I'm snowed in and doing little more than watch movies and cook food. Here are a few movies on the 'To Watch' pile!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Oh Holy Crap! I just learned from Bloody Disgusting that among the Roger Corman directed and produced films that Shout Factory will be releasing this year is the mindbendingly awful (but much beloved) STARCRASH. And it will apparently be released on BLU-RAY! Its like someone decided to make me have a very happy Wednesday.
This is almost unbelievable. I never thought we'd even get a simple DVD of the movie that didn't look like it was mastered from a VHS tape. And the icing on the cake is the release of completely insane GALAXY OF TERROR and FORBIDDEN WORLD as well. This is great news and I couldn't not be more thrilled. Now the wait for September begins.
Here's the full list.
2010 RELEASES FROM ROGER CORMAN’S CULT CLASSICS
May 4 – Rock’n’Roll High School DVD & BD
May 4 – Suburbia DVD
June 22 – Death Race 2000 DVD & BD
June 22 – Warlords of the 21st Century and Death Sport (double feature DVD presentation)
July 20 – Forbidden World DVD
July 20 – Galaxy of Terror DVD
July 20 – Attack of the Crab Monster and Not of This Earth (double feature DVD presentation)
Aug 3 – Piranha DVD & BD
Aug 3 – Humanoids from Deep DVD
Aug 3 – Up from the Depths and Demon of Paradise (double feature DVD presentation)
Sept 7 – Starcrash DVD and BD
Sept 7 – Battle Beyond the Stars
Sept 28 – Not of This Earth (1978) DVD
Sept 28 – Time Walker and Death Space DVD (double feature DVD presentation)
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I much prefer the title WEREWOLF SHADOW or even WALPURGIS NIGHT to the American monster rally style 'verses' moniker but its a fun movie no matter what you name it.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I’ve been a fan of British character actor Michael Ripper for years. Ever since I noticed him in a dozen or so Hammer horror films he’s been one of those dependable faces I love to see pop up in a supporting role. I can remember reading some critic’s disparaging comments about John Gilling’s film THE REPTILE years ago that made me realize how much I liked Ripper. This writer was down on the film quite a bit and noted that there was a scene in which Ripper’s character made hot chocolate in real time as we watched. He sited this as a dull and unnecessary scene. Poppycock! I’d be happy to watch Michael Ripper make hot chocolate, hot tea, hot coffee or any other brewed beverage as long as he made me believe that was what he was doing! And he could, too. He’s just that good an actor! Plus – THE REPTILE involves a girl that transforms into a big snake so climb down off your high horse. The quiet moments are there for a reason.
But tonight I was watching another Gilling Hammer film called THE SCARLET BLADE and realized that Ripper was heavily made up and playing a gypsy. Trust me- he pulls it off pretty well but it reminded me of the many other odd roles he’s played over the years. He’s been an Egyptian, a French pirate, an Arab trader and several other things he clearly is NOT. How he got tapped to assay these parts must have to do with his capabilities as an actor but it serves to make me laugh when I look over his list of credits. I need to read that biography of his one day and see what he thought about his work.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I had every intention of writing a short piece about the Italian Super Hero film FLASHMAN today but discovered this excellent blog entry on the subject. I’ll just point you in the direction of the Double O Section and suggest you read Tanner’s take on this little cheesy gem.
I’ll simply add that I was entirely entertained by the film and was happy that it kept tongue firmly planted in cheek. I was even thrilled with the less than convincing invisibility effects (strings everywhere!) and pretty sad miniature work (Antonio Margheritti was needed here) as the charm of the constantly moving story kept a smile on my face. Scriptwriter Ernesto Gastaldi had his hand in a lot of great Euro-trash and his name in the credits is usually a sign of a quality movie- or at least one that has a better than average chance to be good/entertaining. It’s a shame there was never a sequel as the further adventures of this wealthy crime fighter would have been well worth seeing.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I watched the peplum THE RETURN OF THE GLADIATOR (onscreen title- Three Giants of the Roman Empire) a few nights ago and it was not a pleasant experience. I generally enjoy nearly any film in the genre so when I say this one stank you can be sure it has problems. The film starts off as a serious drama detailing the political and military complications between various factions in Rome and the Empire at large. The focus is on trusted general Marcus played by Brad Harris who has risen from being a champion gladiator to his role as leader of a full legion. He has a younger sidekick whose lady-love has converted to Christianity and hopes that she can show her lover the way to her new religion. Both Marcus and his protégé are disgusted by the newest form of sport in Rome aristocratic circles – the feeding of Christians to hungry lions. Up to this point the film has been serious and fairly interesting with some obvious plot complications being set up and the bad guys showing their faces. It was looking like it could be a pretty good movie. Then everything went horribly wrong.
Marcus is ordered to go undercover to discover if a provincial governor has been secretly working with Germanic barbarians to bring about the of end Roman rule. To do this Marcus enlists the aid of an old friend who is very good with a bow and very bad with slapstick comedy. From here on out the film wavers sloppily from Three Stooges style comedy bits and serious fights, tortures and hasty intrigue. It does NOT mix together well. While watching the scene involving a comic fight over stolen roasted chickens I was rolling my eyes and wondering if the plot might soon resurface but by the time it did I no longer cared. I was so irritated by the complete lack of a consistent tone that I really considered giving up on the mess but I resolved to power through. Not that there was any reward beyond relief when it ended, but often suffering through bad movies reminds me that other movies aren’t quite as awful as I might otherwise think. When people cry about how ‘bad’ the latest big budget mess-ter-piece is I can just smile and say “You don’t know bad. I watched RETURN OF THE GLADIATOR. Try that one on, buddy!”
Monday, January 18, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
For no reason I can nail down I rewatched the extended cut of the final LORD OF THE RINGS film this week over two nights. I kind of wanted to revisit it to see if it held up well and to watch a big budget spectacle that had a good story to match the visuals. I was glad to see the film holds up quite well and actually made me want to revisit all three films again pretty soon. THE TWO TOWERS was my favorite of the trilogy but FELLOWSHIP might be better. I must admit that in one area THE RETURN OF THE KING fell down a bit, though, and it was in the area of special effects. For the most part the FX in the film are excellent and I was thrilled to notice that even some stuff I thought might not age well still looks remarkably good. The various beasties and monsters are great and the giant spider battle with Sam is fantastically well realized, but there are a few spots where the usually fine attention to detail evident throughout is lacking. Several times objects have no shadow next to things that clearly do; sometimes the tricks used to shrink the hobbits to their correct size are a little sloppy; and in one instance a nicely smooth camera glide makes Frodo look as if he’s a poorly rendered videogame piece instead of a real creature. But I was pleased at the power the movie still has years later. It still has two too many endings to be considered perfect but this viewing made me less peeved about the multiple fades to black.
Maybe I’ll watch them backward? TWO TOWERS next?
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
For weeks I've been telling friends about this amazing 7 part take down of George Lucas' pathetic prequels. Outside of emailing a link to everyone on the planet this is the best way I can think of to get this hysterically funny and completely on target critique out to more people. Please check it out and follow all 7 parts. This guy's destruction of the NEXT GENERATION movies is almost as amusing as this too.
Monday, January 04, 2010
Back at the beginning of 2009 I decided to try to watch as many westerns as possible throughout the year. I had grand visions of maybe getting near the 50 mark figuring that was really only a little less than one a week. That was do-able, right?
Actually no, it wasn't. After a strong start I got slack and by October I was deep into horror film territory and I rarely looked back. My final count was a mere 26 westerns watched with two of them being big screen viewings of Leone classics at Nashville's Belcourt theater in the summer. I didn't even watch the other two films in my German made western set after really liking THE SONS OF THE GREAT BEAR! What a wus! Still, I enjoyed this stab at plowing through a favorite genre and I plan to watch more than usual again this year. I have several Spaghetti's on deck and I need to finally see SHANE as well so the west calls.
Here's the 2009 list...
SCALPS (1987)- 6 (very late spaghetti western)
GARDEN OF EVIL (1954)- 8 (fantastic western with a great cast)
A LONG RIDE FROM HELL (1968)- 6 (spaghetti western)
FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965)- 9 (rewatch) (Leone on the big screen is a delight)
EXECUTION (1968)- 3 (muddled, dull and sloppily produced spaghetti western)
HONDO (1953)- 7 (I’d like to see this in 3D)
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968)- 10 (rewatch)
JOHNNY HAMLET (1968) – 7 (great spaghetti western take on the Bard)
COMANCHE STATION (1960)- 7 (Randolph Scott western- well written and dark)
THEY CALL ME TRINITY (1971)- 7 (very good if too often silly)
SEVEN GUNS FOR THE MACGREGORS (1966)- 7 (damned fun spaghetti western)
CAPTAIN APACHE (1971)- 4 (weak Lee Van Cleef western)
THE GUNFIGHTER (1950)- 7 (early psychological western with Gregory Peck)
TAKE A HARD RIDE (1975)- 6 (rewatch)
BOSS NIGGER (1975)- 5 (not too great blaxploitation western that could have used a bigger budget)
A MINUTE TO PRAY, A SECOND TO DIE (1968)- 6 (good spaghetti- good cast- but needed a much better score)
CHUKA (1967)- 8 (good western with a great cast)
SAVAGE GUNS (1971)- 3 (poor spaghetti western)
RED SUN (1971)- 5 (not bad but not good- Bronson, Mifune and Delon deserved better)
THE SONS OF THE GREAT BEAR (1966)- 6 (my first German western)
DJANGO THE BASTARD (1969)- 8 (excellent Spaghetti western)
MAN OF THE WEST (1958)- 9 (excellent Anthony Mann western)
THE HILLS RUN RED (1966)- 6 (average revenge spaghetti western)
SHALAKO (1968)- 6 (better than I’d read- solid)
AND GOD SAID TO CAIN….(1970)- 6 (fascinating spaghetti western)
ADIOS, SABATA (1970)- 8 (great spaghetti with Yul Brenner)
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Along with all the seasonal TV specials I got to see some really good movies of very different vintages in the final moth of 2009. The two biggest and best surprises were the James Cagney pre-code film PICTURE SNATCHER and the wonderfully sleazy Werner Herzog BAD LIEUTENANT film. Both were kind of scummy and well done with a positive but slightly dark ending. Good stuff. Also, 2009's streak of brilliant animated movies continued with FABULOUS MR. FOX ranking very well with CORALINE, UP and 9.
SURROGATES (2009)- 6 (pretty good sci-fi with an easy to figure mystery element)
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938)- 7 (good version if too short for my liking)
ROMULUS AND REMUS (1961)- 8 (a really good peplum recounting the founding of Rome –Gordon Scott and Steve Reeves in the same movie!)
THE GIRL FROM RIO (1969)- 5 (colorful, silly fun that could have used more budget or time spent on a good idea or two)
1941 (1979)- 9 (rewatch) (still a truly fun, completely scattered, over the top comedy gem)
FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009)- 9 (excellent Dahl adaptation)
TOWER OF THE SCREAMING VIRGINS (1968)- 8 (fantastic Euro-trash period adventure with a big dollop of sleaze)
THE BLACK KNIGHT (1952)- 3 (poorly scripted ‘Knights of the Round Table’ film with Alan Ladd sleepwalking through the title role)
THE BOX (2009)- 3 (I give up on Richard Kelley)
EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980)- 3 (Joe D’Amato’s sloppy porn/horror)
PICTURE SNATCHER (1933)- 7 (Cagney at the top of his game in a pre-code gem)
SORCERESS (1982)- 3 (Jack Hill’s last and least film)
PLANET 51 (2009)- 6 (surprisingly good animated sci-fi film)
SCROOGE (1970) - 9 (rewatch) (near perfect musical version of the Christmas perennial)
SCALPS (1987)- 6 (very late spaghetti western)
TORCHY BLANE IN CHINATOWN (1939)- 6 (5th TB movie is a fun entry in the series)
ASTRO BOY (2009)- 6 (fun version of the character)
THE DISEMBODIED (1957)- 5 (OK jungle/voodoo tale with Allison Hayes vamping it up)
SH! THE OCTOPUS (1937) - 3 (lame comedy/mystery)
THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS (2009) - 8 (brilliant black comedy)
LICENCE TO KILL (1989)- 6 (rewatch)
AVATAR (2009)- 7
OPEN SEASON (1974)- 7 (harsh, mean spirited DELIVERANCE style thriller with a great cast)
KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962) – 6 (Toho rarely disappoints)
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2009)- 7 (effective little chiller)
FIRE MONSTERS VS. THE SONS OF HERCULES (1962)- 7 (really fun peplum)
NEW YEARS EVIL (1980)- 4 (silly but interesting slasher)