Thursday, May 29, 2008

PREHISTORIC WOMEN (1950) poster art

I've never seen this film but I have seen the Hammer movie by the same title. I wonder if this film is any better?

Nice poster any way.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

FRANKENSTEIN 1970 (1958) trailer

This is one of the few of Karloff's horror films I've still not been able to see. I've never seen it on television, not found a video tape and its MIA on DVD like so many other rare movies. I may have to go the bootleg route sooner or later to finally see it.

In my search of the trailer I found the best source was the brilliant TRAILERS FROM HELL site. If you're a film nut this is a wonderful place to visit. Legendary directors telling tales about beloved (and not so beloved) movies over the film's trailers is highly entertaining for any movie buff. Check it out but be careful! Its addictive.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A great summer film- IRON MAN

The summer movie season is upon us with one excellent movie already out and raking in the cash. IRON MAN is a rare thing these days. It's a crowd pleasing special effects film with strong characters and fine acting. But as with nearly any film the real strength of it is the darn well written script. I think this is the one element that has been overlooked by the popular support the movie is getting. It's easy to praise Robert Downey, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow and the fantastic directing of Jon Favreau- because they ARE great. It's harder to realize that the heart of the high quality story and its intelligent structure are owed to a very tight script. There is no wasted effort in the telling of the tale with only the smallest of asides to flesh out the personalities of the main characters. There are some fine performances in this movie (and there was reportedly some improvisation on set among the actors) but if the stuff on the printed page isn't solid you can't get to the high level of quality shown here.

You might not think writing a script for something like this is all that hard given that there are more than 40 years worth of comic book stories to be drawn on. But one only has to look at cinematic disasters like the FANTASTIC FOUR movies to see that having a large amount of material to adapt does NOT mean you will find someone able to craft a good script out of it. Or that you will find someone who actually cares about the project enough to strive to make a good film. I mean honestly- the person responsible for directing the FF movies needs to just stop.

Comic book/super hero fans have been spoiled over the past few years. The first two X-MEN and SPIDER MAN films were excellent things. Well made, high quality tales handled by people who clearly love the subject and had the skill to make a good movie. But there are just as many poor examples (SPIDER MAN 3, BATMAN & ROBIN, etc.) showing how easy it is to just pump out something. And as long as the profits for the FANTASTIC FOUR films remain as high as the ones racked up by the good ones like IRON MAN there will be less incentive to make the really good ones. After all- they all generate cash. Who cares if it's good?

Well- other than people like me. But what do I know? I liked HULK. And SUPERMAN RETURNS. A lot.

Monday, May 19, 2008

DEVIL'S NIGHTMARE (1971) trailer

One of my favorite pieces of 1970s Euro-Trash horror. It's both a 'Deal with the Devil' movie and a 'Death by the 7 Deadly Sins' story. Plus it has the lovely Erica Blanc!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

BATMAN (1943)- Chapter 4

Chapter 4 is entitled ‘Slaves of the Rising Sun’ and begins with Batman slugged on the train trestle and left to be crushed under the wheels of the advancing locomotive. As the bad guys dive for cover Robin rushes back onto the bridge, grabs Bats and shoves his unconscious form into the river below just as the engine barrels past. Even though the dynamic duo kept the dynamite from going off the evil henchmen think sinister Japanese boss saboteur Daka will be happy that Batman & Robin appear to have perished in their escape. But only one of them has the backbone to report their failure. This brave soul goes to Daka’s hidden lair, tells him the train wasn’t destroyed and then informs the deadly mastermind he’s quitting. Indeed he gets a little mouthy with his resignation and pulls a gun to effect an exit. But Daka is a one wily villain and drops the impudent former employee into a convenient alligator pit.

Chuckling over his brilliance but peeved the radium gun has still not been retrieved Daka wastes no time setting his next dastardly plan into action. Linda’s office is expecting to take delivery of a shipment of radium. In order to intercept it the gang once again calls her and tells her to go to a certain address to obtain some information from a fortune teller about her missing Uncle Martin. Linda calls Bruce in hopes of him accompanying her to the shady rendezvous. But knowing this must be another trap he begs off with a lame excuse. He’s beginning to look like a real wuss to his supposed girlfriend.

Rushing to the address ahead of his lady love he and Dick subdue the phony swami/evil henchman. Bruce takes his place and is able to fool Linda as to his identity and sends her back home. But before she can exit the dark building two hidden henchmen grab her, knock her out and steal the papers needed to accept the radium shipment. Spotting an armored truck speeding away Dick and Bruce realize something isn’t right, search the building and find the unconscious Linda. Awakened she reveals that the delivery order papers are missing. Calming her down, they send her home with Alfred as a guard while they change into costume and head off after the truck.

Now we come to one of the most exciting and fun action scenes in the serial so far. Giving chase in the non-descript Batmobile Bats & Robin are seen by the bag guys and a rolling gun battle ensues. Firing steadily at the masked men as they speed along a cliff side road the henchmen are desperate to get them. But Batman pulls out the captured radium gun and in a fantastic stunt leaps onto the top of the speeding truck. Blowing open the back of the vehicle he incapacitates the men there and then shoves his way into the cab to grapple with the driver. As the two men struggle the truck lurches to the left and plummets off the cliff face and down the mountainside! This is a great sequence and bodes well for the series’ future action scenes.

Has Batman been killed? Will Linda stop falling for stupid phone calls about her missing Uncle? Will Robin save Batman again? Or will he realize he’s the brains of the operation and deal with these Japanese nasties on his own? Come back next time as we learn the answers to these and possibly hundreds of other questions in Chapter 5.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloody Pit of Horror (1965) Trailer

Considering what I named this blog I should have posted this up long ago.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Can. Not. Wait. part 2

I loved the first one so this has a lot to live up to.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Monday, May 05, 2008

SS GIRLS (1977)

I cannot say I love Nazi exploitation films because I really don’t. But I can say I have enjoyed my latest trip down this swastika covered path. Not because it was a good movie but because it was hysterically inept. Comedic, even. I have come to believe the Bruno Mattei was put on this earth to make bad films. It’s like a calling. Some mad god somewhere looked down from on high and bequeathed us mere mortals the most hack-tastic Italian director it was possible to create. And he didn’t just make bad horror films- oh no. He crapped out movies in nearly every genre. Until recently I thought he was just a bad filmmaker who often ripped off other films. But the more of his movies I see I realize that maybe ALL he was capable of was ripping off other films! And I don’t just mean rip off in the standard Hollywood way of “Get me a film like that pronto”. I mean as in bold faced Xeroxing of entire sections of other people’s movies and calling the resultant copy your own. I am willing to bet that there is not a single movie to his credit that isn’t a direct copy of another film.

Now- sometimes that can be good.

A few years ago I picked up a bootleg of one of his early 2000s films because it sounded sordid and strange. It turned out to be a scene by scene copy of the Nicholas Cage film 8MM. And when I say copy I mean not just the idea or plot—I mean everything! The only exceptions were a few things that must have been too expensive to shoot on his budget and the fact that the main character was a woman. He may have even pitched it like that- “It’s 8MM with a sexy woman instead.” Boom! A new Bruno Mattei classic is made!

8MM was bad enough without Mattei getting his hands on it- or at least you might have thought so. But strangely, watching this example of his hackery was kind of fun. It was like playing spot the rip off while wondering if this movie might have the balls to actually follow through on its slimy premise. Of course it didn’t. But I have to admit that as bad as 8MM was if I had to choose between watching Joel Schumacher’s Hollywood junk or Bruno’s junky Xerox I’d go with slime master Mattei. At least with his film there is the feeling that something truly nasty might happen.

The truth of the matter is that every filmmaker steals. It’s how things get done. But the idea is to bring something of yourself to your variant. Not Mattei. When he makes a copy of DAWN OF THE DEAD that sucker is going to be a low rent version with silly nature footage and a ripped off score. When he makes a Rambo rip off its going to be confusing but thatched huts will blow up. And when he makes a Nazi film he’s going to copy SALON KITTY because that film made big bucks. Which brings us to SS GIRLS. This film is a silly, silly thing. Like many of the Nazisplotation films of the 1970s it wallows in deviant sexual acts all while imperiously condemning those engaging in such terrible things. Of course, the film just wants to present a parade of naked bodies in faked couplings with a backdrop of Nazi paraphernalia to make it look like Germany in the mid 1940s. The hairstyles make that leap impossible (for me, at least) because I just don’t think most German soldiers were able to blow dry their hair on the front lines. But what the film doesn’t have is a lot of the usual torture and violence that is almost standard in these movies. Not that there isn’t some gunplay and a few murders but there are no hot irons pressed against flinching flesh or other types of bodily cruelty. I was glad of this as I’ve had enough of that kind of crap over the last few years in HOSTEL, SAW and their various knock offs.

I was going to provide a synopsis of the story but its really not necessary. If you’re the slightest bit interested in seeing this you don’t need one and if you aren’t then laying out the tale isn’t going to sway you to check it out. It is what it is. Take it or leave it. That may be a good way of looking at any of Mattei’s movies now that I think of it.

This film is more widely known as PRIVATE HOUSE OF THE SS and that’s as good a title as any I guess. But as I giggled my way through it I came up with a better one- CORK SPITTING NAZIS. Why this odd title you ask? Because that is the single most repeated action in the entire movie! If a champagne cork was pulled out with teeth and spit across the room once in this film it was done a dozen times. It got to the point that I was completely surprised when someone managed to drink alcohol and NOT spit a cork. And when, of course, the cork spitting was finally used to show one character’s contempt for another I openly applauded. It was nice to see the spitting have some reason behind it. Plus the character in question was insanely overacting so spitting was the least of his etiquette crimes in the scene.

I guess I can recommend this film to the select few people out there that would find this kind of thing entertaining. I know I did. I just don't know what that says about me.

Friday, May 02, 2008

What I watched in April 2008

3:10 TO YUMA (2007)- 9 (now that’s a great western)
ONE MISSED CALL (2004)- 7 (spooky Japanese ghostliness)
SAW 2 (2005)- 5 (missing the drop-dead stupid ending of the first one, but it still ain’t good)
BABYLON 5: THIRDSPACE (1998)- 6 (rewatch)
NANCY DREW, REPORTER (1939)- 6 (I love these mystery programmers)
REEKER (2005)- 7 (well done with a nice ending)
ADVISE & CONSENT (1962)- 10 (classic political machinations)
THE RUINS (2008) – 7 (solid horror movie)
MICHAEL CLAYTON (2007)- 9 (straightforward, classy drama)
A STOLEN FACE (1952)- 6 (British noir)
ATTACK FORCE Z (1982)- 8 (only the crappy score detracts from this great film)
THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (1981)- 7 (BBC TV adaptation in 6 parts)
MULBERRY ST. (2007)- 6 (good but not great)
A VIEW TO A KILL (1985)- 2 (rewatch) (easily the worst Bond film)
WET ASPHALT (1958)- 8 (excellent European noir)
CYBORG (1989)- 3 (I expect more from bad post-apocalyptic sci-fi)
HALLOWEEN 4 (1988)- 3 (after a great title sequence it’s all downhill)
HALLOWEEN 5 (1989)- 2 (Wow! It can get worse!)

April was a busy month and I needed movies to relax even more than usual. Often I’ll stop some of my class work just long enough to watch half an hour of a film. It kind of clears my mind of statistics or whatever else is clogging it up. That sounds kind of strange now that I think about it!

I decided it was time to finally watch the HALLOWEEN sequels past number 3. I’ve felt for a few years that HALLOWEEN 2 with all its faults is the near perfect ending for the Michael Myers character. Both he and Doc Loomis go up in a fiery blast that brings things to a satisfactory stop. With 4 doing away with that ending in a completely dumb way these later movies get off on a terrible footing and there really is not enough quality behind the camera to make up for these deficiencies. And 5 was even dumber! I might have to eventually watch 6 out a feeling of wonder at the silliness that crept in to the story line. Might!

I never got around to watching one of those Nazi exploitation movies but I fully intend to catch one in May. The one directed by Bruno Mattei is calling my name and since Mattei is a wonderfully awful director it should give me plenty of unintentional laughs.

On the TV front I was happy to be up to speed on ‘BattleStar Galactica’ and have been looking forward to this year’s fourth and final season. So far the first four episodes have been excellent and I look forward to it each week even as I’m somewhat bothered by the weird sadomasochistic tone episode four took on. ‘Lost’ has returned and is kicking things up another notch. This show is firing on all cylinders and it makes me wish I could race through the whole season much faster.