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The Loch Ness Horror (1981)
We're really in Scotland...really!
Oh Larry Buchanan, we do have fun! Other than B schlockers Attack of the Eye Creatures and Zontar the Thing from Venus, this is the next of Larry's movies that I have had the fortune of seeing. I haven't personally been to Scotland, but a lot of faux Scots accents didn't seem to help convince me they were there either. Is it just me or a magic trick how the Scottish accents drift in and out especially during extended dialogue scenes. Hey, they had to sell it somehow I guess.
Kudos to Doc Livingston for playing Scot eccentric Jack Stewart who provides the most entertainment out of the lot. Jack's daughter (played by Miki McKenzie) is nice to look at and has the best effort in sounding passably Scottish. I won't try to give away about the movie's main attraction, but let's just say that it has really shiny velour skin in sunlight..at least from the neck up. The nose bubbles added a nice touch.
Larry shows his ability to switch from day to night and back to day scenes. Hey, at least they got to shoot the film in sunny weather. Although far from a good movie, Loch Ness Horror is a manageable work by Mr Buchanan and definitely earns it's 'B' grading.
Visiting Hours (1982)
Where was Bill?
Watching this one had me taking a lot of breaks to do something. I mean it's difficult to make a hospital look exciting. See the wheelchairs drift around the hallway corners! A lot of typical horror ploys can be found throughout this one. Kudos to Michael Ironside who plays one effectively messed up eccentric. Why did Lee Grant look like she went bobbing in talcum powder? That's not a knife..it's a safety baton.
This one needed more Shatner. In his short scenes, he shows great concern through facial expressions. He probably got confused wondering where the script had gone. I have to admit..Bill's appearance at the crime scene is the funniest scene ever.
Disaster on the Coastliner (1979)
Speaking of train wrecks
Ah, you have to love the 70s. Time of the made for TV movies.
This train tale of terror includes a lot of separate scenes cut together to appear like some semblance of an actual movie. Scenes range from railroad track construction, several train car interiors, and my favorite: the people gathering to protest. Why or what they are protesting is not really explained but you have to love the shoddy signs and workmanship.
The acting does its best to keep the movie bustling along the tracks. Lloyd Bridges is angry, annoyed and tries to take control pretty much in every scene he is in. I knew I recognized E.G. Marshall from somewhere but didn't recognize him without cockroaches crawling all over as from his performance in the classic Creepshow. E.G. and Lloyd butting heads trying to find a solution provide some highlights.
Bill Shatner saves this from being a true disaster. I can never get enough seeing Bill smoke cigarettes, do his mack daddy Kirk routine, and eluding the authorities all at once. He pretty much stands out whenever on screen and the epic finale makes this worth the ride.
Take the ticket for this 70s version of Speed on trains..except it's better.
The Nasty Rabbit (1964)
Bacteria isn't the only deadly thing here
Ouch, this was one of the most trying Fairway International experiences that I've had to endure. The movie never seemed to flow and I found a lot of reasons to hit the pause button to get a sandwich, read a book, vacuum, go for a quick run...
Why didn't it work? It was as if the weak storyline (thanks a lot William Waters!), a full color production, dude ranch, espionage, and a furry hare were put together in a blender and out came Nasty Rabbit. Much of the humor is forced and there's not even any unintentional humor to be found. There were too many scenes with the secondary characters who carry the film the way a 16 ton weight floats in the ocean (it doesn't). Add stereotypical caricatures including a Mexican bandito garbed in south of the border attire plus sombrero, a Japanese spy in WWII uniform, a German with the worst imitation of Colonel Clink...EVER. Throw in a Russian commander with the worst Russian accent ever attempted (thanks a heap Nicholas Merriwether) and you'll find yourself doing crossword puzzles or making crocheted doilies.
Perhaps if Nasty Rabbit focused more on Britt (Arch Hall Jr) and Jackie (Sharon Ryker), it would have been an improvement. I know I know, I'm asking for more Arch Hall Jr. Trust me, I've seen Eegah and I still think Cabbage Patch Elvis should've gotten more screen time here. More Arch Hall Jr songs (only one is played in the film) would've livened things up. I can't believe I said that, but this is the truth...and I've seen Wild Guitar and the Choppers. And bring back more Richard Kiel! He berates a pint sized calf rustler and then vanishes into film obscurity. Oh, and the Benny Hill chase scenes towards the end caused me spasmic terror to no end.
Still, the bunny credits signs were unique.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
QOS: sophomore slump?
Ah, Quantum of Solace. After Casino Royale, expectations were understandably high for Daniel Craig's second outing as 007. However, the movie as a whole is average at best. After having seen QOS a few times, I do feel that the high points in the film far outweigh the lows overall.
Give credit to Daniel Craig for his portrayal of the no nonsense, stone cold secret agent. I did feel one minor flaw how Bond is shown as a super agile, acrobatic agent able to jump, flip, and somersault his way out of any dangerous situation. James Bond has always be known for using his wits and instincts to survive rather than just brawn alone. However, this is minor and it does provide for entertaining action. I do like how QOS starts off right where Casino Royale ended. The enigmatic Mr. White and his mysterious organization has M & co. at their wits end trying to figure out what he's up to.
The relationships between the characters are great here especially between Bond and M. You sense they are both on shaky ground since M is not sure whether or not she can fully trust him to act objectively (especially after the events in Casino Royale). Bond's stubborn and headstrong ways push the envelope to the edge, but he still manages to prove to M that he is reliable. From the earlier films of Connery, Moore (and so on), M & 007's relationship is already well established. I thought it was interesting to show the early side of it here. Also, Felix Leiter (played well by Jeffrey Wright) and Bond bump into each other again. Even though they've only met once, you can sense the trust between the two. This relationship is a major theme between 007 and Felix in most of the Bond films.
On the downside, QOS suffers from a weak story. The story of Mr. White, Bond's quest for revenge and finding the truth is great, but after the first third of the movie, it tends to drift away from that. The plan of Dominic Greene and Quantum was just not as interesting. The action scenes (car chase, interrogation, hotel battle) are fun, but the times in between seem to hurt the pacing of the film. Dominic Greene was a subpar villain who's best weapon was making threats. Also, Camille came off kind of bland as just seemed to 'be there'. I felt that Fields (Gemma Arterton) played a much more memorable role. In fact, her one scene was strangely reminiscent of Goldfinger.
Overall, QOS is not a bad Bond film. I must admit that I am curious to see how Bond 23 will be, but I must be patient and await MI6's debriefing for that future mission.
You Only Live Twice (1967)
Not the best overall Bond but it's still my personal favorite
What's not to like about You Only Live Twice? It stars the ultimate 007 in Sean Connery, takes place in exotic Japan, and has one of the best Bond villain stars in Donald Pleasance! I can't forget his introduction as he turns in his chair: a Bond top moment in villainy! There's plenty of action in the film ranging from Bond's escapades with danger and an all out good vs bad battle royale finale. There's not too many of Q's gadgets here, but Little Nellie shines on her own. The film is never boring and there's a lot of humor throughout especially one liners from Bond, Tiger Tanaka, AND Blofeld (did I mention Donald Pleasance rules??). For some strange reason, I felt that Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi) left a stronger impression than Kissy (Mie Hama). Hey, you can't go wrong with either one!
Add a great theme song, volcanic fury, and ninja training and this makes for fun & exciting adventure for 007.
Comanche blanco (1968)
Look at me, I can ride a horse!
One thing you have to admit about Shatner: the guy is definitely an entertainer.
White Commanche is a strange hybrid of spaghetti western and the Twilight Zone. The story does not have much humor (except unintentional of course) and has a very dark mood. I have read that this was made during his break from Star Trek and, boy, does Bill have fun in this one! He does well at establishing the two different sides of Johnny Moon and Notah. Both are capable of killing, however, one does it at will and the other only when it is justified (self defense). This makes for some great tension as Moon takes the blame for actions he didn't commit. Joseph Cotten is good as the Sheriff and has good rapport with Shatner throughout the film. Add Rosanna Yanni as the damsel barmaid Kelly and WC is a hoot to watch. Highlights include action scenes, shoot em ups, and Bill showing that he is a seasoned equestrian. Check out the psychedelic bright colors on the sets.
My personal favorite is anytime someone in the movie says with a horrified look "White Commanche!"
Dangan ranna (1996)
For the rush of Sabu
This director makes films which never cease to amuse, entertain, or make me think long after first viewing. Dangan Runner (Non-Stop) is where it all started.
The story is simple. Sabu's characters are interesting in the fact that they are far from perfect and deal with everyday problems which lead to events of grand proportion. Tomorowo Taguchi (Yasuda) is great as our main character (I wouldn't go so far as to call him a hero which is great in this case) who totally puts a spin on the term packing heat (I never caught this till watching this a 2nd time; an ode to Sabu's subtle humor). Rather than relying on long dialogue, the story is a blast to watch as they reveal the characters' situations and how they get caught up in this dilemma. Diamond Yukai is good as the rocking, hazed out Aizawa. The music plays a great role in Dangan Runner as it establishes moods at a breakneck pace. Shin'ichi Tsutsumi makes his Sabu debut and it's apparent why the director chose to work with him in later films. Tsutsumi has this screen presence where he successfully conveys what his character is going through without saying much dialogue. Plus, the image of him sprinting with a blade in hand carries quite an impact. Right from the get go, you can tell Takeda means business even if he's going through yakuza troubles of his own. Ren Osugi is great in his brief, yet vital role as he gives Takeda some helpful insight. Look for Sabu himself (it's very tough not to miss him!). Oh, the actress who plays Midori is a dead ringer for Maggie Cheung, isn't she??
The cinematography in Dangan Runner is fantastic. There are really great shots of modern city life ranging from busy streets, narrow alleyways, construction zones, and pachinko parlors. One awesome shot is on the bridge just right after sunset resulting literally in a purple hazed sky. I noticed one theme in the film is looking into one's self and reaching that point of self realization, coming to realize where you are now, how you got there, and deciding what to do next. The characters here are furiously looking for the answer for each of them and it's through the journey that they find it. Being an avid runner, I can relate with the benefits of running, how it helps with forgetting everyday problems, reflecting on what's on your mind, and at the end, I come out with a great clear headed feeling. Like I mentioned, Sabu makes very thought provoking films.
This work of Leslie Stevens was brought to my attention by the fact that this was one of William Shatner's lesser known works. Strangely enough, the Sci-Fi channel was responsible for re-releasing this film. However, viewing this movie gives an almost surreal hypnotic effect. It reminded me of Rod Serling's classic Twilight Zone except much darker.
The story is easy to follow yet Incubus has an other world-like quality. Perhaps due to Stevens' experience with the Outer Limits? In truth, the The cinematography shines throughout the film and I was surprised to find that this was shot in California. A simple effect as a rustling breeze through a field is stunning to watch. It's a real kick to watch Shatner speak Esperanto since I've never had to read subtitles for his films before. Bill does a great job as Marc and never really goes over the top. You really feel for the guy as the story progresses and his fate awaits. The chemistry is fine between Marc and Kia and an interesting secondary theme is the relationship between Marc and Arndis. Incubus is a great example of the benefit of shooting in black and white as opposed to color. I had expected to see a performance similar to Shatner in Impulse and was pleasantly surprised to discover one of his finer performances.
San ging caat goo si (2004)
Jackie can still make them like this?
New Police Story definitely took me by surprise. Gone are the days of HK Jackie classics like Armour of God, Drunken Master, or the Police Story trilogy. I am reminded of the pain and bewilderment of his later films such as The Medallion, The Myth, and (shudder!) the Forbidden Kingdom.
NPS is a good mix of story, suspense, and plenty of action; action mixed with gunplay and martial arts. Actually, the action scenes were reminiscent of those from the earlier Police Stories with high octane charge laced with a modern twist. I must admit whether Jackie had done his own stunts here as there are some really creative scenes (the end credits proved that he did). A dark tone lies throughout the film which fits well with what Inspector Chan has to deal with. Plus, credit to Anthony Pun's cinematography which captures some really great shots of modern Hong Kong (both day and night).
I would've rated NPS excellent except for the overdramatics in the film. Kudos to Jackie for stretching out here, but the tears were flowing like the Yangtze! Although this did not detract much from the movie, I can see how certain scenes may have required emotional outbursts. More bullets, flying kicks, and punches for me and thankfully, NPS provides a plethora of them.