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|4 reviews in total|
Nathan Juran's "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" is a film that's hard not
to enjoy on a number of levels. Unlike his other, more respectable
sci-fi/fantasy offerings of the 1950s ("20 Million Miles to Earth" and
"7th Voyage of Sinbad"), "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" suffers from some
of the worst special effects ever committed to celluloid. But that's
just a small part of the fun.
Allison Hayes (in the title role as the emotionally tortured Nancy) and
Yvette Vickers (as the sleazy, jealous Honey) deliver the best
performances of their drive-in careers. The dialogue is strictly
first-draft, but all involved (including William Hudson as the
adulterous Harry) deliver earnest, enthusiast performances. That is not
to say that they can save this low-budget offering. Instead, they
transport what could have been a forgettable bit of nonsense into the
universe of much-loved b-movie kitsch. The unintentional laughs rival
those found in "Plan 9 from Outer Space" and "Robot Monster."
As for the "special effects," the film suffers from the same cheap
optical process that caused "The Amazing Colossal Man" to turn
transparent in his long shots. It appears to consist of double exposing
the film negative in the camera, thus freeing the producers from any
in-lab optical-printing expenses. (This double-exposure technique also
makes the 50 Foot Woman appear about 12 feet tall during her attack.)
The real star of the movie is a large inflatable hand which Mr. Hudson
is forced to wrap around himself in order to facilitate capture by his
For all of it's faults "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" is certainly not
the best low-budget drive-in movie of the 1950s, but it is certainly one
of the most entertaining.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Helpmates" is arguably Laurel and Hardy's finest sound short. It is the
perfect blend of situational humor, surreal dialogue and impeccably
timed slapstick that makes this such a joy to watch. While "The Music
Box" may have won the Academy Award for the boys, "Helpmates" is a more
The film opens with Ollie scolding the audience for the debauchery that has apparently taken place the night before. "What did you do? I'll tell you what you did. You took advantage of your wife's absense and pulled a wild party! And that's not all. You lost all of your ready money in a poker game! Could anything be more crass? More disgusting? I'll tell you what you are in two words: Dis-picable!" As the camera pulls back, we see that Ollie is actually talking to himself in a mirror.
Ollie soon calls Stan to solicit help in cleaning up the house. The telephone conversation that ensues is one of the strangest in the duo's career. "Why weren't you at the party last night?" asks Ollie. "I couldn't make it. A dog bit me," admits Stan. "Where?" asks Ollie. "There," says Stan, holding his bandaged arm to the telephone receiver. Stan adds "And the doctor says I might have hydrophosphates." Ollie tells Stan to come over and "make it snappy." Within seconds of hanging up the phone Stan is at the door. "What took you so long?" quizzes Ollie. "I was talking to you," replies Stan.
What follows is nothing short of comedic brilliance. As in their best "deconstructive" comedies ("Two Tars" and "Big Business" come to mind), Stan proceeds to do everything possible to make matters worse for his friend in need. One small mishap builds to an even greater calamity with the master timing of a fine Swiss watch. And yet, as the film comes to a close we see that they have indeed completed their task just in time for Ollie's wife's arrival. That is until Stan decides to light a cozy fire.
"Helpmates" is one of those rare comedy shorts that gets funnier with each visit
Burt I. Gordon's "The Amazing Colossal Man" was the first sci-fi film I
saw as a kid that actually scared me. But it wasn't the effect of a bald
Col. Glenn Manning running around Las Vegas that I found frightening; it
was the actual atomic bomb test-blast footage I found so horrific. At
the age of six, seeing houses blown like matchsticks into blazing debris
was enough to cause nightmares. The same footage (recently restored by
Peter Kuran for the "explosive" documentary "Trinity and Beyond: The
Atomic Bomb Movie") can still sends shivers down the spine of any
"The Amazing Colossal Man" still ranks as one of the better b-grade drive-in movies. It is unintentionally funny, full of impossible science and very entertaining. The cast does their best with the material (from a script by George Worthing Yates) but I suspect no one took the project very seriously, least of all Mr. Gordon. It is also highlighted by another thunderous Albert Glasser score.
"Once Were Warriors" must rank as one of the five best films of the 1990s. Directed with self-assurance by Lee Tamahori from an insightful script by Riwia Brown, this motion picture depicts domestic violence among a working-class family in New Zealand in a manner that is both shocking and inspirational.
The cast - headed by the intensely powerful Temuera Morrison (Jake Heke) and the determined yet vulnerable Rena Owen (as his long-suffering wife Beth) - delivers one of the most stirring ensemble efforts in recent cinema memory. The film also boasts an infectious soundtrack of reggae-tinged pop/rock which effectively underscores the psychological tension throughout.
A thought-provoking, often disturbing film that will keep you riveted from start to finish. Brilliant