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Old 27th Dec 2008, 18:29   #1
Noumenon
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Default 2009 Filmlists

84 Il Divo
83 Up
82 Occhi di Cristallo
81 Bull Durham
80 The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
79 Moon
78 Whatever Works
77 District 9
76 L.A. Confidential
75 Let the Right One In
74 Capote
73 The Collector
72 The Kon-Tiki Expedition
71 La Haine
70 Renaissance
69 Raging Bull
68 The Taking of Pelham 123
67 The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
66 Blindness
65 Push
64 Expelled - No Intelligence Allowed
63 The Exorcism of Emily Rose
62 Die Hard
61 Grand Theft Auto
60 Topsy-Turvy
57-59 The Lord of the Rings I was a bit of a bah-humbugger over the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Obviously they were very good, but I found them quite annoying as well. However, I've been forcing myself to reevaluate things recently (I'm enjoying Lost, for example, never thought that would happen) so, as I'm at my parents right now and as they have all three E x t e n d e d Versions, I thought, what the hell. Knowing my rather picky response the first time round I made a massive effort of disbelief suspension and, of course, I really enjoyed them. There are still things about it I find annoying, but it was easier to overlook them in the moment (I think I only imagined Frodo and Sam consummating their doe-eyed feelings for each other once). Nitpicking aside, it was a pretty amazing achievement; and, if I might be allowed to ram a sprig of holly through the heart of these newly positive observations, at least it means no-one else will feel they can get away with doing a remake. Not for a good few years, at least.
56 Los CronocrĂ*menes
55 Drag Me To Hell
54 Synecdoche, New York ?????
53 Vitelloni
52 The Third Man
51 Defiance ½
50 Inland Empire
49 Cul-de-sac
48
Stardust Memories
47 Exterminators of the Year 3000 , of course
One for Junkmonkey, this. Italio-Spanish Co-Production, filmed in a quarry, dubbed in a cupboard and featuring some hilariously crap exploding models in the closing minutes. Genre? A post-apocalypse water quest-er, complete with a pretends-not-to-care hero, a skinhead villain who insists on rudely calling everybody a "mother-grabber", an unexpectedly bionic sprog looking for his father (and a round of drinks) and a Deus ex Cumulous finale that rather makes you think everyone could have stayed at home and skipped all the killing. I only watched it in case it was the inspiration behind the Fallout series of computer games, which the premise made a possibility. It slightly lacked Exterminators, and since one guy in his fifties used to be an astronaut, the hero remembers petroleum making men rich and everyone drives dirt bikes and late seventies cars, I'm not totally convinced it involved the fourth millennium either. Still, it was this or The Da Vinci Code. It'll probably be that next...

46 Star Trek 90210
45 State of Play ½
44 Network
43 Whirlpool
42 The Day the Earth Stood Still The Klaatu Reeves version
41 Deep Red
1973 Don't Look in The Basement Pure quality
39 Wicked City
38 Tales from Earthsea Ghibli-Lite, but still okay
37 The Handmaid's Tale
36 Mutant Chronicles being unbelievably generous
35 The Sadist
34 Glengary Glen Ross
33 Once Upon a Time in the West
32 The Reader
31 This Is Not A Test
30 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
29 For a Few Dollars More
28 Fay Grim
27 Watchmen
26 Henry Fool
25 The Wrestler
24 Valkyrie
23 Carnival of Souls
22 A Fistful of Dollars
21 City of Lost Children
20 Slumdog Millionaire
19 Hell comes to Frogtown ½
18 Withnail & I
17 Milk
16 Doubt
15 Run Lola Run
14 Religious
13 Gomorra
12 UHF
11 Frost/Nixon
10 South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
09 Equinox
08 Vicky Christina Barcelona
07 Office Space
06 Play It Again Sam
05 All The Boys Love Mandy Lane ...I think
04 Krull ½ to keep it in line with Ladyhawke
03 Changeling
02 Sleeper ½
01 Man On Wire

First viewings in bold, repeats in grey
2008 List | 2007 List

Last edited by Noumenon; 10th Nov 2009 at 0:31.
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Old 27th Dec 2008, 23:20   #2
Colyngbourne
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Col's Film List 2009

Cinema; TV; DVD/Video (bought or recorded); BB = Blockbusters video-hire; not including repeat viewings in a single year.


161. Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - DVD ½ The last film of the year, and perfectly enjoyable.
160. Young Sherlock Holmes - DVD
159. In Bruges - DVD
158. The Princess Bride - DVD
157. It's a Wonderful Life - DVD
156. The Muppet Christmas Carol - DVD Loses a star on DVD for not including the song "When Love is Gone" (which *is* on the VHS video).
155. How the Grinch Stole Christmas - video
154. Constantine - TV Our DVD copy was nicked from the Garage before I ever managed to watch this but now I've caught it on TV, it's rather good; love Tilda Swinton's gender-neutral Gabriel!
153. The Last Samurai - TV
152. Hercules - video ½ Not the best modern Disney but some good tunes.
151. Les Diaboliques - DVD
150. The Wind in the Willows - video (1983) Perfect for Advent Sunday evening.
149. Equus - DVD
148. New Moon - cinema Review here
147. Labyrinth - DVD
146. Dead Again - video Ken & Em back in the day; loved him as Roman Strauss.
145. Ella Enchanted - DVD ½ On loan, thank heaven. Terrible Cinders re-telling. Can't beat Ever After or Disney, I'm afraid.
144. The Pebble & the Penguin - video Old Don Bluth cartoon that has worn its years badly.
143. Aladdin - video ½
142. Regeneration - video
141. Meet Me in St Louis - DVD
140. Porco Rosso - DVD
139. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix - DVD ½
138. Nanny McPhee - DVD
137. Up - Cinema ½
136. Night at the Museum - DVD
135. Shrek the Third - DVD ½
134. Scooby Doo The Movie - video
133. The Castle of Cagliostro - DVD Early Miyazaki; knockabout crime/romance caper on the Mediterranean coast.
132. The Thin Red Line - video ½ Very powerful film on Guadalcanal I've wanted to see for ages. Not particularly focused but just as good despite the lack of a fixed traditional war storyline.
131. An American Tail - video Oh, the "wa-wee"! and "we-wease the secwet weapon!" But....! there are no cats in America.....!
130. Notes on a Scandal - DVD ½ Dench does creepy, but without the grim conclusion of the novel.
129. Emma - DVD (1996) - ½ Lacks some depth and all but eliminates Jane Fairfax but effortlessly captures the social milieu and personalities better than any other version I've seen.
128. Sleeping Beauty - DVD ½
127. The Aristocats - DVD ½ Two-for-one offer on Disney's at the moment...
126. Mulan - video
125. Creation - cinema
124. Moulin Rouge - DVD
123. Richard III - DVD (1995)
122. Richard III - video (1955) - ½
121. Bridget Jones' Diary - video ½
120. Persuasion - DVD ½
119. Shakespeare in Love - video Corny and cameos but well-written;
118. Bram Stoker's Dracula - video
117. Changeling = BB ½ A film that tried to do too many things in one, and did only some of them passably.
116. The Hannah Montana Movie - BB
115. 17 Again - BB
114. Empire of the Sun - video ½
113. The Thomas Crowne Affair - video (1999) ½ I cannot stand Rene Russo.
112. Gods and Monsters - video ½
111. Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes - DVD
110. Legend - DVD
109. No Way Out - DVD
108. L.A. Confidential - video
107. O Brother, Where Art Thou? - DVD ½
106. Fiddler on the Roof - DVD
105. Pygmalion - DVD ½
104. Let The Right One In - BB
103. Quantum of Solace - BB ½
102. Watchmen - BB ½
101. Aquamarine - BB ½ Decent children's film about friendship and growing-up, plus mermaid.
100. Gran Torino - BB ½
99. Just My Luck - BB ½ McFly, Lindsey Lohan, hugely irritating plot - I almost lost my will to live.
98. Corpse Bride - DVD ½
97. Calamity Jane - video
96. Waterloo - video
95. Click - DVD ½ Another film for 13 yr old boys; Adam Sandler vehicle this time.
94. The Love Guru - DVD Dire Mike Myers vehicle; strictly for 13 yr old boys.
93. LotR: Return of the King; extended edition - DVD
92. Ratatouille - DVD ½
91. The Simpsons Movie - DVD
90. Evan Almighty - DVD
89. Big Fish - DVD
88. LotR: Fellowship of the Ring - DVD
87. Finding Nemo - DVD
86. Mr & Mrs Smith - TV
85. Batman Begins - DVD
84. The Saint - DVD
83. Pocahontas - DVD
82. Stormbreaker - DVD
81. WALL.E - BB ½
80. The Duchess - BB
79. Raise Your Voice - BB A Junior Col requested this bit of weepy singing-school drama but a couple of episodes of Britannia High would have been better.
78. Interview with the Vampire - DVD
77. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - DVD ½
76. A Room With A View - DVD
75. Monsters Inc. - DVD
74. The Great Gatsby - video ½
73. Evita - video Oh Antonio Banderas is gorgeous and Madonna doesn't look like herself.
72. Tin Cup - video On a roll with the sporting comedy romances; but I can't bear the country music whimsy nor Rene Russo. (The armadillos are cool though.)
71. Wimbledon - DVD After that five-setter from Murray the other night, Bettany-Dunst tennis fluff.
70. Last of the Mohicans - DVD ½
69. Crash - DVD (2004)
68. Casino Royale - DVD
67. Lilo & Stitch - DVD ½
66. Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - BB Rubbish.
65. Doubt - BB
64. Valkyrie - BB
63. The Last King of Scotland - DVD Seriously tense and creepy. What a gullible fool the doctor was...
62. The Terminator - video
61. Prince Caspian - DVD ½
60. Milk - BB ½
59. Australia - BB ½ This film can't make up its mind what it wants to be, but it delivers on story and colour and all-round entertainment. Part Wizard of Oz, August Rush, Father Goose, and dozens of other influences.
58. Defiance - BB Pretty well done drama of the Bielski brothers doing their partisan thing in Belarus.
57. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - DVD Well, that was great fun after a shaky first fifteen mins.
56. Journey to the Centre of the Earth - BB ½ Perfectly good family entertainment with more Brendan Fraser.
55. Alien - DVD ½
54. The Shadow - DVD The weeds of crime bear bitter fruit... but none so cool as The Shadow!
53. Dog Day Afternoon - video Oh Sonny! Oh Sal! Brilliance all round.
52. Black Narcissus - video
51. Shadowlands - DVD ½
50. Man on Wire - DVD ½
49. Star Trek - cinema This was so much fun; captured e.t. brill about Star Trek.
48. King Kong - (1933) video Still scary after all these years
47. M:I:3 - TV/DVD
46. The Bodyguard - DVD ½
45. Stage Beauty - video
44. Peter Pan - DVD ½
43. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - BB ½ The least enjoyable of the three so far.
42. Inkheart - BB ½ Cutue Brendan Fraser and Paul Bettany metafiction fable.
41. Body of Lies - BB Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, always a good combo; + diCaprio too!
40. Master & Commander: Far Side of the World - DVD
39. Kingdom of Heaven - DVD This one improves on multiple viewings.
38. King Arthur - TV Good stuff with the men, until Keira arrives in her woad to make things daffy and stupid.
37. Twilight - DVD A film which does what every Twilight fan wants it to; the baseball scene and any scene with the Family are the highlights. But two viewings in one day is a bit overpowering. Edit: three viewings in four days is possibly worse...
36. Doctor Who - video (1996) ½ Terrible yet the possibilities were there, and it scared my daughter in true Who fashion (not from its awfulness).
35. Strings - video
34. The Day After Tomorrow - TV
33. Wuthering Heights - DVD (1998 ) ½ Vicious Heathcliff, cute puppy and scary tapping branch on window. (Oh, and hugging a 15 yr old corpse...)
32. Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement - DVD So not my choice of Sunday night movie....
31. Sunshine - DVD
30. Cabaret - video Ahead of a July theatre trip with Wayne Sleep as the MC, the lovely Michael York, and Liza.
29. Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire - DVD
28. Brideshead Revisited - DVD
27. Tess - DVD
26. Queen of the Damned - video Horribly bad but yet curiously good in parts. Review to follow.
25. Con Air - video ½ My younger son loved watching this with me.
24. Slumdog Millionaire - cinema
23. Wilde - video Jude Law at his brattish, colt-eyed best; and stunning Michael Sheen as Robbie Ross.
22. Flash Gordon - video
21. My Best Friend's Wedding - video
20. A Good Year - DVD
19. Die Hard - DVD
18. If The Shoe Fits - DVD ½ Girl Cinderella Eighties madness
17. Bowling for Columbine - DVD
16. Willow - DVD Fabness and entertainment for all the family.
15. High School Musical 3 - DVD Far worse on the small screen than when I first watched and reviewed it!
14. Harold & Kumar Get The Munchies - DVD
13. Wuthering Heights - video (1939) Oh dear! Laurence Olivier just about redeems awful version of classic.
12. Flightplan - BB
11. The Prince & Me 2 - BB
10. American Gangster - BB
9. Far From the Madding Crowd - video
8. August Rush - DVD A study in music & literature (alongside daughter), review here
7. Juno - DVD - actually watched this a week ago. A lot more enjoyable than I imagined.
6. South Pacific - DVD
5. The Full Monty - video
4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - DVD
3. Shaun of the Dead - DVD ½
2. Von Ryan's Express - TV
1. Enchanted - DVD ½
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Old 27th Dec 2008, 23:30   #3
Ang
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Default Re: 2009 Filmlists

1. Australia
2. The Break Up
3. The Fugitive
4. Hairspray
5. Bedtime Stories
6. In Bruges
7. Good Night, and Good Luck
8. The Reader
9. A Bunch of Amateurs
10. Son of Rambow
11. Slumdog Millionaire
12. Doubt
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Old 28th Dec 2008, 0:23   #4
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Default Re: 2009 Filmlists

Faugh!
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Old 28th Dec 2008, 1:15   #5
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Default Re: 2009 Filmlists

2008, 2007

Red = re-watch
  1. Waterworld (1995)
  2. 12 Monkeys (1995)
  3. Sleepwalker (2000)
    Promising attempt at poor man's Lost Highway, let down by a script that seems to say "Fuck it, dream sequences don't have to make sense."
  4. The Alphabet Killer (2008 )
    Slightly The Pledge-style thriller with detective descending into schizophrenia while obsessing over unsolvable case; the film itself descends into standard serial-killer shtick. Pity.
  5. My Name Is Bruce (2007)
    It's Bruce Campbell fighting the patron saint of tofu. What else could you possibly ask of a movie?
  6. Gran Torino (2009)
    Clint Eastwood. Damn.
  7. A Life Less Ordinary (1997)
    Messy plot, unlikable characters... why bother?
  8. The Inner Life of Martin Frost (2007)
  9. An American Crime (2007)
    A little too fond of waving its "true story" status around as an excuse to show torture (been watching The Passion of the Christ, have we?) but... interesting.
  10. Slumdog Millionaire (2009)
  11. Ghost Town (2008 )
    Yes, Gervais is hilarious at times. And there's the occasional slight attempt at adding a different twist to a very very very tired genre. But in the end, it might be a well-made cliché-ridden romantic New York comedy but it's still a cliché-ridden romantic New York comedy.
  12. Land of the Dead (2005)
  13. Gomorrah (2008 )
  14. Dead Like Me: Life After Death (2009)
    Nice to see the old gang again, and even if it feels more like an extended episode tacked onto the series than a movie in its own right, I can't complain about some official closure.
  15. The Wrestler (2008 )
  16. In Bruges (2008 )
    Yeah, it's all a bit overdone and script-room-clever, but tons of fun with just enough tragedy and character moments tossed in to balance it.
  17. Jaws (1975)
  18. Burden of Dreams (1982)
    Werner Herzog is a fucking madman, but what a fucking madman. "Of course, there's a lot of misery. But it is the same misery that is all around us. The trees here are in misery, and the birds are in misery. I don't think they sing. They just screech in pain."
  19. Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008 )
    Futuristic rock opera that tries way too hard to be a Rocky Horror-meets-Saw cult classic. Looks good if you're into the Burton thing, but suffers from lack of humour and crap songs.
  20. Hot Shots! (1991)
    ...really hasn't aged well. And Charlie Sheen, apparently, can play one role.
  21. Airplane! (1980)
    ...has aged pretty well.
  22. Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)
    Heavy on symbolism and imagery, short (sorry) on plot and character; mankind breaks free of its cruel prison and proceeds to destroy and torture. At times disturbing, hilarious or both, but I have a feeling Herzog said much the same to better effect in Aguirre.
  23. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
    Still not sure what to make of this. Anti-colonial criticism, or racist exploitation? The archetypical example of trying to have your cake and slaughter it at the same time.
  24. Teenagers From Outer Space (1959)
    Beware the lobster!
  25. The Faculty (1998 )
    Somehow, I doubt that Robert Rodriguez lists this among his major works.
  26. Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
    Not a great adaptation, but a very nice film in its own right. Truffaut's script - especially the dialogue - limps a bit, but it still gets the job done and the last 40 minutes are just beautiful.
  27. First Spaceship On Venus (1960)
    An East German SF movie based on a Stanislaw Lem story? Incorporating the Tunguska event? With a multi-ethnic cast? Yay! Ambitious and very nicely designed; too bad the dubbing and the DVD transfer are the only two jokes in the whole movie. Supposedly there's a 130 minute version out there that works better.
  28. Watchmen (2009)
  29. Black Sheep (2006)
  30. Bad Taste (1987)
    Peter Jackson's debut is still one of the most fun amateur home movies ever shot...
  31. Meet The Feebles (1989)
    ...and the follow-up has crazed muppets killing each other, but also possibly the cheapest-sounding musical numbers ever.
  32. Life of Brian (1979)
    Hey, it's the Easter movie of choice.
  33. Dark Water (2005)
    Some remakes of Japanese horror movies are actually quite good. Others, like their subject, are dead from the start and then just keep getting stinkier.
  34. Let The Right One In (2008 )
  35. Island of the Dead (2000)
    Why won't someone put Malcolm McDowell out of his misery?
  36. Dead Snow (2008 )
  37. Revolutionary Road (2008 )
  38. The Body Snatcher (1945)
    Having watched the Frankenstein movies more times than I care to count, I think I took Karloff for granted. In this, he's absolutely brilliant. One of the best villain performances I've seen.
  39. One-Eyed Monster (2008 )
    ...No.
  40. Harvey (1950)
    One Jimmy Stewart. There is only one Jimmy Stewart. How did I not see this before? I kept expecting it to turn into screwball comedy, and yet there's Stewart (and Josephine Hull) injecting such urgent humanity into their roles.
  41. Last Woman On Earth (1960)
    Interesting setup (three friends out scubadiving are the only (known) survivors when the world's oxygen suddenly dips, killing everyone) and played surprisingly low-key. It's a little too clunky, too stiffly acted and they accept their situation much too easily; still, not without merits.
  42. The Atomic Brain (1964)
    Interesting idea - old woman hires mad scientist to transplant her brain into a younger body, then starts auditioning young hotties - done extremely poorly, edited with a hacksaw, half the plot explained in voice-overs and so badly paced it makes 60 minutes feel like 3 hours.
  43. The Thing (1982)
    Still one of Carpenter's best shockers. Of course, being a remake of The Thing made after the Thing-inspired Alien makes it look like an Alien ripoff (and it probably is), but there are certainly worse sources of inspiration.
  44. My Fair Lady (1964)
    Saw a bunch of little details I hadn't noticed before. Also became even more convinced that if there's a love story in this, it's between Higgins and Pickering.
  45. Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)
    Truly disgusting movie. Hated that I loved it.
  46. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eight Dimension (1984)
    I have no idea if this is an incoherent mess of a movie or if the Pynchon references are supposed to indicate that it's actually smarter and more complex than it looks. Whatever the case, it's a lot of fun.
  47. St. Trinian's (2007)
    Like a British Bring It On amped up to 11. Really not a very good movie, but there were a bunch of us and we were drunk and what can I say, it worked.
  48. The Princess Bride (1984)
    When I get tired of the Princess Bride, shoot me.
  49. Hoodwinked (2005)
    Surprisingly effective Tarantino-style retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, giving us all four characters' versions. Cheaply but nicely animated.
  50. Red Dawn (1984)
    Ultra-reactionary piece of flag-wavery that makes Top Gun look like Battleship Potemkin. But certainly good for a laugh or ten for lines like "Well, when you grow up... then you'll know these things, Danny. Now get up here and piss in the radiator" and the continuing conundrum of "why the hell are the Russians, Cubans and Nicaraguans so hell-bent on defending a small town in the Rockies, and how can they suck so badly at it if they took LA within a few hours?"
  51. Simple Men (1992)
    I keep meaning to get into Hal Hartley, and I keep finding his films pleasant and occasionally brilliant but also far too artificial and theatrical for their own good. Great soundtrack as always, though.
  52. Mirrormask (2005)
    "Hi, I'm Neil Gaiman. Here's what my mind looks like."
  53. The Last Shark AKA Great White AKA L'Ultimo Squalo AKA Jättehajen - surfarnas skräck! (1981)
    A scene-by-scene ripoff of Jaws that somehow manages to make every scene stink. Quite an accomplishment, and definitely a So Bad It's Good movie. Just check out this scene, for instance. Hilariously bad. "This was no floating chainsaw!" Oh, and the hero is a writer named Peter Benton.
  54. The Man Without A Past (2002)
    Probably the best Kaurismäki film I've seen in recent years. A both bleak and warm Prince Mushkin-style story about a man who, after being beaten within an inch of his life, loses his memory and tries to survive as a homeless man in Helsinki.
  55. Six-String Samurai (1998 )
    Imagine a mix of Desperado, Crossroads and Stephen King's The Dark Tower with katanas and Gretsch guitars. Now imagine it being actually really entertaining.
  56. The Amazing Transparent Man (1960)
    Essentially a one-act play about a criminal forced to sign up for a weird experiment involving nuclear radiation and invisibility. Not very good, obviously, and would have benefitted from being cut down by 20 minutes (it's just over an hour long), but Douglas Kennedy does a good job with the lead role and it deserves props for not just being an Invisible Man ripoff.
  57. Night of the Lepus (1972)
    Essentially Them with giant killer rabbits. And they actually do try. The special effects (mostly rabbits running in slow-mo through miniature sets) are awful and the plot barely hangs together, but they really do try to milk the concept. "Attention! Attention! Ladies and gentlemen, attention! There is a herd of killer rabbits headed this way and we desperately need your help!"
  58. Mr Governor (2008 )
    Or possibly . Not sure. Crosses the line between dull and fascinating so many times I'm not sure where it ends up. It's either a very cynical deconstruction of the cinema verité documentary style and the idea that a camera can show us the truth about those in power, or an utterly pointless documentary. Beautifully shot, at any rate.
  59. Blue/Orange (2005)
    Very obviously a filmed play that tries a little too hard to not be a filmed play, but still, a great little chamber play about two psychiatrists facing off over a patient.
  60. Panic Room (2002)
    Still probably Fincher's least interesting film plotwise - cookie-cutter thriller stuff - but he certainly pulls out all the stops on the visuals.
  61. City Slickers (1991)
    Sometimes I wonder what happened to the mainstream comedy for grown-ups - the kind that was both smart and funny, that had a somewhat serious undertone but played it with a light touch. Then I watched this and I realised what happened: it got boring.
  62. The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
    Deserves praise for actually trying to create real characters. Deserves no praise at all for forgetting that it's supposed to be a horror movie, and for being a vehicle for a complete no-hoper of a Pat Boone wannabe. Seriously, hearing that fucking banjo song once made me cheer for the monster - hearing it twice makes me want to carpet bomb the whole cast.
  63. Ice Cold In Alex (1958 )
    Still one of the best war movies ever made, even if it's dated (the soundtrack, ye gods!) A small character drama set in the shadow of war.
  64. Star Trek (2009)
  65. The Fly (1958 )
  66. Return of The Fly (1959) 1/2
  67. Curse of the Fly (1965)
  68. The Fly (1986)
  69. The Fly II (1989) 1/2
    Round-up post of all five here.
  70. Coraline (2009)
  71. The Remains of the Day (1993)
    Not sure Hopkins is right for the part, and there are some things that work better in the novel, but overall I dare say it's a fine, if slightly drawn-out, piece of cinema.
  72. S. Darko (2009)
  73. The Legend of 1900 (1998 )
    You'd think a 90-page novel couldn't be turned into a 3-hour movie. You'd be wrong.
  74. The Mist (2008 )
    Better in black and white, but still not great.
  75. Don't Look Now (1973)
    Possibly not a completely fair grade, as there's some absolutely fantastic stuff in here, but I just felt it dragged on just a little too long for a little too weak payoff.
  76. Tokyo Zombie (2005)
    The basic plot looks like a Japanese Shaun Of The Dead. The actual execution is unfunny, drawn-out and pointless. One or two good scenes at the beginning and that's it.
  77. Angels & Demons (2009)
  78. Funny Games (1997)
    Why does Michael Haneke hate me this much? What did I ever do to him? Part of me loved it. Part of me won't sleep tonight. Most of me thinks it's a brilliant film. All of me wants to never have to see it again. But I've got the remake on the shelf too...
  79. Rescue Dawn (2006)
    Werner Herzog returns to the jungle in what is by far the least interesting movie of his I've seen. Yes, it's beautifully shot and contains one or two interesting scenes, but for the most part he seems unsure of what to do with the story, and Bale seems to have been cast more for his willingness to lose weight than his acting. Oh well, I suppose it paid the bills for Werner.
  80. Shallow Grave (1994)
    Remember back when Chris Eccleston looked young and Ewan McGrrrregga chose good scripts? Still a great and very black comedy, even if it looks a bit dated.
  81. Encounters At The End Of The World (2008 )
    Phew. Faith in Herzog restored. Seals that sound like Pink Floyd, Antarctic explorers philosophizing, and lone penguins wandering off to certain death. Not quite Grizzly Man great, but a fine piece of work.
  82. Life After People (2008 )
  83. Drag Me To Hell (2009)
  84. Evil Dead II (1987)
  85. New York Ripper (1982)
    Well, Fulci is Fulci and he knows his stuff, but it's hard to swallow the outright misogyny!porn on display here. Unless that's the point. I'm not sure.
  86. Fata Morgana (1969)
    Herzog turns a documentary about a trip to Cameroon into an exploration and deconstruction of the creation myth. Almost a science fiction movie about life on Earth, it drags a bit and tends towards the pathetic at one or two points, but then the final part (which is almost Meaning of Life-ishly satirical) ties it together very nicely. Herzog's starting to find his feet here.
  87. Return Of The Living Dead (1985)
    Still one of the greatest zombie horror comedies ever made, probably even eclipsing Shaun.
  88. Blue Velvet (1986)
    Still one of Lynch's best movies, and gets creepier each time. I'm not sure if there's anyone here who can be called a hero.
  89. The Wicker Man (1973)
    Still one hell of a subversive movie, and probably even got better in light of the completely disastrous remake.
  90. Los CronocrĂ*menes (2007)
  91. Synecdoche, New York (2009)
  92. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life (2003)
    I was hung over, OK?
  93. Nekromantik (1987)
    Well, I suppose you have to give them props for sticking to their guns, and the ending did make me laugh. As the necrophiliac version of Eraserhead, it's not nearly as good as it might have been (even with that premise) but... y'know.
  94. Rebecca (1940)
    Badly dated, but also occasionally brilliant (the opening!) and so far my attempt to re-evaluate Hitchcock isn't up against any huge problems.
  95. The Last Waltz (1978 )
  96. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
  97. Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (2002)
    Essentially the porn version of Jaws 3D, except with no actual porn in it. The ultra-awful CGI, the script, the way most women in the movie don't even get dialogue but just coo like dirty Teletubbies... Hilariously bad.
  98. Gamera The Invincible (1965)
    Well, you can spot the original movie in there somewhere. But sadly, this is the US cut which chops it up and adds a bunch of scenes that only confuse the plot.
  99. Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009)
    Now, see, here's the difference between utter shit like Great White or Shark Attack 3 and Mega Shark: this one actually tries to be cheesy, the others just are. None of them really take themselves seriously, but this one is constantly winking at the audience to remind them of that... and the problem is that it's not funny. It depends entirely on CGI, but it cannot afford CGI and most of it just ends up incomprehensible. The others try to be outrageous; this one knows it's not, but asks us to pretend that it is. But no.
  100. Direktøren for det hele (2006)
    Von Trier's funniest since... well, Riget, I suppose. A businessman has invented a CEO to blame unpopular decisions on, but now he's going to sell the company and so he hires an actor to pose as the CEO and deliver the news. But since the businessman isn't a very good script writer or director, the actor fins himself having to improvise... works both as a meta-comedy ("The objective of today's comedy is to expose the comedy") and as a drama about free will and laying the blame on a higher power.
  101. Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
    Wherever you go, there you are. Jarmusch hits his stride with a calmly hilarious story about the search for something new - people still come to America to find a new world, only to end up in the same one. People go on holiday to find something new, only to end up doing the same thing. People make money, only to spend it on the same things. "The only flight to Europe is to Budapest?"
  102. Near Dark (1987)
    A few things about it put me off; most notably the ending. But it's still a nice addition to the vampire lore, and 22 years on it holds up a lot better than Lost Boys. Plus, Henriksen and Paxton make a great team.
  103. Container (2006)
    Lukas Moodyson (Show Me Love, Together, Lilya 4-Ever) goes arthouse; one long stream-of-consciousness monologue about bodies, celebrities, religion, sex and everything else, almost inaudibly recited over grainy black-and-white footage of a man and a woman picking through the debris of the early 21st century. Occasionally captivating, but I just don't have the tools for this.
  104. House On Haunted Hill (1959)
    Not really anything special, and there are things that are a bit silly (at least cover the acid pit), but overall a very enjoyable Vincent Price vehicle without too much cheese.
  105. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
    I'd somehow managed to not watch this before. And man oh man. Yes, I see that he's the bad guy. But yes, I'd go gay for Brando here. And Leigh just... soars. And splats. A seductive, sticky, disturbing drama, even if it has a touch of filmed play.
  106. Moon of the Wolf (1972)
    Interesting attempt at making a realistic werewolf movie, played more like a murder mystery than a horror movie. Suffers from predictability (I mean, the title alone pretty much gives it away, and then we just sit there waiting for the wolf to appear) and being a little too linear, but not bad.
  107. Caligula (1979)
    Well, you've got to admire their balls.
  108. Dangerous Days: The Making of Blade Runner (2007)
    This is what making of documentaries should be.
  109. Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)
    Takashi Miike goes Western; a curious feedback loop of a movie, which seems to rip off Tarantino ripping off samurai movies ripping off Leone ripping off Kurosawa ripping off Ford ripping off Shakespeare ripping off The Tale of Genji, where every reference becomes so clearly acted (the hero is actually told not to "pull any Yojimbo stuff" even though the plot is almost a direct copy) that I'm not sure which metalevel I'm on. But lots of bloody fun for fans of deconstructed Western movies, even if it's fairly tame by Miike standards. Tarantino still can't act at all, though.
  110. Week-End (1967)
    "What a rotten film. All we meet are crazy people." So this was what Monty Python were sending up in the French subitled film sketch - and rather accurately at that. Weird film, indeed - constantly commenting on itself as it sends its two protagonists on a trip through the wreck of Western (or rather French) civilization. Occasionally very disturbing, occasionally just preachy and self-defeating, an interesting piece of cinema.
  111. Severance (2006)
    Someone called it "Office Space meets Deliverance"; more like Friday the 13th IV meets a PG-rated Hostel. Decent idea, good actors, a couple of great gags, but let down by the same crap director who ruined Creep.
  112. Terminator Salvation (2009)
  113. Dracula (1979)
    Focusing less on the horror and more on the sexiness, Langella's Dracula is actually ONe of the better versions. Yes, it takes a lot of liberties with the novel, but actually works better for it.
  114. Masters of the Universe (1987)
    Dolph Lundgren considers it his lowest point as an actor. Dolph. Lundgren. I'm pretty sure Langella's awful Skeletor makeup was in his contract, in the hope that nobody would recognize him.
  115. The Machine Girl (2008 )
    It's about a Japanese schoolgirl with a Gatling gun for an arm taking down a whole family of yakuzas. That's really all you need to know.
  116. Ran (1985)
    Wow. Just wow.
  117. 3-Iron (2004)
    Not as disturbing as some of Kim Ki-duk's other movies, in fact it's rather heartwarming in a way despite featuring quite a lot of violence and possibly the death of one or both of the protagonists... it's a sort of ghost story, I suppose, and a beautiful, ambiguous one.
  118. The Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser (1974)
    It's about Werner Herzog trying to figure out what makes a human being tick. That's really all you need to know.
  119. The Dish (2000)
    Cute, warm comedy about one of the radio telescopes that made sure there were TV pictures of the moon landing. Unfortunately it really doesn't have much more than "cute and warm" to offer; despite fibbing a bit to add extra excitement, the film doesn't really do anything with the story.
  120. Straight To Hell (1987)
    Well, it's got Joe Strummer as a bank robber, Shane MacGowan as a caffeine-addicted gunslinger dressed like the Three Amigos, a young and very annoying Courtney Love screeching constantly, and just generally a good time. A double bill of this and Sukiyaki Western Django would effectively divide the spaghetti western by zero and cause the universe to implode to the tones of Ennio Morricone.
  121. Salò, Or The 120 Days Of Sodom (1975)
    Well, that's a movie.
  122. All The King's Men (1949)
  123. The 400 Blows (1959)
    He keeps screwing it up, doesn't he? But what else is he supposed to do? There's no way to stay, no way forward. And all those shots of Paris...
  124. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
    Anyone remember when Eddie Murphy was funny? This almost brought me back there.
  125. The King of Comedy (1982)
    Ouch. Not Scorsese's best 80s picture by far, but interesting and DeNiro and Lewis really are perfect for their roles.
  126. Blood Tide (1982)
    OK, so you've got James Earl Jones. That's a start. Now you want to make a Lovecraft-style monster movie. Here's a crazy suggestion... actually have a monster in it.
  127. Mystery Train (1989)
    Not Jarmusch's most successful separate-stories-pass-in-the-night film, but still both moving and quietly hilarious, haunted everywhere by the ghost of Elvis and conflicts that have passed from politics into semiotics.
  128. Waiting for Guffman (1996)
    Not nearly Guest's best, and in fact doesn't do anything that Slings And Arrows did better, but enjoyable enough.
  129. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
  130. Blues Brothers (1980)
  131. Die Welle (2008 )
    The problem with Die Welle isn't the idea that fascism works because it, well, works, and how easy it is to sell a large group of people on it. That bit is creepily well-done, and changing the setting from the US to Germany doesn't make it any less creepy. But it's a little too hastily done; there's an excellent opportunity here to get into things that are merely hinted - if the director had just spent 10 more minutes setting up the perceived problems of the society and the lives that people live before they all start dressing in white and marching in step. As it is, it seems a little too much like everyone's just waiting for the start signal to start behaving like nazis.
  132. I Served The King of England (2006)
  133. Rock And Rule (1983)
    A futuristic epos about anthromorphisized animals who have to save the world from an evil demon by the power of rock. Featuring Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and Cheap Trick. And it's exactly as insane as it sounds.
  134. Visioneers (2008 )
    Really wants to be Charlie Kaufman-does-Brazil, and might have pulled it off - it's got great visuals, interesting character interactions and one or two brilliant ideas - if it weren't because its criticism of conformity is so ridiculously overdone (people explode if they're not allowed to have dreams...) and even stated outright a few times too many.
  135. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008 )
    American Graffitti for the Juno crowd, with a pinch of After Hours thrown in. And actually manages to walk the thin line between too smart and too cute and be... rather adorable, as our two Jersey teens chase around Manhattan trying to find a secret gig by their favourite band and get over their respective exes. Not a great movie, but a very good one.
  136. High Plains Invaders (2009)
    James Marsters fights aliens in the old West... sounds fun, no? Unfortunately that's how far their ideas went, and the rest is just a clinically humour-free rip-off of Tremors. Yawn.
  137. Tokyo Gore Police (2008 )
    WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH JAPANESE PEOPLE WHAT... OK, I suppose on some level they're trying to make some sort of updated Videodrome. But... where Machine Girl was just as gory in terms of body parts and high-pressure blood, TGK has a calm, clinical let's-gross-the-viewer-out attitude that just rubs me the wrong way.
  138. The Station Agent (2003)
    Just a warm, human film about three outsiders that sounds like a Tom Waits song - a dwarf living in an old abandoned train station befriends a Cuban hot dog vendor and a divorced artist - but somehow remains low-key and natural enough to be just a pure delight from beginning to end.
  139. Involuntary (2008 )
    Very bleak and uneasy comedy about group pressure, social norms and the trappings of things you don't say out loud. Odd structure - half a dozen separate storylines with no ordinary narrative, it mostly looks like a series of unconnected documentaries of everyday life that gradually find common thematic elements and get more intense. Painfully spot-on, with no easy catharsis to let you put it behind you.
  140. Splinter (2008 )
    Derivative but surprisingly adequate low-budget (no CGI!) horror movie. Imagine The Thing set in a petrol station, with almost none of the "who's a monster" paranoia but instead a sense of tension that doesn't quite let up, a genuinely disgusting monster (insect hairs... ew) and a few laughs along the way. Nothing special, really, but at 78 minutes it never really has time to go off the rails either.
  141. Drag Me To Hell (2009)
  142. Labyrinth (1986)
    Might have been a if someone had remembered to put pants on David Bowie. Seriously. But yes, it holds up well even 20 years after I saw it the last time, unlike...
  143. The Never-Ending Story (1984)
    ...which has a lot of potential, and the effects were (for the most part) not as awful as I remembered, but at least the theatrical version is butchered by whoever did the cutting. Could have worked a lot better at 2+ hours.
  144. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009)
    Lots of geeky fun, as three friends discussing Doctor Who and Star Trek in a pub suddenly find themselves trapped in a time-travel paradox centered around the gents', two packets of crisps, and very devoted future fangirls. Low budget and a bit talky at times, but very enjoyable.
  145. The Stepford Wives (2004)
    Better than expected, even though it's not close to the original version. Plays the same story like a comedy and ends up a lot less disturbing, but at least the comedy works pretty well even if it's shallow and full of holes.
  146. The Last Man On Earth (1964)
    Quite faithful adaptation of I Am Legend, with Vincent Price in serious mode throughout doing a great job. It's a pity adaptations of the novel keep insisting on not doing the original ending; they were doing so well up until the last 5 minutes.
  147. Pontypool (2008 )
    Woah. Zombie movie as Tourette's.
  148. Psycho (1960)
    Well, we all go a little crazy sometimes.
  149. Blood Hook (1986)
    "This ain't no Japanese monster movie!" If only it were, instead of an American slasher movie about a fishing contest gone bad. Yes, it's got some neatly crazy ideas, but on a whole it's just too normal to be a successful Troma movie and too silly to be a successful horror movie.
  150. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (199- oh who cares)
    Still holds the distinction of being one of the dumbest slasher movies ever made. Just KILL her already.
  151. Transformers (2007)
    Were the robots supposed to look embarrassingly silly?
  152. Twilight (2009)
    Better than I expected, but that's not saying much. Very nicely shot, but still creepy as hell without, it seems, intending to be.
  153. Ride The High Country (1962)
    Not a great western, the plot is a little too disjointed for that, but a fine movie indeed by young master Peckinpah.
  154. The Informers (2009)
  155. Carrie (1976)
    Still a brilliant King adapation.
  156. Journey Through The Past (1974)
    Probably strictly for Neil Young fans, but interesting nevertheless. Starts out as a regular tour movie with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and then gradually fades into a half-surreal collage on mainstream and counter-culture, straights and hippies and Christians and junkies and Neil, as is his usual pattern, refusing to live in either of their worlds.
  157. Shaolin Soccer (2001)
    Yes, it's every plucky underdog sports movie ever made, but you have to admire a movie that that kung fu should be used in everyday life to avoid slipping on banana peels.
  158. Withnail and I (1987)
    It just doesn't get any better than this.
  159. Wait Until Dark (1967)
    Hadn't seen this in ages, but it still holds up remarkably well. Silly in places, but Audrey Hepburn as a scream queen? How can you possibly go wrong with that?
  160. Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
  161. The Call of Cthulhu (2005)
    Interesting idea: turning a Lovecraft story into a silent movie, 75 years after the invention of talkies. And as an exercise in style, it's very well done and even adds a few sneaky updates. But as well-made as it is, I can't help but think that if the old silent movie directors had had access to modern technology, they would have used it.
  162. Re-Animator (1985)
    Another entry in the "I can't believe I never watched this" series. Not that I missed that much. As Lovecraft adaptations go, it's certainly got its own ideas about things, and it's both fun and nicely bloody. The ending is a disappointment, though.
  163. Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex (2008 )
    Yeah, it's a nice recreation, presenting a complex political yada yada, but like many Based On A True Story films that sticks too closely to the real story it just ends up overlong and plotless.
  164. One From The Heart (1982)
    Love the soundtrack, which is pretty much the main reason I saw it. And you gotta love the design of the movie - all made on a soundstage, somewhere between a classic Hollywood romance and a Disney cartoon. But dear GOD, it's boring. Endless talking with no real drama, no interesting characters, nothing original to say... Tom Waits' soundtrack told the story much better than Coppola did, and in one third of the time.
  165. Fingersmith (2005)
    Nice adaptation of the novel, which loses some of its impact thanks to the different structure (telling us both backstories from the beginning) and sanitises the characters a little too much. But still, nice.
  166. The Shining (1980)
    Hadn't seen it for a few years. I stand by my opinion: yes, Kubrick pulls out all the stops - perhaps even a few too many - and there are some things here that are absolutely fantastic. If half the world's horror movies were half as professional and effective as The Shining, the world would be a better place. But Nicholson is horribly miscast, there is no drama at all since he's clearly insane right from the start, and the ending sort of trickles out. Plus, indian burial grounds, Stanley? Really?
  167. Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (2009)
    Not nearly necessary, felt more like a double episode that got cut, but stays clear of the kind of wtfery that the "real" series finale wanted us to swallow and provides some nice character insight and the sort of ruminations on religion and social interaction that the TV series did when it was at its best.
  168. Manos: The Hands of Fate (MST3K) (1966)
    In the words of Joel: "DO SOMETHING!" What utter shit. And they seriously thought this would be a success? What were they smoking? Still, absolutely hilarious at times.
  169. Easy Rider (1969)
    Been a while. I'd forgotten about the mandatory acid freak-out scene. Meh. The rest is still brilliant, though.
  170. [Rec] (2007)
    Actually better the second time around.
  171. Bride Of The Monster (MST3K) (1955)
    Hadn't actually watched the MST3K version before. Not one of their better efforts, but Wood's vision remains intact. That is, the vision of Bela Lugosi trying to strangle himself with a rubber octopus. Hilarious in itself.
  172. Night Of The Demon (1957)
  173. Day Of The Dead (2008 )
  174. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
    Very generic plot, very predictable, and while I like both Streep and Hathaway, they have to do some heavy lifting to drag it across the finish line.
  175. Warrior Of The Lost World (1983)
    MST3K. Megaweapon.
  176. Swamp Diamonds (1955)
    MST3K. Roger Corman.
  177. Reefer Madness (1936)
    Make sure to watch the colourised version. Who know pot smoke came in different colours?
  178. Nina's Heavenly Delights (2006)
    Standard romance twaddle is no less standard romance twaddle just because it happens to be about two women. But I'll see Laura Fraser in anything.
  179. Titanic (1997)
    RiffTrax. Probably helped make it more palatable, though as much as I hate a lot of things about it, I can't help but admire the handiwork.
  180. Jurassic Park (1993)
    RiffTrax. Still a shit movie, but laughed my ass off. It's been that kind of weekend.
  181. District 9 (2009)
  182. Secret Agent Super Dragon (1966)
    Dull, dull, dull. Even the MST3K guys couldn't save this.
  183. Jaws 2 (1978 )
    Better than I remember it. Still mostly a repeat of the first one, but a decent horror movie nonetheless. And no, I'm not rewatching 3 and 4.
  184. Orphan (2009)
  185. 2012 (2009)
    Sure, if you're into apocalypse porn, you'll get your fill. But man, it's predictable. And do they really need to repeat scenes three times?
  186. Paranormal Activity (2007)
  187. In The Loop (2009)
    Haven't laughed this much in a theatre in some time. Peter Capaldi, shalalalala.
  188. Tromeo And Juliet (1996)
  189. The Toxic Avenger (1984)
    Glorious glorious Troma.
  190. Dementia 13 (1963)
    Yes, Coppola's debut is a mess in a lot of ways; a low-budget by-the-numbers Corman shocker that desperately tries to rip off Psycho. But it's got a lot of atmosphere and is actually creepy.
  191. Zombieland (2009)
  192. Jennifer's Body (2009)
  193. The Hurt Locker (2009)
  194. Avatar (2009)
  195. First Blood (1982)
    ...and that's probably mostly because it's so much better than the sequels, but still, one of the more iconic post-Vietnam movies and for good reason even if it leaves a few questions unasked.
  196. Baise-Moi (2000)
    Hey look, it's Le Dirty Week-End.
  197. Gandhi (1982)
    And I don't even really like biopics.
  198. The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus (2009)
  199. Total Recall (1990)
    You know, in the hands of a more subtle director and actor, this might actually have been a lot more than just an over-the-top action movie.
  200. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938 )
    You have to hand it to Errol Flynn: he knows how to hit another man's sword.
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Old 28th Dec 2008, 3:02   #6
JunkMonkey
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Default Re: 2009 Filmlists

Quote:
I'm going to play Six degrees of Kevin Bacon with all my films this year. I'm not going necessarily to choose them because they have a connection with the previously watched but I intend to forge some sort of connection between them all no matter how tenuous.
(This notice will self-destruct sometime in mid February like all other New Year resolutions.)
January

  1. I Walked With a Zombie - This is turning into an annual event. I started last year by watching a Val Lewton / Jacques Tourneur RKO B-movie too. Screenplay by Curt Siodmak who also wrote the story for:
  2. Earth Vs The Flying Saucers -
  3. Nosferatu - Three movies into my 'Six degrees of Kevin Bacon with all my films this year' thing and I have bowled myself a real googly. How do I get from a crappy 50s invasion paranoia movie to a German art-house reworking of the Dracula story? My first attempt: Morris Ankrum who played the heroine father in Earth Vs appeared in an episode of the Bat Masterson Western TV series and Dracula could turn himself into a bat! Ta-dah!... I know. I'll have another go tomorrow. But Nosferatu starred Klaus Kinski who made a lot of movies. Several of them, like For a Few Dollars More, with music by Ennio Morricone - who composed the most amazingly trashy score for:
  4. Danger: Diabolik - Brilliant piece of cinematic comic book nonsense.
  5. Spacehunter - Molly Ringwald in 3D!
  6. Matilda -
  7. Dark Planet - A stupid stupid SF movie set in a far distant future where space fascists blast away at everything in sight with late twentieth century automatic rifles while trying to survive some of the shoddiest special effects since the opening credits of Blake's Seven. All of which must mark some sort of low point in Michael York's career. The sort of movie even Malcolm McDowell would have turned down
  8. A Night at the Roxbury - Stupid stupid movie which made me laugh.
  9. Flight to Mars -
  10. Bugsy Malone - One of Mrs JM's favourite movies.
  11. Glen or Glenda - Like Bugsy Malone the first feature for the director. The director in this case being the great Edward Wood Jr. A truly heartfelt, unique and utterly demented movie.
  12. Jail Bait - Ed Wood's most mainstream and least idiosyncratic movie which means that it still retains many of Wood's hallmarks, like the odd cutting, the long long pointless takes where people cross rooms back and forth for no real reason, the stilted dialogue, and wooden acting - but looses most of the weird shoddiness that is so appealing in his work. It's boring. The most noticeable thing about Wood's 'style' in this film is the total lack of cutaways - those essential little insert shots that show the audience in close up what the under-rehearsed actor is interminably fiddling with on the other side of the room. An actor opens a desk drawer - cut to a shot down into the drawer to show the gun in the drawer and a hand taking it out. Cut back to the wider shot and the actor puts something into his pocket. The presumption is made that the actor has put the gun in his pocket. Don't do a cutaway and the actor has to wave the gun around in an unnatural way to let the audience see what it is he is doing.


    A not very good actor getting into an uncomfortable
    position to show the audience something.

    Cutaways like this also have the advantage of letting you cut between different takes of the same long shot (presuming you have more than one take which in this case looks doubtful) so you can cheat the action (ie cut out most of the interminable fiddling.) Wood never seemed to learn about these very useful shots. Or, for that matter, about cheating time. In Jail Bait we see several shots of people arriving at buildings and then entering them to visit people we have already met in the narration - there's nothing essential happening here, the director is just filling a bit of time and getting two characters into a room to have a conversation, he's not introducing a new character or place. It's simple movie mechanics. Standard operating procedure at the time for this sort of set-up would be to show the car driving up the house and stopping, then a cut to inside the house where the character to be visited would hear a door bell ring, and answer the door. There is no way, in real time, that the actor in the car could have got to the door but the audience accepts the jump in time without noticing. Wood on the other hand has to show every plodding step. In one long take, he shows the car coming down the road, drawing up to the house then stopping, the actor driving the car is then shown getting out, shutting the car door, walking slowly up the steps and then ringing the doorbell, THEN Wood cuts to the inside shot at a point where any competent director would be half way through the dialogue that is to follow. All this comes after having just watched the character driving the car tell someone in the previous scene that this was where he was going and this is who he was going to see! Boring and redundant! I may not learn a lot watching crap, but at least I learn a lot more than Wood did watching the good stuff.
  13. The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood Jr. - a touching documentary of a man whose boundless enthusiasm coupled with a matchless lack of talent made him a hero.
  14. Flying Saucers Over Hollywood: The 'Plan 9' Companion - A second documentary on Wood. (if the words 'Box Set' crossed your mind sometime in the last few minutes, award yourself a coconut). The documentary pretty much repeats most of the things said in The Haunted World of. There are, after all, only a limited number of people left alive who worked with Wood and some of the stories were repeated - as they must have been for many years - almost word for word. A little over long too.
    Quote:
    No matter what time of day you watch Plan 9 From Outer Space - it always feels like three in the morning.
  15. Plan 9 From Outer Space - By god, they're right! It's only half past ten and it feels like 3am!
  16. CQ - As a sneakily cheap six degrees - there was a visual reference to Danger: Diabolik very early on (John Philip Law also appeared in the film) which via the links I will (one day) forge between that, Spacehunter, Matilda, etc. brings us back to Plan 9 From Outer Space - I really am starting to think this was a very silly idea... CQ was directed by Roman Coppola whose father, Francis, produced George Lucas' first film THX 1138. Lucas directed -
  17. The Empire Strikes Back - and I fell asleep.
  18. Star Wars - My Kids see the original Star Wars for the first time. And I didn't fall asleep! This is the first time I've watched Star Wars in the past 10 years without waking up half way through and having to rewind rewind the bugger.
  19. Ong-Bak - Bought on eBay for 99p (including postage) because I was intrigued by the title, knew nothing about it (there was no description or picture in the auction) - and it was only 99p. Ong-Bak it turns out is a 2003 Thai martial arts movie with a paper thin plot but lots of fighting - lots and lots of fighting - apart from the occasional burst of exposition or watching people setting things up to be destroyed, most of the 105 minutes running time was spent watching our hero getting kicked in the face while he finds new and interesting ways of hitting people on the head with his elbows - in slow motion, from three different angles, like a sports instant replay. (Paul Whitehouse voice please:) "Let's see that again Geoff - Yes, you can really see how he kicks the little guy in the groin from this angle, and look at the sweat flying off his face in slo-mo here... marvellous."It is on it's way back to eBay. (Bugger knows how I'm going to get from Star Wars to this - or from this to anything else...)
  20. Bride of the Monster - A rewatch of another Ed Wood 'masterpiece'.
  21. Cannibal Women In The Avocado Jungle of Death - Attack of the Killer Tomatoes meets Apocalypse Now. With a bit more money (I think Killer Tomatoes had a bigger budget) and/or a a better director this could have been a funny little movie. As it was, it was an almost funny little movie. Any film that can make Shere Hite jokes in the middle of a sword fight has to have something going for it. I have totally given up on the Six Degrees thing.
  22. Year of the Dog - What promised to be a quirky little amusing movie turned into a tedious, woolly-minded, anti-vivisection trudge which wandered about all over the place not making it's shallow points very well or exploring any of the screamingly obvious issues it raised. Why, for instance, does our protagonist Vegan heroine, so incensed about the rights of chickens, cows, and goats to have happy natural lives, buy shelves full of dog food to feed her 15 dogs without apparently realising they are made from meat? Stupid and shallow. For a while I amused myself by counting the number of times our 'heroine' sighed meaningfully - but soon gave that up when I got into three figures. Avoid.
  23. Madagascar - Better than expected Friday night with the kids movie during which I laughed several times - to the bemusement of the kids who didn't get the jokes.


February
  1. Blade Runner - The Directors Cut, though perversely I now have a yen to see the original released version.
  2. Kentucky Fried Movie - another of those films that didn't stand the test of time. In 1977 it must have been hilarious. Rude, crude and very funny. Now it just looks rude and crude. I did laugh a couple of times but it wasn't the yok-fest many (whose opinions up until now I had valued) had lead me to believe. I guess you had to have been there at the time. On the up side, Uschi Digard's rather impressive tits were quite nice to watch.
  3. The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Another of those films that would have been a lot better directed by Terry Gilliam. It seemed very thin somehow given that just about every version of this story is different and has new layers of jokes added. To have the story pared back and the jokes so reduced in number to make room for all the CGI was a bit of a disappointment. The Book seemed particularly underused but then again I suspect the target audience was running it's favourite gags in it's collective head as the movie played and were just enjoying the visuals - which were very good, very Gilliamish.
  4. L'Amant - L'Amant (or The Lover - once I had finally found the English version on the DVD menus which were in French). Full-on, historical bonking set in the Viet-Nam of the Twerties - that strange vague indeterminate time that happened in the movies between WW1 and WW2.


    "Eh, Henri, do you think zey will get ze subtle symbolism?"

    Five hours (it felt like) of French people talking in Subtitle English - strangely enigmatic, not quite colloquial, but you can't put your finger on exactly what is wrong manner that turns up in subtitles all the time. I thought it was the subtitlers fault but it's true! French people really do talk like that - well, in movies at least.

    Given the chance to make a film in English, French film makers make everything sound so portentous "My love for you is expired. Now I am dead." Loads of sex though. Loads and loads of sex. God! it got boring. Halfway through I started willing the Japanese to attack. Or a Hurricane to hit, or something. Anything but more sex. Please! I prayed, don't have even more sex and then lie around languidly having yet another elliptical post-coital conversation. Please! All very pretty and slow and ravishingly shot. Imagine, if you will, a porno movie made by Merchant-Ivory - but then that immediately brings to mind the thought of a heaving, sweatily naked Helena Bonham-Carter and there are some fantasies best not shared. She's MINE! - get off!
  5. Stuart Little 2 - Dear god! At least I didn't puke. The kids loved it.
  6. Citizen Kane - with a cherry on top.
  7. Jésus de Montréal - As a card-carrying atheist I don't often get emotionally involved with the overtly religious in movies I just don't care most of the time when characters undergo a 'crisis of faith' or renounce all that they believe in because, being a life-long non-believer, I have no concept of what the 'agonies' these people are supposed to be going through is all about. More often than not their 'anguish' comes over to me as self-pitying, self-indulgent, self-deluding wallowing but this one - oh boy, this one had had me in tears at the end of it. It's very funny too.
  8. Prehistoric Women - Another of my public service movies - I watch them so you don't have to - so noble of me. This one concerned a bunch of prehistoric women and their pet panthers who wander around being sexually frustrated - or at least as sexually frustrated as you could get in a 1950 drive-in movie with no dialogue - until they bump into a bunch of men who discover fire, use it to set fire to "Karoch, scourge of the skies" (a hapless duck with some rubber bits stuck on the back of its head tossed in the general direction of the camera) that has been terrifying them for years, and 'Guadi the Giant' ditto. No dialogue but every on-screen action repeated in a solemnly intoned narration like a 1950s equivalent of a Movies For the Blind Audiodescription. Dreadful.
  9. Girl in Gold Boots - (MST3K) Trashy piece of late 60s junk with some unforgettable (and, I suspect near undeliverable) dialogue:.
    Quote:
    Michele: "Leo says I'm really going places. Just because he deals in dope, that doesn't tarnish me."
    Critter: "Oh, that's what you think, baby. Tarnish isn't a strong enough word for what he'll do to you - try "corrode" for size..."
    and the unforgettable lament of all drugged-up, washed-out, has-been Go-go dancers the world over:
    Quote:
    Joanie: "I had a pretty mind! Oh God, I wish I had my pretty mind back."
    It's Beyond The Valley of The Dolls Without a Clue. The producer went on the make The Astro-Zombies and The Corpse Grinders (and its sequel, the imaginatively named, The Corpse Grinders 2) and one of the leads was once married to Judy Garland (and was, incidentally, totally and comprehensively out-acted by a couple ceiling tiles behind his head at one point).
    After that, I settled down to watch Assault of the Killer Bimbos but my heart wasn't in it and I gave up after ten uninspiring minutes. I was still fretting about something. The most disturbing thing about Girl in the Gold Boots, even more disturbing than the dancing, the dialogue and the acting was the title - Girl in the Gold Boots. Why wasn't it The Girl in the Gold Boots? That missing 'The' worried me. Both The Astro-Zombies and The Corpse Grinders have got 'the's why not Girl in The Gold Boots? I just bought a copy of Astro-Zombies on eBay. There is no hope for me.
  10. The Goonies - I don't think I have actively hated a movie as quickly and as comprehensively as I hated this one. By the second reel I wanted every character in it to die. Especially our 'heroes'.
  11. Warlords of Atlantis - another 99p well spent on eBay. Doug McClure in full Edgar Rice Burroughs' journey to the centre of somewhere with fucking big rubber monsters mode.
  12. The Adventures of Buckeroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension - again
  13. The Land Before Time - The first movie I've seen for ages containing dinosaurs that didn't have Doug McClure in it. I missed him.
  14. The Arrival - What a cracking wee movie! Nothing particularly original that we haven't seen done before - we are talking about the Aliens ARE AMONGST US! school here (The Invaders, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, It Came From Outer Space, I Married a Monster From Outer Space etc. etc. but done with genuine suspense and creepiness. I am now off to hunt up some of the writer/director's other movies... Damn! He directed Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick - looks like I might actually have to watch a Vin Deisel movie or two.
  15. Chandu the Magician - Bela Lugosi is out to take over the world with a Death Ray if only he can persuade the scientist inventor to give him the secret of its operation. His methods of persuasion consist of getting his minions to kidnap various parts of the Scientist's family and threaten them with fates worse than death while he skulks in his lair in an ancient Egyptian temple. All his plans are thwarted with monotinous regularity by another member of the family who has been off becoming a 'Yogi' with mystical powers for the past few years (which means he gets to wear a turban when everyone else wears pith helmets) who can hypnotise whole rooms full of people with a single twitch of an eyebrow.
    My favourite bit of dialogue came when the swarthy Arab baddy sidekick is pawing the beautiful captive Princess in her dungeon.
    Quote:
    Him: I've wanted you for years - and now... I have you!!!

    Her: You beast!
    Why don't they write lines like that any more?
  16. The Astro Zombies - There is a new star in my firmament of crap directors and his name is Ted V Mikels. On the strength (or weakness) of this movie alone he deserves to be ranked up there with Coleman Francis and Ed Wood. I don't think he directed this movie, I think he just found it in trash cans around Hollywood and glued it together with industrial strength wallpaper paste.
    A mad scientist and his mute, wall-eyed assistant, beautiful girls slaughtered and mutilated, semi-naked girls strapped to operating tables, solar-powered killer robot zombies, CIA agents, Chinese spies, Russian spies, Mexican spies! gratuitous semi-naked nightclub dancer scene, beheading, terrible, terrible Foley work and establishing shots which defy any kind of comprehension - an establishing shot is supposed to do what its name implies, establish something in the audience's mind. A character. A place. A character arriving in a place. Look, here's a shot of a well lit street, a neon light flashes 'The Kit Kat Club', aha! the audience thinks, The Kit Kat Club wasn't that the name on the match cover the detective found under the body? Yes, look there he is walking through the door... Cut to interior of the club, the scene continues and everyone knows who is where and what is going on. In this pudding of bewilderments we have establishing shots that go on forever and often, at the end of them, we still have no idea who or what we were supposed to be looking at - and all in one utterly incomprehensible 90 minute mess.
    The climax of the movie comes as our solar-powered, killer astro zombie returns to the mad prof's lab (powered only by the CIA agent's flash light it is holding against its forehead, having lost it batteries in a scuffle) and seizes the machete the prof just happens to have sitting on top of the fusebox - and goes on the rampage.
    Here's the trailer (which makes it look a lot more competent and interesting than it is.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHz_HvpOHO8
  17. The Bed Sitting Room - One of the great forgotten - or if not forgotten then just bloody hard to find - films of British cinema. A masterpiece of the absurdist tradition with a hell of a cast, some great design and why it hasn't been released on DVD is a mystery and a crime. Here's the movie (in nine parts) on Youtube.
  18. Pumaman - (MST3K) "Poomaman". I have formulated a new law of bad movies. Just like the one that states that if you ever see a swimming pool in a movie there will, inevitably, sooner rather than later, come a moment when someone will be pushed into it (or be found floating dead face down in it, depending on the genre) there is a law which states that any S-type jag seen in any movie of the seventies and eighties will, inevitably, be tangled wreckage by the closing credits. Often the wrecking process will involve a cliff or quarry with a film crew at the bottom of it.
  19. The Thing That Couldn't Die - (MST3K) Another rule of thumb: B-movies with the word 'Thing' in the title are always worth a watch. Unfortunately The Thing That Couldn't Die only seems to be available as a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episode. I suspect I would have enjoyed this one more without Mike and the Bots.
  20. Help! I'm a Fish - thin story with some nice background painting. A couple of good jokes (I particularly liked the soldier crab marching in six time) but it's got Alan Rickman in it. I could listen to Alan Rickman reading the Ikea catalogue and come away spiritually uplifted.
March
  1. Soultaker -(MST3K) Dire.
  2. Freaks - Interesting. (Fucking hell! One word reviews are easy to write!)
  3. The Leech Woman - Disappointingly had nothing to do with leeches.
  4. The Giant Mantis - Three movie producers got drunk one night. One had a copy of script of The Thing (Something unearthly, frozen in the ice for millennia, is thawed out and goes on the rampage), another had a copy of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (Prehistoric beasty wakens and trashes half of New York) and the third had a copy of Them (Giant ants). As a drunken bet one of them ripped all three scripts apart, tore the pages in half, tossed them all into the air, and picked up a third of the mess. He then went out and shot the resulting pile of waste paper in a week. There is no other explanation for the The Giant Mantis (Giant prehistoric praying mantis is thawed out in the Arctic and trashes New York). None.
  5. Timecop - Another thud and blunder comic book mess from Peter Hyams (Outlands, 2010 etc.) I really must stop watching his movies - Capricorn One was okay, I wonder what went wrong after that?
  6. The Science of Sleep - I really don't know what to make of this one, I'll sleep on it.
  7. Hobgoblins - From a costume design point of view films made in the Eighties have not worn well. (The SF, Fantasy or period pieces, or anything involving the entire cast wearing uniform excepted). Any movie made in that fashion benighted decade which attempts to portray contemporary youth just looks like total pants these days - and probably did at the time (asymmetrical haircuts, shocking pink leggings and Spandex anyone?) Hobgoblins is the skidmarks in those pants. What made skinny women wear metallic Spandex leggings? Why? A whole generation women (all right maybe only Californian women) went round for years screaming LOOK AT MY SKINNY METALLIC ASS! - Why?
    Hobgoblins is an extremely low budget (can you have a minus budget?), zero imagination rip off of Gremlins that manages to waste the entire thirty-seven cents they did scrape together on some dreadful, dreadful actors - I've only just thought of this but the actors might have been asked to pay to be in the movie - and a few glove puppets. The acting was off the scale of unconvincingly bad. Right off the scale. If this is the scale:*

    Laurence Olivier| . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . |Oliver Reed| . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . |Porn Actor

    Then this lot were over there by the bookcase ---> Not the book case near the desk that your computer is sat on, but the big bookcase in the other room with all the posh books you aren't going to read again but can't bear to get rid of.
    Dreadful acting. I have seen more conviction and animation from high school kids turning up to drama club because they fancy one of the girls who comes (usually accompanying a friend who doesn't want to go alone). The direction wasn't much better - the director has made a whole series of films 'spoofing' the Police Academy series (that's right, you didn't misread, we're stirring up the real bottom feeders of the Hollywood food chain here.)
    I love bad movies, I really do, but this one was painful to watch. It hurt.

    * Or, if you prefer in Metric
    GĂ©rard Depardieu| . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . |Johnny Hallyday| . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . | . | Un Porn Acteur

    Oh God! They made a sequel!
  8. Gorgo - Godzilla English style. See Tower Bridge smashed to a million pieces by a giant prehistoric dinosaury thingie awoked from the deep by a volcano off the coast of Ireland! See Big Ben Smashed to a Million pieces by a giant prehistoric dinosaury thingie looking for its young. See... you get the picture. A not unterrible mixture of King Kong (Find monster in exotic location - or Ireland - and ship it to heavily populated area and put it on display), Godzilla (Godzilla SMASH! Grrrrr!) and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (again). Almost ruined by having a cute kid who empathises with the monster, and almost rescued again by some not bad 'Panic in the Street' sequences as the entire population of London flees the giant prehistoric dinosaury thingie by repeatedly running up and down the same street while being shot from lots of different angles. One thing British movies of the period did do better than American films of the period is the panic in the streets stuff. I suspect because no one in Britain had cars, and running away from something down a street, while being filmed with a hand held camera, is a lot more visually dynamic than hand held shots of a stream of cars on a highway driving away from disaster. British films extras of the day were also probably a lot less experienced than their US counterparts and the average Londoner of 1950s and early sixties probably had very fresh memories of what it was like to run away as buildings came crashing down round their ears. Just a thought.
  9. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) - Friday night movie with the kids is sometimes a bit of a chore. Tonight, when Holly picked this as the film she wanted, my heart sank. I never was a fan of the original, no that's a fib - I hated the original*, I'm not particularly fond of Roald Dahl's books, and I have a love / hate thing going with Tim Burton (I alternate between adoration and disgust at his films. I want that part of my memory with Mars Attacks! in it wiped when the technology arrives) Charlie, I remember from the reviews at the time, was not particularly liked by anyone. One of those 'Pointless remakes'. I loved it! I was entertained, delighted, and amused. So were the kids.

    *Apart from much missed Roy Kinnear.
  10. Terror From The Year 5000 - so incredibly fucking terrifying is the terror in Terror From The Year 5000 that I managed to fall asleep at least six times while trying to watch it. This is some sort of a record for me. I would start to watch the film - and wake up at the DVD's menu screen. Then I would convince myself I was awake and would stay awake long enough to watch it through and start the movie again, fast forward to where I last remembered being - and then wake up at the menu screen again. It got really annoying but I was determined to finish the film. I wasn't going to let it beat me. It took me three days.
    Terror from the year 5000 tells the story of a maverick scientist, ably assisted by his standard issue beautiful daughter*, who is communicating, via his basement time machine, with beings from 3000 years in the future. (We know it's 3000 years in the future because in a hilariously classic piece of misguided Bad Movie science, the Carbon 14 results on an artefact brought through the machine show a negative reading.) Inevitably a being from the future comes through the machine in the guise of a beautiful woman in a (not badly done) shimmering catsuit - except she's not beautiful at all She's an UGLY mutant woman! She has just peeled the face and uniform off a passing nurse to fool them - though she strangely retains her shiny, sexy space shoes which gives our heroine a clue that SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT! So, future mutant girl needs someone to go with her to the future to father a generation of non mutant ugly women. There's a fight. Things explode. I wake up again. I think that's what happens I'm not going to try and watch it again to find out.
    The movie does however have one really worthwhile moment of note. Doors in cheap movies have always held a strange fascination for me. The possibilities for continuity errors aside** - because of the piecemeal nature of movie making, it may be hours, days, or even weeks between an actor getting from one side of a doorway to another - and ignoring all the deeper meanings that doors can represent in movies "Frankly, my dear I just don't give a damn." would be a much less wonderful line if Rhett Butler hadn't been standing in a doorway when he said it - there are sometimes some very odd things to be noticed about the way doors are placed or hung in the set.
    Terror From The Year 5000 contains a corker. The scene is a corridor. Two doors screen right, blank wall screen left (though this latter fact is not important). Because of the mechanics of the plot someone in the room nearest the camera has to see someone sneaking into the room furthest away from the camera without himself being seen.
    To achieve this simple aim the film-makers made the odd decision to have the door to the furthest away room open as you would expect a door on a corridor to open; away from the corridor, into the room. Villain opens door. Villain enter room. The room nearest us in the corridor, the room from which the observation of this act has to happen, has the door hung so that it opens out INTO the passageway. Nobody hangs door so they open out into corridors. It's probably forbidden in every set of building regulations ever written. It's dangerous for one thing, imagine walking down a corridor when someone comes out of their room in a hurry - Whack! You run into the door. It's also ugly. It just looks wrong - yet it happens all the time in films just so that people can hide behind them and not be seen. The most famous example I can think of is in Double Indemnity.




    Off the top of my head I can think of three ways of staging this shot so that it doesn't need the second door opening outwards:
    1. Have one of the doors on the other side of the corridor. Villain opens one door, hero opens the other and watches him. Both are clearly visible to the audience and, as the villain has his back to the hero the assumption is easily made he is unaware that he is being watched.
    2. Both doors open inward, Hero opens door, presses back to the jamb and turns profile on with a look of intense concentration. He can't actually see the villain from that angle but he's the hero ; the audience wants him to see so will suspend disbelief long enough for him to see round corners for a few seconds.
    3. Inside his room the hero carefully opens the door slightly. Cut to point of view shot, framed through the half-open door, of the villain entering the other room. (Hanging a mirror on the blank wall opposite will make 3 & 4 a lot easier to shoot.)
    4. Swap the rooms. Make the room the villain has to enter nearer the camera. Hero can then be in the 'upstage' room and and when he comes out, as long as the villain doesn't explicitly turn around to look at him, the hero could stand in plain sight and watch - he do squat jumps and cartwheels if he wanted....
    I have now spent more time thinking about one single shot in a crappy 1958 drive-in piece of shit than I have on Kurosawa's entire output. Time to recalibrate my critical priorities I think.

    *I think they get given away in universities - "Here's your Degree in Frontier Science, Professor Misguided, don't forget to pick up a daughter as you leave"...
    ** Admit it, we all get a cheap thrill from spotting continuity errors.
  11. Solyaris - Okay that's me reset. God, I love this film. I have no idea what the characters are on about half the time but I just get sucked into it each time I see it. I first saw it when I was about 16 and have been hypnotised by it ever since. Right, back to the crap...
  12. Agent for H.A.R.M. - (MST3K) Inept spy caper with a virtuoso performance of toe-curling smarmyness from Peter Richman - you don't know the name but you'll know the face - he's one of those 'Special Guest Star' villain of the week faces and he has been appearing on TV shows for the past fifty years.


    He's been in everything from Knight Rider, Dynasty, Charlie's Angels Quincy M.E. to Beverly Hills, 90210 and beyond. He's a reliable solid working actor. I have no idea what he thought he was doing in this 1966 low-rent Secret Agent bandwagon turkey. I mean I know what he was doing appearing in the movie, he was getting paid (I hope). He was paying the rent, as jobbing actors have to do by taking whatever comes along and hoping there's something better next week. I mean I just have no idea what he was doing as an actor. It's a weirdly wrong performance. I think he was going for suave and debonaire - but missed. Spectacularly so. His character is supposed to be one of those cool, sexually magnetic, post-Bond superspy spies but because of a zero budget, zero imagination script, some oddly hung doors (see above), and some weird costuming (he wears a lemon yellow cardigan for most of the movie), he comes over as just incredibly, creepily smug. Fascinatingly hypnotically creepy. So creepy I found myself replaying bits just to watch some of his weird little mouth twitches and eyebrow movements over again just so I could enjoy the thrill of eewwww! disgust as he did it again.
  13. The Giant Spider Invasion - (MST3K) Another cheapo independent 70s drive in dross. Giant spiders from another dimension invade Wisconsin when a `miniature' black hole' that creates a `space warp' falls from the sky and sucks in mammoth alien-spiders from another dimension. Worse than it sounds, the world is eventually saved by a Something Very Scientific (but totally unexplained) dropping from a helicopter, and a flare gun fired by a portly, aged Nasa scientist.
  14. The Creation of the Humanoids - What a peculiar, flawed little gem! Amid all the dross I do turn up the odd odd film of weird genius. This is one such. Judged by any criterion this film shouldn't work at all. The script is insanely wordy and there is hardly action to speak of, for 75 minutes people just stand in a row across the screen and woodenly deliver screeds of expositional dialogue towards each other, often without any cuts or camera movements - sometimes, when there are cuts, the off screen dialogue is delivered by the other actor/s so straight and flat (almost as if they were just prompting) that it appears the editors either had no idea about sound editing or the director had given them nothing to edit together. The sets are minimal and flat, the costuming cheap, the score electronic 'Space Age' ooooeeeness seemingly unrelated to anything happening on screen.
    So far, so what? Sounds like every other cruddy 1950s / 60s lo no budget SF movie - it even starts with a montage of stock footage nuclear explosions. But what actually arrives on screen is an odd mix of genuinely novel SF ideas (I particularly liked the Human / Robot 'marriage' idea that sees one of the characters transferring aspects of her personality to a robot and then falling in love with the refection of herself) and a stream of philosophical ponderings and anti-prejudice messages that must have been mind-blowing to a teenage drive in audience of the time (if they had managed to stay awake long enough to see them). The plot has our central anti-hero character (an anti-hero in a cheap 60s SF movie in itself is a major oddity) is one of the leaders of a quasi-militaristic, group with growing influence over the police and government, dedicated to the preservation of MAN in a world where the already tiny population of a post holocaust Earth is declining due to radiation induced mutations and sterility. The group sees the ever more sophisticated Robots as a threat and agitates against them (think Brownshirts and Jews). Our 'hero' discovers a robot disguised as a human being and suspects a plot to replace real humans with replicas, then is told his sister is living openly with a robot she is in love with. He goes to visit her to put a stop to that sort of disgusting behavior and meets a friend of hers. There is an immediate bond and the two fall in love - we discover (before they do) that both he and the girl are robot replacements implanted with false memories (this film was made in 1962, six years before Philip Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was published), and the final shots hold out hope that the human race will allow themselves to be resurrected, one by one, in near indestructible robot form and that robots will soon have the ability to reproduce much in the same was as humans do now... cue end title...




    It's all pretty woodenly done and some of the writing is dreadfully dull but there are more SF ideas thrown out, and assumptions made, in this movie than in any dozen other more mainstream SF movies of the period. The film is unsurprisingly (but amazingly) adapted from a novel by Jack Williamson (at the time - as now - it was rare for Hollywood SF movies to be based on existing works). The movies main problem is that it looks just like it. A novel filmed.
    Apparently this was one of Andy Wahol's favourite films. It'll stand another watching.
  15. Madmen of Mandoras (aka They Saved Hitler's Brain) - hooo boy! Any film that starts with an opening shot like this...


    ...contains Hitler's head in a jar...


    ...lets tourists enjoy the marvels of South American civic pride...


    (The heroine's exclamation of delighted wonder on seeing the awe inspiring fountain in the capital city's central plaza is a magnificent piece of acting - almost as good as the bizarre moment when an evil Nazi vents his frustration by throwing a book at a lamp shade...


    And my pedantic, nitpickily joining the dots brain just loves the crappiness of the set here. Just look at that brickwork. Two sheets of brick effect cladding with a piece of wood nailed over the joint to disguise the fact they don't line up properly.


    Other delights include:

    Our director not even attempting to create day for night shots - so we end up with our hero squinting in direct sunlight telling his wife it's almost midnight..

    A character delivering the line (with urgent seriousness): "They have the gas!" without cracking up.

    An actor inadvertently giving away one of the 'secrets' of stage fighting by punching thin air, missing his intended target by a good foot.

    An interminable establishing shot of a building which only by a process of deduction could be worked out to be an Airport terminal - we get plenty of time to work it out too, the shot is held for a good twelve seconds (doesn't sound long does it? but just go stare at your watch for twelve seconds...) Turns out the reason the shot was so long was to disguise the fact that the plane that is about to land is not the same plane we saw taking off a couple of shots ago. Same type, different paint job.

    Did I mention it had Hitler's head in a jar?


    When he was a child, this man wanted to be an actor.
  16. Dumbo - When I was a child the first film I ever saw was Dumbo - I was about four years old. It is still my favourite Disney movie (which is not difficult given that I loath most things that the Disney Corporation came to symbolise and produce). I keep forgotting how short it is, it seems somehow to be missing a third act. The first half of the Pink Elephants on Parade sequence is one of the most brilliantly trippy bits of animation I know. It's a pity they chickened out a bit for the second half of it.
  17. Dreamscape - Meh. Sometimes the search for undiscovered masterpieces amongst the dross turns up movies which are neither. This is one of them. : Christopher Plummer, Dennis Quaid, Eddie Albert, Kate Capshaw, Max Von Sydow all doing their jobs but nothing to get excited about. Worth the 25p it cost in a charity shop.
  18. Minority Report - Meh. with a really big budget and lots of special effects disguising the fact that the film was no way as complicated as it was pretending to be (it felt it had to explain the central mystery to the audience twice, just in case we didn't get it). My OFFS ('Oh For Fuck's Sake!') button was well and truly pushed when our hero, standing in a swimming pool clutching the woman precog he is about to kidnap, escapes from his encroaching relentless pursuers by pulling the (previously unmentioned) emergency plug out of the plughole in the bottom of the pool - a plughole so large that two people can vanish down it - AND NONE OF THE RELENTLESS PURSUERS THINKS TO JUMP DOWN AFTER HIM! Coincidentally, the second Max Von Sydow film of the night.
  19. Humanoids from the Deep - Roger Corman Tits 'n' Gore schlock with nothing to recommend it apart from the word 'Humanoid' in the title and the line: "Get off your antique manners - I'm a professional scientist!" which got an unintentional laugh. Noticeably crappy sound editing too.
  20. War of the Colossal Beast (aka Revenge of the Colossal Man) - Last seen falling off the Hoover Dam after being bazookad in the breadbasket, 60 foot high radiation victim Col. Glenn Manning, disfigured and unable to speak in anything other than bestial grunts and howls - thus neatly disguising the fact that he is being played by a different actor to the one shown in the vast amount of footage reused from the original, turns up in Mexico eating the contents of delivery trucks. Returned to the US he escapes twice before electrocuting himself to death in three strip Technicolor - which comes as a pleasant shock at the end of a black and white movie...

    Girl:.
    Well they can't keep him here as.
    if he were - some sort of - cattle!.

    Army Bloke:
    It's just for the time being. I'm.
    afraid the world doesn't think of a
    sixty-foot man the way a sister does...
  21. Spermula - I have no idea who (or why) the american distributers of this movie took it upon themselves to chop an original French, arty, soft porn movie into small pieces (with a blunt machette by the look of it), cut in several shots from the SF movie Silent Running, from two years earlier, and re-write the dialogue into some of the funniest stuff I have heard for ages. But I'm glad they did.



    So instead of beautiful people swanning about the same rented Chateaux they shot every other French porn movie*, fucking each others brains out, and being torridily Gallic with each other over long meals, we get this:
    Faced with imminent, unspecified destruction the invisible aetherial inhabitants of the planet Spermula set out to invade Earth "a tiny distant sphere, no more that a gnat's turd in the eye of god" by sending down an advance party in the form of beautiful women who wear couture dresses with necklines that stop at the navel and pout a lot - their master plan? fellate the male population of the world into impotence thus paving the way for the rest of their kind. And it's hillarious.
    Part of the fun for me was trying to work out what the original was about. Whatever it was must have been weird enough before the massive re edit involving as it did a midget shooting down a model aeroplane with a sawn-off shotgun, a cardinal getting fellated in a swimming pool, vast quantities of rose petals shooting out of someone's bum, shoe licking, transvestites, contortionists etc. etc.
    Apparently very hard to find as it has never been released on DVD - hell, it doesn't even turn up in IMDb.com's title search, unless you sneak up on it via one of the actors! - it is downloadable in Glorious CrapyQualityVision (R) from about halfway down this page if you feel so inclined.

    *apparently.
April
  1. The Empire Strikes Back - with the kids. And I didn't fall asleep! Not that I had a chance answering questions like: "Star Wars is all about Doctor Who, isn't it, Daddy?"
  2. Wavelength - forgotten but worthwhile low budget SF film which eschews elaborate special effects and cliché to deliver a nicely acted, well thought out little movie somewhat in the Starman, E.T. line.
  3. Atom Age Vampire - badly dubbed and edited American 1960 Italian soap operatic pre-mashup mashup of a mad scientist Jekyll and Hyde killing women to extract something from them to make his beloved beautiful again after she is horribly disfigured during a badly staged car crash. No idea what the original was like but great chunks of this version made no sense whatsoever. At one point our only slightly (but soon to be totally) deranged benevolent scientist is about to perform a vital operation when the lights go out. He descends to the cellar and abuses his dumb devoted, but slightly pissed, henchIgor for letting the generator die. Exit henchIgor whimpering as our scientist (in operating gown) flips a couple of switches. The lights go on in the operating theatre. The patient aneasthetised on the table, osiliscope flickering away, big atomic thing in the corner flashing all its lights. His other assistant, beautiful devoted female scientist (aka victim number one) turns off the hurricane lamp. Back in the cellar the Doc heads for the stairs when he notices water dribbling from the wall. He stops. Looks at it. Picks up a sledgehammer lying nearby and, for no discerable reason whatsoever, spends the next seven shots whacking a bloody big hole in a brick wall and then crawling through it. Cut to nighclub hoochie coochie dancer with feathers on her bum...

    Quote:
    Internal memo from the producer: .


    Hey Luigi, How's the shoot going? We still don't know how to end the cellar scene so just fill the screen full of tits will you. Ciao.
    High readings on the bewilderometer for this one. Get your free, legal CrappyQuality copy HERE!
  4. X the unknown Movie - I watched a movie. I remember watching it. I just have no memory whatsoever of what it was... I found it. It wasn't a real movie, it was made for TV so doesn't count. It was crap though.
  5. Wall E - better than I was expecting and some of the visuals were stunning.
  6. The 27th Day - back to the 1950s SF crap, Yipee! In this one an alien gives seven total strangers, everyday folks from around the world a weapon of mass destruction. The aliens want to take over the world and have a moral compunction about destroying sentient life - but none about giving the sentient life a means of conveniently wiping itself out. So a promising start (marred only by the typical parading of ignorance of the basics of physics and astronomy so common in movies. Apparently if you move at the speed of light time stops - everywhere). The abductees are returned to the Earth with the power of its destruction in their hands. Nice set up for a bit of late 50s H-bomb cold war paranoia and moral debate. And there is a bit, and it's not bad; a bit talky and worthy - but it goes totally off the rails right at the end when our wizzoo scientist pulls a plot twist out of his arse and reveals that "all forms of energy fire, electricity, nuclear fission" have a good use as well as an evil use! With an unexplained interpretation of some hitherto unmentioned mathematical formuli containing "some symbols I have never seen before" he unleashes the weapons - but in a good way.

    The swiftly gather round a radio - budgetary shortcomings dictate that a lot of all-out heck and mayhem is delivered via news announcers, rather than being seen on screen -
    Quote:
    "Ladies and gentlemen here it is, The bulletin we have been waiting for. Scientists believe we have been bombarded with invisible rays from outer space. Reports pouring in from all over the globe confirm sudden and unexplainable deaths. All the cases have shown the same symptoms. All heard a high pitched almost supersonic noise, accompanied by acute agony and severe shock - followed by death. I know it's unbelievable! Fantastic! But the rays appear to have killed every person throughout the world known to have been a confirmed enemy of human freedom. Yes! The entire world is united in a spiritual unity unparalleled in its history. There are those who say it can't last but let us pray it does...".
    To which our scientist breathes a heartfelt "Thank God..." (which is the sort of thing you would say after wiping out every person throughout the world known to have been a confirmed enemy of human freedom after subjecting them to unspeakable agony. Shift the blame. God made me do it.)

    The film plays out with a brief coda in which the aliens are invited to come and use all the 'empty' parts of the planet (ie the bits where white people don't live) and the audience ejects popcorn that got lodged up its collective noses during the radio announcers speech. Presumably the aliens' superior technology will be of use burying all the dead evil people lying about too. The end. Probably the only film ever to climax with stock footage of the UN assembly in full session.
  7. The Phantom Planet (MST3K) - the best dire 1950s Astronaut miniaturised by local atmospheric conditions on a dirigible asteroid movie I have ever watched - twice.
  8. Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! - I'm a sucker for movies with lots of punctuation in their titles, Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! has three exclamation marks! and the added benefit of being stuffed with large breasted women to distract you from the deficiencies of the plot - which is: three large breasted Go-Go dancers kill a hot rodder and kidnap his bikini clad girlfriend. Driving across the desert they arrive at the ranch of a demented old wheelchair-bound, woman-hater and his two sons, one a well muscled simpleton, the other a sensitive soul. After some searching for the old man's hidden loot and some half hearted 'sex' scenes the end of the movie is a Jacobean tragedy with everyone ending up dead - stabbed, or run down by speeding sports cars - apart from the girl friend and the sensitive soul. I've had the poster for this movie on my wall for years. It was good to finally see it - well, maybe not 'good' in the usual sense of the word... Here it is on Google video. The quality of the MP4 version on the 'Download video - iPod/PSP' link is pretty good, much better than the pixilated version on the main screen. The pre-credit sequence is wonderful.
  9. Return of the Jedi -


    My favourite shot in the Entire Star Wars saga -
    even if the aspect ratio is wrong in this screen capture.
  10. Mission Mars -Lo budget SF which uses vast amounts of NASA footage in a variety of interesting ways - none of which make a lot of sense. I spent most of the running time watching the lead, Darren McGavin, listening. I like watching people listening in movies. Sometimes when I see a part of a movie on the television and, for whatever reason, the sound is down, I always look out for listening acting. It's easier to do when the sound is down because, duh! obvious!, you don't get distracted by the dialogue. (Another way of not getting distracted by dialogue is when it has become so meaningless that you no longer care or understand what the characters are saying - or why. Happens a lot in the kind of movie I watch. Happened in this one.) Darren McGavin is another of those know the face but not the name actors. 60+ years in the business. He's a great listener. He listened the hell out of this movie.
  11. Rocket Attack USA - (MST3K) cold war propaganda at its cheapest. The director went on to make such masterpieces as: Fanny Hill Meets Dr. Erotico. Which could end up as contender in my top 100 bad movie titles. The top place at the moment are taken by Rock 'N Roll Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Ape, followed by Blood of Ghastly Horror (aka Psycho a Go-Go) which I shall be 'enjoying' tomorrow night.
  12. Blood of Ghastly Horror - Oh My God! (as the young people say these days.) I am in a state of shock. An infuckingcredible movie. As far as I can work out, the history behind this patchwork hallucination is that in 1965, director Al Adamson produced and directed a very low budget, jewellery heist gone wrong movie called Psycho A Go-Go which seems to have had a terrific central performance and a plot device stolen from Night of the Hunter, and may have been intended as a comedy. It didn't sell because there were no names in it. Years later the director shot what appeared to be two sets of additional scenes, the first with John Carradine as a misguided scientist who, years before, had implanted a electronic device into a brain dead Nam vet with the inevitable consequence that he became a homicidal hoodlum - Carradine's 'confession' of this act cues great chunks of the 1965 film in flashback. (With me so far?) The homicidal hoodlum returns to the lab (new footage with the same actor) and kills his 'creator' in a laboratory featuring that staple of cheap set design, vast swathes of blackout curtain. The movie now seems to have been called The Man with the Synthetic Brain. When this version flopped, a second set of scenes was shot. In this, a framing device is added of detectives investigating a series of on-screen murders. Shortly after receiving a colleagues head in a box through the post - a shock lessoned by it being flagged up way in advance in the opening credits - they get to deliver these great crap lines:

    Chief Framing Device Detective:(READING FILE)
    Well I'll be a son of a bitch...

    Second Framing Device Detective:
    What is it Lieutenant?

    Chief Framing Device Detective:
    Everyone involved with the Corey case,
    with one exception - is dead!

    Second Framing Device Detective:
    What?... Do we know who it is?

    The Chief Framing Device detective stops tipping his chair back out of the frame long enough to fill in his underling on the Corey case and we flashback to the first set of added footage involving John Carridine as the mad scientist (thus neatly making Carradine's flashback that cinematic rarity, a flashback within a flashback). Further (post flashback) investigations lead the detectives to the lair of another mad scientist who turns out to be the father of the poor sap with the brain implant. Vengeful mad daddy has a nice line in vengeful zombie creation of his own (using more 'natural' voodooistic methods). The Director's wife stops by the studio long enough to get strapped to a table and have the second half of the heist movie flashbacked at her by daddy before he injects her with zombie juice. There is a short scene of constipated rampage (one mad scientist, two zombies, and three policemen, confined to a six foot square location - I think the cameraman stood on a chair) and just about everyone ends up dead. The End.


    Here's the wonderfully OTT trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dimlUt0pZwo
  13. Horror of the Blood Monsters*- I'm going to hand over to a poster over on the IMDb for a bit here, I'm still in shock
    Quote:
    Ya gotta love Al Adamson. Only he would (1) take footage from a 20-year-old movie about gorillas in diving helmets ("Robot Monster"), (2) combine it with clips from a 30-year-old movie about elephants with hair mats glued to their sides ("One Million B.C."), (3) throw in parts from a God-knows-how-old Filipino movie about midget cannibals, half man/half lobster monsters and beer-bellied Chinese cavemen with snakes growing out of their shoulders (all of the aforementioned footage being in black and white), (4) spend $11.43 shooting new "connecting" footage (in color, no less) with an apparently--to be charitable--confused John Carradine and a bunch of actors who have trouble remembering their lines (among them a vapid blonde who is so incompetent that all her dialogue is dubbed in by someone else and who doesn't even have the decency to make up for it by getting naked), (5) put it out under at least 10 different titles and (6) try to pass each one off as a new movie. Go, Al!
    This is one brilliant movie. It so far beyond bad it comes out the other side again. I am so proud of myself for retaining control of my bladder when we saw the first shot of the spaceship landing.


    .

    And here it is preparing to take off.


    A plastic kit model airliner and two pastry cutters! - it's genius!

    There is also a brilliant piece of use of stock footage from (I think) The Time Travellers in which the control centre on Earth is represented by an Over the Shoulders wide shot taken from the older movie intercut with two actors (costumed to look like the original actors whose backs we see) against the obligatory, No-Budget blackout curtain. Only after a few moments it becomes painfully obvious the Over the Shoulder shot is not stock footage at all. It's a stock one twenty-fourth of a foot. Its a freeze frame!
    Somewhere, during the bewildering intercutting between the tinted Fillipino cavemen endlessly fighting giant bats, lobstermen, and vampires, (sometimes in flashback!), the tinted intrepid explorers almost encountering the tinted stock footage from a couple of dinosaur movies while searching the new planet (ie Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park), and, finally, the colour footage of John Carradine back at the spaceship, talking to the rest of the crew by radio because they couldn't afford to take him on location... we suddenly get a sex scene!


    Two people, with electrodes strapped to their heads, snogging on a bed while around them lights flash in upturned test tubes and groovy Future Art stands on plinthettes. I was waiting for the voice over:

    Quote:
    Yes! Fucking in the Future will be fun! Modern science has many marvels in store for the married couples of tomorrow. The General Electric Orgasmometer for instance guarantees satisfaction every time! Even for the most frigid of women! - even on those 'difficult' days!
    It turns out this scene does have something to do with the movie (or at least as much as any of the others do) when it turns out the man is our old friend from the control room, whose idea of foreplay is to irradiate his bed partner with the 'Dangerous chromatic radiation' our intrepid crew are encountering out in space in order to paste a hasty explanation for all the bizarre tinting of the rest of the movie.

    Did I mention the first five minutes of this thing were a vampire movie, with people getting attacked in the same alley used by the zombie in Blood of Ghastly Horror?

    I have another Al Adamson lined up for tomorrow night, but I might watch this one again.

    *AKA Blood Creatures from the Prehistoric Planet, Creatures of the Prehistoric Planet, Creatures of the Red Planet, Space Mission to the Lost Planet , Vampire Men of the Lost Planet. etc.
  14. Brain of Blood - Sadly, an almost coherent Al Adamson movie - still not good, but not a bewildering mess like the last two.
May
  1. Robots - Predictable but fun. The kids liked it and I enjoyed the scenery.
  2. The Green Slime - Most of which was spent staring, in horrible fascination, at the hero's hairstyle.
  3. Clockstoppers - predictable teen SF with more plot holes and science fiction stupidities that I could count - but not terrible.
  4. Fascination - more French naked ladies in a rented châteaux, only this time they're bourgeois lesbian vampires not aliens. And the plot made more sense - unless you asked yourself questions like, why are these two naked bourgeois lesbian vampires trying to have sex without actually touching each other? Mind you this is not the only movie. Most 'lesbian' sex in films seems to take place between actresses who appear to be in different countries to their partners - though maybe this is the way real lesbian sex is, I have no idea. I willing to do the the research though.




  5. Night of the Bloody Apes - coo! Thanks to the mighty power of the Internet I get to see a film banned in the UK (well, until 1999 at least).
    A doctor's son is dying from Generic Terminal Non-specific Movieitis. To save his life Daddy hits upon the idea of giving him a blood transfusion from a gorilla - and just to make sure his system can cope with the more 'vigorous' blood, he gives him the gorilla's heart for good measure. Meanwhile, a sexy masked female wrestler, Lucy (who gains a good thirty pounds every time her stunt double steps into the ring) is having a crisis of confidence after putting her opponent into a coma. As chance would have it her cop boyfriend is assigned to find the missing ape.
    The morning after the operation, the 'cured' son undergoes one of those movie transformations which involves the poor actor remaining motionless for hours while eager make-up artists glue hair all over his face (only stopping every couple of minutes to have another frame of film exposed. It used to happen to Lon Chaney Jr a lot, apparently to help Lon keep his head in the right position as he got turned into the Wolfman, they used to make the 'pillow' on the bed he always seemed to end up lying on, out of plaster so it was a solid lump with a Lon Chaney Jr's head-shaped dent in it). In this case the whole process must have taken about twenty minutes because not only does our hero's head change but his entire body does too, suddenly he's not a feek and weeble invalid, he's a huge muscley Mexican wrester with a bad hair do and a shaven chest. He escapes. One (graphic) murder of a showering woman later, he's back strapped to Dad's basement operating theatre. To reverse the process Daddy needs a living human heart, luckily he has the coma wrestling girl from scene one lying about. (Everyone waits expectantly to see what the transsexual Mexican wrestling Gorilla transformation will be like). Our monster escapes again and three bloody deaths and one rape (in which our victim enthusiastically kicks great swathes of artificial grass off the studio floor) later and he's got her heart in his chest. It works! - for a bit, then the son transforms back into the monster, rips the head off the lab assistant, tucks his dad up in bed (I kid you not!), scalps a cop, kills a couple of doctors, kidnaps a child and gets shot to death on the hospital roof. "It's really sad." says the heroine. The End.
    What I suspect got this film banned for so many years (apart from all the rather gruesome gratuitous violence) was the fact that the heart transplant operations in the movie used footage of real heart transplant operations. Strangely shocking seeing real blood and a real human heart beating in someone's hands with all this sweaty Mexican nonsense going on around it.
    Curiously the Monster is shirtless but his trousers come up to his sternum. It always baffles me about the mores of these movies that it's okay to show open heart surgery, naked women, clothed women getting strangled and raped, people getting their eyeballs poked out. but showing someone's belly button? No, now you're going too far. Other curiosities include one of the props, a book, which turns up in just about every set. It's never opened, used, or even mentioned, it's just there, on every desk in Mexico.
    And why every beat cop in Mexico has a cod Irish accents is another mystery.
  6. The Apple - every now and then I just get totally lost for words. Back in the dark days of the eighties Cannon Films nearly took over the movie world. They owned Thorn EMI, cinema chains, movie studios, the works. Coming from practically nowhere they achieved all this by promising the Earth to anyone with more than $50 to invest, some interesting accounting practices, and sheer fucking chutzpah. And they made movies. Loads of movies. 43 in one year. None of them were any good and only the ones starring Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson took a cent after their first week.
    The Apple was their big musical.
    I have never seen Can't Stop the Music, the Village People's only movie, but I'm going to make a stab and say The Apple is probably ten times camper, twenty times worse, and has to be much funnier.
    The Apple has a paper thin story. In a totalitarian DiscoFuture (1994) where everyone wears silver suits with huge shoulders, And cars look suspiciously like late 1979 models with transparent domes and huge fins pasted on to them, a sweet innocent girl singer is seduced by the dark side and signs to the biggest agent in the business, the Satanic Mr Boogalow.

    .
    Please allow me to introduce myself, .
    I'm a man of wealth and... oh...

    Her true love doesn't sign but instead wanders about for a bit trying to remember what his acting teacher told him to do in what was going to turn out be his only movie appearance; he gets drugged and has his brains fucked out at a Disco Orgy and finally meets a bunch of Hippies led by Joss Ackland (trying manfully to pretend he isn't in the movie by hiding behind a huge beard). The girl sees the error of her ways and walks out on Mr Boogalow and she and her boyfriend live happily in the park with the lovely flower people - aaaaaaah! BUT! Just as the Disco Police lead by the evil Mr Boogalow and his lawyers are about to arrest the "Refugees from the sixties" for helping her break her contract, and two minutes from the end of the movie, our wooden hero looks skyward and mumbles 'I'm sure Mr Topps will come and rescue us...' to which his missus looks somewhat puzzled - as does everyone in the audience - because this is the first time anyone has heard the name 'Mr Topps'. Cue heavenly music. Enter badly matted flying Gold Rolls Royce, Enter Joss Ackland (again) in a white suit and long blond wig (this time trying to hide behind a very dodgy Southern accent) who whisks them all off to heaven. The End. Seriously, that's it. A real, genuine unabashed Deux Ex Machina ending.



    Chariots of the Acklands

    According to the IMDb the audience at the premier were given complimentary copies of the soundtrack. They threw them at the screen causing 'extensive damage' (to the screen presumably, I don't think we can hold them responsible for damaging the movie. Far too late for that). I don't blame them for throwing things but can't help thinking they would have been better throwing them at the director.
    You can catch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BY9cvgrP1c
    To be fair to the movie (why AM I doing this?) the ending might not have originally been quite as Deux Ex Machinistic as the final result. The trailer seems to contain at least one (wedding?) scene with the Hippies that doesn't appear in the movie. My DVD has a run time of 86 minutes, the theatrical release was 90, but even if those missing 4 minutes did set up a mythical Mr Topps it could have only been in the last few minutes of the film. Still pretty DEMish.

    EDIT: I just realised the difference in running times between DVD and theatrical are almost certainly due to differing frame rates (cinemas project film at 24 frames per second, TVs run at 25 FPS - 30 in the US) but it turns out there is a longer cut still in existence and I do need to get out more don't I?
  7. Madagascar 2 - Took the kids to see it at the local community cinema. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I hadn't nearly had a stand-up, knock-down fight with the digital 'projectionist' who wouldn't/couldn't see the problem with projecting a 16:9 movie at 4:3. "It just looks fucking WRONG! can't you see that? The shot, early on, when we see the little lion's POV of the gun barrel. The holes in gun barrels are round! - not oval!" What was even more depressing was that no one else seemed to notice. Or care. It's amazing how many people don't notice - or care - that whatever they are pointing their faces at is all squished up, or stretched out stupidly wide. I say 'pointing their faces' because they can't be watching it or they would notice. Wouldn't they?
  8. The Atomic Submarine - Movie acting 101: Don't tread on the next guys lines. It is (or was) standard practice in Hollywood movie acting to leave your lines 'clean'. Don't start talking till the other person has finished, especially if you are in a setup that you know is going to be intercut with another angle of the same scene - ie same dialogue but with another actor's face filling the screen. The gaps in-between the lines when nobody is speaking are what the editor needs to seamlessly splice the different shots together. He may overlap the sounds to make it appear as if both people are speaking at once, or stretch the silence to increase the mood of the moment, or alter the timing of a gag, but he needs it clean to start with.
    This is a very clean movie. Almost every line of dialogue has a second long pause at the end of it before the next one comes in. Sometimes there are pauses in the middle of lines. Too. Which is odd.
    Whole swathes of (admittedly banal) dialogue in this movie came over so ponderously slowly that I thought I was watching a rough cut. But when the dialogue in question is of this quality you can forgive almost anything. The scene is a small corner of studio space made to look like the ward room of the Atomic Submarine USSS Dogfart by having some pipes and lockers placed against a wall:

    Scientist #1:.
    (Bringing in a photograph of a UFO that looks
    uncannily like the underwater thingie that
    has just attacked the sub.) I knew there was
    something familiar. Take a look... This picture
    was taken by an amateur astronomer over
    New Mexico. I have had it since I served on
    the Air Force evaluation board for UFO reports.

    Explaining Acronyms Officer:
    Unidentified Flying Objects.

    Hero:.
    Then this is a flying saucer!...

    Scientist #1:
    That was the popular designation - yes.

    Officer:
    Weren't all the sightings in the sky? not underwater?

    Scientist #2:
    This would explain why there were never any reports of
    landings. It's quite possible that whoever or whatever
    inhabits this craft is not a land creature at all - but
    some sort of marine life...

    Another Officer:.
    That would make our little green men
    - actually little green fish.

    Hero:.
    Undersea Flying Saucers.... Hmmmm.


    The driver of the underwater flying saucer is wonderful a gloopy eyeball on a stick with tenticles that must have cost at least tens of dollars (most of the SFX budget went on filming the producers sons' toy submarines - presumably, from the quality of the footage, in the producer's bathtub) and is undoubtedly the inspiration for the one-eyed aliens in the Simpsons.

    Alien:

    At last Commander, we meet - as your people say... face to face!

    Hero:
    That's a face?
  9. The Bamboo Saucer - A hot-shot test pilot is buzzed by a flying saucer, looses his job, and becomes obsessed with proving he wasn't seeing things. He is recruited go on a secret mission to 'Red' China where reports have arrived of a downed saucer similar to the one he described. The (US) military wants the saucer destroyed rather than let the pesky Commies get their hands on it. In China our gung-ho heroes meet A bunch of Russians on the same mission. An uneasy truce develops between the two parties and at the end the three surviving members fly the saucer to Switzerland (via Mars and Saturn) with a fervent plea that all mankind unite. And you know what? It's not bad. It's not great, don't get me wrong, but for a film that starts so badly - the opening shot is a stock footage pan of a plane taking off which we are expected to believe is the view out of a window. I don't know about you but my windows don't move to follow the action outside. It slowly develops into vastly different movie. The first couple of reels are pretty standard Cold-war, Commie-bashing rubbish SF - including a cutaway of this rather wonderful graph showing the test plane's altitude:


    A graph showing the pilot is so out of control of his experimental .
    jet aircraft that he apparently goes back in time for a bit .


    But by the time we get to the end the mood has changed completely with both Russian and American finding common cause (and yes, Love) and nearly everyone ends up dead (including our 'star'). The three characters that are left alive are trapped in a runaway spaceship they cannot understand, seemingly doomed to crash into Saturn. But they figure it out. Not that there's aren't some real howlingly bad bits along the way - I mean really, what are the chances of an alien spaceship's door mechanism being triggered by the hum of a portible electric razor? And whoever wrote the line:


    Russians! One of them said 'Neit'!

    Needed shooting.
  10. The Strange World of Planet X - In 1958 Eros Films released The Strange World of Planet X (as well as the dementedly awful Fiend Without a Face). Just to prove the Brits could make bloody awful SF films too. In Planet X a government scientist and his assistants (one of them a WOMAN!) are trying to do something to something else with gigantically powerful magnetic fields. As it happens this is not a good idea because they accidentally dent the Heaviside layer and let in Cosmic Rays. These rays makes a tramp attack a girl in the woods and makes insects get really close to the camera so they look huge and then eat people standing further away. The movie is not exactly action packed. It's short; only 75 minutes but feels a lot longer. People just talk and talk and endlessly talk in that clipped British acting style that has, thankfully, long disappeared. Long takes (not in itself a bad thing) with stage trained actors taking turns delivering their lines towards each other before they forget them (preferably without moving their lips):

    "I have to say this now."
    "I'm glad you said that because I have to say this to you. Oh, and I have deliver a plot point."
    "Well I have a plot point of my own to deliver as well."
    "Really? Do you? That's rather good of you."
    "Would you like a cup of tea?"
    "Most kind, but no thank you. I have to go and get shot in the chest by a mad scientist. I have to attempt to persuade him from repeating the experiment and possibly dooming the world."
    "Do you?"
    "Yes, I do."
    "Sounds painful."
    "I expect it will be."
    "Well, Cheerio, old chap."
    "Cheerio. It's been nice acting in your general direction. I say, doctor Misguided, be a good fellow and put down the gun would you!"

    God it was boring. The script must have looked like a telephone book. So many words and so drearily delivered. Thank god for our hero Forrest Tucker who, being an American actor, managed to get out some of his lines as if he actually meant them - even if he knew they were garbage. Anyway, it all comes right at the end when the creepy stranger, Mr Smith, turns out to be a benevolent alien come to explain everything (at great length) and rescue everyone by painfully bad special effects.

    That's three movies in a row with Flying Saucers using magnetic lines of force for propulsion. Spooky.
  11. Parts: The Clonus Horror - (MST3K) Much as I enjoy Mystery Science Theatre 3000's riffing on crappy crappy movies, they do sometimes get it very very wrong. They got it wrong here. MST3K works well when the audience is complicit, when the movie is undeniably dreadful and deserving of derision. Parts: The Clonus Horror is not a bad a movie (but could easily have been so much better). Clonus doesn't deserve deriding like this. The central premise is good and the story credible (well... just.) In short, after a few brief establishing shots showing a presidential hopeful on the stump who we know we will be coming back to later (because he is played by an actor we recognise) we find ourselves in a strange happy place with lots of happy healthy people jogging and biking and being happy. Occasionally one of the happy people gets to go to a mythical 'America' and is never seen again. One of the happy healthy people starts to question what is really going on and discovers that he is the clone of an important person, and so are all the other happy happy healthy people (clones of different famous people that is- they're not all clones of the same person. he might have noticed that a lot earlier). They are, he discovers, mere collections of walking spare parts, kept in happy ignorance till their organs are needed by their wealthy 'parents'. As used to happen, but is no longer the case in American movies, the good guys don't win. The bad guys win. The hero ends up in a body bag awaiting dissection, and everyone who has helped him along the way is disposed of by the evil henchmen of the corporation in charge of the project. Chief amongst them is the presidential hopeful of the opening sequence (I told you!). It's not brilliantly done but it was good enough for Dreamworks to clone it as their 2005 movie The Island (starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson). When The Island came out the director of Clonus threaten to sue the hell out of them. He submitted 90+ points of similarity between the movies, a judge said he had a case, and Dreamworks settled out of court for a substantial sum. What lets Clonus down is some pretty bland acting from an uncharismatic lead, and a lack of budget - though they did pretty well for the quarter of a million dollars they did have.
  12. Earth Alien - aka Endangered Species. Eric Roberts is a cop chasing down a serial killer who turns out to be an alien hunter. Eric is helped by a mysterious stranger who turns out to be the Warden of the game reserve we know as the planet Earth. American cars it turns out are made out of napalm and nitroglycerine and explode if you look at them too hard. Turns out that the wintery look to the movie was more to do with it being shot in Lithuania, with a few American props dropped here and there, than anything else. Turns out I will watch any old shit if there is gratuitous nudity in the first ten minutes and the promise of more to come.


    Some gratuitous nudity.
  13. Inspector Gadget - 48 hours after watching this with the kids I have no memory of it whatsoever apart from the music. Do be do be di do do doo, do be do di dooooo... which I knew before hand anyway.
  14. Riders to The Stars - First directorial chore by Richard Carlson (who you may remember from such films as It Came from outer Space, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and as a career high point, eloping with Bette Davis' daughter in The Little Foxes) in which top scientists are recruited for a secret project by aged venerable Herbert Marshall (who I last saw wielding a fire extinguisher at killer robots in Gog - but who may wished to be remembered more for a career high point role as Bette Davis' husband in - The Little Foxes.) All attempts to shoot a rocket into space have failed due to their coming back to earth with their molecular structure changed by the bombardment of Cosmic Rays. The metal is brittle and smashes like glass. Somehow meteorites don't get changed this way, the 'iron and steel' (sic) of which they are made is somehow invulnerable. Ergo... (scientists pace before blackboards racking their brain for a solution) ...somehow they must have a protective coating which gets burned off in the earth's atmosphere! What we need is a bunch of volunteers to sit on top of stock footage of V2 rockets and go capture an meteor before it looses the protective coating and bring it back for analysis. At this point the writers neatly and cleverly get round the gaping circular logical plot hole flaw in their story by skillfully ignoring it and hoping nobody will notice. Three scientist eventually get chosen and blasted off to scoop up meteors. Two of them (one of them played by the director) die. One returns (much to the relief of the female scientist and Herbert Marshall who turns out to be his dad). Herbert takes one look at the meteor in the scoop and announces it's "crystallized carbon - Rockets and space stations will be able to stand the bombardment of cosmic rays with a coating of crystallized pure carbon"..
    "Diamond" breaths the lady scientist.
    And with the image of the 1950s American space program launching blinged up V2s firmly stuck in my head (far more securely than anything the makers of Inspector Gadget managed to stick in there), I'm going to bed.
  15. The Brain From Planet Arous - John Agar is a nuclear scientist whose body is taken over by the disembodied criminal brain of the title. Agar get to go "Mwahahaha!" a lot wearing scary contact lenses.


    .
    Are we having fun yet?

    Everyone else gets to act at thin air a lot when another disembodied brain from the planet Arous turns up and hovers around talking to his concerned family.
    For great periods people talk to the top right hand corner of their living room because the director told them that that is where the special effects guys would later place the floating brain - unfortunately he forgot to tell the special effects guys that this is what they were supposed to do (that or the money ran out) and so the poor actors spend a lot of on-screen time talking to lampshades.

    Spot the Brain Competition.


    Using your skill and judgment mark with a cross where
    you think the center of the giant floating brain should be.

    As it happens this second brain is a good disembodied brain come to save the world from the evil disembodied brain (both played by the same prop but with different voices) so, instead of taking over a human being, it merely possesses the family dog, popping out every now and then for a chat. I guess he had to pop out because having elderly actors talking to thin air is obviously cheaper than trying to teach a dog to talk. The evil disembodied brain has to pop out of our hero's head too. Once every 24 hours it has to stock up with oxygen. Our heroine leaves John a note and an axe. Brain pops out for a breather and John reads the note. Whack whack whack! End of movie, apart from the brief scene where the actress has to do kissing with John Agar again - which makes her wonder why she bothered.

  16. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - Terry Gilliam's finest baroque and roll masterpiece.
  17. Endangered Species - (a different one). Many years ago, when I had vague ambitions to be involved in the making of movies, I conceived a (to me) brilliant way of making interesting feature films for very little money. Out there are thousands of wannabe movie makers all making short, low budget movies which they hope will be their calling card to bigger things. My idea was to take a bunch of these short movies, shoot some sort of framing device, preferably in some budget reducing confined location - five people stuck in a lift tell each other stories? - and release it as a feature film. Basically I had re-invented the Portmanteau movie and, done right, it could have been a very cheap way of making a semi-decent movie. You could even get the wannabees to cough up a submission fee to have their short even concidered for inclusion - after all, this was their way of (possibly) getting a (shared) director's credit on a REAL FEATURE FILM! Get enough submissions and you could be in profit before you've shot a frame of the linking footage. I did actually pitch this idea to a few people but nothing ever came of it.
    Now someone has done it. And it's fucking awful.
    Three short movies 'interwoven' with a linking story. Unknown to the mass of humanity, time traveling aliens are amongst us fighting for control of the future - an idea lifted almost verbatim from Fritz Leiber's Big Time stories. Where this movie differs from my idea (apart from the fact I would have used good short movies of which there are many) is that it tries to interlink the stories. Characters from the framing story watch, comment on, and talk to the characters in the previously shot films, a technique which, instead of weaving the disparate footages together, has the opposite effect.The intercutting actually heightening the vast differences in quality and style. It makes the movie even more fragmentary than it already is (for instance, one of the segments looks like it was made in the eighties and the quick contrasting of the clothes and hair, then and now, is startling). I will however have a fond memory of this movie for a moment of inspired low budget movie set dressing. The 'hero' of one of the segments (a Hispanic teenager called 'Fritz' no less) arrives in Las Vegas in the van the director's cousin borrowed from work just for this shot. To disguise the fact that they've borrowed the van, someone had the brilliant idea of getting some gaffer tape and sticking pages of the script over the logos and phone number...


    Fucking awesome, dude! No one will ever notice!
  18. In the Dust of the Stars (Im Straub Der Sterne) - a change from the usual diet of American SF trash, Soviet Block SF trash! A group of cosmonauts answer a distress call from a planet only to find their help is not needed - or so it seems. The decedent bourgeois inhabitants they first encounter turn out to be the evil exploitative oppressors of the real inhabitants. Battle is joined and though victory is not theirs by the end of the movie, the newly invigorated downtrodden proletariat masses have a martyr and the leader of evil overlords knows he is staring eventual inevitable defeat in the face. Not very subtle but joyously different from the standard American Commie-bashing fare about loss of identity and soulless monsters consuming our vital bodily fluids. There was some gloriously odd costuming too, from the ludicrously outdated Flash Gordon black PVC minikilts of the bad guys, to the red leather flared cat suits straight out of an Abba fetishists wet dream worn by the females in the crew. Crank up the oddness with a villain whose hair is a different colour every time he's on, a spaceship that looks like the Post Office Tower, split screen scenes of mass hypnotism, and lots of fun with large snakes in a hall of mirrors, an utterly out-of-nowhere, non plot-driven naked dancer... (Full frontal communist nudity! "See! You, capitalist running dog, scum! We got boobies over here too!") you get the idea. Odd. Very very odd.

    .
  19. Arthur and the Invisibles - Which I enjoyed a lot more than I was expecting to, but by god! the script needed editing. One of those films in which everyone delivers vast amounts of exposition very rapidly.
  20. Eolomea - More Soviet Block SF. A little more sedate and certainly a lot less camp than the leather fetishists of In the Dust of the Stars. In this one spaceships ships are mysteriously vanishing. People investigate by standing around and talking to one another and there are some flashbacks to two characters' summer love affair - and it was all a bit dull. Turns out the ships weren't vanishing at all, just refitting before setting out to discover if there is life 'out there' beyond our solar system. A mission which is undertaken in a sense of noble purpose and self-sacrifice which is rare in American movies. (Other than the relentless coporate blandness of Star Trek). Not that I'm saying there isn't self sacrifice in American movies but it does tend to be more along the lines of: "It's no use captain (cough) I'm done for - you get the kids and Betty-Lou to safety. I'll hold them off here..." In Soviet SF there is a feeling of optimism. That Science, rather than unleashing endless mutated monsters and things man was best not knowing, is uplifting and enobling. There are things we do not understand and they may well be wonderful. Let's find out. The future will be better, comrades, if we all work together! (I am getting an uncontrolable urge to leanforward at an unlikely angle with my chin pointed at the future while a flag flutters behind me. I wonder what Cultural Revolution SF was like - if there was any.)
  21. Zathura: A Space Adventure - What jolly fun! despite the fact that our DVD player finally gave up the ghost just before the third act. Luckily I had bought its replacement this afternoon, so, after ten minutes wrestling cables and wondering just why I still have a Betamax player, I had it plugged into the insanely complex rat's nest of cables behind our pile of obsolete audio visual equipment we watched the end. The kids loved it. So did I. Mind you I have never seen Jumanji which, apparently, it closely resembles (it started life as the sequel). Jumanji has Robin Williams in it. I have seen enough Robin Williams movies in my life. (Including the one I am in.) I don't need to see any more.
  22. AfterShock - Totalitarian post-apoloclyptic future, kick-boxing, John Saxon, kick boxing, sub porn movie music, more kick boxing. I fall asleep. I wake up; John saxon is still alive - so is the bloke with white trousers and the sword. When I wake up again John Saxon is dead and the alien who dressed like Nacy Reagan is going home (as she arrived) via the medium of a smoke flare filmed backwards. Hero in white trousers, astride a low powered motorcycle, rides off into the sunset (ie out of the disused papermill where they shot the film). I fall asleep again but stay awake just long enough to notice there is someone called Chuck Skull in the credits. Another 50p well spent in the Save the Cancer shop.
  23. Martians, Go Home - not very funny (though I did laugh) adaptation of Frederick Brown's very funny novel of the same name. Which I now have to go read again.
June
  1. Darkdrive - I often watch movies that make no sense in which characters keep doing stupid things that make no sense for them to do merely to keep the plot going ("Do NOT ever go into that fucking cellar!), or built on premises that defy most known logic to start with (The Giant Claw springs to mind for some reason) but Darkdrive really does make no sense. It starts out by looking like it is going to make sense - in an incredibly clunky, by the numbers clichéd manner; the first act is almost a paint-by-numbers assemblage of stock action thriller lines - but by the end all semblance of logic had been thrown out of the window and driven away to the local dump.
    At the start our hero is a whiz-kid programmer working for a morally dubious corporation who runs the penal system of the future by digitizing villains into a virtual prison - called guess what? 'The Matrix' - and 'terminating' the bodies. By the end of the movie he is trapped in the virtual reality prison with his dead wife and a little girl who had a couple of lines at the start of the show, caught in some endless looping mashup of Groundhog Day / Existenz / Overdrawn at the Memory Bank but with more guns and swearing. The hero meets himself and turns out to be the baddie as well. Though how he got there before he got there to find himself is never explained. In fact no one knows why anyone is in there - or indeed how they got there (Mrs Hero for instance was blown up by a booby-trapped picnic hamper in the middle of a field*, nowhere near the brazzillion tons of special effects - OK, a chair and an arc lamp - needed to get her husband Tronned). It almost becomes hypnotically wonderful, as if David Lynch had directed Time Cop. (A feeling heightened by great chunks of the music which was as near to being the Twin Peaks theme as you could get without being sued.) I may watch it again.

    * There's another How To Survive a B Movie tip for you; never, ever tell your husband you're pregnant just after he's walked out on an Evil Corporation.
  2. Timelock - incredibly bad Future Prison movie in which sweaty leather-clad Vin Deisel wannabees run around a former mining asteroid turned penal institution shooting 20th century handguns at each other (as it was set in the 23rd Century, this is the equivalent of having James Bond run around with a muzzle loading flintlock) and generally being sweatily homo-erotically sadistic to everyone in sight. Pure crap. Not particularly enjoyable crap either. Zero imagination / WTF? points included the ship our villains planned to escape on needing a 3.5 floppy to get it to fly (I can't even start to think of an equivalent for today's transport - needing a quill and parchment to start the Space Shuttle?) and the side-kick baddy managing to smuggle not one, but two katanas (with scabbards) into the ultimate maximum security prison in the universe. Mindless bilge.
  3. For Your Consideration - I like 'independent' low budget movies in which I know none of the actors (apart from Steve Buscemi who does seem to appear in them a lot) and I like low budget movies about low budget movie making - of which there are not that many and none as good as the wonderful Living in Oblivion (which starred Steve Buscemi). So I was quite looking forward to this one (despite it having Ricky Gervais in it). I was, I'm afraid, sadly disappointed by the end of it. There were nice moments but it all seemed so slight. Maybe that was the point. I stayed with the credits long enough to notice that one of the Assistant Property Masters was called Skip Crank which cheered me up a bit.
  4. Southland Tales - I'm a bit of an ignoramus when it comes to all things modern. Not having a television habit beyond the ocassional hit from the BBC News channel, and loathing the whole 'Celeb' thing, I do miss a lot of what passes for Popular Culture these days. It was only when I looked up Southland Tales on the IMDb after watching it, that I found out I had just watched a Justin Timberlake movie. I know who Justine Timberlake is (it would be hard NOT to know who he is*) but I don't recall that I had ever actually seen him in the flesh as it were. And 'The Rock'**. He was in it too. Cool, never seen either of them in anything before. I won't try and give a synopsis of the movie - better men than me have tried and failed - but for the first 40 or 50 minutes I was in My Movie Happy place. Happily bewildered by a movie that seems to have lots of intersecting plot lines, presented in a layered disjointed fashion where you where never sure who was doing what and why. I love this feeling. The passing Philip K Dick references bedded me in. I was in Scanner Darkly / eXistenZ country. Slowly my happiness evaporated (or maybe just went away) and I started to get irritated, then bored, then very irritated (apparently you cannot be bored and irritated at the same time). What started out as weirdly fascinatingly paranoidly odd turned into repetitively messy and unconvincingly dull. And strangely familiar. The name Kevin Smith popped up in the cast list. I know the name Kevin Smith - director of Clerks, Dogma, and Chasing Amy. Kevin Smith it turns out is a good friend of the director. I disliked Dogma, and Chasing Amy for very much the same reasons as I ended up disliking this movie. They weren't movies they were comic books made flesh, out of control, mishmashes of over the top, juvenile ideas thrown at the screen in a hope that some of it sticks. Southland Tales was accompanied by a simultaneous release of three graphic novels which (or so I am told) help to make some sense of the movie. This is a sign of a writer / director totally out of his depth - or out of control. A movie should be able to stand on its own two feet not require three huge comic books to prop it up.

    Towards the end our most central character (hero?) puts a gun to his head and says something along the lines of:

    Hero:
    This is all in my head. A dream.
    I pull the trigger and it stops...

    Audience:
    Please... Pull the fucking trigger!...



    * (He's some sort of singer.)
    ** (He's some sort of wrestler?)
  5. Creator - Peter O'Toole is an eccentric maverick medical scientist determined to clone his long dead wife; he hires a girl to donate eggs for his experiments. His student assistant falls in movie lurve with another student who develops Sudden Onset Movieitis Syndrome - Brackets Brain Close Brackets - and falls into a coma. After an off-screen bit of paperwork from O'Toole's character to stop the girlfriend having the plug pulled on her, and some overwrought "Don't die, my love! I know you can hear me!" acting from the boyfriend, she makes one of those bullshit soap opera, last moment instant recoveries. From persistent vegetative state to sitting up in bed smiling with backlit hair in less than a day.
    For some reason this thin, predictable, turgid movie is adored by people all over the world: the IMDb pages are full of gush about it:
    Quote:
    "It will fill you with the joy of life"
    Quote:
    "Getting through this movie is an emotional roller-coaster, the kind where when the ride is over you go, "WHEW!" But then again, you don't want it to end. The gift of this film is that when the lights came up at the end, it sent me back to reality with a different perspective that truly IS a gift."
    and the scary:
    Quote:
    "I have made every boyfriend I have considered being serious with watch this movie."
    (Every boyfriend?) Making loved ones (or even potential loved ones) watch favourite movies is always a dangerous thing to do. A long term relationship of mine came to a sudden stop when she insisted on making me watch one of hers: Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same - it all went downhill very fast after that. Creator doesn't have Jimmy Page climbing mountains in search of characters from the Tarot or Robert Plant poncing about Wales waving a sword looking for the Holy Grail but it does contain one of the most embarrassingly awful movie shower scenes I can remember. I will never forget it. Let's face it; "Fuck macramé!" is not a line you get to hear that often in a movie - let alone delivered during an 'erotic' shower scene.
    In the end every one has learned something and found true love and moved on and another 107 minutes of my life has been wasted.
  6. Evil Roy Slade - Brilliant title. This week I are mainly watching Westerns. For several reasons I have a lot Westerns lying in the TBW pile. So this week I am going to watch nothing but cowboy movies. To start, a 1972 TV movie starring the great John Astin as the evilest dude that ever robbed a lot of banks. I remember seeing Evil Roy Slade some 30 years and it stuck in my head as one of those films that I would want to see again one day. Now I have. It's not as funny as I remember - but then, what is after 30 years? but it still made me laugh. Stuffed full of over the top sillinesses, "I learned a valuable lesson today. Never trust a pretty girl, or a lonely midget." and stupid sight gags: Evil Roy Slade trotting into town on the aforementioned midget's tiny pony was predictable but hilarious. "Look! they captured Evil Roy Slade - and half his horse!"
    Later Edit: The joke that is going to live with me the longest though, is the moment when the incredibly stupid Evil Roy Slade is told by the gang's accountant that they are broke. The accountant is a small, meek looking man in waistcoat and shirt, a caricature of a western clerk complete with one of those strap-on eye shade visors. He reels off a whole stream of figures while Slade stares at him in dumb incomprehension. Finally Slade says: "Where's the rest of yer hat?"
    Everytime I see one of those visors (and they seem to crop up in cowboy movies a lot) all I can think is: "Where's the rest of yer hat?"
  7. Time Bandits - one day into my week long Westernfest and things are going pear-shaped already. What happened was this: we all sat down to our usual Friday night Family Movie and Pizza session as normal. Calamity Jane tonight. Merriol is happy that she was going to get to share one of her favourite films with the kids, I'm happy it's a western (sort of) and the kids are just happy that there's lots of mozzarella on the pizza. A couple of minutes in and it's apparent that our battered old VHS tape is no longer watchable and is driving the player into an auto-tracking fugue state. Out it comes and I grab the first possible replacement (my pizza was getting cold!). Time Bandits. Merriol enjoyed it again, the kids were captivated and I was happy to see there were four cowboys in the final sequence. Hurrah!
  8. A Fistful of Dollars - It has been years since I have seen this and I had forgotten how utterly brilliant it is.
  9. A Few Dollars More - after only two films I can't walk out of my walk-in airing cupboard (which has double doors) without a cowboy swagger.
  10. The Good The Bad and the Ugly - Think that's me Sergio Leoned up to my eyeballs for a bit.
  11. Calamity Jane - Merriol loves this, Holly was obviously captivated, I spent most of the time watching the editing. There are some very odd jump cuts in it during song/dance numbers where they have obviously switched from one take to another without cutting away to disguise the join. I don't know enough about song/dance number editing of the period to know if this was normal or not.
  12. Night Train To Terror - So, God and Satan are sitting on a train and, having nothing better to do, they decide to watch three terrible movies that the producers made earlier out of the train window. To add to the agony the only other occupants of the train are the conductor and a 'rock' band (and their groupies) who spend the entire movie playing one song and break-dancing.
    I have no idea where to begin with this one. I am used to watching bad movies but I have never encountered one that caused physical hurt to watch before. God this was dreadful. The three movies must have been pretty bad to start with - actually I know one was pretty bad to start with because I have seen it in one of its full length versions (it was re-edited and re-released under different names a couple of times) and one of the segments was made up from footage from a film that had never been completed - but released anyway. So, God and Satan watch three insane disjointed films:



    1. Scream Your Head Off aka Marilyn Alive and Behind Bars - this is the one that was never finished before being released, but after they had released the unfinished film (straight to ex-rental video) they went and added more footage with a lookalike playing Marilyn Monroe trapped in a lunatic asylum where girls are being hacked to bits for spare parts.
    2. Omenesque rip-off crap Cataclysm aka Satan's Supper aka The Nightmare Never Ends (how we wished), and
    3. Death Wish Club aka Carnival of Fools - these guys got a lot of mileage out of their films - in which a medical student and his porn star girlfriend are made to join in a suicide club.
    The films are made even more incomprehensible than they were to start with by being reduced to less than a third of their running time... (curiously they chopped out the plot but left all the gore and tits in) and then the train crashes killing everyone on board (apart from God and Satan of Course). Ow! I am in real pain.
  13. Reefer Madness - I finally get to see Reefer Madness - another 50p (inc. postage) well spent on eBay. Reefer Madness, for those of you lucky enough never to have heard of it, is a 1936 film warning the parents of America about the evil of 'Marihuana' a drug 'more dangerous than heroin or cocaine' that was corrupting their twenty-something year old high-school children. Turns out to be pretty tawdry stuff - the movie, not the dreaded Mary Jane; one puff of 'The Weed' in this movie and you are on the Hop-head highway to a hell or murder, madness, and the uncontrollable giggles. A lot of my time watching this was spent wondering what the lighting guys thought they were up to. A lot of the scenes had the, for the time, pretty commonplace lighting gimmick of having the shadow of a Venetian blind cast diagonally against a blank wall in the background. Instant dramatic lighting. Always works. Except when your set designer plonks the window in the set and then puts curtains and pull down roller blind in front of it.


    "Where's that light coming from? Either I'm stoned...
    - or that window is a portal to another dimension!! Coool!"
  14. Plughead Rewired: Circuitry Man II - I've had a copy of this knocking about for ages. Starring former porn queen Tracy Lords, and a bloke who played a baddy in Mad Max 2, it's one of those movies that gets bundled into those 10 Sci-Fi Classics That No One Has Ever Heard Of box-sets*. I'm sorry now I didn't sample this earlier. For a nothing budget sequel to a hardly-famous-to-start-with movie I had a lot of fun with this one. It's stupid comic book nonsense that didn't take itself at all seriously and contained a few half-way decent jokes, a couple of odd ideas, and a quoting of one of my favourite trash movie lines: "Welcome to my mind!" (cf. FreeJack - though Vernon Wells' delivery of it comes nowhere near as camp as Anthony Hopkins'). Any movie that ends with a former multi-millionaire escaped convict delivering a Shakespeare sonnet to a rock has to be worth a look. It is also possibly the only movie that has the villain explode when he sees the hero kiss the heroine. Not metaphorically explode, as in explode with rage or frustration, I mean literally explode as in explosives - and body parts bouncing off the ceiling and hitting the screen, that kind of explode. Why he explodes when he sees the hero kiss his girlfriend is a mystery. The writer / directors obviously decided it was time for the movie to stop so had the villain explode. Boom! The End.

    *(For some reason no one ever bundles the original, Circuitry Man, and new DVDs of it are marked upwards from $150 on Amazon!)
  15. The Final Countdown - A US Navy aircraft carrier is magicked back by some unexplained time vortex thingie to December the 6th 1941 just in time (and position) to stop the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Just as they are about to stop the attack on Pearl Harbour the unexplained time vortex thingie reappears and brings them back to the present. End of story. Well that was 103 minutes of film time summed up in two sentences. I'm sure if I tried I could get it down to one. Or possibly a haiku. What a waste of time. Unless you like seeing shots of planes taking off from and landing on aircraft carriers of course - there's a lot of those. Shots of planes taking off and people walking away from the camera down the ship's corridors must occupy half the film's running time. About halfway through the movie there's a shot which sums up this whole thing for me. The captain, played by the producer's dad Kirk Douglas, walks onto the bridge of his ship. "Captain's on the bridge!" yells the officer in charge of yelling that sort of thing. Kirk walks to centre screen and thinks for a moment before turning round and leaving. "Captain's left the bridge!" shouts the same officer. What a pointless bloody shot! The whole film is like that, goes from point A to point A again via nowhere particularly interesting.
    The highlight of the film for me was, during one of the endless walking away down the corridor shots, watching a hapless extra (or possibly crew member) walk halfway out of a doorway in the foreground before realising he was in the wrong place and ducking back out of shot again

    The twee wee 'twist' ending is obvious from the moment it is set up just before the third act
  16. Hideous Sun Demon - An atomic scientist is exposed to a dangerous new isotope and devolves into a lizard creature - but only when exposed to sunlight! Which is a bit of a shit when you consider he lives in southern California. The tedium was broken by the bad girl, bar-room singer's impressive cleavage and an interestingly new (to me) way of breaking a basic rule of movie direction. Full explanation (with diagrams) to follow when I can think straight again.

    Edit:
    Movie Making 101: Breaking the Line. 'Breaking the line' is one of those things that you see a lot in bad/cheap/don't-give-a-shit movie making. It's one of those technical rules that, though it's not inviolable (no rule is inviolable), seeing it broken, unless it is done deliberately and with great care, is a sure sign that the director doesn't know what he's doing. Imagine if you will a scene with two characters in it. For simplicity's sake, let's make it really obvious: two cowboys face each other down a deserted street. There's no one else in sight. The 'line of action' in this scene is an imaginary line drawn between the two cowboys and extending (in a straight line) beyond both of them down the street to infinity. The director now has to make a choice, which side of the line does he place the camera?* Once he has made that choice he should stick to it. Any shots made of this scene should be made from the chosen side of the line and only that side - until such time as something is done to either radically change the line (Cowboy 1 dives behind a horse trough), or the line of action ceases to exist (Cowboy 2 shoots his opponent dead), or a new line of action comes into the scene (the Sheriff steps out onto the sidewalk and the gunslingers see him - in this case you now have three lines of action: the original between Cowboy 1 and Cowboy 2, and the two new lines between Cowboy 1 and Sheriff, and Cowboy 2 and Sheriff.).
    So what happens if the director crosses the line and shoots the scene from both sides? Nothing much; the world doesn't end, and no one dies but the film crew wastes a lot of time and the editor gets a lot of useless footage that she can't edit together. Again, to make this crudely clear, imagine our two cowboys facing each other down the street. The director chooses to place the camera halfway between them shooting at 90 degrees to the line of action. He has a wonderful wide shot of the two cowboys facing each other in profile. Black Hat on the right, White Hat on the left. If he then takes the camera across the street (and across the line) turns it around, and then shoots the same scene from that angle he now has a wonderful wide shot of the cowboys facing each other in profile but this time with the Black Hat on the left, and White Hat on the right of the picture. Cutting between these two shots will make the two cowboys swap places, jump from one side of the screen to another. It won't cut together. It would look terrible. The audience would not know what is going on. Okay, that's a very crude example. No director, no matter how incompetent, would attempt to do such a thing (unless they had some specific need to do so, like revisiting the scene later in the movie as a flashback, or deliberately wanting to disconcert the viewer).

    Here's a more subtle example from Reefer Madness:.


    In this shot the line of action is between the lecturer and the audience as a whole. It's a pretty weak line of action. There's nothing else going on in this scene. He's talking, they're listening.


    In the next shot he's still talking, but he's facing the wrong way. The editor did a good job is disguising the fact that the director had fucked up by cutting into this shot as the lecturer was momentarily facing screen right but it still jarred.

    In Hideous Sun Demon the interestingly new (to me) way of breaking this rule came about when this man, playing a doctor


    has to tell these two people, playing nuclear scientists


    That their vaguely handsome colleague has turned into a solar-powered lizard.

    A simple enough set-up you would have thought. From these first two shots it's obvious that the doctor is sitting slightly side-on to the two scientist who are over to his left (screen right). A bit stagey perhaps but it does the job. When our lady scientist starts to speak however, the doctor turns his head to listen to her -


    and is suddenly looking off screen left! Why is he looking over there? We know lady scientist is sitting right next to her colleague off to his right so why is the doctor suddenly started making up his own lines of action and started staring over at the corner of the room?

    Later the director tries to convince us these three shots belong to the same scene:





    For the purposes of the plot these two are supposed to be looking at each other. They're not. If she's looking screen left in the wide shot at the top there she should be looking screen left in the closer angle too. Fortunately for the director she has a magnificent pair of tits and since everyone would be staring at them, (and her incredibly crappy attempts to convince us she was playing a piano) very few people (crew and director included) were bothered about where her eye-line was supposed to be.


    * I'm deliberately excluding the possibility that he may chose to put the camera on the line of action to give the audience a Point of View shot (ie seeing, as it were, through the eyes of one of the cowboys), or a Sergio Leone type shot of a pair of boots straddling the frame with the other cowboy facing the camera in the distance. Both are perfectly permissible things to do but to keep this simple let's say he has to choose one side or the other.

    Wild Wild Planet - a re-watch an 1960s Italian SF epic that makes less and less sense each time I see it.
  17. La noche de Walpurgis - (which sounds a lot better than the The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman). Spanish / German Werewolf Vampire flick that goes through the usual motions: a werewolf seeking an end to his eternal torment, a vampire countesses bought back from the grave, vaguely lesbian vampire moves, people sliding stone slabs that conservatively weigh two tons from the tops of tombs with only minor grunting - but that's about it. Next!
  18. People From Space - probably the lowest budget movie I have ever seen. $7,000 dollars. Four people get lost in the woods looking for a UFO. Basically it's The Blair Witch Project played for laughs. And I did laugh - a couple of times....
  19. Horton Hears a Who -
  20. The Incredible Petrified World - One of those movies that makes starts of by making no sense whatsoever and, by the end of it has you doubting your sanity. What I think happened in it was this:.
    After an interminable five minutes of footage of fish and an octopus with a voice over telling us of the mysterious wonders of the deep we discover we have been watching film taken by a deep sea diving expedition (despite there clearly having been reflections of rows of spectators in the glass of the aquarium tanks). A brief discussion about the wonders of diving bells follows and we are told that a new diving bell is about to be launched. We cut to a boat at sea with a big diving ball thingy on it. The intrepid crew: two men (one of whom we last saw wearing a hooded jacket and ogling the pianist's tits in Hideous Sun Demon) and two women. They decend. But something goes wrong! and the diving bell falls off the cable and plummets 'several miles' (sic) to the ocean bed. When the crew wake they find it is light outside. Curious. they don their scuba gear - at this point I have lost the will to live. Not only has our writer - director managed to stiff us with one of the stupidist sets of the fifties we are also expected to believe they packed Scuba gear!


    (We spend a lot of time staring at this ladder and trying to see round it because more often than not it manages to obscure the faces of the actors as they deliver their lines - though, in a coup de cinema, when the other diving bell appears later in the movie it is painted black so as to make it clear, to anyone who was still watching, that This is not the same set! This is a different diving bell. Look! The ladder is a different colour!). They climb up the ladder in their flippers - an absurd sight worth the price of admission in itself - and swim upwards. The camera spends a lot of time at this point looking at the tightly rubber clad girls flapping about underwater and not a lot on the men, presumably this is an attempt by the directors part to distract the audience from wondering why, if they are 'several miles' underwater, they haven't all been crushed to a lifeless bloody pulp. Anyhoo, they all suddenly emerge in a cave! Light (Phospherecence - which casts strong shadows and air!). The boys go back to the diving bell and get the girls' shoes (I wish I was making this up). After wandering around the cave for a while they encounter a stock shot of a lizard and a hairy Ben Gunn type who has been living down there for 14 years after escaping from a sunken ship. (Honest!) It turns out there is no way out. They are trapped forever underground! The air that they are breathing is being belched out by a conveniently off-screen volcano. (Sic & WTF?) The boys make one last trip to salvage stuff from the diving bell just as:
    • The Other Diving bell (the one with the black ladder) just happens to be lowered to with a few feet of the first one.
    • The Old man tries to get a bit touchy feely with one of the women. "I like you best, let's kill the others."
    • The volcano explodes.
  21. Queen of the Amazons - this movie must have one of the highest ratios of stock to shot footage ever used in a movie. All the characters do for most of the running time is standing in a row and pretending to look at tigers, or standing looking out of a ship's portholes pretending to look at hippos, or, very bizarrely, at one point looking through a telescope at antelopes jumping around in slow motion. The story starts in India but moves quickly to Africa (presumably they ran out of Indian stock footage after a few shots of elephants and tigers) but did stay long enough to give me one of the best unintentional laughs I have had out of a movie for - oh, minutes. A 'native' is just about to impart vital information to our heroine when a luger slowly emerges from behind a curtain.

    Hapless Turban Wearing 'Native':
    "Listen... I tell you..."


    Slow pan to the pistol emerging from between the curtains - BLAM! Scream!

    Cut to:


    The mysterious shadow of the mysterious villain talking on the telephone.


    Mysterious Villain:

    A native has just been killed in room 207,
    you will notify the police at once!


    Quick establishing shot as hero enters the murder room. Four white people stare down at the floor. Presumably there is a dead, not-white person at their feet.


    Father in Law:

    It's a lucky thing no one heard that shot.

    Young Male hero:
    What happened here?


    Father in Law:
    I don't know but with all this native unrest if the police
    ever get wind of this there's going to be trouble. Their
    investigation may detain us here for a month.


    Noises off. He turns and pulls back the curtain.


    Father in Law:

    Oh, it's too late! - the natives are rioting already!


    Cut to:

    Footage from a more expensive film of several hundred turbanned extras wellying the shit out of each other with rubber swords..
  22. Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) - aka Blood of Frankenstein, Satan's Bloody Freaks, Teenage Dracula, The Blood Seekers, and The Revenge of Dracula. Another pudding of bewilderments 'directed' by Al Adamson who was reponsible for the incoherent Blood of Ghastly Horror (see April). Apparently some three years in the making Drac. Vs. Frank. mutated during its protracted shoot from being a biker movie starring Russ Tamblyn into a horror movie starring J. Carrol Naish, Lon Chaney Jr., and the director's wife. Both stalwart character actors now fallen on hard times, Naish and Chaney were very obviously ill, Naish confined to a wheelchair, reading his lines from idiot cards with his one good eye - his glass eye, refusing to demean itself stared fixedly ahead - and Chaney was clearly unwell too - he had a serious problems with alcohol - and was reduced to playing a grunting whimpering mute. Neither made another film after this. Dracula was played with consumate woodeness by someone called Zandor Vorkov in his first and penultimate screen appearence. He did though get to deliver the best / funniest line in the whole movie, though I really doubt it was intended to be anything but deadly serious.


    Drac. has, via the medium of long tedious exposition, convinced carnival freakshow proprieter Dr. Duryea (aka Dr. Frankenstein) that all his recent woes are the fault of a certain Dr. Beaumont (who we have yet to met on screen). With Dracula's help Dr. Duryea revives the original monster which, somehow, Dracula happens to have lying around*. About an hour's worth of flashing lights and arcing electricity later the Monster from its slab began to rise and suddenly, to my suprise...


    Cut to:



    EXT. STREET. NIGHT.

    A neon sign: 'HOSPITAL'. A man climbs into a car and drives away.


    Cut to:

    INT. CAR. NIGHT.

    The driver suddenly notices he has a passenger. He starts with 'suprise' and puts the emphasis on the wrong word when he says:.
    Dr. Beaumont:
    Who are you?

    Dracula:
    Keep driving, I will tell you where.

    Dr B has another unsuccessful go at getting his only line right.

    Dr. Beaumont:
    Who are you?.


    Dracula:
    (His voice booming with echoing menace.)
    I am Known as the Count of Darkness, The Lord
    of the Manor of Corpathia... turn here.

    Dr. Beaumont was played by Forrest J Ackerman. A brilliant piece of casting which guaranteed the producers free publicity beyond their wildest dreams because Forrest J Ackerman was, amongst other things, the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland, a magazine dear to the hearts of horror film geeks the world over.

    * Apparently, the original idea was to have The Frankenstein Monster turn into a vampire but they couldn't get the fangs to stay in the actor's mouth when he had the monster mask on, so they abandoned the idea.
  23. Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973) - Radiation and unspecified goo loving applied to naked women turns them into voracious lesbian Bee Girls who, like queen bees, only mate once, their male victim dying in exto/agony in the process. Lesbian Bee Girls can be easily spotted by their huge dark sunglasses, worn indoors and out, night and day; their propensity to fondle each other sensually at inappropriate moments (like their husbands' funerals); and their habit of emitting loud buzzing noises mid-bonk.

    Oh, you could also point a "Photo-sensitive gamma count synthesiser" at them but they can detect this and next thing you know you're getting the Bee treatment and being fondled by women wearing dark glasses, lab-coats and not a lot else. (Where do I get one?)
July
  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - for reasons which I will explain later.
  2. Krull - One of the dullest 'fantasy' films I know. Everything is so fucking ponderously slow... and I had to keep biting my lip and stop the MST3K type rifftrack that was bursting to get out of me because daughter number one was hooked ("I told you there would be kissing!") and it's one of Mrs JM's sacred childhood memories. But now I'm alone at the computer with none of my family shushing me or giving me 'stop pulling the ears off my teddy bear' glares...

  3. The Alien Factor - The second film I have seen directed by Baltimore's other trash movie director, Don Dohler (the first, and much better one, is John Walters). I titled the review of the first Dohler movie; 'I would Rather Eat Other People's Earwax Than Watch This Piece of Drek Again'. Same goes for this one. Full of painfully long sequences where nothing happens, very slowly, usually showing various non-characters walking uphill through the woods, sometimes towards the camera, sometimes away - versatile director, our Don - and usually followed by the exact same sequence of shots shown in the reverse order with the characters running away from whatever they just found. The director must have been endlessly telling his 'actors' to 'walk to the top and then run back down as if something is chasing you'. Still, I had fun spotting the continuity errors and the shots made on the days when the 'heavy snow' mentioned so often in the script had melted. And I did learn one trick which I will remember when I come to direct a cheap movie about people getting ate by aliens in the woods. Make all your characters wear blue jeans, then shoot a few shots of someone's (anyone's) legs walking through weeds. It will cut in anywhere!
  4. Fitzcarraldo (1982) - you know, sometimes you just have to put aside all the lesbian Bee girls, and rubber suit swamp monsters, and killer gorillas, and all that other good stuff and just watch Klaus Kinski going insane up a South American river for two and a half hours. The whole winching the boat up the hillside sequence was terrifying. I really wish I had seen this on the big screen.
  5. Burden of Dreams (1982) - a documentary about the making of Fitzcarraldo. Turns out the reason the sequence showing the hauling the boat over the mountainside was so terrifying was because it was terrifying. The designer of the pulley system they used gave it a 70% chance of failing with a 'catastrophic' loss of life unless the film makers made changes. They didn't. He quit.
  6. Phase IV (1974) - Much much better than I expected, this is the only feature film directed by Saul Bass, Oscar winning designer of animated title sequences (The Man With the Golden Arm, Psycho, Vertigo, Spartacus, Goodfellas etc.). After some (unexplained) cosmic event, desert ants start to demonstrate superior intelligence. Two scientists man a research base and attempt to communicate with them. This is what low budget movie making can be like. Basically the whole of the action of this movie takes place on one set, and one location. There are six actors seen on screen and four of them don't say much (one doesn't say anything before getting himself killed). And ants. There are a lot of ants. In super huge close up. Don't watch this if you don't like ants. I was very itchy at the end of it. The ending, after man and ant have come to some sort of understanding, is one of those enigmatic, post 2001: A Space Odyssey, looking forward to a possible bright new future for Mankind endings (sunrise and all) which were so popular at the time in SF movies. I like this kind of ending. It's optimistic without being patronising. All the plot lines and twists aren't ironed out and presented fully resolved, it leaves the viewer with the job of supplying their own ideas, it treats the audience as if it has some kind of smarts and isn't just popcorn-chewing, seat-buying fodder. (The fact that this isn't the director's original ending but was imposed by the Producer, is even more remarkable because - as I understand it - the director did originally want to cross a lot more Ts and dot a lot more Is for us.) And when did 'Possible Bright New Future' endings (must come up with a good pithy acronym for this) replace the old 'There Are Some Things Man is Not Meant To Know' endings of the 30s 40's and 50's. Was it 2001? I need to watch more movies to find out.....
  7. Bee Story - the less said about this the better..
  8. Idaho Transfer (1973) - So, back to the 1970s SF... Idaho Transfer is a time travel story in which a group of young students travel some 60 years into their future to find a post-apocalyptic wasteland. They don't make them like this any more. During the course of the story the heroine accidentally kills her much more sympathetic sister and ends dying herself when she is shoved into the fuel tank of a car by a passing motorist who finds her starving at the side of the road. Hardly a 'Possible Bright New Future' ending but not the pat Hollywood happy ending that would have been nailed on by the suits these days. Featuring a cast of mostly unknown or unprofessional actors who, for the most part, never did anything else. Slow and horribly dated in parts (Hippies never age well) this is a strangely disturbing little movie.
  9. Mesa of Lost Women (1953) - a candidate for the most annoying soundtrack ever recorded. I first watched this film five years ago (IMDb comments). It hasn't got any better since.
  10. Tank Girl (1995) - Almost against my better judgement I like the Tank Girl comics. They're stupid, violent, rude, and pointless but they are pure trash fun. The film is not. It's stupid right enough, (a bit) violent, (a bit) rude, and certainly pointless but it's not fun. Maybe the character was doomed to fail on the screen after all beer swilling, kangaroo snogging, tank driving, punkoid lad-ettes aren't that common in Hollywood films and the attempt to fill out the character, give her a back story and make her spend the last part of the movie running around trying to save a little girl from the clutches of the evil corporation is just pure formula bullshit imposed on an uncontrollable anarchic character*. The tank ends up as just another piece of window dressing. In the books it is a major part of Tank Girl's life (She lives in it. Hell, she even gets pregnant by it!). The film makers doubly nail their heads the coffee table of fortune's hostage (I lost control of that metaphor in the middle somewhere) by using a lot of Jamie Hewlett's original art in the movie, both in the opening credit sequence and, from time to time, intercut into the action. "It's wild!" You can almost hear the director telling the producers. "It's Wacky! Wild and 'With it'!" - Wrong! All it does is remind the audience how wonderfully inventive the comic was, and shows up how predictably pedestrian the film is. Bad move.

    * I know the marketing of a movie has very little to do with the making of a movie but the systems mishadling of the character is summed up most neatly by the movie's tag line: "In 2033, justice rides a tank and wears lip gloss." Tank Girl wasn't about Justice! It was about beer, and fags, and having sex with kangaroos, and playing baseball with live hand grenades.
  11. Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity (1987) - yet another adaptation of Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game".
    First published in 1924, The Most Dangerous Game tells of a big-game hunter from New York, who falls off a yacht and swims to an isolated island in the Caribbean, there he is hunted by an insane Russian aristocrat who, bored with hunting animals, has taken up hunting human beings, the most dangerous animal of them all. The story has been reworked and adapted endlessly since it first hit the screens in the 1932 version starring Joel MaCrea which was, reputedly, shot at night on the jungle set of King Kong. There have been at least eight feature film versions since. This one is almost certainly the first to feature androids, mutant jungle beasts, and quite so much Victoria's Secret lingerie - often in the same shot.


    The other set.
  12. Sex Madness ( 1938 ) - Oho! Cheap 1930's sex exploitation film which hammers home its message with a badly edited sledghammer. and some wonderfully over the top hammy acting. It does for STDs what Reefer Madness does for dope. After starting off clumsily setting up several posibly interesting, suitably sordid and lurid storylines; Lesbian seduction, M type child murderer driven to kill by a flash of knickers in a burlesque show, the son of the town's biggest blue nose reformer attending a drunken orgy with a fast chorus girl, the movie suddenly throws them all out of the window and we follow the trials and tribulations of Milicent, a chorine who, having won a beauty contest, goes to New York, gets the clap, then returns home to give a dose to her innocent childhood sweetheart. The film returns to the blue-noses' son towards the the end and the scene where he confesses to his father that he too is... gulp! 'a victim' has some of the most hilariously wooden acting I have seen for ages.
    The sound quality of the copy available here gave me one of the best unintentional laughs of the night. It took me several replays before I finally understood that the innocent Millicent wasn't telling her doctor:

    Millicent:
    Oh, it's just the usual sort of
    a story I suppose. After the contest
    was over I thought of all the
    wonderful things a girl ever dreams
    about - Fame! - and Fortune!
    - and Luncheon Meat!


    (It's at about 18 minutes in if you want to work out what she's saying for yourself.)
    Re-edited several times, and released under a variety of titles to gull the gullable ( aka Human Wreckage, They Must Be Told, Trial Marriage, About Trial Marriage... ) Sex Madness was the almost shot for horrendious line crossing shot 'inspiration' for the Social Disease! section of the very variable Amazon Women of the Moon.
  13. Grease - I don't like Grease. I thinks it is a vastly overated film which, apart from Eve Arden and Stockard Channing (Hubba hubba!),* has very little going for it at all - apart from making John Walters' Cry Baby and Hairspray look even better. Holly was entranced, though I'm glad she didn't ask too many questions about the lyrics:

    Quote:
    You know that ain't no shit we'll be getting lots of tit
    In Grease Lightning
    Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go

    Go grease lightning you're burning up the quarter mile
    (Grease lightning go grease lightning)
    Go grease lightning you're coasting through the heat lap trial
    You are supreme, the chicks'll cream for grease lightning
    Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go

    Purple french Tail lights and thirty inch fins
    oh yeah
    A Palomino dashboard and duel muffler twins
    oh yeah
    With new pistons, plugs, and shocks I can get off my rocks
    You know that I ain't bragging she's a real pussy wagon
    Grease lightning
    "Daddy? What's a 'pussy wagon'?"

    *(Just want to point out that that 'hubba hubba' is just for Ms. Channing alone, not Eve Arden, nice woman I'm sure she was.)

  14. The Brain ( 1988 ) - 'Brilliant' but cocky snot-nosed teenager with attidude is sent to the mysterious Psychological Institute just outside of town. We know he's a genius because his idea of fun is flushing half a pound of 'pure sodium' down the school's toilet to make them explode. He does scientific japes, see? This is also the movie's idea of foreshadowing - that and all the 'Danger Sodium is used in this area!' signs all over the boiler room we know is destined to be the scene of the climax - every wall has at least one just in case any got lost in the final edit) At the Psychological Institute just outside of town our 'hero' discovers that the creepy doctor running it (and hypnotising the local population via his TV show) is in cahoots with a giant brain (complete with teeth, googly eyes, and a prehensile spinal column). With the help of his girlfriend and another more disposable male friend with a terrible mullet he destroys the brain just before the TV show goes nationwide. (Actually he does it alone, the bad mullet gets eaten by the brain (sic) after being somewhat useless, and the girlfriend gets TV hypnotised and chained to a pipe.) Made in Canada, The Brain tries for weird unease and creeping visceral horror but blows it by throwing the monster at the screen within minutes and leaving itself nowhere to go. It looks like a cheesy low-budget David Cronenberg wanabee (One Cronenberger with cheese!) and ticks many of my favourite bad movie cliche boxes: Disembodied brains, gratuitous nudity, movies made in Canada always being set around Christmas*, prolonged chases up and down the same two stairwells (though no one did that leaping over the railing thing that has always baffled me), lousy sound, and women doing that 'backing up to perfectly flat walls for no other reason that to have hands suddenly come bursting though the wallpaper to grab them' thing - I never can have enough of that.

    *Snow. As I have said before, the only reason for snow in a movie is that it's Christmas. The Christmassness in this movie is minimal. One brief snatch of Christmas music over a car radio, and a discarded Christmas tree on the sidewalk outside the hero's house in the dénouement. It's a measure of the movie's cheapnesss that in the final long shot of the street - in which we see the hero's garbage set out for collection - that his is the only house with a pile of garbage outside it. Either our hero's family are incredibly tidy and have their garbage out long before any of their neighbours - or the production company was so strapped for cash they couldn't afford more than one pile of empty cardboard boxes to dress the location. (This is actually a fib. A quick review of this final shot shows at least three other cardboard boxes and a couple of bin bags. Me Bad.)
  15. The Saint (1997) - Do do di do doo doo doooooooo.... See Val Kilmer wear wigs! See Van Kilmer wear false mustaches! See Van Kilmer do funny foreigner accents! See Val Kilmer bore the pants off the audience! What a plod of a movie. What should have been a jolly James Bond meets Diabolik piece of fun turned into a long trudge of 116 minutes worth of bollocks as, on behalf of the Russin mafia, Val Kilmer steals the 'formula' for cold fusion from a beautiful lady scientist (who keeps it tucked into her bra). When was the last time anyone seriously built a movie around a professor's secret formula written on a piece of paper? This is 1940's serial plotting - not in itself a bad thing, many an enjoyable movie has been built around recycling paper thin ideas from paper thin movies but few have taken themselves so deadly poderously, bum-numbingly seriously as this one does. Anyway. Not many complication ensue. Good triumphs over evil. The dénouement seems to take half the length of the movie again but I will remember this one slightly fondly for one moment. It does include the most incredibly crap 'baddies telling each other the details of how clever they have been in their evil scheming just so the audience can hear' scene outside of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. "He! He! He!" type evil laughing and all. Who would have guessed all the heating oil for all of Russia had been syphoned off into a tank under the baddies' palatial hideout? Who indeed? Who but the Russian mafia would happily discuss such things as Val Kilmer, disguised as a cleaning lady, plants a bug in their evil headquarters?

    Elisabeth Shue was pretty.
August
  1. Toy Story - Gets better every time I see it.
  2. Tarzan, The Ape Man (1981) - I think I would have to be paid to watch this again. Dear god. I'm a bloke, and like most blokes I know I am somewhat fascinated by boobs. Boobs are incredibly brilliant things for all sorts of reasons (most of which I won't go into now) but dammit, I need something else in a 107 minute movie. A story? Some dialogue? Some direction? - John Derek, Bo's husband was cameraman and director and obviously thought that the world shared his obsession with seeing his wife get wet - every scene seems to involve Bo falling into water, or going for a swim, or having a bathe, or getting washed down. It's like being relentlessly pummeled with Pirelli Calendars or old Penthouse magazines. 107 minutes of watching Bo Derek (who also produced the movie) getting wet, jiggling her boobs about a bit, and doing 'acting' does not for a enjoyable evening make. (Does touching your mouth all the time count as acting?) Other highlights included Richard Harris (apparently bored out of his mind) seeing how loud he could shout, and wild Oran-outangs in Africa. Dull beyond belief. Mind you, it's not every day you get to see a movie producer kissed on the nipple by a chimpanzee.
  3. The Exterminating Angel - Luis Buñuel. Not seen many Luis Buñuel films yet but if they are all as good as this I will have to go hunting.
  4. Kronos (1957) - Plodding Invasion from Space movie which hasn't got any better since I watched it last year but this viewing did provide me with one of my irritatingly abstract Namethatfilm Flickr group screencaptures..



    I watch these things way too closely for my own good, and I am not alone. The movie was identified, from this still, within a couple of hours....
  5. The Island - shameless rip-off of Parts: the Clonus Horror (qv) which, despite (or more likely because of) having several shitloads of money thrown at it is a far far inferior film. Parts was by no means a perfect film but it tried hard to make itself credible. The only real thing we were asked to swallow whole and undigested in Parts was the fact that cloning was possible and that the clones of rich people could grow up from infancy, isolated and innocently ignorant of their true nature until their adult bodies were need for spare parts. In this piece of shit we are not only asked to believe that cloning is possible but that it is possible to clone people into adults. But also that, in defiance of the law which requires them all to be brain dead hunks of meat, it is also necessary to keep the clones fit active and happily aware - because the Evil Corporation* has discovered that if they don't give the clones a happy clappy life the organs fail within a few years. So, lots of scope for playing with ideas about what makes a human human and how far would we as individuals go to keep ourselves alive. Could we would we kill another version of ourselves to live longer? Lots of ideas to play with. All of which are totally ignored in favour of lots and lots and lots and lots of explosions and endless fights and explosions and shooting as our heroes are pursued by elite ex-SEAL security bods who fire off brazzilions of rounds of ammunition without hitting ANYTHING they aim at, manage to get their hands nailed to doors with a nailgun (I kid you not) and are out run, out fought and out fucking everythinged by a three year old clone (who, until the day before, got his exercise being beaten on the X-Box by Scarlett Johansson). He's a lucky son of a bitch too is our hero. Here's the latter part of one of the chase sequences:
    Our clones are on a flat-bed truck hiding under its load of train axles and wheels. A helicopter and many many trucks full of well-armed (but presumably cross-eyed) supergoons are in pursuit in a variety of vehicles. Ewan McGregor (for he is our three year old hero) accidentally pulls the only strap holding these several hundred tons of scrap metal onto the back of the truck. The axles start to fall off the truck. They smash into the following vehicles. Vans carreer all over the place. Car parts whang around like ping pong balls. The driver of the truck on which our heroes are fighting for their lives doesn't notice. He doesn't notice that his load has fallen off. He doesn't notice that the motorway behind him has suddenly turned into a demolition derby. He doesn't slam on the brakes. This. Is. Bollocks. Any truck driver in the world would slam on the brakes as soon as they started loosing their load. (I asked my Brother in law who is a Truck Driver). The baddies, now having run out of cars, launch two supersexy, two-man jet powered motorbikes after the truck. Ewan hits one of the drivers of one of bikes with a bit of chain he happens to find lying about - he finds bits of chain lying about and hits people with them with monotonous regularity in this movie - the people fall off the bike. Ewan and Scarlett get on the bike. They out-fly the pursuing baddies on the other bike and cause them to crash. (Obviously playing boxing with short blonde women on the X-Box is fucking good training for this sort of thing). Ewan and Scarlett crash into the side of a building. Ewan and Scarlett go right through the building in loving, plate glass smashing slow motion. They come out the other side of the building, fall off the bike, land on the stupidly huge, three storey high, bright red corporation logo the building has glued to the side seventy storeys up. They recreate the end of North By North West and Ewan hauls Scarlett to safety. The baddies arrive in a helicopter and start shooting at them. Other baddies arrive up the lift (this how we know it's 70 storeys) and start shooting at them from an open window. Shoot shoot shoot they go. Between them, these two sets of villains fire so many bullets in the general direction of the logo that they manage to bugger whatever is holding it onto the side of the building and it breaks away - all this without ONCE hitting our hero and heroine. For some unexplained reason the helicopter goes round the building while this is happening, looses altitude and reappears just in time for the logo to finally break loose and fall on top of it. Explosion. Falling helicopter. Falling three storey high corporation logo. Falling heroes. Some sixty storey of falling later all this stuff hits a building site. Massive amounts of flying scaffolding poles and building materials are now added to the maelstrom. The soundtrack is very very loud. The dust settles - and our two protagonists climb out of the wreckage without a fucking SCRATCH!
    And that's just one of the chases.



    *You knew there was going to be an Evil Corporation didn't you?
  6. Bound - Lesbians vs The Mafia. Three years before they made The Matrix the Wachowski Bros. made this small neo-noir crime film which works on all its levels: it's smart, it's funny, and it's sexy. Loved it.
  7. Track of the Moon Beast (1976 - well 1972 really but it was four years before the director - who was never allowed to direct again - could find a deaf / blind film distributor who would take it off his hands.) Track of the Moon Beast (aka nothing) Is a laboriously paced lo-budget, no-rehearsal variation on the Werewolf theme in which our hapless (and talentless) hero is struck by a chunk of moonrock which has been chipped off the moon by an asteroid (sic). A small piece of moonrock meteorite lodges in our hero's noggin and therefore, inevitably, turns him into a rampaging death-dealing creature when the moon is full. Just for a change he doesn't turn into a wolf-like thing but a giant lizard-like thing with predictable and tedious results. Monster. Girlfriend. Baffled police. Baffled scientists. Old legends. Scientist friend who puts two and two together - all the usual ingredients flacidly served up with amazingly inept direction. By the early 70s, after over 30 years of making this story, you would have thought that anyone who could point a camera in the vague direction of an actor could have done this with their eyes shut. Maybe that was the problem - maybe someone said "I bet I could make this movie with my eyes shut" and actually tried. It would explain a lot. I spent most of the movie calling unused edit points. Unused because, presumably, there was nothing to cut to. It's a game I started very early on in the film. First real shot of the movie, which runs under the opening credits, is a motor cycle driving to camera. As the credits finish the bike pulls off the road middle distance and (slightly ineptly) parks. The rider starts to pull off his helmet - and that's where we should cut to a close up. Just as the rider pulls the helmet off. "Our hero ladies and gentlemen! You will be spending the next 80 plus minutes in this man's company so let's have a good look at him and show you what a good looking hunk he is..." except there is no cut because there's no close up; the rider pulls off his helmet, looks about a bit, gets off the bike, and before the opening shot has finally finished, half the audience have gone to sleep. There's a lot of that in this movie. Lots of whole scenes played out in wide shot. Very boring. Very slow.
    I'm off to find the MST3K version now...
  8. Invasion Earth: The Aliens Are Here ( 1988 ) - There are many contenders for the title of The Worst Film Ever Made - last night's movie, Track of the Moon Beast, is currently number sixteen on the IMDb's bottom 100 - but Invasion Earth: The Aliens Are Here is my preferred candidate for the title. It's shit. To quote my own IMDb review:
    Quote:
    No matter how bad a movie is (and I have watched a LOT of bad movies recently) there is always some redeeming feature: a horrendously ill-written line, an idea that falls flat on its face, a moment of unintentional humour - something. There's always a little something that lifts it for a moment and leaves you with a warm nugget of discovery - something to hold on to as the rest of the mindless drivel flickers past your eyeballs... this movie's only redeeming feature is that it is just 78 minutes long.

    It is crap. Pure unmitigated, grade Z, unadulterated, high-fibre, total shit from the hopelessly confused start to the pathetically flat non-ending.
    A second viewing some four years later hasn't improved it in the slightest. The central gag of the movie is almost good enough pass muster. I can hear the pitch now: "Aliens take over a small movie house and splice together footage from old SF movies to hypnotise the audience into.... er... well, we'll work out why later. But how about it? It'll be cheap!" They got the money but never did work out the why. Most of the movie's running time is taken up with cheap clips from older (much more interesting) bad old movies (or, even cheaper, their trailers) intercut with 'comedic' moments of people falling over and accidentally throwing popcorn over each other, and fantastically absurd and badly handled attempts to parallel (parody?) the action in the old movie on the screen with action in the cinema house itself; near the start there is a particularly incomprehensible sequence which intercuts between footage from The Blob, in which the titular blob* takes over a movie house, and the aliens taking over the movie house in which the clip from The Blob is being shown. It doesn't work. I have no idea what it was supposed be doing. Whatever it was the movie makers thought they were doing here, they failed. This is not uncommon in bad movies but most of the time you have an idea what the makers were trying to do.

    *Not a phrase you get to write that often.
  9. The Gunfighter - one of those great Westerns I have never seen before. It is wonderful. Apart from anything else, in these days when every sodding second of every sodding movie is scored, it was great to see a movie which had no music. No swirling syrupy violins telling you what you should be feeling at any particular frame. I may be wrong, but after the opening credits I don't think there is a single piece of non-diegetic sound in the whole film. The only piece of music comes right at the end as the congregation sing at Jimmy Ringo's funeral.
  10. Over the Hedge - predicable bit of Dreamworks animation that takes all Pixar's usual bag of tricks and ticks and doesn't add many of its own. There were a couple of moments that made me laugh but the 'For the Adults' movie references were painfully clumsy and dragged it down. Naming a character 'Stella' just so another character can do the Marlon Brando / Streetcar "Stellaaaaaah!" thing is just plain insulting to the intelligence.
  11. Young Frankenstein - Isn't Teri Garr wonderful? Opening a week-long Frankenfest on my telly (why not?) my favourite Mel Brooks film.
  12. Blackenstein (1973) - Blacksploitation take on the Frankenstein story with some terrific expository dialogue:
    Quote:
    "Yes, Eddy, Doctor Stein just won the Nobel Peace Prize for solving the DNA genetic code...".
    Armless and legless Vietnam vet Eddy gets new arms and legs (where the utterly respectable Dr Stein gets them from is not explained) but Frankensteiny complications set in when creepy servant Malcolm deliberately swaps Eddy's 'DNA formula' for that of another patient (he's very woodenly in love with Eddy's wooden fiancée, Dr Stein's assistant, and wants his rival out of the picture). Most of the first half of the movie is made up of endless shots of the genuine 1930's Universal Frankenstein props in full colour, three people in white coats preparing injections, and establishing shots of the Doc's house (Enough already! We know where he lives!). The second half, shadowy disembowelings of hastily introduced 'characters' in dark alleys. It's a textbook exercise in padding. There is one wide shot of the lab in which the vague shadowy outline of our newly risen monster is seen walking slowly from screen right to screen left that runs for one minute and twelve seconds! - two shots later there is a phenomenally uninteresting 42 second shot of the monster walking away from the camera, in a location we have never seen before, and just in case you missed the shot in the lab it is repeated a few minutes later with fiancée girl asleep in the foreground. In the end the monster is eaten by police dogs! Utterly inept.
  13. Lady Frankenstein (1971) - Frankenstein's daughter Tania (Tania Frankenstein?!?) attempts to avenge her father (killed by his own creation) by building a creation of her own. She does this by whanging her husband's brain in the body of a hunky but simple-minded servant boy. The usual rituals of by the numbers mayhem is served up but with a generous scattering of boobs and bums, and a wonderfully bonkers score which, on the crappy, legally downloaded copy I watched, drowns out great chunks of the rather strange dialogue. The movie has all the classic post Universal Frankenstein clichés. Torch-wielding mob, sparky things going ...zzzzzzzzzp! ...zzzzzzzzzp!...zzzzzzzzzp! in the lab, and the inevitable opening roof, up to which the soon to be animated corpse is lifted at the hight of the thunderstorm - though budgetary restrictions here meant that the platform only went as high as the top of a stepladder, and the lightning was simulated by a passing grip throwing some small fireworks about. That other staple ingredient of the Frankenstein myth, the moment when 'the monster' accidentally drowns a little girl he is innocently playing with, is presented with a real twist here. For no reason whatsoever (apart from the obvious) our smock wearing creation chances upon a couple mid bonk. She, as was the habit of Italians having sex in the seventies, is totally naked and he still has his trousers on. He runs away. She screams, gets picked up, faints and is thrown into a convenient river where she drowns. Creation number two kills creation number one, the torch wielding mob burn down the castle and creation number two strangles his wife/creator/employer (Frankenstein's daughter) while they are having sex in the lab. The End. Joseph Cotten (yes, that Joseph Cotten) played Frankenstein and the rather yummy Rosalba Neri played his daughter.
  14. Flesh For Frankenstein (1973 aka Andy Warhol's Frankenstein - and a shitload of other titles including the rather wonderful Up Frankenstein) A very gory very hysterical mess. It was only towards the end I realised they were trying for comedy and had been all the way through. I should have been tipped off when Udo Kier as the baron humps his half-finished female creation on the slab and then declaiming in his thickest Cherman accent: "To know death, Otto, you have to fuck life... in the gall bladder!" but I was having so much trouble trying to stay awake. The dialogue was inane and the pacing leaden. I suspect - though I have no evidence, not that I've looked for any - that a lot of the dialogue was semi-improvised. Improvising is hard work even if you know where the scene is going and what information you need the audience to hear, doing it in a second or third language as these guys appeared to be doing, must be next to impossible. So, Germans improvising very obscurely black comedy with lots of tits and giblets thrown at the screen (it was shot in 3D). Got that? Good. Another film I watched so you don't have too.
  15. House of Dracula - Dracula, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein's Monster, Misguided Kindly Doctor Turned Evil By One Of His Own Experiments, and (as a brilliant cherry on the cake) a Hunchback Nurse! incredibly dull trash heaven. Dracula turns up at a kindly doctor's cliff-top castle wanting to cured. So, by an amazing coincidence, does The Wolfman. When the doctors says he can cure the Wolfman but not before the next full moon our tormented lycanthrope throws himself off the cliff only to be swept into a sea cave that: (big breath) not only contains the preserved but inert body of the Frankenstein monster (apparently last seen sinking into quicksand!), but has the perfect temperature and humidity for growing the 'mold' with which the doctor plans to cure the Wolfman, AND also contains a hitherto unknown secret entrance to the castle. Phew! (I would guess our screenwriter was a two bottle a day man.) So - not a lot happens after that. Dracula turns a tap during a blood transfusion and turns the doctor evil and just as the obligatory low buget mobette (What is the word for a small mob? Is there such a thing?) of torch wielding extras turns up wanting to know what's going on and where their paycheck is coming from, the doctor throws a couple of switches, revives the monster and the castle collapses in flames around their ears. The last of the Universal Frankenstein movies - Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein ( 1948 ) doesn't count - it's a sad ending to the saga spawned by the bonkers glory of James Whale's Frankenstein and the even better Bride of Frankenstein.
  16. Singin' in the Rain - Friday night pizza movie choice of daughter number one who, at the tender age of seven, is showing an excellent taste in Hollywood musicals.
  17. Mistress of Atlantis - G W Pabst's weirdly compelling version of the much filmed novel L'Atlantide by Pierre Benoît (this is the second of seven filmed over the years). I've never read the book and I imagine the story has been pared to the bone here but what reaches the screen is wonderfully hypnotic and dreamlike with minimal dialogue and almost every shot slowly re-framing, panning, tilting, or dollying. I wish I had a better copy. Like the one this screen capture came from:



    For some reason I cannot begin to fathom I find images of wind-up gramophones in the desert strangely fascinating.
  18. The Mole People (MST3K) - I also find the films of John Agar compulsive viewing too. So far this year I have seen him shrunk and shoved in a bottle (or was that last year) and had his body taken over by an evil discorporeal brain from another planet. He really is a dreadful actor. In this one he climbs a mountain falls down a hole and discovers a lost tribe of albino Sumarians who live on a diet of mushrooms, spend a lot of time whipping Mole Creatures, and are ruled over by Alfred from the Batman TV series - basically nothing much has changed since the last time I watched it a year ago. But that was the full vanilla version. Mike and the Bots added more than the usual amount of hilarity to this one.
  19. Slipstream (1989) - odd one this one. As SF movie pedigrees go 1980s movie credits couldn't get much better than this: directed by the writer director of TRON, starring actors who had appeared in Star Wars, Aliens, and BBCs excellent Edge of Darkness, the producer of two Star Wars films was in charge, the editor had cut Alien and Legend, hell! even the conductor had worked on Robot Monster in 1953 (but I doubt if he boasted about it)*. What arrives on the screen is a weirdly disjointed long aeroplane chase which switches location from what looks like a very wet and miserable North Wales to a sunny and dusty Turkey without missing a beat, has Bob Peck playing a poetry quoting android, wandering a post apocalyptic wasteland in a business suit pursued by a blond, bearded, psychotic lawman Mark Hamill waving the kind of long-barrelled pistols only previously seen in Sergio Leone movies. The sort of climax takes place in an underground museum lorded over by F Murray Abraham. Very odd. I'm not sure it works - but the memory of it made me want to watch it again. It's not as good as I remember it, which is odd given that I see from my blog that I didn't particularly like it the first time I watched it.
  20. It! The Terror From Beyond Space - well, Mars actually. I seem to be in a rewatching mood this week. I first watched this one a year ago and this time I was struck mostly by the wonderfully efficient set design. Most of the action of the movie takes place in a spaceship, with the crew moving from deck to deck trying to outguess and kill the rampaging monster loose on-board. (It's Alien 20 years before Alien was written.) The space ship in the movie is a real spaceship, one of those 1950s pointy silver cigars with wings, and the decks were stacked up one on top of the other, like layers of a cake with a central set of ladders and hatches. Each deck was different but, on a second viewing, obviously shot on the same set. Walls were rearranged and it was dressed differently, different signs over the doors etc. - and bugger me it worked. It's a clever bit of set design. Babylon 5 used a similar, simple but effective trick. Each 'sector' of the station was called by a different colour 'Green sector', 'Blue sector', etc The corridor sets incorporated a coloured strip at about hip hight. It must have taken only minutes to strip off one colour and substitute another - "and here we are in Grey Sector!" It worked and... and my geekyness is showing isn't it?

    *As an added bonus it also has the rather yummy Rita Wolf whose boobs were the only decent or memorable thing about My Beautiful Laundrette.
  21. Ghostbusters (1984)- I first saw Ghostbusters many many years ago. I didn't like like it. I just didn't understand why anyone though Bill Murray was in any way shape or form funny. Anything I saw him in just fell flat. Then a few years ago I saw him in Jim Jarmush's Broken Flowers and I got it. I suddenly saw what everyone else had been seeing in him all along. He was funny! So I was quite looking forward to watching this again. I still don't like it. It's not particularly funny, or scary or complicated. Couple of nice lines: "Listen... do you smell something?" and "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." have entered my Great Lines To Steal list. But the rest of it I thought was pretty blah. What was fascinating though was watching the other actors on screen finding Bill Murray funny. One shot had William Atherton, as the health inspector, in a OTS where Murray had his back to the camera. I don't know what Murray was doing - because we can't see his face - but Atherton was fighting hysterical giggles whenever he looked at him. The shot didn't sit well in the scene as Atherton's character was supposedly angry and aggressive at the time. he same thing happens in a similar shot with Sigourney Weaver - but she's supposed to be laughing so it works.
  22. Laserblast (MST3K) - again.
  23. Christmas on Mars ( 2008 ) - Low budget art SF film that looks good, sounds great, and has a weird otherness that makes you keep watching - but fails to be truly wonderful because the script, if there was one, is so thin as to make it near pointless. The Plot: Major Syrtis (the only obvious joke in the movie, folks) is living on Mars in a wonderfully realised junkyard of a base. This is what space stations will look like after a few years of habitation; it's a cobbled together, patched and repaired mess. It's what the spaceship in the SF movie that I'm never going to make looks like; the bastard offspring of Mir and Dark Star - anyway, back to the plot: It's Christmas eve 2055. The first baby on Mars is due to be born the next day. The 'oxygen generator' breaks down. Major Syrtis is organising a carol service but the man he has appointed to play Santa Claus is having hallucinations and runs out into the Martian surface wearing the Santa suit. He dies. An enigmatic (ie he has no dialogue) alien arrives and is told to put on the Santa suit. The enigmatic alien fixes the oxygen generator. The baby is born and the alien departs. The End. Christmas on Mars apparently took some seven years to shoot - a lot of it in sets built in the director's back garden and, though it looks wonderful, you would have thought that at some point over the seven years someone would have thought to write some dialogue that consisted of more than "Um..." and "Fuck!" I'm not against swearing. Far from it I think a good well-placed expletive can work fucking wonders. But when erm... every fucking line in the fucking movie is fucking um.. well... um... fucked up. Then... you know. Um.... er... you know - fuck it! This may be the way people talk in real life but movies aren't real life. Even movies that look like real life don't look like real life really looks. Even on Mars.
  24. The Hapiness Cage (1972) - aka The Demon Within, The Mind Snatcher. A very young Christopher Walken gets his personality wiped in a very stagy set-bound adaptation of a play in the Clockwork Orange, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest vein. Not badly done but very wordy.
September
  1. Gattaca (1997) - a decent bit of SF that eschews the usual running, shooting, and SFX and delivers an intelligent plot with some logically consistent twists. There are a couple of minor quibbles I have with it (Why anyone would build a walk in incinerator you can switch on from the inside is a bit of a puzzle.) But on the whole a pretty good effort.
  2. The princess Bride - Friday night with the kids - and I wish I was still doing the Three Degrees of kevin Bacon thing because the link between these two would have been so easy. How many movies are there that have six fingered characters in them?
  3. Alien Nation - formulaic mismatched buddy cop movie with a twist. One of them is an alien. Not badly done to start with but I started to loose it when our nasty villains throw one of the Aliens in the sea and he dies a horrible painful death. "Sea water's like battery acid to them!" I can't even start to work out the body chemistry of the aliens which allows them to get high on sour milk (pH of 4.4 - mild acid) but dissolve in sea water (pH 8 - slightly basic). Another oddity was the villain... and to explain the oddity you need to know the back story to the movie. Over to you Mr Wikipedia:.

    "The movie is set in 1991, three years after a flying saucer bearing enslaved aliens (the "Newcomers") has crash-landed in the Mojave Desert. Los Angeles becomes a new home for the aliens, who take, or in some cases are assigned, sometimes comical human names (such as "Rudyard Kipling"). Now back to the JunkMonkey in the studio..."

    Thank you, Mr W. So. Quarter of a million aliens are processed through immigration and learn English with remarkable speed - the alien half of our hero partners (a demihero?) tells the human half he learned English in three months - they landed in America, they live in America. They have assimilated to American culture incredibly well in three years. Why then is the bad guy alien the only person in the whole movie who doesn't have an American accent - in fact he has a British accent? Answer: Because he is played by Terrence Stamp. And he's the villain. To the collective chicken brain that was running Hollywood at the time, all villains had British accents. Even ones that were supposed to be from a different species and have travelled untold light years to get here!
    I was just about to abandon Alien Nation when it abandoned me. Somehow I had managed to screw up the timing on the VCR and the tape ran out. The only reason it's in this list and not the 'Films I have abandoned for containing to much of the wrong kind of awful:' list is because the alien demi-hero was played by Mandy Patinkin who was in this evenings other movie, The Princess Bride. Serious Kevin Baconage going on here, and too much of coincidence to resist.
  4. Futuresport ( 1998 ) - In the future the biggest sport in the world will be Futuresport! A sport so futuristic it is played while wearing bicycle helmets! It's that futuristic. Wow! And the point of Futuresport will be to throw a small ball into a hole while people try to hit you with sticks - wait! no! The point of Futuresport will be to make Rollerball look good. No! wait... I've got it now, the point of Futuresport is that the world's best Futuresoprt player will solve the world's problems by challenging the evil Pan-Asian (non American) Conglomerate to a winner-take-all game - where the winner takes control of the disputed Hawaiian islands and millions of people won't have to die in a war! Hurrah for sport! Hurrah for Futuresport! We know the Pan-Asian (non American) Conglomerate is evil because they pay their hired goons in Euros! and have people with beards and English accents, and, even worse, Australians with visible metal plates in their heads working for them and - even even worse - they cheat! Boo! Hiss! But the good guys have an ace up their sleeve - Wesley Snipes in a Predator wig and a Jamaican accent! He knows how to cheat even better than the cheating foreign bastards because he invented Futuresport! Hurrah! - It's not about 'playing the game' apparently.

    When the best thing about a movie is Wesley Snipes taking off a pair of sunglasses (and accidentally looking like Whoopie Goldberg) you know you're in trouble. Total. Fucking. Crap.

    I'm tempted to go to Morrisons and ask for my quid back.
  5. Batman (1966) - I pulled rank on FridayNightisPizzaandMovieNight and made the kids watch it. Holly loved it. I win!
  6. Leolo (1992) - my habit of buying any VHS on the Tartan or Artificial Eye label that I come across pays off again. Leolo is a 1992 French Canadian movie that might have won the Palme d'Or if the director hadn't told one of the judges (Jamie Lee Curtis) that he wouldn't mind fucking her like the little boy in the movies fucks a pig's liver. I really don't know whether I really liked it or hated it. I laughed, I was repulsed, I was captivated by its beauty, and bored by its self indulgence. A piece of Art, or a piece of Crap? Will I ever watch it again? I really don't know. I do know I won't forget it in a hurry.
  7. Dark City ( 1998 ) - Which looked even better on a second viewing (only partially because it was on DVD this time and not crappy old VHS). Annoyingly the DVD didn't have an option to avoid the opening narration - added at the chicken brain studio's insistence - which gives away 99% of the story before you get to the opening credits. So here is my usual Dark City caveat: If you have never seen it before, and you don't have the Director's Cut version which omits the narration, keep the sound muted until the opening credits. A crackingly good SF movie.
  8. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) - Will Ferrell - Comedy genius or not? Still haven't made my mind up. I do know though that Gary Cole is turning into one of my all time favourite character actors.
  9. The Card - Charming gentle little British comedy based on an Arnold Bennet novel which I dearly love.
  10. Time of the Apes (MST3K) - one of those dreadful Japanese Kids TV shows edited together by Sandy Franks to look like a movie. This time a blatant rip off of The Planet of The Apes with obligatory annoying Japanese child in shorts and lots of pointless running around and pointing. Fever-dream stuff.
  11. Tron - Again. For the umpteenth time. This time as a special birthday treat. Mrs JM booked the High School's auditorium and I get to watch it on the biggish screen with friends and relations - some of whom have never seen it before (and are bemused). I like Tron. It's a fascinating film. The story is pretty rubbish very simple (verging on the simplistic); it lends itself (if you could be bothered) to any number of interpretations: it's an allegory about belief systems, global capitalism, a reworking of the Frankenstein story with the creation becoming the master, a darn good chase movie etc... take your pick. The acting and direction are nothing much to get excited about , they're competent and serviceable - but the look of the thing, the style. I love it - mostly, as I have said before - and several times today to whoever would listen - it is because it was never copied.
    The Star Wars style was ripped off, copied, duplicated, and watered down by other jump-on-the-bandwagon film makers, and so merchandised to death at the time, and since, by George Lucas that the freshness, novelty, and sheer fun of the first film is unrecognisable now. It's been buried under millions of tons of over-priced cheap toys, tatty imitations, and huge bloated pre/sequels.
    Tron never suffered that fate. No other movies co-opted the Tron style. It is one of a kind. This is not to say the movie has not been influential; no one can read any cyberpunk without seeing that, but in movie terms Tron is a unique stylistic treat.
    It was sold at the time as being a major innovation, the first time computer graphics had been used in such a massive scale in a movie and some of the graphics are still amazing. But what struck me watching it today was that so much of the movie was made with traditional animation techniques - people at easels with paper ink and airbrush. In 1982 it was still easier faster (and therefore cheaper) to paint backgrounds by hand to look like computer images than it was to make the computer images themselves. Things that I can do on the desktop computer with Photoshop in minutes were beyond their budget. The actors were Rotoscoped into the backgrounds by hand - a phenomenal amount of man hours - according to Wikipedia 500 people worked on post production including 200 inker and hand-painters employed in Taiwan. There is a sequel in the pipeline. I'm not looking forward to it. Computer animation has become so commonplace that whatever they do it is going to look like just another movie.
    Though, if they get a decent story this time....
  12. The Dish - It's the first moon landing. Neil Armstrong is about to set foot on the moon and it's windy in Australia - and that is about as exciting as this movie gets but jeso this is a great movie. I was in tears at the end of it. I was watching people sat watching a historical event on the telly and I had tears streaming down my face. I have no idea how or why this film works but it does. I think a lot of it has to do with the sound. The sound is wonderful, sometimes you are simultaneously listening to two or three things - in addition to the general background atmos: overlapping dialogue, archive news coverage, music and each layer of sound is telling you things and feeding you the story. It's wonderfully rich. And very funny.
  13. Stranded in Space (1972) MST3K - very not good TV movie pilot, for a never to be made series, in which an astronaut finds himself trapped on Earth's evil twin. Having a planet of identical size and mass orbiting in the same plane as the earth, but on the opposite side of the sun, is a well worn SF chestnut - the idea is over 2,000 years old, having been invented by the Ancient Greeks. In this version the Counter World is run as an Orwellian 'perfect' society. Where for totally inexplicable reasons everyone speaks English and drives late model American cars. After escaping from his prisonlike hospital, the disruptive Earthian is chased around Not Southern California by TV and bad movie stalwart Cameron Mitchell who, like his minions, wears double breasted suits and black polo neck jumpers - a stylishly evil combination which I fully intend to adopt if ever I become a totalitarian overlord. Our hero escapes their clutches several times before ending up gazing at the alien world's three moons and wondering aloud if he will ever get home - thus setting up one of those Man Alone in a Hostile World Making a New Friend Each Week but Moving on at the End of Every Episode shows so beloved of the industry in the 70s and 80s (The Fugitive, The Incredible Hulk, The Littlest Hobo etc.). The curiously weirdest bit was the title sequence. Somewhere between Stranded in Space first airing (under the title The Stranger) in 1972 and the MST3K version in 1991 it had somehow acquired footage from the 1983 movie Prisoners of the Lost Universe. So in 1991 the opening credits for 'Stranded in Space' ran under a few shots of three people falling into a matter transmitter and vanishing. It's a sequence that has nothing to do - even thematically - with anything that is going to follow. Just to add to the nerdy B movie confusion, one of the actors in this randomly nailed on footage is Kay Lenz who later appeared in a 1994 movie called Trapped in Space. Knowing this fact could never save your life, but it might score you very big points and admiring looks from fellow trash movie enthusiasts - if you could ever work out a way of manoeuvring the conversation round to the point where you could casually slip it in without looking like a total wanker...

    As an example of the shoddiness of the show: play was made of the fact that on this counter clockwise Counter Earth most of the people were Left Handed! (How scary weird and evil is that!) But quite why an alien planet full of left handed people wrote (in English) from left to right, instead of right to left which they would have found a lot easier to do, is never explained.
  14. Earth Vs The Spider ( 1958 ) MST3K - one of those Cold War paranoia movies that isn't anything to do with the Cold War - or paranoia. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing, Invaders from Mars and even I Married a Monster from Outer Space can be seen to be reflecting the mood and preoccupations of America in the late fifties early sixties - the fear of Atomic War, and the overwhelming conviction that there was a Commie spy under every bed. Earth Vs The Spider has nothing to do with any of that. Like most of Bert I Gordon's movies it's about jumping on the bandwagon and making money quickly by showing people running away screaming from something very big before the hero manages to electrocute it in the final reel. This one is shoddier than most of Gordon's Giant Things Chasing People movies and even manages to namecheck a couple of his other works - The Amazing Colossal Man and The Attack of the Puppet People - by having one of his characters work in a cinema which, by some amazing coincidence, only seems to show Bert I Gordon movies. When Preston Sturges managed to sneak in a poster for one of his other films at the end of Hail the Conquering Hero it was knowing and funny - here it was just pathetic and cheap. But then the whole of Earth Vs The Spider is pathetic and cheap - for 'Earth' read a small Californian town for 'Spider' read - well a spider, some hapless hairy spider shot in close up and superimposed on streets and roads as the script required. This movie contains some dreadful dreadful matte (or forced perspective) work as various characters wander round a darkened studio with decoupaged pictures of caves cut from the National Geographic Magazine held up in front of the camera for them to walk past. 5.6 on the Dreadfulometer. Extra points for having a 35 year old man with a receding hairline playing a teenager.
  15. My Fair Lady - Holly's love of Hollywood musicals surfaces again. But I had forgotten it was almost three hours long! God there's a lot of songs in it. I was still awake enough at the end of it to spot a hitherto unreported (on IMDb at least) continuity error - In the final scene when Henry Higgins sits on the chair as he listens to her voice on the phonograph, Eliza's shadow can be clearly seen on the carpet behind him, to his left (screen right). In the next shot she is shown entering the room. Hurray for me! ( I know.... ) Four days later Holly interrupts us long-windedly asking her about something (but without giving her the chance to answer) by declaiming, like Mr Dolittle in the film: "I'm willing to tell you. I'm wanting to tell you! I'm waiting to tell you!"
  16. Anchorman - Okay, that's me Will Ferrelled for the next few years. I think I just reached saturation point.

October


  1. Spiderman - Pizza night choice of daughter number one. First time I have seen it. Spiderman was never my favourite Marvel character - a lot to do with Steve Ditko's drawing - I never did like his stuff so I wasn't too disappointed. The kids loved it. I spotted continuity errors and enjoyed some of the character actors doing their thing; J.K. Simmons (whoever he be) was brilliant as the newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson. Best bit of the whole movie.
  2. Queen of Outer Space - I love watching actors work. Even bad actors. And the best time to watch actors work is when they aren't saying anything, when they are reacting to what is being said, or when they are watching other people saying things. Cheap shoddily made films like Queen of Outer Space allow plenty of time to watch actors work because, for a lot of the time there isn't much else going on on screen. Actors willing, or forced by circumstance, to work in cheap low budget movies like this are cheaper than just about any other element of the film - except maybe stock footage. Special effects - even crappy ones - are labour intensive and expensive. Which is why I was overjoyed to suddenly find this piece of cockuppery in a piece of bilge that I know far too well for my own good.
  3. Devil Fish (MST3K) - "A shark... with tentacles!" That's about all you need to know really, isn't it?
  4. Charlotte's Web - I've never liked Charlotte's Web, too overly-sentimental for my taste. Mind you, I never read it as a kid and that often helps make childhood classic reading - er - classic. So I was not looking forward to this (it'll be bloody Heidi next, mutter, mutter ...) and the constant bloody Danny Elfmanesque music was driving me up the wall by the end of the first ten minutes, but some of the CGI was pretty good - actually some of it was pretty amazing if you stopped to think about it - and there was always the old standby of 'Spot the Voice' which can keep me entertained during the dullest of animated movies. What does it say about me that I recognised Steve Buscemi's voice but not Julia Roberts' or Robert Redford's? The end was vastly over-long. I just sat there for the last ten minutes willing it to end. "For god's sake stop milking it - the movie's over already." The end credits finally started to roll, I heaved a sigh of relief, Holly burst into tears - and so did I. (Almost.)
  5. Quest of the Delta Knights (MST3K) - David Warner - one of my favourite character actors, whose staggering workload of genius includes Tron, Time Bandits, Time after Time, and a gazzilion voice-overs pays the rent by playing three roles in a straight to video piece of historically confused junk which seems to have been filmed at a Renaissance Fair. It must be strange being a jobbing actor, one day you're playing opposite Steve Martin (when he was funny) in the Man With Two Brains, the next you are picking up an Emmy for playing a Roman in a miniseries, the day after that you are hiding behind a variety of bad, stick-on facial hair surrounded by a dozen or so extras trying to recreate a geographically woolly Dark Ages by sheer will-power alone - an effort doomed from the start by the costume designers letting anyone who had their own 'olden days' costumes turn up and be in the movie. "Vikings hat? Fuck yeah! you're in. Hey, Louis! There's a guy here with a viking hat. Shove him on a horse and give him gun will yah?" The only thing going for this movie were the heroine's tits which were shoved into one of those 'lift 'em up and wobble 'em' dresses Barbara Windsor always seem to wear in the 'historical' Carry-On movies. They were fun. Probably the only reason Warner took the part.
  6. The Screaming Skull (MST3K) - The movie opens on a shot of a coffin. A voice over by a Serious American Male: "The screaming Skull is a motion picture that reaches its climax in shocking horror, its impact is so terrifying that it may have an unforeseen effect. It may kill you. Therefore, its producers feel they must assure free burial services to anyone who dies of fright while seeing - The Screaming Skull!" The camera dollies in the the, now open, coffin which is empty save for a hand lettered sign: 'Reserved For You'.- Dramatic Music!

    I fell asleep.
  7. Mission Stardust - When I'm not watching unwatchable SF films I am quite often reading unreadable SF books - I'm especially fond of the execrable Perry Rhodan books. Mission Stardust (aka the usual shitload of names around the world) is the first, and sadly, last attempt to bring the character to the screen. I had heard of it's dreadfulness for years It is, I read, so dreadful that fans of the books deny its very existence. A movie so bad people who liked Perry Rhodan books thought it was crap? This was a movie I had to see!
    And now, thanks to the mighty power of the Interweb and unseen friends across the Atlantic I have, at last, watched it. It is as dreadful as I had hoped. I will have to watch it again and write more about it because it appears to be a woefully under-appreciated piece of Eurocheesyness (only 6 reviews on IMDb). The special effects were remarkably shoddy for a movie of the period - at one point the light from a descending model rocket casts shadows of the sorrounding Lunar mountains onto the painted sky behind them. And I swear the 'rays' the aliens robots shoot out were made by scratching the emulsion off the negative. This looked crappy in the 1930s when Buster Crabbe zapped people with hand scratched zap rays in Flash Gordon serials. Deserves a closer, more detailed viewing. Watch this space - if you dare.
  8. Werewolf (1996) - Archaeologists (hah!) discover the skeleton of a werewolf in the Arizona desert. The film crew has no budget - though they did have at least on an arc lamp with a switch on it so lots of lightning but never any rain. The leading actors are both Germans pretending to be American; for both of them this is their 'other' movie (I have an IMDb listing longer than either star of this turkey). Highlights (and most of the on-screen budget) include:
    • An ancient Italian American security guard turning into a werewolf - while driving slowly past the same petrol station several times - before crashing into a sudden outbreak of middle of the highway, randomly placed oil drums full of explosives.
    • A lead actress who, struggling with her insufficient English, cannot say the word 'werewolf' the same way twice - even in the same sentence. The ability to say 'werewolf' convincingly should, I would have thought, been an prime asset in a film which is, for the most part, about wherevulfs. Whurwolfs? Wharwulfs? Worewolvs...?
    • A lead actor who presented with the task of transforming from vaguely symmetrical human being (as far as I could tell his only qualification for the part) to hideous hell beast (or at least the hairy teethy glove puppet shown in close ups) without the use of make up, choosing to writhe around and gurn on a bed like a constipated porn actor being told to fill in while his co-star goes for a pee. First year drama school stuff. "Now class, I want you to imagine you are bacon frying ... "

    And there's a 'twist' ending too! - pity it doesn't make any sense and its obvious from a mile away what it's going to be.
  9. The Thief of Bagdad (1927) - not The Thief of Bagdad (1940) which we had been expecting - damn Blockbusters! but both daughters, having got themselves into the frame of mind to watch an Arabian Nightish adventure, chose to watch a black an white silent epic with actors spending half of the time pointing wildly at the corners of the screen than something else more modern, in colour and with dialogue they didn't have to read off the screen. None of us realised it was two and a half hours long. One fell asleep, the other was hooked. Stunning sets - and Anna May Wong was lovely. "I think she is beautiful," as number one daughter kept saying. Mind you, she also said of some black actors: "I think they are African people, but I can't tell because it is in black and white."
  10. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) - What a quiet, restrained little movie this is. After watching far too many hysterical 1950s SF movies in which the 'World Communistic Threat' was thinly disguised as Aliens From Another Planet, either worming their invidious way into the vital bodily fluids of right thinking Americans, or rampaging, destroying and plundering property before being vanquished by the gallant Army, Navy, and Air Force - or assorted white coat wearing scientists - it was a pleasure to watch to see the other side of the coin for a change as a human like alien with a Message for all Mankind ("Stop with the bombs already or face certain annihilation from Higher Powers") is pursued and persecuted by the paranoia of the age. The Christian Allegory subtext isn't very far beneath the surface (the visiting alien calls himself 'Carpenter', is killed and resurrected before delivering his message, and then ascending to the heavens) but doesn't intrude.
  11. Bedtime Stories ( 2008 ) - Meh Disney Family Movie which I watched with my family in a family way and we are all happy... I think I did laugh - once.
  12. Succubus ( 1968 ) - My first Jess Franco film. I'm really not sure what to make of it. Sort of like Federico Fellini crossed with Luis Buñuel with great dollops of Ken Russell thrown in for good measure. I adore Fellini, I'm new to the wonders of Buñuel, and I loathe Russell. I hope I learn to like Franco for no other reason than he has directed some 190 movies. Some great titles too: Vampyros Lesbos, Killer Barbys vs. Dracula, Naked Super Witches of the Rio Amore, and the immortal Two Female Spies with Flowered Panties. No idea what the films are like, but the titles are great.
  13. Fun With Dick and Jane (1977) - I've been wanting to see this again for years. I have fond memories of it. And for the last few of years I have been repeatedly disappointed as I keep thinking I have found it when all I have found is the remake with Jim Carrey. Today - Tad Dah! Morrison's cheapo bin rewards my diligence by turning up the George Segal, Jane Fonda original. And what a fun little movie it is.
  14. The Anderson Tapes (1971) - inevitably there is a remake in the pipeline.
  15. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - A second viewing for me. Not a Potter fan to start with I was less than bowled over on a second viewing. I got a bit of entertainment from watching the editing and spotting blunders (Harry P is at one point is - if his POV under the Cloak of Invisibility is to be believed - as tall as Professor Snape. Which he patently isn't.) and wondering why the owls in the movie were so damn loud! Owls are silent flyers. They have to be. They hunt small animals by swooping down on them unheard and, as my local National Trust naturalist pointed out - I do research this shit you know, they also rely on their hearing to locate their prey in the first place. The reason the owls in this movie were so noisy is that pigeons had been dubbed in over the top of them every time they spread a wing.
November
  1. Wild Wild World of Batwoman aka She Was a Hippy Vampire (MST3K) - Oh God!
  2. Il gatto a nove code (1971) - Dario Argento does a Hitchcock with Ennio Morricone as his Bernard Herrmann.
  3. Our Man Flint - Stupidly sexist semispoof of the Bond films which was actually a funnier than I was expecting - and a lot funnier than the Austin Powers movies which covered the same ground. Our Man Flint played it straight. No mugging to camera. The story was cigarette paper thin (blue ones) but had a rather groovy design and music vibe which I rather enjoyed.

    .
    You are not a pleasure unit....

    And, after careful repeated watching, at various speeds, of the seven or eight frames in which this girl is pulled from behind the glass panel before disappearing out of frame, I was able to answer one of those technical questions that has long bugged me about shower scenes in American movies of this period - answer: they wear flesh coloured bikinis.



    Ah well. Another evening well spent then.
  4. The Blue Umbrella (2005) - Mrs JM found this one, cruising through Blockbuster for suitable movies for the kids. We didn't realise it was in Hindi till it was in the machine and we were all snuggled up to watch it. It is, not to beat about the bush, a wonderful film. It's simple little tale of a poor Indian village girl who meets a Japanese tourist and swaps her amulet for the tourist's blue umbrella. The Umbrella is stolen, the thief is unmasked and eventually the girl forgives him. That's it. And it tore me up. Shredded me. I was in tears. Simple straightforward movie making, wonderfully acted, beautifully shot, and brilliantly edited. Not that it is perfect - even caught up in the emotion of the story, I noticed a few odd moments - a couple of line crossings, and a weird bit of focus pulling at one point which made me think the dialogue had been rewritten post-production and this was only usable shot the editor had. Sometimes I really wish the part of my brain that notices this sort of stuff would JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP! - till after the movie had finished at least. A delightful film.
  5. Yor, the Hunter from the Future - Paydirt! Grade A Paydirt! This movie has everything: A truly bewildering masterpiece of crap which proves, if nothing else, that the Italians invented Mashup years before anyone else thought of it. Cue the post Queen's Flash Gordon music:



    Quote:
    Yor's world, he's the man!
    Yor's world, he's the man!
    Yor's world!
    Lost in the world of past
    with the echo of ancient blast
    There is a man from future, a man of mystery
    Yor's world!
    So, after we have recovered from the opening credits what happens? Or more to the point, what doesn't happen? Yor, (He's the man apparently) disappears from the screen for a few minutes and we spend a few blissful moments with a tribe of hippy cavemen who are tra la la happy in only the way that a tribe about to be brutally slaughtered to a man by the end of the reel can be. They go on a hunt and Argh! The front half of a flesh eating triceratops bursts out of the jungleywoods and attacks the pretty one in the leather bikini. She is doomed! but suddenly YOR!
    Quote:
    Aaahhhh! The Hero of the Universe!
    jumps out. Yor hit dinosaur with ax (I am tempted to make a joke about all Italian dinosaurs being called Dino here, but I won't) Yor leaps over Dino's prongs. Yor hit Dino again. Dino die. Yor exultant. Yor drink Dino blood. Yor hero to tribe. Big party. Girl in the bikini do the hoochie coochie dance because she suddenly has the hots for hero hunk man in bad wig. Suddenly! Purple painted Neanderthal cave men attack. Everyone except our hero, his newly acquired crumpet, and her elderly guardian are killed and all the women are captured.

    Pausing only to possibly have implied off screen sex in an old tree they retire to a secret cave. But suddenly they are attacked by the Purple painted Neanderthal cave men again. Yor is thrown off a cliff and crumpet girl is carried away struggling to the usual implied fate worse than death.

    Yor wakes up, pissed off to find himself at the bottom of a cliff, and climbs back up to meet the elderly guardian and together they go to the lair of the purple people eaters. They're just about given up working out how to sneak up on the bad guys when they are attacked by a 'Night Creature', a bloody big bat thing. Yor knocks it out of the sky with one arrow and ...

    ... this is so fucking brilliant ...

    ... lifts the dead bat beast over his head and uses it as a hang glider!

    Yor hang glides into the cave, drop kicks the head bad guy, and kills everything that moves. (Apart from bikini girl of course.) Yor pulls a rock out of a huge dam the purple people eaters have constructed inside their cave for some inexplicable reason and everyone Yor hasn't already killed with his ax dies. (Including presumably all the women he was supposedly there to rescue.)

    Next morning they are the other side of the big mountain, in an arid desert, looking for a mysterious woman who wears a medallion exactly like Yor's ("Like mine?" "Yes, like yours Yor.") Yor goes on alone.

    Suddely! Yor is attacked by stuntmen wearing rags and carrying pointy sticks - which are on fire! Yor is captured and taken before their queen who looks suspiciously like she goes to the same crappy wigmaker as he does and - Da Da Dahhhh! - has a medallion just like his.

    "You are like me! Who are we where do we come?" from cries Yor. (I'm paraphrasing here.) "No idea." she says, "The people here say I fell from the sky and they found me next to this huge block of ice with these frozen bodies in it which too are wearing medallions just like us." (But not much.) "Don't stress about it though because you are about to be sacrificed." Yor objects to being sacrificed and kills everybody! And then the cave collapses for no apparent reason.

    Everywhere this bugger goes things just self-destruct and hundreds of people die.

    So now Yor has two women (he grabbed the queen on the way out of the collapsing cave). Yor Happy. (Actually Yor VERY happy). Girlies not so. Just when the cat fight (told you his movie has everything) is getting interesting they are SUDDENLY ATTACKED by the purple neaderthal guys who weren't as dead as we thought and Yor has to kill them all over again.

    Yor and his friends reach the sea. And hear screams coming from a cave. They rush to the cave and find a Dinosaur which looks suspiciously like the Triceratops he killed earlier, but without the big pointy bits, attacking women and children. (Doesn't anything this man kills stay dead?) They kill the Dino (again) and much happiness ensues and, not really understanding that they are dooming themselves to an early and messy death, the village invite Yor to stay and have a party! (They also try to give him another woman, but he passes.) Oh, and by the way, something really weird happened round here recently. Something fell out of the sky and we killed the man who climbed out of it - and then it conveniently exploded so there is nothing to left to show you. (I love the lengths low budget movie makers sometimes have to go to to get out of actually showing you anything on screen.) Anyway, party party party la la la! happy happy Kaboom! Laser blasts explode the village and everyone dies! (For a bit.)

    Yor and his companions set sail on the (dead) headman's boat to the mysterious island of which he (pre-dying) had told them.

    After the inevitable storm and shipwreck. Yor is captured by black suited robots. (I don't think we are in Hyperborea any more, Toto.) Somehow we neatly segued from a really awful Conan rip off into a low rent post Star Wars SF movie, filmed in the same refinery they shoot every other low rent SF movie. There is a rebel underground trying to overthrow The Overlord who is bent on 'doing evil' and making the same mistakes 'the ancients' did. (Oh I get it! Were in the future that's why it's called Yor, the Hunter from the Future, oh yeah, I see - I can be so thick sometimes....) These mistakes presumably include breeding a Master race of androids to replace the old models, which are pretty plodding and useless, and look, as one reviewer so wonderfully put it: 'like Darth Vader had fucked Hello Kitty', using Yor's sperm and bikini girl's body. "After you inseminate the woman, you die!" Okay. Don't know about you but I think hearing that would pretty well squash my libido dead. So what's Evilon going to do now? "Aha! After I wank you and do something with a turkey baster - you will die!"

    So, after a lot of running around shooting colour coded laser blasts (Goodies - green, Baddies - red), and a couple of Action Man dolls serving as stunt doubles for some trapeze work (I kid you not), a particularly pointless Lady of Shanghai type hall of mirrors sequence which did nothing to advance the plot but did give the audience a chance to have a good look at the film crew from several angles, Yor blows up the whole fucking island - and kills everybody!

    It's incredible. Get within three feet of this guy and whole civilisations crumble to dust.

    Yor and his pals fly off into the sunset to spread the word about not meddling with things man was not meant to meddle with (especially his thing) and a voice over wonders aloud if he will succeed. I guess they were hoping for a series or at least a sequel.

    A good 10 out of 10 on the awfulometer for this one.
  6. When Worlds Collide (1951) - 1951 was a good year for heavily biblically subtexted SF movies. (See The Day the Earth Stood Still) This time it's Noah and the Flood that got reworked.
  7. Stardust - the Neil Gaiman one, not the David Essex one. And I was more than pleasantly surprised. It was nice to see the CGI serving the story for a change and not the other way around. And when things are going well I do really like 'the part of my brain that notices this sort of stuff', despite what I said a few movies ago. Towards the end of Stardust there is a tremendous battle between three witches and our hero, who is trying to rescue his true love from being sacrificed by them. Two of the witches are killed in the course of the fight but, just at the moment when the third, and strongest, witch has the helpless heroine and the hero at her mercy, there is sudden pause and we get a small panning shot from her POV of the desolation caused during the conflict. There is no one else in the room. There is no help coming for our heroes. The witch slashes with her knife - and frees the captive heroine. The witch turns away from them, what good are youth and beauty to her? her sisters are dead what's the point? The shot we just saw wasn't really there to show us there was no hope for the heroes - though it did do that job very well - it was there to show us the witch's realisation that her life has no meaning any more. As the newly united lovers walk away a cunning look comes over the witch's face and she attacks them again. She was toying with them. Now her sisters are dead she will not have to share the power that their deaths will bring her. The POV shot was her making sure they were dead. One simple shot and three different interpretations/uses of it presented - bang bang bang - one after the other. Great bit of movie making.
  8. Teenage Monster - One of the few cowboy monster movies. Not a genre that caught on. Off the top of my head I can only think of a few others: Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter, Billy the Kid vs. Dracula ... erm ... there must be others. Anyway. Using standing sets, three horses, no continuity girl, and about four interiors-



    (one of which is very strangely framed at the top - presumably the low angle they chose to shoot it from let the camera see the top of the set and the studio ceiling - until they shoved a piece of cardboard in the way) our gallant crew of no budget movie makers - also responsible for The Brain From Planet Aurus (qv.) tell the story of a widowed mother and her son who, after possibly being struck by a fragment of meteorite - the narrative is a little vague about the details - and finding gold in their mine, move to the outskirts of town where the widow romances the sheriff and the boy (now grown up to be a hairy homicidal giant) kills people with relentless monotony. In the end the boy beast, with the usual instincts of the doomed tragic monster type, heads for the local high ground where he throws the blackmailing scheming minx who has pretended to befriend him off the top of a cliff before being shot down like the hairy teenage monster that he is. The End - of a very long 65 minutes.
  9. War Of the Worlds - Not the Tom Cruise one, the 1953 George Pal one with Gene Barry. Better than I remember. The scenes where the mob take the scientists' vehicles, and wreck their chances of finding a weapon to defeat the seeming invincible Martians, must have been a real shock at the time. The conventions of the day would have had our heroes pulling a plot device out of the hat at the last moment ("It's crazy - but it might just work!") and saving the day but here, just at the point where you would expect this to start taking place, frantic selfish people spill out all over the screen and rip that hope away from the audience. Must have been much more disturbing to the well-ordered, conformist America of the Eisenhower years than it is today.
  10. War Of the Worlds - The Tom Cruise one. Which was better than I expected and which I was quite enjoying - until the moment when Tim Robbins' character appeared on screen. Then it went tits up very fast. I can suspend my disbelief with the best of them. Tom Cruise's character spends most of the movie running away, doing vaguely sensible things and generally not behaving like an action movie hero at all. So all that 'sensible' semi-realistic stuff almost outweighed all the bullshit stuff that was going on around him. Martian machines buried underground for millennia? Ray guns that vaporised people but not their clothes? - or at least not their outer garments, it seemed to vaporise their bras and panties pretty neatly, but has trouble with jeans and sweatshirts. I'll even let him get away with surviving having half a Jumbo Jet fall on his house, but it's later, having lost one of his kids and alone with his daughter, when things go wrong. In a scene almost recognisably drawn from a scene in the book, our hero meets a character called Ogilvy hiding in a cellar. (In the book Ogilvy was an astronomer, the character in the cellar was just called 'the artilleryman'.) There are Martians all over the place and they are trapped, forced to keep quite in case they are discovered. Ogilvy's character is digging a tunnel and his continuous noise is putting them all in jeopardy. Our hero decides he has no option but to kill Ogilvy to save his own and his child's lives. He blindfolds his daughter and tells her to to sing while he goes to do the deed. This could have been - should have been - a horrible, terrible moment. Our decent, hard-working, loving family man forced to do something so horrible to protect those he loves. But it isn't. It isn't because the film-makers chickened out of making it a horrible terrible moment by making the character of Ogilvy a creepyily weird possible paedophile, so repulsive that people just wanted him disposed of. There was no moral ambiguity. Cruise was acting his cotton socks off in this scene but the moment had gone. Ogilvy was broad brushstoke evil and therefore Cruise's character was entitled to dispose of him. Wouldn't it have been so much more interesting if Ogily had been nice. Helpful, friendly, nice - but just dangerously noisy. Wouldn't that have been one hell of a scene? Damn right it would. Oscar time all round I think, but Hollywood leading men don't kill 'nice' people do they? Three minutes later (having remembered he's an action hero) Cruise is blowing up previously impregnable Martian war machines with a couple of hand grenades he just happens to find lying about and reuniting his family. The End.
  11. The Great Garrick - a 1937 piece of nonsense directed by the great James Whale (better known for Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and Showboat) which I love dearly. It's a flimsy piece of froth, totally set-bound and stagy but fun. It is my perfect Sunday Afternoon Movie. It's a shame and a puzzlement that it has never been released on VHS, DVD, Laserdisc - or any other home format you care to mention. I've had a treasured copy, taped off the telly some 20 or so years ago, and only recently managed to find a copy on line. The quality isn't the best but it'll do till someone at Criterion or somewhere rediscovers it and restores it.
December
  1. Sunshine -
  2. The Time Machine (2002) - I didn't mind too much that they had moved the location to New York, I didn't mind too much that our hero was given a love interest (who dies early on in the film thus giving him the Hollywood motivation to invent the Time Machine to go back and rescue her). I didn't mind too much that the innocent, aimless, childlike and docile Eloi are here depicted as an aware and innovative bunch of bronzed, muscled, tattooed hunter-gatherers (though the fact that some of them spoke flawless American English after 80,000 years did make me snort peanuts), I don't even mind that the Morlocks suddenly had a complex, hivelike social structure (grafted on from Wells' The First Men in the Moon) but what I do mind. What I really do mind is the hero jamming a watch into the rapidly spinning components of his time machine, jumping off, out-running a whole bunch of specially bred killer orcs - sorry, 'morlocks' - and then being pulled to safety (just in time!) to avoid the unamed, unexplained, and unexpected deux ex machina temporal explosion light show special effects bonanza he just created which wipes out all signs of badness without touching any of the good guys. "Dunno how to end the movie, guys! So why don't we just throw a shitload of SFX at the screen and get out while everyone is still going 'Oooooh! shiney!'?" "Sounds good to me, it usually works." The author went on to write Star Trek 10 and no-one was surprised.
  3. Feast of Flesh (1965) - The wonderful thing about crap cinema is that it knows no boundaries. Bad cinema,like great music, is truly international. So, made in Argentina in 1965 Feast of Flesh (aka Placer sangriento, and The Deadly Organ) is a weirdly dreamlike tale (I think there was a story) about a homicidal killer dressed in a pac-a-mac, rubber mask and gloves, and wearing a Beatle wig, lurking around a beach hotel, injecting nubile young bikini-clad women with heroin, hypnotising them with weird music (handily available on 45rpm 7" single), and fondling their boobies before killing them. An awful lot of boobies in this film. A lot of nipples too. They do things differently down South America way. Not that I'm complaining. Two inept policemen try to uncover the mystery assassin but when they're on screen it's all very dull - they are very stupid; it takes them two days to think of asking two eye-witnesses what make and colour the killer's car was. "Silver Porche? Hmmmm - make a note of that."



    I'm not really a Lesbian you know, I'm a red herring...

    When our masked weirdo and the crumpet is on screen its much more interesting, and very odd. Very odd indeed. Half the time it's a very bad Beach Party type movie with a sketchily drawn predatory lesbian and a couple of gay boys, other times it's hand held arty weirdness with POV shots swapping bodies, long takes in which nothing happens, jump cuts and all very dark, 'One Big Light' lighting. If David Lynch had directed Beach Blanket Bingo with John Alton lighting it (in a hurry), it would have looked like this.
  4. Salvage (1979) - They don't make 'em like this any more - more's the pity. Salvage is a TV movie, it's cheap, it's silly, and it's fun. The story: a rich bored scrap dealer builds a spaceship in his junk yard and salvages all the stuff left behind by one of the Apollo missions. After a couple of almost crises, the gallant crew of two return to a heroes' welcome. That's about all that happens but watching it I was reminded that America used to have (or at least used to sell itself as having) this whole attitude of 'get up and go', 'let's put on the show right here in the barn!', 'we can do it - all we need is a bit of gumption and some Good Old American know how'. What happened to that? I liked it (though I knew it was all bollocks). It was aspirational, it held out the promise of better things. These days everything American seems so self-centred and whiny. Salvage is total nonsense of course - navigating in space using a sextant!? - but jolly nonsense. I enjoyed it. It reminded me more than anything of the sort of short story Robert Heinlein used to write back in the 1940s even before one of the characters name-checked 'Destination Moon!' in the dialogue.
  5. Count Dracula's Great Love (1975)- (aka El gran amor del conde Drácula, Cemetery Girls, Cemetery Tramps, Count Dracula's Greatest Love, Dracula's Great Love, Dracula's Virgin Lovers, I diabolici amori di nosferatu, Le grand amour du comte Dracula, The Great Love of Count Dracula, and in Finland: Draculan suuri rakkaus. So know you know.) By 1975 Spanish film-makers had discovered what Italian film-maker had always known. Filling the screen with boobs makes money. Unfortunately they hadn't solved the 'how to make them fit into a coherent story' problem. The story they did come up with here involved the hoary cliche of the coach-full of nubile young women (in different coloured dresses so we can tell them apart) breaking down just outside Dracula's castle and having to spend the night... nail on some guff about reincarnation, the love of a virgin needed to restore Dracula's daughter to life and lots and lots and lots of walking about just to fill up the running time - and that's about it. Oh, one thing makes it stand out. This is possibly the only vampire movie in which Dracula commits suicide by deliberately driving the stake through his own heart - though, it must be said, there was no one else to do it. By the time we got to the final reel everyone in the cast, apart from our no longer virgin heroine, was a vampire. As is usual in this sort of film most of the cast were out acted by their own breasts. Mucho bueno los knockas, si!
  6. Critters (1986) - It took it's time setting things up and, though it was cheesy and the SFX clunky, the acting and script were well above the level I was expecting. Above average 80s popcorn trash.
  7. Journey to Middle Earth ( 2008 ) - Holy mother of crap! What a piece of shit! Okay, here's the premise - and please remember while you are reading this, that this is supposed to be based on a book by Jules Verne. The US military/industrial combine is about to do its first test run of a matter transmitter. They have a base in the US and one in Stuttgart (which is, as far as I recall, in Germany). So, wanting to test out this ground-breaking new piece of ultratech, does the combined intelligence of the US military combine (played by four actors - one of whom has a lip piercing) test the device with a guinea pig? or a white mouse? or even something totally inert like a house brick? (If you answered yes to any of those you really haven't been paying attention to the level of 'logic' in the movies I watch, have you?) No. The combined intelligences send through six - not one but SIX! - fit, young, busty women wearing combat trousers, and those tight grey vests that show up sweat very well. Just in case Stuttgart (which I'm still pretty sure is in Germany) wasn't civilised enough for our Amazons they carried with them binoculars, water canteens, radio communication equipment, rucksacks full of gear, and even automatic rifles! Needless to say they don't get to Stuttgart and end up being chased around a subterranean world populated by dinosaurs and giant spiders until some of them are rescued by the chief scientist in a giant atomic-powered, laser cannon firing, earth boring machine developed in the lab next door by - wait for it - his estranged wife. And you could see how that plot line is going to end before the end of the sentence can't you? The acting in this is god awful. Almost porn movie bad. The sort of acting where you can tell people are supposed to be worried because they chew their bottom lip.


    As a graduate of the Joey Tribbiani school of acting she has deliberately not learned her next line and is trying to read her script which she placed upside down on the floor next to her before the shot began.

    A straight to ex-rental bin movie that amazingly had a 'limited' release in the US.

    Woweee! The production company responsible for this piece of poo, the bandwagon-jumping, rip-off artists: The Asylum, are making a version of Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars with Tracy Lords as Dejah Thoris! Fucking priceless! (The fact there is another, more expensive version of this, out of copyright, work in the pipeline is a mere coincidence.)
  8. Nuns on the Run - pretty terrible but after 30 minutes of Nacho Libre (see abandoned film) anything would be funny.
  9. Circuitry Man - having been bemused to bits by the sequel which I watched back in June, I finally got to see the first one thanks to internet buddy Kubla Kraus who loaned me his copy in return for a candy bar. (Isn't the Internet wonderful!?) I was slightly less bemused by Circuitry Man than I was hoping to be. It dragged in places, spending far too long on the beauty shots but it had some really inventive low budget tricks - including one fight sequence which took place off camera and still managed to be very funny. It was odd enough to make me want to hunt up the only other film the director has done; Mix (2004). This might prove to be a bit more of a challenge as it only seems to have been shown in Hungary and not yet released anywhere on DVD. I'll have to email the director...
  10. Car Wash - I like Car Wash. I have no idea why, it's not exactly action-packed, the characters a quickly sketched in and don't really develop much during the course of the show, in fact nothing much happens at all but it works.
  11. Curse of the Swamp Creature - Not sure how many John Agar films I've seen this year but this has to be the worst. As an added bonus it was directed by Larry Buchanan, a director so inept he elevated anything he touches into fever-dream territory. This, as far as I am concerned, and I'm sure you know, is a good thing. Curse of the Swamp Creature is one of a small group of films he made for television by reworking old American International pictures. His movies are almost delirious, people moving between tiny sets with very little, or sometimes no, rhyme or reason via the medium of long sequences of people just walking about. The films of his that I have seen also have an absurdly high people just walking about in longshot to dialogue ratio. Walk. Walk. Walk. Cross-fade to more walking. The character arrives at a house we have never seen before and walks in through the front door. We hold on the front door. And hold on the door... and hold... the character finishes whatever they were doing in the house (we often never find out) comes out... and starts to walk back the way they came...
    Agar was probably on set for a maximum of two days on this one. Most of his scenes are silent, walking about shots with only a few moments where he gets to speak. At the 'climax' of the film, the mad doctor releases his Swamp Creature from his lab. "Kill them! Kill them!" he shrieks, pointing at the sullen mob of bemused off-screen extras. (They're supposed to be a vengeful mob whipped up into a fever pitch by a Voodoo priest but they just stand there in a row looking badly-dressed and bemused.) "Kill them!" shrieks the mad doc. The swamp creature ambles off in the oposite direction and into the outdoor covered swimming pool full of alligators the doc has been using to dispose of the bodies. Agar releases the doc's wife from her cell and the two of them also amble over to the pool where the wife pleads with the Monster. The Monster writhes with inner turmoil, the doc screams with maniacal fervour, and Agar, the star of the movie, just stands there. He doesn't even move his head. Just stands there waiting to go home. This must have been a real fun shoot*. Anyway, the Monster grabs the doc, throws him to the 'gators then jumps in as well.
    The end.

    I need to see Buchanan's Mars Needs Women.

    *On reflection I think his silence was more to do with the lack of on-location sound recording. Most of the outdoor stuff in this flick seems to have been shot MOS and Agar obviously wasn't available (or affordable) to do the ADR.
  12. Creature of Destruction - More Larry Buchanan fever dream stuff, this time concerning a stage psychic, his beautiful assistant and a series of motiveless murders committed by a man in a rubber monster suit who, in the end, turns out to be some sort of manifestation of the beautiful assistant's inner bestial nature - I think. Anyway the monster just vanishes when she is shot dead so I guess that is what we are supposed to think. But after 80 minutes contending with dialogue like this it's a bit difficult to think anything:
    Quote:
    Capt. Dell:
    Lieutenant Blake...

    Lt. Blake:
    Yes?

    Capt. Dell:
    Lieutenant, I'd like to point something
    out to you. Now - I saw those bodies
    and whoever mutilated them has a very
    special problem

    Lt. Blake:
    Yes, I realise that; tell me
    something new, captain.

    Capt. Dell:
    I am a psychologist.

    Lt. Blake:
    Well, as a psychologist what is your
    opinion of this 'doctor' Basso and
    his monster theory?

    Lt. Capt. Dell:
    That anything is possible? As a
    scientist I keep an open mind.

    Blake:
    Yes Captain, anything is possible...
    I've worked out the Larry Buchanan shooting technique. If I work this up, I could end up with a Dogma 95-like manifesto for crappy movie makers the world over:

    • Shoot it once, without sound and loop in the dialogue in the 'studio' afterwards. Shooting without sound is cheap. If the actor fluffs his line - so what? As long as everyone else keeps going, whole scenes can be covered in two or three takes. One wide shot and then a close-up of the more reliable actor in the scene - and "Thank you! on to the next set-up, guys! Come on, let's pick up the pace here - we've only got four days to shoot this turkey!".
    • Don't record any Wild Track or Atmos - techy terms for ambient room tone - ie the sound that a room makes when there's nobody making any noise in it. I know that sounds a bit Zen but different kinds of silence are very useful in the editing process. But you don't need it. Not if the whole sound track will be laid down by actors standing around a microphone and library music will be played under every scene. Spot sound effects will be needed from time to time but there's no need to try and match the acoustic of your sound effect to the supposed acoustic of the location. In Creature of Destruction seventeen people applauding on a beach sounds exactly the same as a hundred people applauding in a busy night club.
    • Fade out or cross-fade at the end of every scene - with all the money you saved not doing synch sound you've got a few dollars in the budget for opticals. (Always a good general rule of thumb in film editing: Not sure how to get out of a scene? Fade to black.)
    • Don't squander a penny more than you have to on hiring anything for longer than you have to - I did spend a chunk of this movie wondering why the lead sometimes wore an Air Force uniform, and sometimes didn't, until I realised he only wore it indoors. By the time they got round to shooting all the outdoor, daytime, stuff it had been sent back to the hire company. (Or the guy they had blagged it from went back on duty.)
    • Another good no-budget trick of the day was to get some poor wannabe pop singer and his band to contribute one of his 'swinging numbers' and fill the screen with gyrating tits and hips for five minutes as middle-aged teenagers Watusi their way to utter obscurity... And I just spent 45 minutes editing the example of this from the movie to show you and my editing program just went and crashed. Had I saved? Had I buggery. Grrrrrrrrr. -

      No... Hang on! I just found it, sorry:



Films I have abandoned for containing to much of the wrong kind of awful:

None yet -

(Frigging knew it! Over seven months without throwing the remote at the TV and the night after I write 'none yet' on this list I try to watch Terry Gilliam's Tideland and hated every minute of the 60 odd minutes of its 2 hour running time that I managed to stomach before turning it off.

Mama Mia - Never really a medium for heavyweight subjects or great artistic debate, movie musicals have plummeted to new depths of shallowness with this piece of shit. What an awful waste of time and money. I thought Hairspray was crap. It's starting to look good in comparison.

Nacho Libre - About 30 minutes in I turned to Mrs JM and said "Are you finding this as unfunny as I am?" She said "Yes". Something amazingly hilarious might have happened at the 32 minute mark but I'll never know now.

Running total (to end July) 139

Last years list:

http://palimpsest.org.uk/forum/showp...81&postcount=5

Next Year's List

http://palimpsest.org.uk/forum/showp...8&postcount=22


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Old 28th Dec 2008, 5:30   #7
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Default Re: 2009 Filmlists

Mirrors - d. Alexandre Aja

Koko: A Talking Gorilla - d. Barbet Schroeder

The Wrestler - d. Darren Aronofsky

I Know Where I'm Going! - d. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Death Race - d. Paul W. S. Anderson

Next - d. Lee Tamihori

The Earrings of Madame de... - d. Max Ophuls

Gran Torino - d. Clint Eastwood

Zeder - d. Pupi Avati

Girl 27 - d. David Stenn

There Was a Crooked Man - d. Joseph L. Mankiewicz - I reviewed this on my blog, don't you know!

Angel Face - d. Otto Preminger - For most of its running time, this crime film is just fine. Nothing too special, but involving, and Robert Mitchum is in it. Then there's that ending. Check out Jean Simmons's face just before the Big Even occurs. Frankly, the ending alone might push it to .

Smiles of a Summer Night - d. Ingmar Bergman - Pleasant and entertaining, but not all that funny. This being a comedy, I must count that as a demerit.

Dinner Rush - d. Bob Giraldi - Comedy-drama about a restaurant owner and former bookmaker (Danny Aiello) trying to deal with the mob, his pompous head chef son, and his seriously-in-debt sous chef. I liked Mark Margolis as a very true-to-life rude customer, and I always like Aiello, but the whole thing was pretty contrived, while feeling quite pleased with itself.

The Grissom Gang - d. Robert Aldrich - Oh, this is okay, I guess. It's a nasty-ish and brutal-ish Depression-era crime film about a sadistic gang who, in a roundabout way, kidnap the daughter of a wealthy businessman. One of the gang falls in love with the girl, and things get creepy. But the movie looks cheap and too many of the performances are over the moon.

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell - d. Terence Fisher - Surprisingly uninteresting. Cushing is as good as ever, and the new take on the Frankenstein story isn't a bad one. But there's no life in the film, and the creature looks, for some reason, like a balding, rubber ape. They might have explained that and I missed it, but I don't think so.

The True Meaning of Pictures - d. Jennifer Baichwal - Fascinating documentary about Appalachian photographer Shelby Lee Adams, and the controversy that has arisen about his work, and whether or not he's exploiting his subjects.

The Milky Way - d. Luis Bunuel - Bunuel's sketch-comedy riff on religion. While technically blasphemous, this is the sort of thing that could only have been made by a Catholic.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers - d. Don Seigel - So now I've finally seen the original film version of this classic story. And it's famous for a reason. It was sort of odd seeing Kevin McCarthy as a young man in the role that essentially gave him his career, when I'm used to seeing him as an old man living off this film's reputation (which isn't to knock McCarthy, but this film did give him his career). Anyway, great film. I wish they'd kept the original ending, though.

Ghost Town - d. David Koepp - It's pretty funny. Gervais is, I believe, allowed to do what he wants on occasion, which helps. Then it gets sappy.

Ravenous - d. Antonia Bird - I'd seen this before, years ago, and I didn't like it. But now I'm not sure what bothered me so much, because this thing ain't half bad. Part comedy, part adventure, mostly horror story about cannibalism during the US's Westward Expansion. Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle are both very good here.

The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing - d. Wendy Apple 1/2 - This documentary makes a very strong argument that good filmmaking has more to do with editing than anything else.

The Haunting - d. Robert Wise - Classic. One of the great ghost stories.
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Old 28th Dec 2008, 13:10   #8
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Default Re: 2009 Filmlists

023. The Hurt Locker (2009: Dir: BIGELOW, Kathryn)
022. District 9 (2009: Dir: BLOMKAMP, Neill)
021. Inglourious Basterds (2009: Dir: TARANTINO, Quentin)
020. Mesrine: Public Enemy N°1 (2008: Dir: RICHET, Jean-François)
019. Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008: Dir: RICHET, Jean-François)
018. The Hangover (2009, Dir: PHILLIPS, Tom)
017. Public Enemies (2009, Dir: MANN, Michael)
016. Antichrist (2009, Dir: VON TRIER, Lars)
015. Drag Me To Hell (2009, Dir: RAIMI, Sam)
014. Cloverfield (2008, Dir: REEVES, Matt)
013. 1408, (2007, Dir: HĂ…FSTRĂ–M, Mikael)
012. In The Loop, (2009, Dir: IANNUCCI, Armando)
011. An Inconvenient Truth (2006, Dir: GUGGENHEIM, Davis)
010. The Damned United (2009, Dir: HOOPER, Tom)
009. Elephant (1989, Dir: CLARKE, Alan)
008. Winter Light (1962, Dir: BERGMAN, Ingmar)
007. Midnight Meat Train (2008, Dir: KITAMURA, Ryuhei)
006. Rope (1948, Dir: HITCHCOCK, Alfred)
005. The Lady Vanishes (1938, Dir: HITCHCOCK, Alfred)
004. Citizen Kane (1941, Dir: WELLES, Orson)
003. The Wrestler (2008, Dir: ARONOFSKY, Darren)
002. Safety Last! (1923, Dir: NEWMEYER, Fred C. & TAYLOR, Sam)
001. The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari (1920, Dir: WIENE, Robert)
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Old 29th Dec 2008, 3:13   #9
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Default Re: 2009 Filmlists

Juno (2007) +
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)
Apollo 13 (1995) (R)
Marley and Me (2008 ) +
Man on Wire (2008 )
Happy Go Lucky (2008 )
Wedding Crashers (who cares when it was made) thank goodness it was on free tv
Elegy (2008 ) humorless, hard to watch as there are some real Kepeshes out there
Network (1976) + (Faye D just a bit OTT)
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Synecdoche, NY
My Brilliant Career (R) (1979)
Grizzly Man (R)
Grave of the Fireflies (1988 )
Up - watched tonight and I'm a mess. Benn crying so hard that my son has broken away from Modern Warfare 2 to check on me. Go see this! and then hit someone up for a real adventure.

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Old 29th Dec 2008, 13:28   #10
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Default Re: 2009 Filmlists

40. Once
39. Singing in the Rain
38. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
37. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial of course!
36. Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny
35. Spiderman 3
34. No Country for Old Men
33. High School Musical
32. The Fisher King
31. The Cider House Rules
30. Twilight
29. Anchorman
28. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
27. Tropic Thunder
26. I Am Legend unrated - far too distressing!
25. Slumdog Millionaire
24. There's Something About Mary
23. Be Kind Rewind
22. The Crow
21. Red Dragon
20. Atonement
19. Nacho Libre
18. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
17. Ice Princess
16. The Ringer
15. Day Watch
14. Taladega Nights

Still trying to remember exactly what I watched on the plane to/from New Zealand, but these additions will do for now:
13. Four Christmases
12. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
11. Rachel Getting Married
10. Quantum of Solace (very heavily edited so not worth rating)

9. Brick Lane
8. Star Wars
7. Iron Man
6. Crocodile Dundee
5. Snakes on a Plane
4. In Bruges +
3. No Country for Old Men
2. Look Who's Talking Too
1. Look Who's Talking
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