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Everything posted by LawrenceA

  1. Eerie Tales (1919) Germany/Dir: Richard Oswald - Horror anthology. In the framing device, characters on posters come to life after hours at a book store. They take turns reading stories. In the first ("The Apparition"), a man and his female companion check into a hotel. When she goes missing, the hotel staff claim that there was never a woman at all. In the second ("The Hand"), a man is haunted by guilt and a ghostly hand after committing a murder. In the third ("The Black Cat"), a man hopes to commit the perfect crime, although the title creature may have something to say about it. In the
  2. The Ancestress (1919) Austria/Dir: Jacob Fleck & Louise Fleck - The ghost of a woman haunts her ancestral castle estate, watching over her last two remaining descendants, unable to rest until the family line is extinguished. With Liane Haid in a dual role as the ghost and her descendant Berthe. The film has large sets and lavish costumes, and some of the wind-blown gossamer ghost shots are nice, but I found the story dull and drawn out. (5/10)
  3. Satan's Rhapsody (1917) Italy/Dir: Nino Oxilia - An old woman (Lyda Borelli) makes a deal with Mephisto (Ugo Bazzini) for renewed youth and beauty, but in exchange she must avoid love. This dark romantic fantasy has very interesting lighting work, as well as excellent production design. The devil is of the pointy-goatee variety, so that's a bit corny/silly/fun. I would have been curious to see where this director's career went after this, but unfortunately he died at the age of 28 fighting in WWI shortly after finishing this movie. (7/10)
  4. Malombra (1917) Italy/Dir: Carmine Gallone - A woman (Lyda Borelli) moves into a large castle and soon becomes convinced that she's the reincarnation of one of the previous occupants, returned to settle unfinished business. This is very much like the gothic horror melodramas that Italy excelled in producing in the 1960's, and it was fun to see one of the antecedents of the genre. I also appreciated the slightly more modern filmmaking on display, such as a greater emphasis on close-ups, rather than the mid-field static shots of the earliest cinema productions. The story was adapted several
  5. Hilde Warren and Death (1917) Germany/Dir: Joe May - After becoming pregnant following a tryst with a murderer, a famous actress (Mia May) begins having visions of Death (Georg John). This fragmentary supernatural melodrama is mainly of note now for being the first produced script by Fritz Lang. There's not much here to recommend, although the look of Death is said to have influenced Victor Sjostrom's The Phantom Carriage and, later, Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal. (5/10)
  6. Fear (1917) Germany/Dir: Robert Wiene - A wealthy nobleman (Bruno Decarli) goes on a world-wide quest to collect rare works or art, and decides to steal a sacred Indian statue along the way. He's informed that he has consequently been cursed, and only has 7 years to live. How will he spend his remaining time? Writer-director Wiene would shortly go on to make the seminal The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari a few years later. That film's co-star Conrad Veidt appears briefly here as an Indian priest. The lead actor gesticulates a lot in the silent film fashion, undercutting much of the drama. (6/10
  7. The Queen of Spades (1916) Russia/Dir: Yakov Protazanov - Adaptation of the Pushkin story. After an all-night card-playing session, an army officer tells his comrades the story of a countess who made an unholy pact in order to always win while gambling. Learning her secrets becomes an obsession for one man, who is driven to extreme lengths. There have been several filmed versions of this story, and in fact I watched the 1910 short version of this just last week. This one was an improvement over that, with good acting for the time, and excellent production design. (7/10)
  8. I've been on a silent movie kick for a while now, and several of them have been foreign. Pardon the length of this post! The Woman Always Pays (1910) Denmark/Dir: Urban Gad - A bored society woman (Asta Nielsen) impulsively runs off and joins the circus. This meager plot enables Nielsen to do a "scandalous" dance that was so outrageous at the time that it made the film a smash hit and established her as one of the first international movie stars. It's understandably quaint by today's standards, but still interesting to see. (7/20) Homer's Odyssey (1911)
  9. The Boxer's Omen (1983) Hong Kong/Dir: Chih-Hung Kuei - Bizarre horror/action/fantasy starring Phillip Ko as a Hong Kong gangster who vows revenge after his professional fighter brother is permanently paralyzed in a match against vicious Thai opponent Mr. Ba Bo (musclebound Bolo Yeung). However, his quest takes an unexpected turn when our hero begins getting visitations from a ghostly Buddhist monk who enlists him to do battle against a black magic priest. This totally off-the-wall wonder is both cheap-looking and wildly imaginative. The effects are often primitive yet memorable. Ther
  10. The Night of the Hunter Winter Light Diary of a Country Priest More recently Calvary, Silence, and First Reformed.
  11. Angel's Egg (1985) Japan/Dir: Mamoru Oshii - Strange animated tale about a young girl in a post-apocalyptic wasteland who wanders around looking for supplies, while also protecting a large egg. This brief (70 minutes) science fiction story is deliberately vague, relying on striking visuals and little plot. I found it a mixed bag, but it has a fervent fanbase. (6/10) Star Virgin (1988) Japan/Dir: Ichiro Omomo - Science fiction/action comedy about a modest young woman (Eiko Kuroki) who, in times of stress, can transform into the title character, equipped with a high-te
  12. The Sound of Music Mary Poppins Love Story Cleopatra (1963) The Jazz Singer (any version) I agree with the negative regard for Auntie Mame, as well. I wouldn't say I hate them, but I was never crazy about Some Like It Hot or The Apartment. Same with It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World. I was also never a fan of the Three Stooges, and their ubiquity on TV has made me loathe them even more. On a more recent note, all of the Transformers movies are garbage. Armageddon was abysmal. And while I'm a fan of many of Clint Eastwood's films, some of
  13. Prey (2021) Germany/Dir: Thomas Sieben - Five friends go on a hiking trip through a remote forest where they become the target of a sniper. Weak characterizations, poor pacing and an unimaginative script make this a dud. (4/10)
  14. Angel Dust (1994) Japan/Dir: Gakuryu Ishii - After a series of bizarre murders occurring on crowded trains, the police enlist profiler Dr. Suma (Kaho Minami) to try and catch the culprit. The investigation leads to Suma's old mentor, controversial psychiatrist Dr. Aku (Takeshi Wakamatsu) and his cutting-edge "reverse brainwashing" techniques used to deprogram former cult members. The overly-familiar subject matter is enlivened a bit by stylish cinematic techniques, although some of those (like a repeated audio clip) can be more distracting than illuminating. (6/10)
  15. Alien 2: On Earth (1980) Italy/Dir: Ciro Ippolito - Unauthorized sequel-in-name-only that concerns a fallen meteorite, actually an alien egg, that is carried into a deep cavern by a group of vacationing spelunkers. Eventually the "egg" hatches and chaos ensues. Writer-producer-director Ippolito decided to make this dumb rip-off after the success of Lucio Fulci's Zombie (aka Zombi 2), an unauthorized "sequel" to Dawn of the Dead. That movie was pretty good, though, while this cheapjack waste of time is slow, poorly acted, badly edited and just plain terrible. I did like some of the sco
  16. Brutal Sorcery (1983) Hong Kong/Thailand/Dir: Pang Ling - Outrageous supernatural horror concerning a cab driver who gets possessed by evil spirits after unknowingly giving a ride to two ghosts. The cab driver and his family seek help from the medical community as well as various spiritualists. This fast-paced phantasmagoria is filled with unusual imagery and shocking moments. Unfortunately, the characterizations are thin and the plot is near incoherent. There's also music lifted from the 1980 Flash Gordon. (5/10)
  17. I've been on the lookout for that one for a while. It's on the "101 Best War Movies" list.
  18. Mr. Vampire (1985) Hong Kong/Dir: Ricky Lau - The venerable Master Gau (Lam Ching-Ying), assisted by two young goofballs ( Ricky Hui & Chin Siu-Ho), tries to thwart a Chinese "hopping vampire" (Yuen Wah). With Moon Lee, Wong Siu-Fung, and Billy Lau. This was a massive hit, and kickstarted a huge wave of horror-comedy hybrid films all over Asia. This film in particular had a half-dozen or more sequels in the following few years. That being said, I wasn't a huge fan, as this sort of Chinese comedy doesn't really work for me. The action scenes are well choreographed, and the producti
  19. Looks like I picked the right time to stop watching TCM two years ago.
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