Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mob Better Blues!

The Outfit (MGM, 1973)

Before the Camera:

Robert Duvall (THX-1138)
Joe Don Baker (Walking Tall)
Karen Black (Airport '75)
Robert Ryan (Captain Nemo and the Underwater City)
Timothy Carey (The World's Greatest Sinner)
Richard Jaeckel (The Dirty Dozen)
Sheree North (Maniac Cop)
Bill McKinney (Deliverance)
and if you look fast -
Marie Windsor (Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy)
Elisha Cook, Jr. (College Confidential)
Joanna Cassidy (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?)
Henry Jones (Dirty Dingus Magee)
I think Hoyt Axton (Gremlins) is in there too, but he's not listed in it anywhere. Still, if it's not him he had a twin...
Behind the Camera:

Directed by John Flynn

Produced by Carter DeHaven

Written by John Flynn, based on the novel by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake)

    Here we have a down-n-dirty lean and mean crime melodrama, based on a novel by Donald Westlake writing under his harder edged Richard Stark pseudonym. Macklin (Duvall) is released from prison and finds out from his longtime girlfriend Bett (Black) that his brother has been killed gangland style. A little digging turns up the info that the last bank Macklin and his brother robbed was a front for the mob (or Outfit) run by Mailer (Ryan). They put the hit on Macklin's bro, now they want to make it a double Macklin funeral. But he's not going to go gently into that good night and instead goes on the run with Bett. Through one of Mailer's captains, Menner (Carey), Macklin gets word to Mailer that all will be forgiven if the mob will shuck out $250,000 to him. Otherwise, he will commence an attack on their enterprises like they've never seen. (Lesson #1: When a guy like Macklin comes to you asking for $250,000, give it to him. Then kill him later when he's drunk and covered in hookers...) The Outfit respectfully indicates their answer is no, sure their torpedoes will find their mark before Macklin can cause too much trouble. But Macklin's a crafty devil, and re-teaming with his old pal Cody (Baker) they start running and gunning on The Outfit's operations, stealing thousands of dollars that Macklin has already warned would not reduce the $250,000 debt he feels he is owed. Gunfire, fistfights, pistol whippings, girl smackings, and car chases all ensue.

Duvall and Baker discover laundry is the most dangerous chore of all.

Thematically it's very similar to Westlake's novel The Hunter (filmed twice - 1967's Point Blank and 1999's Payback) - with a lead character not likely to win any church or civic awards looking to score a very specific amount of money from a gang of criminals he feels wronged him; but it's also different from both of those films and stands on its own. It's nice to see character pro Duvall get the lead here, and he's ably supported by that cast of familiar faces, with standout awards going to Baker, Carey, and especially Ryan, in his final role - he died before the film was released. The ladies don't have all that much to do, and the movie will never be mistaken for a National Organization for Women training flick, but the actresses do get in a couple of nice moments, Black with that strange allure she always brings to the table, and North nearly falling out of a flimsy little nothing she almost wears in her scene. Director Flynn handles his duties adroitly, keeping a solid pace but not forgetting some solid character moments along the way. These aren't people you would want to have over for Sunday dinner, but it's fun to watch them run around waving guns at each other for an hour and forty minutes.

Let's Get Out of Here ?

At about the 10:00 mark, Karen Black goes large with The Line, proposing a new start on life to Robert Duvall. He declines, natch.

Eye Candy ?

Although Karen Black could qualify, she doesn't get the necessary showcase here. Sheree North, however, tramps right over and takes the prize for this flick.

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "The Outfit is good actors, good action, good times!"

Until next time, you can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tenlist Presents: Introducing Blog-O-Rama! The amazing new technology that makes sure your blog titles never get cut o

10 Great Movie Technologies That Never Caught On

1.) Smell-O-Vision (Scent of Mystery - 1960)

Producer Mike Todd (l) and inventor Hans Laube (r) flank the amazing Smell-O-Vision machine.
Imagine a mystery movie where the most important clues are scents the viewer smells courtesy of a system piping it to all the seats in the theater. Now imagine all of those smells adding to each other and combining over the course of the movie into one big reek by the climax, and you'll know why Mike Todd's scentsational process never really caught on.

2.) Odorama (Polyester - 1981)

Technology at its zenith: The Odorama card.
Here's a less cumbersome version of the same idea, but this time, instead of pumped in smells, this John Waters comedy used numbered scratch-n-sniff cards. When the number flashed on the screen, a scratch and a sniff got you the scent of what was on screen. Of course, they played a couple of tricks, flashing the number on a shot of something pleasant smelling (like a vase of roses) and then panning while the viewer was scratching and sniffing to a pile of dog poo or a pair of old gym shoes. Cute idea, but the intrusiveness of the flashing numbers and the expense of producing the cards meant this would not be a widely used process.

3.) Duovision (Wicked Wicked - 1973)

Duovision in action - a character's flashback to youth plays out beside a modern day scene.

Although directors Brian DePalma and Steven Soderbergh have made use of the split screen technique to show two or more actions occurring at the same time in their movies, they didn't give it a rather pompous name and announce it in the trailer like this horror flick did. A masked psycho stalks and kills women in a luxury hotel, and we see pretty much the whole movie through a split screen. Sometimes it's the same action from two angles, sometimes it's two different characters in two different places. Interestingly, this means the movie is really about three hours long, but thanks to most of it doubling up you can watch it in an hour and forty minutes or so. The movie really wasn't bad, but it is a bit of sensory overload. It also prevented the movie from being shown on television or being released on video for many years since the very wide screen was needed to see both sides of the action. No one seemed to like the movie back then, and it had no second life on tv or video due to the extremely widescreen picture(s), so Wicked Wicked bombed and Duovision became Don'tovision.

4.) Hallucinogenic Hypnovision (The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies - 1964)

As the woman branded with "the wart of horror" looks on, Hallucinogenic Hypnovision strikes!
This is probably the most technologically advanced and complicated of the processes on this list. I'll try to explain it as simply as I can. Here goes: at a couple of points in the movie, guys wearing monster masks would come out and run up and down the aisles. Wow, the mind boggles.

5.) Emergo (The House on Haunted Hill - 1959)

Master gimmick guy William Castle gives us his first improbably named one-film-only process for this horror movie. When Vincent Price menaces someone in the movie with a skeleton on wires, a glowing inflatable skeleton would emerge from a container mounted over the screen and sail on wires over the audience's heads. Legend has it that after word got around about it among neighborhood kids who saw the first couple of shows, the skeleton would find itself attacked by some wisenheimer with a slingshot and usually not survive to the end of the movie's run in that theater.

6.) Percepto (The Tingler - 1959)

The second of William Castle's super gimmicks appeared in his second Vincent Price fright flick. When a killer worm-like creature in the movie gets loose in a movie theater, the film seems to break in YOUR theater and a voice tells you to scream for your life since that sound will kill the little beastie. To help get you in the mood, several theater seats would be wired to "tingle" and give your backside the feeling of a worm invasion.

7.) Illusion-O (13 Ghosts - 1960)

To complete his gimmick hat trick William Castle used a 3-D like process on his suburban family vs ghosts epic, rendering the spirity ones viewable only through special glasses given out in the theater supposedly to allow the meek in the audience to avoid seeing the spooky specters.

8.) Cinemagic (The Angry Red Planet - 1959)

To make their low budget special effects a little more special, they colored all of those shots reddish-pink in this "astronauts vs monsters on Mars" movie. Kinda went big on the name there, huh? Maybe they should have called it Cine-Not-That-Special.

9.) Psychorama (Terror in the Haunted House - 1958)

Turns out our newer technology, the DVD freeze frame, trumps Psychorama.
To make their not-particularly-frightening scarepic a bit more terrifying, the producers latched on to the then-new process of subliminal imagery, flashing quick split-second shots of images chosen to produce fear, or at least a sense on unease in the viewer. It didn't really work, so they tried again the next year with A Date with Death. However, someone in authority somewhere suddenly got nervous about Psychorama, and soon after the process was banned from being used in films or television for years, so the producers went back to making their usual boring movies.

10.) Sensurround (Earthquake - 1974 / Midway - 1976 / Rollercoaster - 1977 / Battlestar Galactica: The Movie - 1978) ]

All right, four films across five years, maybe that doesn't entirely count as "never catching on." However, the story of Sensurround is too good to miss. With an extra set of special speakers installed in the theater, Sensurround utilized ultra low frequency sound waves to produce real vibrations and rumbles which could actually be felt by the patrons. This process was used during the noisier parts of the earthquake scenes since the low frequency also produced sound in addition to the vibrations. During Earthquake's run, Mann's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles developed cracks in the ceiling (however, the theater owners installed netting to catch the plaster rather than end the hit film's run); several people experienced nosebleeds across the country; some theaters and adjacent buildings were structurally damaged; and reportedly one poor soul somewhere suffered cracked ribs! The process was refined twice, adding more sound range for Midway and Rollercoaster and then culminating in Sensurround III for Battlestar Galactica. For the latter, the process used infrasonic effects that could be felt but NOT heard. Thus, scenes could have dialogue and other audio at standard levels while accompanied by the effect of movement. Or, the infrasonic sounds could be combined with higher frequency sounds to create the effect of wind; this was used when the Battlestar Atlantia explodes. And as the Viper spaceships took off down the launch tubes, the infrasonic waves were quickly 'panned' from the back to the front of the theater, creating the sensation of "launching" in the audience. However, the fact that the system had to be specially installed (800 theaters had it in the U.S.), that there was a weekly rental fee to Universal Studios, and that it could only be used for special movies eventually killed Sensurround.

Until next time...you can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Still Biting After All These Years!

Piranha 3-D (Dimension Films, 2010)

Before the camera:

Elizabeth Shue (Adventures in Babysitting)
Ving Rhames (Casualties of War)
Jerry O'Connell (Stand by Me)
Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future)
Steven R. McQueen (grandson of Steve McQueen!)
Jessica Szohr (TV's Gossip Girl)
Adam Scott (Torque)
Dina Meyer (TV's Birds of Prey)
Kelly Brook (The Italian Job)
Riley Steele (adult entertainment aplenty)
Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws)

Behind the camera:

Directed by Alexandre Aja

Produced by Alexandre Aja, Mark Canton, Grégory Levasseur, Marc Toberoff and 13 other assorted associate and executive producers

Written by Peter Goldfinger & Josh Stolberg

    Although it sports the same title, this is less a remake of the 1978 drive-in classic produced by Roger Corman and directed by Joe Dante than it is a VERY rated R Syuh Fyuh (SyFy - but I write it phonetically) channel Saturday night premiere flick. But this one has the clear advantage of being in 3-D! We start to realize the tongue might be in the cheek in the opening moments as the old guy we see fishing in a small boat turns out to be Richard Dreyfuss in his Matt Hooper outfit from Jaws, singing “Show Me the Way to Go Home” (the song he and Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw sing out on the Orca in Spielberg’s classic) and drinking “Amity” brand beer. Moments later, seismic activity in the lake bed underneath results in our learning several lessons: Lesson #1: this movie is keeping things nice and simple. No long scenes of the local seismic monitoring station predicting quakes to come, no town officials being mad about impending quake activity, none of that. Richard Dreyfuss, Jaws jokes, quake, killer fish swimming up out of resulting crack in lake bed. Lesson #2: there is going to be a lot of CGI in this movie, and it’s going to range from pretty good to PlayStation 1 cut scene in quality; and Lesson #3: they could only afford Richard Dreyfuss for one day.

"What? Was Lorraine Gary too BUSY?"

    From there we get 3-D credits, and then settle in for a little plot as we meet our characters. Young Jake (McQueen) is the son of the town sheriff (Shue) and is on a very short leash, forced to miss out on the town’s annual spring break festivities again to babysit his younger brother and sister (who seemed cloned from the youngest duo on the Partridge Family). He has an almost dating thing going on with Kelly (Szohr) and gets 3-D sodas thrown on him by the town bullies. His luck changes when he meets the gorgeous Danni (Brook) then changes again when he meets her boss Derrick Jones (O'Connell), the hyperactive producer/director of the naughty "Wild Wild Girls" DVD series. With his hormones a'ragin' Jake makes plans to pay off the little ones to stay home and is hired to join the production crew on Jones' rented yacht ostensibly to show the producer the most visually sumptuous spots on the lake but really to see Danni and her co-star Crystal in bikinis and hopefully even less. In the meantime the sheriff and her trusted deputy (Rhames, wasted here, sad to say) find Dreyfuss's chewed up body and send it off for autopsy. The next day, we gear up all of our subplots: while she waits for the autopsy results, Shue also welcomes a scuba crew from that local seismic activity organization I mentioned who plan to dive down and take a look at what the quakes did to the lake's bottom; Jake heads out with Derrick and crew, but not before finding Kelly invited along by the ultra lecherous video producer; to better their fishing (and put more people in jeopardy in several different places) the Partridge Family twins leave the house, jump in a rowboat and paddle over to a small island nearby where they promptly lose the boat back out into the middle of the lake, stranding them; and the producers manage to get about a thousand extras into the town harbor for the Spring Break party. At about the same time, everyone figures out there are prehistoric piranha in the lake when people near them go into the water and red spew foams up. Eventually one is captured and taken to the local pet shop owner (Lloyd) who doubles as a prehistoric fish expert. (!) He warns Shue to get everyone out of the lake, but that's not going to be easy, starting with her kids. Who will survive, and what will be left of them?

After thirty seconds, anyone in the water was Eli Roth's date for the night.

This is a wonderfully silly horror flick done to a T, with gratuitous EVERYTHING, and that goes triple for the cameo by Hostel director Eli Roth. Among the highlights: a nude underwater ballet between Brook and Steele (after they'd been down for about four minutes without air my niece and movie watching bud Sandra leaned over and said they sure were holding their breath for a long time - I pointed out they were wearing their air tanks right up front); more ways to kill people with fish and boating equipment than you ever would have believed possible - good mix of Greg Nicotero & Howard Berger makeup effects and CGI gore here; hundreds of babes in bikinis, a couple of dozen babes out of bikinis; one cheeky piranha who swims into closeup and all but winks at the audience; and 3-D that was added later but obviously planned for early enough to get quite a bit of the usual stuff into your face, and some things I never expected to see floating before my eyes in a 3-D movie. Just when you think this movie has gone as far as it can go in terms of outrageousness, director Aja finds a way to take it a bit further. Rumor has it that Aja wanted Piranha director Dante and Piranha II: The Spawning director James Cameron (yes, that one!) to pop in for a shared cameo as boating safety instructors. As might be expected, Dante was up for it, but Cameron "couldn't fit it in his schedule." That's too bad, as it would have been a hoot. And, despite this flick being almost a complete departure from the original, there is one very welcome climactic nod to the 1978 gem involving McQueen, a boat, and a long (almost magically long) rope that ties them together. As for the acting, Shue, McQueen and Scott play it straight, which does give the later reels some decent suspense, but everyone else is showing up for a wink and a paycheck, which is just fine too. Kudos must also go to O'Connell, who pulls out all the stops in his depiction of Screen Weaseldom right through to his expected messy end. The biggest disappointment is that Rhames, who has a bravura last scene, is given almost nothing else to do. Why hire him if you're not going to let him throw off some wry lines like he does in the Mission: Impossible movies? Still, that's quibbling in a movie like this. It is a lot of fun, and you know going in what you're going to see, (or maybe you don't - all the more reason then) so by all means throw on the glasses and give this one a try!

Let's Get Out Of Here ?

Well, I hate to say it, but with all of the visual assault that is Piranha 3-D unspooling before my eyes, my ears let me down and did not catch The Line in my one viewing in the theater. But I would bet real money it's in there somewhere, and as soon as I confirm it, this section will be rewritten so I don't come off looking so bad...

Eye Candy ?

You tell me.

Kelly Brook (l) and Riley Steele (r)

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "It's got almost everything you could want in a movie called Piranha 3-D. Except Dick Miller."

Until next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Now You Don't See Him, Now You Still Don't!

Abbott and Costello Meet The Invisible Man  (Universal, 1951)


Before the camera:

Bud Abbott (worked with Lou Costello a lot)
Lou Costello (worked with Bud Abbott a lot)
Nancy Guild (Francis Covers the Big Town)
Arthur Franz (Invaders from Mars '53)
Adele Jergens (Beware of Blondie)
William Frawley (Fred Mertz himself!)
Sheldon Leonard (Another Thin Man - and our first digression - Sheldon Leonard is a pretty danged cool guy -  he went from playing gangsters in almost every acting role he got - from a movie in 1934 to an episode of Dream On in 1992 - the IMDB lists over a hundred acting credits - to being an incredibly successful television producer and director - some of his producing credits include The Danny Thomas Show, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Gomer Pyle USMC and I Spy. I'm guessing he must have had a hand in the early days of currently prolific writer producer Chuck Lorre's career since the lead characters on The Big Bang Theory are named Sheldon and Leonard in his honor.)

Big Bang Shmig Bang, but I'd make time with that blonde they got!

Behind the camera:

Directed by Charles Lamont

Produced by Howard Christie

Written by Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, and John Grant (story by Hugh Wedlock Jr. and Howard Snyder)

    By the early 50's, Abbott and Costello had been making movies for ten years, but after spending several years in the mid-40's as the biggest stars in Universal Studios' stable of contract players their stars began to wane a bit. Their formula of a wisp of a plot stretched around several of their old vaudeville routines had gotten a bit stale. Then, in 1948, their stars rose again when they went high concept and starred in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein which pitted them against the titular monster as well as Count Dracula and the Wolfman. This film did boffo box office, so the studio looked for lightning to strike again by putting the boys up against more scary folk every second or third picture, like 1949's Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff. More big time box office ensued, and that led to this picture in 1951, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1953, and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy in 1955.
     The boys play their usual characters, here named Bud Alexander and Lou Francis, which happen to be the actors' middle names, which I guess kind of makes up for their later work when they stopped even coming up with character names and just called each other Abbott and Costello. The boys graduate detective school (thanks to Bud's bribe on Lou's behalf) and they immediately find a case when they get mixed up with Tommy Nelson (Franz), a prizefighter wanted for the murder of his manager. Tommy asserts his innocence, but A&C don't believe it. Tommy forces the duo to take him to his girlfriend's house, where they conveniently continue to hang around long enough for events to take a turn for the contrived when it just so happens that Tommy's girlfriend (Guild) has a scientist uncle who just happens to have been bequeathed The Invisible Man's formula by the Unseen One himself - and there's a framed photo of Claude Rains on the wall, making this a direct sequel to the first movie! Tommy wants to use the formula to turn invisible and seek out the real murderers but Uncle Philip nixes this, explaining about the formula's degenerative effect on its user's mental stability. But then the police, led by Frawley, show up, and while they are making their way inside, Tommy grabs a needle full of no see juice and plunges it into his arm. From there we get invisible slapstick aplenty, as the boys go undercover as a boxer (Lou) and his manager (Bud) and the Invisible Man goes naked to get the goods on gangster Morgan (Leonard) who really sent Tommy's manager to the Great Beyond. (Lesson #1: if you're a gangster guilty of murder, and you insist on talking about your crimes with your henchmen in auditoriums and such, pay attention to the next row of seats - if one often folds out like someone is sitting in it, listening in, assume someone is!) Morgan retaliates by sending his confederate Boots (Jergens) to spy on the boys.

Boy, are we glad this isn't Abbott and Costello Meet The Invisible Woman!
    It all comes down to a wild finale involving a boxing match between Lou and Tommy's archenemy, who doesn't realize there are two opponents in the ring with him. The final gag doesn't make a lick of sense, but I'll bet you remember it if you saw the movie long ago or you will remember it if you watch it now.
    All in all, this shapes up as one of the better latter day Abbott and Costello films. It's not really one of the A&C monster movies, since the Invisible Man here is on their side. There is a subplot about the invisibility formula's effect on Tommy's psyche, but little is made of it and he never threatens the boys. The special effects are very good, as was typical of Universal Studios. A lot of people who review this film, however, really go out of their way to praise the effects. I wonder, do these people realize how little of the film's scenes actually feature an "erased" Arthur Franz? I almost think they believe he's actually there and erased in every shot the Invisible Man is in, but that is not the case. I'd say the shots where Franz was actually "on camera" but rendered invisible is probably around a dozen or so. The rest of the movie uses a lot of other tricks, like props on wires, empty shots with voiceovers, doors opened by off camera stagehands, and even a really cool shot when the now unseen Tommy shucks his pants which actually uses a physical wireframe model wearing pants with remote controlled unbuttoning. Still, regardless of how the effects were achieved, they combine very well to give Abbott and Costello their most transparent co-star ever and make this movie a solid recommendation for the comedy team's fans or anyone who enjoys a little old fashioned comedy now and again.

Let's Get Out of Here ?
Oh my, The Line gets a real workout here, occurring at approximately 10:00 as Lou reminds Bud they're with an accused murderer; again at about 23:30 when Tommy sees the police arriving; again at 54:00, right after a bar patron takes a punch he didn't see coming; and finally once more at 1:13:00 when Bud takes the prize by saying it twice in quick succession to get Lou moving.

Eye Candy ?
Sadly, though both Nancy Guild and Adele Jergens are kind of cute, neither qualify for the coveted title to these jaded eyes. Guild has a jawline only Jay Leno could love, and Jergens is a bit over the top in her blonde glory, getting dangerously close to "possible drag queen" territory. Better luck next time, ladies!

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "Re: Abbott and Costello Meet The Invisible Man, my advice to you: always bet on Bud and Lou."

Thank you sir, and until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Run for the border!

Bandolero! (Twentieth Century Fox, 1968)

Before the camera:

James Stewart (Airport '77)
Dean Martin (Airport)
Raquel Welch (Mother, Jugs, and Speed)
George Kennedy (Airport, Airport '75, Airport '77, The Concorde: Airport '79)
Andrew Prine (Grizzly)
Will Geer (Grampa Walton himself!)
Clint Ritchie (TV's One Life to Live)
Denver Pyle (Uncle Jessie Himself!)
and if you look fast -
Dub Taylor (Back to the Future III)
Harry Carey Jr. (Back to the Future III)
Perry Lopez (Death Wish 4: The Crackdown)
Jock Mahoney (Tarzan in Tarzan the Magnificent)
Roy Barcroft (Retik, Ruler of the Moon in Radar Men from the Moon)

Behind the camera:

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen

Produced by Robert L. Jacks

Written by James Lee Barrett and Stanley Hough (story)

    When bank robber Dee Bishop (Martin) and his gang (including Geer and Ritchie) ride into the small town of Val Verde with larceny in mind, things go awry and some locals are shot, including the husband of Maria (Welch). The gang also finds Sheriff July Johnson (Kennedy) and Deputy Bookbinder (Prine) a little better prepared than they expected and soon after they are sitting in the town jail, watching some gallows being constructed.

    Elsewhere, older brother Mace Bishop (Stewart) hears that his little brother is about to put his head in a noose, and is soon on his way to Val Verde disguised as the very hangman meant to do the neck stretching. On the day the hanging is to occur, Mace does a little of the old "slip your brother a gun" trick and shortly thereafter the Bishop gang is on the way out of town with a posse led by Sheriff Johnson hot on their trail. This leaves the unsuccessfully robbed town bank completely unguarded, and Mace (whose complicity in the escape has not been revealed) helps himself to $10,000 in his first bank job ever.

    Four plot developments and one crossing of the border later, Dee and his boys have kidnapped Maria, Mace has worked around in front of the posse and joined up with his brother, Dee Bishop starts to make googoo eyes at Maria, and the posse finds itself losing men one by one as Mexican bandits (the bandolero of the title) pick off the last guy in line with deadly efficiency time and time again. (Lesson #1: if you're headed into Mexico as a part of George Kennedy's posse, don't ride the slowest horse. It's like throwing on a red shirt on the Enterprise...)
Eventually the groups meet up in a ghost town looted to the bone by those bandits, and enemies may have to band together to survive when the bandits return to make their final attack. Otherwise, perhaps no one will escape...the Bandolero!

I'll tell Sammy he's got to move out. What do you say?

    This is kind of an old fashioned Western that makes some attempts to be modern a la 1968: we cast our cast in shades of gray (the heroes are kinda bad guys, the sheriff is a little creepy - it is pointed out often that he's leading the posse to recover Maria and put the moves on her, not catch the bank robbers); there are very visible bullet holes on those who get shot, and there are a couple of bloody moments when the Mexican bandits start slicing and dicing the supporting cast. And it is an entertaining film. We never believe Stewart and Martin are brothers, but it's fun to watch them pretend to be. Stewart is a rock as always, and Martin impresses whenever he shows up to actually act, as he does here. We never believe Welch is Mexican (what is that accent?) or anything less than a 1968 woman dressed old timey (nice false eyelashes!) but she's easy on the peepers and no less welcome for her acting issues. And Kennedy and Prine both turn in sterling work and have great chemistry together. It's great to see so many familiar faces sprinkled throughout the cast, and director McLaglen keeps the flick moving along and provides some stunning landscapes for the action to play out against. All in all, Bandolero rates a solid recommendation for anyone who enjoys a Western now and again and is a must for fans. Check it out!

Let's Get Out of Here ?

Approximately 34 minutes in, someone in the Bishop gang proposes they all vacate Val Verde vivaciously.

Eye Candy?

Yes, despite (or because of) her refusal to leave her makeup bag at home, Raquel Welch definitely makes the list.

Buddha Man Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "Esta película es buena y usted lo debe mirar!"

Until next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, 'Cause I Am Outta Here!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tenlist Presents: Gimme that Show!

10 TV Shows Usurped by a Supporting Character

1. Steve Urkel (Jaleel White) on Family Matters

2. Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) on Happy Days

3. Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris), Will Robinson (Billy Mumy) and the Robot (Bob May/Dick Tufeld) on Lost In Space

4. J.J. Evans (Jimmie Walker) on Good Times

5. Sandra Clark (Jackee') on 227

6. Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) on Family Ties

7. J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) on Dallas

8. Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) on Star Trek

9. Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum) on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

10. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) on The Big Bang Theory

Okay, I'm officially enjoying this whole blog thing - I'm liking the format for the reviews; I've been thinking about utilizing Let's Get Out of Here, the most used line of dialogue in movies, as the hook in my reviews for quite a while and think it's a nifty title for the blog; I'm also enjoying being able to put pictures in, and for those who think the main review is too wordy, I've even enlisted Buddha Man to gives us his concise thoughts in a capsule review! Hopefully in between the reviews there will be various other odes to the culture of pop and I think it'll be fun to try to do a Tenlist once a week as well. If things go as planned, the first of these are a few inches above these words. If you know anyone who enjoys this kind of stuff, please recommend it to them as I would enjoy seeing how much regular readership I can attain.

Til next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, 'Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Snakes?! Why did it have to be snakes?!

Cult of the Cobra (Universal, 1955)

Before the Camera:

Faith Domergue (This Island Earth),
Richard Long (TV's Nanny and the Professor)
Marshall Thompson (Fiend Without a Face)
Kathleen Hughes (It Came from Outer Space)
David Janssen (The Fugitive himself!)
Jack Kelly (Bart Maverick himself!)

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Francis Lyon
Produced by Howard Pine
Written by Jerry Davis, Cecil Maiden, and Richard Collins

In the 1950's, Universal Studios had their last great run at the science fiction, fantasy, and horror pictures they'd been pwning since the monumental releases of Dracula and Frankenstein in 1931. They had zipped through the previous decade mainly cranking out sequels starring different conglomerations of their famed Universal Studios Monsters, but those horror worthies were relegated to facing off against Abbott and Costello by the end of the decade. Universal rather admirably turned to a series of new monsters, and while some of them were a little out there (The Monolith Monsters, anyone?) having all new beasties to marvel at was probably more exciting than a ninth or tenth entry on the Frankenstein monster's resume'.
     The story here gives us six servicemen stationed in Asia in 1945, looking for kicks as World War II nears its end. They hear tell of a local cult who worship snakes and are even legendarily able to transform into snakes. One well placed bribe later, the sextet find themselves duded up in robes and watching one of the cult's rituals, warned to keep a low profile or face possible death. The ritual itself seems to consist more of variety show dancing than snake transformations, but finally there is a snake on a string that comes out of the same woven basket a woman crawled into. It's not much different than a bad Las Vegas magic show, but that doesn't stop the dumbest member of the group whipping out his trusty camera, which of course is the size of a lunch box and is equipped with a giant flash bulb.

    Flash! Sure enough, this causes no end of consternation among the cultists, and the film's biggest surprise occurs when the boys are summarily cursed by none other than the Chief of Control himself.

What do you mean I'm uncredited? I'm Ed Platt, dammit!

    One guy runs a bit faster than the others, and he is soon after found snakebit outside the cult clubhouse. Luckily this doesn't kill him, but a second run-in with a snaky shadow in his hospital room sends him to the Great Beyond. Wow, that's just like what Ed Platt said, but the rest of the boys have to get packed to head home, so la-de-da.

Richard Long goes Hef before Hef.
    Back in America, the guys go about getting back to their lives, with Long and Thompson rooming with each other heterosexually and fighting over the winsome Julia (Hughes). Then just as Julia decides to go Long, Domergue shows up as a mystery woman and new girlfriend for Thompson, and shortly after, the boys start to find themselves facing off against that same snaky shadow, now backed up with low level snake-eye camera shots. Although the deaths seem to be accidents (car crash, fall off a balcony) only Long notices the bite marks seeping deadly cobra venom...
    What is Domergue's secret, and will Long be able to convince Thompson she's not what she seems? Or will Thompson assume Long is just c-blocking him again after winning over Julia? The answers await those brave enough to face...The Cult of the Cobra!

This is what James Garner might have seen
if he had astigmatism...
    This is not a bad little flick, helped immensely by the presence of familiar faces like Long, Kelly, and Janssen. Top billed Domergue is okay, a little too conflicted in her mission perhaps - it might have been more fun if she took more evil delight in her misdeeds, but that's a quibble. The movie is also a little light on monster action, as we only get a few shots of that String Cobra, er, I mean, King Cobra, in action, mainly making do with the aforementioned snake shadow and snake-eye camera. But it's fun in that 1950's horror flick way, with almost nobody working any kind of visible job - Hughes is in some kind of show, and Janssen runs a bowling alley back in the states, but the rest just hang out, drinking and smoking and not worrying about death curses. For that alone, this one gets a recommendation, just keep the anti snake venom serum handy!

Let's Get Out of Here ?

Around the 15:00 minute mark, Marshall Thompson uses The Line to advise Richard Long to drop the basket so they can vacate the area to avoid further encounters with angry snake cultists.

Eye Candy ?

Kathleen Hughes qualifies for the list in all her slender blonde glory.


Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "Cult of the Cobra is a little
slow, but I've seen worse movies. This week!"

Till next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!