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Run for the Sun (1956)
"It's very quixotic of you Mr Latimer"
A disillusioned writer Michael 'Mike' Latimer is traced by a New York journalist Katherine 'Katie' Connors to a Mexican village on the coast. They take a shine to each other, spend time together, but when she leaves he offers to take her in his monoplane to a big airport. Due to a magnetic error they crash in the middle of the jungle, unfortunately at a place where a couple of Nazis are in hiding. Eventually they discover the identity of their hosts. And then they go on the run to the sun pursued by the Nazis and lots of dogs.
The movie is too long and the chase comes later rather than sooner but it keeps ones' attention partly due to the widescreen and colour cinematography by Joseph LaShelle and partly due to the solid acting from Richard Widmark and Jane Greer. Trevor Howard and Peter van Eyck as the Nazis do the best they can with their underwritten roles. Prolific composer Fred Steiner provides a dramatic music score.
The Return of Dracula (1958)
"You seem so distant somehow"
Dracula comes to small town America. This movie has a lot going for it. There is skilful black and white cinematography by Jack MacKenzie, an appropriate music score by Gerald Fried and atmospheric direction by Paul Landres that makes plausible a vampire in a contemporary milieu. It is surprisingly creepy on a low budget. It is also helped by smooth and sinister Francis Lederer as Dracula and sweet and sassy Norma Eberhardt as Rachel. Their scenes together are the best in the movie.
It was originally called 'The Return of Dracula. but was re-titled poorly as 'The Fantastic Disappearing Man' which makes it sound more like a science fiction story. Whatever it's called it is a fine film and well worth watching.
Warrior of the Lost World (1983)
"Are the meek inheriting the earth?"
A typical post-apocalyptic movie and you can understand why it gets low scores from reviewers but in its favour the locations are good, the vehicles are interesting and the explosions are vibrant. The plot however is insubstantial and the the ending rather silly with a singalong by most of the cast and the out of nowhere suggestion of a sequel (which was never made.) Still any film with cave dwelling mutants, Fred Willamson, a bondage dance troupe, amazons, geeks, Persis Khambatta with hair and Donald Pleasence wearing one black glove can't be a complete waste of time.
Alone in the Neon Jungle (1988)
"I have an affinity for sinking ships"
A female police officer is appointed as the new captain of a precinct in a rough part of Pittsburgh. It's a story done many times before, the new head who has to deal with a group that needs sorting out whether it be commerce or military or any place of work. It does have the advantage of Suzanne Pleshette playing the new captain Janet Hamilton and she is excellent, as she always was in anything she played. A series with her character would have been good but alas it was never made.
Burke & Hare (1972)
"All we did was just...sell him"
This could have been a really good film if only the makers had stuck to following the Burke and Hare characters. Their scenes were full of gallows humour and their rise from being body suppliers to murderers is well told. There is a lot of depth in their story; poverty, desperation, success and failure but also humour and celebration. Unfortunately there are many scenes in a brothel that spoil the mood of the film so what starts out as a fascinating and engrossing story (those woodcuts that illustrated the opening credits were atmospheric) is tarted up with needless sleaze. A movie with a split personality.
Burke and Hare are played faultlessly by Derren Nesbitt and Glynn Edwards (their best performances ever?) and are well supported by Yootha Joyce and Dee Shenderey as their wives. Harry Andrews is splendid too as the dubious Dr. Knox. Fred Wood played 'Gent at Market Stall in Top Hat' to the manner born.
It is a shame it is a film of two parts conflicting with with other. Not so much Burke and Hare but more Jekyll and Hyde
The Haunted House of Horror (1969)
"They were obviously a strange bunch"
About thirty minutes into the film a character says "I'm not scared, I'm bored" and one thought, yes so am I. It doesn't really pick up from there and apart from a couple of gory killings and good house locations it was a slog to sit through. Apparently the film was re-edited and re-shot in parts and that is evident. Moreover the haunted house wasn't haunted and the red herrings were completely obvious as such. The killer's motive was not really clear and came out of nowhere.
It gets a couple of points for good cinematography from Jack Atcheler and the perky performance from pretty Carol Dilworth. The costumes I suppose were cool in 1969 but like all things cool it soon looks outdated if not hilarious. So, no haunted house, no horror. So no entertainment.
Death Trap (1962)
"None of your diddling!"
Carol Halston;s sister apparently committed suicide but Carol is not satisfied. The mystery involves a financial advise Paul Heindrikr, his volatile stepson Derek Maitland, his beautiful secretary Jean Anscomb and an old colleague just out of prison Ross Williams. Det. Insp. Simons shrewdly investigates. Another movie based on an Edgar Wallace story from Merton Park Studios and it's fairly routine with a story that s not compelling and a rushed ending.
There were good performances however from John Meillon as Williams, Albert Lieven as Heindrik, Leslie Sands as Simons of the Yard and the incomparable Barbara Shelley as Jean Anscomb. Richard Bird, unrecognisable under a scruffy beard, has a short but comic scene as local vagrant Ted Cupps.
The Naked Face (1984)
"I am not a dentist or a chiropodist"
A psychotherapist Dr. Judd Stevens realises his life is being threatened but can't understand the reason. He is not helped by two sceptical cops, Lt. McGreavy and Det. Angeli. Several people are killed before he finds out why. The reason long coming in an overlong film is not really plausible and frankly a bit of a letdown. The film ends in a garbage factory which is unintentionally ironic. It should have been better, particularly with that cast.
Rod Steiger as McGreavy over acts, Elliott Gould as Angeli underacts and Roger Moore as Dr Stevens is rather too subdued. Art Carney and Anne Archer are more effective but don't have much screen time. Michael J. Lewis does provide a tense music score which is more dramatic than the story unfolding.
It is not clear why the movie is called 'The Naked Face' but presumably that was made explicit in Sidney Sheldon's original novel.
Omega Cop (1990)
"It's either my hat or one just like it"
Ron Marchini goes post-apocalyptic and in the course of the film saves three attractive women and kills a load of slave traders. And blows up things. It's a routinl film with no surprises but has some felicities,:
1 )The locations are suitably distressed. 2) Adam West though not in it much is good. (His proposal scene actually moved me.) 3) Some hilarious over acting. 4) Tim Russell and Rick Slater who each play a ''Body on Fence' with great aplomb. 5) Meg Thayer obviously.
Apparently there was a sequel called 'Dragon Cop' formerly known as 'Karate Cop'
Lone Tiger (1996)
"Right on time and just as polite as ever"
A Japanese martial artist Chuji Kurenai (aka Tiger) comes to Las Vegas to take revenge on the man who killed his father and gets involved in the illegal fighting racket. A martial arts film of which unfortunately the most boring parts are the martial arts sequences. The romantic pair of Bruce Locke as Tiger and Barbara Niven as Jane Costello is also boring.
It does however have an entertaining cast of villains played by Richard Lynch, Robert Z'Dar, Timothy Bottoms and Stoney Jackson. Not to mention the titanic Matthias Hues as a rather sweet wrestler. Low budget martial art films can be fun but this was a chore to sit through. A sequel was set up but thankfully it never saw the light of day.
The Taking of Beverly Hills (1991)
"Only money climbs that mountain"
A gang of criminals cause a fake chemical spill in Beverley Hills and after the residents are evacuated loot their homes and businesses. A football player Boomer Hayes and a tainted cop Ed Kelvin unite together to foil the nefarious scheme. It starts well building up the characters and the situations then it proceeds to be rather silly. There is lots of noisy action to keep one watching but that's about it. The heroes are bland and the robbers equally so except of course for Robert Davi as Robert Masterson who steals all his scenes with his villainous charm.
Jan Hammer's music score kept being interrupted by inappropriate pop music. I hope he didn't mind
"We'd better hurry or we'll lose our charming guide"
A team of Anglo-American astronauts journey to the 13th moon of Jupiter and encounter an old Atlantean, twelve maidens who dance a lot to Borodin's music and a creature in a zip up bodysuit.A low budget science fiction film with no pretensions and an undefinable charm, to this reviewer anyway, that keeps one watching. The cast are decent enough although some of them affect American accents for some reason. The fire maidens are strongly eye pleasing, led by the lovely Susan Shaw playing Hestia so there's that in the film's favour.and Roy Ashton's face make-up on the creature was surprisingly good.I liked it.
Missile to the Moon (1958)
"We're trying to get away, but not that far"
A determined scientist returns to the moon with two stowaways who are on the run from prison and two accidental stowaways who are his fellow scientist and the latter's girlfriend. On the moon they meet a matriarchal society who are running out of men and oxygen. Complications ensue until the happy ending. Apart from the fact that several people have been killed. It is a typical low-budget 1950's film with no imagination and simple sets.The cast can't do much with the hokey dialogue.
There are however a couple of things to admire. One, the rock monsters look really good and are quite creepy when they come to life. Two, the strong acting of Nina Bara as the duplicitous Alpha. She is the best thing in every scene she is in. Shame she didn't get the hero.
The Drum (1938)
"It's the old story of the mad dreamers of the world"
Prince Ghul has murdered his brother and taken over the independent state of Tokot and plans to get together with other similar states to rise up against the British Raj on the north west frontier of India. Capt. Carruthers of the Army and rightful heir Prince Azim are instrumental (literally for Azim) in bringing down the rebellion, An exciting story that is beautifully lensed in 'Technicolour', well paced with moments of drama, pathos and humour.
The cast are all excellent though Raymond Massey as Ghul and a young Sabu as the displaced Prince stand out for me though the former's off screen demise is a tad disappointing. In support Desmond Tester does well as drummer Bill Holder and even though he says a few words Alf Goddard as the put-upon Private Kelly is hilarious. Valerie Hobson is merely decorative as Mrs. Carruthers.
A well made adventure film, perfect for a Sunday afternoon with tea and crumpets.
I nuovi barbari (1983)
"He'll have to give me much more. His pride. And his soul"
An Italian post apocalypse movie similar to a lot of others. There is the lone hero; there is the souped up cars; there is the cyberpunk clothing; there are characters with names like Shadow, Nadir, Scorpion and One and a fall back into medieval ways such as the villainous band calling themselves the Templars. Despite all the common tropes it is a quite entertaining movie and moves along swiftly with lots of gory action enhanced by a pulsating music score by Claudio Simonetti.
On top of that you get George Eastman in merry maniacal mode as One and Fred Williamson in effortlessly cool mode as Nadir. The rest of the cast are forgettable and the plot is confusing. Who is Nadir? What are One's motives.? Why call themselves Templars? Why if it is set in 2019 has the concept of God been lost? Perhaps it is best not to look too deep into the film and go along for the ride like the hero Scorpion, in a car with a plastic bubble on top.
"We've just lost the front end!"
A terrorist hijacks a Russian submarine and sails to America intending to launch a strike on San Diego. A damaged American submarine picks up the trail of the other sub and goes in pursuit. Will it stop it? Will the disgraced captain redeem himself? Will the Marine revenge his dead comrades? Will the XO see his son? A standard sub movie with some good moments but overall not exciting enough. In a bland cast Robert Miano stands out as the villainous Sajid Kahn. Petya Evtimova was Second Second Assistant Director and did a good job.
The Set Up (1963)
"Is there anything more pathetic than a middle aged fool?"
An ex-con Arthur Payne is persuaded for £200 to rob Theo Gaunt's safe of some false jewellery so Gaunt can use it to confront his wife. But as the title of the film suggests this is a set-up for a more sinister purpose. Can Inspector Jackson sort out the mystery? A good entry in the Nat Cohen-Stuart Levy series of films based on (usually loosely) Edgar Wallace stories. It has a twisty plot and it works well. Perhaps the ending is a bit rushed but it does fill the time competently.
It is helped by a good professional British cast; Maurice Denham, John Carson, Anthony Bate and John Arnatt. Brian Peck as Payne however is just adequate. Luanshya Greer is credited as Pamela Greer and her character 'Pamela Shaw' is credited as 'Sally'. I hope she wasn't confused.
Super Platoon (1987)
"Without a guide, how can we find our way?"
Sometimes with a Godfrey Ho film you can't tell what is original footage and what is borrowed. This one has a basic narrative but the choppy editing is often confusing. The main premise is that a group of soldiers are tasked with rescuing two American hostages in Vietnam. It is similar to Sammo Hung's 'Eastern Condors' and John Woo's 'Heroes Don't Shed Tears' (indeed I thought I heard music 'sampled' from both those films) but this is an inferior movie to those two.
What you get here is almost continuous fighting with a few pauses for character interaction. There is probably too much fighting and not enough pauses and the ending is sudden and inconclusive. A quite average film but lively enough for me to keep watching it all.
Locker Sixty Nine (1962)
"It's all beginning to fit into place"
A businessman Bennett Sanders is found dead by his assistant Craig, the assistant gets clubbed and when coming to finds the body gone. A newspaper reporter Simon York, a policeman Inspector Roon and Craig himself join forces to untangle the mystery. It's a moderately paced mystery juggling several characters until the denouement where everything is explained. Not the best of the Merton Park Edgar Wallace series but not the worst.
It does have a good cast but they are not stretched dramatically. Edward Underdown does best as the smooth businessman. John Carson receives an 'and introducing' credit which is strange as he had been in films and TV for at least ten years.
Secret of the Incas (1954)
"Why don't you shave once in while?"
'Secret Of The Incas' has colourful footage of Peru and Macchu Picchu and Yma Sumac singing in her astonishing voice and a rousing music score by David Buttolph and....that's about it. The plot drags, none of the characters are likeable and too much time is devoted to the dull on-off relationship of the main leads. Charlton Heston acts with no depth so his change of mind at the end is absurd, Nicole Maurey looks vaguely European, Thomas Mitchell looks tired and Robert Young has a thankless role as an archaeologist. For an adventure film there is not much adventure.
Devil Girl from Mars (1954)
"May I introduce your latest guest? Miss Nyah. She's from Mars"
To an inn in Scotland comes a reporter, a scientist, a woman escaping from a sour relationship, an escaped criminal and a woman from the planet Mars dressed in black leather who wants men to help repopulate her world. Based on a play and mainly set in the inn this cult film has a charm about it that is hard to define. Perhaps it is the beguiling design of the the space ship and the robot and Nyah's costume. Perhaps it is the sterling way the cast keep a straight face while reciting the unintentionally hilarious dialogue. Perhaps it is the melodramatic music score pounding away. Whatever it is, this a a movie to treasure.
The cast do their best with their roles, and what a cast! Hazel Court, Joseph Tomelty, Sophie Stewart, John Laurie and Adrienne Corri but even they are outshone by Patricia Laffan as the alien who manages to do sinister and sexy simultaneously. The Danziger Brothers who produced the film made some better and many worse films but never one quite like it.
"Just because it's stopped doesn't mean it's gone"
A supernatural scarecrow kills some people. This is a painfully generic film. It thinks loud noises and loud music and obvious jump scares make for tension and terror but it doesn't. The use of cliche runs through out. Monster dead? No. Monster dead? No. Leave me! No I won't. Leave me! No I won't. Etc. And as usual the characters act in ways that nobody real would. The characters were all one note and not likeable so one didn't mind them being bumped off, if one could tell them apart anyway. The script had not an original idea.
The cinematography is sometimes good and the CGI monster is quiet effective but apart from that this was a chore to watch.
Send for Paul Temple (1946)
"A bird can't fly with one wing"
Through the apparent suicide of a detective friend the crime writer Paul Temple is drawn into an investigation concerning diamond robberies in the Midlands, This centres mainly around inns called 'The Green Finger and 'The First Penguin'. He also meets for the first time the reporter Steve Trent who would come to play a big part in his life. With his constant ejaculation of "By Timothy!" Temple sorts out the mystery eventually.
This is the first ever Paul Temple film based on the popular radio character but it is mainly a radio play with pictures. Not uninteresting but not that exciting. It's mostly talk with a bit of action. Anthony Hulme as Temple and Joy Shelton as Steve are passable. More interesting is Beatrice Varley as Miss Marchment but who is sadly not on screen enough.
The series would improve when John Bentley took over the Paul Temple role.
A Woman of Mystery (1958)
"A barman was busy re-arranging the dust"
A magazine writer Roy Savage is tasked by his editor to cover the suicide of a young woman from the human interest angle but on looking into it further the reporter discovers something sinister afoot. This low budget film from the Danziger Brothers is engrossing for most of its length but falters when it substitutes action for investigation. Until then the plot unfolds quite nicely. The identity of the main villain took me by surprise but it was plausible.
Dermot Walsh is fine as the dogged Savage and there are the usual good supporting performances from Ferdy Mayne, Martin Benson and Ernest Clark. Unfortunately Hazel Court and Jennifer Jayne don't get to do much which is a shame as both were capable actresses.
There is a lot of narration which could have been reduced and the breaking of the fourth wall not needed but on the whole a reasonable entertainment.
Jack Armstrong (1947)
"Stand aside gentlemen, unless you would like to feel 50,000 volts"
Jack Armstrong the All-American Boy (played by 30 year old John Hart) and his friends the Fairfields go to a distant island somewhere to rescue a scientist and also try and prevent Jason Grood take over the world with a cosmic ray of some kind. What follows is lots of running around the island and lots of fights and all in all it's not a bad 15 part serial but not that enthralling. Because of low budgets serials do have a lot of repetition but you can have enough of the same tunnels, the same laboratory and the same hills.
The cast are adequate but it does have a strangely uncredited Charles Middleton as Grood, the chief villain. He dominates every scene he is in and channelling his Ming the Merciless from 'Flash Gordon' gets megalomaniacal at the end and wants to conquer the universe, and you believe him such is the quality of his acting. John Merton is also good as shifty Gregory Pierce but for some reason he is also doesn't have a credit. Claire James is alluring as Princess Alura but sadly doesn't have much to do.