Friday, March 16, 2018

Crypt of the Living Dead - 1973

Also known as Hannah, Queen of the Vampires.

The black and white era of movies was over in the 60's pretty much.  There was a line in the mid 60's where just about everything was being shot in color, and whether that's cause the audience expected it, or color got cheaper, or black and white wasn't "cool" anymore, I'm not really sure.  I expect it would've been a combination of all of these.

However, some outlying films were still being made in black and white, and Crypt aka Hannah was one of these.  But I tell you, this movie looks and sounds and plays out like it was made LONG before 1973.  IMDb and Wikipedia don't claim that this is one to have been made earlier and just released now, so I'm left to assume that this movie is incredibly dated, no doubt extremely low budget, and quite scraping.  Scraping as in, scraping the bottom of the barrel.  It's a term, and I'm going to start saying it.

This is a heavily atmospheric movie, which I will admit I liked.  It had a creepy eeriness to the movie, and it was well made.  I liked the music a lot and even incorrectly guessed it was done by a well known person - spoiler alert it was not.  Good music though, good cinematography, and a strangeness that suited my mood quite well.

I'll admit that after Last of the Belles I was feeling really uninteresting in this boxset.  I didn't want to delve into another bad 70's movie, and I was really against the prospect which I do have to face here:  this boxset is not sci fi, horror, or any cool genre like that.  This is a set of themed movies and...  Ugh, okay fine.  I will reveal the boxset:
As you can see, this sounds promising, until you realize that by "cheesy" they are basically going to throw any sort of random-ass unknown public domain 70's movie onto it and justify it cause "it's from the 70's".  Of course this is actually two sets back to back, the Excellent 80's and the Swingin' 70's which is where I started.

It was a decent enough return to the horror or thriller genre, and I was glad to have picked this one.  Some dumb western or "comedy" movie might've pushed me over the edge of sanity.  3.5 stars.

Friday, March 9, 2018

F. Scott Fitzgerald and 'The Last of the Belles' - 1974

Also just known as The Last of the Belles.

Tell me what's wrong in this picture.  The genre definition for this movie is: Biography, Drama and Romance.  You can well imagine, you should be able to guess what's wrong there.  I don't really review dramatic romantic biographies.  Thanks, boxset.

F. Scott Fitzgerald is suffering from writers block while hanging with his wife and on a trip.  He is also a pompous asshole and a self absorbed douchebag in the film.  He suddenly gets inspired by his wife, who is apparently a total bitch.  He thus begins to write the story "The Last of the Belles".

In The Last of the Belles, Susan Sarandon plays Ailie Calhoun, a simple small town girl with dreams of something bigger.  She is the object of intense attraction by about everyone in town, and suitor after suitor seems to become infatuated with her.  Sarandon does a good job, and desperately tries to sell the role and carry the film, but goddamn this film was just so BORING.

I got through a lot of this in one night, and at some point realized I was an hour into it and still had a soul-crushing 38 minutes left of the thing.  I turned it the fuck off and finished it last night while I sipped rum and drew my comic book I'm drawing.  I left the room a few times without pausing this movie.  I'm 1000% certain I didn't miss a thing.

It's just not what I'm looking for.  Sorry, bro.  It's romantic, it's well acted, it probably makes sense, but it was dull, it was long, and I didn't care at all.  The little intro and outro with F. Scott aren't even good, they barely are different at all in fact.  So...  That said, I was considering giving it zero stars, and you know what fuck it, why change that?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Hanged Man - 1974

TV movie, a pilot for a possible series with Steve Forrest, and a western movie.  What am I doing reviewing this you may ask, but then you'd obviously be new to the blog if you asked that. This ones going to be short.

Steve Forrest plays a convicted criminal in the old west, and he is about to be hanged for his crimes.  He consorts with the priest, he is regretting his crimes, but it's whatev, he'll be hung anyways.  Then the day comes, and he is roped up and hung.  But twist is he somehow survives the hanging.  Laws state that someone could only be sentenced to death once, so he is then free to live, and he turns over a new leaf and begins to protect a widow and her farm from some baddies.

First of all, this movie felt way longer than the IMDb length listed of 73 minutes.  I almost clearly remember it being an hour 45 minutes or so, but I wasn't paying 100% attention.  I had watched the 80's classic Firestarter and pretty much chugged a 40 of Country Club Malt Liquor.
Trust me, this picture of Country Club is much more interesting 
than any photo from the film would have been.

Firestarter is a great underrated Steve King flick.  It's got to be up there with the best, and I firmly believe all the best King movies were the ones made in the 80's. So I followed it up with 74's The Hanged Man, I was feeling buzzed from the booze, and I switched to rum during Hanged.  Thus, I didn't really pay attention like I was saying.  

I have one more 40 of Country Club in my fridge, I'm saving it for yet another 70's movie.  

Although I had a slight desire when I was watching this to watch it again, and pay attention this time, I know already that I'm not going to do that.  I haven't made my "announcement" yet, but I have something like 98 more movies to watch for this blog, and that's a giant hint if there ever was one.  

This movie gets a slightly below average 2 stars.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes - 1963

There are good Roger Corman movies.  I started his flick from 1970 Gas (actual spelling: Gassssssss) Self aware, yes and perhaps even before it was "cool," but what a bad intro to a movie.  I literally turned it off, being in the mood for an older black and white horror movie instead.  I clicked on X here, unaware until beginning credits that it was another Corman movie.  No wonder Amazon recommended it.

As the movie begins, we follow a character type I miss in movies, the older scientist who is calm and cool, mature and sophisticated.  Ray Milland as the main doctor James Xavier brings a distinct no-nonsense calculating scientist to the table,but a man who is still human, with a sense of scientific interest which only takes one line of dialogue to explain it.  I'd write it here,but IMDb doesn't have it. Something about how he lives to discover and to do more.

Anyways, he's a character type we don't get anymore, and pretty soon his ambition leads him to test a eye enhancer on himself.  The enhancer supposedly will led him see more of the light spectrum.  It works, and lets him see through things soon enough. He begins to try and use the vision in his work as a doctor, and soon enough runs into trouble as he keeps upping his dosage and as people catch on there's something different about him.

I really liked this movie, and I have to say it may take the crown of best Corman movie I've seen, aside from the great Attack of the Crab Monsters. Although that's a classically bad monster flick, and this movie is the great mix of thriller and drama which was prolific in the 50's and 60's.  It's a classic in every way, and I deeply liked it.  The situations are relate-able, the characters make sense, and the movie makes sense.  There's only a few plot points which are "dumb" or don't make sense.  They had to eventually give Dr. Xavier a reason to be on the run, so they randomly and without explanation have him accidentally kill his friend and co-doctor.  Weak, yes, but just go with it.

I wasn't sure how it'd end, and the last 10 minutes are solid.  We know he can't go back, and we know everything has to come to a conclusion, and I liked what they did with it.  I will give this I'm considering 5 stars.  Huh.  I may just do that.  I drank pilsner as I watched it.  Which was nice.  Yes.  5 stars.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Proud and Damned - 1972

Movie number two of new boxset and already we're wondering what the hell happened in this movie.  It's a western, it is perhaps one of the few westerns I have reviewed on here, and it's extremely small-scale and bland.  I'm not gonna have a lot to say here.

Will Hansen and his friends are a bunch of gun-trained, experienced, and imposing cowboys hanging out in a town when a local conflict gets brought to a boil.  They become the targets for both sides of the conflict, as a quick way either side could win by recruiting the cowboys to their side.  Same plot as Yojimbo?  Check.

It's not terrible but it is pretty bland.  Not a lot of action, tension, or interest.  Sure the actors were okay and the whole thing was done competently enough, but it's got that banal mix of average-ness and nonaction which really makes one wonder what the fuck they're watching and why.  I didn't remember a thing about it right after I finished it, let alone a few days later.

A better title than movie, and a gleaming example of a "Meh" movie.  1 star.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Don't Go Near the Park - 1979

Yet another Don't masterpiece.  I'm not bothering with every link, so see this review here of Don't Go in the Woods, and it has the links in the first sentence or so.  Much like Demons I'm whittling this down to only a few remaining movies, as I intend to watch Demons 3: Black Demons and then Don't Hang Up and Don't Look in the Attic.  I am also considering Don't Look Now, the Nicholas Roeg film, cause I like him as a director a lot.

Don't Go Near the Park was directed by 19 year old Lawrence D. Foldes, and if that's not a telling statement, then I don't know what is.  Does this movie look like it was directed by a 19 year old?  Yes, it does.  Story over.  Review over.

I kid.  It does look amateur though, and it feels on par with that level of direction.  It's a horror movie, a sort of slasher or thriller.  It isn't as terrible as one might expect, but it does in general feel incomplete and I honestly can't imagine why most people would be watching it.

Scant on plot, essentially you have a father dude who has a daughter so that he and his sister can sacrifice her and get out of their doom of being immortal.  They've been alive for about 12,000 years, where they have been killing others because if they kill people they get to remain young looking, versus being both old looking and immortal the entire time.  So he has a daughter called Bondi, and has to wait until she's a certain age, then his plan is to sacrifice Bondi and this will shuck their immortal coil.  Sounds a lot like the basic plot to Elves, doesn't it?

Also like Elves, we follow Bondi until she connects with her group of friends.  She has a fight with her dad and connects to Nick and Cowboy, two homeless kids living in a park with Petranella, an old woman who wears a disguise.  Petranella wears a disguise to scare locals and the law out of the park so they can all continue to live there as a sort-of family.  Unbeknownst to Bondi, Petranella is also the sister of her dad, and shares the 12,000 year immortality curse.

Mildly confused?  Yes, and it gets worse.  Petranella kills people to remain young looking, and that's why there's the whole "don't go near the park" thing.  A local cop/dude Taft meets Nick and befriends him and warns him to stay out of the park.  All is well and good until Bondi reaches the age to be sacrificed, her dad tracks her down, and then the shit gets real as its Petranella versus the dad.  Oh, and randomly Petranella and dad can now shoot laser beams from their eyes, and summon fire with words.  You didn't know they could do that before the last four minutes of the movie?  Yeah, why would you know that, they've never done it before.

It's your average sort of confusing, badly shot, but could-be-worse type fare, and it won't hurt nor will it entertain in great quantities.  It will do.  And give you about 1.5 stars worth of entertainment.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Katherine - 1975

Christmas came, again.  It usually has a way of doing that, huh?  My ex-wife or current wife who is living somewhere else and we don't sleep together or really love each other much anymore got me a NEW DVD BOXSET which I will not reveal yet.  I also did watch and dislike the final movie on my Strange Tales movie by the way.

Katherine was a movie which I chose at random from the set and popped in with zero expectation or hope.  I mean, to give a hint, this boxset was another installation of Mill Creek's "hey we got all these public domain movies, let's put them on a DVD and make money off them" sets a la Sci Fi Invasion boxset which I hold so near and dear to my heart.

Katherine begins, and... is that Sissy Spacek?  It is!  Sweet!  Hey that's...the guy from Happy Days, that's Henry Winkler! And Art Carney and Julie Kavner in the credits.  Wow, cool.  And then the movie was really going, and completely out of nowhere it blindsided me by not only being good, but being super progressive, interesting, chilling, and genuinely fascinating.

The first thing I noticed was the style.  You have what I can only describe to modern audiences as The Office-like approach.  You know, sans comedy.  Psuedo-documentary style film where you have a plot but then you cut away to the actors talking in character about what their screen character was saying or doing, about their feeling or emotions at the time, giving insight.

As the plot unfolds, we see a group of girls graduating from school.  They're all young and naive, not knowing what to expect or what life holds for them.  Sissy Spacek as Katherine decides to take some time and go to South America, which is her first taste of witnessing an oppressive government.  She tries to help out the locals, and is disappointed and angry by the resistance she gets from the government.  Then she comes back to the US and tries to solve her own government issues there.

My mom is a government-hating, outspoken woman similar to Katherine in the beginning of the film.  Like Katherine, my mom goes to South America to try and help out.  This movie did, in that way, feel "close to home" for me.  Katherine comes back, hooks into the local hippie movement of the 60's, and start protesting regularly.  She soon goes more extreme, however, going into the underground and having conflicts with the law.

The style, the pacing, the acting, and the film subject itself were all top notch.  I knew I was in for a treat just because of Sissy Spacek's acting in several of the scenes.  She was amazing to watch, and simply becomes Katherine.  They also did a fantastic job of having her "look" slowly get more funkified and extreme as the time goes on, morphing from average woman to a rebel with strange glasses and hair and style of dress.

I am not sure what else to say about it, but the whole thing was an eye opening, wonderful experience.  I genuinely feel like I actually learned something from it.  In the end, when the movie finishes, I have to say the message perhaps gets changed a tiny bit, but it's a solid, great film which deserves to be remembered.  What a way to kick off the set.