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Fails to impress ......
Jeff Goldblum looks terrific as an art forger, and there are a couple chuckles along the way, but the script is too cute for it's own good. Credibility would not get in the way of piling on the preposterous scripting. Michael Lerner as a Jewish Mafia Lord is perhaps the most likable character other than Goldblum. The rest are all pretty much "so whats". What you get is a really dull first half hour, followed by a middle that is confusing with undeveloped characters aplenty, and finally a slapstick ending that is truly unbelievable, and not in a good way. The best bit involves two rented children, but the film never comes together, and is very forgettable. It's a shame because the talent was there but "Framed" fails to impress on many levels. - MERK
The Frozen Ground (2013)
Nauseating headache inducing punishment ............
Nicholas Cage and John Cusack are totally wasted in this true story based disaster. It's not the story or the acting that is the problem. It is the directing, editing and pathetic photography that turn what might have been acceptable entertainment into a disaster of epic proportions. The hand held camera shaking like a bowl of Jello, along with everything, and I mean everything in extreme close up mode, is both nauseating and headache inducing. "The Frozen Ground" is without question one of the worst directed, edited, and photographed films I have ever seen. It is indeed 105 minutes of punishment, unless your idea of entertainment is shaky faces in extreme close up, followed by whiplash moves that blur images. Ugh. ............ MERK
Blue City (1986)
Like a dead fish on the Florida beach .........
Totally lifeless would be a good way to describe "Blue City". Despite the presence of several interesting character actors, the leads Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy drag everything down with their lifeless performances. The only reason to waste 83 minutes on this unfocused lightweight material is to watch Scott Wilson in the role of an opportunistic bad guy, and the late Anita Morris at her sexiest. Beyond that, the script is severely underdeveloped, especially in regards to motivation for all the mayhem. In the end, the viewer is left with many dangling unanswered questions, and a real sense of W.T.F. Think made for cable or direct to video quality.
Killer Joe (2011)
Unfocused ultra violent overkill ......
"Killer Joe" unrated directors cut, is a difficult watch. True the performances are top notch. Unfortunately the direction by William Friedkin is self indulgent, and so over the top that any attempts at "black comedy" are swept away by his insistence to repulse the audience. There is absolutely no need to dwell on a chicken leg sucking episode. The nudity is another problem, as again the film simply seems to pile it on merely for shock purposes. Mathew McConaughey's performance might be described as an amped up Vince Vaughn's "Lester the Molester" from "Clay Pigeons". As a "dark comedy" "Killer Joe" is a total failure, because it is so mean spirited, and I mean ultra violent mean spirited. .......... MERK
The Big Bang (2010)
I can't believe Sam Elliott was involved with this garbage ......
This movie is quite a bit of nonsense, including a story that is being spoon fed by way of flashbacks. It is confusing and makes zero sense. Basically, I felt like I was watching someone's acid trip. Special mention must be made of Sienna Guillory's attempt at acting, which can only be described as pitiful. Sam Elliott, sporting a long blonde mane doesn't appear till the film is well beyond terrible, and the sci-fi mumbo jumbo conclusion only adds to the awfulness. You have to ask yourself this question. Do I really want to totally waste 101 minutes of my life watching total garbage like "The Big Bang"? Trust me, thank me later, because this is one of the most meaningless and awful films I have had the misfortune to sit through. A well deserved (one star) rating. - MERK
The Manitou (1978)
Obviously this could happen .......
Some might believe that "The Manitou" stretches believability, but that is simply not true. If the C.G.I. crap films being produced today can show ridiculous everything, why not a powerful 400 year old medicine man growing on Susan Strasberg's back? I mean heroes flying through the air, bullets that have no effect, and such, are totally enjoyed by "brain wired" fans of current movies, so anything is possible. Meanwhile we have a very interesting pseudo-science premise, followed by a search for answers that leads us to the birth of "The Manitou". Burgess Meredith gives the performance of the film as Professor Snow, and Susan Strasberg floating through the air bare breasted, is not to be missed. Like I said, obviously considering today's C.G.I. nonsense, this could happen. - MERK
Reuben, Reuben (1983)
"Chick flick" train wreck ......
Womanizing Scottish poet drinking himself into oblivion, is strictly one for females needing a fantasy fix. Males should most definitely steer clear of this "Lifetime Channel" material. With few praiseworthy traits visible in Gowan McGland's character, it is possible even some women will be turned off by his boorish behavior. I fail to see where all the praise being heaped upon "Reuben, Reuben" comes from? The one redeeming quality might be the presence of the always interesting great character actor, Roberts Blossom. Otherwise, the film is nothing more than a "chick flick" train wreck, with some pretty good performances wasted on such trite material. .......................................................... - MERK
Savage Dawn (1985)
Foolishness, bad acting, and zero plot ....
George Kennedy is in a wheelchair, and builds rocket grenades in his barn. Lance Henriksen is the bleach blonde hero, but vanishes for long periods of the film. Karen Black mumbles her lines throughout. Richard Lynch plays a priest with impure thoughts and lusts after biker chicks. William Forsythe is the gang leader who steals a tank, to add to the ridiculous mayhem. The movie basically has no plot, just a series of explosions between poorly choreographed fist fights. Despite the intriguing cast, "Savage Dawn" is one to avoid, even for fans of the actors. It is on a trifecta DVD with "Drug Traffikers", and "Caged Fury", which I have not yet viewed, but they will have to go some to be worse than "Savage Dawn". ....... - MERK
Without a Trace (1983)
Realistic with knockout performances ........
"Without a Trace" is a very gripping drama. The kidnapping of a six year old boy from his New York City neighborhood sets into motion a prolonged search for suspects. Judd Hirsch is the frustrated detective following up leads that go nowhere, and Kate Nelligan is the distraught Mother looking for answers. As time goes on and hope fades, Hirsch is eventually resorting to psychics for help, while Nelligan refuses to lose any hope of finding her Son alive. Eventually, Nelligan's friends begin to worry that she is losing touch with reality, to little or no effect. If this film has any flaw, the ending must be considered, although possible, it just seems somewhat contrived. Nevertheless, "Without a Trace" is a very good movie, with knockout performances. - MERK
The Super Cops (1974)
Fast moving cops, vs cops and criminals ....
Ron Leibman and David Selby are at the top of their game as two wise cracking rookie cops, who bend the rules, while still maintaining their oath to protect and serve. They are not only up against the street criminals, but the dirty cops in their own Precinct. Make no mistake this is not a film that relies on car chases and explosions, as it has tremendous character development, nice stunt work, and many humorous situations. Pat Hingle leads a fine supporting cast that adds immeasurably. I highly recommend "The Super Cops", as it is a fast moving, slice of the "seventies'. All I can say is seek this one out, you will not be disappointed. ....................................................................................................................................... MERK
Definitely not good but you keep watching anyway ......
Pia Zadora is the perfect sexy nymph. Ennio Morricone provides a score that rings a bell because it almost sounds like a"spaghetti western". Stacy Keach as the lusting daddy is fine, and Orson Wells comes across as a curiosity. The problem lies with the script. At first things take their time, introducing characters at a leisurely rate. There is a slow buildup but little idea where the movie is going. Then suddenly the pace quickens, and logic begins to fly out the window. In the end there are unresolved issues dangling uncomfortably, a ridiculous legal unwinding, and the viewer is left holding a very large bag of questions. Nudity does not a movie make, and "Butterfly", despite the titillating bathtub scene, is rather unsatisfying. - MERK
Hidden Agenda (1999)
You have to ask yourself a question .....
Why would Kevin Dillon, who is about to become a Doctor, immerse himself in foreign country intrigue? James Bond he is not, and that immediately begs the question of believability. The audience is challenged right from the git-go trying to make sense of the severely disjointed story line. Making matters worse are the fake German accents, which only add to the confusion. "Hidden Agenda'" is one of those movies that after the credits roll, you will be wondering what you just saw. Despite the presence of the always interesting J.T. Walsh as a U.S. Embassy Representative, and Christopher Plummer as a German Policeman, even they cannot save this film from it's lackluster and murky plot. I' would pass on this one. - MERK
Don't bother .....
Claustrophobic talkathon. Characters are thrown together and then attempt to talk each other to death. It's the well worn crisis of the minute formula. If someone isn't dying, they are talking. It's pretty difficult to maintain interest when most of the conversations are sleep inducing drivel. Crawling around the escape pod with a constantly shaking camera adds nausea to the mix. Make no mistake, this is not "Lifeboat" in outer space. What it is, is a mini budget time waster for the cable networks to endlessly play. Admirers of Ron Silver and Robert Loggia should definitely look elsewhere, as this film gives them nothing to work with. Special mention must be made of the special effects, which are not even of video game caliber. Avoid. - MERK
El caballero del dragón (1985)
Serious contender for "bad movie" gold medal ........
While I still prefer "Mega Piranha" as the "bad movie" champion, "Star Knight" certainly can not be totally dismissed. The main difference is that "Mega Piranha" is hilarious for being not only outrageous and poorly acted, but with a no name cast, nothing was expected. Here however we have futility on display from quality actors, Klaus Kinski, Harvey Keitel, and Fernando Rey. It is the nadir of three careers, with ridiculous dialog, a script that reads like a child's comic book, and eye rolling special effects. This film could easily be a test of movie viewing endurance. Sitting through "Star Knight" should qualify a person as virtually torture proof in regards to supposedly bad movies. A warning isn't strong enough, you should have to get written permission to view this sci-fi, love with an alien, knights in armor atrocity. - MERK
The Return (1980)
There is no answer ......
" The Return" views like a puzzle that is impossible to solve. It features some intriguing actors including, Neville Brand, Martin Landau, and Vincent Schiavelli, in supporting roles. A small New Mexico town is visited by aliens, putting on a light show. Two children and Schiavelli, are "contacted" for an unknown purpose. Fast forward twenty five years when Cybil Shepherd and Jan Michael Vincent, are enlightened that they were the two chosen children. Chosen for what is of course unknown. Meanwhile Neville Brand, playing a local rancher, is dealing with cattle mutilations, that he blames on scientist Shepherd. Raymond Burr, Shepherd's Father, deduces that the aliens left some sign carved on a rock for an unknown purpose. "The Return" is a movie asking all questions while revealing zero answers, and is a very frustrating viewing experience. - MERK
I Witness (2003)
Total waste of time and Jeff Daniels ....
Human rights advocates on parade, in a film that makes little sense. Shameful that a fine actor like Jeff Daniels has to be associated with such nonsense. What's truly amazing is that there doesn't appear to be a point to the movie. It just drones on and on trying to be hip, but failing miserably even to be slightly interesting. James Spader has to be one of the most boring actors I've ever seen, and adds nothing to what is already an unpleasant viewing experience. No character development, a serious language barrier, and a story that appears to have been made up to accommodate the weak dialog. Drug dealers, elections, dirt bikes, and whatever else could be thrown into the mix does not a movie make. I would give this a one star, except I respect Jeff Daniels too much. Avoid. - MERK
Riders of the Purple Sage (1996)
Mohab Utah is the real star of the film ......
I've seen a lot of Westerns, "spaghetti" and otherwise, but none better photographed than "Riders of the Purple Sage". This is flat out one wonderful movie, greatly enhanced by the unbelievable setting and outstanding photography. The story of Mormon brain wiring is well told, and is quite bloody and exciting. Ed Harris as the revenge seeking gunslinger has never been better, and he works well with Amy Madigan and Henry Thomas. G.D. Spradlin is the Pastor in charge, and leader of those trying to destroy Madigan for not submitting to an arranged marriage. The film is loaded with surprising revelations that put a different spin on the story. This rarely seen Western should be on your "must see" list. - MERK
Fools' Parade (1971)
West Virginia injustice .........
Released from prison with a 25K check he earned over 40 years, James Stewart, Strother Martin, and Kurt Russell head for anywhere but Glory West Virginia, and the corrupt Warden, George Kennedy, pursuing them. Seems the local bank is involved in cheating the prisoners out of their earned money, with kickbacks going directly to Kennedy. "Fools' Parade" is an excellent slice of depression West Virginia, and the hard times there. Character development is strong, and you will have no trouble rooting for Stewart and his comrades. There are several scenes that ooze with "black humor" and the photography is appropriately bleak. This film is practically unknown, but is a real surprise for those persistent enough to locate a copy. Highly recommended. - MERK
...tick... tick... tick... (1970)
Good and plenty of stereotypes .........
George Kennedy has never been better as the frustrated outgoing sheriff, and Jim Brown is good also, as his disillusioned replacement. Pot boiling is kept on the high burner by Don Stroud and his band of KKK rednecks. When a White boy is arrested for manslaughter following his drunken car accident, things reach the time bomb stage of the film's title. Special mention must be made of the sound track that although somewhat inappropriate, is none the less excellent. Ultimately "Tick Tick Tick" comes across as a dark period of history, frozen in time by this wonderful film. Despite the good and plenty of stereotypes, the movie does not come across as preachy, but merely as an entertaining look into the past. - MERK
An Occasional Hell (1996)
Weak story is never overcome ......
As the opening credits roll, there is a montage of Civil War photographs flashing on the screen. This is a definite reminder of two facts. the movie you are about to see takes place in the deep South ( as if that needed explaining), and that two Confederate Officers from the fabulous film "Gettysburg" are in "An Occasional Hell". So you get Tom Berenger and Stephen Lang, with Berenger given very little to work with, and Lang barely in the movie. Suspects abound but with little logic as to why they might commit a murder. I found this film to be confusing, unsatisfying, with a rushed conclusion, that makes little sense. Throw in the unending flashbacks, and what you are left with is a mess of a movie. Avoid. - MERK
The Baytown Outlaws (2012)
A recipe that wasn't quite fully developed .....
Take a little Tarantino, add a dash of Southern stereotypes, and throw in a smidge of "Mad Max". What you get is a small time wannabe film called "Baytown Outlaws". Oh and let"s not forget to add one big name actor, Billy Bob Thornton, so his picture can be featured on the DVD box cover. The script is disjointed for sure, trying to pull together the mishmash of ideas. Supposedly the three "Southern redneck" brothers are the anti heroes. The corrupt sheriff uses them to clean up his County of undesirables. Meanwhile, Billy Bob Thornton has kidnapped his wheelchair bound son. This leads his ex wife to hire the three rednecks to retrieve him and eliminate BBT. If all of this sounds sort of contrived, and made up as you go along writing, you would be correct. Despite all this, the film has moderate entertainment value. - MERK
I, the Jury (1982)
About what you would expect .....
"I The Jury" delivers about what you would expect from a 1980s action film. Armand Asante is the cocky private detective, hunting his best friend's killer. He bends the rules without investigation, leaving a trail of dead bodies and explosions. Geoffrey Lewis is a welcome addition, playing a recluse who points Assante in the right direction to begin the mayhem. There are strong sexy scenes with Assante and Barbara Carrera. There are some creative kills, like death by hot griddle, and the photography is certainly colorful. The story itself involves a government coverup utilizing a sex clinic as a front for their operations. All of this is sometimes difficult to follow, but things move along brisk enough to maintain interest. - MERK
Castle Keep (1969)
Disjointed, dream like, dissappointing ...........
"Castle Keep" is a film looking to find an audience in all the wrong places. Wrapping a 1960s free sex and love anti-war message around a World War 2 suicide mission is like trying to shovel crap against the tide. Seriously surreal, this failed film is nevertheless not without interest, because of the cast. The movie more belongs on an art gallery wall than in a theater, because the photography is stunning, with each shot vivid and memorable. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the film. Because it is so disjointed, the whole experience is somehow lacking in impact. By the time the bang bang ending appears on the screen, most audiences will be so bewildered by what has preceded it they will hardly be awake. - MERK
Just Before Dawn (1981)
Location, location, location
Silver Falls State Park, Oregon, is the magnificent location where "Just Before Dawn" was filmed. Waterfalls, rock formations, and a lush green forest were used to great advantage. The photography is absolutely stunning for this type of low budget, backwoods, slasher, and adds immeasurably. Acting is totally acceptable, and while the two inbred "knuckle draggers" never speak, there is a menacing tone that permeates the movie. Do not mistakenly believe that this is just another attempt to tag an inferior film onto a single name actor like George Kennedy. This is extremely well made and highly recommended. I'll even go so far as to say, one of the best of it's type, and proves that you don't need buckets of blood to make a great horror film. - MERK
Deathrow Gameshow (1987)
Execution by erection
Unable to resist a seductress taunting him with the dance of the seven "boners", another unlucky contestant succumbs by electrocution in the outrageous "Deathrow Gameshow." The movie is sort of an odd mixture of a Paul Bartel "black comedy", crossed with "Amazon Women on the Moon". Like those films the plot is merely something threaded together between tasteless commercials and some truly hilarious moments. While the acting is decidedly inferior, it only adds to the charm, because of the obvious enthusiasm involved. Definitely not bloody, definitely moments of hilarity, definite nudity that doesn't come across as merely gratuitous, "Deathrow Gameshow" is definitely worth seeing, especially for fans of "dark comedy." - MERK