Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955)

Director: Otto Preminger

Writers: Milton Sperling, Emmet Lavery, Ben Hecht, Dalton Trumbo, Michael Wilson

Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin

Starring: Gary Cooper, Charles Bickford, Ralph Bellamy, Rod Steiger, Elizabeth Montgomery, Fred Clark, James Daly, Jack Lord, Peter Graves, Darren McGavin, Robert F. Simon, Charles Dingle, Dayton Lummis

More info: IMDb

Tagline: He defied the army and navy . . . and they gave him a Court Martial!

Plot: A dramatization of the American general and his court martial for publically complaining about High Command's dismissal and neglect of the aerial fighting forces.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

If you like your war dramas heavy on the drama and you love sitting in a courtroom for over an hour then this picture might be for you.  None of these things deter from this being a good picture.  It's technically well made.  The performances are good and it's neat seeing so many famous actors before they were famous.  I read that the family of Mitchell was disappointed in the casting of Cooper and they preferred Cagney because Mitchell was much shorter than Cooper and he had a hot headed temper.  Cooper doesn't play animated roles.  He's always very stoic and grounded much like Gregory Peck.  I'd like to see Cooper lose his shit one time and go on one hell of a mean streak tear.  He does fine in the role but I agree and thing Cagney would've been better suited.  Most of the film is the trial so knowing that helps prepare one for what's to come.  The title gives that away.  It's not so compelling that it warrants another watch but it is worth seeing once.

Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

Directors: George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Bernard Knowles

Writers: George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr,Mal Evans

Composers: George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr

Starring: George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr,Victor Spinetti, Jessie Robins, Miranda Forbes, Maggie Wright, Ivor Cutler

More info: IMDb

Plot: The Beatles charter a special bus for a surreal mystery tour.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I love The Beatles and I've been wanting to see this one for thirty years and all this time I've only heard that it's bad.  If it weren't for the great music it would be.  Also seeing The Beatles helps a lot.  The funny isn't funny and it looks like an excuse to get out of the house and make some kind of a movie.  They succeeded on that front but there's not much to see.  The songs are amazing and it is neat seeing some of them made as individual music videos.  Geez, I forgot about Victor Spinetti who pays the double speaking Army Sergeant.  He's fantastic.  I'd never heard anyone do English doublespeak before and he was great at it.  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Yellow Tomahawk (1954)

Director: Lesley Selander

Writers: Richard Alan Simmons, Harold Jack Bloom

Composer: Les Baxter

Starring: Rory Calhoun, Peggie Castle, Noah Beery Jr., Warner Anderson, Peter Graves, Lee Van Cleef, Rita Moreno, Dan Riss, Walter Reed, Patrick Sexton, Robert Bray, Adam Willimas, James Best, Ned Glass

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  An Indian Scout and a Blonde Wildcat . . . They Faced the Most Savage of All Indian Raids!

Plot:  When the army insists on building a fort on Indian land, in defiance of a treaty, the warnings of a scout go unheeded.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Well here's another flick with Peter Graves and Peggie Castle that I watched close to one another (the other being THE BEGINNING OF THE END (1957).  Coincidences are neat, aren't they?  This picture is OK.  It benefits from the good cast.  There might be a little more romance than you'd want to see but it's not so much that the action takes forever to get to but it does slow the movie down some.  Rita Moreno is just adorable...

That's her putting the finishing touches on wasting a Gringo.  It's not the film's fault but IMDb says this was shot widecreen and in color.  As you can see, that's not how I saw it.  This was recorded from TCM a gazillion years ago.  B&W fullscreen is not the way to go on this one.  If you're looking for a decent time killer, this will suffice.  

Beginning of the End (1957)

Director: Bert I. Gordon

Writers: Fred Freiberger, Lester Gorn

Composer: Albert Glasser

Starring: Peter Graves, Peggie Castle, Morris Ankrum, Than Wyenn, Thomas Browne Henry, Richard Benedict, James Seay, John Close, Paul Frees

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Filmed in New Horrorscope!

Plot: Audrey Ames, an enterprising journalist, tries to get the scoop on giant grasshoppers accidentally created at the Illinois State experimental farm. She endeavors to save Chicago, despite a military cover-up.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I digs me some 50s horror/sci-fi pictures in this vein and this is one I haven't seen until now.  It's OK.  Graves is his usual wooden, too serious character.  All of the actors do a serviceable job.  The effects are low rent but then I'm sure this is the best they could do with their low budget but they're perfectly fine for what you would expect from pictures during this era.  It is a short film coming in at around an hour and fifteen minutes and I can't say that there's any real downtime or wasted space.  The swift pacing helps a lot.  Before you know it the good guys are pulling out their next to last chance (the last being dropping an atom bomb on Chicago) in their continuing effort to kill these grasshopper bastards.  The script is by the numbers but it is entertaining to a degree, just not as much as many other of this type in the 50s.  This is director Gordon's second picture.  Would you believe he's still alive?  That's awesome!  Go, Mr. B.I.G.!!!

Monday, September 18, 2017

King of Kings (1961)

Director: Nicholas Ray

Writer: Philip Yordan

Composer: Miklos Rozsa

Starring: Jeffrey Hunter, Siobhan McKenna, Hurd Hatfield, Ron Randell, Viveca Lindfors, Rita Gam, Carmen Sevilla, Brigid Bazlen, Harry Guardino, Rip Torn, Frank Thring, Guy Rolfe, Royal Dano, Robert Ryan, Jose Nieto, Ray Milland, Paul Naschy, Orson Welles

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The most exciting human drama the screen has ever told. A story of the Christ, His life, His deeds, the inspiration of His spoken words.

Plot: Jesus assembles a team to set forth and free his people.  He leads a dull life and relies on everyone around him to provide the entertainment and bring the adventure.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

It's funny because once Jesus is an adult he's wondering the countryside picking up guys like he's putting together a special team ala THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960).  All of that hilarity loses steam eventually because it settles into that mushy 'love thy neighbor' business only no one's really lovin' on anybody in any way that would bring any excitement to this picture. That tagline of being the most exciting human drama (blah, blah, blah) is bullshit.  There's one action scene about three quarters in (and this is a near-3 hour picture) and that's got some nice kills.  The movie's OK and it benefits from lots of nice outdoor locations, a beautiful score from Mikos Rozsa, narration by Orson Welles and seeing lots of famous actors, however I found Robert Ryan way out of place much like Edward G. Robinson in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956).  I love those actors but it felt weird seeing them in sword & sandal pictures.  I guess if you're a Christian you're predisposed to dig this movie.  I am not so I watch these biblical pictures as I do with any other movie.  This one's not bad.  Despite the periodic overacting (I dug Hurd Hatfield a lot, though) there is enough to like.  The Warner Bros. DVD has a great looking anamorphic widescreen print.  There are extras, too.  You get a vintage featurette on the making of the sermon on the mount scene (4 min), a vintage featurette on the premiere (2 min), and finally the theatrical trailer in anamorphic widescreen.

The Killing Kind (1973) movie poster

Director: Curtis Harrington

Writers: Tony Crechales, George Edwards

Composer: Andrew Belling

Starring: Ann Southern, John Savage, Ruth Roman, Luana Anders, Cindy Williams, Sue Bernard, Marjorie Eaton, Peter Brocco, Helen Winston

More info: IMDb

Taglne: When They Made the Mistake of Letting Him Out, She Made the Mistake of Letting Him In.

Plot: Young Terry Lambert returns home from serving a prison term for a gang-rape he was forced to participate in. He seeks revenge on his lawyer and the girl who framed him. But his real problem is his overbearing mother, whose boarding house he resides in and who keeps bringing him glasses of chocolate milk. One of her boarders, Lori, becomes attracted to him. However, while he was serving his prison sentence, Terry developed an interest in rough, violent sex, and gory death. Now, one by one, some of the town's women pop up dead.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Good flick.  It runs a little slow but not so slow that it draws attention to itself.  It's one of those psychological killer flicks where his mental scars run deep and they manifest into urges to kill whether it be for retribution or satisfaction or to recapture a burning memory.  The performances are all good and it's got a good story.  It's not a home run for me but it is good enough and compelling enough to give it a shot.  Nice ending, too.  After watching every movie I always check out IMDb for more on the cast, etc., and I see that the rape victim in this picture is Sue Bernard who most famously played the kidnap victim in FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! (1965).  I should've recognized her. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Who Done It? (1956)

Director: Basil Dearden

Writer: T.E.B. Clarke

Composer: Philip Green

Starring: Benny Hill, Belinda Lee, David Kossoff, Garry Marsh, George Margo, Ernest Thesiger, Denis Shaw, Frederick Schiller, Jeremy Hawk, Thorley Walters, Peter Bull, Arthur Lowe, Charles Hawtrey, Fabian

More info: IMDb

Plot: Hugo Dill leaves his job as a sweeper after winning some money. He becomes a private detective and investigates a plot to assassinate British scientists.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

I just adore Benny Hill and that's been going on since the 70s when I was a kid staying up late on Sunday nights to see the sexy broads on his show.  The world owes that man a great debt it could never pay.  This picture marks Hill's only starring role in a feature film.  Shocking, isn't it?  Equally shocking is that he was only in three other films with a credited role.  If it weren't for his prolific career on TV in the string of shows he had it wouldn't be so criminal.  This flick doesn't live up to Hill's comic genius but it is amusing and gives Hill a framework to showcase his talent in playing numerous comic characters with all manner of disguises, accents and personas.  That's where this film shines.  Hill is a delight to watch.  It's British so the actors do a wonderful job.  It also doesn't hurt that there are some familiar faces in the bunch.  I've seen a lot of British comedy from the 50s and 60s and I've gotten used to being amused and not laughing out loud.  Their sensibility is different.  That's not a bad thing, being amused.  I can enjoy that alongside shit that makes my sides hurt.  It's just different.  The Anchor Bay DVD looks fantastic in anamorphic widescreen B&W.  The only extra is a 30 minute film with Hill called THE WAITER (1969) which has Hill in a role that's familiar with fans of his 70s TV show.  This is a must have disc for fans.

Dagmar's Hot Pants, Inc. (1971)

Original title: Dagmars Heta Trosor

Director: Vernon P. Becker

Writers: Vernon P. Becker, Louis M. Heyward

Composer: Les Baxter

Starring: Diana Kjaer, Robert Strauss, Anne Grete Nilssen, Ole Soltoft, Annelie Alexandersson, Poul Bundgaard, Inger Sundh, Tommy Blorm, Tor Isedal

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A Satisfied Customer Is Our Most Important Product!

Plot: Known to her clients as Dagmar, she's a classy Swedish call girl in Copenhagen. After two years, she's ready quit, and we follow her on what she hopes is her last day in the trade. She wakes at 9 AM, gets her first call and a marriage proposal, checks in with her doctor, pays final visits to various clients, arranges to lease her flat, passes on her black book to a colleague, tries to beg off on an impromptu session with Japanese businessmen, has a quick conversation with her brother, and makes a couple of charitable contributions. All the while, her eyes on the clock, there's the threat of her pimp finding out about her plans. If she pulls it off, what awaits?

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Titles like that from Denmark/Sweden and made in the 70s pique my interest every time.  Plus it's got Robert Strauss in his second to last role.  It's not a good one for him I'm afraid.  The story isn't bad but it's appropriately not much more than an excuse to string a lot of different scenarios to get girls naked in varying situations.  There's an attempt at comedy but I didn't find it funny.  It's mildly amusing at best.  There is an abundance of boobs and butts which would be the biggest reason anyone would've gone to the theaters for this one almost fifty years ago and for that, it satisfies.  The characters are cute and likable, the music is hum-able and the pacing is good enough that gives the picture more energy than a lot of these types of films from that era that I've seen.  I was borderline bored, though.  Comedies like this just don't do it for me I guess but I keep watching.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Day Without a Mexican (2004)

Director: Sergio Arau

Writers: Sergio Arau, Yareli Arizmendi, Sergio Guerrero

Composer: Juan Colomer

Starring: Yareli Arizmendi, John Getz, Muse Watson, Caroline Aaron, Maureen Flannigan, Tony Abateamrco

More info: IMDb

Tagline: On May 14 there will be no Mexicans in California.

Plot: When a mysterious fog surrounds the boundaries of California, there is a communication breakdown and all the Mexicans disappear, affecting the economy and the state stops working missing the Mexican workers and dwellers.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?  No (but with that little wavy line above the 'o' making it all foreign looking and shit).

What sounds like a one joke movie ends up being...a one joke movie.  It's not a simple as that but a lot of the gags are those that practically write themselves once you begin with the premise that all Latinos in the state suddenly disappear without a trace.  There are different types of jokes so there's a possibility that some might work for you.  The ones that landed for me that got laughs were the ones that came out of nowhere like suddenly cutting to a gas powered leaf blower spinning on the ground in a circle or a driverless car with the front end bouncing across the screen and a car horn playing La Cucaracha.  That never gets old.   What does get old is the rest of the film that doesn't work for the same reason that telling the same joke many times in a row doesn't work.  The concept probably worked better on paper but extending it to 95 minutes is a tall order.  There's an obvious social commentary going on here but it's also such a simple and obvious one that it can be told much more succinctly in a less boring way.  This would make a hilarious 20 minute comedy and it would still be able to get the point across.  The thing is, I can't see this movie converting anyone from the anti-immigrant camp.  This movie was made, I'd reckon, for those of us who are on the immigrant's side and it misses the mark by overdoing it.

F.B.I. Girl (1951)

Director: William Berke

Writers: Dwight V. Babcock, Richard H. Landau, Rupert Hughes

Composer: Darrell Calker

Starring: Cesar Romero, George Brent, Audrey Totter, Tom Drake, Raymond Burr, Raymond Greenleaf, Margia Dean, Don Garner, Alexander Pope, Richard Monahan, Tommy Noonan, Peter Marshall, Jan Kayne, Joi Lansing

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Woman ... on a Man-hunt

Plot: A governor planning to run for U.S. Senate has a secret past that could prove damaging to his political aspirations: he's a convicted murderer, and that will come to light if the FBI does an investigative check on him. He goes to a local crime boss for help. The racketeer arranges for a low-level FBI employee to take the incriminating file from FBI headquarters, but then she is conveniently murdered. Two FBI agents investigating her murder begin to think that something isn't quite kosher.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

With a cast like this it's hard to resist, especially when you've got a cheesy title like that.  Raymond "Perry Mason" Burr plays a good, intimidating heavy and that's alright with me.  I loves me some Cesar Romero but he's going by the numbers here and it's not a role he can lay on his wonderful charm.  He's just a G-Man with a job to do.  This is the second 74 minute movie I've watched in a row but it's more watchable than some bad 80s fantasy (the other flick was RAGEWAR (1984)). FBI GIRL would've benefited from a major studio's involvement, even if it were one of their B-pictures.  Still, you've got an interesting cast that does a good job with the material.  The story is good enough but there is some padding with the big finale when the Feds are tailing Raymond Burr.  It goes on far too long.  Before you know it the picture's over and so was I.  Go in with low expectations and you'll find yourself with a decent enough time killer and not much time at that. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Black Sister's Revenge (1976)

Original title: Emma Mae

Director: Jamaa Fanaka

Writer: Jamaa Fanaka

Composer: H.B. Barnum

Starring: Jerri Hayes, Ernest Williams II, Charles D. Brooks III, Leopooldo Mandeville, Malik Carter, Eddie Allen, Gammy Burdett, Teri Taylor, Synthia Saint James, Robert Slaughter, Eddy C. Dyer, Laetitia Burdett

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Mess with her man and she'll bust your face.

Plot: A naive young girl from the South moves in with her relatives in a Los Angeles ghetto. At first she is made fun of, but eventually she is accepted and plots to rob a bank to raise bail money for her new boyfriend, who is a jailed drug dealer.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Well raise my rent!  I went into this expecting some Blaxploitation action and came out the other end thrilled that instead I got a great urban drama.  I'm guessing this was re-titled as BLACK SISTER'S REVENGE for the video market to jump on the Blaxploitation bandwagon and sex this up as a funky action flick but it's far from it.  It's a down to Earth drama about this poor young girl moving from the Deep South to urban Los Angeles and getting mixed up with the wrong man.  She transforms from this shy girl to a strong woman by the end of the film and it's a great ride from one to the other.  Jerri Hayes plays Emma and she owns it.  This is her only IMDb credit and you can tell she's not experienced actor but that helps this film so much.  Her performance is natural and that's how it is for a lot of the cast.  It's got that rawness about it that makes this feel much more like the genuine article.  Probably my favorite performance from her costars is Malik Carter who plays 'Big Daddy' Johnson.  He's got the goods, going from funny as shit to shit getting real and real fast.  I'm shocked he's only been in five movies.  This film might be on YouTube in full.  Check it out.  This really is a great flick.  It's fun but it's also a powerful statement on inner city life in the black community.  The Xenon DVD sports a good looking fullscreen print and trailers for six other Blaxploitation classics.

Ragewar (1984)

AKA: The Dungeonmaster

Directors: David Allen, Charles Band, John Carl Buechler, Steven Ford, Peter Manoogian, Ted Nicolaou, Rosemarie Turko

Writers: Charles Band, Allen Actor, Rosemarie Turko, John Carl Buechler, David Allen, Jeffrey Byron, Peter Manoogian, Ted Nicolaou

Composers: Richard Band, Shirley Walker

Starring: Jeffrey Byron, Richard Moll, Leslie Wing, Gina Calabrese

More info: IMDb

Tagline: He is the overlord of strange beasts and stolen souls ...

Plot: A demonic wizard challenges a modern-day computer programmer to a battle of technology vs. sorcery, with the programmer's girlfriend as the prize.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

It seemed like a good idea until I got a ways into it.  Seven challenges are directed by seven directors and they're presented as challenges to a man trapped in a computer fantasy world.  The low budget is stretched as far is it could be so I can't hold that against them.  It's a reasonable effort but it hovers in mediocrity.  Unless I blinked at the wrong moment, it's never explained how Paul and Gwen (Byron and Wing) are sucked from modern day into this bizarre fantasy world or how they got out.  Is it a dream?  Does Paul's computer take them ala TRON (1982)?  That's kind of important, even for a low budget picture.  I liked the stop motion rock creature in the first challenge but it doesn't last long like the rest of the stories.  It's only 74 minutes long to begin with.  The opening was nice and mysterious and it provides the only nudity in the film.  It's a shame this isn't better because with more care in the story, this could've been good enough to have cult status of a good kind and be one of those hidden gems that few people know about.  It's still an interesting film.  Oh, and listen for Shirley Walker's nice bits of score.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Odd Couple (1968)

Director: Gene Saks

Writer: Neil Simon

Composer: Neal Hefti

Starring: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, John Fiedler, Herb Edelman, David Sheiner, Larry Haines, Monica Evans, Carole Shelley, Iris Adrian

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are The Odd Couple

Plot: Two friends try sharing an apartment, but their ideas of housekeeping and lifestyles are as different as night and day.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This movie is as old as me and I'm just now seeing it.  I remember watching the TV show in the 70s and liking it and the popular theme tune is one of the all time movie/TV greats.  I'm disappointed that I didn't like this as much as I thought I would.  It's amusing but not all that funny.  It's cute and pleasant.  You can't say it's not well made or anything but didn't really laugh at all.  I knew what to expect going in but I came away a little bummed.  The cast is great and it's full of familiar faces, character actors I dig.  Maybe my pea brain remembered when I watched the show forty years ago and decided that was funnier than the movie but neglected to tell me. The Paramount DVD sports a great looking anamorphic widescreen print with only the theatrical trailer (also anamorphic wide) for an extra.

Jam (2000) TV series

Director: Chrisopher Morris

Writers: Peter Baynham, Christopher Morris, Jane Bussmann, David Quantick, Graham Linehan, Arthur Mathews

Composers: Christopher Morris, Adrian Sutton

Starring: Christopher Morris, Amelia Bullmore, David Cann, Julia Davis, Kevin Eldon, Mark Heap

More info: IMDb

Plot: A surreal, ambient mix of bleak comedy sketches.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Since I was in middle school as the 1980s began, I've been watching British TV comedy ever since and it's never let up.  In addition to the hundreds of movies I watch a year, I also burn through dozens of shows from all over the world.  At some point I discovered the genius of Chrisopher Morris when I came across his gut-bustingly funny parody on prime time news magazine shows called. BRASS EYE (1997).  I lost my shit on that one and had to seek out everything he's done.  Well I finally watched all 6 episodes of his short-lived sketch comedy show, JAM.  It's surreal and lofty and not something that most people would even finish the first episode.  I can see why it didn't last long but it is darkly funny.  It's absurd, at times deep and often very funny.  There are recurring bits that don't always work.  Some of them are one-joke gags that go on a little too long but there's a lot of funny.  Then there's the cast.  Damn, they're funny.  Mark Heap plays a recurring doctor and he's funny as shit.  He's got a face and demeanor that fits his roles beautifully.  I know Julia Davis and Kevin Eldon from their brilliant work on the harshly hilarious show NIGHTY NIGHT (2004) and it's a gas seeing them in something new (to me, that is).  This show's target audience is for a special few who appreciate dark humor.  I was curious for more by the end of the first episode but I wasn't yet sold on it.  By the end of the second, I was hooked until the end. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010)

Director: Alex Gibney

Writer: Alex Gibney

Composer: Peter Nashel

Starring: Alex Gibney, Eliot Spitzer, Hulbert Waldroup, Lloyd Constantine, Peter Elkind, Darren Dropp, Zana Brazdek, Roger Stone

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Money. Sex. Power. Betrayal.

Plot: An in-depth look at the rise and fall of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, including interviews with the scandalized, former politician.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

I hate people sometimes and particularly hate assholes.  Eliot Spitzer, by what I saw in this film, seems like a good man.  He fucked up and paid for sex which is illegal.  In this case it was a victimless crime.  I think prostitution should be legal but that's for another discussion.  Of all crimes for a man's career to be destroyed over, this is one of the silliest.  Again, Spitzer was an idiot for engaging in illegal activity.   I do admire him for at least being in this film and talking about this.  On the other side you've got his political enemies who wanted nothing more than to ruin Spitzer.  By all accounts, Spitzer was doing a lot of great things and that involved breaking some eggs.  Well these eggs didn't like it.  Roger Stone was hired to bring this man down and that's what he did.  How can you dig a guy that's got a life size head of Richard Nixon tattooed on his back?  That's all kinds of fucked up.  Anyway, Stone is a douchebag.  This film is well done, interesting and compelling.  I knew nothing of this incident and now I'm ready to watch it again.

White Fang (1973)

Original title: Zanna Bianca

Director: Lucio Fulci

Writers: Guy Elmes, Roberto Gianviti, Rhom Keyes, Jack London, Piero Regnoli, Guillaume Roux

Composer: Carlo Rustichelli

Starring: Franco Nero, Virna Lisi, Fernando Rey, John Steiner, Raimund Harmstorf, Daniel Martin, Rik Battaglia, Daniele Dublino, Maurice Poli, John Bartha

More info: IMDb

Plot:  The wolf dog, White Fang, aids a reporter, a fur trapper, a nun, a young Eskimo boy and his father of ridding a gold mining town of a sleazy crime lord in 1896 Yukon, Canada.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Think of this like it's Lassie with a vengeance.  This is a family picture but it's violent as hell...and that's what I dug about it.  The cast is filled with loads of famous names from Spaghetti Westerns and other Italian flicks from the 60s and 70s.  The movie's OK.  It gets hokey periodically but the violence that peppers it is harsh.  That poor dog, I mean wolf that looks just like a German shepherd is put through a lot.  Fang fights people, dogs and a bear.  The best thing that could've happened to him at the end of the movie is live on a farm free of predators and assholes.  I actually liked the last few minutes of this flick with Fang wandering around the recently abandoned town looking for his master.  That was nice.  Another oddity is that this was directed by famed horror director Lucio Fulci.  That would explain the abundance of violence.  I'm not one to watch family films like this but how could I resist when I'm on a mission to watch all 500+ Spaghetti Westerns and this stars Franco Nero, John Steiner, et al directed by Fulci?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

All About Eve (1950)

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Writers: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Mary Orr

Composer: Alfred Newman

Starring: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Gregory Ratoff, Barbara Bates, Marilyn Monroe, Thelma Ritter

More info: IMDb

Tagline: It's all about women---and their men!

Plot: An ingenue insinuates herself into the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

It took three attempts before I finally finished this flick.  It's good but for some reason I had a hard time getting through it.  The dialogue at times is outstanding.  There's a lot of insulting and backstabbing going on and classic Hollywood sure knew how to sling the jabs back then.  The cast does a wonderful job and the story has some twists and turns.  I'm kind of going through a George Sanders phase at the moment.  I've loved that guy's work since I was a kid.  You can't ask for a better actor suited to playing cads like this guy.  He's brutal and that voice of his is so commanding without raising the volume.   The Warner Bros. DVD looks great and like a lot of their classic releases, this one has some extras but not as many as you would think.  This disc didn't get the Warner Night at the Movies (which, frankly, every release should get - those are amazingly fun) but you do get two commentary tracks, trailers for GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT and HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, a making of featurette (24 min), a Bette Davis promo for the film (1 min), an Anne Baxter promo for the film (1 min), four brief vintage clips of awards for the film totaling about ten minutes and finally the trailer for this picture.

The Black Scorpion (1957)

Director: Edward Ludwig

Writers: David Duncan, Robert Blees, Paul Yawitz

Composer: Paul Sawtell

Starring: Richard Denning, Mara Carday, Carlos Rivas, Mario Navarro, Carlos Muzquiz, Pascual Garcia Pena, Fanny Schiller, Pedro Galvan, Arturo Martinez

More info: IMDb


Plot: Volcanic activity frees giant scorpions from the earth who wreak havoc in the rural countryside and eventually threaten Mexico City.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Good movie.  Any flick with stop motion animation from Ray Harryhausen is worth watching.  The animation is great.  You've got giant scorpions attacking trains, tanks, helicopters, eating people, and all kinds of great stuff, and there's a lot more stop motion action than what you'd usually get with these giant mutated monster movies.  The practical monsters bits don't hold up so good.  The train attack alone is worth watching.  Scorpions all over the place chasing and eating the fleeing passengers.  The final battle is fantastic with the last and biggest scorpion trying to sting Army tanks and grabbing helicopters out of the sky.  Cool.  The actors do a good job and it's mostly a Mexican cast!  The story isn't as simple as some of this type but it's far from complex.  It satisfies its genre criteria.  The Warner Bros. DVD has some extras.  You get  a 3 minute short featuring an interview with Harryhausen, a 12 min featurette from THE ANIMAL WORLD (1956) with Harryhausen talking about his work with Willis O'Brien (it's a great piece of stop motion dinosaurs in violent action), test footage from LAS VEGAS MONSTER and THE BEETLEMEN (5 minutes) (VERY cool) and trailers for THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, THE BLACK SCORPION, THE VALLEY OF GWANGI and CLASH OF THE TITANS.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Lady Terminator (1989)

Original title: Pembalasan Ratu Pantai Selatan

Director: H. Tjut Djalil

Writer: Karr Kruinowz

Composer: Ricky Brothers

Starring: Barbara Anne Constable, Christopher J. Hart, Claudia Angelique Rademaker, Joseph P. McGlynn, Adam Stardust, Ikang Fawzi

More info: IMDb

Tagline: She Mates... Then She Terminates

Plot:  The spirit of an ancient evil queen posesses the body of a young anthropological student, who then goes on a murderous rampage.

My rating:  6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

This little curiosity if fun for a while but there are a lot of slow spots that bring it down.  It's one of those movies that after you've seen it, you tend to skip the boring bits when you're telling your friends about how awesome the cool bits are and then they're hyped up to see it but find themselves bored silly for long stretches of it.  The cycle continues.  And don't think that the short running time of 80 minutes forgives all of that because it won't.  Now, having said all of that, I like the movie.  It would play best if you edited it down to thirty minutes, keeping all of the action, nudity and craziness and kept enough of the other bits to still maintain a plot thread.  The action is really fun and I'm tickled when the blatant TERMINATOR (1984) beats show up like...

I've seen this Indonesian picture at least twice now over the past 15 years or more and I think I'm done with it.  If I watch it again I'll probably fast forward through the slow bits and cut to the chase.  If this sounds like this is your kind of movie then it is.  The Mondo Macabro DVD has a great looking anamorphic widescreen print dubbed in English and a few extras.  You get the trailer (anamorphic wide), a 25 minute documentary, alternate scenes (3 min) and a 3 minute compilation of clips from other Mondo Macabro releases.  Every time I watch that clip I get hungry for more of their DVDs.  Great stuff!

The Producers (2005)

Director: Susan Stroman

Writers: Mel Brooks, Thomas Meehan

Composer: Glen Kelly

Starring: Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell, Gary Beach, Roger Bart, Eileen Essell, Michael McKean, David Huddleston, Debra Monk, Andrea Martin, Jon Lovitz

More info: IMDb

Plot: After putting together another Broadway flop, down-on-his-luck producer Max Bialystock teams up with timid accountant Leo Bloom in a get-rich-quick scheme to put on the world's worst show.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

I've been a huge fan of THE PRODUCERS (1967) since I was a teenager.  It's brilliant in its writing and in execution.  The cast couldn't have been better.  This remake has been out now for over a decade and I finally got around to watching it, something I didn't think I'd ever do.  There's nothing about this that surpasses the original but there are enough good things that it's worth mentioning.  I didn't come around to liking Broderick until the second half but I really like him in that last half.  Lane is the only choice for Max and he's hilarious as usual.  For the most part this remake was well cast.  I loved Roger Bart as Carmen Ghia.  He's very close to the original actor and he nails it.  Will Ferrell is hit and a lot of miss for me but I have to admit he was a great choice for his role as Franz.  I could go on about the rest of them but I'm ready to move on.  I was very disappointed that the character L.S.D., played so brilliantly in the original by Dick Shawn, was omitted.  The actor playing Hitler is just assumed to have been found.  Some of the new songs work for me and some don't.  The dancing was good.  For the most part I found myself liking it after I got over the newness of it.  I doubt I'll ever watch it again but I wouldn't be opposed to it.  The Universal DVD has a good looking anamorphic widescreen print.  With the extras, you get about 20 minutes of deleted scenes, 15 minutes of outtakes, analysis of a scene: "I Wanna Be a Producer" and a commentary track with director Stroman.