Friday, June 27, 2014


1  Cry Baby (1990) - again! John Waters first 'mainstream' picture. Makes no sense at all and is a structural mess. But it makes me laugh a lot.

2  Nightflyer (1987) - I had real hopes for this one. It is after all based on a real story by a real SF writer. (All right, George RR Martin.) My hopes lasted for all of three minutes. The opening sequence is an interminable monologue introducing the various assembled crew members of a scientific expedition as they sit in some sort of ill-defined public transport. The sequence looked like it came straight from the written story. Straight off the page. I don't know if this is the case as I haven't read the story but if it so it's a classic example of the difference between prose and screenplay writing. The opening may well have worked in a book but ground the film off to a standing stop from which it never recovered.

3 Psycho a Go-Go (1965) - A reconstruction, from various elements (it showed), of a semi-passable bit of sixties crime movie which, over the years, transmogrified, with the addition of new footage and re-editing, into first, The Man With the Synthetic Brain, and then, The Blood of Ghastly Horror. Psycho a Go-Go is not a great film but it's better than either of its later reworkings.

 4 Xin jiang shi xian sheng (aka Mr. Vampire 5, Chinese Vampire Story 1992) - a truly bizarre mix of unfunny toilet humour (at one point our three heroes, who have eaten some dodgy sushi, fight a vampire while they take a communal dump behind an upturned table), and crude slapstick comedy (early in the film one hero has his pants yanked down by a spirit child and has his foreskin stretched out to a couple of meters before it's released to snap back and hit him in the testicles), with some seriously beautiful, dreamlike stuff drifting through it (the sequence where two women are caught between two processions of spirits? demons? is one of the loveliest things I have seen on the screen for weeks). Every now and then human vs vampire kung fu breaks out climaxing in an extended fight sequence between the assembled good guys and a pregnant woman. The subtitles, that I could make out on the lousy print I watched, didn't help me understand what was going on at all they were so blurry and full of weird grammar, spelling errors and typos. A wonderfully bewildering experience.

5 Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979) - as part of Daughter Number One's endless fascination with anime we spend Friday Pizza and Bigscreen Movie Night watching Hayao Miyazaki's début feature. If Leslie Charteris' Saint had been Japanese and drawn by Herge I imagine it would look like this. Full of improbable OTT action and great fun.

6 This Is Not a Test
(1962) - Low budget piece of Cold War paranoia which I have seen before and was  pretty much as I remembered it. Far better than it has any right to be but someone really should have explained the concept of the Line of Action to the director. I'm really glad I wasn't the editor.

7 The Killings at Outpost Zeta (1980) - Low budget SF which, two weeks or so after watching and not making any notes about at the time has completely vanished from my memory. I can't remember a sodding thing about it.  This is why I keep up this diary. 

8 l rey de la montaña (aka King of the Hill 2007) - Spanish thriller which was pretty damn terrific. Best quid I spent in Poundland for ages. But the subtitlers should have done something with the hero's name. Having your central (male) character called 'Quim' is tad distracting. (They could have easily Anglicised the spelling to 'Kim' without anyone noticing.)

9 How Sleep the Brave
(aka Combat Zone 1982) - For a film set in the Far East (Viet Nam) but shot in a field in Buckinghamshire (with a budget in the low dozens) it was a brave stab.  But the dialogue was a pretty monotonous: "Get your mother****ing ass up here up here you mother****ing c**t or I'll shove this f****ing M16 up your f***ing ass..." etc. etc.

10 The Fifth Element (1997)  (H) - I had forgotten how funny it was.

11The Head ( Die Nackte und der Satan 1959 ) - an odd German entry in the decapitated head kept alive by mad scientist genre which has an eerie voluptuous sleaziness that I like. I would love to see an uncut version.

12 Shall We Dance
(1937) (M) - Merriol had forgotten how deathly dull this was.

13 Neath the Arizona Skies (1934) - early, out of copyright, public domain John Wayne film shoved out on the shoddy 22nd Century label with the original music removed and a crappy synth soundtrack laid over the interminable riding about sequences in an attempt to make them slightly less tedious than they are..  (And, I guess, rendering the disc, if not the film, copyrightable again.)  Pretty dull. Downloadable with original soundtrack here:

14 Flash Gordon

Flash! aaaaaaah!

As the end credits roll Number One Daughter (who has seen it before) turns to her sister (who hasn't) and asks,
"Well did you like it?"
"Yes, it was good."
Number One is incensed. "Good! Good!? GOOD??? - you can't say Flash Gordon is 'good', you can say it's silly and stupid and fun and trashy and cool and brilliant and loads of other stuff - but you could never call it 'good'."
For a 12 year old she has all the makings of a decent film critic. I am more than happy with my parenting skills tonight.


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