Reviews written by registered user
|38 reviews in total|
Best thing about this film was Jeff Kimball's photography
the Florida Everglades and George Clinton's score. Although
the two gals were nice to watch and Bill Murray was delightful,
the film tries to be too clever with too many surprises
outwits itself. Hopelessly muddled, the script ultimately
degenerates into pure nonsense; I even doubt that writer Stephen Peters could decipher it.
This 50s sci-fi film has always been one of my favorites from that era. As with another Columbia Pictures film, "Earth vs the Flying Saucers", released the previous year, "20 Million Miles To Earth" features some of the same cast. This film has a relatively simple, straightforward plot, perfunctory acting, and a brisk pace. And as with "Earth vs the Flying Saucers", the main attraction is the outstanding Harryhausen effects. It is because of these similarities that I consider the two films companion pieces. Leonard Maltin calls the film one of the best monster-on-the- loose movies ever made and I certainly agree. The sulphur- eating, reptilian-like Venusian creature, "the Ymir's" titanic struggle with an elephant in the streets of Rome, preceding the climatic confrontation in the Colosseum with mankind, remains one of the greatest one-to-one creature battles of all time. Definitely recommended for the 1950s sci-fi connoisseur.
If "The War of the Worlds" is the definitive sci-fi "alien
invasion" film of the 1950s, then "Earth vs the Flying
is the definitive "flying saucer" one.
Ray Harryhausen's magic provided us with the prototypical
"flying saucer"; his marvelous special effects are indeed
axis upon which all else in the film revolves.
The plot is standard formula and the acting is restrained;
but if one can put oneself in "kiddie gear", then these aspects don't matter much. If fact, most of the sci-fi films of the
mid-to-late 1950s were designed for the child and teenager. I own a copy of this little jewel and have viewed it on numerous occasions and unabashedly prefer the Harryhausen effects over many of the later computer-generated ones. "Earth vs the Flying Saucers" should be a part of every 50s sci-fi afficionado's collection.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In spite of the rather sullen acting, plausibility problems, plot discontinuities, plodding pace, etc. "Colossus of New York", nevertheless, remains an interesting curio for the 1950s sci-fi connoisseur. Essentially a modern day twist on the Frankenstein monster theme, the film features Ross Martin as the central character, a world-acclaimed scientist who is tragically killed in the early going. His brilliant brain is transplanted into a massive electromechanical body by an equally brilliant father/brother team. With predictable disastrous results. What makes the film interesting is the interactive circle involving Martin, his father and brother, and Martin's wife and young son. It is also interesting to note that the Frankenstein monster, although given a criminally defective brain, was capable of moments of kindness, while Colossus The Giant, brilliant as he was, resorted to extreme violence, including murder of his own brother and numerous strangers. Despite its shortcomings, a thought provoking film in some ways.
This film was spoofed in the film, "MST 3000: The Movie", but in actuality got good reviews from Leonard Maltin, The Motion Picture Guide, not to mention Bill Warren's monumental opus, "Keep Watching The Skies!". No, "This Island Earth" does not have the Oscar Winning effects of "The War of the Worlds", the snappy overlapping dialogue of "The Thing From Another World", the abundant richness of ideas in "Forbidden Planet", nor the spine chilling suspense of "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers"; but what it does have is an irresistable charm, the result - I suspect - of having a peculiar combination of outstanding qualities coexisting alongside much inferior ones. "This Island Earth" should definitely be part of every 50's sci-fi film connoisseur's collection.
Almost, but not quite a masterpiece, but still quite a
film, is "The Night Of The Hunter"; it's major flaw is that
climax is about as strong as a wet noodle. The struggle
Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum), the psychopathic, self-appointed
"preacher", and Rachel Cooper (Lillian Gish), the kindly,
staunch old spinster, could and should have been riveting and
terrifying, instead it pathetically floundered. Mitchum's performance up until that part was reminiscent of his later performance of psychopath Max Cady in "Cape Fear", which BTW, did not have a weak climax. Director Laughton, with his usually superb sense of drama, should have known better, and is paying the
price by being figuratively whipped with that wet noodle.
Laughton's delivers his greatest career performance as Quasimodo the Bellringer; another great performance of his was Captain Bligh in "Mutiny On The Bounty; Laughton also excellent as the campy Dr. Moreau in "Island Of Lost Souls. This version of "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame" is the best of several and is certainly a film classic; memorable in every way. A must watch for the whole family. This is vivid storytelling at its best!
The remake of "House On Haunted Hill" is an exceptionally well conceived and executed film, with fine production by Robert Zemeckis& Co., sharp direction by William Malone (an ardent fan of the 1958 original), taut scripting by Malone and Dick Beebe (Beebe who incidentally, coscripted the original), and good performances by the cast. Peter Graves in a cameo appearance. HOHH 1999 more or less adheres to the original with some differences; first and foremost it being more serious, with its horrid backstory and graphic violence. This film is definitely not recommended for viewing by small children and those prone to nightmares, as there are lots of disturbing, sadistic scenes; with some profanity and brief nudity also. Not since "Silence Of The Lambs" and the "Hellraiser Series" have I been subjected to so many shocking, gruesome images. Another difference, a fresh and interesting twist, is that the house is not a house per se, but rather a former mental institution converted into living quarters. This variation is integral to understanding and supporting the backstory. The film has a brisk pace with little dragging "expository lumps"; the crucial backstory is seamlessly insinuated into the current events. The soundtrack is on the mark, conveying the sinister tone and atmosphere with modern rock music tracks and even an "Addams Family" type composition thrown in to pay a brief tribute to the more light-hearted tone of the original film. The characters are standard stereotypes, but are played well within the context, and by mid-story, it is predictable as to who exactly will survive the ordeal, not that that is seriously distracting. The standouts of the show are former Oscar Winner, Geoffrey Rush (in the Vincent Price role) as Steven Price, and Famke Janssen as Evelyn, as his Significant Other. Both deliver great performances, both individually and in tandem, as they remain faithful to the Vincent Price/Carol Ohmart adversarial relationship: some delicious/vicious, catty dialogue between the twosome. I can't say that I snickered and grinned that much throughout this remake, like I did during the original, but I don't think that was ever part of Malone's intention. (He had stated in pre-production that he "wanted to capture the flavor of the original, while putting it into a modern context".) In conclusion, while HOHH 1999 certainly remains indebted to the 1958 original, it can stand firmly upon its own merits, and undoubtedly will achieve a reputation as one of the better horror films of the 90's.
I have conflicting emotions about the 1987 horror film,
based on British writer, Clive Barker's novella, "The Hellbound
Heart". While the basic concept is fascinating - involving
unfortunate people who open puzzle boxes akin to a Pandora's
Box From Hell, thereby unleashing a motley crew of demonic denizens called
Cenobites to plague them - and the makeup and
special effects being highly effective, if not horrific; the film's
incoherent storyline and relentlessly grim atmosphere made viewing a
somewhat mixed experience.
Perhaps it was the film's utter lack of humor (recall Freddy
Kruger's wit), pervading cynicism and sense of despair that
subliminally discomforted me the most. "Hellraiser" is not a particularly frightening film, but it is an effectively gut-wrenching, gruesome one. With a better script and a few deft strokes of levity, it might have become a genuine horror classic; nevertheless, in spite of it's shortcomings, it has managed to attract a dedicated cult following. "Hellraiser's" cult status, arose mainly due to it's outstanding character, Pinhead, the Head Cenobite (played superbly by Doug Bradley). Pinhead is unspeakably cruel and takes great sadistic pleasure in tormenting his victims. I even think that he might have a dual sadomasochistic element within him, as he too was once human and suffered the same torments, and seems to empathize with his victims in a perverse sort of way, i.e., he enjoys the scenario precisely because he can re-experience his own previous suffering vicariously, and at the same time, still relish the hellish pain he currently inflicts upon them! Very twisted if true! The multiple pins or nails that protrude from his face and bald head are stark, grim reminders of the the agony he once endured. "Hellraiser" is not for the squeamish, or those who have depressive maladies - if any film conveys an unremitting picture of eternal gloom and doom, of suffering and damnation, it is this one. Paradoxically, "Hellraiser" is entertaining to the extent that it appeals to perverse, sadomasochistic elements that lie deep within the bowels of human nature. Gruesomely repulsive on one level, yet morbidly fascinating on another. Perhaps the redeeming value of "Hellraiser" is an educational one, that is, it presents atheists and other secularists who discount traditional notions of Hellfire and Brimstone, with the distinct, thought-provoking possibility that a different, far more bizarre kind of Transdimensional Hell might exist.
Francis Coppola's famous quote, "This is not a film ABOUT Vietnam; this film IS Vietnam", gives revealing insight into the filmmaker's intentions when making his visionary war epic, "Apocalypse Now". From that statement it is not difficult to draw parallels between the film and the war it sought to portray: both were long and costly; both began with a sense of purpose and ended with ambiguous, unsatisfying resolutions; and both displayed a surreality borne out of absurd imposed conditions that made it impossible to secure victory. This absurdity was aptly highlighted by Lt. Colonel Kilgore's self-satisfied statement, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning". It is not by accident that towards the end of the film, the mad renegade Colonel Kurtz read passages from T.S. Eliot's, "The Hollow Men". Without being specific, here a few from the poem: "Shape without form, shade without colour...Paralysed force, gesture without motion...Those who have crossed with direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom...Remember us - if at all - not as lost...Violent souls... but only as the hollow men...the stuffed men...In this last of meeting places...We grope together...And avoid speech... Gathered on this beach of the tumid river" - ("Mistah Kurtz - he dead" - 1925). "If all war is hell, then the Vietnam War was a patently absurd one" is the statement I believe Mr. Coppola attempted to make in "Apocalypse Now".
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