Monday, August 21, 2017

The Outer Space Connection (1975)

Director: Fred Warshofsky

Writers: Alan Landsburg, Fred Warshofsky

Composer: Roger Wagner

Starring: Rod Serling, Roy E. Cameron, M.C. Chang, Patrick Flanagan, Art Ford, Tim Gill, E.S.E. Hafez, Duncan A. Lunan, Thelma Moss, Leslie Orgel, Ernst von Glasersfeld

More info: IMDb

Tagline: We Are Not Alone in the Universe

Plot: This documentary examines the speculation that aliens have visited Earth in ancient times, and built structures to which they will return at a future date.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not but I would just to hear Rod Serling for 94 straight minutes.

Aliens did it.  There.  Now you know what Rod Serling spent an hour and a half telling us the answer to so many mysteries we supposedly hadn't explained by 1975.  In the first minute Serling states, "The facts that will be presented are true."  Now, that statement is misleading.  The lawyers for the picture would tell you that since a fact in and of itself is a true statement, then the filmmakers have covered their ass.  However, that's not how most people are going to interpret that statement.  To a lot of folks it sounds like their implying that what you are about to see and hear is true.  There are times when Serling says things are theories or "some believe", that kind of thing.  It's dishonest at the very least.  It's also pretty darn entertaining.  Rod Serling's narration makes this a must-watch all on its own.  There's even a PLANET OF THE APES (1968) pun late in the film (Serling wrote the screenplay for that picture).  I love documentaries from the 70s about Bigfoot, aliens and so on.  This flick is like a greatest hits of weird goofy shit like that which was all the rage back then.  I recognized writer/producer Alan Landsburg's name right off the bat.  He was the creator and producer of the hit series IN SEARCH OF...(1977-1982).  I watched that show religiously in its original TV run and I couldn't get enough of it.  I was also 8 years old, the perfect age for such strangeness.  As I grew up I discovered I had a brain of my own and me and my old beliefs amicably parted ways.  Even though I find a lot of what's discussed in this picture a load of bunk, I still get a kick out of watching these 70s curiosities.  It's probably all nostalgia but I dig it nonetheless.  Even if I hated it, I still got to listen to Rod Serlings masterful voice for an hour and a half and it soothed the nerd in me. 

Sheriff with the Gold (1966)

Director: Osvaldo Civirani

Writers: Enzo Dell'Aquila, Roberto Gianviti

Composer: Nora Orlandi

Starring: Caterina Trentini, Jacques Berthier, Luigi Giuliani, Roberto Messina, Luciano Rossi, Piero Morgia, Nando Angelini, Giovanni Ivan Scratuglia, Franco Pesce, Renzo Pevarello, Fortunato Arena, Aldo Rendine

More info: IMDb

Plot:  Federal lawman Jeff Randall (Berthier) isn't happy with the $60 a month salary so he sets out to liberate half a million dollars from the stagecoach he's protecting but he'll need to rescue an outlaw to make his dream a reality.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.


The characters are likable and the story, while simple, is good.  Randall's plan to rob the stagecoach goes as planned but like a lot of good heist movies, it doesn't stay that way.  Greedy outside forces get in the way with Arizona Roy (Giuliani) after the robbery and lawman Randall tracks him and the gold and figures out a plan to get his business partner and his bounty out of the hands of the Vargas, the leader of a Mexican band of mean dudes.  Simple, right?  It's entertaining and it's better than most of the Spaghetti Westerns I've watched lately but something happens at the end that didn't make any sense, at least how the movie shows it.  Randall, without any notice, decides to turn himself in after the big battle at the end.  All he asks of the sheriff is to let the kid go for stealing it.  The sheriff had just told him the murder the kid was going to hang for at the beginning was solved and the kid was innocent on that charge (the fuck?).  Then you see Randall and the kid, Arizona Roy, ride off toward Mexico.  So I guess the sheriff let Randall go?  Beats me.  The version I watched was 82 minutes which is a little short so perhaps there's a longer version out there that answers some questions.  I watched a nice looking anamorphic widescreen print dubbed in English. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Prom Night (1980)

Director: Paul Lynch

Writers: William Gray, Robert Guza Jr.

Composers: Paul Zaza, Carl Zittrer

Starring: Leslie Nielsen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Casey Stevens, Anne-Marie Martin, Antoinette Bower, Michael Tough, Robert A. Silverman, Pita Oliver, David Mucci, Jeff Wincott, Mary Beth Rubens, George Touiatos

More info: IMDb

Tagline: There's a special night in the lives of all of us. A night to be beautiful. To be desirable. A night we can break all the rules and make our own. Prom night.

Plot: At a high school senior prom, a masked killer stalks four teenagers who were responsible for the accidental death of a classmate six years previously.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

Is it just me or do you find it hard to take seriously any R-rated 80s slasher movie that doesn't have  any nudity (especially when there's the tease of some in a high school locker room post-shower), the kills are weak AND they don't start until an hour into the picture?  I'm not saying that boobs are crucial but for fuck's sake, this is rated R and the only reason I can think of for that is that there's some 'fucks' here and there.  With a slasher from 1980 starring Jamie Lee Curtis, I expected more.  The movie's OK and that's about it.  It's what's not in it that's more important than what is.  There are parts in the first hour that work great but there are a lot of slow spots that end up leading up to nothing much to see here.  The Echo Bridge DVD has a good looking anamorphic widescreen print but no extras.  WTF?  I just saw that this spawned three sequels?  Are they worth watching?

Swamp Water (1941)

Director: Jean Renoir

Writers: Vereen Bell, Dudley Nichols

Composer: David Buttolph

Starring: Walter Brennan, Walter Huston, Anne Baxter, Dana Andrews, Virginia Gilmore, John Carradine, Mary Howard, Eugene Pallette, Ward Bond, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Russell Simpson, Joe Sawyer, Paul E. Burns, Dave Morris, Frank Austin, Matt Williams

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  The Swamp!  Sinister - mysterious - it shaped the lives and loves and hates of the people who lived around its edges!!

Plot: A hunter happens upon a fugitive and his daughter living in a Georgia swamp. He falls in love with the girl and persuades the fugitive to return to town.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

There are moments in this film that transcend its B-movie status and it's in the shots and camera movement.  So it's no surprise that it was made by a European filmmaker.  Then there's the excellent cast, many of whom were about to break into stardom or had just started.  They all do a fine job.  I dug the story but I was worried that it wouldn't work out but it did.  There are a few scenes that were filmed in the Okefenokee Swamp in Southern Georgia and enough can't be said how those moments help make the film.  Though it's obvious that a lot of the picture was filmed in a studio, the sets are well constructed and blend as well as you could probably hope for under the circumstances.  For some reason I wasn't bothered by some of the inaccurate Southern accents.  That could be because the film was engaging and entertaining.  It's well worth a look.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Under Siege (1992)

Director: Andrew Davis

Writer: J.F. Lawton

Composer: Gary Chang

Starring: Steven Seagal, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Busey, Erika Eleniak, Andy Romano, Colm Meaney, Damian Chapa, David McKnight, J.F. Lawton, Lee Hinton, Patrick O'Neal, Troy Evans, Bernie Casey, Dale Dye

More info: IMDb

Tagline: It's not a job...It's an Adventure!

Plot: A Navy cook is the only person who can stop a group of terrorists when they seize control of a U.S. battleship.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

I first saw this in the theater and I didn't go because of Steven Seagal.  I think I'd only seen one or two of his pictures at that point and I wasn't all that impressed but I was a big fan already of Tommy Lee Jones.  I really dig Seagal in this flick.  He's fun and does well with the action.  It probably worked to his benefit to be confined to a battleship.  Jones is a blast and really sold the aging rocker bit, looking every bit the part.  There's a good deal of fight action and even a little bit of nudity (man, that Erika Eleniak is smokin' in this picture!)  The Warner Bros. DVD set of 4 Film Favorites Steven Seagal Collection presents this film and its only extra, the theatrical trailer, in anamorphic widescreen.

Woman Who Came Back (1945)

Director: Walter Colmes

Writers: Dennis J. Cooper, John H. Kafka, Lee Williams

Composer: Edward H. Plumb

Starring: John Loder, Nancy Kelly, Otto Kruger, Ruth Ford, Harry Tyler, Jeanne Gail, Almira Sessions, J. Farrell MacDonald, Emmett Vogan

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Hate-filled eyes...Accusing fingers...Whispered words...All repeated this dread phrase..."LORNA WEBSTER IS A WITCH!"

Plot: After a bus accident, a woman comes to believe that she's actually a 300-year-old witch.

My rating:  6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.


I've now seen three Nancy Kelly movies and this is the second one where she's paranoid as hell (the other being the wonderful, THE BAD SEED (1956).  She plays that well but when that's mostly what you see, it starts to wear thin by the finish line.  Now with the film, it's pretty good at stringing Lorna (Kelly), everyone around her, and us into thinking that she really is the embodiment of the witch that was burned at the stake (with her dog) 300 years earlier.  I dug the little things that happened to support that belief like her feeding a little girl's fish with rat poison knowing full well she gave them fish food.  It's morbid stuff like that that help sell me the goods.  Then in the final few minutes, her fiance and the old coot/town historian just happened to find hidden in an old desk, a 300 year old letter written by the man who sentenced the witch to death saying he coerced the simple woman to sign a confession just to satisfy the town's bloodlust.  The chase is on to keep Lorna from losing her shit completely and kill herself by jumping off a cliff and into the water below.  Her fiance, Dr. Matt Adams (Loder) dives in and saves her.  The final salt in the wound is a cheerful as hell, we-want-everyone-to-feel-happy-and-cheerful closing scene like you'd get at the end of a bad TV sitcom.  The picture was ruined for me from the moment the letter was discovered.  Everyone did such a fine job up until then.  It's a shame they ruined it with such a silly and insulting ending.  It would have been a little unusual in 1945 (especially in December, months after the close of the War) to end this on a dark note but that's how I feel about it.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Writer: Robert Rodriguez

Composer: Robert Rodriguez

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke, Eva Mendes, Danny Trejo, Enrique Iglesias, Marco Leonardi, Cheech Marin, Ruben Blades, Willem Dafoe, Gerardo Vigil, Pedro Armendariz Jr.

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Time Has Come.

Plot: Hitman "El Mariachi" becomes involved in international espionage involving a psychotic CIA agent and a corrupt Mexican general.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

For anyone who didn't see EL MARIACHI (1992) or DESPERADO (1995), OUaTiM starts out with a little introduction to bring you up to speed on who El Mariachi is even though there's little to do with the first two films.  It doesn't matter anyway because the story is told by Cheech Marin to Johnny Depp and it's great.  What follows is an action thrill ride with lots of laughs and adventure.  This might be my favorite of the three because of the cast alone.  Hell, I'd recommend seeing it just to see Mickey Rourke walk around with a chihuahua in his arms.

The Columbia DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen.  The extras you get are six featurettes, a commentary track with Rodriguez, another one about the music and sound design, eight deleted scenes with optional director commentary and eleven trailers (including the one for this picture).