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Since Film-Noir was an Unconscious Genre that Didn't Become a
Fully-Fledged Awareness Until After the Fact, a Perfect Example Rarely
Resulted and Most of the Movies had Some Ingredients that were an
Antithesis to the Style.
For Example, In This One All of the Interior Scenes are Brightly Lit and Very Standard Stuff with Little Style and Even Less Reflection of the Mood that was Present.
While Not the Smoothest of Chandleresque Dialog, Writer Roy Huggins Manages Quite a Few Zingers Interspersed Among Some Clunk. Director Byron Haskin's Noir is At Times Elongated and Some of it Feels Like Filler. But the Things that Do Work are Excellent Examples of Film-Noir.
It's Lizabeth Scott's Femme Fatale Film and Everything and Everybody Spirals Around Her. The Audience Can See Through Her More than the Smitten Men She Seduces. Dan Duryea has a Literal Breakdown, and Her Husband, Arthur Kennedy's Fate is Sealed Once the Money Shows Up and He Resists Keeping it.
Only Dom Defore, is Immune to Her Charms. Defore is Slightly Miscast for This Type of Thing but Does Manage to Pull it Off. The Other Female, Kristine Miller Gives a Smooth Performance and is a Good Counterpart to the Bad Girl Scott.
Overall, It is the Hard-Boiled Dialog, Liz Scott's Deadly Persona, and the Bleak Story that Makes This a Low-Budget Winner.
Note...The Film-Noir Foundation and UCLA with the help of others have managed to finally rescue this from the Public Domain DVD abominations and a fine print can be seen on TCM.
The Plot is So Simple as to Not Need an Explanation but Many
Disappointed Viewers are Befuddled and Cry Foul. If They Need the
Storyline Spoon Fed it Says More About the Human Condition Than This
Not That it Tries At All. It is an Observation of the Human Condition, a Slow, Contemplative Observation Through the Eyes of an Otherworldly Being of Sorts. The Seductive Invader is Here to...Well, Here's Where the Dissenters Want More Info. They Won't Get it in This Review.
Suffice to Say that it's Been Done Before on The Twilight Zone, A TV Mini-Series and Many Other Sci-Fi Paranoias. But it's Never Been Done Like This. The Movie is Mounted in Beautiful and Sometimes Disturbing Cinema-Photography.
It's Creepy in Many Ways Apart from the Visuals. The Music is Edgy and Different but Absorbing, the Actors (some non Actors are used), are Everyday Looking Natural Types. That is Expect for Scarlett Johansson Who is Anything but Everyday Looking. It's Her Voluptuous Beauty She Uses as a Trap and All Who Encounter are Insnared.
This is An Art Film and it Makes No Pretenses to be Otherwise. From the Stunning Opening of Sight and Sound, Throughout This Mesmerizing Movie it Wears its Artistry Openly and Well. While Beauty May Only be Skin Deep, It's Still Beautiful.
Of Interest Only to Those Unfamiliar About Ufology, The X-Files and
Such Because there is Absolutely Nothing Fresh or New in This Retread
of All the Tropes and Clichés Associated With the Real Life and
The Production Looks Impressive Despite the Low-Budget but Unfortunately it Contains Just One Overdone Staple of the Phenomenon After Another. The Acting is B-Movie OK but Hardly Anything to Phone Home About.
Overall, Unless You are Totally Clueless About Flying Saucers, Alien Abduction, and the Like This One is Ultimately Nothing More than a Tried and True Rehash that is a Total Waste of Time, Except for the Uninitiated and Even Those Folks Can Find Better Ways to Tune In to the Always Fascinating Stories About UFO Sightings, Abductions, Cattle Mutilations, and the Government Cover-Up.
Note...Recommendations - The X-Files TV Show, Communion (1989), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), and Fire in the Sky (1993). Also the Abundance of Documentaries Available.
This One has All the Ingredients that Hammer Horror Films are Noted.
Striking Sets, Gorgeous Over Modulated Color, A Good Cast, Bombastic
Music, Beautiful Women with a Concern on Cleavage, and Another Entry in
the Monster Category that Hammer Would Ring Dry.
Determining the Best in the Series is an Arbitrary Affair and Opinions Vary Wildly but This Must be Considered as One of the Better Ones. Despite Being Made in the Late Sixties When the Respected Studio Would Start to Lose a Bit of that Creative and Artistic Flare, This One Shows No Signs of the Quick Decline that Would Follow.
The Movie has a Definitive Psychedelic Influence Starting with the Title Sequence and is Forever Present in the Color Schemes and Lush Lighting that Frames All the Scenes with the Count. It is Striking and Bathe the Film in a Wash of Wonderful Surreal Imagery.
There are a Number of Unforgettable Scenes, Like the Clergy's Trip to the Castle that is Tonal and Tense. This Results in One of the Eerie Lines Delivered by Dracula..."Who has done this thing? Who has done this thing?". This Sets the Movie in Motion that Includes Another Short and Compelling Uttering from Christopher Lee..."Bring her to ME."
So Few Lines but So Much Impact. Lee Looks Commanding Striking Various Poses in His Long Black Cape, it is Like Some Demi-God About to Wreak Evil Doings and is Proud to Announce His Arrival. The Movie Also Concerns Itself with Religion More Than Usual and Atheism is Included in the Script for Contrast and was Not That Common for the Time.
Many Consider This One of the Best in the Hammer's Dracula Series and a Case Can Be Made. It's Bloody, Ultra-Stylish, and Commanding Fun.
A Film-Noir That Seems at Times Constructed with a Bit of an Awkward
Composite. Charles McGraw is Cast Against Type as a Romantic and Joan
Dixon's Femme Fatale is Written with an Abrupt Change of Character.
Nicholas Muscara is Behind the Camera but it's Not His A-Game. However, Despite the Film's Inconsistent Flavor it Manages to be a Very Watchable Example, if Not a Pristine Example of the Genre.
The Theme is Noir For Sure. A Downward Spiral of a Good Man Gone Bad by an Infatuation with a Glamorous Girl's Temptive Allure. By the Time She has a Change of Heart, the Damage is Done and there is No Turning Back. That Aids the Cautionary Tale of Life's Many Roads to Take and Be Careful of the Detours.
Overall, a Good Example of the Genre but Perhaps Not the Best. McGraw and Dixon are Fine and the Story is Typical, but the Movie Lacks Style and is Pedestrian in the Way it is Cobbled Together. It Seems Inattentive at Times with a Distinct Aloff Concern for the Weight of the Material.
Still, it has Enough Going for it to Recommend and is Not Fully a Disappointment, Just Given a Little More Concern for the Film as a Whole it Remains Competent and a Contender, but Not that of a Champion.
Containing Two of the Tropes Familiar to Film-Noir (not counting
shadows), Amnesia and Psychiatry/Psychology, This Off-Beat Little Movie
is Big on Suspense and Contains an Unusual Lead Role for a Child.
Reminding of Val Lewton, the Film has an Ethereal Quality that Gives it Quite and Edge. The Cast is Better than Average with Zachary Scott and Ann Sothern Playing Against Type and Nancy Davis Giving a Low-Key, Restrained Good Turn as a Psychiatrist that Works Fine for the Film.
The Child Actress Gigi Perreau is in Many Scenes and Holds More than Her Own with a Performance that is Spot On as the Disturbed and Haunted Little Girl. The Movie has Style with a Number of Ominous Scenes and Flourishes that Enhance the Mood.
A Definite Film-Noir with MGM Finally Deciding to Slum and Forego the Haudy Studio Persona, Finding Itself Forced to Play the B-Movie Game by 1950 with Changing Post-War Audience Expectations. They Gave the Genre this Somewhat Underrated Gem that Many Folks Seeing it as Children were Definitely Affected by its Dreamlike Setting.
Quickly Made Gangster Movie with Kay Francis vs Humphrey Bogart Central
to the Thin Plot. Bogey is a Stereotypical Bully with a Moronic Sense
of Humor with an Ego to Match His Hero Napoleon. Kay Francis, On the
Other Hand is Anything but Stereotypical for the Era.
She Plays a Strong Female Doctor having to Use Her Wits and Wiles to Save Her Career and Her Determination and Intelligence is a Refreshing Role for Her Gender in the 1930's. She is Totally Believable in the Part and Matching Her is the Goofy Gangster and Somehow the Bogart Character Comes Across as a Likable, Brainless Thug Like Something Out of a Cartoon.
Overall, Some Side Characters Like Kay's Mother Tend to Grate the Nerves and a Couple of Bogart's Gang are Very Dated Stock Gangster's. But the Film is Entertaining and Enjoyable While Not in the Same League as the Best WB Crime Films of the Thirties, It's a Short, Fast Paced and Compact Movie with Enough Playful Panache to Pass as a Lighter Than Usual Look at Some of the Clichés of the Genre.
The Sixties were a Time When Westerns Were in a Transition. Most Folks
Were Overdosed by the Fifties Glut and the Decade that Followed was
Comfortable Abandoning the Done to Death Genre for the Most Part.
Television's Abundance Along with Big Screen Westerns Arriving by the
Wagon Load it was Time to Give Them a Well Needed Rest.
Occasionally There Were Tries to Expand the Genre with the Likes of the Spaghetti Westerns and Sam Peckinpah Gave it a Good Go Culminating at Decade's End with The Wild Bunch (1969) that Did as Much as Sergio Leone to Revive the Western.
This One was Lost in the Wilderness, Mostly Ignored, Although it Did Get Good Reviews, it Flopped at the Box Office and was Shelved and Forgotten. Until Years Late When it Was Rediscovered and Acknowledged as a Hidden Gem.
Charlton Heston's Great Underplayed Performance Enhances the Film Along with Authentic Recreations of Cowboys and Settings that are Unpretentiously Displayed and the Movie Makes No Attempt to Make the Story Mythical.
It is Bare Bones Realism with Interesting Folks Placed in a Hostile Environment and Explores the Human Condition of Survival Instincts. It's Not a Pretty Picture but is Nonetheless Engaging and Exciting to Watch.
Joan Hackett Also Gives a Warm and Believable Performance. The Villains, Donald Pleasence and Bruce Dern Make Their Presence Felt, and Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens Add Some Gravitas with Not More Than Cameos.
There are Other Familiar Faces Like Anthony Zerbe and Lee Majors, but it is Heston, Hackett, and a the Sharply Written Script that Defies Conventionality in Both Story and Structure that Makes This One Special. It's a Western that Can be Enjoyed by Non Genre Fans and will Most Likely be a Pleasant Surprise for Western Movie Lovers When They Discover its Off Beat Charms.
Fans of Bogey Like to Scoff at This Miscasting and Bogart Would Demean
and Destroy This Movie at the Drop of a Hat, But...Bogart Shows Range
and Style and is as Creepy as They Come.
Playing a Resurrected Mad Scientist with a Blood Craving Disease He Manages to Steal the Movie. Not That Hard Considering it is Not Really a Return or Sequel, the Dated Comedy Elements Threaten to Sink the Thing from the Start, and This Short LIttle B-Picture was Not Really Warner Brothers Forte.
It's a Genuine Horror Film Nonetheless with Enough Lurid and Scary Elements to Sustain the Shortcomings. Although Bogart Makes it His Film, Some Others Also Impress. John Litel as the Serious Scientist Trying to Find a Cure for Diseased Blood and Lya Lys as an Actress Falling Victim to the Madness Shines in Few Brief Scenes.
Can be Appreciated Out of Context for Humphrey Bogart's Iconic Career and the Comedy Inclusions Ignored, This is a Pretty Good Entry in Thirties Horror.
Full of the Expected Lush Stets and Striking Color that Hammer Fans
Appreciate, This Sequel to Horror of Dracula (1958) had Horror Fans
Waiting 8 Years. The Anticipation was High and the Wait Was Not Without
Peter Cushing's Van Helsing was Absent, Christopher Lee's Dialog was Absent, and Count Dracula Himself Would Not Appear Until the Halfway Mark.
But Even With Those Letdowns the Film Manages to be Quite Good. If the Slow Start is Unimpressive at Best, there is Always Those Detailed and Gorgeous Sets to Admire and the Music Score is Sharp.
The Dull Characters that are on a Path to an Unmapped and Unacknowledged Castle are Not That Engaging but Once They Arrive at Dracula's Lair Things do Get Really Creepy and the Thrills from There On are Non Stop.
Given the Aforementioned Disappointments, Hammer Fans Still Rate This One High and it's Not Without Merit Because After the First Half This one Rarely Fails to Impress. Lee Would Return Again and Again Playing the Count and One Would Have Hoped that in the Sequel He Would Have Been More Involved Artistically. Still, his Silent Portrayal Here is Gripping and Visceral Pantomime.
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