Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer of Blood: A Look Back at 1963, Part 2

As part of our ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of Blood Feast, more blurbs from BoxOffice magazine about regional horror happenings from that seminal summer.

From the June 10, 1963 issue:

Dave Friedman is making a cross-country tour on behalf of "Scum of the Earth" and "Blood Feast," produced by Friedman and Stanford Kohlberg. "Scum of the Earth" had its initial opening at the Bellvue Drive-In, Peoria, with healthy gross.

Chicago producer Bill Rebane has resumed shooting his "Terror at Half Day," science fiction film, starring June Travis Freidlob ...

Note in the Friedman item that Scum of the Earth was previewed at the very same drive-in where Blood Feast would premiere a month later in July 1963.

There were also more updates about the Flamingo production of Miami Rendezvous, which we earlier established was released as Passion Holiday.

From the June 10, 1963 issue:

21 Miamians Play Roles in 'Miami Rendezvous'

MIAMI -- Shooting on the new full-length color film, "Miami Rendezvous," is under way at Crandon Park, with some interiors being made at the Barcelona Hotel on Miami Beach.

Gloria Izzo, who is handling casting and coordination for producers Irwin and Herb Myers of Flamingo Productions, said camera crews were expected to be working here for a couple of weeks.

Girls in bikinis have been flitting about the Barcelona pool area, strippers have been cavorting in the Bravo Room, and men and women dressed in evening wear have been parading before the camera.

The cast is composed mostly of Miamians, and among those "makng the scene" were Peg Rayborn, Sharon Lee, Virginia Horn, Bobbie Shaw, Lanita Kent, Connie Crump, Harold Richter, Ludovic Huot, Owen Negrin, Pearl Rubin, Gertrude Dean, Monroe Myers, Lou Horn, Ed Bell, Sid Katz, Marion Webber, Eva and Charles Bartfield, John Wentz, Frances Glick and Bob Krantz Jr.

From the July 1, 1963 issue:

Nine Movies Are Planned By Flamingo Productions

MIAMI -- Flamingo Productions completed shooting on "Miami Rendezvous" and already is preparing for its next motion picture here.

At least nine movies are in the planning stage by the newly formed company, headed by Herb Meyer, producer, and Irwin Meyer, producer-director. Their next film will be a horror picture with a psychopathic theme.

Gloria Izzo, casting director and production coordinator, announced that casting for the new picture will begin this month and that shooting will be started in mid-July. 

"Miami Rendezvous" is a full-length suspense-adventure feature, with mostly local talent. All scenes were made in the South Florida area.

The producers cite the following conditions as being favorable to the output of low-budget pictures:

"Excellent filming weather 12 months of the year; many expert technicians available, already skilled in their trade, who prefer living in the Miami area; a wide variety of locations within a 100-mile radius, such as dense jungles, barren beaches, unspoiled islands, cattle ranches and horse-breeding farms, modern metropolitan cities, fabulous hotels, Seminole Indians and villages, a huge modern airport complex and Caribbean settings, plus excellent facilities such as studios, sound stages, etc., for processing film."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Trailer of the Week Gandolfini Edition: Shock! Shock! Shock! (1987)

Little known fact: James Gandolfini, who died suddenly last week, made his film debut in this New York-lensed, black-and-white indie production. His face is in shadow, and his voice is dubbed, but it's him.

You can read a nice review of the film, which was a mainstay of the old Rhino Records catalog, over at Bleeding Skull. And here's a short piece written by the guy who dubbed his voice.

Co-director Todd Rutt later worked on the subversive faux kiddie show Wonder Showzen, and the other co-director, Arn McConnell, exists online under the guise of Craven Lovelace.

There's no real trailer for this flick, but here's Gandolfini's brief appearance:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

BoxOffice, June 11, 1973

Two trade ads from the industry rag, 40 years ago.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Zaat's a Wrap: Donald Barton, 1930-2013

When I first began working on what eventually became my book, Regional Horror Films, one of the first directors I reached out to interview was Don Barton. Barton was an industrial/commercial filmmaker in Jacksonville, Fla., whose sole venture into feature filmmaking had been the crazed, 1950s-style monster flick Zaat (a.k.a. The Bloodwaters of Dr. Z).

Barton and his monster suit. Image: Jon M. Fletcher/Times-Union

I first encountered the film under its Bloodwaters title on late-night TV, and caught it again as an episode of Mystery Science Theater. When I began researching the book, I discovered that not only did Barton still live in Florida, but he still had the Zaat monster suit in his garage, and had been organizing screenings of the film with the help of Zaat Fan Numero Uno, Ed Tucker.

Within a few years, Barton's film had been re-released on VHS and, just recently, in a DVD/Blu-ray special edition from Cultra.

If you've only seen Zaat in the washed-out, pan-and-scan versions that used to play on TV, the DVD will serve as a revelation. The film itself (which boasts a great human/catfish hybrid monster) isn't any better than you remember, but with its vibrant color intact and in its original aspect ratio, you can at least appreciate Barton's skill as a low-budget filmmaker. There may not be traditional artistry on display (although that creature suit really is something), but there is certainly craftsmanship at work.

Barton died last week of complications from obstructive pulmonary disease, according to an article in the Jacksonville press. The day he passed, he was scheduled to attend yet another screening of Zaat, this one to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Marineland, where movie was filmed.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, his nine children, 23 grandchildren, and of course, Zaat.

Make sure you check out the Zaat website, and the videos below.