Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Fantastic Journey (1977)
Land of the Lost for adults
Only my memory is that Land of the Lost was better. Better written and in this game of course that means better ideas as this is an idea medium--science fiction.
A good cast couldn't really save a show limited by budget and by not so great writing and directing.
I was sad when it was canceled as I routed for the show to get better, but in truth it never took off creatively, or was given much of a chance to.
McDowell was sort of LOST IN SPACE, Dr. Smith character only not, thankfully, played for laughs. Nonetheless Dr. Smith became a pop culture figure.
Of course this show had more potential than Fantasy Island--sort of a non romantic, or schmaltz, version of that concept--and somehow again that show took off in the ratings and this barely had a run.
The title has little to do with a pretty good TV thriller
Yes it's true there really isn't any strange and deadly occurrence in the film--though you could argue there are several. You could also say that not much really happens in the film--despite these, I feel, truths about this still obscure movie, it's worth watching.
I saw it as an adult in a poor copy that still couldn't ruin the film. Much credit to the director and to a set up that feels like the Manson family is about to attack at any moment--but don't expect that kind of pay off as there is more dread than actual action in the film. Shows what a good cast and director can do--at least back then. Robert Stack is especially good. And the late appearance of Deliverance crazy McKinney makes the ending much more satisfying than it should be. One of the great creepo character actors at the top of his form.
Today this would be made for LIFETIME in a lifeless way. And if they did, they would cut the "headless" scene that is the horror highlight of a movie that isn't really a horror film. I suppose if you saw this as a kid you'd say it was the headless movie though that is one isolated scene with little or nothing to do with the rest of the film.
No the film is not in the same league and the great scary 70's TV movies, but it's way above par for what passes as TV thrillers currently.
Sandor Stern as one of the writers is a plus as well. This just shows what talent and craft can do with a very limited story concept.
The Resident (2011)
A dud, with miscast Morgan underused Lee
This thin story goes nowhere other films haven't gone before with more excitement and meaning or at least shocks. The moody first 20 minutes quickly turn into a slog after a "twist" that any brief description of the film will spoil before you watch it anyway.
Like all of Hammer films recent (rebirth films--and much of their overall output and reputation) this is handsomely made film. Though most of it takes place on New Mexico shot interior sets it all looks seamlessly like NYC and features good real NYC exterior scenes. But so what? Jeffrey Dean Morgan proves that he has limits to what he can do here. I like the guy as a performer and he usually makes anything he is in better than it was before he arrived. Take the way he helped the second season of EXTANT TV series for example. But his acting isn't up to what's required here and his general vibe is all wrong. He is totally miscast here and can't overcome that. He seems too natural confident and relaxed to be the psychopathic obsessive loner we are supposed to believe him to be. The more they put him in situations that are to show how creepy his is the more the problem becomes and the situations become borderline silly.
Swank is equally miscast really, not being willing to do any nudity--which a film that partly is supposed to be about sexuality its repression and obsession--requires, and she never seems emotionally or physically vulnerable. Her talking about being exhausted or repressed just seems like dialogue, not reflected in how she looks or acts.
Why she'd be interested in being in a film like this is a bit of a puzzle. Being the center of almost every shot and probably being the largest single dollar amount in the budget would be appealing, sure.
The whole thing finally turns into protracted and not well done slasher chase scene inside the apartment's confined inner recesses.
Though the same director went on to do PURGE--leading to a successful theatrical run of movies--he does little here to show he has much interest in the genre. Only the classy production values separate this from a Lifetime movie and the fact that it barely got released is no surprise. This would be a not--too--good episode of Hammer's own previous television series in the 80's and it's just not, as made, a feature or worth feature length.
Music score is useless adds nothing to the characters or supposed scares. Mostly the middle hour of the film is dull and predictable.
Christopher Lee plays a part like his friend Peter Cushing did or might have were he still alive. That part is the old man. Really that's it, that's his role. He seems a little threatening....once.
Lee plays it with a vacant, almost lost, old man look--that is not how he, himself looked at the time--so it is a performance and his final scene is well done physically--as Lee was always among other things a physical actor--even in a role here that requires mostly no movement. But having him in the movie and doing as little as they do here shows another level of script and directing disinterest. Especially to have him "return" to Hammer to make a film they basically do as little as possible with him. Still fans will see the potential the filmmakers didn't.
The whole thing hardly seems worth the trouble of being made or watched.
Twelve Hours to Kill (1960)
Strangely happy lead character, still worth watching
This isn't a bad film, though it would be better if seen in the original widescreen aspect ratio and with a better lead character. Many of the credits are all good B pros doing B plus work and with some future TV stars playing against what would their type later on. Gavin Mcloud does especially well as a bad guy. Paul Dunlop's score is sparse but interesting, piano and vibes during a final chase scene that keeps things noir-ish.
Of course this is an A studio B film and so thing won't get too dark or unusual--that's the big studio's imposed rule. If this had been done by an outsider B studio they would have wanted it to be darker and tougher--both of which the story begs for. Then again the studio brings more of a polish especially in terms of the acting from the supporting parts.
Cahn's direction keeps things moving and professional, there isn't time for much coverage but DP and director come up with a few but significant moments when they get the chance.
It may seem kind of by the numbers but there is a nice, who is the bad guy behind the whole thing, scene at the end.
Ted Knight shows up playing a slovenly desk cop--seemingly warming up with his similar role in Psycho.
But what sucks some life out of the film is the lead. Is it that the actor wants to look charming or sexy all the time, or was it written or directed that way--or a combo of all three? Here's the problem despite the danger the lead Greek Immigrant character faces he seems to always be ready to burst into a wide smile and flirt with a girl he just met--though with it being Barbara Eden at least that part makes sense. It's as if the character is supposed to be so amazed by being in America he doesn't understand that getting shot here is just as deadly as back in the old country. I'd tend to blame the lead actor, but it's almost a slightly racist view of the "innocent" foreigner in America for the first time.
The movie threatens to turn into dopey fish out of water sexless romance, after the set up witness-to-murder-scene. There is a goofy scene with a dog named Dracula for example.
But then things improve steadily, leading to a simple but well done chase and fight scene at night that seems to involve some very good day for night B and W photography and a few real nighttime exteriors.
There is a hostage segment where all the best elements are working at the same time. Eden and Mcloud doing good work and a nice dolly shot and expressive angles--subtle but effective...
Low budget elements are kept under control, though there is a seemingly deserted neighborhood filled with middle class houses--none of which seem to notice a noisy shoot out that begs the question--really no one would call the police?!? This is probably the real problem with the movie because if the lead character in danger for his life seems to be more amused than confused and afraid....
Atração Satânica (1989)
the confusion is the fun, offbeat movie
The acting is pretty bad and made worse by dubbing but in the slasher genre this should hardly matter.
There is almost always someone about the be killed in a bizarre way and supernatural overtones. The basic story is a radio hostess who is making up some multi part horror story for her radio show and the things she describes are really happening.
There is something about twins and a cult--this is not a spoiler as even after watching the movie it's kind of hard to tell someone or know yourself exactly what was going on. But this is not all unintentional there is some kind of a myth behind the events and a certain myth logic to what happens. Sort of. In many myths there isn't a clear reason or ultimate sense to them as they are beyond mankind's ability to understand them. If any of this makes sense to you then the movie will make enough sense to hold you interest and be worth watching.
It's good to know that going in as the just 20 minutes or so seem completely plot less otherwise. There is a lot of gore some better done than others but the film is rarely dull, and there are some odd supernatural elements and masks that give it flavor. More ambitious then successful? Maybe. I admit any slasher type film with supernatural elements are ones I prefer so I have a soft spot for this movie. It is more giallo and supernatural than slasher if that means anything to you. Another saving grace this film has is even though some of the killing scenes aren't very well done they are always odd and sometimes unintentionally funny.
Hard to find this movie and good quality versions probably even harder to find, but for something different in the genre give it a look. Oh the title seems to have almost nothing to do with the movie.
Until They Sail (1957)
Unusual good film, but know what you are getting into
The film seems quite mature in many ways, it avoids showing anything of the war itself--instead keeping us in the "seats" so to speak of the women left behind, who can only learn about the war on the radio and who chart it on a map on the wall with pins for their husbands.
The film opens like a courtroom movie--it's not. It's also not really Paul Newman's film, he is off screen for a good part of the movie. It's the sisters story and principally Jean Simmons who is very good in the film as is Newman and both of them together have chemistry, once that finally happens.
Director Wise has a smooth style moving camera style here that keeps things moving and to see a film about women cheating on their wartime husbands with foreign soldiers is still unusual--as the woman aren't demonized. The romantic and human elements ring true and the film seems like it was made more recently than it was. The photography is beautiful in 2:35 as well.
The only real soap opera element to the way the film is handled is in a really poor dated music score, especially the cheesy opening song and that theme that plays repeatedly during the film. Every time the score kicks in the film almost sinks, but never does, to the level of romance melodrama. The studio may have demanded a song, but regardless it kicks off the film on the wrong foot. Luckily the score does stop and is not wall to wall or it would do more damage.
The U.S. service men are not portrayed as unrealistic heroes either--again keeping with the viewpoint of the towns people being forced to house the friendly temporary invaders and deal with their crude foreign customs. And it's interesting to see Newman's character who has the job of trying to control what happens between the love and sex starved men and woman they may want to marry.
Only other real weakness is in the scene that finally brings us back to the trial that opened the film. The scene kind of comes out of nowhere and really should be longer to be totally convincing and as harrowing as it could be.
And yes this is a Hollywood movie so there aren't authentic accents and mostly there are no accents which is better than a bunch of studio trained actors "doing" accents. In fact though good location footage was shot the bulk of it was shot on the back lot at 20th Century fox. The two blend seamlessly.
Madison Avenue (1961)
more romance than ad world melodrama
The movie would be pretty much the same if the profession they were in was totally different. The log line synopsis here and on TV makes it sound more like a political process or advertising and politics movie which sounds more unusual and interesting. The pacing is decent the script by famous N. Corwin is not very good when it comes to the romance elements though the small sections about the ad world are more interesting. The direction is not too good and the use of the widescreen format is pretty poor with lots of pointless empty space around the actors. The cast does better than could be expected, or in other words a good cast makes the most of limited material. Music score is sparse and kind of sappy. The whole movie feels like it never really is about anything urgent on a human or a political level. Like a potentially interesting look about how advertisers can make a man out of a molehill stuck in a 50 TV melodrama formula. One foot into the 1960s but most of the body back a decade or so. I have no problem with the now improper office attitude about women, that seems to be part of the limited point the movie has to make.
No Way Out (1950)
Great, then good, goes off the rails at the end
Great film nourish photography and grim world view in this film. All the performances are fine. Sparse music score is very effective and uses some tunes on a radio to good effect too. Approach to racial issues and poverty still seem true today in a realistic not preachy way. This is more film noir than political in nature--a major plus.
Darnel is a stand out. The situation is interesting. Racial elements still spark heat even today or maybe even more heat as the politically correct 21st century wouldn't let the racism be as raw as it is here.
My only complaint is a plot contrivance towards the end and then Widmark struggling with an over the top (writing wise) psycho coward villain ending that probably seemed a little fresher back then. It's not the actor's fault it's the concept and writing that just don't work.
It's kind of like they wanted a "thriller" ending and the film would have done better with a more personal or internal conflict than the melodramatic way it goes. Also I see from the trivia section that the studio forced a change to the ending and this hurts as well.
Too bad as it almost spoils a grade A movie. Still a film that deserves to be better known today, even if it stumbles in the final lap.
The Big Short (2015)
Famous writer director, Bill Wilder said if you are telling a complicated story you have to tell it in a simple way. He was right. This film wants to be funny and savvy and meaningful those are all great goals but it doesn't really achieve them. The story telling is as spastic as the camera-work is jerky, and the more it tries to make the back room dealings of corrupt banks make sense the less it does.
Another key thing is that our main characters goals are to profit from the impending doom of the economy and though a few moments are supposed to make us care about them we really don't. They still come off as amoral socially odd business men out to make bank so why do we care? We don't.
The attempts at hip comedy fail and are distracting--characters suddenly talking to the camera--directly to the audience, celebrity cameos trying to explain what's going on. These are just distractions. I guess they wanted an almost Michael Moore type vibe but in a more fictional type presentation. It's especially frantic on the big screen almost headache inducing during some of the 20 sec flash cut montage scenes that keep popping up.
It's great the director wanted to go for a "real" movie, that he doesn't succeed is too bad. A for effort as they say does not mean he gets an A.
Contamination .7 (1993)
the real scoop on this loser
The movie is bad on its own, regardless of it being passed off as a sequel to other bad Troll movies. It has an odd feel because though it looks to be actually shot in pretty good United States Locations it is directed by an Italian or Italians and so the way English is spoken sounds foreign and the actors are, sorry to say, really bad. Unlike many of these Italian productions they didn't spend or didn't have money to drag any American name actors into the movie leaving us with what seems like a totally amateur cast.
This can be seen now under its original title and in HD on cable and that may be a hate crime against those who watch it but at least it's not pretended to be something it's not.
The "monster" in the movie is a bunch of not very convincing tree roots that actor struggle to pretend to fight with--usually to pretty unconvincing results. It tries a sort of Psycho plot set up which has a lousy and bloodless pay off. The gal in this segment is sort of appealing and very attractive in somewhat skimpy clothing--but don't expect any nudity from her. Most of the deaths are bloodless=cheaply done. Also the movie has no nudity and no style and not much sense.
There is some decent helicopter footage of actual wilderness and towards the end some nice bulldozers at night "attacking" the monster roots--though this sequence also features a funny Tonka Toy miniature that ruins that scene. Also the movie features a toy helicopter explosion.
A poorly made film that is barely pro level production, the acting and casting is really bad and so there is nothing to keep you going between badly done very stiff tentacle tree root attack scenes that come pretty few and far between.
I kind of enjoyed the freeze frame ending. Easily one of the most poorly made films of its era. Has some high=low lights but is for the most part a slow ride of filler material of family drama etc.
Music score is cheesy and dated and would have sounded just as cheesy and dated when the movie was new. There is one memorable scene between angry town people and evil corporate exec that almost makes this a must see for bad movie fans. The only person who should not feel bad about being involved in this movie is whoever was the location scout.