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816 reviews in total 
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Mixed up whodunit comedy starring the Tin Man himself..., 13 August 2014

1st watched 8/10/2014 -- 3 out of 10 (Dir-Frank McDonald): Mixed up whodunit comedy starring the Tin Man himself, Jack Haley -- with Bela Lugosi playing a butler who keeps trying to serve coffee laced with rat poisoning throughout the movie and no-one accepts. This isn't what the movie's about, but does bring a little snicker to an otherwise standard movie where we trap all the possible inheritants into a house overnight waiting to see what happens. The deceased wants to be buried in a to-be constructed glass coffin under the stars, and wants his heirs to squabble until it's done when the final will is revealed. If he's buried underground or anyone leaves the premises-- the will is going to be handled in reverse order making for an interesting situation since no one really knows who's getting what. Tuttle, Haley's character, gets involved when he comes by the place to sell insurance and gets dragged into staying by a comely young woman. This movie tries to be a comedy in the vein of an Abbott and Costello comedy with horror -- but Haley doesn't pull off what could have been funny scenes. Also -- the confusion in the plot just makes the viewer stop caring. There are a couple interesting gags with Tuttle buried alive under water in a pond full of goldfish, and the much-used good conscience vs. bad conscience scenes are different. I guess the main appeal for me was seeing an adult-comedy with Lugosi and Haley, but beyond that there wasn't much. So as a piece of historia it's interesting but as a movie it has very little appeal really.

Storm War (2011)
Exciting and well-written movie..., 6 August 2014

Storm War (2011) DVD I watched titled "Weather Wars" 1st watched 8/3/2014 – 7 out of 10(Dir-Todor Chapkanov): Exciting and well-written movie about a scientist who's funding is cutoff by the government on a project where the intent was to use weather as an asset channeling it into a weapon for the country. The senator who dropped the funding becomes a target to the elderly scientist years later as he's perfected his research and is using it as revenge. The main evil character is played by Stacy Keach – his two sons and a former assistant try to help the government track him down before he kills a lot of people. Keach's character poses initially as a bum to plant a tracking device on the Senator and then let's lose the energy sources that create the weather anomalies. Keach does a great job in this role and the rest of the cast carry the load well despite the somewhat inconceivable plot. The director, Todor Chapkanov, keeps the story moving with the only flaw being an attempt at throwing in some romance, which in my opinion, was un-necessary. Otherwise the story flows well and keeps your interest to the very end. The Senator's character is sometimes too hardlined and formulaic as far as being the no-holds barred rough guy, but the other characters are believable. The sons are two totally different personalities – one following in his father's footsteps and the other going the other direction – which makes for an interesting collaboration. As the father continues bringing down his haters the group work well together to try and bring him down and stop the ultimate destruction of the city of Washington D.C. This, in my opinion, was an un-expected gem where this genre is usually too over-the-top for anyone to pay attention --- but they make the possibility seem believable making the movie work.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Hollywood glorification of a vikings tale..., 3 August 2014

1st watched 8/2/2014 -- 3 out of 10(Dir-Richard Fleischer): Hollywood glorification of a vikings tale with lots of star billing, but little else. The story starts by showing us an English king losing his thrown to an heir that is not worthy with the queen knowing that there is a young viking lad out there somewhere that is her child and deserves the position instead. We are then presented with the boisterous party-like drinking vikings initially led by a character played by Ernest Borgnine with his son played by Kirk Douglas. He admires his son way too much primarily because of his boldness(which maybe he lacks) and thus the admiration. The daughter to the throne, Morganna played by Janet Leigh -- is sought after for ransom -- but of course --- Kirk's character wants her for himself for other purposes. Tony Curtis plays the bastard viking son who is an heir but doesn't know it --- and of course, all he wants as well is Morganna. This movie tries to be a romantic triangle within a Viking war-driven oden worshipping culture, but it fails because we never really care for any of the characters. Curtis is fine as a slaved-Viking, but the rest are womanizers who just want glory and victories. We really don't know why they want to conquer England they just do. The preparation to the battles are boring -- the battles are boring -- the ending has no connection to the beginning of the movie -- so overall this is just a mess. This was a very expensive movie that was popular at the box office for some reason, and I'm sure a lot of people got paid well -- but as a movie it flops big time. Boo to Hollywood for producing this quickie money-maker.

The Sadist (1963)
Unwielding sadistic thriller for it's time..., 31 July 2014

1st watched 7/26/2014 -- 3 out of 10(Dir-James Landis): Unwielding sadistic thriller for it's time -- even though that's really all it has going for it. The story is about three teachers who have car trouble on the way to a baseball game and pull into a car parts and repair shop on a Sunday hoping to get some assistance. They soon find out there is no-one around except two crazy young kids who threaten them at gunpoint to fix their car and let them use it. The male counterpart is a slick looking weird sounding crazy person, played by Arch Hall Jr., who we find out later has some experience in murdering other folk, and the couple is on the run for those murders. The movie could have been better if they explored a little deeper the evil character's reasoning for what they were doing but this never really happens. They start tinkering a little bit with a "survival of the fittest" mentality when the first teacher is killed and the other two are given a chance to take his place but do not offer. If these ideas were explored it would have made for a twilight-zone like experience. Instead the goofy aspects of the main evil character become centerstage and the movie relentlessly keeps going longer than movies in the early 60's usually take us. It's also kind of un-nerving to view the victims plodding through their thinking process about how to escape when you'd think that their survival instincts would just kick in. This is an interesting attempt at a genre that is overused nowadays -- but this was new for it's time -- but it just doesn't quite hit the mark.

Bloodlust! (1961)
Unimpressive horror movie..., 24 July 2014

1st watched 7/11/2014 – 3 out of 10(Dir-Ralph Brooke): Unimpressive horror movie about another mad doctor on a mostly un-inhabited island who makes a game out of chasing down and hunting all different kids of mammals and animals. This isn't the worst early 60's cheaply made horror film(this isn't saying much), but it could have been much better. The father from "Brady Bunch" – a young Robert Reed – plays one of the young adults who are taking a fun boat ride when they encounter an unknown island, and direct the drunk captain to put them ashore so they can see what's there(they are thinking treasure??). Instead they find there are folk that have put up camp there already and want them to stay the night. Wilton Graff plays the host and he seems kind, but it's obvious things are not kosher pretty early on. He introduces himself as a hunter, but we find out later that it's not just animals that he keeps as trophies. This very short movie(68 minutes) – does a good job of keeping the pace going and is interesting as a story, but there are too many un-intentionally comical scenes where the viewer just shakes his head about the responses of the characters to the situation. There are a lot of scenes put there so we can here the women scream from fright(woo hoo!!). The igor-type helpers of the doctor are another area that is unclear(how did they get there?? why do they follow his every command??). Some of the parts of the movie and the theme is pretty shocking for the early 60's and in some ways ahead of it's time in this area, but overall this is just a mediocre movie that is not a bad viewing, but there is nothing to make it that worthwhile.

Aliens (1986)
Very good sci-fi action movie..., 6 July 2014

1st watched 7/3/2014 -- 8 out of 10(Dir-James Cameron): Very good sci-fi action movie in this second film starring the perfect alien life form created in the original 1979 movie. This movie doesn't try to imitate the original but just makes a good fast moving scary film that gives us more information about the creatures and introduces us to the big mama who is making all the eggs. It starts with Ripley, played again by Sigourney Weaver, and her cat being picked up by a salvage team after flying around for 56 years in space. When she shares her encounter about the Alien species it's initially dismissed, but when they are unable to contact a group of residents living on the planet where the alien ship was first found -- she's asked to join a bunch of marines on a trip to the planet. There are some homages to the original including the initial title screen, and the scene where the crew wakes up from their longtime slumber, but Cameron definitely has his own way of doing things. He doesn't take too long to turn the movie into action fare, but does also a good job of establishing Ripley's motherly instincts that helps us understand her motivation to kick ass later. Newt, a small child lone survivor, becomes kind of Ripley's adopted child since her real child is already deceased. There are a couple of silly dialogued scenes and some unintentional humor brought out from Bill Paxton's character because he is so caricatured, but other than this the movie is well done. Some of the broadly drawn typecast characters are a negative, but Michael Biehn's characters provides a combat person with a heart which is nice to see. Paul Reiser, plays the nice guys who turns bad and we wish it wouldn't happen, but it does. As an action alien movie it would be hard to get much better than this dismiss the character imperfections --- enjoy this, and wait for the next one!!

Seriously bad movie..., 5 July 2014

1st watched 6/29/2014 -- 1 out of 10(Dir-Del Tenney): Seriously bad movie about a mad doctor inhabiting an island called Voodoo Island initially trying to use venom to cure cancer but, of course, he starts using it on the natives and they start having a bad reaction(like they turn into zombies). And of course, the voodoo group on the island wants to sacrifice blond virgins ??, and the daughter of one of the doctors just happens to be one. A hunky athletic-type writer, played by William Joyce, is asked to go to this island to break out of his writing funk -- the publisher thinking he'll get inspired by the rumors about what's going on there. The "I can do everything" hunk upon arrival decides to try and rescue everyone and make everything right as well as write his novel. There are re-used sets, acknowledgments at the beginning of the movie to the companies who did product placements, and a lame title that doesn't really pertain to anything except to shock the audience. The makeup on the zombies is bad and there is a re-used plot borrowed from movies like "The Island of Dr. Moreau" complete with a bad guy who comes across way too nice at the beginning only to quickly become evil. It's fun once in a while to watch movies like this to wonder how it actually got made, and if the makers really had any intentions to do anything worthwhile or not. At least there are a few chuckles and the hopes that this will be covered on "Mystery Science Theatre 3000" for better chuckles but other than that this movie is pretty worthless.

Interesting but calculated mystery..., 4 July 2014

1st watched 6/26/2014 -- 5 out of 10(Dir-Hugo Fregonese): Interesting but calculated mystery revolving around the British "Jack the Ripper" legend. This movie version of the story involves a mysterious pathologist played by a young Jack Palance who is setup early on as a possible suspect in the ripper's murders. This is not necessarily done thru the screenplay but rather by the way the movie is directed. From the first scene, the Ripper is the focus as two policeman escort home a drunk older lady only to see her murdered. Palance's character then arrives on the scene looking for a room with an attic to perform his experiments -- supposedly. Palance has the ability to be charming yet sometimes scary and menacing and shows his screen presence in this early film. Palance is not the problem with this movie -- the problem is that it sets his character up too early and rides him as a mysterious unknown with Frances Baviar(from Andy Griffith's TV show) as the landlord exclaiming her belief in his guilt early on. It's fun to see Aunt Bee before she became this TV show character, but other than this oddity the movie doesn't provide much mystery or allure. The cast is fine and there isn't any over-acting it's just not a good screenplay. I guess if you want to see these TV stars in earlier roles it's not a wasted viewing but other than that it doesn't offer much. It's kind of alarming that a man that actually did a lot of real killing to women in England has gotten so much attention and movie credo's but I guess that's just the way of our world....the movie doesn't help us understand anything different about this character and doesn't make for a worthwhile experience unfortunately.

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Effective drama about a group of professional fighters..., 28 June 2014

1st watched 6/21/2014 -- 7 out of 10 (Dir-Akira Kurosawa): Effective drama about a group of professional fighters(aka. Samurai) who are hired to fight and defend a small village from a group of bandits that have been terrorizing them for awhile. The Samurai(originally seven) teach the villagers more than they expect as well as providing them with a more promising . What makes this work is the storytelling and the relationships that occur between the villagers and the Samurai. The Samurai provide very elaborate defenses for the village and a scheme that works to allow them to handle the bandits. They also train the male villagers to be a part of the battle and get them to realize their potentials. The movie is slow in it's development and not really a hard core action movie like it is advertised but more of a story about how this community is established and how they interact. Yes -- there are battles(mostly in the last half of the movie) but the results are pretty inevitable because of the preparation. The villagers start out as meek, shallow people who allow others to stamp all over them -- but they are transformed by the Samurai before the end of the movie to a stronger group more equipped to handle life in general. There is a small romance thrown in involving one of the younger Samurai with a female villager but this is there primarily to show that the villager's original fear about the Samurai overwhelming their woman is not true. The Samurai are not paid for this endeavor -- they are basically given very meager room and board(which shows the character of those who were chosen). A young Toshiro Mifune was the only actor's name I recognized but I'm sure the whole cast is very well known in Japan due to the major hit this was when it came out. This classic film is definitely worth the viewing even at 3 and 1/2 hours.

Godzilla (2014)
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Amazing adventure monster movie ..., 6 June 2014

1st watched 5/31/2014 – 8 out of 10(Dir-Gareth Edwards): Amazing adventure monster movie where the main attraction is the monsters and the humans are just along for the ride. I'm not saying the movie doesn't have a good human story that keeps you interested – it does, but we understand who's in control when the movie is over and I think that was the original intention of the Godzilla legend when it was created in 1956. This 2014 version is visually almost perfect and has a storyline that keeps you interested with a twist making Godzilla not necessarily the enemy of mankind. Early in the movie some other monsters are discovered hatching in a couple of areas of the world being disguised as seismic activity, and they start feeding off the energy sources around them. Some of the Japanese folk are aware of Godzilla's existence and these occurrences happening before – so they are called in for assistance. An American who used to work for a company that originally discovered the first monster believes this 2nd occurrence is a cover-up and him and his son, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, become involved. Godzilla is then awakened basically because these creatures can upset the order of nature including destroying mankind but also being higher on the food chain then the before mentioned Godly, King of the Monsters. The creators of this film, with Director Gareth Edwards, have now re-awakened the classic monster movie and upgraded it for this generation not necessarily because of the special effects, but because of the great storytelling. The monsters are not really that unique conceptually for this age(I even wondered if Godzilla was partially played by a man in a suit like some of the early films but don't believe it was), but a lot of care was taken in making the story unique and quick-paced. I don't believe those connected with the genre will be disappointed and neither will newbies. An overall triumph despite the many different variations of these movies that have been made over the years from this classic monster.

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