Showing posts from 2006

Rixflix A to Z: Alligator (1980)

Director: Lewis Teague // 1:29; Color
Crew Notables: John Sayles (screenplay and co-story)
Cast Notables: Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Dean Jagger, Sydney Lassick, Jack Carter, Michael V. Gazzo, Perry Lang, Henry Silva, Royce D. Applegate, Mike Mazurki
Cinema 4 Rating: 6

There are people out there for whom all "nature run amok" films are one and the same: all silly, all stupid, all immense wastes of time. This same logic will often be applied to practically any sub-genre of science-fiction, horror, fantasy or disaster films in equal measure, with the severity of cynicism wavering depending on personal preference, or more often, distaste. I am not making this statement to put myself above these type of people. Quite the opposite, for I actually am not all that interested in the "nature run amok" sub-genre.

Swarms of bees and waves of killer rats or spiders have never frightened me and cause little more than a big yawn from me when perpetrated onscreen. If the monster or…

Rixflix A to Z: Alien: Resurrection (1997)

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet // Studio; 1:49/1:56 (special edition cut); Color
Crew Notables: Joss Whedon (screenplay and story), Darius Khondji (Dir. of Photography), Hervé Schneid (editor), Pitof (visual effects supervisor), Bob Ringwood (costume design)
Cast Notables: Sigourney Weaver (Ellen Ripley), Winona Ryder (Annalee Call), Dominique Pinon (Vriess), Ron Perlman (Johner), Michael Wincott (Frank Elgyn), Gary Dourdan (Christie), Kim Flowers (Sabra Hillard), Dan Hedaya (Gen. Martin Perez), J.E. Freeman (Dr. Mason Wren), Brad Dourif (Dr. Jonathan Gediman), Leland Orser (Larry Purvis), Raymond Cruz (Vincent Distephano), Tom Woodruff Jr. (Lead Alien), Archie Hahn (newborn vocal #2)
Cinema 4 Rating: 5

I don't care what Joss Whedon thinks. Well, I do care, and I agree with his stated opinion that this film was rendered "wrong" in just about every aspect, but it doesn't matter. Whether it is the frustration pronounced by a screenwriter who was simply tired of having hi…

Rixflix A to Z: Alien³ (1992)

Director: David Fincher // 20th Century Fox; 1:54/2:25 (Special "Assembly Cut" Edition); Color
Crew Notables: Vincent Ward (story), Walter Hill (producer/co-screenplay), Richard Edlund, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr. & George Gibbs (AAN - Visual Effects)
Cast Notables: Sigourney Weaver (Ellen Ripley), Charles S. Dutton (Dillon), Charles Dance (Clemens), Paul McGann (Golic), Brian Glover (Andrews), Ralph Brown (Aaron), Lance Henriksen (Bishop II), Pete Postlethwaite (David)
Cinema 4 Rating: 5

Much like "The Company" striving for centuries to capture, contain and exploit the titular extraterrestrial creature of this series, 20th Century Fox has also kept alive an ill-advised cycle of ineptitude in bringing further episodes of Ripley and her creepy pals to the screen for the past 20 years. Directorial changes and abandonments, illness befalling major behind-the-camera talent, reluctant cast members both in the film on purpose and not, wildly escalating budget problems…

Rixflix A to Z: Aliens (1986)

Director: James Cameron (also screenplay/co-story) // 20th Century Fox; 2:17/2:34 (dir.cut); Color
Crew Notables: Walter Hill (co-story), Stan Winston (alien effects creator/2nd unit director), James Horner (AAN, music score), Adrian Biddle (Dir. of Photog.), Ray Lovejoy (AAN - Editor)
Cast Notables: Sigourney Weaver (AAN - Ellen Ripley), Carrie Henn (Rebecca "Newt" Jorden), Michael Biehn (Cpl. Dwayne Hicks), Lance Henriksen (Bishop), Paul Reiser (Carter Burke), Bill Paxton (Pvt. Hudson), William Hope (Lt. Gorman), JenetteGoldstein (Pvt. Vasquez), Al Matthews (Sgt. Apone), Mark Rolston (Pvt. Drake)
Cinema 4 Rating: 8

Sometimes when you love one film so very, very much, it makes you extremely reticent when the filmmakers wish to expand the original film into a series, or at the very least, into a sequel. When I wrote about Buckaroo Banzai a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was glad they never went through with the promised sequel, allowing the original flick to stand on i…

Rixflix A to Z: Alien (1979)

Director: Ridley Scott // 20th Century Fox; 2:; Color
Crew Notables: Dan O'Bannon (screenplay/co-story/visual design consultant), Ronald Shusett (co-story), Jerry Goldsmith (score), Derek Vanlint (cinema.), H.R. Giger, Carlo Rambaldi, Brian Johnson, Nick Allder and Denys Ayling (AAW - Visual Effects), Jean "Moebius" Girard (concept artist)
Cast Notables: Tom Skerritt (Dallas), Sigourney Weaver (Ripley), Veronica Cartwright (Lambert), Harry Dean Stanton (Brett), John Hurt (Kane), Ian Holm (Ash), Yaphet Kotto (Parker), Helen Horton (voice of Mother), Bolaji Badejo & Eddie Powell (The Alien).
Cinema 4 Rating: 9

Forget the hotspots and the discotheques. Forget the drugs and booze. In 1981, if I wanted to feel paranoid and nervous, disoriented and fearful, and all within the numbing, time-halting glow of a rapidly pulsating strobe effect, I simply turned off every light in the living room and watched Alien on HBO. And not just once or twice, but about two dozen times over a …

Post-Xmas Toy Hangover Blues...

So, you've built a 1,045 piece Batmobile out of Legos. Now, what are you going to do for Christmas?

Luckily for me, I've got an awesome girlfriend like Jen, so if I chose to, I could've watched my new three-disc Criterion Collection version of Kurosawa's Shichinin no samurai (The Seven Samurai to those of us who speak a more barbaric tongue). I already had the original Criterion release of this film from several years before, and had watched it numerous times, so I wrestled originally with even placing this title on my Christmas list. After all, lately I have been an advocate of not repurchasing titles that I already own, no matter what extra bonus features were crammed on the new version. In fact, I have gotten away from watching bonus features at all -- most commentaries are boring affairs for films not really worth commenting on in the first place -- and I have taken to weighing a film's price against the film only to judge whether I wish to own it. The bonus fea…

Disapproval Would Be Folly...

Several times over the last couple weeks, people have asked me this question: What is your favorite Christmas movie? Of course, they sometimes ask this when I am decked out in my sweet Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas Jack Skellington silk shirt with the Jack-faced buttons running down the front. Or often they will ask this when I am standing in front of them in my Jack scarf, striped and with Jack's smiling, beguiling face on either end. I am often surprised, though, how many people don't identify Nightmare as a Christmas flick, when it most certainly is one. I am equally surprised at the number of people who have yet to see it.

But Nightmare, while it would seem it is a given, is not my choice. Even though it is one of my very favorite movies, on my list of Christmas movies (this does not include TV specials, mind you) there can really only be one choice: the original 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street (in black and white, thank you very much!) While I am n…

Rixflix A to Z: Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Director: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson & Hamilton Luske // Walt Disney; 1:15; Color
Crew Notables: Lewis Carroll (novels), Bill Peet (co-screenplay)
Cast Notables: Kathryn Beaumont (Alice), Ed Wynn (Mad Hatter), Richard Haydn (Caterpillar), Sterling Holloway (Cheshire Cat), Jerry Colonna (March Hare), Verna Felton (Queen of Hearts), J. Pat O'Malley (Tweedledum, Tweedledee, The Walrus and the Carpenter), Bill Thompson (White Rabbit, The Dodo), Heather Angel (Alice's sister), The Mellomen [Bill Lee, Thurl Ravenscroft, Max Smith, Bob Hamlin] (Card Painters), Stan Freberg (uncredited voice)
Cinema 4 Rating: 8

You might think my rating too high for what is generally considered to be mid-tier Disney, and it is certainly not the most faithful of Lewis Carroll adaptations. But the off-kilter design, the disjointed editing, and a neat snottiness at large in the film conspire to make this a very unique experience when compared against the remainder of the Disney slate. Even the most…

Recently Rated Movies #35: It's Showtime, Folks!

Ah, J-horror... little did I know that when I said "yes" to a free year of Showtime and its numerous offspring, that I would be opening the gates to a zillion Japanese ghost movies. Right now, our DVR is only full to about 46% of its capacity, and I have about 16 movies saved on there, of which about 10 are Japanese films of mainly supernatural intent. If you want to find out how I will be spending the next three days while Jen is slaving away at work for the holidays... that's pretty much how...

Of course, the main reason I said "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...", and then licked my chops in the manner of Foghorn Leghorn's weasel nemesis, was that I wanted access to the Masters of Horror series (the first season of which I have been renting; steadfast readers of this blog will have read many of my reviews for those discs already) and the series which almost made me slap down the bucks for the damn channels anyway: Dexter, based on the excellent novel (…

Psychotronic Ketchup: Anatomy of a Psycho (1961) & Hatchet for a Honeymoon (1970)

It took three tries, and I finally got my chance to see Anatomy of a Psycho. You know that tired rah-rah about "good things come to those who wait"? 'Taint necessarily so...

Somehow, I received two consecutive, damaged shipments of the same title from Netflix regarding the DVD which contains not just Anatomy of a Psycho, but also a film much farther down on my alphabetical to-see Psychotronic list but infinitely more intriguing to me, mainly due to its being directed by the only slightly sadistic Mario Bava, Hatchet for the Honeymoon. Even though Honeymoon ultimately disappoints, it is by far a much better film, and while I have not done the research, I find it incredibly hard to believe that these two films were ever on a double feature bill together -- so disparate they are in both quality, material and audience -- let alone that someone decided to release them together on a DVD. But here they are together on the same disc under the Killer Creatures Double Features bann…

Rixflix A to Z: Akira (1988)

Director/Original Comic: Katsuhiro Ôtomo // Studio; 2:04; Color
Crew Notables: Izô Hashimoto & Katsuhiro Ôtomo (screenplay)
Cast Notables: Mitsuo Iwata (Shôtarô Kaneda), Nozumu Sasaki (Tetsuo Shima), Mami Koyama (Kei)
Cinema 4 Rating: 7

Hard to believe there was a time, and not that long ago either, when anime (or manga, for that matter) weren't practically household words. At least, not in America. Sure, in the 60s and 70s, some parts of the country got their cracks at early classics like Gigantor, AstroBoy or Speed Racer. Maybe they played at some point in Anchorage, Alaska, but not on my watch. I saw them later on when cable came about and you would get blessed with an episode here and there, but in my youngest days, the only anime show that I recall seeing was a few episodes of Kimba the White Lion. I don't even remember where I saw them (it may have been the UHF channel that also showed sporadic Terrytoons cartoons), but I did all the same. I guarantee you this: I read th…

How did I miss this one? I'll tell you...

As much as I try to not get involved in this whole "Christmas rush" nowadays, I couldn't help it. I had some purchases to make -- and damn it! I was going to get out there and take care of it! So, Jen and I hit the densely packed freeways and hit that big box store that steals my heart and wallet away every time: Best Buy.

When I lived in Alaska, Best Buy was about 15 minutes away on the bus, and my friends often went there as well, so I practically lived in the place. Here in OrCo, there are Best Buys around, but I have to go a little bit further and work harder to get to them. As a result, I rarely get over to Best Buy, so a trip there leaves me a little flabbergasted when I walk through the doors. In its way, due to the rarity of my appearances, every time I go to Best Buy, the moment almost become like a second Christmas for me. The prices are better than most places, and the selection is excellent, if a little confusing at times. And everything shines and glistens wi…

Joseph Barbera 1911-2006

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Rixflix A to Z: Airplane! (1980)

Directors/Screenwriters: David Zucker, Jim Abrahams & Jerry Zucker // Paramount; 1:26; Color
Crew Notables: Elmer Bernstein (music)
Cast Notables: Robert Hays (Ted Striker), Julie Hagerty (Elaine), Robert Stack (Rex Kramer), Leslie Nielsen (Dr. Rumack), Lloyd Bridges (McCroskey), Peter Graves (Captain Oveur), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Roger Murdock), Lorna Patterson (Randy), Stephen Stucker (Johnny), Kenneth Tobey (Air controller Neubauer), Barbara Billingsley (Jive-speaking lady), Jill Whelan (Lisa Davis), Joyce Bulifant (Mrs. Davis), Jonathan Banks (Gunderson), Ethel Merman (Lt. Hurwitz), David Leisure (First Krishna), Jimmie Walker (Windshield Wiper Man), Frank Ashmore (Victor Basta), Howard Jarvis (Man in taxi), Otto the Auto-Pilot (Himself), Jim Abrahams (Religious Zealot #6), James Hong (Japanese general), Gregory Itzin (Religious Zealot #1), Maureen McGovern (Nun), Charlotte Zucker (Make-up lady), David Zucker (Ground crewman #1), Jerry Zucker (Ground crewman #2), Kitten Nativida…

Yeah, I Sat Through It Again: A*P*E (1976)

Director: Paul J. Leder
TC4P Rating: 2/9

"Imagine. Almost 36 feet tall... wow..."- Freighter mate on ship transporting A*P*E across the ocean at start of film.

You are going to run into this film on just about any "So Bad You've Gotta See It!"-type of site or book... and yeah, it is... and yeah, you gotta see it. Its fecundity is only matched by its stupidity, but in its tattered, zipper-up-the-back way, its actually quite clever. But only if director Paul Leder actually meant the film to be this bad. Could there be a chance that this chintzy, decrepit South Korean production is actually the most brilliant spoof in the history of movies? A film that not only mocks giant ape movies and current movie trends, but does it in the way that most common citizens "think" of or expect giant ape movies to be? Is the entire film a complete put on, and to a large degree, a cynical attempt to flip off the audience (which the big simian does at one point, th…

Psychotronic Ketchup: The Anniversary (1968)

"There is one thing that I will not tolerate in my house, Karen. And that is the shouting of abuse." - Mrs. Taggart (Bette Davis)

No, but what Mrs. Taggart does tolerate in her house is every other form of abuse, whether mental, physical, auditory or visual. Oh, and Mrs. Taggart prefers that she is the one doing the abusing. Sure, you can get your digs in at her, but she willingly takes it without flinching in the least, because she has already prepared the next step in your decline towards mental instability. If she does flinch, it is merely affected, so that she can set you up for your eventual fall.

That Mrs. Taggart, played with scene-chewing coolness by the Divine Miss Davis, all the while sporting a designer tear-drop patch (in colors to match her wardrobe!) over a seemingly shot-out left eye, hands out this abuse is one thing. That she does this willingly and without the slightest bit of remorse to her three sons, their significant others and her grandchildren is anothe…

Rixflix A to Z: After the Thin Man (1936)

Director: W.S. Van Dyke II // MGM; 1:53; b/w
Crew Notables: Dashiell Hammett (story), Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett (AAN - screenplay)
Cast Notables: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Asta, James Stewart, Elissa Landi, Joseph Calleia, Jessie Ralph, Alan Marshal, George Zucco, Penny Singleton, William Law, Sam Levene.
Cinema 4 Rating: 8

Growing up watching the Thin Man series, it's astounding that I didn't turn out to be a lush. Those detectives of high societal positioning (and lowbrow entertainment choices), the delightful Nick and Nora Charles, would have been the chief culprits if fate had indeed led me in that direction, so enraptured I was with their ability to solve incredibly convoluted mysteries while both remained under the free flowing power of the sauce. I also had a thing for Myrna Loy since I was a teenager, even though I knew she about sixty years too old for me. Of course, if you compare the time that she made this film with my age when I discovered this fixation,…