Reviews written by registered user
|237 reviews in total|
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.
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
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....
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is surprisingly well made. The direction features quite a bit of
camera movement for a quickie, the photography boasts some moody
shadows and interesting wide angle lens effects, the swamp graveyard
set is cool, and above all it's well acted--with Moreland doing his
thing but the rest of the cast giving their all. And the music score is
also well done not too much music either--not the wall to wall stock
music approach in this film.
There is a lab/montage scene that is pretty elaborate and well done. There is another nice tidy montage to show time passing at a dinner party which has a funny pay off line and the last shot has an unusual pay off as well.
Carradine fans will enjoy his bug eyed entrance into the film but for the most part he plays it pretty straight/sober and he has a kind of memorable exit from the film--not to give it away.
The intentions I guess are mainly comic though it's not all that funny you almost wish they had just gone for serious horror yet it isn't campy for the most part and it's an all professional job.
The script holds it back from becoming above average though it is above average in all departments for this low budget genre of the era. Even the sets though not memorable don't look impoverished and the lab has quite a bit of gear in it.
The direction really impressed me with always making the most out of every situation--within the restricted scale of the movie.
One interesting thing, and you know this right away, is Nazi scientist Carradine kills and zombifies his wife, she does occasionally speak and they do a kind of interesting hollow sound to her voice. I think this film may be the first of the Nazi dead army plot movies tough it's certainly not the best one.
All said and done on a script level you pretty much get what you'd expect which isn't much but the movie almost won me over and fans of this era of genre films could do a lot better but you could do a lot worse as well.
The style seems like a slow build to terror, but by the middle it's
just slow. I don't fault the actors but the directors and writers this
is a one note movie. There is virtually no music only for the opening
and then for only half of the end credits, fade to blacks, lots of
what's intended to be portentous silence, and lingering shots on empty
rooms, and then a kind of silly leaps of logic to turn the film into
torture porn. Very little happens most of the time and the initial
tension becomes predictable tedium.
There are some nice silent bonding scenes of the two brothers always sitting right up against each other, but the boys as characters remain pretty stoic.
There is gore, finally, but no real drama. And the episode with the Red Cross workers makes no sense at all.
The film is mainly from the point of view of the two kids wondering if this is their mother or not, but the film cheats especially with an sequence leftover from Jacob's Ladder.
Big horror movie convention revolves around a cat suddenly becoming part of the movie, and the idea that in a sterile house the kids would be allowed to have a collection of huge South American cock roaches???!!! Stuff like this lets you know you are in young unsteady hands as far as the filmmakers are concerned--despite the promise of forbidden foreign horrors.
Some pretty well done use of limited computer/digital effects and it's well shot but these assets cant overcome the first timer-ish pretentiously slow pace and for a film with what could be a jarring premise it doesn't explore much of the real heart of basic idea. Another thing is I think the film fails to grab you because when the story starts we are already in mid event so to speak, we don't see the kid's get estranged from mom they are already almost there.
A missed opportunity for a Cronenberg type film. And the film is so slowly paced and 20 minutes too long it's almost a total loss at points.
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