Friday, January 20, 2017

Dangerous Moonlight (1941)

AKA: Suicide Squadron

Director: Brian Desmond Hurst

Writer: Terence Young

Composer: Richard Addinsell

Starring: Anton Walbrook, Sally Gray, Derrick De Marney, Cecil Parker, Percy Parsons, Kenneth Kent, J.H. Roberts, John Laurie, Michael Rennie

More info: IMDb

Plot: During World War II, an American newswoman falls for a Polish piano virtuoso...who wants to go back and fight.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

DANGEROUS MOONLIGHT (UK title) is a more appropriate title for this drama than SUICIDE SQUADRON (USA title).  The only action is in the final few minutes and the dogfight scenes are pretty good.  But then maybe I was getting a little bored of the melodrama that was unfolding for the previous 80 or more minutes.  It's not all that bad I suppose.  There were times when I liked Walbrook (in the lead role as Steve) but there were more spots where he came across as a bit too stuffy or drab.  The romance angle happens pretty quick and much of the film is spent on their slow descent into destroying their marriage.  And that wasn't done as well as it should have been which is the fault of the screenplay.  It's one of those cases where someone says the couple has to have a conflict and the conflict is poorly managed.  It's not worth spending any more time thinking about. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Suicide Squad (1935)

Director: Bernard B. Ray

Writers: Charles E. Roberts, Ray Nazarro, Homer King Gordon

Starring: Norman Foster, Joyce Compton, Robert Homans, Aggie Herring, Peter Warren, Jack Luden, Phil Kramer, Chuck Baldra, Harry Harvey, Jack Kirk, Tiny Sandford, Glenn Strange

More info: IMDb


Plot: Larry Baker is a young fireman whose daring exploits have led him to receiving a lot of newspaper publicity which goes to his head. His sweetheart, Mary O'Connor, and fire-department friends begin to shun him as they think he is just a publicity hound. But a daring rescue of Mary and her younger brother, Mickey, from a blazing inferno shows him to be more than just a publicity-chaser and, now, a real hero to all.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Just for kicks I wanted to see the OTHER movie called SUICIDE SQUAD knowing that there was no relation between the two other than the title.  It's an OK fireman melodrama about a cocky young upstart who, in the span of 56 minutes, learns that he's got to be humble and less of a hotheaded sumbitch in order to do the right thing and serve humanity proper.  The little kid was funny and he had some good lines.  One of them had me laughing out loud.  It was something like his old and cranky dad got some food on his suit at the dinner table and the mother comments on him staining it.  The kid pipes up with something along the lines of, "Awww, Don't worry, pop can wear anything!".  Hee hee hee.  The picture is by the numbers with nothing of note that would compel anyone to see it except for the title or if you out to watch every fireman movie ever made.  Watch it for yourself.  It's on YouTube.  Lucky you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

When Eight Bells Toll (1971)

Director: Etienne Perier

Writer: Alistair MacLean

Composer: Angela Morley

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Robert Morley, Nathalie Delon, Jack Hawkins, Corin Redgrave, Derek Bond, Ferdy Mayne, Maurice Roeves, Leon Collins, Wendy Allnutt

More info: IMDb

Plot: A British agent, Philip Calvert, is on a mission to determine the whereabouts of a ship that disappeared near the coast of Scotland.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

This rather dull spy adventure has enough going for it to justify giving it a watch.  It's neat seeing Anthony Hopkins (in his first top-billed role) as a secret agent ala James Bond.  He's a down and dirty, no frills man of action.  It's odd seeing him in light but fun just the same.  Stunt legend Bob Simmons is the main stuntman on this picture who also played Hopkins' stunt double.  Simmons is most famous for being the stunt coordinator and double for Connery and Moore in nearly every Bond picture from '62 to '85.  The rest of the cas does fine and having Robert Morley and Jack Hawkins in the mix never hurt anyone's picture.  I learned something about Hawkins that I never knew.  He was dubbed in all of his roles after surgery for throat Cancer in 1965.  He was dubbed by Charles Gray (as he was in this film) or Robert Rietty.  Angela Morley's (as Walter Stott) score sometimes works well.  Her main theme is outrageous and outdated for what this movie is (but I really dig it).  It would be perfect for an over the top Eurospy film from say 1965 but one that would have the action to match it.  This film is at odds with the theme as there's rarely any moments that compliment the brashness of the music.  Most everything about this picture is low key and is void of the bright, outdoor settings and action you'd find in the Bond pictures.  It's probably the story and drabness of the locations that hurt this movie more than anything else.  There's not much excitement and considering MacLean's other work, this one is a low point for sure.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Who's Out There? (1975)

Starring: Orson Welles, Ashley Montagu, Carl Sagan, Peter Thomas (narrator)

More info: IMDb

Plot: This 1975 NASA documentary narrated by the great Orson Welles delves into the possibilities of extraterrestrial life as gleaned from the results of planetary probes, interstellar discoveries and findings about the nature of life itself.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Nah.

I love Orson Welles and that actor's voice of his.  I love NASA, all things space and Carl Sagan.  It's only a half hour long so it's a quick watch and it's fun hearing Welles & Co. talk about the possibilities of life in the universe and the recent discovers about Mars.  The 70s production teams with nostalgia from my childhood dreams of being an astronaut.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The International (2009)

Director: Tom Tykwer

Writer: Eric Warren Singer

Composers: Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek, Tom Tykwer

Starring: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Ulrich Thomsen, Brian F. O'Byrne, Michel Voletti, Patrick Baladi, Ben Whishaw

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They control your money. They control your government. They control your life. And everybody pays.

Plot: An Interpol agent attempts to expose a high-profile financial institution's role in an international arms dealing ring.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I've only seen one other Tykwer picture and that's the brilliantly entertaining RUN LOLA RUN (1998) and being a huge fan of Clive Owen there's no way I was going to pass this up.  It looks fantastic.  That's the best thing I've got to say I think.  It's a pretty good thriller but I wasn't caught up in it like I should've been.  A story, and cast/crew, like this have the potential to keep you on the edge of your seat but not this time.  There's plenty of action and intrigue but it's missing that one important element that should have you riveted.  That would make for a much stronger experience.  The performances are fine and the picture provides an adequate level of adrenaline pumping action but it's missing something that keeps this from being a great ride.  What you see on screen looks like a satisfying meal but it's not quite done.  Now I need to find a really good 70s thriller to get me back on track. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Sporting Club (1971)

Director: Larry Peerce

Writers: Thomas McGuane, Lorenzo Semple Jr.

Composer: Michael Small

Starring: Robert Fields, Nicolas Coster, Margaret Blye, Jack Warden, Richard Dysart, William Ramsey, Leon B. Stevens, John Seymour, Helen Craig, Diane Rousseau, Lois Markle, James Noble, Ralph Puroum, Ralph Waite, Jo Ann Harris, Linda Blair, Anne Ramsey, Claiborne Cary, Larry Deer

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Dearest children of the 20th century, do you take such pleasures as your ancestors?

Plot:  This exploitative melodrama is set in northern Michigan where an exclusive private hunting club is located. There some of the country's richest, most powerful men come to relax and get closer to nature. Unfortunately, that means that they become engaged in debauchery and become brutal, amoral killers.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

This really is an odd picture.  Presumably it's plot building for the first fifty minutes (almost exactly halfway into the movie).   Shortly before that point we meet Earl Olive, delightfully played by the great Jack Warden.  He's having a blast.  Well, fifty minutes in is the point where we get some friction between Earl's people and the rich white folks.  It's not long after that the shit hits the fan and it's on between the warring factions.  The well-to-dos suddenly get silly and the movie has some horrible moments of slapstick comedy.  The tone moves depending on the scene and that's just one of the problems with this flick.  The other big issue I had with it is all of that time we spend with the rich folks for the first forty or so minutes, as if it's going to matter to the rest of the picture.  It does but only a little.  The big takeaway is that a group of wealthy and powerful people have an exclusive hunting club and when they clash with the lower locals, they start scrappin' and it ends with a rich old people orgy and an old fashioned duel with flint pistols between two of the rich folks.  The locals split the scene long before that.  This could've been so much more fun if it were taken more seriously and the shit hit the fan a lot sooner so that the movie would've been over sooner and with a lot of carnage and grisly kills.   Michael Small's score has some nice moments.  Besides, Jack Warden's fun performance, I can't recommend this unless you want to see something odd and kind of pointless.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Ex Machina (2015)

Director: Alex Garland

Writer: Alex Garland

Composers: Geoff Barrow, Ben Salisbury

Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Corey Johnson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander, Sonoya Mizuno, Claire Selby, Symara A. Templeman, Gana Bayarsaikhan, Tiffany Pisani, Elina Alminas

More info: IMDb

Tagline: To erase the line between man and machine is to obscure the line between men and gods.

Plot: A young programmer is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breath-taking humanoid A.I.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Even though I'd heard good things about this picture, I've been burned before with an abundance of positive reviews only to be disappointed.  I LOVE this movie.  It's one of those flicks you sit back uninterrupted and soak it in.  I love the pacing, acting, story, surprises and ending.  It's a home run no matter how you slice it.  Even though I'd already seen THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015) at least twice by the time I saw this, I did not recognize Gleeson or Isaac at all.  Despite the magic of seeing this for the first time is gone, I look forward to seeing this again being more enlightened to the story.  The Blu-ray looks amazing but I haven't had a chance to dig through the few extras.  Sadly there's no director commentary.  It would be great spending spending close to two hours listening to how this all came together.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Diversions (1976)

AKA: Sex Express

Director: Derek Ford

Writer: Derek Ford

Starring: Heather Deeley, Derek Martin, Jacqui Rigby, Jeffrey Morgan, Terry Walsh, Timothy Blackstone, James Lister, Tim Burr, Tony Kenyon, Gilly Sykes, Christopher Gilbert

More info: IMDb

Plot: Imogene (Deeley) has been sentenced to a prison term and her two guards are escorting her via train.  Once in the carriage she starts having sexual fantasies.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Ahhhhh, 70s porn.  British porn.  Porn that shows a woman seducing a man in a barn, being raped by American G.I.s during WWII, stabbing her lover and then spreading his blood over her naked body and masturbating with the dagger used in the incident while he lays dead and open-eyed beside her...

But wait, she's not done.  She takes a souvenir and a snack.

After she showers off,   So that was fun.  Then her dreams take her to a fancy night on the town (no dialogue) and picking up a swanky fancy-dressed dude to take back to her or his place for a right boring shag before reality sets in and she's back on the train.  Bored, her mind wanders into a fantasy about being an unexpected prostitute (it's complicated but it serves the fantasy very well).  Uh, oh!  We've got Nazis!  And lesbians!

Before things get too tense with Nazi-Lesbian negotiations, we move on to a story where she buys an antique camera, sets it up in her apartment, and frolics naked in front of it while it mysteriously takes pictures on its own.  Frightened, she scampers off to bed.  She awakens to find negatives hanging in the bathroom along with the creepy guy who sold her the camera.  She faints and dreams of being in an old fashioned 1910s stag film (as you would).

Finally the train ride is over and she's let go.  That didn't make sense at all and I felt robbed of an explanation.  Now the internet says director Ford made two versions, a 50 minute cut for the stuffy British audiences and an 87 minute X-rated cut (this one) for us mature porn purveyors in the good ole US of A (and Croatia).  I'm not sure about that Croatia thing.  Some of the hardcore bits are obviously spliced in while others feel right at home.  Look, it's OK at best.  The sex isn't all that good and the non-sex is what you'd expect which only serves to link the naughty bits into some semblance of a plot.  What stands out, though is that it's British and there's a variety to the scenarios that help push this to a little above average.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hard Contract (1969)

Director: S. Lee Pogostin

Writer: S. Lee Pogostin

Composer: Alex North

Starring: James Coburn, Lee Remick, Lilli Palmer, Burgess Meredith, Patrick Magee, Sterling Hayden, Claude Dauphin, Helen Cherry, Karin Black, Sabine Sun

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Love. Murder. Everything they do is 97% control and 3% emotion.

Plot: A cold hearted American hit man goes to Europe for 'one last score'. His encounter with a beautiful young woman casts self doubt on his lifeblood, and influences him to resist carrying out the contract.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

There's a wonderful scene late in the film between Cunningham (Coburn) and Carlson (Hayden) that's worth sitting through an hour and twenty four minutes of mediocre drama to get to.  It's the meat of the picture and its heart.  We learn a lot about these two men and only one of them has found peace and welcomes his life.  The other still hasn't figured out where he wants his life to take him.  And one of them also shows he's a lot smarter than the other one realizes.  The cast does a fine job and the story is pretty good despite the casual pacing.  Some scenes feature some nice dialogue exchanges but since some of them don't involve Cunningham, they don't do much in furthering his plot.  On that level, the film fails somewhat by not sticking to the story but it's hard to diss them as I enjoyed the ideas presented are interesting to ponder.  Burgess Meredith is delightful and it's just a damn shame that he isn't living forever so he can be in everything.  And Sterling Hayden just proves that he got better with age.  Coburn is Coburn and he does a fine enough job until you see him happy and then he's the Derek Flint Coburn.  I suppose the ending works since it was written and directed by the same person you have to properly assume that it's exactly what he wanted.  I would've preferred something a lot darker.  It would've made it a different and perhaps better film, one that I'd prefer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Northville Cemetery Massacre (1976)

Directors: William Dear, Thomas Van Dyke

Writers: William Dear, Thomas Van Dyke, Jim Pappas

Composer: Michael Nesmith

Starring: David Hyry, J. Craig Collicut, Carson Jackson, Jan Sisk, Herb Sharples, Len Speck, Beatrice Endahl, Harry Endahl, Brook Evens, Jill Biggers

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The day that law and order went beserk...

Plot: Mayhem starts when a gang of bikers is accused of a sadistic rape in a small town.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

When you go into movies like this you don't expect much, at least I don't.  So when one turns out to actually be pretty good, it takes me by surprise and I like pleasant surprises.  The acting is all over the place but that's to be expected since a lot of these folks aren't actors and most belong to an actual motorcycle gang/club and that only adds to the authenticity of the picture.  Hell, some of those cats do a better job acting that some working actors I've seen.  The laid back attitude the film takes with letting us get to know these kids helps establish them as largely sympathetic.  They might be breaking the law sometime but it's almost always for something relatively innocent.  Once the picture turns to the dark side and people start dying (and a lot of people's one of those rare times where an exploitation movie's title rings true) it gets even better and the film gets very focused.  The only thing I didn't like at all was the over-the-top, flamboyancy of the gun dealer.  This flick didn't need that kind of cartoon humor and it would've been best served with something a lot more subtle.  It sucked the momentum dry.  Once we're done with that guy then it's all in for the final showdown.  It's a bloody film which is unusual for a biker picture.  You expect a little gunshot blood but not as much as this picture delivers.  In that regard, it's great. There's a little skin but only in one scene.  Biker films are an odd bunch in that it's the independent low/no budget ones that tend to be better than their Hollywood counterparts.  It makes sense why that is given the nature of the subject matter.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Mystery Street (1950)

Director: John Sturges

Writers: Sydney Boehm, Richard Brooks, Leonard Spigelgass

Composer: Rudolph G. Kopp

Starring:  Ricardo Montalban, Sally Forrest, Bruce Bennett, Elsa Lanchester, Marshall Thompson, Jan Sterling, Edmon Ryan, Betsy Blair, Wally Maher, Ralph Dumke

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Anything can happen!

Plot: A small town policeman is assisted by a Harvard professor when the skeletal remains of a pregnant prostitute turn up on a Massachusetts beach.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Nah.

Well here's a nifty little gem that came out of nowhere.  First of all, it's great seeing Ricardo Montalban in a leading role and from so long ago.  He's great and Sturges does a great job directing it.  The story and how it progresses is great.  Then you've got the subject matter of forensics helping piece together something for the detectives to work with.  A woman is murdered, her body stripped of everything material, dumped in a different location than the murder and isn't discovered for many months...long enough for the body to have completely decomposed to the point of leaving nothing visible but bones.  The Harvard medical school helps with giving the particulars of the body the bones belonged to and then it's good old fashioned police work to do the rest.  It's not something you'd think would've been made 67 years ago.  The ending is satisfying, too, and the picture doesn't suffer much from the detective picture tropes of the day.  It's very good.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Outside Man (1972)

Original title: Un Homme est Mort

Director: Jacques Deray

Writers: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Ian McLellan Hunter

Composer: Michel Legrand

Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Ann-Margret, Roy Scheider, Angie Dickinson, Georgia Engel, Felice Orlandi, Carlo De Mejo, Michel Constantin, Umberto Orsini, Carmen Argenziano, Jackie Earle Haley, John Hillerman, Alex Rocco, Talia Shire

More info: IMDb

Tagline: If you kill the most powerful man in organized crime, they've got the rest of your life to get you.

Plot: French assassin Lucien Bellon is hired to kill an L.A. mob boss. After the job is done it seems someone has been hired to erase him and he's suddenly left stranded in the U.S. without a passport and with very few friends.  Bellon is forced to fight back.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

OMFG what a great flick!

Have you ever wanted to see:

Roy Scheider play a cold, ruthless, man of few words killer?

Angie Dickinson really tan?

OK, how about Ann-Margret really tan?  I thought so.

Los Angeles from an outsider's point of view as filthy, run down town except for where the super rich live?

I just watched this and I'm tickled to death at how much I loved it.  It's pictures like this one that get me excited about watching movies.  You go through a lot of bad and mediocre films and then out of nowhere something like this pops up and restores your faith in the industry.  The cast is great except for Umberto Orsini who plays Alex, the son of the murdered mob boss.  Now it could be that he was dubbed and the voice actor was having a bad day but the scene between him and the detective, who has pretty much pieced together what's really been going on, is pretty bad.  But that's the only moment in the entire picture that suffers.  It's got a European flair to it so it's easy to forgive.  Plus the rest of the picture is top drawer gritty crime stuff.  Roy Scheider is friggin' awesome.  Hell, the cast is great almost all around (except for Orsini's moment of excess).  There's lots of action, tension, intrigue and the ending is really cool and 70s cynical.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Naked Spur (1953)

Director: Anthony Mann

Writers: Sam Rolfe, Harold Jack Bloom

Composer: Bronislau Kaper

Starring: James Stewart, Janet Leigh, Robert Ryan, Ralph Meeker, Millard Mitchell

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Packed with Technicolor Thrills!

Plot: A man trying to bring a murderer to justice is forced to accept the help of two less-than-trustworthy strangers.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.


When you get into Westerns of the 1950s you start to see a transition from simple to complex films with mature themes, emotions, acting and so on.  This isn't one of those shoot-em-ups and there's more going on here than the average Western at the time but let's not give this picture too much credit.  The Colorado scenery is GORGEOUS!  The cast does a relatively fine job.  I liked Mitchell (as the old prospector, Jesse Tate) the best.  He was fun but without over doing it.  Ralph Meeker (who I swore was just a young Vic Morrow) acts all over the place from good to over the top but I liked how you couldn't trust the guy all the way to the end.  Leigh is fine as is Stewart (and I liked his motivation) but I'd swear in all of the pictures Robert Ryan made combined, I've never seen him smile and laugh as much as he did in this one.  He played a unique bad guy and I liked him quite a bit to the point of wanting him to get away with it.  Naturally his true colors are eventually exposed and 1950s Hollywood wouldn't allow him to get away with it.  The action is good and there's some great suspense.  The Indian gunfight was a great tense moment.  I do have one bone of contention and that's the "love story" plot thread.  It's REALLY weak and the scene where Howard (Stewart) and Lina (Leigh) embrace is laughable.  Oh, yeah, and the score, which is mostly good, gets downright stupid when at least three times we hear the song, "Beautiful Dreamer", when the characters are talking about their life dreams/goals or when Howard is talking in his sleep while Lina comforts him.  It's truly horrible to hear.  I expect that in a cartoon but not in a Western such as this that's trying, and succeeding at being something more than Saturday matinee fluff.  Still, though, there's a lot to like here and it shouldn't go unseen by fans of the genre.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Director: Rowland V. Lee

Writer: Wyllis Cooper

Composer: Frank Skinner

Starring: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Josephine Hutchinson, Donnie Dunagan, Emma Dunn, Edgar Norton, Perry Ivins, Lawrence Grant, Lionel Belmore

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The black shadows of the past bred this half-man . . . half-demon! . . . creating a new and terrible juggernaut of destruction!

Plot: One of the sons of Frankenstein finds his father's monster in a coma and revives him, only to find out he is controlled by Ygor who is bent on revenge.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably.

The great Frankenstein series continues with this third Universal entry and it's fun.  The cast is great, really.  Lugosi has moments of genius.  There's one scene early in where he's just staring at the Baron (Rathbone) and his look is layered with curiosity, amusement and contempt.  It's brilliant.  Sure, Lugosi is playing the deformed Ygor and you could make the case that he's over the top but he's also the most interesting and sinister character in the show.  Fans of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) will get a kick out of Inspector Krogh with his wooden arm and darts marksmanship.  Frankenstein's castle is very sparse with decor.  The walls are barren and there's very little furniture.  At first this was a turnoff as the picture could've used something more elaborate and appealing for the eyes but then I started thinking about it and it suddenly made sense why they made this choice.  The elder, now dead, Frankenstein probably ran through his fortune over the years as he wasn't actively working in the public sector, instead spending all of his money on maintaining the castle and his experiments so by the time his son got the joint, it was pretty bare and bleak.  It also gives the place a more stark, shadow-filled, angular look akin to the German expressionist pictures of that decade.  If I could add one thing to this film it would be adding a couple of more locations for shooting to mix it up a bit.  It's still a fine film and a good part of the Universal franchise.  So far, of the original Universal monster franchises, Frankenstein is consistently the best of the lot.  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Mr. Lucky (1943)

Director: H.C. Potter

Writers: Milton Holmes, Adrian Scott

Composer: Roy Webb

Starring: Cary Grant, Laraine Day, Charles Bickford, Gladys Cooper, Alan Carney, Henry Stephenson, Paul Stewart, Kay Johnson, Erford Gage, Walter Kingsford, Florence Bates

Tagline: Cary at his grandest in the story he chose himself - plus lovely Laraine in the role that makes her great!

Plot: A gambler has plans to swindle money from a charity program, but starts to have second thoughts when he falls for a rich society girl.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

For much of the film this is a straight up romantic comedy with the emphasis on the funny.  Grant is one smooth cat and it's easy to see why he was such a big star.  He's got charisma in spades. As he gets deeper into Dorothy (Day) and the shit gets closer to hitting the fan, things get more serious and this picture goes into dark territory.  The priest interpreting the letter (written in Greek) for Joe (Grant) is powerful stuff and you can see a complete transformation in Joe's character in Grant's face as the letter is read.  By the time the letter is finished, you're looking at a different Joe and he's now a man with a mission and there's no time for quips.  It's a remarkable picture to give this kind of dynamic, change tone and work so solidly.  The ending is really nice, too.  There was a part of me that wanted something a little different but I was very pleased at how it was handled.  The picture runs longer than your standard comedy of this period would (at an hour and forty minutes) and there are some bits here and there that could be trimmed that wouldn't hurt the narrative but they would rob you of some fun bits with the actors who all do a fine job.  I highly recommend this one. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

31 (2016)

Director: Rob Zombie

Writer: Rob Zombie

Composers: Chris Harris, John 5, Bob Marlette, Rob Zombie

Starring: Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Meg Foster, Kevin Jackson, Malcolm McDowell, Jane Carr, Judy Geeson, Richard Brake, Pancho Moler, David Ury, Lew Temple, Torsten Voges, Elizabeth Daily, Michael 'Red Bone' Alcott, Esperanza America, Andrea Dora, Tracey Walter, Ginger Lynn

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Welcome To Hell

Plot: In 1976, on the eve of Halloween, an itinerant troupe is forced to stop their truck and attacked by strangers. Charly, Venus Virgo, Panda Thomas, Levon Wally and Roscoe Pepper survive. They are forced to participate in a sadistic game called "31" for 12 hours, and whoever survives will be released.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I've seen most of Zombie's movies and I really dig this guy's work for the most part.  The lower budget on this one shows a little but he does get a lot of mileage out of what's there.  This picture was crowd funded but to what degree I don't know.  I mostly LOVE the cast...mostly.  If Sheri wasn't married to Zombie then I'd be less inclined to find fault in her taking center stage except that it's nice when that rare pick-'em-off'-one-by-one horror movie comes along that does something different with the lone survivor being the obvious chick you can pick out at the beginning of the picture.  Phillips and Brake are fantastic, especially Brake.  He's fantastic.  I really like how Zombie casts his pictures with maybe the exception of Sheri who often seems like she's trying to hard to 'act'.  Sometimes she does really well but others...  There is a lot of gore and the bad guys are fun.  And there's some nudity (yah!).  The biggest issue I have, though, is with the camerawork and fast editing during the fight scenes.  Zombie stays in close for all of the action/horror stuff, always moving the camera and cutting it quick so all you get are frenetic scenes without an opportunity to soak anything in.  It was really frustrating and I should probably lower my score by another half point just for that.  Since this is his latest film, I hope that this being crowd funded doesn't mean he's having a hard time getting backing for his movies.  I don't mind the lower budget nature of this one but I don't want to see his movie career on the downward slope to where he can't get much made the way he wants it.  I like his horror voice and I want more.  His movies are distinctively his and they're usually a lot of fun.