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Beverly Hills Cop III

Pretty weak
Watched this for the first time last night, and was pretty disappointed (was on a triple bill with BHC 1 & 2 on Bravo, great way to ring in the New Year!).

Not overly funny, the villains were pretty weak, which is odd as John Saxon is usually pretty good as a bad guy, and Tim Carhart was great as Eddie Willows on CSI. Seemed very forced at times, and definitely lacked the Foley-Rosewood-Taggart chemistry that made the first two films so successful. Hector Elizondo is no replacement for John Ashton. The return of Bronson Pinchot as "Serge" was painful to watch.

5 out of 10, based more on Eddie Murphy's performance than anything else.

The Crazies

Could have been "Crazier"
A virus with the codename "Trixie" has been accidentally unleashed in Evans City, Pennsylvania. This virus either renders you totally and irreversibly insane or dead. The military have moved in and declared martial law on the citizens, without offering any explanation as to what is going on. The virus has already gotten to some of the citizens, and the military desperately tries to round up everyone to contain it's spread as much as possible, no matter what methods they have to use.

A group of 5 townspeople manage to break free from the roundup and escape. They make their way to the edge of the army boundary only to find that slowly but surely all of them but one has contracted the virus. As the Army bring in a specialist to try and figure out how to stop the virus, the madness continues to spread. Eventually the last of the escapees is rounded up, and with no sure in sight, the head of the military operation is told to pull out and head to another possibly infected area.

So goes the storyline to George A. Romero's 1973 film "The Crazies". This is only my 2nd Romero flick (the other being 1985's "Day of the Dead".) There are a few problems I had with "The Crazies".

Firstly, I was, as it says in my heading, expecting a little more "craziness". While Romero did show the effects of the virus on some people, such as Judy, Clank and Kathy, I found the episodic shots of the rest of the townspeople not really representative of the seriousness of the situation. With martial law declared and the people not being informed of what was truly going on, I figured there would be more resistance and retaliation. For me, the few scenes shown of the rest of the townspeople were sadly lacking in helping the viewer appreciate the seriousness of the situation.

Secondly, as far as I saw, there were but 2 people who were truly driven to madness by the virus. They would be the guy who set his house on fire at the beginning of the film, and Artie Bolman (Katie's dad) who raped his own daughter. Other than that I took the shooting and attacking of the military more as retaliation. Not any kind of madness. The bottom line here is that these ideas were just not fully followed-through with.

Other than those 2 rather big problems, I found there was a general sense of panic from the main characters, especially from David. You sympathized more for he and Judy than the rest of the town.

Overall, solid action, with a decent storyline (I would have loved to see the whole "madness" thing explored a little more) made for a pretty good 2nd Romero experience. I will be looking into seeing more of his work.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Big Meat Eater

Low budget junk
Terrible film made on a budget of about $9.99. Very obvious miniature sets used, poor acting and an awful storyline concerning aliens who use discarded meat from a butcher shop as fuel for their spaceship. The film contains some blood (not enough to disturb) and a character with an eggbeater replacing one of his hands. (Yes you read that correctly.)

One saving grace was a song performed at the "talent show" (how's that for irony?) by a punk/new wave band that I think was called "I'm A Heat Seeking Missile". Other than that, this is not worth your time, not even on a "so bad it's good" level. Watch if you are into cheesy alien films, but anyone else should steer clear.

Rating: 1 out of 10

Blazing Stewardesses

Connie Hoffman really only reason to watch
Scattershot movie made to capitalize on the "success" of "The Naughty Stewardesses". Rather painful to watch in spots, such as Yvonne De Carlo singing and the Ritz Brothers dancing!!! Nowhere near as good as "Naughty" was, with no real story. Regina Carrol's voice was grating and very annoying, not sure if she was dubbed or not, if she wasn't she sure gave one horrible performance here.

Appearance of the Ritz Brothers was funny in spots, but their dance routine was an embarrassment. Expected more nudity from an Al Adamson film, especially from the 3 female leads. On the DVD audio commentary Sam Sherman said at one stage Adamson wanted out of the project. It's too bad he didn't decide to go ahead with it.

Connie Hoffman looks awesome, as she did in "Naughty", and Marilyn Joi and Regina Carrol also look great, but that would really be the only reason to watch this. Recommended only for fans of Al Adamson.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Nice Dreams

More high times from Cheech and Chong
"Nice Dreams" has Cheech and Chong cruising around selling their unique 'ice cream'. Realizing they have made a ton of money, they go about trying to figure out what to do with their newfound wealth.

Along the way they encounter a crazy music agent who thinks Chong is Jerry Garcia, a coked-out Pee Wee Herman, Cheech's ex-love interest Donna and her old man Animal, who just happens to hate Mexicans.

On par "Cheech And Chongs Next Movie", "Nice Dreams" has some genuinely funny moments, such as Cheech getting stuck on top of the glass elevator naked, and when Cheech is locked away in the nut house. (Timothy Leary has a cameo as a drug-dispensing doctor.)

Wasted in this film was Stacy Keach as Sgt. Stedanko. He was awesome in "Up In Smoke", but has little to do here but smoke pot and turn into a lizard. Yes you read that right.

In my opinion, after "Up In Smoke", C&C never managed to hit the same level of success. Overall a fun movie, but not up to the level of previous efforts.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Cannibal Holocaust

Interesting, slightly disturbing film
This is another in the long line of films that you hear so much about that if you are at all curious, you have to see.

I bought a copy off of eBay after having downloaded a version a year ago.I only skipped through the downloaded copy to see if what all of the reviews were saying was true.

For the most part the reviews were right. This is a pretty disturbing film. The thought of cannibalistic tribes existing is not a pleasant thought. Some of the images are a bit shocking, there is no question. There are scenes of animals being killed. While this is a common occurrence, and is something that can be seen on the Discovery Channel, it seems a little too much as it is presented here. Yes, the tribes had to live off of food they caught and killed. It's just a bit too much to include for the sake of a film.

There is also a lot of rape and brutalization of women. In one gruesome scene, an adulterous woman gets raped, with a stone, has mud stuffed into her, and is bludgeoned to death with the same stone. In another scene, a pregnant tribe member literally has a fetus pulled from her and then the fetus is buried in the mud. The woman is then stoned by other female villagers.

The cannibal scenes themselves are not the most gory part of the film. Yes the tribes do eat human meat, but they are not ripping and gnawing at anyone as you might expect. The fate of the original camera crew is indeed brutal, and in fact was partly brought on by the way they treated the natives. The four Americans did savage and provoke the tribes into further violent behavior. Not to excuse cannibalism by any means, but as Professor Monroe says, "I wonder who are the savages"? I found it hard to feel any sympathy for the documentary film crew. They were a pretty idiotic bunch, and as stated previously they treated the tribes terribly. Prof. Monroe was easy to side with, as he clearly saw that the concern over the film crew was overshadowing their nasty behavior, and lust for making a ground-breaking film. It was only towards the end of the film that I could sympathize with Faye, as she was the only one with any conscience.

One thing I found so odd about this film was the soundtrack. The theme playing during the opening and closing credits seemed a little too happy for such a serious movie. As for the rest of the music it was great, and fit very well with the feel and look of the film.

All in all, not a bad film. Deodato did a great job with the jungle locations (though the editing was a bit choppy). Pretty much what I expected after reading the hype.

Rating: 6 out of 10

The Osterman Weekend

Better than I remembered
It's been at least 10 years since I last saw this film, and I recently purchased the Anchor Bay release. I have to say they did an excellent job with this 2-disc release.

One of the things I remembered about this film was there was a lot of talking and very little action. Upon seeing it again, that is indeed not the case. While Peckinpah uses conversation to set up the story, it is not as long-winded and time consuming as I had perceived.

Rutger Hauer is John Tanner, who is what today would be called an "investigative journalist". He hosts a show called "Face to Face" on which he confronts his guests with the truth. Tanner is lured into a plot involving rogue CIA agent Lawrence Fassett, a plot in which Tanner is to think his three best friends are enemy agents.

John Hurt is very convincing as the crazed Fassett. Using Tanner as a pawn to get back at the CIA, and specifically Maxwell Danforth (Burt Lancaster)Hurt does a masterful job playing everyone off of each other, all due to the fact that the CIA had his wife murdered.

Hauer is also solid as Tanner. Faced with the danger of having 3 KGB agents in his house, and around his family, Tanner does what he can to protect them. The rest of the cast are strong, with Dennis Hopper, Craig T Nelson and Chris Sarandon as Tanner's buddies. Nelson stands out the most out of these 3, as Bernie Osterman.

Despite being on the downside of his career, Peckinpah once again gives us a timeless film. Using video surveillance as a backdrop, Peckinpah shows us how TV can be an addictive force in our lives.

Also on the Anchor Bay DVD set are two gems: a fantastic 78-minute documentary on the making of the film, "Alpha to Omega, with cast interviews (minus Dennis Hopper) and producers Peter Davis and William Panzer. This inside look on the making of the film, and the problems surrounding it is a must-watch. All in all the cast enjoyed working with Peckinpah, despite his reputation. Also included is Sam Peckinpah's rough cut of the film, which he refused to edit and was subsequently fired over. Peckinpah indeed had a few different ideas as to how he saw the story.

This film definitely was better than I remembered. A strong cast coupled with one of the all-time great directors, "The Osterman Weekend" is well worth seeing.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS

Shocking, but...
This is another in the growing list of movies that are deemed shocking, disturbing and controversial that I find are a lot more tame than they are said to be.

For me it started with "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". After reading how people had reacted to it back in 1974, I had to see it. Well, it was pretty horrible in my opinion. Not shocking or gory, just silly and maybe a little creepy.

The "Ilsa" series fits into this category. I had read that the series was shocking, and had to check out what all the fuss was.I watched the Ilsa trilogy last night, and while I can see some of the hype about these films was true, yet again I found myself looking for more.

"Ilsa She Wolf of the SS" features Dyanne Thorne as Ilsa, the warden st Medical Camp # 9. The camp is used to conduct "medical research" that is to aid the SS during WW2. Women prisoners are injected with viruses, tortured with electroshock and whipped to test their tolerance for pain. Ilsa also conducts private research, more or less for pleasure purposes.

Some of the violence is a little graphic. We see a fair bit of blood, and in one instance, they are performing surgery on a prisoner's vagina. Maggots are injected with a virus and allowed to eat away at a prisoner's flesh. One of the female prisoners is left a bloody mess after 3 days of torture. In others it is left to your imagination, such as the castration of a male prisoner and the use of an electrified dildo on the female inmates. During a dinner scene, another female prisoner is hanging from a noose and bound at the hands and feet with only a block of ice supporting her.

As for nudity, there is also plenty of that. The prisoners are routinely shown without clothes, and the lovely Miss Thorne also has a fair share of topless shots.

Having said all that, I still felt that it was not quite as shocking as I had anticipated. Not that it is ever pleasant to see people being tortured and raped. With the reputation this film had I guess I expected it to be much worse.

It's a sad statement on today's society when one reacts so calmly to such a movie. To me, I think some of the shock value may have come from the setting and the storyline. A Nazi prison camp, set during WW2. That certainly does bring up all sorts of disturbing and horrifying images.

All in all, while a little less shocking than I was planning for, this was a pretty good film. Anchor Bay did a wonderful job restoring the movie, and put together a nice package along with "Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks" and "The Wicked Warden".

Also check out the audio commentary with Thorne, director Don Edmunds and producer David Freidman. Despite the flack that this movie has received, none of the principal people involved seem to have any regrets. (Despite this, Freidman, along with a lot of the other actors used pseudonyms. Freidman claimed it was as a result of a dispute with the Canadian financiers. Thorne is on record as saying the she has indeed suffered a little career-wise after using her real name on the Ilsa films).

Rating: 8 out of 10

Bad Taste

Just as gory as I anticipated.
Well, all I have left to see from Peter Jackson's filmography is the "LOTR" trilogy. To be honest I am not all that interested in seeing it.

What to say about "Bad Taste". One of the most unusual movies I have ever seen. Not really what I thought the film would be like, I have to say. Jackson makes excellent use of New Zealand locations as the backdrop for a gang of aliens who have landed on Earth to slaughter humans for fast food.

The gore level was quite high. Maybe not quite as bad as "Dead Alive", but it certainly was up there. Lots of spurting blood, intestines and brain matter to be seen. Jackson's role as Derek was priceless, as he spent the latter part of the movie trying to keep his brains from oozing out the back of his head, using whatever he can find to keep things in place.

All in all this was a great laugh. The aliens were pretty solid, especially Doug Wren as the alien leader. The gore was satisfactory, and as I said Peter Jackson pretty much steals the show. Check out his car as well, it's a riot.

Rating: 8 out of 10

50 First Dates

This must have been a blast to film!!
Adam Sandler stars as Henry Roth, a veterinarian who is into one-night-stands with beautiful tourists on the island of Hawaii. He constantly makes up lies to get out gracefully. His womanizing ways come to a quick end when he meets Lucy (Drew Barrymore). There is only one problem, Lucy has no short-term memory, and Henry finds himself having to introduce himself to Lucy each and every day, with varying results.

Sandler is his usual self here, (the goofy, likable type). Drew Barrymore looks awesome, and does a great job as Lucy. She has to deal with the discovery that for the last year, she has been doing exactly the same thing each and every day, due to the car accident. Sean Astin, with a hilarious role as Lucy's steroid-popping brother, and Blake Clarke as her father do an excellent job of keeping the unfortunate truth from her. Rob Schneider is fantastic as Ula, a coworker of Henry's and a complete stoner.I couldn't help think of Cheech Marin watching Schneider's performance.

Overall a pretty good film. The Hawaiian location is a beautiful, and Sandler brings his usual cast of buddies along for bit parts.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Bodigaado Kiba

Hard to know what to say...
After watching "The Bodyguard" last night, I felt compelled to write a review of it.

This could have been a pretty decent movie had it not been for the awful camera-work. It was beyond annoying. The angles were all wrong, it was impossible to see anything, especially during the fight sequences. The closeups were even horrible.

The story has Sonny Chiba hiring himself out as a bodyguard to anyone willing to lead him to the top of a drug ring. He is approached by Judy Lee, who is never quite straight with Chiba. Lee's involvement in the drug ring is deeper than Chiba thought, as the Mob and another gang of thugs are after her.

The story was decent, and despite horrible dubbing, this could have been a good movie. Given better direction and editing, I'm sure this would have been a classic Kung Foo movie. As it is, it's more like another cheesy 70's action movie.

Note: The opening sequence has a quote familiar to "Pulp Fiction" fans, and then continues to a karate school in Times Square that is in no way related to the rest of the movie.

Rating: 4 out of 10

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers

A bit better than the first one
After watching the first two entries in the "Sleepaway Camp" series, it's quite clear that they took the idea in a completely different direction. While SC 1 was more serious, SC2 had some comic elements and definitely benefited from having Pamela Springsteen as Angela.

Springsteen still portrays the confused and very much psychotic Angela as Felissa Rose did in SC 1, but Pam brings a definite lighter side to the role. In SC 1 rarely did Angela seem happy (I can remember maybe one or two instances). In SC 2, Angela was seen sometimes as cheerful, even though the other campers definitely saw her "bitchy" side.

Overall the violence was rather tame. The way Angela killed Ally was the most disturbing. Other than the beheading all of the violence was left to the viewers imagination. (though we did see some if it in Angela's dream).

Better than the first movie in my opinion. I was not impressed with the quality of the transfer to DVD on SC 1, and this one is not much better. I guess we should be thankful that such companies as Legacy Entertainment are willing to put the older cult movies out.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Yes Minister

One of the all-time great comedies
I was very happy when I saw "Yes, Minister" available on DVD. It used to run on YTV here in Canada a few years back, and I would try to catch it whenever I could. To have the entire series in one DVD set is an excellent addition to my collection.

The show itself concerns Jim Hacker, the Minister of Administrative Affairs and his staff. Paul Eddington is fantastic as the hapless Hacker. His staff includes Humphrey Appleby and Bernard Wooley. Of the few roles I have seen Nigel Hawthorne in, I would have to say that this was by far his best ever. He portrays a civil servant who really truly believes that it is he and not the Minister that runs the department, with perfection. Derek Fowlds is also brilliant as Bernard, the dry-witted personal secretary.

The show, despite it's obvious comic content, gave a very real portrait of the bureaucratic red tape that almost all government has. I find the exchanges between Hacker and Humphrey hilarious, as poor Jim can never understand what it is Humphrey is saying, as a result of Sir Humphrey's very proper and precise English. Bernard also supplies some great lines as well.

"Yes, Minister" is definitely one of the Top 10 all-time greatest comedies. The next purchase I will be making is the "Yes, Prime Minister" DVD set.

Rating: 10 out of 10

The Last House on the Left

Another "shocking" movie that was a let down....
***Spoilers contained in review***

With all the fuss surrounding "The Last House On The Left" I figured I'd better check it out. Well, while it was not a bad movie, I was terribly disappointed in the final result. Much the same with the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". I can see how both films were shocking for the time, and I guess siting here 30 years later it's easy to say I am not at all shocked by the content in either of these films. But I am not at all shocked. I guess that's a sad statement on today's society.

LHOTL was a grainy, dirty movie. The characters of Krug, Weasel and Junior were slimy looking as well as being scummy people. I did find Krug to be a genuinely creepy character, but the character of Weasel came off more as a wanna-be henchman as opposed to a cold blooded maniac. The role of Junior was played rather effectively as well.

As Wes Craven and Sean Cunningham say on the DVD commentary, they wanted to make a movie like no one had seen before. Back in 1972 I think they certainly accomplished that. But in the 33 years since LHOTL, it has lost a lot of it's shock value. Not to say that I condone rape, torture or any other type of abuse. I think even in movies that sometimes can be carried way too far.

I couldn't help but feel that the two victims were not truly terrified. After a while it seemed they were becoming aware of their predicament, but I felt it took far too long for both of them to realize what their fate would be. It's as if they were just accepting the circumstances, even though they both tried escaping.

Overall an interesting look at the darker side of humanity, but I felt that it could have used some fine tuning to make it even better.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Black Mama White Mama

Great action, beautiful locations & Pam Grier!!!
What else needs to be said? Pam Grier and Margaret Markov are excellent as escaped prisoners who are chained at the wrist and are on the run from the cops and a vengeful drug lord. Throw in a band of revolutionaries who are looking for Karen (Markov) and Sid Haig as a music-loving gang leader and it all adds up to a classic sleazy 70's exploitation film.

Other than some bad dialogue dubbing thing move along at a pretty good pace. Grier and Markov eventually learn to get along (like they really have a choice!!) and use whatever methods they can to get to their separate destinations.

While certainly not a masterpiece, "Black Mama, White Mama" is worth a look.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Sleepaway Camp

I know it was supposed to be cheesy, but....
I recently purchased "Sleepaway Camp" on eBay, more as a curiosity than anything else as Parts 2 and 3 were broadcast on IFC a few months ago. I am not a huge fan of horror movies, more so a fan of cult movies. I felt I had to check this movie out after watching the other two parts.

Compared to the rest of the series, SC 1 is a more "serious" horror movie. While I found SC 2&3 aimed more for a comedic angle, SC 1 had the feel of a classic 80's slasher film. While my expectations were not that high to begin with, I have to say I was a little disappointed in the film.

To begin with, the copy of the DVD I purchased was released by a company called Legacy Entertainment Inc. I found the quality of the video very poor, in all aspects. The sound and picture were of a very low caliber. Maybe that was all they had to work with, and normally this can add to a movie's charm. But not here. It was more of an annoyance and a distraction.

Secondly, after reading some of the other user comments on SC 1 I think it's fair to say I was expecting more in the way of gore. While there were some clever ideas, I thought they wern't explored as fully as they could have been.

All in all for an 80's horror film it was halfway decent. At a fairly short 88 minutes it was an OK time filler, but really only worth checking out if you have an interest in cult movies.

Rating: 5 out of 10

The Godfather

Set the precedent...
It's been a few years since I have seen this film, but it is definitely one of the all-time classics. I would give it a '10' but I find the length drags it down a little. Other than that deserving of belonging in the Top 250 films. However, I would not give it #1. I would have to reserver that honor for Sergio Leone's "The Good The Bad and The Ugly". "The Godfather" did give us some awesome performances, one of the only Brando roles I truly enjoyed. As well my 2nd favorite Coppola film (1st being "The Conversation").I think it's worth repeat viewing, and a definite keeper in a movie lover's collection. Bottom line a solid '8', with a desire to see it again soon.

Boat Trip

Watched for ONE reason only
I caught this movie one night while channel surfing, and unfortunately watched it until the end. The one reason? Not Cuba Gooding Jr, who has done good work in the past. Not Roger Moore, who was a great James Bond. No it was for the beautiful, absolutely stunning Roselyn Sanchez. I had never heard of her before this god-awful movie, so if anything good came out of the experience, it was discovering the lovely Miss Sanchez. Terrible homosexual stereotypes, all-around bad script, weak supporting cast, didn't even laugh at Horatio Sanz at all. The Swedish Bikini Team were nice to look at as well, but not enough to make anyone run out and rent this waste of time. 1 star out of 5 for the eye-candy.

The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington

The first "Happy Hooker" movie was actually watchable. It kept your interest fairly evenly. As for this piece of trash, it was not all that interesting, and was very horribly acted. You can't even value it for the camp value, or write it off as "well it was made in 1977". Cheesy story, and as I said the acting was less than amateur. The scenes with "The Shiek" were embarrassing, and the perpetually tanned George Hamilton as Xaviera Hollander's lawyer was awful. Billy Barty as a vertically-challanged CIA agent was just wrong. Harold Sakata was billed as Harold "Odd Job" Sakata, and his character was just as the credit suggests. Joey Heatherton looked great, but that's about it. For a film with the words "Happy Hooker" in the title, one would expect to see more nudity. Minor titilation wrapped around one badly-made movie. 0 stars out of 5.

The Rockford Files

The theme song is even played at hockey games....
I remember my father watching "The Rockford Files" when it first came on the air, I was too young to remember it then, but was able to catch it on re-runs on A&E a few years back, and it is currently shown on two channels here in Canada. James Garner is the easy-going, laid back Jim Rockford. He has a big heart, yet always seems to come out on the short end of the stick. Garner does an excellent job as Rockford, and while I haven't seen much of his other work, he seems to play the same character. Some great supporting actors as well. Noah Beery as the worried father Rocky, Joe Santos as his put-upon cop buddy Dennis. One of my all-time favorite characters has to be Angel Martin, played perfectly by Stewart Margolin, the con "buddy" of Jim's. Very clever opening to each show, with the answering machine message. Obviously dated by the styles and settings, but still an excellent series that stands up well today. I'd give the series as a whole a solid 5 out of 5 stars.

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