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Knight of the Fishmen (2014)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Miller Drake was hired to take Sergio Martino's ISLAND OF THE FISHERMAN, cut it down and shoot new scenes with a new cast to give the film a bigger American draw. Of course, for it to appeal to more Americans they added a bunch of gore and the end result was the film SCREAMERS. Drake does a wonderful job here fully explaining what his job was, how he got it and everything that was expected of him. If you're a fan of Roger Corman then you know he was willing to do anything to make a profit. Sometimes he'd buy foreign movies and cut them down and other times he would buy them and add stuff to them. Drake is really entertaining here as he discusses the process of getting this movie up to par so that it could be released to drive-ins.
The King of the Fishmen (2014)
*** (out of 4)
Roger Corman takes part in this four minute interview, which basically has him explaining exactly what happened with SCREAMERS. Corman explains that he bought the Italian movie but it needed to have some gore added so he then goes into detail about the new version and how it ended up flopping in theaters. He then talks about how a different title and promotion was done, which turned the film into a hit but then they ran into another problem. There's certainly nothing ground-breaking here but it's always fun getting to hear from Corman. He does tell the stories a tad bit different than some of the other people included on the SCREAMERS disc but this is still fun to watch.
The Killer Fishman (2014)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Jim Wynorski is interviewed for this ten minute featurette that has him discussing his work on the film SCREAMERS. This was basically an Italian picture that Roger Corman bought but had to edit it down and add new footage to. After the film tanked Wynorski came up with a new title as well as a new trailer and sure enough this version turned out to be a hit. Wynorski is always fun to listen to and he does a wonderful job here at giving all sorts of details about how he did this job. What's best is that you get a clear and perfect idea of what it was like working for Corman in these days when if a movie bombed you just threw a new title on it. IF you're a fan of the film or these types of movies you should love this interview.
The Sword of the Fishmen (2014)
*** (out of 4)
This quick four minute featurette has director Joe Dante talking about what little work he had to do with the Roger Corman re-edit known as SCREAMERS. Dante talks about how he was too busy to actually film the new footage so he recommended Miller Drake and then Dante discusses how he would help edit the original Italian picture down so that the new footage would mix in with it. This is a pretty fun piece that fans of the film should enjoy simply because it gives you a good start as to how these Corman edit and paste jobs would work. Dante is always fun to listen to and even at just four minutes this is a good piece.
2014: Eraserhead (2014)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
This twenty-six minute featurette can be found on the Criterion Collection's release of David Lynch's ERASERHEAD. It features interviews with cinematographer Frederick Elmes, Lynch's assistant Catherine Coulson as well as actresses Charlotte Stewart and Judity Anna Roberts. If you're a fan of the film then you'll certainly enjoy this well-produced featurette that has all four people talking about their experience working with the cult filmmaking. One of the repeating subjects was the lack of money while making the picture and all of them tell some great stories about not eating well or not getting paid or in some cases them having to buy film from Kodak so that they'd have something to shoot that night. There are a lot of great stories told throughout this and fans will surely love it.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
In the eighth and final film in the series, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) finally has to face down Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) as he learns secrets from the past that will have an impact on his life.
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 closes out the series (for now) and turns out to be the best film in the series. It's clear that the previous seven films contained a lot of plot that would eventually lead up to this film, which is pretty much two hours worth of non-stop battles and chaos. As much as I enjoyed most of the series, there's no question that this film here took the action to a whole new level and it really delivered the goods and closes out the series in a grand way.
The greatest thing about this film are the terrific special effects, which have certainly came a long way since the first movie. I'm really not a strong fan of CGI but this series certainly shows the greatness that can be done with it because the effects here perfectly build up this fantasy world and some of the battles here are just beautiful to watch. Obviously I'm not going to spoil anything major but the closing thirty minutes contain some of the greatest battles that you're ever going to witness. The visuals and colors in the battle between Potter and Voldemort are wonderful to say the least.
Once again we're given some terrific performances from the entire cast, which was obviously to be expected by this point. There's no question that the casting directors made all the right selections when the series started and all of the casting paid off. We're also treated to a rousing music score as well as some terrific cinematography that just leaps off the screen.
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 is the best of the series and a great way for it to end.
What Have You Done to Solange? (1972)
*** (out of 4)
Teacher Enrico Rosseni (Fabio Testi) is on a small boat with his student/lover Elizabeth (Cristina Galbo) when she notices someone with a knife. Enrico doesn't believe her but the next morning on the radio he hears about a student's brutal murder. Before long more students are being found stabbed in their private parts so the teacher sets out to find out who is doing it.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? has one of the best reputations of any giallo that wasn't directed by Mario Bava or Dario Argento. The film has gained a large cult following over the years due to some bizarre murder scenes and its rather dark story. There's no doubt that this is a very entertaining movie for the most part but at the same time there are certainly some flaws. The biggest flaw is its extremely slow pacing, which makes the film seem extremely long at 107 minutes.
With the pacing issue aside, the film itself is quite memorable on several grounds. For starters, the Catholic setting is certainly put to great use as we have some religious stuff going on in regards to the murders and it just adds an all around creepy vibe. Another good thing are a couple twists that I certainly won't spoil but they will certainly catch you off guard. Yet another enjoyable thing is how perverted the film actually is. The knife to the private parts is a rather uneasy thing to see and director Massimo Dallamano certainly uses it to great effect.
Another major plus that the film has going for it are the performances including Testi in the lead role. I thought he had a very commanding presence on the screen and there's no question that his strong performance helped keep you glued into everything going on. I also thought Galbo was very good in her role of the student who finds herself in over her head. The supporting performances are all good and we also get Camille Keaton in her first role.
As I said, I really had a major issue with the pacing of the film but outside of this the film manages to be entertaining and it certainly works as a mystery.
Mibôjin apâto: Kyonyû no uzuku yoru (2007)
** (out of 4)
Sakurako Kaoru plays a young housewife who finds herself a widow shortly after her marriage. Whenever she thinks about her dead husband she begins to sexually touch herself. After running into a psychic, she ends up taking over an apartment complex being ran by her late husband's mother. Soon she tries to break free from the sexual hold that her husband has on her.
This film has the English title of WIDOW APARTMENT: BIG TITS' ACHING NIGHT. This is another Pinku film that is mainly going to appeal to people who like seeing Japanese women naked. I've sat through a few of these films and this one here is certainly one of the more entertaining ones. Of course, it doesn't hurt that it clocks in at just sixty minutes.
The film has a rather insane plot that never makes too much sense and more times than not it seems as if they are just making things up as they go. I will say that Kaoru is very easy on the eyes and there's no question those turning in to watch her will be satisfied as she is on full display.
Blonde Venus (1932)
*** (out of 4)
Helen Faraday (Marlene Dietrich) learns that her husband Edward (Herbert Marshall) is dying of radiation poison but there's a doctor who might be able to save him. The only problem is that they don't have the money so she goes back to working as a cabaret singer where she meets millionaire Nick Townsend (Cary Grant). At first Helen is just after the money to save her husband but soon her and Nick fall in love.
Dietrich and director Joseph von Sternberg once again create a winning film that manages to be highly entertaining even though some pretty big flaws. Even though the film does have some flaws there's no question that the cast is terrific and once again the director offers up a beautiful looking film to say the least.
The biggest problem with the movie is how melodramatic it gets in the middle. There's a long subplot dealing with the husband snapping after he learns of the affair and Dietrich takes off with the kid. This is where we see her struggling to do anything good for the kid as she has to keep avoiding detectives and others who are looking for her. I found all of this stuff to be rather silly because it makes the husband out to be an incredible villain and for the life of me it just didn't make too much sense.
It didn't make too much sense in many reasons because this was a Pre-code and it did feature a woman cheating on her husband with several men and she was made for the viewer to root for. A lot of credit has to go to Dietrich because she's extremely strong here. She's given a couple musical numbers that she nails just fine but I was really impressed with her dramatic work and especially her love for her son. Marshall is great playing the bad guy and Grant is wonderfully charming in his part. The early romance scenes between he and Dietrich are certainly the highlight of the film. Dickie Moore is also good in his role as the son.
BLONDE VENUS isn't a masterpiece but it's certainly an entertaining film. Yes it has some major plot flaws but there's no doubt that fans of Dietrich and Grant will enjoy it.
*** (out of 4)
Marlene Dietrich plays cabaret singer Amy Jolly who comes to Morocco where she soon finds herself wanted by two very different men. Legionnaire Tom Brown (Gary Cooper) is a bit wild and has very little money whereas Monsieur La Bessiere (Adolphe Menjou) has everything that could give Jolly a great life.
After the success of THE BLUE ANGEL star Dietrich and director Josef von Sternberg ended up in America and this here was their first release. The film certainly has some flaws along the way but there's no denying that it contains some wonderful cinematography, a good enough story as well as some excellent performances, which is the main reason to watch the film.
I really thought there were some terrific sequences scattered throughout the picture but the highlight has to be the one where we first see Dietrich inside the cabaret. I thought the entire section of her coming onto the stage, getting booed and then us meeting the Cooper character was very well-done. Even better is the sequence that followed with the apples. I know some say that the story is cliché and it is even for 1930 standards but it's still good enough to let the star's do their thing.
Speaking of the stars, there's no question that the three leads are what makes the film. Dietrich is ravishing in her role as she has no problem making you believe that these two men would fall in love with her. She's able to give off so emotion with what appears to be such ease. Menjou was always good at playing these smart gentlemen. As for Cooper, he too is very good her as he has a certain flair that works perfectly well with Dietrich.
MOROCCO isn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination but it's a very good gem.
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