Saturday 27 January 2018

Quick round of reviews. -10 ex. Death Line and Phase IV, Alice, Alabama, Dead Calm, Reflection, Valerie, Dead Calm, American Way, Nasty Rabbit, Death Line, Phase IV, inc. ref to No Blade of Grass

Alabama's Ghost (1973) - Insane tosh. Badly dubbed gran-svestites, wheelchair-bound one-eyed magicians, Scots-Irish-Scouse celtic weirdos, funk music, like a variety show intermingled with voodoo-Nazi stuff, Cockney scientists, robots,  a vanishing elephant, very strange, everything badly post-synced, and then come the  giant monster jaws. Indescribable, even when watching it. From the director of Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973),  an inappropriately scored feast of nonsense where a female psychic warns a mysteriously backward modern but very Western town of a sheep carcass monster, which is attacked by cowboys.

Alice in Wonderland (1933 - B/W) - The likes of Cary Grant, W.C. Fields and Gary Cooper are mostly unrecognisable in mangy animal suits, trapped in a godawful panto, with Harman-Ising animation thrown in, and live action scenes seemingly constructed to look like weird Eastern European stop motion animation.

A Reflection of Fear (1972) - American-posing-as-Canadian horror with Robert Shaw. Very Brian Clemens-y. Slow, doesn't quite make use of its interesting setting. Sondra Locke age 28 plays a fifteen year old girl, or so we think. Needless to say, it's what those in the theatrical biz call "a trouser part". A bit pervy. Obsession with genitals. But it has an interesting atmosphere.

Valerie And Her Week of Wonders (1970) - Colourful, beguiling but somewhat sinister-feeling Czech fairytale, like a dubbed BBC summer filler made by weirdos. Nice gothic costume party, but the underage "girl becoming a woman" stuff is icky, despite an interesting vampire character.  And Granny's makeup is shite. She still looks like a young woman, a young vampire with hair in a bun. Nice soundtrack.

Dead Calm (1989) - A passable half-hour anthology idea overstretched. Billy Zane more annoying than anything.

The American Way (1986) - Overlong British-playing-American music video post-apocalyptic rock opera shite with Dennis Hopper. Awful.

Lou Bunin's Alice in Wonderland (1949 - B/W) -  A strange live-action stop motion hybrid. Carol Marsh, then 21 is too mature as Alice, making the overtones of Carroll's fascination with Alice (Carroll here played by future Navy Lark-er Stephen Murray) rather inappropriate-seeming. The animation is pleasingly grotesque, but Marsh is also too tall to fit in with them. It doesn't work, especially as it then goes into light opera. Misspells Joyce Grenfell's name in the credits as Gronfell.

The Nasty Rabbit (1964 - B/W) - Arch Hall Jr. vehicle, like a group of mental patients decided to make a Cold War epic and a sub-Disney comedy and a western all in the same film. Unfunny yet beguiling.

Rewatched Death Line (-1972), and I like the atmosphere, but I find it spends too much time with the annoying youth characters, especially David Ladd, who isn't a good actor (well, he is a convincingly spoilt brat in The Wild Geese, but...). Obviously, there's a reason why he started acting (your dad was a big star), and why he kept acting (your brother's a big producer). Plus it is slightly too slow. It might have made a better anthology segment.

Also rewatched Phase IV (-1974) - Very much a standard TV movie concept, and bar the few psychedelic detours Saul Bass gives us, is rather dry, one of these sci-fi films too stuck up its arse in one idea, slow, cold, and though the soundtrack is nice,  it is very much a half-hour idea stretched out. Devoid of much of the sporadic excitement other mostly boring insect attack films have. Everyone seems to be on drugs, especially Michael Murphy. It seems just an excuse for insect footage, but they already made The Hellstrom Chronicle. Stars Nigel Davenport and Lynne Frederick reunited from Cornel Wilde's strange, chronologically muddled and quite depressing John Christopher adap No Blade of Glass (1970), also not a great film, despite Wendy Richard as a biker bitch and Roger Whittaker singng the theme tune.

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