Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Knowing (2009)

Director: Alex Proyas

Writers: Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White

Composer: Marco Beltrami

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne, Lara Robinson, D.G. Maloney, Nadia Townsend, Alan Hopgood, Adrienne Pickering, Joshua Long, Danielle Carter, Aletha McGrath, David Lennie, Tamara Donnellan, Travis Waite, Liam Hemsworth

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Knowing is Everything...

Plot: In the fall of 1959, for a time capsule, students draw pictures of life as they imagine it will be in 50 years. Lucinda, an odd child who hears voices, swiftly writes a long string of numbers. In 2009, the capsule is opened; student Caleb Koestler gets Lucinda's "drawing" and his father John, an astrophysicist and grieving widower, takes a look. He discovers dates of disasters over the past 50 years with the number who died. Three dates remain, all coming soon. He investigates, learns of Lucinda, and looks for her family. He fears for his son, who's started to hear voices and who is visited by a silent stranger who shows him a vision of fire and destruction. What's going on?

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.


I'm kind of torn with this one.  But first, Cage is pretty good and he leaves out the ham he sometimes delivers.  It's a down the line regular guy this time, OK if the regular guy is a professor at MIT.  The special effects set pieces are magnificent. How about that plane crash with the flaming bodies running from the wreckage?  WOW!  Then there's the shots of NYC being laid waste by the sun rays or something.  I wasn't exactly sure what it was but I went along with it.  But a film can't be all about the effects and still be interesting.  It's got to have a story and some good direction.  Proyas did a great job in delivering the tension and the mostly quick pacing.  There's that section toward the end that leads up to Diana taking the kids that slows the momentum.  That's the slowest spot.  After that you get the kids being taken up to heaven, a planet or whatever by what appear to be aliens or angels or alien angels or angel aliens.  I don't know.  That took the wind out of the sails.  But then, how else could you explain the kids writing the numbers, etc.  Ugh. Now that I'm thinking about it the less sense the whole movie makes.  Was the girl in '59 chosen?  Were there a shit ton of other kids chosen?  I'm confused and suddenly I don't care anymore.  Still, for the most part, it wasn't that bad of a picture.  How about those flaming crash survivors?

Dracula Blows His Cool (1979)

Original title: Graf Dracula (beisst jetzt) in Oberbayern

Director: Carl Schenkel

Writer: Carl Schenkel

Composer: Gerhard Heinz

Starring: Gianni Garko, Betty Verges, Bea Fiedler, Giacomo Rizzo, Ralf Wolter, Linda Grondier, Alexander Grill, Herta Worell, Ellen Umlauf, Tobias Meister, Georgina Steer, Herbert Stiny, Laurence Kaesermann, Dan van Husen, Rosl Mayr, Werner Roglin, Margit Geissler, Christine Zierl

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A Comedy To Sink Your Teeth Into!

Plot:  An ancestor of the famous vampire gets a job as a photographer shooting beautiful fashion models at the family estate.  They set out to convert Dracula's castle into a hip vampire disco. Being around so much naked and semi-naked flesh has the expected effect on him and when the castle opens to the unsuspecting public the Count himself decides to put the "bite" on the customers.

My rating: 4.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Released the same year as LOVE AT FIRST BITE (1979), I guess you could say this is the OTHER Dracula comedy of 1979.  BITE was a huge hit I recall.  I'm sure COOL didn't fare as well.  Maybe in Germany, where it was produced.  

The scene with the giant art penis was pretty damn funny. A prudish woman (not the gal above) is offended by it and takes the wrapped package (ahahahahaha) to the Mayor and a couple of others for inspection of this foul thing.  She ended up grabbing the wrong thing and what they find wrapped inside is a garden knome the same size. The prude (it turns out she's a Van Helsing) has her back to them while they talk about how they each have one (about the knome, see, but she thinks it's a giant dick they're talking about) and so and so's is bigger or smaller, etc.  I laughed out loud.  That was probably the first and last laugh but it was something.

I know what you're thinking.  Are her boobs painted instead of actual clothing?  Yup.  Wow.  (I know, right?).  And you're also thinking, does the paint come off easily in the shower?


I have a convertible and we do this kind of thing ALL the time.  It's even better in the winter.

So is this.

The movie clocks in at just over 90 minutes and, being a comedy, it's padded with unnecessary bits.  In this case it's a night club with a cheesy Dracula disco song that gets too much play whenever we're there, as if it's the only tune the band knows.  If I didn't know better I'd swear someone in Germany saw LOVE AT FIRST BITE and, before the credits were done, had written their own movie, blending disco, Dracula and comedy.  Only the jokes in this one are rather silly and very juvenille.  But, hey!  There's disco!  And the last line of the film gives it away that the English dub was recorded at least after 1981 when the driver of Dracula's coach said, "Let's go find the lost Ark!".  Now that's the last nail in the coffin.  Bwahahahahahahaha.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Everything Must Go (2010)

Director: Dan Rush

Writers: Dan Rush, Raymond Carver

Composer: David Torn

Starring: Will Ferrell, Chritopher Jordan Wallace, Rebecca Hall, Michael Pena, Rosalie Michaels, Stephen Root, Laura Dern, Glenn Howerton, Argos MacCallum, Todd Bryant

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Lost is a good place to find yourself

Plot: On the day he's fired from his job in Phoenix - for falling off the wagon and waking up in the hotel room of an associate who files a suit for harassment - Nicholas Halsey comes home to find his stuff on the front lawn, the locks changed, and a farewell note from his wife. With his bank account frozen, his credit cards and phone cancelled, and his company car gone, he takes up residence on the lawn. A cop who's his AA sponsor tells him he can sit there for five days as if it's a garage sale, then he'll face arrest. With help from a chubby kid on a bicycle, a pregnant neighbor, and an old high school acquaintance, Nick goes on a beer-soaked odyssey, from his front-yard easy chair.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

What a nice surprise performance from Ferrell!  This is the best I've seen him.  Just this weekend I watched FUNNY PEOPLE (2009) which had a fine, more dramatic turn for Adam Sandler.  Sure, this wouldn't happen in real life but it'd be nice if it would.  I really dug his relationship with the kid.  It was really touching when he asked Nicholas (Ferrell) if they were friends.  And it's just really nice to see Ferrell play a person that's not a imbecile.  Nicholas is a smart guy who just need to get his shit together.  I'm not a big Ferrell fan (although he was at his comedic best on SNL) but this film pushed me in the right direction enough to give him another shot.  

Super Bitch (1973)

Original title: Si puo Essere piu Bastardi dell'ispettore Cliff?

Director: Massimo Dallamano

Writers: Massimo Dallamano, Ross MacKenzie, George P. Breakston

Composer: Riz Ortolani

Starring: Ivan Rassimov, Stephanie Beacham, Patricia Hayes, Ettore Manni, Luciano Catenacci, Verna Harvey, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Cec Linder, Leon Vitali

More info: IMDb

Plot: This 1970s crime thriller revolves around a high-class London escort agency that acts as a cover for a drug smuggling ring. Ivan Rassimov plays the duplicitous undercover cop Insp. Cliff, who falls for Stephanie Beacham’s call girl while plotting to get his hands on a fortune by setting some drug gangs against each other.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

On the surface, it's a silly crime action thriller with some cartoon gangsters but it's pretty darn entertaining and behind it all is a great, poppin', groovy score with screaming trumpets by Riz Ortolani.  Rassimov, looking and sounding (dubbed) a LOT like Clint Eastwood, is having a great time as the ruthless Cliff playing two sides of the coin.  Yeah, it's a DIRTY HARRY (1971) clone fused with A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964) but it's rather fun. How about that surprise ending, huh?  Nice.  You know what else is nice?

OK, not so much on the old broad (she's a real super bitch).  One thing that separates this from other Italian crime pictures from the 70s is the lightness in tone.  It's not a comedy but it's not as gritty as others in the genre from this era.  That could make or break it depending on how you like your Italian crime.  I dug it but the ending and Ortolani's kickin' score helped a lot. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)

Director: Takashi Shimizu

Writer: Takashi Shimizu

Composer: Shiro Sato

Starring: Megumi Okina, Misaki Ito, Misa Uehara, Yui Ichikawa, Kanji Tsuda, Kayoko Shibata, Yukako Kukuri, Shuri Matsuda, Yoji Tanaka, Yoshiyuki Morishita

More info: IMDb

Plot: An evil curse and vengeful spirits seem to linger upon a house where the horrific murder of a woman and child took place and anyone who sets foot inside the house is marked for a terrifying haunting which will not rest. One by one, those who have been tainted by the house begin to die, and nowhere is safe.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.  Twice is enough.

When I first saw this a decade ago I dug it.  I guess I didn't mind the pacing so much as it was fresh and intriguing (plus I was trying to figure out what the fuck was going on).  Now the pacing is definitely the deal killer for me.  It's not horrible but the hour an a half feels like two and a half.  OK, so I guess it's pretty bad.  Maybe I was sleepy or something.  The ghost sounds (throat clicking) was nice as well as the appearances of the ghosts but it just wasn't enough.  Showing what happens to the different residents of that home was neat but it's also repetitive.  Maybe it's too soon to look back and think about what the horror scene was like when this came out or this might just be a one or two time watch and that's it.  I'm going to give the sequels and the American remake a pass. 

The Square Peg (1958)

Director: John Paddy Carstairs

Writers: Jack Davies, Henry Blyth, Norman Wisdom, Eddie Leslie

Composer: Philip Green

Starring: Norman Wisdom, Honor Blackman, Edward Chapman, Campbell Singer, Hattie Jacques, Brian Worth, Terence Alexander, John Warwick, Arnold Bell, Andre Maranne, Victor Beaumont, Frank Williams, Eddie Leslie

More info: IMDb

Plot: Norman and Mr Grimsdale are council workmen mending the road outside an Army base when they come into conflict with the military. Shortly afterwards, they get drafted and fall into the clutches of the Sergeant they have just bested. They are sent to France to repair roads in front of the Allied advance but get captured. Norman takes advantage of a useful similarity to impersonate General Schreiber and manages to return a hero.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I didn't laugh but maybe once.  Seeing Honor Blackman on screen (I must have blinked when her name in the opening credits showed up) made me smile.  She's not in it much unfortunately.  The gags were OK I guess but they just weren't that funny.  I suppose being a Brit who lived through the war and saw this in the theater in 1958 would have helped a lot but I just didn't think it was funny or even moderately amusing.  It's a well-shot picture but the laughs weren't there and ya kind of need them for a comedy.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (1978)

Original title: Se Ying diu Sau

Director: Yuen Woo-Ping

Writers: Shiao Loong, Ng See-Yuen, Hsi Chi Yuan, Hsi Hua An, Tsai Chi-Kuang

Composer: Chou Fu Liang

Starring: Jackie Chan, Siu Tin Yuen, Jang Lee Hwang, Dean Shek, Roy Horan, Hark-On Fung, Lung Chan

More info: IMDb

Plot: Everyone abuses and humiliates a downtrodden orphan (Chan) until he befriends an old man, who turns out to be the last master of the "snake fist" fighting style. Jackie becomes the old man's student and finds himself in battle with the master of the "eagle's claw" style, who has vowed to destroy the snake fist clan.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

I love Jackie Chan and I love that he starred in a lot of chop socky flicks in the 70s.  It's fun watching him work before he became becoming a household name in the early 90s.  This one's all kinds of fun but be warned, Jackie is picked on and gets his ass handed to him several times in the first half of the film.  It's hard to watch him lose a fight and with such shame.  But, when he starts kicking ass he's one bad mutha. 

The fight at the end is a must-see.  Even in his early films it's nice to see he was loaded with talent and charisma even then.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Brick Dollhouse (1967)

Director: Tony Martinez

Writer: Joe Delg

Composer: Bal Len

Starring: Tina Vienna, Janice Kelly, Peggy Ann, Joyana, Helena Clayton, George French, Carolyn Malborough, Frankie O'Brien, Steve Powers, Federico Steward

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Tormented by burning desire!

Plot: Min Lee, an attractive fashion model, is found murdered in her house which she shares with five other models. Lt. Parker is called to investigate the killing and during interrogation of each of Min Lee's roommates, Danielle, Carmen, Sherry, Linda, and Sandy, give their own version of events and the debauched orgies they hold on a daily basis in their home.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?   Doubtful.

I just love the creativity that it takes to come up with plots that justify gratuitous nudity.  This one has the roommates of a murdered girl giving their accounts to a detective on the last time they saw her alive. 

This girl takes a shower...

does her hair and makeup...

Friday, April 25, 2014

Cargo of Love (1968)

Director: Anton Holden

Writer: ???

Composer: ???

Starring: Sheila Britt, Gloria Irizarry, Tony Pascal, Sam Stewart, William Countryman, Barbara Wallace, Charles Abrams, Jean Parker, Angelique, Janet Banzet, Rita Bennett, Richard B. Shull

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The true story that begins where the newspaper headlines ended!

Plot: A young woman answering an ad for a traveling companion winds up drugged, kidnapped and in the clutches of a white slavery ring.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

If you like rape (and 9 out of 10 people do, group studies have shown) then you'll dig the opening of this picture.  She gets fed up (I know, right?) and answers an ad in the paper.  She's flown out to who knows where, fooled into thinking she's going to be pampered, gets drugged and sent to a wooded house where she's forced into prostitution.  It's like ripped right out of my childhood, Scoob! There she's forced to do all kinds of salacious things.

The music, probably stock library tunes, is fucking off the charts amazing.  It's like it was written for a good James Bond clone from '64.  It's very brassy and groovy and it's the best part of the picture.  Sure, there's the nudity but it's the music that grabbed me by the former short & curlies and made me take notice.

Send in the sexy undercover secret agent!

She infiltrates the prostitution ring (in like a minute), finds the one girl we followed from the beginning (I've no idea why she singled her out other than we've been following her - why not the other girls, too?) and they escape together.  The chase is on to get them back but the race is on to save them by the agent's boss.   SPOILER ALERT!!!  The ending doesn't make a lick of sense, as if I were watching an edited version.  The girls are running in the dark woods.  Two guys are running after them and a third guy is on his own.  I'm presuming the two dudes are there to save them and the single there to capture them.  The one dude ends up dead and then we see the two girls lying dead in the grass.  It's just implied they're dead 'cause we don't see or hear anything.  One second they're running, the next they're prone.  Then there's a little scene back at the house of slaves with the leader chick berating one of the girls and a quick succession of two second scene from throughout the picture.  The End.  What?  Look, it doesn't matter. We're not watching these for the plots.  Fortunately this one had one but they probably just said fuck it in the end and moved onto the next picture.  Still, it's got some nice nudity and it's not that bad of a roughie, a type of film that began in the early to mid-60s that featured violence against women including torture, kidnapping, rape and murder.  This is a decent entry in that interesting sub-genre of films from the 60s.  It's available from Something Weird Video.  I love those guys and gals.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (1981)

Director: Robert Guenette

Writers: Robert Guenette, Alan Hopgood

Composers: William Loose, Jack K. Tillar

Starring: Orson Welles, Philip L. Clarke, Ray Laska, Jason Nesmith, Howard Ackerman, Bob Ruggiero, Roy Edmonds, Ray Chubb, Richard Butler, Brass Adams, Terry Clotiaux, David Burke

More info: IMDb

Tagline: History's greatest psychic

Plot:Hosted by Orson Welles, this documentary utilizes a grab bag of dramatized scenes, stock footage, TV news clips and interviews to ask: Did 16th century French astrologer and physician Nostradamus actually predict such events as the fall of King Louis XVI, the rise of Napoleon, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy? And are there prophecies that have yet to come true?

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Yeah, in probably another 30 years.

The nostalgia factor alone is worth a lot.  In the early 80s I watched the crap out of this and ate it all up just as a 13 year old boy would.  I was just a dumb kid.  Now that I'm grown up I know that this is all horseshit but I respect the entertainment value it gives.  You really couldn't do better in 1981 than to get the great Orson Welles to narrate or host your film.  He brought a lot of weight (no pun intended) to everything he did.  Really.

See?  What's crazier is that this guy believes we all have the ability to see into the future.

It takes all kinds, I guess.  The first third of the film largely deals with Nostradamus' life and then it gets more and more into his 'predictions'.  That's when they bring out the big guns.

Dixon recounts how she predicted Kennedy's death but the truth behind that is more believable than what she says.  Pull it up on the internet and you'll see how it really went down.  Just like Nostradamus, it's soooooooo easy to retrofit events to incredibly vague predictions.  Listening to Welles is spellbinding.  He had such a commanding voice that I will literally listen to and watch anything he does.  He was amazing, even when phoning it in.  I would LOVE to have been present during the first time Welles read the script. I don't doubt his reactions to this nonsense were priceless.

There was one moment that made me sad.  Just after the one hour fourteen minute mark Orson Welles
pronounces 'nuclear' as 'nucular'.  Ugh.  Even the great ones aren't perfect.  The last twenty minutes or so are preceded by a warning that we might not want to see what's in our future.  Then they spew out all kinds of nonsense about what we can expect in the years 1988, 1994, etc.  The end of existence, btw, is sometime in the 3700s.  We've got a ways to go before we snuff it.  If Welles weren't in this or I hadn't watched it thirty plus years ago, this wouldn't do much for me.  As it is, the first two thirds is fun as fictional entertainment until it gets into the predictions that extend past the year it was made. Then it's just plain boring.  Read about Nostradamus yourself and you'll see that it's all just a bunch of nonsense predictions that you can make fit just about anything, much like the daily horoscopes in the newspaper.  Take it with a grain of salt...actually take it with lots of grains of salt on the rim of a margarita glass and you'll do better with it.  It's entertaining to a point but horseshit can only go so far.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Questor Tapes (1974)

Director: Richard A. Colla

Writers: Gene Roddenberry, Gene L. Coon

Composer: Gil Melle

Starring: Robert Foxworth, Mike Farrell, John Vernon, Lew Ayres, James Shigeta, Robert Douglas, Dana Wynter, Ellen Weston, Majel Barrett, Reuben Singer, Walter Koenig, Fred Sadoff, Gerald Peters, Eyde Girard, Alan Caillou, Lal Baum, Patti Cubbison, Ian Abercrombie

More info: IMDb

Plot: Project Questor is brainchild of the genius Dr. Vaslovik: he developed plans to build an android super-human. Although he's disappeared and half of his programming tape was erased in the attempt to decode it, his former colleagues continue the project and finally succeed. But Vaslovik seems to have installed a secret program in Questor's brain: He flees and starts to search for Vaslovik. Since half of his knowledge is missing, he needs the help of Jerry Robinson, who's now under suspect of having stolen the android.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

Here's a neat curiosity of a sci-fi TV movie from the mid-70s.  It's got a strong cast and a somewhat interesting story.  I say somewhat because the picture has several moments where it gets bogged down in the standard non-human observations about humans that we've seen before and since.  What makes the film interesting is the ending.  It's just all kinds of unexpected and out there.  What Darro (Vernon) does at the end was nice.  Didn't see that coming.  Foxworth does a fine job as the android, Questor.  His near-monotone voice (well, more monotoned than most people) was perfect and soothing.  Nice.  John Vernon is simply fun no matter what he does.  Look for STAR TREK regulars Majel Barrett and Walter Koenig in small roles.  That was neat.  And what was it about music written for TV shows in the 1970s that made them all sound alike?  Gil Melle's score is so typical with its orchestration and themes that you can tell in two seconds what medium it was written for.  I'm aware that film/TV scores can be trendy and to have certain cycles of evolution but music for 70s TV is so distinctive and often bland.  Eagah!  It doesn't hurt the picture, it's just an observation.  I didn't think of this as a pilot until the last exchange of dialogue suggests there are more adventures to be had.  I just watched it as a one-off TV movie written by the guy who created STAR TREK. It's not a game changer but it's not that bad, either.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mrs. Sundance (1974)

Director: Marvin J. Chomsky

Writer: Christopher Knopf

Composer: Patrick Williams

Starring: Elizabeth Montgomery, Robert Foxworth, L.Q. Jones, Arthur Hunnicutt, Lurene Tuttle, Claudette Nevins, Lorna Thayer, Robbert Donner, Byron Mabe, Dean Smith, Jack Williams, Todd Shelhorse

More info: IMDb

Tagline: After Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed dead in a hail of lead, she was left still alive with a price of $10,000 on her hide.

Plot: Bouty hunters all over the Southwest are on the lookout for Etta Place (Montgomery), also known as Mrs. Sundance. Most cowboys on the wrong side of the law are convinced that Mrs. Sundance knows the exact location of the untold millions in hidden gold stolen over the years by her husband. Shrewd and wily from the tricks she learned through The Kid, Mrs. Sundance proves just as tough to catch as her husband was!

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Geez, in the span of one week I've seen, completely by chance, three movies with Robert Foxworth - PROPHECY (1979), THE QUESTOR TAPES (1974) and now this. And I barely knew who the guy was.  I know now.  It's essentially his and Elizabeth Montgomery's show.  It was great seeing L.Q. Jones in the role of the lead bounty hunter.  It's a TV movie so there's no escaping the trappings of what medium it was made for but it is a pretty good one.  The score is fantastic, though, and not what you'd expect for the time.  It's so good that I thought it might have been by the great Jerry Fielding. That's a high compliment to Patrick Williams' fine work on this film.  There's a moment near the end, when it looks like the chips are down and there's no escaping the bounty hunters, when Etta (Montgomery) reminisces to Jack (Foxworth) about the good old days with Butch & Sundance.  There's a beautiful, melancholy rendition of "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head", the song featured in the earlier film, BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969).  It was so good I was taken aback.  The way it sneaks up on you and plays out really made that scene special.  The conclusion played out differently than I expected which was a good thing.  There are some other familiar faces in the picture that will have you recalling some fond memories from their earlier work.  TV movies from the 70s were a big thing.  A TV Movie-of-the-Week was generally something the family would prepare for.  They were of a higher quality than what you got in the 80s and 90s as cable and home video saturated the market.  Don't let yourself pass one up just because it was made for TV.  You might miss something of quality.

Rounders (1998)

Director: John Dahl

Writers: David Levien, Brian Koppelman

Composer: Christopher Young

Starring: Matt Damon, Gretchen Mol, John Malkovich, Paul Cicero, Ray Lannicelli, John Turturro, Martin Landau, Edward Norton, Slava Schoot, Goran Visnjic

More info: IMDb

Tagline: You've got to play the hand you're dealt.

Plot: After losing a high-stakes card game, Mike (Damon) gives up gambling for law school and a fresh start with his girlfriend (Mol). But then his best buddy (Norton) gets out of prison and in over his head with a ruthless card shark (Malkovich). From there, Mike’s strong sense of loyalty – and the lure of the game – draws him back to the tables in a game he cannot afford to lose!

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

Kenny Rogers as....THE SPOILERS!!!! YARRRRR!!!

I'm a big fan of director John Dahl and have been for a couple of decades (at least).  Have you seen RED ROCK WEST (1993) or THE LAST SEDUCTION (1994)?  Great films.  He's mostly directed TV episodes for the last few years.  I don't know why he doesn't do more films but oh well.  I'll take what I can get.  I'm not much of a gambler but I dig gambling movies and there are a good ones when it comes to poker.  THE CINCINNATI KID (1965) is a real beaut.  Great atmosphere and performances.   ROUNDERS is a great modern poker film that focuses on the need to play or the compulsion to be who you are.  Mike (Damon) eventually realizes this and stops fighting it.  I dig that the business with his girlfriend didn't consume him or the movie.  So often films dwell on this but I'm glad the film makers had the sense to understand that wasn't necessary.  Getting her out of the way quickly was a good move.  You just know that as soon as Worm (Norton) shows up it's not going to end well and he's probably going to bring some collateral damage to Mike.  And I really liked that they didn't kill him off, another typical Hollywood move.  You get the idea that eventually he'll do himself in but that's not in this story.  Damon does a very good job as does everyone else in the cast.  Turturro (I miss seeing him in movies), Landau, Mol and Malkovich are wonderful. Christopher Young's moody score is fantastic.  It had that 1950s Hollywood jazz score feel that really felt at home here.  I kind of got a TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) vibe off it that hit all the right notes.  Good stuff.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cleopatra's Daughter (1960)

Original title: Il Sepolcro dei re

Director: Fernando Cerchio

Writers: Fernando Cerchio, Damiano Damiani

Composer: Giovanni Fusco

Starring: Debra Paget, Ettore Manni, Erno Crisa, Corrado Pani, Yvette Lebon, Andreina Rossi, Ivano Staccioli, Angelo Dessy, Renato Mambor, Nando Tamberlani, Stefania Re, Rosalba Neri, Betsy Bell

More info: IMDb

Tagline: More beautiful and desirable than Cleopatra herself

Plot: Cleopatra, after the civil war that followed the assassination of Caesar, met with Marc Antony in Assyria where they planned the defense of Egypt against the Romans. Before leaving, Cleopatra entrusted her young daughter, Shila, to the rulers of Assyria to be brought up as their own. After Marc Antony's defeat and Cleopatra's death, Egypt, for the next twenty years, was torn apart and ruled by a youthful Pharaoh, Nemorat, with his despot Queen Mother, Tegi, who desired to unite both kingdoms and strengthen her son's rule by conquering Assyria and making Shila, now a beautiful woman, his queen.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I'm probably being generous by giving this a 5 out of 10 instead of a point or two lower.  It doesn't help that the only copy out there is my old VHS copy from Sinister Cinema.  No widescreen anywhere I can find.  What's worse is the English dub is atrocious.  Even the sound effects are weak.  The story is OK but these Sword & Sandal pictures are made for the spectacle and to be seen on the big screen.  I will give this one another chance if I should come across a good widescreen print and in the original Italian with English subs.  Gee, I don't ask for much, do I?  Watch it for yourself above, if you dare.  I've got 250 of films in this genre and more than half are widescreen.  I should go with those first instead of torturing myself with these shit VHS rips.  

Clownhouse (1989)

Director: Victor Salva

Writer: Victor Salva

Composers: Michael Becker, Thomas Richardson

Starring: Nathan Forrest Winters, Brian McHugh, Sam Rockwell, Michael Jerome West, Byron Weible, David C. Reinecker, Timothy Enos, Frank Diamanti, Karl-Heinz Teuber, Viletta Skillman, Gloria Belsky

More info: IMDb

Tagline: ...A circus of the mind.

Plot: Just before Halloween, three young brothers alone in a big house are menaced by three escaped mental patients who have murdered some traveling circus clowns and taken their identities.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

A friend of mine picked this up at a flea market for a dollar.  We watched it and then he sold it on ebay for over a hundred bucks.  Why?  Is it because it's Sam Rockwell's film debut or maybe it's so good that folks can't get enough of it?  Nope.  Apparently it's because the director molested the kid during the film's production and MGM discontinued the DVD.  I don't know exactly how the two are related but there it is.  Is it a good movie?  I don't think so.  Knowing what I know now the opening ten minutes makes more sense as there are a lot of shots of the kids in their underwear and the camera lingers on them.  That's creepy.  The sound effects (car screeches, people falling, etc) sound like they're from cartoons which makes the film feel cheap and the synth score doesn't help in that department either.  I can overlook certain things, especially when they are due to budgetary restraints, but a poor synthesizer score is awfully hard for me to put up with.  Hey, at least my friend made over a hundred bucks off this movie. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Smell of Honey, a Swallow of Brine (1966)

Director: Byron Mabe

Writer: David F. Friedman

Composer: Mark Wayne

Starring: Stacey Walker, Sam Melville, Bob Todd, Sharon Carr, Michael Wright, Michael O'Kelly, Larry Jones, Linda Gearhart, Tom Hughes, Tom Dolbey, Et Cetra, David F. Friedman, Myron Griffin, Ken Shapiro

More info: IMDb

Tagline: There is an expression for girls like her ------ You see it scrawled on walls....!

Plot: Sharon is a young office worker who sexually teases, seduces and then cries 'rape' on various men just to see them emotionally suffer for her own man-hating, twisted amusement leading to one lovestruck boyfriend being sent to prison, the financial ruin of another, and the meltdown and death of a third victim. Sharon even teases her lesbian roommate, Paula, by come-ons and then brushing her off. But eventually, Sharon meets her match.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.


If you've seen any Something Weird Video releases, you'll instantly recognize this...

Even though I've never seen this picture before, it suddenly hit me just before that moment happens in the film (I've seen the SWV opener a gazillion times) I found myself repeating that line as she said.  It's a great line and a great scene.  Sharon (Walker, sporting a strange-ass hairdo) is a real bitch.  This film is aptly titled. She's the queen of cock-tease and she plays it to the hilt.

She fucks with the dudes and the chicks.  She even falls in love with one guy, they go on several dates, and like always, she initiates it and as soon as the guy gets too close, she freaks the fuck out.  One of her victims is so sexually frustrated that he rapes a girl