Saturday 15 December 2018

Mystery-drama-action-war - 38

The Street Fighter (1974) - Sonny Chiba actioner, nice, oddly chirpy atmosphere. But typical martial art, as are the sequels Return of the Street Fighter (1974 -adds WW2 flashbacks, a fight in the snow and a silly pigtailed sidekick. plus lots of neon) and the even more identikit The Streetfighter's Last Revenge (1974, with added shock ending involving an exploding car).

Golgo 13 - Kowloon Assignment (1977) - More typical Chiba. Set in Hong Kong. I'm sure some of the British characters are played by actors in whiteface and bad wigs.

China Girl (1987) - Abel Ferrara's Romeo + Juliet. Laughably unconvincing gangs not unlike the Lords of Death in Big Trouble in Little China (even James Hong pops up) ruin what could have been a sweet little romance. It feels like Ferrara's neon-licking artsploitation fetishes intruding on an Afterschool Special.

Salvador (1986) - Oliver Stone never grabs me. Plus James Woods' character comes across as such an arsehole. Not that Woods himself isn't horrible, but...

The Black Swan (1942)- Bright, breezy but it seems to have a short-term memory. Characters are interchangeable. Laird Cregar is good, but seems to forget what accent he's using.

Ground Zero (1987) -Intriguing but rather boring thriller about actual British nuclear tests in Australia that killed thousands of people, including over a hundred soldiers and at least thousands of Aborigines (who were scandalously, counted as wildlife amongst emus and kangaroos, not humans), featuring an incredibly odd performance by Donald Pleasence, playing a wheelchair-bound Northern English/Australian who uses a voice box and has to be carried about by Aborigines.

Enter The Dragon (1973) - A quarter-decent James Bond knockoff lifted by the fight choreography. Feels oddly insular.

North West Frontier (1959) - Attractive but bloated Rank epic. The fact most of the cast are stiff upper-lips, the likes of Wilfrid Hyde-White and Kenneth More doesn't help. Then again, it is a western.

Coming To America (1988) - A film I kind of love, even though I know most of it is utterly bland 80s Hollywood comedy, but the peripheral stuff, SoulGlo, Sexual Chocolate, the barbers, all that is just wonderful. Like Landis' sketch comedy mind working.

Codename Wildgeese (1984) - Lewis Collins plays a Bond-type sequestered to a bunch of mercenaries including Van Cleef, Borgnine and a dubbed Klaus Kinski as an Englishman named Charlton, who go out to  fight ex-Vietcong drugs smugglers and save some missionaries. Bar Kinski, everyone dubs themselves, but Collins sounds bored. Features a Filipino golf course. Some nice miniatures work, being a Margheriti film, and a gory priest-crucifixion, but it's utterly beneath everyone. Clearly a rushed production, judging by how much of the cast are uncredited.

Two Minute Warning (1976) - Maybe because I am Irish, but I don't get films about American football. Plus no one seems likeable, even if it's Heston or Jack Klugman AND David Janssen. The stampede is striking, but it feels much more TV movie-like than it should, and even at times like a bad De Palma imitation.

The Laughing Policeman (1973) - Derivative, dreary Walter Matthau cop movie, that feels both sunny and cold, a mixture of it being an adaptation of Sweden's super-tec Martin Beck, and its transplanted San Francisco setting. I find California as a setting itself rather uncinematic and washed-out.

The Big Red One (1980) - The extended version is overlong, but it looks gorgeous, even though at times, it;s a bit TV movie, but it was by Lorimar, so that's to be expected. Lee Marvin is solid especially when being kissed and wearing flowers in his helmet, The Irish stuff looks lovely, even though it clashes with the barren, sunny empty spaces of Israel used to double for North Africa and the rest of Europe.  Mark Hamill good, Robert Carradine a bit annoying, and some of the boys are interchangeable. Probably Fuller's best film, and may be one of the best films to ever shoot here.

The African Queen (1951) - It's well-made, but it's not an adventure movie, or it's not a typical adventure movie.  It's a romance basically set along a kind of amusement ride. It's about two people falling in love. The trouble is that it looks at times, much cheaper than it is.

Flame In The Streets (1961) - Earl Cameron is great, John Mills is great as the man who believes in equal rights for black men, but isn't quite ready for his daughter Sylvia Syms marrying immigrant Johnny Sekka, unlike his wife Brenda De Banzie, who is a convincingly horrid blue-rinse racist harridan. But it's not quite my sort of film. I'm not one for social realism.

The October Man (1947 - B/W) - Above average but still typical mystery thriller of the 40s. Not quite my thing, a bit Clemensy. John Mills is decent, as a mental patient mistaken as a murderer, when it was actually Mr. Grimsdale.
Also watched In Which We Serve (1942 - B/W) and We Dive At Dawn (1943 - B/W), the kind of war film I admire but not especially like.

Great Expectations (1946 -B/W) - I like the opening, but when Pip becomes John Mills, it loses that lovely gothic edge, and becomes generic Victoriana. Points for having black extras, though.

Oliver Twist (1948 - B/W) - Young Tony Newley is odd, at times he just looks like his older self's head on a child's body. Lean seems to forget about Oliver for most of the film. It's a well-made period drama, and there are good performances (though Guinness is a bit mired in caricature), but it's not quite my thing. It kind of wants to be Dickensian noir.

SO LONG AT THE FAIR (1950 - B/W) - Jean Simmons' brother David Tomlinson goes missing, she finds Dirk Bogarde, who should have gone missing. A Lady Vanishes do-over with a slightly underpowered ending, a romance disguised as a thriller, but lots of proto-Hammer gothic from  Tel Fisher.

Citizen Kane (1941 - B/W) - People forget how strange it is. It is basically a made for TV-style biopic AND a mockumentary. If it were made now, it'd be mundane, but in 1941, it's extraordinary. The interview segments ring a bit false, though.

The Third Man (1949 - B/W) - It's a well-made film, but Welles is barely there.And besides, not quite my thing. Joseph Cotten better as a character actor. It feels a little rote when it's him romancing.

MR. ARKADIN (1955  - b/w) - An utter mess from Welles.

Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948 - B/W) - Good performances, good setting, but it feels a bit too, hmm boysy for me, just a load of men going mad in a desert, a bit too much like a western.

The Street With No Name (1948 - B/W) - Odd noir, not my thing, despite Richard Widmark. Odd narration makes it sound like a bombastic parody. Supposedly classy but actually quite matronly scrubbers feature as eye candy.

The Steel Helmet (1951 - B/W) - I appreciate the effort, and it's well-made, but  it's cliched stuff of war comics, down to the little orphan who joins the platoon, gets killed, only to be reincarnated in the hands of Spielberg and Lucas..

13 Rue Madeleine (1947 - B/W) - James Cagney in odd noir, not my thing. Basically a documentary, spends too much time explaining stuff about Hitler like a PIF. Weird mix of locations of varying levels of conviction. Sam Jaffe is fun, but it's hard to tell what characters' nationalities are intended to be.

Mrs. Miniver (1942 - B/W) -It does tug the heartstrings, but the whole setting doesn't look British. The rose growing competition looks like it was held in the Los Angeles Arboretum. And it is quite drawn out. Teresa Wright seems to die twice.

My Name Is Julia Ross (1947 - B/W) - Atmospherically shot but pretty much Clemens-esque noir, that fails to instill a completely British atmosphere.

Lured (1947 - B/W) - Douglas Sirk serial killer in London romp, rendered baffling by the presence of Lucille Ball in the female lead opposite the likes of George Sanders and Karloff, so it ends up feeling like a bad comedy than a noir.  Confusingly, there's a character called Lucy, but Lucy doesn't play her.

Night and the City (1950 - B/W) - Peculiar Anglo-American boxing/wrestling noir, more European than American. Herbert Lom and Francis L. Sullivan are interesting, but it's a weird hodgepodge.

The Window (1949 - B/W) - No one believes that Disney brat Bobby Driscoll saw a murder. Documentary-like noir, but not a very interesting plot or execution. The remake, Cloak and Dagger (1984) with Hnery Thomas, directed by Richard Franklin is much more interesting, adding Cold War and Walter Mitty/Reggie Perrin-like fantasies, and Dabney Coleman as Jack Flack! And this doesn't have an imaginary superspy who is also an astral projection of the boy's father (in this film, Arthur Kennedy, alas not playing a superspy).

The Fat Man (1951 - B/W) - Nonsensical noir by William Castle, early lead for Rock Hudson, based on a radio spinoff of the Thin Man, now better known for the tie-in single by Fats Domino. Features famed clown Emmett Kelly, but fails to make much of its circus setting.

Casablanca (1942 - B/W) - I have to say I am more interested in the side cast than Bogart and Bergman.

Thursday 6 December 2018

Comedy - 27

Gregory's Girl (1981) - It's nice, but the football stuff kind of disarms me. I prefer Forsyth's other stuff.

Without A Clue (1988) - An agreeable romp.

Hot Millions (1968) - Peter Ustinov and Maggie Smith in a confusing transatlantic heist movie. Banking boredom. But there is Lynda Baron. So, that's why Arkwright was so fond of Nurse Gladys. Written by Ustinov. It feels quite cheap, money spent on Karl Malden, Bob Newhart and Cesar Romero, so it feels a bit ITC. And lots of stuff for Ustinov. It stops for romance between Smith and Ustinov.

How To Murder Your Wife (1966) - Some of the visuals are appealing, but the actual plot isn't. Jack Lemmon's character is a hideously unlikeable schlub who should just have stuck to his guns. I can see why this is Basil Fawlty's favourite film, and not in a good way.

 The Road to Wellville (1994) - Typical Alan Parker awfulness. Tries to be a comedy, but despite jolly performances, there are no jokes. Very PBS.

Beat The Devil (1953  - B/W) - Weird to see Peter Lorre directly billed above Edward "Zastor from Meglos" Underdown (a kind of poor man's Le Mesurier, except he did play one of the official military superiors in Dad's Army). A typical Europudding. Didn't find it funny. Ensemble nonsense, excuse for a holiday. Trivial. Bogie is old and ill.

Secret Agent (1936 - B/W) - Still-closeted Gielgud as a romantic lead, Peter Lorre as some kind of gypsy. Odd mix of light comedy and thrills from Hitchcock that doesn't stick in the memory.

Some Like It Hot (1959 - B/W) - It's alright, but it's not my sense of humour. Maybe, because it's such a routine concept.  And I find Joe E. Brown an acquired taste, maybe because of his resemblance to Joe Dolan's brother/manager, Ben. Maybe because I'm not interested in the plot that the film doesn't capture me.

A Canterbury Tale (1944 - B/W) - It's charming, but it's quite an acquired taste. Sgt. John Sweet, an actual American soldier isn't great, especially put up to Charles Hawtrey as a stationmaster and the likes of Dennis Price. His "aw shucks!" delivery is quite grating, but then he wasn't an actor. Burgess Meredith, who script-edited the film was original choice, and of course, he would have been great. It is beautifully made, though.

The Loved One (1965 - B/W) - I do want to like this film, but Robert Morse is miscast as the English lead, it's all over the place, it's basically a proto-Altman feel coated in Britishness. Paul Williams aged 25 is somewhat convincing as a 12 year old, or as a lesbian. It's another Mad, Mad, Mad series of cameos. Oh, look, it's Gielgud. It's Robert Morley. It's Roddy McDowall (who should have been the lead - he doesn't quite convince as an American). Liberace? Dana Andrews! Rod Steiger!

Holiday Camp (1947 - B/W)  - Odd film, working class British sentimentality isn't my thing, but this adds the dubious curiosity of Dennis Price as a Neville Heath-type deluded sex killer amongst the Huggetts. It does get quite grim when it is supposed to be jolly, but that is what being in a holiday camp is, with more overwrought romance.  Touching performance by Esmond Knight, who was actually blind.

The Huggetts Abroad (1949 - B/W) -  Baffling sequel with Jack Warner and co. Teenage Petula Clark sings a song in a babyish voice.

Laughter in Paradise (1957 - B/W) - Sporadically amusing, light but not particularly hilarious comedy with Alastair Sim and George Cole.
Left, Front and Centre features a horror film called "Spider Man from Mars" starring Carl Martini, Gilda Geve and Elaine Lang, and Eamonn Andrews and Gilbert Harding as themselves. Folly To Be Wise (1953- B/W) is a rather wearing military farce in a church hall, despite Miles Malleson and young Janet Brown before the Thatcher years.
 The Green Man (1956 - B/W) is baffling, and despite a good cast and a nice, explosive conclusion, it meanders too long to be rendered almost nonsensical.
Geordie (1954) is actually quite fun (at first), with Paul Young as the titular wee lad who becomes large Bill Travers thanks to Francis De Wolff as Charles Atlas. Weird seeing Stanley Baxter in an actual old film, and not a parody of one. Bill Travers is physically perfect, but a little too stoic to be the elder Paul Young, and he doesn't look 21, but he does the naif thing well, perhaps a little too well. There's a vintage WH Smith. Australia is badly recreated. But it's a bit tonally weak. It's a light drama not a comedy.

The Goose Steps Out (1942 - B/W) - Interesting to see John Williams before becoming Hollywood's go to Brit posho with Will Hay (costarring with Charles Hawtrey). I have to say I find pre-war Ealing comedies infinitely more interesting, and this has interesting things. I find Will Hay a better lead than say Alec Guinness, and there's jokes using models and FX. Unrecognisably slim Peter Ustinov is forgettable. Also has a young Barry Morse, long before disbelieving Richard Kimble or propping up endless tax shelter nonsenses.

The Kid (1921 - B/W) - I'm not quite a fan of Chaplin. I find him sentimental, though I admire his technical ingenuity. The fight at the end is fun, with the flying bits and lots of feathers.

City Lights (1931  - B/W) - The rubbish picking scene and the boxing match are fun, but again I can see why Chaplin loved Norman Wisdom.

The Gold Rush (1925 - B/W) - Lots of visual variation. Silent comedy is probably more akin to animation than modern cinema.

The Circus (1930 - B/W) - There's a clown with a bucket on his head.

A Woman of Paris (1925 - B/W) - Chaplin directs. Nice romantic drama, but not quite my thing. It ust passes the time.

Modern Times (1936 - B/W) - Some fun innovation with video screens, but then it's all "Smile" and sentiment.

The Great Dictator (1940 - B/W) - Some of the overblown ranting is a bit much, but it is all for show. Probably Chaplin's best.

Monsieur Verdoux (1946 - B/W) - Strange, somewhat stagey tonal mess.

Limelight (1952- B/W) - I admire it, but not quite my film.

 A King In New York (1957 - B/W) - Ditto, like a sentimental romcom flipside of The Mouse That Roared. Noo Yawk Sid James cameo. Not to be confused with Abel Ferrara's too blue music video gangster trash.

Tried Sunset Boulevard, but noir doesn't grab me, and I find Gloria Swanson's performance slightly too much of a caricature. And

Horror-fantasy - 43

The Sentinel (1977)- God bless you Michael Winner. One of the most insane and joyous and entertaining horror films of the 70s. Actually makes one want to live with notorious murderers. And has a horror film ever had a better cast?

House of Wax (1953) - "Suicides - just like a woman they always have to have the last word." One of Price's best performances, though the whole masked killer stuff is hokey though of course it's just surface, and the period drama stuff colourful but anodyne. But the setting is great. Doesn't the spare head look more like Nanette Newman?
Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) though may be better, if only because of the revolutionary process in which it was shot in, and having the hero be a woman, in Glenda Farrell's jolly reporter, who helps rescue Fay Wray from Lionel Atwill.

Etoile (1989) - Ponderous, overlong, dreary fairytale-giallo starring Jennifer Connelly, who is lovely,  and Charles Durning, who does his best, even when dubbed with Italian, hamming it up. Sub-Argento ballet themes run through. It does look expensive, though. The male lead is annoying.

The Evictors (1979) - One of Charles B. Pierce's exploitation-wannabe prestige pictures. Looks expensive, has a decent cast - Jessica Harper, Michael Parks, Vic Morrow - but  it is slow, and nothing much happens in the farmhouse setting. The film is very classy, so it doesn't  work when it goes all sleazy.

Deliverance (1972) - The world doesn't feel convincing. Because it's Boorman, even though it is Atlanta, everything looks like Wicklow (Neil Jordan has the same problem). Ned Beatty being raped is a sight, in his diaper. But everything is underplayed. The dialogue is incomprehensible. The killers don't feel like a community.

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) - Unenjoyable, cheesy proto-pilot for Irwin Allen's series, with a bigger cast, including women. But it's a slog. Gave up and fast-forwarded.

Battle Of The Worlds (1961) - Silly Italian sci-fi about the end of the world, despite a cute dog longing for its owner Claude Rains at the end. Yes, Claude Rains is in this.

Wild In The Streets (1968) - Rather silly hippie nonsense, despite a prophetic ending and a decent Shelley Winters turn. Christopher Jones is annoying, but the end theme is funky.

The Ghost in The Invisible Bikini (1966) - Nonsensical Beach Party spinoff, typical dire sitcommy hijinks, with added Old Dark House gorilla and ghost stuff, and a slumming Karloff and Rathbone. Lots of Corman Poe props reused.

Digby The Biggest Dog In The World (1973)- Is Dinsdale Landen doing a Graham Chapman impression? He's very annoying in that sort of silly Python military officer way. Milo O'Shea's hair is astonishing. Joe McGrath's direction captures the wonder of a giant cucumber, but there's lots of weirdness. The crazy rapey chimp. Jim Dale eating dog food. Milligan treating Dale as a dog.The whole panto-horse background. It's a tonal clusterfuck. Is the Dulux product placement a deliberate reference? The trouble is it's very stagey. Milligan especially is doing a silly German accent, and he is entertaining, but it goes from sub-Children's Film Foundation to giant scientist B-movie. John Bluthal is miscast as Norman Rossington's thug sidekick. It's a bit like the Goodies. The visual jokes are brilliant, but the stuff joining them is variable. It threatens to turn into some indulgent all-star comic dirge, but it feels so odd. Some bits look cheaper than others (the weird bit where it skirts a Concorde test flight). There's that odd musical breakfast dance with the Playboy bunny.  That circus scene with an uncredited Charlie Atom seems to prefigure Octopussy. Harry Towb does a Cockney accent. Bob Todd s a flamenco bandit knife-thrower is something. It takes a while to start,  but once it does, it becomes increasingly mental. Why  are the Russian characters speaking in Russian with Russian subtitles? Someone needs to tell the story of this film. Because it is barmy. It reminds me of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in many ways - in that it's someone who is not by trade a maker of family films trying to beat Disney, and doing it, I don't want to say "wrong", but doing it in a way that these sort of things are not supposed to be done. Milligan does drop out of sight halfway though.

Alison's Birthday (1981) - Though theatrically released, this Aussie horror was coproduced by 7 Network, and has that grainy film insert look commonplace in Aussie kids' TV. John Bluthal (RIP) plays an Aussie suburban satanist with a Stonehenge in his garden. Feels very anthology-ish. With a "trapped in your own grandmother's body" twist.

Day Of The Triffids (1962) - Atmospherically shot attack scenes aside, it's a slog. Howard Keel is rubbish.  Yes, he was a great singer. But he has no thespian presence. Some great panoramic shots. But it gets quite schmaltzy and confused. A treatment a la The Day The Earth Caught Fire would have been better. Having scenes of attacks scored by jazz seems to be making fun of the Triffids.

Invaders From Mars (1953) - Not traditionally good, weird dreamlike sense of reality merged with stock footage thrills. Seemingly a no-budget thing until the final revelation. Though the actual Martian stooges are terrible.Very Public Information Film-ish.

Black Zoo (1963) - A strange hybrid. Michael Gough in a Hollywood vehicle, by regular producer Herman Cohen, set and shot in California, with the likes of Elisha Cook supporting. Interesting but not good. Gough feels kind of lost, although it is interesting to see a zoo with multiracial guests, very odd to see a horror film from this era with black faces that are not colonial or tribal folk. It doesn't feel quite as lurid as the British based films Cohen did. Gough eats tripe. His domestic scenes with soap star Jeanne Cooper don't click the same way he and Margo Johns do in Konga, even though he has weirdly out of place passionate love scenes. It feels like it is trying to be a proper Hollywood film. It does have some production value, compared to the Corman Poes. It's just weird when you see Gough getting angry at Elisha Cook, rather than, say, Michael Ripper or Sam Kydd. and smacking him to a pulp before feeding him to a lion. Towards the end, it gets a bit crazier, when the nearest to that previously was Gough playing an organ to a lion. There's a gothic swamp funeral that's very Poe-ish, thanks to Floyd Crosby's cinematography, with a big cat parade, and a panther doing a double-take. They really seem to try to make Gough "the new Vincent Price". There's a tiger-skin psychic soul transfer.   "Beloved wife, where are you going?" There's a divorce over chimps, but the ending doesn't have a kick. It's a catfight in the rain, and some childhood trauma involving his young sidekick being his son, whose mother was eaten by a lion, and somehow his second wife was never told of this, despite him being around the house for years. There's no savaging by lion.   This is a true Monogram picture.  The same gorilla suit from Konga and The Ghost In The Invisible Bikini and Hillbillys In A Haunted House turns up. In all, it's very odd, but there's too much Hollywood melodrama.

Rampage (1963) - Unexciting adventure-melodrama with Robert Mitchum and Jack Hawkins in the jungle. Sabu plays a 40 year old "jungle boy".  Written by Alan Caillou. Not a fantasy but similar enough to Black Zoo, in having a more suitable climax where a big cat gets released onto Berlin. That's the one highlight, but it comes way too late. Hawkins becomes quite deranged.

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) - I'm sorry, but Corman's Poe cycle tends to leave me cold. They feel very sloppy, cheap TV sitcom-level sets, Vincent Price something looking mournful for the other actors who unlike him, do not fit at all in period gothic settings and costumes. Feels cheaper than it is, astoundingly.

Tales of Terror (1962) - A dodgy adaptation of Morella, Price probably has never looked better. But it feels very stilted. Despite a joyful Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone.

The Raven (1963)  - Initially, it's quite entertaining, with Price and the winged Lorre sniping at each other. But it's only really driven by its cast, with Karloff, Hazel Court and Jack Nicholson miscast as the medieval hero. It's a sub-Disney medieval comedy.

The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1963) - The titular form of Tony Randall's quasi-Time Lord magician is kind of excruciating, with his "velly solly" acting, even though his makeup is quite good. But the character is of course merely a front. He drops the accent, pretty quickly, and soon gives way to gravitas. Randall apparently became ashamed of his film, and yes, I can see why for the initial Dr. Lao (but most Chinese magicians were phonies, and the script heavily implies he's not Chinese at all), but he's a decent Merlin. It's a bit tedious at times, typical western comedy, but his performances are so odd at times. The serpent is great fun. You can't help but like it, even if some of it is a bit too goofy, but Randall is extraordinary.

The Best House In London (1969) - Denis Norden-Carlo Ponti coproduction, very odd.  Music conducted but not composed by Eric Rogers, that sounds vaguely Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em-ish. It has an extraordinary cast - David Hemmings, George Sanders, Warren Mitchell, John Bird, William Rushton, Bill Fraser, Maurice Denham, Wolfe Morris (as a tearful Chinese opium dealer who seems at first to be a cameo, but is actually the big bad), Martita Hunt, Hugh Burden as Tennyson, Peter Jeffrey and Thorley Walters as not-Holmes and Watson, and even Joe Lynch as a Welsh copper but it's awful. It's a giant-budgeted, X-rated steampunk sex comedy that is written by Denis Norden, filmed on the sets of Oliver, filled with cameos from fictional and historical characters,  including Clement Freud who isn't very good, but then he allegedly murdered Madeleine McCann.  The nearest thing to a joke is when little Emmeline Pankhurst sings, "my pretty little pussy". I kind of miss when the British film industry could make something like this, even though it's astrocious. The trouble is, the brothel stuff is the main focus, and that's just tonally awkward. Some of it looks very realistic, but most isn't.  There's a scene that is basically the ending of Carry On Up The Khyber. It almost gets good towards the end, but it's a slog.  It descends into an orgy of leery tits, that's quite shocking for the time.

 Quest for Fire (1981 - Nice mammoth, beautiful visuals, but the cavemen performances by the likes of Ron Perlman and Everett McGill are a bit OTT, though Exotic Adrian Street is one of them, and he was the most OTT wrestler in Britain.

Dangerous Game (1988)- Nonsensical and gaudy Aussie film, by future Hollywood hack Stephen Hopkins. The theme is Irish Eyes is Smiling.  Shot like a Fanta ad. Over-stylised.

The Shout (1978) - Not a fan of relationship dramas, but this is arty and up its own bollocks, despite the intriguing noise Bates makes, plus I find Tim Curry needs the world around him to be heightened to make it work (at least in live action, his Nigel Thornberry is glorious, but I digress).

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (1972) - Amdram theatrics with a dodgy zombie. Atmospheric nonsense.

Microwave Massacre (1983) - Well-photographed but idiotic comedy starring the baffling presence of funeral roast circuit favourite Jackie Vernon. Mostly drinking in bars.

The Golden Child (1986) - It's utter crud. Charles Dance is great. But the plot makes no sense. Murphy is grating. Charlotte Lewis - why is she playing a Chinese/Tibetan character? Wouldn't it have made more sense to cast her as Indo-Nepalese? It feels at times it wants to be Carpenter, but can't.

Heavy Metal (1981) - Most of it disinterests me. I love the Bernstein soundtrack, but not the New Wave bits. The early stuff with all the tits, not my thing at all, very crude, the space station bit has a fun punchline, the bomber bit is nicely NFB-esque, and John Candy's Den voiceover is charming, but nah.

Rat (1999/2000) - Actually quite fun. Pete Postlethwaite and Imelda Staunton make convincing Dubliners. Steve Barron directs, with a Wesley Burrowes script, Burrowes for once dealing with urban environs. There is some of Burrowes' odd touches, like odd names ("Phelim Spratt", "Conchita Flynn") and a detour to Glenroe country, with a trip to a Dunlavin maggot factory, but there's a good cast, though the to-be-expected Doobalin/Fair City types. But it is a good fantasy film made in Ireland, which is rare. And by the Hensons too. And there's a showband soundtrack with Joe Dolan and the Royal Showband, plus mentions of the Late Late Show.

Nothing Lasts Forever (1984) - Peculiar, long-unreleased b/w/colour oddity, trying valiantly to feel like a 30s film but feels like a weird retro-oddity in the line of Crime Wave and Forbidden Zone. And for that reason, it doesn't quite register. Interesting cast - Zach Galligan, Paul Rogers, Lauren Tom, Bill Murray, Eddie Fisher, Sam Jaffe. 

Mysterious Island (1929 - B/W) - Primitive, ambitious but mostly ropey Verne adap that makes Captain Nemo Lionel Barrymore's Russian Count Dakkar. Some stunning underwater scenes, though. 

Psycho (1960 - B/W) - I know this is sacrilege, but I find it a flat film. I know it was made with a TV budget, but it feels undramatic. Obviously, the idea was new and brave, but aside from the standout moments, it feels like a TV movie. Perkins would be great later, but the idea is silly. Bloch was basically America's Brian Clemens. It's stupid rather than daft, and everyone underplays it. It's Hitchcock trying to be William Castle, but it's even more ordinary than any of Castle's ventures.

A Bucket of Blood (1959 - B/W)/ - Corman comedy. I must admit I am not a fan of his directorial efforts. This and Little Shop Of Horrors (1960 - B/W) are goofy would-be comedies limited by budget, time, and cast. There's ideas and energies, but they feel overlong and idiotic.

Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957 - B/W) - More Corman no-budgetry. Tedious, bar some interesting monsters.

Harvey (1950 - B/W) - Yes, it's quite charming, but it's not my kind of comedy. Plus it seems confused as to what the concept actually is. But, still - Wallace Ford!

Them! (1954 - B/W) - Edmund Gwenn and the giant ants are fun, but this sort of 1950s sci-fi never does it for me. Routine, and I think gung-ho Americana doesn't quite sit with me. There's no real variation.

THE TWONKY (1953 - B/W)  - Ironic a film about the dangers of TV should feel like a bad sitcom. "My Mother The Telly".

The Thing from Another World (1951 - B/W) - I find it slightly too gung-ho (well, it is Howard Hawks?), and wouldn't they be in woolly jumpers rather than uniforms? Some interesting visuals, but it has been done better elsewhere. It's pretty standard, done well, but it's standard.

Red Planet Mars (1952 - B/W) - WTF? Typical anti-Commie nonsense. Peter Graves plays a father of a pre-teen son age 26.

Scrooge (1951 - B/W)- Sim is great, but as a friend pointed out, it needed more darkness. Too jolly for its own good. Some direction more like Laughton's in Night of the Hunter may have helped.  Has a  blind boy with a sign reading blind. It's not spooky enough, even though there is a creepy shot of a laughing automata. Francis De Wolff steals the show. Miles Malleson weirdly cast against type as Old Joe, on screen with Ernest Thesiger!

An Inspector Calls (1954 - b/w) - Sim is great,  but the attempts to open up the play kind of diminish it.  The time-loop twist is a punch, but it'd be better as a half-hour.  But everyone is too posh and unlikeable. The chair being alive is odd, at the end.

The Raven (1935 - B/W) - Basically an hour of Karloff and Lugosi torturing each other. Proto-torture porn. Enlivened by nice set design.

Rewatching Night of the Hunter. Never copped that the bloke who gets executed is Peter Graves. Plus, is Steptoe a more common name than I thought?

Rewatched the Princess Bride, a film which despite a wonderful Peter Falk, I can't quite stand. It's too gloosy, too American.

Thursday 11 October 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHANDU THE MAGICIAN (1932 - B/W) - Ambitious timekiller, now old hat. Lugosi as serial baddie in Egypt. Has great fun with astral projection and "little people".

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bought in Network sale.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 10 October 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941 - B/W) - Much more professional, now studios now how to use sound. Not quite as primal as the 1931 one. The MGM production adds sentiment. Spencer Tracy doesn't bother for the accent. Not quite a fan of Jekyll or Hyde, as a character, in general. They can get rather silly. This is an example. Tracy sounds a bit Oirish as Hyde. There is some odd psychedelic hallucinations. "Ever so gay".

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 1 October 2018

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

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

2017 c.300

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 22 September 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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