Sunday, July 22, 2007

My 10 Favorite movies

1. Captain Blood (1935)- It’s no secret that this is my favorite film of all time. I’m a huge Errol Flynn fan but that’s not the only reason I love this movie. Captain Blood has everything- action, adventure, romance, humor, sword-fights, Basil Rathbone and some of the best dialog you’ll ever find in a pirate movie. It tells a sweeping story very well and I love re-watching it and introducing others to it. One of the best films ever made.

2. Citizen Kane (1941)- Touch of Evil is a fantastic film, but this one is slightly better. What can I say that hasn’t already been said- Brilliant from start to finish. As close to perfect as a movie can get. But who heard him say Rosebud?

3. Fight Club (1999)- Maybe the best film David Fincher will ever make and the fact that something this good can be made these days is a testament to the survival of the creative spirit in Hollywood. A perfect cast, razor sharp direction, an incredible script and one of the best whipsaw endings ever put on celluloid. It only gets better with subsequent viewings. Funny, sad, hopeful and nihilistic- it’s all this and more.

4. King Kong (1933)- Beauty and the Beast writ large- with a monkey! A beautiful fantasy that still makes me cry every time I see it. Plus, I like watching an ape kick dinosaur ass!

5. The Thing (1982)- One of the most influential horror movies of the last 30 years (second only to Alien) is also one of the best. Paranoia elevated to a high cinematic art and backed up with some of the goriest FX they could think of. Kurt Russell leads a great cast asking “Who Goes There?”.

6. Danger: Diabolik (1968)- With all the amazing horror films Mario Bava made I end up choosing his pop art comic book thriller. Am I nuts, or what? Still, this is one great movie that moves like a shot. Watching a master criminal out smart the cops has never been this much fun before or since. And Morricone’s score is unforgettable!

7. The Three Musketeers/The Four Musketeers (1973-74)- I am not cheating by naming two films as one! It IS one big movie. Just ask the actors. The best version of the Dumas novel and one of the best swashbuckling films ever. With a great cast (and many career-best performances) and the best swordplay humor of all time. I laughed, I cried- it became a part of me!

8. Vertigo (1958)- Hitchcock at his most effective. Beautiful and melancholy- it speaks to that part of us that wants the truth, but knows that the truth can be an awful thing.

9. Dawn of the Dead (1977)- Horror films don’t come any gorier, tenser, creepier or better written than Romero’s zombie masterwork. The fact that most of the scary stuff happens in broad daylight only adds to the feeling of a world gone mad. I prefer the 140-minute cut but the shorter one will do.

10. Planet of the Apes (1968)- I could watch this movie every six months and still enjoy every minute. Constantly labeled a ‘near-classic’ (what the hell is that?) this is one of the great science fiction films. Calling it anything less than a classic is an insult. I even like the sequels!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

GORILLA AT LARGE is coming soon!

Why, with all the amazing classic horror movies coming out on DVD this Fall, am I most excited about this one double feature? Because I am a sick, sick, curious man, my friends.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Somebody really loves STARCRASH

I related the tale my STARCRASH hunt over at Eccentric Cinema two years ago. I still think its one of the great unsung BAD movies in need of restoration and special edition DVD release. I long for a commentary track with director Luigi Cozzi, Caroline Munroe and anyone else crazy enough to moderate. I would pay a large sum of money for this.

But it would seem that others love the movie even more than I do........

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Summer Sucks (for the most part)

The summer of ’07 is shaping up to be pretty damned bad. So far there have been several disappointments and only one real standout. I know its only July but so far the offerings at the Cineplex have sucked out loud.

SPIDERMAN 3- Everyone else has already beat this one to death so I’ll just jump in to say that if they hadn’t wedged Venom into the story it could have been great. That would have eliminated the worst sequences in the story and shaved the running time back to a manageable length. More Sandman- Less Venom. One of the neatest things about Raimi’s Spidey films so far have been the playfulness of the way the characters are treated but here he and his co-writers completely blew it. The asinine ‘Saturday Night Fever’ sequence and the ridiculous dance scene are embarrassing. So bad that I pray somehow they get left out of any DVD release to spare others from having to see them. Rarely have I felt so dumbfounded by a filmmaker’s choices. Stupid barely begins to cover it. And why introduce Gwen Stacey now? And after saving Gwen from falling what about the wildly swinging crane, Spidey? And why hire such a good actor to play Gwen’s father if you’re going to give him nothing to do? And the Venom meteor crashes about 100 feet from Parker? And Brock is in the church as Spidey rips off the black suit? And where was that Osborn butler in the first two movies? And why didn’t he set Harry straight before now? And why can’t Spider Man keep his damned mask on? And tying Sandman to Uncle Ben’s death was brain dead. A mess. There are good things in the film but the crap overwhelms them.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBEAN: AT WORLD’S END- Wow! Another mess. I loved the first two of this series but they seriously lost focus several times here. I still enjoyed it but there were too many times when they obviously lost control of the story and were just flailing about. The film would have been a good deal better without the Singapore section and the entire Goddess subplot. A simpler straight line plot that got us to the final sea battle would have been a much sharper way to go. But even with the sloppiness there’s a lot here to like. Depp is fun, the action scenes are entertaining and the double and triple crosses are just as fun as before. I even liked the neat little THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY moment which recalled the brilliant but understated three way standoff from the first movie. For the first time with these movies I feel the way others have with the earlier ones- Shorter would have been better. Fun overall and the sequence with Depp and the crabs was amazing but it’s a shame to have ended the series with a thud.

MR. BROOKS- Words cannot express how shocked I was at how much I enjoyed this film. Smart, funny, tense, well acted by a great cast and with more than a few surprises this is one damned good movie. I have no idea why it was decided to release it in the summer but it is so far the only bright spot in a pitch black field of terrible sequels. Every few years Kevin Costner makes a truly great movie with the last one being the also criminally under seen OPEN RANGE. This is a movie that people will be discovering on video for years to come and wondering why they never heard of it. As the story unfolded I at first thought they were trying to cram in too much plot but by the last 20 minutes they wrapped everything into a nice neat ball that left a satisfied smile on my face. Smart scripting and a willingness to be nasty help this jump into my top movies of 2007 so far. I can’t recommend this one strongly enough. Of course, I’m sure it bombed at the box office.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Why in the Hell does this film not click? All the elements are in place for a superb giallo- beautiful, often nude ladies (Barbara Bach, Claudia Auger, Barbara Bouchet); mysterious killer with odd modus operandi (needle through the back of the neck); interesting, almost futuristic looking locations (love those forward thinking 60’s architects) ; and a lead actor who is good onscreen and can actually act (Giancarlo Giannini). It’s very attractively packaged but it just never comes together. I think it might be the rather pedestrian story that is never very engaging. It’s the standard giallo murder mystery with no real twists and instead of feeling pretty but shallow (like some GOOD gialli can) it just feels dull and hollow. The story crawls along with far too many boring scenes between Giannini and his wife. I never once felt anything about any of the simple, blank characters and sadly this lack of concern cripples any suspense or interest in the goings on. I was mildly curious about the identity of the killer but once revealed it was only an eyebrow-raiser instead of a shocking discovery.

The most interesting thing about the story was Giannini’s police inspector realizing as the case drags on that he’s not cut out for this kind of work. And smartly the film shows us that he’s right! He’s actually a pretty terrible detective missing clues and accepting things he should be questioning. Indeed the only reason he manages to catch the killer at all is because the sick scumbag takes a liking to the cop’s own wife. Without that screw-up and the finding of a clue so obvious he’d have had to be blind to miss it he might never have found the criminal. It was interesting to see the main investigator be so out of his depth and aware of it but it was really the only point of interest.

On an odd note- the Blue Underground DVD cover has a quote from some thing called HORRORVIEW stating that THE BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA is ‘the best giallo ever made’. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest the writer of said quote has either never seen many movies in the genre or was stoned out of his gourd while watching this film. Hell! Maybe a bribe was involved?