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2/10
"Michael's work is not finished in Haddonfield."
17 October 2018
The quick pitch: After a six year hiatus, Michael Myers returns to slice and dice his way through Haddonfield. There's also some nonsense about Tommy Doyle (from the first Halloween movie), a baby, a man in black, and a cult called Thorn.

It's really hard to fathom how the Halloween series went from the atmospheric brilliance of the original film to the Gawd-awful mess called Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. I really don't have much of anything positive to say. Most importantly, the script is a disaster. I know there's a longer cut out there that's supposed to clear-up some of the problems with the script, but no thanks. I'm not going to watch an extra 45 minutes just to get more on the utterly ridiculous man in black and Thorn. Who could care less? You have to work hard to write a Halloween script that's this boring, predictable, and unscary. Add to that mostly bad acting, unlikable characters, silly dialogue, terrible music, and a complete lack of logic, and you've reached the absolute nadir of the Halloween series.

Watching Paul Rudd in Halloween 6, it's hard to imagine he would go on to have the career he has. He's not very good here.
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6/10
"It's getting late. I could use a drink."
17 October 2018
The quick pitch: An evil toy maker creates a line of Halloween masks designed to horrifically kill the wearers on Halloween night. All of this without a whiff of Michael Myers.

It's too bad this movie was titled Halloween III. The film gets an unfair shake from those who whine about it not being a Michael Myers film. John Carpenter always intended for the Halloween franchise to be like this - a different Halloween-themed story each year. I wish the series had kept this idea.

I've always enjoyed watching Halloween III: Season of the Witch. To begin with, I've always found the Myers-less plot of Part III fairly original. Sure, the story's not perfect and some of it makes no sense (Stonehenge? Really?), but there's enough here that we've never seen before to keep things interesting. Dan O'Herlihy makes for an excellent, but underutilized, baddie. His Stepford-esque henchmen are especially creepy. Another plus are the special effects - perfectly gory. Even after repeat viewings, there's at least one scene I still find disturbing and difficult to watch. Finally Stacey Nelkin has to be one of the most stunning women I've ever seen in a horror movie. If I didn't find Tom Atkins and his questionable mustache so unappealing and that Silver Shamrock earworm jingle so annoying, I might rate Halloween III even higher.
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Killer Bees (1974 TV Movie)
6/10
I liked it more than I should
16 October 2018
The quick pitch: Gloria Swanson plays Madame Maria von Bohlen, matriarch of a family of South African winemakers. Madame (as her family calls her) controls almost all aspects of the family, the wine business, and even the bees, so integral to the family's success. But when her black sheep son turns-up with a finance in tow, Madame and the bees don't respond too well.

Overall, Killer Bees is about what you'd expect from a 1974 made-for-TV movie - typical made-for-TV cast, poor (and I mean really poor) special effects, and not nearly enough horror for a horror movie (it needed more bee attacks). But one thing Killer Bees has going for it is that final twist in the last act. I'm not going to spoil it - I'll just say that it belongs in a much better movie. It really was a nice finish to what was otherwise a fairly routine film. Nice enough to get a 6/10 from me.

I suppose there are two other things I enjoyed about Killer Bees. First, I always enjoy seeing my favorite of Charlie's Angels, Kate Jackson. Her acting in the final moments of Killer Bees was never better. Second, watching Gloria Swanson in Killer Bees was a real treat. Several times, I thought she was going into full-on Norma Desmond-mode as she overacted her way through this cheap, TV film. Good stuff!
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Mutant (1984)
5/10
A decent little zombie movie
3 October 2018
The quick pitch: A couple of brothers find themselves stranded in a small Southern town where the residents are slowly being turned into zombie-like creatures. Predictably, there's also a grumpy sheriff, a final girl, and a fight-for-your-life showdown.

First, pay no attention to the video/poster artwork you'll find all over the internet for Mutant. In fact, pay no attention to the name "Mutant". Both might lead you to believe you've stumbled on some type of alien-related sci-fi/horror movie. Instead, this Mutant is a low-budget zombie film set in small town America.

Considering I'm not even sure I had ever heard of Mutant before last night, I'm pleasantly surprised. Overall, it's a decent little zombie movie. It's not overly imaginative and follows most of the zombie tropes we've all come to expect (with the exception of the leaky palms), but Mutant actually has nice atmosphere that can be rare in this type of low-budget 80s horror movie. There were several moments that I'd describe as creepy. Mutant also includes plenty of action as our final girl (and guy) end up battling a horde of zombies. I admit that II was a little worried at the start when I noticed the names Bo Hopkins and Wings Hauser. It might not be fair, but when I see those names, I automatically start to negatively prejudge a movie. Not to worry - Hopkins and Hauser end up being one of Mutant's real strengths. They're both (surprisingly) good. I know that Hopkins, in particular, was quite an actor. However, in a low-budget film like this, he was as capable as anyone of phoning it in.

Mutant is one of those cases where the good (acting, atmosphere, snappy direction, and a nice final fight scene) and bad (lack of imagination, gaping plot holes, and cheap zombie make-up) pretty well cancel each other out and I end up with a wishy-washy 5/10.
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1/10
This one is a real stinker
2 October 2018
The quick pitch: An otherwise unremarkable barber goes for a long (very long) drive, has some sort of nightmare, and mysteriously develops psychotronic powers that give him the ability to kill people with his mind. The police aren't too happy when the bodies start piling-up, leading to one of the longest, dullest chases in screen history.

It's been awhile since I've watched a movie quite as bad as The Psychotronic Man. I don't hand out the dreaded "1" rating like candy. You have to earn it. But this one is a real stinker. As I've already alluded to, it's as dull as watching paint dry. Oh my God, I would have given just about anything for something to happen. I must have fallen asleep, woken up, and rewinded this abysmal film at least a half-dozen times. But what do you expect from a movie whose runtime (and I can't be bothered looking up the exact runtime) is filled with "exciting" things like watching a car drive slowly down a road, watching a doctor read papers and make notes, watching really bad dancing, or watching that damnable final chase that goes on forever. These events take up at least ¾ of the movie - I'm not exaggerating. Anyone who says they like this excruciating mess as more patience than I.

A deserved 1/10 from me.
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5/10
Not all good, but not all bad either
1 October 2018
The quick pitch: Candy, the daughter of a US diplomat, uses her position at an all-girls' school to spy on her friends' fathers and the goings on at their respective embassies. What at first seems like harmless fun goes horribly wrong when a Chinese assassin is sent in to put a stop to Candy's shenanigans.

I wouldn't call 13 Frightened Girls all that good, but I wouldn't call it all that bad either. The film kind of feels like Disney took a stab at making a Eurospy film. I could easily see someone like Hayley Mills in the title role. It's all harmless enough fun, but it does lack any real bite. Even when lead-girl Candy is in danger, you know it'll all turn out all right. Take the scene where the Chinese baddies are searching for Candy in the room full of suitcases. It's downright silly. However, I don't think the film is the disaster some reviews would have you believe. I think the movie gets a knock because of the marketing, the title, and the William Castle name. It's nowhere near as lurid or suspenseful as the trailer or poster art would have you believe.

A couple of other things: First, I got a kick out of seeing Alexandra Bastedo (who would later appear in The Champions) in the background as "England". Second, I'm really surprised to see that Kathy Dunn didn't have more of a career in acting. Whether you like the movie or not, I think Dunn did an outstanding job as Candy.
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5/10
You just gotta love these 60s-era lucha movies!
29 September 2018
The quick pitch: Masked luchador and superhero Neutron must do battle with the mad Dr. Caronte and his band of zombie-like creatures if he is to save the world from a neutron bomb.

You just gotta love these 60s-era lucha movies! I readily admit that Neutron the Atomic Superman vs the Death Robots isn't a good movie by any normal standards. Neutron comes across a bit like the poor, red-headed stepchild of the better known Santo films. Everything about the movie - acting, sets, lighting, special effects, direction, pacing, cinematography, script, fight choreography - it all scrapes the bottom of the proverbial barrell. And to make things even worse, the movie features some of the worst dubbing I've ever heard. It sounds like you took the dialogue and converted it into about a dozen languages before you finally hit on English. It's pretty poor. But despite all that, Neutron the Atomic Superman vs the Death Robots is just bizarre enough and just fun enough to make it worth watching. From Dr. Caronte's over-the-top pronouncements to the ridiculous way the bomb is planted at the airport to the silly looking death robots to the unibrowed mini-me named Nick, there's something to be seen and experienced around most every corner.
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Scream 4 (2011)
7/10
"You hang up on me and I'll cut through your neck until I feel bone!"
24 September 2018
I missed Scream 4 when it was originally released about 7 years ago. Over the weekend, I finally caught up with the latest on Ghostface, Deputy Dewey, Gail Weathers , and everyone's favorite victim, Sidney Prescott. So how was it? Much better than I could have imagined - and a huge improvement over Scream 3. If you just go with it, it can be a lot of fun.

I'll start at the beginning - I've read a number of negative things regarding Scream 4's cold opening, but it worked for me. It takes the whole concept of "meta" and ramps it up a few notches. Stab 7 opening with scenes from Stab 6 (or is that the other way around) was about as clever as I could have hoped. An added bonus was watching Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell in small (but bloody) parts.

After the opening, the main parts of the film flow nicely with heaping helpings of action, mystery, and thrills. Being a Scream film, there's also plenty of comedy and, fortunately, most worked. Sure, there are a number of annoying monologues from pretentious characters I just wanted to see die, but overall, the tone and feel is very similar to the first Scream. There aren't any death scenes in Scream 4 that I found particularly innovative (in fact a couple harken back to the original), but they are all appropriately violent and bloody. The new characters, especially those played by Emma Roberts and Hayden Panettiere, fit in nicely. I even got a kick out of Marley Shelton's Deputy Judy. The final reveal worked on me in that I was surprised. I'm not sure the reasonsing is very sound, but the "Who done it?" aspect was enjoyable enough.

I do, however, have a couple of problems with Scream 4 - chief among them is that finale in the hospital. I know that I said if you just go with Scream 4, it's fun. However, the last bit in the hospital takes things way too far and gets a tad ridiculous. Still, overall it's a fun film is you don't take it too serious (like I seem to have done with the ending).

An easy 7/10 from me.
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6/10
"A coin. A rare gold coin called the Brasher Doubloon."
21 September 2018
The Brasher Doubloon plays a lot like a cross between another Marlowe adventure, The Big Sleep, and The Maltese Falcon. It's nowhere near as good as either of these movies, but the similarities are unmistakable. My pithy plot summary goes something like this: Philip Marlowe (George Montgomery) is hired by an eccentric old woman to find a missing coin known as the Brasher Doubloon. Marlowe's client is less than forthcoming and he doesn't have a lot to go on. Between the old woman, her mysterious secretary, her spoiled son, and the dead bodies that start piling up as he investigates, Marlowe's got a lot to figure out.

As should be obvious from my rating (6/10), I enjoyed The Brasher Doubloon. However, I'm going to spend the rest of my ramblings discussing a couple of things that I didn't like about the film. First, George Montgomery makes for a pretty poor Marlowe. He's not as tough talking or acting as he should be. He's also got something of a slight build to him that doesn't work. He's so . . . well, he's so blah that it's hard to take him serious. In short, he's no Humphrey Bogart.

Second, The Brasher Doubloon feels terribly rushed. The runtime of less than 75 minutes really hurts the film. The plot never has enough time to live and breath. There's not enough time for interesting plot developments or red herrings that go nowhere. Take The Big Sleep as a comparison. The Big Sleep takes its sweet time with twists and turns that create a more interesting world for the mystery to unfold. It's much more than A leads to B which leads to C - wrap it up, mystery solved. Heck, Marlowe finds the coin before the movie's half over. It took Sam Spade a lot longer than 75 minutes to get his hands on the black bird.

I guess that what I'm trying to say is that given more time and a better lead, The Brasher Doubloon could have been a real winner. The rest of the elements are in place - an above average director in John Brahm, a nice supporting cast, solid cinematography, and interesting writing. Overall, a good film, but a wasted opportunity.
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3/10
"Somebody kill me, please!"
20 September 2018
After prom, four friends end up lost in the middle of nowhere Texas. They crash their car and are forced to set off on foot to look for help. Unfortunately for our heroes, they're stranded in the wrong place. They'll spend the night fighting for their lives against a crazed family of killers.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (TCM:TNG) is another of those movies that I really, really want to like (I've got something of a man-crush on Matthew McConaughey). Until last night, I hadn't seen the movie in at least 10 years. I sat down hoping I was wrong and it would work this time. If anything, TCM:TNG is worse than I remembered.

There are scores of problems I could write about, but the main one is the film's plot - or more precisely, the lack of a plot. There's really not much here that resembles a coherent story. It's a mish-mash of recycled ideas, attempts at humor, story elements involving a secret governmental-whatever that come out of nowhere, and generally poor filmmaking. Add it all up and it's one big disaster. It's amazing to sit and watch a film with the words Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the title and not find one scary or suspenseful moment. Take McConaughey's introduction as Vilmer as an example. The movie sees fit to leave the viewer in suspense about Vilmer's intentions for no more than 10 seconds before he's revealed to be a bad guy. Why not let the character be something of a mystery for a while so that when he makes his murderous tendencies known, it's a surprise? But no, that might have made for an interesting plot twist and you can't have anything like that in TCM:TNG.

A well deserved 3/10 from me.
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Jason X (2001)
2/10
"Oh, this sucks on so many levels!"
19 September 2018
I'll start this with my extremely short plot summary (not that it matters much): 400 years in the future, Jason finds himself aboard a spacecraft where he (surprise, surprise) starts butchering everyone in sight.

Until last night, the only other time I'd seen Jason X was about 15 years ago. I hated it. For reasons I cannot explain, I decided to give it another go to see if my opinion had changed any at all. The short answer is: No - I still hate it. I'm a huge fan of the Friday the 13th series, but I cannot stomach Jason X. You might think that by taking Jason into space, you'd come up with some new, original ideas. Well, you'd be wrong. There's very little new in Jason X that we haven't seen before. The lack of imagination is staggering. And the few things that are new (like Uber Jason) are so ridiculous, it's insulting. Stupid characters played by bad actors, bottom-of-the-barrel special effects, a complete lack of tension or suspense - it's all so bad that my 2/10 rating feels generous.

A few very random thoughts:

  • Are there any lights on this spaceship? Why would you go looking for a hulking killer in the dark?
  • Who could have imagined that female scientists in the future would dress like today's highschool girls? And who knew that scientists in 2455 would act just like over-sexed 1980s-era teenagers?
  • The "space marines" are beyond useless. Here's an idea - why not split up while searching for Jason? It makes it easier for him to kill you one at a time.
  • Like a lot of other people, I did enjoy the Holodeck scene. It's the only clever thing in the whole movie.
  • Finally, and I'm just guessing, but I can only assume the Jason X screenwriters watched Aliens and Terminator one too many times.
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Wicked Woman (1953)
7/10
A trashy, good time
18 September 2018
Wicked Woman doesn't waste any time getting started. Billie Nash (Beverly Michaels) blows into town, finds a room to rent, meets her creepy neighbor, takes a job serving drinks in a bar, and sets her sights on Matt Bannister (Richard Egan), the bar's owner and her key to money and Mexico. That's the basic set-up - the rest is a trashy, good time.

Wicked Woman is a perfect example of making an entertaining film with no money. Everything looks cheap, but it hardly matters. In fact, the cheap look only adds to the overall tone and tawdry feeling. Director Russell Rouse and screenwriter Clarence Greene really get a lot of the $1.95 budget they had to work with. Beverly Michaels is a revelation. Her Billie, with that super slo-mo sashay, is perfect as the titular Wicked Woman. She oozes cheap sensuality. And, you'd have little difficulty believing she'd easily do away with Bannister's wife if it meant she gets what she wants. The rest of the cast is just as good with Egan, Percy Helton, and Evelyn Scott all giving nice performances.

My biggest complaint with Wicked Woman is the film's ending. I really wanted to see everything blow-up spectacularly in Billie's face. Billie never really gets what she deserves. And the way Bannister's wife so easily forgives him doesn't ring true. Bannister should also have suffered more. Still, these are minor quibbles. In the end, Wicked Woman is a rock solid little trashy B-noir that I easily recommend.
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The Avengers (1998)
2/10
"I often think of 6 impossible things before breakfast."
15 September 2018
Disclaimer: I'm a HUGE fan of the original The Avengers television series (well, at least the Emma Peel era). It's brilliant. With great anticipation, I went to see this film in the theater back in 1998. It had a lot to live up to, but I tried to be fair with my assessment. Unfortunately, the movie failed on almost every level. I rewatched The Avengers last night for the first time in 20 years. I wondered if time had been any kinder to the film.

The short answer is no - The Avengers is still (and will always be) a steaming pile of dung. The movie is a bloated, boring, and often confusing mess. There are so many problems I have with this one that I could quite literally write pages. However, for brevity's sake, I'll limit my discussion to two of the most obvious issues:

1. The relationship between Steel and Mrs Peel was one of the main things that always made The Avengers special. It was the soul of the entire series. In the movie, it never works. To begin with, Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman have nothing that resembles real chemistry. They never click and it all feels forced. The relationship in the original was always flirtatious, but never went much further than a knowing look. Having Steed and Mrs Peel engage in a real relationship as pictured here destroys all the mystery.

2. The plot is a complete disaster. You can read about how the movie originally ran much longer but was gutted after comments form test audiences. The resulting mess is full of plot holes, events with no explanation, and an apparent lack of logic. Not that I think these missing minutes would have helped that much, however. If you put the cut footage back in, you'd probably only add to the films utter dullness. I was bored to tears.

I could go on about the acting, the ridiculous special effects, the poor editing, the invisible Patrick Macnee, or the fact that so much of the movie feels random simply for the sake of being random. But really, why bother? With a movie this bad, the time I've already spent on The Avengers is more than it deserves. While I rate the original series a 9/10, I'm being generous with the 2/10 I'm giving the movie.
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2/10
"Uh, my neck hurts."
13 September 2018
Attach the head of a deranged psycho-killer to the body of a hulking man-child - what could go wrong? Well, in the case of The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant, the answer is just about everything.

Before I sat down with The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant last night, if you had asked me, I would have sworn I'd seen it before. Easy mistake as I've watched the movie The Thing with Two Heads a couple of times and the similarities are numerous. Both feature a similar ridiculous plot device, bad "special" effects, AIP, generally poor acting, and a name actor or two slumming it. I think my confusion is understandable. And while neither is very good, I remember enjoying The Thing with Two Heads much more than The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant. I remember having a certain amount of fun with the former, while the latter is a joyless, mean-spirited exercise in filmmaking. Take the treatment of Pat Priest's character. She spends most of the film drugged, gagged, and locked in a cage. NIce, huh? What could and should have been a cheesy good time never so much as brought a smile to my face. Overall, it's a wretched experience.

The lone bright spot is Bruce Dern. Despite the dreck around him, he's pretty good. Admittedly, there a times where his professionalism is misplaced, but you can see the quality. Take the scene where Dern is internally debating the ethics of the surgery he's about to perform. The consternation he's experiencing comes through on-screen. Like I said, it's misplaced, but it's there.
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Subterfuge (1968)
4/10
Joan Collins is easily the best thing Subterfuge has going for it.
12 September 2018
Very briefly, Subterfuge's plot goes something like this: U.S. spy MIchael Donovan (Gene Barry) is enlisted by his British counterparts to ferret out a mole hiding in their midst. Donovan decides to use the marital difficulties facing one of his suspects to his advantage. Donovan cosies up to Anne Langley (Joan Collins) to gain information on his target. As you might have guessed, things get complicated when Donovan ends up falling for Anne

Subterfuge should have worked on me. It's got a lot of what I normally enjoy: spy shenanigans, interesting locations, kidnappings, double-agents, double crosses, chase scenes, fight scenes, and Joan Collins. The problem is that the movie doesn't have much of a plot - at least one that's interesting. Subterfuge is deathly dull. I'll admit that the last act does get a bit interesting, but by that point, I was really struggling to stay awake. The baddies are boring, the plot is confusing, and Gene Barry isn't very exciting. That's not much of a recipe for success. Joan Collins is easily the best thing Subterfuge has going for it. She shines in every instance she appears on-screen. Unfortunately, though, she's stuck with Barry. Their relationship and chemistry is as lacking as the plot. Overall, there's not much here to recommend. A generous 4/10 from me.
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3/10
What's Evelyn doing in this dog?
7 September 2018
A charter pilot gets mixed up with some stolen nuclear secrets and a few baddies that want to get there hands on these secrets. The pilot and the bad guys play a game of "hot potato" with the prized envelope as it's passed (or stolen) from one person to the next - over and over. It's all handled in the most excruciatingly dull manner imaginable. Seriously, I could barely hold my eyes open. And for a movie that runs at something like 75 minutes, that's not a good sign.

Beyond the wretched screenplay, I could go on and on with the problems I had with Flight to Nowhere. The laundry list would go something like this: It's cheap with poor lighting and even worse cinematography. Everything looks horrible. Even the music feels cheap. The sets are bargain basement and some of the acting is laughably bad. I know this wasn't a big budget, "A" film, but I've seen a lot of "B" movies that looked a million times better than this. Overall, a 3/10 for Flight to Nowhere is being generous.

One final thought - how many hits to the head can one man take? Our pilot hero should be suffering from a horrible case of post-concussion syndrome. There's no way I would trust him in the air with the repeated head trauma he suffers in this movie.
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Bandolero! (1968)
7/10
"Why do you ride with men like these?"
24 July 2018
The hangman is summoned to take care of a band of bank robbers lead by Dee Bishop (Dean Martin). But the real hangman never makes it. Instead, Dee's brother Mace (James Stewart) takes his place. Just as the robbers are about to have their necks snapped, Dee uses Mace's gun to make a daring escape. With a posse hot on their heels, the gang heads for Mexico. Along the way, they pick up a hostage, Maria Stoner (Raquel Welch). Maria just happens to be the widow of one of the men killed in the bank holdup. They've got a good lead on the dogged sheriff, but once they enter Mexico, they're in bandolero country. They'll have to elude,not only the sheriff, but the local bandits if they're to escape.

As is obvious from the rating I've given Bandolero!, I enjoy this movie. It's not perfect - far from it in fact - but it's got a lot going for it that really works on me. First, the opening 45 minutes with the robbery, hanging, and escape moves at a really nice pace. It's a nice way to get things kicked off.

Second, the acting is stellar and a real key to my overall enjoyment. Stewart gives a surprisingly touching performance that I wasn't expecting in a movie like Bandolero! Martin plays it straight and comes off looking like a real actor. Welch isn't great, but goes a long way to redeeming herself in the film's finale. The supporting cast is top notch with Will Geer, Denver Pyle, Andrew Prine, Guy Raymond, and George Kennedy. Kennedy, in particular, is worth mentioning. He plays against type and imbibes his Sheriff July Johnson with unexpected vulnerability.

Third, i got a real kick out of Jerry Goldsmith's score. Seemingly inappropriate at times, it reminded me a bit of something you'd hear from Morricone in an Italian Western - not an American made Western.

There are other touches here and there, like some really impressive scenery, but I won't go into detail. The biggest complaint i have is with the plotting and pacing after the initial escape. Once in Mexico, the film settles into a predictable pattern - ride, camp, attempted rape, Dean Martin saves the day - repeat. Still, the overall film is entertaining enough for me to rate a 7/10.
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7/10
"Better look in the coffin, Wilbur. We'll finish our coffee at the morgue."
23 July 2018
There are a lot of different film genres I enjoy, but one I've enjoyed as long as I can remember (at least 45 years) is 30s/40s-era detective/murder mysteries. For reasons I can't explain, the early Perry Mason movies have, until the other night, remained unknown to me. I love the Thin Man, Falcon, and the Saint - Perry Mason ticks all the same boxes. Mix a decent little murder mystery with a bit of nice comedy, snappy dialogue, an appealing cast, and a well-shot, nice looking film and you'll end up with film that will most likely work on me. The Case of the Curious Bride may not be the best of the bunch, but it is a whole lot of fun.

The plot involves a worried woman named Rhoda. She tracks down Perry with a story of "friend" who has recently remarried, but is worried her first husband may not be dead after all. What should the "friend" do? It doesn't take a detective to see that Rhoda's in trouble. Perry agrees to help, but before he can do much, Rhoda's first husband turns up dead - for real this time. With Rhoda the chief suspect and Perry's reputation on the line, he's got to find the real killer.

The Case of the Curious Bride has a couple things going for it. First, Warren William's Perry Mason is a joy to watch. Similar to Nick Charles, Mason is a worldly sort - capable of everything from cooking a gourmet meal to solving a murder to just about everything in between. And he does all with style and grace. His barbs, directed at the police or whoever gets in his way, and his overall wit are real treat. He's quite a character.

The second is Director Michael Curtiz. His direction, even in a relatively "small" picture like The Case of the Curious Bride, is spot-on. The direction is snappy, without a single wasted scene. Curtiz deftly gives the film a light, airy feel that works. The mix of comedy, mystery, and action is handled expertly. He was a real underrated professional.

Overall, a real treat that I easily rate a 7/10.
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6/10
A stroll down horror's memory lane
19 July 2018
I'll get to the contents of the film's list in a second, but overall, I enjoyed this stroll down horror's memory lane. For me, I've seen the vast majority of these movies. And those I haven't, for one reason or another, I have no desire. The doc moves at a nice pace and the "experts", fans, and insiders are interesting enough. There's no much to complain about the way things are presented. If I had to pick one negative with the way things are presented it would be with some of P J Soles commentary. It's a bit groan-inducing in spots.

It's difficult to put together one of these lists and make everyone happy. What you call a hidden gem, I might have seen a dozen times. Or something you love, I might find retched. So, here are a few of my arguments and agreements with the list of 50 movies presented:

  • I'll start with a few of the films I completely agree with. These are films that would easily appear on a similar list if I put one together: When a Stranger Calls, Motel Hell, April Fools Day, Lemora (shocked to see it here), Exorcist III (very underrated), Alice Sweet Alice, Repulsion, Audition (probably my top ranked movie on the entire list), The Descent, and Night of the Hunter (even though I'm not sure it's really horror).


  • A few movies I would never put on this list: Valentine (hated it!), The Brides of Dracula (it's good, but there are better, equally obscure Hammer films I would include), Halloween III (who doesn't know about this movie), Tourist Trap (fun enough, but not as good as this doc would have you believe), and Food of the Gods (really?).


I'll end this with a list of 20 films I would add to the titular 50. It's a non-US heavy list, but I've tried to stay away from the better known movies from the likes of Bava, Argento, or Fulci. In no real order:

1. The House with Laughing Windows 2. Eyes Without a Face 3. The Island of Lost Souls 4. Mad Love 5. Le Boucher 6. Onibaba 7. The Curse of the Crying Woman 8. The Plague of the Zombies 9. Spoorloos 10. Alucarda 11. The Black Pit of Dr. M 12. Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter 13. Mill of the Stone Women 14. Shock Waves 15. The Queen of Spades 16. The Ninth Gate 17. Mark of the Devil 18. Race with the Devil 19. A Tale of Two Sisters 20. Scream of Fear
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Inner Sanctum (1948)
6/10
"Any more news about the gal who had her heart manicured?"
19 July 2018
Harold Dunlap (Charles Russell) commits a murder on what he believes to be a deserted train platform. However, the platform isn't as empty as it seems. The witness is a young boy named Mike (Dale Belding) who, at first, isn't quite sure what he's seen. Over time, however, Mike understands he's seen a murder. With Dunlap closing in, can he escape in time and notify the authorities before he becomes the next victim.

Inner Sanctum will never make it on a "Best of Film Noir" list, but it's a decent little film that I found entertaining. Dunlap (Charles Russell), is a ruthless character, capable of just about anything - even murdering a child. Hiding in plain sight in the same boarding house where Mike lives is a nice touch that leads to some interesting situations. Dunlap makes several attempts to get rid of young Mike - like suggesting he go out at night to see the flooded river. The fact that Dunlap and Mike share a room only adds to the tension. The framing device used to tell the story is also a nice touch. At first I thought having a psychic telling Dunlap's story to a stranger was odd and misplaced, but it all makes sense in the end. At 62 minutes, Lew Landers' direction is snappy with, other than one notable exception - the beer can scene, no wasted minutes. The film moves at a nice pace. The films' technical aspects (lighting, cinematography, set design, etc.) are all more than adequate - falling somewhere between that of a big studio production on one end and a Poverty Row production on the other.

While I could probably list a number of things about the Inner Sanctum that bothered me (like the annoying Dale Belding or the misplaced comedy for example), I suppose my chief complaint would be the lack of any real character development. We know Dunlap is a murderer and a killer, but we have not idea why or what motivates him. He's just a murderer - nothing more. He's not a fully fleshed-out, three dimensional person. Another example, when another boarding house tenant, Jean Maxwell (Mary Beth Hughes), falls for Dunlap, there's really no reason for it to happen. She falls for Dunlap because she's expected to fall for Dunlap. While the runtime might have made for a quick moving film, it hurts the overall movie by cutting out the time that might have been devoted to better understanding the characters and their motivations.

In the end, the good outweighs the bad and I can easily rate Inner Sanctum a 6/10.
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4/10
A muddled plot
17 July 2018
A man named Michael Newman (Sean Flynn) is hired by a woman to find her missing husband. The trail leads to Venice where Newman encounters a group of baddies intent on keeping the man's whereabouts a secret. The thugs will do anything, even commit murder, to get what they want.

If my little plot summary sounds vague, it's because most of the plot of Mission to Venice is incredibly muddled. I went back and rewatched a couple of scenes to see if I missed something, but no, the details just aren't there. Still, it's not an unwatchable example of an early Eurospy film with some decent fight sequences, spy shenanigans, and interesting locations. A bit "stagey" at times and lacking in real action, but overall, not the worst viewing experience I've ever had. I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more had the transfer I watched been better quality. At times, it was a bit like watching a movie through a haze of milk.

I suppose that one of the more interesting things about Mission to Venice is the lead played by Sean Flynn. Flynn was the son of legendary actor Errol Flynn. He made only a handful of films - most European productions. Flynn might not have set the world on fire with his acting, but I found him engaging enough. Flynn's main co-star, Karin Baal, was a real revelation. I look forward to discovering more of her work.

Finally, I need to mention the score. Mission to Venice has a catchy, loungey, jazzy score that really works to set the movie's tone. It's easily one of the best aspects of the entire film.
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Crimson Peak (2015)
6/10
"Ghosts are real, this much I know."
12 July 2018
I hate skipping plot summaries when I write one of these, but I think it's probably best when discussing Crimson Peak. The plot here isn't all that important. Crimson Peak is one of those "style over substance" movies. The plot takes a backseat to the cinematography, lighting, costumes, sets, special effects, and just about anything else you can list that makes a movie look good. And what plot there is in Crimson Peak is so filled with holes, I fear that dwelling on it will only make me like the movie less. I'll just say that the plot left me with more questions than it answered.

If films are art, Crimson Peak belongs next to the Mona Lisa. It is one of the most stunning pieces of film I've ever seen. Every frame looks like a painting. I'm not sure I've seen a film this beautiful since I watched House of Flying Daggers over ten years ago. The colors, the shadows, the lights - gorgeous. My absolute favorite image (and I'm not alone based on what I've read across the internet) is the ceiling-less grand hall in the rotting great house. It's amazing. Another element that really helps the images come alive is the atmosphere. I may not care for Guillermo del Toro's plot, but there's not denying his skill as a director. He mastfully fills the film with atmosphere so thick, you could cut it with a knife. Combine the atmosphere with the visuals and you end up with a movie I'm going to enjoy on some level despite its other flaws.

The acting in Crimson Peak is hit or miss. Normally, I feel that Tom Hiddleston outshines his co-stars, Here, however, he's completely over-shadowed by Jessica Chastain. She acts circles around everyone else in the film. Her role is the smallest of the three main characters, but she dominates everything - even the scenes she's not in.

Overall, if you're a fan of gothic romance/horror/mystery (although the horror elements don't come to much and the solution to the mystery is all too obvious) you owe it to yourself to check out his gorgeous film.
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The Mod Squad (1999)
3/10
"So you kids are, what? Some kind of mod squad or something?"
11 July 2018
Instead of doing jail time, three young hoodlums agree to go undercover to help the police. The idea is that they can get into places where a normal cop would stand out like a sore thumb. But when their commanding officer is murdered, the three would-be cops are immediately suspected. They'll have to work together to clear their names and find the real killer.

There's really not much to say about The Mod Squad other than it's one hot mess of a movie! The plot is a total disaster. First, the premise is ludicrous. If these three were any good at undercover work, it might have made more sense. However, they blow their cover almost immediately. Second, it's all so dull. The just over 90-minute runtime drags more than it should There's nothing that held my interest, Long stretches of tedious dialogue and lifeless action. Third, and most importantly, the script is horribly predictable. It's not very hard figuring out what's going on and who the baddies are. Plot points are telegraphed from the beginning. It's one of the more poorly written scripts I've seen in a major, theatrically released film.

Too bad, really. The Mod Squad should have set-up Claire Danes for a long, interesting career in films. Coming off Little Women and Romeo & Juliet, she was primed to be the next big thing. But if you look at her filmography, it's not hard to see what this movie did to her career. Sure, she's been successful, but she hasn't been the big star she could and should have been. As for Danes' costars, the less said the better. Epps proves he can't act and Ribisi is uber-annoying. Danes is the lone bright spot in what is otherwise a pitiful excuse of a movie.
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Psych: The Movie (2017 TV Movie)
5/10
"My name is Burton Guster and this is my partner, White Privilege."
28 January 2018
I'm going to sound a bit like some of the others who've written about Psych: The Movie - it was great seeing the gang back together, but the end result left me disappointed. The plot here barely matters as the movie is more about bringing back as many old characters as possible. And because of that, there's often too much going on. There are too many sub-threads that aren't needed and only serve to confuse the issue. Ralph Macchio - unnecessary. John Cena - unnecessary. Corbin Bernsen - (I can't believe I'm saying this) unnecessary. Even the reveal of an old returning baddie (which I won't spoil) - unnecessary and unrecognizable. The big exception to this was Jimmi Simpson as Mary. I always enjoyed his character and here, he adds something fun to the film.

The thing that I always enjoyed the most about Psych was the chemistry between James Roday and Dule Hill. Ask anyone who was a fan - it's what made the show special. And while there are some nice moments between Shawn and Gus, not all of it works. There are times where the comedy feels forced. It lacks that natural flow that made the show special. You've heard the expression that it's hard to catch lightning in a bottle, well, it's even harder to catch it twice. Other shows have tried and generally failed and, unfortunately, Psych is no different.

Psych: The Movie gets a lot of points for nostalgia. A couple of other parts I really got a kick out of were Gus' new stalker-girlfriend (especially when she mentioned Bud from the Cosby Show) and the final scene. Overall, though, a wishy-washy 5/10 from me.
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Bigfoot (1970)
1/10
Complete garbage
24 January 2018
My short and sweet plot summary: A young man named Rick (Christopher Mitchum) goes in search of his girlfriend who has been abducted by the worst looking Bigfoot ever put on film. The local sheriff won't help, so Rick turns to a traveling huckster named Jasper B Hawks (John Carradine) for assistance.

What a complete load of garbage! Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, about Bigfoot is wretched. The movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel - it turns the barrel upside down to get at the poo stuck to the underside. Dull, boring, horribly acted, with some of the absolute worst special effects anyone has ever seen - that' what you'll find in Bigfoot. Carradine may have been a decent actor at one time, but by 1970, he was appearing in just about anything offered. As much as I enjoyed some other films with Christopher Mitchum (Ricco and Summertime Killer to name just two), he proves here how bad an actor he could be without a solid script. It's all so awful it's really not worth saying much more.

After watching this movie, I think I need to revisit some of the other films I've rated 1/10. I think I've done some of those movie a disservice. On IMDb, of the 2,932 films I've rated, 63 received a 1/10. Some of these movies (Dead Men Walk, Sinbad of the Seven Seas, Night of the Sharks, Diamond Connection, Barbarian Queen II, ROTOR, The Adventures of Hercules, or The Swarm for example) have to better, or at least more enjoyable, than Bigfoot.
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