Film Review: Nobody Lives Forever (1946)

Release Date: November 1st, 1946
Directed by: Jean Negulesco
Written by: W.R. Burnett
Based on: Nobody Lives Forver by W.R. Burnett
Music by: Adolph Deutsch
Cast: John Garfield, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Walter Brennan, Faye Emerson

Warner Bros., 100 Minutes

Review:

“I don’t wanna get rough with you unless I have to!” – Nick Blake

This film starts out as a very gritty film-noir crime tale. But it actually evolves into something with a real sweetness to it once the two leads, John Garfield and Geraldine Fitzgerald, come into contact with one another and romance blooms. Granted, this is not a romance film, in the traditional sense.

It also has a solid femme fatale, played by the incredibly alluring Faye Emerson.

This picture is well acted from top to bottom and as much as I love Garfield, Fitzgerald and Emerson, there is a real scene stealer in George Coulouris. Man, this guy just takes over each scene where he appears.

The story follows a con man and former World War II soldier that wants to go straight. However, as noirs go, he has to pull off one more job before he can attempt to live a normal life. And also as noirs go, there are twists and turns and this last job isn’t going to be an easy one. Especially when a woman gets caught up in the middle of it all and melts his heart. It also doesn’t help that his ex-girlfriend shows up to throw a wrench in the machine.

The film is written by W.R. Burnett, a man who wrote solid films like Little Caesar, Scarface, High Sierra, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Asphalt Jungle, The Racket and Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. Burnett always seemed to write things that I thoroughly enjoyed and this picture was no different. It’s well paced, has layers, surprises and doesn’t get bogged down by being too typical for a noir.

The cinematography is superb but it’s really the set design that gives this film its visual life. Everything either looks opulent and pristine or it looks lush and robust. Even the dim and gritty looking finale of the film has a set with character.

Not to spoil anything but its nice that this film doesn’t end in complete tragedy and that the protagonists go on to live the life that they want. Sometimes that’s nice in a noir, as it certainly isn’t the standard. Here, it just works and by film’s end, I was glad that these two endearing characters weren’t fodder for the bullets of the law. Maybe that’s because despite some of his shady actions, Garfield’s character still had a good moral center and never got wrapped up in the femme fatale’s tentacles and instead, chose the good woman.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: High Sierra, Humoresque, Three Strangers and He Ran All the Way.

Film Review: The She-Creature (1956)

Release Date: August, 1956
Directed by: Edward L. Cahn
Written by: Lou Rusoff
Music by: Ronald Stein
Cast: Chester Morris, Marla English, Tom Conway, Cathy Downs, Spike

Golden State Productions, Selma Enterprises, American International Pictures, 77 Minutes

Review:

“I hate this place. I hate the sound of the ocean. I hate you.” – Andrea Talbott

This film suffers greatly in that it doesn’t feature enough of the She-Creature.

While I like the creature design for the time, which kind of looks like the Gillman mixed with a bug and the demon from Night of the Demon, it’s truly underutilized. But that’s also not too uncommon with creature features from the era. Especially those made for barely a dime and distributed by American International Pictures.

This, like many films of its type, was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It is rife with riffing material and it makes for a good episode. However, as a motion picture trying to stand on its own, this really is a boring dud.

The acting, directing and just about everything else is at the level one would expect from this sort of picture. There is nothing unique to help it stand out and without it being the focus of an MST3K episode, it probably would have been lost to time.

This certainly isn’t a must watch movie, even for fans of the genre and era. It’s not a complete waste of time though, either. But if you do give it a chance, you should probably just watch the MST3K episode.

Rating: 2.5/10
Pairs well with: Voodoo WomanIt! The Terror From Beyond Space and The Horror of Party Beach.

Comic Review: Afterlife With Archie, Vol. 1: Escape From Riverdale

Published: June 4th, 2014
Written by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art by: Francesco Francavilla, Jack Morelli

Archie Comics, 160 Pages

Review:

Man, I wasn’t expecting this to be as fun as it was but it won me over almost from the get-go.

Zombie stories have been done to death for so long now that it’s hard to make ones that stand out. Bringing this element to the Archie Comics universe was pretty cool though and the company deserves the success that this book brought them.

This is pretty adult and even has a good level of gore and real horror to it. This isn’t an Archie comic for young kids and grandma might lose her mind if she reads this but teenage Archie fans should love it.

I loved the art style used here, especially the color palate. This was a perfect blend of chiaroscuro and vibrant colors similar to a classic giallo film.

Frankly, this was a comic book that I didn’t know I wanted until I gave it a read.

For horror fans and Archie fans, I’d say that you should probably check this out.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other recent Archie Comics releases with a horror theme: Jughead: The Hunger and Vampironica.

Comic Review: The Complete Maus

Published: November 19th, 1996 (the complete version)
Written by: Art Spiegelman
Art by: Art Spiegelman

Pantheon, 295 Pages

Review:

Growing up a fan of primarily superhero and action comics, I missed out on a lot of the independent stuff that has more of a cartoonist’s style to it than what was the norm from publishers like Marvel and DC.

I’ve known about Maus for a really long time, though. It might not have been my cup of tea when it came out in a big, collected edition in the mid-’90s but I really wanted to give it a read, as I’ve only heard great things about it and its imagery has been in my subconscious for decades.

To start, I love Art Spiegelman’s style. I especially loved it in the ’80s when he co-created the Garbage Pail Kids, an awesome trading card set that made my mum go bonkers. But as great as that franchise was, it can’t compare to this, which is a much more serious and human body of work.

Maus is a masterpiece. I went into reading this with skepticism because I’ve heard that for decades and usually things that are over hyped tend to underwhelm. This was actually better than what I imagined it would be. And I guess that’s because this is a very dark, very real and very human story, even if it stars mice in the place of people.

The plot is about a Jewish family and it shows a big chunk of their family history, as the story starts at the beginning of the Nazi rise in Germany. It then goes through their imprisonment, the Holocaust and life after all that tragedy. By using anthropomorphic mice in the place of humans, it makes the heinousness of the Nazis crimes a bit more digestible. The terror is still very much real, however. This makes it a bit more accessible though, especially in regards to younger kids that might want to learn about who the Nazis were.

For being nearly 300 pages, this is a very quick read. But it’s also a pretty emotional one. This saga covers a lot of ground and there are a lot of details to absorb. But every single panel has a real purpose and frankly, this is a meticulously crafted story that doesn’t rely on filler to beef itself up.

I loved this and it is one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read. It’s perfect in its execution, it touches you and it sticks with you.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: other classic graphic novels and comics: American SplendorPersepolisWatchmen, the work of Robert Crumb, etc.

Film Review: Parts: the Clonus Horror (1979)

Also known as: The Clonus Horror (original title), Artificial Humans: Clone Farm (Asia English video title), Clonus Horror (Spain), Alter Ego (UK video title), Clonus (alternate title)
Release Date: August, 1979
Directed by: Robert S. Fiveson
Written by: Bob Sullivan, Ron Smith, Myrl A. Schreibman, Robert S. Fiveson
Music by: Hod David Schudson
Cast: Tim Donnelly, Paulette Breen, Dick Sargent, Peter Graves, Keenan Wynn, Frank Ashmore

Clonus Associates, Group 1 International Distribution Organization Ltd., 90 Minutes

Review:

“I think it’s time I start paying back this country for some of the good things it’s given me.” – Jeff Knight

This is one of the few Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes that I had never seen. I missed it way back in the day and it’s just eluded me ever since. But I’ve seen it now! Not that that’s something to be excited about because this motion picture is pretty dreadful.

I guess I could say that the story had some ambition to it but the people that had to give life to this interesting premise, failed in every way imaginable.

This is categorized as a horror film and even has “horror” in its title. It’s not very horrific though, so buffs of the genre aren’t going to get much out of this.

The story is about cloning gone amok. Everything takes place at a desert compound where people are cloned just to be harvested for their parts. The clones are basically enslaved and forced to work within the colony until they need to be cut up for rich people. The clones are also isolated from the rest of the world. As I’m typing the plot details, I get kind of excited. This sounds really compelling but again, all the creative ambition is lost in the movie’s poor execution.

As is common with films like this one, the acting is way below average and the script is a mess. Everything is just lackluster.

Parts: The Clonus Horror is mostly a waste of time. Unless you’re going to watch the MST3K version of it.

Rating: 2.25/10
Pairs well with: other late ’70s/early ’80s sci-fi fare that was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Comic Review: Creature Tech

Published: August 10th, 2010 (original – black and white), January 15th, 2019 (New Edition – colored)
Written by: Doug TenNapel
Art by: Doug TenNapel, Katherine Garner (New Edition, colors)

Image Comics, 224 Pages

Review:

Recently, I invested in Doug TenNapel’s upcoming graphic novel Bigfoot Bill. I was aware of Doug for a little while, as he is the creator of Earthworm Jim and several other video games and graphic novels. Getting ready for Bigfoot Bill, I wanted to read some of his other work. Creature Tech is the first of a few that I have read from a couple of his graphic novels I picked up.

All I can say really, is that I loved this story. It was cool, imaginative and pretty damn funny. Doug’s got a good sense of humor, which anyone would know from watching his YouTube channel but it really comes through in his writing.

The story is really a sci-fi romantic comedy at its core but TenNapel also taps into things that are important to him: religion, science, the search for truth. While a lot of people don’t like politics or religion in comics, Doug doesn’t do it in a heavy handed way and he doesn’t hold one higher than the other. Speaking as an atheist, I didn’t find this in any way preachy or propaganda-ish.

Ultimately, this is a really fun book that works for all ages. It has charm, character and I absolutely love the art style. I looked through a copy of the original black and white version but I ended up getting the New Edition, which is now colored. It’s a better version of the book, in my opinion. I love the colors and they add a new dimension to the story and liven it up quite a bit. Katherine Garner, Doug’s trusted colorist, did a fine job on this.

While I’ve read Doug’s stuff before, it has been awhile. This really made me happy in the end, I’m glad I picked it up and I’m really happy that I have Doug TenNapel’s Bigfoot Bill to look forward to in the near future.

In 2019, few comics make me smile while I read them. Creature Tech brought me to laughter multiple times.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: other comics by Doug TenNapel, as well as Rob Schrab’s Scud: The Disposable Assassin and Rob Guillory’s Farmhand.

Film Review: His Kind of Woman (1951)

Also known as: Smiler with a Gun (working title)
Release Date: August 15th, 1951 (Philadelphia premiere)
Directed by: John Farrow, Richard Fleischer
Written by: Frank Fenton, Jack Leonard, Gerald Drayson Adams
Music by: Leigh Harline
Cast: Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Vincent Price, Tim Holt, Charles McGraw, Marjorie Reynolds, Raymond Burr, Jim Backus, Philip Van Zandt

A John Farrow Production, RKO Radio Pictures, 120 Minutes

Review:

“This place is dangerous. The time right deadly. The drinks are on me, my bucko!” – Mark Cardigan

This has been in my queue for awhile, as I’ve spent a significant amount of time watching and reviewing just about every film-noir picture under the sun. It didn’t have a great rating on most of the websites I checked but it looked to be better than average.

Now that I’ve seen it, I don’t know what the hell most people were thinking. This film is absolutely great! I loved it but I also have a strong bias towards Robert Mitchum, Vincent Price, Raymond Burr and Charles McGraw. I also love Jane Russell, even if she didn’t star in films within the genres I watch the most.

His Kind of Woman is a stupendous motion picture and it really took me by surprise.

This is just a whole lot of fun, the cast is incredible and bias aside, I thought that Vincent Price really stole every single scene that he was in. I’ve seen Price in nearly everything he’s ever done and this might be the one role, outside of horror, that I enjoy most. He starts out as a bit of a Hollywood dandy, shows how eccentric he is as the film rolls on and then shows us that in spite of all that, he’s a friggin’ badass, ready to go out in a blaze of glory just to save the day.

I also love that this is set at a resort in Mexico, as it has a good tropical and nautical feel, which should make Tikiphiles happy. But really, the picture has great style in every regard.

I love the sets, I love the cinematography, the superb lighting and how things were shot. There are some key scenes shot at interesting and obscure angles that give the film a different sort of life than just capturing these fantastic performances in a more straightforward manner. One scene in particular shows Mitchum talking to a heavy and it’s shot from a low angle with shadows projected onto a very low ceiling. It sort of makes you understand that something potentially dreadful is closing in on Mitchum.

Out of all the film-noir pictures I’ve watched over the last year or so, this is definitely one that I will revisit on a semi regular basis.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: other film-noir pictures starring Robert Mitchum, Vincent Price, Raymond Burr or Charles McGraw.