The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb (1964 Britain)

The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb is a good-looking film at least, thankfully not having the rushed and made-on-the-quick-and-cheap production values of the Universal Kharis Mummy films. The chilling Hammer atmosphere is present in how the film looks, with the sumptuous Gothic sets, lush photography that does a fine job evoking atmosphere, much tighter editing and rich bold colours. We have the usual well spoken actors, in this case Ronald Howard (the hero)  and Terence Morgan (the villain). The music score is hauntingly stirring, and while this flick is too often dull it really does bring it on home in the final twenty minutes. [Read more…]

A Man For All Seasons (1966 Britain)

This piece of classic cinema is an erudite example of the old Biblical maxim: a man cannot serve two masters. Sir Thomas More, a multi-talented man of letters and law, went to the executioner’s block because he would not recognize a temporal king as head of his country’s church. Though a friend of Henry VIII, and his chancellor, he was more afraid of offending God than the king. A man who took his Catholic faith quite seriously. Robert Bolt’s play ran for 637 performances in the 1961-1963 season on Broadway and the only two who came over from the Broadway cast were Paul Scofield as More and Leo McKern as Thomas Cromwell. [Read more…]

The Wrong Quarry (Quarry #11 by Max Allan Collins)

What is it about “hit man” books that attracts some of us? I suspect it’s the lifestyle, the hunt, the tracking, etc. The Walter Mitty quality of it all. I think it would be great fun — except for the killing part. There I draw the line. Guess I’d be a lousy hit man. For those new to Quarry, he is a hitman with a difference – he is attractive, funny and mixes business with pleasure. (Btw, this tale is set in the early 1980s). You know he is invincible. It’s entertaining, smartly written, not at all challenging fare. Like a McDonalds Happy Meal for Adults. I just had to not read too fast, as I wanted to digest each part without missing anything essential. [Read more…]

Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors (1965 Britain)

The first Amicus anthology movie was a sizeable hit on release, and was also liked by the critics. Producer Milton Subotsky dusted off some scripts he’d had knocking around since the late 1940s, but he didn’t make much of an effort to update them for the swinging 60s.  The linking story sees five seemingly ordinary travellers board a train. A sinister sixth traveller boards the train at the last moment. He carries with him a deck of tarot cards. Each traveller taps the cards three times and their fortunes are told. Unlike later entries in the series where everyone would willingly, without objection, subject themselves to such commitments, this opening film shows characters who have doubts or ridicule the whole thing. [Read more…]

Tau Zero (Paoul Anderson)

Author James Blish considered this book the ultimate hard science fiction novel. There is something to be said for that. Praise indeed… I have rarely read a novel with such rigorous scientific underpinnings. Anderson had a degree in physics and in other novels it is quite clear that he thought about the properties of fictional planets he created. Anderson had a degree in physics and in other novels it is quite clear that he thought about the properties of fictional planets he created. Anderson takes hard science fiction as far as it will go here.
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Rose Red (2002 USA)

Stephen King screen adaptations have become quite a conundrum. He has lambasted most of them for altering characters and flow. King purists stick to the argument that the phenomena and events he describes simply cannot be captured visually. Rose Red represented ABC’s televisual attempt at the horror master’s work. Scripted and executive produced by King, it’s more ironic than terrifying; the only example I’ve seen where the TV/ movie shortcomings orignate from Stephen King’s story rather than the production values or casting. This three part mini-series revolves around a haunted house, named Rose Red, in Seattle. [Read more…]

Some Kind Of Beautiful (2014 USA)

A breezily sentimental romantic comedy in which everybody is hateful to one another. Look past its colourful, smooth surfaces and something corrosive emerges. And it’s not like the film isn’t aware of this. But it doesn’t really know what to do with it. The movie’s well cast, though. Pierce Brosnan plays Richard, a Cambridge English professor who when we first meet him is carrying on his father’s legacy of lecturing to adoring co-eds about the Romantic Age while humping them after class. One of those co-eds, Kate (Jessica Alba), has snared him. [Read more…]

Dune (Frank Herbert)

In order to enjoy Dune you have to enjoy complexity. All authors create little worlds in their stories but Herbert created a world. He puts people on the planets, governments, conflicting cultures, conflicting religions & conflicting ways of life that are thought out to the Nth level above and beyond anything else I’ve ever read. You could write a sociology dissertation on the societal relations Herbert conceived for Dune. Most authors need more than one book in order to tell an epic coming-of-age story. Herbert did it in one. Part of his genius as an author was his ability to imply far more about his world than he actually showed.  [Read more…]

Disclosure (1994 USA)

Plot: A computer specialist is sued for sexual harassment by a former lover-turned boss which threatens his career and personal life. His marriage. His future. It’s all on the line for DigiCom executive Tom Sanders. He rejects the passionate advance of his new boss, leading to him being charged with sexual harassment. Suddenly, long-time company man Tom must scramble for his corporate life – a scramble that will lead him into the dazzling cyberworld of DigiCom’s new virtual reality corridor…and lay bare a shocking conspiracy among key company personnel. Just show us the pictures do I hear ye cry? (Don’t worry, I will) [Read more…]

The Gorgon (1964 United Kingdom)

The Gorgon should be viewed more as a doomed love story featuring a legendary horror character. To call this a horror film is just wrong, and marketing it as such has done the movie few favours over the years. Director Terence Fisher always thought of The Gorgon as one of his best films, and he was right to do so for it’s a hauntingly beautiful piece of work. Definitely one of Hammer’s most visually accomplished efforts. And if anyone dares laugh at the special effects they will be turned to stone! And if you are a connoisseur of facial hair, this one’s for you, Grandma. There are plenty of hairy men on display, frowning impressively. [Read more…]

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