Sunday, April 22, 2018

More Dead Than Alive (1969)

Director: Robert Sparr

Writer: George Schenck

Composer: Philip Springer

Starring: Clint Walker, Vincent Price, Anne Francis, Paul Hampton, Craig Littler, Mike Henry, Clarke Gordon, Beverly Powers, William Woodson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Killers in pairs... death by the dozen... They left the west... More Dead than Alive.

Plot: When the multiple murderer Cain is released from prison after 18 years, he wants to settle down as a rancher and never touch a gun again. But his former life haunts him; not only that nobody wants to give him a job, some villains also want to pay him back. So he has to accept the offer of showman Ruffalo to perform as "Killer Cain" in his traveling shooting show. However after 18 years without practice even Ruffalo's young assistant Billy shoots better than Cain.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

This is one of three feature films from director Robert Sparr, who worked almost exclusively in TV.  Composer Philip Springer had four credits prior to this picture and two were in TV.  All of this adds up to...this movie sometimes feels like it was made by folks with a TV sensibility, especially in the score.  Springer's music is thin, light and comical - all of which work against the film.  It's pretty bad.  That's almost the only bad I can about this. It's still a very good movie thanks to things like Clint Walker's stoic performance which works in his favor.  Sometimes his style doesn't quite fit the role but in this one he's great.  Vincent Price is great as always but it's a different role for him and I loved it.  It's nice to see him away from the horror pictures during this period.  Everyone else in the cast does a fine job.  Now, the story feels like one you've probably seen before but writer George Schenck (another almost exclusive to the television industry) adds some things to it that make this one stand out.  What happens with Ruffalo (Price) is a shocker and everything from there to the end put a jaw-dropping grin on my face.  Don't read any spoilers on this picture because the ending was balls-out fucking brutal and incredible.  Craig Littler is ferocious.  The only other thing I don't like about this picture is the corny song that's sung at the end.  Silence would've served the film better or at least an burst of an ominous orchestral minor chord.  Cool fact...Clint Walker is coming up on his 91st birthday.  This film came next after his great turn in THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967).

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Commander (1988)

Original title: Der Commander

Director: Antonio Margheriti

Writers: Tito Carpi, Arne Elsholtz, Giacomo Furia

Composer: Walter Baumgartner

Starring: Lewis Collins, Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Manfred Lehmann, Brett Halsey, Chat Silayan, Hans Leutenegger, Christian Bruckner, Frank Glaubrecht

More info: IMDb

Plot: Major Colby leads a group of mercenaries whose mission is to protect a disc full of secrets, located in South Asia.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

It's not all that good but it does have Lee Van Cleef in one of his last roles and he's in the movie a lot more than you'd think.  Now he doesn't participate in the action but he does have a good amount of screen time.  Donald Pleasence has considerably less.  Some of the action is pretty decent but none of it is memorable enough to recommend.  The acting is no better or worse than other cheap Italian made action flicks riding the wave of popularity brought on by the Rambo pictures.  The stuff the commandos go through could easily be placed in a Vietnam flick and no one would know the difference.  It's OK and it's elevated a little because of the inclusion of Cleef and Pleasence and nothing more.The biggest problem the picture has is it's an hour and forty minutes long, which is much longer than it needed to be, and it takes half the picture before the commandos begin their mission and the action starts.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Long Wait (1954)

Director: Victor Saville

Writers: Mickey Spillane, Alan Green, Lesser Samuels

Composer: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco

Starring: Anthony Quinn, Charles Cobern, Gene Evans, Peggie Castle, Mary Ellen Kay, Shirley Patterson, Dolores Donlon, Barry Kelley, James Millican, Bruno VeSota, Jay Adler, John Damler, Frank Marlowe

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Three Thrill-Hungry Dames Played Me For A Sucker...Now it's my turn!

Plot: An amnesiac finally learns his true a murder suspect. And he doesn't even know whether he is guilty.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Would you believe that this was Quinn's almost 70th picture and he still wasn't a star by this point?  It'd be about another ten years before that would happen.  Well, he was well cast in the starring roll in this flick.  He was pretty good at playing a tough guy with a more sensitive side.  The slower pacing brings the picture down a bit.  It's only a 90 picture but it easily feels like two hours.  Everyone does a fine job and there are some nice shots but it doesn't quite add up to being great.  The thing about the story is (which is both good and bad) Johnny (Quinn) has amnesia and he's trying to figure out what really happened and who the players are in the bank robbery and murder he's been fingered for.  So he's in the dark as much as the audience but there's also a lot of searching and questions along the way before he knows the truth.  I found it interesting to a point but it felt a little long in the tooth.  By the end I was glad it was finally over but I felt satisfied.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Gunshy (1998)

Director: Jeff Celentano

Writer: Larry Gross

Composer: Hal Lindes

Starring: William Petersen, Michael Wincott, Diane Lane, Kevin Gage, Michael Byrne, R. Lee Ermey, Meat Loaf

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Cold-blooded killers.

Plot: When the New York journalist Jake Bridges catches his girlfriend with another guy, he goes to Atlantic City to drink himself to oblivion. He is saved from a bar brawl by a small-time mobster Frankie, and Jake falls in love with Frankie's girlfriend Melissa. Jake soon also joins Frankie in his money-collecting duties.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Good flick.  Some might find it a little slow but it's a good crime drama with some good acting (Wincott is always interesting).  The story might seem like it's by the numbers but it's not.  It goes places I didn't expect and that's a big plus.  There's a little action when there needs to be but it's mostly about the relationship between Jake (Petersen), Frankie (Wincott) and Melissa (Lane).  The ending is great.  Fans of Ermey or Meat Loaf might be disappointed.  They're only in the film for a little bit and all of it is in the first twenty minutes.  I was hoping for more but what's there is good. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Forbidden Women (1948)

Director: Eduardo de Castro

Writer: ???

Composers: Josefino Cenizal, Apolinar Rojas

Starring: Fernando Poe, Berting Labra, Mona Lisa, Fernando Royo, Luningning, Bimbo Danao

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Death Was the Penalty for All Men Who Dared Contact the "Forbidden Women"

Plot: After studying in America, South Seas Prince Sigore returns home with plans to change things on his island. He's opposed by the sultan's sister-in-law, who has plans to control the paradise, and is infatuated with the Forbidden Women and their sensuous ways.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

This Filipino production isn't all that bad.  It's not all that good but there are some nice things in here.  The performances run from bad to good but the costumes, sets and outdoor locations are rather nice.  The story is one of basic intrigue where you have someone becoming the leader of a country but someone else wants that seat and has them killed (at least they think that) so that he can come back and take the crown back and all is well by the end.  The difference here is that an American producer bought the picture, sexed up the title and added some saucy bits (so says the internet).  That's another nice bonus.  If only Spielberg had done that with some of his pictures.  Geez.

The film clocks in at barely an hour so it's not much more than a hearty snack.  Unfortunately the naughty bits are closer to the beginning of the picture and not spread out.  

Monday, April 16, 2018

Black Panther (2018)

Director: Ryan Coogler

Writers: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole

Composer: Ludwig Goransson

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Long live the king.

Plot: When King T'Challa returns to his home nation of the secluded but technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda, he is put to the test as both king of his country and Black Panther when he is drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the world at risk. To defeat his enemies and protect his countries, the king must rally his allies and unleash the power of Black Panther.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

I can't find any fault with this flick...not that I ever look for faults.  It's just good all the way around.  There's so much about it that's refreshing to see and hear from the look, costumes, story, music, sound design, the works.  The MCU keeps getting better.  And after this and the latest Thor movie, the next Avengers flick had better deliver and not take a step back like AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015).  The acting is solid.  Hell, I even teared up a couple of times.  It was touching.  Winston Duke had some funny moments.  He reminded me a little of Brian Blessed as Prince Vultan from FLASH GORDON (1980), so much so that I wished he'd gone full Blessed and run with it.  He would've stolen the show which is probably why he didn't.  Damnit.  The future tech was cool.  Somebody needs to open up a WakandaWorld so I can go hang out there.  It's beautiful.  Stan Lee's cameo is hilarious as usual.  I'm glad they didn't go full GotG with the comedy.  That would've hurt but there are some laughs and they're earned.  I'm looking forward to seeing Black Panther in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR in a few short days.  It's remarkable how the creative team behind these flicks are able to manage/juggle so many wonderful characters.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Eliminators (2001)

AKA: Amandianeze

Director: Bond Emeruwa

Writers: Paul Uzomah, Cardinal Chukwujama, Chuks Obiora, Emma Ayalogu

Starring: Nkem Owoh, Clems Ohameze, Patience Ozokwor, Ngozi Exeonu, Charles Awurum, Uche Ndigwe, Emma Ayalogu, Tony Anyasodo, Enebechi Alor, Ifeanyi Odikaesieme, Andy Ike, Princess Ezeh, Patrical Ezeani

More info: ???

Tagline: There is no act to find the minds construction in the face.  Only men with vaulting ambition can tell.

Plot: The Exterminators is about a couple of businessmen wanting to do anything for power and money. It's a story of greed, lust and violence... Nigerian style!

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Well, I broke my Nollywood cherry and I don't feel so good about it.  I'm not familiar with the Nigerian film industry but if this is any indication then it needs help but please don't give your money to that Nigerian prince who will promise great riches in return.  The actors are speaking English but the accents are thick and I found it difficult at times to understand.  I was able to get enough of it to get a feel of what was going on.  It's not a complicated story.  It's obvious from the start that there was very little money poured into this.  The acting is raw and rather good all things considering.  The actresses are great.  A lot of the players bring a lot of passion to their roles and it looks like that despite the budget and probably talent, everyone involved worked hard to make the best movie they could.  The locations are very limited and are mostly similar which helps allow boredom creep in.  I'm sure this isn't a good example of what Nigeria produced and even though I didn't like it, I'm still keen to give other Nollywood films a go.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Story of Temple Drake (1933)

Director: Stephen Roberts

Writers: Oliver H.P. Garrett, William Faulkner, Maurine Dallas Watkins

Composers: Karl Hajos, Bernhard Kaun

Starring: Miriam Hopkins, William Gargan, Jack La Rue, Forence Eldridge, Guy Standing, Irving Pichel, Jobyna Howland, William Collier Jr.

More info: IMDb

Tagline: You won't even tell your husband the story-but you'll never-never forget it

Plot: Temple Drake is a Southern belle who leads men on with her sexuality but usually leaves them wanting. She's loved by lawyer Stephen Benbow, whom she likes but doesn't love. While out carousing with one of her beaus, she finds herself stranded with a gang of bootleggers, one of whom, Trigger, rapes her and makes her his sex slave. When another man is accused of a murder Trigger committed, Stephen defends him and sets out to find Trigger. But he isn't prepared for whom he finds with Trigger, or what she's become.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I can see how this would've been shocking back in the day.  It has one of the earliest and most effective (especially for its time) rape scenes I've seen, as far as 1930s rapes go, that is.  The lights go out and there's a horrific scream.  Trigger (La Rue) does the deed.  Jack La Rue sometimes comes across as menacing and at others, macho silly.  In other words he took the role a little too seriously and took it over the top.  There was a nice moment when he's going to harass Temple (wonderfully played by Miriam Hopkins) again and his face takes up the entire screen making it even more effective.  After Temple leaves the posh party with a drunken guy who wants to get her liquored up so he can get into her pants.  He crashes the car.  She's thrown from the vehicle and the scene feels a little strange but in a good way.  A couple of strange men show up in the shadows.  At first I thought that Temple and her man are dead and that Death has come to collect them.  It really seemed that way for almost the entire sequence but then she's taken to a cabin in the woods and that theory goes by the wayside.  At this point the picture goes into a different direction for a while and then another in the final act after Temple herself has committed a crime and has to face the music.  Say, speaking of music, until the final fifteen minutes, this flick has way too much music.  It's unusual for me to say that but it's true.  The score is almost constant.  Sometimes I thought that maybe it was source music (music from the radio, live band, etc.) but that was only the case some of the time.  It was distracting as there were a few scenes that would've benefited from less or even no music at all.  It's a quick picture at about 71 minutes and it is an interesting artifact of its time. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Avon Barksdale Story: Legends of the Unwired (2010)

Directors: Drew Berry, Bruce Brown, Kenny Jackson

Writers: Drew Berry, Kenny Jackson

Starring: Troy May, Nathan Avon Barksdale, Wood Harris, Emma Barksdale Grier, Oscar "bunk" Requer, Dante Barksdale, Aaron Rasheed, Victor Smith, Marvin McDowell, Larry Middleton

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Based on a true story

Plot: The HBO series "The Wire" was based on the lives of real people from Baltimore. This documentary exposes those real lives, the real people that the characters of The Wire is based upon. In this DVD, the real Avon "Bodie" Barksdale, talks to his on screen character's actor, Wood Harris. Bodie reveals stories about drugs, sex, violence and death.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This documentary is probably most enjoyed by those who know Avon 'Brodie' Barksdale (and just like 'Bugsy' Siegel, don't call him Avon). Yeah, it's not all that professionally made but that's part of the fun of the moments that are so bad it's good.  Remember that scene in BLACK DYNAMITE (2009) when Black Dynamite says, "I'm declaring war on anyone who sells drugs to the community." and Chocolate Giddy-Up immediately replies, "But Black Dynamite! I sell drugs to the community."?  The repetition from the narrator behaves like this sometimes and it's unintentionally hilarious.  Look, these three filmmakers either have this as their sole movie credit or a couple others and that's it.  I didn't know what to expect going into this but I think they did a decent job considering.  I haven't seen THE WIRE (2002-2008) but I've heard nothing but great things about it.  Am I more encouraged to see the show after watching this?  Nope, but I will get around to it someday.  The filmmakers & Barksdale seem like they want to get down and dirty with Barksdale's exploits but they hold back a lot, presumably because it would incriminate him in crimes he didn't do time for which is too bad.  A hardcore, let's show the warts and all and really ratchet this up to exploitation territory would've been a lot more interesting and entertaining. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Preacherman (1971)

Director: Albert T. Viola

Writers: Harvey Flaxman, Albert T. Viola

Composers: Roland Pope, W. Henry Smith

Starring: Albert T. Viola, Ilene Kristen, Adam Hesse, Marian Brown, Esty F. Davis Jr., W. Henry Smith, Bill Simpson, Garland Atkins, Colleen McGee

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Lock Up Your Women...Hide Your Money and Booze...Preacherman is Coming to Town!

Plot: Phony backwoods preacher Amos T. Huxley stays in a small North Carolina town long enough to fleece his congregation, swindle the profits from a moonshine still, and seduce dumb blonde Mary Lou. Mary Lou's ex-boyfriend becomes suspicious of the preacher and gets the local police to investigate his actions.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No, but I will check out the sequel, PREACHERMAN MEETS WIDDERWOMAN (1973).

This looked bad and it almost is.  Viola, who also wrote, produced and directed this fine film, does a decent job as the titular character.  There's a little bit of nudity, but what's there, courtesy of the voluptuous Ilene Kristen, is great.  Sadly the boobs only show up in the first half.  There was plenty of opportunity for more but Viola robbed us of them.  The characters are Southern cartoon stereotypes and the accents are even worse.  Viola's is pretty good but then he had more time to work on it.  The last twenty minutes showcases his talent for preaching but that sequence goes on far too long.  I started having flashbacks to when I was a kid, forced to sit through those bullshit sermons when my mom made us kids give up our Sunday mornings for a load of claptrap.  A few shots of bourbon later and I was OK (now, not as a kid...looking back I wish I had some bourbon then).  The new Troma release poster/DVD cover shows some crashing cars but don't expect any SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977) type of action here.  Now if they'd put the Preacherman behind the wheel with Jesus riding shotgun outrunning the law, I'd fire up the simultinis and watch that one!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)

Director: Leo McCarey

Writers: Harry Leon Wilson, Walter DeLeon, Harlan Thompson, Humphrey Pearson

Starring: Charles Laughton, Mary Boland, Charles Ruggles, Zasu Pitts, Roland Young, Leila Hyams, Maude Eburne, Lucien Littlefield, Leota Lorraine, James Burke, Dell Henderson, Clarence Wilson

More info: IMDb

Plot:  An English valet brought to the American west assimilates into the American way of life.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

I get a kick out of watching movies that deliver something different.  On the surface, it's the kind of picture that almost writes itself but it's in the execution that delivers the unexpected.  I thought I had this one figured out in the first ten minutes but the story kept going in directions I didn't see coming.  For starters we spend a lot of time in the beginning with the set-up with Ruggles (Laughton) and Egbert (Ruggles) paling around with Ruggles' futile attempts at trying to get Egbert to be less garish and become more of a cultured gentleman and the opposite with Egbert getting Ruggles to lighten up, ditch that ridiculous class mentality and learn that they are equals.  Finally we get to Washington State and the small rural town of Red Gap where Ruggles continues his education in learning what it means to be unbound by silly formalities and comes into his own.  There are some pretty good laughs along the way but late in the film Ruggles begins to recite Lincoln's Gettysburg Address when no one else in the saloon remembers any of it.  I wept I was so moved.  I didn't see this coming.  It's a pivotal moment for the character and it was utterly astonishing.  The movie does play along with conventional story cliches but there are lots of scenes that go on longer than they should as far as movie the story along is concerned.  They play that way strictly for the laughs.  The antagonists do their job at trying to retain the status quo and the ending is typically happy and uplifting but along the way there are some funny gags and fun performances, the best of which belongs to Laughton.  That man's acting is a marvel to watch.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Stigma (1972)

Director: David E. Durston

Writer: David E. Durston

Composer: Jacques Urbont

Starring: Philip Michael Thomas, Harlan Cary Poe, Josie Johnson, Peter Clune, William Magerman, Connie Van Ess, 'Cousin Brucie' Morrow, Richard Geisman, Raina Barrett, Kevin Andre

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The curse that begins with a kiss.

Plot: A knowledgeable- doctor, Calvin Crosse (Philip Michael Thomas) moves to a secluded community and soon discovers a deadly virus affecting the young town's people. What is more disturbing, is the conspiracy to protect this epidemic when he tries to cure those infected.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Watch the trailer before going further.  It's worth it (the trailer, not what drivel I've got to spew).  Wasn't that awesome?  The movie doesn't live up to how great that trailer is but it's definitely worth a watch.  At times it's utterly hilarious at how seriously it takes itself.  There's a little nudity sprinkled in here and there.  The trailer plays like a horror movie and, like a virus, the movie carries a little bit of that vibe.  At first it feels like it's going to be a blaxploitationer.  After a while the doctor starts to uncover what his recently deceased mentor discovered.  Then it shifts from racism in a small town, although the racism is there until the end, to dealing with an outbreak of syphilis.  That's when the picture kicks into a classic scare/horror flick.  There's a fucking side-splitting moment near the end when Calvin (Thomas) is running down the beach to get away from the sheriff who's out to get him and he jumps over a sand dune and tumbles right in the midst of a bunch of teenagers making out.  And BAM!  Just like that Calvin sits up, hands them pamphlets on the dangers of syphilis and talks them about the disease, complete with the teens asking generic questions, just like one of those 50s/60s classroom scare films.  Jesus, the more I talk about this the more I think I might watch it again after all.  Ultimately the movie is a drama with elements of Blaxploitation (without really fulfilling any of that genre's requirements), social commentary and good ole exploitation.  I'd say check this one out.  I think it would play better with friends and liquor sauce so plan your special evening accordingly.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Tip Not Included (1966)

Original title: Die Rechnung - Eiskalt Serviert

Director: Helmuth Ashley

Writer: George Hurdalek

Composer: Peter Thomas

Starring: George Nader, Yvonne Monlaur, Horst Tappert, Heinz Weiss, Ullrich Haupt, Walter Rilla, Helga Schlack, Christian Doermer, Birke Bruck

More info: IMDb

Plot: A delivery truck is hijacked from the U.S. Mint with over $10M in diamonds and it's up to G-Man Jerry Cotton to crack the case and bring the bad guys to justice.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This is the third of eight Jerry Cotton pictures George Nader made from '65 to '69 and it ain't pretty.  It's probably best to go into this one looking for cheese because that's what you'll get.  It's easy to look at a movie from that long ago and pick apart a movie for the special effects (although a bunch hold up very well) but this one is low hanging fruit because it wasn't good to being with.  The story is OK and, compared to the Bond pictures, it's akin to a gas station stick up.  It's nothing more than a high dollar robbery and the FBI man that solves the case.  It's not clever in any way.  The B&W photography isn't used in a way that gives it style but it only adds to the cheapness.  The rear projection is laughably bad.  Nader, the good looking bastard that he was, does as good of a job as you can with the material and the rest of the cast does as well.  But it's not without a brief moment of eye candy...

It's not a good picture by any stretch but there is the rare moment where a smile showed up.  I think DEATH AND DIAMONDS (1968) is the only other Cotton picture I've seen.  It was better and I recommend that one over this one, easily.

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Way to the Stars (1945)

AKA: Johnny in the Clouds

Director: Anthony Asquith

Writers: Terence Rattigan, Anatole de Grunwald, Richard Sherman

Composers: Nicholas Brodszky, Charles Williams

Starring: Michael Redgrave, John Mills, Rosamund John, Douglass Montgomery, Renee Asherson, Stanley Holloway, Basil Radford, Felix Aylmer, Bonar Colleano, Joyce Carey, Trevor Howard, Jean Simmons, Anthony Dawson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: THRILLS IN THE SKY!  And romance below...

Plot: Life on a British bomber base, and the surrounding towns, from the opening days of the Battle of Britain, to the arrival of the Americans, who join in the bomber offensive. The film centres around Pilot Officer Peter Penrose, fresh out of a training unit, who joins the squadron, and quickly discovers about life during war time. He falls for Iris, a young girl who lives at the local hotel, but he becomes disillusioned about marriage, when the squadron commander dies in a raid, and leaves his wife, the hotel manageress, with a young son to bring up. As the war progresses, Penross comes to terms that he has survived, while others have been killed.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

If you like your WWII pictures on the romance-y, dramatic side then maybe you'll dig this one more than I did.  It's OK I guess but I couldn't get into it.  The performances are good and the pacing moves along moderately.  It's never really boring but it never seemed to get interesting or exciting.  Keep looking if you were wanting any kind of war action.  There's nothing and that hurts a little as this is all about the RAF and bombing raids.  I can't remember even seeing the inside of a plane.  I can easily see forgetting everything about this film in less than a week because it was that bland, which is weird because it's a well-shot and made film. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Golden Dawn (1930)

Director: Ray Enright

Writers: Otto A. Harbach, Oscar Hammerstein II, Walter Anthony

Composer: Rex Dunn

Starring: Walter Woolf King, Vivienne Segal, Noah Beery, Alice Gentle, Dick Henderson, Lupino Lane, Marion Byron, Edward Martindel, Nina Quartero, Sojin Kamiyama, Otto Matieson, Julanne Johnston, Eduardo Cansino, Nigel De Brulier

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Music drama of the jungle!

Plot: Dawn (Segal) is a white woman thought to be a godess born unto a black tribe but Tom (King) discovers her true parentage and tries to stop her from being sacrificed to the gods.  Naturally everyone sings about it.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Let's play a game called, "Is It Racist?".  It is.  Thanks for playing.  Be sure to get your copy of our play-at-home game for the family.  You've got to see this for yourself.  It's outrageous and entertaining.  I was surprised at how often I laughed in between the grins.  Looking at this 88 years after it was released, it's jaw-dropping in how acceptable things like blackface were back then.  Noah Beery is especially bad (as in racist bad) with his darkened skin and his Amos & Andy's Kingfish voice (as in "now lookee here").  It's so outrageous it's laughable.  That's just the beginning.  The timeline jumps ahead sometimes months at a time.  Then there's the abundance of songs and many of them are quite good and catchy.  Shep (Beery) sings a song devoted to his whip, Dawn sings about loving her Bwana (that's the East African word for 'master') and Joanna (Byron) warbles out how she's looking for a man who will smack her around and treat her like shit (you know, the fun side of domestic abuse that no one talks about these days).  It's just your typical songs about love and devotion.  And all of this takes place in the jungles of Africa.  The whole thing is a wild and crazy ride on the wrong side of the movie tracks (and history) but it can be very entertaining in the weirdest ways.  It's one curiosity you probably won't regret seeing.  I can see this playing well with a group of friends and some liquor.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Inn of the Damned (1975)

Director: Terry Bourke

Writer: Terry Bourke

Composer: Bob Young

Starring: Judith Anderson, Alex Cord, Michael Craig, Joseph Furst, Tony Bonner, John Meillon, John Morris, Robert Quilter

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Murder... Mystery... Madness...

Plot: A sheriff investigates why the guests at a secluded hostelry check in, but never check out.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Hmmmm.  I bet this looked a lot better on paper.  In execution, it loses something.  It feels like it was made by a first time director/writer but it's Bourke's fourth or fifth picture.  Bourke adds odd bits of out and out comedy every once in a while and it's completely against the tone of the film.  The music doesn't help, either.  Young composed a nice main theme in the vein of a Spaghetti Western but much of the rest of the score doesn't quite hit the right beats.  Part of it is the orchestration.  Maybe the music budget suffered.  Alex Cord does a fine job and some of the photography looks good but it's the pacing and overall lack of suspense that brings the picture down.  Add some very nice nudity to the plus column.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Easter Bunny Bloodbath (2010)

Director: Richard Mogg

Writer: Richard Mogg

Composers: Chris J. Clements, Rob Rochon

Starring: Shayan Bayat, Meghan Kinsley, Travis Turner, Adrian Daniels, Laura Hope, Jessica Hill, Chris J. Clements, James Lawson, Halie Hunter, Jim Hunter

More info: IMDb

Tagline: He's not just hunting eggs... he's hunting YOU.

Plot: Twenty years ago, young Peter McKay watched his father decapitate his sister on Easter morning. Peter never celebrated the Easter holiday again... until now.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Everything about this holiday retro-slasher is just below average.  The gore is simplistic which also relies on computer generated camera lens blood spatter, the acting is as you'd expect for a no budget picture but never crossing over into the so-bad-it's-good territory, the story is generic but without anything special to add and so on.  The music is sometimes worthwhile although some repetitive cues get played too long and often..  Overall the movie is missing a sense of fun.  There's no nudity (but not without ample opportunity), fun kills or any of the other stuff you'd need/want for a slasher picture to strive for.  I would say it's a good thing it's only 78 minutes long but it feels much longer.  Keeping this around 45 would've made it a little better and more easily digestible.   Now, having said all of that, It is producer/editor/writer/director Mogg's first film.  There are some moments where you can tell he had some ideas he wanted to try out.  With more experience he'll obviously get better.  It's an OK start.  I'll check out his other work.  He's got some great titles like BANGIN' VENGEANCE! (2011) (about talkin' tits), TEENAGE SLUMBER PARTY NIGHTMARE (2014), MASSAGE PARLOR OF DEATH (2015) and BIGFOOT ATE MY BOYFRIEND (2016).

Hannibal Brooks (1969)

Director: Michael Winner

Writers: Michael Winner, Tom Wright, Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais

Composer: Francis Lai

Starring: Oliver Reed, Michael J. Pollard, Wolfgang Preiss, John Alderton, Helmuth Lohner, Peter Carsten, Karin Baal, Ralf Wolter, Jurgen Draeger, Maria Brockerhoff, Til Kiwe, Ernst Fritz Furbringer, Erik Jelde, James Donald

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Supersoldier in the Super Adventure

Plot: A prisoner of war working at a zoo gets the chance to escape from the Germans, so he does and he takes with him the elephant that he's been caring for. Together they head for the Swiss border and freedom.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I've been wanting to see this for more than thirty years since I saw it sitting on the shelf at the video store.  I also had the soundtrack LP for two decades in which the cover is total bullshit with only Pollard's face on the cover.  Well, now I've seen it.  It's a weird flick.  It feels like it wants to be a comedy but it's only mildly amusing at best.  There are no jokes, per se, just the occasional character laughing and smiling.  That hardly makes it a comedy.  You could make the case that it's a family film except for the abundance of killing and that the world is at war with the Germans and our 'hero' is behind enemy lines trying to get to safety.  Pollard is horribly miscast.  His goofy grin doesn't belong in this film.  His line deliveries and behavior is off enough to where you'd think he was high on weed the whole time.  I normally dig the guy but he had no place in this film in that role.  The Austrian location shooting is GORGEOUS and it's worth watching just for the mountains and the countryside.  Lai's music is lighthearted and family friendly but, like the 'humor' in the film, it's sometimes at odds with what's on the screen.  The story itself is pretty ridiculous.  How possible is it for someone to take an elephant behind enemy lines like this and have any hope of making it to Switzerland?  I'd say none at all.  I'll hate myself in the morning for saying this but that's the elephant in the room.  You'll have to suspend your disbelief a lot for this picture.  I'm surprised there were enough people of influence that thought this was a movie that should or needed to be made.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Machine Gun Mama (1944)

Director: Harold Young

Writer: Sam Neuman

Composer: Mort Glickman

Starring: Armida, El Brendel, Wallace Ford, Jack La Rue, Luis Alberni, Ariel Heath, Julian Rivero, Eumenio Blanco, Anthony Warde

More info: IMDb

Tagline: It's a rollicking riot of double barreled fun!

Plot: Ollie and John are stuck with car trouble. Luckily they have Bunny the elephant. They try to sell him to a fair in financial trouble.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

The title is bullshit.  Near the beginning of the picture when the boys are at a carnival, things get a little crazy and Nita (Armida), who works there, somehow gets stuck randomly shooting a shooting game machine gun which apparently shoots real enough bullets to do some damage.  It's supposed to be funny.  That's the only time a machine gun is seen, heard or mentioned.  Then what the hell is up with the title?  I was all set for some chick crime action with a title like that.  Instead it's just a Poverty Row low budget romantic comedy.  Armida is adorable and Ford, as John O'Reilly, is pleasant and amiable.  There's a really cute moment when John starts spinning a tall tale to Nita about his gangster days and how he was going to do this hit on this fella.  "Did you have a gun?" she says and he responds that he didn't but one of his 'gun girls' did.  I laughed but that was the only time.  For the most part I was close to boredom but it is mildly amusing.  It's low budget cute at best.  Everyone looks like they're giving it that old college try but the material proves to be the weakest link.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Tony Arzenta (1973)

AKA: Big Guns

Director: Duccio Tessari

Writers: Franco Verucci, Ugo Liberatore, Roberto Gandus

Composer: Gianni Ferrio

Starring: Alain Delon, Richard Conte, Carla Gravina, Marc Porel, Roger Hanin, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Guido Alberti, Lino Troisi, Silvano Tranquilli, Corrado Gaipa, Erika Blanc, Anton Diffring

More info: IMDb

Tagline: By mistake they killed his wife and child - THAT was a hell of a mistake!

Plot: A mob hitman wants to retire, but his bosses don't think that's a good idea. Complications--and many bloody shootouts-ensue.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Fans of the Poliziotteschi genre will dig this more than others.  It's got some great car chases and action scenes but it's the pacing that would be a deal killer for a novice Eurocrime viewer.  The movie is better than average but there are moments where it goes above and beyond like the aforementioned action scenes.  They're nicely edited and executed.  The plot is a by the numbers revenge picture so what's needed, as long as nothing sucks, is good action, kills, maybe some nudity (there's a little) and a good ending.  This picture ticks off those boxes.  I dig the ending but it could've been handled a little better.  It's not hard to guess what's going to happen.  If it had been, that would've been something.  Overall the movie can be a little slow going but there's enough to punctuate it throughout to keep it interesting.  I've seen it twice now and I think that's all I need.

Night World (1932)

Director: Hobart Henley

Writers: P.J. WOlfson, Allen Rivkin, Richard Schayer

Composer: Alfred Newman

Starring: Lew Ayres, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff, Dorothy Revier, Russell Hopton, Hedda Hopper, Clarence Muse, Dorothy Peterson, Bert Roach, George Raft

More info: IMDb

Plot:  In the course of one night at a Prohibition-era nightclub, dreams and aspirations are made, tested and realized but there's also murder in the air.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  YES!!!

Seek this one out.  Karloff is playing something I don't think I've ever seen him do...a smiling nightclub owner who also knows when to get nasty and throw some punches.  I can't recall ever seeing him smile so much.  It's refreshing.  But don't cross him or he'll bust you in the chops for sure.  It is weird, though, hearing him use slang like "baby".  The characters are fun and this picture movies at a lightning fast pace.  It's just under an hour long and it was over like that and the fast pace starts from the top with a great little montage of night life from inside the clubs (this is during prohibition) and outside on the streets.  There's even a John picking up a hooker!  Then it's one long, in-time, sequence with the dance girls and the rich club goers until eventually it settles down and we get some exposition here and there.  But then even when that's happening it moves quickly.  This is a great exercise in sustaining momentum.  It's fun, too.  There's a lot less melodrama than other pictures of the era which was welcome.  And people die, too!  Alfred Newman provided the energetic score and it goes a long way to sustain the energy.  This was great fun.