‘The Incubus’ (1982) — Part One

And now for your viewing pleasure, a rather bizarre surreal unusual movie from the 1980s. So very long ago and far, far away in another galaxy where space was the final frontier.

From out of Canada comes The Incubus! With William Shatner boldly going at it! 🙂 Again.

Enjoy!

This blog has a Patreon Page. How ’bout them apples? 🙂

Here’s a preview of the Shat! 🙂

“I get the girl. Always!” (Image via Movies and Mania.)

And OMG, a trailer! 🙂

Posted in 1980s Films, Horror, Public Domain Movies, Saturday Matinee, Web Series | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

My Review of ‘Hit and Run’ (1957)

WARNING: This review contains more than a few SPOILERS! 🙂

Okay, despite the fact that so much of this movie resembles the plot of The Postman Always Rings Twice, there are some very clear differences.

A showgirl (Julie played by Cleo Moore) meets an older man who owns a garage and junkyard (Gus Hilmer, played by Hugo Haas, who also wrote and directed the film) and apparently is pretty well-off, financially. They get drunk and he takes a shine to her. Next thing you know, wedding bells are ringing for the two of them.

“Off to live happily ever after.” (Not really.) (Image via Noirsville)

However, all is not perfect bliss. Or it is and one of Gus’s employees (who Gus befriends to the point of near mentorship) also has eyes for Julie. And so the conflict in this plot becomes pretty obvious.

“Mind if I breathe down your neck a bit?” (Image via JustWatch)

Outwardly, Gus and Julie seem perfectly content as a couple. One never really gets the sense that Julie’s terribly dissatisfied. And, yes, she might have been settling for a kind and giving older man (with money) rather than falling thoroughly head over heels in love with him. But I would hardly call her “hot to trot” for the employee (whose name is Frank and who’s played by Vince Edwards). In fact, when Frank starts getting handsy with her, she literally shoves him away each time. Until, she doesn’t. But that’s after Gus insists that she … I can’t remember precisely what he said, but something to the effect that she should “be nice to him” and “accommodate him.” So … she does.

And for reasons only Gus can understand, he insists that Frank live with them in a spare room or somewhere on the premises.

“Darling, I can hardly see you for the glare. Would you reconsider your dye job?” (Image via Noirsville)

At some point, my husband remarked, “She’s trouble.” I said, “No. He’s trouble.” And after several bouts of Frank practically attacking Julie (and I think a forced liplock with her counts as one, since Julie has previously given every indication that this contact is unwanted, ergo, it’s battery), while Julie does her best to either fend him off or comply with her husband’s supposed wishes, I think my husband had a change of heart on the matter.

Frank is the obvious homme fatale here. Especially after he insists that she take a ride with him in some old car he fixed up. And once he tosses her into the passenger seat, she can’t possibly jump back out, right?

And it is Frank that drives them (without explanation of where they’re going and what he intends) to another of Gus’s properties—an old house. Gus is seen going into the place. Then Gus is seen coming out. Then Frank aims the car at Gus and runs the guy over, killing him in the process.

Now, compare this with the description on Wikipedia (at least, as of this date). “Julie begins a romantic affair with Frankie and then plots with him to get rid of her husband.” Wow, what movie was that writer watching?

Then, get this. It goes on to say that “Frankie runs down Gus with a car, killing him. He and Julie are free to be together and run the garage.” Not exactly. More like Frank blackmails Julie into not going to the police, because he claims she’s an accomplice. Even though she was a mere passenger and, hey, who did the driving? And, frankly, who are you more likely to believe? Well, I guess we’re all supposed to assume she couldn’t possibly resist ole Frankie’s charms. (Blecgh (sp?)) And calling the cops would keep her from becoming an accessory after the fact, which Frankie doesn’t bother to point out.

So it is Julie’s total lack of legal knowledge that’s her Achilles’ heel, rather than falling for this creep.

“Listen, buddy. Take a hint!” (Image via CyrusKane.com)

As if that weren’t bad enough, Gus’s twin brother (who just got sprung from the joint on parole) shows up in time for the “reading of the will.” I guess that’s an actual requirement somewhere other than the movies. It’s definitely not required in the state where I used to practice law. So I always get a kick out of the old “reading of the will” part. 🙂

But, yeah, there are definite shades of Postman in this one. But Cleo Moore isn’t Lana Turner. And Julie definitely isn’t the femme fatale here.

It’s a film noir delivered with a bit of “a wink and a smile” at the end, as Eddie Muller put it on TCM Noir Alley. By someone I won’t name since I’ve already revealed so many damn spoilers. But then, they’re not terribly hard to guess, are they?

Here’s what Eddie Muller had to say when introducing the film! 🙂

* * *

Directed by Hugo Haas
Produced by Hugo Haas
Screenplay by Hugo Haas (Story by Herbert O. Phillips)

Suspenseful enough to keep you watching! And guessing! 🙂 Even with the spoilers!

PS: This review contains one affiliate link! See if you can find it. 🙂

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‘These Girls Are Fools’ (1950) (A Short Film)

Hi there! 🙂 We’re back!

This week’s special feature is a short film. Short is good. Short is fun. But, mostly, short is short. 🙂

On that note, here’s These Girls Are Fools from 1950.

And a lesson for us all! 🙂

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‘Frogs’ (1972) (B-Movie Review) — Part Four

And finally, here we are! Almost at the end of this grueling affair bizarre mess movie review.

So … I hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I’ve enjoyed skewering the hell out of it writing it.

And here’s the previous part!

And the part before that!

It’s time to finish up Frogs!

Finally, Pickett (Sam Elliott, remember?) wises up and leaves the island with Karen Crockett (played by Twiggy Joan Van Ark). They take Clint and Johnny’s orphans/children along. They even invite more abuse from Jason, who stubbornly refuses to leave. So he gets to sit and stew alone with his cake and no one else to eat it. No one to say “Happy Birthday, Asshole Jason!” And sing the traditional (now copyright-free) song.

“I’m outta here.” (Image via Suggesting Movie.)

Karen and Pickett and the chitlins children make it to land, thanks to Pickett’s ability to fight off aggressive animals with a paddle and a shotgun. They even make it to a road! That’s where they manage to hitch a ride with the only car in evidence within miles of the place. And, of course, the kid with the couple who picks them up simply has to show off the frog he found whilst visiting this horrible shithole vision of Hell straight out of a dystopian version of Walden out-of-the-way Paradise.

Jason, meanwhile, sits in the dark. Alone in his empty manse. And we quickly learn why the movie is called Frogs. Finally. Because they’re everywhere all at once and moving in slowly not-so-slowly onto the lawn, all over the cake, into the house … from there you can imagine.

“Goddamn ingrate kids! Fine. I get to eat the entire cake! Hey, where is it, anyway?” (Image via Monsterminions.)

Spoiler alert! Things do not end well for Dickhead Jason. What a shocker!

PS: The phone finally rings at the end, but when Jason picks it up, the line is dead.

Is this a thoroughly ridiculous vague reference to the expression, “When the bell tolls, it tolls for thee?” Or am I overthinking giving the writers way too much credit here? Oh, hell, maybe it was a sly joke. 🙂

PPS: Here’s a much shorter review of the same flick! Courtesy of Junta Juleil’s Culture Shock.

PPPS: I suppose one could imagine worse fates! 🙂

Posted in 1970s Films, Cult Movies, Horror, Saturday B-Movie Review | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

My Review of ‘Loving Highsmith’ (2022)

I’ve never read any of Patricia Highsmith’s books, but I have seen two of the movies adapted from them. And I know she was considered by many to have been a rather grim, reclusive figure, even an outright racist.

This documentary, written and directed by Eva Vitija, does an excellent job of revealing the vulnerable and even warm side of the woman whose best-known books are about men without a conscience. Through a combination of readings from her journals and diaries, and interviews with the author, as well as family, friends, and lovers, we learn that she had a difficult childhood, to say the least. Her own mother essentially rejected her from the time she was born. Highsmith’s early life was spent in Texas with another relative. However, while still a child, she moved to New York City to live with her mother. Along with the culture shock that move would likely cause, her mother’s indifference must have felt like being slammed against an emotional wall.

Patricia Highsmith. Image courtesy of Swiss social Archives, provided by BGPR

The film documents Highsmith’s somewhat nomadic life as a woman with endless curiosity and a palpable need to experience various places with different people, yet she obviously wished for a home, as well as love. She was also a lesbian at a time when it was so taboo, she had to publish a lesbian love story under a pseudonym because the subject matter and happy ending were considered unacceptable. Originally titled The Price of Salt and later changed to Carol, it was eventually published under her own name. What’s also revealed in this film is a side of the author that could only come from her journals, because they were the only places she could truly be herself. As to how much she chose to share with anyone else, one can only speculate.

The footage of rural roads and the countries she visited around the world, plus photos of Highsmith at various stages in her life, provide a visual sense of Highsmith’s more romantic and restless nature. They’re displayed with a narration consisting of interviews and evocative readings from Highsmith’s journals by actor Gwendoline Christie. The occasional clips from the movie adaptations of Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley are a reminder of how movies can raise an author’s visibility to a level of celebrity that Highsmith may or may not have enjoyed. I can imagine an author with so much emotional baggage and a few guilty secrets might have difficulty maintaining a public face.

Scenes from a rodeo are also interspersed throughout the film. They serve as a reminder of Highsmith’s country roots, while the calf-roping scenes are visual metaphors of society’s constraints on her as a woman and lesbian.

The interviews with friends, family, and lovers provide occasional light moments among the darker thoughts expressed in Highsmith’s writing. It is obvious, at one point, that Highsmith was so distanced from her family that they had no clue about much of her lifestyle. That moment provides a wry touch to the material. And Highsmith herself wasn’t completely without humor, even if it was dark.

Imagine the relief she must have felt in creating a sociopathic protagonist—someone unburdened by guilt over anything.

Patricia Highsmith. Image: Ellen Rifkin Hill, courtesy Swiss social Archives, provided by BGPR

Vitija did a fantastic job of researching her subject ands weaving all the elements together to create a film that comes as close to understanding Patricia Highsmith as one could ever hope for.

Here’s the trailer!

And here’s a list of locations for viewing it. I’m happy to see Washington, DC, is one of them! 🙂

My thanks to Brian Geldin Public Relations for the opportunity to see a pre-release streamer of this film.

PS: I also recently had the pleasure of interviewing the filmmaker herself! 🙂

*****

Directed by Eva Vitija.
Produced by Franziska Sonder and Maurizius Staerkle-Drux (as Maurizius Staerkle Drux).
Screenplay by Eva Vitija.

Posted in 2020s Films, Biographical, Documentary, Women in Film | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

‘Frogs’ (1972) (B-Movie Review) — Part Three

Back again with Part Three of this amazing astonishing interesting indescribable movie.

Having started down this road, let’s finish things up and try to forget this ever happened.

I feel like I’m passing this review along the way one would share an earworm. Hoping the memory will disappear. 🙂

So while Jason bellows his intense desire for everyone to party, a woman who might be his wife, his daughter, his mistress, or a random passerby who stumbled onto the estate as cluelessly as Pickett did (and whose name doesn’t matter, because … the usual happens) goes chasing butterflies through the swamp, despite the rising death toll.

Needless to say, she manages to stumble when she sees snakes and baby alligators. And all manner of critters descend upon her as she falls into the murky waters. Not only is she  suddenly covered with leeches (Symbolic leeches? Kind of a stretch for this … half-baked attempt to make a serious point), but she’s bitten by a rattlesnake. (Is that a somewhat tortured vampire reference, I detect? Probably not. It’s just my (overwrought) imagination trying to make more of this weird flick than it really is.)

Then her husband (so that’s who she is … that guy’s wife … doesn’t matter which guy, really) sets out in search for the woman (cherchez la femme!) whose name doesn’t matter, either. You can imagine why. Hint/Spoiler! It involves falling into water and getting eaten by something.

Wising up to the way people are vanishing as if the movie had been based on The Leftovers, the butler and cook decide Pickett might be onto something in suggesting (strongly) that they get-fuck-outta there leave. And one of the Crocketts (Clint Crockett, because I should mention a Crockett other than that incredibly surly idiot Jason by name) takes them across the lake by speedboat. Somewhere along the line, they disappear! Apparently, it happens when they duck behind a tree, (Number One, The Larch!) according to Wikipedia. (At this point, I might have already been blogging the movie in my head and muttering bon mots nonsense drivel out of sheer boredom.)

Image by Alexa from Pixabay 

And a flock of “golden eagles” appear. I don’t remember them, but if it’s on Wikipedia, it must be might be is likely true. Maybe?

 On top of which, Clint searches for them. (Yes, that I remember. Actually.) He finds his boat adrift (When did he get off? Never get off the boat!) and while looking around for survivors the couple, he gets bitten by a cottonmouth. That’s a snake, you know. So much nature in this film, it’s like Wild Kingdom only much deadlier creepier weirder.

PS: You know, I’ll admit it. I was never a big fan of Wild Kingdom. Or anything involving animals eating each other. But we do …

PPS: The things you stumble across online! 🙂

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‘Frogs’ (1972) (B-Movie Review) — Part Two

Back with more of this weird movie’s review.

You may recall we started/ended up here:

Meanwhile, Pickett (wondering, no doubt, what the hell he stumbled into) tries to place a phone call, only to discover the line is dead.

And, unfortunately, that’s not the only dead thing to turn up during the excruciating remainder of this 90-minute movie.

And now … Part Two!

Because Pickett later (whilst taking a casual stroll through the swampland) finds a dead body. See Jason (with his usual complete disregard for human decency) had sent the guy (named Grover, not that it matters, because you really don’t get much chance to know him) out to get rid of the rumored man-eating frogs. Without protective clothing. Oh, the idiocy humanity.

Oddly, when Pickett discovers Grover’s rotting carcass, it appears to be covered with snake bites. Okay, we’ve got (rumored) man-eating frogs (which, at this point, are nowhere in evidence) and deadly snakes. What a great place to celebrate a birthday!

“I’m going to kill my agent.” (Image via Film Fanatic)

But this is only the beginning of the series of unfortunate events that unfold as the movie proceeds through its paces.

The next day, one of the clan (or a guest of a family member, since I’m not at all sure that everyone at this shindig is a Crockett) goes off to check on a downed power line. I’m not sure what he could have done to fix it, but he goes out to check on it. He can’t call it in to anyone, since the phone’s still out and they hadn’t invented cell phones yet.

“No part is worth this.” (Image via HorrorNews.net)

In any case, while doing this, he somehow shoots himself in the leg. Then, tarantulas descend upon him from the trees. You see, the trees have all this weird white stuff hanging from them. It seems that tarantulas favor it. So, covered with spiders, our next victim inevitably bites the dust. (Or, actually, swallows the swampwater.)

Random “scare shot” of frog. Not eating anything. (Image via Horror 101 with Dr. AC)

Back at the house, in between Jason’s bellowing for cake and merriment, various other relatives/guests run off into the woods for no really important reason. Either they haven’t heard about the pollution, the dead people, and the overwhelming number of critters encroaching on the house or they’re just stupid/oblivious/suicidal. But Jason’s daughter sends her son to the greenhouse (as if a greenhouse was actually necessary) (the whole damn place is like an outdoor terrarium) to collect flowers for the big bash for Daddy. As he attempts his mission, a horde of geckos appears, swarming toward him and knocking over every damn poisonous chemical in the place, creating a toxic fog that, well, eliminates his role, shall we say.

At this point, Pickett strongly suggests that they really should beat feet off the island. Jason sneer-laughingly dismisses the thought, insisting that everyone put on a happy face.

“Eat, drink, and be merry, goddammit.” (Image via Filmous.com)

Like this (with completely different some liberties taken with the actual wording):

PICKETT
Sir, forgive my presumption, but shouldn’t we, uh, take the hint and … get the hell outta here?

JASON
(sneering)
Nonsense, m’boy! Poppycock! A few dead relatives and possible guests ain’t gonna ruin my day! Party poopers! Useless, I tell you. Now, goddammit, where’s my cake?

I forgot to mention there are occasional inserts of frogs jumping, gathering, croaking … But they’re scattered about and brief, and the frogs manage to keep their distance from the mansion. For a while.

So, with so few deaths by so-called man-eating frogs, what’s the deal with them? Why call the movie Frogs, anyway?

I think it has to do with their sensitivity to environmental problems. And their role in the film will be made clear. Later.

Posted in 1970s Films, Horror, Movie Reviews, Saturday B-Movie Review | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Frogs’ (1972) (B-Movie Review) — Part One

Here’s a tasty treat from early 70s cinema! Except the poster is extremely misleading.

We open with a view of the murky waters at some place in the southern U.S. A place full of trees hung with Spanish moss and swamps streaked with the iridescent glow of pollution. Without the sudden appearance of a mansion on the shore, it might have been mistaken for the set of Southern Comfort.

It’s a freaking mansion! (Image via YouTube)

But instead of Powers Boothe or Keith Carradine, we are treated to the sight of a very young Sam Elliott canoeing through the muck, taking photos of wildlife. He may have glanced at the pesticides oozing past his boat and shaken his head with dismay. Thus, we learn he is one of the good guys. I guess.

Little does he know that within the first 10 minutes of the movie (actually, make that five) he’ll end up meeting the Crocketts, who own the manse and apparently don’t employ a “green” lawn service. (But “Meet the Crocketts” sounds like a great sitcom name.)

“Where the hell am I?” (Image via Monster Crap)

Elliott (who plays a guy named Pickett Smith) floats right by the dock (as I recall—it’s been a while and the beginning was dominated by the immense amount of pesticide, the sheer magnitude of Spanish moss creeping over everything, and the extremely tiny bright orange outfit that a highly anorexic emaciated Joan Van Ark wore while standing on said dock.) (A pier, a dock, whatever.) At some point, one of the male Crocketts, Clint (played by Adam Roarke) tips over Pickett’s canoe accidentally on purpose, and his sister Karen (played by the skin-and-bones of Joan Van Ark) and Clint invite Pickett to … yes, Meet the Crocketts!

“Far out, man.” (Image via. Black Horror Movies)

The patriarch of the Crockett clan is Jason Crockett (played sneeringly by Ray Milland). Jason’s just an incredibly grouchy old guy stuck in a wheelchair. There are plans in the works for a big party for Jason. He wants to celebrate the Fourth of July and his birthday by yelling at everyone and acting like as much of an asshole as possible.

“Get off my lawn, ya hippie.” (Image via Dwrayger Dungeon)

Meanwhile, Pickett (wondering, no doubt, what the hell he stumbled into) tries to place a phone call, only to discover the line is dead.

And, unfortunately, that’s not the only dead thing to turn up during the excruciating remainder of this 90-minute movie.

PS: There are probably more frogs in this video than in most of the movie. And the ones that appear hardly play a part in the story. Until the end. 🙂

You can consider this a preview of coming parts of this review! 🙂

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My Review of ‘Breaker Morant’ (1980)

I’ve always liked this movie, but I don’t think I fully appreciated what it was really about until now.

It’s about three Australian officers serving with the British Army during the Boer Wars. The three of them face a court martial and possible execution for their alleged war crimes.

Your witness. (Image via Media Life Crisis)

When I first viewed this film, the memory of Vietnam was still relatively fresh in my mind. While growing up, I saw the news stories about the massacre at My Lai and the entire mess that was the Vietnam War. You could say it left an impression.

On top of that, the British officers in the film seem to harbor a faint disgust for Australians in general. At the time, they seemed like the “bad guys.” This time, it also suggested to me differences in culture, as well as class.

I have since learned that the director Bruce Beresford never intended to depict the Australians as “innocent” or as “martyrs,” which would have surprised me a bit. Then.

So, now I’ve seen the movie again. And I think I understand where Beresford was coming from. According to Beresford, he “never pretended for a moment” to depict the defendants as innocent. He wanted to show how ordinary-looking people can be capable of committing terrible atrocities.

Yeah. Ain’t it a bitch? (Image via Tumblr)

And I would’ve agreed and still do. At least two of them very deliberately planned and committed a murder.

Ah, but the trial. That’s where I always get the feeling these chaps are getting just a wee bit railroaded.

First, they’re assigned a solicitor—i.e., someone with zero trial experience—to represent all three defendants. That is a serious disadvantage, if not an outright basis for an appeal. (I have no idea how all that works for courts martial, let alone in the Commonwealth, so … don’t ask.) Except, in order to create the level of emotion the trial is meant to elicit, the solicitor turns out to be a natural. Cross-examination? Nothing to it. More hopeful than realistic.

“I object. I’m pretty sure.” (Image via Moviery)

And it seemed to me a few rulings were on that fine line on which a judge could go either way. In the case of the Australians, the way was always against them.

As a lawyer (and an American she says, shrinking slightly), I probably look at the situation from a different perspective than some, but I can’t help but think these guys never really stood a chance—even if they had been innocent or had acted with sufficient justification. And what is sufficient justification? Well may you ask.

“Gotta look on the bright side. Stiff upper lip, man.” (Image via Media Life Crisis)

The movie is based on a play—one that likely focused on the court martial—but it’s broadened location-wise beyond the proceedings through the use of flashbacks. And while the wheels of military justice might need a lug nut or two tightened, the reality is not a happy one, either.

But what I love about this movie are the actors. Edward Woodward is just amazing in the role of Harry Morant, the leader of his squad or platoon or gang (or whatever it’s called). Bryan Brown is suitably good-looking and blasé with a touch of “in your face” as the lieutenant who may or may not have done the alleged deed. And Lewis Fitz-Gerald as Lt. George Witten—well, if anyone got railroaded, I thought it was he.

“Hey, guys. It’s been real.” (Image via Media Life Crisis)

Jack Thompson, who plays the solicitor/makeshift litigator, also gives a stellar performance. More stellar than one could reasonably expect from a lawyer’s first time appearance in court, but that only makes it better.

It’s a nice fantasy, until the cold reality of the situation hits you.

I have to give props to all the writers involved in creating the story. And as for the cinematography … that closing scene is simply brilliant.

Image via Kanopy.

If you’ve never seen the movie, you should. But it is a sad movie. And provocative.

Here’s the trailer.

Directed by Bruce Beresford
Produced by Matthew Carroll
Screenplay by Johnathan Hardy, David Stevens, and Bruce Beresford (based on Breaker Morant by Kenneth Ross and The Breaker by Kit Denton)

PS: Did I mention the editing? Or the soundtrack? Really impressive!

And did I gloss over the politics? Well, yeah … 🙂

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Part Four of ‘A Close Call for Boston Blackie’ (1946)

And now for the final part of this fascinating tale of crime and punishment. Crime committed by the filmmakers and punishment for the rest of us.

It’s Part Four of A Close Call for Boston Blackie!

Enjoy! 🙂

PS: Be a chum! Support the blog! 🙂

Posted in 1940s Films, Crime Movies, Public Domain Movies, Saturday Matinee, Web Series | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments