Reviews written by registered user
leaping 1

5 reviews in total 
Index | Alphabetical | Chronological | Useful

The Power (1968)
13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Genuinely creepy whodunnit with supervillain/SF premise, 26 July 2001

Although the setting is scientific, and I've seen this described as science-fiction, "The Power" is arguably a very early rationalisation/update of the superhero genre. In this case the person with the superpowers is a supervillain, the power is telekinesis, and no lycra longjohns are entered into, as the makers try to keep it as downhome and believably creepy as possible, except when 'the power' is being exhibited.

Basically the official scientific committee for Somethingorother is kind of audited by government agent Michael Rennie to see what they're up to. One of them, played as a crackpot movie scientist by old pro Arthur O'Connell, is convinced that research suggests that someone has Ee-vill telekinetic powers. Despite Artie being a crackpot, what do you know, it turns out that he's right on the money, and furthermore, they determine it's someone right there in the room. Soon folks who were in that room start dying in numbers, and in imaginative and unpleasant ways. (There's a scene in a centrifuge that appears to have been knocked off for one of the Roger Moore James Bond movies later on - "Moonraker" from painful memory.)

The key to it all seems to be a shadowy figure who was once known as Adam Hart. George Hamilton sets out to find who Adam Hart was, and who or what he became. We end up with a major case of the creeps, because it's one of those paranoid whodunnit deals where the audience isn't allowed to trust anyone (kind of reminiscent of the Kurt Russell version of "The Thing" in that way) not even Hamilton, or his girlfriend Suzanne Pleshette.

Director Byron Haskin and the actors don't give us any cosy characters to like. Everyone's cold, aloof, frenzied, crazy, or pathologically self-interested. This aspect is a bit reminiscent of Freddie Francis's better English horror films of the 60s, although "The Power" has a more measured, restrained creepiness than his films.

In that sense, George Hamilton's limitations as a kissy-face type leading guy are used to the film's advantage. I've always found George Pal's stuff a little creepy even when it was ostensibly fun happy stuff for kids, and his Puppetooning here fits right in.

Only disappointment is a fairly conventional resolution by comparison to what's come before. Other than that, "The Power" is memorable, and a bit of a one-off.

37 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
Funny stuff's funny - scary stuff's scary, 8 April 2001

One of my long-term favourites. Horror-comedy with a mystery element. Bob Hope is in prime, breezy form here, and while the lines are good, his throwaway style of delivery and nervous energy puts the film over. The atmosphere of acceptance of the supernatural (in the zombie element of the movie)is reminiscent of "I Walked With a Zombie", which might sound like ridiculously high praise for a Bob Hope comedy, but it's probably best if you see the film and check it out.

There's an element of racial stereotyping which some might find bothersome now. That said, Willie Best in the potentially offending role, gives a hilarious performance as "the family detainer".

The comedy and horror elements complement rather than interfere with each other, the director and stars do a trememdous job, and this is one of the more enjoyable pure entertainment pictures you're likely to come across.

16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Unique, substantially demented horror-comedy, way ahead of its time, 8 April 2001

There's a blase, desensitised, black-comedy sensibility to the treatment of horror, violence and sex in this movie which not only anticipates "Night of the Living Dead" a few years later, but also Tarantino's approach decades later, let alone the lesser inheritors of that approach.

There are plenty of moments in this extremely strange little picture which capture the same nightmare-logic of the family banquet scene in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", or pretty much the whole of "Eraserhead". While "Spider Baby" is funny in a lot of places, and intended to be, the choice of a hereditary neurological disorder as the source of the horror elements, rather than one of the standard horror movie devices (vampire, werewolf, mad scientist, whatever) gives the movie a case of the creeps that starts early and never goes away.

The most bizarre thing in the movie, isn't the weird members of the central family (although they're plenty weird enough to be going on with), it's how director Jack Hill does some things efficiently, some with amazingly ambitious creativity, and others with an equally mind-boggling klutziness. Blame the budget for the latter, I'd guess.

Amidst some amazing performances, (the two sisters and the brother), some blaringly cheesy ones (most of the "straight" roles), Lon Chaney Jr and Carol Ohmart stand out. Chaney, who is evidently not in tiptop physical condition for (ahem) some reason, nonetheless plays completely straight, in a strange, tender-hearted role (particularly in the black comedy context here) which is probably his best work other than "Of Mice and Men". Ohmart has a blowsier version of the strange, nasty, sexy role she played as Vincent Price's wife in "The House on Haunted Hill", and she is one of the most unusual screen presences you'll ever see. One good character part in a moderately-budgeted studio picture with a decent director would have been enough to make her more than a footnote name known exclusively to horror movie nuts.

Sustained weird atmosphere, and a movie unlike any other. Rather than a horror movie, or black comedy per se, it's an exceptionally twisted adult fairy tale. Probably not as good-hearted as "Curse of the Cat People" or "Edward Scissorhands" in the same rough ball-park, but at least as memorable as either.

Se7en (1995)
Pounds of seriousness, ounces of content, 8 April 2001

Fairly idiotic serial killer cash-in with one-trick-pony gimmick - the killer does "theme killings" along the lines of the Seven Deadly Sins. (You know, Gluttony, Envy, Brad Pitt's performance in this, making movies like this, and the other three.)

One sin that some members of the audience might be guilty of after this is Sloth, since the thing goes on forever. The film treats its own silliness with the greatest respect for its own seriousness, and there is an amount of eye-catching visual stylisation along these lines of which the only connection to the emotional body of the film is via a long, long extension. Piddling around with lenses, you could call it.

Plotted along the lines of an old Batman TV episode (the serial crimes of the Joker, Penguin or Egghead were no more or less plausible, or inventive, or humorous for that matter), the writing is kind of reminiscent of Life Savers candy, except those are nothing without holes, and this is nothing with holes.

Brad Pitt's performance, striving for some sort of bizarre yuppie cool in a heroic struggle with the writers' apparent intention for the character, is possibly the most unlikely homicide detective in screen history. To be fair, Pitt's been a lot better in other movies. To be accurate, so has just about everybody else.

Stupid, modish, cynical picture. I believe the same director did "Fight Club". That's a much better movie, although the screaming plot holes and comic book dementia of the ending of that film bear a family resemblance to this one.

10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Harmless, painless formula movie, with a handful of solid gags, 5 April 2001

It's a peculiar badge of cinematic honour to be the least-worst Hulk Hogan movie of all time. Hulk plays some sort of super-powerful alien who, in coming to Earth on whatever Universe-saving mission he's on, becomes involved with a suburban US family.

Such fun as the movie has is in the alien's attempts to deal with the frustrations, annoyances and rules of suburban life. The pleasant surprise for those who come to "Suburban Commando" without unsustainable expectations of seeing anything remotely resembling a classic is that this material - Superhero Hulkster dealing with normal suburban irritations - is pretty well-handled, with a few big, satisfying laughs, and not without an element of satire.

Whether it's the director or whoever, someone babied Hogan through this one, since the film plays to his strengths (ie he coasts on the natural screen charisma that made him a star in pro wrestling), and avoids his weaknesses (ie acting) that are copiously evident in other Hogan movies.

Otherwise, the remedial comic book plot tends to take over, which is endurable but no particular fun, and Christopher Lloyd has one of his bad days at the office as the suburban family's father. Wrestling fans shouldn't struggle to spot Mark Calloway (aka the WWF's Undertaker) and might even pick up Hogan's high school buddy Ed Leslie (Brutus Beefcake).

Most of the good stuff's in the first half hour or so, from memory. If you're partial to some simple but effective comedy on the theme of familiar irritants in suburban life, you might get a rise out of at least that much of the movie. For what it is, "Suburban Commando" is ok.