Last Update 9/30/20

 

Frankenstein í80 (1972)  

A really misogynistic movie about a scientist who creates a human monster who preys on Ė supposedly Ė beautiful women. There is not one single good thing I can say about this abomination. It is awful in concept, even worse in execution. How did they raise enough money to make this Ė by lying through their teeth? This would have been subpar during the 1930s, let alone the 1970s. 9/30/20

Dracula III: Legacy (2005) 

A pair of vampire hunters travel to near future Romania to track down and destroy Dracula. This is a Wes Craven film, so I figured it would at least be watchable and itís all of that. Good cast, sometimes interesting special effects, entertaining action sequences. The story could have used some work but itís okay. NATO has sent in troops and the rebels insist that all government officials appear in daylight before they will talk, so obviously they know about infiltration by vampires. The vampire on stilts is clever. The second half, alas, does not hold up very well. 9/27/20

Metamorphosis (1990)  

Faced with a loss of his funding, a scientist experiments on himself, altering his DNA. Not a good idea, obviously. It turns him into a monster who naturally wants to hunt down and kill all those people who interfered in his career and forced him to take such a drastic chance, even though initially he thinks the results are beneficial. The acting is subpar. The characters all speak in monotones even when they are supposed to be enthusiastic ore angry. Even if it had been better acted, it would have been dull anyway. The human interest stuff is a waste of time since it is not down well enough to be believable. 9/25/20

The Monster Maker (1944) 

Clumsy but occasionally unsettling film about a scientist who discovers a way to infect people with acromegaly, causing them to grow into grotesque caricatures of humans. I was not surprised that efforts have been made to suppress this as politically incorrect. I always liked J. Carroll Naish and it was good to see him again but the truth is that this is really not a very good movie. The production values are low, the acting uninspiring, and the plot could have used a serious overhaul. 9/24/20

Elementary Season 7 (2019) 

The final season appeared to have jumped the shark early on. Holmes and Watson are in London after he falsely confessed to a murder to avert suspicion from Watson, who is also innocent. Then there is a tectonic change and weíre back in New York for a series of solid episodes in which it is clear that some mysterious organization is at work. They summarily dropped the subplot about Watson adopting a baby, which was stupid to start with, although they restore it for the final episode. The episodes after that arenít bad.  Their duel with the Bill Gates clone who has organized a program to kill people who might kill others is reasonably engaging, although the resolution in the penultimate episode is disappointing. His name is Reichenbach and he Fails, during which Holmes apparently falls from a bridge to his death, a nice touch. The final episode crams too much into a small space - the supposed death of Moriarty, Gregson's retirement, Watson's cancer and recovery therefrom, her adopted son, and the renegade NSA agent. 9/23/20

Maniac  (1934) 

Thereís a pretty silly plot for this one, not atypical of its type. A scientist has developed a serum with which he reanimates the dead body of a woman. He also has a still beating heart without a body, so he tries to convince his assistant to commit suicideto help with the experiments. The assistant is having none of that and kills the scientist instead. But he has to impersonate his old boss in order to cover up the murder. His impersonation is a bit too good, however, because he becomes as mad as his predecessor. Horribly over acted. 9/20/20

Doctor Who 12th Series (2019)  

The disc organization on this is terrible. You have to go through the previews every time you want to watch a single episode and you have to go to the first scene within the episode in order to run it. The two part opening story in this series is hopelessly confusing, involving the destruction of Gallifrey, visits to various time periods in Earthís history, mysterious aliens from another dimension, DNA tampering, impersonations, doppelgangers, the Master, and a revelation about the Doctorís past. A constant problem in recent years has been the urge to cram too much plot into an episode, leaving us no time to enjoy the characters. This episode repeats the major contradiction in the series. The Doctor erases memories so that she wonít change history Ė but she doesnít wipe memories in our present, which is also part of history. And the new TARDIS is ugly. The episode about the mutants at the resort just stinks from beginning to end.  The Tesla episode is pretty good, but the scorpion queen was laughable. The Judoon invasion is okay, but why do they spend so much time trying to modify the canon? Now we have two iterations of the Doctor who donít remember each other, plus a re-destroyed Gallifrey, plus the Master insisting that they are not who they think they are. Thereís almost no transition from one episode to the next, which really detracts from any sense of unity. The next episode is incoherent. The one after that is even worse. Bad science, bad plotting. Itís hard to get involved in a story when you have no idea what is going on, half way through. The three part cybermen adventure at the end starts off well, but quickly becomes overly convoluted. I no longer care if they cancel the show. 9/16/20

The Drums of Jeopardy (1931)   

This early film about a mad scientist stars Warner Oland as Dr. Boris Karlov (yes, thatís correct). He plans to kill off all the members of an aristocratic Russian family because he holds them responsible for the death of his daughter. He gets some of them before the others begin to get wise to the situation. Not too bad given its age, but it isnít going to please many modern viewers looking for a horror film. It's actually just a murder mystery with some horror references.

Death Warmed Up (1984) 

A mad scientist obsessed with conquering death ends up producing zombies rather than curing anything. Big surprise. He is opposed by a young man who was hypnotized into killing his parents, and later decides to avenge himself on the author of his woes. Death and dismemberment follow, along with some weirdly distorted characters and occasional odd bits that might have been interesting in another context. This is from New Zealand so the scenery, what one can see of it, is interesting. The story really is not.  9/8/20

Counterblast (1948) 

A surprisingly well done thriller also released as Devilís Plot. A Nazi scientist who escapes detection takes the place of a British counterpart in order to secretly develop a vaccine that will protect the German people, but no one else, when a presumably resurgent Germany launches a bacteriological attack for the next war.  A bit slow at times but a decent suspense thriller. 9/7/20

Frozen Alive (1964) 

This actually had an interesting idea and did not screw it up entirely, but ultimately it was a boring exploration of the theme. A scientist decides to use himself in an experiment in suspended animation, but just as he undergoes the treatment his wife is murdered and he is the prime suspect, Good acting, a few good scenes, but low production values ultimately undercut its promise. The legal implications could have been interesting but unfortunately they would not have been very cinematic. A near miss. 9/6/20

Vampire Journals (1997) 

This gothic style vampire movie is more impressive visually than most of the other Full Moon films Iíve seen - and I've seen a lot of them, but that is poor consolation for the corny dialogue, poor acting, and listless plot. The voiceover narration is even worse than the actual spoken dialogue. The plot involves lots of vampire slaying but none of it particularly interesting. Iíve seen better films from amateurs. Or maybe I should say I've seen better films from more talented amateurs. This is one you should miss. 9/5/20

Snatchers (2019) 

I am very fond of spoofs of horror and SF movies. I have even watched all five Sharknado movies. This is better than them but not by a whole lot. The female protagonist has sex with her boyfriend and promptly gives birth to an alien creature. The jokes arenít that great, but the cast makes a valiant enough effort to hold your interest. Unfortunately the writing really isnít all that good and the jokes arenít really funny. This could be a classic case of how important writing is because the cast was too good for what they had to work with. 9/4/20

The Corpse Vanishes  (1942)  

One of Bela Lugosiís minor but somewhat interesting films. He is a mad scientist who abducts young woman, extracts a substance from their bodies, and uses the extract to extend the life of his more or less dead wife. He specializes in killing them at their weddings, which is an interesting twist, and then steals their bodies. Will she be restored completely, and what will she think of the manner in which she was saved?  The police are baffled because he is so clever. I was baffled that the movie ever got released to theaters.  9/3/20

Shadow of Chinatown  (1936)

This is actually the feature version of one of the few cliffhanger serials I didnít already own. Itís mostly an ongoing battle between a mad scientist and various Chinese criminal groups, one of them directed by a kind of dragon lady. I really enjoy the cliffhangers and this is one of the better ones. Lots of fun but donít take it too seriously. 9/2/20

The Phantom Creeps  (1939) 

A clumsy but somehow appealing suspense movie with a really absurd robot. Bela Lugosi stars in what was originally a serial Ė this is the consolidated version. Constant overacting, typical of a Lugosi movie. He is a scientist who has built a supposedly invulnerable robot, He also develops invisibility and other weapons and because he is bitter about the way he has been treated in the past, he decides to take over the world. The edited version appears to have left out most of the action sequences, which is a shame.  9/1/20

 Son of Ingagi  (1940) 

There are some odd and vaguely interesting moments in this one, but the plot is so overly complicated that it is hard to follow and certainly not interesting. The most remarkable thing is the interracial marriage of the two people at the center of the plot. There is an ape man, a potion that causes violent assaults, a hidden mystery, and some oddball characters. Technically I suppose this is science fiction, but it feels more like low grade horror. Emphasis on the "low grade." More of a curiosity than an entertainment. 8/31/20

The Lucifer Complex (1978) 

Robert Vaughn, Aldo Ray, and Keenan Wynn prevent this from being completely worthless, but none of them were likely proud of it. But they are mostly involved in cameos and the first half of the movie is so dull and preachy that I was half asleep before they showed up. Even worse, I donít think the people making the film even had any interest in its apparent antiwar theme.  The plot involves a plot by neo-Nazis to use clones to take over the world. They don't succeed. Neither does the movie. 8/30/20

Barge People (2018)  

The acting in this routine horror movie is adequate, although the characters are pretty shallow. The premise is that mutants prey on people who travel in barges along a remote canal in England. The soundtrack is not only inappropriate for what is happening, but it becomes intrusive and irritating at times. A party of four are on vacation and keep finding bloody shoes and other dire warnings. Several characters deserve their fate. Horror movie producers just canít seem to resist having obnoxious characters. I was hoping for something along the lines of Creature from the Black Lagoon, but I got C.H.U.D. instead. It ends up being barely watchable and completely forgettable. 8/29/20

Deep Blue Sea 3 (2020) 

The third in this loosely connected franchise gets off to a terrible start because the protagonist is a complete jerk and I started to cheer on the sharks from that point on. The technician falling in love after two minutes conversation with a visitor was insultingly stupid. That said, this was still a definite improvement over the second movie, and the underwater photography is excellent. Three mentally enhanced sharks are roaming the ocean and various parties have various ideas of how to deal with the problem. There is actually relatively little about the sharks, actually, and the villains are one dimensional. One good line. They throw the body of one of the villains into the water to attract the sharks, and one of them says ďSorry, chum.Ē 8/28/20

Teenage Zombies (1959) 

A group of obviously too old teenagers visit a mysterious island where a mad scientist Ė female for a change Ė begins turning them into traditional zombies. Really awful, as you might expect, and it feel as though the soundtrack was added in the studio after the fact because it doesnít match the picture. Totally lacking in imagination, and with some outstandingly stupid dialogue. ďI tied it real good.Ē 8/27/20

Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952) 

Lugosi appeared in some really awful movies, of which this is one. This is actually a spoof of mad scientist movies, but it is so badly done that it is not even as funny as several that attempt to be serious. Lugosiís popularity never ceases to amaze me as he had only the most rudimentary acting skills and even in his best role, Dracula, he was less than impressive. 8/26/20

Panic (1982)

Aka Bakterion. An experiment goes wrong and a scientist turns into a green faced pseudo-vampire who starts attacking people in town. Eventually the government plans to wipe out the entire population to prevent contagion, but there is no indication that the condition is contagious in the first place. The protagonist is known only as Captain Kirk, but he has no phaser. It feels as though they left out the first fifteen minutes of the film because the monster is just there Ė no explanation of how it happened, what heís supposed to be suffering from, or how he escaped the lab. The killings are all off camera and pretty much boring. 8/25/20

Alien Trespass (2009) 

This is a spoof of 1950s SF movies. Although for the most part itís more of an homage than a parody. A flying saucer crashes on Earth and a dangerous creature escapes. The pilot occupies a human body and eventually tracks it down with the assistance of a local waitress while the police flounder. The scenes where the creature invades a movie theater showing the scene from The Blob when it invades a movie theater are clever. The creature is even sillier than most of the monsters from that era. Quite enjoyable if you arenít looking for Oscar quality work. 8/24/20

Mesa of Lost Women (1953) 

This is boring even for its time and cheap budget. A mad scientist has been creating giant spiders so that he can extract their essence and inject it into human women, hoping to somehow create a master race. Even for an insane scientist, this is a bit of a stretch. The special effects are anything but special, the cast of both men and women boring and almost obviously not interested in their work. One of very many bad movies from this era that rightfully deserves oblivion. The special effects are not very special and not very effective. 8/23/20

Space Amoeba (2006) 

Japanese giant monster movie. A group of developers have their sights on a remote island where the natives believe Ė rightly Ė that the island is also home to giant creatures, one of whom sweeps up a clandestine visitor in a bad puppet tentacle. Itís actually a giant, land going octopus and not an amoeba. The title probably just sounded good. Dubbing is inane, special effects are comical, but itís a Japanese monster movie, so that almost goes without saying. Then a giant crab shows up only to get blow apart. It appears that an alien life form is altering normal Earth creatures. There is some sort of screw up in the plot because the crab is back and the octopus has been forgotten. Now there is a giant bat, although it doesnít look much like a bat. 8/22/20

Fawlty Towers (1975)

My favorite tv comedy of all time even though it had only 12 episodes. I think my favorite is the one where Basil does not realize that one of the guests has died in his bed. The German tourists, the remodelers, the hotel inspector, the psychologist, and the reunion party are all classics. I thought the cast was perfect Ė and yes I know the major was a racist, but that was supposed to be the point. The writing and timing is superb. Iíve probably watched this half a dozen times, and may well watch it a half dozen more. 8/21/20

Descendant (2002) 

Jeremy London and Katherine Heigl star in this ponderous, occasionally silly, and only intermittently interesting movie about a descendant of Edgar Allan Poe who is compelled to relive a crime committed a century earlier. The acting is competent but the script is confusing and occasionally seems to jump around a bit. The ending is more or less predictable. There are hints of the supernatural but this is mostly just a conventional but ineffective thriller. There is a distinct lack of enthusiasm in the script and its performance. 8/20/20

The Atomic Brain (1963) 

Aka Monstrosity. The voiceover is so bad that it feels like it was aimed at kids. It conflates vampires with brain transplants and claims that this is an active branch of science. The science is so awful that it is gibberish. For a long time, there is no dialogue, just an inane voiceover. They couldnít even provide a convincing view of someone using a hammer. The monsters are actively funny to watch. The acting is actively awful to witness. I canít imagine anyone actually paying to see this without rioting. 8/19/20

Crawl (2019)

Not great but pretty good suspense story in which two people are trapped in a crawl space under a house in Florida during a major hurricane. The basement is flooding and they canít get to the stairs because one is seriously injured and the water is full of alligators. Mostly jump scares but theyíre well done. I'm not sure that alligators would actually be this consistently aggressive, but it doesn't matter. Special effects are quite good. The acting is fine. The human interest story between the two Ė estranged father and daughter Ė is okay but not really relevant to the real story. Better than most of the films Iíve seen recently. 8/18/20

King of the Zombies  (1941) 

Mantan Moreland, who featured in a number of Charlie Chan movies, is one of three men stranded on an uncharted island resident to a mad doctor who is trying to gather intelligence during the early stages of World War II through the use of zombies. This is a fair old dark house thriller with comic undertones, similar to many others and nothing out of the ordinary. Unfortunately the script is frequently stupid and occasionally racist. Another historical oddity. Moreland deserves to be better known. 8/17/20

Donít Look in the Basement (1973) 

Mostly predictable, cheaply made, horror movie which shows what can go wrong when a sanitarium decides to allow its patients to roam at will and act out their subconscious fears. Only one nurse appears to get upset when the death threats start to fly, and the arrangements are not changed even when one patient kills a doctor with an axe. No much better than a blank screen. When all the character are hopeless idiots or jerks, it is rather difficult to care much whether or not they make it to the end credits.  8/16/20

The Fear Chamber (2009) 

A police officer is determined to track down a serial killer who steals the organs of his victims. The cast consists of amateurs and sometimes the characters act like amateurs as well. Why does he not call for backup when trying to capture the killer in the abandoned building?  The heartfelt hospital conversation with the sad violins verged on being funny. The soundtrack is in fact awful and inappropriate throughout. Anyway, the detective begins to have visions of the murders Ė for no discernible reason. The actors all speak in a low voice and without any tone, as though they were reading the words. The detective meets a psychic who whispers a lot. The movie completely lost me when the scientists do not notice marks of a bone saw on the remains they have been examining until the detective points them out. 8/15/20 

Curse of the Wolf (2006) 

A female werewolf wants to lead a normal life. She finds a medical way to prevent her transformations and moves to the big city. The rest of the pack she belonged to are determined to get her back Ė we are never told why. The color is so bad it looks like black and white. The dialogue is so bad it sounds like Congress. The acting is so bad that it resembles Saturday Night Live, without the jokes. I only lasted twenty minutes before I hit the eject button. 8/14/20

Dead Men Walk  (1943)

This is a mildly interesting and somewhat unusual vampire movie. George Zucco has murdered his twin brother because of the latterís interest in satanism. That interest allows him to return from the dead as a vampire, but also as a ghost. The dead manís assistant, Dwight Frye, knows about the murder and is still loyal. The female lead gets bitten and a local woman seems to be the only person who knows what is really going on. Not unwatchable but not engrossing either. With a little effort, this could have been much better. 8/13/20

Crimson the Color of Blood (1973) 

Aka The Man with the Severed Head. The title really says it all. A mad scientist is treating a badly injured criminal and decides to do a head transplant. With a new body, the criminal conducts fresh crimes but he has somehow become more savage than ever. Subtitled, and not very well. The cast seems to be sleep walking through most of this, erupting occasionally into periods of gross overacting. 8/12/20

Maneater of Hydra (1967) 

Aka Island of the Doomed. Painfully awkward story of a mad scientist on an island who cultivates carnivorous plants and whose native neighbors have all left because of a vampire scare. Since some of his plants live on human blood, this is not particularly surprising. Terrible camera work exacerbated by the deterioration of the print, and not helped by the really stupid story line. This is another of those films whose existence does not mean that it is any good. 8/11/20

Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973)   

Stupid sexploitation film, as you might expect from the title alone.  Low production values and really not much of any real story. Completely forgettable, assuming that you could stand watching it in the first place. Some mysterious alien force turns sexy human women into a kind of queen bee analogue, and they lure men to their death by exhausting them sexually.  Not even prurient. 8/10/20

Revenge of Doctor X (1968) 

Aka Venus Flytrap. This one has a plot that seems to take forever to get started. A scientist travels to a remote island for unclear purposes, never explained. Once there he begins experimenting with carnivorous plants, creating one which eventually uproots itself and begins preying on the villagers. He can't bring himself to destroy it and that ultimately leads to his own undoing. Competent acting, but the screenplay is plodding, the effects silly, and the picture quality is badly deteriorated. 8/9/20

Venom (2011)  

Aka Snaked Fear, a terrible title. A rather silly movie about two people menaced by perhaps voodoo driven snakes. The actors are not remotely convincing. The characters are so reprehensible that I was hoping for their death rather than their survival. The movie is superficially okay and is ultimately just boring and nonsensical rather than actively stupid. The ironic element is that none of the snakes are actually venomous. Forgettable, but watchable. 8/8/20

The Head (1959)  

The convoluted plot in this one includes a mad scientist who keeps a severed human head alive while searching for a woman with a beautiful body so that he can transplant the head of another woman, whom he lusts after, from her own, which is failing. There are a couple of murders and lots of lurking in the darkness. The dialogue is appallingly bad at times and the acting is minimally competent. Not a lost classic. The soundtrack is odd and sometimes interesting. 8/7/20

Halloween: Resurrection (2002) 

This was the eighth film in the series, which gets around the beheading of Myers by explaining that it was someone else wearing the mask. Laurie Strode is institutionalized. Myers gets in and kills her, although this was also subsequently undone. This is the prelude to his slaughter of a cast of new characters who decide to visit the Strode house. The screenplay is sloppy. Odd events that are not justified by the story pop up just to surprise us. The premise that a suburban house would be allowed to deteriorate for decades and not have been looted for that matter is absurd. Itís pretty much cut and paste after that, without the paste. 8/6/20

Torture Ship (1939) 

Supposedly based on a Jack London story, this boring waste of celluloid is about a scientist who has a number of convicts aboard a ship and experiments on them in various boring ways. I donít know if this was badly edited later, but much of the time it is completely incomprehensible. Itís as though whole segments of the film were missing. I only made it to the end because I was too lazy to get up and change the dvd. 8/5/20

The Legend of Sorrow Creek (2007) 

A very mediocre and sometimes actively badly done ghost story that is even worse because the camera was apparently out of focus for most of the movie. I could do better than this. Static imagery, overly talky, badly filmed, and completely uninteresting. Not a hint of an original thought. How can people spend time making something that must have been obvious crap even to the people involved? 8/4/20

Nightmare Castle (1965) 

This is possibly the best of Barbara Steeleís movies, although the dialogue could have used some work Ė like maybe replacing all of it. A villainous man tortures his wife and her lover to death, but they eventually come back from the grave for revenge. These early cheap Italian horror movies were not particularly good, but sometimes they had pretty impressive ideas lost in the low budget. This actually has some creepy scenes. 8/3/20

I Eat Your Skin (1968) 

Aka Zombie. Another extremely boring low budget horror film, this time about non-Romero zombies. The characters are not remotely interesting and nothing much happens for a very long time. When the plot finally picks up, it isnít much livelier. This must have been incredibly dull to make, and was probably shot over the course of a week. 8/2/20

Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor (1993) 

This is a decent pre-CGI monster movie, with minimally competent acting and an okay monster and a standard plot. An experiment with alien DNA goes awry. The opening sequence has an annoying continuity problem. The corridor in front of a lab is covered with blood when the night watchman walks in to his death, but is clean as a whistle when the bosses arrive a few minutes later. The monster is slightly unusual, which is a plus. The acting is indifferent but not awful. The story is predictably predictable. Better than most recent direct to video monster movies I've seen lately, though that's not saying a whole lot. 8/1

The Ape Man (1943) 

Bela Lugosi stars in this one, which bears a strong resemblance to Karloffís The Ape, in that injections of human spinal fluid are sought by the villains. In this case it is because Lugosi has turned himself into a half-ape and wants a cure. Really bad makeup effects and bad acting hamper this right from the outset. Lugosi probably gained ten pounds eating the scenery and his supposed apelike stance is actively funny. A photographer suspects something strange is going on and is soon the next target. Very cheaply made and barely watchable. 7/31/20

The Mad Monster (1942)  

Mad scientist George Zucco turns his assistant into a werewolf to prove a theory that is never really explained and probably would not have made sense it if had been. Most of the scenery is eaten during the first twenty minutes. Zucco plans to create an army of werewolves to defeat the Germans in the war. Heís clearly unhinged and his detractors are clearly doomed. They appear to confer via holograms, which was rather surprising for the time. Zucco also plans to kill those who opposed his efforts despite not being German, which is of course the thrust of the movie.  7/30/20

Monty Pythonís Flying Circus Episodes 27-29 (1971) 

This includes the Argument Clinic, which is one of my favorites. The sentencing of the mass murderer is pretty good. The anthropological tour of England by two nerdish characters is actually quite good but I didnít remember it at all from watching this years ago. The rat tart bit is good. The Icelandic saga sketch is too long and not very funny.

Feeding Grounds (2006)  

A monster movie in which we never really see the monster. Inexpensive to make, excruciating to watch. Really execrable dialogue delivered by really incompetent actors. A group of people traveling across the desert run into aliens who can cause hallucinations and who like eating people. Insultingly bad film with no redeeming qualities at all. Not remotely watchable. Some of the most repellent sex scenes ever filmed. The people responsible seem completely unaware of how to make a movie. 7/29/20

House of the Living Dead (1974) 

Although there are hints of an actual story lie in this one, they donít translate into anything actually watchable. There is a family curse, which the current female family head hopes to end by preventing her son from bearing children, but he has a young woman who seems intent upon marrying him. He is a scientist and he is experimenting with the transfer of human souls from one body to another. Alas, the story is so ponderous that I would have lost interest even if it had been carried off with considerably more skill. 7/28/20

The Ape (1940) 

Boris Karloff is the village doctor who is suspected of unspecified nefarious activities by some of the local people. He is in fact experimenting on ways to restore a crippled young woman to full health. Thereís a circus in town but itís stock footage. You can tell in the closeups that they are not in the same tent as the performers. The cage holding a gorilla is so flimsy that it visibly shakes open and shut at times, and in fact the gorilla eventually tears it off and escapes. On of the circus workers is injured and Karloff kills him to extract a substance he believes will restore the womanís health. But he drops the container and loses it all. Fortunately the ape breaks into his house and he is able to drug it. There are continuity problems Ė the ape is at large again and for some reason the sheriff believes the ape frequents the doctorís house. It turns out Karloff is wearing the apeís skin to commit murders and claim more spinal fluid. Not one of Karloffís best but watchable. 7/27/20

Beneath Loch Ness (2001)   

All of the Scots on this have fake Irish accents, which should tell you everything you need to know about this turkey. The American style ambulance is a giveaway as well. Scene after scene builds up to an anti-climax, and after a while I no longer cared. Characters and situations sometimes arise with no explanation of why they varied from normal. The monster is just a shadow. The scientific content is absolute nonsense. There is no suspense, no mystery, and nothing to hold your attention. It is as though someone made a movie, then deleted all the interesting parts. Some scenes are so silly that you have to wonder if the actors were making fun of the audience. Clearly the writer was.  7/26/20

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) 

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) 

The silent version of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel  is obviously dated, but Barrymoreís ability to change personalities without benefit of special effects and excessive makeup is amazing. The story, of course, is about a mad doctor who creates a serum that occasionally suppresses his good instincts, and a physically altered version of himself descends into debauchery and eventually murder. I had not seen the second title movie before  and I was very impressed with its look, if a bit less so about the story. A visit to a kind of weird museum leads to hypnotism, prophecies, murder, abduction, and other mysteries follow. A bit hard to follow at times, but one of the classics from that era. If you are interested in film history, both of these are must see items. 7/25/20

The Trees Have Eyes (2020) 

This is an intermittently competent zombie flick. Five bounty hunters are tracking a killer hiding in the woods, but he is not the most dangerous thing there. Thereís some gratuitous nudity that looks awkward. The dialogue isnít always bad but the delivery mostly is. Suffers from one of the recurring flaws of direct to video horror Ė all of the characters are dickheads so who cares whether or not they survive? And if it took them all day to trek this deep into the woods, how does the camping party they encounter have beer, chairs, tents, and other equipment? It starts to get actively silly when the zombies show up. Some scenes donít make sense and in some cases the continuity is weird  And if they are that far away from civilization, where did all the zombies come from? A parade of clichťs follows. Entire scenes appear to be missing. Characters are living one minute and obviously dead a minute later.  7/23/20

Monty Pythonís Flying Circus Episodes 23-26 (1971) 

The long skit about making a Hollywood style movie is intermittently funny. The fish pet license is okay, as is the advertising company bit. Thereís a very nice murder mystery sketch involving train schedules. The Hungarian buying cigarettes is short but cute. ďMy nipples explode with delight.Ē The World War I bit is another classic. I never liked the spam skit. The undertaker sketch is, however, very well done and was quite daring at the time. Most of the rest is just silliness.

The Man in the Attic (1953) 

This is a very inferior remake of The Lodger and the Hitchcock version is much better. Jack the Ripper is terrorizing London. A very young Jack Palace makes this mildly watchable, but the earlier version is so much better that it just never seems interesting. The almost complete lack of suspense is a fatal flaw despite some entertaining performances by the supporting characters. 7/21/20

The Manster (1959) 

I clandestinely watched this on tv before I was a teenager because my parents forbid me to see horror movies. I loved it at the time. An American reporter reacts to a serum that essentially creates a Jekyll and Hyde dichotomy. Although hardly a classic this is a surprisingly effective film particularly when the victim literally splits into two bodies after running around for a while with two heads. This was a Japanese film even though the main actor is not. 7/19/20

An Angel for Satan (1966) 

Barbara Steele was the queen of low budget horror movies like this one. This has most of the usual tropes, remote village, rumors of a curse, strange events during the night. Itís in black and white with subtitles and not visually interesting at all. The creepy atmosphere occasionally feels silly rather than scary and the events are relatively low key. The kind of movie you canít remember the next morning. The fact that it is subtitled rather than dubbed probably did not help. 7/18/20

The Trygon Factor (1966) 

Based on an Edgar Wallace thriller. A fake order of nuns conceals an elaborate criminal organization. Stewart Granger is a Scotland Yard inspector investigating a series of robberies and murders. The tone is inconsistent but the story is engaging. There us a masked killer, an elaborate bank robbery, a nutty young man, and a variety of eccentric characters. Granger makes a couple of dumb mistakes but the plot is otherwise reasonably convincing.  7/17/20

South Park Season 23 (2019) 

The first three episodes are supposed to b a spoof of anti-vax groups and dependence on China as a market. The latter goes reasonably well although not particularly humorous. The former has so many mixed messages that the satire, if thatís what it is, fails horribly. The criticism of ICE works well though. The blurbs say this as their best season in years. I thought it was their worst season ever. The first five episodes are dull, unfunny, contradictory, obscure, and sometimes relentlessly boring. Some of the humor feels mean spirited. The sendup of ICE is better.  The seventh episode which simultaneously lampoons questions about sexual identity and male gamer sexism is the first actually good installment in the series. The cable tv repairmen skit is amusing.  7/15/20

Monty Pythonís Flying Circus Episodes 20-22 (1970) 

Attila the Hun as a sitcom is pretty good. So are the killer sheep in the wainscoting. The architecture show and the mosquito hunting expedition not so much, and the guests with the appalling names is just silly. The Bruces is funnier than it should be. The military precision routine is quite amusing but  probably would not be allowed on tv today, I suspect, given its political incorrectness. The murder mystery sketch should be a lot funnier than it is. A very uneven set of three episodes.  7/14/20

Rawhead Rex (1986)

I was in the mood for a straightforward horror movie and I hadn't watched this adaptation of a Clive Barker story in better than thirty years. A farmer topples an obelisk in a field and releases a gorilla like demon that begins to prey on people in rural England. Special effects aren't notable and some of the acting is over the top, but otherwise this is a pretty good, low budget horror film. There's a slight continuity error. A barn door is swinging back and forth in the wind, except that none of the nearby branches are moving at all. The monster is really fake looking. The plot is real obvious. Just what I was looking for. There are even a couple of clever bits of camera work. Surprisingly, one of the cute kids gets killed. 7/13/20

Monty Pythonís Flying Circus Episodes 17-19 (1970)  

Some amusing but relatively minor sketches here. The Bishop is a spoof of James Bond movies, sort of. The architect sketch is okay. The chemist skit, the one in which a man alternates polite comments with insults, and accident prone visitor are good.  My favorite among these is the Ministry of Silly Walks.The rest are mostly forgettable. The difference between British and American humor might be part of the problem here. 7/7/20

Monty Pythonís Flying Circus Episodes 13-16 (1970)

The gas oven delivery sketch isnít one of their best, but itís funny. The Ministry of Silly Walks is much better. The Spanish Inquisition sketch is included here, although I actually never found this as funny as their better work.  The usual animations and other sketches occasionally were amusing but none were memorable. I suspect some of these routines depend on your mood when you're watching them. 7/3/20

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