Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Undefeatable (1993)

Original title: Cui Hua Kuang Mo

Director: Godfrey Ho

Writers: Robert Vassar, Steve Harper, Tai Yim

Composer: Todd M. Hahn

Starring: Cynthia Rothrock, Don Niam, John Miller, Donna Jason, Sunny David, Emille Davazac, Hang Yip Yim, Richard Yuen, Gerald Klein, William Buckley, Mike Sutton, Michael Sinclair Walter

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Out of the ring, into the fire... in a fight to the finish

Plot: Kristi Jones (Rothrock) avenges her sister's death at the hands of a crazed martial arts serial killer called Stingray (Niam).

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

So...this is my first Rothrock picture I've seen and judging by it, it might be the last.  Her fighting is pretty good.  There's lots of slo-mo and you can tell she's making contact with her blows.  Her acting, though, isn't making contact.  Maybe I should cut her some slack.  It's only her 28th film.  It doesn't matter because it's not like anyone else does much better in this thing.  For a while it was pretty entertaining on some level, some of it being so bad it's good.  But there was a point where I thought this was about to wrap up so I checked the time left and I was only 50 minutes into it with 40 more to go!  That's not good.  From there on out it was a chore to get to the finish line.  Something should've been done about that.  90 minutes should not be a magic number films need to achieve, and that's especially for direct to video.  At least the fighting was good but it sure would be nice if movies like this would give you a fight in real time where and where you don't see actors pull their punches or wait to get hit.  Wouldn't it be nice if a fight lasted seconds but it was fought with real precision and speed?  If there's a better Rothrock flick out there please let me know.  I don't want to give up on this broad but I don't want to waste my time, either.  I've got stacks of shitty movies begging for me.

Winter Carousel (1958)

Original title: Carrousel Boreal

Director: Wladyslaw Starewicz

Writers: Irene Starewicz, Wladyslaw Starewicz

Composer: Daniel White

More info: IMDb

Plot: A small group of animals gathers around a frozen pond. The animals then play together on the ice and in the snow. Later, when the season changes, they look for new ways of passing the time.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

I'm such a huge fan of stop motion animation that it takes a lot for me not to like any of it.  There's so much talent that goes into making this stuff that I can't help but respect the filmmakers.  This 12 minute French film is adorable.  There isn't any dialogue so everyone can enjoy this.  I would imagine that little kids would love this.  It's only 12 minutes so that's perfect for them.  Now, if you're like me and your mind runs on the filthy side...

This isn't the only scene that had me crawling out of the gutter.  There are some truly wonderful moments in this picture that really impressed me.  The technique alone is superb.  One scene baffled me when they're all on the carousel where the background is moving in the wrong direction to the carousel.  I wonder if it's a serious error or if it was intentional.  I'm sure I'll never know as the Russian-born animation master Starewicz died in '65 at the age of 82.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Dark Stories 2: Tales from Beneath (2002)

Directors: Jonathan Brough, Brad McGann, Stuart McKenzie, Neil Pardington, Christine Parker, Robert Sarkies

Writers: Jonathan Brough, Brad McGann, Stuart McKenzie, Neil Pardington, Christine Parker, Robert Sarkies

Composer: ???

Starring: ???

More info: IMDb

Plot: A collection of short films.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Good luck finding any information about this video more than what's listed above.  The DVD looks like a VHS transfer and the credits were so fuzzy I couldn't make out who was in the cast on some of these.  This is a collection of six short films by New Zealand filmmakers. In that way you could consider this an anthology but there isn't anything tying them together so you just watching the films with their credits rolling after each one.  Some are horror-ish while others have elements of fantasy, comedy, drama and so on.  It's worth watch because some of the stories have interesting ideas and are well executed.  But with the good you also get some that might not be to your liking.   Like a lot of anthologies, it's a mixed bag.  As I said, the picture quality was pretty bad.  These films look more like they were made a decade earlier so maybe they were just released in 2002?  I wouldn't mind seeing it again but only if a really nice copy showed up.  Otherwise, I'll just be movin' on.

The Slams (1973)

Director: Jonathan Kaplan

Writer: Richard DeLong Adams

Composer: Luther Henderson

Starring: Jim Brown, Judy Pace, Roland Bob Harris, Paul Harris, Frank DeKova, Ted Cassidy, Frenchia Guizon, John Dennis, Jac Emel, Quinn K. Redeker, Dick Miller

More info: IMDb

Tagline: JIM BROWN goes over the wall to flash with a million $ stash.

Plot:  Everybody is after the $1.5 M Hook (Brown) stole from the mob and now he's inside.  All he has to do is wait out his 1-5 years but can he survive it?

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

Here's a fun movie that would've been great seeing at a drive-in forty five years ago.  It looks good, the acting is good (you know, for what it is) and there's enough action to keep the kids satisfied.  There's even a little nudity for us adults.  Oh, goody!  It's great seeing Ted Cassidy in a bigger role than usual.  He's a blast as the big bad in prison.  The ending is great and they purposefully keep you out of the loop so it comes as a big surprise as it unfolds.  I've only seen one other of director Kaplan's films from the 70s but it's one of the great ones, TRUCK TURNER (1974), being my favorite Blaxploitation picture ever.  

Monday, January 29, 2018

They Drive by Night (1938)

Director: Arthur B. Woods

Writers: James Curtis, Paul Gangelin, Derek N. Twist

Composer: Bretton Byrd

Starring: Emlyn Williams, Anna Konstam, Allan Jeayes, Ernest Thesiger, Jennie Hartley, Ronald Shiner, Anthony Holles, William Hartnell, Kitty de Legh, Joe Cunningham, Yolande Terrell, Julie Barrie

More info: IMDb

Plot: A convict, just out of prison, is implicated in a murder and goes on the run, hitching a ride with a truck driver.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

In the first ten minutes Shorty (Williams) discovers the dead body of Alice, his old girlfriend.  He does the wrong thing and flees but on his way out the landlady stops him and asks questions.  BIG mistake.  Those few minutes grabbed me by the short and curlies.  I cared about Shorty for some reason and I was frightened for him.  This well made thriller has Shorty almost getting caught several times and it's up to him and others to keep that from happening.  There's a good deal of tension in this story and it's well played out all the way to the end.  The real killer doesn't seem a likely fit but he is and the last few minutes set up another chance for him to strike again.  It, too, is nicely played out.  For a flick from the 30s, this is pretty damn suspenseful and it's one of the earliest takes on the serial killer that I'm aware of that doesn't have a monster or Jack the Ripper as the killer.  I don't know why they titled it the way they did.  He's only riding/driving trucks for a little while.  I don't know where the 'they' come into it either.

Dr. Strange (1978)

Director: Philip DeGuere Jr.

Writer: Philip DeGuere Jr.

Composer: Paul Chihara

Starring: Peter Hooten, Clyde Kusatsu, Jessica Walter, Anne-Marie Martin, Philip Sterling, John Mills, June Barrett, Sarah Rush, Ted Cassidy

More info: IMDb

Tagline: In Every Age And Time, One Of Us Is Called To Join The Battle.

Plot: A psychiatrist becomes the new Sorcerer Supreme of the Earth in order to battle an evil Sorceress from the past.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This TV movie feels like it was made with the potential of becoming a series.  As history points didn't.  Thankfully.  It's dreadfully boring.  There's drama, hospital drama, fantasty-ish drama, romance drama and then finally in the final third the comic book business moves fast enough for Dr. Strange to become his supernatural namesake and then he battles Morgan LeFay (played by Jessica Walters whom I didn't recognize, shame on me for missing that).  That's the big fight at the end and it's over all too quickly.  The whole picture is a ticket to Yawnsville.  It's not even good as a TV movie.  Apparently it aired against ROOTS (1977) and the ratings weren't good.  I can't imagine the ratings would've been much better if it aired against commercials.  Ugh.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl (1954)

Director: Lew Landers

Writers: Aubrey Wisberg, Jack Polloxfen

Composer: Paul Sawtell

Starring: Anthony Dexter, Eva Gabor, Alan Hale Jr., James Seay, Richard Karlan, Noel Cravat, Lyle Talbot, Sonia Sorel, Michael Ross, Jack Reitzen, Robert Long, William Cottrell, William Tannen, John Crawford, William Schallert

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Swords Unsheathed! Love Untamed!

Plot: Captain Kidd, presumed dead, escapes the gallows and sails the seas once again but this time he's going to dig up his hidden treasure to buy a pardon from the king.  The trouble is, there are plenty of others that want that booty for themselves.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

What this picture might lack in some areas, it doesn't lack in action and pacing.  It's lickety split right from the get go.  The acting isn't that bad but Gabor shows enough range (from bad to acceptable) to let that slide a little.  Dexter does a good job as our titular pirate hero and it's nice to see Hale Jr. as his sidekick just as his pop was for so many of Errol Flynn's pictures.  He's great.  I've never seen him otherwise.  The music is rousing and there's lots of locations, although it would've been nicer to see more outdoor shooting.  The biggest problem, if I have one, is that most of it is filmed in a studio and even the sets sometimes look clumsy (there were a couple times I saw them move unexpectedly).  Oh, and then there's Dexter's facial hair that looks like it was done with a marker.

That's OK because I don't have the hots for him.  I've now got it bad for Sonia Sorel as pirate Captain Anne Bonney!

Man, that broad was smokin' hot!  I missed my chance with her.  She died in '04 in her 80s.  She's the mother of Keith & Robert Carradine and Michael Bowen.  You know who Bowen is, right?  Remember in KILL BILL Vol. 1 (2003) and the line "...sometimes this chick's cooch will get drier than a bucket of sand."?  He's Buck and he likes to fuck.

Busting (1974)

Director: Peter Hyams

Writer: Peter Hyams

Composer: Billy Goldenberg

Starring: Eliott Gould, Robert Blake, Allen Garfield, Antonio Fargas, Michael Lerner, Sid Haig, Ivor Francis, William Sylvester, Logan Ramsey, Richard X. Slattery

More info: IMDb

Tagline: What this film exposes about undercover vice cops can't be seen on your television set.

Plot: LA cops Gould and Blake get in over their heads when they don't heed orders from above and go after a big crime boss. While higher ups in the police department want the cop duo to just focus on nabbing petty criminals, the team does so while still going after LA kingpin Rizzo. Various fist fights, chases, shootouts and other carnage occur as the two cops go after Rizzo's crime syndicate.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I dig a lot of Peter Hyams' work.  This is his first feature film and it's impressive for a first picture.  The teaming of Gould and Blake isn't as good as it could've been.  Gould doesn't play menacing anger well but he's got a lot of likability and that goes a long way.  The story has these guys in a seemingly futile quest to take down a big crime kingpin and they come up short at every turn despite their penchant for breaking the rules.  The tone of the film isn't necessarily an action crime comedy.  It does have one foot firmly in the gritty cop action drama but the other one inches closer to the funny without actually being funny which feels intentional.  These two guys are wisecracking hard-nosed cops swimming in their own frustration at how difficult it really is to bust the big guys and keep them down.  There's a foot chase that goes through a food market that is fucking outstanding.  It's worth watching the movie for that scene alone.  The camera is constantly moving and rolling along, following the action in almost a seamless and tension-filled manner.  It's brilliant.  There's a chase at the end of the picture that uses the same technique but it's considerably shorter but the intensity is there.  I was frozen with excitement and the former chase is rather long.  It's a good flick that's worth a look and do be sure to stick around for the ending when the bad guy is laughing with a gun pointed at his face.  What happens right after that and as the credits roll was fucking outstanding.  Man I dig 70s cinema!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Nashville Girl (1976)

Director: Gus Trikonis

Writer: Peer J. Oppenheimer

Composer: Kim Richmond

Starring: Monica Gayle, Glenn Corbett, Roger Davis, Johnny Rodriguez, Jesse White, Marcie Barkin, Shirley Jo Finney, Judith Roberts, Leo Gordon

More info: IMDb

Tagline: All she wanted was a break. All they wanted was her body.

Plot: A young country girl has aspriations of being a country music star and finds that the road to stardom is paved with bastard sons of bitches.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Jesus, most of the men in this movie are fucking assholes.  This well acted and well made flick is so much better than you'd expect and I didn't expect much.  I was thinking I was in for a cheap hicksploitation picture that used the standard road to stardom to frame a bunch of boobs.  It starts out like a decent 70s exploitation flick but that's just the first few minutes.  Once things start moving for Jaime (Gayle) the more I realized that I was in for something very different.  For a music drama like this there is a good deal of nudity but at least some of it is not exploitation-y.  It's still a nice addition.  She meets a lot of assholes as she's trying to get into the music business in Nashville and it continues throughout the rest of the picture.  The songs are average but the one she sang repeatedly during her auditions is really good.  The last few minutes had me thinking this could suddenly jump back into exploitation mode (like the first few) but it doesn't.  It does end on a powerful upbeat. 

Mean Mother (1974)

AKA: Soul Brother

Directors: Al Adamson, Leon Klimovsky

Writers: Joy Garrison, Charles Eric Johnson

Composers: Vic Caesar, Roberto Pregadio

Starring: Dobie Gray, Dennis Safren, Luciana Paluzzi, Lang Jeffries, Marilyn Joi, Bedy Moratti, Albert Cole, Al Richardson, Robyn Hilton

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Super Cool & Wild! Smashing the Man and the Mob for his Women!

Plot: Two Vietnam deserters go their separate ways, become criminals and are eventually reunited.

My rating: 3/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

What the hell, man!  This is the third or fourth movie I've seen in a week that has been completely misrepresented in some major way.  This is NOT a Blaxploitation flick.  It's a little bit of action and a lot of drama and boring on top of that.  The word on the street is that producer Samuel M. Sherman bought the U.S. distribution rights to a Spanish film called RUN FOR YOUR LIFE (1971) and, in an effort to make it something U.S. audiences would rather see, he added new footage with black actors, changing the story a little and changing the title for a more exploitation/Blaxploitation crowd.  It failed so badly that I don't even want to see RUN FOR YOUR LIFE even though it's got a much higher IMDb user score.  I'm fucking pissed.  I've been in the mood for a Blaxpolitation picture and this is twice in a row that I was promised one and got something completely different instead. The fight scenes are clumsily choreographed (just watch the first ten minutes for a few unintentional laughs).  The acting is what you'd expect for an Al Adamson picture except better when you're watching the stuff he didn't film. If I saw this at the theater in the 70s based on that poster I would've been super fucking pissed.  Skip it. 

There is one great thing about this that would be criminal to leave out. Remember this broad?

I never thought I'd ever get to see those glorious cans exposed but here they are...

Friday, January 26, 2018

Death Takes a Holiday (1934)

Director: Mitchell Leisen

Writers: Maxwell Anderson, Gladys Lehman, Alberto Casella, Walter Ferris

Composers: Bernhard Kaun, John Leipold, Milan Roder

Starring: Frederic March, Evelyn Venable, Guy Standing, Katharine Alexander, Gail Patrick, Helen Westley, Kathleen Howard, Kent Taylor, Henry Travers, G.P. Huntley, Otto Hoffman

More info: IMDb


Plot: The Grim Reaper takes the form of a prince in an attempt to relate to humans and, along the way, also learns what it is to love.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

It's an interesting yet predictable (except for maybe the ending) idea but it's marred with such melodramatic acting.  So many actors are either tap dancing on the line of overacting or they're embracing it.  Now I fully understand that this type of acting was prevalent back then but gee whiz.  If you close your eyes you can almost see the heads tilted back with the back of their hands pressed against their foreheads.  That aside, the movie's OK along with the pacing.  The opening special effects with the cars and the shadow were very nicely done.  That was the best part and then came an hour and twelve minutes of meh.

Kenner (1968) movie poster

Director: Steve Sekely

Writers: Mary P. Murray, Robert L. Richards, Harold Clemins

Composers: Prem Dhawan, Piero Piccioni

Starring: Jim Brown, Madlyn Rhue, Robert Coote, Ricky Cordell, Charles Horvath, Prem Nath, Kuljit Singh, Sulochana Latkar, Ursula Prince

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The daring manhunt that turns exotic Bombay into a hellhole of terror!

Plot: An American travels to India to avenge the murder of his business partner. But on the path to vengeance he discovers both love and responsibility.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

WARNING:  This has nothing to do with vintage Star Wars toys.

See!  Crickets fight to the death!  Seriously, in the last act Kenner (Brown) attends an underground cricket fight where two crickets go into the Thunderdome and only one comes out.  I was falsely under the impression this was an action flick / borderline Blaxploition but that's my fault for not knowing anything about this except the brief plot synopsis.  The action is doled out sparingly which is more foot chases and an occasional fistfight.  There aren't many of either.  The rest of it has Kenner bonding with a young Indian boy and his hot mama.  The action/mystery part of the story isn't exciting and it doesn't take much sleuthing to get Kenner to take out his target (the cricket fight plays a part of it).  The romance part is by the numbers and slow as you'd expect.  The kid (Cordell) helps sell the flick.  He's very good.  This is the first starring role for Brown and he does a decent job of carrying the film.  As someone who had recently gotten into acting, I'd say he does just fine.  I'll cut him some slack especially considering the dialogue he's given in this was clunky every once in a while.  He and the kid have a good rapport but as a piece of entertainment it's a little better than average.  I just wish I had at least watched the trailer first. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Filth Shop (1969)

Director: Looney Bear

Starring: Susan Sex, Lover Lee, Sid Burns, Louise Log, Looney Bear, Janet Banzet, Kim Lewid

More info: IMDb


Plot: Lola Lust and Satan look upon the seedy side of town in NYC to find sexy and evil people to bring down to Hell for some partying.

My rating: 3/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

It starts out promising with lots of folks milling about the streets of NYC with the titty bars, movie theaters, sex book shops and so on.  THAT is fun as hell but it doesn't last long.  Soon we see Lola Lust and Satan (wearing an eye mask and looking not at all like the devil) sitting on a couch watching TV but what they're watching is a couple making out.  Then it's two chick in a bathtub and then something else and so on.  That's not so bad.  It's the usual B&W nudie stuff you'd expect but what makes this all but unwatchable is Lola and the devil giving a running commentary without any consideration to anyone watching this dreck.  It's just awful.  They never shut up...ever.  Jesus Palomino this is bad.

The Autobiography of a 'Jeep' (1943)

Directors: Irving Lerner, Joseph Krumgold

Writer: Joseph Krumgold

Starring: ???

More info: IMDb

Plot: The invention and use of a jeep are described, from the viewpoint of one of the vehicles.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Back during WWII they were churning out one Jeep every two minutes.  Wow!   This picture throws out a lot of information in nine and a half minutes and it's entertaining to boot!  It's great seeing WWII footage of the different locales from across the globe as well as, my favorite, seeing the vehicles go through obstacle courses.  The film is very informative and entertaining.  The way this film portrays it, this is one hell of a versatile vehicle and you'd almost be lead to believe that it was was going to almost single-handily win the War.  I can imagine how uplifting this would be to audiences at that time.  It's optimistic and enjoyable.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Black Archer (1959)

Original title: L'arciere Nero

Director: Piero Pierotti

Writers: Giorgio Costantino, Giacomo Gentilomo, Piero Pierotti

Composer: Tarcisio Fusco

Starring: Gerard Landry, Federica Ranchi, Livio Lorenzon, Carla Strober, Nino Marchesini, Franco Fantasia, Tom Felleghy, Andrea Fantasia

More info:  IMDb

Plot: A mysterious archer who dresses in black is out for revenge against the bandits who killed his father.

The Black Archier (1959) from Surf Film on Vimeo.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This Italian Zorro-ish swashbuckler wants to hang with the big dogs of the Hollywood adventures.  I'll give the filmmakers points for trying, though.  It looks pretty darn good.  The English dub isn't bad but it does hurt the film somewhat.  I would have preferred the original Italian dub but you take what you can take.  They're not trying to re-invent the swashbuckling costumer wheel but they do a fairly good job at making one.  There's a bad guy to hiss at (complete with a bad leg and a bad arm, plus he's nearly bald and has facial hair that says he's up to no good) and a good guy to root for.  It helps to see this in widescreen.  The print was decent enough to enjoy.  Landry makes a capable hero but he isn't the dashing good looking guy you usually see in these kinds of pictures.  He looks a bit older than you'd expect, too.  I suppose if he were a fun and familiar face this would fare better.  As it is, it's not too bad but it's not good enough to be memorable. 

Hi, Mom! (1970)

Director: Brian De Palma

Writers: Brian De Palma, Charles Hirsch

Composer: Eric Kaz

Starring: Robert De Niro, Jennifer Salt, Gerrit Graham, Ruth Alda, Allen Garfield, Charles Durning, Paul Bartel

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The "right on" movie

Plot: A Vietnam vet moves into an apartment and views in other people's windows across the street, meets one of the women, and discovers black theater.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

At times this feels like a group of friends got together to have some fun shooting a picture.  It's got structure to a point.  Sometimes the movie stops just to have a comedy bit and then continues back up again and then there are the times where it stops to give some social commentary.  It's disjointed but interesting nonetheless because this is an early film of De Palma and De Niro.  Fans of either should check this out.  It's a one-time watch but it has some worth.  It's occasionally funny but not much.  It's more mildly amusing.  Charles Durning plays a slumlord showing De Niro a shitty apartment in the beginning of the film.  I found this the most enjoyable bit in the film, even if I wasn't aware of the local TV commercial it was parodying. The MGM DVD looks great in anamorphic widescreen and the only extra is the trailer (also anamorphic wide).

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Clone High (2002) TV series

Creators: Bill Lawrence, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Composers: Jamie Dunlap, Scott Nickoley

Starring: Will Forte, Phil Lord, Michael McDonald, Christa Miller, Christopher Miller, Nicole Sullivan, Donald Faison, Neil Flynn, Andy Dick, Murray Miller

More info: IMDb

Plot: The greatest minds of the world have been cloned, and are now attending high school together.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I caught bits and pieces of this when it originally aired and I always meant to watch the short lived series from star to finish.  Now that I've done it I can move on with my life.  The concept is brilliant but the execution is spotty.  The voice actors are great and I dig many of the characters.  Even though they occasionally bring in a famous historical figure, they don't last long and they're often just there for a quick laugh and move on.  Mining the endless possibilities would have been nice.  Gandhi is my favorite.  He's hilarious.  Lincoln, not so much.  He was the exact opposite of Gandhi.  Where Gandhi was a wild card and fully of zest, Lincoln was the angsty teenager who had one thing on his mind and that's being in love with Cleopatra.  He was very predictable.  Most of the characters were predictable but not Gandhi.  I rarely laughed at anything relating to Principal Scudworth and all of his B-stories.  That was a waste.  The last of the thirteen episodes ends as if it might but won't return.  I'd love to rate this higher but even though there are some incredibly funny bits throughout the thirteen episodes, there's also a lot more that's not funny but rather loud and obnoxious in the attempt at getting a laugh.  It's hit and miss but when it hits, it's hysterical.

The Big Job (1965)

Director: Gerald Thomas

Writers: Talbot Rothwell, John Antrobus

Composer: Eric Rogers

Starring: Sidney James, Sylvia Syms, Dick Emery, Joan Sims, Lance Percival, Jim Dale, Edina Ronay, Deryck Guyler, Reginald Beckwith

More info: IMDb

Tagline: WANTED in connection with THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY otherwise know as...

Plot: An inept gang of bank robbers, led by George The Brain, are caught and sentenced to 15 years hard labor. When they are released from prison they start out to collect the money they had stolen and which George had hidden in a hollow tree during the chase in which they were caught. The only trouble is that the tree was in the middle of a lonely lane when they were imprisoned.  Now, 15 years later, the tree is in the backyard of a Police Station.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

At best it's mildly entertaining.  People do predictably stupid things.  The criminals are optimistically idiotic and the police are dumb and inept.  I didn't laugh once.  I'm familiar with a lot of the cast and I like their personalities.  They're occasionally funny in other movies and they've got more comedy chops than most actors do these days but the scripts just aren't all that funny.  I'm not opposed to this kind of humor but I'm growing tire of seeing mediocre (at best) pictures.  If you like to be mildly amused then this might be for you.  My expectations were high when I saw the cast in the opening credits but dipped when the director's name appeared.  Gerald Thomas directed all of the CARRY ON pictures in the 50s, 60s and 70s.  That's when I feared the worst.  You might consider this a CARRY ON side project considering the talent in front of and behind the camera.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Dirty Cop No Donut (1999)

AKA: Low Down Dirty Cop

Director: Tim Ritter

Writer: Tim Ritter

Starring: Joel D. Winkoop, Bill Cassinelli, Michael Hoffman Jr., Andrew Gulbrandsen, Lindsay Horgan, Kathleen Ritter, Gertina Willemse

More info: IMDb

Tagline: It's NOT just a movie!

Plot: A "shockumentary" which follows Officer Friendly, a psychotic policeman, on a rampage of sex, drugs, murder and other worldly pleasures.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Here's another example of the boneheads who added 'comedy' to this film's genre section on IMDb.  It's not funny at all and the only thing where writer/director Ritter tried anything remotely funny was at the end where you read what happened to each of the cop's victims.  This is essentially a found footage like video that follows what seems like a rogue cop over the course of one night as he wreaks havoc on everyone he encounters.  I suppose it's not an easy role for an actor but Wynkoop doesn't handle it well.  Maybe in small spurts he's tolerable but after a short while it gets old fast and getting to the end of the short run time of 77 minutes is a chore.  For starters he doesn't feel real enough.  He's got his moments but there's a lot of repetition in his dialogue which grows stale by the minute.  If you made a drinking game of taking a shot every time he says "boy" you'd be hammered in minutes.  Maybe I should've done that...but I didn't I was young and needed the money.  The biggest question I had was how will this end for Officer Friendly and it's not interesting, compelling or satisfying except for one thing and that's the title card that immediately follows the scene that tells us a little about him that fills us in on what's going on with this guy.  It's an OK flick at best.  It's a criminal endurance test.

The Female Animal (1958)

Director: Harry Keller

Writers: Robert Hill, Albert Zugsmith

Composer: Hans J. Salter

Starring: Hedy Lamarr, Jane Powell, Jan Sterling, George Nader, Jerry Paris, Gregg Palmer, Mabel Albertson, James Gleason

More info: IMDb

Tagline: It is said that when a woman fights for a man, she is like an ANIMAL!

Plot: An aging film star and her alcoholic daughter compete for a handsome extra.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I think I have face the fact that I have a man crush on George Nader.  Good lookin' bastard.  And that physique!  Geez.  I need to exercise.  The cast does a fine job and it's a good looking film.  Everything is going all nicely until the last few minutes when the story starts to wrap up and they resolve it too quick.  It seems to me that there should've been something more to the story to create more drama and tension.  The ending is a disappointment to say the least.  Chris (Nader) falls too quickly for Penny (Powell).  They do a decent job of Chris' falling out of love with Vanessa (Heddy) but having yet another relationship that's love at first sight gets tedious.  At least that trope has died down for the most part over the decades.  I dig the setting of behind the scenes Hollywood.  I watched this sooner than later because I was in the mood for a film noir and I dig the cast but THIS IS NOT a film noir as stated on IMDb.  The IMDb users can be so dumb.  There is no criminal element to this film at all.  It's a love triangle that doesn't work out for one person and that's as dark as it gets.  This was Lamarr's final film...before she died 42 years later.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writers: Michael Green, Agatha Christie

Composer: Patrick Doyle

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Derek Jacobi, Olivia Colman

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Everyone is a Suspect.

Plot: When a murder occurs on the train he's travelling on, celebrated detective Hercule Poirot is recruited to solve the case.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Branagh's Poirot is fun.  I liked him a lot, actually, and I dug everyone else.  I was even surprised that I liked Depp for a change.  It seems that, at least in the past fifteen or so years, that if he's playing a non-quirky role that he's boring.  I don't like most of quirky roles either but at least here he's doing some acting and he's doing a fine job of it.  I think this might be the only Agatha Christie movie I've seen besides the 1974 version of this film which starred Albert Finney in the Poirot role.  I might have seen DEATH ON THE NILE (1978) in the early 80s.  But the only thing I remember from the '74 ORIENT is who committed the murder.  What Branagh & co. do with the ending in this one is very, very nicely handled, although the Last Supper shot of all of the suspects is so blatantly obvious and silly I couldn't control myself from giggling.  I'm sure my neighbors in the theater didn't appreciate it but it was a gut reaction.  For the most part the movie is quite enjoyable however it suffers around the two-thirds mark for about a half hour with the pacing.  It slows down a great deal and I started to lose interest.  Except for the dumb Jesus moment in the end, the climax was nicely handled.  When I saw it last month in the theater there was already talk of the sequel, DEATH ON THE NILE, having already been greenlit.  Goody.

Zardoz (1974)

Director: John Boorman

Writer: John Boorman

Composer: David Munrow

Starring: Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman, John Alderton, Sally Anne Newton, Niall Buggy, Bosco Hogan, Jessica Swift, Bairbre Dowling

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Beyond 1984, Beyond 2001, Beyond Love, Beyond Death

Plot: In the distant future, a savage trained only to kill finds a way into the community of bored immortals that alone preserves humanity's achievements.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

In the last thirty plus years I'd seen this twice until this week.  Now having seen it as an adult and with my cinematic language more fluent, I understand why I didn't like this in my youth.  I used to think it was too slow and boring.  I always dug the plentiful (and great) nudity but the heady sci-fi aspect of it eluded me back then.  Now I really dig it.  Not only do I appreciate what Boorman was getting at, I like how he went about it.  For first time viewers it can take a while to get past Connery's crazy threads...

...but the overall look of the film oozes with science fiction goodness in the sets and ideas.

My attention span for films has improved since I was a teenager and I'm catching so much more than I ever did.  I enjoyed it so much that I listened to the commentary track from Boorman the next day.  It's very informative, interesting and entertaining.  Boorman knows how to lay down a commentary.  The 20th Century Fox DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen and the only other extra you get is the theatrical trailer.  If you've never seen it, it's worthy but be prepared for the pacing which some may find too slow.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Damage (2009)

Director: Jeff King

Writer: Frank Hannah

Composer: Peter Allen

Starring: Steven Austin, Walton Goggins, Laura Vandervoort, Donnelly Rhodes, Joe Costa, Lynda Boyd, Scott McNeil

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Bring The Pain.

Plot: An ex-con battles it out in the cage to pay for the operation that would save the daughter of his victim. Along the way he finds fatherly love, and friendship, in the most unlikely of places.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This OK movie has a little something to like and that's the always fun Walton Goggins and Steve Austin who has a likeable personality even if it's always too subtle. As expected the story is pretty simple but as long as you punch it up with some quality action and fun then who cares, right?  I care.  The fights aren't executed well enough.  The edits are fast and the fighters wait to be hit and sometimes the wait is as painful as the punch.  It was worth seeing for Goggins and to a lesser extent Austin.  I wouldn't call this a fun movie but it's slightly above average for an action movie.  I'm guessing the story could've been punched up a little to make it better.  Having better fight choreography would've helped more but it's definitely not the fix the movie needed. The 20th Century Fox DVD sports a nice anamorphic widescreen image with the only extras in two trailers for WRONG TURN 3 and 12 ROUNDS, neither of which have anything to do with Steve Austin or this movie.

Tread Softly Stranger (1958)

Director: Gordon Parry

Writers: Jack Popplewell, George Minter, Denis O'Dell

Composer: Tristram Cary

Starring: Diana Dors, George Baker, Terence Morgan, Patrick Allen, Jane Griffiths, Joseph Tomelty, Thomas Heathcote, Russell Napier

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Some men don't understand a GOOD-TIME GIRL!

Plot: An irresistible temptress causes trouble between two brothers when the more handsome charismatic ones turns up, leading to robbery and death.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

After seeing ROOM 43 (1958) recently and noticing the hubba hubbaliciousness of Diana Dors for the first time, I was hooked on this broad.  Wow was she smokin'!  So I hopped on the chance to see her in another picture from the same era and boy oh boy does she exude sex appeal even more than Marilyn Monroe!  Monroe was hot but this broad takes it up to a naughtier level.

Oh, so how's the picture?  It's good.  The performances are good and the story plays out nicely.  There was an unexpected moment near the end that took me by surprise.  But like a good Coen brothers picture, the crime doesn't go as planned and shit gets real and fast.  I actually felt for the bad guys.  Anyway, it's a pretty exciting flick once the day of the robbery begins all the way to the end.  I'm impressed.  I'm not familiar with the director or any of his work but there are some interesting titles in his filmography.