• Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Posts posted by LawrenceA

  1. Gangster Story (1959)  -  2/10


    I wasn't expecting much, but was surprised by how truly atrocious this no-budget crime drama was. Walter Matthau stars as a notorious escaped criminal who decides to rob a small-town bank to fund his further getaway. This naturally brings him more heat from the cops, as well as the local racketeer. Matthau hides out with librarian Carol Grace (Matthau's real-life wife), which puts her in danger as well. Also featuring Bruce MacFarlane, Garry Walberg, Raikin Ben-Ari, David Leonard, Clegg Hoyt, and Vic Tayback. Matthau was struggling with gambling debt, so he agreed to both star in and direct this for the princely sum of $2500. The end result is stupid, badly written, poorly acted, and features a completely looped audio track. This ranks right up there with the worst films released in the 1950's, and it was frankly shocking to see Matthau in something so bottom-of-the-barrel. 

  2. Expresso Bongo (1959)  -  6/10


    British musical satire of the record industry, with Laurence Harvey as a fast-talking talent manager who discovers Cliff Richard (and the Shadows) playing bongos in a nightclub. Harvey ushers the boy to stardom, with the attendant rewards and pitfalls. Also featuring Sylvia Syms, Yolande Donlan, Meier Tzelniker, Ambrosine Phillpotts, Eric Pohlmann, Burt Kwouk, Wilfrid Lawson, Susan Hampshire, and Hermione Baddeley. Harvey goes at it with gusto and is fun to watch. The story loses steam before it's over, and the movie is about 20 minutes too long, but there's still some enjoyment in the setting. And Syms, as Harvey's stripper girlfriend, is appealing.


    • Like 1

  3. Larry Cohen (July 15, 1941 - March 23, 2019) has died. He was a writer and director who often worked on the fringes of cinema, delivering up some of the more memorable genre films of the 1970's and 80's. He got his start writing for numerous television shows of the 1960's before making his directing debut with 1972's Bone. Other films he helmed included Black Caesar (1973), Hell Up in Harlem (1973), It's Alive (1974), God Told Me To (1976), The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977), Q the Winged Serpent (1982), The Stuff (1985), and The Ambulance (1990), among others. A feature length documentary on Cohen, titled King Cohen, was recently released on home video formats.

    220px-Itsaliveposter.jpg  220px-Qfilmposter.jpg  220px-The-Stuff-poster.jpg



    • Thanks 1

  4. The Day the Earth Froze aka Sampo (1959)  -  5/10


    Finnish/Soviet co-production based on Finnish folk tales. In olden times, lumberjack Lemminkainen (Andris Oshin) falls in love with fair maiden Annikki (Eve Kivi). When the gal is kidnapped by evil witch Louhi (Anna Orochko), blacksmith Ilmarinen is forced to build a "sampo" (a magical device that creates salt and gold out of thin air) to win her release. This is another interesting international production that was later bought by AIP, edited into near incoherence and badly dubbed. Regardless, I always like seeing the folk stories and legends of other cultures dramatized, and this one has several memorable images.




    • Like 1

  5. 2 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

    Last night I revisited the 1988 film TUCKER, THE MAN & HIS DREAM. It had been so long since I had seen it and MrTiki had no idea about Tucker cars, so it was ready for a review. Luckily, I have a DVD of this rather hard-to-find Francis Ford Coppola movie.

    Tucker was recently released on Blu-ray, so it's not as difficult to locate as it once was. I picked up a copy, but I haven't watched it yet, although I've seen the movie a few times. Very nice write-up, Tiki.


  6. Zombie High (1987)  -  5/10


    Mildly amusing horror comedy featuring Virginia Madsen as a new student at an exclusive prep school. She soon discovers that something is amiss, as formerly rebellious students become emotionless and studious overnight. Featuring Richard Cox, James Wilder, Sherliynn Fenn, Paul Feig, Scott Coffey, Clare Carey, and Kay Kuter. This was a USC student film that got a theatrical release and a large video release, so a lot of people saw this, more so than many student films. While it's no one's idea of a polished masterpiece, it's pretty impressive as a student film, and it looks as good as most of the "B" level features of the day. And don't let the title fool you: this is more of a "Stepford Prep School" than a brain-munching zombie flick.

    • Like 2
    • Thanks 1

  7. Cry for the Strangers (1982)  -  5/10


    TV-movie adaptation of the novel by John Saul. Patrick Duffy and Cindy Pickett star as a couple who move to the Pacific Northwest to a sleepy little fishing village and a large house overlooking the ocean. They soon learn that sinister things are afoot, as the town has a history of being hostile to strangers, and it may have something to do with the supposedly haunted beach below their new home. Also featuring Lawrence Pressman, Claire Malis, Jeff Corey, Shawn Carson, Robin Ignico, Martin Kove, Parley Baer, and Brian Keith. There are some interesting bits here and there, but the overall movie is a bit too blah. Director Peter Medak helmed the superior ghost movie The Changeling just two years earlier, but this is a far cry from that.

    • Like 1
    • Thanks 1

  8. Graduation Day (1981)  -  3/10


    Another in the glut of slasher movies released in the wake of Halloween and Friday the 13th, this is one is set over the course of a few days leading up to a high school graduation. A few months earlier a track star died on the field during a competition, and now a mystery killer is picking off the other members of the track team. Featuring Patch Mackenzie as the dead girl's sister, Christopher George as the over zealous track coach, Michael Pataki as the principal, Carmen Argenziano, Linnea Quigley, E. Danny Murphy, E.J. Peaker, Virgil Frye, Bill Hufsey, and Vanna White. Not much to see here, although fans of cult actress Quigley will get an eyeful. The scene of the school dance, where the students have the option of rollerskating around the horrible musical act named "Felony", is memorably awful.

    Vanna White, on the right, learning that she will spend over 30 years of her future with Pat Sajak.


    • Like 2
    • Haha 1

  9. Crime and Punishment, USA (1959)  -  6/10


    Interesting Americanized version of the Dostoevsky novel. George Hamilton (in his debut) stars as a young man who kills a pawnshop proprietress. His cocky self-assurance is challenged by wily police detective Frank Silvera. Also featuring Mary Murphy, Marian Seldes, John Harding, Wesley Heffley, and Toni Merrill. Hamilton isn't bad in his first film role, and his sharp, preppy looks befit the elitist character. Silvera has the best role though, and it's one I would rank with the best supporting roles of the year.

    • Like 2
    • Thanks 2

  10. Blue Denim (1959)  -  6/10


    Teen drama with Brandon deWilde and Carol Lynley as teenagers in love. Things get real when Carol gets pregnant, and the duo grow desperate to "solve" the situation. Also featuring Warren Berlinger, Macdonald Carey, Marsha Hunt, Buck Class, Nina Shipman, Vaughn Taylor, Roberta Shore, Mary Young, and William Schallert. This was more serious and competent than I expected, a decent look at universal experiences, fears, and the era before the Pill and Roe v Wade. 

    • Like 3

  11. I can see Pekar being invited to Seth Meyer's show, as he often has authors as guests, and even comic book writers and artists, as well. But never on Fallon, Kimmel or Corden's shows. Colbert has some authors, but usually just political ones. Conan O'Brien used to have "eccentrics" on quite frequently when he hosted Late Night, but that ended when he went to the Tonight Show and then TBS.

    • Thanks 1

  12. The Big Operator (1959)  -  6/10


    I was lucky enough to follow up The Beat Generation with this other 1959 release from producer Albert Zugsmith. Mickey Rooney is the crooked head of a workers' union. He's under investigation, and worker Steven Cochran is going to testify against him, so Rooney and his goons start trying to muscle him into silence. Also featuring Mamie Van Doren as Cochran's wife, Jay North as their kid, Ray Danton as Rooney's chief leg-breaker, Jackie Coogan, Jim Backus, Mel Torme, Leo Gordon, Don "Red" Barry, Ray Anthony, Charles Chaplin Jr., Lawrence Dobkin, Norman Grabowski, and Vampira. This one isn't as outrageous as the previous film, but it's perhaps better made. They're both fun, often shocking, bits of late-50's Americana. 

  13. The Beat Generation (1959)  -  5/10


    Lurid crime drama with Ray Danton as a serial rapist and beat club enthusiast who's being pursued by cop Steve Cochran. Things get even uglier when Danton targets Cochran's wife Fay Spain. Also featuring Jackie Coogan (who doubled as dialogue coach) as Cochran's partner, Irish McCalla as Coogan's wife (!!!), Mamie Van Doren, Jim Mitchum, Ray Anthony, Maxie Rosenbloom, Dick Contino, Margaret Hayes, Cathy Crosby, Norman Grabowski, Louis Armstrong, Guy Stockwell, William Schallert, and Vampira. This is often corny in that squares-trying-to-be-hip sort of way, but it's still an interesting time capsule. There's also a lot of boundary-pushing dialogue on a number of hot-button topics.  

    • Like 4

  14. 1993


    1. Cronos, Guillermo Del Toro, Mexico
    2. Sonatine, Takeshi Kitano, Japan
    3. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, Takao Okawara, Japan
    4. Maadadayo, Akira Kurosawa, Japan
    5. Iron Monkey, Woo-Ping Yuen, Hong Kong
    6. The Heroic Trio, Johnnie To, Hong Kong
    7. Ninja Scroll, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Japan
    8. Heroes Among Heroes aka Fist of the Red Dragon, Chin-Chung Chan & Woo-Ping Yuen, Hong Kong
    9. The Most Terrible Time in My Life, Kaizo Hayashi, Japan



    1001 Movies You Must See

    • The Blue Kite, Zhuangzhuang Tian, China
    • Caro Diario, Nanni Moretti, Italy
    • Farewell My Concubine, Chen Kaige, China
    • The Puppetmaster, Hsiao-Hsien Hou, Taiwan
    • Three Colors: Blue, Krzysztof Kieslowski, France/Poland
    • The Wedding Banquet, Ang Lee, Taiwan
    • Like 4

  15. Burned at the Stake aka The Coming (1982)  -  5/10


    From writer-producer-director Bert I. Gordon, this supernatural horror tale stars Susan Swift as a 12-year-old girl living in modern day Salem, Massachusetts. She learns that she's the reincarnation of a young girl responsible for the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. When she visits the Witch museum, it awakens the memories of her past life, as well as transporting William Goode (David Rounds), the father of a wrongfully accused girl, into the present. As Susan acts stranger and stranger, an evil presence also makes itself known. Featuring Tisha Sterling as Susan's mom, Guy Stockwell as the family doctor, Albert Salmi as the police chief, John Peters, Jennine Babo, and Beverly Ross. This was better written than many similar films that I've watched recently, and Susan Swift (of Audrey Rose fame) is good in the lead role. My main complaint would be that the cinematography, or the print that I saw, or both, was too dark to make out much of the action for a greater part of the film.


    • Like 1
    • Thanks 1

  16. Blood Song aka Dream Slayer (1982)  -  4/10


    Crippled high school girl Marion (Donna Wilkes, star of 80's exploitation classic Angel) begins having strange dreams that are actually psychic visions of the murderous activities of escaped mental patient and homicidal maniac Paul (Frankie Avalon!!!). It seems they formed a psychic bond when she received some of his blood during a transfusion. Now he's determined to make her his next victim. Also featuring William Kirby Cullen as Marion's boyfriend, Richard Jaeckel and Antoinette Bower as her parents, Dane Clark as the town sheriff, and Lenny Montana (who also gets a screenplay credit!!!) as "Skipper". This will appeal to both fans of Frankie Avalon, who have never seen him in a role like this before, as well as to those hate him, as they'll enjoy the going over he receives in the finals last act. Avalon's weapon of choice is a really small hatchet, which makes things even sillier. This was the last acting role of former pro wrestler and reputed mob heavy Montana, who most know from role as Luca Brasi in The Godfather. Filmed in and around Coos Bay and North Bend, Oregon.


    • Like 1

  17. Man with a Camera - Season One (1958-1959)


    Charles Bronson stars in this half-hour TV series that aired on ABC. He plays a freelance photographer who gets mixed up in various troubles while looking for his next photo subject. These include celebrities in trouble, a boxer dealing with crooked fight fixers, a deaf girl who witnessed a murder, an angry mob on a hot night looking to kill a guy, con artists, death row prisoners, and even trips to Portugal and Rome. The only other recurring cast member was Ludwig Stossel as Bronson's immigrant father. The guest cast included Angie Dickinson, Tom Laughlin, Ruta Lee, Frank Faylen, Grant Williams, Audrey Dalton, Yvette Vickers, and Harry Dean Stanton. William Castle directed one of the 15 episodes.

    • Like 1

  18. 6 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

    Not to over-generalize, but for the most part "B" films evolved into television shows. Similar budgets, similar time constraints, average to good quality but inferior to expensive feature films.

    Many of the B films were genre titles, as well, and they continued on throughout the 50's, 60's and 70's as drive-in fare, grindhouse films, and lesser-theater double-bills or weekend matinees for the teen crowds. Even though the "A" film paired with "B" movie dynamic had faded away, these movies were still "B" quality, as you say, and they never reached "A" film status. It really wasn't until Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist, and later Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, that these genre films returned to "A" status. Some critics have stated that nowadays, the "A" pictures are often subject matter that only would have shown up in the "B"s in the "good old days".

    However, the "B"'s still continued, too, and in the 1980's and 1990's they moved to direct-to-video status or cable-movie premieres. That's now changed again into streaming-service originals. New platform, same "B" movie production values and genre audiences. 

    • Like 1

  19. Lifeforce hasn't been on TCM before? I thought it had, or I would have been making a big deal about it all week. A personal favorite, and highly recommended to fans of strange movies that throw a lot at the screen even if much of it doesn't work. 

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:


Having problems?

Contact Us