comedy, horror, movie, movie review

July 21st, 2019 Movie – Mississippi River Sharks

mississippi river sharks

The one thing that I will miss now that the Sharknado franchise is finished is all of the new shark movies that would come out every year. Today’s movie is one of those movies that came out during that time period. I will admit that this movie only marginally caught my interest when it came out, and that was mainly because both Jason and Jeremy London were reported to be in it. I know, that is not really a good reason to watch a movie but that is what got my interest. So lets see if giving it a second watch makes it any better as I watch today’s movie, Mississippi River Sharks.

The plot: In New Orleans, a woman is on a Tinder date that is ending badly when a pair of bull sharks are propelled onto the deck by the steamboat’s paddlewheel and the woman grabs an elderly woman’s cane to fend them off. Elsewhere, Tara has returned home from college to take part in the town’s annual fishing competition with her father Ray. As people get set up by the river, the parish’s mayor, Big Bill, is told by his assistant about the shark attack and the governor’s warning for people to stay off the river but he ignores it, as he has sunk too much money into the festival and is more concerned about their celebrity guest, Jason London, not showing up yet. When Jason London shows up, the contest gets underway and Tara and Ray start getting their gear on their boat when Ray is called away to handle a shipment that arrived at his store. As he heads to the store, Ray sees a fisherman get yanked off a dock by whatever he caught on his line and as Ray goes to help him, the fisherman is killed by a shark. Back at the marina, Tara is finishing loading the gear and ends up talking with Eric, an old high school classmate that has a crush on her, and his friend Wyatt when Ray calls and tells Tara about the shark attack. When a head floats up to the marina, Tara, Eric, Big Bill, and Jason see it and Big Bill admits that he was warned about the sharks but didn’t think they would make it up the river. Back at the dock, the sheriff arrives and goes to retrieve the body when a shark attacks him and Ray is able to rescue him. A news van shows up and as the reporter, Allison, tries to ask the sheriff some questions, her cameraman goes up to the water to get some footage of the body and ends up being killed by the shark. Back at the marina, Tara tries to convince Big Bill to call off the festival and he reluctantly agrees to do it. Jason says that he will tell the crowd about the shut down but none of them believe him, as they think he is playing up his “Shark Bite” movies. Eric and Tara head back to wear Wyatt is, just as he pulls up a shark with his wrecker. After Tara kills it, she heads to the judges booth to let them know about the sharks and Big Bill’s assistant goes to get the entry forms so they can contact all the entrants and get them out of the water but as he is returning to the marina, he drops the forms and is killed by a shark as he was picking them up. Back at the marina, another man is killed as more sharks appear in the marina. Tara, Eric, and Wyatt decide to deal with the sharks themselves and plan on heading back to Ray’s store to get some weapons. They try to get Jason to help them but Jason refuses, saying he is just an actor so they leave him. When they start getting Ray’s boat ready to sail, Jason sees a shark approaching Tara and tries to save her but ends up being killed instead. At the shop, Wyatt starts grabbing all of the guns on the shelves but Tara says it might not be enough and has Eric help her make some explosives. When they are ready, they head out to try and kill the sharks but when Wyatt uses one of the pipe bombs, Big Bill confronts them and, blaming them for what is happening, takes the bag of explosives. As he heads to the marina, Big Bill sees one of the contestants, Possum, trying to sneak off with the trophy and as the two men argue, a shark attacks them both, biting off their arms and causing them to fall into the water. Meanwhile, Ray, Allison, and the sheriff are stranded after they run over a shark and as more reports come in, Ray and Allison head to the marina while the sheriff goes to help another fisherman and ends up getting killed in the process. Back at the marina, Tara comes up with a new plan and as Eric and Wyatt get their wrecker fixed, she goes to the marina to find a net and chum, encountering Ray and Allison as she does. Dumping the chum off a bridge to attract the sharks, they manage to capture them in a net and use the wrecker to pull them out of the water. As Tara pulls out her last pipe bomb, Wyatt begs to be the one to use it but he drops it too soon and it explodes harmlessly in the water. As the weight of the sharks starts causing the net to drop back towards the water, Wyatt gets in the wrecker and drives it forward, pulling the net back out of the water and out onto the bridge, where a passing semi runs over the sharks. As Tara, Eric, Ray, and Allison celebrate the dead sharks, Wyatt sees the trophy on some rocks nearby and goes to pick it up, only for a shark’s head to fall on him. 3 months later, Tara and Eric show up at Rays store to pick him up, leaving Wyatt, Ray’s new apprentice, to close up the shop. After they leave, Wyatt sees a commercial for a new shark movie, staring Jason London’s brother Jeremy. Suddenly, the woman from the tinder date enters the store and asks to use the phone and when she notices Wyatt’s eyepatch, she comments on it reminding her of Jason London’s character from the Shark Bite movies. Wyatt admits his love for them and the two start to bond.

So this was a decent movie but I feel like it could have been better. The acting was ok for the most part, with Cassie Steele (Tara), Tahj Vaughans (Eric) and Dean J. West (Wyatt) all doing good jobs in there roles. I also liked how Jason London played himself and kept telling people he wasn’t like his movie character, who was basically a caricature of the “typical action hero” that you would find in these movies. I also liked that Jeremy London was basically just taking over his brother’s role in his future movies. The story was pretty good, playing up on the stories of bull sharks making their way up the Mississippi River, at one point traveling all the way up to Illinois. Granted, the attacks in this movie were a little on the more fantastical side, such as the sharks being propelled onto the steamboat deck by the paddlewheel, but that was done for sheer entertainment value. I liked how they would use footage of real sharks in the water, instead of constantly using CGI sharks, but my only detraction of that is the footage being rather murky for the most part. Yes I know that it was due to where they were filming, but it was still a little annoying. The special effects felt a little on the cheap sides at times, such as when you get the massive blood splatter “on the camera”, but it still didn’t detract fro the entertainment value. Not the best movie but it is definitely one that is worth watching during a late night B-movie binge.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

July 14th, 2019 Movie – Ghost Shark

ghost shark

Well it has been a while since I have done this but I got some new movies in the other day so let’s get to reviewing them. So months ago, I saw a collection of movies called the Shark Bait collection and I immediately pre-ordered a copy of it. The reason for this is two fold: 1) It contains 6 movies that have not received a US release on DVD and 2) It was cheap (less than $12 for 7 movies). Now I honestly would have bought it just to get those 6 movies but the fact that it was so cheap was a nice bonus. Anyways, I now have several shark movies, and one alligator movie, to enjoy so let’s get things started with our first entry, Ghost Shark. Now I first heard about this movie on a horror movie website I used to frequent and eagerly awaited it when it debuted on Syfy. Unfortunately, I missed it’s debut so I decided to try and buy it on DVD only to find that every copy I saw was not playable in the US (I really need to get an all-region DVD/Blu-Ray player). I would eventually manage to watch it but that did not solve my problem of getting a copy on DVD, which is why this set was such a godsend in that regard.

The plot: Late one night, Brubaker and his daughter Vicky are attempting to reel in a large fish to win a local competition when a great white shark bites their fish in half before they can reel it in. Brubaker grabs a gun and starts shooting at the shark, knocking out the boat’s captain, Captain Reid, when he tries to stop them, then he and Vicky proceed to fatally wound the shark. As it dies, the shark swims into an underwater cave, where the waters cause the shark to be resurrected as a ghost. The ghost shark then quickly swims out of the cave and kills Brubaker and Vicky, then emerges from a bucket of bait to kill Captain Reid. The next day, Ava Reid, her sister Cicely, and their friends Blaise, Taylor, Cameron, and Mick head out to the beach to have some fun when Ava notices her dad’s boat drifting along the shore. Ava and Cicely swim out to the boat to look for the dad, only to find his bloody hat on board and the video camera that Vicky was using. Meanwhile, one of their friends is attacked by the ghost shark and as she tries to get away on a jet ski, it bites her in half. As the police close down the beach, Chief Martin asks Ava and her friends what they saw but doesn’t believe their description of the shark. Finch, the drunken lighthouse keeper, tells Martin that ghosts are real and the town will be punished for his sins, but Martin dismisses him as well, just as Mayor Stahl arrives and tells Martin what they should do. The next day, Ava and her friends head to the police station and Martin shows them the footage from Vicky’s camera but still won’t believe it was a ghost. That night, Cameron has a pool party at his house when the ghost shark appears in the pool, killing one of the guests as he jumps into the pool, then killing Mick as the guests run out of the pool. Cameron calls Ava the next morning to tell her what happened and when Ava and Blaise get there, they see Cameron being questioned by his father, Mayor Stahl, about what happened. In an attempt to keep things quiet, as he wants to be reelected, Stahl tells Martin to have Cameron taken to the mental hospital for evaluation but when a deputy shows them a phone with video of the ghost shark killing the boy, Cameron uses the opportunity to get away and leaves with Ava and Blaise. As the ghost shark starts killing more people all over town, Finch sees someone entering the cave and when he goes to chase them out, he finds the shark’s body. Ava, Blaise, and Cameron show up at the lighthouse looking for Finch and discover a secret basement in the lighthouse. Finch confronts them, yelling at them about the cave bringing things back to life when he passes out drunk. As Stahl and Martin decide to release the video of the shark attack, and issue an APB for Ava, Blaise, and Cameron, Cicely is attacked by the shark while she is taking a bath but Ava and Blaise are able to save her. As they tend to her wound, Blaise finds a news article online about the death of Finch’s wife and they decide to head to the town museum to see if they can get some more information about the cave. When they get there, the museum curator tells them of a legend concerning the cave, but as he goes to show them a grimoire that contains a spell to appease vengeful spirits, they find the display case empty and the curator says that Finch, who was in their earlier, must have taken it. Cameron, who was outside smoking, passes by Finch as he leaves the museum and as he watches him leave, a distracted Cameron tosses his cigarette into the trash can, accidentally starting a fire. As the sprinkler system activates and begins to flood the museum, the curator and Cameron are both killed by the shark but Ava and Blaise manage to get away. As the call the cops to alert them to the deaths, Cicely pulls up in the Reid’s truck and Ava tells her to go home, then asks Blaise to take her home while she heads to the lighthouse to see Finch. At the police station, the mayor’s aide is killed when he drinks some water and the shark burst forth from his stomach. When Martin tells him about Cameron’s death, Stahl tells him to get a boat so they can hunt down and kill the shark but they both end up getting killed by the shark. Ava shows up at the lighthouse and, not finding Finch inside, heads to the cave, where she finds Finch holding the grimoire as he stands over the shark’s body. Finch discovers the spell they need and says they can trap the spirit in the talisman of the object that killed it and Ava pulls out the crossbow bolt that was lodged in the shark’s eye. They head out onto the beach to try and stop the shark and are joined by Blaise and Cicely, who had tried to save some kids playing in the water and failed. When the shark shows up, Ava stabs it in the head with the bolt and it seems to work but as Finch approaches it, the shark recovers and swims off. Deciding the only way to kill the shark is to try and destroy the cave, Ava and the others want to get some dynamite from a nearby demo site but Finch won’t let them, explaining that he drunkenly killed his wife in the cave and doesn’t want to risk losing her again. Finch locks them in the basement, then rows his boat out to the sheriff’s boat, where he discovers the body of Stahl in the toilet. Meanwhile, Cicely is able to pick the lock and the three head out to the demo site to retrieve the dynamite. When they return and make their way to the cave, they encounter Finch, who had been contacted by his wife’s ghost, and he says he is there to help them. They set the dynamite around the body and make their way outside to light the fuse when it starts to rain, and the shark comes in on the tide to eat the fuse. Ava rushes forward to grab the rest of the fuse so she can relight it, the ghost shark falls down from the rain and kills Finch, then almost kills Blaise and Cicely. As the shark continues to try and kill them, Ava manages to make her way inside the cave and light the fuse, then make her way out of the cave before it explodes. Ava rushes out of the cave, warning Blaise and Cicely as she does, then dives into the water before the explosion hits. As she is swimming to safety, the shark starts heading towards Ava and Blaise and Cicely think it killed her when it disappears but Ava surfaces and calls out to them, and they quickly rush out to her in relief.

This is one of those movies that had a lot going for it on paper, but was kind of let down by it’s own pacing. The acting was ok, with Mackenzie Rosman doing a good job as Ava, but she was definitely overshadowed by Richard Moll, who was really good as Finch. The story was actually pretty entertaining, as the idea of a ghost shark appearing out of any source of water was a pretty cool idea. Unfortunately, the movie kind of plodded along throughout the story, and every time it started to build up some steam, it would cutaway to another scene which, in spite of the fact it was supposed to build up some momentum, simply stopped the momentum in it’s place. The special effects were decent, but could have been better. I mean, I liked the translucent/transparent appearance to the ghost shark, but it was a little annoying that the victim would simply disappear during most of the shark’s attacks. It has some faults, but it is still a good movie and worth a watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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July 7th, 2019 Movie – Monster From The Ocean Floor

monster from the ocean floor

So continuing on with the few movies that were listed on my “shopping list”, I find myself watching the first movie that Roger Corman produced. That little nugget right there honestly should have had me watching this movie a lot sooner than now, but that is life. Anyways, I first came aware of this movie while watching the Attack Of The 50 Foot Monstermania DVD. At one point during the movie they showed movie posters for some of the numerous giant monster movies that came out during the 50’s and 60’s and this was one of the few movies they showed that I had not seen. Now let’s see what Mr. Corman has in store for me with today’s movie, Monster From The Ocean Floor.

The plot: Julie Blair is vacationing in a small seaside village in Mexico. While taking a break from attempting to draw the ocean, she argues with the village boy that accompanied her, about his belief that there is a sea monster in the ocean. After the boy leaves, Julie decides to go for a swim in the ocean and is surprised when a small, one-man sub surfaces right in front of her. After apologizing for scaring her, the driver of the sub introduces himself as marine biologist Steve Dunning and invites her to the boat where he and his colleagues are doing research. Julie agrees and they head to the boat, where Dr. Baldwin welcomes Julie and starts showing her some of their specimens. Suddenly, a boat pulls up saying that the diver he is with is missing so Steve goes to help look for the missing diver; finding the man’s dive suit but no sign of the man. Later that night, Julie and Steve are talking about the missing diver and Julie tells him about the boy’s story of the sea monster but Steve laughs it off. The next day, Julie convinces Steve to join her in looking for the monster and they head down into the ocean but when Julie spots a large octopus, she is scared and asks Steve to take her back to the boat. After talking with the fisherman who lost the diver, Julie goes to see a local man named Pablo, who tells her that he had seen a single giant eye in the water one night during a full moon. Julie tells Steve about Pablo’s story, as well as what some other villagers told her and asks if anything happened in the area. When Steve tells her about the Bikini Island tests, she says that maybe the radiation mutated a creature into a monster but Steve says she has been reading too much science fiction. Dr. Baldwin joins them, telling Steve that Stanford had approved their request and Steve tells Julie that they are moving to a different area for a few weeks but if anything comes up to get in touch with him. That night, Julie walking along the beach when she is frightened by a cow that had wandered onto the beach and she collapses onto the sand. Suddenly, a large, octopus-like creature appears in the ocean and starts heading towards shore and Julie sees it but, thinking it is her imagination running wild again, she collapses back into the sand. Meanwhile, Pablo is talking to an old woman, Tula, who tells him that they must perform a sacrifice to appease the monster but Pablo is reluctant to do so but finally agrees. Pablo attempts to kill Julie, first by secretly putting some blood on her while she goes diving, and then by letting the air out of her scuba tanks so she can drown. Julie manages to make it back to the boat and as she pulls the anchor back up, she snags onto something, pulling it up with the anchor. Julie sends the object to Steve and Dr. Baldwin, who examine it and determine it came from a giant amoeba and quickly head back to the village. At the village, Julie and Pablo head back into the ocean and Pablo makes one more attempt to kill Julie but can’t bring himself to do it and tells Julie of the legend, apologizing for what he has done. Julie forgives him, then dives down into the water, where she spots the monster and quickly hides against some rocks to avoid being spotted by it. Steve and Dr. Baldwin arrive next to Pablo’s boat and when he tells them that Julie should have been back by now, Steve has his mini-sub readied to launch so he can go find her. Steve spots the monster approaching Julie and pilots his sub straight at it, crashing it into the monster’s eye and killing it. Steve then swims over to Julie and carries her back to the surface and after she regains consciousness, Steve apologizes for doubting her and the two kiss.

This wasn’t a bad little giant monster movie but it did suffer from one problem; not enough giant monster. The acting was ok, with Anne Kimbell doing a good job as Julie, while Stuart Wade was equally good as Steve, though the chemistry between them was rather awkward and forced. I know that this was early in the 50’s nuclear terror but it still felt unoriginal, despite this being one of the earlier movies like this. I did think the idea of an amoeba being mutated to giant size was a pretty good idea, and I liked the design of the creature, especially the glowing eye and tentacle tips. The rest of the special effects were ok, though the times that they sped up the camera speed where it was too shaky. The sound was a little off at the beginning of the movie, as the music was overpowering the opening narrative, but it did get better as the movie progressed. A decent old movie to watch if you get the chance.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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June 30th, 2019 Movie – Tobor The Great

tobor the great

Man, I have been on one hell of a nostalgic kick the last month or so. I think a large part of that is due to my binge watching a lot of the classic Dr. Who episodes. Anyways, I am out of old TV movies that I remember as a kid so I decided to go back to some old Sci-Fi/B-movies that are on my list to watch that I haven;t gotten around to yet. This list is comprised of movies that were either mentioned or had clips shown in either Attack Of The 50 Foot Monstermania, or the Name that B-movie Monster video on YouTube. Both of these have essentially been used as something of a shopping list for my movie purchases so I am sure to have some fun over the next few weeks. So let’s get things started with today’s movie, Tobor The Great.

The plot: After World War II, a new agency, C.I.F.C. (Civil Interplanatery Flight Commission), was created to work on creating new fissionable materials, as well as stronger materials for construction of rockets for space flight. After seeing a volunteer pass out during the testing of G-forces, Doctor Ralph Harrison goes to see the commissioner of C.I.F.C. and resigns his post, saying that manned space flight is too dangerous for the test flights. Professor Arnold Nordstrom, who was meeting with the commissioner at the time, pays a visit to Harrison, saying he feels the same way that he does and thinks they can work together to come up with a solution to the issue. The two head to the airport lounge to discuss the situation when they are approached by Mr. Gilligan, a reporter, who tries to get an interview out of them. Nordstrom tells Gilligan that he will hold a press conference in 30 days at his home laboratory in California, where he will unveil their project. The two scientists then leave to catch their flight, unaware that a man in glasses had been listening to their conversation and follows after them. When they arrive at Nordstrom’s home, Nordstrom introduces Harrison to his daughter Janice and his grandson Brian (Gadge). before taking Harrison down to his secret lab, which Gadge has shown he can unlock. When the time for the press conference arrives, Nordstrom shows the assembled journalists Tobor (which he jokes is simply robot spelled backwards). He explains that while he can control Tobor with the control box, it is also capable of receiving commands via ESP and is also capable of feeling emotions. After giving a demonstration of how Tobor reacts to emotional stimuli, he admits that Tobor is incomplete due to the long range communications not being finished. Once the demonstration is complete, Nordstrom and Harrison escort the journalists out of the lab, allowing Gadge, who had been listening to the presentation, to sneak into the lab so he can see Tobor. Gadge messes with the control box, causing Tobor to approach him and Gadge manages to avoid him but Tobor walks past him and heads upstairs, where he begins smashing some things in the living room before Gadge is able to get him under control and back downstairs. Later, Harrison, Nordstrom, and Nordstrom’s assistant Karl are cleaning up when Harrison realizes that there are one too many chairs out, indicating that someone had snuck into the demonstration. They quickly contacted the local sheriff and ask him to check the license plates for the people that had attended the demonstration and to alert the FBI to the matter. Meanwhile, the foreign spy has met with some of his men, who have been observing Nordstrom’s home, and after noticing that there have been no guards posted, are making plans on how to obtain Tobor. Back at the lab, Nordstrom and Harrison, knowing that someone might be trying to steal Tobor, work on improving him, with Nordstrom constructing a transmitter inside a fountain pen that can be used to control him. Later, they initiate a simulation for Tobor when he goes berserk, accidentally injuring Gadge in the process, but once they regain control of him, Tobor appears to express remorse towards Gadge for injuring him. That night, the foreign agents attempt to break into the house but are repulsed by Nordstrom’s defenses. Deciding to switch tactics, they send an invitation to presentation on space flight to Nordstrom and Gadge and when the two arrive, they are kidnapped by the foreign agents. Back at the house, Pentagon officials are arriving to see a demonstration of Tobor but when Nordstrom and Gadge haven’t returned, Harrison calls the police and alerts the officials as to what is going on. Back at the foreign spies hideout, Nordstrom is forced to write down the formulas for his research or else Gadge will be hurt but he uses the opportunity to use the pen to signal Tobor. Back at the house, Tobor breaks free from the lab and heads out and Harrison, realizing that Nordstrom must be controlling him, has everyone follow him. Back at the hideout, the foreign spy realizes that Nordstrom must be using the pen to communicate with Topor and quickly breaks it, causing Tobor to stop in it’s tracks. When Harrison and the others reach the robot, Harrison decides to turn off the long range communicator and see if Nordstrom and Gadge can contact Tobor via telepathy. Gadge is able to reach Tobor, who resumes his march and eventually breaks into the hideout. Harrison and the others arrive and are able to take the spies into custody, as Tobor picks up Gadge and carries him out of the hideout. Some time later, Tobor is shown to be piloting a space ship into orbit, while Gadge watches and wishes him luck.

This was a somewhat cute little sci-fi movie, though I use that term fairly loosely. The only sci-fi aspect was the creation of Tobor, while the main style seemed to be more drama than anything else. The acting was ok, with Charles Drake (Harrison) and Taylor Holmes (Nordstrom) both doing a good job in their roles. I thought that Karin Booth was decent as Jasmine, what little time that she had on screen, but I was really annoyed with Billy Chapin (Gadge), as he was basically playing the typical annoying “Golly, gee, willikers” type of character that was prevalent in the 50’s. The story was interesting and fairly topical of the times back then. With the Space Race against Russia going on back then, I am sure there were a fair number of people expressing their concern that people were being put through those rigorous testing procedures and whether there was another way to proceed. The special effects were not that good, with Tobor looking somewhat ridiculous to be honest. Definitely worth watching if you are in the mood for one of those pick-me-up type of movies but there were better sci-fi movies that came out that year.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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June 23rd, 2019 Movie – Gargoyles (1972)

gargoyles 1972

Continuing on with my nostalgia for TV movies I watched as a kid, I remembered this little gem of a movie. The reason that this movie sticks out in my head is because I have never managed to see the entire movie. I watched about 15 minutes of it years ago when my family first moved to Texas, but we didn’t get to finish it as we had to go do something. Over the years, the portion I saw would pop into my head but it wasn’t until fairly recently that I decided to try and find it online so I could watch it. So let’s see if the rest of the movie was worth the wait as I watch today’s movie, Gargoyles (1972).

The Plot: After his fall from Heaven, The Devil proclaimed that his offspring, the gargoyles, would one day rule over the Earth and man. Three times, the gargoyles would rage war over mankind but would be defeated to the point of extinction each time. Hundreds of years after the last battle, mankind has practically forgotten about the gargoyles, thinking them as nothing more than statues on ancient buildings. In the present day, Diana Boley has flown out to Arizona to meet up with her dad, Dr. Mercer Boley, who is studying humanity’s obsession with demons over the years. As they head towards Mexico, Boley tells Diana that they are going to make a detour to see an old man, Uncle Willie, who claims to have some copies of old Native American exorcisms as well as having found something incredible. As the make their way across the desert, something large flies overhead while they are stopped but they both put it out of their minds as they continue on their way. When they finally reach Willie’s home, Boley is skeptical of Willie’s claims, thinking he is trying to scam him. The old man leads them towards a shack at the back of his home and once inside, he shows them the skeleton of a gargoyle that he found in a nearby canyon. Boley doesn’t believe the skeleton is real, thinking that Willie simply assembled it from various bones, but Willie tells him it is real and finally convinces Boley to accept his deal for the skeleton. That night, they are sitting in the shack interviewing Willie about the ancient rituals when something attacks the shack. Willie is knocked unconscious set on fire when a lantern is knocked over and Boley and Diana quickly leave the shack, grabbing the gargoyle skull on their way out, before they are caught in the blaze themselves. As they drive down the road, Boley listens to the recording of their interview so he can listen to whatever had attacked them when a gargoyle suddenly swoops down and lands on their car. Boley manages to shake it off and the head to a gas station/shop and ask the attendant to try and fix their car, then head to the motel next door to get a room. The next day, Boley and Diana tell the police about Willie’s death and head out with them to show them the scene. When they get there, they see some teenagers riding dirt bikes near the burnt wreckage and the police believe believe they are responsible for the fires. After catching all of the dirt bikers, the police book them for the arson and death of Willie, in spite of Boley and Diana telling the police that the kids weren’t there when they left. That night, a pair of gargoyles break into Boley’s motel room and steal the skull and as he chases after them, one of them is hit by a truck. Boley brings the body back into his room and tells Diana that it’s a gargoyle and they had come for the skull of their dead. Boley wants to take the body back to Los Angeles immediately, as he knows the gargoyles will be back to reclaim it but when he turns around, he finds Diana is gone. Diana goes to the police station to try and convince the deputy to let the kids go but when he refuses, she tells James Reeger, the leader of the group, about the gargoyle and promises she will get them out of there. Diana heads back to the motel but as she gets there, she hears the gargoyles approaching and Boley quickly grabs her and drags her into their room. As the gargoyles break down the door, Boley grabs the body and goes out the back window with Diana and they get in their car but before they can leave, the gargoyles rip off the door and grab Diana and knock Boley out. As three gargoyles work on retrieving the body from the car, the leader of the gargoyles approaches Diana, who faints when he gets close to her and the leader picks her up and carries her off as they leave. The next day, Mrs. Parks, the motel manager, tells the sheriff and deputy what she heard at the motel and Boley confirms her story, telling them about the gargoyles and how they took Diana. When Boley says they need to search for Diana, the sheriff says they don’t have the manpower to mount a search and Reeger volunteers his gang to help with the search, which the sheriff reluctantly agrees to allow. As the search party mounts up to find Diana, the sheriff sends Mrs. Parks and the gas station attendant, Buddy, to the state patrol’s office for some back-up, unaware that a gargoyle was in the back of their truck. In the gargoyles’ lair, Diana is trying to find a way out when the leader speaks to her, telling her they mean her no harm but they can’t let the humans kill them off again. Outside, the search party soon finds Buddy’s truck driving around in circles, with the front seat covered in blood and no sign of Buddy or Mrs. Parks. As night falls, the find Mrs. Parks’ body hanging from a telephone pole, which scares some of the bikers but Reeger convinces them to keep looking for Diana. Back in the lair, the gargoyle leader is told of the approaching humans, as well as how another egg layer has hatched so they will soon have more eggs to hatch and the leader tells the other gargoyles they must get rid of the humans. As the search party gets close to the lair, the gargoyles emerge from their cave and begin attacking them. Boley is approached by the gargoyle leader and told to follow him if he wants to see Diana and when he gets there, the leader tells him that they have been waiting 500 years and that with their eggs hatching, they will soon have enough to wipe out mankind. The leader then heads off to where he is keeping Diana, having her read aloud to him. Boley wanders around the cave and finds the egg chamber when a gargoyle grabs him, telling him to be quiet, then takes him to where Diana is but when Boley gets there, the leader quickly takes Diana deeper into the cave and Boley is forced to flee. Outside, Boley encounters Reeger, the sheriff, and the remainder of the search party and tells them about the eggs inside the cave and Diana still being alive. The sheriff says they will have state patrol out there in the morning but Boley refuses to wait and Reeger goes with him. The two men carry some gasoline cans with them and after fighting off some gargoyles, Reeger starts to douse the eggs with gasoline when he is swarmed by some more gargoyles, and he lights the gasoline, killing himself as well as the gargoyles and eggs. Boley confronts the leader and tells him that he will be dead if he doesn’t leave, forcing the leaders decision by breaking the wing of the last breeder. The leader says that Boley’s actions may spell the end of mankind one day, before grabbing the breeder and flying off into the night as Boley and Diana watch them leave.

Maybe it is just the sheer number of horror movies I have seen over the years but I honestly don’t know why kid me found the small scene I saw so scary. Still, this wasn’t that bad of a TV movie all in all. The acting was ok, with Cornel Wilde doing a decent job as the lead (Boley) but I was disappointed that Jennifer Salt (Diana) was relegated to nothing more than the typical horror movie screaming girl. The story started out ok, and I liked the whole idea of gargoyles being the spawn of the devil, but it got a little confusing at the end. They didn’t really explain why the leader kidnapped Diana, or why the breeder helped Boley find her. The special effects weren’t all that impressive, as most of the gargoyle costumes looked kind of cheap. The camera work at times was also a little weird, seeming to slow down for some reason when they focused on the gargoyles, which really made no sense. All in all, it’s a decent TV movie but could have been better.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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drama, horror, movie, movie review, thriller

June 16th, 2019 Movie – Ants

ants

I don’t know why there was such a resurgence of killer bug movies in the 70’s but my younger self certainly enjoyed watching them on the weekends. So continuing on with my reviews of some old TV movies I saw as a child, I came across this little gem; which once again showed me that my memory of events as a child was not always 100% accurate. Now I remember seeing this movie on TV one day when I was about 6-7 years old. and clearly recall the ants attacking people in the movie. However, there is one scene at the end of the movie that I honestly thought had occurred in a different movie, mainly one involving killer bees, not ants. My surprise at discovering my mistake didn’t really detract from my enjoying watching the movie so sit back and let me relive some nostalgia as I watch today’s movie, Ants.

The plot: As a construction crew is working next to Lakewood Manor, one of the workers is suddenly attacked by a swarm of ants while he was working in a covered ditch. Another worker hears him crying out for help and heads down to the ditch to help him, but they both end up being accidentally buried alive by a bulldozer. Meanwhile, Anthony Fleming, a real estate magnate, is heading to the manor with his partner/lover Gloria to try and buy the manor from Ethel Adams, the owner, and turn it into a casino. They arrive at the Manor, just as Mike Carr, the construction foreman, notices his missing workers and heads to the hotel to see if they are there. Inside the hotel, Valerie, Ethel’s daughter, apologizes to Fleming, as her grandmother is having second thoughts about selling, then she tells her frustrations to Mike, as they are dating. Mike leaves the hotel and after talking with his coworker Vince about the missing men, Mike decides to check the trench and notices a hardhat on the ground inside. Mike yells out for Vince to get help and the rest of the crew head over to help as they find and dig out the men. An ambulance is called to take the men to the hospital, where one died from asphyxiation and the other dies from some sort of toxic reaction. When Mike returns to the hotel, he looks around the ditch to see if he can figure out what happened to his men, just as Peggy Kenter, a Board of Health inspector, and her assistant White show up to find out what happened to the workers. Meanwhile, a boy that was collecting glass bottles to recycle had been attacked by some ants and goes screaming into the pool to attempt to get them off. Mike and Richard, a hotel employee, rushes into the pool to rescue the boy, who is taken to the hospital and dies from the same thing that killed Mike’s worker. As Mike continues to try and figure out what is going on, Vince is bitten by some ants and after Mike helps him, Vince finds that his leg has gone numb. Figuring that the ants are somehow responsible, Mike catches some in a jar to be tested, just as the manor’s cook dies in the kitchen. Peggy and White quarantine the kitchen and begin preparations to evacuate the manor’s guests, as White feels that this is the result of a virus and when Mike explains his theory to them, White scoffs at the notion that ants are the cause of it. As Mike gets pissed and storms off, Peggy takes the jar of ants to a friend of hers to ask if it is possible that they could be deadly, and her friend says it is possible due to all the toxins that have been put into the earth over the years. Back at the hotel, Mike has gotten into the bulldozer and begins digging up the ditch, and the drain pipe that leads into the hotel, causing the ant colony to begin swarming around the hotel. Mike, realizing what is happening, tells Vince to have the men dig a ditch around the hotel to contain the ants while he tries to make his way inside. At the hotel, several of the guest that had not evacuated have been killed by the ants, as well as White and Gloria, leaving Valerie, Ethel, Fleming, Richard, and his new girlfriend Linda left alive. Mike makes it inside and has everyone head upstairs to stall for time, as the ants are starting to swarm the downstairs. When the police and fire department show up, they use the engine’s ladder to try to rescue everyone in the hotel but are only able to get Linda out before the others are forced to move to the higher floors. A helicopter is brought in and they manage to load Ethel into the basket so she can be carried to safety but as the helicopter goes to leave, Richard ends up falling off the balcony and lands on a lower awning. Vince manages to rescue Richard, just as the helicopter begins to land nearby but the backwash from the helicopter’s props sends the nearby ants flying into the crowd of onlookers, forcing them to avoid using the helicopter for any more rescue attempts. The fire chief gets in touch with Mike to explain the situation, telling him that the Coast Guard is sending some special suits they can use to rescue them but they won’t be there for 30 minutes. Mike, Valerie, and Fleming try to barricade the room as best they can and as the ants start to seep through, and Peggy’s friend Tom tells them that they have to try and stay as still as possible, as the ants might not see them as threatening and attack them. Mike cuts some strips of wallpaper to use as breathing tubes, and has everyone sit down and stay calm, slowly using the tubes for when they need to take a breath. Mike and Valerie manage to stay calm and follow the plan but Fleming panics when the ants start crawling on him and he attempts to jump off the balcony into the pool below, but misses and falls onto the concrete. The suits finally arrive and Mike and Valerie are rescued from the ants and after reuniting with Ethel, Ethel tells them to go ahead and get married and not to worry about her, as she is going to move to Florida with her sister.

While this wasn’t a bad movie on the whole, it was quite a bit on the boring side. The acting was ok, with Robert Foxworth doing a good job in his role as Mike. The other actors were ok, though I was rather surprised by the amount of actors I was familiar with being in this movie, such as Suzanne Somers and Brian Dennehy. The plot was decent, if a little slow in building up to any real tension. The scene at the end with Mike, Valerie, and Fleming sitting in the room as the ants crawl all over them definitely provided the means to make ones skin crawl, especially when you had an ant crawling all around Valerie’s eye. The special effects weren’t much, as this was a made for TV movie, but they did a decent job showing the ants interacting with the people. All told, this isn’t the type of movie that would blow anyone away, but is worth a watch if you happen to come across it.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, thriller

June 9th, 2019 Movie – Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo

tarantulas the deadly cargo

So I decided to go ahead and continue watching/reviewing some old TV movies from the 70’s this month. Today’s movie is one that I remember watching once as a kid back in the 2nd/3rd grade. The problem is, I kind of mixed portions of this movie with Kingdom Of The Spiders, which came out in theaters the same year and I had seen about the same time. When I obtained my copy of Kingdom Of The Spiders, and realized that some of the scenes I remembered where not in that movie, I considered trying to locate the movie that had those scenes in it, but will admit that I didn’t put much effort into it. Then I came across a couple of old movies on YouTube and realized that one of them was the movie I remembered. That is how I came to find myself watching Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo today.

The plot: At a small airstrip in Ecuador, some farmers are loading sacks of coffee beans onto a plane, not noticing that some tarantulas are getting into the bags with the beans. The two pilots, Buddy and Fred, are discussing how much money they will make selling the coffee back in the states when some Federales show up, telling them that they owe $300 as an export tax. Having no money between them, Buddy and Fred try to bribe the officers with some of the coffee but when the men refuse, they get the money buy agreeing to smuggle some men into the US on their plane. After paying off the officials, they get their plane ready to take off, sneaking the men on board as they move the plane to the runway. As they fly through the night, the fly into a storm, where the turbulence causes the bags to fall over and the tarantulas escape and bite one of the men in the cargo hold. The next day, one of the engines goes out on their plane and Buddy and Fred attempt an emergency landing near the small town of Finleyville, CA, but some of the tarantulas had made it into the cockpit when Fred had gone to check on the men in the hold and begin attacking the two pilots, causing them to lose control of the plane and crash. Cindy Beck and Joe Harmon, who had been in contact with the plane when it crashed, call the town’s emergency services and then head out to see if they can help. As a crowd starts to form in the area, Joe talks with Bert Springer, one of the town leaders and head of the volunteer fire department, and when they notice fuel leaking from the wing, the work on getting a trench built around the plane to contain the fuel. As the trench is finished, a kid riding a dirt bike rides up but loses control of his bike, crashing into the trench and causing the fuel to ignite. The fire department works on getting the fire under control, not noticing that the tarantulas are escaping from the plane. Once the fire is contained, Joe and Bert head inside to check if anyone is inside, finding one survivor, while Doc Hodgins oversees getting Buddy and Fred out of the cockpit, with Fred being the only one still alive. As Mayor Douglas talks with Hodgins to ask what could have caused the crash and the mens deaths, worrying that any negative press or possible plague could have an impact on their orange harvest, a man that had been stealing some of the coffee from the plane is bitten by a spider and goes into convulsions, though nobody saw the spider. The next day, a teacher is bitten by a tarantula and dies and when another teacher finds the spider and takes it to Hodgins, he checks the teacher and compares it’s fangs to the wound he found on her leg. Hodgins contacts Joe, who was riding in the ambulance with the two survivors, and when they find bites on them as well, Joe tells Hodgins to have Cindy pick him up, then has the ambulance pull over so he can get out. Joe and Cindy head to the plane to see if they can find some more spiders there and after finding one, they take it to a friend of Joe’s in L.A., who identifies it as a Banana Spider, one of the most venomous and aggressive spiders in the world. As Hodgins talks with Bert about the spider, Cindy’s brother Matthew attempts to grab one that was in a truck full of oranges that was leaving the packaging plant, and ends up getting bitten and dies. Meanwhile, Mayor Chad Douglas is with an inspector, who approves of the plant’s oranges, and he makes plans to get them shipped out, unaware that all of the spiders have been drawn to the plant due to all of the oranges inside. When Joe and Cindy arrive back in town and learn about Matthew’s death, Joe heads to the plant with a container of strong pesticide so he can kill the spiders but Bert stops him, as it would ruin the crop. As the townsfolk gather at the plant and argue over what they should do, Chad says that they have only 16 hours to before the train arrives to pick up the oranges and if they don’t make it on the train, the town will be monetarily finished. Joe gets the book his friend loaned him about the spiders and learns that they will become paralyzed when they hear the droning of wasps, their mortal enemy, so the townsfolk come up with a plan to get rid of the spiders. Recording the droning of angry bees, they place speakers inside the warehouse, then place some fruit in the middle of an open area to lure in some insects, which will attract the spiders. When a large group of spiders converges on the fruit, they begin playing the recording, causing the spiders to freeze up. After they are sure the spiders are paralyzed, Bert, Joe, Cindy, and some other people head inside and begin grabbing the paralyzed spiders, dropping them in buckets of gasoline and alcohol to kill them. As the people outside watch their progress, Rich, who is part owner of the warehouse, attempts to burn the warehouse down to collect on the insurance money but trips on the roof and falls off, taking out the power lines as he falls. With the power out, the automatic doors close, trapping the people inside the warehouse just as the spiders start moving again. Steve, who had seen Rich head up to the roof, decides to head up the same way and enters the warehouse, then leads the trapped people back outside. As they make it outside, Chad manages to get some people to repair the lines so that they can continue getting rid of the spiders and save the oranges.

You know, sometimes you have to give props to the simplistic approach to movies, especially the made-for-TV variety. This was actually a pretty decent movie, because they went with a more simple, and somewhat realistic approach to it instead of going for a more flashy/showy style like with Kingdom Of The Spiders. The acting was pretty good, with Claude Akins (Bert), Charles Frank (Joe), Deborah Winters (Cindy), and Pat Hingle (Hodgins) doing good jobs in their roles. Even though they had smaller roles, I also liked Tom Atkins (Buddy) and Howard Hesseman (Fred), but I did wish they could have done more in the movie. The story was pretty simplistic in it’s scope, with the idea that the venomous spiders were accidentally scooped into the bags with the coffee, then got free after the crash being pretty believable. Since they had such a simple plot to follow, the actors really had to ramp up the tension and drama to help sell the movie. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects outside of the plane crash, as mostly you had people just interacting with the spiders, which honestly wasn’t too scary unless you suffer from arachnaphobia. A decent TV movie that is worth watching if you are in the mood for a “bug” movie, but not one that is an absolutely must see.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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