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Kadoyng (1972)
7/10
Another era
12 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
KADOYNG is another science fiction-themed Children's Film Foundation movie, following on from my last experience of one, SUPERSONIC SAUCER. This one sees a little spaceship landing in the woods and the alien astronaut - who looks just like a human - befriending the usual gang of kids who are fighting having their village bulldozed to make way for a motorway. As usual he ends up helping them. There are the usual charmingly primitive special effects alongside good character work from the adult performers like Bill Owen, Jack Haig and Gerald Sim, and some of the kids have a lot of character too. Simple fare from another era.
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6/10
Engaging little western
12 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
A good old-fashioned western from director Paul Greengrass, better than his last, the morbid 22 JULY. This one adopts a traditional journey narrative in its story of a grizzled Tom Hanks transporting a precocious young girl across the hostile West in search of her estranged family members. The news aspect doesn't really add much to the story, but Greengrass's superior direction is what makes this worth a watch. He brings in the suspense, handling it well in a lengthy set-piece in which limited firepower adds to the tension. Hanks is on form here and the whole thing is engaging, if not spectacular.
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Nappeun Nyeoseokdeul: Crazy Dogs (2014)
Season 1, Episode 1
9/10
On a high
12 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
In a bid to experience more Korean television I decided to check out the well regarded BAD GUYS, a 2014 'DIRTY DOZEN' type show in which three master criminals are released by the cops to track down even worse villains. Mainly I was interested in Ma Dong-seok's presence, but the other key cast members are just as impressive here. The show was made in ultra high quality and has plenty of action and drama to see it through in this first episode, despite it being a bit longer than most western TV show episodes. I felt it was on a high throughout and I look forward to seeing how it progresses from here.
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The Driver (2019)
2/10
Dreadful
12 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
A dreadful zombie film made in Thailand and starring a newly reinvigorated Mark Dacascos, fresh from success in JOHN WICK 3. This one starts off as more of an action thriller with Dacascos pulling some martial arts moves on various bad guys intent on storming his jungle compound. Later a horde of zombies shows up, attracted by the chaos, and Dacascos switches to taking his family to a place of safety. It's badly directed and poorly written, with dodgy acting and unconvincing zombies throughout...why bother?
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Cupid (2020)
2/10
As cheap as it gets
11 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
CUPID (2020) is another micro-budgeted supernatural horror that's really not worth seeking out even if you're addicted to the genre (like me). It's a high school story that tells of a bullied girl who decides to get revenge on her teenage tormentors by summoning the spirit of the evil Cupid, who goes on a supernatural killing spree with the aid of his bow and arrow. Alternatively hackneyed and silly when it comes to the plotting, the only novelty being the idea of a killer Cupid, a far cry from the cherubic stereotype that we all know and think of when we hear of him. Sadly the ultra low budget means that we're treated to the usual stilted acting and dire dialogue, while the gory deaths become repetitive early on. Another Amazon Prime special that I'm glad I didn't pay for.
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6/10
Obscure but rewarding
11 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
THE FISH WITH EYES OF GOLD (1974, original title El pez de los ojos de oro) is an obscure Spanish giallo that I managed to track down in an English-subtitled print on Youtube; it's pretty good quality too, which is unusual for many of these productions. It offers a sunny coastal backdrop for a series of brutal slayings in which a mysterious murderer is going around offing a seemingly unconnected string of people. Shades of Agatha Christie's EVIL UNDER THE SUN, with the addition of a blond-haired bloke caught up in the middle of the crimes as the main suspect. It's a lively little piece, not particularly graphic in terms of sex and violence as these films go, but with plenty of plot and mystery to drive it along. The sun-drenched locales give it a holiday feel and there's at least one exploding car stunt that definitely endangered the actors taking part in it, so there's plenty to enjoy. 6/10.
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6/10
Slightly twee, but still fun
11 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
SUPERSONIC SAUCER is a sci fi-themed Children's Film Foundation production from 1956, noticeably aimed at a younger audience than many of the others. The story sees a cute animated UFO flying from Venus to Earth, where it transforms into a little big-eyed alien which befriends a quartet of kids and has adventures. A little bit like FIVE CHILDREN AND IT in the granting of wishes, but with the crime element these CFF films were known for. Seen today it's a little twee but mostly of interest for the similarities to the Spielberg blockbuster E. T.; somebody definitely saw this first.
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The Saint: The Helpful Pirate (1966)
Season 5, Episode 5
5/10
Mannered
11 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
An average episode, not particularly exciting although some of the guest actors give fun performances in support. Templar sets off to Hamburg for a more serious story but what plays out is rather mannered and unexciting considering what's come before.
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Better Call Saul: Marco (2015)
Season 1, Episode 10
9/10
Creative and heartfelt
11 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
A really nice way to close the first season. It goes back to the beginning, looking at Jimmy's old life and tying up some loose ends and mysteries we had there. Great acting from Bob Odenkirk throughout and an episode with real heart at times to go along with the humour and creative situations.
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Ashfall (2019)
7/10
Korean crowd-pleaser
10 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
Although ostensibly a disaster film with an erupting volcano threatening to bring total destruction to the Korean peninsula, ASHFALL is very much a military thriller in which the volcano is merely there to give impetus to our characters. A top cast of talent sees Ha Jung-woo and Lee Byung-hun teaming up to go on a secret mission to retrieve a nuclear warhead and use it to blow up the volcano before it has a chance to erupt. They're aided on their mission by computer scientist Ma Dong-seok but they have various international powers after them too. The usual mix of humour, action, sentiment and suspense drives this one forcefully from beginning to end, and it's all entertaining in a crowd-pleasing way.
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Lady Ice (1973)
4/10
Indifferent
10 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
An indifferent kind of crime thriller of the early 1970s, a bit like James Bond but with a more sombre and realistic style. Donald Sutherland stars but this is a far cry from the quality of his best films of the 1970s, which are among my favourites to this day. The plot is about the hunt for diamonds and focuses largely on romance and repartee between Sutherland and Jennifer O'Neill, which didn't really interest me all that much. Nice to see Robert Duvall and Patrick Magee in support.
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6/10
Another deadly gameshow
9 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
DEATH GAME (2010, original title Inshite miru: 7-kakan no desu gemu, aka THE INCITE MILL) is another Japanese film based around a deadly game in which a group of contestants find themselves whittled down over time, with the last man standing the winner. Shades of BATTLE ROYALE and ALICE IN BORDERLAND yere, although the story is made on a lower budget, with a small cast in an enclosed location, a bit like CUBE in that respect. The story shies away from puzzles and physical tasks for our characters to perform in favour of a Cluedo set up: various rooms, 10 characters with 10 different murder weapons, and lots of mystery as to their identities. The bodies start piling up and the contestants have to turn detective to work out who committed them. It's not the most exciting execution, but a good quality cast make up for it, and Tatsuya Fujiwara, of BATTLE ROYALE fame, is always decent. Hideo Nakata, who did RING, supplies the direction and adds in some shocks and atmosphere. A B-movie mystery mix with a sci-fi backdrop, lots of nice allusions to classic detective fiction and multiple twists which keep coming right until the end.
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6/10
Never dull
9 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
PROFESSIONALS FOR A MASSACRE sees spagwest regular George Hilton playing the leader of a gang of thieves who find themselves tasked with retrieving a shipment of stolen gold after getting a reprieve from the authorities. Shades of THE DIRTY DOZEN here and plenty of action in a familiar Italian western story, with lots of sun-bleached locales and extras being mown down by machine gun fire. Noisy with guns blaring all the while, and it's never dull.
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The Saint: The Convenient Monster (1966)
Season 5, Episode 6
6/10
Templar vs the Loch Ness monster
9 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
A fun little episode based around the Loch Ness Monster. It's being used as a front in a murder plot which Templar has to get to the bottom of. A good guest star role from Suzan Farmer, best known as a Hammer starlet in the likes of DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, and lots of colour and atmosphere in the surroundings. Nothing to dislike about this one.
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Better Call Saul: Pimento (2015)
Season 1, Episode 9
10/10
Wonderful
9 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
An excellent episode, the best yet. Quiet but with intense character work throughout. The sub-plot with Mike is just pure entertainment in terms of writing and performance. The scene with Chuck and Jimmy at the climax is heartbreaking. So much depth here and it's wonderful.
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Iron Fist: Dragon Plays with Fire (2017)
Season 1, Episode 13
3/10
Damp squib
9 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
The final episode of season one and it's unsurprisingly a damb squib, the worst episode of the season overall. You get poor writing that feels rushed, routine direction, a final fight that's extremely lacklustre, and the usual wooden acting. Plus a load of final twists that feel dull. Not great at all.
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4/10
Tame nasty
8 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
HUMAN EXPERIMENTS (1979) is another one of those low budget American B-movies that somewhat randomly made the UK's "video nasties" list; a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I guess. There's certainly nothing particularly explicit about the plot or any of the content here. The set-up is the usual women-in-prison story in which an innocent woman (Linda Haynes) finds herself set up by a corrupt justice system and sent to a women's prison presided over by the sinister Geoffrey Lewis, an armchair expert in human psychology who enjoys conducting mind-control experiments on his inmates. It's a slow and scuzzy affair, packed with nudity but without much in the gore department; there's a scene of a woman being covered in insects but that's about as horrifying as it gets. Haynes gives it her all in the lead and Lewis typically impresses as the villain of the piece, but this is one of those films that just plods along aimlessly until the (twist) ending thankfully rolls.
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Capricorn One (1977)
7/10
Slow-burning conspiracy thriller
8 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
Another decent conspiracy thriller of the 1970s, CAPRICORN ONE benefits from a classic plot set-up which involves a trio of astronauts being sent to Mars, except there's a twist: the mission is a set-up which for various reasons can't be made public knowledge. What follows is a slow-burning thriller in the classic conspiracy mould, with investigators and journalists being silenced all around, and innocent men finding themselves at the mercy of an impassive, murderous state. It's well-made and well-directed by Peter Hyams, giving his movie a classic look, and the excellent cast includes such '70s heavyweights as James Brolin, Elliott Gould and Hal Holbrook. While not quite as expertly crafted or suspenseful as my all-time favourites like THE CHINA SYNDROME or TWO MINUTE WARNING, this is a film that still packs a punch.
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The Penalty (1920)
7/10
Watch it for Chaney
8 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
When I noticed THE PENALTY - a 1920 crime film starring Lon Chaney - was showing on Youtube I had to watch it, being a big fan of the star for the extraordinary physicality he brings to his roles. This one was directed by Wallace Worsley, who also handled Chaney in the 1923 version of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. The story sees Chaney playing the aptly named Blizzard, a criminal kingpin in San Francisco whose "Reds" plan to bring chaos to the city. The twist is that Blizzard had both his legs needlessly amputated as a kid, leaving him bitter and twisted and desiring revenge against the surgeon responsible. It's an eventful little picture, fast paced and dramatic, with Chaney dominating the proceedings. He totally convinces as a legless man and scenes of him climbing a wall with just his hands are incredible; in the close up shots his visage is truly frightening too. The revenge plot works a treat and even the sub-plots involving romance and brain surgery are a good addition to the story.
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5/10
Good cast, not bad humour
8 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
GEORGE AND THE DRAGON is a lighthearted fantasy romp riding on the coattails of A KNIGHT'S TALE, and it has the same jokey, anything-goes kind of feel to it. Shot in Wales, this international co-production is undoubtedly a B-movie through and through, with a friendly CGI dragon and a widespread cast of familiar faces. Tonally the humour isn't too bad and James Purefoy's huge natural charisma counts a lot towards the goodwill I had for it. The writing is merely perfunctory and the scripting average, but with a cast that includes the box office megastars (Patrick Swayze, Val Kilmer, Michael Clarke Duncan), thespians (Joan Plowright, Simon Callow) and British TV staples (Bill Treacher, Bill Oddie) you're in for a lot of fun.
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The Saint: The House on Dragon's Rock (1966)
Season 6, Episode 9
7/10
A surprise
8 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
A great B-movie feel to this episode, which has Templar heading off to rural Wales to investigate strange disappearances. Soon enough he's involved with a conspiracy plot and some mad scientists whose latest experiments have created a giant...well, I'll let you find out. A real DR WHO feel to this one, which has atmospheric surrounds, a good supporting cast of character actors, and a fine monster. I wasn't expecting this kind of thing from THE SAINT!
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Better Call Saul: RICO (2015)
Season 1, Episode 8
9/10
Top stuff
8 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
A really top episode, my favourite yet. It gets into the heart and nitty gritty of the legal profession with a case which is in-depth, involving and quite shocking. Lots of great individual scenes to bolster the engaging, overriding storyline. Top stuff.
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Iron Fist: Bar the Big Boss (2017)
Season 1, Episode 12
5/10
Sort of average
8 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
For a penultimate episode this is just sort of average. Nothing very exciting going on, it all smacks of predictability with a bit of emoting, a bit of action, some twists, attempted high drama. Next...
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3/10
Heavy metal horror
7 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
SHOCK 'EM DEAD (1991) is a cheesy indie comedy horror and an entry in the 'heavy metal' sub-genre of horror filmmaking. Some such films are quite enjoyable, such as TRICK OR TREAT, but sadly that's not the case with this B-movie. It's about a loser fast food employee called Angel Martin who tries to join a rock band as a guitarist but gets turned down. He turns to a voodoo priestess for help (as you do) and ends up selling his soul to the Devil in exchange for fame and fortune. All very familiar and mildly amusing, but this is a film that tends to avoid genuine horror content in favour of cheesy glowing eye FX and plenty of softcore nudity from the supporting female cast members. Traci Lords figures predominantly on the advertising but has a limited token love interest role. Lots of action and silliness going on here, but not much meat or depth when it comes down to it, and of course it's aged quite badly over the years.
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Better Call Saul: Bingo (2015)
Season 1, Episode 7
8/10
Solid
7 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
A top episode again, highly enjoyable and nice to see Mike developing as an aide and supporting character in his own right. The main Kettleman plot evolves in twisty-turny interesting ways, and the whole thing is a solid piece of writing.
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