War Gods Of The Deep (1965 UK/USA)

Also known as City Under The Sea but I prefer the above title. Ah, the good old days of sci-fi/fantasy flicks: watching well dressed men sit around sipping Brandy in a study (walnut panelling of course) while the rocket/ship/sub/plane is carrying them to an amazing destination or fate. Taking its theme from an Edgar Allan Poe poem, with an interesting screenplay by Charles Bennett, this fantasy picture packs thrills, weird monsters, a lively pace and fantastic scenarios–all located undersea obviously. The film also seems to be a scrapbook of ideas from other, better, movies like the Roger Corman Poe films, and The Time Machine.
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Ride The River (Louis L’Amour)

A quick yet enjoyable read. Somewhere in the Tennessee hills in 1840, there is a young gal named Echo Sackett and she never wastes a bullet. Whatever this feisty girl aims at – she hits – and can ride and hunt as well as any man. One day a traveling peddler comes across her family name in a newspaper. Upon reading it, Echo decides to travel to Philadelphia because the newspaper reveals there is an inheritance waiting for the youngest living Sackett. Arriving in Philadelphia, however, Echo discovers that a greedy lawyer never intended the article to reach Tennessee, let alone hand the rightful heir the money. A kindly, old lawyer becomes involved and after attaining about three grand and a ruby in a box, Echo undertakes a perilous journey home with thieves and murderers constantly shooting at her or stealing her bag. But these legal shysters and evil doers do not know who they are dealing with…

Amid all the horse riding, stagecoach hopping, stream rolling, canoeing, and in between shooting off bad guys’ ears, Echo develops a crush on the kindly lawyer’s nephew, who has come along attempting to help her reach home safely. Echo shows us all that she is certainly capable of making it on her own, and with her sense of humour intact too. The only thing I didn’t like was the prose. Whereas I understand the use of uneducated prose when people are actually speaking, I found it unnecessary when Echo was simply narrating. This is a refreshing adventure that pits a small Sackett female against a bunch of big men a couple of decades before the Civil War. Neither city slickers nor run-of-the-mill woodsmen are going to steal from this mountain girl! Old fashioned fun but the two page ending is pretty abrupt. 🙂

The Secret Of Terror Castle ( The Three Investigators #1) by Robert Arthur

First published in the mid 1960’s, this mystery/adventure series of approximately forty books were written for 8-15 years olds and would be hard to beat if you want to find thrilling and original tales that don’t talk down to kids. Some of the plots pertain to ghosts, whispering mummies, talking skulls and other spooky or eerie themes although the stories always climax in some scheme in which a band of thieves, rustlers, con men or other non-supernatural element are attempting to snatch a lost or hidden treasure. I loved reading them as a child, and find that after all these years, they are still entertaining and packed with adventure.  [Read more…]

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (Joan Aiken)

 

Set in an alternative 1832 where the monarch is James III (implying that the House of Hanover never came to the throne) and wolves have entered England during a bad winter by crossing the Channel Tunnel (not opened in our reality until 1994). Unlike the children’s books of today – this was first published in the early 1960s – the whole thing proceeds at a rip-roaring pace with very little build-up. There are a number of other books in the series, all set in the same alternate history but I don’t know if all the characters are the same in each. [Read more…]

The Assassination Bureau (1969 United Kingdom)

‘The Assassination Bureau Ltd.’ was an incomplete novel by Jack London. The 1969 film version was produced by Michael Relph and directed by Basil Dearden. Crusading journalist Sonya Winter (Diana Rigg) uncovers the existence of a secret society of hired assassins operating at the turn of the 19th century. Their founder is cocksure Russian nobleman Ivan Dragomiloff (Oliver Reed). He is hired by Sonya to murder…himself. Feeling the Bureau to have become complacent, he accepts the challenge. Sounds like quite an ominous plot!
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Spectre (2015 United Artists)

The Sam Smith theme tune is s**t, obviously, but the rest of Spectre is quite superior to most other 007 entries in the long and tortuous franchise going back to before most of us were even born. Heck, this may even be my favourite. If you’ve wanted a Bond film that successfully merges Craig’s gritty Casino Royale, with all the old school touches, look no further. Director Sam Mendes tries to create massive story-arcs that span 4 films! Adding to that he attempts to weigh in on Bond’s steely personality, giving him a back-story that almost turns him into Bruce Wayne. (Don’t laugh) In modern parlance, this is some deep s**t. [Read more…]

The Island At The Top Of The World (1974 USA)

A fun and forgettable family adventure film that passes the time amiably enough. There’s nothing here that’s controversial, just one old-fashioned adventure after another, and thankfully it’s not as twee as I’d feared given its Disney pedigree. This is one of the better-regarded of the Disney studio’s live-action efforts, particularly among those made following Walt’s death. It’s a fantasy adventure on Jules Verne lines; actually, the film coincided with the somewhat similar (and equally good) The Land That Time Forgot (1975). [Read more…]

The Lord of the Rings: The Twin Towers (2002 New Zealand/USA)

So the journey continued with ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.’ This review will assume you have seen the first film, ‘The Fellowship of the Ring.’ Which is fine because Peter Jackson, at the helm of this massive production, assumes you have seen it as well. Intelligently, Jackson does not begin with a redundant and unnecessary prologue. He dives right into what the filmmakers considered the hardest segment of the trilogy to make.  [Read more…]

The Sword In The Stone (1963 Walt Disney)

A wonderful classic story, told in typical Disney style while Walt was still alive, and filled with great songs and beautiful animation, how could anyone not fall in love with The Sword in the Stone? The 18th animated Disney outing is a very relaxing movie to watch. In any animation, you want humour and emotion, and this film has plenty of both. Most of the humour comes from Sir Ektor (voice of Sebastian Cabot) and Archimedes (voice of Junius Matthews), but Merlin (voice of Karl Swenson) had some truly delicious lines. I just love Archimedes, he is absolutely hilarious, and still manages to be likable, despite being very grumpy.  [Read more…]

Live And Let Die (1973 United Artists)

LALDYou’ll have a rucking good time watching a clown in a tuxedo, I mean Britain’s most famous spy, in his 8th adventure. Buttocks will be kicked and maybe even some names taken in vain. Mix in some racial tension and viola! An above average Bond flick. This time it feels smaller scale and slightly less over the top although it has the action comedy tone which would define the Roger Moore era. Ludicrous yet rooted in the real world and centred on a very real issue rather than the usual world domination or diamond lasers. Director Guy Hamilton manages to get the tone just right. This was a stark change to the usual proceedings: Roger Moore’s debut is about voodoo, the supernatural and the majority of the cast are black people.  [Read more…]

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