What was the last movie you saw?

dask

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Couple of not-so-greats by two Italian greats of horror. Still fun to watch late at night when you should be in bed.

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Slightly better thriller directed by a guy I've never heard of, Armando Crispino and featuring music by Ennio Morricone. At first solar flares seem to be causing people to commit suicide, then appear to cause Dr. Mimsy Farmer see corpses rise from their slabs. Then they don't appear to have anything to do with anything as the story turns into a murder mystery involving a lost will. A little too sleazy to be great it's still a sincere attempt at cinematic horror.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Psychological Dramas of 1976, Disguised As Supernatural Horror Films, About Seriously Disturbed Homicidal Women Double Feature

Werewolf Woman AKA The Legend of the Wolf Woman (1976)

Italian shocker starts with a nightmare sequence, as our main character dreams about dancing naked in a ring of fire and changing into a werewolf. The transformation is minimal; just some fangs, skin coloration, and hair placed here and there on her body, in a way that still allows the viewer to enjoy the nudity. She wakes up screaming, the way people do in movies. It seems she was raped some time ago, and has been mentally unbalanced ever since. There's also a family legend that an ancestor was a werewolf two hundred years ago, explaining the dream and the title of the film. The murders start when she makes sexual advances to her sister's husband at night, in the woods, then rips his throat open with her teeth. Please note that at no time does she actually become a werewolf. Confined to a mental hospital, she manages to escape with the help of a fellow patient who makes lesbian advances to her and is murdered for her trouble. Further killings follow, pretty much at random, until she is taken in by a genuinely nice guy. They fall in love, and she seems to be back on her way to mental health. We're not done yet.

Things fall apart completely when a gang of thugs rape her and murder the man she loves. She kills them off one by one. Surprisingly, this is done in normal ways, not in her usual pseudo-werewolf fashion. It ends with her living in the woods like a wild animal, completely insane, until the authorities track her down, and it seems as if she will have to be institutionalized for the rest of her life.

This grim tale is told in the style of an exploitation film, with tons of female nudity and sex scenes, giving the whole thing a sleazy feeling.

The Witch Who Came From the Sea (1976)

Begins with a woman and her two young nephews at the beach. Pretty normal stuff happens, until she sees some scantily clad musclemen, and has visions of them bloodily murdered. A little while later we see her in a kinky three-way with two hunky football players. She ties them up as part of the fun, then castrates them (off screen) and kills them. Just another sick fantasy? It seems so, until we find out the two were really murdered that way. Another, similar killing happens much later in the film. In between, the woman's relationships with the other characters slowly reveal her mental state. Add in some fantasies/hallucinations and flashbacks that reveal the woman's childhood trauma. Lots of sea images and metaphors. No actual witchcraft; the title refers to the woman's reaction to seeing a reproduction of the famous painting of the Birth of Venus, and how the myth behind the painting relates to her own situation. Ends in a surprisingly quiet fashion. Much more of an art film/serious drama than a shocker, despite the violence.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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The Brasher Doubloon (1947)

Adaptation of the Raymond Chandler novel The High Window. Philip Marlowe gets hired by a wealthy older woman to recover the valuable coin of the title. She claims to know who took it, but refuses to tell him. Adding to the confusion is the fact that her son tries to tell him his services are no longer needed. Adding a third eccentric to the spooky old mansion is the woman's secretary, a beautiful but emotionally disturbed young woman. The convoluted plot goes on to involve four murders, a gang of hoods, a blackmailer, and so on. It's a pretty nifty hardboiled private eye story, with some nice looks at Los Angeles of the time.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Creature With the Blue Hand (1967)

One of the many German krimi films adapted from works by Edgar Wallace. Starts with Klaus Kinski sentenced to life in an insane asylum for a murder he says he didn't commit. Later an unseen somebody helps him escape, while also murdering a nurse. Kinski goes back to his ancestral home, where we find out he's got an identical twin brother. Kinski-One disguises himself as Kinski-Two; the latter disappears from the film for a long time. Meanwhile, somebody in a black hood with one eye hole kills people with a blue gauntlet with sharp blades that snap out like switchblades. Along for the fun are the mother of the two Kinskis, the family butler, the family lawyer, two more (non-identical) brothers, and a sister. We find out pretty quick that the director of the insane asylum is one of the bad guys, but he's only acting on the orders of his unseen boss. Sister gets kidnapped by the director, gets thrown in a locked cell and frightened by a huge number of snakes and rats. It all has something to do with an inheritance. I haven't mentioned the secret corridors, the room full of mannequins, and so on. Don't bother trying to figure out the plot, just enjoy the constant twists and turns.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Creature AKA The Titan Find (1985)

One of the many films "inspired" by Alien. American and German companies are competing to exploit the resources of the moon Titan. A couple of American astronauts find a structure two hundred million years old, full of cylindrical containers. One of them is still sealed. They crack it open while fooling around taking photos of it. Cue screams. Cut to a 2001 style space station around Earth's moon. A spaceship is on a collision course with it. Visuals from the ship show a gory, zombie astronaut at the controls. Big explosion. Cut to a company guy briefing our team of heroes and victims on their mission to bring back the priceless archaeological discovery on Titan. They go there, land on the moon, ship crashes through the surface and gets damaged. They can't get back into space and they're running out of air. Their only hope is the fact that there's a German spaceship nearby. Klaus Kinski shows up and livens the film quite a bit with an eccentric performance as the only survivor of the German expedition. (The only other notable performer is Diane Salinger, in her first film role. Tall, striking in appearance, and with killer cheekbones, she steals the film, when Kinski isn't running away with it, as a tough, no nonsense security officer. Everybody else is pretty bland.) Turns out the cylinders held specimens collected by ancient aliens. The one that got out goes on a rampage, killing off folks left and right. We don't see it until near the end, and it looks a lot like the one in Alien. Meanwhile, the people who get killed by it have some kind of organism attached to them which takes over their brains and bodies, so we get an army of killer zombies as well. It doesn't pretend to be anything but a science fiction monster movie, inexpensively made, with a minimum number of sets, cast members, and special effects. Of its kind, it's very generic, but succeeds fairly well at its modest goals.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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The Nightcomers (1971)

Prequel to the famous Henry James novella The Turn of the Screw, memorably filmed as The Innocents (1961.) Shows us what happened to manservant Peter Quint and governess Miss Jessel, and what effect that had on the two orphaned children Miles and Flora. Marlon Brandon stars as Quint, with a distracting Irish accent. He and Miss Jessel are lovers, of a peculiar sort. Their encounters involve a lot of heavy sadomasochism and bondage, not to mention the severe beating Quint gives Miss Jessel when she rejects his offer to live with him in what she calls his pigsty. Quint is a great favorite of the lonely children, who don't even know their parents are dead until he tells them. Not even their guardian, a distant relative, bothers to hang around their mansion, going off somewhere and leaving them in the care of the servants. Quint teaches them that love and hate are the same, and that love means wanting to kill the one you love; and that the dead don't go anywhere after their demise, there being no Heaven or Hell, but are somehow able to be together beyond the grave. Besides accepting these lessons, the children also peek on the lovers' time together, and imitate their actions, Miles tying his sister up, then later beating her and nearly killing her, to which she acquiesces. This disturbing train of events leads to the tragic ending.

Flora arranges to have Miss Jessel, who cannot swim, go off in a boat with a leak in it, thinking she is going to meet Quint. She drowns. Miles shoots Quint dead with arrows. The film ends where the novella begins, with the arrival of the new governess.

Handsomely filmed, the movie is slow and wanders around quite a bit. Brando has one of his improvised storytelling scenes that seem to come up a lot in his roles. I doubt it was a good idea to try to resolve the ambiguity of the novella with an explanation for the haunting, which may or may not be real.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Scream of the Butterfly (1965)

Cheap, sleazy exploitation melodrama, but one which is not without some interest. Starts with a voluptuous blonde with a beehive hairdo getting run over by a car. We then see a District Attorney who wants a quiet trial, an Assistant District Attorney who wants a lot of publicity, and a Public Defender who wants to send the killer to a mental hospital. They argue back and forth, setting up a series of flashbacks that tell the tale. The curvy blonde gets married to a rich guy. Just a few days after the wedding, she starts a hot and heavy affair with a handsome young man. Eventually she tries to kill her husband by getting him out on a boat, because he can't swim. We already know he's secretly been taking swimming lessons, so that fails. Until we get to our Shocking Twist Ending, we get a lot of time taken up with the blonde in an extremely skimpy bikini, and even nude in a bubble bath, earning the films its Adults Only status. Dancing in a nightclub, making out with the lover, and arguments with her husband, as well as attempts to make up with him, add further padding. Besides the three folks involved in the Eternal Triangle, there's another guy hanging around whose role in the story isn't clear until near the end, although there are clues if you watch carefully. He's being sought as a material witness, but can't be found.

He's the handsome guy's lover, a theme you don't expect in 1965. In an even more unexpected twist, the very end of the film shows the DA on the phone with him, telling him that now that he's agreed to let the killer go to a mental hospital, they can safely go off together for the weekend!
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Nudie Cutie Triple Feature:

Nude on the Moon (1961)

We start off with a male crooner offering us the romantic tune "Moon Doll," performed in proper lounge singer style, over a painting of the Earth as seen from the Moon. We'll hear this song a lot. Cut to Young Science Guy, driving off in his nifty, gigantic lavender convertible, to tell Older Science Guy that a rich uncle died and now he's got three million dollars to spend on their big project: a trip to the Moon. Their secretary is clearly in love with Young Science Guy, but he only cares for science. After a lot of time wasted talking, the two men get to the Moon. The Moon is played by Coral Castle, a tourist attraction in Florida consisting of a bunch of weird stone constructions built by an eccentric fellow. The Moon is also inhabited by people, mostly young women, who wear nothing but tiny shorts and antennae on their heads. (There are even a couple of little kids hanging around.) The astronauts wander around, and the Moon women lounge around. Young Science Guy falls in love with the Moon Queen, but has to leave her to go back to Earth. Wouldn't you know it; the secretary looks exactly like the Moon Queen, and love conquers all. It's all very innocent and charming, in a silly kind of way.

Diary of a Nudist (1961)

Starts with a female singer offering the upbeat, swinging tune "Sun Lovers Blues." Editor of a newspaper accidentally discovers a nudist camp. He assigns a female reporter to go undercover (or, I suppose, without cover) to expose the place. She gets converted to the lifestyle. Editor goes to the place himself, realizes the reporter is right, and, in a sudden revelation that comes out of nowhere, they both confess their love for each other. That's the entire plot, and the rest of the movie is pretty much a typical nudist "documentary" of the time, with swimming, volleyball, and such. Kudos for offering a fair number of nude men along with the women. Of course, everything is very carefully filmed from the back or from the waist up; you've never seen so many people carrying strategically placed hats, newspapers, towels, etc.

House on Bare Mountain (1962)

The title, and the opening credits, in black and white with old-fashioned scary music, suggest a horror movie spoof, and there's a tiny bit of that, but it's mostly just a lowbrow comedy. There are some jokes in the credits that tell us this isn't going to be the most serious film in the world. "Starring Lovable Bob Cresse as Granny Good" and "Special Guest Stars Frankenstein played by Percy Frankenstein Dracula played by Doris Dracula Wolfman played by Abe Greyhound" and "Head Electrician Dave Stern Rear Electrician Dave Rear" and "Hair Styles Hoover Vacuum" and "Coffee by Cherokee Johnson" and "Body Make-up Everybody!" and "Casting Director (Deceased)" to name a few. Granny Good is a guy in drag, totally ripping off the character of Maude Frickert as played by Jonathan Winters. It seems that Granny runs a school for girls, and also has an illegal still and a werewolf assistant hidden in the basement. New girl arrives at the school. She's actually a spy for the cops. It all leads up to a confrontation at the costume party; Dracula and Frankenstein, sad to say, are just guys in costumes. So far you'd just have a stupid, G-rated comedy, but the girls take off their clothes while getting ready for bed, showering, sun bathing, exercising, drawing, and, well, for no reason at all, really. It's all ridiculous, although some of the wisecracks made by Granny Good are amusing.
 

Randy M.

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The Queen of Outer Space (1958); dir. Edward Bernds; story by Ben Hecht, screenplay by Charles Beaumont; starring Zsa Zsa Gabor, Eric Fleming

Since Hecht and Beaumont are involved, I assume at least some of the silliness is intentional, and there are a few funny moments in a surprisingly well-produced (for its time) s.f. movie.

Plot: Rocket on way to space station witnesses the station hit by a ray and exploding. More rays knock the ship off course and it eventually lands on what the crew determines to be Venus. The crew includes the intrepid and overly-serious Captain, the playboy navigator, the comic relief lieutenant, and the wise old professor, who the crew was charged with getting to the station safely. Beneath the cloudy atmosphere, they find Venus is inhabitable and indeed inhabited. By women, men having been tossed off after causing an atomic war. Now the Queen thinks the Earthmen are invaders and expects Earth to launch an attack at any moment. The crew tries to explain they were just going to the space station, but she doesn’t believe them and intends to destroy the Earth with her ray. How can they possibly stop her?

A bit at odds with itself, Queen seems to be trying to satirize some societal norms and assumptions while also playing into them. Played more or less straight, the liberated independent women of Venus look like 1950s pinups, complete with ‘50s hair styles, short skirts, and high heels, perfect for jogging around jungle-like exteriors. Venus as a paradise is somewhat easier to believe than Gabor as a scientist (at odds with her Queen, and so helping the crew), but once you make that imaginative leap the rest is … still like a movie witnessed in a fun-house mirror. Gabor frequently reminds us she was not an actress, though she makes interesting choices in her poses, rarely giving off a vibe consistent with the scene she’s in. Fleming isn’t quite the Mount Rushmore of actors since he easily conveys concern, puzzlement and, I am extrapolating here, acid reflux.

All that said, it’s a fun, innocuous, silly movie that was good for an afternoon fighting off allergies.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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It's one example, and maybe the most professionally filmed, of that odd little genre of astronauts journeying to a place full of beautiful women. Cat-Women of the Moon and its remake (!) Missile to the Moon, along with the British variation Fire Maidens from Outer Space. There was a lovely pastiche of these in the segment of the sketch comedy film Amazon Women on the Moon which gives that film its title. They recreated the goofiness of this genre in a delightful way, but the target of their parody was itself so silly that the spoof was more charming than funny. (As Roger Ebert said in his review: "Satirists are in trouble when their subjects are funnier than they are.")
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Tower of Evil AKA Horror on Snape Island AKA Beyond the Fog (1972)

British shocker starts with a father and son pair of sailors approaching a small island with a lighthouse in heavy fog. They quickly find a dead naked man, a dead naked woman, a dead clothed man, and a naked live woman, insane with fear, who stabs the father to death. The son knocks her out. Back on the mainland, in a hospital, the woman is in a catatonic state. A combination of drugs and a bunch of flashing colored lights wake her up for brief periods of time, leading to a series of jumpy flashbacks. A briefly glimpsed scary-looking figure slaughtered the three victims. In what seems at first to be another movie, a team of folks go to the island, where a solid gold Phoenician ceremonial spear was found, in search of more treasure. Add in the surviving sailor, a young relative of his, and a guy who was hired by the parents of the catatonic woman to find out what happened. Pretty soon somebody blows up their boat and smashes their radio, stranding them on the island. The discovery of a rotting corpse leads to a revelation of family secrets. More killings follow, and what do you know: they do find the Phoenician stuff, hidden in caves. The family secret turns out to be more complex than we thought, right before the dramatic ending. It always held my interest, alternating as it does between moody and suspenseful and graphic and exploitative. The Phoenician treasure stuff adds an odd Indiana Jones touch to the typical slasher stuff. There's also a lot of stuff going on among the explorers. One man and woman just broke off their engagement because she caught him sleeping with the married woman on the team; the married woman and her husband bicker all the time; and the married man keeps making passes at the unmarried woman. As if this were not enough romantic tension, the young relative of the sailor soon winds up in the embrace of the married woman. That has nothing to do with the plot, but it sure keeps things hopping.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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The Day Mars Invaded Earth (1962)

Late entry in the alien invasion genre of the 1950's. Starts with a probe on Mars getting zapped by unseen Martians. Cut to the Science Guy in charge of the project, delighted as can be because the probe transmitted for six minutes before failing. He's been away from his family doing science stuff, even missing Christmas and New Year's Day, so he takes a well-deserved break after this smashing success. In a nice scene, we see him leave his office, then pan to his desk, to see his exact duplicate sitting there. He leaves Florida and goes to a fancy mansion (played by the Greystone house, a real fancy mansion in Beverly Hills) owned by his wife's wealthy family; they're letting her and her family stay there while they're trying to sell it. Besides husband and wife, we've got a preteen son and a teenage daughter. It's obvious that the marriage is in trouble, due to his frequent absences because of his job. By the time we think this is going to be entirely a domestic drama, the first odd things happen. People encounter their relatives at places they haven't been, and eventually some encounter themselves. It all has more of the mood of a ghost story than a science fiction movie, what with people hearing strange noises, walking through the spooky halls of the mansion, and witnessing inexplicable apparitions. Eventually the Science Guy's duplicate very calmly explains that Martians are pure energy. They consider the probe to be an invasion, so they're going to remove and replace the population of nations with the ability to reach Mars. The whole thing is a cheap, slow little tale, almost entirely devoid of special effects, but moody and relentless. Notable for the ending.

The Martians win! At no time does the Earth have a chance, really. The entire family winds up as piles of ashes on the bottom of an empty swimming pool; shades of J. G. Ballard!
 

Randy M.

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It's one example, and maybe the most professionally filmed, of that odd little genre of astronauts journeying to a place full of beautiful women. Cat-Women of the Moon and its remake (!) Missile to the Moon, along with the British variation Fire Maidens from Outer Space. There was a lovely pastiche of these in the segment of the sketch comedy film Amazon Women on the Moon which gives that film its title. They recreated the goofiness of this genre in a delightful way, but the target of their parody was itself so silly that the spoof was more charming than funny. (As Roger Ebert said in his review: "Satirists are in trouble when their subjects are funnier than they are.")
I haven't seen Amazon... in years. I should watch it again, but I do seem to recall it as somewhat amusing rather than laugh out loud funny.

Randy M.
 
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On the plane home from London I watched:
  • Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse - really enjoyed it! Animation was amazing, characters were great, and some absurdity which I always appreciate.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody - enjoyed this too as a big fan of Queen.
 

Jeffbert

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MARATHON MAN (1976) I finally watched it! :D:LOL: Earlier I saw a TCM documentary about thrillers, & as I recall, It showed the ending to this film Very disturbing, the thought that there is a secret organization that fills the gap between the FBI & the CIA. Moreover, this one treats Nazis like kings. :devilish: Definitely thrilling! Good show. I have reprints of 60 year-old comic in which the dentist interrogates his prisoner using similar techniques. :)

I will read the above reviews later, & respond accordingly.
 

tegeus-Cromis

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The Other Side of the Wind, on which Orson Welles worked from 1971 to 1975, at least, but never completed. (It was all shot, except for a couple of shots that had to be digitally reconstructed; Welles devised an incredibly complex editing style for it, and was only able to complete the editing for about 40 minutes of what ended up being a 2h 2 min movie.) Finally completed, under the supervision of Peter Bogdanovich, who early in his career was Welles' protege, and who plays one of the two main characters in the film (the other one is played by John Huston), in 2018, with funding by Netflix, and available on Netflix, along with a documentary about it. If you love Welles, and especially if you liked F for Fake, you have to watch this. It's uncannily "modern" looking, for someone who began with Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons back in the early 1940s. It's like Orson Welles deciding to beat the New Hollywood at its own game, by making something stranger and more original than any of them (Scorsese, Coppolla, etc) had done, and inventing the mockumentary in the process. Also features quite long excerpts of a film-within-a-film (the story concerns a film director, played by Huston as a combination of Hemingway, himself, and Welles, trying to cobble together the funds to complete his last film), also called "The Other Side of the Wind," which is a pretty hilarious parody of European art cinema, and the work of Antonioni in particular.
 
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