Wednesday 30 August 2017

More reviews -not all British but I'm not that loyal. - 49

Been watching a couple of 70s horror indies, the slow, deliberate and kind of dated sorts of I Drink Your Blood (1971 - which has a fun twist ending), Messiah of Evil (1973), and Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971), all in the same 70s style, though the latter two feel more like art dramas disguised as horrors. Then again, I'm not really a slow horror guy, I respect those sort of films, but they're not for me. I'm more excitement, gothic, creating a world, etc.
Also tried watching paedophile scumshit Victor Silva/Salva's Clownhouse (1989) - initially nice style, but too much leering on the young boys' bodies.

 Skullduggery (1970)- weirdo melodrama about missing links, the Tropis headed by Pat Suzuki as a  sort of cheesecake innocent female progeny of Dr. Zaius discovered by Burt Reynolds and sidekick Roger C. Carmel doing a Swedish Chef accent, in New Guinea, and Canadian-trying-to-be-English archaeologist Susan Clark.  Interesting plot. Are the Tropis human?   William "Blacula" Marshall plays a Papuan barrister. Chips Rafferty adds some Australian credibility as the old Ocker minister who tries to baptise the Tropis.  Eventually, Motown exec/actor Booker Bradshaw comes in as a stereotyped Black Panther who argues the Tropis are prototype-Caucasians as they have pink skin/straight hair (but are headed by a Japanese actress), then  touches Suzuki's doll/surrogate child, she goes mad and gets squashed by a bookshelf, leaving Welsh Hollywood vet Rhys Williams as the judge to mull whether they can be classified as human until we classify ourselves as human.  Tonally all over the place, very preachy, with a feel akin to the Ron Ely Tarzan or a Disney adventure, i.e. Reynolds mugging and taking mick of Papuan chiefs' jewellery clashing with subplots about rape and trying to sell Papuan tribeswomen into prostitution.

 Also realised the pervading horror styles of 1980-82,  the disjointed One Dark Night (1981, and its identikit brethren Mausoleum (1983), though not the confusing slow-as-death itself slasher pair of Mortuary (1983) and Funeral Home (1980)), Fear No Evil (1981), the Incubus (1982), the  1982 Albert Salmi two-fer of the gory, nonsensical Superstition and the rather better Bert I. Gordon-directed Burned at the Stake (1981 - he was also in Dragonslayer, which also features witch/virgin sacrifice), Evilspeak (1982), Jaws of Satan (1982) - all similarly shot,  witchcraft, priests, demons, fire at night, day-for-night blueish tints, and though Fear no Evil is rather initially excitingly shot, and there are elements of atmosphere to all, the performances are quite lacking and it quickly descends into soft-focus. They are all one-time watches, all forgettable, often tedious entertainments that try to go for weird for weird's sake Jodorowsky-style but are too pedestrian in other ways to be fully off-the-cinematic wall. Though not quite to the level of the insane but badly-directed (and only really watchable in the daylight bits) Oliver Reed vs giant snakes film Spasms, Fritz Weaver elevates Jaws of Satan, and it features a subplot about how the snake-related druid cult originated in Sligo. No, really.
One Dark Night is at first quite a sunny, attractively shot but rather boring slasher with lots of teens going about, while Adam West does exposition. Then, it becomes your typical early 80s witch/demon with lightning eyes in a confined space.

Class of 1984 (1982) has a nice performance by Roddy McDowall, but it suffers from a nasty, unrealistic tone somewhere between Fame and Death Wish. Nice punchline.

I wonder with the likes of Canadian spooker Ghostkeeper ('81), does watching on NTSC VHS print contribute to the dullness. Though it may be the slowness. Even Ghost Story (1981) had this problem, and that was a major release. And Class of 1984 had it, I think it is common in a lot of domestic-based action films of the period, especially Canadian ones.

 Frightmare (1983)- not the Pete Walker classic, but Norman Thaddeus Vane's rather dull horror, with unlikeable victims.  Ferdy Mayne is good, but at odds with the 80s slasher aesthetic.

Highpoint (1982) - Awful action-comedy, not quite saved by the wonder of Richard Harris' Scouse accent.

Nikita (1990) - Crazy French "teen", resembling a sexy and mental Jimmy Krankie goes on warpath. Didn't quite capture my interest, because I found the titular French heroine annoying. 

The Yakuza (1974) - Slightly too dry Robert Mitchum goes to Japan thriller, needed Michael Winner to perk it up.  Then again I'm not really a man for private eye thrillers. Almost Friedkin-ish. Humourless. Attractively shot, but it lacks something. Nasty and hard to follow.

The Osterman Weekend (1984) - almost good but becomes impossible to follow conspiracy thriller, perhaps needed more international elements to keep it from being a boring LA news thriller, Ludlum/Peckinpah crossover, and Peckinpah I find insufferable. Lancaster and John Hurt good, Rutger Hauer his Rutgerish self. 

Also saw Gallery of Horrors (1967) - Lon Chaney, John Carradine, and 60s USA posing as Victorian England and Scotland, with literally no changes to sets, accents, etc.

Wavelength (1983) - Boring conspiracy thriller. Robert Carradine saves alien kids from being holed up in a bunker. As exciting as it sounds.

Knife for the Ladies (1973) - Low budget late-era Bonanza-quality western with a Jack the Ripper-ish killer thrown in. Just a below-average 70s western with some gore.

The Baby (1973) - Like Knife, features Ruth Roman. Feels like a bad episode of one of the lesser Universal NBC Mystery Movie series when it isn't featuring a wet bloke dancing around in a romper with child's screeches dubbed over. Odd and oddly sweet ending. 

Blood Link (1982) - Forgettable Canadian-Italian telepathic twin nonsense with Michael Moriarty, Greystoner Geraldine Fitzgerald, and a nice soundtrack from Morricone.

Beyond Evil (1980) - John Saxon in "exotic" but rather pedestrian almost TV movie-level horror, like one of those boring Filipino tourist shockers like The Thirsty Dead (1974) or Daughters of Satan (1972), without the actually exotic-looking locales.
Filipino exploitation is curious but most of it is terrible - all those Eddie Romero Blood Island films and similar variants like Beyond Atlantis (1973) and the Mastermind theme-soundtracked Twilight People (1973) and then other things like the "what were they thinking?" kung fu jungle cannibal adventure/Gilligan's Island with Nazis of Raw Force (1982).

Non-horror, watched Melvin and Howard (1980), which is a nice but rather unexciting rural comedy which isn't really about Jason Robards as a wild and crazy Howard Hughes, sadly, as that is just a cameo.

The Savage Innocents (1960) - ridiculous and not very funny (it's not supposed to be, but it is slightly unintentionally hilarious) Eskimo epic - yellowed-up Anthony Quinn discovers rock and roll and starts clicking along with his buck teeth. Might have only seen a few bits.

These Are the Damned (1963 - B/W) - Interesting Hammer SF, nice plot, but the protagonists are rather unlikeable, though Oliver Reed is menacing as the rocker gang leader. Then again Joseph Losey's kind of British cinema is not my kind of British cinema.

13 Frightened Girls (1961) - William Castle does Disney, teen girl thriller, not very good, only interesting because of the rather odd fact the teen lead is in love with middle-aged father figure Murray "Mayor of Amity" Hamilton.

Bunny Lake is Missing (1965 - B/W) - As a kid, I imagined this as an ultra-sensationalist weirdo mystery like an even schlockier Hammer psycho-thriller or a better spin on something like the soap opera-ish shenanigans of Picture Mommy Dead (1967), but it is a nicely made thriller, though Carol Lynley is slightly annoying.

The Liquidator (1966) - I've realised that I don't like 60s spy movies much, even Connery's Bonds leave me cold bar Diamonds Are Forever.  Even though this has Eric Sykes and Shirley Bassey, and Rod Taylor as a British secret agent with a bad American accent, it has no real plot, just a series of not very exciting vignettes about the Duke of Edinburgh, and it's lots of things going on, no real action, just a lot of sort of gags. But they're not funny. Nice Richard Williams titles that don't really fit.

Candy (1968)/Skidoo (1968) - the thing about these 60s square celebrities-go-apeshit movies is that they are terrible movies that instead become works of art, pieces of social history, less films, but ultra-expensive embarrassing home videos-cum-variety shows. Though the Magic Christian (1969), like Candy featuring Ringo Starr, is unlikeable in its self-indulgence, no matter how many stars, and fun little vignettes it throws. And possibly Manson family aside, another reason why Roman Polanski stopped dating mature women, in the fear they'd all be Yul Brynner.

To Catch A Spy (1971)/Otley (1968) - Dick Clement can't direct spy films, because he doesn't know should he go full Clement and Le Frenais or full spy glamour. I can see why people like Otley. But Tom Courtenay's kitchen sink Northerner spy doesn't quite fit in. It's trying to be both 60s fab and down and dirty Northern, mixing Le Carre with Dick and Ian's style.It needed to be more fantastical, perhaps. It's a mess. See also 1971's Gumshoe, which, though written by Neville Smith, is a similarly conflicted and messy mix of international espionage and kitchen sink British grimness. Juggernaut may be the best attempt at such a thing.

Also Permission to Kill (1975), promising but rather dull Euro-strollaround with Timothy Dalton, Dirk Bogarde and a post-Doctor Who pre-convention anecdote snorer John "Sgt. Benton" Levene, almost exactly like fellow Bogarde Euro-boreathon The Serpent (1973).

Loophole (1981) - Sheen and Finney in dull "can't believe it's not Euston" heist flick.

Also watched various episodes of 80s anthologies such as the late 80s Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Ray Bradbury Presents, Darkroom, the Hitchhiker, Tales from the Darkside, all with the same sort of "video-edited cable filler" feel, even those that don't have "tits" still feel like they are filler for softcore action, no matter how many good actors you throw. And even the Bradburies, no matter how many interesting ideas they throw, there's always an air of twee charming smugness. And 70s mid-Atlantic anthology Anthony Quayle's The Evil Touch (-1974) seems to be the same schtick of US "name" finding that Aussie people are either eccentric, murderous or just plain odd. 

Secret Ceremony (1968) - That awful Taylor woman who was married to Richard Burton and Mia Farrow were lesbian sort of adopted mother and daughter figures who go around England/Holland, in arty bobbins. "Mean" Robert Mitchum appears with a sort of British accent.

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium (1969) - tedious "all-star" supposed comedy from when Hollywood thought they could make Ian McShane the next Michael Caine fails to raise a laugh, bar a joke where US tourists travelling through London gawp at US-themed casinos, Safeway and Woolworths and comment about how exotic they are despite having all three back home. An almost unrecognisably slim and youthful Dame Pat Routledge appears.  Produced by David Wolper and directed by Mel Stuart and the feel is astonishingly similar, the bus scenes one long version of the boat scenes, but with annoying sitcom level dialogue and  despite a parade of cameos, it lacks the madness.

Deathtrap (1982) - pleasing but rather overlong Caine vs Reeve Sleuth-alike, may have worked better as an one hour anthology play. Neat ending, but it repeats itself. And it doesn't have as good a setting as Sleuth.

Also saw trailers for the too-OTT-for-its-own-good 99 and 44/100% Dead and Deadfall, the 1968 heist movie with Michael Caine, seems to be a prototype for all his boring pedestrian Sunday afternoon thrillers in the 80s, funded by dodgy Middle Easterners.