Sunday, November 30, 2014

Novocaine (2001)

Director: David Atkins

Writers: Paul Felopulos, David Atkins

Composer: Steve Bartek

Starring:  Steve Martin, Laura Dern, Lynne Thigpen, Hlena bonham Carter, Scott Caan, Elias Koteas, Keith David, Kevin Bacon

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Crime Is Not Only Done By Criminals.

Plot: A dentist finds himself a murder suspect after a sexy patient seduces him into prescribing her drugs.



My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I haven't seen this in ages and I'm glad it's held up. This is a nice, tight and sometimes darkly funny crime thriller.  It's nice seeing Steve Martin outside of the comedy pictures.  He's fun but in a serious way.  Having seen him in a lot of movies there's some baggage that he brings that's purely that of the audience.  Because he's Steve Martin you almost automatically like him and that can help or hurt an actor.  The supporting cast is great.  Hell, there's no weak link in the picture.  The story has a lot going on.  I would suggest not thinking about anything and let the film take you for a ride.  Do you like incest?  I thought you did.  Kevin Bacon has an uncredited role of an actor researching the role of a detective and he's hilarious.  I love that guy.  The Artisan DVD has lots of extras.  You get a short piece on forensic dentistry (9 minutes), a 9 minute fluff piece on the making of the film, 5 deleted scenes, 6 excerpts from the soundtrack (including 2 by Danny Elfman and 2 from Steve Bartek, Elman's bandmate in Oingo Boingo who also provided the score), the non-anamorphic widescreen red band (and green band) trailers for the film, and trailers for 5 other movies, TV show and DVD box set, plus the director's commentary for the film.  I really enjoy this film and if any of this sounds like your bag, it's an easy purchase for under five bucks.  I picked it up at Big Lots a couple of years ago for $2 and it was a no brainer having already seen the film at that point. 


Hitler's G.I. Death Camp (2011)

Director: Steven Hoggard

Writer: Steven Hoggard

Composers: Stuart Kollmorgen, Christopher Magnum, Michael S. Patterson

Starring: Liev Schreiber

More info: IMDb

Plot: Artifacts, photographs and journals tell the story of 350 American GIs who were held at Berga, a secretive Nazi concentration camp.



My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I really have a distaste for these short TV documentaries yet I keep watching them as if I'm going to get something of genuine quality.  The only thing I generally glean is learning just a little bit about something I knew little to nothing about.  The music is heavy handed and overly dramatic and they take 20 minutes worth of material and stretch it out to 44 minutes.  It's the complete opposite of most of the UK equivalent of which I'm a HUGE fan.  They know how to make interesting, compelling and informative docs.  This one feels like it's leaving a lot out.  The subject is the G.I. camp but they only spend about half the program discussing it in any kind of detail.  Every few minutes I found myself asking good questions that they failed to address (not as if I expected the TV to give me instant feedback or anything).  For example, they go through great lengths to talk about the journals that some men kept while in captivity but only give us a few scant words on what they contain.  I'm sure there are countless fascinating entries that could have been mentioned. And how were they able to keep them and how did they survive the war?  I understand there's nothing that's going to beat picking up a good book on the subject but these National Geographic, History Channel, etc. docs are only going to whisper the tip of the iceberg.  The sad thing is, with more effort they could all do a far better job in delivering the information and a lot more of it in the same amount of space.  I'm going to save more heartache with these poor episodic docs and remove them from my Netflix queue.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Body Snatcher (1945)

Director: Robert Wise

Writers: Robert Louis Stevenson, Philip MacDonald, Val Lewton

Composer: Roy Webb

Starring: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Henry Daniell, Edith Atwater, Russell Wade, Rita Corday, Sharyn Moffett, Donna Lee

More info: IMDb

Tagline: INVADED!...the sanctuary of the Dead!...by the Hero of Horror!...and the Master of Menace!

Plot: A ruthless doctor and his young prize student find themselves continually harassed by their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers.



My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I'm a sucker for any variation on the Burke & Hare story of grave robbing, but only if it's set in the 19th century which this is.  Karloff is one sinister fucker in this picture and he's incredibly good at it, too.  Lugosi is great but he's barely used.  It's a shame he wasn't given better roles and he was relegated to minor parts just so they producers could have his name on the poster to sell tickets.  The rest of the cast does a fine job.  The score, art direction, camera work, etc are all very good.  It's so good that I'd love to see this in an old theater.  That would be tops.  There's even some great and creepy moments like when the street singer is suddenly silenced.  That was masterfully handled and completely off screen to maximize its effectiveness.  The Warner Bros. DVD I have comes with a commentary by Steve Haberman and director Robert Wise along with the theatrical trailer.  Another Val Lewton classic, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943), is the second feature on the disc which is a great film, too.


George Lucas: Maker of Films (1971)

Director: Jerry Hughes

Writer: Not scripted

Composer: No original score

Starring: George Lucas, Gene Youngblood

More info: IMDb

Plot:  Film critic Gene Youngblood spends an afternoon with George Lucas discussing Lucas' brief time in making films which as led to his turning his award winning student film into a Hollywood feature film that was just released, THX 1138 (1971).



My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Probably not.

This almost hour long video taped film was made to air on PBS.  It's a serious discussion about the state of the art of film making not only in dissing the major studio's way of doing things but also where technology is taking (and is going to take) the medium, that once everyone has access to the equipment that only then will you see art being made and distributed instead of consumable entertainment.  I really dig hearing the pre-too-big-for-his-britches Lucas discussing film making and this was done just as THX 1138 was released.  Lucas talks a little about his youth and what led him to film making and a lot about his college years, the making of the THX short film and how that led to his getting a larger budget feature made of it.  He's really upset with the changes Warner Bros. made that shaped his first feature, so much that I'd like to rip the plastic off my THX DVD and listen to the commentary before seeing the picture again.  It sounds like his original vision is vastly different, and cynical, to the finished product.


Also of interest is the inclusion of two short films, 6-18-67 (1967) (5 minutes) and ELECTRONIC LABYRINTH THX 1138 4EB (1967) (15 minutes).  The former is about meaningless will the latter will whet your appetite on what the young Lucas was thinking in science fiction terms 10 years before he finished STAR WARS (1977).  This short film is definitely worth a look for fans of the man (pre-prequels).  I miss that young, idealistic George Lucas.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Dracula III: Legacy (2005)

Director: Patrick Lussier

Writers: Joel Soisson, Patrick Lussier

Composers: Kevin Kliesch, Ceiri Torjussen

Starring: Jason Scott Lee, Stephen Billington, Diane Neal, Jason London, Rutger Hauer, Ilinca Goia, George Grigore, Roy Scheider, Tom Kane, Alexandra Wescourt, Serban Celea

More info: IMDb


Plot: In the near future, Uffizi and Luke travel to the remote reaches of war torn Romania to rescue Elizabeth and finish the vampire once and for all. Along the way, they encounter TV news journalist and a corps of rebels trying to fight the vampire uprising which plagues their country.



My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Woof.  I only watched this because Rutger Hauer plays Dracula and Roy Scheider's also in it.  It's a fucking bullshit move that Hauer doesn't show up until 25 minutes from the end.  Up until then it's cheesy dialogue (that only a few of the actors can deliver without me cringing) and the typical fare you'd expect in a late night TV movie or DTV.  Filming in Romania is definitely a plus but there's far too much video grading, giving this an almost sepitone look.  I'd swear I've seen Jason Scott Lee give a good performance but it's definitely not here. Part of it is the crap dialogue and that he's trying too hard to be the soft-spoken, tortured badass.  Not many people can pull that kind of roll off successfully but this character type is way over-played in movies.  If you're interest in seeing this is purely for Hauer or Scheider, you're going to waste your time.  If I had known I would've moved onto something else instead.  The 4-movie Blu-ray I have (soon to be had) with the 3 Dracula pictures (the two films prior to this one) and THEY (2002) are all on one disc and have no special features.  I want my ten bucks back.

Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB (1967)

Director: George Lucas

Writer: George Lucas

Composer: No score except for music from other films (none credited)

Starring: Dan Natchsheim, Joy Carmichael, David Munson, Marvin Bennett, Ralph Stell

More info: IMDb

Plot: While monitored and pursued, a man races to escape through a futuristic labyrinth.



My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Probably not.  It'll watch the feature film instead.

This is the 15 minute short film that George Lucas made in film school that is responsible for pretty much kick starting his career.  It won several awards and for it he won a scholarship from Warner Bros.  There he met Francis Ford Coppola which lead to their forming Zoetrope Studios.  Knowing this is a student film really helps, especially when you consider this was made in the late 70s.  Forget for a moment that it was made by future Mr. STAR WARS (1977).  It's visually interesting by filming TV monitors and the sound is really important and does a fantastic job of selling it.  The soundscape is outstanding.  Daniel Tueth is the only name attached to the sound department.  I'm sure since this was Lucas' baby that he had a hand in shaping what Tueth created.  We often give extra credit for things that came first.  Everyone has an opinion.  Is this a great film?  No.  It's interesting but it also is the one thing that you can point to that put Lucas on the path as a film director and for that I'm grateful.  And now I'm reminded of how freakin' long it's been since I saw the feature film version of this short that came out a few years later with the shortened title of THX 1138 (1971).

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dracula 2000 (2000)

Director: Patrick Lussier

Writers: Joel Soisson, Patrick Lussier

Composer: Marco Beltrami

Starring: Gerard Butler, Christopher Plummer, Jonny Lee Miller, Justine Waddell, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Esposito, Omar Epps, Sean Patrick Thomas, Danny Masterson, Lochlyn Munro, Tig Fong, Tony Munch, Jeri Ryan, Shane West, Nathan Fillion

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Most Seductive Evil of All Time Has Now Been Unleashed in Ours.

Plot: A group of thieves break into a chamber expecting to find paintings, but instead they release the count himself, who travels to New Orleans to find his nemesis' daughter, Mary Van Helsing.



My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I honestly expected a lot more from this.  I had no idea it was so bad and cheesy. The music really goes over the top in a few scenes, making this look even more like a music video.  The story is just fine but the performances are mostly over the top and campy.  Plummer comes off the best and that's probably because he's, you know, a really good actor (he's had his moments of cheese but this isn't really one of them).  I think the big problem is in the direction and art direction.  I watched the Blu-ray and it looks super clean and too pretty.  I love the idea of setting it largely in New Orleans but even a lot of those shots look like they were filmed on a soundstage and look fake as hell.  The Mardi Gras crowd scenes look staged and unnatural.  I don't know, man, this just looks slick and superficial.  Yeah, it's a horror movie called DRACULA 2000 and that about says enough, but this should have been better.  The best part was seeing Nathan Fillion in a small role pre-FIREFLY.  I'm skipping the first sequel and the only reason I'm about to watch DRACULA III: LEGACY (2005) is because Rutger Hauer plays Dracula and it's also got Roy Scheider in it (he's also in the second one but it doesn't look like his role is substantial enough for me to waste my time).

6-18-67 (1967)

Director: George Lucas

Writer: George Lucas

Composer: No score

Starring: The Utah desert

More info: IMDb

Plot: Mostly exterior shots of the Utah desert during the filming of MACKENNA'S GOLD (1969)

My rating: 4/10



Will I watch it again? No.

I'm watching a picture called GEORGE LUCAS: MAKER OF FILMS (1971) made long before he did STAR WARS (1977) and suddenly the interview stops and one of Lucas' short film s from the 60s starts.  NEAT-O!  Only it's not interesting at all.  The IMDb plot says it's a documentary of the behind the scenes stuff from MACKENNA'S GOLD (1969) except it's not.  There is a little bit of dialogue from Omar Sharif and you get a couple of brief shots of the distant crew but that's it.  The rest of it is simple nature shots of the area from the flowers, rock formations, a flash flood, the sun setting, etc.. That's all there is.  No music, either, just the sounds of nature.  It's five minutes of that.  What's the point of it all?  Beats the hell out of me. Hence the low score.  There barely anything to this.  You can see for yourself in the video above.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Frankenstein: The True Story (1973)

Director: Jack Smight

Writers: Mary Shelley, Christopher Isherwod, Don Bachardy

Composer: Gil Melle

Starring: James Mason, Leonard Whiting, David McCallum, Jane Seymour, Nicola Pagett, Michael Sarrazin, Michael Wilding, Clarissa Kaye-Mason, Agnes Moorehead, Margaret Leighton, Ralphe Richardson, John Gielgud, Tom Baker, Julian Barnes, Arnold Diamond, Yootha Joyce, Peter Sallis, Dallas Adams, Norman Rossington

More info: IMDb


Plot: Dr. Frankenstein's (Whiting) creation is a handsome young man of high intelligence (Sarrazin). In fact, the doctor and his creature are the best of friends until the latter's body begins to deteriorate. This sends the creature over the bend into insanity, prompting Frankenstein -- with the help of his evil mentor, Dr. Polidori (Mason) -- to try, try again to create a viable synthetic human. The film ends more or less as the novel does, with the outcast Frankenstein and his creature expiring in the frozen wastes of Antarctica.



My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

This Frankenstein picture is unlike any other I've seen.  If you can take in 3 hours of it then knock yourself out.  it's a lot to take but there's also a lot of story to be told and it goes all over the place.  It's like 2-3 movies in one.  The performances are very good as are the other aspects of the production.  It's got a wonderful cast.  Think of it as the MASTERPIECE THEATER treatment of Mary Shelley's novel but with more bits thrown in to make it more fantastical.  You'll recognize little bits and pieces (ahahahahahahaha) of Frankenstein lore from the many film versions thrown about here along with some new ones.   I've never read the novel so I have no idea how closely this follows it.  Regardless, it is rather silly to say this is the 'true' story as it's fiction through and through.  Still, it's a wonderful film but its biggest detriment is the length.  It was originally shown on TV in two parts which is probably the best way to view it (sans commercials of course).  The Universal DVD comes with the original fullscreen presentation.  The only extras are a few trailers for TV shows and a film or two.  You can pick this up online for under five bucks.  I got mine at Big Lots for $3.  It's worth it.

10 (1979)

Director: Blake Edwards

Writer: Blake Edwards

Composer: Henry Mancini

Starring: Dudley Moore, Julie Andrews, Bo Derek, Robert Webber, Dee Wallace, Sam J. Jones, Brian Dennehy, Max Showalter, Rad Daly, Nerda Volz, James Noble, Virginia Kiser, John Hawker, Deborah Rush, Don Calfa

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A temptingly tasteful comedy for adults who can count.

Plot: Approaching middle age, George (Moore), a very successful Hollywood songwriter, feels as if life is passing him by, especially his sex life. Despite the presence of longtime lady friend Sam (Andrews) in his life, he becomes obsessed from afar with Jenny (Derek), who is engaged to be married. Following her to Mexico without her knowledge, George arranges a meeting with Jenny by saving the life of her fiancé, David (Jones). Once he has made her acquaintance, George suddenly finds himself faced with the realities of embarking on such an affair.



My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

A little back story in how this picture fits into my life.  When this arrived on HBO in the earliest part of the 1980s I was going through that curious time of pre-pubescent youth.  In other words I had a healthy obsessions with naked women.  I used to sneak into the living room late at night (having early on acquainted myself with the terms 'nudity' and 'brief nudity' found in the HBO Guide), close the hall door to the bedrooms, turn the TV on with the sound down low and wait impatiently until the boobs showed up.  Now I didn't participate in any physical way, that would come a few years later but I would sit there enamored at the female form.  Bo Derek and this movie mark my earliest memories of this ritual.  Cut ahead probably fifteen years later (and about fifteen years ago).  I watched the film for the first time since then and I was bored to death.  I didn't like it and the only thing I dug were the nude scenes with Derek.  I popped the DVD in last night and watched all 122 minutes of it and something happened.  I saw it for what it was, a sweet comedy about a man coming to terms with what matters most to him, romantically.


Now, the film has lots of fat that could be trimmed into a leaner and perhaps better film.  But then that would rob us of some great comedy.  Dudley Moore is hilarious and does physical comedy very well.  The bit where he's knocked off his feet with the telescope and falls down the hill goes on too long but it starts to get funnier by the end.  Most of the entire dentist bit and the numbed face aftermath is excessive but there are some really funny moments that would be missed. Julie Andrews singing at the rehearsal is totally unnecessary but fans of her will eat it up (plus she was married to Edwards so let the guy do what he wants).  For being the hottest broad to come along in years, it's surprising that she can act.  She's perfect for what the role called for.  I'm not saying she could hold her own doing Shakespeare in the Park or anything but she does a very nice, soft spoken job and I really dug it.  The fuck?  That's Sam Jones that's her on screen husband?  I knew I'd seen him before but I couldn't place it.  He looks a lot different from his next gig, FLASH GORDON (1980).  The rest of the cast is top notch.  I just love watching Robert Webber (as Hugh, George's gay friend and song writing partner) work.  He's fantastic.  Brian Dennehy was only 32 when it made this and even then he had a commanding presence.  Dee Wallace is great.  Shit, this picture is wonderfully cast and everyone is on top of their game.  Max Showalter (the priest with the great dane) should have been in everything.  Classic shit, that guy.  I could go on but I have to say that I fully intended to not like this film again when I popped it in.  Instead, I saw it through more mature eyes (having seen thousands of films since the last time) and soaked it in as it was intended.  It's a case of me growing up in a sense and I rather liked the fact that I now really dig this picture.  Oh, and the ending couldn't have been any better.  Loved it.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

From Beyond the Grave (1974)

Director: Kevin Connor

Writers: R. Chetwynd-Hayes, Raymond Christodoulou, Robin Clarke

Composer: Dougals Gamley

Starring: Ian Bannen, Ian Carmichael, Peter Cushing, Diana Dors, Margaret Leighton, Donald Pleasence, Nyree Dawn Porter, David Warner, Angela Pleasence, Ian Ogilvy, Lesley-Anne Down, Jack Watson, Wendy Allnutt, Rosalind Ayres, Tommy Godfrey, Ben Howard, John O'Farrell, Marcel Steiner

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Terror to delight worshippers of the Macabre.

Plot: Anthology film from Amicus adapted from four short stories by R. Chetwynd-Hayes strung together about an antique dealer who owns a shop called Temptations Ltd. and the fate that befalls his customers who try to cheat him. Stories include "The Gate Crasher" with David Warner who frees an evil entity from an antique mirror, "An Act of Kindness" featuring Donald Pleasence, "The Elemental", and "The Door".



My rating:  7/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

This is somewhat different than a lot of the other horror anthologies of the 60s and 70s in that it feels more mature and without much gore.  Peter Cushing is a welcome sight as The Proprietor, the man who links the stories together via his antique shop.  It's a well-shot film with some really good performances and a few familiar faces.  It just didn't strike me as solid as it tried to be but I think I just need to watch it again some dark night.

THE GATE CRASHER

This story takes its dear sweet time but it's got a great payoff.  I loves me some David Warner and he's great.  Equally great is the gruesome makeup on the man in the mirror.  This segment feels long at around 23 minutes and that's the only thing that hurts it.

AN ACT OF KINDNESS

This one's got Ian Bannen, Donald Pleasence and Angela Pleasence (his daughter).  I dig the London (?) street shooting.  Like the first segment, this one seems to go on too long but it is enjoyable with some very good performances and the ending is fun.

THE ELEMENTAL

This one was odd but with a couple of laugh out loud moments (like when Madame Orloff (Leighton) is contorting Reginald's (Carmichael) face) and a grisly end for someone.

THE DOOR

I dug this one and I just have to have that door.  How badass is that thing?  Awesome!  This segment has more of your traditional Gothic-type of British horror you'd expect.

I can't say enough about Peter Cushing.  This guy was a master actor.  Just watch how he handles that last few minutes with the burglar and especially when he address us, the viewer.  Wow.  It's the pacing that might keep you from really liking this but each story has its own rewards. 

Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976)

Director: Peter Yates

Writers: Stephen Manes, Tom Makiewicz

Composer: No score

Starring: Bill Cosby, Raquel Welch, Harvey Keitel, Allen Garfield, Larry Hagman, L.Q. Jones, Bruce Davison, Dick Butkus, Milt Kamen, Barra Grant, Valerie Curtin, Severn Darden, Toni Basil, Arnold Williams

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They don't call them that for nothing!

Plot: Two privately owned ambulance companies compete for the city contract in LA. The focus, F+B Ambulance Service, has the wildest crew on the block. Cosby (Mother) plays the veteran driver to whom rules are meant to be bent. Keitel (Speed) is a cop on suspension for suspicion of drug peddling to minors who needs to pay the rent. Welch (Jugs) is the dispatch secretary with secret ambitions who won't give the boys in the bunkhouse the time of day. Drama and comedy bleed together over who makes the right decisions to land them in the money and keep them out of the hospital.



My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Here's an unusual movie that feels like it could only be made in the 70s.  The first hour plays as a comedy and then there's a scene with the drivers dealing with a pregnant movie that instantly shifts it to a drama and social commentary and that's about where it stays until the end of the picture...that is until Mother (Cosby) hits the siren on a running gag with nuns crossing a street (which is super funny).  Cosby is great and he really shows off his acting chops like he did in another serious drama, the 60s show I SPY.  Welch (as Jugs) just beams on the screen.  She's a great presence and she's a good actress.  She's got moxy! Haha.  Keitel underplays it (as he often did), being the silent, cool type.  But then next to Cosby and Welch he's going to seem low key.  It's not a bad film but it does have an unusual tonal shift that almost makes it feel like there was a top level studio power struggle or something.  And I don't mean to suggest that that's a bad thing.  I rather liked it but as a whole it's only moderately enjoyable.  I'd say it's a must see for any fans of the three leads plus you'll probably recognize a few familiar faces including L.Q. Jones and Arnold Williams.  The 20th Century Fox DVD has a great widescreen print and quite a few extras in the way of lots of trailers including this film's teaser, theatrical and Spanish trailers (all anamorphic widescreen), a TV spot (fullscreen of course) and trailers for Raquel Welch films (all anamorphic widescreen except where noted) with BANDOLERO!, FANTASTIC VOYAGE (fullscreen), FATHOM (non-anamorphic widescreen), MYRA BRECKINRIDGE and ONE MILLION YEARS B.C..  Even though I don't need to see the film again, it's almost worth keeping the DVD just for the great widescreen trailers.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dorianna Grey (1976)

Original title: Die Marquise von Sade

Director: Jesus Franco

Writer: Jesus Franco

Composer: Walter Baumgartner

Starring: Lina Romay, Monica Swinn, Raymond Hardy, Peggy Markoff, Martine Stedil, Andrea Rigano

More info: IMDb

Plot: A lonely aristocrat Miss Gray has a twin sister who's in an asylum. They share a strange bond. Miss Gray is rational but frigid while her sister is insane yet feels sexual pleasure for both of them.



My rating:  6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

If you like your porn on the artsy side, then this is for you.  Franco did a lot of this sort of thing and a good deal of what I've seen is rather slow and dull.  But they're also pretty to watch.  The locations are just as beautiful as the many women.  Everybody is having sex with everybody.  This isn't softcore, either.  This is XXX for sure but it's more erotic than just sex for the sake of sex.  The score is nice.  The dubbing is aurally pleasing but it's terrible when you see it with the visuals.  There's not much plot but these sorts of pictures don't rely on that.  Oh, if you watch it, pay attention to the song Dorianna (Romay) sings at the beginning.  It sounds an awful lot like the theme Robert Rodriguez wrote for PLANET TERROR (2007).  You get what you want, beautiful people naked most of the time and gettin' it on...and for that, we thank you, Jesus Franco. 

Earthquake 7.9 (1980)

Original title: Jishin Retto

Director: Kenjiro Ohmori

Writer: Kaneto Shindo

Composer: Toshiaki Tsushima

Starring: Hiroshi Katsuno, Toshiyuki Nagashima, Yumi Takigawa, Kayo Matsuo, Hideji Otaki, Eiji Okada, Shin Saburi, Norihei Miki, Tsutomu Yamazaki

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  This Is the Big One.

Plot: A large earthquake hits Tokyo, which was predicted by a seismologist but was ignored.



My rating:  4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Here's a by the numbers disaster flick from Japan that plays out exactly as you'd expect. There's lots of drama as the lone scientist preaches impending doom, loses his job, disgraces his family, his wife leaves him, he falls for his beautiful young assistant who has been in love with him all along and then the shit hits the fan when the huge quake shows up not wearing a dinner jacket, destroying everything leaving our two lovebirds alive to tell the survivors "I told you so."  The lousy fullscreen VHS print I saw (from the Fortune 5 DVD set Grindhouse Experience - don't waste your time or money on it) was dark which prevented me from really digging the good, disastery parts.  The first hour is all drama and then when the quake hits it's night time and the final half hour is hard to see from this print.  That adds up to me being bored with it.  Maybe a better print would garner a better score but this is all I have to go on.  I'm not big on disaster films to begin with but I was determined to watch everything on this DVD set so I can get it out of my collection to make room for something good.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Everyman: Profile of a Serial Killer (1994)

Director: Nikki Stockley

Writer: ???

Composer: Glenn Keiles

Starring: Jeffrey Dahmer, Lionel Dahmer, John Kane

More info: IMDb


Plot:  This documentary looks at the crimes of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and how his life was shaped to become one of the most notorious serial killers in history.



My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

What sets this apart from the many documentaries I've seen on Dahmer is how calming and relaxing it is.  Plus it also spends more time than most with learning of his childhood and upbringing.  We get interviews with his father and school mates which gives you an added level of depth that other docs don't.  What's more is there is a good deal of home movie footage of Dahmer that shows you how normal this guy seemed.  That's the real treat here.  What's more is that this focuses less on Dahmer's crimes and the grisly details and more with his family and the survivor's of the victims.  We get their stories which goes much farther than most docs on serial killers.  It's a British TV doc that's a short 39 minutes but you leave it feeling very satisfied.  And on a wild note, this documentary aired on 11/20/94, just 8 days before Dahmer was murdered in prison. 

The Poseidon Explosion (1973)

Original title: Explozia

Director: Mircea Dragan

Writer: Ioan Grigorescu

Composer: Theodor Grigoriu

Starring: Radu Beligan, Gheorghe Dinica, Toma Caragiu, Dem Radulescu, Jean Constantin, George Motoi, Toma Dimitriu, Colea Rautu, Draga Olteanu Matei

More info: IMDb

Plot: When a big ocean liner's cargo of fertilizer catches fire, it causes an explosion and pretty soon, the whole ship is ablaze. A helpful newlywed passing by in a canoe and a stowaway help try to fight the fire.



My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Based on an actual event, this isn't all that bad but the presentation (crappy VHS fullscreen print with a not-so-good English dub) keeps it from being anything too watchable.  I'm not sure if the English dubbers took liberties with the dialogue but there are odd moments of humor thrown in that don't fit with the picture.  On one hand you've got an action thriller that starts immediately and doesn't let up until the film ends and yet there's almost slapstick-y humor every once in a while that completely takes you out of it.  The shitty print never allowed me to care much but considering it's a Romanian disaster film, and my knowledge of the Romanian film industry of the 1970s is limited, I think they did a pretty good job and a major motion picture. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Born to Kill?: Jeffrey Dahmer (1998)

Director: Sue McGregor

Writer: ???

Composer: Illinton

Starring: Steve Furst, John Backderf, Gerald P. Boyle, Nico Claux, Pat Kennedy, E. Michael McCann, Sopakliba Princewill, Robert K. Ressler, Tony Timer

More info: IMDb

Plot:  Jeffrey Dahmer was a homosexual sexual deviant who raped, murdered and ate parts of 17 victims. Like other killers such as John Wayne Gacy, he managed to elude capture while continuing to carry out his crimes. Like every other sociopath serial killer in history he believed himself to be completely justified in his actions. Why does a Jeffrey Dahmer happen? How does a man become a serial killer, necrophiliac, cannibal and psychopath? Many of the theories would have you believe that the answers can always be found in childhood abuse, bad parenting, head trauma, foetal alcoholism and drug addiction. Perhaps in some cases these are contributing factors, but not for Jeffrey Dahmer…



My rating:  8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I've seen this twice now and it's yet another great British TV documentary that wastes no time and presents the facts in a straightforward and fascinating way.  The interviews are interesting and engaging, you get to see some grisly photos including one of Dahmer's victims sliced open, the visual presentation is compelling as is the score and it's just incredible the things this man did and got away with.  Dahmer was one fucked up cat and this short film (about 45 minutes) gives you a comprehensive look into what he was and what contributed to his desire to kill and eat his victims.  Watch the whole thing starting with the video above. 

Death in the Bunker: The True Story of Hitler's Downfall (2004)

Director: Michael Kloft

Writer: Michael Kloft

Composer: ???

Starring: Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven, Traudl Junge, Armin D. Lehmann, Rochus Misch.  Narrators: Nick F. Bolton, Martin Heckmann, Corinna Sadlo

More info: IMDb

Plot: The story of Adolf Hitler's final days in the bunker in 1945.



My rating: 9/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

The video above is a poor representation of the film.  The version I saw was without subtitles and in its original fullscreen aspect ration and not stretched as you see here.  This is an outstanding account of the final few days of Hitler and it goes to great lengths to set up and describe as many details as are known about the situation immediately above the bunker and inside, incorporating interviews with a few surviving members of those with Hitler in the closing days of the war.  It's a remarkable film with superb narration that is loaded with images and video of exactly what they're describing, some of it I've never seen before. The score (what felt like to be one cue continually repeated) is beautifully used and is probably the single most important part in conveying a sense of impending doom. I was captivated from the first moment to the last.  I highly recommend watching this, if possible, and follow it up with the excellent DOWNFALL (2004) or even precede this with BLIND SPOT. HITLER'S SECRETARY (2002).

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Riverman (2004)

Director: Bill Eagles

Writers: Tom Towler, Robert D. Keppel, William J. Birnes

Composer: Jeff Rona

Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Cary Elwes, Sam Jaeger, sarah Manninen, Kathleen Quinlan, David Brown, Jeremy Akerman, Cindy Sampson, Richard Blackburn, Mark Graham, John Dunsworth, Sherry Smith, Lee J. Campbell, Leah Ostry

More info: IMDb

Tagline: To catch a killer. You must understand evil. Or be evil.

Plot: A series of interviews are conducted with convicted serial killer Ted Bundy in hopes of gaining insight into the Green River Killer who is terrorizing Seattle.



My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

This is not your typical serial killer movie.  There's more talking, discussion and conversation going on than what you're used to and that's refreshing.  The script is very good but it's the performances and direction that keep it from becoming just another serial killer movie. Greenwood and Elwes are top notch.  There's no boogeyman in Elwes' Bundy.  He's a charismatic, regular guy.  Yeah, he's got some serious fucking issues but he's not presented as a monster.  I think it's more frightening that someone like this could be anyone you or I know without being aware of the horrors they create. Greenwood keeps his Keppel in check by holding back and being as calm as he can be.  He's calculating and intelligent without being emotional and telegraphing his thoughts to the obvious.  He keeps what he's thinking in check but he's still able to give such a nuanced performance that you know what's going on inside his head.  I don't know how much liberty the film makers took with this picture regarding the facts but they've made an excellent film that needs to be added to your list if you're interested in this sort of thing.  John Dunsworth (Lahey from the TRAILER PARK BOYS show and movies) is in this but I wasn't looking for him and didn't know he was in it until after I saw the film.  This guy is popping up in a lot of movies I've been watching lately.  One neat tidbit is that this true story partly served as inspiration for Thomas Harris' novel and later film, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991).

Savage Man...Savage Beast (1975)

Original title: Ultime Grida dalla Savana

Directors: Antonio Climati, Mario Morra

Writers: Antonio Climati, Mario Morra

Composer: Carlo Savina

Starring: Alberto Moravia

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Horrific violence, filmed as it happened!

Plot: A notorious mondo film depicting unbelievable and bizarre rituals, animal killing and cruelty, and people being killed and eaten, all by either animals or humans against each other or themselves.



My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

The picture opens with our narrator talking about how we shouldn't feel sorry for the giant stag we see him stalk, kill and behead.  Then it's off to Cape Cod for a peace demonstration for the rights of animals.




Thursday, November 20, 2014

Raving Maniacs (2005)

Director: Richard Griffin

Writers: Richard Griffin, Trent Haaga, Christine Peltier, Scott Phillips, Billy Garberina, Randy Marquis

Composer: Daniel Hildreth

Starring: Patrick Cohen, Emily Morettini, Andrew Vellenoweth, Christine, Peltier, Ryan Patrick Kenny, Jennifer Zigler, V. Orion Delwaterman, Edwin Cottle, Patrick Pitu, William DeCoff, Salvatore Marchese, Caleb Emerson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Their agony is your ecstasy

Plot: There s a rave going on. It s gonna be great. Tuesday and her boyfriend J.T., and their friend Katie, and Katie s brother, are going out partying to the biggest rave in Providence, Rhode Island. Of course, the reckless kids become part of an alien plot to distribute some strange drugs among the ravers at the party.



My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

If you've seen any prior posts of Richard Griffin's movies you'll know that I'm out to watch everything he's made simply because his NUN OF THAT (2009) is so fucking awesome.  A lot of these movies are pretty bad but I keep hoping to find another one that comes close to the greatness of NoT.  I'll keep looking. This is another low budget, indie horror that's got a thin plot, a little nudity and gore, some bad action, broad (mostly unfunny) humor and a synth score that doesn't work.  Like all of these, I watched it with friends and we tried to enjoy it on a base level but some scenes are hard to get through because they ran too long or the actors take too much time to deliver their lines.  It's like they only had enough time to get one take on some scenes because there's more than a few scenes where the actors take forever to get through their lines.  Cutting out one or two seconds by cutting to another actor or something would have done wonders to tighten this thing up.  As it is, it does have a few laughs and some skin to help you get through it but the drag is enough to get you reaching for the remote.  The Brain Damage DVD has a fullscreen print of the film.  The few extras include a photo reel, which is nothing more than still images taken from the film, a commentary with the writer/director Griffin and lead actor Cohen, and 14 trailers for Brain Dead indie horror releases.  Would it have killed them to have a 'play all' feature for these?  Geez.  I'm going to hold onto the DVD because I would like to hear the commentary and get some tips on making a movie, you know, the one that I keep saying I'm going to make but never get around to? 

Raw Force (1982)

Director: Edward D. Murphy

Writer: Edward D. Murphy

Composer: Walter Murphy

Starring: Cameron Mitchell, Geoffrey Binney, Hope Holiday, Jillian Kesner, John Dresden, Jennifer Holmes, Rey Malonzo, Carla Reynolds, Carl Anthony, John Locke, Mark Tanous, Ralph Lombardi, Chanda Romero, Camille Keaton

More info: IMDb

Tagline: ...Invaders of the Jade Tombs!

Plot: A group of martial arts students are en route to an island that supposedly is home to the ghosts of martial artists who have lost their honor. A Hitler lookalike and his gang are running a female slavery operation on the island as well. Soon, the two groups meet and all sorts of crazy things happen which include cannibal monks, piranhas, zombies, and more!



My rating:

Will I watch it again? No.

Because this is so dumb and idiotic, it's entertaining to a degree.  From the first couple of minutes you'll recognize this guy...


He's a cannibal monk that eats hot naked broads.  Really.  Say, that reminds me, there's a good deal of nudity...in and out of the shower.


There's also a lot that could be trimmed. Prepare yourself for some reasonably entertaining padding. For example, the party scene on the boat lasts about twenty minutes and then another twelve minutes with action as the boat is attacked which leaves our kung fu ma-fuckas on a raft heading toward the island.  With as much wackiness as the posters promise, it doesn't deliver but it's still fun on that so bad it's good level.  Lower your expectations and you'll come out the other end relatively unscathed.  For as goofy as it is, though, you'll wonder why they didn't really go all the way out and get completely outrageous.  This is one of 20 awful movies you'll find on the Fortune 5 DVD set called Grindhouse Experience.  It's only worth having if you like watching shit movies. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Date Bait (1960)

Director: O'Dale Ireland

Writers: O'Dale Ireland, Ethelmae Wilson Page, Robert Slaven

Composer: Nicholas Carras

Starring: Gary Clarke, Marlo Ryan, Dick Gering, Carold Dawne, Jon Lindon, Gabe Delutri, Michael Bachus, Mildred Miller, Steve Ihnat, Chad Williams, Lemar Crast, Rita Guinan, Anton von Stralen, Trep Howard, Reggie Perkins, Johnny Faire

More info: IMDb

Tagline: AT SIXTEEN...a girl learns about love...ONE WAY OR THE OTHER!

Plot: A Troubled young man, Brad, returns home after six months rehab. On his first night he starts a fight in dance club with a man named Logan because he was dancing with Sue, a girl whom Brad is in love with. Brad's older brother ends the fight just to beat Logan up later himself. Although Sue's strict father is strongly against her relationship with Logan, they secretly get married in Las Vegas. Soon Brad's love turns to obsession and at the same time he falls back into using drugs. Sue's father takes matters into his own hands.



My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Probably not.

I dig watching these 50+ year old teenager movies.  Sometimes they're so naive it's hilarious.  They also have a tendency with the drama to drag down the picture to a snail's pace.  This one's got a nice mix of dating (even teen marriage), crime, drugs and the rock & roll.  The acting is pretty good but you can only do so much with standard fare like this.  It's funny how old and how square parents are in these things.  As per usual you get the rock & roll song and dance where you hear the whole tune.  I'd say this one is better than the usual pictures of this kind.  One thing that stands out is the teen couple eloping and being a big bundle of nerves on their wedding night in a hotel.  Can't two married kids in love get their freak on?  Geez!  The cars are cool, the music is happening, the clothes, the dialogue, it's all groovy.  I doubt I'd watch this again only because there were tons of these pictures made back in the 50s and early 60s and I'd rather roll the dice and watch one I haven't seen before revisiting this one.

Strike of the Tortured Angels (1982)

Director: Roy Rosenberg

Writers: Dick O'Nell, Gary Capra Jr.

Composer: Ricky Chan

Starring: Susan Lee, Stella Jone, Laura Sode-Matteson, George Bill, Larry Moore, Jim Man

More info: IMDb

Tagline: ACTION! BETRAYAL! HATRED! BLOODSHED! GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!

Plot:  Three girls in a women's prison escape and have a difficult time staying a live and free on the run.



My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This overly dramatic Women In Prison (WIP) film from Hong Kong has each of the three escapees out to either wrong a right, get revenge or take care of business before they die.  The 'black' girl has TB and one of them is pregnant or something.  And by black I mean an Asian woman in blackface.


Yup. For a WIP picture I don't recall a single frame of nudity although there is a hint at the obligatory group shower scene as the girls arrive at the jungle camp.  There's also no torture or much of any of the edgy staples of WIP films.  It's mildly entertaining but I've got to say that I was bored enough that a day after watching it I forgot almost everything about it.  That's not good.  The crappy fullscreen VHS tape with Dutch subs isn't the way to go but it's the only way you're probably going to find it.  It's one of several crap movies in the Fortune 5 DVD set called Grindhouse Experience that comes with 20 lousy movies.  I've been through them all and there's only one now that I would consider watching again.  Really.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

Director: John Carpenter

Writer: Michael De Luca

Composers: John Carpenter, Jim Lang

Starring: Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jurgen Prochnow, David Warner, John Glover, Bernie Casey, Peter Jason, Charlton Heston, Frances Bay, Wilhelm von Homburg, Hayden Christensen

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Lived Any Good Books Lately?

Plot: An insurance investigator begins discovering that the impact a horror writer's books have on his fans is more than inspirational.



My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

At first I wasn't diggin' Sam Neill's performance.  He seemed awkward in the role that is until the shit starts getting weird and his character's tone changed from flippant to serious.  I'm not sure if I really liked the movie, though.  On one hand it's got a wonderful premise and there's a lot of great imagery with lots of weird shit going on.  But on the other, it drags on and on until the last twenty minutes when it picks up steam and stays interesting as shit until the credits roll.  I think I'm going to give this one another watch in a few years and see how I feel about it then.  It's the kind of picture I really want to like but it didn't grab my by the former short and curlies this go 'round.

Tower of London (1939)

Director: Rowland V. Lee

Writer: Robert N. Lee

Composer: Frank Skinner

Starring: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Barbara O'Neil, Ian Hunter, Vincent Price, Nan Grey, Ernest Cossart, John Sutton, Leo G. Carroll, Miles Mander, Lionel Belmore, Rose Hobart, Ronald Sinclair

More info: IMDb

Tagline: In the story of this diabolical, misshapen figure, the screen presents a spectacle of unequalled magnitude...the wide-swept furies of a nation driven to maniacal revolt...the shadow of a bestial-faced executioner...a populace screaming for revenge!

Plot: In the 15th century Richard Duke of Gloucester, aided by his club-footed executioner Mord, eliminates those ahead of him in succession to the throne, then occupied by his brother King Edward IV of England. As each murder is accomplished he takes particular delight in removing small figurines, each resembling one of the successors, from a throne-room dollhouse, until he alone remains. After the death of Edward he becomes Richard III, King of England, and need only defeat the exiled Henry Tudor to retain power.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

Great story, great performances, great actors, great scenery, great fun.  Seeing Price so young is wild and his drinking bout with Rathbone is fucking great. Rathbone is one ruthless mo-fo in this picture.  I really dig these costume dramas and they were really good at them back in the 30s.  I like the idea of having a toy court made up for Richard (Rathbone) to remove the dolls of the people who stand in his way to the throne. He's such a cold bastard that it's easy not to like him but then it's Basil fucking Rathbone so you kinda want to see him make it.  KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS (1949) has a similar premise but TOWER is a much better film and not played for dark laughs.  I REALLY liked this film and I'm looking forward to seeing it again someday.  It's one of 5 great (so far) films in the first volume of Universal's The Boris Karloff Collection.  The other films come with a trailer but not this one which may explain why there isn't one anywhere online.  It's a wonderful set and a must-have for Karloff fans.








Monday, November 17, 2014

Intruder (1989)

Director: Scott Spiegel

Writers: Lawrence Bender, Scott Spiegel

Composer: Basil Poledouris

Starring: Elizabeth Cox, Renee Estevez, Dan Hicks, David Byrnes, Sam Raimi, Eugene Robert Glazer, Billy Marti, Burr Steers, Craig Stark, Ted Raimi, Alvy Moore, Tom Lester, Emil Sitka, Bruce Campbell, Lawrence Bender, Scott Spiegel

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A new dimension in terror.

Plot: The overnight stock crew of a local supermarket find themselves being stalked and slashed by a mysterious maniac.
76.5/10


Will I watch it again? Yeah.

For a low budget horror flick this is pretty damn good and for a first time feature director, it's pretty damn good.  It's pretty fun even if it's a little overlong.  The thing that gets old, and fast, is the director's constant use of unusual angles and shots.  Every single one is cool and I really dug them but there are so many that it starts to get in the way early on.  Spiegel is a long time friend of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell going all the way back to their start in the business so you can see where the influence came from.  The kills are great and there's lots of blood but sadly there's no nudity, not that it hurts this picture.  One thing I really dug were the cameos by the Sam & Ted Raimi, Bruce Campbell and especially Alvy Moore and Tom Lester who I loved in the 60s TV show GREEN ACRES.  Fans of 80s slasher films need to add this one to the top of the list.  It's creative, good and fun.  I can't think of a movie that has ever gotten more use out of the solitary location of a grocery store.  Oh, and the ending?  FUCKING AWESOME!!!  You don't see endings like this hardly ever.