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Showing posts from January, 2007

Rixflix A to Z: Attack of the Giant Leeches (1956)

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Director: Bernard L. Kowalski // AIP; 1:02; b/w
Crew Notables: Roger Corman (exec. producer); Leo Gordon (writer)
Cast Notables: Ken Clark, Yvette Vickers, Jan Shepard, Michael Emmet, Tyler McVey, Bruno VeSota, Gene Roth
Cinema 4 Rating: 3
I will forgo the obvious temptation to make jokes about lawyers, politicians, ex-wives or corporations to instead offer praise to the filmmakers of Attack of the Giant Leeches for giving the viewer exactly what they promise. There are leeches in the film, and while they seem to be of a truly unrecognizable or perhaps undiscovered species, they are indeed giant. While not towering over a building like Starro would whilst fighting the Justice League of America, these leeches are still far bigger than your average, everyday leech, and certainly they are slightly bigger than the people they are attacking. Oh, yes... the leeches also do attack, thereby lending the truth to the title. To Bernie Kowalski and American International Pictures, thank you for givin…

Psychotronic Ketchup: The Atomic Brain [Monstrosity] (1960) and The Astro-Zombies (1968)

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Dull-eyed but not painless. How else can one feel after spending an hour sitting through a film where three women, one of them not even particularly attractive, wander from room to room in a dusty mansion, while the viewer sits less and less patiently waiting for the mad scientist to do them in so the film will reach its climax and the viewer can run screaming from his home? If there were some sort of reason this film was made, apart from stealing money from the pockets of unsuspecting viewers, then I cannot locate it. The Atomic Brain's mere two moments of camp value come from some tacked-on narration by what must be an unsuspecting "actual actor" (as opposed to the remainder of the cast) Bradford Dillman, and from a scene of one of the women, who has had her mind swapped with that of a feline, hissing and scratching at another woman while ensconced atop a gazebo. This is exactly how I felt as I watched the film, and it would have been terrific if I could have taken one…

Psychotronic Ketchup & Rixflix A to Z: Atom Age Vampire [Seddok, l'erede di Satana] (1960)

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Director: Anton Giulio Majano // Manson/Topaz; 1:26; b/w
Cast Notables: Alberto Lupo, Susanne Loret, Sergio Fantoni, Franca Parisi
Cinema 4 Rating: 4

A few years back, HBO ran a series of films called Creature Features, which were not so much remakes of old 1950s Samuel Arkoff-produced science-fiction and horror films as they were remakes of the titles of those films. Instead of Earth Vs. the Spider being about a giant tarantula, in the new version, the filmmakers were inspired to create a more horrific take on Spider-Man, with the kid infected with radioactive spider blood becoming a blood-slurping villain after trying to use his powers for good. Most of the re-dos of old titles did not really work (though I have much affection for the new version of The She-Creature); it was an interesting experiment, but I thought some of the filmmaker choices were poor and I felt that a little more care should have been to quality control. This might seem a strange concept when speaking of making a m…

Rixflix A to Z: Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

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Directors: Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise // Walt Disney Studios; 1:35; color
Crew Notables: Joss Whedon (story treatment); James Newton Howard (score)
Cast Notables: Michael J. Fox, James Garner, John Mahoney, Cree Summer, Leonard Nimoy, Jim Varney, Don Novello, David Ogden Stiers, Jacqueline Obradors, Florence Stanley, Natalie Strom, Corey Burton, Claudia Christian,Phil Morris, Jim Cummings
Cinema 4 Rating: 6

I do have to give kudos to the Disney animation department for defying expectations. Just when you think that you can sum up their efforts over the past, say, 70 years into a neat little package surrounded by cute, fuzzy animals and singing princesses, they pull this out of their bag of tricks. A Jules Verne-style voyage into the depths of the oceans, rendered in a modern action style, and populated almost entirely by actual human characters. Well, characters that are designed to look human, though they still fall into a precisely divided set of action movie stereotypes, so let'…

The First Evidence of the Oscars Sucking This Year...

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...And the nominees for Best Animation Feature, Moderately Entertaining to Immensely Overrated Piece of Shit Division, are:

___Cars (John Lasseter)
___ Happy Feet (George Miller)
___Monster House (Gil Kenan)

Oh, look! Three underlined areas where I would never feel compelled, had I the chance to participate, to place a checkmark or an 'X'. What gives, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, often scientific but rarely artful? Is your august organization as befuddled in this matter as millions of vapid parents? Where's the love for the animated film that was more outright entertaining than all three of these films put together (and then some), and just as well-executed technically: Over the Hedge?

I'm not going to get into the whole "is motion-capture technology animation?" argument; to me, motion-capture is merely the most recent update of rotoscoping (essentially, tracing over live-action film), a money-saving animation process which worked plenty well for t…

Psychotronic Ketchup: Attack of the Puppet People (1958)

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Nepotism is such an ugly word. One usually hears it in conjunction with someone getting a step up in a business due to their personal relationship with someone in a position of power within that company. Being from Alaska, this very thing happened in our political system, where a slime-coated State Senator won the Governorship and handed his open slot to his skeezy daughter. As I said, nepotism is an ugly word, sometimes made all the uglier by the participants.

Hollywood is, and always has been, suffused with nepotism, and it is no surprise when a director casts a family member in a production. But is it really nepotism when the casting in question really does nothing to help that person get a leg up in the industry? If your father is the king of rear-projection gigantism films, such as Mister Big himself, Bert I. Gordon, then isn't he really hindering your shot at a career by casting you in one of his justly infamous productions? Isn't this really a form of anti-nepotism?

Bert …

Rixflix A to Z: At War with the Army (1950)

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Director: Hal Walker // Paramount; 1:33; b/w
Cast Notables: Dean Martin (1st Sgt. Vic Puccinelli), Jerry Lewis (PFC Alvin Korwin), Mike Kellin (Sgt. McVey), Polly Bergen (Helen Palmer), Jean Ruth (Millie), Angela Green (Mrs. Caldwell), William Mendrek (Capt. Caldwell)
Cinema 4 Rating: 5

I swear that I am going to start a regular series called "Rewriting the Maltin Guide". There is enough bad film advice and misdirection in that book to fill a thousand posts, so even though I actually would never be without a copy (It is, or rather, used to be an invaluable reference guide), perhaps I should start a series sooner instead of later. I have mentioned before that the book has almost no feel for genre whatsoever, but I should also point out that it is a book squarely aimed at the most straight-laced of moviegoers, and thus most of its reviews come off strictly squaresville, baby. And every once in a while, a review -- oh, and dare I mention that Leonard Maltin doesn't even actual…

Recently Rated Movies #38: Zigzag Zombie?

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I don't know what happened to TCM Underground. I don't know whether Rob Zombie, who is an admittedly very busy guy these days, was only signed to present a couple months of the late-night cult movie show or whether he got tired of the job or TCM got tired of him. I haven't actually heard anything about this. All I know is that one week he was hosting the show, and the next week, there was no longer a host... AT ALL. We get Robert Osborne dishing on every single movie in the world, including other late night features like TCM Imports, so why not this one? What happened to the hosting on this show?

Look, I don't need anyone to tell me anything about any of these movies. That's not the point. I have books; I have the Internet; I have a library card. I can do my own research into films, but Zombie's presence on the show, and the fact that they started this show at all, meant so much more to me. I don't need anyone to tell me about these movies; instead, I want s…

Rixflix A to Z: At the Earth's Core (1976)

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Director: Kevin Connor // AIP/Amicus; 1:29; Color
Crew Notables: Edgar Rice Burroughs (novel), Ian Wingrove (special effects supervisor)
Cast Notables: Doug McClure (David Innes), Peter Cushing (Dr. Abner Perry), Caroline Munro (Princess Dia), Cy Grant (Ra), Godfrey James (Ghak)
Cinema 4 Rating: 5

If you would like to know the sort of film that I was allowed to see in theatres before that magical summer of 1977 when Star Wars, Dirty Harry and James Bond took over my adolescent cinematic focus, then look no further than At the Earth's Core. Presumed to be fairly benign -- rated PG, it featured rather obvious men-in-monster-costumes, barely believable special effects, and a poorly constructed prehistoric world that almost makes Land of the Lost look positively polished in comparison -- parents took it be the then-ideal type of movie (barring Disney trips) for the 12-year monster nut.

That the film is actually rather bloody was probably missed on by the parents who never actually attende…

Rixflix A to Z: At the Circus (1939)

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Director: Edward Buzzell // MGM; 1:27; b/w
Crew Notables: Franz Waxman (incidental music/musical director), Cedric Gibbons (art direction), Buster Keaton (gag consultant)
Cast Notables: Groucho Marx (J. Cheever Loophole), Chico Marx (Antonio Pirelli), Harpo Marx (Punchy), Kenny Baker (Jeff Wilson), Florence Rice (Julie Randall), Eve Arden (Peerless Pauline), Margaret Dumont (Mrs. Suzanna Dukesbury), Nat Pendleton (Goliath the Strongman), Fritz Feld (Jardinet), James Burke, Jerry Maren (Little Prof. Atom), Willie Best
Cinema 4 Rating: 6

I have always given short shrift -- that would be shrift that is a tad bit impatient in character -- to the later films of the Marx Brothers. Weened on Animal Crackersand Duck Soup, raised on Monkey Business and Horse Feathers, and graduated via the pair of Thalberg MGMs, A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races (not just the Queen albums of the same names), by the time I encountered their later films post-Thalberg (which would be Room Service on down), …

Pounded Like A Dawg: The Conclusion... or is it?

So, I got my money back.

I filed my claim with Amazon.com regarding my ill-advised purchase of a large ticket item for a Christmas present from one of the sellers that lurks in a vampiric manner within the bowels of their website. I have stated before that, up to this point, I have been completely satisfied with such purchases, and figured if a problem arose, that Amazon had a decent system for refunding one's money in that event. Turns out Amazon responded to my claim within a couple of days, researched the problem, and refunded my money. Amazon is going to get the money back from me anyway; as soon as the refund hits my statement, I am just going to reorder the item through Amazon itself, only for about $40 more than I paid from the idiots at Movie/Music/Book Dogpound. After all, it was Jen's major present.

But still, I thought, end of story...

...Or is it? Judging from the negative reactions on Amazon towards this seller, I was not the only one who lost out, at least temporari…

Psychotronic Ketchup & Rixflix A to Z: Assignment: Outer Space [Space Men] (1960)

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Director: Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony Dawson) // Titanus/AIP; 1:13; Color
Crew Notables: Joseph von Stroheim (sound effects editor)
Cast Notables: Rik Von Nutter (Ray Peterson/IZ41), Gabriella Farinon (Lucy/Y13), David Montresor (George), Archie Savage (Al/X15), Alain Dijon (Archie/Y16)
Cinema 4 Rating: 3

Well, I think that I've found my porn name. Take a look at the name of the leading man of this weirdly compelling though thoroughly boring space epic, Rik Von Nutter, and tell me that isn't the perfect name to swipe for my much fantasized career as the next Larry Flynt. After all, the first name is the same as my own, the surname can be construed as mildly dirty, and it beats the hell out of something like, say, Max Hardcore. What a dopey name...

Actually, the star's name was "Van" not "Von", but it doesn't matter. In the credits for Assignment: Outer Space, a sort of Italian 2001: A Space Odyssey about eight years too early and without a lick of art…

Rixflix A to Z: Assassin of Youth (1937)

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Director: Elmer Clifton // BCM Roadshow Prod.; 1:20; b/w
Cast Notables: Luana Walters (Joan Barrie), Arthur Gardner (Art Brighton), Michael Owen, Fay McKenzie, Dorothy Short
Cinema 4 Rating: 3

Early on in this propaganda film about the horrors of marijuana, some adults watch another propaganda film about the horrors of marijuana. This idea blows my mind more far more than marijuana ever has. (All its ever done for me is give me headaches and nausea.) The narrator of the film-within-the-film gives us a flurry of reasons why "the weed" is bad for our youth, and then closes his talk with this phrase: "But I'm afraid my words will not impress you."

Well, frankly, no. They do not impress me; not when your words are as stilted and full of lies and bad science and history. (His obvious discomfort and vocal stiffness in front of the camera also do not help his cause.) And the movie in which these people are watching your movie does not impress me, either. This sort of road…

Rixflix A to Z: Army of Darkness (1992)

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Director/Co-Writer: Sam Raimi // Universal/Renaissance; 1:21/1:36 (director's cut); Color
Crew Notables: Ivan Raimi (Co-Writer), Danny Elfman (theme), Joseph LoDuca (score), Bill Pope (cinematography)
Cast Notables: Bruce Campbell (Ash), Embeth Davidtz (Sheila), Marcus Gilbert (Lord Arthur), Ian Abercrombie (Wiseman), Richard Grove (Duke Henry the Red), Bridget Fonda (Linda), Patricia Tallman (possessed witch), Ted Raimi (cowardly warrior/2nd supportive villager/S-Mart clerk), Bill Moseley (Deadite Captain), Angela Featherstone (girl in S-Mart), Sam Raimi (knight in sweatshirt & sneakers), Josh Becker, Don Campbell, Charlie Campbell, Harley Cokeliss, William Lustig, Ivan Raimi & Bernard Rose (fake shemps, amongst many others...)
Cinema 4 Rating: 7

Alright, bitches. Where were you? I remember the snowbound February of 1993 very clearly. No one wanted to go to the movies, even on a Saturday afternoon when nothing else was going on, and so I slogged through the snow to check out …

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