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icaredor

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12 reviews in total 
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Big Girls and Long Shorts, 22 December 2010

Not being overly familiar with mobster slang, I assumed Racket Girls would be a charming little romp about the Sapphic exploits of tennis stars. You can imagine my delight on discovering that wrestling substituted for tennis and illegal gambling substituted for tennis.

Noted Edwoodian player, Tim Farrell, renders the part of Umberto Scalli, a bookie who uses ladies wrestling as a cover. Unfortunately for Mr. Scalli, he is in big, for 35 big ones, to big time mob boss, Mr. Big, although that name may be an alias. Scalli's erring antics also earn attention from the other Mr. Big, Big Brother. Between fending off the Justice Department and the Mr. Big boys, Scalli nobbles a race horse, romances wrestling hopeful (the porcine Peaches Page), and tries to nobble a wrestling bout - he fails because those athletes evince too much integrity to rig fights. Female wrestling, it seems, was one of the few sports that remained "clean" and, fortunately, still does. And fortunately, Scalli works quickly leaving plenty of time for interminable footage of women grappling.

Racket Girls has a lot about it that is funny, yet not nearly enough to fill an entire movie. Amazingly, bouts between the likes of the Leopard Lady and the Panther Lady are far less thrilling than one would anticipate, and Mike and 'bots struggle to fill the hole with quips, though judging from the cheering on the soundtrack, the crowd at ring-side was going completely insane. Well, it was the fifties and they had no Lady Gaga. The whole affair leaves the impression that women's wrestling in the fifties achieved a glamor only rivaled by men's wrestling in the fifties.

While the main feature drags a bit, the episode as a whole surges on the fairly long short, "Are You Ready for Marriage?" It supplies a feast of cruddy material and the guys rip through it brilliantly. Possibly the funniest short of the entire series.

Skits take off from the film and short, and concern Crow marrying Servo and their wedding ending in a wrestling match. Nice.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
'scuse me while I kick the sky, 18 December 2010

If you're like me, and I know I am, then you've often wondered how much footage you could watch of planes refueling before you finally cracked. Luckily, this installment of MST will answer that question for you. If refueling doesn't do the job, Starfighters provides plenty of gripping talking-on-the-telephone-and-radio action to hold you in a vice-like stupor, tightened by the easy-listening jazz sound track.

This is an astonishingly dull movie from a director whose love of close-up shots runs to fetish. These giant head-shots are so startling on the small screen that I can only imagine the trauma they caused people who witnessed them in a movie theater, if, that is, anyone ever did. Director Will Zens can only be said to succeed with this film if he intended it as a metaphor for the sky: vast and largely empty.

With some lifeless movies (e.g., Lost Continent, Skydivers – what is it with the sky!), the SoL crew obviously struggles to beat off lassitude and keep the jokes flowing. Here, Mike and the bots are clearly having fun and easily keep the cracks rolling over this pancake.

The highlight of the episode, though, is the United Servo Men's Academy Chorus conducted by Brigadier Sir Thomas 'Bullhead' Servo. This choral paean to flying, courtesy of many Kevin Murphy overdubs, is both funny and impressive. My favorite MST musical number.

Kiss the Sky, 18 December 2010
2/10

If you're like me, and I know I am, then you've often wondered how much footage you could watch of planes refueling before you finally cracked. Luckily, this installment of MST will answer that question for you. If refueling doesn't do the job, Starfighters provides plenty of gripping talking-on-the-telephone-and-radio action to hold you in a vice-like stupor, tightened by the easy-listening jazz sound track.

This is an astonishingly dull movie from a director whose love of close-up shots runs to fetish. These giant head-shots are so startling on the small screen that I can only imagine the trauma they caused people who witnessed them in a movie theater, if, that is, anyone ever did. Director Will Zens can only be said to succeed with this film if he intended it as a metaphor for the sky: vast and largely empty.

Jail Bait (1954)
HollyWoodwork, 11 December 2010
6/10

If you've ever wanted to discover why Ed Wood is notorious, this isn't the best film to begin with. Certainly, it is a good example of bad film making, not, though, one of Wood's masterpieces – no rubber monsters, no hubcap spaceships. This is a piece of Wood Realism, much like Sinister Urge.

The plot is coherent though the script poor. Dr. Gregor lives in Southern California and is a 'world famous' plastic surgeon. Such a pursuit must have been far less lucrative in the fifties because he lives in a very modest suburban rancher with his two children, Marylin and Don, who both look well into their thirties. Although the good doctor would buy them anything they wanted – by taking out a second mortgage, perhaps – Don opts for a life of crime with thoroughly bad sort Vic Brady. Needless to say, difficulties arise and the doctor must employ his plastic surgery skills. How different the story might have been if Ed had written Gregor as a proctologist.

All of this is badly acted out by a group of Wood regulars, such as Dolores Fuller and Don Nagel, enhanced by a few interesting additions. Old movie hand, Herbert Rawlinson, plays Gregor, his last role before dying of lung cancer, and he clearly gasps for air to get out his lines. Steve 'Hercules' Reeves has his first speaking role, yet not to waste him Ed has him take off his shirt – one for the ladies and the discerning gentlemen. Brady is played by dependable D-grade movie sleaze, and frequent Woodworker, Tim Farrell.

If you are familiar with Ed's oeuvre or simply like bad films, Jail Bait is great. For a grasp of Ed's magnificence try Plan Nine or Night of the Ghouls first.

Oh, and if you've ever wanted to discover how on earth Minstrel Shows fell out of popularity, watch the comic stylings of Cotton Watts and Chick, included in this film for no particular reason, and that should sate your curiosity. The most horrible thing I've seen in an Ed Wood film, which is really saying something.

Voodoo Man (1944)
9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Voodoo, Science, and a Piece of String, 3 December 2010

Sadly the days when a lone, mad scientist, toiling in the basement of his sinister mansion, could perform miracles over life and death with just a few test tubes and pulsing lights, without thought of glory or patent rights, have been curtailed by the corporate monopoly of science; the simple human desire to revivify the dead, trumped by the thirst for profit. Happily, voodoo has, thus far, eluded the grasping grip of greed (ouch!) and retained its humble individuality.

Voodoo Man returns us to that simpler time when science and magic worked hand in hand. It is another absurd poverty-row horror, filmed in seven days, in case you can't tell, by Bill "One-Shot" Beaudine for Sam Katzman's Monogram Pictures. Lugosi plays Marlowe, another mad scientist with another ailing wife. Indeed this wife is rather more than ailing: for 28 years she has been dead, but not in the sense we understand the word, of course. He tries to reanimate her by transferring to her the life force of abducted female motorists. Marlowe has some impressive technology – an impressive surveillance system, a car disabling ray, and some weird wife maintenance machinery. Still, he isn't one of those finicky skeptics who practice science nowadays. Like the alchemist, he recognizes the potential to improve scientific outcomes by utilizing magic.

This film is sensationally silly especially given the quality of the cast. This may not be Lugosi's most absurd role; unfortunately, the same can't be said for Carradine and Zucco. Carradine plays Toby, Marlowe's jogging, dimwitted henchman, who kidnaps women and doubles as Marlowe's percussion section. His bizarre performance is only over-cast by Zucco who plays Nicholas, gas station proprietor and voodoo priest. Zucco usually brings an air of dignity to the foolish roles he plays but this one is beyond him. While Toby bashes a bongo, Nicholas, in a cheap college gown and "Phyllis Diller wig," chants gibberish at a piece of string in the name of Ramboonya who is, apparently, all powerful. And, to be fair, Nicholas is getting results until meddling relatives and policemen interfere with the ceremonies.

This film has remained too obscure and deserves a far greater audience. Amazing stuff.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
So Bad it's Bad, 2 December 2010
1/10

No movie seems too awful for someone to claim SoBIG status for it. I suppose we must each draw our own lines in our own way. I think I must draw one here. Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla has all the ingredients for a fun D-grade movie – bad script, bad sets, bad acting, a gorilla, etc. However, it is so devoid of any spark of creativity that it offended even my meager aesthetic sense. In the pantheon of soft drinks, if such an erection were ever raised, this film would be decaffeinated, vanilla, diet Crown Cola: a cheap, shameless, tasteless rip-off. It plagiarizes the "Abbott and Costello Meet..." movies and those by that other comedy duo (Lewis and Clark, was it?), and just about anything else it can exploit.

I only watched Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla because it had that Dracula guy in it. I forget his name. But the waning Count is only dribbled out for his notoriety and is completely wasted here (although having the seventy-year old Bela pawing Nona, the island maiden, does produce the only moment in the movie that is creepy...but not in the spooky way).

Even given all of this, I may have let BLmaBG slide with three stars -- well, it does have Bela Lugosi AND a gorilla, two actually, and a chimp -- until the ending pushed it under the bottom: They couldn't be bothered to come up with one!

I hope none of this is off putting. I'm sure many people will find this movie SoBig, maybe flat out 'ig,' and de gustibus non est disputandum.

9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Less Magic, MoreTragic, 3 November 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

God bless TCM for giving some air to this obscure flick from schlocksploitation specialist Al Adamson. What a treasure. TCM showed this during its Halloween week horror marathon in tandem with another circus-centered terror, Joan Crawford's notorious "Berserk." Carnival Magic isn't a horror film in the usual sense, although, as the TCM scheduler must have recognized, it does supply plenty of unintentional horror. Nearly everything about the film is horrible including script, acting, directing, editing, and costumes.

Don Stewart plays Markov the Magnificent (no, really!), a carnival magician whose powers to read minds, levitate, bend steel bars and communicate with animals are, apparently, real. He was raised by Buddhist monks in Nepal, where his parents were missionaries, which must explain it. Markov's extraordinary talents are insufficient to save him from being fired at the insistence of the carnival's jealous, erstwhile star attraction, an alcoholic tiger-tamer (he's alcoholic, not the tigers).

Fortunately, on top of all of his amazing, yet insufficiently impressive talents, Markov shares his trailer with a talking chimp (no, really!) called Alexander the Great who has a Norleans accent, all bluesy and boozy. Markov incorporates Alexander into the act and turns the carnival from near disaster into what appears to be a moderate financial success.

Although amused, no one seems surprised at Markov's magic or at the talking monkey so the carnival doesn't immediately turn, as one might expect, into a media circus (sorry!). The chimp does attract attention from a lone anthropologist who thinks that in the great evolutionary chain Alexander may be the missing link based, presumably, on the chimp's ability to talk and drive a car. He has the monkey kidnapped by the less than gruntled tamer of wild, yet sober, tigers, and is sufficiently unimpressed by Alexander's cooperation that he decides to chop up the monkey to see what makes him work. Alexander is saved when the clinic is invaded by a swarm of carnies, some of whom, themselves, would probably be of interest as possible missing links.

The intensity of the drama, though not the intensity of the horror, is broken by a couple of romantic subplots, one between Markov and his assistant (Regina Carrol), who is buxomly busting out of her coruscating leotard, and the other between the carnival owner's tomboy daughter (Jennifer Houlton) and a drippy PR man in a drip-dry shirt and disco trousers.

This film has been out of circulation for far too long and needs to be released on DVD. Fans of bad movies should not be deprived of this; nay, they have a right to experience its phenomenal awfulness. Yes, really!

Hair and Hockey Sticks, 24 February 2010
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Third, and third best, film in the St. Trinian's series. The decline in quality is gentle and, although it looks a bit tired, this one still offers a lot of entertainment largely due to some wonderful comedic performances.

The movie begins with the Fourth Form (Junior) girls burning down St. Trinian's and the entire school finding itself on trial for arson. The joy of the Barchester police and at Ministry of Education turns to gloom when Professor Canford (Cecil Parker) offers to provide a new school and promises to reform the girls. Canford turns out to be the dupe in a plot to abduct the Sixth Form (Senior) girls and marry them off to the sons of an Arab sheik. Off to Arabia in pursuit go the League of Incompetents: Flash Harry, Sergeant Ruby Gates, Professor Canford; bureaucrats from the Ministry of Education; and a Bath Unit (of highly trained ablutionists, no less) of the British Army. Luckily for all of them, the Fourth Form girls are on the trail too.

This film has two major shortcomings. The girls are sadly misused. There are none of the distinct girl characters that helped drive the plot along in Belles. Here, the girls are simply a horde of hair and hockey sticks. Consequently, the story rests on the adult characters with mixed results. Flash Harry gets entirely too much screen time and becomes irritating, and the romancing of Ruby Gates gets rehashed from Blue Murder. On the other hand, the alcoholic ablutionists are amusing and the Ministry bureaucrats are splendid. Indeed, Thorley Walters gives the standout performance as Butters the education official driven to neurosis by years of dealing with St. T's. When he suddenly breaks into a pastoral dance it is as hilarious as it is unexpected, as incongruous as it is apt.

The second shortcoming is that the film builds to a big, slapstick finale and then inexplicably skips out on it. When the hairy hockey horde comes careening across the desert in the requisitioned military vehicles – complete with band playing the St. Trinian's fight song – one expects, nay, one feels entitled, to see them rampage through the sheik's palace, returning much of it to deserty dust and banishing the sheik and his sons to maunder the merciless dunes. Sadly, no. The first vehicle crashes through the palace gate and we fade to the epilogue left only to imagine the mayhem that may have ensued. Sigh! Despite its faults, Pure Hell contains plenty of good stuff and remains a must see for St. T fans. The acting is wonderful with major talent in roles both major (e.g., Joyce Grenfell and Cecil Parker) and minor (e.g., Dennis Price and John Le Mesurier). And needless to say (but I will, anyway), it far outshines Train Robbery and the egregious Wild Cats.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Noisome Nonsense, 10 February 2010
2/10

I read the reviews of Three Men in a Boat before watching the film and couldn't believe that it is as bad as most reviewers claim. I mean to say, just look at the cast. Tomlinson, Edwards and Harvey are not a collection of comedic geniuses, perhaps, but surely they amass enough talent to produce an amusing adaptation of this admired novel. However, the negative reviewers are correct: this film is simply terrible. Although it only runs to 84 minutes it took me five sittings to get through it. I could barely tolerate watching twenty minutes at a time. I persevered because…well, look at the cast, surely they would deliver something funny eventually; perhaps the finale would be hilarious.

I grew up in Britain and still love old British comedies: Ealing, of course, Will Hay, Alastaire Sim, Peter Sellers, and so many others. I even like the lower-level comedy of the Carry On series, Benny Hill, or Frankie Howerd. This film, though, has less laughs than Polanski's Macbeth.

Some reviews have suggested that some people find the film unamusing because it is 'dated.' It was made in the fifties and set in the 1880s. However, these facts alone shouldn't be detrimental to a film's appeal. A good number of Britain's best and most appreciated comedies were made in the fifties, such as The Lavender Hill Mob, Hobson's Choice, and I'm All Right Jack. In fact, the decade is a Golden Age for British film comedy. The story's setting in an earlier period can hardly be detrimental either. Kind Hearts and Coronets stands easily as one of the best British comedies, yet it was set in the same historical period as Three Men in a Boat, was released six years earlier and was filmed in black and white. Similarly, Ken Annakin, this film's director, had his biggest successes with Monte Carlo or Bust! (1969) and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965), both of which are set in times only slightly later than Three Men in a Boat and are equally far removed from contemporary audiences, but are still relatively amusing.

Some films age badly because of the focus of the material. George Formby and the Old Mother Riley comedies relied for their context on a particular interwar period and a British working class culture that had largely disappeared by the 1960s and has little meaning for people in contemporary Britain, let alone the rest of the world. Other examples are the sex comedies made in Britain in the 1970s or the blacksploitation movies made in the US in the same decade. These films are clearly dated but retain entertainment value because of their anachronistic fashions and dialogue.

Astonishingly, Three Men in a Boat was nominated for a BAFTA for, of all things, best screen play. This is baffling because the writers make little effort to drive the story with witty dialogue. Dialogue is, in fact, rather scant. The attempts at comedy come mostly from slapstick situations where our heroes wave tent poles and oars around for insufferable lengths of time, fall in the water repeatedly, and prattles on loudly and unintelligibly. The assumption is, apparently, that if these situations continue for long enough something funny simply has to happen. It doesn't. Slapstick can be badly done but it doesn't become dated. The silent movies of Chaplain and Keaton are still wonderful; the Three Stooges are still ridiculous and funny; much in Norman Wisdom's movies is dated, but when he falls through a window he is still hilarious. Not so Tomlinson, Edwards and Harvey.

On this one, I'm afraid, I concur with the "smug" negative reviewers. This is the least funny Brit Com I've ever seen, and I've seen "Carry on England."

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Bad Poems about Fragile Flowers, 28 October 2009
6/10

Interesting guest appearances and a surprising plot twist lift this seemingly pedestrian episode. Luke Kirby plays a talentless poet living on the 'patronage' of the wealthy family of his fragile wife (Piper Perabo). The couple report the kidnapping of their baby from a hotel room, and Goren and Eames investigate the disappearance. Lynn Redgrave, who plays the family matriarch, is worth watching, as usual, and it is fun to see Perabo and Kirby playing a married couple. Last time they appeared together they shared a very different relationship: She was a psychotic lesbian who impaled him on a sword for stealing her girlfriend. I'm glad they've managed to move past that.


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