Thursday, March 26, 2020

Fool's Views (2/15 – 2/29)

Look who's knocking out the Views! Cyber High Five!!!

Greetz and treatz!

Wrapping up the shortest month of the year with our Kryptic Army assignment (films starting with E, V, I, or L), most of which were accomplished courtesy of an impromptu Share the Scare at the Krypt itself. (Who knew it was going to be the last one for the foreseeable future? #socialdistancing) Seems Jon had picked up an array of discs from Sinister Cinema and was inclined to share the wealth. While not all were winners, there were definitely some jewels in the mix from all corners of the globe and, with Dawn working her usual magic in the kitchen, it was a fantastic way to wrap up the month.

I also started my Bronson-fest in earnest, hitting up the Chicago Public Library for a few lesser-known entries in the star’s CV, with many more on the way. For the record, prior to 2020, I had previously seen 17 of Charlie’s 95 films, a tally that includes his bit and supporting parts; I suspect I will be revisiting most of those along the way, but all the ones this month were First Time Views. Speaking of CB, one of his frequent co-stars, James Coburn (The Magnificent Seven, Hard Times, The Great Escape) popped up for the most recent installment of Kicking the Seat, so if you get tired of reading, just pop in the earbuds and have a little listen.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.



Deep Rising (1998) d. Sommers, Stephen (USA) (2nd viewing)


One Cut of the Dead (2017) d. Ueda, Shinichiro (Japan) (1st viewing)


Return of the Witch (1952) d. af Hallstrom, Roland (Finland) (1st viewing)



Experiments in Terror (2003) d. Various (Various) (1st viewing)

A collection of short horror films, including Outer Space, Ursula, Journey into the Unknown, The Virgin Sacrifice, Tuning the Sleeping Machine, Dawn of an Evil Millennium, and The Haunted Mouth (brought to you by the American Dental Association). (Also on the DVD are trailers for various 1960s and 1970s horror flicks, and a promo video for A Date with Death, featuring subliminal messages. Ooooooh skeeeeery!) Can’t say that I uncovered any must-see gems gems (Dawn of an Evil Millennium was the most energetic and splattery), but all lived up to their “experimental” heading with oodles of unconventional editing, cinematography, visual effects, and sound design, usually to no other effect than being bizarre for bizarre’s sake.

Inn of the Damned (1975) d. Bourke, Terry (Australia) (1st viewing)

A certain high-ranking official in the Kryptic Army (*cough*Kitley*cough*) picked up this slice of Ozploitation from Sinister Cinema and was in search of someone to ride shotgun with him, fitting since there are endless shots of horses and carriages traveling to and fro across the Outback, usually without any roads. Despite featuring game performances from Judith Anderson, Alex Cord, and Robert Quilter, combined with a smattering of nudity and lesbianism, it’s ultimately a long, drawn-out tale of a mad couple murdering any unfortunate guests who happen to sign the register. In fact, the most interesting aspect about the film is how meandering the plotline is, involving everything from criminals and bounty hunters to secret mines and disgruntled stepdaughters!

Lake of the Dead (1958) d. Bergstrom, Kare (Norway) (1st viewing)

Not-bad Scandinavian thriller, focusing on a group of vacationers who discover that one of their party’s brother – who had gone on ahead to prepare the cabin – is now missing. This obscure offering benefits from the fact that in spite of being a fairly standard mystery set-up, because we don’t know any of these actors, any of them could be either the killer or the next victim!

The Vengeance of Lady Morgan (1965) d. Pupillo, Massimo (Italy) (1st viewing)

What starts off as a standard if effective tale of a conniving bridesgroom (Paul Muller), along with the help of his servants (Gordon Mitchell, Erika Blanc), trying to drive his new wife (Barbara Nelli) insane turns truly wackadoo courtesy of a third act in which nearly all the main characters are, ahem, not exactly alive anymore. Great atmosphere and juicy performances from all concerned.


The President’s Analyst (1967) d. Flicker, Theodore J. (USA) (2nd viewing)

In early Feb, Ian Simmons of Kicking the Seat asked if I would be willing to share the microphone with him, as I had on numerous occasions in the past. The surprise, however, was that the film under the microscope was not the usual horror fare, but instead an installment from his election-year series, “Reelpolitik.” Unqualified and undaunted, I accepted the challenge (influenced in no small part by the fact that Spider Baby’s Jill Banner has a small but significant role) and we ended up having a high old time analyzing thIS goofy and droll James Coburn vehicle about a psychiatrist tapped to serve as mental confessor to the Executive Office, only to become the most wanted man in the world. Stuffed with appearances from such 70s TV and cinema mainstays as Severn Darden (Battle for the Planet of the Apes, Jackson County Jail), Godfrey Cambridge (The Watermelon Man, Beware! The Blob), William Daniels (The Graduate, 1776), and Will Geer (Jeremiah Johnson, The Waltons), and well worth your time.

If you’d like to hear Ian and AC gabble on at length, click HERE:


Cold Sweat (1970) d. Young, Terence (France/Italy) (1st viewing)

Now an international star, thanks to the success of Farewell Friend, Once Upon a Time in the West, and Rider on the Rain, Bronson teamed with James Bond director Young (Dr. No, From Russia with Love) for this spirited caper about charter fisherman Joe Martin (Bronson) living off the coast of Nice whose past catches up with him in the form of three crooks (James Mason, Jean Topart, Luigi Pistilli) that he left in the lurch during a military prison break. Holding his wife (Liv Ullman) and daughter hostage, the gang forces Joe to drive his boat to meet up with a Turkish drug shipment, but of course our hero isn’t taking it lying down; through a series of twists and turns (and one nifty car chase), the clock ticks down between Mason’s character slowly bleeding out from a gunshot wound and Joe racing to bring back a doctor in time. Robust and energetic, with Bronson in prime “laconic man of action” form.

The Sandpiper (1965) d. Minnelli, Vincente (USA) (1st viewing)

Curiously cast as a counterculture sculptor, Bronson lends support to this commentary on the staid patriarchy in the form of Richard Burton’s authoritarian clergyman who ends up falling for Elizabeth Taylor’s wild and free spirit. There are some salient points to be made, if only the whole thing wasn’t so darn soapy.

St. Ives (1976) d. Thompson, J. Lee (USA) (1st viewing)

His onscreen tough guy persona firmly in place, Bronson decided to take a slight diversion, playing former reporter turned part-time crime novelist Raymond St. Ives, low on luck and funds due to a few ill-advised sporting-event bets. To make ends meet, he picks up an assignment from a sequestered millionaire (John Houseman) to act as go-between, dropping off cash in exchange for some stolen ledgers. Shocking to no one, things do not go as planned and St. Ives is framed for murder (not once, but multiple times) and still finds time to beat up three thugs (Jeff Goldblum, Robert Englund), deal with two crooked cops (Harris Yulin, Harry Guardino), and bed one lovely lady (Jacqueline Bisset). While the direction by Thompson (their first of nine collaborations) is a little sloppy and haphazard at times, Bronson’s rumpled, laid-back charm is in full effect. An enjoyable if lightweight diversion.

Telefon (1977) d. Siegel, Don (USA) (1st viewing)

Based on the novel by Walter Wagner, this middling espionage thriller floats the notion that 52 Soviet sleeper agents were planted in the U.S. during the Cold War and are now being prompted to fulfill their missions by a rogue KGB agent (Donald Pleasence) making phone calls and “waking up” the human weapons via a hypno-induced trigger phrase (from Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Less Traveled”). Bronson plays a Russian major engaged to track down the maniac before he starts WWIII, aided by American counterpart Lee Remick. Due to the ludicrous set-up (I mean, why doesn’t Pleasence just go right down the list and wake up all the agents at once instead of waiting to do it one by one, and then only when he’s close enough to witness it firsthand? Answer: Because we wouldn’t have a movie.) and Siegel’s uninspired direction (outside of the opening two demonstrations of what the sleeper agents are capable of, there’s very little legit action), this is a lesser effort, with Bronson coasting along on sheer presence and a sizable paycheck.

2020 Totals to Date: 67 films, 51 first time views, 23 horror, 2 cinema


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