Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This month's slew of crud. I don't know... the crap I watch to keep myself sane.

  1. Logan's Run (1976) - That was long. And dull. I suspect the only reason this movie has lasted so long in people's affections - or at least in men of my generation's affections - is the scanty clothing worn (and taken off, on camera) by Jenny Agutter.

    As evidence I would like to submit this contribution submitted to the 'Goofs' for this movie on IMDb
    Continuity: When Jessica takes off her green tunic to put on the fur, she has very low-cut dark green underwear. Later when she slips on the ice running from Box, she is wearing lighter-colored underwear.
    Now there's a man who has worn out his rewind and slow-mo buttons. Yay! Thirty years later though, two hours does seem like an awfully a long time to sit through for a couple of brief flashes of Ms Agutter's boobs no matter what coloured tights she was wearing at the time.

  2. Flashman (1967) - Italian Batman rip off set for the most part in London where 'Lord Alexei Burman' dons a cheap Power Rangers-like costume and bashes bad guys and foils an evil gang armed with the secret of invisibility. Not very good at all, even by the standards of cheap Italian knock-offs. I'm off now to contribute to its goofs section - apparently in 1967 Holloway Prison housed men.

  3. Shorts - Pizza night!

  4. Terror! Il castello delle donne maledette (1974) - aka Dr. Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (and an awful lot of other titles). An deliriously incoherent mess that took all the usual Frankensteiny tropes and added a few more - then threw away all the ones that made any sense. The scene where the necrophiliac dwarf and the last remaining Neanderthal man wordlessly discover each other and make friends to a piece of music scored for a solo trombone full of custard pushed my What the Fuck am I Watching?! buttons in all the right places.

  5. Freakmaker (1974) - Oddly compelling bit of very cheap 70s horror. Directed, of all people, by Jack Cardiff. This was Cardiff's last directorial gig before he went back to doing what he did best - he was the cinematographer on Black Narcissus, The African Queen, and Conan the Destroyer among many others. Freakmaker (aka The Mutations) borrows from Tod Browning's Freaks and has a heavily made up Tom Baker as the owner of a touring freak show procuring healthy bodies for mad scientist Donald Pleasance's experiments. Pleasance is your standard misguided genius trying to create a hybrid race of plant/humans. His theory being that if we can synthesise our own food from sunlight, this will alleviate world hunger, put an end to war, and let the human race race achieve its 'full potential'. The fact that his most successful experiment to date looks like a green flip-top bin with tendrils and has to be fed on a diet of live rabbits isn't going to stop him, no sir. Not when there are conveniently available subjects like Julie Ege to experiment upon...

    (What's that you say? 'Just another cheap excuse for another gratuitous screen capture of a naked woman in a bath'? Would I ever...?)

    By an amazing coincidence there were naked women taking baths in Terror! Il castello delle donne maledette too. For years (from the days of the Lumiers I suspect) film-makers have struggled with the problem of coming up with decent excuses to get their leading actresses naked - in the seventies the most common solution was to have them take a bath. By an even more amazing coincidence this was the second film I watched tonight that starred Michael Dunn. He was the necrophiliac dwarf in the Spanish mess and the co-owner of the freak show in this one. When he was given something to get his teeth into, like he did here, he was a bloody good actor.

  6. The Maggie (1954) - Gentle minor Ealing comedy with a few really nice moments, my favourite was a tiny scene (one shot?) that took place in an office well away from the main action where a secretary in a few words and a gesture sketches in a whole new dimension to the central character.

  7. Gandahar ( 1988 ) - I came to Gandahar with fond childhood memories of director René Laloux's 1967 film La planète sauvage and was hoping for some real screen magic.
    I always try to learn something from every film I watch, this time I think I learnt that maybe sometimes the memory of a film is more vital,interesting and real than the film itself. I very much doubt if this is a new idea but I'm not going to put it to the test. I haven't seen La planète sauvage for many many years and having seen this I doubt if I ever will again, just in case I destroy those fond memories.

    I also learnt that if you read really really fast you can watch subtitled films on fast forward and not miss a sodding thing.

  8. Princess Warrior (1989) - I doubt if there is any way of watching Princess Warrior that will make it bearable. In a female dominated society (Bad movie alert! Awoooga! Awooooga!) on another planet the queen is dying. She has two daughters, one good (blonde and prone to mooning about in a mini-toga), one evil (brunette and prone to carrying weapons and wearing leather fetish gear - hang on, I'll turn that siren off).

    The dying queen anoints blondie as her successor. Swords are drawn as the evil daughter's faction stage an instant coup. Blonde is whisked to safety by her followers by shoving her into a handy matter transmitter (the only one on the planet) and sending her to some random destination to be rescued when the situation is normalised. The random destination turns out to be a over-lit bar in LA. As anyone travelling through the matter transmitter has to be naked (if they're not, they disperse into 'random ions') it's damn lucky that the bar is hosting a poorly-attended wet T-shirt contest and the newly-arrived, and totally naked, royal fugitive finds herself standing at the table with all the T-shirts on. Evil sister and two hench-women follow, as does much "Okay? Punch two three... kick two three... turn two three - you're supposed to hit me now..." fighting and the saddest, longest, most boringly repetitive excuse for a car chase put on the screen since Mack Sennet invented the idea. So far it is a toss-up between this and Alien Private Eye for my uncoveted 'Crappiest Film of The Year Award'. I think this one is winning, at least in Alien Private Eye you could hear the dialogue (you didn't want to but you could) here you could hardly make out vast swathes of dialogue for the bloody awful 'my mate's got a big synthesiser in his bedroom - he'll do it' music that was sloshing all over the place.

    Looking at the listing on IMDB I see that a couple of the alien girls were called 'Exzema' and 'Bulemia' - I suddenly think the makers thought they were making a comedy.

  9. Monsters vs Aliens (2009) - See giant a Giant Robot destroy San Francisco in Gosh Wow! beautifully rendered Dreamworks computer animation.

  10. Beginning of the End (1957) - See giant locusts eat Chicago! Or rather, watch Burt I Gordon film a few grasshoppers crawling around on some postcards of famous buildings intercut with Peter Graves (RIP) firing a Thomson submachine gun out of a window - and Morris Ankrum, as usual playing a general, barking orders down the telephone. I think Morris Ankrum must have owned his own uniform he appears so often in these sorts of movies as 'The General'. He probably turned up to auditions in it. "Yeah I can do a General, got my own suit too. Save you fifty bucks on the costume budget." Judging by the obvious lack of money on show here, that fifty bucks probably got him the part.

  11. Plan 9 From Outer Space - To christen my new (to me) DVD player which, after performing the arcane ritual of: opening the tray, pressing 9 on the handset four times, waiting two seconds, pressing it again and then closing the tray, is now a multi-region player. I grabbed the first region 1 DVD that came to hand. For months now, ever since the last decent DVD player we had died a mysterious death two thirds the way through Zathura: A Space Adventure, I have been unable to play anything but region 2 or region 0 discs. For some reason the replacement resisted every effort to turn it into anything other than a European DVD player. That's the last time I buy a £15 DVD player from Tesco's. £30 from Lidl? Now you're talking! - it even has a USB slot in the front which will speed up the download to watching time somewhat considerably....

  12. Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? (1969) - Any film that has Joan Collins playing a character called 'Polyester Poontang' has got to be worth a watch hasn't it? She sings too! Basically in this film we get to see Anthony Newly - he was big in the Sixties - have a mid-life crisis on a beach in Malta talking to the devil aka 'Good Time Eddy Filth', and an enigmatic godlike figure who tells an endless stream of not quite jokes. Newly and other characters are constantly breaking the fourth wall, stepping in and out of character, interacting with the film crew making the film we are watching and all sorts of other smart, clever stuff fashionable at the time. (The past may be a 'different country' but these days the Sixties are starting to look like a different planet.) The word Felliniesque (or something similar) is the word most often used to describe Merkin - once you've ignored the words 'crap', 'self indulgent' and 'twaddle' - and in a way it is... almost. It's clearly and unashamedly influenced by Fellini (he even gets an explicit name drop in the film) but it just doesn't work in the same way that Fellini's films do - and if I knew what the difference was I would be a rich and influential man. I suspect that part of the answer is that the film is in English. If this film had been in a language I did not understand and subtitled I suspect I would have come away from it with a different feeling. Maybe if I understood Italian I would hate Fellini's movies just as much as I hate Ken Russell's.

  13. Gremloids aka Hyperspace (1984) surprisingly funny low budget 'what if Star Wars met Close Encounters?' spoof. It drags in places but is often a lot funnier than a lot of better-made 'comedies'.

  14. Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) - Dr Jekyll, searching for The Elixir of Life (or even An Elixir of Life, I don't suppose he's that fussy really) finds himself transmogrifying into a woman with a penchant for wearing red and slaughtering prostitutes.
    Mixing the Jekyll and Hyde story with the Jack the Ripper story makes some kind of sense but adding Burke and Hare into the mix (60 years too late and in the wrong city) seems a bit odd. But then Hammer was never really one for historical accuracy - if you want to get really picky Jekyll's talk of creating a powerful anti-virus is pretty spectacular given that the first virus wasn't identified till 1898, ten years after the Whitechapel Murders (isn't Wikipedia wonderful? suddenly I'm an expert on the Victorian era).
    So, pretty routine late Hammer stuff, all swirling fog and dodgy cockney accents accents. There were some nice moments, the best of which was the first transformation. We've all seen the Jekyll>Hyde transformation before, the actor will clutch his throat as if he has just accidentally swallowed a bucket of phall, stagger under the weight of fifteen pints of Special Brew lager, fall out of shot behind convenient piece of furniture and emerge, after a suitably dramatic pause and a couple of hours spent in Make-up, covered in hair and with a lecherous gleam in the eye.
    Here he staggers across the set and slumps into a chair in front of a full length mirror, he lowers his head into his hands (the agony!) and the hand-held camera tilts down on him till his head and shoulders fill the screen, music music music, and the camera tilts up again, Jekll's reflection is hunched over in the mirror, slowly he looks up, (we see what he sees as the camera is now in an over the shoulder shot) he drops his hands from his face and there is the female Hyde staring back at him. Pretty impressive. I had a real 'Wait! How did they do that?' moment. Jekyll, played by Ralph Bates, hadn't been out of shot for the entire transformation and there were no cuts or cross-fades that would have allowed a substitution. Rerunning it a couple of times the trick became so bloody obvious and elegantly simple. Real Jonathan Creek stuff.
    In the few moments the mirror was out of shot and we were staring at the back of Jekyll's head and shoulders, the mirror was moved slightly, rotated a few degrees so that, when camera picked it up again, it wasn't showing the reflection of Jekyll sat in the chair as it had been before but the reflection of the actress playing Hyde, sat in an identical chair placed off to the cameraman's left. Clever stuff. So clever I guess this was the basis for the film's 'The sexual transformation of a man into a woman will actually take place before your very eyes!' tag-line. I wish the rest of the film had been that inventive.

  15. The Quiet Earth (1984) - 0ne of those films I can watch again and again. This time I was struck by the wonderfulness of the sound editing.

  16. Solar Crisis (1990) - Ho Hum, was that it? Japanese American co-production which tells the story of an international mission to lob a giant bomb into the sun thus stopping a Mega Flare from erupting and incinerating all life on earth. We know this is what is happening because the first third of the movie consists of people telling each other that this is what's going to happen. It got a bit boring after a while - even after learning that the flare turning the surface of the Earth to magma would only wipe out 95% of humanity - the other 5% presumably having had the foresight to hide in a fridge for the duration. Inevitably things go wrong - none of them were explained very well or generated much excitement. People got sweaty and shouted at each other a lot and the saboteur turned out to be the only crew member with a British accent (d'oh!). Meanwhile, back on Earth, there was another movie going on in which Charlton Heston searched for his grandson. Charlton Heston was playing the father of the International Mission to the Bomb Sun so the two story lines did have a slight relationship to each other but none that advanced either of them. On the whole, not good enough to be good but not bad enough to be good. The director had his name taken off the credits. Mind you, some of the shots of the space ships looked nice, they were very well done.

  17. Hellboy (2004) - Fun to start with - but boy did it go on. A good 10/20 minutes off the running time wouldn't have hurt a bit.

No comments:

Missing CD? Contact vendor

Free CD
Please take care
in removing from cover.

Copyright (c) 2004-2007 by me, Liam Baldwin. That's real copyright, not any 'creative commons' internet hippy type thing.

(this copyright notice stolen from

eXTReMe Tracker