Sunday, March 24, 2013

Every Film I watched in December 2012


  1. A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell (1990) - oh god!
  2. Mutant (1984) - from the same director as Outlaw of Gor (see last month) and another helpless hero who doesn't actually achieve much. He's a bit more active this time but he still manages to get driven off the road by rednecks, gets his brother killed, fails to save a ten year old boy from a horrible death, and manages to get himself wanted for murder by running away at just the wrong moment. He's useless. At one point he's snooping about, getting to the bottom of things, when he is captured by a gang of evil chemical wate dumpers who are filling the standard, B-movie old mine just outside of town with toxic sludge*. He's about to be thrown into a mile deep pit of chemical waste when the doors of the shed fly open and the newly acquired love interest drives her car into the mix. The hero dives through the open window of the car and she speeds away. Hurrah! Our hero was rescued by his girlfriend. In the final moments of the film he's helplessly backed into a corner of the besieged shop, with rampaging monster mutant leech people about to eat him (and his girlfriend) when he's again rescued, in the final moments of the film, by a character we had been lead to assume had died a couple of reels previously. Really odd. I'm going to have to find more films by this guy, John 'Bud' Cardos. He's directed 10 films. They can't all be about total losers can they?

    *The budget of the film (or the location) didn't provide for a standard 'timbers framing a hole in a rocky hillside' type movie mine so they built a small square of wooden wall in a dilapidated shed and covered it with a lid. When the lid was lifted off people peered into the small wooden square and made "Whew - that's deep!" noises while staring at the floor they were standing on. It worked.
  3. The Number 23 (2007) - Quite enjoying this one (liked the music a lot) until it all got way too silly for the last 30 minutes.
  4. Death Trap (1977) - In 1974 Tobe Hooper directed Texas Chain Saw Massacre, in 1979 he started to direct a film called The Dark but was replaced by Outlaw of Gor director, John 'Bud' Cardos* In-between Hooper directed this piece of bonkers Grand Guignol about a deranged, one-legged, scythe-wielding hotel owner and his pet giant crocodile. People get eaten. The soundtrack is quite frankly the weirdest I have heard for years. A weird mashup of dead pureMusique Concrete and cheesy Country songs. One minute Twang! Zoing! Bingggggg.... the next maudlin warblings about the singer not being able to go back home because they shot their sweetheart's brother by mistake.

    *I really do need to extend my film collection's gene pool. I'm honestly picking these films at random from my unwatched pile - I think all the good stuff has gone.
  5. Capote (2005) - well, maybe not all of them.
  6. The Great Race (1965) - Friday Night Movie with the kids. Lots of laughter (much of it from the kids).
  7. The Creeping Terror (1964) - second time this year. This time with the kids and lots of silly comments and laughter, and fart noises at appropriate places. Number one daughter is now downstairs reading one of the Medved Bros.'s Golden Turkey books and hooting with joy. Another convert...
  8. The Hoax (2006) - Entertaining, semi-accurate fun. Some dodgy green screen moments though when historical footage is used as background for new shot foreground dialogue scenes. That distracted slightly but otherwise I was hooked.
  9. Gor (1987) - Cheesy Sword and Wandering About aimlessly fodder from Cannon which 'stars' Jack Palance. He's third on the credits, coming right after a couple of Italians you've never heard of. Despite his prominent billing Palance only appears on screen in the last couple of minutes and, basically, only then to announce he's the villain in the sequel before the end credits roll. Thundering score though. Great bombasting stuff that bludgeons the earballs into thinking something exciting must be happening on screen - when all that's happening is that the characters are wandering aimless across a desert from one very familiar location to another. The locations are familiar because I watched the sequel last month and the place where they camp and are attacked by bandits when whoever is on watch falls asleep in this film looks suspiciously like the place where they camp and are attacked by slave traders when whoever is on watch falls asleep in the sequel. The catfight between the scantily-clad well-oiled large-breasted women was fun though. They always are. Very hard to totally dislike a film with well-oiled large-breasted women grappling in the arena sequence in it. I think that's where Merchant Ivory films missed a trick. If I was held out the promise getting to watch Helena Bonham Carter and Maggie Smith mud-wrestling I think I could watch no end of soft-focus woofty twaddle.
  10. Barbarian Queen (1985) - more Sword and Wandering About but with slightly better fight arrangements, more of a comprehensible story - on their wedding day the groom gets kidnapped and his bride-to-be straps on a sword and rides off to rescue him. There's a twist. From time to time, there were a few well-composed and interesting shots that looked like someone had thought about what they were doing - possibly the DP wanting a few beauty shots for his show reel. Not great but better than the all the best bits of both Gor films and Hundra added together. Short too; clocked in at 70 minutes but felt like 90.
  11. Bloody Moon (1981) - another Jesus Franco off the list and another of the DPP's 1983 'Video Nasties' list watched without being depraved or corrupted. (Well, not instantly anyway.) Also, curiously, coincidentally, and rather spookily, the third film I have watched in a row to include a shot of someone getting skewered sideways through the neck. Nice....

    Bloody Moon is a pretty run of the mill slasher Giallo with a black clad big knife mystery killer bumping off the students at a Spanish language school. None of it makes any sense. Spanish language students get stabbed, decapitated, and strungled to death. A six year old child gets run down by a speeding car. A snake gets decapitated (for real). An incestuous and hideously deformed ex mental patient (and obvious red herring) lurks around in the undergrowth. There is disco dancing and the sort of inane Eurobabble dialogue dialogue you get in those German 'Schoolgirl Report' porn films of the era but none of the humping... erm... Anyway... Franco does his usual slapdash zoom in and out at random stuff with the camera. Faced with nothing happening on screen Franco has this unerring habit of endlessly twitching the camera about. Panning, zooming, and dollying in every shot (and sometimes all three simultaneously) to make you think there is. This film includes one classic moment of zoom folly when, having done a William Cameron Menzies and framed his shot through an object in the foreground - an out of focus chair, he got the only actress in the scene to move to the phone and answer it as the camera zoomed in on her face. Unfortunately by the time she got to the phone her face was behind the back of the chair leaving the screen full of fuzzy woodwork getting slowly larger. It can have been the only take. How did this man get to work for so often for so long?

    The high point for me comes late in the film when our manipulative villainess makes the idiotic move of telling the man she has hired to brutally slaughter several attractive young women that she's not interested in him and he should just kill the Last Girl who upstairs on her bed and then fuck off. Not a clever move. Predictably he is annoyed. There is a fight. Fight. Fight. Fight. "I'll kill you you bitch!" Fight. Fight. Fight. Enter Last Girl covered in ketchup after accidentally kebabbing the incestuous and hideously deformed ex mental patient red herring who had just tried to rape her thinking she was his sister. (Keep up!). Half-way through strangling his erstwhile employer our killer sees her. He drops his boss on the sofa. "She's heard everything! I'll get back to you..." and chases of after Last Girl.

    Maybe it's just me but I found that hilarious..

    Needless to say running out on his meeting turns out to be a mistake because by the time he catches up with our heroine (in the next room) the Villainess has recovered from being semistrangled, has gone round the house looking for a weapon and follows him in waving an electric hedge trimmer (they have them lying around in palatial Spanish villas) and hedge-trimmers him in half. He's very patient about it too. Just stands there as she diligently saws away.

    Only 170+ Jesus Franco films to go....
  12. The Lazarus Project (2008 ) - the title is a bit of a give-away. Executed criminal wakes up and finds he's living in an institution in Oregon. Or is he? Is this an afterlife? All a dream? Some sinister plot? The film ambles along toying with these ideas a bit and then stops. All in all pretty meh. Technically very good, there's some nice stuff going on in here, the middle act does the job of creating an air of what IS going on? puzzlement that is, sadly, just allowed to fizzle away.
  13. Not Another B Movie (2010) - I have a soft spot for low budget films and am very forgiving when I suspect the director is working on a prayer and a promise. I think you have to accept that there will be a certain roughness to a film made on a budget that wouldn't pay for the honey wagons on a Michael Bay movie. I also have a strange fondness for films about low budget film making. Making a film is a heroic endeavour; it's a rich field in which to mine stories and play with the audience's perceptions. Tom DiCillo's Living in Oblivion (1995) is by far the best film of this sort. Not Another B Movie is not the worst film of this sort but it's not good. Most of the action of the show takes place round a table in a restaurant where a writer, director, and producer talk through script changes to their next POS project which is "almost 7% funded!". As the evening goes on the endless static conversation is broken as rewrite ideas are played out on screen, there are also flashbacks to conversations with other possible collaborators, and their waitress, an actress, tries to get their attention. And none of it is as smart and funny as the writer/director thinks. There's an idea in here but it's a mediocre one played out at a leaden pace with very little imagination and to a script that is, sadly, just not up to much. How multiple Golden Globe and Emmy winning actor Ed Asner ended up appearing in this would, I suspect, be a much more interesting story. Not that he did more than a couple of setups for them he was probably done in a couple of hours, and that's including lunch.
  14. Timestalkers (1987) - a made for TV film which started out reasonably intelligently for a TV Time Travel story. One character for instance, presented with the problem of how to get past an electric fence, time-travelled to a past before the fence had been built and then walked across the open countryside till he got to where he wanted to be - then travelled forward back to the present. Not revelatory Earth-shattering stuff. That's a pretty run of the mill SF magazine situation but smart for a 1980s mainstream TV movie. By the end though it had all got a bit laboured and went through the obvious, over-optimistic motions of setting up a series. Klaus Kinski did his usual sterlingly OTT stuff as the villain.
  15. Hunter Prey (2010) - low budget SF film making at its finest (though the endings a bit WTF?). Shot for less than half a million dollars in seventeen days (all on location in a desert) and it looks great. The script isn't great but works - right up the last couple of minutes when it just stops leaving more questions than answers but it almost all makes sense.
  16. Colossus the Forbin Project (1970) - A rewatch prompted by a discussion on 'Breaking the fourth wall' I was having with Daughter Number 1 - this film contains a beautiful moment hardly more than five or six frames long when the hero does just that and it's great! - and my ongoing programme of introducing her to some classic SF Film before she becomes a bored and cynical teenager. Disturbingly she laughed at the best joke in the film, a subtle moment when the 'evil' giant super computer draws a distinction between the number of times the hero needs to be alone with his mistress in a week rather than the number of times he wants it.
  17. The Day Mars Invaded Earth (1963) - a low budget small cast SF film which for the first three quarters of its running time is pretty dull but the last few minutes almost make it worthwhile. In short the Martians win and the all-American family who are the centre of the strange events that take place all die, to be replaced by doppelgängers whose motives are well-explained and seem almost reasonable. Just wish the major part of the movie hadn't consisted of people endlessly walking about filling up screen time while showing off the expensive looking location.
  18. Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream (2005) - a documentary about 6 landmark films, El Topo (1970), Night of the Living Dead (1968 ), The Harder They Come (1973), Pink Flamingos (1972), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and Eraserhead (1977). Interesting. I learned stuff. What really surprised me though was that the film that most inspired George A Romero (director of The Living Dead) to become a film maker - was Michael Powell's The Tales of Hoffmann.
  19. The Immoral Mr Teas (1959) Tits.
  20. Eve and the Handyman (1961) Tits.
  21. Wild Girls of the Naked West (1963) Tits and (almost) a story.

Abandoned this month: Beyond Remedy (2009) Experimental psychology curing phobic medical students somehwhere in Spookytown, Europe. I gave up after 20 minutes when I realized I wasn't going to be able to stand the Professor doing that British Stage acting thing of STARTING SPEECHES Very LOUDLY! and then letting his voice get... quieter... and quieter... until.. SUDDENLY GETTING LOUDER AGAIN!! Enough of that, I thought. Click.


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