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Real name: Joe Wawrzyniak
Hair: Rapidly receding, but what's still left is dirty blonde & often uncombed
Eyes: Piercing blue. Not exactly Meg Fosterish, but leaning in that striking direction
Favorite hat: Fedora, a man's hat
Favorite shirt: loud Hawaiian shirts, the uglier the better
Favorite pants: Khaki, usually rumpled
Date of birth: June 1st, 1972
Homestate: New Jersey, where both myself and the drive-in were born
Height: 6 feet, 4 inches, very tall
Weight: 215 pounds, really thin
Nicknames: The Woodman, The Woodster,
The Woodmeister, Awesome Anders
Mr. Wood, Woody A, Good Ol' WA, Woods,
Woody Baby (ladies only, please)
Persona: Film nerd and damn proud of it
Voice: Deep, oily, soothing pus ooze late night disc jockey tenor
Favorite song: "Una Paloma Blanca" 2005 remix by George Baker
Motto: "If you wanna be the s**t, you gotta know your s**t. Otherwise, you ain't s**t."
Religion: Godless heathen atheist and proud of it, too
I'm especially fond of horror and exploitation movies. I think the 70's was the best-ever decade for film. Watch a lot of cult movies and drive-in films; the sleazier and/or weirder they are, the more I dig 'em. Enjoy out of the mainstream independent films, rock pics, sci-fi end-of-the-world items and made-for-TV movies as well.
Just to stop my life from being too dull I have a little sideline hobby singing downhome Southern-fried country and western music. I'm the lead singer/songwriter in a funky band called Hillbilly Joe and the Jersey Bumpkins. We're a bunch of s**t-kickin', fiddle-pickin', banjo-pluckin' rowdy rednecks who love to spit, chew, screw and drink Mountain Dew (and I ain't talkin' 'bout the soda). We perform at truckstops, greasy spoons, swap meets, flea markets, seedy honkytonk dives, trailer parks, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and especially church social gatherings every Sunday afternoon. Songs we perform include such good, clean, wholesome family numbers as "Thank God I'm A Country *beep* "On the Floor Again," "I *beep* Your Sister and She's A Lousy Lay," and "The Wife Beating Song." The latter charming ditty I wrote in fifteen minutes at the tail end of a severe weekend whiskey bender. The lyrics are as follows:
I punch the dawg
I kick the cat
I beat the wife
With a bat
She called the cops
I'm in jail
Spendin' the night
Can't pay bail
While I'm here
I really hope
My hairy cellmate Bubba
Don't drop the soap
Now, isn't that a truly special song just ripe to bursting with wit, warmth, tasteful humor and a teeming surplus of poignant heartfelt humanity? Your darn totin' it sure is. Keep watching "American Idol" because I'm gonna be on it any day now.
I also act in hard-core porno films under the alias IGiveYouMyWood. Among the hard-core movies I've starred in are "Layin' the Ladies," "Stickin' It to Your Sister," "Lovin' My Cousin" (a Hillbilly Joe favorite), and the sentimental yuletide classic "Santa's Special Sausage." All these films and many more can be ordered from the following website: www.getmywood.com.
Moreover, I'm a shameless hack writer who does numerous film reviews and articles for such underground publications as "Vex," "Cult Movies" (my article on Bigfoot films was nominated for a Rondo Award in 2003, but alas I didn't win), "The Exploitation Journal," "Screem," and "Shock Cinema." I also write album reviews for a local Garden State rock zine called "Jersey Beat."
I average at one film comment a day on the IMDb and even write snappy little bios on such lesser known actors and actresses as Vic Diaz, Victor Israel, Joy Bang, Michael Ironside, Michelle Stacy, James Whitworth, Frances Raines, Roberta Collins, Rick Dean, Candice Rialson, Monica Gayle, Harley Cross, Bill Thurman, Michael Sopkiw, Nicholas Worth, Jennifer Ashley, Sondra Currie, Bruno VeSota, Sharon Kelly, Tim Thomerson, Tony Musante, Lina Romay, Pamela Franklin, Kelli Maroney, Jewel Shepard, Starr Andreeff, and Patty Shepard. I've also written bios for such directors as Richard Compton (R.I.P.), my good friend Keith Crocker, William Lustig, Jeff Lieberman, Jeff Burr, Fred Dekker, Kevin S. Tenney, Lewis Teague, Jack Arnold, Lee Frost, Don Edmonds, and Gary Sherman. In a pitiful attempt at displaying range and versatility, I've whipped up bios for longtime favorite singer/songwriters Kim Carnes, Carol Connors, Jackie DeShannon, John Prine, Joe South and Tony Joe White, country singers Dave Dudley and Eddie Rabbitt, blues singer/guitarist T-Model Ford, rock'n'roll guitarists Davie Allan and Link Wray, and crime novelist Charles Willeford. In fact, I have over 1,000 mini-bios posted all over the IMDb and am currently listed as #3 in the IMDb statistics top twenty list of writers on mini-bios. Plus I add pieces of trivia and quotes for folks all over the IMDb (one of the folks I've added several quotes for is none other than Fred Astaire!). Hell, I even add magazine interviews, pictorials and cover photos, too. And TV commercials, too. I'm not a prolific writer; I'm just a guy who writes a lot.
I would love to hear from film fans the world over. I hope you enjoy my writing and comments.
I own more DVDs than I care to list and have seen more movies than I would care to admit to. I average three or fours DVDs a week, so my collection gets bigger and bigger all the time. Before you ask, I store my DVDs in a very large basement. I also store the bodies of stray drifters I pick on the way home from work in my basement as well. Wait a minute; forget that last sentence. I actually eat as much of the bodies as I can (thus saving money on food so I can buy more DVDs) and burn what I can't eat in my incinerator (thus saving money on heating as well). When in Jersey be sure to stop by my house. I'd be glad to have you over for diner. However, you wouldn't be a guest in my house; you would be the main course instead. Cheers!
Home Before Midnight (1979)
Gutsy little change of pace drama from Pete Walker
Successful pop songwriter Mike (a sound and likeable performance by James Aubrey) meets and falls in love with underage hitchhiker Ginny (a fine and appealing portrayal by lovely brunette Alison Elliot). Complications ensue after Mike finds out that Ginny is only fourteen, but decides to continue being romantically involved with her.
Director Pete Walker, who's best known for his gruesome horror shockers, here makes a radical departure from his usual fright fare and does it very well by relating the daring and compelling story at a steady pace, maintaining a bittersweet tone throughout, grounding the premise in a believable workaday reality, and refusing to offer any simple pat answers for the tough questions the difficult subject matter brings up. Murray Smith's bold script does a commendable job of presenting the main characters as sympathetic, but flawed people who make bad choices that they must deal with the consequences of. Moreover, this film doesn't shy away from showing how societal pressure and a biased legal system only serve to compound the severity of an already thorny issue.
Aubrey and Elliot display a strong chemistry as the doomed couple, which in turn makes their forbidden romance that much more tragic and poignant. Moreover, there are rock-solid supporting contributions from Mark Burns as Ginny's disapproving dad Harry, Juliet Harmer as Ginny's more understanding mother Susan, Richard Todd as hard-nosed defense attorney Geoffrey Steele, Debbie Lindon as Ginny's saucy gal pal Carol, Andy Forray as Michael's easygoing partner Vince, and Chris Jagger as dashing singer Nick. Peter Jessop's pretty cinematography provides an attractive bright look. Catchy soft-rock soundtrack by Jigsaw, too. The downbeat ending packs a devastating punch. A praiseworthy and provocative film.
Robowar - Robot da guerra (1988)
Deliciously cheesy Italian "Predator" rip-off
A squad of mighty macho meathead commandos led by the rough'n'tumble Major Murphy Black (Reb Brown in peak ripped and rugged form) run afoul of a lethal high-tech android warrior while out in the jungle doing a covert mission.
Boy, does this hilariously horrendous honey possess all the right wrong stuff to rate highly as a real four-star stinkeroonie: We've got ham-fisted (mis)direction by notorious schlockmeister Bruno Mattei, hysterically lousy dialogue, chintzy (not so) special effects, tacky gore, ineptly staged action set pieces, lots of stuff blowing up real good, and, best of all, a pathetically laughable and unimpressive robo-baddie that looks like a guy in a motorcycle helmet and black leather jumpsuit who keeps saying stuff like "precede" and "hot target" in an extremely annoying tinny metallic voice. Rossella Drudi's shamelessly derivative script blatantly copies "Predator" right down to having similar characters, situations, and even a few groan-inducingly dumb one-liners, plus adds a dash of "Robocop" for extra cruddy measure. Al Festa's pumpin' synthesizer score hits the rousing rockin' spot. An absolute crappy hoot and a half.
Big Legend (2018)
Looking for Bigfoot
Rugged ex-soldier Tyler Laird (well played with gritty conviction by Kevin Makely) ventures into the Pacific Northwest wilderness and joins forces with scruffy hunter Eli Verunde (a lively and engaging portrayal by Todd A. Robinson) to track down the ferocious Bigfoot monster (hulking Skotty Masgai in a gnarly hairsuit) Tyler believes is responsible for the disappearance of his fiancé Natalie (an appealing turn by fetching blonde Summer Spiro).
Writer/director Justin Lee relates the engrossing story at a steady pace, makes nice use of the beautiful forest locations, takes time to develop the characters, generates a good deal of tension, delivers a few cool dollops of gore, and stages the exciting climatic confrontation between Tyler and the beast with considerable skill and aplomb. Popping up in nifty bits are Adrienne Barbeau as Tyler's supportive mom Rita, Amanda Wyss as compassionate psychiatrist Dr. Wheeler, and Lance Henriksen as crusty old cripple Jackson Wells. Adrian M. Pruett's sumptuous widescreen cinematography boasts plenty of breathtaking shots of the exquisitely verdant sylvan scenery. Worth a watch for Sasquatch cinema fans.
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Masterful piece of dark noir
Merciless and powerful newspaper columnist J.J. Hunsecker (a magnificently wicked and intimidating Burt Lancaster) coerces eager and unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco (a deliciously slimy performance by Tony Curtis) to dig up dirt on jazz musician Steve Dallas (a solid and likeable turn by Martin Milner), who's the boyfriend of Hunsecker's kid sister Susan (an appealing portrayal by Susan Harrison).
Director Alexander Mackendrick adroitly crafts and sustains a bitterly cold and cynical tone, offers a vivid depiction of New York City as a harsh dog-eat-dog sort of hellish place, and evokes a strong feeling of complete moral decay and pervasive corruption that hangs heavy in the air like a foul storm cloud. The biting script by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman boasts lots of spot-on stinging go-for-the-throat lines (Hunsecker to Falco: "You're a cookie full of arsenic"), provides a trenchant exploration of ethics and the abuse of power, and presents two unforgettably mean'n'rotten main characters who share an extremely tense and uncomfortable symbiotic relationship, with Falco in particular standing out as a disgustingly stark embodiment of ruthless ambition at its most vile, overt, and obsequious.
Lancaster and Curtis both do sterling work in their meaty roles; they receive sturdy support from Jeff Donnell as loyal secretary Sally, Sam Levene as antsy agent Frank D'Angelo, Barbara Nichols as sweet cigarette girl Rita, and Emile Meyer as the crooked Lt. Harry Kello. James Wong Howe's beautifully crisp black and white cinematography gives this picture a moody noirish look. Elmer Bernstein's swinging jazz score does the groovy trick. A knockout movie.
The Dark Side of the Moon (1990)
Nifty sci-fi/horror winner
2022. A spaceship repair crew find themselves stranded on the dark side of the moon in the wake of a mysterious systems failure. The spaceship crew discover an old abandoned space shuttle as well as run afoul of a lethal supernatural force that threatens them all.
Director D. J. Webster relates the compelling story at a steady pace, ably crafts a supremely spooky and sinister atmosphere, builds a good deal of claustrophobic tension, and delivers a few cool bits of gore. The clever script by Chad and Carey W. Hayes offers a neat and inspired blend of horror and science fiction elements, with an especially fresh and enjoyable spin on the Bermuda Triangle premise. The solid acting by the capable cast keeps this picture humming: Will Bledsoe as skeptical take-charge guy Giles Stewart, Robert Sampson as hard-nosed captain Flynn Harding, Alan Blumenfeld as amiable physician Dreyfus Steiner, Joe Turkel as uptight science officer Paxton Warner, John Diehl as the scruffy Philip Jennings, Wendy McDonald as the spunky Alex McInny, and Camilla More as chilly, but sexy humanoid computer Lesli. The special effects are quite good and convincing considering the modest budget. Both Russ T. Alsobrook's shadowy cinematography and the shivery score by Phil Davies and Mark Ryder further enhance the overall eerie tone. The final shot is a doozy. An on the money movie.
Making a deal with death
Bitter old man Robert Ross (sharply played to the crusty hilt by George Wallace) is afraid of dying, so he makes an unholy pact with the Angel of Death (a smoothly sinister turn by Curt Lowens) so he can prolong his life. Complications ensue when Robert falls for sweet nurse Sheila (a fine and appealing portrayal by Barbara Billingsley).
Director Jean Patenaude keeps the engrossing story moving along at a constant pace as well as ably crafts a spooky mood. Moreover, there's a neat depiction of the grim reaper as a businesslike man who's open to making deals and has a quota to always meet. The reaper looks genuinely creepy to boot. Dandy surprise bummer ending, too. A worthy show.
Monsters: The Demons (1989)
Greedy and pernicious alien Arturus (played way too over-the-top by Richard Moll under pounds of make-up) tries to capture a demon so he can make it grant him a wish. However, Arturus winds up accidentally summoning obnoxious insurance salesman Arthur Gammet (a really irritating performance by Jeff Silverman) instead.
Sound good? Well, it just ain't. Director Scott Alexander pitches the tone at such an absurdly broad and hysterical level that it becomes tiresome within a matter of minutes, with Moll's frantic mugging and screaming in particular proving to be an excruciating chore to endure. Worse yet, the dopey story and wacky characters quite simply just aren't funny in the least. Only Eddie Deezen as a nerdy demon manages to hit the right zany note. An extremely silly and annoying show.
A Place at the Table (2012)
A very sobering and illuminating documentary
Documentary filmmakers Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush tackle head on the alarming issue of food insecurity in America, which despite being one of the biggest and wealthiest countries in the world still has a shockingly huge volume of people in it who have to struggle on a daily basis just to put food on the table and hence don't always know where their next meal is coming from (or even if they are getting a next meal period sometime soon). The whole problem of hunger in the United States is attributed to a variety of causes including inadequate distribution of healthy food in low-income areas, rigidly enforced food stamp eligibility rules, insufficient support for school food programs, and the government slashing the budgets of programs that can effectively rectify the issue. Moreover, it's especially sad to learn that malnourishment caused by food insecurity undermines the cognitive growth of children and how the widespread availability and affordability of cheap unhealthy processed foods over healthy food is a huge contributing factor to the obesity epidemic in America. Fortunately, Silverbush and Jacobson offer a few feasible solutions to this problem by stating a persuasive case for the need to make healthy food more affordable to the masses and better education on nutrition for children as well as the need to reclaim an agricultural policy that would ensure that everyone regardless of socioeconomic status gets a rightful place at the table. The key triumph of this documentary is the simple and moving way it puts a very real human face on a highly troubling issue. An extremely important and eye-opening movie.
Lo imposible (2012)
Harrowing and touching film
2004. A family spending Christmas vacation in Thailand are split apart after a tsunami hits the place.
Director J.A. Bayona relates the gripping and gut-wrenching story at a constant pace, maintains a stark serious tone throughout, and astutely captures both the staggering beauty and brutality of nature as well as the equally startling chaos and damage wrought by a sudden catastrophe. The ace acting by the top-rate cast rates as another substantial asset: Naomi Watts totally deserved her Oscar nomination for being put through the ringer both physically and emotionally as a wounded, yet resilient mother, Ewan McGregor does terrific work as the father determined to reunite his family, Tom Holland impresses in a difficult role as the oldest son who must stay strong for his mom, and Geraldine Chaplin has a nice cameo as a kindly old woman.
Most importantly, director Bayona and screenwriter Sergio G. Sanchez wisely keep the narrative grounded in a very intimate and hence easily relatable level by putting the key emphasis on the tourist family, which in turn gives this film a considerable amount of poignancy and resonance as a moving tribute to the durable human spirit in the absolute worst of circumstances. The special effects are frightfully convincing. Kudos are also in order for Fernando Velazquez's spare score and Oscar Faura's sumptuous widescreen cinematography. The sequence with the big one occurring is downright terrifying in its ferocity. An excellent and affecting film.
Blast-Off Girls (1967)
Rockin' with Herschell Gordon Lewis
Notorious goremeister Herschell Gordon Lewis drops the splatter in favor of more basic straight-up teen-oriented rocksploitation thrills with this pretty entertaining romp about a fledging rock group who run afoul of sleazy and unscrupulous promoter Boojie Baker (a nicely slimy portrayal by Don Conway).
Lewis relates the rather slight, but still enjoyable story at a steady pace as well as maintains an amiable tone throughout. The members of the rock group prove to be a likeable bunch of guys while the 60's go-go chicks are hot and lively. The catchy'n'groovy garage-rock soundtrack hits the swingin' spot. A hysterical pot party sequence rates as a definite campy highlight. Ditto a memorable cameo by none other than Colonel Harlan Sanders at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. The paltry $1.50 production values give this film a certain endearingly rinky-dink charm. While mild stuff for Lewis, this flick is still a good deal of fun just the same.
The Last Seduction (1994)
Casts a darkly enticing spell
Cunning, devious, and alluring telemarketing manager Bridget Gregory (a terrifically tart performance by Linda Fiorentino) makes off with a huge sum of money after convincing her physician husband Clay (nicely played to the wormy hilt by Bill Pullman) to sell pharmaceutical cocaine. Bridget hides out in a small country town and gets involved with meek local Mike Swale (a likeable turn by Peter Berg).
Director John Dahl relates the intricate and involving story at a constant pace, maintains a blithely immoral tone throughout, and tops things off with a wickedly funny sense of pitch-black humor. Steve Barancik's clever script revels in the vividly cold'n' cruel world it creates and offers zero potential for redemption for its deliciously vicious anti-heroine, who not only manages to twist various weak and gullible men to her gleefully evil will, but also gets away with it, too. (This film's total dearth of sentiment is definitely one of its key assets.) Moreover, there are sharp supporting contributions from J.T. Walsh as shrewd lawyer Frank Griffith and Bill Nunn as no-nonsense private eye Harlan. But it's Fioentino's spot-on sexy'n'sassy portrayal of one of the single most sly, seductive, and predatory femme fatales to ever slink and connive her away across the screen that really makes this movie hum. Further enhanced by Jeffrey Jur's crisp cinematography and Joseph Vitarelli's smooth jazzy score, this honey overall rates highly as a 90's noir gem.
Remembering 'Dead of Night' (2019)
Nifty retrospective documentary
This 75-minute retrospective documentary covers a lot of interesting and informative ground on the classic British horror anthology "Dead of Night." The folks interviewed herein are critics and film scholars Kim Newman, Matthew Sweet, Danny Leigh, Jonathan Romney, and Keith Johnston, plus actor Reece Shearsmith and director John Landis. Among the topics discussed are how Ealing Studios had done mostly World War II dramas prior to this film, the wraparound segment doesn't give away too much early on, the harbinger of death in the hearse story was played by a familiar comic actor, the much-maligned golf story serves as a comedy of manners on British repression, the circular nature of the wraparound segment, Michael Redgrave's fantastic performance in the ventriloquist story, and the influence and legacy of this movie that basically set the template for all the horror anthologies that followed in its wake. Worth a watch for fans of the film.
Shady private eye Jack Bateman (a nice performance by Richard Edson) becomes smitten with alluring and conniving femme fatale Ann (ably played with sultry aplomb by Gina Gershon, who looks positively ravishing), who plans to get rid of her abusive jerk husband George Spires (a spot-on obnoxious portrayal by Ed Kovens) by using the contents of a mysterious jar.
Director Bette Gordon adroitly crafts a smoky and shadowy noir atmosphere as well as keeps the engrossing story moving along at a steady pace. Gerson and Edson have a ball with their colorful roles while Fritz Weaver lends sturdy support as the crotchety motel owner Mr. Hallet. Further enhanced by stylish cinematography by Michael Mayers, a cool jazzy score, a gnarly sequence in which a guy's body disintegrates, and a clever open ending, this episode overall rates as a real winner.
Monsters: The Farmer's Daughter (1989)
Heard the one about the traveling salesman?
Traveling salesman Howard Filby (an amusing performance by Soupy Sales) seeks shelter at a farm owned by an old couple. Filby winds up sharing a room with the farmer's comely daughter Lucy (a nicely sultry portrayal by fetching brunette Stephanie Phillips).
Director Michael Warren Powell relates the enjoyable story at a constant pace, ably crafts a flavorsome rural atmosphere, and further spices things up with a wickedly funny sense of dark humor. The clever script by Bob Balaban and Kenneth Pressman puts a neat macabre spin on a familiar premise, with a spot-on creepy surprise twist at the end. Bobo Lewis and George Hall do solid work as the folksy farm couple. A nifty show.
Just for the Hell of It (1968)
Wild teens on a rampage
A gang of heinous nihilistic teenagers terrorize a small Florida town. It's up to token straight-laced nice kid Doug (likeable Rodney Bedell) to put a stop to these no-count punks.
The scenes with these adolescent hellions wreaking all kinds of havoc are positively hysterical: The unruly hoodlums destroy all kinds of stuff like chairs, mirrors, tables, and couches, splash water on folks, take a cane away from a blind man, stomp on a cripple hobbling on crutches, dump a baby in a garbage can (they trash the baby's carriage, too!), set newspapers on fire, and even rudely disrupt a baseball game being played in the park by little kids. Why do they commit these terrible things? Simply because they can, man! In a hilarious touch, the police prove to be hopelessly incompetent and are almost never around when they are needed most. Best of all, director Herschell Gordon Lewis treats the whole ridiculous thing with loveably misguided seriousness, which in turn only adds to the movie's considerable campy appeal. Toss in a catchy theme song called "Destruction," cap it all off with an appropriately bleak ending, and the net result sizes up as an absolute schlocky hoot and a half.
Bad Words (2013)
Expectedly amusing and moving, too
Angry and vengeful 40-year-old middle school dropout Guy Trilby (sharply played to the obnoxiously irate hilt by Jason Bateman, who also directed) uses a loophole to enter a televised spelling bee competition as an adult. Tribly subsequently makes a brutal mockery out of said spelling bee.
Director Bateman and screenwriter Andrew Dodge derive a tremendous amount of laughs from the uproariously crude'n'rude sense of in-your-face mean and edgy humor with the profane and snarky things Guy says to various kids participating in the spelling bee proving to be positively gut-busting in their take-no-prisoners savagery. Moreover, both Bateman and Dodge give this film a surprisingly substantial amount of genuine heart: The friendship that develops between Guy and wide-eyed innocent rival Chaitanya Chopra (a charming portrayal by Rohan Chand) registers as truly sweet and touching while Guy's ulterior motive for entering the spelling bee is really poignant and makes a potentially thoroughly reprehensible character sympathetic instead of hateful. This movie further benefits from sturdy supporting contributions from Kathryn Hahn as pesky'n'persistent reporter Jenny Widgeon, Allison Janney as the uptight Dr. Bernice Deagan, and Philip Baker Hall as the disapproving Dr. Bowman. A total hoot.
Brotherhood of Death (1976)
Black 'Nam vets fight back against the Klan
Three black Vietnam veterans return to their home town in the South only to discover that a local chapter of the Klu Klux Klan is terrorizing the community. The trio decide to stand up to these vile racist scumbags by getting the oppressed black locals registered as voters.
Writer/director Billy Berry relates the enjoyable and engrossing story at a snappy pace, nicely captures a strong feeling of righteous fury and indignation, offers a flavorsome evocation of the rural setting, and delivers some exciting action in the last third. Pro football players Le Tari, Haskell V. Anderson, and Roy Jefferson make for likeable leads while both Ron David and Brian Donohue are appropriately loathsome as a couple of hateful bigoted jerks. The right-on funky theme song "Get Off Your High Horse" hits the get-down groovy spot. While rough around the edges (for example, the scenes in Vietnam go on for a bit too long as well as look like they were shot in someone's backyard), this film overall sizes up as a pretty cool little flick.
Dead of Night (1945)
Excellent horror anthology
A group of folks relate five tales of terror at a country estate: A race driver has a near fatal brush with death; a game of hide and seek takes a sinister turn; a married couple purchase a mirror that proves to be haunted; two golfers compete for the affection of the same woman; and troubled ventriloquist Maxwell Frere (superbly played to the anguished hilt by Michael Redgrave) believes that his dummy Hugo has taken on a life of his own.
The first three tales are quite spooky and unsettling in a quiet and subtle sort of way. Granted, the comic golfing vignette is admittedly lightweight, but still proves to be enjoyable and amusing thanks to the funny performances by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne. Moreover, the fifth and final yarn registers as one supremely unnerving doozy, with Hugo the dummy rating as an extremely creepy and nasty piece of mean-mouthed work. Best of all, the clever and compelling wraparound segment culminates in a genuinely startling climax that ingeniously incorporates elements from the other stories into a never-ending loop in which dreams and reality blur in a most jolting manner. This film further benefits from ace acting by a tip-top cast, with especially stand-out contributions from Mervyn Jones as the fretful Walter Craig, Frederick Valk as skeptical psychiatrist Dr. Van Straaten, Saly Ann Howes as the perky Sally O'Hara, and Googie Withers as the concerned Joan Courtland. Crisply shot in gorgeous black and white by Stanley Pavey, with a spot-on shuddery score by Georges Aurie, and a crafty script by John Baines and Angus MacPhail, this cracking omnibus outing totally deserves its classic status.
Burt Reynolds talks about making his directorial debut with "Gator," which was the sequel to "White Lightning." Reynolds reveals that did a lot of prep work, speaks fondly about shooting on location in Georgia, and points out that he insisted on casting actual Southerners in order to make sure that the accents were authentic. By far the best stories shared herein are about female lead Lauren Hutton, who Reynolds remembers as a good sort of crazy lady who never wore a bra and flashed the crew to keep morale up. Reynolds also has kind words to say about cast members Jerry Reed, Jack Weston, and Alice Ghostley. Worth a watch for fans of the film.
Monsters: Love Hurts (1989)
Fooling around with that old black magic
Jewel (a nicely tart performance by the sultry Olivia Brown) enlists the assistance of her voodoo-practicing friend Angie (sharply played by Valentina Quinn) so she can have the married Vance (a sturdy portrayal by Henry Brown) all to herself.
Director Manny Coto not only keeps the engrossing story moving along at a constant pace, but also ably crafts a tangy'n'tasty Southern Gothic atmosphere. Edithe Swensen's smart script offers a neat examination on the themes of greed and obsession. The two leads generate a good deal of genuine heat. Renn Woods provides sturdy support as the suspicious Cora. The surprise twist ending is a deliciously macabre doozy. A fine show.
College student Allison (an appealing portrayal by the pretty Rachel Jones) has a crush on recently deceased movie star Tony Sterling (smoothly played by the hunky Mark Nassar), who comes back from the dead with nefarious intentions for Allison. It's up to her nerdy friend Matt (a likeable performance by Mitchell Whitfield) to save her before it's too late.
Director John Auerbach relates the enjoyable story at a brisk pace as well as maintains an amiable tongue-in-cheek tone throughout. The clever script by Peg Haller and Bob Schneider neatly explores the perils of obsession and makes a valid point on how celebrities aren't always what they initially seem to be. Kaye Ballard contributes a lively turn as Tony's huffy agent Faye Ingram. Cute happy ending, too. A fun show.
La perversa caricia de Satán (1976)
A slow and strange, but still fairly enjoyable Spanish horror obscurity
Countess Moncorn (sharply played with fierce intensity by Silvia Solar) is left penniless by her husband's suicide, so she has to resort to working as a medium using the name Claire Grandier. Claire and her sickly telepath assistant Professor Gruber (a solid performance by Olivier Mathot) bring a corpse back to life to get revenge on the folks Claire holds responsible for her husband's death.
Sound good? Well, it is and it ain't. While writer/director Jordi Gigo does manage to craft a pleasingly brooding and decadent Gothic gone to seed atmosphere, makes nice use of the crumbling castle main location, and delivers a satisfying surplus of tasty bare female flesh along with some spicy soft-core sex, he alas lets the meandering and often uneventful narrative plod along at a sluggish pace and allows the rather tedious dialogue scenes go on for far too long at times. Fortunately, the bald zombie dude looks pretty cool, there's a hysterically gaudy fashion show sequence, and the ubiquitous Victor Israel has a nice bit as a leering pervert. All in all, this fright flick sizes up as a decent enough diversion.
The feds force ex-con moonshine runner Gator McKlusky (a solid and likeable performance by Burt Reynolds, who also directed) to go undercover in order to get the goods on blithely pernicious crime kingpin Bama McCall (nicely played with lip-smacking wicked relish by Jerry Reed).
Reynolds does a perfectly competent job with his directorial debut: The enjoyable story unfolds at a steady pace, there's a flavorsome evocation of the colorful downhome Southern setting, the rousing rough'n'ready action set pieces are staged with aplomb, and the amiable lighthearted tone takes a surprising (and effective) shift to the more serious in the last third. The sound and lively acting by the capable cast keeps this film humming: Jack Weston as bumbling treasury agent Irving Greenfield, Lauren Hutton as perky reporter Aggie Maybank, Alice Ghostley as feisty old flake Emmeline Cavanaugh, John Steadman as Gator's ornery pa, and Dub Taylor as the corrupt Mayor Caffrey. Burton Gilliam as the slimy Smiley and William Engesser as the hulking Bones make for fun flunkies. William A. Fraker's crisp widescreen cinematography provides a pleasing bright look. While it lacks the dark edge of "White Lightning," this film nonetheless still sizes up as an enjoyable follow-up.
An interesting and informative documentary
This 24-minute doc covers the boom period of Indonesian action and fantasy cinema that peaked in the 1970's and 1980's. Among the things noted in this doc are that Indonesian horror movies incorporated some ideas from Western fright fare, black magic was often combined with martial arts, Indonesian audiences were primarily middle class, bloodthirsty female goddesses were a popular recurring motif, and Indonesian cinema faltered in the wake of a recession. In addition, there's some especially good stuff concerning actor Barry Prima becoming a cult hero due to the huge success of the film "The Warrior" as well as a nice tribute to Indonesian horror queen Suzzanna. Loaded with lots of choice clips and nice interviews, it's well worth a watch for those who want to know more about the wacky world of Indonesian cinema.
Kill Command (2016)
Nifty little sci-fi/action thriller item
A group of marines led by the hard-nosed Captain Bukes (a solid and credible performance by Thure Lindhardt) are sent to a remote island for what they believe is yet another basic maneuvers mission. However, it turns out that the island has been overrun by lethal and ferocious killer robots determined to wipe out the marines.
Writer/director Steven Gomez keeps the familiar, but still enjoyable and engrossing story moving along at a constant pace, takes time to flesh out the characters a bit, makes nice use of the sprawling woodland main locations, generates a good deal of tension, maintains a tough gritty tone throughout, and stages the stirring action sequences with flair and skill. The sound acting by the capable cast rates as another substantial asset: Vanessa Kirby as the eager, but rather untrustworthy Mills, who has been "chipped" (i.e., she has computer technology implanted in her body), David Ajala as the easygoing Drifter, Mike Noble as bumbling hick Goodwin, Bentley Kalu as the rugged Robinson, Tom McKay as the excitable Cutbill, and Kelly Gough as the sarcastic Hackett. The CGI effects are quite sturdy and persuasive, with the head killer robot in particular standing out as an especially fearsome and formidable creation. Kudos are also in order for Stephen Hilton's rousing score and the sharp cinematography by Simon Dennis. An on the money B-flick winner.