Thursday, 11 October 2018

Mystery Action-adventure - Hannibal Brooks At The Top of The World 53 - El Norte, noir, Alraune,Gasbags, Fruit Machine, Devil at Four O'Clock, volcanoes, Euro-action, yellow peril

Hannibal Brooks (1969) - Such a strange film, likeable but hard to understand. Michael Winner's family film. Oliver Reed and Michael J. Pollard in parts that the other should play.  An awkward mix of comedy, animal adventure and war actioner.  Also, quite brutal (it kills off the female lead, young Sheila Keith-alike Karin Baal),  while the fourth wall-breaking sing-al-long musical conclusion is almost from a different type of film.

Cash On Demand (1961 - B/W) - Hammer second feature, well-played by Cushing and Morell, but can't escape its theatrical roots until the end. Slightly confusing seasonal thing.

S*P*Y*S (1974) - Bemusing cross between Altman and The Tall Blond Man... Oddly small and televisual. Joss Ackland seems to be channelling Bruce Boa. Thinks explosions are jokes. Sutherland and Gould feel too big for it. Even the theme, a bit of muzak with the word "Spies" uttered three times over the course of the music, feels unfinished.

The Gorilla (1939 - B/W) - The Ritz Brothers are interchangeable, performances are overwrought and Lugosi tries to find dignity in this misbegotten old dark farce.

The Island At The Top Of The World (1974) - I really like this Disney adventure, even though it does meander.  Donald Sinden is great as the determined Sir Anthony Ross, and even America's answer to Frank Bough, the John Craven-esque breakfast TV host David Hartman is good in a role that might have gone to someone more Doug McClure ish, but is less of an action man and more of a professor, with the action going to Mako, who looks surprisingly young and attractive, as an unfortunate comedy Eskimo (their word, not mine), whose character varies between brave warrior and comic coward, with his unique voice wasted on pidgin-speak. Jacques Marin is also fun as the French airship captain. However, once they get to the titular island, Astragard, surprisingly late into the running time, the film kind of falters. As the Vikings speak unsubtitled Norse and are all played by anonymous Norwegian actors (including future star of the Last Place on Earth, Sverre Anker Ousdal), they fail to make much of an impression. Perhaps, it needed a better villain. But it is well made, unlike say, AIP's similar attempts like 1961's Master Of The World, and though there is a poodle,it is not as goofy as some of the Irwin Allen efforts.

The Maltese Falcon (1941 - B/W) - Sorry, but I'm not feeling it. It feels too earnest, not grand enough. Plus an almost perfect cast, though slightly marred by a slight bit of writing. 37-year-old Elisha Cook Jr., who was never young as "The Kid" or "The Boy" Perhaps, because of my dislike to noir.

The Internecine Project (-1974) - Written by Jonathan Lynn, of all people. Begins in a fictitious UK TV news show. "The World This Week", has rats sonically blasted. Harry Andrews is an appealingly sinister presence. James Coburn is a sexist pig with a hatred of crusading lady journalists, Lee Grant the one who takes his fancy, her plasticated face photographed in soft-focus. She's like a Beverly Sister or Wee Jimmy Krankie - looks young from a distance. Some obvious day for night shooting. Nice twist involving the poisoned notebook, and lovely 70s photography. But it's lacking action.

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1983) - A technical marvel, but both Steve Martin and Carl Reiner are overrated talents. Reiner actually feels like a 40s character actor in his cameo, but Martin is out of place. And far too many tit jokes.

Cloak and Dagger (1946 - B/W) - Gary Cooper in WW2 resistance spy noir. A lot of these WW2 noirs just blend into one, I'm afraid, especially the "foreign" ones like Macao, Tropic  Zone (1953 - Reagan! In Color!), Singapore (1947 - B/W - young Roland Culver in a Hollywood film - though I understand my maternal grandad's dislike of Fred MacMurray), etc.

The White Dawn (1974) - Lou Gossett, Warren Oates and Timothy Bottoms in rather cold (in both terms of the word), Disney true-life Adventure-type docudrama by Philip Kaufman.

Death Wish V (1994) - Bronson looks like his own waxwork. The film resembles a mafia miniseries from the time. Robert Joy's turn as a transvestite named Freddie Garrity  resembles David Duchovny in Twin Peaks gone wrong.

The Black Camel (1931 - B/W) - Warner Oland's first film as Charlie Chan, start of the Fox/Monogram series. Bela Lugosi appears. Surprisingly dynamic considering the period.  Lots of locations.

Charlie Chan at the Opera (1936 - B/W) - Chan's proverbs irritate me. Karloff's great, as usual. The opera bits are the most dynamically directed.

Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum (1940 - B/W) - Sidney Toler instead of Warner Oland, again the character can be an irritating presence, especially as his sons are played by Keye Luke and in this film, Victor Sen Yung, and are always portrayed as being squarely American.

Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939  - B/W) - More fun, but we don't see much of the titular location. all the Chan films of the Fox era seem to maintain the same rough quality and appearance. Has Cesar Romero as a magician and a masked, turbanned big bad - "Dr. Zodiac". Toler as Chan a little more hard to buy than Oland.

Charlie Chan in London (1934 - B/W) - Still feels transitory. Oland is weirdly jolly, and his distinctive way of speaking not quite ingrained. A young "Raymond Milland" pops up.  Limited sets and murky lighting.

Charlie Chan In Panama (1940 - B/W) - Attractive but increasingly rote.

Dead Men Tell (1941 - B/W)- Charlie Chan versus a hook-handed killer. A bit of a slog. Atmospheric.

Charlie Chan in Rio (1941 - B/W) - Goes on autopilot after a musical number, could easily be set anywhere else. See also Charlie Chan in Paris (1935 -B/W)

Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise (1940 - B/W) - At times, I see Chan's sons almost being his carer. They're the real brains of the operation.

The Jade Mask (1945 - B/W) - Monogram Toler, who now looks like sinister, latter-day Rolf Harris.

CHANDU THE MAGICIAN (1932 - B/W) - Ambitious timekiller, now old hat. Lugosi as serial baddie in Egypt.

Terror of the Tongs (1961) - Lush, expensive looking Yellow Peril hokum from Hammer. Seedy,  with the likes of Roger Delgado and Charles Lloyd Pack in dodgy eye-liner as Chinese folk,  Christopher Lee doing a dry run for his Fu Manchu. Most of the Chinese characters are only identifiable as so by their clothes and/or moustaches. Ending has Lee knifed by Delgado. A better, colour redo of the earlier, inferior Hammer Asian actioner, The Stranglers of Bombay (1960 - B/W). Which later spawned the likes of the colourful but turgid European adventures such as the Peter van Eyck starring Kidnapped to Mystery Island (1964).

M (1951 - B/W) - Creepy, atmospherically shot but alienating remake. No one's really likeable. Losey often has this problem.

The Big Sleep (1946-  B/W)  - I've said it before, but I prefer the Winner version. Bogie comes across as a dick. Why do women keep calling him "cute"? It's well-made, but the thing with noir is everything kind of ends up looking the same.

The Penguin Pool Murder (1932 - B/W) - Edna May Oliver a ridiculously overbearing caricature of a spinster as Hildegarde Withers.

Rome Armed To The Teeth (1976) - Typically noisy Eurocrime that despite interesting views of Rome, c.1975 and a few interesting pursuits, is rendered nonsensical by the typical mix of thoughtless sex and violence that colours these films.

The Russia House (1990) - Lovely cinematography, but quite slow, not quite my thing. Ken Russell's incredibly odd performance is a highlight, though. Typical LeCarre film adaptation problems of incomprehensible plot. Jerry Goldsmith does Roy Budd.

The Wages of Fear (1953 - B/W) - The South American setting feels stagey. The quarry could be anywhere. Well-made but it feels mostly cold. The ending is almost mocking.  Like its remake, it just stands there, watching. Hell Drivers (1957 -B/W) is a better encapsulation of the trucker's life.

Sorcerer (1977) - Better than Wages of Fear. Slow, cold, clinical, Friedkin's eye ensuring you're never quite there, but it looks gorgeous. Perhaps works better as a cinema experience. But there are moments that spark - the burnt corpses, if one embraces it almost as a documentary, it works. But there's a reason why it flopped. The ending, while more uplifting, stills feels quite seedy, but in a way, perhaps more rewarding. At least, Royston survives. It feels like a European film, in its mix of wonder and cack-handedness.

Eyes of Laura Mars (1978) - Giallo-ish nonsense, Tommy Lee Jones as Ivan Rassimov. Remembered  Rene Auberjonois being more of a threat.

The Glass Sphinx (1967) - A slumming, paunchy, make-up caked, cardigan-clad Robert Taylor and Anita Ekberg in this Bontempi-soundtracked Italian potboiler. More Bula Quo than Quo Vadis. Lots of zoom shots befitting this kind of talentless Italian schlock.

Alraune (1952 - B/W)  - Depressing, unexciting German melodrama starring Hildegarde Knef as a homunculus, Karl Bohm and Erich Von Stroheim.

El Norte (1983) - Feels like a PBS drama, because it is, crossed with Koyaanisqatsi.

Greed In The Sun (1964 - B/W) - Baffling Wages of Fear-alike with Ventura and Belmondo.

The Devil at Four O'Clock (1961) - Slow, meandering disaster movie, one of various dull South Seas pictures of the era,  with a solid cast portraying uninteresting characters. The characters (Spencer Tracy as a priest, Frank Sinatra, Kerwin Mathews as another priest) are not varied enough. Like most volcano movies, it takes too long to get there.

Juggernaut (1936 - B/W) -Boris Karloff in stagy drawing room thriller about a mad scientist.

The Fruit Machine (1988) - Strange film, Granada-made murder mystery/gay coming of age romance/magic realist fantasy. Craig Charles' brother and his mate see a transvestite Robbie Coltrane get beheaded with a sword by Julian Sands, sorry Bruce Payne (they're the same man - in two bodies). Robert Stephens better here than he was as Sherlock.  Astonishing performance from Kim Christie, in her only role, as Charles' ex-actress mother married to the much younger Louis "Mick Johnson" Emerick.  The whole subplot about a woman obsessed with the highlight of her life being something that never happened (her recollection of Saturday Night, Sunday Morning being directed by John Schlesinger) possibly influenced Little Shitain's Mollie Sugden subplot. It's a bit self-consciously arty and irritating, especially  Charles. Julie Graham pops up as a teen.  It becomes a music video by the end. The bloke from the Statoil ads turns up with a dolphin.

Where The Spies Are (1965) - Desperate, dull David Niven spy caper torn between being Le Carre-ish and fantasy comedy. Sole point of interest being product placement for a Topo Gigio record. All feels very telly, with Ronald Radd as would-be chief baddie. Typical Eurospy.

Dimension 5 (1966) - Jeffrey Hunter versus "Big Buddha" Harold Sakata in actionless spy film. See also A Man Called Dagger (1967), another hamfisted American spy film, even worse than any comparable Eurospy film that at least had some continental glamour about it.

Bought in Network sale.

Unearthly Stranger (1963 - B/W) - Being a woman equals an alien, according to this . John Neville is a rather irritating, snobby lead. Him and Philip Stone are all "you know what women are like." Patrick Newell is an interesting, almost Troughtonesque presence. Literally has the line, "what is love?".

Night Birds (1930 - B/W) - Strange mix of stagey mystery and stagier but more visual nightclub acts. Written by Miles Malleson. A rare lead for future Hollywood Brit dependable Miles Malleson. Though the sprinkler attack is fun.

Death At Broadcasting House (1935 - B/W) - Young Jack Hawkins and real life BBC honcho Val Gielgud (not as himself, and yes, brother of John) in this interesting BBC-set murder mystery. NOT GREAT, has dated. Again stagey, lots of awkward pauses, being  an early talkie. Has an unconvincing strangling. References Reith and other BBC personalities. Elisabeth Welch plays herself. Feels less sensationalist than it should be. Pervy comedian character.


The Sandwich Man (1966) - Odd galaxy of stars with Michael Bentine shepherding half of Equity. It's an interesting folly, but it makes no sense. It's like those Eric Sykes ventures, but with dialogue. It keeps stopping and starting, in an attempt to keep momentum that isn't there. It is definitely a snapshot of 60s Britain, but it's so bitty. It stops for Norman Wisdom as a priest. There's some annoying gravy browning-Indian characters, who get thrown a bus by Caribbean bus conductor Earl Cameron, who unlike Burt Kwouk and Roger Delgado, is billed amongst the main stars (the film having a multicultural undercurrent that's slightly undermined by some of the other casting) and above the likes Peter Jones, John Le Mesurier, Dave Lodge,  Warren Mitchell, Aubrey Morris, Sydney Tafler, Frank Finlay and indeed Leon Thau and Hugh Futcher (as "De Sikhers"), as a big guest cameo turn. Cameron is putting more into it than most of the cast, as the angry bus conductor. It's basically just an excuse for cramming in a cast.

Gigot (1962)  - Tatty Tatiesque passion project for Jackie Gleason as a mute French tramp, impressively shot but not especially funny or poignant.

Rewatched Things to Come. How odd that Margaretta Scott, despite being a youth still is recognisably in voice and mannerisms, dear Mrs. Pumphrey. Probably has a cyborg Tricky Woo. Weird seeing a young woman talk like that. Still a visual treat.

Gasbags (1941 - B/W)- Spirited if mainly baffling vehicle for the Crazy Gang who land their barrage balloon chip shop on the Western Front, in the belief it is Ireland and the Wehrmacht are the IRA. Future Hollywood Brits Torin Thatcher and Anthony Eustrel turn up as Nazis.  Moore Marriott has a tattoo of a map on his back. Bud Flanagan's songs somewhat tearjerking. It gets increasingly strange, with the boys disguised as Nazis, then trees. The trouble with the Crazy Gang is that there's too many of them.

Sunstruck (1972) - Harry Secombe in what initially seems to be a bawdy comedy, but is actually an inconsequential, forgettable family-friendly light drama about a homesick Welsh teacher who goes to the outback after his girlfriend leaves him for Donald Houston. Derek Nimmo appears at the end for thirty seconds.

Attempted Movie, Movie, Honky Tonky Freeway and irritating Granada Bless This House-with-satire-not-jokes All The Way Up with Warren Mitchell. All Network sale reliables.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

81 - Sci-fi horror - 30s/40s/50s stuff, 70s, Frankensteins, 81 films

Terror In The Wax Museum (1973) - Lots of people are watching Crazy Rich Asians. I am watching this. They both have Lisa Lu, though. Here, she's a helpful Dragon Lady. This feels like a TV movie, with its cast, tone and plot more suited to 1943 than 1973, and relatively slack direction. An American-accented Jack the Ripper (in a dream sequence John Carradine experiences) in this entertaining throwback. Carradine doesn't use an English accent, as the wax museum owner who tries to sell to Broderick Crawford, only to be slaughtered, leaving behind his waxen-faced disfigured sidekick Karkoff. Set in a phony London. Ray Milland, Maurice Evans, Elsa Lanchester, Louis Hayward and Patric Knowles prop it up. Mark Edwards, a Hammer/British horror regular of the time, and star of doomed Dr. Who replacement Snowy Black (intended to run if Pertwee's series flopped). The young female lead is American-born Benny Hill costar Nicole Shelby. There's a run about a will. Features a legendary but fictional murderous copper named Constable Henry Bolt. The dummies are clearly real people breathing. Karkoff, clearly intended as a breakout monster is attempted as a figure of Karloffian pathos, but actor Steven Marlo is more comical than anything. Elsa Lanchester is appealingly strident.  The villain turns out to be a mute scarface who poses as Jack the Ripper in the museum, or Jack the Ripper himself.

Night Of The Demon (1957 - B/W) - The noirish/Lewtonesque elements bore me (and Dana Andrews is well... Dana Andrews), but the fruity character work and intriguing plot saves it. Niall McGinnis is great, as is Liam Redmond (plus Maurice Denham and young Brian Wilde doing a West Country farmer accent in his unmistakable voice!), and the demon's quite cool.  Interesting at least four major actors are Irish (Cummins, McGinnis, Redmond and Richard Leech). I also find Peggy Cummins slightly cold, in a way I find a lot of Irish actresses.

The Bad Seed (1956 - B/W) - Can't really take little Rhoda seriously. Surely an influence on Angelica in Rugrats. Overlong, more of a melodrama. The Perry and Croft-type ending may be the highlight, but I didn't find Rhoda hateful enough. Patty McCormack did play the Ann Fourmile character in the US remake of George and Mildred, with kinky asshole Jeffrey Tambor as Geoffrey.

Baxter (1989) - Another weird French horror. I'm beginning to think that France made the best horrors of the 1980s. This is a Gallic Cujo, with a bull terrier, based on a pulp novel by American writer Ken Greenhall. The bull terrier is unique looking, and coupled with the Gallic Amblin feel, and the narration from the dog, it's memorable. It's not quite as good as Deadly Games, it has heart, kids talking about Hitler's sex life, and an interesting "the evil continues" ending.

Revenge (1971) - Same stock pop music from Carry On Camping (both produced by Peter Rogers). Joan Collins seems slightly miscast. For one so artificial, whose working class roots were always visible, playing a council house mum, she just seems out of place. Kenneth Griffith is unpleasant as hell, but so is the film.

The Last Wave (1977) - Beautiful but impenetrable. Cold.

The Exterminating Angel (1962 - B/W) - Hard to understand it. Not my type of film.

The Brain (1988) - Feels like an episode of Goosebumps. Bland Canadian-ness permeates it. Titular creature barely seen.

The Man In The White Suit (1951 - B/W) - Watchable, but not particularly funny. But then again, I find the Ealing comedies kinda baffling.

Hands Of A Stranger (1962 - B/W) - Chintzy Hands of Orlac do-ver with interchangeable leads. The Hands of Orlac (1960 - B/W) is better, even though it is a confused Mid-Channel Europudding padded out with cabaret acts.

Dungeon of Harrow (1962) - Regional period shocker, incomprehensibly shot in the sort of colour film where every frame looks like the last photograph of everyone involved. Feels more like a western by the end.

Cult of the Cobra (1955 - B/W) - Breezy, energetic, time-killing Universal late-comer,  an interchangeable bunch of US soldiers are cursed by some fakir in a backlot India. It all goes bland once it leaves the Indian setting. Of the snake-woman genre.

Curse of the Faceless Man (1958 - B/W) - Crappy Italian accents ahoy in this lethargic mummyesque Pompeii victim/lost brooch caper.

Pharaoh's Curse (1957 - B/W) - Set in a suspiciously forested Egyptian desert, another UA no-budget B-movie. Interesting monster, but little else.

The  Vampire (1957) - Tedious UA sci-fi-tinged timewaster.

Curse Of The Undead (1957 - B/W) - Late period Universal horror, actually a dull western with Michael Pate shoehorned in as a vampire gunslinger/member of the Royal Family.

ZaAt (1971 - B/W)  - The shite monster suit is the best thing about it.

The Golden Mistress (1954) - Boring if colourful voodoo-tinged Haiti travelogue with John Agar.

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) - An admirable failure. Something vaguely A Christmas Story in its rather too American nostalgia, ironic as it was directed by a Brit. It feels a little PBS. Slightly queasy that James Stacy, who plays the kids' one-armed friend turned out a few years later to be a paedo. By the end, it becomes a mess.

The Invisible Ray (1936 -B/W) - Slight, but it can entertain. Boris and Bela together! Karloff's "young self" is possibly an inspiration for Fester's "Gordon Craven" identity in The Addams Family. The plot is very slight, i.e. it's all based on the novelty of lasers.

The Black Sleep (1956 - B/W) - An allstar cast wasted. A very 50s American Victorian London. Bela Lugosi literally an extra. Lon Chaney drunk. Zombies dressed as Roy Jay. Akim Tamiroff has an earring. Carradine goes mad. Rathbone has the most dignity. Slither yes, but not spook. Feels a waste. Also, the end of an era. Made one year before Hammer, but already something of a throwback.

Unknown World (1951 - B/W) - Potholing fluff.

The Land Unknown (1957 - B/W) - More unenticing lost world fluff.

It Came From Outer Space (1953 - B/W) - This sort of US sci-fi I never really got. Sorry.

The Alligator People (1959 - B/W) - Shot in Cinemascope, has more atmosphere than the average cheapie. The plot and dialogue's thick-eared as usual, but the sets feel oddly convincing.  Though the costumes have obvious openings and seams.

Dr. Jekyll and  Mr. Hyde (1931). Mostly without sound, which is better. The sound in most early sound films is hissy anyway. It still feels like a silent. March very much playing to the aisles.  The sets don't relly feel realistic.  Astonished by the use of split-screen, though. Feels quite primitive.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) - Much more professional, now studios now how to use sound. Not quite as primal as the 1931 one. The MGM production adds sentiment. Spencer Tracy doesn't bother for the accent. Not quite a fan of Jekyll or Hyde, as a character, in general.

The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll  (1960) - Hammer do-over. Again, not my cuppa. Paul Massie is unlikeably hammy. The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959) is slightly better, filmed on the same sets, with some of the same cast, although I, Monster (1971) is forgettable.

The Vampire's Ghost (1945 - B/W) -  Odd Republic horror, John Abbott an interesting vampire, but a weird tone. Attempting for Lewton, but merely a slightly more atypical jungle cheapie of the era.

Catman of Paris (1945 - B/W) - Another Republic dud.

Valley of the Zombies (1946 - B/W) - Talky, mediocre Republic potboiler.

The Bride (1985)  - A murky, atrocious mess. Mr. Sting is awful. The music is inappropriately childish.

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) - The sets are excellent. Freddie Jones is wonderful, but I find it slightly too grim.  The trouble is there's too many great character actors weighing it down. A sea of Garrick club ties. It feels quite padded too.

The Frozen Ghost (1945- B/W) -  I'm not a fan of noir, and not a fan of the Inner Sanctum mysteries. Despite the wax museum setting.

The Spider Woman Strikes Back (1946 - B/W)  - Despite Gale Sondergaard in the title role, not a Sherlock Holmes spinoff. A folksy, dreary noirish sub-western drama set in 40s flyover country, no fish and chip bars and inaccurate BBC radio broadcasts to be found.

Dead Men Walk (1943 - B/W) - George Zucco shines in an otherwise unremarkable zombie film from PRC.

The Ape (1940 - B/W) - Not much ape suit action in this dull bit of proto-hicksploitation Karloff poverty row.

Terror Aboard (1933 - B/W) - Exists in a faded print. Ambitious but primitive Paramount thriller, unusually quite grisly. Lots of burning bodies. Confusingly paced and staged.

The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942 - B/W) - Fun but nonsensical sci-fi comedy. Karloff as Victor Meldrew.

The Mysterious Doctor (1943 - B/W) - 1916 Rising Oppositon General Lowe's son John Loder stars in this energetic but clumsy Scooby Doo-ish wartime Scooby Doo-type mystery, distinguished only by its wartime Cornish setting. Full of fog and Mockney Yokels.

The Brighton Strangler (1945 - B/W) -Loder comes across as an American playing a Brit AND a Brit playing an American at the same time in this wartime thriller. Interesting setbound Blitz.  Confused, and Brighton could be anywhere.

Man-Made Monster (1941 -B/W) - Lon Chaney Jr. feels sorry for himself and glows. Not much.

SVENGALI (1931 - B/W) - Quite expressionist, John Barrymore too hammy. Feels like a silent.  Unconvincing death scene for Trilby. Hammy, too much of a caricature. Stars Marian Marsh and Barrymore did the same in The Mad Genius (1931 - B/W), Barrymore a hammy Russian and a blink and you'll miss it Karloff.

You'll Find Out (1940 - B/W) - Old horror-comedy/variety show hybrid vehicle for radio star/Looney Tunes star Kay Kyser, with Karloff,  Lugosi and Peter Lorre. Same old old dark house thing with added explosions and a prophetic prom subplot.  Typical quick-talking duo versus a gorilla suit and lost treasure.  Pleasing, overlong but complicated.

A Bell from Hell (1973) - Terrible Spanish schlock, possibly made more incomprehensible by the fact the director died in production.

Frankenstein Unbound (1990) - John Hurt is oddly rubbish in this film. A dry run for his brief Doctor Who guest appearance, it's miscast all round. Bridget Fonda as Mary Shelley, Cissy from You Rang, M'Lord as the Bride, Raul Julia does his best, but Roger Corman takes it way too seriously... A Bill and Ted-type vibe may have helped.  And the supporting cast of dubbing stalwarts are blank. It feels like it wants to be Merchant-Ivory,  but at other points, has a Charles Band vibe befitting the Italian shooting locations. All very silly. Not enjoyable in any way, sadly. Though the Carl Davis soundtrack is nice, but it does sound like it'll turn into the World at War theme any second.

From Beyond (1986) - I like Stuart Gordon as a personality, and I try to like his films, but they never quite gel. In this particular case, because it has that tacky Charles Band sheen. And that mix of gore, prosthetics and jokes that doesn't work.

Terminal Man (1974) - Hmm. WTF? Lots of slow, voyeuristic surgery in typically cold Crichtonia. Joan Hackett's good, though.

The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961 - B/W) - Interesting to hear Leo McKern's strine accent come out.  I'm not really into newspaper dramas,  but it shines when it opens up. It feels like a natural event. All the sensation is painted wonderfully. The relationship stuff drags for me. But everything else, the side characters, the reaction, it feels real. It's a little overlong, but it feels the closest Britain got to the cerebral-disaster Japanese SF of the era. And there's a scene set outside the London offices of the Indo. An incredibly striking and profound depiction of world's end. The end scenes are a mix of depression and furious excitement, as London falls to ruins.  Astonishing.

The Walking Dead (1936 - B/W) - Gangster-infused Frankenstein knockoff with Karloff as an English accented crook revived as a Mallen-streaked zombie by Edmund Gwenn for some reason done up as Lionel Atwill. Average crime movie becomes an average mad science quickie. By Michael Curtiz. See also Karloff in the ridiculous "spacesuit = communication with the dead" cheapie The Devil Commands (1941 - B/W).

Isle Of The Dead (1945 - B/W) - Karloff in Lewtonian horror-mystery that merely spooks up a tired war story.

Blind Terror/See No Evil (1971) - It feels like a comedy without jokes. It's still caught in the roots of an old fashioned melodrama. They both feel like proto-DePalma. See No Evil does have HER (and now, she's moving back here, God help us) in a role that screams, "Bunty comic" (blind girl who likes horses, whose boyfriend is Norman Eshley). Paul Nicholas is more terrifying than Alan Arkin, though. Clemens clearly has a problem with travellers. It's all a bit Follyfoot gone wrong. It's the same old Clemens/Thriller bollocks riffing on the overrated Wait Until Dark (1967).
Wait Until Dark I find ridiculous, Alan Arkin a comedy beatnik and Aud's not convincing as a blind person. 

Forbidden Planet (1956) - It's visually exciting, but it's basically a Star Trek pilot, with typical 50s SF trappings and something vaguely resembling the Tempest given extra gravitas via a bigger budget and Walter Pidgeon. The costumes look silly. Lines like "mad scientist of the tape thrillers" add verisimilitude. Leslie Nielsen is an arsehole, while lovely Anne Francis shows him up.

It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955 - B/W) - Below average Harryhausen film, not much animation, before he went to England and got better actors. Even the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953 - B/W) feels slapdash. Cecil Kellaway tries his best, but also Paul Hubschmid isn't best emoting in English.Then again, the script for Beast was written by Fred Freiberger, the man with the power to turn anything he touches into nonsense.

The Uninvited (1944 - B/W) - Aside from some nice village sets, this fails to capture an English atmosphere, with American-accented locals and lots of similar-looking women. Interesting to see a young-ish Alan Napier, but I'm not really into haunted house films. Typical 1940s melodrama, which don't quite appeal.

Konga (1961) - It looks expensive, Michael Gough treats it with much relish and the production feels so much better in Britain than it would have been in the US, the colour really helps, the mad science stuff is taken so seriously, it becomes more enjoyable, but Jess Conrad is shite. He really is. He is wearing THAT pullover, but just because he was vaguely photogenic doesn't explain how he has stuck around to this day. The teen stuff is excruciating. Though Conrad's family (Leonard Sachs - was this before or after the cottaging?) are fun. Why does have Jack Watson do an American accent, especially as he looks little like himself? The ending twist is fun.

Dracula Has Risen From The Grave (1968)  - A strange mix. Don't think I had actually seen this one in full. The Hammer Draculas all kind of blend into one for me. Plus it uses stock footage of modern Europe for what is supposedly a generic "olde worlde" time. Michael Ripper resembles a relative. The German atmosphere is variable. The trouble with the Dracula films is unlike Frankenstein, you can't develop the character. You have to introduce new characters, which means lots of filler. At least, Christopher Lee gets dialogue.  But the ending's a bit silly.

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) - Overrated, rather silly. Dracula removed of any power. Father Shandor is an interesting character, but most of the film has to be carried by four posh tourists. Was Philip Latham cast because of his resemblance to Lee?

Legend of the Werewolf (1975) - Silly werewolf do-over of the less likeable, more serious Curse of the Werewolf (1961). It's very tatty, feels like it was filmed in the back of a farm, and the likes of Hugh Griffith, Renee Houston, Roy Castle and Ron Moody are all very Children's Film Foundation-y. It feels as if it was directed by Lionel Jeffries.

Son of Frankenstein (1939 - B/W) - Where the series devolves. Lugosi is great, almost Troughtonesque, but Rathbone's character is rubbish. But it is very much in the shadow of Mel Brooks. Karloff in this is clearly somewhat of an influence on Peter Boyle. It's also overlong, a bit of a mess.

The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) - Awful film, laboured comedy, great soundtrack and sets, but basically a typical Eurocomedy in horror drag. It's overlong. Polanski has no on-screen charisma. Jack McGowaran looks like Denise Coffey. His accent and Irish theatre actor hamming is dire. Lots of mugging.

Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964) - Relatively small Hammer. Jack Gwillim kind of fills in for Cushing, like he would arguably would in The Monster Squad, only to be succeeded in the heroic role by Ronald "son of Leslie" Howard, though rival Terence Morgan is almost interchangeable. The period setting is non-existent, down to visible neon signs in a supposed Edwardian theatre. There's one good scene, with Fred Clark being stalked through the fog by the mummy,  but in all, it's the least of Hammy's Egyptian ventures.

The Power (1968) - All-star George Pal telekinetic mess. Overlong, overstretched, goes nowhere.

Vampira (1975) - David Niven as Dracula. Produced by Columbia, but sold to AIP, who later reused ideas for their own Love At First Bite. Features Nicky Henson, Bernard Bresslaw, Frank Thornton, Kenneth Cranham, Freddie Jones very low billed, surprisingly.  Nadim Sawalha pops up. The trouble is Niven doesn't convince as a vampire. He's just David Niven. He's trying to have fun, but he's sleepwalking. A few times, he shows promise of the sinister, but the script by Jeremy Lloyd is feeble. It needed David Croft. The Playboy Playmates stuff comes from a sleazier film, and I'm not into sleazy exploitation stuff. And the whole "Dracula is a racist" stuff, which AIP previously used in Blacula is now supposed to be the main plot, and not the catalyst for someone else's origin. Teresa Graves is quite graceful, and sufficiently beautiful for the role. And convinces as an aristo who fancies Jim Brown. Freddie Jones does his American voice, and seems to be wearing a wig to make him look like Ed Bishop. Dracula has to find white blood, which means interrupting Aimi MacDonald's fling with Patrick Newell. Interestingly, it connects Vlad the Impaler with Dracula, an early usage of that connection. But it's mostly unfunny, and ends with Niven turning black, something which even the film seems embarrassed of. There's a funky theme by Tony Newley. The print is in rough condition.

The Mutations (1974) - Sleazy atmosphere, despite being directed by Jack Cardiff. Feels very cheap shot on the fly. Tom Baker plays an acromegalic giant freakshow owner assisting plant-obsessed Mittel European Donald Pleasence with ideas of cloning dinosaurs and creating plant-men. Endlessly padded with Freaks-ish domestic drama and Man About the House-style middle-aged college hijinks, and crap sound. Fire eater played by Bob Bura, who was animation partner for Gordon Murray and John Ryan. Tom does some good shouting opposite Michael Dunn, and literally kicks up a fuss at a birthday party, but it's such a mess of a film. It probably isn't finished. It's almost like a Blood Island film crossed with Freaks. Tom sounds hoarse, but he's probably muffled by the heap of plastic on his face.

Magic (1978) - Decent but it lacks something. Cos it is directed by Dickie Attenborough, it lacks a certain punch. Anthony Hopkins' Welsh-American accent explained by the fact he's of English parentage. Jerry Goldsmith's soundtrack is typical 70s Goldsmith. The early showbizzy stuff is fun, with mentions of Rich Little, but it gets a bit silly.

The Mummy's Hand (1940)/The Mummy's Tomb (1942)/The Mummy's Curse (1944)/The Mummy's Ghost (1944 - all B/W) - All the same, really. Shoddy in both setting (set over decades, and it's always WW2), and with a suspiciously grassy desert and quarry. Not my thing. Formulaic. Almost interchangeable. John Carradine a less convincing Egyptian than anyone, which is something.

Blood (1974) - Godawful agitprop Andy Milligan monster rally. Old dark house-ish mystery done on stagey homemade sets.

Brides of Dracula   (1960) - A weak followup. Cushing is great, as is Miles Malleson in his cameo, and there's an interestingly mostly female cast, but David Peel as Dracula surrogate Baron Meinster is a weak nemesis. Even John Forbes-Robertson was better.

Shadow of the Cat (1961  - B/W) - Dire old dark house film that Hammer took their name off.

Been watching a lot of indie horror from the 70s. Attempted The Maltese Bippy, The Boy Who Cried Werewolf, Beyond The Door,  Horror High, Ombre Roventi, Queens of Evil, Savage Weekend, 1973's Hex, Monster from 1979, Witches' Brew with Lana Turner, Haunts, Whiskey Mountain and Return to Boggy Creek, and all of them - nah. Just couldn't maintain me. And tried a few Bollywood horror, Purana Mandir, Junoon and Bandh Darwaza. Bollywood films are so odd, anyway, plus Bollywood music I find samey.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Ramblings part 2 yearly count - 2018 - 1109/1279 2017 - c.300

206 - July + 23 refs    June 73 + 52 refs  = 125/138    Jan = 91 Feb = 157 + 27+ish      March = 67  April = 133/176   May = 106/118

2017 c.300

Realised there's very few 80s horror films I genuinely love - Gremlins, Halloween III, American Werewolf. The Stuff. The Howling's bits of, yes.  Most fall into three categories, fun, reasonable timekillers, artsy-fartsy and plain duds. As you were saying, It becomes all very slick and heartless somehow. Even something like Waxwork. And also - a major reason, 80s American teens annoy the hell out of me. There's elements of films I live - the opening of the Monster Squad (and Duncan Regehr's a good Dracula), McDowall in Fright Night, Elmer in Brain Damage, Belial in Basket Case, the Killer Klowns from Outer Space themselves but not so much the film, bits of Creepshow (but even then Romero is overrated, and apart from Amicus, EC comics translations don't work well as they're all about a single image), bits of the 80s Blob, bits of the Funhouse, the attacks, the opening and Henry Silva's bits in Alligator (1980), elements of fun slashers, Bloody Birthday, Strange Behaviour and Motel Hell  the slashers especially, a few moments shine - but the slasher is a genre where every film is so fragmented), most of Omen III - The Final Conflict (I know, it's not great but...), Frank Finlay's performance and the hitch-hiking scenes in Lifeforce, but a lot of it doesn't gel, and a lot of those films have 80s teens. And also re:that 80s zaniness of things like Re-Animator, I think a friend said that that HBO Tales from the Crypt mix of prosthetics and jokes doesn't translate well here.
And I like Miracle Mile (1989), that's a different kind of horror - but Cherry 2000 is silly, typical post-apocalyptic tosh, where even the imaginative bits are rather stupid.Miracle Mile strikes the balance between intelligence and entertainment, And the 80sness isn't too overwhelming, and it has a good cast.
There's films I like for their so-bad-it's-good quality, Pieces (1982) a rare 80s horror entry, Pieces,
Even something like Dead and Buried (1982) I find the California sunlight ruins it, it also feels slightly too much like an episode of an 80s cop show.  I think TVCream described it as being Lorimar-esque, which is a very nice way of putting it. Then again, zombie films I find mostly boring. And of the British horror films of the era, The Keep is badly-made and badly-written, Xtro would have made a fine anthology segment - but the good weirdness (the clown, the Action Man) is overwhelmed by the bad weirdness (the alien stuff), Venom (1982) would have made a neat Tale of the Unexpected, but is overlong, the more Americanised stuff is forgettable, i.e. The Sender, the Hunger, Slayground, Scream For Help and yes, Hellraiser. 1/3 of Screamtime works, there's stuff that I did see but didn't register - The Godsend (1980), Dream Demon, and the Company of Wolves, which registered simply because of the My Weekly that appears. Even the shite 70s British horror films have some charm, or at least, curiosity value.
Weirdly, the 90s, there's more films there, possibly - Hardware, the Witches, the Addams Family/Addams Family Values, Braindead, Matinee, Funny Bones, Mars Attacks! but even then, most of those are borderline...
Yes, I don't like Halloween, but I like III. See also - The Adventures of Barry McKenzie is alright, but Barry McKenzie Holds His Own is astonishing.

Realised that outside of Saddles, Frankenstein, Wonka, Smarter Brother and Silver Streak, most of Gene Wilding (it's what my grandad called him)'s films I find only slightly enjoyable. Stir Crazy (1980) is okay, as is The Producers (1968), and the likes of Frisco Kid, World's Greatest Lover and even Start the Revolution Without Me have not quite appealed for a full watch (see also similar non-Wilder fare like Johnny Dangerously - which from the trailer, struck me as an adult Bugsy Malone). They reek too much of comedy swashbuckler, a genre I've never quite appealed.

I realise the reason most of the "great horrors" alienate me, Les Diaboliques, The Shining, Night of the Living Dead, Carrie, Halloween, The Exorcist, Dawn Of The Dead, Nightmare On Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw, Psycho, Rosemary's Baby, Don't Look Now, Alien, Predator, the Evil Dead, Poltergeist (well, to an extent - I then saw the film and realised  how Spielberg-y it was), both Terminators, Robocop, Hellraiser, Silence of the Lambs, Blue Velvet, The Usual Suspects and Goodfellas (they were lumped into "scary moments"), was because because I saw them in full I had already seen them in digest form in various clips, and so I had seen the films without seeing the films, and having tasted the films, I didn't want more. Predator I saw on E4 or Sky, and I liked it enough. It's an amiable enough sci-fi programmer, but nothing more... It's got a good monster and a good cast, but not much else. And the setting is slightly too remote.
The Omen, American Werewolf, Jaws, bits of The Thing are the exceptions - and the Wicker Man, kind of, even though I don't see it as a horror - but as a rather daffy musical comedy.
It's also why it took me a long time to watch the whole canon of Universal horrors. I saw the Mummy, Frankenstein and Dracula at 8, the latter two had documentaries which also briefed the whole saga - and served the whole Frankenstein and Dracula canon in digest form. The Mummy doc didn't have this, and I didn't see the Wolf Man itself until I was 15, even though I had glimpsed/digested the sequels. And when I saw the films, I really was rewatching them.

This also happened to a lot of "the great canon films". By the time I was 10, I'd sampled Midnight Cowboy, Bullitt, Taxi Driver, various Hitchcocks, the Rocky, Rambo and Dirty Harry series, Cape Fear, Bonnie and Clyde, The Great Escape (that and numerous bank holidays) Mommie Dearest, Night of the Hunter, White Heat (actually I think I caught it on TG4 around that time), Little Caesar (not a gangster man, any road), the Godfather (also my mam had sat me down to watch it but I got tired), the Dollars trilogy, A Clockwork Orange (also read the book despite being about 6) - Mum was horrified when she saw me asking what words meant, Chinatown (duh...), All About Eve, Manchurian Candidate, Casablanca, High Noon, Grapes of Wrath, Schindler's List, Norma Rae, Gandhi, In the Heat of the Night, On The Waterfront, The Adventures of Robin Hood (well, I caught that on RTE around that time), All the President's Men, the Big Sleep (again not a hard-boiled man), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (what rubbish), Double Indemnity (not a noir man), Tarzan the Ape Man, Boys' Town (well actually was Grandad sitting me down as well), The French Connection, Die Hard, Cool Hand Luke, Sgt. York (not a western man per se), Serpico, True Grit, Animal House, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the Philadelphia Story, the Jerk, the Producers, many of the Ealing stuff (Kind Hearts I find wastes Guinness, the rest more light dramas than anything), Porky's, Fast Times at Ridgemont High (okay, not "great", but still pivotal), Life of Brian/Holy Grail, Dr. Strangelove, The Naked Gun (but not Airplane! - that is great, and a Sky 1 watch), Some Like It Hot, M*A*S*H, and all the 80s folderol, Spinal Tap, Ferris Bueller, Beverly Hills Cop and Police Academy (though my dad watched them constantly), When Harry Met Sally, Withnail and I, Planes, Trains and Automobiles (John Candy was better off in Canadian stuff - SCTV, Heavy Metal and daresay it, the lovely Sesame Street - Follow That Bird), The Odd Couple, not quite Trading Places (because I eventually realised that film, it's not great, but it's probably the best straight-comedy that Landis has done), Stand By Me, Enter The Dragon etc, I had already glimpsed them in the form of digested versions on movie shows, equivalent to Castle 8mm versions, so the films didn't really ever pique my attention after, and in most cases, the genres they represent, because I'd already got the gist and didn't really need to see them. I'd been given the icing, and had enough. And once I saw most of these in full, I realised I hadn't missed much. See also the various Disney Time-type compilations you'd see without seeing the full films.  The Searchers I had seen because my mam sat me down. It was an education, even though I don't do westerns per se. Maybe because of the mass exposure of westerns I had, growing up in the Americana-obsessed Irish heartland. Or perhaps a case of Too Much, Too Young.

I was realising why I like 70s horrors set in Britain, maybe it is due to the evocative setting, not the 70s glam and all that, but the world it conjures up, of the mundane against the fantastic, not so much ghosts (I feel like I should like the Legend of Hell House more than I do, but to be honest, I find it a little silly - it's an EC comic idea taken too seriously), but things breaking through, metaphysical horror, of dark nights, wind against suburban streets, British character actors looking grim. The 70s Amicus horrors do it best (Dr. Terror and Torture Garden are fun, but they're slightly too silly, almost throwaway, a bit too Bloch, a bit Mid-Atlantic). It doesn't have to be set in the 70s, but mittel-European stuff only please me when there's nothing else on, maybe as it is too familiar because it is a time that only existed in the movies, and some are stifled by clashing elements (i.e. the vampires are the worst thing about Kiss of the Vampire, and Curse of the Werewolf doesn't feel thought-through, the Spanish setting chosen just to use a set - when everyone knows the foggy streets of London are the best place for a wolf ). And Victoriana depends on the story. Though that said, some of the seedier, more giallo-like, more grounded ones are a little difficult, and I'm not an erotic thriller man per se (again, noir). "Fright" (1970) is a bit silly but worth for Dennis Blood-erman (in a pre-reunion with George Cole). The fuzzy felt folk-soundtracked "I Start Counting", "Assault", "The Offence", "Revenge", "What Became of Jack And Jill", "Straight On Till Morning",  the grimmer, humorless ones don't quite do it for me, and they're quite pervy, and others can get quite Clemens-y. And Soon The Darkness has a good cast, and is nicely shot, but it does wander a bit, although with the hitch-hiking element, it is appropriate. But on the subject of pervy pictures, as beautifully shot as something like "What Have You Done To Solange?" is, it is almost too unnervingly bleak. And Our Mother's House I found rather annoying in its chirpy, child-like nature, too "quirky" and aimless as to what genre it is. It perhaps needed a character, perhaps an older sister as a more sensible, rooted protagonist. At least Pete Walker's films entertain. It might not be hauntology, it just might be the slight difference between good and bad horror. And more so 70s than 60s, even though I loved the Italian Job as a kid, a lot of that 60s stuff wears me down now, especially all those comedies -The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom, Prudence and the Pill, and that's excluding all the "pop star" vehicles. I like Summer Holiday, but the Beatles' films are godawful, and there's a lot of films where it's all "oh, we're working class lads on a wacky adventure - like us, please!".
One thing for sure - most British horror films work better than similar TV series (i.e. the likes of Children of the Stones are all overlong and padded, and yet are saddled with really rushed endings - they could easily be compacted and given a better resolution - but because they were for kids, they could not go for a spectacular Quatermass-type all out sacrifice - as they were traumatising the kiddies enough). Though to be honest, many of the later Hammer period vampire efforts feel a bit like ITV's period kids' shows, Black Beauty with blood, if you may, especially the very cheap-looking and silly Vampire Circus (1972). Nigel Kneale's Beasts (-1976) I find hard to take seriously, though - like Crossroads with ghosts.

British Horror of the 70s falls into several sections - the great (much of the Amicus stuff, Blood From The Mummy's Tomb, Horror Express, The Omen, Blood On Satan's Claw*, Theatre of Blood, arguably the two Phibes films), the stuff worth one watch (most of it), the terrible, and "Have I seen this one before?" (too many serial killer thrillers of the period with girls being stalked through forest, anything about a haunted house, so many films about "weird" families - Goodbye Gemini, the forgettable Michael Gough dinner conversation of The Corpse, Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly, etc).  I like Blood on Satan's Claw because it feels a bit Kneale-ish, if Beasts was done properly, and not as an episode of Crossroads. Scream and Scream Again, The Beast Must Die and Captain Kronos are fun, but they feel like TV pilots."george white" Revisiting these lists I made. I Find Red Sun and The White Buffalo not as good as I did, Red Sun's fun at times, but it's no Valley of Gwangi in terms of barking genre collisions, while The White Buffalo is almost ashamed of its genre roots, and the other westerns are all serviceable, apart from Carry On Cowboy. As you can see, for the detective entry, I struggled for titles, not being a noir man. The Big Sleep I enjoy because it's a genre mashup, it's Raymond Chandler via Euston (or ITC's Euston-aping division, but still...). And yes, the Dogs of War I enjoy, because it is more of an adventure. a little downbeat but they create an interesting setting, and put together a good cast. And Colin Blakely is great. But I kept misaligning Miss World as an ITV thing. Fear Is The Key is a bit of a mess, though.
I find Cold War spy films, mostly the less adventurous ones, the more serious (and to be honest, most of the comedic) ones rather boring, things like The Falcon and the Snowman is forgettable, but it's Seany Penn trying to be a  spy, so of course it mightn't register, and most of all, Gorky Park, one of those films that baffles as it has Americans and Brits playing Russians with their own accents, and then a Yank character comes in, and despite some fun casting - Richard Griffiths, Rikki Fulton, Alexei Sayle, and a nice cameo from Henry Woolf as a coroner, the British voices directing a Soviet film perplexes and it becomes apparent that it is nonsense because it is written by a certain red-faced hack named Potter. Tinker, Tailor and Smiley's People I find a little overlong, but it has such a good cast at their best, and the doubling of Glasgow for Czechoslovakia is astonishing. There's a barren Eastern quality in those scenes that don't look British at all. But most spy films I find boring. I find films entertainment, or portals to other worlds, and in most of these films, they don't entertain and the worlds always seem very fake.
Marathon Man looks good, but it has irritating characters. Schlesigner is not my cuppa. Day of the Locust and Yanks and Honky Tonk Freeway are interesting attempts to evoke worlds, but not especially great. He'd have been a good game designer.
John Frankenheimer's films I also never get. I seem to be going off typical political thrillers, crime stuff and war movies.  Maybe it's watching them on a laptop, where your attention has to be grabbed more than say, a DVD, as there are more diversions. Or maybe it's just I've seen too much the same.

Surprised at how little SF/horror there is. Then again, I've a weird taste in SF. I like intelligent yet entertaining SF. I don't like Star Wars anymore, but I like Flash Gordon, Battle Beyond The Stars, Last Starfighter, Ice Pirates, and find Dune overlong, bloated, cold, with no real characters to relate to, a real folly but still a visual treat. But the more Mad Max-tinged likes of Metalstorm and Spacehunter are awful. Probably why I never was really interested in Alien.  For me, there needs to be a certain amount of wonder and awe and fun in SF. I've already mentioned my disinterest in 50s/60s space movies.

And Yes, I enjoyed Rituals (1977), but still find Deliverance and Southern Comfort a slog. The latter two try to create a world and fail, which is a disaster, as the world is the enemy - and you need a good villain. And Rituals  has a great location, and good sets (from ITC kiddy-show The Forest Rangers).

And Charles Pierce's films are rather muddled, and confused, his sheriff in The Town That Dreaded Sundown like something from one of those awful spoofs like Saturday the 14th or Pandemonium.

This is when I'd have enthusiasm for something like Grizzly! (1976) Now, like Pierce's films, I find the films of William Girdler at best serviceable, average and almost TV movie-like, an attempt to be mainstream that reduces all charm, some weird moments i.e. rapey Leslie Nielsen and the twenty-odd dwarf-schoolboy in Day of the Animals, but nothing special. Yes, he died young, yes he had promise, but he may have been America's Michael Reeves, a journeyman at best, and certainly not an auteur. His early films are near-unwatchable. And though his unmade Outsiders sounds promising, it might have been another dire Star Wars knock-off (not a good one like Battle Beyond the Stars, Last Starfighter or Ice Pirates, but something like Shape of Things to Come).  Michael Ansara is good in the Manitou, but the film doesn't feel quite as weird as it should be, bar the 3-D-like climax. It's no The Sentinel or The Visitor. It's like The Legacy, it's mid-budget studio horror with no spark.And Grizzly is okay, but it has no spark. Even when Piranha lulls, there's always a joke or a little spark Dante adds to keep you interested, like the stop-motion creature's cameo. And Grizzly doesn't have that.

And I forgot to put Winter Kills (1979) on the list -a film which I shouldn't like, but I love because it is so darn weird - and the conspiracy actually clicks/weird enough/big enough for me to enjoy it (see also The Boys from Brazil). It knows it is boring, so it livens itself up. Cutter's Way almost captures the same feel, maybe cos of Jeff Bridges again in similar surroundings, but it devolves into rather bleak noir. And it doesn't have John Huston being strange, or this weird satiric "big business" thing going on. Apart from the Parallax View 70s, conspiracy thrillers are rather strait-laced, but Winter Kills is this globe-trotting quest through the weird side of the rich. Its spiritual companion, the American Success Company didn't quite click - Larry Cohen writing an upmarket magic realism sex comedy. It's a fun little picture, actually quite a bit like Who Is Killing The Great Chefs of Europe or Silver Bears, a mediocre caper that sporadically sparkles, but nothing special. But Winter Kills could easily go the way of Eyes of Laura Mars or Looking for Mr. Goodbar, and instead becomes something strange and wonderful. Director William Richert does seem to be "a bit of a character".
And as for Who Is Killing The Great Chefs of Europe (1979) - typically duff European comedy, but the all-star British segments set at "GBTV" Centre are ace, because any film with a UK TV studio chase is bound to have some value (well, there was a Norman Wisdom film, and Wisdom always annoyed me a bit although I appreciate him because my gran loved him, but still...)

Sidney Lumet's films never gel with me. Finney's Poirot is rank. Heist/crime films don't do it for me. See also Schlesinger and Frankenheimer.
Day of the Locust and Yanks and Honky Tonk Freeway are interesting attempts to evoke worlds, but not especially great. He'd have been a good game designer.

Of John Huston's films, I like the Man Who Would Be King I suppose, it at least looks nice even if it's a bit overlong, List of Adrian Messenger and Mackintosh Man are Irish-made and are pleasingly odd time-killers, Victory is great fun despite not being a sports fan. African Queen is okay, even though it's basically two slightly tipsy people of different classes trying to flirt with each other, and Moby Dick and The Dead are all atmospheric, and portray Ireland as it should be, even when it plays New England. Night of the Iguana I kind of like too, and I actually enjoy the characters, even though that Southern prose can be hardgoing, but that's mainly Burton. The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean I want to like more than I do. But everything else I am ambivalent on - and The Kremlin Letter I've tried constantly and never succeeded.

I've a weird sense of humour. Comedies I seem to like seem to be the ones with big ideas.
80s comedies I can't seem to get, bar Airplane!, Top Secret!, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Gremlins, Ice Pirates, Amazon Women On The Moon... Most social comedies (9 to 5, Private Benjamin) never appealed. Some films about showbusiness (My Favourite Year, the Escape Artist) appealed, but mainly due to the characters and eccentricity. The first two Muppet Movies and Follow That Bird I like, Muppets Take Manhattan is odd. Big Trouble In Little China I find weird, pleasingly strange but somewhat alienating. Trading Places I like, Coming To America I feel like I should like more, Star vehicles, of Robin Williams, Steve Martin and most of the SNL lot have faded from my taste. National Lampoon's Vacation and its first sequel are still relatively fun. The Cannonball Run is a complete folly, in the mould of such unwatchable messes as Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines. Cheech and Chong I never got, but I don't even drink alcohol (I eat it, whiskey truffle chocolate, yum). Dudley Moore I find likeable, but I don't really find his films great. And his stuff with Cook, urgh... The Stunt Man I found artsy bollocks. Used Cars was akin to an ordinary 70s sitcom crossed with an anodyne 70s Disney movie starring Kurt Russell, or a US remake of Minder. I find Polyester and Popeye films that look great stylistically, but but raise no laughs.  Back To The Future I did like as a boy, but now I prefer Last Starfighter, plus the ending is cruel. John Candy's solo vehicles - I liked them as a kid but now realise his full talent was only ever exposed on SCTV. There's quite a few I saw as a kid, and probably shouldn't revisit - the Ernest films. And Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Ghostbusters I like but not because I find it funny. I liked them because there is humour in them, yes, but they're adventures with charm and ideas. Clue is alright, but it is confusing, and I do wonder what it'd have been like if original choice Leonard Rossiter had lived to play Tim Curry's part.
Even British ones of the era - I like Time Bandits, Local Hero (but Forsyth's other films aren't that appealing), Restless Natives, some of Meaning of Life, Clockwise, kind of like Morons from Outer Space and Bullshot, And 90s British comedies - Funny Bones, the Commitments (technically), Bean (kind of),) and the perfectly pleasant Hear My Song and Blame It On The Bellboy. Everything is either anodyne or awful.
I'm not a great comedy drama boy, and though I love Hot Fuzz, find cop-comedies somewhat bland, perhaps too American. I find a lot of things samey. I suppose if you are exposed to things too young or when you want other things, that's what happens. I like weird, broad, possibly conventionally misshapen things.

I find the Nouvelle Vague terribly uninteresting and rather boring, because it is well... vague. And Jacques Demy feels annoying. It's like he is the progenitor of Gondry, Jonze and all those irritating music video sorts.

Realised that the pre-80s US anthologies put me off because there is something "scarimental" about them, a queasy mix of genre and sentimentality, i.e. Serling and Bradbury. Stories that work as stories or as comics may not work on the screen.Though I do have a soft spot for Night Gallery, but the good eps of that were mostly adaptations of British stories or by loonies like Lovecraft. And I don't like sentimentality. It works sometimes, i.e. The Escape Artist (1982) and My Favourite Year (1982), but a film needs to earn itself to be sentimental, it needs to have characters you like and a reason for sentiment. And those films are more wistful than sentimental, plus films set in that entertainment milieu attract me.
I've also gone off cop shows and episodic drama TV in general.  Too samey, perhaps if they have actors I like, I might watch an episode, but I have reached a point where I feel like I have seen almost too much.

Arty-weird film directors, yer Herzogs and Jodorowskys fascinate me. I don't really enjoy their films (well, from what I saw of Where the Green Ants Dreams seemed to be interesting, but it is Australian), the thing about a lot of these filmmakers is the behind the scenes stuff is always more interesting. They are films that you want to make, not see. See also the other German New Wave types, e.g. Fassbinder (World on a Wire is enjoyable in a 70s Euro-SF way, even if it is a sort of German ITC Dennis Potter thingy, though the chase is great and the aquarium visuals interesting).
Then again, I think Nicolas Roeg's best film is The Witches (Don't Look Now, I know it's childish, but it takes too long for the film to reach the highlight - i.e. its end).
And my favourite Hitchcock is Frenzy (though I do almost like Torn Curtain).
And I have a weird distaste for screwball comedies and noir and westerns, and gangster movies, and only like the more adventurous sort of war movies. And despite being an alleged horror fan, find most US horror extremely formulaic, especially the post-70s slashers and bladder FX ones. Good trailers, not so good movies.
I have gone off cop/detective shows.
Even basic thrillers if they don't have a touch of foreign intrigue or excitement tend to bore me. Then again, something like Wait Until Dark is basically a Clemensian nonsense-ride and an excuse for Alan Arkin to ham up and be "the American Sellers". He's a good character actor in smallish roles, but tends to be stale ham in larger roles.

And Kubrick's best work is lighting the stages for the Spy Who Loved Me. While Ridley Scott has never bettered his work for Hovis. And James Cameron's best work is Aliens, and even that falls apart.
I find most serious science fiction dull, good ideas, but better trailers than films , and though i enjoy a fair few Star Wars knockoffs, even Star Wars alienates me. Pure SF needs to work on screen, mixed in with other genres, I feel. And even then, a lot of the old-fashioned B movies alienate me. Again better trailers than films. And see also the Terminators and Robocops (well, elements of the first one work but I was never the biggest 2000 AD fan - it's a better world to write than read), though Total Recall is fun.
In other words, action-adventure films need to have a bit of exoticism and foreign intrigue, and sci-fi films have to have a mix of awe and enjoyment.
Comedies have to appeal to me if there's a good idea behind them. Same with horror or SF. US sex comedies, and hell most UK sex comedies and all Euro-sex comedies don't appeal. The Confessions never had the crux that a Carry On had - it was driven to repetition and died out because it had to be about Timmy Lea, while a Carry On can be about anything.

I am weird. Though I do like movies for plots and incidents, a lot of movies fascinate me not for the story or the dialogue, just the craft of filmmaking, of building visual worlds and the odd little performance from a character actor. I suppose I am like a car enthusiast who prefers the ideas of cars being assembled rather than driven.

Also been trying to watch a few PBS original dramas. It is as if they thought in order to be an alternative to US network TV, they'd have to be dry and slow, and devoid of excitement.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

54/51 inc. Westworld - Freaks, Christmas, North Sea Hijack, Canadian SF, Twilight's Last Gleaming, Visitor, Wise Blood, 12 Chairs, Breaker Morant, Blunden, 60s comedy, Euro-action, 70s horror, Sammy Going South

Tried watching NFB pirate films, but they're all the same.

Live Wire (-1992) - Pierce "Peter" Brosnan fights terrorists using unwitting suicide bombers. A lot of pre-9/11 stuff made about how the US has never had a terrorist incident.  Ben Cross does "the Rickman" role. Dareisay it, I'm not the biggest fan of Mr. Brosnan. He's to Roger Moore what Big Tom is to Johnny Cash. Clement von Franckenstein plays a mad scientist with his unique "I want to be Herbert Lom" acting style. Only lasted 15 minutes.

Scrooged (1988) - The faux-shows are good, but I found it at the same time, sentimental and obnoxious, and a bit too 80s comedy "wacky". The Elfman score doesn't help.

Tried watching A Christmas Story (1983), and I understand why it's unknown here. It's that very American sentimentality. But there's bits of weird humour that kind of gel with me, the lamp. Darren McGavin's great. It works in bits, but other times, the more kiddy stuff doesn't quite do with me. Some of the vignettes are great, but it's bitty.

Freaks (1932 - B/W)  - It feels incomplete, for obvious reasons. It's not a good film. It's almost a proto-reality show. But it is fascinating.

Norman's Awesome Experience (1989) - Canadian attempt by the makers of Lexx to do a bland if sometimes attractive Canadian Bill and Ted-via-Asterix. See also Terminal City Ricochet (1990), a similar Canadian video-sci-fi "comedy" that doesn't work.

Twilight's Last Gleaming (1976) - Probably Aldrich's best film, shot like a cinematic comic book, excellent use of split-screens, a incredible cast even though it is overlong.

The Visitor (1979) - It is way too overlong, but it is so extraordinary. John Huston as a Polish-named Time Lord sent by Franco Nero as Space Jesus to rescue a female devilchild, from Mel Ferrer as a corporate representative of Satine. Shelley Winters as a good Mrs. Baylock. Glenn Ford and Sam Peckinpah appearing. Lots of nonsense involving birds. Lance Henriksen as a stepfather. Kareem Abdul Jabaar as himself. The epoch of Italian exploitation.

The Food of the Gods (1976) - Most of Bert I Gordon's stuff I'm not a fan of, but this although quite dreary has an attractive, unusual Canadian setting and British Columbia locations, though the silliness of the giant chickens does tonally crack that. It is better than Gordon's silly Joan Collins Floridian ant-camp Empire of the Ants (1977) and the TV movie-ish faux-Gordon cowpoke drudgery of Kingdom of the Spiders (-1977).

Wise Blood (1979) - More Huston. Not quite my film. It feels a bit tonally awkward. The setting seems to be  an afterthought. It feels like it should be the 50s, but the budget wasn't there.

The 12 Chairs (1970) - Early Mel Brooks comedy, forgotten. It's odd. Frank Langella and Dom Deluise try to help/hinder Ron Moody in finding a diamond sewn into one of the titular seats. Very Jewish, with lots of Benny Hill-like spedup chases. It's a bit too Fiddler on the Roof for my tastes. Moody and Langella's styles don't quite gel. Nicholas "Rumbold" Smith pops up. It's an oddity. Not that funny. But it is an interesting folly. The finale includes some Brooks madness.

Amazing Mr. Blunden (1972)-  "you skinny slut!" Seen by the previous generation as a classic. It's almost.  It's overwhelmingly charming (the end credits!) but sometimes it's a little too genteel. Diana Dors is a little too hammy. She's not a convincing threat (plus Madeleine Smith is too likeable, and Dave Lodge is wasted). Bette Davis was considered for Wickens. And I think she would have been more convicingly monstrous, especially if she had done her "posh voice". Dors is a little panto, a bit Grotbags. The plot's a little clumsy too, the whole grave and potion stuff padded. The time travel stuff doesn't make sense. Lawrence Naismith is so brilliant, though, as is Graham Crowden.  I remember it being considerably darker. If they had gone for the darkness that colours the exciting and rather creepy climax, rather than slapstick...  Garry Miller plays a time-traveller called Jamie, having done so in the titular role in a blatant Doctor Who knockoff the year before.

Tried Breaker Morant (1980) again, and it's not quite my film. It's well-acted, well-made, but slow as hell. It's a war film, an unusual one, but still a war film.

Manchu Eagle Murder Caper Mystery (1975) - Altmanesque comedy rubbish with Gabriel Dell, quite well-preserved for his age and Barbara Harris.

Roaring Fire (1982) - Early vehicle for Hiroyuki Sanada as a cowboy warrior.  Very odd. Good action but contains Frat comedy,  Japanese Nazis, Sonny Chiba and a ventriloquist's dummy clearly voiced by a woman.

Cancel My Reservation (1972) - Interesting for the wrong reasons, Bob Hope's final starring vehicle, pushing seventy,  a throwback old dark house vehicle with added preachy subplot about Indian land rights. Odd tone. Cameos from Bing, John Wayne and Johnny Carson, all looking adrift in the very low budget, sub-TV surroundings. Typical 60s/early 70s comedy programmer, TV-ish production values, ageing star, jokes that don't quite land.

Law and Disorder (1974) Low-key, low-laugh, plotless wanders. Wambaugh-ish cop comedy with Carroll O'Connor and Ernest Borgnine, weirdly produced by Michael Medwin and Albert Finney.

Perils of Pauline (1967) - Terminally camp, overwrought pilot, theatrically released, Terry-Thomas in Dick Dastardly mode, Pat Boone as the hero, white jungle tribesmen and more in excruciating "comedy".

Pyro - The Thing Without A Face (1964) - Partly British-shot Spanish erotic thriller/horror with Barry Sullivan, sub-Bava lighting with Eurospy turgid action and a House of Wax aesthetic. Climax similar to Horrors of the Black Museum.

Le Gentleman of Cocody (1965) - Bland but attractive Jean Marais actioner. Some neat stunts, but sub-Bond hijinks.

The Steagle (1971) - Baffling countercultural com with Richard Benjamin changing identity and blowing up a western town. The PD print doesn't help either.

The Ski-Bum (1971) - Charlotte Rampling in countercultural snow-dung.

The Deadly Trap (1971) - Bland, nonsensical almost-giallo by Rene Clement, with Faye Dunaway and Frank Langella.

And Hope To Die (1972) - Jean Louis Trintignant, Robert Ryan and Aldo Ray in Rene Clement heist in Canada. Too slow to make an impact.

Rider on the Rain (1970) - A third Clement. Charles Bronson in a more serious film than usual. Not quite my thing. Star Marlene Jobert is Eva Green's mammy.

End of the Game (1975) - Jon Voight and Maximillian Schell in the latter's vanity project. Giallo-ish. But forgettable. Even the end car flip and the assassination on an airport conveyor belt fail to register. Perhaps hard-done by the grainy print and lack of English version.

North Sea Hijack (1979) - I want to like this film much more than I do,because Moore clearly relishes the role, but he's rather too unlikeable. Ffolkes is not a comic monster, he's just a ridiculous grotesque. And the hostage situation is rather boring, "Norway" is clearly Galway, Anthony Perkins is a good solid villain, but it almost feels too small. Something with the scale of Raise The Titanic may have suited, rather than the hostage of Jack Watson with a hurdy-gurdy accent. "Both my parents died in childbirth".

Le Marginal (1983) - Belmondo and Henry Silva in half-hearted French actioner.

The Master Touch (1973) - Kirk Douglas in Typical Eurocrime. Good chases but little else.

Hard Contract (1969) - James Coburn in bland Eurothriller. Like a lot of these thrillers, dated.

CIA contro KGB (1978) - Dreary but attractively shot suspense gubbins with Dennis Hopper, Joseph Cotten, Bruno Cremer, et al. Sudden ending.

Fuzz (1972) - It looks good, but it's tonally all over the place, being an Ed McBain adap.

Last Embrace (1979) - Jonathan Demme's slavishness to Hitchcock ends up with something rather boring indeed, a sort of De Palma photocopy.  The climax is interesting, but with a confused antagonist, it just looks a bit silly.

The Hospital (1971) - Altmanesque in some ways, Diana Rigg and George C. Scott fail to liven up a script.

7 Women (1966) - John Ford's Tenko. A little stagey, not quite my sort of film. And some of the yellowface is laughable. And there's a shoehorned in cutesy music number. But it is unfairly neglected. Anne Bancroft as a feminist action heroine is something. The end with her dressed as a geisha is both laughable and oddly striking.

Grizzly (1976) - It feels like a family mountain adventure movie, and not a good one, with shoehorned violence. All rather hopeless.

Prophecy (1979) - Flawed, slow and dull, Grizzly with a bigger budget and an ecological element. Robert Foxworth tries his best, Talia Shire looks like Anita Harris, Armand Assante is grossly miscast, and the difference between studio and British Columbia is obvious. The baby mutant bear is a neat visual, but it's so forgettable otherwise.

Orca (-1977) -  Rewatching it. How stupid is Richard Harris' character? The character does seem authentically Irish (most of which I imagine was down to Harris), but he's such an eejit, that it becomes tiring. It's not that he's a top o'the morning stereotype. No, he is exactly the sort of person you avoid in a village, because you know they'll put you in trouble and always blame you. He's like a proto-Rubberbandit, Sillybilly Boathouse. How does he think he has a chance with Charlotte Rampling? Some of the lighting is very gialloesque. The soundtrack is great, but it just needed a rewrite. It's slightly too serious for its own good.

Rewatching Westworld (1973). I've never really felt for it. I always found it kind of cold. The Medievalworld and Romanworld I slightly prefer, but they feel chintzy. I know it's an amusement park, but it feels too chintzy. Even the Medieval robots have American accents. James Brolin is annoying.

History of the World Part 1 (1980) - The prehistory stuff is nonsense. The Roman stuff and the Spanish Inquisition musical number are great, the French Revolution is not good until Milligan turns up being silly. The Universal Little Europe lot is especially obvious in the Roman scenes. There's 19th century-style buildings in Rome! Still, Jews  in space.

Fiend (1980) - Typical Don Dohler dreck, bar the interesting Readybrek glow effect.

Dark Echo  (1977) - Eastern European horror with Karin Dor and Department S' Joel Fabiani. Dreary, with synth-soundtracked ski footage shoehorned in, as are a skull-faced captain, gypsies, fishing, Satanists and yet it is still boring. 

 Screams Of A Winter Night (1979) - Was this shot on local TV news videotape?   

Night of Bloody Horror (1970) - Typical amateurish US independent horror dreck.

Dr. Heckel and Mr. Hype (1980) - Oliver Reed in bemusing Cannon answer to Love at First Bite, about a monstrous Noo Yawk-accented scientist who turns into an English gent. Prolific small actor Tony Cox makes an early appearance as a leather-jacketed pint-sized tough.  Jackie Coogan is a cop.  Being a Cannon film, Yehuda Efroni is shoehorned in.

Shadow of Chikara (1977) - Joe Don Baker in a rather dull western posing as a horror.

The Pack (1977) - Joe Don Baker versus dogs. Better than the same year's David McCallum film Dogs.  Features a creepy treehouse. Still ridiculous, and rather dull, and saddled with uninteresting characters, but attractively shot. Directed by Robert Clouse, who seems lost.  The end shot of slow-motion canines climbing stairs and getting burnt alive almost as ridiculous as anything in Night of the Lepus. Somehow, they kill the other dogs but merely tie up their own dog, which is cured unlike the others. Soppy end theme.

Nocturna - Granddaughter Of Dracula (1979) - A strange oddity, "Armenian"/French-Vietnamese belly dancer Nai Bonet's vanity project casts herself as John Carradine's reluctant grandchild. She is terrible, moreso than bland, supposedly straight but  very camp gay Aussie stud Anthony Hamilton, somewhere between Joe Longthorne and Barry McKenzie. Yvonne De Carlo plays Dracula's ex-wife, which means she's technically Lily Munster's mother.  Sponsored by Sunkist, ironically. Gloria Gaynor allegedly conned into doing the theme. The Bonet family crop up in the credits a lot, alongside future director Robert Harmon and  future composer Joel "son of Jerry" Goldsmith.

Frankenstein all'italiana (1975) - Comedy with Aldo Maccione. Ropey, has a curly-haired doctor and a monster makeup not unlike Peter Boyle's, showing an attempt to remake Brooks. An American flag shoehorned in raises a single laugh, as does an out-of-tone Hallelujah. But these aren't intentional titters.

Man With the Transplanted Brain (1972) - Dry, forgettable French ripoff of Seconds with Jean Pierre Aumont.

Don't Look In The Basement (1973) - All the worse, all the more stupid considering it's set in a mental home.

Blood And Lace (1971) - Gloria Grahame in forgettable, bloody proto-slasher set in a home for the world's oldest orphans.

The Love Butcher (1975) - Quite odd split-personality horror, attractively shot, but so ridiculous and inept in other respects, it resembles a vaudeville giallo.

The Hearse (1980) - Bar one dream sequence, this solo vehicle for Trish Van Devere fails to deliver.

Sammy Going South (1963) - It's beautifully shot, the kid's a bit hard taking used to, the story takes it time, Edward G. Robinson doesn't appear until over an hour in, though he is great, Harry H. Corbett's basically doing Air Ace Harold Steptoe.  Though the whole hunting subtext is a little unfortunate.  It's a mess. And the story of a boy and his newfound father figure is kind of lost within.  But it's a beautiful mess.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

2 TV - 37 + 8 refs = 45 - Red Dawn, Creeping Flesh, Kusturica, King Kong, La Boum, Lassiter, Amityville, late 80s British genre stufff, Leo the Last, Weird Mob, Caprice, Tower of Evil, The Big Fix, UHF, Happy Mother's Day, Love George, UHF, Separate Tables, Bergman, Cape Fear, Tarzan, Danny Kaye, Road Games, Road to... The Fan, Eyewitness, Madigan, Eye of the Cat, major studio thrillers

St. Helen's (-1981) - A made for  HBO (with some odd money from the BBC) disaster movie starring Art Carney with a bombastic score by Goblin coupled with a bunch of country songs with lyrics "Here's to you, Harry Truman, you show the pride of a great human!". Tim Thomerson has a moustache. Endlessly padded, the final ten minutes are all second unit with voiceover. It's bland as hell. Features dialogue like "you know the bulge is growing".

The Big Freeze (-1993) - Bob Hoskins, Eric Sykes, Donald Pleasence, John Mills, Spike Milligan as Hitler in some Finnish coproduction that feels like an episode of Chucklevision.  Bland. Peter Skellern cameos.

The Love Child (1988) - Peter Capaldi does his godawful Cockney accent, in a insubstantial play.

The Creeping Flesh (1973) - One of the last Lee/Cushing teamups. From Tigon, sadly it's a mess. It's basically a serious version of the Oddbod subplot from Carry On Screaming with bits from Horror Express and a Hands of the Ripper-type female antagonist. Nothing really fits. It's slow, and doesn't quite make sense. Like The Asphyx (1972), a botched attempt at doing a tragedy, when it is otherwise so silly.

Red Dawn (1984) - It's a mess. Milius adds some intelligence, but bar Swayze, the cast are interchangeable. Nice to see Vladek Sheybal turn up. It kind of halts. It's a good half hour too long. A good cast is wasted in small roles.

Black Cat, White Cat (1998) - Emir Kusturica makes the same film again. Features Yugoslavian Colin Blakely (with hair curlers) and Jimmy Nail. Casablanca refs. Same tacky quirkiness.

King Kong vs Godzilla (1962) - Padded out, apart from a few accidentally comical bits - mainly the smoking, brownfaced Japanese Skull Island natives and the impressive squid attack, typical Toho nonsense.

The Amityville Horror (1979) - It's hokey as hell, hard to follow, very TV movie-like, Margot Kidder even though she is playing the mum of three kids is put in very jail bait-y outfits and pigtails, it's overlong, it's almost saved by Rod Steiger's over-acting. And of course it's all based on a lie.

La Boum (1980) - Syrupy. soundtracked by Vladimir Cosma. Baby Sophie Marceau in a sort of fully French Little Romance. A BIT PROBLEMATIC. With a voyeuristic nana. The mother works as an artist for Pif comics (a French comic that included such characters as Corto Maltese and the previously covered-on-here Docteur Justice).It just goes on and on. Now, just want to see teen Marceau as her character from The World Is Not Enough, Star Cops-era David Calder as her henpecked da trying to handle his terrorist teen kid, and "Bobby Carlyle", as he was in The Bill.

Lassiter (1984) - Tom Selleck, Bob Hoskins, Warren Clarke in very televisual Golden Harvest wartime heist caper. A bit of a Nutty Hijack. Begins with Harry Towb as some sort of Cockney-American-Jew bedding Belinda Mayne, who gets promptly sexually asaulted/pickpocketed by our hero. Jane Seymour appears in her second British-based heist movie with a moustachioed American lead.  Nicholas Bond-Owen pops up somewhere.

Electric Dreams (1984) - Bland, MTV-influenced romcom, faux-American setting hence the likes of Don Fellows, Miriam Margolyes and Patsy Smart. Produced by Virgin.Steve Barron directs.

Forbidden Sun (1989) - Steve Barron's mum and Robin Hardy's Greek minotaur-ish nonsense.

Perfect Murder (1988) - Stellan Skarsgard and Naseeruddin Shah in a tonally all over the place, blandly put together Merchant-Ivory action thriller. Madhur Jaffrey costars.

Consuming Passions (1988) - Palin/Jones anthology play remade for TV.  It has the feeling of an ad. Weird seeing a tarted up Prunella Scales as the secretary of Freddie Jones, Tyler Butterworth trying to be like his father. The trouble is the chocolates look cheap, the plot is far-fetched beyond belief (wouldn't there be cloth in the sweets?) Clearly padded beyond belief. The bits with Vanessa Redgrave are sub-Confessions. Everything's a little too broad. Redgrave is godawful. There is no real call for her character to be there. Pryce is a little too OTT.

Dream Lover (1986) - Depressing dream-thriller with Kristy McNichol.

The Grotesque (1995) - Alan Bates and Mr. Sting pop up in baffling old dark house thriller. Lost in whimsy.

Leo the Last (1970) - Boorman tries to make a Red Triangle film, erotic surrealist shite. Ram John Holder turns up.  Elements of the Barry McKenzie film and Bed Sitting Room.

They're A Weird Mob  (1966) - Michael Powell-directed Australian comedy.  Not funny. Lead Walter Chiari is a vacuum. Cast includes John Meillon, Chips Rafferty, Anne "Helen Daniels" Haddy and Skippy stars Ed Devereaux and Tony Bonner.

The Trygon Factor(1966) - Stewart Granger and Susan Hampshire in Avengers-ish krimi. Due to the heavy Brit content and director Cyril Frankel, an Avengers/ITC vet, there's a definite ITV on-film adventure series vibe, rather than a German vibe.

Caprice (1967) - Doris Day is mutton dressed up as lamb in this spy vehicle. Richard Harris plays an eejit in Backlot Paris, with a hairstyle that makes him look like his fellow Bull, Niall Toibin. Dated, sexist mod nonsense. Features Batman product placement. Edward Mulhare plays the toff boss/secret big bad, his sidekick/cover being chemist Ray Walston, who it turns out is a transvestite who dresses up like Old Mother Riley, and was in love with Day's dad. Because trans = murderous psychopath.

Tower of Evil (1972) - All-ageing star horror. Robin Askwith does American. Resembles an ITC TV series with blood and nudity. Derek Fowlds does Roddy McDowall. It's an 80s slasher but made in the style of the Persuaders. A mess, especially with the revelation it is some sort of Lovecraftian cult.

Tried watching 1989's The Tall Guy and 1992's The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big Fish - both bland, post-A Fish Called Wanda farces with Jeff Goldblum. Couldn't make it quite through either.

The Card (1952 - B/W) - Typical 1950s period comedy. Alec Guinness looking freakishly youthful.

Drop Dead Darling/Arrivederci, Baby (1966) - Forgettable Bluebeard-goes-mod comedy with Tony Curtis. Tony Curtis plays himself as a child, a wife-killer.  Noel Purcell turns up. Warren Mitchell AND Lionel Jeffries.

The Big Fix (1978) - Tonally all over the place Richard Deyfuss movie. Universal add a TV movie quality offset by Jeremy Kagan's Altmanesque New Hollywood aspirations. It doesn't know if it is a comedy, a relationships drama or a mystery.

Happy Mother's Day, Love George (1973) - Ron Howard mopes about Nova Scotia/New England in bland TVM-like thriller with Patricia Neal and her real life daughter Tessa Dahl. Gets quite bloody, as Dahl stalks about in a school uniform.  Cloris Leachman pops up.  Bobby Darin pops up, of all people (sadly not played by Kevin Spacey pretending to be a teenager in a bad wig, but you can't have everything...)

UHF (1989) - It feels firmly in the Ernest/Peewee Herman mould, with Weird Al's lead in a similar role, though he isn't called Weird Al. Caught between this and a Kentucky Fried Movie-type thing. Gormless sidekick Trinidad Silva,who died during filming reminds me of Olivier, in his mannerisms.  Some gems - the Dire Strait/Beverly Hillbillies parody, but it's hit and miss like every anthology. Maybe it is because I am Irish, and the UHF scene seems exotic, but the more filmic parodies seem to work better.

Separate Tables (1958 - B/W) - Not my sort of film. It's well-made and well-acted, but it's like a noir Fawlty Towers without the jokes. Lancaster's accent is odd. Plus Niven doesn't look like Niven.

The Serpent's Egg (1977) - Bergman does concentration camp sexploitation. It feels sleazy. It feels dirty. The 20s setting feels more like Nazi Germany. Dino de Laurentiis' involvement makes it into a pure exploitative nonsense.

Cape Fear (1962 - B/W) - I'm sorry, but I realise this kind of US-based thriller or noir just doesn't appeal.

Tarzan And His Mate (1934 - B/W)/Tarzan Finds A Son (1939 - B/W) - I'm not a Tarzan fan. Weissmuller's idiotic galute is a travesty of Burroughs' intelligent he-man. There is some fun stuntwork, but it's too hoary, plus it takes ages for Tarzan to appear. And Maureen O'Sullivan leaping about screaming - she does sound like her awful daughter, but more of a West Brit. Some obvious doubling for Cheeta.

Just been watching Danny Kaye's Knock On Wood (1954 - where he suddenly transmogrifies into Jon Pertwee in long shots when the film stock changes and we go from the lot to real locations that look nothing like the master shot). Kind of a hard tonal thing. Everything's serious, then he jokes, then he does a comedy musical number, then things serious again. If everything was a little OTT, it'd work. On The Double (1961) has 1950s cars in WW2-era London, and is a bit cliched. I'm not a fan of military humour. Margaret Rutherford does a strained Scottish accent. Diana Dors is a baddie. It gets a bit silly. Though the Dietrich-drag Nazi cabaret artiste bit clearly influenced the Simpsons' backstory for Grampa. It's a Sunday afternoon timewaster, but it's a bit slapdash.

Road to Morocco (1942 - B/W) - I'm not a big fan of Crosby and Hope. 30s/40s musical numbers bore me. The patter gets tired quickly. I like the more off the wall stuff, all the stuff with the camel, and the slapstick, but its not quite my thing.  The talking camels are fun. And so is the ending.

Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965) - Rather simplistic and childish EC comics-type stories told in a jokey, insubstantial fashion. The odd LE-centred cast including Roy Castle, Alan Freeman and Kenny Lynch help with this. A tone more suited to It's Trad, Dad than flesh-creeping terror. Includes a poster for itself. The voodoo subplot with Roy Castle is nonsense, just a few musical numbers held together by a vague revenge subplot.  The whole chimp artist in dungarees joke is a bit ridiculous, too. Amicus have not quite gotten into the horror groove yet. Torture Garden (1967) is more successful.

The Fan (-1981) - Sub-De Palma larks. Michael Biehn is obsessed with Lauren Bacall, and tries to kill her. James Garner is trying to get back with her. Score by Pino Donaggio, but the in-film musical is written by Marvin Hamlisch and Sir Tim Rice. Dick Bush is the DOP. It feels lusher than other horrors of the period. Soundtrack also weirdly features the Specials and the Selecter. Yes, Biehn is a Two Tone fan. Features a Strawbs album in a shop. Biehn does very good "shocked face", as Pauline Black sings. It does capture the upper-crust New York, and such sights as casual-fonted shopfronts. Kt then gets increasingly sleazy, and unlikeably De Palma-ish. Features Biehn cruising in a gay bar. Basically, this is the dark side of stanning.  Then, other sides, it is very classy and romantic. It's a mess. And a not very good one. The musical looks terrible. It's all disco catsuits and rhinestones, and backdrops that belong in a made for TV variety special and not actual sets. It doesn't seem to have anything resembling a plot. The influence of producer Robert Stigwood is abundant.

Eyewitness (1981) - Bland neo-noir thriller with William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver. Not even Christopher Plummer and young Morgan Freeman, when he was still America's Derek Griffiths lighten this up. The only weird thing about is its obsession with horse stunts.

Madigan (1968)- Despite Richard Widmark and Henry Fonda, this New York-set thriller feels like a TV movie. It did spawn a series with Widmark, even though he dies at the end. But hey, it didn't stop George Dixon, did it?  Maybe, Madigan, like Dixon went to the police-heaven of Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes. After all, in the TV series, he is partnered with George Cole. Michael Dunn pops up. It's offputtingly cheap.  The locations don't feel authentic. Dozens of similar films of this era, mostly with George Peppard, i.e. 1969's Pendulum.

Eye Of The Cat (1968) - Bland, stretched Universal backlot horror. Again televisual. Clemensesque nonsense involving Eleanor Parker's lungs and Laurence Naismith as her doctor. Sitar-plucking hippies thrown in to keep it fresh. The cat hardly appears.

Doppio Delitto (1977) - Never realised that Italian comedy vet Steno (who might be their Gerald Thomas) directed a giallo starring Marcello Mastroianni, Ursula Andress and Peter Ustinov. Indeed, the funky Riz Ortolani soundtrack and upbeat opening feel more suited to a comedy. It feels rather too light and breezy and inconsequential. No wonder it's forgotten.

American Dreamer (1984) - Another flop Tom Conti comedy. Maybe, as I watched it on a French VHS, but deathly dull.

Also tried the Getaway, but half an hour in, gave up. Peckinpah is so cold and alienating.

Sacco and Vanzetti (1971) - Italian docudrama set in the US, shot in Ireland, interesting soundtrack, not my kind of film, despite Cyril and Milo turning up. And Edward Jewesbury from Crown Court, in a courtroom.

Roadgames (1981) - I'd probably like this film a lot less if it were American. The Australian setting is that little more relatable and unusual. It's got a great lead in Stacy Keach, a daft sense of humour ("there's a man with balls"), even though it is not a comedy per se. It's a sterling mix of horror and thriller and adventure (the soundtrack by Brian May going towards the latter). The killer's modus operandi is grotesque, in a good way. Incredibly tricksy (the whole cliff-trick), though it does slow a bit once Jamie Lee Curtis appears. But the climax is great (though a little murky at shot, needed more neon in the streets). Even though the resolution is a lot left to be desired. But the first half is great. And the ending...

Comfort and Joy (1984) - It took me a long time to get this Bill Forsyth film. Because it takes a while to get going, but ultimately this tale of DJ Bill Paterson fighting rival ice cream families is worth it. Especially once you've been to Glasgow.

Hit List (1989) - Bill Lustig-directed  Mafia boredom with Lance Henriksen, a Blessed-esque Rip Torn and a drunk Jan Michael Vincent. Realised I'm not quite the right man for 80s/90s action films.

City of Blood (1987) - South African murder mystery, sixtysomething lead Joe Stewardson has a younger girlfriend. Quite bland, even though the performances are all good. John Carson plays the safari-suited Prime Minister, having recently moved to South Africa at this point. Interesting but rather too arty for its own good.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

48/50 (51 inc. Moon44) 152 for august - Shake Hands, Dream Demon, Spencer and Hill, the Seducers, Where's Poppa, Nighthawks, Warlock, I Vampiri, I Bury The Living, Lewton, Raimi, gore, The Bible, Neil Simon, Solar Crisis, Mountains of the Moon, Castle, gialli, A Little Romance, DTV action, Perfect Crime, Goodbye Gemini, Hammer, Brewster, Ritz, Night Visitor, Delicatessen, Man who would be King

Shake Hands with the Devil (1959  - B/W) - An all-star cast - Jimmy Cagney as an Oirish priest, Glynis Johns as an Irish barmaid, Cyril Cusack, Richard Harris, William Hartnell as a Sergeant, Ray McAnally, Niall MacGinnis, Noel Purcell, Allan Cuthbertson as a colonel and Robert "M" Brown his sidekick, Harry H. Corbett and special guest stars Michael Redgrave and Sybil Thorndike, and my grandad somewhere. Attractively made, but this sort of "Iyerish" IRA-rallying nonsense makes me cringe.

Dream Demon (1988) - 80s British horror blandness. Jemma Redgrave as a Sloane named Diana, haunted by journalists Jimmy Nail and Timothy Spall, as it looms to her wedding day  to Mark Greenstreet (in a rare lead). Kathleen "Pepper Ann" Wilhoite plays an American, who may be her sister. Weird flashbacks have Annabelle Lanyon (who is older than Wilhoite and looks it) as the younger Jenny, although this may be to add some weird uncanny valley thing.

The Changeling (1980) - It's better made than a lot of other slow horrors, and the Canadian locations and soundtrack add atmosphere. It does everything right that Ghost Story (also with Melvyn Douglas) did wrong. At least it eventually moves, unlike the Legend of Hell House - which looks into itself far too much. The cast is great, and the plot relatively interests.  Combining the elements of haunted house and conspiracy thriller helps. But it is very slow. It might have worked better at 75 minutes, in a TV movie format. And Trish Van Devere is kind of cold. It's the haunted house action that doesn't grab me.

Mr. Billion (1977) - Hollywood's attempt to do something with Terence Hill. Directed by ex-Corman hand Jonathan Kaplan,  has a weird semi-Hal Needham vibe (Jackie Gleason plays the antagonist) and a weird style that isn't quite Hollywood. It's as if a bunch of Americans are trying to recreate a strange Italian comedy.  It feels at times like a duff Italian ripoff of Silver Streak. There's even the weird tonal shifts  common in such Italian romps. There's a long, sweeping scene of a town being destroyed.  It doesn't know what  it is, and plus Hill and Valerie Perrine have no chemistry.

All The Way Boys (1972) - Cyril Cusack plus Spencer and Hill. One of the jungle films they did, as opposed to the Miami ones. 

I'm For the Hippopotamus (1979) - Another  rewatch of another Spencer/Hill thingy. Featuring SABC Newsreader Hugh Rouse, boxer Joe Bugner and Wakefield-born wrestler Malcolm "King Kong" Kirk (whose death in a bout against Big Daddy arguably ended the Golden Age of wrestling in the British Isles), more mystifying hi-jinks.

Go For It (1983) - More of the same tired stuff from Spencer and Hill.  Another influence on Miami Twice. At the end, it becomes a Bond knockoff,. David Huddleston is the boss.

The Seducers (1969) - Europiffle with the music from the last ep of the Prisoner.

Where's Poppa (1970) - Found George Segal rather hateful. Like a bad US version of Sorry!

Nighthawks (1981) - Previously saw this. It has an international element that appeals. Rutger Hauer, in a beard buys some Yardley Gold, gazes at an ad for Daily Mirror, then uses a bomb in a backpack to blow up a chemist's. It feels almost like an Italian film, with the Keith Emerson score and the international scale. Robert Pugh plays the IRA snitch, with a convincing Norn Iron twang. Third-string Carry On-er Brian Osborne and Frederick Treves play the Yard.  At least, it puts you in the place unlike the French Connection. Joe Spinell looks weird when clean-shaven. Hauer is great. The chase through the underground construction works is epic. The subway scene is always how I imagined the Taking of Pelham One Two Three to be.  It moves, and has a good cast.

I Vampiri (1957 - B/W) - Dull, tedious scenes enlivened by almost neo-realistic  photography.

I Bury The Living (1958 - B/W) - Apart from Theodore Bikel as a Scot, this didn't do it for me. I suppose the reason people like it is it is a noir, really.

Warlock (1989) - The most nothingy horror-adventure ever made. Styleless, miscast and forgettable as amnesia.

Cat People (1942 - B/W) - I'm sorry, but I'm with John Carpenter. Lewton is overrated. They're too much style over substance. And hardly anything happens. The sequel, Curse of the Cat People (1944 - B/W) is even odder - it's actually a sort of Cocteauesque family drama.

Perfect Crime (1978) - Begins with the assassination of some British toff (Kenneth Benda - uncredited), Joseph Cotten, Adolfo Celi, Anthony Steel and Alida Valli star in a British-set attempt to cash in on Agatha Christie. Features a lot of Soho sleaze, a fox hunt, but it is a mess. Features Dagger of the Mind-type intercutting between 70s London grime to what is clearly a Roman quarry. Has that thing of having Union Jack tourist tat as set dressing.   

Dominique (1978) - Like a shite giallo, but British would be a vulgar but accurate description of this all-star post-Amicus vehicle. The likes of Ron Moody have nohing to do but get slaughtered. Even Leslie Dwyer gets more to do. Judy Geeson looks bald. Needless to say, Jenny Agutter did it. David Tomlinson looks very old. Michael Jayston's seen all this before (in Craze (1974)) Some bits look a bit sub-Argento, but it's cobblers.

St. Ives (1976) - Bronson in rather flat all-star thriller directed by J. Lee Thompson. Feels like a TVM down to the credit - "guest star Maximillian Schell".  Almost what if Bronson was Columbo. John Houseman looks like Mick Miller, in a distracting ginger toup.

Day of the Dead (1985)  - It feels bland. It feels grey. Romero makes the same film again. At least it has a good Irish character (Jarlath Conroy, who I have since discovered is the uncle of Ruaidhri Conroy, Tayto from Into the West)

The Evil Dead (1981) - Never quite been a fan. It's a tremendous amount of effort and work for a nineteen year old. It's very professional, but it still feels like a student film. And I find it rather stupid. Evil Dead 2  (1987) is more of the same stupidity, but done more professionally. I like the set design and the mattes, but not the film itself. And the ending is neat.

Body Melt (1993) - Unlikeable Aussie horror, a deliberate cult film that fails -  trying to go for a Peter Jackson, but lacking the humour and style of Sir Pete.  Ian Smith, in between his break as Harold from Neighbours relishes his role as a mad scientist,  but for most of the runtime, it resembles an erotic thriller, and once it gets more colourful, it's too late.

Crimewave (1985) - It's so mannered, so deliberately manic and cartoonish that it becomes annoying. Ed Pressman isn't very good, in an acting role. The Coens' films never do it for me. The performances feel a bit forced, a bit too heightened a la the Avengers. I always like the effects and models in Raimi-involved projects, e.g. the Hudsucker Proxy, but never quite the actual films, which annoy.

The Body Snatcher (1945 - B/W) - An unconvincing Scotland that it takes one out of the story - the trouble with noir is what began as a novelty becomes a norm, and the darkness just becomes irritating rather than atmospheric.

Mountains of the Moon (1990) - It's just a bit of a mess. I can see why it flopped. It looks epic, butthere's the vague air of a TV period drama. With the likes of Peter Vaughan and John Savident and a nice turn from Richard Caldicot  popping up. Bergin feels anachronistic, like your da's mate who has suddenly found himself lost in a Masterpiece Theatre-type thing when he really should be on Winning Streak. Plus a nude Fiona Shaw is akin to seeing your mum naked. I find these sort of epics laborious. I like a bit of pulp served  on the side.

Solar Crisis (1990)  - Heston and Palance amongst the stars in one of those expensive but boring international coproductions about space that went straight to video. And I didn't even make it through 1990's "Moon 44".

The Bible (1966) - Had to watch much of this on fast-forward, it is so slow, there is not much dialogue, it is confusing, stars appear for seconds, while John Huston gives himself the best bit as Noah. Nice Italian design, being a DDL production, especially the ark interior, but it's dull mostly.

RIP Neil Simon. Bar Murder by Death, never much of a fan. Watched the Out of Towners (1970). Sandy Dennis is both annoying and yet unable to take your eyes off. This sort of New York manic farce never quite gels with me. I don't know what it is. I find that sort of relationship based comedy just doesn't appeal.

Nightforce (1987) - Linda Blair and Chad McQueen are elderly teens brought together by colonel Richard Lynch to fight South Americans, while Cameron Mitchell shows up as a concerned senator dad. Thinking of doing a history of the direct to video industry, but it better not be critical. Most of the films are dreck. Even though Lynch is good, as always.

Fatal Skies (1990) - More DTV dreck, despite Timothy Leary as the villain. Made in the part of the US where the 70s never quite ended.

Death Merchant (1991) - Nu-AIP/Dancebuy action shite about an ancient Egyptian prophecy and nuclear war. Shot on video, or at least edited on tape.

A Little Romance (1979) - A attractive but somewhat alienating picture-postcard culture-clash romance with the novelty it is portrayed by kids. Diane Lane shines, while the French lad who plays Daniel comes across as quite unlikeable and a bit sinister. Yes, I get he's a film-head, but he seems a bit of a creep. Olivier's camp European matchmaker is a bit overplayed at times. His accent changes from scene to scene. It is attractively shot, but it feels kind of too sentimental. Towards the end, it picks up. But it kicks in too late. It helps if you are charmed by it.  The end is moving, but the film is kind of "there". It's a pleasing Sunday afternoon thing. But it's charming in a very touristy way. It needed perhaps more than charm. Lips, the Dandelion Trail and Bloody Tuesday all sound like convincing titles. Dexter Fletcher's brother Graham (whose credits range from Sid and Nancy and Bugsy Malone to the CFF and Grange Hill) plays the gangster-suited  sidekick of Daniel, who seems much nicer. Actually, if Dexter Fletcher had played Daniel...

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972) - Rubbish per usual dubbing track, nice Nicolai score,  Barbara Bouchet, Sybil Danning and Chateauvallon's Ugo Pagliai are the leads. The van-murder is pleasingly ridiculous. The killer looks like Tony Hancock's statue in the Rebel. But it's a load of bollocks.

Goodbye Gemini (1970) - It's odd, like Alexis Kanner's American-Irish accent (based surely on a showband performer of the era). I find Judy Geeson and Martin Potter kind of annoying in their perkiness. Hippy nonsense. Sir Michael Redgrave pops up (how did they get him into this shite?), with Freddie Jones as a fellow homosexual.  Hedonistic hippies in burqas with a teddy bear do not make a good film.  Barely finished.

Phantom of the Opera (1962) - Possibly Hammer's best film. Certainly their best-looking, most visually captivating production. It doesn't feel as stagnant as some of their other productions, especially from the 60s onwards. The sets are marvellous, especially the lair. It feels a lived in world, not the vague Mittel-Europa Hammer usually deals in.

The Vampire Lovers (1970) - When Hammer began to get terminally camp. Ingrid Pitt doesn't look like a virgin. She kind of looks like Marsha from Spaced, initially.  The figure of the Man in Black is a bit ridiculous. I am sort of reminded of the story of Frederic Bourdin, a French con artist/"unloved child"  who often took the identity of missing teenage boys, despite being in his twenties/thirties, and looking like the lovechild of Gerard Depardieu and Richard Clayderman. The thing is, Douglas Wilmer is very good as the vampire hunter, but he and Cushing (the two Sherlocks) are barely in it, and instead we are left with Harvey Hall romancing Kate O'Mara, and it's basically filler around a bunch of sex scenes. I think its reputation lies in nostalgia. It tries to pretend to be respectful. Its sequels don't give a toss.

Rewatched The Frozen Dead (-1966), which is very ropey and cheap, but the whole frozen head twist speaking in a  child's voice is very creepy. But even she is cribbed from The Brain That Wouldn't Die.

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974) - It has a great atmosphere and an overqualified cast. (WTF is Bernard Lee doing playing a minute's worth of screentime as a mute?) Repeating many of the same ticks as earlier films. Dave Prowse as the Monster is interesting. But it might be my favourite of the Hammer Franks. Always disappointed that it wasn't about a demon wrestling with a Karloffian thing. And characters just slip in and out. You think John Stratton as the head of the asylum will play a big part, but he doesn't, even though he's quite good, though you do get the impression they wanted Freddie Jones, but realised he'd already been used.  It feels unfinished. And the whole "she can speak" thing is a bit out of nowhere. The model of the asylum is very ropey. The idea of the monster digging up its own grave is great. And the ending is a bit sitcom-pilot.

Delicatessen (1991) - Attractive animation-like imagery hide an ugly film that's hard to follow. Comparisons with a certain black lesbian are unavoidable. Nice to see Howard Vernon. I want to like it, but Caro and Jeunet either go full "annoyingly quirky" or "arty nonsense". It's like Brazil. Lovely set design, but what's hapenning in the surroundings is gash.

The Night Visitor (1971) -Slow, cold psychothriller with Max Von Sydow as an escaped lunatic.

Brewster McCloud (1970) - It's typical Altman New Hollywood nonsense. Lots of countercultural nonsense surrounding the story of a boy who could fly. Like a Disney comedy script ended up with someone who wanted to make a point.     

The Ritz (1976) - Jack Weston and Jerry Stiller fight over each other, as the former hides in a gay bathhouse that holds a Princess Margaret lookalike competition. Sexy young F. Murray Abraham (it's weird seeing him with a head of beautiful curls). It's not especially funny, but because it is made in the UK by Richard Lester, the various gays include the likes of Ben Aris, Peter Butterworth (as a couple) and an opera singing Ronnie Brody,it captivates. Treat Williams' schtick wears thin - that he's a straight man undercover who everyone presume is gay as his voice never broke (even though I empathise with him greatly). Adding to the fauxmerican atmosphere are songs on the soundtrack sung by a pre-Eurovision/"The Cheetah Likes My Beard" Colm Wilkinson (the songs actually like sound like that anthem of a big cat running from Letterfrack to Mallow). I did find it much more watchable than say a Neil Simon adaptation of the same era. Because it's from a different tradition. But it's a one joke premise.

The Skull (1965) - A most unmemorable film. The idea is so bare, and by Bloch, it feels like a 15 minute Night Gallery segment padded out with historical flashbacks.  Then, it feels like The Prisoner. Interesting that much of it convenes around a statue of Beelzebub.

13 Ghosts (1960 - B/W) - The sort of gee-whiz 1950s family schlock of William Castle I never quite get. Gimmicky. The ending makes no sense. It's very US sitcom.

House on Haunted Hill (1959 - B/W) - The prime Castle picture, but really a prime jokey kids' filler. When you get older, you realise it's not much cop. Elisha Cook does his face.

The Tingler (1959 - B/W) - More Castle stuff with Vincent Price and Patricia Cutts, the first incarnation of Blanche Hunt on Coronation Street. Castle seemed to make the same film ten times. The Tingler itself is interesting, but it's an Outer Limits thing. There's a weird silent interlude. Castle's films are basically thrillrides.

Mr. Sardonicus (1961 - B/W) - Faux-Hammer from William Castle. Better than his more famous gimmickathons, but it's got that thing the Corman Poes have, of US actors who can't do gothic. Ronald Lewis, the hero who resembles a British David Hasselhoff was one of about forty actors to come out of Port Talbot. It feels very TV-ish, like an episode of Karloff's Thriller over-stretched. It feels outdated, even in 1961. Only the iconic grimace of Guy Rolfe's teutonic Baron and the McGuffin being a lottery ticket stick in the mind. Alongside the rigged gimmick. It's a slog.

  StraitJacket (1964 - B/W) - Hard to take seriously, even in a camp way. Tedious melodrama from Castle. Joan Crawford playing younger than her years. Camp nonsense. George Kennedy beheads a chicken. These gaslighting thrillers I tend to find cliched. Yes, it's a real problem, But it makes formulaic films.  The ending is ridiculous. How you get a mask made of your own mother?

The Man Who Would Be King (1975) - It's a great story, but I find it slightly too leisurely at times. It may work better in cinemas. The lack of an antagonist and real goal beyond colonialism also suffers. It may have need a good snip to become a jolly adventure, rather than something frustrated, between epic and adventure. It's too leisurely for its own good.

House of the Living Dead (1973) - Shirley Anne Field and Mark Burns in a South African gothic potboiler. Quite amateurish, and unfortunate (references to the "blackers", mondo-ish footage of a baboon being experimented on). Kind of like 1974's Ghost Story. Not very good.