Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bad Grandpa (2013)

Director: Jeff Tremaine

Writers: Spike Jonze, Johnny Knoxville, Fax Bahr, Adam Small, Jeff Tremaine

Composer: ???

Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Greg Harris, Georgina Cates, Kamber Hejlik, Jill Kill, Madison Davis, George Faughnan, Grasie Mercedes, Marilynn Allain, Jack Polick, Spike Jonze, Catherine Keener

More info: IMDb

Plot: 86-year-old Irving Zisman takes a trip from Nebraska to North Carolina to take his 8 year-old grandson, Billy, back to his real father.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

If you didn't laugh from anything in the trailer (especially the beauty pageant bit) then this movie isn't for you.  For everyone else, it's just as funny as the trailer and there are a lot of laughs in an hour and a half with the biggest ones in the middle at the male strip club (the smack sound of grandpa's nuts slapping between the male stripper's legs is hilarious) and at the end with the beauty pageant.  I was impressed at how consistently funny the picture was.  One thing that surprised me is that there's a plot that strings all of these mini adventures together.  As thin as it is, it works well.  The movie also has heart. Knoxville's grandpa, Irving Zissman, is a sweet guy despite what he says and you can easily see that Knoxville is having a wonderful time at it.

How about that Jackson Nicoll as the grandson, Billy?  This kid's adorable and funny as shit.  He gives a natural performance that you'll love.  In movies like this (BORAT (2006) and BRUNO (2009) come to mind) I find myself trying to figure out the logistics of duping the people as they do on screen.  You can't just show up at someone's wedding reception and destroy the champagne and cake table.  They had to have arranged it in advance but I can't help but wonder exactly how they went about it as I'm watching it unfold. It doesn't take away from my enjoyment in the least but that's how my brain works sometimes.  In the end, it was a fun ride and I was most pleased that the picture exceeded my expectations which were based solely on the trailer.

The Bad Seed (1956)

Director: Melvyn LeRoy

Writers: John Lee Mahin, Maxwell Anderson, William March

Composer: Alex North

Starring: Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones, Eileen Heckart, Evelyn Varden, William Hopper, Paul Fix, Jesse White, Gage Clarke, John Croydon, Frank Cady

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A WOMAN'S SHAME...Out in the Open!

Plot: Christine Penmark seems to have it all: a lovely home, a loving husband and the most "perfect" daughter in the world. But since childhood, Christine has suffered from the most terrible recurring nightmare. And her "perfect" daughter's accomplishments include lying, theft and possibly much, much worse. Only Christine knows the truth about her daughter and only Christine's father knows the truth about her nightmare.

My rating: 9.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.


To call Rhoda a bad seed is like saying Hitler disagreed with the Jews.  This little bitch is bad fucking news. The cast is brilliant.  I can see how people will think that Nancy Kelly (playing Rhoda's mother, Christine) is over the top but you have to consider she is losing her mind over the course of the film.  She can't handle the suspicions and later evidence that her sweet, perfect child is a cold blooded, manipulative murderer.  Payy McCormack is brutally chilling as Rhoda.  Wow.  What a performance!  Every cast member does a fantastic job.  This picture has every element of expertise working for it.  Alex North's score is subtle and effective.  When Hortense (Heckart) comes to visit the Penmark house, drunk out of her mind after her son mysteriously drowned, at the end of that scene there's a quiet melody played by the strings that's close to Alex North's love theme from SPARTACUS (1960).  Gorgeous music.  North is one of my top favorites so it's always a treat to see one of his films and it feels weird that it's been probably a decade since I last saw this.

There are so many eerie and effective moments.  The screams from Leroy (Jones) when Rhoda burns him alive, the scene where Nancy coaxes a confession out of Rhoda about not only the Daigle boy's murder but others, the murder/suicide and the ending!  HOLY FUCK ME SIDEWAYS, that ending!  WOW!  Talk about sweet revenge.  It's one of the most satisfying endings I've ever experienced.  I've easily seen this movie nearly ten times and it's still effective.  All of these things add up to a frightening little picture and when you consider it was made nearly 60 years ago, it's even more astonishing. I can do without the coda with the cast callback and it would have been nice if Nancy had died from her self-inflicted gunshot head wound to give the film that extra bit of darkness.  Other than that, it's all good, Baby!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Escape Plan (2013)

AKA: The Tomb

Director: Mikael Hafstrom

Writers: Miles Chapman, Jason Keller

Composer: Alex Heffes

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Faran Tahir, Amy Ryan, Sam Neill, Vincent D'Onofrio, Vinnie Jones, Matt Gerald, Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: No one breaks out alone

Plot: When a structural-security authority finds himself set up and incarcerated in the world's most secret and secure prison, he has to use his skills to escape with help from the inside.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Probably

Fun, fun, fun!  Stallone's performance is great and just what you'd expect but it's wonderful seeing Stallone and Schwarzenegger together in a picture with a substantially larger role for Arnold than he had in THE EXPENDABLES 2 (2012).  Arnold is charismatic (and without that 'badass' chip that he carries on his shoulder, you know, like he's a tough guy who can get things done), he's very funny, smart and clever.  I haven't seen him like this before and I love it. He also speaks A LOT of German, his native language, which is fantastic to finally hear.

There are some nice surprises.  The biggest is when when Ray (Stallone) discovers where the prison is located.  It's one of those 'holy fuck!' moments and it's a beaut.  I felt defeat at that point but I knew this would pan out well despite that setback.  It's nice seeing Sam Neill (as Dr. Kyrie) in a small supporting but crucial role.  I dig that guy.  He needs to be in more pictures.  Vinnie Jones (as Drake) plays your cookie cutter lead enforcer to Jim Caviezel's warden (Hobbes).  I almost didn't recognize him.  Caviezel does fine I suppose, considering he's playing a one dimensional character.  I would have liked more personality from him.  D'Onofrio (Lester Clark, Ray's business partner) is fun but his character wraps up too quickly in the end.  Amy Ryan (Abigail, Ray's gal and one of the team) is great. It's good to see her in an action picture. 50 Cent (Hush, the tech member of Ray's team) is good but he's not given much to do.

The movie is five minutes shy of two hours which feels a tad too long but it's also very satisfying.  There's a great moment during the escape when Arnold (Emil Rottmayer) makes the decision to pick up a large caliber machine gun.  It's one of those 'punch the air' scenes where he starts mowing down the resistance like in the old days.  It reminded me of the similar 'FUCK, YEAH!' moment in RAMBO (2008) when Rambo jumped on that jeep near the end and started painting the jungle with blood and brains.  Don't avoid this because the Rotten Tomatoes score is 48%.  Go see it in the theater before it disappears in the next couple of weeks.  It's a great time and you're going to be pleasantly surprised by Arnold who delivers a delightfully intelligent and charismatic performance. 

Pieces (1982)

Original title: Mil Gritos Tiene la Noche

Director: Juan Piquer Simon

Writers: Dick Randall, Joe D'Amato, Juan Piquer Simon

Composers: Carlo Maria Cordio, Librado Pastor

Starring: Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Frank Brana, Edmund Purdom, Ian Sera, Paul L. Smith, Jack Taylor, Gerard Tichy, May Heatherly, Hilda Fuchs

More info: IMDb

Tagline: You Don't Have To Go To Texas For A Chainsaw Massacre!

Plot: Young co-eds are being cut up by a chainsaw killer on a college campus. The killer is attempting to put together a human jigsaw puzzle made from body parts.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? I doubt it.

Featured on Stephen Romano Presents Shock Festival (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

This feels like a down the line cross between a slasher and a giallo and it works as both.  There are a few grisly chainsaw deaths (the only form of killing in this picture) which are all fun to watch.  And like most 80s horror you get some nice nudity from time to time.  It was neat seeing Paul (Bluto from POPEYE (1980)) Smith, who could be the killer.  The motivation of the killer is never explained well, I mean, at least you don't know why he's suddenly killing after all these years.  It's not that important, I guess, that we know but it would have been nice if that had been thought out.  But who comes into these pictures wanting a great story, right?  Just bring on the fun, gory kills and some boobs every once in a while and give us 90 minutes of fun and this one does that.

Family Plot (1976)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Writers: Ernest lehman, Victor Canning

Composer: John Williams

Starring: Karen Black, Bruce Dern, Barbara Harris, William Devane, Ed Lauter, Cathleen Nesbitt, Katherine Helmond, Warren J. Kemmerling, Edith Atwater, William Prince

More info: IMDb

Tagline: You must see it twice!

Plot: The trickster Madam Blanche Tyler lures the elder millionaire Julia Rainbird that believes she is a spiritualist. After a séance, she discovers that Julia is tormented by her past, when she forced her sister and single mother Harriet to deliver her baby for adoption to avoid a family scandal. Julia promises the small fortune of ten thousand-dollar to Blanche if she finds her nephew and heir of her fortune using her phony powers. Blanche asks her boyfriend George Lumley, who is an unemployed actor working as cab driver, to investigate the whereabouts of Julia's nephew. Meanwhile, the greedy jeweler and collector Arthur Adamson kidnaps wealthy people with his girlfriend Fran to increase his collection of diamonds with the ransom. When George concludes that Arthur Adamson might be the heir of Julia Rainbird, the reckless Blanche gets in trouble with the kidnappers.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

Even with his final film Hitchcock shows his deserving of the title, 'The Master of Suspense'.  It's not a home run but there are moments where the tension grabs you by the short and curlies.  The ending, for one, and the elongated scene with the out of control car.  That scene is a nail biter broken up with some very funny moments which adds a fraction of what's needed to keep you from falling off the edge of your seat. John Williams wrote a fun and playful score.  The last few seconds of the picture has me groaning every time but it's not a deal killer.  The picture is slow at times.  The opening goes on for way too long and it's a bad way to begin with so much unnecessary filler.  It's easily a lower tier Hitchcock flick but it's still got a lot to like.  The cast alone is worth watching for, especially Devane.  He's great.

Dark Ride (2006)

Director: Craig Singer

Writers: Craig Singer, Robert Dean Klein

Composers: Christopher Young, Kostas Christides

Starring: Jaime-Lynn Sigler, Patrick Renna, David Clayton Rogers, Alex Solowitz, Andrea Bogart, Jennifer Tisdale, Brittney Coyle, Chelsey Coyle, Dave Warden, Jim Cody Williams

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Last Ride You'll Ever Take.

Plot: A decade has nearly passed since psychopath Jonah brutally murdered two teenage girls. Now, after nearly 10 years of being incarcerated in a mental institute, Jonah has somehow escaped and has returned to his turf - an amusement park attraction named "Dark Ride". Unknowingly, a group of six friends on their way to a road trip and have just boarded the ride, unaware of the deadly plans Jonah has for them. This ride is the last one they're ever gonna take.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

Ya know, there aren't enough horror movies set around carnivals, fairs, amusement parks, etc.  I guess it'd be really costly to shoot at one.  I love the setting so I'll give any horror film like this a look-see in the hopes that I'll find a great one (or at least a reasonably fun one).  One big thing that helps in making a horror movie work is having characters you care about or at least like in some way.  You know that people are going to die so you get more impact when some of them are likeable. The group of kids in this picture are likeable.  It's almost refreshing to see that.  The girls aren't written as well as the boys but that's negligible.  I do like the group as a whole and individually as the actors worked well together. The hitchhiker they pick up is hilarious.  She's off her rocker and the story she tells about music is great.  It's the kind of uneasy that makes you want to toss her back onto the street.

There's some great horror, too.  I loved the chick being thrown across the room, slamming easily against the wall like a rag doll. There are also some neat imagery and camera shots.  The BJ scene was fun.  The ending surprise?  It wasn't that bad but I felt like it could have been a little better.  It's nothing that will kill a re-watch.  Overall, I enjoyed it.  Nice main theme by Christopher Young.  His score for HELLRAISER (1987) is one of the greats.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cry_Wolf (2005)

Director: Jeff Wadlow

Writers: Jeff Wadlow, Beau Bauman

Composer: Michael Wandmacher

Starring:  Julian Morris, Lindy Booth, Jared Padalecki, Jon Bon Jovi, Sandra McCoy, Kristy Wu, Jesse Janzen, Paul James, Anna Deavere Smith, Ehtan Cohn, Gary Cole

More info: IMDb

Tagline: BeLIEve

Plot: When the troubled Owen joins the private Westlake Preparatory Academy, he meets the senior student Dodger, who invites him to participate of a game of lies with her friends. The objective of the lying game is to avoid suspicious, manipulate the friends and eliminate the enemies. The group decides to play a prank in all the mates of the high school, using a recent unsolved murder of a student in the campus. They send e-mails to all colleagues describing fake crimes with the same characteristics of the young woman committed by a serial killer called "The Wolf". Their teacher Rich Walker advises Owen how serious this joke could be. When the students of their group start to disappear, Owen, Dodger and Tom realize that the criminal became real.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Is it me or did this movie have it's head snugly up its own ass, trying to be as confusing as possible?  
 The rules seemed to change as needed with characters saying shit to confuse the other characters.  There's so much deceit going on I felt like I was the one they played the joke on.  I'm not trying to be mean, I tried to like this picture but it kept going and going and going, well beyond my desire to care.
Halfway through it seemed like it was close to wrapping up.  I checked the time and I still had another 45 minutes to go.  Those are painful times, dude.  Give me some kills, sex, show someone move or something.  Ugh.

Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)

Director: Renny Harlin

Writers: William Wisher Jr., Calep Carr, Alexi Hawley

Composer: Trevor Rabin

Starring: Stellan Skarsgard, Izabella Scorupco, James d'Arcy, Remy Sweeney, Julian wadham, Andrew French, Ralph Brown, Ben Cross, David Bradley, Alan Ford, Antonie Kamerling, Eddie Osei, Israel Oyelumade

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A new chapter of evil

Plot: Archeologist Lankester Merrin is asked to go to East Africa to excavate a church that has been found completely buried in sand. Merrin is also an ordained Roman Catholic priest who, still haunted by what he was forced to do during World War II in his native Holland, eschews any religion or belief. He's fascinated by what he finds and that it dates hundred of years before Christianity was introduced to the area. Accompanied by a young priest, Father Francis, to keep an eye on the religious elements of what they find, Merrin makes his way to the camp. There he meets a young doctor, Sarah and soon realizes there is an air of gloom that envelops the entire site. Workmen go mad and a young boy is mauled by a pack of hyenas while completely ignoring his younger brother Joseph. Inside the church itself they find signs of desecration. Merrin is forced to re-examine his lack of faith and come face to face with the devil.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.  I'm done.

Here's an interesting experiment.  Paul Schrader directed and completed this film.  When the producers didn't like it because it was a psychological film missing lots of gore they hoped for, the fired him and hired Renny Harlin to make another one, salvaging what footage he could from Schrader's version.  The running times on both are about five minutes shy of two hours and about 10% of Schrader's film made it into Harlin's.  It's been about 9 years since I saw both and I'm watching them again for the last time.  I remember not thinking either film was all that good but I couldn't tell you why.

With both films we get the back story on Father Merrin's encounter with the devil 25-30 years prior to his fateful second meeting in THE EXORCIST (1973).  It's not that bad of a story but it's in the telling that makes or breaks it.  As mentioned, it's about two hours long.  On one hand you get some nice visuals but on the other the CGI wolf effects are dodgy.  I'm OK with that.  They'd already made one movie and now the backers are having to shell out a lot more dough to re-make it in the hopes of getting something they can sell released.  I get it.  I'm willing to overlook it.  The sepia tone look of the film gets a little old.  I realize they're in the desert the whole time but it would have been nice to not have so much grading to make everyone and everything else look like the desert.  The moments of color we get are in Merrin's flashbacks to WWII and the night he was forced to make a terrible decision.  Those scenes are in hues of blue, grey and black, a stark contrast to everything else.  I guess that's a minor quibble but it's just one thing that stands out.  The pacing is OK but it's just that the overall film was, well, no better than OK.  The big exorcism ending felt rushed followed by a borderline too happy ending but that could have been largely felt in the music score.  Fortunately, the film didn't do so hot at the box office so in an effort to try and recoup more of their money, the studio released Schrader's version.  Like either, both or neither, it's a great thing they did.  It offers an interesting insight into the world of Hollywood and how and why things happen.

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)

Director: Paul Schrader

Writers: William Wisher Jr., Caleb Carr

Composers: Angelo Badalamenti, Dog Fashion Disco, Trevor Rabin

Starring:  Stellan Skarsgard, Gabriel Mann, Clara Bellar, Billy Crawford, Ralph Brown, Israel Oyelumade, Andrew French, Antoine Kamerling, Julian Wadham, Eddie Osei, Ilario Bisi-Pedro, Niall Refoy

More info: IMDb

Plot: Lankester Merrin is a archaeologist by profession but an ordained Roman Catholic priest who has lost his faith and abandoned his vocation. He is haunted by what he was forced to do in his native Holland during World War II. The church he's excavated in Northern Kenyan dates to the Byzantine period but this puts its construction hundreds of years before Christianity was introduced to the area. the church was buried to the rooftop in sand and as its structure is exposed, a madness slowly descends on the camp. the local tribesmen are prepared to go to war and demand that the church be buried. Soon, two British soldiers are found dead and their commanding officer, Major Granville, shoots a innocent civilian in cold blood. As fear descends upon everyone in the camp, it becomes apparent that a young disabled boy, Cheche, is possessed by the devil forcing Merrin to re-examine his own beliefs.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

A funny thing happened on the way to making a prequel to THE EXORCIST (1973).  Director Paul Schrader made this film.  The producers didn't like it.  It was too cerebral and they wanted a straight up horror film with lots of blood and gore, you know, like the original film (hahaha).  So what do you do?  Hire another director (Renny Harlin) and make another film while salvaging something from Schrader's film.  The result is EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING (2004) which didn't fare well at the box office so the studio did something amazing and released Schrader's version for everyone to see what all the fuss was about.  It's an interesting look into how two different film makers and bonehead producers can make two different films from the same material.

You can tell right off the bat one difference and that's that this film opens with Merrin's Nazi ordeal in 1944, and event that caused him to give up the church and become an archaeologist.  We see this scene in its total unlike THE BEGINNING that doles it out peace meal throughout the film not showing you the reason why he gave it up until near the end of the picture.  This aspect of the story is much better served opening the film as it allows you to understand Merrin's actions right from the start and you also know what's going on inside his mind.  There are times when it's best to just get it out in the open rather than space it out and this is one of them.

One thing that's lacking in both films is the CGI wolves.  They're weak but I'm willing to overlook that as long as the story, characters, etc are all interesting, enjoyable or work on a decent level.  Story-wise, it's a better than THE BEGINNING.  It's also less sexy and gory.  It's more drama than scary but you do get an exorcism at the end which feels more natural.  It's less effects-driven than the other picture.  It's closer to THE EXORCIST in tone, too, but you don't get the flashy special effects that picture had.  Overall, it's a good picture that's worthy of being a prequel to THE EXORCIST and it's  better than Harlin's film.  The IMDb trivia says that Christopher Young was the composer and that the producers hired Badalamenti and Rabin for the theatrical release. I'd LOVE to see this with Young's score as I'm certain it would prove to be an even better film.  If I were to watch any of the prequels again it would be this one for sure.  Don't go into it as a horror film but more as a religious thriller with the emphasis on drama and redemption.  You'll probably have a chance at enjoying it if you do.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Queen of Outer Space (1958)

Director: Edward Bernds

Writers: Charles Beaumont, Ben Hecht, Edward Bernds

Composer: Marlin Skiles

Starring: Zsa Zsa Gabor, Eric Fleming, Dave Willock, Laurie Mitchell, Lisa Davis, Paul Birch, Patrick Waltz, Barbara Darrow, Marilyn Buferd

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Mankind's first fantastic flight to Venus - the female planet!

Plot: Three American astronauts are on the first manned mission to Venus, and when they arrive, they find the planet to be inhabited solely by women with high heels and short dresses. Unfortunately, they are immediately imprisoned, for the queen who rules Venus hates men... Suspecting the astronauts to be spies, she now plans to destroy the Earth. So now it's up to the three men (and some friendly Venusians) to overthrow the wicked queen and save the Earth.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

This is just as cheesy and fun as the trailer suggests.  It's best that you watch this with a group of friends as the laughs will be more and bigger.  I dig it when astronauts visit other worlds to discover they're inhabited solely by hot chicks!

Five'll get you ten that's a space kitchen where they make the men space sandwiches and space cocktails.

There's a lot going for this like the uniforms from FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956), props from other films, and film this in beautiful color and in widescreen.  Oh, and the hot chicks.

YIKES!  It's just like here on Earth!

Yeah, it's sexist, but that's part of the fun, seeing how 'innocent' times were way back when.  It's fun to look back on some of that shit and laugh your ass off.  I don't know how realistic this is regarding Venetians but I'm already on the waiting list for the first rocket ship to go and find out. 

Capricorn One (1977)

Director: Peter Hyams

Writer: Peter Hyams

Composer: Jerry Goldsmith

Starring: Elliott Gould, James Brolin, Brenda Vaccaro, Sam Waterson, O.J. Simpson, Hal Holbrook, Karen Black, Telly Savalas, David Huddleston, David Doyle, Lee Bryant, Denise Nicholas, Robert Walden, James Sikking, Aland Fudge, James Karen

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The most important event in our nation's history...what if it never really happened?

Plot: Charles Brubaker is the astronaut leading NASA's first manned mission to Mars. Seconds before the launch, the entire team is pulled from the capsule and the rocket leaves earth unmanned much to Brubaker's anger. The head of the programme explains that the life support system was faulty and that NASA can't afford the publicity of a scratched mission. The plan is to fake the Mars landing and keep the astronauts at a remote base until the mission is over, but then investigative journalist Robert Caulfield starts to suspect something.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

What a great flick!  It's a sci-fi thriller with three parts - the mission, the astronaut escape/survival and the reporter investigation and all three work nicely.  The cast is chock full of familiar faces and they all do a fine job.  I dig the obvious comparison of the conspiracy theory that the moon landings were faked.  You can't have a conspiracy with so many people involved stay hidden.  The logistics are staggering.  Screw that bullshit about the moon landing this is about landing on Mars.  CAPRICORN ONE is an effective 70s thriller with a great take on the genre.  The chases are fantastic.  The out of control car scene was intense and it felt pretty real (the sped up footage felt like it was the actual speed - it was different somehow).  The astronauts being hunted in the desert was fun and the helicopter/airplane chase at the end was well executed (and Telly Savalas was hilarious).  The only gripe I have is the slow motion at the end.  It was...uh, cheesy to say the least.  Aside from that I was pleased with the ending.  It's been a while since I saw this last and it's even better than before.  Hal Holbrook is amazing in this and you can't go wrong with a great Jerry Goldsmith score, right?

The Covenant (2006)

Director: Renny Harlin

Writer: J.S. Cardone

Composer: tomandandy

Starring: Steven Strait, Laura Ramsey, Sebastian Stan, Taylor Kitsch, Chace Crawford, Toby Hemingway, Jessica Lucas, Kyle Schmid, Wendy Crewson, Stephen McHattie, Kenneth Welsh

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Only the power of hell can help them.

Plot: Four young men who belong to a supernatural legacy are forced to battle a fifth power long thought to have died out. Another great force they must contend with is the jealousy and suspicion that threatens to tear them apart.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

What this boils down to is rich, young, pretty people with well-developed abdominal muscles working out their angst in college but with witchcraft and shit.  I honestly don't know why I bothered except that it was directed by Renny Harlin which isn't much of a reason now that I think about it.  It's your standard young pretty things in an expensive, effects-laden Hollywood picture.  Anyone over the age of 20 need not bother. The young, pretty males fight with each other and when that's over they have sex with the young, pretty females until one of the young, pretty males gets super jealous of another young, pretty male and kidnaps his young, pretty female lover as bait for for said young, pretty male to accept his challenge for a duel.  I would have preferred gloves slapped across the face and pistols at dawn.  It's a much more civilized manner of doing in one's enemies.

Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)

Director: Ernest R. Dickerson

Writers: Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris, Mark Bishop

Composer: Ed Shearmur

Starring: John Kassir, Billy Zane, William Sadler, Jada Pinkett Smith, Brenda Bakke, CCH Pounder, Dick Miller, Thomas Haden Church, John Schuck, Gary Farmer, John Larroquette

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Ready for your deadtime story?

Plot: Brayker is a man who carries the last of seven keys, special containers which held the blood of Christ and were scattered across the universe to prevent the forces of evil from taking over. If The Collector gets the last key, the universe will fall into Chaos, and he has been tracking Brayker all the way to a small inn in a nowhere town. And now the final battle for the universe begins.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I don't know if they made more TftC movies besides this one and BORDELLO OF BLOOD (1996) but these are fun, especially DEMON KNIGHT.  This is a great group movie to watch with friends and liquor.  It's loaded with blood, gore and nudity as well as an outrageously fun performance by Billy Zane.  The great Dick Miller is in it, too.  Love that guy.  This is fun all the way through.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972)

Director: Philip Kaufman

Writer: Philip Kaufman

Composer: Dave Grusin

Starring: Cliff Robertson, Robert Duvall, Luke Askew, R.G. Armstrong, Dana Elcar, Donald Moffat, John Pearce, Matt Clark, Wayne Sutherlin, Robert H. Haris, Jack Manning, Elisha Cook Jr., Royal Dano, Mary-Robin Redd

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Real Story of Legendary Outlaw Jesse James' Most Daring Bank Robbery

Plot:  The final days of the infamous James gang are meticulously detailed in this riveting account of the group's most daring robbery. Led by the introspective Cole Younger (Cliff Robertson) and the nearly psychotic Jesse James (Robert Duvall), the much-glorified desperadoes set their sights on the biggest bank west of the Mississippi. The gritty action and dialogue, based on documented fact, chronicles the robbery from Younger's decision to storm the seemingly impregnable depository right up to the precision-planned assault.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I need to watch more Cliff Robertson films from the 60s and 70s.  He's so damn charismatic in this picture (and just about everything else I've seen him in) that he's ridiculously watchable and the main reason to see this film.  It's got a good supporting cast and feel but it's got some minor issues.  There's some obvious studio dubbing that rubs me the wrong way, there's some padding like in the baseball game sequence that over stays its welcome for a couple of minutes and the lead Pinkerton man seems too eager and righteous (much like the buffoonery from THE WILD BUNCH (1969) - shit, it's been a long time since I watched that one, one of my top Westerns).  It's strange seeing Jesse James portrayed as a half dimwit and half 'getting messages from god' kind of guy.  That's movies for you. But all of that feels like I'm being picky when you stack it up against how good and likable Robertson is as Cole Younger.  It's worth watching just for that but there's more to like.

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

Director: Robert Wise

Writers: Michael Crichton, Nelson Gidding

Composer: Gil Melle

Starring: Arthur Hill, David Wayne, James Olson, Kate Reid, Paula Kelly, George Mitchell, Ramon Bieri, Peter Hobbs, kermit Murdock, Richard O'Brien, Eric Christmas, Mark Jenkins, Peter Helm, Joe Di Reda, Carl Reindel, Ken Swofford, Frances Reid, Richard Bull, John Carter

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The picture runs 130 minutes!... The story covers 96 of the most critical hours in man's history!... The suspense will last through your lifetime!

Plot: When virtually all of the residents of Piedmont, New Mexico are found to have died after the return to Earth of a space satellite, the head of the US Air Force's Project Scoop declares an emergency. Many years prior to this incident, a group of eminent scientists led by Dr. Jeremy Stone advocated for the construction of a secure laboratory facility that would serve as a base in the event an alien biological life form was returned to Earth from a space mission. Stone and his team - Drs. Dutton, Leavitt and Hall - go to the facility, known as Wildfire and try to first isolate the life form and to determine why two people from Piedmont, an old wino and a months old baby, survived. The scientists methodically study the alien life form unaware that it has already mutated and presents a far greater danger in the lab, which is equipped with a nuclear self-destruct device should it manage to escape.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

Man, this is a damn fine sci-fi thriller!  If you like hefty doses of science-based science fiction then check this out.  Yeah, it's 131 minutes long but it's taut and moves at a pretty brisk pace.  But what really makes it move is that it's so compelling. If you don't dig on science then stay away from this one because it will bore the pants off you.  There's a great scene where Dr. Ruth Leavitt is working with another Doctor (I forgot his name).  Everyone's exhausted and Ruth wants to take the shortcut into finding something while the other guy is insistent on taking the long way to be meticulous as possible.  Even though you know he's right, I loved how insistent he was and how strong his argument was to do it the proper, scientific way.  The film makers also go the long way to show what might be involved in solving a problem like this. The sets look fantastic and real.  I don't know how true to life the science is in the picture but it felt real and you didn't have young, attractive scientists (not one in the bunch) doing it, either.  This is great, intelligent sci-fi, from a decade that gave it to us in spades.  Loved it.