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.