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Stalk the Wild Child (1976)
A Hit and Miss Film
Stalk the Wild Child tells the story of a feral child, found by two hunters at the age of eleven, who is removed from his wild home and canine family and placed under the care of civilized humans. David Janssen plays Dr. Hazard who goes against the law and begins treatment for the child he names Cal, with the help of speech therapist Maggie (well played by Trish Van Devere). When the government steps in and informs Dr. Hazard that Cal must be a ward of the state, he makes the rash decision to adopt the boy. With the help of Maggie, Dr. Hazard tries to re-acclimate Cal into civilized society.
This film makes many social statements with the methods of Dr. Hazard too overbearing and forceful and Maggie's methods too nurturing and careful. Who best raises a child, the film asks--man or woman? We watch as Cal ages into his teen years, learning to speak and interact with others, but his life revolves around his pseudo parents Maggie and Dr. Hazard until Dr. Hazard publishes his papers on how he saved a feral child. When Dr. Hazard goes public with his story, Cal comes to the realization, which isn't altogether false, that Dr. Hazard adopted him simply as a means to establish his legacy in his occupational field. Cal then sets out into the world and finds that humans are quick to take advantage of him.
There are many plot elements that go underdeveloped in this made-for-TV movie. One reviewer claimed that the wild dogs showed more compassion to Cal than the humans, which is false. We never see much interaction between Cal and his canine companions, thus negating the role of the dogs as nurturing entities. Trish Van Devere's Maggie certainly shows Cal a level of care he has never seen before, as he rewards her with gifts best given in the animal kingdom--such as a dead bird.
This is an okay time waster, but nothing worthy of repeated viewings, lest you be a fan of one of the stars. As a fan of Trish Van Devere, I was drawn to this film and when it first began, with narration from David Janssen, I imagined that Trish was able to talk her husband George C. Scott, the greatest actor that ever lived, to led his voice for the narrative, given the similarities between Scott and Janseen's gravelly speech.
The Steam Video Company (1984)
Fine Example of British Humor
The Steam Video Company was a British television series that aired during the mid 1980s with a solid cast of terrific character actors. Although not quite in the same league as "Monty Pyhton," I found this series to be funnier than John Cleese's "Fawlty Towers," which I also found to be quite pleasing. Although there are similarities to "Monty Python's Flying Circus," this series isn't a conventional sketch comedy, for there is an arch in every episode, ranging from a spoof on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to a clever espionage spoof titled "I Was Hitler's Bookie." This series lasted all of one season and ended with just six episodes of varying degrees of humor and entertainment. What could make this series more appealing to viewers than "Monty Python's Flying Circus" is that the cast was represented by both sexes. A bunch of gents comprised the cast of "Monty Python," while "Steam Video" boasts the talents of both Anna Dawson and Madeline Smith.
The acting and writing on Steam Video were both top notch. Franklyn is marvelous in his many roles, reciting a tale while soaking in a bubblebath, portraying Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, earning an Oscar at the beginning of the show but forced to relinquish it when he overacts. Anna Dawson is sharp as a burlesque queen singing the song "Underneath the Lamposts of Old Berlin" and playing a put-upon Irish waitress under the watchful eye of a French cook. Barry Cryer is first rate as an oddity promoter trying to get Franklyn to bankroll his findings, which he outperforms in his clever Groucho Marx portrayal. But for me, the real stars of this series were Bob Todd and Madeline Smith.
Bob Todd, a husky-voiced old character actor is donned in many costumes throughout the series, ranging from a humanoid spider with the desire to give Madeline a few squirts from his poison gland that rests between his legs to his Ho-Chi-Min Sisters skit with Maddy. Dressed up as a Geisha girl, Todd and Maddy perform on stage with each actor draping a handkerchief on their bosom. Bob Todd performs feat of magic with his false breasts that the busty Madeline Smith is unable to perform with her natural breasts.
The series isn't quite a non-stop laughfest, but it tries. Plays on words abound, which will keep those persons unimpressed by fart jokes entertained. The jokes do delve into the crude at times, but never too shocking. Franklyn hands Dawson a twelve-inch ruler as a measure of his affections, and with Madeline Smith in the cast, there is opportunity aplenty for breasts jokes, given the ampleness of her bust. The show is quite funny and although it lasted for one season, isn't too difficult to locate on the internet. Give it a watch--I'm certain you'll be entertained.
The Incredible Hulk: 747 (1978)
Banner Goes Green Twice
For viewers that want to see the Hulk rampage a bit, this isn't the episode for you. Bill Bixby turns into Lou Ferrigno just twice in 747. First he tangles with a pilot trying to dump him out of the plane in the snow-capped wilderness... which makes him angry, then he has to get angry in order to land the plane. The Hulk has little to do in this episode, with the exception of the show's final three minutes. 747 centers more on story than angering Dr. Banner.
A pilot and his sexy stewardess gal pal(Currie) plan to hijack a King Tut exhibit and hit it to South America. Unfortantely for them, Banner is on the flight and thwarts their plans. When Currie drugs the co-pilot and the Hulk knocks out the crooked pilot, there is no one left to fly the plane, which is suffering from a leak. A kid on board (Cruz) knows a thing or two about flying as Banner must land the craft with the kid and good girl stewardess Denise Galik looking over his shoulder. With the hydraulic leak, Banner doesn't have the strength to land the craft, so he shoos Cruz and Galik out of the cabin, goes green, and takes care of business.
Although this episode failed to employ the Hulk well, it was entertaining and kept you on the edge of your seat. The acting was quite well with Bixby shining as always and Currie doing an adequate job as the swayed-to-do-wrong stewardess. Cruz is okay as the bookish teen and the lovely Denise Galik is in fine form with her supporting role as the stewardess Banner can actually rely on. Although her stewardess skirt was quite hideous, Denise looked great in the mile high uniform.
Well made horror film
Howard Avedis, better known for directing sleazy erotic thrillers, tries his hand at horror and does a rather decent job. He gets plenty help from a capable cast (with a few notable exceptions) and screenwriter Marlene Schmidt, who appeared in a few of his earlier films. MORTUARY follows the life of tortured college girl Mary McDonough whose father was killed in an unfortunate accident. Mary seems to be the only person who thinks her old man was murdered and when her jockish bore of a boyfriend spots her mother at a seance, he feels Mary's mommy (Lynda Day George) may be a bit of a Satanist.
The film's title comes from the place where much of the shady doings and bumps in the night occur--the local mortuary. Lynda Day George attends seances there because the head of her cult is Christopher George, the mortuary manager. He is grooming his son, Bill Paxton, who has more than a schoolboy crush on Mary, to take over the family business. The boy seems too preoccupied with chasing Mary around and embalming hot blonds than taking his job seriously. Thngs begin to stir up when a cloaked figure begins chasing Mary around. Mary thinks her father's killer is coming to finish off the family.
STORY: $$$ (Marlene Schmidt pens a slightly better than average script here. There are some plot turns and some nifty devices but nothing too influential. One of the main questions the script puts forth is what Lynda is doing at these bizarre cloaked rituals. Is she trying to communicate with the dead or is she Satan's slave? Marlene's script could have played with Lynda's cult a little more to add to the suspense, but the suspense really wasn't lacking. This was a rather good screenplay--B-Rate horror standards).
ACTING: $$$ (The acting is pretty good all the way around, with the notable exception of the blond jock that played Mary McDonough's boyfriend. The guy wasn't convincing and seemed clueless as to what to do on screen when he didn't have any lines. It's no shock that I haven't seen that guy in anything else. Mary McDonough is fine in the lead building a sympathetic character and Chritopher George and his real life wife Lynda Day are fine as always in their supporting roles. Lynda gets to play a more sassy role; quite in contrast to her more delicate female roles in flicks like ANTS. But the movie belongs to Bill Paxton who slam dunks his role of a socially awkward mortuary attendant. It was quite clear that Mr. Paxton was well on his way to bigger and better things).
NUDITY: $$$ (Since this was helmed by Howard "Let's See Some Boobs" Avedis, there is a sprinkling on nudity throughout the film. Paxton embalms a pretty blond early in the film and Mary McDonough has a romp with her boyfriend before her extended nude scene in which Paxton plans to embalm her. The buxom Lynda Day George keeps herself under wraps but does offer some titillation with a lowcut nightgown that displays the type of cleavage all men wish their wives had).
The Channeler (1990)
Typical Quicky No-budget Horror
University professor Pam leads a group of students and her boyfriend (Jay Richardson) on a little excursion to rural route redneck land on what she claims to be an environmental field trip. But she has ulterior motives, of course. She seems to possess knowledge of some mystical beings in the area that dwell in a mine and she uses one of her students, who happens to be a "channeler" to help her locate the creatures' dwelling.
The story is okay but the dialogue is terrible. The writers throw your typical country jokes that fall flat because we've heard every redneck rhubarb 100 times before--and all delivered much better. The one-liners issued by sassy tramp Cindy Brooks are so telegraphed they fail to elicit a response from the viewer beyond an eye roll. This movie is essentially only for low-budget horror enthusiasts who are fans of the B-Rate stars.
STORY: $$ (The story, although on paper looks good, didn't translate well to a script. The characterization was lacking in our characters as Pam's motives weren't well thought out and Dan Haggerty's survivalist/chemist seemed out of place and entirely unnecessary. More should have been done, but this was clearly made by amateurs).
ACTING: $$ (The acting is quite weak from almost everyone involved. B-Rate star Jay Richardson (SINS OF DESIRE) does a fine job and Grizzly Adams lookalike Dan Haggerty plays himself as usual. Cindy Brooks was annoying as the slutty girl and Oliver Darrow (SPIRITS) has little to do as the bad boy. Brenda James (SLITHER), credited as Brenda Klemme in this film, seems the only thespian among the students that was well cast. She shines in her bookish, studious role and gives the film's best performance--but that isn't saying too much).
NUDITY: $ (There is a pointless shower scene in the wilderness at Haggerty's cabin showing an obvious body double standing in for Cindy Brooks).
DeepStar Six (1989)
At the Ocean's floor, there are no bras
This film plays like the little brother of THE ABYSS with a twist of ALIEN thrown in the mix. Fortunately, it doesn't bog itself down like THE ABYSS by incorporating a tedious, needless social statement in the final 45 minutes like Cameron's vastly overrated film. Be that as it may, this is still a rather weak B-film with poor characterization and a by-the-numbers plot.
When a group of underwater workers disturb the lair of a sea creature the monster gets its revenge by destroying their base and snacking on the crew. The crew are all quite underdeveloped, even the romantic leads of Greg Evigan and Nancy Everhard. (SPOILER) You know when characters are about to die because they'll start start talking about their New Hampshire farm like Cindy Pickett or greasy hamburgers like Matt McCoy.
STORY: $$$ (This isn't a bad story it just offers nothing new. The characterization is weak because it tries to forcefeed clichés. Miguel Ferrer plays the doofus Bill Paxton character of ALIENS and the romantic link between Everhard and Evigan is too weak for my money. None of the other characters are even moderately developed leaving the viewer with little invested in the people on the screen).
ACTING: $$$ (The acting wasn't the problem. Miguel Ferrer clearly gives the best performance in this film with his excellent, slimy portrayal of Snyder, the ever-picked-upon handyman eager to get topside. I thought Nia Peeples and Nancy Everhard should have changed roles because Everhard's character was a tough-as-nails Navy officer and Nancy, although she clearly got into solid shape for the role, looks more like a schoolmarm than a soldier--Peeples on the other hand, has the hard body for a female Navy officer but her line readings were way too fast. I felt like whenever Nia had a line I had accidentally hit the fast forward button. The other actors were fine. Evigan is okay as the male lead and Matt McCoy does a solid job as the goof-off. Ferris Bueller's mom, Cindy Pickett, gives a solid performance as the base's medical officer and Marius Weyers is great as always. His character really needed to be more developed though).
NUDITY: None, but no female cast member wears a bra in this movie. They didn't quite adhere to their packing list before departing on this six-month deployment.
Night Hunter (1996)
Vampire Hunters Need Eyeliner... Not Stakes and Holy Water
I always rent a film with the desire to like it. However, this film started with two strikes against it. The first strike is that its lead is Don "The Dragon" Wilson, an inept actor by anyone's standards but a solid martial artist. I'm not a martial arts fan so I'm not big on Mr. Wilson. Second, its a vampire flick and you can count all the decent vampire films in history on one hand--and you won't employ all your fingers. So, you might be wondering, why I rented this. Well, I'm a video completist and will watch anything that Melanie Smith appears in. So there you have it.
The film focuses on Don who plays Jack Cutter, the son of vampire hunters who were killed by head vampire Nicholas Guest and his minions when Don was just a boy. He grows up determined to rid the earth of vampires. When the police chase him (he has the ignorant tendency to run around town with a shotgun at any hour, day or night) he is hit by a vehicle driven by Melanie Smith. Melanie's intro isn't a casual hello for she, in Mina Harker like fashion, is the reincarnation of a lost love from Guest's past. So Don must save the world from bloodsuckers and the girl from the head fang-face.
Don does battle with far more eyeliner than Melanie Smith wears... I guess vampire killers need to look dark-eyed. Also, filmgoers that can't stand movies that have vampires walking around in broad daylight will hate this film. They can combat the sun with shades.
STORY: $$ (Too clichéd. The reincarnation subplot wasn't needed. This film borrows too heavily from other sources to flesh out its weak script, such as the Bram Stoker borrowing. Also, when Melanie gets shot while driving her car, she clearly gets it in the left tit, which made for a tricky Kennedy-esque shot from the officer who accidentally drilled her. Yet when Don treats her, her wound is in the right shoulder. However, jumping wounds aside, the head vampire is quite progressive and should be applauded for adhering to the call for diversity. His four vampire followers are a woman, an Asian, a black guy and a white guy. Way to go!)
ACTING: $ (Although this is B-Rate fare there are many B-Rate films that boast solid acting. When your lead is the wooden Don "The Dragon" Wilson, you've ascribed, before filming, to low-grade acting. We also have the terrible erotic-thriller actress Maria Ford as the female vampire and Nicholas Guest is quite less-than-menacing as the lead vampire. Melanie Smith does a fine job with what little she has to work with and James Lew, who, perhaps, should have been the lead, gives a fine cameo performance as Don's dad).
Weekend Pass (1984)
An Understated Charm
This isn't that good of a movie but it has a mysterious charm working for it that I can't quite put my finger on. I don't know, but I think it has something to do with the camaraderie of the four sailors. As a military veteran, I found the friendships fun and engaging. Where else can four completely different guys strike up such a bond outside of the military?
This film focuses on four sailors fresh from boot camp who have a weekend pass in LA before they head their separate ways, various specialized schools. LA is the former haunt of Spencer and Bunker Hill (Chip McAllester) who have dames from their past they're eager to meet while nerd Lester has a phone number of his commander's niece and Fricker (D.W. Brown) has a spot lined up at a prestigious LA comedy club. They each have their missions but Lester's is the only one that proves fruitful, however, each sailor finds romance in the arms of a woman they weren't expecting.
STORY: $$ (The story really is a letdown. It really isn't the story as much as the filler that hinders the viewing experience. The director gives FAR too much time to dance choreography, tossing in some lame mime shows, aerobics workouts and a spandex-clad dance climax. However, despite the emphasis on dancing, the love story of Bunker Hill and his aerobics instructor sustains interest as does Spencer's fling with college chum Hilary Shepard, who doesn't quite live up to his fantasy--she's too Hollywood for his tastes. Fricker's lead up to his comedy routine could have used some work as could Lester's set-up with the commander's niece (Graem McGavin).
ACTING: $$$ (For a 1980s comedy that featured a bunch of lesser names, the acting wasn't that bad. D.W. Brown and Chip McAllester shine. You'll feel for Brown's Fricker whose main ambition is to be a great standup comic but he just doesn't have it. His failure, however, leads to a romance with the cute Daureen Collodel, who, just like Fricker, was a bomb on the stage at the comedy club. McAllester is solid as Bunker Hill who returns to his old stomping grounds--and all black neighborhood--with his three white sailor chums. Some ethnic jokes ensue. Hilary Shepard gives a quality performance as Spencer's object of lust who cares for nothing but her own image. She gives the best line in the film when she agrees to bed Spencer but only under her rules--mechanical appliance necessary. She tells Spencers that conventional sex went out with bell bottom pants. Graem McGavin gives a sensitive performance as the sheepish girl that Lester dates).
NUDITY: $$$$ (There are your typical strip club nude scenes supplied by "actresses" early in the film as the sailors first destination is eats and titillation. Later on Hilary "The Body" Shepard disrobes for a bath but gets rebuked by Spencer. Buxom little Graem McGavin isn't as obliging in this film as she was in MY TUTOR).
The Sender (1982)
A film with many facets--all turned on
Whether you want to categorize THE SENDER as a thriller, horror or sci-fi film, it makes for a rather strong movie in any genre. The plot centers on a doctor/patient relationship between amnesiac John Doe (Zeljko Ivanek) and Dr. Gail (Kathryn Harrold). Kathryn Harrold, as the good doctor, goes to bat for the young amnesiac when her colleague, Paul Freeman, wants to administer electro-shock therapy. But Harrold feels she can reach him without the questionable treatment. Little does she know that everyone, not just herself, can reach him for he is a gifted, yet troubled young man, who has the ability of telepathy.
Images are sent to Harrold via Ivanek which allows her to piece together his past. When John Doe's mother (Knight) meets with Kathryn Harrold, more pieces fall into place, but mother might have ulterior motives. Mother, also, might be a figment of her imagination or another of Ivanek's projected false images. The film focuses on Kathryn Harrold trying to set things in order and thus place the troubled mind of Ivanek at ease.
STORY: $$$ (The story has its strengths and weaknesses. I was quite shocked at how readily Paul Freeman's character accepts Harrold's theory of telepathy before proof is given. If he had any reservations, he became a full believer after the great electro-shock scene. There are numerous biblical references which some viewers will find off-putting, but there isn't any open bashing of Christianity, just the typical subtle Hollywood questioning of faith. Shirley Knight is a religious freak who viewed her gifted child as a reincarnation of Christ and there is a mental patient at Harrold's hospital that calls himself The Messiah).
ACTING: $$$$ (The acting is quite strong. Zeljko Ivanek was cast because he has a natural woebegone appearance with his droopy-dog facial features and Edgar Allen Poe eyes. Appearances aside, the young man gives a very good performance. Kathryn Harrold is very strong in the female lead, giving us a convincing performance as a shrink dedicated to human understanding and not radical treatments. She excels with a rather demanding role that forces her to play a strong-minded woman who must question the integrity of her thoughts when Ivanek begins to bombard her with mental images. Shirley Knight does a fine job in her subdued role while Paul Freeman has little to do but assist Kathryn).
SEXUALITY: $$ (There is no nudity in this film--it has a strong story and doesn't need flesh to gather viewers. Be that as it may, Kathryn Harrold gives a quality come-hither performance, never once shedding her clothes though, proving that an actress can be sexy without going nude. The first images she receives are at night, at her home, as she believes a burglar has intruded into her house. Kathryn wears a thin v-neck shirt in bed with, quite obviously, nothing on underneath. Those with a caboose fetish will like the scene when she reaches to secure a window and her backside is fully exposed.
Dead Solid Perfect (1988)
Does for golf what Major League III did for baseball... nothing!
For a film that was hard to track down, this was a monumental letdown. This movie was quite pricey on the online marketplaces but after Randy Quaid went off the deep end the price for the film dropped and I picked it up. I should have left it alone, for it was an unfunny, uninvolving dramedy with clichéd characters and situations. If Tom Jenkins' book is as bad as the screenplay adaptation he makes of his novel, then it must be a terrible read.
The film focuses on a down-on-his-luck, self-absorbed golfer, Kenny Lee (Quaid) and his trials an tribulations with the pro golf circuit, women and his own ego. He is in the midst of a failed marriage with Kathryn Harrold so he finds the floozies on the circuit acceptable, which leads him to sexy airhead Corinne Bohrer. With his marriage on the rocks, his golf game begins to rise but he can't quite apply the finishing touch and win a tournament. Something is needed, but is it something missing or something he is neglecting?
STORY: $ (What a terrible, unfulfilling story this makes. Jenkins borrows every plot device he employs in this film from better sources. We even have our "Magic Negro" caddy, well played by Larry Riley. The concept of love in the film--which is a predominate influence in the overall film--is watered down and not depicted well. You never get the impression that Quaid and Harrold have a strong relationship because Jenkins' skill as a writer is wanting. His clichéd ending will make you sigh with despair as will the insipid method he chooses to expose Bohrer and Brett Cullen's fling to Quaid. I don't know if Tom Jenkins wrote the screenplay or if he had his ten-year-old nephew pen it for him, but what we have here, for a finished product, is nothing professional but something juvenile and lacking any originality.
ACTING: $$ (The acting is hit or miss. Quaid, who I always liked as Cousin Eddie, struggles to give Kenny Lee much identity. As the lead he gives a very weak performance. The character actors do a far superior job. Both Jack Warden and Bibi Besch shine as eccentric Southerners that bankroll Kenny. Brett Cullen gives a strong performance as the playboy golfer and Corinne Bohrer is a treat as Kenny's free-spirited fling who resists the restraints of monogamy. Kathryn Harrold does a solid job with the limited resources Jenkins writes for her and DeLane Matthews does a quality job as the ever-faithful wife to the philandering Brett Cullen.
NUDITY: $$$$$ (Apparently, the reason this film has a high price tag isn't for the strength of the story--because it has no strength--but the allure of Corinne Bohrer's full frontal nudity. We already know she's a free-spirit (the politically correct term for a tramp) because she tells our hero that his marriage isn't an obstacle to him bedding her. Yet Jenkins feels his audience needs more proof that she's untethered and has her stroll down the motel hallway to fetch a pale of ice wearing nothing put her birthday suit. Corinne Bohrer, although typecast as an airhead, has an extraordinary, and natural body. It's quite sad when a film that isn't an erotic thriller has to rely on breasts, but that's all DEAD SOLID PERFECT has going for it--a dead solid perfect nude scene from Corinne.