The Man With the Codfish Eyes

British actor Donald Pleasence has played his fair share of nutters and villains through the years from infamous grave robber William Hare in The Flesh and the Fiends (1960) to Blofeld, James Bond’s nemesis, in You Only Live Twice (1967) to the dangerous religious fanatic in Will Penny (1968) to the insane scientist of The Mutations aka The Freakmaker (1974). At the same time, he has also specialized in playing cold, analytical authority figures who, while on the side of good, is often more unsettling than comforting as in his iconic role as Dr. Loomis in Halloween (1978) and four of its sequels. His portrayal of Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, the most notorious murderer of the Edwardian Age, in Dr. Crippen (1963), however, doesn’t really fit into either category and displays yet another side of the Pleasence persona – a quiet, unassertive enigma, a blank slate for us to fill in the details. The eyes, which reveal nothing, seem to look right through you. 

Donald Pleasence as arch villain Blofeld in the James Bond adventure YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967).
Continue reading

The Forgotten Rock Opera

Now here is a curiosity that I plucked from a pile of discarded DVDs at a television station. I knew absolutely nothing about The Butterfly Ball (1977) except for the fact that I had seen it listed as a credit in Vincent Price’s filmography. So I popped it into the DVD player and immediately had a psychedelic flashback to the early seventies. The Butterfly Ball is, on the surface, a filmed rock opera that was staged at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1975 and featured an all-star cast of British musicians, a few celebrities (supermodel Twiggy and Vincent Price) and some local talent (The Trinity School of Croyden Boys Choir), performing songs and verse from a score composed by Roger Glover, best known as the bassist and songwriter/composer of Deep Purple.    Continue reading

The Devil Made Me Do It

The Blood on Satan's ClawLooking for a Halloween film to creep you out? How about The Blood on Satan’s ClawContinue reading

…And Bob Dylan Plays a Chainsaw-Wielding Conceptual Artist.

Bob Dylan in Backtrack aka Catchfire (1990)

Bob Dylan in Backtrack aka Catchfire (1990)

Sometimes the casting in a film is so peculiar and unique that you feel compelled to take a chance on it no matter how many negative things you’ve heard about it. Wouldn’t you want to see a movie that featured Jodie Foster, Vincent Price, Joe Pesci, Charlie Sheen, Dean Stockwell, Bob Dylan and numerous other well-known stars? Such is the case with 1990’s Catchfire, one of Dennis Hopper’s least known movies but there’s a reason for that.   Continue reading