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1630 reviews in total 
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Darkroom (1989)
"Jesus, talk about the boonies"., 25 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wow… that was creative use of opening credits (which supposedly Nico Mastorakis directed), but sadly that's where it ends. The obscure "Darkroom" is a very mediocre late 80s slasher produced by infamous film-maker Mastorakis (the man behind the controversial "Island of Death"). This run-of-the-mill psycho-slasher has maybe one or two effective stalk and slash set-pieces, but for most part it's a vapid experience level at its flatfooted direction, drawn out pacing, poorly disguised mystery and lacklustre performances (saved by Sara Lee Wade). Actually there's a lot wrong with it; however it remains viewable for some unknown reason. Where did they get this tacky sounding score from, it sounded like something that you would find in a TV episode. The setting does work to its favour though, being an isolated farmhouse (which looks like the one in another Mastorakis produced film; "Grandmother's House") and scrubby surroundings for this terror to unfold. Everything about it is telegraphed, from its attempts at suspense to its twisted reveal. There's nothing subtle about the writing, as the script delivers some strange dialogues, random developments and a typically clichéd back-story illuminating the killer's motivation. In the past he saw something he shouldn't and this made him a disturbed, ominous individual who likes voyeurism and snaps photographs of his victims before and after his done the deal. The pace plods with characters acting suspicious, but the back-end does pick-up the energy with the cat and mouse interplay, but it goes about it in a completely daft and contrived manner.

"I want you to die"

Shallow graves can't hide secrets., 24 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm surprised that this particular film isn't as well known, as "The Night Digger" is an effectively expressive British psychological thriller (penned by Roald Dahl) with a touch of Gothic drama, psycho-sexual unease and sinister moods. The performances of the cast do go a long way to carrying the intrigue and ambiance, where Patricia Neal, Pamela Brown and a very brooding Nicholas Clay do an outstanding job. Neal's repressed turn really is one of great strength and emotion, while Brown authentically commands the screen as the demanding, disabled mother. Clay has a charm about him, but lurking underneath is something unsettling. The relationship that slowly builds between Neal and Clay's characters is affecting, that when she becomes suspicious of him, due to the disappearances of young woman in the area. She just doesn't want to believe he has anything to do with it, despite knowing he surely does. She yearned for something meaningful, and that was him as he brings out the confidence in her and of course she loves the man. So they run away together. The moments when she finally confronts him over it, while terse it remains powerful. Even the sequences with Neal and Brown (adopted daughter and mother) crafted out gripping exchanges. The scenes involving the murders or even the lead up to them (where he torments the victim) are truly creepy, and Bernard Herrmann's subtle, but tense score paints it nicely. This is set-up in an remote country mansion within a small rural town, so town gossip features prominently and is somewhat a driving force for some key plot progressions. So is the loneliness of Neal's frustrated character, which Clay's character takes advantage of and so does Brown's. The pacing is causal, but it helps the atmosphere build and lets the character's form shape.

"An eye for an eye"., 24 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Coming late to the party after such films like "The Horror Show", "Shocker" and "The First Power". The murky supernatural action "Judge and Jury" follows almost the same formula of a convicted criminal coming back from the grave after being sent to the electric chair. Now Joseph Meeker is seeking vengeance against those who put him there and also involved in the murder of his girlfriend during the hold-up. He has his eyes on former pro-footballer Michael Silvano and his family, as he believes that's the man responsible for his girlfriend's death.

In all it's trashy and outrageous with an extremely animated live-wire performance from David Keith as the vengeful spirit who likes to dress up in costumes. You know the Freddy Kruger influenced villain…. Still I didn't find anything menacing about his performance, it was more clownish and in which case he does dress up as one. The lame brain plot has very little to it (protagonist being pursued by a spirit while trying to protect his family) and feels straight-forward (chuck in the usual family drama and turmoil with our protagonist haunted by the traumatic experience), but it doesn't hide the fact there's numerous inconsistencies in the writing (mainly surrounding the villain) and the ending is somewhat a whimper. However it does keep a quick pace, throws up plenty of action sequences with bombastic stunt-work (surprisingly some moments do impress for such a production) and the script can have rapid tongue.

The performances are reasonable. Martin Kove has an unintentionally goofy presence to him as the guy who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and must battle the spirit. Cult actor Paul Koslo shows up looking all weathered as the cop who put away Meeker and Kelly Perine is another sort of comic relief who gets paired up with Kove with some amusing interplay. Laura Johnson and Thomas Ian Nicholas (of "American Pie" fame) play the Silvano family. Director John Eyres is the man behind the project and you know what you would get looking at his flimography… low-grade and plain-looking, but there's a certain liveliness and gritty kick to the b-material that makes the mayhem entertaining. Oh and don't forget the slow motion.

"I believe Joseph Meeker is dead"!

"I have a job for you"., 7 March 2015

You want familiar, familiar spaghetti western… look no further than "The Five Man Army". Its real lack of originality is made up by its sense of adventure and entertainment as five comrades come together to hatch up a plan to steal a railway shipment of gold from a merciless general. There's nothing mean-spirited, or violent as even when the twist makes its way in. It's rather goodwill in approach and the script does offer up the clues to where all this scheming its heading to. Some interesting names do show-up on this project. Director Don Taylor, co-writer Dario Argento, actors Peter Graves (charismatically getting by with his suave style) and Bud Spencer (being his brute self)… then there's Ennio Morricone who provides once again a characteristically fruitful signature western score that went hand-to-hand with on-screen action and nice scenic scope. You could say there's nothing particularly rousing or even memorable about this (outside the music score), however the pace is streamlined, the genre staples are well orchestrated, dialogue never distracts, characters while safe are agreeable and there's an intense moment or so in a typical, but well done spaghetti western.

"No more magic. No more hocus pokus.", 28 February 2015

You like a good time with a whip? Look no further than the cheesy, but charm-ridden 80s horror "The Dark Power". What is an interesting set-up (the story's background is well-devised), eventually makes way to its ridiculous writing, low-brow dialogues and goofy, lightweight execution with a lot whip-cracking and wise-cracks ("Feel my whip you son of a b!tch") thanks to legendary B-western star Lash La Rue. Still this low- budget regional horror was lot more entertaining than it deserved to be… maybe more so unintentional, but entertaining nonetheless. Just listen to what comes out of these character's mouths… its rib-tickling (especially from the red-neck woman)… but it doesn't break loose until a good hour when our four evil Toltec zombie sorcerers come to terrorise some college coeds. For the first hour we got to listen to boring, if exaggerated exchanges, whip talk and numerous legends and theories involving the house on Totem Hill where the girls have moved into. At least you got an attractive buxom cast in Anna Lane Tatum, Mary Dalton & Cynthia Bailey. Then it turns crazy with plenty of hysterical screaming and "Benny Hill" chases, as now I don't know what was going on. You can see were most of the money went to though, as the effects are actually well staged and there is one very memorable face-lift. Too bad these zombie sorcerers looked and acted rather stooge-like, than anything truly threatening. Even watching La Rue go up against one of these sorcerers with his whip -- made out of materials from the four corners of the world was a battle of epic proportions. Watch as these two standoff as they go ahead whipping each other in turns, one a pure amateur while the other a master. Crack that whip! It was hard to tell if director/writer Phil Smoot was trying to be funny or not, but this slapdash effort is playful enough. Now that music score was like something out of an old-fashion western film… it even sounded like if someone's mobile was going off.

Can't stay heart-broken for long., 21 February 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A simple, airy topsy-turvy look at relationships, which have elements a little too close to reality, but it's broken up by crazy situations and the desire to be with the one you love. A slightly amusing Italian romantic-comedy that's all a bunch of commotion and headed by beautiful looking actors / actresses. The stunning Brigitte Nielsen was the main reason I decided to give this one a look, but Carol Alt was rather easy on the eyes too.

Paolo and Sandra have been married for a few years, but lately they have been fighting to the point they inevitably break-up, as they start the process of divorce. Paolo meets up with Lisa whilst Sandra finds comfort in close friend Marcella, who has always been in love with her. One day they meet up again, where their passion is reborn, but she realizes Paolo is still the same selfish man and fighting begins. However Paolo can't let go of Sandra, so he goes after her even though he's still stringing along Lisa.

Nielsen's character is a professional pool player and this inclusion seems oddly placed in the story, while Jason Connery plays Marcella whose affection for Sandra is obvious, despite being a work college. Some of the plot threads are downright silly, like the two couples going on holidays, to end up at the same resort. The performances are spot on, but it's really hard to care for Luca Barabareschi and Carol Alt's characters. As they really have no regards to anyone else, but themselves as seen in the opening quarrel. And especially how they continue to see one another on and off, while still with significant others. It can get repetitive, but it's strangely hypnotic thanks to the performances more than anything else.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
"You Don't Need to be Clever to win wars", 21 February 2015

Just like its leading man Yul Brynner, "The Double Man" is a decently lean, direct and hard-hearted late 60s spy melodrama. A steadfast Brynner simply commands the screen, even when no dialogues are spoken, his psychical presence and glare can knock you down. Here he plays CIA agent Dan Slater who heads to a ski resort in the Tyrolean Alps after the reported accidental death of his son, but he believes it wasn't an accident and unknowingly to him his arrival is actually part of a cunning Cold War ploy. It's a well-handled and good-looking (thanks to the scenic cinematography of picturesque snowy backdrop) presentation, as the plot is thick on intrigue and investigation, as it slowly builds upon its brooding framework. There's nothing particularly exciting about it, as the thrills are few and minor and it's overly talky. However the structure is persistent, as the exchanges have a moody intensity and Brynner carries it along nicely with all that chasing and shadowy scheming going on behind the scenes. The ludicrous twist when it comes isn't much of one, because of the clues that are given. Really it only complicates matters, but this works for its stone cold approach. Franklin J. Schaffner's taut direction is grounded and practical in style, as he lets the story's conflicts evolve and the cast take control. The ever-beautiful Britt Ekland plays an important piece to the plot's stirrings and there's excellent support from the likes of Clive Revill, Anton Differing, Lloyd Nolan and Moira Lister. Also dominating was the instrumental music score. Sometimes it worked, other times it was on overload.

"You scare me Rizzoli"., 14 February 2015

With a title likes this, starring actress Whoopi Goldberg would you believe me if I told you this was a searing crime film of a L.A. undercover cop tracking down a drug dealer dealing a lethal tainted cocaine known as 'Fatal Beauty'. Probably not, but this is far from a comedy, despite some humorous exchanges and low-grade dialogues. Offsetting it is its drama and violence, which can be forcefully preachy and visually jarring. Still the script remains moronic and bloated, despite its good intentions and edginess. A fitting Goldberg portraying a female version of Dirty Harry but with wisecracks and flaunting a pink Cadillac to show her lighter side, goes about her job in almost a rogue manner, getting on the bad side of her bosses (played with vigour by John P Ryan) and waging a personal war against an Los Angeles drug ring. Brad Dourif plays the smarmy drug dealer and he brings a mean intensity, although I wished he had more screen time than he had. But he does get an explosive climatic cat and mouse shootout with Goldberg. Wonder if this performance convinced Holland to use him for his following feature "Childs Play." Yep that's right, Tom Holland (better known for his horror films; "Fright Night" & "Thinner") directs this straight-laced, violent formula with predictable results. Still he manages to keep it moving with fineness, using locations to good affect and resourceful in delivery the tough action in spades. Acting across from Goldberg is Sam Elliott, but his weakly pitched character (bodyguard) is little more than a distraction and there for Goldberg's character to open up to. Also in the cast are Ruben Blades and Harris Yulin with some of these performances almost being played with mock seriousness. An action-comedy that doesn't all come together.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
"I'm trying to save your soul"., 26 December 2014

"Night Angel" for most part follows the typical staples of 80s supernatural horror with lukewarm results. It wants to be an erotic thriller with supernatural touches, but the uncanny aspect cheapens it. Considerably silly and weakly acted (with the exception of an always amusing Karen Black), and while uninspired, it's never boring due to competence in its polished direction and outrageous old-school latex make-up effects (thanks to some outlandish hallucinating nightmare sequences). Director Dominique Othenin-Girard was at the helm, who previously directed "Halloween 5" the year before and some of the visual and atmospheric aspects collide here. He sure does like the blue filter when staging the lighting. It's violent, sensual and brooding, but done in a rather tacky manner. Just look at the lust-filled orgy sequences. While serious in tone, some elements are tawdry then say shocking in what it aims to achieve and the dialogues at times can make you groan. The story centres on the fashion magazine industry where glamour and vanity attracts evil in the shape of an ancient evil demon in woman form. Nothing surprises in the writing with the usual raving character suddenly appearing and they know how to vanish this succubus. A mysteriously infatuating Isa Andersen might look the part, but acting-wise was less desirable and some of her delivery raised a chuckle. While across from her is a wooden hero in the shape of Liden Ashby and Debra Feuer fairs much better as his romance interest.

"She's Satan's whore wife"!

Strangely fixating., 29 November 2014

A married woman while on vacation falls passionately in love and begins an affair with a lighthouse keeper, only to be left heartbroken when he dies suddenly. However the very next day he turns up on her door-step, in a zombie-like state. Was it her grief that did that? Anyhow she's overly happy, hoping they can rekindle their love. But she soon realises that his body is beginning to decompose and that she must soon decide their fate. Picturesque, slightly disturbing and haunting British Gothic tale of love with a real sense of tragedy and despair. The grotesquely odd story is kind of ambiguous and scratchy in parts, relying on mood (more so then sense), convincing chemistry and a strongly affecting performance by Susan Hampshire. She really does carry it along quite nicely with a real mix of emotions. But the likes of Frank Finlay (especially in his zombie state) and Michael Petrovitch are not being overshadowed. The music was a bit a shamble. Sometimes fitting, other times awkward. The slow pacing is deliberate and some sequences do pack atmosphere (especially when Hampshire's character comes to the realisation they can't be together), but it feels somewhat lukewarm in Fred Burnley's directorial attempt of capturing some sort of brooding realism to this low-key build-up of macabre. It's nicely photographed with the bleak coastal locations adding to the perceptive nature of its story.

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