Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lock Up (1989)

Director: John Flynn

Writers: Richard Smith, Jeb Stuart, Henry Rosenbaum

Composer: Bill Conti

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Donald Sutherland, John Amos, Sonny Landham, Tom Sizemore, Frank McRae, Darlanne Fluegel, William Allen Young, Larry Romano, Frank Pesce

More info: IMDb

Tagline: How much can a man take...before he gives back?

Plot: Frank Leone is nearing the end of his prison term for a relatively minor crime. Just before he is paroled, however, Warden Drumgoole takes charge. Drumgoole was assigned to a hell-hole prison after his administration was publicly humiliated by Leone, and has now arrived on the scene to ensure that Leone never sees the light of day.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Well, it was better than I thought it was going to be. Yeah, it's got the prison cliches which is fine and it helps to have a good cast (It's always great to see Frank McRae in anything) but it does go farther than you'd think.  It does feel a little long at close to two hours but there's a lot to it.  It's a near constant struggle for Frank (Stallone) once he's in the hoosegow under the watch of Warden Drumgoole (what a name, right?) (Sutherland) who sees to it that Frank's final six months is as tough as it can be.  There are the short cons and the long con that break Frank down to do what he's got to do.  It's not a bad film but it's probably not going to make anyone's top 10 Stallone films list.  Fans of him or the genre won't regret checking it out. The Live Entertainment DVD has a good widescreen print of the film and the extras are a fullscreen theatrical trailer, a vintage 7-minute behind the scenes featurette which is a fluff piece (no surprise there) with a little bit of interesting info tossed in and another 3 minute vintage piece focusing on Stallone.

Terrified (1963)

Director: Lew Landers

Writer: Richard Bernstein

Composer: Michael Anderson

Starring: Rod Lauren, Steve Drexel, Tracy Olsen, Stephen Roberts, Sherwood Keith, barbara Luddy, Denver Pyle, Lee Bradley, Ben Frank, Danny Welton, Nona Carver, Michael Fellen, Robert Towers

More info: IMDb


Plot: A college psychology student, intent on writing a term paper on how much terror the human mind can endure, learns his answers first-hand as he finds himself the target of a mysterious, hooded killer in an Old West ghost town.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I'm burning through a 4-DVD/8-film set from BCI over the course of two days (6 the day of this writing and two tomorrow).  It's all low budget, public domain stuff but it's sci-fi and horror from the 50s and 60s.  It's mostly crap but it's 50+ year old crap which kind of makes it a little more tolerable.  This one doesn't have much going for it as far as working up a desire to watch.  Future DUKES OF HAZZARD's Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle) plays the sheriff but you won't easily recognize him.  I didn't until he started raising his voice and his teeth were showing from the side.  Weird, I know.  Seeing the guy buried alive was neat and so was the Western ghost town.  There's a really nice shot near the end when a car pulls up and you see the town from inside the car's point of view and it's only lit with the auto's headlights.  The story is actually pretty neat but it's the execution that helps hurt it.  There's too much to do, scenes last too long, the music is often repetitive, and so on...the usual things that hurt low budget pictures.  But this was directed by Lew Landers (his last picture, by the way) who made over a hundred films and dozens and dozens of TV episodes.  Maybe he was tired.  Beats me but it's unnecessarily slow.  Good story or not, it drags enough to keep reaching for the remote to see how much time is left and that ain't good.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Knight's Tale (2001)

Director: Brian Helgeland

Writer: Brian Helgeland

Composer: Carter Burwell

Starring: Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Shannyn Sossamon, Paul Bettany, Laura Fraser, Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk, Berenice Bejo, Scott Handy, James Purefoy

More info: IMDb

Tagline: From peasant to knight; one man can change his stars.

Plot: After his master dies, a peasant squire, fueled by his desire for food and glory, creates a new identity for himself as a knight.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Well here was a nice surprise.  I didn't think I was going to like it.  I'd heard it's filled with classic pop/rock songs which I initially thought was a ridiculous idea (as I'm sure everyone else did, too.)  Then you see it and the songs work.  You'll laugh your ass off every time one starts but they strangely work.  The cast is great especially Ledger (William/Ulrich) and his cohorts Paul Bettany (Geoffrey Chaucer) (and it's especially clever and fun how they played around with his character),  Alan Tudyk (Wat), Mark Addy (Roland) and Laura Fraser (Kate).  They're a lot of fun.  It was good writing, too.   
SPOILER ALERT... And I'll say this, too, the story took some turns that are atypical for a Hollywood picture like William falling out of love with Jocelyn (Sossamon) and into love with his blacksmith, Kate. But they just had to do the one thing that I don't think has ever not been done and that's have someone discover his ruse by making up a different identity and throwing it back into his face at the end.  Are there any films where someone hides their true identity, falls in love with someone under that false name/persona and it never becomes an issue?  Why does is have to always come back and bite them in the ass?  Just sayin'.  It'd be nice if a picture bucked the trend and didn't allow it to burden the character.  Another thing that surprised me is they set up Chaucer having a gambling problem but it only served to provide a few laughs for one small plot line. What didn't happen is him gambling away the gang's money near the end or something of the sort.  It was a nice restraint that I really appreciated.  END OF SPOILERS...YARRRRR!!! 

If you've been on the fence about watching this for one reason or another, give it a chance.  It's actually a fun and enjoyable movie.  I'm not saying it's going to be something you'll return to but you'll at least spend over two hours (and a quickly paced 144 I might add, and it goes by very quickly - impressive!) having a great time with some really fun characters. 

The Columbia Special Edition DVD comes with the theatrical 132 minute film and the 144 minute extended version (the one I saw). The extras included are a commentary with writer/director Brian Helgeland and actor Paul Bettany, 11 short (usually 2-5 minutes each) featurettes on various stages and aspect of the production, 6 deleted scenes with optional filmmakers' introductions and a 15 minute HBO making of featurette.

The Creeping Terror (1964)

Director: Vic Savage

Writer: Robert Silliphant

Composer: Frederick Kopp

Starring: Vic Savage, Shannon O'Neil, William Thourlby, John Caresio, Brendon Boone, Byrd Holland, Jack King, Pierre Kopp, Ken Savage, Mark Field, Les La Marr, Mary Price, Louise Lawson

More info: IMDb

Plot: A newlywed sheriff tries to stop a shambling monster that has emerged from a spaceship to eat people.

My rating: 2/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Here's one you can believe the hype on...it's that bad.  No sound was recorded while filming so narration and dubbing are all that's added.  A lot of the score is a cheesy organ, done on the cheap.  There's an instrumental pop tune at the dance that goes on forever for the sake of filling the 76 minute running time...which is way too long.  It's no surprise that many of those involved with this picture did little to nothing else.  It's just a real drag, man.  If they'd recorded sound during filming, eliminating the need for narration, this might be bearable but as it stands, it's dreadfully dull.  It's not all that inept as far as the acting goes (which is hard to tell when it's dubbed) but more editing could have been invaluable in trimming the excessively long scenes into something tighter and leaner than this.  Ugh.  I only passively watched this as I organized my office and it still bored the piss out of me.  Viewer beware.  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ned Blessing: Return to Plum Creek (1993)

Director: Jack Bender

Writer: William D. Wittliff?

Composer: David Bell

Starring: Brad Johnson, Luis Avalos, Timothy Scott, Donzaleigh Abernathy, Gregory Scott Cummins, Tony Genaro, Jill Parker-Jones, Julius Tennon

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A lawless frontier.  One born leaer.

Plot:  The town of Plum Creek falls into treacherous hands when a loyal Sheriff Albright is brutally killed under mysterious circumstances. With a small town quickly becoming lawless under the watch of evil Emma and her husband, there is only one man who can bring justice back. Ned Blessing.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Here's an OK at best Western in the form of a TV movie. The acting is poor to good depending on the actor, the story is fine and it looks alright but the small budget shows from the limited cast and locations to the sparse and thin score (lots of somber violin).  The only standout performance for me was that of Rob Campbell who had his feature film debut in UNFORGIVEN (1992) (as Davey) the year before.  It's funny because the DVD cover of this film looks mightily close to that of UNFORGIVEN.  Hmmmmm.  Marketing geniuses.  Don't look for a deep plot or anything trying anything new or different.  It's a simple film that tells a simple story which is just fine.  I guess I wanted or was expecting a little more.  The Trinity DVD presents the film in its original fullscreen TV ratio and with not a single extra.

The Devil's Hand (1961)

Director: William J. Hole Jr.

Writer: Jo Helms

Composers: Allyn Ferguson, Michael Terr

Starring: Linda Christian, Robert Alda, Ariadna Welter, Neil Hamilton, Gere Craft, Jeanne Carmen, Julie Scott, Diana Spears, Gertrude Astor, Bruno VeSota, Dick Lee, Jim Knight, Coleen Vico, Roy Wright, Romona Ravez, Tony Rock

More info: IMDb

Tagline: ...It struck with savage fury destroying...killing all that crossed its path!

Plot: Rick Turner is engaged of Donna Trent and is having nightmares with a beautiful blonde woman dancing in the sky. One night, he is mysteriously driven to a doll shop, and in the next morning he returns to the place with Donna. He finds a doll that resembles his fiancé, but the owner Francis Lamont delivers another doll to him, with the face of the woman of his dreams, Bianca Milan. Rick looks for Bianca and is seduced and convinced by her to join a sect that worships the diabolic Camba, while the health of Donna is threatened by Francis and Bianca.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

Nice flick!  For a short low budget horror flick, this one's really well made and packs a nice little punch.  The performances are good along with the story, sets, music and everything else.  For 71 minutes I kept wondering when it was going to fall apart but it stays true to itself all along. I won't spoil it but the ending was pretty damn good.  There's some good 'ole Voodoo type shit going on that added some fun.  Stuff with dolls and pins and such but this picture takes it more seriously than most from this era.  And who would have thought that 60s TV BATMAN's Commissioner Gordon (Neil Hamilton) was the leader of a Satanic cult?  He's terrific as are the rest of the leads.  This is one of eight films on a low budget 4-DVD set (each film is on one side of a disc).  Some come with extras and others don't.  The print looks really good and it's got a 'play as a drive-in' feature that gives you the drive in experience by starting the show with a vintage Water Lanz color Woody Woodpecker cartoon called PANTRY PANIC (1941) followed by some snack bar messages (mmmm them pickles look good!), a trailer for CARNIVAL OF CRIME and a final one for DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE! just before the film starts.  You can pick up the set for well under ten bucks (shipped).  So far I'm halfway through it and it's totally worth it.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Blade: Trinity (2004)

Director: David S. Goyer

Writer: David S. Goyer

Composers: Ramin Djawadi, RZA

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Dominic Percell, Jessica Biel, Ryan Reynolds, Parker Posey, Mark Berry, John Michael Higgins, Callum Keith Rennie, Paul Levesque, Paul Anthony, Francoise Yip, Michael Anthony Rawlins, James Remar, Natasha Lyonne, Ginger Broatch, Patton Oswalt, Eric Bogosian

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Where it began so it shall end.

Plot: Blade, now a wanted man by the FBI, must join forces with the Nightstalkers to face his most challenging enemy yet: Dracula.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I have the 4 Film Favorites Blade Collection 4 DVD set.  I watched what I thought was the first film (the disc face didn't say anything but Blade) and it was only when the credits rolled that I discovered it was this third film.  Anyway, I got ripped off because the set was minus the first two films.  I rather liked this one.  It's got a good cast except I would have liked Drake (Dracula) to have more of a personality.  Ryan Reynolds is fucking hilarious and he's the single best reason to see this picture.  He reminds me a lot of Jason Lee and his wisecracking self.  The special effects of the vampires dying were great.  The scene with Blade (Snipes) getting tossed the baby was hilarious.  Goochee goo. It felt like that would have been in the graphic novel somewhere (which I haven't read).  Is Blade supposed to have any charisma?  He didn't have much in this picture.  If this were the first one of the series I wouldn't continue but since it's part three I think I'll check out one and two someday.  They've both got good casts.