In the Mouth of Madness

This unspeakably horrific review of John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness originally appeared on Teleport City on October 27, 2009 – as a part of H.P. Lovecraft month..


Release Year: 1994
Country: United States
Starring: Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jurgen Prochnow, David Warner, John Glover, Bernie Casey, Peter Jason, Charlton Heston, Frances Bay
Writer: Michael de Luca
Director: John Carpenter
Cinematographer: Gary B. Kibbe
Music: John Carpenter, Jim Lang
Producer: Michael de Luca

My journey to reviewing this film was a long and tortuous one — but not for any of the reasons you’re thinking of. As Teleport City’s work experience boy, I have to not only put up with the constant torment of my betters, — the other day they sent me out for a left handed DVD remote (ha, real funny guys) — but I also get excluded from some projects. Here, let me explain how it all happened. Doubt of the real facts, as I must reveal them, is inevitable; yet, if I suppressed what will seem extravagant and incredible, there would be nothing left. At the beginning of October, at the start of the H.P. Lovecraft month, I walked into the Teleport City Viewing Centre and found the Keith and Todd were already there and locked in one of the viewing rooms.

I knocked on the door. Initially there was no answer, so I knocked again — a little louder this time. Finally the door opened marginally. Not enough for me to enter the room, but enough to see my colleagues. But something was strange. Todd, well he looked like Todd — always dapper. But Keith, well you know how he likes to live out the movies he watches? He was wearing a ram’s head as a hat, and had a white python coiled around his arm.

“What’s going on,” I asked.

“Nothing you’d be interested in,” Keith answered.

“How do you know?” I questioned feebly.

“Because it’s scary David. You know you don’t like horror films,” Todd interjected — almost sneering at me like I was some kind of freak.

“But don’t worry, Dave,” Keith continued, “we’ve queued up a Alberto de Martino Eurospy film for you in room two.” I almost fell for it and went off to watch the spy film. But then I though about it and it dawned on me.

“Hang on!” I blurted. “You guys are doing a feature, aren’t you?” Todd looked down at the floor sheepishly. I could tell I was right.

“We didn’t think you be interested,” Keith continued.

“Sure, I’m interested. What’s the topic?”

“Lovecraft,” Keith answered.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“H.P. Lovecraft,” Keith said. Then he looked at me kind of weirdly, when he could see that the name wasn’t registering with me. I shrugged. “David stick to your spy films for now okay?” The door was slammed in my face.

I wasn’t going to leave it at that. But I went and watched the spy film (naturally). Later that evening I returned to the Teleport City Viewing Centre only to find that my key no longer fitted the front door. Furthermore, a large, thick padlocked chain had been attached around the handles to the door. Clearly nobody wanted me poking around inside. Still, I was determined to acquire a DVD to watch and review.

Finding a ladder, I climbed up on to the roof. At this moment an unseasonal snowstorm had kicked in. As I clawed my way across the gabled rooftop I was buffeted by intermittent gusts of terrible icy wind; whose cadences sometimes held vague suggestions of a wild and half sentient musical piping, with notes extending over a wide range, and which for some subconscious mnemonic reason seemed to me disquieting and even dimly terrible.

Prying open the skylight, I lowered myself into the darkness. Stumbling about, I made my way to the lightswitch and turned it on. All my years of watching fantastical events and creatures on the cinema screen could not prepare me for what I saw before me. Keith and Todd had been busy. The viewing room had been converted into a makeshift laboratory and staked out on an examination table was some kind of creature. Clearly, it was amphibian, and probably adapted to long airless hibernation periods as well. Vocal organs seemed present in connection with the main respiratory system, but they presented anomalies beyond immediate solution. Articulate speech, in the sense of syllable utterance, seemed barely conceivable, but musical piping notes covering a wide range were highly probable. The muscular system was almost prematurely developed. The nervous system was so complex and highly developed as to leave me completely aghast.

Though excessively primitive and archaic in some respects, the thing had a set of ganglial centers and connectives arguing the very extremes of specialized development. Its five-lobed brain was surprisingly advanced, and there were signs of a sensory equipment, served in part through the wiry cilia of the head, involving factors alien to any other terrestrial organism. Probably it has more than five senses, so that its habits could not be predicted from any existing analogy. It must, I concluded have been a creature of keen sensitiveness and delicately differentiated functions in its primal world – much like the ants and bees of today. It reproduced like the vegetable cryptogams, especially the Pteridophyta, having spore cases at the tips of the wings and evidently developing from a thallus or prothallus. Or so I thought. But I didn’t really have time for this right now. I was looking for a DVD. Feeling alone, and slightly nauseated, I quickly searched the room looking for DVDs. Shunted against the far wall were the discarded television sets, DVD players and an assortment of disks. I grabbed the first disk I could reach. It was John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness and quickly made my retreat before I went insane.

All the above, of course, is my shameful little H.P. Lovecraft pastiche, borrowing heavily from At the Mountains of Madness (let’s be honest, ‘plagiarising’ – hey, stop throwing things at the screen and calling me a wanker!). I wrote it for two reasons. Firstly, to explain how feeble my knowledge of Lovecraft is (so please be gentle — stop throwing stuff!). And secondly, as it pertains to this review, although it is hard to gauge from the portions I have appropriated above — At the Mountains of Madness bares more than a passing resemblance to John’s Carpenter’s colourful chewing gum horrorfest The Thing.

The original The Thing (The Thing from Another World), credited to director Christian Nyby, but most film critics (and fans) suggest that Howard Hawks, who produced the film, was also the director, is the tale of a group of soldiers and scientists in the Arctic. There they discover a giant flying saucer buried under the ice. The film tapped into the McCarthy Communism paranoia that was prevalent at the time. However, John Carpenter, in his 1980 remake gave the film a darker, colder, and more foreboding edge. Special effects had come a long way by that time too, and Carpenter, in several set-pieces featuring ‘the Thing’ of the title presented some disturbing imagery. Obviously The Thing is not a Lovecraft story, but Lovecraft’s influence can clearly be seen in the way that Carpenter handled the material. The ’50s version may have been an anti-communist allegory, but this version was steeped in a sense of ‘horror’.

It’s territory that Carpenter returned to once again for the film In the Mouth of Madness. Once again it is not based directly on one of Lovecraft’s stories, but Carpenter and screenwriter Michael de Luca draw from the Lovecraftian well and tap into the Cthulhu mythology. But what do I know, I am just the ‘work experience’ boy.

As the film begins, a printing press is pumping out copies of a paperback novel called Hobb’s End Horror by a novelist called Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow). On the back cover of the book, the follow-up novel, In The Mouth of Madness is promised to be ‘coming soon!’ Meanwhile an ambulance arrives at a Mental Institution with a new patient, John Trent (Sam Neill). Brought in, wrapped in a straight jacket, Trent is shunted into one of the padded cells. He claims that he is not insane, but he words fall upon deaf ears. Soon after his arrival a specialist, Dr. Wrenn (David Warner) comes interrogate Trent — to find out if he is insane, or simply a man looking for a place to hide. Trent begins retelling his story.

The film flashes back. Trent is a hot shot freelance insurance investigator. He meets his employer Robinson (Bernie Casey) at a coffee shop to talk about his next assignment. It appears that the insurance company is on the verge of paying out Arcane Publishing after the disappearance of the Sutter Cane, their number one cash-cow. Robinson is not sure if Sutter Cane has gone missing, or if it is just a big publicity stunt. As they talk, from across the street, a man walks out of a building holding an axe. He crosses the street and stands at the window of the coffee shop adjacent to Trent. Trent and Robinson, deep in conversation are oblivious to the axeman’s presence, that is until he smashes the glass with his axe. Trent falls to the ground. As the axeman stands above him, he asks, ‘Do you read Sutter Cane?’ Trent is unresponsive. The axeman begins to bring the blade down, but at that moment, he is cut down by a volley of shots from a police officer’s pistol.

After the drama, it’s off to work for Trent. He goes to Arcane Publishing to look into the Sutter Cane disappearance. There, he meets the head guy, Jackson Harglow (Charlton Heston) who explains that Sutter Cane disappeared two months ago, but sent two chapters of his new book to his agent only two weeks ago. Here, it is also suggested that Sutter Cane’s books have been known to have weird psychological effects on weak-minded readers. This is borne out by the fact that the axeman who had tried to take Trent’s head was Sutter Cane’s agent. It is suggested that the new book is so powerful, that it drove the agent insane.

Trent is not convinced. He thinks it is all some kind of scam. But he chooses to do a little research. On his way home, he stops at a book store and buys Sutter Cane’s previous novels. His idea that it is a hoax gains credibility when he realizes that if you rip the covers off Cane’s books, and cut around the line in the illustrations, that they in fact form a map. A map to the fictitious city of Hobb’s End – the setting for the last Sutter Cane novel.

Trent returns to Arcane Publishing to present his evidence. Harglow claims to be unaware of the hidden map of the book covers. All he wants is either proof that Cane is alive — which is good, because he can write more novels, and Arcane can make more money — or that Cane is dead. Then they can collect the insurance. But what is needed is proof. Trent decides to find Cane. To do this, he is going to follow the map to Hobb’s End. With the assistance of Linda Styles (Julie Carmen), an editor, from Arcane Publishing, Trent goes on a road trip to verify if Sutter Cane is really missing or if this is just one giant publicity gimmick.

The film is essentially a three act play; the first section looks at mass consumerism and marketing, and here the character of Sutter Cane (although we haven’t seen him in the movie, yet) is presented as a Stephen King like figure. The public is eagerly awaiting the publication of the next book — so much so, that the fans are rioting in the streets an destroying bookstores. Is this hysteria (or marketing push) any different to the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or even Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol (his follow up to The DaVinci Code)? I know they are different genres, but back in the 1980s, Stephen King was the man — he was the ‘Dan Brown’. There was no one bigger. Carpenter even made a film of King’s novel Christine. In the 1990s, when this film was made, some of the gloss had faded from King (I think it had moved across to John Grisham), but King was still big business.

The second act of this movie is the horror part in Hobb’s End — almost encroaching on quasi zombie territory. These are the films weakest scenes. Don’t get me wrong, they are effective and there is some good slimy monster effects, but this is old ground for Carpenter who has made so many classic horror films.

The third act is, if you’ll pardon my French, is the ‘mind fuck’. This is where the story rips the linear story-telling rug right from under you, and allows the viewer to wallow in some manufactured insanity. These scenes are probably too brief and Trent goes from a man fighting to hold on to his sanity to fully-fledged nutter within a few short scenes. This is coupled with Sutter Cane’s assertion that he has become God. Why is he God? He sells more books than the Bible, and if more people believe in him, then as the creator, he is God. Here the film turns conventional story telling on its head.
What New Zealand readers will already know, but the rest of the world may be oblivious to, is that we Aussies tend to claim artists, performers, and even race horses from other countries, as our own. For example; Mel Gibson — he was born in the US, but because he moved to Australia as a teenager and got all his acting breaks here, we claim him as one of our own. As a country New Zealand has borne the brunt of this creative theft. Some of Australia’s most prominent acting talent, are in fact Kiwis. Russell Crowe is a Kiwi, and so is Sam Neill (but we try not to hold that against him).

The thing about Sam Neill though, is that he is always working. He’ll do small Australian or New Zealand films, or he’ll do big Hollywood blockbusters. Naturally it’s the blockbusters that garner the attention, and usually in these films, Neill plays a likable ‘everyman’. He doesn’t get to many action roles. More often portrays thinkers (scientist types), and he often plays a father. Generally the guy is downright likable and morally upstanding. When he was doing promotion for the Australian crime flick Dirty Deeds, he claimed that he only took the role because he got to say ‘fuck’ on screen. This probably illustrates how middle-of-the-road and mainstream his image had become, and how he wanted to shake it up. (Then again, Neill could have just been joking because he also said that he took that role because Bryan Brown stood over him with a crowbar and threatened to break his legs!). But I digress.

Neill’s role in In the Mouth of Madness harks back to his first big break, which was as Damien Thorn in The Final Conflict. The film was the weakest of the three original Omen films, but Neill showed he could be charming, charismatic and devilish too. Here, as Trent, he is snide, sarcastic and cynical — not the nice ‘everyman’ we are used to. His job as an insurance investigator has made him this way after years of uncovering fraudsters and phonies. His view of humanity is somewhat jaded. Yet, somehow, he sees him self as being above this corruption. He also sees himself as a man grounded in reality — at least when the film starts. But then he slowly, after delving into Sutter Cane’s book, begins to have hallucinations. As the story arc continues these hallucinations become a bigger part of Trent’s life until they are in fact reality, and the vestiges of the real world are fantasy.

At the end, the film spins into a deliberate self-referential vortex, where the film In the Mouth of Madness tells the story of a book called In the Mouth of Madness, which is then made into a film called In the Mouth of Madness. Or more simply, the story suggests that the film that the viewer (in this case, me) is watching, is in fact the film version of the novel depicted within the film. Sound simple enough? And therefore, if the characters in the film go insane from reading the book, then by watching the film, the viewer (me) will go insane.

With that ouroborosian premise, there is no way that In the Mouth of Madness can end with a traditional ‘happy ending’ with equilibrium return to its natural state. But the ending is the right one for this film, leaving your mind to connect the dots of the fractured story line. But I don’t think there is a linear story thread to be found. The reality is what you make it. Now we come to the ‘Rox’ or ‘Sux’ part of the review. What did I think of In the Mouth of Madness? I enjoyed it immensely. The narrative, by necessity it choppy and the sum of the films parts don’t really add up to a whole, but a John Carpenter misfire is far more interesting and entertaining than many people’s successes.

And just to sign off on this review, I noticed a strange little bit in the credits, just after the section about ‘no animals were hurt during the making of this film…’ It’s Possibly Carpenter’s last word on the insanity that this film suggests that it invokes — and possibly, what waits outside once you’ve finished viewing the film. It said:

‘Human interaction was monitored by the Interplanetary Psychiatric Association.?The body count was high, the casualties are heavy.’

Did it say that, or did I say that. Or have I gone insane?

In the Mouth of Madness

Superseven Calling Cairo (1965)

Country: Italy / France
Starring: Roger Browne, Fabienne Dali, Massimo Serato, Dina De Santis, Rosalba Neri, Antonio Gradoli, Mino Doro
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Music: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
Original Title: Superseven chiama Cairo

There are heaps of styles of spy films, but I think the ones I enjoy the most are the jet-set globe trotters from the 1960s. You can often tell a globe-trotter by its title, which often had the name of the city or country where the action was set. If a spy story uses an exotic location, then it wasn’t unusual for that location to be mentioned in the title. The roll call of holiday destinations for spies included, Our Man In Havana, Funeral In Berlin, That Man In Istanbul, Espionage In Tangiers, The Girl From Rio, Assassination In Rome, Our Man In Marrakech, Fury In The Orient, Hong Kong Hot Harbour, Our Man In Jamaica and many, many others. Having said all that, of course, just because a film is set in a particular location, it doesn’t mean it was actually filmed there. In fact most Eurospy films were shot on sound-stages in Rome, with a series of travelogue shots crudely inserted into them. The travelogue shots were at best, filmed by a second unit team, or at worst, simply stock footage. The film under the microscope today is Superseven Calling Cairo, directed by Umberto Lenzi, and it looks like in this instance, that a decent second unit team was hired to pick up the shots required for the film, with locations as diverse as London, Paris, Rome, Locarno, and of course, Cairo.

The film stars the impossibly square-jawed Robert Browne as Martin Stevens, Agent Superseven. See what they did there? He’s not 007, 077, or even agent 777 – Superseven is even better – he’s ‘Super’. The film opens in Paris, and Superseven is in a hotel room, delicately chewing on the bottom lip of a strawberry blonde. Just as things are about to get steamy, she pulls away, claiming to have forgotten an appointment with the Turkish Military Attache. She has promised to deliver a cheque to him – the catch being that first, Superseven has to write the cheque. This lovey-dovey scenario is actually a mission, and Superseven is buying … something. We never find out what it is, because as he is writing the cheque, in the mirror he watches as she retrieves a pistol from her handbag. In a flash he spins around, and flicks around the pen he was using to write with – because it is also a gun. He fires twice, shooting her in the belly. Chalk one up for Martin Stevens — Mr. Kiss Kiss Kill Kill!

The film skips ahead to London, and to the Waterloo Museum which actually houses the Secret Service. Stevens bypasses the historically dressed manikins and old armaments, for his mission briefing with the chief, who is known as The Professor. The Prof. Asks if Stevens has heard of Baltonium. The agent says he hasn’t, and The Prof. explains that it is a new element which is one hundred times more radioactive than uranium – but it can be handled in complete safety, like any other ordinary, stable mineral. Furthermore, a three ounce sample of Baltonium has been stolen, and the metal turned into a piece of the lens of portable movie camera. This camera, and fifty other normal versions just like it have been shipped to Cairo, where the dealer was supposed to pass the sample off to a third party who had made arrangements to sell it to Russia.

However, the ‘special’ camera was unwittingly sold to a tourist by mistake. Stevens’ job, should he choose to accept it, is to go to Cairo, track down the tourist, and retrieve the camera and the Baltonium before the opposition can. Of course, ‘our man’ accepts the mission.

Although it’s highly doubtful that Roger Browne actually left Rome; Martin Stevens, Agent Superseven, arrives in Cairo and the montage of travelogue shots begins; interspersed with shots of Stevens and sweaty looking locals with twitching mustaches, wearing fezzes. Superseven is expected however, and the villains of the piece, headed by an ex-Nazi named Alex (Massimo Serato) have prepared a reception committee for him. As far as reception committees go, this one isn’t too bad. As Stevens arrives at his hotel room he finds Fadja Hassan (Rosalba Neri) in his shower. She claims that the shower in her room next door is broken. Stevens doesn’t buy it, but what the heck – he has only just arrived in town and there is already a naked women in his room – what’s not to like?

So then the mating ritual begins. In spy films, romance, and ‘pulling a bird’ are quite different to real life. Well I guess that’s true in any movie or television show, but at least in other genres they tend to play out the usual boy meets girl moments – minus the awkward moments that happen in real life – but spy films there is no effort made at pretending that there is an attraction. In Superseven she abuses him, and then he abuses her. Then he grabs her, drags her in and kisses her. She appears not to like it, and he doesn’t care if she likes it or not. Then they sleep together. I am no expert, but being smarmy and obnoxious has never worked for me. But look at all the spies that this works for — I mean Tony Kendall in the Kommissar X films made a career out of being a jerk, but still was always surround by a bevy of beautiful women. I just don’t get it. But hey, it works for Roger Browne and the story moves forward because of it.

But Superseven is more than a one woman guy, and Cairo serves up many other women he can abuse, and the next one is Denise (Fabienne Dali). Denise was working at the camera shop, where the movie camera was sold to the tourist, so our hero quickly hits on her. Initially she is repulsed, but still agrees to take a few weeks leave and accompany him as he searches the tourist destinations. He wins her over by confessing that ‘he is a spy… you know, like James Bond.’ The magic words ‘James Bond’ are the clincher and soon our dynamic duo are on a camel at the pyramids of Giza.

Although, at the head of this review, I opined that I prefer my spy films to be globe-trotting ones, I believe it is the globe-trotting that lets this film down. Not that there is anything wrong with the travelogue and second unit footage that is cut into the story. The things is, focusing on globe-trotting seems to have gotten in the way of pace and story telling. Director, Umberto Lenzi, in the 1970s, with many of his hard and fast Euro Crime films, proved that he can make taut, and tough films, with proficient action scenes in them. It didn’t matter that they were almost bound to the one city, such as Rome, Milan or Naples. In fact, he made that work in favour of the stories. But here, much of the time is wasted on shots that simply seem to be inserted into the story for the sake of the location. The sequence at the pyramids is a perfect example – cutting it from the movie, wouldn’t detract from the story at all. But then again, when you promote your film as being set in Egypt, I guess some skylarking amongst the antiquities is expected. But it doesn’t make it a better film.

Ultimately, despite all the things that this film does right, the stodgy middle and the padding travelogue shots stop Superseven Calling Cairo from being a top-tier Eurospy film. It isn’t a stinker — it is at least comprehensible and provides a few high-points — but there are far better Eurospy films out there to sample and enjoy. This one is for completists only, all others should give it a miss.

Superseven Calling Cairo (1965)

Ninja Dixon – a great site

I have been a bit slack in my reviews of ‘world’ spy movies this year – long work days, and extended travel time have seen to that (giving me more time to read, and less to watch films). But there are many great websites out there that look at the more obscure Bond influenced spy films from around the world.

Recently I stumbled upon the fantastic blog, House of Ninja Dixon. Here are a few of the tasty spy treats he has served up recently.

• Firstly Bond 303 which stars Jeetendra in this Bollywood Bond ripoff – if the title doesn’t give that tidbit away! I have a copy of this tucked away somewhere, but have never taken the time to watch it. Maybe it’s time!

• Next there’s the Thai spy spoof Operation Black Panther starring Sombat Methanee

• Then the harshly treated Eurospy classic Operation Kid Brother starring Neil Connery.

• Shaw Brothers Interpol 009.

• Then the curious James Band 007, which features R2D2 and C3PO?

Why not head over and have a look around?

Ninja Dixon – a great site

Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit

Permission to Kill is now a proud member of M.O.S.S. – the Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit, and to paraphrase (steal) Blofeld’s speech from Thunderball – ‘we are a dedicated fraternity whose strength lies in the integrity of its members’.

The individual MOSSmen and MOSSettes are a pretty phenomenal bunch of bloggers and podcasters who, when combined, like a Power Rangers MegaZord, are responsible for a truly staggering pool of esoteric information and obsession. Be sure to check out the other M.O.S.S. sites for your daily does of pop-culture and cult needs:

Beth Loves Bollywood
The Cultural Gutter
Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill!
Fist of B-List
The Greatest Movie Ever
The Horror!?
Memsaab Story
Million Monkey Theater
Monster Island Resort
Tars Tarkas
Teleport City
WtF Film

But wait, there’s more – check out the Facebook Fan Page and Twitter feed, for an up to date direct connection with the Minions of M.O.S.S.

Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit

The Deighton Dossier: Len Deighton Q & A

Rob Mallow’s blog The Deighton Dossier has achieved the impossible (well the almost impossible) –  an interview with legendary spy novelist Len Deighton.

Parts One, Two and Three are all up now at the Dossier, comprising the entire interview session. In the first part, the author discusses his writing habits, what he’s working on now, and the Harry Palmer movies (including the never-filmed Horse Under Water).

Fan art for the unmade Harry Palmer film, 'Horse Under Water'.

This is, of course, essential reading for all spy fans. To head across, click here!

The Deighton Dossier: Len Deighton Q & A

Napoleon Doble: @ 4DK

My knowledge of Filipino cinema is admittedly poor. I have heard of the Tony Falcon, Agent 44 series, starring Tony Ferrer, but I have never actually seen one. At least sixteen films featuring Falcon were made (possibly more), from 1965 till 1980. As many these films were little more than imitations of Bond, very little effort was made to preserve these films for future generations. They were banged out quick, then pushed around the market, hoping to generate as much cash in as short of time as possible. The films were then neglected and left to rot. As such many of these films are lost to us forever. The prints that do survive are scratched and faded and barely resemble their former colourful and psychedelic selves.

Then there was Weng Weng, the diminutive star of For Your Height Only, The Impossible Kid and D’Wild Wild Weng. I have seen and attempted to review For Your Height Only, but apart from that, I am still rather ignorant of Weng Weng’s career.

Then there’s Dolphy. Once again, I am sad to confess that my knowledge of Dolphy is limited to a few posters from films in which he parodies James Bond. But James Bond wasn’t the only sixties spy who was parodied. Napoleon Solo and The Man From UNCLE also came under fire. Once again, the intrepid cinematic explorer, Todd from Die, Danger, Die, Die Kill, has ventured into the unknown, macheted his way through the dense Filipino jungles and dug up Napoleon Doble and the Sexy Six.

Here’s a snippet

Surviving examples of Filipino pulp cinema from the 1960s are so few and far between that it’s always exciting when one turns up — even though, admittedly, I was less excited about the prospect of actually watching Napoleon Doble and the Sexy Six than I was by the mere fact of its existence. Like the previously reviewed James Batman, Doble is one of many spy spoof/action comedies from the period that starred the (still!) massively popular comedian Dolphy, and, having seen James Batman, I felt that I had already pretty much gotten what those movies were all about… more

Napoleon Doble and the Sexy Six, is not exactly the type of tribute that UNCLE fans would want or expect, but it is out there, and a reminder of just how popular UNCLE was across the world in the 1960s.

I forget where I found these Dolphy posters on the net many months ago – but I thank the person who uploaded them – they are a great visual timecapsule of films that are almost forgotten.

Napoleon Doble: @ 4DK

The Subterranean John Barry @ 4DK

Over the last day and a half there have been some amazing tributes to John Barry posted on the web. Todd at Die Danger Die Die Kill’s tribute looks at a slightly different aspect to Barry’s music, and one I though was worth sharing.

His post, The Subterranean John Barry: The Secret Life of the James Bond Scores examines how Barry’s scores were appropriated by burgeoning film industries in other countries. Here’s a snippet:

…while other tributes rightly focus on the man’s many high profile accomplishments, I thought I would instead laud him for his somewhat more subterranean contributions to international pulp cinema. Even though they are contributions that he very well may not have been aware of making.

I encourage you to go head across and read the full post.

The Subterranean John Barry @ 4DK

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)

The next review in the Teleport City espionage festival is up and it is Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever written by David Thomas.

In addition, some exciting news just in from Teleport City HQ. The communique reads:

I know I’m not the only one around here who was a big fan of David Thomas’ cult film review site STEAMED PRAWN BUNS, and I know I’m not the only one who has been lamenting its passing. Well, after an exchange of bribes, some kidnapping, blackmail, and a shootout that took place over a series of rooftops and terraced trails lined with lemon trees and olives in Cinque Terre, Italy, Dave has been kind enough to let Teleport City give his reviews a new home.

Starting…NOW…we’ll be reposting Dave’s reviews at Teleport City, with they’re very own Steamed Prawn Buns tag so you can dig them all up as they appear. I’m pretty psyched that he’s letting us do this, and hell…maybe we’ll even sneak a new review or two out of him if he isn’t too busy with the Royal Wedding.

My memories of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever are hazy at best, and not particularly favourable, but enough time has passed, that I think that I should watch it again. Not that I expect that time will have improved it, but any film with Lucy Liu and Talisa Soto in it cannot be all bad. Can it?

Here’s a snippet from Dave T’s review of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever:

There is much discussion among film aficionados as to what is the worst videogame to movie adaptation. For some, it’s the unloved sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Others speak of the searing pain of Super Mario Brothers. Based on the poor box office and critical brickbats that came its way, 2002’s Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever seemed determined to give them all a run for their money. Given that the movie is based on of all things a Gameboy game, it was obvious from the get-go that the screenwriters were going to have to create the plot from scratch. What they came up with was the old ‘rogue agent gone bad, burned-out agent reluctantly returns to track her down’ chestnut, but were able to add a few utterly baffling twists of their own.

To read the full review, click here.

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)

Field Reports: 3

There must be something in the air this December. I don’t know about you, but this summer (it’s Summer Down Under – apologies to those who are suffering through extreme blizzards at the moment) I am going to sit at home in my underwear armed with a remote control and indulge in filmdoms most sexist, suave, psychedelic, fast and furious forms of entertainment. I will put on a white dinner jacket, a fez, mix myself a vodka martini (shaken not stirred – of course), pull up a candy coloured beanbag and be blasted back to a time before political correctness. Ah, the good life.

But as an aperitif, the internet is already being inundated with superspies. Teleport City continues it’s espionage month, and for the latest installment Keith reviews Lupin III: Elusiveness of the Fog, which unfortunately doesn’t have too much espionage in it.

Meanwhile, Tanner at the Double-O-Section appears to have launched his own one-man Eurospy festival, with reviews of Scorpions and Miniskirts (AKA: Death on a Rainy Day), followed up with Spies Strike Silently. Both are films I have been meaning to check out – I mean ‘Scorpions and Miniskirts’ – a film with a title like that just has to be watched ‘right’?

For those who missed them, on Teleport City the other reviews have included Golden Eyes: Secret Agent 077, Si Muore Solo Una Volta, Superseven Calling Cairo, Lightning Bolt and The Devil’s Man.

Field Reports: 3

Golden Eyes: Secret Agent 077 (1968)

The espionage festival continues at Teleport City.  Today however, I step back into the shadows and allow Todd to carry the ball – and carry it he has – all the way to India! And you know what that means folks! Yep, not only wild and crazy spyjinx, but wild and willfully energetic dancing.

Uploaded to youtube by: amitajai22

Today’s feature presentation is the Bollywood spy caper Golden Eyes: Secret Agent 077, featuring Mumtaz, Sailesh Kumar and genre favourite, Helen. Here’s a brief snippet:

The 1968 film Golden Eyes: Secret Agent 077 is the sort of movie where bare-walled sets are dressed by way of colored lighting (it’s amazing what 1960s movies could accomplish with just a couple lights and some primary colored gels) and a super villain’s high-tech lair is represented by having what looks like the contents of an old Radio Shack “Build Your Own Ham Radio” kit strewn on a wooden table. In another villain’s hideout, the only decoration is a giant inflatable whiskey bottle. People speaking into common household fixtures and furnishings — lamps, radiators, etc. — as if they were communications devices replaces the fancy gadgets that had become prerequisites of the genre by this time. Scientific torture gizmos are so advanced scientifically that they are invisible, their effects only perceptible from the pained grimaces on the faces of their otherwise manifestly unmolested subjects. And yes, it’s all pretty delightful.

To be beamed directly to Teleport City and bathe in the candy-coloured excess that is Golden Eyes: Secret Agent 077 click here.

For those who crave more cheap-jack spy thrills, you can also:

• Kick back with ‘Rampaging’ Ray Danton in Si Muore Solo Una Volta.
• Globe-trot like a superspy with Superseven Calling Cairo.
• Strike like a ball of thunder with Lightning Bolt.
• Ponder the odd, and incredibly cheap The Devil’s Man.

For those who like their spirits – and like James Bond, check out Keith’s rambling, insane primer on how to drink whiskey like James Bond – Bottled in Bond.

Golden Eyes: Secret Agent 077 (1968)