Short Takes: #

100 Bloody Acres (2012)

Producers: Julie Ryan and Kate Croser
Directors/Screenwriters: The Cairnes brothers

Two brothers have a successful business creating fertilizer. To improve the product, they include the flesh and bones of road kill. And eventually humans killed in car accidents. And, as the film starts, three young tourists on their way to a music festival.

This is a funny but deeply disturbing film. I’m kind of surprised that it’s been as widely praised as it is because it seems tonally inconsistent. Chop from the year before is better. But this is still an admirable film.

Starring Damon Herriman (Judy and Punch) and Anna McGahan (Spirit of the Game). Featuring Angus Sampson (The Mule), Oliver Ackland (Wasted on the Young), Jamie Kristian, and Chrissie Page.

100 Bloody Acres is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. Be careful because there are a few different Region 2 releases.

6 June 2020

12 Monkeys (1995)

Producer: Charles Roven
Director: Terry Gilliam
Screenwriters: David Peoples & Janet Peoples

The human race has to live underground because of a virus that was released in the past. James Cole is sent back in time to find the source of the virus. Cole develops a relationship with his therapist who believes he is insane.

Based on the French short film La Jetée. It’s an amazing film — the best from Gilliam. The script by the Peoples is fantastic.

Starring Bruce Willis (The Fifth Element) in his best role, Madeleine Stowe (The Last of the Mohicans), and Brad Pitt (Seven).

12 Monkeys is under copyright. It is available with good extras on both DVD and Blu-ray.

The 13th Floor (1988)

Producers: David Hannay and Charles Hannah
Director/Screenwriter: Chris Roache

A young woman is on the run from her evil gangster/politician father. She squats with friends in the unfinished 13th floor of an office building. She is protected by the ghost of a child killed by her father 12 years earlier.

This film works despite a disjointed plot. It’s kind of like an upscale Smithereens (1982) but with more likable characters. Also: hitmen and a ghost.

Starring Lisa Hensley. With Miranda Otto (I, Frankenstein), Tim McKenzie, and Tony Blackett.

The 13th Floor is under copyright. I don’t think it has ever come out on disc. It is, however, available on VHS.

13 Frightened Girls (1963)

Producer/Director: William Castle
Screenwriter: Robert Dillon
Alternate titles: The Candy Web

The daughter of a US diplomat uses her friendship with a Chinese girl to uncover a nefarious plot by China.

This is basically a children’s film. It’s the only William Castle film that I will never watch again. Its combination of Cold War arrogance and chipper American can-do attitude is aneurysm-producing. Just the same, it’s a well-made film.

Starring Kathy Dunn, Murray Hamilton (Jaws), Joyce Taylor (Atlantis, The Lost Continent), and Khigh Dhiegh (The Manchurian Candidate).

13 Frightened Girls is under copyright. You can get it alone on DVD but why would you? For less money, you can get William Castle Film Collection, which also comes with four good films: 13 Ghosts, Mr Sardonicus, Homicidal, and The Old Dark House.

11 May 2020

13 Ghosts (1960)

Producer/Director: William Castle
Screenwriter: Robb White

A family that is struggling economically inherits a haunted house. But the crazy uncle who left it to them also hid a fortune in cash somewhere inside. Now the family must battle ghosts and thieves to survive.

This is a wonderful haunted house film that isn’t really scary and should appeal to kids. It also features one of William Castle’s most pathetic gimmicks. But that’s part of the fun!

Starring Charles Herbert (The Fly), Martin Milner (Adam-12), Jo Morrow (Sunday in New York), Donald Woods (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms), Rosemary DeCamp (Yankee Doodle Dandy), and Margaret Hamilton (The Wizard of Oz).

13 Ghosts is under copyright. It is available on DVD. It is available on Blu-ray with 13 Frightened Girls. Better to get the William Castle Film Collection, which comes with 13 Firghtened Girls, Mr Sardonicus, Homicidal, and The Old Dark House.

11 May 2020

1922 (2017)

Producer: Ross M Dinerstein
Director: Zak Hilditch
Screenwriter: Zak Hilditch (Novella: Stephen King)

A farmer kills his wife with his son’s help rather than make even the smallest compromise with her. But then things go to hell. And he’s menaced by rats. And his dead wife.

This is a fabulous, if unusual, horror film. In many ways, it isn’t really a horror film simply because it is presented more as a drama. But it is engaging from beginning to end. Definitely worth seeking out!

Starring Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Dylan Schmid, and Neal McDonough (Ravenous).

1922 is a Netflix production, so you can watch it there. It doesn’t seem to have been released on disc, which is a shame.

13 July 2024

2 Young 2 Die (2006)

Producer: David Sterling
Director: David Palmieri
Screenwriter: Keith Schaffner (additional material: Jeremiah Campbell)
Alternate titles: Axegrinder

A group of young people camp in an area where, according to folklore, an ax murderer roams. And he really exists. Maybe. Lots and lots of deaths.

This is a standard kill-fest with some notable moments. I find the clever ending confusing, but it doesn’t much matter. The film delivers.

Starring Cassie Daniels (Slaughterhouse Phi: Death Sisters), Chris Todd, Jennifer Peo, and several others.

2 Young 2 Die is under copyright. It is available on DVD without any extras.

20 June 2020

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

Producer: Charles H Schneer
Director: Nathan Juran
Screenwriter: Kenneth Kolb

Sinbad is on his way to Bagdad with Princess Parisa who is soon to be his very willing bride as part of an international peace deal with Chandra. On the way, they stop at Colossa where they are attacked by a cyclops which makes off with the magician Sokurah’s magic lamp. Sokurah will do anything to get the lamp back — and does, much to the pain of Sinbad and Parisa, who gets shrunk to tiny size.

I know the point of the film are Ray Harryhausen’s effects but even without them, this is a fun story. Despite somewhat adult content, I think everyone should watch it with their kids. Frankly, the film makes me feel like a boy again.

Starring Kerwin Mathews (The 3 Worlds of Gulliver), Kathryn Grant (The Night the World Exploded), and Torin Thatcher (Blackbeard, the Pirate). Featuring Alfred Brown, Richard Eyer (The Invisible Boy), and Alec Mango (Captain Horatio Hornblower).

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is under copyright. There are lots of ways you can get it including on Amazon Prime. But it pays to get a good copy. Some of the effects show degradation regardless, but the film itself is beautiful. I recommend either of the Sony releases on DVD or Blu-ray. The quality is excellent and they come with commentary with Harryhausen and others, 3 half-hour featurettes, and more.

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