Magnum Force (1973 USA)

Just in case the viewer gets carried away, or the protagonists on the screen, Harry earnestly repeats throughout Magnum Force that “a man’s got to know his limitations” and “there’s nothing wrong with shooting, as long as the right people get shot.” So bullets in bare breasts are acceptable, because the topless ladies in a swimming pool or nudes stoned at “$900 an ounce,” reinforce the morality: people who take off their clothes may have been asking for it. There’s also a gratuitous murder of a prostitute, climaxed with a shot of her killer’s face grinning through her spread legs. If that’s not offensive enough, in a dvd extra from the copy I have, shady-looking script writer, John Milius, suggests that Italians are not real Americans. [Read more…]

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The Jungle Book (2016 USA)

Too much CGI can go stale very fast if the story cannot keep up. The seams will start to show and the minutes will turn to hours. Looking at all the frames of The Jungle Book, other than Neel Sethi as Mowgli, everything is wall-to-wall CGI. But the sense of story is so compelling I lost myself totally in this world. I was awestruck by the level of visual details of each creature that occupies the screen. The facial expressions mirroring its running gamut of emotions, the physical movements of each animal, the pitch-perfect voicing – who wouldn’t believe they possess a human soul? Jon Favreau really cemented his directing skills with this film.
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Prison Girls (1972 USA)

A bunch of female inmates get a weekend pass from St Helena prison. These jail birds are supposed to go out into the real world to secure jobs for when they are released. But they prefer tracking down their husbands and boyfriends to get it on. If you don’t mind the stench of some slightly grainy, slightly unclean cinematography on display then you may enjoy one of the greatest ever shower scenes to be put on celluloid. After Norman Bates and Marion Crane’s one of course. Anyway, how can I be rude about a flick that kicks off with a six-way (count em) cat fight? The 94 minutes pass like three hours but I can forgive that. We’re talking broads who are buck nekkid here so obviously this post is NSFW. (Just kidding)
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Lust For A Vampire (1971 United Kingdom)

This has one of the most ludicrous plots ever: a girl’s finishing school is positioned next door to notorious vampire haven, Karnstein Castle, like some heaven sent butcher’s shop. For it to succeed as a sensual erotic horror, Lust For A Vampire required a far more nuanced approach than an inexperienced director like Jimmy Sangster (despite being a talented and prolific writer) was able to give. Sangster’s approach was to ladle on the Gothic silliness in the opening scenes, relying on the frequent female nudity to distract viewers from the script’s sillier aspects. Plus lifting his visual flair from the continental horror directors of that era.
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Hell Is For Heroes (1962 USA)

Steve McQueen was striving to make it big in Hollywood and used the force of his ego to position himself as the star here. This didn’t endear him to the picture’s original director Robert Pirosh, who also wrote the screenplay. McQueen’s insistence on rewriting scenes and placing himself in the center of the action spoiled Piroff’s vision of a fighting unit that worked together with no single individual standing out. McQueen got Pirosh fired, and Don Siegel was hired with McQueen’s approval to take over. Siegel knew how to stroke McQueen’s fragile psyche, and in some cases, simply agreed to some of McQueen’s suggestions then did his own thing. If you keep a close eye on Private Reese (McQueen), this sense of embittered self confidence pervades his character throughout the story. He’s right even when he’s wrong. [Read more…]

From Beyond The Grave (1974 Britain)

A four part story film with more resonance than its predecessors. The success of this Amicus portmanteau is the unusually strong and well-integrated story, with a Yorkshire – voiced Peter Cushing enjoying himself as the sinister proprietor of ‘Temptations Antiques.’ Situated between a cemetery and a nearby demolition contractor this is a most curious of curiosity shops. Cushing’s duffel coat and cloth cap appearance seems like just another part of the shop’s antiquated décor. But mind how you treat him if you want to buy some of his object d art. Even the one honest customer who goes in has to endure a highly unpleasant experience! [Read more…]

Frenzy (1972 United Kingdom)

“Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square” by Arthur La Bern is not a novel I’ve read so I can’t say if this is better or worse than the printed page its based upon. All I do know is sometime in 1971 Alfred Hitchcock came back to dear old Blighty to do it to his audience one more time. And here he dons the chef’s apron to serve us up a classic of cheap and nasty: forced sex, murder and food. I wonder what Hitchcock’s wife and family thought of Frenzy. “That’s…lovely dear…” They probably reacted the way any family would if the patriarch had just been arrested in your local brothel. Yep. Frenzy is red light entertainment all the way! [Read more…]

Lock Up (1989 USA)

(Living the dream. Sly’s got a new boyfriend and some cat food. Talk about Mr Hollywood!) Frank Leone (Sylvester Stallone) is a saint. Literally. He has to do time in the big house for avenging the brutal beating of an elderly man. And he’ll only break out of prison if there’s a funeral for a loved one, or the old man that he avenged. Then back to his cell he will go like a good ‘un. Heck, when he has any free time he even spends it with his kids. And not even his blonde girlfriend, looking on approvingly, can stop him. Not a racist bone in his body either, but as an Italian stallion, he can see through those racist Anglo-Saxon types. Like warden Drumgoole and his guards, Manly and Wylie. These are the bad dudes. Lock Up isn’t subtle. [Read more…]

The Oblong Box (1969 United Kingdom)

Owing virtually nothing to Edgar Allan Poe other than the title, American International Pictures (AIP) did like to insult the public’s intelligence. The critics of the time did not have much enthusiasm for this flick, which is often surprisingly nasty for that era, but I think this has enough entertainment value for at least one viewing. The director, Gordon Hessler, who replaced Michael Reeves after his untimely death, does a good job of making the film into a reasonably compelling narrative, even if he is a little too fond of extreme close-ups.
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The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959 United Kingdom)

No, this is not the Cliff Richard story but that could be an alternate title. TMWCCD is from the era when a film could be made for 84,000 pounds, and look expensive. We have here a tale of an eminent doctor, Georges Bonnet (Anton Diffring, who stepped into the role after Peter Cushing backed out) who dabbles in sculpting. Bonnet is maintaining a pretty big secret: he’s actually a lot older than he looks, managing to stay healthy and youthful looking by a scientific process involving removing glands from unwilling donors. The problem is one can see this was developed from a stage work so the viewer has to be patient. Very patient! [Read more…]

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