Wednesday, August 29, 2012

W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975)

Director: John G. Avildsen

Starring: Burt Reynolds, Cony Van Dyke, Jerry Reed, Ned Beatty, James Hampton, Don Williams, Rick Hurst, Mel Tillis, Furry Lewis, Art Carney

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Back in 1957, sweet-talking W.W. lived in a '55 Olds, loved bubble gum, Errol Flynn, country music, fried chicken, robbing filling stations, and a girl named Dixie. Not necessarily in that order.

Plot: W.W. is a happy-go-lucky crook who makes his living robbing gas stations through the drive-up windows. The Dixie Dancekings are a country music band trying to get their first big break. W.W. crosses paths with the Dixie Dancekings when he hijacks their car (and them) to help him rob a bank. At first, the band resists. However, when they discover how much money they make, they begin helping out voluntarily in order to finance their big break. At the same time, W.W. takes a liking to them and uses his natural charm and smooth-talking ways to help them start down the road to stardom.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

Back in the late 70s Burt Reynolds was THE MAN! You can tell he's really close to nailing that Burt charm in this picture. Too bad it's not all that great. I liked it OK but there's something about it that's just not sitting right with me. I can't explain it but it doesn't work for me. The acting is fine. It's neat seeing Burt's future BANDIT co-star, Jerry Reed, in his debut role and there are a few familiar character actor faces in the mix. Art Carney brings a little fun to the picture but not nearly as much as there could have been. WW is a misfire of a Southern crime comedy that should have been better. I'm looking at you, John G. "ROCKY (1976)" Avildsen.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Man in the Glass Booth (1975)

Director: Arthur Hiller

Starring: Maximilian Schell, Lois Nettleton, Lawrence Pressman, Luther Adler, Lloyd Bochner, Robert H. Harris

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The kidnapping . . . . The masquerade . . . The murder trial . . . . Perhaps the most suspenseful shocker of our time.

Plot: Arthur Goldman is a rich Jewish industrialist, living in luxury in a Manhattan high-rise. He banters with his assistant Charlie, often shocking Charlie with his outrageousness and irreverence about aspects of Jewish life. Nonetheless, Charlie is astonished when, one day, Israeli secret agents burst in and arrest Goldman for being not a Jewish businessman but a Nazi war criminal. Whisked to Israel for trial, Goldman forces his accusers to face not only his presumed guilt--but their own.


My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? It's worth it but probably not.

I'm a HUGE fan of Schell's. What a fantastic actor! This is essentially his show. He's in every scene (nearly two full hours of them) and he's as eccentric as can be. For the first hour his strange behavior kept me wondering where they were going with it until "it" happens and then the film takes a tonal shift that makes all the sense in the world. That's when Schell's "Arthur Goldman" really kicks into high gear and he becomes VERY interesting...and fun. Then the final few minutes reveal something else that gives this picture the weight it's been building up to and it's a great, albeit tragic, payoff. Schell is brilliant. This might not be the picture you slap in just for the hell of it but you'll be glad you saw it. I am, at least. I knew absolutely nothing about this picture going in and I'm glad as hell I didn't so much as see the trailer. It was more effective that way.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Top of the Heap (1972)

Director: Christopher St. John

Starring: Christopher St. John, Paula Kelly, Florence St. Peter, Leonard Kuras, John Alderson, Patrick McVey, Allen Garfield

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Justice shall be swift and deadly!

Plot: Officer George Lattimer (St. John) is caught between racist white cops and low-life black scum. White cops who see him on the street hassle him and don’t believe he’s a cop, while the criminals he busts don’t take him seriously. His home life is a shambles, and his mistress is whacked-out on god knows what. George fills his hellish life with ridiculous fantasies/flashbacks/flash forwards of life as an astronaut, a jungles dweller, and more.

My rating? 7/10

Will I watch it again? It's not necessary but I'm really glad I saw it.

This is the most surreal Blaxploitation picture I've ever seen...and it makes sense. St. John pulls off a doosey as writer/director/producer/star of this picture but the standout performance (for my money) is Florence St. Peter as George's (St. John) mistress. She's terrific. The scenes are all over the place but they go a long way into getting you inside George's head as he struggles with the world immediately around him from his work as a street cop to a husband, father and lover. Everything is coming together for a perfect storm ready to take down his mind and his ability to control anything. I'm really impressed. You're best bet in finding this is looking in the corners of the web. The best you'll find is a fullscreen VHS rip but it's worth seeking out and try out one of the most (if not the most) cerebral Blaxploitation pictures ever made.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Project Grizzly (1996)

Director: Peter Lynch

Starring: Troy Hurtubise

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Whenever I have that dream... something bad happens.

Plot: A documentary follows a Canadian fellow working on his dream: building a suit of armor so he can observe grizzly bears from a close distance.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

While I give this only a 6.5 (still a good score), PROJECT GRIZZLY falls short in the final twenty minutes for what it doesn't do. If not, it could have easily been an 8. I love watching passionate people regardless of their intellect or where their passions lie (there are exceptions) - like Mark Borchardt in AMERICAN MOVIE (1999). Troy Hurtubise in PROJECT GRIZZLY is a lot like Mark, well, more like an accomplished Mark. Troy has an admirable goal but his reason for pursuing that dream isn't conventional. He also spent nearly $100,000 making the suit that will protect him from a grizzly attack. The build-up is well done and very humorous. Mark is a likable guy and his enthusiasm causes him to say some ridiculous things but it's forgivable. He means well. My disappointment is with him never getting to use the suit for its intended purpose after spending a week in the wilderness searching for "The Old Man", the name he respectfully calls the bear who confronted him many years before. Talk about taking the wind out of the sails. Everything leads to seeing the suit in action (we get to see plenty of hilarious trials and tests early on) in the field and then it just fizzles. Oh well, them's the breaks. Troy is a well-meaning man with a dream and I'm not going to piss on it.

Blood Voyage (1976)

Director: Frank Mitchell

Starring: Warren Farlow, Jonathan Goldsmith, John Hart, Douglas Hume, Pete Kellett, Midori, Mara Modair, Jim Patton, Laurie Rose, Fred Stromsoe, Gene Tyburn

More info: IMDb

Tagline: One is a Killer.. The rest is going to die..!

Plot: What is meant to be a pleasure cruise becomes a nightmare as murder follows murder on a small ship. With tension mounting, passengers and the crew turn on each other in a desperate attempt to identify the killer.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?

S0-so horror/thriller cruise movie that's not all that bad considering it's low budget. One thing that makes this interesting is this is an early prototype slasher made a few years before that type of film was in style. Just a few years later and this would have been a little different and probably a little more enjoyable. That's not to say there's nothing worth seeing here. The cast is better than expected and I liked the surprise ending.

7 Kocali (1979)

Director: ???

Starring: Zerrin Egeliler, Tarik Simsek, Tugay Toksoz

More info: ???

Plot: A woman, who is married to 7 husbands (unbeknownst to them) for financial reasons, entertains each one only one day a week...that is until they discover they aren't the only ones.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

This Turkish 70s exploitation picture had one thing going for it, the reason I watched it...Zerrin Egeliler.

It doesn't really matter that this picture has no English dub or subtitles and that the picture quality is shit. There's very little to this sub-60 minute 'comedy'. The music is sometimes cool (I dig those Turkish beats, man) and seeing Egeliler topless throughout most of it is nice but the comedy bits are really broad and unfunny.

Fans for Zerrin Egeliler only.

Bugsy (1991)

Director: Barry Levinson

Starring: Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Harvey Keitel, Ben Kingsley, Elliott Gould, Joe Mantegna, Richard C. Sarafian, Bebe Neuwirth

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Glamour Was The Disguise.

Plot: New York gangster Ben 'Bugsy' Siegel takes a brief business trip to Los Angeles. A sharp-dressing womaniser with a foul temper, Siegel doesn't hesitate to kill or maim anyone crossing him. In L.A. the life, the movies, and most of all strong-willed Virginia Hill detain him while his family wait back home. Then a trip to a run-down gambling joint at a spot in the desert known as Las Vegas gives him his big idea.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again? Oh, yeah.

I digs me some gangster pictures and especially those that take place during the first half of the 20th century. BUGSY is a really good movie across the board. Ennio Morricone's score is hauntingly poignant and fateful. Yeah, there are hints of his score from THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987) but that's forgivable since he's got some beautiful themes here. The casting is equally good with Bening as the standout. She's amazing. I can see how Beatty could fall for a broad like that. She's not just a pretty, I mean GORGEOUS, woman but she's smart and a damn fine actress. What a performance!!! Then there's Beatty. I REALLY dig him but in this picture he's playing Bugsy the same way he's played many other characters to where I get the impression that he's really like that in real life. I love his optimism and drive and Beatty is the kind of actor that can deliver that in spades but here he's not bringing much to the character but Warren Beatty and, in the end, I'm perfectly OK with that. Nobody does Beatty like Beatty. The extras on the DVD are well worth the time. There's a section on how important a good DP is and demonstrated that by how Allen Daviau made one minor adjustment that didn't need to be there but it transformed the scene into art. Damn, I love the movies.

MoH 113: Imprint (2006)

Director: Takashi Miike

Starring: Billy Drago, Shiho Harumi, Michie, Magy, Shin'ichi Tokuhara, Mame Yamada

More info: IMDb

Plot: In the 1800s, an American returns to Japan to find the prostitute he fell in love with, but instead learns of the psychical and existential horror that befell her after he left.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No (say that 5 times in Japanese, die, then come back and haunt me)

Here's another director I admire (along with pretty much everyone else who directed one of these MoH episodes). This can't possibly be the same Takashi Miike I'm familiar with. Surely he sublet this picture to someone else and took the credit. And I LOVES me some Billy Drago. I don't need to list his many filmed bits of awesomeness but if all he ever did was play Frank Nitti in THE UNTOUCHABLES (1989) then he'd by in my favorite character actor Hall of Fame. This guy's a fucking rock star.

Really? Is everyone involved with this thing HIGH? What the hell was that? And it's not like this is an isolated scene of what-the-fuckitude, either. He's like that till the end. The makeup on Mame Yamada is great. The actress is horrible. It's like Miike felt sorry for George Lucas and invited him to make a horror moive in his stead. That's how bad the acting is. I'm shocked, nay, horrified! If your lead actress is playing a Japanese character, at least find someone who, oh I don't know, has some kind of a Japanese accent. OMFG she's so not right for this.

There's one more thing that REALLY made this one hard for me to finish. ??? tells her story, Drago doesn't believe it and then she tells him "the real story". This happens three times. Here's a sample of how this goes down.

YAMADA: Here's what happened [she tells the story]
DRAGO: I don't believe it.
YAMADA: OK, so here's what really happened. [she tells a different, more horrific tale]
DRAGO: I don't believe it.
YAMADA: OK, so here's what REALLY happened. [she tells yet another version of the story more grisly and depressing than the last one]

I would say I was speechless when I watched this but I was quite vocal while yelling at the TV. I loved Billy Drago so much. Now I don't know what to believe. My dreams have been shattered. I am no longer the innocent I thought I was.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001)

Director: Larry Blamire

Starring: Fay Masterson, Andrew Parks, Susan McConnell, Brian Howe, Jennifer Blaire, Larry Blamire, Dan Conroy, Robert Deveau, Darrin Reed

More info: IMDb

Tagline: This was the day the Earth was disemboweled in terror!

Plot: A dedicated scientist, aided by his clueless wife, rolls up his shirt sleeves and tries to save the world from a radioactive monster, curious space aliens, an evil scientist and a crabby skeleton in this send-up of the best of the B movies of the 1950's.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Rowerrrrr!

Often times when someone sets out to make a picture as ambitious as this, it falls flat. Now this may not be a home run but it is a movie that's fun and captures the silliness of the flicks of the 50s. They also added lots of humor to let you know it's perfectly OK to laugh. LSoC looks like it was a really fun shoot for the cast and crew. I'm Jealous. One of the biggest things Blamire got right was using a score composed of stock library cues that were actually used in a lot of the films they're so fondly recalling. It's a brilliant stroke that goes a long way in living out the conceit. I've seen it twice already and I'm looking forward to hearing the commentary and seeing the other films that Blamire and pals have made. There's some real talent here and it'd be a shame not to encourage it. Besides, maybe Jennifer Blaire (who plays Animala, the sexy gal who does the animal dance) will show up again and make things all tingly again. Rowerrrrr!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

High Risk (1981)

Director: Stewart Raffill

Starring: James Brolin, Anthony Quinn, Lindsay Wagner, James Coburn, Ernest Borgnine, Bruce Davison, Cleavon Little, Chick Vennera

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Getting in was easy... getting out was war!!!

Plot:Four American friends, badly needing money, decide to make a commando-like raid into a South American country and steal $5 million from the hacienda of an American-born drug dealer who lives there. The four Americans then succeed rather easily in stealing the money, but soon run into trouble trying to get back out of the country, as both the drug dealer and a small army of bandits each hunt them down trying to get the money.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? As soon as a good widescreen print surfaces.

For the most part I dig this picture. It's got a lot of nice things going for it. The action is pretty solid and there's a lot more tension in those scenes than you would expect. On the other hand, there are moments of stupid like when a couple of guys have to suddenly make a run for it after being on the make with these chicks and one of the guys end up wearing a dress. I hate stupid shit like that. If they had concentrated on making a solid action movie it would have been much better. Considering the cast, it's worth watching. The print I watched was a fullscreen VHS copy, not the best way to see it but right now it's the only way.

Gold of the Amazon Women (1979)

Director: Mark L. Lester

Starring: Bo Svenson, Anita Ekberg, Donald Pleasence, Richard Romanus, Bob Minor, Maggie Jean Smith

More info: IMDb

Plot: An adventurer searches for the fabled Golden Cities of El Dorado and allies himself with a tribe of Amazon women against a murderous villain who is also after the treasure.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nope.

It's only a few minutes in when you understand the tone of the film. It's campy and the film makers know it.

Bo Svenson does a pretty good job with the material but he's mostly phoning it in. It's a paycheck film. For a while I thought this was a RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) clone but then I saw this TV movie pre-dates RAIDERS by a couple of years.

It looks like Anita Ekberg has put on a few pounds and decided to slum it...

But then there's this actress...

I wonder why we haven't seen her in more movies. Hmmm. She has a lovely smile.

Speaking of picking up a paycheck, Donald Pleasance is doing it for the money and a chance to hang around young girls in the jungle. Even though he's slumming it he's hamming it up and having a good time. What an easy gig this must have been for everyone involved. I was surprised that this was made for TV. The look and feel of it, while definitely low budget, seemed like it was a full-on Italian adventure flick. GotAW is dumb and disposable but it's not a complete waste of time, just a partial one. You can always do better but you could also do a hell of a lot worse.

Darkman (1990)

Director: Sam Raimi

Starring: Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Colin Friels, Larry Drake, Nelson Mashita, Jessie Lawrence Ferguson, Rafael H. Robledo, Dan Hicks, Ted Raimi

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They destroyed everthing he had, everything he was. Now, crime has a new enemy and justice has a new face.

Plot: Peyton Westlake (Neeson) is a scientist who has discovered a way to produce synthetic skin. This could revolutionise skin grafting, except for one minor glitch; the synthetic skin degrades after 100 minutes of exposure to light. When gangsters attack Peyton, he is horrifically burnt, and assumed dead. In his quest for revenge, Peyton, aka the Darkman, is able to take on the appearance of anyone (using the synthetic skin,) but he's only got 100 minutes per disguise.

My rating: 9/10

Will I watch it again? Duh.

I've always heard that Sam Raimi had his heart set on directing BATMAN (1989) and that when that honor went to Tim Burton, he set out to make his own damn comic book movie and, in my opinion, he made a better one and he even used Burton's go-to composer, Danny Elfman. This was back when Elfman could do no wrong and was cranking out great scores with wonderful themes left and right. This picture is no exception.

The story hits all the right beats. There's humor (Raimi's style of funny is just...hilarious), action, horror, sci-fi goodness and a 90 minute thrill ride that's exactly what a good action hero comic movie should be. I adore this movie and it's just icing on the cake that Raimi's favorite chin-god, Bruce Campbell, shows up for a brief cameo just before the credits roll. Too bad he didn't end up in the sequels, which I haven't seen a single one...yet. I know they're not going to come close to being as fun as this one but I need to take the plunge already and just do it.

MoH 112: Haeckel's Tale (2006)

Director: John McNaughton

Starring: Steve Bacic, Micki Maunsell, Gerard Plunkett, Derek Cecil, Pablo Coffey, Jon Polito

More info: IMDb

Plot: While on his way to see his sick father, a man takes shelter with an elderly man and his young wife but soon discovers their horrible secret.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Oh, boy! A Gothic horror episode! Oh, no. It's boring as fuck all. John McNaughton's HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1986)! I was so excited with anticipation for this episode that I practically had my dick in my hand. I can handle slow and liesurely-paced movie but I can't handle slow and "I don't give a fuck". It's not just the pacing but I really didn't care for any of the characters, the story or the ho-hum conclusion. Color me flaccid on this one.

Transporter 2 (2005)

Director: Louis Leterrier

Starring: Jason Statham, Alessandro Gassman, Amber Valletta, Kate Nauta, Matthew Modine, Jason Flemyng, Keith Dabid

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Best In The Business Is Back In The Game.

Plot: Mercenary Frank Martin, who specializes moving goods of all kinds, surfaces again this time in Miami, Florida when he's implicated in the kidnapping of the young son of a powerful USA official.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah, and it's fun enough for me to give the first film another shot.

The first film was a mixed bag for me. I've seen it twice already and both times I felt like it wanted to be taken seriously for a while and then it nukes the fridge and turns into a cartoon. This sequel knows what it wants to be from start to finish, an outrageous and ridiculous roller coaster ride of an action movie and it excels at it. I really like this one so much so that I might not watch the first film again and just start with #2. Statham plays the same type of guy he plays in just about every movie and I love him for it. He's one of the few manly guys in action movies these days. He's no Bronson, Marvin, Coburn, Shaw or Holden but he's probably the closest we've got.

I like the relationship Statham's Transporter has with the police guy. It's fun and playful. The fights are fun as hell, too. I loved the scene with the fire house. It was just one cool-ass move after another. It was like a Jackie Chan scene but with more balls and pain, and I loves me some Jackie Chan. I can't wait to see the third movie. What fun!

Lockout (2012)

Directors: James Mather & Stephen St. Leger

Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun, Lennie James, Peter Starmare, Jacky Ido, Tim Plester

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Take no prisoners.

Plot: A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. is offered his freedom if he can rescue the president's daughter from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah!

I'm a huge fan of Guy Pearce so regardless of how bad the reviews are, I'll see his movies. This didn't last 10 minutes in the theaters in my area and I so I missed it. I barely knew it was out before it was gone. I've finally had a chance to see it and I'm sad I didn't see it in the theater. I really enjoyed it and it's largely due to Pearce's wise-cracking badass character, Snow. He's terrific. Maggie Grace surprised the hell out of me. Usually a character like hers is poorly written and equally acted but I really dug her performance. I Loved the trailer but it felt like it was a space remake of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981) which was kind of a turn off. In some ways it is like the John Carpenter film (I could easily see a 1981-era Kurt Russell in this role, too) but it's also having lots of fun and throwing in a back story for why the President's daughter is at the space prison to begin with. The ending is stupid silly like something out of a Michael Bay movie but you should have already surrendered your suspension of disbelief to go along for the ride regardless of where it takes you. My friends and I had a great time with this one. Don't let the 37% Rotten Tomato score steer you away.

Green Ice (1981)

Director: Ernest Day

Starring: Ryan O'Neal, Anne Archer, Omar Sharif, Domingo Ambriz, John Larroquette, Philip Stone, Michael Sheard, Enrique Lucero

More info: IMDb

Tagline: He wanted adventure...She craved revenge...Emeralds held the answer.

A jolly romantic comedy set against a background of torture, murder and rebel guerrillas being fed to the hogs in the prisons of Colombia. O'Neal and Archer play a couple of Americans meeting cute in Mexico, then heading for Colombia, where she takes over from a sister shot while working for the rebel cause, and he (at first with itchy fingers for the loot) helps her replenish the rebel coffers through a daring heist of emeralds from a government stronghold right out of a James Bond movie (with Sharif a villain to match).

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? Nn, no, no.

This is nothing more than a slightly south of professional, middle of the road caper picture with a cheesy score (and songs), a meandering and implausible script and an annoying performance from O'Neal. The Colombian scenery, however, is gorgeous. It's ROMANCING THE STONE (1984)-light. It's as if Robert Zemeckis (the director of RtS) saw this and called 'bullshit' and made his own Colombian gemstone adventure and did it a gazillion times better. I'm not going to pull a comparison card on this movie but it's hard not to think of the better film when watching this. O'Neal's performance is forced and too light hearted. He's playing the type of character he did so often back then and it doesn't work so well in this flick. There's a scene early in the picture where he drives up to a man working on his airplane and instantly knows what the problem is...from 30 feet away, knowing nothing about why the guy's tinkering with it to begin with! He suggested replacing the electronic something or another and he's so fucking smug about it. It's retarded bullshit like that that sinks this picture. Anne Archer fares better and John
Larroquette is hilarious (and turns in the most enjoyable performance in the movie) but that's not enough to save this thing. Go watch ROMANCING THE STONE a few dozen times instead.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Expendables 2 (2012)

Director: Simon West

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, Nan Yu

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Back for War.

Plot: Barney (Stallone) and his team are thwarted on there mission by Vilain (Vann Damme) a terrorist who has his own evil plan on world domination. Will Barney and his team stop him before it's too late?

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes, and it's good enough for me to give the first film another shot someday.

The first EXPENDABLES (2010) movie didn't impress me as much as it should have but I still had a good time. On this trip we get more Dolph (good thing), very little Randy (bad thing - but he's great with what little they give him), more Arnold (sometimes a good thing), more Bruce (a better thing than the first one) and more group action and less Sly & Jason time (VERY good thing). One of the problems I had with the first film is there was too much time with Sly & Jason away from the group. I liked those two together but I wanted to see more of the Expendables. The sequel is ALL Expendables.

The Arnold bits are mostly fun and Chuck gets a couple of fun moments. The biggest issue I have with this flick is that there are a shit-ton of one-liners. Only half of them work and a lot of them feel shoehorned in JUST so we could get a laugh out of a reference to one of these guys's previous movies. Arnold suffers the most from the latter. His line deliveries are hit and miss and when he hits, it's golden, but when he misses is groanin'. I like this film. It's a great summer blockbuster escapist night at the movies. You know what you're in for before you're butt's in the seat so go and have a good time. I'm looking forward to seeing Ex3 in a couple of years. The only question now is, who's going to join the cast? Seagal? Kurt Russell? Mel? Harrison Ford won't do it for sure. Then there's Jackie Chan and Wesley Snipes. This list is getting tougher and not in a good way. Oh, and for anyone who is disappointed (like I was before I saw it) that this is rated PG-13 (the first one was R), don't worry. There are several moments where they push the limits of the rating system. There is enough blood and carnage to satisfy although you'll be hungry to see the eventual unrated Blu-ray.

Exorcismo (1975)

Director: Juan Bosch

Starring: Paul Naschy, Maria Perschy, Maria Kosty, Mercedes Molina, Jordi Torras, Luis Induni

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A theme that has thrilled audiences all over the world - now terrifyingly set forth.

Plot: A young woman unknowingly participates in a satanic ceremony which causes her to be possessed by the spirit of her dead father. She promptly begins exhibiting the standard symptoms - curses, vomiting, and even twisting the heads of a few people 180 degrees. Naschy plays the village priest summoned to perform the rites of exorcism, and must fend off the possessed's lewd advances before casting the evil spirit out of her body.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Whenever something as popular and profitable as THE EXORCIST (1973) comes along you can bet that there will be a lot of folks cashing in on its success. THE EXORCIST had a large share of imitators, most of them dreadfully boring. EXORCISMO is no exception. It's better than some rip-offs I've seen but that's not saying much. Paul Naschy is bland. He's got a cult following but i don't get it. I can't recall seeing him in anything where he exhibited any charisma. For the most part the film suffers from drag. It's slow and uninteresting. The only really aspect I enjoyed was Alberto Arguo's score. His oft-used theme never got old. I'm finding that JAWS (1975) rip-offs are a lot more fun than THE EXORCIST ones.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Eddie Izzard: Definite Article (1996)

Director: Ed Bye

Starring: Eddie Izzard

More info: IMDb

Plot: Charismatic, cross dressing comedian Eddie Izzard appeared live at the Shaftebury Theater in his native England in 1996; his irreverent humor is present in full force during this recorded performance. The routine touches upon the varying topics of fashion, James Bond, Noah, and doggy-style sex, all in his characteristically diassociated delivery.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Nope.

I've tried to get into Izzard's stand-up but I just can't and I've seen A LOT of his work. I like his acting and his persona but I don't find 98% of his jokes/bits funny. This concert is 12 minutes shy of two hours and I laughed out loud once (the James Bond routine was pretty damn funny) and smiled a couple of times. That's not much for such a long show. Hell, I even watched the near-hour featurette on the DVD that goes into his world tour. He actually did his show in French while performing in France. I'm impressed. It's ballsy, I'll give him that. I really want to be among the legions of fans of his stand-up but I can't let myself be counted among them based on this performance.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

Director: Renny Harlin

Starring: Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Yvonne Zima, Craig Bierko, Tom Amandes, Brian Cox, G.D. Spradlin

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Eight years ago she lost her memory. Now, a detective must help her remember the past before it buries them both. What's forgotten is not always gone.

Plot: Samantha Caine, suburban homemaker, is the ideal mom to her 8 year old daughter Caitlin. She lives in Honesdale, PA, has a job teaching school and makes the best Rice Krispie treats in town. But when she receives a bump on her head, she begins to remember small parts of her previous life as a lethal, top-secret agent. Her old chums in the Chapter are now out to kill her so she enlists the help of a cheap detective named Mitch. As Samantha remembers more and more of her previous life, she becomes deadlier and more resourceful.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

After hearing time and time again from just about everyone how great this movie was I figured it was time got around to watching. I'm not the biggest fan of Renny Harlin. CUTTHROAT ISLAND (1995) killed it for me (also starring Gena Davis). What a stinker. It was seriously that movie that kept me from watching anything else he did. This one wasn't so bad. I liked Davis's transition from innocent to killer. I was impressed. She was great and Sammy Jackson was great, too (as always...almost - I can't shake his suckiness in the Star Wars prequels). I was riding along with the picture nicely until the last 20 minutes where it got more and more ridiculous - that stupid Hollywood over-the-top action ridiculous. They were doing so well and then it gets nutty. Overall, though, it's not that bad but not as good as it could have and should have been.

Maverick (1994)

Director: Richard Donner

Starring: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, James Garner, Graham Greene, Alfred Molina, James Coburn, Dub Taylor, Geoffrey Lewis, Paul L. Smith, Dan Hedaya, Dennis Fimple, Denver Pyle

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The greatest gambler in the West has finally met his match.

Plot: A gunslinging con man develops a tricky scheme to make a killing at a major poker tournament in this comic Western inspired by the popular television show. Mel Gibson assumes the role of Bret Maverick, the handsome rogue who hopes to cheat his way to success. In need of a large stake to enter a major card competition on a Louisiana steamboat, Maverick decides to take advantage of a few small-town poker players. These include the seemingly sweet Annabelle Bransford (Foster) and the intimidating Angel (Molina), neither of whom is too happy about their loss. Things become even more complicated for Maverick when the law gets involved, with Marshal Zane Cooper (Garner, who played the role of Maverick in the original television series) giving chase. A series of stagecoach chases, complicated cons, and gun battles ensues, with Annabelle and Maverick finding time for plenty of flirtation along the way.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? You betcha!

It's been a lot of years since I saw this and boy, oh boy, is it fun. I can't recall seeing a Western this fun in the theater since. There have been some good ones but not grin-inducing as this picture. Gibson's at his lovable prime. He's so genuinely likable that I didn't like Jodi Foster's character because she kept fucking him over. Watching Maverick get out of every single scrape (and still take a good licking) is tremendously fun. The supporting cast and cameos is a who's who of classic b-movie and Western actors as well as a lot of country & western music stars of the day. I love pictures like this where I find myself constantly looking for some old familiar faces in the background. Outside of the leads, Graham Greene steals the movie in my book. He's hilarious and should have been nominated for an Oscar for a supporting role. I was almost in tears with laughter and he does so effortlessly well. This has got me in the mood to slap on one of my all-time favorites, THREE AMIGOS (1986). What a hoot!