LA Confidential (1997)
Producers: Arnon Milchan & Curtis Hanson & Michael Nathanson
Director: Curtis Hanson
Screenwriters: Brian Helgeland & Curtis Hanson (novel: James Ellroy)
In early 1950s Los Angeles, three very different cops become suspicious of corruption on the force. Despite not liking each other, they sort of join forces to do what is right — against all their natural instincts.
This is an engrossing and stylish noir tale with complex characters. The ending isn’t quite up to the rest of it, but the whole movie stands as a classic of the genre at a time when few films even tried.
Starring Guy Pearce (Memento), Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man), Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects), James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact), Danny DeVito (The War of the Roses), David Strathairn (Dolores Claiborne), and Kim Basinger (9½ Weeks).
17 January 2021
Lady Frankenstein (1971)
Producer/Director: Mel Welles
Screenwriter: Edward Di Lorenzo (story by Edward Di Lorenzo, Dick Randall, Mary Shelley)
Other titles: La Figlia di Frankenstein
Our discussion: A Modern Treatment of Frankenstein
Dr Frankenstein’s daughter is home from medical school. When her father is killed by the monster he creates, she becomes obsessed with continuing his work. And she’s a very kinky girl!
I love this film! The Frankenstein story has lost a lot of its impact and adding the sexual element here really ups the ante. It’s fascinating to watch her even though by the end you cheer her downfall.
Lady Frankenstein may or may not be under copyright. Archive.org has a decent 4:3 print of the short version. Its questionable status may explain why so many versions of it are around. I recommend getting it with both the short and long versions of the film. You can get this with the Roger Corman Cult Classics: All-Night Marathon. If you have an all-region player, there is what looks like an excellent Blu-ray release of it from Nucleus Films.
16 August 2020
Lady Terminator (1988)
Producer: Raam Soraya (as Ram Soraya)
Director: H Tjut Djalil (as Jalil Jackson)
Screenwriter: Karr Kruinowz
The goddess Queen of the South Sea can’t find a man to satisfy her — mostly because she has an eel that lives in her vagina that bites off her lovers’ penises. On her hundredth try, the man takes the eel and turns it into a knife. This engages the Queen who comes back as a goddess Terminator 100 years later to kill the man’s granddaughter.
This is one of my favorite films. It’s filled with sex and violence. It features several homages to scenes in the original The Terminator. And the action is over-the-top. At one point, she shoots a guy about 30 times in the chest, but before she leaves, she kicks him in the nuts. How do you not love that?!
Starring Barbara Anne Constable, Christopher J Hart, and Claudia Angelique Rademaker. None of them have been in any other films that I know of.
Lady Terminator is under copyright. Mondo Macabro has released a low-cost DVD. It features the short, 80-minute, cut but in widescreen. It has a couple of alternate scenes. Best of all, there is an untitled 25-minute documentary about the Indonesian exploitation film industry of the 1970s and 1980s.
4 September 2020
Land of the Dead (2005)
Producers: Mark Canton & Peter Grunwald & Bernie Goldman
Director/Screenwriter: George Romero
Life after the zombie apocalypse has kind of normalized into a class-based system where the rich control the poor in the usual ways. But the zombies have started learning things. They communicate with each other and even use weapons. A small group of humans wants to leave the big city and head out to Canada.
The first part of this film is kind of chaotic like The Crazies. But it comes together and focuses on a small group, which holds your attention. It’s definitely worth watching — as good as Day of the Dead.
Land of the Dead is copyrighted. It is available as the “unrated director’s cut” (no released cut included) on DVD and Blu-ray with good extras. Or get the SHOUT! Factor Blu-ray with both versions and even more extras.
16 March 2021
Land Shark (2017)
Producer: Michael Raso
Director/Screenwriter: Mark Polonia
A worker at a lab finds out that it is doing secret research to allow sharks to roam on land. When she brings it to the attention of her boss, she is forced to help hunt down three sharks that have escaped.
This film has a strangely uneven tone. Much of it is played straight for laughs, which goes along with the cheesy special effects. This doesn’t integrate well with the drama portion of the film. Still, I found the comedy very funny and you will want to check out the special effects.
18 July 2020
The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu (2009)
Producers: Devin McGinn, Oliver Garrett, and Ashleigh Nichols
Director: Henry Saine
Screenwriter: Devin McGinn
One day, Jeff comes home to find a man who tells him that he (Jeff) is the last descendant of HP Lovecraft (even though Lovecraft had no children, a fact the movie gleefully notes) and thus humanity’s last hope against the rise of Cthulhu. Just then, Cthulhu’s minions attack and Jeff must run to keep a relic away from them.
This is a silly but fun movie filled with great performances. If you are a fan of Lovecraft, you’ll probably either love or hate it. There just isn’t much in terms of middle ground here.
Starring Kyle Davis, Devin McGinn, and Barak Hardley (Spell). With notable performances by Richard Riehle (Office Space), Martin Starr (Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead), Harry Karp, Gregg Lawrence, and Edmund Lupinski.
The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with a director/actors commentary and a couple other extras. It has never been released on Blu-ray as far as I know.
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Producer: Robert L Lippert
Director: Sidney Salkow
Screenwriters: Richard Matheson and William F Leicester
Other titles: L’ultimo Uomo Della Terra
Our Review: The Last Man on Earth
This is the first and best screen version of Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend. The world has turned into vampires and Vincent Price is the only one left alive. So he spends his life trying to wipe them out. This film was highly influential on Night of the Living Dead. It gave me nightmares for years when I was a kid.
The film is in the public domain and Archive.org has an excellent copy of it. Beware: most DVD copies are dreadful. I recommend House on Haunted Hill w/ Bonus Last Man on Earth Disc IN COLOR. The color on Last isn’t very good, but the original is the best copy I’ve ever seen.
The Last Samurai (2003)
Producers: Marshall Herskovitz & Edward Zwick & Tom Cruise & Paula A Wagner & Scott Kroopf & Tom Engelman
Director: Edward Zwick
Screenwriters: John Logan and Edward Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz (story: John Logan)
An emotionally scarred veteran of the Indian wars takes a job as a consultant to the Japanese emperor to modernize his army and fight against the old-guard samurai. He is captured and becomes aligned against the emperor’s forces.
Big budget films don’t get much better than this. It’s a very human story with a ton of great action.
Starring Tom Cruise (Minority Report), Ken Watanabe (Letters from Iwo Jima), Koyuki Kato (Pulse), Shin Koyamada (Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior), Timothy Spall (Secrets & Lies), and Billy Connolly (Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events).
16 March 2021
The Late Night Double Feature (2014)
Producers: Christopher R Mihm and Stephanie Mihm
Director/Screenwriter: Christopher R Mihm
Two stories. The first about an interstellar spaceship that picks up an alien corpse on a planet that comes back to life and kills most of the crew. The second about an evil creature on Pluto that steals children from their rooms for its enjoyment.
More Mihm parodies, this time in the form of a double feature with intermission material. Some of it’s quite funny and other parts make me want to see Mihm do some straight horror.
27 August 2020
The Lathe of Heaven (1980)
Producers/Directors: David Loxton and Fred Barzyk
Screenwriters: Roger E Swaybill and Diane English (novel: Ursula K Le Guin)
A guy’s dreams become reality. His psychologist finds out and becomes obsessed with using him to create a perfect world. But things almost never go according to plan. It could have been a great comedy. Instead, somehow, it’s a great drama.
Featuring Bruce Davison (Willard), Kevin Conway, and Margaret Avery.
The film is under copyright. You can get it on DVD, but it is currently really expensive. You can probably find it on a streaming site.
Legacy of Blood (1973)
Producer/Director: Carl Monson
Screenwriter: Eric Norden (play: Carl Monson)
Alternative titles: Blood Legacy, Will to Die
At the reading of a will, the children of a rich man learn they must spend a week at his mansion to get the money. It all seems easy until they start being murdered. You’ll probably see the first surprise coming but not the second, which doesn’t make much sense anyway.
Don’t mistake this for Legacy of Blood (1978) by Andy Mulligan. I have a soft spot for him, but if history is any measure, this film is much better. The ending is cheeky, but the murders are pretty good.
Starring John Carradine (The Grapes of Wrath), Merry Anders (Raiders From Beneath the Sea), Rodolfo Acosta (Hondo), Norman Bartold, Ivy Bethune, as well as Faith Domergue and Jeff Morrow from This Island Earth.
18 April 2020
Producer: Jeffrey B Mallian
Director/Screenwriter: Mark Jones
A man manages to steal a leprechaun’s gold so the leprechaun goes on a killing spree to get his gold back.
This is an absurd and extremely fun film. It’s pretty much exactly what you would assume. I can well imagine that Irish people might find it offensive.
2 April 2021
Let Us Prey (2014)
Producers: Brendan McCarthy, John McDonnell, and Eddie Dick
Director: Brian O’Malley
Screenwriters: Fiona Watson and David Cairns
What at first seems to be a slow night at a police station turns weird and then violent when a mysterious man is brought in who sees the sins of the other inmates and officers.
This is a really effective, slow-moving horror film for the first hour. The last half-hour changes tone and becomes funny. It’s definitely worth watching, but I don’t quite understand it. Some day, maybe.
13 February 2020
Little Evil (2017)
Producers: Nicholas Nesbitt and Jason Michael Berman
Director/Screenwriter: Eli Craig
Gary just got married to Samantha whose little son Lucas isn’t really keen on his step-dad. And he can cause people to kill themselves. And he tries to bury his step-dad alive. He’s the son of Satan. Literally. But maybe with enough love and understanding, he can transcend that?
This is a hilarious parody of The Omen by the writer-director of Tucker & Dale vs Evil. Ultimately, it’s kind of a family movie though. And it’s hard to miss what it’s saying about step-parenting. It’s a great film to enjoy with your friends who refuse to watch real horror films.
Starring Adam Scott (Krampus) and Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man). Featuring Bridget Everett (Patti Cake$), Owen Atlas, and Clancy Brown (John Dies at the End). Tyler Labine (Tucker & Dale vs Evil) has a small but great part as the videographer.
Little Evil is copyrighted. It appears to only be available on Netflix, which sucks because Netflix sucks when it comes to psychotronic film.
11 July 2020
Little Monsters (2019)
Producers: Keith Calder & Jess Wu Calder and Bruna Papandrea & Steve Hutensky and Jodi Matterson
Director/Screenwriter: Abe Forsythe
A kindergarten class goes on a field trip. But a nearby military base accidentally releases their zombies. Now the children must be protected by the teacher, an uncle, and the worst children’s entertainer ever.
This film has horror elements and they are well done. But primarily, this is a romantic comedy. And much of the comedy is very sharp. The stuff with Teddy McGiggle is brilliant. But the film is also often cloying and hard to take.
2 February 2021
The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
Producer/Director: Roger Corman
Screenwriter: Charles B Griffith
A bumbling flower shop employee grows an exotic plant to bring in business and thus ingratiate himself to his boss. But the plant demands blood and eventually flesh, which he at first accidentally provides. Soon, the shop takes off but the police are snooping around.
A witty script by the writer of A Bucket of Blood. Does anyone not like this film? I’m not sure why a remake was necessary, although it too is good.
Starring Jonathan Haze (writer of Invasion of the Star Creatures), Mel Welles (Attack of the Crab Monsters), and Jackie Joseph. Featuring Dick Miller (Matinee), Myrtle Vail, and Charles B Griffith. Jack Nicholson (The Shining) has a small part.
The Little Shop of Horrors is in the public domain. There is a good copy on Archive.org. You can get a better print on DVD. It contains the colorized version, which I think looks dreadful. But the original version is there and it is nicely cleaned up. It also contains another unfortunate “comedy” track by Mike Nelson, which I always take as a slap in the face. Just stick with the free copy!
23 May 2020
Producer: “Alan Smitty”
Director: “Howie Dewin”
A llama from outer space crash lands on the Earth. It has a bad attitude and many weapons it uses to kill including: biting, punching, and laser eyes. It can also spew green liquid on people and turn them into llama-humans.
This is a very funny film although it does drag a bit at the end. It was originally made as a short but extended to a 69-minute run time. Basically, it is a Chris Seaver film but funnier and without all the offensive material. It’s a lot of fun and well worth seeking out.
Starring “Jacques M Felin,” “Pinki Brainweis,” and “John Selmy.”
Llamageddon is under copyright. It is available on Amazon Prime.
8 November 2020
The Long Good Friday (1981)
Producer: John Mackenzie
Director: Barry Hanson
Screenwriter: Barrie Keeffe
Successful London gangster Harold Shand is trying to get the mafia to back a real estate deal. But when they arrive, he is under attack from what he thinks is a rival criminal organization but is really the IRA.
This film presents gangsters as they should be presented: psychopathic thugs who flatter themselves that they are civilized. It also shows that being successful does not equate to being smart. The whole thing is an indictment of Thatcherite economic policy.
The film stars Bob Hoskins (Mona Lisa) in his break-out performance. With PH Moriarty, Helen Mirren (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover), Dave King, Bryan Marshall (Chicken), Derek Thompson (Casualty), Eddie Constantine (Alphaville), and Paul Freeman (Without a Clue). Pierce Brosnan (Tomorrow Never Dies) has a small role.
28 March 2020
The Long Hair of Death (1964)
Producer: F Testa Gay
Director: Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony Dawson)
Screenwriter: Tonino Valerii as Robert Bohr (story: Ernesto Gastaldi as Julian Berry)
Other titles: I Lunghi Capelli Della Morte
The Long Hair of Death is a Spaghetti Gothic Horror film: Barbara Steele (Castle of Blood — same director) along with a bunch of Italians. It is set in the late 15th century. Steele plays a woman wrongly convicted of murder and burned alive. When her surviving daughter is forced to marry the real murderer she rises from the grave to stop it and take vengeance. It is a surprisingly cool film.
The film also features Halina Zalewska (Giant of the Evil Island), George Ardisson (Hercules in the Haunted World), Umberto Raho (Last Man on Earth), and Giuliano Raffaelli (Fistful of Diamonds).
It is available from free on Archive.org and other places. All the copies I’ve seen have been bad, but it doesn’t hurt that much because it does add to the gothic feel of the film. Still, if you want to see it right, you should pony up a few bucks for the Raro Video Blu-ray, which is excellent and includes a few good extras.
The Lords of Salem (2012)
Producers: Rob Zombie & Jason Blum & Andy Gould & Oren Peli
Director: Rob Zombie
Witches from the distant past are burned alive but not before they issue a very detailed curse. And now a former junkie and current DJ is central to the fulfillment of the curse.
This film is gorgeous with a wonderful atmosphere. Unfortunately, the plot just kind of lays there. Overall, it’s like a Clive Barker film, but not as much fun. Just the same, it’s really worth watching. Rob Zombie does a beautiful job channeling a number of great directors.
Starring Sheri Moon Zombie (3 from Hell). Featuring Bruce Davison (Willard), Jeff Daniel Phillips (The Ice Cream Truck), Meg Foster (The Osterman Weekend), Judy Geeson (Fear in the Night), Patricia Quinn (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), and Dee Wallace (Cujo).
18 February 2021
Lost in Space (1965-1968)
Producer: Irwin Allen
Directors: Don Richardson, Sobey Martin, Nathan Juran, and 14 others
Screenwriters: Irwin Allen (creator), Peter Packer, Barney Slater, and 15 others
A family goes into space to colonize another world because the Earth is dying. But Dr Smith sabotages the flight leaving the spacecraft, well, lost in space. Most of the time they hang out on particular planets but they also bounce around a bit.
People remember this show as pretty campy and mostly about the adventures of Will, Dr Smith, and the Robot. But it didn’t start that way. It was a pretty serious show. By the end, it might as well have been set in a small town in rural America. It’s still a lot of fun but it might not be to younger viewers.
22 November 2020
Lost in Space (1998)
Producers: Mark W Koch & Stephen Hopkins & Akiva Goldsman & Carla Fry
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Screenwriter: Akiva Goldsman
The Earth will be uninhabitable within a generation, so the Robinson family heads off to homestead a planet across the galaxy to set up a “hypergate” to transport everyone on Earth there. But the evil Dr Smith manages to screw that up, which leads to a bunch of time travel stuff.
This film isn’t as bad as many say. But it’s based on the early episodes of the series before Dr Smith was transformed into the character we all know and love. In other words: the film’s not a lot of fun. But you shouldn’t be ashamed if you love this film. It definitely has its moments.
22 November 2020
Love at First Bite (1979)
Producer: Joel Freeman
Director: Stan Dragoti
Screenwriter: Robert Kaufman
The Romanian Communist Party kicks Dracula out of his castle so they can use it to train gymnasts. So he goes to America to meet a fashion model he has a crush on. While there, he battles with her sometimes boyfriend and always therapist.
This film was a huge success on its release and in my teens I found it very funny. Now, not so much. The story’s pretty good. The humor is dated. And the racism is, well, typical of its time.
24 February 2021
The Loved Ones (2009)
Producers: Mark Lazarus and Michael Boughen
Director/Screenwriter: Sean Byrne
Soon after turning down a shy girl who asks him to go to the school dance with her (because he is going with his established girlfriend), her father kidnaps him and they have their own “date” at her house where he is tortured and prepared for unspeakable captivity.
This is simply a brilliant film with shades of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It is also hard to get through. But it’s well worth experiencing for the joys of the denouement.
Starring Xavier Samuel (Frankenstein), Robin McLeavy (Backtrack), John Brumpton (Last Ride), Richard Wilson (The Proposition), Jessica McNamee (The Neighbor), Suzi Dougherty, and Victoria Thaine (The Caterpillar Wish).
29 January 2021
Lovely Molly (2012)
Producers: Robin Cowie & Gregg Hale & Jane Fleming & Mark Ordesky
Director: Eduardo Sánchez
Screenwriter: Eduardo Sánchez (story: Jamie Nash)
A newlywed woman is living with her husband in the house of her dead parents. She hears things and seems to be haunted by her abusive dead father. Or maybe she’s back on drugs.
This is a really effective film with a denouement that makes little sense. I won’t spoil it but where it is going is not vague so much as incoherent. Still, for a about 40 minutes, I was rivetted. I just wish good filmmakers like Sánchez would learn that they need to partner with good screenwriters.
30 January 2021