Last Update 3/31/14

 

Sorority Party Massacre (2013) 

This slasher film opens with an obvious ripoff of the opening of the first Scream movie, so much so that I figured it had to be a spoof. The first murder also requires that the killer be psychic and now where the victim was going to pull off the road, what her cellphone number was, and so forth. Then it seems serious for a while, then we have a long sequence about a nutty cop. Not to mention Sheriff Lumpkin. It never really gets serious again, with sorority girls Ė who look to be around thirty years old Ė eliminated one by one at the hands of a mysterious killer. The jokes arenít funny, the plot doesnít make any sense, and the acting is indifferent. Worth passing up. 3/31/14

Die Hard Dracula (1998)   

Boy, is this ever a bad movie. Itís meant to be funny but itís only silly. When Draculaís coffin flies across the countryside and into the castle, itís obviously not going to be remotely serious. Dracula wakes up when the local medieval ruler has sex on his casket, and heís fat and ugly rather than handsome. Flash forward to the present. A young man distraught after the accidental death of his girlfriend goes to Transylvania to recover. He wanders around for far too long, overacting at every opportunity. Eventually he has an automobile accident and finds himself in a remote village. The jokes are so bad from that point onward that I lost interest. 3/30/14

Trail of Blood (2013) 

A group of typical young adults go on a camping trip in a wooded area where the FBI is looking for a murder suspect. This particular group is not as dislikable as they usually are, which is a plus in itself, but thereís some macho crap that doesnít help.  The dialogue varies from okay to awkward but none of it really establishes any well drawn or even likeable characters. We see early shots of Picardo watching them but doing nothing, which made me suspect that he is not in fact the killer, and we soon discover that he is another FBI agent. The male lead sounds increasingly stupid as the story progresses. They find a couple of bodies and then run into another pair of campers who accuse them of doing the killing. The plot runs downhill from there. Half an hour into the movie it became so bad that I couldnít watch any more. Embarrassing for all concerned. 3/29/13

Framed for Murder (1934) 

A reporter who has recently lost his job finds the missing wife of a murdered man, the prime suspect and object of a police hunt. He decides sheís innocent, so he has to find out who really committed the murder in order to clear her name. Wallace Ford and Fuzzy Knight are both pretty good in this one, but the pacing is off and my attention wandered on more than one occasion. Another report suspects that our heroís new wife is actually the fugitive and decides to turn her in. The last ten minutes are the best part. Fun, but minor. 3/28/14

Embalmer (1965) 

An Italian horror thriller about a maniac who traps women in his maze beneath Venice, kills them and displays their preserved bodies in his private museum. The villain uses scuba gear to travel beneath the city and capture his victims. We donít see his face, of course, but we hear his silly monologues. Nor do we waste time on characterization or plot development. An inquisitive reporter canít convince people that the disappearances are all related. The dubbed dialogue is pretty awful. Thereís a very long tourist sequence which is just filler. The story picks up toward the end but takes far too long to get there. Pretty much a waste of time. 3/27/14

Haunter (2013)   

This is a variant of The Others, in which we see everything through the point of view of a ghost, the child of a family who died years in the past and is now trying to help a living girl escape the same fate. The family lives the same day over and over again and only the daughter is aware of the repetition. She also becomes aware that the former owner of the house has been possessing men who live there and then killing people, and she develops a link with a teenager from the present who is scheduled to be a victim. It was such a change to find a well acted movie whose writer at least was trying to do something original that I may have liked this better than it deserved, but it seemed to me quite suspenseful and my only real complaint is that it was a bit longer than it should have been. 3/26/14

The Limping Man (1953)

Lloyd Bridges stars in this murder mystery. He is leaving a plane after a flight to England when the man next to him in line is shot by an assassin from long distance. Bridges has come to England to take up a World War II romance, but it is clear that she is linked to the murdered man and afraid of the police. It turns out that the dead man was a criminal of long standing and that the girlfriend, Pauline, was involved with him. She insists that she had long since broken with him but that he was blackmailing her, and his widow decides to do the same. Bridges decides to prove her innocence. Two night club acts are included for padding; the xylophone one wasnít bad. Although this isnít at all bad, it is far too long for its premise and there are a couple of times when a turn of events or an emotional response seems forced. There is a nice twist toward the end and another Ė less believable one - right at the conclusion. Bridges wakes up. It was all a dream. 3/25/14

Ghostkeepers (2012)   

The cast of a minor horror film is reunited at the site of the film for a podcast, but things donít go exactly as planned. The opening is pretty rocky thanks to amateurish acting, dull dialogue, and sound recording that feels like everything was recorded inside a metal box. Thereís no explanation for why a house abandoned for years would still have an active electrical service. Thereís a medium, a genuine ghost, and the usual array of strange events, none of which are interesting, convincing, or entertaining. It looks like a high school film department project. 3/24/14

Eyes of the Woods (2009) 

After losing his daughter, an early Puritan makes a deal with the devil and is transformed into a monster in one of the hokiest and most boring sequences Iíve ever watched. Then two cast members Ė one cannot call them actors Ė have a scene in which they are hanging clothes on a line, but they hang them bunched up, which means they would never actually dry out. Nitpicking but indicative of the lack of attention to detail that is just one of the many things wrong with this one. The bad lines and bad delivery in the prologue defy description. Hundreds of years pass and weíre in the present where a group of repulsive teens get lost in the woods, only to be picked off one by one. Except that none of them have been teens in a long time. Starts off awful and goes steadily downhill. 3/23/14

Code Red (2013) 

When I noticed that this was a Bulgarian zombie apocalypse movie, I had a bad feeling. Much to my surprise, itís quite watchable if not actively good. A chemical weapon left over from World War II causes the dead to rise and a hidden cache is released after a corrupt army general makes a bad decision. Some of the cast are quite good Ė particularly the female doctor Ė and the kid is okay although kids in jeopardy usually turn me off. The American soldier hero exudes a bit too much testosterone to be likable but heís not actively a jerk. Donít go out of your way to watch this one, but donít turn it off if you have any tolerance for zombie movies. 3/22/14

The Castle of Fu Manchu (1968)    

Christopher Lee is the title character in this low budget adventure. The evil mastermind has discovered a chemical that turns massive portions of the ocean into solid blocks of ice. Nayland Smith comes back to defeat but only after being captured and imprisoned in Fu Manchuís secret lair. The science is bizarre, the acting mostly subpar, special effects inconsequential, and the plot rather silly. This was Leeís final appearance in this role, thank heaven. Marginally better than The Blood of Fu Manchu, but that wasnít difficult. A waste of time. 3/21/14

The Devilís Hand (1961) 

This mediocre horror film starts off with an interesting premise but runs out of steam after a while and the cheap production values donít help. A man and his girlfriend find a doll made in her image at a toy shop, and the owner insists that the protagonist brought in a photograph to have a doll made in its image. But the photograph doesnít match the face of his girlfriend. He has in fact been troubled by dreams in which a strange woman appears, and itís her face on the doll. After they leave, the shopkeeper goes downstairs to a voodoo altar in the basement, sticks a pin in the girlfriend doll, and she has an acute attack. He tracks down the dream girl who convinces him to join a cult of devil worshippers. Stars Robert Alda and Linda Christian, who was technically the very first James Bond girl, from the television version of Casino Royale. Better than I expected but it moves too slowly to be really suspenseful. 3/20/14

Reality Terror Night (2013) 

More bad acting and bad dialogue, this time recorded badly as well, about a reality show in which five beautiful women have to spend a night in a haunted house Ė actually a murder site wherein the murderer Ė a mad doctor Ė never got caught. Guess what? Heís back!  The premise is dreadful from the outset. If the police had solved a series of mutilation murders, they would hardly have covered it up and claimed that the crimes were still a mystery, just to protect the reputation of the murderer, particularly since the real estate agent knows the truth and tells prospective renters. The doctorís stuff is still in the house because, we are told, the will specifies it canít be disposed of until the house is sold. Even if this made sense, the will would not be in force because the doctor is not dead.  The sound level kept rising and falling and sometimes the dialogue is inaudible when the actors are facing away from the camera. At other times there are annoying echoes. To this we have a host of characters you wouldnít be caught dead talking to Ė no pun intended Ė and you have yet another disastrous, amateurish, insulting slasher movie. 3/19/14

Game of Thrones Season 3 (2013) 

The third season of this series, based on George R.R. Martinís novels, shocked viewers who hadnít read the books when the Red Wedding takes place and three of the ďgoodĒ characters are killed, ending the war between the Starks and the Lanisters. Tyrion is  married to Sansa, against both their wishes, and the Tyrells are gaining influence over the throne despite Tywin Lanisterís scheming. The relationships among the other characters develop as well as Branís psychic abilities. Daenarys frees more slaves and builds a great army in preparation for returning to Westeros. This is a superb adaptation with very few significant variations, very strong production values, and a great cast. Looking forward to more. Great sets, great casting, great performances.  3/17/14

The Crying Dead (2011)   

Yet another crappy found footage horror movie. This is the lazy way of covering up the fact that you donít actually have any skill at film making. The efforts to make the dialogue seem realistic just points out that most peopleís dialogue is boring. Anyway, a film crew decides to sneak into an abandoned mental hospital where a supposed paranormal event led to a fire and the death of three patients. The whole premise is absurd since they would be sued to their eyeballs and no network would ever pay for their footage. The first sixty minutes have about sixty seconds worth of content and the bad sound, jerky camera work, inane dialogue, and bad acting makes watching it acutely painful. I played a couple of computer games while it plodded past. The minimal characterization presents them all as selfish, egotistic idiots, which is par for the course. The cast of the movie within the movie has no script and in fact no preparation, which is also absurd.  Although itís supposed to be the middle of the night, some of the scenes are clearly shot during the daylight. One of the insightful comments is that the basement rooms are colder than the upper ones. Well duh! They claim to be genuine believers, but they fake psychic events for the cameras. Eventually one of their number disappears, the rest search for her, the not very scary looking ghosts pop up from time to time, and the dreary tale lurches toward its conclusion.  3/17/14

Haunted House (1940) 

Two teenagers investigate a murder in this inappropriately named mystery movie. When their friend is accused of murdering an elderly woman, they decide to find out the truth. The trial seems are absurdly unbelievable and I suspect this was aimed at younger viewers. The two young stars display no signs of any talent although both of them had lengthy careers. They overhear a conversation that indicates the primary beneficiary of the dead womanís will was lying about his alibi Ė which the police never bothered to check! Predictably their first theory is wrong so no one pays attention to them when they find the real killer. Thereís nothing original in this but itís surprisingly appealing despite its many flaws. Not awful but not very good. 3/16/14

Europa Report (2013)   

Despite a low budget, this story of the first expedition to Europa is one of the best SF films Iíve seen I've seen recently, and particularly hard SF. The mission of a space expedition is to investigate readings that suggest that bacteriological life might exist under the ice covered seas on that particular Jovian moon. Four men and two women are sent - although one man dies in an accident along the way and another becomes emotionally disturbed by the loss. The format is a mix of found footage, regular footage, and documentary style interviews, which is slightly disconcerting at times but generally works. I did wonder why a ship to Europa would be launched from Earth directly rather than from orbit, but thatís a technicality. A bit depressing but otherwise quite good. Non sensational and neatly done. 3/15/14

Murder at Dawn (1932)

This short mystery is actually SF in that it involves a battle for control of a new technology that provides unlimited energy at virtually no cost. It opens on a dark and stormy night. The inventor is about to make his discovery public when he disappears and his close confidant is found strangled. The others in the house include the inventorís daughter and her fiancť, plus some of their friends who have been invited to their wedding, creepy servants, etc. The comic relief isnít funny at all and the portrayal of the lone black character is offensive even for the 1930s. Thereís lots of lurking at windows, mysterious shadows, and screaming women while cathode ray tubes bubble in the background. Itís too frenetic to be interesting and sometimes too confusing to follow. The shrill screaming got on my nerves as well; it seems to go on forever. And the murder takes place in the middle of the night, not at dawn. Obviously not a lost classic. 3/14/14

The Last Days on Mars (2013) 

Although it apparently had a low budget, this story about the first expedition to Mars actually looks pretty good. Shortly after finding indications of bacteriological life one of the crew is trapped when part of the surface collapses under him. I was rather surprised that one of the crew members would be such a miserable troublemaker; I would have thought sheíd have been weeded out during the selection process. A second crew member defies orders and enters the pit and also disappears. When the others organize an investigation, they discover what appears to be living fungal grows on the rocks. The two missing astronauts are gone, but they find tracks in the sand. Things go bad very quickly. The first two have been transformed into deformed versions of themselves and they immediately kill two more members of the crew. Complications follow. Not a classic but quite suspenseful, although itís never clear exactly why a virus would turn dead people into essentially intelligent Ė they know how to use tools Ė zombies. This is based on a short story by Sydney Bounds. 3/13/14

Abandoned Mine (2013)   

Five friends are planning to spend an evening outside an abandoned mine that is reputedly haunted. They have no plans to go in, or at least so weíre told, until a rainstorm drives them to cover. After that, they make a series of bad decisions, get trapped, separated, and variously attacked. Sort of. Part of it is a prank arranged by one of the group, which doesnít make any sense since why then would they all have helmets equipped with lights and climbing gear? Anyway, the cast isnít bad and for a change theyíre mostly likeable people, and the standard plot might have been good enough to enjoy if not for some problems. One is inherent in underground movies Ė things are so dark that itís sometimes difficult to tell whatís happening, and the occasionally incoherent plot doesnít help. Nor does the occasional problem with sound levels that make some of the dialogue unintelligible. This was marginally watchable primarily because of the above average acting, but it falters in the second half and the ending is atrocious. 3/12/14

Curse of the Headless Horseman (1972) 

What a mess this is, replete with hippie slang not always appropriately used and an overly melodramatic narrator who tells us big chunks of the story that the production crew couldnít be bothered to actually film. A couple inherits a failing ranch but if they canít make it profitable within six months, they lose their inheritance to the creepy caretaker. They invite their hippie friends to come help them turn it into a glorified dude ranch, but a headless horseman carrying a severed head begins to appear in the darkness to kill them one by one. The acting is so bad that I sometimes wished there was more narration, painful though that was. The hippies, incidentally, are more like yuppies. Some of the scenes are totally unrelated to the plot and others are just artless filler like a long, unfunny stage routine by two would be comedians. Camera work, editing, sound recording, and special effects are all dismally bad. 3/11/14

The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968)  

One of several movies starring Christopher Lee as Fu Manchu.  His plan this time is to inoculate ten women with poison and use each of them to murder an important world leader. Our hero, Nayland Smith, is the first to be attacked, left blind and with only a short time to live. Smith concludes almost magically that Fu Manchu is responsible and that heís in South America, so he and Dr. Petrie are off to find him. I wish I could say that this was well done, but Iíd be fibbing. Itís cheaply made and the acting is occasionally comical. Thereís a whole subplot about a local bandit that is wretchedly bad. The exotic dancer is neither exotic nor a dancer. Her performance is the low point of the movie. The supposedly stealthy dacoits are incredibly clumsy, but no one hears them. And they donít cry out when they find a fugitive, preferring to allow themselves to be overcome instead. The sharpshooting hero never bothers to aim but still hits his targets. A large part of the movie is the dacoits Ė none of whom are oriental - vs the bandits and itís a complete waste of time. The whole thing is, as a matter of fact.  3/10/14

Black Water Vampire (2013) 

This is a found footage movie, which almost by definition means itís junk. A team of filmmakers investigate a series of killings and discover a vampire. That means lots of boring and irrelevant footage purporting to be realistic Ė it isnít Ė and supposedly building suspense Ė it doesnít Ė leading to a low key, badly done, unconvincing climax. A man has been convicted of the crimes but they donít believe heís guilty Ė heís not Ė but it must have been psychic insight because they have no objective evidence to assume otherwise. The dialogue is so bad that I fast forwarded through several sequences. The best part about the movie is the packaging, which isnít very good. 3/9/14

The Time of the Doctor (2013) 

As a long time fan of this series, I can only say that this was one of the worst viewing experiences of my life. Chaotic, incoherent, contradictory, sloppy, internal inconsistent, ethically dubious, visually uninteresting, and just outright boring and unwatchable. A mysterious planet sends out a mysterious signal Ė the planetís nature is never explained Ė which lures representatives of all the space traveling races along with the Doctor, who eventually penetrates the shield surrounding the planet, discovers that the time lords are trying to get back into the universe but need to know his name in order to do so.  Why? And later they are able to affect events in our universe Ė including giving him 13 more regenerations Ė without learning his name. The writer seems to have tried to include every classic and recent character so we have Daleks, Sontarans, Weeping Angels, and Cybermen. The Doctor somehow has the ability now to hold off entire invasion fleets with just his sonic screwdriver, and at one point he tells a lie even though heís in a truth field, which supposedly makes that impossible. Of course he also has retrieved his Tardis, which canít penetrate the force field except when it can. And the Daleks have the ability to parasitize and reanimate dead people all of a sudden. Disgracefully bad. 3/8/14

A Face in the Fog (1936)  

Based on a novel by Peter B. Kyne. A mysterious killer known as The Fiend is terrorizing a city but a female reporter thinks she saw his face reflected in a mirror and that she can identify him. At the same time, members of a theatrical company are being poisoned and the police have no idea how the poison is being administered. Thereís a photographer who provides some Stan Laurel type comedy, but itís not very well done and should have been dropped. The female lead was the sister of Bud Collyer, who hosted Beat the Clock and To Tell the Truth. This was her last movie role despite a respectable career. Thereís a hunchback, or someone pretending to be one, hiding in the theater as well. Are all three of these sinister figures the same person? The poison is actually frozen inside ice bullets, which melt before the bodies can be examined. A consulting detective knows a weapons expert who happens to be a hunchback, which suggests a solution. All is not as it seems. Minor but holds up pretty well. 3/7/14

The Phantom of the Air (1933)

A cliffhanger serial with lots of early aircraft stunts and the usual silly but watchable plot. This one is technically science fiction because the hero uses his revolutionary new plane to keep the bad guys from stealing the secret of antigravity. The romantic interest is a friend of the villain, a smuggler, whose henchmen are prepared to sabotage the heroís plane because of his involvement in law enforcement Ė which is never really explained. The antigravity angle doesnít make any sense. They want to use it for an unmanned plane, but they have to have a pilot for the takeoff. So whatís the point?  The antigravity chemical Ė yes itís a chemical Ė makes things float, but sideways, not up. At another point, the scientist uses a telescope to watch a car that is driving directly away from him, but heís seeing it from the front! The heroís revolver fires more than a dozen shots without reloading. If the scientist can pilot the experimental plane skillfully from the land controls, why did he need another pilot to fly the plane? There are lots of air battles with the pilots firing pistols at one another, which wouldnít work very well. People also seem capable of walking away from terrible plane crashes on a regular basis, and in one instance they fly off in the same plane without even bothering to make repairs. It also never seems to occur to anyone to call the police until very late in the story. The police canít arrest the smugglers because theyíre on a boat beyond the three mile limit, but when they leave that boat and get into another one, they can?  Fun in a very simplistic fashion and if you donít mind the plot errors. 3/6/14

Dario Argentoís Dracula (2012)   

Yet another interpretation of the Bram Stoker novel, this one by the creator of Suspiria, one of my all time favorite horror movies. Dracula can take the form of an owl in this one and does so in the opening sequence to dine on one of the local women. After some preliminaries, the actual story starts, with Dracula not presenting a very menacing figure, although I did like the line ďI donít eatÖin the evening.Ē Otherwise, despite a few good scenes and some very nice sets, it seems Argento has lost his touch because this was neither creepy nor suspenseful, and at times it was unintentionally funny. Ominous music canít do it alone. Dracula also has some new powers. He can teleport and has some kind of telekinesis as well as telepathy.  Mina comes to Europe instead of Dracula going to England. Thereís a good deal of nudity, most of it gratuitous. Some of the acting is surprisingly bad. The sequence where Dracula kills the town council verges on the absurd and I nearly stopped watching at that point. He has so many superpowers by now that the possibility that he could ever be defeated has vanished completely. Ruger Hauer as Van Helsing looks positively lost. He goes to Lucyís tomb to destroy her, but doesnít even bring a cross?  It gets worse after that, but Iíll spare you the details. Incredibly disappointing. 3/5/14

Apocalypse Pompeii (2014)   

Various tourists are in the Pompeii area when the volcano begins to erupt. The tour isnít stopped even after tremors which dislodge major boulders that nearly kill several of them, which I didnít find credible. Mediocre acting and a script that should have been stillborn. Among those trapped by the subsequent eruption are the family of a former special ops agent who organizes a rescue mission. When the eruption starts, he tells his family to stay in the area under cover rather than try to get out of the danger zone, which I also found implausible. A few minutes after this all starts, without any warning, the experts have already determined that Pompeii will be under sixty feet of lava within four hours. A couple of the special effects are decent but most are laughable. I only watched with one eye toward the end. Paying closer attention was painful. 3/4/14

Scarecrow (2013) 

A group of the usual assortment of potential victims discover that a local legend about a haunted scarecrow that needs to kill people in order to return to life. This was made for the Sci-Fi Channel so my expectations were fairly low, which has the advantage that even moderate competence would make it seem better than it actually is. The group consists mostly of students who got into trouble and have an all day suspension Ė never heard of that one before Ė which consists of a field trip. The field trip is to help move a scarecrow to town for the festival, which doesnít make a lot of sense. Nor does it make sense that a long deserted farm would have nicely laid out and maintained corn fields. The town is also preparing for the Scarecrow Festival, in honor of the legend, which they naturally think is just a story. Low key deaths follow in short order as the group becomes trapped. The creature Ė which doesnít look much like a scarecrow Ė is CGI of no particular merit. To be fair, the acting is generally above average for this sort of thing, but there are sequences which are more chaotic than scary and at times the story makes no sense. Why run into the house and be trapped rather than try escaping in the bus, or even walking away. Why does the creature try to break down the door instead of the large, unbarred window?  Since the creature is immune to bullets and can apparently move through solid matter at will Ė so why couldnít it get through the door? Ė it makes no sense that the human characters would have a chance. And when the policeman responds to the explosion of one of the cars, why donít others show up when he doesnít report in? If it can only be confined by being buried, how does it move freely through the ground? If six high school kids and a teacher don't return and are in fact missing all night, but it was generally known where they were going, why doesn't someone show up looking for them? This is essentially an inferior remake of Jeepers Creepers, and I didnít like that either. 3/3/14

Ring of Terror (1963) 

A medical student is troubled by nightmares even though he has no apparent adverse reaction to cadavers while heís awake in this abysmally acted suspense movie. A group of his acquaintances decide to play a prank which may cause him to confront his inner fears, but they have no idea what kind of reaction they may be provoking. The autopsy scene is badly done. The students are situated in such a way that they could not possibly see what the doctor was doing during the dissection. The plot doesnít make any sense. The protagonistís girlfriend is mad at him because of various things that she knows make no sense and refers to perfectly ordinary behavior as ďstrangeĒ.  The prank involves recovering a ring from an autopsied body in the middle of the night which gives him a fatal heart attack. End of story. Blehh. 3/2/14

Banshee Chapter (2013)  

Another largely found footage mess about a journalist supposedly investigating government experiments involving unknowing participants and a dangerous drug. Sheís interested because a friend disappeared while peripherally involved. As if this poorly written, poorly conceived, and poorly executed nonsense wasnít bad enough already, it claims to be based on real events. How stupid do they think we are? Or how gullible and/or deluded are they?  Leaden acting, if that's what you'd call it, a subpar screenplay, silly special effects, and general atmosphere of amateurism finish it off. Avoid this one like the plague. 3/1/14

The Green Lantern (2011) 

This was one of the few comic books from my childhood that I didnít like, so I wasnít excited about the prospect of a movie, and the reviews suggested even more reasons for not watching it. But two bucks was too cheap to overlook. It opens with an absolutely absurd sequence on an alien planet that I wonít even try to describe. An alien law enforcer, one of the intergalactic Green Lanterns, is sent to Earth in pursuit of a nasty villainous alien. An almost incomprehensible battle takes place and the good alien is mortally injured, so he passes on his job, and his power, to a human being. Our hero has a flashback to his childhood during a critical maneuver Ė heís a pilot Ė which brings a thoroughly ridiculous sequence to an end. So fifteen minutes into the movie, itís already a failed effort. The evil alien looks more like something that should be fighting Underdog. The movie is actually worse than my description, believe it or not, disjointed, naÔve, awkward, implausible, with stilted dialogue, unfunny jokes, and uninspired acting and special effects. Even at two bucks, I probably paid too much. If I had paid to see this in a theater, Iíve have been furious. 2/28/14

The Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1967)   

Christopher Lee is in the title role in this mediocre production inspired by the Sax Rohmer novels, which are much better than this would lead you to believe. The reputation for mediocrity this one acquired is well deserved despite a few good touches. Fu Manchuís daughter has some implausible hypnotic power this time around, among other things.  The plot involves creation of an identical but evil duplicate of the good guy, Nayland Smith, in order to discredit him. It would have made much more sense just to have him assassinated. Unlike the two that followed in this series, itís not actively awful, just very very uninteresting. 2/27/14

Murder in the Museum (1934) 

First of all, this isnít set in a museum. Itís actually a non-traveling carnival show in an obscure part of a major city. Two political arrivals visit it jointly, hoping to uncover a reason to shut them down, and one of them is murdered. Suspicion naturally falls on the other, and a reporter and a young woman have to team up to discover the truth. Although this is a painfully cheap production, the story isnít bad and the investigation is pursued in a reasonably logical and entertaining fashion. At one point, the investigators drill a hole down through the ceiling so they can watch the museum from above, but amusingly the viewpoint pans around the entire series of rooms below them. The story falls apart toward the end. Itís all about rival drug dealers and has a lengthy and unconvincing gun battle and a rather implausible revenge story. 2/26/14

The Lost Special (1932)   

A cliffhanger serial based on a story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A bunch of crooks hijack a train full of gold, lay temporary tracks to divert it into a cave, then take up the tracks so that no one can figure out where it went. Our hero and a friend, plus a feisty female reporter, decide to solve the mystery by traveling on the next gold train. The good guys retake the train after the usual battle, but a carload of bad guys show up to take it back.  It goes back and forth that way until they uncover the truth, that some of the mine managers are behind the plot. The thrills and chills are above average, although people survive some really horrendous events with nary a bump or cut, and overall itís one of the better of the early serials. 2/26/14

Invasion of the Reptoids (2011)  

Zombies on the Loose (2010) 

Another double feature of really, really bad movies. The first is an alien invasion story so bad that it must have been intentional. When several cast members are also the technical people connected to the movie, you know itís amateur time. This was filmed in black and white despite its recent vintage and thereís really just line reading rather than acting. The spaceship isnít even consistently the same size. The alien is a guy in a jumpsuit with a silly mask. The second one is so obscure the Internet Movie Database doesnít even have a listing for it. Itís in color, but itís not any better than the first. A vampire is killed by a zombie and it turns out his assistant has escaped from an asylum. She recruits a voodoo sorcerer and a mad scientist in her quest to bring the vampire back to unlife. Jaw droppingly bad. 2/24/14

Downton Abbey Season 4 (2013) 

The popular British drama this season has three new romantic interests for Lady Mary, whom I still donít particularly like, a new and involuntary crony for Thomas the scheming servant, Mr. Mosleyís ongoing troubles finding employment, Matthewís mother looking for a new purpose in live, Edith getting pregnant by her lover who disappears mysteriously in Munich, Albertís departure to train as a chef, and the rape of Anna followed by what appears to be the clandestine murder of the rapist by her husband. I resented what they did to Anna this season, turning her into a drama queen who was supposedly trying to conceal what happened to her for noble reasons, but who instead seems to take every opportunity to show how put upon she is. She was my favorite character, but no longer. Their cousin has a fling with a black musician, which wasnít very plausible, and Tom Branson debates emigrating to America but finds what will apparently be his romantic interest next season instead. Still very watchable but there are signs that the potentials of the situation have been largely used up. 2/23/14

The Moonbase (1967)   

This is one of the Patrick Troughton Doctor Who serials which is missing installments, so two of them are animated, although they appear to have part at least of the soundtrack. The Doctor arrives at a base on our moon, but a plague breaks out and the crew blames the newcomers. The real culprits are the cybermen. The Doctor figures this out, cures the sick, saves the Earth, and runs around a lot trying to convince the humans that heís on their side. Talkier than most Doctor Who stories, and the cybermen look pretty silly by contemporary standards. The animation is rather primitive but at least fills in the gaps. 2/22/14

Carrie (2013)   

I looked askance at this because I canít imagine many movies less in need of a remake. Sissy Spacek established her career with her portrayal of a telekinetic teenager in the original adaptation of Stephen Kingís novel. I donít imagine there are many people who donít know the plot. School bullies pick on religiously inhibited Carrie who finally blows a gasket and uses her powers to kill a large number of them. This isnít a scene by scene remake but some sequences look like copies. About half the dialogue seems to have been used from the original. If the original hadnít been made, this would have been much more effective, but as it stands Ė despite some excellent performances Ė it remains just an imitation. Thereís more telekinesis early on, which dilutes the effect of the climax, and several of the characters including the ďgoodĒ girl come across as less likeable. An okay but unnecessary movie. 2/21/14

City of Missing Girls (1941)   

This was considered rather risquť for its time, but itís hard to tell that now. It also has Gale Storm in a small, early role. The murder of a young woman is the starting point for a rather uneven and ponderous story about sex trafficking and white slavery. A feisty female reporter provides the liveliest scenes. A talent agency proves to be a front for something more sinister and the reporter finds the connection before the police do.  Very tame by contemporary standards, and a bit talky. Competent but uninteresting acting. Okay, but rather long for its story. 2/20/14

The Bates Haunting (2012) 

The Bates Motel is a tourist attraction with, among other things, a haunted slayride. On opening night, one of the actors is burned to death in a burst of bad special effects and even worse acting. A friend who witnesses her death is traumatized and a year later she takes a job there because her father thinks she needs to confront her fears. Iím not sure what was going on with the script. Seconds after being told that she hasnít had a job since the death, she is fired from her current job. Her father, the sheriff, says at one point that since sheís now unemployed, she would be in handcuffs if she wasnít his daughter. In what alternate universe could that happen?  Then other employees start to die, but the first one is smeared with blood before she is even struck!  The story actually picks up for a while, but then people start acting stupidly for no good reason except to advance the plot. The ending, which is not a surprise, is also pitifully bad, chiefly because the psycho is the worst actor in the bunch. 2/19/14

The Savage Girl (1932) 

An early jungle adventure featuring a sort of female Tarzan, although this particular jungle goddess seems particularly inept. It takes a while to get to Africa following a mildly comic encounter between a professional trapper and a drunken dilettante in the US, which results in a badly conceived expedition. They arrive 12 minutes into a one hour movie Ė complete with a taxi cab and taxi driver they decided to take along with them Ė and it takes another few minutes before they actually get started. They do, however, hear rumors of a white woman living in the jungle who is worshipped by a tribe of hostile natives. Itís not much of a jungle since they have no trouble driving the taxi along the way, which makes one wonder why they didnít also take a truck and dispense with the uncertain bearers. Stock animal footage follows, of course, plus the mandatory cute chimp. The jungle girl is feral and doesnít speak English so they have to capture her against her will. A member of the expedition tries to rape her, and the trapper intervenes.  The story is surprisingly dull. The only real tension is between the trapper and the frustrated rapist although there is some minor trouble with the natives toward the end. Minor, but well done. 2/18/14

Elementary Season 1 (2012) 

The pilot for this modernized version of Sherlock Holmes didnít impress me, but the episodes following it were much better, particularly the one in which the obvious suspect is in a coma and therefore, presumably, innocent. The premise is that Holmes is a recovering drug addict whose full time companion is Doctor Watson, played by Lucy Liu, a surgeon who gave up that professional after a patient died on her watch. The episodes are generally clever, often have genuine surprises, and the chemistry between the two develops during the course of the season. There are a few blips Ė in episode four a critical plot point is that one of the victims was concealing his expenditures from the IRS, but that doesnít make sense because the IRS has no interest in how private citizens spend their money so long as they pay taxes on their income. That was the biggest glitch I noticed all season, however, and it was insignificant compared to the consistently good writing and performances by the cast. The evolving relationship between Holmes and Watson was admirably well handled. I was mildly disappointed when the mini-cycle about Moriarty started toward the end of the season because arcs often mean that individual episodes are not as good, however, they wound things up quite well for the finale and fooled me more than once. Looking forward avidly to the second season. 2/17/14

Dracano (2013) 

Stupid screenwriting strives for new levels of bad in this tale of volcanoes which begin spewing forth rather silly looking CGI dragons capable of winning dogfights with modern fighter aircraft. The government, for reasons unknown, wants so badly to suppress knowledge of the problem Ė despite the fact that itís happening all over the world Ė that they attempt to hunt down a pair of scientists who suspect the truth.  The actors donít even seem to be making an effort to sound realistic and some of them look positively embarrassed. At one point the protagonist tries to scale a fence, even though the fence ends six feet away and he could easily walk around it. That sums up the sophistication of the plot. The teenage character looks closer to thirty. The nonsense abounds. At one point they have to get past a roadblock and the authorities are looking for the male scientist, so they have the daughter Ė who has no license Ė drive instead of the female scientist. But they just ran into a patrol who identified him, and no effort was made to detain him. And the army cannot cordon off California without anyone noticing. And to top it all, they are allowed to drive into the ďrestricted areaĒ in order to get to a supposed destination on the other side. Turning off a cell phone does not mean it canít be tracked.  The army cannot shut down private websites, particularly on the say so of a relatively minor officer. The writers arenít even trying. This has the bad science of Sharknado, the bad special effects of Stonados, and a level of incompetence all its own. Itís a race to the bottom and Dracano is ahead by a head, and a long scaly neck. 2/16/14

Unknown World (1951)  

I remember seeing this on television back when I was a kid. An interesting bit of trivia is that the star was blacklisted so heís not listed in the credits even though he was the main character, and the dvd doesnít list him either. Itís about a group of scientists who organize an expedition to find an underground world where people can shelter from a nuclear war. Itís a fairly short movie and although they have a few low key adventures, most of it is quite slow moving Ė as well as scientifically impossible. The temperature does not go down as you go deeper except right at first and this was known even in 1951. It will likely put you to sleep. 2/15/14

Crimes at the Dark House (1939)   

This is an adaptation of The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. The aptly named Tod Slaughter stars as the crazed killer who takes the place of his victim, Percival Clyde. Clyde has been away from home for so long Ė more than twenty years - that no one remembers him, which makes the impersonation plausible. There is an arranged marriage planned to a beautiful young heiress so the killer is in a perfect position to better himself, since the estate is heavily in debt. The woman who secretly married the real Clyde Ė and who has a possibly mentally disturbed daughter by him Ė knows that heís an imposter, as does her lawyer. Thereís also a secret boyfriend of the affianced woman. The villain has to kill a housemaid to protect himself but others put his plans in jeopardy. Eventually he has his wife falsely committed to an asylum with the connivance of a crooked doctor. Very melodramatic but also quite good. 2/14/14

Stonados (2013)   

If you thought Sharknado was stupid Ė and it was Ė this one will boggle your mind. A water spout that appears and disappears in a matter of second sucks up Plymouth Rock in the opening scene, preparing us for the nonsense to come. Pretty soon Boston is being bombarded by rocks, which for some reason now explode upon impact, and which sometimes appear out of a calm, clear sky, and which render the plot even more absurd than usual. And of course the police would call a high school science teacher when an apparent meteorite hits a playground. Our hero, after a brief look at the crater, decides itís not from outer space, but actually a volcanic eruption. Wrong again. The wind effects are bizarre. Some things are blowing like crazy but umbrellas right behind them arenít disturbed.  The government weather expert is able to come up with a high yield explosive device in less than sixty seconds. I didnít know that was standard equipment for weather experts. Itís hard to tell if the cast is any good because the dialogue is so bad that no one could make it sound real. Bad enough to be funny, for a while.  These people need to hire me to write screenplays. I couldnít do worse. 2/13/14

Silk Stalkings Season 4 (1994)

This show was an early version of modern television crime dramas in that it had more adult themes and sexy undertones than its contemporaries Ė it was shown after prime time. The cast was competent and the stories pretty good, although some of the writing had me scratching my head. The two part opener for this season is a good example. The male lead, Rob Estes, has been shot high in the chest in the closer last season, which puts most of the workload on his partner, Mitzi Kapture. All that is fine, except that the doctor describes the bullet has having grazed his liver, which suggests that he is a simulacrum or something since livers are not normally found high in the chest. Theyíre after a brutal serial killer, whose identity we know because we see him and his accomplice stating that they choose loners for victims because they wonít be missed and there wonít be witnesses. And then they promptly abduct one of a pair of homeless girls, the other of whom picks one of the killers out of a group of mug shots. Later the consultant says that the killer is deviating from his pattern, but thereís no way for him to know that.  

Most of the episodes rework familiar clichťs. The reluctant witness who skips out while theyíre trying to protect her. A wandering husband is murdered.   A few others manage to come up with new twists if not actual new ideas. There are also some howling blunders with recurring characters unaware of things theyíve known in multiple previous episodes, etc.  Thereís an episode about a woman with multiple personalities that might have been interesting, but itís not carried off very well. The male lead gets turned into a chauvinistic idiot during that episode as well. There are also some significant legal errors. If it is believed that a person committed homicide by reason of insanity, the courts would certainly not allow her to go home. Abysmal episode. Estes has a romantic interest for several episodes, during which he is revealed as a self absorbed, petty, juvenile, idiot, even though thatís probably not the image the writers expected to project. His girlfriend isnít much better. Some episodes also suffer from really bad acting, as in ďRed Flag,Ē which also suffers from amazingly bad dialogue and plotting. And once again the male lead is portrayed as a chauvinistic idiot.  The occasional bad scripts and indifferent to awful acting sprinkled through the first three seasons became endemic this year. Some of the supposed seduction scenes are really awful. Itís also too easy to spot who the real villain is in most episodes and there arenít very many sympathetic characters in most of them as well. Mitzi Kaptureís romantic interest also turns into a jerk this season. Dramatic overacting becomes an increasing problem as the season progresses. Kaptureís romantic interest is handled badly and reignited unnecessarily and unconvincingly. Despite a few good episodes, this season was pretty bad. In one episode, they even let the female lead investigate a murder where her brother is the prime suspect. Never happen.  Has some good episodes but itís quite a dropoff from the previous seasons. 2/12/14

Chandu on the Magic Island (1935) 

This is the sequel to The Return of Chandu, based on a radio program, and featuring Bela Lugosi in the title role. Bela Lugosi is a magician who tries to protect a young woman whose soul is sought by a cult which hopes to sacrifice her and reincarnate a priestess of Lemuria. The cult can teleport people around which means there is effectively no safe place. They can also magically hypnotize people from a distance. Chandu and the prospective sacrifice set sail on a yacht but the cultists know about the voyage.  This was edited down from a serial and definitely feels like one. Chandu is shipwrecked after the young woman is magically abducted, fortunately on the island of Lemuria so he is able to rescue her. The magical element makes much of the plot pretty meaningless but it has an interesting atmosphere. 2/11/14

Vampires Suck (2010)  

A spoof of teen vampire movies, which are almost a spoof in themselves. A young girl returns to her home town and discovers that a lot of the people there are vampires and werewolves, and naturally she falls for one of them. The jokes are generally pretty obvious and mostly rather silly. There are too many sex oriented jokes, so the tone is hardly uplifting. Never having seen the Twilight movies, I was probably at a disadvantage for this one. Itís not a shortcoming I plan to address. Most of the other references are to television shows and don't even involve vampires, so the minor amusement of spotting the references is also absent. Despite all this, I still suspect it's a better movie than the series it is lampooning. 2/10/14

Penguin Pool Murder (1932)   

The first of six movies featuring Hildegarde Withes, the elderly amateur detective created by Stuart Palmer in a series of novels that are mostly out of print. This one, based on the novel, involves the murder of a nasty stockbroker whose body turns up in a penguin pool at a museum. Miss Withers is a witness who becomes involved in the investigation, which focuses on the dead manís wife and her extra-marital love interest. The latter knocked the victim out during a confrontation earlier. Thereís also a pickpocket who has the dead manís watch in his pocket and a museum official who lost a fortune he had invested through the dead man. Edna May Oliver starred in the first three.  She was a direct descendant of John Quincy Adams. The boyfriend confesses to shield the widow but we know neither of them was responsible. Very nicely done, particularly for 1932. One of the classic mystery movies. Thereís a cute twist at the end. 2/9/14

Murder on the Blackboard  (1934) 

The second Hildegarde Withers mystery has Edna May Oliver as the star with James Gleason returning as the police detective she assists, whether he wants her to or not. Where Robert Armstrong from King Kong was the lawyer in the first, Bruce Cabot from the same movie shows up this time around. A music teacher is beaten to death at a school but the autopsy reveals that she has also been poisoned. Hildegarde discovers the body but itís missing when the police arrive. Thereís a clever clue, a brief melody drawn on her blackboard. The mystery element is slightly better than the first but the execution is not quite as good.2/9/14

Murder on a Honeymoon  (1935) 

Edna May Oliverís third and final appearance as Hildegard Withers. Leo G. Carroll is a movie producer on the same flight with Withers and others, one of whom dies just before the plane lands. Withers doesnít accept the consensus that the man died naturally.  Then a threatening letter is found among the manís possessions and it turns out he was an important witness against organized crime who disappeared before he was to testify. Oliver steals the show again although James Gleason  There are some nice twists in this one including assumed identities and bodynapping.  2/9/14

Murder on a Bridle Path (1936) 

Helen Broderick took over the role of Hildegarde Withers for the fourth in the series, but it was her only appearance in that part. After a fight with her boyfriend, a young woman goes horseback riding in Central Park and is found dead a short while later. At first it appears that she was thrown and then kicked in the head by the horse but Withers concludes otherwise. Helen Broderick is an excellent actress, but she wasnít right for the part of a prim school teacher. The black stable boy is a horrendous stereotype, unfortunately. The writing isnít quite as good either, although the mystery itself is interesting. Part of the solution is an examination of a pipe that tells things about the man who smoked it, and itís all nonsense. The solution is less than convincing. Very disappointing. 2/9/14

The Plot Thickens (1936) 

Zasu Pitts took over the Hildegarde Withers role for the final two movies in the series. A young woman is present when a man is shot to death, but she and her would be boyfriend fake things so that it doesnít appear that she was there at the time. The body is moved from his car to his library, which makes the ballistics fishy. Pitts is okay in the part, but the writing isnít so hot this time around and itís actually James Gleason, her partner on the police force, who dominates the screen. An expensive jewel stolen years earlier shows up, suggesting a motive of sorts. The solution is a bit too simple to be interesting and itís easy to figure out most of the bad guys Ė and there are several of them. 2/9/14

Forty Naughty Girls (1937)

The last and weakest of the Hildegarde Withers movies takes place in and around a live musical production. A man is found lying dead in a dressing room but fortunately Hildegarde is in the audience. They try for laughs as much as mystery and neither really works consistently. The investigation uncovers a stolen manuscript, a jealous boyfriend, blackmail, and other suspicious clues, while Hildegarde wanders around sniffing people trying to find a specific smell she detected at the scene of the murder. Then the prime suspect is murdered on stage when shot with what was supposed to be blanks. Disappointing. 2/9/14

Flaming Signal (1933)   

Iím rather suspicious of any movie that has an animal Ė a dog in this case Ė with the top billing. A long distance pilot and his dog crashland on a Pacific island whose inhabitants are under the thumb of a repressive white man. There he falls in love with the daughter of the local missionary. They plan to leave but before they can do so, the irate natives rebel and decide to wipe out all of the white intruders. The dog, incidentally, has stowed away and parachutes out of the plane on his own. No, Iím not making that up. This looks a lot like a silent film, with exaggerated facial expressions, dramatic gestures, and lots of footage that doesnít require any dialogue. This is actually a fantasy because the dead chief is brought back to life by a ritual and leads the attack. Minor league production with no lasting value. 2/8/14

Murder on the High Seas (1932) 

This early mystery thriller is also known as Love Bound. A con artist and her cronies win a fraudulent judgment against a businessman, claiming that he led her on. The victimís son decides to prove sheís crooked by accompanying her incognito on an ocean voyage, with a friend pretending to be a very rich man. She and her gang decide to target him, but she actually falls in love with our hero, which annoys one of the crooks, who fancies her for himself. Despite all the melodrama, the movie is surprisingly slow moving. The movie is nearly over before the murder takes place Ė one of the cronies shoots the old boyfriend and tries to frame our hero. No one seems to notice that there is no murder weapon at the scene and the innocent man is to be locked up until the femme fatale tells the truth. 2/7/14

Sea Change (2007)   

Although this Jesse Stone mystery is supposedly based on Robert Parkerís novel, the claim is insulting. Molly is on maternity leave, Suitcase is in a coma, Stone is still drinking, and Stoneís ex-wife is still on the West Coast instead of living with him. The book was about a sex ring that involved pedophilia and the murder of a woman by her crazy father. Virtually nothing from the book survives the ďtransitionĒ except the bogus rape charge. Instead, we have a bored Stone looking into an old case about a murder during a bank robbery!  Less important but still annoying, why would a nurse have a screaming fit when someone wakes up from a coma and asks for a cappuchino. The angst about his drinking and his love life gets maudlin this time as well. Thereís a totally pointless shoot out tacked onto the end. Weakest of the eight movies in the series. 2/6/14

Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark (2013) 

Obviously I didnít expect anything approximating quality from this one, which draws its inspiration from the Mechagodzilla movies, no doubt. ďThe Atlantic Ocean was on lockdown todayĒ.  A giant megalodon escapes captivity about the same time scientists have developed a mechanical equivalent for reasons never really explained. Abysmal acting goes without saying. The sound quality is awful, which at least masks some of the stupid dialogue. Thereís a worldwide boating ban, you see, which suggests that the creature can travel to anywhere in the world in a very short period of time, which is of course nonsense. The scientists tell the military that the megalodon is going to be searching for a mate. Half the time it looks as though the actors are suppressing smiles, or maybe just grimaces. At one point an airliner is flying within range of the megashark and it jumps thousands of feet into the air to intercept the plane. Fortunately, the submersible can also jump the same height and knock it down. This already silly series of movies seems to be striving for even greater stupidity, and it succeeds. Bad enough to be funny, but Iím surprised the actors didnít all demand to be allowed to wear paper bags over their heads. The CGI effects are laughable as well. At one point the news services are reporting the sinking of an aircraft carrier before the naval command knows it! Iíve seen better cartoons. The scientist on an urgent mission finds time to look for a missing child along the way. Putrid from beginning to end. 2/5/14

The Face at the Window (1939)   

A mystery set in Paris in 1880. A serial killer known as ďThe WolfĒ is responsible for a wave of terror in the city. The killer is believed by some to be a werewolf. The killer also robs his victims and others and the robbery of a bank leaves the owner desperate for financial aid from a mysterious nobleman. One of the bank clerks Ė who is in love with the ownerís daughter Ė enlists the aid of a scientist to help track down the killer. The rich aristocrat is an obvious villain right from the outset, and also has his eyes on the daughter. He proposes marriage to her father and threatens financial ruin if he is denied. The scientist believes he can briefly reanimate the brains of the dead and proposes to interrogate the next victim of the Wolf. The villain decides to frame the clerk. The banker suspects that the aristocrat is involved with the thefts, but before he can do anything about it, he is murdered by the Wolf. Lots of fingers on curtains, shadows on the wall. Our hero escapes a murder attempt and wounds the killer, the wound providing the means to identify the murderer. This was pretty good, with a series of twists and reversals at the end, and a nice windup. 2/4/14

The Starving Games (2013) 

I have a weakness for movie spoofs, even the really bad ones, and most of them are varying degrees of bad. This one, obviously, takes a poke at The Hunger Games.  It follows the main plot line but the jokes are either predictable or very silly, and there are only a few mild chuckles. The silly costumes are obvious but they were so funny in the original that the spoof misfires. The basic unfairness of the contest in the original is an obvious target, but the lampooning isnít remotely funny. Itís sometimes fun to watch for allusions to other movies but except for an awkward Harry Potter reference, there arenít any.  2/3/14

Jesse James Meets Frankensteinís Daughter (1966)   

I had seen Billy the Kid vs Dracula a couple of times but I donít think Iíve ever watched this one before. Following a gunfight, James brings a wounded friend to the local doctor, who happens to be Frankensteinís grand-daughter (not his daughter).  She and her brother have been performing brain transplant experiments in secret and the wounded man is a prime subject. Some of the actors like Jim Davis struggle to do a good job but others arenít even marginally competent. It takes half of the movie to get them to the Frankensteinís, however, after a series of routine adventures. The villains insert an artificial brain into Jesseís friend and restore him to life under his new name Ė Igor. The good guys win because Igor remembers his friends. How is that possible if he has a different brain?  Not bad enough to be funny Ė just bad and overly long. 2/2/14

Legacy of Blood (1971) 

John Carradine, Faith Domergue, and Jeff Morrow headline this disappointing thriller, also known as Blood Legacy. A tyrannical but wealthy man dies and the terms of his will require his four children and their husbands and wives to remain a weak in his creepy old house, where someone begins murdering them. Carradine is the dead man, who appears through flashbacks and recordings. The three family servants are similarly bound to the estate, and they inherit if all of the children die. I like Old Dark House style mystery movies well enough to put up with some pretty bad ones, but this has nothing going for it. The characters are all cads who deserve what they get, the acting is at best mediocre, the camera work is dreadful, and even the soundtrack is of low quality. Needless to say, the plot doesnít rise above the rest of the production qualities. The dog probably puts in the best performance and he only lasts 15 minutes Not worth watching even if youíre desperate. 2/1/14

The Galaxy Invader  (1985) 

Kong Island (1968) 

An odd pairing for a double feature. The first one is about a crashed alien battling redneck hunters and the second is about an expedition to Kong Island to experiment on gorilla brains. I find it hard to believe that the people who made the first didnít know that they were producing utter tripe. Brain dead dialogue, self conscious acting, crummy special effects, absolute nonsense masquerading as a plot. Scientists report having seen something with ďan unusual massĒ.  What the hell is an unusual mass? The scene where a bunch of the characters stand around a featureless white ball and exclaim about how startling and valuable it must be Ė even though it is at that point simply a featureless white ball Ė is pricelessly awful. Painful to watch. The second movie is also known as King of Kong Island. Searching for the man who shot him, our hero travels to Africa and falls in love with a girl who is promptly kidnapped by a band of gorillas. Not guerillas. The gorillas have been brainwashed by a mad scientist. When the protagonist starts searching for her, he encounters a female Tarzan figure who can communicate with the gorillas. Incidentally, theyíre on mainland Africa, not an island, despite the title. The gorilla suits are remarkably bad. 1/31/14

Jungle Siren (1942) 

Buster Crabbe stars in this jungle adventure story. The Nazis are planning to take over an African village and Crabbe is an American agent sent to stop them. Instead, he ends up being rescued by a beautiful white woman Ė played by former stripper Ann Corio Ė who lives alone in the jungle, a kind of female Tarzan. After some early adventure sequences, the movie bogs down alternating between pointless conversations and the antics of Crabbeís comic relief sidekick. Picks up toward the end but this was pretty much a yawner. 1/30/14

Diary of the Dead (2007)

Another George Romero zombie film. He seems almost to be making fun of himself here, and he uses the absolute worst new film idea of the last twenty years or so, the hand held camera and the supposed found footage. A group of amateurs are making a horror movie when they hear on the news that the dead are rising and attacking the living. The story emerges as their camera man records the reactions of the various characters, which means lots of jerky camera work, indirect footage, and generally annoying efforts to make it seem real that only emphasize how hokey the whole thing is. Some of the acting is so bad it defies belief and the script is so bad that they seem even worse than they actually are. Not a suspenseful moment in the entire movie.1/29/14

Murder by Television (1935)   

Bela Lugosi stars in this marginally SF thriller. An inventor develops a revolutionary new kind of television signal that can be transmitted instantly all over the world, but he doesnít get to make use of it because he is murdered live on camera during his premier broadcast. The prime suspect is his assistant, Lugosi, who is himself murdered soon afterward. A rival television producer is also an obvious suspect, and thereís a mysterious emissary who tried unsuccessfully to purchase the technology and made a vague threat. The plot cheats a great deal. It turns out that Lugosi has an identical twin brother, who happens to be a federal investigator. The explanation of how the murder was done is absolute nonsense involving broadcast waves becoming lethal. Very minor, and mildly irritating. 1/28/14

Murder in the Red Barn (1935)   

This movie is based on what might have been the most frequently performed play of  19th Century England, which in turn was based on a true story, although the female protagonist was apparently not quite so virtuous as portrayed here. The nod to the play is demonstrated by the opening, in which the characters are introduced on a stage, although the story itself is more conventionally conveyed. A charming but villainous squire seduces a young girl away from her lover, gets her pregnant, and then murders her to conceal what heís done. There are hints in the movie that she isnít as naÔve as she appears but itís possible that was just bad acting. The squire kills her and buries her body in his barn, but the gypsy who loved her figures out the truth. Rather dull overall, although it introduced Tod Slaughter, who would later shine as The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. More of historical interest than actual entertainment. 1/27/14

Hop Harrigan (1946)  

A cliff hanger serial about two aviators who fly a scientist to his secret laboratory where he is developing a new power source. Not surprisingly, a gang of villains want the device for themselves and they have a death ray to help them. Eventually theyíre defeated, but the scientist is crazy and intends to destroy the world, so thereís a second plot to carry us to the end. This was based on a radio program but the actor playing Hop seems much too old for the part. Some of the stunts defy belief. One plane has its landing gear stuck, so our hero flies under it, climbs to the top of his own plane, and pulls the gear down. The story goes back and forth like most serials but the thrills are less interesting than usual and some of the acting is over the top. Slightly below average for its type. 1/26/14

Vampyre Nation  (2012)

Also known as True Bloodthirst, this is set in a future in which synthetic blood allows vampires to come out of the coffin and live among humans, although they are promptly quarantined. When three vampires and a blood dealer are attacked and killed by a strange creature, an investigator suspects that humanity faces a new threat. A convict is sprung from prison to help because heís an experienced vampire hunter. Dialogue and acting vary from competent to mind numbing and the special effects are nothing to write home about. Parts of the plot donít make sense Ė if the vampires are quarantined, why are two of them in a human bar to confront our hero, and why doesnít the police officer present do something about it? Sometimes the vampires explode in sparks when they die, but sometimes they donít. If bullets can kill vampires, why can someone dying of a bullet wound be saved by being bitten? Did I mention that the heroís name is John Harker? Cute.  Very few elements of the society are explained, so itís frequently difficult to figure out whatís happening or why. It appears that tainted blood has caused certain vampires to devolve into giant winged batpeople, whom the vampires want to cure but the humans want to kill. Minor. Andrew Lee Potts is the only cast member who seems to be trying. I believe the title is a play on Alien Nation, because the plot is virtually identical to that vastly superior movie except that vampires replace the aliens.1/25/14

Murder at Glen Athol (1932) 

A private detective is attempting to take some time off to write a book when he gets coerced into attending a house party. His hostess, whose husband is institutionalized, is apparently blackmailing a local mobster because she has information that could get him arrested for murder. Then the butler shoots someone on the roof, who turns out to be the recently escaped husband rather than a burglar. Another body turns up in one of the guest rooms and the man from the roof mentions killing someone before dying himself. Thereís a bloody knife next to the dead man, but he was bludgeoned, not stabbed. The hostess is in bed, stabbed to death. The police think the injured man killed both of them, but the protagonist obviously thinks otherwise. I was suspicious of the real killer very early on Ė the old trick of talking to the dead person through a half open door in the presence of others to confuse the time of death. It is also mentioned later that the dead woman is in rigor although the other victim is not, which suggests a longer time before the body was found. Even though I guessed the solution, this was very enjoyable. 1/24/14

Fog Island (1945) 

George Zucco plays a man imprisoned for embezzlement, who was actually betrayed by his fellow workers, although itís not clear whether or not he was actually innocent. He also believes that one of them murdered his wife. After his release, he entices them all out to his obscure island home with promises of sharing ill gotten gains with them. He has rigged the island with elaborate booby traps and announces a treasure hunt, but one of the invitees has recently died and his son comes in his place, which disrupts the plans somewhat, particularly as he has a history with Zuccoís daughter. Thereís a sťance, cryptic clues, secret passages, and traditional elements of this kind of mystery. Lionel Atwill is the most interesting of the guests and more murder will take place before the story is over. Well above average. 1/23/14

Curse of Chucky (2013)  

I have enjoyed the previous installments of this series about a homicidal doll better than I expected in almost every case. This one is a bit more claustrophobic. The doll arrives as a package at a house where a woman lives with her adult daughter, who is confined to a wheelchair. The woman is killed that night, crime unsolved although we know who did it, and that brings the other daughter and her family to the scene. Sis wants to sell the house and put the protagonist in an assisted living center, so obviously tensions follow. Chucky has extra powers this time, which I think was a mistake. He can cause accidents to occur from a distance, for example. Giving him that much power makes it implausible that he would be defeated.  It also takes too long to get started. Chucky doesnít become animate until 45 minutes have passed. Watchable, but weakest in the series. 1/22/14

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916) 

This silent film was the first major film to use underwater photography and made a considerable impression when it was released. First of all, Iím amazed at how well preserved the print is. The Nautilus looks a lot like a real, early submarine although it has a spine like the later Disney version. The basic plot is unaltered but there are a number of additions including the crew of a balloon, a not particularly sexy jungle girl, etc. The underwater photography is surprisingly good for its time and the undersea divers wear what appears to be scuba gear of some sort, even though it would not be invented for more than twenty years. Iím not really a fan of silent movies Ė except Buster Keatonís The General Ė but this one is very watchable and surprisingly modern in many ways. 1/21/14

Hellís Headquarters (1936)   

This one is a jungle adventure in which two men are determined to retrieve a cache of ivory hidden in a cave in a remote part of the Congo. As usual there is a lot of stock footage of animals, plus some of what appears to be original filming in Africa.  Thereís a bit of a mystery involving the death of another man who knew about the ivory, but the first half of the movie is actually quite slow moving. The villain is a terrible actor and the rest of the cast is only marginally better. There are a couple of good scenes including one where a cheetah attacks a woman, and thereís a surprisingly strong and resourceful black character considering the time the film was made, but itís still only watchable if your expectations are low. 1/20/14

The Wizard of Gore (2008)   

Hereís another remake that should never have been considered, based on a movie that was even worse. The premise is that a stage illusionist kills women on stage in very bloody ways, but they are fully recovered by the end of the act. Unfortunately, they show up later mutilated in the same way that they were on stage. The original had bottom drawer acting and special effects. The remake is better in both categories but still doesnít rise above its mediocre and exploitive plot. The opening sequence is mostly incoherent, badly photographed, and the sound is off. Then we flashback to a week earlier and the improvement is marginal at best. The overacting is painful to watch. I barely made it to the end. 1/19/14

Savage Fury (1935)   

This is a feature version of a cliffhanger serial based very loosely on Jan of the Jungle by Otis Adelbert Kline. Jan was an obvious Tarzan ripoff but never as popular and I believe there were only two novels, both of them hard to find. Noah Beery stars as the orphan raised in the wild who wears a loincloth and gets captured by a band of bad guys who want his dead fatherís secret discovery. He and a young girl escape thanks to a shipwreck and then travel across Africa to her homeland, the lost city of Mu. Thereís a lot of redundancy in serials, but even so, they cut so much out for the feature that itís not clear whatís going on all the time. The female lead is conspicuously lacking in talent. There are cannibals, an erupting volcano, an ancient prophecy, stock shots of lions, and lots of running around and lots of predictable racism. The citizens of Mu speak English because they are descended from a lost expedition. How convenient. The girl turns out to be the emperorís lost daughter. Also convenient.  Thereís also the obligatory cute chimp. Not terrible but only minimally watchable. 1/18/14

The Case of the Black Pearl (1931) 

A German duke is stranded in the US when the government freezes his funds. He meets an amiable man who offers to help him out in return for a favor, but it turns out the man is a swindler who cons a jewelry company and leaves the duke holding the bag. In true mystery story tradition, the duke has to capture the crook and return the money to restore his good name, even though the jewelry dealer is also engaging in a con, although itís his girlfriend who saves the day. A promising opening peters out quickly and the second half of the movie is just a rather dreary comedy of errors. This could have been a lot better than it is if the writing had help up. Also known as Sally of the Subway.

12 Disasters (2012)   

This was originally the 12 Disasters of Christmas, and the premise is that the poem about the 12 days of Christmas was actually a message from the ancient Mayans about a potential end of the world. Except that the poem is European!  The teenage protagonist discovers that she is heir to a psychic power passed down through females in her family when her grandmother interprets ďsignsĒ that a crisis is in the works. Grandma dies almost immediately, impaled by hail in the shape of spears! So eight minutes into what is supposed to be a frightening and exciting movie, Iím laughing and shaking my head. A few hours later the family seems unaffected by the tragedy, which was sudden and gory. Nor do we know why the end of the world is only happening in a small town in Idaho. The chosen one who saves the world is known as JC. Subtle, considering her parents are named Mary and Joseph. The bad guy is named Kane and the turncoat is Jude. And the town is called Calvary. Our heroes have to find the five rings, four of which were buried a thousand years earlier, but theyíre only a few inches deep. The Mayans arenít likely to have been involved with Christian prophecies and they didnít publish bound books either. The writers canít subtract either. Europeans have not been intermarrying with Native Americans for a thousand years. An aggressively stupid movie. 1/16/14

The Lost Zeppelin (1929) 

This early talkie is supposedly based, or at least inspired, by real events. An expedition sets off by zeppelin to reach the South Pole. There are long gaps in the dialogue, probably a holdover from the silent era. Thereís an awkwardly portrayed romantic triangle presented in the early scenes preceding the voyage, which go on far too long. Their flight only takes ten minutes of screen time before they crash due to storms and ice forming on the body of the airship. The downed crew has no radio and limited fuel and they have to contend with more storms and mini-avalanches in sets that are surprisingly good for the 1920s.  Predictably, only the two male parts of the triangle survive, and the search plane that finds them can only take one passenger, so the other will be left to die. I did wonder why they would bother sending a search plane if there was no possibility of sending a rescue party, but itís more dramatic this way. The wronged husband rigs the straws so that he stays behind. And why would there be a major parade for the lone survivor of a failed expedition? And then the husband survives after all, suggesting that someone hadnít thought about how long an interval must have passed. 1/15/14

Woman on the Run (1950) 

While out walking his dog, a man witnesses a gangland killing, but fearing for his life, he goes into hiding. The police are after him for obvious reasons, but so is his wife, who thinks he has just deserted her. Thereís also a newspaper reporter who wants to find him for reasons of his own. Spoiler Alert. Thereís a great scene in which we realize that the reporter who is helping the woman find her husband is actually the killer whoís after him.  This is an excellent thriller, with crisp dialogue, above average performances, and a good plot. Ann Sheridan steals the show as a competent, feisty, and determined woman. Big climax on a roller coast. This oneís almost Hitchcock quality and Iím amazed it isnít better known. 1/14/14

Omoo Omoo the Shark God (1949)   

Supposedly based on the novel by Herman Melville, which is in turn based in part upon his own experiences. A group of adventurers travel to the South Pacific in 1874. The shipís crew is an unruly lot given to fights over the flimsiest reasons and the captain is sick in bed. The doctor aboard is a drinker and when he falls into a stupor, one of the hands performs a native ritual in an attempt to cure the ailing captain. The doctor is convinced that the captainís ailment involves a native curse. It turns out that the captain stole two giant pearls, eyes of the shark god, and was cursed by a witch doctor. Now the crew is determined to steal the pearls for themselves, if they can find them. Thereís a lot of stock undersea and wildlife footage to pad out the action, which is really rather tame. The female lead could have used some acting lessons. Itís not surprising that she never received billing in any other movie. Marginally fantasy based on what appears to be a genuine magical curse. 1/13/14

Ghosts of Hanley House (1968) 

The opening of this minor horror movie consists of lots of doors opening and closing by themselves, the sound of a woman screaming, thunder, and a hand picking up an axe. If it was meant to create a mood, it failed miserably because it just looks silly and it goes on for almost four minutes. Then we have two guys in a pool hall making a ridiculous bet about a supposedly haunted house. The soundtrack is noisy and blurry and tinny all at once. One of them agrees to spend a night in the house, as long as he can invite along some friends for a party. Some of the scenes immediately following, which have no dialogue, are incomprehensible except that it appears that no one wants to join him. A couple moved out after living there for some time, and since then only two people spent the night; one committed suicide and the other went crazy. Dumb. The acting would be the worst aspect of the film if it hadnít been for the camera work, which is so awful it defies description. The camera is almost always stationary and people walk in and out of the frame. Eventually he does round up a handful of bad actors and the night begins. Thereís no explanation for why the house is not only furnished but full of valuable antiques. Or why the power and water would be on in an abandoned house. One of the guests is a medium, naturally, who can insert plot points whenever the writers couldnít figure out how to do it. The dialogue and delivery are inane. At one point they dance to a record they are playing, but itís a classical piece that bears no relation to their dancing. A parade of clichťs follows. Wolf calls, strange noises, cold spots, clocks running backwards, a spider that appears and disappears. Then, even after one of them is attacked by ghostly hands, they all decide to go to bed. A mysterious box appears and they make no effort to open it. They are all awakened by the sound of horse running across the roof Ė no explanation so I guess it was the only sound effect they could find. One of the women is missing, but no one seems bothered. Instead they hold a sťance. Eventually they decide to leave Ė though they still havenít looked for the missing woman Ė but the car wonít start. They decide to walk but through the dark woods rather than along the road, but of course they get lost and end up back at the house. Two object to re-entering the house Ė and no one suggests following the road Ė but the medium says they have no choice but to go back inside Ė which isnít true Ė and no one argues. Bad enough to be funny for a while, but not long enough. 1/12/14

Big Ass Spider (2013)

This looked like a spoof of giant spider movies and since I like giant spider movies, I couldnít resist.  The hero is an exterminator who goes out of his way to be nice to his sometimes paranoid customers. Greg Grunberg is perfect for the part and even gets some good dialogue. Heís having a spider bite treated when a peculiar looking spider attacks a technician in the hospital morgue. I was expecting something the quality of Troma films but itís actually much better, with reasonably good special effects, an entertaining script, and for the most part adequate to quite good acting. Ray Wise shows up with a military unit to take control of the hospital and find the body that was carrying the spider. This is a common error in horror movies. The military has no jurisdiction. Itís also not plausible that a patient who is being heavily monitored could flatline without anyone noticing. Anyway, the spider doubles in size every few hours and sprays acid to dissolve the flesh it wants to eat. The attack in the park is very effectively done and while there are a few clumsy moments, for the most part this is a very fine monster movie. 1/11/14

Danger on the Air (1938) 

The sponsor of a popular radio program is murdered during the broadcast of his program by means unknown. Although the studio manager wants to cover things up, three of his employees decide to solve the crime. This, naturally, makes them all likely to be follow up victims as the killer tries to cover his tracks. It turns out that the dead man recently drove a competitor out of business and he also had a visit from a gangster only minutes before he died. Thereís also a janitor annoyed at the sponsorís attentions to his daughter and another woman who recently rejected his advances. Itís a modified locked room mystery because the dead man was alone when he died, but we find out very early that it was probably poisonous gas introduced through the ventilator into the small room where he was sitting. The second murder is a bit more clever and thereís lots of brisk dialogue. One of the better mystery movies from this era. 1/10/14

The Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968)   

Second in a trilogy of really cheaply made horror films. This one even has Angelique Pettyjohn as its female lead. An investigator travels to a remote island to look into a series of grisly murders which are linked to a mad scientist who has experimenting with chlorophyll Ė resulting in green zombie killers! The early scenes are predictable. Native girl swimming nude in a pool. Deformed face at the window. People acting strangely as though they were concealing something. Woman frightened by snake in tree over her head. One of the green zombies chases the girl and kills a local man. Some of the scenery looked like it might be nice if it had been photographed more skillfully. Despite the melodrama, however, the story moves with glacial slowness. Most of the short death scenes verge on being funny because theyíre so badly done.  Also features the most unerotic love scene of all time. 1/9/14

Sanitarium (2013) 

Malcolm McDowell is the frame story narrator for these three creepy stories. The movie unfortunately opens with an irritating monologue which claims that insanity is a communicable disease. Each story is about one of his patients. The first one has John Glover as a madman who talks to his dolls. Glover does a good madman, but itís not always clear what heís reacting to or why. The plot is rather convoluted but not awful. The second story involves a young boy who keeps seeing a mysterious figure.  The end of this one isnít particularly clear either. The final installment is not only incoherent, itís incredibly boring. A lot of good talent was completely wasted in this mess. The writers have absolutely no grasp of how to tell a story. 1/8/14

Brides of Blood (1968) 

First of three movies with a common setting though the plots are different. Three Americans arrive on a remote island where they discover that radioactivity has caused plants and animals to mutate into monsters that often dismember their victims. Kent Taylor is a scientist whose wife, a nymphomaniac, has accompanied them and who spends most of her time being obnoxious. Anyway, the local population has reverted to some primitive practices because they believe the changes are a judgment of their behavior Ė and we later discover they are sacrificing maidens to appease what they think are angry gods. The third American is a peace corps worker who for some reason thinks he can establish a school even though he doesnít speak the local language and they donít speak English. Then we learn that sunset comes much earlier in the day on the island, another byproduct of the radiation. Huh? Shortly after arriving, they notice a tree that moves its branches of its own volition, which should have made them suspicious. When I first saw this in a theater back when it first appeared, it was the first time Iíd ever seen topless nudity on the screen, but even that didnít save it from being dismally dull. 1/7/14

The Adventures of Fu Manchu Vol 2 (1956) 

I used to watch this on television when I was ten years old and even then I recognized that the actor playing Fu Manchu Ė not an Asian Ė was chewing the scenery and making a conscious effort to show his teeth whenever he talked. He never even approached being sinister despite his various plots to undermine the US government. This disc contains four complete episodes, starting with one in which the evil genius employs assassins to eliminate prominent scientists connected to a secret fighter plane project. The second episode is more ambitious and less sensible. Atomic bombs have been dropped on various American cities and the Panama Canal. Or is it? Weíre later told it was just a drill, but why then is the stock market in turmoil? The plot gets even sillier after that. Why would they have to fake a photo of Niagara Falls rather than just go take a picture? And why would that cause a panic? In the third, Fu Manchu diverts aircraft so that he can take experts prisoner. What in the world is artificial oxygen? And finally Fu Manchu is foiled in his effort to gain control of a company that makes poison gas.  A very minor show that didnít last very long. 1/6/14

Striptease (1996) 

Adaptation of the Carl Hiaasen comic crime novel about a woman Ė Demi Moore - who has to take a job as a stripper in order to have enough income to support her daughter, following her divorce from a total loser. Unfortunately her new career brings her to the attention of a lecherous, corrupt politician Ė Burt Reynolds Ė who assaults another customer at the club. Another fan offers to blackmail the politician, and that leads to murder.  Complications arise when she kidnaps her daughter, the ruthless backers of the politician decide to eliminate any threats to his re-election, and an inquisitive police officer decides to find out whatís going on. The first half is reasonably loyal to the book but it begins to diverge after a while and Hiaasenís particular style of humor does not always translate to the screen. The transitions from serious to humorous are sometimes jarring. A very uneven movie with good and bad parts and performances sprinkled throughout. 1/5/14

Attack of the Octopus People (1954)   

This ďhomageĒ to 1950s monster movies was directed and stars a sixteen year old, so my expectations were pretty low. Itís filmed in black and white, which actually makes sense, and itís filmed in cephaloporama, which gives away the fact that itís not particularly serious. The soundtrack changes levels so dramatically that I had to adjust the sound level more than once, itís occasionally out of sync, and there are annoying echoes and really amateurish camera work. It looks like a high school project, which is exactly what it is. In a sense itís also ahead of its time because global warming has caused some sea creatures to mutate and become intelligent. When a body shows up with giant octopus marks, thirty miles from the ocean, our hero suspects that the mutated creatures can move overland. One great bit of dialogue. ďOctopuses are taking over the world.Ē ďIsnít that octopi?Ē It gets sillier as it goes along. Also included is a short subject, ďFrankenstein vs HitlerĒ, another spoof, this one done as a silent film. Itís actually mildly better than the feature. 1/4/14

The Pointing Finger (1934)

A mildly interesting but uneven movie that opens with the new head of an aristocratic family being apprised of a family curse, just as he is about to set out on an expedition to Africa. Another man, the protagonist's virtual twin, appears to have have taken his place to get the considerable legacy, while a cousin hires a man to kill our hero while he's on the dark continent, for the same purposes. Natives appear to have saved him the trouble but the impersonator moves to take control of the estate. A mysterious painting of a cowled monk is connected to the curse and the villain begins to believe that the picture moves slightly at times, although this is clearly psychological rather than supernatural. His impersonation isn't very good; he apparently knows very little about the life and habits of the man he is replacing. Despite the melodramatic plot, the story moves far too slowly to be gripping, and like other movies in the transitional period between silents and talkies, there are exaggerated facial expressions and pauses in the dialogue. The solution depends on an incredible string of coincidences and feels fatally far fetched. The climax perks things up a bit but not enough to save the movie.  1/3/14

Red 2 (2013)

Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and the gang are back for another round the world chase conducted by supposedly retired secret agents. This time they're on the trail of a revolutionary type of nuclear weapon concealed inside the Kremlin by mad scientist Anthony Hopkins. Also on its trail is a murderous government agent who wants the technology for the USA and on their tail is a Korean hitman with a grudge against Willis. Lots of chases, captures, escapers, and gunfights, all with a nice overlay of humor. Mary-Louise Parker is the girlfriend who wants to help - and eventually does - despite the efforts by Willis to keep her out of the line of fire. There's never a dull moment and a satisfying climax finishes it off. Lots of fun. 1/2/14

Stone Cold  (2005)   

Taken from the Robert Parker novel, which dealt with a pair of married serial killers, alternating with an unrelated teenage rape incident. As with the other adaptations in this series, some of the dialogue is lifted right from the book and a lot of the changes are superficial. Stone temporarily adopts the orphaned dog in this version, for example, but it eventually goes to the rape victim as in the book. The sequence of events is shuffled considerably but for the most part it stays pretty loyal. The killers are egotists who decide to take out Stoneís love interest as their latest challenge. They succeed eventually which adds a personal note, and then they decide to kill Stone as well, which is ultimately their undoing.  The end is very different, involving the inevitable shootout, but this time Stone gets to kill one and capture the other. 1/1/14

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