catfish-er

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Reviews

Chained for Life
(1952)

Every Freaking Act?
Okay, we get it, they were Vaudevillian performers. But, do we have to see every freaking act? The trial, the flashbacks, the dream sequences all drag on ponderously. But the worst are all the variety acts; just too long and too many!

Night School
(1981)

3 Stars for 3 endings
My goodness, when will this film end? Three times it could have been over. The first ending would have been just fine; the second just put a bow on it; but, the third was simply pedantic and unnecessary. Did the director think a little comic relief was necessary? Or, did it test better with audiences?

Houdini's Last Secrets
(2019)

I Give Up
After watching 2 episodes, learning nothing, listening to wild speculation and little fact, I give up. The hosts and "experts" spend as much time trying to figure out whether Houdini performed a gags as they do recreating it. However, they share no secrets, leaving viewers unsatisfied. The secrets, if there are any, are safe with this show.

A Christmas Carol
(1938)

Fiddle de de and Falderall
The digressions are innumerable and pointless, adding nothing to the story. The score is heavy handed and manipulative, even cartoonish in spots. This is an annoying, unwatchable version of A Christmas Carol, one star is being generous. Cutting short the Ghost of Christmas Past so Fred and his fiancé can slide on the ice during the visit from the Ghost of Christmas Present's visit is almost criminal. We don't get to see Scrooge's moral decline between school, Fezziwig's and his days at the counting house, Scrooge and Marley's... no broken engagement, etc. There are so many crucial story points sacrificed for what can only be considered "Fiddle de de and Falderall" it is ludicrous.

The Flying Dutchman
(2001)

Rated "B" for boring
Wow, where to begin... this movie is extraordinarily boring.

The plot is uninspired, nonsensical and never resolves itself in any plausible manner. Add to that a small, inter-related (or perhaps incestuous) cast of characters, a sound mix that underplays dialog; yet overplays the numerous "jump scares;" and, simplistic, cliché settings; and you get FROZEN IN FEAR or THE FLYING DUTCHMAN.

I bought this DVD at Wal*mart as part of a 6-movie pack, for $5.00. If this movie is any indication, I way over-paid.

I wish I could say more; but, I don't want to run the risk of spoiling this movie for you.

Open Graves
(2009)

Today is the first day, for the rest of your life...
No surprises here. OPEN GRAVES is simply another take on the classic tale of the monkey's paw, with a slight twist. The winner is granted their heart's desire. The losers... well, they get something else. Some, supposedly deserved; but, that's not really clear in viewing.

The movie included bad practical effects. And, even worse special effects, which made this movie insufferable. Seeing it on SyFy, which not only edits for content; but, over-edits, just adds insult to injury.

Throw into the mix a plot twist concerning a renegade cop. And, then add to that an oh-so predictable ending. And, you end up with OPEN GRAVES.

There are so many plot holes in this film that they aren't even worth mentioning. Definitely not worth your time.

Fertile Ground
(2011)

Sorry to disagree; but, I very much enjoyed this film
I rated FERTILE GROUND as high as I did purely on the outstanding performance of Leisha Hailey. She was genuine, gritty, elicited sympathy, reacted honestly, and just did an outstanding job.

Was the plot derivative? YES it was. But, how many horror movies are truly based on new ideas? Aren't they all derived from our own fears and experiences?

FERTILE GROUND was just another episodic adventure into the nightmare world of one woman.

It's been a long time since I've seen such a good performance; and, I really think Leisha Hailey carried the film. Her makeup, hair and wardrobe were perfect for a "relocated city girl." And, the setting was perfect - old house, lovingly updated; but, not too much so.

The maple tree was allegory for the deteriorating relationship between the two; and, the nightmare scenes blended reality, ghost, and dream just right. Nothing was over the top; not too many effects.

All around, I enjoyed this quite a bit. Better than most I see on the SyFy channel, that's for sure!

Prisoner
(2007)

Taught psychological-thriller
To call PRISONER a horror movie is a bit of a stretch; but, without giving away any of the plot points, the movie is horrifying. I would classify PRISONER as more of a psychological-thriller, due to the taught interplay between the two main characters.

I really like character-drive plots; and, the PRISONER did not disappoint. And, while some of the flash-backs are repetitive, they do help us get to know our protagonist better than we would in a conventional telling of the tale.

The cinematography is dark and depressing; the set dressing is impressive. I thought the acting was solid; and, the music propelled the story forward without being too jarring.

If you are a fan of zombies, vampires, special effects, and gore, don't watch PRISONER. This movie is much more for slow consideration.

Orlacs Hände
(1924)

Slow, plodding, confusing; but, way ahead of its time...
I watched THE HANDS OF ORLAC on TMC, when they featured at least three, maybe four movies dealing with the subject of hands. The first was HANDS OF A STRANGER, which is based on this silent film. However, when I recorded THE HANDS OF ORLAC, I hadn't realized that is was a silent film.

I find them to be very slow and plodding, which this film was. However, it was also very confusing.

There was one character, introduced early in the film, interacting with the maid; but, we didn't know who he was; and, I won't spoil it for anyone. But, the dialog just didn't make sense in the context of the film.

The cinematography, especially during the scene with the train was very impressive; but, after that the lighting was inconsistent and very dark.

The plot was fairly linear; but, there were a number of jump cuts that seemed jolting. The idea of transplanting human body parts seems very much ahead of its time, just as The Modern Promethius was ahead of its time. It was a good watch; but, it was a long two hours.

Single White Female 2: The Psycho
(2005)

Better than the first?
SINGLE WHITE FEMALE 2: THE PSYCHO is definitely cast out of the same mold as the original. The first movie was very well done, well acted, well directed, and a great plot.

While the plot for the second is similar, I really liked the way everything was neatly tied up at the end. I have a hard time deciding whether the first or second is better.

The first movie was very original; but, I liked the back-story and story line of the second better. I also liked the acting in the second better; albeit it is hard to top Bridget Fonda. I think the sequel had more suspense; and, the soundtrack really propelled things along well.

I am really a fan of old, b-grade horror, so seeing a low-budget, modern sequel that is driven by story and character, without relying on computer-generated effects is really more to my liking!

Staunton Hill
(2009)

In the beginning there was nothing, it goes downhill from there
As you have already read, this movie progresses at a snails pace. The first 48 minutes, nothing happens. Hitchhikers going to a rally. They get a ride. They stop for the night. They wake up. Eat breakfast.. yawn...

Sure, the family is creepy; but, isn't that the biggest movie cliché there is? The filmmakers managed to pull out every trick that had already been done in other movies (most notably Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise) without adding in any elements of suspense, horror, or empathy.

What little story there is is revealed in flash-backs that are so disjointed from the actual action that you just tent to zone out and ignore them. One, I thought was actually a commercial break; but, there weren't any commercials during this viewing.

Yes, that's how bad this is. And, I've seen movies like THE PINK ANGELS. Don't waste your time, no one knows how to make a horror movie anymore, unless it's slathered with special effects gore.

Walled In
(2009)

Timeline just doesn't make sense
This movie showed a lot of potential, with a compelling premise. It features an imposing edifice, which is beautiful, simple, stark, magnificent, puzzling, and foreboding. And, what turns out to be a mad genius architect. What could go wrong?

From a time perspective, nothing meshes.

The mother was pregnant when the murders were committed. Then, we learn that the murderer has been imprisoned for 11 years, when the police arrived. However, the boy, is now a teenager.

He has the dog (his best friend)of one of the victims. How old is that dog? Not only that; but, this victim's family's apartment is undisturbed all this time? It just didn't make sense.

Add to that the rush to resolve everything; and, the ending just collapses on itself. Unlike the building.

The Uninvited
(2008)

Psychological Thriller
The most interesting part of this movie is the phobia. And, its manifestations. Shot up-close and hand-held, when she relapses, the film develops a very claustrophobic perspective. It puts us into the mind of our heroine.

The documentary at the beginning gives us an instant bond with the main character, who we now know married the filmmaker. Fallen on hard times, he's now working on a new project that's going to change their lives forever.

LITERALLY!

Yes, IFC had the wrong description. Yes, the other movie THE UNINVITED is better. But, what a refreshing take on horror, to be inside the mind of someone literally living in fear.

The House of the Dead
(1978)

"A" for effort
Throughout the mid 60s and early 70s Amicus Productions churned out a series of wonderful little horror anthologies. TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972) is my all-time favorite horror anthology!

Watching THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD, definitely took me back to my "horror roots." It is included in the 50 Movie Pack, Chilling Classics, DVD collection.

I enjoyed all of the stories, although none of the plots were very compelling. I enjoyed the acting, even though none of the performances really stood out; and, some were quite over-the-top. I even enjoyed the locations and settings. The score was fine, if forgettable, except for the one annoying song in the last story.

Amicus really defined the horror anthology form for me. But, this was a good effort by an American production company and director. It was a lot of fun to watch while traveling. As such, I gave it a very high rating, even more than it deserved.

"A" for effort, on this one.

The World Gone Mad
(1933)

As appropriate today as it was then
The greed and corruption of the 2000's Wall Street could just as easily have been the subject for THE WORLD GONE MAD. To update it, you only need Bernie Madoff sitting on top of the Ponzi scheme, instead of our two antagonists.

Both of whom, by the way, could make excellent stand-ins for the Duke brothers in TRADING PLACES.

The acting was first rate, with solid performances all around, albeit with no "big name" stars -- at least none of whom I recognized.

I found the plot compelling, first from a historical perspective (the Wall Street Crash of 1929). But, also from a contemporary perspective (the Great Recession of 2007).

An interesting side note is the marquee in front of the movie theater, which featured THE VAMPIRE BAT, by the same production company. Great art deco scenes; and, good cinematography in both!

Horror
(1963)

A dead-ringer, no way!
I am working my way through the Chilling Classics 50 Movie Pack Collection and THE BLANCHEVILLE MONSTER is the fourth movie on disk 7. Slogging through 50 movies is sometimes more work than it is fun; but, overall I like the collection.

After watching some fair-to-mediocre 70s horror on the disk (from PANIC, which I rated 3 stars) to MESSIAH OF EVIL, which I rated 7 stars), this movie, which was released in the early 1960s was quite a jarring change of pace.

The opening sequence, with its foreboding castle, neatly framed by brush in the foreground so struck me as Coman-esquire that I had to go back to see who the director was. Not Roger Corman; but, this movie really feels like one of his films! I love ALL of the Poe stories that he did with Vincent Price (and, worked for years to collect all the DVDs), so I really settled in for a treat.

After learning from her brother that their father perished, when the old Abbey burned, a young woman returns to her family estate from a London University. She is confronted with a completely new household staff, which raises her suspicions. Luckily, she has her best friend (and her friend's brother) in tow, to help moderate the madness visited upon the family.

The dark family secret (not if you read the DVD jacket) is that her father has been horribly disfigured; and, is living in one of the castle's towers. He believes that his daughter must die before her 21st birthday, to prevent the spread of the family curse.

Things unfold in a fairly matter-of-fact manner; and, there is very little suspense to build. The three antagonists, the brother, the housekeeper and the doctor, are obviously in on the cover-up. The great reveal comes when the family prophecy is disclosed by Rodrigue (the brother) to Emily (the sister). However, this is highly objectionable, as it is purportedly carved on the headstone of the family tomb! Did she never look there?!?

Many minutes later everything is resolved, as so often happens in these types of fils. However, I don't want to give it all away. But, there are some interesting dream sequences interspersed among the drawn-out dialog heavy scenes, which do little to move the story forward. As I mentioned the cinematography is very much like Roger Corman, albeit not quite as rich, or as artfully done. The score is fine, sometimes a little heavy; but, not distracting.

And, finally, to at least three other posters, however, I'd like to say that maybe with the right lighting and camera angle, Gerard Tichy could pass for a Vincent Price look-a-like. But, a dead-ringer, no way!

Bakterion
(1982)

PANIC, why panic?
I am working my way through the Chilling Classics 50 Movie Pack Collection and PANIC is the second movie on disk 7.

I was watching this before vacation; and, made it to the 55 minute mark. I took a week break; and, finished it today.

What would I find wrong with this movie, besides a slow pace, a ridiculous premise, a lead scientist who "guesses" about everything. The British government's plot to kill its own citizens due to a failed experiment it commissioned?

Oh, I don't know... How about miserable monster effects? No one being able to stop this monster, despite repeated attempts by the police, the military, and others? The aborted bombing mission that ends so quickly you don't even realize they made radio contact?

No epilogue whatsoever; and, hardly any back story, short of two rats fighting in the lab.

It was just bizarre! And, could have been so much better.

Niggling mistake: Big Ben has TWO different types of chimes -- one long BONG; and, something close to the correct version; but, not quite.

The Deadly Bees
(1966)

Before there was CGI
Throughout the mid 60s and early 70s Amicus Productions churned out a series of wonderful little horror anthologies including my favorite, TALES FROM THE CRYPT.

But, before launching into the more-profitable horror genre, where low-budgets were more easily forgiven, Amicus produced some full-length features, including THE DEADLY BEES.

While watching this movie, you have to realize that this was a time before CGI, before Star Wars special effects and the like. Making a movie about killer bees isn't easy, as they don't necessarily make for the most horrifying "monsters." However, I think Amicus and Freddie Francis did a commendable job; and, really pulled this one off.

The script is based on the novel 'A Taste for Honey' by H.F. Heard; and, was well-adapted to the screen by Robert Bloch (unlike other Amicus feature-length films, which were written by Amicus insider, Milton Subotsky). Block turned out quite a few exceptional screenplays (e.g., Psycho), including the Amicus production THE SKULL, among many others.

The Deadly Bees isn't a dull film, the plot moves along quite well. The cinematography isn't always pretty; it is quite gritty around the farm, gorgeous around "Seagull Island;" and, quite slick and very "mod" in and around London.

I think that it offers some very good shock sequences, despite the fact that the bee effects are not always convincing. This is especially true of the bathroom attack on Vicky Robbins, which was quite well done.

Give it a try, with the right attitude; and, you won't be disappointed.

They Came from Beyond Space
(1967)

A "V" precursor, perhaps
Throughout the mid 60s and early 70s Amicus Productions churned out a series of wonderful little horror anthologies including my favorite, TALES FROM THE CRYPT.

But, before launching into the more-profitable horror genre, where low-budgets were more easily forgiven, Amicus produced some full-length features, including THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE.

However, the music is overbearing; and, distracting. The acting is good; but, not outstanding. The special effects are okay, some even good. The launch of the moon rocket even looked plausible. And, who dressed these people anyway?

Well, that's the bad; but, the good is the sets are quite striking. The cinematography, as with other Amicus Products, was beautiful. And, I thought the plot moved along nicely.

However, the reason for my comment is the number of films and stories that this movie seems to have inspired (based on the book The Gods Hate Kansas, so not sure if it's the book or this film that's the inspiration).

Some think that Stephen King may have been inspired by this one. My thinking is that perhaps even the new series "V" may have been inspired by this. Especially the creepy comment by the security officer that the work would result in "saving" the planet, or all mankind. And, WHAT do they need all the bodies for -- both V and these moon creatures?!?

Amicus really defined the horror anthology genre for me. But it is good to see they had a fairly decent feature film before launching those. Next up: THE DEADLY BEES!

I, Monster
(1971)

Best re-telling of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, yet
Throughout the mid 60s and early 70s Amicus Productions churned out a series of wonderful little horror anthologies including: DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS (1965), TORTURE GARDEN (1967), THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1970), ASYLUM (1972), THE VAULT OF HORROR (1973, second best of the bunch), FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (1973), and TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972, which is my all-time favorite horror anthology!)

Recently, with the Amicus Collection, I've discovered some full-length movies, like ASYLUM, AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS; and, THE BEAST MUST DIE. While quite capable, I really enjoyed only the first two, as the third one seemed a bit out-of character for the production company.

However, as other reviews note, I, MONSTER has got to be the best re-telling of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde ever. If not the best, certainly the most faithful to the original story. I really liked the character of Dr. Marlow; and, the progression of experiments, with varying results. The scenes in the gentlemen's club provide a fitting narrative, without the need of a narrator.

Amicus really defined the horror anthology genre for me. But it is good to see they had some good feature films as well. Next up: THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE and THE DEADLY BEES.

Peopletoys
(1974)

So wrong, so right, could be so much better
DEVIL TIMES FIVE has so much that is wrong with it. It is very, deeply disturbing. It hits you viscerally.

I think that DEVIL TIMES FIVE is worse than Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. And, I thought that movie left me feeling hollow and empty. WOW!

DEVIL TIMES FIVE has so much that is right. First, it has a good premise. Yes, it's been done in other forms; but, this is a unique twist on the malevolent kids theme. Second, and, most surprising, the acting was quite competent. Not great; but, good enough to hold onto. Also, the plot moved forward very well... well, it did after the first hour.

Yet so much could be so much better. The editing is horrendous. The sets are abysmal. The sound and soundtrack were annoying.

Still...

Studio One: A Passenger to Bali
(1950)
Episode 29, Season 2

Oooh, scary.
According to the jacket, this program is from the Studio One television series, shown from 1948 to 1958 on CBS. Apparently, the series received multiple awards and nominations. So, WHY then is it included in Mill Creeks' 50 Movie Pack Chilling Classics?

This episode features Captain English agreeing to take aboard a passenger that turns out to be much more than he seems... ooh, scary.

Turns out that Berry Kroeger (posing as "Reverend" Walkes) is some sort of a pariah -- feared by the Bali authorities; the Saigon authorities, and, the Hong Kong authorities. He is accused of being a rabble-rouser; and, has been sited for distributing incendiary cargo.

We never learn what that may be; but,at one point, Mr. Walkes is seen reading "The Decline of the West" by Oswald Spengler. This book, which purports that the developed counties of the West (England, Western Europe and the Americas) were headed toward a new phase of civilization. This phase would be dominated by mega-cities, and money; and, that atheism would become ascendant. Following a progression, this would lead to Caesarism (cult of personality); and, a long period of stagnation in the arts and sciences.

This gives us some little insight into Mr. Walkes true purpose; he believes the end of the world (as we know it) is at hand; and, he is going to help bring about the new world order, whatever that may be.

Pink Panther & Pals
(2010)

Pink Panther and Pals is fun
My 8 year-old daughter loves the old Pink Panther cartoons. She has all 6 DVDs. She likes the Inspector. But she isn't too much of a fan of the Ant and the Aardvark.

However, we just watched the new Pink Panther and Pals. She's the one who gave it a "10." She thinks it is better than the old stuff. That's a bit of a debate on my part. But, we did set the DVR to record all the new episodes, so we won't miss them.

Pink Panther and Pals is fun. Fun for the whole family. So, don't worry whether you you enjoy the old episodes or not. Watch this one for its own merits.

Pinocchio's Revenge
(1996)

So many goofs....
A Tampa Police Officer wearing a State Trooper's hat. Stark Prison, where Florida keeps its death row inmates, IS NOT on the coast of Florida.

An electrocution, with no wet sponge on the prisoner's head, before they put the metal bands on his head. A basement in Florida. Are you kidding me? There are like 4 houses in Florida with a basement.

Not to mention the plot holes, on which others have commented. Was the daughter insane? Did the doll make her insane? Was the serial killer covering for his son? Did the son kill the other boys?

If so, then the movie sort of makes sense.

However, I thought the doll turned into the dead boy; not the daughter. Oh, well it was so insane and messed up at the end. Who cares?

El monte de las brujas
(1973)

What more can I say
I am working my way through the Chilling Classics 50 Movie Pack Collection and THE WITCHES' MOUNTAIN (El Monte de las brujas)is something like the 17th movie in the set.

The movie had nothing to it to hold my attention at all. The plot was incoherent. The dialog seemed improvised. The acting was poor. The characters were unsympathetic.

The best scene is the beginning, with an exasperated woman that is driven to burning her seemingly bratty daughter. However, the only connection this scene has to the rest of the movie, is the lead character, Mario, who has the most stupendous mustache ever. But, that's it.

The film was not effective on any level. The music was too intrusive. The lighting was very dark, so that some scenes are almost completely black. It really is barely watchable -- what more can I say?

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