Short Takes: I

I Am Not a Serial Killer (2015)

Producer: Nick Ryan, James Harris, and Mark Lane
Director: Billy O’Brien
Screenwriter: Billy O’Brien and Christopher Hyde (story: Dan Wells)

A young psychopath tries to contain his impulses but runs into trouble when his small town suffers from a string of murders. And the murderer turns out to be a monster.

There’s a lot to like in this film. Some of the gore is wonderful. It’s quite funny at times. And the acting is great. It gets a bit slow toward the end but it stays engaging throughout and has a nice ending.

Starring Max Records (Where the Wild Things Are) and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future).

I Am Not a Serial Killer is copyrighted. It is available as a combo Blu-ray/DVD with a couple of interesting but short extras.

I Am Omega (2007)

Producer: David Michael Latt
Director: Griff Furst
Screenwriter: Geoff Meed

Sure, The Asylum just wanted to beat Warner Bros to the punch with its Will Smith vehicle that is even further from Richard Matheson’s novel. But to me, that’s all the more reason to like it. The film is every bit as good as I Am Legend, with roughly a hundredth of the budget. But it’s more fun to watch Last Man on Earth. Otherwise, I’d watch any of the other three that were available. Mark Dacascos is appealing and Jennifer Lee Wiggins makes an excellent “woman in peril.”

Clearly, you are going to have to pay for this one — although you may already have through Netflix or Amazon Prime. You can get it on DVD or Blu-ray. I can’t say much about them as I don’t like the film enough to buy it. (So I watched it through Amazon Prime.)

I Care a Lot (2020)

Producers: Teddy Schwarzman & Ben Stillman & Michael Heimler & J Blakeson
Director/Screenwriter: J Blakeson

A woman is doing great running a guardian scam where she gets old people legally defined as unable to care for themselves, so she can come in and sell off all their stuff. But things get complicated when she does this to the incognito mother of a mob boss.

The reviews of this film are great and people I know really like it. There is no doubt that it’s well made with a fine cast. Just the same, Blakeson is way too fond of his main character creating a plot that abandons the two most interesting characters and becomes ever more ridiculous in the second half. It’s also at least a half-hour too long. And it has a cop-out ending. It made me long for Martin McDonagh’s wit. But like I said: well made and doubtless appealing to most.

Starring Rosamund Pike (A Private War), Peter Dinklage (Knights of Badassdom), Dianne Wiest (The Lost Boys), Eiza González (From Dusk till Dawn: The Series), Chris Messina (Manglehorn), and Macon Blair (Blue Ruin).

I Care a Lot has not been released on disc in the US. It is available on Netflix.

25 March 2021

I Had a Bloody Good Time at House Harker (2016)

Producers: Noel Carroll and Nathan Lorch & Milena Ferreira
Director: Clayton Cogswell
Screenwriter: Jacob Givens (story: Noel Carroll, Clayton Cogswell, Jacob Givens, and Derek Haugen; original concept: Derek Haugen)

Two brothers and a sister have an ancestor who killed Dracula. Along with a friend, they are trying to set up the family house to make a buck off the legend. Then a vampire comes to town.

This is a funny take on the vampire film kind of in the tradition of The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu. The plot manages to stay just a bit ahead of the viewer and it has a very fulfilling ending. The camera is a bit over-the-top at times.

Starring Good Cops: Jacob Givens, Derek Haugen, and Noel Carroll. Featuring Whitney Moore (Birdemic: Shock and Terror), Nathan Lorch, and Arlan Godthaab (Kessler’s Lab).

I Had a Bloody Good Time at House Harker is under copyright. It is available on DVD.

2 November 2020

I Saw the Devil (2010)

Producer: Kim Hyun-woo
Director: Kim Jee-woon
Screenwriter: Park Hoon-jung

A serial killer murders the fiance of a cop (the South Korean equivalent of an FBI agent). He finds the killer, tortures him, lets him go, finds him and tortures him, and so on. But things get out of hand.

This is a really well-made film. And it’s thoughtful with things to say and deep thematic elements. But it’s also really messed up — at minimum bordering on torture porn. But just from a practical standpoint, it’s nice to see a plot where the crime is relatively brief and the vengeance is prolonged. Of course, ultimately, the film will make you feel bad about enjoying the vengeance.

Starring Lee Byung-hun and Choi Min-sik.

I Saw the Devil is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with 25 minutes of deleted scenes and a half-hour documentary.

2 July 2023

I See You (2019)

Producer: Matt Waldeck
Director: Adam Randall
Screenwriter: Devon Graye

A serial killer is kidnapping young boys. A police detective who is investigating is struggling with his unfaithful wife and their angry teen son. And weird, apparently supernatural, things are happening at home.

This film features an intriguing plot probably better suited to a novel. But it holds your attention from the beginning. The structure is awkward but I do appreciate the attempt to do something new. It shows the main action of the first half of the film twice when the reveal for the second time could be abbreviated. Instead, the film assumes a stupid audience. And the direction of the film is over-stylized with way too much camera movement and pointless (if beautiful) drone shots. But it’s still very worth watching.

Starring Jon Tenney (Beverly Hills Cop III), Owen Teague (The Stand), Libe Barer (Sneaky Pete), Judah Lewis (Demolition), Gregory Alan Williams, and Helen Hunt (As Good as It Gets).

I See You is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

17 September 2021

I Survived a Zombie Holocaust (2014)

Producer: Zoe Hobson
Director/Screenwriter: Guy Pigden

The runner for a low-budget production of a zombie film is generally mistreated by everyone on the set. Then people start turning into real zombies and he becomes a leader.

The first hour of this is incredibly funny. The humor dies down a lot in the last half hour but that’s also when it turns into quite an effective zombie film. It probably works especially well for anyone unfortunate enough to actually have worked on a film set.

Starring Harley Neville, Jocelyn Christian, Ben Baker, and Mike Edward. I’ve never seen anyone in the whole cast, but they are exceptional.

I Survived a Zombie Holocaust is under copyright. It is available on DVD.

14 October 2020

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

Producers: Joseph Zbeda and Meir Zarchi
Director/Screenwriter: Meir Zarchi
Alternate titles: Day of the Woman

This is a great but hard film. It features a brutal 30-minute rape sequence. As a result, no distributor would at first take it. It was finally distributed in 1980, where it was universally panned by idiotic “critics” like Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. But in more recent years it has been seen for the feminist statement it is. In fact, I see it in mythic terms. Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) goes through a passion, takes vengeance, and sails off as a demigod.

But in a literal sense, I Spit on Your Grave is a simple revenge story. Hills is a writer who rents a house for the summer to write her first book. Four guys brutally rape (and intend to kill) her. She gets revenge on them in some impressive ways. For most people, I doubt that the revenge part of the film makes up for the rape sequence. That is very hard to get through. Really. I know this was made in 1978, but trust me: it is as realistic today as it was then. This is not a fun film. So beware.

The only notable person in this film is Camille Keaton. She is Buster Keaton’s grandniece. She did little acting after Grave other than starring in a sequel of sorts, Savage Vengance (1993). At that point, she married producer Sidney Luft. Since 2010 she started showing up more in film.

The film is not in the public domain but you can usually find it on far-flung video hosting sites. Be careful buying this film on disc. The Millennium Edition DVD is exceptional. It includes commentary tracks by director Meir Zarchi as well as film lover Joe Bob Briggs. Plus a lot more. But there is no corresponding Blu-ray. It is available on Blu-ray, but I don’t know anything about it. What’s more, you have to watch to make sure you don’t buy the remake or its two sequels. Or the sequel I Spit on Your Grave Deja Vu.

I Trapped the Devil (2019)

Producers: Spence Nicholson & Rowan Russell & Scott Weinberg
Director/Screenwriter: Josh Lobo

A man and his wife visit a reclusive brother who claims to have trapped the devil in his basement. It could be that he’s just insane and has kidnapped and imprisoned someone.

This is one of these increasingly common single-location films with excellent script, production, and acting. And unlike many films of this type, it does provide a resolution. This one is definitely worth checking out.

Starring AJ Bowen (The House of the Devil), Scott Poythress, and Susan Theresa Burke.

I Trapped the Devil is distributed by IFC Films, so you can stream it on AMC+. It is available from Shout Factory on DVD and Blu-ray with a deleted scene and director commentary.

31 December 2023

I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)

Producer: Herman Cohen
Director: Gene Fowler Jr
Screenwriters: Herman Cohen & Aben Kandel (as Ralph Thornton)

Troubled teen Tony goes to a hypnotherapist who regresses him. At school, a bell rings and he turns into a werewolf. The town tries to find him before he kills again. The scientist has grand plans.

A very 50s teen horror film complete with a song and dance number, convertibles, a hangout, and some overwhelming werewolf make-up. It doesn’t feature a drop of blood. Strangely, you do end up kind of caring about poor Tony.

Starring Michael Landon (Little House on the Prairie), Yvonne Lime (High School Hellcats), Whit Bissell (Creature from the Black Lagoon), Barney Phillips (Ruby Gentry), and Guy Williams (Lost in Space).

I Was a Teenage Werewolf is probably under copyright but there is a good copy on I haven’t found it on disc, which is crazy.

5 November 2021

I, Monster (1971)

Producers: Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky
Director: Stephen Weeks
Screenwriter: Milton Subotsky

An Amicus production of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde but with different names probably because Hammer brought out the excellent Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde at the same time. It features an excellent ending with impressive use of fire.

It stars Christopher Lee (The Curse of Frankenstein) and Peter Cushing (The House That Dripped Blood). Also featuring: Mike Raven (Disciple of Death), Richard Hurndall (The Five Doctors), George Merritt, Kenneth J Warren, Susan Jameson, and Marjie Lawrence.

The film is copyrighted, but it is available on as part of an internet show, Monster Movie Night, with poor quality. It is available on DVD with a mediocre widescreen print that is not anamorphic. There are a few extras: trailer, photo gallery, press book. The word is that the PAL DVD offers a much better print.

Ice Cream Man (1995)

Producer: Paul Norman
Director: Norman Apstein
Screenwriters: David Dobkin & Sven Davison

A young boy sees the ice cream man gunned down in front of him. Years later, he is a homicidal ice cream man starting his own store.

This one is pretty good with a strong lead performance. It has an unreal aspect to it that cut down on the experience for me, but might heighten it for others. I found the first part of it very funny but I tired of the humor by the end.

Starring Clint Howard (Evilspeak). Featuring Olivia Hussey (Black Christmas), David Naughton (An American Werewolf in London), Sandahl Bergman (Conan the Barbarian), Andrea Evans, Jan-Michael Vincent (Baby Blue Marine), and David Warner (Waxwork).

Ice Cream Man is under copyright. It is available in various forms — most notably on a combo Blu-ray/DVD with good extras.

14 February 2021

The Immoral Mr Teas (1959)

Producer: Peter A DeCenzie
Director: Russ Meyer

Shy dental appliance salesman Mr Teas lives on Cantlay Street. He goes in for dental surgery and comes out able to see women without their clothes on. He goes to a therapist to be cured but ultimately comes to accept his condition happily.

This film is as important as any other in history. It was the first “nudie cutie” and spawned hundreds of copies. Michael Weldon claims it is a Monsieur Hulot film with nudity, which is about right. I’m not that fond of it. It’s scattered and slow at times. Far better (funnier and sexier) is Meyer’s follow-up, Eve and the Handyman. But it does feature more naked women.

Starring Bill Teas, Brandy Long, Ann Peters, and Marilyn Wesley. Pinup model June Wilkinson has a cameo.

The Immoral Mr Teas is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with Eve and the Handyman. It hasn’t been released on Blu-ray. You can find it on collections — almost all of which have been released in Europe.

16 May 2021

In the Mouth of Madness (1995)

Producer: Sandy King
Director: John Carpenter
Screenwriter: Michael De Luca

The apocalypse is coming and HP Lovecraft sent it. The story follows John Trent (Sam Neill) who goes searching for a missing horror novelist only to become convinced that he is a character in one of the novels.

This film is captivating from beginning to end. This is probably Carpenter’s best film. It rewards multiple viewings.

Starring Sam Neill (Merlin) and Julie Carmen (Gloria). Featuring Jürgen Prochnow (Beverly Hills Cop II), David Warner (Time After Time), Charlton Heston (Omega Man), and Peter Jason (Escape from LA).

The film is under copyright and well protected. Commercial copies look fine. The best release is the Shout Factory Blu-ray.

In the Trap (2019)

Producer: Luigi De Filippis
Director: Alessio Liguori
Screenwriter: Daniele Cosci

A boy sees a demon in his house that eventually kills his sister. His mother saves him but after she dies, the demon comes back and possesses his girlfriend. Or is he just insane?

This is a beautifully shot film that keeps you on your toes. The ending made sense to me but the friend I saw it with came to the opposite conclusion. Regardless: a very effective horror film worth checking out.

Starring Jamie Christofersen, Sonya Cullingford, Miriam Galanti, and David Bailie (Pirates of the Caribbean).

In the Trap is copyrighted. It is available on DVD.

16 November 2020

The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

Producer: Samuel W Gelfman
Director/Screenwriter: William Sachs

Astronauts on a mission to Saturn are exposed to some kind of radioactive solar flare that leaves one guy wounded but alive. Back on Earth, his body is melting away. He must consume human flesh to stop it. So he goes on a killing spree as a doctor tries to stop him.

This is gooey fun. And it has more creative moments than a dozen normal horror films.

The film stars Demented (1980) writer Alex Rebar and Burr DeBenning (Beach Red). Featuring Myron Healey, Michael Alldredge, Ann Sweeny, Lisle Wilson, and Jonathan Demme in a small role.

The Incredible Melting Man is copyrighted. You can get it on a so-so MGM DVD. You are better off getting the magnificent Shout Factory Blu-ray.

The Incredible Mr Limpet (1964)

Producer: John C Rose
Director: Arthur Lubin
Screenwriters: Jameson Brewer & John C Rose (story: Sammy Fain & Harold Adamson)

During World War II, a shy accountant who the military has rejected goes to the seaside with his wife and best friend. After wishing that he was a fish, he falls into the ocean and becomes one. Then he helps the navy target German U-boats and lives happily ever after with a fish that is much sexier than his human wife.

This is a sweet film but the part about the navy seems weird today. Also, the final conflict is kind of forced. But I don’t know how you can avoid liking the film.

Starring Don Knotts (The Ghost and Mr Chicken), Carole Cook (A Woman Accused), and Jack Weston (Gator). Featuring the voices of Paul Frees (Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town) and Elizabeth MacRae (The Conversation).

The Incredible Mr Limpet is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. They both have the same so-so extras, but at least they tried (compare it to Mr Chicken). The Blu-ray looks a lot better and will probably be cheaper.

21 June 2020

Inferno (1980)

Producer: Claudio Argento
Director/Screenwriter: Dario Argento

A woman discovers a book that tells her that there are three sisters who rule the world with “sorrow, tears, and darkness.” So of course she goes searching for them like you do. Other people get involved in the search and most die horribly.

This is the second of “The Three Mothers” trilogy along with Suspiria and The Mother of Tears. The main thing here is that it’s mesmerizing. The sets, lighting, and gore effects are all fantastic. And if you just accept that everyone is pushing forward with their searches for their own mysterious reasons, the plot makes a decent amount of sense. This film looks a lot like Suspiria but has a more haunting, low-key feel to it.

Starring Leigh McCloskey (Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn), Irene Miracle (Puppet Master), Eleonora Giorgi (Beyond the Door), Daria Nicolodi (Delirium), Sacha Pitoëff (Last Year at Marienbad), Alida Valli (Ophélia), Veronica Lazăr (Luna), Gabriele Lavia (Beyond the Door), and Feodor Chaliapin Jr (The Church).

Inferno is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with some interviews.

29 May 2020

Inhumanwich! (2016)

Producers: David Cornelius & Matthew Gray & Matt Laumann & Ryan Magrish
Director/Screenwriter: David Cornelius

An astronaut has a space accident while eating his wife’s sloppy joe, turning him into a sloppy joe monster. When his capsule lands, he strips the meat off the bones of people causing him to grow larger. Humanity’s last hope against him is his onion allergy.

This is a comedy in the tradition of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra and Space Captain: Captain of Space! It’s more or less a parody of Monster a Go-Go. It works quite well. I found it very funny.

Starring Matt Laumann, Michael Peake, Jack Burrows, Kayla Clark, and Brad Nicholas.

Inhumanwich! is under copyright. It is available on DVD.

4 December 2020

Innerspace (1987)

Producer: Michael Finnell
Director: Joe Dante
Screenwriters: Jeffrey Boam and Chip Proser (story: Chip Proser)

Scientists have created a way to reduce a capsule to a small size so they are going to send the capsule and a pilot into a rabbit. But just as it is supposed to be done, a rival gang of scientists arrives and the capsule gets injected into an unsuspecting grocery clerk. The clerk and pilot must work together to avoid the gang and get the capsule to safety.

This is a perfectly serviceable parody of Fantastic Voyage. Not nearly as much fun as I would have thought but hardly painful.

Starring Martin Short (Captain Ron), Dennis Quaid (The Big Easy), and Meg Ryan (French Kiss). Henry Gibson (The Long Goodbye) and Dick Miller (A Bucket of Blood) have small roles.

Innerspace is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with cast and crew commentary track.

21 November 2021

Insidious (2010)

Producers: Jason Blum, Steven Schneider, and Oren Peli
Director: James Wan
Screenwriter: Leigh Whannell

A family moves into a new house and spooky things start happening. Eventually, they bring in a spiritualist to solve the problem.

Sound like a remake of Poltergeist (1982)? Well, there’s nothing new under the sun. And it is pleasantly devoid Spielberg’s suburban nostalgia.

Starring: Patrick Wilson (Space Station 76) and Rose Byrne (Knowing). Featuring: Lin Shaye (2001 Maniacs), Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World), and Barbara Hershey (Tune in Tomorrow).

Insidious is copyrighted. It is available on Blu-ray. You can also get the first three films in the series.

Invaders From Mars (1953)

Producer: Edward L Alperson
Director: William Cameron Menzies
Screenwriter: Richard Blake

It’s hard not to love these “People are turning into Commies, I mean, Martians!” films from the 1950s. And Invaders From Mars is one of the most charming and effective because it is essentially a children’s film — perfect for the nerdy tween of 1951. It holds up remarkably well even now. I always enjoy revisiting it.

I’ve never been particularly fond of the “It was a dream! Oh no, it’s real!” ending. The longer UK release fixed this, although probably not for my reasons.

The film features Jimmy Hunt (Rusty’s Birthday), Helena Carter (Bugles in the Afternoon), and Arthur Franz (Monster on the Campus). William Edward Phipps (Five) also has a small role.

Invaders From Mars is under copyright. An expensive DVD that includes both the US and UK versions is available..

Invaders from Mars (1986)

Producers: Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus
Director: Tobe Hooper
Screenwriters: Dan O’Bannon & Don Jakoby (based on the original)

This is a loving remake with standout performances by Karen Black (Five Easy Pieces) and Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). The story is pretty much identical to the original. Overall, it comes off as hipper but without the creepy Cold War feel. I generally like it better, but both films are excellent.

The film also features Karen Black’s son Hunter Carson (Paris, Texas), Timothy Bottoms (Johnny Got His Gun), Laraine Newman (Coneheads), Bud Cort (Harold and Maude), James Karen (The Return of the Living Dead), and Jimmy Hunt, the star of the original.

The film is copyrighted. Sometimes it is available on stream services like Amazon Prime. Shout Factory has released the film on Blu-ray with a director’s commentary. There is also a DVD, which is currently more expensive. And you can get it on DVD along with Strange Invaders

Invaders From Space (1965)

Producer: Mitsugi Okura
Director: Teruo Ishii
Screenwriter: Ichiro Miyagawa

The Peace Council learns that the salamander men of Kulimon are planning to destroy Earth causing the resulting radiation to contaminate their own Emerald Planet. So they send their own steel-based superhero, Starman, to protect Earth.

This is one of four features constructed out of 9 short Super Giant films from 1957 and 1958. This one is made from The Mysterious Spacemen’s Demonic Castle and Earth on the Verge of Destruction. It’s basically a kids film, but fun nonetheless. And the costumes are pretty cool — especially for the Peace Council.

The film stars Ken Utsui who played Starman in all the Super Giant films. He was also in a ton of other films and television shows.

Invaders From Space is available on Something Weird released it on DVD along with Atomic Rulers of the World (based on the first two Super Giant films). It’s got some extras but probably only interesting for people who like Ultraman and similar.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Producer: Walter Wanger
Director: Don Siegel
Screenwriter: Daniel Mainwaring (novel: Jack Finney)

Four friends discover that people in their town are being replaced with space alien duplicates created by enormous seed pods. Now they must reach the outside world before it too is taken over.

This film deserves its classic reputation. The story moves quickly with no dead spots. It is definitely, however, better without the framing device and unnecessary narration.

Starring Kevin McCarthy (Piranha), Dana Wynter (Sink the Bismarck!), King Donovan (The Magnetic Monster), and Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family).

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. Better to get it on the Olive Signature Blu-ray that looks great and comes with a ton of extras including two commentary tracks.

16 February 2021

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Producer: Robert H Solo
Director: Philip Kaufman
Screenwriter: WD Richter (novel: Jack Finney)

Four friends in San Francisco learn that space pods from outer space have arrived and they are growing duplicate “humans,” which take over the lives of the real humans. And just as it seems that all hope is lost… it is!

This version of the film is no better or worse than the original. It’s just different but every bit as much a classic. For me, it’s easier to watch without seeing it as an allegory. But I saw it in the theater. It is a film of my own time. Take your pick. They are both great.

Starring Donald Sutherland (Eye of the Needle), Brooke Adams (Gas Food Lodging), Veronica Cartwright (Alien), Jeff Goldblum (The Fly), and Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek).

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is under copyright. It is available on DVD with the director’s commentary, which is good. You can get it on a combo Blu-ray/DVD with some documentaries. Shout Factory released it on Blu-ray with a bunch of other extras.

16 February 2021

Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957)

Producers: James H Nicholson and Robert J Gurney Jr
Director: Edward L Cahn
Screenwriters: Robert J Gurney Jr and Al Martin (story: Paul Fairman)
Alternate titles: Spacemen Saturday Night, Invasion of the Hell Creatures

On their way home from making out on Lovers’ Lane, a young couple hit and kill one of the space aliens that recently landed their flying saucer nearby. The police don’t believe them and end up arresting them but luckily, the kids get free and defeat the aliens.

This is a lively and funny little science fiction film. Definitely one for the kids at the drive-in. Supposedly released as a double-bill with I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Remade in color as The Eye Creatures.

Starring Steve Terrell, Gloria Castillo (Reform School Girl), Lyn Osborn (Space Patrol), and Frank Gorshin (Batman).

Invasion of the Saucer Men may be in the public domain. There is a good copy on It has been released on disc but isn’t currently in print that I can find.

5 November 2021

Invasion of the Star Creatures (1962)

Producer: Berj Hagopian
Director: Bruno VeSota
Screenwriter: Jonathan Haze

Amazon supermodels from space plan to conquer Earth. But they are defeated when they fall in love with two idiot army men.

This is a film I have difficulty loving. It tries so hard to be funny and I find myself hating it. Just the same, if you are in the right mood, I’m sure it is enjoyable. And I have a feeling that teenage boys will like it for much the same reason they did Weird Science (1985).

The screenplay was based on Haze’s first screenplay, “The Monster of Nicholson Mesa.” It is too bad it was never produced since it was a horror parody.

Featuring Robert Ball, writer of Dracula’s Dog Frank Ray Perilli, Gloria Victor, and Dolores Reed.

Invasion of the Star Creatures is under copyright. You can get it alone on DVD but you are better to get the DVD that comes along with Invasion of the Bee Girls. No one has bothered to put it on Blu-ray.

The Irishman (2019)

Producers: Martin Scorsese & Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal & Emma Tillinger Koskoff and Irwin Winkler and Gerald Chamales and Gastón Pavlovich and Randall Emmett & Gabriele Israilovici
Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenwriter: Steven Zaillian (book: Charles Brandt)

A guy develops a relationship with Jimmy Hoffa and struggles to help him as Hoffa’s behavior further angers his mafia friends.

People love this film. And what’s not to like? Another Scorsese gangster film! Except I’ve always thought that his gangster films were his weakest stuff. Add to that an overlong story with too much voiceover that is much too impressed with its “importance” and you have a film designed for critics to cream themselves over. But it’s well made, of course. And the lead actors are better than they are in most films.

Starring Robert De Niro (Bang the Drum Slowly), Al Pacino (Dog Day Afternoon), and Joe Pesci (My Cousin Vinny).

The Irishman is copyrighted. It has been released by Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-ray. It was made by Netflix, so I assume it will be streaming there forever.

23 March 2021

Ishtar (1987)

Producer: Warren Beatty
Director/Screenwriter: Elaine May
Our review: Ishtar Is a Funny Movie — Why Haven’t You Watched it?

Ishtar tells the story of two loser song-writers who band together to become the successes of their dreams. Eventually, their agent offers them a gig in Ishtar. Being broke, they jump at the idea. In Ishtar, they become pawns of both the CIA and the local revolutionaries. Much follows that really doesn’t matter.

It is sublimely silly. It’s strange watching it now how enjoyable it is given that at the time of its release, it was taken as given that Ishtar was a bad film. Ultimately what sunk it was that the budget was $50 million — an unheard of price tag for a comedy. And film critics know about as much about art and entertainment as they do brain surgery.

Paul Williams created a half dozen parody songs the film. May’s screenplay is efficient and funny. The acting is exceptional. It’s sad that so many people didn’t get to see it because film critics don’t think comedies should be expensive. First thing we do: kill all critics.

The film is available as a Blu-ray — but with no extras. Generally, DVD copies are more expensive. The documentary Waiting for Ishtar is worth checking out if you can find it. Ishtar is a genuinely great film and a wonderful subject with which to torture the millions of people who hate it despite never having bothered to watch it.

Isle of the Snake People (1968)

Producer: Luis Enrique Vergara (as Henry Verg)
Director: Juan Ibáñez
Screenwriter: Jack Hill
Alternate titles: La Muerte Viviente, Snake People, Cult of the Dead

On an island like Haiti but in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a police captain arrives to clean up the island of its voodoo villainy. He is immediately at odds with the local patrician, who tells him to leave the local people to their ways.

There are many things that elevate this film from the usual jungle adventure. The acting is particularly good with sharp dialog. And the voodoo and related scenes are incredible (eg, when the dwarf in a top hat whips a bound woman to death). It also is pretty sexy at times.

Rafael Bertrand as the captain isn’t the star, but he gives a particularly good performance. Also with Boris Karloff (The Mummy), Carlos East (Cazador De Espias), Santanón, Tongolele (Han Matado a Tongolele), and Julissa (Pedro Páramo).

Isle of the Snake People is under copyright. There are at least two DVD releases of it: Retromedia (slightly edited) and Eclectic. They don’t appear to have any extras to speak of. You can also find it on Karloff collections.

12 September 2020

It Came From Another World! (2007)

Producers: Christopher R Mihm and Josh Craig
Director: Christopher R Mihm
Screenwriter: Christopher R Mihm (story: Josh Craig and Christopher R Mihm)

A meteorite lands on Earth and a being inside it takes control of a scientist camping nearby. After an excellent chicken dinner, the being tries to take over the world.

This is a pretty funny outing from Mihm where he presses hard on the humor. A fitting follow-up to The Monster of Phantom Lake.

Starring Josh Craig (Cave Women on Mars), Mike Mason (The Monster of Phantom Lake), and Shannon McDonough (Potpourri).

It Came From Another World! is under copyright. It is available on DVD.

28 September 2020

It Came From Outer Space (1953)

Producer: William Alland
Director: Jack Arnold
Screenwriters: Harry Essex (story: Ray Bradbury)

Alien’s crash land on the Earth and an astronomer sees it. But he can’t convince the world of what has happened. The aliens start replacing people but they claim no one is being harmed. Are they telling the truth?!

This is a fine science fiction film that bucks the trend at the time of having space aliens stand in for communists. It’s from the same people who brought us Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Starring Richard Carlson (The Magnetic Monster) and Barbara Rush (When Worlds Collide). With Charles Drake (To Hell and Back), Joe Sawyer (The Killing), and Russell Johnson (This Island Earth).

It Came From Outer Space may be in the public domain. There is a good copy on It is available on DVD and Blu-ray both with a commentary by Tom Weaver.

4 June 2020

It Came From the Desert (2017)

Producer: Teemu Virta and Bob Portal & Inderpal Singh
Director: Marko Mäkilaakso
Screenwriters: Marko Mäkilaakso and Hank Woon and Trent Haaga (story: Marko Mäkilaakso)

Three friends go to the desert for a dirt bike race. There they find giant ants that are the result of military weapons research gone wrong. Now they must save each other and destroy the ants in between long scenes where they discuss saving each other and destroying the ants.

This film is charming and the ants are pretty cool. There are lots of short-cuts taken that don’t make much sense given the large budget here. And the two male leads are sometimes pretty smart and at other times the brain-damaged brothers of Bill & Ted. But it’s pretty fun.

Starring Harry Lister Smith (Viking Quest), Alex Mills, and Vanessa Grasse (Leatherface). Mark Arnold (Trancers 4: Jack of Swords) has a notable role. Professional wrestler Michael Majalahti has a minor role at the end.

It Came From the Desert is under copyright. It is available on DVD.

21 January 2021

It’s a Bikini World (1967)

Producer: Charles S Swartz
Director: Stephanie Rothman
Screenwriters: Charles S Swartz & Stephanie Rothman

When a surfer jock finds a modern woman he can’t seduce, he takes on the role of his nerd twin brother. Typical of Rothman, this is a feminist take on the beach party movie. The film features a number of bands from the sixties with music by infamous California Lieutenant Governor Mike Curb.

Starring Tommy Kirk (Old Yeller) and Deborah Walley (Gidget Goes Hawaiian). Featuring Bobby “Monster Mash” Pickett, Lori Williams (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!), and Sid Haig (Spider Baby).

It’s a Bikini World is copyrighted. I can’t find that it has ever been released on disc or tape. You can generally find it online, however.

It’s a Wonderful Knife (2023)

Producers: Seth Caplan, Michael Kennedy, Daniel Bekerman
Director: Tyler MacIntyre
Screenwriter: Michael Kennedy

A young woman saves her brother from a serial killer. But after a year, her family has moved on but she has not. So she wishes that she had never been born. And she finds herself in a reality in which she hasn’t been born and learns Important Lessons about life.

This is a really well-made film with fine performances. But the script is weak. Almost everything important in the alternate reality is conveyed via dialog. In fact, there is just way too much talking in this film. And the final showdown strangely transitions into something like Children of the Corn. But it’s enjoyable enough.

Starring Jane Widdop, Jess McLeod, Joel McHale, and Justin Long (Drag Me to Hell).

It’s a Wonderful Knife is under copyright. It isn’t currently available on disc. You can stream it on Shudder.

2 December 2023

It’s Alive (1969)

Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Larry Buchanan

This is a made-for-television horror film — mostly serious with the exception of the silly monster from Buchanan’s earlier Creature of Destruction.

A man keeps a dinosaur monster in a cave. To feed it, he traps people and feeds them to the monster. It’s basically a mad scientist dark house horror film except without the scientist and the dark house.

Featuring: Tommy Kirk (Old Yeller), Shirley Bonne, and Bill Thurman (‘Gator Bait).

The film appears to be out of copyright; it’s available on It has been available on DVD, but currently isn’t.

It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958)

Producer: Robert E Kent
Director: Edward L Cahn
Screenwriter: Jerome Bixby

A mission to Mars goes wrong so a rescue mission is sent. They find only one survivor and figure he killed the others. But on their way back, crew members start disappearing and it becomes clear that there is a Martian creature on board.

Alien could well be thought of as a remake of this film. And it’s excellent! It’s actually pretty scary. Essential viewing!

Starring Marshall Thompson (The Basketball Fix), Shirley Patterson (Black Hills), Kim Spalding, and Ann Doran (Dead of Night).

It! The Terror From Beyond Space should be under copyright but there is a really good copy on It’s available on a few different DVDs but they are all expensive. It is available on Blu-ray.

9 March 2021

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