Reviews written by registered user
Woodyanders

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4641 reviews in total 
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What's real and what's staged?, 24 May 2017
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Perplexed businessman Arthur Curtis (a fine and riveting performance by Howard Duff) discovers much to his dismay that he's on a sound stage in another life in which he's a film star.

Director Ted Post keeps the compelling story moving along at a brisk pace and ably crafts an intriguing enigmatic atmosphere. Richard Matheson's clever, yet rather opaque script can be read in a number of fascinating ways: It could just as well be about a hardcore Method actor getting too much into his latest role or a simple tale of a stressed-out everyman losing touch with reality, while the ending makes a provocative existential statement about taking charge of one's life regardless of whether it's either genuine or imagined. The sound acting keeps things humming: David White as worried agent Brinkley, Frank Maxwell as no-nonsense director Marty Fisher, Eileen Ryan as bitter ex-wife Nora, Gail Kobe as perky and attractive secretary Sally, and Pete Walker as concerned producer Sam. An interesting show.

Definitely not for the kiddies, 23 May 2017
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A bunch of ribald adult comics known as Tijuana bibles are enacted in skits by live performers. Director Anthony Spinelli and writers Paul Pervertt and Miles Muff maintain an infectiously zany and bawdy tone throughout, deliver a wealth of lovably bad cornball puns that are often hysterically awful, and keep the loopy antics zipping along at a brisk pace. The wacky costumes, grotesque make-up on men's faces, and deliberately crude sets all nicely evoke the colorful, yet primitive style of vintage comic artwork. Moreover, it's acted with zest by such familiar 70's porn people as Rick Lutze, Nina Fause, Cyndee Summers, Angela Carnon, Keith Erickson, and even the ubiquitous George "Buck" Flower as a flasher. Naturally, the explicit sex shown herein isn't remotely erotic, but it's certainly not every day that you get to see either Blondie or Betty Boop do the beast of two backs. In addition, this enjoyable oddity does a neat job of tracing the history and evolution of naughty comics starting in the roaring 1920's. A real raunchy hoot.

Worthy 70's Southern-fried drive-in opus, 22 May 2017
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ex-con and former high school football star Poke Jackson (a solid and likable performance by Timothy Bottoms) returns to his small country home town only to discover that his old flame Mary Lee (a fine and charming portrayal by Susan George) is now involved with the corrupt sheriff Duke (Bo Hopkins in peak slimy form), who also was responsible for sending Poke up the river in the first place.

Director Jack Starrett, working from a compelling script by William A. Norton, keeps the engrossing and entertaining story moving along at a steady pace, offers a strong and flavorsome rural redneck hamlet atmosphere, and stages several exciting action set pieces with his trademark rip-snorting gusto. Bottoms and George display a winning and convincing chemistry as the personable main characters; they receive able support from Morgan Woodward as flinty local bigwig C.J. Crane, John Karlen as bumbling deputy Lenny, Art Hindle as amiable grease monkey Boogie, and George "Buck" Flower in an especially lively and funny turn as scruffy hick hell-raiser Bull Parker. Both Charles Bernstein's spirited harmonic score and Robert C. Jessup's sharp widescreen cinematography are up to par. A fun flick.

China Girl (1975)
Gotta love Annette Haven, 22 May 2017
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A nefarious organization run by the ruthless Madame Woo (fetching Pamela Yen) and the even more merciless Y.C. Chan (veteran character actor James Hong in fine slimy form) plot to acquire the formula for a mind control serum. The organization abduct biochemist Teresa Hardgrave (a solid and charming performance by the stunning Annette Haven) in order to get part of the formula's recipe from her only to find out that Hardgrave is more than game for the various forms of carnal torture they have in mind for her.

Director Paul Aratow, working from a clever script by Edwin Brown, relates the enjoyable story at a steady pace, makes neat use of various San Francisco locations, and further spice things up with amusing touches of witty humor. The sex scenes are quite passionate and arousing, with the sequence in which Annette takes on and wears out three hunky guys rating as a definite scorching highlight. Tom Douglass lends sturdy support as dashing and handsome agent David Chase. Best of all, the delectable Mrs. Haven handles her sexual duties with tremendous uninhibited aplomb. Moreover, it also helps that such lovely ladies as Bonnie Holiday and Sharon Thorpe are on hand to participate in a steamy lesbian session with Annette. Red Dawson's crisp cinematography provides an attractive bright look. Hadley Caliman's funky-throbbing score hits the get-down groovy spot. Recommending viewing for both Annette Haven fans and Golden Age hardcore cinema aficionados in general.

The worst monsters are the human kind, 19 May 2017
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Strange and puzzling occurrences on a heretofore quiet and peaceful suburban street cause the residents who live on it to become suspicious of each other to the point where they start turning on one another.

Director Ron Watson not only firmly grounds the chilling and gripping premise in a totally plausible everyday small town reality, but also ably crafts a strong and unsettling mood of mounting dread, unease, and paranoia. The fine acting by the bang-up cast keeps things humming, with especially stand-out contributions from Claude Akins as pragmatic voice of reason Steve Brand, Barry Atwater as the defensive Les Goodman, Jack Warden as hot-headed troublemaker Charlie Farnsworth, and Jan Handzlik as excitable and over-imaginative kid Tommy. Rod Serling's pungent script makes a frightening central point on how man's capacity for fear, anger, bias, and prejudice can lead to his own downfall and ruination as well as demonstrates with terrifying lucidity how a few unusual and inexplicable events can easily escalate into a catastrophe. One of this show's most powerful and disturbing half hours.

Night Terrors (2014/VI)
Enjoyable horror anthology outing, 18 May 2017
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Resentful sister Maddie (nicely played to the snarky hilt by Alyssa Benner) tells three tales of terror to her bratty younger brother: A psycho dressed up as Santa (a creepy portrayal by Brandon Edging) embarks on a murderous spree on Christmas day; obsessed mad scientist Dr. Herbert Cain (a sympathetic performance by Richard Hackel) does questionable experiments on unwilling subjects in order to save his dying daughter; and a lethal flesh-eating venereal disease spreads through a college campus.

Writers/directors Jason Zink and Alex Lukens relate the entertaining stories at a snappy pace, deliver a handy helping of in-your-face graphic and gruesome gore, adroitly craft a fun spooky ooga-booga atmosphere, and maintain a harsh grim tone throughout. While the first segment rates as generic slasher fare and hence isn't anything special, the other two vignettes are much stronger and more unsettling thanks to their unflinchingly bleak moods and downbeat endings. Christopher P. Purdy's gritty widescreen cinematography neatly captures the mangy look of a beat-up VHS tape complete with dropouts and tracking issues. A nifty omnibus flick.

Marjoe (1972)
Hustling for Jesus, 17 May 2017
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Child prodigy evangelist Marjoe Gortner exposes the itinerant Pentecostal church tent revival circuit as a total money-grubbing scam after having a crisis of conscience and deciding to pursue an acting career in the wake of finishing one final tour across the country.

Directors Howard Smith and Sarah Kernochan do a remarkably vivid and compelling job of painting an intriguing and provocative portrait of a hugely likable and charismatic, yet deeply conflicted and cynical person who's more than happy to reveal such tricks of the trade as talking in tongues, making people pass out by claiming to channel the spirit of God and touching their foreheads, and collecting donations for worthy charitable causes as the complete shams that they are. Moreover, one not only has to admire Gortner for having the guts and integrity for coming clean about his being a slick phony, but also you even feel sorry for Gortner considering that his strict and overbearing parents forced him at the age of four to become a child preacher -- the archive footage of precious toddler Gortner officiating a wedding is simply incredible! -- and even abused him if he didn't do their bidding (they also eventually made off with all the money he made for them!). In addition, Gortner sure puts on one hell of an electrifying show as he preaches fire and brimstone sermons to the gullible God-fearing masses that he's contriving to bilk out of their hard-earned cash. A mesmerizing depiction of a sly huckster.

Ingenious indie horror sleeper, 17 May 2017
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Pushy reporter Frank Stewart (well played to the obnoxious hilt by Paul Fahrenkopf) and a team of paranormal experts check out the notorious Webber house to confirm if it's actually haunted during a live television broadcast on Halloween night in 1987.

Director/co-writer Chris LaMartina not only nicely pegs a fun spooky ooga-booga Halloween atmosphere, but also further spices things up with amusing touches of inspired droll humor and ably crafts a strong mood of gradual mounting dread which culminates in a genuinely startling climax. The sound acting by the capable cast helps a lot, with especially commendable contributions from Nicolette le Faye as plucky producer Veronica Stanze, Leena Chamish as cheery newscaster Deborah Merritt, Richard Cutting as stuffed shirt anchorman Gavin Gordon, Brian St. August as fey occultist Dr. Louis Berger, Helenmarry Bell as kooky medium Claire Berger, Robert Long II as the earnest Father Joseph Matheson, and George Stover as hammy horror show host Dr. Bloodwrench. Best of all, this film astutely captures the actual look and feel of a corny small local TV station broadcast gleaned from a moldy old VHS tape print source complete with occasional wonky tracking issues and a hilarious slew of spot-on faux TV commercials. A worthy little fright flick.

Scuzzy slasher schlock with Joe Spinell in his last lead role, 16 May 2017
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Deranged mortician Uncle Roscoe (the singular Joe Spinell in peak creepy, slimy, and sweaty form) murders folks in a sleepy small town as a means of keeping his business afloat and stores their mangled bodies as gruesome souvenirs in the basement of his funeral home.

Director Frank Steffanino, who's actually a pseudonym for no less than four different people (!), and screenwriter William Kennedy really go out of their way to scrupulously cover the sleazy exploitation cinema bases: We've got a pleasing plethora of leering gratuitous female nudity, an unsparingly sordid tone, cheesy gore, and a warped subtext about necrophilia for that extra icky kick. With the notable exception of Spinell, the rest of the lame no-name cast all give laughably atrocious performances, with Martha Somoeman in particular copping the grand thespic booby prize with her supremely irritating portrayal of shrewish old bat Hazel. The plodding pace, meandering narrative, and ludicrous surprise shock ending further enhance this film's considerable cruddy charm. A total trashy hoot.

Seeing double, 16 May 2017
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Millicent Barnes (a fine performance by Vera Miles) suspects that a doppelganger is trying to take over her life while waiting at a rundown station for a bus.

Director John Brahm keeps the compelling story moving along at a steady pace, adroitly crafts an intriguing enigmatic atmosphere, and milks the dark and stormy night gloom doom mood at the desolate bus station setting for maximum creepy impact. Rod Serling's absorbing script brings up an interesting and provocative central point about the possibility of having an exact double in a parallel world. Moreover, the intense and excellent acting by Miles really holds everything together; she receives sturdy support from Martin Milner as the amiable Paul Grinstead, Joseph Hamilton as a cranky ticket agent, and Naomi Stevens as a kindly washroom attendant. The metaphysical surprise ending is a startling doozy. An on the money show.


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