Wednesday 14 February 2018

Quickies again - 10- more SF, Devil's Rain, Brainstorm, Shock Waves, Woody Allen, Shadows and Fog

Under the Mountain (-1981) - TVNZ "fun", pigtailed brat in CFF-esque capers with a beach buggy versus mud-worm people. Rather silly, in a Tomorrow People-esque way. One of those kids' serials that hasn't aged well, see also Chocky (-1984).

Secret Adventures of Jules Verne (-1999-2000) - Sci-Fi Channel/CBC TV series, cheap Young Indiana Jones esque nonsense with Canadian-accented Frenchmen in Paris/Montreal, Michael Praed as Fogg. Cheaply shot on video. Imaginative, but it's all very cheesy.  The curse of stupidity that most 90s SF TV suffered from (Eerie, Indiana was decent, but that was a kid's show).

Salvage-1 (=1979) - Pilot for a short-lived series, folksy Andy Griffith plays himself essentially (as he always did - apart from A Face In The Crowd), mostly a "zany"-annoying comedy, doesn't make the most of its junkyard moon-rocket recovery plot. Saddled with a mostly unappealing supporting cast. If it had been British, it'd have worked in a Wallace and Gromit way, but the American 70s US TV mix of cornball folksy types and workmanlike action doesn't do the idea justice. The main characters don't even go to the moon, they leave it to the bland support.

Planets Against Us (1962) - Italian Day The Earth Stood Still, photographed like a bad Italian b/w cop show.
Again, 50s-style SF isn't my forté. Maybe, watching too much Doctor Who weaned me off that sort. For example, the Blob (1958) looks good and has a great monster, but it is too routine, especially with its ancient teens (even if one is McQueen), and the 80s one has good visuals and some good ideas (the crazy pastor), but the 80s teen angle doesn't really interest me.

The Deadly Spawn (1983) - Fun monsters, good effects for a $20,000 budget, amateurish acting, and a lead character who reads Denis Gifford books. The best sort of low budget horror or SF - if it has a good monster or setting (at best, good monster + good setting + good cast = decent horror it works, though giant monsters are usually formulaic. All other stuff is mediocre, to say the least.

Brainstorm (1983) - Boring VR thriller, but not even this is an excuse to murder your wife. Douglas Trumbull's future as a theme park attraction designer shows. A few interesting visual camera tricks don't make a film.

Black Moon (1975) - More Louis Malle "art", i.e. mooning over a teenage girl,bathed in dubious atmosphere. Lots of pervy shots including his heroine looking over laughing kids running about naked like Ken Russell did as a child (apparently), but in a field with cows. When I watch a film, I don't want to see kids' arses. There is a nice atmosphere and some nice visuals, a sort of folk horror mood, but the kids' arses ruin it.

Devil's Rain (1975) - Despite goat-Borgnine and melting Travolta, very much a poor cousin to Race With The Devil (1975). It's slow, confused, padded out with a flashback involving a badly-dubbed Claudio Brook as a Puritan, and dead characters come back alive. WTF?

Idaho Transfer (1973) - Couldn't make it through this godawful hippiedippy Fonda futura. Shot on video, I think.

Tried watching more Woody Allen, and I can't stand his work, not because of the rumours, just never liked him, that's all. Shadows and Fog (1992) is nicely shot, despite my sort of ambivalence towards noir/expressionism. But it feels like a 90s indie film in 30s expressionist drag.

Shock Waves (1977) - Barely any Cushing, a typically wasted regional exploiter. The underwater zombie premise is neat, but little else.

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