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I love this 1992 Lifetime Movie starring Shannen Doherty as Lorie Brindel, a young woman who becomes involved in a relationship with Ed Bledsoe (capably played by the stalwart William Devane), a man old enough to be her father. Lorie is unstable and has a daddy complex, not a good combination. The movie really gets reved up when Ed decides to dump the wackadoodle Lorie. The movie is supposed to be serious, i.e. Lorie's stalking of Ed and her suicide attempt, but it was just hilarious. The whole thing is over the top, from the clichéd dialog, tacky 90's clothes and big hair, and Shannen's performance. It is a guilty pleasure from start to finish.
The Creature Walks Among Us (1956)
The Creature In Pants!
I like this 1956 movie, the last of the Gill Man trilogy, following "The Creature From The Black Lagoon" and "Revenge Of The Creature".
The plot is simple...a rich, yet unstable scientist, Dr. Barton (portrayed with intensity by Jeff Morrow) puts together a team of doctors to find the Gill Man in the Florida everglades. Even though the Creature has been "killed off" at the end of the previous two movies, he inexplicably has been resurrected once again to be captured by the scientists for study. The Creature was badly burned, resulting in his gills being burned off, but hey, that's not a problem as the scientists discover he also has a set of human lungs. No, it doesn't make a lot of sense but you have to suspend your disbelief with these movies.
As a secondary subplot we have Dr. Barton's trophy wife Marcia (played by pretty actress Leigh Snowden) along to cause jealousy with her husband as a lecherous Greg Palmer makes play after play for her, even though she shows no interest in him. Rex Reason is the "good guy", a doctor also on board as the voice of sanity and a sounding board for the unhappy Marcia.
After the expedition captures the Creature and he has healed from his burns, they take him to Dr. Barton's home for additional study where for some bizarre reason they dress him in a shirt and pants...it is unintentionally hilarious to see. He then goes on a rampage after witnessing the murder of Greg Palmer's character by the insanely jealous Dr. Barton who then tries to pin the murder on the Creature. He kills the Doctor and then escapes, and by that time I was rooting for him! You can't but help have sympathy for this poor creature that was through no fault of his own taken from his natural environment and subjected to to being caged, studied and humiliated by having to wear a really bad suit. It all adds up to a lot of fun to watch!
Black Magic (1944)
Low budget, but watch because of Mantan Morland!
Like a lot of the Charlie Chan films that were filmed by Monogram Studios in the 1940's this short running (67 minutes)film is very low budget. Despite this, it is still a fun movie, mostly due to the comic shenanigans of Mantan Morland who played Charlie Chan's servant Birmingham Brown in several of the Charlie Chan movies. Morland was a comic genius and his bug eyed, cowardly portrayal helps add some much needed comic relief to this film.
Sidney Toler, back again as Charlie Chan, had his role down pat in this, his 14th time to portray the genial Chinese detective on screen. Unlike some of the other Chan movies he doesn't have one of his sons working with him, but his daughter Frances, portrayed by the appropriately named actress Frances Chan. Although Frances is obviously not an experienced actress, I still like her portrayal, she is obviously having a ball and her smiling persona is hard not to like.
Frances attends a séance at a house run by 2 phony mediums, Justine and William Bonner. Mr. Bonner is shot during the séance and everyone who is attending the séance, including Frances, become suspects. Being the daughter of the famous detective comes in handy as Charlie begins to investigate the crime to clear his beloved daughter's name. Mantan Morland is on the scene having being hired by the Bonners to clean and run their household and his scaredy cat act is hilarious to watch. I love this movie despite it's cheap sets and silly plot. If you are a Charlie Chan fan you need to see this, and if not, watch it to see Mantan Morland.
When Michael Calls (1972)
Creepy 1970's Made for T.V. Movie
"When Michael Calls" was made in 1972 and stars Elizabeth Ashely as Helen Connelly, a woman going through a divorce from her high powered attorney husband (Ben Gazzara) and has moved to a small New England town with her young daughter Peggy (Karen Pearson). Her nephew Craig (portrayed by a young Michael Douglas)is a psychiatrist at the Greenleaf School for Boys, an institution in the same town for troubled young men.
Things begin to get scary when Helen starts receiving eerie calls from a young boy who claims to be Michael, her nephew (and Craig's brother) who died 15 years earlier after he ran away from home in a snowstorm. You have to remember this movie was made long before there were cell phones or caller id, and the calls are genuinely creepy.
My only complaint about this movie is that I wish that the makers of this film would have spent more time answering some basic questions such as why would the calls start suddenly after 15 years? Who is the voice of the young boy on the other end of the line? These questions are never explained and I think it would have been nice to have the answers to these basic questions. There are a couple of not real scary murders until the killer is revealed at the end. Despite some minor flaws, I love this movie and remember watching it when I was a kid when it came out in 1972. I recently got to see it again when it aired on the Fox Movie Channel. It was also fun to see Michael Douglas in the picture as he is very young and basically at the beginning of his long and storied career. Fans of 1970's Movie of the Week will definitely have to see this one!
First Man Into Space (1959)
Obscure 50's Sci-Fi Thriller
"First Man into Space" is a somewhat overlooked 1950's sci-fi movie that stars the always reliable Marshall Thompson as Commander Chuck Prescott whose test pilot brother, Lt. Dan Prescott, (portrayed by Bill Edwards) wants to be the first man into space. Lt. Dan disobeys his brothers'and the governments' orders and takes his space capsule farther than any other man has before, and of course, it has disastrous consequences. Dan is turned into a hideously deformed creature who looks like a cross between a pile of concrete and a one eyed cyclops who must drink blood in order to survive.
I like the fact that this movie combined sci-fi with a horror element. The makeup of the tormented Lt. Dan as the creature is truly creepy. The special effects of course are hilarious to watch as they are so dated, but of course this film was made in the late 1950's so this has to be taken into consideration.
Marla Landi portrays Lt. Dan's girlfriend and Robert Ayres rounds out the cast as the gung-ho police captain who is on the hunt for the monster.
This definitely isn't the best sci-fi movie of the 1950's, but it is a fun movie to watch.
Should have been called No Beast instead of Snowbeast...
This movie, made in 1977, was filmed in the decade where scary "Movies of the Week" was all the rage (think of "Don't be Araid of the Dark", for example..made for TV or not, this was a truly terrifying film). That's why I was disappointed with this interesting little film. The Snowbeast was a scary creature when it was shown, but literally, I don't think the Beast was on screen for more than a couple of minutes, which was a shame.
The movie centers around several mysterious and bloody deaths on slopes near a ski lodge in Colorado ran by Mrs. Rill (Sylvia Sidney) and her grandson Tony (Robert Logan). Added to the mix is the town sheriff (Clint Walker) and Tony's ex-girlfriend Ellen (Yvette Mimieux) and her husband Gar (Bo Svenson), an ex-pro skier who is suffering from some kind of mid-life crisis/depression. Tony is still attracted to Ellen but is friends with Gar..it was kind of confusing and the "love triangle" detracted (for me, anyway) from the real plot of the movie. The movie at times dragged when it centered on Gar's depression and Tony's lingering feelings for Ellen. There were some eerie moments, such as when the Snowbeast was stalking it's prey and the music was appropriately creepy in building a sense of approaching doom, similar to the "Jaws" soundtrack. I just wish they would have spent more time showing the Snowbeast. This would have brought this movie from being okay to really scary.
The Parent Trap (1961)
A movie that is close to my heart...
As an identical twin who was born the year this film came out, it for obvious reasons holds a special place in my heart. I remember watching it on TV as a little girl with my identical twin sister and we loved every minute of it! We could obviously relate to the incredibly close (yet at times frustrating) bond shared by Sharon and Susan, played by the delightful Hayley Mills. I don't think that you have to be a twin to have fun with this movie. It is a delight on all levels.
Maureen O'Hara (at the height of her great beauty in this film) and the ruggedly handsome Brian Keith are perfectly cast in their roles as the twins divorced parents. A great cast of supporting players that include Charles Ruggles, Una Merkel, Joanna Barnes and Leo G. Carroll just add to the talent that went into making this picture. They just don't make movies like this anymore, family movies that are great for everyone to watch without being overly sappy or dull. It makes me long for the good old days.
For a fun family movie night don't waste your time on the remake with Lindsey Lohan. Rent this little gem, pop some popcorn and curl up with your kids and have a good laugh. They'll enjoy it as much as you will!
The Leech Woman (1960)
Great "B" Flick
This movie has gotten a bad rap, I think mainly because of the inane title. It conjures up a ridiculous image of a giant leech with a purse and high heels on. This movie is actually pretty good, given it's low budget.
Coleen Gray, a very pretty and capable actress in her day, gives a great performance as June Talbot, the alcoholic, middle aged woman married to Dr. Paul Talbott (portrayed as a total heel by Phillip Terry, better known as Joan Crawford's 4th husband). Dr. Talbott is a scientist who is trying to find a serum to counter aging and is willing to sacrifice his wife in order to find the answer.
The performances by Gray and Terry are solid, as is Gloria Talbott who plays Dr. Talbott's assistant and Grant Williams, Dr. Talbott's lawyer and Gloria's boyfriend who falls under the spell of "The Leech Woman". Estelle Hemsley is also good as an old African woman who looks like a human prune and offers to show the good doctor the secret to turn back the effects of aging, for a very steep price, of course.
I thought the make up of the Leech Woman was very affective, pretty scary stuff for it's day. Don't let the title of this movie keep you from watching...it's very entertaining, from start to finish.
Holiday Inn (1942)
Fun Holiday Classic
I know this 1942 movie isn't played as much around Christmas as other holiday classics such as "It's a Wonderful Life", and "White Christmas", and for the life of me, I can't figure out why. After all, this was the movie that brought us the all time best-selling Christmas song, "White Christmas".
The movie is just wonderful...it has a terrific cast of Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, and who can overlook the wonderful Irving Berling score of songs. Bing is perfectly cast as Jim Hardy, a singer who is burned out and quits show business to open up a quaint inn in Connecticut where he stages shows for 15 holidays a year. Fred Astaire is equally good portraying Ted Hanover, a dancer and Jim's former show business partner who steals Jim's fiancée and singing partner, Lila (actress Virginia Dale). The lovely Marjorie Reynolds plays Linda Mason, a young singer/dancer who gets hired by Bing to perform at the shows at Holiday Inn, and who becomes the love interest of both Bing and Fred, after Lila dumps him.
The songs include "White Christmas", "Easter Parade", and several others. The controversial number, "Abraham", written for Abraham Lincoln's birthday, consists of Bing and Marjorie Reynolds in blackface. Although not considered politically correct now, this wasn't that unusual for movies of that time period. Fred Astaire has several great dance numbers,and his firecracker dance number is just terrific. He is usually associated with a dance partner, i.e., Ginger Rogers, but this difficult and incredible dance number shows his skill as a solo dancer.
This is my all time favorite holiday movie and highly recommend it. It's just fun all the way around.
Girl Happy (1965)
"Dig right in and do The Clam..."
This fun 1965 movie starring Elvis Presley and Shelley Fabares should be put in a time capsule for a movie representing the carefree mid-1960's in America. Kids were still fairly innocent, the Vietnam War hadn't jaded the country and the drugs that pervaded the late 1960's weren't as prevalent the time this movie was made.
Elvis plays Rusty Wells, a musician hired by a mobster Big Frank (Harold Stone) to guard his daughter Valerie (the lovely Miss Fabares) who has gone with some girlfriends to Ft. Lauderdale on Spring break. Valerie doesn't know her overprotective father has hired Rusty and his group of rag tag musicians to watch her, and of course, she and Elvis fall in love.
The movie is similar in some ways to "Where the Boys Are", but is not as serious. Of course, with it being an Elvis picture, we have to have the Pelvis sing in several cheesy but fun song and dance numbers. The songs "Girl Happy" and "Do the Clam" are classic cornball songs, but fun to watch. This movie was one of my favorites from my childhood and it is amazing to me how I can still remember the lyrics to these songs after all these years! Elvis never was a great actor, and over the years his movie roles kept getting sillier and sillier, but this movie, silly as parts of it are, is still a lot of fun to watch. And boy was Elvis hot when he was young!