Sunday, March 24, 2013

Feb's Movies List

  1. Megamind (2010) - Daughter number two and I, both stricken with flu, needed that. Great fun.
  2. Teenagers from Outer Space.
  3. The Snow Beast - a creature feature double bill of rewatches with daughter number one. Much hilarity.
  4. Frankenstein General Hospital ( 1988 ) - 90 minutes. One almost decent joke and that was very very crappily delivered. An awful film. I seriously hope I see nothing as bad as this for the rest of the year.
  5. Rise of the Guardians (2012) - Once I'd realised I was watching an off-the-shelf Superhero movie featuring the The Tooth Fairy, Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman as The Justice League of Childhood with the Boogie-man as the super-villain of the piece I almost enjoyed it. The ending (as is so often the case these days) was far too long. (It's over already!) Some great set design though. Loved the set design.
  6. Rage in Harlem (1991) - I think I need to see that again. And not on a crappy VHS. From what I remember of the book this stayed pretty close to the mood, pacing, violence and the very dark (I nearly said 'black') humour of the original - though I did kind of miss that one of the central male conmen characters dresses as a preacher and not a nun as he did in the book.
  7. Kika (1993) - another Pedro Almodóvar under my belt. Not sure I liked it as much as some of his others - to be honest I don't think I liked it full stop - but it does confirm one of my rules of thumb for choosing what to watch. Any film with music by Ennio Morricone or costume design by Jean Paul Gaultier is worth a look.
  8. Repo Man (1984) - for the umpteenth time and loved it even more than I have ever loved it before - though if anyone knows where I can find a cut containing the 'Dorito' scene I would appreciate it. I miss that scene every time I watch it.

    'Food - Meat Flavored'. Goddamn mellon-farmers....
  9. A Dirty Little Business (aka Merchants of Venus 1998 ) - in which Michael York plays a Russian immigrant to the USA working in a dildo factory. Not very good. Obviously cheaply made (the sound in particular was very variable) it's one of those fascinating films where you spend more time wondering what it must be like to be a jobbing actor (like Michael York, Michael Cox, and Beverly D'Angelo) doing crap like this one day, a cartoon voice-over the next. (Cox and D'Angelo have worked on episodes of Scooby-do, and York on Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!) And how did Michel J Pollard, Troy Donahue and Arthur Hiller, director of Love Story, get involved with such a flaccid script?.
    Another one of those films where the story of the making was probably more interesting than the final product.
  10. Cat Women of the Moon (1953) - Rubber Spider Attack research disguised as Friday Night Movie Fun with the kids. They loved it. We laughed all the way through it. I confirmed rubberyness of spiders.
  11. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ( 2008 ) During the film Aslan tells Lucy twice that he's not going to come and save the day. "The same thing doesn't happen." Then he just comes back and saves the day. Is this going to happen in all of these? Everything gets desperate and then Aslan comes back, roars and saves the day, breathes on people and does magic shit while Lucy brings characters back to life with magic potion? Long time since I read the books but it seems possible. Well 'this could get uninteresting real quick'...
  12. The Naked Truth (1957) - mildly amusing British comedy with Terry Thomas, Peter Sellars etc.
  13. Rigged (1985) - a weird one. Started off awfully. I mean really really awful in that way only films from the 80s can: our utterly bland, pudding faced producer/lead (playing a tough Texas oilman) wears a fashion crime pastel blue suit in the first act and a lot of the dialogue is delivered in an unintelligible Texan mumble. The lighting is weird too. The whole thing is shot with that diffuse, backlit, soft-focus glow that Penthouse magazine used to shoot their centrefolds, back in the days when tan lines were in fashion and pubic hair a novelty. But somewhere on the way it almost gets good. Nothing much seems to happen for a long time; everything takes ages to set up. It was like watching a very soft porn version of Dallas. Then it neatly changes gear (almost literally) and our pudding faced hero is suddenly trying to fight his corner in a very soft porn version of Body Heat - but without any of the steamy eroticism. Somehow, despite the rotten start, I found myself quite engaged. A lot better than our utterly bland, pudding faced producer/lead's only other feature film. Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold. Boy, did that stink! I wish I still had a copy....
  14. Three Colours White (1994) - my second Krzysztof Kieslowski and, though lauded by grown up critics I'd heard of, I was somewhat disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high I don't know but The Double life of Veronique I though beautiful, elegiac, and utterly captivating. This was just another film. And I hated the last but one shot of Julie Delpy redeeming her character, giving hope to the protagonist and all that other happy ending bullshit. It was - I learned from watching the extras on the disc - added much later, it looks like it. The shot stands out like a sore thumb and just sinks the end of the film for me.
  15. Howl's Moving Castle - second time of watching and I still don't really like it. It doesn't gel.
  16. Running Man (1987) - an SF 'TV is evil' satire which passes the time with a couple of halfway jokes (the condemned contestants in a rigged duel to the death TV show get court-appointed theatrical agents) but was mostly meh. Probably the only film ever to feature two future governors of American states hitting each other while wearing Spandex.

Jan 2013's Film List


I'm having a month off. I'm going to do some reading....

I lasted till the 11th, when Family Friday Pizza And Movie Night kicked off with:

  1. The Adventures of Robin Hood ( 1938 ) - jolly fun which had the kids leaping about at the end recreating some of the 'great sword fighting bits' and generally behaving like I remember kids behaving at the ABC Minors Saturday morning matinees.
  2. Frankenweenie (2012) - and on the 12th we drive 90 miles to a real Saturday matinee. An autism friendly screening which, after an initial panic, went down well. The film was the usual Tim Burton, Gothic Cute disappointment too overly-stuffed with visual references for its own good. The highlight for me was Martin Landau's science teacher. A great part, with a message that Burton though so important that he stopped Danny Elfman from putting any music under parts of it. One of the few moments in the film that weren't underscored with full throttle orchestral accompaniment. Meh.

  3. Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) - that was fun.

  4. The Wayward Cloud (aka 天边一朵云 2005) - Arty Taiwanese porn musical with a lot of water-melons which included one never-to-be-forgotten dance routine set in a public toilets. Our hero was dressed as a giant penis surrounded by a hundred girls with sink plungers glued to their tits. Not something you see every day.

  5. Soldier ( 1998 ) - a Paul W.S. Anderson film based on a screen play by David Webb Peoples. So, one of my least favourite directors working from a script by a writer for whom I have some respect. The script won. Just. The basic story is: trained-from-birth, emotionless, killing-machine soldier is discarded when superior replacement arrive. He's dumped, meets a colony of peaceful types and learns there's more to life than 'Fear and Discipline'. Kurt Russell is simply terrific as the soldier. He hardly moves a face muscle for the whole film and gets about 50 words of dialogue and is utterly compelling. He makes an emotional journey of millimetres but it is riveting to watch. Anderson however tried his best to sink the film with the usual bucketloads of ultra-violence, culminating in the inevitable fistfight and over-use of gimmicky double-framing (printing each frame of film twice to give an 'edgy' pseudo slo-mo effect). He's also guilty of letting the art directors (who were obviously having fun) fill their future intergalactic junk-yard planet with all sorts of crap it wouldn't have made any sense to ship off-world. 1950s aeroplanes, boats, and, at one particularly throw-things-at-the-screen moment, a yellow school bus. Who, or what, or why thought; "I know, it's the future, school buses will be obsolete so it'll make sense for them to be shoved in spaceships and flown out to an uninhabited planet and then dropped into a pile?" This is dead pure, lazy, stupid Hollywood stupid bullshit stupidity. The same kind of stupidity (and this is a major fault in the script) that makes, out of the entire galaxy, the new recruits training exercise just happen to take place within yards of the one man who has good reason to resent their presence - and THEN has the idiocy to have the bad guy say, "By the way if you happen to see anyone down there," (i.e. the nice peaceful community of stranded refugees who have shown compassion and understanding to our battle-scarred emotional wasteland of a 'hero') "Then consider them hostile and kill them on sight." Oh no! Men, women and cute children in peril! What is our hero to do? This is just crap. Really stupidly stupid crap too because it wouldn't take more than a couple of minutes to establish that the bad guys have come to that particular place for a real reason, not by Hollywood bullshit accident. The stranded refugees have, after all, been trying get someone's (anyone's!) attention for years. Just retool the plot slightly - a couple of sentences would do it: The 'bad' guys have come to investigate reported sightings on an uninhabited planet. One of the refugees panics and opens fire. The soldiers respond. Death and mayhem. The potential for real tragedy is so easy. There; fucking big plot WTF? solved. Thank you. My bill will be in the post as soon as a remake is announced.

  6. Intervista (1987) - which I only watched to find out how to pronounce 'Cinnecità', fully intending to switch it off after I had found out. I ended up watching the whole thing. Damn you, Sr. Fellini! I cried during the scene where Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg watch their younger selves in a clip from La Dolce Vita.

  7. Transatlantic Tunnel (1935) - dated melodrama full of 'women's films' stock characters: the Driven Husband (his Dream, capital D, makes him blind to all else...), the Noble Wife (she goes literally blind - oh the irony! - and leaves him without letting him know, so her Driven Husband's Dream, capital D, can go on...), a Beautiful Socialite Heiress (secretly in love with the unattainable Driven Husband, but driven to sell herself to the Unspeakable Cad who can finance the Driven Husband's Dream), the Driven Husband's Best Friend (secretly in love with the Driven Husband's Noble Wife but puts his all into making the Driven Husband's Dream come true - because that's what the Driven Husband's Noble Wife wants) all set in an Art Deco future with television conferencing, autogyros, streamlined cars and huge 'radium drills' that can bore through the hearts of volcanoes. None of it made much sense if you thought about it for more than a few moments but it looked good, and the actors earnestly delivered their trite lines with good-old, 1930's British stoicism. Not a totally wasted 90 minutes. Certainly less wasted than the 90 minutes I spent watching:

  8. Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor (1990 ish) - dumb, cliché-ridden piece of 'monster on the lose in confined space' crap with one vaguely novel idea (buried in the laboriously explained back-story), and one nice, simple piece of set design (which, very cheaply, transformed the main location's endless, boring corridor into a slightly futuristic endless, boring corridor). The monster looked even more like a penis with teeth than usual, and the acting was dreadful. I know it's easy to say, 'oh man, the acting was, like - so bad!" but the standard here really was not good, not good at all, even by schlock standards. For many members of the cast this was their only screen credit. (For which, much thanks.)

  9. The Devil Rides Out (1968 ) - workmanlike Hammer horror with Charles Grey having great fun stealing everything that wasn't nailed down as the villain. I had fun spotting that Peter Swanwick (the baldy bloke in the control room in The Prisoner) was one of the Satanists. The whole show was marred for me though by a very coppy-outy ending.
So, 9 films. Not bad for a month in which I was determined not to watch even one.... Next month. All bets are off.

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.

Every Film I Watched in November 2012

Stupidly late:

  1. Screamers (1995) - a lot better than I remembered. A paper thin adaptation of a Philip K Dick short story, which manages to get some 'will they / won't they make it?' tension going. Mostly this time I was struck by what a good job Peter Weller did as our hero; why he didn't become a major star is a bit of a puzzle to me.
  2. Screamers: The Hunting (2009) - a belated, straight to DVD sequel of the above which managed to hide is small budget fairly decently but within minutes the script has run out of ideas and is piling up the WTF?s at an alarming rate. Various bits of other movies are imported (the Alien films being the obvious source) to try and distract us from the crappiness of the central idea. And I'm sure a great drinking game could be developed where everyone has to take a shot every time our heroes explain (in great detail) the story so far to every new character they encounter. (Basically it's 'We're looking for new batteries for our space ship. Do you have any? Oh crap! We just managed to let the indistinguishable from human killer robots reduce kill half of your friends - sorry about that. Note to self. Stop doing stupid things and stop thinking people aren't 'indistinguishable from human killer robots' just because they have a nice buns, a cute smile and talk about art and shit.) The best thing about this DVD is the 'Making of' featurette which has the cast talking about their characters and the film as if it was Important and Significant and a Serious Piece of Work. It's so funny, and sad at the same time, watching these people talking, with utmost seriousness, about a piece of shit they would lose off their resumes in a minute if ever they moved into the A list. I suppose jobbing actors have to think like this. "I can relate to this character, she's challenging to me as a woman - and as an actor." - no she's not! She's a cardboard cut-out with a thinly sketched in back story. She's a fifteenth generation photocopy of Ripley. Sigourney Weaver did all the work. Just assume the poses, stand where the director tells you to and run away with the money. The writer didn't think about the script. The audience aren't likely to be thinking at all after five minutes because we know exactly what is going to happen from minute to minute. Stop making life difficult for yourself.
  3. Labyrinth (1986) - Friday night Pizza Movie Night with the kids. The kids loved it the first time we saw it watched on my battered, much loved VHS tape. This time we saw it on DVD. The first time I have seen when it hasn't been panned and scanned for 4:3 TV/Tape. It was like watching it for the first time all over again. A joy of a film.
    The disc also has a contemporary 'Making of' obviously intended for television which has to be one of the best 'Making of's I have seen. Interesting, detailed, and documentary in style. No heavy sales techniques in sight. Well worth a look.
  4. Aliens (1986) - Thinking about Screamers 2, which I watched the other night, I realised I had never actually watched Alien 2 all the way through from start to finish. Long isn't it? (The actor Lance Henriksen was in both - can't fit Labyrinth into the puzzle yet...)
  5. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009) - a comedy SF film which manages the rare double of being both good SF (it all makes sense) and is very funny. Three ordinary blokes find a time rift in the toilets of their local pub. Complexity ensues. Wonderfully written stuff. Loved it. (An Aliens reference towards the end too.)
  6. Queen of Blood (1966) - a rewatch. Not as creepily good as I remember but it still had its moments. You have to admire the tenacious way Rathbone managed to hold onto his script for most of the time he was on screen. They obviously weren't paying him enough to learn his lines but luckily, as his character was a head scientist, he had an excuse to carry around a succession of clipboards, memos, lab results and so on.
  7. Toy Story 3 (2010) - again. And I cried. Again.
  8. Deathbed (2002) - straight to DVD nano-budget old fashioned ghost horror story about a haunted bed. Not very good all round but does contain one shot of note. About 35 minutes in our hero and heroine are shown searching their own apartment with a flash-light - despite the fact that the electricity is clearly working (the heroine has just been using a hair-dryer in the bathroom and the bedside light is on). Presumably they are searching their own apartment with a flash-light for no other reason than this is a horror film and and the editor needed a shot of someone searching somewhere with a flash-light to cut into the trailer. Another 50p well wasted at Poundland - long story.
  9. To Die For (aka Extramarital - 1998 ) Starring (and to varying degrees produced by - what IS an 'associate producer'?) Jeff 'Lawnmower Man' Fahey and Traci 'Yes, THAT Traci Lords' Lords. To Die For is a not very erotic erotic thriller - which isn't that thrilling either - so I guess that just leaves... erm... well, it's 90 minutes long. Lords is not a good actor and, though woefully miscast (sorry, but no one is ever going to accept her a frustrated almost prudish happily monogomous married woman) she positively shone here. Some real "Plot delivery Service! I've got a plot point here, where do you want it?" acting from the rest of the cast. (Not that you can blame them really. The script is lumpen like that. Neither writer nor director have worked again but the actors are still gigging). Very underwhelming in every direction. The film did however allow me enough time between its predictable moves (the Machiavellian killer behind the overly complex - the writer wishes! - murder plot is obvious by the end of the first reel) to formulate another one of my 'Why is it in American movies...?" questions.
    'Why is it in American would-be erotic thrillers the beds always have metal bedsteads?' Apart, obviously, from the facts that it is difficult to frame shots of half-hearted sexual writhing through a solid, dralon covered, padded bed end. And it's easier to attach the inevitable handcuffs to a metal bedstead as well... erm... I guess.
  10. Botched (2007) - a 'Comedy Crime Horror' movie which starts out as a laddish crime romp, full of speed ramping annoyance editing before segueing into a bonkers splatter gore horror with our heroes running around the same two corridors being chased by a gun-toting female religious maniac and her sword wielding brother who believes he is the reincarnation of Ivan the Terrible. Very gory, very stupid, and quite funny.
  11. Blade (1998 ) - I think I need to widen my random selection movie gene pool. Blade starred Steven Dorff who was in Botched and had a brief appearance from Traci Lords, who was in To Die For. Having said that I quite enjoyed Blade in a 'park your brain' mode way.
  12. Arrietty (2010) Studio Ghibli's beautiful take on the Mary Norton Borrower books. I read the books as a kid and have seen just about every screen adaptation over the years (well, bits at least) but this film is by far the best. (Though Penelope Wilton is still my favourite Homily.) Slow gentle and utterly enchanting. And not just me. My three kids: aged 10, 8, and 3 were riveted. I don't think I have ever seen them quite so engrossed in a film before. (We watched the UK dubbed version. The US dubbed version is, I understand, very different and very horrible.)
  13. Virus (1999) - Alien life form infects Russian research vessel and kills everyone on-board and then uses their bodies for spare parts - until it is outwitted by a bunch of Americans of mixed ethnicity waving hand guns. Only the Caucasians survive. Basically it's the usual huge pile of clichés cobbled together, lots of running around in confined ill-lit spaces with THINGS made by SFX people who have watched Hardware, Moontrap, and Screamers jumping out at you. Jamie Lee Curtis, the star of the show, described it as "an unbelievably bad movie". She should know.
  14. The Monster Maker (1944) - Good old fashioned horror crap, you can't beat it. Just shows what's wrong with modern horror films. No Gorillas. Every mad, foreign-accented scientist used to have a gorilla in a cage in the corner of the lab for no real reason. One mention of it being "essential for my experiments" was all the justification given here. Needless to say it was let lose and implied ravaging nearly occurred before a faithful pet dog saved the day.
  15. Starcrash (1979) - one of these days I will get a decent copy of this film. I love Starcrash. It's just so fucking awful.
  16. Bram Stoker's The Legend of the Mummy (aka Legend of the Mummy 1998 ) Dull, confused (what are all those Brits and Australians doing in San Francisco?), shonky mess of a film that suffers from being dreadful in just about every department (some seriously iffy editing) but not dreadful in any one direction to make it bad enough to be good. (And boy am I glad to get to the end of that sentence.)
  17. Loose Shoes (aka Coming Attraction 1980) - a hit and miss (mostly miss) collection of skits themed as a bunch of film trailers. The highlights are the future director of Doctor Dolittle, Betty Thomas, shaking her bare boobs as a wanton Skateboarder from Hell (it's always surprising how a little gratuitous nudity captures my attention) and the utterly brilliant NSFW title song which I have had stuck in my head on and off for the 30 years since I last saw this film:
  18. Tunnel Vision ( 1978 ) - another hit and miss - though with a slightly higher hit count - themed sketch film. Rude, crude, dated and stuffed full of dubious racial stereotypes - it's hard to tell from this distance how much irony is being applied here (I suspect a lot) - and another sighting of Betty Thomas' norks. Yay!
  19. Beetlejuice ( 1988 ) - one of Merriol's favourite films... it's okay.
  20. Outlaw of Gor (1989) - The Gor books by John Norman are bloody awful. Sword and sorcery science-fantasy set on a counter earth with great dollops of highly detailed, misogynistic sado-masochism thrown into the mix. Very badly written. Even I can't read them.

    They deserved better than this.

    This sequel, shot apparently concurrently with the first film (called, simply enough, Gor) is one dreadful film. Nothing much happens. Hero Tarl Cabot is whisked back to the planet Gor (aka the usual generic Italian Sword and Sorcery desert location) where he is reunited with old friends, framed for murder, walks around the desert a lot, gets captured and has to fight for his life for a bit in the arena - before someone else kills the villain and the film can end. It's insane. The hero does nothing for the entire film.

    I have seen two other films by the director of this piece of poo: Mutant, and The Day Time Ended. Mutant I remember very little about but The Day Time Ended is a masterpiece of vagueness - a whole movie in which the protagonists do very little but react to unexplained weirdness around them. They don't actually DO anything for the whole film. A similar malaise affects our hero here. He just drifts along through all kinds of leaden-paced mayhem doing very little to make us root for him. Framed for the murder of the king, he runs away, and is cornered by well-muscled, spear-wielding extras. He is rescued by his mentor, the sage old wizard, stepping in front of the approaching guards. "They will not kill me. Run, Tarl Cabot!" Cabot runs. The wizard gets run through.

    Out in the desert it's Cabot who nearly drinks from the poisoned water hole before being stopped by his dwarf sidekick. It Cabot who stands around being ineffectual at the slaver market while the dwarf rustles up some bulky face-hiding disguises, it's Cabot who rescues the slave girl (or rather his stunt double - Wait! You thought those bulky face-hiding disguises were part of the plot? In this kind of film there's only one reason why our hero dons a face-covering disguise, it's to make the stuntman who is going to double for him for the next sequence a tad less obvious). But hurrah! our hero (or someone dressed like him) has actually done something heroic! He rescued a scantily clad hotty from certain... something. They camp out in the desert. The hotty, grateful for being rescued from something, wants to 'pleasure' him. He refuses. He is in love with the princess you see - he's also, weirdly for this kind of film, a vegetarian. They go to sleep. Cue close up of creepy feet creepily footstepping towards them over the sand and - bazingo! Next shot they're in chains and bound for the slave pits again. Nice going, hero. What was the point of all that? Back in chains our 'hero' spends the rest of the film being whipped and force-fed porridge before he doesn't kill the evil queen or rescue the princess in the final reel. Other people do that. Dreadful! Awful! Terrible! I'm downloading the original as I type!...
Films I have fallen asleep during this month: Dune (David Lynch's), Queen of Blood ...

Films I have abandoned this month: Resident Evil I nearly gave up after five minutes when it became obvious the top-secret super sciencey place had a infectious biohazard containment area that shared a ventilation system with the rest of the building ONLY BECAUSE THE MOVIE WOULD HAVE STOPPED IF IT HADN'T. But I persevered for 30 minutes (most of which was spent analysing Milla Jovovich's acting. I quickly realised she was doing this film with two expressions: Mouth Open and Mouth Shut. Both worked. - it worked in The Fifth Element, why change a winning formula?) I persevered until the moment that I realised that none of the elite troops on this deadly search and destroy mission was going to have the wit to jam open any of the endless number of doors that kept closing behind them. Just put something in the door jam, you morons! Nope, they did it again. Bye!
Next Day. Penny drops! Resident E was directed by Event Horizon, Death Race bullshit 'what's the next cool image? director Paul W.S. Anderson. No wonder I hated it.