Friday, September 28, 2012

Every Film I Watched in August:


  1. Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael (1991) - gentle little teen romance from the writer of Airplane! and The Naked Gun. And my third film on the trot to have a blonde/brunette lesbian couple - albeit as a very minor subplot. Someone is stacking my random VHS pile.
  2. The Comic (1985) the second film directed by Richard Driscoll that I have seen this year (the first was Kannibal back in January). I really need to see the other 5 or so - if only to see The Legend of Harrow Woods; any film with Rik Mayall, Norman Wisdom, and Christopher Walken! in it has to be looked at. The Comic is a masterpiece of incoherence. There's not a shot in this that isn't wrong, including the most inept and pointless dolly zoom I have ever seen. My favourite though, is the long shot of the dock in which our protagonist delivers his daughter to the people who are going to smuggle her to 'safety'. He's been told to be "at the dock at 9:30" or the boat "will sail without her". The long shot of him handing over his daughter that immediately follows this stern admonition is, for some reason, taken from a high angle, a really high angle, it's high enough for us to see all the fishing boats in the harbour sitting like stranded ducks on the mudflats waiting for the tide to return in about, oh, I dunno, four or five hours...? Often, while I'm watching dreadful shite like this, I try to work out what the production meetings must have been like. How did Driscoll - who not only 'directed' but 'wrote' this turd - get anyone to give him the money to make it?

    "It's like Eraserhead but in colour!"
    "Sounds great but what's the story, Mr Driscoll?"
    " Story...? Erm... Did I mention I've got an actress who'll get her tits out cheap?"

  3. vlcsnap-518856

    "Pay her a few more quid and she might smile."
    "We'll settle for tits."

  4. Witchcraft (1988 aka Ghosthouse 2, La Casa 4, Evil Encounters, etc.) Eurotrash schlock horror filmed in the US with David Hassellhoff and Linda Blair. And it is terrible. Horrible non-script, continuity that jumped the action from day to night to day again in the same scene and some seriously rubbish acting all round. Really rubbish. David Hassellhoff positively shone in a sea of inadequacy. The actress who plays his girlfriend is spectacularly inept; there's not a line she doesn't deliver badly - to be fair, I have to assume she is misdelivering a lot of them because she mumbles so much it's hard to tell. This was her second and last film.

    The film did allow me the opportunity to formulate another of the endless, 'Why is it in American films that...?' questions. In this case, 'Why is it in American films that people having nightmares are always sleeping on their backs?' - the answer, obviously, is because you cannot suddenly sit bolt upright gasping with fright and covered in a thin sheen of sweat when you're lying on your belly. Next....
  5. Nightmaster (1987 aka Watch the Shadows Dance) an early Nicole Kidman film that would have completely vanished from the world's collective memory if it she wasn't in it. In a 'near future' (hah!) Australian high school kids play a dangerous ninja game in an abandoned building. Boring, leaden paced shite. Low point being the moment towards the 'climax' when our gone slightly loopy ace kickboxer ninja martial artist war veteran drug addict teacher ties a red scarf around his arm. The only reason he ties a red scarf around his arm is to let the audience know which of the dozen or so identically black-clad ninja types crawling around in the dark is him. Pathetically lazy film making.
  6. Caged Women (aka Caged - Le prede umane 1991) - Sweaty Women in Prison film which got rejected by the BBFC in the UK and only passed after some 20+ minutes got cut. The DVD version I have runs at 72 minutes, 7 minutes longer than the 2001 video version of 65 minutes. So at some point some footage managed to get reinstated but not all. I don't think I missed much - though the statutory lesbian rape scene (Women in Prison films have tick boxes) was so short that it was almost invisible.
  7. One Down Two to Go (1983) - Late entry in the Blaxploitation genre with a dream Blaxploitation cast: Fred 'Nigger Charley' Williamson, Jim 'Slaughter' Brown, Jim 'Enter the Dragon' Kelly, Richard 'Shaft' Roundtree and it's as dull as hell. Though there is sequence that will long live in my memory. About 35 minutes in we get 26 shots taking over four minutes of screen time (including a 50 seconds locked-off shot looking out through a car windscreen) in which we watch two limos delivering two of the name stars to the film. Four minutes of pointless, endless, dialogue-free footage of cars driving about, then people getting out of them and looking smug. Wonderful stuff.

  8. Untitled
    Using up a short end on the way back to the Limo Hire Place

  9. First Great Train Robbery (1978 ) - entertaining enough piece of nonsense with Donald Sutherland looking even more dashing than usual in a stovepipe hat, Sean Connery doing some scary stunt work on top of a train and Lesley Anne Down in a basque and stockings. Something for everybody.
  10. Nights of Terrror (aka Le notti del terrore 1981) - tedious Italian zombie flick with some gratuitous nudity, a modicum of pointless wandering around corridors trying to generate some tension, and lots of gore (I seem to have found an uncut version. 13 minutes were cut before it got a certificate on its initial release). Watched the last third on FF and don't think I missed any subtleties. Nice line in spelling mistakes in the end titles though. As the last of the protagonists dies under the zombies' onslaught in  the image freezes the last shot and a caption appears:
    The earth shall tremble.... graves shall open.... they shall come among the living as messengers of death and there shall be the nigths of terror.... "Profecy of the Black Spider"
  11. The Invisible Ghost (1941) - Damn! Seduced by the cover which shows Bela Lugosi in a white lab coat surrounded by generic misguided scientist testy tubey stuff I did not recognise. A new (to me) Lugosi film! Yippee! Unfortunately none of the test tubey stuff (or the white coat) was on display in the film - which it turned out not only had I previously seen, but still own. And a dull little Poverty Row B feature it is too. The disc, bought a car boot sale, is on the notoriously shoddy 23rd Century label. The same image appears on the back cover of their edition of Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster and I know it's not from that film either.
  12. Munchies (1987) - cheap Gremlins knock off that will, I suspect, serve me as a benchmark definition of 'unfunny' for a while. I got given this tape in a charity shop - I was robbed. If I tell you it stars Harvey Korman.... I don't really need to write any more do I?
  13. Muppets From Space (1999) - Which I thoroughly enjoyed.
  14. Phoenix (1995) - not the Phoenix from 1998 with Ray Liotta who was one of the highlights of Muppets From Space, far too much of a coincidence. Nope, this Phoenix is a real slapdash piece of military 'sci-fi', straight to car boot sale, shite with great chunks of it looking like it was shot in the production office. It was only half way through this turd that we found out that the scenes taking place in what looked, for all the world, like mid 90's LA interiors were in fact supposed to be taking place on 'Centauri III' in the distant future. The Maguffin in the film is a mineral that contains bacteria (sic) which 'evolves' androids into developing emotions and being impervious to plasma weapons (thus neatly, a: explaining all the, by then, ancient machine guns that our 'heroes' have to use to blast everything that moves and b: slashing thousands of dollars from the budget as machine guns are cheap in LA, SFXing in laser blasts is labour intensive and expensive.) Maybe it's a measure of my brilliance or the films dumbness but (without having read the blurb on the back of the box) I had worked out the hero was really an android who didn't know he was an android before the word 'android' was even mentioned in the script.
  15. Kiss Me Monster (1969) - another incomprehensible mess from Jess Franco. This attempt at a synopsis by a review on IMDb sums it all up far better than I could:
    Two women, posing as a nightclub act, go to an island to investigate something. Everywhere they go, people (I have no idea who these people are) end up dying - sometimes stabbed in the back while in mid-sentence. Of course there's no sign of the killer. Eventually, I think they find whatever it is they're looking for because there is much rejoicing.
    I rather enjoyed it.
  16. My Date With Drew (2005) - normally I run a mile from 'challenge' TV. The sort of 'documentaries' that pose some pointless goal for hopeless wanabees to fail at one by one. And I'm less than interested in well fed, self-obsessed American twentysomethings paddling out of their depth in the shallows of minor angst but somewhere after a bit of a shonky start I really came to like this. Armed with $1100 dollars won on a game show, a camera they have to return to the shop in 30 days, and a lot of well fed, self-obsessed American twentysomething friends, an all-American nobody tries to get a date with film actress Drew Barrimore. It's stalking lite. And it's quite funny in places.
  17. Demon House (1997 aka Night of the Demons III) - bunch of obnoxious high-schoolers hide out in a 'possessed' house and die one by one. As if we cared.
  18. The Stendhal Syndrome (1996) - My on/off 'Dario Argento is shit' 'Dario Argento is great' pendulum has just swung right over to the 'great' side of the net. (End mangle metaphor mode.) Not that this film is 'great' but it was certainly disturbingly compulsive watching.
  19. Voyage to the End of the Universewhich is a dreadfully choppy American International re-edit of the chuffing brilliant 1964 Czechoslovakian film Ikarie XB 1. Which I only watched because I couldn't find my copy of the original.

  20. The Church (1989) Tonight, my Dario Argento-meter is definitely reading somewhere between 'crap' and 'very crap'.
Abandoned in August:
Omega Cop (1990) - lacklustre lone-cop in post-apocalyptic future flick with dreadful acting - enlivened only by an ageing Adam 'Batman' West getting a couple of days work as the cop's boss. The sort of stuff I normally love torture myself with but disc died on me about half way through.

Every Film I Watched in July:

  1. Mirrormask - repeat viewing.
  2. War of the Worlds (1953) - A wonderfully crisp clear and gorgeous transfer which really showed the Three Strip Technicolor off beautifully. Daughter number one has been wanting to see this ever since we read the book. Her verdict, " Bits were creepy but it got very religious at the end".
  3. The Spanish Prisoner (1997) - I love the way David Mamet plays with conversation and words and he really shows off here. I also quite fancy his wife.
  4. Forbidden Plant (1956) - part of my summer 'Introduce the girls (aged 10 + 7) to some of the Great SF movies before all the teenage, 'you know, d'uh, that's, like, so Old...' cynicism shit kicks in project'. They loved it. I was struck for the first time - after many viewings - how incredibly hammy some of Walter Pidgeon's moves are. That arm throwing gesture he makes as he dies is dead pure Victorian melodrama.
     The fool! The meddling idiot! As though his ape's brain could contain the secrets of the Krell!
  5. Dark Crystal (1982) - - Not a film you watch for the plot. It's one of those films that you watch for the art direction. The kids loved it. (So did I.)
  6. Sax Rohmer's The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969) - Damn! I just love the way Jess Franco made total simulacra of movies. He's directed 194 films to date and all the ones I have seen have been awful. Nothing much happens in Sax Rohmer's The Castle of Fu Manchu: Christopher Lee gets to stand about a lot in a variety of Mandarin costumes while trying to deliver his lines without moving his face - in case his make-up falls off. The set piece disasters, engineered by Fu Manchu, are hacked out of other films and make very little sense in their new context - especially as one of them is in black and white and obviously shows the Titanic going under (intercut with devilish Fu Manchu and his minions in full glorious colour throwing levers). Another genius moment has a very Spanish looking Chinese assassin throwing a hand-grenade and the explosion it makes is cut from B&W WW2 newsreel footage. Not even the presence of seriously hubba-hubba! Italian trash crumpet hotness (Lady Frankenstein herself) Rosalba Neri - getting soaking wet in a torn shirt - does much to lift the interest levels!

    What is utterly fascinating (to me at least) is the way Franco tries to edit his footage (and other people's) to give the impression that something is going on. There's one superb example in here. There's a sequence (hah!) where Fu, daughter and several Chinese henchmen of variable ethnicity are doing something scientific and evil at a bench covered in mad scientist glassware filled with various coloured water with bits of dry ice dropped in the bottom. Bubble bubble bubble. Cut to Christopher Lee's eyes. Cut to bubbling. Cut to Chinese person. Cut to bubbling. Cut to the actress playing Fu's daughter. Cut to bubble. Cut to eyes. Bubble. Eyes. Lee. Daughter. Bubble. Keep cutting like this but faster and faster... keep going... keep going... keep going.... Then stop. Well, that filled up a few minutes of screen time.... What shall we do now? A whole movie where nothing happens but lots of editing and camera zooms try to give the impression that it does. Great stuff.
  7. Cómo ser mujer y no morir en el intento (aka How To Be A Woman And Not Die In The Attempt 1991) - dull, episodic, Spanish middle-class marriage 'comedy' which showed just how fabulous Pedro Almodóvar's movies really are.
  8. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) - Pizza night choice of Daughter Number 2 - funnier and weirder than I remember. The music is wonderful.
  9. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) - kept the kids amused. I spent most of my time looking at Vanessa Hudgens' bum and trying to keep my snide comments as quite as possible. "Now they run!"
  10. Ghosts on the Loose (1943) - I'll watch anything with Bela Lugosi in it - even if only once. He doesn't appear much in this one; his time in the studio was probably measured in hours rather than days. The only other reason to watch it is because it's one of Ava Gardner's first real parts. Not that she does a lot either, just stands about looking statuesque for the most part.  (Which she does really well.)
  11. Orders to Kill ( 1958 ) - Somewhat great and undeservedly obscure war film from Anthony Asquith. In it a former bomber pilot is parachuted into France to kill a member of the Resistance who may have turned informant. Faced with having to kill a likeable human being, face to face - instead of pressing a button and dropping tons of high explosives, the agent baulks and starts to question the morality of his orders.
  12. Salute of the Juggers (aka Blood of Heroes 1989) - a rewatch of one of the seemingly infinite number of SF movies that Rutger Hauer made after Blade Runner. For years it was essential to anyone who wanted to make a low-budget SF film with any kind of kudos to hire him. It's a post apocalyptic sports film - and it's great. A cracker of a forgotten film. Except it isn't totally forgotten. There are international leagues now playing 'Jugger' the game invented for the film - though with slightly less ultra-violence and no dogs' skulls.
  13. The Abyss (1989) - which I had never seen before and now consider the three hours I spent watching the extended Special Edition Director's Cut With Added Patronisingly Simplistic Message Content to be utterly wasted. Wish I'd watched the shorter funnier version, though I suspect I would have lost my patience with it at the same point. Our hero falls for 30 minutes straight down the abyss, buffeted and bouncing off a undersea cliff, and lands RIGHT NEXT to the nuclear bomb he has come to defuse - and then we have the whole 'don't cut the blue wire' gag? Oh Come on!
  14. The Corpse Bride (2005) - Friday Night (a night late) film choice of ten year old Daughter Number One (who told me this afternoon that her favourite song at the moment is Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue's haunting murder ballad, Where the Wild Roses Grow.) Looks like I have a tweenage protogoth on my hands.
  15. Incubus (1966) - William Shatner in Art House Esperanto horror movie thought lost to the world (after the negative and all known prints were destroyed) until a subtitled copy turned up in France. The Scy-Fy channel coughed up for a restoration job which put English subtitles over the French. It has spelling mistakes.
  16. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) - George Lucas has apparently stopped directing films. Hurrah! Tonight, to complete my kids' exposure to the Star Wars saga, I finally got round to watching the last of them. Dear Gods! what a marathon bore it was. The kids were yawning and fidgeting by the 90 minute mark and I was prepared to scream if I saw another establishing shot of a space craft aproaching a landing pad, rotate 180º, unfold legs, and touchdown. Enough already!
  17. Mulholland Drive (2001) - just to get the taste of Star Wars out of my head I crammed it full of David Lynchy weirdness and Naomi Watts' tits.
  18. Love and Other Catastrophes (1996) - delightful, undemanding, tiny budget feel-good romantic Australian comedy. Chosen at random, without knowing anything about it, from my huge pile of VHS tapes I have never watched. The film turned out to be my second in a row to feature the adventures of a blonde/brunette lesbian couple. This time though there was a happy ending - and jolly fun it was too. To add spooky coincidence icing to the serendipity cake, the director of Love and Other Catastrophes has only directed one other feature film, Strange Planet, which starred - da da dahhhhh! Naomi Watts. (How did people live without the IMDb?)
Abandoned in July:
Full Alert (1997) Hong Kong Cop film which may well have been as good as some of the reviewers on IMDb think but was rendered unwatchable by fucking awful dubbing. Two American voice actors in a tiny echoing room (I know what I mean) doing all the voices. Impossible.
Soul Survivors (2001) - about twelve minutes into this - not that I was timing it or anything but we were just coming up to the well foreshadowed but unexpected 'Inevitable twist-of-fate that would send the story off in a new direction' that all the screen-writing books tell you should happen at the fifteen minute mark - and I got bored. As it was a cert. 12 there was very little chance of the rather attractive (in a blonde stereotypical Hollywood actress way) lead, Melissa Sagemiller, getting naked so I didn't bother sticking with it. (The words, 'Melissa Sagemiller getting naked', now return four thousand six hundred and one results on Google.) Edit: by the middle of the month: 1,050,000 results! Popular girl.
Leprechaun (1993) - An evil, sadistic Leprechaun goes on a killing rampage in search of his beloved pot of gold. Jennifer Aniston's first movie. After 20 or so minutes I realised the best joke of the whole film comes in the first few minutes: evil leprechaun recoils with full Christopher Lee style hissing from a four-leafed clover held like a crucifix. It went downhill very fast after that, even Aniston's rather cute hot-pant clad buttocks couldn't keep me interested....
Repo: The Genetic Opera ( 2008 ) - utter shit.

Every Film I Watched in June:

  1. A Cinderella Story (2004) - tedious reworking of Cinderella as Valley High School Teen Romance. Boring, predictable and utterly forgettable. The box of the DVD had a review on the front describing the film as 'harmless'.  Accurate but I do wonder what the other press reviews were like if this was the most enthusiastic praise they could find to sell the thing.
  2. The Fifth Element (1997) - fun.  Number One Daughter spent the next few days yelling 'Bada-Boom!' at every opportunity.
  3. Warlords of Atlantis ( 1978 ) - Friday night fun with the kids.
  4. Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (1980) - A film I have been wanting to see again for years and today I find it on the shelves of The Works. I giggled myself stupid. Mrs JM stared at it in stony faced silence for 20 minutes then rolled over and fell asleep.
  5. Kiss Me, Kill Me (aka Baba Yaga 1973) - semi-surreal lesbian erotic BDSM arty Italian Euro-sleeze voodoo cobblers based on a comic book:

    I think I want to read the comic book more than I want to see the film again.
  6. The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970) - not as funny as it could have been fag-end of the satire boom.

    Satirical tits.
  7. Star Wars II : Send in the Clones - Gods, what a dull film! Lucas has a real tin ear for dialogue.
  8. The Double Life of Veronique (1991) - having been intrigued by the soundtrack for a couple of years it was a joy to finally see this. A beautiful film.
  9. Pluto Nash (2002) - Ah well. I had heard it wasn't good but it was more than not good; it was awful. I don't think I have had my intelligence insulted so often in so short a time for quite a while, and I watch some real mind-bogglingly stupid films. Which is a shame really because the writer's previous film was the slightly brilliant Mystery Men. Nothing worked. Nothing. Apart maybe from the sexy 'female' robot, she had a nice bum. But when it gets to the point that the best thing you can say about a film is that a bit part player had a cute arse you know you're in trouble.

    Please don't look at the plot, look at my bum!

    I watch plenty of films where nothing works and often the fun to be gained by watching them is by being surprised by the new and interesting ways the wheels fall off. In this film nothing worked so predictably it was boring. Watching people spending stupidly vast amounts of money ($100,000,000) on a mediocre script is not amusing.
  10. The Missionary (1980) - mostly because I'm reading Palin's diaries of the period and mostly because it's a funny little film.
  11. The Last Mimzy (2007) - a not bad kid's SF film based on a classic SF story which I found myself liking a lot more than I was expecting. Not perfect by any means, the story was a bit shonky from time to time. The whole 'Homeland Security' plotline was very very shaky and called for some real soap opera, 'as you very well know' type writing to get on it's feet quickly, but the sequences with the kids discovering what the toys could do were wonderful. No guns (almost), no explosions, no stupid car chases, no adults humiliated to make kids laugh, and no real 'Baddies' to hiss and boo. A grown-up tale for kids (almost). Daughter Number Two was enraptured.
  12. The Night Evelyn Came out of the Grave - La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba (1971) - again. Second time I've watched this bit of Italian 70's Eurosleaze this year. (And the second copy I have bought.) This time though I could actually see what what happening on the screen. Compare this screen capture to the one from the previous copy I suffered back in February:

    A transfer so crappy the film jumped the gate in the telecine machine at a reel change.

    Being able to see what was happening didn't help much. It was still incomprehensible shite.