Tuesday 30 April 2019


Tabu (1931 -B/W)  - Somewhat overtly melodramatic South Seas docudrama from Murnau.

M (1931 - B/W) - Peter Lorre is allowed to be ferocious in a way Hollywood never let him be. He's not a cuddly weirdo here.

The Death Kiss  (1932 - B/W) - Slow moving, inconsequential murder quickie, reuniting David Manners and Bela Lugosi from Dracula. Set in a film studio, always a sign of a low budget. Youtubed.

The Impassive Footman (1932 - B/W) -  Basil Dean directs for Ealing a stolid,unenjoyably overacted cruise-set crime quickie written byJohn Farrow before he married an ape-woman from Roscommon and fathered the Embarrassing Hell-Queen  of Laragh.

The Thin Man (1934 - B/W) - I can see its appeal, but the comedy of manners overtakes the mystery. Too light for its own good.

Lorna Doone (1935 - B/W) - I dislike John Loder, but he's in this primitive but somewhat historically interesting Basil Dean piece. Star Victoria Hopper, interviewed in Matthew Sweet's excellent chronicle Shepperton Babylon has her own studio logo-like credit.

Death Drives Through (1935 - B/W) - This seemingly undistinguished Ealing/Basil Dean  racing drama starring future US TV director Robert Douglas would just be another forgotten  quota quickie,though directed by US B-movie specialist Edmund L. Cahn, but what's this... "Based on a story by... John Huston"?!? It does have  a a plane, but that's about it.

The Phantom Light (1935- B/W) - Lighthouse-set quotaquickie by Michael Powell. Goes quite dark, which is odd,because the tone feels like a comedy without jokes. Youtubed.

Squibs  (1935 - B/W)- Again with Gordon Harker, plus  a  young Stanley Holloway,  a baffling and irritatingly plucky musical saga of an irritatingly plucky propah Cockernee flowah gel. Youtubed.

Charlie Chan at the Circus (1936) - Typical Chan mystery. Has Keye Luke in white-drag.
Ditto Charlie Chan at the Olympics (1937 - B/W)-  which has barely any Olympics.

In Old Chicago (1937 - B/W) - Not actually a disaster until the end, otherwise a typical 30s musical. Why is Rondo Hatton in this?

You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939 - B/W) - I must say I find W.C.Fields an acquired taste. But the stuff with Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd  is really well done. A  pony-riding dummy is one interesting sight - like Bernie Clifton  in reverse. But it feels kind of loose and plotless. Charlie dons  blackface. But dummies are their own race, aren't they? Definitely a  discovery.
Never Give A Sucker An Even Break (1941  - B//W) - W.C. Fields in a Hollywood satire with wearing musical numbers, though it eventually picks up towards the end with a trip to one of those fictional Eastern European countries common in comedies of the era.   Margaret  Dumont    and   a  gorilla  pop  up.
Here  We  Go  Again (1942 - B/W) - Adaptation of Fibber  Mcgee radio series, has Edgar Bergen's dummies shoehorned in, and they provide the worthwhile bits. Has Charlie flirting with Girl Guides. Is that legal?    Has   a  weird fantastical Native  American interlude.
In  Letter  of Introduction (1938  - B/W), a typical variety show picture  (see also the uneasy Bergen-guesting melodrama hybrid Stage Door Canteen (1943 - b/w)), we are  told Charlie is a little boy, and he does childish things like riding staircases. Youtubed.
Watched Fun and Fancy Free (1947), and obviously they hide Bergen's hands because he wasn't a great ventriloquist, but he didn't need to be, because he brought great character, being a proto-Henson.

Bulldog Drummond's Bride (1939  - B/W) - Ropey poverty row exploiter. John Howard is a stiffly American Hugh. See also Bulldog Drummond Comes Back (1937), set in a  cheap Chinatown setting. They follow Bulldog Drummond Escapes (1937), with Ray Milland who is at least British. But it's the stiffly typical mansion runabout.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939 - b/w) - Hmm, Capra I find slightly too sentimental. Jean Arthur reminds me of Cilla Black.

Return to Yesterday (1940 -B/W) - Lightweight romance written by Roland "yes, the father of the family" Pertwee and Robert Morley, and directed by Robert Stevenson, which explains why bits feel a bit Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

The Four Just Men (1939 - B/W) - Ealing Edgar Wallace. Typical proto-ITC   quickie. Weird to see Alan Napier in actual England, plus looking as old as he would thirty years later as Alfred. Francis L. Sullivan looks extraordinarily like prematurely aged BBC Northern Ireland moanwalrus Stephen Nolan.

Swamp Water (1941 - B/W) - Evocative but tonally all over rural drama. Dana Andrews is way too old.

Topper Returns (1941 - B/W) - Less a sequel, just another old dark house cheapie.Youtubed.

The Ghost Train (1941- B/W) - Peculiar tone distinct this actually rather spooky old dark house movie, based on the Private Godfrey chestnut. Only Arthur Askey's somewhat intrusive musical comedy presence is a reminder this is a comedy. Youtubed.

Tales of Manhattan (1942 - B/W) - Maughammesque sentimental anthology. Despite Laughton,Fonda, Lanchester, Robinson, and an atmospheric but unfortunate Rochester/Ethel Waters/Paul Robeson segment  (that both Robeson and Edward G.tried to stop), it feels very European.

Thunder Rock (1942 - B/W) - Staid period chiller with Michael Redgrave, James Mason and Janet off Dr. Finlay's Casebook. Youtubed.

The Big Blockade (1942 - B/W) - Ealing propaganda  docudrama with a galaxy of stars all miscast.

The Night Has Eyes (1942 - B/W) - Another early James Mason quickie chiller. A period-confused drama that plays for tragic romance rather than scares. Youtubed.

China (1943 - B/W) - Alan Ladd plays a leather-coated, fedora-hatted adventurer called Jones in a Paramount adventure... But this proto-Raiders is basically Wages of Fear as WW2 anti-Japanese propaganda. Youtubed.

One Body Too Many (1944 -B/W) - Typically cookie cutter and not especially funny old dark house spooker with Bela Lugosi and Jack "Tin Man" Haley. Youtubed..

Tawny Pipit (1944 - B/W) - Inconsequential wartime ecological parable with Bernard  Miles doing his rustic routine. Youtubed.

Double Indemnity (1944 - B/W) - I find erotic thrillers not my thing, and this, the ur-example is no different, despite Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) - I can see why it appeals. Roger Livesey reminded me of my dad. A Matter of Life and Death (1946) I can see why it appeals too, but Powell and Pressburger, like Ealing comedies have never quite appealed. The climax is fun.

Detour (1945 -  B/W) - More unusual than typical noir, but Route 66-type roadside Americana never appeals, perhaps due to my dad being a trucker.  By Edgar Ulmer, who did several poverty row noir. Also watched his Ruthless (1948) , the highlight of which  is Sydney Greenstreet hamming it up  in front of a woodchip ocean liner.

Decoy (1946 - B/W) - Monogram noir. Typical fedoras and dames, done reasonably well, but it's an area I find constantly grey.

The Chase (1946 - B/W) - Robert Cummings in Robert Cummings mode and Peter Lorre in a typical "exotic" noir set in an unconvincing Cuba.

Angel on my Shoulder (1946 -b/w) - Trite sentiment that inspired Randall and Hopkirk.

She-Wolf of London (1946 - B/W)  - Boring, very American Universal chiller.

Frieda  (1945 - B/W) - More tiresome Ealing melodrama, Glynis John does the Hokey Cokey. Weird to see a young pre-producing Barry Letts billed above Barry Jones.

Odd Man Out (1947 - B/W) - It's well-made, one of the few 20th century films shot in Northern Ireland, despite James Mason doing a wobbly accent like many of the cast, and William Hartnell not particularly bothering. Also featuring a who's who of Irish faces, Cyril Cusack (and wife Maureen), Dan O'Herlihy, Eddie Byrne, Joseph Tomelty, Noel Purcell, Wilfrid Brambell.... But for an Irish audience, films by non-Irish filmmakers with IRA heroes are problematic.  F.J. McCormick is fun in his budgie-fancying state.
Moonrise (1948 -  B/W)- Atmospheric but emptyRepublic noir by Frank Borzage with a haunted Dane Clark and Lloyd Bridges.

Hollow Triumph (1949 - B/W) -  Paul  Henreid  plays  two roles in  an   undistinguished  noir.

Thieves Highway (1949 - B/W) - Interesting locales, but stories of the underworld in America don't fascinate me.
Ditto Tokyo Joe (1949 - B/W) - Humphrey Bogart in a styleless redo of Casablanca.

The Rocking Horse Winner (1949 - B/W) - Dud, "spooky", stretched betting mystery with John Mills.

Sunset Boulevard (1950 - B/W) - I prefer Fedora (1978).

Borderline (1950- B/W) - Typical "sombreros and fedoras" border  noir   suspense folderol with Fred MacMurray, Claire Trevor and Raymond Burr before the accident. Made at Republic for Universal. A bit of nonsense.

The Wonder Kid (1951 - B/w) - Period confused child napping bunkum. Blondie Is shown in a funnies page alongside "Nick Bracy"

Babes in Bagdad (1952 - B/W) - Dopey Arabian comedy idiocy with Paulette Goddard, Gypsy Rose Lee and  a young Christopher Lee. Edgar Ulmer directs for Danziger's.

Monkey Business (1952 - B/W) Silly all star comedy. A BIT BLUE REMEMBERED HILLS.

Spaceways  (1953- B/W) - Tiresome early Hammer space drama, actually a typical 50s boardroom aeronautics soap.  Four Sided  Triangle  (1953 - B/W) is similar, but better. Hosted by James Hayter, and while still a slog, it has a Frankensteinian noir element.

The Black  Rider (1954 - B/W) - Jimmy Hanley and an even then ancient Lionel Jeffries in quaint but rather meaningless mature CFF biking shenanigans.

The Runaway Bus (1954 -B//W)- Baffling comedy with Frankie Howerd as heroic lead and Margaret Rutherford.

The Colditz Story (1955 - B/W)- Not a warmovie lad.God Bryan Forbes is smug.

Run for the Sun (1956) - Widmark and Trevor Howard in Zaroffian jungle tedium.

Yellow  Crow   (1957) - Syrupy  Japanese family  drama.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957 - B/W) - Well-shot, but honestly, not my kind of film.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957 - B.W)  - I need to re-rewatch  it when one is less sleepy. And thus when one is less  sleepy, wow. Wilder's best.

The Vikings (1958) - Not quite  my  thing, but hey, the animation's fun and so is Eileen Way.

In Search of the Castaways (1962) - Typical muddled Disney adventure. No real excitement. Though the cast give it good game - Hayley Mills, Maurice Chevalier as a singing French scientist, George Sanders, Wilfrids Hyde-White and Brambell (the latter using his own de-thespianised accent as an Irish seaman trapped in the Pacific, presumably after one of his twink-hunting holidays in the Far East)   Roger Delgado cameos as a raving Patagonian prisoner, but at least he is credited unlike a pre-fame Joss Ackland and Jean Alexander. It just is a series of anticlimaxes. And despite having actual Maori Inia Te Wiata as the Polynesian chieftain, it lacks a decent antagonist.

One Two Three (1961 - B/W) - Like It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World, too zany for its own good, and therefore there's no room for good jokes just running about. Pity, it starts off fun.

The Punch and Judy Man (1963  -B/W) -Like a slightly lighter answer movie to the Entertainer.

WEST 11 (1963) - Grim Michael Winner noir.

The Silence (1963 - B/W) - Grim, oddly erotic Ingmar Bergman thing.

Shaft's Big Score ! (1972) - Samey blaxploitation thrills, though a probable influence on Live and Let Die.

Postman's Knock (1962 - B/W)  - A sub-Ealing conventional comedy designed to make audiences smile not laugh, so  putting in Spike Milligan as the lead is to say the least, not going to make the most of the man's talent. Has Warren Mitchell,  Lance Percival, Arthur Mullard and John Bennett in  starring roles as the villains. Barbara Shelley is the romantic interest.

The Third Secret (1964 -  B/W) Mediocre but expensive psychodrama.

Stagecoach (1966) - Was it worth it, really... And even I think the (1939) one is just your average western.

What's Up, Tiger Lily (1966) - Woody Allen nonsense dubbed over a nonsensical Japanese spy film.

Night of the Generals (1966) - Confused, aimless all star mystey with a confused period setting and a talcumed Omar Sharif as a Nazi.

The Blue Max (1966) It isn't brilliant but my grandad is in it, and Dublin shamlessly doubles for Germany.

Kaleidoscope (1966) -Uninteresting Warren Beatty (unauthorised) Casino Royale adaptation, set in a titular  casino with a now ridiculously provincial neon sign in profil font.

Guns for San Sebastian. (1968)  Unusual Mexican Europudding psuedowestern.

The Party (1968) - What on Earth is this supposed to be? Sellers is just mugging (it's like he's trying to be a convincing Indian comedian) amongst a pile of psychedelic gubbins.

The mercenary (1968) - Absurdist spaghetti zapata western. Franco Nero and an avauntular Jack Palance star. Features comedy thespian dwarves doing a Bernie Clifton and a biplane.

Anzio (1968) - Not even a decent cast helps this turgid, overwrought Dino DeLaurentiis macaroni Euro warsploiter.

The  Reivers  (1969)   - Steve  McQueen's  Bessie    western.

Eyewitness (1971) - Peculiar, surprisingly ruthless kids' adventure with Mark Lester at the centre of an international murder conspiracy. Lionel Jeffries steals it as the grandad, Susan George has a throwaway romance subplot, and Peters Vaughan and Bowles play assassin brothers.

Lawman (1971) -  Winner brings some verve to a typical 70s oater.

The Beguiled (1971) - Lovingly shot but the tone changes muddy it. Also rewatched High Plains Drifter (1973), which is again lovingly shot but slightly goes up its arse and cannot decide on what it is.
Dirty Harry (1971) and Magnum Force (1973) are not quite my cup of tea. They feel repetitive to a point that the cinematography lifts them from TV level programmers.

The Seven Minutes (1971) - A transatlantic tripe courtroom thriller made for Fox by Russ Meyer with a cast of ailing vets plus young Tom Selleck. Bland and televisual.

Johnny Got   His Gun (1971) - The hillbillySlaughterhouse Five-via-A-Boy And His Dog, Jason Robards doing the same schtick in the latter.

Up the  Sandbox (1972) -Barbra in an annoying feminist Billy Liar.

Our Miss Fred (1972) - Unfunny if ever so slightly interesting Danny La Rue vehicle that fails to live up to scant promise.

That's Your  Funeral (1972)-A  peculiar Hammer film, an adaptation   of   a cancelled  after one series  BBC sitcom. Languid,, it  doesn't  help that we're supposed  to know the unfamiliar characters despite  being played by Bill Fraser, Raymond  Huntley  and David Battley.  Youtubed..

The Carey Treatment (1972) Bland Crichton-Blake Edwards medical histrionics, despite an unusually large James Hong role.

The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972)/Barry McKenzie Holds His  Own (1974) - Yes, they're incredibly sexist, racist, but the character is because he's a parody of sexist, racist Aussies. There's real energy unlike the equivalent British or American films of the era. And I empathise with  Dennis Price (except for me, it's being kicked up the arse)

Serpico (1973) Just Pacino fannying about in  ladies' blouses and hats.

Ash Wednesday (1973) -Elizabeth Taylor has plastic surgery. That's the plot of this Europudding transatlantic tripe.

No Sex Please, We're British (1973) - Amiable if not exactly rib-tickling timekiller. The cast helps. Corbett! Lowe! Reid! Ogilvy! Askwith! Filmed farces I always find lose something in translation.

Rhinoceros (1974) -The sort of comedy I can never warm to. PlusZero Mostel is an acquired taste.

French Connection 2 (1975) - A load of sleazy, exploitative twaddle. Frankenheimer tries too hard to mimic Friedkin's style in the (1971) film.

Watched all five Rocky films (1976, (1979, (1982, (1986,  (1990). Only V is bad.

A Man Called Blade (1977) - Another Maurizio Merli charity shop buy. Sergio Martino directs a visualy attractive but rough-hewn western. Slavishly imitative of the better Keoma (1976).
The American Friend. (1977)  Neon lime lightning brightens this otherwise confused cosmische thriller.

March or Die (1977) -  Boring desert adventure that had the mmisfortune to come out the same time as a  Yorkshire-produced TV feature of the Four Feathers and the superior parody The Last Remake of Beau Geste. Terence Hill is just a  slab. The days when Ian Holm could play an Arab.

Scalpel (1977) - An interesting curio, though wrongly listed as a horror, but a melodramatic psychosexual thriller where Robert Lansing cheats his father's will by turning a Jane Doe rape victim into a double of his daughter, only to fall in love with her. The cineamotgrpahy alone, thanks to the gorgeous blu-ray and Atlanta locations aid an otherwise dull suspenser.

Clonus (1979) - An interesting concept dully staged. Like the Prisoner via Meatballs.

Catcus Jack (1979) - A peculiar comedy western from Hal Needham. Kirk Douglas is the titular Villain.With Arnold Schwarzenegger as the idiot European hero, there seems to be a level of influence from Terence Hill's vehicles.

Mani di velluto (1979) - Again, charity shops provide another chunk of Italian pop cinema, in this case an amiable if perplexing Adriano Celentano sexcom featuring the incongruous presence of John Sharp, who did quite a few Italian productions around this time, while still appearing in the likes of All Creatures...

The Omega Connection (1979) - Aka the London Connection. This is Disney's attempt to make a serious spy film, though with its two bland American leads and an otherwise affordable but solid British cast (Nigel Davenport, Roy Kinnear, Lee Montague, David Kossoff as a Mittel-European scientist, Frank Windsor, Dudley Sutton, David Battley), it's basically the  Professionals in the style of a Children's Film Foundation flick.

Arabian Adventure (1979) - Milo O'Shea was cast because Kenneth Williams didn't want to wear a turban again. But he's channeling his Welsh rival Hugh Griffith here, although the tan and moustache make him look a bit like Brendan O'Carroll. A less engaging adventure than director Kevin Connor's Edgar Rice Burroughs efforts. Confused, plus the artifice of the sets makes it look like an episode of Space: 1999.
Also watched the 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), which would be a ropey forgotten programer were it not for the FX.

Caveman (1981) - Unfunny Ringo vehicle, a spoof of Hammer caveman vehicles. Manages to ape the look of those films, and the odd stop motion is fun but it doesn't click.

Lion Of The Desert (1981)-Produced by  Moustapha Akkad and Colonel Gaddaffi, interminable biopic of  Libyan freedom fighter/hedge school-teacher Omar Mukhtar (a sunburnt Anthony Quinn) versus Italian military nut Oliver Reed and a weirdly-accented Rod Steiger as Mussolini.

Diva (1981) - An unusually energetic and exciting French actioner, surprisingly youthful considering this was the era of middle-aged, lived-in blokes like Belmondo and Ventura.

The Soldier (1982)  - A late period Bond knockoff, by James Glickenhaus. Ken Wahl, though a relatively decent lead is a bit  lost, with the nonsensical globetrotting, and aside from William Prince basically doing the same schtick he'd do in Spies Like Us, Steve James and seconds of Klaus Kinski, a weak cast.   It does have  a  staggering scene where Wahl and James have a fight in a honkytonk as George Strait sings in the background. Being someone whose  parents were fans enough to once force me down to Pure Country as a child, that entertains. Has what  might  be upstate New York double for the English countryside.

Wrong is Right (1982) - A film I am quite fond of, even thoughthe tone is not quite right. It's somewhere between a conspiracy thriller with the tone of a Roger Moore Bond and a Zucker Abrams Zucker spoof. The opening with all the backlot/stock footage international travails and little punchlines is quite ZAZ. It even has Leslie Nielsen, just post-Airplane! But it takes the espionage stuff seriously. Even if it is Henry Silva and Ron Moody hamming it up as the proto-Osama like terrorist chieftain and the Arab king he assassinates, in the ITC-esque "Hagreb". One of the Arabs has red-hair and looks like an Irish hippie named Brendan. Even the Arab states in ITC series were more convincing. The gasometers and railroads look more like Utah than Saudi Arabia, and no amount of stock footge can help deceive it. An African state with North American terraced housing and skyscrapers, yeah right...  Finally noticed Irish actor Keith McConnell's bit as a Scotland Yard expert, seen on a TV screen, so an element of a fake England is in here. But it runs out of steam - and jokes. It loses track of what it should be.

BMX Bandits (1983) - Brian Trenchard Smith's the Children Film Foundation meets Euston Films down under. (Bryan Marshall, a vet of Out, Special Branch and the  faux-Euston The Chinese Detective is the lead villain).

Vigilante (1983) - Grim, tedious all-star New York revenge nonsense from Bill Lustig.   Youtubed. Watched it again, and wow. It's actually extremely evocative. Might be Lustig's best.

Once Upon A Time in America (1984) - The modern day bits feel like they're from an Italian horror film of the same era, James Woods with his video screens like a CEO waging war against bike-riding punks in the year 1992. Hell, even Treat Williams did one of those. The kids' stuff reminds me of Ragtime (and that's discounting Elizabeth McGovern), but the gangster stuff, yes, there's a Fellini-esque grotesquery that could only be Italian. It probably is Leone's masterpiece.

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) - Allen boils a potentially fantastic concept into a bland romantic TV movie-ish collage of small talk. Even though Milo pops up.

The Last Dragon (1985) - A too-glossy-for-its-own-good film that is also about music videos as well as basically being a music video. A curious but ultimately half-baked hybrid of gang movie, martial arts movie, Karate Kid ripoff, music satire and superhero adventure. Nice to see Ron Van Clief (the black Bruce-Lee Van Cleef of various 70s kung fu films, yes really) as an advisor.

Band of The Hand (1986) - Weird breed between 21 Jump Street and the Warriors. Overstylised nonsense, but it is Michael Mann, though directed by Paul Michael Glaser. Youtubed.

Crossroads (1986) - A rather sweet, inconsequential drama about a young musician searching for a lost Robert Johnson song, by Walter Hill.

Dead of Winter (1987) - Surprisingly unnerving little chiller with Mary Steenburgen. Excellent performances by Roddy McDowall and  Jan Rubes. Steenburgen seems to be styled as Fionnuala Flanagan for one of her roles.

Shoot to Kill (1988) - Sixty year old Sidney Potter stars in this lazy sub-Cannon actioner, a comeback for Sir Sid.

The Big Steal (1989) - Fun if needlessly complicated car-heist teen comedy from Australia with Ben  Mendelsohn as the teen thief. Oddly, the domestic stuff is more fun.

In The Cold Of The Night (1990)  - Prime Skinemax shite guest starring Shannon Tweed, David Soul and Tippi Hedren. Glossy idiocy.

City Hunter (1993) - Overstylised, plotless Jackie Chan anime adap. Jackie does rock the Chun-Li outfit, though.

TheTrial (1993) - Louis Marks-produced, Pinter-written adaptation of Kafka with Anthony Hopkins and Kyle MacLachlan. Feels like an  average BBC drama of the era released to cinemas, because it was. So it is incongruous to see Jason Robards in a Beeb period thing, less so MacLachlan, considering his appearances in  Vodafone ads at this time.

Armstrong (1995) - Menahem Golan directs a typical piece of NuImage schlock.

Time Regained (1999) -All star French  Proust artiness.  Was  this shot on video? Looks like the House of Elliot.

The Big Brass Ring (1999) - Sleazy sub-Cinemax Nu Image Orson Welles script redo that despite being made in St. Louis, has several UK sitcom stars, Nigel Hawthorne, Miranda Richardson and most weirdly, Ewan Stewart, the talentless son of Scottish troubadour Andy. His acting is as good as the film. Has WilliamHurt with a monkey balanced on his cravat.

Himalaya (2000) - Evocative French docudrama.

Network Hitchcock - 7

The Network collection

The Lodger (1926 -  B/W) -Jack the Ripper played as tragic romance/wrong man story, Ivor Novello  a soppy lead, suited to the tone.

The Pleasure Garden (1925 - B/W) - Hitchcock's silent erotica.

Downhill (1927 - B/W) - Tompkinson's Schooldays with added mammies.

The Man Who Knew Too  Much (1934 - B/W) - More deliberately paced yet less bloated than the 1956 take.

Sabotage (1936 - B/W) - Per typical Hitchcock of the era, soppy romantic melodrama mixed in with thrills. The bus bombing and death of future Grundy exec Desmond Tester is stunningly done. Surprised the Disney excerpt remains.

Young and Innocent (1937 - B/W) - More of the same, though the idea of the villain dying because of how terrible it is to be a Minstrel is a  nice twist.

Jamaica Inn  (1939- B/W) - Maureen O'Hara sounds like the Ranelagh girl she was. Charles Laughton's makeup has an Uncanny Valley  effect. It's atmospheric but it feels as if everyone is in a differently toned production to each other.

Secret Agent, 39 Steps and the Lady Vanishes have been  reviewed elsewhere.

Thursday 11 April 2019


From Hell to Victory (1979) - A film which is a special kind of awful. One of two all-star war films made in 1979 by Umberto Lenzi, this may be the better one. That's not saying much. It looks more professional than Battle Force, though all the battle footage is from  the overlong Eagles Over London (1969, an epic but ramshackle production more in lieu with Commando comic than real life, a blitzed London where the Royal Festival Hall and the Post Office Tower have already been built), all the sequences of London being from there, with a few cut-in shots of George Hamilton in a fake-looking phone box. This has not only Hamilton, but George Pepper (sic) too, who plays "the American", while Hamilton does a sporadic French accent and looks silly. Astonishingly once shown on BBC1, as a big movie premiere. Also with Capucine, Sam Wanamaker, Lambert Wilson, Jean Pierre Cassel, Howard Vernon as the Nazi, Horst Bucholz, it's the story of five buddies who meet every year, only for them to be all on different sides. There's random cuts to incidents that don't make sense. Again with Italian war movies of the 60s (Eagles Over London and Operation Crossbow especially), there's that weird Eurospy-WW2 hybrid, where there's big Ken Adam-y sets, gadgets, and everything looks like the 60s. And in this case, it's the same, though a few 70s haircuts sneak in (though most of the crowd scenes are reused from Eagles over London, hence why all of London seems to be Hispanic and dressed like it is in 1969). Lenzi is credited as Hank Milestone. It does look better than the average Italian actioner. But Warner sem to have coproduced.  Rewatched it on the crappier Pegasus UK print. And there the original footage actually looks like it's from the 60s.

87 - horror, action - a load of films I got on dvd in a bulk buy...

The Golem (1920 - B/W) - Some silents create worlds. This is one.

Murder By The Clock (1931  -B/W) - Early Paramount suspense drudgery with Hopalong Cassidy.

Rewatched the 1935 She, and realised it's infinitely better than the Hammer versio
The Devil Bat (1940 - B/W) - Typical PRC schlock. Youtubed.

Mad Love (1935 - B/W) - Hmm, Lorre is at his best. But it's marred by a complicated plot, a strnge setting and too much MGM sentiment. Some attempt at Whale-ish eccentrics with the cockatoo-keeping old lady. Lorre in his disguise looks like a bald Ken Dodd.

The Devil Doll (1936 - B/W) - Strange kinda-horror, but moreso black comedy science fantasy, Lionel Barrymore dragging up as a criminal who turns his miniaturisation device into a doll shop and Maureen O'Sullivan in an unconvincing Paris. Very odd tone. Has no climax. Played up as a romance, again the MGM sentiment is strong.ss Rehashed as the even less subtle Attack of the Puppet People (1956 - B/W). Youtubed in multiple parts.

Dr. Cyclops (1940) - Early colour SF from the King Kong boys, not unlike the Devil Doll, but with elements of jungle adventure. Mad scientist Albert Dekker forces a bunch of travellers to wear loincloths and shrinks them down. Colour and fun effects is really the only novelty. Somehow, I really wanted to see this as a small boy. David Thomson and Leslie Halliwell bigged it up. First horror film made in full three-strip Technicolor. Has a cat called Satanus.

The Black Cat (1941 - B/W) - Routine Universal old dark house grinder, notable only for having young Broderick Crawford as a goofball, and the appearance of a young Ladd named Alan...

Invisible Agent (1942 - B/W) - Dire propaganda piece from Universal. Not even Peter Lorre as an evil aristocratic Mr. Moto improves things. Ilona Massey reminds me of Helga from 'Allo 'Allo. Jon Hall is a plank. Silly.

The Strange Case of Doctor RX (1942 - B/W)  - Boring even on youtube, Universal quickie with Lionel Atwill that only becomes horror in the final minutes.  The worst kind of Universal 40s potboiler.

The Glass Key (1942 - B/W) - Tried another noir, and God noir is not for me. Brian Donlevy and Alan Ladd standing around in fedoras. Veronica Lake speaking typical noir dialogue. 40s LA doesn't really interest me in film, alas.

The Mask of Dimitrios (1944 - B/W)  - Clunky, uninvolving, confusing noir. How many times did Lorre and Greenstreet make the same film?

The Suspect (1944 - B/W) - Bluebeard-ish noir set in Edwardian London with Charles Laughton. More proof the Americans could never really do Victoriana/Edwardiana. Not as good as John Carradine's turn as Bluebeard, which I have warmed to slightly.

Brute Force (1947 - B/W) - I can see what makes it works, but prison movies and noir don't work for me. Nice set design, and it's weird seeing Hume Cronyn young, that familiar face devoid of wrinkles.

Mighty Joe Young (1949 - B/W) - Hmm, the stop motion work is superb as always, being early Harryhausen.

Three Cases of Murder (1954  - B/W) - Begins with Eamonn Andrews dressed as the Shadow, weird prefiiguring the credits of Orson Welles' Great Mysteries. And this is basically that. Three slightly above average anthology episodes including the latter with Welles as the UK Home Secretary who has an unconvincing death scene.  There should be more horror anthologies hosted by Irish TV stars. Ray D'Arcy's Rectal Dungeon of Dread, Daithi O'Se's Gaeltacht Grand Guignol, Marty Whelan's Wheel of Wonder.

The Giant Behemoth (1959 - B/W)  - Not worth it even for Jack McGowran and precious seconds of Willis O'Brien animation.

The Impersonator (1961 - B/W) - British B-feature about a homicidal panto dame. Not that great or suspenseful. Atmospheric, yes, but it's padded beyond belief. But, like 95 per cent of British features made between 1956 and 1976, it has Frank Thornton in it. Double billed with A Time to Kill (1955 - B/W) - Jack Watling and John Le Mesurier in a typical "fedoras in a rural house" British quickie.

The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962) - Typical Italian Euroschlock, glossy. YOUTUBED.

Experiment In Terror (1962 - B/W) - Silly, almost William Castle esque thriller from Blake Edwards. Has Ross Martin in disguise, per usual. Feels like the thrills are jokes played seriously.

The Comedy of Terrors (1964) - Typical AIP Hollywood froth.

The Castle of the Living Dead (1964 - B/W) - Some horror films are incredibly boring even at x60 speed. This proves that, despite Christopher Lee and Donald Sutherland in drag. On youtube.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) - Hmm, it sets out what it wants, but a slightly entertaining for 60s kids but utterly undemanding and not very interesting kids' special isn't going to date well. Apart from proving that the phrase "Santy" isn't an exclusively Irish thing.

Blood Bath (1965 - B/W) - Somewht atmospheric (nice noirish bits with men dressed in fancy dress wandering about) but mostly dreary Corman roustabout. Youtubed.

Rewatched That Man from Rio. It's just as bad as every other Eurospy film. Not even a genuinely daring lead in the charismatic Belmondo changes it.

Flashman (1967) - Typical colourful but kind of empty Italian superhero fare. Has scenes set at the Bank of Ireland. On youtube.

Project X (1968) - Sub-Star Trek psychedelia from William Castle. On youtube.

Night of the Bloody Apes (1969) - Odd, nonsensical Mexican wrestler movie and video nasty. Though better than the average Mexican knockabout. On youtube.

Dorian Gray (1970) - Dreadful sub-Franco Towers of London version with Helmut Berger going around bare-chested. Has an 1970 date on a presumably 1990s issue of Cinema X. Richard Todd has so much black dye in his hair it looks navy. Features a weird Italian view of the London seen in Goodbye Gemini. Filled half-with Ealing-ish eccentrics and the badly dubbed continental-looking socialites familiar from gialli of the era. The soundtrack is weak for this sort of thing. There is a random tramp. Time does not pass.
The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971) - Typical giallo fluff. Again with Berger.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) - Possibly the ideal way to do a serial-murder film for me. Make the victims character actors and kill them off in fun ways. The sort of film that made me a horror fan. I forget that actually Norman Jones as Peter Jeffrey's superior is one of the best performances in it (because Price is kind of wasted, he's little to do with his voice, and he just stands there imposing). It's the sort of class act that most of other AIP's films perhaps wanted to be, but were often let down by bad supporting actors, flimsy sets and being too silly. This is daft, but it is not overdone even in an Avengers manner. However, it does dawdle. Joseph Cotten's stuff feels shoehorned in. He doesn't feel like the protagonist in the way that Peter Jeffrey does, perhaps because Jeffrey is a more interesting character and it's not often you get him to have a kind of lead. The unicorn kill is astonishing in its editing.  If it were an American film, it'd be tacky. If it were a European film, it'd be either mired in meaningless psychedelia (the type that indeed filters Fuest's later the Final Programme or indeed AIP/Price's own Scream and Scream Again) or have a gurning detective as hero - thinks Louis DeFunes in Fantomas. It's the sort of film that could only be made in Britain, c.1970.

Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972) I do love. Maybe more. Because it moves, from the ridiculous serial-style recap to the sets. I realise that the horror films I like are the ones with lots of ideas, lots of knobbly bits. A focused, tight ghost story may not excite me like something with lots of layers, locations, character actors, kills, and humour and colour. Jeffrey is given star billing, above Hugh Griffith. Robert Quarry is alright, for what he has to do. He's suitably hammy. It's got lots of settings. Only recently realised the  ship's officer is John "Sid from LOTSW" Comer, who admittedly is wasted. But it is nice that he gets a line or two, unlike an absurdly wasted John Thaw. But it may be one of the more gorgeously shot horror films ever, shot by Oscar nominee Alex Thomson.

I love Theatre of Blood (1973), but that's the formula in a different, less pulp/fantasy-imbued milieu. Phibes is a supervillain. Lionheart isn't, or at least he's not the Bond villain-type technocrat Phibes is. He's human. He doesn't have the ability to build a secret crypt to the afterlife in the Valley of the Kings. He's a man who he is deluded, whose talent has been overshadowed by his eccentricities and delusions that have driven him to kill.

Assignment Terror (1970) - A typical messy Naschy film, a monster rally with a mummy, a Monster, a vampire, werewolf and some aliens headed by Michael Rennie. A typical Iberian mess.

Death Walks On High Heels (1971)  With an almost identical theme by Stelvio Cipriani to his work on the rubbish-but- far better Dublin giallo Iguana With The Tongue of Fire (1971 - Niall Toibin as a sinister doctor and Emmett Bergin's studly body). This has blackface modelling (was this a thing in the 70s on "the continent"? Amanda Lear did it in-character as Josephine Baker?) Frank Wolff, the American actor best known as mutton-chopped McBain in Once Upon A Time in the West always reminds me of Alan "Mr. Pat Phoenix" Browning. Why do so many of these films end with people leaving on boats/planes? This is nonsense, complete with Hispanic-looking attempts at the kind of eccentric Scotland Yard men seen in Death Line or Frenzy or the Dr. Phibes films. Youtubed.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) - Hmm, somewhat entrancing in its dreariness. It has an atmosphere. Produced by Lloyd Kaufman in the early years of Troma, but released by pre-Golan Cannon. Has an interesting cast, Patrick O'Neal, John Carradine and several Warhol favourites including Candy Darling and a pre-B movie stardom Mary Woronov. Had never seen  this, despite passing various cheap copies in run down video stores, and a friend always recommending it.

Lady Frankenstein (1972) - Bland, dreary Euro-bollocks set in a strange, supposedly English but clearly mittel European milieu. On youtube.

Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (1974) - A sort of sequel to the above. Slow but oddly entrancing Euro-monsterthon, which despite being a typical Italian gothic of the 70s, is decently shot and has a decent cast.

Psychomania (1972) - Always new delights to experience from this, terribly made but so joyous, i.e. "young" Beryl Reid's flashbacks with a huge black wig. Former RTE panto  star Mary Larkin is such  a world away from the rest of her RADA thug Please Sir-alike bikers. Her character name doesn't suit her. She's more a Deirdre or a Dympna, or an Eileen.  It is desperate, a badly thought idea - i.e. biker suicides as comedy sketches, but there is something so attractive about the wrongheaded-ness of the concept.

3  Days of the Condor (1975) - Better than the average conspiracier, but still a relative slog.

Black Snake (1973) - A peculiar curio from Russ Meyer, a mainly British cast - David Warbeck, Anouska Hempel, Percy Herbert, Thomas Baptiste, Anthony Sharp, in a well-produced but awkward mixture of Mandingo, Goodbye Uncle Tom and Keep It Up Downstairs. Youtubed.

And NowThe Screaming Starts (1973) - Confused attempt by Amicus to d period gothic.

The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974) - A rewatch. Alongside Horror Express (1972 - which I can't really say anymore than being brilliant and inventive), the one true masterpiece of Spanish horror in the 70s. The fact it is set in Northern England, a setting alien to British horror of the era, with Lyon's Maid ads and the Manchester Evening News being a plot point makes it even more wondrous. The fact that the Italians and Spanish managed to make a more British film than the British film industry often made is astounding. What makes it more enigmatic and mysterious is some of the bit parters? Who was the girl with Down's Syndrome? She wasn't imported from Italy, surely. Was she just a random girl they found in Sheffield?

The Spiral Staircase (1975) - A film so cheap, so televisual that you forget Christopher Plummer is the star. Bland attempt to recreate America in Britain. Hence Gayle Hunnicutt and Elaine Stritch. Jacqueline Bisset is hopeless. Youtubed.

Lord Shango (1975) - Odd melodrama, only horror-tinged. Almost closer to Ganja and Hess than Blacula. Marlene Clark seems to be the same age as her teenage daughter. Youtubed.

The Uncanny (1977) - Worthless but interesting and oddly engrossing Amicus spinoff where Peter Cushing tells Ray Milland that the world is controlled by cats - shot mostly in Canada. The final bit with Donald Pleasence as a Hollywood horror star (whose roles are portrayed by photos of his role as Blofeld, similar to how Jon Pertwee's horror career n the House that Dripped Blood is his Dr. Who stills) getting attacked by moggies is the best.

Devil's Express (1976) - Unusually solid production, but rather aimless kung fu/horror/blaxploitation hybrid. Youtubed.

Tentacles (1977) - Though endlessly padded, there are a few joys amongst it. The fat prosecutor from Midnight Express having a swim in the near-nuddy, kids getting ravaged by a squid at a Children's Film Foundation-style yacht race. John Huston trying to do it seriously, Henry Fonda phoning it in from his own house, Shelley Winters raising a son, and over-bombastic score from Stelvio Cipriani, from harspchicord terror music to a track that sounds almost too close to Van McCoy's The Shuffle, to the climax where the titular creature is defeated by Bo Hopkins and his Magical Friendly Pet Orcas. Youtubed.

Claws (1977) - Amateurish sub-Grizzly drivel notable only for being made in Alaska.

Ghosts That Still Walk (1977) - Ambitious but laughable ghost story about an old couple in a motorhome being stalked by ghosts, that also involves some weird psychic link with a young boy. Possibly shot on video.

The Island of Dr. Moreau (1978) - Maybe it is the excellent cast that makes this adaptation very likeable, despite the fact the beast-men are utterly ridiculous.

The Night, the Prowler (1978) - Surrealistic domestic absurdist horribleness from the director of Rocky Horror. Youtubed. But awful.

Hardcore (1979) - Another film I admired as a teen. I find the stuff in Michigan better, the porn industry stuff feels very OTT, very silly, with the character of Ratan beng this Manson-esque overlord.  The thing is Paul  Schrader positions this as this realistic drama, but it's George C. Scott and Peter Boyle going  almost Bronson on a cartoon torture cult who make snuff films. It's as much an exploitation film as the films it is about. And it feels very rushed. It dawdles on one thing, then quickly goes to the point, and then, "hey, my daughter's alive! Here she is!" and it ends. And none of the porn performers feel like real people, especially Big Dick Blaque.

The Exterminator (1980) - A brilliantly painted portrait of ate 70s/early 80s New York. Also watched director James Glickenhaus' McBain (1991), a much more rote action vehicle for Christopher Walken, that despite an interesting setting in Colombia, is confused by the very Vietnam atmosphere and Filipino locations.

Galaxy of Terror (1981) - I find this more interesting than Alien, even though the "Master"'s identity is so obvious because Ray Walston's voice and head shape are quite recognisable. But it is a terrible film that wastes promising ideas - Alien in a Star Wars milieu. On youtube.

The Orchard End Murder (1981) - A weird featurette from the days of British second feature shorts, set in the 60s, with Clive Mantle as a murderous, half-witted railway worker and Bill Wallis as a laughing gnome.  Shot in a lovely Children's BBC period drama film insert style.

Strange Behaviour (-1981) - An intriguing though not successful little film. With a strange atmospheric, an only sporadically appropriate but sometimes rather beautiful Tangerine Dream soundtrack, New Zealand authentically doubling for Illionois, and a decent cast (Louise Fletcher, Arthur Dignam, Michael Murphy, Charles Lane, Marc McClure predating his role in Pandemonium and a few local actors like Beryl Te Wiata, almost a double for her daughter Rima). There is one extraordinary sequence (the dance number), but overall it is a messy mix of mad science from the 50s and then contemporary slasher themes.  It feels a lot like Dead and Buried, in that you can tell humour was lost in the making of the film, though the film still has a pointedly happy ending.

The Aftermath (1982) - A valiant effort by one Steve Barkett, with the help of Ted V. Mikels to make a post apocalyptic epic. SF's answer to Rolf Harris, Forrest J. Ackerman appears as a curator. A Section III video nasty, bizarrely, because it's not a horror film. There's rapey violence, but it's a sci-fi adventure. It's padded, but it's watchable. It's got enthusiasm and is well-made, has nice effects,and is certainly above the typical no-budget post-apocalyptic actioner. And the ending is sweet. Barkett's own son plays his young charge. It's the sort of film one is glad to find. A good-natured, semi-amateur thing where people actually worked to make a decent film.

Banana Joe (1982) -More bafflement from Bud Spencer. SUB Herbie Goes Bananas scrapes.

Time Masters (1982) - Works significantly better in the French dub than the BBC/Ray Brooks English dub. Rene Laloux's masterpiece, mainly thanks to Moebius. French voices include Alain Cuny, pal of Picasso and lover of Emmanuelle.

Secret of NIMH (1982) - Significantly better than the Disney stuff of the era, but saddled with a confused plot. Interesting voice cast. Jacobi! Carradine! Baddeley!

Turkey Shoot (1982) - Like the above, a Tony Ginnane production, I can see why it appeals, but the lack of budget and that weird Australian desire to be Mid-Atlantic stifles its world building, and that is the key to every future film. And though it is fun, it is basically just a prison break film with gore and Most Dangerous Game touches. Which often needs nice locations. And this is just Australian farmland.

TAG The Assassination Game (1982) - Dreary, muddy Corman college ruckus with Linda Hamilton and Forest Whitaker in early roles. Youtubed.

The Terminator (1984) - Yes, I reviewed it. It's exactlhy what I always thought it to be. Blandly glossy, and 80s in that worst way. Overrated.

The Jar (1984) - Semi-amateur trash that slowly descends into a Christ metaphor, I think. Watched on youtube.

The Lost Empire (1984) - Despite some imagination and energy, a typical "tits and arse" fest from Jim Wynorski. Youtubed. Very Andy Sidaris.

Diesel (1985)- French apocalyptic nonsense with Richard Bohringer.
Terminus (1987) - French post apocalyptic epic of turgid awkwardness. Jurgen Prochnow is a sinister exec. There's a pink haired transvestite, Karen Allen drives a truck with Hollywood brat Gabriel Damon, while our Mad Max is pasty faced Johnny Hallyday, yes, the Gallic Cliff himself. Lots of foetuses. Weird organic-machinery imagery.

Monster In The Closet (1986) - I find monster movie spoofs always should feel more fun. This, of the 80s lot may be one of the best. For a Troma film, it has names - John Carradine, Donald Moffat, Henry Gibson, Stella Stevens, Claude Akins, pre-fame Fergie Black Eyed Peas and Paul Walker. For a Troma film, it has a good budget, a decent monster, and while there's a sort of "We want to be Joe Dante" vibe, it kind of works.
Better than Pandemonium (1982, despite a talented cast including a wasted pre-fame Phil Hartman, Tom Smothers as a Canuxploitation-spoofing Mountie), Wacko (1983) and Saturday the 14th  (1981-  Jeffrey Tambor playing a predatory sort in makeup - ha ha ha, huh?). Youtubed.

Something Wild (1986) - A bland, overstyled comedy/actioner.

Ga, Ga - Chwala bohaterom (1986) -  Polish space opera from Piotr Szulkin. Starring Jerzy Stuhr, Daniel Olbrychski and some people from Soupy Norman.  Possibly a sequel to Szulkin's War of the Worlds. In the same televisual satire area. Youtubed.

Programmed to Kill (1987) - Sandahl Bergman an unconvincingly blonde Palestinian in this Greek-set, California-made Terminator imitation. Like Monster in the Closet, features thirteen-year-old Paul Walker in an early role. Youtubed.

Remote Control (1988) - An interesting idea  (fake 50s b-movies sent out on VHS used to achieve an alien invasion, now easily thwarted by IMDB) cack-handedly achieved. Avoid. Youtubed.

Black Eagle (1988) - Boring Kosugi/Van Damme Bond-alike from Imperial.

Maniac Cop (1988) - Despite a Larry Cohen script, this feels like an uneasy hybrid between average 80s actioner and average 80s slasher.

Dr. Hackenstein (1988) - Phyllis Diller, and Anne and Logan Ramsey  star in this peculiar sub-Reanimator gore and sexcom that nevertheless weirdly has a period mittel Europe setting. Youtubed.

The Burbs (1989) - Some fun sequences and jokes, but it doesn't hold together.

Basket Case 3 - The Progeny (1989)- Interesting ideas fail to click.

Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge (1989) - Another proof that somehow horror in the 90s got bland. This is a dreary, glossy updating of the old story with a rubbish baseball-hatted Phantom. Youtubed.

Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991) - Starless but unusually glossy yet laughless Blood Feast redo. Youtubed.

Wicked City (1992) - Shot on video though expensive but noisy and unattractive Hong Kong anime adap about shape-shifting "raptors". Youtubed.

Dracula - Pages from a Virgin Diary (2002) - I admire the idea, but it's weird. I know Guy Maddin is weird. But it's dizzying, confusing, then again it is a ballet. I like the newsreel-y bits though.

murder by the clock supernatural gog double door hidden hand body disappears blood and roses television spy the girl from scotland yard black moon faywray face behnd the mask womaneater cry of the werewolf before i hang man they could not hang fog 1933   flesh and fantasy