Tuesday, December 27, 2011

End of the World Review - 1977

End of the World - 1977
Directed by John Hayes - MPAA Rating: Parental Guidance
a film review by DAW

[Rating: 3/5]

Professor Andrew Boran (Kirk Scott), a research scientist, begins receiving strange messages from outer space.  Using a computer, he is able to deceiver one of the messages which reads “LARGE EARTH DISRUPTION”.  Baffled by it’s meaning, he leaves it alone and heads to a party with his wife, Sylvia.  While driving, they hear about a deadly earthquake which occurred after Andrew had received the cryptic message.  After more messages and natural disasters occur, Andrew starts to believe there is a connection.  Andrew and his wife leave their home and drive to various locations to further investigate these signals.  After arriving at a church, they meet Father Pergado (Christopher Lee)  and his nuns.  Before they know it, Andrew and his wife discover that things are not as they seem.  Andrew and Sylvia must survive against a force they barely understand.  As things become more strange and more dangerous, Andrew and Sylvia must fight to stop the end of the world!

End of the World is a film that is often panned by critics.  This reviewer has always enjoyed this film and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Christopher Lee and somewhat campy 70s/80s style science fiction.  It does not meet the level of camp as found in sci-fi flicks from the 50s and 60s.  It is a bit more serious but contains a similar amount of ridiculousness.

Christopher Lee has a very standard performance.  Since he is dressed in a priest’s clothing, it feels like he is, at times, playing Dracula once again! His haunting voice and intense delivery make his character fun to watch and, although it reminded this reviewer of Dracula, it is refreshing to see Lee in a more fun evil sci-fi villain style role.  This flick is definitely recommended to check out.  Even if parts of it drag, the last scene of the film will make the viewer laugh out loud due it its absolute absurdity.

                     written by DAW for openfilmden.com and openflimden.blogspot.com

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Sadist Review - 1963

The Sadist - 1963
Directed by James Landin - MPAA Rating: Unrated
a film review by DAW
[Rating: 4/5]

“The Sadist” is a horror film staring Arch Hall Jr. as the psychopathic spree killer, Charles A. Tibbs.  Released in 1963, “The Sadist” tells the story of a group of high school teachers who are held captive by a psychopathic killer and his girlfriend.  The teachers set out on a road trip to see a baseball game in a different state but have car trouble along the way and need to stop on the side of the road.  After diagnosing the broken part and finding a near by junk yard, the trio begin to feel that something is not right.  Soon they are confronted by Charles Tibbs, his girlfriend, and his hand gun.  Brash, unpredictable, and overtly violent, Tibbs makes these three people learn that he now controls their lives, and will be the ultimate judge and jury determining whether they live or die.

 “The Sadist” is a fascinating and horrifying experience in thesame vein as films like “Young and Dangerous”, “Compulsion”, and “Natural Born Killers”.  In this reviewer’s opinion, the reason this film is a contender to the above mentioned is because of the 1960s film look, and the lack of modern day special effects and musical score.  Normally this would make a film appear cheap or outdated but the lack of the bells and whistles creates a realistic and disturbing environment.  Whenviewing the film, one can really feel the fear and anxiety of being stuck in a situation similar to the characters on the screen.  It is intriguing to watch and the events stay with you well after the film has ended. 

An interesting fact about this film is that it was inspired by a mass
murderer named Charles Starkweather.  Starkweather was a man who went on a killing spree road trip with his girlfriend which resulted in the deaths of eleven people and his eventual capture and execution by electric chair.  The connections between the movie and the true events make the film even more eerie, as one can feel as if they are getting a glimpse into a scenario from the actual crime spree (even though this specific story is not from the true events).  The film even attempted to make the main antagonist appear similar to the actual killer (see picture).  This film is highly recommended!  Check this out today at the Open Film Den!

                     written by DAW for openfilmden.com and openflimden.blogspot.com

Monday, April 4, 2011

Code Name Zebra (Zebra Force) Review - 1976

Code Name Zebra - 1976
Directed by Joe Tornatore - MPAA Rating: Unrated
a film review by DAW
Rating: 3.5/5

Code Name Zebra” (or “Zebra Force” as it is known outside of the United States) is a very questionable action flick from the mid 1970’s.  In general, the story is not too shabby, and the film does have a pretty nice twist as the story progresses.  The real problem of this film is the cheesy nature of the action and the phoned in performance of many of the actors.  I would not categorize it as "bad" acting, but you will definitely notice a few choice scenes.  After saying that, do not let the comment fool you.  The film is definitely worth viewing, however it is no Expendables (not even the 1988 “Expendables” film).

As the film begins, we are introduced to a Los Angeles underground gambling operation owned by the mob.  Quickly we find out that things are not as fun and glamorous as they appear when a bomb explodes, ending the party.  After the explosion, a group of armed men run in and steal the gangsters’ money.  We are then treated to one of the best parts of the movie, the rockin’ opening credits!  This really sets the mood of the film, with edgy graphics and a catchy action theme song.  After the credits, we are introduced to the men who crashed the party with a flashback to Vietnam.  After an ambush, the Lieutenant is badly injured and, while in the hospital, creates a plan to use his old platoon as an anti crime unit after the war comes to an end.  The Lieutenant (now voiceless and disfigured from the attack in Vietnam) describes his plan to his men.  They decide to use blackface as a disguise and rob one of the biggest mob bosses in the country.  After starting the plan and creatively fooling the mobsters, the Lieutenant and his men soon discover that things are not so easy, especially when people are not who they claim to be!

What can be said about Code Name Zebra?  It is a standard actionsploitation film that seems very common for the mid 1970s.  It has a nod to Vietnam, some racist elements, and it falls in to one of the “violence solves everything” kinds of stories.  The positive aspects of the film are definitely the plot and the action scenes.  There are plenty of explosions and gun battles to keep any action fan satisfied.  Unfortunately, the racist aspects of the plot tarnish some of this reviewer’s ability to enjoy the film.  Specifically, wearing blackface to trick a crime boss to believe the team’s heist is connected to an African American crime group. 

All in all, I would recommend this movie to anybody who is a fan of action films.  The story will keep your attention and the action scenes will fulfill your desire to see things explode!  This film is now in the public domain and available, in full, on this website!  Click the link below to watch the full movie!

written by DAW for openfilmden.com and openflimden.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

White Zombie Review - 1932

White Zombie - 1932
Directed by Victor Halperin - MPAA Rating: Unrated
"White Zombie" is a 1939, independent, black and white film starring Bela Lagosi (of "Dracula" fame) as an evil voodoo zombie master named Murder Legendre!  Madeleine Short (Madge Bellamy) and Neil Parker (John Harron), an engaged couple, are in Haiti to visit a friend’s plantation with the hope of being married there.  The plantation is owned by Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer) who has more on his mind than helping out with the wedding!  Beaumont is secretly in love with Madeleine and becomes increasingly desperate since the event is fast approaching.  Beaumont seeks out Murder with the idea to change Madeline into a zombie so he can control her mind and make her love him.  Things do not progress as nicely as Beaumont had hoped however, and he soon regrets the decision.  Unfortunately for him, Murder is now in control of much more than Beaumont had hoped for, and Neil is not about to let his fiancĂ©e go that easily!

This film has always been met with mixed reviews.  Even though it is regarded as a classic, and the first full length Zombie film, it seems to have a “love it” or “hate it” response from its viewers.  There are several aspects of this film that are desirable.  For this reviewer, the sets, music, and general atmosphere create an almost dream like state that makes you excited for the next scene to come.  The wonderful set pieces as well as the painted backgrounds create an odd and enticing feeling.  One of the most breath taking scenes is inside of Murder’s castle.  It is amazing to look at the amount of effort put into creating illusions of depth and distance, especially since we are now in an age where computer generated graphics have lowered our standards with what we think is acceptable in films.  On the negative side, the film’s acting is par to the era it was filmed in, which to many viewers, seems substandard in comparison to modern acting talents.  It is not the worst acting this reviewer has witnessed, not
 even close, however it does have a very dated feel to it.

Overall this is a film that is highly recommended.  Bela Lagosi is 
classic in his role as Murder and gives a compelling and creepy performance similar to that of his more famous film at the time, "Dracula".  The story is romantic, suspenseful, and intriguing.  Make sure to check out this film today!  Another public domain classic featured here on openfilmden.com!

written by DAW for openfilmden.com and openflimden.blogspot.com

Monday, March 7, 2011

Deep Red Review - 1975

Deep Red - 1975
Directed by Dario Argento - MPAA Rating: Restricted

Directed by the renowned Dario Argento, 1975’s Deep Red is an enthralling murder mystery/horror film, referred to as a “giallo” in Argento’s native Italy.  Protagonist Marcus Daly, a music teacher, witnesses the murder of a psychic in her apartment and is compelled to find the killer.  The film follows him in his search as the body count rises.  As with much of Argento’s work, creative and at times beautiful imagery can be observed throughout the film.  This often intentionally clashes with the brutal, often drawn out violence and dark nature of the film.  These elements along with an often eerie musical score preformed by Italian progressive rock legend “Goblin “(their first in a series of collaborations with Argento), make for an engaging visual and auditory experience.  Though not for the faint at heart, this critically acclaimed film comes with a strong recommendation, as films of this quality don’t come along very often.

written by RJA for openfilmden.com and openflimden.blogspot.com

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Thank You!

A big thank you to everyone who supported theme month at openfilmden.com!  The opening of the site went really well!  In the future, there will be more reviews, more recommendations, and MORE FILMS!

Keep checking http://www.openfilmden.com!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Western Film #7: Tombstone Canyon Review - 1932

Film #7:  Tombstone Canyon Review - 1932
 Rated: Unrated   
Filmed in 1932, Tombstone Canyon is a unique and intriguing horror western film starring Ken Maynard as the cowboy “Ken”.  Ken and his horse, Tarzan, make the frightening discovery that a masked killer is traveling through the west and murdering with his piercing, banshee shriek!  Ken soon finds himself in hot water when a notorious gang tries to rough him up.  Out of nowhere, a beautiful woman comes to his rescue and joins him on his journey.  Soon they find themselves connected to the phantom killer in such a way that you will need to see it to believe it!  A golden gem from the 1930s, this western is a unique look at the horror subgenre.  Although tame by today’s standards, this film delivers some chilling moments and intriguing plot twists!

created by DAW for openfilmden.com and openflimden.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Western Film #6: Death Rides A Horse Review - 1967

Film #6:  Death Rides A Horse Review - 1967
 Rated: Unrated   

Death Rides a Horse, also known as Da uomo a uomo or As Man to Man, is a spaghetti western (Italian produced western) made in 1967.  The film is about a boy named Bill Meceita who survives the brutal robbery and murder of his family and sets out on a quest for revenge years later.  Bill meets up with an ex-convict named Ryan, played by Lee Van Cleef, who was double crossed by the same gang that murdered Meceita’s family.  The two cross paths often as they are on a similar quest, cooperating occasionally, but more often at odds.  The film holds up well against many American westerns and outshines a lot of other spaghetti westerns.  The film contains solid, often amusing, dialogue and action.  I actually found the music in this film to be fairly enjoyable as well, adding to the mood of many scenes.  Overall I found the film a worthwhile experience, one I could definitely recommend to a fan of westerns, or even action films in general.

created by RJA for openfilmden.com and openflimden.blogspot.com

Western Film #5: The Great Train Robbery (2 versions) - 1903

Film #5:  The Great Train Robbery (2 versions) - 1903
 Rated: Unrated   

The Great Train Robbery was released in 1903 and is one of the first westerns ever produced, even though it was shot in Miltown, New Jersey.  The film, as the name gives away, details the efforts of several bandits in robbing a train, and their escape.  The film has been widely thought of as a milestone in film making, as it incorporates many innovative film making techniques.   The film was very influential and many modern films pay tribute to it.  It is a fast paced, silent film that relies heavily on action to tell the story.  Clocking in at less than twelve minutes, the film makes for a short and engaging watch, that is sure to entertain both fans of western films or the casual viewer.

created by RJA for openfilmden.com and openflimden.blogspot.com

Western Film #4: The Sundowners Review - 1950

Film #4:  The Sundowners Review - 1950
 Rated: Unrated   

The Sundowners, starring Robert Preston, Robert Sterling, and John Drew Barrymore, is a western film released in 1950 portraying three brothers in a feud with neighboring ranchers.  The film details the conflict with the ranchers as well as the conflict between the Cloud brothers on how to handle the situation.  The film explores one brother’s fight for what he believes in and the unscrupulous means in which he uses to get his way.  Unfortunately, his actions end up influencing the youngest brother.   The third brother sees how the youngest is turning out and intervenes by trying to stop the other brother.  The film tends to be less reliant on action than other traditional westerns, but makes up for it in many ways including well written dialog and superb delivery.  The film was shot on location in Texas, and the scenery certainly adds to the likeability of the film.  Don’t pass this one up!

created by RJA for openfilmden.com and openflimden.blogspot.com

Western Film #3: The Outlaw Review - 1943

Film #3:  The Outlaw Review - 1943
 Rated: Unrated   

Controversial in its time, The Outlaw was released in 1943 and focuses largely on a love triangle between Billy the kid, Doc Holliday, and a woman named Rio.  Doc Holliday arrives in the town of Lincoln while trailing his stolen horse, Red, and meets up with his old friend Pat Garret.  Red was stolen however by none other than Billy the Kid.  Doc ends up befriending Billy who is the nemesis of Pat and the conflict truly starts here.  While wounded in a fight with Pat, Billy is looked after by Rio, Doc’s girl, who falls for Billy.  The film took a long time to receive a wide release due to controversy surrounding the showcasing of actress Jane Russell’s breasts in both the film and promotional artwork.  The film would turn Russell into a national sex symbol, but only after some of the film was trimmed in order to pass regulation by the Hollywood Production Code Administration.  The film itself became a hit, in part because of the controversy, as well as the action and character drama.  Seize the opportunity to view this star making classic today!

created by RJA for openfilmden.com and openflimden.blogspot.com

Monday, February 21, 2011

Western Film #2: The Arizona Kid Review - 1939

Film #2:  The Arizona Kid Review - 1939
 Rated: Unrated   

Released in 1939, The Arizona Kid is a B western film starring Roy Rogers.  The film, one of many westerns starring Rogers, is largely about Rogers’ relationship with his childhood friend Dave.  Dave is a reckless and rebellious soul who joins up with a pack of raiders despite Roy's attempts to stop him.  The film details their conflict after Roy joins the confederate army and is ordered to stop the raiders.   The film displays some solid acting from Rogers that is sure to evoke some emotion from the viewer.  The film seems more serious and somewhat darker than many other of Rogers’ films, and there is less singing than what is standard for one of his films.  If you are looking for an action packed, adventurous ride, this film is for you.

created by RJA for openfilmden.com and openflimden.blogspot.com

Western Film #1: My Pal Trigger Review - 1946

Film #1:  My Pal Trigger Review - 1946
Rated: Unrated   

My Pal Trigger is a 1946 musical set in the American Wild West and stars Roy Rogers with his famous horse, Trigger.  This film gives the back story of Trigger and is the first Roy Rogers film to feature the horse.  The film begins with Rogers, a local horse salesman, loking for a mate for his mare.  After finding a suitable stallion and the two horses successfully mating, the stallion is accidentally killed by his owner and Rogers is blamed for the crime!  After fleeing from persecution, Rogers' horse gives birth to a baby colt who is named "Trigger".  Trigger quickly becomes Rogers' favorite horse.  However, the companionship between the two is soon cut short!  Rogers is forced to pay for a crime he didn't commit and the guilty man has gotten his hands on trigger!

A classic Roy Rogers musical with all the western film aspects you have come to expect.  Trigger is excellent in the film and really demonstrates why he was known as the "Smartest Horse in the Movies".  Check out this classic western today and every day this week!

created by DAW for openfilmden.com and openflimden.blogspot.com

Week 4 of THEME MONTH is WESTERN THEME FILMS - Daily Reviews and Film Postings!!!

The genre of film known as the Western originated in the early 1900s and is still being produced to this very day.  Despite its American origins, this widely beloved genre would go on to capture the interest of the entire world.  

Western films originated in the silent film era and were very popular in this time period.  The films usually take place in the American Wild West during the period of time after the civil war and before the 1900s.  Often these stories depicted the struggle between settlers and the emerging technologies of the time period.  They tended to show society that was based on codes of honor and fairness.  Justice was represented by an eye for an eye type mentality rather than complex written laws.  Westerns often focused on a lone protagonist who wandered into town and would end up involved with and needing to rescue a woman.  After the end of the silent film era, studios began cranking out Western movies very quickly on low budgets, often reusing sets and shooting entire films in 5 days.  These types of films would come to be known as “B Westerns”. 

As the popularity of the Western genre spread, other
countries began making their own Western films.  They would often cast American actors as lead characters and actors from their own countries in other roles.  These became popular in Italy in particular, and were referred to as Spaghetti Westerns. Over time, Western films would start to depict life during the time period in a less positive way, showing the inequality and brutality that occurred.  Many subgenres would emerge, ranging from Horror Westerns to Comedy Westerns. As Westerns are a vital part of American culture, you should spare some time and view some of these historic films!

written by RJA for openfilmden.com 
and openflimden.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Japanese Monster Film #7: Evil Brain from Outer Space Review - 1964

Film #7:  Evil Brain from Outer Space Review - 1964
Rated: Unrated   
Evil Brain from Outer Space was released in 1964 and is actually a combination of three shorter films from the Japanese series Super Giant. Originally released in Japan, these short films were edited and made into one feature film for the US market.  The film is not really a Japanese giant monster film but more of a super hero film that would be an influence on future Japanese super hero films and TV shows such as Ultraman.  The film opens with a council meeting on the emerald planet in which they decide they must send their hero, Starman, to stop a plot by the brain of Balazar, an evil creature from the planet Zemar.  Balazar's work is being done by his followers on Earth.  Despite the somewhat jumbled plot, the film is actually incredibly amusing due to a fair amount of action as well as ridiculous and often laughable costumes.  Definitely a lot of fun, giving this film a viewing will not disappoint.
created by RJA for openfilmden.com and openflimden.blogspot.com

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