Rescued From An Eagle’s Nest by James Searle Dawley

Written by Joe D on April 22nd, 2024

James Searl Dawley

Here is an amazing early film produced by the Edison Company , directed by James Searl Dawley and starring future iconic director D.W. Griffith!

DW Griffith

What a chockfull package of early film history! Oh and I almost forgot, photographed by Edwin S. Porter, the man who would go on to make the classic, The Great Train Robbery! Wow!

           Edwin S. Porter

Still From The Great Train Robbery

Dawley was an incredibly prolific filmmaker, writer, actor, genius, who made over 399 short films and 50 features, including the first filmed version of Frankenstein, which he also adapted for the screen from Mary Shelly’s novel.

Dawley’s Frankenstein

The thing I immediately noticed about Rescued From An Eagle’s Nest though is the resemblance to the scene in King Kong where Fay Wray, in Kong’s mountain top lair, is grabbed by a Pterodactyl and recued by Kong.

 The King!

I can imagine Ernest Schoedsack or Merrian C. Cooper or maybe Willis O’Brien having seen this film as a young impressionable person and repeating the scene or paying homage if you will. But watch the film , it is very cool and see if it reminds you of Kong. Also I thought of the scene where Jack Driscoll climbs down a vine into a ravine to escape Kong as the other sailors are shaken from a log bridge, so the Kong connection is strong.


Joe Montgomery

Written by Joe D on April 6th, 2024

My dear friend, the super talented Joe Montgomery has passed on to the next dimension. I met him back in 1996. We were introduced by Bob Downey and we worked on a crazy project called Inventors Friend. Then we did Hugo Pool for Bob. Joe was the DP and I was the Editor. Joe loved to quote Bob, ” All I need is two Joes and a million bucks to make a film.” Joe was also a Jazz trumpeter, mountain climber, adventurer. He found a mummy on a mountaintop for National Geographic. His amazing accomplishments and stories could fill several books. He shot my film One Night With You and I couldn’t have done it without him. Here is a short film showing Joe setting up our Poor Mans Process shot so you can see him in action.

Jesus Shows you the Way to the Highway

Written by Joe D on March 31st, 2024

This is a super creative wacky film. I really enjoyed it. Sot on 16mm and dubbed just like the Spaghetti Westerns of yesteryear. I love films that don’t have a big budget and are creativity to overcome any limitations. A lot of this film looks like Stop Motion but I’m not sure if it is, I think it is but…


The Stop Mption parts have a kind of jittery movement that is very cool. It could be Stop Motion and green screen? Anyway super creative filmmaking. I recommend it. I saw another of Miguel Llanso’s films  that I liked a lot as well, it’s called CRUMBS. It features the same great lead actor, Daniel Tadesse.


      Daniel Tadesse

Night Of The Damned( Le Notte Dei Dannati)

Written by Joe D on January 11th, 2024

I am reading a great book by Roberto Curti called Italian Gothic Horror Films 1970-1979. A wonderful thorough examination of Italian Horror from that period, full of insights and anecdotes. If you are a fan of that genre I highly recommend it.


The book has been turning me onto to some obscure gems of the genre, stuff I had never heard of let alone seen. The Night Of The Damned is one of them. Not really a true gem but it does have some good moments. Also it is just about impossible to see. It only had a limited VHS release never on DVD. But thanks to a nice person who posted a version on YouTube (With Greek Subtitles no less) you can see it by clicking the link below. It won’t allow me to plug it directly into the page due to some Erotic sequences. ( and they are pretty good) The movie is kind of an Erotic Italian Sherlock Holmes Mystery with a bit of Edgar Allan Poes Fall of The House of Usher thrown in, to good effect I may add, The tortured character Dio plays an eerie violin like something Roderick Usher might do. There are some interesting dream sequences and the women are very sexy, nude or clothed.

There is some Lesbianism, murder, Witchcraft etc. But the thing that gets me is how pretty good sequence, like a weird foggy witch Coven and sacrifice can be followed by a really bad banal sequence, as if two different people directed the film. Maybe it was recut by a Producer?


There are dumb shots , ECUs of Dead Dio just kind of randomly cut in. And when Jean Duprey’s wife,(Danielle) tells him she is afraid and wants to leave, it just cuts to her walking around the Castle at Night and he’s outside wandering in the woods. Really makes No Sense.

But in spite of that I think its good to watch flawed films, you can learn a lot about what does and doesn’t work. So Click the kink below and check it out. I used the Italian Closed Captioning to help me understand the dialog. There may be other languages available.




Queens of Evil

Written by Joe D on November 8th, 2023

Toniono Cervi’s Queens of Evil starring Ray Lovelock is a crazy cool take on a  Fairy Tale .


Kind of like a hippie Hansel and Gretel setup with sex instead of gingerbread and early 70’s  Italian set design. Great camera work by Enrico Lucidi (OK maybe a few zooms too many but it was 1970!) and an incredible score by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino! Super cool, demonic chanting, jazz harpsichords and I think Edda del Orso doing her demented child voice, ala Morricone’s scores for Argento. A terrific score! Ray Lovelock sings the title song which he wrote as well.  The acting is all good. Ida Galli, Slvia Monti, and Haydee Politoff are the three witches of the title and they deliver a combination of weirdness, sexiness, evil, violence, and Italian style,  check out the wigs these three evil chicks wear if you want to have your mind blown. It has so many artistic touches, including a proliferation of red flowers on a grave, for what reason? Who can say.

A surreal dream sequence, a house in the middle of the woods, a spooky castle. It’s like Rosemary’s Baby on Acid. Just check it out for yourself, Go to You tube and look up Ray Lovelock films and you’ll find it. I can’t post it here for some reason. Unfortunately it’s dubbed in English I would have preferred it in Italian but what can you do it’s free.



A Night At Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Theater

Written by Joe D on November 1st, 2023

I went with my friend Duke Haney to the New Beverly the other night. They were screening two Horror/Blacksploitation films. Sugar Hill and J.D.’s Revenge. A fun double bill, the kind of films you want to see with an audience. Sugar Hill featured a beautiful black female protagonist ( Marki Bey) who wants revenge after her man is brutally beaten to death.

She gets help from the King of the Undead. But he wants something in return. The head of the criminal organization is played by Count Yorga himself( Robert Quarry). Also featured is Don Pedro as the horny and funny Baron Samedi.

The other film, J.D.’s Revenge starred an excellent Glynn Turman as a cab driver being possessed bu a razor wielding stud who was unjustly murdered 30 years prior. He is very convincing as the revenge crazed J.D. Walker.

Lou Gossett Jr. is a preacher and does a fine job. He is a wonderful actor and can play anything! Check out Enemy Mine. The great thing about this evening was seeing these obscure films projected in 35mm with an audience. It makes a huge difference to see a film that is being projected on film! It’s a Spiritual thing, you can feel it! That’s why I am so grateful to Quentin Tarantino for having this theater. It is an enormous gift to the City of Los Angeles.

Meanwhile the Cinema Dome sits shuttered! What a disgrace to Hollywood. Some superrich person that made his fortune in the Movie business should buy it, restore it and open it up! Spielberg or Geffen or any of the billionaires out there should save that Landmark of Film Presentation and become a Cinema Hero.

QT is rich but not as rich as these other people, he spent his cash on what he loves, Cinema! And Bravo to him for doing that! Let him be an inspiration to these others, Invest in the cultural future of your City, your Industry. Protect the Heritage of Film. Do something with your mountains of cash instead of just sitting on them.


William Friedkin’s CRUISING

Written by Joe D on September 22nd, 2023

I am going to go out on a limb here and say I think CRUISING is William Friedkin’d best film. I saw it in a theater just off Times Square back in 1982 or so. I had just started a job as an assistant editor, the editor I was working for, Bud Smith, told me it was playing and I should go see it. So I did. At the time I was creeped out by the film and the creepy forty deuce theater I saw it in. I thought it was confusing, I did not get it. I was in awe of some of the visuals, powerful images , shadows, dead bodies, a Blue Arch in Central Park at night. But I didn’t think it worked. I recently rewatched it and I had a revelation, the filmmaking is top notch! The camera work, editing and score( by my old friend Jack Nitzsche) are all great. The plot is bizarre, but now I think it is genius in a David Lynch kind of way.

The first victim comes back to life to murder the second victim. All the killers are dubbed by the REAL KILLER’s father. Who exists only in the mind of his son, having died years earlier. And when the REAL KILLER is being interrogated, he says in his fathers dubbed voice “I didn’t kill anyone” . this is all subversive filmmaking of the highest order. What does it mean? Well, Friedkin was inspired to make this film by talking to a real killer in jail for murder. This guy had appeared in a small role in THE EXORCIST. He played an X-Ray technician. He told Friedkin that the cops said they would go easy on him if he confessed to a whole string of gay murders, even though he only recalled doing one of them. I’m sure this got Friedkin thinking, do we ever know the truth about these things. Are they more complicated than we realize? Are people influenced by other forces when they commit these horrifying crimes? I think he found a creative way to explore this ambiguity, uncertainty. The film had such a negative backlash, mainly due to protests by the gay community in NYC, but none of them had seen the film. They were reacting to a film about gay people being murdered. The S&M gay community supported the film and a lot of them appeared in it.


I actually think the film was a step forward in the Cinematic treatment of gay people. There are scenes in leather bars, S&M clubs, extreme sexual things are happening but you never feel they are being judged in any way. No one is saying “That’s bad!” or “That’s disgusting!”Friedkins cameras are in documentary mode. He’s showing us what goes on behind these doors but not making any judgement calls. Also in so many “Straight” horror films , people have sex and are then slaughtered by a monster , the Puritanical result of out of wedlock fornication. Here gay people are given the same treatment. So they are being treated exactly the same as straight people. All in all I think this film represents a big step forward in portraying gay characters.

The film opens with two incredible poetic images, Hi-Con Black and White shots of iconic images from the film, one is a crowd of leather clad club goers outside of The Mineshaft, the other is Pacino in Central Park standing in a stone archway. There’s no explanation as to why these images are here, but with the minimalist atmospheric score I find them enigmatic, compelling, in a word poetic. And that sets the stage for some great Cinema, offbeat, unorthodox. The murder scenes are gripping , the one in the Peep Show, that yes the projected porn as a visual element is Cinema of the highest order. There is even a subliminal ( 4 frame) cut of a penis slithering into a butt during the stabbing, Artfully done, it took me a couple of viewings to see it.

The soundtrack is amazing too. Great sound effects , great Foley of creaking leather, rattling chains, all kinds of strange atmospheric textures laid over the scenes in an incredible way. It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The score is great, iconic, Nietzsche recorded several bands for this movie including The Germs and Willie DeVille. He told me that Friedkin complained that he spent too much on the score. I guess because the movie did not do well at the Box Office. It’s really a shame that this film was so badly judged and received, mainly because of the protests, it had a negative publicity campaign before it came out. Some theaters even put up signs saying they were sorry they had to show the film, they didn’t want to but were contractually obligated to. It’s bad when things are judged by people that have not seen them or read them or heard them. Just attacking something based on a rumor, something they read, not making their own minds up about it. The film was a commercial flop. unfortunately because Friedkin should have continued in this vein of creativity. A sort of Metaphysical Thriller. He really forged a new style that he wound up abandoning in reaction to its reception. A Real Shame.

An often overlooked fact about this film and The Exorcist is that Bud Smith and Jack Nitzsche worked on both of them. Their contributions to both was inestimable in my opinion.  Bud met Jack while working on Bob Downey’s Greasers Palace, a psychedelic Western.

            Bud Smith

Denizen of the Midnight Movie Craze of the 60’s and 70’s along with El Topo, Fantastic Planet and Performance. (more on this film in a minute) Nitzsche started out as an arranger, the guy that wrote the parts for Phil Spector legendary Wall Of Sound. The Rolling Stones were enamored of this sound and sought Jack out. He collaborated with them on several songs and wound up scoring the Mick Jagger starring film Performance by Donald Cammel and Nick Roeg. An amazing score, one that supposedly Friedkin loved. Bud introduced Nitzsche to Friedkin and Jack along with his friend Ron Nagle recorded a lot of special sound effects for The Exorcist, rats running on sandpaper, crashing glass, glass harmonicas, bees in a jar. All kinds of exotic sounds. Then Bud would edit them into the film in a very creative unsettling subversive way.

                                                                                                       Jack Nitzsche

The combination was irresistible. Their collaboration on Cruising was just as powerful. They deserve so much credit for the atmosphere and unsettling nature of these films. Both masterpieces of sonic and Cinematic brain manipulation. Bravo!

My final thoughts on Cruising (at least for this write up) deal with the subject matter, Pure sex, pleasure uninhibited, no Catholic guilt, just raw experience, such a powerful force, that it’s been controlled by Laws, the Church, the Public Mores of Society, clamped down, repressed, locked away. Here is a film that exposes pure hedonism, pure freedom of personal sexual expression as the backdrop for a murder mystery, a detective film in a Meta universe where the dead can come back to life, in their own form and controlling the body of others. But not in a Supernatural Zombie vampire kind of way. In a freudian head trip kind of way. Psychological not Supernatural. A real mind bender.

Jacques Rozier, Last of the New Wave Cine Poets is dead

Written by Joe D on June 18th, 2023

The last of the French New Wave directors has checked out. He didn’t get the acclaim here in the USA that others got but he was respected and admired by Truffaut and Godard. I’ll post a trailer for his film Adieu Philippine. It kind of looks like Hard Days Night meets early Truffaut.

How To Be Loved

Written by Joe D on June 10th, 2023

Here is a great Polish Film from 1963. Directed by Wojciech Has. And starring the great Zbigniew Cybulski, one of my favorite actors, I should say costarring because the real star of the film is Barbara Krafftówna, a great performance. Beautifully shot in B&W, this is a real Art Film! Has came from the Polish film school that Polanski attended. Seems like a good place to study Cinema. It is based on a novel of the same name by Kazimierz Brandys

and it feels like it. A truly literary work of Cinema, with the plot, scenes characters, inner dialog, of a beautiful book. I love films that play like novel and this is a classic. There’s only one part of the film I didn’t like. Otherwise I really enjoyed watching it. I recommend it to those that want to visit a lost world of pure Cinema. Breathe the rarefied air of the Lodz Film School of the 60’s. Fantasize about being a student there, making films there, living the Art Life.

Prague Nights

Written by Joe D on June 4th, 2023

Directed by a trio,  Miloš Makovec, Jiří Brdečka and Evald Schorm, this gem from 1969 is now available at Deaf Crocodile.

Here’s the trailer ,Check it out!

Melies! In Color!

Written by Joe D on May 10th, 2023

Here is a great film by the wonderful Georges Melies. father of the Fantasy Film. A magician of Cinema. I heard he had a hundred nuns at a convent hand coloring his films!  Check it out.

James Whitney-Lapis

Written by Joe D on February 14th, 2023

Working on equipment developed by his bother John, Jams Whitney created this mesmerizing trance inducing film bar in 1966. John was a pioneer in computer animation, using WWII trajectory plotting machines for filmmaking. He acquired these devices after the War as surplus therefore inexpensive. The abstract animation movement really took off then with people like Jordan Belson, Harry Smith, Hy Hirsch, and many others. Oskar Fischinger was one of the grandaddies of the genre along with people like Viking Eggling and Hans Richter. Anyway check out this film. Try to see a better quality version, projected on film if possible to really experience it.