Friday, December 23, 2016

Mr. Klein (1976)

Director: Joseph Losey

Writers: Franco Solinas, Fernando Morandi

Composers: Egisto Macchi, Pierre Porte

Starring: Alain Delon, Jeanne Moreau, Francine Berge, Juliet Berto, Jean Bouise, Suzanne Flon, Massimo Girotti, Michael Lonsdale

More info: IMDb

Plot:  Paris, 1942. Robert Klein cannot find any fault with the state of affairs in German-occupied France. He has a well-furnished flat, a mistress, and business is booming. Jews facing discrimination because of laws edicted by the French government are desperate to sell valuable works of art - and it is easy for him to get them at bargain prices. His cosy life is disrupted when he realizes that there is another Robert Klein in Paris - a Jew with a rather mysterious behaviour. Very soon, this homonymy attracts the close - and menacing - attention of the police on the established art trader.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably.

I knew nothing about this going in except the director and stars.  It's a mysterious picture in that Klein (Delon) knows very little about what's been going on and we're in the same boat as he is.  There were moments when he figured out something and I wasn't sure where his thinking was taking him but it didn't matter as I was invested in the film and was wanting to know desperately what his fate was to be.  There were times when I thought he might be imagining  things and people.  Then there was the very real possibility that he'd been set up, and if so then by whom?  That had me thinking, and that's the best part.  I was intrigued by the film and I was filled with all kinds of possibilities even after the film was over.  Often I'll watch a movie and let it take me where it wants without over-thinking the plot.  This one was tough to give over as it's a mystery until the end but the social commentary doesn't hit home until the final scene which is absolutely brilliant.  It's a wonderful ending.  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Navy Comes Through (1942)

Director: A. Edward Sutherland

Writers: Borden Chase, Earl Baldwin, John Twist, Roy Chanslor, Aeneas MacKenzie

Composer: Roy Webb

Starring: Pat O'Brien, George Murphy, Jane Wyatt, Jackie Cooper, Carl Esmond, Max Baer, Desi Arnaz, Ray Collins

More info: IMDb

Tagline: We've just begun to fight!

Plot: A U.S. Navy crew aboard a merchant marine ship gives the Nazis what fer.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I probably won't understand why Pat O'Brien was a big star.  He's always so laid back and wooden.  He's great when he's a compassionate priest or something of the ilk but when it comes to taking charge and getting into some action business, he's just stiff.  Despite that, this picture is rather entertaining.  It's got a wild story that has our fightin' boys capturing a Nazi sub and using it to blow up other Nazi subs.  It's crazy but it works.  At about 80 minutes, there's enough time to get in and out of it before it overstays its welcome.  O'Brien in the lead doesn't help and it does have what you'd expect from a pure propaganda driven flick but then there are also a few lines that had me in stitches.  They were throwaway lines that felt genuine, the kind of thing you'd see in real life.  Desi Arnaz and Jackie Cooper add to the fun.  I'd recommend it but keep your expectations lower.  It's no wartime classic but it does provide some entertainment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Naked City (1948)

Director: Jules Dassin

Writers: Albert Maltz, Malvin Wald

Composers: Miklos Rozsa, Frank Skinner

Starring: Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Dorothy Hart, Don Taylor, Frank Conroy, Ted de Corsia, House Jameson, Anne Sargent, Adelaide Klein, Grover Burgess, Tom Pedi, Enid Markey, Mark Hellinger, James Gregory

More info: IMDb


Plot: New York City film noir about two detectives investigating the death of an attractive young woman. The apparent suicide turns out to be murder.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Alright, so this is an OK picture.  I liked the NYC outdoor filming.  It's always neat seeing everyday life from the past.  The story is good.  I particularly liked how they emphasized the mundane but important tasks of sheer legwork and the countless hours of manpower it takes to ask hundreds of people lots of questions in the hope of finding that one clue that furthers the investigation.  Outside of that, there's some hokey acting going on and the narration is borderline silly sometimes.  I've seen lots of these films from the era that did it much better.  Hell, some of these folks are acting like it was an early 30s picture.  I bring this up because this picture has a highly respected reputation which I just don't understand.  The extras on the Criterion DVD would probably enlighten me on the reasons why but I don't have the patience to sit through a commentary among the other extras.  It's just not interesting enough to keep digging into it.  It is neat seeing James Gregory in his first role.  I love that guy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rogue One (2016)

Director: Gareth Edwards

Writers: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll, Gary Whitta

Composer: Michael Giacchino

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits, Alistair Petrie, Genevieve O'Reilly, Ben Daniels, Paul Kasey, Stephen Stanton, James Earl Jones

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A rebellion built on hope.

Plot:  The Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.


In a nutshell, I really liked it and I'm liking it more over the past 24 hours since I saw it.  I can't think of anything that I didn't like which already makes it different than THE FORCE AWAKENS which is loaded with stuff that should've been a lot better but still managed to be a really fun picture.  The pandering to fans in TFA was over the top and embarrassing.  The call backs in RO are more subtle and acceptable.   I'm just going to briefly hit the things that stood out for me that I dig.  Bringing Tarkin back is one of the coolest things about this.  I'm a HUGE fan of Peter Cushing so I'm really studying him whenever he's on.  I could easily tell he was CGI but they still did a great job.  The voice isn't quite there but it's close enough.  It was off enough that when he says, "You may fire when ready.", I'd swear it was directly lifted from the '77 film.   He's a tough sumbitch, though, and I loved it.  Vader is great but you can tell Jones' voice isn't what it was.  I'm surprised they didn't electronically play with it to more closely match what he did nearly 40 years ago.  And speaking of Vader, did you notice that his helmet looks closer to his shoulders or that his shoulders were larger than before?  It felt odd somehow. The bit that had me tearing up, though, was hearing and seeing the two X-Wing/Y-Wing pilots in the final battle.  That was one piece of fan service that really touched me, taking me back to when I was a kid that summer 39 years ago. 

The trailers painted Jyn (Jones) as a cocky badass to the point of making her looking like the typical Hollywood flick where she'd own the joint in an over the top way.  I REALLY hated that line where she said something like, "You want rebels, don't you?  I rebel.".  It's just awful.  Fortunately it's not in the film.  I did leave my seat for 3 minutes to take a squirt during the scene immediately following Vader's entrance, where Jyn is talking to the Alliance council or something.  Maybe she said it there.  But I liked her a lot and the same goes for the rest of the cast.  Cassaian (Luna) is terrific.  He does what's necessary despite what it means to other people.  Shortly after we meet him, he kills a character that's on his side simply because allowing him to live would jeopardize the cause.  It's cold but I loved it and he did it without hesitation.  K-2SO was hilarious and it was a welcome sight to see a prominent droid not be so damn cute or silly.  Krennic (Mendelsohn) is fantastic and I kind of felt sorry for the guy having worked so hard for so long only to have someone else take the credit. 

And the final few minutes with the Death Star plans making their way to the hands of Leia was fucking intense and fun as shit.  I about lost it for the all too brief scene when Vader goes to town on the rebels.  WOW!!!  I really love how they did something different for a change.  It's nice that we're going to get stand alone films because it allows us to take a break from the friggin' force, Jedi and laser swords and shit.  It's nice getting to see something that doesn't involve a Skywalker (but I do loves me some Luke stuff, just to be clear).  Oh, and something else, the Rebel pilots look like normal people and I was pleased as blue milk to see that one of them was a woman in her 50s that looked like she was somebody's mom.  Refreshing.  I'm looking forward to seeing this at least 2 or 3 more times before it leaves the theater which is a lot more than I anticipated before yesterday.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976)

Director: Mark Rydell

Writers: Don Devlin, John Byrum, Robert Kaufman

Composer: David Shire

Starring: James Caan, Elliott Gould, Michael Caine, Diane Keaton, Charles Durning, Lesley Ann Warren, Val Avery, Jack Gilford, Dennis Dugan, Carol Kane, Burt Young, Ted Cassidy, Brion James

More info: IMDb

Tagline: All the Digby-Hill-Chestnut gang need is two breaks... out of jail... into a safe.

Plot: Two hoplessly out of their class con-men attempt to pull off the largest bank heist of the l9th century. They gain the enmity of the most famous bank Robber in the world and the affection of a crusading newspaperwoman.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

Ugh.  Big comedies that aren't funny can be painful.  This one isn't funny but it's also not painful.  The cast does well with what they've got but this feels more suited for the likes of Abbott & Costello if it were made in the 40s.  I can see this being A LOT funnier with them thirty years earlier.  It's a film that probably looks better on paper.  I'm not sure where it went wrong (the script is the likely culprit) but it's just not fun, mildly amusing at best but not fun as it desperately wants to be.  The direction, score, editing, production values etc are great.  I'm a fan of a lot of these folks (it's got a great cast, filled with wonderful character actors) so there's no keeping me away from seeing it.  It's always great to see Ted Cassidy with some lines.  I need to see if if he did any films with a more substantial role.  He's great.  I'm glad I finally did but I'm disappointed it wasn't better than it was or at least funnier.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Search and Destroy (1979)

Director: William Fruet

Writer: Don Enright

Composers: Martin Deller, Cameron Hawkins, Ben Mink

Starring: Perry King, Don Stroud, Tisa Farrow, George Kennedy, Tony Sheer, Phil Aikin, Rummy Bishop, Daniel Buccos, Rob Garrison, John Kerry, Geza Kovacs, Bill Starr, Kirk McOll, Jong Soo Park

More inf: IMDb

Tagline: Five lives... Ten years... And a Million Tons of Thundering Suspense!

Plot: The members of a Vietnam veteran's old Army unit start turning up murdered. The police soon begin to suspect that he is in fact the killer. He knows he isn't, and must find the real killer in order to clear his name. He soon realizes, however, that the real killer is now hunting him.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I really like the premise.  It's different enough to be fun and interesting.  The score is really good, too, in that Tangerine Dream sort of way.  The fight scene with Buddy (Stroud) and The Assassin (Park) is really nice and it feels real plus you've got the cool backdrop of a different section of Niagara Falls that we're not used to seeing.  And that's another plus, the location of the falls itself.  The wooded area also provides a nice setting for the big finale as to equate to the jungles of Vietnam.  The pacing works well enough to keep from getting tired or bored.  Overall, it's a good flick and worth a look, and one that I'd never heard of...until I did.

Monday, October 24, 2016

X, Y and Zee (1972)

Original title: Zee and Co.

Director: Brian G. Hutton

Writer: Edna O'Brien

Composer: Stanley Myers

Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Caine, Susannah York, Margaret Leighton, John Standing, Mary Larkin, Michael Cashman, Gino Melvazzi

More info: IMDb

Tagline: An Absolute Ball

Plot: The venomous and amoral wife of a wealthy architect tries, any way she can, to break up the blossoming romance between her husband and his new mistress; a good-natured young widow who holds a dark past.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

For a while this gave me flashbacks to WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966) and in some ways that's justified.  They both feature a married couple who have some serious issues and a lot of bickering...and star Elizabeth Taylor.  There is more to it than that but that's the gist of what I was thinking at the time.  I really need to re-visit that exceptional film.   Anyway, this picture is a lot slower and I can see losing interest early on.  If you should see this, DEFINITELY try to stick through to the end as the final minutes deliver a lot of the power this film has.  It's a good picture despite the slow pacing.  The cast is excellent, especially Taylor.  She's wonderful.  And it's not because of this...

which I'm sure was a body double.  Caine gives  a fine performance, too.  If you don't like seeing couples fight then you don't want to see this.  That's about all these two do.  They have an unusual relationship that gets more complicated and vicious as it goes.  Zee (Taylor) becomes more of a bitch and Robert (Caine) shows more reasons why she's like that.  I'm still inclined to think that it's more her fault than his but I'd need more back story on the two before knowing for sure.  Either way, they'd only been married for five years and it's a horrible relationship.  If this sounds like your cup of tea, drink it.  But you're not getting any sugar.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Norseman (1978)

Director: Charles B. Pierce

Writer: Charles B. Pierce

Composer: Jaime Mendoza-Nava

Starring: Lee Majors, Cornel Wilde, Mel Ferrar, Jack Elam, Susie Coelho, Christopher Connolly, Jimmy Clem, Deacon Jones, Denny Miller, Fred Biletnikoff, Seamon Glass, Kathleen Freeman

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The saga of the warrior whose courage defied 1,000 years of myth and legend.

Plot: An 11th-century Viking prince sails to America to find his father, who on a previous voyage had been captured by Indians.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

As soon as you see Lee Majors in his getup, you get a hint that this might not work out so well.

As soon as you hear Lee Majors speak with his middle-American accent, you know it's not going to be a pleasant romp.

As soon as you realize that these are the only expressions Lee Majors has throughout the picture, it's going to be a long hour and a half...and it is. 

I'd swear that if I didn't see this in widescreen that this was a low budget TV movie.  The acting, editing, fight choreography (which relies heavily on slow motion) and limited setting (on or near a Florida beach) all point to a limited and probably rushed production.  It's not close to being as epic as it wants to be.  I love Lee Majors but this is such a poor choice for him that it makes me wonder why he even produced it.  Maybe since most kids back then grew up wanting to be astronauts, and he played one on TV, that he might've grown up wanting to be a viking.  This picture either didn't go as planned (honestly, I can't see how this could be better) or it's exactly what Majors & co. wanted.  

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Visit to the Underground Cities of Mars (1977)

Director: ???

Writers: Ruth Norman, Thomas Miller

Composer: ???

Starring: Ruth Norman, Thomas Miller

More info: Wikipedia

Plot: Take a psychic voyage to Mars and learn of the exciting way of life the Martians lead.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

If there are only two science fiction films released in 1977 you must see before you die it's STAR WARS & this peculiar gem.  At just under an hour, this film (made by the religious (of sorts) organization called Unarius Academy of Science) is essentially a fantastical commercial for taking a trip to Mars.  You get to know all about the spaceship that'll take you there (the dimensions, how it works and so on) as well as many aspects of the culture and civilization that exists on Mars.  Visually it's bonkers with re-enactments of ceremonies, cultural events and whatnot.  There are models, drawings and other effects to help bring this to a reality.  It's a fun, well thought out piece of sci-fi that's to be taken seriously.  Seriously.  Check out the amazing documentary called CHILDREN OF THE STARS (2012) and then watch this.  It's nuts. How nuts?  The following ends the picture: The preceding film was an actual psychic visitation experienced and written by Uriel (Ruth Norman) and Cosmon (Thomas Miller).  'Nuff said.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Danish & Blue (1970)

Director: Zoltan G. Spencer

Writer: ???

Composer: ???

Starring: William Howard, Suzanne Fields, Erika, Ron Darby, John Dullaghan, Linda Vroom

More info: IMDb

Plot: A shy, young American man vacations in Denmark where he meets an exotic dancer.  Over the course of his stay he experiences his sexual awakening, banging practically every chick he meets.  When his vacation ends, he's fully ready to conquer the US of A.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Watch the trailer, add A LOT of gratuitous nudity...

...and there's your movie.  It's about an hour of softcore porn with an abundance of boobs, dicks and pubes.  Johnny narrates his story with the conviction of a bad porn actor (that's right, as opposed to a good one).  If you're looking for something to add to the ole spank bank, keep looking.  It would have more value if it were hardcore but alas.  Boobs can only do so much.  I guess I need more to be entertained.  What makes it remotely humorous is the fake-documentary style it's filmed in.  This was released by SWV (Something Weird Video) which means the hour's worth of sex trailers after the film are a lot more entertaining than the accompanying feature.  I'd give those an 8 out of 10 if I were to score them.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Maltese Falcon (1931)

AKA: Dangerous Female

Director: Roy Del Ruth

Writers: Dashiell Hammett, Maude Fulton, Brown Holmes

Composer: ???

Starring: Bebe Daniels, Ricardo Cortez, Dudley Digges, Una Merkel, Robert Elliott, Thelma Todd, Otto Matieson, Walter Long, Dwight Frye, J. Farrell MacDonald

More info:  IMDb

Plot: A lovely dame with dangerous lies employs the services of a private detective, who is quickly caught up in the mystery and intrigue of a statuette known as the Maltese Falcon.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I'm such a huge fan of THE MALTESE FALCON (1941), and I've seen it many times, that there's no way I'm passing this up.  Now I just need to see the first filmed version of Hammett's story, SATAN WAS A LADY (1936) with Bette Davis.  After seeing the '41 film a few times, it's hard not to think of it when watching this one.  It is superior in every way to the '31 version.  Right off the bat I was turned off by Cartez's take on Sam Spade.  He's more of an eye-rolling wise ass.  It could've been played, and would've been more fun if it were played, by comedian Eddie Cantor.  It's hard not to mention the lack of music, which hurts the picture, but it's understandable as this was the norm in the early days of the talkies.  The lack of music does make the picture drag more than it would with it.  I found it fun and neat to see similarities between this and the '41 picture outside of the story.  Things like the casting of Gutman and Cairo.  Even Gutman's hotel room looks like it was re-used for the '41 film.  It's a great story and it does entertain.  Any fans of the '41 film would be amused by this one.  This one goes beyond the ending of '41 with a scene in prison between Sam and that sweet 'you know who'.  People complain about remakes constantly.  I used to be one of them many years ago until I stopped caring and accepted it.  Naturally it's out of my control so why bother burning calories bitching about Hollywood's seemingly lack of original ideas.  The '41 Bogart version of the film was the second remake of the story in ten years and it's also considered one of the all time great films, too.  I'm surprised it hasn't been remade a third time.  I should just wait a couple of more years to eat my words. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Cold Sweat (1970)

Original title: De la Part des Copains

Director: Terence Young

Writers: Dorothea Bennett, Jo Eisinger, Richard Matheson, Shimon Wincelberg

Composer: Michel Magne

Starring: Charles Bronson, Liv Ullmann, James Mason, Jill Ireland, Michel Constantin, Luigi Pistilli

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Charles Bronson is Running...Charles Bronson is Running for His Wife. She Has 11 Minutes to Live...You Will Have a Lifetime to Remember!

Plot: A brutal drug trader takes his violent revenge after his wife is captured by a drug boss.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Only if I come across a better print.

#51 on Project: Badass Charles Bronson

LEVEL OF BADASSICITY (10 being the highest): 8

If you can suffer through the first half then you'll be rewarded with a much more fun and exciting, action-packed second half.   This flick doesn't feel like it's directed by the seasoned pro that directed three out of the first four Bond pictures.  It's not as polished.  Maybe that's the likely much lower budget doing the talking.  If that's the case, then OK.  Bronson doesn't become BRONSON until the last half when it's all action.  The start of the picture has him living the carefree life of a man who's discovered the secret to happiness.  In the film, he goes home to his family.  He could've just as easily stepped right into this commercial...

It's strange seeing Bronson so footloose and fancy free.  The manliness comes out when his past catches up with him.  The car chase is great and it's the best part of the picture.  Bronson is fun but it's the second half that works well.  I usually like James Mason a lot but his Southern American accent is really bad.  It's also awkward not hearing his wonderful British accent.  A few years earlier, Bronson stole Jill Ireland, the wife of British actor David McCallum (stole isn't the right word;  she couldn't help but throw herself at the walking testosterone bank that is Bronson).  I bet that Mason was so intimidated by him that he refused to speak with his British accent for fear of getting his ass handed to him and losing all of the women in his life at the same time. Just a thought. The plot isn't complicated but it doesn't need to be.  This is about exacting revenge for the dumb motherfuckers that chose the bad idea of pissing off Charles Bronson.   The print I watched was non-anamorphic widescreen and filthy, so much so that, while I like a dirty print with older movies sometimes, I would've preferred a better quality and anamorphic wide.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cleopatra (1934)

Director: Cecil B. DeMille

Writers: Bartlett Cormack, Waldemar Young, Vincent Lawrence

Composer: Rudolph G. Kopp

Starring: Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Henry Wilcoxon, Joseph Schildkraut, Ian Keith, Gertrude Michael, C. Aubrey Smith, Irving Pichel, Arthur Hohl, Edwin Maxwell, Ian Maclaren, Eleanor Phelps, Leonard Mudie, Grace Durkin, Claudia Dell

More info: IMDb

Tagline: History's most seductive woman! The screen's mightiest spectacle!

Plot: In 48 BC, Cleopatra, facing palace revolt in her kingdom of Egypt, welcomes the arrival of Julius Caesar as a way of solidifying her power under Rome. When Caesar, whom she has led astray, is killed, she transfers her affections to Marc Antony and dazzles him on a barge full of DeMillean splendor. But the trick may not work a third time.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I didn't care for the first half of this.  It's so stagy.  Most everyone is over acting.  Colbert comes off best.  Not only does she hold back a little but she looks amazing.  Her outfits are sexy as shit.  The dialogue is often stale and it comes off corny.  The actors often don't act any differently than if they were in a B crime film or melodramatic romance.  That style doesn't work in a historical drama such as this.  The second half of the film fares better except for some aspects that carry over from the first half like the romance angle.  The film makers play loose with the facts but that's par for the course in Hollywood. In the last act we get some battle footage that is clearly taken from other films with closeups of Anthony and Cleopatra as well as a few bits made for this film.  Despite that, there are some neat shots and kills.  They're the most enjoyable moments of the picture.  After that it's back to the melodrama but faster paced as we've got only a few more minutes in which to see the picture come to a close.  It's an OK picture but nothing special.  Reading the IMDb reviews and boards you'd think this was a masterpiece of cinema.  Perhaps if it were 80 years ago and all I had to go off of were the films up to this point, only then might my feelings be different.  There's nothing different here than you'd find in other genres of film of the time except for the costumes and set design.  According to IMDb David Niven and John Carradine can be seen (uncredited in the film) in bit parts.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Yakuza (1974)

Director: Sydney Pollack

Writers: Paul Schrader, Robert Towne, Leonard Schrader

Composer: Dave Grusin

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Ken Takakura, Brian Keith, Herb Edelman, Richard Jordan, Keiko Kishi, Eiji Okada, James Shigeta, Kyosuke Machida, Christina Kokubo, Eiji Go

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A man never forgets. A man pays his debts.

Plot: Harry Kilmer returns to Japan after several years in order to rescue his friend George's kidnapped daughter - and ends up on the wrong side of the Yakuza, the notorious Japanese mafia.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

When you think of Americans getting involved with anything in any foreign country, you can bet that it's the American that comes out on top and the foreigners couldn't have done it without them.  Well, this picture is an exception.  Not only is the American (Harry Kilmer nicely played by Mitchum) a contributor to the problem (but it's not his fault as he was duped by another American that really fucks things up).  Yeah, he helps but he does so out of a sense of honor and obligation.  The ending is really great.  For an American production, they handled the Japanese culture with respect and dignity.  I was really surprised at how much detail was paid to it.  I read that the original script was more about the action and revenge but that was toned down a lot in the rewrite from Robert Towne.  I don't know at what point the careful attention was paid to everything Japanese but it works very, very well.  Again, what Kilmer does in the final minutes is harsh and brilliant.  Kilmer might as well be Japanese.  There's a fair amount of action and it's good.  The acting is very good as well.  I was pleasantly surprised by the seriousness of it all.  Dave Grusin's score works well and I really dig his opening credits track.  It's got a nice groove to it.  The Warner Bros. DVD (not the Archive Collection which is how it's sold now...I'm assuming that version doesn't have extras as is usual with that line) has a great looking anamorphic widescreen print with extras in a commentary track from Pollack and a vintage twenty minute behind the scenes featurette (fullscreen).  It's a great look at the film's production and on dealing with the Japanese culture and Yakuza films.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Muscle Beach Party (1964)

Director: William Asher

Writers: William Asher, Robert Dillon

Composer: Les Baxter

Starring: Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Luciana Paluzzi, John Ashley, Don Rickles, Peter Gurgeon, Jody McCrea, Dick Dale, Morey Amsterdam, Candy Johnson, Donna Loren, Stevie Wonder, Buddy Hackett, Dan Haggerty, Peter Lorre, The Del-Tones

More info: IMDb


Plot:  Local beach-goers find that their beach has been taken over by a businessman training a stable of body builders.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

These Beach pictures are a mixed bag.  They're dumb teen comedies but they're also goofy.  There's usually a few old timer actors in the cast that make it more palatable for the older audience.  Now if I were the target age for this film when it came out I might like it just a little more but I've never been much for dumb teen comedies even in my teens but with few exceptions.  What makes this more watchable is the inclusion of Rickles, Hackett and Lorre.  Then you've got music from The Del-Tones, Dick Dale and Stevie Wonder.  They're always fun.  What hurts these flicks is both some REALLY dumb characters and slow pacing that makes the 90 minutes feel like two hours or more.  It's hard to recommend these films but there are some funny bits and it's a blast to see Buddy Hackett & Don Rickles with starring roles.  Oh, and Candy Johnson's dancing is out of sight!

The MGM Midnite Movies double feature comes with SKI PARTY.  This film is presented with a nice anamorphic widescreen print and the theatrical trailer (also A-wide).

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Iced (1988)

Director: Jeff Kwitny

Writer: Joseph Alan Johnson

Composer: Dan Milner

Starring: Debra De Liso, Dough Stevenson, Ron Kologie, Elizabeth Gorcey, John C. Cooke, Joseph Alan Johnson, Dan Smith, Michael Picardi, Lisa Loring, Sharon Bingham, Mark Turner, Rodney Montague

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A downhill vacation becomes a nightmare of terror.  Get off the hill before you get...ICED

Plot: A group of childhood friends are invited to the opening of a posh ski resort, unaware that an old nemesis has murderous plans in mind for them.

My rating:  5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This has what you'd expect from an 80s slasher picture.  There are some kills but they don't start until an hour in (or at least that's when the body count starts to rise).  I think there was one kill early on but it almost doesn't count since you will have probably forgotten about it when the blood hits the fan.  The music has its moments but the low budget trappings of a below average synthesizer score are there.  The best of it, the cue during Trina's frantic run near the end (where she discovers the bodies one by one) is outstanding.  Really. That track gets used again when the killer is after her.  It's performed by an orchestra and it sounds like the composer was influenced by John Williams so it makes me think that it came from a different composer.  All of the nudity is courtesy of Lisa Loring.

Gig-git-y!  She's best remembered for playing Wednesday in THE ADDAMS FAMILY (1964).  The kills are just OK.  The icicle was my favorite.  They aren't all THAT fun and there's little gore.  Besides seeing Wednesday's all grown up cans, the only thing that's great about this is the last scene with the snowman.  THAT was cool as shit.  Other than that, there's no good reason to see this minor 80s slasher.  If anyone has any info on the music from this, please let me know.  Had the entire score been as good as that one cue, this would've been a better picture.