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2010


Verson Jetorix watched:

CODE 7 VICTIM 5 (64)
Marketed as a spy film, this UK production is really a detective story shot in South Africa.  Lex Barker arrives to woo the babes and solve the mystery of who's killing a group of old "friends," one by one.  Ann Smyrner is the hottie he ends up with after everyone's dead.  Cape Town postcard aspect adds some visual interest but this has a bit of a mondo edge to it too.  There's a nightclub geek show and real animal death, but these don't overwhelm the casual boredom of the piece.
 
 

AGORA (09)
The story of the philosopher Hypatia and the ransacking of the library of Alexandria by the damn Christians.  Nicely shot, and mostly involving, the point becomes perfectly clear that fanaticism in any garb manifests evil.  Go pagans!
 
 

MOST DANGEROUS MAN ALIVE (61)
Gritty, low, low-budget crime film with a sci-fi angle.  Ron Randall, who did a bunch of TV in the 60s, is a framed gangster who stumbles into a Cobalt bomb test.  The good news is he begins turning to steel and takes advantage of it to go revengin' against Anthony Caruso and his boozy moll, drop-dead gorgeous Debra Paget.  The bad news is there are some long, clumsy dialog scenes for all of them to get thru before Ron can finish business.  Morris Ankrum's in it too.  Occasionally stylish.  I liked it.  Allan Dwan's last film.
 
 
 

ME AND ORSON WELLES (08)
Christian McKay channels Welles in an Oscar-worthy performance about an interesting subject.  The movie's a bit under baked, I'll admit, but watching McKay/Welles put together Shakespeare's Julius Caesar at the Mercury Theater in 1937 is quite delicious. 
 
 

THE FALL (06)
This is one of the most gorgeous movies i have ever seen.  The framework, a man telling a story to a girl, strives for a depth it doesn't quite achieve, but the tale is told with such visual flourish as to be almost impossibly beautiful.  An amazing work of art.



 
 

THE BILLIONAIRE (61)
This is as close as you're going to get to the single, off-screen murder that happens in this French soap opera yawnfest, and you have to wait an hour for that!  The lead is a snappy dresser but supporter George Sanders didn't wait around to dub his own performance, and I don't blame him.



 
 

TWICE DEAD (88)
You're looking at the best part of this lame 80's urban terror cum ghostly horror flick.  Phony on all levels, there is only minor interest in a few moments of special effects trickery when the trapped-at-home kids pull some pseudo gore effects on the invading tough puffs.  The sister is a cutie but she doesn't give it up.  Yawn, yawn.


 
 

THE BLACK DOLL (38)
Universal "Crime Club" series entry with Nan Grey (Dracula's Daughter), Donald Woods (you'd know him), and William Lundigan (same).  Mean old coot is killed after receiving a black doll.  Soon one of his business partners suffers a similar fate.  It's beginning to look like a dead former partner is back from the grave for revengin' but the truth is closer to home.  Detective hobbyist Woods easily outsmarts idiot Cop Edgar Kennedy.

 
 

MY NAME IS NOBODY (73)
Whimsical take on hero worship has Terrence Hill following around famous gunfighter Henry Fonda who just wants to get out of the game.  Whether Sergio Leone merely influenced the production or guided it, this remains a minor, somewhat enjoyable entry in the late cycle of self-referential spaghetti westerns.

 
 

MARIE-CHANTAL vs DR. KHA (65)
Another light spy spoof by Claude Chabrol.  Marie LaForet is Marie who is given a McGuffin and Akim Tamiroff chases after her and it as the evil Dr. Kha.  Entertaining, ultimately forgettable hokum with some nice photography.

 
 

COMPULSION (59)
Orson Welles blows into town and, thru unorthodox legal methods, gets "life" instead of certain death for cold-blooded, intellectual murderers Bradford Dillman and Dean Stockwell. Based on the Leopold-Loeb case and set in the same time (1924), this widescreen, black & white gem is pretty much forgotten now. Excellent cast and interesting visuals keep this police procedural cum courtroom drama compelling entertainment even if certain themes could not be explored as frankly as they could now.
 
 

MOONFLEET (55)
Fritz Lang's stylish swashbuckler is full of spooky atmosphere and adventurous action. Stewart Grainger as an anti-hero smuggler and George Sanders as a corrupt and decadent official round out the delights.

 
 

THE LIVING WAKE (07)
The skewed and hilarious adventures of our articulate but entirely delusional hero, K. Roth Binew (Mike O'Connell), and his loyal, Boswellian sidekick Mills Joaquin (Jesse Eisenberg) in search of the elusive, brief but powerful monologue ne'er delivered by Binew's absent father.  Director Sol Tryon comes across as a rather unbridled Wes Anderson delivering his oddball tour-de-force.  The supporting cast is surprisingly competent, and the ending, highly satisfactory.  One of the few DVDs whose deleted scenes are worth watching.  Recommended for the decidedly tilted.
 
 

A TOWN CALLED PANIC (09)
Excellent stop motion animation weirdness from Belgium.  Very funny and inventive, this stream-of-conscientiousness tale follows the misadventures of horse, indian, and cowboy through their own little bizarre and utterly charming universe.  Recommended for those with open doors of perception and flexible senses of humor.
 
 

THE DANCE OF DEATH (60)
Felix Martin is officially Simon Templar, the Saint, in this stylish French adaptation of a Leslie Charteris crime thriller.  The Saint is hired by a millionaire whose life is threatened by the gang of a mobster he circumstantially helped the cops kill.  It's much more complicated than that and features not one but three beautiful suspects.  There's plenty of gothic atmosphere including a scene where Templar is trapped inside a tomb in old Paris cemetery, and a grisly murder by car radiator fan.  Martin lacks the suavity of Roger Moore but the film is none the less for it.
 
 

CURSE OF THE VAMPIRE (72, encore)
Third rate Eurotrash (Spanish to be exact) modern vampire picture with bad writing, bad acting, and plenty of tits and ass and gothic atmosphere.  There's something else you want?  Prime Atrocity Night fare.

 
 

TOWER OF TERROR (41)
Brit war time spy flick with horror overtones has a crazy lighthouse keeper with a hook hand terrorizing a refugee he thinks is his dead wife.  Our hero is Michael Rennie after top secret documents in the possession of the madman.  Definitely feels like a horror movie with Nazis.  Not bad.
 
 

THE GLASS SPHINX (67, encore)
Back in rotation is this Euro-adventure with Robert Taylor (on his last legs at 57!) as an archeologist after a hidden tomb.  The enormous wealth he doesn't care about.  Too bad everyone else does!  Lots of fights, shooting, and traitorous acts.  Giacomo Rossi-Stuart and Anita Ekberg join in the action.  Sinister's print is a faded, jumpy mess but this is perfect in the background of a Sunday afternoon.

 
 

THE WHITE RIBBON (09)
Occasionally arch and distasteful, Michael Haneke's fable is nonetheless a work of great beauty and depth.  A small German village lying on the cusp of the first world war, experiences an aberration, a harbinger of the world to come manifested by the murderous (re)actions of its next generation.  The black and white photography skillfully renders this aching, dream-like world as crisp as a frosty morning or filled with a purposeful grain, the better to see you, my dear.
 
 

LABYRINTH (59)
Very arty German/Italian melodrama about rich lush Nadja Tiller who drinks herself into an ultra modern clinic where she meets millionaire Peter van Eyck and has a very strange time.  The hopped up storyline - our heroine suffers from intense sexual guilt and repression - matches perfectly the theatrical artificiality of the production.  Recommended.

 
 

CATACOMBS (64)
Routine Brit psycho-twister has gigolo Gery Merrill killing his rich wife so he can make whoopee with her niece.  But it doesn't end there.  Some good atmosphere helps this along but it bears the unmistakable marks of what director Gordon Hessler would later specialize in: the interesting but deeply flawed thriller.
 
 
 

CRACK IN THE WORLD (65, encore)
50's style sci-fi updated for a 60's Jonny Quest feel.  This disaster flick moves like lightning - it has to in order to outpace the cracks in the plot.  Fated, mad doctor Dana Andrews goofs and pretty much destroys the world in the name of science, while young, smarter Kieron Moore flies around in a helicopter and steals Dana's wife.  Great fun, an overlooked gem.
 
 
 

THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK (41)
Robert Florey's curious crime/horror hybrid is held together by a great central performance.  Peter Lorre works inside an emotionless makeup as an unfortunately-scarred immigrant who takes to crime to survive.  Pathos and stone cold revenge have their equal place in this tragedy.
 
 

BLOOD TEA & RED STRING (06)
Christiane Cegavske's stop motion animation fable is informed with the post-modern sensibilities of the Brothers Quay but she adds a certain bonhomie to the mix.  The "cute" critters are inebriates who fight amongst themselves and seem driven only for self-satisfaction.  The hybrid bird/wolf critters, on the other hand, seem to live at a more enlightened level but still struggle.  A frog shaman, tortoise-drawn carriage, and bird-catching black widow with a human head inhabit the forest.  But at the center is a doll that is eventually torn from limb to limb.  One wonders if it represents the filmmaker over the course of the 13 year production.  Recommended for fans of the form.
 
 

TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER (00)
Highly stylized Thai love story is set in a dream world past the country never had.  Part melodrama, part rip roarin' western, this both embraces and ignores convention, and manages equal parts respect and disdain for the genres it inhabits.  Positives in this high camp production are an arch romanticism, unabashed enthusiasm, and beautiful digital photography.


 

 

THE NAVY VS THE NIGHT MONSTERS (66)
In the mood for a mid-sixties, low budget monster movie?  This will fit the bill.  Good ol' Anthony Eisley leads a lonely Navy station against vicious, people-eating plants!  Good attempts at character and photography make this a watchable slice of hokum.  Now for a decent presentation on DVD...

 

 

IKARIE XB-1 (63)
Very cool Czech sci-fi based on a Stanislaw Lem story has long term community of astronauts encountering ancient, abandoned spacecraft, and fending off mass hypnosis and other socio-political themes.  Great sets and noir-ish photography.  Recommended for those with a taste for this stuff.

 

 

TWO ON A GUILLOTINE (65)
Connie Stevens must spend the night in her magician father's (Caesar Romero) creepy house for a week with semi-annoying reporter Dean Jones in order to collect her inheritance.  Interesting touches by director William Conrad (including a Hitchcock-style cameo) make this fall along the lines of a classier and better-photographed, but not necessarily improved, William Castle-type outing.

 

 

PEKING BLONDE (67)
This Eurospy/crime hybrid has a government agency chasing after a stolen jewel.  A flash of nudity from Mirelle Darc and the natural attraction of the time period (resting uncomfortably between the lean early cycle and the indulgence and ennui of the late spy films) make this watchable if ultimately forgettable.

 

 

100 CRIES OF TERROR (65)
Two tales of ironic horror from Mexico.  In the first, a man and his mistress plot to kill his wife but get a surprise in this enjoyable but overlong segment.  The second is a more cerebral effort about a man mistakenly trapped in a crypt overnight who hears the wails of a newly-entombed woman.  This does wax a bit philosophical but has a good payoff.  Both have good atmosphere and modern sensibilities, including jazz scores.

 

 

THE BLACK COBRA (63)
German crime film has a ripe and ready cast, good photography, and jazzy sounds.  Not quite as surreal as the Edgar Wallace films that were being made at the same time, this nevertheless holds the same post-war period fascination.  And any film that boasts Klaus Kinski and Herbert Fux having a couple of good scenes together deserves to be watched!

 

 

NO SURVIVORS, PLEASE (63)
German social parable has alien invaders killing off important men in international politics and taking over their bodies to start a nuclear war so they can rule the world!  Unexpected, low-key sci-fi feels like it should be one of those British films of the period but for the nihilistic, downbeat ending.  A nice surprise.

 

 

ROMA AGAINST ROME (63)
Fun gothic horror peplum along the lines of Hercules in the Haunted World and The Vampires.  Lots of fire and colorful spookiness (and no comedy relief) as a sorcerer (John Drew Barrymore) plots to take over the world using reanimated soldiers killed in battle.  Sinister's presentation is awfully dark.  This is way overdue for a nice restoration.

 

THE THIRD SECRET (64)
Over-written and overripe murder mystery has kooky Stephen Boyd trying to track down the killer of his psychiatrist.  Everyone he talks to is an over-dramatic crackpot except Pamela Franklin, who's actually good as the doc's daughter.  Some nice widescreen b&w photography.
 

 

THE PHARAOH'S CURSE (57)
Good old fashioned clean-floor horror about a mummy's spirit who takes over an expedition guide.  Horror ensues.  Fun stuff despite the no name cast (Mark Dana, for instance) due to solid atmosphere and hitting the right marks.

 

 

 

DON'T TAKE CANDY FROM A STRANGER (60)
The adults are just as affected by the crazed antics of an old pedophile as the kids are in this serious social drama.  Worth a look for the earnest acting and modern interiors.

 

I SHOT JESSE JAMES (49)
Okay early Sam Fuller picture looks at the post-assassination life of Bob Ford.  John Ireland is good but the shorthand story-telling doesn't do his complex character any favors.  Worth a watch, for sure.


 
 

 

YELLOW SKY (48)
Excellent, early adult-themed western from William Wellman (Ox-Bow Incident).  Great cast and beautiful B&W photography.  A gang of bad guys, led by Gregory Peck, crosses a desert hell after a bank robbery only to emerge in a ghost town that holds their destiny.  Recommended.

 
 

 

THESE ARE THE DAMNED (61)
Sort of interesting sci-fi fable from Jospeh Losey, whose next picture, The Servant, catapulted him to stardom.  The government is breeding radiation-proof kids, a secret discovered by Those Who Must Be Killed.

 
 

 

BIG JAKE (71)
Good John Wayne western has the Duke and sons (Patrick Wayne and Chris Mitchum) delivering ransom money to Richard Boone.  The grand finale shootout takes place at midnight in some Mexican ruins during a lightning storm.  Not bad.
 
 

 

 

 

BLOOD TEA & RED STRING (06)
Christiane Cegavske's stop motion animation fable is informed with the post-modern sensibilities of the Brothers Quay but she adds a certain bonhomie to the mix.  The "cute" critters are inebriates who fight amongst themselves and seem driven only for self-satisfaction.  The hybrid bird/wolf critters, on the other hand, seem to live at a more enlightened level but still struggle.  A frog shaman, tortoise-drawn carriage, and bird-catching black widow with a human head inhabit the forest.  But at the center is a doll that is eventually torn from limb to limb.  One wonders if it represents the filmmaker over the course of the 13 year production.  Recommended for fans of the form.
 
 

TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER (00)
Highly stylized Thai love story is set in a dream world past the country never had.  Part melodrama, part rip roarin' western, this both embraces and ignores convention, and manages equal parts respect and disdain for the genres it inhabits.  Positives in this high camp production are an arch romanticism, unabashed enthusiasm, and beautiful digital photography.


 

 

THE NAVY VS THE NIGHT MONSTERS (66)
In the mood for a mid-sixties, low budget monster movie?  This will fit the bill.  Good ol' Anthony Eisley leads a lonely Navy station against vicious, people-eating plants!  Good attempts at character and photography make this a watchable slice of hokum.  Now for a decent presentation on DVD...

 

 

IKARIE XB-1 (63)
Very cool Czech sci-fi based on a Stanislaw Lem story has long term community of astronauts encountering ancient, abandoned spacecraft, and fending off mass hypnosis and other socio-political themes.  Great sets and noir-ish photography.  Recommended for those with a taste for this stuff.

 

 

TWO ON A GUILLOTINE (65)
Connie Stevens must spend the night in her magician father's (Caesar Romero) creepy house for a week with semi-annoying reporter Dean Jones in order to collect her inheritance.  Interesting touches by director William Conrad (including a Hitchcock-style cameo) make this fall along the lines of a classier and better-photographed, but not necessarily improved, William Castle-type outing.

 

 

PEKING BLONDE (67)
This Eurospy/crime hybrid has a government agency chasing after a stolen jewel.  A flash of nudity from Mirelle Darc and the natural attraction of the time period (resting uncomfortably between the lean early cycle and the indulgence and ennui of the late spy films) make this watchable if ultimately forgettable.

 

 

100 CRIES OF TERROR (65)
Two tales of ironic horror from Mexico.  In the first, a man and his mistress plot to kill his wife but get a surprise in this enjoyable but overlong segment.  The second is a more cerebral effort about a man mistakenly trapped in a crypt overnight who hears the wails of a newly-entombed woman.  This does wax a bit philosophical but has a good payoff.  Both have good atmosphere and modern sensibilities, including jazz scores.

 

 

THE BLACK COBRA (63)
German crime film has a ripe and ready cast, good photography, and jazzy sounds.  Not quite as surreal as the Edgar Wallace films that were being made at the same time, this nevertheless holds the same post-war period fascination.  And any film that boasts Klaus Kinski and Herbert Fux having a couple of good scenes together deserves to be watched!

 

 

NO SURVIVORS, PLEASE (63)
German social parable has alien invaders killing off important men in international politics and taking over their bodies to start a nuclear war so they can rule the world!  Unexpected, low-key sci-fi feels like it should be one of those British films of the period but for the nihilistic, downbeat ending.  A nice surprise.

 

 

ROMA AGAINST ROME (63)
Fun gothic horror peplum along the lines of Hercules in the Haunted World and The Vampires.  Lots of fire and colorful spookiness (and no comedy relief) as a sorcerer (John Drew Barrymore) plots to take over the world using reanimated soldiers killed in battle.  Sinister's presentation is awfully dark.  This is way overdue for a nice restoration.

 

THE THIRD SECRET (64)
Over-written and overripe murder mystery has kooky Stephen Boyd trying to track down the killer of his psychiatrist.  Everyone he talks to is an over-dramatic crackpot except Pamela Franklin, who's actually good as the doc's daughter.  Some nice widescreen b&w photography.
 

 

THE PHARAOH'S CURSE (57)
Good old fashioned clean-floor horror about a mummy's spirit who takes over an expedition guide.  Horror ensues.  Fun stuff despite the no name cast (Mark Dana, for instance) due to solid atmosphere and hitting the right marks.

 

 

 

DON'T TAKE CANDY FROM A STRANGER (60)
The adults are just as affected by the crazed antics of an old pedophile as the kids are in this serious social drama.  Worth a look for the earnest acting and modern interiors.

 

I SHOT JESSE JAMES (49)
Okay early Sam Fuller picture looks at the post-assassination life of Bob Ford.  John Ireland is good but the shorthand story-telling doesn't do his complex character any favors.  Worth a watch, for sure.


 
 

 

YELLOW SKY (48)
Excellent, early adult-themed western from William Wellman (Ox-Bow Incident).  Great cast and beautiful B&W photography.  A gang of bad guys, led by Gregory Peck, crosses a desert hell after a bank robbery only to emerge in a ghost town that holds their destiny.  Recommended.

 
 

 

THESE ARE THE DAMNED (61)
Sort of interesting sci-fi fable from Jospeh Losey, whose next picture, The Servant, catapulted him to stardom.  The government is breeding radiation-proof kids, a secret discovered by Those Who Must Be Killed.

 
 

 

BIG JAKE (71)
Good John Wayne western has the Duke and sons (Patrick Wayne and Chris Mitchum) delivering ransom money to Richard Boone.  The grand finale shootout takes place at midnight in some Mexican ruins during a lightning storm.  Not bad.
 
 

 

 
 

POINT BLANK (67, encore)
Great, great stuff.
 

 

DETECTIVE BUREAU 2-3: GO TO HELL BASTARDS! (63)
Nicely-photographed slice of jazzy, colorful crime.  A bit more silliness than a straight forward thriller but this still has enough going for it that any self-respecting early sixties Japanese crime aficionado could appreciate it.
 

 

THE MISSING PERSON (08)
E for effort for this self-aware neo-noir.  With some weightier acting talent and a more sensitive score this could have exceeded expectations.
 

 

MAN IN A LOOKING GLASS (66)
Two-parter from the ITC series "The Baron" starring Steve Forrest as the Saint-like title character.  This show features the doppelganger gambit; Bernard 'M' Lee, Yvonne Furneaux, and Frank Wolff go after the crown jewels using a phony Baron.  They don't get away with it.  Typical Brit TV of the time, good for an Anglo fix.

 

 

DAY OF THE WOLVES (73)
Low, low rent heist flick has Richard Egan defending his nowhere town against Jan Murray (!) and his gang of losers.  Too bad even for TV at the time.  A document of Lake Havasu City, AZ, i guess.

 

 

HORROR OF DRACULA (58, encore)
Waited nearly 5 years to revisit this all time fave so I just know the Blu-ray will be out any day now.  The DVD looks great tho.  This is one nicely photographed movie with top notch production design and sets so there's always something new to see.
 
 

 

$9.99 (08)
Magic realism is the order of the day in this dark, imaginative, and ultimately satisfying slice of Aussie stop motion animation concerning the denizens of a block of flats.  Recommended for jaded fans of the form.
 

 

THE INHERITANCE (47)
A fun gothic mystery that gets darker, literally and figuratively, as it goes along.  Great photography of spooky castle sets.  The weird thing is that I looked up Jean Simmons after the movie and she died just the day before at 80.
 

 

THE LAST WAGON (56)
Richard Widmark goes revengin', fightin' off indians and knuckleheads the whole time in this brutal, big studio western.  Nice Techniscope.
 

 

THE HEADLESS WOMAN (08)
Sly and subtle Argentinean film about a woman that hits a dog (?) with her car and then somehow goes out of phase with the world around her. Themes of infidelity, class distinction, and sexual disorientation are masterfully woven by director Lucretia Martel who uses visual and aural queues to displace our heroine.  Nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes, this film reminded me of early Atom Egoyan. 
 

 

MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES (07)
Excellent introduction to the work of Ed Burtynsky who spent 10 years photographing the landscapes we have created through industrialization, recycling and reclamation, and incredible feats of construction.  Beautiful/horrible images of e-waste in China, coal mines, the dismantling (by hand) of huge oil tankers off the coast of Bangladesh, building the Yangtze river dam, etc.  Recommended. 
 

 

THE MERRY GENTLEMAN (08)
i liked this little hit man movie.  Michael Keaton, who directed, plays the remorseful killer but this is really Kelly MacDonald's (No Country For Old Men) movie as the girl who brings some light on the subject.  This doesn't really have an ending but there's nice photography and good performances.
 

 

THE SHOOTIST (76)
Elegiac western is made more potent by the iconic movie star status of Wayne and the fact that he died within a couple years of filming.  Fun supporting cast too.  The DVD could use a respectful reissue. 
 

 

 

THE LIMITS OF CONTROL (09)
A hitman travels through Spain from one cryptic contact to another to some unknown end. Jim Jarmusch isn't concerned about telling a story here - it's all about the spare and beautiful ride.
 

 

WHATEVER WORKS (09)
This routine Woody Allen picture was a bit annoying at first with all the monologue but as new characters showed up (especially Patricia Clarkson) it kind of grew on me.
 

 

THIRST (09)
Chan-wook Park's vampire movie seems long and familiar but does have its moments and a few violent killings. Thirst ain't no Oldboy though.