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A Nail Biter!
I never thought I could ever rate a 50's big bug flick a 10, but this one earned it. This thing was riveting from start to heart-pounding climax. Everything was right with this one especially the 100% interesting script and the tight direction from Gordon Douglas. The final scene in the storm drains under L.A. had me actually biting my nails yelling at the television as James Whitmore is trying to save the 2 small boys surrounded by hordes of giant mutated ants. Another scene with the newly hatched ants all over the naval ship at sea, was superb. There is not one scene in this that was filler. It plays like a police who-dun-it crossed with a sci-fi film mixed with horror overtones. Even the minor actors from cops to moms to kids were all acted very well.
The original poster for this had a warning "not for children", I can see why, it would be to intense. This was made for older teens and adults and maybe this is why it is so much better than the other giant "thing" movies from that era. A gem from the 1950's that today is still worth watching.
Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)
A Chilling Descent into Dark Sexuality and Madness
This highly disturbing look at sexuality was way,way,way ahead of it's time in 1952 when Carson McCullers wrote the novel, let alone in 1967 when John Huston was bold enough to bring this to the screen. It concerns a group of people on a Southern army base in the 50's on the verge of sexual discovery and insanity. Marlon Brando plays a repressed homosexual married to the slatternly over sexed dimwit daughter(Elizabeth Taylor)of the army post General. She teases him with taunts over his "lack of interest in her" while she is having an affair with another officer Brian Keith. Brian is married to Julie Harris who has cut of her nipples with garden shears after a miscarriage (symbolically ending her female identification and interest in sex)and now lives in her bedroom, entertained by her effeminate Filipino houseboy as they watercolor, dream of escaping reality and listening to classical music. Meanwhile Brando becomes crazily obsessed with a handsome enlisted (and psychotic) man (Robert Foster) who rides naked on a horse in the woods and eventually begins to tease Brando with sexual nuances. But Foster also is sneaking into Taylor's room at night and doing something (I can not say it here, but it is solo and involves her panties) by her bed while she is in her usual drunken/pills induced stupors. Eventually all this Fruedian psychosis ends in the final explosive scene, a murder. I liked this film because it delves into dark subjects we rarely see on film, the actors are amazing (especially Brando), the photography is top notch and the extremely well written script drips in Southern Gothic guilt, symbolism and remorse (but no redemption). Two scenes that sent chills up my spine was Brando standing in the pouring rain caressing the secretly picked up candy wrapper Foster dropped, as he stares aggressively at Foster entering the barracks to take a shower and the final scene as the camera madly jumps around the room accompanied by one character's horrified screams and another literally gone insane. One of the most fascinating psychological films I have ever seen. NOTE: This film along with another Taylor vehicle "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?" I've been told by a film scholar,were the catalysts for the rating system that emerged in 1968.
The War at Home (1996)
The most intense and powerful film I have seen in years. There have been other films before that delved into the Vietnam Vet but nothing compared to this emotionally heartwrenching film, as a typical American suburban family, circa 1972, comes apart at the seams, revealing the scars that Vietnam has left on our all of our collective souls. The cast is A++++ fantastic with all four actors(with Kathy Bates a stand-out) giving riveting performances. What is wonderful about this film is that you take no sides, but understand all four characters and empathize with them, even though all four have divergent viewpoints and needs. There are scenes in here that are so powerful as family secrets and feelings are revealed(such as the confrontation between son and mother) that will have you emotionally drained and in tears of anguish. I actually cried in this film, something I rarely do. The shocking end is a stunner! A much overlooked film that should be seen. I rate this 1996 film a 10/10 a superlative piece. Highly recommended especially in this day and age with again, our country embroiled in a hideous war, our headlines shouting of atrocities and again, our young men and women returning with deep psychological scars, with their deep pain of deeds done in the line of honor. A must see film.
A Chronicle of Corpses (2000)
Moody, Disturbing, But....Slow
POSSIBLE SPOILER ****** Being a very low budget piece, I was really impressed by many aspects of this film such as top notch cinematography (very impressive Euro style), capable cast, good use of backgrounds and a well chosen classical musical score, all aspects usually missing from low budget indies. The problem with the film is it's pacing which is deadly slow, and it's lack of any suspense or emotion. Even with this criticism, the film is still a haunting work even after it's over. I still find myself thinking back on it's disturbing plot. POSSIBLE SPOILER. If anybody else has seen this can you explain the ending in the chapel? Not really sure what it meant, was the victim at the alter, the true villain of the piece (which would explain an earlier scene with the brutal murder in the kitchen) or was the the ending to show the futility of life on the part of the last surviving character. All in all gave it a 7/10. This director has promise, hope he continues his career in his art.
The Calling (2000)
**** Possible Spoiler****After reading the comments on here I thought I was in for a stinker, but I found this film very well made. It kept my interest throughout, was filmed wonderfully, using the Isle of Man locale effectively (at times the sky and landscape looked like out of a fantasy) and overall the plot held up. Yes I agree the mother was naive, but are not most mothers just that, when it comes to their spouse and children, not wanting to believe the worst. Film concerns the birth of the Anti-Christ and those who must protect and nurture his evil body and soul until he is ready to take over the world. This film was truly chilling from the sacrificial murder of the first born child, the other murders that follow, the hedonistic masked birthday party for the Devil's spawn, the Satanic crucifiction, up to the emotional matricide and the astounding prophetic climax. Not as good as "The Omen", of course, but I have to say just a notch below it. No other film made after "The Omen" captured this genre as well as this film. Also this was not a direct to video as another commented, it was released in theaters. 8/10
This film is very very bad. I saw this in a theater on opening weekend with about 10 other people. (That tell you something). Set in 1800's, the storyline is plain wacky the funniest thing is the Russian Ambassodor speaking with a down home Georgia drawl. I guess the casting people thought maybe this character was born in the Georgia region in Russia and they would speak that way. Anyway the acting is amazingly bad not helped by the lines they had to deliver. Count how many times they mention "poxed whores". By the end of the film, after a disaster that takes place, I mentioned to my companion watch the smoke will clear and it will reveal modern Hong Kong. Yep that is what happens modern Hong Kong, Or was it Singapore? Atlanta? What have you. As a good/bad movie to laugh at (like The Oscar, Valley Of The Dolls, Showgirls, The Heretic, etc.)it manages some laughs but unlike the others mentioned above, it is not uniformly hysterical as these are. There are a lot of long dull stretches especially in first half of film. 2/10 only for the Russian's accent. Recommend to avoid otherwise. Go read the book.
Top Notch Mystery Thriller
Stylish photography, very well acted and very well written and directed thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. Katherine Ross and James Caan as the bored kinky NY couple are outstanding in one of their early roles. Made in 1967 this film was way ahead of it's time with it's themes. If you like offbeat mysteries "Games" is a game you will want to play! Hard to find on tape, not on DVD and rarely on TV. Too bad because this film is like one of those lost cinematic gems. Hopefully a DVD distributer will release in a (hopefully)widescreen. Recommend this one highly.
Knight Moves (1992)
I really liked this movie a lot. Very well written murder mystery with clues that are fair and sort of a scary movie to boot! It really keeps you guessing right to the last scene who is the disturbed murderer. Set on an island off Canada at a world chess tournament, where the killer is murdering his or her (I won't spill the beans!) victims by chess moves taken by the players. Every one and I mean everyone, is a suspect as the cast gets whittled down by the killer leading to a heart pounding climax. Nice photography with a creepy opening scene. If you like to play Sherlock Holmes or just like an edge of your seat mystery thriller you will enjoy this movie a lot. I guarentee you will keep changing your guess to who the killer is many times while watching this.....but use your little gray cells and follow the clues! Neat flick!
What Were They Thinking????
I got suckered into seeing this last night against my better judgement. Boy what a bad movie. The premise was interesting set in 1899, the League is made up of literary figures such as Dorian Gray, Mina Harker (Dracula), Dr. Jeckyll, Allan Quatermain, Capt. Nemo, and The Invisible Man who are recruited to stop another mad literary figure from taking over the world. Ok belief is suspended BUT this film is too wacky. For example: Driving a car (in 1899 London) no one on street thinks it is strange. This is just one of many unbelievable things in film. By midway through I was waiting for a television or an airliner to pop up. But the worst thing is the script. Terrible. Worst dialogue I have heard in a film since "Showgirls" or "The Avengers". I'm serious it is that bad. Also after first 20 min film is EXTREMELY boring and even gets sillier until final half hour. Lame quips and bad jokes do not a movie make. Last half hour was better though. I knew this is was undoubtedly a problem film beforehand since 20th Century Fox really did not promote it very much like other hopeful summer blockbusters. I guess the dismal box office proved that. I give it 3/10 only because I felt sorry for Sean Connery, who I like a lot, he produced this mess besides starring in it. Anyone else 1/10.
The Oscar (1966)
"When You Lie Down With Dogs.....
....you come up smelling like fleas". One of the lines actually spoken (by Tony Bennett)in "The Oscar". Words can not describe this film. It is so so bad...it is GREAT! Stephen Boyd's performance is way way way over the top like nothing you have ever seen before. He is like a rabid dog hopped up on speed. The other performers are terrible too! Especially Tony Bennett who looks like he is reading his lines off cue cards. But it is the script that will have you on the floor laughing. There are so many memorably bad lines in this that I recommend you have a whole pad of paper and a pen ready to jot them all down. Rush don't walk to your nearest video store and rent this! One of the best (if not THE best) of the camp crazed melodramas of the 1960's. 10/10 as ultra grade A+ high camp. Regular still high 6/10 for its sheer audacity and 60's chic look at the bowels of Hollywood. Norma Desmond Mr. Boyd is ready for his close up.