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11416 reviews in total 
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Dawn of the Basket, 22 November 2015

The Man in the Moon Mask (2007)

*** (out of 4)

This six minute interview with actor David Emge can be found on the Synapse release of BASKET CASE 2. The actor, best known for his role in DAWN OF THE DEAD, talks about how he got the job, what it was like working on the project and what he took from the film. At just six minutes there's obviously nothing ground-breaking here but it was fun getting to see Emge and get his thoughts on the matter. Once wishes that the featurette focused more on Emge's entire career instead of this one movie but fans of the actor and BASKET CASE 2 should at least be entertained by this.

Making the Case, 22 November 2015

Beyond the Wicker: Making 'Basket Case 2' (2007)

*** (out of 4)

This 23 minute featurette can be found on the Synapse release of BASKET CASE 2. This featurette features the make-up artist as well as director Frank Henenlotter as they discuss the making of this film as well as FRANKENHOOKER. We learn during the featurette that FRANKENHOOKER was filmed first and was a rather tense shoot. We learn that this film went a lot smoother as we hear some behind-the-scenes stories as well as getting to see plenty of footage that was shot on the set. This includes some of the monster molds being done as well as scenes of Henenlotter directing. If you're a fan of either film then you'll enjoy this as it gives you a good idea of what was going on behind-the-scenes and it also gives you some terrific footage of stuff that was happening on the set.

The Curtains Fall, 22 November 2015

The Ultimate Nightmare: The Making of Curtains (2014)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Highly entertaining documentary about the making of the slasher CURTAINS, which had a very troubled production. Director Richard Ciupka, actresses Lesleh Donaldson and Lynne Griffin, composer Paul Zaza and artist Greg Cannom are interviewed about their involvement in the film. It's easy to see that very few people are actually proud of the movie and as this documentary wears down we can see that everyone in honestly shocked that someone would want to distribute the film as well as view it. The most fascinating parts of the documentary center on the troubled post-production, which included nearly thirty-five minutes worth of footage being added without the director knowing. We also learn about the various issues that caused the producer to shoot new scenes nearly two years after the movie went into production. Everyone involved does a very good job at explaining the troubled history of the movie and by the time this is over you really do understand why a film can simply go off the tracks and end up somewhat of a disaster. Fans of CURTAINS will certainly enjoy hearing all of these stories.

Nice Promo, 22 November 2015

The Making of 'Shocker' (1989)

*** (out of 4)

This EPK for Wes Craven's SHOCKER does a pretty good job at showing off the killer, the story as well as the soundtrack, which includes several songs from the likes of Megadeath and Alice Cooper. Craven is interviewed as he talks about his pre-film days and then talks about what he wants to do in a film like SHOCKER. If you're a fan of the film then you'll be interested in this featurette. Obviously there's nothing ground-breaking to be found here but I always enjoy watching these promotional pieces because it gives you an idea of how films were sold to people back in the day. This clocks in at just 9 minutes but it's fun if you're a fan of the film.

Entetaining Sequel, 22 November 2015

The Vampire's Coffin (1957)

*** (out of 4)

A doctor steals the corpse of vampire Count Lavud (German Robles) and soon those from the first film who destroyed him must try to do so again. Once again the Count is after Marta (Ariadna Welter) but Dr. Saldivar (Abel Salazar) is there to try and save the day.

This sequel to EL VAMPIRO is actually a lot better and manages to be one of the better vampire movies from this period. The movie fixes a lot of the problems with the first movie and manages to be a lot more entertaining thanks in large part to a nice atmosphere, a much better flow to the picture as well as some nice performances. The film kicks off with a great grave robbing sequence, which was obviously influenced by FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN but it's still a lot of fun.

From here we get a lot of very good scenes that manage to pack some nice atmosphere and of course the fog machine is on overdrive during most scenes. There's some very good stuff inside the hospital where two doctors debate on science and the idea of stealing the vampire's corpse. I thought the attack scenes were all extremely good and there's no doubt that the flow is much better here. The film manages to go by rather quickly and this certainly helps.

Another benefit is that the three leads are all very good. Robles is excellent as the vampire and manages to be quite menacing. Welter isn't given as much to do here as she did in the original but it's still nice seeing her return. Abel Salazar handles the role without any problems and makes for a memorable character. THE VAMPIRE'S COFFIN, like the first film, features some bad special effects with the wires attached to the flying bat being very noticeable but it doesn't do any major harm to the picture. If you're a fan of Mexican cinema then this here is a must see.

El vampiro (1957)
The Vampire, 21 November 2015

El Vampiro (1957)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Martha (Adriadna Welter) shows up at her former hometown when she receives word that her aunt is very ill. Once she gets to the family home she learns that the aunt has died but she soon realizes that a lot of strange things are going on. Soon she meets Count Duval (German Robles) who just happens to be a vampire.

EL VAMPIRO isn't the greatest vampire movie ever made and the film certainly has some flaws but for the most part it's a mildly entertaining Mexican horror film. Again, it's certainly not a good movie due to the various flaws but at the same time it's actually a lot better than many of the other Mexican horror films from this era.

I think the strongest thing the film has going for it are some of the images. I thought the cinematography was very good and there were some effective moments and especially the use of fog. I also liked the vampire attacks as they were slightly more graphic than what we were seeing in American monster movies. Another plus were the performances of Welter and Robles. Both of them are quite good in their roles and I thought Robles carried a strong presence as the vampire.

As I said, there are some flaws to be found including the pacing, which is pretty bumpy. The film runs under 90 minutes but there are many times where it dragged. Another problem is that some of the effects are really bad and especially the scenes with the bat flying. The wire is so obvious in these scenes that the film really shows its low-budget. With that said, EL VAMPIRO is still worth watching for fans of the genre.

The Gospel According to Mac, 21 November 2015

30 for 30: The Gospel According to Mac (2015)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Another winner from ESPN takes a look at NCAAF coach Bill McCartney who got his break at Michigan but ended up coaching at Colorado where his first three seasons were a disaster but then, after some great recruits, he managed to take his team to the championship game against Notre Dame. While most would put football at number one, Coach McCartney put religion as his main focus and it would be tested throughout his years at Colorado.

This here is another very good episode from the series, which has turned out to be one of the best ever made. These 30 for 30 documentaries are always entertaining and give you a terrific behind-the-scenes story to some events that people might already be familiar with. This story here is pretty dramatic and especially Colorado's run towards a National Championship and the heartbreak that the players would face on and off the field. McCartney is interviewed as well as his daughter and many of his players. The interviews are excellent and really gives you a great view of what was going on during this period of college football.

Why Did People Sign Up for This?, 20 November 2015

Cannonball Run II (1984)

1/2 (out of 4)

Incredibly lazy and rather pointless sequel has J.J. McClure (Burt Reynolds) and various others back and competing in another race from the West coast to the East coast.

Somehow, THE CANNONBALL RUN turned out to be a huge hit so a sequel was put into production and it's amazingly just as dull as the first film. Also rather amazing is the fact that they managed to get even more famous faces to appear in this thing including Frank Sinatra who would appear in a theatrical movie for the last time. That's right, the great Sinatra ending his theatrical career on CANNONBALL RUN II. How does that happen? Was he bored? Did he need the money? Doing it as a favor?

CANNONBALL RUN II is pretty much the same movie as the first, although we do get a few new actors to appear here including Telly Savalas as a gangster, Shirley MacLaine as a nun, Richard Kiel as Jackie Chan's assistant and there's also Sid Caesar, Catherine Bach, Tim Conway, Don Knotts, Tony Danza, Ricardo Montalban, Jim Nabors, Charles Nelson Reilly, Henry Silva, Doug McClure, Abe Vigoda and I've already mentioned Sinatra. Reynolds basically sleepwalks through the film and every once in a while smacks Dom DeLuise. Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. easily steal the film and thankfully they're given a bigger part than the previous movie.

As I said, this is a pretty horrible movie as was the first one but with so many stars it's hard not to recommend this to film buffs. As awful as the movie is and as unfunny as it is, there's still something mildly (and painfully) amusing getting to see so many famous faces in one picture. It's really too bad that the filmmakers didn't try making a better movie though.

Terrific Cast in Lazy Comedy, 20 November 2015

The Cannonball Run (1981)

1/2 (out of 4)

Incredibly bad, lazy and rather embarrassing "comedy" about a wide range of people competing in a cross-country race where whatever rules there are were meant to be broken.

What's strange about THE CANNONBALL RUN is that during the closing sequence there are outtakes shown with the cast members constantly messing up shots because they can't stop laughing. We see various famous faces mess up with laughter and you have to wonder what they were laughing at because there's certainly nothing in the actual picture that was funny. There's a terrific cast on display here but they all pretty much just sleepwalk through the picture so perhaps they were laughing at the easy money? Perhaps there was some funny green grass being passed around?

What we've basically got is director Hal Needham and star Burt Reynolds bringing along several famous faces and trying to recapture the magic of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT. There's no doubt that the two men made a string of road pictures but sadly the majority of them were quite awful including this thing here. The only thing that keeps this movie from getting a BOMB rating is the fact that it contains so many stars and no matter what you feel about the movie, it does remain slightly entertaining because of getting to see so many people. Roger Moore is spoofing his James Bond role. We've got Dean Martin and Sammy David, Jr. spoofing their Rat Pack days. Dom DeLuise is being himself and you've got beauties Farrah Fawcett and Adrienne Barbeau. Also on hand are the likes of Jack Elam, Terry Bradshaw, Jackie Chan, Peter Fonda, Burt Convey and many others.

So, what's so bad about the picture? Pretty much the fact that it's extremely lazy and it's very doubtful anyone was taking it too serious. The plot is about as thin as a daycare play and I'd argue that there's really not a single laugh to be had. The actors are constantly doing stupid things but why not put a little more thought into it and try to deliver something good? Perhaps they already knew it didn't have to be good and people would line up at the box office? Either way, THE CANNONBALL RUN is worth watching just to see all the famous faces, many of them appearing in the worst movie of their career.

Classic Chase Picture, 20 November 2015

Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

*** (out of 4)

The Bandit (Burt Renolds) is challenged to deliver some illegal beer across state lines with the reward being a huge payday so he and his partner Cledus (Jerry Reed) head out for the journey. Along the way the Bandit picks up a woman (Sally Field) running away from her wedding and soon Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) is chasing them as well as countless other cops.

SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT isn't a brilliantly directed masterpiece or some strong contender for an Oscar but it wasn't trying to be. If you come into this film expecting some sort of masterpiece then you're going to be disappointed but if you're looking for a fun cheap time then there's plenty of great stuff here. If you're unfamiliar with the 70s then you might not realize that this type of "chase" picture was quite popular but this one here was clearly the most memorable of the bunch and has remained a favorite to new generations of people.

The greatest thing about the movie is the fact that no one takes it too serious. I say that because if you try to use logic with anything going on then you're just not watching the correct movie. Without a question the highlight of the picture are the non-stop action scenes where we get one terrific chase after another. The Trans Am used in the car is probably the most famous thing in the picture and there's no question that it's a beauty to watch as it jumps bridges and out runs various police cars. The stunts here are certainly excellent and fun to watch, which was the whole purpose of the film.

It also doesn't hurt that you've got such a likable cast of characters. Reynolds was born to play a role like this as his good- looking nature, silly laugh and charm just spills over on each scene that he's in. Field is also very fun and believable as the "opposite" type of girl. There's no doubt that the two of them have a nice chemistry together. Reed is also fun in the movie, although he's certainly far from giving a great performance but his hit song is a terrific bonus. Mike Henry is great as the dimwitted son but it's the ad-libbing Jackie Gleason who easily steals the picture with his hilarious turn as the dumb Sheriff who just won't give up.

SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT gave a major boom to the genre but of course, it would be followed by some less-than-successful sequels and other rip-offs from the same star and director. Still, it doesn't matter how many bad films followed because this one here remains one of the best out there and is highly entertaining all these years later.

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