Sunday, August 20, 2017

Prom Night (1980)

Director: Paul Lynch

Writers: William Gray, Robert Guza Jr.

Composers: Paul Zaza, Carl Zittrer

Starring: Leslie Nielsen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Casey Stevens, Anne-Marie Martin, Antoinette Bower, Michael Tough, Robert A. Silverman, Pita Oliver, David Mucci, Jeff Wincott, Mary Beth Rubens, George Touiatos

More info: IMDb

Tagline: There's a special night in the lives of all of us. A night to be beautiful. To be desirable. A night we can break all the rules and make our own. Prom night.

Plot: At a high school senior prom, a masked killer stalks four teenagers who were responsible for the accidental death of a classmate six years previously.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

Is it just me or do you find it hard to take seriously any R-rated 80s slasher movie that doesn't have  any nudity (especially when there's the tease of some in a high school locker room post-shower), the kills are weak AND they don't start until an hour into the picture?  I'm not saying that boobs are crucial but for fuck's sake, this is rated R and the only reason I can think of for that is that there's some 'fucks' here and there.  With a slasher from 1980 starring Jamie Lee Curtis, I expected more.  The movie's OK and that's about it.  It's what's not in it that's more important than what is.  There are parts in the first hour that work great but there are a lot of slow spots that end up leading up to nothing much to see here.  The Echo Bridge DVD has a good looking anamorphic widescreen print but no extras.  WTF?  I just saw that this spawned three sequels?  Are they worth watching?

Swamp Water (1941)

Director: Jean Renoir

Writers: Vereen Bell, Dudley Nichols

Composer: David Buttolph

Starring: Walter Brennan, Walter Huston, Anne Baxter, Dana Andrews, Virginia Gilmore, John Carradine, Mary Howard, Eugene Pallette, Ward Bond, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Russell Simpson, Joe Sawyer, Paul E. Burns, Dave Morris, Frank Austin, Matt Williams

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  The Swamp!  Sinister - mysterious - it shaped the lives and loves and hates of the people who lived around its edges!!

Plot: A hunter happens upon a fugitive and his daughter living in a Georgia swamp. He falls in love with the girl and persuades the fugitive to return to town.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

There are moments in this film that transcend its B-movie status and it's in the shots and camera movement.  So it's no surprise that it was made by a European filmmaker.  Then there's the excellent cast, many of whom were about to break into stardom or had just started.  They all do a fine job.  I dug the story but I was worried that it wouldn't work out but it did.  There are a few scenes that were filmed in the Okefenokee Swamp in Southern Georgia and enough can't be said how those moments help make the film.  Though it's obvious that a lot of the picture was filmed in a studio, the sets are well constructed and blend as well as you could probably hope for under the circumstances.  For some reason I wasn't bothered by some of the inaccurate Southern accents.  That could be because the film was engaging and entertaining.  It's well worth a look.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Under Siege (1992)

Director: Andrew Davis

Writer: J.F. Lawton

Composer: Gary Chang

Starring: Steven Seagal, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Busey, Erika Eleniak, Andy Romano, Colm Meaney, Damian Chapa, David McKnight, J.F. Lawton, Lee Hinton, Patrick O'Neal, Troy Evans, Bernie Casey, Dale Dye

More info: IMDb

Tagline: It's not a job...It's an Adventure!

Plot: A Navy cook is the only person who can stop a group of terrorists when they seize control of a U.S. battleship.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

I first saw this in the theater and I didn't go because of Steven Seagal.  I think I'd only seen one or two of his pictures at that point and I wasn't all that impressed but I was a big fan already of Tommy Lee Jones.  I really dig Seagal in this flick.  He's fun and does well with the action.  It probably worked to his benefit to be confined to a battleship.  Jones is a blast and really sold the aging rocker bit, looking every bit the part.  There's a good deal of fight action and even a little bit of nudity (man, that Erika Eleniak is smokin' in this picture!)  The Warner Bros. DVD set of 4 Film Favorites Steven Seagal Collection presents this film and its only extra, the theatrical trailer, in anamorphic widescreen.

Woman Who Came Back (1945)

Director: Walter Colmes

Writers: Dennis J. Cooper, John H. Kafka, Lee Williams

Composer: Edward H. Plumb

Starring: John Loder, Nancy Kelly, Otto Kruger, Ruth Ford, Harry Tyler, Jeanne Gail, Almira Sessions, J. Farrell MacDonald, Emmett Vogan

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Hate-filled eyes...Accusing fingers...Whispered words...All repeated this dread phrase..."LORNA WEBSTER IS A WITCH!"

Plot: After a bus accident, a woman comes to believe that she's actually a 300-year-old witch.

My rating:  6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.


I've now seen three Nancy Kelly movies and this is the second one where she's paranoid as hell (the other being the wonderful, THE BAD SEED (1956).  She plays that well but when that's mostly what you see, it starts to wear thin by the finish line.  Now with the film, it's pretty good at stringing Lorna (Kelly), everyone around her, and us into thinking that she really is the embodiment of the witch that was burned at the stake (with her dog) 300 years earlier.  I dug the little things that happened to support that belief like her feeding a little girl's fish with rat poison knowing full well she gave them fish food.  It's morbid stuff like that that help sell me the goods.  Then in the final few minutes, her fiance and the old coot/town historian just happened to find hidden in an old desk, a 300 year old letter written by the man who sentenced the witch to death saying he coerced the simple woman to sign a confession just to satisfy the town's bloodlust.  The chase is on to keep Lorna from losing her shit completely and kill herself by jumping off a cliff and into the water below.  Her fiance, Dr. Matt Adams (Loder) dives in and saves her.  The final salt in the wound is a cheerful as hell, we-want-everyone-to-feel-happy-and-cheerful closing scene like you'd get at the end of a bad TV sitcom.  The picture was ruined for me from the moment the letter was discovered.  Everyone did such a fine job up until then.  It's a shame they ruined it with such a silly and insulting ending.  It would have been a little unusual in 1945 (especially in December, months after the close of the War) to end this on a dark note but that's how I feel about it.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Writer: Robert Rodriguez

Composer: Robert Rodriguez

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke, Eva Mendes, Danny Trejo, Enrique Iglesias, Marco Leonardi, Cheech Marin, Ruben Blades, Willem Dafoe, Gerardo Vigil, Pedro Armendariz Jr.

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Time Has Come.

Plot: Hitman "El Mariachi" becomes involved in international espionage involving a psychotic CIA agent and a corrupt Mexican general.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

For anyone who didn't see EL MARIACHI (1992) or DESPERADO (1995), OUaTiM starts out with a little introduction to bring you up to speed on who El Mariachi is even though there's little to do with the first two films.  It doesn't matter anyway because the story is told by Cheech Marin to Johnny Depp and it's great.  What follows is an action thrill ride with lots of laughs and adventure.  This might be my favorite of the three because of the cast alone.  Hell, I'd recommend seeing it just to see Mickey Rourke walk around with a chihuahua in his arms.

The Columbia DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen.  The extras you get are six featurettes, a commentary track with Rodriguez, another one about the music and sound design, eight deleted scenes with optional director commentary and eleven trailers (including the one for this picture).

The Rebel (1961)

AKA: Call Me Genius

Director: Robert Day

Writers: Ray Galton, Tony Hancock, Alan Simpson

Composer: Frank Cordell

Starring: Tony Hancock, George Sanders, Paul Massie, Margit Saad, Gregoire Aslan, Dennis Price, Irene Handl, John Le Mesurier, Liz Fraser, Mervyn Johns, Peter Bull, Nanette Newman

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Watch Out Picasso... Here Comes Tony Hancock!

Plot: Anthony Hancock gives up his office job to become an abstract artist. He has a lot of enthusiasm, but little talent, and critics scorn his work. Nevertheless, he impresses an emerging very talented artist.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

Tony Hancock makes this amusing picture work.  The last ten minutes are hilarious and I really dug the turns it took.  It's a cute film with a few good laughs but it really is Hancock that sells it with everything he's got.  The bit where he's posing for magazine cover photos was hilarious.  I can't believe that I didn't notice Oliver Reed as a French artist in a heated discussion at the cafe.  Going back after the movie it was obvious but he had facial hair and a French accent.  It's kind of nice seeing George Sanders playing someone other than a cad, kind of because I really enjoy seeing him play a witty bastard.  What a great voice that cat had.  When I first saw Hancock I instantly thought of how striking his resemblance was to Alfred Molina only to find out that Molina played Hancock in a TV biopic.  The cast does a fine job and I was surprised to see that Paul Massie did very little film work.  He was good.  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Cemetery (2013)

Director: Adam Ahlbrandt

Writer: Adam Ahlbrandt

Composer: Cleric

Starring: J.D. Brown, Natalie Jean, Adam Huss, Tim Cronin, Tabetha Ray, Halfbreed Billy Gram, Roberto Lombardi, Ruby Larocca, Victor Bonacore

More info: IMDb

Plot: Deep in the Pennsylvania hills, a cemetery for those who died during exorcism remains a dark secret for the church. In 1671, hundreds of men, women, and children suffered in bloody, torturous rituals at the hands of priests unable to contain the evil of the possessed. Were these possessions real, or is the story a hoax to cover up the sins of the deranged priests thirsty for human blood? Bill and his team of cynical paranormal investigators plan to find out the truth…..will they leave the cemetery alive?

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

When it comes to horror movies set in the woods, I'm there no matter how bad it looks.  I love camping so there you go.  Maybe that explains it.  I look at low budget pictures like this a little differently.  Sometimes it's more about what you do with so little.  If the acting is better than average, I'm impressed.  The same goes for a lot of things.  I can't stand low budget pictures where the camera doesn't move and you don't get any variety of shots.  This one has the camera movie frequently and with a variety of angles.  The actors do a decent enough job and when you combine that with a good location (it's almost entirely filmed in the woods) and an often effective score, it's actually pretty good.  The story works well enough but this is really just an excuse to kill some fuckers in the woods and there are some good kills and gore.  And there's some great nudity.  The Massacre Video 2-disc DVD set features the movie in anamorphic widescreen.  The second disc has most of the extras (the commentary track is with the movie).  You get a two hour and twenty minute making of documentary, a short film called 'M is for Memoirs', a teaser for THE SADIST and four trailers, one of which is for this flick.

The Sword of El Cid (1962)

Original title: La Spada del Cid

Director: Migeul Iglesias

Writers: Ferdinando Baldi, Antonio Navarro Linares, Alfredo Giannetti

Composer: Carlo Savina

Starring: Chantel Deberg, Roland Carey, Sandro Moretti, Daniela Bianchi, Andrea Fantasia, Jose Luis Pellicena, Andres Mejuto, Luis Induni, Fernando Cebrian, Daniel Martin, Felix de Pomes, Frank Oliveras, Eliana Grimaldi

More info: IMDb

Plot: Bernardo (Carey) must take back what is rightfully his, the kingdom that belonged to his long dead father.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nah.

This Italian/Spanish co-production sure does have a lot of action.  It's also got great costumes, sets, locations, castles (goody gumdrops for real castles) and music.  The English dub is well done, too.  Despite all of this, it does drag every once in a while and it probably overstays its welcome.  I think I would have enjoyed this more if I saw it in a theater with some Coke & corn.  There is small romance between our hero, Bernardo, and some woman who's name I've forgotten, but it stays small in the guise of the film.  There's a lot of swordplay, as you would expect from the title, and it's pretty good but you do see some clunky moves from time to time.  This picture looks like it had a good sized budget (for an Italian B-picture) and it is an admiral attempt to piggyback on the previous year's Hollywood spectacle, EL CID (1961).  I like giving these vintage European epics a chance.  I'm not looking for historical accuracy.  I'm just looking to be entertained and this one did a good job of it.  Recommended.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

Director: John Ford

Writers: John Lee Mahin, Martin Rackin, Harold Sinclair

Composer: David Buttolph

Starring: John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers, Judson Pratt, Hoot Gibson, Ken Curtis, Willis Bouchey, Bing Russell, O.Z. Whitehead, Hank Worden, Chuck Hayward, Denver Pyle, Strother Martin

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  ...Rides Where Only The Great Ones Go!

Plot: A Union Cavalry outfit is sent behind Confederate lines in strength to destroy a rail/supply center. Along with them is sent a doctor who causes instant antipathy between him and the commander. The secret plan for the mission is overheard by a southern belle who must be taken along to assure her silence. The Union officers each have different reasons for wanting to be on the mission.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

I don't me weird but I'd like more Civil War action and less of the romance stuff in this picture.  I liked it.  Hell, I'd probably even love it if I got to see it on the big screen with big ole box of corn and a tall glass of Coke.  While I'm in my fantasy I'll go ahead and add hot wings and fried shrimp to that list.  The older I get the more I like John Wayne.  He's not far off from being a one note performer but he does it so well it's hard not to respect him for it.  Holden cast as he usually was but I like the guy a lot.  I doubt I'll see him as badass as he was in THE WILD BUNCH (1969) but I won't stop going through his catalog to find out.  The pair play well off each other and I can identify with each and understand their reasoning.  Ford was a great director and this is easily suited to his talents.  It's a good picture but it falls shy of being a great one.  The lovey dovey stuff throws a monkey wrench into the works but it's still a fun ride nonetheless.  The MGM Blu-ray looks magnificent.

The Mines of Kilimanjaro (1986)

Original title: Le Miniere del Kilimangiaro

Director: Mino Guerrini

Writer: Mino Guerrini

Composer: Luigi Ceccarelli

Starring: Tobias Hoesl, Elena Pompei, Christopher Connelly, Matteo Corsini, Francesca Ferre, Josette Martial, Gordon Mitchell, Franco Diogene, Peter Berling, Tino Castaldi, Al Cliver

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A Fortune in Diamonds in the Hands of the World's Most Evil Empire!

Plot: An American college student in 1930s Africa searches for a lost diamond mine near Mt. Kilimanjaro. He must battle Nazis who are using the mine to finance their war plans, Chinese gangsters and murderous local tribesmen.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again?  Noooooooo.

I'm keeping this brief.  It's bad.  The dubbing is careless and some of the actors sound bored.  The synthesizer score is bland and uninspired.  I'd go lower on the score but it's not in incompetent mess.  This Italian knockoff of an Indiana Jones knockoff just doesn't do it for me at all.  The more I think about it, the more the awful music hurts the film.  It also doesn't help that I watched a crap VHS copy, either.  RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) is my favorite movie so I'm more likely to watch an adventure film like this for that reason alone.  And being a fan of Gordon Mitchell's Sword & Sandal pictures from the 1960s.  He plays a smaller role in this one but he does play a Nazi with a big mustache (in case your bag is tall, older Nazis with big mustaches).  Skip this one altogether.  I wish I had and I was only passively watching it while I worked in my office.  Ugh. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Another 48 Hrs. (1990)

Director: Walter Hill

Writers: John Fasano, Jeb Stuart, Larry Gross

Composer: James Horner

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte, Brion James, Kevin Tighe, Ed O'Ross, David Anthony Marshall, Andrew Divoff, Bernie Casey, Brent Jennings, Ted Markland, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Kitten Natividad, Frank McRae

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Here they go again. Only faster. And tougher.

Plot: Jack Cates once again enlists the aid of ex-con Reggie Hammond--this time, to take down The Iceman, a ruthless drug lord operating in the San Francisco bay area.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

James Horner...ahhh, a few minutes in and there's a riff he used extensively in COMMANDO (1985) and this isn't the only picture he re-used it in.  Oh, yeah, the movie.  48 Hrs. (1982) is a great action comedy.   I really dug that picture.  This sequel is literally an excuse to make some money without any concern for the first film.  The title couldn't be more telling.  It really is another version of the first film, hitting as many memorable beats as possible from the first film.  The problem is that there's nothing new here.  They didn't continue the story so much as rehash the old one.  Murphy and Nolte are hitting the right beats but the picture feels like few people cared enough to deliver anything beyond a technically adequate movie.  It's disappointing to say the least but it does have a good cast with a lot of great character actors whose faces you'll probably recognize.  There's some great talent here but they're wasted on a story that feels like a bad cover tune. The Paramount DVD has no extras but the theatrical trailer and it along with the film are presented in non-anamorphic widescreen. 

Death Is Sweet from the Soldier of God (1972)

Original title: Semino Morte...lo Chiamavano il Castigo di Dio!

Director: Roberto Mauri

Writers: Roberto Mauri, Roberto Bianchi Montero

Composer: Vasili Kojucharov

Starring: Brad Harris, Jose Torres, Maretta Procaccini, Roberto Messina, Zara Cilli, Franco Pasquetto, Matilde Antonelli, Mariella Palmich, Gino Turini, Irio Fantini, Ivo Scherpiani, Emilio Messina, Pietro Fumelli, Vassili Karis

More info: IMDb

Plot:  Respectable lawman Django is wrongly accused for stealing the town's money.  He escapes from jail to find the real thieves who are perfectly OK with him taking the blame.  He's out for revenge to clear his name and bring in the bad guys.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Eh, it's OK but it leans to the slow, boring side of the Spaghetti Western spectrum.  Kojucharov provides a pretty good theme but it's used too much and there's very little variation.  It is a good theme, though, so that makes it better than a lot of these pictures.  But then you've got a film full of simple camera movement and editing.  It lacks any punch or excitement.  The characters are OK I guess and the dubbing is serviceable.  I didn't find much to like about this picture except for the music.  At its best, this genre offers excitement, great locations, violence, great heroes band better villains.  This picture is watchable if uninspired. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

City for Conquest (1940)

Director: Anatole Litvak

Writers: John Wexley, Aben Kandel

Composer: Max Steiner

Starring: James Cagney, Ann Sheridan, Frank Craven, Donald Crisp, Frank McHugh, Arthur Kennedy, George Tobias, Jerome Cowan, Elia Kazan, Anthony Quinn, Lee Patrick, Kit Guard

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A story with all the fire and fury of its two great stars!

Plot: Danny is a content truck driver, but his girl Peggy shows potential as a dancer and hopes he too can show ambition. Danny acquiesces and pursues boxing to please her, but the two begin to spend more time working than time together.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Cagney is a delight to watch.  I've yet to see him in anything where he didn't steal about every scene he's in.  This picture is a great showcase for his talents.  He gets to dance a little but here he's a boxer so that kind of activity is kept to a minimum.  He's nails the comedy and brings the drama and heavy where it counts.  The cast is great, too.  There's so much to like with this picture.  Anthony Quinn and Ann Sheridan dance beautifully together.  You should watch this just for Cagney and Quinn's first meeting at the dance.  It's a verbal sparring match and they're both so good at with some great dialogue that it's hard to decide who wins.  But that look Cagney gives him is priceless.  The picture is fast paced and there's a lot of ground covered.  It's pretty tight.  Oh, there's a scene where Cagney introduces an ex-boxer to his future manager and the once big time fighter had one fight too many.  His brain has gone soft and he's now a simple, happy man.  It's heartbreaking just thinking about that scene but it's done with such care and class.  The ending had me all choked up.  Cagney sells it like no one else.  This flick is given the respect it deserves on DVD.  The Warner Bros. disc is loaded with extras.  There's a commentary track with Richard Schickel, a featurette called Molls and Dolls: The Women of Gangster Films (20 minutes) which is curious as this isn't a gangster picture although this movie is mentioned in the short, a great gag reel from WB from 1940 (12 minutes), the Lux Radio Theater Broadcast of this story, the theatrical trailer and the always welcome Warner Night at the Movies which includes THE FIGHTING 69th trailer, a newsreel, a 20 minute short called Service with the Colors (in color) and a 7 minute cartoon, Stage Fright. 

Albert Fish: In Sin He Found Salvation (2007)

Director: John Borowski

Writer: John Borowski

Composer: Corey Allen Jackson

Starring: Oto Brezina, Joe Coleman, Bob Dunsworth, Harvey Fisher, Derek Gaspar, Nathan Hall, Cooney Horvath, Tony Jay, Katherine Ramsland, Donna Rawlins, Garrett Shriver, Kasey Skinner, Ronni Trankel

More info: IMDb

Tagline: In Sin He Found Salvation

Plot: Albert Fish, the horrific true story of elderly cannibal, sadomasochist, and serial killer, who lured children to their deaths in Depression-era New York City in the first decades of the 20th Century. Distorting biblical tales, Albert Fish takes the themes of pain, torture, atonement and suffering literally as he preys on victims to torture and sacrifice.

My rating:  6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Probably not.

This is the director's second film, his first being H.H. HOLMES: AMERICA'S FIRST SERIAL KILLER (2004).  I loved that film until I read Harold Schechter's outstanding book on the subject (Depraved: The Definitive True Story of H.H. Holmes).  After that I re-visited the documentary and discovered its flaws.  There was lots of padding and the narrative missed out on some of the more interesting and exciting true accounts.  I'm not sure why that happened but I got the sense that this is also the case with this documentary.  If you know nothing about Albert Fish then this is a great start.  I'd like to get the lesser parts of the film before I get to the reasons why you should see it.  At about an hour and a half, it's too long for what's included.  For example, after the setup at the beginning which ends at the title card, there's literally 75 seconds of nothing but vintage 1920s NYC street scenes of cars and people bustling about in the big city.  There's music and sound effects but no narration or anything that is furthering the narrative. Then a poorly voiced newsreel/radio announcer tells us of the Lindberg kidnapping.  The voice sounds like the kind of thing me and my friends burst into as a joke.  This device is used a small handful of times and it's disappointing at best. 


The narrator, Tony Jay, is fantastic.  Another outstanding voice is that of Harvey Fisher as Fish.  They're very, very good.  Many parts of the film work very well and follow along a path that tells the story and paints some very gruesome pictures about this man.  When it works, it's fantastic.  When it doesn't, it's more disappointing than bad because this could've been so much better.  There are only two talking heads that are interviewed (three if you count the professor at the very end who only talks about the logistics of electrocution with metal pins in the body).  Katherine Ramsland who shows to know a good deal about Fish and Joe Coleman who's only reason for being in the film is that he has the original letter Fish wrote to the mother of a victim.  He has very little to say about Fish regarding facts (which could be spoken by anyone) and he spends too much time talking about himself or speculating.  He also likes himself a great deal.  Don't we all?  I enjoyed the score very much and that's one of the best parts of the film along with the narrators telling the story and hearing it from the letters and text written by the man of the hour (and a half).  Try not to read any of the reviews that shit on this because there is a lot to like.  Hearing Fisher (as Fish) recite what Fish told the victims' parents what he did to their child in the way he tortured them and, with some, cut them up, cooked and ate them, is fucked up and compelling as hell.  The only other thing I need to add is the film breaks two thirds in to talk about (and add further speculation) his religious beliefs and how Jesus and God plays into his psyche and general fucked-up-ness.  Too much time is spent on it which slows the film down.  It also hurts the flow of the storytelling in that it jumps around in time frequently which forces itself to get back on track and close the picture out.  It seemed that Borowski could've found a way to sprinkle that in so that we could have a recurring theme without leaving the narrative timeline. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Harry in Your Pocket (1973)

Director: Bruce Geller

Writers: James D. Buchanan, Ronald Austin

Composer: Lalo Schifrin

Starring: James Coburn, Michael Sarrazin, Trish Van Devere, Walter Pidgeon, Michael C. Gwynne, Tony Giorgio, Michael Stearns, Susan Mullen

More info: IMDb

Tagline: If you only have eyes for her... If you just bumped into a stranger... If suddenly you develop sex appeal... You've got... "Harry In Your Pocket!"

Plot: A would-be criminal is taken in by a professional in the game, who teaches him how pickpockets work in teams.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Even though I kinda dug the film, I don't think there was anything anyone but a script doctor could've done to make it better.  It's the only film Geller directed and I think he did a great job.  Schifrin's score works nicely and the cast is great.  Pidgeon was a great choice.  I loves me some Coburn but his character, Harry, isn't allowed to have much pleasing charm.  Oh, he lays it on sometimes but he's also too much of a hardass to allow much of it to come through.  He's almost all business so that wonderful charisma Coburn has in spades gets sidelined for most of the picture.  The story, I think, is where there was room for improvement.  It's good but it could've used a boost of something that would've made the film more interesting and engaging.  It could've been the casting of Sarrazin.  Perhaps getting someone more easily likable would've helped.  I like the guy and all but I didn't really care what happened to him one way or the other which could've been what they were going for.  For fans of any of these cats this is one of those pictures you're just going to want to see.  It's not a bad way to spend and hour and forty minutes but it's not as satisfying as I hoped it would be.

Flying High (1978)

Director: Peter Hunt

Writers: Dawn Aldredge, Martin Cohan

Composer: Jonathan Tunick

Starring: Kathryn Witt, Connie Sellecca, Pat Klous, Howard Platt, Barbara Allyne Bennet, Casey Biggs, Val Bisoglio, Lilyan Chauvin, Brion James, Marcia Wallace

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Love is in the air.

Plot: Three attractive young women Marcy Bower, Pam Bellagio, Lisa Benton succeed in qualifying for airline stewardess training at Sun West Airlines and then start getting a taste of the rigors and fun of the real thing as rookie stewardesses.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I have no idea why I have this and less of one why I committed myself to watching it.  It's an OK pilot to a TV show (for CBS) that probably wanted to capitalize on the success of CHARLIE'S ANGELS (1976) which was on ABC.  The 70s birthed a slew of exploitation stewardess/nurse pictures so a show like this doesn't seem so far-fetched. As far as a 70s show goes, it's par for the course.  It's harmless and disposable, just like most TV was and is.  It wastes time without offering anything of substance.  It kills an hour and a half of peoples' miserable lives and I guess for that reason alone it probably has some value.  You're better off skipping this and watch BLAZING STEWARDESSES (1975).  That's at least got nudity.  Hell, maybe I should watch that.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Honky Tonk Nights (1978)

Director: Charles Webb

Writers: Arthur Chance, Charles Webb

Composer: Allyn Rosenberg

Starring: Carol Doda, Jack Elliott, Georgina Spelvin, The Hotlikcs, Serena, Dan Carter, Jim Haynie, Brmuda Schwartz, Chris Cassidy, De Wood, Mike Smith, Amanda Blake, Naomi Eisenberg, Maryann Price

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They Thought They Were Hard Men ... But She Became Too Hot to Handle

Plot: Former stripper turned aspiring country singer Bette Barnette gets a gig performing at a seedy tavern run by the no-nonsense Georgia. However, poor Bette can't get the rowdy male patrons to take her seriously as a singer. Meanwhile, evil local businessman Sam Diamond plots to get his greedy hands on Georgia's place, feisty and ambitious younger singer Dolly Pop doesn't take it lightly that Bette has taken her job, and Bette's sister Doris Ann has problems of her own with her wannabe daredevil boyfriend Danny.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

So I knew nothing about this except for the poster and IMDb said this was an action/comedy/drama.  They got the drama right.  Now I figured this was the 70s so I could be in for some outrageous fun. was kind of fun.  I don't know how someone could consider this a comedy or an action flick.  It's not funny (nor is it trying to be) and there's some bar fight and another fist fight so that's weak to say it's an action movie.  But there are two things this movie is loaded with and that honky tonk style country and western music (and some of the tunes are good, too) and...

YOWZA!  The nudity in this picture is top drawer!  After the movie I started reading up about the cast and director and it suddenly made sense.  A lot of these folks (including director/writer Webb) worked in porn.  The only name I recognize is Georgina Spelvin.  But here's the kicker, everyone involved with this picture were earnest and made a good, mainstream movie...with a little bit leaning to the exploitation side of the drive-in movie crowd.  The nudity is sprinkled about but it doesn't feel all that gratuitous.  Where the boobs are on display there's a logical story-driven reason why.  It works.  I was pulled into this under false pretenses but I ended up enjoying it.  I don't listen to C&W music and you don't have to to enjoy this. 

The poster says Doda was the 1979 winner of the Dolly Parton look alike contest.  I believe it.

And here she is from her glory days as a stripper at the Condor in the 60s...

Target for Killing (1966)

Original title: Das Geheimnis der Gelben Monche

Director: Manfred R. Kohler

Writer: Anatol Bratt

Composer: Marcello Giombini

Starring: Stewart Granger, Karin Dor, Rubert Davies, Curd Jurgens, Adolfo Celi, Scilla Gabel, Klaus Kinski, Molly Peters, erika Remberg, Luis Induni, Jose Marco Rosello, Demeter Bitenc, Allen Pinson, Slobodan Dimitrijevic, Wilbert Gurley, John Bartha, Andrea Fior

More info: IMDb

Plot: A secret agent battles a secret brainwashing organisation.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

This Eurospy flick hit at the height of the genre and it's got some Bond villains to boot.  Adolfo Celi was in THUNDERBALL (1965) and Jurgens (who plays the master villain in this picture) got he moment in the Bond sun in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977).  Stewart Granger pours on the charm in the Bond-like role here and he's fun to watch.  I'm a big fan of his when he's in this mode.  He and Jurgens make this a fairly fun ride.  The music is groovy as shit.  The opening credits grabbed my by the short and curlies and smacked my soft bottom all over the place.  The opening song is performed by an Italian psychedelic rock band called The Bumpers and the song is called Cupidation.  Check it out.

From the first few seconds I was instantly thinking about one of my current favorite bands, Temples (a recent psychedelic rock band from England that has their feet firmly planted in the mid-to-late sixties).  Their sound is much too close not to feel they must have known about The Bumpers before forming their own group.  The first track of their debut album, Sun Structures, gives you a little taste.  Listen to this one for comparison (and keep going for the rest of this groovy album (or jump to Sand Dance for the best track):

The copy I watched was from a shitty fullscreen VHS.  The story is fine and the pacing is much better than average for these 60s Bond knockoffs, so much that I'd be willing to watch it again if I came across a nice widescreen copy. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Pharaohs' Woman (1960)

Original title: La Donna dei Faranoi

Director: Viktor Tourjansky

Writers: Remigio Del Grosso, Ugo Liberatore, Virgilio Tosi, Massimo Vitalo

Composer: Giovanni Fusco

Starring: Linda Cristal, Pierre Brice, Armando Francioli, John Drew Barrymore, Lilli Lembo, Nerio Bernardi, Guido Celano, Andreina Rossi

More info: IMDb

Tagline: For the forbidden charms of the temptress of the Nile...they turned the mighty land of the pharaohs into a blazing inferno!


My rating:

Will I watch it again?  Only if a sweet widescreen print in Italian shows up.

The pig in me wants to start by saying how 'bout that Linda Cristal?  Hubba hubba!

They sure wore some skimpy-ass outfits in ancient Egyptian times, huh?  It's wild they weren't more tan.  Oh, wait...  It's an OK Sword & Sandal picture.  Judging by the picture you can see that I was hampered with a VHS quality fullscreen print which REALLY friggin' sucked.  There were moments where you had one person on the left side of the screen (who was barely visible) talking to someone on the right side of the screen (again, barely visible).  It's a horrible way to watch a movie to say the least.  I'm sure I would have liked this a lot more if I were watching a great looking widescreen print and in Italian.  The English dub on this one is OK with some of the voices doing well and some not.  The story isn't too bad and it is handled alright I suppose.  I did like the ending.  There were a few little turns taken with the plot in the final minutes.  Watching a film like this (fullscreen) really hurts when it comes to trying to get the scope of the thing.  The battle scenes at the end are almost wasted because of the narrow visibility.  While there is some action, it's mostly a romance picture between a woman and some fellas who want her for their own.  It's really tough judging a picture when you've got an English dubbed VHS quality fullscreen print.