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Real name: Joe Wawrzyniak
Hair: Rapidly receding, but what's still left is dirty blonde & often uncombed
Eyes: Piercing blue. Not exactly Meg Fosterish, but leaning in that striking direction
Favorite hat: Fedora, a man's hat
Favorite shirt: loud Hawaiian shirts, the uglier the better
Favorite pants: Khaki, usually rumpled
Date of birth: June 1st, 1972
Homestate: New Jersey, where both myself and the drive-in were born
Height: 6 feet, 4 inches, very tall
Weight: 215 pounds, really thin
Nicknames: The Woodman, The Woodster,
The Woodmeister, Awesome Anders
Mr. Wood, Woody A, Good Ol' WA, Woods,
Woody Baby (ladies only, please)
Persona: Film nerd and damn proud of it
Voice: Deep, oily, soothing pus ooze late night disc jockey tenor
Favorite song: "Una Paloma Blanca" 2005 remix by George Baker
Motto: "If you wanna be the s**t, you gotta know your s**t. Otherwise, you ain't s**t."
Religion: Godless heathen atheist and proud of it, too
I'm especially fond of horror and exploitation movies. I think the 70's was the best-ever decade for film. Watch a lot of cult movies and drive-in films; the sleazier and/or weirder they are, the more I dig 'em. Enjoy out of the mainstream independent films, rock pics, sci-fi end-of-the-world items and made-for-TV movies as well.
Just to stop my life from being too dull I have a little sideline hobby singing downhome Southern-fried country and western music. I'm the lead singer/songwriter in a funky band called Hillbilly Joe and the Jersey Bumpkins. We're a bunch of s**t-kickin', fiddle-pickin', banjo-pluckin' rowdy rednecks who love to spit, chew, screw and drink Mountain Dew (and I ain't talkin' 'bout the soda). We perform at truckstops, greasy spoons, swap meets, flea markets, seedy honkytonk dives, trailer parks, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and especially church social gatherings every Sunday afternoon. Songs we perform include such good, clean, wholesome family numbers as "Thank God I'm A Country *beep* "On the Floor Again," "I *beep* Your Sister and She's A Lousy Lay," and "The Wife Beating Song." The latter charming ditty I wrote in fifteen minutes at the tail end of a severe weekend whiskey bender. The lyrics are as follows:
I punch the dawg
I kick the cat
I beat the wife
With a bat
She called the cops
I'm in jail
Spendin' the night
Can't pay bail
While I'm here
I really hope
My hairy cellmate Bubba
Don't drop the soap
Now, isn't that a truly special song just ripe to bursting with wit, warmth, tasteful humor and a teeming surplus of poignant heartfelt humanity? Your darn totin' it sure is. Keep watching "American Idol" because I'm gonna be on it any day now.
I also act in hard-core porno films under the alias IGiveYouMyWood. Among the hard-core movies I've starred in are "Layin' the Ladies," "Stickin' It to Your Sister," "Lovin' My Cousin" (a Hillbilly Joe favorite), and the sentimental yuletide classic "Santa's Special Sausage." All these films and many more can be ordered from the following website: www.getmywood.com.
Moreover, I'm a shameless hack writer who does numerous film reviews and articles for such underground publications as "Vex," "Cult Movies" (my article on Bigfoot films was nominated for a Rondo Award in 2003, but alas I didn't win), "The Exploitation Journal," "Screem," and "Shock Cinema." I also write album reviews for a local Garden State rock zine called "Jersey Beat."
I average at one film comment a day on the IMDb and even write snappy little bios on such lesser known actors and actresses as Vic Diaz, Victor Israel, Joy Bang, Michael Ironside, Michelle Stacy, James Whitworth, Frances Raines, Roberta Collins, Rick Dean, Candice Rialson, Monica Gayle, Harley Cross, Bill Thurman, Michael Sopkiw, Nicholas Worth, Jennifer Ashley, Sondra Currie, Bruno VeSota, Sharon Kelly, Tim Thomerson, Tony Musante, Lina Romay, Pamela Franklin, Kelli Maroney, Jewel Shepard, Starr Andreeff, and Patty Shepard. I've also written bios for such directors as Richard Compton (R.I.P.), my good friend Keith Crocker, William Lustig, Jeff Lieberman, Jeff Burr, Fred Dekker, Kevin S. Tenney, Lewis Teague, Jack Arnold, Lee Frost, Don Edmonds, and Gary Sherman. In a pitiful attempt at displaying range and versatility, I've whipped up bios for longtime favorite singer/songwriters Kim Carnes, Carol Connors, Jackie DeShannon, John Prine, Joe South and Tony Joe White, country singers Dave Dudley and Eddie Rabbitt, blues singer/guitarist T-Model Ford, rock'n'roll guitarists Davie Allan and Link Wray, and crime novelist Charles Willeford. In fact, I have over 1,000 mini-bios posted all over the IMDb and am currently listed as #3 in the IMDb statistics top twenty list of writers on mini-bios. Plus I add pieces of trivia and quotes for folks all over the IMDb (one of the folks I've added several quotes for is none other than Fred Astaire!). Hell, I even add magazine interviews, pictorials and cover photos, too. And TV commercials, too. I'm not a prolific writer; I'm just a guy who writes a lot.
I would love to hear from film fans the world over. I hope you enjoy my writing and comments.
I own more DVDs than I care to list and have seen more movies than I would care to admit to. I average three or fours DVDs a week, so my collection gets bigger and bigger all the time. Before you ask, I store my DVDs in a very large basement. I also store the bodies of stray drifters I pick on the way home from work in my basement as well. Wait a minute; forget that last sentence. I actually eat as much of the bodies as I can (thus saving money on food so I can buy more DVDs) and burn what I can't eat in my incinerator (thus saving money on heating as well). When in Jersey be sure to stop by my house. I'd be glad to have you over for diner. However, you wouldn't be a guest in my house; you would be the main course instead. Cheers!
Joanna Pettet at her sexy best
Photographer David Faulkner (a solid and likeable performance by James Farentino) falls under the deadly seductive spell of a gorgeous and mysterious reclusive fashion model (a splendidly bewitching portrayal by the striking Joanna Pettet) who has "hungry" hypnotic eyes with the magical ability to sweep men right off their feet.
Director John Badham relates the engrossing story at a constant pace, ably crafts an intriguing enigmatic atmosphere, and provides a few nifty visual flourishes. Robert Malcom Young's smart script offers a neat variant on the vampire premise in the form of an energy-sucking supernatural being who feeds on such basic human weaknesses as lust, greed, and obsession. John Astin acquits himself well in a juicy supporting role as demanding client Munsch. But it's the perfectly cast Pettet who makes the strongest lasting impression with her spot-on winning combination of stunning beauty and exceptional poise as an extremely alluring and irresistible femme fatale par excellence.
Two excellent stories
"The Caterpillar" - Conniving weasel Steven Macy (well played to the slimy hilt by Laurence Harvey) decides to use an insect known as an earwig as a means of getting rid of his boss John Warwick (solid Tom Helmore) so he can have the man's wife Rhona (lovely Joanna Pettet) to himself. Director Jeannot Szwarc adroitly crafts a gloomy and rainy tropical atmosphere. Don Knight contributes a deliciously seedy turn as the sleazy and sinister Tommy Robinson. This dark and disturbing tale of obsession concludes on a memorably chilling note.
"Little Girl Lost" - Government agent Tom Burke (a fine performance by Ed Nelson) is assigned to reinforce the delusion that the deceased daughter of brilliant, but unstable scientist Professor Putman (a terrific and touching portrayal by William Windom) is still alive so that Putnam will finish with his experiments on nuclear weapons. A poignant and provocative story on loss and the ruthless extremes the government will resort to in order to stay in power with bang-up acting and a startling grim surprise ending.
Studious bookworm Randolph Carter (a sturdy and credible performance by Mark Kinsey Stephenson) investigates a series of strange murders at Miskatonic University. He discovers that said murders were committed by a savage and hideous half-woman, half-demon monster (Penthouse Pet Julie Strain in a gnarly outfit). The beast seeks to be rejoined with its human half Alyda Winthrop (a sweet and touching portrayal by the ravishing Maria Ford) so it can be complete again.
Writer/director Jean-Paul Oullette keeps the absorbing and entertaining story moving along at a constant pace, ably crafts a creepy atmosphere, treats the premise with admirable seriousness, and delivers several neat moments of graphic gore. The capable acting by the tip-top cast keeps this movie humming: John Rhys-Davies brings a winning blend of energy and conviction to his role as the hearty Professor Warren, Charles Klausmeyer lends amusing support as the wishy-washy Eliot Damon Howard, and Ford projects both a certain endearing fragile naivete and a sizzling feline sensuality as a wide-eyed innocent damsel in distress (the fact that the delectable Mrs. Ford spends a substantial amount of her screen time cavorting about in her birthday suit certainly doesn't hurt matters in the least). Alas, David Warner is wasted in a nothing minor part as the stern Chancellor Thayer. The creature is much more ferocious and frightening than in the previous film. Both David Bergeaud's stirring shuddery score and the glossy cinematography by Greg Gardiner and Roger Olkowski are up to par. A worthy follow-up.
Two superior stories
"The Sins of the Fathers" - Scared and starving young Ian (a fine performance by Richard Thomas) out of grim necessity resorts to pigging out on a rich array of food in order to consume the sins of a deceased man in feminine-plagued medieval Wales. Director Jeannot Szwarc expertly crafts a potent gloomy atmosphere along with a strong sense of raw desperation. This grim story further benefits from uniformly terrific acting from a topflight cast, with especially stand-out contributions by Geraldine Page as Ian's manipulative mother, Michael Dunn as an antsy servant, and Barbara Steele as a hard-nosed widow. The surprise bleak ending packs a devastating wallop.
"You Can't Get Help Like That Anymore" - Sadistic couple the Fultons have a notorious reputation for destroying their robot servants. They meet their match in the form of a new android maid (the gorgeous Lana Wood in a nicely understated portrayal) who's programmed for survival. Cloris Leachman and Broderick Crawford are marvelously horrible as simply awful rich slime while Severn Darden as fed-up scientist Dr. Kessler and Henry Jones as amiable salesman Malcolm Hample do well in supporting roles. This tale makes a chilling point about the potential peril to be found in making machines that are a bit too human for comfort.
The Unnamable (1988)
Nifty creature feature
A group of college students decide to check out a reportedly haunted house that turns out to have a hideous and ferocious female beast (an impressively expressive portrayal by Katrin Alexandre) locked up in a vault in the attic.
Writer/director Jean-Paul Oullette relates the enjoyable and engrossing story at a steady pace, takes time to develop the characters, crafts a fun ooga booga atmosphere, and delivers several nice moments of graphic gore. The acceptable acting by the competent cast helps a lot: Mark Kinsey Stephenson makes for an engagingly laidback and eccentric hero as nerdy bookworm Randolph Carter, Charles Klausmeyer likewise registers well as earnest freshman Howard Damon, Alexandra Durrell contributes an appealing turn as sweet foreign exchange student Tanya Heller, and Laura Albert brings a winning blend of sass and spark to her role as the brash Wendy Barnes. The monster manages to be both grotesque and pitiable. As a yummy plus, the delicious Mrs. Albert bares her beautifully bountiful breasts. David Bergeaud's spirited shivery score hits the shuddery spot. Tom Fraser's slick cinematography provides a pleasing polished look. An entertaining little fright flick.
Two nifty stories of the black arts
"I'll Never Leave You - Ever" - Passionate adulteress Moira (superbly played by Lois Nettleton) uses witchcraft to get rid of her sickly husband Owen (the aways excellent Royal Dano). Director Daniel Haller adroitly crafts a potently brooding gloom-doom mood and makes the most out of the fog-shrouded main set. John Saxon lends sturdy support as Moira's lover Ianto while Peggy Webster is memorably grotesque as a hideous old crone. The strong downbeat ending packs a jolting punch.
"There Ain't Any More MacBanes" - Freeloading perpetual college student Andrew MacBane (a fine performance by Joel Grey) summons up a demon to take care of his wealthy uncle Arthur Porter (Howard Duff in top huffy form) after Porter threatens to cut off Andrew's trust fund. Compact and compelling tale boasts a genuinely scary growling red-eyed monster along with a satisfying harsh comeuppance for deadbeat rotter Andrew. Look fast for Mark Hamill in a small role as a messenger.
A trio of enjoyable stories
"Deliveries in the Rear" - Ruthlessly ambitious anatomy teacher John Fletcher (well played by Cornel Wilde) enlists the help of two unsavory grave robbers to procure dead bodies for him. Director Jeff Corey ably crafts a supremely gloomy fog-shrouded atmosphere. This potent story delivers a strong moral point about the bitter price one must pay for eschewing morals in favor of science with a real doozy of a surprise grim ending.
"Stop Killing Me" - Batty Frances Turchin (a lively performance by Geraldine Page) goes to the police to report her husband for attempted murder. This rather slight, but still amusing segment benefits from Page's dynamic histrionics as well as sturdy supporting work from James Gregory as an incredulous desk sergeant.
"Dead Weight" - Desperate bank robber Landau (singer Bobby Darin in fine antsy form) seeks the assistance of exporter O. Bullivant (a hearty and winning portrayal by Jack Albertson) to leave the country pronto. Witty comic tale boasts energetic acting from the two leads and a blackly funny punchline.
Two on the money stories
"The Waiting Room" - Boastful and arrogant gunslinger Sam Dichter (an excellent performance by Steve Forrest) finds himself in some kind of hellish purgatory with several fellow gun fighters. Director Jeannot Szwarc adroitly crafts an intriguing eerie and enigmatic atmosphere. Rod Serling's sinewy script makes a powerful and provocative point on how those who live by the gun are doomed and destined to die by same. This segment further benefits from the uniformly ace acting from a tip-top cast, with especially stand-out work from Albert Salmi as the surly Joe Bristol, Jim Davis as the regretful Abe Bennett, Gilbert Roland as a laconic bartender, and, most surprisingly, Buddy Ebsen as a wise old doctor who's resigned to his miserable fate.
"Last Rites for a Dead Druid" - Bruce Tarraday (a fine portrayal by Bill Bixby) finds himself falling under the evil influence of a statue of a druid sorcerer that was impulsively purchased by his wife Jenny (nicely played by Carol Lynley). Szwarc once again does a sound job of creating a creepy and unsettling mood. Moreover, it's fun to watch uptight skeptic Tarraday succumb to the wicked spell of a maleficent supernatural force. Nifty bummer ending, too.
Sushi Girl: A Documentary (2013)
Fascinating behind the scenes documentary
This hour long documentary on the making of the low-budget indie film "Sushi Girl" astutely captures the incredibly frantic stress and pressure intrinsic to shooting a movie on a super tight budget and schedule in which a little thing like a helicopter flying overhead can briefly bring production to a grinding halt. Moreover, it's a real treat to see such consummate pro veteran actors as Tony Todd and Mark Hamill strut their stuff in front of the camera. Better still, this documentary thankfully keeps the usual talking heads format to a refreshing minimum to focus instead on the basic logistics of making a movie. One really gets a strong sense of all the sweat, blood, and hard work that goes into bringing a motion picture into being from watching this documentary. Recommended viewing for fans of the film.
La seduzione (1973)
Nicely done Italian erotic melodrama
Playboy Giuseppe (smoothly played by Maurice Ronet) reunites with his old flame Caterina (an excellent and affecting portrayal by Lisa Gastoni) and starts a new romance with her. Complications ensue when Giuseppe falls under the seductive spell of Caterina's innocent, yet enticing fifteen-year-old daughter Graziella (a solid and credible performance by the yummy Jenny Tamburi).
Director/co-writer Fernando Di Leo relates the engrossing story at a steady pace, handles the racy premise in a frank and honest, but still thoughtful and tasteful manner, generates plenty of erotic tension, astutely captures the precarious nature of middle-aged romantic relationships as well as the pain, shame, and anger Caterina feels after she finds out about Giuseppe's affair with Grazeilla, and concludes things on a startling brutal note with Giuseppe receiving a satisfying harsh comeuppance for his lascivious and insensitive philandering ways. The three leads all do commendable work, with sturdy support from Pino Caruso as Giuseppe's happy-go-lucky buddy Alfredo and Graziella Galvani as the saucy Luisa. Kudos are also in order for Franco Villa's handsome cinematography and Luis Bacalov's jaunty percussive score. Well worth a watch.
Alien Zone (1978)
Nifty horror anthology
Adulterer Talmudge (a nicely smarmy portrayal by John Ericson) seeks shelter from the rain at a funeral home. The mortician (a pleasingly sinister performance by Ivor Francis) who runs the place relates four stories on how a quartet of people wound up as clients at the funeral home.
First yarn - Spiteful child-hating school teacher Miss Sibiler (ably played to the snarky hilt by Judith Novgrod) receives an unexpected late night visit from a bunch of kids wearing creepy masks. This tight and tense segment concludes on a truly unsettling note.
Second vignette - A happy-go-lucky misogynistic psycho films himself murdering various women. This is the weakest of the four stories because it doesn't amount to much. Fortunately, it's still watchable thanks to the infectious aplomb that Burr DeBenning brings to his merry wacko role.
Third tale - Two ace detectives compete with each other to be the world's leading criminologist. A cleverly written little delight that's given further spark and impact by the zestful acting from Bernard Fox and Charles Aidman as the radically contrasting rival sleuths. Extras points for the cool double twist ending.
Fourth segment - Arrogant and insensitive jerk Cantwell (a spot-on obnoxious turn by Richard Gates) finds himself being tormented in an empty derelict building by an unseen persecutor. It's a real pleasure to see this despicable SOB get put through the wringer as he gradually learns a painful lesson in humility and humanity.
Director Sharron Miller maintains a steady pace and adroitly crafts an appropriately spooky atmosphere in the wraparound segment that reaches a highly satisfying harsh conclusion with Talmudge paying a bitter price for his infidelity. Stan Worth's shivery score and Ken Gilb's fairly polished cinematography are both up to par. Better still, all the stories make interesting points on basic human flaws and frailties. An unjustly obscure sleeper that's well worth rediscovering.
Sushi Girl (2012)
Brutal crime thriller
Fish (a solid and sympathetic performance by Noah Hathaway) gets released from prison after serving a six year sentence. Fish finds himself invited to a special welcome home party hosted by fearsome crime boss Duke (smoothly played with quiet menace by Tony Todd). Moreover, several other criminal cohorts also attend said bash who were all involved in a diamond heist that went awry. Naturally, things soon get pretty tense and nasty.
Director Kern Saxton, who also co-wrote the compact and hard-hitting script with Destin Pfaff, relates the tricky and engrossing story at a steady pace, builds a considerable amount of gut-wrenching suspense, maintains a harsh gritty tone throughout, further spices things up with amusing touches of pitch-black humor, offers a colorful array of scuzzy low-life characters, explores the themes of greed, betrayal, and lack of honor amongst thieves in a stark and unflinching manner, and throws in a doozy of a tasty surprise twist at the end.
Moreover, it's acted with zest by an able cast of familiar faces, with especially stand-out contributions from Mark Hamill as effeminate, yet slimy and sadistic toad Crow, James Duval as antsy junkie wimp Francis, and Andy Mackenzie as savage thug Max. Popping up in nifty bit roles are Sonny Chiba, Michael Biehn, Danny Trejo, and Jeff Fahey. As a yummy extra plus, the delectable Cortney Palm spends the bulk of her screen time lying naked on a table covered with raw fish. The startling outbursts of ferocious violence pack a fierce punch. Aaron Meister's fluid and sumptuous widescreen cinematography provides a pleasing polished look. An on the money winner.
Two worthy stories
"The Miracle at Camafeo" - Con artist Joe Melcor (smoothly played by Ray Danton) fakes paralysis so he can collect half a million dollars. Melcor decides to go to a legendary shrine in Mexico in order to be "healed," but things don't go exactly as planned. Director Ralph Senefsky presents a flavorsome south of the border atmosphere and relates the absorbing story at a steady pace. This segment further benefits from sharp acting by Harry Guardino as a shrewd insurance investigator and Julia Adams as Melcor's loyal, but guilt-ridden wife. Melcor receives a highly fitting and ironic harsh comeuppance at the end.
"The Ghost of Sorworth Place" - American tourist Ralph Burke (a sound and likeable performance by Richard Kiley) falls for Scottish widow Ann Loring (a bewitching portrayal by the lovely Jill Ireland) who claims her house is haunted by the ghost of her late husband. Nifty ghost story boasts an intriguing enigmatic mood, a rousing climax, and a cool twist at the very end.
Three solid stories
"Lindemann's Catch" - Bitter fisherman Captain Hendrick Lindemann (a superbly crusty portrayal by Stuart Whitman) falls in love with a mermaid (lovely Annabelle Garth) after he catches her in his net. Director Jeff Corey ably crafts a brooding gloomy mood for this harsh parable on mankind's cruel and greedy nature. The dandy grim and tragic ending packs a potent punch.
"A Feast of Blood" - Homely and desperate suitor Henry Mallory (Norman Lloyd in peak deliciously slimy form) gives a creepy brooch as a gift to the beautiful Sheila Grey (a nicely haughty turn by Sondra Locke) that appears to be alive. This nasty tale boasts two memorably grotesque characters and a pretty unsettling climax.
"The Late Mr. Peddington" - Destitute widow Cora Peddington (an excellent and energetic performance by Kim Hunter) shops around for a cheap funeral for her deceased husband. Harry Morgan lends sturdy support as drunken mortician Thaddeus Conway while Randy Quaid has a small role as an embalmer. Acted with tremendous gusto by Hunter, this wickedly funny segment further benefits from a priceless last shot.
A trio of solid stories
"Green Fingers" - Greedy and ruthless land developer Mike Saunders (Cameron Mitchell in fine hateful and arrogant form) decides to use brutal drastic measures in order to get stubborn widow Lydia Bowen (marvelously played by Elsa Lanchester) to leave her home. Acted with tremendous zest by both leads (Lanchester in particular is a quirky delight throughout), this segment offers a cool supernatural twist along with a satisfyingly harsh, if nonviolent comeuppance for Saunders.
"The Funeral" - Mortician Morton Silkline (an excellent performance by Joe Flynn) arranges a late funeral for oddball client Ludwig Asper (a nicely sinister portrayal by Werner Klemper). Amusing comic vignette that's highlighted by a wake attended by various monsters which goes hilariously awry.
"The Tune in Dan's Café" - A bickering couple stop off at a remote diner that has a jukebox in it that keeps playing the same sad song over and over again. Pernell Roberts and Susan Oliver are sound and credible as the couple whose marriage is on the rocks who get a last minute chance at salvaging said floundering marriage due to the tragic story pertaining to the song on the jukebox. This touching tale further benefits from the striking presence of beautiful redhead Brooke Mills.
Two superior stories
"The Messiah on Mott Street" - Sweet little boy Mikey Goldman (likeable Ricky Powell) searches for the messiah on Christmas Eve to comfort his ailing grandfather Abraham (an excellent and affecting performance by Edward G. Robinson). Director Don Taylor expertly crafts a gentle and thoughtful poignant tone as well as makes tender use of the yuletide setting. Moreover, this segment further benefits from terrific acting from Tony Roberts as concerned physician Dr. Morris Levene and especially Yaphet Kotto as compassionate stranger Buckner. The scenes between Mikey and Abraham are quite touching while the upbeat conclusion is truly heartwarming. A lovely tale.
"The Painted Mirror" - Mild-mannered thrift store owner Frank Standish (an amiable portrayal by Arthur O'Connell) discovers an alien landscape inside of a mirror that he uses as a means of getting rid of his mean and annoying new business partner Mrs. Moore (well played to the irritating hilt by Zsa Zsa Gabor). This story boasts a surprisingly capable turn by Gabor as one of those quintessential obnoxious characters the viewer loves to hate along with a hugely satisfying nasty comeuppance for said disagreeable character.
Nifty assortment of stories
"The Different Ones" - Concerned father Paul Koch (a fine performance by Dana Andrews) agrees to a unique solution that might help his ugly son Victor (a sympathetic portrayal by Jon Korkes) find happiness and acceptance on another planet. This rehash of the classic Twilight Zone episode "The Eye of the Beholder" offers a touching exploration of a father's love for his son and ends on a rare upbeat, if still ironic note.
"Tell David" - Ann Bolt (nicely played by Sandra Dee) somehow finds herself catapulted twenty years into the future in which she meets her now grown up son David (a solid turn by Jared Martin), who warns Ann that she's going to kill her husband on his fourth birthday. The intriguing premise makes a provocative point on how a person can't escape fate and destiny.
"Logoda's Heads" - Witch doctor Logoda (fearsome Brock Peters) is accused of murdering an explorer. Predictable voodoo revenge tale has few surprises, but at least still has a fun ooga-booga atmosphere along with sound acting by Patrick Macnee and Tim Matheson as the guys who are determined to find out the truth about the death of their colleague.
Mountain Family Robinson (1979)
Another solid entry in this wholesome series
The Robinson family are threatened with eviction from their forest paradise by the federal government unless they can prove that the land they reside on has valuable minerals on it that can be mined on a regular basis.
Director Jack Couffer relates the enjoyable story at a steady pace and maintains a pleasant tone throughout. Moreover, once again we get the usual assortment of adorably friendly animals along with a few nasty ones. The attractive and appealing cast helps a lot: Robert Logan as rugged dad Skip, Susan Damante as feisty, but fed-up mom Pat, Heather Rattray as spunky teen daughter Jenny, Ham Larsen as sweet son Toby, and George "Buck" Flower as crotchety mountain man Boomer. James W. Roberson's bright and pretty cinematography offers lots of breathtaking shots of the beautiful sylvan scenery. Robert O. Ragland's harmonic score and several cornball songs with sappy lyrics by Carol Connors both hit the tuneful spot. A nice diversion.
As Above, So Below (2014)
Frightening descent into the abyss
A group of explorers decide to investigate a series of catacombs underneath the city of Paris, France in search of treasure. However, their journey underground becomes a hellish ordeal when they are forced to face their personal demons.
Director John Erick Dowdle, who also co-wrote the compact script with Drew Dowdle, takes time to develop the characters, relates the compelling story at a steady pace, and adroitly milks plenty of claustrophobic tension and spooky gloom-doom atmosphere from the creepy actual catacombs location. Moreover, this film acquires considerable unsettling power not only from the way it slowly, but surely becomes more bleak, brutal, and nightmarish as the plot unfolds, but also from the inspired and effective use of eerie ambient noise. The sound acting from the capable cast rates as another substantial asset, with especially praiseworthy contributions from Perdita Weeks as the eager Scarlett, Ben Feldman as reluctant translator George, Francois Civil as brash guide Papillon, Edwin Hodge as surly cameraman Benji, and Ali Marhyar as the easygoing Zed. Leo Hinstin's hand-held cinematography gives this picture a raw and bracing sense of intimacy and immediacy. A genuinely harrowing film.
Two spot-on stories
"Cool Air" - Dr. Juan Munos (a sturdy and sympathetic portrayal by Henry Darrow) suffers from a rare disease that forces him to live in isolation in a refrigerated apartment. Complications ensue when Manos falls in love with Agatha Howard (a fine and appealing performance by Barbara Rush). Director Jeannot Szwarc ably crafts a haunting melancholy mood. Beatrice Kay lends amusing support as cranky landlady Mrs. Gibbons. This excellent adaptation of a touching and tragic H.P. Lovecraft story packs a strong emotional punch.
"Camera Obscura" - Pernicious miser William Sharsted (well played to the detestable hilt by Rene Auberjonois) finds himself trapped in a nightmarish alternate dimension by eccentric inventor Mr. Gingold (a pleasingly quirky turn by Ross Martin). Director John Badham presents a flavorsome period atmosphere and milks the hellish other world for maximum creepiness. Moreover, it's a pleasure to watch the hateful Sharsted get his just nasty desserts.
"Quoth the Raven" - Still yet another dopey comic short with a lame punchline.
Two good stories and one fizzler
"Pickman's Model" - Reclusive art teacher and renowned painter Richard Upton Pickman (an excellent performance by Bradford Dillman) tries to stop smitten student Mavis Goldsmith (an appealing portrayal by Louise Sorel) from finding out where he lives. Director Jack Laird presents a flavorsome period setting as well as ably crafts a spooky mood. This H.P. Lovecraft adaptation further benefits from a cool'n'creepy monster and a rousing climax.
"The Dear Departed" - A trio of con artists run a phony séance racket that runs aground when medium Mark Bennett (smoothly played by Steve Lawrence) gets involved with his assistant Joe's (likeable Harvey Lembeck) fed-up wife Angela Casey (the fetching and funny Maureen Arthur). This particular tale boasts an amiable lighthearted tone and concludes on an amusing ironic note.
"An Act of Chivalry" - Yet another cornball comic short with a silly punchline.
Two worthy stories
"The Dark Boy" - New school teacher Judith Timm (a fine and appealing performance by Elizabeth Hoffman) befriends the ghost of deceased fourth grader Joel Robb (an effective mute portrayal by Michael Laird). Director John Astin ably crafts a strong rural atmosphere along with a flavorsome evocation of the 19th century period setting. This tale further benefits from sturdy acting by Michael Baseleon as hard-nosed farmer Tom and Gale Sondergaard as strict school board member Abigail Moore. The climax makes a poignant point about the basic human need for closure and companionship.
"Keep In Touch - We'll Think of Something" - Musician Erik Sutton (well played by Alex Cord) enlists the assistance of the police to find the beautiful Claire Foster (the stunningly gorgeous Joanna Pettet), who's been haunting Sutton's dreams. This interesting exploration of obsession boasts a chilling twist ending and makes the most out of Pettet's striking beauty.
An interesting and illuminating retrospective documentary
This 44-minute retrospective documentary covers a lot of informative ground on the making of Francois Truffaut's "Fahrenheit 451." Truffaut initially wanted to make the film in French and was persuaded by Universal to do the movie in color instead of black and white in order to broaden its appeal. Jane Fonda and Jean Seberg were both considered for a role that ultimately went to Julie Christie. Moreover, Truffaut disagreed with his frequent star Oskar Werner on Werner's stoic portrayal of the lead character, which ultimately led to Werner purposefully cutting his hair towards the end of the shoot in order to create continuity issues. Author Ray Bradbury was disappointed that the mechanical hound in the book was not featured in the movie, but considers the film's ending to be beautiful. Editor Thom Noble talks about having to use jump cuts in order to make the pages of a book open smoothly. Truffaut expert Annette Insdorf discusses the picture's various themes in compelling detail. Filled with choice clips and behind-the-scenes photos, this is well worth a watch for fans of the film.
The Robinson family face further perils in the form of a fierce blizzard, an avalanche, and an especially ferocious pack of wolves led by the fearsome Scarface. In between these harrowing situations the Robinsons relish the simple pleasures of living in the woods as well as happily celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas together.
Director Frank Zuniga keeps the enjoyable and eventful story moving along at a steady pace as well as maintains a pleasant tone throughout. Of course, we get the usual assortment of adorable animals along with a few nasty ones. The appealing and attractive cast help a lot: Robert Logan as rugged dad Skip, Susan Damante as fretful mom Pat, Heather Rattray as spunky teen daughter Jenny, and Ham Larson as sweet son Toby. Moreover, the always welcome George "Buck" Flower lends lively support as scruffy and crotchety mountain man Boomer, who becomes an adopted member of the family. Barry Williams of "The Brady Bunch" fame warbles a few delightfully corny songs on the soundtrack. John Hora's lovely and sunny cinematography offers plenty of breathtaking footage of the gorgeous sylvan scenery. A worthy follow-up.
Night Gallery: House - With Ghost/A Midnight Visit to the Neighborhood Blood Bank/Dr. Stringfellow's Rejuvenator/Hell's Bells (1971)
Pretty solid assortment of stories
"House - With a Ghost" - Smooth heel adulterer Ellis Travers (Bob Crane in fine smarmy form) takes his frail wife Iris (nicely played by Jo Anne Worley) to a haunted house so he can get rid of her. This vignette boasts a witty twist ending as well as a delightful turn by Bernard Fox as a ghost with his own self-serving agenda.
"A Midnight Visit to the Neighborhood Blood Bank" - A vampire (Victor Buono, who's given precious little to do) gets repelled by a young gal with a good excuse. Very slight and silly comic short with a lame punchline.
"Dr. Stringfellow's Rejuvenator" - Charlatan medicine man Dr. Ernest Stringfellow (a wonderfully robust portrayal by Forrest Tucker) sells a fake healing potion in the Old West. Definitely the strongest story of this particular bunch, this yarn benefits from its potent brooding gloom-doom mood, a flavorsome 19th century period atmosphere, typically sharp writing by Rod Serling, excellent acting from Murray Hamilton as bitter drunk Snyder and Don Pedro Colley as Stringfellow's doltish assistant Rolpho, and a satisfyingly nasty climatic comeuppance for shameless posturing phony Stringfellow.
"Hell's Bells" - Obnoxious hippie Randy (a funny and lively performance by John Astin) finds himself trapped in a highly unusual, yet still fitting type of hell. Veteran old guy character actor Hank Worden lends amusing support as a senile elderly fellow. The clever story puts a neat spin on the concept of hell not being exactly what you expect it to be, with hell proving to be a total square bummer for poor Randy.