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Sexy Wives Sinsations (2013 TV Movie)
A Lot of Hot Women and Good Sex Scenes
19 August 2018
Sexy Wives Sinsations (2013)

*** (out of 4)

Cops (including Cindy Lucas) go undercover at a sex clinic because they believe the owner is using mind control to make the patients commit a variety of crimes. The cops make it into the clinic but soon they're just having a lot of sex.

Jim Wynorski is the greatest filmmaker when it comes to these types of sexploitation picture. Yes, by 2013 they were certainly being replaced by all of the free porn on the internet but there's no question that Wynorski knows what his audiance wants and he delivers it.

This here is a sequel to SEXY WIVES SINDROME, which I haven't watched as of writing this so I can't say how much better or worse this picture is. With that being said, I really enjoyed the film for what it is and what is it? It's a sexploitation movie that shows off the bodies of a lot of hot women and lets us view all sorts of simulated sex scenes.

That's pretty much all there is to the picture but Wynorski keeps the film moving at a very nice pace and one that never lets the picture get boring. Best of all is that all of the ladies are quite attractive and the sex scenes are also erotic and a lot of fun. The girl on girl on girl scenes are certainly wonderful and rather creative in what all happens. You've also got a chocolate syrup scene between Christine Nguyen and Melissa Jacobs. What else could you want?
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Revenge (II) (2017)
Some Big Flaws but It's An Entertaining Movie
19 August 2018
Revenge (2017)

*** (out of 4)

Rather insane French film has Richard (Kevin Janssens) taking his mistress Jen (Matilda Lutz) to a house that is used by him and his hunting buddies. The hunting buddies Stan (Vincent Colombe) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchede) arrive and the next morning Jen is raped by one of them. Fearing what might happen Richard tries to kill Jen but after a horrendous injury she survives to get revenge.

I guess the only word that comes to my mind after watching this film is "wow." I mean, really? To say that I'm a bit shocked would be an understatement and I say that for a number of reasons. This film was released to all sorts of controversy with some people walking out on it and others calling it a masterpiece. Well, I didn't walk out on it and I don't think it's a masterpiece. REVENGE is certainly an entertaining movie but the more I think about it the more logical issues I have with it.

For starters, I'm going to avoid spoilers but how in the Hell did Jen survive what happened to her? With that out of the way, the first portion of this film is exceptionally good with director Coralie Fargeat doing a terrific job with the introduction of the characters and she also handles the pre-rape sequence very well. These rape/revenge movies have been done to death but I thought the director did a great job building up the tension leading up to the rape.

What didn't work with the film was a few logical issues that kept creeping up throughout the movie including it appearing that all of the characters turned into superheroes. Another problem with the film is that at times I think all of the style gets in the way of the story but this here was just a minor issue. Even with these issues you can't help but love the performances from the entire cast and especially those of Lutz and Janssens. Both of them were wonderful in their parts and especially Lutz since she doesn't get much dialogue and instead must act with her eyes to let us know what's going on with the character.

The music score, the cinematography and editing are all wonderful and there's no doubt that this is an extremely well-made film. As I said, I thought there were certainly some flaws but even with them I couldn't help but enjoy the film as a pure exploitation picture. I mean, there's a lot of really graphic violence and a ton of blood throughout the movie so gore hounds are going to be happy. The film is pretty darn sleazy throughout and for the most part I enjoyed it.
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Stepfather III (1992 TV Movie)
Decent But Could Have Been Better
18 August 2018
Stepfather III (1992)

** (out of 4)

After the events in the previous film, the stepfather finds himself at a plastic surgeon changing his apperance. Flash forward nine months and single mother Christine (Priscilla Barnes) meets the charming Keith Grant (Robert Wightman). The two quickly fall in love but Christine's young son Andy (David Tom) just feels that something isn't quite right with his new stepfather.

You know, STEPFATHER III was obviously just a cheap film to try and cash in on the success of the first two but I must say that there was an actual good movie lurking around this thing but sadly it just never came together, which is really too bad. With that being said, the film was quite frustrating to me because for every good thing there were at least two bad ones and in the end the film is more of a disappointment than anything else.

Obviously the plastic surgery bit was done because Terry O'Quinn wasn't willing to come back to the film. This entire gimmick seems pretty stupid so perhaps it would have been a better idea had they simply started the series over and had a new person doing the killings. However, that decision wasn't made and we've got the same guy once again looking for the perfect family. One of the film's good parts is the fact that there's a twist in the story where a second family enters the picture halfway through. I really liked how they did this and thought it added something fresh to the story.

I liked other touches throughout the film including smaller moments where Keith is carrying out these two lives and mixes them up. One example is when he says the wrong child's name. I also thought there was a nice jump scene towards the very end of the picture. Performances are also rather mixed here as Barnes was quite good and I also liked John Ingle in the role of Father Brennan. As for Wightman, I just didn't care too much for him in the role. I thought some of his line deliveries were unintentionally funny and he just wasn't much of a threat to me.

Another problem that I had with the film is that the filmmakers didn't seem to realize that they were making a horror film. This movie clocks in at 104-minutes, which is way too long for this type of film. A lot of the family drama could have been left out and the film just takes way too long to get where it's going. Had some of this been edited out there's no question that the film would have been more entertaining. The death scenes are all done cheaply but they look okay.
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Pleasure Spa (2013 TV Movie)
Highly Entertaining Sexploitation Picture
18 August 2018
Pleasure Spa (2013)

*** (out of 4)

Dusty (Cindy Lucas) is running a massage parlor with all sorts of beautiful ladies. A couple new clients enter the business and what Dusty doesn't realize is that they're actually undercover cops trying to see if the ladies are doing a tad bit more than rubbing backs.

PLEASURE SPA comes from director Jim Wynorski who is one of the best directors out there when it comes to "B" movies. He has worked in pretty much every genre and that includes making several of these sexploitation movies for television. These type of movies were big back in the day because places like Cinemax and HBO would show them on Friday and Saturday nights. Today the genre isn't as big but I must say that PLEASURE SPA was one of the better films I've seen from the genre.

Wynorski always makes entertaining films and that's certainly the case here because there are some really good scenes throughout. Of course, this is a sexploitation movie so there are countless scenes of simulated sex and the scenes are extremely well done and I might add quite erotic as well. The cast is full of beautiful ladies so there's never nothing good not on the screen. There are some very erotic moments as well as some downright fun ones including one sequence where six ladies try to fit into what has to be the largest shower ever.

Perhaps the highlight of the film is a topless tennis match, which has to be the greatest tennis match since Alfred Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. If you're looking for a hard-hitting drama or something to make you warm and fuzzy on the inside then this movie isn't going to be for you. If you're looking for some cheap fun with plenty of naked ladies then PLEASURE SPA delivers.
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Camel Spiders (2011 TV Movie)
Weaker Monster Attack Film
18 August 2018
Camel Spiders (2011)

* 1/2 (out of 4)

U.S. soldiers fighting in the Middle East come across a strange form of camel spiders that are very large, very venomous and always willing to attack humans. They accidentally bring some back to Arizona and soon everyone is under attack.

CAMEL SPIDERS is a monster movie from Roger Corman and director Jim Wynorski but sadly the end results aren't nearly as good as one would have hoped. The film is basically what you'd expect from a SyFy movie as the budget is quite low, the story simple and the highlights are of course the giant spiders.

These type of monster movies really aren't anything new as you can go back to the 1950's where they were being produced around the clock. Of course, the big difference with these current ones are the fact that the monsters are now CGI. The effects here were obviously done without too much money and they look it but I must say that the cheapness of the spiders was a plus. I thought the scenes with them attacking were certainly the best thing going on in the picture and it's too bad that there wasn't more of it.

The biggest problem with this film are the characters. I just didn't care or like any of them and without anyone to like it just really made the film drag in spots. The boring characters also dragged the movie down whenever our killing spiders weren't around.
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Decent Sexploitation Film from Friedman
18 August 2018
Thar She Blows! (1968)

** (out of 4)

Steve Vincent plays an always grumpy boat captain who is constantly yelling at this beautiful sister whenever she gets close to a man. At first we don't know why the captain is so grumpy but we soon find out just in time for a group of people to charter his boat and things take a bad turn.

Producer David Friedman knew a great title and a great trailer could get people to see a movie and there's no question that THAR SHE BLOWS! has both of those. There's also no question that the film itself doesn't quite live up to either but that's not to say that this sexploitation film doesn't have a few good things going for it.

Well, to be honest, the main good thing that the film has going for it are the beautiful ladies that are constantly showing off their nude bodies. The film at least delivers on that level as the ladies are quite attraction and we get a great scene with two of them on the bed together messing around. These type of scenes certainly sell the sexploitation part of the film.

There is one act of violence here, which I won't ruin as it has a major plot turn. With that said, the added gore to this scene is a major plus and I thought the way it was shot and show was quite effective. Performances are pretty much what you'd expect from a film like this since most were hired because of their willingness to be naked and not for their acting talents.

THAR SHE BLOWS! isn't a masterpiece or even a good movie but if you're a fan of sexploitation titles then there's enough going on to make it worth watching.
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Excellent Documentary on Troma and Its Founder
18 August 2018
Greetings from Tromaville (2017)

**** (out of 4)

This here is an excellent documentary telling the story of Lloyd Kaufman who would become a king in the independent market with Troma. The documentary covers his early life, how he got into the movie business and the forming of what would become Troma. Through interviews with Kaufman as well as those who know him and have worked with him we learn just about everything a fan would want to know.

GREETINGS FROM TROMAVILLE is about as great of a documentary that you're going to get about the subject of Troma. I really thought this was a wonderfully entertaining film and this is especially true if you're a fan of Kaufman as we get his thoughts on a wide range of topics including his early films as well as some of the more controversial topics with the company. This includes the rather "tame" sequels to THE TOXIC AVENGER.

I thought some of the best stuff was early on when we hear about what Kaufman was going to do and probably would have been doing had there not been a little fate to get him interesting in movies. Some other great stuff comes later in the film as we get some behind-the-scenes footage from some of the later day Troma films where we see Kaufman at work and we also get to hear about how he tries to make one person cry on set.

The interviews are all exceptionally entertaining and there's no doubt that Kaufman himself knows how to tell a fun story so listening to him was great. We get to hear about the early Troma movies, the popular stuff, the studio's comeback and we also get to hear about their distribution deals on titles like BLOODSUCKING FREAKS and REDNECK ZOMBIES.
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Good Documentary from Capra
17 August 2018
Here Is Germany (1945)

*** (out of 4)

Anthony Veiller narrates this entry into Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series. This film takes a look at Germany and tries to explain how they became what they did. We start off with a "cute" scene of the narrator explaining the great things about Germany but the tone quickly changes when we see the horrors from WWII including hundreds of dead bodies as well as the furnaces where so many were killed.

HERE IS GERMANY is one of the better films in the series as there's actually very little propaganda and instead it shows the horrors of the war. This series was good for the most part but there's no question that some of the comments were meant to produce anger or fear. There's nothing here that goes for fear but instead it shows what horrors Germany was actually committing in case there was someone watching who might not have realized why America was at war.

There's some great discussions about WWI as well as the then current situation and how going into the future America was going to be in charge of Germany, their school books and making sure that the events that happened would never happen again.
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Jane (1962)
Excellent Look at the Pre-Famous Fonda
17 August 2018
Jane (1962) *** 1/2 (out of 4)

This here is a fascinating documentary from D.A. Pennebaker that follows Jane Fonda as she is about to open a new play on Broadway. We learn about where she was at the time in regards to fame, how she was trying to step out of her father's shadow and we get to see behind-the-scenes as the play is put together and eventually released to the public.

At the time this was made Fonda had yet to become a star so watching this today it's interesting to see where she was at this point in her career and you've got to think that she would never imagine that a few years later she would pick up an Oscar. This documentary really works well because it gives you a great view of what it was like to put on a play as well as an idea of how failure can happen at anytime.

The B&W cinematography was really wonderful and I must say that it captured the city perfectly. There were some great shots of the crew outside the theater, which allowed us to see New York City back in the day. There are some great moments with Fonda and director/boyfriend Andréas Voutsinas are fighting about certain scenes in the play. You fans of Fonda will also get to see her in a skimpy bikini and hear her reaction to it.

JANE is a really exceptional documentary that is highly recommended and it doesn't matter if you're a fan of Fonda or not.
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Very Good Look at Allin
17 August 2018
Hated: GG Allin & the Murder Junkies (1993)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Before directing comedies like ROAD TRIP, DUE DATE and THE HANGOVER trilogy, Todd Phillips started his career with this documentary that takes a look at punk legend GG Allin. The documentary covers every aspects of the controvesrial artists life including his death, which happened during the post-production of this film.

If you're a fan of punk music then you've probably heard about Allin. If you're not a fan of the music and you don't know who Allin is then you'll certainly want to check this documentary out, although I'm sure it will make you scared of Allin more than make you admire his talent.

I say he'll end up scaring you because this was a pretty messed up guy and some of his actions on stage are beyond shocking. Of course, some people will say that Allin was just a freak show without much talent but I'll let the viewer make up their own mind. Some of the stuff that Allin did was very shocking including performing naked as well as pooping himself and performing in it. His final concert has become somewhat legendary in its own ways and that too is covered here.

This is certainly a very entertaining film but there's no doubt that it's main goal was to show Allin and expose him tot he wolrd. Who know what would have happened had Allin lived and not died during the post-production but as it stands, this is a fitting look at his life, career and death.
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Average Western
17 August 2018
Battle of Rogue River (1954)

** (out of 4)

Set in Oregon, the Army and Major Frank Archer (George Montgomer) are ordered to make peace with the Indians once and for all. Archer manages to make a deal with the Indian leader but someone goes against both sides and gets a war started.

BATTLE OF ROGUE RIVER is your average Western that features a rather familiar story and in all honesty it really doesn't stand out in a very crowded genre. These type of stories go back to the silent days as you've got good Americans and bad Indians trying to make peace but of course something happens and the good guys have to rise to the fight.

Director William Castle was probably just trying to bring this film in on budget and on time. I'm going to guess that was much more important than actually delivering some sort of masterpiece. As it stands, the film is pretty much average on every level as the story isn't original, the performances are decent and the director at least keeps things moving at a decent pace but there's just nothing here that stands out. I will say that the cinematography was quite good and the final battle sequence was nice.
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A Rather Sad End to the Series
16 August 2018
The Decline of Western Civilization Part III (1998)

**** (out of 4)

This third and to date final entry in Penelope Spheeris' series takes us back to the punk rock scene just like the first film but instead of looking at the people on the stage this here takes a look at the punk kids who are mostly homeless and living on the streets.

This third film in certainly a lot different than the first two in the series and if you're looking for a fun time you're aren't going to find it here. I say that because these "kids" are all a rather sad bunch and I can't help but be somewhat judgmental here. Sure, the film itself doesn't judge this kids and that's what makes it great because the director really digs into the subject but as a viewer you can't help but form an opinion.

The film takes a honest look at the subjects and that includes some of them that were abused by their parents as well as many who see only death in their future. The film shines a spotlight on these kids who are homeless, living in the streets and bugging people for a little change to try and earn a few bucks for alcohol. They steal what food they eat and they have very little to no plans to be an adult, get a job or do something with their lives.

As I said, I respect Spheeris for not being judgmental and instead just showing the kids and their situation as is. Of course, it's rather ironic that the kids are constantly badmouthing the police yet look at how they live. It's easy to see why these kids would hate the "establishment" and it's because they don't want rules and instead want to do things their way. Watching this twenty-years after its release I can't help but wonder what happened to these kids.
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Great Look at the Punk Scene
16 August 2018
The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

**** (out of 4)

The first film in Penelope Spheeris' trilogy takes a look at the punk scene in Los Angeles during the 1979-80 period where bands like Alice Bag Band, Circle Jerk, Fear, Germs and Catholic Discipline were all the rage.

I've heard a lot of people say they wouldn't watch this movie because they aren't a fan of punk music but that always seemed a bit strange to me. I mean, do you need to be a fan of serial killers to watch a documentary on Jack the Ripper? I'm not a big fan of punk music but there's no question that this here is one of the greatest documentaries that you're going to see on the subject.

I say that because you can just smell the beer, the sweat and everything else that you might expect to see and smell in one of these small clubs. Spheeris really did a remarkable job at paining a picture of what the scene was like and really getting in there to show people what was going on during this era. There's a lot of great footage inside the clubs where we hear the music as well as see the people coming to these shows and what they were doing there.

The highlight of the film is actually the various interviews with the performers. Obviously you get to know them as the director does a terrific job with the questions as well as just getting in there and getting answers to the questions the viewer would have. Some of the best moments come from her trying to figure out why these men (and women) are into the violence and what the violence means to them.

Whether you're into punk or not, this documentary is a highly entertaining look at the people who perform as well as react to what the music means.
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Good Start to the Series
16 August 2018
Prelude to War (1942)

*** (out of 4)

Walter Houston narrates this documentary, which was the first of seven in Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series. The series was produced by the U.S. Government to explain WWII people who might not understand why we were going to war.

When viewing these films today it's important to remember that they were propaganda movies that were meant to gain support for WWII. I'm sure many people could look at these movies today and see various flaws and issues with them but when reviewing them I keep in mind when and why they were made.

This documentary starts off talking about what it was that made America get into the war. Obviously Pearl Harbor is mentioned and we also learn about what is going on overseas. From here we learn about the enemies that we are fighting and we also ehar from some Americans on their thoughts about the war.

There's certainly nothing ground-breaking about this film or any others in the series but for the most part this here was entertaining enough to make it worth watching. It will probably appeal to history buffs more than film buffs but it's still a good start to the series.
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Fair Western from Castle
16 August 2018
The Gun That Won the West (1955)

** (out of 4)

Director William Castle and producer Sam Katzman teamed up for this cheap Western that takes place after the Civil War as the government wants to build some forts but it is in Sioux territory so they recruit Jim Bridger (Dennis Morgan) to lead the project. It doesn't take long for the project to run into trouble with the Indians.

THE GUN THAT WON THE WEST has an epic title but of course that's certainly not what was delivered. If you know anything about Castle or Katzman then you know they were masters at working on low-budgets and delivering cheap entertainment. That's not to say that their cheap movies weren't entertaining at times but there's no doubt that movies like this were meant to be rushed into theaters to make a quick buck.

In all honesty, if you're a fan of these type of "B" Westerns then you should get some mild entertainment out of this. I think the most impressive thing for me was how many extras were on hand here. This was especially true for the Indian characters as their group was quite large during certain scenes and I was surprised because of the budget. The story itself is pretty typical and there's certainly nothing original going on.

For the most part Morgan was mildly entertaining as was Richard Denning and Paula Raymond. There's certainly nothing great about the performances or the characters but, then again, we're watching a "B" movie. Castle keeps the film moving along well enough so fans of his will enjoy this.
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More Propaganda
14 August 2018
Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party (2016)

** (out of 4)

The man behind 2016: OBAMA'S AMERICA is back with yet another "documentary" that tries to explain the evilness behind the Democratic Party. All of this leads up to show what an evil woman Hillary Clinton is and why her and her husband are monsters trying to destroy the country.

I saw 2016: OBAMA'S AMERICA in the theater because at the time I was pretty much watching every movie that came out. I went into the theater knowing very little about the filmmaker or what the film was going to be about and I was amazed at the propaganda that was being said. I personally couldn't tell you how much of it was fiction or fact but the entire film had a certain desperation about it as the message was very clear. Spread fear to try and make people think one way.

Hey, that's what documentaries do these days. They very rarely look at a topic down the middle or in a fair way but instead they try to push their own ideas onto people. They often cover up facts, leave out important details or slant the truth to make it seem like something it isn't. This here is to be expected and it's something that I'm used to at this point in my life.

So, what about this movie? For the most part it's another propaganda piece that tries to explain why the Democratic Party is so bad. Again, I'm not sure how many lies or facts are here as I'm sure everyone is going to form their own opinion on the various subjects here. I personally can't stand Clinton but I can't say that there was anything here that made me feel better or worse about here. There wasn't anything here that we haven't seen others bring up and in all honesty it was pretended in a rather boring way.

The film has a very cheap feel to it and it's clear that the director wanted to spread fear and I'm sure it worked on some people.
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Fun Cast Lifts Up Routine Romantic Comedy
14 August 2018
Texas, Brooklyn & Heaven (1948)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Eddie Tayloe (Guy Madison) is working at a Texas newspaper when he inherits some money and decides to head off to New York City to try and become a playwright. On the ride there he meets Perry Dunklin (Diane Lynn) and agrees to give her a lift to the city. Once there they split up but soon they are going to be reunited.

William Castle, yes, that William Castle, directed this romantic comedy that borrows a few moments from IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, which is pretty remarkable when you think about it. That Capra film was released more than a decade earlier yet it was still being ripped off in 1948. With that being said, TEXAS, BROOKLYN & HEAVEN isn't a masterpiece or even a good movie but it is a pleasant entertainment that is worth watching.

The film is basically a romantic comedy that works in large part because of its two stars. I wouldn't say that Madison or Lynn gave great performances but both of them are just so cute and charming in the film that you can't help but enjoy watching them and their adventures as their characters slowly get back together. I thought the film did a good job with at least keeping you entertained by the story and Castle managed to keep the film moving at a nice pace and delivering some charm along the way.

The film is pretty basic in regards to its story as there's certainly nothing here that we haven't seen countless times before. As I said, the two leads are just so charming together that you don't mind going along for the ride. The supporting players include James Dunn, Florence Bates, Margaret Hamilton in a small role and Roscoe Karns in a brief bit. James Dean is said to be in the picture but I wasn't able to spot him.
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Matinee (1993)
Fun Homage to William Castle
14 August 2018
Matinee (1993)

*** (out of 4)

Set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, this film tells the story of "B" horror movie producer Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman) who takes his new movie MANT to a Key West theater where he befriends a teenage monster movie fan (Simon Fenton) and teaches him the tricks to the trade.

MATINEE is a film that I saw on opening night when it was first released and it took me a while to get back for a revisit. I must admit that I'm really shocked a movie like this ever got made but less shocking is the fact that it didn't do too well at the box office. As is the case with many films that flop on their original release, this Joe Dante film picked up a lot of momentum on video and eventually found an audience.

As far as the film goes, it's clear that it's a love letter to old monster movies and to William Castle. If you don't know who Castle was, he was a director who turned out low-budget monster movies with each one having some sort of gimmick. Those gimmick's are the key point to this film and it's clear that Woolsey is meant to be Castle. If you're a fan of these old monster movies then you're certainly going to enjoy this film because it's a great throwback to when these type of films were all the rage.

The film offers up some great moments with a lot of them coming from the performances. Goodman is wonderful in his role of the producer and Cathy Moriarty is a lot of fun as the woman with him. Fenton, Omri Katz, Lisa Jakub and Kellie Martin are a lot of fun as the teenagers. You've also got the great Dick Miller in a fun role as well as other famous faces who show up in smaller parts. The film certainly captures a certain nostalgia and that's a great thing.

I think the film is flawed at times including how it shows the majority of the MANT movie. I think the footage of this movie is flawless and absolutely wonderful but at the same time it really takes away from the main story that is going on. Watching MANT on its own is great fun and most of the clips shown here are fun but it just doesn't mesh with the rest of the picture.

With all of that being said, Dante's touch is right on the mark and MATINEE is certainly a lot of fun.
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The Meg (2018)
Some Flaws But Overall a Good Popcorn Movie
13 August 2018
The Meg (2018)

*** (out of 4)

Normally I start off my reviews with a description of the plot but is that really needed for a movie like THE MEG? Okay, a brief one. Jason Statham battles a prehistoric shark that is destroying everything in its path.

THE MEG was released to a bit of controversy as a lot of people were upset that the studio decided to go for a PG-13 rating instead of a violent and gory R rating. With nearly $150-million on the line I can see why Warner would be nervous about releasing a R rated movie but at the same time I don't think movies can be judged on what they are rated. THE MEG isn't gory or ultra-violent so if that's what you're wanting then it's best to go somewhere else. If you just want a fun popcorn flick then the movie delivers.

There's actually a bit more plot here than I'm giving the film credit for but there's no question the main goal was to see Stratham in a variety of scenes where he must go up against the shark. For the most part I thought the film worked well, although there were certainly some flaws with the picture including it not seeming to know what it wanted to be. The early scenes are rather dark and it seems as if the director wanted to build up tension. Then the film starts to add more laughs and one-liners and there's no doubt that the tone changes. I think one or the other would have been a lot better.

With that being said, I think THE MEG delivers what you would expect it to and that's a lot of fun action scenes with the giant shark doing massive damage to things while the humans must find a way to stop it. There were several good scenes in the picture including an early rescue mission where three people are trapped on the ocean floor. I also thought the ending was quite good and there's no doubt that the action scenes were well-staged and fun.

Stratham delivers what you would expect out of him. Hey, he's not Marlon Brando but he's not hired to do that kind of acting. I thought he was fun in the role and there's no question that he made it somewhat plausible that his character would be willing to battle this shark. Bingbing Li was good as well as Rainn Wilson, Page Kennedy and Cliff Curtis. The score was also nicely done and there's no doubt that the cinematography was top-notch.

Having said that, I do wish there had been a bit more shark action. The shark looked extremely good and this is coming from someone who really isn't a fan of CGI. The effects were extremely good but I just wish we had gotten to see more of them.
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A Real Frankenstein Picture
13 August 2018
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch (1976)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

This here is a rather interesting tribute to the countless "B" Westerns that were so popular back in the day. The gimmick of this film by Robert Patterson is that he took clips from dozens of movies and edited them together into one movie so that the various cowboy heroes of the past could be in one movie, working together to get the bad guys.

John Wayne, Rex Allen, Gene Autry, Don Barry, William Boyd, Johnny Mack Brown, Buster Crabbe, Eddie Dean, Hoot Gibson, Tim Holt and Monte Hale are just some of the stars that are show here and we also get some famous sidekicks too.

MEANWHILE BACK AT THE RANCH is a film that I respected more than I really enjoyed. I say that because it was pretty fascinating seeing them do a Frankenstein type of picture meaning that they took clips from dozens of other movies and made their own out of them. There's some new narration that is meant to help us know what's going on and I thought this was an interesting way to tell a story.

With that said, the film simply doesn't work because the footage is obviously from different movies and it just never really flows as one movie. Again, on a technical level I thought they did a good job but it was just impossible to really get a flow to the picture when you know you're watching one movie this second and then another the next. The gimmick was an interesting one but I just don't think it fully worked in the end.

I will say that fans of these "B" movies will want to check it out as a curio but that's about it.
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Klondike Kate (1943)
Fun B Western from Castle
13 August 2018
Klondike Kate (1943)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Kathleen O'Day (Ann Savage) arrives in a small Alaskan town to claim the bar that her father left her. She soon discovers that it was bought by Jefferson Braddck (Tom Neal) and he's not willing to let it go. Soon the two go into business for each other but this doesn't sit well with Lita (Constance Worth) because she's in love with Jefferson.

KLONDIKE KATE is a low-budget Western from director William Castle and for the most part it's entertaining enough to make it worth watching. At just 64-minutes there's certainly nothing overly detailed here but that's just fine because for a "B" Western this thing works in large part to the cast that is a lot of fun.

Whenever one watches a movie like this you really can't be expecting something by John Ford. For the most part the story itself was decent if not all that original but then again it was good enough to keep you entertained by it. There are the double-crosses that you'd expect but I must say it was a bit of a mystery as to why one of them never gets solved. The film contains some rather bland musical numbers but at least the action is good and yes there's a fun brawl at the end.

The strongest aspect to the film is the cast who are a lot of fun. Savage and Neal have a great chemistry together and the two of them really sell the characters and help keep the film moving. Worth is extremely good in the role of the jealous female and Sheldon Leonard is excellent as the snake villain. You've also got Glenda Farrell in a small role.

KLONDIKE KATE isn't a masterpiece but it's at least an entertaining film that fans of the cast and director should enjoy.
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Black Dragons (1942)
Mildly Entertaining But Poorly Made
13 August 2018
Black Dragons (1942)

** (out of 4) Low-budget propaganda piece from Monogram has Japanese men getting plastic surgery so that they look like Americans and can spy on us. Dr. Melcher (Bela Lugosi) shows up in the United States and starts to unleash his plot to help the Nazi party.

BLACK DRAGONS was produced right after Pearl Harbor was attacked and it was released in March so it was one of the first films to deal with WWII in a different way. There were many films that talked about or hinted about the ongoing war but this one here gave audiences something different in the fact that America was now in the war and this here was obviously meant to try and scare people.

With that being said, the plot itself is quite silly but I'm sure a much better director and a much bigger budget could have done something better with it. A lot of films deal with plastic surgery but to have it used to change the appearance of someone so that they could spy on America was hard to believe and especially in a film like this. Clocking in at just over a hour, the film is poorly edited, poorly acted by some and the direction is pretty lackluster as well.

Obviously films like this just needed to come in on budget and that was good enough for the studio. Lugosi turns in a decent performance in his role but he isn't given much support. The film moves well enough and ends quickly but there's no doubt that it's pretty shallow from start to finish.
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Interesting Way to Make a New Movie
12 August 2018
The Return of Ringo (1965)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Captain Brown (Giuliano Gemma) returns home from the Civil War and finds that a group of Mexican bandits led by Fuentes (Fernando Sanches) have killed his relatives and taken over the town. Naturally this isn't going to sit well with Brown so he must come up with a plan to take everything back.

Looking at the title of this thing you might think that it's a sequel to A PISTOL FOR RINGO but it's not. Well, it kind of is but not really. What you've basically got is a somewhat remake because the majority of the actors from the first film return here but they're are now playing different characters. THE RETURN TO RINGO is certainly a step down from the first film but there are still enough entertaining moments to make it worth watching.

The biggest difference that you'll notice with this film is the fact that there isn't as much comedy as the first one and that this here is a lot more darker. It's interesting to see what Duccio Tessari did with this film because he basically got the same cast and crew and got to make the first movie over. I found this to be rather interesting and especially how we got to see the actors appear in different types of roles. I'm not sure how often something like this happened but it was a curious decision and it probably played out better than had the director gotten new actors for these new roles.

Both Gemma and Sancho are once again the highlight of the picture as they are both very good in their roles and really do a great job with the hero-villain aspect. Lorella De Luca is also very good in her part and the rest of the supporting players are nice as well. Throw in the nice score, the good cinematography and some pretty good action and THE RETURN OF RINGO is a worthwhile film for fans of Spaghetti Westerns.
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Tessari Makes This Original and Fun
12 August 2018
A Pistol for Ringo (1965)

*** (out of 4)

Mexican bandits rob a bank and ride off but the posse following them forces them into a ranch owned by a rich family. The bandits won't allow anyone to get close but the local sheriff offers Ringo (Giuliano Gemma) his freedom if he can get in and save the people there. Ringo manages to get onto the ranch where he decides to play both sides against one another.

A PISTOL FOR RINGO turned out to be a lot better than I was expecting it too and a lot of the credit has to go to writer-director Duccio Tessari. What really sets this film apart from the countless other Spaghetti Westerns is the fact that this one here seems to be spoofing the genre. No, it's not a laugh riot but there's no question that the film has fun with the various trappings that these films usually have.

One thing I really loved was the over-the-top badness from the bandits as they'd really shoot anyone and anything including shooting people in the back. The film was never cruel or mean about it and in fact all of the violence is done in a rather funny manner. The back and forth between Gemma and Fernando Sancho as the main bad guy is also priceless as the two just perfectly work off one another. Their non-stop back and forth is a lot of fun and certainly helps carry the film.

Having the film set around Christmas time was another interesting touch and then you've got Ennio Morricone great score. Throw in the top-notch cinematography and you've certainly got a very entertaining gem. There are a few flaws in the film but there's no question that overall it's a winner
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Extremely Effective Ghost Story
12 August 2018
The Changeling (1980)

**** (out of 4)

Composer John Russell (George C. Scott) has his world turned upside down when his wife and daughter are killed in a traffic accident. A few months later he moves to Seattle to get some work done and moves into a mansion that hasn't been lived in for years. Before long he starts to hear strange noises and he quickly believes that a ghost is there. With the help of a local woman (Trish Van Devere) he quickly uncovers a dark secret.

From what I've read THE CHANGELING wasn't a hit at the box office and in fact it was in and out of theaters very quick without too much press one way or another. The film pretty much went away but over the years it slowly built up a cult following and today it's considered one of the greatest ghost films ever made. While there are a couple flaws here and there and while it doesn't reach the same greatness as THE SHINING, there's no question that the film deserves its new found fame because it really is a great one.

I think what I enjoyed most about the film is the fact that it really does take its time to get the atmosphere right, slowly build up the scares and in the end it really delivers. A lot of credit has to go to the screenplay because it actually delivers a very good story for us to follow. Every ghost story going back to the 1930's usually had some silly story just to get the ghosts on the screen. I will avoid spoilers but the story here is a very detailed one and one that is highly entertaining and works perfectly as a mystery.

Director Peter Medak does a marvelous job at building up the atmosphere and slowly building up the suspense and terror. There aren't any cheap scares here but instead we get a slow-burn effect of the haunting completely taking over the lead character as well as the viewer too. I really loved the art design in the picture and there's no doubt that the music is flawless and one of the most effective scores you'll ever hear. The look of the house was terrific and in many ways it became its own character.

Of course, it also helps that you've got an actor like George C. Scott in the lead. Scott was one of the greatest actors in history and he really does deliver a rare emotional performance here. He was great at playing anger and he was always a very strong actor but I really thought he showed off emotions here that we typically didn't get to see from him. The actor perfectly nails the part as well as the various emotions going on with the character. Van Devere is also extremely good in her supporting role as is Melvyn Douglas in his few scenes.

THE CHANGELING really is one of the best ghost movies ever made with several extremely creepy moments.
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