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two paws up, and ripe for parody, Kept waiting for the lead to throw the stick, and have the monster fetch it. or maybe have it roll over on its back for a belly rub. Not a bad put together little venture, talking about the oddly titled, Humongous, 1982, Directed by Paul Lynch and written by William Gray. Spoiler Alert, plot details gloated over.
Honestly the title has pornographic implications that have nothing to do with this movie. Nothing about the title has anything to do with this movie. One of the critics aptly described the group of young, victims, I mean actors as resembling a scooby-do adventure. feuding Brothers Eric and Neil played by David Wallace and John Wildman, take the boat out with Sister Carla played by Janet Baldwin, and two more young friends Donna and Ida, played by Joy Boushei and Shay Garner, add one more shipwreck victim and you have the hapless crew. shipwrecked on Dog island. The music score by John Mills Cockell is quirky Good production values, adequate sound and lighting.
backstory setup, woman raped, killed rapist who was attacked by dogs, women gives birth to murderous man dog mix?. Chase kids around island. arf. some gore, You could do worse. Two paws up out of five.
Wheres the Monster?
Ballet, Mien Fuhrer ? 1958 " Electronic Monster" that sounds a heck of a lot scarier then the original title, "Escapement". Directed by Montgomery Tully, and David Paltenghi. and written by Charles Erick Maine. The quirky film could also have been titled, "the Adventures of Jeff Keenen", played by the rugged guys guy, Rod Cameron, "Insurance inspector" a hard boiled investigator, who use to be in love with a sweet dame, that he walked away from, Ruth Vance, played by the sexy Mary Murphy. Now she got herself hitched up to the Megalomaniac Paul Zacon, played by Peter Illing. Some spoiler alert ahead, Actually "Escapement" is a much better title. It would seem to imply the term "addiction". That is the goofy basis of Mad scientist number one, Dr Phillip Maxwell, played by Merideth Edwards. His brainstorm? Cure depression, neurosis, and anti social tenancies, by stimulating the brain with electronic pleasure sensations. A collection of specially recorded sensory stimulation. An electronic "fix" to curb their behavior. All done with tube technology.
How alien it must be to today's generation, to see a scene that opens with a guy at a typewriter, talking on a dial telephone. The wacky electronic effects are immensely irritating, they portend some "evil" about to take place, I can feel the pain of the producer, asking the director to try to make it more scary. Where is the monster? 1954's movie GOG had a real Robot monster. Here the monster is more subtle. and stupid. Well you see, the actor thought he was in a noir cover-up conspiracy film, not really a horror film at all. At ten years old when the film was released, especially under the name Electronic Monster, I would have been bored by the whole talky film. The Brits would tackle the electronic mind control theme again, in the much better, "The Mind Benders" (1963)
The "dream" sequences are an interesting insert, into the whole dull affair, time for the kids to hit the bathroom. Sexy little vignettes, choreographed like a "Moulon Rouge" dance routine. Teddy Catsford is given credit for the special cinematography. Sexy numbers, un-sexy music. We cut to the grand finale, The clichéd Scientist burns down the Lab scene. OK, it delivers, as Mad scientist turns good, and zaps the bad guy before going down with the ship. Throw in the keystone kops, and a demented killer following the bosses orders, and you still have one dull presentation. Movies like this kept the popcorn flying at the matinees. For historic value, I upped the Stars, I give it Four out of Ten "Check out whats happening in the lobby" Stars.
The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)
Liked it, a lot more sensible than the blaring title. Spoiler alert, plot details, ahead, watch the film, enjoy, Talking about "The Earth Dies Screaming" 1964. And so, it does have scary dough eyed walking dead, and silver suited robot troupers, but fact is in the opening credit set up, most everyone died sleeping. Directed by Terence Fisher a master of British horror.
Fisher takes a stab at science fiction, and its not half bad. Intrepid American astronaut Jeff Nolan, played by Willard Parker, is introduced after a silent opening of Train Wrecks, Plane Wrecks, car crashes, and people lying dead in the streets. Spooky today, as back in sixty four. Is he the last man on earth alive ? No, in the first few minutes he meets Dennis Price, playing a very shifty but smooth criminal Quin Taggart. He travels with his lady, Peggy, played by Virginia Field at gunpoint.. Violet played by Vanda Godsel is the Hyper un-smart lady who travels with the good-natured when sober Edgar Otis, played by Thorley Walters, The young pregnant Lorna played by Alice Polk and her beau Mel played by David Spencer. All the Actors do a fine job, and when the script leans toward the relation side of things, it is fertile ground for interpersonal drama. On the bright side, a well produced, well scored mix. Borrowing on the theme of the last survivors on earth, in wake of worldwide everybody drops dead scenario, We have seen it before in classics like The Day of the Triffids, and Robot Monster. Given actors who can play their parts and keep it interesting, this is a worthy cast. Thats the good stuff.
On the other hand, yeah screaming ladies were par for the course; It sold the tickets and made the previews sensational, but did we need the. howling lapses of logic? The woman's roles were written with a disregard for logical survival instincts, can one be so panicky as not to lock a bolted door when being chased by a slow walking robots down the hall? I liked the film, real spoiler alert; so they knocked out the transmitter, now what happens when the mother ship comes to check things out. Seven out of Ten, "Independence day" Stars.
The Cold Lands (2013)
What a refreshing movie experience. I should state what i expect will appear obvious, and that is; I am a fan of the films of Terrence Malick, and Andrei Tarkovski. I am not afraid of long deliberate takes. Spoiler Alerts
The movie The Cold Lands, (2013) was Written and Directed by Tom Gilroy. The plot follows the wanderings of a young boy, about thirteen named Atticus, played by Silas Yelich, Home tutored by his mother, played by Lili Taylor. She schools him to be a caring human, and when she dies suddenly, Atticus takes to the road, not wanting to be sent to a home. Atticus eventually finds refuge in the hands of a benevolent Loner, Carter, played by Peter Scanavino. Not every-mothers role model, a craftsman at Art shows selling his wears and dealing in weed. Looking for work, but mostly self sufficient. Turns out Carter is a man with a good moral code, and honors honesty., Refreshing.
All the production values were excellent, the photography explored the situations. crystal clear visions, and misty nights. Cinematographer Wyatt Garfield, take a bow. Location shooting even in the wilds, the sound design emphasized the noises of silence. I was so surprised, had no idea what to expect. This thoughtful production gets Eight of Ten meandering Stars.
The Collector (2009)
Well that was certainly bleak. Talking about this 2009 release, "The Collector" Not the first movie with this name, I remember the 1965 version with Terrance Stamp and Samantha Egger, a very different movie. This one was capably Directed by Marcus Dunstan, Written by Patrick Melton with the director. Spoiler Alert ahead.
The setup, Arkin, played by Josh Stewart, Needs to raise money to pay off his wife's loan-shark debt. He will return to the Chase family house, and crack their safe. They are a wealthy and decent family.Good people, Mr and Mrs Chase, played by Michael Reilly Burke and Andrea Roth, and their two daughters older Jill played by Madeline Zima and younger Hannah played by Karley Scott Collins. The picture goes south as He finds that the family has been imprisoned by a maniac called, the collector played by Juan Fernandez. (Hence the movies title) They are all captive, and the house has been booby trapped with every nasty sharp and dangerous household items available. Will Arkin succeed in freeing the family? Will Arkin make it out alive?
The thing is, we the viewers care, at first. The production values are fine, the movie is well edited and the action clearly plotted out. We are given a guided tour of the house of horror, with the cruel anticipation that someone will be subject to the traps at a later point in the film. Here borrowing from the violent movie, "Straw Dogs". I continue to watch as the best defensive plans of the protagonists come to nothing. Would that a Krav Maga fighter would take on the "Collector" and put him down. Not to happen; As is the custom in the slasher films that this one is trying to rise above, the killer is as unstoppable as Leatherface, Jason or Freddy. The gruesome scenes made me lower the volume and avert my gaze. I dislike torture for torture sake. I can't fault the movies production values, but I shiver at it's lack of a moral conclusion. reread my opening line. Seven out of Ten "Dashed Hopes" Stars.
The forgotten past
Filmed in Nevada, and released 2011, Ominous is a strange movie. Spoiler alert ahead; it was Directed by Justin Burginzoni, and Written by Sharry Flaherty and scripted by Ryan Neil MicMachim. The set up: Family Man Gavan Callahan, played by Sean Patrick Flaherty, takes his wife Christina played by Elizabeth Purdy, and their three kids; oldest neglected kid, Mitch played by Joseph Anthony Jette, Middle boy Scott played by Nick Wolf and precocious youngest daughter, Young Sarah played by Chloe Brown. Gavan wants to make amends and get the family functioning, This is how the first half of the movie unveils.
On the plus side, there is some handsome photography. Unlike a fairly common faux pas, found in many films of this genera This film is well lit. Even the night scenes allow one to see what is happening. I like when that happens. The acting by the leads, is acceptable. The family is not long in the cabin, when strange things start to occur. Each of the children experience a dark presence, that will eventually dominate the entire action. but you have to wait for that.
Dead Children matching the ages of their living counterparts, inhabit the house. We have seen many spooky dead kids on film, The Ring comes to mind. Still this film maintains a high rating on the over all, "Creep" factor. On the negative side, the score is overbearing and at times redundant. Framing the scare gags in obvious ways; building up to the crescendo, like clockwork with every "jump" scene. The ending is disturbing in many ways, first off dealing with the topic of Mothers who kill their children. A way serious topic demanding a way serious execution, not the fodder for a ghost movie. Also disturbing is my inability to tie the past events with Christina of the present. All these memories were forgotten? Not a great movie, but worth a watch.Seven out of Ten "Creepy Kids" Stars.
Oh my, it's the, Attack of the beast creatures, (1985) Directed by Michael Stanley, and written by Robert A. Hutton. Spoiler Alert ahead. Not long ago, I was trying to define Cheesy, when it came to movies. I think I've got it. This effort might as well acknowledge the Truth in packaging laws, and call itself, Attack of the puppet hunter dolls. OK, the gimmick worked in Trilogy of Terror (1975) so now we have an island full of them.
I have to hand it to this rag tag group of actors, putting their best to make this nonsense, So what have we here? A lifeboat with a handful of survivors, Five guys and Four woman. A usual bland assortment. None of them are schooled in survival skills, nor in self defense. There are the good guys; Robert Nolfi plays John, pals with Case and Phillip, as played by Robert Lengyel and Frank Murgalo, We can tell they are the good guys, they wear ties, halfway through the production. Nobody likes Mr. Morgan played by Robert Furgelusky, No one player memorable, How could they be, given the material they had to work with. I pity the fools. Same could be said for the woman. Underwritten and devoid of personality, save for Mrs Gordon, played by Kay Baily, who everyone likes. The other woman, Cathy and Diane, played by Julia Rust, and Lisa Pac, mostly are called upon to scream and run. Did I mention banal dialogue?
"Look, there goes Bill running down the hill, No, don't Stop" They manage to pull off the non monster sequences, hoping that when it comes down to it. the effects won't look as phony as the toys they have to work with. They spin around with these rag dolls taped on them, and act like they are fighting off a savage attack. I am reminded of Lugosi fighting off the rubber Octopus prop,in a swamp. The gore scenes are blatantly phony. This could be said for all the effects in general, I saw the puppeteers hand manipulating the dolls, The "attacking dolls" are tossed haphazardly at the actors, while the sound artists try to figure out what these little hunters battle cry, should sound like. The effects do not match the look of the dolls, we hear the pitter patter of running feet, and the screechy sounds, none of which seem to fit the action. All the while the synthesized soundtrack by John P Mozzi, tries to find a tune to fit the picture, and fails miserably. . Cavernous sounds well up, Rick Wakeman style, and inappropriately. The organ does what a good soundtrack should not, it calls attention to itself, over the action. So this is cheesy On the plus side, the Acid water was an interesting display of originality, what was it doing here? A similar device was used in "The Life of Pi."(2012)
The film constantly challenges common sense, and in that it is consistent. that is why the film makes compelling viewing. You find yourself wondering why the girls are still wearing jewelry so late in, why the men don't make weapons, or at least carry sticks. Why they don't find a strategy to fend off the attacks, Nothing nunca, none of the above. I give it Four out of Ten "Inane" Stars
Flight to Mars (1951)
Flight to Mars, (1951) Was directed by Lesley Selander, and Written by Arthur Strawn. It was filmed in Supercinecolor, and the print I viewed was clean and bright, if not sharp. This was nifty stuff for a grown up science fiction picture. Destination Moon came out a year earlier, and frankly was much better. This is not so evident at the start of Flight to Mars. It begins well enough. Spoiler Alert, I will be talking about the film. In truth, it seems like the story had two writers, the first influenced by the Science and personalities of those involved in the Mission. Told through the eyes of the Investigative Journalist Steve Abbott Played straight as a hard hitting shot of gin, by Cameron Mitchell, Abbot happened to get in good with the crew of four guys and a girl. The Project Flight commander, Doctor Jim Barker, played by Arthur Franz, and his jilted fiancé, Carol Stafford , played by Virginia Huston. Also on board is a Scientist Doctor Lane played by Jon Litel, designed the craft, and last but not least the groups mathematician and observer Professor Jackson , played by Richard Gaines. Good enough for a start. On the plus side, the musical score was competent, yet somewhat exaggerated in style; cue military music followed by big opening shot fanfare, etc. The ship design was nicely done, and as it turns out, it was so popular that the same ship was used in three other space movies that followed. "Queen of Outer Space (1958) World without End (1956) and the space movie with the stowaway Monster, It the Terror from Beyond Space (1958) So far so good.
On the other hand, Once they land on Mars, it's like another writer took over, one who was more into Flash Gordon. Yes, there are people on mars, and they look like us, and they are costumed in the suits used in the fore mentioned, Destination Moon. They treat us friendly at first, but in the end, want to steal our ship so they can go off to conquer earth. On Mars we meet a varied cast of characters, A kindly council member who defends the earth people, his lovely daughter Alicia Played by Margurite Chapman, who falls for the dashing captain, The bad guys who plot against the Earth people are led by the nasty Ikron, played by Morris Ancrum. Plots against the Earthlings ensue, and only by wits and moxie, do we foil our foes.
A kid even back then might have thought it talky, and boring, once the ship crashes, and they start exploring the Martian habitat. Ooops, it seems Mars is running out of it's resources, and needs to conquer the Earth.
On the plus side again there was some beautiful costume design for the ladies of Mars. and the rumor has it that the movie was shot between five and eleven days.
Consider also the science fiction movie competition it had. Also released in 1951; The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Thing, and When Worlds Collide. Those define Awesome. Mars would have to wait to make a cinematic comeback. Seven very cheesy Stars out of Ten.
The Day Mars Invaded Earth (1963)
After the Body Snatchers
Spoiler alert; Holy Cow, They win! but more of that in a moment. we are talking about "The Day Mars Invaded Earth" (1963) Directed by Maury Dexter, and written by Harry Spalding. A Black and White film. The version I watched was uploaded on You Tube, and who ever did the upload used image Stabilization. This caused much distortion to the otherwise sharp image. The film was well lit and shot, in the old school studio style, There was a minimum of special effects. The California location shooting was impressive, The Rich mansion that served as the background for the story was in fact the Greystone Park and Mansion in Beverly Hills. The acting was minimal and efficient, as was the basic editing.
All things considered, this film had some intelligent thought behind it. For example, it begins with a Mars robotic rover, dropped on mars. It functions for six minutes before it is destroyed. Dr Fielding who designed the robot, and his assistant Dr Spencer are played by Kent Tayler and William Mims. Dr Spencer has taken a weekend off, to visit his wife Clair, played by Marie Windsor, and his daughter Judi played by Betty Beal, and his son Rocky played by Gregg Shank. All is not well at the home-front. It is not just the Doctors neglect of his wife and kids, He is trying to make amends, What is spooky, is that all of the members of the family experience seeing doubles of themselves. These doubles turn out to be quite real, they are energy manifestations of the intelligent life forms that survive on Mars. Even back in the sixties, we realized how hostile an environment Mars could be. The Martians are on earth, to stop the invasion of their world. Although they seem reasonable, their solution to our messing around on their planet, is to kill us off. The doctor learns of this first hand from his doppelganger. All the members of his family have been replicated, and much like the pod creatures in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) their ultimate intent is to take over Earth. This movie has much in common with the Body Snatchers, a much superior film. We only learn of the Martians desire to do away with us, in the somewhat shocking last few minutes.
The film is effective because of how it is underplayed. The Musical score by Richard LaSalle is also old school, and very effective in creating the feeling of unease that this film achieves on such a limited budget. I liked this film, the Scientists acted with intelligence to understand the threat to their planet, but never truly understood the brutality of the invaders. The ending leads us to believe there is not much hope for the people of Earth. Well done, Slow moving by today's standard, it never the less builds to a satisfyingly disturbing conclusion. Eight out of Ten "Obscure but Good" Stars.
The Thaw (2009)
The Thaw (2009) was written and directed by Mark A. Lewis. Spoiler Alert, as I will be talking about the film. There have been other films about odd finds in the frozen north. Here we have a supposedly cautionary tale, about an insect revived after eons, due to the climate change. Literally thawed. The find is documented by Dr Kruipen, played by Val Kilmer, and his assistant Jane Sanders played by Ann Marie Deluise. Both become infected with the new-found parasites. Bad timing, the doctors daughter Evelyn played by Martha MacIsaac joined by a group of students, are on their way to visit to the doctors isolated base.
There are some parallels to the superior John Carpenter movie, The Thing (1982) Issues of Quarantine are raised, and the psychology of the infected, also the possibility of a worldwide epidemic outbreak that would cripple civilization.
Val Kilmers Dr, wanted to bring the plague to the people to open the worlds eyes to the risks of doing nothing; to stop "Warming". Logic Fail, We have to get infected to avoid getting infected? The politics are hooie, but the story of a new micro organism released back into the world, is not a bad concept. Here it's buggy.
Once again bugs provide the gristly and nasty effects. The Helicopter pilot, played by Viv LeaCock bit on the arm, carries the parasites in his wound. he's not the only one in the group infected, Poor Ling played by Steph Song, and her boyfriend Frederico played by Kyle Schmid. The flesh wound effects are not entirely realistic, but they still have a "wince" factor. The production values were fair, nothing more than workable. On the plus side it was well shot, and well lit. The actors were earnest. Martha's character carried the dramatic weight of the film as she discovers her fathers evil plan. Lets give this Seven out of Ten "Who'll survive" Stars.