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A phantom who's an operative
A previous reviewer drew an analogy between MINOTAUR and ROMEO AND JULIET. Well, not really. There's no feud between Alex's people and Thea's, Thea freely takes up with other men, and the personal attraction isn't mutual. The more direct analogy is with THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. In fact, there's a masquerade ball scene that pretty much shoves the PHANTOM parallel in our faces (was it intentional?). Did Alex's invisible psychological control of of beautiful, artistic Thea strike the film-makers as PHANTOMish? The differences, aside from the contemporary setting, are that Alex's deformity is moral rather than physical (this phantom is a homicidal Mossad "spook"), there are two sequential Raoul de Chagnys, and Thea, unlike Christine, is a modern screen character who segues seamlessly from first kiss with a new beau to hot bedroom scene. The movie itself is fairly gripping; I don't rate it highly because the final scene, where the Mossad agent simply dumps all his training, wasn't believable and looks like a perfunctory wrap.
The Clique (2006)
Dying in the dark
A teen slasher movie, one of those where a mostly pre-bonded group goes to a remote location (driving along the much-filmed Angeles Crest), where phones and power can be conveniently disrupted, for sex and taunting and the de rigeur Truth-or-Dare game. Actually pretty well acted but flawed -- fatally for me -- by two elements. One is the idea that a girl who could alibi a murder suspect would not only keep from doing so rather than admit the relationship to her friends but couldn't have done so to the police on a confidential basis (didn't the suspect name her?). Second, the endless blackness on the screen in which major characters are offed and the story reaches its climax. Come on, folks, there are techniques for conveying that the action is happening in the dark and still letting us see. Won't be watching this again (or listening to the gasps and crashes while staring endlessly at a dead black screen).
Final Voyage (1999)
It is an oddly run ocean liner. There seems to be a total engine crew of six people. When the engine room supervisor (unsure of his precise title), finds a worker murdered and kills the perp, he doesn't immediately report to an officer -- he just seems to hang out in the engine room till the writer wants him again. Luggage is in below decks storage rather than in people's staterooms, as if it were an airplane. There is no deckwatch during dinner. The bad guys are apparently less than 20 (the number is never clear) and seem to have always believed that sufficient to control a sizeable ship. We have no clue as to how the bad guys meant to get away. Anyway, some of the action is cool.
A Woman Hunted (2003)
A woman hunted and a plot repeated.
Not a bad thriller, but since it doesn't appear in the credits, on screen or here, it may be of interest that the story, including the twist ending, was lifted directly from a 1985 Mexican/US joint production called TO KILL A STRANGER. The scene has been shifted from Eastern Europe to (apparently) New York and the character of the victim/heroine has been heavily reworked, but the essential shape of the plot remains identical. The details of the child custody conflict have been added to create a barrier between the protagonist and the otherwise likable cops (in the original, the barrier is political). Fairly well acted, and this movie gives Alexandra Paul a chance to work a full menu of emotions. But her boyfriend seems pretty boring.
Molly & Gina (1994)
Determined women; derivative script
MOLLY AND GINA is not a bad way to while away some spare time. I got an inexpensive copy through eBay because it sounded a little different; I don't regret the purchase but would if I'd paid first-hand market value. The lead characters, markedly different women bereaved in the same shooting incident, are well-played and not bad company, and the damsel in distress, as played by Elizabeth Berkley, is someone you want to protect. But far too much of the script seems to have been stenciled from every L.A. noir production ever screened. All the lines we know are coming arrive on schedule, sometimes as part of the action, sometimes within Frances Fisher's voice-overs. The audience is not much trusted; the film-makers really seem to think it necessary to have Molly explain what a missile is. But this movie does have some brisk action and cool gunplay.
Plunge Into Darkness (1977)
Chance Meetings and Fatal Outcomes
Apparently hardly anyone else has seen this, so I'll put a few reactions on record. It's a low budget Australian thriller whose cast lacks any household names. Two escaped convicts, two vacationing couples and an adolescent hitchhiker are all making their ways in a desolate stretch of outback near a town called significantly (or not) Calvary. Cars break down, paths crisscross, deaths ensue, perceptions get skewed. A massive police dragnet underachieves while our hero, a former track star with cardiac problems, presses through difficult country (yes, we get the overfamiliar "lub-dub" sound effect as he runs) unaware of the nature of the situation in which he has left his wife. Not a great movie but it will hold one's attention for its 80 or so minute span.
An interesting mix of western and horror movie delivers just enough to hold one's attention throughout. The top billing of Jack Elam is mendacious; he's there for about three minutes at the beginning and then we're on our way up the haunted mountain with a cast of unknowns. The only two vivid characters are the vociferous loser Billy Ray and the bearded heavy, an apocryphal survivor of the Donner Party. Most puzzling character is a Man of the Cloth who's apparently a preacher of a common frontier Protestant sort but is throughout called a "priest" and "padre". The atmosphere is pretty well controlled and I especially liked the way the cinematographer picked up the mist on the mountain. I suspect any other viewer will share my confusion about what happened to Winchester at the end.
A much-used plot
While MALICIOUS is of the tribe of FATAL ATTRACTION, I think other commentators here have overlooked its obvious progenitor. The scenario of the final section -- the psycho becomes the girlfriend's roommate under an assumed name -- is a direct lift from PLAY "MISTY" FOR ME. In this version, though, there are two huge improbabilities: A). Melissa is a notorious fugitive of wealthy background who did in her own dad -- it is incredible that Laura has never seen her picture; and B.) when our hero learns Melissa is in Laura's apartment, instead of calling the police immediately, he goes hurling across San Francisco on a motorcycle, unarmed, in the rain. I hope I never need him to rescue me.
Greed, death and vengeance when war goes private
It is the American Civil War as envisioned by Italians, set apart from the main theaters of conflict, out in the southwestern desert. James Coburn is Col. Pembroke who has lost impregnable Ft. Holman to the Rebs and who has a private scheme to retrieve it along with his honor. He sets out on a commando expedition with a sergeant and a dirty half-dozen volunteers, scalawags freed from the gallows and kept in line (barely) with a promise of hidden gold. Telly Savalas is the Southern commander dreading Pembroke's reappearance. Some exciting action and tense situations, but credibility is strained when, with the Ft. Holman Gatling gun spraying shot into the parade ground, the Confederate troops show no interest in cover but keep milling in the open like ants from a hill goaded with a stick. Not a great or inspiring movie but a solid performance from Coburn. And for all the death there's not much blood.
Fatal Conflict (2000)
She was expendable -- and extraneous
Now that I've watched this on video I have a vague sense that I may have seen it in a theater. If it was ever in a theater. In any case,it is a sad effort and not even outstandingly bad enough to etch itself into the memory. Plot: girl in the future who has a Past can redeem herself with whatever government there is (embodied in a single official known as the Governor) by stopping an outlaw space craft that is hurtling down to destroy Los Angeles. She's intrepid; she's resourceful; she has martial arts moves. She finds chemistry with the captive commander of the destruction-bent craft. And it appears that all along the descending menace could just be taken out with missiles. Go figure. It is sad to see Jennifer Rubin here as a villain kinkily bonded to her brother. Silliest scene is probably the one with the female prisoner coming on to the suspected lesbian prison guard. See this while trapped at home waiting for a repairman.