Saturday, October 1, 2016

Cheerleader Camp (1988)

Director: John Quinn

Writers: David Lee Fein, R.L. O'Keefe

Composers: Joel Hamilton, Murielle Hamilton

Starring: Betsy Russell, Leif Garrett, Lucinda Dickey, Lorie Griffin, George 'Buck' Flower, Travis McKenn, Teri Weigel, Rebecca Ferratti, Vickie Benson, Jeff Prettyman, Krista Pflanzer, Craig Piligian

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Give me a K - Give me an I - Give me an L - Give me an L

Plot: A group of cheerleaders become the targets of an unknown killer at a remote summer camp.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

The best thing about this movie is the awesome poster.  I was hoping this was going to be better.  I'm a sucker for 80s horror.  It's a slasher set in the woods.  It's got some nudity...

but not nearly enough (and sadly, all but one brief shot is in the first 15 minutes) but it's missing a lot more and that's kills and gore.  This is one of the lighter slasher films out there in terms of kills/gore and in tone.  Take out the deaths and it's just another average teen comedy with poor acting and gags.  Having a killer on the loose helps but it's not much of an improvement.  So where were the great kills and blood? The DVD commentary with the director and producer might shed some light but I don't like the film enough to give it another 90 minutes of my life to find out.  The movie is OK if you're looking for an 80s horror movie you haven't seen before but if you do watch it, see it with a group of friends and drink.  The Anchor Bay DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen and the extras you get are the aforementioned commentary track, 3 trailers for the film (two anamorphic and one fullscreen), an alternate title sequence for when it was titled BLOODY POM POMS (there's nothing but credits for this) and photos.

K-PAX (2001)

Director: Iain Softley

Writers: Gene Brewer, Charles Leavitt

Composer: Ed Shearmur

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Mary McCormack, Alfre Woodard, David Patrick Kelly, Saul Williams, Peter Gerety, Celia Weston, Ajay Naidu, Tracy Vilar, Aaron Paul

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Is he crazy?...or is he light years ahead of us?

Plot: Prot is a patient at a mental hospital who claims to be from a far away planet. His psychiatrist tries to help him, only to begin to doubt his own explanations.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

The funny thing about having a spotty memory is being able to watch a movie after 15 years and remembering very little except for the overall feeling.  I'd forgotten most of this picture but what I remembered is not knowing if Prot (Spacey) was telling the truth about being from another planet.  The story cheats us by letting Prot giving detailed information about planets and solar systems that only 2 or 3 people on the planet are even aware of.  That alone should tell you that he's telling the truth (and that's the strongest bit of evidence that I think he is) but then there's the flipside where we find out who Prot might really be and that he's suppressing his bad memories.  That works, too.  Regardless of where you fall on the truth (the film ends leaving us the option to choose), it's a well-told story with wonderful performances and a score filled with hope and wonder.  OK, that bit about the score sounds kind of lame but it's true.  It plays a big part in letting you believe Prot's story.  It's a good film and Spacey comes across as genuine and very likable.  The Universal DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen with extras in an alternate ending, commentary with the director, deleted scenes, storyboard comparisons, behind the scenes photos and the theatrical trailer (non-anamorphic widescreen).

Friday, September 30, 2016

Dangerous Mission (1954)

Director: Louis King

Writers: Horace McCoy, W.R. Burnett, Charles Bennett, James Edmiston

Composer: Roy Webb

Starring: Victor Mature, Piper Laurie, William Bendix, Vincent Price, Betta St. John, Harry Cheshire, Steve Darrell, Walter Reed, Marlo Dwyer, Dennis Weaver

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Avalanche of action!

Plot: A policeman tries to protect a young woman against a hit man, when she flees New York after witnessing a mob killing.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Man, it's just been one long string of mediocre movies I've been watching lately.  The thing is, there something about them that appeals to me enough to see them, which is usually the cast.  I like Mature a little bit but I LOVE Vincent Price, and he's playing a bad guy in this crime thriller.  This isn't nearly exciting as that great poster or the trailer.  Hell, a third of the trailer is taken from the last few minutes of the movie which is where all of the action and tension is.  The film does feature the best that fashion had to offer.  Price and Mature rocked their happening threads!

I can't recommend this even to fans of Price.  He's good (as always) but most of the movie's outdoor scenes are clearly shot on a soundstage which makes it look cheaper than it should.  When they do film outdoors, the location of Glacier National Park is gorgeous.  The climax in the snow is good as is Price's exit but there's so much ho-hum that comes before it that lessons the final act's impact.  I see that it was co-written by W.R. Burnett who also worked on CRASH DIVE (1943) which I wrote about yesterday, another mediocre film.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Crash Dive (1943)

Director: Archie Mayo

Writers: Jo Swerling, W.R. Burnett

Composer: David Buttolph

Starring: Tyrone Power, Anne Baxter, Dana Andrews, James Gleason, Dame May Whitty, Harry Morgan, Ben Carter, Fred Aldrich

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Tyrone Power -- Leading a reckless crew on the war's most daring mission! Battling death in a depth-bombed submarine! Blasting Nazis on a bold Commando raid! Finding love in precious, stolen moments! Crashing his way to unforgettable glory in...

Plot: A submarine lieutenant and his commander fall in love with the same girl.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

Woof.  This muddied WWII actioner has a little going for it and a lot against it.  The acting is fine and it's perfectly good for the era.  It's a color WWII movie which was a rare thing back then.  It might've worked better in B&W.  If I were to watch it again (which I won't), I'd adjust the picture settings so it would be in B&W.  On the bad side, there is WAY too much time spent on the romance plot and not enough with the submarine action.  What action is there is OK but the picture takes a turn for the ridiculous in the last act when the boys in the underwater can go topside to blow up a munitions dump (or something) on land.  As this was filmed during the War, there's a lot of flag-waving and patriotism bandied about.  Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't.  It's different with each person and film.  The only time I'm OK with it is when the movie is a good one.  If it's not then it's just one more thing that bugs me.  There is one more positive in this picture and that's how the sole black man, Oliver (Carter), is handled.  He's not treated as a second class citizen and his role is pivotal in at least one scene where it matters that his character exists.  Oliver isn't a strong, intelligent character who lifts his head high but rather a meek man with a good heart and intentions.  While that portrayal of his character wouldn't fly in today's society, it was a step in the right direction for 1943.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Super Seven Calling Cairo (1965)

Original title: Superseven Chiama Cairo

Director: Umberto Lenzi

Writers: Umberto Lenzi, Piero Pierotti

Composer: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino

Starring: Roger Browne, Fabienne Dali, Massimo Serato, Andrea Aureli, Dina De Santis, Antonio Gradoli, Stella Monclar, Mino Doro, Franco Castellani, Claudio Biava

More info: IMDb

Plot: Super 7 looks for a piece of a new metal hidden in a camera.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

This is the first of two pictures Browne played as super spy Martin Stevens.  The other came the following year, THE SPY WHO LOVED FLOWERS (1966).  While SUPER SEVEN doesn't fare much better, it's got its moments.  The location shooting in Cairo, Switzerland and Italy are very nice and provide some lovely scenery.  The score is cheesy as in it often sounds like it belongs in a cartoon (no joke).  The acting is OK and the dialogue sometimes silly but it's the story that's rather lame.  It's another cat-and-mouse, always on the hunt/run type of spy film with nothing of substance.  It's nowhere near the quality of the Bond films of the 60s in any way.  This Bond wannabe has Browne in the title role looking like a Bond...

and trying to be like Bond.  The think is, though, he's no Bond.  There's even a silly joke in the picture where he's flirting with a hottie telling her he's a spy and his name is James Bond.  Ugh.  HA!  This is pure middle-of-the-road spy nonsense with about the only thing going for it is the sometime scenery.  Also, I was neither bored nor entertained much so I guess that could be a little something in the plus column.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When Worlds Collide (1951)

Director: Rudolph Mate

Writers: Sydney Boehm, Edwin Balmer, Philip Wylie

Composer: Leith Stevens

Starring: Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, Peter Hansen, John Hoyt, Larry Keating, Rachel Ames, Stephen Chase, Frank Cady, Hayden Rorke, Sandro Giglio, Kirk Alyn, Paul Frees, Stuart Whitman

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Romance! Thrills! Adventure!

Plot:  As a new star and planet hurtle toward a doomed Earth, a small group of survivalists frantically work to complete the rocket which will take them to their new home.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  I doubt it.


OK, I dug this picture but the science is sooooo bad that it's hard to ignore but I tried.  There are lot of familiar faces (and voices) and the rocket ship model is neat but this is a science fiction picture of the talky kind.  The plot is ridiculous but you have to set that aside to enjoy it.  Some of the characters do things I wouldn't have done in the same situation and there's a good deal of Christianity tossed into it (the film opens with a picture of the bible).  The ending is as ridiculous as the plot but, being made in the US in 1951, you have to expect things to work out.  But when the ship makes it to the other planet and we see nothing but mountains and snow in every direction, only to land and exit the ship to see plentiful green pastures is about stupid and there's no abouts about it.  It's not the classic I hoped for but I'm glad I finally saw it.  The Paramount DVD looks good.  The only extra is the theatrical trailer.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Chuka (1967)

Director: Gordon Douglas

Writer: Richard Jessup

Composer: Leith Stevens

Starring: Rod Taylor, Ernest Borgnine, John Mills, Luciana Paluzzi, James Whitmore, Victoria Vetri, Louis Hayward, Michael Cole, Hugh Reilly, Barry O'Hara, Joseph Sirola, Marco Lopez, Gerald York, Herlinda Del Carmen, Lucky Carson, Ford Rainey

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They called him saddle-bum...desert rat...pistolero...but where would they have been without Chuka on that bloody summer's day.

Plot: While Indians besiege a U.S. Army fort in 1876, residents of the fort a gunfighter, a stagecoach driver, two Mexican women, and a motley company of soldiers try to come to terms with their pasts.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

It seems like everyone at the fort is there because of something bad in the past.  That adds a little more depth to the story but it's also blandly handled.  Rod Taylor's a badass and his fist fight with Borgnine is fun.  Borgnine's in bastard sum bitch mode.  He excelled at that.  The picture is OK at best.  It's kind of a downer with little to get excited about or like except for some of the performances.  Mills plays the commanding officer and he's so damn bleak and brooding to the point that I don't care almost as much as he doesn't.  Once the Indians show up and fight (at night) at the end I'd all but given up.  Maybe that's what the filmmakers wanted. The Warner Bros. Archive Collection DVD presents the film with a nice anamorphic widescreen image and no extras.