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Naked Fear (2007)
Remake of the Naked Prey?
NAKED FEAR is actually a better action/suspense movie than it would initially appear. The movie theme of sociopathic hunter hunting an innocent, kidnapped person is not new. The twist this time around is that the intended victim is female. However I now recall a 1987 direct to video movie filmed in Australia where a bunch of outback lowlifes terrorize a woman then decide to hunt her like prey. She turns the tables on them by, yes, getting really angry and then going after them with hand-made weapons. Another similar movie was a movie-of-the week back in 1977 where a hunter played by Andy Griffith accidentally shoots a homeless old guy in the desert. When his hired guide refuses to remain silent, Andy Griffith hunts him down but in the end is thwarted by a slingshot found by the intended victim.
Like the other intended victims of the other movies, Diane (Danielle DeLuca) decides not to be a victim and fights back, which makes all the difference. When you watch the movie, you get a sense of that a remake was done of the NAKED PREY, a classic back in 1966 starring the late Cornel Wilde, who depicted a captured guide hunter in late 1800s Africa, set free to be hunted by the African tribesmen hunters. The plot development is similar. The hunted victim falls back up an incredible will to live and survive and resolves not to be the victim. Also it helps in all the movies of this plot them that the intended victim was in good physical shape to begin with.
I won't be a hypocrite who enjoyed watching attractive Danielle DeLuca run for her life in the nude and then criticize her later for doing a nude role in a B thriller movie. Danielle obviously saw this role as an edgy action thriller which was correct because the nudity was not pornographic. She was willing to go the extra step in depicting total helplessness at the start. It would have been too easy for the psycho killer to have kept her clothes on. My only astonishment is how she could have run barefooted in the New Mexico outback. From what I believe I know about New Mexico there's a lot of thorny mesquite trees in the countryside. I recommend this movie as worthwhile watching for a decent action/thriller. I always see the moral and ethical lesson in such movies. You can choose NOT to be the victim and fight back if you want to, no matter what the odds against you. Like Cornel Wilde in NAKED PREY, Danielle De Luca (Diane) started out her struggle for survival with literally NOTHING.
Mission: Impossible: Two Thousand (1972)
Fans of "Mission Impossible" who are also science fiction fans will doubly enjoy this 1972 episode, with guest star, the late Vic Morrow of, 'Combat!' fame.
The impossible mission force (IMF) team was not above using dirty tricks to nab or liquidate the bad guys. You could say the IMF team were sanctioned government vigilantes. Throughout the television series, the IMF team frequently employed very elaborate ruses, akin to con games and scams to effectively deceive targeted individual or individuals of crime organizations or unfriendly nations, manipulating the targets to turn against their own organizations.
Common among the IMF complex ruses were schemes to deceive the target into thinking he was mysteriously pulled into the past or future. SPOILERS*****SPOILERS
In episode, "Two Thousand", Vic Morrow is an unscrupulous free-lance arms merchant-type who has come into possession of nuclear bomb triggers, which he intends presumably to sell on the black market. The IMF team must stop Morrow from spreading the nuclear triggers at all costs. This plot is very relevant to today given the fears of terrorist black market nuclear weapons possibilities.
The problem is, apprehending Morrow won't work. He has hidden the nuclear triggers.
The IMF team kidnaps Morrow and drugs him unconscious. They deceive Morrow into thinking 18 years have gone by and he has somehow lost his memory of those 18 years. The IMF team convinces Morrow that in those 18 years, conflict has broken out in the Middle East and spread into global war. The United States is now engaged in World War III on several fronts. Morrow is deceived into thinking the long global war has drained the United States, economically, financially, environmentally, and politically, as has the rest of the world war's combatants.
The IMF team disguised Morrow as an old man and this is the unbelievable part of the episode, where Morrow does not realize he is wearing Hollywood old man makeup.
The ever-so-useful and versatile Barney is employed in the scam as a black Middle-Eastern prisoner-of-war brought over to the ravaged U.S. to work as slave labor in military-run food and armament factories. Barney, using Arabic-accented English, helps convince Morrow that what is going on around him is true. More, the collars each prisoner wears around their necks has an 'expiration date'. In the futuristic, war-drained United States, very elderly people are a liability on the remaining scarce resources and therefore are euthanized upon reaching a certain age, which looks to be very old. To make the scam realistic, the IMF team brought in some very elderly people as actors and Morrow was 'accidentally allowed' to view a gas chamber where several elderly POWs wearing the collars are supposedly gassed to death.
At the beginning of the scam scheme, Morrow awoke from his drugged unconsciousness, in his old-man make-up and dirty POW uniform sitting in an underground food factory that is producing cans of wheat crackers. Jim Phelps, another versatile actor on the IMF team when need be, is disguised as a U.S. Army colonel.
Morrow is 'accidentally allowed' to eavesdrop on a conversation between supposed military and civilian government officials discussing how badly things are going for the U.S. war effort now that the war has dragged on for so long and national resources are drained to the point that a forced stalemate is prevalent on the war fronts. And the enemy nations are supposedly in the same bad shape as well. The officials and military talk on, wishing aloud that they had a few atomic weapons that could break open the stalemate and perhaps force the enemy to sue for peace. The U.S. has the raw fissionable bomb material but lacks the sophisticated nuclear bomb triggers to manufacture more atomic and nuclear weapons.
Morrow, thinking that his collar shows but a short time for him to live, thinks he has a bargaining chip. He prevails upon 'Colonel Phelps' and the government officials to let him live if he gives them the nuclear bomb triggers.
A fake bombing raid on the facility allows Morrow to 'escape' and lead the IMF team to the nuclear triggers.
At the show's end, when the IMF team has tricked Morrow out of the dangerous nuclear triggers, they abandon him at the fake facility. It wasn't necessary to kill him, only to retrieve the nuclear triggers. Morrow stumbles around, slowly realizing everything was a Hollywood grand show set-up. For example, people supposedly killed in the bombing raid are not on the debris-strewn floor anymore. The place is empty and silent as if it were never occupied. He starts peeling off the latex makeup on his face. The truth hits him hard. Like several IMF scam victims, who managed to survive through the elaborate ruse, he suffers a mental breakdown and is shown laughing hysterically at the show's end.
This elaborate ruse was one of the better Mission Impossible episodes. Another episode featuring an aging mobster, played by William Shatner, scams him into thinking he has gone back in time some 15 years and is youthful again. Another episode, cons a mobster into thinking an exposed undercover government law enforcement agent who he subsequently helped assassinate and bury secretly - is somehow back from the dead and is walking around. There was another episode that conned a mobster into thinking he woke up from a coma into the year 1992, again, way in the future. The mobster looks out his hospital window from the 3rd story and sees two, futuristic, tear-drop-shaped cars parked below, helping to convince him that he is indeed in the future of 1992. For those of us watching this episode back in 1972, the year 1992 did seem like way in the future as if it were the 21st century itself. It even seemed plausible that the tear-drop shaped cars could actually exist 20 years into the future.
Mission Mars (1968)
Recommend this nostalgic 'B ' science fiction film
If you're a dedicated science fiction fan whose tastes run to nostalgic science fiction 'B' films from decades ago, don't pass up Mission Mars.
My father took me to see Mission Mars in 1968 when I was 8 years old and I vividly remembered the movie. Despite the criticism of today's reviewers about its purported cheesiness and low-tech, unsophisticated, and cheap special effects, remember, these critics are judging Mission Mars by 21st century standards. Of course Mission Mars would never measure up. When I saw Mission Mars at the theater in 1968, I was watching the then, state-of-the-art special effects that was available. I will however, allow that perhaps there could have been more investment in special effects, but then again, Mission Mars was not a high-budget science fiction film, even for 1968. Judge Mission Mars by putting yourself back in 1968 and you will appreciate it for what it was at the time.
One of the biggest criticisms relates to the open-chinned helmets of the three astronauts as one of the cheesy, inaccurate sci-fi special effects. I can explain this. It was not an omission. Back in 1968, there was widespread belief that Mars might have a very thin atmosphere that could be, just barely breathable, perhaps akin to being on top of Mount Everest. If you acclimated yourself long enough, you could just barely breathe on Everest, but you wouldn't want to remain there long. Therefore, the prevailing thought was that the space suits need not be hermetically-sealed. The astronauts would still require an oxygen-supplying breathing apparatus however, to supply the sufficient quantity of oxygen to the human bloodstream.
SPOILERS: I distinctly remember the scene where the actor Nick Adams' character decides to enter the hostile Martian silver orb on an apparent kamikaze self-sacrifice attempt and just as he is about to do so, he recalls the voice of his girlfriend, Alice, sadly lamenting her fear that one day he'll go up on one more mission and won't come back. For some reason there were groans and guffaws of scorn and, 'yeah, right' comments from some of the audience behind me. But I never understood why. I didn't feel the same way.
I especially liked the one scene where one of the astronauts cooks omelets for the everyone by placing a large, yellow pill in each of three, small, metal steamers. He points a thin hose that dispenses water onto each yellow pill. He closes each steamer and after a few seconds, voilà, a fresh, hot omelet in each steamer. Only, astronaut Nick has smuggled a delicious, thick pastrami sandwich onto the space capsule and is hungrily wolfing it down in front of his envious colleagues. Now that was great sci-fi effects for 1968 and I actually wondered if that kind of food technology was really ever going to materialize. (It still hasn't).
Okay, there was one cheesy special effect. En route to Mars, the astronauts look out of the view port and see two out of the three Russian cosmonauts, floating and entombed in space. The film employed cheap-looking, plastic dolls that make you cringe at the cheap cheesiness of it. Still, it was all enjoyable for its 1968 time.
I purchased the DVD MISSION MARS on eBay. The quality is fairly good but the film would require re-mastering to recover its original sharpness and contrast. For connoisseurs of old-fashioned science fiction, don't pass up MISSION MARS.
Has anyone seen or remember this strange episode?
Can any fan of "Combat"! out there recall this strange episode? Sergeant Saunders (the late Vic Morrow) is having some kind of memory flashback.
He is dressed as a British soldier; I distinctly remember that British soup-tureen type helmet on his head. His uniform is distinctly British Army, with the short jacket and the pants with fit over his combat boots, typical of the British Tommies. And he is carrying a British STEN submachine gun! Sgt. Saunders is accompanying a small group of French Resistance fighters into a ruined French town. He is the only non-French soldier with the resistance marquis.
The group gets into a firefight with the Germans and is apparently cornered. One-by-one, each of the marquis fighters fall. Sgt Saunders turns to the marquis fighter next to him, but the man is already dead, but still in a standing position holding his rifle in dead hands over a crate. It appears Sgt. Saunders is the last man.
The British STEN submachine gun lives up to its reputation when it jams in Sgt. Saunders hands and he can't clear it.
From that point, my memory of the rest of the episode fails me.
Does anyone know the title of the episode and what season? Moreover, what happened at the end of the episode? thanks.
War of the Worlds (1988)
Who are the aliens?
Very little is known of the alien invaders from Mortax and the series did not intend to explain much of them. In the original, "War of the Worlds", the aliens originate from Mars. Since Mars is a dead planet and presumably any presence of an indigenous civilization would be noticed from earth, it made sense to change the origin of the aliens to a faraway solar system.
It was a shame that the series did not capitalize on the episode, "Angel of Death". The unexpected, ironic, and somewhat twisted humorous ending would have made for a much more interesting second season had the original plot line been followed. As it was, some viewers, including myself, disliked the second season's post-apocalyptic setting and stopped watching the series.
I present here my own speculative analysis of the aliens from Mortax, for anyone curious enough to read on.
Most likely the inhabitants of Mortax originated from a tightly controlled, rigid, caste-driven society. The upper caste was smug in its superiority over the lower caste classes, even those presumably of a high class, such as scientists. The ruling caste or upper classes which ruled Mortax probably were probably a hereditary class which may or may not have included a military class as a subsidiary upper caste.
At some point in its history, the lower caste classes of Mortax gained political power enough not to overthrow the current ruling caste but enough to gain comparable political parity and most importantly, respect.
As a result of this paradigm shift in Mortax civilization, the upper ruling class now had to address the lower classes with respect. They now called the lower classes, 'comrades'. The lower classes could now address their heretofore upper caste rulers as, 'advocates', not, sir, ma'am, majesty, excellency, highness, lord, mistress, or any other such title conferring superiority over the claimant and inferiority over the one saying it. But it is very clear from the comments of the often frustrated Advocate triumvirate that the bigotry of the upper castes over the lower castes is still very much alive. But now it is politically incorrect to say so in front of them.
Mortax civilization was now unified and moreover, unified in its new, overriding goal, the salvation of its race, civilization, and culture. Unfortunately, the smug racial superiority and bigotry of the upper caste were now subsumed by all of Mortax society. The new inferior class fit only for extinction were the humans of earth. The invasion of earth is an invasion to humans. For Mortaxians, it is a 'colonisation' of a habitable planet regrettably infested with inferior biological sentients called humans whose existence is expendable. The invasion is a fight to the death for all of humanity.
Anna brainwashed by 10-year old
I might be the only one who posts this observation on "Birth", which I feel was indeed a very good psychological/emotional drama with some Hitchcockian overtones. It's been many years since a genre type of this movie was filmed. Critics must have forgotten about this kind of psychological drama since controversy erupted afterward about separate elements of the movie which were taken out of context. If one watches this movie carefully, you realize at the end that the Nicole Kidman character had undergone an inadvertent or intentional brainwashing by a smooth-talking 10-year old. Her character is emotionally vulnerable and mentally fragile and here comes a youngster with impossibly intimate knowledge of her deceased husband. Cameron's character is so innocently relentless, charming, and confident that after his persistence Anna can't help thinking if it's all true. I believe anyone in Anna's place would be as equally vulnerable to this brainwashing. If someone keeps saying the same thing over and over again with utmost belief, then people are bound to start believing that person. SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. In the end young Sean says that he is not the deceased "Sean". The director cleverly structured the movie to make the viewer wonder if young Sean was merely saying that to Anna for her benefit, just to leave enough doubt in viewers' minds. Maybe we're all in Anna's shoes now.
Even if reincarnation were physically true, it wouldn't make a difference. Dead Sean would now be in a new body with new DNA, a new brain, personality, new memories, abilities, flaws, so forth. For all intents and purposes a reincarnated person is still a totally different individual from the decedent predecessor.
Countess Dracula (1971)
"Countess Dracula", inaccurate title for a Greek tragedy
Based on true history of Hungary's early 17th Century, Countess Elizabeth Bathory, Hammer Film's, "Countess Dracula" was meant to be entertaining historic horror, with no aspirations towards anything more or higher. In this entertainment aspect, regardless of lovely actress Ingrid Pitt's considerable feminine endowments, "Countess Dracula" succeeded. If one could fault Hammer Films for anything, it would be its blatant inaccurate film title, which was a transparent marketing ploy to capitalize on the studio's heretofore financially successful vampire horror films.
Nonetheless by reading all the subsequent readers' comments herein, one consistently encounters complaints on "Countess Dracula's" purported shortcomings in plot, acting talent, budget, sets quality, etc., as if the critics were evaluating a multi-million dollar budgeted aspiring blockbuster. Hammer Films execs wanted its viewers to come away entertained by this film. If you watched, "Countess Dracula" and came away entertained, amused, or disturbed then everyone got someone and should be happy.
I won't rehash old observations expounded upon in previous viewers' comments as I have similar ones so I will offer new comments.
One or two viewers previously commented on the horrible aging makeup of Ingrid Pitt/Countess Nodosheen. My new observation beyond this is that in real life, the countess would not have actually looked like an aging grandmother.
Bear in mind that back in circa 1600 AD, young women married at the age of 15 or 16 and quickly bore children soon after. If my history is correct, the real Countess Bathory married at age 16. Assuming bearing a child at age 17, by the time the 18-year old Lesley Anne-Downe/Ilona Nodosheen appears on scene, the movie's Countess Nodosheen should have been only 34 or 35 years old. It would have been possible for the early-thirties Countess Nadosheen to still have appeared relatively attractive. Don't forget that as a wealthy aristocrat the countess would have had a superior diet and nutrition compared to the peasants, would not have had to work outdoors at hard labor, and had access to far better medical service, albeit primitive as it would have been back then. You can imagine an attractive 34 year old woman today being sexually attracted to a handsome, 22-24 year old man, which the young lieutenant Imre Toth was supposed to be.
Sandor Eles, the ill-fated lieutenant Imre Toth, deserves much better treatment in his thankless role than the critics of this viewers' board gave him. His character was not afforded that much dimension to begin with because that is how the film's director envisioned it. Toth is a tragic, innocent victim, and was not meant to be the film's hero requiring cunning, nerves of steel, fighting talent, so forth. I actually felt great sympathy for the Toth character. In the film LT Toth is a real nice guy, of above average intelligence, but no genius, a typical young man filled with visions of military achievement and glory. There is no man who in the same position would not be able to resist the attentions and sexual blandishments of a beautiful woman. We would all fall into the same trap. That is why the Toth character elicits sympathy. He could be any one of us normal guys.
Another observation is in line. The rejuvenated Countess Nodosheen is supposed to look 18-19 years old. But in the film Ingrid Pitt looks older than Sandor Eles/Imre Toth. She looks more like a woman in her late 20's possibly already 30. I attribute that slip-up to the director. It's no fault of Ingrid Pitt. That's how Pitt looked like back in 1970.
One more observation. Did anyone notice that when Countess Nodosheen regained her youth temporarily, her disposition and temperament dramatically improved as well? As an old crone, the countess is dour and mean-spirited. Rejuvenated to around 18 years of age, the now pretty countess smiles a lot, laughs, tells jokes, and is generally much better company to be around. Only twice does the connivance of the elder countess resurface and then in a sexy, bitchy, "Dallas/Dynasty" sort of a way. The elder/younger countess transformation, reminiscent of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, seems to be reaching towards an allegory of good and evil co-existing within the same person.
In my opinion, this is where the inexplicable sympathy for the Ingrid Pitt/Countess Nodosheen character originates. If you watch "Countess Dracula" several times as I have done, you begin to perceive something of a Greek tragedy in the character, maybe MacBeth-like. An elderly aristocrat falls in love with a youthful man she knows she can never have, nor should have. But she circumvents her destiny and age by invoking black magic and murder. The results only ultimately mock her true age and bring misery and death to everyone around her.
Oddly, no one in "Countess Dracula" starts off evil. True, elderly Countess Nodosheen is selfish, mean-spirited, discourteous, and short-tempered, but she doesn't embark upon her amoral path of self-gratification, fornication, and murder until she accidentally discovers the "secret" of youth.
The excellent Nigel Green/Captain Dobi character doesn't start off evil, either, despite being a true SOB. Captain Dobi actually tries his best to dissuade the countess from her path of self-deceit and murder. He appears to truly love the elderly countess at her present age and appearance because they shared a love affair years ago. Captain Dobi predicts with grim accuracy the madness and obsession the countess would descent into should she insist on achieving and maintaining a false appearance of youthful beauty. Captain Dobi's love for the countess is unrequited and in the end betrayed. He allows himself to be dragged down into the same web of deceit and heinous murder.
The countess' trusted nurse/servant, Julie, a very nice, dedicated, and even 'good' character, descends into being an accomplice and an 'enabler'. Hence, the countess' final self-destruction ensnares all, good and bad, around her. Tell me that this doesn't bear some passing resemblance to a character Greek tragedy.
Black Christmas (1974)
Gothic suspense film noir at its best
"Black Christmas" is truly a forgotten gem. Even though the producers intended the film for cinema, "Black Christmas" has the look and feel of its precursors, the made-for-television gothic suspense thrillers between 1969 and early 1974. This four year period featured inexpensively-produced but having hi-quality production values that older viewers will remember. These include, "A Howling In the Woods", "When Michael Calls", "How Awful About Allen", "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark", "Home for the Holidays", et al. "Black Christmas", produced at the tail-end of this short-lived genre, clearly displays the same suspenseful and moodily atmospheric elements involving human angst, fears, anxieties, and complicated, sometimes destructive relationships. In one small aspect, "Black Christmas" is a transitional film set between the television gothic supsense thrillers and the onset of the slasher genre epitomized by 1978's "Halloween" and 1979's "Friday the 13th". The violence was certainly more graphic than its television precursors, but not gratuitous. Foul language sprinkled throughout "Black Christmas" would never have made it past the television censors. And look again at "Halloween". It's reliance on atmosphere, moodiness, suspense, and the fright of awaiting something that is surely around the next dark bend of the house harkens back to the early 70s gothic thrillers. "Black Christmas" is from a unique genre long gone and will probably not return, but for those seeking quality shockers without the schlock will no doubt find repeat viewings of this suspense film noir satisfying.