Die, Monster, Die! (1965 USA)

The original script for this adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out Of Space was so bad, written by Jerry Sohl, that the crew behind the camera could not stop giggling. At one point, actress Freida Jackson, wailed: “I can’t speak these lines. They’re unspeakable!” So director Daniel Haller had to rework the narrative mess. Despite his surgery, unintentional laughter remains. During an absurdly tense meal time scene, a servant collapses to the floor–taking the tablecloth and cutlery with him. Inspector Clouseau couldn’t have done it better.
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A View To A Kill (1985 United Artists)

All James Bond films are too long as the only segments that the public really wants to see are the women (who sometimes disappoint), the gadgets and the stunts/chases. Please don’t complain about the acting, script, plot development, music, etc… All of these elements are by-the-numbers in all Bond movies. The gist is how serious a particular 007 film takes itself, and if the pretentiousness this time around is overwhelming. In his goodbye performance, Roger Moore manages to remarkably combine all the best elements of his previous Bond movies, and comes up with a perfect way to leave behind Bond and Her Majesty’s Secret Service. [Read more…]

While The City Sleeps (1956 USA)

Fritz Lang’s second to last American feature is one of his most cynical pieces of work, consisting of two plot threads deftly coiled together to create an ironic whole. When media mogul, Amos Kyne, dies his playboy son takes over the seat of power. But, knowing he is unable to manage such an organization, he decides to create an executive directorship just below his role to do all the real work and manage the company day by day. Meanwhile, a maniac–‘The Lipstick Killer’– is stalking the city, strangling young women in their homes. [Read more…]

Dr Who – Planet Of Evil (1975 UK)

This adventure is the start of moving the series onward from the Earth based, UNIT adventures into new territory. UNIT had an excellent story Terror of the Zygons, prior to this, with the Brigadier and Benton on top form. But to expand the series scope back out to space was a good move even if it meant sadly phasing out UNIT. But Planet Of Evil is not regarded as a classic story by most Who fans. It rips off 1956’s Forbidden Planet along with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. So it does get rather formulaic in places, but director David Maloney played up Louis Marks script to its main strength: atmosphere. Plus there’s a jungle to get lost in… [Read more…]

The Christmas Train (David Baldacci)

There is something enchanting about a train ride experience. And this is a pleasing Christmas read that takes place on a cross-country train trip from Washington DC to Los Angeles. It has fun settings, train facts and interesting characters. I am really impressed by this story. Reading like an old b& w film, our middle-aged hero wants to gain some peace and encounters romance, mystery, humour and adventure during his soul-searching journey. [Read more…]

The Venture Bros (USA 2003 – )

Some adult cartoons like modern Family Guy just try to disgust their audience to show how “edgy” they are. True, we get into some pretty dark territory with the Venture Bros every now and then, but it never really goes too far. It portrays the characters realistically and never has them try to gross out the viewers. We really do see character development and more of a story go on. Every character has their own quirks, and it’s too hard for me to pick a favourite one. [Read more…]

Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990 USA)

Despite all the naysayers, this sequel has heart. They say it’s just a cold cash-in to exploit the success of the original. But when it comes to warming my chestnuts around Christmas time, I say this is nearly as much fun as Die Hard (1988). The airport is a familiar and charming setting for the film and the inclusion of setting the story during a blizzard is great. Director Renny Harlin does not reach the standards John McTiernan did in the first tale but he delivers enough mayhem to entertain. And the inclusion of Dennis Franz means comedy gold.
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Midsummer Century (James Blish)

The average quality of this work perhaps can be excused by the fact that during the early 70s Blish was chronically ill (he died in 1975 from lung cancer). But unless you are a dedicated fan of Mr Blish, ‘Midsummer’ is best passed over by those looking for memorable works from this era. This book actually contains one novella-length story, “Midsummer Century,” and two short stories: “Skysign” and “A Style in Treason.” In “Midsummer Century,” a scientist troubleshooting a radio telescope, falls (what a surprise!) into the antenna and, due to a construction error, has his consciousness projected 23,000 years into the future. [Read more…]

The End of Eternity (Isaac Asimov)

I’ve never had much time for Asimov, partly because of the media hype that surrounds his name. The problem I have with his writing here is that emotional situations seem to be taken to extremes: going from dry clinical detachment to wildly-in-love, blackmailing, murderous and suicidal, without any sort of in-between. Also, for a supposedly thoughtful and incredibly precise guy, his ability to jump to extreme conclusions based on minimal evidence is very jarring. His style is immature and his characters are flat. They are people who are so superficial and tedious that it is hard to care about any of them. So, lets turn to the plot… [Read more…]

The Dead Pool (1988 USA)

“If you wanna play the game you better know the rules, love.” So sayeth Harry Callahan. Thankfully, director Buddy Van Horn and his team knew how to end the franchise on a high note. This is just as good as its two predecessors. In fact, Sudden Impact and The Enforcer were both pretty lackluster to the point of being almost boring. At least this swansong for Harry has a high degree of pure 80’s trash going for it. You want rock music videos, silly accents, some amusing dialogue, Uzi machine guns ejaculating at glass elevators and even a high speed car chase that involves a toy? With The Dead Pool, you’ve got all that and more.
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