Short Takes: F

Fantasy Mission Force (1983)

Producer: Hsiao Yin Shen (as Shen Hsiao-Yin)
Director: Yen-Ping Chu (as Chu Yen Ping)
Screenwriter: Hsin Wei

This bizarre action-comedy features a number of laugh-out-loud moments but its silliness is relentless. During World War II, some generals are kidnapped by the Japanese military. After deciding that various heroes will not do (including Rocky Balboa), they send in Yu Wang (Master of the Flying Guillotine) who assembles a team of misfits including Brigitte Lin (Police Story) and Jackie Chan (Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow). As usual for Word War II films, it includes a haunted house sequence with Chinese hopping vampires.

There is a free print of Fantasy Mission Force on Archive.org but it is cropped and of so-so quality (and I think it is copyrighted). No one has released this on disc with reasonable quality. But you can certainly get a better copy than the horrible ones online. Use your judgment.

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Producer: Neal H Moritz
Director: Rob Cohen
Screenwriters: Gary Scott Thompson and Erik Bergquist and David Ayer (story: Gary Scott Thompson)

A cop goes undercover with a group of illegal street racers to find a crime ring. But he bonds with the group and must decide if he will turn on them or the police.

There’s a reason this film spawned countless sequels. It’s great to look at with strong action and a clear and compelling story. It’s also way more earnest than we normally see from films of the last several decades.

Starring Paul Walker (Timeline), Vin Diesel (Riddick), Michelle Rodriguez (Girlfight), Jordana Brewster (The Faculty), and Rick Yune (The Fifth Commandment).

The Fast and the Furious is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with some nice extras. Or you could get the Fast & Furious 8-Movie Collection on DVD or Blu-ray.

14 March 2021

Fast Company (1975)

Producer: Michael Lebowitz, Phil Savath, and Courtney Smith
Director: David Cronenberg
Screenwriter: Phil Savath & Courtney Smith and David Cronenberg (Story: Alan Treen)

A corrupt oil company supporter of drag racers tries to screw over racing legend.

This is the strangest film David Cronenberg every made in that it is a typical racing melodrama. Other than oil being poured on a woman’s bare bests, there doesn’t seem to be any Cronenberg present — and even it is underwhelming. Still, it’s definitely psychotronic and must-viewing by Cronenberg fans.

Starring William Smith (The Frisco Kid) and Claudia Jennings (‘Gator Bait) shortly before her untimely death. Featuring John Saxon (Enter the Dragon), Nicholas Campbell (Naked Lunch), Don Francks (Johnny Mnemonic), Cedric Smith (Avonlea), Judy Foster, and George Buza.

Fast Company is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with extras that don’t come with most Cronenberg films that are far superior (eg, Maps to the Stars).

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

Producers: Russ and Eve Meyer
Director: Russ Meyer
Screenwriter: Jack Moran (story: Russ Meyer)

This is Russ Meyer’s masterpiece. It manages to combine most of Meyer’s kinky obsessions with a great script and a beautifully rendered film. It tells the story of three chesty go-go dancers out looking to cause trouble and steal a bunch of cash. The beta woman is kind of sympathetic owing to her obvious lesbianism and attraction to the alpha woman (who knows and uses it against her). Lots of fighting, scheming, racing, and murdering. It’s a psychotronic essential. You can’t help but love it.

The film features Tura Satana (The Astro-Zombies), Haji (Motorpsycho!), and Lori Williams as the go-go dancers. Susan Bernard plays Linda, the “good girl.” She would go on to pose in Playboy where she is thought to be the first Jewish Playmate of the Month in December 1966. It also features Paul Trinka (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea series) and Stuart Lancaster (Godmonster of Indian Flats).

The film is copyrighted. It is currently only available in one expensive DVD with virtually no digital extras (it has a booklet and a couple of other things).

The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)

Producer: Gene Gutowski
Director: Roman Polanski
Screenwriters: Roman Polanski and Gérard Brach

A very old vampire hunter and his assistant come to a town where the presence of garlic shows they are close. They find a whole community of vampires while searching for a kidnapped young woman.

This film is made very much in the style of Tom Jones. It’s clearly well-made but the comedy didn’t really work for me. I could see it was meant to be funny. And it was certainly silly. But it’s still worth watching. The acting is very good and the sets are marvelous. And you might think it’s hilarious!

Starring Jack MacGowran (The Exorcist), Roman Polanski, Sharon Tate (The Wrecking Crew), and Ferdy Mayne (Pirates).

The Fearless Vampire Killers is under copyright. You can get it on DVD or Blu-ray with a featurette.

Fiend (1980)

Producer: Cinema Enterprises
Director/Screenwriter: Don Dohler

A mythological fiend takes over a dead body and must kill to maintain its youth. Also: provide music lessons for suburban Baltimore.

This is a highly effective, if campy, stalker film.

Starring Donald Leifert (The Alien Factor) with a particularly silly mustache. Featuring George Stover (Blood Massacre), Richard Nelson, and Elaine White.

Fiend is under copyright. It is available as an old Retro Media DVD and a great Massacre Video Blu-ray that just came out.

Fighting With My Family (2019)

Producers: Kevin Misher and Dwayne Johnson & Dany Garcia and Stephen Merchant
Director: Stephen Merchant
Screenwriter: Stephen Merchant (book: Max Fisher)

The daughter of a British professional wrestling family gets a chance at the WWE. She struggles as does her older brother who did not get the nod. But everything works out in the end. This is the truish story of professional wrestler Paige.

The beginning of this film works really well — as does most everything that takes place in the UK. The stuff in the US is the standard melodrama of every sports movie you ever saw. This should appeal to people who hate professional wrestling because it’s “fake.” It’s a bit sentimental for actual fans.

Starring Florence Pugh (The Falling), Jack Lowden (England Is Mine), Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead), Lena Headey (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), and Vince Vaughn (Brawl in Cell Block 99). Dwayne Johnson (Central Intelligence) plays himself.

Fighting With My Family is copyrighted, of course. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with decent extras.

24 November 2020

The Final Girls (2015)

Producers: Michael London & Janice Williams
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Screenwriters: MA Fortin & Joshua John Miller

A struggling actor who is most known for her early film “Camp Bloodbath” dies, leaving her daughter. The daughter reluctantly goes to a screening of the film. When a fire breaks out in the theater, she and her friends end up inside the slasher film trying to survive, escape, and, in the case of the daughter, find closure with her mother’s character.

This is a really good film. It isn’t scary although it does have a number of effective horror moments. It transcends its surface parody of teen slasher films with a well-written script and excellent characters.

Starring Taissa Farmiga (In a Valley of Violence), Malin Åkerman (Cottage Country), Alexander Ludwig (When the Game Stands Tall), Nina Dobrev (Never Cry Werewolf), Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development), and Thomas Middleditch (Joshy).

The Final Girls is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray both with two commentaries and a couple other things.

11 December 2020

Fingers (2019)

Producers: Natalé Olsen and Nicholas Dieli and
Director/Screenwriter: Juan Ortiz

A woman is freaking out when confronted with her fears like that of short black men. Another of her fears becomes central when one of her coworkers comes to work missing one of his fingers. And then two. She tries to conquer her fears while the man deals with people coming to his house and cutting off his fingers.

This surreal and often funny film definitely has an audience. I found the first hour of it hard going but I loved the last part. It’s probably best for people who like quirky films. Don’t expect there to be any real explanations; the film exists in its own reality where people don’t go to the police to report strange men in clown masks cutting off their fingers. The material surround the Best Buy gift card made me laugh harder than I have in a while.

Starring Sabina Friedman-Seitz, Jeremy Gardner (The Battery), Stan Madray, Michael Richardson, and Michael St Michaels (The Greasy Strangler).

Fingers is under copyright. It is available on DVD.

12 January 2021

A Fistful of Dynamite (1971)

Producer: Fulvio Morsella
Director: Sergio Leone
Screenwriter: Luciano Vincenzoni (story: Sergio Leone and Sergio Donati)
Alternative titles: Giù la Testa, Duck, You Sucker, Once Upon a Time… The Revolution

A bandit and an Irishman on the run get drawn into the Mexican revolution.

This film is as good or better than any of Leone’s other work. I’m not sure why it isn’t widely watched. Maybe Americans are discomfited by its explicit politics. But this is a great film. Must see!

Starring Rod Steiger (In the Heat of the Night) and James Coburn (Our Man Flint).

A Firstful of Dynamite is under copyright. It is available on DVD. Better to get the KL Studio Classics Blu-ray with a ton of extras.

2 March 2021

Five (1951)

Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Arch Oboler

According to Michael Weldon, this was the first post-apocalyptic film. It involves five people who have survived the catastrophe of a new kind of nuclear weapon that wipes out most animal life on Earth. The five don’t get along well. The oldest dies and is replaced by a baby. A very bleak vision of the future for 1951!

The film features a number of notables: William Edward Phipps (Invaders from Mars), Susan Douglas Rubes (Lost Boundaries), James Anderson (To Kill a Mockingbird), Charles Lampkin (Cornbread, Earl and Me ), and Earl Lee (The Christmas Carol).

Five is under copyright. There is a DVD available, but I can’t speak to its quality.

Five Guns West (1955)

Producer/Director: Roger Corman
Screenwriter: R Wright Campbell

Five outlaws are pardoned by in exchange for joining the Confederacy. They go to a ghost town to kidnap a “traitor” and steal his gold. But a young woman who lives there causes conflict. Eventually, there are two groups at war with each other.

This is the first film that Corman directed. And it’s well-made. It has the main elements we came to know from him: solid acting, good sets, and just enough visual flair to keep you interested. I am, however, very tired with Hollywood’s apologetics for the Confederacy.

Starring John Lund (A Foreign Affair) and Dorothy Malone (The Big Sleep). With Mike Connors (Mannix), Robert Wright Campbell (Cell 2455, Death Row), Jonathan Haze (The Little Shop of Horrors), and Paul Birch (Day the World Ended).

Five Guns West is under copyright. It is available on an MGM DVD.

13 September 2020

Flawless (2007)

Producers: Mark Williams & Michael Pierce
Director: Michael Radford
Screenwriter: Edward A. Anderson

An American woman is working at a diamond company in the UK as a manager in 1960. Even though she’s brilliant, the company passes her over for promotion because she is a woman. When she learns she is going to be fired, she works with a janitor to steal a clutch of diamonds.

This is a surprisingly good little heist film. The characters have excellent motivations for their actions and are really likable. It’s not exactly psychotronic but you will probably like it and it’s a good one to share with your less understanding friends.

Starring Demi Moore (Striptease), Michael Caine (Zulu), and Lambert Wilson (The Matrix Reloaded).

Flawless is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

2 March 2021

The Fly (1958)

Producer/Director: Kurt Neumann
Screenwriter: James Clavell (Story: George Langelaan)

A scientist builds a matter transporter. Unfortunately, a fly is trapped inside with and he becomes half man and half fly. This is a classic despite or because of its silliness. David Cronenberg has said it annoyed him as a child that the fly head was as large as a man’s. I was always bothered by all the microscopic animals everywhere. Why wasn’t part of him a bacterium? Regardless, lots of fun! This film was parodied in Matinee (1993).

Featuring David Hedison (Son of Robin Hood), Patricia Owens (Mystery Junction), Vincent Price (House on Haunted Hill), Herbert Marshall (Foreign Correspondent), Kathleen Freeman (Hogan’s Heroes), Betty Lou Gerson (101 Dalmatians), Charles Herbert (13 Ghosts), and Torben Meyer (Casablanca).

The film is annoyingly under copyright. You can get it on DVD in a number of ways: alone on DVD or Blu-ray, with Return of the Fly (1959), and with The Fly (1986). It’s also available in with lots of extras on DVD or Blu-ray along with The Fly (1986) and The Fly II (1989).

The Fly (1986)

Producer: Stuart Cornfeld
Director: David Cronenberg
Screenwriters: Charles Edward Pogue and David Cronenberg (Story: George Langelaan)

Cronenberg’s film has the same premise: transporter and fly. But that’s about where it ends. The rest is a richly rendered film with well-developed characters. It’s also very creepy body horror. If you haven’t seen it, you must.

Featuring Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park), Geena Davis (Earth Girls Are Easy), John Getz (Blood Simple), Leslie Carlson (Videodrome), and heavy-weight boxer George Chuvalo.

The film is copyrighted. It is available on a good Blu-ray release. Also: with The Fly (1958) and with lots of extras on DVD or Blu-ray along with The Fly (1958) and The Fly II (1989).

The Fog (1980)

Producer: Debra Hill
Director: John Carpenter
Screenwriters: John Carpenter and Debra Hill

During a town’s 100 year anniversary, ghosts who were killed by the town’s founders come back for revenge. They come with the fog.

This is a solid film. I don’t consider it one of Carpenter’s best, but it’s still really effective and engaging. It also features some stand-out moments.

Starring Adrienne Barbeau (Escape from New York), Tom Atkins (Maniac Cop), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween), Janet Leigh (Bye Bye Birdie), and Hal Holbrook (Mark Twain Tonight). John Houseman (The Paper Chase) has a small role.

The Fog is copyrighted. It is available on DVD but it is better to get the SHOUT! Factory Blu-ray.

15 April 2021

For Y’ur Height Only (1981)

Producer: Peter M Caballes
Director: Eddie Nicart
Screenwriter: Cora Caballes
Alternative titles: For Your Height Only

Martial arts expert and dwarf Weng Weng stars as Agent 00 in this Filipino James Bond knock-off or parody — depending upon how you look at it. This was the second Agent 00 film, the first being Agent 00 made 8 years earlier. The film is incredibly silly but the action sequences are well choreographed, featuring stunts particularly appropriate for a man less than 3 feet tall. If you like seeing men kicked in the groin, this is the film for you!

For Y’ur Height Only is copyrighted, but it isn’t hard to find cropped for TV versions online. It is available on DVD with Bruce Le’s (Not Bruce Lee’s) Challenge Of The Tiger in widescreen presentations of both films.

Forest Primeval (2008)

Producers/Directors: Mark & John Polonia
Screenwriter: John Polonia

A demon is released from Skull Mountain during an earthquake. It begins killing people. A woman who has had premonitions of the demon is drawn to the area hoping to stop it. But things don’t get better.

This film has a number of effective moments but is on the slow side for my tastes. It’s a fairly typical “people running around in the wilderness” film. In this case there are lots of Evil Dead references. As usual, the Polonia Brothers produced a competent and effective film on pocket-change.

The acting in the film isn’t bad especially considering that none of the actors are professionals: David Fife, Shantee Proctor, and Kevin VanSant. John Polonia is also in it as the boyfriend. Bob Dennis plays the doctor but is not credited.

Forest Primeval is under copyright. It is available on DVD with an insightful commentary with the Polonias, 10 minutes of interviews with them, 5 minutes of deleted scenes (including some fart jokes and stop-motion animation), and a bunch of posters for other Polonia Brothers films.

24 May 2020

Four Lions (2010)

Producers: Mark Herbert and Derrin Schlesinger
Director: Chris Morris
Screenwriters: Chris Morris, Jesse Armstrong, and Sam Bain

Four British Muslims plot to carry out a terrorist attack despite mostly being clueless and not very religious.

This is an extremely dark comedy with laugh-out-loud moments. It grapples with tough questions like whether a suicide bomber who only kills a sheep will be rewarded in the afterlife.

Starring Riz Ahmed (Shifty) and Kayvan Novak (What We Do in the Shadows). Featuring Nigel Lindsay (Alan Partridge), Arsher Ali (The Ritual), Adeel Akhtar (Utopia), Preeya Kalidas (Bollywood Queen), and Julia Davis (Nighty Night).

Four Lions is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with some background interviews and deleted scenes.

Frankenhooker (1990)

Producer: James Glickenhaus
Director: Frank Henenlotter
Screenwriters: Robert Martin and Frank Henenlotter

After his fiance is killed by a remote-controlled lawnmower, Jeffrey saves her head and builds a new body with parts from local hookers. Then, when he is killed, she builds him a new body. There’s just one problem.

Starring James Lorinz (Who Do I Gotta Kill?) and Penthouse Pet of the Month Patty Mullen (Doom Asylum). Also: Louise Lasser (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman). Co-writer Robert Martin was the original editor of Fangoria.

Frankenhooker seems to be copyrighted even though there is a decent print on Archive.org. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with featurettes and commentary with director and make-up effects designer.

Frankenstein (1931)

Producer: Carl Laemmle Jr
Director: James Whale
Screenwriters: Garrett Fort and Francis Edward Faragoh (composition: John L Balderston; play: Peggy Webling; novel: Mary Shelley)

Dr Frankenstein puts a criminal brain into the creature he is building. His friends and family try to stop his project but he continues and succeeds. Then the creature starts killing people and the town comes after it and it’s very sad.

Although they didn’t leave much from the novel, this film retains the pathos of the creature and it is hard not to root for it. The iconography is brilliant, although it is so pervasive that it’s likely no one could find the film scary anymore.

Starring Boris Karloff (The Mummy), Colin Clive (Mad Love), and Dwight Frye (Dracula). With Mae Clarke (Waterloo Bridge), John Boles (The Life of Vergie Winters), and Edward Van Sloan (Dracula’s Daughter).

Frankenstein is available on DVD with an excellent commentary by Rudy Behlmer. It is also on Blu-ray with the same extras plus others including a commentary by Christopher Frayling. Better would be to get Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection, which includes 8 of the Universal films and a ton of extras on the first two films.

18 March 2020

Frankenstein (2007)

Producer: Hugh Warren
Director/Screenwriter: Jed Mercurio

Dr Victoria Frankenstein is a stem cell scientist who is trying to create a new heart for her dying son. She manages to create life but loses interest after her son dies. Unbeknownst to her, a creature was created with her son’s genes and is now going around killing people.

This is a good take on Frankenstein although what it really reminds me of is It’s Alive. In this telling both monster and doctor are sympathetic. It’s the authorities that want to use them who are bad. The film is shot in a distinctly Paul Greengrass manner but telling a far more complicated story. It works pretty well.

Starring Helen McCrory (Peaky Blinders), James Purefoy (Momentum), Benedict Wong (Grow Your Own), Neil Pearson (Fever Pitch), and Lindsay Duncan (A Midsummer Night’s Dream — the best version).

Frankenstein is under copyright. It is available on DVD with no extras.

1 January 2021

Frankenstein: The True Story (1973)

Producer: Hunt Stromberg Jr
Director: Norman Taurog
Screenwriters: Christopher Isherwood & Don Bachardy (novel: Mary Shelley)

This is a great rendering of the novel that manages modernize the concepts without losing the essential nature of it. Unlike most filmed versions, it isn’t about a thuggish monster. The creature is intelligent as in the novel. But there is one problem: he’s alive but his flesh continues to rot and so he turns ugly and people hate him. The film even manages to include the creation of a female and the final death in the Arctic. I highly recommend this one!

The film has an amazing cast. Here are just a few: Michael Sarrazin (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?), Leonard Whiting (Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet), Jane Seymour (Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman), James Mason (North by Northwest), and so many more.

Frankenstein: The True Story seems to be in the public domain. There is a great copy on Archive.org. It is also available on DVD.

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965)

Producer: Robert McCarty
Director: Robert Gaffney
Screenwriter: ? (story: George Garrett)

Mars has run out of women so they come to Earth to kidnap our hotties. Luckily, we have a robotic astronaut (“Frank”) to take them on. And a scientist and his girlfriend. Pleasant 60s pop songs fill in the gaps.

This is a weird one that doesn’t try to do much and manages to be a pleasant enough 75 minutes.

Starring James Karen (The Return of the Living Dead), Nancy Marshall, and Marilyn Hanold.

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster is on Archive.org. It is available on DVD.

1 May 2020

Frogs (1972)

Producers: George Edwards & Peter Thomas
Director: George McCowan
Screenwriters: Robert Hutchison & Robert Blees (story: Robert Hutchison)

An environmental photographer spends a couple of days with a rich family at a mansion in the swamp. But all is not well. The frogs and everywhere and they are growing big. Even worse: the family is horrible, especially the patrician. Mostly they get what they deserve.

I’m still trying to figure out why this film was named Frogs. Yes, there are a lot of frogs. But most of the threats and death come via large lizards, alligators, snakes, spiders, and other miscellaneous creatures. Also: I think most of the “frogs” were actually toads. Anyway, it’s an effective film with good acting. And parts of it really did scare me in the “Is something crawling on me?!” sense.

Starring Sam Elliott (Lifeguard) and Ray Milland (Dial M for Murder). With Joan Van Ark (Shakedown on the Sunset Strip), Adam Roarke (Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry), and Lynn Borden (Black Mama White Mama).

Frogs is under copyright. It is available on DVD. It is also available on Blu-ray with the Bert I Gordon classic The Food of the Gods.

4 August 2020

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Producers: Gianni Nunnari and Meir Teper
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Screenwriter: Quentin Tarantino (story: Robert Kurtzman)

Bank robbers kidnap a family to help them get into Mexico. Once there, they stop at a bar run by vampires and must work together to survive.

The first of three films and the only one released in movie theaters, this one created the template. I prefer the other two because the tonal shift from crime to vampire film is too extreme. Just the same, it’s a hell of a film.

Starring George Clooney (Michael Clayton) and Harvey Keitel (Bad Lieutenant). Featuring Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers), Quentin Tarantino (Four Rooms), Cheech Marin (Born in East LA), Danny Trejo (Machete), Fred Williamson (Hammer), Salma Hayek (Desperado), and Michael Parks (The Evictors). Legendary make-up article Tom Savini has a featured role. And John Hawkes (Deadwood) is hilarious as the store clerk.

From Dusk Till Dawn is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with loads of special features including a commentary by Rodriguez and Tarantino. It is also available on Blu-ray with no special features. You can also get all three films plus the documentary Full-Tilt Boogie on DVD with a number of extras.

From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999)

Producers: Gianni Nunnari, Meir Teper, and Michael Murphey
Director: Scott Spiegel
Screenwriters: Scott Spiegel & Duane Whitaker (store: Spiegel & Boaz Yakin)

Buck puts together a team of crooks to do a job in Mexico with his recently escaped con partner. But soon vampires show up and the job gets complicated.

In many ways, this is the best of the series because it fully embraces the silliness of its plot. Some might prefer the vampires to be a bit more menacing, especially during the final standoff.

Starring Robert Patrick (The Faculty). With Bo Hopkins (Midnight Express), Duane Whitaker (Eddie Presley), Muse Watson (I Know What You Did Last Summer), Brett Harrelson (The People vs Larry Flynt), and Raymond Cruz (Alien Resurrection).

From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray, neither with any extras. You can get the whole series plus a solid extras disc on DVD.

From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (2000)

Producers: Michael S Murphey, Gianni Nunnari, and Meir Teper
Director: PJ Pesce
Screenwriter: Álvaro Rodríguez (story: Álvaro Rodríguez & Robert Rodríguez)

Ambrose Bierce is making his way through Mexico to meet Pancho Villa. An unfortunate encounter with an escaped murderer leads to — Wait for it… — vampires! At least we know what happened to Bierce.

This is the most consistent of the three films carried through by winning performances from the lead and secondary actors.

Starring Michael Parks (Death Wish V: The Face of Death) and Marco Leonardi (Once Upon a Time in Mexico). Featuring Rebecca Gayheart (Urban Legend), Ara Celi, Jordana Spiro, and Sônia Braga (Kiss of the Spider Woman).

From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with no extras to speak of. All three films plus extras are available on DVD.

From Hell (2001)

Producers: Don Murphy and Jane Hamsher
Directors: The Hughes Brothers
Screenwriters: Terry Hayes and Rafael Yglesias (graphic novel: Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell)

Prince Albert married a prostitute who had a child. And since the prince is dying, the child is actually heir to the throne. So Jack the Ripper was really a royal-ish plot to kill all the women who knew about this child. But there is a brilliant investigator on the case who figures it all out without actually saving anyone.

This is an intriguing and stylish film with good acting. If you actually know much about Jack the Ripper, this conspiracy theory take on it will drive you a bit crazy. But it’s still pretty fun.

Starring Johnny Depp (Public Enemies), Heather Graham (Drugstore Cowboy), Ian Holm (eXistenZ), and Robbie Coltrane (The Brothers Bloom).

From Hell is under copyright. It is available on DVD with 1 disc (decent extras) and 2 discs (better extras). It is available on Blu-ray with the same extras as the single-disc DVD. There are many other releases.

12 March 2021

Frozen Sasquatch (2018)

Producer: David S Sterling
Director: Mark Polonia
Screenwriter: Billy D’Amato

When a research corporation loses contact with its facility in the Himalayas, it sends in three scientists to find out what’s going on. Once at the facility, they find all but one member of the staff dead. What’s more, they are tormented by what appears to be a Yeti. Further research unlocks many mysteries.

The mystery here is pretty good and the story unfolds well. And one practical effect made me laugh hard. Otherwise, I prefer Polonia’s sillier recent work.

Starring Natalie Hallead (Alien Surveillance), Titus Himmelberger (Deadly Playthings), and Noyes J Lawton (War Raiders). Featuring Jamie Morgan (Ghost of Camp Blood), Jeff Kirkendall (Jurassic Prey), and Steve Diasparra (Chainsaw Killer). Polonia also has a notable role.

Frozen Sasquatch is under copyright. It is only available on Amazon Prime.

25 July 2020

The Funhouse (1981)

Producers: Derek Power and Steven Bernhardt
Director: Tobe Hooper
Screenwriter: Larry Block

The carnival is in town and some teens decide to stay in the funhouse all night. But it turns out that the funhouse is run by a man and his monstrously deformed son who kills a prostitute. And one of the teens steals their money. And then the funhouse people go hunting them.

This is a shockingly good film. The cinematography is beautiful — including inside the funhouse, which is quite dark. The characters are well developed and acted. And once the plot is all wound up, the third act winds down as a thrill-ride.

Starring Elizabeth Berridge (Amadeus), Cooper Huckabee (Getting Wasted), and Kevin Conway (Invincible). With Largo Woodruff (Bill) and Miles Chapin (Bless the Beasts and Children). The monster is played by Wayne Doba, a mime who gives an amazing performance. Before I found out who he was, I speculated that he was a ballet dancer. Amazing work!

The Funhouse is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray both with some interviews and a commentary with Tobe Hooper and Tim Sullivan.

4 June 2020

Future War (1997)

Producer: Dave Eddy
Director: Anthony Doublin
Screenwriter: Dom Magwili (story: David Hue & Dom Magwili)

Space aliens kidnap humans from a different time and use them as slaves on their planet. But one of the slaves has escaped back to earth with the aliens hot on his trail. And with them: trained dinosaurs. Will the ex-junkie nun-in-training be able to help him?

This is a strange film that seems to have been written as a comedy but directed as a drama. Some of the effects work pretty well. And the fight scenes are quite good. I also like the lighting and Doublin does a nice job with single-shot scenes.

Starring Daniel Bernhardt (Bloodsport II: The Next Kumite), Travis Brooks, Robert Z’Dar (Maniac Cop), and Mel Novak (Force of Darkness).

Future War is under copyright. It is available on DVD. It’s also available as a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, but if you get it, know that I’ll hold it against you.

The Fuzz (2014)

Producer: Matthew Achterberg
Director: Duncan Skiles
Screenwriters: Christopher Ford & Jon Watts (story: Ford, Skiles, Watts)

Puppets are an oppressed underclass in this world. Childhood puppet friends make different life choices. Herbie becomes a cop and Rainbow a crime boss. The future of P-Town hangs in the balance.

This was a 5-episode television series, edited into a feature film. Much of it is genuinely funny but the plot is a bit stale. It’s also a bit jarring for an audience used to big-budget productions where the puppets are not limited to the bottom of the screen. Still: worth a watch.

Featuring David Fino, Peter Bradley, Jon Gabrus (4th Man Out), Rachel Bloom (Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury). and Dorothi Fox (Bananas).

The Fuzz doesn’t look like it’s ever been released on disc. It is available on Amazon Prime.

12 February 2020

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