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Hard Drive

Annoying and Unsatisfying noir...
Annoying and unsatisfying noir without a single likeable character. In fact it can hardly muster a convincing player, with minor roles by McCoy and Albert the only ones that seem natural enough to avoid the stilted contrivances of the major roles. If you manage to keep your boredom at bay until the end there is some small reward in finding out how the twisted plot is resolved, but it's at best a 50-50 proposition of whether that's worth the time spent.

The Perfect Catch

Andrew Walker shines....
It's very refreshing to see a quiet film with likeable leads who seem to inhabit their characters effortlessly. The baseball connection was what drew me in, and the fact that Walker reminded me so much of Elroy Hirsch aka "Crazylegs" who actually played himself in a bio-pic back in 1953 When you get tired of the constant overdone cgi, speed, explosions, and gratuitous violence in much of today's screen fare it pays off to check out the Hallmark films. I've caught a few others with Andrew Walker and he always gives a believable, sincere performance which overrides the sometimes contrived cuteness of the plots. This is the one that left the first and lasting impression...understated, but sweet and memorable. .

Conan the Barbarian

Incomprehensibly and unfairly underrated....
Apparently those who have not actually read and enjoyed the original Robert E. Howard stories are responsible for this film's incomprehensibly and unfairly underrated status. It's far superior to the earlier attempts and much truer to Howard's characterization. As a film it's also superior to such bloated and underwhelming projects as "Prince of Persia" and "Gods of Egypt" which were little more than boring big-screen video games with non-existent or nonsensical plots. The abundant action proceeds briskly and the film looks stunning. It's an excellent introduction to the Conan character with Jason Mamoa doing the barbarian proud. Unfortunately it's generating more fans from the DVD release than it did while during its theatrical run, which is probably going to preclude more of the Conan stories being filmed, on this scale at least.

Viking Quest

Ambitious, striking and exciting take on Norse mythology...
"Viking Quest" succeeds surprisingly well as an ambitious, exciting take on Norse mythology. Although its ambition exceeds its budget, it has a good, brisk pace and lots of excitement and action. With a few minor flaws, the script is well written and acted, most notably by Oliver Walker (Atlantis) and the two supporting female players. The hero is a bit disappointing but Mr. Walker, thankfully, puts him in the shade throughout most of the story. The film is far better than a host of the other attempts at this type of theme being done these days. It's not "The Vikings" or "The Long Ships" or even "Prince Valiant" but it comes reasonably close for those who enjoy remote historical period adventure films or mythic themes.. Recommended.


Exciting adventure...but Hercules will never be the same
"Atlantis" is a well-made, cleverly written, exciting adventure show. The diverse cast of characters are all well-acted, with action and plots well-executed. It's refreshing to have once again a virtuous hero (Jack Donnelly as Jason) with a female love interest (Aiysha Hart as Ariadne) who isn't trying to outdo and emasculate him like so many of the unlovable and unconvincing heroines way too prominent these days.

The triumvirate of Jason and pals Pythagoras (Robert Ems) and Hercules (Mark Addy) though entirely different personalities have great chemistry, but of course Hercules will never be the same. The two villains of the piece (Sarah Parish as Pasiphae and Oliver Walker as Heparion) nearly steal the show, they do such a dastardly good job. It's a rousing, fantastic thoroughly enjoyable romp with enough thrills, danger, pathos and humor to keep viewers interested.

My only criticism is that these ancient Greek era men should not be wearing toreador pants, otherwise the costumes and sets are up to par with the period. "Atlantis has some similarity in style to the old Kevin Sorbo Hercules series and the previous BBC "Merlin" but is far superior to both, especially in the acting and writing.

The Deep Below

flawed but nevertheless interesting...
Not every film needs to have multi-millions of dollars wasted on it. Nor does it need to have the most noted multimillionaire directors and/or technicians.) Reviews have hit this title with the overkill of a sledgehammer. The story was supposedly based on true events, so lower-budget style and lack of slick polish just made it all the more credible and realistic. The so-called "missing" parts didn't bother me as most of them were understood without having to have every minute detail visualized. Dohring fans will like his character of Will, which he plays well. His teen-aged girlfriend and buddy were also convincing and winsome. The story had sufficient peril and action to keep a viewer interested. Actually it reminds me a lot of the "B" films of the 40's and 50's which were shot with minimum time and investment, many of which are better than the big budget A films and have worn better with age. That could very well happen with this one in time.

The Canyons

A fine film, much maligned...
The negative reviews of this film are incredible. Watching it without preconceptions, however, is probably essential. Both Lohan and Deen give stellar performances, the latter practically steals the film as the sadistic wealthy manipulator with long-standing mental issues who begins to seriously unravel when his sense of power over others is disrupted by his seemingly weak paramour. Deen wisely underplays it, with considerable subtlety, avoiding any suggestion of camp and thereby becomes quite realistically and quietly menacing. These two actors carry the film with enough skill to make it believable. In some ways reminiscent of "Gone Girl", but far more effective and meaningful than that over-rated, far more popular film. This work will eventually come into recognition for its merits. In the meantime, hopefully we will see more great work from both talented Lindsay Lohan and the new leading man with photogenic charisma, James Deen.

As Young as We Are

An awkward and dangerous love affair...
Young Kim Hutchins (Pippa Scott) just out of college lands a teaching job in a jerkwater town. Traveling with her friend and colleague, the two women are harassed by some men while stopped because of car trouble. A handsome young man (Robert Harland) passing in his truck comes to their rescue, chasing off the no-good louts. After fixing the minor wiring problem, he immediately takes a shine to Ms. Hutchins and confidently begins dating her on a regular basis. Her feelings for him are equally strong and the two seem to be in love. However, on the first day in her classroom she is horrified that he is one of her senior students. He has no intention of giving her up, even though her reputation and job is at stake. Will she settle for passion or mediocrity? This film was way ahead of it's time and doesn't deserve to be relegated to obscurity. Though dated, the performances are quite good. Ty Hardin plays one of the older students, an obnoxious disrespectful jock who causes her no end of trouble. But the real standout in the cast is Robert Harland, whose sympathetic portrayal of a sincere man crossed in love who won't give up is truly memorable. It's a mystery why he didn't appear in more films as a leading man.

O fovos

Superbly powerful performance by Anestis Vlahos....
Anestis, the son of Demitrios, is a psychologically and emotionally crippled young man, harshly treated by his tyrannical father and bitter stepmother. Demetrios rules his family and his big wheat farm with an iron hand even though he himself reserves the right to go get drunk and take up with whores whenever it suits him. Anestis is a bit slow and socially undeveloped, the butt of the other young men in the village who taunt him for never having known a woman sexually though he is nearly 30. No one has ever been kind to him in his whole life...he has never known love or approval. Driven by his needs and unsatisfied lust aroused by his frequent voyeurism, he traps a saintly, beautiful deaf-mute hired girl who was milking the goats in the barn. Unable to control himself, he rapes her as she is deaf to his pleas. About to be discovered, he tries to calm her down but she is hysterical, so in panic he shakes her against a wall and unintentionally crushes her skull, killing her. Her fear is now his and his guilt and remorse destroy what little sense is left in him.... The stepmother soon finds the body he hid under some hay and knows that he murdered contempt and hatred for him she and his father help him to dispose of the body in the nearby lake, believing that the townspeople will lynch the whole family if it's ever found out. Ridden with horror at his crime, Anestis is forced to dance at his stepsister's wedding but his eyes are full of guilt and fear of discovery. He constantly breaks into sweats and in a state of near nervous collapse. The superb acting by Anestis Vlahos is unforgettable, the portrayal of a weak and twisted man who never even thought of committing such an heinous crime is so powerful you will actually feel sympathy for the unfortunate man who became both rapist and murderer. The beautiful black and white cinematography is stark and brooding, underscoring the tragedy and the fear.

Three Wishes for Jamie

Charming, touching story....
"Three Wishes for Jamie" is a charming, touching story full of well wrought characters. Young Jamie, a feisty Irish lad, has three dreams of Queen Una of the little people, which means that he will be granted his three greatest desires in life. He chooses travel, the woman of his dreams to wed, and a fine son who will speak like poetry in the ancient Gaelic tongue. With the active participation of a cousin, a well-known matchmaker full of the blarney, at every step of the way it looks like all of these if they happen at all, will not necessarily come about as expected. Despite being a Catholic, Jamie never doubts that they will occur, but he often finds himself vigorously opposing the chain of events in his life. Stevan Rimkus is just right for his role, and Jack Warden is nothing less than memorable as his ever loyal, enthusiastic, life-loving, wise old cousin. The characterizations of everyone in the film contribute to the charm and the script is delightfully realized. The frame of the beginning and end of the film featuring the Irish priest's comments on the story was a sweet touch. This film should be enjoyed by is truly a rarity.


Ambitious, problematical art film...
Wakefield Poole's "Bible!" is a feast for the eyes....and almost defies description. It consists of three visual interpretations of the Old Testament followed by a visual coda signifying the coming of the New Testament with a strange representation of the Annunciation. The film plays much like a musical composition as it contains no dialog. The first sequence depicting the creation of Adam is stunning in its exquisite beauty and quite probably the best depiction you will ever see of the creation of man theme on film. It eclipses even the more literal version in the big budget epic John Huston film. Unfortunately it is marred by the apple joke at the end, which serves to introduce the next and weakest sequence "Bath-Sheba" which plays in a slapstick comic vein reminiscent of silent films. The third major sequence of Samson and Delilah has a dark, sinister feel to it and has an eerie nightmarish quality of menace similar to the classic German expressionist style. "Bible!" is an interesting curio of its time, the fact of its experimental quality and frequent full frontal nudity prevented it from becoming mainstream. Like European films of the late 60's and early 70's this film was far ahead of the curve for the average American moviegoer. It has its flaws but purely from a visual standpoint it rewards the patient viewer.

Death by Invitation

Low budget chiller deserves more credit than it gets...
Yes, much of the film is awkward, it's full of plot holes and script deficiency...but it has a persistent, understated tone of menace that keeps a viewer involved. This low-budget chiller deserves a lot more credit than it gets. There are several horrific murders of youngsters perpetrated by the vengeful witch with no-one catching on to her precisely because of the rather dull and commonplace behavior she exhibits when around other people. That's exactly how real life serial killers get on with it...they can appear quite normal most of the time. Shelby Leverington delivers this quality brilliantly, resembling a near-somnolent Shelley Long. Those heavy-lidded eyes and that sly smirk that appears on her face hint at the triumphant evil underneath the nice girl-next-door facade. Norman Parker is very good as Jake, as well. A prime target for victim-hood, you keep wondering if he's going to wind up in a dripping body bag himself. Only the fact that he's not one of the marked descendants and has sufficient machismo to nullify this female's blood urge allows him to short-circuit his vulnerability, but he still winds up being manipulated into struggling with the justifiably crazed father who comes after the witch with an axe, only to be nearly decapitated during the melee. With much of the plot involving gruesome child murders it was actually a pretty brilliant move to maintain a pedestrian feel to the film. On a bigger budget it could have been done much more effectively, but even sans slick cinematography and a coherent script it still has lingering chills, solely due to the skills of Leverington and Parker.

Midnight Son

Infuses fresh new blood into a tired genre....
Lately the vampire genre has been done to death, with long-running TV series, etc. But somehow, this fine little film has slipped through the cracks, while infusing new blood into the tired formula. I had no expectation of this film being anywhere near as good as it is...but now I would rank it among the best in the genre which boasts very few good entries beyond some of the classic treatments based on the original Bram Stoker novel such as "Brides of Dracula", and the rarer contemporary updates such as "Vampire at Midnight", and "Blood and Donuts"

Zak Killberg's is surely the most realistic and sympathetic portrayals of any of these films...his depiction of the confusion, fear, hesitation, and abysmal lack of self-esteem and loneliness as he struggles to cope with his "illness" and its consequences is nothing less than masterful. It is obvious that this young man is a great actor not yet discovered. His own personality as revealed in an interview extra on the DVD is nothing like the character he so brilliantly portrays in the film. Killberg is upbeat and confident. Contrast his own character with the persona he portrayed and it seems worthy of an Oscar! This is certainly a film that deserves a much greater audience and it may very likely become a treasured cult film in future. Hopefully viewers will have the opportunity to see much more of Mr. Killberg in future..

Frine, cortigiana d'Oriente

"Destroyed by Alexander...Restored by Phryne"
Very little is known about the famous Greek hetaera whose only rival is Pericles' Aspasia. She was the wealthiest woman in Athens of her day and the model for a Praxiteles Venus and probably his lover. She was put on trial for sacrilege, nearly convicted and executed but, due to the eloquence of her defending orator and the display of her beauty, was acquitted. Most, if not all, of the surviving history written years after her life are almost entirely apocryphal and legendary. "Phryne, Courtesan of the East" recounts the tale, piecing it together in a coherent and interesting fashion with her trial being the focal point at the end. Not your average peplum film and quite a tribute to the woman who succeeded in capturing the imagination of men of her day and still does so centuries later.

The Legend of Hercules

Compared to this film, Steve Reeves was Oscar worthy...
A major disappointment and a waste of a big budget....three better films could have been made instead of this clunker. Lutz was a terrible choice...his pit bull looks and dullard acting made him an unlikely hero. Even the cheaper embodiments of Hercules such as Dan Vadis and Reg Park in the 60's Italian films were far more credible. And compared to this film, Steve Reeves, the greatest Hercules of all was Oscar worthy... Only the two Liams and Adkins were memorable in their roles. The unconvincing and jerky CGI in the action sequences was very annoying and if it isn't skillful enough to be undetectable it should be reserved for cartoons only. The older films that used real actors and sets are far more realistic, naturally. I wish 300 had never been made, it was bloated and idiotic and has apparently had the undesirable effect of making shoddy, unrealistic epics acceptable. Take a look at the Richard Egan film "The Three Hundred Spartans" for a more believable treatment.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Dragons should be seen and not heard....
Like its predecessor, this second Hobbitt film is visually stunning,tells a good tale, but is so protracted that the enchantment inevitably becomes tedium. The original LOTR trilogy was handled much better, in that the theatrical releases were mercifully edited of at least half an hour each of running time, with the protracted lengthier versions released as extended cut for those who just can't get enough and have to beat a good thing to death. Both of these films would be improved by that method, being shorn of at least a half hour each of unnecessary footage. And it could well begin with cutting much of the dragon dialog...there isn't much point in threatening to burn all the little buggers into oblivion if you're going to talk them to death first! What nonsense! All we should hear from the dragon is the pounding of his heavy footfalls and the beating of his leathery wings or scorching breath. I rather liked the character of Tauriel and the budding attraction to the dwarf she healed. Also Richard Armitage became more important, who was so wasted in Hobbit 1.

Vampire at Midnight

an American horror story worthy to be ranked with the British Hammer films.....
"Vampire at Midnight" is an American horror story worthy to be ranked with British Hammer films. Most attempts at transposing Gothic material and themes of the 19th century into contemporary settings fail miserably, but this one succeeds on many levels, even invoking the eerie sense of atmosphere necessary to facilitate the chills. There is more outright gore, violence and nudity than usual, but not so much that it spoils the effect. A mature and still hunky Jason Williams is quite good as the typical macho detective, relieved of duty on the case who persists in investigating regardless. The minor characters, particularly the female cop who fancies him and the stand-up comic who pulls him into the case and becomes a victim, are well portrayed by the actors. I can't understand why this film is so downgraded by its is far better than 90% of comparable films in the genre, with bigger names and budgets involved. A very competent film which deserves a wider audience.

Gioventù perduta

Sociological study of post-war crime rise in Italy
"Lost Youth" is not merely a sociological study of the post-war crime rise in Italy among the young middle-class, it is also a study of how family and friends can be completely blind to a sociopathic killer in their midst. The then new young actor Jacques Sernas (forever under-rated thereafter) garnered deserved critical praise for his chilling portrayal of the young 20 yr old criminal pursuing his agenda with enough sang-froid to freeze Europe. The bleak story gets a slight lift from young Massimo Girotti's performance as a tyro police inspector who unfortunately becomes involved with the sister of the perpetrator he is seeking. The black and white cinematography is pure classic noir cinema.

The Pharaoh's Curse

a predatory curse from ancient Egypt....
Low budget but ambitious all-male porn film with its most effective scenes at the beginning and end, which are set in ancient Egypt. There are segments following the curse in Roman empire times and later in Victorian archeology times, and also in the present day which are less effective. The real standouts in the cast are Rick Allen as the Pharaoh's chief attendant and Blake Harper as the abducted and enslaved peasant. You don't find out why these two thwart and defy the Pharaoh until the very end, which explains the reason for the curse. The story would have been much improved if it had stayed in ancient Egypt and included possibly a jealous wife of the Pharaoh, or perhaps a frightened and worried sister of the peasant. Not recommended if your threshold for male porn is non-existent, or only if you are a nut on depictions of ancient Egypt and Rome such as myself.

La vida íntima de Marco Antonio y Cleopatra

Anachronistic frolic through ancient Rome...
Ever since Mark Twain's stories of "A Connecticuit Yankee in King Arthur's Court" and "The Mysterious Stranger", mass audiences have been entertained by fantasies of time travel to bygone eras. As in books of fiction, this is certainly true of motion pictures and television. Notable examples are Eddie Cantor's "Roman Scandals" and "Ali Baba Goes to Town", as well as the British "Fiddler's Three." This anachronistic frolic through ancient Rome and Egypt from the golden age of the Mexican film industry is solidly in that musical comedy vein. Viewers who enjoy this genre which includes "The Boys from Syracuse", "a Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and "The Three Stooges Meet Hercules" will want to give this one a look...Luis Sandrini is every bit as comic as Cantor, and the leading lady (Maria Antoneta Pons) does a mean rumba and conga while throwing a party for Marco Antonio.

El secreto de la momia egipcia

the mummy....unwrapped and lusty!
Without a doubt this is the most unusual and intriguing mummy movie you are ever likely to see. His doting father, the high priest refused to have his evil son's internal organs removed, or his body embalmed and wrapped after the obligatory tongue removal. Instead he put an occult spell on him after having him sealed intact in his sarcophagus and hidden. About three thousand years later, Lord Dartmoor, an eccentric antiquarian dilettante buys the still sealed sarcophagus and discovers the intact body when he opens it in his castle. He stimulates it back to life with a strange electric device, only to be enslaved by the mummy's strange hypnotic powers. The powerful mute Egyptian must drink fresh blood daily to remain living and so begins his demonic reign of vampiric terror in the surrounding countryside with many young women victimized to slake his thirst and lust. It's quite an effective film with many startling, imaginative sequences and a worthy competitor to the better known Hammer lexicon. The real surprise and standout is the striking actor who plays the mummy (Michael Flynn?) who certainly looks the part with expert make-up, despite the disappointing costume....its silhouette is correct, but the kilt should have been pleated white, nearly sheer linen and the collar beaded instead of both being cheap looking gold lame cloth. A few faults like these mar the total effect but overall it is in many ways as good or better than other films of this genre. Recommended if you enjoy vampire or mummy films.

Ecce Homo

On the beach with the five last people on earth...
"Ecce Homo" (Behold Man) aka "The Survivors" is a thought provoking, downbeat well acted tale of the last survivors of a nuclear holocaust. At first it seems that only one family of three, the husband (LeRoy) slowly dying of radiation sickness, his earthy wife (Papas) and pubescent son are the only survivors on a small coastal pocket of the Mediterranean. But soon two men find them and join them...they are the only ones left that escaped the widespread contamination of fallout. That is when the trouble starts...the younger and more virile of the two men (Tinti) easily makes friends with the wife and son and has no intention of taking orders from the jealous, dictatorial and moralistic husband. The neglected unsatisfied wife is soon driven to open rebellion against him, his constant negativity and selfish demands drive her into the arms of the handsome lusty man who treats her as the desirable partner she needs to be....tempers and hatreds soon grow to alarming degrees that jeopardize their very existence. The passions and drama draw the viewer in and you will watch spellbound as the final denouement unfolds. This is one of the few intelligent treatments of the post-apocalyptic theme, more stirring and elemental than "On the Beach"

Koinonia, ora miden

Conscience, courage, or cowardice?
A formerly heroic air force pilot, now an alcoholic loser with a failed marriage, is appointed by his older brother in the Ministry of Commerce to investigate a tragic plane crash that killed 28 people. As he goes through the motions in an alcoholic daze, he gradually comes to realize that the wreck was due to criminal negligence and failure to follow mandatory safety regulations. Powerful commercial and political interests expect him to routinely gloss over the fault of the wrongdoers, and when he balks at falsifying his report a great deal of money is offered him. Refusing this, he is beaten and threatened with financial ruin of himself and his family. He has one material witness who observed details that prove his case, the sole survivor of the crash, and this young woman is threatened as well. Well acted, especially by Nikos Kourkoulos, vivid cinematography and brisk pacing make this a very watchable noir drama.

Razza violenta

non-stop action and interesting characters.....
I really can't understand why everyone is panning this film. I don't usually like "action films" but this one, (along with the non-stop action) held my interest because unlike most of this genre, the characters were unusual and developed enough to be interesting. Harrison Muller, the lead actor, has a great screen presence and does well with this very active role and he gives it a very cool character, so you just have to like him. The situations in the plot were not that obvious to me, so it held my interest throughout when unexpected turns in events occurred. It's true that after the opening sequence Henry Silva was wasted....but the female characters more than made up for it. They added a lot to the story with their widely different personalities. My only negative impression was the startling and preposterous ending. I couldn't quite accept it. Harrison Muller, Jr.'s engaging, energetic performance is indicative of his talent which deserved better showcases than the films he appeared in. They are worth watching only to see him, and he steals every one of them even when acting with bigger named co-stars. It's incredible that he didn't become a bigger star himself.


steamy passions and evil brew.....
Steamy passions and evil brew on a Cuban sugar plantation in 1850 Cuba. Fifteen years after the execution of an evil black witch, her daughter, (who has been trained in the black arts and subjugated to her crippled grandmother's hatred and plot for revenge) becomes severely conflicted when ordered to kill man she loves, the married Spanish master who freed her. The evil forces unleashed when thwarted finally redound with disaster upon they're perpetrators. A colorful and interesting period piece which is more credible than a mere horror film. Recommended for an unusual story line and the stirring setting with the many Afro-Cuban ethnic sequences portraying slave life in the region of that time and place.

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