Friday, April 19, 2013

Cover Girls (1977)

Director: Jerry London

Starring: Cornelia Sharpe, Jayne Kennedy, Don Galloway, Michael Baseleon, DeVeren Bookwaiter, Jerry Douglas, Sean Garrison, Don Johnson, George Lazenby, Bill Overton, Ellen Travolta, Vince Edwards

More info: IMDb

Plot:  Cornelia Sharpe and Jayne Kennedy play Linda and Monique who are beautiful fashion models and also undercover agents and are tasked to capture a dangerous man bent on kidnapping famous fashion designers.

My rating:4/10

Will I watch it again? Geez, no.

Please don't hate me for watching this crap.  I was drawn to it by George Lazenby.  How how far he fell after ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (1969).  Anyway, it's completely obvious after the first two minutes this is a blatant CHARLIE'S ANGELS rip-off and it's just as bad as that show if maybe a little worse. 

Besides the always awesome George Lazenby (who's not in this much and even he couldn't have saved it if he were)...

there's always an early performance of Don Johnson!

He's the one with the guitar in behind the microphone.  He's rockin' that 'stache!

If you like CHARLIE'S ANGELS then you'll probably dig this.  Wait, no you won't.  It's just as bad and cheesy as that show was.  The only difference is you probably won't glean any midnight fantasy material from the gals in this picture...

or maybe you will.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Katt Williams: Pimpadelic (2009)

Starring: Katt Williams

More info: IMDb

Plot: Comedian Katt Williams talks intimately about his family, career, god, his future and the state of the comedy business.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Nah, I'll get the CD instead.

Surprisingly, I'd never heard of Katt Williams until I watched this.  He's very funny.  It's not all gold but his bit talking to his kid about how to be a pimp, explaining that he can have an XBOX but instead he could have a NES with a bunch of games is hilarious.  Hilarious.  What I didn't like about this DVD is that his standup is interrupted with Katt riding in a car through his old neighborhood talking about this and that.  It wasn't all that interesting but it would have better served the production if they had added that as an extra instead of breaking up his routine.  It's jarring and it keeps it from being fully enjoyable.  I am excited now to check out his other work.

The Diane Linkletter Story (1970)

Director: John Waters

Starring: David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Divine

More info: IMDb

Plot: This improvised film, directed by John Waters, is based on the 1969 suicide of TV personality Art Linkletter's daughter, Diane. In the film, Mr. and Mrs. Linkletter fret about their daughter's recent behavior, which includes taking drugs and dating a lowlife named Jim.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

I wish I knew the story behind the film before I watched it.  It makes a lot more sense now.  The back story gives you some context.  Otherwise it didn't have much meaning.  It's great seeing these three actors who are so prominently featured in John Waters's early films.  They're a gas.  The problem is that Lochary and Pearce go on and on and on about their daughter doing drugs.  It's funny though how they throw in some social commentary about not being involved in their daughter's life more. Then there's Divine showing up being the difficult daughter.  Funny shit, that.  And of course there's the last half minute where Divine ends it all. Upon watching it I was thinking that this is just Waters & pals making a short film that didn't make a whole lot of sense as to why they made it.  Now I know and it'll make the next viewing that much better.  Now it's tasteless and I respect it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Nosferatu (1922)

Director: F.W. Murnau

Starring: Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Great Schroder, Alexander Granach, Georg H. Schnell, Ruth Landshoff, John Gottowt, Gustav Botz, Max Nemetz, Wolfgang Heinz, Albert Venohr, Eric van Viele

More info: IMDb

Plot: Wisbourg, Germany based estate agent Knock dispatches his associate, Hutter, to Count Orlok's castle in Transylvania as the Count wants to purchase a isolated house in Wisbourg. They plan on selling him the one across the way from Hutter's own home. Hutter leaves his innocent wife, Ellen, with some friends while he is away. Hutter's trek is an unusual one, with many locals not wanting to take him near the castle where strange events have been occurring. Once at the castle, Hutter does manage to sell the Count the house, but he also notices and feels unusual occurrences, primarily feeling like there is a dark shadow hanging over him, even in the daytime when the Count is unusually asleep. Hutter eventually sees the Count's sleeping chamber in a crypt, and based on a book he has recently read, believes the Count is really a vampire or Nosferatu. While Hutter is trapped in the castle, the Count, hiding in a shipment of coffins, makes his way to Wisbourg, causing death along his way, which most attribute to the plague. Hutter himself tries to rush home to save his town and most importantly save Ellen from Nosferatu's imminent arrival. In Wisbourg, Ellen can feel the impending darkness as Nosferatu gets closer. But she learns that a sinless woman can sacrifice herself to kill the vampire. Will Hutter be able to save Ellen either from Nosferatu and/or her self-sacrifice?

My rating: 10/10

Will I watch it again? Naturally.

This film and the Werner Herzog 1979 remake with klaus Kinski are my two favorite vampire flicks.  After 90 years the '22 film is still a damn eerie and effective flick.  There hasn't been a more frightening vampire than what Max Schreck gave us.  I've seen it many times but last night I watched the version that has a soundtrack by Type O Negative.  I'd always thought they wrote the score/tunes to fit the film but it turns out that Arrow Videos created the soundtrack from the band's songs taken from their first four albums.  I really dug the music and sometimes the songs worked.  There are a few spots where the music awkwardly faded from one tune to the next.  It doesn't succeed as much as I'd like it to.  I'm a huge soundtrack geek so having a good score is important to me.  Since these songs were never written with this film in mind, it's only going to work on a certain level.  It's a great marriage of music and film if you wanted something to throw on the TV for a Halloween party - great music and great visuals.  More than a decade ago I tried my hand at piecing together a score for this film using cues written by Wojciech Kilar for THE NINTH GATE (1999) and BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA (1992).  I probably spent all of three or four hours working on it but the finished product was pretty fucking dark.  If you're familiar with these scores then you can imagine how much it could enhance the visuals.  Someday I'd like to take what I did and refine it.  THAT'S the version I'd like to see next.

Here's the full movie with the Type O Negative soundtrack.

The Marrying Kind (1952)

Director: George Cukor

Starring: Judy Holliday, Aldo Ray, Madge Kennedy, Sheila Bond, John Alexander, Rex Williams, Phyllis Povah, Mickey Shaughnessy, Griff Barnett, Charles Bronson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: "Shaddup!"

Plot: Florrie and Chet Keefer have had a troublesome marriage. While in the middle of a divorce hearing the judge encourages them to remember the good times they have had hoping that the marriage can be saved.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

#5 on Project: Badass Charles Bronson

LEVEL OF BADASSICITY (10 being the highest): 3

Normally with a title like that you'd think it would STAR Charles Bronson but, then again, he's not the marrying kind...he's the takes what he wants, when he wants and you'll take it and like it kind.  Sadly he's got a bit part as Chet's (Ray)co-worker at the post office and he doesn't even have a single line of dialogue.  I guess the producers realized that once he spoke there wouldn't be a gal in the audience who'd be able to forget about him and concentrate on Aldo Ray.  They were already gambling that wouldn't happen just by having him in the picture AND in the same scene as Ray.  It's a good thing Bronson kept his shirt on or the camera would have exploded.

The first half of this is a straight up comedy.  The main characters are ambitious, easily excitable and none too bright.  It's almost annoying.  Fortunately the picture gets more and more serious as it goes, toning down the funny to show the downward spiral of a marriage on the outs.  There's a scene where Chet and Florrie (Holliday) are talking about a horrific tragedy to the judge (I was shocked, by the way) and Ray has a moment of sadness that took me by surprise.  For the first time this kid was showing some range and it looked genuine.  Florrie got better (and less annoying) as the picture went on.  It's that high pitched voice that got to me.  She does a great job playing a ditzy broad.  It was neat discovering online that she reportadly had an IQ of 172.  Nice.  The picture ends as you would suspect but there was quite a journey the leads took that didn't seem normal for the day.  I'm impressed.  Oh, do you remember the foul-mouthed old woman from EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE (1978) who played Clint Eastwood's mother, Ruth Gordon?  Yeah, she wrote the screenplay for this.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mondo Trasho (1969)

Director: John Waters

Starring: Mary Vivian Pearce, Divine, David Lochary, Mink Stole, Bob Skidmore, Margie Skidmore, Berenica Cipcus, Jack Walsh

More info: IMDb

Plot: A day in the lives of a hit-and-run driver and her victim, and the bizarre things that happen to them before and after they collide (sexual assault by a crazed foot-fetishist, visions of the Virgin Mary, strange chicken-foot grafting operations).

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? Uh, no.

I'm a HUGE fan of Waters even though I've only seen three of his films.  PINK FLAMINGOS (1972) is one of my all time favorite fun flicks.  A friend and I were on a 'let's see some John Waters we've never seen before' kick and this was the start of it.  Woof.  I guess Waters had to start somewhere.  This is his first feature length film and it's for die hard Waters fans only.  The film doesn't exactly live up to the awesome title.

The 87 minute film (we'll get to that issue in a moment) begins with a 17th century executioner axing the heads off of live chickens.  Don't worry, folks, the picture's in black & white.  Two minutes of that and then Mary Vivian Pearce decked out in Betty Boop eyes spends several minutes walking to the bus stop and waiting for the bus...all to the graduation march, Pomp and Circumstance.  Then it's a lovely walk to the park (which looks like the same one seen in PF) where she pulls a small grocery store pack of raw ground beef, pinches off bits of it and feeds the ants on the sidewalk.  With me so far?  Then Danny Mills shows up, lurking behind her, and shows us that he's got a foot fetish.  The next thing you know they're in the woods and he's licking her feet for a few minutes.  At some point she gets hit by a car, driven by Divine, and more crazy stuff happens from there.

Where do I start with what's wrong with this?  The music is a mish-mash of songs, mostly short to long snippets, that get played many, many times to the point of over-use within a half hour.  There's barely any dialogue at all so you're ears are forced to listen to the repetitive tunes.  Some are great but they get old and fast.  It's very ameteurish and you can tell he learned an awful lot between this and PF four years later.  What I loved about it was seeing a lot of familiar faces that were also in PF before they had perfected their, uh, craft.  For that reason alone it's worth watching but be warned, you will lose an hour and a half by doing so.  I'm glad I watched it but I'm also glad it's over.

Friday the 13th (2009)

Director: Marcus Nispel

Starring: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle, Aaron Yoo, Derek Mears, Jonathan Sadowski

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Welcome to Crystal Lake

Plot: A group of young adults discover a boarded up Camp Crystal Lake, where they soon encounter Jason Voorhees and his deadly intentions.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

What's this, tits (albeit fake) and kills (and GREAT kills at that) in the first twenty minutes?  You have my attention.  The next 80 minutes aren't too shabby, either.  I like the time and place of the original more as well as the openness of the camp but this reboot has its nudity and kills.  Isn't that why we watch this franchise to begin with?  Without great kills a Jason Voorhees picture would be neutered. I'm not 100% sold on the underground tunnels thing but it makes sense and I'm willing to roll with it. The ending to this one was kind of weak but the rest of it was rather fun. I'm sure I'll get around to seeing it again in a decade or two but, geez, where's the sequel?  It's been four years now.  Did they piss off franchise fans that much to keep from making more of these?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Heat Wave (1954)

Director: Ken Hughes

Starring: Alex Nicol, Hillary Brooke, Sid James, Susan Stephan, Paul Carpenter, Alan Wheatley, Peter Illing, Gordon McLeod, Joan Hickson, John Sharp, Hugh Dempster, Monti DeLyle

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Her blood runs HOT...but her heart is COLD!

Plot: An American writer living in England gets entangled in a scheme by a beautiful blonde to murder her rich husband.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

The original title, THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE, is far more appropriate than HEAT WAVE as the latter doesn't make a lick of sense after you watch the movie, unless maybe it's describing what's going on in Mark's pants.  There is a house across the lake, though.  This is the second feature on a disc which is part of a Hammer noir set and it shares a common failing with the other picture, THE LADY AND THE GAMBLER (1952), the American lead actor's skills (or performance) aren't up to the standard of the entire British cast that surrounds him.  Alex Nicol (as Mark Kendrick, the love-struck sap), looking like Russell "The Professor from GILLIGAN'S ISLAND" Johnson plays his role with too much confidence and aloofness and it doesn't work well.  It's especially out of place when looking at the heaviness of the themes - adultery, loneliness and murder.

Sid James (as Beverly Forrest, the rich husband whose loose wife plots to kill him) comes off best.  He's fantastic and is worth watching this picture all on his own but there's more to like.  Hillary Brooke (as Bev's wife, Carol) is great as the bad-news-bitch.  It's a tried and true story about a lowly sort who falls for the wrong dame, one who's married to a rich man waiting for someone to come along that's just dumb enough and capable enough to bump off her husband.  I could watch variations on that theme forever and a day.  There's an awful lot you can do with that scenario.  Hammer produced a good one here despite the lackadaisical performance of Nicol.  It's not that he's turning in a poor performance but rather one that's not quite right for the picture.  Very good downbeat ending, by the way.  So far, both of these pictures from the Hammer set are pretty decent and at just over an hour long each, you're not going to invest too much time to find out for yourself.

The Gambler and the Lady (1952)

Directors: Patrick Jenkins & Terence Fisher

Starring: Dane Clark, Kathleen Byron, Naomi Chance, Meredith Edwards, Anthony Forwood, Eric Pohimann

More info: IMDb

Tagline: You've got a double date with danger!

Plot: A social-climbing American with a business in illegal gambling falls in love with a British blue blood, but gangsters and a jealous ex-girlfriend stand in the way of happiness.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

This flick is part of a set of Hammer Noir pictures that I've been meaning to get to for a while.  Now that I'm doing it I hope there are some gems in there somewhere.  This one's not bad but it's hindered by the American lead, Dane Clark.  We find out halfway in that he's London's leader of organized gambling (and maybe even more than that though we don't know about it).  The thing is, he doesn't look and always act like it.  I guess what I'm trying to say he was rarely imposing or overly dangerous.  For a guy in his position he seems to be rather tame to be tops in the underground gambling racket.  The British cast all do a fine job, so good that it makes it even tougher for Clark to take control as an actor.  He's not bad but it seems like everyone else is just a little better and it shows.  He's also 5'9" and he seems short which hurts his ability to be imposing.  Joe Pesci is 5'4" but he can be a ferocious beast on screen.  I'm the same height as Clark and it makes me feel even smaller noticing it.

Bland, James Bland

Story-wise, it's pretty good even though it feels like a smaller picture than it could've been.  I'm going to assume that the budget set that limitation.  I would've like to have seen something that showed you how big Jim Foster's (Clark) really was instead of seeing a small room with gambling tables.  The ending is potentially tragic as it's not clear what happens to Jim but what his ex-girlfriend, Pat (Byron) does is kick ass cool and downright mean.  I guess for what it is it's pretty good but just barely on the other side of not good enough for me to watch again, especially considering there are hundreds more noir pictures I've yet to see.

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Director: Jack Arnold

Starring: Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno, Nestor Paiva, Whit Bissell, Bernie Gozier, Henry A. Escalante

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Not since the beginning of time has the world beheld terror like this!

Plot: A scientific expedition searching for fossils along the Amazon River discover a prehistoric Gill-Man in the legendary Black Lagoon. The explorers capture the mysterious creature, but it breaks free. The Gill-Man returns to kidnap the lovely Kay, fiancée of one of the expedition, with whom it wants to get busy! Giggidy!!!

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

With an iconic three-note theme and creature design, CftBL is more than just another Hollywood B-creature feature.  It's actually a great looking, well-shot horror flick.   For my money, what sets this film apart is it's expertly directed, filmed, acted and so on.  The underwater photography is superb for a film such as this.  The shots of the Gill Man swimming underneath and parallel to Kay (Julie Adams) are terrific and they're not something you'd expect to find in a B-picture.

I just got back from seeing it at The Castro Theater in San Francisco AND in 3D!  I was kind of disappointed that it wasn't the original anaglyph red/blue 3D but the newer conversion and film restoration looks fantastic and crisp.  I was thrilled to get to see it this way regardless.  There was a Blu-ray coffin box set of the Universal monsters released in Europe last year that recently bought from Amazon that includes this 3D version I saw.  I can't wait to show it off.  It's a fun picture and worthy of its classic, cult status.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Chief Dan George, Bill McKinney, John Vernon, Paula Trueman, Sam Bottoms, Geraldine Kearns, Woodrow Parfrey, Sondra Locke, Joyce Jameson, Sheb Wooley, Will Sampson, John Mitchum

More info: IMDb

Tagline: army of one.

Plot: Josey Wales is a Southerner whose entire family were killed by a sadistic Union officer. He joins a band of guerrilla fighters who manage to avoid being captured. After the end of the war, they refuse to surrender, but their leader, Fletcher, negotiates a surrender allowing his men amnesty. Josey, however, refuses to join them. After his men arrive, they're executed. But when they learn that Josey is still out there, they order him hunted down and the man they send to get him is the man who killed his family. He eventually runs into a group of settlers and helps them get settled and negotiates a peaceful co-existence with the Indians. But he has a price on his head and every bounty hunter is out of get it.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again? Of course.

No matter how long it's been since I last saw this, it's too long.  What a great flick.  I love the concise opening set-up and the of the credit sequence that fills in a long stretch of time and killing refinement. Then the movie starts proper and it's action and oodles of character development.  It's a remarkable picture in that this isn't just about revenge.  The character arc of Wales is fantastic.  I love his gradual unintentional creation of a family by the end of the picture.  I also love his great dialogue and skill at killin' folks.  Eastwood is nothing short of an amazing film maker.

How about Chief Dan George, huh?  This guy is a piece of work.  He delivers his lines with a heartfelt humor that you just don't see in movies.  That he wasn't a polished actor works in his and the film's favor.  He's wonderful and he's my favorite aspect of the picture.  Eastwood did a magnificent job with this film and there are so many genre-bending things he accomplished with it.  This is a guy that really wanted to say something in his Westerns.  Take a look at his Western output in the 70s alone and you can see how each of them is thematically different. He wasn't just making entertainment but they're fun as hell on top of all of that.

International House (1933)

Director: A. Edward Sutherland

Starring: Peggy Hopkins Joyce, W.C. Fields, Franklin Pangborn, Stuart Erwin, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Bela Lugosi, Rudy Vallee, Sari Maritza, F. Chase Taylor, Budd Hulick, Cab Calloway, Rose Marie, Sterling Holloway

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Grand Hotel of comedy

Plot: A Chinese scientist invents TV, and agents from all countries gather in the remote Chinese city of Wu-Hu to buy the rights. American Tommy Nash is in trouble with fiancée Carol because his illnesses keep postponing their wedding; playgirl Peggy evades jealous ex-husband Petronovich and pursues rich American Professor Quail. Much of the movie is comedy and musical acts from old-time radio, made visible by the 'radioscope.'

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

This is part of one of the two big W.C. Fields box sets and the first picture I've watched out of it.  Expecting a W.C.F. picture I was surprised at how long it is before he takes the main stage (halfway into the picture).  In the meantime it's Burns & Allen and Pangborn that are features and they are friggin' hilarious.  I've loved Burns & Allen since I was a little kid and it's always a treat to see them in action and there's a lot of them to see here.  It's practically their picture, not Fields's.  Cab Calloway singing Reefer Man?  Hell, yeah!!!  Fields, as always, is bitingly funny.  Some of the things he says I'm surprised he got away with.  I would love to see some blue stuff that was excised from his movies.  I'm sure he came up with some doosies.  I guess you could consider this a musical although the tunes are akin to nightclub performances.  They are a lot of fun and there's a bunch of laughs from start to finish and what a finish!  W.C. Fields driving a car through the hotel is a gas.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Touch of Evil (1958)

Director: Orson Welles

Starring: Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles, Joseph Calleia, Akim Tamiroff, Joanna Moore, Ray Collins, Dennis Weaver, Marlene Dietrich, Zsa Zsa Gabor

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Strangest Vengeance Ever Planned!

Plot: Mexican Narcotics officer Ramon Miguel 'Mike' Vargas has to interrupt his honeymoon on the Mexican-US border when an American building contractor is killed after someone places a bomb in his car. He's killed on the US side of the border but it's clear that the bomb was planted on the Mexican side. As a result, Vargas delays his return to Mexico City where he has been mounting a case against the Grandi family crime and narcotics syndicate. Police Captain Hank Quinlan is in charge on the US side and he soon has a suspect, a Mexican named Manolo Sanchez. Vargas is soon onto Quinlan and his Sergeant, Pete Menzies, when he catches them planting evidence to convict Sanchez. With his new American wife, Susie, safely tucked away in a hotel on the US side of the border - or so he thinks - he starts to review Quinlan's earlier cases. While concentrating on the corrupt policeman however, the Grandis have their own plans for Vargas and they start with his wife Susie.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

Heston as a Mexican?  Just roll with it.  He's always fun, though, if a bit hammy every once in a while.  For the most part I dig the cast.  Janet Leigh spends a few scenes in a state of undress (it's 1958 so she's not going ALL the way...nuts). Orson Welles is one hell of a bastard.  Then there's Dennis Weaver's over the top performance as well as Akim Tamiroff (was this guy ever NOT over doing it?).  Those two could have toned it down a few notches. Other than that this is one great ride of corruption.

It's easy to laugh at how drugs are portrayed after all these years (it would have been more straightforward had it been in a lower budget exploitation picture).  Hollywood can't get too gritty.  How about them reefers?  I love that term.  Anyway, the picture moves at a steady and sure pace until the explosive finale.  Henry Mancini's score pops with excitement.  I also LOVE the way Welles moves his camera.  The opening long tracking shot is remarkable not only in the technical achievement of it's uncut length but in the suspense created by it with the bomb in the car.

It occurred to me last night while I watched this at my new favorite theater, The Castro in San Francisco, that I saw this in a theater a very long time ago, probably in New Orleans. It's one of only a couple of classic movies that I've had the pleasure of seeing on the big screen.  I've been doing a lot of business travel recently and San Francisco is becoming more of a second home.  The Castro is an old, opulent theater that's probably getting close to being a hundred years old.  It's like stepping back in time.  I love it.  I wish I could live across the street from it.  I wish I could marry it.  Nah, just kidding.  I'll settle for having a lusty affair instead.

Jurassic Park (1993)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Samuel L. Jackson, BD Wong, Wayne Knight

More info: IMDb

Tagline: An adventure 65 million years in the making.

Plot: On a remote island, a wealthy entrepreneur secretly creates a theme park featuring living dinosaurs drawn from prehistoric DNA. Before opening the attraction to the public, he invites a top paleontologist, a paleobotanist, a mathematician/theorist, and his two eager grandchildren to experience the park -- and help calm anxious investors. However, their park visit is anything but tranquil as the park's security system breaks down, the prehistoric creatures break out, and the excitement builds to surprising results.

My rating:9/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I love this movie.  It's an awful lot of fun and even after twenty years, there's barely anything I can find the least bit wrong with it (that fat kid in the beginning where Sam Neill explains his bird theory creeps me out).  Spielberg excels at thrilling, edge of your seat action sequences.  That T-Rex sequence is insanely good as is the Velociraptors in the kitchen scene. The casting is superb all the way down to the two kids.  There's humor, suspense, thrills, action and some excellent CGI.  I caught this during it's opening weekend twenty years ago and I've seen it a few times since.  Last week I hit the local Imax screen and saw it again but this time in 3D.  It's THE best post-3D conversion I've seen.  The effects are fantastic. I was pleasantly surprised to see that JP holds it's own against the competition even after all these years.  It looks like it was shot yesterday.  If you haven't seen it in its current 3D release I urge you to go before it's gone.  You'll be glad you did.  Hold on to your butts.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Evil Dead (2013)

Director: Fede Alvarez

Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The most terrifying film you will ever experience.

Plot: Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. The evil presence possesses them until only one is left to fight for survival.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Eventually probably.

That tagline is a pretty fucking bold claim.  Too bad the finished product doesn't come close.  OK, maybe if you're 87 years old and the most terrifying film you've seen in your life was TWILIGHT (2008),  It's got some GREAT gore effects and there are some good creepy moments but as a whole I was left feeling like there was a whole bunch of teasing and then the last 20 minutes gave you what you were paying a ticket for.

I knew this wasn't going to be as good as the original 1982 picture.  That's a classic and it's got more terrifying bits in it than this new one does.  The tree rape scene is brutal.  The new film sets it up like there's a tree rape scene but they cheat you at the last moment.  It's remarkable that they couldn't do what the 30 year old film could.  Pussies.  The acting is good, though, and I like that the main character is trying to kick her drug habit.  That was a great move.  But the film moved along, giving you little bits here and there, feeling like there was something missing and then BAM!  The ending hits the fan.  This is the best part of the picture.  It's brutal and gory as hell and it's here that you really get a Sam Raimi, EVIL DEAD (1982) vibe.  But it's too much, too late to make this picture a modern day classic.

It's definitely worth catching at the theater (even though you just know there's going to be an unrated version on DVD), and when you go MAKE SURE YOU STAY UNTIL THE VERY END!  Fans of the franchise will be tickled to death.  I guess I lied earlier.  THIS is actually the best part of the film.  I was carrying on like a little kid at Christmas.  Very good score by Roque Banos, by the way.  And while this doesn't come close to straddling the line of playfulness and terror like the original, rarely catching up to the greatness of it all, it's a very good modern horror film that stands out among most of the crap-to-just-OK horror pictures coming out of Hollywood these days.  It's pretty darn good so you should see it regardless of how you feel about the original or if you haven't even seen it.  If not, watch them both and you're in for a treat.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sorcerer (1977)

Director: William Friedkin

Starring: Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, Amidou, Ramon Bieri, Peter Capell, Karl John, Friedrich von Ledebur, Chico Martinez, Joe Spinell

More info: IMDb

Plot: A group of outcasts from different backgrounds/nationalities are forced by misfortune to work in a remote oil drilling operation in South America. When fire breaks out of control, four of the outcasts are given the opportunity to earn enough money to get out by transporting six crates of unstable dynamite through miles of jungle in two ancient trucks. Will they succeed and regain their honor and citizenship, or get blown up for their efforts?

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again? ABSOFREAKINLUTELY!

Many years ago I watched THE WAGES OF FEAR (1953) and friggin' loved it.  A few years after I checked out SORCERER, the American remake of WAGES, thinking it was going to be a lesser film.  What Friedkin did was astonishing.  He made it his own.  When it was all said and done I was cool with his choices in changing things up.  The original focused on boredom and the principles' desire to leave.  Friedkin makes the men desperate to stay hidden from the outside world, hidden in a dirty, dank and filthy South American jungle town.  In each film, it works beautifully.  I really like seeing the different means to the same end.  Friedkin does put a little twist on the GREAT ending the original had which I think is even better.  I love the Roy Scheider of the 70s.  He had a great look and he was perfect for this role, although he wasn't Friedkin's first choice.  The Tangerine Dream score works well, too.  And that bridge crossing scene?  WOW!  Just a few days ago it was announced that the legal battles on getting this thing properly released are over and they are restoring the film for a limited theatrical release and then Blu-ray (by the end of the year I think).  CAN...NOT...WAIT!!!