Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Dark Knight (2008)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Why So Serious?

Plot: Batman and James Gordon join forces with Gotham's new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, to take on a psychotic bank robber known as The Joker, whilst other forces plot against them, and Joker's crimes grow more and more deadly.

My Rating: 9.5/10

Would I watch it again? Bat-Fucking-Yeah!

I've just had my ass handed to me for the second time in almost as many days. HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!! And I thought IRON MAN (2008) and THE INCREDIBLE HULK (2008) were great. WOW! I'm going under the assumption that everyone and their kid sister have seen this already so there are going to be spoilers.

Who would have thought that a major Hollywood studio would have delivered us such a delightfully dark and twisted film that's this good? I wouldn't have but I'm certainly glad they did. First of all, Christopher Nolan is just a badass director. I've seen all of his films since MEMENTO (2000) (a MUST see) and they've all been stellar with the exception of INSOMNIA (2002) to which I prefer the Norwegian 1997 original. This guy's a talented film maker and he gets fantastic performances out of his actors. Besides directing, he also co-wrote this with his brother, Jonathan.

The acting all the way around is superb. Heath Ledger is getting the lion's share of the praise which is unfortunate because, while he is outstanding here, the rest of the cast delivers outstanding performances as well. Ledger's portrayal of the Joker is deliciously sick. I couldn't help but feel he was channeling Paul Giamatti the entire time. Giamatti could have pulled this off with the same amount of daring gusto that Ledger did. Anyway, he steals every scene he's in and it's a lot of fun watching the little things he brings to the character. He was handed a well-written character and he ran with it.

I particularly like that we don't know his back story or origin. You think you do when he tells a gangster how he got his scars but later in the film he tells someone else a different story so we really don't know. He's just making this up as he goes and he's enjoying it. Nice.

Then there's Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. He totally sells his character, his motivation and his actions. So much so that you really buy his tragic transformation into Two-Face. I thought that the film would end with that transformation, giving us a lead-in to the next film but it gives us much more and I was completely satisfied with it. Usually something like that would have seemed forced and sloppy but not here. His death (and with the first view I thought maybe he's not dead but after the second I don't see how they could bring him back UNLESS he's secretly put into Arkham Asylum) works.

Then you've got the rest of the cast that really elevate this to being a truly great film. I dig how Bats is just a man with great support, training and gadgets. In BATMAN BEGINS (2005) we get to see a lot of his billionaire playboy side. They established all of that then so there's not much of it on this trip but when we do see it, he's terrific. The bit near the end when his Lamborghini is crashed into is hilarious when he's confronted by Gordon and Wayne tries to explain he was just trying to catch the red light. It's a nice little touch that makes its point without beating you over the head with it.

Katie Holmes was terrible in BB. Fortunately, they replaced her with the much better Maggie Gyllenhaal. And despite the fact that she's killed, there's a part of me that would have liked to have seen Holmes killed instead. But don't think for a second I would have enjoyed that more than not having her appear anywhere in the franchise to begin with. Oh, she was so, so bad. Tom Cruise can keep her.

Joker's disappearing pencil magic trick was a fucking classic. That was one of several "clap out loud" moments for me. I even found myself choking up a few times which surprised me. I loved the prisoner's decision on the ferry with the bomb detonator. That was touching. I loved that the Joker was always one step ahead of everyone else and that everyone was there for him to manipulate. Then there's the nice little scene where, after he's escaped, he's riding in a car sticking his head out of the window much like a dog. There's nothing but minimal music and it's brilliant.

The score is also great but while it does suit its intended purpose, it's not really that memorable. It's written by James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer. As a film music aficionado I can tell who wrote what and I really appreciate the sensitivity that Howard brought to his portion. Comic Book movies have been short changed over the years with the scores. It's sad that the last comic book movie with a truly memorable score is BATMAN (1989) by Danny Elfman. I don't recall seeing a comic book movie since then that had a score I was whistling after leaving the theater.

Nolan and company have delivered a film that doesn't talk down to its audience and gives us and its characters deserved respect. There is so much packed into the 152 minute (!) run time that you feel compelled to see it a second time, and not because it's such a great film, but because there's something deeper that you want to uncover. You'll know what to look for and you'll see much more than the first time. Here is an event movie that compels you to come back for multiple viewings. I've already seen it twice. I'll wait another week and catch it at least once more.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Director: Louis Leterrier

Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: You'll like him when he's angry.

Plot: Fugitive Dr. Bruce Banner must utilize the genetic accident that transforms him into a giant, rampaging hulk to stop a former soldier that purposely becomes an even more dangerous version.

My Rating: 8/10

Would I watch it again? You bet your green ass I would

Marvel's 2 for 2 now and we'll have to wait until next summer to see if they can sustain they're winning strategy. And what is that strategy? To surround each film with craftsmen that respect the characters and the world they live in. You've got yourself a great story with REAL FUCKING ACTORS and a director that can pull all of that together and make it something worthwhile. One thing I REALLY love about what Marvel is doing is, besides having their (so far two) films reside in the same universe with characters interacting with others in different films, and that's that they employ very good actors. None of this "pretty boy (or girl) who's last movie was a hit" bullshit. Nice.

With Hulk I was really taken aback with the nice references to the comics and TV show. They were so well executed and never seemed either forced or "we had to do this for the fans". It's obvious the film makers had respect for the material and wanted to throw some bones to the fans without feeling obligated. The use of the TV show theme was very well done and at it's best when Banner was resting in the rain after being chased as The Hulk. I was touched by it. Very poignant. Then, of course, there's that terrific cameo by Stan Lee and later by Lou Ferrigno (who looks great, btw). Ferrigno's was very touching. The bit later on with the purple pants was hysterical.

I liked how they showed us how Banner became the Hulk during the opening credits instead of giving us the origin story again after seeing it in Ang Lee's HULK (2003). I remember liking that one but the last 20 or so minutes ruined it after it jumped the shark into silly territory. TIH is filled with nice little touches of humor without being silly. The director Leterrier did a fantastic job of balancing everything. And then there's the Brazilian location shooting...WOW!

"Don't make me hungry. You wouldn't like me when I'm hungry."

In all the movie was loads of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can't wait to see what else Marvel has up their sleeve. I have no idea how they're going to pull off something like THOR but I have all the confidence that they'll do it and in spades.

Iron Man (2008)

Director: Jon Favreau

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: This Summer: Heroes Aren't Born, They're Built.

Plot: When wealthy industrialist Tony Stark is forced to build an armored suit after a life-threatening incident, he ultimately decides to use its technology to fight against evil.

My Rating: 8/10

Would I watch it again? Does the pope wear a funny hat?

Marvel kicked me in the balls...and I took it and liked it. Everybody's seen this so there's no need for too many details. I can't think of a single thing I didn't like about IRON MAN. The casting was great. Downey was hysterical and his portrayal of a disillusioned billionaire was spot on. And I should know because I've know a few disillusioned billionaires in my day. It was also awesome to see Jeff Bridges play a bad guy for a change.

The subject matter was treated with respect by everyone involved and it shows. You take a good script with GREAT actors, a director with a reverent vision and a studio to back them all up 100% and you get IRON MAN, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, and THE DARK KNIGHT. WOW! What a great summer for movies this has been!!!

The special effects were great. I really like how we got to see Tony Stark's failed attempts at making his Iron Man outfit and gadets. The story was fun and the action was just enough. A lot of people have bitched about how there wasn't enough action. Shit, the movie's over two hours long. How much is enough? It seemed just right to me. Sure, I would have liked and taken more but I'm satisfied. I left the film just knowing that they're really going to ratchet things up for the next one. This is the origin story. The next one doesn't have to burden itself with explaining the "why". Now we're going to get some grade-A asskickery.

I LOVED that Samuel L. Jackson shows up after the credits and introduces himself to Stark, giving us a little taste for what's coming up with THE AVENGERS movie that's in the works for 2011. That'll feature Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America, with the latter two having their movies out over the next two summers.

Now that Marvel has their own movie studio and are doing their properties the way they want to, they are proving themselves left and right - first with IRON MAN and then with THE INCREDIBLE HULK. Hopefully, they'll be getting control of Spider-Man and The X-Men soon so they can right those wrongs.

It just dawned on me the one issue I have with IRON MAN. When Stark makes it back to the US after being in captivity, one of the things he wants is a cheeseburger. So his people get him a Burger King cheeseburger. WHAT THE FUCK? Of all the fucking places to get a burger from - ESPECIALLY in Southern California with its abundance of GREAT burger joints - they get him a burger from BK? I don't fucking think so. The only reason it exists is for product placement. It's disgusting. That's the only think I can find wrong with the picture and I've seen it twice. I guess it could be worse. He could have gotten McDonald's instead.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Stunts (1977)

Director: Mark L. Lester

Starring: Robert Forster, Fiona Lewis, Ray Sharkey, Joanna Cassidy, Bruce Glover, Richard Lynch

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Dying is one hell of a way to make a living.

Plot: After a stunt man dies while he is involved in the making of a motion picture, his brother takes his place in order to find out what really happened.

My Rating: 5/10

Would I watch it again? It was OK enough for just the one time

Here's the second half of my stuntman double feature last night. It worked out great 'cause it's on the same DVD (it's in the 50-movie All Stars Collection that I picked up for $11). Too bad the quality's shit like the rest. These 50-movie packs are all worth getting but the quality is all over the place. Hey, what do you expect for 11 or 12 bucks?

Although not as fun as EVEL KNIEVEL (1971) this one's got some good things going for it. First of all there's the cast full of faces I KNOW you'll recognize. You've got...

Robert "Can we get Robert Blake? No? Then how about" Forster

Bruce "Crazy mutherfucker like his son, Crispin" Glover

Joanna Cassidy

Ray Sharkey

Richard Lynch

It's neat to see so many recognizable faces here. Glover doesn't come off as well but then he usually comes across really disturbing in his films. I loved him in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971). Forster is a very good actor and under-used so when I saw that he was in this I jumped on it. It's pretty much a whodunnit with lots of stunt work. I'm a big fan of movies about making movies so this is right up my alley.

Trying to solve the mystery (which plays out like a TV movie of the week) is kind of fun. They REALLY go out of their way to make you think it's Pete (Lynch), so much so that you just KNOW it's not him so you start looking at everybody. It's a cheap game to play but it helps pass the time. Several stuntmen die and we always see it coming. That I had a problem with. If we know that something could happen then why can't we be given the opportunity to think that maybe something "won't" happen? They telegraph each death minutes beforehand. I found it distracting and cheap. I would have liked to have been surprised.

It's got more hokey conventions like when Glen (Forster) and Pete are watching the footage that was just taken. The dailies are already edited to what we saw!?! They had four cameras on for that stunt. We should see four different angles. It's stupid shit like that that hurts the film.

Then there's this punk ass stupid prick...

I wanted this guy dead from the moment they showed his dumbass mug. He's just a moron that wants to be a stuntman so he annoys the fuck out of the others to let him work for them. They let him start by washing and cleaning up. The next thing you know this dipshit falls backward off of a 40 foot ladder onto a free fall bag to show everyone he can do it. That fucktard would have had the snot beat out of him for putting himself in danger AND for deflating the bag, causing a delay in shooting. Later he ruins another shot by DRIVING A CAR ON ITS' TWO SIDE WHEELS AND CRASHES!!! All they do is yell at him. How the fuck is this acceptable to these people? I would imagine that ANY stunt person would have kicked the shit out of this guy and then put him into the crashed car, doused it with gasoline, set it on fire and have a cookout. W...T...F? I had a reaaaallll problem with this guy.

There's a scene in this picture that had me welling up with emotion. One of the stuntmen, Chuck (Glover), falls to what seems his death. He's alive and in perfect hibernation. Sorry. I couldn't help myself. So he's in the hospital and everyone's told that he will never walk or even speak again. Earlier in the film they had been talking about how horrible that very thing would be. Glen takes the coin in mid-toss and nobly volunteers himself and enters Chuck's room alone knowing what he has to do. He talks to Chuck for a couple of minutes and then flips the switch that, in effect, takes him off of life support. I can't describe how well this scene was handled. No music. Just the cool, centered emotion of Glen and the doomed, motionless look on Chuck's face. I was moved. It surprised me.

I know what I'm watching next

You know there's got to be the "big stunt" that's going to kill Glen because it's the same stunt that killed his younger brother at the start of the picture. We still don't know who the killer is until the nosey reporter/love interest BJ (Fiona Lewis) discovers the truth moments before Glen performs the stunt. It's a race to the film site to stop him from being killed. Predictably, she makes after the stunt has started. Happy ending everybody. Life is good and some people die while others survive. BJ is locked in Glen's embrace when she says, "A very impressive ending" to wit he replies, "Just like in the movies." Kill me. Kill me now.

It's certainly worth watching but only once. There are so many familiar faces that this makes it a no-brainer for a lot of you who love 70s cinema. Having some cool stunts thrown in the mix doesn't hurt. But, PLEASE! They could have at LEAST come up with a better title! STUNTS? WTF? You have got to be kidding! Their alternate title is just as bad. WHO IS KILLING THE STUNTMEN? I'm literally beside myself.

Evel Knievel (1971)

Director: Marvin J. Chomsky

Starring: George Hamilton, Sue Lyon, Bert Freed & DUB "Jitterbug? Say that reminds me. Git back there and kill them cockroaches in that there flour sack!" TAYLOR

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: For Fame, Fortune and Broken Bones!

Plot: Evel Knievel thinks back on his past as he contemplates his next jump.

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? Shit, yeah!

As a kid growing up in the 70s Evel Knievel's name meant one thing. BADASS MOTHERFUCKER! There was nothing it seemed that anyone could do that would top what he did. I remember watching his stunts on TV and playing with his zip cord stunt motorcycle making it do all kinds of jumps and shit. Then STAR WARS came in '77 and changed everything but I still looked up to him with great awe and reverence.

So last night I popped this into the machine thinking it was going to be some lame-ass biopic only to it's funny as hell, well-made, and that I laughed my ass off and enjoyed the hell out of it.

The film opens with silent shots of a giant, empty racetrack stadium. We hear a fanfare of trumpets, horns and percussion much like you hear in a quiet, early morning Olympic documentary. A law enforcement officer pushes a motorcycle to the middle of the track followed by a motorcade of motorcycles ending with a limousine. The chauffeur walks around and opens the door to reveal Evel Knievel. They couldn't have done this with more drama if they tried. I'm practically in tears with laughter.

The music has stopped by this point and EK (George Hamilton) starts into this HUGE fucking speech about how proud and honored he is to risk his life for our entertainment and how people think he's crazy and he's part of a long tradition of men (like Columbus) who dare to attempt the impossible and about patriotism and how Americans do not know the meaning of the words "fear" and "impossible". It's killing me. If it wouldn't take up a full page of text I'd write it down. He ends with (VERY humbly), "I wish to once more say...that you have no good it makes me feel to be here. It is truly an honor." This is soooooooo like what George C. Scott did in the beginning of PATTON (1970) the year before. This is fucking priceless. Hey, I just searched YouTube and found it. Here it is...

And THAT'S just the intro. Before watching this I was dubious about Hamilton as Evel but after that speech I was sold. This has the trapings of a dramatic biopic but they play it so tongue-in-cheek that it works both as a very entertaining biopic of the super daredevil and as a laugh-out-loud comedy. This movie fucking rocks!

We get to see different parts of his life in flashbacks and they cover all the typical bases. He was a rebel, he was arrested, he had a strong sense of importance, a great sense of humor, he was fearless and so on. They also included lots of actual EK stunt footage that kicks major ass. And it's done in such a way that if you didn't know Hamilton wasn't EK then you'd believe it. When we get to see EK (Hamilton) jump for the first time, he really sells it and shows off his flair for drama and showmanship. He circles the ramp, comes back with enough speed that you think he's going to do it but he swerves to make another go around and then does it a couple of more times ending at the top of the ramp and thinks about it, goes back down the ramp and gives himself enough room to make the jump and then he jumps. It was a really nice touch.

I was really struck at how well put together this film is. Sure it's got your bubblegum story but there's a lot of talent in front of and behind the camera. The GREAT character actor, Dub Taylor, is fucking hysterical. This man should have gotten an honorary Oscar for all the great roles he did. Here he's only in it for about ten minutes but it's ten minutes of gold. He's got a great scene with EK where they go back and for negotiating. It's hysterical, perfectly timed and priceless.

There's so many funny moments in thing. I had no idea the film was going to be played for laughs. The actors bring funny nuances to their roles that, if you're tuned to them like I was, you will laugh your ass off. There's one scene where EK is in the hospital after he broke a wagon full of bones in his failed Caesar's Palace jump in 1968. First of all, the show they actual jump in slow motion. WOW. It hurts to watch it. This guy's either got huge balls or an empty head. Then we're at the hospital and he's lying down on the x-ray table. He's insisting to the nurse that he needs a lead covering for his genitals. She's going back and forth with him that they don't have one and don't have time for one. He's hysterically yelling out, "I could get cancer. I could go sterile. Sterile, do you understand me? Give me a lead shield. What kind of place is this? Give me your HAND!" She screams as he grabs her hand and puts it over his junk. Goddamn is this shit funny.

OK, so now he's in the hospital bed after the surgery, all banged up, and he asks the pretty nurse to come around to be in the picture a reporter is about to take when he does one of these numbers:


Then a couple of minutes later he's told by another nurse that it's possible he'll never walk again. Well that's not good enough for Evel so he gets the nurse and his friend/private doctor to wheel him outside where they put him on a motorcycle so he can ride around a bit and prove to everyone that he's coming back stronger and more dangerous than ever. Yeah, it's corny but it's Hamilton's great comic performance that sells the scene and the picture.

My only gripe, besides this only being available on a not-so-good fullscreen DVD, is Paul Williams' (you'll remember him as the shorter fella wearing the white suit in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977)) cornball music which is way over the top. It's pretty much like a lot of scores from the 70s, lots of fuzz guitar, low harmonicas and xylophone. It's par for the course for Williams and for the era but it does date the picture more than this girl's collars:

The picture ends, of course, with the big 21-car jump Evel's been thinking about for the entire picture. Does he make it? Duhhhhh. Naturally. And it's an actual EK jump, too. It's just super fun. I can't recommend this one enough. It's not perfect by a long shot but it is a helluva lot of fun and I would have LOVED to have seen this at a drive-in. There is a film called VIVA KNIEVEL! (1977) that starred EK as himself fighting off drug smugglers. Now THAT'S a film I have got to see. Somehow I don't think the real thing can live up to this imitation. We'll see.

FUCK! I just watched the trailer. This is going to kick some cheesy, cornball ass! Here, check it out...

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Food of the Gods (1976)

Director: Bert I. Gordon

Starring: Ida Lupino and a bunch of actors you've never heard of.

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Welcome to the Bottom of the Food Chain!

Plot: Morgan and his friends are on a hunting trip on a remote Canadian island when they are attacked by a swarm of giant wasps. Looking for help, Morgan stumbles across a barn inhabited by an enormous killer chicken. After doing some exploring, they discover the entire island is crawling with animals that have somehow grown to giant size. The most dangerous of all of these, however, are the rats, who are mobilizing to do battle with the human intruders.

My Rating: 5

Would I watch it again? I'm movin' on...

What a great tagline! What a great premise! Too bad the film doesn't live up to it. It's an OK cheesy-ass sci-fi/horror movie but it's toooooooo slow for my taste. Now, when the giant rats come into play, THEN it starts to kick into high gear and I started to have some fun. The trouble is sitting through some dreadfully boring acting and story waiting for giant bugs and animals to start a'killin' folks.

The absolute best part of the movie are the giant rats. It's obvious that you're looking at rats climbing on models in slow motion but there's something about that cheesiness that makes it so damn fun to watch. Even better are the scenes of the humans shooting at the rats. And when you watch the rats step-by-step you see that they're being hit with spit wads to knock 'em down. Fucking classic. We laughed so goddamned hard it hurt. We must have spent a good 10-15 minutes watching that shit in slow-mo.


Ah hahahahahahahahahahahaha

Considering the budget, I think they did a pretty good job with the special effects. Great location shooting on Bowen Island, BC, Canada. Oooooh, the scene with the guy fighting the giant chicken was really neat although it didn't go down like this...

THAT would have been cool as hell.

The director, Gordon, has 21 films (as director) to his name. Looking at them by the IMDB ratings, his highest rated film is THE BOY AND THE PIRATES (1960) at 4.52 out of 10. Woof. Not good. Regardless, he's got some great titles like ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE (1958), PICTURE MOMMY DEAD (1966) with Zsa Zsa Gabor (!), EARTH VS. THE SPIDER (1958) and NECROMANCY (1972) starring Orson Fucking Welles!!! I'm definitely going to have to check them out. After this, I'm prepared to eat shit but hopefully they won't taste like the food of the gods.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Run for the Sun (1956)

Director: Roy Boulting

Starring: Richard Widmark, Trevor Howard, Jane Greer

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: A raging animal of a man...more savage than any jungle killer!

Plot: Mike (Widmark), a Hemingway-esque adventure novelist, is spending his days in a self-imposed exile somewhere in Central America. A reporter for Sight Magazine, Katie (Greer), has tracked him down in the hope of getting the biggest scoop of her career. Mike falls for Katie. On a flight to Mexico City, their plane crashes near a remote hideaway of Nazi war criminals in hiding. The Nazis want to stay hidden and plan to dispose of their new guests.

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? Sure, but I'll skim past the yawn-inducing first third and get to the jungle bits.

This is a mixed bag. The first half hour is a sappy love story between Mike and Katie, yawn, but the final hour is fantastic. I'm all for a good love story but I was on board for an adventure flick and so far there's no adventure unless you consider the one Mike has as he tries to get into Katie's jungle bush. He offers to fly her himself to Mexico City so she can catch a flight back to the States. On the way, a magnetic case in her purse, next to the compass, throws them off course and their plane crashes when they run out of fuel.

"No time for love, Doctor Jones!"

The plane crash was pretty intense with the plane careening straight into the camera and the score's strings' high-pitched tremolos, then waiting a few seconds, sight-unseen, to see if they made it OK. There's no doubt they do because they're the stars but you know what I mean. This happens 30 minutes into the picture. NOW it's ON! Well, sorta.

They've crashed very near the hidden-in-the-jungle home of some ex-Nazis-in-hiding let by Browne (Howard) and they'd kinda like to stay hidden. The next 30 minutes is pretty intense as their new hosts are creepy, secretive, potentially violent and intelligent. There's a great, disturbing dinner scene with all of the characters when Mike finally realizes that he's heard Browne's voice before and it was on a Nazi radio station. Browne was a traitor to his country (England) and hosted a well-known radio show for Nazi propaganda. Mike and Katie are in danger and start to figure a way out which is going to be difficult since they are many miles deep inside an unforgiving jungle. This third of the film does a great job of building tension and a very real sense of danger. Then they escape.

Now it's this final 30 that suddenly turns this film into a top-notch action chase movie. Mike, looking A LOT like Indiana Jones but more than twenty years prior, cuts his way through the jungle with the thick undergrowth and Katie slowing him down. It won't be long before the Nazis are on their trail. My chest was thumping for the last third of the picture. I figured that they would escape but it didn't matter. The director, Boulting, did a great job with the pacing and tension.

In one cool and unexpected scene, Mike is being chased by one of the Nazi's dogs. He shoots an arrow at it, narrowly missing the dog which then leaps onto Mike and attacks him. Mike struggles and is barely able to reach an arrow lying nearby, taking that arrow and stabbing the shit out of the dog. SWEET!!! This is not what I expected from a film more than 50 years old. Very nice indeed.

Our heroes are eventually chased full circle back to the compound where all but one of the Nazi bad guys are disposed of. There's one left and stands in their way of fleeing in a plane. Mike and Katie make it to the plane leaving the Nazi in front of them firing a rifle. Indiana Jones influence #2. The fly toward him killing his ass with the propeller blade! AWESOME!!!

This film would get an 9 if it weren't for the off-putting, boring first half hour but once you get past that it's a strong, solid suspense/thriller and then balls-to-the-wall action jungle chase. It's not out on DVD but I was able to burn a widescreen copy for myself off of Turner Classic Movies a couple of years ago. Look for it. It's a great way to spend an hour and a half on a lazy weekend.

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Director: Guy Hamilton

Starring: Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Charles Gray, Jimmy Dean

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Diamonds Are Forever"... forever... forever... forever...

Plot: A diamond smuggling investigation leads James Bond to Las Vegas, where he uncovers an extortion plot headed by his nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

My Rating: 5/10

Would I watch it again? Not likely. If I do it's because so much time will have passed and I'll slap it in to see if it's as bad as I remember it. It will be. It willlllll be.

Coming off of the excellent ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (1969), it's not an easy thing to try and top. "Fuck that! Let's turn Bond into a goddamned cartoon character and shit on everything that's come before it!", said the producers of the series. I have no proof that they said that but I couldn't help but feel that those words passed through their lips at some point prior to making this film.

It PAINS me to trash a pre-Brosnan Bond film. There will be another before we get to him. If you take out Lazenby and Dalton (both excellent Bonds), the last Connery Bond picture, the last Moore Bond picture and Brosnan Bond pictures are their a long shot.

So what's wrong with this one since so many fans love it so much? For starters it's a live action cartoon. The pre-credit sequence is the weakest so far. I'm serious. Watch it for yourself (skip the rest of the movie if you've seen it already) and you'll see how amateurishly the sequence is put together. It looks as bad as a cheap Bond knock-off and it looks/feels like a hack directed it. Guy Hamilton made GOLDFINGER for fuck's sake and this is the best that he can do? It's childish at best. FUCK, I wish Lazenby had stayed on because I guarantee they wouldn't have done this story. It would have likely stayed on the same level of seriousness and professionalism that OHMSS had.

One huge issue I had with this is that it's almost entirely set in Las Vegas. Now, it's always neat seeing Vegas in a movie before it became what it is today. THAT'S neat. I remember going there as a child in the late 70s and seeing this picture brings back some memories (especially of Circus Circus). But to have a Bond film spend so much time in one spot gets old and fast. The action sequences aren't thrilling and the one with Bond in a moon buggy is downright silly.

I can't really blame Connery for much of anything because he does a good job with what he has to work with. But then he's the only reason this film is being made so he should have taken more of an interest. He's clearly enjoying himself as he plays with the women, cars and toys. St. John does a good job as his main squeeze, Tiffany Case. My problem is with her character, not her acting. She's a soft, attractive girl that goes from the likable bitch to the unlikeable fawning silly person. Lana Wood as (and has) Plenty O'Toole is bad, bad, bad. If that woman didn't have plenty O'knockers she'd be working at a diner instead of being a Bond girl. Her character is literally a "throwaway".

[Plenty is thrown out of a 10th floor window by some bad guys and lands in a swimming pool]
Bond: [looking down] Exceptionally fine shot.
Cool-Ass Bad Guy: I didn't know there was a pool down there.

Bond isn't challenged much in this one. Sure he's being burned alive in a funeral home crematorium but then he's pulled out of it with barely an explanation. He would have been dead in seconds. Instead, after about a half minute of struggling, he's pulled out by someone and there's only a little scorching on the casket's exterior. Whatever. There are two characters that stand out. Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint (played by Putter Smith (his first acting gig) and Bruce Glover (badass father of Crispin), respectively). They're ruthless badass motherfuckers that kill for a living...and they LIKE it. Oh, and they're gay. They are easily the best thing about this movie. Their humor is dry, witty and downright creepy. If you should ever see this do yourself a favor and pay very close attention to their mannerisms. They're fucking hysterical. They also get a lion's share of some great lines.

After planting a bomb on a helicopter and detonating it shortly after takeoff...
MR. KIDD: If god had wanted man to fly...
MR. WINT: He would have given him wings, Mr. Kidd.

and another...

Mr. Kidd: Well, they're both aboard and I must say that Miss Case seems quite attractive...
[Mr. Wint glares at him]
Mr. Kidd: ...For a lady.
Mr. Kidd: Heh heh heh heh!


The rest of the movie can kiss my tight Bondian ass. Except, maybe, the elevator fight. THAT was a good one. Having Bond fist fight a guy in such tight quarters was neat and inventive. One more thing that bugs me about this movie is how self aware everyone is in the movie. Everyone seems to know who Bond is. When Bond kills the guy in the elevator he switches their wallets. When Case asks him who he killed he pulls out the guys wallet and says, "James Bond". Then she freaks out saying that you can't just kill James Bond and expect nothing to happen. How the FUCK would she know who James Bond is and that he's a SECRET BLOODY AGENT. She's just a fucking smuggler for cryin' out loud. And this isn't an isolated incident. There are more.

"Do you seriously feel threatened, here? Ugh."

The big finale action set-piece tiresomely takes place on an oil rig!!?! It's weak and it's lazy.

Unlike the film, I'll end on a positive note. Bond throws out a great line that stunned me that it was included in the film...

Bond: Weren't you a blonde when I came in?
Case: Could be.
Bond: I tend to notice little things like that - whether a girl is a blonde or a brunette.
Case: Which do you prefer?
Bond: Well, as long as the collar and cuffs match...

Giggidy, Giggidy...Giggidy Goo!

Scorethefilm will return with his thoughts to...


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nude for Satan (1974)

Director: Luigi Batzella

Starring: Rita Calderoni

More Info: IMDB

Plot: While driving through the countryside late at night, Dr. Benson finds a crashed car with a young woman hanging out of it. The doctor puts the girl in his car and drives for help to the nearest house, which turns out to be a mysterious castle. He is greeted at the door by a woman who looks exactly like the woman from the car, and she invites them both to stay for the night. The doctor soon discovers that his host is not the only one in the castle, and that this beautiful woman is concealing a terrifying secret.

My Rating: 3/10

Would I watch it again? Please don't let me

#113 on Drive-In Delirium Vol. 2 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT

The film starts off with a nude woman (presumably for Satan) running through the woods in slow motion as the credits roll and we're treated to some pretty eerie droning music. It doesn't last too long and the rest of the credits play out looking at the front end of a VW Bug.

The Doctor driving that car finds an injured woman and tries to find her shelter for the night, making his way to a castle down the road. Upon entering and searching the seemingly empty castle he hears moaning coming from a nearby room. He opens it to find an orgy of sorts with two women doing each other (gay for Satan?) and third woman going to town on a guy. It's really hardcore. No sneaky edits here. Well, after he watches for THREE FULL MINUTES, the doctor closes the door in disgust!!! I guess it had to soak in what was going on first before he realized he didn't like it. Whatever.

And what's the deal with these lame-ass sex scenes where the women (and the men to a lesser extent because there tends to be a lot of lesbian action going on) flick their tongues about like Gene Simmons at a KISS concert, not sure of what exactly to do? It's goofy as hell. 70s porn is hysterical and hairy. There's more bush here than a topiary training school. One girl's bush is so big it looks like she's got Harpo Marx in a thigh choke hold. One scene has two women scissoring each other. Fucking classic.

I usually watch these films in their original language but for some reason I didn't bother changing the English dub over. Too bad, 'cause it sucks. Near the end of the film I switched over to the original Italian track and the voices were a much better fit to the actors. The English dub alone doesn't bring this down. The dialogue is the stuff of nonsensical mumbo jumbo shit like, "How many things seem what they are not and others not what they seem?" This film's got shit like that in spades. Ugh.

On the flipside it also has some really neat imagery.

Now I'm a man who likes his nude women in movies as much as the next guy but this film's got so much of it you feel like you're dating them. We do get treated to one of the girls being penetrated by a candle. Giggidy.

And I don't know what it is about the Italians and the shitty special effects they created but it doesn't work here. Get a load of the most menacing spider I've ever seen...

Fuck if that doesn't make me afraid of spiders. If they were like this all the time I would just stand there legs apart with my hands on my hips and scoff a them. If it weren't for the massive amounts of nudity and sex in this film I'd say they farmed the special effects out to an elementary school.

What we have here is an interesting idea of a couple meeting their doppelganger made so dull and the only diversion we have is beautiful naked European women. Sure, it sounds like a winner but the sex gets old after a while and the pacing is dreadfully slow. Now I loves me some Eurotrash but this one found me hitting the time left button more times than I can count. It does make for a pretty sedative, though. Not a bad way to fall asleep...

One Million Years B.C. (1966)

Director: Don Chaffey

Starring: Raquel Welch, John Richardson

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: This is the way it was.

Plot: Caveman Tumak (Richardson) is banished from his savage tribe. He finds a brief home among a group of gentle seacoast dwelling cave people until he is banished from them as well. Missing him, one of their women, Loana (Welch) leaves with him, deciding to face the harsh prehistoric world with its monsters and volcanoes as a couple.

My Rating: 6/10

Would I watch it again? Meh

After all these years I've FINALLY gotten around to watching this and it's about what I always expected. "This is the way it was." HA! My ass. That was the way it was on the set maybe. It's pretty much a Creationist's wet dream only 996,000 years too old.

The iconic image of Welch in that leather (not furry as people tend to remember) bikini outfit is second only to Ray Harryhausen's outstanding stop-motion dinosaur animation. WOW! It's especially cool when the humans get eaten. Top-notch work in that department. So while most people will watch this for the scantily clad Welch, I'm in it for the dinosaurs. I'm such a nerd.

There's an effectively creepy scene involving our favorite caveman couple stranded in a tree surrounded by ape-men. The apes don't see them and the sheer number of them along with their obvious ferocity elevate the tension far beyond what I would've expected and what this film deserved.

"It's got spotty fake chest hair and everything!"

The location, shot in Spain, is beautiful and looks/feels ancient. That's pretty much the good. The movie's rather silly and childish so when you notice things like the glue-on hair for the men and the hot, clean-shaven women, you just laugh it off. I suppose there aren't many out there that want realism of the hairy women kind in their movies.

"They didn't teach THIS in my early history books..."

It's sort of a cross between the silly CAVEMAN (1981) with Ringo Starr and the realistic QUEST FOR FIRE (1981). I haven't seen the former since the 80s and I remember loving it. But then that was twenty something years ago. I did see QUEST last year for the first time in over twenty years and it blew me away with it's care for getting as much accurate as we know and for taking it so seriously. I'll have to revisit both of those and soon.

Although it's unlikely I'll ever watch this again in lieu of one I haven't seen, I do recommend it solely for the location shooting and Harryhausen's special effects. It's not that bad of a movie. It's just not a great one, either.