Film Review: These Are The Damned (1962)

Also known as: On the Brink (working title), The Damned (alternative title)
Release Date: November 16th, 1962 (Australia)
Directed by: Joseph Losey
Written by: Ben Barzman, Even Jones
Based on: The Children of Light by H.L. Lawrence
Music by: James Bernard
Cast: Macdonald Carey, Shirley Anne Field, Oliver Reed, Alexander Knox, Viveca Lindfors

Hammer Films, 87 Minutes, 96 Minutes (Director’s Cut)

Review:

“I like to listen to people who know what they’re talking about. My trouble is I never believe anything they say.” – Simon Wells

This is a Hammer movie that I have never seen. Also, I didn’t know anything about it and went into it blindly. That was the best way, as it went in wild directions, surprised me and kept me pretty glued to it until the final frame.

That being said, this was great and if you want to check it out, don’t let my review spoil it for you. Just go watch it because it shouldn’t disappoint and it’s better to know nothing about it. Even the trailer is too much of a spoiler.

If you’re still here, some spoilage will happen as I continue to write.

Anyway, this started out as youth biker movie and I kind of thought it might just be Hammer’s attempt at capitalizing off of that growing trend. However, it evolves into a chilling science fiction horror flick of a pretty high caliber. It also takes awhile to get to the sci-fi twist, which made it even more effective once you get pulled out of the real world and into something much more fantastical.

This was a chilling and pretty emotional picture, much more so than your standard Hammer fare. You really felt for the kids in the movie and their terrible situation. But this also drew you in like the early episodes of Twin Peaks, where you knew there was some great, strange mystery and you had to see how it could possibly be explained.

There is a secret military base, a wild conspiracy and it’s the human adults that are the real monsters.

Frankly, this is a departure from what Hammer is most known for and it’s damn refreshing to see, even all these years later, as the studio tried to move outside of its stylistic box and ended up succeeding, creatively speaking.

Additionally, this is really well acted and it’s no secret that I love Oliver Reed but this has to go down as one of his best performances and I’m really glad that I sort of just stumbled upon this.

These Are the Damned isn’t widely known, even by Hammer aficionados like myself. It should be, though. It’s one of Hammer’s best pictures and one of the best horror/sci-fi pictures of its time.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: other lesser known Hammer films and other genre bending films of the ’60s.

Book Review: ‘Indiana Jones and the Genesis Deluge’ by Rob MacGregor

This is the fourth book out of the twelve in the original Indiana Jones novel series from the ’90s. This is also my least favorite of the books so far.

Written by Rob MacGregor, who wrote the three before this one, I feel like he was sort of stuck in a creative rut after he told a pretty good, larger story arc that bridged the first three novels.

Before this, Indy had three adventures that were connected, as well as a girl he met in one book and then married and lost her in the next one. He was in a dark emotional place when this story starts but it also felt like he and the creative direction of the series had become a bit directionless. For one book, I can tolerate that, I just hope it picks back up in the next installment.

Additionally, the real international adventure doesn’t even start until the mid-point of the book and then it felt somewhat rushed, even though this is the thickest of the Indiana Jones books, thus far.

The first half of the story dealt with Indy returning to America, Chicago to be exact, meeting up with his friend Jack Shannon, a character throughout the series, and getting caught up in his family’s personal feud with Al Capone. It’s kind of an interesting thing to happen in an Indiana Jones story but it also made this feel like two separate books merged into one where neither story got as much time as it needed to be something solid.

The second half has to do with Indy, Jack and some others going to Turkey to investigate a site that is believed to have the surviving remains of Noah’s Ark. While I did enjoy this for the most part, as well as the Russian villains and their part in the story, it still felt rushed through.

I guess every book in this long-running series can’t be consistently good and stuff like this is typically rushed due to schedules. Still, this was decent enough and it didn’t wreck the Indiana Jones novel series. I just hope the fifth book gets back to the level I came to enjoy with the first three.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other Indiana Jones novels from Bantam Books’ run in the ’90s.

Film Review: Porky’s Revenge! (1985)

Also known as: Porky’s 3: Revenge (working title)
Release Date: March 22nd, 1985
Directed by: James Komack
Written by: Ziggy Steinberg
Based on: characters by Bob Clark
Music by: Dave Edmunds
Cast: Dan Monahan, Wyatt Knight, Tony Ganios, Mark Herrier, Kaki Hunter, Scott Colomby, Nancy Parsons, Chuck Mitchell

Melvin Simon Productions, Astral Bellevue Pathé, SLM Production Group, 20th Century Fox, 92 Minutes

Review:

“Miss Balbricker, with all due respect. That’s your opinion.” – Billy, “They all had boners!” – Beulah Balbricker, “Mr. Carter, I will not stand here and be accused of having a boner!” – Wendy Williams

For most people, this is probably the worst Porky’s movie out of the original trilogy. For me, I like it a bit more than the second one, which just chugged along on the fumes of the first movie while forcing in some drama class plot that wasn’t all that interesting. Although, I did love seeing the KKK get made asses out of in that movie.

This one just seems a bit fresher. Sure, it’s also chugging along on fumes but it just works better for me, as it finds its center again and that center is the series’ greatest villain: Porky himself.

Also, the ensemble cast just seems better in this movie. Their chemistry has evolved naturally, they seem like legit chums in real life and it transcends the film. I don’t know if they all legitimately liked each other in real life but it feels as if they did by this film and not like they’re just playing generic characters and tropes in a run of the mill teen sex comedy.

The movie is also a nice, organic ending to the film series, as it sees the characters graduate high school, leaving behind this part of their lives to venture off into the unknown future where everyone’s paths will most likely diverge.

This is still the same type of film that we got with the previous two but it weirdly feels like a proper sendoff and tribute to these characters who I didn’t feel any sort of emotional attachment to until this movie.

Granted, it also doesn’t leave me wanting more, it’s just interesting and kind of neat that it wrapped up the series in a way that made me see it as something more than just a pointless sex joke that ran on for too long.

Porky’s Revenge isn’t a great film and none of them are, really. However, it’s a fitting end to a series that was just about coming of age raunchiness. And honestly, it’s actually better than I expected it to be.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: the other Porky’s movies, as well as other screwball ’80s teen sex comedies.

Film Review: Porky’s II: The Next Day (1983)

Release Date: June 24th, 1983
Directed by: Bob Clark
Written by: Roger Swaybill, Alan Ormsby, Bob Clark
Music by: Carl Zittrer
Cast: Dan Monahan, Mark Herrier, Wyatt Knight, Roger Wilson, Cyril O’Reilly, Tony Ganios, Kaki Hunter, Scott Colomby, Nancy Parsons, Art Hindle

Astral Bellevue Pathé, Melvin Simon Productions, 20th Century Fox, 98 Minutes

Review:

“My tit! You broke my tit! I’m gonna sue you!” – Wendy

While I’m not a massive fan of the first Porky’sPorky’s II: The Next Day is a big step down from the overall quality of the previous picture.

Still, I do like the characters and this is an amusing and fairly funny screwball teen sex comedy. It’s certainly better than most of the Porky’s imitators but the plot seems pretty weak, making me feel like this was rushed out really damn quickly to capitalize off of the surprising and immense success of its predecessor.

That’s fine, honestly, as in motion pictures, you’ve got to strike while the iron is hot and the Porky’s iron was just that.

I just wasn’t a fan of the drama class subplot, even though it laid the groundwork for pitting these raunchy, horny, high school kids against a racist reverend and the Ku Klux Klan. Yes, you read that right. They’ve moved on from a fat brothel owning asshole to taking on the fucking KKK. Since everyone hates the KKK, we’re definitely going to cheer these kids on.

This is a strange sequel and it tries to recapture the magic of the first but this proves that you can’t catch lightning in a bottle twice. Sure, it may have caught some static electricity from the air but this is tame and redundant when compared to the first flick.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: the other Porky’s movies, as well as other screwball ’80s teen sex comedies.

Book Review: ‘Indiana Jones and the Seven Veils’ by Rob MacGregor

Well, we’ve gotten to a book in the Indiana Jones series that feels epic in scale enough to be a story worthy of a film, instead of feeling more like a television episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Not that the smaller feeling stories before this were bad but it’s nice getting to something that feels more in tune with what I was hoping from these books from the get go. Also, this fills in the time from the young Indy era to the movie era, so slowly building towards bigger adventures actually works kind of well.

This is also a jungle adventure, which we haven’t gotten in the novels yet. It starts off with a great treasure hunt in Guatemala then travels to New York City, giving us the first appearance of Marcus Brody in the novel series, then it goes on an ocean liner from NYC to Rio de Janeiro, other cool parts of Brazil and then deep into the Amazon.

Probably the most interesting thing about the plot is that it actually continues the romantic subplot of the previous novel and even brings back the same girl. In fact, Indy and Deirdre get married in this novel. Sadly, by the end of the adventure, Deirdre dies and Indy is left with the emotion of that, which I’m sure will be a big part of the novel that follows this one.

I’d like to think of these novels as canon as I do the Star Ears Expanded Universe books despite Disney fucking that up. So with that being said, it’s now clear to see why Indy seems to have commitment problems with the women he meets from film-to-film, never truly settling down until the end of the fourth film, which takes place about thirty years after this novel’s setting.

What I like about these Rob MacGregor Indy books is that each one connects in some way to the one before it. He wrote the first six out of these twelve books and I hope the stories continue to have these tiny threads connecting them, even after other authors step into the series in the back half.

This one connects to the Celtic legend of the previous book and ties Celtic lore to the ancient magical lore of South America. In fact, Merlin even reappears in this and you learn more about what Merlin actually is on the bigger stage of the world outside of just the United Kingdom and its nearby lands.

Out of the first three books, all of which I have enjoyed, this one really takes the cake and is my favorite thus far. The characters move around a lot, there isn’t a dull moment, it’s action packed, energetic, fun and it feels like an authentic Indiana Jones adventure.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other Indiana Jones novels from Bantam Books’ run in the ’90s.

Film Review: Top Gun (1986)

Release Date: May 12th, 1986 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Tony Scott
Written by: Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr.
Based on: Top Guns by Ehud Yonay
Music by: Harold Faltermeyer
Cast: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerritt, Michael Ironside, John Stockwell, Barry Tubb, Rick Rossovich, Tim Robbins, Clarence Gilyard, Whip Hubley, James Tolkan, Meg Ryan, Adrian Pasdar

Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Paramount Pictures, 110 Minutes

Review:

“That was some of the best flying I’ve seen yet. Right up to the part where you got killed. You never, never leave your wing man.” – Jester

If you weren’t around when this movie originally came out, it might be hard to understand how much of an impact it had on pop culture. As a kid and a big fan of G.I. Joe and movies like Iron Eagle and Red Dawn, I thought it was cool as hell. The coolness was also maximized through the casting of Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, as well as the Kenny Loggins hit song “Danger Zone”.

Also, to my little mind, Maverick was about the coolest f’n name ever!

Anyway, I used to watch this a lot. It’s been years since I’ve seen it though but I wanted to get a fresh take on it before its long-awaited sequel comes out later this year, assuming it’s not delayed again.

While I actually don’t see this as a great film or have the crazy amount of love for it as many from my generation do, it’s still entertaining as hell and it’s really cool simply for the insane visuals of all the fighter jets just doing their thing. The aerial stunt work is f’n phenomenal! That being said, there just wasn’t anything like this when it came out and many have tried to replicate it with less success. Nowadays, they just opt out and go the CGI route but everything you see in this movie is real.

Apart from that, the story is just decent. It doesn’t really grab you or pull you in and it feels like its all just to set up the aerial parts of the movie. While I do like the characters, they also feel grossly underdeveloped. You spend all this time with them but it’s hard to connect to them. Sure, it’s tragic when Goose dies and you understand Maverick’s heartbreak but it doesn’t have as much impact and meaning had we seen these characters fleshed out more.

I think that the movie actually suffers from having a little too much of its best part: the aerial stunts. If that was trimmed down a bit or the film was a wee bit longer and just spent more time developing the core characters, it could’ve been something much better.

Still, it is a cool and energetic movie that’s well acted and superbly executed. And despite what I feel is a lack of character development, it does hit me in the feels when Iceman finally accepts Maverick at the end.

Also, I f’n love James Tolkan in everything.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Tom Cruise movies of the ’80s.

Film Review: Porky’s (1981)

Release Date: November 13th, 1981 (Columbia, SC)
Directed by: Bob Clark
Written by: Bob Clark
Music by: Paul Zaza, Carl Zittrer
Cast: Dan Monahan, Mark Herrier, Wyatt Knight, Roger Wilson, Cyril O’Reilly, Tony Ganios, Kaki Hunter, Kim Cattrall, Nancy Parsons, Scott Colomby, Boyd Gaines, Doug McGrath, Susan Clark, Art Hindle, Wayne Maunder, Alex Karras, Chuck Mitchell

Astral Bellevue Pathé, Melvin Simon Productions, 94 Minutes

Review:

“Look’s like I’m gonna make a man out of you yet, boy.” – Mr. Cavanaugh, “A man? If being a man means being what you are, I’d rather be queer.” – Tim

Somehow, this low budget Canadian teen sex comedy became the fifth highest grossing movie of 1982. With that surprising success came two mediocre sequels and a slew of other teen sex comedy movies that tried to replicate the Porky’s formula with poor-to-moderate success.

Porky’s is a strange film for me in that I don’t hold it in as high regard as some people but I also feel personally connected to it, as my father lived close to the high school and other iconic spots in the film series. And even though this takes place in the ’50s, I had been to these same places in the ’80s and not much was different.

I like the movie but it’s not something I revisit very often, as there are other teen comedies I prefer much more than this. Sure, this one takes the cake in raunchiness and it just dives right into the subject of teen sex but those things don’t make it a good movie. What works most of all is that you generally like the core characters and over the course of three films, they actually come to mean something to the viewer.

Still, this really is lowest common denominator, gross out, perverted humor. I’m not really saying that’s bad but the jokes and gags are predictable and there’s just an overabundance of it at every turn.

Additionally, this movie could never be made today, as everything… and I mean everything is offensive in the 2020s. Comedy is deader than my dog Chipper, who was hit by a car in 1984. See, most people may be thinking, “WTF, dude! That’s not funny! That’s fucked up!” And I’d just point and go, “See what I mean?!” Truthfully, Chipper wasn’t hit by a car, she was ran over by a lawnmower but I didn’t want my example to be too over the top.

Anyway, Porky’s is still fun if you’re not a sour cunt looking for things to cancel under every rock. It’s most definitely a product of its time and I can get why people that were born after it came out might not enjoy it and may find it off putting but every generation after mine is primarily comprised of pansies and tattle tales. 

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: its sequels, as well as other screwball ’80s teen sex comedies.

Book Review: ‘Indiana Jones and the Dance of the Giants’ by Rob MacGregor

This second book in the ’90s Indiana Jones novel series was better than its predecessor and Rob MacGregor seems to have found his groove a bit more with this one.

Like its predecessor, it feels more like an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, as opposed to feeling like a story as epic as the film series. That’s fine but I hope these start to get more grandiose in scale.

This book also goes to less places than its predecessor, as the entire story is confined to the United Kingdom, only seeing Indy in London, rural Scotland and Stonehenge.

That being said, if you ever wondered what it’d be like for Indy to have a story take place around Stonehenge, well… this is it!

Even more than the first book, I liked the characters in this a lot. Especially, Indy’s returning college buddy, who got to be much more involved this time around. I also liked the love interest and her role in the bigger picture.

What I really liked, though, was the villain. He was a young, ambitious but evil member of British Parliament. He had his eyes set on unlocking the secrets of Stonehenge and Merlin in an effort to rule the world.

This story takes place after Indy has left college as a student and started his first teaching job in London. This aspect of the story was cool, as you get to see him uncomfortable and a bit out of his element, even though it’s well-known that he becomes a successful archeology professor. It’s these parts of the books I like though, as they serve to enrich the character and fill in some of the blanks from his long, adventurous life.

All in all, this was a lighthearted and exciting read.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other Indiana Jones novels from Bantam Books’ run in the ’90s.

Film Review: Gone with the Wind (1939)

Release Date: December 15th, 1939 (Atlanta premiere)
Directed by: Victor Fleming
Written by: Sidney Howard
Based on: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Music by: Max Steiner
Cast: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, George Reeves, Hattie McDaniel, Oscar Polk, Butterfly McQueen

Selznick International Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 238 Minutes, 223 Minutes (1969 re-release), 234 (1985 re-release), 233 Minutes (1989 re-release), 224 Minutes (1994 re-release), 226 Minutes (copyright length)

Review:

“No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.” – Rhett Butler

Gone With the Wind is considered one of the all-time greatest motion pictures ever made. However, everyone should already know that.

It also came under fire last year when it was announced that it would be featured on HBO Max. Why did it come under fire? Well, because people these days are offended by the art people made generations ago. In regards to this film, it had to due with racial stereotypes and how the black characters were used. I wrote about this retro-censorship crap back in July, though. That article can be found here, so I won’t harp on it too much again while reviewing this classic.

When it comes to this film, it is as good as people have made it out to be for over 80 years. In fact, it may be even better.

Sure, it’s a long, slow, very drawn out story but it covers a lot of ground and it certainly has a lot to say.

Women, historically, have loved the film because of its romantic side and how it doesn’t follow the beats of a stereotypical “happily ever after” story, which was definitely rare for its time.

Men seem to love it because of the war related parts of the film. Mainly, this picture focuses on a few key characters but it really showcases what life was like for those on the losing side of the American Civil War. Regardless of what the war was or was about, the message here is eternal, as it really gives the viewer a true understanding of the actual devastation of war, specifically after the fighting is over.

Beyond the great story, the movie has stunning and legendary performances throughout and it may be the best acted film up to its release. Clark Gable is an absolute man’s man and Vivien Leigh was absolutely incredible. The range of these two just in this film is fantastic and impressive.

The film is also superbly directed by Victor Fleming, who pulled these performances out of his cast while also displaying his phenomenal level of cinematic craftsmanship. Some of the shots in this are breathtaking and still hold up marvelously, all these years later. A lot of credit also has to go to the cinematographer, Ernest Haller.

Going back to Fleming, though, it’s hard to believe that he released both The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind in the same year! That has to be the greatest single year of work by any director. Sadly, though, he only made five more films after this and died ten years later.

It’s hard to really put into words how majestic and epic this film is. It really should be seen by all lovers of film. I can get why it might not appeal to many in the 2020s and because it’s so damn long but it’s hard to really experience the best that the art of motion pictures has to offer if you haven’t seen this.

It deserves its status and from a visual and storytelling standpoint, it still has a lot to teach future filmmakers and lovers of the artistic medium.

Rating: 10/10

Film Review: Twice-Told Tales (1963)

Also known as: The Corpse-Makers (working title)
Release Date: October 30th, 1963
Directed by: Sidney Salkow
Written by: Robert E. Kent
Based on: the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Music by: Richard LaSalle
Cast: Vincent Price, Sebastian Cabot, Brett Halsey, Beverly Garland, Richard Denning, Joyce Taylor

Robert E. Kent Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 120 Minutes

Review:

“Your daughter is a fine specimen, too, isn’t she father? A specimen of the most deadly thing that was ever given life.” – Beatrice Rappaccini

While I’m not the biggest fan of anthology movies, this one is pretty good and it was better than I remembered.

I think that the last time I saw this was when it first came out on DVD, which had to have been more than fifteen years ago now.

I did remember the first two stories in this pretty fondly but I couldn’t recall the third and final act of the film. Seeing this now, I can see why, as it is definitely the weakest of the three.

However, the first two stories are both so good, that I can’t let the third one ruin the movie. Although, it probably should’ve gone first, as it sort of kills the movie’s momentum and pacing.

I’ve never actually read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales, even though I own a pretty ancient copy of it. So I’m not sure if the order of the stories are the same in this film as they are in the novel. If so, I get why the film put them in that order.

Between the first two stories, it’s hard to pick a favorite, though, as both are wonderful.

love Vincent Price in this but then again, when don’t I love the man? The first story might take a bit of an edge, however, as I really enjoyed his chemistry with Sebastian Cabot.

All in all, this was neat to revisit and it fits well with the tone of Price’s Edgar Allan Poe movies and another anthology with him in it from the same era, Tales of Terror.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other ’60s and ’70s horror anthology films, specifically Tales of Terror, which also stars Vincent Price.