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Genius at Work

Mildly entertaining
This script seems like it was written for Abbott and Costello, but turned down. We have a low-rent comedy team here pretending to know something about a murderer. We also have menacing performances by Atwill and Lugosi. Finally, we have Anne Jeffrys as the lovely lady. It is funny in parts, but never really menacing. If you're not expecting much, it might be a pleasant surprise. If you do expect a decent film, well, you might very well be disappointed. It's a harmless enough way to spend an hour or so, especially if you're a Lugosi fan. I'm not sure it's for everybody, though. It isn't dull, but it isn't exactly entertaining, either.

National Treasure

Nicholas Cage has gone back to making lousy movies, apparently
This has to be one of the most pathetic attempts to cash in on a trend in recent cinema. (DaVinci code) This movie has nothing going for it. The characters are one-dimensional. The story moves along as people go from helper to adversary and back randomly whenever the plot needs them to in order to further itself. We have no idea why any of the characters other than Cage's do what they do. And Cage himself, well, it looks like he's forgotten how to make a decent film and make a character believable. I'm sure he got paid lots for appearing in this over-hyped money-grab. Let's hope he used it to buy something nice. This is profit-driven movie-making taken to it's worst possible outcome. It seems to be of little wonder that the box-office has had disappointing results lately. With films like this to chose from, look for the number of moviegoers to drop even further.

Invasion of the Bee Girls

A good idea that doesn't reach its potential
"Invasion of the Bee Girls" is just the kind of campy 70s fun you might be looking for on a lonely afternoon. Unfortunately, this movie doesn't give you what you want, exactly. It has moments of silliness, moments of nudity and overall bad acting, like you'd expect. However, something is missing. It just never rises to the level of worthy-of-cult-status you might expect from reading a summary of the plot. Somewhere along the line, this film fails to deliver on its potential to entertain you in a memorable fashion. People who like this type of movie will undoubtedly have other films they prefer, that offer better cheese value and all the entertainment you can get from a B Movie. This one misses that mark.

Mr. Sardonicus

Minor classic from William Castle
This film, for me, marks the beginning of the decline for the great director/promoter William Castle. It is still among his better works overall. After this movie, however, his output becomes less and less interesting, in my opinion. He was the producer for "Rosemary's Baby" but I'm speaking specifically about his work as a director.

The film itself deals with a disfigured man who attempted to retrieve something (a lottery ticket) from a grave. The definition of a "ghoul" is given at the beginning and throughout the film as "one who opens graves and feeds on corpses." It features the typical young couple in distress and the evil henchman, played here by Oskar Homolka, who also appeared notably in the early Hitchcock film "Sabotage" with Sylvia Sidney. All Castle films have a sideshow sort of gimmick to hook the audience into paying attention. In this one, it is a "choice" of endings. I won't spoil the end by discussing the choice or the outcome, but it is obviously a promotional attempt by Castle and not the most inventive. He did much better with the shock effects in "The Tingler" and the glasses in the original "13 Ghosts." Those were truly classic examples of Castle's showmanship and use of gimmickry. Here, the ruse doesn't work quite as well.

Subsequent Castle films, which used the ultimate modern-day gimmick of putting a star in the movie, weren't as effective. Interestingly, today's films seem to be promoted entirely based on who is involved in the film, as actor, director, etc. So in that sense Castle would continue to point us toward the future of filmmaking. Perhaps with the advent of interactive moviemaking, this film will one day also be considered waay ahead of it's time. For now, however, it remains a good but not great entry from a most memorable director and promoter.

The Giant Gila Monster

I actually expected worse
This film is not trying to compete for any Academy Awards, and I think most of the reviews of this film should keep that in mind. 50s Horror/Sci-Fi movies are intended to be just what they are and no one should get too surprised that they don't resemble high art. The best films in this genre are "Them!" and possibly "Tarantula" and those are not much better. The only difference being a bit better special effects that aren't shown as often. This movie should've learned from the Val Lewton school of low-budget filmmaking that implied danger is much more frightening than actually showing the creature. That is the problem with this movie, they keep showing the Gila Monster over and over again and, quite frankly, it isn't anywhere near being scary. The best thing this movie has going for it are the performances of veteran actors Shug Fisher and Fred Graham, who make most of their scenes watchable. Yes, the singing is VERY annoying and many of the shots could've used more light. But, hey, what were you expecting? I was aniticipating something even worse than this. It is only marginally worse than some of the "best" films of the genre and considerably better than the work of Ed Wood, Jerry Warren, Fred Olen Ray or many other "Directors" of this sort of low-budget cheese.

The Dungeon of Harrow

A good idea that goes nowhere
The basic idea behind "Dungeon of Harrow" isn't all bad. The acting, however, is bad. The lighting is bad. The music is bad. The scenes of torture are without emotion. There really isn't much there to recommend this film. You know what kind of a movie you're in for when the credits say "Special Guest Star" and list someone you've never heard of. Might as well say "Rex Hamilton as Abraham Lincoln." because there's really no one in this movie you can identify. There are one or two decent moments, mostly toward the end and I think the basic plot outline may have contained an original idea, but that alone is not enough to keep you awake through this otherwise inept yawner.

Cutting Class

Where have you gone Jill Schoelen?
This insane piece of garbage is only watchable for one person- and it's not Brad Pitt! Jill Schoelen is the only good thing in a movie where every other character SHOULD get killed. Heck, I was hoping they'd kill off a few more of these morons, it would've made the story a little more worthwhile. There's nothing here, really. This movie is just an exercise in stupidity. Martin Mull's character shot with a bow and arrow in the beginning and comes back at the end of the film? Are you kidding me? Brad Pitt's basketball scenes are laughable and most of the acting, from people like Pitt and Roddy McDowell, is without any semblance of ability. And those people had ability, it just doesn't show in this piece of crap. Finally, an explanation for why this movie is so bad can be found on the IMDb link for the director who apparently had a lot to do with The Exorcist II: the heretic, which was one of the worst films of all time. Don't expect much better from "Cutting Class."

The Severed Arm

Obviously a "B" movie
This movie is quite obviously a low-budget film. It does, however, manage to be watchable in spite of its lowly budget. There are some scenes that are reasonably well done and the overall film wasn't AS bad as I expected. Having said that, this is no masterpiece. It certainly deserves a place in the annals of bad movie-making. Don't anyone think for a moment that this is somehow anything other than a cheap, cheesy suspense/horror. It is better than some, however. And it could have been worse. I gave it a "3" out of "10."

The Undertaker and His Pals

One of the lamest of them all
This movie is just plain awful. They may be trying for laughs, but there's nothing funny about this movie. It combines the very worst of 60s teen movies with graphic murder sequences that are amateurish at best. Then they top it off by trying to be funny. There's a silent montage near the end where the girl is racing up the stairs in fast motion and the undertaker is pursuing her in slow motion and every time we see a wide shot he's getting closer to her. It's like a really bad homage to Pepe LePew. And yes, this whole movie is what stinks. Stay away from this movie unless you enjoy wasting an hour of your life.

Rat Race

Attempts at Humor are Ubiquitous; actual Humor is Scarce
Once again we see an example of the old adage that you cannot remake "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." Several films have gone down this path before including "Scavenger Hunt" and "Midnight Madness" and now "Rat Race." Each of these proves that your best bet is to rent the original and not waste time with insipid remakes. This movie tries really, really hard to wring laughter out of some situations which are so overwritten and staged that Suspension of Disbelief becomes impossible. The talents of several good actors are wasted attempting to wring laughs from a formula we've seen before. Evidently Hollywood decided it had been long enough since we'd seen it before and decided to reintroduce this formula figuring there were enough people out there with no sense of having seen this before. Well, not everyone is fooled and I, for one, would like to see a few more original ideas and a little less of this type of paint by numbers movie-making.

Minority Report

Disappointing and Detached
Here is a film that never draws the audience in. It stays detached from the outset. You never lose sight of the fact that you're watching a movie. I was not drawn into the film at all. The answers to plot points about Tom Cruise's son and who is trying to set him up were obvious to me very early on and left little to do but see how much annoying CGI they could cram into to the movie. One of the few bright spots for me personally was seeing Jessica Harper used effectively in a movie, something which hasn't happened in a long while. There were some inventive aspects to this movie, but they weren't anything that hasn't been seen in futuristic movies before and they seemed to detract from the audiences ability to achieve a suspension of disbelief. Overall, I was disappointed and ready for this movie to finally end.

The Vulture

Why did they even make this movie?
One night several years ago I programmed my VCR to tape "Rodan" in the middle of the night and the thing didn't shut off. This movie was on afterwards, so I accidentally had it on tape, too. There is nothing about this movie to recommend it. Akim Tamiroff was a good character actor in a number of good films. This is not one of them. I used to have the dialogue from this movie on my answering machine, because it was so goofy. Someone called one day and thought it was from "Plan 9 from Outer Space" so that should give you some idea of the caliber of film we are talking about here. The acting is bad, the music is bad, the special effects are, well, not very special. Unless your VCR accidentally tapes this movie or you are a hopeless insomniac, should you find that this movie is on late one night... go to bed. You'll be much happier in the morning.


My least favorite Hitchcock movie
I still have no idea why people like this movie so much. The acting is poor, particularly that of Olivier. He comes across as overacting terribly. Miss Fontaine fares better. She, at least, gives us a decent performance. Anderson is completely not to be believed. The music is so overdone it makes you wonder what they were thinking by putting it in there so much. This movie is just waiting to be parodied (as it has been). And then there's the ending when this turns into a movie in search of an editor. Every time you think it might be over it goes on for ten more minutes. Then, is it over? No, it just rambles on and on until you want to strangle whoever is playing that awful music. It should be noted that this movie has more of Selznick in it than Hitchcock. After making this film Hitch began to try and get every other studio in Hollywood to hire him out so he wouldn't have to work with Selznick again. He even makes fun of Selznick with smug jokes in later movies. I can see why. If somebody took my movie and put in that music and let it ramble on forever I'd be mad at them, too. There is a good idea for a film in here somewhere, but this isn't it. I hope all the people who voted this the best picture of 1940 were given a nice padded cell. I was planning to write more, but just thinking about this movie is making me cringe, so I'll just stop. If you like good movies, see many other Hitchcock classics, but leave this one on the shelf.

The Love Bug

It's Silly, but Fun
OK, this movie isn't high art. It's a silly comedy for kids or families. But if that's what you're looking for then this is a good one. Some of the performances are goofy, some of the images are goofy, but hey, there's nothing wrong with enjoying this movie. Just don't take it too seriously (because you can't) and let yourself be a kid for a while.

The Body Snatcher

A Classic of the Horror Genre
This film is very high on a list of personal favorites of mine. I must confess to being a fan of both Val Lewton and Boris Karloff. The low-key suspense of Lewton is just fantastic. Karloff demonstrates his true acting ability and screen presence in this film. Seeing this film makes me only wish there were more like it. Also, it is interesting to see just how far the career of Bela Lugosi had fallen by the mid-40s with his small part in this film. What really makes this movie, though, is the performance of Karloff as the cab driver who is both nice to the handicapped girl and a sinister bother to the doctor. I would strongly recommend this to any horror fan.

Remember the Titans

A Very, Very Good Movie
While this is not the best film I've seen, it's very, very good. It has a good story, good acting and a wonderful soundtrack. Denzel Washington does his usual excellent job and several of the younger actors give great performances, as well. This kind of movie reminds you how enjoyable a movie can be when it's done right.

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