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Excessive Profanity and Predictability Spoils This Vacation
The original National Lampoon's Vacation movie withstood the test of time because of the brilliance of the acting, comic timing, and the very realistic situations that could happen to a family on a vacation where "Murphy's Law" that "Anything could go wrong, will go wrong." is proved. The original Vacation had the proper settings for comic build up, with some levels of raunchy behavior, but at least there was a reason for the behavior, and there was great humor that led up to that behavior.
This Vacation shows that the writers main premise was to have a twelve year old kid drop F-bombs and have the main characters often engage in sexual situations for little more than shock value. This story has Rusty as an adult looking to bond with his wife and sons by taking them to Wally World to reconnect with them. Continuity is incorrect as Rusty tells his family what a wonderful time he had at Wally World as a kid. As most know from the original film, this is incorrect, Rusty's trip to Wally World as a kid was a series of disasters one after the other along the way. It is as if the writers of this remake forgot that main point!
Some of the situations are funny, but others are not. A scene where the vulgar twelve year old younger brother tries to suffocate his older brother by putting a bag over his head goes too far. Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo who had such classic chemistry in the original film exist in pointless cameos, reduced to being cold and lifeless.
Having said that, there are some funny situations, the writing however is not original at all. There was so much profanity, even in the end credits song, and that was sad to hear. Much less profanity and less forced sexually suggestive dialogue would have made this Vacation a much better film.
When You Remember Me (1990)
A Wonderful Film! With Some Thoughts on the Real Michael Patrick Smith Case
This is a dramatization of real life events in the case of Micheal Patrick Smith, a young adult who suffered the effects of Duchenne Muscular Distrophy and lived in several nursing homes through the coarse of his too-short life. The actual nursing home, on which this film is based, was called Heritage House, where Mike Smith resided in the early 1970's. The film chronicles the terrible conditions that Mike suffered, showing him at two facilities, the later one called Heritage House. (Named Hesperia House in the movie.) It also shows how Mike and a compassionate Recreational Director named Wade Blank, (In the movie called "Wade Black.") sought to bring about better living conditions for the disabled, as well as showing the patients how to advocate their rights to make their lives as comfortable and independent as possible. I found some real-life information below about the actual case doing on on-line Google Search about Wade Blank.
Wade Blank worked at the home from December of 1971 until 1975. When he went to the center for the first time, it was just before Christmas of 1971 and the place was in his words " A morgue." Wade remembered what they ate the first night. Scrambled Eggs, Baked Potato, and Applesauce. The food was cold. Other reports were that cockroaches were found in cereal bowls, Colostomy Bags were not changed regularly, flies buzzed constantly near a patient in a full body cast, patients were shoved into cold showers.
Wade worked for four years to help improve conditions at the home. I learned that he took the kids to a rock concert, just live in the movie. Wade sought to let the young residents have music, such as radios, stereos, and TV's in the rooms. They were allowed to have pets, they could evaluate the nurses. However, when Wade tried to help the kids move out of the home to become more independent, he was fired. All of the reforms that he put in place, such as animal control coming to take the pets away, no music in the rooms, was literally changed overnight. I also understand the abuses at Heritage House and the resulting lawsuit got the whole staff fired! This shows the amazing impact that Wade and Mike made to help the disabled lead better lives!
When You Remember Me is a composite of the above events, with some names changed and some of the above omitted from the movie for legal reasons and time constraints. In the movie, Micheal Patrick Smith, is Micheal Mills. Fred Savage plays Mike Mills and gives an amazing portray of him! Kevin Spacey is wonderful as Wade, and Ellen Burstyn is chilling as the insensitive and "By The Book" rule authoritarian head nurse, Mary Cooder. The best impression of Louse Fletcher's, Nurse Ratshit from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" that you will ever see!
You feel the pain and agony that these patients endured in this movie, and see the darkness of the facility. It's amazing to observe the energy and feeling that Fred Savage puts into Michael's character, as he tries so much to help change an apathetic and abusive system. Sadly, despite the movie saying at the end that conditions have improved at institutions at this kind, in some regards that may be true. However, in other facilities, it is not. When You Remember Me will make you think about the struggles both physically and emotionally that disabled people experience each day. Highly recommended viewing!
The Odd Couple (2015)
Thomas Lennon is good Felix Unger, However, show is mediocre
There will never in the history of TV be another Felix like Tony Randall or Oscar like Jack Klugman. Furthermore, the Odd Couple movie with Jack Lemmon as Felix and Walter Matthau as Oscar was very good, the original series was golden. My take on the remake is below.
I think Thomas Lennon is a very good Felix. The voice, mannerisms, and personality reflect Tony Randall's legendary performance well. Matthew Perry, as other have stated, does not cut it as Oscar Madison. He's too nice. Matthew's not angry enough as Oscar, and sees Felix as more of a mild annoyance rather than the intensely disliked Felix that Jack Klugman as Oscar gave to Tony Randall's character, and especially Walter Matthau, showing Oscar's hate of Jack Lemmon's Felix in the Odd Couple movie.
Also, none of the names of the main supporting characters make it into this modernized version of the classic series. Too many episodes seem to focus more on the love interests of the roommates and not their annoying opposite personalities and habits that made the classic Odd Couple series and movie so memorable.
There's too many flaws and differences in the script for Thomas Lennon to carry this remake alone. He is really making a solid effort as Felix Unger. However, too many differences from the classic series, and Matthew Perry being miscast as Oscar will not likely improve this series remake to anything higher than an average rating.
I actually lowered my rating from five to four stars. Too many sexual innuendo jokes that are totally out of place for this show.
Dead Poets Society (1989)
One of The Most Beautiful, Inspirational, Films Ever Made!
I absolutely love this film! Everything from the beautiful cinematography, to the pacing and the directing is purely magical and awe inspiring! There are many powerful moments in this film. Dead Poets Society motivates me intensely, with its message that you have to have the courage to follow your dreams, to live your life the way you want. Be willing to stand up to authority, if that authority stifles your dreams.
Robin Williams is brilliant here, but so is Robert Sean Leonard! In fact, all of the young actors are outstanding! Especially for Robert Sean Leonard and Robin Williams, viewers are drawn into this film as if you knew the characters they play and the emotions they feel. You envision John Keating, (played by Robin Williams) as the inspirational teacher you once had, or wish had. You automatically empathize with Neil Perry (Played by Robert Sean Leonard) dreams of becoming an actor, against the wishes of his ultra-authoritarian father.
I indirectly know someone who had an ultra-strict father like Neil, and sought a free-spirited life away from his demanding father and his family's rigorous lifestyle and demands of academic success. This person devoted his life to reading, philosophy, the hippie movement, writing, and humanitarian efforts. He was troubled by inequities and hypocrisy in society. He loved to help people, everything he did was for humanity. Both Neil and Mr. Keating would move him to tears! They would understand this person I knew, and I think of him every time I see this movie. It moves me, deeply.
Dead Poets Society encourages others to become free, independent, thinkers. To believe in yourself, and to show how writing and the power of poetry can inspire you and others around you. The sensitivity that this film shows is stunning! This movie will make you think and melt your heart! It is very emotional! "Carpe Diem! Seize the Day! Make your lives extraordinary!" See this landmark film!
Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986)
Very Funny Movie With Wit and Insight!
I like Brighton Beach Memoirs very much. The pacing of the movie and the character's delivery really draws the viewers into the time period. While Johnathon Silverman's accent may be a bit forced at times, he reflections about growing up in a bitter dysfunctional family are very natural, honest, and direct.
Brighton Beach Memoirs balances comic wit with the trails and tribulations of family values without being overly sentimental or preachy. Some sensitive moments are lightened with Johnathon's character, "Eugene's" audience narration. However, the narratives are never forced nor overly done. They really help the viewer see the types of struggles that a depression-era/pre-World War II family might have seen, even if members of the audience might not have lived in that time period.
The only critique I have is that Eugene's "sex fetishes" were too overdone and brought the movie down a little bit. These suggested dialogs make the movie inappropriate for children under 13, (It's rated PG-13) I would probably wait until my kids were 15 before letting them see this movie for the suggestive sex dialogs. Note that some are strong, especially in many of the conversations with Johnathon and his brother, Stanly. If you're over 15 and aren't bothered by suggested sex dialog, you will find these scenes to be very funny, as is most of the movie! I enjoyed Brighton Beach Memoirs and would recommend it, even for repeated viewing.
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
It's Good, But Not The Great Film That Has Been Believed
I have heard about Rebel Without a Cause for years. It was a cult classic that withstood the test of time and spoke to past and future generations about troubled youth. I also remember how James Dean was such an icon in pop culture, and I loved Blackboard Jungle, which came out about the same time, so I was hoping for a similar classic in Rebel Without a Cause. I prepared myself to be blown away.
Unfortunately, all I saw was a slightly above average movie that was not so much about rebellion but a failure between teens and parents to communicate. In Rebel Without a Case, each of the main protagonists has pain in his/her own family life, ranging from an abusive father,(the parent of Natalie Wood) a young teen (Sal Mineo) with no parents being raised by a housekeeper, and another teen who lives with an over-protective mother, and a hen-pecked apathetic father. (James Dean's parents.) The story involves Jim Stark (Dean) trying to fit in at school. A very difficult task as his family has constantly been moving from state to state because Jim can't seem to stay out of trouble. He quickly (almost too quickly) befriends several students at the school and also makes several enemies, all in a very short period of time.
Jim quickly becomes provoked into a knife fight by another group leader while on a class field trip to a planetarium. He retains his cool for the most part, but is goaded into another dare by some bad apples to participate in a car race known as the "Chickie Run." Each member of the group dares to risk death by speeding his car up to a cliff, stopping as close to the cliff as possible by jumping out. Whoever jumps last is "Chicken." The rival member "Buzz" gets his jacket caught in the car door and can not jump out as the car topples over the cliff and Buzz is killed. The rest of the movie involves Jim and his friends debating if they should go to the police, as well as the fears and repercussions faced by Buzz's friends who are out looking for Jim because they believe he is responsible for Buzz's death.
No one can talk to the parents so the group hides in an old abandoned mansion. Jim befriends, Plato, in an excellent performance by Sal Mineo who has a troubled past of his own. He was picked up by the police shooting puppies. (Thankfully not shown.) However, there is a certain empathy and sensitivity about Plato that makes him more empathetic as the movie goes on. Each of Jim's friends see the seriousness, lack of communication, and disconnection that their friends have with each one of their parents.
There are some good moments of suspense, but Jim's parents especially Mr. Stark, payed by Jim Backus (Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island) display no solid acting qualities at all. It's almost like they were picked off the street, given a script to read for a week and just go through the motions. James Dean had the macho and charisma of a leading man actor who died in a horrible car accident before this movie was released. However, I think his Hollywood looks at the time were better than his acting. The talented Natalie Wood, as Dean's love interest has no time to develop because she jumps into his arms for support too fast. This quick timing renders their relationship to be unrealistic. Sal Mineo does the best acting job of the trio who shows the most believable actions and reactions to the movie's events and how they affect both his friends and him.
The problem is that Rebel Without a Cause has an interesting premise, but a muddied superficial story that needs better character development for the viewer to empathize with these troubled teens. Instead of being blown away by what this movie was supposed to represent, I got, at best, a strong breeze.
Rebel Without a Cause is a good movie for a one-time viewing. But for all-time classic repeated viewing status, it's just not there. Blackboard Jungle blows this movie away.
Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love (1979)
A "Beautiful and Heartfelt" Movie!
The story of Raun Kaufman in Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love, is one of the most heartwarming and inspiration movies I have ever seen! In contrast, many other "Made For TV Movies" often rely on fake-emotions and soap opera themes to interest the viewer. There is nothing artificial about this movie! The parents, who overcome the cold, apathetic, professional staffers who say, "Your son will never be able to function on his own. He's too young, bring him back when he's older. He's going to need institutionalization for the rest of his life," don't want to hear any of this and set out to "home-school" Raun by creating a nurturing positive environment out of their home, through everything they do, and everyone who comes in contact with their son for three straight years.
The controversial methods that they used involved mimicking Raun's autistic behaviors in an attempt for go into his world to enable Ruan to communicate with them. Through movements, sounds, games, puzzles, and positive reinforcement, literally 24x7, Raun not only develops into someone who showed no traces of autism by the time he was about six years old, but the end of the movie goes on to say that he graduated from an Ivy League School! His parents and he have established clinics around the world to help autistic children through the program that they and Rawn inspired, "Son-Rise." The movie's ending scene in the park has a line that you will remember for the rest of your life! The same is true with the beautiful song that begins the film, "Is There Room in Your World For Me?" There were controversies about Raun's case in real-life. After reading father, Barry Kaufman's books and millions of viewers saw this movie, many tried the methods and the specific home-treatments on which the film was based. People looked for "Miracle Cures" and did not see the remarkable improvement that people saw in the movie. Further reading on the case showed a top-doctor had examined Raun before his parents began their "home training" program, and found him to be a slow-learner, who had problems with language development, but was not "autistic." The issue that the medical experts say is that there is no "base-line" for determining autism verses cognitive slow development. Other specialists, to this day, share concern about mimicking the autistic behavior to reach autistic children. There is no-question that what the Kaufman's did with Raun was remarkable! However, doctors have said that Raun's case is extremely A-typical of only about 4% of people diagnosed with autism.
In summation, the program for the most part works, but the degrees of success will certainly vary from child to child. It takes an incredible amount of time, money, patience, love and positive reinforcement to do what the Kaufman's did for Raun. The only flaw is that this movie seems to send a message that "Since the treatments worked for Raun, they will work for all autistic kids." And sadly, this is not the case.
There are very painful moments in the film when Raun's parents see the terrible way that kids are treated in the facilities, when they visit them. Set in the early to mid-70's, the Kaufman's observe that staffers are rough with them, kids are tied down, given shock-treatments to "quiet them down." Truly heartbreaking and upsetting, as the children were just treated like objects instead of nurturing, lovable human beings. The insensitivity toward the way professional staffers viewed their son's case and the questionable "treatments" used were the main reasons why the Kaufmen's chose the positive reinforcement environment and family members within their own home as Raun's intensive, learning and therapy sessions. This movie will move you to tears every time!
Proves That Sequels Never Equal Great Originals
I will never forget the wit and great comedy of the ORIGINAL Vacation movie! The lines, pacing, and timing of events in that film are outstanding! However, this European Vacation sequel is a major let down.
In this sequel, the Griswalds win a European Vacation on a game show. The problem is that many of the jokes in the film are little more than mild, "ha-ha" laughs. For example, a Flight Attendant on an airplane asks Clark, "Do you want your Coke in the Can?" Clark answers back, "No, I'll have it right here." A few other mildly funny bits put this movie, average at best. No where near the greatness of the original Vacation movie!
European Vacation's humor is strained. As if the writers borrowed all the jokes from the first movie, tried to re-hash a script that had been done before, and relied on a ridiculous slap-stick chase scene sequence toward the end of the picture just to kill time.
Worse, the natural comic standouts like Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie and the original kids who played Rusty and Audrey from the first movie so well are nowhere to be found. Their replacements are not funny, can't act, and just look like they are going through the motions most of the time. There are also a few crude sex jokes and comments that are not only not funny, they are in bad taste.
The Griswald's should have stayed in Wally World. The place that made them legends! Don't join them on this European dreadful adventure. Viewers should re-watch the original Vacation movie in place of this! You'll be glad you did.
The Shawshank Redemption For Its Time! Even Better! Unforgettable!
This moving is spell-bounding! It has an incredible effect on me to this day about the harsh realities and injustices of our criminal justice system. So many people are tempted to not watch this movie because "It's so old." Don't be fooled by it's age! I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang is one of the most moving and heart-breaking prison pictures you will ever see! Paul Muni gives a landmark, jaw dropping, performance with great sensitivity and wit as one man's struggle against a criminal justice system gone insane.
You will not believe that a movie THIS GOOD goes back to 1932! I was blown away by the incredible realism of the prison scenes! The sadistic warden in this picture will send chills up your spine.
This is a landmark film that because of its age, does not get the treatment it deserves! See it! It is a gem! You will remember it for the rest of your life!
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
Good Film. But Various Different Edits Taint its Enjoyment
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is often compared to Mary Poppins and rightfully so as both films have a similar story line. A magical nanny is sent to look after children, both have the same leading protagonist (David Tomlinson,) both feature live film and animation, with songs by the Sherman brothers, and both came out of the Walt Disney studio.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks involves an apprentice witch who wants to complete her correspondence course in beginning witchcraft, but to do this, she has to search for a magical spell called Subsitutiary Locomotion which will complete her training. The story involves Angela Lansbury, playing the witch, who flies on a magical bed with Tomlinson and her three caretakers, to an animated land attempting to retrieve the spell. In addition, the film is set in World War II, where a mixture of live Nazi's and animated creatures both try to help and hinder Lansbury, Tomlinson, and the children on their adventures. The five characters control the bed through a magical bedknob that transports them from a reality world to a fantasy world and back again.
Years ago, I had a record that had the Songs From Bedknobs and Broomsticks on it and loved it! However, when I saw the film on Turner Classic Movies and later researched it, sadly I learned that this film, which could have been a classic, suffers badly because of editing and failed restoration work.
The original release of the film played in limited areas and ran about two and a half hours. Disney decided to make its first cuts to the film several months later when it went into wide release. The wide release version is what I saw on Turner Classic Movies. While this film was trimmed by over twenty minutes, most likely to cater to the shorter attention spans of children at the time of wide release, you can easily spot the edits. The Eglantine number is shortened, only a few words of With a Flair remain, The Old Home Guard seems to start in the middle of the second verse of the song, and the wonderful perhaps best song in the film "A Step in The Right Direction" is not there. However, you can hear the instances of the instrumental on the soundtrack.
In 1979, the film was re-released again and ludicrously cut even more to about ninety five minutes. For years this is what was played on Standard Cable and Broadcast TV. Only two songs remain in this version. In 1996, Disney attempted to reconstruct the film, but were successful only in spots. About twenty minutes of footage was found and added back into the movie. However, the song "A Step in the Right Direction" was mysteriously not found and remains "Lost." The audio track for the song was recovered, and you can hear this on the Special Edition DVD, with still shots from the film showing what the scenes looked like as the song was song.
However, the discarded footage soundtrack was not recoverable, because it had been damaged or lost. Many actors were too old or had passed away and could not re-do their speaking and singing parts, so Disney had to hire extras to dub their voices over the restored footage. The dubbing is horribly bad, especially for the voice-over of one of the children, Charlie, and the voice-over for David Tomlinson, sounds nothing like him! You would think Disney could have at least found actors with voices that resembled the tones, accents, and pitches of the original dialog. It is great that several songs were recovered, but without "Step in the Right Direction," restored back to the film, which is such an uplifting and encouraging song, and the terrible dubbing, the film will be a mixed bag.
Why Disney cut "Step in the Right Direction" is criminal! I think Disney should have taken more time to look for it when they did the film restoration project for the 1996 DVD. What SHOULD have been shortened is the animated soccer match, which remains a sequence that does not help the film at all. The "With A Flair" song, as well as "Eglantine" are at their full lengths on the restored DVD, as is the Portobello Road dance sequence. However, some critics feel that the extended version of Portobello Road is too long. The restored DVD has a new song called "Nobody's Problems For Me." My vote would be a choice of versions on a double-sided DVD for future release. Side 1 would contain the widespread DVD release that Turner Classic Movies plays. Side 2 would be the extended version, but WITH the originally undubbed dialog found and remastered with "A Step in the Right Direction" added in if it is ever found! The loss of "Step in the Right Direction" and the bad dubbing in the extended version hurts what could have been a great film. Bedknobs and Broomsticks has the important plot of searching for a missing spell. Tragically ironic that Disney took out bits and pieces of this film that may never be recovered. It is sad to think what this film could have been if the limited release had been LEFT ALONE!
Born Free (1966)
Superbly Filmed and Acted! Very Moving Movie and Amazing Song!
Born Fee may be the greatest and most beautiful animal film ever created! It is the true story of Elsa, the lioness whom a Kenyan couple, George and Joy Adamson, raise as a cub, take in as a pet, when George is forced to shoot Elsa's Mother in self defense as she charges at him. Shortly afterword, George leans that the reason why the Mother lioness tried to attack him, she was protecting her cubs.
The Adamson's take in the entire liter of three cubs and grow very attached to them. When the cubs are on the screen, the emotional bond that the viewer feels is unforgettably blended with the beautiful backdrop of Africa scenery. Filmed in Kenya, where the real story happened, the Cinematography and music are spell-bounding! You really feel drawn into the lives of the couple and the lion cubs, and especially Elsa! Joy becomes most attached to Elsa, the smallest of the liter. When the other cubs become too difficult to manage, in a heartbreaking scene, they are sent to a zoo. George and Joy decide to keep Elsa. However, as she matures, the couple's friends and villagers become concerned, because Elsa has been frightening off villagers and livestock. The couple are dedicated and determined that Elsa would never be happy in a zoo or any other captivity environment, as Joy through tears says, "She was born free, she deserves to live free!" The couple than must do what has never been done before. Take Elsa from a domesticated pet and train her how to be wild. They spend hours, months, teaching her how to hunt, deal with conflict, and courtship. This film tags at the heartstrings big time, because there are scenes where she chases the truck after they are forced to leave her alone for the first time and she starts chasing the truck. Or the heartbreaking scene where she comes back to George and Joy's camp starving or hurt because she hasn't yet learned how to take care and hunt for herself.
Finally, after Elsa kills a warthog, the Adamson's learn that she can be on her own. The movie ends with George and Joy reuniting with Elsa and her own family of cubs in a beautiful mountainous, hillside view, with the unforgettable title tune by Matt Monro that will send emotional chills up your spine and bring tears to your eyes. This is a landmark film that is flawless! A beautiful film for families and children to learn about the importance of kindness to animals and the difficulty that it can take making a wild animal into a domestic pet.
Tragically, the real Elsa only lived about five years. She died of what appeared to be a severe tick disease similar to what is called "animal malaria." The work of Joy and George Adamson's devotion to protecting and preserving animal life remained for many years after Born Free. They showed that animals were just as important to be card for and loved as humans and that human contact and compassion with them can create a bond, lasting a lifetime.
However, in 1980, Joy Adamson who was known to be very forceful and demanding with her camp staff, was tragically found stabbed to death near her camp. Originally, authorities belied that she had been mauled by a lion, but the autopsy reports showed that her wounds were not consistent with an animal attack. The story is that a disgruntled worker, alleged that Joy had not paid him for two weeks, and they got into a fight. He alleges that Joy shot at him but no evidence has surfaced to support this. Angered over not being paid, he stabbed her to death and was sentenced to life in prison, escaping the death penalty by hanging,since Joy's attacker's age could not be proved, the judge sentenced him to life in prison.
George Adamson suffered a similar tragic fate when in 1989 he was shot to death by poachers who were attacking a tourist who had been visiting him. George was able to save the life of the tourist, in an incredible heroic effort for an over 80 year old man! However, George himself did not survive the shooting. In news that shattered hearts around the world, both he and Joy died terrible, painful, and senseless deaths.
However, their love and devotion to animal preservation and support was so internationally impacted, that many wildlife preservation societies today are a result of their work. Film stars Virgina McKernna and Bill Travers, the real-life British couple (the real life Adamson's were not British) who portrayed the Adamson's in the movie helped establish the Born Free Preservation Society in 1984. Working with the Adamson's on the set of Born Free so moved Virgina and Bill that they continued to work with helping wild animals. Bill did it for the remainder of his life and Virgina is still active in wildlife preservation to this day.
Born Free, is a movie, an experience, and a song, that will move you for the rest of your life!
The Parallax View (1974)
Good. But Bites Off More Than it Can Chew
The Parallax View is a political thriller. A combined mystery, who-done-it? that starts Warren Beatty as an investigative news reporter who gets incredibly involved with someone or some group who are out to assassinate prominent politicians.
Beatty, and the high-profile drama that one might expect from such a thriller, are supposed to grab the viewer into this picture. I think the intent of the writers and directors was to create such a powerful movie that the viewer is left stunned and blown away thinking, "WOW, This is an amazing movie!" However, the problem with The Parallax View is the amount of information that the viewer is asked to absorb is so overwhelming and characters, in addition to plot sequences, do not take place in a very logical or coherent way. Furthermore, believability is strained in several moments of the picture. The main protagonist has enough personal problems and turmoil in his own life. I did not believe that he had the experience, knowledge, or foresight to know how to get involved in stories and events of such worldly importance. Some questions are answered. Unfortunately, there are far more questions that remain unanswered.
I wanted to review a masterpiece here, because I have heard so much praise for this film over the years. Unfortunately, I have to agree with the other comments that I don't know what to take from this movie, failing to understand its morals, its values. I question its purpose. However, I must give some credit to the writers for giving a good effort. What is disappointing, is that the effort is not the great, incredible, jaw-dropping, mystery and political thriller that so many believe.
The problem with The Parallax View could be akin to someone creating a cake recipe that they said "try this, it's the greatest cake you have had!" It appears that in the effort to follow the recipe for what was supposed to be a great movie, there are one or two main ingredients missing. Due to the plot holes, and lack of continuity in characters and scene developments, I am not sure what those ingredients should be to make the movie great.
However, something is missing that prevents this film from being great.
The Death of Richie (1977)
The Saddest and Most Powerful Drug Dependency Movie of All Time!
The Death of Richie is a landmark TV movie about the downward spiral of a teenager on drugs and the insurmountable pain it brings to his hurt, helpless, parents. This film was a powerhouse in terms of its acting and incredible storytelling. It remains just as brilliant and true to life today. Nothing is held back in this movie. Nothing! Robbie Benson as Richie and Ben Gazzara as his strict but loving father, deliver Oscar-Winning caliber performances! The hurt and the pain in this heartbreaking film is so real that viewers will remember this film for the rest of their lives! Based on an actual case and best selling book in the 1970's, "Richie" the violence and abuse that Richie caused himself and his family speaks volumes. When Richie becomes so violent and abusive to his father, tearing the family apart beyond any hope of reconciliation, the father and Richie, both in a fit of rage, reach a boiling point where Richie's Dad is forced to shoot his own son.
In the actual case, the grand jury did not indict Richie's father for the killings, citing self-defense was necessary by the father to protect him and the family from the pain that Richie's tragic and horrifying drug use caused.
Everyone who has a child, a parent, any friend or relative with substance abuse problems, please do yourself a favor and see this movie! It will open everyone's eyes to the horror that drug addiction can do to yourself and those you love. That the damage from such an addiction can become a disease, which left unchecked and not treated, can leave such indescribable horror for everyone, resulting in tragic consequences that can never be repaired.
One spoiler side-note: The dramatic ending of Richie screaming as his father shoots him was shown when the film first premiered in January, 1977 on NBC. I will never forget that ending! The one problem is that the NBC censors thought Richie's scream was too painful of an ending, so they edited it out of all future airings. This was a very stupid mistake on NBC's part. This film was just too good and had such an emotional message when it premiered that to cut ANYTHING from this movie would deviate from the power of the original version. If the DVD comes out, NBC should restore Richie's scream at the end. It tied-in all the pain and intensity of this TV movie masterpiece!
My rating is 9 stars for the current version, and 10 stars for the completely unedited version, which hopefully will soon be available again!
Eagle Eye (2008)
Good Effort, But Tries To Be Too Much At Once
Eagle Eye is a decent once view about two strangers who are thrown into a mysterious cat and mouse game of constantly being watched by a mysterious woman who is controlling their every movie. If they fail to comply, she warns them that they will die. As they try to do each task, the woman pushes them into more increasingly life-risking situations.
The premise of this could be George Orwell's 1984 comes to the big screen. Eagle Eye raises some serious questions about how much security is too much, and it is interesting to speculate on what could happen to someone if information is leaked into the wrong hands. The feelings that producer Steven Spielberg wanted to create, according to star Shia Labeouf was he wanted viewers to sense paranoia about how powerful today's technology really is, and the amazing impact that it can have on our lives.
The problem with Eagle Eye is that there are far too many running, chasing, jumping, and escape type sequences that go so fast from one scene to the next that you don't really get the time to identity with the main characters. There is so much rush to everything that the viewer does not get the seriousness of the message that Steven Spielberg and director DJ Caruso wanted. There are many unanswered questions in this movie. With constant chases, explosions, and Shia Labeouf and Michelle Monahagn running from scene to scene, there is perhaps three minutes of film where they, or any of the other characters, are able to talk about solutions to the problems and issues of security. The film shows SO MUCH, as if a great story about security impacting people's life's can be made fantastic with action sequences and special effects. The problem is, in the course of all the special effects, the director and producers got so caught up in the chase drama that they forgot to settle down and tell a story.
Eagle Eye is a good movie. However, it is a little too over the top to be great.
The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)
Incredible Look-Alike Casting and Scenery....BUT
The Brady Bunch is an American icon to millions of viewers around the world that has entertained generations of families for almost forty years. Its testament to success was the traditional American values and family morals which Sherwood Schwartz and his crew work so diligently to preserve, and they certainly succeeded.
The Brady Bunch Movie has a stunningly realistic feel in both the casting, scripts, and story-lines. The actors' personalities and actions are jaw-droopingly close to the original series! You could tell that the producers of The Brady Bunch Movie payed close attention to many of the familiar story-lines and character situations.
Note that in order for the movie viewer to appreciate how brilliantly the characters and scenes look, you MUST be familiar with the series such as the problems with Cindy's tattling, Bobby upset for being a school Safety Monitor, Greg being chosen to represent the big singing star in rock and roll, Johnny Bravo, and, in a standout reenactment, Jan's anger and jealousy over constantly being compared to her sister Marcia.
The story centers on the Brady neighbors the Dittmeyer's involved in a scheme, where Mr. Dittmeyer as a greedy land developer wants to buy up all the properties on his block, forcing the Brady's to flee their suburban home because they have been unable to pay their $20,000 back fees in property taxes. When not reenacting a classic Brady moment, you have the movie characters trying to figure out what they can do to raise enough money to save their home. Classic Brady songs such as "Sunshine Day" and "Keep On" add to the "groovy" fun of the movie.
However, there are some crude sex-jokes innuendo that hurt the other redeeming qualities of the film, which were totally unnecessary and out of place. When this movie first came out, I read that the original script was very raunchy for a PG-13 rating. Sherwood Schwartz was rightly outraged and worked with the producers to clean up some of the content. Unfortunately, there are still some dialogs that would certainly NOT be appropriate for children under 13. Parents or guardians should supervise viewing of this movie for anyone under 13. Very young children, because of the sexual innuendo, should avoid this picture completely, and that is a sad comment to write when talking about what is supposed to be wholesome family entertainment like The Brady Bunch. Removing the sex-gag humor would have helped this movie a lot, making it the kind of family movie that Sherwood and his staff would have wanted. They may have cleaned up the original script, but not enough for younger viewers.
Love the movie for its casting mannerisms of the family, in addition to the great believability of the characters in playing the original Brady roles to near perfection. Great detail as well to the set designs of the original Brady house. However the PG-13 humor taints the movie's enjoyment.
For the greatest Brady Bunch moments of all time, it is best to stick with the original classic series.
Excellent Suspense Drama!
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (a.k.a Pelham 1-2-3) is a riveting suspense movie that builds on great acting, a fine script, and an amazing story line! Walter Matthau plays a lead Police Lieutenant assigned to stop a group of four men who have hijacked a New York City Subway train. Four hijackers, with characteristics that inspired Quentin Tarentino's Reservoir Dogs, demand a one million dollar ransom within a near impossible to reach time limit, threatening to kill one hostage on the train for each minute that the money is late.
An amazing music score captivates the viewer immediately. We are drawn into a character study of people representing diverse New York populations. However the real drama and tension of the movie is watching Walter Matthau and the hijacking leader Robert Shaw communicate and compromise about the hostages and the money in a race against time. Viewers of this film will actually feel as if they are part of this terrible and dramatic experience.
The one small spoiler that brings the movie down a bit is in negotiating with the hostages and trying to get the mayor's approval, he says, "This city doesn't have a million dollars." This is one statement that hurts the credibility of this fine film. Even in 1974, when this film was released, New York City had far more than a million dollars if these types of situations were to take place. Having the producers place a higher number for the ransom amount may have helped here.
There are other elements of the film that are very real. Authentic subway cars were used during filming, and many of the scenes have very dramatic shootouts in tunnels where you can't be sure who's dead and who has survived after the gunfire has stopped. It are little surprises around every corner that will keep you riveted to this movie till the end.
Speaking of the climax, the end of this picture may be one of the most brilliantly written scenes in cinema! Whatever you do, don't bother with the two remakes of this film. There is no way that either of them can hold a candle to this slick action flick!
Fuzz Can't Decide to Be Serious or Comical. Very Weak Movie
I was expecting a decent police drama out of the movie "Fuzz." With the talents of Burt Reynolds, Yul Brynner, and Raquel Welsh, viewers would anticipate a memorable picture. But considering the acting talent involved, the film is a near disaster with several plot-holes and mood changes in scenes and story lines that confuse, alienate, and annoy the viewer.
To the best that I can make out (as I was half-asleep waiting for anything to happen in this picture) Yul Brynner plays a deaf man who has orchestrated the assassination of several high ranking political officials and other selected targets. Bert Reynolds and Jack Weston are the cops who dress up as Nuns. ("NUNS?") to try to stop them, against a backdrop of a discombobulated police station and staff that makes Barney Fife look like an organized lawman! What a mess! There is absolutely no continuity to this film or plot development. You would think that some of the random shooting events would place an element of dramatic suspense, giving the viewers some reason to see this picture. However, in the next scene it's a comedy, than in the following scene it turns serious again. Fuzz is a perfect example of a movie that is only removed from being a 1, because I have given an extra point to the recognition of the actors, and another point for perhaps two good scenes that I liked in the whole movie. However, that's it. Fuzz in my judgment scores a VERY GENEROUS 3.
If the script would have stuck to ONE quality serious element, with concern about a strong issue from the cast, Fuzz could have been a passable police film. However, with too much going on at once, a weak and extremely confusing script, and a picture who's writers look like they crammed material from at least three different movies into this one, Fuzz is extremely fuzzy and never comes into focus.
The Hospital (1971)
Very Good, But Could Have Been a Classic
The Hospital is a movie that was made ahead of its time. This film, produced by screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky, who gave us the Oscar-Winning film, "Network", deals with overworked staff, gross incompetence, and bureaucratic corruption at a large conglomerate hospital in Manhattan. George C. Scott, in a superb performance as the head physician, is driven to alcoholism and a death-wish, as he tries to recover from a divorce, throwing his son out of the house, and worst of all, a medical facility where corruption and incompetence take precedence over caring and healing of the sick and injured.
Mr. Scott makes the movie his own, and viewers will be shocked at what they observe at this medical establishment. You can feel the "pain" (pun intended) of what this hospital has done to him. The vivid images of this hospital's incompetence are so vivid and dramatically powerful that you may find yourself laughing and being deeply disturbed from scene to scene.
If only the film had stayed with that premise in a documentary style fashion as it starts out, this picture would be brilliant. Unfortunately, there is a sub-plot of Scott falling for the daughter of a senile patient. The patient has been murdering people at the hospital. This is where credibility of the picture becomes strained. The romantic dialog scenes add nothing to the picture, and the mental patient, posing as a doctor, I found to be totally unbelievable. A simple security call and records check should have prevented the senile patient from doing the killings. It takes almost the whole movie, before security people are brought into the film to get the patient out of the hospital. I could not see ONE PERSON doing that much damage, even as corrupt as this hospital is.
Furthermore, George C Scott's character is "overworked" (another pun intended) because the script has too many things happening at once. For example, within a period of 20 minutes, you could have as many as 20 different doctors accused and denying what they should have done or didn't do. With the nurses and aids, it's the same story. Someone's chart was read wrong, someone was given the wrong medication and died, the doctor operated on the wrong patient, than another doctor does the same thing, blaming a third nurse who was not on call because the second nurse who was supposed to be admitting the patient was on her coffee break. There is also a lot of subtle, dark humor with the same messages of incompetence and corruption being fed to the viewer.
This repetition of medical ineptness is unforgettable. However, the murder subplot is a distraction more than a help to this movie. When the focus of this film is on the incompetence of the staff and Scott's reactions to this, you are glued to the screen. But the conversations between Scott and the mad patient's daughter force the film into a mystery type "Who Done it?" scenario that seriously hurts the quality of the movie. When the loony patient is revealing how he did the killings, I wondered the following: Why did the producers need the "find the killer" mad-patient sub-plot? I think the only point of Scott's character having a relationship with the senile patient's daughter, was to give him anybody with whom to communicate. The Hospital should have maintained its scathing indictment of the medical profession by removing the love-interest and mad patient scenes. It should have focused on the incompetent B.S within its walls more frequently. In an era where this movie could have been phenomenal, the sub-plot stories make the film very good instead of the great masterpiece it could have been.
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Thought Provoking Roller Coaster Through New York's Dark Side
Midnight Cowboy is a highly emotionally charged film that does an excellent job of drawing the viewer into the experiences of male hustler Joe Buck, and his side-kick thief con-man friend "Ratso" Rizzo. Both roles are superbly played by John Voight and Dustin Hoffman respectively.
Joe leaves his job at a Texas diner in search of adventures in the Big Apple. He longs for exciting adventure and looks to "score" with the ladies. Down on his luck, and seemingly unable to get ahead doing anything else, while in New York, Joe meets and befriends con-man Ratso Rizzo who tries to show him the ropes of the big city and how to assimilate to its culture and its people.
The movie takes the viewer through a series of rapid disorganized flashbacks for Joe that brilliantly display his confusion and isolation to New York City's always changing culture and people. Joe's mind flashbacks are often very dark, disturbing, and unpleasant. Some viewers may attempt to sort out these flashbacks, but should not try to do this. Midnight Cowboy uses these images to show how everything is happening in Joe's life so fast, that he has no time to slow down to reflect on what he sees and thinks.
However, when he learns about the seriousness of Ratso's illness, foreshadowed in the movie by his persistent cough that gets progressively worse, Joe realizes that he needs Ratso for a friend more than anything else that has previously happened in his life. He learns that friendship is not something that you just throw away. Before meeting Ratso Rizzo, Joe appeared to be only interested in sex and adventure, using this as a form of escape from his previous dish-washing job.
Ratso shows Joe the importance of compassion and humanity. Joe tries to help him overcome his compulsion for stealing. At the time of its initial release, back in 1969, Midnight Cowboy received an X-rating, due to its strong suggestive sexual undertones, references to homosexuality, (a HUGE discussion taboo in 1969) and it's disturbing flashback images. In 1971, upon re-release, the MPAA with no edits to the film, changed the rating to "R." Although I took into consideration the film's controversial nature in 1969, the film would probably pass for a very strong PG-13 or light R-rating today. However, I was not offended at the film. There might have been one or two flashback scenes that I could see as slightly problematic, but because they are so varied and disjointed in how Joe sees the world, the images may symbolize different things to different people. What I did see was an incredibly complex and involved character study interwoven with stunning cinematography that is as unique as the film itself.
My reasons for the score of an 8, instead of a 9 or 10 is that there are a few scenes that drag. But those faults are quickly forgotten, not only with the quality of the camera work, but the wonderful acting chemistry of Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman. They were born to play these memorable roles! The powerful music score, "Everybody's Talking," the haunting note sequence that plays at critical moments of the movie, and an unforgettable emotional ending prove that Midnight Cowboy has aged well! This is a very good movie!
The Burning (1981)
Average Summer Camp Slasher Flick., But Very Violent
The Burning has a strong resemblance to the Friday the 13th movies with a better than average music score, which builds on suspense with memorable heart-beat type music as something sinister is about to happen. A few extremely bloody sequences, particularly the notorious raft-massacre scene, had to have most of the gory close-up shots removed in theatrical release to avoid a "Not Rated" rating at the time, which would have been the equivalent of an X-rating back in the film's original 1981 release, due to excessive violence. Uncut versions of the film are now available on DVD. Several premium movie channels, showing the uncut version, give the film a TV-MA rating for Mature Audiences Only.
Even in censored prints, this film is NOT for the squeamish! Those with sensitive stomachs should avoid this picture. The story begins in a flashback sequence where a group of teen summer campers play a vicious prank on a mean caretaker named Cropsy by burning him alive. Cropsy survives the ordeal, leaving him horribly disfigured and hospitalized for five years. Cropsy is released from the hospital and hell-bent on murderous revenge.
His weapon of choice is shears. First he kills a prostitute in a rather graphic sequence, than he goes back to the neighboring campground to kill as many kids and some of the former kids who are now counselors at the camp. What follows is basically Friday the 13th, without as many scares and twice the gore when killings actually happen.
The problem with The Burning is that it takes a long, long, LONG, time for something to happen and in the interim, the viewer is left with the typical stereotyped teen-summer camp dialog that's been done hundreds of times before in previous "Teens go to summer camp" movies. The Burning could be a Friday the 13th clone, or the movie "Meatballs" with a vicious killer on the lose. There's nothing really original about the film.
However, a host of "before they were stars" make up the young campers and they do well with the strained material. You'll probably recognize Jason Alexander from Seinfeld and Brian Backer from Fast Times at Ridgemount High. The bullies torment the social outcasts, the campers and consolers talk about drinking and sex, and killer Cropsy lurks in the shadows, waiting for his next unsuspecting victim.
However, the gory raft scene is the only stand out sequence in this movie that is memorable. There is not enough originality in The Burning's plot development or characters to make the movie really good. In contrast, the movie still has some good chilling moments that prevent it from being bad.
This is an average film worth a one-look as a late night popcorn horror flick as long as you can handle the violence. The Raft Massacre scene is especially frightening and graphic. Because of this, no children under 15 should see this picture and any any adults sensitive to violence should avoid this film all together, even in edited prints.
Glass Trap (2005)
Predictable Cheesy Horror Fick. But Could Be Worse
There's nothing special or significant about Glass Trap that hasn't been done about a thousand times before in these types of B-grade Sci-Fi movies. A large metropolitan office building is gradually overcome by gigantic radioactive ants who trap the helpless maintenance workers and office staff. Things get really bizarre when a SWAT team is called in to blow up the over-sized bugs. The project seems to play out like a funny RAID bug-spray commercial from the 70's! However, the corny situations and stupid dialog make this movie mildly entertaining. I am a fan of B-grade movies that bring back 1950's-1960's low budget special effects. Glass Trap makes an honest effort at doing that. It's not a good film by any means, and certainly the talented Stella Stevens is completely wasted in this. You will recognize some actors such as C. Thomas Howell as the janitor, and Martin Kove as a law enforcement official. Howell, best known for his role in The Hitcher, and for Kove, playing the sadistic karate school instructor in The Karate Kid.
There is just enough amusement in Glass Trap to keep it from being a bomb. The pacing is faster than you might expect. One mild spoiler, is that I thought the photo shoot scenes were completely stupid and unnecessary. As another reviewer commented, it appears that these scenes were almost part of another movie, because they didn't fit at all! With the acting as bad as it is in this film, viewers might just want to cheer for the ants! Go into this film with the mindset of it being a B-grade horror flick and you'll find it an acceptable late late show movie. However, Glass Trap is certainly nothing more than that.
Blackboard Jungle (1955)
Gripping And Powerful Movie! Ahead of its Time!
Blackboard Jungle is an amazing movie! The superb "Rock Around The Clock" opening song sets the tone for a very special experience. Integrating the number-one song of the time relating to teen youth in a film about juvenile delinquents. The main setting is a school where violence takes precedence over learning.
The high school is more like a prison than an educational facility. Teachers and students appear to have given up, becoming apathetic. The administration is often powerless to control the students' behavior problems. A new English teacher, Mr. Dadier, masterfully played by Glen Ford, comes to the school with motivation to get through to his students by attempting to teach them the values of respect for themselves and each other, to instill in them the importance of hard work, while finding out for himself and from his students how difficult these goals are to achieve in a harsh urban environment.
Peer pressure assimilation is very powerful in this movie, and Mr. Dadier, when he feels he is finally reaching out to the students, they engage in another act of cruelty, unruly behavior, or disrespect. Blackboard Jungle represents how students and teachers today often have to deal with insurmountable odds to establish respect and maintain positive communication.
It is the incredible acting of Glen Ford, a young Sidney Poitier, and Vic Morrow, that will keep audiences spellbound whenever they are on the screen. There are superb moments of classroom tension and outside of school as well, which will make viewers feel the emotional impact of this movie. Even more amazing is how this 1955 classic film is able to address so many of the problems in our schools today. Obviously, the type and degree of violence is much worse in most schools today, compared to 1955. However, Blackboard Jungle delivers a long lasting message to never give up, even when forced to face the worst and most awful conditions imaginable as you work to fulfill your goals.
If you like uplifting movies such as Stand and Deliver and Lean on Me, you will immensely enjoy Blackboard Jungle. Highly recommended!
Dangerous Child (2001)
Ryan Merriman Gives Great Emotional Impact In This Story
Dangerous Child is a Made for TV-Movie that deals with the subject of domestic abuse. However, with the 100's of movies about child abuse, this well made drama focuses on what happens when the child is the abuser of the parent. The film is very well acted and directed. I was especially impressed with Ryan Merriman's acting.
Ryan's character Jack will keep you second guessing as to what he might do next, as his moods change from withdrawn to hostile, often in the blink of an eye. The coldness in his eyes and the anger that he feels towards his mother over small things that gradual build to where Mom because totally fearful of her son is both powerful and painful in viewing. This film leaves very little material sugar coated.
It even tries to establish the cause of why the son would become so violent? A strong subplot is that the Mother, excellently played by Delta Burke, still has conflicts with her ex-husband who has since remarried. In addition to this, Mom has a new boyfriend who seems to trigger most of her son, Jack's ranges. Therapy sessions, toward the end of the movie, seen from the perspective of both Mother and son, show that Mom herself was the pattern of domestic abuse from her ex-husband, and Jack's loneliness and resentment towards his Mother since their divorce, in addition to her boyfriend Frank may have triggered a lot of Jack's anger and outrage.
Jack seems to almost suffer from bi-polar disorder. In a disturbing scene where the family cat is injured. (Thankfully, the abuse of the cat is not shown on camera, but you can see Jack in a darkened room holding the cat, breaking into tears.) It seems that at this troubling moment in the film, Jack and his Mother, Sally, realize that the help he needs is so severe that he must be committed to a behavioral clinic for a minimum of six months.
The time goes by in flashbacks as the two come to grips with the pain they have caused each other. The reconciliation of the two of them back together playing the piano gives the film an upbeat ending, which seems to be the only downfall in this movie. It's a memorable ending, but it was almost certainly used as a needed prerequisite for this being a TV movie. The downfall in this movie is not the upbeat ending in itself, but for realism, it seems a bit too upbeat. A younger son is critically injured in the cross fire while Jack and Sally are having a fight and knocked unconscious. We do not really know what happens to him.
However, Ryan Merriman and Delta Burke are wonderful in this story. The fast-pace and quality presentation of very serious material keeps "Dangerous Child" from being just another "TV Movie of The Week." I highly recommend this film!
Marian Rose White (1982)
I remember this Movie! It Was Good!
Marion Rose White is a true story of a woman who is institutionalized after her father dies because of her Mother unwilling to care for her. She is placed in a mental facility with abusive staff who try to brainwash her. A caring nurse sees that Marion does not belong there and gives her an evaluation to show the hospital staff that she is of sound mind. But another abusive nurse sedates her, so Marion flunks her competency evaluation. The story deals with the harsh realities of Marion and the treatment of the patients at the home. Female patients, including Marion, were sterilized so they could not have children.
A very chilling moment is when the mean head-nurse (Nurse Hartman) throws Marion into a darkened cell for punishment. (I can't remember what she did) But there is a "crazy lady" who is prone to violence in the cell called "Black-Out" Nurse Hartman says, "Black-Out wake up. Wake up! I'm being nice to Marion but she isn't being very nice to me!" Than Marion is pushed into the cell and all you see is total darkness. Than you hear Black-Out say in a haunting voice, "Not Nice?" I remember this scared me really bad, not only for the way she said it, but also unknown for what Blackout would do to her. Marion eventually communicates with Black-Out in song, surprising the staff. Questions arise, was Black-Out really violent? Or was she labeled as such because she lashed out at the harsh environment where she was placed? The message in this movie is clear. This hospital is not a pleasant facility.
The sad parts of this movie are very painful to watch. It seems that many of the patients never had any types of positive reinforcement or loving communication to bring them in contact with the outside world or enhance their social skills. The one compassionate nurse, when her job is threatened, Marion shows great inner strength in defending her against the cruelty of the system, and there is plenty of it in this movie, including a troubling scene of the head doctor promising a special treat if Marion will come out of a closet. The "Special Treat" is a straitjacket.
I would like the IMDb administration to set up a message board for this movie because it left a very strong impression on me even though I have not seen it since its original 1982 airing. A good comparison to this film is the 1990 TV movie starring Fred Savage in a broken down nursing home, run by an abusive staff, called, "When You Remember Me?" Both movies are very good.
Solid acting and a good cast would make Marion Rose White worth seeing again. I recommend this film.
Chupacabra Terror (2005)
Considering The Low Budget Effects, Not A Bad Little Thriller!
There is really nothing new about this Sci-Fi horror movie. Basically, a creature known as a Chupacaba, which resembles a large lizard and ugly dog, is smuggled onto a cruise ship. Interestingly, this animal in real life has been debated as to its origins. Some say it is urban legend, some say it is an extremely rare mammal know as a carnivore that preys on warm blooded mammals. You decide what to believe.
This story is predictable. This Chupacaba is about five times normal size with a lust for human flesh. It escapes on the ship, putting crew and passengers in danger. A scientist specializing in Cryptozoology wants to trap the creature, but to keep it alive for research studies. Everyone else wants it dead.
The movie is very low-budget and has almost a cheesy MTV feel to it. There is plenty of violence and gore when the Chupacaba kills. However, what makes this movie bearable to watch is there is good suspense and momentum throughout most of the picture. Watch for the role of the ship's Captain. He is amazing good and professional in this movie, with a certain flair of sophistication that you would not expect from a B-grade movie such as this. His acting and the suspense on the ship maintained my interest.
The special effects are also better than expected. Chupacabra Terror, while no horror classic, has enough good elements for a once around Friday or Saturday night popcorn suspense movie when nothing else is worth seeing during the time it is showing. Under these conditions, give it a view. You will generally find it on either the Sci-Fi or Chiller channel.