Tuesday 11 September 2018

1 TV - 38 + 8 refs = 46 - Red Dawn, Creeping Flesh, Kusturica, King Kong, La Boum, Lassiter, Amityville, late 80s British genre stufff, Leo the Last, Weird Mob, Caprice, Tower of Evil, The Big Fix, UHF, Happy Mother's Day, Love George, UHF, Separate Tables, Bergman, Cape Fear, Tarzan, Danny Kaye, Road Games, Road to... The Fan, Eyewitness, Madigan, Eye of the Cat, major studio thrillers

St. Helen's (-1981) - A made for  HBO (with some odd money from the BBC) disaster movie starring Art Carney with a bombastic score by Goblin coupled with a bunch of country songs with lyrics "Here's to you, Harry Truman, you show the pride of a great human!". Tim Thomerson has a moustache. Endlessly padded, the final ten minutes are all second unit with voiceover. It's bland as hell. Features dialogue like "you know the bulge is growing".

The Big Freeze (-1993) - Bob Hoskins, Eric Sykes, Donald Pleasence, John Mills, Spike Milligan as Hitler in some Finnish coproduction that feels like an episode of Chucklevision.  Bland. Peter Skellern cameos.

The Love Child (1988) - Peter Capaldi does his godawful Cockney accent, in a insubstantial play.

The Creeping Flesh (1973) - One of the last Lee/Cushing teamups. From Tigon, sadly it's a mess. It's basically a serious version of the Oddbod subplot from Carry On Screaming with bits from Horror Express and a Hands of the Ripper-type female antagonist. Nothing really fits. It's slow, and doesn't quite make sense. Like The Asphyx (1972), a botched attempt at doing a tragedy, when it is otherwise so silly.

Red Dawn (1984) - It's a mess. Milius adds some intelligence, but bar Swayze, the cast are interchangeable. Nice to see Vladek Sheybal turn up. It kind of halts. It's a good half hour too long. A good cast is wasted in small roles.

Black Cat, White Cat (1998) - Emir Kusturica makes the same film again. Features Yugoslavian Colin Blakely (with hair curlers) and Jimmy Nail. Casablanca refs. Same tacky quirkiness.

King Kong vs Godzilla (1962) - Padded out, apart from a few accidentally comical bits - mainly the smoking, brownfaced Japanese Skull Island natives and the impressive squid attack, typical Toho nonsense.

The Amityville Horror (1979) - It's hokey as hell, hard to follow, very TV movie-like, Margot Kidder even though she is playing the mum of three kids is put in very jail bait-y outfits and pigtails, it's overlong, it's almost saved by Rod Steiger's over-acting. And of course it's all based on a lie.

La Boum (1980) - Syrupy. soundtracked by Vladimir Cosma. Baby Sophie Marceau in a sort of fully French Little Romance. A BIT PROBLEMATIC. With a voyeuristic nana. The mother works as an artist for Pif comics (a French comic that included such characters as Corto Maltese and the previously covered-on-here Docteur Justice).It just goes on and on. Now, just want to see teen Marceau as her character from The World Is Not Enough, Star Cops-era David Calder as her henpecked da trying to handle his terrorist teen kid, and "Bobby Carlyle", as he was in The Bill.

Lassiter (1984) - Tom Selleck, Bob Hoskins, Warren Clarke in very televisual Golden Harvest wartime heist caper. A bit of a Nutty Hijack. Begins with Harry Towb as some sort of Cockney-American-Jew bedding Belinda Mayne, who gets promptly sexually asaulted/pickpocketed by our hero. Jane Seymour appears in her second British-based heist movie with a moustachioed American lead.  Nicholas Bond-Owen pops up somewhere.

Electric Dreams (1984) - Bland, MTV-influenced romcom, faux-American setting hence the likes of Don Fellows, Miriam Margolyes and Patsy Smart. Produced by Virgin.Steve Barron directs.

Forbidden Sun (1989) - Steve Barron's mum and Robin Hardy's Greek minotaur-ish nonsense.

Perfect Murder (1988) - Stellan Skarsgard and Naseeruddin Shah in a tonally all over the place, blandly put together Merchant-Ivory action thriller. Madhur Jaffrey costars.

Consuming Passions (1988) - Palin/Jones anthology play remade for TV.  It has the feeling of an ad. Weird seeing a tarted up Prunella Scales as the secretary of Freddie Jones, Tyler Butterworth trying to be like his father. The trouble is the chocolates look cheap, the plot is far-fetched beyond belief (wouldn't there be cloth in the sweets?) Clearly padded beyond belief. The bits with Vanessa Redgrave are sub-Confessions. Everything's a little too broad. Redgrave is godawful. There is no real call for her character to be there. Pryce is a little too OTT.

Dream Lover (1986) - Depressing dream-thriller with Kristy McNichol.

The Grotesque (1995) - Alan Bates and Mr. Sting pop up in baffling old dark house thriller. Lost in whimsy.

Leo the Last (1970) - Boorman tries to make a Red Triangle film, erotic surrealist shite. Ram John Holder turns up.  Elements of the Barry McKenzie film and Bed Sitting Room.

They're A Weird Mob  (1966) - Michael Powell-directed Australian comedy.  Not funny. Lead Walter Chiari is a vacuum. Cast includes John Meillon, Chips Rafferty, Anne "Helen Daniels" Haddy and Skippy stars Ed Devereaux and Tony Bonner.

The Trygon Factor(1966) - Stewart Granger and Susan Hampshire in Avengers-ish krimi. Due to the heavy Brit content and director Cyril Frankel, an Avengers/ITC vet, there's a definite ITV on-film adventure series vibe, rather than a German vibe.

Caprice (1967) - Doris Day is mutton dressed up as lamb in this spy vehicle. Richard Harris plays an eejit in Backlot Paris, with a hairstyle that makes him look like his fellow Bull, Niall Toibin. Dated, sexist mod nonsense. Features Batman product placement. Edward Mulhare plays the toff boss/secret big bad, his sidekick/cover being chemist Ray Walston, who it turns out is a transvestite who dresses up like Old Mother Riley, and was in love with Day's dad. Because trans = murderous psychopath.

Tower of Evil (1972) - All-ageing star horror. Robin Askwith does American. Resembles an ITC TV series with blood and nudity. Derek Fowlds does Roddy McDowall. It's an 80s slasher but made in the style of the Persuaders. A mess, especially with the revelation it is some sort of Lovecraftian cult.

Tried watching 1989's The Tall Guy and 1992's The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big Fish - both bland, post-A Fish Called Wanda farces with Jeff Goldblum. Couldn't make it quite through either.

The Card (1952 - B/W) - Typical 1950s period comedy. Alec Guinness looking freakishly youthful.

Drop Dead Darling/Arrivederci, Baby (1966) - Forgettable Bluebeard-goes-mod comedy with Tony Curtis. Tony Curtis plays himself as a child, a wife-killer.  Noel Purcell turns up. Warren Mitchell AND Lionel Jeffries.

The Big Fix (1978) - Tonally all over the place Richard Deyfuss movie. Universal add a TV movie quality offset by Jeremy Kagan's Altmanesque New Hollywood aspirations. It doesn't know if it is a comedy, a relationships drama or a mystery.

Happy Mother's Day, Love George (1973) - Ron Howard mopes about Nova Scotia/New England in bland TVM-like thriller with Patricia Neal and her real life daughter Tessa Dahl. Gets quite bloody, as Dahl stalks about in a school uniform.  Cloris Leachman pops up.  Bobby Darin pops up, of all people (sadly not played by Kevin Spacey pretending to be a teenager in a bad wig, but you can't have everything...)

UHF (1989) - It feels firmly in the Ernest/Peewee Herman mould, with Weird Al's lead in a similar role, though he isn't called Weird Al. Caught between this and a Kentucky Fried Movie-type thing. Gormless sidekick Trinidad Silva,who died during filming reminds me of Olivier, in his mannerisms.  Some gems - the Dire Strait/Beverly Hillbillies parody, but it's hit and miss like every anthology. Maybe it is because I am Irish, and the UHF scene seems exotic, but the more filmic parodies seem to work better.

Separate Tables (1958 - B/W) - Not my sort of film. It's well-made and well-acted, but it's like a noir Fawlty Towers without the jokes. Lancaster's accent is odd. Plus Niven doesn't look like Niven.

The Serpent's Egg (1977) - Bergman does concentration camp sexploitation. It feels sleazy. It feels dirty. The 20s setting feels more like Nazi Germany. Dino de Laurentiis' involvement makes it into a pure exploitative nonsense.

Cape Fear (1962 - B/W) - I'm sorry, but I realise this kind of US-based thriller or noir just doesn't appeal.

Tarzan And His Mate (1934 - B/W)/Tarzan Finds A Son (1939 - B/W) - I'm not a Tarzan fan. Weissmuller's idiotic galute is a travesty of Burroughs' intelligent he-man. There is some fun stuntwork, but it's too hoary, plus it takes ages for Tarzan to appear. And Maureen O'Sullivan leaping about screaming - she does sound like her awful daughter, but more of a West Brit. Some obvious doubling for Cheeta.

Just been watching Danny Kaye's Knock On Wood (1954 - where he suddenly transmogrifies into Jon Pertwee in long shots when the film stock changes and we go from the lot to real locations that look nothing like the master shot). Kind of a hard tonal thing. Everything's serious, then he jokes, then he does a comedy musical number, then things serious again. If everything was a little OTT, it'd work. On The Double (1961) has 1950s cars in WW2-era London, and is a bit cliched. I'm not a fan of military humour. Margaret Rutherford does a strained Scottish accent. Diana Dors is a baddie. It gets a bit silly. Though the Dietrich-drag Nazi cabaret artiste bit clearly influenced the Simpsons' backstory for Grampa. It's a Sunday afternoon timewaster, but it's a bit slapdash.

Road to Morocco (1942 - B/W) - I'm not a big fan of Crosby and Hope. 30s/40s musical numbers bore me. The patter gets tired quickly. I like the more off the wall stuff, all the stuff with the camel, and the slapstick, but its not quite my thing.  The talking camels are fun. And so is the ending.

Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965) - Rather simplistic and childish EC comics-type stories told in a jokey, insubstantial fashion. The odd LE-centred cast including Roy Castle, Alan Freeman and Kenny Lynch help with this. A tone more suited to It's Trad, Dad than flesh-creeping terror. Includes a poster for itself. The voodoo subplot with Roy Castle is nonsense, just a few musical numbers held together by a vague revenge subplot.  The whole chimp artist in dungarees joke is a bit ridiculous, too. Amicus have not quite gotten into the horror groove yet. Torture Garden (1967) is more successful.

The Fan (-1981) - Sub-De Palma larks. Michael Biehn is obsessed with Lauren Bacall, and tries to kill her. James Garner is trying to get back with her. Score by Pino Donaggio, but the in-film musical is written by Marvin Hamlisch and Sir Tim Rice. Dick Bush is the DOP. It feels lusher than other horrors of the period. Soundtrack also weirdly features the Specials and the Selecter. Yes, Biehn is a Two Tone fan. Features a Strawbs album in a shop. Biehn does very good "shocked face", as Pauline Black sings. It does capture the upper-crust New York, and such sights as casual-fonted shopfronts. Kt then gets increasingly sleazy, and unlikeably De Palma-ish. Features Biehn cruising in a gay bar. Basically, this is the dark side of stanning.  Then, other sides, it is very classy and romantic. It's a mess. And a not very good one. The musical looks terrible. It's all disco catsuits and rhinestones, and backdrops that belong in a made for TV variety special and not actual sets. It doesn't seem to have anything resembling a plot. The influence of producer Robert Stigwood is abundant.

Eyewitness (1981) - Bland neo-noir thriller with William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver. Not even Christopher Plummer and young Morgan Freeman, when he was still America's Derek Griffiths lighten this up. The only weird thing about is its obsession with horse stunts.

Madigan (1968)- Despite Richard Widmark and Henry Fonda, this New York-set thriller feels like a TV movie. It did spawn a series with Widmark, even though he dies at the end. But hey, it didn't stop George Dixon, did it?  Maybe, Madigan, like Dixon went to the police-heaven of Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes. After all, in the TV series, he is partnered with George Cole. Michael Dunn pops up. It's offputtingly cheap.  The locations don't feel authentic. Dozens of similar films of this era, mostly with George Peppard, i.e. 1969's Pendulum.

Eye Of The Cat (1968) - Bland, stretched Universal backlot horror. Again televisual. Clemensesque nonsense involving Eleanor Parker's lungs and Laurence Naismith as her doctor. Sitar-plucking hippies thrown in to keep it fresh. The cat hardly appears.

Doppio Delitto (1977) - Never realised that Italian comedy vet Steno (who might be their Gerald Thomas) directed a giallo starring Marcello Mastroianni, Ursula Andress and Peter Ustinov. Indeed, the funky Riz Ortolani soundtrack and upbeat opening feel more suited to a comedy. It feels rather too light and breezy and inconsequential. No wonder it's forgotten.

American Dreamer (1984) - Another flop Tom Conti comedy. Maybe, as I watched it on a French VHS, but deathly dull.

Also tried the Getaway, but half an hour in, gave up. Peckinpah is so cold and alienating.

Sacco and Vanzetti (1971) - Italian docudrama set in the US, shot in Ireland, interesting soundtrack, not my kind of film, despite Cyril and Milo turning up. And Edward Jewesbury from Crown Court, in a courtroom.

Roadgames (1981) - I'd probably like this film a lot less if it were American. The Australian setting is that little more relatable and unusual. It's got a great lead in Stacy Keach, a daft sense of humour ("there's a man with balls"), even though it is not a comedy per se. It's a sterling mix of horror and thriller and adventure (the soundtrack by Brian May going towards the latter). The killer's modus operandi is grotesque, in a good way. Incredibly tricksy (the whole cliff-trick), though it does slow a bit once Jamie Lee Curtis appears. But the climax is great (though a little murky at shot, needed more neon in the streets). Even though the resolution is a lot left to be desired. But the first half is great. And the ending...

Comfort and Joy (1984) - It took me a long time to get this Bill Forsyth film. Because it takes a while to get going, but ultimately this tale of DJ Bill Paterson fighting rival ice cream families is worth it. Especially once you've been to Glasgow.

Hit List (1989) - Bill Lustig-directed  Mafia boredom with Lance Henriksen, a Blessed-esque Rip Torn and a drunk Jan Michael Vincent. Realised I'm not quite the right man for 80s/90s action films.

City of Blood (1987) - South African murder mystery, sixtysomething lead Joe Stewardson has a younger girlfriend. Quite bland, even though the performances are all good. John Carson plays the safari-suited Prime Minister, having recently moved to South Africa at this point. Interesting but rather too arty for its own good.

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