Archive for July, 2011

"I won't be your bitch; I'll be a she-wolf!"

Wilczyca

(Actual quote.)

Poland’s Wilczyca (The She-Wolf, 1983) is a solid werewolf film from a country not known for its horror cinema. One of a very few movies to portray a werewolf as a real wolf, rather than an actor in furry makeup, Wilczyca succeeds best the further it gets from its main story thread. But by mishandling the relationship between its main characters, Wilczyca falls maddeningly short of being the classic it ought to have been.

(And then there’s the dog. But let’s not go into that…)

A bomb? Oh, bother!

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JET STORM (1959)

In which we find out that the British do disaster movies…just a little differently.

Richard Attenborough heads an ensemble cast as Ernest Tilley, a man literally maddened by grief when his young daughter is killed by a hit-and-run driver. After a two-year search, Ernest finally tracks down and corners the man responsible, meaning to take a full revenge on him. And if that requires blowing up a plane and killing not only the guilty party but himself, his own wife, and everybody else on board, well, so be it.

Fortunately, however, the plane is under the command of Stanley Baker; and if a man is capable of taking on the entire Zulu nation, he should certainly be up to the task of dealing with a deranged Dickie Attenborough – right?

Maybe…

I confess – I liked it

Confessions Of A Psycho CatSo what do you do if you want to rip off The Most Dangerous Game, but you are limited with your funds and other resources? Simply do what the makers of Confessions Of A Psycho Cat did – make the movie so goofy that the audience will sit through the slow and badly made parts of the movie in order to see what craziness you’ll soon pull out next.

Under the sea, under the sea…

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Just some housekeeping, folks, while I battle a killer work deadline and an even more killer dose of the flu…

I have revised, reformatted and added screenshots to AMPHIBIAN MAN (1962)damn; it’s been ages since I watched this, and I’d almost forgotten how good it is! – and reformatted and added screenshots to MONSTER FROM THE OCEAN FLOOR (1954), which…isn’t quite as good, but does have its moments.

Sort of. Kind of. If you tilt your head and squint…

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Stop! Hammertime…

Some non-Hammer stuff, too, but yeah.  Mainly Hammer:

 

The Cyclops (1956), in which a rescue party finds the guy they were looking for, but he’s in no condition to be brought home…

Five Million Years to Earth (1967), in which there are fossil ape-men, a buried spaceship, paleolithic ghosts, trans-temporal possession, grasshoppers from Mars, and a huge psionic outer-space bug-devil, but those jackasses from the Ministry of Defense don’t believe in any of it…

The Old Dark House (1963), in which a teamup no one ever thought to ask for yields results nobody would want…

Paranoiac (1962), in which any one-line synopsis I might devise would just be rendered obsolete within fifteen minutes anyway…

The Phantom Carriage (1921), in which dying at midnight on New Year’s Eve is almost as bad an idea as fixing the world’s agriest drifter’s overcoat…

[REC] (2007), in which those TV people did say they were hoping for something exciting to happen…

The Reptile (1966), in which were-snakes and their fathers make crappy next-door neighbors…

and…

The Stranglers of Bombay (1959), in which “Thug Life” has an altogether different meaning.
 
 
 

Asian Film Fest

SHAOLIN 

Me and Benny Chan go back a ways, and our relationship has been stormy. Some of his directorial efforts, like Who Am I and Big Bullet, I really like. Others, like New Police Story and Gen Y Cops, I really dislike. So I guess I come out even enough that when Chan makes a new movie, I figure I might as well see it. Shaolin, Chan’s first stab at a big budget period epic, is in a way the ultimate Benny Chan film for me in that I really liked about half of it and really didn’t like about half of it. It’s a movie that seems specifically designed to highlight both his strengths and weaknesses as a director.

KARATE ROBO ZABORGAR 

Karate Robo Zaborgar presented me with the sort of soul-searching conflict that often plagues those of us who worry about the higher philosophical questions in life. On the one hand, it was a presumably loving spoof of one of my favorite genres — the old “tokusatsu” superhero shows of the 1970s, with their karate cyborgs, fringed jeans, motorcycle helmets, random explosions in rock quarries, and theme songs dominated by jazzy trumpets. On the other hand, I watched a similar movie last year — Takashi Miike’s Yatterman — and still consider it one of the worst, most unenjoyable movies I’ve seen in the better part of a decade. My bottomless disdain for Yatterman comes despite the fact that I generally like Miike as a director. Karate Robo Zaborgar, by contrast, was directed by Noboru Iguchi, a director who has yet to make a movie I didn’t dislike. His stock in trade is slapstick splatter send-ups of popular Japanese genres, but done with such juvenile laziness and awkward, ill-realized timing that what should have been outrageous comes across merely as tedious.

ME, YOU AND ZU 

I really should write a full review of Tsui Hark’s landmark Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain, but until that happens, I wanted to pop in with a few random thoughts and reminiscences inspired by watching it this past weekend at the New York Asian Film Festival. The festival this year was honoring director-producer Tsui Hark, so the line-up was pretty heavy on Hark films — all of which I’d seen before, and all of which I would gladly have watched again.

THE KILLING OF SATAN 

Given its title, I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to reveal that, at the end of The Killing of Satan, Lando does indeed appear to kill Satan. This presumably means that he has vanquished evil from the Earth, which, if you’re a Catholic, I think means that people don’t even swear of masturbate anymore. Still, The Killing of Satan refuses to dwell on the ramifications of the act, instead going for the old Shaw Brothers freeze frame soon after the battle’s conclusion. Has Lando given Beelzebub the death punch once and for all? Or will The Beast return to again walk the Earth? Either way, with a guy like Lando around, we’re always just a “pew pew pew!” away from salvation.

A losing movie

Our Winning SeasonAfter the early ’70s, things made an interesting turn inside American-International Pictures. Company head Samuel Z. Arkoff slowed down considerably in the movies he personally produced, relying more on pickups made by others. And the product A.I.P. was releasing started to have appearances of movies the company had shown little to no interest before – movies that were more serious in nature. There was the Annie Hall rip-off Something Short Of Paradise, the teen drama California Dreaming, and the movie being reviewed here, the teen drama Our Winning Season. Was Arkoff striving for respectability at this point? Who knows.