StuOz

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Reviews

Twilight Zone: The Movie
(1983)

One Of My Favourite 1980s Movies
Knockout feature film remake of the 1959 TV series: The Twilight Zone.

This movie was great in the 80s and it is even better now - why? Because now we all know just how hard it is to reboot/remake Twilight Zone, because after this film was released we got TWO bad or very average TV remakes of TZ (one in the 80s and another more recently).

TZ: The Movie has a knockout Jerry Goldsmith musical score that is even better than a lot of the scores he did for the original 1959 TV series! In fact, it stands alone from the movie.

But take away the score and what are you left with? Well, frankly, I think a couple of the remade plots are better made than the originals from the old series!

And we have Burgess Meredith narrating and he does a fine job.

If I had to single out something I disliked about the film I would have to say the intro with those two guys joking away in the car. Granted, I know they are just trying to get us in the right frame of mind for what is to come, but I think we could have done without them.

But other than that, Twilight Zone: The Movie is one of my very favourite 80s films!

Wonder Woman: Who's Afraid of Diana Prince?
(1967)

This Confusing Short Did Not Work For Me
Four minute short that is in fact the first time Wonder Woman appeared on film.

This is a little confusing. Due to the comical acting and the sound of the 1966 Batman narrator, when I watched this I thought it was trying to follow in the footsteps of the campy Adam West Batman series? Instead of being a campy superhero series it was going for the all out sit-com format seen in I Dream Of Jeannie and Bewitched.

Now I get it - but I don't like it.

I personally wish they tried for the less obvious Batman-style of comedy as, when this was made in 1967, there were a few silly fantasy sitcoms doing the rounds, and this probably seemed rather routine.

Others seem to find 1967 Wonder Woman rather amusing but not me. At the time of this review this short can only be found on Youtube, and if it has been taken down, you have not missed much. Basically, it looks like it was thrown together on a Sunday afternoon and the only things of interest are the Batman narrator and the sound of some known 20th Century Fox music cues. Forget it.

Lookwell
(1991)

Adam West Pilot That Never Turned Into A Series
Adam West puts his Batman-style of humour into a 30 minute pilot -that nobody ever saw!

Just watched this on Youtube and found it very amusing! Granted, the humour was very off-beat, maybe too off-beat for network TV, but I would have gladly tuned in if it graduated into a weekly series.

I just don't like the way Hollywood treated Adam West after Batman ended in 1968. Granted, many were amused by his "Family Guy" voice over work but I would have been much more happy if West became Lookwell instead of a cartoon voice.

The Adventures of Superboy
(1961)

Unsold Pilot Sold Me - I love It
Pilot film about a young man with super powers.

Just watched this on Youtube (with a very faded print) and loved it. The 60s produced some knockout family friendly TV shows (Adam West Batman, Star Trek, the Irwin Allen shows, QM's The Invaders, etc) so we can only wonder what would have happened if this graduated into a series.

I wonder why this never happened? I was expecting a bit more action from the pilot, however we got a fast moving car crashing into Superboy which was well done. Maybe the network in question thought it seemed a bit too talky? I personally was not bothered by it being very talky, but maybe others had concerns?

They fixed the costume issue! A less talked about problem with Adventures Of Superman (1952-58) was the way his Superman short pants were too high (almost right up to his belly button) in the colour seasons. Granted, this would not have been an issue if it only happened for a few weeks but when he looked like that for half the series - I call that an issue! They fixed the problem with Superboy.

Too bad we only have one single adventure to enjoy however if you want more of this sort of kid-friendly retro superhero stuff I would consider watching all 28 episodes of the live-action - Shazam! (1974) series - as The Adventures Of Superboy does indeed resemble Shazam!. Enjoy.

The Mod Squad: Flight Five Doesn't Answer
(1969)
Episode 15, Season 1

Plane Disaster Scripted By Future Star Trek Movies Man
Unusual episode of this series about a plane crash.

Written by Harve Bennett, who would later go onto TV's Six Million Dollar Man series and the Star Trek movies of the 1980s, this hour is for people like me who are not regular viewers of Mod Squad.

In fact, in the opening minutes I was a bit baffled as to what was going on as the episode just seemed so removed from any other Mod Squad hour (the team are undercover on a plane).

As is the case in airplane disaster shows, we are treated to an interesting bunch of plane passengers (including Whit Bissell who would appear in Airport the following year) and the hour will hold you from beginning to end.

However, while it is true this looks bigger budget than the usual Mod Squad episode, we are still just talking about an hour of TV, so don't go in expecting an epic.

Flight Five Doesn't Answer is reasonably entertaining.

Brave New World
(1980)

Better Than A Lot Of Recent Science Fiction But...
Mini-series about a future brave new world.

I seem to remember watching this as a kid and being quiet impressed by it, however a Youtube viewing 40 years later was a bit of a struggle, in fact I could not get past the first 35 minutes.

No I have no issue with the retro sets and effects, it was more a problem with it being too slow and, in the first 35 minutes at least, I could not make out if the actors were taking it all seriously (for example the part where the future people are watching footage of old earth). I could almost image them all bursting out into laughter the moment the director yelled "cut!".

The Youtube print was very poor and faded which went against the viewing experience.

If I ever I find it remastered on DVD I might be more willing to stay with it right to the end. Basically, at this point atleast, I can't call it good but I can't call it bad. However, from what I saw it is better than a lot of the science fiction that has come out in the last 20 years.

The Twilight Zone
(1959)

Despite The Last Two Seasons - This Show Is A Gem
Very highly regarded series containing plots about science fiction, fantasy, horror and sometimes even crazy comedy.

A hard series to review as people react to it in different ways. One episode will get 100 different reactions. Me being a science fiction fan, I personally connected to the plots about space travel, time travel, generally the episodes that were played totally straight faced.

I sometimes don't laugh at things other people laugh at, so I was often not at home when TZ ventured into comedy shows about the devil or an angel dropping in on earth. However, a couple of these tales were well done. I don't wish to come over as some humourless old man and can proudly report that I found fantasy tales - The After Hours and Five Characters In Search Of An Exit - to be two of the most amusing (and re-watched) TV episodes you could find anywhere!

As is the case with several TV shows in history, many of the gems were found in season one. However, the pilot - Where Is Everybody? - was not the best introduction to the series, so don't judge the show from the opening episode.

Some might say the show should have called it a day after three seasons as the last two seasons ran into problems:

Season four episodes were expanded to 51 minutes and only five of those 18 hours were gems.

Season five episodes were running out of ideas fast and only 12 of the 36 tales were worth bothering with.

However, once again, this is just my take on the series, there are others who think all five seasons are a knockout! Frankly, I would consider watching the whole series as even the lesser shows had the odd good music cue or a knockout introduction from Rod Serling to make the viewing worthwhile. Enjoy!

Project U.F.O.
(1978)

Seen In My Youth And Seen Today On Youtube - Not Bad
UFO investigations by the US military.

I remember watching this in my 70s youth and I found it reasonably entertaining. However, I think I was a bit turned off by the formal nature of the two leads. Not saying their acting was unrealistic or anything like that but in this period there was another investigation-into-the-weird series going on - Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974) - and when I was a kid I warmed to that more light hearted approach to lead characters.

I always liked the footage of the actual UFO encounters. When watching today I think I heard a sound effect from Star Trek Original Series (1966) and at one point I almost thought I was looking at stock footage from This Island Earth (1955) - today it looks very retro!

Not sure if I would ever bother getting this show on DVD (if it is available?) but I would suggest a few screenings on Youtube if you have time to kill.

Otherworld
(1985)

This Was Probably A Knockout Back In 1985
Science fiction series with elements of Lost In Space, The Fantastic Journey and Sliders.

Don't know where I was in 1985 as I never saw this back then? But just watched it today on Youtube - my verdict? I wish I did see it back then as it was probably mind blowing. The problem is that, since 1985, just about every plot element has been used and re-used to death (on Stargate Atlantis, Star Trek TNG, etc), so the show now seems about as fresh as yesterday's news!

I thought the young man in the family was a better kid actor than the kid actor in The Fantastic Journey (1977) but he was no Billy Mumy in Lost In Space (1965). The dad actor (Sam Groom) might not have had the acting range to carry a weekly series beyond a few episodes?

Lost In Space and The Fantastic Journey had much better theme tunes and music cues.

Basically, to all those who loved the show back in 1985, you are lucky to have experienced something like this back then. But if you have watched a lot of TV science fiction over the last four decades - Otherworld might seem a little less wonderful today.

Captain Nemo and the Underwater City
(1969)

Still Good But This Is Not The Best Take On The Theme
One of a few Captain Nemo movies that came out in the 50s/60s/70s - each from a different studio!

This and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea were apart of my 70s childhood, but this 1969 take on the theme went missing for decades, only to be picked up by Warner DVD in recent years. Unlike before, now I could view it in the proper widescreen format - which was a buzz! However, I always remembered this film as having more action than it actually does??

At one point, I giant sea creature appears and I was just waiting for it to wreck the city in the climax - but it never happened??? This would have made a better ending to what we get.

But this 1969 film has some wonderful sets that capture the grandness of the city. In fact, in terms of sets, this might be cinema's greatest underwater city ever made! The musical score is as grand as the city.

As stated above, there was a 70s take on this theme: Irwin Allen's The Amazing Captain Nemo (also available on Warner DVD) with Jose Ferrer in the title role. This is a movie you love or hate. I love it. But Ferrer's take on the character was totally different to what the others (including James Mason) did. Ferrer played Nemo as a more appealing and amusing fellow - which is how I always remember him. In fact, I would go as far as saying that when I see someone else play Nemo, I am not totally comfortable. But again, many will not see things that way.

In a nutshell, Captain Nemo and the Underwater City (1969) is still worth a look today but you might not get the fireworks you got as a kid.

Land of the Giants: Shell Game
(1969)
Episode 25, Season 1

Not A Classic But Some Nice Things To Look At
A deaf kid finds spaceship Spindrift in the jungle.

This episode is a taste of things to come in season two when the once creepy giants are much less creepy to the little people. Granted, this season was repeating it's plots too much (nasty giant wants to capture little folk, etc) so the writers probably needed to do this to keep the series going but this new direction was not always to my liking.

On top of this, we have a great music composer - Mullendore - who did wonders on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (Blackbeard) and Lost In Space (The Haunted Lighthouse, Space Beauty) but bombs out here.

However, there are some nice things to look at: the shell set from Fox's Doctor Doolittle (1967) and for the third (and final) time we get a really good look at spaceship Spindrift.

For all of season two, the ship just sits like a rock in the jungle and does nothing. Too bad they could not have done more with it as it is such a great looking craft.

Shell Game is okay.

Land of the Giants: Brainwash
(1969)
Episode 14, Season 1

Reasonably Entertaining Episode With A Great Climax
The little people find a powerful radio they think will get them back to earth, then the giants get the signal.

This is good but not great. It features two very talented guest stars - Leonard Stone and Warren Stevens - who are not given very interesting dialogue, which becomes an issue because I know both guys really sparkle when given great lines (see Lost In Space's Space Beauty and Land Of The Giants episode A Place Called Earth).

Foam, foam everywhere! The climax might have given the makers of 70s series Space 1999 some ideas some ideas for a first season episode?

Nice to see all those Time Tunnel blinking light computers were used later.

Perhaps the giants in question would have seemed more deadly if they behaved in the less talkative fashion of the giants seen in the pilot - The Crash. Instead they come out with a lot of dialogue that is basically stating the obvious. But the series was mainly directed at kids, maybe the writer thought the obvious needed to be spelt out?

Whatever the case, by the time we get to the great climax, you walk away from Brainwash with a big smile on your face.

The Twilight Zone: No Time Like the Past
(1963)
Episode 10, Season 4

Yes Another Time Travel Gem
Hollywood legend Dana Andrews plays a time traveller.

Only a small number of the one hour TZ episodes really worked out but this is indeed one of the gems. However, I should point out that I have a soft spot for TZ time travel-related shows. The series time travelled so much I almost define it as a pre-Time Tunnel (1966).

The lines of dialogue given to time traveller - Dana Andrews - really sparkle, so much so that there was a time when I put his scenes on a recording device and walked around listening to him all day.

To me atleast, No Time Like The Past is a gem.

The Twilight Zone: The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street
(1960)
Episode 22, Season 1

Space Invaders On Maple Street?
A regular street in 1960 USA becomes a place of nightmares.

From the opening and closing narration, to the timeless and deeply powerful plot, to the backlot street the show is set in, to the outstanding music cues - this is about as good as TZ could get!

In regards to the music cues, I always guessed it was one of the traditional composers like Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith or Leith Stevens who did the music - but just found out it was a total unknown guy (to me).

This episode is knockout!

Land of the Giants: Ghost Town
(1968)
Episode 2, Season 1

One Of My Top 15 Episodes Of The Series
The earth people find a town that might be earth.

Despite pinching ideas from a B&W Twilight Zone episode, Ghost Town is one of my favourite episodes of this 51 episode series and the energetic teaser is one of the best moments of any Irwin Allen series. We begin with a giant hobo and earth kid Barry struck by a force field, feisty Valerie then throws a rock at the force field - all done with John William music blasting away! When they call Irwin Allen a master showman, they are talking about teasers like this - Irwin knew how to hook viewers into an hour!

Ghost Town is different to any other first season episode in that is does not feature little people climbing desks or running around a studio jungle - instead we are in a earth-like town. Also, the hour generally seems to have more gusto than many other episodes.

A much later second season episode - A Small War - does have shades of this hour as it features another trouble making giant kid (this time a boy) who has an army of toys that upset the little people. Perhaps this would have been better if they brought back the giant girl from Ghost Town?

In a nutshell - this episode is a knockout!

Land of the Giants: Genius at Work
(1969)
Episode 21, Season 1

One Of My Top 15 Episodes Of The Series
Fitz becomes a giant and nasty Kobick suspects trouble.

One of the best Kobick (Kevin Hagen) episodes, without question. He is a knockout in this hour!

Irwin Allen could make a silly impossible story seem almost real. Admiral Nelson and writer William Welch in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea could made the viewer think monsters were on a submarine. In Genius at Work, Irwin makes us think little people could become giants by taking a tablet. This story was done in a 1965 film (complete with Ron Howard) called - Village Of The Giants. I love that film, but as you would expect, they took the whole plot as a joke - but not Irwin Allen. Our "Master Of Disaster" knew better.

On top of all this, Gary Conway (Steve) is great in this hour, Ron Howard is fine, and John Williams music cues lifted from the pilot - The Crash - are used very well.

When a way out key event happens in the story, pay close attention and you will hear a brief music cue lifted from Lost In Space. Was this someone's way of saying: "hey, this show is getting as crazy as Lost In Space!", who knows?

In my opinion atleast, the Land Of The Giants series only had 15 knockout classics in the 51 episode run, several other hours were reasonably entertaining and we had a few bombs in season two, but gems like Genius At Work were what made this landmark series what it is.

Unstoppable
(2010)

Action & Disaster - A Runaway Train!
Chris Pine on a runaway rain.

Reasonably entertaining flick which is well acted and mostly well scripted. Before this I only knew Chris Pine as the guy who pretends to be William Shatner in those Star Trek movies so it is a welcome change to see him do this.

Perhaps this is just the middle aged man in me talking, but I was very aware of the endless quick edits in this flick? I know this is just how movies are made these days, but the viewer is meant to be thinking about the characters and story - not thinking about how the editing was done.

Also, the scenes of Chris Pine making phone calls to his loved ones might have been required to make him more human but I found myself saying: "get back to the train, I don't care about this".

But all things considered, Unstoppable is reasonably entertaining.

Lost in Space: Space Destructors
(1967)
Episode 6, Season 3

Reasonably Entertaining
Smith finds a cyborg-making making machine in a cave.

Not a classic but reasonably entertaining. The season three episodes before seemed to be getting away from the traditional season two "Will/Smith/Robot find something weird in a cave" theme, and here we are going back to it again. But, generally speaking, this is not done in the silly year two tone - so all is good.

The touching ending alone makes the whole hour worthwhile and it is nice to see Guy Williams (John Robinson) look so happy as he gets involved in a few fight scenes.

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea connection: this series had an episode - The Cyborg - where the cyborgs would all dress like these guys.

Fantastic Voyage (1966) connection - that tunnel thing the cyborgs climb out of was actually apart of the human body in Fantastic Voyage.

One Step Beyond
(1959)

Different To Twilight Zone & Outer Limits
Supernatural plots.

I did not see this series on the original run but rather just bumped into re-runs or Youtube screenings over the last 20 years. Screenings of The Twilight Zone (1959) and The Outer Limits (1963) have filled most of my life so I just can't help going into One Step Beyond without expecting monsters (aka bears) or moody Bernard Herrmann music cues.

And when I don't get this, I feel a little short changed. Don't mistake this as a negative review, I am just pointing out that I have always been presented with this sort of B&W series being done in a set way and when that way is missing - I feel a bit out of my comfort zone.

However, two episodes of One Step Beyond really put a smile on my face:

The Haunted U Boat (season one) - On a submarine, mysterious pounding can be heard on the hull of the ship.

Where Are They? (season three) - In a small town, mysterious rocks are falling from the sky.

In a nutshell, this series probably is as good as most are saying, just don't be like me and compare it so much to Twilight Zone or Outer Limits.

The Disappearance of Flight 412
(1974)

Military Boys With Secrets And Just TALK of A UFO
A suspected UFO is seen.

Don't expect anything too special here. if you just need 72 minutes to fill and have an interest the US military - the could be the movie for you.

Granted this is not The X Files, so you will get no love interest between the agents here, in fact I don' t think there is a single female in the cast.

It felt real to me and the dialogue was sharp and well written.

Military boys with secrets, this movie is okay.

The Love War
(1970)

Quality TV Movie With Strong Shades Of QM's The Invaders (1967)
Aliens are at war on earth...but nobody knows.

Other reviewers are often going on childhood memories but I am going on a 2020 You Tube screening - good flick! The only thing going against it, this secret alien takeover thing had been done before, and done so well, in the 60s Invaders series. So while I enjoyed The Love War - it felt like it was going over old ground.

Lead actress Angie Dickinson is a knockout in every way and this leads you to wonder if her talents were wasted when she later moved onto a routine cop show - Police Woman.

Despite a mushy title, this flick is great and the ending is a knockout.

Mayday at 40,000 Feet!
(1976)

Great Actors At 40,000 Feet.
Routine disaster movie but with a knockout cast.

With a couple of exceptions, I know the whole cast of this film from other productions of the 60s or 70s - be it be QM's The Fugitive or Earthquake or whatever! That is the appeal of this film. I joyfully walked down memory lane and turned a blind eye to some of the film's dull areas (before they all get on the plane).

But if you don't know and love the cast like me - you mind this flick too routine in plot to bother with?

My vote for most memorable character is the grumpy old doctor (played by Ray Milland).

It looks like 1976 was David Janssen's year of disaster movies as he appeared in the cinema released Two-Minute Warning in the same year.

The film features a brief racist remark that I never expected in a 70s network TV movie.

Directed by Robert Butler and this is the main talking point I have about this film. In the 60s Butler directed pilots and episodes of some of TV's greatest shows (Adam West Batman, Star Trek, QM's The Invaders) so whenever I see his name at the start of a film/show - I expect massive fireworks from what is to come. When we only get mild fireworks (as is the case here) I feel a little short changed.

Mayday at 40,000 Feet is okay.

Locusts
(1974)

Ron Howard Is Outstanding But The Movie...
Soldier boy Ron Howard seems like a coward and locusts are coming as well.

Always enjoyed some of Howard's early work (Village Of The Giants, one episode of Land Of The Giants) and found him just fine here as well. But for atleast 30 minutes we must listen to Howard and his painful dad carry on like fugitives from a mushy episode of The Waltons.

Anybody with half a brain could figure out how this flick was going to end. I think I watched the whole film when I was a kid of the 70s but my middle aged mind of today needed to fast forward to the film's predictable ending.

Lovers of Ron Howard might like this but if you are expecting anything that even comes close to Irwin Allen's The Swarm (1978) - stay clear of this film!

Seven in Darkness
(1969)

I Think Irwin Allen Was Watching
A group of blind people survive a plane crash.

This was probably a lot better in 1969 than it was in 2020. In the 70s several airplane disaster movies came out on TV or in cinemas, so this all seems way too routine now. Also, unlike the later versions, this sometimes features a way too obvious use of studio sets that replace location filming. And finally, the middle section of Seven In Darkness slows down to the point of boredom.

But the movie does have it's strong points, mainly the well directed ending which I dare not reveal. And the musical score was better (and more retro) than a lot of the later plane disaster shows.

I think Irwin Allen was watching and he later pinched ideas - Beyond The Poseidon Adventure (1979) had a blind guy and When Time Ran Out (1980) had a very long bridge walk that resembles this.

Basically, watch Seven In Darkness, but don't expect too much.

Kong: Skull Island
(2017)

The Monsters, The Cast, The 70s References - Love It
King Kong is back in....1973.

I am a middle aged guy who often goes for the retro or retro-style of Hollywood epics. When "Skull Island" was first advertised I just refused to see it in theatres, thinking it was just another angry, too fast paced CGI flick for 16 years old boys - was I wrong about this movie! I love it.

One of the best science fiction films of the 2010s, the CGI effects are fine, the cast is outstanding and the retro feel is well done.

A great movie for all ages.

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