Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
A mish-mash of 1990's Film Noir clichés cobbled together for the undiscerning
I suppose this is just about watchable as erotic thrillers go. Everything is very tame though and were it not for the one torture scene ( hands nailed to table in case you were wondering ) and the themes of bondage and murder, this would probably get a 'U' rating.
The story has scriptwriter Elliot Callahan heading off to Nantucket island to try and find some inspiration for his latest, overdue, assignment. Once there he becomes embroiled in the usual small-town high-jinks of murder, madness, sex and violence. The chain of events spiralling out of control after he decides to pass off the local weirdo's script as his own.
There is little else to say really - all the characters and performances are dull and bland ( apart from the 'comic-book-guy' on the plane who is quite amusing ) and the story is uninvolving, full of unexplored themes. To be fair the film seems to have had some thought behind it ( the opening and closing credits are neat ) and I'm prepared to believe that writer/director John Johnson put some passion into the project, but nothing really comes together properly.
All I learnt was that scriptwriters are semi-alcoholic, whining wimps with no morals or dress sense. I mean this guy was sobbing when he was having the nails pulled out of his hands. I seem to remember Barton Fink blubbing as well - jeez !! - pull yourself together you writers.
Also, can anyone enlighten me as to the meaning of the title - maybe i'm missing something obvious but why Ratchet ?
Female Jungle (1956)
Where was the tribe of Amazon women ?
Even at 73 minutes this film began to drag, which is a shame because as B-movies go it had quite a lot of promise. The 1950's were better known for the sometimes laughable sci-fi offerings - it was often only the cheap special-effects which caused derision though and the films had lots of good ideas and storylines. The film noir rip-offs from the same period didn't rely on effects and most are worth watching - they are certainly better than the straight-to-video junk churned out in the 90's.
'Female Jungle' begins with the murder of a glamourous blonde actress outside a bar. Having immediately grabbed our interest the narrative steadily falters and ultimately the good work is undone by a confused plot and characters who elicit little interest.
Lawrence Tierney plays the central character, a drunken cop who may be involved in the crime, but he only serves as a dull vehicle around which the minor, but more interesting, characters can operate. These are primarily John Carradine as the suave but sleazy agent of the murdered actress and Jayne Mansfield who plays Candy Price, the mistress of a down-on-his-luck artist who knew the victim ( the artist is played by one Burt Kaiser who also wrote and produced the film, but seems to have done nothing else at all - wonder what happened to him ).
The action seems to take place over one night - there are certainly no daylight scenes - but there is a disjointed feel to proceedings and I kept getting lost towards the end as to what was exactly happening.
If you take away the great title, the opening 5 minutes and Jayne Mansfield then there is not much here. B-Movies don't need a great deal though and these 3 elements make the film just about worth catching.
British Horror at its best - grim and gruesome, but intelligent.
This is an impressive downbeat British horror from the Pete Walker / David McGillivray partnership which, despite its gory reputation, works on more of a psychological level.
From the grainy black & white prologue, with a pre-Fawlty Towers Andrew Sachs visiting a deserted fairground, to the terrifying climax in a farm attic, 'Frightmare' holds itself together incredibly well.
The bulk of the narrative revolves around twenty-something Jackie and her wild-child teenage sister Debbie. Jackie frequently goes to visit her parents in an isolated farmhouse, both of whom have recently been released from a mental institution. The atmosphere of unease built up in these family scenes is almost suffocating, with Sheila Keith putting in a virtuoso performance as Dorothy, the mother.
Things come to a head when Jackie's psychiatrist boyfriend Graham (complete with incredibly annoying thick framed glasses), decides to start prying into the family history and takes a visit up to the farm.
The film has been termed as Britain's answer to 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' and make no mistake, 'Frightmare' is every bit as impressive as its more famous American counterpart. There are also a few nods to Hitchcock's 'Psycho' and once again any comparisons are favourable.
The only previous Pete Walker film I'd seen was 'The Confessional' (1975) which despite some interesting ideas was overall disappointing. 'Frightmare' really delivers the goods though and should be in everyone's list of Top Cult Horror Films.
BEST SCENE - any of Dorothy's Tarot Card readings.
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
It's very good, but didn't quite deserve the Oscar sweep which it received.
A virtually flawless drama concerning marriage break-up and the ensuing custody battle. Don't be put off by the storyline - the film has quality stamped all over it, and anybody with an appreciation for the cinema will lap it up. I'm a B Movie horror & sci-fi fan, but 'Kramer vs Kramer' is still in my Top 50 films of all time list.
I'm sure everyone is familiar with the plot, so I won't go over old ground. Needless to say that Dustin Hoffman is excellent, but is matched by Justin Henry who really does give a performance by an 8 year old which is Oscar worthy (he was nominated for Supporting Actor but didn't win). Meryl Streep is fine in a difficult role which is bound to elicit little sympathy from the audience - fortunately her part becomes more secondary as the storyline develops.
There's little else to say really - the classical music score is spot-on, the film forces you to cry without resorting to crass tear-jerking sentimentality and the ending works, despite being a bit implausible. A fine film to round off the best decade of cinema.
The only real grumble I have is that 'Kramer vs Kramer' was used by the 'powers-that-be' to make a point and dampen down the fire which the new wave of young, radical directors were stirring. The film was rushed out by Columbia to qualify for the 1979 Academy Awards and compete against 'Apocalypse Now'. As top notch as 'Kramer vs Kramer' is, the Best Film Oscar it won should have rightfully gone to Coppola's Vietnam epic.
BEST SCENE - the French Toast breakfast fiasco.
Le frisson des vampires (1971)
A couple of striking images can't dilute the fact that this is like watching a tacky porno film with all the juicy bits cut out.
Dreamy European vampire art-film with a modern-day setting, but all the trappings of a more traditional period horror. Throw in a psychedelic pop score and various hippy motifs and the result is an awkward hybrid of themes and ideas.
'Le Frissons des Vampires' is basically a slow series of impressive images set to music, with limited dialogue and a disjointed narrative. The characters and performances are wooden but functional, although this is probably a deliberate method of enhancing the surreal aspects more. The allusions to vampire eroticism, with semi-clad females and implied lesbianism, are not unwelcome but the results are singularly uninteresting with little to excite the viewer.
The storyline - pair of newlyweds stop off at a Castle inhabited by vampires - meanders dreamily (drearily) along, with no points of interest to break up the monotony. Despite some individual images which are stunning - the female vampire emerging from the grandfather clock - it's difficult to find much to recommend here. I'm not sure how much of the film's strength was lost to the poor dubbing, but even so I can't help feeling that 'Lust for a Vampire' (1971), despite its lack of artistic merit is better entertainment.
For all its striking visuals, Rollin's film falls down on too many basic levels and as naked lesbian vampire films go, it's simply dull to watch.
The Vampire Bat (1933)
Misleading title glosses over a run-of-the-mill mystery thriller.
'The Vampire Bat' is definitely of interest, being one of the early genre-setting horror films of the 1930's, but taken in isolation everything is a bit too creaky for any genuine praise.
The film is set in a European village sometime in the 19th Century, where a series of murders are being attributed to vampirism by the suspicious locals. There is a very similar feel to James Whale's 'Frankenstein' and this is compounded by the introduction of Lionel Atwill's Dr Niemann character, complete with his misguided ideas for scientific advancement.
The vampire theme is arbitrary and only used as a red-herring by having suspicion fall on bat-loving village simpleton Herman (Dwight Frye), thus providing the excuse for a torch-wielding mob to go on the rampage - as if they needed one.
This is one of a trio of early horror films in which Lional Atwill and Fay Wray co-starred (also 'Doctor X' and 'The Mystery of the Wax Museum') and like their other collaborations the film suffers from ill-advised comic relief and a tendency to stray from horror to mainstream thriller elements. Taken in context though, 'The Vampire Bat' is still weak and derivative.
All we are left with is a poor-quality Frankenstein imitation, with the vampire elements purely a device to hoodwink Dracula fans. But for the title the film would struggle to even be considered as a horror and it is worth noting that director Frank Strayer was doing the 'Blondie' films a few years later.
Wholesome entertainment for all the family.
A flat disturbing film, almost documentary in scope which trawls the depths of the human condition. 'Henry' is not surprisingly often slated as a violent exploitation film, bundled together at Film Fairs with the Italian cannibal flicks of the 70's.
Make no mistake though, this is a highly commendable piece of movie-making, which tackles the subject of serial killers with the same no-holds-barred approach which 'M' did way back in 1931. By referencing the early Fritz Lang classic, I am intentionally comparing 'Henry' favourably with it. I would also say that Henry Rooker's performance is on a par with Peter Lorre's.
The film develops like a three-handed play, revolving around Henry's flat which he shares with former prison-mate, Otis. The trio is made up by Becky, the sister of Otis, who comes to visit.
We are introduced to Henry immediately as a killer and the story does exactly what it says it will in the film's title. We simply follow Henry throughout his daily routine. No mention is given to any police enquiries and Henry is oblivious to any notion of avoiding capture or covering his tracks. Much of the film's power comes from this nonchalant approach, whereby if a person doesn't register that something he is doing is wrong, then it quickly becomes almost acceptable.
Rooker, in the title role, is totally convincing and gives a chilling performance, free from the mannerism clichés which detract from more famous serial killer characters like Hannibal Lector and Norman Bates. I can only think of Kevin Spacey in 'Seven' (1995) giving a similar level of performance for this character-type.
Despite a couple of scenes whose violent content borders on the gratuitous, for the most part 'Henry' succeeds by relying on a suffocating atmosphere and it's down-beat characters.
Anyone without a sense of desolation at the end of the film must be devoid of their senses.
BEST SCENE - Henry and Otis enjoying a night in on the sofa, watching their recent home-video recordings, is one of the most disturbing scenes I can remember watching.
Cronenberg's finest hour.
I'm not usually a Cronenberg fan - I find his films self-indulgent, pretentious efforts with nothing but a misconceived sense of style going for them - a bit like Brian DePalma really.
'Shivers' was his first commercial feature and I assumed it was going to follow the path taken by his subsequent efforts. As usual I was wrong though, instead finding it to be a first-rate, low-budget, exploitation sleaze-fest which deserves all the praise it gets.
The action takes place in an apartment complex, where consumerism and faceless modern society are king. The inhabitants are a lifeless bunch of middle-class people going through the motions of life. All is about to change however, as a Scientist's experiments have resulted in people becoming sexual predators and carriers of a foot-long parasitic creature which is passed from person to person.
The film has all the shortcomings of being low-budget, but it also has a real raw energy and succeeds in ramming it's point home to the audience. The commercial restraints become positive influences on the story and enhance the overall result - a semi-documentary approach is used, seen with similar success in 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer'(1986).
Whilst in no way trying to elevate 'Shivers' above it's station as an above-average cheapo exploitation flick, it can certainly be considered alongside other influential horror film debuts of the period like Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead'(1968) and Hooper's 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'(1974).
BEST SCENE - Barbara Steele taking a bath with something wet and slimy heading in her direction.
The Treasure of Jamaica Reef (1975)
Painful to sit through - an unwatchable mess.
A cobbled together non-film, which ranks as one of the most tedious 75 minutes I have ever spent.
The story, for what its worth, concerns a cop who comes into the possession of a cursed treasure map - he takes a vacation and jets off to the Caribbean to try and find the sunken treasure.
There may be more to the plot than this, but it would be impossible to tell from watching this utter shambles of a film - the increasingly random and meaningless scenes are tenuously held together by voice-over explanations. Arbitrary underwater footage is used whenever the stitched together dialogue scenes go off at too great a tangent.
The search for the treasure totters along until the spare footage runs out and we have the cop returning to his desk delivering some banal story wrap-up.
Don't misunderstand me, I am a lover of rubbish films, but 'Evil in the Deep' doesn't even register on my scale as a film in the proper sense - there is no characterisation, no dialogue of any consequence, no continuity, no token nudity, no nothing ! ! Even Cheryl Ladd (billed as Cheryl Stoppelmoor) in a bikini can't save this from sinking like a brick.
As the video cover states - "Rips your Nerves to Shreds" - too right! I was a gibbering wreck after being subjected to this water torture. I can't figure out how to quantify just how bad this film is, but 'Jaws IV The Revenge' is at least 10 times better.
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
A rousing colonial adventure which shrouds a very sombre tale of greed and lost dreams.
This is a first rate historical adventure film, which also succeeds as a grim morality tale with the addition of a clever framing story.
Top British stars Sean Connery and Michael Caine team up as a pair of vagabond soldiers in India, who are out to scheme their way to fame and fortune. Their latest plan involves travelling to the remote kingdom of Kafiristan, where legend tells of vast treasures ripe for plundering.
This is story-telling on a grand scale, with sweeping outside locations and cinematography. The two principles are perfectly cast, although maybe as a result of this both tend to go through the motions somewhat. Caine gets away with this just about, but Connery is often found wanting - the frequent reliance on humour in the first half of the film in both their performances adds little. Fortunately help is on hand from Christopher Plummer and Saeed Jaffrey, who take the acting honours in supporting roles.
The reliance on action means the script plays a minor role and it's a shame there isn't more interplay between the characters - the storyline is very strong and would have accommodated more scenes with an emphasis on dialogue.
These are minor quibbles though, and 'The Man Who Would be King' is still a very good film - potentially it could have been a classic though.
Michael Caine's stunning wife Shakira plays Roxanne, the modern incarnation of the wife of Alexander the Great, and makes an impression despite having no dialogue.