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Showing posts from December 21, 2014

Review: Plan 9 From Outer Space

Apparently our weapons-building and warmongering is pissing off inhabitants of other planets, worried that one day we might turn our war machines against them. In order to stop this from happening, these aliens (headed by The Ruler, played by the flamboyant ‘Bunny’ Breckinridge) enact Plan 9, resurrecting our dead to conquer the Earth. Gregory Walcott is our hero, pilot Jeff Trent, who teams up with army Colonel Tom Edwards (Tom Keene) and a police inspector (Duke Moore) to thwart the pompous aliens’ plans. Tor Johnson and Vampira turn up as the resurrected Inspector Clay and ‘Ghoul Woman’ respectively. Meanwhile, Bela Lugosi (who died during filming) stumbles about in his cape as another zombified corpse, credited as ‘Ghoul Man’. He was replaced in some scenes by Dr. Tom Mason, the chiropractor of Wood’s wife at the time!

Being that this 1959 Edward D. Wood Jr (“Glen or Glenda?”, “Bride of the Monster”) accidental classic is a one-of-a-kind film experience, rather than give you a trad…

Review: Empire State

Set in the 80s and based on true events, Liam Hemsworth stars as a Greek-American from a working class family, who wants to be a cop. A poor decision at a Black Sabbath concert with his reckless pal Michael Angarano years ago dashes those hopes. But Hemsworth feels bad that his hard-working father (Paul Ben-Victor) is stuck pretty much being a janitor disrespected by the local thugs, and he wants to help his parents out financially. For the time being he gets a job driving armoured cars and monitoring the depository. Things go awry on just his second day when veteran partner and family man Michael Rispoli is gunned down by robbers. After this, Hemsworth starts to become disillusioned. Rispoli’s family isn’t being taken care of by the company, the security cameras are dangerously easy to get around, and often he’s the only one there guarding all this money at the depository. The place is almost begging to be cleaned out. So Hemsworth starts to entertain the idea of robbing the joint. H…

Review: The Stone Killer

Charles Bronson plays a violence-prone but honest cop tackling the case of one arm of the Mob (represented by Martin Balsam) attempting to wipe out the other arm of the mob for a massacre committed against them in the 1930s! To do this, Balsam has hired mercenaries to carry out the hit, including war vet Stuart Margolin, and bisexual, jazz-loving weirdo Paul Koslo. Norman Fell plays a police chief, Ralph Waite plays Bronson’s shit weasel racist partner, Charles Tyner turns up as a doctor, Walter Burke plays a marijuana dealer, and John Ritter has a small role as a cop.

A great cast of character actors goes to waste in this boring 1973 attempt by hack director Michael Winner (“Death Wish”, “Chato’s Land”, “Lawman”, “The Mechanic”) and hack star Charles Bronson to give us another “Dirty Harry”. Hell, even composer Roy Budd (“Zeppelin”, “Get Carter”, “The Carey Treatment”) tries out his best Lalo Shifrin (“Coogan’s Bluff”, “Bullitt”, and “Dirty Harry”) impersonation here, with one of the…

Review: Chariots of Fire

A film concerning the performance of the British track team at the 1924 Olympic Games. The two primary characters are religious Scotsman Eric Liddell, and Jewish Cambridge student Harold Abrahams, who has to overcome prejudice from colleagues and educators (hello Sir John Gielgud and Lindsay Anderson). Sir Ian Holm plays Abrahams’ athletic coach Sam Mussabini, Cheryl Campbell and Alice Krige (who looks anaemic) are the two athletes’ respective spouses, Brad Davis and Dennis Christopher play a couple of American runners, Nigel Davenport turns up as a Lord, and Patrick Magee is a seriously cranky Lord.

There’s potential for great drama and interest in the story of Olympic runners, but this 1981 Best Picture Oscar winner from director Hugh Hudson (the subsequent “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan”) and Oscar-winning screenwriter Colin Welland (who also scripted “A Dry White Season”) chooses the wrong real-life story, in my view. I just couldn’t get into the story of a bunch of snooty, toff…

Review: Blue Steel

Jamie Lee Curtis is a rookie cop who gets involved in a bit of a mess when forced to shoot a convenience store robber (Tom Sizemore), and then has to explain to her superiors (Kevin Dunn and Clancy Brown) where the robber’s supposed gun has vanished to. The audience knows that Wall Street trader Ron Silver (who was in the store at the time) picked up the gun and pocketed it himself. Curtis is suspended over the incident. Silver is, it turns out, a nutjob on a power trip who becomes obsessed with Curtis and starts murdering random people with Curtis’ name on the bullets. He also manufactures a ‘meet cute’ with Curtis, and charms his way into dating her. Eventually he reveals his true self to her, but Curtis can’t seem to make charges stick to him, so he is free to terrorise her. Phillip Bosco plays Curtis’ abusive bastard father, Louise Fletcher is strangely cast as her doormat mother, the late Elizabeth Pena is Curtis’ best friend, Richard Jenkins is Silver’s clueless lawyer, and Matt…

Review: After Earth

Set in the future, where humanity has left planet Earth due to a huge environmental disaster and relocated to another planet called Nova Prime. Will Smith stars as a decorated and fearless ‘Ranger’, who agrees to take his aspiring Ranger teenage son Jaden Smith on his next mission. Their spacecraft runs into trouble and crash lands on the nearest planet. The planet turns out to be Earth (but it looks rather alien and the atmosphere is toxic), and the only survivors of the crash are Jaden and his injured father. With his dad incapacitated and likely dying, Jaden must make the long and dangerous trek to locate and activate the emergency beacon. It looks like the son might just get his chance to prove his worth to his soldier father. Does he have what it takes to complete this mission, especially on an Earth that seems to have evolved/devolved into an evil, dangerous (yet aesthetically pleasing) planet? Sophie Okonedo plays the wife and mother of our respective protagonists.

Every new fi…