Friday, September 30, 2016

Dangerous Mission (1954)

Director: Louis King

Writers: Horace McCoy, W.R. Burnett, Charles Bennett, James Edmiston

Composer: Roy Webb

Starring: Victor Mature, Piper Laurie, William Bendix, Vincent Price, Betta St. John, Harry Cheshire, Steve Darrell, Walter Reed, Marlo Dwyer, Dennis Weaver

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Avalanche of action!

Plot: A policeman tries to protect a young woman against a hit man, when she flees New York after witnessing a mob killing.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Man, it's just been one long string of mediocre movies I've been watching lately.  The thing is, there something about them that appeals to me enough to see them, which is usually the cast.  I like Mature a little bit but I LOVE Vincent Price, and he's playing a bad guy in this crime thriller.  This isn't nearly exciting as that great poster or the trailer.  Hell, a third of the trailer is taken from the last few minutes of the movie which is where all of the action and tension is.  The film does feature the best that fashion had to offer.  Price and Mature rocked their happening threads!

I can't recommend this even to fans of Price.  He's good (as always) but most of the movie's outdoor scenes are clearly shot on a soundstage which makes it look cheaper than it should.  When they do film outdoors, the location of Glacier National Park is gorgeous.  The climax in the snow is good as is Price's exit but there's so much ho-hum that comes before it that lessons the final act's impact.  I see that it was co-written by W.R. Burnett who also worked on CRASH DIVE (1943) which I wrote about yesterday, another mediocre film.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Crash Dive (1943)

Director: Archie Mayo

Writers: Jo Swerling, W.R. Burnett

Composer: David Buttolph

Starring: Tyrone Power, Anne Baxter, Dana Andrews, James Gleason, Dame May Whitty, Harry Morgan, Ben Carter, Fred Aldrich

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Tyrone Power -- Leading a reckless crew on the war's most daring mission! Battling death in a depth-bombed submarine! Blasting Nazis on a bold Commando raid! Finding love in precious, stolen moments! Crashing his way to unforgettable glory in...

Plot: A submarine lieutenant and his commander fall in love with the same girl.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

Woof.  This muddied WWII actioner has a little going for it and a lot against it.  The acting is fine and it's perfectly good for the era.  It's a color WWII movie which was a rare thing back then.  It might've worked better in B&W.  If I were to watch it again (which I won't), I'd adjust the picture settings so it would be in B&W.  On the bad side, there is WAY too much time spent on the romance plot and not enough with the submarine action.  What action is there is OK but the picture takes a turn for the ridiculous in the last act when the boys in the underwater can go topside to blow up a munitions dump (or something) on land.  As this was filmed during the War, there's a lot of flag-waving and patriotism bandied about.  Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't.  It's different with each person and film.  The only time I'm OK with it is when the movie is a good one.  If it's not then it's just one more thing that bugs me.  There is one more positive in this picture and that's how the sole black man, Oliver (Carter), is handled.  He's not treated as a second class citizen and his role is pivotal in at least one scene where it matters that his character exists.  Oliver isn't a strong, intelligent character who lifts his head high but rather a meek man with a good heart and intentions.  While that portrayal of his character wouldn't fly in today's society, it was a step in the right direction for 1943.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Super Seven Calling Cairo (1965)

Original title: Superseven Chiama Cairo

Director: Umberto Lenzi

Writers: Umberto Lenzi, Piero Pierotti

Composer: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino

Starring: Roger Browne, Fabienne Dali, Massimo Serato, Andrea Aureli, Dina De Santis, Antonio Gradoli, Stella Monclar, Mino Doro, Franco Castellani, Claudio Biava

More info: IMDb

Plot: Super 7 looks for a piece of a new metal hidden in a camera.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

This is the first of two pictures Browne played as super spy Martin Stevens.  The other came the following year, THE SPY WHO LOVED FLOWERS (1966).  While SUPER SEVEN doesn't fare much better, it's got its moments.  The location shooting in Cairo, Switzerland and Italy are very nice and provide some lovely scenery.  The score is cheesy as in it often sounds like it belongs in a cartoon (no joke).  The acting is OK and the dialogue sometimes silly but it's the story that's rather lame.  It's another cat-and-mouse, always on the hunt/run type of spy film with nothing of substance.  It's nowhere near the quality of the Bond films of the 60s in any way.  This Bond wannabe has Browne in the title role looking like a Bond...

and trying to be like Bond.  The think is, though, he's no Bond.  There's even a silly joke in the picture where he's flirting with a hottie telling her he's a spy and his name is James Bond.  Ugh.  HA!  This is pure middle-of-the-road spy nonsense with about the only thing going for it is the sometime scenery.  Also, I was neither bored nor entertained much so I guess that could be a little something in the plus column.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When Worlds Collide (1951)

Director: Rudolph Mate

Writers: Sydney Boehm, Edwin Balmer, Philip Wylie

Composer: Leith Stevens

Starring: Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, Peter Hansen, John Hoyt, Larry Keating, Rachel Ames, Stephen Chase, Frank Cady, Hayden Rorke, Sandro Giglio, Kirk Alyn, Paul Frees, Stuart Whitman

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Romance! Thrills! Adventure!

Plot:  As a new star and planet hurtle toward a doomed Earth, a small group of survivalists frantically work to complete the rocket which will take them to their new home.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  I doubt it.


OK, I dug this picture but the science is sooooo bad that it's hard to ignore but I tried.  There are lot of familiar faces (and voices) and the rocket ship model is neat but this is a science fiction picture of the talky kind.  The plot is ridiculous but you have to set that aside to enjoy it.  Some of the characters do things I wouldn't have done in the same situation and there's a good deal of Christianity tossed into it (the film opens with a picture of the bible).  The ending is as ridiculous as the plot but, being made in the US in 1951, you have to expect things to work out.  But when the ship makes it to the other planet and we see nothing but mountains and snow in every direction, only to land and exit the ship to see plentiful green pastures is about stupid and there's no abouts about it.  It's not the classic I hoped for but I'm glad I finally saw it.  The Paramount DVD looks good.  The only extra is the theatrical trailer.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Chuka (1967)

Director: Gordon Douglas

Writer: Richard Jessup

Composer: Leith Stevens

Starring: Rod Taylor, Ernest Borgnine, John Mills, Luciana Paluzzi, James Whitmore, Victoria Vetri, Louis Hayward, Michael Cole, Hugh Reilly, Barry O'Hara, Joseph Sirola, Marco Lopez, Gerald York, Herlinda Del Carmen, Lucky Carson, Ford Rainey

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They called him saddle-bum...desert rat...pistolero...but where would they have been without Chuka on that bloody summer's day.

Plot: While Indians besiege a U.S. Army fort in 1876, residents of the fort a gunfighter, a stagecoach driver, two Mexican women, and a motley company of soldiers try to come to terms with their pasts.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

It seems like everyone at the fort is there because of something bad in the past.  That adds a little more depth to the story but it's also blandly handled.  Rod Taylor's a badass and his fist fight with Borgnine is fun.  Borgnine's in bastard sum bitch mode.  He excelled at that.  The picture is OK at best.  It's kind of a downer with little to get excited about or like except for some of the performances.  Mills plays the commanding officer and he's so damn bleak and brooding to the point that I don't care almost as much as he doesn't.  Once the Indians show up and fight (at night) at the end I'd all but given up.  Maybe that's what the filmmakers wanted. The Warner Bros. Archive Collection DVD presents the film with a nice anamorphic widescreen image and no extras.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Spanish Prisoner (1997)

Director: David Mamet

Writer: David Mamet

Composer: Carter Burwell

Starring: Campbell Scott, Steve Martin, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ben Gazzara, Ricky Jay, Felicity Huffman, Steven Goldstein, Jonathan Katz, Ed O'Neill, Clark Gregg, Keiko Seiko, Takeo Matsushita

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Can you really trust anyone?

Plot: An employee of a corporation with a lucrative secret process he developed is brilliantly conned out of it.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Great flick.  If Mamet has anything to do with a picture, I'm on board.  I love that guy's work.  It's even better when it's written and directed by the guy.  It's also one of Steve Martin's rare (at least at the time) non-comedic roles.  If you like the spy/intrigue/drama stuff then you might just dig this one.  It's a great story with some great tension.  Burwell's brooding score helps.  The film has too much going for it to let the 'well isn't that a little too convenient/this wraps up a bit too nicely' ending.  The ending is fine but it's a smidgen too neatly cleaned up.  I really like the various methods Jimmy (Martin) used to get the information he needed.  Don't read too much about this before seeing it as it might be spoiled for you.  The Columbia DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen with the sole extra in a fullscreen trailer. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Beyond the Sea (2004)

Director: Kevin Spacey

Writers: Kevin Spacey, Lewis Colick

Composer: ???

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, John Goodman, Bob Hoskins, Brenda Blethyn, Greta Scacchi, Caroline Aaron

More info: IMDb

Tagline: BOBBY DARIN . . . in the era of cool he was the soundtrack.

Plot: The biography of 1950s pop singer Bobby Darin and his wife, movie star Sandra Dee.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Kevin Spacey's just got it goin' on all over the place.  In this picture he directs, writes, stars, sings, dances and he probably was in charge or craft services or drove the trucks.  He's a performing tour de force.  It's got a lot of what you'd expect in any music biography but Spacey does play a little with the format so it's not stale like so many biopicks.  There's lots singing and dancing along with some conflict but you do get a sense that even at the worst of it, it's all going to be OK and that Bobby & Sandra loved each other despite the hiccups.  I'm not familiar with Darin's life but the end of the film has a title card that covers the bases on how this film took a lot of liberties.  The one thing that stood out as the best scene was at the end when Bobby is singing the last song, The Curtain Falls, to the film's nightclub audience and we get a montage of a few events that include his death, and the scene that indicates he's dead is brilliant.  The entire sequence is brilliant and beautifully handled.  Loved it.
The Lionsgate DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen and the extras are a 17 minute making of featurette that gives you some neat behind the scenes tidbits, a commentary track with Spacey and producer Andy Paterson and some non-anamorphic widescreen trailers for movies with no relation to this one (Madea?  Really?  If you liked BEYOND THE SEA, you'll love...?  Wow.)

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Squeeze (1977)

Director: Michael Apted

Writers: Leon Griffiths, James Tucker

Composer: David Hentschel

Starring: Stacy Keach, David Hemmings, Edward Fox, Stephen Boyd, Carol White, Freddie Starr, Hilary Gasson, Rod Beacham, Stewart Harwood, Alan Ford, Roy Marsden

More info: IMDb

Plot: A gang kidnaps a women and her daughter to extort money from her rich husband. He and her down on his luck ex-husband who's an ex cop, decide to try to deal with the kidnappers themselves.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?

Fans of Alan "Bricktop from SNATCH (2000)" Ford are going to love seeing him in his first theatrical film role.  It's a small roll but he's peppered throughout the film and he's got quite a few lines.  It's amazing what a difference of 27 years makes in a person's face.  Speaking of that, I didn't recognize Stephen Boyd (one of his last films before he died in '77).  The only thing I remember him was in BEN-HUR (1959).  The performances are strong and the story and pacing are good, too.  Keach's accent wavers all over the place from his normal American accent to Cockney or even imitating Carey Grant.  All we know is that he's been in London for a few years having once worked with Scotland Yard so he could be a US ex-pat and had assimilated the accent.  I'm getting way too deep into this but it was kind of odd hearing his accent change from one scene to another.  It didn't hurt the picture from where I'm sittin'.  It's a good movie and fans of Eurocrime should especially dig it right down to the groovy score that accompanied Eurocrime pictures.  There's a nice balance of time spent between Naboth (Keach) and the gang.  The violence and nudity are nicely spread out without an abundance (or lack of) either.  And the ending?  It's lives up to the word climax.  In the span of maybe 6 minutes the movie roars into action & tension until the credits roll.  Very nice!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A New Leaf (1971)

Director: Elaine May

Writers: Elaine May, Jack Ritchie

Composer: ???

Starring: Walter Matthau, Elaine May, Jack Weston, George Rose, James Coco. Doris Roberts, Renee Taylor, William Redfield, Graham Jarvis, Jess Osuna, David Doyle, Fred Stewart, Mark Gordon, Rose Arrick

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Romeo and Juliet, Bob and Bing, Ulysses and Grant, George and Martha, Martha and John, Bob and Carol, Ted and Alice, Bob and Alice, Ted and Carol, Bob and Ted, Carol and Alice, Pat and Dick, Julie and David, Byron and His Sister, Bill and Coo, Liz and Eddie, Liz and Mike, Liz and Dick, Dick and Sybil, Eddie and Debbie, Muck and Meyer, Hollywood and Vine, Anthony and Cleopatra, and now Henry & Henrietta... the love couple of the seventies... and the laugh riot of the year.

Plot: Henry Graham lives the life of a playboy. When his lawyer tells him one day that his lifestyle has consumed all his funds, he needs an idea to avoid climbing down the social ladder. So he intends to marry a rich woman and - murder her.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

It's funny because I read that May's (writer/director/star) final cut for the film came in at three hours.  That sounded way too long.  Hell, some people might think going past the 90 minute mark on a comedy is too much.  Now that I've seen it, I would prefer that it kept going.  I'd love to see the 3-hour cut which has a lot more subplot that was excised for the sake of keeping the time down.  Matthau and May are great together.  She's hilarious (they both are but she tickled the piss out of me...not literally.  That would've gotten messy).  There are some things that are left unsaid like the bet between Henry and his Uncle Harry that Henry wins.  It's safe to assume they kept each other's word.  It's not necessary to tie that up but I'm guessing the long cut had some extra funny related to that.  Henry doesn't spend much effort (by way of screen time) or get elaborate with his wanting to murder Henrietta.  That's only moderately utilized.  Normally you'd get a string of failed attempts the bring the funny so it was kind of nice that they didn't go that route.  The longer cut could've had more emphasis on that.  Beats me.  I'd even settle for reading the final script to find out how it played out.  The end just kind of happens which again, because it's unexpected and unusual for movies to end like this, is kind of nice.  The jokes are constant and there are lots of familiar, funny folks.  It's a delightful little film that's got me begging for the other 80 minutes the studio cut.  It's really remarkable how the 102 minute version I saw flies by.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Jesse Stone 8: Benefit of the Doubt (2012)

Director: Robert Harmon

Writers: Tom Selleck, Michael Brandman

Composer: Jeff Beal

Starring: Tom Selleck, Kathy Baker, Kohl Sudduth, Gloria Reuben, Stephen McHattie, William Sadler, Robert Carradine, Jeremy Akerman, Christine Tizzard, Saul Rubinek, William Devane

More info: IMDb

Plot: Jesse Stone comes out of involuntary retirement after the sheriff who replaced him exploded in their police car. The other officers Jesse worked with have left the department so he is forced to solve the crime on his own.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yeah.

More Saul Rubinek than usual and that's a good thing.  I really dug what Jesse (Selleck) realizes about Hasty (Rubinek) and the direction the story takes.   At least the ending doesn't take place at Jesse's house with him killing the bad guy there.  This one has one of the more satisfying endings of the series which makes me look forward to the next one more than the 7th film did.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Debt Collector (1999)

Director: Anthony Neilson

Writer: Anthony Neilson

Composer: Adrian Johnston

Starring: Billy Connolly, Ken Stott, Francesca Annis, Iain Robertson, Annette Crosbie, Alastair Galbraith, Shauna Macdonald, Sandy Neilson

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Some debts can never be paid

Plot: Mean, gritty, dirty and low and that's just the Policeman Gary Keltie (Stott) out for retribution for the horrendous crimes against the helpless people of Edinburgh during the nineteen seventies, by notorious, torturous, and killer, debt collector Nickie Dryden (Connolly). This is as hard as they come; giants of their professions one with a trade that needs to be kept secret and the other holding a grudge. Shot around the beautiful City of Edinburgh years later, with it coarse language and criminal underclass, we see the wrath of spite, hate, jealousy and violent vengeance all in the final showdown of justice and with it its uncompromising final debt to society.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

Good flick.  The first hour moves slowly and the story builds little by little but it's that last act when Nickie (Connolly) goes to his old mob boss for help that it really takes off until he and Gary (Stott) square it off in a nice and unexpected finish.  It's a grim story almost all the way.  The performances are very good and it's great seeing Connolly stretch his acting legs.  I'll watch that guy in anything. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

X312 - Flight to Hell (1971)

Original title: X312 - Flug zur Holle

Director: Jesus Franco

Writers: Artur Brauner, Jesus Franco

Composer: Wolf Hartmayer, Bruno Nicolai

Starring: Thomas Hunter, Gila von Weitershausen, Hans Hass Jr., Fernando Sancho, Esperanza Roy, Ewa Stromberg, Siegfried Schurenberg, Howard Vernon, Paul Muller

More info: IMDb

Plot: A plane leaving the turmoil of a South American country in the midst of a revolution crash-lands in the Amazon jungle in Brazil. Among the passengers are a corrupt banker who is smuggling diamonds out of the country, a reporter, a mysterious beauty and a shady flight attendant. The survivors find themselves up against not only the dangers of the jungle itself but a band of headhunters and a gang of revolutionaries who are looking for the smuggled diamonds.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

I've had this for so long that I forgot what interested me in it in the first place.  Maybe it's the jungle setting and it's a Jesus Franco picture which usually means gratuitous nudity.  not this time.  There's a little but what's there is very nice (he always had an eye for picking out exotically beautiful women).  Aside from one silly nude scene, Franco waits until the last twenty minutes to throw in an extended lesbian romp.  I'm not complaining.  Drinking game: take a drink every time there's a quick zoom in or out.  The last twenty minutes offer more in the way of action and fun than the previous hour but it's not worth sitting through just for that.  It's an usually different kind of film for Franco which has its own merit, I suppose, but without his usual abundance of T&A and eroticism plus a dull first hour, this one's OK to pass on. 

For what it's worth, Amazon had this DVD new for less than two bucks (with free shipping) a couple of months ago.  That price sounds about right for this.  The image looks great (anamorphic widescreen) and you only get the English dub.  There are a few moments that are in German with English subtitles and it sounds so much better in German that I'd rather have seen the whole thing that way. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Immortals (2011)

Director: Tarsem Singh

Writers: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides

Composer: Trevor Morris

Starring: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorr, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans, John Hurt, Joseph Morgan, Anne Day-Jones, Greg Byrk, Alan Van Sprang, Peter Stebbings, Daniel Sharman, Isabel Lucas, Kellan Lutz, Steve Byers, Stephen McHattie

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Gods Need a Hero

Plot:  Theseus is a mortal man chosen by Zeus to lead the fight against the ruthless King Hyperion, who is on a rampage across Greece to obtain a weapon that can destroy humanity.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

Good flick!  The production design is gorgeous.  The look of the armor, shields, locations, the style of the whole picture is remarkably detailed and neat as shit.  That alone adds a lot to the enjoyment of the film.  Really.  The acting is good as is the story.  One thing I got a kick out of was the many ways they tried to hide Mickey Rourke's protruding gut with shadows and camera angels.  I really enjoyed his performance (and his attire, helmets and face plates were just too cool) which leads me to the abundance of extreme and creative violence.  It's fantastic.  I've only seen Cavill in the Superman films and I'm not impressed but I really liked him in this one.  Now the only real complaint I can muster up is that I didn't feel any emotional connection with any of the characters I'm supposed to be invested in.  But then the visuals and overall storytelling are so spectacular that it doesn't matter nearly as much that I love the good guys.  I simply found myself wrapped up in what was going on and I was always looking forward to what was going to happen next.  Somehow this one escaped my radar when it hit theaters.  The Blu-ray isn't in 3D and it doesn't look like it's available that way which sucks. I'm looking forward to digging into the extras, that and seeing it again. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Cinderella 2000 (1977)

Director: Al Adamson

Writer: Budd Donnelly

Composer: Steve Zuckerman (AKA Sparky Sugarman)

Starring: Catharine Burgess, Jay B. Larson, Vaughn Armstrong, Erwin Fuller, Renee Harmon, Bhumi Cowans, Adina Ross, Eddie Garetti, Olivia Michelle, Art Cacaro, Sherri Coyle

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Tomorrow's Sexiest Comedy..... Today!

Plot: In the year 2047, sex is forbidden and Big Brother uses robots to keep on eye on everyone. One young girl tries to outwit the government so she can be with the man she loves.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

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

Gratuitous nudity for the win!

This boils down to the good and the bad.  The good?  You just saw most of it.  Naw, seriously, there are a few funny gags (I laughed out loud a couple of times) and the cast is certainly having fun and giving it a good try.  The bad?  It's about an hour and forty-five minutes long which is a little too much.  It's not half bad, really.  It's got some decent musical numbers; my favorite being the evil stepsisters...

...who end up fighting on the floor...topless!  You can see by the set design that they didn't put much money into it but they did try.  I'm sure every nickel spent is on the screen.  There are lots of tits but no dick (sorry, pecker enthusiasts, but they tried very hard to keep from showing any wang).  It's a shame they didn't make it hardcore.  You can edit out the offending bits to soften it up for where ever you want to show it.  Normally Al Adamson's movies bore the piss out of me but this one was able to hold my attention and I did enjoy it a little despite the long run time.  The boobs helped A LOT.  Thanks, Al!

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984)

Director: Wes Craven

Writer: Wes Craven

Composer: Harry Manfredini

Starring: Robert Houston, David Nichols, Tamara Stafford, Kevin Spirtas, John Laughlin, Willard E. Pugh, Peter Frechette, Colleen Riley, Penny Johnson Jerald, Janus Blythe, Edith Fellows, Arden Roger Meyer, Michael Berryman, John Bloom, Nicholas Worth

More info: IMDb

Tagline: So you think you're lucky to be alive...

Plot: A group of bikers, heading to a race, become stranded in the desert and find themselves fighting off a family of inbred cannibals who live off the land.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

This had to be a paycheck film for Craven.  You expect more from this guy, ya know?  The flick is made by pros.  The acting's OK and it looks good.  The music works, there's a little bit of nudity and some gore but it's just plain borderline boring and uninspiring.  Cass, the blind girl, took having blind super powers (hearing, smelling) to a whole new level that got utterly ridiculous by the finale.  This is just another average teen horror/slasher movie from the 80s.  And it came right at a time that the height of the slasher genre had been gone for a couple of years and at a time that it was seeing a rebirth of sorts with another Craven creation, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984).  Craven must've written this one in record time. The '77 film was fun.  I can only fault the guy so far.  I'm sure the studio backed the Brinks truck up to his house and shoveled money onto his front lawn to do this.  He probably didn't want to and this is the result.  As this was written and directed by Craven, the expectations were a lot higher than if it were made by a no name.  I can see why this picture gets a bad rep but it's not a horrible movie, just a piece of mediocre horror that just about anyone could've done back then...and did.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Final Exam (1981)

Director: Jimmy Huston

Writer: Jimmy Huston

Composer: Gary S. Scott

Starring: Cecile Bagdadi, Joel S. Rice, Ralph Brown, DeAnna Robbins, Sherry Willis-Burch, John Fallon, Terry W. Farren, Timothy L. Raynor, Sam Kilman, Don Hepner, Mary Ellen Withers, Elijah Christopher Perry

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Some pass the test...God Help The Rest!!!

Plot: A psycho killer shows up on college campus to slash up pretty co-eds and dumb jocks.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

For an early 80s slasher movie, you can do much better.  It's not boring (good thing) but the kills are light (no gore and WAY too far apart) and you have to wait over an hour for the few seconds of nudity (it was nice but it's too little, too late).  These are staples of the genre.  The story is average so what you need to help that is to boos the fun factor with gore, creative kills, T&A and some sense of fun.  Now, Huston directed the film quite well.  What's lacking is everything else story-wise.  There are a lot of characters and Huston juggles them well.  There's no confusion about who any of them are and the actors do a good job.  The picture opens with a double murder (only one onscreen) and then it's almost an hour before the next one.  WTF?  I know, right?  The school attack early on is the best thing about the movie.  That was really neat but the real meat of the horror (kills) is in the last half hour and a lot of the kills are offscreen.  Yeah.  Some of them are justified (like when someone happens upon a body and it scares them) but, with everything else, that ends up being something you put in the con column.  The thing is, after all that you have to sit through, you feel like you deserved better.  It's a professional-looking production.  The director went on to write RUNNING SCARED (1986) (I LOVE THAT MOVIE) and the cinematographer and editor did some things (nothing of real note that I could see).  The problem really is in the script. This minor looks great but there's not much meat in it and not much of an attempt at scares.  The only one that comes close is probably the cliche of the killer won't die when there's no way he could've survived what happened to him.  It's OK but I can't see anyone wanting to watch this more than once.  I almost always get excited when I come across an early 80s horror flick, hoping I'll find a hidden gem that's alluded me for more than thirty years.  At least there's some fun in the anticipation of discovery.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

King Kong Escapes (1967)

Original title: Kingu Kongu no Gyakushu

Director: Ishiro Honda

Writer: Takeshi Kimura

Composer: Akira Ifukube

Starring: Rhodes Reason, Mie Hama, Linda Miller, Akira Takarada, Hideyo Amamoto, Ryuji Kita, Ikio Sawamura, Haruo Nakajima, Yu Sekita, David de Keyser, Paul Frees, Julie Bennett

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Two King Kongs Fight to the Death!

Plot: King Kong is brought in by an evil ruler to dig for precious gems in a mine when the robot Mecha Kong is unable to do the task. This leads to the machine and the real Kong engaging in a tremendous battle that threatens to level Japan.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yeah.

This is a Japanese/American co-production.  On the Japanese side, it's from Toho Studios that kicked off the Godzilla franchise (including the same director & composer among others).  On the American side,  you've got Rankin/Bass, the kids that gave us those great stop motion animated Christmas specials in the 60s & 70s like RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (1964).  That's some talent right there.  This is exactly what you think it is if you've seen any of the man-in-suit Toho stuff.  What makes it different is that it's pretty fun and cheesy.  What's more is you get A LOT of Kong action.  Usually these pictures are heavy on the human drama crap and light on the giant monster stuff.  Not this one.  He's the star of the show and he kicks some ass.  The only downside to the movie is that it does slow down around the two thirds mark and it stays that way for probably fifteen minutes but it's a long way off from being a deal-killer.  The models are great.  I really dig the hovercar.  Neat-O!

The special effects are cheesy but they're fun as hell.  I love this kind of stuff.  This picture also does something different than others of its kind and that's giving us vastly different locations.  You get some jungle action (the best parts of the movie), Arctic snow and ice action and finally the big fight between Kong and Robot Kong in the big city.  It's a gas and it's one of those movies you should watch with a group for maximum enjoyment. I've seen a few of the Godzilla pictures and most of them have lots of dull spots with comparably little man-in-suit goodness.  This is one of the better ones.