Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Film Diary 2023

Great Zot! This thing still works!

 Every movie I watched in 2023 and lived to tell the tale:


  1. Vampyros Lesbos - Starting the year as I mean to go on. No "I'll be good and only watch proper films this year" instantly broken, New Year's Resolutions round here thank you very much! Vampyros Lesbos - low rent Eurosleeze has Jess Franco at his most coherent - by which I mean the film almost had a story (albeit lifted and partially gender-swapped from Stoker's Dracula) and most of the film looked like it was shot on the same film stock throughout - though they don't seem to have hired a focus puller for the shoot. A lot of Franco's trademark zooms started or ended well on the fuzzy side. The usual Franco nonsense: Lots of half-hearted 'lesbian' writhing, lots of establishing shots which included pans and zooms of building that were obviously not the places where the following scenes took place. The film is set in Istanbul - for no reason related to the plot in any way - so some of these are a bit more interesting than usual. Lots of scenes shot in the director's hotel bedroom.

  2. The Room (2003) - Dear Mother of all the Gods! I had been warned. My kids warned me. I still wasn't prepared. I decided to watch this tonight because I just bought a copy of the book one of the actors wrote about the making of the film - The Disaster Artist - and figured it might be a good idea to actually see the film before I read the book. I feel a very more lot less smart for having watched it. Hahahaha!

  3. Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke - Ok. That was about as funny as an unfunny thing that wasn't very funny. Scrolling through the extras I find it's probably the only film ever to have completely cut out one of the screen's greatest actors Harry Dean Stanton. He played a cop and his whole scene got chopped.

  4. Cheech and Chong Still Smoking - in an act of depressed masochistic laceration that I can only liken to the kind of self-harming that upset teens can get hooked into, I watch ANOTHER Cheech and Chong movie which turns out to be considerably shitter than the one I watched last night. Last night's at least had a vague narrative structure - and, it must be said, a pretty groovy soundtrack. This one had no plot AT ALL. It was just a bunch of sketches strung together in a Three Stooges-like mugging and slapstick framing device while they wandered around some of the less photogenic parts of Amsterdam. The latter part of the film was a recording of a live performance. The sketches included a blackface routine and a pointless, punchlineless sequence where they dressed up as a pair of 'faggots' trying to decide what to wear for a night out. It was stupid and offensive, but worse unfunny with it. Stupid and funny is OK. Offensive and funny is OK (but more difficult to do). Stupid, offensive, and funny is even harder but possible. Leave funny off the list and you just end up with self-indulgent abuse. The film, and their stage show, climaxes with them on their hands and knees pretending to be dogs having a shit in a restaurant. Ho bloody ho.

  5. The Island at the Top of the World (1974) - formulaic second string Disney live action adventure with some clunking, undeliverable dialogue, and special effects that varied wildly from being really impressive to really shonky - sometimes within the same sequence. The music by Maurice Jarre was terrific and some of the design stuff was impressive.

  6. The Asphyx (aka 'The One With the Immortal Guinea Pig') had some clunking editing moments. There were some really awkward transitions. Some were seamless and one I thought particularly good but others were real stop... and then start the film somewhere else. Gave a very odd rhythm. But it's such an odd film it got away with it.

  7. Them! - probably plays better in the memory than on the screen. Some nice sequences, but some really clunking dialogue and a clunky lecture about ants in the middle of the show which just ground the film to a total dead stop. There was one moment in it that though that gave me a genuine shudder. It's fairly early in the film too. They'd just put the comatose, traumatised little girl in the back of the ambulance when our heroes hear the strange sound that they heard earlier. They turn to look out into the desert wondering what it can be and behind them, unseen by them, the little girl just sits up and stares out into the distance too - before lying back down again as the noise abates. I don't know why but that moment really jolted me. And, in a blink and miss it part, Leonard Nimoy was in it too

Note to self: Stop using 'clunky'. Find another word.


  1. Escape From Earth (original title Future Justice 2014) - In some ill-defined future a prisoner who glories in the name of 'Python Diamond' (I kid you not) is shipped from a holding facility around Saturn (where for some inexplicable reason he has been held in cryo-sleep for five years before being shipped to Earth for execution). When the ship arrives home the crew finds a nuclear war has taken place in their absence - without them noticing, or being informed, or anything. How? It's not as if these people had gone anywhere where some form of two way communication with Earth was impossible - especially for a military vehicle. No one listened to the news? No one at Ill-Defined Military High Command sent them any kind of updates? Orders? Warnings? Anything? Another film that assumes the audience is as stupid as it is. Anyhow - blah blah blah hand wavy stuff- the whole of civilisation gone to pot so our crew go down to investigate. No one at the script stage thought to think there might be any off world bases or any other infrastructure to check out first? No manned orbital facilities? no Lunar bases? anything? No. Just a prison on a moon of Saturn and Earth. That's it. Anyhow the five members of the crew and their prisoner shout at each other a lot and get all testosterony at each other and the director gets so excited by his actors shouting at each other that he sometimes forgets to point them at each other so they seem to have shouty conversations with the backs of each other's heads. They arrive to find a group of survivors in a warehouse who stand about and fill them in on all the back story that we should have got earlier in the show. Blah Blah... nuclear bombs... blah blah... waves of refugees... blah blah... everyone sterile... blah blah... more bombs... end of the human race... blah blah... but suddenly! the Mad Max Appreciation Society from the next block turn up and everyone gets to play Assault on Precinct 13 for the rest of the stupidly long 80 minutes.

    Starring a whole bunch of actors you have never heard of before (and hope you will never see again) playing 'characters' you don't give a shit about, spouting dialogue that sounds like it was written by a 17 year old Warhammer player. I'm not not sure what kind of deal the actors had but everyone of them in mentioned in the opening titles and not ONE is mentioned anywhere on the DVD case in front of me here. Front or back. The Production Assistants get on-case credits - all three of them, and the both the costume designer's assistants but none of the cast.

    Another waste of... well I didn't actually pay for this one; it was free in a 'help yourself bin'... and I still feel ripped off.

  2. The Salute of the Jugger (aka The Blood of Heroes) - Rutger Hauer and Joan Chen in a post-apocalyptic sports movie. Low on dialogue and high on violence and shared with Number 2 Daughter who loved it.

  3. Spaceballs with Number One son. Slightly funnier than I remember it - which is damning with faint praise because I remember it being a complete dud, but the boy enjoyed it and giggled his way through it. (He is only 13.)

  4. De vrais mensonges (2010 aka Beautiful Lies, and Full Treatment) - silly bit of Franco-fluff Romcom that kept me entertained for 100 or so minutes. I doubt if I will remember any of it in a week but it was enjoyable.

  5. TRON (1982) - one of my favourite films of all time. Storywise it's nonsense, and structurally it's very very odd. (The hero protagonist of the first part of the film becomes the comedy relief - albeit with supra-normal powers - in the second, while the minor sidekick character of the opening becomes the active hero.) This watch, with Daughter Number Two, was prompted by the realisation that the music was by Wendy Carlos, one of D#2's heroines.

  6. The 39 Steps (1935) - Hitchcock really was a genius director wasn't he? A total arsehole of a man by many accounts but a genius director. Watched with Number Two Daughter who mentioned the other day she had never seen any of his films. As I'm reading the book at the moment (which is awful, and taking me far longer to finish than it should) this seemed an ideal place to start. She enjoyed it immensely. I had forgotten how funny it was and as I deliberately didn't mention the fact that scenes were shot just up the road from where we live the sudden appearance of familiar local scenery came as a pleasant surprise to her as well.

  7. Colette (2018) - minor biopic of the French writer which didn't really engage me. It felt too much like one of those BBC Classic adaptations of yesteryear for me - albeit with more gay sex than pre-watershed BBC used to allow. The film ended with her divorcing her husband and her living with a woman with whom she was in love. The movie (even in its copious end title cards) side-stepped the fact that Colette married two more times, leaving the implication in the viewers mind she and her lesbian lover, Mathilde de Morny, lived a long and happy life together - the relationship lasted 6 years and ended a year after the divorce became finalised - and it neatly ignored the fact that Colette wrote articles for pro-Nazi magazines during the Occupation.

    The film also included one of those little screenwriting writing tricks/clichés that is really starting to annoy me. Here's the scene: a character says: "Never! I will never NEVER do X Yor Z / Be seen dead in... / go to..." - or whatever. The details differ but the character makes some emphatic statement to another character that they will never do something - and then...

    It has become tediously routine and obvious that this declaration will always and immediately be followed by a shot of them doing / having done the very thing they swore they would never do. This time it was Colette who swore to her husband she would never cut her waist length hair short in the fashion of her character Claudine.... Followed by a shot of her,with her hair cut short, accompanying her husband at the theatre.

    In the extras on the DVD was a dropped scene that was obviously intended to go between these two shots. It shows an uncomfortable, unhappy Colette getting her hair cut then screaming at her husband that she hated it and she would never forgive him for making her do it. The scene worked. Many times it's obvious why scenes get cut - there's another on this DVD which clearly didn't make the cut for many obvious reasons: the "Thank heavens for..." joke was totally misplaced; the actress in the scene was utterly unconvincing (a minor part which was, I suspect, cut to give her the barest minimum possible screen time); and it didn't tell us anything that was vital to the story. It was a pointless, badly played little scene. It had to go. The haircutting scene would have added so much more and sidestepped a tedious cliché.


  1. Every now and then I like to recalibrate my critical faculties by scraping round the corners of the crud barrel at JunkMonkey Mansions and watching something irredeemably bad. Something so awful that it's not even enjoyable in a 'So bad it's funny', Ed Woodian way. Something so bad it's MST3K proof. Something that is just... crud. I don't know why I have this compelling need to flagellate myself like this but it does make anything I watch for months afterwards look a LOT better. 1970s British Sex Comedies are my usual go to genre when I need something to reset my jaded pallet. For months afterwards, halfway through some godawful 1980s Italian Mad Max clone, I will find myself thinking, "Christ! this is dreadful!... but it's still better than Confessions of a Dental Hygienist's Mate!"

    Last night the crud bucket was spectacularly empty of British Sex 'Comedies' (the word sex there should be in heavy sarcasm marks too but it just looks silly). Not a one. But there was a DVD of a film called Son in Law starring someone called Pauly Shore. I had no idea who Pauly Shore was but I had a vague idea that I once heard some really awful film being described as being 'only slightly better than a Pauly Shore movie'. I shoved it in the player.

    I lasted less than 40 minutes. (If you had asked I would have said I had been sat there for at least an hour). It was painful! Like having teeth pulled. In the end I just couldn't take any more.

    I think the next time I find myself needing to do this reset thing and I end up watching some Bawdy Adventures of a Traffic Warden type unfunny, unsexy (but definitely British) piece of shit , I will find myself thinking "Christ! this is dreadful!... but it's still better than a Pauly Shore movie."

  2. The Lone Ranger (1956) - TV spin-off movie. Routine, plodding western with all the usual clichés. The only 'Indians' with speaking parts were played by white actors sprayed brown and talking in simple pronoun-less Noun Verb Noun sentence structures. Some impressive stunt work though.

  3. The Jewel of the Nile - vastly disappointed to find my memories of this film were utterly wrong. I remembered it as a jolly, silly, funny adventure romp with the drop dead gorgeous Kathleen Turner. As it was, it was a plodding bore with a drop dead gorgeous Kathleen Turner, some nice scenery and a dreadful score. I now have Billy Ocean's Go and Get Stuffed stuck in my head.

  4. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (or 20000 Leagues Under the Sea - if you believe the opening title card) - The Disney one - which I really wanted to like a LOT more than I did. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I was expecting. Some of the design work was great, James Mason was sexy as hell but the plot was thin (though given the original material that is hardly a surprise; I can see why Verne was popular in his day but I find his books dull as ditch-water. Very heavy on the travelogue and lectures, regurgitated, I presume, from contemporary encyclopedias, about the marvels of nature and science, held together with paper thin plots and characters.
    A film with no speaking parts for women. Not one. Some of the effects and travelogue/wildlife shots seemed strangely (distractingly) widened too which was distracting.

  5. Message From Space - Oh my dear gods!
    There is a scene I remember in Midnight Cowboy where a couple are energetically banging away on a bed and their feet are whacking a remote which keeps changing the channels on the bedroom TV. This allowed director John Schlesinger to edit in a montage of TV footage that showed up the vapidity and shallowness of contemporary American life (or, at least, the vapidity and shallowness of American television). It was the sort of thing European film makers, given a chance to spend vast amounts of American money on an American film liked to do in the 60s. Cynically I could think this made them feel like they hadn't sold out and were still artists - but it was the 60s. (BTW I really like Midnight Cowboy - it's one of those unrequited love stories that makes me cry.) Anyway... I was reminded of that scene while watching Message From Space because I had this idea, half way through, that that's how Message From Space was made.. One Saturday morning in Japan in the 70s, a film producer was Weinsteining some poor wannabee actress, and the video recorder he had set up to immortalise the event for his own sordid purposes had got accidentally wired up to the TV... and the remote was in the bed. He mistook the resulting 90 odd minutes of channel hopped kids' Saturday Morning TV that he later found on the tape as a production he'd forgotten he'd made and released it quickly to cash in on the Star Wars craze that was sweeping the world. There is no other way this... thing could ever have been made.

    The only other critical thought I had during it was that the huge set in which a lot of the action took place looked exactly like what you would get if you asked Philippe Druillet to design a Chinese restaurant.

  6. eXistenZ - The best Philip K Dick adaptation that wasn't based on a Philip K Dick story.


  1. J-Men Forever - a very silly movie made by chopping up lots of old Republic serials and adding silly voices. Like The Staggering Stories of Ferdindand de Bargos but with a couple of filmed inserts and a slight plot.

  2. Cargo - German film which I watched - dear gods! over a decade ago! - and remember thinking it wasn't very good despite getting a lot of good word of mouth at the time. I found a copy cheap in a charity shop yesterday and thought I would give it another go and see if I was wrong.

    I wasn't.

    The plot holes were even more glaring than before and my attempting to fix them by paying attention and seeing if I had missed something first time failed. I hadn't.

  3. Swing Time- creaky RKO Fred and Ginger 'musical' (the 6th of 10) which had some real bravura crane and dolly shots camerawork going on a times (and given the size of cameras back in 1936 some real engineering must have been going on behind the scenes), and some slick sets but plot/story wise pretty dull, by-the-numbers stuff just there to hang a few dance numbers and songs onto. And Fred Astair in blackface which was uncomfortable.

  4. Robot Holocaust (MST3K) - after a long break the son and I rediscover the external hard drive stuffed full of MST3K goodness and enjoy some of the worst acting I have seen since... since the last time I watched Robot Holocaust back in 2007. We had fun.

  5. Mulholland Drive - with D#2, me for the fourth or fifth time, her for the first (her first David Lynch too). Still my favourite Lynch - it strikes just the right mix of Lynchian weird and understandable narrative structure. This time, maybe because I was watching it with someone, or because it was the 4th or 5th time I have seen it, I found the narrative part more obvious than I had remembered..


  1. Hundra - for the first time in something like its original widescreen format. A very funny film.

  2. The Evil Cult - a stonkingly incomprehensible full throttle whatthefuckisgoing on?! 93 minutes of Kung Fu madness with an uncountable number of characters, belonging to a bewildering number of factions, rushing en mass every which way and beating the crap out of each other for utterly inexplicable reasons.
    But with some wonderfully mangled Engrish subtitles.
    "I have had adultery with his wife for three years!" being a favourite.

  3. Strippers Vs Werewolves - I only managed to get 30 minutes into this before I gave up so this is one of my Public Service Broadcast posts.

    If you ever get a chance to see this - don't even bother considering it for a second.

    It. Is. Terrible. It's not 'bad'. It's not 'so bad it's funny'. It's not got a "Wow! We know it's dreadful but we're going to have fun making fun of how bad it is and let you in on the joke!" shtick going on. It has none of that or any other of the other possible ways some bad films have of endearing themselves to a receptive audience. It's. Just. shit.

    In an attempt to disguise just HOW shit it is, a lot of the time the 'film' (I suppose I have to call it that) uses split screen. I like split screen. You can do great things with split screen (The Phantom of the Paradise and The Thomas Crown Affair being good examples) all it managed to achieve here was let the audience watch badly directed actors deliver banal underwritten, uninteresting dialogue in two locations at the same time. (Sometimes I suspect it was only there to hide the fact that the footage within a scene wouldn't cut together in a comprehensible manner). Short pointless 'scenes' follow one after another linked with stripper silhouette-shaped, and clawed flesh shaped wipes, and what looked like Powerpoint presentations made up from stills run through Photoshop's Graphic Pen filter and coloured in with crayons.

    Everything looked cheap, tatty and pointless.

    According to the trivia section of its entry on the IMDb it 'took in only thirty-eight pounds at the UK box-office when released' - so the backers probably got their money back.

  4. The Visitor - And I have to thank forum friend Victoria Silverwolf wholeheartedly for pointing me in the direction of this one - one of the more gloriously bonkers bits of film making I have seen for a long time. More WTF?!s per minute than I though possible. It's not all crud though. This thing obviously had a budget and, as Victoria says, there are some moments (usually single shots) that are superbly done. I have a sneaking suspicion that there times when the director was busy doing other stuff and the DP had time to set up a beauty shot or two for his showreel.
    Thank you, Victoria.

  5. "Sugar gets what she wants... when she wants it! Her machete isn't her only weapon.
    Their world... a plantation Their battleground... a tropical inferno.
    They're women... They're Warm... They're Wildcats.
    Sweet Sugar"​


    Boy! there sure is a lot to read on exploitation posters of the seventies.

    In an unnamed South American country, big-breasted bombshell Sugar is busted for narcotics and ends up on a forced-labour sugar plantation - it's a 'Women in Prison' movie and pretty lacklustre one. Directed by a sometime art director for Russ Mayer it plods along ticking off the required WIP checklist of catfights, shower scenes, rape, whippings, escape attempts and 'lesbian' seduction (guess who doesn't make it to the end of the film) but all in a very half-hearted manner with some of the worst choreographed fight scenes I have seen for a long time. A slight leavening of the stodgy pudding (gratuitous nudity aside) was the rather odd turn from the actor playing 'Doctor John', the sadistically deranged owner of the plantation, whose line in experiments included throwing drug enraged cats at semi-naked women. His performance was weirdly watchable.

  6. Steet Fighter - well, that was a lot of fun.

  7. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) - I watched this many years ago and had memories of it being a pretty good film. I was wrong. It's not a good film. It's a fecking brilliant film!

  8. Morgan - yet another in the 'is it sentient? or just trying to kid us?', emerging AI stories in which the AI in question is housed in the body of an attractive young woman. Why are they always women? (Speilberg's A.I. is the only one I can think of off the top of my head where the emerging sentience isn't housed in a hot babe's bod or a clunky robot.) And this one is all a bit shit for many reasons despite a great cast (none of whom are really given a lot to do - most of the big names only get one scene: Brian Cox doesn't even get out of his chair!). The AI goes rogue, kills a lot of people before the the shadowy corporation behind its creation finally kill it. The only feelings of 'love the AI expresses are for one of the woman scientists who - backstory fills in - has spurned the advances of the only heterosexual male worth bonking in the cast. Oh boy. Evil lesbian trope box ticked but with an organic robot. It's all very predictable.

    It's got one of those irritating, echoey piano ambient soundtracks. And the 'twist' ending pack-shot was so heavily foreshadowed it would have been more twisty if they hadn't done it; it was so obvious.
    Seriously - from the first moment the AI and the corporate 'risk assessment consultant' sent to evaluate the project appear on screen together you could have written the ending before they said a word even before all the tricksy reflections and double images the director layered on the glass wall separating them.

  9. Shattered Glass - I am a sucker for intrepid investigative newspaper stories. I like the myth of the honest reporter unearthing hidden secrets and fighting against all odds to bring the truth to the people. It's about as true as the myth of the heroic cowboy in the white hat cleaning up the town single handed, but I like it.
    I especially like intrepid investigative newspaper tales when they are based (even if only loosely) on real events. Shattered Glass is based on the real life story of journalist Steven Glass who worked for the prestigious The New Republic for three years back in the late 1990s... and made up most of the stories that appeared under his by-line. The great scandal here to be uncovered is the dishonesty of the central character.
    The film feels a little unfocused, the film never seems quite sure if it was a character study of the fabulist writer or the systematic unravelling of his fantasies. It's a bit messy in the way characters appear, contribute their part of the unmasking before sliding out of the story to let someone else pick up the thread. It's messy like that, I suspect, because I suspect the real events were messy like that.
    I found it difficult to really identify with any of the characters - in a nutshell, I couldn't work out who I supposed to be rooting for.

  10. A Bizarre Love Triangle (original title: Cheoleobtneun anaewa paramanjanhan nampyeon geurigo taekwon sonyeo - it's Korean). Co-Written by Park Chan-wook. Feckless Eun-hee has a child who needs a life saving operation, the child dies and she marries the celebrity (the world's unfunniest comedian) who raised the money to try and save him. Then she meets up again with a schoolgirl friend, Keum-sook, who has been in love with her for years. They start an affair. The comic finds out about it and blackmails Keum-sook into sleeping with him. Once. And she gets pregnant. They all live happily ever after. A very long 93 minutes which was billed as a comedy but the only genuinely funny moment is the one where the comic tells a joke to the wrong audience and no one laughs. For me the film suffered from an overly-complicated narrative structure which kept going back over itself (and not adding anything much each time it did), and arsty tricksy freeze-framing and speed-ramping (while at other times clumsily buggering up perfectly simple line of action stuff) all housed in a "30 years in the future" framing device which kept popping in to interrupt the flow.

    The subtitles had annoyingly obvious spelling mistakes and typos.

    But hey, the lesbian couple get to live happily till the end of the picture - so that's something.


  1. Hell Bent for Leather - which would be a hell of a good name for a gay porn movie but is in fact a workmanlike Audie Murphy cowboy movie. I've never seen an Audie Murphy cowboy film before. It was very predictable. The scenery was nice.

  2. Shaft (1971) - I wish I'd liked this more than I did. It's such an important piece of trash movie history I just wanted it to be so much better.

    I got irritated by the uncertain camerawork in some places. The first scene between Shaft and the Harlem boss is full of odd little zooms in and out that just don't seem to make much sense and don't really appear anywhere else in the movie (that I noticed). I got totally distracted by the fact that Rowntree was wearing a radio mic in that scene. (Note to future movie director self: Tight fitting jumpers - even sexy roll necks on hunky bods - are not a good place to try and hide recording equipment.)

    Though I did admire the virtuoso way the director managed to make his obviously tiny studio sets look bigger by shooting diagonally across the space into the corner whenever possible. And why did the quality of the film degrade so much in the wide shot of the café where Shaft drinks the espresso? It looks like a second or third generation dupe. Almost as if they'd lost the negative, which is possible I suppose, and had to cut in the workprint. (Which, thinking about it, makes loosing the negative a less likely option. When the lab lost half of a Russ Meyer film - I forget which one, does it matter?they're all pretty interchangeable), they lost it before they developed it and made a dupe.)

    And why was Shaft's bed just inside his front door? Is this normal in two storey New York apartments? And why did he have that GODAWFUL painting of a clown over it? I spent far too much of the movie in over-analytical mode asking myself things like that. (It really is a terrible painting.) This is what happens when I watch a really bad film. But this wasn't a really bad film It just didn't give me enough. So I started spotting the cracks.

    On the up side the minor gay character was (for the era, and the type of movie) pretty sympathetic and underplayed. The guerilla style shooting on the streets gave it a rough edginess that worked at times - pity they didn't do a Larry Cohen and play out some dramatic scenes on the streets. And the opening theme is still one of my favourite pieces of movie music.

  3. Mon Oncle (1958) - The first of Jaques Tati's films to be released in colour, Mon Oncle won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, a Special Prize at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Language Film, receiving more honours than any of Tati's other cinematic works. works. (Wikipedia).

    I fell asleep.

  4. Vera Cruz (1954) - Post Civil War western set in Mexico with Burt Lancaster chewing the scenery as the leader of a bunch of mercenaries and Gary Cooper as the loner who joins his band. Together they take on the job of escorting a countess to the titular port. The coach also contains a hidden $3 million in gold and EVERY character with a speaking part conspires to get it. It's sweaty, for the time very violent, and stuffed full of immoral and amoral characters. It's a Spaghetti Western ten years before its time but suffering from it's being made in the Hollywood system and its stars being too big for the roles. Clint Eastwood was a TV actor before A Fist Full of Dollars; Lancaster (who also produced here) and Cooper were A listers. Lancaster (because he was the producer) gets the plum part and nicely plays against type, lending his wonderful grin to a right evil bastard of a sociopath killer. Made 15 years later, when the doors had been opened wide, this would have been a much nastier, more complex, and far better film. As it is it's a mildly interesting toe in the water of things to come.

  5. Twins of Evil (1971) - Nice sets, great furniture... (seriously there was some really great furniture in this movie; either extremely good fakes or genuine antiques) but mostly the usual by the numbers Hammer vampire stuff, 'based on characters created by Sheridan Le Fanu' . (I.E. there was someone called 'Karnstein' in it). Lots of running around in the woods in broad daylight holding flaming torches, lots of dolly shots and zooms and lashings of clearly enunciated British TV acting. All just a bit... dull really. As I said. The most interesting thing about the show was the furniture. (And the tits.)

  6. Some Like it Sexy (aka Come Back Peter and Seducer 1969) - described by the director as "Alfie... with more sex" . Pretty pointless succession of seemingly unrelated scenes in which an obscure British actor (who looks a bit like Anthony Booth but with even less charisma) beds a series of women. The women are broad brushtroked 'types': a German Au Pair (played by an incredibly bad actress with an unintelligibly thick accent), a suburban housewife, a dolly bird fashion model, a rich, unhappily married rapacious older woman, a Black hippy chick etc.). Since there are sometimes long earnest dialogues sequences between the obscure British actor and the woman about life and happiness and meaning and stuff before the inevitable humping I have the suspicion they thought they were making a semi-serious movie. What ended up on the screen looks like a joke free, dry-run at a Confession of a ... type schlock . The sex scenes are interminable. In the end the implication is that all the events of the film are a daydream had by a butcher's boy on his delivery round.

    One of those, "Why am I watching this crap?" movies.

    This was the first film to feature Mary & Madeleine Collinson, the twin sisters from Hammer's Twins of Evil which I watched last night. And yes they did the 'good twin / bad twin' thing in this one too - even to the point of one wearing black and the other white. They fight over our hero and when he tells them to 'kiss and make up' they go the whole hog and fulfilled a lot of dirty old men's lesbian incest fantasies - without the use of the body doubles which litter the rest of the film.


  1. Ishtar (1987) - Oh dears gods! What were they thinking? What was I thinking? That was... painful.

  2. Mutiny in Space (1965) - in the first few minutes of this low budget sf film (which I'd never heard of till yesterday) we get mentions of how the discovery of ice, in caves on the Moon, would make the construction of the second base on the moon so much easier, an orbiting space station having to adjust its trajectory to avoid an obsolete, forgotten satellite - which the captain of the satellite refers to as 'Junk' (just when did the term 'space junk' first get used I wonder?), there are capable women crew members onboard, there's mention of solar power being used on the moon, The space station had inner and outer hulls with self sealing capabilities... (someone has been reading some popular science magazines!). Later on in the film a pivotal plot point turns on the fact that guns are internationally outlawed in space (and, what's more, the American military honour this agreement!)... There's some pretty forward looking stuff in here.

    Sadly things got pedestrian pretty fast and soon the base is covered in killer space fungus and newspaper headlines are spinning across the screens as papers around the world tell their waiting readerships about just how incredibly doomed Space Station X-7* is (though some of said readerships must have been a little confused as to why their papers were suddenly publishing in English - or even, in the case of what I suspect was a Russian paper, a latin alphabet). Just as things are about to get even doomeder for our gallant crew (who in addition to rampaging space fungus had to deal with their commander doing a Queeg and needing relieved of command - thus justifying the movie's title), they discover that the fungus thrives on warmth, so they lower the temperature on the inside of the ship to 'zero' (Centigrade, Fahrenheit or Kelvin?) which makes all the fungus shrivel up and vanish with a horrible screeching noise not unlike my car's brakes (I must get them looked at). Sadly, lowering the inside of the ship's temperature to zero (anything) doesn't get rid of the fungus growing all over the outside of the station which is thriving in the warmth of the sun's rays. The military send up a rocket which, when "successfully destructed"(sic), sends a cloud of freezing ice crystals to block out the sun long enough for the whole station to become as "clean as a newborn star". Oh dear. It started out so well too.

    The sets were good the acting better than was expected and some of the writing when it got away from the plot was pretty good. There were a few oddities in the special effects - some of which obviously came from bigger budget (possibly Eastern Block) films - including one jarring moment where the editor cut between two different angles on the moon rocket in which the star field background was the same - the model hung in front of it had obviously just been turned between shots. I guess the assumption was that no one in the audience would remember the exact starfield behind the ship in shots seen several minutes apart. I don't think for a second they were expecting two of these shots to be used consecutively. It looked like crap.

    *or "7-X noitatS ecapS" in one insert shot where the film was flopped for some reason. As the name of the place was written in big letters round the outside it was pretty hard to miss.

  3. Neil Simon's California Suite four uninterlocking stories set in the same time frame, in the same hotel, with a few good lines, some great performances (Maggie Smith being more than usually wonderful) and some downright embarrassingly awful 'comedy' from Richard Prior and Bill Cosby that looked like it wandered in from another studio. The music was bloody awful too.

  4. Cherry 2000
    Me: "Do you want to watch the most 80s thing I can think of?"
    Daughter #2: "Sure."

    Not the greatest film in the world but it has more than the average, run of mill movie's quota of weirdness and oddness in it. It deserves to be better known. Falls a little flat in the third act (like a lot of action movies) as the characters run through their set piece hoops to get to their standard Hollywood resolution - though, even then, there is the odd moment. During the climactic firefight the innocent sex robot Maguffin's "This is fun but I'd rather be watching it on television!" is a genuinely funny line.

    Daughter #2 loved it.

    "Oh, you guys go ahead. I have to straighten out the extension chord situation in sector five."

  5. Blue Hurricane (1991) - if you're kinky for shots of fighter aircraft taxiing around and taking off (and landing again, and taxiing to a standstill) then this is the movie for you.

    In between all the taxiing, taking off, landing and taxiing we get to watch REAL MEN saluting each other a lot.

    A seriously dull movie in which nothing much happens. A Nato base 'in Europe'. Two American best bud fighter pilots (one of them played by Dirk A-Team 'Starbuck' Benedict) are scrambled to intercept a 'bogie'. Five minutes of taxiing and taking off later toy planes are thrown around in front of the camera for a few minutes to show us what hot shot pilots these guys are. The bogie is an 'enemy plane' and after they chase it about a bit it 'crosses the line' and the hot shots are ordered to return to base before they cause 'a diplomatic incident'. They almost disobey their commanding officer but the power of David Warner's acting (for it is he) forces them to turn around.

    After a brief interlude showing us what a perfectly happily married man with two cute children (and therefore doomed to die before act one is out) guy our hero's best bud is, the dynamic duo fly out to some mountainous area to consummate their buddiness by practising some sort of super jet fighter plane tactic that hero has come up with. Nearing a mysterious mountain they are surrounded by mysterious lights and hero returns to base alone. Best bud's plane's wreckage is found but... (three dramatic chords, please!)... there's no body to be found!!!!

    Hero does a sad acting montage while the producer's girlfriend sings a REALLY bad (but thankfully utterly forgettable) song as he wanders about doing moping 101 (desultorily flipping through channels on the TV, leaning against a door frame and staring up into the night sky, etc.).

    The court of enquiry clears him of any wrongdoing. His best bud's pilot error is to blame. Hero has crisis of confidence about flying again and starts babbling about UFOS. David Warner gives him two days to get his shit together. Hero gets his shit together by seducing UFO nut Patsy Kensit.

    Convinced by the righteousness of his cause he out-acts David Warner and convinces the Powers That Be to mount some highly overly complex, split second operation to fly four jets at the mountain from four different directions before meeting up in front of it. To get the proof he needs his jet has a TV camera glued to the front. Just quite why they are trying to sneak up on a mountain instead of just going there is never quite explained (if, indeed, it was ever considered by the scriptwriters). Lots of saluting, taxiing, taking off, and flying about later they arrive at the mysterious mountain, which far from being mysteriously in the middle of mysterious nowhere has a very unmysterious looking hydroelectric scheme half way up it and a 'pipeline' bridge for them to fly under for no reason other than the hero has told them it's crucial that they do fly under it.

    As they get to the mountain there is a blinding light and everyone flies around like loonicans and two of the planes crash and the hero hero returns to base convinced the lights were trying to communicate with him. Nonsense! his superiors say, that was just 'ball lighting' we saw on the monitor. Sulking our hero walks away with his UFO nut girlfriend while the military top brass stand around wondering why none of them have the courage to mention the several million quids worth of fighter plane (not to mention the pilots) who didn't return from this weirdly pointless mission.

    After a brief conversation with his girlfriend's UFO nut mentor he decides he has to climb the mountain alone. Let me go with you says Patsy Kensit almost acting for a moment. No, says the hero. "This is something I have to do... alone."

    Cut To:

    Hero and his best buddy's dad (who has climbed the mountain before) walking up the slight slope that is doubling for the impressively steep, near vertical, cliffs used in the long shots.

    'Alone'... you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means....

    Dad twists his ankle hero goes on alone alone. This mysteriously mysterious mountain, it now transpires, takes only a day to walk into and ascend without any specialist climbing or even hiking gear - our hero is wearing his everyday clothes.

    Near the top there is a sudden light show. Lights! Lights! more lights!... and then some more! Lights! ... and then there's best buddy standing there! They hug. And head off down the mountain (in the dark).

    The end.

    So Top Gun Meets Close Encounters of the Third Kind with a budget of tens.

    I am starting to reassess my 'watch anything with David Warner in it' policy.

  6. Night Train to Murder - TV Movie 1985. Morecambe and Wise were a part of my childhood. Eric Morecambe was one of those great comedians who could make you laugh by simply doing nothing. And Ernie Wise was a great straight man. They worked well on TV in a variety format but towards the end of their career wanted to break away from the same old same old. Their move from the BBC to ITV in the early 80s included an agreement that they would make what were essentially TV movies. This is the only one that got completed before Eric Morecambe died. It's not very good. A few nice gags but it doesn't hold together at all as a story and there are some very very clumsy, amateurish shuffling about with experienced actors seeming unsure what they are supposed to be doing next. Part of the problem was, I suspect, that this show was originally cut to accommodates a laugh track. When released on DVD it didn't have one. Anyone who's ever seen any of those 'Friends with No Laugh Track' Youtube videos will know how weird that makes things.

  7. Judge Priest (1934) - big box office in its day, a little hard to watch now, John Ford directed slice of Post Reconstruction Old South hooey with Will Rogers giving an odd performance. Both strangely naturalistic and mawkish (very John Ford) but Rogers delivered an awful of of his lines with his face turned away from the camera. 'Upstage' in theatre terms.

  8. The Four Feathers (2002) - The seventh film version. Looked beautiful in places but boy did it go on. Outstayed its welcome by a good 20 minutes after seeming to take an age to get started.

  9. Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon (1967) - lumberingly unfunny entry in Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, The Great Race territory.

  10. R.I.P.D. - I'd heard it was shit. It was shit.

  11. Seventh Son (2014) - by pure fluke coincidence the second film in a row to feature Beau Bridges being an almost unintelligible whiskery curmudgeon. Seventh Son is of those by the numbers heroic fantasies where The Farm Boy With a Destiny saves the world from being overwhelmed by evil on a certain date by virtue of his being The Farm Boy With a Destiny and just happening to have the all-powerful Talisman of Ghetouttagaol...

    All pretty meh - with the added challenge of trying to work out what Beau Bridges was actually saying half the time (I think he was trying to do an English accent) and wondering why the hell Julianne Moore (who I consider to be one of the finest actors of her generation) was doing in this kind of crap. I suspect she must have been wondering too, because there were times when she seemed to be less than invested in some of her lines than others. There was a real "Do I really have to say this? Okay, let's get it over with..." feeling from her at times.

    Another thing I found dubious was the fact that ALL the soon-to-be-overwhelmed-by-unspeakable-evil people appeared to be white, and ALL the villains hanging around waiting for the 'Blood Moon' to be at its height and their 'powers' to be at their full, were women and Black and Asian. The interior decor of the witch queen's palace was full of Islamic geometric patterns and other blatant Orientalisms. The subtext wasn't very sub.

  12. The Return of Captain Invincible (1983) - I think I have a new favourite movie of the week! The late great Alan Arkin - always worth watching - plays a burnt out bum superhero who is called on to save the world when a secret 'Hypno Ray' is stolen from a US research base in Australia

    "Australia? is that where I've been all these years? I thought it looked weird; I thought it was the booze!"

    It's a messy, scrappy, film that lurches from one scene to another without much connecting tissue, stupid, OTT slapstick sequences and is one of the funniest things I have seen for a long time. I can't wait to share this one with the kids.

    And it's a musical!

  13. Relative Values - Jeanne Tripplehorne is in it. That was all I needed to know.

AUGUST gets off to a really bum start

  1. The Vampires' Night Orgy (1973) - A bus full of people on their way to a remote employment get trapped in a deserted village when their bus driver dies. Spanish vampire / ghoul rubbish which I baled out of after 30 minutes because it was as dull as hell.

  2. L'Ennui - a depressed French philosophy professor has an affair with a young girl - which I baled out of after 60 minutes because it was as dull as hell. One of those art house films which endlessly lurch from one unconvincing overly-analytical conversation or monologue about sex / love / boredom / despair / existential angst / freedom (sometimes all in the same sentence - sometimes / and /or during sex) to another - all in that fairytale intellectual Paris setting of overly huge flats with ceiling-high book cases.
    The girl had a nice bum though which kept me hanging around a little longer than I would have otherwise given it.

  3. The Return of Captain Invisible (1983) - again. I herded my daughters into room and made them sit down and watch it with me. They loved it. Half way through Number One Daughter turned to me and said, "Dad, they just filmed the inside of your head, didn't they?" which I took as a great compliment.

  4. Planet of the Apes (1967) - with Number 2 daughter who dug it.

  5. Sleeper - my annual attempt to find out what the hell it is people find interesting/funny/watchable in Woody Allen's films.
    Despite some very dated references - like the Nixon ones - this one is still as silly and fun as I remember.

    My 14 year old boy liked it too.

  6. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011) - I remember the first one being awful but this one was even awfuller. Laughably bad. Daughter Number 2 and I were in fits of giggles all the way through as one overcooked cliché after another thudded onto the screen.
    And it went on forever. For a film with practically no plot. It just went on and on and on.

    Some great locations - the Turkish Tourist Board must have had their hands full with this production, one halfway decent joke with a Hostess Twinkie (not very well delivered), and Idris Elba almost looking like he believed his lines - but dear gods! the rest of it was shite. One to avoid.

  7. Focus (2015) - Margo Robbie and Will Smith (both easy on the eye) are conpeople. I like conman movies but they are a bugger to get right. Pile on too many twists and turns and you over egg the pudding and it starts jumping sharks - don't provide enough and it leaves the audience unsatisfied, expecting more. This one almost gets away with it but it won't linger long in my memory. Still a shedload better than Now You See Me though.

    One sequence though threw me completely out of the movie. There's a scene in which our two protagonists are sat at a roadside cafe table with pedestrians passing. Alternating matching OTS (Over the Shoulder) shots in turn of each. The passing pedestrians were too close to the actors. They became too noticeable. An obvious, brightly dressed extra would appear walking across the frame towards the camera in one shot, just clear frame and then disappear on the cut and not be walking away from the camera as you would expect in the reverse angle. I'd bet a lot of the money that the editor was not a very happy chappy cutting that scene.

  8. Batman Returns - which was the first DVD to hand that didn't, on the surface, seem to require any intellectual input from me (I'd had a very long day; I just needed something as stupid as I felt to watch).

    Given my usual... um... how shall I put it? 'aggressive indifference' to Tim Burton's movies I wasn't surprised to find I hadn't seen it before. Of all his films I've seen to date only Ed Wood had wowed me. What did surprise me though, given my aggressive indifference, was how much fun this film was. I loved it. Some genuinely funny stuff going on. It has, at a single bound, leapt to being my third favourite Batman film. The 1966 version, the animated Batman Vs. Two-Face then this.


  1. Kin-dza-dza! -with daughter number 2 (she for the first time me for the third or fourth) I still have no idea what it's about and she couldn't help. One of these days I will find a better copy than the pillar-boxed (and - I hope! - clumsily translated) copy I currently own. Maybe it will make more sense with the sides on and legible subtitles.

  2. Idiocracy (a rewatch - not as funny as I remember but I knew what to expect this time)

  3. Rumble in the Bronx - Daughter Number Two and I could watch Jackie Chan hitting people with furniture all day and not get bored.

  4. Alien - with Daughter Number 2 - who is leaving to go to college at the end of the week! Boo hoo! - and I are frantically watching stuff that we've been meaning to watch together for ages before she has to go. She'd never seen Alien before (and it's been many years since I have) her opinion: it holds up incredibly well. She is familiar with the outlines of the story and the character of Ripley etc. (anyone growing up with the amount of comic con / geek culture she has been exposed to could hardly avoid knowing even if only by osmosis) but loved the look and the atmosphere and the time spent on character - 'a great scary movie'.

  5. Spider-Man : Once Upon a Time the Super Heroes - (originally De Superman à Spider-Man: L'aventure des super-héros) A bland, pretty uninformative, whistle stop through the history of American superheroes. I.E. Superman & Batman, and Spiderman (with vague mentions of the Flash and Captain America, Daredevil and the X-Men) which fails to tell anyone who knows even the slightest bit about American Superhero comics anything. For one thing there is hardly any mention of any women; characters or creators. One mention of Marie Severin (over a static library photo) and one or two passing mentions of Wonder Woman and that's pretty much it. And watching this you wouldn't get the idea that there were any Black or Asian superhero characters either. Mention is made that Marvel's business model in the 60s involved keeping up with current events and trends - artists were admonished not to make their comics look like thay had been drawn ten years ago - so things like student unrest on the campuses was incorporated into story lines, as well as drug use, but where was the Civil Rights movement? Where were the Black characters who were invented in response? The Black Panther, The Falcon, Luke Cage? Nowhere. Not even in the endless rostrum camera panning and scanning of the endless number of comic book covers that seemed to take up 50% of the films running time. (Though artist Jim Lee turns up as a talking head so we know comics weren't only created by old White men.)

    On the upside it was interesting to see the likes of Lee, Mike Kaluta, Joe Kubert, Carmine Infantino, and Dave Gibbons talking - names I know from their signatures on their art but couldn't put a face to before now (even if what they had to say most of the time wasn't very informative)


  1. The Thing from Another World (1951) watched with Number One Son who, at the tender age of 14, doesn't like modern scary movies or horror. His sisters would have been happily watching eyeball popping slasher movies by his age - Number One Daughter was heavily into Cronenberg's movies - this is just about his limit. I love the fast paced talkiness and generosity of the script which doles out the heroics and inventiveness to characters almost at random; sometimes leaving the nominal hero scrabbling to catch up as his crew and the scientists identify, and come up with solutions to, problems before he can work out what's going on.

  2. Guardians (2017) - Here's how I think this movie happened. Some Russian oligarch's youngest son watched a couple of the Avengers Movies, thought, " I could do that!" and spent his pocket money for the next three weeks finding out he couldn't.

    It is beyond terrible.

    Shedloads of CGI, tons of bombastic music and a script that looks like it was ripped straight from the pages of some1980s self-published, black and white, piece of shit comic from Wyoming. (Have a scroll through for some choice examples.)

    The Plot: Soviet era superheroes are reunited by a SHIELD like organisation to fight big nasty guy who everyone thought was dead but isn't and can now control machines. (The onscreen backstory/briefing lecture we got took a lot longer to say that but that's what they meant.)

    Finding the disbanded heroes that no one has seen for years and someone has randomly decided is the only way of stopping our villain (whoever he is) is stupidly easy. It takes SHEILDSKI's assembled fashion models in black Lycra (lead by a blonde, expressionless plank of wood) minutes to scroll through newspaper archives on their transparent CGI monitors - hell one of the missing heroes is working as a high profile circus performer in Moscow. How hard was that? There can't be that many women who can become invisible in the former Soviet Union territories.

    The other members of the team are Asian Guy who can move REALLY FAST (and, because he's Asian, knows Kung-Fu and ends every fight in a crouched, down on one knee manga pose), Big Hairy Guy (who is a scientist and lives in a shack in the woods because he turns into a BEAR and can't control himself - not the Hulk - not Wolverine somewhere between the two: 'Hulkerine'?) Hulkerine is secretly in love with SEETHRU GIRL who has lost her memory from some never-explained reason and is getting more and more bearlike every time he transforms. Towards the end of the movie he goes the whole way and transforms into a humongous bear (with an automatic, thought-controlled machine gun strapped to his back). How he gets his pants back after running around like that for a while is a mystery the film doesn't even think to question.

    And bringing up the rear, lonely older guy who has telekinetic abilities - confined to rocks. He can telepathically control rocks. That's his power - Rocks. That and the ability to recite the whole of the Lord's Prayer with his back to the camera in his establishing scene. (WHY???) Later in the movie, having realised there might not always be a ready supply of small rocks to hand for him to telepathically control, SHIELDSKI makes him a costume.... with a pile of rocks built in.

    So heroes get whupped. A lot. The world is doomed because big nasty guy has an army of clones and has moved some important piece of Soviet Era Moscow architecture to another bit of Moscow because he needs a really big tower to act as an antenna to control some hitherto unmentioned Cold War, Reagan-era Star Wars space lasers to... erm... something... I'm sure the writers would have come up with a reason for all this but OH NO! the end of the movie was coming up sooner than they were expecting (or the budget was running out even faster) because suddenly a plot rabbit is pulled out the magic plot top hat and somehow, for some reason, the defeated heroes can combine their powers!

    Sadly they didn't do a Supermegatron Rangers Combino-Powerbot thing and become a Huge, Rock Throwing, Invisible, Kung-Fu Bear but merely gripped each other's shoulders and did some superhero constipation grimace acting before unleashing a bolt of pure high octane CGI at the villain several miles away. (My bet is on the budget was running out.)

    Lots of stuff blew up.

    Heroes get to stand and look noble while Nikitachka Furi (AGENT OF SHEILDSKI) gets to deliver a line-promising a sequel.

    Well that was another 33 pence well wasted in the '3 discs for a quid' pile at my local charity shop.

  3. The Adventures of Buckeroo Banzaii Across the Eighth Dimension - for the umpteenth time. Sharing it this time with Number One Son, who hadn't seen it before and got it.

  4. Puma Man (MST3K)

  5. Untamed Youth (MTS3K) Both with No 1 Son. Both terrible films but Untamed Youth had the slight disadvantage of being a little more than boring. Joel and the Bots were really having to work hard to find material to play with.

  6. The Black Scorpion (MST3K) Pretty dull monster creepy crawly movie with far far above average SFX. Willis O'Brien put a lot more effort and care into animating the scorpion monsters than the film was worth.


  1. Octoman - very dull 1971 Creature From The Black Lagoon wannabee that went on and on and on and on. And then on. Jeff 'The Giant Claw' Morrow's name was on the credits to add some B movie heft but appeared in only one scene before disappearing from the plot. Obviously low budget, but if you are shooting a movie mostly set at night you would have thought someone would have coughed up for the hire of a couple of lights and a generator.

    I have a winner! No really! It makes The Room look good!

    Sitting comfortably?

  2. Double Down (2005). I'm only 35 minutes into it and I Know I KNOW that this is it. This IS the worst film I have ever seen. For the first fifteen minutes producer / writer / actor / director / editor / production designer / production manager / casting director and music director Neil Breen does nothing but wander around in a desert landscape in jeans and an undershirt. (His is the only name on the opening credits.)

    Sometimes our 'star' stops wandering around bits of Nevada that don't quite look like those rocks from Star Trek, climbs into his Mercedes and drives to a different piece of desert, driving past the same human skull lying in the ground to show it is a desert - "Couldn't get you a cow skull, Neil, got you a human one. Will that do?". Sometimes he types on two laptops and two cell phones at once while wearing surgical gloves, then he poisons some fish.

    In between all this pointless wandering (which was probably shot in a day) there is a lot of stock footage. Some of the stock footage makes very little sense in context. Some of it almost does. All the time a monotonous, never ending, badly-delivered back story is dribbled into our ears about how this pathetic figure is an international soldier of fortune with wizzo computer skills who could bring down governments if he wanted to.

    An international man of mystery who lives in a car, eats tuna out of the tin while driving, and gives away all the millions he makes renting his skills out to anyone who will pay him (while "supporting our troops") to children's homes and helping the victims of natural disasters. He is bitter and cynical because years ago 'they' killed the love of his life. (Cue flashback of middle-aged man actor snuggling up to much younger actress in the world's most uncomfortably awkward nude scene - eeeew! a single shot rings out.) This maybe a dream sequence. (The whole movie may be a dream sequence!)

    The pacing is leaden!

    VO: "I'm constantly changing my identity."

    Cut to: 30 second locked off wide shot of him changing the rear number plate of his car.

    Cut to: 10 second slow pan right, down angle on the junk in the boot of his car.

    Cut to: 15 second long shot of his climbing into car and driving - camera pans left and the shot is held far too long after the car is out of sight. (The second time this shot has been used.)

    Cut to: 35 second wide shot of a public toilet with the desert in the background - car draws up background left, he gets out of the car, shoes and a bundle of clothes in hand, and slowly walks into the toilet. Jump cut. He exits toilet in black trousers and blue shirt and slowly walks back to the car, gets in, and reverses right out of frame.

    Cut to: 6 second (stock footage?) "Welcome to Las Vegas" road-sign.

    Cut to: Camera car footage in front of Mercedes showing Mercedes driving down Las Vegas street. The number plate on the front of the Mercedes matches the one we saw him take off five shots ago!

    International man of mystery identity changing action at its finest!

    This is genius stuff.

    I did point out to myself at this point that this is not, technically, a continuity error. We only saw him take the back numberplate off his car. He might have left the front one unchanged to confuse people. (It confused me.)

    At the 25 minute mark we get the first 'dialogue' of the movie. In a extreme long shot taken, I would hazard a guess, without obtaining a permit and from the back of a car parked across the street, our hero walks his bald spot to meet someone outside Caesar's Palace. Their conversation is played out in one shot close ups with up angles that show only only sky behind them. These could have been shot anywhere; out in the middle of the desert, in the crew's motel car park, anywhere. None of the towering Las Vegas scenery we've just watched being established is anywhere in sight.

    With a budget-saving line of dialogue about not wanting to go into Grey Suit's "office buildings because I know they're all bugged -- not to mention the skeletons that are in there" they stand outside and 'talk'.

    Grey Suit is from 'The Agency' He needs hero man's help because blah blah evil terrorist attack planned "chemical biological, the worst kind, that will take out half of Las Vegas strip in one week". (Whether the attack is going to take place in one week, or the attack, once it had taken place, will take a week to kill half the strip is open to interpretation. I'm pretty sure the guy who delivered the line had no idea either way.)

    Hero man delivers long irrelevant speech about nuclear weapons being the least of people's worries.

    The page on "Establishing an Eyeline" was missing from the director's copy of The Idiot's Guide to Movie Making Colouring Book.

    After a long montage of Las Vegas nightlife - I mean LONG...... with a couple of insert shots of black clad terrorist types doing preparing terrorist things - we get to see our hero wake up by the side of his car back at the desert location he drove away from earlier, dressed as he was before we had the "I'm constantly changing my identity." sequence - and the car's rear numberplate is back to the one he took off. Hot dang! He's good! I wonder who he is now? (And does he still smell of tuna?)

    He gets "GPS directions" over his laptop. He goes to... somewhere and, gun in hand, sees an old silver haired bearded man who "doesn't look like a terrorist" sitting in a hole in the rock. The old man falls over. There is blood all over his head. Hero man helps him up. There is no blood anywhere on his head. (Now that IS a continuity error.)

    "I was drawn to him - I felt I knew his spirit!"

    Old man dies while giving Hero something that looks like a chunk of iron pyrites. Hero makes pile of rocks that's supposed to be a grave over the old geezer's body but looks as if it would just about cover a Barbie doll. (There's a heavenly choir singing in the background.) Stock footage of an American Eagle looking confused as the audience. Hero man pats rocks on the Tomb of the Unknown Character as his voice over tells us: "I am your spirit." He climbs a hill. Stares into the sun. Stock footage Eagle (Again). "I am your spirit." (Again.)

    Stock footage of homeless looking bearded man feeding pigeons on some large urban church entrance.

    I think this is supposed to be symbolic. Of something.

    Hero wakes up beside his car again.

    "I'm so alone!"

    There is blood on the side of the car.

    "But never lonely."

    Kneeling Agonised shouting: "Where are you? Where are you? Whaere are youuuuu?" Cut To Kneeling at a graveside in a well tended cemetery. Cut to: meets his white clad Mom and Dad on the side of a lake and asks them if there is an afterlife... "I need to know... I need to know..."

    I need a rest....


  1. Black Dragons - A 1942 Bela Lugosi cheapo in which he played a Nazi plastic surgeon killing American industrialist 5th columnists who he had surgically duplicated from Japanese fanatics. Pretty routine stuff. Though "He injected me with an insidious serum that transformed me into the hideous monster you see before you !" is not a line I'm going to forget in a hurry.

  2. Shock (1946) - A psychiatrist takes charge of a young woman who has fallen into a state of catatonic shock after having witnessed a murder. A murder he committed.

    I'd guess this minor noir was riding on the coat tales of Hitchcock's Spellbound of the previous year - there was a very Hitchcocky feel to some of it. Nice performance from Vincent Price as the troubled guilt-ridden psychiatrist (though he didn't have much competition, the rest of the cast were pretty limp), off the shelf 40s noir lighting with one standout set up in front of a fireplace and a not badly done little nightmare dream sequence which, for one moment had me convinced I'd found a very early rack focus shot (what was the first use of this? I must find out) but I quickly saw that it was the character stood in front of a back projection of a zoom shot.

    The plot resolved with a couple of characters jumping to conclusions out of nowhere and rushing to the rescue. But on the whole far better than I was expecting. The sort of interesting second feature Val Lewton was producing at RKO - but just not as good.

  3. Cat People - bloody awful, overlong, over sexualised, over everythinged needless remake of a bloody genius minor little chiller. I love the original. It's creepy, understated, low budget film making at its finest. They implied, and disguised, and hid all the stuff that they couldn't afford to show - and made it all the more creepy because of it. This was just painful to watch. Everything in your face and when all else fails jump scare the audience awake again. Some of the gags from the original were just shoehorned in because.... they were in the original? The indoor swimming pool scene, the hand dragged down the material leaving scratches, the bus (one of THE great jump scares of all time) all were just so badly done it made me wonder why they had bothered.

  4. The Corpse Vanishes - MST3K version with #1 Son. Which apparently I hadn't seen before. I could have sworn I had but somehow I had it swapped in my head with another Bela Lugisi film, Scared to Death which is narrated by a corpse.

    With the unerring eye for random connections my film watching habits throw up, I recognised actress playing the countess in this cheapo mad doctor flick as the same actress who had the memorable "my sister" one line appearance in the original Cat People - the bloody awful remake of which I watched last night.


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