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Worth a second look
I saw this when it came out at the Nuart in L.A. The whole Wood thing had kind of been played out, several Docs had been done already and the Ed Wood feature had come and gone. Bombed really.
My friend and I made it all the way through and though it was O.K. So I was really surprised when I brought it home the other night from the library and was really impressed. The director tracked down a lot of people I don't think had been interviewed elsewhere. The setting of most of the interviews in there own costumed frame was unique.
I thought it was great that Bela Jr. took back some of the mean things he said on the commentary track! After all, Bela was making bargain basement movies long before he met Ed, some terrible, some pretty good. None as interesting or entertaining as "Plan Nine: though.
One flaw: no credit is given to Ed's cameraman, who is often treated as a joke but I think did some great work making Plan Nine look like no other film.
All an all, though, if Wood interests you at all you should check this out. It's quite funny, and quite moving.
Flash Gordon (1936)
A Great Movie
"Space Soldiers" is the precode Flash, hilarious, sexy, innocent, Freudian classic. The follow up serials are fun but Universal had to tone down the sexual tension of of the Blonde Good girl and the steamy, sexual brunette. Jean Rodgers is unbelievable as the blonde Dale, and they should have kept her that way.
As the end of the world beckons, absolute viral good is pitting against craven, impotent evil for it's own sake. Sex is good, this movie says, and even the bad Princess is good, She just SO much better when She's bad.
"Space Soldiers" should be cleaned up (the print, I mean) and put on Criterion.
train wreck noir
Coming off their career high hit "The Longest Yard" Reynolds and Aldrich tried a highly stylized LA thriller. That was all She wrote for Roburt" productions.
Even at a very young age I took a look at the reviews this film got and was
surprised how easy the critics went on it. Mostly it was ignored and allowed to die.
Aldrich has done good work ("Flight of The Phenix" is among my favorite movies)
but he is so out of his element trying to be stylish here. His efforts come off as
a tasteless slob trying to be classy.
Steve Shagen was slightly hot at the time, with his turgid "Save The Tiger" being
taken seriously in some quarters. But Aldrich should have known this script needed
some serious work or better yet, should have been thrown out all together.
The Dirty Harry/Death Wish element ( A double murderer somehow is let out
out of jail for good behavior, you know, just like real life) is perhaps the worst
bit of audience pandering. Then there is a consenting adults rape that
probably wouldn't go over today.
Visually ugly, terribly edited ( a sign of desperation and bad audience
testing, the film still has a train wreck sort of quality, we all become
bad cinema lookie lous. A great partnership of Burt and Bob was not
to be. Also, when something this cynical is this unconvincing, the result
is oddly upbeat.
The Blob (1958)
Maybe because McQueen went on to be such a big star, perhaps because it was seen by many as kids on afternoon T.V.; but "The Blob" has become a favorite of many, the defining film of it's type.
And that really too bad, because "The Blob" really stinks. Tedious, amateurish, poorly executed at every level. In one scene (due to the connection to producer Jack B. Harris) the audience is laughing at John Parker's fascinating "Daughter Of Horror" and one wants to gag at this derision for a vastly superior film.
It's like watching every cliché of Drive-In teenage movies, and no doubt that is also why people like it. But it's like watching those clichés played in slow motion with no with and style. Which makes me suspicious this is the favorite of this sort of thing for people who really don't like this sort of thing.
The Mummy's Curse (1944)
The last Tana Leaf on the Tree
If "Bride Of Frankenstein" was the crown jewel in Universal Horror, the Mummy sequels were the ankle bracelets from a Cracker Jack's box. Oddly, many kids probably loved these more than the strange and wonderful Karloff "Mummy" where you only got to see him fully wrapped at the beginning.
There must have been some Barton Finks who passed these silly stories around as if they were wresting movies. The idiotic plot is basically retold from the first film. Still, the striking form of the Mummy, oddly invisible to the world beyond the stock characters (didn't anybody EVER notice him?) was oddly effective, as he ever so slowly, inch by inch, approached his prey.
That's about all "Curse" has going for it. The unintentional laughs of the more fun "The Mummy's Ghost" are mostly gone. Thank goodness Boris quit after one.
The Monster Maker (1944)
"Nice work Steve!"
For fans of the odd, PRC delivers again. In a sort of a preview of his Al Adamson days, Naish plays an obsessed Dr. Markoff (if you want good care, mark him off) with one thing and one thing only on his mind. Actually, what's interesting about this movie is how the low budget forces the filmmakers to boil all the plot down to it's absolute basics. Why does the not bad looking nurse go for Markoff? Well, nobody ever said human beings made sense. If your looking to get silly, as Bob Dylan once sang, you could hardly do better. Speaking of Dylan, the plot is not unlike his song, "Seven Curses." And what did happen to Steve once the movie was over? He was only trying to be a good employee, which is about the closest to a decent instinct anyone character has in this movie.
Sisters of Death (1976)
A film to punish dirty old men with...
Stupid. Vulgar. Trashy. Sleazy. Garbage.
8 out of 10 times, I'm there! But "Sisters Of Death" is one of those very, very rare films that can shoot for a lowly, lowly target and miss. This film seems to be made by people who would try and make a porno film and then, keeping the actors fully clothed, have them arm wrestle. I can have great affection for bad or dubious films, but I truly hate "Sisters of Death." I can't stand the people who are in it, the people who made it, or the people who overrate it on IMDb!!
Another thing I hate about SOD is that so many people have apparently seen it on cheap videos. I saw it on my nook on a cheapo public domain movies app. Truly, this is one film that should have never emerged from the lab. Yuck.You can probably see it free on Youtube, as it infects the world with it's presence.
Ring of Terror (1962)
"Jolly Old England..."
The awful "Ring OF Terror" would probably be forgotten about were it not for the excellent MST show it was transformed into. Yet it is an odd genre film with a feel all it's own, a tawdry, inept, bad film to be sure. We keep coming back to the boring issue, and surely it is that.
What no one mentions is the whole thing builds to a SLOW climax regarding the death of Moffit, but the crux of the whole thing is how Moffit accidentally scared himself to death, and it feels like at that point the intention was to explain how he did it (they certainly didn't explain it very well) but at that point the old cemetery narrator has to rap things up fast: the movie has wasted too much time endless scenes of unfunny comic relief, lackluster talk, and slow moving unnecessary pacing. In short, it's a casebook example on how not to make this kind of movie.
Some of the actors went on to have kind of careers, which is nice. And as others have stated, this looks like it was made some years before it's actual release/escape. It does have a sense of dullness all it's own, but check out the MST3K version if you need to slog through it. And kill that guy.
How Awful About Allan (1970)
You can call me Alful
Perhaps it's because these two extreme talents are now gone that the waste of "How Awful About Allen" seems more acute. As a made for TV affair it would just be forgettable dreck where it not for the presence of Perkins and Harris, two great stars with one genre classic each to there credit long before they punched the clock on "Allen." From the dubious pen of the much loved "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane", though I find that one of the more distasteful films in horror history. But there is nothing to repel you about Allen. The answer to the title question would actually be: "Not so awful. It helped put me to sleep." The wonderful Joan Hackett is pretty much wasted too.
Sexy Beast (2000)
For Those Who Find Implausibility a Turn On SPOILERS
This type of Brit Noir was just coming into vogue when "Sexy Beast" came out; though I find it sort of a cross between "The Hit" and one of those dumb things by Madonna's ex husband. A clever touch here and there, but this is a woefully overrated film.
I guess if you can understand how Spanish Airport security would be intimidated by an absolutely ridiculous claim of sexual molestation from an obvious lunatic, well, this is your movie. Not much else here is more credible than that, from the heist of the super villain of the impenetrable fortress which obviously lacks the most basic alarm system. Super ruthless, powerful bad guy shows up at your door in the middle of the night? Sure, let him in, he probably won't kill you.
Kingsley's celebrated performance is fine but he's been better elsewhere. No fault can really be found with any of the cast. Often Noir is concerned with the desperate lives of the hopeless people who turn to crime. This is sort of an interesting wrinkle on that, though we are never really told just what Gal's hapless buddy did, and how such a person could have been much of a criminal in the first place.