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Should have been better
24 September 1999
"TZTM" is a blown opportunity. Not that it's a bad film. Just a disappointment considering all the material to choose from. Only the final story is worthy of a repeat for this film. After a nifty pre-credit opening we settle in for some good scares but have to wait nearly 90 minutes for them. Story one is now known only as the sequence in which Vic Morrow was killed. As a bigot fed-up with minorities getting the promotions he feels he deserves, Morrow is thrust out into the zone where he is treated as a minority would be. It's an interesting premise by writer/director John Landis that ends abruptly and unsatisfactorily no doubt due to the horrific accident during filming. But why do an original? Zone fans want to see their favorites updated.

Steven Spielberg helms story two called "Kick the Can" which is a nice enough story but nothing special. Things get moving in story three with Joe Dante's tale of a child who can read minds and will things to happen. Good effects but, again, nothing special. But it's the last story, "Nightmare at 40,000 Feet" that saves the film with John Lithgow as a VERY nervous plane passenger who sees a creature outside his window damaging the engines. It's scary and we expect from the Twilight Zone.
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Neighbors (1981)
A stinker
24 September 1999
This was a golden opportunity shot to hell. The story of a meek businessman in suburbia whose life is turned upside down in a 24 hour period by his wild new neighbors. The casting of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd seems inspired. But some dimwit got the bright idea of giving Aykroyd the wild role and Belushi the meek one. Why? Because we saw Belushi play it in "Animal House" and "1941?" Well that was what he was good at. But we try in vain to watch Belushi act mild mannered and we wait for him to explode which he does in the last scene which is a decent one. Other then that there are no big laughs and just a few chuckles. Cathy Moriarty is nice to look at but that is it.

And the musical score by Bill Conti gets my vote as the worst score ever for a major motion picture. This film is a HUGE disappointment.
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When ideas ran out
24 September 1999
"When Time Ran Out" is the film that killed the disaster movie. And no wonder. It's an awful film about a volcano that erupts and the traditional all star cast striving for survival in its aftermath. There is no tension, no excitement, no nothing. It's a yawner from start to finish and an embarrassment for Paul Newman and William Holden who must have earned big salaries to see thru the witless script and do this film.
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Trilogy of Terror (1975 TV Movie)
Skip to the last story
24 September 1999
"Trilogy of Terror" is three short stories all starring Karen Black. The first two are rather boring, mundane stories that are utterly predictable right up to their "surprise endings." If you can get thru the first two stories then hold your hats and get ready for a great chiller. Black plays a woman who buys a doll that comes to life and terrorizes her. It is a truly frightening segment (even though it was made for tv). Had the first two stories come close to this one it would have been a classic.
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Airport 1975 (1974)
A dumb sequel
24 September 1999
You would think with the phenomenally successful "Airport" to work from they could have come up with something better than this. "Airport 1975" (released in the fall of 74) tells the story of a jumbo jet that is hit in mid-air by a smaller plane disabling or killing the three men in the cockpit. In steps Karen Black as the head stewardess who has to try to save the day. Good thing for her she has Charlton Heston as a boyfriend. The cast is largely made up of tv actors and has beens with top honors going to Helen Reddy as a singing nun.

If you are in a goofy mood then tune in. It's not horrible by any means. It's a step below the next film "Airport 77" but a classic compared to the final film "Concorde Airport 79."
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Nifty little movie
24 September 1999
This is probably one of those movies you have not really heard much about. All I can say is it's a nifty little movie with a terrific ending.

Henry Fonda plays a gambler at a high stakes poker game. During a big hand he suddenly has a heart attack. But knowing he has a great hand (which we haven't seen) he begs his wife to take over and finish the hand. Then she must use her resources to get money to continue the wagering.

An enjoyable western/comedy that keeps you alert and guessing right up to the end.
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Drive-In (1976)
Nothing great but a nostalgia trip now.
21 September 1999
"Drive-In" is a B movie about a night out at the local drive-in. It's a comedy that isn't terribly funny with acting that is less than stellar. But there are two reasons to watch it anyway. One is the movie within the movie which is showing on the screen called "Disaster 76." It's a send up of all the disaster films of that era and is very funny. Maybe the filmmakers should have filmed that film instead. The other reason is if you are a fan of the drive-in which is all but dead in many areas now. It harkens back memories and is a true journey into nostalgia. If you are not a fan then you may want to skip it.
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Matthau at his best
21 September 1999
Walter Matthau was at the peak of his career in the 1970's and "The Bad News Bears" is one of his very best performances. As a drunken loser, he is cajoled (bribed is more like it) into coaching a bunch of kids in little league. These kids are the worst athletes imaginable. But as the season goes on a girl (the terrific Tatum O'Neal) and the local hood join the team and the mayhem turns to some good baseball.

"The Bad News Bears" is a very funny film and most realistic in its depiction of little league baseball. The kids are fun and the adults are goofs. And I liked that the ending is somewhat unexpected. A nice change of pace for a sports film.
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Earthquake (1974)
A bad movie junkie's dream come true.
21 September 1999
You know how dumb "Earthquake" is going to be almost right away. A drunken Ava Gardner screams an obscenity to hubby Charlton Heston in the film's very first scene. It's the usual all star cast trying to survive the title disaster and the viewer taking bets as to which will survive. On the plus side there is a funny cameo by Walter Matthau that is stretched throughout the film. And the special effects are very well done for a film in that time. The one thing home viewers miss is that it was in SENSURROUND. This was simply 4 large speakers located at the front and back of the theater that rumbled during the earthquake scenes. It was silly but a nice touch to an otherwise dismal film. And my vote for worst casting goes to Lorne Greene playing Ava Gardner's FATHER. But if you are a fan of the silly disaster film (as I am) then this is one for you.
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A New Leaf (1971)
An almost forgotten comedy classic
21 September 1999
Few people have ever even heard of "A New Leaf" and that is a shame. It is one of the funniest films in the last 30 years. Walter Matthau plays a spoiled rich man who discovers that his fortune is gone and he needs to marry in a short time to save what little he has left. His solution? Woo a rich woman, marry her, and kill her all in a week. So he picks the nerdy, klutzy, and not so attractive Elaine May (brilliant...she also wrote and directed) whose love is flowers. The film then follows Matthau as he attempts to carry out his plan. This film is full of BIG laughs and should be seen by anyone who loves a good comedy.
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Comedy classic
21 September 1999
Get some popcorn, sit down and relax for three hours, and get ready to laugh steadily. This is a comedy classic. It's the story of a group of people who witness a car accident. As the man lays dying he tells them all of the money he has hidden. Then it is off to the races as they all go looking for it. All of the greatest comedians appear (though most in cameos). Half the fun is picking them all out. Spencer Tracy has the lead as the disgruntled police detective who takes more than a passing interest in the money as well. All the performances are top notch with Jonathan Winters, Dick Shawn, Buddy Hackett, and Phil Silvers as the standouts. The scene where Winters single handedly destroys a gas station is worth the price alone.
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Movie Movie (1978)
A Movie Lover's Gem
5 September 1999
"Movie Movie" is an absolute gem that few people have even heard of. It's a throwback to the days of old when you went to the movies and stayed all day long. In this film we are treated to two short films (one in color, one in b&w) that sandwich an assortment of coming attractions and other goodies from a bygone era.

George C. Scott stars in both short films. One is a boxing movie and the other is a musical. This film is hard to find but does pop up occasionally on cable. I suggest looking for this at your local video store. It's a real gem for anyone who ever loved going to the movies then and now.
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Hilarious sexy romp
5 September 1999
This film is a very funny, very sexy take on life as a married man and all the inclinations to cheating. Walter Matthau plays a happily married (to the sexy Inger Stevens) man who decides he might want to have an affair. Enter best friend Robert Morse who teaches him the do's and dont's of cheating. With each tale Morse spins we see the story acted out with the aid of some of Hollywood's biggest stars. The segments with Lucille Ball and Art Carney and the one with Carl Reiner are standouts.

For a good laugh this is a top choice.
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The Car (1977)
4 September 1999
Well bad movie lovers this is the movie for you. "The Car" is a "thriller" so mind bogglingly awful that it would have come off better being marketed as a comedy.

It's a Jaws ripoff about a mysterious black car that appears one day in a desert community and starts killing the townspeople. Policeman James Brolin (who is awful) is hot on the trail. It's funny to watch this car just appear, do its thing, and drive off. Where does it go? Where did it come from? Is there a driver? The script never addresses these issues. And the worst part is the script doesn't play fair. In some scenes the car appears to be supernatural as it disappears in front of our eyes. But in other scenes, such as when a woman throws a tree limb at it, the car appears hopelessly natural and real.

So if you want to watch a really bad thriller with some decent actors (including Ronny Cox and John Marley) embarrassing themselves then get some popcorn, sit back, relax, and prepare to either laugh your head off or be properly disgusted at the cheap product on the screen.
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Windows (1980)
Awful Movie
2 September 1999
Warning: Spoilers
"Windows" had the distinction of being the very first film released in the decade of the 80's. It was as ominous beginning to the decade as it turned out to be the year's worst film.

Talia Shire plays a woman who is raped and then becomes the victim of a psychopathic lesbian who has her eyes set on Shire. Yes you read that right. The most ridiculous scene in the film comes when Shire catches a cab and recognizes the driver as the rapist. She gets him to pull over. What does she do? Run like hell? I think not. She calls the police and is instructed...get get BACK in the cab until the police can find her and trail her.

This film is mind numbingly awful. It was the directing debut of noted cinematographer Gordon Willis. It's easy to see why he never directed again.
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Flash Gordon (1980)
What went wrong?
2 September 1999
After all these years it still amazes me how big a blunder this film is. The Buster Crabbe serials of the 30's were classics compared to this bust. Why did they camp it up? Why did the filmmakers forget that one of the pleasures of the serial was the cheap sets and effects? It's a big mistake trying to make this film funny but then spending millions in special effects that looked cheap but weren't meant to. Why not make it look cheap in a campy style? Have fun with it. Either do it one way or the other.

The biggest problem with the film is the casting of the two leads. Sam J Jones and Melody Anderson as Flash and Dale Arden are both just awful. With all the money spent couldn't they have gotten two leads who could act? The only two performances worth noting are Topol as Dr. Zarkoff and Max Von Sydow, inspired casting, as Ming the Mercilles. Even the score by Queen is overdone. This film is a mess.
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Sad conclusion to a great career.
2 September 1999
The ONLY reason "Avalanche Express" will ever be mentioned again is that actor Robert Shaw died while the film was in production. Sadly even his voice is heard only briefly in two scenes. The rest of his lines had to be dubbed.

It is one of those goofy espionage thrillers with a large cast of mostly has beens that were popular in the 70's. Where else can you see a movie with Joe Namath, Linda Evans, AND Lee Marvin? Yes, bad movie lovers, this is the film for you.

For fans of Shaw , probably any other film he made is better then this one. Pay tribute to this fine actor by watching "The Sting," "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3," "Jaws," or "Black Sunday." Let this drivel disappear into oblivion as it was meant to.
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Taut, suspense thriller
28 August 1999
"The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3" is an exciting, suspense thriller involving the hijacking of a subway car one afternoon in New York City. The four assailants (headed by the brilliant Robert Shaw) ask for one million dollars in one hour or one hostage will be shot every minute they are late. Walter Matthau as a transit cop turns in one of his best performances as he spends the movie negotiating with Shaw to keep the hostages alive.

The film is fast paced and thrilling in this race against time. And the final scene between Matthau and Martin Balsam, playing one of the assailants, is a beauty.

Highly recommended to fans of action films or Walter Matthau.
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King Kong (1976)
Guilty pleasure
27 August 1999
When this film was released at Christmas of 1976 it was billed as "the motion picture event of our time." Now it seems a bit extreme but as an eager 11 year old I was sucked in. Looking at it today I admit it's certainly far from being a motion picture event. But the film has its virtues none more so then the fine performances by Jeff Bridges and Charles Grodin (in an unusual villianous role). And let's not forget the beautiful musical score by John Barry.

The special effects are pretty cheap in many scenes so don't be looking for top notch in that category. I don't know....on the whole it's really not that great but I must confess that every time it is on television I watch it. This is a true guilty pleasure.
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Bolero (1984)
As bad as it gets
26 August 1999
Yes "Bolero" is that bad. Sure seeing Bo Derek nude is a pleasure. But you could save time and money and look at a vintage issue of Playboy.

And the plot? What plot? Bo has a lover who is impotent. She tries to....ahem....cure him. And the last scene is a howler. Yes I am going to ruin it. He is finally able to perform sexually with Bo and as they do we actually see NEON signs that say : ECSTASY.

Yes it is true. I am not making this up. Who would have ever thought that Derek's version of Tarzan could ever look like a classic in comparison to any other film?
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Airport (1970)
The first and the best
26 August 1999
Airport is the one that started it all. The first disaster movie that allowed many others to follow. Some good...most not. This is far and away the best of the bunch.

Sure the characters are cardboard and not three dimensional. Sure it is silly. But it's fun. George Kennedy chews scenery here like a pro. And the two set pieces, the stuck plane and the mad bomber, keep things suspenseful. And the musical score is rousing and exciting.

No it isn't Spielberg or Shakespeare. It's just two hours of excitement. What more can you ask for?
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Newman at his best.
26 August 1999
Cool Hand Luke is the ultimate guy movie with the ultimate movie star....Paul Newman. He plays a bored guy in a small town who gets drunk and cuts the heads off of parking meters. This lands him in jail where we spend the rest of the movie watching him (as Luke) and his fellow inmates. George Kennedy turns in the performance of his career as a fellow inmate who takes his time warming up to the headstrong Luke.

The film has many stand out sequences....the poker game....the tarring of the street....and of course the egg eating scene.

Also noteworthy is Lalo Schifrin's simple but effective musical score.

This film is a must see for any true movie lover.
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Watch this movie if only for one brutal shot
26 August 1999
This is one of John Wayne's best films. He has a strong supporting cast with him and a great musical score.

But there is one moment I must note for you. There is a scene that has to be seen to be believed. George Kennedy ( as a bad guy) is dunking the head of an innocent man into a barrel. Wayne comes over, grabs a piece of wood that resembles a bat, and cracks Kennedy right in the face. It's a moment that causes the viewer great pain as he laughs at how real it looks. The timing is precise here and looks very painful.

So by all means watch this film if only for that scene. But you will be well rewarded if you stick it out.
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Analyze This (1999)
De Niro at his funniest
22 February 1999
It's a pleasure to see a serious actor like Robert De Niro step out of his tough roles to play it light. In "Analyze This" he plays a mobster whose sudden panic attacks send him to shrink Billy Crystal. Crystal, divorced and ready to re-marry, reluctantly takes on the mobster and soon realizes that his life is never going to be the same again. When the mobster wants to see him he means right now!! Even if it is during his own wedding.

Crystal is good playing the kind of part he was born to play. But it's De Niro who steals the show, hamming it up in every scene. It's a very funny film that should be enjoyed by all. Also, there are a couple of shots taken at "The Godfather" that are so funny they're worth the price of admission alone.
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Major talent in a major disappointment
19 February 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Considering the acting talent and the late, great director Alan J. Pakula you would expect "Consenting Adults" to be a top notch thriller. Think again. It starts off well but then slowly descends into silliness.

Kevin Kline and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio play a happily married couple in suburbia. In next store moves Kevin Spacey and his very sexy wife. As the men get to know one another Spacey continually hints that maybe the couples show switch for a night of wild sex. When Kline finally does agree Spacey's wife ends up dead. So far so good. Then the movie stumbles into cliches, predictability, and ridiculous scenes that make you wonder how the screenwriter let the good idea get away.
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