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May 2020 In Review

With the amount of down time I’ve had at the office during this era of a world pandemic my movie count is still running at a high number though I must admit to doing far less writing on the subject. The reason is rather simple, with the amount of free time on my hands I’ve decided to catch up on as many films as possible that I’ve had sitting on the shelves here for far too long. Some longer than I’ll ever admit to. Such is the life of a collector.

One film series I began in April and am still binging on are the original series of Zatoichi films starring Shintaro Katsu that ran from 1962 thru to 1973. 25 titles in all and I’ve now gone though 21 (12 this month) and have pretty much enjoyed every second of every film and can only recommend you yourself look into them if you haven’t already.

Doomwatch – Ian Bannen thriller that’s easy to recommend.

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) No idea how many times I’ve seen this but picked up an imported blu ray so had to give it a go.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) I know I saw this Hitchcock thriller as a teenager in what was a poor copy so I gave the Criterion edition a go. Impressive.

Heart of a Dragon (1985) Number 1 son, Ethan, has been on a Jackie Chan kick so we cracked open another blu ray. His not mine. Not what I expected overall with Jackie joining Sammo Hung who co-starred and directed.

The Candidate (1972) Long overdue I finally watched this Redford flick that sees him entering the world of politics under the watchful eye of Peter Boye. Easy to recommend.

Rumble On the Docks (1956) A mixture of rebellious teens and hoods on the docks with James Darren, Robert Blake and Timothy Carey. Another fun title in the Noir blu ray collection volume 2.

Universal Horror Collection Volume 3 from Scream Factory. Price, Karloff, Rathbone, Lugosi and Atwill set to terrorizing viewers in a quartet of titles on blu ray.

The Wild Bunch (1969) Never gets old and since Number 2 son, Kirk, was going to watch it I sat in …. again.

The Negotiator (1998) I hadn’t seen this since the theater and while I’ll admit to it being “theatrical” at times, what’s not to like with Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, David Morse, J.T. Walsh and a great turn from Paul Giamatti as a low level thief watching Jackson verbally spar with Spacey for a good majority of the film.

The Night Heaven Fell (1958) Broadening my viewing experiences I thought I’d more or less introduce myself to a Vadim/Bardot film. Couldn’t help but think while watching this it’s no wonder the young men of North America wanted to see the films of Brigitte Bardot at the time. Plenty of sex and bits of nudity. The subject material you never quite saw in Gidget or Pillow Talk. Not a bad film either.

The Crooked Web (1955) Another flick off that Noir Vol. 2 edition is a tangled tale of deceit with Frank Lovejoy, Mari Blanchard and Richard Denning.

Man on Fire (1987) Before Denzel redid it in 2004, Scott Glenn, starred in an earlier version that to me was an uneven effort. Won’t argue with anyone who didn’t like it or those who loved it. Me, I’ll gladly revisit the Denzel edition before giving this another go. For the record, Joe Pesci was wasted.

The Getaway (1972) Again it’s Kirk on a Peckinpah kick so I’m sitting in …. again. Gotta love it when your two sons are following Dad’s lead on movies and film history.

Hearts and Souls (1993) The boys picked this one for Mother’s Day as they know she loves the film. As do I. If you haven’t seen this little gem look for it. Great cast led by Robert Downey Jr.

True Believer (1990) Again with Robert Downey Jr. thanks to Kirk who took my recommendation that he check this one out that stars James Woods as a jaded lawyer who takes on a young apprentice played by Downey and then promptly gets involved in an old murder case.

The Passage – Anthony Quinn takes the lead but it’s Malcolm McDowell who brings the ham.

Code 7 … Victim 5 (1964) Lex Barker gets his fingers bloodied in this murder mystery that’s passable but I much preferred the second feature of this double bill starring Steve Cochran , Mozambique (1964). Steve gets caught up in murder against the back drop of the Victoria Falls. Filmed on location it’s a feast for the eyes. Both films are from exploitation producer Harry Alan Towers if you’re interested.

Daylight (1996) Sly Stallone’s shot at playing a Charlton Heston like role in a disaster picture. Sly plays the hero when a tunnel collapses on each end and begins to flood leaving those trapped inside little chance of survival. So-so.

The Deadly Mantis – Another Scream Factory blu ray off the waiting to be opened shelf.

The Hero and the Terror (1988) Admittedly a bit different from the Chuckster. Kind of a horror film, kind of an action film and kind of a love story with Chuck looking to marry and raise a family.

Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960) Hammer Films weren’t all horror back in the day. Here we get a Robin Hood tale with Richard Greene as the man in tights opposite Peter Cushing as the Sheriff of Nottingham. No it’s not Errol Flynn but it’s entertaining.

The Psychic (1977) A decent Giallo thriller and nowhere near as grotesque as some of those other Lucio Fulci directed horrors.

The Magnetic Monster (1953) Honestly this felt like a 4 hour film it was so boring….. I’d much rather watch leading man Richard Carlson in It Came From Outer Space or The Creature From the Black Lagoon. The only time I came out of my stupor was when character favorites Strother Martin and Kathleen Freeman made appearances.

Bait – Cleo Moore and John Agar go hunting for gold in this Sierra Madre like tale.

The Robe (1953) Big budget splendour from Fox starring Richard Burton, Jean Simmons and Victor Mature. The money’s all on the screen and a worthwhile venture if you haven’t seen it. Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954)  I much prefer this sequel to The Robe as far as entertainment value goes. Vic Mature returns in the lead role and finds his Christianity tested in the arena and the bed of Susan Hayward.

The Enforcer (1976) and Sudden Impact (1984) The third and fourth films of the Dirty Harry franchise are comic book by this time but when Clint’s on the screen they work. Push comes to shove, The Enforcer is the better of the two but Sudden Impact has an all time great one-liner, “Go ahead. Make my day.”

The Strangeness (1980) Ultra low-budget horror title I had lying around of a closed up mine that may have some gold in it but definitely has a stop motion animation creature lurking in the darkness.

Pier 5, Havana – Cameron Mitchell low budget Noir with Allison Hayes joining him in the Cuban sunshine.

The Gun That Won the West (1955) Low tier western from William Castle as Dennis Morgan’s career winds down.

House of the Seven Gables (1940) Bewitched by a family curse, George Sanders, looks to cheat his brother Vincent Price out of a family fortune.

No Way Out (1987) I kind of like this political murder mystery with Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman but it overplays it’s hand in the final two minutes and damn near ruins the entire picture.

Death Spa (1987) Supernatural shenanigans abound at the local gym. You know the one where good looking women all shower together free from clothing, towels and private stalls. Horror fans will surely recognize Ken Foree who works at the fitness center.

The Texan – Early Gary Cooper western with lovely Fay Wray as a south of the border lovely catching Coop’s eye and making him go straight.

The Bat People (1974) Another Scream Factory blu ray. This one has it’s moments and reminds me just why bats make me cringe. Great make-up FX down the stretch when those bat transformations take a hold of our leading players.

Spasms – Previously featured but as I’ve since acquired a blu ray release to replace that VHS tape I’ve had collecting dust ….. Oliver Reed and Peter Fonda are all you really need to know.

Highway 301 – Steve Cochran scores a bullseye as a vicious thug in this violent Noir.

The Intruder (2019) This thriller with Dennis Quaid worked for me. Imagine purchasing a nice piece of property in the countryside with a wonderful house sitting on it. Nothing could be better right? But what if the guy you bought it from doesn’t seem to want to leave and relinquish his grounds keeping duties to you? The tension rises and while it won’t go down as his most memorable film, I think Quaid delivers a suitably creepy performance as that guy who just can’t let go.

Hardcore (1979) This one comes with my highest recommendation but it’s tough subject material. If anything, this one should remind all of us just how commanding a presence George C. Scott carried with him on the screen when he committed himself to a project. Really a forgotten gem of that decade. If it’s passed you by discover it for yourself and get wrapped up in Scott’s agony and ultimately his mission.

Original Gangstas (1996) Larry Cohen gets the old gang back together for a return to the days of the blaxploitation action pic. He’s brought along Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, Jim “Slaughter” Brown, Pam “Foxy Brown” Grier, Richard “Shaft” Roundtree, Ron “Superfly” O’Neal and a few other faces we’re sure to know and love like Grier’s Jackie Brown romantic interest, Robert Forster. All that’s missing is Isaac Hayes.

The Man Who Loved Women (1983) Not sure how this one escaped me but better late then never. Blake Edwards flick with his wife Julie playing Burt Reynolds analyst who can’t help herself and falls for our leading man. Better than I expected and a real good turn by Burt as the man who just can’t help himself with the ladies. This includes an extended romp with Kim Basinger. Just didn’t like the wrap up but glad I finally sat in on this one.

American Gangster (2007) Solid gangland tale with Denzel and Russell and as much as I enjoyed it for the first time since it’s release it’s still not “Scorsese epic.” Great cast here for Ridley Scott including Josh Brolin and Armand Assante which had me wondering, “How come Assante never wound up in any of Marty’s gangster pics?”

And to wrap up the month of May I returned to my childhood when Ray Harryhausen was a God. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973). Pretty sure I saw this at the theater as a little fellah thanks to Mom. And by the way, I still look upon Ray as a God when it comes to the magic of movies.

If my count is correct that’s 60 in total. Hopefully I’ve sparked an interest in something or rekindled a love for an old favorite. As I’m sometimes asked where all these titles come from, 1 was viewed on cable, 1 streamed on line, 1 from my son’s growing collection while the others all reside on my shelf. 44 on blu ray. 13 on DVD.

Cheers one and all and thanks for the visit. Drop me a line with your score card on the above titles. How many of these have you seen?

11 Comments »

  1. Well I don’t know what to even say!!! It just goes on and on! Dude that list is bonkers. Way too many to comment on but I really want to see Mozambique, The Crooked Web and I gotta watch The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) soon.

    I’m ashamed to say I don’t believe I’ve seen the Shintaro Katsu Zstoichi films. Maybe rented one on VHS. I have seen the Beat Takeshi take in The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi (2003). Looks like I need to be investigating a BIG boxset.

    I fancy chilling with Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954). Never seen that.

    I’ve seen Hardcore in my youth, remember bits. Remember it being a tough watch but a really great acted performance from GCS aka my granddad. It’s been hoovering around the list to watch again. But that subject matter. When are you in the mood for that! Gotta bite the bullet soon.

    Big LOL on the cover artwork and title —– DEATH SPA (Unrated)

    • Death Spa is a one time watch but what the hell. Demetrius was one I watched a lot as a kid growing up and it’s got Ernest Borgnine as the trainer at the gladiator school. Hope you get into these Zatoichi flicks. I’ve got three to go out of the 25 in the original series and even son #2 is now up to seeing the first 9 I think. Like me he’s hooked. Hardcore is the GCS show all the way. So much to see and with the totals running high these past two months I’m on target for a record year of films watched…. but then I’m back to work so who knows for June.

      • Ernest Borgnine as the trainer at the gladiator school so rings a bell! Maybe I have seen it as a kid but never knew the title. Either way I really need a weekend matinee screening soon.
        Yep there no chance I’m gonna be seeing 28 Zatoichi movies for sometime but do you have a top three? To start me off or is it too hard to choose?
        PS I keep forgetting to implement that “watch list” post tip you gave me some years back. To write them in as you watch them in draft. I keep putting them in a note and it always takes longer than it should. Next time I will endeavour to heed to your sage advice.

        • A top three are kind of tough in part because when you binge they blur together. I will say the first three or so are solid and one quickly falls in love with the character. I did like one of the later ones that stands out titled Zatoichi’s Cane Sword. Time to now sit down and watch the 24th film……

  2. My oh my, another hefty month of film-watching…I checked my count for May just now, and it was a paltry 17! And to make matters worse, I wrapped up the month with ‘Howard the Duck’! But anyway, from your 60 above, I’ve seen 13, and most of the others I’d never even heard of before! But some good ones of the ones I’ve seen…saw ‘The Wild Bunch’ at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, on a GIANT screen…saw ‘The Deadly Mantis’ for the first time on Svengoolie a few weeks back, and it wasn’t as bad as I’d expected…’The Enforcer’ was my first R-rated movie seen at a theater, and I still think it’s a lot of fun, and much better than ‘Sudden Impact’…and I actually kinda liked ‘Daylight’!

    And remember: “YOU’LL SWEAT BLOOD!”

    • Honestly I have yet to see Howard the Duck! So should I? I would love to see The Wild Bunch on a big screen. Congrads. I recall you featuring all the Dirty Harry films and if I’m correct you felt Impact the weakest of the lot. I’ve just got to revisit Dead Pool this month and will have re-watched the entire series since the lockdown. Been years but I recall thinking it was a bit of a dud. On the flip side I saw Impact at the theater which was a big deal at the time so on that note it does hold a special place in this wanna be tough guys heart.

      • A part of me wants to tell you yes, you must see Howard the Duck to believe it, and to be amazed at how awful it is…and the other half says, skip this piece of crud at all costs, because it will in no possible way enhance or forward your life in any way.

        Do you know how, in old-time theaters, when the movie was about to begin, the curtains would open to the left and right? At the Cinerama Dome for The Wild Bunch, the curtains opened to the left and right…and another set opened UP AND DOWN! That screen was HUGE!

        I feel the exact same way about Sudden Impact that you do…I was so happy that Clint was back in a Dirty Harry film, and my Dad and I went to see it at a single-screen theater that no longer exists, so it holds a special memory for me as well. And until those reviews of mine a few years ago, I’d thought Dead Pool was the worst of the bunch as well, but not anymore, and now I’m curious to see if you feel the same way about it when you watch it as I do.

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