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4/10
Slight
18 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
DANGER TOMORROW is a slight, hour-long domestic drama with touches of the thriller and science fiction genres, but sadly there isn't enough of either of the latter to make this work. Robert Urquhart and Zena Walker play a happily married couple - he's a doctor - whose lives are turned upside down when she begins to see visions from tomorrow. All is very concerning, and even more so when she seemingly witnesses her own murder. There are some minor murder mystery moments here and a supporting role for a youthful Rupert Davies, but it only really gets going right at the climax and by then it's virtually all over.
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3/10
Quite tedious
18 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
COBRA AGAINST NINJA is another schlockfest that never quite lives up to the promise of the opening five minutes which features a guy running through the mountains before shouting "ninjaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" and battling a rival master of death. It's silly, stupid in fact, but completely endearing for those of us who enjoy revisiting the ninja-obsessed 1980s. Sadly, the main thrust of this one is a very boring and nondescript crime film onto which the new ninja footage has been tacked, but there simply isn't enough of the latter. Good old Richard Harrison pops up as the ever-harassed Gordon while Stuart Smith is on bad guy duties, but despite the occasional moment of wackiness this is quite tedious.
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Death Valley (I) (2015)
3/10
Not very good
18 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
DEATH VALLEY is a very low budget little murder mystery which features just four actors filming in the desert and being recorded by a hand-held video camera. Films like this live or die depending on the script, but this one's not very interesting, unfortunately; the cod psychology and endless psychobabble between the characters is sleep-inducing rather than engaging. This was chiefly of interest for me for featuring two actors from one of my favourite TV shows, SPARTACUS, namely Katrina Law and Nick E. Tarabay, but they're both quite restrained. Elsewhere there's a Kelly Hu cameo and leading man theatricality from B-flick favourite Lochlyn Munro. It's really not very good.
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Dark Shadows: Episode #1.378 (1967)
Season 1, Episode 378
5/10
Great ending
18 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Episode 378 is a rather middling one, enlivened only by that jaw-dropping twist ending which takes the entire series into ever-more outrageously fantastic territory. So it's an example of stuffy costume drama meeting high camp, and somehow it still works.
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8/10
Well-aimed material
17 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS is an irresistable watch for any fans of movie auteur Werner Herzog. It's a found footage-style mockumentary about Herzog's attempt to shoot a documentary about the myths surrounding the Loch Ness Monster, but the whole thing is an elaborate set-up to explore the bizarre elements and constraints of the genre. The whole cast play themselves (Jeff Goldblum cameo included) and Herzog in particular is a delight as the quirky figure we all know and love. Most of the action is limited to a small boat floating in the loch, but nonetheless this is witty and insightful and very, very funny at times. I did find the latter stages a little bit too OTT - some more restraint would have been funnier, I feel - but overall this is well-aimed material.
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Child's Play (1954)
5/10
Middling
17 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
CHILD'S PLAY is a blatant British spin-off from the LITTLE RASCALS series, in which an all-child gang play with scientific experiments and run rings around the adults in their lives. I found it more like a proto Children's Film Foundation movie, but it somehow lacks the charm of the films in that franchise. This one has fun dialogue and sees atomic energy being used in a novel way, and the satirical swipes at the Cold War are quite amusing. But the lack of a decent plot hurts it somewhat and it does feel very middling throughout. Keep an eye out for a very youthful Peter Sallis in one of his earlier roles (as a delivery driver).
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Dark Shadows: Episode #1.377 (1967)
Season 1, Episode 377
5/10
As before
17 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Episode 377 carries on as before. The pitchfork tattooed on the back of Josette's hand is a fun touch, but some of the interplay between minor characters is a bit much. There's an attempt to add more character depth to Angelique, but she's still little more than a stock villain here.
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Dark Shadows: Episode #1.376 (1967)
Season 1, Episode 376
6/10
Murky
17 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Episode 376 carries on the mildly sinister atmosphere and family shenanigans without revealing anything definitive. We're in a world of premonitions and fortune readings, with Angelique cast as an evil mastermind and the others her playthings.
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5/10
A real treat
16 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
COMMANDO THE NINJA is one of the cheesiest and funniest slices of trash I've seen from IFD, a bottom-of-the-barrel ninja adventure full of the usual cut and paste film-making and rock-bottom production values. This one was even shot on video, which sets it apart from the others. For a change, the film they're ripping off - which seems to be Taiwanese - is almost as entertaining as the new ninja footage, with a hunt for secret plans and the like. You get a bunch of permed women fighting and one of them wearing Southern Cross shorts at one point! Truly this film has the worst fashions of the 1980s in all their gaudy glory. The dubbing is also some of the shonkiest you'll hear. The new ninja footage is a hoot, full of random slow motion at the wrong times and extensive battles around wooden sets built in the woods. This one's a real treat for bad film lovers.
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6/10
Quite charming
16 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This early adaptation of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fantasy classic was made so long ago that the author managed to see (and enjoy it). Watched today it's something of a curiosity piece, with all of the dated appeal of a typical silent movie: mannered overacting, fussy characters, everything done on a seemingly small scale. Where it shines is in the quality of the special effects by maestro Willis O'Brien, with the climactic scenes of the dinosaur rampaging through the streets of London going on to inspire a whole wave of cinema in the 1950s (GODZILLA included) and through to the present day. The stop motion is of excellent quality and the real highlight of an imaginative story. It's not KING KONG, but it is a lot of fun and quite charming.
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Venus Peter (1989)
5/10
Reflective
16 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
VENUS PETER is a quiet, reflective kind of film that looks at the experiences of growing up in the 1940s on Orkney. It's based on autobiographical events and features a good amount of character depth although little in the way of narrative structure or incident. There are similarities to the likes of KES but this film doesn't have the same kind of power, although there are certain affecting moments like the publicised whale scene. The cast is rather good and features a surprising amount of familiar faces, from TV stalwart David Hayman to FRIGHTMARE baddie Sheila Keith.
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Shadows of Fear: Did You Lock Up? (1970)
Season 1, Episode 1
7/10
Strong start
16 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
The first episode of the SHADOWS OF FEAR television series is an interesting little piece mixing suspense and morality in equal measure. The focus is on an ordinary married couple - played effectively by Michael Craig and Gwen Watford - whose idyllic lives are shattered when their home is targeted by burglars. The husband takes things particularly badly, and his fragile mental state spirals out of control. Things build to an inevitable climax which packs in all the power you could wish for.
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5/10
Arthouse blockbuster tedium
15 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Here's the long-awaited sequel to the Ridley Scott hit, but unfortunately it ended up in the hands of director Denis Villeneuve instead - a man I find criminally overrated after the threesome of PRISONERS, SICARIO and ARRIVAL all failed to impress me. BLADE RUNNER 2049 is similarly glacial in its construct, with the director seemingly unable to inject any warmth into his film whatsoever. As such, the performances feel artificial (maybe that was the intent) and you don't really care about any of what you see. Harrison Ford's the most interesting thing in this, and it's criminal to make the audience wait two hours to meet him again. Elsewhere, the endless CGI scenery is admittedly beautiful, but the plot is surprisingly slight - reminiscent of ANGEL HEART at times, but weaker. Watch it for the visuals if you must, but otherwise this is weak sauce compared to the first.
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The Task (2011)
3/10
Do without it
15 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
THE TASK is another piece of nonsense from After Dark productions, a movie that feels like it should have been made as a found footage if anything. A group of mixed contestants head into an old abandoned prison as part of a game show - a tired old plot that gets a very boring run-out here. The villains are the usual weirdos from muscle skinheads lurking in the shadows to annoying Pennywise-imitating clowns. With boring, exchangeable characters and performances that never rise above the tedious, this is the kind of budget horror production we can all do without.
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3/10
A mighty mess-up
15 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Well, I admit to being excited to see this film purely because Robert E. Howard is one of my all-time favourite writers, but at the same time I was disgusted when this turned out to be an obligatory romance albeit one with a messed-up male lead. I doubt that anybody involved in this actually read a Howard story, because instead of the imaginative intellectual who comes across in the writing, he's played by Vincent D'Onofrio as a loud-mouthed brute, alternating between the occasional bit of charm and random mad shouty interludes. There's little subtlety here and only one or two attempts to really get inside his head. Most of the emphasis is on Renee Zellweger; she's younger than you usually see her but just as irritating, a collection of mannerisms in place of a real performance. The whole thing's a real pity.
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4/10
Interesting scenario, spoilt by bad characters
15 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Another day, another young adult sci-fi movie, this one taking the premise of a military apocalypse that sees London nuked and survivors relegated to the countryside and hunted by both armed militias and the usual psycho gangs. Saoirse Ronan is the heroine, an imported American brat who arrives with her relatives but finds the obligatory teen angst and romance interrupted by the end of the world. I did like the low-fi look here, and in the second half the depiction of a barren landscape is well handled and feels very British. A shame, then, that the central characters are made so unlikeable, particularly Ronan's thoroughly unpleasant piece of work. Saying that, Tom Holland is quite charming and it will be this kind of role that propelled him into the big time with SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING.
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Falcon Rising (2014)
6/10
South-of-the-border fight flick
15 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
FALCON RISING is a south-of-the-border fight flick starring everyone's favourite man mountain, Michael Jai White, of BLOOD AND BONE fame. This one's a pared-down thriller with join-the-dots plotting (about rogue cops) and a Yakuza conspiracy involving the usual corruption and murder. White is our PTSD-suffering war hero who walks straight into the middle of the situation and proceeds to kick backside in various violent intervals. This one's really low budget but manages to stage a sequence of decent fights, and it helps that the likes of Capoeira fighter Lateef Crowder play in support. Director Ernie Barbarash cut his teeth on CUBE ZERO and various Van Damme vehicles and does a commendable job here.
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6/10
Solid, but not immersive
14 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
BATTLE OF THE BULGE is one of the epic WW2 films of the 1960s, but given that all of the others are so good - from THE GUNS OF NAVARONE to THE LONGEST DAY - this one pales in comparison somewhat. It's not that this film is particularly poor, it's just that it could be better. It's overlong, for a start, and surprisingly simplistic given the nature of the actual battle itself. Robert Shaw plays a nasty Nazi in charge of a tank division attacking an assembled group of heroes, inevitably played by famous American old-timers: Henry Fonda, Robert Ryan, Dana Andrews et al. The scale is impressive throughout, although some of the back projection hasn't aged very well, but somehow this simply isn't as immersive as the true classics from the era.
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London Affair (1970)
2/10
What did I just watch?
14 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Oh dear. TWINKY turns out to be one of the most awkward, excruciating, embarrassing movies I've ever sat through, a comedic spin on the LOLITA tale in which a middle-aged novelist (his speciality is erotica, obviously) falls in love with a young school girl. If this sounds dodgy, it really is, especially in our modern times which don't look kindly on such pairings. It doesn't help that the massive age gap is further heightened by the casting of Charles Bronson, who always looked much older than his years, and Susan George playing her character as an immature, hyperactive little girl with the spirit of a 10-year-old.

Bronson certainly plays against type here but he seems bored by the whole experience, and you wish he'd go back to shooting crims instead. George is just irritating - imagine the flawed aspects of her character in STRAW DOGS and play them up times a hundred and you'll be there. A cast of distinguished British character actors are wasted in support, and the mindless script just goes on and on and gets increasingly unfunnier. The weirdest thing is that this was all directed by Richard Donner, who became one of America's top directors a decade later.
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6/10
Lesser-known Alistair Maclean
13 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
WHEN EIGHT BELLS TOLL is one of the lesser-known Alistair Maclean novel adaptations out there, and that's purely because it looks and feels rather insignificant when compared to the real classics of the genre like WHERE EAGLES DARE or THE GUNS OF NAVARONE. A cast-against-type Anthony Hopkins plays a gruff special agent on the track of a criminal mastermind who's been bumping off British agents, and the setting is a watery one with lots of diving and action on and beneath the waves. It's lively stuff and provides a neat contrast to Bond by emphasising realism over style. Hopkins is good value but his thunder is stolen a little by a pitch-perfect Robert Morley who is a hoot as the comedy relief.
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6-Headed Shark Attack (2018 TV Movie)
3/10
Just silly
13 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
6-HEADED SHARK ATTACK is the umpteenth film in this unenviable franchise from The Asylum, which almost manages to be more ridiculous than their SHARKNADO movies. This one features the usual bunch of coast-dwelling characters finding themselves menaced by the titular mutant, which walks on land in some particularly ludicrous moments. Bad CGI effects and worse acting are the orders of the day here, with the usual emphasis on bikini-clad starlets and a total lack of depth and originality on the part of the writers.
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Breakdown (I) (2016)
3/10
Not very good
13 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
BREAKDOWN appears to be rather liked on this website but I'm afraid I have to go against the grain. I found it a slog to sit through, an overlong reheating of gangster elements that substitutes depth for sheer viciousness and goes way over the top in a torture scene. Craig Fairbrass gets a chance to act with a bit more depth than usual in his hardman role, but he's not particularly likeable in the part and the endless family material really drags the pacing down. There are some good elements here, such as James Cosmo's powerful old-timer, but overall it's simply not very good.
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6/10
A good mix
12 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
THE LEGEND OF WISELY is an enjoyable addition to the Wisely series of Hong Kong science fiction movies made over the last few decades and featuring the titular character as a famous novelist investigating strange, sci fi-related mysteries. It's not as out there as THE CAT but it's still worth a look and reminded of Jackie's ARMOUR OF GOD a great deal. Wisely (in the form of Samuel Hui) gets involved in the threat of the famous "dragon pearl" from a Nepalese monastery and finds rival factions competing for possession of it. Most of the action is set in a picturesque Egypt, and to add to the fun Shaw Brothers legend Ti Lung plays in support. The film offers a good mix of Indiana Jones-style globetrotting adventure, furious fight scenes, a spiky Joey Wang and a big effects-fuelled climax.
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Bullet (I) (2014)
4/10
Let down by bad direction
12 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
BULLET is a cheap straight-to-video digital thriller starring everyone's favourite Mexican hardman, Danny Trejo. It feels like a deliberate spin on the whole MACHETE mythos with Trejo cast as an unstoppable killer who destroys anyone who gets in the way of his quest to rescue his kidnapped grandson. The plot is very similar to TAKEN and the overall film has a great pace with lots of violence to see it through. Jonathan Banks, an old-time B-movie villain who previously appeared in the likes of UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY, makes for a great criminal mastermind. The main problem with this is the direction, which is really schlocky and poor when it comes to the action, giving everything a fake, rehearsed look. Not a good look, and frankly it spoils the movie.
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5/10
Likeable performances
12 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
THE BOY WHO STOLE A MILLION is a likeable picaresque comedy with plenty of chase action to keep the plot moving along. The plot is a variant of a popular '50s set-up in which a kid finds himself pursued by the authorities for various reasons (being abducted by Dirk Bogarde and shooting somebody occurred in other films I vaguely remember from the era). However, this one plays up the comedy of the situation a lot more, with pratfalls and oddball performances from minor characters. The inclusion of Pepe the dog is a good asset, and the likeable performance of the main lad helps too. The Spanish locations are well utilised by Ealing director Charles Crichton, and a few familiar faces appear along the way to help things along.
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