Thursday, 11 April 2019


From Hell to Victory (1979) - A film which is a special kind of awful. One of two all-star war films made in 1979 by Umberto Lenzi, this may be the better one. That's not saying much. It looks more professional than Battle Force, though all the battle footage is from  the overlong Eagles Over London (1969, an epic but ramshackle production more in lieu with Commando comic than real life, a blitzed London where the Royal Festival Hall and the Post Office Tower have already been built), all the sequences of London being from there, with a few cut-in shots of George Hamilton in a fake-looking phone box. This has not only Hamilton, but George Pepper (sic) too, who plays "the American", while Hamilton does a sporadic French accent and looks silly. Astonishingly once shown on BBC1, as a big movie premiere. Also with Capucine, Sam Wanamaker, Lambert Wilson, Jean Pierre Cassel, Howard Vernon as the Nazi, Horst Bucholz, it's the story of five buddies who meet every year, only for them to be all on different sides. There's random cuts to incidents that don't make sense. Again with Italian war movies of the 60s (Eagles Over London and Operation Crossbow especially), there's that weird Eurospy-WW2 hybrid, where there's big Ken Adam-y sets, gadgets, and everything looks like the 60s. And in this case, it's the same, though a few 70s haircuts sneak in (though most of the crowd scenes are reused from Eagles over London, hence why all of London seems to be Hispanic and dressed like it is in 1969). Lenzi is credited as Hank Milestone. It does look better than the average Italian actioner. But Warner sem to have coproduced.  Rewatched it on the crappier Pegasus UK print. And there the original footage actually looks like it's from the 60s.

87 - horror, action - a load of films I got on dvd in a bulk buy...

The Golem (1920 - B/W) - Some silents create worlds. This is one.

Murder By The Clock (1931  -B/W) - Early Paramount suspense drudgery with Hopalong Cassidy.

Rewatched the 1935 She, and realised it's infinitely better than the Hammer versio
The Devil Bat (1940 - B/W) - Typical PRC schlock. Youtubed.

Mad Love (1935 - B/W) - Hmm, Lorre is at his best. But it's marred by a complicated plot, a strnge setting and too much MGM sentiment. Some attempt at Whale-ish eccentrics with the cockatoo-keeping old lady. Lorre in his disguise looks like a bald Ken Dodd.

The Devil Doll (1936 - B/W) - Strange kinda-horror, but moreso black comedy science fantasy, Lionel Barrymore dragging up as a criminal who turns his miniaturisation device into a doll shop and Maureen O'Sullivan in an unconvincing Paris. Very odd tone. Has no climax. Played up as a romance, again the MGM sentiment is Rehashed as the even less subtle Attack of the Puppet People (1956 - B/W). Youtubed in multiple parts.

Dr. Cyclops (1940) - Early colour SF from the King Kong boys, not unlike the Devil Doll, but with elements of jungle adventure. Mad scientist Albert Dekker forces a bunch of travellers to wear loincloths and shrinks them down. Colour and fun effects is really the only novelty. Somehow, I really wanted to see this as a small boy. David Thomson and Leslie Halliwell bigged it up. First horror film made in full three-strip Technicolor. Has a cat called Satanus.

The Black Cat (1941 - B/W) - Routine Universal old dark house grinder, notable only for having young Broderick Crawford as a goofball, and the appearance of a young Ladd named Alan...

Invisible Agent (1942 - B/W) - Dire propaganda piece from Universal. Not even Peter Lorre as an evil aristocratic Mr. Moto improves things. Ilona Massey reminds me of Helga from 'Allo 'Allo. Jon Hall is a plank. Silly.

The Strange Case of Doctor RX (1942 - B/W)  - Boring even on youtube, Universal quickie with Lionel Atwill that only becomes horror in the final minutes.  The worst kind of Universal 40s potboiler.

The Glass Key (1942 - B/W) - Tried another noir, and God noir is not for me. Brian Donlevy and Alan Ladd standing around in fedoras. Veronica Lake speaking typical noir dialogue. 40s LA doesn't really interest me in film, alas.

The Mask of Dimitrios (1944 - B/W)  - Clunky, uninvolving, confusing noir. How many times did Lorre and Greenstreet make the same film?

The Suspect (1944 - B/W) - Bluebeard-ish noir set in Edwardian London with Charles Laughton. More proof the Americans could never really do Victoriana/Edwardiana. Not as good as John Carradine's turn as Bluebeard, which I have warmed to slightly.

Brute Force (1947 - B/W) - I can see what makes it works, but prison movies and noir don't work for me. Nice set design, and it's weird seeing Hume Cronyn young, that familiar face devoid of wrinkles.

Mighty Joe Young (1949 - B/W) - Hmm, the stop motion work is superb as always, being early Harryhausen.

Three Cases of Murder (1954  - B/W) - Begins with Eamonn Andrews dressed as the Shadow, weird prefiiguring the credits of Orson Welles' Great Mysteries. And this is basically that. Three slightly above average anthology episodes including the latter with Welles as the UK Home Secretary who has an unconvincing death scene.  There should be more horror anthologies hosted by Irish TV stars. Ray D'Arcy's Rectal Dungeon of Dread, Daithi O'Se's Gaeltacht Grand Guignol, Marty Whelan's Wheel of Wonder.

The Giant Behemoth (1959 - B/W)  - Not worth it even for Jack McGowran and precious seconds of Willis O'Brien animation.

The Impersonator (1961 - B/W) - British B-feature about a homicidal panto dame. Not that great or suspenseful. Atmospheric, yes, but it's padded beyond belief. But, like 95 per cent of British features made between 1956 and 1976, it has Frank Thornton in it. Double billed with A Time to Kill (1955 - B/W) - Jack Watling and John Le Mesurier in a typical "fedoras in a rural house" British quickie.

The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962) - Typical Italian Euroschlock, glossy. YOUTUBED.

Experiment In Terror (1962 - B/W) - Silly, almost William Castle esque thriller from Blake Edwards. Has Ross Martin in disguise, per usual. Feels like the thrills are jokes played seriously.

The Comedy of Terrors (1964) - Typical AIP Hollywood froth.

The Castle of the Living Dead (1964 - B/W) - Some horror films are incredibly boring even at x60 speed. This proves that, despite Christopher Lee and Donald Sutherland in drag. On youtube.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) - Hmm, it sets out what it wants, but a slightly entertaining for 60s kids but utterly undemanding and not very interesting kids' special isn't going to date well. Apart from proving that the phrase "Santy" isn't an exclusively Irish thing.

Blood Bath (1965 - B/W) - Somewht atmospheric (nice noirish bits with men dressed in fancy dress wandering about) but mostly dreary Corman roustabout. Youtubed.

Rewatched That Man from Rio. It's just as bad as every other Eurospy film. Not even a genuinely daring lead in the charismatic Belmondo changes it.

Flashman (1967) - Typical colourful but kind of empty Italian superhero fare. Has scenes set at the Bank of Ireland. On youtube.

Project X (1968) - Sub-Star Trek psychedelia from William Castle. On youtube.

Night of the Bloody Apes (1969) - Odd, nonsensical Mexican wrestler movie and video nasty. Though better than the average Mexican knockabout. On youtube.

Dorian Gray (1970) - Dreadful sub-Franco Towers of London version with Helmut Berger going around bare-chested. Has an 1970 date on a presumably 1990s issue of Cinema X. Richard Todd has so much black dye in his hair it looks navy. Features a weird Italian view of the London seen in Goodbye Gemini. Filled half-with Ealing-ish eccentrics and the badly dubbed continental-looking socialites familiar from gialli of the era. The soundtrack is weak for this sort of thing. There is a random tramp. Time does not pass.
The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971) - Typical giallo fluff. Again with Berger.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) - Possibly the ideal way to do a serial-murder film for me. Make the victims character actors and kill them off in fun ways. The sort of film that made me a horror fan. I forget that actually Norman Jones as Peter Jeffrey's superior is one of the best performances in it (because Price is kind of wasted, he's little to do with his voice, and he just stands there imposing). It's the sort of class act that most of other AIP's films perhaps wanted to be, but were often let down by bad supporting actors, flimsy sets and being too silly. This is daft, but it is not overdone even in an Avengers manner. However, it does dawdle. Joseph Cotten's stuff feels shoehorned in. He doesn't feel like the protagonist in the way that Peter Jeffrey does, perhaps because Jeffrey is a more interesting character and it's not often you get him to have a kind of lead. The unicorn kill is astonishing in its editing.  If it were an American film, it'd be tacky. If it were a European film, it'd be either mired in meaningless psychedelia (the type that indeed filters Fuest's later the Final Programme or indeed AIP/Price's own Scream and Scream Again) or have a gurning detective as hero - thinks Louis DeFunes in Fantomas. It's the sort of film that could only be made in Britain, c.1970.

Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972) I do love. Maybe more. Because it moves, from the ridiculous serial-style recap to the sets. I realise that the horror films I like are the ones with lots of ideas, lots of knobbly bits. A focused, tight ghost story may not excite me like something with lots of layers, locations, character actors, kills, and humour and colour. Jeffrey is given star billing, above Hugh Griffith. Robert Quarry is alright, for what he has to do. He's suitably hammy. It's got lots of settings. Only recently realised the  ship's officer is John "Sid from LOTSW" Comer, who admittedly is wasted. But it is nice that he gets a line or two, unlike an absurdly wasted John Thaw. But it may be one of the more gorgeously shot horror films ever, shot by Oscar nominee Alex Thomson.

I love Theatre of Blood (1973), but that's the formula in a different, less pulp/fantasy-imbued milieu. Phibes is a supervillain. Lionheart isn't, or at least he's not the Bond villain-type technocrat Phibes is. He's human. He doesn't have the ability to build a secret crypt to the afterlife in the Valley of the Kings. He's a man who he is deluded, whose talent has been overshadowed by his eccentricities and delusions that have driven him to kill.

Assignment Terror (1970) - A typical messy Naschy film, a monster rally with a mummy, a Monster, a vampire, werewolf and some aliens headed by Michael Rennie. A typical Iberian mess.

Death Walks On High Heels (1971)  With an almost identical theme by Stelvio Cipriani to his work on the rubbish-but- far better Dublin giallo Iguana With The Tongue of Fire (1971 - Niall Toibin as a sinister doctor and Emmett Bergin's studly body). This has blackface modelling (was this a thing in the 70s on "the continent"? Amanda Lear did it in-character as Josephine Baker?) Frank Wolff, the American actor best known as mutton-chopped McBain in Once Upon A Time in the West always reminds me of Alan "Mr. Pat Phoenix" Browning. Why do so many of these films end with people leaving on boats/planes? This is nonsense, complete with Hispanic-looking attempts at the kind of eccentric Scotland Yard men seen in Death Line or Frenzy or the Dr. Phibes films. Youtubed.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) - Hmm, somewhat entrancing in its dreariness. It has an atmosphere. Produced by Lloyd Kaufman in the early years of Troma, but released by pre-Golan Cannon. Has an interesting cast, Patrick O'Neal, John Carradine and several Warhol favourites including Candy Darling and a pre-B movie stardom Mary Woronov. Had never seen  this, despite passing various cheap copies in run down video stores, and a friend always recommending it.

Lady Frankenstein (1972) - Bland, dreary Euro-bollocks set in a strange, supposedly English but clearly mittel European milieu. On youtube.

Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (1974) - A sort of sequel to the above. Slow but oddly entrancing Euro-monsterthon, which despite being a typical Italian gothic of the 70s, is decently shot and has a decent cast.

Psychomania (1972) - Always new delights to experience from this, terribly made but so joyous, i.e. "young" Beryl Reid's flashbacks with a huge black wig. Former RTE panto  star Mary Larkin is such  a world away from the rest of her RADA thug Please Sir-alike bikers. Her character name doesn't suit her. She's more a Deirdre or a Dympna, or an Eileen.  It is desperate, a badly thought idea - i.e. biker suicides as comedy sketches, but there is something so attractive about the wrongheaded-ness of the concept.

3  Days of the Condor (1975) - Better than the average conspiracier, but still a relative slog.

Black Snake (1973) - A peculiar curio from Russ Meyer, a mainly British cast - David Warbeck, Anouska Hempel, Percy Herbert, Thomas Baptiste, Anthony Sharp, in a well-produced but awkward mixture of Mandingo, Goodbye Uncle Tom and Keep It Up Downstairs. Youtubed.

And NowThe Screaming Starts (1973) - Confused attempt by Amicus to d period gothic.

The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974) - A rewatch. Alongside Horror Express (1972 - which I can't really say anymore than being brilliant and inventive), the one true masterpiece of Spanish horror in the 70s. The fact it is set in Northern England, a setting alien to British horror of the era, with Lyon's Maid ads and the Manchester Evening News being a plot point makes it even more wondrous. The fact that the Italians and Spanish managed to make a more British film than the British film industry often made is astounding. What makes it more enigmatic and mysterious is some of the bit parters? Who was the girl with Down's Syndrome? She wasn't imported from Italy, surely. Was she just a random girl they found in Sheffield?

The Spiral Staircase (1975) - A film so cheap, so televisual that you forget Christopher Plummer is the star. Bland attempt to recreate America in Britain. Hence Gayle Hunnicutt and Elaine Stritch. Jacqueline Bisset is hopeless. Youtubed.

Lord Shango (1975) - Odd melodrama, only horror-tinged. Almost closer to Ganja and Hess than Blacula. Marlene Clark seems to be the same age as her teenage daughter. Youtubed.

The Uncanny (1977) - Worthless but interesting and oddly engrossing Amicus spinoff where Peter Cushing tells Ray Milland that the world is controlled by cats - shot mostly in Canada. The final bit with Donald Pleasence as a Hollywood horror star (whose roles are portrayed by photos of his role as Blofeld, similar to how Jon Pertwee's horror career n the House that Dripped Blood is his Dr. Who stills) getting attacked by moggies is the best.

Devil's Express (1976) - Unusually solid production, but rather aimless kung fu/horror/blaxploitation hybrid. Youtubed.

Tentacles (1977) - Though endlessly padded, there are a few joys amongst it. The fat prosecutor from Midnight Express having a swim in the near-nuddy, kids getting ravaged by a squid at a Children's Film Foundation-style yacht race. John Huston trying to do it seriously, Henry Fonda phoning it in from his own house, Shelley Winters raising a son, and over-bombastic score from Stelvio Cipriani, from harspchicord terror music to a track that sounds almost too close to Van McCoy's The Shuffle, to the climax where the titular creature is defeated by Bo Hopkins and his Magical Friendly Pet Orcas. Youtubed.

Claws (1977) - Amateurish sub-Grizzly drivel notable only for being made in Alaska.

Ghosts That Still Walk (1977) - Ambitious but laughable ghost story about an old couple in a motorhome being stalked by ghosts, that also involves some weird psychic link with a young boy. Possibly shot on video.

The Island of Dr. Moreau (1978) - Maybe it is the excellent cast that makes this adaptation very likeable, despite the fact the beast-men are utterly ridiculous.

The Night, the Prowler (1978) - Surrealistic domestic absurdist horribleness from the director of Rocky Horror. Youtubed. But awful.

Hardcore (1979) - Another film I admired as a teen. I find the stuff in Michigan better, the porn industry stuff feels very OTT, very silly, with the character of Ratan beng this Manson-esque overlord.  The thing is Paul  Schrader positions this as this realistic drama, but it's George C. Scott and Peter Boyle going  almost Bronson on a cartoon torture cult who make snuff films. It's as much an exploitation film as the films it is about. And it feels very rushed. It dawdles on one thing, then quickly goes to the point, and then, "hey, my daughter's alive! Here she is!" and it ends. And none of the porn performers feel like real people, especially Big Dick Blaque.

The Exterminator (1980) - A brilliantly painted portrait of ate 70s/early 80s New York. Also watched director James Glickenhaus' McBain (1991), a much more rote action vehicle for Christopher Walken, that despite an interesting setting in Colombia, is confused by the very Vietnam atmosphere and Filipino locations.

Galaxy of Terror (1981) - I find this more interesting than Alien, even though the "Master"'s identity is so obvious because Ray Walston's voice and head shape are quite recognisable. But it is a terrible film that wastes promising ideas - Alien in a Star Wars milieu. On youtube.

The Orchard End Murder (1981) - A weird featurette from the days of British second feature shorts, set in the 60s, with Clive Mantle as a murderous, half-witted railway worker and Bill Wallis as a laughing gnome.  Shot in a lovely Children's BBC period drama film insert style.

Strange Behaviour (-1981) - An intriguing though not successful little film. With a strange atmospheric, an only sporadically appropriate but sometimes rather beautiful Tangerine Dream soundtrack, New Zealand authentically doubling for Illionois, and a decent cast (Louise Fletcher, Arthur Dignam, Michael Murphy, Charles Lane, Marc McClure predating his role in Pandemonium and a few local actors like Beryl Te Wiata, almost a double for her daughter Rima). There is one extraordinary sequence (the dance number), but overall it is a messy mix of mad science from the 50s and then contemporary slasher themes.  It feels a lot like Dead and Buried, in that you can tell humour was lost in the making of the film, though the film still has a pointedly happy ending.

The Aftermath (1982) - A valiant effort by one Steve Barkett, with the help of Ted V. Mikels to make a post apocalyptic epic. SF's answer to Rolf Harris, Forrest J. Ackerman appears as a curator. A Section III video nasty, bizarrely, because it's not a horror film. There's rapey violence, but it's a sci-fi adventure. It's padded, but it's watchable. It's got enthusiasm and is well-made, has nice effects,and is certainly above the typical no-budget post-apocalyptic actioner. And the ending is sweet. Barkett's own son plays his young charge. It's the sort of film one is glad to find. A good-natured, semi-amateur thing where people actually worked to make a decent film.

Banana Joe (1982) -More bafflement from Bud Spencer. SUB Herbie Goes Bananas scrapes.

Time Masters (1982) - Works significantly better in the French dub than the BBC/Ray Brooks English dub. Rene Laloux's masterpiece, mainly thanks to Moebius. French voices include Alain Cuny, pal of Picasso and lover of Emmanuelle.

Secret of NIMH (1982) - Significantly better than the Disney stuff of the era, but saddled with a confused plot. Interesting voice cast. Jacobi! Carradine! Baddeley!

Turkey Shoot (1982) - Like the above, a Tony Ginnane production, I can see why it appeals, but the lack of budget and that weird Australian desire to be Mid-Atlantic stifles its world building, and that is the key to every future film. And though it is fun, it is basically just a prison break film with gore and Most Dangerous Game touches. Which often needs nice locations. And this is just Australian farmland.

TAG The Assassination Game (1982) - Dreary, muddy Corman college ruckus with Linda Hamilton and Forest Whitaker in early roles. Youtubed.

The Terminator (1984) - Yes, I reviewed it. It's exactlhy what I always thought it to be. Blandly glossy, and 80s in that worst way. Overrated.

The Jar (1984) - Semi-amateur trash that slowly descends into a Christ metaphor, I think. Watched on youtube.

The Lost Empire (1984) - Despite some imagination and energy, a typical "tits and arse" fest from Jim Wynorski. Youtubed. Very Andy Sidaris.

Diesel (1985)- French apocalyptic nonsense with Richard Bohringer.
Terminus (1987) - French post apocalyptic epic of turgid awkwardness. Jurgen Prochnow is a sinister exec. There's a pink haired transvestite, Karen Allen drives a truck with Hollywood brat Gabriel Damon, while our Mad Max is pasty faced Johnny Hallyday, yes, the Gallic Cliff himself. Lots of foetuses. Weird organic-machinery imagery.

Monster In The Closet (1986) - I find monster movie spoofs always should feel more fun. This, of the 80s lot may be one of the best. For a Troma film, it has names - John Carradine, Donald Moffat, Henry Gibson, Stella Stevens, Claude Akins, pre-fame Fergie Black Eyed Peas and Paul Walker. For a Troma film, it has a good budget, a decent monster, and while there's a sort of "We want to be Joe Dante" vibe, it kind of works.
Better than Pandemonium (1982, despite a talented cast including a wasted pre-fame Phil Hartman, Tom Smothers as a Canuxploitation-spoofing Mountie), Wacko (1983) and Saturday the 14th  (1981-  Jeffrey Tambor playing a predatory sort in makeup - ha ha ha, huh?). Youtubed.

Something Wild (1986) - A bland, overstyled comedy/actioner.

Ga, Ga - Chwala bohaterom (1986) -  Polish space opera from Piotr Szulkin. Starring Jerzy Stuhr, Daniel Olbrychski and some people from Soupy Norman.  Possibly a sequel to Szulkin's War of the Worlds. In the same televisual satire area. Youtubed.

Programmed to Kill (1987) - Sandahl Bergman an unconvincingly blonde Palestinian in this Greek-set, California-made Terminator imitation. Like Monster in the Closet, features thirteen-year-old Paul Walker in an early role. Youtubed.

Remote Control (1988) - An interesting idea  (fake 50s b-movies sent out on VHS used to achieve an alien invasion, now easily thwarted by IMDB) cack-handedly achieved. Avoid. Youtubed.

Black Eagle (1988) - Boring Kosugi/Van Damme Bond-alike from Imperial.

Maniac Cop (1988) - Despite a Larry Cohen script, this feels like an uneasy hybrid between average 80s actioner and average 80s slasher.

Dr. Hackenstein (1988) - Phyllis Diller, and Anne and Logan Ramsey  star in this peculiar sub-Reanimator gore and sexcom that nevertheless weirdly has a period mittel Europe setting. Youtubed.

The Burbs (1989) - Some fun sequences and jokes, but it doesn't hold together.

Basket Case 3 - The Progeny (1989)- Interesting ideas fail to click.

Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge (1989) - Another proof that somehow horror in the 90s got bland. This is a dreary, glossy updating of the old story with a rubbish baseball-hatted Phantom. Youtubed.

Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991) - Starless but unusually glossy yet laughless Blood Feast redo. Youtubed.

Wicked City (1992) - Shot on video though expensive but noisy and unattractive Hong Kong anime adap about shape-shifting "raptors". Youtubed.

Dracula - Pages from a Virgin Diary (2002) - I admire the idea, but it's weird. I know Guy Maddin is weird. But it's dizzying, confusing, then again it is a ballet. I like the newsreel-y bits though.

murder by the clock supernatural gog double door hidden hand body disappears blood and roses television spy the girl from scotland yard black moon faywray face behnd the mask womaneater cry of the werewolf before i hang man they could not hang fog 1933   flesh and fantasy

Vigil Deathwatch Light Years Away Long Live Life Mavais Sang  The Apple Nelvanimation  Rock and Rule Norman Loves Rose Rough Cut River Runs Black Ace of Aces Prix Du Danger  Morfalous Dog Day  Epsion Leve Toi   Four Crowns   Wisely  Mad Max Thunderdome Runaway Tank The Fan  Crime Wave                                                 Carny Modern Romance Krull Dragonslayer Sword Sorcerer Kill Kill Again Being Hopscotch Target Magic Toyshop Never Too Young to Die Inferno Phenomena the Island mama dracula dracula 1992 Epic MELONIA Delta Space Mission Flesh Blood THREE OCOCK HIGH Curtains Julie Darling Nightmare Maker Dr. Dowell 2 Dead Zone The Brood Deadly Spawn Brainstorm   Trouble in Mind    The Lift Malevil   American Way                                        Mr Wrong Goodbye Porpkie Frog Dreaming Strange Behaviour Battletruck Death Warmed Up   Bidgood Peanut Butter Solution Great Land of Small   Dog that Stopped the War Eyes of Fire   Kings and Desperate Men Chud The Pit Eleent of Crime  ticket to heaven                     King Kong Lives Threshold Dressed to Kill Sphinx DefCon The Awakening  Teddy Bear Season of Monsters  Koas Les Sedecteurs Querelle Death Valley  Liquid Sky Forbidden Zone  londike Fever       Birdy Reds Ragtime Prizzi's Honor Hoffa Cannery Row Private Penjamin  Spasms Last Uniform Anguish Demons Zeder Mona Lisa Bloodtide  Next Kin Untouchables Yankee Zephyr

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Dracula (1979) - A missed opportunity

Watching John Badham's Dracula. The thing is the first fifteen minutes are excellent. I know the locations are Cornwall, but at least everyone is Northern. Janine Duvitski too, but then it goes all slushy. Langella has a presence. He's a solid, good choice for the role, but having him as a ballroom dancer is a bit, well, it belongs in Love at First Bite. AndKate Nelligan as Lucy seems too unlikeable, to the extent you want her bitten, and lovely Jan Francis left alone. Did they reverse the Lucy/Mina thing for a Psycho-type shock... Plus the thing is they make everyone useless in their attempts to fight Dracula. Yes, that worked in Love at First Bite, but Love at First Bite is a silly, fun comedy. And there it was endearing. Here, it is frustrating.  And there's bits of this, i.e.Trevor Eve's burning cross that feel like a comedy. There are things to like about it. Tony Haygarth's greasy Yorkshire Renfield may be the best serious take on the character. The sets are great, but the washing-out of the restoration just makes it more boring. Trevor Eve is distracting, because it's just Shoestring. He's not Harker. And as for Olivier, the trouble is you want Pleasence in the role. Apparently, he turned it down as he felt it was too Loomis-ish. But the thing is he is a more magnetic screen presence than doddery Dutch Larry.  Plus John Williams' score has been recycled.

The climax kind of works, and letting Dracula go is not unlike the sequel hooks Hammer did, but here it almost feels like we want Dracula to be the hero.  The reason why I'm angry is that they had the opportunity to make the best Dracula film ever. And they squandered it. Plus there are bits that feel a bit De Palma-esque. And don't get me started on that ridiculous Maurice Binder cartoon sex scene... At least it's better than Coppola. 

Friday, 29 March 2019

Drama - including stuff mainly I got in a bulk buy. 50

Dandy Dick (1935 - B/W) - Not one of Will Hay's best. The niche was not yet carved.
See also Those Were The Days (1934  - B/W) which features blackface and John Mills age 26 plaiyng 20 playing 15.

The Lady Eve (1941 - B/W) - Barbara Stanwyck clearly enjoys myself, but I never warm to Preston Sturges. Maybe because the world he stages his comedies in I never get interested in.

My Learned Friend (1943 - B/W) - It's interesting rather than funny. Will Hay is in a more serious role, it feels more like later Ealing films, both comedy and drama. Claude Hulbert is annoying. But there's two good setpieces - the panto scene and the BBC report/Big Ben scene.

Dick Barton - Special Agent (1948 - B/W) - Not very action-able Hammer spinoff from the radio show. Not very special. Dick Barton Strikes Back (1949 - B/W) - Jimmy O'Dea is in this somewhere. So Iwatched it on Patrick's Day. This is better, if only for the climax - having Sebastian Cabot (a less distinguished presence here than in his US years) turn Blackpool Tower into a conductor for a death ray. It is still quite a dowdy adventure. Dick Barton at Bay (1950 - B/W) is less good, despite young Macnee.

The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950 - B/W) - I've already mentioned my distaste for the St. Trinian's series. This is a sort of prototype for the series, made by Launder and Gilliatt, with Alastair Sim as the boys' school headmaster and thorn in the side to Margaret Rutherford's girls' school headmistress. It doesn't really work - the mix of genteel humour and schoolkid shambolics. Rutherford can be a bit overbearing at times.

O Henry's Full House (1952 - B/W) - All star sentiment, a US answer to the Somerset Maugham anthologies. Youtubed.

Five Fingers (1952 - B/W) - Youtubed but as much as I could. Somehow, I'm not excited by this noirish proto-Bond with James Mason giving good  mania, but maybe it's my headache. Spawned a TV series, that unusually for a US series, episodes of which were released individually as second features in Britain.

Blood Alley (1955) - Desperate John Wayne voyage of Hong Kong, has characters who are supposed to be Chinese but aren't even wearing enough makeup to convince as even yellowfaced.
Ditto The Sea Chase (1955) - where Wayne plays a Hitler-hating Nazi,despite fake London and Australia, the locations never register.

King of Kings (1961) - The biblical epic as western.

The Victors (1963 - B/W) - Shot in gorgeous black and white, but still a slog.  The sort of epic where Tutte Lemkow is billed over Alf Kjellin. Padded out with newsreels from the time that have little to do with the plot. Has both young Peter Fonda and Jim Mitchum in the era when they were interchangeable.

Spencer's Mountain (1963) - Basically the proto-proto-pilot for the Waltons.

The 7th Dawn (1964 ) - Dull Lewis Gilbert-directed William Holden vehicle, has Capucine in walnut polish so awful it makes one almost nostalgic for the days of rubbish yellowface.

Victim Five (1964) - Early Harry Alan Towers venture in South Africa. Typical matinee folderol, surprisingly bloody, some unfortunate racial missteps including lots of usage of words like coloured, and a blackfaced minstrel carnival.

The Singing Nun (1965) - A dated relic that has whole action scenes played against back projection second unit of Belgium. The MGM lot looks so battered, as Belgium, one expects Jack Cassidy to come out with a mace. Ricardo Montalban plays a "European" priest, clearly some shine on his face to make him paler, or something. Belgium looks at times more like Mexico. Katharine Ross plays an innocent teenager, like most of the characters,a Belgian with an American accent, who interacts with actual Americans.
How Sweet It Is (1968) - A more tragically hip Debbie Reynolds comedy. One of those annoying "get down wiva yoof" films.

Death Is A Woman (1966) - Extremely ITC travelogue, a vehicle for browned-up Aussie pop star/Carry On Camping support/Rentabrit in US TV, Trisha/Patsy Ann Noble. Featuring Anita Harris as herself.

What Did You Do In The War, Daddy? (1966) - Strange, not wholly successful backlot-bound Italy-se war comedy with James Coburn. Blake Edwards doesn't know waht to do with the tone. It's clearly somewhat autobiographical. Though Dick Shawn in drag (Edwards seemed to be fascinated by cross-dressing - hmm, I wonder did he identify as not-quite-cis) is a dry run for Shawn's similarly fag-smoking femme turn in Angel.

Five Golden Dragons (1967) - Boring Harry Alan Towers travelogue with an array of ageing guest stars wandering about Hong Kong, most in golden masks. Director Jeremy Summers ended up doing Emmerdale. Presumably intended as a third Sanders film with Richard Todd, but instead this Edgar Wallace adap uses Bob "I'm not Dana Andrews" Cummings.

Beach Red (1967)  Cornel Wilde passion project, a childish, shambolic, abstract WW2 movie that is seemingly set in the present.

Ice Station Zebra (1968) - It actually merges the Scottish second unit and the MGM lot very well, but I find it a slog.

5 Man Army (1969) - Despite Eastern influences and Peter Graves playing Jim Phelps as a cowboy, a typical Italian western bolognese.

More (1969) - Barbet Schroeder hippie nonsense about people lounging  to Pink Floyd.

Hornet's Nest (1970) - Grim, depressing Rock Hudson war movie, about a GI who teaches some Italian youths revenge in WW2. Mark Colleano's performance as a hammy, petulant teen is one of the problems. But it's a typical "youth message" film.

El Condor (1970) - Larry Cohen and John Guillermin western, not very good, but interesting, though the Aztec gold angle is lost within a runaround about bullfighters. Jim Brown billed over Lee Van Cleef.

High Crime (1973) - Typical Castellari-Nero Eurocrime. 

From Noon Till Three (1973) - Ludicrous and not very good romantic comedy for Bronson and Ireland. Self indulgent, almost a two hander. Bizarre interlude full of stock footage where French chefs in Paris and gondoliers in Venice read the book Ireland has written. Bronson puts on a beard and glasses, that makes him look like Charles Manson's faux-intellectual  idiot uncle. Strange, downbeat ending has Bronson do an Oscar Pistorius on Ireland.

Assassination (1986) - Ludicrous but entertaining conspiracy thriller with Charles Bronson protecting First Lady Jill Ireland from a nutter who is actually the President. Has an interesting twist in a Asian female sidekick for Bronson, and Peter Hunt at least tries in the director's chair.

That'll Be The Day (1973) - An interesting picture of an era, or a rather the 70s idea of the 50s/early 60s. Not quite my thing. 

 Ransom (1974) - Odd little Sean Connery film. James Maxwell third billed behind McShane. Feels very TV. Thinks Scandinavia is a country.

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974) - Chase film, mixing car chases with the "bunch of eejits on a road trip". Are we supposed to be glad they get wiped out in an epic train accident/crash....

The Midnight Man (1974) - Dreary rural neo-noir with Burt Lancaster. Youtubed.

WW And The Dixie Dancekings (1975) - Alienating country and western nonsense with Burt Reynolds and his pals. Youtubed.

Not Now, Comrade (1976)- A weird hybrid. A bunch of sitcom stars directed by sitcom director Harold Snoad (a rare film credit) in a Ray Cooney farce. Theme by Don Estelle, who appears with Windsor Davies. The trouble is it's extremely stagey, despite extensive film inserts, and this kind of farce always just seems to be lots of running about. It feels like being in an empty provincial theatre. And it's shot in a very strange multi-camera film system. Also weird to see Lewis Fiander camping it up as a Soviet ballet ace the same year as his masterful turn in Who Could Kill A Child? Richard Marner and Michael Sharvell play Russians. Leslie Phillips cast somewhat against type as an ageing naval man and father of Michele Dotrice. 

The Gauntlet (1977) - One of Clint's weakest films. A chase/odd couple film like the above.

Bear Island (1979) - The ultimate Canadian tax shelter epic. Cold and bland, despite ACTION!

When Time Ran Out (1980) - Irwin Allen's style was out. The effects look like Supermarionation. The research facility even looks like Tracy Island. Edward Albert is less convincing as a Polynesian than Emma Stone in Aloha. The storylines are mostly old people moaning. Ernest Borgnine plays an ageing cop named Tom Conti chasing Red Buttons, while Burgess Meredith is a supposedly Hispanic circus act. Pat Morita does a silly accent, because apparently that's what he really liked doing as an actor. The climax is twenty minutes over a bridge.

High Risk (1981) - Bland, nothingy action comedy set in a seemingly empty Central America, despite an all-star cast - Brolin, Quinn, Borgnine, Coburn, Lindsay Wagner, Cleavon Little, Bruce Davison.

I, The Jury (1981) - RIP Larry Cohen. He was removed off this attempt to turn Mike Hammer into a sort of urban Bond rival. The Bill Conti soundtrack is wonderful if a bit game show-y. Didn't expect it to go all Le Carre. Then, it turns into a softcore comedy. I can definitely see him and replacement director Richard Heffron going for a sort of "Bond of the streets" vibe. Gave up after an hour because it's quite sleazy, and I'm not one for sleazy detective thrillers. Had to watch it again.
Then, on a Mike Hammer whim, gave  Kiss Me Deadly (1955 - B/W) a try - It's a typical unlikeable noir until the ending, which redeems the film because it almost suggests the age of the noir is ending. "This not what folk want for low budget entertainment. This is!"
Cohen later made Deadly Ilusion (1987), with Billy Dee Williams as the Hammer manque Hamberger, which is even worse, feeling more like a Fred Williamson vanity project.   Youtubed.

The Escape Artist (1982) - When I first saw this film as a teen, it really spoke to me. Now, it feels to me unfinished. Griffin O'Neal is a rather dislikeable little oik. The whole stuff with Raul Julia kind of drags the film away from where it should be. The stuff with Jackie Coogan, Joan Hackett, Gabriel Dell and E.G. Daily works. It's sweet but it's messy. And I can see why it flopped. Zoetrope clearly wanted another Black Stallion, down to the cinematographer of that, Caleb Deschanel directing here. And though this film looks good in the neon, it doesn't look as beautiful as the Black Stallion, a film which I think may be one of the most gorgeous films ever shot. If this had been made c.the same time, with Paul Daniels as the uncle, Dexter Fletcher as the boy, and I don't know, Alfred Molina as the mayor's son and a young Peter Chelsom directing, and set it in Blackpool, it might have worked.

Firewalker (1986) - Chuck Norris and Louis Gossett do Raiders/Ishtar in depressing, confused piece of supposedly comedic but quite grim nonsense. John Rhys-Davies does one of his turns in ripoffs of films he starred in in the first place. Chuck Norris is like a cartoon dog who advertises beer.

Starknight (1986) - Harvey Keitel and Klaus Kinski in this good-looking but relatively dull sci-fi/fantasy hybrid. The dragon is a UFO. Youtubed.

Murphy's Law (1986) - Cannon's riposte to 48 Hours. Except with Bronson instead of Nolte and the voice of Disney's PepperAnn, Kathleen Wilhoite as a juvenile runaway named Bella with a disconcerting resemblance to Irish comedienne Katherine Lynch. Angel Tompkins as the love interest is basically in the same mode as her "First Lady of the Night" character in Amazon Women on the Moon.  Very much rote Bronson, despite the sidekick and villains being female.

Barton Fink (1991) - I admire the style of the Coens, but not their substance.

La Gran Aventura Mortadelo Y Filemon (2004) - An almost Mouse Hunt-ish adaptation of the popular Spanish comic. Proves that when with a genuine comic book to adapt, European filmmakers can run riot. My dad used to buy me the source material when in Spain.  Dominique Pinon's appearance is one of a few influences from Jeunet and Caro, but this is nowhere near as self-obsessed. Has a Spanish Jeanette Charles impersonator. My kind of comedy. And a Roger Miller-soundtracked miming bit. Has elements of the Phynx.

I've realised I kind of need to stop watching films on youtube, because I admit because of problems involving bandwidth, problems with maintaining attention on a crappy screen, I often skip using the ten-twelve second parser on youtube, then flicking every ten seconds clip to clip, waiting for a moment to stick with. If the film makes enough of an impression, I'll buy it, But I realise this is flawed. Even if you skip five seconds, you miss stuff. I've watched a good seventy percent of films I've reviewed like this. Also, a lot of exploitation films suit this, but not everything.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Mr. Moto - 8

Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937 - B/W) - First in the Fox (RIP) series based on a series of pulp novels as Peter Lorre makes his debut as the globe-trotting faux-Japanese spy who has the uncanny power to pass as white (funny, that). Has John Carradine and a rare Chinese artefact that must be destroyed. There's definitely a proto-Raiders thing going on with these films. Rote but Lorre is appealingly strange, as always.

Think Fast, Mr. Moto (1937 - B/W) - Stage-Indians and yet more faux-Orientalist larks. At one point, Lorre dresses up as a Rubette. Has a telegram appear on screen for ten seconds, which proves that perhaps these films were made to be gobbled up.

Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938 - B/W) - Mainly pottering about in a pub.

Mr Moto Takes a Chance (1938 - B/W) - Serial style exotica.

Mr. Moto's Gamble (1938 - B/W) - A death in the family made this Charlie Chan film a crossover, with Lee Chan (a wasted Keye Luke) helping Peter Lorre's not-very-Japanese detective. I can stomach these more than the Charlie Chans, because Lorre is so odd and appealing, here playing with a cat, even when the mystery as here is stiff. The character isn't a ridiculous caricature.

Mr. Moto In Danger Island (1938 - B/W) - By now the formula was running a bit thin. Almost a recap of the previous films.

Mr. Moto's Last Warning (1938 - B/W) - Aptly named penultimate film. Has George Sanders and Robert Coote as a ventriloquist doing the water-drinking trick with his schoolboy dummy.  Something about a submersible gets lost in a showbi-related mire. Some nice underwater FX. But you can see that there's only so much you can do with Moto. Has Moto get possessed by Coote's dummy at Coote's suggestion, at the end.

Mr. Moto Takes A Vacation (1939 - B/W) - Has Lorre in yellowface and whiteface as Moto has to go undercover as a German. Again.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Halliwell and Psychotronic dregs - 76

Michael (1924 - B/W) - German silent by Carl Dreyer and Thea Von Harbou, with Benjamin "Haxan" Christensen and in the lead role, an astonishingly young Walter Slezak. Not quite my thing. Attractive, arty gay love story.

The Bat Whispers (1930 - B/W) - Unusually stylised old dark house caper. Lots of visual variation for the era.

Night World (1932 - B/W) - Karloff in anticlimactic Busby Berkeley-choreographed crime quickie, featuring George Raft and Hedda Hopper.

The 13th Guest (1932 - B/W) - Another interchangeable policier with Ginger Rogers.

The Monster Walks (1932 - B/W) - Tiresome old dark house thing with Mischa Auer.

Night of Terror (1933 - B/W) - Primitive, campily performed Bela Lugosi in a turban quickie.

White Woman (1933 - B/W)- Confused jungle comedy. Charles Laughton seems to be playing  Harry Mudd from Star Trek.

Deluge (1933 - B/W) - Memorable effects enliven a tedious melodrama. With Sidney Blackmer decades before hailing Satan in Rosemary's Babba.

Gift of the Gab (1934- B/W) - Confused Universal variety show. See also the likes of International House.

The Black Room (1935 - B/W) - Handsomely mounted, unusually crisp Karloff melodrama.

The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935 - B/W) - Ambitious but primitive, oddly mondo-like independent production by Burroughs himself with Herman Brix/Bruce Bennett.

Murder by Television (1935 - B/W) - You skim through so many cheapies, they start to blend into one. This isn't as good as it sounds, despite Lugosi.

Life Returns (1935 - B/W) - Universal awkwardness about a dead dog being revived.

Crackup (1936 - B/W) - Typical 30s programmer, worth it for Peter Lorre as a mastermind disguised as a trumpet playing thickprick.

The Man Who Changed His Mind (1936 - B/W) - undistinguished Karloff quota quickie.

Dr Syn (1937 - B/W) - Rather genteel adaptation.

Miracles for Sale (1939- B/W) - Unsuspenseful melodrama/variety show with Robert Young, by Tod Browning.

The Devil's Daughter (1939 - B/W) - I'd never really watched "race films" before. And they are fascinating. Black crews and actors going out there making films for their own kind, knowing that the white establishment will never establish them. This does feature Nina Mae McKinney, well known enough to have her own special on the early BBC high-definition television service. Amateurish, hissy sound, but a definite curio.

Dark Eyes of London (1939) - Rather dull Edgar Wallace with Bela Lugosi in two roles, that ends quite suddenly.

I Was An Adventuress (1940 - B/W) - Adventure stifled by Vera Zorina's performance so it has to focus on Von Stroheim and Lorre.

Man Hunt (1941 - B/W) - Alienating noir drugdery set in an unconvincing London. Some of the London scenes are atmospheric, but it loses it when it enters countryside.

Hitler's Madman (1943 - B/W)- Douglas Sirk-directed propaganda, set in a ludicrous approximation of France, that resembles a Canadian frontier town, with a mix of cowboy hatted Americans and Frenchmen in Davy Crockett hats.

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943 -B/W) - Not much of a fight, not much Frank. But then again, that's what happens when you cast a sixtysomething Bela Lugosi.

Bluebeard (1944  -B/W) - Hammy, shonky PRC period drama with John Carradine.

Scared to Death (1947) - The sole novelty of this Lugosi quickie is that is in colour, but weirdly the ending in its lightning predates Suspiria in style.

Golden Earrings (1947 B/W) - Milland and Dietrich black up as gypsies, like Topsy and Tom, except they don't lick the cocoa around their lips. Ludicrous lolloping about.

The Creeper (1948 - B/W) - Slow, boring, chintzy suspenser with Onslow Stevens.

King Solomon's Mines (1950) - Typical jungle adventure lifted by actual African locations, but otherwise plotless travelogue.

Man in the Attic (1953 - B/W) - Dowdy remake of the Lodger. Jack Palance looks like a teddy boy, as he torments Irish-born starlet/proto-Mrs. Bryan Forbes, Constance Smith.

The Maze (1953 - B/W) - Another dated straggler, set in Scotland, this castle caper is notable really only for the drunken frog monster-thing that lies in the titular topiary structure.

Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954 - B/W) - For a 50s B-movie, it feels like it is set in  a real corner of the world.

Violent Saturday (1955) - Not my sort of thing, but a well-made noir with a solid cast. Predates Witness in plot.

Journey To The Beginning of Time (1955) - A discovery! Flamingos, tigers, mammoths, crocs, dinosaurs, oh my! More proof Karel Zeman was one of the true FX geniuses of the 20th century.

Earth Vs The Spider (1957 - B/W) - Typical early 50s AIP junk.

Cat Girl (1957  B/W) - More early AIP tedium, an unauthorised British Cat People remake, with Barbara Shelley. Weird to see Jack May looking young.

Daughter of Dr. Jekyll (1957 - B/W) - You know a film is inaccurate when the nearest thing to an English accent belongs to ex Irish Republican Arthur Shields.

The World, the Flesh and The Devil (1959 - B/W) - Harry "Sidney Potter" Belafonte stars and sings in this post-apocalyptic multiracial love triangle with Inger Stevens and Mel Ferrer. Unfortunately, it's much more of a 50s melodrama than a sci-fi.

Tormented (1960 - B/W) - Weak love triangle haunting by Bert I. Gordon. About a disembodied ex's head.

Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962 - B/W) - Almost no period detail, an English language cast dubbed with German accents, Dublin looking miserable, no real story... Christopher Lee was suitably angry.

The Cat Wore Sunglasses (1963) - Odd Czech children's comedy, a surrealist parade of people with a Ready Brek glow. Initially cloyingly charming, then goes mad. Stars Jan Werich, the Czech actor originally cast as Blofeld.

The Strangler of Blackwood Castle (1963) - Typical Edgar Wallace krimi, annoyingly quirky in its "English" perkiness.

Frozen Alive (1964 - B/W) - Depressing Anglo-German cryogenics suspenser.

A Tale of Lost Times (1964) - Alexander Ptushko's typical Soviet fairytale adap.

The Gorgon (1964) - Atmospheric and the calcification effects are fun but ruined by having a mystery that is a copout.

Variola Vera (1982) - Rade Serbedzjia and Peter Carsten in true-life dramatisation of a real life infection scenario in Belgrade, 1972. Lots of HAZMAT-suited goons. Like a medical soap crossed with the Crazies.

Return of Mr. Moto (1965 - B/W) - A cheap ITC-ish possibly-a-pilot with Henry Silva as a tough-talking, racially ambiguous Moto who talks with an American accent, but dresses up as a Lorre-ish velly solly Oriental as a disguise. Bland, free of action.

Rasputin The Mad Monk (1965) - It looks opulent, but it wastes a good cast, and doesn't know what it is. Is it a full-fledged historical drama, a horror, or something else?

Incubus (1966) - Baffling Esperanto horror, with William Shatner vs a goat.

Golden Bat (-1966 - B/W) - Delirious, well shot but confined Japanese superhero film with Sonny Chiba. Realised I already did this.

Majin, the Monster of Terror (1966) - The only difference in this samurai film is at least one samurai is a giant living statue. Ditto sequels Return of Giant Majin (1966) and Daimajin Strikes Again (1966).

Destination Inner Space (1966) - Undersea alien nonsense with Gary Merrill, and an excruciatingly racist caricature performance from James Hong as the chef who refers to himself in the third person.

Finders Keepers (1966) - The lost Cliff film. I can see why it is lost. Sub-Elvis movie.

Maneater of Hydra (1967) - Cameron Mitchell and a plant in incompetent Euroshocker.

The Hostage (1967) - Drudgery of a hostage thriller with  an astonishingly fresh-faced "Dean Stanton" and John Carradine, but the photography by Ted V Mikels  is nice, and makes it look more expensive than it was.

Cop Out (1967) - A sensationalist but rather muted thriller, starring James Mason, Geraldine Chaplin, Bobby Darin (sadly not played by Kevin Spacey in a ton of makeup and a bad wig), Paul Beroya (a Canadian actor who was clearly intended to be something, considering his roles in this and the ludicrous-looking Hot Rods to Hell and as Raul Castro in Che!), but eventually found himself in a mix of ITC shows and Larry Buchanan tripe, and the likes of Ian Ogilvy, Tomorrow People ally Brian Stanyon, Clive Morton, James Hayter, Ivor Dean, Yootha Joyce... A weird not-quite-giallo based on a Georges Simenon story, melding middle-aged mystery with sub-Roger Corman youth antics.

Hour of the Wolf (1968 - B/W) - All Bergman looks the same to me.

The Bed Sititng Room (1969) - Wow. Rewatch, but still... It might be Richard Lester's best film that doesn't have the word Superman or II in the title.

Fraulein Doktor (1969) - De Laurentiis' WW1 Macaroni Combat epic starring Suzy Kendall, though expensive, still feels like typical Euroschlock. Despite the likes of Kenneth More, and a young Oliver Reed-ish Michael Elphick, before he got all bloated.

Darker Than Amber (1970) - Rather ITC-ish actioner with Rod Taylor. Nice action, and off-kilter feel. Feels curiously un-American, perhaps because of Suzy Kendall, Theodore Bikel and James Booth. But doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971) - Typical bobbins giallo. Supposedly set in England, and unless it is Torquay, it's not very convincing.

Dear Dead Delilah (1972) - Abysmal, almost John Watersesque Nashville schlock with Agnes Moorehead, Michael Ansara, Will Geer and an electric wheelchair. Profil font alert.

The Final Programme (1973) - I like Fuest's Phibes films, but this is a mess. Graham Crowden should be higher billed. Jon Finch and Jenny Runacre aren't likeable. It feels indulgent, very Avengers-y, with all the weaknesses of the series. The plot is just an excuse for a runaround.

Hard Times (1975) - Unusually refined period outing for the era, Bronson and Coburn spar, for what it is, Walter Hill manages to make it work.

Vigilante Force (1976) - Kris Kristofferson made this the same year as A Star Is Born. A Gene Corman produced postWalking Tall vehicle for him and the lesser talented Jan Michael Vincent. It also has Bernadette Peters and Victoria Principal. Forgettable bar the climax where Kris fights hicks through a post apocalyptic ghost town landscape in a marching band outfit.

The Killer Inside Me (1976) - Atmospheric but aimless and overtly jubilantly-soundtracked Jim Thompson cowboy noir with Stacy Keach.

Nightmare In Blood (1977)  - Amateurish but incredibly interesting fan-made exploration about fan culture.

The Odd Job (1978) - A dire, confused attempt at both a solo venture for a lost looking Graham Chapman and a rare cinematic outing for Sir David Jason, who does significantly better with the material, and seems to be basically trying to be the next Sellers.

Fish Hawk (1979) - Typical Canadian family thing with Will Sampson, preachy thing about interracial friendship.
My Side of the Mountain (1969) is a better, if rather Disney-ish exploration of the Canadian wilderness.

The Humanoid (1979) -  A city called Metropolis, "Krypton metal", a Darth Vader manque, Corinne Clery dressed in white says "it's our only hope" while filing into into a robot, a wedge-shaped super-spaceship trundling across the screen, set design that mimics the Falcon,  scrolling opening credits. At least with other Star Wars knockoffs, they try to place some kind of deranged originality, be it clipper ships, druids or George Peppard drinking beer and singing Burl Ives songs. This is almost slavishly faithful to Star Wars and to a lesser extent, Superman, and even the odd original elements, Richard Kiel as a space merc who becomes a Hulk-like supermutant is derived from Frankenstein, Barbara Bach is Space Ingrid Pitt, the Tibetan kid with telekinetic Buddhist superpowers is a mini-Obi Wan... But for a film released by Columbia, with a relatively starry cast (five time Oscar nominee Arthur Kennedy blustering as a mad scientist), it's so blatant. That this never got a US release thanks to AIP being embarrassed of it explains why Lucas didn't blast the thing down with a lawsuit.

Christ Stopped at Eboli (1979) - Francesco Rosi film, basically just Gian Maria Volonte wandering about an Italian village.

Monstroid (1979) - The sheer ambition of the film despite its awfulness almost wins one over. And the design of the monster is interesting, even if the execution is ridiculous. At least it has a monster unlike Barracuda (1978), the most boring Jaws knockoff.

The Man With Bogart's Face (1980) - Despite an international cast, and Robert Sacchi both a dead ringer in voice and face for Bogie, this is dumb. It's not much  of a spoof, in fact at times forgets it is, and instead feels like a pilot for a slightly more Get Smart-type series. It feels cheap, the music feels televisual, the framing... Avoidable. Has Herbert Lom to tie it into the Pink Panther series it wants to be.

Terror Train (1980) - Hmm, a rather cramped, badly lit and unsuspenseful slasher. Though having the killer be undercover in drag is clever, and casting a drag queen a good choice, though it doesn't help the Uncanny Valley nature of the character.

Tried watching Blue Collar by Paul Schrader. But it gave me an headache.
Ditto King of Hearts with Alan Bates, which felt baffling and sentimental, in a kind of Cuckoo's Nest manner.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Spy, action, general psychoronic weirdness - 109

The Long Voyage Home (1940 - B/W) - Might be John Ford's best. Gregg Toland's cinematography is excellent. Thomas Mitchell actually sounds Irish. John Wayne's Swedish sounds Southern.

The Canterville Ghost (1944 - B/W) - Laughton's presence fails to eniven what is transformed into a schmaltzy wartime culture clash comedy.

THE STRANGER (1946 - B/W) - Typical noir, with Orson Welles, though seeing Orson getting impaled on a motorised gargoyle is a memorable climax.

The Boy with Green Hair (1948) - Dean Stockwell in a strange, schmaltzy Oirish-tinged fantasy. But still, Stockwell proves he was always an admirably quirky performer.

The Woman In White (1948 - B/W) - Hackneyed, VERY American take on Wilkie Collins. Saw it on, so skimmed it along.

Whisky Galore (1949 - B/W) - It's picturesque, but it's not my thing. I find Ealing comedies not especially funny, though I did get tickled at Gordon Jackson playing a character called George Campbell, which in a thick Hebridean twang, sounds like "George Cowley". 

Little Red Monkey (1955 - B/W)  - Merton Park/Monogram thriller with Richard Conte, typical British B-movie excitement-induced tedium., with organ soundtrack. This sort of Brit not-quite-noir I'm not quite  a fan of, but still I have an entire Edgar Wallace box set to rifle or stifle through.

Moonfleet (1955) - I can see why Stewart Granger hated this. It's an odd film. Nothing feels authentic. The West Country setting is so obviously Hollywood, that even Fritz Lang's very European direction doesn't help. And even Joan Greenwood is out of place.

Captain Lightfoot (1955) - Similar fare with Rock Hudson, notable for being almost entirely shot in Ireland, with lots of Irish support. But not much cop, fairly anachronistic.

The Scapegoat (1959- B/W) - Dated, uninteresting melodrama with two pints of Alec Guinness for the price of one. Typical "women's picture" of the 50s. Needed more pep. Bette Davis hams it up.

In The Dog House (1961 - B/W)  - Sporadically entertaining quasi-Carry On. Peggy Cummins oddly reminiscent of Shelley Duvall. The stuff with animals trashing a brass band is fun.

The Naked Edge (1961 - B/W) - Confusing, sub-Hitchcock thriller, despite sterling cast.

Tintin and the Mystery of the Golden Fleece (1961) - Baffling live action adaptation, despite having a parrot in a helicopter.

Two Weeks In Another Town (1962) - Though not my sort of drama, interesting to note that however much an evocation of the American-Italian film industry, how much of it ironically is actually the MGM lot. George Hamilton is ridiculous.

Judex (B/W - 1963) - The soundtrack is typical Jarre, bits of Island at the Top of the World and Jesus of Nazareth crop up. Attempt by Franju to make art out of pulp. Doesn't quite work. Needs speed and verve.

Kali Yug Die Gottin Der Rache (1963)/Aufruhr in Indien (1963) - A clear attempt to repeat the success of Fritz Lang's Indian adventure. This has a strange cast Lex Barker, Ian Hunter, Michael Medwin, Senta Berger - and as Indians, Sergio Fantoni, Claudine Auger and yes - Klaus Kinski blacked up (not browned up, blacked up, this isn't just some boot polish, he is darkened to the point it becomes Uncanny Valley), plus actual Desi I.S. Johar. But while Lang's film(s) felt interesting and vivid, this lags.

7 Seas To Calais (1963) - Boring Italian-set-in-Plymouth actioner about Sir Francis Drake, with Rod Taylor and Keith Michell. 

A  Shot In The Dark (1964) - Oh well... It's a strange hybrid. At times, it's a straight mystery. When you realise Clouseau is shoehorned into a preexisting story, plus Clouseau wasn't really CLOUSEAU! until the later films, it makes sense...

Once A Thief (1965  - B/W) - Bland, arty attempt to make Alain Delon in Hollywood.

A Thousand Clowns (1965 - B/W) - Sub-Neil Simon comedy full of wiseasses, especially Jason Robards' nephew.

A High Wind in Jamaica (1965) - Susan Who and Martin Amis get adopted by pirate Anthony Quinn in this Disney-ish pirate Railway Children. Slow, hulking.

Harper (1966) - Again this kind of noir, I find a kind of proto-TV movie blandness in a lot of 60s US studio thrillers, as the studio system crumbles, made in ignorance of what is going on. 

Let's Kill Uncle (1966) - Utterly contrived cop-out kiddie matinee from William Castle. Nigel Green is fun, but it's a one-joke scenario.

Modesty Blaise (1966) - A massive folly full of "hey, it's a comic strip so it has to be random and full of circus acts, eh?", rather than a clean adventure. Dirk Bogarde I find even sillier than usual (the trouble with Bogarde is I find him ridiculous because as a twelve year old, Channel 6, a failed TV channel in Ireland would show Stella Street, and I became hooked, and John Sessions' flowery, tweedy posho just ensured I can never take Bogarde seriously). Why is there a random musical number? It's indescribably awful, rather than just bland per many spy films of the era.  Monica Vitti looks lost, and it feels improvised.

Rotten To The Core (1965 - B/W) - Stodgy heist comedy. Anton Rodgers is stifled because he's forced to inhabit a role that Peter Sellers was pegged for. Charlotte Rampling is the "crumpet".

Our Man Flint (1966)/In Like Flint (1967) - There's just something about the US Bond knockoffs that I never got. Maybe, it's the studio  backlot nature. Although these films don't have especially strong villains, which is what a good spy film needs.  All a bit too goofy. They seem to undercut everything. 

Three Fantastic Supermen (1967) - Italian superhero knockoff, where the heroes are merely acrobats who dress like superheroes for the sake of it. Energetic, but still blatantly nonsensical and irritating.

Operation Kid Brother (1967) - Even though I don't really do Eurospy films, it's hard not to enjoy probably the most blatant Italian Bond imitation of them all. I like the theme, except the bit where Kristy sings, "He seems to be the one for me" in a sexy Arthur Mullard voice. Like all the Bond knockoffs of this era made in Europe, it mistakes the weaknesses of the Connery Bonds as their strengths. Though this, in apology for the usual sexist hero, gives Lois Maxwell more to do than twenty five years as Moneypenny ever did. The American inflected dubbing is rubbish, though. The Thanatos meeting scene is a copy and paste of the British Intelligence gathering in Thunderball. But this is terribly made. Even though the Connery Bonds have dated very badly, even this, which by Eurospy standards is plush, is still a tough watch.

Danger Route (1967) - Richard Johnson in Amicus spy tosh. Little plot, just lots of affairs. Sub-ITC. Crappy back projection ahoy. Anita Harris sings the theme.

The Killing Game (1967) - Wobbly psychedelia about cartoonists with Jean-Pierre Cassel and Claudine Auger.

Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (1967) - A rather inconsequential and cloying but interesting musical short, in debt to Demy, but directed by Douglas Hickox, who hints at the style he'd perfect in Theatre of Blood.

In The Heat of The Night (1967) - I'm not a fan of films set in the South or cop thrillers. It's undoubtedly a well-made film, but I find cop films set in rural areas just not my jam. It's also kind of muddled.

Two For The Road (1967) - Isn't it just that No, Honestly with Pauline Collins and John Alderton, but with Finney and Hepburn?

The Corrupt Ones (1967) - Proto-Raiders with Robert Stack, theme by Dusty Springfield, written by Brian Clemens. 

Operation St. Peter's (1967) - Edward G. Robinson and Heinz Ruhmann (playing a character called Cardinal Braun, so that the film can be marketed as part of the Father Brown adaptations that Ruhmann starred in) in jokey, unmemorable Lucio Fulci-directed Vatican heist movie. Music by the Swingle singers. 

The next year's Vatican Story (1968) is almost the same film, but with Walter Pidgeon, and Klaus Kinski. It has a lot more style, even though it is ridiculous. Pidgeon as a blind art expert/thief. Though down to the casting of Klaus Kinski, and with the central idea of an elderly American star as the mastermind, it borrows a lot from another Edward G. Robinson Euro-heist -

Grand Slam (1967) Also starring Janet Leigh, Robert Hoffmann (TV's Robinson Crusoe), and Adolfo Celi. I'm not a fan of heist movies in general.But these two Italian heist films of this era seem to have that something that lacks from more personality obsessed heist fare and indeed  Eurospy fare. They seem more polished, more visually stimulating. They lack that skankiness. And Grand Slam has a great twist ending.  

1001 Nights (1968) - Shonky late period peplum nonsense with Raf Vallone and Luciana Paluzzi.

Boom! (1968) - I wish this Burton/Taylor indulgencefest would explode.

The Birthday Party (1968) - Maybe I dislike Pinter, but the fact it is directed by a certain Mr. Friedkin perhaps makes this uncomfortable for me. Weird to see Patrick Magee with his hair dyed brown, and looking almost his real age. Robert Shaw is a bit childish. Not much happens.

In Enemy Country (1968) - Anthony Franciosa and an incongruous Tom Bell in this Universal TV-like WW2 boreathon so obviously filmed in Little Europe.

Wonderwall (1968) - Confusing, bemusing George Harrison concoction. Surrealist cartoonish weirdness with Jack McGowran, looking quite like a consistently baffled John Hurt. Pervy, endearing scrapes with Jane Birkin, a bit Reggie Perrin, infuriating in your face at most times, but utterly unique in its own way.

Return of Monte Cristo (1968) - Pierre Brasseur is almost unrecongisable from his days of lifting girls' faces off as a drunk in this strange, decent for a Eurospy modernisation of the old story. Action-packed if quite televisual in its style. 

Golden Claws of the Cat Girl (1968) - Daniele  Gaubert in desperate female Diabolik.

Assignment K (1968) - Grim spy vehicle for Stephen Boyd. Just because it is about a toy company rep who is a spy doesn't make it the fun nonsense it sounds like.

Subterfuge (1968)  - Are we sure this isn't an episode of the Adventurer? Gene Barry potting about in London... Written by Dr. Who showrunner David Whitaker. Ron Pember shows up, and that's the highlight.

The Assassination Bureau (1969) - The sort of overblown Victorian romp I should like, but I find terribly self-indulgent and "oh, we're so clever, aren't we?". Even Frank Thornton looks smirkily. Vernon Dobtcheff in a large role billed over giallo-starlet Annabella Incontrera, George Coulouris, Jess Conrad and Kenneth Griffith.

Angel, Angel, Down We Go (1969) - Typical AIP youth nonsense, bar an attempt for Jennifer Jones to go almost psycho-biddy.  Seems to predate John Waters' oeuvre with a merrily large heroine. Obsessed with sitcom-level parachuting. Roddy McDowall plays a tennybopper drummer despite being over 40, and the Beatle wig makes him look like a bad Pat Troughton cosplayer.

The Big Cube (1969) - Would make a good double bill with the above, though much better - which isn't saying much. Lana Turner's not-quite-psychobiddy venture into hippy exploitation. Featuring "Daniel" O'Herlihy doing a sort of West Brit accent, 35-year-old George Chakiris as a college student, Swedish-Mexican Karin Mossberg may be one of the worst performances in any film I have ever seen, complete with weird Harfynn Teuport accent. It seems to think drugs make one do wacky paintings. Plus lots of Hispanic extras trying to pass as WASPs, with dubious dubbing.

Futz (1969) - AIP's farmer version of Corman's Gas. As idiotic as that sounds. 

That Smashing Bird I Used To Know (1970) - Dennis Waterman, Patrick Mower and lesbian schoolgirl Maureen Lipman in nonsensical school sexploiter.

Mr. Forbush and the Penguins (1970) - John Hurt in his cheeky scamp days  moons over Hayley Mills and chases penguins and go-go dances with them. Interminable.

The Delta Factor (1970) - RTE used to show this quite a bit. I remember it in listings, and being surprised a Christopher George starring vehicle was on. So I knew it'd be cheap-ass exploitation hell, but nowhere near as cheap and weird as this, even though it's by Raoul Walsh, Mickey Spillane and Tay Garnett, made independently in 1970, and released by Medallion, who mainly did peplum, but were part of Continental-Walter Reade, whose output was a mix of kitchen sink classics and being the folk behind the iconic double bill of Doctor Who and the Daleks and Night of the Living Dead. It feels like an Al Adamson film, and the hero, Morgan is maybe the most awful sexist hero in spy movies, and he has competition. He points out it is okay to rape a wife, as he has married his co-agent Yvette Mimieux.  And it feels like it is stuck in the 50s. Tay Garnett was 75 when he made this. Not his last film. He did a few regional family programmers for the likes of Howco.

Le Voyou (1970) - Typical arty French crime film. Attractive but not much there.

The Outside Man (1972) - Jean Louis Trintignant again, in boring American coproduction with Roy Scheider that shows how boring LA really is.

Wanda (1970) - Odd, unfriendly, uneasy feminist exploitation film.

Cover Me Babe (1970) - Hateful countercultural moviemaking satire with Sondra Locke and Robert Forster.

Mr. Superinvisible (1970) - Shonky nonsense aping Disney movies. At least Dean Jones dubs himself.

The Grissom Gang (1971) - Made by Robert Aldrich for ABC TV's film arm, Selmur, this feels quite like an episode of the Waltons (Ralph Waite even appears), and also not too far off Corman's ___ Mama films. I always found Scott Wilson a unique presence in his youth. I once met him at a lift in a con, and I did say I did like his performance in Exorcist III. The garish sets look almost Batman-esque. Kim Darby is odd, as always. Based on the Fauxmerican No Orchids for Miss Blandish. Setting it in actual rural America as opposed to a fantasyland New York jars with James Hadley Chase's unique vision of American gangland, to Britain what Karl May's American west was to Germany.  But this feels weirdly comic.

Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx (1971) - Weirdly, I had never seen this before. Clips, yes. Despite being a fan of Wilder, despite stories of the production being a constant in my grandad's house. It certainly paints a glorious picture of Dublin. Even though it uses that funny "Celtic" font that the 1972 Hound of the Baskervilles does. Waris Hussein ("the Indian", as my grandad derisively called him) and Gil Taylor have made Ireland look distinct. They have made Dublin look like an industrial metropolis on the edge of ruin. Some of the Doobalin accents can be a bit grating, and that's just the acting style. In fact, Wilder's goofish eejitry may be more convincingly Irish, even if the accent is odd, and his mother doesn't even look old enough to be his big sister. His accent is strange. It's similar to Pat Troughton in The Omen, in that they are somehow dirty and haggard enough to pass as Irish. But the Irish actors' performances, especially Eileen Colgan feel like they're in ads. But worth it for the picture of Dublin, Wilder adjusting his hair outside the Ambassador Cinema, full of hoardings for Oliver. The romance element with Margot Kidder is sweet,  but it's more about the man himself. There's a wonderful scene where he frees all the horses intended to be slaughtered, my grandad I think appearing somewhere. It might be Waris' best work.

Who Killed Mary Whats'ername (1971) - Peculiar hard-boiled mystery that seems to be a parody but isn't, despite weird humour moments and Red Buttons.  An early Cannon film. Feels very experimental and underground like a lot of pre-GG Cannon, the likes of Joe, which are all "hey, we're in a revolution!", but they're almost like a cousin of early Troma. Cameo by Jake Lamotta.

Lady Liberty (1971) - Idiotic comedy about Sophia Loren, William Devane and a sausage. 

Zachariah (1971) - Don Johnson in this is pretty but annoying and looks goofy when he pulls a certain face. A western but with deliberately anachronistic touches.  Dick van Patten plays a horse salesman. Nice soundtrack. But not my thing.  From the director of Wonderwall.

Mad Bomber (1972) - Drab Bert I. Gordon policier enlivened by explosions. Has a pre-Scanners body explosion of Chuck Connors.

The Assassination of Trotsky (1972) - Despite an enjoyably hammy Richard Burton, this historical Europudding is a turd.

Pickup on 101 (1972) - Peculiar attempt to crossbreed AIP youth operas with Harry and Tonto, though before the latter, with Jack Albertson, Martin Sheen and Lesley (and) Warren. Albertson has a hilarious slow motion death scene with a train that barely touches.

Innocent Bystanders (1972) - Derren Nesbitt billed over Warren Mitchell in this Stanley Baker vehicle. Weird fish-eye shots of Nelson's Column as Dana Andrews and Donald Pleasence walk, with montage shots. More exciting than the average British actioner of the era. Some of the most unconvincing doubling for NYC, i.e. a woman with poodles and some US cars, almost on a level of Superman IV. Based on a novel by Callan creator James Mitchell,  and there is a lot of that nihilistic view of spying in there, with Andrews and Cec Linder as CIA men who use torture on Baker. Pleasence plays a character called Loomis, which means he's probably a cousin of his Halloween character. But it gets rather dreary, and there's no real drive. Geraldine Chaplin isn't great, but Warren Mitchell steals it as an Akubra hat-wearng Australian-Turkish ANZAC bar owner called Droopy Drawers Omar. But there is striking production value. The ending has a silly day for night scene in "Cyprus", while we learn of a big bad called Asimov.

Gordon's War (1973) - Paul Winfield is good as always, but this is typical blaxploitation. Grace Jones pops up.

Executive Action (1973) - Bland, unexciting docudrama, almost on a Sunn Classics level, despite Lancaster, Ryan, Will Geer... Little period detail.

Hex (1973) - Awful 1910s hippie biker western horror with Gary Busey, Grizzly Adams, Keith Carradine. Nonsense. 

Wedding in Blood (1973) - Pervy Claude Chabrol arty nonsense. Does not know how to pace a thriller.

Together Brothers (1974) - A strange, not wholly successful attempt to mix docudrama, blaxploitation and the Hardy Boys. The murderer turns out to be a transvestite mama's boy who dresses like a disco Navajo chief. Nice soundtrack by Barry White, though.

Sunday in the Country (1974) - Unusual rural exploitationer. Set in a peaceful, almost Waltonsesque rural Americana (though clearly Canadian), church-going grandad Ernest Borgnine driven to torture after rapist thugs assault his granddaughter.  Slow and tonally all over the place and anticlimactic.  Another Canuck Deliverance imitation, SHOOT (1976) is a dreary, boring Canadian Borgnine rural exploiter, with Henry Silva and Cliff Robertson trotting about. 

The Driver's Seat (1974) - Another dreadful, "artistic" Anglo-Italian chunk of Lizploitation, with Andy Warhol as an English lord. 

Dead Cert (1974) - Uninteresting Dick Francis thriller with Judi Dench and Michael Williams. 

The Parallax View (1974) - An otherwise well-staged but mundane and somewhat vaguely filmed conspiracy thriller notable only for the incredible montage brainwashing. Thor cameo! Features both William Jordan and Edward Winter billed together, Winter later to take over Jordan's role in ITV filler Project UFO.

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) - Didn't do much for me. Feels silly yet not very funny. An action film filtered through a New Hollywood buddy "bunch of eejits" movie glaze.

Capone (1975) - Fox-Corman coproduction, so heavy use of the Fox lot, which mars this artificial, TV-rate biopic with Ben Gazzara, plus a young Sylvester Stallone as Frank Nitti, but a good cast rendered identikit via lazy styling and photography. The hammier The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967) is  almost definitely better, directed by Corman and actually looks like a film, to the point you expect Jason Robards to burst into song. And progressive (Jamaican Frank Silvera as a Mafioso).

Mr. Sycamore (1975) - Quirky comedy drama that feels like a serious indie take on a Disney movie idea. Jason Robards wants to be a tree. As good as that sounds.  At the end, he wills himself. Not to be confused with dire Canuck James Coburn-Fionnula Flanagan "thriller" Mr. Patman (1980).

The Big Bus (1976) - Saw this as a kid on TV3, back when they showed weird movies. Jokes don't really work. It isn't quite outrageous to beat, say, Airport '79. It takes a while to get started. I still remembered Stockard Channing being called Kitty. The cheers joke seems to be one of the few obvious jokes. Richard Mulligan is fun as the madly-in-love yet near-divorcee to Sally Kellerman, but it's nowhere near as outrageous as it needs to be. It doesn't sparkle. The farmer's son who appears nears the end, Dennis Kort played Pike in the failed US Dad's Army pilot with Lou Jacobi. No one is given great material. It ends quite suddenly.

Crime and Passion (1976) - For years, I presumed this was a tacky Euro-romance AIP released starring Omar Sharif and Karen Black, mainly because of American International's poster. And though this isn't incorrect, as it does have lots of slushy montages and skiing, it turns out it is  an adaptation of a James Hadley Chase novel, produced by William Richert, with a strange genre-melting style not unlike his later Winter Kills, but directed by Ivan Passer. Sharif is chased by a crazed fat woman in a comedy sequence, but then a scary castle and a supposed ghost pop up, revealing this to be basically a giallo, down to the fact it was retitled in some territories, "Frankenstein's Spook Castle". However, despite  a macabre ending, involving the frozen count that Black has married, it has a happy ending for Karen and Omar. And is really just a bland Euro-romance at its heart.

Echoes of A Summer (1976) - Canadians jumping on the Italian dying child bandwagon, with Jodie Foster and Richard Harris, the latter singing the theme song, "Deirdre", which he apparently wrote himself. And indeed sounds like the work of a man from Limerick trying to combine the oeuvres of Gordon Lightfoot and Joe Dolan. It's like an extra-tedious ep of the Beachcombers. At the end, they put on a panto. Literally. See also the similar Harris venture Bloomfield, which is just as bad, if not worse. An Israeli Match of the Day meets the Champ. 

Find the Lady (1976) - It has taken me this long to see a film set in a fairground starring John Candy, Dick Emery, Mickey Rooney and Peter Cook. This Canadian-British comedy is awful, and I don't like it, because it doesn't seem to hold together at all. Emery does his voices. It's almost a sequel to Ooh, You Are Awful. Still, seeing young pre-fame Candy and the ageing Emery together is something. It feels like the New Avengers in Canada. 

American Hot Wax (1978) - 50s-set biopic/concert film about DJ Alan Freed, feels like a Pepsi ad in that very 70s portrayal of the 50s.

Money Movers (1978) - Typical 70s crime caper, very Euston but Aussie. Not quite my thing. Bryan Brown, Charles Tingwell, Jason Donovan's da and half the Skippy cast enact it.

The Brinks' Job (1978) - Not a Friedkin fan, but this is weird. Not funny, not suspenseful, an ambling TV movie-ish journey about some great character actors wasted in silly parts doing a heist.

The Driver (1978) - Not quite my film, not really into navel gazing crime stories. Though the end was more watchable, almost reminding one of Trading Places. But down and dirty crime stories don't appeal.

High Ballin' (1978) - Terrible, shoddy depressing trucker flick with Jerry Reed and Peter Fonda.

Skin Deep (1978) - Amateurish, not very funny but very open picture of 1970s New Zealand.

Zero To Sixty (1978) - "Introducing Denise Nickerson", despite already having been Violet Beauregarde. Ironically, this was her last film. And this is basically what happened next  to Violet. She's now a teenage private eye who drives about. Idiotic sub-Disney larks with Darren McGavin, Joan Collins, Sylvia Miles and the Hudson Brothers, and is dressed in baggy clothes to make her not look like a twenty one year old. She looks vaguely Krankie-ish, even when topless. Yes, and she's supposed to be underage. Yes, and she romances fiftysomething Darren McGavin. 

The Amazing Mr. No Legs (1979) - A vanity project for one Ted Vollrath, with no production value, stolen locations, variety acts to pad up time, and a few names like Lloyd Bochner and Richard Jaeckel. He's not even the hero.Directed by veteran undersea cameraman/Creature from the Black Lagoon, Ricou Browning. 

Times Square (1980) - A bland, TV movie-ish EMI thing about teenage lesbian punks in New York, astonishingly.  Murkily shot.

The Kidnapping of the President (1980) - William Shatner stars in this Canadian tax shelter thriller. Begins with the coldest looking Argentina I have ever seen. Yes, it's sunny, but that's a winter sun. Hal Holbrook is the President, Van Johnson and  Ava Gardner give guest star turns and a lot of stock footage is used to pad this nonsense out to 1hr 50 mins.

The Gong Show Movie (1980) - Terrible, mostly VT footage of the TV series badly transcribed onto film. It's the American Best of Benny Hill. But it's an invaluable document of terrible American light entertainment TV. But that's just the bits from the TV show. The new bits are awful. Someone says, "the Gong Show is now the Goon Show", with seemingly no understanding or deliberate reference.  It seems to keep going back to clips of the TV show in desperation.

Montenegro (1981) - It's like a weird, pornographic Yugoslavian family sitcom.

Cutter's Way (1981) - Cold, unfeeling, bleak noir, hampered by a bizarre performance from John Heard.

The Inquisitor (1981) - Boring Lino Ventura drama about child abuse. 

Not for Publication (1984) - Despairingly ordinary "comedy" from Paul Bartel, with Nancy Allen and David Naughton. 

Bliss (1985) - Strange, surreal but unsuccessful Aussie fantasy, bland style shows the handiwork of post-Corman New World Pictures.

Tampopo (1985) - An interesting, odd, not especially laugh-out-loud but visually interesting treatise on ramen from Toho.

Half Moon Street (1986) - Godawful erotic thriller that makes no sense, somehow features Caine and Weaver. Made in association with Showtime TV. 

Messenger of Death (1988) - Weird to have Bronson paired with Trish Van Devere (herself part of another inseperable husband/wife duo) rather than Jill Ireland. A rather lazy, unoriginal actioner that seems to think Mormons and Amish are the same thing. Ends with a public dinner party assassination.

Mystery Train (1989)  - Memphis is a nice location, but Jim Jarmusch's style is very strange. These are films in which not much happens. He's not interested in excitement.

Thieves Of Fortune (1990) - Goofy South African comedy with Michael Nouri and Lee Van Cleef, sub-Romancing the Stone, with some burning Hispanics, Africa doubling for Spain and England. 

The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) - It begins promising, but Michael Douglas' performance (in an attempt to capture the essence of his father) is embarrassing, and the action is limply directed. And Val Kilmer's accent... yeeech...

Tried Zabriskie Point, and it's two radicals moaning in the desert.