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The Noose Hangs High (1948)
Not only had I never seen this, I'd never heard of it!
It's 2016. I'm nearly 60. I've a LOT of comedies (and so-called "comedies") and this is one of the cleverest flicks.
A&C are a favorite and this has some of their best patter, great physical comedy, and subtle double entendres.
Leon Errol is a fine addition to the team as the not-so-menacing über villain who never loses. Cathy Downs is the fetching eye candy who gets caught up in the boy's shenanigans and makes the team a trio. And the older I get, the more I marvel at Bud Abbott's amazing straight man.
Usually when a movie has 7 writers, you're looking at a bomb. Not here. Charles Barton had helmed some other A&C films in the past but this could be his best. And kudos to Walter Schumann's perfect score.
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Spoilers, hopefully warning you off this flick the way I'd wish I'd been
Spoilers, hopefully warning you off this flick the way I'd wish I'd been
*Spoiler* *Spoiler* *Spoiler* *Spoiler*
I rather enjoyed the first 3/4s of the movie. Yes, it could have used some trimming (Note to film makers, walking and talking and riding and talking and lying down and talking is only soooo interesting for so long), but it was intriguing enough, the dialog was clever enough, the acting good enough, and kudos to the low-level lighting that was so successfully used.
I saw that this was supposed to be a horror western and that there was gore. But truth be told, even the opening sequence that is violent and a little bloody isn't too bad. We've all seen worse. There are a few action scenes, all well shot and edited, very pro, but they do not dwell on the violence. It's quick and over. The camera does dwell on the one young man who gets killed and gutted early, but it's dark. The worst part was I couldn't help thinking, "Once again, the black guy gets it early." The movie also pays some positive nods to Christianity and the then changing notions of tolerance and acceptance of the "other." Then (SPOILERS) our heroes are captured and forced to watch the gory butchering of a live human being. He's scalped, something sharp is forced down his throat, his genitals are hammered, and he is split down the middle and torn into. That was it. Turned it off, not only disgusted, but angry.
Think of watching the Sound of Music and the last third turns into the original Texas Chainsaw Masacre. Scratch that, TCM was a great movie and you know going in what it was all about. There was no lulling you into thinking it was going to be a western with a bit of a grizzly twist. Why didn't the bandits they ran into show up half eaten along the way; something to prepare you for the complete cold cock to come? I don't mind gory movies, but torture porn, or gorenography is never something I want to see. It's not edifying.
But the gorenography did something more, it made me question the rest of the movie. Why did the Cannibaltrogs leave the black man behind? They didn't like dark meat? Why did they only take a few towns people since they got in and out so stealthily? Why not take a few dozen? Heck, why not just set up shop in town? There's a perfectly good jail there to warehouse dinner. Also, they have no fear of firearms. Why aren't they using them? They know how to split a man's head with a tomahawk at about 20 yards, I would think modern rifles and pistols would catch their interest.
Finally, the reaction of the captured wife when the sheriff is brought into the Cannibaltrogs's lair. "I'm alive," said with about emotion as ordering dry toast. She's already seen what these things do to humans. She should be whimpering with fear, perhaps unable to say a word. This does not begin to ring true for actual human emotions.
So, I'd give the first, longish part of the movie, the actual western, a 5, but the disgusting sucker punch dropped it to a solid 1.
At least an hour too long
I usually only give one star to movies I can't be bothered to finish. And this is one.
As this is a zombie movie, it takes foreeeeever to get to the actual zombies (the real ones, not the actor zombies). There is a long slog of character development which should have been cut cut cut as most of it is boring and leads no where and pertains to characters who are neither important nor compelling.
The acting is fine and there's a couple of chuckles. Gore is OK, but overall, the movie wants to be a comedy but lacks the basics of set-up, timing, and payoff.
By the time the film was where I thought it was wrapping up, dang if it wasn't only half way finished.
Did they even hire an editor?
Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf (2015)
Your 10:00 is here.
For once, a SyFy original that's funny on purpose.
If we're lucky, one out of every 200 SyFy originals is decent entertainment because the people behind it knew what they were doing with direction, music, editing, and above all, the script. Sadly, most SyFy orgs feel like a near death experience.
Sharktopus vs Whalewolf is just as stupid a premise as any other SyFy flick, and the film makers embrace this, turning it into one of the funnier films. And yes, it's meant to be funny. Catherine Oxenberg is obviously having a blast as the hammy Kraut. Casper Van Dien (whose beard is somehow 30 years older than the rest of him) is the Errol Flynn type (the alcoholic Flynn, that is). Akari Endo, for whom this is not her first SyFy rodeo gets to shine as the take-charge badge on the beach.
The effects are slightly more polished in the CGI department, but it's still CGI and the Whalewolf looks more like a monster puppy than a man eater, but that's part of the charm.
Highly recommended but don't come into this expecting bad SyFy or even so-bad-it's good. Get ready to chortle!
Ignore the nay sayers
Clichés? You bet. A few logic holes. Yup. Worth a look? Indeed.
First, anyone who claims this is a typical SyFy channel film should be avoided in public and in private. This is that 1 in 50 SyFy film that was actually well made.
Second, anyone who claims the acting is amateurish must stop writing reviews. Period. The acting is top notch, especially considering that every one of these Americans is NOT American and yet I didn't hear an accent dropped once.
Also, anyone who didn't notice the terrific music score should be made to take a music appreciation class. Twice.
Oh, and you've got three gorgeous women to enjoy. You've got a real nasty ROC. You get to hate some truly nasty hicks (reminds me of the setting and characters in Shuttered Room).
I enjoyed it. I think most people will, if they can find it.
Dark Haul (2014)
Not The Asylum awful, but awful just the same
Better made and acted than most SyFy originals, this was nonetheless a film that had all the earmarks of a "first draft." Like most flicks, its too long. Just chop off the first useless 15 minutes and start with the shot of Sizemore grabbing Marie's shackled ankle and you'd have the audience going, "Now what's up with this situation? Who are these people? What did she do wrong that she has this device on her." Instead, the first 15 minutes show that the demon, even as an infant, can fly, is lethal, and impossible to kill (but you can trap it under a box).
Fast forward hundreds of years of pseudo-Christians looking after, er guarding, um whatever, the two demons, one who wants to free her demon-brother and the other who, once freed, just wants to kill (!).
The humans in charge of this duo never grasp that Zib (Zib? yup, Zib) should be sedated at all times and that Zub (well, he doesn't have a name, so why not Zub?) should be sealed in concrete and dropped in the ocean. Instead, Zib and Zub are kept in close proximity because Zib is supposed to be able to control Zub, though the words, "He's getting to strong to control," is something she says whenever Zub needs to be controlled. So much for fulfilling your basic job description, Zib.
Ah, but we have the gibberish of the 13th of the 13th and man vs beast and all that. Who cares? As for the trained, armed men and women who are supposed to know how to catch Zub if he escapes, something Zub keeps doing thanks to Zib, they must have missed several training classes. For the most part, this trained crew can't make it through an 8-hour shift without being impaled, shot by their own, or thrown hundreds of feet (often all three).
Special: Tom Sizemore drinking game. Sizemore must say at least 47 times that "I know how to kill it." If you take a shot each time, you won't have to make it to the end of the movie where it turns out he doesn't actually seem to know how to kill it.
When the highlight of the movie is a tractor trailer overturning, you've got problems.
The Boneyard (1991)
I was almost an hour in and gave up. This is without a doubt one of the dullest, unnecessarily loquacious, poorly edited, and cripplingly paced movies I've seen in any genre, let alone horror/comedy. If it got better, I didn't care.
There is only one good scene in the first half, and that is when Alley encounters the dead child. That's it.
The score by John Lee Whitener is pretty good, despite the already clichéd delay-fall-away sounds. Either he vowed to never work on another film after this or changed his name.
So, in sum, not remotely funny, not remotely scary...reach for the remote.
Shark Week (2012)
The Manos-Hands-of-Fate of SyFy movies.
To be fair, I only got to see the last 40 minutes, but that was enough to make this one of the absolute WORST movies I've ever seen (and I've seen a lot of really stinky movies, mostly by Asylum, but all the classic stinkers too like Manos).
Patrick Bergin and Yancy Butler (who seems to have a nervous eye flutter) play a psycho couple who live in a giant mansion but spend most of their time in what appears to be a broom closet decked out with some lap tops and not-so-big video screens. They are forcing some none-too-bright people to make their way through deadly shark encounters which all look like they can be easily be avoided by simply NOT GOING WHERE THE SHARKS ARE.
There's also some land mines on a beach that are easily seen and can be outrun once they start exploding but are handy for carrying with you in case you have to hang onto a stalagmite while fending off a really hideous CG shark.
Calling the acting wooden is an insult to wood. The music is incessantly wrong for the "action" and the direction and editing are hilarious (lots of scenes of people walking and emoting for no apparent reason).
But it is a hoot to make fun of while you're watching it. I hope that all involved get better at what they're doing or find other lines of work.
Patton 360 (2009)
No honey, you don't have to record any more of them.
Big history fan.
Big Patton fan.
Big fan of trying something different.
NOT a big fan of people who can't control their urges to colorize, pixelize, and otherwise "-ize" every single frame. Map coordinates going on forever. Narrator's faces spliced up in quick cuts. The same CGI shown over and over (wasn't too good the first time). The cribbing of Goldsmith's theme (pay for it for cryin' out loud so you don't have to "almost" use the music).
I did like the dissection of the tactics and concentrating on elements that don't always get attention, but the "look at me, I have a computer" enhancements made me cringe. A few (very few) of these effects were interesting, but this show was relentless.
Gotta say, I, too, used to think it was "preachy."
Gotta say, I, too, used to think it was "preachy." But not anymore. Like Star Trek's "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," which I also used to think was obvious and beneath me, this one now wows me. Perhaps it's because what was once so obvious about what "might be," to a young person (oh the evils that await us in the near future, yawn), now virtually IS.
What was once totalitarianism in other places is now happening in the United States of America. God and the Bible: banned. Prayer: banned. Dissent: banned. Wrong thinking: banned.
Why not ban all books? Most people don't read anymore anyway. No books? No need for librarians. The Khmer Rouge would find this show a positive portrayal of their "right" thinking.
It's not just about Fascism, Communism, or Islam, it's about the state, any state, that can call all of the shots. I'm sure the State in The Obsolete Man would be making some changes, like not letting the condemned choose their method of execution anymore (too much choice is not a good thing).
Effective set design, lighting that plays a part in the narrative, excellent acting. I personally like the way Fritz Weaver' Chancellor is dealt with, almost like they're feeding on one of their own at the end. Creeps!