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Showing posts from July 22, 2012

Review: Storm Over the Nile

Anthony Steel is the soldier who resigns just as he and the men are about to go to war in the Sudan, thus earning him the dreaded four feathers indicative of cowardice. His best girl (Mary Ure) and her blustery General father (James Robertson Justice) are among those who turn their backs on him, whilst family friend Geoffrey Keen sympathises with the young man. He spends the rest of the film going the long way about redeeming himself, whilst snooty comrade Laurence Harvey (Steel’s chief accuser), who shares a fondness for Ure, goes blind during the war thanks to overexposure from the sun. Ferdy Mayne is excellent as a doctor, and Christopher Lee plays an imprisoned native.

1955 B-movie version of “The Four Feathers” (though unofficial) by director Zoltan Korda, who had previously filmed the same story (as “The Four Feathers”) back in 1939. Battle footage from that film is inserted here, but it’s not the cheap money-grab it sounds like. In fact, for a B-movie, it’s really quite good. T…

Review: Return to Oz

Dorothy (Fairuza Balk) is still obsessed with Oz, and is having trouble sleeping Aunt Em (Piper Laurie) and Uncle Henry (Matt Clark) take her to the mental asylum run by Dr. Worley (Nicol Williamson) to be treated. Dorothy doesn’t like this cold place, nor Dr. Worley’s scary psychiatric electroshock therapy machinery, and decides to do a runner. She accidentally falls into a river, and the next thing she knows, she’s back in Oz! Unfortunately, the once magical land of Oz has changed since Dorothy was last there. The Yellow Brick Road is no more. Her old friends apparently rounded up and imprisoned or turned to stone. Oz is now a run-down, ruinous place ruled by the Nome King (Williamson again). Dorothy finds herself menaced by the evil witch Mombi (Jean Marsh), and her freakish minions, The Wheelers. On Dorothy’s side are her talking chicken companion Billina, mechanical soldier Tik Tok, Jack Pumpkinhead (who is Mombi’s amiable stepson of-sorts), and The Gump, an animated moose head a…

Review: Jeopardy

While on vacation with his parents in Mexico, young Lee Aaker (star of “Rin Tin Tin” apparently) fools around on a wonky pier, and when dad Barry Sullivan attempts to rescue the kid from a serious injury (I would’ve let the foolish little shit to fend for himself, it was his own dopey fault...but I digress), he himself becomes trapped under the wreckage, and at further risk of drowning. Racing against the clock (four hours or so until the tide comes in), Barbara Stanwyck (quite good in what must be said is a slightly uncharacteristic meek part) must go for help. What she finds is sleazy escaped crook Ralph Meeker, who wants Stanwyck to drive him out of trouble with the law, and then maybe, if he takes a mind to it, he might possibly help her. He might also help himself to the vulnerable (but ultimately resilient) woman. And she, in turn, might just do anything it takes to get her husband and son out of trouble.


Unlike most people (particularly Leonard Maltin), I reckon this uneven 195…

Review: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

The children of Mars feel miserable and neglected at Christmastime (Having been raised on Earth TV programming), and so the elders of Mars, led by Kimar (Leonard Hicks) and his distasteful cohort Voldar (Vincent Beck) decide to kidnap Santa Claus (John Call) and bring him to Mars. No, I’m not kidding. They even kidnap a couple of Earth kids too, in case they rat them out...or something. Bill McCutcheon plays the aptly named Martian Dropo, who is a bit light in the head and always screwing things up by accident.


Christmas is full of TV specials and films dedicated to the holiday, and I have a select few things I try to watch every year. Lots of people I know watch “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, and whilst I enjoy that one, I prefer the trio of “The Muppet Christmas Carol”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (though any other Rankin/Bass stop-motion special will suffice), and this 1964 oddity from director Nicholas Webster (who directed episodes of “Mannix”, “Get Smart”, and “Th…

Review: Battleground

Six stranded bank robbers (Bob Cymbalski, Mark Munro, Bryan Larkin, and Robert Nolan among them) are hiding out in the middle of nowhere after a successful job, biding their time until they board a plane out of the country. Unfortunately, they’ve stepped into the domain of a crazy Vietnam veteran (Hugh Lambe) who doesn’t take kindly to trespassers, and uses his military training to bump the well-armed bandits off one by one.


I don’t like ripping on low-budget films unless they truly deserve it, but right from the word go, this 2012 offering from director Neil Mackay (whose only previous film was a short film in 2004) and his co-writer Sean McAulay (a debutant) rubbed me the wrong way. It’s about a disgruntled Vietnam veteran picking off a bunch of bad-arse bank robbers who trespass on his land. Or something. But think about that. A film presumably set in the modern era, with a bunch of seemingly tough guys who are handy with firearms, being picked off by a guy who fought in a war in t…