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The Incredible Melting Man (1977)
Mickey Lolich is in this!
Just saw this on Blu-Ray. It's true. It does drag. Doesn't have the pacing of better drive-in movies at the time. Some mild chuckles from the slow motion nurse, crackers, dialog etc. Yes, surprisingly Jonathan Demme is in this. But doggone that is the Detroit Tiger great Mickey Lolich as a security guard. I wonder how that came about. Oh well, Mickey shouts his one line out OK, I think. Lolich fans are probably better off getting his baseball card than this Blu-Ray. I elevated this to a score of two in honor of being Lolich's only movie nonetheless. As melting space monster movies go, I agree with some other reviewers who stated that The First Man In Space (1958) is a much better movie. The flimsy excuse for the Melting Man's condition was even more ridiculous than most 50's sci-fi and the disappointing space sequence was mercifully short. And yes that creek DOES look like the one in Without Warning (1980).
Key Largo (1948)
Fantastic Ensemble Cast
What a cast with so much character. Hard to pick a favorite. Edward G.'s middle age gangster return is right up there with Cagney's in White Heat. Bogart's disillusionment and cynicism creates a complexity that ranks as one of my favorite roles for him. 'Why should I stick my neck out for anybody?'. Read a few negative reviews of Bacall's performance. I thought she was believable as a war widow. Amongst all the character; somebody had to be more understated. Trevor's Oscar; well-deserved; pure character. Barrymore's performance and scene trying to get out of wheelchair and praying for the hurricane to destroy the hotel; great. Dan 'I'm the electrician'is a hoodlum/punk almost as memorable as Elisha Cook's Wilmer in The Maltese Falcon (Huston seemed to have a knack for these characters). But the character that I've been noticing more after a few viewings is Thomas Gomez as the assistant to Johnny Rocco. Gum chewing and eyes relentlessly shifting and surveying the situation. Trying to put off Bogart, Bacall, Barrymore,and all with a pleasant affront with barely concealed badness. He exudes a convincing familiarity with Johnny Rocco; nervously anticipating him and trying to keep him from losing his cool. As great a supporting role as you can get I think. Also noteworthy are Marc Lawrence as Ziggy. The sheriff character is good, too. One of my all-time favorites. The only negative I've read here that I could agree with is it may be too stagy for some. With that I give it 9 out of a 10. Lastly say 'She sells sea shells by the seashore' five times.
The Hideous Sun Demon (1959)
Enjoyble and perhaps not so hideous
Actually this is one of my favorite 50's sci-fi films and one of my favorite films of 1959. I agree with Clarke's self-evaluation (liked his notes on DVD) on his direction 'It moves'. Instead of the usual 10 minutes of set-up laboratory scenes; it goes directly into the aftermath of the accident. More sense of action in this one, too, than usual. The camera angles seem good to me with lots of 50's L.A. cityscapes, coastal highways, beach, and oil fields. I enjoyed the 'why me' scene and Clarke's performance a lot. His presenting himself as a flawed character lead was a step above the usual bland 50's sci-fi character lead. His film-noir affair with Nan Peterson was definitely a plus. Definitely more than one would expect from a film that has been depicted as a turkey or one star movie in film guides. Anyhow, kudos to Clarke, and hope to find his autobiography someday.
La guerrera vengadora (1988)
Viva Rosa Gloria
Not sure if this one's in print or not. Picked this one up in VHS form at the flea market. Rosa Gloria Chagoyan is teacher in this one who has a relative or loved one (not sure; don't understand Spanish so well) murdered by leather-jacketed 80's drug dealing punks. Anyhow this one really picks up when Rosa becomes a motorcycle riding, machine gun toting vigilante. I noted a little similarity between this movie and the U.S. movie Cyclone with Heather Thomas on a motorcycle of vengeance. Both came out about the same year; not sure if one influenced the other or not. Plenty of action in this one for sure, though Rosa's escaping gunfire out in the open on her motorcycle more than once is not totally believable. Rosa Gloria Changoyan is a striking lady and looks convincing enough on the bike. Odd is her relationship with dwarf sidekick. Living together? Friends? Once again a language problem. Her triumphant smile at the end is great. I see La Guerrera Vengadora II exists. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to come across it.
Without Warning (1980)
Drive In Classic
Saw this one at the drive-in back in '80 and knew as I was watching it that I was watching a drive-in classic. I seem to recall (in my mind anyway)as 1980 being the last great drive-in horror movie year. I had already seen Humanoids From The Deep that summer and Phantasm there the previous year. I recall that the film had a nice updated 1950's sci-fi feel to it (like Humanoids, a little atmosphere, some laughs (frisbees etc.), hammy performances (Landau Palance) and Larry Storch. The ancient grainy Kingston Trio 'Things Go Better With CocaCola' ad at intermission seemed to fit in with it well. I can't recall what was on the bill with It Came Without Warning; but I recall leaving pretty satisfied. I've looked through many video stores to rent or buy it but can't locate it. Nice to see some other folks fondly remember this one and would like to see it on DVD,too.
Teenagers from Outer Space (1959)
Graeff a pioneer
Really enjoyed some of the reviews of this movie. Mel's drive-in costumes, Love a cross between Duane Eddy & Michael Rennie; hilarious. And surprised to see so many positive ones. I think with some budget and some help, Graeff could have done some good stuff. As it is, I was totally taken by this one as a kid on TV in the 60's. Thor was a disturbing presence with a higher body count than The Blob, The Thing and other space invaders. Definitely a Terminator ancestor. And Thor? Derek? What, a Nordic planet? Found Derek to be cool at time, but in retrospect seems a bit nerdy and wimpy. Still he's way cool in attaining teenage goals in mere hours. Gets a free pad, drives a car (no permit)and kisses (at least once- the camera moves away)a girl. Also note how Betty never complies with Derek's requests to 'stay back' or 'stay here', a ready for the 60's girl for sure. And their smooch has to be one of cinema's first interplanetary love scenes; definitely preceding Captain Kirk or David Bowie from Man Who Fell To Earth. I guess 1959 was to early for an a happy and consummated alien/human marriage unlike I Married A Monster From Outer Space. Visually the ray gun blasts in cozy Leave It To Beaver like settings were unsettling then too.(Anyone know what town this was filmed in?). Also Thor slugs a middle aged nurse (well played by Helen Sage I thought). Shocking! The worst performance was by the Gargon sighting observatory worker. I agree with a lot of reviewers that though the lead performances were amateurish and stilted, some kind of engaging earnestness shines through. One of my favorites if not favorite cheapo sci-fis from the last bumper crop year: 1959, edging out Attack Of The Giant Leeches, Killer Shrews, Alligator People. Heck I even like this better than the big budget sci-fis of '59: On The Beach (good but kinda boring)and The World Flesh and The Devil (ditto). I hope the undoubted negatives of being associated with this movie didn't affect Graeff's and Dawn Anderson's early passings
Night of the Demon (1957)
To demon or not to demon
I thought I had heard awhile back that Jacques Tourneur didn't want to show the demon. Does anybody know if this is so? Having worked with Val Lewton, this would seem possible. If so, it's a shame Tourneur isn't around to put a director's cut on the DVD instead of Curse Of The Demon which is a little redundant being on the same DVD as Night Of The Demon. I found the demon scary when I was 12 years old and would not have enjoyed the film as much without it. Now, of course, the film would seem better without it. The atmosphere of Tourneur's work that I've seen; this,I Walked With A Zombie, Out Of The Past, and that Twighlight Zone episode (one of the best) of the elderly lady getting calls from her deceased husband consistently has that great nocturnal, shadowy and mysterious quality to it. This body of work alone is enough to make him one of my favorite directors. Even if this isn't one of Dana Andrews best performances, his stubborn skepticism is convincing enough to contrast nicely with Carswell's over politeness. As old horror movies go; this ranks up there with The (original) Haunting, Eyes Without A Face, Black Sunday and early Universals as the best among the old black and whites for me. Strangely enough, I happened to have watched it earlier this (yesterday now) evening October 28th which IS the night of the demon. Coincidence? **** out of *****
I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)
Best 50's Werewolf
In between Lon Chaney Jr.(40's) and Oliver Reed (60's), I give Michael Landon a slight edge over Steven Ritch (The Werewolf 1956) as favorite werewolf of the 50's. The high school jacket and occasional drool give this werewolf a different slant. I notice this was directed by Gene Fowler who did I Married A Monster From Outer Space (another great title)in which, like this movie, the monster gets attacked by a dog. I still like the fight, woods scene, and gymnasium scene. A previous reviewer mentioned that Elvis was dating Yvonne Lime around this time and visited the set. This WOULD have been a great Elvis vehicle. 'He rocks He sings He Howls!'. Ah what could have been. Also another reviewer mentions that Michael Landon's character was too self-assured and that an unassured and unconfident teenager misled by the good doctor in hope of the teenager being more confident and popular would have been better. I agree, that would have been more plausible than Whit Bissell's ridiculous reasons and maybe more involving to the viewer. Still, I like Michael's performance (I'll take this over a Highway To Heaven rerun)and regard this as the best AIP horror picture(For whatever that's worth). The movie doesn't drag too much, though,I don't think ** out of *****
The Fifth Floor (1978)
Saturday Night Cuckoo's Nest
Although this was made in 1978, I recall seeing this with Don't Go In The House in 1980 at the drive-in theatre. Oddly enough I was attending psychiatric technician training at the time. Bo Hopkins after introducing himself to the unfortunate disco heroine as 'your friendly psychiatric technician' goes on to deliver a good performance with convincing menace beneath a superficial cheery 'therapeutic' demeanor. Sharon Farrell is convincing as a patient. The always creepy Anthony James gives one of his best performances and, horror fans, Robert 'Freddie' Englund is also on hand as a patient. Toss in some disco and you got some kind of late 70's semi-classic drive-in entertainment.If nothing else, watching Bo Hopkins puffing on a cigarette as he worked reminded me of 1980, when it was commonplace to see staff and patients smoking on a unit. Note too, that Bo appears to be working AM, PM (Swing) and Noc shift in this movie. No doubt racking up some good OT money but perhaps driving himself to some of the behaviors he displays. (For me) nostalgic fun ** out of *****
The Black Room (1935)
A must for Karloff fans
especially if you think, like myself, he ranks with the greatest actors of all time. Although it was nice to see The Ghoul get DVD treatment, this would be more deserving as this ranks, as previously reviewed, among his best. I don't know if anybody else notices this; but especially in this movie, it seems Boris has an odd resemblance to Keith Richards at times. Especially when he's playing the evil Gregor and leering and sitting in a chair with a leg over the side. Anyhow nice to find this one even if it is on VHS. Not familiar with other cast members in this one, as its not a Universal setting I'm more familiar seeing Boris in, but the acting is good and the sets are great. The all onyx black room is interesting. I hope Boris will be remembered among the greats as this century progresses.