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52 reviews in total 
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Psych-Out (1968)
A view of the not-so-distant past...almost like another Woodstock!, 24 November 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I stumbled upon this film on MGM HD. I turned to the channel and here was some flick with a young Jack Nicholson and Dean Stockwell with some young lady with a postcard that reads "Jess Saes: God is in a sugar cube"...or something like that.

I figured it was a Roger Corman schlock job I had never heard of. Instead it turns out to be Dick Clark!

The film is a hoot when seen through 2017 eyes of someone who grew up in Michigan during the 60's and 70's. I may not have been in San Fran but I certainly knew some of the characters in the movie. Most of them wanted to spend their lives tripping and going to Grateful Dead shows. As may be expected they are also the people who now have a need for serious dental work later in life...but can't afford to pay for it.

The dialog is so accurate it is amazing. There is also decades later irony in such statements as Jack Nicholson uttering about San Fran something like "You don't need any bread around here...almost everything is free." My Goodness...Can you imagine what would happen if you transported such a hippie to modern San Fran where it costs a fortune just pay the monthly rent???? This movie documents that San Francisco has now become everything that the hippies in 1969 abhorred!!

The house they live in is like straight out of Frank Zappa's Uncle Meat. "We all lived together and balled together and everyone got the crabs." Well...they don't get the crabs in Psych Out...but they should have! :)

Then...later in the film...Bruce Dern appears as The Seeker! OMG...he is magnificent as the character! Another psycho played wonderfully by Mr. Dern!

Lastly...look up the movie poster art. The art is incredible period piece material. The art is truly Movie Poster material when movie posters were "7-UP Uncola Hippie R Rated Style" productions.

Psych Out is a hoot. I am a movie buff...that I had never heard of it. It isn't earth shattering material. While hokey in many parts it still presents a pretty accurate view of what acid heads really were like.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Not sure if it is more awful or just plain silly, 22 May 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Good lord is this an awful movie. The characters and say nothing that any human being would do or say.

It's amazing that a lady who is head of a major gun manufacturing company is someone no one misses when she is held in the park. She is trapped chained to a hot dog stand....where of course she never has to pee...and which has conveniently placed Coke products for product placement...and the only people she speaks to are the sniper and the next the next important character needed to move the plot forward. No one calls her about missing a facial appointment or anything like that.

Of course there is a bomb in the cart. Yet...with hundreds of people walking by all the time not one damn one of them ever notices that she is chained to a hot dog cart! And...with a sniper trained on her...which means there is only one single angle to shoot from but no one can figure that out...and a cop shot dead in the street for at least 12 minutes before any rescue can nice of the dreck to inform us...NO ONE IS TAKING CHARGE OF THE AREA TO SECURE THE AREA! Not only was any legal context of the Second Amendment ever researched before writing this enforcement 101 was also skipped.

This is an amazing exercise in convenience. Nobody's cell phone dies at the wrong time and the calls are not interrupted. The master villain knows everything about everyone and knows exactly when they will show up. Everything is so "pat" it is just silly.

Awesome movie, 7 December 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sometimes the scenario of watching a movie can tell you how good the movie is. I was working on items and had just finished watching Sam Whiskey on MGM HD when The Scalphunters came on. I didn't want to watch it...I had other things to do...but the more I watched the more engrossed I became.

I had heard of the movie so that got me started. All I knew was that it was supposed to be really good.

The Scalphunters script is excellent. The characters and dialogue are very believable. Also...the script is a treatise on the 1960's done in the 1860's...and it isn't stupid. It turns out that William Norton...who wrote such quirky films such as Brannigan and Big Bad the writer.

Sidney Pollack turned out to be the director. Sydney also directed Absence of Malice and Tootsie and Out of Africa. The direction is excellent.

Burt Lancaster, Ossie Davis, Telly Savalas and Shelley Winters all turn in excellent performances. They bring the script and the characters believably to life. They must have loved making this movie.

This one is worth dedicating the time to.

Starts out great; ends as a Monty Python "Stop this; this is silly!", 6 May 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Any viewer has to remember that this is a Hammer film and the year of production is 1971. This was racy sexy vampire libido turn-on drive- in movie stuff at the time. Certainly a great drive-in flick for a few beers and hopefully a hot date with fantasy in her mind. any decades standards...what starts out as a really good horror film gets silly at the end. far as eye candy goes...this film rates a 10 for lots of babes and studly hero. No literally dirty girls here...only very figuratively dirty. Others have already noted the bevy of Hammer beauties in this film and it does not disappoint!

At least one other has noted that the film also shows modern society in respect to the paranoia factor of certain factions of society. The Peter Cushing Brotherhood reminded me of Global Warming nuts while watching the film. "We must burn at the stake anyone who disagrees with us!"

A better script would have served this film well and a remake could probably do quite well with a meatier script. In the end it gets silly. Count Karnstein tells his Vampire hottie that Peter Cushing and his Brotherhood can come burn them and they will laugh at the Brotherhood because there bodies will die but their souls will find another body to inhabit (these vampires can only be killed by beheading or by a stake through the heart). Undoubtedly there is a bevy of beautiful bodies waiting to be taken over.

DOH! The Count is informed by his servant that they are are bringing axes! And...Sharp implements too! DOH! So now they are trapped and killed because they are that stupid!!???

Now THAT is just plain silly!

If you like vampire flicks....before vampires all became comic book superhero vampires...then you will be entertained. If you have a hot babe you know with a bent for this sort of flick then by all means check it out with her. They will enjoy the visual and they will also enjoy the silliness...and with some wine or the like it probably will work real well to bring out her Twin of Evil! ;)

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
The Boring Audience Killers, 17 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

TCM ran The Fearless Vampire Killers (TFVK) the same night that METV ran the Star Trek "Amok Time" (the Spock "pon-farr" kill Spock episode). Both productions are from basically the same year. It is interesting to see both products on the same night. The TV show episode is memorable and the TFVK hardly ever is seen. The answer as to "why this is" is in the script. The Star Trek episode in classic 1967 TV (for all the warts in looking at it back through time); TFVK is as boring as they come.

It is asserted that TFVK is a satire of the Hammer Vampire movies. In my life I have seen and enjoyed the Hammer Vampire movies. I had never seen TFVK until now. It took all my might to sit through TFVK to say that I had watched it so that I will never watch it again. As far as satire goes the film is just lame.

Futurama has the episode of "Why Must I Be a Crustacean in love?" which is a satire of "Amok Time." The episode is hilarious. "Young Frankenstein" (YF) is a satire of Frankenstein movies. YF is hilarious. TFVK is just flat out boring.

While watching TFVK a memory came of reading Joseph Heller's "Something Happened" which is a 400+ page book that should be re-titled "Nothing Happened." At the end of a viewing of TFVK the feeling was that "Nothing Happened" after slogging through a lengthy tome\viewing.

Sharon Tate may look very hot in some of the scenes but the scenes are very brief and far and few between. The rest of the movie is filled with a lot of unintelligible jargon spewed by characters who follow "The Idiot Principle" of writing. In the Idiot Principle of writing the characters continue to say and do things that are more stupid than the last thing they did because that is supposedly funny and is the only way to move the plot forward. TFVK follows this conceit in a boring manner until a really stupid climax and denouement occurs.

Some have made mention that all that is missing is Benny Hill music. One can see that as the film plays out and it would only have made the movie better to take a direct Benny Hill approach. It would have at least been a little bit more entertaining.

Arnold Schwarzenegger said in an interview about "The Last Action Hero" that everyone read the script and thought it was great. Then we made the movie and watched and realized "My God...this is awful! And now we have to go out and sell it!" I suspect those that made and bankrolled TFVK probably experienced similar feelings after the created and watched TFVK. It just isn't really that good.

Zardoz (1974)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Zardoz has spoken, 3 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The perspective one has on Zardoz will depend on whether or not one saw it in the original theater run. Growing up in the 1970's brings a perspective that modern viewers just won't have.

This review was prompted by a re-viewing of Zardoz prompted by a text message from a friend who claimed he wasted 2 hours of his life watching this awful tripe. My friend knew I would know Zardoz.

I originally saw Zardoz first run at the Eastown Theater. The Eastown theater was the last big screen theater in the USA in the 1970's. Back then the neighborhood laughed their buns off for weeks over how silly it was. Zardoz is like an extended Monty Python script that goes on and on.

The attempt at a sociological statement is laudable. The result is laughable.

The giant floating head spews guns and ammunition. Well, how does the weaponry get manufactured? There are no manufacturing facilities anywhere. Also...would not ejecting Winchesters up into the air and down on the ground damage at least some of the weapons? Wouldn't it be wiser...since the Brutals enter the head to put in the just have the Brutals pick up the weapons on the way out? The Immortals in the Vortex have lost all sexual desire. OK...don't they still have to use the bathroom (like, where is the trash and sewage system in the vortex)? Don't their clothes get stinky (no one ever changes clothes...unless you became a banished aged one...which means)? Who makes the clothes for the banished aged immortals? What do the women do when they have their menstrual cycle (no stores to buy tampons at; do they bleed down their legs)? These are just a few of the unanswered but obvious questions about life in the Vortex. Life in the Vortex makes no sense.

The film is also weighted down by the film construct of better than half the movie being made of motionless people standing or laying around pontificating. Note to all authors and filmmakers: if you want to bore your audience to tears then orate like heck with no motion and you will have them snoozing in no time.

As teenagers we thought Zardoz was silly. As an adult I found it to be a nice idea for a movie but an idea for a movie doth not a movie make. I still found Zardoz to be silly

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Well Done Stage Play on film, 10 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I stumbled across this film just as it was starting. The discovery was quite a surprise to me. Although I know many films of the crime genre I had never heard of The Cheap Detective. I decided to give the movie a try.

The film is a Neil Simon play adapted for the big screen. This means that one gets very little physical action. One gets characters moving from room to room spouting dialog at each other. This works OK to a point but it holds back the film from becoming more than a 2 to 3 star movie. Turner Classic movies has it as 2 star; I think 3 star is probably better but it probably settle between the 2 ratings.

The set up section was a bit slow and had me wondering if I would stay through to the end. I know many of the films being parodied and I know how hard it is to pull in all the various elements to make a humorous parody so I can cut the production some slack there. So...while a send up of Casablanca's Ricks is necessary it doesn't mean that it came off that well.

The film gets better once we get out of Rick's. The pacing and the dialog come together better once we get to what I think Simon had more in mind which is a Sam Spade\Philip Marlowe send up of the Cheap Detective's relationship with his women. But...the scenes have to be set up somehow.

I read from some the reviews that they can't understand Peter Falk's dialog. I had no issues with his speech. In fact the film is carried by Falk's acting ability. He pulls off the Cheap Detective role well because it is not far from Columbo for him to play.

It certainly helps to know the source material. The cameos and supporting roles add a charm 35 years later playing the game of "oh...that is so-and-so" as they appear on screen. But if one doesn't know that John Houseman is doing a send up of Sydney Greenstreet's Kasper Gutman then one completely misses out on what is actually going on.

The problem is that there is no real purpose to the story. There is no point. It doesn't have that "edge" that Mel Brook's most successful films\stories had. If you didn't see where this was going you must be young.

That said...I didn't mind watching The Cheap Detective. Will I buy it and add to the movie collection? Probably not. Do I consider it better, same or worse than Murder By Death? is different because The Cheap Detective only has one lead character to lampoon versus creating the MBD ensemble. I personally like CD over MBD but only because I am more over a ladies man for a movie and CD has more cheesecake in it. That's hardly saying one is better; I think they are basically the same product just done a little bit different.

It certainly is a lot better...though....than the sophomoric material that passes for comedy in today's world.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Columbo does "Sunset Boulevard", 12 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Count me in as among those who consider this one of the top Columbo episodes. The construct from start to finish is excellent. This is the kind of episode that helped build "the charm of Columbo" that has made the series stand the test of time. This is not the standard episodic construct of "good cop gets bad villain." It's actually something a bit different.

Some people may feel that a Columbo storyline that doesn't finish with Columbo arresting the villain makes this episode a sub-standard episode. This is because the episode does not meet a predetermined evaluation of how Columbo "must" act. What makes this episode work so well is the fact that Columbo comes off as more human and humane then ever with the decisions he has to make and how it affects his own behavioral patterns. This case emotionally bothers Columbo.

Janet Leigh plays a version of Nora Desmond. In a weird way she actually is both the same and completely different Nora Desmond that Carol Burnett played! Both Nora's are alive but they have already caught the next bus out of town.

Now...any person in any industry may grow older and have this happen to them. Many people around the world all have to deal with their own version of Nora Desmond...someone they love but are not the person they once were and they really don't know it. They character of Nora is a universal composite...and an exceptionally brilliant universal composite at that!

People who have checked out a bit but who are still here are generally very habitual and predictable. Frustration and anger sometimes well up inside such people because things like their sense of time are messed up. They try and remember what they did an hour ago and they just cannot grasp it. One of the other things that this leads to is a sense of habit. Having the habit is is somewhat grounding for reality for the afflicted.

Columbo can see this habit and this character of Janet Leigh's for who she is. There is a piece of the puzzle missing and Columbo logically concludes the 4 possibilities for what occurred because he knows the character of the afflicted...he is Columbo...behavioral patterns are most important to him. While Janet Leigh's character could possibly be doing many other things Columbo knows she isn't because she is a creature of Modus Operandi. This leads him to have to make decisions that really disturb him.

It's really a beautiful story about tough decisions people face with older loved frames framed as a Columbo episode. A modified version of Sunset Boulevard is the vehicle used to achieve the script construct...and the cast and crew obviously bought into it for they do an excellent job.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Championing the Little Guy, 12 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Everyone raves about how great The Bicycle Thief is. Is it as great as everyone says it is? I cannot say. While I can recognize the power of the film and find the construction and filming to be excellent the movie drove me up the wall.

Yes, Ricci is the post war Italian "common man." Yes, Ricci is ground down by the events that occur and he struggles with his relationship with his well as his lower class place in society.

Out of all the reviews, though, the thing that gets me is that Ricci is an idiot...and we are championing an idiot. Sure Ricci has his bicycle stolen...right from under his own eyes in a place where thievery is common. He should have been paying attention better. yet no one mentions this aspect in all the reviews.

Then, there are bicycles all around Ricci. Ricci has a job if he has a bicycle...yet he has made it this far in life that there is no one Ricci can "cut a deal" with to get a bicycle to use?

It seems to me that every step of the way Ricci does something more stupid in life. Ricci is part of the lower caste because he is an idiot who didn't learn.

Reviewers seem to be in love with romantic tragic presentation of the poor hard luck people...although some perceptive types do note that the true story is the story of the father\son relationship. But I fail to see anyone noting that Ricci is in his desperate straits because of actions\decisions that he, Ricci, took by himself.

For most people in life the dividing line between success and failure are the decisions that we make...and learning from our failures. Ricci never learned.

If you love weepy emotional stories of the poor downtrodden then this is one of the paragons of cinema for you. For this reviewer the one time viewing was enough. If I want to see a bicycle stolen I'd rather see Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Panache to the max, 10 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

My prior experience with Cyrano De Bergerac was a knowledge that Cyrano was the big nosed guy who set someone else up to love Roxanne. That and that the real Cyrano wrote arguably the earliest science fiction with a story of Moon Travel where people had books for earrings.

I found this film to be fabulous. Jose Farrar certainly had a wonderful understanding of the character he was portraying. True or not to the original story...this film is fabulous. I did not find my mind wandering during the viewing. The dialog of Cyrano is magnificent as well as the portrayals of those characters not so gifted with words as Cyrano. It's pretty hard to properly play a buffoon.

If you can stand older style movies that have love as a concept of thought rather than hormones and romcom silliness then I highly recommend this presentation of Cyrano. I don't think you will be disappointed

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