Thursday, 30 July 2020
Burl reviews Ants!! (1977)
Burl reviews 52 Pick-Up! (1986)
Wednesday, 29 July 2020
Burl reviews Friday the 13th part 7: The New Blood! (1988)
Chay Chay Chay Paa Paa Paa! Yes, you’ve got it right: it’s time for another Friday the 13th movie review! You know, just an aside before beginning: why, in any of his adventures, has Jason not visited a spa or some kind of health retreat? The closest he’s come to that is the halfway house or whatever in Part 5, and that’s not very close at all! Ha ha, imagine the damage Jason could do with a roomful of weightlifting equipment, or how he could blend in with the field hockey masks hanging on the wall!
Anyway, enough of my geeky film proposals! This installment is Friday the 13th part 7: The New Blood, and it came to us from the director of Cellar Dweller, the late John Carl Buechler! Of course he was better known as a trick effects makeup man, and indeed, even if much of the trick effects work in this picture was cut out by overenthusiastic censors, there are still a number of gory treats briefly on view, a few of them pretty tasty!
As is well known, the concept here is Jason meets Carrie! There’s a cousinage already in evidence, since the first Friday borrowed its sting from the Brian De Palma picture! But yes, our heroine is a telekinetic teen girl, one who’s troubled by the guilt of having used her powers to accidentally kill her father by knocking him into Crystal Lake and then dropping a pier on him! She evidently has a broader remit, psychically speaking, than Carrie White though, because when she concentrates hard, she can resurrect long-dead corpses! When one evening she tries to will her dad back to life (ha ha, why? He was a jerk!), she accidentally revives Jason instead, who, to be fair, would have figured out how to return one way or another anyway, by the powers vested in him by the Paramount Pictures Corporation and Mr. Frank Mancuso Jr.!
Part 7's closest model seems to be Part 4, which also features two houses on Crystal Lake close to each other, but remote from everything else; and in both films one house has a mother and a daughter, and the other a group of party-hearty youths! By this point though, Jason has lost any pretense to humanity and is a fully supernatural zomboid creature! And the other novelty in this picture, aside from the psychic girl, is the presence of her evil psychiatrist: a genuine antagonist who is not the killer! Before this the only human antagonists in these films (Part 5 aside) were the bikers in Part 3, and then just a wide array of jerks here and there, like the morgue attendant in Part 4 or that sheriff in Part 6!
But while this one has its moments, I can’t pretend to prefer it to any of the other episodes I’ve mentioned! (Ha ha, it’s still a lot more fun than that 2009 remake, though!) It’s a fairly miserable series of films when you examine them critically, but people, even intelligent people, find themselves returning to these movies over and over! I guess there’s something about the simplicity of the concept and the inherent scariness of dark, lonely woods! Friday the 13th part 7: The New Blood psychokinetically messes with that simplicity a bit, and the results frankly don’t seem worth it! I give the picture one chay and only half a paa!
Sunday, 26 July 2020
Burl reviews Joysticks! (1983)
Burl reviews On Her Majesty's Secret Service! (1969)
Ha ha, this never happened to the other fellow indeed! Yes, it’s Burl again and Bond again, only this time the superspy in question played not by Connery, not by Moore, not by Dalton, Brosnan, or Craig, but by the doughty one-offsman George Lazenby! So yes, of course the picture is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service!
Now, I’m not so sure I’d have watched this movie in July had I remembered it was a Christmas picture, but there you are! It’s not one of your more action-packed outings, to be sure, but, ha ha, Lazenby’s not the only novelty here, because the picture tries a bunch of new things! Because it’s the late 1960s, we get some elliptical editing and other New Hollywood movie tricks, particularly in the fight scenes! I enjoyed this, though to contemporary audiences it may well have seemed like the kind of blender-editing which makes Quantum of Solace such a chore to sit through!
He does some garden-variety spy stuff, like when he sneaks into an office to steal some documents! But he doesn’t just snatch the papers, nor photograph them with a little spy camera, no: he has a buddy dress up like a construction worker, then place a large case into a crane bucket so it can be hefted up the side of a building to the fifth floor where Bond is! The case contains a device which proves to be an enormous photocopier, ha ha - state-of-the-art equipment for any spy in 1969, I’m sure!
Of course it all ends up in Blofeld’s mountaintop allergy clinic on Christmas, ha ha! Blofeld even has a tree and gives out neatly-wrapped gifts! And here, the perennial villain is played by Kojack himself, Telly Savalas, whom we know so well from his equally sinister appearance in Mario Bava’s Lisa and the Devil! Ha ha, Blojack! And what’s great about this iteration of the super-villain is that he gets a lot more personally involved in the battle against Bond than we see in other pictures! He’s not just sitting in a chair and stroking his pussy this time, no sir!
The big question is: how’s Lazenby? Well, he’s demonstrably no Connery! He’s matey and cavalier, and seems equally uncomfortable doing the action as he does in the long section at the allergy clinic during which he must wear a kilt and pretend to have no interest in the beautiful ladies who abound there! And in the end he’s not really an actor, nor does he claim to be! But for all that I didn’t mind him - certainly I prefer him to Moore in his smarmier moments! And the movie Lazenby has going on around him is, while not exactly action-packed, interesting and solid enough to raise him up to a quite acceptable level!And the movie sticks the landing, emotionally speaking! This is perhaps the only Bond picture which ends with the superspy sobbing instead of snogging, and it makes for a genuinely affecting conclusion! Diana Rigg, who plays Mrs. Bond, and whom we know so well from Theatre of Blood, is quite believable as the woman Bond would want to settle down with, and Gabriele Ferzetti, who was Sandro in L’ Avventura, is terrific as her friendly gangster dad! I give On Her Majesty’s Secret Service two and a half purple parcels!
Burl reviews Eye of the Beast! (2006)
Saturday, 25 July 2020
Burl reviews Quiet Cool! (1986)
By gum it’s Burl with 80s action! Here we have something called Quiet Cool, the bite-size picture that attempted to turn James Remar, whom we know from 48 Hours and Django Unchained, and who had a solid career in the “pretty-boy bad guy” genre of movie acting, into an action hero! I guess they thought they’d start him out slow, because instead of giving him heroin dealers or cocaine lords to fight, they put him up against some pot growers!
I’ll admit, these are some pretty mean pot growers, while all the weediculturalists I’ve ever met have been pretty mellow folks! Not this gang, made up as it is of a gallery of stock-looking heavies! In Quiet Cool, right at the top, the dealers execute a potential tattletale, then chase down a teenager who’s witnessed the murder, shoot both his back-to-the-land hippie parents in the head, rope him and drag him behind a dirt bike, then dangle him off a cliff, drop the corpses of his parents down past him, laugh as he swings around screaming mindlessly at the utter horror of the moment, then drop him to his supposed doom!
Meanwhile the slain father’s sister, Daphne Ashbrook from Gimme an ‘F’, worried about the disappearance of her brother and his family, calls up her old boyfriend James Remar, a leatherjacket cop in New York City! But Remar is busy chasing down rollerskate bandits, and only once he’s done with that task is he ready to fly across the country to investigate the disappearance! But the nefarious wig-tightener merchants are on him like stink, ha ha, and soon enough, after a few fights, Remar blunders his way into a bag full of razor blades and fish hooks! Yowch! Luckily the teenager, who survived his fall down the cliff and has transformed into a vengeance-driven mountain man, saves him, and the two team up to take out the couple-of-dozen strong electric lettuce gang!
One of the gang members sports an enormous walrus moustache, which Remar mutilates with a scissors! Another, a husky cross between Wings Hauser and Mandy Patinkin, is the local sheriff! Still another, perhaps the least-respected member, is called Toker, he being the one who smokes enough of his own product that he’s essentially useless, but because he looks like the runt sibling in the Barbarian Brothers’ family, they keep him on! And there’s a Nasty White-Haired Guy, a little like the Dar Robinson character in Stick or Billy Drago in Vamp; and we even have the Nasty Glasses Guy, which I think there’s one of in Die Hard, though of course Die Hard came later! Ha ha, a lot of guys, but there’s only one Mr. Big, the true identity of whom is something the picture saves for its Big Twist Ending! Ha ha, not to give anything away, but once you’ve experienced this ending, the words “You’re soaking in it!” will never sound quite the same!
At 80 minutes in length, it’s a speedy little babatoudnik! The action scenes are not particularly brilliant, though there are some good stunts! But, speaking frankly, Remar is something of a charisma void here, and not especially good at the action business either, so it’s easy to see why he didn’t get many more action leads! It’s a New Line Cinema production, so the characters always seem to be watching A Nightmare on Elm Street on their television sets, so at least we get that! It has scrappy action and plentiful bad guys, and an earnest, blank-eyed hero and a goofy 80s theme song, so in the end I’ll have to give Quiet Cool two slices of overnight bed pizza!
Burl reviews Conan the Barbarian! (1982)
Ha ha, Burl, what is best in life? To crush bad movies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their directors! Ha ha! No, that’s not my remit at all - I was just expressing the quasi-fascist ideal found in John Milius’s Conan the Barbarian! In fact, my own philosophy is quite different, but if you’re a regular reader of my notices, you are surely well aware of my gentle and pacific nature! Ha ha, Burl laughs not just at your Four Winds, but also at your Nietzschean Super-Man!
Of course this picture came out in that magical summer of 1982, along with The Thing, Blade Runner, Poltergeist, The Road Warrior, E.T., Star Trek II, and probably some others! For that reason it might be held in slightly higher regard than it might be otherwise, but it’s still a pretty solid action fantasy! It’s an origin story, following Conan from his youth, when his parents are killed and his village destroyed by a cult leader, Thulsa Doom, played by James Earl Jones in a beadless Donna Summer wig; through his kidnapping and maturation on the Wheel of Pain; his pitfighting and poetry-reading years; and finally the gathering up of his pals and his quest for revenge!
Conan and his friends jog across the countryside, through desert, steppe and thundering beach, with the cry of the loon accompanying them everywhere they go! There’s a marvelous heist scene featuring a giant snake, and later the mission gains some focus when a grizzled old king played by Max Von Sydow from Strange Brew and The Magician tasks Conan and his pals with the job of rescuing his daughter from the cult! Of course Conan is made to do some contemplation on the Tree of Woe, but there are some battles and finally a Wagnerian scene on the steps, complete with a head-chopping!
There’s a pretty good gallery of faces in this picture! In addition to those named, we get Mako from Armed Response and The Killer Elite playing a twitchy stilt-house wizard who becomes Conan’s pal and chronicler, and serves as the film’s narrator! William Smith from Fast Company and Maniac Cop does a terrific job in the part of Conan’s dad, and husky Sven-Ole Thorson, looking like a lost member of Spinal Tap, is Thulsa Doom’s hammer-wielding henchman!I’ve never considered it a great action picture, though! It’s more like an opera stripped of its singing (though it has a terrific score from Basil Polidouris), with some thundering hoofbeats and clanging swords added in for spice! But while it does a fair-to-good job of translating the Conan mythos to the screen, it’s rarely exciting to watch! It’s good solid Hollywood comfort food, if frequently goofy and a bit on the reactionary side! I give Conan the Barbarian two and a half straightened snakes!