Reviews written by registered user
|16 reviews in total|
"The Flesh Merchant" (or "The Wild and Wicked") is fairly typical of 50's
exploitation cinema in that it denounces a moral evil (in this case, young,
innocent girls who are tricked into prostitution under the guise of
models) while at the same time titillating the audience with scenes of
scantily clad women (and even a quick flash of bare buttocks). That being
said, "The Flesh Merchants" is one of the more interesting films in the
grindhouse genre. This is largely due to the acting, which is above par
most films of its kind. Lisa Rack, who plays the prostitute sister of the
young innocent ingenue, is especially good. She infuses her dialogue (and
couple of sizable monologues) with a lot more fire and expression than
entire casts of other low-budget films, and makes you sit up and take
(even though a lot of the dialogue is pretty laughable). It's a shame that
she doesn't seem to have any other film credits, because she certainly
have gone places.
All in all, this is one of the more watchable "Adults Only" films of the 50's. You can certainly do worse. I know I have.
"Gun Girls" is a pretty sorry entry in the 50's juvenile delinquent
potboiler parade. The story is pretty typical: teens girls ignore their
probation officer's advice and pull burglaries and robberies, until they
in too far over their heads, and must pay the ultimate price. The acting,
dialogue, sets, and even the editing are strictly amateurish (some scenes
end too abruptly, others linger way past the point where the director
have yelled "cut!!"). But the film's biggest problem (or highlight, if
you're into camp) are the gun girls themselves. To put it rather bluntly,
these girls ain't girls. There isn't one of them who looks to be under 40.
When the film opens with a shot of some pretty hard boiled looking gals in
police line-up, and the narrator starts talking about juvenile delinquency,
you have to wonder who he's talking about. These "teenagers" look old
enough to be the parents of teenagers!!
All this, plus a death scene at the film's end that goes on longer than Ali MacGraw's in "Love Story", make for pretty rough sledding, even for lovers of bad cinema.
If anything, "Zeta One" (a.k.a. "The Love Factor" and "Alien Women") proves that the U.S.A. doesn't have a lock on cheesy soft-core porn movies. In this one, a race of alien women (many of whom run around topless) kidnap earth women to repopulate their world. What sounds like a fun spoof of spy movies and sci-fi flicks fails miserably, due to many factors, not the least of which is that there's simply no point of view. The cast (and the script) seem to meander around without any real purpose. The secret agent character, James Word (played by Robin Hawdon of "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth") seems to have two purposes in the movie: to have sex with every woman who crosses his path, and smoke cigarettes, since he doesn't seem to do anything else. A part like his takes a deft comedic touch, which Hawdon just doesn't have. The story is told in flashback, and the framing sequences featuring Hawdon and lovely Yutte Stensgaard seem to indicate trouble with the original film (Hawdon has a moustache in the main body of the film, but is without it in the framing sequences). Scenes dealing with a strip-poker game and Word's ultimate fate go on for what seems like an eternity without any real payoff. And top-billed James Robertson Justice gives a textbook example of a "where's-my-paycheck?" type performance. The British have a reputation for stuffiness, and if this movie is any indication, it is a reputation well-deserved.
"September Storm" is the kind of underwater adventure movie best seen by those who have never really seen an underwater adventure movie before (and therefore are less likely to be disappointed by it). It concerns the usual treasure hunters looking for the usual underwater treasure in the usual way. The film's only novelty was that it was shot in a Cinemascope 3-D fashion, which is, of course, lost on television (in fact, the movie looks like it was shot on outdated film stock). Joanne Dru and Mark Stevens are adequate in their performances, but the remainder of the cast give performances on the level of a mediocre 60's sit-com. And the dialogue is filled with moments that MST3K would have given anything to have taken on (potential references to "Gilligan's Island" abound). How ever did they miss this one??
"The Weird World of LSD" is one of those anti-drug films that, like "Reefer Madness" and "Marihuana", purport to warn the audience away from drug use, while at the same time sensationalizing it's subject for all they can. Episodic in nature, the film shows the effects of LSD on various people (sans dialogue; the whole movie is narrated). Not all of the "trips" taken are negative, making one wonder just what the producer's aim was. But the most striking aspect of the film is that it was filmed in black and white. Apparently the film's budget didn't include enough money for color stock, but wouldn't you think that a movie about LSD could hardly be made without it?? Strange.
Washington Irving's classic tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman is apparently one that doesn't lend itself to feature length film translation. This version of "The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow" comes closer than anyone else has before (certainly closer than the Jeff Goldblum version of 1980). Brent Carver is ideal as the ill-fated school headmaster, and his run-in with the classic ghost is quite well-filmed. The padding needed in the script to get it to run to feature length just slows the movie down. Basically, an okay TV-movie adaptation that suffices on an unexpectedly rainy Sunday afternoon.
"The Big T.N.T. Show" is an interesting time capsule for fans of the mid-60's music scene. The film is a live concert (shot on videotape, then transferred to film) featuring some of the top musical acts of the era. And what acts they are: Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, Joan Baez, Petula Clark, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Ronettes, The Byrds, Ike and Tina Turner, and Donovan. The film isn't perfect: Baez and Clark sing other artists hits that just aren't suited to their musical stylings, and Donovan's set is extremely slow moving, and brings the movie's tempo to a screeching halt (thankfully, those in charge of the concert bring out the Turner's after his set to wake the audience up). All in all, a great chance to see these acts in their prime.
Beating the more famous "Reefer Madness" into the theaters by all of about 15 minutes, "Marihuana" is yet another morality play whose producer tries to pass off a warning about the evils of marijuana use as an excuse for the picture's real reason for being: a nude swim scene (shot so darkly that the participants can barely even be seen). A group of the oldest-looking teenagers you've ever seen (and don't you just love movies with teenagers being played by actors old enough to be the PARENTS of teenagers) fall in with the wrong crowd, and soon there's a drowning, a shooting, an unwanted pregnancy, a kidnapping (of a child you just know was supposed to be the next Shirley Temple, at least in the minds of her parents), and an ending that has to be seen to be disbelieved. All in all, a truly mind-bending experience that would rival any that could come from the actual use of marijuana.
A low budget film, somewhat less exploitive than most of the blaxploitation films of its time, "Emma Mae" tells the story of a young woman from a small town in the south who comes to live with her relatives in the city after being orphaned, who falls in love with a young hood who gets her to commit crimes for him. The film does have some nice touches. It manages to catch the feel of the inner city of the 1970's far better than some of the slicker productions of its era. But the script lets the rest of the movie down (it's just too hard to believe that these people can commit these crimes so easily, and without much fear of getting. I really wish I could have liked it better.
Of all the "Exorcist" rip-offs made right after the box-office success of the original, "Beyond The Door" is the most blatant. All of the sensationalistic happenings of the first movie occur here (head spinning, levitation, green pea vomit, foul language spoken in a demonic voice), but in "Beyond The Door" they occur not so much as a manifestation of demonic possession as they do because they occurred in "The Exorcist". This tale of a woman becoming possessed by her demonic fetus (they even threw some "Rosemary's Baby" into the mix) certainly didn't help the careers of its stars Juliet Mills and Richard Johnson, despite its box office success (indeed, Shakespearean trained Johnson saw his career degenerate into more and even schlockier films than this). Still, one has to admire the film for its chutzpah: it's such an OBVIOUS rip-off that one can't help giving it credit for having the nerve to be such.
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