Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Challenge Totals to Date:

Movies Watched Today: 4
Total Movies Watched: 47
Total First Time Views: 21
Scare-A-Thon Donations: $1071.60

Remember, if you would like to make a pledge toward Scare-A-Thon 2015 (benefiting PLANNED PARENTHOOD and GREENHOUSE SHELTER) at any time, drop me an email at to say how much you would like to pledge. Your donation is tax deductible and, seriously, even a penny per film helps.

Gothika (2003) d. Kassovitz, Mathieu (USA) (2nd viewing) 98 min

Following a rainy late-night encounter with a strange woman in the middle of the road (who promptly bursts into flames), Dr. Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) wakes up restrained in her own women’s prison mental hospital’s observation room and is told that she has viciously murdered her own husband (Charles S. Dutton). If you can get past the notion of a doctor being housed with her former patients, including sexy bull goose looney Chloe (Penelope Cruz), you’ve still got to swallow Robert Downey Jr.’s patented uber-smug presence and some dicey CG effects. Sebastian Guitierrez’s dialogue (one of the guys responsible for Snakes on a Plane) is painfully obvious and clumsy, and the high profile performances aren’t far behind. (Berry in particular seems bent on having her Monster’s Ball Oscar rescinded.) A case study in substandard Hollywood-polished supernatural thrillers; unfortunate, considering the caliber of talent on hand and it being Kassovitz’s English-language debut (following his acclaimed La Haine and The Crimson Rivers).

Target Earth (1954) d. Rose, Sherman A. (USA) (1st viewing) 75 min

Following a mysterious invasion from Venus, the entire populace of Chicago is evacuated except for a few folks who apparently slept through the whole thing. (Don’t think about it too hard.) A small group of survivors stumbles around town: Detroit businessman Frank (genre stalwart Richard Denning), suicidal widow Nora (Kathleen Crowley), and a pair of bickering saucepots, Vicki (Virginia Grey) and Jim (Richard Reeves). The cereal box-top design robots clunking around have a real old-school charm to them and deserved considerable more screen time. Instead, it’s more a domestic survival drama, with the two couples wandering from deserted nightclub to deserted hotel to deserted restaurant and so on, encountering other stragglers along the way. There’s also a rather blatantly expository parallel storyline of the military capturing and diagnosing one of the metalbeasts, with egghead Whit Bissell handling the big ideas. The script seems to have gone through a few hands, with Bill Raynor receiving final credit, revising Wyatt Ordung (Robot Monster) and AIP head honcho James H. Nicholson’s original adaptation of Paul Fairman’s story “Deadly City.” I just want to know which one came up with this gem, speaking of the automaton interlopers: “That’s what makes ’em tick. Electronics!” Produced by schlockmeister Herman Cohen (I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Konga).

The Night the World Exploded (1957) d. Sears, Fred F. (USA) (1st viewing) 64 min

In putting the final tweaks on his experimental seismograph, Dr. David Conway (William Leslie) learns that a earthquake will hit California within 24 hours, but can convince no one else in time. The devastation incurred is but a fraction of what Conway predicts is yet to come – a series of catastrophic quakes across the globe. He and his assistant Hutch (Kathryn Grant aka Mrs. Bing Crosby aka Princess Parisa from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad) take the ’graph to Carlsbad Caverns, hoping to diagnose the issue as close to the Earth’s core as possible, where they discover a highly unstable new substance (Element 112) that threatens the very fabric of the planet if it reaches the surface. Fairly standard sci-fi programmer, with plenty of male chauvinism, tumblin’ crumblin’ stock footage, and clunky cross-fades of the malevolent mineral “growing” in size before exploding.

The Visit (2015) d. Shyamalan, M. Night (USA) (1st viewing) 94 min



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