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THE NEVERENDING STORY (1984) Score: 3/5 

Starring: Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, Tami Stronach, Gerald McRaney, Alan Oppenheimer, Deep Roy. 

I read the book before watching this, and let me tell you, that really was a "never-ending story." Approximately 400 pages of a long, drawn-out story that easily could have been reduced by at least 100 pages. At least. 

Bastian's mother has recently died, and his relationship with his father is nearly severed after this tragic event. Bastian makes his way to school one morning, and is chased by some neighborhood bullies. He hides inside of a book shop and "borrows" this intriguing book (promising to return it later). Bastian ends up being late to school, and decides to not even go to class; instead he goes up into the school's attic (which, for some reason, looks like a small wildlife museum) and reads the book until he has finished (several hours after school has ended for the day and everyone has gone home). 

The story ultimately breaks the fourth wall when the Childlike Empress reveals to the story's hero, Atreyu, that a human child is the key to saving their land of Fantasia, and Bastian becomes aware of this, and saves Fantasia from the Nothing sweeping the nation by giving the Empress a new name. He decides to call her "Moon Child." 

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the child actors. They were much better than Luana Patten. 

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THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015) Score: 3.5/5 

*Warning: This is a Tarantino film; do not watch if you are sensitive to violence/blood.* 

Starring: Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum. 

Seven men and one woman are snowed into a cabin during a blizzard, and have to get along until the snow clears, and they can all get to the nearest town (Red Rock). Russell stars as a bounty hunter who has with him a female charge, played by Leigh. Jackson and Goggins were their traveling companions; these 4 meet 4 other mysterious folks. Strange things start happening, and Russell starts to suspect there's something fishy going on. 

I liked this. I thought it was very well constructed, and the characters/acting was fantastic. 

Image result for the hateful eight (2015)

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The Stone Tape (1972) - British made-for-TV ghost story, from the BBC, writer Nigel Kneale, and director Peter Sasdy. An electronics firm sets up shop in an old country mansion, only to discover that one chamber is haunted. Company manager Peter Brock (Michael Bryant) decides to use all of their cutting-edge equipment to record the ghostly visitations, but computer programmer Jill Greeley (Jane Asher), who seems to be the most psychically attuned person there, thinks that they are meddling in something that they should not. Also featuring Ian Cuthbertson, Michael Bates, Reginald Marsh, Tom Chadbon, John Forgeham, Philip Trewinnard, and James Cosmo.

I've read that this ranks among the most well-liked British TV fright films. I always enjoy when a story brings together the worlds of hard science and the supernatural, and Kneale, the noted creator of the Quatermass stories, is one of the best at it. This is no exception, and the film's title has become shorthand for a certain type of haunting in parapsychology circles. However, the movie loses a lot of appeal whenever it deviates from the main plot and tries to throw in some corporate maneuvering. I also wasn't crazy about most of the performances, which were often played too big and on the verge of hysteria. Lead actor Bryant seems to shout 90% of his dialogue for no good reason. Still, haunted house fans should probably give this one a watch if it comes there way.   (6/10)

Source: YouTube

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Thanks N&N34 for your view of THE NEVERENDING STORY. I've always wanted to see it but actually hearing the basic storyline kind of kicks my butt to the library. I thought it might be maudlin' but aside from the Mother dying, it sounds like a decent fantasy. Although what kid stays in school longer than they have to?

And thank you too Lawrence for bringing THE STONE TAPE to my attention. Never even heard of that one, but I particularly like "haunted house" stories. And especially like you mentioning the "science/supernatural" combo aspect, making it more interesting to me in particular.

(although whenever I grill a ghost chaser about HOW their equipment really works, they can never explain. I think they just try passing off light meters as ghost meters)

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I just watched The Devil's Bride last night. Somehow I'd never seen it before and I'm a big Hammer horror flick fan. Especially, ones that have Christopher Lee. It was pretty good, but not as good as his Dracula movies. Charles Gray was great too. He's a great villain as he was in the James Bond movies. 

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The Maze (1953) - Jaw-dropping Gothic-style mystery/horror, originally released in 3-D, from Allied Artists and director William Cameron Menzies. Kitty Murray (Veronica Hurst) is thrilled when her fiancee Gerald MacTeam (Richard Carlson) inherits an ancestral castle in Scotland, but when he fails to answer any of her letters, or to return to the U.S. on the established date, she and her aunt Edith (Katherine Emery) travel there themselves to see what's going on. They find Gerald much changed, humorless and grim, and hiding a dark and terrible secret, something connected to the large maze located on the castle grounds. Also featuring Michael Pate, John Dodsworth, Hillary Brooke, Stanley Fraser, Lilian Bond, Owen McGiveney, and Robin Hughes.

There's a certain mood attained in the film's early stretches that, while not original, is effective in establishing a sense of gloom and menace. However, all of that is thrown to the wind thanks to the film's incredibly silly finale, when the dark family secret is revealed. It's one of the single most ridiculous moments that I've ever seen in films, and it renders the entire movie one stupid joke. It's laughable enough in its visuals alone, but then Carlson provides the situation with an even dumber explanation for what we've just seen.    (3/10)

maze_1953_poster_03.jpg?resize=560,438

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8 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Thanks N&N34 for your view of THE NEVERENDING STORY. I've always wanted to see it but actually hearing the basic storyline kind of kicks my butt to the library. I thought it might be maudlin' but aside from the Mother dying, it sounds like a decent fantasy. Although what kid stays in school longer than they have to?

And thank you too Lawrence for bringing THE STONE TAPE to my attention. Never even heard of that one, but I particularly like "haunted house" stories. And especially like you mentioning the "science/supernatural" combo aspect, making it more interesting to me in particular.

(although whenever I grill a ghost chaser about HOW their equipment really works, they can never explain. I think they just try passing off light meters as ghost meters)

I actually enjoyed it. It was entertaining enough. The transitions between the real world and Fantasia were well done, in my opinion. It’s definitely not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but I liked it. Falkor, the luck-Dragon, was my favorite character in it (besides Atreyu, the child hero). 

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Back from the Dead (1957) - Supernatural horror from 20th Century Fox, Regal Films, and director Charles Marquis Warren. Husband Dick (Arthur Franz) and wife Mandy (Peggie Castle), along with Mandy's sister Kate (Marsha Hunt), go for a fun vacation at his beachfront house. Things take a turn when Mandy hears some bad music, flips out, and later wakes up possessed by the spirit of Dick's first wife, Felicia. As if that wasn't bad enough, Felicia also ran with a bad crowd (the devil worshiping kind), and they have plans for the new Felicia. Also featuring Don Haggerty, Marianne Stewart, Otto Reichow, Helen Wallace, James Bell, Evelyn Scott, Jeanne Bates, and Ned Glass.

This is a competently made B picture, and if you're a fan of the genre, you should be at least mildly entertained. The acting is fine, and the script serviceable. I always appreciate the presence of Ms. Hunt.  (6/10)

Source: YouTube

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The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe (1942) FXM Retro

Directed by Harry Lachman

Average bio of the famed author, featuring Shepperd Strudwick (billed as John Shepperd) and Linda Darnell as one of his “loves.” The other “love” is played by Virginia Gilmore, who ends up marrying somebody else. It’s a little distracting to hear everyone calling Poe “Eddie,” but you get used to it eventually.

A quick running time of 67 minutes keeps this film from getting too dull. Much of the second half deals with Poe’s inability to get publishers to a) publish his work, and b) provide copyrights. Thus, he is unable to keep a job and provide for Darnell, who eventually becomes ill.

Strudwick is actually pretty good as Poe, even though I would never consider him a romantic lead. Ironically, a few years before filming, Strudwick recited “The Raven” at a dramatic tryout at the University of North Carolina, but lost the competition.

Darnell is lovely as the doomed wife. Production was held up because she had lost 14 pounds prior to filming and needed to gain some weight back so she could fit into her costumes.

Jane Darwell is fine as Darnell’s mother. Thomas Jefferson and Charles Dickens make cameo appearances. However, no one refers to them as “Tommy” and “Chuckie.”

One of the trade papers reported that Director Harry Lachman, who had a pet talking Minah bird, toyed with the idea of having it appear in various scenes in the film, croaking “Nevermore.” This sounds a bit far-fetched. However, a raven does appear early in the film. It was played by a “professional” named Jim, who already had over 200 films to his credit. Jim earned a whopping $50 a day for his trainer.

I have to admit, I thought this would be a stinker, but I was pleasantly surprised.

SPOILER:  Director Lachman was undecided as to whether Linda Darnell’s death should be shown on screen. “We would like to show it,” he said, “but perhaps in this day when there is so much tragedy the movie audiences would rather that we left Poe and Virginia at the height of their romance.” You’ll have to watch the film to see how it was handled.

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LE SOLDATESSE (1965) AKA THE CAMP FOLLOWERS  Director: Valerio Zurlini, Stars: Tomas Milian, Mario Adorf, Anna Karina, Marie Laforêt 

The Camp Followers Poster

 

Prostitutes from Athens are transported by truck for the pleasure of the occupying Italian Army in this World War II drama. The 15 women are driven by a young lieutenant who gives a ride to a fascist major. Tension mounts between the two soldiers as the truck is attacked, and some of the women are killed. Love blossoms between one of the prostitutes and the lieutenant, and he encourages her to return home knowing he will never see her again. 7/10

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Cat Girl (1957) - Uncredited remake of Cat People, from AIP, Insignia Films, and director Alfred Shaughnessy. Leonora Johnson (Barbara Shelley) learns that she's from a family line that is cursed to turn into a murderous cat when emotionally stressed. This causes issues when she sees the guy she likes making time with another girl. Featuring Robert Ayres, Kay Callard, Ernest Milton, Lily Kann, Jack May, Paddy Webster, John Lee, Edward Harvey, and Martin Boddey.

Anyone who has seen the 1942 version will view this one with skepticism, and it certainly falls short of that moody classic. Attempts are made to replicate a few scenes, but they just can't quite measure up. The sole recommendation for this take on the material is lead Barbara Shelley, who does her best with the part, and looks good doing it.   (5/10)

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"Crime In The Streets" - Don Siegel - 1956 -

This engrossing film is an extremely persuasive look into the heart and soul of a juvenile delinquent -

that young man is played very compellingly by John Cassavetes in his screen debut -

he is soaked in a forbidding kind of anger -

and he wants to spill it over everyone and everything -

he is especially mean to his waitress mother and his little brother -

he needs to kill -

and he makes plans to kill an elderly man who had the courage to slap him -

in the end, he is finally able to see the depth of his despair -

and he makes an effort to reform -

the film is sharply directed by Don Siegel, who achieves a rare kind of screen intensity -

and it is beautifully acted by its' ensemble cast, especially James Whitmore (as a concerned social worker), John Cassavetes (as the young man on the brink of madness) and Peter Votrian (as the little brother, Richie, who loves his older brother deeply and wants to save him) -

don't miss this one, "it packs a punch" -

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(In 1956, a new kind of crime was out there on the streets.)

crime-in-the-streets-4.jpg

   

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19 hours ago, NickAndNora34 said:

THE NEVERENDING STORY (1984) Score: 3/5 

Starring: Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, Tami Stronach, Gerald McRaney, Alan Oppenheimer, Deep Roy. 

I read the book before watching this, and let me tell you, that really was a "never-ending story." Approximately 400 pages of a long, drawn-out story that easily could have been reduced by at least 100 pages. At least. 

One of THE most gorgeously iconic symbols of the 80's-Fantasy Summer of Love (and poster child for "Why 'real' soundstage 80's movies were better before CGI"), and all you can say is "Eh, it was better than the book"??  ;)

But, as I already had it on Blu, I digress:

-----

The Merchant of Venice (2004) - With Sony joining the MGM and Paramount Orphans on streaming, more of the rare Sony Classics indies have started turning up on the Usual Streaming Suspects, and after constantly missing this disk at the library, I finally managed to find it on Vudu and PlutoTV's free-download movies.  

Ever since Kenneth Branagh moved on and went commercial, there's been a new push for more indie directors to be the next generation for restaged or period-accurate "Real Shakespeare" movies that "translate" the dialogue into English with more natural settings, and this is one of the better ones.  (Just barely ahead of Ralph Fiennes' modern Baltic-war version of Coriolanus (2011), and I still haven't gotten around to Ethan Hawke's street-gang version of Cymbeline (2014).) "Venice" is one you don't often see revived, since modern productions can't quite get around the squicky question of "Was Shakespeare serious?" in the play's implied anti-Semitism (Shakespeare was a hardcore Catholic, but if so, why do we get that famous "defense" speech?)--But "1984" director Michael Radford takes the question off the table by putting it in accurate period setting, and saying that even if Shakespeare wasn't, 16th-cty. Venice was:  We get a realistic historic depiction of the religious fanaticism of the Venetian geto, almost as bad as Berlin's, and get a sense of how many times our hero had "spit upon" our antagonist in the street.

Shakespearean actors say there's really only two ways to play Jewish moneylender Shylock, either as conniving stock period-stereotype villain, or as tragically sympathetic victim.  Radford's historical setting certainly plays up "Victim", but aging Al Pacino is absolutely electric in the role, since he's played that combination of roles before (and played the role onstage), and knows how to do BOTH--Watching Pacino's mix of "Righteously wounded revenge", we're basically watching him play old Michael Corleone from Godfather 2&3 with a period-accurate Jewish accent.  You literally expect Pacino's Shylock to confront Jeremy Irons as the Merchant with "I knew it was you, Antonio..."

(As you can see, the modern problem with post-Branagh "Real Shakespeare", is that new 00's-10's actors are trying to make Shakespearean dialogue so "conversational", it's all thrown about in quick natural mumbles.  If you're watching this on disk, English subtitles are highly recommended.)

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Monster from Green Hell (1957) - Giant bug movie from DCA and director Kenneth G. Crane. Americans scientists, including square-jawed Dr. Quent Brady (Jim Davis), are conducting experiments to learn what effects cosmic radiation will have on living creatures. After sending up a rocket loaded with animal specimens, it later comes down in the central African jungle region, where soon reports of giant creature attacks make the headlines. Brady travels to Africa to find out what they've created and defeat it. Also featuring Robert Griffin, Joel Fluellen, Barbara Turner, Eduardo Ciannelli, and Vladimir Sokoloff.

This cheap creature feature has bad effects and a poor script. Things aren't helped by the presence of Davis, who I've always thought of as one of the worst actors to ever have a lengthy career. Ciannelli, Fluellen and Sokoloff all look mildly embarrassed to be there.   (4/10)

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1 hour ago, EricJ said:

Shakespearean actors say there's really only two ways to play Jewish moneylender Shylock, either as conniving stock period-stereotype villain, or as tragically sympathetic victim.  Radford's historical setting certainly plays up "Victim", but aging Al Pacino is absolutely electric in the role, since he's played that combination of roles before (and played the role onstage), and knows how to do BOTH--Watching Pacino's mix of "Righteously wounded revenge", we're basically watching him play old Michael Corleone from Godfather 2&3 with a period-accurate Jewish accent.  You literally expect Pacino's Shylock to confront Jeremy Irons as the Merchant with "I knew it was you, Antonio..

Peter Shaffer has said that Shakespeare's genius was making Jews and Moors central characters, suitable for the same dramatic, well-rounded treatment as English kings and Egyptian queens. The Merchant of Venice is of course Antonio, who is the villain of the text. Most of the characters, apart from Shylock, are hypocrites. Even Portia is racist: when she ditches the Prince of Morocco as a suitor, she says, "Send me no more of his complexion." 

The key to Shylock's behavior is in the speech in which he says to the Christians: "The villainy you teach me I will execute, and though it shall go hard, I will better the instruction." Shylock learns villainy from the Christians, and behaves the way he does because of the way he is treated, i.e. he has an excuse. The Christians are villainous for its own sake. The best Shylock I ever saw was a British actor named Henry Goodman, although Dustin Hoffman and Anthony Sher were also quite good.

In any case, as far as updated versions of Shakespeare go, in film, I rather liked Ethan Hawke's Hamlet, set in modern NYC. Denmark has become Denmark Corporation. Another film I liked, more a loose adaption, is O, a version of Othello set in an American high school. Its release was withheld for a couple of years, due to the Columbine tragedy.

51E4I4ek8sL._SX342_.jpgEthan-Hawkes-Hamlet3.jpgHamlet

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On 10/10/2018 at 2:13 PM, LawrenceA said:

The Spider Woman Strikes Back (1946) - Unusual mystery/thriller from Universal Pictures and director Arthur Lubin.

I like this movie. It was one of the Universal films shown on the old Shock Theater, introduced by Zacherle, BITD. I particularly like the scene where Zenobia is feeding the Drochonima, her blood-thirsty plant. 

 

 

 

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24 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Monster from Green Hell (1957) - Giant bug movie from DCA and director Kenneth G. Crane. Americans scientists, including square-jawed Dr. Quent Brady (Jim Davis), are conducting experiments to learn what effects cosmic radiation will have on living creatures. After sending up a rocket loaded with animal specimens, it later comes down in the central African jungle region, where soon reports of giant creature attacks make the headlines. Brady travels to Africa to find out what they've created and defeat it. Also featuring Robert Griffin, Joel Fluellen, Barbara Turner, Eduardo Ciannelli, and Vladimir Sokoloff.

This cheap creature feature has bad effects and a poor script. Things aren't helped by the presence of Davis, who I've always thought of as one of the worst actors to ever have a lengthy career. Ciannelli, Fluellen and Sokoloff all look mildly embarrassed to be there.   (4/10)

MV5BYmJlNjVkMTctOTAyNi00OWE3LThiMDAtMjVk

 

I think I saw this back in the day on Million Dollar Movie, a WOR TV 9 week long showing. I always remembered the title as "Green Hell" and of course Green Hell (1940) would pop up and I could never find it, lol

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58 minutes ago, Swithin said:

In any case, as far as updated versions of Shakespeare go, in film, I rather liked Ethan Hawke's Hamlet, set in modern NYC. Denmark has become Denmark Corporation. Another film which I liked which is more a loose adaption is O, a version of Othello set in an American high school. Its release was withheld for a couple of years, due to the Columbine tragedy.

I mentioned the '11 Ralph Fiennes Coriolanus only because it slipped through the arthouse cracks when it was released--The marketing wasn't helpful, and few outside of Shakespeare enthusiasts had even heard of the play.

Director Fiennes streamlines the play too much for action over dialogue--even pretty much cutting out all of the last scene's speeches, just so he could end it on the tragic "confrontation" note--but actor Fiennes is just spooky/unearthly enough to play the obnoxiously-arrogant war-hero legend, in a modern pseudo-Serbo-Croatian 00's war-state "city of Rome" that looks a lot like Kosovo.

I only mention it as a good example of new Real-Shakespeare for the way that all the conversations between Roman citizens in the street are now updated to panel discussions on CNN, and Coriolanus's failed attempt as a people's Senate candidate is instead done as an unfortunate TV-debate experience.

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34 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

I think I saw this back in the day on Million Dollar Movie, a WOR TV 9 week long showing. I always remembered the title as "Green Hell" and of course Green Hell (1940) would pop up and I could never find it, lol

I didn't have it written down as something that I'd seen before, but as soon as the creatures showed up I remembered having seen it on a syndicated Saturday morning creature-feature show that I watched every weekend as a kid. 

I enjoyed the attention to detail in the nostril hair of the giant bugs.

monster-from-green-hell-natives-attacked

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Desert Fury (1947) Bizarre Noir Soap Opera

desert-fury-movie-poster-1947.jpg

"Desert Fury is the gayest movie ever produced in Hollywood's golden era. The film is saturated - with incredibly lush color, fast and furious dialogue dripping with innuendo, double entendres, dark secrets, outraged face-slappings, overwrought Miklos Rosza violins. How has this film escaped revival or cult status? It's Hollywood at its most gloriously berserk." Eddie Muller

You can forget all of Eddie's quote above and watch this film and within minutes you'll know yourself that something feels screwy. It's just all the wild dialog coming from all the characters. Now Ramona Stewart's book is just as strange as the film and probably more so since it wouldn't have been hampered by the Code. It's been called "an early sleaze novel about a trampy, rebellious daughter and her domineering mother" but goes on to say "Desert Town is a very strange exploration of love in all its forms and the pursuit of one’s desires. But not specifically sexual desire. " J F Norris (Pretty Sinister Books).

Desert Fury was directed by Lewis Allen (Chicago Deadline (1949), Appointment with Danger(1950), Suddenly (1954), and Illegal (1955)). Screenplay by Robert Rossen and  A.I. Bezzerides based on a novel by Ramona Stewart. Cinematography by Edward Cronjager and Charles Lang. Music was by Miklós Rózsa.

The film Stars Lizabeth Scott as Paula Haller, John Hodiak as Eddie Bendix, Burt Lancaster as Tom Hanson, Mary Astor as Fritzi Haller, Wendell Corey as Johnny Ryan, Kristine Miller as Claire Lindquist, William Harrigan as Judge Berle Lindquist, James Flavin as Sheriff Pat Johnson, Jane Novak as Mrs. Lindquist, Anna Camargo as Rosa.

Desert Fury is definitely a curiosity, worth at least a watch, it could fit on a double bill with Inferno. The print I saw from an online streaming service had very crisp look. 6/10. Review with screen caps here in Film Noir/Gangster pages.

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