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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Japanese Monster Film #6: Destroy All Planets (Gamera vs. Viras) Review - 1968

Film #6:  Destroy All Planets Review - 1968
Rated: Unrated   

Destroy All Planets (Gamera vs. Viras) was released in 1968 and is the fourth film to star Gamera, the giant turtle.  The film starts off with Gamera fighting an alien space ship on its way to earth to begin colonizing the planet.  Gamera defeats the ship but more Aliens are signaled to invade with Gamera labeled as their enemy.  The aliens manage to capture Gamera by using a brain wave controlling device.  Although initially Gamera goes on a destructive rampage, he is eventually freed with the aid of two boy scouts.  At this point, the aliens combine themselves to take the form of a giant, squid-like monster named Viras.  After this transformation, an epic battle ensues!   One of the downsides to this Japanese giant monster film is that roughly 15 minutes of the film is stock footage detailing Gamera's previous battles which is shown as aliens probe the giant turtle’s mind.  Despite this, the film is still enjoyable and the ending fight is tense and gripping!  On that note, the film is still recommended for viewers of who have seen previous Gamera films … and to those who haven't as well!

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Japanese Monster Film #5: Monster from a Prehistoric Planet (Daikyojū Gappa) Review - 1967

Film #5:  Monster from a Prehistoric Planet Review - 1967
Rated: Unrated  
The year 1967 saw the release of Monster from a Prehistoric Planet, a Japanese giant monster film, about an expedition to a small south Pacific island where the team discovers a prehistoric "bird-lizard".  At the start of the film, a magazine publisher sends a group of people to Obelisk Island to collect wild life for a soon to be opened theme park.  The people on the expedition find a gigantic egg.  The egg hatches and releases a large baby creature that looks like a mix between a lizard and a bird.  The baby is brought back to Japan, however much to the dismay of the expedition team, the baby's recently awakened parents soon follow and begin destroying major cities!   The film was originally supposed to be a satire of other Japanese giant monster films, but a lot of the humor was lost in translation when it was brought overseas.  The film is very amusing, especially the monsters that look like Godzilla with a pair of wings and a beak.  These creatures are enough to make anyone chuckle.  If you have enjoyed other films in this genre, you won't want to miss out on this lighthearted affair.

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Japanese Monster Film #4: Attack of the Monsters (Gamera vs. Guiron) Review - 1969

Film #4:  Attack of the Monsters Review - 1969
Rated: Unrated  
WATCH THIS FILM                             

Attack of the Monsters (Gamera vs. Guiron) was released in 1969 and is the fifth film about Gamera, the giant turtle.  Unlike the previous Gamera films, a large part of this film does not take place in Japan or even involve monster battles in Japanese cities.  The film revolves around Gamera’s attempt to rescue two boys who are taken to an alien world.  Gamera’s opponent in this film is Guiron, a semi lizard-like monster with a giant blade on its head.   The monster relies on this blade as its primary way of defeating foes.  You will not see tons of people running and screaming from monsters as they trash Japanese cities in this one, but you will still see the monsters demolish the remnants of the once thriving civilization on the planet Terra.  The film is fun and somewhat silly in nature but as long as you know this going in, you will have a chance to experience another fine Japanese giant monster film.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Japanese Monster Film #3: War of the Monsters (Gamera vs. Barugon) Review - 1966

Film #3:  War of the Monsters (Gamera vs. Barugon) Review - 1966
Rated: Unrated       

The second Gamera film, “War of the Monsters” (Gamera vs. Barugon), pits the giant turtle, who was thought to be defeated, against a monstrous lizard foe called Barugon.  The film was released in 1966 and starts off showing how Gamera manages to survive his defeat from the first film (I won’t give anything away in case you haven’t watched the first one yet).  Gamera then returns to Japan.  At the same time, a group of thieves travel to an island in the south pacific.  The chain of events that transpire from there leads to the unleashing of a giant lizard monster, Barugon.  Barugon possesses several abilities, such as a freezing tongue spray and a rainbow ray he shoots from his back.  He wastes no time in using them to destroy the city of Osaka, Japan.  Gamera is attracted to this action and from here on battles ensue between Barugon, Gamera, and the military.  The film features the “suitmation” that is standard many Japanese giant monster films along with miniature city sets and military vehicles.  The film is full of action between the three opposing forces and is sure to keep you entertained.  Enjoy this quality and classic film today!
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Japanese Monster Film #2: Gammera The Invincible (Gamera) Review - 1965

Film #2:  Gammera The Invincible (Gamera) Review - 1965
Rated: Unrated      
WATCH THIS FILM                                    

"Gammera: The Invincible" (Gamera in Japan) is a Japanese giant monster film from 1965.  This film was produced by the Daiei Motion Picture Company who aimed to cash in on the success of the Godzilla movie franchise.  This would be the first in a series of films about the giant turtle.  A Japanese expedition into the arctic witnesses an aerial fight between Soviet and American fighter planes in which the Americans shoot down the soviets.  The plane that was shot down happened to be carrying a nuclear bomb, which detonates and wakes the giant turtle from its frozen slumber.  Gamera is seen flying around and heads to Japan where it subsequently wreaks havoc!  The film bears a large resemblance to the original Godzilla film in many ways including the monsters indestructibility.  The film is full of buildings being smashed to bits and battles between the turtle and the military.  The battles seem kind of silly but this is what makes the film fun to watch.  If you have got some free time and don't know what to do with yourself, think about spending it watching this classic Japanese monster film!
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Japanese Monster Film #1: Yongary, Monster of the Deep Review - 1967

Film #1:  Yongary, Monster of the Deep Review - 1967
Rated: Parental Guidance      
WATCH THIS FILM                                    

South Korea attempted to take advantage of the Japanese monster hype with the 1967 film “Yongary, Monster from the Deep”.   Earthquakes rock South Korea but the source of the shockwaves is unknown.  All too soon do the people discover that they were caused by the awakening of the horrid monster Yongary!  Before the people of South Korea know it, the monster is in their city and drinking their oil.  Can the military and a local youth stop this horrible beast? 

Although the film has cheesy effects and a monster suit that can be best described as hilarious, Yongary is a decent film for the time in which is was made.   This was obviously meant to be South Korea’s answer to Godzilla.  However, this monster’s suit makes the original Godzilla suit look amazing.  This is an interesting film with a fun plot and much camp appeal.  Check it out today!

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Week 3 of THEME MONTH is JAPANESE MONSTER FILMS - Daily Reviews and Film Postings

Although I tend to refrain from making any reviews or features at all personal, for a change, I would like to say that the Japanese monster film genre is one close to my heart.  It is a genre that would change the image of a nation and capture the imaginations of millions of children around the world, including myself.

  The first and most well known of the Japanese giant monster films would be 1953's Godzilla.  This film spawned a myriad of sequels that are still being made in the present day.  The character would become an icon of Japan whose likeness would be turned into everything from stuffed animals to candy!  After the success of Godzilla, many more Kaiju (translated literally as strange beast) films were made.  Another highly successful monster would be Gamera, a giant turtle who could retract his appendages and fly while spinning in a circle.  Originally created by a rival film company to compete with Godzilla, Gamera became a popular series spawning an entire line of related films.  Some other examples of popular monsters from kaiju films would be Rodan and Mothra.  With the success Kaiju films, the genre expanded into Yokai films (which were focused on spirit or demon like creatures) and Kaijin films
(which were focused on super villain type characters).  Due to the success of the Japanese monster films, other countries, such as South Korea, would attempt to copy the genre and cash in by marketing them as Kaiju films.

    Though over time Japan's film industry would shift more towards animated films (anime), which now accounts for 60 percent of Japanese films, Japanese giant monster films are still being produced as both Godzilla and Gamera have seen releases after the millennium.  Take some time and enjoy some of these delightful films that capture the imaginations of children and adults from all over the world.

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Corman Film #7: Ski Troop Attack Review, 1960

Film #7: Ski Troop Attack Review, 1960

            RATING: UNRATED

Ski Troop attack is low budget World War II film from 1960.  The story is serious yet fun and deals with the hardships of war as well as the comradery that exists between the men of a platoon.  The ski troop is sent on a special mission to blow up a German bridge that is crucial to the Nazi war machine.  The journey is plagued with enemy fire, minimal rations, loss of life, and bickering between the platoon’s sergeant and captain. 

The film is a good mix of real war footage, drama, interesting scenery, and cheesy train models!  This is the last film of Roger Corman week and will leave you with a good feeling.

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