The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959)

Watching this film, one gets immediately it’s a riff on THE CREATURE FROM812441 THE BLACK LAGOON. It hits all the notes of a fifties monster movie. The stalwart hero/scientist who, along with the town’s doctor, want to capture the creature alive. The heroine taken by the monster in the finale. The crotchety old man, not trusted by most of the town, feeding the monster(he just happens to be the heroine’s father as well). People being killed off in a strange manner until the creature is revealed.

It was the first film by a film company, Vanwick Productions, formed by Jack KeVAN and Irvin BerWICK, two men who’d toiled in obscurity for years at Universal-International, finally leaving to make their own films. Because of the nature of the movie busines at the time, U-I was an ad hoc backer of their efforts, giving them nice deals for equipment combo_monster_of_piedras_blancas_poster_04and vehicles and the use some of their laid off technical people and crew. As most low budget movies did, a lot of props from other films were used. The monster was a “diplovertebron.” It’s feet were cast from molds for the Metaluna Mutant from This Island Earth and the hands from The Mole People.

The cast featured a number of character actors. John Harmon was Sturges, the crochety old Lighthouse Keeper. Forrest Lewis was Constable Matson, who also owned the town cafe. Les Tremayne played Dr. Sam Jorgenson. Actor/stuntman Pete Dunn did double duty as bartender Eddie and the Monster. A crippled little boy named Jimmy, who found one of the bodies was played by Wayne Berwick, son of founder Irvin.

The two principles, Fred(Don Sullivan), and his girl friend, Lucy(Jeanne Carmen), kind of stood out. Fred was like no other scientist in a movie. While10252723_800 most other males wore suits and ties, he wore a white tee shirt, windbreaker, and slacks. We see tats when he strips down to gather specimens from the ocean. And that hair style. Slicked back, duck billed, he more resembled a hood in a gang picture(wasn’t a great actor either). Jeanne Carmen was a cheesecake model and a golf trick shot artist. This was her only lead role in pictures.

Though low budget and black and white, the film was notable for the first significant gore shots in moviedom. The creature totes a severed, bloody head in one shot. Another had the head being crawled over by a crab(see trailer for both). The movie has been lampooned by the kid grown up in a movie he directed with stars John Harmon and Jeanne Carmen in a lighthouse segment. monster-of-piedras-blancas-1959The suit was used in a Flipper episode which was directed by Ricou Browning, who had worn the Gill Man suit for swimming scenes in Creature From the Black Lagoon years before.

Location filming didn’t even include the real Piedras Blancas on the California coast north of San Simeon. Cayucos, about 30 miles south of the real thing sered for the town scenes.

One of those goofy fifties monster films I enjoy.

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New In The House

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!: Revival – Stephen King: the master’s new novel, A dark and electrifying look about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.

2: Fear City – F. Paul Wilson: the third novel in the Repairman Jack Early Years trilogy where the man-in-training we all know is a young man out to avenge the brutal torture-murder of a young woman he knew since high school and had a brief relationship with.

3: Thunder Mountain – Tom Austin: the secong book in the O’Malley saga, a family of the early days of this country.

4: Brave Sonora – Steven Law: Enrique hears that his grandfather is working at a plantation outside Hermosillo, a thriving town in Sonora, Mexico. In Hermosillo,Enrique finds that Arriquibar Sosa, who runs the town with an iron fist, has taken his grandfather prisoner. And when he refuses to become one of Sosa’s thugs, Enrique is taken prisoner as well. Good thing he never travels alone…

5: Storme Front – W.L. Ripley: the second Wyatt Storme mystery. Storme is an iconoclastic ex-footballer living in Colorado who likes a little action now and again. He also can’t resist helping a friend, like the buddy who’s in deep with local dirtball Jackie Burlingame.

6: Storme Warning(review copy) – W.L. Ripley: Brash Books brings us in February the never-before-published fourth novel featuring Wyatt Storme, the ex-football player turned troubleshooter. Vietnam vet and former Dallas Cowboys player Wyatt Storme just wants to be left alone in his remote Ozarks cabin – but violence and trouble have a knack for finding him. A hard-drinking, shockingly lethal ex-CIA agent asks his buddy Storme for back-up when he’s hired by the director of a big budget western to protect a bad-boy movie star who is getting well-deserved death threats.

7: Finding The Sky: The Jo Harper Collection – Richard Prosch: Richard’s four Jo Harper novellas in book form for the first time.

8: Blood Oath – Tom Austin: the first book in the O’Malley saga.

9: Elak of Atlantis – Henry Kuttner: Charles Gramlich reviewed this one and since I like Kuttner…

10: Dragon of The Stars(review copy) – Alex J. Cavanaugh; due out in April, Alex’s new novel finds Lt. Commander Aden Pendar, son of a Hyrathian Duke, poised to secure his own comman and marriage to the Queen’s daughter, and finds his claim denied by the Allaince, who declare war of Hyrath. His only way to slavage everything is the Dragon, a lost ship with a unique weapon.

11: Trail Boss From Texas – Barry Cord: James reviewed this one a few weeks ago. This isn’t my edition, but my printer has been giving me fits and I couldn’t find the cover for my large print hardcover.

and the ebooks:

12: A Case of Noir – Paul D, Brazill: offered free at the moment and since I like Paul’s work, how can one resist.

13: The Many Deaths of Joe Buckley – various authors: a charity edition also reviewed by James Reasoner.

14: The Art of War(review copy) – Shayne Youngblood: The war started so long ago that nobody remembered why it’d started in the first place. Nobody remembered what life before the war had looked like. Nobody wondered what would come after the war. The war was all they’d ever known. Then we came. The Alliance. We intervened for humanitarian reasons.

Ringo and Gringo Against All(Ringo e Gringo Contro Tutti)1966

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RingoEGringoControTuttiIn my exploration of the spaghetti western genre on Saturdays over the last couple of years, I’ve found unusual stuff: stright out horror, a musical, but until RINGO AND GRINGO AGAINST ALL, I’d never ran across a comedy. A slapstick one at that.

It’s seen and a half years since the end of the war. The soldiers of Fort Jackson, somewhere in the Southwestern desert, had been wiped out and Gettysburg and the fort abandoned. But two men had been left to guard the fort: Sgt Gringo(Lando Buzzanca) and Pvt. Ringo(Raimondo Vianello). For them, the war had never ended, the Sgt. continuing to drill the private as if he were a whole troop. By now, all their bullets were used up, food was low, they’d received no pay in all those years, and the private was pretty much disgusted.

The Union came to destroy the fort and they thought they were under attack.1531xqp Jumping on their horse, they beat it out of the fort and the Union soldiers demolishing the fort think they are ghosts.

They arrive at a town and Ringo points at a couple of citizens and asks, “What are they?” The Sgt. casually informs him that they are girls. Ringo says “I forgot why they are different.”

They end up at a party full of Union officers and Southern gentlemen planning business and disrupt it. Things quickly devolve into a Three Stooges skit with pies in faces, slapstick punches, and everyone after them.

109663-ringo-and-gringo-against-all-0-230-0-341-cropExcept for a pair of sisters, dark haired beauties, Virginia(María Martín, billed as Maria Martinez) and Carolina(Mónica Randall). They become attached to the two men, as the only real men left in the South. Ringo fancies Carolina and sings a riff on Carolina On My Mind to her later. They conspire to restart the war(Ringo and Gringo still believe it’s happening).

The Union is looking for them and they need cash to supply an army. The siters turn them in for the thousand dollar reward, then free them with a couple of handy sticks of dynamite in a table drawer.

Later they break into a house to steal gold. Getting into the safe was kind ofimages stupid. Gringo squeezes a candle until it’s soft enough to work, sticks in the keyhole where it conforms to the key shape, and unlocks the door(mind you, it’s only a few seconds and even hardened the wax wouldn’t work. We get a riff on the small box inside a larger box when they find another safe door inside. Repeat with the wax. A smaller door,. The doors keep getting smaller until they find a box that holds the key to the first door.

No gold though.

That’s founsd under a floor board after a silly sequence with a toilet plunger after Ringo swallows a lit cigar. Loading their pockets, they are weighed down, pants sagging and held up only by their suspenders, and march step trying to get out, only to end up back in the same room. They end up going out the window and find themselves buried up to their necks because of the weight of the gold. The two sisters step over them when guards approach, their long skirts hiding the men’s heads. Ringo quite enjoys that.

x240-ZJSWhen they climb out, their pants are still in the holes along with the gold coins.

Their next riff is on Eastwood’s Man With No Name. There’s a five thousand dollar reward for the Left Handed Gun. Ringo wears a poncho and smokes a thin cigar, Gringo is dressed as the Van Cleef character.

All in all, a silly movie. It had it’s moments. Just not enough of them. Buzzanco’s next film was even more of a ripoff. FOR A FEW DOLLARS LESS was the title. Haven’t found an English language version yet.

Finding The Sky: The Jo Harper Collection – Richard Prosch

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FINDING THE SKY collects the four previously published separately as ebooks51aM7P4xEJL Jo Harper stories in this handsome paperback edition. Richard kind of hints there may be more tales in the future.

Jo Harper is a young girl in 1910 Wyoming that gets into adventures with her pal Frog, aided a bit by Abby Drake, the law in tow, a tough minded, pistil toting deputy.

She goes up against rustlers, bank robbers, and even a rife in one of those new fangled Model Ts.

The stories here are:

1. Waiting For A Comet

2: Racing A Dog Star

3: Roping A Planet

4: Shooting The Moon

I’d already picked up and read the four ebooks, but just had to have this fine paperback. The paperback can be ordered HERE.

Silhouette of Virtue – Jay Richards

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41eLJBCQclLIt’s 1973 in a small college town in Southern Illinois.Author Jay Richards gives us a tale set against a backdrop of the end of the war in Vietnam, Watergate, and student protests. The town is rocked by a rapist targeting Asian women as payment for America’s betrayal in Vietnam.

Nathan “Ribs” Rivers is an African-American philosphy professor who steps in to go bail for the only other black faculty member is arrested for the crime. Though he has his own doubts, Rivers takes out another mortgage on his home to raise get a lawyer, wanting to insure a fair trial for the man. Evidence is slim, but everyone seems sure of his guilt.

Rivers soon finds himself assailed from all sides. His live-in love is hurt that he acted without talking to her. He comes under suspicion of plagiarism and using his position to solicit sex from female students. Someone wants him to resign.

But Rivers is stubborn, even in the face of his man’s escape from jail and the police rudely shoving into his home in the middle of the night to search for the escaped prisoner.

Rivers becomes an ad hoc detective as he starts thinking it through and piecing the truth out of it all.

A most excellent novel.

Author Henry Jay Richards, PhD, is a forensic psychologist who specializes in evaluating and treating violent offenders. he puts that knowledge to good use in his story.

Legacy: Trial and Terror – Warren Murphy & Gerald Welch

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51IMD+O5AZLI’ve been a fan of the Destroyer universe going all the way back to the beginning in the early seventies. Never been disappointed except one stretch where neither Murphy or any of the best writers were working. Thankfully things gor back on track.

The LEGACY series concerns Remo Williams’s children half siblings Stone and Freya. Both are trained by their grandfather, Sunny Joe of the Sinanju Indian tribe in the Southwestern United States. Stone is the older and a former Navy Seal, but has less experience than sixteen year old Freya in the Sinanju discipline.

They work for a branch of CURE and deal with terrorists trying to bring down America.

In this latest volume, Trail and Terror, the pair have to deal with a master spy intent on bringing down the American infrastructure. The test case is in Virginia Beach where a computer virus shuts down all electricity grids.

A most enjoyable series and a worthy addition to the Destroyer universe. Author Gerald Welch is also an artist who does the covers. He’s quite accomplished at both

Can be ordered HERE.

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