Wednesday 31 July 2019

Movies - August

Burnt offerings (1976)
A very underrated haunted house movie. I reckon it's top five in the sub-genre. An extended family of four which includes Ben (Oliver Reed) & Marian (Karen Black) who are husband & wife move into a mansion for a summer with their 12 year old son and their elderly Aunt Elizabeth (Bette Davis). The only catch is they have to share the massive dwelling with the reclusive old lady who owns the place. She'll be holed up in her room and wont be around so long as they leave her 3 meals a day outside her door. I hear you saying 'Who the fuck would do that?' This is a 70s slow burner but immensely enjoyable with a great climax.

When A Stranger Calls Back (1993)
A classic telly movie from the 90s that's a precursor to Scream et alsans the fun. This 1993 "Have you checked the children" sequel is a really fascinating Showtime telly movie that deserves your attention. Julia (Jill Sholean) is menaced by a stalker whilst on a baby sitting job and just manages to survive. Five years later Julia is in college where she believes the same stalker is on her trail. Carol Kane and Charles Durning return as Jill and John their characters from the original When A Stranger Calls (1979)When A Stranger Calls Back is pretty harrowing and disturbing stuff. You can't help but think if it had been released theatrically that it would have been a pop culture phenomena. 

Coogan's Bluff (1968)
A small town sheriff from Arizona Coogan (Clint Eastwood) hits the big apple to extradite a prisoner and finds himself in all kinds of strife. First of all the prisoner is in a psych hospital after tripping badly on LSD, then Coogan is knocked out, has his gun stolen, there's prostitutes, spaghetti, a great scene in a funky psychedelic discotheque, a good motorbike chase scene etc. Probably not Donny Siegel's best movie but it's a pretty entraining lil action thriller. I think the problem lies with Coogan. I don't mind morally ambiguous protagonists, its just that I have to like them a little bit. I mean, quite often I like the villains especially if they're particularly vile degenerates. Coogan is some kind of cad who thinks he's a lady's man but his overconfidence is just off putting. Maybe I just don't dig Clint Eastwood. I mean apart from his good looks, what else does he have to offer? I don't find him charismatic or charming and his acting is a bit one note innit? I can't like every actor. Actually I'm surprised I don't hate more of them. I like ye olde popular legends like Humphrey Bogart, Carey Grant, Robert Mitchum, Jimmy Stewart, Burt Lancaster, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Walter Matthau, Dustin Hoffman, Elliot Gould, Gene Hackman et al. but I just don't dig Eastwood that much. Kinda like I don't dig more recent actors like George Clooney and Vince Vaughn. Give me Burt Reynolds any day.

Tower Of Evil aka Horror On Snape Island aka Beyond The Fog (1972) 
Wow, I stumbled across this on youtube. Why has nobody ever alerted me to this absurd movie? More 70s British horror, perhaps not of the the usual gold standard though. This one is a bit more on the campy side of the genre. A bunch of scientists visit the remote and supposedly uninhabited Snape Island to investigate a series of recent deaths. Once they reach the Island things start to get eerie and go awry. The tone here is weird going from sharp dialogue laced with much sexual innuendo to spooky scares and very unconvincing kills. For 70s British horror completists and proto-slasher enthusiasts. Quite the curio.

The Mad Bomber aka The Police Connection (1973)
Quentin Tarantino alerted me to this classic demented 70s exploitation flick on a recent episode of the Pure Cinema Podcast. The Mad Bomber is really enjoyable with a great soundtrack and a mental plot. This is sleazy to the max. The police have to track down a rapist in order to find a mass murdering bomber. We know who the bomber is right from the beginning and he's got that funny/grumpy thing going on which is very entertaining and makes him likeable. Look out for sensational photo-fit sequence where they nail the bomber's id right down to his spitting image. I recommend.

The Meg (2018)
I was excited to sit down and watch a good ole (new) shark movie. We got 20 minutes in and fuck me this was the worst lowest common denominator hollywood shite with some of the worst dialogue and acting witnessed since Twister (1996). Maybe kids will dig it.

Phantom Thread (2017)
I finally got around to watching the final acting performance of Daniel Day Lewis. I was glued to the screen for two hours. Lewis plays a very strange man Reynolds Woodcock who makes dresses for the well to do. He finds a muse in Alma (Vicky Krieps). A peculiar relationship triangle develops from there between Reynolds, his meddling sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) and Alma. I would say they are all pretty mental and the situation just gets more and more abnormal. I'm not sure why it was so compelling and I'm not sure about the ending. I do know it was a beautifully put together movie with a fabulous script and visually stunning cinematography. Watching Daniel Day Lewis for 2 hours is a joy no matter what he does. Phantom Thread would would be nowhere without the brilliance of Lesley Manville though, who I believe is the dramatic heart of this film. The the ending though...

CC & Company (1970)
Not a bad lil biker movie. This film is worth watching for the opening scene alone where CC Ryder (Joe Namath) makes a sandwich inside the supermarket, eats it, helps himself to a drink, then puts all his groceries from his trolley back on the shelves and leaves the shop spending just 10 cents on some gum. This reminded me of being young and just eating whatever in the supermarket whilst doing the shopping. Anne McCalley (Anne Margaret) gets hassled by two rapey bikers but their fellow gang member CC comes to her aid. Mucho soundtrack goodness, motor cross races, kidnapping, punch ups, fashion shoots, crazy dancing, Wayne Cochrane getting funky's got the lot. The climactic scene is pretty fucking insane and well worth the wait.

The Walking Hills (1949)
A good border town Western directed by John Sturges. A complicated motley crew of criminals, cowboys, coppers, ex-lovers, drifters and even a bar tender head into the sand dunes of Death Valley in search of Five million dollars worth of mythological gold. The best part of this film is the inclusion of the incredible Josh White who contributes a number of songs in his wonderful distinctive style of country blues. I've seen a few Westerns from the 40s and 50s and he is a rare example of an African American starring in the genre. If only more westerns had blues singers and soundtracks, the film landscape could have had a whole other reality.

Gunman's Walk (1958)
Classic Western directed by Phil Karlson starring Tab Hunter, Kathryn Crosby and Van Heflin. Fifteen minutes in I was thinking 'I'm not really into westerns about rustling cattle and horses' but lucky for me Gunman's Walk soon took a dark path. There are some sensational and dangerous stunts done here on horses that are as good as any 70s car chase. Holy shit this is another fine discovery and contender for best Western. They sure knew how to make make a good movie back in the day. You know what else? They knew how to end a film too. 90 mins of Americana pop culture perfection.

Blood On The Moon (1948)
Noir Western of the highest order. A Feud causes much double crossing, bad romance, shoot outs, a violent cattle stampede and a siege. Young Bob Mitchum stars.

High Noon (1952)
Sheriff Will Kane (Gary Cooper) & Amy Fowler (Princess Grace) get married and are set to leave town and start afresh in another town but Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) a con Kane sent to prison is set to arrive in town on the midday train to exact vengeance. What will Kane do? Is this a little overrated? I mean it's good, I like it and the cinematography is cool but number 1 or 2 in best Westerns of all time...I don't think so.

Sweet Kill aka A Kiss From Eddie aka The Arousers (1972)
Totally unusual exploitation movie that I can't believe isn't a massive cult it is, I don't have the stats on what is or what isn't a cult film.  Eddie Collins (Tab Hunter) is in a downward spiral as he can't perform with the attractive women he cavorts with. When he accidentally kills a woman his spiral gets even darker. Brilliant minimal soundtrack from Charles Bernstein. Written and directed by the enigmatic Curtis Hanson, the man responsible for writing my favourite 1978 movie The Silent Partner and directing the 90s thriller The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. I recommend

John Wick (2014)
I really wanted to like it. Killing a dog that I fell in love with then making a movie that looks like a video game about the revenge is not that good as far as I can see. I'd rather have just watched two hours of that puppy sans death or Keanu.

Model Shop (1969)
Strange film. I know I've talked about this before but ever since I discovered it over a year ago thanks to Twilight Time, I just keep wanting to watch it. Model Shop is directed by legendary French director Jaques Demy. This is s french existential drama set in the 60s streets of LA. The thing is the film title is pretty misleading, this is not a film about a model shop. The model shop is just one incidental part of the film. Model Shop is about the highly educated but directionless and broke twenty something George Mathews (Gary Lockwood) who faces being drafted into the US army to go and fight in Vietnam. The film then unravels from there. Totally worth watching for the late 60s LA time capsule. Includes soundtrack and cameo from cult LA rock band Spirit. Check out the threads, the interior design, the hair, the streets, the cars and the melancholy philosophical vibe man.

Possible Worlds (2000)
This movie was mentioned somewhere the other day online so I dug out the dvd and well what a weird flick it is. It's in in my sweet spot of somewhere between Cronenberg & Lynch but maybe just falling short of the brilliance of those two legends, then again maybe not. Well if you hate the Davids you will most definitely hate this, but if you keep an open mind you might just enjoy it and see a unique cinematic voice emerging. Director Robert Lepage is an interesting artistic specimen of the Renaissance kind. He's better known for avant-garde theatre, multi-media, Shakespeare and opera productions than his forays into the world of directing movies. Tilda Swinton stars with Tom McCamus in this mysterious movie about parallel zones, serial killings and brains living in jars. Do not expect a linear narrative, you might not fully get it but it's fucking fascinating. The sort of movie to become obsessed with...well I watched it three times this week. Was it different each time?

The Wrecking Crew (1969)
A kitsch action crime comedy in the faux James Bond style. While it's not half as clever or funny as an episode of Get Smart, it works quite well as an action flick. The action really ramps up to exciting levels towards the end. It is directed by the unsung but legendary Phil Karlson who was no slouch with noir and western gems such as Scandal Sheet (1952) Kansas City Confidential (1952), 99 River Street (1953) Tight Spot (1955), 5 Against The House (1955), The Phenix City Story (1955), The Brothers Rico (1957) and Gunman's Walk (1958) amongst many others already under his belt. The Wrecking Crew is hardly in the league of those aforementioned movies though. This 1969 flick stars Dean Martin as spy Matt Helm for the fourth and final time along with iconic ladies Sharon Tate, Nancy Quan, Elke Sommer and Tina Louise. There's a great soundtrack from Hugo Montenegro featuring heaps of easy soundz, fuzz and crime jazz. Not to mention the fantastic but racially insensitive opening tune by Mack David Devol which has to be heard to be believed, it's so darn catchy though, just don't get caught singing it around your Asian friends.

Hollywood Man (1976)
A biker movie about making biker movies. Although Hollywood Man is very rough around the edges it doesn't miss a beat. This is demented exploitation cinema but it's compelling from start to to finish. Film maker Rafe Staker (William Smith) is told biker films are old hat by his usual producer so Rafe ends up going to the mafia for financing instead. Suffice to say this isn't the greatest move as all hell soon breaks loose with bad weather, bad cops, bad bikers, bad mafia and ultimately bad collateral damage. Directed by Jack Starrett who also helmed the classics Cleopatra Jones (1973), The Dion Brothers aka The Gravy Train (1974) and Race With The Devil (1975) amongst others. Well worth a look.


  1. The Silent Partner is a great movie and Gould is excellent. I remember watching it on VHS many years ago. Think I'll go and check out Sweet Kill and Hollywood Man. I personally know some fans of The Mad Bomber, but I was never too enamoured with it myself. Been watching Walter Hill films lately and enjoyed Hard Times and Streets of Fire... Extreme Prejudice not so much.

  2. Hey Retina

    I pretty much dig everything Gould did in the 70s except MASH, which is strange as I'm an Altman tragic and pretty much love 90% of what he did.

    Walter Hill is a bit of a legend, I mean he wrote Hickey & Boggs, The Getaway & Aliens. Directed Hard Times & The Driver which are classics. I remember liking Warriors, Southern Comfort and Brewster's Millions when i was a kid. I should watch them again but I watched 48 Hours last year and boy oh boy that's dated badly. I might watch Streets of Fire this week, I don't remember it at all.

    Re-read this post though. I accidentally published it unfinished and didn't realise until 2 day later. It's good and proper now.

  3. I'll give 48 Hours a miss then. I was going to watch that one hahah. I started watching Red Heat but fell asleep 20 or 30 minutes in. It wasn't captivating me I guess. No subtitles for the scenes spoken in Russian didn't help. The characters in Hill's movies seem to get more cartoonish as the 80s rolled in. Streets Of Fire is no exception, but the production on that movie is superb, I think you'll enjoy it.

  4. You should watch 48 Hours. You might still like it. I'd be interested to hear what you think.