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The Loch Ness Horror (1982)
We're really in Scotland...really!
Oh Larry Buchanan, we do have fun! Other than B schlockers Attack of the Eye Creatures and Zontar the Thing from Venus, this is the next of Larry's movies that I have had the fortune of seeing. I haven't personally been to Scotland, but a lot of faux Scots accents didn't seem to help convince me they were there either. Is it just me or a magic trick how the Scottish accents drift in and out especially during extended dialogue scenes. Hey, they had to sell it somehow I guess.
Kudos to Doc Livingston for playing Scot eccentric Jack Stewart who provides the most entertainment out of the lot. Jack's daughter (played by Miki McKenzie) is nice to look at and has the best effort in sounding passably Scottish. I won't try to give away about the movie's main attraction, but let's just say that it has really shiny velour skin in sunlight..at least from the neck up. The nose bubbles added a nice touch.
Larry shows his ability to switch from day to night and back to day scenes. Hey, at least they got to shoot the film in sunny weather. Although far from a good movie, Loch Ness Horror is a manageable work by Mr Buchanan and definitely earns it's 'B' grading.
Visiting Hours (1982)
Where was Bill?
Watching this one had me taking a lot of breaks to do something. I mean it's difficult to make a hospital look exciting. See the wheelchairs drift around the hallway corners! A lot of typical horror ploys can be found throughout this one. Kudos to Michael Ironside who plays one effectively messed up eccentric. Why did Lee Grant look like she went bobbing in talcum powder? That's not a knife..it's a safety baton.
This one needed more Shatner. In his short scenes, he shows great concern through facial expressions. He probably got confused wondering where the script had gone. I have to admit..Bill's appearance at the crime scene is the funniest scene ever.
Disaster on the Coastliner (1979)
Speaking of train wrecks
Ah, you have to love the 70s. Time of the made for TV movies.
This train tale of terror includes a lot of separate scenes cut together to appear like some semblance of an actual movie. Scenes range from railroad track construction, several train car interiors, and my favorite: the people gathering to protest. Why or what they are protesting is not really explained but you have to love the shoddy signs and workmanship.
The acting does its best to keep the movie bustling along the tracks. Lloyd Bridges is angry, annoyed and tries to take control pretty much in every scene he is in. I knew I recognized E.G. Marshall from somewhere but didn't recognize him without cockroaches crawling all over as from his performance in the classic Creepshow. E.G. and Lloyd butting heads trying to find a solution provide some highlights.
Bill Shatner saves this from being a true disaster. I can never get enough seeing Bill smoke cigarettes, do his mack daddy Kirk routine, and eluding the authorities all at once. He pretty much stands out whenever on screen and the epic finale makes this worth the ride.
Take the ticket for this 70s version of Speed on trains..except it's better.
The Nasty Rabbit (1964)
Bacteria isn't the only deadly thing here
Ouch, this was one of the most trying Fairway International experiences that I've had to endure. The movie never seemed to flow and I found a lot of reasons to hit the pause button to get a sandwich, read a book, vacuum, go for a quick run...
Why didn't it work? It was as if the weak storyline (thanks a lot William Waters!), a full color production, dude ranch, espionage, and a furry hare were put together in a blender and out came Nasty Rabbit. Much of the humor is forced and there's not even any unintentional humor to be found. There were too many scenes with the secondary characters who carry the film the way a 16 ton weight floats in the ocean (it doesn't). Add stereotypical caricatures including a Mexican bandito garbed in south of the border attire plus sombrero, a Japanese spy in WWII uniform, a German with the worst imitation of Colonel Clink...EVER. Throw in a Russian commander with the worst Russian accent ever attempted (thanks a heap Nicholas Merriwether) and you'll find yourself doing crossword puzzles or making crocheted doilies.
Perhaps if Nasty Rabbit focused more on Britt (Arch Hall Jr) and Jackie (Sharon Ryker), it would have been an improvement. I know I know, I'm asking for more Arch Hall Jr. Trust me, I've seen Eegah and I still think Cabbage Patch Elvis should've gotten more screen time here. More Arch Hall Jr songs (only one is played in the film) would've livened things up. I can't believe I said that, but this is the truth...and I've seen Wild Guitar and the Choppers. And bring back more Richard Kiel! He berates a pint sized calf rustler and then vanishes into film obscurity. Oh, and the Benny Hill chase scenes towards the end caused me spasmic terror to no end.
Still, the bunny credits signs were unique.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
QOS: sophomore slump?
Ah, Quantum of Solace. After Casino Royale, expectations were understandably high for Daniel Craig's second outing as 007. However, the movie as a whole is average at best. After having seen QOS a few times, I do feel that the high points in the film far outweigh the lows overall.
Give credit to Daniel Craig for his portrayal of the no nonsense, stone cold secret agent. I did feel one minor flaw how Bond is shown as a super agile, acrobatic agent able to jump, flip, and somersault his way out of any dangerous situation. James Bond has always be known for using his wits and instincts to survive rather than just brawn alone. However, this is minor and it does provide for entertaining action. I do like how QOS starts off right where Casino Royale ended. The enigmatic Mr. White and his mysterious organization has M & co. at their wits end trying to figure out what he's up to.
The relationships between the characters are great here especially between Bond and M. You sense they are both on shaky ground since M is not sure whether or not she can fully trust him to act objectively (especially after the events in Casino Royale). Bond's stubborn and headstrong ways push the envelope to the edge, but he still manages to prove to M that he is reliable. From the earlier films of Connery, Moore (and so on), M & 007's relationship is already well established. I thought it was interesting to show the early side of it here. Also, Felix Leiter (played well by Jeffrey Wright) and Bond bump into each other again. Even though they've only met once, you can sense the trust between the two. This relationship is a major theme between 007 and Felix in most of the Bond films.
On the downside, QOS suffers from a weak story. The story of Mr. White, Bond's quest for revenge and finding the truth is great, but after the first third of the movie, it tends to drift away from that. The plan of Dominic Greene and Quantum was just not as interesting. The action scenes (car chase, interrogation, hotel battle) are fun, but the times in between seem to hurt the pacing of the film. Dominic Greene was a subpar villain who's best weapon was making threats. Also, Camille came off kind of bland as just seemed to 'be there'. I felt that Fields (Gemma Arterton) played a much more memorable role. In fact, her one scene was strangely reminiscent of Goldfinger.
Overall, QOS is not a bad Bond film. I must admit that I am curious to see how Bond 23 will be, but I must be patient and await MI6's debriefing for that future mission.
You Only Live Twice (1967)
Not the best overall Bond but it's still my personal favorite
What's not to like about You Only Live Twice? It stars the ultimate 007 in Sean Connery, takes place in exotic Japan, and has one of the best Bond villain stars in Donald Pleasance! I can't forget his introduction as he turns in his chair: a Bond top moment in villainy! There's plenty of action in the film ranging from Bond's escapades with danger and an all out good vs bad battle royale finale. There's not too many of Q's gadgets here, but Little Nellie shines on her own. The film is never boring and there's a lot of humor throughout especially one liners from Bond, Tiger Tanaka, AND Blofeld (did I mention Donald Pleasance rules??). For some strange reason, I felt that Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi) left a stronger impression than Kissy (Mie Hama). Hey, you can't go wrong with either one!
Add a great theme song, volcanic fury, and ninja training and this makes for fun & exciting adventure for 007.
Comanche blanco (1968)
Look at me, I can ride a horse!
One thing you have to admit about Shatner: the guy is definitely an entertainer.
White Commanche is a strange hybrid of spaghetti western and the Twilight Zone. The story does not have much humor (except unintentional of course) and has a very dark mood. I have read that this was made during his break from Star Trek and, boy, does Bill have fun in this one! He does well at establishing the two different sides of Johnny Moon and Notah. Both are capable of killing, however, one does it at will and the other only when it is justified (self defense). This makes for some great tension as Moon takes the blame for actions he didn't commit. Joseph Cotten is good as the Sheriff and has good rapport with Shatner throughout the film. Add Rosanna Yanni as the damsel barmaid Kelly and WC is a hoot to watch. Highlights include action scenes, shoot em ups, and Bill showing that he is a seasoned equestrian. Check out the psychedelic bright colors on the sets.
My personal favorite is anytime someone in the movie says with a horrified look "White Commanche!"
Dangan ranna (1996)
For the rush of Sabu
This director makes films which never cease to amuse, entertain, or make me think long after first viewing. Dangan Runner (Non-Stop) is where it all started.
The story is simple. Sabu's characters are interesting in the fact that they are far from perfect and deal with everyday problems which lead to events of grand proportion. Tomorowo Taguchi (Yasuda) is great as our main character (I wouldn't go so far as to call him a hero which is great in this case) who totally puts a spin on the term packing heat (I never caught this till watching this a 2nd time; an ode to Sabu's subtle humor). Rather than relying on long dialogue, the story is a blast to watch as they reveal the characters' situations and how they get caught up in this dilemma. Diamond Yukai is good as the rocking, hazed out Aizawa. The music plays a great role in Dangan Runner as it establishes moods at a breakneck pace. Shin'ichi Tsutsumi makes his Sabu debut and it's apparent why the director chose to work with him in later films. Tsutsumi has this screen presence where he successfully conveys what his character is going through without saying much dialogue. Plus, the image of him sprinting with a blade in hand carries quite an impact. Right from the get go, you can tell Takeda means business even if he's going through yakuza troubles of his own. Ren Osugi is great in his brief, yet vital role as he gives Takeda some helpful insight. Look for Sabu himself (it's very tough not to miss him!). Oh, the actress who plays Midori is a dead ringer for Maggie Cheung, isn't she??
The cinematography in Dangan Runner is fantastic. There are really great shots of modern city life ranging from busy streets, narrow alleyways, construction zones, and pachinko parlors. One awesome shot is on the bridge just right after sunset resulting literally in a purple hazed sky. I noticed one theme in the film is looking into one's self and reaching that point of self realization, coming to realize where you are now, how you got there, and deciding what to do next. The characters here are furiously looking for the answer for each of them and it's through the journey that they find it. Being an avid runner, I can relate with the benefits of running, how it helps with forgetting everyday problems, reflecting on what's on your mind, and at the end, I come out with a great clear headed feeling. Like I mentioned, Sabu makes very thought provoking films.
This work of Leslie Stevens was brought to my attention by the fact that this was one of William Shatner's lesser known works. Strangely enough, the Sci-Fi channel was responsible for re-releasing this film. However, viewing this movie gives an almost surreal hypnotic effect. It reminded me of Rod Serling's classic Twilight Zone except much darker.
The story is easy to follow yet Incubus has an other world-like quality. Perhaps due to Stevens' experience with the Outer Limits? In truth, the The cinematography shines throughout the film and I was surprised to find that this was shot in California. A simple effect as a rustling breeze through a field is stunning to watch. It's a real kick to watch Shatner speak Esperanto since I've never had to read subtitles for his films before. Bill does a great job as Marc and never really goes over the top. You really feel for the guy as the story progresses and his fate awaits. The chemistry is fine between Marc and Kia and an interesting secondary theme is the relationship between Marc and Arndis. Incubus is a great example of the benefit of shooting in black and white as opposed to color. I had expected to see a performance similar to Shatner in Impulse and was pleasantly surprised to discover one of his finer performances.
San ging chaat goo si (2004)
Jackie can still make them like this?
New Police Story definitely took me by surprise. Gone are the days of HK Jackie classics like Armour of God, Drunken Master, or the Police Story trilogy. I am reminded of the pain and bewilderment of his later films such as The Medallion, The Myth, and (shudder!) the Forbidden Kingdom.
NPS is a good mix of story, suspense, and plenty of action; action mixed with gunplay and martial arts. Actually, the action scenes were reminiscent of those from the earlier Police Stories with high octane charge laced with a modern twist. I must admit whether Jackie had done his own stunts here as there are some really creative scenes (the end credits proved that he did). A dark tone lies throughout the film which fits well with what Inspector Chan has to deal with. Plus, credit to Anthony Pun's cinematography which captures some really great shots of modern Hong Kong (both day and night).
I would've rated NPS excellent except for the overdramatics in the film. Kudos to Jackie for stretching out here, but the tears were flowing like the Yangtze! Although this did not detract much from the movie, I can see how certain scenes may have required emotional outbursts. More bullets, flying kicks, and punches for me and thankfully, NPS provides a plethora of them.
Jûsan-nin no shikaku (2010)
Dark Miike = Great Miike
I have been a admirer of Miike's work since Odishon and some of my personal favorites include Ichi the Killer, Visitor Q, and Gozu. His more recent work has shown far and fewer standouts. However, I've always appreciated how Miike includes what he wants in his films no matter how extreme or upsetting. This usually results in great reactions from a live audience. His vision and non mainstream methods of directing occur on different levels (sometimes WAY WAY different). After viewing 13 Assassins, I must admit that Miike has successfully mesmerized me again with this dark tale.
Miike uses a big budget to collaborate the sets, location, weaponry and authentic clothing to really show the times of feudal Japan. Very minimal cgi is used (although one highlight scene garnered a great response in my theater) and the sound effects are powerful ranging from heavy horse hoofs, arrows in-flight, and blade striking blade. Shinzaemon and his nephew Shinrouko really shine. Any scene with Koyata is a blast and he really stands out anytime on screen. I liked how the Assassins and Lord Naritsugu's troops are both well versed in war with the no mercy rule in full effect. Few weak links on either side makes war that much more interesting.
I'd recommend seeing 13 Assassins. It will most likely be an addition to my cinema library.
Tomie or not Tomie
Junji Ito's famous horror saga continues in Tomie Forbidden Fruit. Having read the manga and seen the earlier Tomie films, TFF is successful at establishing a dark enigmatic mood throughout.
It's very tough not to feel for Tomie Hashimoto and her predicament at school and at home. Aoi Miyazaki does well at displaying her loneliness and less than joyful existence. The father is the eccentric piece of the puzzle where you're not exactly sure where he's coming from. After the climax, he leaves a very lasting impression. Then there's Tomie Kawakami herself whose appearance turns their whole world topsy-turvy. Reflecting back, Nozomi Andô was great as the main character. Her range of expressions had shown the mysterious allure Tomie possesses. At one time, she can be friendly with an open ear and then, all of a sudden, uncaring, demanding, and prone to anger.
TFF isn't your typical Ringu type horror. I felt the relationships between these three was the crux to the story as a whole. Before meeting Tomie, the father and daughter weren't in the best of situations. After Tomie enters the picture, you're left to wonder if this an improvement or a catalyst to make matters worse.
Well meaning intentions don't always pan out so well
I don't know why I delayed so long in writing this. Last February, Japan Society in NYC presented a Sabu film perspective and Trouble Man was the finale. The host (who did a very great job) informed us that they had spliced together the 2nd half of the series and put it together as a film. He gave a little background of the story and explained that we would start with the episode of the Hit-man (he is so hilarious!). As soon as it started, I felt myself sucked into the vortex of Sabuism.
The thing that's great about Sabu's films is that they are very off the wall, non traditional, very funny and even dark. Trouble Man is no exception and its non linearity really kept my attention. Despite missing the earlier episodes, it wasn't too hard to follow what was going on. There are characters a plenty in this one. Susumu Terajima has a minor role here, but he garners so much attention when he's in a scene. Sabu is very good at using Terajima-san's acting ability to full extent and it's really entertaining to watch (watch the Blessing Bell by Sabu for further proof). When his scenes would end, I really wanted more Terajima - this guy is the epitome of cool!!! He doesn't say much but when he does, it hits like buckshot from a sawed off shotgun.
Before the film, the host mentioned that Shigeaki Katô (who plays Trouble Man Kazuo Tokuda) is not a seasoned actor and is also part of a music group (boy band) in Japan. Sabu chose him for the lead role and I thought he did a really great job. It's so hard not to feel for Kazuo as you see all the hardships he goes through. However, his 'never give up' attitude is infectious and when Kazuo's story comes up, that's when things get really interesting. Shigeaki Katô shows a wide range of emotions which effectively impact certain scenes and keep the story going. Without giving away what happens, let's just say that he's the anchor to which the boats around him are tied.
What's great about Sabu is he isn't saying what's right or wrong or giving out morality lessons. In life, things happen for good and for bad. Maybe how we react and what we learn from these experiences is what counts. Take what you can from it. Apologies if I got too deep, but it actually took me several months until I finally realized how to word this. Keep in mind I still haven't seen this Trouble Man in its entirety (until I get it on DVD). Definitely recommended. And try to keep the theme song 'Be Funkey!' out of your head...its really tough!!
Alien from L.A. (1988)
Why Atantis stayed lost
Golan Globus, you've done it again!
Done it as in found a highly effective means of inducing a coma through viewing. I've seen Alien from L.A. before and, I will kid you not, rewatching this one had me under the anesthetic TWICE in the same viewing. The dark Atlantean decor, faux Aussie lingo, and Kathy's lulling vocal quality make it very tough to pay attention when you have no idea what's going on and have little or no concern for anything or anyone in the film.
Perhaps the film would have fared better if Wanda just hung out in L.A. and never bothered looking for her dad. Then, the movie title would have been way out of context. I guess there's no saving this one. Still, much less painful than Loaded Weapon.
The Mole People (1956)
Ah, yet another appearance by the great John of Agar. However, this is acceptable (this time) since the Mole People is one movie that I enjoyed a lot more after seeing it a few times. I think Hugh Beaumont as Dr. Jud Bellamin really threw me for a loop.
Beaver:"Gee Wally, where's Dad?"
Wally:"Aw, you know he's away on that archaeological trip in Asia."
Beaver:"Boy, Mom sure does miss him."
Without going too much into the story (oh, don't worry. John 'I have a line every minute' Agar will take care of that), the fun of this adventure is seeing how these poor dopes got into this fiasco in the first place! Ah, stock footage - the under-appreciated staple of any B movie recipe. You'll find that along with some matte paintings. Although, they do add to the grandeur of the underground dwellings. As the journey progresses, our pre-Indy archaeologists discover pasty faced minions, mushrooms galore, Nike worship, really goofy Sumerian chants, and much, much more. Special mention goes to Adad who provides top notch quality service. She is proof that being a marked one can be a good thing - RAWRRRRR!!
What doesn't this movie have? You've got eccentric high priest Elinu played by Alan Napier (best known as stately Wayne Manor's Alfred). LaFarge never fails to cause chaos and hilarity. There's a guilty pleasure in seeing John Agar's failings in the movie...they don't occur often, so I relish those rare moments. The most memorable over-the-top award goes to Frank Baxter as the 'Down Down' Doctor who explains some (totally uninteresting) theories and proceeds to introduce the feature The Mole People as proof. This reminds me why I really don't miss college lectures.
So, watch this one. Please, don't disturb Ishtar on the way out.
The Leech Woman (1960)
This Leech sucked alright
Ah, this film is a great example of a kampy B movie classic. I don't know if I would call it bad..but it definitely falls short of the 'good' realm. There's the breakneck change of place: first we're in the city, then next we're in the wild safari. Edward Dein must've had a great travel agent. Plus, you can't have a low budget flick without stock footage. Worst quicksand ever.
There's a moral to this tale...I think. The pursuit of beauty can come at a price. This is not the most original concept (I prefer Twilight Zone's 'Eye of the Beholder') covered before, but there is a dark texture present throughout the story. Bad deeds go unpunished and good isn't so clear cut. I really thought Jerry Lando stole the show in this one. Played by Arthur Batanides (who plays a great kook in The Unearthly and Mr Kirkland in Police Academy 3!), his character's seediness is disturbing and yet, a very amusing example of the depths that a person can sink to. I wouldn't trust this guy if I saw him standing out on the street on a foggy night. Would you?
So, if you're into latex aging masks, the Leech Woman is one to watch. I still feel this wasn't better than the swamp thriller Attack of the Giant Leeches.
Revenge of the Creature (1955)
Jack Arnold, what did I ever do to you?
More like revenge of the director.
Maybe it's the smug aura of John 'what is it I don't know' Agar, but this one seemed less like a horror flick and more like an inaugural presentation for Sea World. Wouldn't that have been a a great match up: Gill Man vs Shamu! This orca ain't no alligator you can snap in half.
Helen Dobson is a nice distraction from the relenting slow pace quite apparent in the film. Her expertise in ichthyology is most impressive especially in that white swimwear. Can you really blame the Gill Man for trying? Give this movie credit for the creature's special effects. Keeping in mind this was made in 1955, the articulate detail for Gilly adds this other worldy effect and it's so bizarre seeing any scene where his gills flap in and out.
Poor GM, he was just misunderstood. How would you react to repeated cattle prodding?
Agent for H.A.R.M. (1966)
Oh, there's a whole lot of HARM
Paying homage to spy movies such as (the much better) James Bond movies, this late 60s spy snoozer is a real chore to watch. Oh boy, Roger Moore's most slapsticky 007 stinkburger towers over Agent for HARM. Give me Richard Kiel any day over some bad guy name Malko. MALKO???? Sounds like a recalled candy bar brand.
Peter Mark Richman plays our main spy Adam Chance. He's been in a lot of films and shows and this one is not one of his better ones. Adam mostly runs around, drives, rides a bike, fires shots (mostly misses), transmits communication and calls the Vienna Archery Association. Excited yet?? To be frank, I think Peter was more than glad to be in any scene along with Ava who's played by the bikini wrapped Barbara Bouchet. RAWRRRR, she's the only reason HARM gets a few extra points as her film presence is quite pleasing to the corneas. Watch where he cops a feel or two on Ava as well.
And there's a surprise twist ending too: they didn't make a sequel.
Defender of pension check collectors
Reb Brown is back as Captain America in this second parter of what was supposedly going to be a TV series. I definitely prefer this one than the first because it has a lot more action, a bigger budget, and it's way more goofier!! Christopher Lee plays a baddie named Miguel(HUH?). That's almost as bad as when he played Fu Manchu. Watch for a thug named Stader who's a dead ringer for Joe Don Baker's Mitchell (MITCHELL!).
I noticed this showcased a more human side of Steve Rogers. He doesn't have to help the elderly with the gangs who are bullying them, but he does. Steve would rather be painting or just chill by the beach. Sure, he dons his red white and blue garb, but he spends a lot of time investigating as Steve Rogers which adds a more likability factor. Steve finds out the truth to the adage 'words may never hurt me, but baseball bats really pack a wallop'. There's a romantic side story here where Reb Brown shows that he's an all around good guy. Don't forget the one liners - they're in the contract!
Much of the entertainment comes from Captain America breaking boxes with his mega punch, bruising up dock workers, performing a banister slide attack, and a hang glider scene rivaled only by Ator's in Cave Dwellers. There's a hilarious forklift scene which was later paid homage in the masterpiece Fugitive Alien (KEN!). During the dam scene, I wonder if the director yelled, 'Cut! Oh, man. See if Reb's alright. MEDIC! We need a medic here!!'
All in a day's work for a superhero from Cali.
Snakes..why does it have to be snakes?
When Sam Chew (*gesundheit!*) Jr is the star of your movie, you can pretty much tell you are in for a painful viewing experience. Although I must admit, Sam does steal the spotlight in Being from Another Planet a.k.a. Time Walker in the climactic scene where you really have to hand it to him (OUCH, that stings!).
This 70s romp takes place mostly in the desert and even more so in poorly lit, almost pitch black scenes - a staple grade for any B movie. There's stock footage, helicopter POV shots, and no acting required. The manic colonel played by Dan Priest provides more ham than a Subway $5 special. For the Wooden Plank award, I was going to give it to the Dan Balentine as the pilot, but this honor goes solely to Elisabeth Chauvet who provided me with plenty of migraine inducement. Still, she does provide visual enrichment and I'm sure Sam didn't mind pitching a tent with her (literally!). As for the rest of the movie, the rattlers and snakes shine as the real stars here. I clapped and applauded as vicious snakebites helped in thinning the herd. They also provided for much of the fun. Think of Rattlers as one of those nature documentary specials...except not very good.
I had the pleasure of seeing this film at the Mayo Center for the Performing Arts in Morristown, NJ presented by Cinematic Titanic. Having been a huge fan of these guys, it was a surrealfully hilarious pleasure seeing them perform live. Never before have my temples and neck muscles ached from loud out laughing as they played to packed house. The Titans are highly recommended!
The Starfighters (1964)
More effective than Nytol
Wait, this isn't the prequel to the Last Starfighter?
How can such a cool sounding title be such a snorefest? The Starfighters is an effective medium for convincing people not to join the Air Force! The whole soundtrack made it feel like the only thing missing was a narrator saying "It's a Swinger's Life in the Air Force." It seemed odd to have such a swinging jazzy score during the bombing runs (dig those spinning explosives, you crazy hep cat!). If your interests include a whole lot of saluting, a commanding officer inappropriately calling his subordinates 'good-looking', fifth wheeling, innuendos galore, one of the goofiest whirlybirds ever invented, and extended stock footage, then maybe you can hire...the Starfighters.
The Clonus Horror (1979)
Strange Milwaukee's Best ad
After several viewings of Clonus, this movie is not as bad as I had first thought. Sure, Robert Fiveson didn't have a huge budget, but the story definitely holds an interesting premise especially with scientific advancements today. You know there are some labcoats who've toyed with this notion before. Clonus is not recommended for those heavily reliant on Prozac. An extra plus for the dark undertone throughout this film.
Clonus has its B grade charm: you get to see L.A., um I mean, *AMERICA* in the late 70s. There's the whole mind control effect and punishment for refusing to conform. Hey, that's the Enterprise red alert sound when Richard's running through the hallways! He really should have just called Jack Tripper to help him out or hide out at the Regal Beagle. Dick Sargent is at his ominous best and is only upstaged by the short, yet effective cameo by the late Peter Graves.
Only you can prevent crotch fires.
Hilarity's great especially when it's unintentional
This movie is so odd. We are not in Flagstaff. The horror is not from scares or frights, but rather at the low budgetness of this B schlocker. Maybe the heir of seriousness in the film makes it so difficult NOT to laugh.
Any scene with Paul and Natalie is comic gold. Romantic chemistry is nowhere to be found between the two and comes off as very awkward: looking like the other one is thinking, "What's my next line?" Extra kudos to Adrianna Miles for winning the Valeria award from Robot Holocaust (Yes Dak-won!). Still, Natalie serves as stunning eye candy (I'd rack the table next for her!), but this sadly does not make up for the pain and woe of her phonics lessons.
Incidentally, the babe's name in Werewolf and in Soultaker (Vivian Schilling) is Natalie. These two B grade gems both have Joe Estevez..COINCIDENCE?? Yeah, probably, but Joe fares much better as a soul repo man than as an archaeologist (the security guard had more screen time for crying out loud!). And lastly, the Platinum Turkey award goes to Jorge Rivero as Yuri. He steals any scene he's in and his erratic behavior provides for much of the entertainment in this lycanthropic limburger fest.
"You and Noel is in it for fame and fortune?" (too funny!!!)
Hamlet, Prinz von Dänemark (1960)
Something is dubbed in the state of Denmark
Although I prefer the darker tale of Macbeth, this is a decent production of Shakespeare's classic. Having seen the English dubbed version, I would have preferred seeing the original in German with subs; dubbing tends to affect the emotional performance(s). This results in actors saying lines which at times come off as mismatched and leaving the viewer scratching their noggin in befuddlement. Having Hamlet being shot in black in white gives the production a bleak, surreal sort of mood. For a second, I had thought that Rod Serling would come out with cigarette in hand saying:
'These guard sentries do not realize it yet, but that shadowy spectre looming off in the darkness..will set off a series of events..all beginning with one Danish prince.'
Kudos to Maximilian for his portrayal of Hamlet. I also strangely enjoyed the leery presence of Hans Caninenberg..he makes you realize that Claudius is just up to no good whatsoever. A few extra points for Denmark being in another dimension..a dimension not only of sight and sound but of...ah, you know the rest!
Strike Commando (1987)
The Bruno-Reb Syndicate can do no wrong
Strike Commando is probably my favorite of the Bruno-Reb collaborations. This movie wastes no time getting right into the action. Hilarity ensues as the enemy camp's security appears to consist primarily of your standard backyard fencing. Also, if your guards are playing mah jong while on duty, you're seriously asking for trouble (HEY, where were the subtitles in the movie? I really wanted to know what the Vietnamese guards were saying).
The main characters are played well and not too over the top (please see RoboWar for that). Major Harriman looks like a hybrid of Colonel Trautman and Flint from G.I. Joe. Meanwhile, Colonel Redak does his best impression of Gary Busey profusely sweating while looking generally nervous throughout. Le Due (Luciano Pigozzi) is awesome as a frenchman in Vietnam. Apparently Pag (from Yor) traded in his bow & arrow for a flask.
Reb Brown as Mike Ransom does not fail to entertain. Once the order "OK, let's move!" is issued, then you know the adventure ride has begun. This was the most swearing I've heard him do in a film..war is hell I guess. The bonus is that Ransom excels at high shrieked profanities. Ransom's wake up scene introduces the first usage of the 'upside-down hang' cam. As a soldier of morality, he also delivers the strangest Disney promotion ever heard. No one can build up a kid's dream of popcorn/ice cream trees and dash them to the ground better than Reb! Finally, the scene with Ransom and Jakoda is reminiscent of the infamous Jason vs Ivan battle from 'No Retreat, No Surrender'...except it's good!
This is my favorite Bruno Mattei film; he makes use of a previous explosion scene from Robowar (and shows it at least 5 times here!). No director can make use of Vietnam stock footage (a booby trap is super imposed in one scene - hilarious!) or blows up models better than Vincent Dawn. Strike Commando's still much better than 'Deadly Prey'.