All the episodes I saw suffered from overly dramatic narration, use of inserts culled from Hollywood movies, blurring of details or even entire scenes, perhaps to hide the fact that they are using video clips of a totally different subject and endless repeats of the few minutes or seconds of actual relevant video. This show is on par with the "Gangland" shows and suffers from the same music video style editing. Every visual cliché is used to the limit; inserts with the edges out of focus, phony "scratches" to make digital video look like beat-up movie film, flicker-frame montages and more "Dutch-angle" shots than "Battlefield Earth"! Unless you are bored stiff and will watch just about anything that moves, forget about this series.
OK, I'll concede some of these anachronisms would not register with the majority of viewers. What should not be ignored is the fact that the loss of so many titles and the deterioration of so many prints is due, not to fate or unstable film base or the ravages of time but to the carelessness and appalling policies of the film copyright owners. Roddy MacDowell begins to speak of this in one segment and is almost immediately cut off.
Leonard Maltin introduces us to a fellow who set up a Cinerama system in his home. Mr. Maltin thinks it's wonderful that this individual cared enough about the films to preserve them. What he doesn't mention is that film collectors were systematically hounded and harassed by the film studios and the FBI in the years before DVDs and videotape. Many had their collections confiscated and destroyed and some were sued just as so-called "film pirates" are today. Yet it was the collectors who saved the "one last print" of so many films that would otherwise be lost. The Cinerama guy probably paid somebody to give him the print that was destined for destruction and technically he stole it! Another segment describes how a silent film lover set up a silent theater and lovingly accumulated a library of rare silent prints. What they don't tell you is that the copyright owner of "The Covered Wagon" sued this man for showing the film.....even though they cared so little about it that they junked the negatives for their silver content decades earlier.
And one thing you might not notice until the show is over; where can you and I see these wonderful treasures that have been preserved and restored? Well in many cases, you can't. Unless there is a DVD release such as "Metropolis" received recently, you and I must depend on somebody leaking a copy when they get their hands on a DVD at a film festival. Films must be preserved for the future generations, but not for the likes of us. Well, at least we know they still exist. Better than nothing.
On the bright side, this is a fascinating show. Check it out on Youtube and hope that an updated edition might someday find its way to a DVD and maybe get packaged with a few of those restored treasures as well.
In fact the Forgers characters are even worse, depicted as talentless con-men or child prodigies who can pick up a brush and dash off a flawless imitation of an old master in a few hours in a gloomy basement.
For a real insight to the persona of an art forger look up the career of Eric Hebborn, who really did paint stuff that was often mistaken for very valuable pictures. But he never became wealthy as a result of his work and he was not 15 years old at his peak.
Since the story is rather thin, the producers have made it more relevant to the intended audience by adding a drippy love story and a maudlin tale of parental abandonment, made even sillier by casting a 20 year old man for the part of a young boy. He is supposedly a high school freshman and at one point a character states that he thought the boy was "maybe 12 years old". There is no way Mr. Hutcherson would be mistaken for a 12 year old child.
One wonders why the writers didn't simply make the character a college dropout. The story would have been just as effective and the romantic dialog would have been more believable. The screenplay has all the traits of a work by a committee. Adults will probably find this movie tedious and rather predictable.Younger viewers may enjoy the romantic aspects of the story.
The second problem is the utterly unconvincing acting of Bart Bronson, the central character and semi-hero of the piece. A gangling clumsy fellow, he is unimpressive physically, unemotional in his delivery and alternates between sleepwalking through his scenes and simply yelling at the top of his voice. It doesn't help that the costumer has dressed him in a cow-boyish outfit more appropriate for a club than a courtroom and added a mop of hippy hair that would look great if the movie was set in 1970. He plays the part of the worlds most clueless attorney. His illogical arguments wouldn't get a traffic ticket dismissed and he commits courtroom errors that would have a real lawyer disbarred.
The only saving grace of this dreadful story is Malcolm McDowell who seems to have written his own lines. He is witty, clever and makes far more sense than stammering Bart. Casting Mr. McDowell opposite an unprepared hobby actor is a puzzling strategy and makes Mr. Bronson look even more inept.
Clearly the intended audience for this creation is fundamentalist Xians who will cheer for any story, however dreadful, that supports their particular beliefs. So much do they love this movie that they have apparently conspired to elevate it's deservedly low rating by reviewing it as a mindless mob, rating it a 9 or 10, that is, right on par with Gone With The Wind or Citizen Kane! Unless you are a "fundie" and feel required to buy or rent anything that screams "I am a believer!" as Mr. Bronson does, the only reason to ever watch this is to see a very entertaining performance by Mr. McDowell. But if you have a functioning mind, be prepared to be somewhat infuriated by the ridiculous and illogical screenplay that shoves religious nonsense in your face every few minutes.
This film, like others of its type, substitutes basements or even abandoned factories with their windows covered for underground areas. One look at the brickwork of these phony tunnels is enough to reveal the sets are ordinary locations dressed as spooky tunnels. The huge size of many of the locations should tip off the viewer that they are seeing nothing more mysterious than an old warehouse.
And our explorers are totally unprepared for their adventure. The have no hardhats, no first aid kit, no proper clothing, nothing but a few dinky flashlights. If not for their "guide" somehow toting 5 sets of rubber waders in his tiny backpack they would never have made it through a flooded tunnel. We are further told that scrawny teens can climb 50 feet, hand over hand, on a thin rope. And thats up and down. Small wonder the actual climbing is not shown! And of course the abandoned tunnels are full of improbable characters who survive on.....what....rats? If you like to suspend your disbelief totally, you will probably enjoy this film. But if, like me, obvious plot holes spoil the experience you may wish you watched something else.
At first I thought this would be a spoof of this type of story and looked forward to some entertaining gags. But no, this thing is apparently meant to be "for real" and we must suffer through the antics of two brainless lugs and one bimbo as they karate-chop their way through life.
This clunker has the appearance of a costly production, what with many 'splodin' things, flyovers of a big city, cgi space satellites and such, but it's still small enough to require the crew to post bogus favorable reviews, hoping to bolster the pathetic rating and maybe con a few credulous viewers into buying or renting this wretched dog! It's a stinker of the bottom tier! Avoid!
I guess if you haven't seen many "evil parasite" movies this one is as good as any. But its like meeting an old friend. Not much you didn't already know. And if you don't actually buy into all the warming hysteria you will be groaning and looking at your watch a lot.
A riot is shown as a major turning point. All it showed me was that pushing people too far makes them do crazy things. In one scene we see rioters destroying a car. Later they pass a car turned upside-down. So whose cars were they? Some white slum landlord who fled on foot? I doubt it. I think some hapless resident of this neighborhood woke up the next day to find he didn't have a car anymore. And all so rioters could break something. What can you say about people who loot and burn down their own neighborhood? Wouldn't YOU want to contain them? Whats the answer? To me the moral was "get out of the area and don't come back", not "Join a gang and fight".
This film was difficult for me to watch because of the overuse of visual effects. Motion sequences were sped up or run backwards and forwards. Stills used "camera shake" or unnecessary zooms. And everywhere was the "old film" effect where phony edge flare, scratches, jumpy picture and even the effect of the film jamming in the projector and catching fire. This stuff is OK if used very sparingly. When applied to every sequence, it get really tedious. And less hip-hop scratch on the soundtrack would have helped.
Since I have never lived in this neighborhood, I can only guess how non-gang members feel. But somehow I think that a lot of folks who live in the neighborhood shown in the film wish the gang guys would just go away. To me, this film shows that the gangs hurt their own friends and neighbors a lot more than they help.
The sister he raised has become a a shrill, nasty and greedy harpy whose only achievement has been to marry an older, possibly mentally challenged fellow who she humiliates at every opportunity.
The next brother has become a drug addict and returns to town only to collect on the will. Since a hard-core junkie is not in keeping with the uplifting nature of this film, the writer/director has made the brother a funny retro addict, bypassing the contemporary image of a crack-head and the earlier hippy-dippy LSD freak image and making him a beatnik type who spouts political nonsense and acts befuddled like a bad imitation of Maynard Krebbs.
The last sibling is the eponymous Bobby, an indifferent goth kid who also dresses like a preppy of 1980's vintage when he thinks it will help his dating chances. His age is also up for grabs. The tag-line for the film calls him a 15 year old, he is said to be 16 in the film dialog, but he is able to legally buy and drive a car which would make him 18, at least in Ohio where the film was made.
There is also an honorary brother, Eric, a goth buddy of Bobby who lives with them when his drunken mother is having a bad day. His age too is a mystery. He is apparently a high school senior like his friend but his mom appears to be about 65 years old. I guess the booze really takes its toll.
Then we have James himself: Since he must have been 21 when his parents died in order to have custody of the siblings, and since we are told he has been pursuing the death certificate for 12 years, his minimum age must be 33. He has no apparent means of support, no job and his source of income is a mystery. We know he likes to dress up in funny costumes and he encourages Bobby to do likewise. He claims this is a biblical directive. And though his Christian philosophy has produced tragic results so far, he browbeats little Bobby constantly to "get right with God". James himself is a sorry role model: round shouldered, pot bellied, flabby, and largely ignorant of stuff like legal procedures, financial planning, home repair, just about anything a surrogate dad should know, he reacts to most situations by playing an over-age class clown, acting childish and silly when he is at a loss for words. Even little Bobby seems more mature.
If this seems like a dark drama about a dysfunctional family, bear in mind that this is a COMEDY! The film maker offers this as "something that's really unusual in the Christian market." There is more but if you want to experience the full measure of this films' madness you must watch it yourself, if you can find a copy. It had its premier at the Grace CMA Church in Middleburg Hts., Ohio so its not exactly a festival fave! The database does not provide a merchandise link although Amazon will sell you a copy. I think Redbox declined to get involved.
The film is "basically targeting a teenage audience and also meant for college students" according to the film maker but it's difficult to imaging even the most pious Xian teens greeting this story with anything but groans. My feeling is the target audience is made up of old deacons who sign the purchase orders for church study materials. For although this film is dreary and deadly in every respect, it is NOT offensive in the slightest. There is not a single kiss, no hugs, no romantic talk, no cursing, no introspective thoughts, and only the most vague and broad references to religion. There is no theological discussion here and, unless you are Jewish, nothing in this film will conflict with your faith, or lack thereof.
With the exception of the actor who plays James, (a credited voice actor and a professional clergyman) the players have but one credit, this film, to their names. By using hobby actors, their own home as a set, their own screenplay and non-union crew, the Staron twins have brought in a completed film for next to nothing. It's hard to imagine films like this losing money, especially since this genre is known for low quality product. While I find their film awful in every respect, I must admit their strategy is brilliant. If they make a few more of these niche films and maintain their high return on investment they may well be on their way to making better mainstream films. In the meantime the Starons can claim the titles of "Ed Wood" and "William Beaudine" of Xian films.
Technically, Blakes Seven was way better. The sound effects and some of the background music as well are just oscillators going WWWWOOOOOO at different frequencies. The rocketship going out of control is cleverly suggested by flashing red lights and tilting the camera back and forth. The control room is full of big pilot lights all flashing in unison and signifying nothing. Considering the size of the control room set, the rocketship must be about 600 feet tall. It's never explained how people get in and out of this skyscraper of a space ship.
The entire population of the planet appears to be around 75 people. There are no cities, no factories, they never even show the tyrant's palace from the outside. There is only a little mine, equipped with 19th century style hardware. All the men apparently work in the mine and all the women dance on the leaders lawn all day long for his amusement. What do the people eat? Unlike Flash, the situation of tyrant/slaves/heroic space explorers/etc. is not resolved at the end of the film. You may well ask if there is another reel that somehow didn't get shown.
OK, maybe its unfair to dis a movie like this since the Communist film industry must have had a lot of problems. But if a clunker like this came from American International back in 1965 the critics would have panned it brutally. Its too dull and boring to be a lost gem and not wacky enough to be a cult classic. If I had to see stuff like this when I went to the movies I might have tried to tunnel out of the country too!
Its very low budget. It boasts a small cast of unknowns, so-so effects and clunky props. In one scene, a cardboard coffin is nailed shut. Torture implement are obviously bogus and blood and...um...other fluids are a bit unconvincing.
Acting style and direction will remind some viewers of "BloodFeast", marked by shameless overacting and mugging to the camera. But this rough and primitive little venture into sadistic serial killers lives and the blackest of black humor might well be in the vanguard of the next wave of shock videos. For this little film is really like nothing else you have seen. More disgusting than "Mordum", more unsettling than "Midnight Meat Train" or "reanimator", it pushes the envelope further than Larry Clark ever dared.
The story: Two gay losers, sort of a modern day Leopold and Loeb combo, decide to embark on a career of serial rape/murder/torture/kidnapping. To soften the hideous escapades, the story is laced with black humor which should make you laugh and vomit alternately. Its not a film for everyone. In fact it is a film for a very few: fans of gore, shock and those on a quest for a film that won't bore or remind them of some other film. Personally, I think HGL would have been proud.
Now just try to find a copy.
This is not to say the serial isn't entertaining. But most will likely view it as a 70 year old curiosity rather than the exciting thriller it was meant to be. Whether you want to invest almost 4 hours of your life watching it is the question. Incidentally, the title music would later be reused in the Columbia serial "The Vigilante, Fighting Hero of the West" in a somewhat re-orchestrated form. The story, of course, would be recycled again and again.
The set is apparently a basement with utility tunnels, one of which appears to be a cave. At least it doesn't have straight walls like a building would. Why they call it a tower is odd. There are no stairs. All the action seems to take place in the basement. And its a small set. We see the same window over and over even though the people comment about the "maze" they get lost in. The gore effects are quite good but they don't start until we have been put to sleep by the endless chatter from the dopey girls. The camera work is pretty good too. The lighting is so low key and dark that lots of the good gore stuff is really hard to see. I know its supposed to be a dark old haunted place and all but a bit more light would have made the effects much more entertaining. Its also rather sad to read comments from persons obviously involved in making the film trumpeting this film as a "10" in press release language. Nobody talks like that. It doesn't fool anybody.
This movie will be liked best by fans of the makers earlier work. For other viewers its average at best.