Sunday, March 19, 2023

 Three months into '23 here's my 2022 film diary:



  1. Independence Day - for the first time and it was pretty much as I expected, a 1970's disaster movie with aliens. And, because it was a Roland Emmerich flick, a by-the-numbers improbable aircraft chase through a narrow canyon. One thing I was impressed by was the slick transitions. Getting from the end of one scene to the start of another in a movie (a 'transition') is always problematic; getting somewhere else in the narrative without leaving the audience too far behind is a skill and many a director and editor has floundered and fudged their way through by fading to black at the end of every scene or drifting the camera away from the actors and fading into an establishing shot somewhere else but here it was pretty much seamless. For instance, the president orders the military to "go to Def Con 3" : cut to yellow flashing light : pull back to reveal the flashing light is on a microwave from which Dave the science guy pulls a mug of coffee in his office in New York. I spent most of the movie watching stuff like that. The way the show moved from scene to scene was good.
  2. Eskimo Nell 1975 - one of my occasional, recalibrating the critical faculties, watch of a British Sex comedy. (It's like a setting a benchmark. Everything, no matter how shoddily-made, badly-acted, and underfunded, looks infinitely better afterwards.) Unfortunately for my recalibration exercise Eskimo Nell turned out to be quite a funny film. For one thing it has a story (which is rare for this genre), a pretentious, fresh out of filmschool director is given his only chance to direct by a porno producer. But first they have to raise the money; which they do from three different backers... promising each of them in turn a different version of the story. The writer of the film is a shy, penguin-obsessed virgin:

    "I can't do it! Look I am not capable of writing the first all-British, pornographic, Kung-fu, musical western - especially when three different girls and a drag queen all seem to think they are all playing the same part!"

    And that's before the producer absconds with all the money, leading our hapless heroes to have to find yet another source of funding - this time from a Moral Majority organisation which means they now have to make a fourth, family-friendly version.

    There is some seriously funny writing here with the scriptwriter obviously taking deeply felt swipes at the absurdities of the film business.

    The tyro director was mercilessly written earnestly telling the black actress, chained faced-down to the top of a canvas igloo while her bum was being powdered by a make up girl:
    "Now... I want you to remember your motivation - psychologically you're about to suffer the rigours of sexual and conceptual imperialism.... and so forth..." before waving over the guy with the vegetable marrow....

    Everyone on screen is having great fun hamming everything up in several different directions at once it's hard not to like it.

    And it's got Beth Porter in leather. I've had a crush on Beth Porter ever since Rock Follies.

    The film runs out of steam in the last few minutes when, because of the inevitable moment of mistaken identity, the Family Friendly version (which is due to get a royal charity premier) and the Hard Core Porn version get swapped. The final reel could have come from any unfunny British running-around-in-a-panic film from the era with our heroes arriving just too late to stop the first lines of dialogue playing on the screen in front of the queen:

    "Hello, Eskimo Nell. Want to f*ck?"
  3. Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988) - Straight to video fourquel. Set in California, shot in South Africa, and dubbed who knows where - the whole film was shot without sound and totally dubbed in post production - this cheapo mess managed to end up looking Italian. There were moments when I felt really sorry for the production designer. The number of times he must have sat watching the rushes cringing thinking: "Christ! if I'd known they were going to shoot it from that angle I would have made the back of it look like a real roof / wall / ceiling / stairs / whatever".
  4. Extraction (aka Extracted 2012) - interesting little SF movie. Lone researcher and assistant develop a way of accessing memories and determining if they are real or not. The people paying for the research want to use it to determine the guilt or innocence of crime suspects. The scientist reluctantly agrees to a trial run... the inevitable Something Goes Wrong and he gets stuck in the perp's head. He's trapped in this jailed junkie's memories while his own body lies in a coma. Four years later the perp starts to remember seeing the scientist in his memories in places he could not have been. They establish a dialogue. The hows and why of this are a leettle vague and handwavium but not enough to sink the film. There are twists and revelations which, for the most part, work. There are a leaps of - well that was lucky... and okay, movie, I'll let you off with that... but on the whole this is a movie that punches well above its weight and sidesteps the worst of the clichés of the genre - ferrinstance: the mysterious funder of the research is not your usual, off-the-peg Evil Corporation, or Mysterious Covert Black Ops Unit but a law enforcement official with political ambitions. He's not painted BAD but just sees a use for the tech that pushes ethical boundaries. He sees an opportunity to move the boundaries to accommodate it and make a name for himself. It's credible. He's not a villain. When the tech fails he drops it fast. Only to pick it up again when the problems are sorted and the extraction of the title achieved.

    There a few annoyances that I could have done without. The pointless, endless, hand-held reframing of just about every shot got tedious very quickly as did the standard low budget timeless, tuneless, ambient plink... plang.... one-note-at-a-time echo-chamber piano and gongy-thing 'music' which played under every scene smudging the lack of any real sound design.

    And it did contain one of my personal pet hates.

    Junkmonkey SF Movie Clichés to Avoid #36
    The GIANT SYRINGE. In any Hollywood SF movie any experimental drug, nano-technology or other plot device injected into our hero will be done by the medium of a Giant Silver Syringe with a pistol grip and a transparent bit so you can see a (usually greenish) liquid gurgling in it. Nine times out of ten this Giant Syringe will be taken out of a specially padded, metallic, briefcase case just before the procedure.

    BUT, having got those minor gripes out the way, it's a better and more intelligent film than a lot of vastly more expensive movies.
  5. My Dinner With Andre - a New York actor/play-write and a theatre director meet for a meal and talk. The theatre director endlessly goes on about his existential crisis and search for the meaning of just 'being'.... and the actor/play-write/audience substitute tries not to laugh/get angry/argue with the pompous prick as he prattles on and on and on like some condensed version of every self-obsessed artistic wanker you have ever had the unfortunate experience of meeting. It is strangely funny. Even strangely funnier is seeing the names Lloyd Kaufman (director of such delights as the Toxic Avenger movies and Class of Nuke 'Em High) as the Production Manager and a thanks to Troma Studios for use of facilities in the end credits.
  6. Jumanji 2: The Next Level - with the kids. Didn't enjoy it as much as I was expecting - too long since I had seen the first one and the film assumed a little more intimate knowledge of the backstory than I had readily to hand but there were some nice gags and Karen Gillan and Dwayne Johnson are both easy on the eye. Suffered from a real flapping-about not quite sure how to end the film ending which felt like it went on forever.
  7. Star Trek the Motion Picture - with number one son who devoured the original series and is liking TNG but has a strange aversion to watching full length movies (of any kind). So when he suggested we start to watch all the Star Trek films (in order) I jumped at the chance to get him watching 'real' movies at last. I did warn him beforehand that the first one was a ponderous bore.... and was proved right. See, dads DO know stuff. I've assured him they get the plot to long, slow, effects shot ratio sorted out for the next one.
  8. Star Trek 2 : The Wrath of Khan - with number one son. Which he agreed was much better than the 'motion' picture. (I haven't the heart to tell him it's all downhill from here.)
  9. The Banquet - Lavish, lush Chinese reworking of Hamlet with Hamlet sidelined and Gertrude taking centre stage.
  10. Funny Face - I adore Audrey Hepburn but by the gods! she was in some dreadful films
  11. Star Trek III - The Search for Spock - which turned out to be even more boringer than I remembered.
  12. Assassinaut - a group of four teenagers go to meet the president of earth on a space station orbiting an alien planet. There is an assassination attempt on the president. The space station is destroyed and the kids find themselves alone on the alien planet.
    I'm sure this movie made sense to someone at some point in its development but they somehow forgot to let the audience in on the act. Technically it was good, the acting, for the most part decent, but the backstory was all over the place and guess what! The implied lesbian (hard not to read the way she was playing the part as anything but) who fancied our lead turned out to be evil; then dead. I thought we were past that kind of s**t. Some people on the IMDb, where this film is, for the most part, slated, were annoyed by the slow pace and long arthouse-like staring into nowhere stuff. I didn't mind that. There was a strange vibe to the film that almost worked. And it would have worked too if there had been a coherent plot - or a plot SO disjointed it would tease you into figuring it out what was going on - but, as it was, this is a film that does some arty disjointed stuff just to get a bunch of kids into a (YAWN!) wandering around in the woods with a killer on the loose plot. It's so annoying when people go to all that effort and put all that energy into making something so fundamentally flawed in the script stage.
  13. Chronical 2076 (2020): In the near future all the plants have died and people are breathing 'synthetic oxygen' manufactured by a powerful corporation that also does time machine research. (I think in business this is known as 'synergy'.) But things are getting worse by the day. Humanity is doomed unless... The first message that comes through from the future demands they send a specific low-grade service engineer... who we find out a bit later in the movie is the son of the (dead before the start of the movie) lead scientist of the time travel research - oh and he has an unremovable dingus on his wrist his daddy put there before he disappeared... and a sick wife.

    You now have most of the information you need to reconstruct this movie in its entirety.

    Pretty predictable if you have read any time travel stories but not badly done for all that. The hero was a bit of a snivelling wimp but that made him more human and real and believable. Some of the SFX was pretty. Some of it was pretty good. And, as this was an Australian film, the woods our protagonists wander around in for a great chunk of the movie are lush and green and far more interesting than the deciduous woods most low budget American films' protagonists get to wander around in.

    The second film in a row in which the main character wanders around woodlands on an uninhabited planet, eats unknown fruit, and has hallucinations.
ABANDONED IN JANUARY - (Films I genuinely intended to watch all the way through... but couldn't manage.)

Bram Stoker's Legend Of The Mummy 2
What I don't understand is the business model behind so many bad films.

I can understand why sequels to successful films get made - especially if the above the line costs are low, with sets, costumes, rights etc all secured from the first film. (The Harry Potter series springs to mind.) And why people would, following Feinman's principle - "Milk the cow till it's dry, then make hamburgers and wallets", churn out sequel after sequel of things like Resident Evil till they make a loss - then stop; then somehow contrive to set that loss against residual sales of the previous films so you don't have to pay cast and crew who worked on them their points.... Movie accounting is such that many World-wide box office smash hits have, if you juggle the numbers (and they do), never made a profit when it comes to paying the actors' residuals. But how does something like Bram Stoker's Legend Of The Mummy 2 which I attempted to watch last night* get made? How?

By the by, the only connection I can see that this film has with Bram Stoker is that it has his name in the title. (It is not, for instance, included in his list of writer credits on IMDb when obscure shite-like things such as Filipino comedy Batman Fights Dracula (1967) does. Bram Stoker's Legend Of The Mummy 2 was originally called Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy.

I can see why the actors would take any part they can get; especially not very good actors at the start of their careers (for seven out of the nine credited players this was their first or second screen credit - for a couple it was also their last). Everyone has to start somewhere. Even well-connected from the start, and extremely good George Clooney has Return of the Killer Tomatoes! and an episode of Murder She Wrote on his CV.

The director (David DeCoteau, a Corman alumni) currently has 176 directorial notches on his bedpost including such classics as Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988), Beach Babes 2: Cave Girl Island (1995), My Stepbrother Is a Vampire!?! and A Talking Pony!?! (both 2013. In one year he directed two movies with '!?!' in the title; I bet Steven Spielberg can't say that.) So he's obviously doing it for the money. And doing it well enough to keep getting work. No one directs five or six feature films in a year as a hobby.

But where does the money come from? Who bought this Piece of s**t? [ (That's a genuine technical Hollywood term by the way: 'Piece of s**t'). For that matter who bought A Talking Pony!?!? Where does the money ultimately come from? Us the punters. We buy tickets, we buy DVDs, we buy subscription packages but I cannot see how enough people could have been conned into buying hard copies of this (it never got a cinema release) to make anyone a profit. And I can't really believe that there's an endless stream of people wanting to throw their money away making crud like this. Somewhere along the line things like Bram Stoker's Legend Of The Mummy 2 must make money for.... someone. Somehow. I wish I knew who they were because I've got some brilliant crap film ideas I'd like to pitch them.

The Other Guys - After half an hour I realised there was just no way that it was ever going to get funny. The 'jokes' (that I could see) the film thought were funny were just puerile shite. For the most part grown men bullying and insulting each other like 12 year old boys.

(*I was tired, all right?!)

  1. Batman Vs Two-Face (2017) - a straight to DVD animated movie which was a whole lot of fun. Camp and funny. Cleverly and lovingly riffing on all the old 1966 TV series jokes without going over the top. Some nice voice work. Adam West and William Shatner in one movie!
  2. Star Trek IV: The Whale One - Number One Son's favourite so far - certainly the most fun. Not sure that it made any more sense than any of the others but there were more genuinely funny jokes, some interesting visuals and, as #1 Son pointed, out the first Star Trek adversary which has no real understandable motive beyond simple curiosity.
  3. Infinitum: Subject Unknown - shot in the first Covid lockdown on an iPhone with a crew of two - one of whom doubled as most of the cast. From that point of view it is technically interesting and I can see why they did it - but the story would have struggled to fill a 20 minute short - stretched to an 86 minute feature length I'm sorry to say it became a bit of a drag.
  4. The Cell - apart from the costumes by Eiko Ishioka (which was the main reason I watched it) meh!
  5. The Great Silence - Violent Spaghetti Western with a hell of a downbeat ending: The Hero, The Girl and just about EVERYONE ELSE who appears in the film (apart from the bad guys) gets massacred. Klaus Kinski was the head bad guy and Ennio Morricone provided one of his his usual wonderful scores.
  6. Le guetteur (The Lookout) - I have some general rules of thumb about watching movies. One of them is "If X is involved I'll watch it at least once" X is variously Rutger Hauer, Eiko Ishoka, Ennio Morricone, Alan Arkin etc. Le guetteur starred Daniel Auteuil. I'll watch anything with Daniel Autuil in it at least once. I don't ever want to hear him 'sing' again but I find something strangely compelling about his screen presence. Le guetteur is a violent French slice of cops and robbers that starts off well but ends up wandering all over the place before coming to one of those unbelievable ambiguous endings which makes you wonder why you'd bothered with the previous 89 minutes. (It felt a lot longer).
  7. Cybertracker 2 - BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! KABLOOOM!! "Let's get outta here!"... BLAM! BLAM! BLAM "Let's go!" Blam! Kaboom! Blam Blam! "Let's get outa here!" Blam! Kaboom! BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! - for 90 minutes . Then it stopped. And everyone laughed like the end of an episode of Police Squad - in color! The End.
  8. The Skulls (2000) - I was prompted to BUY this (not just watch it but actively go and find a copy and pay money for it!) by a terrible review I read in an old copy of Empire Magazine which, among other harsh words, described it as "almost mesmerisingly bad", and "simply the most ferociously stupid movie that Hollywood has disgorged in a long time", with performances that are "of such stupefyingly lumber-like uselessness", and "uniformly dismal".

    They weren't wrong.

    I must get a grip on my masochistic movie watching urges and stop doing this to myself - but then so do a lot of others; because enough people went to see this shiny turd to make a 2002 sequel (inventively called Skulls 2) look like a good idea... And then a threequel!
  9. The Lady from Shanghai - My favourite Welle's film (until I watch Mr Arkadin again) shared with Number Two Daughter who dug it.
  10. The Curious Female (1971) - In the distant future where the world is run by a master computer and Los Angeles is an island, a bunch of semi-naked people in Star Trek fetish clothes sit around and illegally watch a film from the days when the world wasn't run by a master computer, and Los Angeles was still part of the mainland. The film they watch is a desperately unfunny, unsexy sex comedy about three girls losing their virginity. From time to time the film either breaks down (or there is a reel change; they only have one projector) and the future people get to comment on, and lecture each other about, the quaint and outmoded habits of their ancestors. A few interesting visuals - the obligatory for the era drugs trip sequence was pretty groovily done and the stripey, gobo lighting during one of the 'deflowering' sequences made it look like there were two Bridget Riley paintings having sex - which is an image I'll have in my head for a while. The woman in question played by the rather lovely Charlene Jones, realises she didn't like being humped by an insensitive Pop Art painting and finds happiness in the arms of a woman called Andie who drinks beer in bars with topless go-go dancers. Not recommended.
  11. City Beneath the Sea - awful Irwin Allen TV movie/pilot. Too dull and stupid to be any kind of funny.
  12. Star Trek V : The Final Frontier - oh dear.
  13. John Carpenter's Christine based on the Stephen King book. I was underwhelmed.
  14. Run, Lola, Run which has been on my 'I need to justify (to myself as well as the rest of the family) keeping these huge piles of DVDs cluttering up the place... by actually rewatching one occasionally' list for a while now. It is as good as I remember. I watched it with #2 Daughter - deliberately telling her nothing about it so the novel structure would come as a complete surprise to her.
  15. Star Trek VI: The Scooby-Doo One - when Kirk and the crew (literally) unmask the assassin at the end I really really really wanted him to scowl "And I wudda gotten away with it it too if it wasn't for you meddling starship captains...." A film SO full of holes and random plot rabbits pulled out of characters' arses it barely holds together from one scene to the next - and more grist to my theory that every SF film with a penal colony / prison planet in it is is automatically crap. By being crap. And having a prison planet in it.
  1. The Plank (1967) - well that was a vast disappointment. A short 50 minute, near silent, slapstick comedy about two guys trying to get a plank of wood from a builder's yard to their site. An obvious homage to the silent era comedies (Laurel and Hardy being an obvious inspiration) The Plank, which I had never seen before but had heard recommended from time to time over the years as being very funny, turns out to be a badly dated, unfunny chore to watch. Some parts have dated very badly indeed - the only Black characters in the film are bunch of dustbin men who barely register on screen before doing the whole wide-eyed scaredy "feets don't fail me now!" running-away shtick when someone emerges, zombie like, from the back of their truck after he falls in. And the sequence with the girl hitcher is just creepy horrible.
  2. Shadow of the Vampire - described on Wikipedia as a 'metafiction horror' film Shadow of the Vampire plays with the silly idea that the vampire in W F Murnau's Nostferatu wasn't played, like the history books tell us, by an actor called Max Schreck but by a real vampire. I'd seen it before but was a little disappointed; it looks a bit thin on a second viewing. That's not to say there is not some good stuff in there. Love the setting and ambience, and the re-enactments are great - John Malkovich and especially Willem Dafoe are really good. Nice to see Udo Kier (for whom I have a lot of time) get to do some proper acting for a change instead of just being Udo Kier getting paid to turn up and be Udo Kier for a bit. Though Carey Elwes (ditto) was wasted in a do-nothing part. But the show was really let down by a script that just doesn't... I don't know... do whatever a script is supposed to do to distract you from really big holes in the story, I guess. For instance, the 'suddenly everyone on the shoot was doing drugs' sequence came out of nowhere and why (apart from some strange misplaced notion of historical accuracy) did the Count's Heligoland sequences HAVE to be shot on the island of Heligoland when all they did when they got there was shoot one scene, on a closed set, inside a building? All his ship sequences had been faked on land or with doubles. Why did he have to get taken to an island to do something that could have been done much more easily on the original location? Just to get a shot of a coffin on the back of an aeroplane? Didn't believe it. Pity.
  3. Stoker - Park Chan-wook's first English language film. A lot of people have mentioned the obvious homages to Hitchcock - especially Shadow of a Doubt (one the characters in Stoker plays a similar role as the Uncle Charlie character in Shadow of a Doubt, and is himself called 'Uncle Charlie' which is a bit of a giveaway). But at the end of it, the amorality and ambiguity of all the characters (still alive at the end of the film) left me feeling that Park Chan-wook was as influenced by Claude Chabrol (another Hitchcock devotee) as much as Hitchcock himself.
  4. Raven (2012) - Edgar Allan Poe on the trail of a serial killer who has kidnapped Poe's fiance and, using Poe's stories as inspiration, is leaving a complex series of clues (and corpses) to her whereabouts. As stupendously crap as that sounds... the movie was even worse. It's a problem for actors playing real life historical characters. Especially when those real life historical characters are iconic and LOTS of peopl know what they looked like. Apparently Poe was quite short and some people thought it absurd that the very tall John Cusack would play him but that was the least of my problems with the film. (After all, short American actors play tall all the time. Why not the other way round?) What really annoyed me about the physical portrayal was Cusack's facial hair. Poe in real life had a chunky moustache but no beard. Certainly not the raffish, dark goatee that Cusack sported. I guess the production didn't pay him enough to shave it off. But there were all sorts of other howlingly WTF? awfulnesses. Poe has a (made up for the movie) pet racoon that appeared for one scene - presumably it was there because it would look good in the trailer?* Poe denys he had ever written about a sailor when his only novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket is about a boy who stows away aboard a whaler and becomes.... a sailor. The script that lurches awkwardly between modern Americanisms and 'period' dialogue. But the worst. THE worst moment for me was when Poe rails against our methodical, procedural police inspector who is diligently searching for clues in ships' records after a sailor is murdered to provide one of the killer's hints. That's all well and good. Plodding policework does in real life solve more crime than daring rooftop chases - but all that scene did was raise the question,"where was the plodding procedural policework after the second murder which emulated the famous descending blade from the Pit and the Pendulum?" Not a SINGLE second of screen time was spent on asking, "Who actually owns or rents this vast, empty, four-storey warehouse?", "Who constructed the bloody big, cast iron gear-wheeled device?" Some of those gear wheels were huge! They must have weighed close on to half a ton. Someone must have cast them, transported them, assembled them. All good solid potential leads to follow up I would have thought. Not in this stupid movie they weren't. I think we are, at the end, supposed to imagine that the whole thing was whittled up on his weekends by a weedy printer's clerk.

    And I still can't work out how Emily could see the wall, desks and books the other side of the cellar from where she was buried in the floor when she poked the hole trough the 'coffin'.

    And wasn't it convenient that there was a hammer lying around every time anyone needed to smash something open? Baltimore - Casually Discarded Hammer capitol of the world.

    It wasn't even so bad it was funny. Just bad.

    *Not that the racoon made it. I went and checked.
  5. Sexmission (1984) - I finally found the answer to a question that occasionally occurs to me (usually half way through some masochistic watching of some godawful 1970s British Sex comedy.) "Is there," I ask myself, "anything less erotic or funny than British sex comedies?" The answer is - Yes, Polish sex comedies. Sexmission is a Polish, science fiction, political satire, sex comedy and it misses of every count. Apart from the Polish bit. I think they got that right. They might have got some of the satire bit right too, thinking about it, but I suspect you would have to be a serious student of 1980's Polish history to even recognise any of the satirical jokes as jokes - let alone find them funny.

    Plot: Two men get themselves cryogenically frozen and wake up in a post-nuclear war, underground world, populated entirely by women. Many of whom take their clothes off.

    Possibly the only film to end with an extreme close-up, freeze frame of a newborn baby's penis which filled the screen as the end credits rolled. As I watched complex looking Polish names and their equally complex looking Polish job titles scroll past I realised somewhere in Poland there is a 38 year old man whose greatest claim to fame is that his penis filled the screen in the longest single shot of what turned out to be a very successful (in Poland at least) film. I wonder if he's on the Polish talk show circuit?
  6. A Fish Called Wanda - which I had seen before and, though I remember I'd found it mildly amusing. I also remember thinking I couldn't work out why people thought it was so funny. It wasn't. Hey-ho sometimes it happens that a film just misses. Happened again tonight.
  7. 8 Femmes (8 Women) - not sure that this was what I expected. 1950s . Eight women trapped in a house with a murdered husband/father/lover (various combinations of above). Secrets are revealed. Gorgeous frocks are worn. Seduction and attempted murder follow. Most of the action is confined to one room. Very set bound - it looked like a stage play expanded.... slightly. (Which a quick keek at IMDb confirms.) And why did they keep bursting into song at weird moments? I think I can see what was being attempted but I'm not sure it worked. Pedro Almodóvar would have nailed it.
  8. Rams (2015)- in a remote valley in Iceland, two bothers, sheep farmers working on the same land and living separate houses a couple of dozen meters apart, haven't talked to each other for 40 years. They communicate, when they have to, by messages delivered by one of their dogs. One of their rams gets scrapie (a horrible brain-rotting sheep disease) and every sheep in the valley has to be killed. The film is very slow. Very real. And sometimes very funny. One of those films where you had no idea where the story was going to go. There are no subplots, or romantic interest. Just two guys who hate each others guts facing up to the fact that their way of life is coming to an end. I liked it.

    There is, I have just discovered, an Australian remake. starring Sam Neill which from the look of the trailer has turned the story into an identikit feelgood 'quirky' comedy where everyone will know exactly how the story will end from the start of the second act.

  1. Robot Monster - MST3K - with Number One Son. There were giggles. "I am surrounded by idiots of my own creation!"
    Catching up. Over the last few days:
  2. Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking - BBC Made for TV starring Rupert Everett doing even less than usual. I only kept watching because of a standout performance by one of the younger members of the cast who I had not come across before and was giving much more to the show than the material deserved. 'She's got something' I thought. Perdita Weeks has chanked up a lot of credits on the IMDb since. .
  3. Star Trek : Generations - which was less awful than I remember.
  4. Florence Foster Jenkins - What a sweet film. Streep was wonderful.
  5. Summerland - A gentle, touching gay love story with a happy ending. A little overlong and Mills and Boonish but I will forgive it for having a happy ending and giving the world Penelope Wilton telling small children to bugger off.
  6. Memento - for the second time with number two daughter who loved it. Watching the end credits I spotted a name that was familiar. One of the drivers (not an on-screen stunt driver but one of the ' pick up mister Pearce at his hotel at 4am and take him to the location' drivers) was John 'Bud' Cardos, the director of the oddly brilliant William Shatner eco-disaster flick Kingdom of the Spiders. I love reading the end credits of movies. You discover all sorts of odd connections.
  7. Inception - with #2 Daughter who, sadly, didn't fall asleep half way through, as she sometimes does when we watch films, thus depriving me of the opportunity of tipping her chair and waking her up.
  8. Encounters in the Deep -(1979) - hypnotically dull Italian Spanish co-production set in the Bermuda Triangle in which nothing happens... then nothing happens again... and then again... and then, just in case you missed it the first couple of times, the whole cast diligently go through the motions of doing nothing again - again, sometimes underwater... and then the film just stops after an extremely boring sequence of nothing happening which may (or may not) be the climax of the show. Probably the least interesting film I have ever watched twice.
  9. Bulldog Drummond's Bride (1939) - slick, fast paced B-feature with not a single wasted second. Everything clips along merrily at a breathless pace. Another piece of Hollywood production-line film making. A churned out simple adventure yarn with familiar characters (there had been eight Bulldog Drummond films in the preceding two years) but somehow it's wonderfully fresh and lively. It looked like they were having fun.
  10. Bulldog Drummond Comes Back
  11. Bulldog Drummond Escapes - On and off over the last few years I have been buying DVDs on the slightly dodgy, and now defunct, 23rd Century label. I keep buying these things. I very rarely seem to get round to watching them. I'm not sure who 23rd Century were but for many years their DVDs cropped up in boot sales and markets all over the place. They had a very odd collection of titles most of them public domain but sometimes maybe not. In the early internet age they were one of the few ways that some of the titles could be found. There's something interestingly 'wrong' about them. Their transfers were often terrible - often obviously from VHS copies with visible tape roll and other interesting WTF?s . As far as I know no one has ever complied a list of all the titles they released (though I am working on it). One estimate I have seen on line suggests 150 titles but I know of at least 200.

    One of their releases was a collection of three Bulldog Drummond films which, having owned for several years, I finally got round to watching over the last couple of days - and they are terrific! Real rip-roaring, page-turning melodramas with some terrific writing and camped up knowingness.

    "This beehive of industrial skulduggery must quieten down sometime!" being a favourite line from Bulldog Drummond Escapes.

    I need more!
  12. Sweet Charity - Bob Fosse walks on WATER! I've loved Cabaret for years but never looked at anything else he'd done. I found a copy of his first feature Sweet Charity in our village swapshop shed. It's a real curate's egg. Some bits are well naff but others...

    I don't know who the girl in the white gloves is but I want to have her babies!
  13. Asteroid - an incredibly awful cliché-dense TV disaster movie (Why are ALL disaster movies set on, or just before, holiday weekends?) edited down from a three-part miniseries. There was only so much of it I could stand at any one sitting so I paced myself. Helping myself to slices of rich Hollywood hookum pudding when the mood took me over several days. Seriously there is not a single movie cliché they haven't managed to sidestep. It's a film made of some kind of scriptwriting Lego. "Hey, do you have the 'Dad! Turn on the TV!' and it's already tuned to the the relevant news channel piece' I need two of them"?)

    The most inspired piece of random jumbling of the blocks :

    Our shouty boss hero has just rescued two fireman and an injured civilian from their vehicular accident. Trying to outrun the raging torrent released by an asteroid fragment striking the HUGE dam just above the city. He drives frantically across town. The firemen sit in the back of the open truck with the civilian. "Head for the bridge!" shouts one. They're half-way across the bridge when a flood of matted water and shoddy model work wash over them. Frantic camerawork. Water is thrown over the actors. The flood subsides. Hero gets out of the cab. He walks round the back, to the firemen.

    Hero: "You OK?
    Fireman One: "Yeah. We Made it! We actually made it!"
    Hero (Nodding at the patient): "How is he?"
    Fireman Two: "He didn't make it"

    Hero actor does sad acting. (Why fireman actors aren't doing CPR acting is a question that the movie doesn't even bother to ask because as soon as we saw the dropped bottle of HARD LIQUOR the civilian driver actor was supposed to have been glugging, he was obviously never going to make it to the 'getting any lines' stage.)

    On paper that is a pretty good joke written in a standard "One.. Two.. Elephant!" format but it was played in deadly full on soap opera earnest. The whole film was like that. Every clichéd, hackneyed line delivered with glossy soap sincerity. It was like a Zucker Brothers parody of a disaster movie but with all the humour sucked out of it.

    "When you took over the agency, Jack, I was on the point of leaving... You wouldn't let me quit then; I'm sure as hell not going to let you quit now!"

    Needless to say our shouty hero rescues the sexy, lone mom, scientist's son from almost certain death from something precarious just before it fell into something deep and exploded - I must admit I watched the last 15 minutes on fast forward.

    When my retro gamer obsessed #1 son saw the DVD case he said - "'Asteroids'? They made a film of the Atari game?!" He was a little disappointed when I said no. But I wish they had. It would have been more amusing.
  14. Wonderwall (1968) - a dithery withdrawn older 'professor' obsessively spies on his 'with it', 'happening', 'swinging cat' neighbour couple - and calls for help when the girl attempts commit suicide. That is the entire plot. Lots of groovy lighting, and way-out fashion shoot, running around, dream sequences. Not a lot of dialogue - most of the major story points are delivered by psychedelic inter-title cards. The odd nice moment but mostly horribly creepy and pointless. Some of the music (by George Harrison of the Beatles) was interesting.
  15. Mad Max 2 : The Road Warrior - with number 2 daughter who had a big stupid grin on her face at the end of it. A genuinely exciting film. Some of the stunt work is terrifying.
  16. Bulldog Jack (1935) - Jack Hulbert (one of those baffling British stars of the 30s) plays a chap who imitates Bulldog Drummond when the real Bulldog Drummond is laid up in hospital. Fay Wray is the girl and Ralph Richardson is the villain. Both effortlessly steal the movie from the lead without breaking sweat.
  17. Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back - these films are so much fun.

    "Perhaps we can come to some agreement. If you'll stop kidnapping people from my house - I promise to stop breaking into yours. Otherwise this sort of thing could keep up all night!"

    I'm wondering if the books are written in a similar vein or it was a Hollywood makeover - I may invest a few quid in a couple of the books to find out.
  18. Wonder Woman 84 - I presented #2 daughter with a choice tonight: Wonder Woman 84or Cabaret . "How can I choose!" Don't make me choose. Such great legs! Both of them!"

    I wonder what it's like having straight kids.
  19. Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome - better than I remember but nowhere near as good as number 2.
  1. The Mummy - The 2017 damp squib kickstart to Universal's 'Dark Universe' concept in which all the Universal monsters live in the same shared universe. In this one, in addition to The Mummy, we met a Dr Henry Jekyll who was the head of a super-secret government agency dedicated to fighting evil and passing visual references to The Creature From the Black Lagoon and Dracula. And it was AWFUL! I am so glad I didn't have a drink in my hand or a mouthful of popcorn when the underwater zombie chase happened.
  2. Outpost 37 aka Alien Outpost aka Mankind's Last Stand - Men. Guns. Lots of explosions. More guns. Lots of swearing. Guns. "Go! Go! Go! Go!" Low budget (most of it went on Kaboom!) American vs Aliens 'found footagey' pseudo-documentary that had a paper thin plot but really floundered by relying on characters being 'interviewed' to tell us all the backstory stuff. The backstory stuff that would have been such common knowledge it wouldn't have needed explaining in the world the film was pretending to be a part of.
  3. Callan (1974)- movie version of the British TV show of the same name. Downbeat and low key. A sanctioned government assassin is bought out of retirement to kill an arms dealer - which he does. There aren't a lot of complications along the way and chunks have dated really badly but strangely compelling for all that. Spot the actor fans will have fun ticking off at least two actors in the speaking parts who appeared in Star Wars a couple of years later.
  4. Shaolin Soccer - silly fun.
  5. Les femmes de l'ombre Literally 'The Shadow Women' but released as Women Agents in the anglophone world. WW2. Female Special Operations Executive agent in occupied France have to extricate a British geologist from a German hospital before the Germans: A: Find out he's British and B: Figure out that he was probably taking samples of beach sand in preparation for the Allied Invasion which they were expecting... but not on beaches in Normandy. Needless to say things go wrong. Then get worse. Then even worse. I wanted so hard to like this film. I can't fault a performance, any single particular line of dialogue, or edit, or costume choice. I couldn't put my finger on what it was but it didn't quite gel for me. I could admire it, and it is an admirable film in many ways, but it didn't engage me as it should. it was only the next day I realised it was the plot. The Maguffin doesn't work. After the gathering of the team sequence, and the daring rescue sequence, comes the serious something goes wrong moment. The geologist, via the medium of a written note bound to be found at an inconvenient moment later in the story, tells them that the SS officer who interrogated him knew about part of the secret D-Day invasion plans. So our heroines are coerced into staying in France to kill him, instead of returning home with their mission done. The rest of the movie is them and the Maquis going to extraordinary lengths to do just this. The German high command, we have been told, are dismissive of this officer's ideas about a Normandy beach landing. It's not as if he had the only copy of this idea in his head and he has a loyal sidekick who shares his opinion.. There were plenty of other characters who had seen the evidence he'd gathered. Surely having the entire resistance movement doing their damnedest to eliminate him would raise their suspicions that perhaps, maybe, he was right?
  6. Les émotifs anonymes (aka Romantics Anonymous) (2010) - short (74 minutes) beautifully played, wonderfully shot, sweet, funny, polished gem of a feel-good romantic comedy. Two timid people fall in love. And they make some chocolates. That's about it plotwise. You know from the start how the film is going to end. There are very few complications, though it does contain what the director described as "the slowest car chase in cinema", and it's a sheer bloody joy to watch. I loved it.
  7. Mad Max - Number 2 Daughter and I finally get round to watching the first Mad Max film before we get round to finishing off by watching Fury Road (though I'm going to make her watch The Cars That Ate Paris first). Mad Max was very Australian. Structurally very odd.
  8. The Cars That Ate Paris (which just gets better every time I see it) with Daughter Number Two. I drive a shabby white van. I've told her if it passes its MOT this year she can paint it. I may live to regret this.
  9. Elle - I think I'm getting to really dislike Paul Verhoeven's films. I've not seen one I've enjoyed (and a couple I've loathed) but this one did have Isabelle Huppert giving a great performance (as she always does) to leaven the biscuit - but I didn't believe a single frame of it.
  10. Too Many Crooks (1959) - sub Ealing British farce with all the elements in place but missing that elusive ingredient X. Nice moments but it lumbered in places too.
  11. Out of Sight (1998) - I like the way Steven Soderbergh makes movies. I don't necessarily like the movies themselves but I like the way he makes them.
  12. The Happiness of the Katakuris - which was 2 hours of Miike Takashi throwing sh*t at the screen and hoping something stuck. Not the worst of his films I have seen. I didn't dislike it as much as his Visitor Q (mind you I don't think I have I have actively hated any film quite as much as I hated Visitor Q ) but I doubt if I will ever want to watch any of this one again.


  1. Attack of the Giant Leeches(MST3K)
  2. Horror of Party Beach (MST3K) both with Number One Son.
  3. Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory) - Almodóvar. Autobiographical (even more than usual) slow elegiac wonderful. Banderas was beautiful. A hell of a performance. Loved it. Loved it.
  4. The Colony (2013) - after an okay (but not great) start with a bit of scene-setting world building showing us a tiny group of survivors huddled against a new (man made) ice age, the film rapidly sinks into the usual 'running around corridors as zombies/monsters/cannibals kill the cast members one by one'.

    An expedition leaves their sanctuary to find out what happened to another group of survivors sending a distress signal.

    I should have given up on the movie at the moment when, crossing a huge, crumbling road bridge, our heroes took a running jump and leapt across a barely leapable hole in the road surface - trusting that the chunk of road they were about to land on wasn't going to crumble and fall into the abyss like the bits next to it obviously had. They only jumped across because they were action movie characters. Real people would have edged across on the HUGE, clearly visible on screen, steel beam holding the road surface up - the one next to the heavy metal crash barrier that would have been easy to hold onto or belay off.

    I should have given up when beating a hasty retreat from the (as yet unseen) cannibal hoard our heroes quickly ransack the storage cupboard they are holed up in and happen to find a whole drawer full of dynamite tied in neat bundles with their fuses all tied up together.

    I really should have given up on the movie when, out of ammunition, our rearguard hero (Laurence Fishbourne doing his usual substantial and workmanlike job) wrests loose the metal ladder that leads up to the only exit he is defending and throws it down to ground just before the cannibal hoard arrive. Ha! That will thwart them! He was right. None of the cannibal hoard thought, "How we gonna get up there? Hey look! There's a ladder! Give us a hand lads!" No, once the ladder had disappeared out of the frame line it disappeared from the movie, and presumably the consciousness of anyone dumb enough to take the film seriously. I watched most of the rest of the film on Fast Forward stopping only for the dialogue (of which there was not a lot, and was, for the most part, totally predictable).

    Towards the end, as you would expect, there was a crawling along stupidly huge air-ducts sequence.
  5. After the Sunset - one of those harmless undemanding Buddy/heist/romantic comedies with a few nicely timed jokes.
  6. Valdez is Coming - 1970 American post-Spaghetti/Paella Western in which blue-eyed, blond Burt Lancaster played a Mexican...

    Um... Okay....

    Once I'd got over that hurdle it turned out to be pretty good. There was lots of riding around very familiar bit of Almeria and one of those great endings that film-makers are too scared to do any more. Basically the film ends before the climactic shoot out between the hero and the villain. It just stops with them facing each other the villain finally abandoned by his goons and facing up to his adversary alone. Long shot freeze frame. End titles. Loved it.
  7. Invasion of the Neptune Men (MST3K) - with the kids. There was much hilarity and ice cream
  8. Devils of Darkness (1965) - sub Hammer studio-bound British horror nonsense which wobbled about between being a vampire movie and a Dennis Wheatly type satanism movie without making its mind up which it wanted to be and failed to be at all interesting in either direction. There was something achingly familiar about every set up too. It looked like it was shot in standing sets in Pinewood studios . The day after this crew was out Diana Rigg as Mrs Peel would be wandering around in the same sets on the trail of some eccentric megalomaniac. There was one moment tough that I will remember. Nothing special really to look at but a beautifully timed edit. One character walks out one of those double-hinged doors that swing both ways (oeeer! missus!). He exits. The door swings back and just as the door swings back into the room, as we know it's going to - there is a cut to a different character entering a different location through a different door. The action matches perfectly. The editor must have been pleased as punch when he got that one right.
  9. Prototype (1983) - a far far above average TV Movie . I would even go so far as to describe this as a little, forgotten gem. I'm very fond of emerging sentience, "where's do you draw the the line between 'humanoid machine' and 'person'?" stories . Ex_Machina, Ghost in the Machine, Blade Runner, The Machine etc. But rarely have I seen it played out so lightly and carefully as this. There are, no handguns, no explosions, very little in the way of special effects, characters that behave in character all the way through and don't do randomly stupid things just to keep the plot going. The central performances are strong. It works. Grown up SF.
  10. The Crimson Pirate with the kids - Number Two Daughter wanted to watch a Pirate Movie.
  11. Kung Fu Hustle with Number Two Daughter who really liked Shaolin Soccer but agrees that this one is better.
  12. Zombie Lake (Le lac des morts vivants) 1981 - dear mother of the gods that was dreadful. A very very long painful 83 minutes. co-written by Jess Franco and co-directed by Jean Rollin it managed to combine the worst elements of both and produce probably the woodenestly acted, least coherent , most boring zombie movie I think I have seen.

    Just outside a small village in France a lake "Lake of the Dammed" is strangely attractive to nubile young women who have a seemingly irresistible urge to take all their clothes off and splash about in it. Then after an interminable time spent with the camera underwater, getting as many crotch shots as the market will bear, the Nazi Zombies living at the bottom of the lake eat them. The Nazi Zombies, the victims of a Maquis ambush, invade the village. Then they go back to the lake, Then they invade the village again, and then go back to the lake, and then they invade the village again... and by now everyone is very familiar with the same bits of footage used over and over again. Eventually the pre-teen daughter of one of the zombies (I kid you not) gets a bucket of blood and lures them all to the old mill where she was conceived - before her dad was machine gunned and zombified obviously. (Once she's safely out of the way the villagers wheel in their home made flame-thrower and incinerate the lot.) The end.

    Highlights included (but not limited to):
    • Spotting the camera operator in a mirror - I think he had just reframed the hand held shot to avoid showing us any more of the lighting cables he'd just been showing us and didn't notice he'd managed to include himself in the picture .
    • A huge piece of blackout material suddenly appearing across another mirror in the same scene - presumably there to avoid showing us the lights the cables were attached to.
    • A background extra in one dramatic scene catching someone else's eye and having a fit of the giggles.
    • People leaving a building, rushing across the village, and arriving at exactly the same building which was now, supposedly, somewhere completely different.
    • And more shots of under-rehearsed people standing about uneasily being not quite sure what to do than I thought humanly possible to cram into 80+ minutes.

    Another one for the big book of 1001 Films No One Should Have to Watch Beyond the Opening Credits.
  13. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery - At some point while watching this I came to the realisation I had seen it before. I wonder if I thought it at all funny last time? What a tedious bore. The originals it was 'spoofing' were far funnier - and a lot more inventive.

Abandoned in June:

Betty Blue. I was not impressed and hated just about every character who appeared. Halfway through I needed a pee so I paused it. On the way back from the bathroom I stopped and looked to see if Betty Blue was listed in the 1001 Films You Must See Before You Die book.

It isn't.

So I won't.

Tokyo Gore Police - two minutes in I had firmly formed the idea that it was crap. Three minutes in I'd come to the conclusion it was also the wrong sort of crap. That's as far as I got. I suspect the director was 15 and had been given a film crew for Christmas.

  1. Frida (2002) - sometimes you watch a film and realise this is the role the actor had been born to play. Salma Hayek was born to play Frida Kahlo. She is wonderful. A lot of films about artists are painful to sit through as they oversell the tortured genius theme - leaving the audience thinking, 'oh just shut your whining and get a job'. Frida doesn't. Frida's torture is physical; the art is her way of coping. For a film about a famous and iconic woman artist, probably the most famous, or at least instantly recognised, in the world it really scores badly on the Bechdel test - nearly every conversation between two women in this film is about Diego Riviera.

    I watched it with my Number Two Daughter* and only noticed the next day that I didn't suffer any bouts of the squirm when the sex scenes played. (Straight or same sex.) Any parent who has watched a film with 'naughty bits' in while sat next to their kids will know what I mean by 'the squirm'.

    This time? Nada.

    Possible reasons:
    A lot of the film dealt with Frida's body and her relationship with it. 'This Judas of a body' she calls it late in the film. The sex she has is important in showing that relationship rather than any relationship with the people she beds.

    The film was directed by a woman. The film was totally lacking in male gaze.

    *Who apparently, likes the paintings of that other Mexican painter, Leonora Carrington better - amazing what you find out about people you know really well when you watch films together.
  2. Arabian Adventure (1979)- pale imitation of The Thief of Baghdad directed by Kevin Connor (Warlords of Atlantis etc.) Some interesting filters and the odd nice moment but for the most part pretty dull stuff. Emma Samms' tummy was nice.
  3. Revenge of the Pink Panther - nowhere near as funny as it used to be but Number One Son enjoyed it.
  4. Black Box (2020) - I started to watch Black Box a while back on some Free to Air bit of Amazon. But didn't get to the end for some reason and then couldn't find it again. Last week I came across a DVD copy in a charity shop for 50p. It was made in 2020 and less than two years later is already in the 'three for a quid' bin at my local charity shop? When will I ever learn?

    The first part, the part I saw on Amazon, is pretty okay. A valiant effort to make a low (zero) budget movie with an intriguing idea. A man wakes up in a tumbling escape pod with no memory of how he got there and a gaping wound in his side. He calls for help and the ground crew try to talk him back down to Earth. Good start but sadly the film is let down by an vastly overly wordy script - I have heard radio plays with less dialogue. And more 'erm... whoever wrote this doesn't read much SF do they?' moments than any SF film can reasonably bear. The technobabble is totally undercooked, trying, I guess, for some sort of realism but just displaying ignorance all round. The defining race against time element of the 'will he won't he make it ?' is whether there is enough charge in the ship's battery. The implication is that the ship will stop if the battery goes flat. Not that the telemetry will die, or any number of systems will fail, but somehow the engines will stop. There is no Apollo 13 like attempt to jury rig a way of recharging this all important battery or any attempt by ground control to do anything other than than talk to the pilot and take his word for what's happening. The film doesn't even bother going through the motions of telling us any data link between the pod and mission control is buggered in any way. It just simply doesn't exist.

    Technically the film looks good. For the money they had, the designers did a pretty good job of making the small, enclosed, escape pod set that, I presume, could be dismantled into sections to enable the camera to get in from different angles. The zero G bits aren't embarrassingly awful. Initially the relationship between the main protagonist and the flight control girl is interesting. But after a while the plot holes, and the 'wait! That doesn't make sense!' moments just kept on coming and by the end I really was itching for it to be over. I hope the long list of people listed as 'crowdunders' (sic) on the end credits felt their money was well spent.

    For the rest of us worth watching only as a useful exercise in spotting 'How not to do things'. For-instance if your central character is going to be on screen for 95+% of the film - it might be a good idea to hire someone with some sort of charisma and screen presence. Or maybe ask yourself, if the exploding mining operation is taking place in the Asteroid Belt what, realistically, are the chances that an amateur astronomer on Earth would have a telescope powerful enough to make out and identify individual ships attached to the exploding mining station? (Though, in fairness, the film didn't actually say the astronomer was on Earth, the astronomer could have been on the Moon, or Mars or an orbital - but if that's the case, and there are populations large enough to support amateur astronomers scattered around the Solar System, why are the escape pods heading all the way from the Asteroid Belt to Earth instead of some nearer habitation? I don't think the writer realises just how BIG the space between planets is. And as for putting on a balaclava, wrapping duct tape around your head, and jumping across several thousand meters of interplanetary vacuum towards a spinning target... and expecting the audience to heave a sigh of relief when a jump cut cheats him inside? Forget it.
  5. The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) - stupendously unfunny Doris Day romantic comedy with slight SFish flavour; the male in the romantic pair (played by Rod Taylor) has invented a kind of electronic anti-gravity and the Russians want 'the formula'. The one vaguely funny joke in the whole sad 90+ minutes was, of all people, delivered by Dom De Luise .

    "Two questions!"
    (Looks at folded piece of paper in his hand)
    "Who are you? and Who are you?"
    (Turns over piece of paper)
    "...working for?"

    Dreadful music. Everything was Micky Moused to death including a brief snippet of the Man From Uncle theme to reassure the less attentive members of the audience that yes, that really is Robert Vaughn (in Napoleon Solo mode) propping up the bar for a few wordless, "is that...?" gag frames.

    The only time Ms Day came alive was during a short scene (which looks like it may well not have been scripted but added during the shoot) in which she, and her on screen dad sit around and sing a couple of songs. They fluff lines and pick up and carry on. It has an improvisational feel totally at odds with the rest of the film. For a few minutes the people on screen look as if they are actually having fun.

  6. Skyline - Dreadful. A real pile of poo. Seriously not good. Aliens ships hover over Los Angeles and hoover up people. Our 'heroes' are arseholes. When people spoke they spoke in short sentences. The dialogue was all in very short sentences. With gaps in between. The thing the previous person said was often not responded to in any meaningful way. If at all. Then jumbling them up. As if the dialogue had been written by cutting lines from other films.

    It was s**t. There was a sequel. It will be s**t too. I own a copy. I will watch the sequel.

    Obvious 'influences' I thought about while watching: the harvesting aliens were The Wraith from Stargate Atlantis driving the semi-organic looking robots from the Matrix movies which arrived in the Bloody Big Ships with Huge Shadows we have grown to know and love from V, Independence Day, Childhood's End etc..

    The structure was odd. After an opening of people waking up in the middle of the night with bright lights outside the window and one of them getting sucked out and everyone being terrified, the film rewinds to the previous day to introduce us to these characters - and they're all twenty-something dicks. I hated every single one of them. One of them announces she is pregnant. (As if anyone needed telling because that had been telegraphed in the pre-flashback sequence by her getting out of bed and sticking her head down the bog.) Two are having an affair. And then, after what seems like an eternity in the company of these people , we are back to where the film started without having really learned anything about anything. When the first half of the film is padded out to such an extent you know the script is in trouble. The film also had that cheap 1950's morality that I thought 'Hollywood' was growing out of. Cheap laughs at gay characters. The 'slut' - she is referred to as that in the film - being one of the first to die - followed by the only black character. (The fact that he was the most believable and sympathetic character, played by the best actor in the film didn't help the proceedings.) They even managed to squeeze in 'the character getting themselves killed trying to rescue the pet' moment - happily (for once) the pet got eaten too which was probably the only novel moment in the whole script. (Sadly, the little yapping dog didn't get eaten on screen. It would have been a much better film if it had.)
  7. Beat the Devil - I just wanted something to keep me sat still for 90 minutes and not tax my poor old brain too much so I picked something out of the Safe Old Movies shelf (I.E. nothing likely to have too much sex and violence in case the kids walk in) of my To Be Watched shelves. Beat the Devil , starring Humphrey Bogart and directed by John Huston, turned out to be a lot better than I was expecting. Very odd in places and very funny too.
  8. Cat Women of the Moon - for the umpteenth time but for the first time with Number One Son who thought it was hilarious.
  9. The Revenge of Dr X (1970) - I have a phenomenally high tolerance level for bad movies (as superpowers go it's pretty s**t but you take what you're given in this life) but The Revenge of Dr X really stretched my endurance to the limits. It gets off to an incredibly bad start. Two people stood around in a room with their backs to the camera looking at a picture of Cape Canaveral stuck to the studio wall just outside the set's window. They take it turns to mangle their lines:

    "Liftoff to countdown now at three hours and sixteen minutes!" being the best.

    "Could be? Could be? There is no room for 'could be's in this project! (pulls something from his pocket ) See this? - A mathematical error the width of this small coin in space could represent the distance between New York and Tokyo! The (indistinguishable) dimensions of space it could throw our rocket a million miles of its targets! Dr Stanley, 'could be's I cannot use!"

    Our grumpy, unappealing, unsympathetic lead is convinced to take a holiday - it will be months before his space probe arrives at... wherever it is it is going - no one bothers to tell us. He drives somewhere and digs up a Venus Fly-trap then takes it to Japan where, with a not unattractive lousy actress as an assistant, holes up in an abandoned hotel (which has a Christian graveyard in the garden) and grafts the Fly-trap with a carnivorous chunk of seaweed he gathers with the help of a bunch of topless women. When not being incredibly rude and obnoxious to anyone within shouting distance, the doctor expounds his incredibly loopy theory that humans are descended from plants.

    When there is no one around to be rude and obnoxious to or shout at, the doctor is rude to and shouts at his 'creation' instead, "The soil was your mother - the lightning will be your FATHER!" (The scriptwriters were so chuffed with this line they used it at least two more times)

    It takes a whole HOUR before the doctor's creation is revealed to the audience and then it just stands around in a pot getting feebler and feebler... till it eats a convenient puppy! (That's two movies this week with Monsters eating dogs!) and then only gets into full Frankenstein rampage mode for a few brief incoherent minutes as it meanders about a hitherto unmentioned nearby village. In the final few moments of the movie the maddened doctor - who, inexplicably, is somehow himself turning into a carnivorous plant - uses a goat to lure the monster up the side of, and then into, a conveniently active volcano and they both die off screen. The goat survived. So did I. (Just.)

    The music was AWFUL!

    You can watch the whole thing here:

    (The topless women turn up around the 48 minute mark.)
    Daughter Number two and I have an Animated Batman double bill with the okay, but slightly disappointing,
  10. Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (2018) which has a Victorian Batman battling Jack the Ripper
    and the frankly hysterically funny
  11. Batman vs. Two-Face (2017 ) which has Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar reprising their 60s TV roles as Batman, Robin, and Catwoman - joined by William Shatner as Harvey Dent.

    Checking my facts (and spelling) on Wikipedia afterwards I spotted another joke I'd missed while watching. In the film a female public defender, Lucilee Diamond, tells the imprisoned Catwoman that she hasn't got parole. She is then knocked out. Catwoman swaps clothes with her and makes her escape from jail. The public defender wakes up, tries to raise the alarm but is not believed. She turns back into the cell and catches sight of herself in a full length mirror, decides she looks pretty darn sexy in the leather Catwoman costume and preens. It's a funny visual gag. It's funnier when you realise that public defender Lucilee Diamond is played by Lee Meriwether - who replaced the TV show's Julie Newmar as Catwoman in the 1966 movie.
  12. Okay. This a weird one.
    Infestation (2020) - a short, 77 minute - though it felt longer - vague wander into Invasion of the Body Snatchers / Santaroga Barrier territory in which a UFO-sceptic radio producer fitfully ambles into the slow realisation that the world is being taken over by somethings from somewhere else... Maybe...
    Then the film stops.
    End credits roll.
    Then it starts again for a moment...
    And then stops again.

    Looking at IMDb I see that Infestation appears originally to have been called 'Sound' or 'Waves', or 'Soundwaves' and is described (by its makers) as "A split feature film that follows the story of two separate individuals whose lives are turned upside down by an ominous sound from the sky."The film I just watched only followed one character - everything we see in the film is seen through her perception of events. (Apart from the short scene in the end credits with a character we haven't seen before* talks straight to camera.) There are photos on IMDb that show scenes that weren't in the movie I just watched so I'm presuming the other half of the film has been shot - but never completed or released. I suspect the idea was that the films could be watched in any order but how this would work with the unresolved ending that this film ends with I have no idea. Infestation was just about good enough to make me want to see the other half and find out what the hell the film makers thought they were trying to do.

    There were interesting moments, and the lead was credible- but I can't honestly recommend it.

    *Though he might have been one of the bodies our radio producer protagonist walks past at the end of the film. It's the same location.
  13. Nine Queens (original title Nueve reinas 2002)
    Two small time Argentinian con men meet cute when one of them rescues the other from a petty scam gone wrong. They team up for the day and then the chance of a lifetime falls into their laps. Like most con/scam films one is never sure who is conning whom and everyone's motives are always shifting (or appearing to) but, as always, nothing is quite as it seems until the end and there are plenty of twists before you get there. Some of the twists, it has to be said, stretched my credulity somewhat - are we to assume, for instance, that these small time scammers faked the whole bank collapse, or they somehow knew it was coming and worked it into their scheme? It zipped past and was fairly entertaining.
  14. Cosmic Sin (2021) - well that was.... crap. Which is a pity because, somewhere in the history of the genesis of this movie someone did, at some point, have an idea that there were some kind of moral and philosophical questions to be answered about what to do when Humans and Aliens first meet.

    And then at some point during the writing of the film 98% of it got thrown out and they shoved in lots of running around and shooting and standing about not really saying anything (LOTS of that) and more shooting and then then let's do a weird dreamy bit, and then some more shooting and then Oh, I know a bar fight! and then... Oh, how about one of them promises a cute little girl everything will be all right?
    "What cute little girl? There's no cute little girl."
    "She's one of the people hiding out in the Orbital Cannon place."
    "What? Wait.... I thought this planet was totally uninhabited! apart from the two miners who got infected by the aliens in the opening sequence!"
    "Hell, that was twenty pages ago, you think anyone is gonna remember that far back in the story!"
    "Guess not."
    "Hey guys! How's the script going?"
    "Ok. We got most the boxes on the Big Book of Crap Movie Cliche Bingo spreadsheet filled in."
    "Good... well I got some GREAT News. We got Bruce Willis for next Tuesday."
    "Wow! That's great! For how long?"
    "Next Tuesday. That's it. Don't give him any long lines and my cousin Ralph's gonna shave his head so we can do all the reverse shots over his shoulder that'll save a few hours...".

    After a while I gave up trying to work out what I thought the film makers thought they were trying to do. It made no sense whatsoever. Zero.
  15. Blake of Scotland Yard an utterly bewildering 72 minutes spent watching people skulking in doorways, opening secret panels. sneaking down secret tunnels, opening more secret doors and then peeking on someone sneaking out of wherever that was, before sneaking back again - and being spotted sneaking back and being sneakily followed by other people. 90% of the time I had no idea who was sneaking where. But I had an idea why. Early on in the film some of these sneaking people had stolen The Death Ray That Was Going to End All Wars by Making Armies and Navies Obsolete. The inventors of The Death Ray That Was Going to End All Wars by Making Armies and Navies Obsolete somehow deduce (no idea how) that the stealers were hanging out in a dingy dive in Paris. So they all trooped off to Paris to sneak around the dingy dive for a couple of reels before coming back to London and sneaking about in a dingy boarding house in the East End of London. Most of the running time of this film was of people walking, sneaking, and lurking up and down the same three corridors with precious little explanation of who why or what was going on. Hell it took me till nearly the end of the movie to work out which of our small bunch of hero sneakers was Blake of Scotland Yard! I managed to deduce it wasn't the girl and the one called 'Doctor' something wasn't him but that still left me three or four characters to chose from. In the end though there's a Scooby Doo moment and one of the innumerable characters who had been less good at sneaking was unmasked as The Scorpion! And everyone was happy that was all over.

    Halfway through watching it I had the thinks that this looked awfully like one of those 12 part Saturday afternoon kids' matinee serials chopped into bite sized pieces and shoved in a tin. Turns out I was right. The serial ran for 303 minutes. The film was 72 minutes. You would have thought whoever was given the job of cutting it down would have left some of the exposition in.
Unfinished in July
From Dusk Till Dawn - a 'horror comedy' produced by the combined talents of my two least favourite working film directors (Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino). I'm always open to the possibility that I am wrong and that I have been missing something obvious in people's work, so do keep trying with as open a mind as possible. (And this one had Selma Hayek in it. How bad could it really be? ) I baled after the opening scene. Loathed it. I fast forwarded to Hayek's entry - gods! that woman has beautiful hips! and then tossed it in the Back to the Charity Shop pile.

  1. Anonymous (2011) - once I'd got past the nagging wondering how director Roland Emmerich would work in his signature helicopter chase through a canyon sequence into a film set in Elizabethan England I really quite enjoyed this. The central idea is the old idea that the plays we know as Shakespeare's were in fact written by Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford and how this came about. I'm sure the film plays fast and lose with history - but then 'Shakespeare' wasn't one to let historical accuracy stand in the way of a good story - and it looks gorgeous, with some top talent doing a great job. The structure left me behind from time to time as we had flashbacks within flashbacks and then "Forty Years Earlier" captions which left me scrabbling to catch up from time to time - especially earlier in the show when I was really floundering trying to remember who was who and who grew up to be whom - but by the end I was on top of it.
  2. Occupation (2018) - Aliens invade Australia! Well, they invade the rest of the world too but, for a change, we get to watch heroic Australians save the human race from extinction instead of Americans. Overlong and a little confused in the third act - what was the McGuffin of Doom why was it so badly guarded in the abandoned factory? But it had its moments. Someone in production design, and whoever was in charge of wrangling the background artists, needs to get an award for creating a credible-looking makeshift encampment. (Though from what I've seen of rural Australia the whack it together out of a couple of sheets of corrugated iron and an old bed end school of building is the local vernacular architecture.) Some nice - if predictable - character development. But it could have done with a serious trimming during the action sequences which do take up a stupidly large proportion of screen time.
  3. Timechaser (MST3K) - not one of the show's best but they didn't really have a lot to work with. I spent a lot of my time watching the director crossing the line and - for the first time that I can recall (this may be unique in the annals of movie history) crossing the line in a face to face dialogue between an actor having a conversation with himself. Going back in time, the lead meets himself and, with the standard double in the same costume with his back to the camera setup, has some meaningful OTS conversation with himself. Only the director, who obviously has no idea of the concept of the Line of Action makes a confusing situation worse by flip flopping across the line between, shots making a bit difficult to keep track of which version of the bad actor is actually talking at any moment.
  4. The Crawling Eye (aka The Trollenberg Terror) - which was even more considerably crapper than I remember Joel and the MST3K bots just about made it just about watchable for #1 Son and myself on a cold, wet Sunday afternoon.
  5. Project Ithaca (2019) - a lowish budget Canadian SF film which had some almost interesting ideas going on in it but dropped the ball by nailing its characters down - almost literally - so all they could do was talk. And talk they did. Endlessly. Sometimes they talked in flashbacks and sometimes in "where is this place?" sequences that took place in virtual realities (inside people's heads). In the end one of the characters realised it was the the last act of the movie, decided she had superpowers after all, and took everyone back in time. The end. I've seen worse. But I have seen a lot that were better.
  6. Now You See Me(2013) - Meh! One of those would be complex twisty turny, 'who do you trust?', layers upon layers movies which was about as substantial and flimsy as house of cards on a trampoline. A group of street magicians are recruited by a mysterious stranger to perform a series of heists in plain sight. Heists which have a deeper meaning behind them. And then another one behind that and then... The movie jumped the shark about three minutes in and kept doing it regularly for the rest of the film - in the end (metaphorically) pole vaulting over huge dancing Busby Berkley pyramids of the things - while the director swooped and swirled the camera around all over the place in Steadicam / drone/ cgi shots that tried valiantly, but failed, to distract from the paper-thin characterisation and tissuepaper-thin plot. All the way through the film we were exhorted to look closer to see beyond the surface and ask yourself what was the bigger trick being played. The biggest trick was convincing enough people to actually watch this pile of poo without walking out of the cinema. To a degree I guess they must have succeeded. They conned enough people to make it worth their while making a sequel.
  7. Aquaman - I've been saying for years that CGI has killed movies. I think I just watched the corpse dug up and several acts of necrophilia committed on it. What a godawful, undercooked mess!
  8. Total Recall - the original, not the utterly crappy remake. It's at least 25 years since I last saw it. And I was surprised to find it is a lot better than I remembered but a lot more violent.
  9. Armageddon - absurdly terrible. I'd never seen it before - as far as I can recall I have never seen any of Michael Bay's films before. I kept nearly turning it off because it was so crap but then it would suddenly pull an even more amazingly dreadful piece of stupid out of the plot bucket and I would have to give it a few more minutes while I checked my brain was still functioning. They can't really be expecting us to accept THAT? Can they?? It just kept piling on the awful to such an extent that I was hypnotised.
  10. Phantom Planet (MST3K) - I was tired. I fell asleep. I didn't miss much.
  11. The Robot Vs the Aztec Mummy
  12. Danger!! Death Ray
    - Both MST3K with Number One Son.
  13. The Brides of Dracula - 1960 Hammer nonsense with a thinner than usual script, and an underwhelming villain but some wonderfully OTT performances, terrific lighting (gorgeous Technicolor!), and the fascinatingly beautiful Adree Melly:

    Not a bad way to spend 85 minutes.
  14. The Sinister Urge (MST3k) - with Number One Son. Twenty minutes in he said, " I don't know what's going on." It was an Ed Wood film.
  15. Iron Monkey - with Number Two Daughter.
  16. The Dish- on the day that the NASA scrubbed the Artemis 1 launch at T minus 40 minutes it seemed appropriate to share this wonderful little Australian film about the first moon landing with Number Two Daughter. If you haven't seen it rush out and buy a copy. It's a perfect little gem of a film. There are no car chases, no explosions, only the slightest hint of interpersonal-conflict, the character story arcs are small and personal, you know exactly how the film will end because you saw the TV pictures of Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon, there's no knockabout comedy, though it is very funny. Just a beautifully drawn little film about people doing their jobs at an extraordinary moment in history.
  17. Prophesy 2 - Christopher Walken IS the archangel Gabriel!... Eric Roberts IS the archangel Michael!... Trapped between their warring tribes of angels Jennifer Beals IS pregnant with the child that will decide the destiny of .... bleeech!..... you get the picture. Well you don't quite, but that's the plot. To get the total picture you have to play that plot out using outtakes from some of the lesser Highlander movies with every other angle dutched and everywhere filled with swirling mist lit by One Bloody Big Light just behind the building in the centre of the frame. (The one with men in long black coats perched on its roof.) Then add Christopher Walken tuning the camp menace up a notch every other line, and then for some reason, set the climax in the Garden of Eden (which for the purposes of heavy-handed metaphor is played by that bit of an oil refinery in Long Island that doubles as just about everything in Straight to Video tosh like this). Almost terrible enough to be great but missed by a whisker. There were two more. Maybe next time....

Abandoned in August
Battle Star Wars - #2 daughter and I lasted nine and a half minutes of this Asylum masterpiece. Even our MST3K style riffing mojo couldn't save it... there wasn't enough material to work with. It wasn't even bad.

  1. Star Trek : First Contact - Still working my way through them with number One Son. (Two more to go.) He thought the Borg stuff was scary. I thought Jonathan Frakes's wig was scarier. Third time I've seen this one and I have to say it's beautifully lit. Probably the best lit of all the Trek movies.
  2. Conspirators of Pleasure - strange very arty (avowedly so) film about several people with oddly overlapping lives living out their masturbatory sexual fantasies. I don't think any of the characters actually deliberately touch another character during the course of the film. One of the chapters is called 'The postwoman performs her pleasure ritual'. It involved two rubber tubes shoved in her nostrils and an enamelled bowl full of the little balls of bread she had been surreptitiously rolling on her rounds. The little balls of bread are then given to the television newsreader who feeds them to her carp which she keeps under her desk in the TV studio and which suck on her toes as she, in turn, is watched by the electronics expert/newspaper shop owner who has built a multi-armed robot that caresses him as he watches her read the news. At the start of the film he's the one who sold the girly magazines to the man who engages in some really weird chicken voodoo wardrobe related long distance sadomasochistic stuff that eventually gets investigated by the police inspector who gets his jollies from rolling pins covered in fur with nails driven into them. He's married to the newsreader...

    It's Czech.
  3. The Watcher in the Woods - which has been on my 'must get round to see' list for a while as one of those 'Interestingly Dark' movies that Disney made in the early 80s: Dragonslayer, Return to Oz, Something Wicked This Way Comes... And it's not bad. Some of the acting is a little too earnest and Disneyish but the atmosphere and art direction is terrific, and the camera work is astonishingly good.
  4. Electric Man (2012)- which wasn't good. It could have been - and it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't good - no matter how hard I tried to convince myself it was. It's a low budget Scottish film about two young (broke) comic-book shop owners who find an ultra-rare, super expensive 1930's comic in their shop and are threatened by various heavies and gorgeous women claiming ownership. The film started to go really wrong for me the moment the valuable book appeared on the screen.. A Mint 1938 first edition of Electric Man - worth, we were told, 100,000 dollars, stolen from the collection of a famous collector, and it was just bagged and boarded like a copy of last month's Uncanny X-Men?! Get out of here! It got worse when they opened it - actually before they opened it, because it looked to be the wrong size/shape for a 1930s comic - as the artwork inside looked NOTHING like 1930's comic art. But even if it had looked old, and even if the MacGuffin book had been slabbed like it would have been if it was real, the script wasn't good enough. Too much vague yada yada yada waffling. And I didn't believe the two central comic book guys at all; too vague and wishy washy. There was no passion there. Not enough pop culture references. These guys should have been popping off in-jokes and allusions in every scene. The eyelines went spectacularly wrong in the final showdown - the editor must have had a hard day cutting that scene. A few nice lines though - One of our heroes on the run from the heavies panting: "We need to find somewhere safe! - with Wi-Fi" being one. There are five reviews of this film on IMDb. All of them from the year it was released and four of them from reviewers who thought it was wonderful in well-written, carefully-crafted prose... but who, strangely enough, never again commented on any other film.
  5. My Darling Clementine - John Ford's finest film and possibly the Greatest Western of all Time. But then I think every film by John Ford I've just finished watching is John Ford's finest film and possibly the Greatest Western of all Time. But My Darling Clementine really is both.
  6. Skeletons (2010) - and this is what I've been looking for every time I pick up a DVD I've never heard of. Skeletons is a low budget British film about two bickering men, working for a mysterious Colonel, who provide a service for people. A service that changes their customers' lives in not altogether expected ways. I won't say more because discovering what they do is part of the fun of the film. And it's just wonderful: very funny, mysterious, touching and odd. Very very odd. (One of the characters turns Bulgarian it it's an occupational hazard apparently.) I love watching films where I have no idea what is going to happen. Some films you know exactly how they are going to play out before the end of the first scene; the rest of the watching is a matter of appreciating (or not) the interesting, skilful way way the film makers arrange their well-worn dominoes and tip them all tip over. With Skeletons I was guessing right up to the last scene. I loved it. One of the out-takes in the extras on the disc is entitled, "Cat-Faced Women of the 1940s" which I think is the best title for a deleted scene I have ever seen.
  7. La Princesse de Montpensier (2010) - Ravishingly beautiful, technically wonderful, beautifully costumed romantic tragedy set in 16th Century France but, somehow, just a little antiseptic. I never once forgot I was watching a movie.


  1. Riddick - Vin Deisel gets stranded, sweaty and beaten up, and chained up and kills people - a lot - on ANOTHER planet where the entire ecosystem is made up of vicious carnivores which only come out at night. I mean what ARE the chances? I was almost on the point of giving up on it when Katee Sackhoff took her shirt off. Spoiler - She puts it back on again and it stays on.
  2. Alita Battle Angel - which I found, to my surprise, I really quite enjoyed for the most part. I seem to remember it getting pretty 'meh' reviews at the time but, not having read the source material, I had no real baggage to bring to it - apart from not particularly liking any of Robert Rodriguez's movies. But the eye-candy /design stuff was rather beautiful in places.
  3. The Man Who Cried (2000) - again a film which had everything going for it, a great cast giving sterling performances , great production values, beautiful camera work, terrific music and some ravishingly composed shots - everything except 'it'. Whatever 'it' is. It didn't click. I could admire it from all sorts of angles but it didn't engage - a bit of a pity really as writer / director Sally Potter's Orlando is one of my all time favourite movies.
  4. Project 'Gemini' (2022 Original title: Zvyozdniy razum) - released this year and already in the '3 for a quid' bin at my local charity shop. And understandably so.

    It. Is. Terrible.

    After a few minutes of THE most dreadful "The Earth is doomed because a killer virus is destroying all life on earth and we're all doomed because we're all doomed... and stuff" voiceover expositionising we get yet another bunch of expositioning from some REALLY BORING, PERSONALITY FREE, SCIENCE GUY who tells a bunch of other science types (they're all wearing white coats) and military people types (they're all wearing jumpsuits with patches) that the alien sphereish dingus thingiemebob they'd discovered in a cave, and have been working on for years, holds the hope for all mankind because it's a superdooper spacewarper and a "creating life where there was none before" dingus and it's been sitting in this cave for 4 million years and was probably how life started on Earth....

    (Hands up if you just worked out the rest of the movie's plot... Yup. I thought so. )

    ...Anyhow... a robotic probe test flight to another star system has found a suitable test planet and off they jolly well go - Why he telling these people this is a really good question because they already know this stuff and the audience is suffering from serious infodump overload. Five minutes of solid infodumping is hard to sit through.

    Opening credits.

    Then the first (of many) crashing disappointments. The REALLY BORING, PERSONALITY FREE, SCIENCE GUY turns out to be our HERO!? You're shitting me! They go through the superdooper spacewarper and don't arrive where they are supposed to. They can't work out where they are but decide to use the Starting Life Sphere Dingus anyway because the planet they have arrived next to is even better for the experiment than the one they were heading for - audience at this point starts throwing things at the screen, and making lewd and derisory comments. (Well my daughter and I did.) Unbeknownst to the crew a bit of the superdooper spacewarper dingus detaches itself and decides it's the alien from Alien. The first manned interstellar mission to an uninhabited planet remembered to pack automatic weapons - and a bomb. The only female member of the crew gets to walk backwards down a dark corridor in her underwear. ("How", asked number 2 daughter, "can you make a girl walking down a goo filed corridor in her underwear sequence boring?") One of the crew members goes wrong and tries to help the alien. Painful mechanically delivered dialogue that sounded like it came from a cheap 1980's anime. It's Alien bookended by a plot straight out of one of those 'unexpected twist ending' comics of the late 50s.

    Oh my GOD! It was Earth all along!!!!!!!

    Anyway all turns out well in the end because REALLY BORING, PERSONALITY FREE, HERO SCIENCE GUY pulls one of the films many many many unexpected plot rabbits out of his arse and is somehow able to communicate across 4 million years with his INSANELY BORING PERSONALITY FREE (but pregnant - of course!) SCIENCE GUY GIRLFRIEND and give her 'the formula' for destroying the virus. He'd found it in the blood of the crew member who'd been infected by the alien - or something. The writing really was that crappy. People suddenly pull plot miracles out of thin air at every turn. This film generated more "Wait?! What?!" moments than any film I can remember having seen for years.

    The final shot is of SCIENCE GUY GIRLFRIEND in her no longer infected by virus but now full of flowering plants greenhouse rocking a pram. A pram with the hood up. Because the film couldn't afford to hire a baby for one shot.
  5. Orlando - for the umpteenth time. An utterly beautiful film.
  6. Mad Max Fury Road
  7. Fellini's Casanova
  8. Tonight I rotted my brain (what's left of it) with Starship Troopers 2.
    When I watched Starship Troopers 3: Marauder - I noted in my film diary "apparently this was better than the sequel?!"
    I think whoever's opinions I'd been reading was understating things. This was AWFUL!
  9. Mildred Peirce - one of the great Sunday afternoon pictures (I know was Saturday but it felt pretty Sundayish at JunkMonkey Mansions). Soap Opera Noir at its finest.
  10. The Spanish Prisoner - entertaining piece of fluff from David Mamet.
  11. Cyborg 2087 (1966) - a cyborg is sent from a dystopian future to prevent a professor from creating the technology that will create that future. He is pursued into the past by two other killer cyborgs. The film plays fair : the science fictional elements are worked out, but it's dreadfully thin and cheaply made. the "comedy" elements are pitiful. One for Jo Ann Pflug completists only and they can stop watching after three minutes.
  12. Black Panther - not seen before. Loved the design, loved the strong Black characters, lived the strong female characters, but dears gods! the wall to wall Daddy Issues were hard work.
  13. Hercules Against the Moon Men - trapped on the sofa, where for logistical reasons I am sleeping until I can walk more than a few metres, this kind of hypnotisingly dull fever-dream stuff is just what I need to fill in the time before I have take some more painkillers. No thinking required.
  14. Hercules and the Captive Women - same disc as the last one. (I now need to get one the kids to put something new in.)
    Much of the same elements as the last one; lots of sweaty muscleman stuff, an evil queen who tries to kill a close female relative and slips Hercules a potion which he doesn't drink, children sacrificed to evil up a mountain, lots of running around in caverns. But this time with what must have been a pretty stupendous budget. Indoor studio sets big enough to casually have a 12 horse chariot (with horses six abreast) arrive through the archway at the back, and then an underground horse chase sequence with that chariot. Some great design stuff too and all served up in a dreamy "this doesn't really make any frigging sense at all" manner. The heroes win. Atlantis sinks. Stock footage of Mount Etna erupting gets run through the moviola, heterosexual young love and muscly hero bromance live to fight another day. Not much in the way of 'Captive Women' on display though. A real clickbait of a title.
    I'd love to see a unpillar-boxed decent print of this one.
  15. The Devil of the Desert Against the Son of Hercules - which had absolutely NOTHING to do with Hercules (and nothing to recommend it) beyond the gloriously OTT title song.
    The rest of it is routine Sinbad style desert adventure with very obvious lifts from The Crimson Pirate and one of the odder things to find in a shoddy Arabian Nights adventure - a rip off of the hall of mirrors sequence from Welles's The Lady from Shanghai.

    All very missable.
  1. Archive (2020) - interesting. A researcher works in secret to build a perfect robot replacement body to house his dead wife. Beautiful to watch with some really nice design and location work, convincingly acted but not quite enough material to justify its length I thought. One of those films that feels too much like a short padded out to feature length. Archive just got about got away with it but it did feel slightly too long to me. I'll keep an eye out for writer / director Gavin Rothery. For a first feature this was pretty damn good.
  2. Mad Monster MST3K 01.03 - Early MST3K and much as I love this show Joel and the bots really hadn't got into their stride yet. The film itself is pretty dull but I did clock another appearance of my favourite stock costume spacesuits in the supporting episode of the 1952 Radar Men From the Moon serial:

    Originally (I think) made for Destination Moon in 1950 these suits regularly cropped up in low budget SF films for years afterwards.
  3. The History of Time Travel (2014) - a short (72 minute) feature mockumentary about the history of the world's first time travel machine. Watched with Number 2 daughter who had the same.... "wait? What!?" at the same moment as I did when I first watched it a couple of years ago. The film plays as a History Channel-like documentary with lots of voice over, static pan and scan rostrum shots of 'archive' pictures, talking head experts and those 'recreations of events' which don't show the actors heads or faces - but...
  1. I'm sure it wouldn't hold water if you really examined it closely enough - what time travel story ever does? But this is as good and entertaining a paradox mind-bender as I have seen and shows what you can do with a tiny budget and a small cast if you have a bloody good, well-tailored script to start with.
  2. The Time Travelers (1964) Daughter Number 2 and I are only watching Time Travel movies this week.
  3. Predestination (2013) - second time for me, 1st time for Number 2 Daughter who didn't know what was coming and had great fun working it out. I was pleased she enjoyed it so much and happy to see the film stood up to a second viewing. Finding the original story (which she now wants to read) in my disorganized shelves took almost as long as watching the movie but I eventually discovered a copy in a a battered 1963 Pyramid paperback three layers back in a bookshelf.
  4. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure - which was like totally awesome!
  5. Time Bandits - Me for the godsknowhowmanyieth time, Daughter Number Two for the third time, and Number One Son for the first. Neither of us are now talking to him because he thought it was merely "All right!"
    "All right?! All Right!" we both indignated in our best Frankenfurter voices, "I think we can do better than THAT!"
  6. The 12 Monkeys


  1. Women of the Prehistoric Planet (MST3K) - a film which, as I have noted before, confirms my theory that volcanoes in movies only explode when white people turn up - by having a volcano that starts to erupt when white people turn up... which then stops as soon as they leave.
  2. Project Moonbase (MST3K) - both with No1 Son.
  3. La Maldicion de Frankenstein (aka The Curse of Frankenstein, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, and probably Several Other Things of Frankenstein too 1972) Jess Franco at his most incoherently incoherent. Every other shot is a wobbly zoom into a slightly in focus pan, to something not very interesting, before zooming back out again to where the shot started, before the camera tilts down and zooms into something else in the foreground - quite often in this film, running water. Then a cut to an actor waiting for the director to shout 'action'. A line or two (which may involve reaction shots from someone who is in the room with the speaking actor but which may well be taken from a different scene), followed by three or four establishing shots of a "where the hell are we now?" location followed by a cut of someone, somewhere else, laughing maniacally. etc. etc. etc. for 90 minutes.

    There are apparently several different cuts of this film. I managed to get hold of the one which contained the smallest amount of nudity but did include several scenes of Jess Franco's girlfriend wandering about in a wood reacting to off-screen direction that looked like (and probably did) come from a completely different movie.
  4. Count Dracula aka (Nachts, wenn Dracula erwacht, Nuits de Dracula etc etc.) Fairly faithful (as these things go) but plodding adaptation of Bram Stoker's story. Jess Franco had a bit of a budget for this one. He could afford to hire Christopher Lee to play the count, and Klaus Kinski to play Renfield* - though not enough to get him to speak. Franco's usual wobbly zooms and odd pans are kept in check and performed with a bit more fluidity than usual. The film will linger in my memory longest though for a most blatant bit on on-screen groping. In the sanatorium, as Lucy (Soledad Miranda) faints, Dr. Seward (Paul Muller) does a heroic job of stopping her hitting the floor by stepping behind her and manfully grabbing both her breasts.

    *Here renamed 'Reinfeild' if you trust the credits, 'Renfeird' if you believe the IMDb, or just plain 'Renfield' if you listen to the cast.
  5. Coherence - for the third time. This time with Number One Daughter who pointed out a couple of things I hadn't thought about before - which means I will probably have to watch it again soon to work out if she was right.
  6. Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson - slightly informative, but hardly riveting, overlong for the content biog of the trash film director.
  7. Blood From the Mummy's Tomb (1971) - I spent a lot of this movie admiring the way the costume designers and lighting guys got as much production value out of Valerie Leon's breasts as possible.

    The rest of it was pretty ho-hum Hammer nonsense.
  8. Carry-on Teacher (1959) - an early (3rd) of the Carry-on films. If it had been released under a different title this film would have been long forgotten or only remembered as a mildly amusing piece by those aficionados of British School Films of the 40s and 50s. There must be some, I can think of no other reason why a piece of crap like Fun at St Fanny's got a BFI restoration.
  9. OSS 117: Le Caire, nid d'espions (Cairo Nest of Spies) - amusing, but not as funny as I had hoped, 2006 Bond spoof with Jean Dujardin hamming up it up deliciously.



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