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Someone please put an end to Seltzer's awful career
28 August 2008
I was given a free ticket to this film; so I can't complain that I was ripped off (except in that some 90 minutes of my life were irretrievably stolen from me). These sort of movies (Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans) haven't been funny for some time now but "Disaster Movie" has reached a new low. There wasn't one real laugh anywhere in the film, and most of the alleged "jokes" were actually painful. (There was a considerable amount of childish, mean-spirited stuff in the form of racist, sexist, and especially homophobic, garbage present, along with ample helpings of juvenile gross-outs.) None of the actors were even bothering to put up any pretense of acting. There is nothing hip, clever, or even mildly intelligent going on here. The entire film is from beginning to end crass, vulgar, irrational, and utterly humorless in any human sense. I know that in the past these sort of trash has made enough money to keep Seltzer et al., grinding them out but "Disaster Movie" may just be the downfall of the franchise. The utter contempt that Seltzer and his collaborators have for their audience is finally beginning to show through clearly. If this one fails (and from what I saw in the almost empty theater there is a good chance of it), Seltzer will have to go back to the drawing board, stop making these lazy catastrophes, and finally develop a real sense of humor. This movie is an unfunny piece of puke - stay away from it.
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dull and ineptly executed
27 October 2007
Anyone who knows my opinions knows exactly what I think of Herschell Lewis's films in general. I would have passed on writing any more reviews of them until I and a few friends spent (and I mean "spent" in the sense of "exhausted", "used up", "wasted") an evening watching "The Wizard of Gore". Naturally, I had seen it before, but my attention was always focused on the extremely inept (yet still revolting) gore effects. Then, one of my friends watching pointed out just how dull the bits in between the gore scene were. Quite true. Even the lead-ins to the supposed shock scenes crept along at a snail's pace, completely dissipating any tension there might have been. It is almost impossible for anyone to pay attention to this film because for most of the film, nothing happens. Then, when the gore scenes come, you haven't been engaged by the film in any way. You really just don't care about what happens next. The Lewis cult people should give it up. Lewis is incompetent as a director and his movies are not innovative - just dull, repulsive little cinematic abortions.
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not terribly original but what the hey.....
20 October 2007
It is really easy to find out whether or not people will like "Across the Universe". Just put two questions to them: "do you like Beatles music?" and "did you like 'Moulin Rouge'?". If the answer is "yes" to both, then they will; if either is "no" they will doubtless hate it. The film is not very original, a very severe criticism to direct at a director like Julie Taymor. I kept flashing on movies I've seen before - Milos Forman's "Hair", "Apocalypse Now", the Monkey's movie "Head", Taymor's "Titus", and of course "Moulin Rouge". (Fortunately, when "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band" came to mind, it was only to note that this film was WAY better than that notorious stink bomb.) We haven't gone very far afield from those films here. There could have been some invention on display, and its lack is disappointing. But the film does not deserve the gripes, voiced here, that it is no more than a glorified music video, or is some kind of festival of self-indulgence. To the extent that the film captures, visually as well as thematically, at least the mythology of what the 60s were supposedly about, it can be put down as a success. Just not an enormous one.
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Project X (1968)
not particularly good
20 October 2007
I taped this film off of a cable TV broadcast, apparently a rare occurrence. The film doesn't seem to get any air time at all, and as far as I know it is not available commercially on VHS or DVD. As much as one would want to corroborate other people's opinions of less-well-known films, I cannot recommend William Castle's "Project X". I found the film wildly over-plotted and very much derivative of other, better films. Where it tries to present something different, I found it just confused. The acting is at its best moments routine, and occasionally goes way over the top. The special effects do not impress; the film eventually resorts to using animation and not very stylish animation at that. But give a gander to the cast and you'll see why. William Castle is most widely known as a showman and promoter. There isn't anything here like that, so the film has to stand on its own. It can't.
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what a disappointment
15 October 2007
Let's see now - this is a movie about Queen Elizabeth I in confrontation with the Spanish circa 1585. So where are the important players? Where's Leicester? Where's Sir William Cecil? Where's Drake? Where's Essex? Oh, yeah, in the first movie they said that the Earl of Leicester turned traitor against Elizabeth and participated in a plot to assassinate her. Cecil was real old and retired/fired by Elizabeth early on. Essex did't exist and Drake just kept in the shadows and did nothing important. Hmmmm.... Some peculiar history that Kapur has going on there. Just how are we to regard the relationship of this made-up faux Elizabeth to the real one? There were serious historical problems with the first movie that have only been made worse in this one. (They couldn't even leave the Tilbury speech alone; they just had to mangle it, too.) And yes, facts matter. Or would you accept a film biography where Lincoln went to Ford's Theater but left at the intermission? The only thing this film has going for it is Cate Blanchett, and it's not very kind even to her. She is basically there just to bellow in a "regal" fashion, flash a little eroticism here and there, and wear extravagant (and in some cases wildly inappropriate) costumes. The rest of the cast throws it away. Clive Owen in particular should be embarrassed at trying to create a Raleigh that should more properly be propped up as set decor for the next "Pirates of the Caribbean" film. Geoffery Rush obviously just took the money and ran, giving nothing of the original performance as Walsingham in return. On the whole - don't bother. Wait 'till it's on cable.....
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crazy as an outhouse rat
26 August 2007
One wonders how Bill Rebane every raised money to make films over and over again, after his first disastrous attempt with "Monster A Go-Go!", a film he could only partly finish before putting it up for sale. It is quite telling that the buyer was Herschel G. Lewis. But I digress... Someone has indeed given money to Bill Rebane for film-making and I am grateful for it. What would the world of cinema be without "Giant Spider Invasion", "Demons of Ludlow", "Invasion from Inner Earth", and this, arguably Rebane's "opus magnum"? Never mind that it was partly ripped off from the "Knightrider" concept. Never mind that the acting, writing, editing, etc., are sub par even for failing students at the worst community college film class in the country. Never mind that the only way an ordinary movie goer could possibly sit through such witless trash is to be drunk or stoned out of their mind. Never mind that the film stands as the ultimate proof that Bill Rebane is, indeed, crazy as an outhouse rat. Just consider how much duller life would be. Then go ahead, pop "Twister's Revenge!" in the DVD player, open the first of several fermented malt beverages, and revel in the experience. Try not to puke too many times....
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From the director who gave you "Carnival of Souls"!!!!........
18 August 2007
I had heard that Herk Harvey, director of the curious seminal 60s horror film "Carnival of Souls", had only done the one feature film, and had spent his career in film doing educational and promotional shorts, but this was the first time I had actually come across any of his work along these lines. Here he is working for Centron, a company responsible for a whole truck load of shorts made for classroom use on virtually every subject imaginable, from patriotism to tooth decay. Obviously, the subject this time around is juvenile delinquency, and frankly, it would take longer than the film's 10 minute running time to describe the curious goings on here. Broadly, without detailing things, the film attempts to put the shoe on the other foot as a high school gang member learns his club brothers have unknowingly attacked his own dad. The film ends, as Centron films often do, with some kind of jumping off point for classroom discussion. Whether this attack is serious enough to generate the kind of hysteria that ensues in the film, or would produce the kind of "teachable moment" the originators are looking for, is questionable. The bright side here is that the Mystery Science Theater crew got ahold of this and used it for one of their notorious shorts prior to their skewering of a feature film, 1963's wretched "Atomic Brain". Their commentary is very funny and makes this run of the mill classroom filmstrip almost watchable.
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Rejuvenatrix (1988)
Leech Woman redux, flavored with ham
5 January 2007
The comments posted for this film so far are rather confusing to me. I thought I had already seen "Rejuvenatrix". It was immediately and consistently trashy, bordering on the comic. Yet the other reviewers seem to have watched a different film that may have had vague plot similarities but may have been a good film in their eyes. I'm joking of course. I'm perfectly well aware of what I have seen. It is lying around my film consciousness, shoved somewhere between "The Leech Woman" and "Sunset Boulevard". In fact if you put those two movies in a blender together, covered them with catsup, and pushed the "puree" button, you'd get a reasonably good facsimile of "Rejuvenatrix". Oh, and you better put about a pound of ham in the blender too, so people can get the overall flavor of the acting in this trashy mediocrity. It's just another 80's car wreck of a horror film - nothing' to see here, folks, move along.....
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Give it a break, c'mon.....
25 December 2006
"Young Man's Fancy" is getting slammed by the other reviewers, and unjustly it seems to me, for being unrealistic and poorly acted. Judgment over the acting is a matter of taste I suppose; so all I can say is that the performances aren't really all that different than anything else I've seen in the average range from that time period. They are generally credible, given the situation as it has been created by its authors, if a bit over the top. And as for the situation itself being "preposterous" as one reviewer put it, let's look at that. A young girl is attracted to a visiting young man but is having trouble catching his attention. In order to finally break through she resorts to feigning interest in one of the young man's hobbies. Is such a scenario really so outlandish? The only thing about that I found difficult to accept is the constant references to the miracle of electric appliances. That might have been the way people would have reacted twenty years earlier, but did anyone in America really need to be convinced of the value of an electric dishwasher or range in 1952? Yes, I know MST3K had a field day with this short; but if you're looking for outlandish propositions, try another short they skewered, "Out of This World", where a demon and an angel fight for the soul of a bread delivery man. Now that's preposterous, in spades!
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Lewis' best (which ain't sayin' much)
26 November 2005
I am prepared to concede one point here - if H. G. Lewis ever made a good film, this would be it. Having said THAT... the rest of this old comment stands...

I was paging through the comments on this film, for god knows what reason, and was thoroughly appalled. I can't believe what I'm reading. Nowhere does anyone seem to grasp what is immediately obvious to any person of intelligence or taste - that Herschel G. Lewis is an incompetent hack who never directed anything even close to a good film in any genre. He is one of the most immoral filmmakers ever to set foot behind a camera. His "plots", if they can be called such, remind me of a Christmas tree. With a Christmas tree, one chops down and kills a fine, beautiful piece of nature's wonder and drags it into one's house for the sole purpose of hanging tacky, tasteless garbage on it for a brief time. And so it is with Lewis. His movies are nothing more than poorly crafted frameworks that exist to justify the depiction of various mutilations and murders that have no point and explain or illuminate nothing about the characters involved. They represent an immoral exploitation of various graphic forms of human suffering without point or purpose. There is no tension in a Lewis movie because he is congenitally incapable as a director of creating a character than a viewer would care about. They are just meat to be butchered. I have never been frightened by this or any other Lewis movie for just this reason. Yet there are people who praise this kind of immoral nonsense to the skies, because they think it representative of some kind of counterculture trash aesthetic. The only way I can explain Lewis's following is to remind myself that he is an acknowledged master of salesmanship, the apparent inventor of "direct marketing". Now, "direct marketing" is better known to people as "junk mail", and Lewis's involvement in selling junk is apparent in his films. They represent the height of mass marketing to the gullible - he wraps up garbage, not in a pretty new package, but in an ugly, immoral one, and sells it as "art". The only moral to the saga of Lewis is a reiteration of Barnum's dictum about what kind of person gets born every minute. Stay away from "Two Thousand Maniacs" and every other of Lewis's insults to the human soul as well.
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yes, of course it's camp!
31 January 2005
A quick review will suffice for anyone who hasn't had the deliciously silly pleasure of seeing this trashy nonsense. A spaceship full of male chauvinist pigs crash lands on Venus, where they become victims of the female-dominated planet's tyrannical queen. We needn't go into the ridiculously inaccurate descriptions of the surface of Venus; they could be forgiven for that considering the state of scientific knowledge at the time it was made. That's not the problem. The problem (if it counts as a problem) is the complete silliness of the script. And the acting. To no one's surprise, Zsa Zsa Gabor is outacted by a woman wearing a mask. The rest of the cast is little better, pure two-dimensional crap. The sets appear to be made of cardboard, as do most of the cast. Now, when you go around looking for truly awful films, you can do no better (or worse) than to start with "The Queen of Outer Space".
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everyone in the theater laughed.....
10 March 2002
Saw this one in one of those small duplex theaters that sprung up in shopping centers during the seventies (on a double bill with something called "Scream Bloody Murder"). The cheapness of the special effects and the unrelenting mediocrity of the acting and direction had everyone in the theater laughing out loud after about twenty minutes. It was so persistent that I noticed that an usher actually came into the theater to see what was going on. Many years later, I was able to find a video copy for my bad movie collection. By the way, time has not improved my perspective on this one. Some films grow on you, but this one could only if it were a jungle fungus.

I have no desire or need to include any details of the plot or any spoilers. The film has no plot worth discussing and was already spoiled - by its cast and producers. I am sorry to say this was the first example of Filipino cinema I've come across. Hope they have better films in Manila these days.
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unbelievably bad
9 February 2002
I suppose if you think prison camps in Nazi Germany are funny, then Communist East Germany must be equally comical (Berlin Wall, Iron Curtain, and all that jazz). On rare occasions, a comic genius can turn such human degradations as dictatorships into deft, insightful comedies (such as Woody Allen did with "Don't Drink the Water"). But the people involved in these two "comedy" projects were considerably less talented, and just incredible in their callousness. The TV series "Hogan's Heroes" mocked POW's sufferings by suggesting that their captors were easily bamboozled imbeciles. This film is even more mocking and disrespectful toward Germans who desperately wanted to flee the Marxist tyranny (many of whom gave their lives in the process). Elke Sommers is not to blame; at the time she was paid to be the dimwitted sex object in film after film, and that is precisely what she is here. But this makes her unbelievable as a world-class athlete; she lacks the stamina and mental toughness such people possess. Bob Crane plays up to his abilities (more precisely, DOWN to his INabilities); nothing else could be expected of him except low-brow burlesque. Werner Klemperer really amazes me, though. How such an obviously intelligent man could content himself with such cartoonish nonsense roles as Col. Klink and this pathetic Marxist clod is simply beyond me. How depressing!
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fortunately I went to a matinée (got a discount....)
25 April 2001
This film has little to comment on and is not worth the effort. I could have tolerated the sick, gross out, Tom Green humor (maybe) if Green had any story to tell. But he doesn't have one. He occasionally tries to pretend that there's a story being told here. But the pretense usually runs smack into one of Green's sick tableaux and gets its brains splattered all over. It came to me while I was watching this stupid travesty. Some might think the audience is the victim of Green's psychotic jokes.

But I thinks it's worse than that....Green uses his audience just like one of his props, and his entire career is a sick joke aimed at someone or something else. If Green showed the slightest genuine empathy for the human condition, his humor might be excusable. But Green is obviously either too stupid to know why his stuff is offensive, or he is too basically sadistic and exploitative to give a damn.
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Hitler (1962)
unusual but not effective
19 March 2001
Richard Basehart is OK as Hitler, even if a bit over the top. The rest of the cast is horrible, frankly. The film is an attempt to render Hitler from a psychological perspective, but the insights it offers are cartoonish oversimplifications at best, and can't make up its mind what Hitler's "problem" was. At one point it is implied he was impotent, at another point it is suggested he was homosexual. And always the business about his mother. The film offers more speculation than fact. The time frame of the film is a bit skewed too. Nothing of Hitler's youth is presented for a supposed psychological study. The year 1934 takes up nearly half the film; World War II gets at most ten minutes start to finish. In the end you have no more understanding of Hitler's personality, or his appeal to Germans, than you did at the outset. Which marks the film as a failure.
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pure Cold War hokum
16 March 2001
The most disturbing thing about this film is not that it's a load of hogwash (the CPUSA was never really as much an espionage threat as the movie makes out). The troubling aspect is the way that it whitewashes the wholly unsavory tactics of the FBI and the UnAmerican Activities Committee. Secret informants, gossip turned into accusations, warrantless searches - these are the kind of things secret police thugs like the KGB did, and presumably, what the good patriotic Americans were fighting. Yet the FBI did them and didn't bat an eye. That's the only realistic part of this movie, and they present it with no sense of shame at all. Add to this undermining the Constitution itself by having only Communists invoke the Bill of Rights. The film also makes thinly veiled accusations that the black civil rights movement was communist-inspired, another pack of lies. It's extremely difficult in this day to excuse such outrageous propaganda, even understanding the paranoia of the times, when one realizes how damaging it was to real people then.
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Ted V. Mikels should be shot!
9 December 2000
The first three times I attempted to watch this movie I failed. It put me to sleep and I had to return the rented cassette before I got to see it all the way through. Then I found a copy for sale. Having purchased other Ted. V. Mikels films (Corpse Grinders, Blood Orgy of the She-Devils) I bought it knowing I was in for a feast of wretched cinema. That proved to be true in spades, with the added depressing touch of watching John Carradine and Wendell Corey humiliate themselves utterly. It was like watching their autopsies. With the perspective of time and having experienced even more of Mikels (The Girl in Gold Boots) since then, I realized something that disturbed me. Not only does Mikels not give a damn about making a good movie, he doesn't care about anyone he works with. He's perfectly happy to destroy the reputations of anyone involved with his films. I don't think either Carradine or Corey worked much after this abomination.
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Red Nightmare (1962)
not worth much attention
1 December 2000
I got this expecting a camp riot. What I found was a fairly standard propaganda piece, a bit confused at times but generally aware of itself enough to stay "on message" as the phrase goes these days. Jack Webb, though obviously rightist, was too knowledgeable and talented to let things get completely out of control. As a result, the film isn't as funny as originally billed; it really provokes no strong response in me at all. Ho-hum.
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Who's been watching this stuff?
26 November 2000
The reviewers who liked this can't possibly be serious! "Kingdom of the Spiders" isn't one bit scary or interesting. Shatner overacts grossly as usual, when he remembers to act at all. It isn't convincing - I don't care how many there are, the spiders simply couldn't kill that many people without their victims' cooperation (by standing still or letting them crawl all over them). And I don't understand what people are talking about in referring to the film's special effects - it has none, except for a few matte paintings. The ending isn't surprising or inventive in the least; I saw it coming a good twenty minutes before the end. People who've been attributing a "message" to this dungheap seem to forget that the only way "Kingdom of the Spiders" could have any message is by ripping off better films made years before.
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30 October 2000
I saw this peculiar film a couple of times very late at night in the 60's; I thought it humorous and slightly provocative at the time. But I was about 12 then too. When I got to see it again as an adult on AMC, I found my tastes and perceptions had changed somewhat. My chief impressions of it now are: a) Steve Allen wasn't a very good actor, b) his wife Jayne Meadows wasn't very good either, c) the film was awfully contrived and preachy, and brimming with stereotypes. I found it interesting that at the time Allen chose to play a heroic professor persecuted for seeking frankness and truth about sex, and years later he lead a self- righteous "anti-smut" crusade against movies and TV. I suppose that sometimes hypocrisy needs years to ripen and bloom. In any case, this film isn't likely to arouse much interest or respect nowadays.
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The Watcher (I) (2000)
nearly unwatchable
21 October 2000
I found this film to be a dismal failure. Keanu Reeves is not at all convincing as a serial killer and seems to know it; he's obviously just biding his time until the sequel to "The Matrix". (The scene which is an obvious ripoff from "Reservoir Dogs" made me moan with disgust.) Marisa Tomei is utterly wasted, having nothing interesting to do in the film and not much screen time to do it. But the worst is James Spader, whose clumsy, obsessed FBI man is simply not credible. The film is very badly edited too; plot elements are thrown out seemingly at random. and all tension is drained from the film. Several viewers (other than myself I mean) in the theater spent most of the film groaning and giggling. Keanu will no doubt survive this bomb, but if there is any justice, "The Watcher" will put an end to the grossly inflated reputation Spader has enjoyed since "sex. lies, and videotape". "The Watcher" is nearly unwatchable.
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33 years haven't changed my opinion.....
12 October 2000
I said it when I saw "Black Hole" at its initial release in 1979, and I've had no reason, from repeated viewings over the course of the twenty eight years since, to alter my opinion. "Black Hole" is one of the worst movies I ever paid money to see. The acting is nothing but wretched and lifeless caricatures; the special effects look like $20, not $20 million; the science is skewed and half-digested synopses from "Popular Science"; and its conclusion is the most clumsy, unbelievable pile of rubbish imaginable. None of these problems have anything to do with the passage of time or the development of better special effects techniques. Maximillian Schell should be ashamed of this film (I long ago learned that Ernest Borginine is beyond embarrassment as an actor).
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Valmont (1989)
better of the two by far
4 October 2000
I notice a bit of a war going on between partisans of this and "Dangerous Liaisons" (the Glenn Close/John Malkovich/Stephen Frears vehicle). I'm not entirely sure why, but I find "Valmont" so much better. I think it's because: A) Milos Forman is unquestionably a better director than Frears, especially when he can call on the photographic talents of a cinematographer like Miroslav Ondricek; B) "Valmont" takes the time to develop some of the relationships between characters on screen, while the other simply injects the viewers into preexisting relationships; C) Colin Firth and Annette Benning are quite simply sexier than Glenn Close and John Malkovich; "Dangerous Liaisons" is too intellectual, while "Valmont" works at the hormonal level too. D) Fairuza Balk is far more believable as a virgin than Uma Thurman (can anyone say differently?!?). I certainly acknowledge "Dangerous Liaisons" as a well-made, well-acted film, but in the end I find it nearly unwatchable compared to "Valmont", which I can (and have) enjoyed over and over.
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Xmas depression made flesh.....
24 July 2000
This isn't even a good idea for a movie. Fey, green-skinned Martians with gas tubing on their heads for no good reason kidnap Santa Claus to make him bring joy to their children. The plot twists and warps like space around a black hole until the screenwriter remembers that the film needs a happy ending. Then one is just manufactured out of thin air. This film would probably scare the dickens out of any kid under six; no child over that would believe such twaddle.
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What is there to like about this movie?
17 July 2000
What is there to like about this movie? Some bumbling incompetent astronauts blunder their way 500 years into the future. Once there they notice that civilization has been all but destroyed in a nuclear war caused by the warlike suspicious tendencies prevalent in the 20th century world they left. They have no moral authority to lecture the survivors about anything, but they do just that. They accuse the (understandably) pacifist survivors of complacency when they refuse to take up once again the weapons that destroyed their world, to wage an unjustified eugenic war of extermination against the deformed (but obviously human) surface dwellers. "World Without End" is a sorry piece of Cold War propaganda, combining a justification of aggression with a dismissal of the danger of nuclear holocaust. It is really quite immoral in its own way, and if it weren't so crudely and cheaply done, it would make me even madder.
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