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I went into "Vampire At Midnight" hoping it would be a nice little
treat, but I came thinking that this late-night horror b-film didn't
all come together. I can see why it's not particularly well known or
even a cult-film. After a promising beginning, it began to stall from
half-way onward and like others have mentioned become quite bland, a
little slow and dull. It was just a little too chilled and relaxed.
Still in parts, it does work because of some unorthodox touches and
script's witty style. Like the story playing up the idea; is the killer
a vampire or not? (He uses a hidden switchblade, not his teeth, but
still drinks from their bloody throats).
Jason Williams in the lead role as the homicide detective on the case gives a likable performance for a mundane character. On the other side of the coin, Gustav Vintas' seductively dry performance as the killer is quite exemplary. Going for that European touch, which worked for me, but the vampire traits were rather different then the norm. Old school sensibilities within changing times and surroundings.
I think where it does lose somewhat its momentum, is when the killer takes a liking to the detective's beautiful neighbour (played vibrantly by Lesley Milne) who's an aspiring pianist. It's a bit of a stretch on how the paths cross, but it's obviously there to move the story along and add some suspense, which I don't think is all that effective or interesting. I just think there is something more there, but it only scrapes the surface making our killer quite a shallow shell despite Vintas' best. While I'm not much of a fan of where the story headed towards the back-end, I still got to hand it to them about the closing which does pack a killer punch.
For its low-budget, it's particularly well-made and very moody with its visuals and lighting. The L.A backdrop is hypnotic and added to the smokey and seedy atmospherics. Too bad I find some of the scenes repetitive and plodding, which took away its attempts of building tension leaving the attacks as mean-spirited. The support cast were capable with the likes of Jeanie Moore, Esther Alise and Robert Rando.
"Leave this vampire thing alone".
As you gather by the film's title, these are not your friendly
Professor Jim McFarland takes his student on a field trip to a small southern community which is experiencing lights in the sky and cattle mutilations. What they do encounter will have them fighting for their lives.
"Mutilations" is very much on the cheap, rather camp horror Sci-fi taking inspiration from the 1950's alien invasion crop with its story-telling, but 1980's excesses shows within its execution of its effects and shocks. That's not taking anything away from it either. For it's makeshift budget, the puppetry along with screen work (just think off Bert I. Gordon's use of it) and stop motion animation effects while crude, still amuse and offer up an effectively nasty surprise or two. Like the creative use of the claws and the icky aftermath they cause.
The term cheesy rings true for "Mutilations". Everything about it, is cheesy. But you can't help but think it was purposely so... although there are moments were you do question its intentions. The acting and dialogues are what you expect for such a project. Sometimes animated, other times wooden with constant gawking, slow reactions and ponderous ramblings... while throwing out lines like "I'm going to wash my face" when trying to escape aliens or the obvious "...killing and eating the cattle RAW". Also there are stupid moments aplenty too, which will have you raising an eye-brow. One is at the end involving a stick of dynamite. But again these don't seem to surprise.
Actually the story and get-up is rather predictable with fairly one-dimensional direction, but its snappy pacing makes sure it doesn't outstay its welcome. It goes for just under 70 minutes. A character during one stage in the film tells the group to "Stay calm and cool". I wish someone would have told that to the music composer. Very random in the cues, as the organ/or synthesizer blasts away. It was just odd with its timing... "How much do we owe you"? "15 will do it". Then the music would chime in highlighting something horrifying. Yes, I guess they were gypped. On the other hand the sound effects were quite atmospheric, especially the unusually creepy mumbling coming from the aliens.
Visually it does look low-rent with its sets, but still it creates something foreboding and moody, as you can't go wrong with a fog machine and light show. For the first half-hour we only get to see camera shots of claws and legs of our outer space guests, but later on we get to see the full design in all its glory. These stop motion creations aren't too bad, but watching them in battle is quite rib tickling due to the use of editing and screen work.
Sure "Mutilations" won't set the world alight, but its a fun throwback with some eye-popping effects... the good and the bad.
Karl Kinsky is an army veteran who returns home, becoming a tattoo
artist specializing in Eastern designs. He's a quiet and solemn
individual, who had somewhat a bumpy upbringing with a father who looks
down upon him and still does because of his profession. He is hired to
create temporary tattoos for some models, but he slowly becomes
obsessed with one of them Maddy. He begins a relationship with her, for
it only to implode due his prudish believes and constant harassment.
But he takes matters into his own hands when he kidnaps her and decides
he wants to leave his mark on her.
"Tattoo" is a fascinating early eighties psychological slow-burner with an outstanding lead showing by Bruce Dern. It can be said, in his career Dern has been lumped in villainous / unlikable roles, but here it's a perfectly disturbed pitch of subtle and mannered shades. Across from him is the beautiful and headstrong Maud Adams, as the leering affection that Dern's character longs for. The script paints Kinksy as someone who knows what he wants, but wants it to be pure which leads to misconception and Dern's performance nails his character's insecure nature, as cracks start appearing showing an unsettling side. That being, the film progression is not unique, but quite routine and sombre. I think it works better in the opening stages setting up the characters, then so during the captive moments of the story. This is when it kind of stalls, but still visually it ends on an effective note. You'll know where it heads, but it's the acting, gritty urban locations (which also paint a desolate and lonely facade) and vivid tattoo artwork designs (and their meanings) on show that evaluate the formulaic plot. Bob Brooks' measured direction is efficient and busy, but its Dern's show. Also there's capable support by Rikke Borge, Leonard Frey and John Getz.
The mob takes over a theme park where the owner mysteriously dies, and they go about making changes. One being that the resident clown mascot of many years is fired, but Bruce Burger who's pretty much lost in his character takes it hard by seeking vengeance. It's hard not raise an eye-brow on this low-budget production. The poster artwork is very misleading, as you could say it paints something rather horrifying, even dark. But that's not entirely the case with this very tongue-in-cheek, black comedy. Yeah it's a comedy, but no horror/thriller. Sure there are few bizarre (wax figure, dead people and hand puppet coming to life) and edgy moments, but it's offset by certain buoyant and colourful exchanges like out of some goofy 1980s comedy. With this all in mind, I still didn't mind the oddball nature of "Funland". I thought worked in parts. The dry script and animated acting was spot on, even if it came across amateurish, but the creativeness and unpredictability shines through. You're never too sure how things would pan out, but it does seem to get crazier and warped the further along it goes. Even if the presentation is limited in styling, the director does a really competent job in getting everything to come together. David Lander's performance as the unhinged clown was nothing short then incredible, especially watching his descent into madness and mental breakdown.
Michael Rogan sets out for revenge against six men who interrogated him post WW2, Germany. Where also his pregnant wife was captured, tortured and murdered when he wouldn't comply in giving them the information they wanted. A creaky, so-so revenge drama that is quite laboured on every front. For these revenge stories to come off, there needs to be some sort of emotional attachment or pull, but the material along with Edward Albert Jr's limited performance fail to do so. So in the end there's really no impact to it all. Watching him calculate and then dispatching these men (led by Rex Harrison) was rather dry and uneventful. While durable in its craftmanship and scope, this didn't stop the execution coming off rather plain in its sense of action. The basic formula is there, but a real lack of excitement and suspense shows it up with a slowly progressive script and so does some disjointed editing. For most part it's terribly dreary and seedy. The European location work is well captured though, giving it some colour and Rod Taylor along with Rex Harrison gives it a bit of class and edge.
Danny Masters is the teenage son of the late Harry Masters "The
Greatest Escape Artist in the world, after Houdini". He leaves home to
join his Uncle and Aunty, fellow magicians. He wants to follow in his
father's steps and he's not that far behind him in doing so, even
though his father died what he loved doing. One day while visiting a
magic shop he meets the town's Mayor's neurotic adult son Stu, where a
strange relationship begins, as Danny and Stu decide to create the
ultimate escape, but are Danny's talents being exploited, or does he
The theme at hand is engaging just thinking about it and "The Escape Artist" (which is adapted off David Wagoner's novel) is an enjoyably offbeat and wondrously moody drama with some splendid performances. Griffin O'Neal is fitting as the lead and Raul Julia is eccentrically good. The chemistry dynamics between the two demonstrates laughs, but also excitement as it remains unpredictable. There's charming support by Teri Garr, Joan Hackett, Gabriel Dell, Elizabeth Daily and Jackie Coogan. Then there are the likes of Desi Arnaz, M. Emmet Walsh and a minor, but comically good John P. Ryan. Never really heard of it before, but I was pulled in by its charm and mystic with a nice blend of witty humour between the characters and tension within some of the magic tricks. Sure it's a kid's film at heart, but the playful story does have its sombre moments and numerous smokescreen developments. Melissa Mathison (who was behind "E.T. The Extra Terrestrial") pens the screenplay, where it's sharply pitched and ambitious despite some shady details and plenty going on. Even the imagery stands out at times with imaginative touches and perfect timing in its performances and poignant direction.
Strange, outlandish mix of horror and comedy feature heavy in this very forgotten 90s midnight b-grade genre film starring David Naughton ("American Werewolf in London"), Jeff Conaway and Kevin McCarthy. Familiar ideas are presented in this supernatural piece, but a unique choice of setting by using a rail car as its haunted house get-up gives it a bit of character, atmosphere and creativity. Too bad the story, while having some bite doesn't play out the same suit. The visual effects are competent and gruesomely twisted with some cheesy deaths. Even the demonic ghost mister is a vivid creation. Director Douglas Curtis keeps an up-tempo style and this allows him to keep the story moving then focusing on its limited scope. But what I found hurt it, was the humour and delivery of it. The dark tone had its moments, but the lame dialogue could have been toned down. It just felt forced and artificial with a script wanting to make a joke with every nearly every line. It kind of got overbearing, even the knowing performances felt off. Naughton's nervous energy just irritates and the lovely Judie Aronson is witless. While a bug-eyed McCarthy looks at a lost. Conaway simply hams it up, but I definitely found the most amusing. Also making a minor appearance is John Carl Buechler. For most part an enjoyable, if not always funny oddball horror-comedy.
Alan Morris guns down his estranged wife in cold-blood, and blames her
friends namely Vegas showgirl Michele for turning his wife against him.
She was there when it happened and he goes after her. This leads her to
flee Vegas and make her way to Los Angeles, but Alan tracks her down.
Late 60s flabby psychedelic psycho stalker on-the-run thriller that's
thick on melodramatics but lacks tension despite moments of searing
cat- and-mouse action and neon noir shades. However it remains hypnotic
due to the wonderful presence of Raquel Welch and vivid Las Vegas and
Los Angeles backdrops beautifully projected by agile camera-work.
Sometimes the locations are much more of a character on screen then its
leaden stars. Even though it's seedy in context and the nightlife
shows, it's probably a touch too polished in presenting it, but its
acts of violence have a touch of brutality. Pacing is somewhat a
problem, as it seems to get lost in the neon lights, glitter and dance
numbers. But the romance angle simply lulls between Welch and Stacy's
characters and the script awkwardly goes about it. This just makes the
film drag, until it reaches the fiery conclusion (now I know what the
title means) between Welch and the steely Luke Askew. It's hearty in
execution and well-made by director James Neilson, but generically
crafted and less than exciting.
"What's a girl gotta do to get a job around here"?
Straight-to-video, almost like a life-time presentation sees this
sleepy, if rather underwhelming suspense drama treads water for so long
to only end on a whimper. A young woman and her children horrifyingly
watch from their car as her husband is beaten to death by two drunken
rednecks in a car-park of a fast-food joint. Quite a few years later
the case remains unsolved, but she's moved on with her life. That's
until she's given a document from one of the old officers on the case
which can reveal the killers and so she goes about seeking help from
the public over a TV board cast. However the killers happen to be
watching and decide that they want to pay her a visit. But also
witnesses of her husband's death are being brutally murdered
one-by-one. Is there a connection
is she next along with her children?
The muddled script is thick on drama (where there are some very out-of- sorts, contrived and unconvincing developments), little suspense (weakly delivered) with a quite generic wrap-up. Sadly I found moments unintentionally laughably, mainly that of our trashy killers who were far from threatening. It didn't feel much like a thriller, but a piece looking more so of the affects facing victims of these types of deplorable acts of violence. It's rather numbing, possibly purposely done and this could be contributed to a non-surprising reveal. Meg Foster gives a strong willed, solemn performance, other than her Frederic Forest shows up in a minor part. Jean Bodon's direction is taut, but lifeless with a real lack of style.
With a title like this, sadly it's anything but the ultimate thrill
maybe a mild, predictably frosty one. A rock solid cast (Britt Ekland,
Eric Braeden, Michael Blodgett and Barry Brown) and nice scenic
location work of Vail, Colorado keeps you watching. There are a couple
of dangerous looking stunt work involving cat and mouse chases scenes
with a helicopter (my pick of the two) and the climatic final chase
with a wind glider after some poor Joe on skies. Sadly they're not as
suspenseful as they should have been, but for most part lackadaisical.
However the most intersecting facet is the lead up to them and that's the focus on the ruthless industrialist tycoon Roland Parley (a superbly intense performance by Braeden) and his twisted philosophy. "No man deserves the best unless he's willing to die for it". This sadistic guy is searching for simulation, and he gets it in a variant on the most dangerous game theme firstly by accident (because of his wife's imagined infidelity), but because of the high he goes about setting up the situation that leads to a deadly game, where losing isn't an option. Britt Ekland's alluring, if fragile character becomes the unknowing pawn in his insane jealously. It all becomes a game life, business and romance.
The story is simple minded and gradually builds upon the patchy circumstances, but the characters are somewhat complex in their shades of grey. Script-wise it can come over sounding clumsy and jarring in its shifting tones, but underneath there's certain uneasiness and the character motivations actually engage. Michael Blodgett and Barry Brown are fitting enough and are two different extremes in characteristics (one cocky and the other brooding) as the two unlucky Joes that get caught up with the Parleys.
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