Friday, July 29, 2011

The Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956)

Genre: Horror, Monster

Source: My Own Collection

Grade: D

This movie has been one of those movie`s that i`ve always been curious to watch, but I just kept putting it off for whatever reasons. But now after owning it for three years I finally sat down and watched it. Unfortunately though my curiosity was crushed, this movie was a terrible low-budget, cheesy, and boring movie left no positive impression on me whatsoever.

  The story`s about this government agent and this acclaimed "controversial" scientist who are assigned to investigate what is killing people with burns/radiation on a small coastal town. Ok, so that sounds good enough I thought. Boy was I wrong! First of all the monster only  appears about four to five times throughout the movie (which is only 80 mins to begin with). So in replace they try to fill this movie with a spy sub-plot that bears no great reason towards the plot and serves as only a distraction and nothing more. Then if that wasn`t enough they just had to add a stupid murder mystery sub-plot into it to! Which served no purpose whatsoever regarding the monster. Not only did the story contain annoying sub-plots and a huge lack of monster scenes, but the whole movie was painfully predictable. I mean at least while I watched Dementia 13 I was surprised by appropriate twists in the plot so I ended up walking away from that movie some satisfaction. Not with this nope, it was all incredibly predictable and no surprises whatsoever.

     As for the monsters design, on the poster it looks awesome! Which when I think about is was the only thing that was awesome in the whole movie. Yeah, the poster design. Anyway`s in the movie the monster looks just goofy. It will almost no doubt make you laugh at least a little bit. The Giant Claw may be the silliest looking flying monster but heck the Phantom is the silliest looking sea monster. Even when he "kills" people its cheesy and always obscured by something thanks to the camera angle. And you know I only think that like a total of about three people die total throughout the whole movie.

  Now then that ending was just um how should I put it, well it was one of those endings that happens and you just sit there thinking what? Everything just happens at once and then its over. So yeah there you have it this wannabe  Godzilla/ Creature From The Black Lagoon monster movie that had no one I was familiar with working on it, is one of those movie`s I can truly never recommend to anyone. Its nothing more then a cheesy, cheap, predictable monster movie that has ZERO redeeming factors!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Invaders From Mars (1986)

Genre: Science Fiction, Martian Invasion, Remake

Source: My Own Collection

Grade: B+

  Well this 1986 Tobe Hooper remake of the classic 1953 science fiction movie by the same name has been something i`ve wanted to check out for quite sometime now. So now that i`ve finally got my hands on a copy and watched it i`d have to say I have mixed emotions towards it. But as far as remakes go this one was very respectfully and thoroughly done, and had only a couple drawbacks.

      For starters though i`d like to give you the conversation I had with the actor Jimmy Hunt who played the main character in the original 1953 version, who also respectfully got a role in this remake playing the towns police chief. Anyways his thoughts of this movie overall on this remake were of disappointment. He just didn't feel that this movie was really that great. Though he was impressed that they thought to ask him if he`d like a role in this remake. But none the less me and him both agreed that the original Invaders From Mars just really didn't need to be remade in the first place. Though he did share some rather interesting trivia about this movie with me that I did not know before, he told me that there were two directors who were actually up for grabs on directing it, those two directors were none other then Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper. Well in the end the job obviously went to Hooper for whatever reasons and ole Spielberg would have to wait until to 2005 to remake another beloved 50`s classic science fiction movie (which is War Of The Worlds in case you couldn't guess). So there you have it the great Jimmy Hunts perspective is of disappointment towards this remake.

         Now my whole views on it were of along the lines of Mr.Hunts except a little more optimistic. Starting with what I did like about the movie was I really appreciated all the respect and tributes this 80s remake made to the original 50s classic. Such as for one casting Jimmy Hunt the star of the original into a supporting role in this version, then it kept that awesome surreal fence design from the original even using it on the poster, then there's a scene were David Gardner and the nurse are hiding in the school basement and while the police search for them they shine there flash lights on the Martian head in the glass case which was from the original.
          I also really loved Stan Winston`s monster designs in this movie. They were some truly awesome state of the art stop-motion monsters. That were massive and terrifying to look at, this was one thing though that they changed from the original, in the original the Martians looked very humanoid, in this they looked like straight up monsters. Even the leader Martian is creepy to look at, and I honestly can`t even describe what it looked like. The sets were really also very well done and just as impressive. In fact the scenes were inside  the Martian space ship were fully made and filmed inside one of Howard Hugh`s old plane hangers.

          Story wise this movie basically followed along the lines of the original, except they seemed to have added a whole bunch of stuff. Which honestly didn't bother me to much, like it might to other people. Now the only things that really served as a drawback were for one Hoopers choice for who played the kid. That kid just didn`t have what Jimmy Hunt had, when I try to compare the two child actors Mr.Hunts performance just puts this kids performance to shame in ever way. There were just too many times were this kids performance was super obviously a tongue-in-cheek effort.
      But honestly most of all I just don`t understand why they felt they needed to remake this movie! I can`t help but wonder if the reason the studio green lighted this project was to cash off all the other Science Fiction movie`s that had been hits in the past decade ( for example E.T and Terminator). Oh well, I do believe though that I read that this movie opened to a disappointing  box office revenue and overall just did not make much money. Which was especially sad because on the special features of this DVD the narrator on the Sci-Fi promo featurette talks about how because of all the great talent and effort behind this movie that is destined to become a timeless classic. Sadly this would prove that it obviously made before the movie was released, because hardly anyone seems to know about this movie.

     All in all Tobe Hoopers 1986 remake of Invaders From Mars was respectful, well done remake in my eyes. Still it does not  come near to the greatness of the original 1953 classic. Though the incredible monster designs in this movie are enough to make any sci-fi or monster movie enthusiast want to check this out. My only advice to those who are just curious to watch it is to go in not expecting a lot! That way you might walk away from this movie with a slight sense of enjoyment.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dementia 13 (1963)

Genre: Horror, Psychological

Source: My Own Collection

Grade: C

First off before I start this review I would like to explain my long absence from this blog. This whole month I have been off visiting family out of state and didn't really have access to a computer I felt like using for blogging plus I was so busy all the time I didn't have time to write a good quality review. But never the less I am back and I got a whole bunch of reviews lined up for you beginning with today's Francis Ford Coppola movie Dementia 13.

To be honest I think the three reasons this movie is as popular as it is, is because one it was Francis Ford Coppola`s directional debut. Which as you know he`s gone on to be quite popular directing such movies as The Godfather and Bram Stokers Dracula. Second reason it was produced by the great Roger Corman as well as having Jack Hill serve as this movie`s second unit writer and director. Finally third reason this movie`s poster is so bad ass!!

  Which sadly other than that is about all this movie has. The acting is not bad at all in this film, but none of the performances really stood out for me either. The plot also starts to lag a little bit as the movie progresses making it very slow to watch. But I do feel the effort put in by Coppola was a truly very worthy effort, which I will give him credit for. Anyway`s the whole focus of the horror used in the movie is psychological terror aspects and human nature. So no monsters,vampires, or guys with chainsaws no it is all straight forward with a heavy influence towards realism.
  Coppola`s direction I would have to say was pretty well done especially for an amateur. I mean there are some genuine moments of suspense, as well as a couple shocker scares. Also he really did succeed in creating   the right atmosphere. Everyone's mood was really uneasy and sinister. But the set`s they used were not very creepy and kind of ordinary looking which unfortunately took away a bit of the atmosphere of it all. Infact what they did was they used the left over sets from the movie Meet The Halorans. Which is nothing unusually at all for a Corman production. Its not that the sets were bad, but I just didnt feel they were sinister enough to really convey the setting they were hoping for.

   Another thing I did appreciate about this movie was the mystery that was incorporated into it. It`s really what kept me interested in seeing how this movie would finish even during its slow and boring parts. Which when it ended and everything was revealed left me a little surprised. Sadly though all these plus`s didn't redeem this movie for me from its averageness. There just isn`t anything in it that really makes it stand out as some incredible movie, but nor is there anything in it that makes it stand out as some awful movie. Its just sort of stuck there in the middle.

  Bottom line anyway`s is 1963`s Dementia 13 is a worthy effort on the part of a than new director Francis Ford Coppola. Unfortunately though the movie is uable to compensate for its slow pace, and lack of things that were able to engage me as much as i`d like to have been. But other than that it`s  a so-so Physiological horror film that if your interested in  Francis Ford Coppola`s early work is something you will need to check out, but other than that I can`t really reccomend this movie unless your genuinely curious about it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Birthday To Charles Laughton

Today I would like to make a quick tribute to the birthday of another one of my all time favorte actors this one being the magnificent Charles Laughton. Not really a horror actor but he was the star of a few very influential Horror films of his time such as ISLAND OF THE LOST SOULS, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME and THE OLD DARK HOUSE. Despite what i`ve heard that he was EXTREMELY hard to work with, I still find him to be one of the greatest actors of all time, but for example such directors/actors have shared an open distaste towards him such as Alfred Hitchcock who basically found him to be over controlling as an actor when he worked with him on JAMAICA INN, then Bela Lugosi himself said he found him to be one of the most arrogant people he ever met when working with him on ISLAND OF THE LOST SOULS. Never the less it doesn`t overshadow the fact that he was a truly amazing actor who`s  roles were extremely vast. Plus in my opinion he is the greatest actor to ever portray Captian Bligh which he did in the 1935 Oscar winning movie MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, were he was nominated for best actor in but didnt win.Though He did win that Oscar in 1934 for his performance in THE PRIVATE LIFE OF HENRY THE VII. Also like Peter Lorre he got his fair share of parody in Looney Tunes. So once again happy birthday Charles Laughton!

( Bugs Bunny imitating Charles Laughton in the Looney Tunes episode Buccaneer Bunny )