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An interesting take
Wow, 1990, and they had a prototype self driving electric car with satalite media. Not bad. Spoiler note. details ahead, watch the film.
My gripe, The monster/creation did not have to die. big error of moral judgement, but then Dr Buchanan played by John Hurt would not acknowledge a moral code derived from the Bible that he seemed to both distain and ultimately embrace. . Sentient intelligent beings must be respected while being socialized and make amends for past actions. The movie was uneven in seeking a proper balance between a high concept sci fi tale, and a horror movie franchise. opting to add gruesome bloody horror effects expected in a Rodger Corman production, I found it somewhat diminishing of an interesting science fiction conundrum. Handsomely presented, Appropriate music soundtrack and scores of extras and period costumes serve as an impressive backdrop. The story becomes a bit muddy when, in the alternate universe, the author and her ficticious protagonist both exist. Otherwise, a good watch. seven and a half out of Ten monster stitches. .
Go Peter go
There it is, this reviewers childhood dream. Manifest as The Little People" Yes to the adolescent, size is power. and to be as awesomely huge as Peter Craig playing Joe Maross and his fellow astronaut Fletcher played by Claude Atkins. Are huge visitors. It's the size factor, A thousand feet tall. I too would want to stay to rule this tiny world. It would be a solo gig. Alas it ends too soon.
Disturbing in the best way
I recently saw the movie" Hereditary", Written and Directed by Ari Aster. It being Halloween, I was in the mood for a scary movie, and I had heard that Hereditary was scary. At the outset let me say, it was not scary, most of the time. It was however harrowing. Very few films have been able to resonate and stick with me after the credits scroll. Subtle spoiler alerts ahead, no specifics.
That this movie is listed under the horror category is a moot point, The film is an examination of family dynamics, from an intensely personal perspective. That the film evolves into the horror format at the conclusion does not rob it of its power. There are hints abounding, unsettling touches throughout. The use of color in the Palette, The music and sound design. And all the while the events spiral deeper into depression.
What truly rises this movie above the standard franchises, is the brilliant acting, and the razor sharp dialogue, The unparalleled intensity present, even in the relaxed moments. The top performance here belongs to Toni Collette, playing the Mother, Annie Graham; A talented Artist and mother Her art form is Scale Models. Interiors richly detailed. They take up most of her upstairs studio workshop.. She is under pressure about an upcoming show.
Her husband is a warm and caring father named Steve, played by Gabriel Byrne. Aside from being a rational voice, I was never sure of his profession. Their oldest child Peter, played by Alex Wolff, has his normal time at his high school, the only time, one senses that he is comfortable, particularly when smoking weed with his friends. The events at the home however, leave him shell shocked. I found it very tough to watch this young man become undone. Then there is the youngest child, and a pivotal role, acted stoically by Milly Shapiro, playing a nine year old. Annie's daughter Charlie. She displays artistic talent, like her Mother, she is also a very quiet and introverted child. Seemingly living in a world of her own. Shapiro handles the complex role and plays with understanding beyond her years.
From the start, the significance of the Mothers models as analogous to the real world is apparent. It seems like a Wes Anderson touch; The opening credit camera pans through the house in miniature. it is a tour of the Graham household. The pan ends up in the bedroom where the figures are real. Befitting the somber nature of the movie, the story begins with a funeral. Annie's mother has just died. Everyone is grieving save Annie, who confesses she had no love for her Mother. Throughout the movie Annies honesty is up front. She is given to long and revealing monologues, that delve deep into the characters persona with a passion reached only in the likes of a Bergman movie.
The script is brilliant and the words ring true, they sting, but resonate. Toni Collette is riveting and due an award for her performance. I should also like to mention a side role, Ann Dowd, as Joan, a lady Annie meets at a bereavement group. Ann Dowd endows her character with such warmth that one could easily relate to her, her benign reaction to a séance, is played like someone who has just been saved. Her offer that Annie try it at home, however has sinister undertones, Such is the craft of this film, It is a nightmare after all, complete with disquieting images and unsettling events.
Yes, there are the elements of the supernatural, A book or incantations that her dead mother left hidden in a box of belongings, A makeshift séance, Annie is prone to sleepwalking and suffers Dali like visions of ants and corpses. The films conclusion comes, but without much respite; Just an explanatory visual replacing verbal exposition. It does not quite match the emotional levels the movie previously attained. There is one moment in the film that absolutely devastated me. You will know the one. This does not happen to me often in a movie. It is a credit to the Director and his skill. The editing is exceptional, by all means watch Hereditary at your own emotional risk.Nine out of Ten intense stars.
The Flesh Eaters (1964)
This is problematic, the movie frequently suffers from good writing by Arnold Drake, and good acting by the ensemble cast. Mark my word, It's a bad exploitation movie that came out of the early sixties. One forgotten by the books, one that surprises and exceeds expectations that are not set too high, anyway; ( Spoiler alert, I will be talking plot details).
It is watchable. and seemed serious in intent, in spite of the rampant cliche's' a no name cast that works earnestly to overcome the cardboard characters they represent. and a low, low budget. Surprisingly it works,
Barbra Wilkin and Rita Morley start the ball rolling, as "The star of stage and screen" Alcoholic actress, Laura Winters, played by Morley, and her smart personal assistant played by Wilkin, They decided to take a flight to their next destination through a storm, they enlist the "tough as nails" all American pilot Grant Murdock, played by Byron Sanders. The plane is grounded on a small island, due to the tropical storm. There they meet the shifty eye'd marine biologist Peter Bartell, played by Martin Kosleck. All is not as it appears, and Bartell has a nasty history behind him. He turns out to be a Nazi in hiding, still doing research on a deadly organism, the Flesh Eaters of the title. Enter into the scene, the obligatory fall guy, A Gilligan like hippy "Omar" played by Ray Tudor. creating a "Maynard Krebbs" type figure, in the middle of a grim horror show. On occasion Ray gives his character a flash of insight, one wishes the writer had made more of it. The Acting all around is decent. Even good. Rita Morley steals the show. Sander's, plays the pilot with a rock jaw, and a nose for suspicion. Also an anger streak, but still somewhat slow in catching on. But here, the Villein is a real monster. He not only knows about the monsters, he is responsible for them. No big surprise. The cinematography is clean, lots of outdoor shooting. and the film is well directed by Jack Curtis, this was his first and only directed movie. A decent effort. Now then, something that I noticed that confused me. Here is the big spoiler alert.
In the big fight at the end. The bad guy is finally fighting it out with the good guy, the good guy is winning and has the bad guy, in a black divers suit, pinned. then the bad guy flips the good guy, into the tide of the killer flesh eaters. I think to myself, "Wow, that was an unexpected twist", now the only two survivors are the bad guy, and the smart girl. But wait. The good guy wasn't killed. What ? I went back and viewed it twice.same conclusion, The good guy and the smart girl kill the monster. This was the cosmic goof of all time. Even showing the good guy in a light diving suit, after his "death scene", one that he was not wearing before, does not save the skewed continuity. Too bad the writers could not come up with a good reason to explain it. I can only assume leaving it as an enigma was the directors choice. A much better then expected little movie, I would give it Seven out of Ten "Clean to the bone" Stars.
I'll Follow You Down (2013)
If we could make it better
Very nice, an adult tale of time travel, "I'll Follow You Down" 2013 Written and Directed by Richie Mehta, and staring Haley Joel Osment and Gillian Anderson/ Spoiler alert ahead. well worth watching, give it a shot. Ever wonder what would happen if you changed a critical event in your life. Of course you have, its a basic time travel theme.
This film starts with the disappearance of A brilliant scientist and loving husband and father. The twelve year aftermath full of heartbreak and fears, culminates with a clue to the missing fathers whereabouts. He took a trip back in time to meet Einstien. but never made it home. Mugged and murdered in the past. A situation the now much older son seeks to correct. He figures out his dad's plan, and in turn seeks to go back to warn his father. The movie is long on emotion, The questions it raises are valid.
The movie lacks car chases, explosions of any kind, zero special effects. nor epic vistas, battles or aliens. Its ending packs a punch just the same.. Well acted all around. Unexpected thumbs up. I had not heard of this one.Be aware, It is slow paced.and anyone expecting thrills, should most likely look elsewhere. However if you are looking for a well told of how we cope with life, this gets Eight our of Ten "making things right", Stars
Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
Needs a better name
Spoiler Alert, Plot details discussed.
OK Coboys and Alines, very funny. like in Cowboys and Indians. I was not exactly blown away by the title. What blew me away was the first glorious shot. The cinamatography was just excellent; Wide screen and glorious, yet capturing the drama of the graphic novel visual power, ,Matthew Libatique captured the sweep and glory of New Mexicos grandest landscapes. Likewise appropriate was the fine score, reminiscent of Elmer bernstiens western sagas. Here the composer is Harry Greyson-Williams. Director Jon Favreau pulled all the elements together and created a grand but overlooked gem. As strange as the premise is, it is remarkably successful in blending the genera''s of Westerns and Science Fiction.
The narrative is strange, but the star power is stellar, We watch two pros at the top of their game. Daniel Craig is the lead, a gunslinger named Jake Lonergan, awakening in the deep desert, with an iron wrist cuff. He also has amnesia and no recollection of who he is. To make matters worse, he is about to be robbed and killed by three armed bandits. The movie quickly establishes that Craig's character is not to me messed with.
The Town of Absolution was built out of the vast landscape, A small town with the Saloon, jailhouse and Main-street. The good Sheriff John Taggeart, played by Kieth Carradine, The doc, who runs the bar with his hot blooded wife,is played by Sam Rockwell. Abagail Spencer and Olivia Wilde fill the female leads. The Villan here is the wealthy land Barron, Woodrow Dolarhyde. played with rugged vigor by Harrison Ford. Throw in about forty outlaw armies and the Apache nation and you have a whole solid fighting force to defeat ? what ? The western setting and mind set finds the flying machines that resemble robot dragonfles, as well as the malevolent creatures as demons. they have no other context to comprehend the invaders, who are here, looking for gold and plunder.
The creatures are convincingly portrayed as ugly things with grotesque limbs that erupt from their hideous bellys. Here I had to take issue, the creators of the technology could no way be represented by this brutish pack of hunters. Where is their science. They have advanced technology but act like barbarians. There is no way a pack of cowboys and Indians could defeat them. unless. they had an inside lead, This is where the character Ella, the mysterious, played by Olivia Wilde. She is also a stranger to our planet, and knows how to defeat the evil invaders.
The film builds wonderfully to the splendid climax that gives you maximum bang for your buck. thanks to the effects folks at Industrial Light and Magic. So what did I not like, Only one thing, the weak title. Hey guys, re release it but call it, "The Sorrowful Saga of Gunslinger Jake". or "Gunslinger Jake and the Demons". or "Western Spaces". anything but Cowboys and Aliens. This gets eight and a half "bravo for pulling it off" Stars out of Ten
The Terror Within (1989)
I am taking about "The Terror Within, 1989, A Roger Corman Production. Spoiler Alert. I will be talking about the plot, This movie has the iconic George Kennedy as the senior lead. A role well suited to the veteran Sci Fi ace. Here he leads a scientific exploration group in a post apocalyptic world. Along for the ride are the usual staff: From the grunt workers to the top. The cast,:Andrew Stevens as David, Starr Andreeff as Sue, Terri Treas as Linda, and a handful of others, go through their actions in earnest, Imagining themselves, I suppose, in a bigger budget production, where they are not terrorized by a guy in a rubber suit. Lord they do try,
The picture looks good, all production values on the mark, the writers have a tendency to repeat sequences, things are done in pairs, search the lower decks, " is the baby human?" let's split up" Don't leave the control room, The flaws are breath taking,
The plot takes a "Ten Little Indian" turn by midpoint, I am sorry, so sue me, but the monster on the soundtrack reminded me of the great Supy Sales's, off stage pet, "Black Tooth" Blarh ! So the crew is wiped out by reason of stupidity, The rubber guy got them and they did not even shoot their weapons or blow their whistles, All very entertaining, Take the kids, they won't get the "pregnant part" anyway. Real popcorn thrower. I give it Three out of Five "short of a hoot." Stars
Spoiler Alert, talking about The Rift, Directed by Dejan Zecevic of Serbian background. What we get are stabs (Literally) of images and sounds that seem to pay homage to other directors. Kubrick of, 2001 gets his nod in the presence of a mysterious Moon man who turns up anywhere. The movie jumps from the "mystical" to the "commando" mode at the drop of a helmet. Another director who's works were drawn from here would be Andrei Tarkovsky, The Russian. The moody unworldly cabin with its death defying secret, (for real) is straight out of," Stalker" There were the good parts , interesting ideas, and also also the slasher stuff. After all, you have to have a villain.In this case the gung=ho squad leader, John Smith played by Ken Force who by the end, goes on a killing spree.
. The film takes a "Close Encounters" revelation in the closing reel, Kicking in the mystical, religious, political, and international reaction to the bigger story here, I would say Seven out of Ten"What does it all mean?" Stars.
The Last Push (2012)
Long way home
Here we have Astronaut; The Last Push, (2012) Directed by Eric Hayden who also wrote it. It runs 85 long minutes and covers a three year period. Spoiler Alerts I will be talking about this film.
First of all, Thanks for the terrific quality, Superb. What we have here is basically a one man show. The man being Astronaut Michael Forrest played by Khary Payton. His partner dies early, and shows up in flashbacks. Now he gets to talk to Mission Control's Bob Jenson, played. by Brian Baumgartner. The mission is to Europa, to visit Seaworld. However when things go south, it is a journey to get back to the Earth, from Venus. They were going to use Venus as a sling shot to gain speed to get to Jupiter. OK, maybe. What it turns into, is an exercise in isolation and tedium. Three years to get from Venus back to Earth, as the mission is aborted. The following year (2013) the movie Europa Report was released, It had a better ship, and a bigger crew, and ultimately was a better movie.
This movie deals with the effects of Isolation, You have to give Khary Payton credit for giving us someone interesting to look at, almost full time. He reminds me of Obama in looks, his mood is almost perpetually dour, but living in cramped quarters, with little to do but mend the ship, and survive and go through isolation hallucinations to maintain our interest. A tall order.
Repeated shots of exercise, sleeping, eating, and pooping are the framework this story is hung upon. The technical failures, each one life threatening, must be tended to, The claustrophobia is oppressive, There is not even a window to look out of.
The effects are good. Only when the ship is within arms length of Venus, does a sense of wonder display itself. The music. simplistic and repetitive complements the dreary hours that make up a three year journey. Only swelling from the bland four note format, to a grander tonality as the views of Venus are revealed.
Taking a final cue from movies such as the 1936 Things to Come, The movie strives for the Heroic note to end upon. Concerning mankind's drive to the stars, "For man, no rest and no ending..." We watch as the Astronaut virtually takes on a suicide turn to resume the aborted mission. He did not have to. I give this one Six out of Ten "Miles to go before I sleep" Stars.
Lost Woods (2012)
Not your average Yetti
Talking about the movie Lost Woods, 2012 co directed by Nathan Eilering and Phillip Ellering. Phillip also co wrote it with Joey Brown, who also stars in it. Spoiler Alert; I will be talking about plot details, If you can see it first do so, then come back and see if I'm close. My initial reaction is leaning toward the positive, It was redeemed by a number of factors. However before it was redeemed, it came very close to loosing it. It's premise at first resembles a grand cliché. Five friends go out into the wilderness, out of contact with anyone, and meet a Sasquatch. The undying monster. They are picked off one by one.
Here the five friends are Darrin, played by Joey Brown, who wrote this story. the vulnerable member of the group. Garrett Vander Leun plays Warren, the intellectual one, dark rim glasses. The congenial Lucy is played by Nina Brissey, She's the only girl on this trip. Phillip Ellering who co directed this plays Rey, the leader, outdoors-man, and survivalist. Lastly, the Comic book, zoned out, long blond haired and most outrageous of character goes to Nathan Ellering as George who again co wrote this story, . Throw in a pair of country boys, and a beast with glowing eyes, and you got the elements in play. How can such a setup succeed? First film it beautifully with pristine wilderness backdrops. This Cinematographer Lance Kuhns does very well, There is care in the color palette used here. the sign of some thought in the production values, Here the typical "Kids running through the woods in panic" seem less typical, even though almost every character has a chance to run, they are all filmed to cinematic effect, and are interesting to watch, the percussive score by Cody James and Jayden Lewis punctuate the action. Well done,
The Actors obviously have a lot invested here, as they were all co writers or directors, The closeness in a working situation, is reflected in the camaraderie displayed by the characters they play. Friends of many years. Friends with issues. This lifts the players out of the "stock" role they are assuming. This is a difficult relationship to convey, yet it comes off well, most of the time. Then there is the monster. The first shots of the man beast are unsettling, The viewers are given the usual shadowy figure in the brush, but even when the beast is full frontal, it is somewhat convincing, It has a ape like face, but is built like a woolly Hercules. A movie like this can stand or fall on the credibility of the creature, does it look convincing, does it act convincing. Yes and No, A big guy in a suit, Not alien enough to be a Predator type creature, but big with glowing eyes, and an invulnerability to bullets as well as an ability to leap through the wooded terrain. Did I mention that it was also seemingly invulnerable to any attempts on its life. On the other hand, it does not hesitate to brawl fist to fist with one of the leads. It hunts all humans, but has poor vision. Nor does this beast smell nice. When I discovered that the beast was indestructible, I figured the movie lost any credibility it gained with the fine acting. Likewise was my feeling when I contemplated the "ten little,Indian" plot, I was not eager to see these guys get knocked off. and yet even in the inevitable plot line, they were able to make it interesting.
To be sure there were some major flubs. One male bonding scene for example, would not have rung true even if Shakespeare wrote it, and worse, it was out of place, nearly killing the pacing, Even the stalwart of horror films convention, the, celebration after killing the beast, followed by the revelation that the beast is not really dead. is put in play, For some reason, it works. allowing the final victory conclusion. There are more than a few questionable plot holes, How did the one who got carried off survive? How did the dog survive? What the heck was the issue with the kid and his Pop? What are they target practicing with full bottles of beer? Big mistake. All manner of goofs, yet somehow it all pulls together and the ending is convincing bordering on satisfying. It is easier do give up the notion of the creature as a ape man type entity, and start to recognize it as a malevolent alien, empowered by negative forces and black smoke. Then it starts to make sense. And the conclusion is satisfying redeeming. Four out of Five" Indie does Sasquatch", Stars.
This Island Earth (1955)
Many thanks for the superb print. The Technicolor process was breath taking. This Island Earth 1955, a Universal International release Was Directed by Joseph Newman, Screenplay by Franklyn Coen, from a story by Raymond Jones. Spoiler Alert; Plot details will be discussed: Its a Classic that rarely gets screened. If you have the chance to see it, do so.
The Film stared Rex Reason as Dr Cal Meacham, a hard boiled, jet flying Nuclear Scientist. His Lady associate Dr Ruth, played by Faith Domergue, looked sensational. looking less sensational yet heavily made up, is the mysterious Exeter, played by Jeff Morrow. He's the one who sent Cal, the equivalence of an integrated circuit in the fifties, or in this case a Super resistor. Let us not forget that it was 1954, a year before this film was made, that the newly invented Transistor went into production.
I was seven in 1955, This was the movie my parents would not take me to. but I do recall the Bug Eyed Monster on the movie poster. It became iconic for the genera , copied with variation in Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957) and Mars Attacks Playing cards. 1994, and Tim Burton's movie (1996) The other iconic image was the flying saucer, up till this movie, the subject of cheesy special effects. Starting with the movie, "The Flying Saucer" (1950). Here we get an attempt at making it more than just a Frisbee an attempt to make it a interstellar vessel. The Saucer here was to be out done one year later with MGM's "The Forbidden Planet, released in 1956.(a better movie for many reasons).
I recall ordering and receiving the paperback This Island Earth, before I saw the movie, at a revival theater in NY, The book impressed me, particularly in the opening chapters where the Doctor puts together his first Interocetor. There was a craze of "Build it yourself" products, like quartz radios, and more advanced, tube TV's. I liked the concept of building fantastic machines, over, the later introduced plot line of dictators who follow orders. concept.
The title, "This Island Earth" Seems to want to allude to the "Islands in the Pacific that were used in World War Two. The Pacific islands were used as stepping stones to win the war. But sadly it doesn't manifest itself in this movie that follows a more common B movie theme; "Interplantary war is Hell" Leading to the madly declared "We must re populate on your planet, that we will conquer"
The low budget movie "Killers from Space" 1954 shared more plot points, to This Island Earth, than a copy write lawyer could shake a stick at.
In its attempt to show audiences wonders they had never seen before, This Island Earth breaks more rules of physics in the process. Big explosions in space where there should be no sound, friction flaming the saucer like a marshmallow in space, The movie is special and precious. but it was never meant to be funny, I can not watch this without channeling the spirit of Robin Williams, may he rest in peace. Some where in Mork, is Exeter.
I like the visual presentation even if the intellectual discourse on the nature of insane leaders is weak. The visuals is about travel and adventure. The color sequences cover the rainbow. We get a taste of the animation and Matte work, that would be so impressive in Forbidden Planet. The scope of the plot races to get us there and back again, as expediently as possible. Faith Domergue's form fitting outfit did wonders for the plot. and those poor Mutants got the short end of scary, used in only two scenes. This was the movie to take your kids to. though they might be board with the cover up plot, and the romance stuff.
This is a Nine out of Ten Technicolor Stars.
We Go On (2016)
The movie is "We Go On"(2016) Directed by Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton. Jesse Holland wrote the story and Mitton the Screenplay. Spoiler Alert, I will be talking plot details, I liked it, If you can see it, do so and then read my review.
Strong acting is the trump card here. but there are many high cards in this deck. Clark Freeman plays Miles, a young man who has given over his life to seek proof of "after death" experiences. His Mother played by Annette O"Toole. is overly protective, while her son is such a wreck, suffering from panic attacks he is not even able to drive. They live in LA.
The opening comes across as a Paranormal Search, with the son putting up a large amount of cash to anyone who could show him a true supernatural experience. In Ernest they seek out leads. The Mother plays Myth buster to a slew of convincing but fraudulent response's to Miles' offer. One however, Josephine played by Giovanna Zacarias, might have merit, The director as if in homage to the classic Hollywood conventions of every Polterguiest styled ghost movies, There is always a special medium who is the one, in a hokey garb, who sees the whole picture. Giovanna turns the cliché on its ear, You don't even think about it, watching her perform. Another outstanding performance is by Jay Dunn playing Nelson, a drug addled civil service worker who works by the Airport. Nelson is responsible for the pivotal twist in the movies plot. The theme goes from the Searchers, to the possessed.
I. like the look of this film, shot on location around Los Angeles, without ever hitting anything more than a freeway shot of the city in the distance. None the less it is grounded in location. There was a grit to the story that came off as real, It had the feel of Jacobs Ladder (1990) I like the editing, the build up to the real shocking moments creep up without fanfare, and snap like a mousetrap, The move does not pander to ghost story conventions. The film takes on a "Sixth Sense" feel for its final act. The Director slyly paid homage to the gory "Hellraiser"(1987)as well, with a clever bit of "ghost hunters" exposition. Here, the "surprises" are truly surprising. Good Cinematography, Music and sound and lighting. Four "Keeper's" Stars out of Five.
The Creature Below (2016)
What do you have in your Lab?
Talking about The Creature Below, 2016 Directed by Stewart Sparke, who co wrote it with Paul Butler. Spoiler Alert, I will be talking about the plot and give spoiler details, so best advice, watch it, and then come back and see if I am on Target. Where to begin, Great Procuction values. The modest budget produced satisfactory effects, Lots of naked woman, and buckets of blood, Whats not to like? About the story, it starts with Anna Dawson, playing Olive Crown. A work obsessed explorer, virtually selling her soul to explore dark realms. She's going down, with some neat helmet effects, There she meets" it". What is it? the unnamed, but I suspect Cthulhu. Things go amok, and that's the first ten minutes. Next thing you know we see the same woman in a completely different light, Her loving boyfriend Matt Gardiner, played with charm by Daniel Thrace. She has a visit from her dear sister, Ellie, played by Michaela Longden. Her Pal shipmate who saved her life, and the Brutal Lead Wronged captain Dr Fletcher, ,played by Zachary lee. Fine acting all around, well and good, until, It turns out to be a Monster in the basement movie,, with violence murder and Madness above all.
The film vexed me, It follows plot lines we have seen before, the "simple experiment goes awry". Throw in the "Morphing blood Sucking baby to grown up" monster. A bit of raped by a monster, and a touch of Rosemarys Baby. The poor actors had to make the best of sometimes inane plot turns, As it turns out, it ended better then I expected.
About the monster, since that is what makes or breaks a film, Either for budget concerns, or plot points, we seldom get a glance of the monster, we see a inky egg, and after that, the terrible cliché of rubber tentacles pulled behind objects when spotted, all the while a cooing with baby monster sounds. Then there are the Feed Me scenes, I swear its true, that is exactly a tip of the hat to Mushnick. The Ten Little Indian plot device was wearing thin, when her sister, who heard all and saw all, saves the film. Entertaining, gore with discretion, over the top At the expense of some actors who gave it their all. Eight out of Ten black inky Stars.
Monsters: Dark Continent (2014)
Talking about Monsters: Dark Continent (2014) Directed b y Tom Green, who co wrote it with Jay Basu. I very much liked the original Monsters, and looked forward to seeing this entry. In many ways it is like the first film; Both put you in a close to the action by way of the characters. Both involve journeys into the Infected Zones, Both have a sequence of Awe at the fantastic beasts. There are many in this version. There is where the similarity ends, This is a soldiers point of view, and this is a war film.
Given a tight group of street buddies, from Detroit, We are introduced to the guys, Johnny Harris, Sam Keeley, Joe Demise are the leads. We get their camaraderie in scenes that unfold much like in "The Deer Hunter" The actors here are all dead serious, and tough, As are the characters they play. The Mission is to keep the insurgents down while hunting the huge monsters. The scenario switches to the Middle East. Wonderful location shots abound. The look of the film turns to Ridley Scott's "Blackhawk Down". The sound work is awesome. What starts out for the soldiers, as a shooting gallery game, turns dead serious when they are fired upon. The subject of the Insuergents treads on thin Ice. Parallels can be drawn from the current world scene, and although I do not buy the argument that our military would bomb civilian areas, to inflict harm on the Monsters, the "Oppressed people fighting back" argument mirrors current events. At one point in the film, one of the leaders states that we are there to battle the insurgents first, then the Monsters. People killing people.
The monster design is wonderful, the creatures seem to have evolved into many various forms, from a pit bull sized street beast, to a graceful horse like runner, who's heard sweep the dessert sands, running faster than jeeps. The huge beasts are wonderful constructs, with no recognizable features, but familiar in their movements. In truth the monsters are secondary elements. The high drama and fear and pain come from the battles with the insurgents. Madness and anger dominate and cloud reason. Innocents are killed. and therein lies the true tragedy here. The loss of friends. This is a thought provoking and intense film experience. Do not expect to have a good or easy time here.
All the technical aspects were spot on. The dog barking off to the side sounded like it was in my room. Some epic, but understated long shots. I found this a sadly overlooked but well done movie. . Eight out of Ten Gritty Stars.
Knucklebones, Directed by Mitch Wilson, who also wrote it, was released in 2016, it stars Julian Jean, and Tom Zembrod and Katie Bosacki, and a handful of other victims, um, players. Spoiler Alert : plot details are given.
After an ambiguous opening sequence featuring Nazis, and Tits, it jumps to another unrelated bit of violence in some kind of textile plant. Jump cut to the present. You can recite the dialogue because you have heard it so many times before;
"Hey I know of a deserted factory where people were murdered, lets grab
a few beers, and some chicks, and spend the night there".
"I don't feel good about summoning a demon, but OK, what the hell". And on and on. One knows that five people visiting that night are not going to be enough. Throw in the wrecking crew, and the cops. Got to get the body count up there. and more Tits, while we are on it.
Yep another wise cracking worm faced demon, doing his best Robert England impression. played by Tom Zembrod. Another suicide inclined jilted lover Julian, who survives. No one to root for here, really, On the Plus, it was technically competent, good production values, well lit, and the gore seemed to be produced as practical effects. I give this Four 'same 'ol song, Stars out of Ten. You want to see a real imaginative, demon conjuring movie? try Lo, 2009. directed by Travis Bets.
We're talking about, "Aberration, A 1997 movie, Directed by Tim Boxell, and Written by Scott Lew, and Darrin Oura. Spoiler Alert, I will be talking about it, watch if you like, it is entertaining to a point. Then come back and see if I'm on target. There use to be something called "camp". This movie defines it. Suffice to say that my favorite actor was Merlin the Cat, The small but earnest cast tried their best with the comic book dialogue they were given.
OK the story, Talking about targets, Our lady with a shady past, Amy Harding played with spunk, by Pamela Gidley, is one sharp shooter, unlike the dorky collage student, who talks to himself a lot, Played with evolving dumbness, by Simon Bossell as Marshall Clarke. The lad is clearly blinded by Science. These are the main players the rest are just the usual lot of victims, save for the Macho Ex boyfriend that she stole fifty grand from. Uri Romanov played by Valerie Nikolaev. Playing it like he was from another movie. Like a sharpshooter in a gallery arcade Only in this movie they got him shooting pop out rubber lizard heads. No kidding, see these things are suppose to be mutant geckos. To spice things up, they are evolving defenses by the minute. Yep unkillable. Even with Amys amazing twenty one shooter. Mashall is no slouch himself with his thirty seven shooter shotgun,
The movie got everything you want from a low budget production, fitting all the used plot devices they could on a shoe string, and a "figure it out as we go", attitude that dares to take every cliché to heart. Start with the obligatory Bath scene, where Amy is directed to do everything she can, not to hear the monster in the room, want More? Lets see, the Hunter looses his dog, How long will the cat last? too bad,
We get a lot of stomping eggs, shades of "It", They make disgusting squishing sounds, It will drive some fetishist crazy
We also get to see them drive and breakdown twice, in a snowstorm; blinding one moment and clear in the next shot. Keep these guys away from cars or trucks, every one they touch goes Boom. The cinematographer fancies himself working on far more artistic endears The stark whiteouts which is impressive the first time, is repeated eight times throughout the film, likewise the knocking down furniture looking for the rubber tails, three times. The creatures are equal opportunity biters, everybody gets bit. What if it spits in your eye, but you are wearing glasses? You take em off. Lots of Hokey fun here I would give it a, gets tiresome; Six out of Ten ("Oh no, they killed my cat") Stars.
two paws up, and ripe for parody, Kept waiting for the lead to throw the stick, and have the monster fetch it. or maybe have it roll over on its back for a belly rub. Not a bad put together little venture, talking about the oddly titled, Humongous, 1982, Directed by Paul Lynch and written by William Gray. Spoiler Alert, plot details gloated over.
Honestly the title has pornographic implications that have nothing to do with this movie. Nothing about the title has anything to do with this movie. One of the critics aptly described the group of young, victims, I mean actors as resembling a scooby-do adventure. feuding Brothers Eric and Neil played by David Wallace and John Wildman, take the boat out with Sister Carla played by Janet Baldwin, and two more young friends Donna and Ida, played by Joy Boushei and Shay Garner, add one more shipwreck victim and you have the hapless crew. shipwrecked on Dog island. The music score by John Mills Cockell is quirky Good production values, adequate sound and lighting.
backstory setup, woman raped, killed rapist who was attacked by dogs, women gives birth to murderous man dog mix?. Chase kids around island. arf. some gore, You could do worse. Two paws up out of five.
Wheres the Monster?
Ballet, Mien Fuhrer ? 1958 " Electronic Monster" that sounds a heck of a lot scarier then the original title, "Escapement". Directed by Montgomery Tully, and David Paltenghi. and written by Charles Erick Maine. The quirky film could also have been titled, "the Adventures of Jeff Keenen", played by the rugged guys guy, Rod Cameron, "Insurance inspector" a hard boiled investigator, who use to be in love with a sweet dame, that he walked away from, Ruth Vance, played by the sexy Mary Murphy. Now she got herself hitched up to the Megalomaniac Paul Zacon, played by Peter Illing. Some spoiler alert ahead, Actually "Escapement" is a much better title. It would seem to imply the term "addiction". That is the goofy basis of Mad scientist number one, Dr Phillip Maxwell, played by Merideth Edwards. His brainstorm? Cure depression, neurosis, and anti social tenancies, by stimulating the brain with electronic pleasure sensations. A collection of specially recorded sensory stimulation. An electronic "fix" to curb their behavior. All done with tube technology.
How alien it must be to today's generation, to see a scene that opens with a guy at a typewriter, talking on a dial telephone. The wacky electronic effects are immensely irritating, they portend some "evil" about to take place, I can feel the pain of the producer, asking the director to try to make it more scary. Where is the monster? 1954's movie GOG had a real Robot monster. Here the monster is more subtle. and stupid. Well you see, the actor thought he was in a noir cover-up conspiracy film, not really a horror film at all. At ten years old when the film was released, especially under the name Electronic Monster, I would have been bored by the whole talky film. The Brits would tackle the electronic mind control theme again, in the much better, "The Mind Benders" (1963)
The "dream" sequences are an interesting insert, into the whole dull affair, time for the kids to hit the bathroom. Sexy little vignettes, choreographed like a "Moulon Rouge" dance routine. Teddy Catsford is given credit for the special cinematography. Sexy numbers, un-sexy music. We cut to the grand finale, The clichéd Scientist burns down the Lab scene. OK, it delivers, as Mad scientist turns good, and zaps the bad guy before going down with the ship. Throw in the keystone kops, and a demented killer following the bosses orders, and you still have one dull presentation. Movies like this kept the popcorn flying at the matinees. For historic value, I upped the Stars, I give it Four out of Ten "Check out whats happening in the lobby" Stars.
The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)
Liked it, a lot more sensible than the blaring title. Spoiler alert, plot details, ahead, watch the film, enjoy, Talking about "The Earth Dies Screaming" 1964. And so, it does have scary dough eyed walking dead, and silver suited robot troupers, but fact is in the opening credit set up, most everyone died sleeping. Directed by Terence Fisher a master of British horror.
Fisher takes a stab at science fiction, and its not half bad. Intrepid American astronaut Jeff Nolan, played by Willard Parker, is introduced after a silent opening of Train Wrecks, Plane Wrecks, car crashes, and people lying dead in the streets. Spooky today, as back in sixty four. Is he the last man on earth alive ? No, in the first few minutes he meets Dennis Price, playing a very shifty but smooth criminal Quin Taggart. He travels with his lady, Peggy, played by Virginia Field at gunpoint.. Violet played by Vanda Godsel is the Hyper un-smart lady who travels with the good-natured when sober Edgar Otis, played by Thorley Walters, The young pregnant Lorna played by Alice Polk and her beau Mel played by David Spencer. All the Actors do a fine job, and when the script leans toward the relation side of things, it is fertile ground for interpersonal drama. On the bright side, a well produced, well scored mix. Borrowing on the theme of the last survivors on earth, in wake of worldwide everybody drops dead scenario, We have seen it before in classics like The Day of the Triffids, and Robot Monster. Given actors who can play their parts and keep it interesting, this is a worthy cast. Thats the good stuff.
On the other hand, yeah screaming ladies were par for the course; It sold the tickets and made the previews sensational, but did we need the. howling lapses of logic? The woman's roles were written with a disregard for logical survival instincts, can one be so panicky as not to lock a bolted door when being chased by a slow walking robots down the hall? I liked the film, real spoiler alert; so they knocked out the transmitter, now what happens when the mother ship comes to check things out. Seven out of Ten, "Independence day" Stars.
The Cold Lands (2013)
What a refreshing movie experience. I should state what i expect will appear obvious, and that is; I am a fan of the films of Terrence Malick, and Andrei Tarkovski. I am not afraid of long deliberate takes. Spoiler Alerts
The movie The Cold Lands, (2013) was Written and Directed by Tom Gilroy. The plot follows the wanderings of a young boy, about thirteen named Atticus, played by Silas Yelich, Home tutored by his mother, played by Lili Taylor. She schools him to be a caring human, and when she dies suddenly, Atticus takes to the road, not wanting to be sent to a home. Atticus eventually finds refuge in the hands of a benevolent Loner, Carter, played by Peter Scanavino. Not every-mothers role model, a craftsman at Art shows selling his wears and dealing in weed. Looking for work, but mostly self sufficient. Turns out Carter is a man with a good moral code, and honors honesty., Refreshing.
All the production values were excellent, the photography explored the situations. crystal clear visions, and misty nights. Cinematographer Wyatt Garfield, take a bow. Location shooting even in the wilds, the sound design emphasized the noises of silence. I was so surprised, had no idea what to expect. This thoughtful production gets Eight of Ten meandering Stars.
The Collector (2009)
Well that was certainly bleak. Talking about this 2009 release, "The Collector" Not the first movie with this name, I remember the 1965 version with Terrance Stamp and Samantha Egger, a very different movie. This one was capably Directed by Marcus Dunstan, Written by Patrick Melton with the director. Spoiler Alert ahead.
The setup, Arkin, played by Josh Stewart, Needs to raise money to pay off his wife's loan-shark debt. He will return to the Chase family house, and crack their safe. They are a wealthy and decent family.Good people, Mr and Mrs Chase, played by Michael Reilly Burke and Andrea Roth, and their two daughters older Jill played by Madeline Zima and younger Hannah played by Karley Scott Collins. The picture goes south as He finds that the family has been imprisoned by a maniac called, the collector played by Juan Fernandez. (Hence the movies title) They are all captive, and the house has been booby trapped with every nasty sharp and dangerous household items available. Will Arkin succeed in freeing the family? Will Arkin make it out alive?
The thing is, we the viewers care, at first. The production values are fine, the movie is well edited and the action clearly plotted out. We are given a guided tour of the house of horror, with the cruel anticipation that someone will be subject to the traps at a later point in the film. Here borrowing from the violent movie, "Straw Dogs". I continue to watch as the best defensive plans of the protagonists come to nothing. Would that a Krav Maga fighter would take on the "Collector" and put him down. Not to happen; As is the custom in the slasher films that this one is trying to rise above, the killer is as unstoppable as Leatherface, Jason or Freddy. The gruesome scenes made me lower the volume and avert my gaze. I dislike torture for torture sake. I can't fault the movies production values, but I shiver at it's lack of a moral conclusion. reread my opening line. Seven out of Ten "Dashed Hopes" Stars.
The forgotten past
Filmed in Nevada, and released 2011, Ominous is a strange movie. Spoiler alert ahead; it was Directed by Justin Burginzoni, and Written by Sharry Flaherty and scripted by Ryan Neil MicMachim. The set up: Family Man Gavan Callahan, played by Sean Patrick Flaherty, takes his wife Christina played by Elizabeth Purdy, and their three kids; oldest neglected kid, Mitch played by Joseph Anthony Jette, Middle boy Scott played by Nick Wolf and precocious youngest daughter, Young Sarah played by Chloe Brown. Gavan wants to make amends and get the family functioning, This is how the first half of the movie unveils.
On the plus side, there is some handsome photography. Unlike a fairly common faux pas, found in many films of this genera This film is well lit. Even the night scenes allow one to see what is happening. I like when that happens. The acting by the leads, is acceptable. The family is not long in the cabin, when strange things start to occur. Each of the children experience a dark presence, that will eventually dominate the entire action. but you have to wait for that.
Dead Children matching the ages of their living counterparts, inhabit the house. We have seen many spooky dead kids on film, The Ring comes to mind. Still this film maintains a high rating on the over all, "Creep" factor. On the negative side, the score is overbearing and at times redundant. Framing the scare gags in obvious ways; building up to the crescendo, like clockwork with every "jump" scene. The ending is disturbing in many ways, first off dealing with the topic of Mothers who kill their children. A way serious topic demanding a way serious execution, not the fodder for a ghost movie. Also disturbing is my inability to tie the past events with Christina of the present. All these memories were forgotten? Not a great movie, but worth a watch.Seven out of Ten "Creepy Kids" Stars.
Oh my, it's the, Attack of the beast creatures, (1985) Directed by Michael Stanley, and written by Robert A. Hutton. Spoiler Alert ahead. Not long ago, I was trying to define Cheesy, when it came to movies. I think I've got it. This effort might as well acknowledge the Truth in packaging laws, and call itself, Attack of the puppet hunter dolls. OK, the gimmick worked in Trilogy of Terror (1975) so now we have an island full of them.
I have to hand it to this rag tag group of actors, putting their best to make this nonsense, So what have we here? A lifeboat with a handful of survivors, Five guys and Four woman. A usual bland assortment. None of them are schooled in survival skills, nor in self defense. There are the good guys; Robert Nolfi plays John, pals with Case and Phillip, as played by Robert Lengyel and Frank Murgalo, We can tell they are the good guys, they wear ties, halfway through the production. Nobody likes Mr. Morgan played by Robert Furgelusky, No one player memorable, How could they be, given the material they had to work with. I pity the fools. Same could be said for the woman. Underwritten and devoid of personality, save for Mrs Gordon, played by Kay Baily, who everyone likes. The other woman, Cathy and Diane, played by Julia Rust, and Lisa Pac, mostly are called upon to scream and run. Did I mention banal dialogue?
"Look, there goes Bill running down the hill, No, don't Stop" They manage to pull off the non monster sequences, hoping that when it comes down to it. the effects won't look as phony as the toys they have to work with. They spin around with these rag dolls taped on them, and act like they are fighting off a savage attack. I am reminded of Lugosi fighting off the rubber Octopus prop,in a swamp. The gore scenes are blatantly phony. This could be said for all the effects in general, I saw the puppeteers hand manipulating the dolls, The "attacking dolls" are tossed haphazardly at the actors, while the sound artists try to figure out what these little hunters battle cry, should sound like. The effects do not match the look of the dolls, we hear the pitter patter of running feet, and the screechy sounds, none of which seem to fit the action. All the while the synthesized soundtrack by John P Mozzi, tries to find a tune to fit the picture, and fails miserably. . Cavernous sounds well up, Rick Wakeman style, and inappropriately. The organ does what a good soundtrack should not, it calls attention to itself, over the action. So this is cheesy On the plus side, the Acid water was an interesting display of originality, what was it doing here? A similar device was used in "The Life of Pi."(2012)
The film constantly challenges common sense, and in that it is consistent. that is why the film makes compelling viewing. You find yourself wondering why the girls are still wearing jewelry so late in, why the men don't make weapons, or at least carry sticks. Why they don't find a strategy to fend off the attacks, Nothing nunca, none of the above. I give it Four out of Ten "Inane" Stars
Flight to Mars (1951)
Flight to Mars, (1951) Was directed by Lesley Selander, and Written by Arthur Strawn. It was filmed in Supercinecolor, and the print I viewed was clean and bright, if not sharp. This was nifty stuff for a grown up science fiction picture. Destination Moon came out a year earlier, and frankly was much better. This is not so evident at the start of Flight to Mars. It begins well enough. Spoiler Alert, I will be talking about the film. In truth, it seems like the story had two writers, the first influenced by the Science and personalities of those involved in the Mission. Told through the eyes of the Investigative Journalist Steve Abbott Played straight as a hard hitting shot of gin, by Cameron Mitchell, Abbot happened to get in good with the crew of four guys and a girl. The Project Flight commander, Doctor Jim Barker, played by Arthur Franz, and his jilted fiancé, Carol Stafford , played by Virginia Huston. Also on board is a Scientist Doctor Lane played by Jon Litel, designed the craft, and last but not least the groups mathematician and observer Professor Jackson , played by Richard Gaines. Good enough for a start. On the plus side, the musical score was competent, yet somewhat exaggerated in style; cue military music followed by big opening shot fanfare, etc. The ship design was nicely done, and as it turns out, it was so popular that the same ship was used in three other space movies that followed. "Queen of Outer Space (1958) World without End (1956) and the space movie with the stowaway Monster, It the Terror from Beyond Space (1958) So far so good.
On the other hand, Once they land on Mars, it's like another writer took over, one who was more into Flash Gordon. Yes, there are people on mars, and they look like us, and they are costumed in the suits used in the fore mentioned, Destination Moon. They treat us friendly at first, but in the end, want to steal our ship so they can go off to conquer earth. On Mars we meet a varied cast of characters, A kindly council member who defends the earth people, his lovely daughter Alicia Played by Margurite Chapman, who falls for the dashing captain, The bad guys who plot against the Earth people are led by the nasty Ikron, played by Morris Ancrum. Plots against the Earthlings ensue, and only by wits and moxie, do we foil our foes.
A kid even back then might have thought it talky, and boring, once the ship crashes, and they start exploring the Martian habitat. Ooops, it seems Mars is running out of it's resources, and needs to conquer the Earth.
On the plus side again there was some beautiful costume design for the ladies of Mars. and the rumor has it that the movie was shot between five and eleven days.
Consider also the science fiction movie competition it had. Also released in 1951; The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Thing, and When Worlds Collide. Those define Awesome. Mars would have to wait to make a cinematic comeback. Seven very cheesy Stars out of Ten.
The Day Mars Invaded Earth (1962)
After the Body Snatchers
Spoiler alert; Holy Cow, They win! but more of that in a moment. we are talking about "The Day Mars Invaded Earth" (1963) Directed by Maury Dexter, and written by Harry Spalding. A Black and White film. The version I watched was uploaded on You Tube, and who ever did the upload used image Stabilization. This caused much distortion to the otherwise sharp image. The film was well lit and shot, in the old school studio style, There was a minimum of special effects. The California location shooting was impressive, The Rich mansion that served as the background for the story was in fact the Greystone Park and Mansion in Beverly Hills. The acting was minimal and efficient, as was the basic editing.
All things considered, this film had some intelligent thought behind it. For example, it begins with a Mars robotic rover, dropped on mars. It functions for six minutes before it is destroyed. Dr Fielding who designed the robot, and his assistant Dr Spencer are played by Kent Tayler and William Mims. Dr Spencer has taken a weekend off, to visit his wife Clair, played by Marie Windsor, and his daughter Judi played by Betty Beal, and his son Rocky played by Gregg Shank. All is not well at the home-front. It is not just the Doctors neglect of his wife and kids, He is trying to make amends, What is spooky, is that all of the members of the family experience seeing doubles of themselves. These doubles turn out to be quite real, they are energy manifestations of the intelligent life forms that survive on Mars. Even back in the sixties, we realized how hostile an environment Mars could be. The Martians are on earth, to stop the invasion of their world. Although they seem reasonable, their solution to our messing around on their planet, is to kill us off. The doctor learns of this first hand from his doppelganger. All the members of his family have been replicated, and much like the pod creatures in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) their ultimate intent is to take over Earth. This movie has much in common with the Body Snatchers, a much superior film. We only learn of the Martians desire to do away with us, in the somewhat shocking last few minutes.
The film is effective because of how it is underplayed. The Musical score by Richard LaSalle is also old school, and very effective in creating the feeling of unease that this film achieves on such a limited budget. I liked this film, the Scientists acted with intelligence to understand the threat to their planet, but never truly understood the brutality of the invaders. The ending leads us to believe there is not much hope for the people of Earth. Well done, Slow moving by today's standard, it never the less builds to a satisfyingly disturbing conclusion. Eight out of Ten "Obscure but Good" Stars.