Friday, August 18, 2017

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Writer: Robert Rodriguez

Composer: Robert Rodriguez

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke, Eva Mendes, Danny Trejo, Enrique Iglesias, Marco Leonardi, Cheech Marin, Ruben Blades, Willem Dafoe, Gerardo Vigil, Pedro Armendariz Jr.

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Time Has Come.

Plot: Hitman "El Mariachi" becomes involved in international espionage involving a psychotic CIA agent and a corrupt Mexican general.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

For anyone who didn't see EL MARIACHI (1992) or DESPERADO (1995), OUaTiM starts out with a little introduction to bring you up to speed on who El Mariachi is even though there's little to do with the first two films.  It doesn't matter anyway because the story is told by Cheech Marin to Johnny Depp and it's great.  What follows is an action thrill ride with lots of laughs and adventure.  This might be my favorite of the three because of the cast alone.  Hell, I'd recommend seeing it just to see Mickey Rourke walk around with a chihuahua in his arms.

The Columbia DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen.  The extras you get are six featurettes, a commentary track with Rodriguez, another one about the music and sound design, eight deleted scenes with optional director commentary and eleven trailers (including the one for this picture).

The Rebel (1961)

AKA: Call Me Genius

Director: Robert Day

Writers: Ray Galton, Tony Hancock, Alan Simpson

Composer: Frank Cordell

Starring: Tony Hancock, George Sanders, Paul Massie, Margit Saad, Gregoire Aslan, Dennis Price, Irene Handl, John Le Mesurier, Liz Fraser, Mervyn Johns, Peter Bull, Nanette Newman

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Watch Out Picasso... Here Comes Tony Hancock!

Plot: Anthony Hancock gives up his office job to become an abstract artist. He has a lot of enthusiasm, but little talent, and critics scorn his work. Nevertheless, he impresses an emerging very talented artist.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

Tony Hancock makes this amusing picture work.  The last ten minutes are hilarious and I really dug the turns it took.  It's a cute film with a few good laughs but it really is Hancock that sells it with everything he's got.  The bit where he's posing for magazine cover photos was hilarious.  I can't believe that I didn't notice Oliver Reed as a French artist in a heated discussion at the cafe.  Going back after the movie it was obvious but he had facial hair and a French accent.  It's kind of nice seeing George Sanders playing someone other than a cad, kind of because I really enjoy seeing him play a witty bastard.  What a great voice that cat had.  When I first saw Hancock I instantly thought of how striking his resemblance was to Alfred Molina only to find out that Molina played Hancock in a TV biopic.  The cast does a fine job and I was surprised to see that Paul Massie did very little film work.  He was good.  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Cemetery (2013)

Director: Adam Ahlbrandt

Writer: Adam Ahlbrandt

Composer: Cleric

Starring: J.D. Brown, Natalie Jean, Adam Huss, Tim Cronin, Tabetha Ray, Halfbreed Billy Gram, Roberto Lombardi, Ruby Larocca, Victor Bonacore

More info: IMDb

Plot: Deep in the Pennsylvania hills, a cemetery for those who died during exorcism remains a dark secret for the church. In 1671, hundreds of men, women, and children suffered in bloody, torturous rituals at the hands of priests unable to contain the evil of the possessed. Were these possessions real, or is the story a hoax to cover up the sins of the deranged priests thirsty for human blood? Bill and his team of cynical paranormal investigators plan to find out the truth…..will they leave the cemetery alive?

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

When it comes to horror movies set in the woods, I'm there no matter how bad it looks.  I love camping so there you go.  Maybe that explains it.  I look at low budget pictures like this a little differently.  Sometimes it's more about what you do with so little.  If the acting is better than average, I'm impressed.  The same goes for a lot of things.  I can't stand low budget pictures where the camera doesn't move and you don't get any variety of shots.  This one has the camera movie frequently and with a variety of angles.  The actors do a decent enough job and when you combine that with a good location (it's almost entirely filmed in the woods) and an often effective score, it's actually pretty good.  The story works well enough but this is really just an excuse to kill some fuckers in the woods and there are some good kills and gore.  And there's some great nudity.  The Massacre Video 2-disc DVD set features the movie in anamorphic widescreen.  The second disc has most of the extras (the commentary track is with the movie).  You get a two hour and twenty minute making of documentary, a short film called 'M is for Memoirs', a teaser for THE SADIST and four trailers, one of which is for this flick.

The Sword of El Cid (1962)

Original title: La Spada del Cid

Director: Migeul Iglesias

Writers: Ferdinando Baldi, Antonio Navarro Linares, Alfredo Giannetti

Composer: Carlo Savina

Starring: Chantel Deberg, Roland Carey, Sandro Moretti, Daniela Bianchi, Andrea Fantasia, Jose Luis Pellicena, Andres Mejuto, Luis Induni, Fernando Cebrian, Daniel Martin, Felix de Pomes, Frank Oliveras, Eliana Grimaldi

More info: IMDb

Plot: Bernardo (Carey) must take back what is rightfully his, the kingdom that belonged to his long dead father.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nah.

This Italian/Spanish co-production sure does have a lot of action.  It's also got great costumes, sets, locations, castles (goody gumdrops for real castles) and music.  The English dub is well done, too.  Despite all of this, it does drag every once in a while and it probably overstays its welcome.  I think I would have enjoyed this more if I saw it in a theater with some Coke & corn.  There is small romance between our hero, Bernardo, and some woman who's name I've forgotten, but it stays small in the guise of the film.  There's a lot of swordplay, as you would expect from the title, and it's pretty good but you do see some clunky moves from time to time.  This picture looks like it had a good sized budget (for an Italian B-picture) and it is an admiral attempt to piggyback on the previous year's Hollywood spectacle, EL CID (1961).  I like giving these vintage European epics a chance.  I'm not looking for historical accuracy.  I'm just looking to be entertained and this one did a good job of it.  Recommended.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Horse Soldiers (1959)

Director: John Ford

Writers: John Lee Mahin, Martin Rackin, Harold Sinclair

Composer: David Buttolph

Starring: John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers, Judson Pratt, Hoot Gibson, Ken Curtis, Willis Bouchey, Bing Russell, O.Z. Whitehead, Hank Worden, Chuck Hayward, Denver Pyle, Strother Martin

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  ...Rides Where Only The Great Ones Go!

Plot: A Union Cavalry outfit is sent behind Confederate lines in strength to destroy a rail/supply center. Along with them is sent a doctor who causes instant antipathy between him and the commander. The secret plan for the mission is overheard by a southern belle who must be taken along to assure her silence. The Union officers each have different reasons for wanting to be on the mission.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

I don't me weird but I'd like more Civil War action and less of the romance stuff in this picture.  I liked it.  Hell, I'd probably even love it if I got to see it on the big screen with big ole box of corn and a tall glass of Coke.  While I'm in my fantasy I'll go ahead and add hot wings and fried shrimp to that list.  The older I get the more I like John Wayne.  He's not far off from being a one note performer but he does it so well it's hard not to respect him for it.  Holden cast as he usually was but I like the guy a lot.  I doubt I'll see him as badass as he was in THE WILD BUNCH (1969) but I won't stop going through his catalog to find out.  The pair play well off each other and I can identify with each and understand their reasoning.  Ford was a great director and this is easily suited to his talents.  It's a good picture but it falls shy of being a great one.  The lovey dovey stuff throws a monkey wrench into the works but it's still a fun ride nonetheless.  The MGM Blu-ray looks magnificent.

The Mines of Kilimanjaro (1986)

Original title: Le Miniere del Kilimangiaro

Director: Mino Guerrini

Writer: Mino Guerrini

Composer: Luigi Ceccarelli

Starring: Tobias Hoesl, Elena Pompei, Christopher Connelly, Matteo Corsini, Francesca Ferre, Josette Martial, Gordon Mitchell, Franco Diogene, Peter Berling, Tino Castaldi, Al Cliver

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A Fortune in Diamonds in the Hands of the World's Most Evil Empire!

Plot: An American college student in 1930s Africa searches for a lost diamond mine near Mt. Kilimanjaro. He must battle Nazis who are using the mine to finance their war plans, Chinese gangsters and murderous local tribesmen.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again?  Noooooooo.

I'm keeping this brief.  It's bad.  The dubbing is careless and some of the actors sound bored.  The synthesizer score is bland and uninspired.  I'd go lower on the score but it's not in incompetent mess.  This Italian knockoff of an Indiana Jones knockoff just doesn't do it for me at all.  The more I think about it, the more the awful music hurts the film.  It also doesn't help that I watched a crap VHS copy, either.  RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) is my favorite movie so I'm more likely to watch an adventure film like this for that reason alone.  And being a fan of Gordon Mitchell's Sword & Sandal pictures from the 1960s.  He plays a smaller role in this one but he does play a Nazi with a big mustache (in case your bag is tall, older Nazis with big mustaches).  Skip this one altogether.  I wish I had and I was only passively watching it while I worked in my office.  Ugh. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Another 48 Hrs. (1990)

Director: Walter Hill

Writers: John Fasano, Jeb Stuart, Larry Gross

Composer: James Horner

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte, Brion James, Kevin Tighe, Ed O'Ross, David Anthony Marshall, Andrew Divoff, Bernie Casey, Brent Jennings, Ted Markland, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Kitten Natividad, Frank McRae

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Here they go again. Only faster. And tougher.

Plot: Jack Cates once again enlists the aid of ex-con Reggie Hammond--this time, to take down The Iceman, a ruthless drug lord operating in the San Francisco bay area.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

James Horner...ahhh, a few minutes in and there's a riff he used extensively in COMMANDO (1985) and this isn't the only picture he re-used it in.  Oh, yeah, the movie.  48 Hrs. (1982) is a great action comedy.   I really dug that picture.  This sequel is literally an excuse to make some money without any concern for the first film.  The title couldn't be more telling.  It really is another version of the first film, hitting as many memorable beats as possible from the first film.  The problem is that there's nothing new here.  They didn't continue the story so much as rehash the old one.  Murphy and Nolte are hitting the right beats but the picture feels like few people cared enough to deliver anything beyond a technically adequate movie.  It's disappointing to say the least but it does have a good cast with a lot of great character actors whose faces you'll probably recognize.  There's some great talent here but they're wasted on a story that feels like a bad cover tune. The Paramount DVD has no extras but the theatrical trailer and it along with the film are presented in non-anamorphic widescreen.