Film Review: Hell Bound (1957)

Also known as: Cargo X, Dope Ship (working titles)
Release Date: October, 1957
Directed by: William J. Hole Jr.
Written by: Richard H. Landau, Arthur E. Orloff
Music by: Les Baxter
Cast: John Russell, June Blair, Stuart Whitman, Margo Woode, George E. Mather

Bel-Air Productions, Clark Productions, 69 Minutes

Review:

Someone, but I forgot who, told me that Hell Bound was a hidden noir gem at the end of the classic film-noir era. While it’s okay, I thought it was hardly a gem.

From a criminal scheme standpoint, the film is intriguing, as it follows a gang plotting to rob a cargo ship carrying two million dollars worth of narcotics left over from World War II. Although, by 1957, those drugs may have expired or turned extra deadly. Adjusted for inflation, though, that two million is over eighteen million in 2020.

The heist falls apart when one of the gang member’s girlfriend falls in love with an ambulance driver who has been set up to be a pawn in the scheme.

I think the only real high point in the film is the finale. It sees a big confrontation that takes place at the Los Angeles Harbor, where, at the time, it was the resting place of hundreds of scrapped trolleys.

The film is competently shot, fairly well acted but it doesn’t offer up much that is notable outside of the climax and the scope of the heist.

As far as noir pictures go, it’s not bad but it’s far from great. Mostly, it’s forgettable.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other film-noir pictures of the ’40s and ’50s.

Film Review: The Monster Club (1981)

Release Date: April 2nd, 1981 (UK)
Directed by: Roy Ward Baker
Written by: Edward Abraham, Valerie Abraham
Based on: the works of R. Chetwynd-Hayes
Music by: Douglas Gamley, various
Cast: Vincent Price, John Carradine, Donald Pleasence, Patrick Magee, Stuart Whitman, Britt Ekland, Richard Johnson, Barbara Kellerman, Simon Ward

Chips Productions, Sword & Sorcery, 94 Minutes

Review:

“Can we truly call this a monster club if we do not boast amongst our membership a single member of the human race?” – Eramus

This used to be one of my favorite anthology horror movies when I was a kid and while it wasn’t my first Vincent Price movie, it’s one that I had on VHS and would watch more than any person probably should have.

The film is really a mixed bag, as anthology horror movies tend to go, but most of the stuff contained within is good and amusing. Even if the disintegrating woman at the end of the first story scared the living shit out of me every time I saw it with young eyes. Frankly, it’s still effective and the best special effects shot in the entire film.

This is incredibly low budget but it also makes the best out of its limited resources and I actually like how bad the monster costumes are in the nightclub scenes, which are sprinkled throughout the film as the narrative bookends.

A lot of this film felt overly hokey and I’m not sure if they were specifically aiming for that but it worked and gave it a charm that it wouldn’t have had if it was more serious or had a budget that better hid its flaws. I love that the movie sort of wears its cheapness and absurdity on its sleeve.

My favorite parts of the movie are the bookend bits, mainly because I like the music, the performances and the banter between Vincent Price and John Carradine. I especially love the scene where Price goes on a diatribe about how The Monster Club needs to open up to humans, the best monster that ever lived.

As far as the actual short horror stories go, I like the first one the best. It was actually effective, emotionally and I liked the characters and the simple story. The vampire chapter was the worst one and it’s really just meh. The final story with the village of ghouls was decent and I liked Patrick Magee in it but it’s still far from great and watching it, you just want to get back to the Monster Club scenes.

Overall, I can’t say that this aged well but it will most definitely excite the nostalgia bug for those who loved the horror and music of this era.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other ’70s and ’80s horror anthologies.

Film Review: Night of the Lepus (1972)

Also known as: Rabbits (working title, Germany, Austria)
Release Date: September th, 1972 (Ireland)
Directed by: William F. Claxton
Written by: Don Holliday, Gene R. Kearney
Based on: The Year of the Angry Rabbit by Russell Braddon
Music by: Jimmie Haskell
Cast: Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun, DeForest Kelley, Paul Fix, Don Starr

A.C. Lyles Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 88 Minutes

Review:

“Attention! Attention! Ladies and gentlemen, attention! There is a herd of killer rabbits headed this way and we desperately need your help!” – Officer Lopez

This movie, in my opinion, has a lot of unjustified hatred towards it. People have trashed it for years and talked it down like it’s a blight on early ’70s cinema.

Well, those people don’t have taste, a real appreciation for killer animal horror and don’t have the keen eyesight to spot a diamond in the rough.

Okay, this isn’t a great film and maybe it’s not even a good one by the ridiculous standards of hoity-toity film critics. However, it’s damn entertaining for fans of the right kind of well-aged cheese and it boasts some practical special effects that just work… well, for the most part.

This film is about giant rabbits that have overtaken a small town in Arizona. It employs a lot of force perspective shots, as well as miniature models to help give regular sized rabbits some scale. While these techniques may seem outdated by 1972 (they really weren’t yet), they were actually well done and effective. And seeing this in modern HD didn’t really ruin the magic, which is something that happens way too often with movies from this era.

Honestly, the only real effects that didn’t work were probably the same ones that didn’t work in 1972. Those are the scenes where a large killer rabbit has to interact with a human actor in the same shot. These scenes are very obviously just some stuntman in a furry costume batting his fists at the victims. It’s hokey and the attacks look too human but luckily, this isn’t used too much. But I understand why they had to do it, as you had to show some flesh-on-flesh mauling because it’s the early ’70s and no one wanted the violence to be implied offscreen. The ’70s were edgier, the Hollywood Code was old news and horror got to throw some gore on the big screen.

The film isn’t well acted, despite having Janet Leigh in it, as well as Stuart Whitman, Rory Calhoun and DeForest Kelley alongside her. None of the key players are terrible but they do seem like they’re just going through the motions and dialing it in, as low budget, B-movie horror apparently didn’t require their A-game.

Still, I dig this film quite a bit and I do think it’s better than what the filmgoing consensus has led the world to believe for nearly fifty years.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other killer animal horror movies of the ’70s; the cheesier, the better.

 

Film Review: Gypsy (1990)

Release Date: October, 1990
Directed by: Amir Shervan
Written by: Carold Dickey, Amir Shervan
Music by: Alen Der Marderosian
Cast: Harold Diamond, Stuart Whitman, Delia Sheppard, Joselito Rescober

Rex Films, 101 Minutes

Review:

“I’m not a fighter. I’m a lover.” – Rose’s Father

This is the last of the five American films by Amir Shervan that I needed to review. I’m a fan of the guy’s work ever since seeing Samurai Cop and none of his films have really been disappointing, as I’m a big fan of this sort of schlock.

Gypsy is actually the most obscure of the five, even though they’re all pretty hard to track down if you’re not looking for them on Prime. Luckily, I was able to rent this one there and finally give it a watch.

Out of all the Shervan pictures from the States, this is the second worst, coming in ahead of Hollywood Cop. Yet it is still amusing and I really like his regulars Harold Diamond and Joselito Rescober, who actually plays his best character in this movie.

This is action packed, loaded with lots of glorious breasts and it fits well within Shervan’s patented style.

The plot is about a drifter type who brings war to a racist land baron and his minions, who have been exploiting migrant families. It’s got shades of Road House, Raw Deal, Delta Force 2 and Shervan’s other American flicks.

While most will deem this as a terrible movie. I have taste and I deem it as solid schlock with a lighthearted goofiness that makes it an entertaining and endearing experience.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: Amir Shervan’s other wonderful films.

***no trailer available***