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1644 reviews in total 
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Tattoo (1981)
"I don't do minors"., 10 May 2016

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.

Funland (1987)
"Is he clowned out or what"?, 7 May 2016

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.

"I'm going to get every one of them"!, 30 January 2016

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.

"You know escape is only good if it's dangerous"., 9 January 2016

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 not care.

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.

"What's your story McCreed"?, 2 January 2016

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.

Flareup (1969)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
"What is she trying to do. Get her self killed"?, 26 December 2015

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"?

Watch it for Meg Foster., 12 December 2015

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.

"God I feel fantastic. A new kind of high. I wonder what will be next"?, 12 December 2015

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.

Maid-Droid (2008)
"It's not your fault your batteries went dead"., 27 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From the creator of the insane Japanese zombie feature "Stacy" (2001), Naoyuki Tomomastu goes a step further with his erotically demented low- budget fantasy "Maidroid".

In the not so distant future, Maria was an android that was programmed to take care of Ueno when he was a child. When he got a little older his parents died in an accident and he decided Maria would look after him. As he grew older, he became attached to her emotionally and was upset that the sexual function didn't compute because of her being a prototype. Still this being the case the love he shared for her lasted long after her battery power had died. This shows when he's an old man still talking to her and washing her, though there's no life in her anymore.

While there's news reports of a series of serial rapes hitting the city, detective Yuri Akagi begins to suspect it's an android. Upon each night there seems to be an attack and Akagi might have to do something out-of- ordinary to get her suspect (and when she does it's quite a sight!?).

The concept looks better on paper, than so on screen… as its rather patchwork with these two thin plot threads having no real connection, other than having something to say about society's approach to sex and love. Quite laughable with its observations of what men and women are after (especially the motivation for the serial rapist) and the sexual appetite that spurs them on (Love is eternal, nothing material about it and it's more than skin deep). Well the director does craft numerous eye-brow raising moments, both intentional and unintentional. Really it's like two different movies fused together, but have trouble gelling as the editing is a mess and it just doesn't feel right. Creative and unusual with the ideas, but the frenetic execution is ramshackle and clumsy. However there's no denying how jarring in nature it becomes; as the words lewd, sleazy and outrageous figure promptly. Soft-core sequences come from nowhere. The somewhat sweet and heartfelt romance of a man and his droid is broken up by chintzy and violent pockets of the serial rape investigation of very little groundwork. Still when they should be disturbing in detail, it's just goofy. The script is not always serious, as black humour shows up in those kinky scenes that come across like info-commercials for these maidroids.

Second-rate entertainment.

"I'm so unlucky"., 25 September 2015

Offbeat, colourful and cutesy Hong Kong fantasy romance of a well-worn story concept. There happens to be two plot threads streaming from this story… one more serious than the other.

Shing is a down-on-his luck cartoonist, who's on his way home when he hits a lady ghost Ching-Ching. This leaves the spirit stranded in the human world, where she attaches herself to Tony whenever his out of luck. While stranded there she meets another demonic spirit (known as ghost whore) who's trying to revive her dead son, after they were mistakenly sentenced to death for adultery.

It's likable, but familiar entertainment with a lousy ending. Batty characters come and go, while the scenarios are very cartoon-like with the jokes becoming tiring. Well it's like a comic strip coming to life, which does happen in the film in one very interesting scene. It's an odd and jarring mixture, mingling comical interactions and misunderstandings with some atmospheric imagery and nasty surprises. Still it's the central relationship that takes up most of the time where she helps him achieve what he wants, which for most part is quite dull. Where ghosts tease and torment the living, where the physical gags feature heavily and so does a superstitious framework when Feng Tien's Taoist priest arrives on the scene. The performances are mainly on the eccentric side (Tony Leung & Deannie Yip) and Joey Wang has a beautiful presence.

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