I feel like my week was ruled by T&A. It wasn’t really intentional, and I guess I can’t complain. Plus, it was bookended by some cool classics. I sure did get a lot watched this week.
Not of this Earth: “Don’t be a drag. You know how you flip me.” Who’s that man murdering those happening kids? Find out in this Corman alien invasion flick. It’s a gas. Crazy. Sadly Dick Miller’s supporting role is all too brief. But this movie is a great deal of wacky 50s fun. Aliens want our blood, and they’re willing to hire any two-bit hood to get it. The movie is actually pretty good for this sort of thing.
War of the Satellites: Roger Corman brings us another low budget space age adventure. The efforts of Humanity to explore space run afoul of aliens who don’t want us mussing up their neighborhood. But, when the lead scientist on the project (Sean Connery and Raymond Burr’s love child) starts acting funny, Dick Miller is on the case. One of the better alien possession movies, helped a lot by a good cast. The special effects are awkward, but interesting.
Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay: Oh, to have been a filmmaker in France in the early 1970s. This movie actually makes a whole heck of a lot more sense than your average Jean Rollin film, but manages to keep a similar vibe and is chock full o’nudity. While I wouldn’t say the film is lighthearted, it isn’t as dark or violent as a typical Italian film of the same type and era. The women are attractive, and from an era before the over abundance of tattoos and plastic surgery. I was expecting a horror film, but it’s really more of a fantasy. Worth checking out if you enjoy this sort of thing. The disk also has a short film that’s also worth seeing.
Electronic Lover: Something Weird’s list of cheap, odd movies of yesteryear features plenty of forgotten movies. Often forgotten for a reason. Other than a couple attractive women taking their clothes off, this film has nothing going for it. It’s pretty tedious.
The Spy Who Came: Another ‘classic’ from Something Weird, this movie is instantly forgettable. There’s some stuff about women being brainwashed. Lots of awkward…well, everything in the movie is awkward. Nothing to recommend.
The Woman in Black: Brad scored us tickets to an advance screening of this movie, which was pretty cool. OK, so anyone who knows my movie tastes knows that I’m not a fan of either ghost stories or possession stories, as a rule. I find them dull. They’re played out; almost as much as vampires…maybe more, actually. Well, this film doesn’t change my mind on that issue. That said, for ghost story, it’s quite well done. The movie looks great. The actors all put in fine performances. Sets and costumes all look great. There is mood and atmosphere like nobody’s business. But, at the end of the day, it’s the same ghost story you’ve seen a hundred times before. I enjoyed the film, mostly for everything but the story. And it really is the first of the new Hammer films that actually feels like a Hammer film. All it needs is a buxom young lass and an appearance from Christopher Lee, and you’d swear it was 1972. Even Daniel Radcliffe fits the mold perfectly. The image of him with the candle and axe walking down the dark corridor should grace every movie poster (painted, not photoshopped). Here’s hoping this is finally the hit the reborn Hammer needs to start making more and better (and more of their specific style) movies.
Joan of Arc: Ingrid Bergman looks sincere, stares intently, and makes vaguely Shakespearian sounding speeches. Sadly, she has virtually nothing to work with, as the script gives Joan absolutely no depth, making her the figurehead the film’s military leaders suspect her of being. The only really interesting person in the film is Jose Ferrer’s skeevy royal (for which he deservedly won a supporting Oscar). The movie takes on the typical smugness so common in religious themed films of the era. And it quickly becomes tiresome. I love Bergman, but not here. This film is grueling, and feels about as historically accurate as your average non-WWII ‘documentary’ on the History Channel (read: not).
Wings: Some really amazing flying footage, surprisingly brutal violence, and a solid story keep this film from ever bogging down. A true epic, and one of the best WWI movies I’ve seen, focusing on the air, but not ignoring the ground. A must see for fans of classic film. Unlike Hell’s Angels, the downtime between dogfights doesn’t drag. And I really enjoyed the various actors, although I found Clara Bow a bit much (cute as a button in that military get-up, though). Still, that was sort of her shtick. This first film to win a Best Picture Oscar is a heck of a thing. Check it out.
Grapes of Death: Jean Rollin strikes again. This time, pesticide seems to be making anyone drinking the French recommended daily intake of wine mutate and turn homicidal. Actually, though it features much of the requisite Rollin scenes of pretty young women wandering aimlessly, this one has a more consistent plot than most of his work. It still features his usual dreamy quality, and of course, Brigitte Lahaie shows up and takes off all her clothes. As usual, the ending breaks down into silliness and nonsense. Still, enjoyable if you’re in the mood for Rollin’s specific brand of weirdass French pseudo-horror. Less skin than usual for his work (even Lahaie is only nude for a moment).
Picasso Trigger: I guess busty women just like to shower more. That’s what this movie taught me. Oh, and that it’s a good idea to keep reminding the viewer what day it is. The third in the epic series that began with Malibu Express, this spy caper gives James Bond a run for his money. Thrilling action, clever dialog, and…Oh, wait. It’s just a stupid T&A movie with lots of terrible acting and goofiness. If you enjoyed the first two movies (Malibu Express and Hard Ticket to Hawaii), you should enjoy this slice of stupid pie.
Savage Beach: I love how these movies keep recycling the same actors in different roles. Most of the people from Picasso Trigger are back. And boy, these ladies love to take showers and/or hit the Jacuzzi. This fourth film in the amazing, powerful, thoughtful, and heartbreaking franchise continues to break new ground. As sensitive, thought provoking, and challenging as any film of its type, how it managed to be ignored by the Oscars is beyond me. Politics, man. Politics. If nothing else, the sweeping score provided by that keyboard I had in junior high should have been nominated.
Cat People: A beautiful film, it looks almost like a Noir. The actors are all top notch, and the script is clever, subtle, and sexy. There is a complexity in the characters that is surprising for B pictures of that time. The lighting on the film is amazing. And what’s interesting is how much isn’t shown. How much is implied. Is any of it real at all? Absolutely a must see for fans of horror films.
The Curse of the Cat People: The extremely odd sequel to the hit film Cat People, this is more fantasy than horror. Not at all the sort of movie you’d expect to follow up the first. But, it’s quite good. A meditation on a lonely childhood and dysfunctional family life. It’s more about lost people than anything supernatural.
Ben and I watched another episode of From the Earth to the Moon. Really a darned fine show. As much as I love Band of Brothers, I kind of wish this was the show the History Channel would play marathons of every other weekend.
I got some reading done, too. First up was a novella (?) from Poul Anderson’s Technic Civilization series called The Saturn Game. It was interesting. Kind of took the idea of roleplaying games and ran with it, making it a sanity maintaining tool for long term space exploration, though with a cautionary element. I also read a cool Star Trek graphic novel and the first two trade volumes of Boom! Studios’ new Hellraiser comic (volume 1 & volume 2).
In addition to all that, I posted a fairly extensive Prodigal Son, which started out as simply an essay about science fiction books, and turned into something about gaming, too. Got me to thinking about a bunch of ideas I’ve had and wanted to use for a while.