "Ay! Mis hijooooooos!"

Next, I revisited some movies featured in the '80s Horror Collection on the Criterion Channel. 

Near Dark (1987) 
I've seen a lot of vampire movies. For the time, this was a novel take and is still enjoyable to watch. 


Christine (1983)
I have not seen this since the '80s. As with many movies based on King novels, the book is better. Quite a bit is lost in the screen adaptation. 

After that, I got sidetracked by Noirvember before returning to some classic horror. 

I watched this on Thanksgiving. It's a great movie that the whole family can enjoy, especially Raymond Burr fans. I do enjoy him, but the constant voiceover does detract. 


Gojira (1954)
Of course, I had to follow up with the original Godzilla, which is much more enjoyable without the incessant narration. It's interesting to revisit this well known movie monster from childhood and wonder how it became such a beloved monster. Son of Godzilla may have been a factor.


Now this was a real humdinger! Bela Lugosi engineers a giant bat that kills anyone wearing a special aftershave he formulated in order to exact revenge on his greedy employers who have enriched themselves from his work while he remains a poor mad scientist. This bat has a wail that could rival La Llorona. It's an absolutely ludicrous movie that entertains nonetheless. 

Somehow I missed out on my usual 70s horror fare this season. That will have to be remedied during the next Season of Horror. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Spring Into Folk Horror: Witchcraft (1964)

The British really know how to do folk horror, and Witchcraft is a fine example of the genre. It is beautifully filmed with a foreboding atmosphere, centered around a centuries old family feud. Lon Chaney Jr. shows up intermittently to bellow and shake his cane at his adversaries, though he becomes a more frightening figure when leading sacrificial rites. 

"Born in evil. Death in burning."

The Whitlocks have understandably had it out for the Laniers for centuries after the Laniers buried Vanessa Whitlock alive as punishment for being a witch and subsequently took over the Whitlock family land and homes. When the Laniers foolishly decide to develop the land and dig up the Whitlock cemetery, Vanessa is inadvertently released from her coffin just in time to celebrate Roodmas with a Lanier sacrifice, getting revenge on the Laniers along the way with some well placed poppets. 


This is a film that can be enjoyed more for the creepy visuals than the traditional story of witches who've been wronged or a star-crossed romance. While it's not clear why Vanessa is a silent witch, whether she forgot how to use her voice after 300 years of internment or she just doesn't have much to say, it certainly makes her a more frightening figure. It's unfortunate this trait wasn't shared by Morgan Whitlock, who could have been far more menacing with a less bellicose and loud manner when expressing his seething anger towards the Laniers. It is difficult to understand why the Laniers would want to live in a house formerly owned by witches or why they couldn't foresee any issues with bulldozing a cemetery where one of their ancestors had buried a witch alive. I believe the Whitlocks may have exacted some measure of revenge in the end, though probably not in the way they had preferred.