Review: The Monster of Piedras Blancas

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“Oh, crap. I forgot to put on my silky underthings BEFORE I got into the costume. Er, they prevent chafing, you know, right…”

MFPB_MP2On one hand, Irvin Berwick’s 1959 flick The Monster of Piedras Blancas is a pedestrian and very slow-burning “B” horror film with some neat noir-like shots, light early gore, and a great creature costume cobbled from a few sources that looks quite spectacular when it’s finally revealed. On the other hand, it’s still a pedestrian and very slow-burning film that drags out its plot a wee bit too long.

Its big monster reveal comes so late in the film and manages to come off as somewhat disappointing because you still see less of that really cool-looking monster than you’d like, but at least you get some action on-screen when it happens. It’s far from a “bad” film, it’s just a bit dull in its presentation of an otherwise great-looking man in a suit. The again, with a budget under $30,000, you can see where the money went thanks to the suit that man is in being so well-conceived.

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“I will roar from the highest rooftop that I DID NOT DO IT!”

Granted, the film teases the titular creature right at the very beginning as a claw reaches for a beat-up metal bowl and afterward, some kids are sent packing off the beach by a lighthouse keeper named Sturges (John Harmon) with a secret. He’s the one keeping the creature well-fed and of course, he’s got a tasty and somewhat gorgeous daughter, Lucille (Jeanne Carmen) he’s kept out of the loop for years (ten years of boarding school, eep!). Naturally, she’s all grown up now and she and her curves caught the eye of Fred (Don Sullivan) a visiting biology student who’s not at all after her for her shapely figure and hey, this is 1959 we’re taking about and that stuff didn’t happen in movies like this (he said, sarcastically). Sturges is not a fan of Biology students who want to date his shapely daughter, it would seem.

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Review: The Terminal Man

the terminal manI hadn’t seen Mike Hodges’ somewhat exceptional The Terminal Man for over 40 years, so naturally, that film I derided that long ago for its awful TV edit was quite the gloomy, rewarding surprise as a revisit a day ago as a complete film. As a kid, I can recall vividly the scene where George Segal, wearing a messy blond wig, white suit and whiter shoes was beating a large triangular-headed shiny metal robot to “death” and how it made me laugh as I retold the scene to a few amused school friends.

As you can guess, I want to kick my younger self a bit now (not too hard, though) because it’s one of a number of haunting images the film has and it comes a few minutes after a shocking murder mostly clipped from the TV edit. Initially to be directed by its author, Michael Crichton (who the studio felt was changing his own novel too much for the film), Hodges was given the task of getting it into the depressing, downbeat sci-fi thriller it turned out to be, writing and directing the project himself. Amusingly, I came into the film as a fan of The Andromeda Strain. The film version of that had me go take the book from the the library that past summer and I blew through it a few times (it’s a fast, tense read and took under a day to blaze through non-stop the first time). So I didn’t get the less conventional manner in which some of The Terminal Man was structured. Well, the edited network version didn’t help much, that’s for sure.

terminal_man_ver3That initial derision from my younger self was also a definite case of being too young to grasp the film’s tone and my only exposure to Segal’s work being a few comedic and lighter performances. Seeing the film now reveals the range and rage on display, or an actor fully in charge of the character he’s inhabiting. As Harry Benson, a computer scientist prone to anger and seizures, he goes through an experimental surgery that has a tiny computer hooked into his brain to keep things under control.

Guess what? The early predictions of a successful recovery by his smug doctors? Yeah, they’re rendered into obsolescence when Harry decides to stop taking his meds and escapes from the hospital with the help of his girlfriend (Jill Clayburgh) who has no idea Harry’s implanted computer (which she has no clue about) is going to misfire quite badly. There’s murder and mayhem to follow, but the film doesn’t go to places it doesn’t need to outside of telling its particular tale, clocking in at a lean 107 minutes before it ends.

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Save 10% Off iNetvideo.com’s Scary Flicks (Or Else)

Ooh, this is a nice deal on some frightening flicks for Halloween or for someone who likes the scary stuff any time of year:

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Hop on over here and take a peek at many horrors old and new to pick up. You have 114 pages of films to peruse and choose, so get to it!

-GW

Olive Films is Having A Too-Short Sale. Get On it Fast, I Say.

Olive Films Sale

Go! And yeah, be quick about it because the sale isn’t lasting long.

Yikes. Buy one get one FREE from Deep Discount? Yeah, it’s nice enough of a varied selection that almost any film fanatic will find something to watch here. But you have to act fast, as the sale expires soon. TOO soon but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I’ve bought stuff from them in the past with no trouble whatsoever, so feel free to do a bit of bookmarking if what’s here floats your boat.

Don’t forget that code, folks!

-GW

DEATH KISS: Then Came… Bronson?

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I know I’m very late to the party on this, but yipes, this guy’s got the looks of a… Stone Killer (ha and ha-ha).

 

(Thanks, JoBlo Movie Trailers!)

 

Okay, the film looks kind of cheesy (in the best possible manner) and that soundtrack is pure 80’s perfect (as in equally cheesy, plus tax). But I kind of want to see this, iffy acting, tralier-iffic clunky action scenes and all just for actor Robert Bronzi doing a dead on Charles Bronson impersonation. I almost thought for a hot second some digital effects team got the rights to Bronson’s likeness and stick it on some actor’s face, but nope. Bronzi’s the real unreal deal. I’d bet a buck that Uncork’d Entertainment figured out right away this one would be somewhat of a hit among nostalgic Bronson fans wanting a slice of the old days and old ways.

While I’m not sure he’ll be game for hopping into the Bronson role should there be some studio bold enough to try for a reboot of the Death Wish franchise or a new series with a different name that has Bronson, er Bronzi playing a similar character, actors DO need to work and this guy’s got the looks to get the asses in seats. Oh yeah, Bronzi has an official website, so feel free to pop in and say hello as well as tell him what you thought of his work r his spot-on Bronson impersonation. He seems affable enough not to want to hunt you down and exact justice if you’re a poor judge of his talents.

The film is available on a bunch of VOD services now (Amazon, Hulu, Xbox One, the usual suspects), but as I despise streaming services (mostly because streaming up here blows), I’ll be holding my breath for the December 4 DVD release which seems to be a Walmart exclusive if the film’s facebook page is accurate. Eh, it’ll likely pop up on ebay as well, so at least I can get it there because the nearest Walmart is a bit of a pain to get to. Well, it’s a long bus ride away and I hate the super steep hill that bus needs to go down because it’s somewhat vertigo inducing in a slow roller coaster about to roll over manner. I have no idea how people make that trip along the route, because I’ve seen passengers do stuff like shut their eyes and/or mumble out assorted prayers to all sorts of deities during the trip down. As I don’t have a particular Death Wish to make that treacherous trip, I’ll go the slow and lazy Pony Express route on this. Hell, my backlog is big enough that I can hold out for a few months.

-GW

Random Films of the Week: A Little New Year’s Cleaning

Yeah, Happy New Year and all that stuff. I figure I’ll post more than I did last year even though I got sick and was out of action for a month or so which led to a bigger backlog that I’m still wading through. My plans to write up and pre-load posts went south thanks to that, but I think with my health getting better (albeit temporarily) I’ll try and tackle stuff slightly differently on occasion. Or: Eh, I’ve been watching a ton of movies in no particular order, so you get to pore over a few quickie capsule recommends.

Stormy Monday_AV093Stormy Monday – Mike Figgis’ first film was this stylized bit of 1988 brilliance that featured Sean Bean, Melanie Griffith, Tommy Lee Jones and Sting, plus a pretty darn neat jazz score by the director. The neon-soaked Newcastle setting features some of Roger Deakins’ lovely cinematography that makes this a total treat to watch. It’s more or less a noir gangster flick with some solid performances and an overall sense that something bad is going to happen what with all the tense glowering and some romantic notions that make for a bit of conflict as things progress.

I actually hadn’t heard of this film other than seeing a trailer way back before it was initially released in theaters. I didn’t think it was for me back then, but thanks to Arrow Video, I’ve been proven quite incorrect. Expect a fine director’s commentary from Figgis along with a few cool bonus features on this BD/DVD combo that make this a nice surprise to discover if you’ve never seen or heard of it until now. Amusingly enough, this pairs well with Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire thanks to both films mixing reality and fantasy elements (although Figgis gets the edge and the edgier performances overall).

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Mail Call, Yesterday Edition

Mail Call Sunday

So, I’m in the process of writing up a certain review when I take a minute to check one of my inboxes which kindly notes that a DVD I finally got around to ordering has arrived (and rather quickly, at that). On Sunday.  As it was about 2:24am Monday (“Sleep?” What’s this “sleep” you speak of, mortals?), my eyebrow went up and yes, I got my keys, put some pants on (TMI: I tend to dress like a video game mascot character from the 90’s when at home) and hoofed it downstairs to check my mail with the first thought being the mailbox would be empty and somehow USPS and/or Amazon mucked up the delivery date. Wrong, and well, wow for the post office for delivering regular mail on a day when it usually doesn’t.

Um, go write a letter or postcard or something today and mail it, I guess. USPS kinda needs people to be less reliant on tech and more reliant on good old fashioned handwritten surprises via the post. Either than or they go under and we end up going broke because it’ll cost a mint to ship via other services angling to take their place and doing a worse job in the process. Anyway, back to the backlog, ladies and germs!

-GW

Take A Good Look Coming to DVD in October

Take A Good Look DVD Ooh, this one’s been a long time coming, but if you like to laugh it up significantly and like old TV (or hey, just want to see something more fun than the usual modern reality junk), well here you go. Okay, so you have to wait until October, but that’s not too far away, right? Right.

Ernie Kovacs: Take A Good Look – The Definitive Collection is now up for pre-order on Shout Factory with the first 1000 copies getting an exclusive bonus disc, Ernie Kovacs: Private Eye, Private Eye. If you’re new to Kovac’s work, you’re in for a real treat. The man did so much to elevate comedy that it’s astounding he only did about ten years worth of work before his untimely death in 1962.

Hmmm… I smell a short press release… it’s minty!
 

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Take A Good Look – The Definitive Collection is now set for release on October 17! This DVD set is the third box set of Ernie Kovacs amazing body of television work (1952 -1962) to be released over the better part of this decade. All 49 existing episodes of Kovacs cockeyed and offbeat gameshow are presented here, fully restored and digitized by the Library of Congress.

Take A Good Look hosted an eclectic mix of guest stars, such as my mom (!), performer Edie Adams, writer/director Carl Reiner, the glamorous Zsa Zsa Gabor, comedian Mort Sahl, Our Gang’s Jean Darling, chess world champion Bobby Fischer, Major League Baseball’s Rogers Hornsby, White House Butler Alonzo Fields, Los Angeles Dodgers Chuck Essegian and Don Drysdale, Hawaiian Congressman Daniel Inouye, Miss America 1959 Mary Ann Mobley, several Olympic athletes, and many mor

-GW

DVD Review: A House Is Not A Home

a-house-is-not-a-home_mvd8444dAs an effective horror film, Christopher (Douglas-Olen) Ray‘s chiller A House Is Not A Home is quite well made, but isn’t the scariest film you’ll ever see by a long shot. Don’t get me wrong – other than a lack of gore, it covers the expected fright bases alright and has very solid performances all around. The problem is, it sticks a wee bit too close to the films it’s influenced by to be memorable outside of a few scenes.

Referencing The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, The Entity, and a few other more modern horror flicks, AHINAH’s best trick is playing with the old Eddie Murphy joke that black people would get the hell out of a haunted house as soon as the first sign of something scary took place. In this case, the big twist is… the house here just won’t let them, and that’s AFTER it’s supposedly been dis-possessed by a voodoo priest in a lengthy process that involves a room-to-room “cleansing”. Oops.

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Random Film of the Week: Hundra

Hundra DVDIs Matt Cimber‘s 1983 sword and not an ounce of sorcery flick Hundra a “great” movie?  Well, that depends on one’s perspective on these sorts of fantasy movies. If you go in with “epic” level  expectations from what’s basically a very straightforward and competent “B” movie with a nice mix of action and humor, that answer might be “nope.”

On the other hand, it’s not bad at all if you bust out the popcorn and fizzy adult beverages and don’ forget to grab a few like-minded friends who enjoy stuff like Xena: Warrior Princess or other fun shows or films with strong female leads. In that case, you’re in for a pretty solid time in front of the TV, warts and all.

(Thanks, Cinema Epoch!)

Laurene Landon‘s striking looks and gung-ho athletic ability (she did her own stunts) outstrips her less than dynamic acting talents here. But her raw performance really works well for the film’s purposes because she’s playing a wild female warrior type in search of a man to impregnate her so she can restart her slain nomadic tribe’s lineage.

“Say whaaaaaat?” Continue reading