Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Finally got to the posh fish place for our delayed anniversary nosh last night, at five minutes before they shut and had a slap-up feed. Came home and had one of those horrendous loss of control, powerlessness dreams. Even though I had my back to all of the diners in the restaurant (apart from Merriol of course) and didn't see a single langoustine, even the close proximity of shellfish gives me nightmares.

In the dream I was somehow transported back to dull horrible Post-War 1947 Britain wearing my normal everyday 2009 clothes and, for some reason I can't remember, carrying a huge digital camera. After the usual horrible dream running around for a while getting chased by people, I realised I was stuck in 1947 and would have to find some way of making a living. I didn't even have any coins in my pockets (not that that would have done me any good because in 1947 they were still using Pounds, Shillings, and Pence). All I could think of were all the things I knew about the future: Buy IMB, Elvis and The Beatles would be really big, Superman's real name was Kal-El, Paul Foot would never be Prime Minister... but Ronald Reagan would become President of the USA - and I had absolutely no idea of how to exploit any of these fact because, though I knew how all of these things did happen, I had no idea how or why any of these things happened.
I had no idea how to buy IMB shares in 1947 (buying shares in Britain was, in those days, a game exclusively for the rich and semi-rich and played by an old-boys network to which I could never gain entrance.) Placing bets with huge odds on the result of (to me) foregone conclusions was a non-starter too as there were no betting shops until the 1960s. It was doubtful whether a backstreet bookie would even take an (illegal) bet on the outcome of the next US Presidential Election (Harry S Truman), let alone pay up when I won. I was stuffed. I woke up horrified about how shallow my knowledge is.

Meanwhile, over on the Name That Film (from an obscure still) Group over on Flickr, this screen capture which I had posted:





was correctly identified within minutes as coming from Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

I am not alone.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Just spent the last 36 hours in bed with a bug. Nothing to do with sea food - we never got there. So for tonight's entry read the last one apart from the Happy birthday America bit. That's gone.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Birthday America, Happy Wedding Anniversary Us.

Merriol and I are going out. Together. Alone. No Kids. We are going out for a meal together, alone, with no kids. It's our seventh wedding anniversary. Merriol wants to do something 'a bit special' to mark the occasion. My initial suggestion of double helpings of macaroni cheese and chips at Tesco's cafe was not greeted with the unalloyed pleasure I was expecting. Apparently double helpings of macaroni cheese and chips at Tesco's cafe is not something enough. I have no idea what the particular 'something' it isn't is, as Merriol's disapproval of my plan was mostly expressed non-verbally, and from a different room. So we're going here instead, which is the best sea food place for miles.

Because it is a sea food place, Merriol is bound to order some giant multi-legged horror* and make slurping noises as she sucks the quivering flesh from its way too many legs while I stare at the picture on the wall behind her head, trying to eat my meal without looking down in case I catch a glimpse of whatever it is she's eating. (Please god, let them do steaks! - or macaroni cheese.) Gnyaaaa! I hate shellfish, especially the too many legged varieties. The snots in boxes I can cope with - just - but the scuttling buggers? no way.

I hope she's not planning on sex afterwards.



*Lobster, crayfish, earwig, something like that.



Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Go make some popcorn because, tonight, for one night only, it's every movie I have watched in June and what I thought of most of them. (Sometimes at tedious length.) It's not all words. There are pictures further down used for valid illustrative purposes, some of them are in colour, and one has naked people in it! There will not be a test at the end so I can tell you that the naked people are the ones not wearing any clothes.

  1. Darkdrive - I often watch movies that make no sense in which characters keep doing stupid things that make no sense for them to do merely to keep the plot going ("Do NOT ever go into that fucking cellar!), or built on premises that defy most known logic to start with (The Giant Claw springs to mind for some reason) but Darkdrive really does make no sense. It starts out by looking like it is going to make sense - in an incredibly clunky, by the numbers clichéd manner; the first act is almost a paint-by-numbers assemblage of stock action thriller lines - but by the end all semblance of logic had been thrown out of the window and driven away to the local dump.

    At the start our hero is a whiz-kid programmer working for a morally dubious corporation who runs the penal system of the future by digitizing villains into a virtual prison - called guess what? 'The Matrix' - and 'terminating' the bodies. By the end of the movie he is trapped in the virtual reality prison with his dead wife and a little girl who had a couple of lines at the start of the show, caught in some endless looping mashup of Groundhog Day / Existenz / Overdrawn at the Memory Bank but with more guns and swearing. The hero meets himself and turns out to be the baddie as well. Though how he got there before he got there to find himself is never explained. In fact no one knows why anyone is in there - or indeed how they got there (Mrs Hero for instance was blown up by a booby-trapped picnic hamper in the middle of a field*, nowhere near the brazzillion tons of special effects - OK, a chair and an arc lamp - needed to get her husband Tronned). It almost becomes hypnotically wonderful, as if David Lynch had directed Time Cop. (A feeling heightened by great chunks of the music which was as near to being the Twin Peaks theme as you could get without being sued.) I may watch it again.

    * There's another How To Survive a B Movie tip for you; never, ever tell your husband you're pregnant just after he's walked out on an Evil Corporation.
  2. Timelock - incredibly bad Future Prison movie in which sweaty leather-clad Vin Deisel wannabees run around a former mining asteroid turned penal institution shooting 20th century handguns at each other (as it was set in the 23rd Century, this is the equivalent of having James Bond run around with a muzzle loading flintlock) and generally being sweatily homo-erotically sadistic to everyone in sight. Pure crap. Not particularly enjoyable crap either. Zero imagination / WTF? points included the ship our villains planned to escape on needing a 3.5 floppy to get it to fly (I can't even start to think of an equivalent for today's transport - needing a quill and parchment to start the Space Shuttle?) and the side-kick baddy managing to smuggle not one, but two katanas (with scabbards) into the ultimate maximum security prison in the universe. Mindless bilge.
  3. For Your Consideration - I like 'independent' low budget movies in which I know none of the actors (apart from Steve Buscemi who does seem to appear in them a lot) and I like low budget movies about low budget movie making - of which there are not that many and none as good as the wonderful Living in Oblivion (which starred Steve Buscemi). So I was quite looking forward to this one (despite it having Ricky Gervais in it). I was, I'm afraid, sadly disappointed by the end of it. There were nice moments but it all seemed so slight. Maybe that was the point. I stayed with the credits long enough to notice that one of the Assistant Property Masters was called Skip Crank which cheered me up a bit.
  4. Southland Tales - I'm a bit of an ignoramus when it comes to all things modern. Not having a television habit beyond the ocassional hit from the BBC News channel, and loathing the whole 'Celeb' thing, I do miss a lot of what passes for Popular Culture these days. It was only when I looked up Southland Tales on the IMDb after watching it, that I found out I had just watched a Justin Timberlake movie. I know who Justine Timberlake is (it would be hard NOT to know who he is*) but I don't recall that I had ever actually seen him in the flesh as it were. And 'The Rock'**. He was in it too. Cool, never seen either of them in anything before. I won't try and give a synopsis of the movie - better men than me have tried and failed - but for the first 40 or 50 minutes I was in My Movie Happy place. Happily bewildered by a movie that seems to have lots of intersecting plot lines, presented in a layered disjointed fashion where you where never sure who was doing what and why. I love this feeling. The passing Philip K Dick references bedded me in. I was in Scanner Darkly / eXistenZ country. Slowly my happiness evaporated (or maybe just went away) and I started to get irritated, then bored, then very irritated (apparently you cannot be bored and irritated at the same time). What started out as weirdly fascinatingly paranoidly odd turned into repetitively messy and unconvincingly dull. And strangely familiar. The name Kevin Smith popped up in the cast list. I know the name Kevin Smith - director of Clerks, Dogma, and Chasing Amy. Kevin Smith it turns out is a good friend of the director. I disliked Dogma, and Chasing Amy for very much the same reasons as I ended up disliking this movie. They weren't movies they were comic books made flesh, out of control, mishmashes of over the top, juvenile ideas thrown at the screen in a hope that some of it sticks. Southland Tales was accompanied by a simultaneous release of three graphic novels which (or so I am told) help to make some sense of the movie. This is a sign of a writer / director totally out of his depth - or out of control. A movie should be able to stand on its own two feet not require three huge comic books to prop it up.

    Towards the end our most central character (hero?) puts a gun to his head and says something along the lines of:

    Hero:

    This is all in my head. A dream.

    I pull the trigger and it stops...


    Audience:

    Please... Pull the fucking trigger!...



    * (He's some sort of singer.)
    ** (He's some sort of wrestler?)

  5. Creator - Peter O'Toole is an eccentric maverick medical scientist determined to clone his long dead wife; he hires a girl to donate eggs for his experiments. His student assistant falls in movie lurve with another student who develops Sudden Onset Movieitis Syndrome - Brackets Brain Close Brackets - and falls into a coma. After an off-screen bit of paperwork from O'Toole's character to stop the girlfriend having the plug pulled on her, and some overwrought "Don't die, my love! I know you can hear me!" acting from the boyfriend, she makes one of those bullshit soap opera, last moment instant recoveries. From persistent vegetative state to sitting up in bed smiling with backlit hair in less than a day.

    For some reason this thin, predictable, turgid movie is adored by people all over the world: the IMDb pages are full of gush about it:
    Quote:
    "It will fill you with the joy of life"
    Quote:
    "Getting through this movie is an emotional roller-coaster, the kind where when the ride is over you go, "WHEW!" But then again, you don't want it to end. The gift of this film is that when the lights came up at the end, it sent me back to reality with a different perspective that truly IS a gift."
    and the scary:
    Quote:
    "I have made every boyfriend I have considered being serious with watch this movie."
    (Every boyfriend?) Making loved ones (or even potential loved ones) watch favourite movies is always a dangerous thing to do. A long term relationship of mine came to a sudden stop when she insisted on making me watch one of hers: Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same - it all went downhill very fast after that. Creator doesn't have Jimmy Page climbing mountains in search of characters from the Tarot or Robert Plant poncing about Wales waving a sword looking for the Holy Grail but it does contain one of the most embarrassingly awful movie shower scenes I can remember. I will never forget it. Let's face it; "Fuck macramé!" is not a line you get to hear that often in a movie - let alone delivered during an 'erotic' shower scene.
    vlcsnap-579555
    Fuck macramé!

    In the end every one has learned something and found true love and moved on and another 107 minutes of my life has been wasted.
  6. Evil Roy Slade - Brilliant title. This week I are mainly watching Westerns. For several reasons I have a lot Westerns lying in the TBW pile. So this week I am going to watch nothing but cowboy movies. To start, a 1972 TV movie starring the great John Astin as the evilest dude that ever robbed a lot of banks. I remember seeing Evil Roy Slade some 30 years and it stuck in my head as one of those films that I would want to see again one day. Now I have. It's not as funny as I remember - but then, what is after 30 years? but it still made me laugh. Stuffed full of over the top sillinesses, "I learned a valuable lesson today. Never trust a pretty girl, or a lonely midget." and stupid sight gags: Evil Roy Slade trotting into town on the aforementioned midget's tiny pony was predictable but hilarious. "Look! they captured Evil Roy Slade - and half his horse!"

    Later Edit: The joke that is going to live with me the longest though, is the moment when the incredibly stupid Evil Roy Slade is told by the gang's accountant that they are broke. The accountant is a small, meek looking man in waistcoat and shirt, a caricature of a western clerk complete with one of those strap-on eye shade visors. He reels off a whole stream of figures while Slade stares at him in dumb incomprehension. Finally Slade says: "Where's the rest of yer hat?"

    Everytime I see one of those visors (and they seem to crop up in cowboy movies a lot) all I can think is: "Where's the rest of yer hat?"
  7. Time Bandits - one day into my week long Westernfest and things are going pear-shaped already. What happened was this: we all sat down to our usual Friday night Family Movie and Pizza session as normal. Calamity Jane tonight. Merriol is happy that she was going to get to share one of her favourite films with the kids, I'm happy it's a western (sort of) and the kids are just happy that there's lots of mozzarella on the pizza. A couple of minutes in and it's apparent that our battered old VHS tape is no longer watchable and is driving the player into an auto-tracking fugue state. Out it comes and I grab the first possible replacement (my pizza was getting cold!). Time Bandits. Merriol enjoyed it again, the kids were captivated and I was happy to see there were four cowboys in the final sequence. Hurrah!
  8. A Fistful of Dollars - It has been years since I have seen this and I had forgotten how utterly brilliant it is.
  9. A Few Dollars More - after only two films I can't walk out of my walk-in airing cupboard (which has double doors) without a cowboy swagger.
  10. The Good The Bad and the Ugly - Think that's me Sergio Leoned up to my eyeballs for a bit.
  11. Calamity Jane - Merriol loves this, Holly was obviously captivated, I spent most of the time watching the editing. There are some very odd jump cuts in it during song/dance numbers where they have obviously switched from one take to another without cutting away to disguise the join. I don't know enough about song/dance number editing of the period to know if this was normal or not.
  12. Night Train To Terror - So, God and Satan are sitting on a train and, having nothing better to do, they decide to watch three terrible movies that the producers made earlier out of the train window. To add to the agony the only other occupants of the train are the conductor and a 'rock' band (and their groupies) who spend the entire movie playing one song and break-dancing.
    vlcsnap-476896
    Morph's evil twin....
    Claymation in horror movies just doesn't work, does it?.

    I have no idea where to begin with this one. I am used to watching bad movies but I have never encountered one that caused physical hurt to watch before. God this was dreadful. The three movies must have been pretty bad to start with - actually I know one was pretty bad to start with because I have seen it in one of its full length versions (it was re-edited and re-released under different names a couple of times) and one of the segments was made up from footage from a film that had never been completed - but released anyway. So, God and Satan watch three insane disjointed films:
    • Scream Your Head Off aka Marilyn Alive and Behind Bars - this is the one that was never finished before being released, but after they had released the unfinished film (straight to ex-rental video) they went and added more footage with a lookalike playing Marilyn Monroe trapped in a lunatic asylum where girls are being hacked to bits for spare parts..
    • Omenesque rip-off crap Cataclysm - aka Satan's Supper, aka The Nightmare Never Ends (how we wished), and.
    • Death Wish Club aka Carnival of Fools - these guys got a lot of mileage out of their films - in which a medical student and his porn star girlfriend are made to join in a suicide club..

    The films are made even more incomprehensible than they were to start with by being reduced to less than a third of their running time... (curiously they chopped out the plot but left all the gore and tits in) and then the train crashes killing everyone on board (apart from God and Satan of Course). Ow! I am in real pain.
  13. Reefer Madness - I finally get to see Reefer Madness - another 50p (inc. postage) well spent on eBay. Reefer Madness, for those of you lucky enough never to have heard of it, is a 1936 film warning the parents of America about the evil of 'Marihuana' a drug 'more dangerous than heroin or cocaine' that was corrupting their twenty-something year old high-school children. Turns out to be pretty tawdry stuff - the movie, not the dreaded Mary Jane; one puff of 'The Weed' in this movie and you are on the Hop-head highway to a hell or murder, madness, and the uncontrollable giggles. A lot of my time watching this was spent wondering what the lighting guys thought they were up to. A lot of the scenes had the, for the time, pretty commonplace lighting gimmick of having the shadow of a Venetian blind cast diagonally against a blank wall in the background. Instant dramatic lighting. Always works. Except when your set designer plonks the window in the set and then puts curtains and pull down roller blind in front of it.


    "Where's that light coming from? Either I'm stoned...
    - or that window is a portal to another dimension!! Coool!"

  14. Plughead Rewired: Circuitry Man II - I've had a copy of this knocking about for ages. Starring former porn queen Tracy Lords, and a bloke who played a baddy in Mad Max 2, it's one of those movies that gets bundled into those 10 Sci-Fi Classics That No One Has Ever Heard Of box-sets*. I'm sorry now I didn't sample this earlier. For a nothing budget sequel to a hardly-famous-to-start-with movie I had a lot of fun with this one. It's stupid comic book nonsense that didn't take itself at all seriously and contained a few half-way decent jokes, a couple of odd ideas, and a quoting of one of my favourite trash movie lines: "Welcome to my mind!" (cf. FreeJack - though Vernon Wells' delivery of it comes nowhere near as camp as Anthony Hopkins'). Any movie that ends with a former multi-millionaire escaped convict delivering a Shakespeare sonnet to a rock has to be worth a look. It is also possibly the only movie that has the villain explode when he sees the hero kiss the heroine. Not metaphorically explode, as in explode with rage or frustration, I mean literally explode as in explosives - and body parts bouncing off the ceiling and hitting the screen, that kind of explode. Why he explodes when he sees the hero kiss his girlfriend is a mystery. The writer / directors obviously decided it was time for the movie to stop so had the villain explode. Boom! The End.

    *(For some reason no one ever bundles the original, Circuitry Man, and new DVDs of it are marked upwards from $150 on Amazon!)
  15. The Final Countdown - A US Navy aircraft carrier is magicked back by some unexplained time vortex thingie to December the 6th 1941 just in time (and position) to stop the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Just as they are about to stop the attack on Pearl Harbour the unexplained time vortex thingie reappears and brings them back to the present. End of story. Well that was 103 minutes of film time summed up in two sentences. I'm sure if I tried I could get it down to one. Or possibly a haiku. What a waste of time. Unless you like seeing shots of planes taking off from and landing on aircraft carriers of course - there's a lot of those. Shots of planes taking off and people walking away from the camera down the ship's corridors must occupy half the film's running time. About halfway through the movie there's a shot which sums up this whole thing for me. The captain, played by the producer's dad Kirk Douglas, walks onto the bridge of his ship. "Captain's on the bridge!" yells the officer in charge of yelling that sort of thing. Kirk walks to centre screen and thinks for a moment before turning round and leaving. "Captain's left the bridge!" shouts the same officer. What a pointless bloody shot! The whole film is like that, goes from point A to point A again via nowhere particularly interesting.

    The highlight of the film for me was, during one of the endless walking away down the corridor shots, watching a hapless extra (or possibly crew member) walk halfway out of a doorway in the foreground before realising he was in the wrong place and ducking back out of shot again

    The twee wee 'twist' ending is obvious from the moment it is set up just before the third act
  16. Hideous Sun Demon - An atomic scientist is exposed to a dangerous new isotope and devolves into a lizard creature - but only when exposed to sunlight! Which is a bit of a shit when you consider he lives in southern California. The tedium was broken by the bad girl, bar-room singer's impressive cleavage and an interestingly new (to me) way of breaking a basic rule of movie direction. Full explanation (with diagrams) to follow when I can think straight again.

    Edit:
    Movie Making 101: Breaking the Line. 'Breaking the line' is one of those things that you see a lot in bad/cheap/don't-give-a-shit movie making. It's one of those technical rules that, though it's not inviolable (no rule is inviolable), seeing it broken, unless it is done deliberately and with great care, is a sure sign that the director doesn't know what he's doing. Imagine if you will a scene with two characters in it. For simplicity's sake, let's make it really obvious: two cowboys face each other down a deserted street. There's no one else in sight. The 'line of action' in this scene is an imaginary line drawn between the two cowboys and extending (in a straight line) beyond both of them down the street to infinity. The director now has to make a choice, which side of the line does he place the camera?* Once he has made that choice he should stick to it. Any shots made of this scene should be made from the chosen side of the line and only that side - until such time as something is done to either radically change the line (Cowboy 1 dives behind a horse trough), or the line of action ceases to exist (Cowboy 2 shoots his opponent dead), or a new line of action comes into the scene (the Sheriff steps out onto the sidewalk and the gunslingers see him - in this case you now have three lines of action: the original between Cowboy 1 and Cowboy 2, and the two new lines between Cowboy 1 and Sheriff, and Cowboy 2 and Sheriff.).

    So what happens if the director crosses the line and shoots the scene from both sides? Nothing much; the world doesn't end, and no one dies but the film crew wastes a lot of time and the editor gets a lot of useless footage that she can't edit together. Again, to make this crudely clear, imagine our two cowboys facing each other down the street. The director chooses to place the camera halfway between them shooting at 90 degrees to the line of action. He has a wonderful wide shot of the two cowboys facing each other in profile. Black Hat on the right, White Hat on the left. If he then takes the camera across the street (and across the line) turns it around, and then shoots the same scene from that angle he now has a wonderful wide shot of the cowboys facing each other in profile but this time with the Black Hat on the left, and White Hat on the right of the picture. Cutting between these two shots will make the two cowboys swap places, jump from one side of the screen to another. It won't cut together. It would look terrible. The audience would not know what is going on. Okay, that's a very crude example. No director, no matter how incompetent, would attempt to do such a thing (unless they had some specific need to do so, like revisiting the scene later in the movie as a flashback, or deliberately wanting to disconcert the viewer).

    Here's a more subtle example from Reefer Madness:.



    In this shot the line of action is between the lecturer and the audience as a whole. It's a pretty weak line of action. There's nothing else going on in this scene. He's talking, they're listening.



    In the next shot he's still talking, but he's facing the wrong way. The editor did a good job is disguising the fact that the director had fucked up by cutting into this shot as the lecturer was momentarily facing screen right but it still jarred.

    In Hideous Sun Demon the interestingly new (to me) way of breaking this rule came about when this man, playing a doctor



    has to tell these two people, playing nuclear scientists



    That their vaguely handsome colleague has turned into a solar-powered lizard.

    A simple enough set-up you would have thought. From these first two shots it's obvious that the doctor is sitting slightly side-on to the two scientist who are over to his left (screen right). A bit stagey perhaps but it does the job. When our lady scientist starts to speak however, the doctor turns his head to listen to her -



    and is suddenly looking off screen left! Why is he looking over there? We know lady scientist is sitting right next to her colleague off to his right so why is the doctor suddenly started making up his own lines of action and started staring over at the corner of the room?

    Later the director tries to convince us these three shots belong to the same scene:







    For the purposes of the plot these two are supposed to be looking at each other. They're not. If she's looking screen left in the wide shot at the top there, she should be looking screen left in the closer angle too. Fortunately for the director she has a magnificent pair of tits and since everyone would be staring at them, (and her incredibly crappy attempts to convince us she was playing a piano) very few people (crew and director included) were bothered about where her eye-line was supposed to be.

    * I'm deliberately excluding the possibility that he may chose to put the camera on the line of action to give the audience a Point of View shot (ie seeing, as it were, through the eyes of one of the cowboys), or a Sergio Leone type shot of a pair of boots straddling the frame with the other cowboy facing the camera in the distance. Both are perfectly permissible things to do but to keep this simple let's say he has to choose one side or the other.

  17. Wild Wild Planet - a re-watch an 1960s Italian SF epic that makes less and less sense each time I see it.
  18. La noche de Walpurgis - (which sounds a lot better than the The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman). Spanish / German Werewolf Vampire flick that goes through the usual motions: a werewolf seeking an end to his eternal torment, a vampire countesses bought back from the grave, vaguely lesbian vampire moves, people sliding stone slabs that conservatively weigh two tons from the tops of tombs with only minor grunting - but that's about it. Next!
  19. People From Space - probably the lowest budget movie I have ever seen. $7,000 dollars. Four people get lost in the woods looking for a UFO. Basically it's The Blair Witch Project played for laughs. And I did laugh - a couple of times....
  20. Horton Hears a Who -
  21. The Incredible Petrified World - One of those movies that makes starts of by making no sense whatsoever and, by the end of it has you doubting your sanity. What I think happened in it was this:.

    After an interminable five minutes of footage of fish and an octopus with a voice over telling us of the mysterious wonders of the deep we discover we have been watching film taken by a deep sea diving expedition (despite there clearly having been reflections of rows of spectators in the glass of the aquarium tanks). A brief discussion about the wonders of diving bells follows and we are told that a new diving bell is about to be launched. We cut to a boat at sea with a big diving ball thingy on it. The intrepid crew: two men (one of whom we last saw wearing a hooded jacket and ogling the pianist's tits in Hideous Sun Demon) and two women. They descend. But something goes wrong! and the diving bell falls off the cable and plummets 'several miles' (sic) to the ocean bed. When the crew wake they find it is light outside. Curious. They don their scuba gear - and at this point I have lost the will to live. Not only has our writer - director managed to stiff us with one of the stupidist sets of the fifties we are also expected to believe they packed Scuba gear!



    (We spend a lot of time staring at this ladder and trying to see round it because more often than not it manages to obscure the faces of the actors as they deliver their lines - though, in a coup de cinema, when the other diving bell appears later in the movie it is painted black so as to make it clear, to anyone who was still watching, that This is not the same set! This is a different diving bell. Look! The ladder is a different colour!).




    They climb up the ladder in their flippers - an absurd sight worth the price of admission in itself - and swim upwards. The camera spends a lot of time at this point looking at the tightly rubber clad girls flapping about underwater and not a lot on the men, presumably this is an attempt by the directors part to distract the audience from wondering why, if they are 'several miles' underwater, they haven't all been crushed to a lifeless bloody pulp. Anyhoo, they all suddenly emerge in a cave! Light (Phosphorescence - which casts strong shadows) and air!. The boys go back to the diving bell and get the girls' shoes (I wish I was making this up). After wandering around the cave for a while they encounter a stock shot of a lizard and a hairy Ben Gunn type who has been living down there for 14 years after escaping from a sunken ship. (Honest!) It turns out there is no way out. They are trapped forever underground! The air that they are breathing is being belched out by a conveniently off-screen volcano. (Sic & WTF?) The boys make one last trip to salvage stuff from the diving bell just as:

    • The Other Diving bell (the one with the black ladder) just happens to be lowered to with a few feet of the first one.
    • The Old man tries to get a bit touchy feely with one of the women. "I like you best, let's kill the others."
    • The volcano explodes.

  22. Queen of the Amazons - this movie must have one of the highest ratios of stock to shot footage ever used in a movie. All the characters do for most of the running time is standing in a row and pretending to look at tigers, or standing looking out of a ship's portholes pretending to look at hippos, or, very bizarrely, at one point looking through a telescope at antelopes jumping around in slow motion. The story starts in India but moves quickly to Africa (presumably they ran out of Indian stock footage after a few shots of elephants and tigers) but did stay long enough to give me one of the best unintentional laughs I have had out of a movie for - oh, minutes. A 'native' is just about to impart vital information to our heroine when a luger slowly emerges from behind a curtain.


    Hapless Turban Wearing 'Native':

    "Listen... I tell you..."


    Slow pan to the pistol emerging from between the curtains - BLAM! Scream!
    Cut to:

    The mysterious shadow of the mysterious villain talking on the telephone.

    Mysterious Villain:

    A native has just been killed in room 207,
    you will notify the police at once!


    Quick establishing shot as hero enters the murder room. Four white people stare down at the floor. Presumably there is a dead, not-white person at their feet.

    Father in Law:

    It's a lucky thing no one heard that shot.


    Young Male hero:

    What happened here?


    Father in Law:

    I don't know but with all this native unrest if the police
    ever get wind of this there's going to be trouble. Their
    investigation may detain us here for a month.


    Noises off. He turns and pulls back the curtain.


    Father in Law:

    Oh, it's too late! - the natives are rioting already!

    Cut to:

    Footage from a more expensive film of several hundred turbanned extras wellying the shit out of each other with rubber swords..

  23. Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) - aka Blood of Frankenstein, Satan's Bloody Freaks, Teenage Dracula, The Blood Seekers, and The Revenge of Dracula. Another pudding of bewilderments 'directed' by Al Adamson who was reponsible for the incoherent Blood of Ghastly Horror (see April). Apparently some three years in the making Drac. Vs. Frank. mutated during its protracted shoot from being a biker movie starring Russ Tamblyn into a horror movie starring J. Carrol Naish, Lon Chaney Jr., and the director's wife. Both stalwart character actors now fallen on hard times, Naish and Chaney were very obviously ill, Naish confined to a wheelchair, reading his lines from idiot cards with his one good eye - his glass eye, refusing to demean itself stared fixedly ahead - and Chaney was clearly unwell too - he had a serious problems with alcohol - and was reduced to playing a grunting whimpering mute. Neither made another film after this. Dracula was played with consumate woodeness by someone called Zandor Vorkov in his first and penultimate screen appearence. He did though get to deliver the best / funniest line in the whole movie, though I really doubt it was intended to be anything but deadly serious.

    Drac. has, via the medium of long tedious exposition, convinced carnival freakshow proprieter Dr. Duryea (aka Dr. Frankenstein) that all his recent woes are the fault of a certain Dr. Beaumont (who we have yet to met on screen). With Dracula's help Dr. Duryea revives the original monster which, somehow, Dracula happens to have lying around*. About an hour's worth of flashing lights and arcing electricity later the Monster from its slab began to rise and suddenly, to my suprise...
    Cut to:

    EXT. STREET. NIGHT.

    A neon sign: 'HOSPITAL'. A man climbs into a car and drives away.

    Cut to:
    INT. CAR. NIGHT.

    The driver suddenly notices he has a passenger. He starts with 'suprise' and puts the emphasis on the wrong word when he says:.

    Dr. Beaumont:

    Who are you?

    Dracula:

    Keep driving, I will tell you where.

    Dr B has another unsuccessful go at getting his only line right.

    Dr. Beaumont:

    Who are you?.

    Dracula:

    (His voice booming with echoing menace.)
    I am Known as the Count of Darkness, The Lord
    of the Manor of Corpathia... turn here.


    Dr. Beaumont was played by Forrest J Ackerman. A brilliant piece of casting which guaranteed the producers free publicity beyond their wildest dreams because Forrest J Ackerman was, amongst other things, the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland, a magazine dear to the hearts of horror film geeks the world over.

    * Apparently, the original idea was to have The Frankenstein Monster turn into a vampire but they couldn't get the fangs to stay in the actor's mouth when he had the monster mask on, so they abandoned the idea.

  24. Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973) - Radiation and unspecified goo loving applied to naked women turns them into voracious lesbian Bee Girls who, like queen bees, only mate once, their male victim dying in exto/agony in the process. Lesbian Bee Girls can be easily spotted by their huge dark sunglasses, worn indoors and out, night and day; their propensity to fondle each other sensually at inappropriate moments (like their husbands' funerals); and their habit of emitting loud buzzing noises mid-bonk.
    Oh, you could also find out who was a Bee girl by pointing a "Photo-sensitive gamma count synthesiser" at them - but they can detect this and next thing you know you're likely to be getting the Bee treatment and being fondled by women wearing dark glasses, lab-coats and not a lot else. (Where do I get one?)

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