Amanda's is the short-lived 1983 sitcom starring Bea Arthur that came between her 1970s success as Maude and her 1980s success as Dorothy Zbornak in The Golden Girls. The show is based on the British comedy Fawlty Towers starring John Cleese and centered around the owner and staff of a seaside hotel. Not one of the 13 episodes filmed (all available on YouTube) is particularly funny but if you are a Bea completist, it's worth checking out.
Plague is not The Walking Dead or a Romero type zombie film. It's more about the disintegration of a marriage due to the circumstances of the unidentified (but zombie-creating) bacteria. The acting is decent and the script well-formed so if you're into a (Harold) Pinter-esque take on the zombie apocalypse then Plague is for you.
Australia's These Final Hours is another winner in the I've never heard of this movie sweepstakes. It takes place in the final hours before Earth will be destroyed by a meteor; this event is the catalyst for the journey the lead character takes. Written and directed by Zak Hilditch, the film has well thought out characterizations and events but don't expect thrills and chills as the film is a drama at heart (and a romantic one at that).
I hadn't heard of the Dean Koontz book Odd Thomas but when I saw his name attached I figured how bad could it be. Well, it's a great occult mystery that has a few layers at it's core, excellent acting, involving characters, and the scary/comic tone of Zombieland. Nicely written and directed by Stephen Sommers, it also seems like we haven't seen the last of Odd.
It took me three nights to finish Dead Sleep, the 1990 Ozploitation (Australian exploitation) movie because, you guessed it, I kept falling into a dead sleep. But I like Linda Blair and didn't mind resuming the movie the next night(s). It's not very complex or very thrilling or very surprising in its outcome but I like Linda Blair and she is the star so...
Monster kicks ass! The 2014 bloody thriller about revenge on a serial killer is nail-biting (and sometimes a bit funny) throughout every bit of its almost two hours. Four star kudos to Lee Min-Ki, Kim Go-Eun and Ahn Seo-Hyun for involving and dedicated performances (especially the latter considering she was only ten years old when the movie was filmed) and writer/director Hwang In-Ho for holding me spellbound.
Let There Be Zombies is a decent B-flick (on Amazon Prime now) with a script that has some characterization and is not laden with ridiculous actions by the protagonists. It's definitely a funny zombie movie although some of the jokes fall flat, and it's obvious writer/director Andrew Patterson knows his genre as there were shots that seemed direct homages to Night of the Living Dead. It's not scary and it's not very bloody but I still got drawn in by the story and the actors - who were very good in their respective roles - and it's got that social commentary thing running through it.
Coherence is touted as a science fiction movie but has more in common with Donnie Darko than Star Trek. Writer/director James Ward Byrkit's 2013 film is a fascinating movie with a great script and development back story. Don't read anything about this movie before seeing it although how you'll manage to do that without reading what I wrote before seeing it is certainly a conundrum; maybe Coherence is the missing piece of this three lines puzzle?!
It's not often that I want to watch a movie again right after I've seen it for the first time but that's exactly what I did with Housebound, the fantastically funny horror film from New Zealand written and directed by Gerard Johnstone. Morgana O'Reilly and Rima Te Wiata are spot on as a mother and daughter forced to spend eight months together in their haunted, childhood home. In spite of (or because of) the story cues from ABC Movie Of The Week, it is an almost perfect movie.
Billy Club is not earth-shatteringly bad or resoundingly refined. It's a typical revenge slasher film with a denouement I've seen before. It wasn't badly filmed, kept my attention (especially the truck kissing scene with writer/director/actor Nick Sommer) and had a premise about bullying but that's all I got.
Although Rebound starts out as cheesy crap (despite the bra on the girl in the sex scene), it definitely proved itself as worthy of attention. I was never sure who was the bad guy and once the answer was clear it still went in a number of atypical directions. It doesn't break any new ground but writer/director Megan Freels creates a creepy movie with some nice camera work; certainly worth a watch for those into the horror genre.
Wow, David Arquette must really need the money for alimony and child support to have taken the lead role as a Manson-like pedophile in The Cottage, a cinematic piece of shit posing as a Lifetime drama. The script is misogynistic, the characters and situations stock, and the only redeeming values are the cottage (a beautiful property on which most of the movie takes place), Arquette's nude swim and the little seen movie poster in the style of Saul Bass. I posted a JPG and created a triptych so you can go on with your day.
Scourge doesn't trod any new ground but it's decently involving and the titular corrigia, created using CGI, was well-done. For this type of B-movie the script could've been worse and the acting was decent; when the femme lead was fighting the corrigia she actually looked like she was fighting the corrigia - in spite of the fact that she was fighting nothing. It might've been better had the movie answered some of the questions asked by the characters themselves regarding the corrigia (which means shoelace while scourge means whip) but you can't have it all.
Mary, Queen Of Scots (aka Mary Stuart) was six days old when her father, King James V of Scotland, died and she became the Scottish queen, but the real controversy surrounding this royal occurred when the very Catholic Queen Mary I of England died and was succeeded by her half-sister, the very Protestant Elizabeth I - both fathered by King Henry VIII. In the eyes of many Catholics, Elizabeth was illegitimate, and Mary Stuart, as the senior descendant of Henry VIII's elder sister, was the rightful queen of England. Katherine Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave both played her on film but Mary Stuart's first cinematic appearance was in 1895 when the Edison Laboratory created a short film depicting her execution; the jump cut right before the beheading was so convincing to audiences of the time that many (would have) believed it to be the first snuff film - had that term been in the lexicon of the 19th century.
After watching Fedora I have no feeling that the title character, a famously reclusive movie star, had anything special because director Billy Wilder miscast the pivotal role - the film's downfall. The story is intriguing (and thematically ripe for a remake starring Renée Zellweger!) but I thank author Tom Tryon for that because the whole presentation feels like a B movie. It was interesting to see Stephen Collins (yes THAT Stephen Collins) play a young William Holden but Marthe Keller is just wooden and Hildegarde Knef is no Gloria Swanson ... or Greta Garbo.
In The Crowded Sky (based on the best-selling novel) every woman is a self-described tramp (except Hollis Irving as the virginal dog) and every man has a non-sexual flaw (except Keenan Wynn as the lothario). All of these peccadilloes are revealed in the first 90 minutes of the film which is followed by an exciting mid-air plane crash and its consequences. The crowd is populated by Rhonda Fleming, Anne Francis, Patsy Kelly, Troy Donahue, John Kerr, Dana Andrews and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (the latter two switching the pilot roles they played 15 years later in Airport 1975) but too many flashbacks and voiceovers make this precursor to the disaster films of the 70s unintentionally funny until the nicely filmed denouement.
1944's supernatural tale The Uninvited isn't the most horrifying ghost story but it does have the following things going for it:
Charles Lang's Oscar-nominated cinematography
Gail Russell's performance as Stella By Starlight (the pop standard based on the movie's theme)
a story that engrosses up to the somewhat unexpected denouement
a hint of mid-40s lesbianism offered up by Cornelia Otis Skinner
With Russell, Skinner and Ruth Hussey, Ray Milland comes off even more bland than usual, and frankly a little ridiculous. Fortunately though, we can watch Russell as she takes over the screen with her bedroom eyes, full lips and hauntingly delicate performance - 17 years before she died from alcoholism at the age of 36.
Streaming on Amazon Prime (and not available on DVD) is About Mrs. Leslie, a wonderfully romantic movie starring the actress with the biggest heart in Hollywood, Miss Shirley Booth. This film was the followup to her film debut Come Back little Sheba and demonstrates (again) how Miss Booth's luminescent talent can light up the screen - this time as a saucy nightclub singer (à la Belle Barth) whose life is transformed by a same time next year relationship. A host of well-recognized character actors do excellent work supporting the genteel Miss Booth and her rugged co-star Robert Ryan in this emotional tale of (un?) requited love.
Philip Ober (Vivian Vance's husband and I Love Lucy guest star)
Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton)
Amanda Blake (Gunsmoke)
Mabel Albertson (Jack's sister and the lady with the jewels in What's Up, Doc)
The Spring Thing is a 1969 television special co-hosted by Bobbie Gentry and Noel Harrison (son of Rex and co-star of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.). Unfortunately, there is no surviving video footage of this musical salute to spring which featured performances from Goldie Hawn, Shirley Bassey, 60s rock group Harpers Bizarre, Rod McKuen and Meredith MacRae (daughter of Gordon and star of the seminal 60s television series Petticoat Junction). Kudos go to the enterprising proprietor of the Noel Harrison fan site who posted this rare MP3 of Bobbie and Noel crooning Bobbie's hit song Peaceful; it was lifted directly from the program so I added visuals and now everyone can enjoy this slice o' Bobbie.
I had the joy of experiencing the 1929 synchronized sound film Why Be Good? in a movie theatre. It features a wonderfully effervescent performance by Colleen Moore with studly support from Neil Hamilton (who some might remember as Commissioner Gordon in the Batman TV series). The story is somewhat akin to Clara Bow's earlier classic It but the film is so modern you'd swear it was filmed later - like today.
The Taking of Deborah Logan is a somewhat original yet involving horror film about an Alzheimer's patient who turns out to have more afflictions than her diagnosis portends. The acting is outstanding especially Jill Larson (All My Children) in the title role, Anne Ramsay (Mad About You) as her daughter and Michelle Ang as the filmmaker documenting Deborah's illness. Some twists and a particularly creepy end to this 2014 film (now streaming on Netflix) make this perfect for a dark and stormy night.
Karen Black shines (once again) in The Strange Possession of Mrs. Oliver, a 1977 television thriller penned by the amazing Richard Matheson. Without giving away too much, Mrs. Oliver (Black) finds herself donning the look (and soul?) of a woman five years dead. The story is involving, the ending unexpected and it even has a small yet pivotal role played (as always) nicely by Gloria LeRoy (who acted with Karen in The Day Of The Locust) so check it out on YouTube.
The first part of the 1950 romance September Affair amounts to a beautiful black and white travelogue of Italy as the story of two lovers who are mistakenly reported dead in a plane crash is established. It's an involving film from an adult script by Robert Thoeren (and an uncredited Ben Hecht) brought to life by pros Joan Fontaine, Joseph Cotten and an affecting Jessica Tandy (in a supporting role as a woman affected by the pair's deception). The score is beautiful (winning a Golden Globe for composer Victor Young) and the penultimate scene in which Fontaine (her character is a pianist) gives a concert in New York is movie magic at its finest.
If you're a Stanny fanny you could do worse than watching her give us A Taste Of Evil in this 1971 thriller from the ABC Movie Of The Week cannon, produced by Aaron Spelling. Not many TV movies start with the rape of a young girl but leave it to Barbara Stanwyck to notch up the evil even further as the cold matriarch Miriam Jennings. Barbara Parkins, Roddy MacDowell, William Windom and Arthur O'Connell join in the fun; yea, it's not that scary or thrilling but Stanwyck makes it fun.
John Cusack is an anachronism in The Raven despite the 1800s set design, his Edgar Allen Poe goatee and the knowledge that he has acted in other movies. The script itself is somewhat interesting as it fictionalizes some rumors surrounding Poe's mysterious death. Ultimately though, Cusack's acting and the general malaise of the direction make this one kind of a snoozefest.