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Birthdate: September 25
I bid you...velcome.
I'm a shameless movie fanatic who especially favours the following genres:
Favourite directors include:
George A. Romero
The Reptile (1966)
Especially good Hammer horror.
This effective chiller from the legendary Hammer Studios stars Ray Barrett and Jennifer Daniel as Harry and Valerie Spalding, who have come to a remote Cornish community to claim a cottage left to Ray by his recently deceased brother Charles (David Baron). We see Charles come to his bad end in the pre-credits prologue; he is attacked in a nearby home by a mysterious beast. The neighbor who owns this home, Dr. Franklyn (Noel Willman) obviously knows a lot about what's going on, but decides to be cagey around people like the Spaldings. Meanwhile, most nearby villagers give Harry the cold shoulder, and it's up to friendly barman Tom Bailey (Michael Ripper) to help Harry solve this bizarre problem.
It's best not to get a look at the title creature before going in. The pretty good makeup effects are by Hammers' talented makeup artist Roy Ashton, and the monster does get a nice proper introduction in a well orchestrated jump scare a little past the hour mark. The atmosphere and period recreation are as meticulously executed as they've ever been in a Hammer film, and director John Gilling, working from an engaging script by Anthony Hinds, gives us two fairly potent major suspense sequences. In one interesting touch, Hinds saves the back story / key exposition for a moment very near the end. Until then, the film is more of a mystery, and you don't know quite why all of this is happening.
One key to the success of "The Reptile" is that the characters do elicit our sympathies. Barrett and Daniel are a personable main couple. Willman is great, coming off as an aloof, cold blooded jerk at first, but we warm up to him more - and feel for him - as the story progresses. Jacqueline Pearce is endearing as the doctors' daughter. Hammer utility player Ripper is wonderful in one of his more substantial roles for them. John Laurie and Marne Maitland also provide excellent support.
Hammer filmed this back to back with "The Plague of the Zombies", which reuses a number of the same sets.
Eight out of 10.
Saam gaang yi (2004)
"Extreme" is the right word for this, all right.
"3 Extremes" is a remarkable three part horror anthology, showcasing a trio of East Asias' top filmmakers. Takashi Miike represents Japan, Chan-wook Park represents Korea, and Fruit Chan represents Hong Kong. They each put their individualistic stamp on stories of human perversity and insanity, and they each create some powerful visuals and moments. The characters are never less than interesting, and the performances cannot be faulted. At over two hours in length, this may be too slowly paced for some tastes, but horror fans will still be satisfied with some genuinely disturbing and gory set pieces.
Fruit Chan delivers the first segment: "Dumplings", in which a strange young woman named Mei supplies aging former actress Ms. Li with some savory delicacies that could be just the thing to give her ego and sex appeal a boost.
Chan-wook Park comes up with a real doozy with "Cut". The story tells of a film director, held hostage in his own home by a deranged extra, who forces the filmmaker to indulge in some horrific tests of morality.
And finally, Takashi Miike gives us "Box", a tale of sisterly devotion and an Asian ghost story with some of the most beautiful imagery in the entire film.
It would be better for this viewer to not spill too many details, but the good thing about the writing is that it isn't overly predictable, and you're kept on your toes and engaged the entire time. "Cut" was definitely this viewers' personal favorite, as it features some ingenious nastiness and tour de force performances.
Striking entertainment that does stick with you after it's over.
Eight out of 10.
Alien Hunter (2003)
I agree with others here: not as bad as it could have been.
Ever reliable James Spader plays a professor named Julian Rome, dubbed an "alien hunter" because he used to work for S.E.T.I. He gets called in when a mysterious alien "black box" is discovered in the Antarctic. Some of his colleagues are eager to open this thing, and naturally when this thing - which could also be called a Pandora's box - is touched, it sets off unforeseen circumstances. Circumstances which could be dire for the whole planet. Meanwhile, a bunch of political bigwigs in Washington are meeting to discuss the implications of the matter, and the possible end result.
At the risk of sounding unoriginal, this reviewer will say that what hurts "Alien Hunter" the most is its derivative nature. It plays like an amalgam of ideas borrowed from "Alien", John Carpenters' "The Thing", "Warning Sign", and even "The Abyss". It also succumbs to an unfortunate common cliché in having a Complainer character in the form of a scientist played by Irish actor John Lynch. This guy does so much bellyaching that one prays for him to be dealt with expeditiously. You know if the character doesn't become a menace himself, he'll at least be a major nuisance. The screenplay by J.S. Cardone (based on a story he concocted with Boaz Davidson) is uninspired (and, for a while, threatens to choke on its "science fact" style exposition), but director Ron Krauss (who also appears on screen) and his crew are competent enough to make this a passable viewing. The production design and cinematography are well done and atmospheric, and the music by Tim Jones is quite nice.
Other than Spader, the rest of the acting is basically decent. Co-stars include Janine Eser, Leslie Stefanson ("The General's Daughter"), Aimee Graham ("Jackie Brown"), Stuart Charno ("Friday the 13th Part 2"), Anthony Crivello ("Spellbinder"), Roy Dotrice ('Beauty and the Beast', "Mozart"), Joel Polis ("The Thing" '82), Keir Dullea ("Black Christmas" '74, "2001: A Space Odyssey"), and Bert Emmett ("The Forsaken" '01). It is nice to see a bunch of these familiar faces here.
Worth it for fans of "The Thing" to see the Norwegian video footage from that film, used here in a somewhat different context. What also makes this a little above average is that ending; while somewhat predictable, it is an interesting touch. (One has to dig those trippy visuals.)
Six out of 10.
"I love you, Larry, but I'm not going to die for you."
B cinema filmmaker Jim Wynorski gives his faithful audience all the sex and nudity they could want in this moderately amusing movie. The plot is pretty nonsensical, but since it's serving to set up a bunch of genuinely titillating sex scenes, it's doubtful that there are going to be many complaints on that front. Larry Poindexter plays a lawyer named Larry Barnes, whose wife Erica (Julie Strain) is a witch. She uses her powers to try to secure a critical promotion for her husband, but instead of killing his competitor, Howard (Edward Albert), she manages to cripple him. This sets off Howards' wife Amelia (Linda Blair), who is herself in tune with the occult. Predictably, she puts into motion a plan of revenge.
Wynorski puts a great deal of his efforts into stressing the erotic elements rather than traditional horror elements. (A note to the unaware: this isn't really a horror film at all, but an erotic thriller.) Technically speaking, it has to be one of the most accomplished things that Wynorski ever did; the filmmaking is pretty slick. Photography and picture quality are sublime, helping to show off every asset in the bodies of our attractive female cast. To that end, Wynorski deserves some respect for just diving in head first, giving us an eyeful of Strains' anatomy in the very first scene.
The acting is tolerable from most concerned. Michael Parks is a little under utilized as a gardener / murder suspect. Wynorski regular Lenny Juliano regularly walks away with his scenes as Larry's outgoing colleague. It's a treat to see William 'Blacula' Marshall as the senior partner at the firm. And Albert really is quite good. Fans of B movie babes will be pleased with the roster here: Strain, Rochelle Swanson, Toni Naples, Antonia Dorian, Kristi Ducati, Melissa Brasselle. Wynorskis' peer Fred Olen Ray produced, and plays the role of Bill Carson.
The movie does accomplish what it sets out to do, but it's really hurt by an aggravating, incredibly clichéd ending.
Seven out of 10.
Pretty undistinguished for something bearing the Craven name.
Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg are siblings Ellie and Jimmy. She's a producer for Craig Kilborns' talk show, he's a high school student. One night, after a nasty traffic accident on Mulholland Drive, they witness one of the other victims being mauled by something that just might be a werewolf. When they too get bitten, it eventually becomes clear that they *have* changed, and not for the better. They then have to spend the rest of their time figuring out how to break the "curse" and return to being normal humans again.
For a production that was pretty troubled, I guess it's a miracle that it's passably entertaining to any degree. Wes Cravens' direction is energetic, but Kevin Williamson this time writes a script that is largely uninspired. Hell, he leaves precious few clichés unused (we've got a macho, bullying jock, a bitchy co-worker, etc.). Williamson is too patently predictable with his revelations about who's a werewolf and who's not, but then utilizing a mystery quotient may never have been a top priority. Eisenberg and a gorgeous Ricci do what they can, but it's hard to really care about these characters. The movie also ended up already dated by the time it finally got released, because Kilborns' show was defunct by that point. And WAY too much screen time is devoted to prepping an interview with, of all people, Scott Baio. Both Rick Baker and the KNB are credited with effects work, and while some designs and gore are decent, the CGI monster is extremely laughable.
The formula for these modern fright flicks was definitely wearing thin by this point, with the "hot, hip" soundtrack, and the "hot young cast" can't bring any gravitas to this material at all.
Among the familiar faces: Portia de Rossi, Mya, Shannon Elizabeth, Milo Ventimiglia, Joshua Jackson, Nick Offerman, Judy Greer, and Michelle Krusiec. Derek Mears plays the werewolf; Michael Rosenbaum appears unbilled as Kyle.
If this *is* supposed to be a parody, it still doesn't work because it's just not that funny (not when it's supposed to be, anyway).
Five out of 10.
Leprechaun 3 (1995)
"Now that's what I call managed health care."
The third entry in this inexplicably successful series has a change of setting going for it. It places our rhyming, sadistic, cheerful little imp deep in Sin City, where he is restored to life once again and creates havoc for various denizens of the city. Scott (John Gatins, future Academy Award nominee for his screenplay for "Flight") is a naive young man who blows the entire nest egg (earmarked for college) that his parents had provided for him. He must eventually do battle with his little nemesis, even after something unexpected starts happening to him.
This movie is one of those cases where it's more entertaining than it probably had any right to be. Give credit to cult filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith ("Turkey Shoot", "Dead-End Drive- In") and screenwriter David DuBos for milking the Las Vegas setting, and the idea of this greedy villain taking center stage, for all that it's worth. It does manage to be fairly amusing at times. The rhyming routines by Mr. Lep can be groan inducing while still making a viewer chuckle. The makeup effects by Gabe Bartalos are pretty good, especially when a character expands to the point of absurdity and blows up, a la "Big Trouble in Little China".
The actors are effective, selling the Hell out of this material as much as they can. Warwick Davis is just so much damn fun as the Irish fairy with much more tricks up his sleeve than decidedly lame "magician" Fazio (John DeMita). Gatins and his extremely sexy leading lady Lee Armstrong are very appealing, Michael Callan is amusing as a slimy casino boss, and it's always a pleasure to watch the lovely Caroline Williams (playing a casino employee) in anything. Rod McCary appears uncredited as "Father Bob", a character name he also had in "Night of the Demons 2".
A fun horror comedy, albeit one that most people are likely going to consider a guilty pleasure. Still, it's stupid and it knows it, and it's a little too hard to resist.
Six out of 10.
"Does it take brains to be a fireman?"
Two beautiful women are murdered in fairly quick succession inside an opulent high rise apartment building. Then, at some point, two more extremely desirable ladies, models named Jennifer (giallo goddess Edwige Fenech) and her goofy friend Marilyn (Paola Quattrini) move into the apartment of one of the dead women. There is no shortage of suspects from which to choose; falling under suspicion are studly architect Andrea Barto (George Hilton) and Jennifers' psycho ex-husband Adam (Ben Carra), a leader of a group sex cult, to name just two people. Working his way through the clues and the corpses is an amusing police commissioner named Enci (Giampiero Albertini).
There isn't much about "The Case of the Bloody Iris" that makes it stand out in any way, save for some effective camera angles (shooting straight up or straight down inside a very tall stairwell). It's pretty standard for the genre, but it should still entertain its devotees, with the usual focus on sleaze, and the physical assets of our attractive female cast. The gore is decently done, as well. The widescreen photography by Stelvio Massi (lighting) and Michele Pensato (operator) doesn't hurt in the slightest. Bruno Nicolai contributes some very nice music. The fun, sometimes comical, script by genre specialist Ernesto Gastaldi may be one of the drawbacks; this viewer always feels that if *he* is able to predict plot twists, including the ultimate identity of the killer, then most people should be able to. It's just a shade too easy to guess.
The cast is fine. Fenech is just so ravishing from role to role, and is easy to watch. Hilton creates a reasonably engaging leading man. Franco Agostini supplies comedy relief as the assistant commissioner who becomes bored with his surveillance duties. He, Albertini, Annabella Incontrera, Carra, Carla Brait, and George Rigaud comprise a solid bunch of actors and actresses.
It may not be inspired, but it's a worthy viewing for fans of this genre.
Seven out of 10.
Jack the Ripper (1976)
"Scotland Yard has hooked a shark this time."
This version of the oft-filmed story doesn't bother to hide who The Ripper is. By day, he is the kindly and well liked doctor Dennis Orloff (the one-of-a-kind, well cast Klaus Kinski). By night, he gives in to his homicidal and kinky impulses and becomes The Ripper. Scotland Yard is represented by the dedicated Inspector Selby (played by the stone faced Andreas Mannkopff), who relies on the testimony of witnesses who happen to encounter Dennis / Jack one way or another.
"Jack the Ripper" '76 is far and away one of director Jess Franco's best, in this viewers' humble opinion. Fans of his ultra trashy output need not worry, for the degree of sleaze is kept at a respectable level (there's nudity aplenty), but Franco does *not* just focus on sex and perversions here. A reasonable attempt is made at good atmosphere and good period detail; this benefits from some solid production value. Franco, who also wrote the screenplay, creates a compelling and sober depiction of one mans' severe psycho-sexual hang-ups. Things do get quite violent - one victim is chopped up repeatedly, Herschell Gordon Lewis style. And the English dialogue does include some effective and literate lines.
Franco gets superb performances out of his cast. His longtime muse, the sensual Lina Romay, appears as one of the victims. Josephine Chaplin, one of Charlie C.'s daughters, has the leading lady role. Herbert Fux is great fun as Charlie the fisherman, who hooks something unpleasant at one point. Hans Gaugler is excellent as Mr. Bridger, the old blind man who makes up in smarts - as well as knowledge of unique smells - what he lacks in visual ability. Olga Gebhard is good as the landlady Mrs. Baxter, who's touching when her efforts to reach out to her aloof tenant don't pay off. But Kinski rightfully commands most of ones' attention, as he was always able to do. He sure can play crazy well, but here he gets to show other facets to what might have been a one-dimensional psychopath character otherwise.
In terms of end results, this may be one of the most accomplished things that Franco ever did, with a striking surreal hallucination sequence rating as a standout.
Seven out of 10.
You don't know Jack-O.
Amateurish, awkward modern slasher is not completely without its amusements, at least for die hard - and I do mean DIE HARD - B cinema completists. It's dull too much of the time, and the acting is by and large pretty dodgy. But considering just how minuscule the budget apparently was on this flick, it's to the credit of director Steve Latshaw and company that they pull off a movie that is at all coherent or enjoyable in the first place. The look of our evil pumpkin headed monster is decent, but the character obviously has not become an icon of the season.
A wizard played by John Carradine was put to death ages ago, and he placed a curse (but don't they all?) on his persecutors and their descendants. In the 1990s, the average suburban family the Kellys must do battle with the infernal demon of the title, conjured up by the wizard once upon a time.
The script by Patrick Moran is based on a story by Brad Linaweaver and Latshaws' contemporary Fred Olen Ray; Moran also plays Jack-O. It's on the lame side, all in all, with not much in it that's memorable in any way - save, perhaps, for the conservative couple the Watsons who watch a Rush Limbaugh parody character on TV. The gore isn't too bad, and Latshaw makes a good stab, if you'll pardon the expression, at generating some atmosphere.
But the characters are pretty inane. At least Carradine and his fellow veteran Cameron Mitchell (as a TV horror host) don't have to embarrass themselves too much; their roles are really just cameos, and the same goes for scream queen Brinke Stevens and *her* peer Dawn Wildsmith. Still, it's hard to completely knock any movie that gives Linnea Quigley the starring role, as she plays a surly, unlikely babysitter. Ryan Latshaw, who has the pivotal role of young Sean Kelly, is the son of the director.
Sadly, this was the final film for Mitchell. "Jack-O" didn't get a release until over a year after he had died.
It is a fun movie, but in spurts only.
Five out of 10.
Behind the dynamic title of this Sergio Martino giallo is an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poes' 'The Black Cat', albeit a rather loose one for a while. Luigi Pistilli ("A Bay of Blood") plays Oliviero, a washed up author living on a villa with his very put upon and frazzled wife Irina (Anita Strindberg). Irinas' neuroses soon manifest themselves in her antagonistic relationship with Olivieros' black cat (amusingly named Satan), while assorted characters occasionally get murdered on or around the premises. Complicating matters is the arrival of Olivieros' sultry niece Floriana (genre star Edwige Fenech).
Martinos' film does go on longer than it needs to, with a subplot about Florianas' romance with a delivery man / motorbike racer not really adding anything to the story. It might disappoint viewers hoping for more sleaze, or a higher body count, or more flamboyant stylistics. It actually functions more as a character study and portrait of a descent into debauchery (for Oliviero) and madness (for Irina). This domestic drama is interesting stuff, with some pointed dialogue, but the film is never more fun than when it's giving in to the more exploitative tendencies of the genre. To that end, viewers will be satisfied with some lesbian sex and nudity, and some pretty good (but never overdone) gore. Bruno Nicolai composed the wonderful music score, and this benefits further from the location shooting and photography. (Those opening credits are particularly well done.) This definitely hits its stride once Fenech shows up, and the story more closely follows the classic Poe tale.
The acting is solid from all concerned (Ivan Rassimov plays a mystery man named Walter, Franco Nebbia the standard police inspector character you always get in this sort of entertainment), with special mention going out to Ms. Strindberg. You do feel pretty bad for this lady given the treatment that she must put up with. Fenech is at her absolute sexiest.
Enjoyable for fans of the genre.
Seven out of 10.