Sunday, April 22, 2018

More Dead Than Alive (1969)

Director: Robert Sparr

Writer: George Schenck

Composer: Philip Springer

Starring: Clint Walker, Vincent Price, Anne Francis, Paul Hampton, Craig Littler, Mike Henry, Clarke Gordon, Beverly Powers, William Woodson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Killers in pairs... death by the dozen... They left the west... More Dead than Alive.

Plot: When the multiple murderer Cain is released from prison after 18 years, he wants to settle down as a rancher and never touch a gun again. But his former life haunts him; not only that nobody wants to give him a job, some villains also want to pay him back. So he has to accept the offer of showman Ruffalo to perform as "Killer Cain" in his traveling shooting show. However after 18 years without practice even Ruffalo's young assistant Billy shoots better than Cain.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

This is one of three feature films from director Robert Sparr, who worked almost exclusively in TV.  Composer Philip Springer had four credits prior to this picture and two were in TV.  All of this adds up to...this movie sometimes feels like it was made by folks with a TV sensibility, especially in the score.  Springer's music is thin, light and comical - all of which work against the film.  It's pretty bad.  That's almost the only bad I can about this. It's still a very good movie thanks to things like Clint Walker's stoic performance which works in his favor.  Sometimes his style doesn't quite fit the role but in this one he's great.  Vincent Price is great as always but it's a different role for him and I loved it.  It's nice to see him away from the horror pictures during this period.  Everyone else in the cast does a fine job.  Now, the story feels like one you've probably seen before but writer George Schenck (another almost exclusive to the television industry) adds some things to it that make this one stand out.  What happens with Ruffalo (Price) is a shocker and everything from there to the end put a jaw-dropping grin on my face.  Don't read any spoilers on this picture because the ending was balls-out fucking brutal and incredible.  Craig Littler is ferocious.  The only other thing I don't like about this picture is the corny song that's sung at the end.  Silence would've served the film better or at least an burst of an ominous orchestral minor chord.  Cool fact...Clint Walker is coming up on his 91st birthday.  This film came next after his great turn in THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967).

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Commander (1988)

Original title: Der Commander

Director: Antonio Margheriti

Writers: Tito Carpi, Arne Elsholtz, Giacomo Furia

Composer: Walter Baumgartner

Starring: Lewis Collins, Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Manfred Lehmann, Brett Halsey, Chat Silayan, Hans Leutenegger, Christian Bruckner, Frank Glaubrecht

More info: IMDb

Plot: Major Colby leads a group of mercenaries whose mission is to protect a disc full of secrets, located in South Asia.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

It's not all that good but it does have Lee Van Cleef in one of his last roles and he's in the movie a lot more than you'd think.  Now he doesn't participate in the action but he does have a good amount of screen time.  Donald Pleasence has considerably less.  Some of the action is pretty decent but none of it is memorable enough to recommend.  The acting is no better or worse than other cheap Italian made action flicks riding the wave of popularity brought on by the Rambo pictures.  The stuff the commandos go through could easily be placed in a Vietnam flick and no one would know the difference.  It's OK and it's elevated a little because of the inclusion of Cleef and Pleasence and nothing more.The biggest problem the picture has is it's an hour and forty minutes long, which is much longer than it needed to be, and it takes half the picture before the commandos begin their mission and the action starts.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Long Wait (1954)

Director: Victor Saville

Writers: Mickey Spillane, Alan Green, Lesser Samuels

Composer: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco

Starring: Anthony Quinn, Charles Cobern, Gene Evans, Peggie Castle, Mary Ellen Kay, Shirley Patterson, Dolores Donlon, Barry Kelley, James Millican, Bruno VeSota, Jay Adler, John Damler, Frank Marlowe

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Three Thrill-Hungry Dames Played Me For A Sucker...Now it's my turn!

Plot: An amnesiac finally learns his true a murder suspect. And he doesn't even know whether he is guilty.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Would you believe that this was Quinn's almost 70th picture and he still wasn't a star by this point?  It'd be about another ten years before that would happen.  Well, he was well cast in the starring roll in this flick.  He was pretty good at playing a tough guy with a more sensitive side.  The slower pacing brings the picture down a bit.  It's only a 90 picture but it easily feels like two hours.  Everyone does a fine job and there are some nice shots but it doesn't quite add up to being great.  The thing about the story is (which is both good and bad) Johnny (Quinn) has amnesia and he's trying to figure out what really happened and who the players are in the bank robbery and murder he's been fingered for.  So he's in the dark as much as the audience but there's also a lot of searching and questions along the way before he knows the truth.  I found it interesting to a point but it felt a little long in the tooth.  By the end I was glad it was finally over but I felt satisfied.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Gunshy (1998)

Director: Jeff Celentano

Writer: Larry Gross

Composer: Hal Lindes

Starring: William Petersen, Michael Wincott, Diane Lane, Kevin Gage, Michael Byrne, R. Lee Ermey, Meat Loaf

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Cold-blooded killers.

Plot: When the New York journalist Jake Bridges catches his girlfriend with another guy, he goes to Atlantic City to drink himself to oblivion. He is saved from a bar brawl by a small-time mobster Frankie, and Jake falls in love with Frankie's girlfriend Melissa. Jake soon also joins Frankie in his money-collecting duties.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Good flick.  Some might find it a little slow but it's a good crime drama with some good acting (Wincott is always interesting).  The story might seem like it's by the numbers but it's not.  It goes places I didn't expect and that's a big plus.  There's a little action when there needs to be but it's mostly about the relationship between Jake (Petersen), Frankie (Wincott) and Melissa (Lane).  The ending is great.  Fans of Ermey or Meat Loaf might be disappointed.  They're only in the film for a little bit and all of it is in the first twenty minutes.  I was hoping for more but what's there is good. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Forbidden Women (1948)

Director: Eduardo de Castro

Writer: ???

Composers: Josefino Cenizal, Apolinar Rojas

Starring: Fernando Poe, Berting Labra, Mona Lisa, Fernando Royo, Luningning, Bimbo Danao

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Death Was the Penalty for All Men Who Dared Contact the "Forbidden Women"

Plot: After studying in America, South Seas Prince Sigore returns home with plans to change things on his island. He's opposed by the sultan's sister-in-law, who has plans to control the paradise, and is infatuated with the Forbidden Women and their sensuous ways.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

This Filipino production isn't all that bad.  It's not all that good but there are some nice things in here.  The performances run from bad to good but the costumes, sets and outdoor locations are rather nice.  The story is one of basic intrigue where you have someone becoming the leader of a country but someone else wants that seat and has them killed (at least they think that) so that he can come back and take the crown back and all is well by the end.  The difference here is that an American producer bought the picture, sexed up the title and added some saucy bits (so says the internet).  That's another nice bonus.  If only Spielberg had done that with some of his pictures.  Geez.

The film clocks in at barely an hour so it's not much more than a hearty snack.  Unfortunately the naughty bits are closer to the beginning of the picture and not spread out.  

Monday, April 16, 2018

Black Panther (2018)

Director: Ryan Coogler

Writers: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole

Composer: Ludwig Goransson

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Long live the king.

Plot: When King T'Challa returns to his home nation of the secluded but technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda, he is put to the test as both king of his country and Black Panther when he is drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the world at risk. To defeat his enemies and protect his countries, the king must rally his allies and unleash the power of Black Panther.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

I can't find any fault with this flick...not that I ever look for faults.  It's just good all the way around.  There's so much about it that's refreshing to see and hear from the look, costumes, story, music, sound design, the works.  The MCU keeps getting better.  And after this and the latest Thor movie, the next Avengers flick had better deliver and not take a step back like AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015).  The acting is solid.  Hell, I even teared up a couple of times.  It was touching.  Winston Duke had some funny moments.  He reminded me a little of Brian Blessed as Prince Vultan from FLASH GORDON (1980), so much so that I wished he'd gone full Blessed and run with it.  He would've stolen the show which is probably why he didn't.  Damnit.  The future tech was cool.  Somebody needs to open up a WakandaWorld so I can go hang out there.  It's beautiful.  Stan Lee's cameo is hilarious as usual.  I'm glad they didn't go full GotG with the comedy.  That would've hurt but there are some laughs and they're earned.  I'm looking forward to seeing Black Panther in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR in a few short days.  It's remarkable how the creative team behind these flicks are able to manage/juggle so many wonderful characters.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Eliminators (2001)

AKA: Amandianeze

Director: Bond Emeruwa

Writers: Paul Uzomah, Cardinal Chukwujama, Chuks Obiora, Emma Ayalogu

Starring: Nkem Owoh, Clems Ohameze, Patience Ozokwor, Ngozi Exeonu, Charles Awurum, Uche Ndigwe, Emma Ayalogu, Tony Anyasodo, Enebechi Alor, Ifeanyi Odikaesieme, Andy Ike, Princess Ezeh, Patrical Ezeani

More info: ???

Tagline: There is no act to find the minds construction in the face.  Only men with vaulting ambition can tell.

Plot: The Exterminators is about a couple of businessmen wanting to do anything for power and money. It's a story of greed, lust and violence... Nigerian style!

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Well, I broke my Nollywood cherry and I don't feel so good about it.  I'm not familiar with the Nigerian film industry but if this is any indication then it needs help but please don't give your money to that Nigerian prince who will promise great riches in return.  The actors are speaking English but the accents are thick and I found it difficult at times to understand.  I was able to get enough of it to get a feel of what was going on.  It's not a complicated story.  It's obvious from the start that there was very little money poured into this.  The acting is raw and rather good all things considering.  The actresses are great.  A lot of the players bring a lot of passion to their roles and it looks like that despite the budget and probably talent, everyone involved worked hard to make the best movie they could.  The locations are very limited and are mostly similar which helps allow boredom creep in.  I'm sure this isn't a good example of what Nigeria produced and even though I didn't like it, I'm still keen to give other Nollywood films a go.