Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A double dose of monthly movie... er... (something beginning with M). All the films I have watched in September and October. There are mullets involved.
  1. The Hidden (1987) - Horror buddy cop crap in which Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri (who he?) shoot guns a lot and Claudia Christian gets to sport a set of 'prosthetic breasts' because she padded her bra for the audition and the costumes wouldn't allow her to get away with that for the shoot. I know this sort of stuff!
  2. Inception (2010) - interesting but I ended up pretty uninvolved.
  3. The Wizard of Oz (1939) - post huge Sunday lunch flop film
  4. Gremloids (aka Hyperspace 1984) - a hopeless, very cheap mess of a Star Wars / Encounters of the Third Kind spoof which has nothing going for it apart from the central villain who wears a bucket on his head and all of whose speeches seem to end with the words "...or you will die!". For some, nearly inexplicable, reason I am very fond of this film. There's something about its haplessness and the enthusiasm with which it was obviously made that is just a tad inspiring. Wish I knew exactly what it was that makes me like it so much. I do know however that will be admonishing my kids (who watched it with me) in a mock Darth Vaderian voice for the next few days:

    "Okay, girls, time to wash your hands for dinner ... or you will die!"

    My eldest is fed up with me doing it already.
  5. Terror Train (1980) - Somewhere in Los Angeles in the late seventies, in a dark and secret room, were three barrels. The barrels were full of small pieces of paper each with a single word written on them. Every full moon, studio executives high on coke and naked, save for Gucci bondage gear, ritually sacrificed their personal assistants on an altar before their phallic golden idol. Smeared with their victims' blood, the executives then called upon the chthonic gods of Hollywood to bless them at the box office. The high priest summoned forth three of the anointed and, as one, they plunged their arms deep into the barrels. Each pulled out a single piece of paper, opened it, and then read what was writ thereupon: 'Frat Party' read the first, 'Psycho-killer' read the second, 'Train' read the third. There was a moment's silence. Heads were bowed. The gods had spoken. An acolyte picked up the phone and dialled Jamie Lee Curtis...
  6. Son of Rambow (2007) - I wanted to like this so much but in the end was bored, irritated, and just wished it would stop. Some films just don't know how to end and this was one of them. If I hadn't been watching it in company I would have abandoned it.
  7. Transamerica (2005) - I love watching films where I have never seen the actors before. They are who they are portraying. It's not (deep American movie trailer man voice in your head please) "MegaStar X is Johhny Hero..." time. My copy of this film is a BAFTA, 'For Your Consideration' screener which has about the plainest vanilla cover I have ever come across: film's title on the front and spine, and a tickbox list of all the categories for which it has been nominated on the back. Not even an age rating. Strange the things you find in Fort William Charity shops. I've never seen Desperate Housewives. I was still not sure if the actor playing the transsexual hero of this film was male or female until the end credits rolled. Why Felicity Huffman didn't get an Oscar is a wonder. A hell of a performance. Loved it. I was in tears at the end.
  8. Bridge to Terabithia (2007) - and I was in tears for a great chunk of this one too. Daughter number one was inconsolable.
  9. The Beast Must Die (1974) - The pitch: The Most Dangerous Game meets Ten Little Indians - with werewolves! How could it fail? It did. Very dull.
  10. Scorcher (2002) - by the numbers cheapo 'action' movie in which the world is doomed to an early spanking by Chinese underground bomb tests accelerating tectonic plate activity, which will lead to a runaway greenhouse gas, which will something something ill-thought (through very sciencey) babble blah blah.... Look. Just take it from us we're father / daughter scientists - with relationship problems - but we have LAPTOPS! so we know what we're talking about... The world's doomed unless we explode a nuclear bomb under Los Angeles. Get me the sweaty, sexist, insubordinate hero-type that rescued the maverick scientist's daughter just after the credits, he's got a team of misfit stereotype hero type chums but let's send along a creepy agency man in case he drops a ball - sorry 'drops THE ball'. My god! Hero boy's estranged daughter is trapped in the city.... the ironic troubled father/daughter parallels! but wait! There's been a miscalculation... They need two simultaneous explosions at the same depth ten miles apart and there's only eight hours left... and the Agency man has killed half the team because.... well some reason.... oh, you know the rest.... It's the sort of film where the hero not only takes along a spare nuclear bomb just in case the first one doesn't go off but he can carry it in a duffel bag and run vast distances with it without breaking a sweat. Scorcher turns up on the Movies4Men channel a lot but I seem to have accidentally bought a copy. I think I was seduced by Rutger Hauer's name on the front. He must have been on set for the whole of two days.
  11. Warrior of the Lost World (1983) Cheap surreally languid Italian post-apoc bollocks with spelling mistakes in the opening title preamble. Not a lot of dialogue after that and most of it is along the lines of:

    "Come on!"

    "Move it!"
    "Let's go..."
    "Move it!"
    "We got company....! Let's go."
    "Come on!"
    "Let's get out of here...."

    When they are talking that is, most of the time it's:



    During one of the fights the hero actually throws a dwarf at his opponent.
  12. Octaman (1971) - in an unnamed 'primitive South American country' (populated by three white people doing Mexican bandit accents) a group of scientists discover a man squid hybrid mutant monster which then kills most of them. Any resemblance to 1954 monster movie classic The Creature from the Black Lagoon is wishful thinking on the director's part. (He not only directed but wrote this flaccid pile of marching mollusc poo - and also wrote The Creature from the Black Lagoon.) One of those films where day and night are interchangeable from shot to shot within the same scene and even after they have edited together every single inch of footage they ran through the camera (there can be no other explanation) - it still only runs to 76 minutes. Boring as hell. I fell asleep.
  13. Hellbound: Hellraiser II ( 1988 ) - well that was fun in a bloody messy horrible splattery but strangely erotic and dreamlike way. Some really nice camera moves.
  14. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992) - there are another seven Hellraiser films. I don't think I'll bother. This one just stepped off the quality shelf, the first was viscerally horrible and low budget odd. The second was erotic and dreamlike. The third is just another body horror special effects movie. It's also the first filmed in America, not Britain hurriedly dressed to look like America. In an extra on this disc the actor who plays Pinhead, the monster at the heart of these films, says that in this one they released the character from the constraints imposed on him in the first two. He can literally now do anything. And that's where I loose interest. When horror characters are omnipotent story becomes unimportant and just an excuse to hang gory set pieces on. Don't care any more.
  15. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure ( 1988 ) - for the umpteenth time and for the first time in widescreen, not on a cropped VHS.
  16. The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012) - in the local community cinema. With an audience of kids. As it should be. great fun.
  17. The Legend of Harrow Woods (2011 maybe) - The third Richard Driscoll film of the year, or maybe half of a third and half of a fourth stitched together. From what I can gather, from watching the extras on this disc, the cast thought they were appearing in a British Blair Witch type ripoff while trying to do American accents. At one point one of them refers to characters who don't appear on screen - or at least not in the way she describes them. (The film they thought they were making seems to have been called Alone in the Dark and, I suspect, most of them were glad that it looked like it would never be released). Running alongside this terribly dull, and seemingly plotless but predictable, wandering around in the woods shit is another strand of 'surreal', sepia-toned stuff which seems to have come from a totally different film. In the sepia sections Puritans burn witches at the stake in 1843, Rik Mayall and Norman Wisdom play the same bathroom attendant, and the director gets to do a scene where he is pawed by eight(?) naked women, two of whom indulge in limp sapphic fondling in a urinal before turning their attention to him (I wonder just how long he agonised before casting himself in the part). To add confusion to the bewilderment, the aspect ratio of shots changes from time to time (found footage, straight to camcorder stuff obviously shot at 4:3 is stretched to 16:9 and many shots presented in 16:9 look strangely cropped - people's heads go out of frame a lot of the time.) The sepia dream movie sequences are much better composed (apart from one glorious moment where our director completely blocks the only decent actor in the whole show (Rik Mayall) and we get to stare at the back of his head for a bit). The sepia stuff was possibly originally meant to be part of a film called The Raven, or Evil Calls, or The Raven: Episode One - Evil Calls as it is known on its 2011 DVD release.

    To add even more bewilderfusion to the fact that there are two different versions of a film made up of parts of at least two other separate (possibly uncompleted) films,
    The Raven: Episode One - Evil Calls seems to contain all the wandering around in the woods stuff from Alone in the Dark but not Christopher Walken's voice reading Poe's 'The Raven' which appeared in The Legend of Harrow Woods. (At least his name does not appear on the IMDb credits - though it is mentioned as being there in the 2008 release as detailed in MJ Simpson's delicious and exhaustive review.) I am now thoroughly confused but I think there are at least two other versions of this film knocking about under a variety of titles. I may have to buy them.

    Driscoll's films have all the hallmarks of an auteur hard at work. There is something uniquely Driscolly about the three that I have seen. They are all hypnotically uniquely bad, totally derivative, and incomprehensible in equal measures. Another common factor seems to be that actors don't work much in film after working for him. For most of the first-time unknowns appearing here, this (these?) is their only screen credit to date. This time th
    e poor actress persuaded to get naked for the camera at the start of her career was the rather yummy Kathryn Rooney who, I'm glad to say, has gone on to make a decent looking career on the stage.

    My favourite moment was a truly inspired bit of bad acting from Jason Donovan
    as the wiz kid computer geek web master 'dude'. For some inexplicable reason the whole of the wandering around in the woods stuff is being streamed live to 'the internet' with Jason webmastering like crazy (while he's not looking at sweaty semi-naked, girls-with-guns, pornsite (...erm... ) ...anyway! While he's not looking at other stuff on the web, (or sorting his 3.5" floppies) he's keeping an eye on events in the woods. Suddenly! the signal goes down and the half of his monitor screen that contains the streaming image window fills with a huge red on black blinking message, 'Connection Terminated... Connection Terminated... Connection Terminated... ' (Not a dialogue box mind you, a huge, filling the screen, animated graphic, like something out of a 1983 thriller from back in the days when computers were new and exciting, and no one but geeks knew what error messages were, let alone looked like). So, what does our ace webmaster do when presented with 'Connection Terminated... Connection Terminated... ' filling half his screen? The rest of the screen, by the way, is still filled with all the buttons and sliders that were there before. Answer. He hits the monitor on the side like it was a badly tuned TV set. Whack! If all my connectivity issues could be solved that easily.

    I also felt
    really sorry for whoever was waggling the bit of cardboard in front of the orange light (off screen right) at one point. Whoever it was was supposed to be simulating the flickering of firelight on the faces of two unrehearsed actors locked in an interminable conversation. The whole conversation was covered in one shot. By the end of it the firelight is flickering at about half the rate it was at the start. The poor bugger's wrists must have been giving out.
  18. Pour Elle (2008 ) - what a cracker! best £1 spent in the Poundshop for ages. Remade two years later as The Next Three Days starring Russell Crowe . I shalln't bother with the remake. It's bound to be... let us say, not as good.
  19. Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004) - The original was an amiable, very girly, Disney film held together by a likable performance from (then) newcomer Anne Hathaway. The sequel is a flacid waste of time. Both annoying and boring at the same time, a difficult trick but they managed it.
  20. Neon City (1991) - Last time I watched this a couple of years ago I wasn't that impressed:
    A very long 99 minutes. Not quite boring exactly but not as interesting as the people who made it thought it was.
    I think I was a bit wrong. It's not the greatest film in the world but it has its moments. As post Mad Max blighted-world remakes of Stagecoach go it up there with the best of them. (That's the rewatch of something in the vast pile of Big Box VHS tapes to justify their continued presence over and done with for the month. Back to the new Old Shit again... )
  21. TRON: Legacy (2010) - The original Tron, has been for a long time (well since I saw it in the cinema back in 1983) a treasure I have loved and kept close to me, hugged to my chest. It's mine. I own Tron. I've been dreading/avoiding the sequel for a couple of years now. How dare they!? But I screwed up my courage tonight. Once we got past the incredibly clunky info-dumping first few minutes and into the digital 'Grid' world things get to be quite fun. (This is also true of the original. Much as I love it, the first act of Tron is a bit very not good by any standards.) Maybe it was me going into it with very low expectations but, once I'd discarded the notion that I was going to be diverted by any kind of real story, and just let the eye-candy design fireworks take over the easily pleased bits of my brain, I quite enjoyed it. (I had eaten a lot of sugary stuff just before I sat down; maybe that helped.) I'm never going to love it like I love Tron, but as a techno-fetish lightshow it wasn't bad. Disney does Skin Two.

    ...and the score was terrific.
  22. Silver Dream Machine (1980) - another from the Big Box VHS pile. Meh to 'yeah, right! Like that's going to happen!' story of motorbike racing. A curiously populated film which, though set in the UK, must have employed every American actor in Britain at the time - and a few flown in for the occasion. The production design team strained every sinew make Britain look as much like America as they could. Presumably to make the film as easy as possible to sell to the American market. Thus, ferinstance, during the scene (set in London) where our British, working-class hero's American girlfriend is talking to our British working-class hero's American best friend in a sunlit coffee bar that wouldn't have looked out of place in New York, there is a bloody big American car parked on the road outside the window. No attention is drawn to it. It's not a part of the story. There just happens to be a bloody big American car parked outside. Similarly the funeral scene. American stretch limos for a British funeral in 1980? possible but very unlikely. Incidentally, the British working-class hero's black American best friend (and co-worker, they work in the same garage - sorry, 'auto-shop') is very odd. There's nothing made of his being American, no jokes, no good-natured banter drawing attention to his Americanness as there would be in real life in that environment. He's just there. And he's got a brother! Just another black American who happens to be in London. The casting here is very odd. If these two guys had been white they would have been wrong. An American white guy working as a mechanic in a British garage would have been just weirdly out of place. An American black guy doing the same thing seems, somehow, almost acceptable.
  23. Tales From the Darkside: the Movie (1990) - portmanteau horror film. Great cast with Christian Slater, Julianne Moore, and (a very young looking) Steve Buscemi in the first and best segment which was based on a Conan Doyle short story. The other stories are far less interesting. The 'twist' in the last segment is obvious from very early on.
  24. Das Arche Noah Prinzip ( aka The Noah's Ark Principle 1984) - Roland 'Independence Day' Emmerich's first film. A confusing mess which owes a lot to Ridley Scott type lighting and a love of fire extinguishers used to simulate escaping gassy stuffs in an exploding space ship - though not as many as in his later Moon 44, he used a lot of fire extinguishers on that one. Neither film made much sense.
  25. Brain Twisters (1991) - in which some experiments in psycho kinetic blah blah... turn the test subjects into crazed killers blah blah... evil corporation blah blah... Notable only for the incredibly slow pace at which everything happens. Everything. Establishing shots take an age to establish. People deliver their lines slowly to other people who wait a long time before replying. People walk slowly to places, find something uninteresting, and then walk slowly back to where they came from. It's like watching a film shot in a vat of treacle. Very odd. Shit but odd.
  26. Die Nackte und der Satan (aka The Head 1959) - in which a German mad doctor - a 'Dr. Ood' no less - keeps the disembodied head of his professor mentor alive with bubbling vat of 'Serum Z', and gives a hunchback nurse the body of a bump and grind stripper. Oddly effective. Very sensual and very dreamlike in places - we first meet out hero skulking outside the Prof's lab, his shadow a black silhouette against the wall, he moves into the garden, stops, and picks up a tortoise! which he then examines very closely before diving into the shadows to avoid a hunchback nurse. Odd, very odd. I liked it! Would love to see the original - what I saw was an American dubbed edit. Some scenes were obviously cut short, usually when things were getting a little too racy - the striptease is very abruptly cut and there are other moments where, very conspicuously, clunky censor's scissors have chopped the action when it was getting too erotic.
  27. The Day Time Ended (1979) - I totally agree with myself of seven years ago
  28. Vendetta dal futuro ( aka Hands of Steel 1986) - arm wrestling assassin cyborg goes on the run from an evil corporation run by John Saxon. Grrrrr! Ka-Boom! Grrrrr! Ka-Boom!... for 90 minutes. (Sometimes, right enough, it's Ka-Boom! Grrrrr! but mostly it's Grrrrr! Ka-Boom!)
  29. 984: Prisoner of the Future (aka The Future Man 1982) is a low budget, Canadian, made for TV feature that mashes up the Orwellian and Kafkaesque and makes an interesting hybrid (Kafkawellian?). Not great but, so far, the best thing on the Mill Creek 50 movie box set Sci-Fi Invasion that I'm working my way through at the moment.
  1. Los nuevos extraterrestres ( aka Extra Terrestrial Visitors 1983) Currently number 29 in the Bottom 100 films of all time list on IMDb. And deservedly so. I really can't work out what the makers thought there target audience was with this one. Basically it's a no budget wandering around in the woods with a killer beasty, in which a 'rock band', taking a break from recording, and a couple of poachers get killed off one by one by alien hatchlings. Unfortunately the alien beasty looks (and moves) like Mumfie on acid)

    Parallel to this wandering about in broad daylight pretending its nightime stuff is another plotline in which an annoying brat hatches one of the alien eggs and has the critter that emerges grow overnight to be exactly the same size as a small child in a Mumfie fright mask and fur coat. Anoyingly cute, post ET friendship ensues. With 'Trumpy' (as annoying brat christens Darth Mumfie) demonstrating his alien powers by sucking up peanuts through his nose, doing jigsaws by just looking at them, making the annoying brat's telescope show stock footage of African animals, and causing the contents of his entire bedroom dance about in that stop-motion pointless moving things about way that Serge Danot used to make The Magic Roundabout. This last sequence is almost immediately followed by one of the band characters saying, "Fuck this 'back to nature' crap!" Real mixed messages.
  2. El caballero del dragón (aka Star Knight 1985) - Sometime in non-specific long-ago time, when a Count's daughter was known as a 'princesses' (sic), Harvey Keitel runs around delivering mock mediaevalistic dialogue in a New York accent. It's the best New York mediaevalistic delivery since Tony Curtis, though "Yonder is da castle of my Fadda" gets a close run when the star of Mean Streets gets to call someone a "poltroon". Quite why he's doing all this is a mystery as most of the rest of the cast are delivering their dialogue without a sniff of a 'thee' or 'thou' or even a 'st' at the end or every other verb. Klaus Kinsky plays an alchemist and actually stays well this side of bonkers for a change - for once he looks like he was enjoying himself, and Fernando Ray is having a whale of a time as the priest; the 'princess' gets naked, there's a bloody big spaceship at the bottom of the lake, and a telepathic alien in a sexy rubber suit. What's not to like? The script stank.
  3. Hyper Sapien: People from Another Star (1986) limp amiable gentle family SF which I will have forgotten in a week. Above average puppetry for the cute three legged gasoline drinking comedy relief alien pet being the best bit.
  4. Giochi erotici nella 3a galassia (aka Escape From Galaxy 3 , StarCrash 2, Space Trap 1981) Shortly into this piece of Italian poo I had overwhelming deja vu. ALL of the special effects shots from this film come from that favourite piece of Italian cheeze SF, Star Crash. The film makes very little sense, not that anyone was really trying, and eventually dissolves into the softest softcore porn film ever made. Right at the end our heroes pull some hitherto unmentioned shooting lightbeams out of their eyes superpowers out of thin air, dissolve the bad guy and get naked again.
  5. Future Hunters (1986) - This is why I watch this shit! Let me summarise. The film opens with shots of a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland which, 60 Marlboro a day voice-over man informs us is 'The Forbidden Zone'. (I pull out my mental post-apocalyptic movie checklist. Forbidden Zone? Check!) cars appear A chase! The first car is being driven by our hero. It has spikes on the bonnet! He has a mullet! He is wearing leather trousers! (tick! tick! tick!) The bad guys wear black and stand up in their cars to shoot at him (tick!) They have huge automatic machine guns Badadadadadadada! They can't shoot for shit. He fires back. One shot. Their cars explodes. He gets out of his car and fits some sort of missile into a crossbow. (double tick! - though I have deducted one point for the neatly painted white lines down the middle of the post-apocalyptical wastelands well-maintained roads). Kaboom! Second set of bad guys explode. But... Oh Poo! His car explodes! Cut to boss villain (naked-chested crossed bandoleers and a cape! I'm running out of space on the sheet. Only fingerless gloves and open-topped oil barrels with something burning in them to go...) The baddy is sat on a tank. The tank has the word 'ARMY' neatly stencilled on the side just in case we though it might be one of the navy's tanks. More chasing. More Kabooming! Hero is captured. Taken to some desert forty place. He escapes. more Kaboom! More heavy duty machine gun Badadadadadada! He reaches 'The Temple' and finds 'The Glowing Thing of Destiny' the 60 Marlboro a day voice over man was trying to tell us about at the start of the film. (Something to do with the spear that pierced Christ's side having the ability to transport people back in time to avert apocalypses - if I had to read shit like that out as if I meant it I would smoke 60 fags a day too.) - Biggo KABOOM! as ARMY tanks blow up a very small model of the temple. Suddenly it's 1986 and we are looking at young woman with a clipboard and her boring info-dumping boyfriend stood in the un-kaboomed temple. They leave. She has to go open up her restaurant. Suddenly they are attacked by bikers. Biff! Biff! Biff! Scream! Boring boy is KO'd and bikers are having hur.. hur... rape 'fun' with the girl when Mullet Man from the opening sequence appears and rescues the girl. He gets shot in the process but manages to kill all three bikers - one with the 'The Glowing Thing of Destiny' who then crumbles to dust. Holy cow! LA Bikers are tough. This bloke has outrun hundreds of killer goons survived being shot at by tanks and aprox 250 thousand rounds of rapid fire machine gun fire and some priapistic greaser with a .45 gets him in the belly? Time travel sure must take it out of you... To be continued.
  6. The Creeping Terror (1964) - This has long been on my to be watched list. It's been in there for about 25 years, ever since I read about it in the Medved Brother's book Son of Golden Turkey Awards. I'm glad I waited.
  7. The Horrible Sexy Vampire (1970) - Great title that cues some gratuitous nudity - though not enough to make up for all the endless, pointless witering conversations and endless, pointless wandering around looking at furniture which takes up most of the running time. Mind you I do seem to have watched a much truncated version. I would guess a lot of tits and arse got chopped but with the remaining dialogue as dire as this there was still enough to keep me watching.

    To set the scene: a long sequence of shots establishes the Stranger who arrives at a castle near Stuttgard. The Stranger bears an uncanny resemblence to the vampire we have just seen killing several policemen. He tries to get into the castle where the murders took place but he finds it is locked. He gets back in his large red Merc and drives through some scenic parts of Stuttgard and parks right outside a building we are asked to believe is a police station. A uniformed officer salutes him.


    Good Morning...


    Good afternoon...
    I'd like to speak to
    your inspector.

    It's the second floor his office
    is the last door on the right.

    Thank you.

    CUT TO:


    The inspector and the Stranger are sat either side of the Inspector's desk.

    I arrived from London this morning.
    and found the authorities had sealed all

    the gates in the castle that's
    why I'm bothering you.

    Mgnnmn. It's no bother,
    Count Oblensky. We're at your
    disposal, sir.

    Stranger: .
    I appreciate that. Well, what now?

    I must confess that I'm obliged that
    you came as our visitor but as to who your
    forebearers (sic) are we've no information,
    you see. Our major difficulty is that
    the last owner had no children.

    Are you referring to my mother?
    Great stuff.
  8. Le orme (aka Primal Impulse 1975) - I'm not sure why this is included in the mixed bag 'Sci-Fi' 50 film DVD set I'm ploughing my way through at the moment - the only SFish elements are a the dream memory of an SF film the mentally uncertain heroine watched years before the action of the film takes place. In the end she finally slips over the edge and falls into a delusional state where the dream has become reality. If you try really hard I suppose you could stretch your imagination to the point where the black and white bonkers SFy stuff (Klaus Kinski rolling his eyeballs in every direction and yelling at TV screens) is the reality and the woman is a victim of one of his experiments. Interestingly above average stuff either way.
  9. Hundra (1983) - Feminist Sword and - er, well, Sword. Hundra, the last of a tribe of peaceful separatist feminists in some pre-historical but post-Conan past, slaughters the killers of her tribe. She then wanders around spaghetti western landscapes being 'mighty', killing men, attempting to free women from bondage, and get herself pregnant all at the same time. An odd mix of feminist polemic and stereotypical male pleasing, tits and arse, gratuitous sexism. In the end though it all works out well as: Hundra finds a sympathetic man and gets a girl baby (she would have left a boy), all the the evil tribes leaders are slaughtered in slo-mo ultra-violence, and the evil priest is smothered to death when a fat girl sits on his face. Over a quick, inspiring 'off to fulfil her destiny' crane shot and freeze frame. Our voice over narrator warns men there is a little of Hundra in every woman. The End. Ennio Morricone provided his usual stirring stuff on the soundtrack.
  10. Prey ( 1978 ) - a pair of standard movie butch/fem lesbians take an stranger into their house only to find (long after the audience) that he's an evil, carnivorous alien. The most notable thing about this film was it contained an most un-movielike lesbian sex scene. None of that carefully posed Hollywood/Jean Rollin style, lethargic, Aer Lingus*, long distance fondling here. Just good old British snogging and groping. It was the most believable thing in the whole show.

    *The punchline to an ancient, and not very funny, joke about Irish dykes.

  11. The Girl From Rio (aka Future Women 1989) almost comprehensible Jess Franco flick (sic! I know, who'da thunk it?!) with Shirley Easton planning to take over the world with an army of scantly-clad women wearing white kinky boots, PVC capes, and not a lot else. A wet dream. Well, not exactly wet. Damp maybe. (The SF elements in this box set are turning out to be very very thin in places.)
  12. Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1985) - Entertainingly beyond dreadful kiddy sword and sorcery bollocks that had the whole family in hysterics for 72 minutes. Some seriously shit set design, crappy acting, pointless 'action' sequences, and some unbelievably awful writing let us have more fun on a Friday Night Movie and Pizza session since we realised Doctor Who and the Daleks was too stupid not to make fun of. 24 hours later we still haven't worked out the point of one of the major 'characters' in Wizards. The character was a seven foot tall Wookie-like thing, with no visible face, that appeared to be made from old sheepskin rugs sewn together in a dark room. None of us have any idea what it actually did for the whole film. It just stood there and occasionally went 'Gnneor!', at which point someone would say, 'What's that, (insert name of forgettable character here)? dwarfs on horseback heading this way?" or some such plot (hah!) advancing statement. Towards the end of the film - presented with the mind-numbing dilemma of how to keep the audience from noticing the woolly Wookie never actually did anything - the heroes just left him behind. 'See you later' they said, and off they went to the insurmountable obstacle of a raging river and vast waterfall. A noticeable lack of lighting here suggesting a very cheap location shoot - which (Light Bulb!) would explain why they didn't take the Wookie too; one less costume, plane ticket, overnight accommodation etc. (I can be so slow sometimes.) Anyhow, the insurmountable obstacle raging torrent waterfall is crossed when our hero bloke leaps in the river to rescue a passing naked woman from the churning muddy brown waters. (Which prompted this from my eldest: "Look, Dad! A naked woman in chocolate!" - my kids know me so well it's horrifying.) The naked woman turns out to be a mermaid and, because they 'passed the test' of trying to save her, she throws a rainbow across the sky and somehow (not shown on screen or explained) our heroes are on the other bank meeting up with Woolly carpet dude who presumably... just... walked across a bridge? Flew? Tunnelled his way past the expensive to shoot bit? Who knows? Dreadful. There was a sequel.
  13. I predatori di Atlantide (aka The Atlantis Interceptors, The Raiders of Atlantis, 1983) - for some reason known only to the Italian scriptwriter (he didn't bother to tell us) a sunken Russian nuclear submarine triggers the re-emergence of Atlantis from beneath the waves, but only when there are enough American scientists and action hero types around to stop them. The Atlanteans, for some reason known only to themselves, dress in your standard Italian Post-Apocalyptic Mad Maximus style make-up and costumes, and go rampaging around on American cars with spikes glued to them. Totally forgettable. 24 hours later I had to go look at the cover of the Box Set to try and remember what I watched last night. I knew I'd watched something but I had no memory of what.
  14. Black Moon Rising (1986) - That was fun!
  15. Paul (2011) - well that was vaguely amusing but not the utter geeky yokfest I was expecting.
  16. Miss Potter (2006)
  17. John Carter (2012) - well that was disappointing. I know the books aren't great literature and haven't dated very well. After 100 years most of Edgar Rice Burrough's creative imaginings are sad, old, worked to death clichés, but even so I really think they should have stuck to the book a lot more than they did. For one thing the film took an age to get going. After a prologue set on Mars that left me going 'Duh what? I don't remember this from the book. Where did these guys come from?' a few times, we moved into a double flashback that took an age to get the central character established. (During the film brief tertiary flashbacks also occurred. It's an irrational dislike but three layers of flashback annoys the tits off me.) It's a full 20+ or so minutes before we're anywhere near the start of the story as it appeared in the book. By the final act I just thought it was an unholy mess and I just wanted it to finish as soon as possible.
  18. Agent Cody Banks (2003) - Friday night with the kids. Better than average entry in the Teen Spy genre.
  19. R.O.T.O.R. (1988 ) - this one has long been on my must-see crap film list. One of those films I have read about in other people's lists of all time not greats - but I didn't read too deeply in case I spoiled it for myself. Another of the endless, cheap 1980s Robocop knock offs (known in our house - well, inside my head - as 'Robocopies'). This one was made in Texas by people who nearly never worked again for instance Jayne Smith, third on the cast list, has only one other IMDb credit, as 'Mary Turd' in Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders. R.O.T.O.R. is wonderful mess. There is nothing that works. It's full of 'Dark Place' acting...

    Our hero has a 'Thinks!' moment... "Hmmmmm, I wonder...".
    (Actually, what he's really trying to work out is how the single bag they arrived at the hotel with in the shot before this turned into the three bags they were carrying as they entered their room.)

    ...long shots of nothing happening, characters who appear from nowhere and disappear just as quickly, dialogue that circles round on itself several times in an attempt to make sense but fails, and at least one character whose name changes during the film - for most of the film she's 'Sonya' at the end of the film she's being called 'Tony' and in the end credits, I guess as a fudge, she's called 'Sony'
    . It's full of the most gloriously inept staging too, my favourites being the life and death struggle between the killer robot on the rampage and the female assistant scientist body builder which we can't see because the 'hero' is getting in the way helping the girl victim over a fence. (The female assistant, the future 'Mary Turd', has an extraordinary screen presence, apart from looking like a bloke on steroids and hormones, and obviously unable to deliver the simplest of lines without pausing for a break half way through, she also has the most incredible haircut I have seen in a film for years. Black curly hair with a wide silvery white streak running from front to back. It looks like a well-permed skunk shaped into a mullet.)

    Another brilliant piece of staging was the moment where our girl victim, being pursued by a relentless killer robot, reverses out of a gas station, does a handbrake turn, and drives back away in the direction she just came from - for no other reason than the camera was in the way of her driving forward. That incompetent. Loved it.
    A close reading of the end credits also helps explain some of the on-screen weirdness. A lot of the 'dialogue' of this film happens off camera. For instance often conversations taking place in driving cars are delivered to our ears while we watch long shots of the car driving, intercut with two shots of the back of the actors' heads - the camera in the rear of the car. The end credits have a 'thanks' for an actor's group and specifically the two actors who re-voiced our heroes. Whether the film was shot Italian style, MOS and the voices dubbed later or the original actors were so bad, or unavailable to do the ADR, I have no idea, but it help the general air of weird in both performances. Up there with Yor: Hunter From the Future, Troll 2 and all the rest. Class crap.
Abandoned this month: Morons From Outer Space - there are limits. I had heard it was bad but I wasn't prepared for it to be unwatchable.



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