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Rain Man

An entertaining, attention grabbing drama.
This is a very entertaining drama featuring spoiled yuppie Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise), whose father left his fortune to his autistic brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman). Charlie did not know of Raymond's existence, and at first repulsed by him and him inheriting their father's fortune, he establishes a growing, loving relationship with him during their cross-country journey together.

It was fun and touching seeing Charlie's impatient and condescending attitude improve to mellow and understanding along the way, and all the misadventures he and his brother shared. The spot-on acting and the chemistry between the two character leads make for a good film worthy of its best picture win.

Grade A

The Amityville Curse

Just plain awful!
I usually reserve the month of October for scary or horror movies to celebrate Halloween, and I thought this movie might serve as a nice attention-grabbing creepy thriller. Under than a few mildly moments that jump at you, this movie is basically an all-talk flick with no suspense, a weak plot, bad dialog, and horrible acting.

From IMDB's summary, five people spend the night in an abandoned house dubbed the Amityville house, but it has nothing to do with the infamous Amityville horror house or story. The people find themselves terrorized by ghosts (which hardly shows up in the film), venomous insects (which is just one single spider that crept up on a couple of people), and apparitions (which hardly shows up).

The Debbie character played by Dawna Wightman can't act to save her life. She over-exerts herself during distress or emotional scenes. The Marvin character played by David Stein tries to act professional or dramatic, but fails miserably. And, the Abigail character played by Cassandra Gava tries to be the sexy one, and tries to be the one with reason, but the acting just isn't up to par.

Go ahead and pass on this one for a Halloween scare.

Grade D---

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Another heart-pounding mission!
This is another heart-pounding mission starring Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, who must stop the Syndicate, now known as the Apostles, from acquiring and use the three plutonium cores.

It's filled with non-stop action from beginning to end with superb special effects, a captivating plot, and various doses of comic relief. What adds suspense and unpredictability to the story is when Ethan and his team are put to the test as they fail to initially stop the Apostles from getting the plutonium, leaving the credibility of their team in doubt. Throw in a CIA agent into the mix, the plot's intrigue gets exciting at every turn. A great action film to pass the time!

Grade B+

The Little Drummer Boy

A bittersweet little Christmas tale.
This is a bittersweet little Christmas tale, about a drummer boy named Aaron, who loathes mankind because of a family tragedy. However, Aaron learns the goodness of humanity and the birth of Christ when he is asked to play the drum for him in lieu of a gift in order to save a friend.

Filmed in Claymation with a great voice cast, this less-than-30 min movie captures your heart with its exciting plot and message of love vs. hate, brought by the power of Christ. And, the story is a good lead-in to the famous Christmas carol of the same name. A must-see during the Christmas season!

Grade A

The World Beyond

A thrilling little TV horror movie.
With about an hour's worth of movie time, this TV horror does give you some chills and thrills, with the mud creature menacing a small group of people on a remote Maine Island after they were called there to look for a missing person. The creature's cries and shrieks are scary enough to frighten a whole town and its hideous appearance might give you nightmares.

It's a fast-paced movie from start to finish - just one main plot to follow and no room for filler subplots. The acting was good and the atmosphere was chilly. Though the suspense and thrills might be a little tame nowadays, it's still an entertaining movie.

Grade B

The Brave Engineer

The Misadventures of Casey Jones.
Didn't know Casey Jones had so much misadventures as described in this action-packed cartoon, from rescuing a damsel in distress to fending off thieves. All with backup singers joining in the fun.

Colorful animation and plenty of slapstick stuff, but lacking humor and fun overall.

Grade C

The China Lake Murders

Not a bad little police thriller.
This is not a bad little police thriller - some intrigue as our small time sheriff try to solve a string or murders that he suspects attributes to a rogue city cop that takes his vacation in the town.

The plot does tend to sway away from the main crime story occasionally with the subplots, but the movie still holds up pretty well with the decent acting, pacing, and scene setting of the desert and town.

Not too many unpredictable or surprising moments, but the movie does keep you amused and sympathetic to the protagonists.

Grade B-

How to Fish

More narrated "How To's"
More narrated "How To" cartoons featuring Goody, this time of him fishing. But, as with anything he tries, his unorthodox fishing techniques doesn't quite yield him much results, resulting in some laughable but predictable moments. Nothing too new or unique here. An average cartoon.

Grade C+

The Strange Possession of Mrs. Oliver

Not really a horror movie - more like a mystery.
This movie starts off quite slow and stays that way for the first half of the movie. But then, it finally kicks into some suspense and mystery, where the female lead tries to find out why she suddenly starts to dress up and takes up the personality of a deceased woman.

The acting was subpar, with much of the characters showing no emotion whatsoever. But, at just over an hour's worth, it's not that bad of a movie to pass the time with. IMDb lists this as a "horror" genre movie, but I wouldn't label it as a horror - more like a "mystery."

Grade C+

Hell's Bells

Only Disney could make this story-intriguing.
Only Disney could create a cartoon sequence depicting Hell to look story-intriguing, with its catchy music, interesting characters, and whimsical plot. Here, the demons play music for Satan, but one becomes insubordinate and, as a result, literally all hell breaks loose.

There's some laughable moments, especially the title that somehow just rings well with the cartoon. And, as with older Disney cartoons, the animators and storytellers don't shy away from political incorrectness, over-protection, and over sensitivity. Overall, not a bad cartoon.

Grade B

Gertie the Dinosaur

Probably the first cartoon featuring a dinosaur.
Probably the first cartoon featuring a dinosaur - a hand-drawn depiction of Gertie, a brontosaur brought to life by animation .

A harmless and adorable dinosaur, perfect to introduce kids to the world of dinosaurs.

Grade A

Ryusei Ningen Zon

Cheesy, heroic, delightful!
This is a superhero TV-series produced by Toho Studios, which is responsible for making the Godzilla films.

It tells about the Zone family, which battles the Garoga Army to save Earth - after their own planet was destroyed. The superheros battle a horde of strange and wacky looking monsters. Godzilla villains King Ghidorah and Gigan, who make guest appearances, look normal by comparison.

It's a perfect TV series for children who look up to superheros and for cheesy entertainment value. But, it's one of those heroic films reminiscence of the very childish Gamera movies, but in a more delightful way. Godzilla makes guest appearances in this series as well, furthering his defender-of-the-Earth status among the people of Japan.

Fun times here, and it's part of the Godzilla Showa Series canon.

Grade B

She Cried Murder

A to-the-point TV thriller.
With just over an hour's worth of movie time, this is a to-the-point thriller where a commercial actress witnesses a murder committed by a rogue cop. What results is a cat-and-mouse chase with some suspenseful police detective work mixed in. Not bad TV movie overall, with some entertaining moments. The acting was fine for the most part.

Grade B

The Flying Mouse

Be grateful for what has been given to you.
This is a great Silly Symphony with a good moral to it - always be grateful what God has given you and to be yourself. This story tells of a little mouse who wants to fly, and he later finally gets his wish. However, the mouse finds out that flying is not all what it is cut out to be.

Filled with some action, adventures, and suspense, it's an appealing little cartoon from beginning to end.

Grade A

Mind Over Murder

Mind numbing story.
This TV thriller had the potential to be great, with the premonition of a woman seeing criminal events before they happen an appealing plot line. But, the suspense is lost in the sloppy subplot of the love triangle involving the woman, her boyfriend, and the government agent who is trying to help her in her case.

The plot does move at a steady pace and you do get some thrills here and there, with a very eerie and mind-numbing atmosphere. But, the very subpar acting is quite a turn off, including the very annoying and punk-sounding Bruce Davison's character. There seems to be no communication skills between him and Suzy, the female lead.

The premonition plot device is clever, but the focus on that fades away throughout the second half of the movie, which then turns into any normal damsel-in-distress story. Below average, overall.

Grade D+

The Dead Don't Die

Quite a creepy TV movie.
This is quite a creepy TV movie, a horror story where a naval officer tries to prove the innocence of his brother, which brings him into a diabolical world.

The plot is fast-paced and full of suspense from beginning to end. The acting was well done and to-the-point, none of those unnecessary fluff and sappy stuff. The horror level may be tamed by today's standards, but definitely does give you some intriguing and entertaining moments.

Grade B+

King Neptune

One of the more action-packed Silly Symphonies.
A action-packed little Silly Symphony, where King Neptune (a Poseidon-sort of sea creature) and his army of marine life attempt to save a group of mermaids from pirates.

Reminisced of the movie The Little Mermaid, this cartoon short is somewhat on the exciting side, with plenty of slapstick stuff, rescue-the-damsels-in-distress efforts, and good guys vs. bad guys action. It's fun seeing the many unique attacks of the sea creatures.

Overall, one of the more exciting and action-packed Silly Symphonies.

Grade B

The Pied Piper

A more whimsical cartoon from Disney.
A Silly Symphony where a piper saves a town from rat infestation. However, he gets mad and takes revenge when the King refuses to pay him.

Lots of singing and sappy songs, with weird-acting characters and over-imaginative scenes. Definitely one of the more whimsical cartoons from Disney.

Grade C+

Are You in the House Alone?

Misleading title and a slow story.
A typical TV thriller where a teenage girl named Gail is harassed by a stalker with threatening notes and phone calls. This main plot point is distracted with the sappy subplot of Gail's dating life with her boyfriend, Steve. Her complicated relationship with her parents (played by Blythe Danner and Tony Bill) is more interesting and I especially liked the performance of Blythe Danner in the mother role (including the part where she says she does not want her daughter to settle down at an early age, but to find herself first).

The plot's pacing, though, is very slow and takes a long time to gain any suspenseful traction. When it does, the thrills don't usually last long. And, the title is misleading. Acting was subpar - OK to pass on this one.

Grade D

Mickey's Nightmare

A nightmare indeed!
Mickey dreams that he gets married to Minnie, and then subsequently have 20 children together. Seems like a dream come true, with the perfect family in the perfect house, until the little rascals start trashing the place.

Not much plot to follow or laugh about here - just the kids throwing stuff around, misbehaving, driving Pluto crazy, and painting the house or all sorts of colors.

Mickey saying his prayers with Pluto before bed was a nice and sincere touch, though.

Grade C-

A Howling in the Woods

Quite a suspenseful ride.
Barbara Eden starts as Liza Crocker, who vacations in the woods to find her father and to get away from her husband, Eddie (Larry Hagman). But, she feels that much of the townspeople are quite hostile to her and wonders if there is a mystery or secret in the mists.

This is a pretty neat thriller that is quite intriguing once the secrets of the town start to take effect. The movie does start off quite slow, but once the plot thickens, it's quite a suspenseful ride.

Grade B

The Tower

Movie is proof that machines can't run the world.
This TV movie is proof that machines can't and shouldn't run the world. Here, an employee named Tony goes to his first day of work at a corporate high-rise, whose security system is run by a main computer with a mind of its own. When it fails to identify Tony as the new employee, and after several security breaches, it deems Tony as a security risk and attempts to terminate him.

A bit of an interesting plot with some thrilling moments in and there. But, the plot doesn't really hold its own as there is really no suspense built-up or character development. Paul Reiser appeared to be miscast in this movie, showing no real drama or emotion; he acted like everything was a joke around him. The female characters were OK and were humorous at times. The romantic subplot between the two character leads didn't mix in well with the main story, though.

Basically, this film appears to be a somewhat well-budgeted flick, but put together with haste.

Grade C-

Nightmare on the 13th Floor

An appealing thriller about the unseen and eerie 13th floor.
This is an intriguing TV thriller featuring a reporter who investigates mysterious events at a hotel after witnessing a murder in a secret 13th floor.

There is a built-up suspense from start to finish and the plot is well-paced, enough to keep the audience engaged and entertained. The acting was pretty good - I especially liked the sarcastic and devious performance of Louise Fletcher.

The eerie feel of the unseen and unmarked 13th floor gives off an exciting and thrilling feel, making you wonder what the place really holds. Just wished there could have been a slower suspense built-up when the floor was revealed.

Overall, an appealing little thriller.

Grade A-

The Babysitter

Slow in delivery, with below average acting.
This is a TV thriller where Liz Benedict (Patty Duke) hires 18 year-old Joanna Redwine (Stephanie Zimbalist) as her housekeeper and be a live-in companion to her daughter, Tara (Quinn Cummings). But, Joanna gradually manipulates everyone and attempts to break up the family.

The plot has some suspenseful moments, including the parts where a doctor tries to dig up dirt on Joanna's past, but much of the movie is mired by bad acting, slow pacing, and lack of attention grabbing scenes.

Patty Duke's character was extremely hopeless and annoying and William Shatner seemed disinterested in his role throughout the entire movie. Stephanie Zimbalist looks dazed throughout the story, while the most serviceable acting goes to Quinn Cummings.

There's really nothing thrilling about this TV flick. OK to pass on it.

Grade D

El terrible toreador

Nice Disney take to Bizet's Carmen.
This is a nice Disney take to Bizet's Carmen opera. Funny song and dance characters and catchy tunes. Not terribly entertaining, but somewhat of the more unique Silly Symphonies.

Grade B-

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