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95 reviews in total 
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Lame and limp, 11 June 2016

A successful pianist, surrounded by beautiful female admirers, is dogged by a string of murders that seem to follow him around. The movie follows him as his life begins to unravel. I admire Shameless for bringing these movies out for us to experience, but this is not a good film. It's badly made, and it looks AND sounds horrible. The sound quality is really bad, the volume leaps between low muffled spoken dialogue one minute, to heavy, blaring orchestral music the next. I was playing with the TV remote to whole time to compensate for this. And when stars Michael York and Donald Pleasance speak their lines, the audio quality is appalling - totally different to the person they are having a conversation with. Donald Pleasance in particular speaks in every scene (no matter where he is) with the tonal quality of being in an echoey, tiled chamber, while everyone else's vocals sound really close and flat. There's no way to get immersed in the performances with sloppy dubbing like this.

The editing and flow of the various scenes is also really bad. Case in point, the scene when one victim is knifed at a train station, the scene carries through her death scene to the police arriving, body being covered up and Michael York watching in anguish, with the same intense score, as though these thing are all happening at the same time. That's not artistic, thats bad movie crafting. Michael York (as the main character) seems to dash all over the place with no sense of any real time passing. You'd think that with the experience that director Deodato has under his belt, there would be a bit more polish than this.

So what are we left with? Some splashy but cheap gore (who has a bedroom lampshade with a 2ft spike on it?), some attractive ladies who's appeal is sadly ruined by terrible late 1980's fashion disasters. The acting is dire. The killer seems to have no motive for the way he is behaving. Donald Pleasance looks troubled and unwell the entire time. Michael York is shrill and hammy.

Sorry, but I'd give this one a miss. You are very likely to lose interest before the whole sorry thing limps to a close.

Over artsy, 2 May 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I watched this film out of curiosity and came away very unsatisfied. This probably worked as a play, but even as that it must have been hard work to sit through. Serious and pompous, with a lot of long, long scenes of talking, it's definitely a piece about words. I'll take it that this is the style of the Jean Genet source material.

The story tells of a brothel that is still in operation while the country outside is falling into chaos due to a revolution. People from the brothel are persuaded to use their skills in role play to pose as various heads of power and calm the panicking masses.

The film contains many lengthy vignettes where characters just read heavy and pretentious dialogue to each other in small rooms/stages, or make speeches in cheap and unconvincing "interaction" with stock footage of crowds outside. It's barely using the medium of film to all to any advantage when things are as threadbare as this. Even the music is nasty and discordant.

There's nothing here that takes advantage of the switch from stage to screen. It's little more than an earnest group "reading" of the script. All of the cast look like they are acting, nobody realistically inhabits any single one of the characters. I guess this movie is considered "art" because of the pedigree of the literary source material, but as screen entertainment, this is dismal.

Boring, 13 February 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Haunted House of Horror is a boring and dated horror movie from England about a group of "swinging party goers" who spend a night in an empty house for fun, only to find that a murder is committed. There are spoilers in this review, but as the film is no classic, I feel like you might as well know what you are going to be in for if you are remotely interested in seeing it.

You could imagine this film building to some kind of sustained suspense as the group arrive and begin exploring the house with candles, but once the murder is committed, the film spirals into all sorts of baffling red herrings and pointless dead ends. The group immediately decide to hush up the murder rather than call the police. Next, they all leave the house without further incident and go back to their lives. So much for the "horror"! The middle chunk of the film then shows us some very boring police investigations over the missing person, and the friends meet up to discuss what they should do - you're in for a laugh when you hear what they agree on - to go back to the house again and search it from top to bottom. Sounds reasonable enough, except that rather do it in daylight, they deem it necessary to do it in the middle of the night, and also to follow the exact same actions as they did on the night of the murder. WHY?? God knows. But off they troop again, and there is another portion of screen time allotted to creeping about with candles AGAIN, and a really dismal attempt at suspense in a ridiculous "who-is-holding-the-knife?" scene with two characters, in a scene which generates absolutely no tension at all. The film even does a double-take of a female character getting her shoe caught in the same staircase twice, adding no real dramatic effect (either time). The story isn't very strong at all. If all the action had taken place on a single night there could have been some tension but having everybody leave and then come back again a month (!) later to "solve the mystery" is ludicrous.

The film also doesn't look great. There are many day-for-night shots which look very obvious. The exterior shots of the house look like they are of a different house each time. Character seem to swap having affairs with one character to another for no reason. One of the women has a rich "sugar daddy" boyfriend who spies on her throughout the whole thing, again this has nothing to do with the rest of the story. The special effects are terrible, with blood that looks like tomato soup being smeared on the outside of people's skin or clothing to simulate shocking gore. The main entertainment comes from seeing the awful fashions of the period being liberally unleashed across the proceedings, but that alone does not make this movie worth watching! chills, or thrills, and a ridiculous plot.

So Bad, 4 February 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Up From The Depths" belongs at the bottom of any discerning movie-buff's list of "Jaws" relatives, it is truly dire. The plot summary needs no more than one line - a giant monster fish terrorises staff and holidaymakers at a Hawaiian beach resort.

The movie is actually not too badly filmed and a lot of the action takes place on boats and in open water. I say "action", although in fact there isn't really very much. The giant fish attacks are portrayed on screen by means of very fast cutting, and lots of extreme close ups of thrashing, bubbles and red tinted water, so in other words, NOTHING. The fish, when it does make it's fleeting appearances is pretty plastic and immobile looking, although there are almost no clear shots of it anywhere in the entire movie.

What can't be ignored, though, is the unbelievable audio soundtrack. According to another reviewer's comments about the movie on IMDb, this was all added in post- production because the original live recorded soundtrack was lost. This makes for some pretty jaw-dropping viewing, and if you come in expecting to watch the film for laughs. you might even find it hilarious. Towards the end, when a full scale hunt gets underway for the fish, the movie begins to resemble the comedy movie "Airplane!" as all the cast speak the most ridiculous dialogue in rapid fire comedy turns. It makes it look like the film was originally intended to be a comedy...maybe it was? If it wasn't, then the vocal dubbing well and truly destroys it. Maybe the post-dub recording cast didn't give a damn and just decided to enjoy themselves. It's probably the best thing about the movie.

Sadly, the visual disappointment of the fishy menace itself, and the lack of any real special effects in general, mean that "Up From The Depths" is devoid of any tension or drama. But bad movie fans might find it to be worth a look

Not great, 16 January 2016

Wicked Wicked is an amusing film about a stalker killing pretty blonde women in a hotel. There's nothing unusual about that except for the movie's gimmick of presenting the entire story in split screen, which is a novelty but it does kind of dilute the suspense rather. Split screen can work in horror - Brian De Palma has used it on more than one occasion and made effective use of it, but here it's rather irritating. What doesn't help is you never really get a good view o anything as the two images are small and not very hi definition (well it was 1973!). For just a couple of very short moments of screen time, the double screen reverts to a single view and seeing this left me yearning for the whole movie to be like this, so that watching it would be less hard work! . Apart from the gimmick, most other aspects of Wicked, Wicked are fun but mediocre. The only DVD release is on the Warner Archive label which is very badly cut! Those archive DVDs are sold at a premium price so pushing an incomplete version of the film is quite an insult to the fans who wish to buy it. For novelty value only

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A bit wobbly, 5 January 2016

The Dracula Saga is a rather ragged attempt at a costume horror movie that sadly fails on more levels than it succeeds. The story follows a young couple travelling to a remote castle in central Europe to visit the remaining family relations of the wife, who is pregnant. Along the way villagers warn them that the castle is evil, and dead bodies are found along the way with neck wounds. Nothing very original there! On arrival at the castle, all manner of strange things happen as the truth about the family background is revealed...which should come as no surprise, bearing in mind the title of the movie! There is a fair amount of nudity, with lots of female cast members removing their blouses, and some gruesome action as well, especially at the movie's climax.

Unfortunately the enjoyment of all this is hampered by some very basic shoddiness. Although Deimos Films have found a beautiful clean print, and colours are rich and clear, a lot of shots are out of focus. No amount of remastering can correct badly focused photography, and it really shows. Several shots also have a gauze-like mesh effect overlaid on them, which at first I thought was a technical issue, but in reflection it might have been a failed attempt by the director to add atmosphere. The acting is not very good, the English language dub is truly awful, and in another bizarre lapse of continuity, the heroine clearly wears different wigs in different scenes throughout the story!

I suppose this accounts for why Leon Klimovsky never made it as a big name horror director. Having a stunning authentic castle as a setting and adding lots of bare boobs does not make up for all the other budgetary and artistic shortcomings. Even European beauty Helga Line (in a minor role) is wasted here. I do love Deimos' presentation of these Euro horrors, they do very well with the quality, packaging and DVD features. This is just not one of the better movies.

Mild thrills but a bit of a con, 1 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This little known 1966 movie tells of a murderer taking revenge on those responsible for his capture in various warped ways. His gimmick is that he has a missing hand, and is able to screw various weapons of death into the stump in order to carry out his executions. Trying to catch him are the police plus two amateur detectives who run a wax museum. Incidentally, the inclusion of the wax museum seems to be a mere side line of the plot, as it serves no real dramatic purpose except to provide some visual interest.

The film is nicely shot, although it does look like a polished and extended episode of a TV show - which according to most sources, is what it was originally intended to be. The acting is pretty good, the period details is as good as any TV series from the 1960's could get away with on a limited budget. The story is interesting and entertaining, and the climactic scene is fun.

But the reason for my gripe about it being a con is it's very core gimmick: the Horror Horn and the Fear Flasher. The film takes great pains to point out that these warnings will alert the audience to look away whenever a horrible thing is about to happen on screen - but every time the alarm goes off, not one damn horrible thing happens on screen! The action immediately fades out or cuts away to another scene as soon as the alarms has ended - no blood, no special effects, nothing - which makes for the lamest, weakest excuse for horror I have ever seen. At least William Castle delivered on his gimmicks. This film has absolutely no payoffs for it's promises.

Gripe over, as I said earlier it's entertaining enough, but the alarm gimmick is a serious disappointment. Maybe it was added after the filming was complete, and the movie was never intended to be graphic. You could watch this on a Saturday morning and not raise a single goose-bump. Shame.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Great show that eventually unravelled, 14 August 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've just watched all five seasons of Ally McBeal again and the gloss it had when it was first aired does seem to have worn off. Basically the story of a kooky, single female professional in short skirts, whose life revolves around her ex, her inner world, and her career as a lawyer, does't really progress very far in it's 5 seasons. It also goes downhill quite quickly from the later half of Season 2 onwards, but more on that later. This is a review of the entire series, so there will be SPOILERS.

Season 1 introduces us to Ally and her quirky outlook on life. Basically all of the first season is one long tale of pining for lost love as Ally works alongside childhood sweetheart /soul- mate, Billy, who is now married to another woman. Of course, they all work at the same firm, a company called Cage & Fish. The episodes follow an extremely repetitive template: Ally and her firm take on a case, which always hold up a mirror to the emotions and events going on in Ally's personal life in that episode. As well as defending cases in court, Ally and her colleagues spend each evening after work in a bar, mulling over events of the day, while "bar singer" Vonda Sheperd sings songs that - funnily enough - also underscore the emotions and events of the episode. The episode will normally end with Ally (or occasionally another main character) speaking from the heart during the trial, using their parallel pain and insight to win over the jury, and thus (nearly always) winning the case.

Season 2 kicks off in the exact same style, demonstrating that the show really seems to have no direction to move in. Two new characters are introduced, Nelle and Ling, which normally speaks of desperation in a show, but luckily both Nell and Ling are very entertaining and played to perfection by Portia De Rossi and Lucy Liu. Nelle is by far the more interesting of the two, and I would love to have seen more time spent on her character.

On to Season 3, and this is where I started to lose my faith in the show on my first viewing. The character of Billy now becomes easily the worst aspect of the show, with his metamorphosis into an idiot. I never really warmed to the character of Billy, and sadly by season 3 she now has no depth whatsoever, which turns this whole plot strand into a cartoon. Luckily there are episodes that still have warmth, where the other cast members get a chance to show some depth. Episodes like the one where Elaine finds an abandoned baby, or where Ling makes friends with people in a care home, are good showcases for some nice stories and acting. Ally carries on dating guys and failing, but she is so picky that it makes you lose a lot of sympathy with Ally's so-called loneliness.

So here we are at Season 4 and I was relieved to see that the show seem to gather itself again. Characters feel more realistic, although by now Georgia has been silently written out of the show, while Nelle and new guy Mark pretty much has nothing to do. But the introduction of Robert Downey Junior as a new love interest is pretty good, and it's a shame that this was marred by the later scandal involving the actor, as he brings a lot to the show. Same for Anne Heche as a new love interest for John Cage, another quirky character (of course), but thanks to Heche's acting ability I think it comes across nicely. Season 4 concentrates on Ally's insecurity as part of a couple instead of her insecurity at being single, which is at least a change from three whole seasons where she was incapable of holding onto a man at all. But all in all, Season 4 is an improvement on the shallow and erratic Season 3.

And now finally Season 5, where the whole thing really unravels and slides down the hillside to the bottom. It's easy to see why Season 5 is the last one. Characters are dropping like flies, some are just not carried forward from Season 4 (Renee, Mark), others gradually appear less and less and then disappear (John Cage), and others are turned into little more than extras without story lines of their own (Nelle, Elaine). The worst aspect of the season is to introduce new characters at an alarming rate - including a new lawyer (Jenny) who is identical to Ally, which seems to serve no dramatic purpose. Ling returns briefly in a new ludicrous side story, and of course (for people that remember it), Ally acquires a 10 year old daughter. But other than that the plots go all over the place. Ally pretty much stops taking on any legal cases altogether and all we see is her being a mother. The abrupt tying up of events in the final episode is ridiculously condensed.

So in conclusion, it's a case of diminishing returns for the series as a whole. The positives that hold the entire thing together and made me want to return to watching are is the main cast, who are all pretty good. There are some touching moments in several episodes. Seasons 1, 2 and 4 are the best. The saddest thing is to wonder if the series might have recovered if Robert Downey Jnr hadn't had to leave, as he was really making the series pick up again, but by Season 5, it seemed like other cast members too were either opting out or being fired. With issues like this to contend with, it's no wonder the series was incapable having a longer run.

Good fun!, 6 July 2015

"Experiment in Terror" is a smart and entertaining crime/noir thriller from the 1960's. The opening 10 minutes are superb, and beautifully filmed in crisp black & white, as Lee Remick is menaced by the villain in her own home. The rest of the movie (2 hours!) charts her predicament as she wavers between contacting the police and going along with the criminal's plan. Glenn Ford plays a very cool FBI officer who assists her, and There's an appearance from a young Stephanie Powers as the heroine's sister.

Action is tight all the way through, and the film hold your interest. The photography is beautiful, noir style. Fluid camera movement, unusual angles and inspired framing crop up regularly. The scene in the mannequin workshop is very reminiscent of scenes in "giallo" thrillers from the 1970's, except this film was made in 1962! Could it have been an influence?

Lee Remick is perfect in the lead role of Kelly Sherwood. She looks gorgeous and acts realistically throughout. Kelly is no damsel in distress, she's brave and clever, a great heroine. Glenn Ford plays FBI agent Ripley as a total professional who never loses his cool. He plays well as the strength that gives Kelly the courage to withstand the situation she is in. If anything lets the movie down, it is the amazing amount of man power given to support the heroine by the FBI on the strength of one anonymous phone call! She sure is one lucky lady. Bit on the whole, a real pleasure to watch and very enjoyable.

Sadly only average, 10 May 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Silent Scream had to jostle with hundreds of other "slasher" movies at the start of the 1980's to get into the public consciousness, and it just doesn't make enough of an impression to be remembered. The story, action and characterisation are so ordinary that it never really makes a mark on the viewer.

The plot: Rebecca Balding takes a rented room in a large cliff top mansion along with 3 other students. The house is ominous, the family who own the house are creepy, and one by one, the students start dying. Cue police investigation that turns up nothing, noises in the attic, romantic sub-plot, secret passages, etc, etc.

On the whole, the film just isn't exciting. Although it employs heavy duty "horror music" almost constantly (and loudly) to try and make things seem frightening, the murders are tame and the first hour of the film borders on boring. Things pick up after the big reveal and the plight of the "final girl" takes a satisfying turn for the worse, but this extended climax is diluted by some fairly weak acting from a couple of pivotal characters, and again, the dramatic music is laid of with a trowel in attempt to convince you that something really scary is going on when it's not

So don't expect to be scared. Sadly the gory excesses of other films of the early 1980's make Silent Scream seem very tame. And viewed today, it hasn't really got enough going on to recommend it on any other level either. Shame.

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