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Richard Stanley on H.G. Wells (2015)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
This is a bonus featurette on the LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY'S ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU Blu-ray. This featurette runs 16 minutes and the entire running time has Stanley talking about his love of H.G. Wells. This here is obviously a longer clip than what appeared in the movie and there's no question that Stanley loves to chat about him. He rambles on from everything from the well-known stories to some of Wells lesser known works. He also goes into detail about the Dr. Moreau character, which is of course the person behind his now notorious failure, which was the 1996 adaptation. If you're a fan of Stanley then you're really enjoy this interview because he shares so much of his opinion with you and you can't help but be entertained. Even fans of Wells' work will appreciate what Stanley discusses.
H.G. Wells on Film (2015)
*** (out of 4)
The title is a tad bit misleading but H.G. Wells expert Sylvia Hardy spends 18 minutes discussing the author as well as a few of the films that were adapted from his work. We start off learning about how Wells got into writing and how quickly success eventually came to him. From here we look at the films, which includes an early movie that ripped off his Invisible Man story without giving him credit. The last portion focuses on his Dr. Moreau character with a look at the 1932, 1977 and 1996 versions. For some reason the 1921 version isn't discussed and Hardy admits she has no use for the various foreign rip-offs. It's really too bad this thing wasn't more complete but for the most part there are still plenty of interesting stories shared and if you're unfamiliar with the work of Wells then you'll at least leave this with a little bit of knowledge.
*** (out of 4)
This made-for-TV gem features Robert Culp playing Jim Kiler, a man who grows tired of the teenage punks wrecking his small town. The police can't do anything because no witnesses step forward but after being ran over, Jim decides to press charges. The trial date is three months ago so the rich teenagers decide to harass Kiler and his family in countless ways, which finally pushes the man over the edge.
OUTRAGE came a year before DEATH WISH so the entire vigilante sub-genre hadn't been beaten to death yet. A movie like this is meant to entertain you for 74 minutes and there's no question that this one does that and there's also no doubt that you're blood is going to be boiling throughout the picture. This was based on a true story but as we all know things are often blown out of proportion or made to look worse than what really happened. I really hope that's true here because it's hard to believe that what we see here actually happened in the way it did because these teenagers and the town had to be without a question some of the dumbest in history.
With such a short running time there's no time for any character development so the reasons behind the teenagers doing this is never explained. I mean, most teens cause a little trouble here and there but what we see in this film is crazy as there's attempted murder, arson, violence towards animals and countless other scenes where they break the law. You have to wonder what they were thinking but as the viewer all of this just makes your blood boil and you hate them even more. The Kiler character is someone you can certainly root for and there's no doubt that he's put up against some great villains.
Culp is certainly entertaining in his role and although he does go over-the-top at times, this here just adds to the entertainment. Marlyn Mason is good as his wife and Beah Richards is great in her small role. The actors playing the punks in the film are all good and help sell their characters. OUTRAGE features a rather wild and over-the-top ending that's not 100% satisfying but there's no question that the movie does its job in keeping you entertained throughout.
The People (1972)
** (out of 4)
Kim Darby plays Melodye Amerson, a teacher who takes a job in a very small community and not realizing what she's gotten herself into. One her first day of school she's rudely welcomed by the parents but the children constantly ignore her because of their beliefs. These "beliefs" are a secret that the teacher as well as a health worker (William Shatner) must try to figure out by getting the people to trust them.
THE PEOPLE is a fairly forgettable made-for-TV mixture of drama and sci-fi. The movie contains elements of VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, TO SIR WITH LOVE and several other sci-fi stories because it turns out that the villagers are able to read minds as well as move objects. It's important to note that this film was made before CARRIE and other movies like that so it did get the jump on them. There are certainly some interesting ideas scattered throughout the film but sadly the direction is pretty one-note and the film eventually drags even at just 74 minutes.
The best thing going for the film is the performance by Darby who is certainly believable in the role of the teacher who must keep fighting to try and get the kids to trust her. Once she discovers their secrets, the performance takes on an even stronger note. Shatner is decent in his role but to be fair he really isn't given much to do. The supporting cast fit their roles nicely but no one really stands out. THE PEOPLE could have used a tad bit more life and there's no question that some of the special effects aren't the greatest.
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his group must try and locate the Syndacate and prove that they are real as well as stop their latest mission.
I'm not going to spoil too much of the plot to MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION because it's really best that you go into the film with as little knowledge of the plot as possible. Yes, you heard me correct. Even though this is a summer action movie full of spectacular stunts, it also features a plot and a very good one at that. The film starts off with a terrific stunt with Cruise hanging from an airplane and after seeing this you can't help but wonder how the rest of the film is going to top it. It starts off a bit slow after this as we get a subplot dealing with the CIA but the final hour of this movie is one terrific experience after another.
There are several reasons this film works so well but we can start off with the obvious, which are the terrific stunts. Most people have seen portions of the airplane during the television spots and the trailers and this here is certainly eye-opening but there's so much terrific stuff that follows. There's a breath-taking sequence that takes place in the water that will have you holding your breathe. There's a terrific bait-and-switch inside a political powerhouse. There's the fantastic chase on motorcycles through winding streets. There's also a beautifully orchestrated sequence inside an opera house, which certainly seems like a wink to Hitchcock and THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH.
Another thing that makes this series stand apart from so many others is the fact that we do get actual stories. Again, I'm not going to ruin all the twists and turns here but you're constantly caught up in it and wondering where the next mystery is going to come from. Then there are the performances with Cruise once again shining in the title role. I still remember watching the first film in the theater and it's hard to believe that all these years later Cruise is still going strong. Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg are all in fine form and Rebecca Ferguson is terrific in her part.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBE - ROGUE NATION pretty much packs everything into one film and in the end it's certainly one of the best of the summer and proves that the series shows no signs of slowing down.
Conspiracy of Terror (1975)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Made-for-TV thriller has husband and wife detectives Jacob (Michael Constantine) and Helen (Barbara Rhoades) trying to solve a bizarre death of a realtor whose body was found in a strange position. Pretty soon Jacob begins to wonder about a certain neighborhood where all the dogs have gone missing and soon he realizes that there's a bizarre cult worker there.
CONSPIRACY OF TERROR has some good moments scattered throughout but there are way too many problems with the screenplay for it to be a complete success. This really plays out more like an unsold television pilot than an actual movie because so much time is spent developing the main character of Jacob. We get several scenes where the before-the-commercial cliffhanger has him telling a joke or going after someone with a one-liner. I was surprised to see how funny many of these jokes were.
The biggest problem with the film is the fact that there's no terror to be found. The lack of any suspense or drama really kills the film and the entire plot dealing with the cult is introduced so late that it was hard to really get to know anything about them. They pretty much show up and disappear. Constantine is certainly the highlight of the picture as he makes his character quite likable. Rhoades is also good in her role. The subplot dealing with Jacob's father being upset he married a non-Jew was pretty stupid all around.
Still, the performances and the humor help make CONSPIRACY OF TERROR worth watching if you enjoy these made-for-TV films.
** (out of 4)
ABC Movie of the Week has a large city battling one of the worst heatwaves the country has ever seen. Frank (Ben Murphy) and his pregnant wife Laura (Bonnie Bedelia) decide to jump in their car and try to make it to the top of a mountain where they hope to find a doctor as well as cooler temperatures but they hit one roadblock after another.
HEATWAVE! is a pretty bland movie from start to finish that's biggest flaw is its screenplay, which offers some rather unappealing characters as well as too many predictable moments. One of the biggest issues that I had with the film is how every single turn led the couple to another major issue. I'm not going to ruin some of the plot points here but let's just say that everything imaginable happens to the two but not for a second did I believe it. I also never really felt that the script was putting either of them into any real danger so that means there's no drama or suspense to be had.
Bedelia does turn in a good performance in the role of the 7 month pregnant woman who finds herself battling the heat. Murphy is also good in his role but his character is a major jerk, which is a turnoff as well. Lew Ayres shows up as a county doctor and it was fun seeing him and David Huddleston is also fun in his role as a beer salesman.
HEATWAVE! thankfully runs only 72 minutes or else it would have been more of a chore to sit through. As it is, it's mildly entertaining but there are just too many flaws for it to work.
Seven in Darkness (1969)
*** (out of 4)
A plane full of blind people are being taken to Seattle during a very bad storm when it crashes into the wilderness. Naturally, everyone on the plane who could see are now dead and it's up to seven people, including a pregnant woman, to try and make it out of the woods even though they can't see.
This here was the first ABC Movie of the Week and it's pretty funny to see how much all future TV movies can pretty much be seen here. You've got a very interesting story to grab your attention. You've got famous faces like Milton Berle, Barry Nelson, Leslie Ann Warren and Arthur O'Connell. You've got a short running time that goes by very quickly. And you've got the cliffhanger moments that build into a commercial. SEVEN IN DARKNESS has several flaws but there's no question that it holds your attention from the opening moments until the closing credits and it's certainly worth viewing.
If you're into disaster movies then you're going to enjoy this as the idea because it is quite good. How would seven blind people make it down off a mountain? With a running time of just 73 minutes nothing is given to us in great detail. In fact, I would have liked to have seen the "how" a tad bit more because it seems their journey was just a tad bit too easy for the most part. Still, there are some tense scenes including one where a couple members are attacked by wolves and another where they must try to find a way to cross a river. The performances for the most part are good and on the whole SEVEN IN DARKNESS is a good little film.
* 1/2 (out of 4)
After the suicide of her best friend, Laine (Olivia Cooke) gets four of her friends together to try and contact her. It turns out that the friend made a cardinal sin by playing a ouija board alone, which has allowed a spirit to escape and now it's after the friends.
OUIJA is the latest horror film that offers up zero scares and zero originality. I know a lot of people are attacking this film because it's rated PG-13 but I'm certainly not going to do that. After all, JAWS was rated PG and it was pretty darn scary. This film here is the latest example of everything that's wrong with the genre and that's the fact that instead of building an atmosphere or any type of real tension, instead we're given a bunch of loud bangs that are supposed to scare us.
I guess if you scare extremely easy and will jump at anything then you'll find this terrifying but if you've ever seen a horror movie in your life then it's doubtful that you're going to find much here. For starters, the characters are extremely annoying and especially the lead girl. The problem I had with her is that she's the one from the opening sequence that believes in the powers of the ouija board and yet everything something happens with it she's the first to not believe. I'm not sure why she's so smart at the board except when something evil is happening and then she's as dumb as a board.
The supporting friends are all poorly written and just don't add anything to the mix.
The CGI scare effects are all extremely lame. Another problem is that the death scenes are all unimaginative and contain absolutely no scares. Is there anything good about the picture? Well, it does contain some nice cinematography and there's no doubt that technically it's well-made. However, that matters very little because there's not a single scare to be found and there's not an ounce of atmosphere. OUIJA is a pretty bad horror film that is silly, unoriginal and not at all scary.
Rebellious Daughters (1938)
** (out of 4)
Claire (Marjorie Reynolds) and Barbara (Verna Hillie) are at a nightclub with their boyfriends when a fight breaks out and both are arrested. Each girl gets sent home to their parents who just don't understand the problems of teen girls. The two decide to take a modeling job that they were offered and they run away for greener grass. Soon they both realize that they're just being used by a no-good con man who likes to set up married men to make them pay to keep their secrets from their wives.
REBELLIOUS DAUGHTERS is another social drama from the 30s that is pretty boring all around. The "naughty" title is more suggestive than anything else because the truth is that this certainly isn't much of an exploitation movie and in fact it's rather tame even by 1930s standards. The main point of the film is to show young girls that their parents might ignore them or might force too many rules on them but that's a lot better than some of the creeps they might run into out on the streets.
At 70 minutes the film is pretty predictable from start to finish as you just know that the "tough" friend is going to cross too many lines while the "good" and "naive" one isn't going to realize how much danger she's really in. Then you've got the father who wants his daughter back, the newspaper reporter who likes her and of course a few other twists and turns. The performances are pretty much what you'd expect here and for the most part the film is slightly entertaining. The exploitation matters are extremely clear and a little naughtier storyline might have helped the entertainment value.
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