Category Archives: Movies

Event Horizon


US flag Event Horizon 1997

This should have been the greatest movie of all time. But, no, it’s some horror/slasher movie set in space. Missed opportunity. Big-time.

Here’s how it should have been…

The ship is ready to depart. Goodbyes are said. The ship vanishes. A few days/weeks/hours later, there’s an image of a video burp on the ship’s bridges as they re-enter Earth space. The crew barfs from the nausea of space/time travel. The brilliant blue Earth slowly appears as the ship moves in to orbit. The crew cries.

They are bringing good news home — epic, unbelievably good news.

See the difference already? WHY NOT A POSITIVE PICTURE? We have enough dreamless horror. MAKE IT BETTER. Make a better world from the old one.

This movie could have been, should have been, EPIC. Life-changing, life-affirming — why not visualize a bright future? More than that — why not visualize a MIND-BLOWINGLY EPIC FUTURE which is greater and more joyful than anything ever previously imagined?




British flag Gorgo 1961

Pretty bad Gojira reworking. Couple of salvage divers are caught in a storm which deposits them on an island off the Irish coast where they find Gorgo. What to do? Exhibit it in London, of course! Which is what they do.

Unfortunately, Gorgo is just a baby and his mother comes to find him and is she ever pissed. Oh, my. Destruction ensues.

This is a monster movie, but it’s a real borderline entry. There’s an annoying kid in this movie, which precedes Gamera by about five years. The Gamera films suffering from a string of annoying kids being in them.

Again, for completists only. Not a great film.

I broke a wooden toothpick in half and used the pieces to prop my eyelids open in order to watch this movie from end to end. It’s not THAT bad, but it is one of those movies which you’ll wish you had the chance to re-edit, if not re-shoot a few scenes out of.

There are a number of opportunities (missed opportunities) to build suspense. An easy way to have done this would have been to NOT succumb to the temptation to show the large mother Gorgo, glowing eyes and all. Rent a fog machine. Don’t give away all of your secrets.

Even when it’s clear that the mother Gorgo is headed to rescue its ugly little baby, no one in the British military has the wherewithal to suggest moving the little monster closer to its mother. I do enjoy seeing the special effects of world armies being defeated without end when battling giant monsters. Seeing civilians suffer and die, not so much.

The protagonists, both played by good actors from the era, come across as greedy and shallow-minded. The kid actor actually grew on me. At least there was some humanity in the film — the kid is concerned about the monster and knows that the men are making a mistake by taking it to London. The subplot with a greedy harbormaster and his Viking gold is not very appealing. Life is worth much more than gold.

Overall? You could do worse, it’s somewhat entertaining. But you will think of ways to improve the film. Which is different than sitting back and thinking “Wow, what a great story that was.” My favorite films entertain me, not make me want to fix them.

Varan the Unbelievable

Varan, the Unbelievable

Japan Varan the Unbelievable (大怪獣バラン) 1958

Find the Japanese version — the hack-job US version is unwatchable. The Japanese version is odd. And, I must say, has amazing sedative powers. I’m not certain that I’ve ever been able to remain awake through the entire picture.

First scene: a rocket being launched and some frenetic piano music. This makes no sense and has nothing to do with anything else in the movie.

Two university scientists are dispatched to a remote area to try and locate a rare butterfly. The locals are unfriendly. Suddenly, a huge monster squashes them dead. Next, three more scientists head out to the remote area to see what happened. They get a cool reception, also. And they manage to rouse the sleeping monster, who squashes the village.

So the survivors head back to the remote area with the usual complement of Japanese military hardware. Which is promptly squashed by the monster WHO THEN SPROUTS WINGS AND FLIES OFF. Kind of an unusual plot twist, but, hey, you’ll probably be asleep by this point anyway.

Eventually they figure out a way to trick Varan (the monster) into eating a bomb. It’s a Japanese giant monster movie from the golden age, but there’s a reason you’ve probably never heard of this one.

The US version is to be avoided — one of the worst films I’ve ever seen.

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Movies Referenced in the theme song of the Rocky Horror Picture Show

Michael Rennie was ill the day the Earth stood still
Michael Rennie played the alien in The Day the Earth Stood Still
But he told us where we stand
And Flash Gordon was there in silver underwear
Buster Crabbe starred in Flash Gordon
Claude Raines was the invisible man

Claude Raines was the Invisible Man
Then something went wrong for Fay Wray and King Kong

King Kong
They got caught in a celluloid jam

Then at a deadly pace it came from outer space
It Came From Outer Space
And this is how the message ran:

Science Fiction – Double Feature
Dr. X will build a creature
See androids fighting Brad and Janet
Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet
Oh-oh at the late night, double feature, picture show.

I knew Leo G. Carroll was over a barrel
When Tarantula took to the hills
And I really got hot when I saw Janet Scott
Fight a Triffid that spits poison and kills
Day of the Triffids
Dana Andrews said prunes gave him the runes
And passing them used lots of skills
Night of the Demon
But when worlds collide, said George Pal to his bride
When Worlds Collide

The Citizen Kane of horror movies

British flag The Wicker Man 1973

Unique and very well-made movie. I have a copy on VHS which runs 103 minutes, meaning that the expunged scenes are included.

The story unfolds nicely, introducing our hero and then telling the tale of why he traveled to Summerisle… intricate, clever and frightening. Sophisticated and entertaining. Christopher Lee is typically magnificent. I’d read that he feels this is his best film role.

Spooky goings-on, a murder investigation, weird ritual practices… it slowly builds and builds. Very well-paced. And it delivers big-time.

Really an excellent film. Original, well-told — 100% recommended!

The boys say there’s a girl behind every tree.

The Deadly Mantis

US flag The Deadly Mantis 1957

Goofy giant bug movie set in the Arctic. Giant praying mantis wakes from its slumber, finds it is not in a good mood. Finds meaty little bugs to eat as it flies south.

Horribly cheesy dialog combined with overacting and odd casting. The male lead is a hunky Adonis type who we’re supposed to accept as head paleontologist at the Museum of Natural History. He has a sidekick, Alix Talton, who’s really annoying. She takes photos and screams.

She also completely hypnotizes the all-male crew at an Arctic Air Force base. It’s embarrassing. You’re glad to see the giant praying mantis show up again just to get the picture moving once more.

Very little suspense. The special effects are disappointing. A giant praying mantis is just not that scary. And it ends up in a tunnel under New York City for no apparent reason. Where I believe it is bored to death by the actors reading their flat dialog.

I’d love to tell you that this movie is the greatest thing ever, but it just isn’t. It’s not very good, but it IS a giant bug movie. It could have been much better. Again, for completists only.

King Kong vs Godzilla

Japan King Kong vs Godzilla (キングコング対ゴジラ) 1962

I finally located a copy of the Japanese version of this movie. It makes slightly more sense but not enough to redeem it. It’s a romp, not at all serious. Apparently this is the Godzilla movie that’s most popular amongst regular people. I never cared for this movie. I have grown to appreciate it, but the dumb subplots bother me. And King Kong seemed ancient and sleazy by the 1960s when this movie was made.

Some fun special effects, such as they are, great music. Don’t expect too much and you won’t be too disappointed.

Mars Attacks!

Mars Attacks

US flag Mars Attacks! 1986

Ugly, mean-spirited movie. Polluted with guest stars. Mocking 1950s science fiction movies. Violent, stupid… unpleasant.

Noomi Rapace Dressed in Two Tiny Ace Bandages


US flag Prometheus 2012

Great special effects and some gorgeous opening shots of natural wonders, such as a waterfall in Iceland. Then things go south. Some odd humanoid drinks some nasty looking liquid and disintegrates as a UFO takes off into the sky above him. A few explanatory scenes and our heroes are on their way to points unknown in search of who knows what.

The android, named David, is annoying and simpering then evil and untrustworthy. I liked his character slightly better once he was beheaded by a pissed-off “Engineer” or alien.

Charlize Theron, typecast as an icy, calculating corporate bitch, is serviceable, though her sudden bedding of the black ship’s captain seemed highly unlikely. The extraordinarily cute Noomi Rapace and her scientist partner are happy to have discovered whatever they discover and end up in bed. Since Noomi Rapace’s character is sterile, it’s something of a surprise to find that she’s now carrying a fetus, albeit “not  a normal fetus.”

I wish I cared. The special effects are great. The acting is limp. The dialog puts you to sleep. Random, sporadic violence. Such as Charlize Theron’s character incinerating a crew member with a flamethrower in five seconds. Not. Very. Likely.

ANYWAY. Eventually the exploratory ship rams an alien ship trying to take off and destroy Earth. Yay for us. I enjoyed seeing the evil Charlize Theron character crushed by the crashing alien ship. Nice touch. Then the extremely cute Noomi Rapace character determines that with David’s help she can pilot one of the remaining alien spaceships back to wherever they came from and try and figure out why they created humans and now want to destroy us.

I managed to omit the scene where Noomi Rapace’s character performs self-surgery to remove an alien fetus. Grisly. She’s dressed in a couple of pieces of Ace bandage. Smoking little MILF body.

Overall: this movie is a confused mess with annoying characters. Even the aliens are annoying. The only part I found inspiring was when Noomi Rapace’s character takes off in an alien ship — THEN THE MOVIE ENDS. It was just promising to get interesting.

I now read that a sequel (to the prequel?) is scheduled for release in 2014. Oh boy.

This movie misses the target by a good distance. It’s like playing darts and you miss by a wide enough margin to hit the wall and not the dartboard.

There are bits of Alien and Species in here. None quoted all that well. Definitely an “Aliens 3” vibe — a franchise with no where to go. The endless British accents are annoying. Aside from the special effects and the smoking hot Noomi Rapace dressed in a couple of strips of cloth, there’s not much here I feel good about. A curious miscue.

The Dude Abides

The Big Lebowski

US flag The Big Lebowski 1998

A perfect film. I’m not a Coen Brothers fan. But ever since I first saw part of The Big Lebowski on television I’ve been a fan of this film.

It’s difficult to imagine the Brothers Coen setting out to make a masterpiece, so I guess it can be chalked up to luck or The Force or whatever. A perfect slice of modern life. Witty, clever, nimble. There’s an element of advanced weirdness here. The Dude, a perfect derelict — The Dude abides, man. Smoking dope, bowling, drinking White Russians… suddenly two thugs break into The Dude’s humble abode (The Dude’s abode, man) and in an unfriendly manner query unto him “WHERE’S THE MONEY, LEBOWSKI?” while dunking his head in the commode. Not pleasant.

The story is convoluted and possibly not of as much importance as the weird characters and the brilliant dialog and situations the characters find themselves in. Advanced weirdness. The Dude soon finds himself in way over his head, doing his best to fathom it all — “This aggression will not stand, man” — it’s a terrific ride, it really is. John Goodman is hysterical as the deranged Viet Nam vet. Sam Elliott as… the narrator? God? The human spirit? …gives the picture a nice little nudge which sends it into the next dimension. A little cosmic seal of approval.

See them tumbling down
Pledging their love to the ground
Lonely but free I’ll be found
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

Cares of the past are behind
Nowhere to go but I’ll find
Just where the trail will wind
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

I know when night has gone
That a new world’s born at dawn.

I’ll keep rolling along
Deep in my heart is a song
Here on the range I belong
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.