movie, movie review, sci-fi

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

drama, horror, movie, movie review, thriller

June 16th, 2019 Movie – 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

drama, movie, movie review, sci-fi, Uncategorized

April 21st, 2019 Movie – The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

the day the earth stood still 1951

“Klaatu Barada Nicto”. Arguably one of the most famous three word lines in all of science fiction. Now let me let you all in on a little secret; I have never seen today’s movie all the way through in one sitting. Don’t get me wrong. I have seen the film in it’s entirety, but it was done by managing to catch it at certain parts when it was on. I have long considered this to be a massive oversight that I needed to rectify sooner, rather than later, but would always get sidetracked by other things before I could rectify it. Well that all ends today as part of my classic sci-fi month so let’s get right into a true classic of the sci-fi genre with today’s movie, The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951).

The plot: All around the world, news stations are reporting about an alien spacecraft that is circling the Earth, eventually landing in Washington D.C. As the military and police rush to cordon off the area around the saucer, a doorway opens and a humanoid figure emerges from the craft, saying he comes in peace and good will. As he approaches the soldiers, he pulls a device from his suit, causing a nervous soldier to fire on him, damaging the device and wounding the alien. Suddenly, an large robot appears and begin disintegrating the soldiers’ rifles, as well as a tank and some cannons, until the alien orders it to stand down. The alien, Klaatu, tells the soldiers that the device was for the President so that he could study life on other planets, then is taken to a hospital for treatment, While there, Mr. Harley, the President’s Secretary speaks with Klaatu, who tells Harley that he must speak with the leaders of all nations at once, and Harley says he will relay the message to the President but doubts it will get anywhere. Meanwhile, the military tries to get into the saucer but is unable to pierce the saucer’s hull. The next day, Harley returns and tells Klaatu that the world’s leaders can’t agree on a common location for the meeting and when Klaatu suggests he go out among the people and see how things are for himself, Harley tells him that he is not permitted to leave the hospital. Klaatu manages to escape the hospital and gains lodging at a boarding house, telling the people there his name is Carpenter, the name on the suit he stole. The next day, Klaatu is at breakfast listening to the other lodgers giving their opinions about the alien and while most of them are suspicious about the alien coming to Earth, one of them, Helen Benson, says that the alien probably was sincere in his coming in peace and is simply scared now. When Helen’s boyfriend Tom shows up to take her on a picnic, she asks if her son Bobby can come, as she has nobody to watch him, and Klaatu offers to watch him for her. Bobby has Klaatu take him to Arlington Cemetery, where his dad is buried, then they walk around D.C., visiting the Lincoln Memorial and then the park where the saucer is. As they are walking, Klaatu asks who the greatest person in the world is, Bobby mentions Professor Barnhardt and so they go to pay him a visit. When they get there, they find Barnhardt isn’t home and Klaatu decides to work on the formula Barnhardt had been working on as way of a calling card before they are sent away by Barnhardt’s housekeeper. That night, a government agent appears at the lodging house and takes Klaatu to Barnhardt’s house, where they find Barnhardt working on his formula. After Barnhardt dismisses the agent, Klaatu reveals his identity to Barnhardt and reveals his mission on Earth. He tells Barnhardt that his planet has been observing Earth and knows that they have discovered a rudimentary atomic power and beginnings of study into rockets. As long as they contain their wars to their own planet, their won’t be a problem but if they decide to place their atomic power onto their rockets, then they will be considered a danger and the Earth will be eliminated. Barnhardt asks that Klaatu speak to some scientists that he will try to gather and Klaatu agrees to do so, as well as provide a harmless demonstration of power to prove his threat is real. The next night, as Helen and Tom are about to leave, Tom voices his suspicions about Klaatu, which Helen brushes off but causes her to ask Bobby not to spend too much time with him. That night, Klaatu sneaks off to the saucer, unaware that Bobby sees him and follows him and sees Klaatu signal the robot, Gort, to render the two guards unconscious, and then Klaatu enters the saucer. Bobby returns back to the house and when Helen and Tom return, Bobby tells them what he saw. Helen is skeptical but when Tom goes to see if Klaatu is in his room, he finds one of Klaatu’s diamonds and takes it, as his suspicions about Klaatu are growing. The next day, Klaatu goes to see Helen at her work, wanting to talk to her about what Bobby said. The two get into an elevator, just as the power goes out, and Klaatu says it will be out for the next 30 minutes. As Klaatu explains who he is to Helen, the whole world panics over the fact that the power is out everywhere, except for hospitals and planes in flight. Meanwhile, Tom had gone to a jeweler to get the diamond appraised and when he is told that it is like no diamond on Earth, he realizes that Carpenter is Klaatu and rushes back to his officer, telling his secretary to get the Pentagon on the phone for him. Helen goes to see Tom and when she realizes he is trying to contact the Pentagon to have them get Klaatu, she breaks up with him, then heads home to try and warn Klaatu, managing to leave with him before the army arrives. The army begins to close in on Klaatu and Helen and Klaatu, worrying about what Gort might do if something happens to him, teaches Helen the phrase “Klaatu Barada Nicto” and tells her to go to Gort and say that if anything happens. The military manages to box in the cab and Klaatu attempts to leave only to be shot and he tells Helen to get his message to Gort before he dies. At the park, Gort had been encased in a block of super strong plastic but he disintegrates it, then proceeds to do the same to the 2 guards. Helen approaches Gort, who turns his gaze on her and she manages to shout out the phrase before it attacks her, causing him to lower his visor and carry Helen into the saucer, then leave and head to the police station to retrieve Klaatu’s body. Gort is able to revive Klaatu but he admits to Helen that it is temporary and he has no idea how long it will last. Outside the saucer, Barnhardt is told that his meeting must be cancelled and he is in the process of telling his fellow scientists when the saucer opens and Klaatu and Gort emerge. Klaatu tells the assembled crowd that he belongs to an interplanetary organization that developed a race of super power robots to protect the peace, giving them absolute authority to deal with aggression. He tells them that the choice is simple, join them and live in peace, or continue on their present course and face obliteration. After giving a sad look goodbye to Helen, Klaatu and Gort enter the saucer and it takes off back into space.

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) has been well received by the critics, currently holding a certified fresh rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Socially minded yet entertaining, The Day the Earth Stood Still imparts its moral of peace and understanding without didacticism.” Some reference works state that George Reeves, who played Superman in Adventures Of Superman (1952), had a cameo as a glasses wearing reporter during one sequence but this was debunked by director Robert Wise and it is assumed that someone simply jumped to conclusions because the reporter was wearing glasses and roughly looked like Clark Kent. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $1.85 million domestically off of a $995,000 budget and would be considered one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time. In 1995, the movie would be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry and a remake starring Keanu Reeves was released in 2008.

This is a fantastic movie on several different levels. The acting was really good, with Michael Rennie doing a fantastic job as Klaatu, while Patricia Neal (Helen), Billy Gray (Bobby), and Sam Jaffe’s (Barnhardt) performances helped accentuate his character. The story was great on a couple of levels. For one, you got a different story involving a flying saucer coming to Earth, as the occupant did not want to take over the planet, but simply came with a message to promote peace. You also had the Cold War paranoia creeping into the film with everyone’s suspicions about the alien’s “true intentions”. The drama in Klaatu trying to get a better understanding of humanity and also his search to find someone that would be willing to believe him really helped drive this movie, as the drama and tension kept building in the last half hour once Klaatu had caused the power to go out all over the world. The only real special effects were mainly centered around Gort and his disintegrating items but the limited special effects helped as this movie needed to focus more on the story and not effects. Definitely one of those must-see classic sci-fi movies that should be on everyone’s bucket list of movies to watch.

Rating: 5 out of 5

drama, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

April 7th, 2019 Movie – Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956)

invasion of the body snatchers (1956)

As many of you reading this blog know, I do love some classic sci-fi movies. However, even though I have seen many of these movies, there are plenty of them that I don’t own. So this month I decided to watch and review some of those movies that have yet to make it into my collection and to start things off, let’s take a look at a movie that is on just about every must see list of sci-fi movies. Now a few years ago, I had reviewed  The Invasion, which is the most recent remake of today’s movie that I picked up during the Blockbuster days, but though I have seen every version of this movie, I never got around to picking any of them up. One of these days, I am going to rectify that but for now, let’s sit back and enjoy today’s movie, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956).

The plot: Late one night, psychiatrist is called to the emergency room of a California hospital, where Dr. Bassett hopes he would look at a man that was just brought in. As they approach the room, the man tries to break free from the police officers restraining him, saying he has to warn them before it is too late. As Dr. Hill calms the man down and says he will listen to him, the man says his name is Dr. Miles Bennell and begins explaining what led him there. Last Thursday, Miles had returned from a two week medical conference to his home in Santa Mira and was met by his secretary/nurse Sally Withers. As they make their way back to his office, Sally tells him that several towns folk had been by the office wanting to see him, including his ex Becky Driscoll, but wouldn’t say what was the reason. Later in his office, Becky stops by as Miles is about to leave for lunch and tells him her cousin Wilma thinks that her Uncle Ira is no longer her uncle, though Becky had been by to see him and says he looks the same as always. Later, after dealing with a terrified young boy who says his mother is not his mother, Miles decides to stop by and see Wilma. As he talks with her, Wilma says that the person she claims is not her Uncle Ira sounds like Ira and has all of his memories, but lacks any emotion. Miles thinks she might just be imagining things and suggests she talk to Dr. Dan Kauffman, his psychiatrist friend, and she agrees but says it won’t help as she knows there is nothing wrong with her. As Miles and Becky go to dinner, they run into Kauffman, who tells them that several other people have claimed similar ideas as Wilma and the boy over the past few weeks and he chalks it up to some sort of mass hysteria. Miles and Becky head into the restaurant but before they can order, Miles receives a call that his friend Jack Belicec needs him to come to his place right away so the two head off. When they get there, they find Jack and his wife Teddy waiting for them and Miles asks him what is the problem. Jack takes him inside and asks that he take a look at a body on his table, one that looks like an unfinished copy of Jack. Miles wonders if this has something to do with the panic that seems to have infected some of the townsfolk recently and asks Jack and Teddy to keep an eye on the body during the night and let him know if anything changes, then he leaves to take Becky home, where they see her father coming out of the basement. Back at the Belicec home, Teddy is staring at the body and sees that it has become an exact duplicate of Jack, even down to a recent cut on his hand, and she screams out for Jack and they quickly leave the house. The two head over to Miles’ house and tell him what happened and Miles calls Kauffman and asks him to come over. When Jack asks about Becky, Miles gets worried about her and heads for her house. He starts to ring the bell but changes his mind and sneaks down into the basement, where he finds a copy of Becky in a container. Miles quickly heads upstairs and grabs the sleeping Becky, taking her out of the house and back to his place. After telling Kauffman and the others what happened, Kauffman says that he wants to see one of these bodies but when they get to Jack’s place, they find the body is gone, as is the one in Becky’s basement. Kauffman doesn’t believe them about the bodies, saying that they are suffering the same hysteria that the others are suffering from. The next day, Miles sees that Wilma and the boy both seem to have changed their minds over what was bothering them, but that makes him more concerned. That night, as Miles, Becky, Jack, and Teddy are cooking at Miles house, Miles discovers 4 large seed pods in his greenhouse. As the 4 people watch the pods burst open, they realize that this is how the bodies must have appeared and Teddy says they don’t take full shape until the victims fall asleep. Leaving Jack and Teddy to watch the pods, Miles and Becky go inside to try and call for help only to be told that they can’t get a connection to any of the outside lines. Miles tells Jack and Teddy to get in the car and leave while he stays by the phone, in the hopes that nobody will realize they have left. When Miles is still unable to get an outside line, he decides to go and find a place to stay safe. Miles decides to try and head to Sally’s place but when they stop at the gas station to phone her, Miles notices the attendant closing his trunk and quickly leaves. After getting out of sight, he stops the car and opens the trunk to find two pods inside, and he quickly takes them out and lights them on fire before speeding off. Miles heads to Sallys’ but when he sees all of the cars there, he tells Becky to get behind the wheel and he goes in alone to see if it is safe. Looking in the window, he sees Sally, Becky’s father, and some others discussing placing a pod in the room of Sally’s baby and when Miles is noticed, they try to bring him inside but he escapes and jumps in the car with Becky as she drives off. The police are ordered to detain Miles and Becky, with roadblocks put in place to keep them from leaving town, so Miles and Becky manage to hide in his office, using caffeine pills to stay awake. The next morning, they see the bus arriving and people that get off are quickly picked up by the police and taken away. Then, three produce trucks filled with pods arrive at the town square, and Miles realizes that they are being taken to the neighboring towns so the invasion can spread. Not wanting to wait for Jack and Teddy to show up with help, Miles wants to leave when he hears Jack outside the door. Miles quickly opens the door to grab Jack and tells him the whole town is taken over when Kauffman steps in and says that Miles and Becky still haven’t been replaced. Miles and Becky try pleading to Jack and the others to let them leave but they are locked in a room until the fall asleep, while two pods are placed in the next room and looked after. Miles manages to cause a distraction and then use a sedative on Jack and Kauffman, while Becky sedates the police officer with them, then they quickly flee. Pretending to show no emotions, they attempt to make their way out of town but when a dog is almost hit by a truck, Becky screams out, bringing attention to themselves. As the townsfolk chase after them, Miles and Becky manage to make it out of the city and into the desert until Becky collapses from exhaustion and Miles carries her into a cave. The two manage to hide from their pursuers and after they are gone, Miles and Becky try to figure out what their next move should be. When they hear some singing coming from outside, Miles goes to investigate only to discover the singing was from the radio of another truck being loaded with pods nearby. Returning to the cave, he goes to find Becky and is worried that she had fallen asleep and when he kisses her, he realizes that she had been replaced. Miles runs from Becky and manages to reach the highway, where he is screaming at the passing cars for help and when he sees a transport truck filled with pods that is bound for Los Angeles and San Francisco, he starts yelling out “You’re next!” before the police arrive. Back in the present, Dr. Hill and Dr. Bassett find Miles’ story hard to believe but when a truck driver is brought into the emergency room, who was in an accident and buried under giant seed pods that he was carrying, Dr. Hill and Bassett realize that Miles was right and Hill quickly orders a roadblock preventing any traffic in or out of Santa Mira, then contacts the FBI.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956) was initially ignored by the critics, but has since become recognized as one of the most influential movies of it’s time, holding a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “One of the best political allegories of the 1950s, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is an efficient, chilling blend of sci-fi and horror.” Despite Kevin McCarthy and author Jack Finney’s denials that the story is a statement against McCarthyism and Communism, director Don Siegel says the political references were almost inescapable, though he tried not to emphasize them. The original movie had a bleaker ending, that of Miles running on the highway screaming “You’re next!” but the studio wanted a happier ending to the movie, resulting in the additional scenes added to the opening of Miles telling his story to the doctors, and the end where the doctors realize he was telling the truth and calling the FBI. The move was a box office success, earning $3 million off of a $416,911 budget and would spawn several remakes while becoming highly ranked among the most influential and must see movies of all time. In 1994, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956) was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry while the term “Pod People/Person” would become an everyday slang term for an emotionless person.

Every bit of praise that is directed towards this movie is honestly well deserved because this is a fantastic movie. The acting was pretty good, with Kevin McCarthy (Miles) and Dana Wynter (Becky) doing great jobs displaying the multitude of emotions that the stress of their situation dictated while being surrounded by the emotionless townspeople trying to replace them. The story was great, bringing a different take to the alien invasion theme that was popular at the time. While they aren’t overly blatant, the political Cold War comparisons are kind of hard to miss in this as well. The special effects were minimal in this movie, mainly consisting of a few scenes of the pods opening up to reveal the duplicates inside, as the movie focused more on a large amount of suspense building up to the climax to carry it through to amazing effect. Every bit the classic movie it is dubbed and a movie that is worth seeing.

Rating: 5 out of 5

action, drama, movie, movie review, sci-fi

March 17th, 2019 Movie – Deathsport




Continuing on with our trip through Shout Factory TV, I decided to take a stop on today’s movie. Now even though David Carradine had done some stuff before hand, pretty much everyone knows him from the TV show Kung-Fu. When the show ended, he had done Roger Corman’s Death Race 2000 to get back into the movie business. Following the cult success of that movie, a somewhat sequel was made and David Carradine would return to star in it. Now I will admit that I had never seen this movie until a few years ago, when I was watching movies Shout Factory TV during a bout of insomnia. Needless to say, I immediately recognized Corman’s style and absolutely enjoyed the ridiculous of it. So let’s strap in for today’s  movie, Deathsport.

The plot: A thousand years in the future, the Neutron Wars have decimated the Earth, leaving the planet with scattered city/states surrounded by vast desert wastelands. The few remaining machines are controlled by the people within the city/states, while the wastelands are home to cannibalistic mutants and Range Guides, nomadic warriors that hold no allegiance to any city/state. One day, a Range Guide, Kaz Oshay, is attacked by some soldiers led by Ankar Moor and after his capture, he is taken to Helix City. As Kaz is placed in a cell, Ankar Moor reports to Lord Ziporla, who chastises Ankar Moor for losing two of their valuable Death Machines, motorcycles armed with lasers, then tells him that he needs one more Range Guide, a female, to put into the Death Sport. Some time later, a caravan is being led through the wastelands by two female Range Guides, Denner and Adriann. When they hear the approaching Death Machines, Denner orders the caravan to dismount, telling her daughter Tara to stay with them. Denner and Adriann ride off to face the Death Machines but Adriann is killed and Denner is captured, while Tara, who had gone to help them, is captured by a group of mutants. Back in Helix City, Kay awakens in his cell and rages out at his unseen captors, receiving a shock from the door as punishment. Calming down, Kay sees Denner in her cell across the hall and after telepathically seeing Tara being captured, Kay says that he will help her find her once they escape. Denner thanks him and after saying that they have met before, she tells Kay that she was with his mother when she died. Meanwhile, Zirpola begins suffering from headaches and is told by Dr. Karl that he is suffering from a brain disease caused by radiation poisoning but Zirpola refuses to believe him and has Karl imprisoned in order to silence him. Karl is placed in the cell with Kay and Karl tells Kay why he is there and how Zirpola plans on going to war with Tritan, another city/state, for their fuel. At the same time, Karl’s son Marcus, who was part of the caravan Denner was leading, had been sent back to Helix by Ankar Moor’s men and when he learns of his father’s imprisonment, goes off to try and free him. Ankar Moor makes his way to the cells and questions Denner and Kay, who reveal that they know Ankar Moor as a disgraced Range Guide who lost his way and he taunts Kaz over the fact that he killed his mother. Sometime later, Marcus, disguised as a guard, attempts to free his father and is knocked out by Kaz, who kills the other guards and tries to escape with the other prisoners, only to be gassed by Ankar Moor. Kaz is taken away by Ankar Moor and tortured before being told he will die in the Deathsport in the morning, then thrown back into a cell with Denner, Karl, and Marcus. The next day, Kaz and Denner are sent out to face other prisoners, who are riding Death Machines, but they are able to kill most of their attackers, then grab to of the Death Machines to use in their escape. Zirpola orders more guards after them while he activates the mines on the battle field but an explosion ends up knocking out the force field around the arena, allowing Kaz and Denner to escape, with Karl and Marcus following them. Zirpola berates Ankar Moor for allowing them to escape and after Ankar Moor threatens him before agreeing to go after Kaz and the others for his own pleasure. After Ankar Moor leaves, Zirpola goes to torture one of his concubines but ends up being killed when she drags him into the stun rods he was using on her. When Ankar Moor learns of Zirpola’s death, he tells his men that he will assume control of Helix but they must first recapture Kaz and the others to show the rest of the citizens that there is no escaping from Deathsport. Kaz and the others manage to shake their pursuers and after discussing with Denner where Tara was taken, they tell Karl and Marcus that they will guide them to Tritan after they find the girl, then find a spot to take refuge for the night. The next day, they make their way to the cliffs where T was taken only to be ambushed by Ankar Moor and his men, who manage to kill Karl but Kaz and the others escape. Reaching the sand cliffs, Denner is able to sense what happened to Tara and leads the others to the mutants’ cave, unaware that Ankar Moor and his men have spotted them and are waiting for them to return. Inside the cave, Kaz and Denner are able to locate Tara and rescue her, fighting their way past the mutants as they make their escape. Outside, Kaz tells Denner to take Tara and Marcus, who was wounded by the mutants helping them escape, to Tritan while he deals with Ankar Moor and Denner tells him she will be waiting for him in Tritan. Kaz heads to a nearby fuel station, with Ankar Moor and his men following him, and once inside, Kaz uses the natural labyrinth to deal with Ankar Moor’s men, killing most of them. AS Denner and the others reach Tritan, Ankar Moor sends his remaining soldier back to Helix while he chooses to face Kaz on his own. The two men duel and Kaz wins by decapitating Ankar Moor, after which Denner and Tara ride up on horses, bringing one for Kaz, and say that they want to stay with him. Kaz agrees and after mounting his horse, the Range Guides ride off together.

This lacked a lot of the charm that Death Race 2000 had, which might be why this is not an official sequel, but it still had some entertaining moments to it. The acting was ok, with David Carradine doing a decent job as Kaz, while Claudia Jennings, who tragically died shortly after the movie was released, was just as good as Denner. I also like Richard Lynch (Ankar Moor), but honestly felt like he was nothing more than a poor man’s Rutger Hauer during the entire movie. The story was interesting but honestly felt somewhat incomplete, with a lot of plot lines thrown in to try and explain people’s motivations but half the time they didn’t seem necessary. Case in point, the whole aspect of Zirpola’s brain disease didn’t really seem necessary, as he could have simply had Karl thrown in prison just for disagreeing with him about the war with Tritan. The special effects were kind of laughable, which is what adds to the enjoyment of this type of movie. It’s not a great movie but is a fun watch for anyone that is a fan of B-movies.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

drama, movie, movie review, sports

November 4th, 2018 Movie – Rudy


“Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!” Do you know how sick I got of hearing that chant over the years. Ever since this movie came out, that chant would start up sometimes at sporting events, and later anytime there was any sort of an underdog situation. The chant pretty much became a meme, even before memes were a thing. That is one of the reasons that I never saw this movie, the other being that I honestly didn’t really care about it. However, Vudu thinks that I should give this movie a shot so let’s go ahead and have our feel good moment as I watch today’s movie, Rudy.

The plot: Young Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger is growing up in Joilet, Il and tells his family that he plans on playing football for Notre Dame when he graduates high school but his family and friends tease him about it due to his small stature. As Rudy finishes his senior year in high school, he tries to get on the bus for students wanting to attend Notre Dame but his teacher stops him and tells him he doesn’t have the grades for it. 4 years later, Rudy has taken a job at the steel mill where his dad, Daniel, his brother, Frank, and his best friend, Pete, all work. Pete gives Rudy a Notre Dame jacket for his 22nd birthday and Rudy thanks him for being the only person that believed in his dream. Rudy has $1000 saved up to get into Notre Dame but his girlfriend Sherry wants him to use it for a down payment on a house. That night, as Rudy and Pete are in a bar with the other workers, Frank teases Rudy about his constant dreaming and Pete tells him that if he had half of Rudy’s heart, he would have been a better football player, causing a fight to break out between them. The next day, an accident occurs at the mill and Pete is killed in an explosion. At the funeral, Rudy tells Sherry that he has to go to South Bend, or else he will never leave and she tells him that he will have to go alone. As Rudy waits for the bus, Daniel shows up and tries to talk him out of it, telling him of their families history, but when he tries to tell him to be more like Frank, Rudy tells him that he isn’t Frank and gets on the bus. When he arrives at Notre Dame, he asks the security guard to see someone about enrolling and the guard has him meet with Father Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh thinks Rudy is there to become a priest but when Rudy explains that he wants to go to school there but his grades aren’t high enough, Cavanaugh tells him that he will help him get into Holy Cross College, the nearby junior college, for one semester and if he is able to keep his grades up, he may be able to transfer. Later, Rudy sneaks onto the football field but is confronted by Fortune, the groundskeeper, tells him he shouldn’t be there and when Rudy he plans on playing there, Fortune tells him to talk to the coach. Rudy goes to see Coach Ara Parseghian and tells him of his desire to play for the team but Parseghian dismisses him, thinking that he won’t see him again. Rudy begins attending his classes at Holy Cross and meets D-Bob, a graduate student at Notre Dame who is a teaching assistant at Holy Cross. D-Bob tells Rudy that he can help him with his studies and get his grades up, as he is a tutor, in exchange for Rudy’s help in meeting some of the girls on the campus and Rudy agrees. Later, Rudy goes back to the stadium and talks with Fortune about working for him, offering to do it for free, and Fortune refuses at first but when Rudy tells him that he just wants to be a part of the university, Fortune agrees to hire him at minimum wage. As time passes, D-Bob has Rudy tested and it is discovered that he dyslexia, which is why he did so bad in school. Rudy starts doing exercises and gets an A in a literature exam, which he happily shares with Fortune. As they get ready for work, Rudy notices the cot in Fortune’s office and he unlocks the window so he can sneak in and sleep on it, as he is homeless, but Fortune notices him and chooses not to say anything. Rudy continues to attend classes and do anything he can to get close to and be a part of the team. One night, Rudy finds a blanket and a key to the office on the cot and he thanks Fortune for them the next day but Fortune denies knowing anything about it. After finishing his first semester at college, Rudy applies for a transfer to Notre Dame but is rejected. Despite the rejection, Rudy goes home for the Christmas holiday and shows his dad his report card, and tells him that he didn’t get in this year but he will next year. Frank scoffs at his continued dreams and when their brother John shows up with Sherry, Frank tauntingly tells John to wish Rudy a Merry Christmas. John and Sherry both try to explain things to Rudy but he gets upset and leaves, heading back to South Bend. As the semesters pass, Rudy is rejected each time and he starts to feel discouraged that he will never make it into Notre Dame but on his last semester of transfer eligibility, he receives a letter saying that he has been accepted to Notre Dame. Rudy goes home and shows his father the acceptance letter, who is happy for him and announces it to everyone at the steel mill. Rudy heads back to South Bend and tries out for the team as a walk on, but the assistant coach warns all of the players that there are 95 scholarship athletes but only 60 students will be on the field so at least 35 of them will be watching from the stands. Rudy goes through the drills and he impresses the coaches enough with his drive and heart to make it onto the team. Rudy goes to see Fortune and thanks him for his help the past few years and reminds him of his promise to watch his first game if Rudy dresses out for the game and Fortune says that he will be there if it happens. As Rudy practices with the team, some of the other players criticize him for his trying too hard and tell him to dial it down but Rudy refuses to do it. When he makes a visit home, his father and John both congratulate him on making the team but Frank mocks him by saying they never see him when they watch the games on TV, a dig at Rudy just being on the practice squad. Rudy goes to see Parseghian about being able to dress out for one of the games and Parseghian agrees to let Rudy dress out during his senior year. Rudy is excited and calls his dad to let him know but as the Spring semester starts, Parseghian quits and former Green Bay Packers coach Dan Devine becomes the new head coach. D-Bob leaves town and tells Rudy that he will fly back to watch him when he dresses out and tells him not to lose hope but as the weeks go by and Rudy doesn’t see his name on the list, he begins to feel more and more dejected. At the next to last home game approaches and Rudy finds his name on the list, Rudy decides to quit the team. Fortune sees him in the stadium instead of on the practice field and when Rudy tells him that he quit, Fortune chastises him for the decision. Fortune then reveals that he never watched a game from the stands but he did watch from the bench when he was a player but he quit the team because he felt he wasn’t getting enough playing time due to his skin color, and tells Rudy not to make the same regretful choice he did. Rudy returns to the practice field, prompting his teammates to begin applauding him, much to Devine’s confusion. Later, most of the starting players tell Devine that the want Rudy to dress out in their place, laying their jerseys down on his desk in a show of Solidarity for Rudy. Devine relents and when Rudy is told the news that he will be dressing out for the game against Georgia Tech, he calls Frank and begs him to bring the family to the stadium to watch him be on the team. On game day, the team captain has Rudy lead them out of the tunnel and Rudy’s family, as well as D-Bob and his wife, cheer when they see Rudy, while Fortune smile as he watches from inside the tunnel. The game commences and as Notre Dame seems poised for victory, Devine refuses to put Rudy in the game. The players on the sideline start chanting Rudy’s name, which is picked up by the fans in the stands. With less than a minute to play, Devine orders the offence to go into victory formation but O’Hara, the tailback, refuses to do that and convinces the quarterback that they need to score quickly so Rudy has a chance to get on the field. Notre Dame scores and Rudy is sent out onto the field as part of the kick off team. With 7 seconds left to play, Rudy is left on the field for the last play and ends up sacking the quarterback. Rudy is carried off the field on his team’s shoulders and a post credits writing reveals that nobody has been carried off the field on their teammates shoulders since (though it has happened since the move came out). Rudy graduated from Notre Dame in 1976 and his younger brothers all ended up going to college and graduating.

Rudy received mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though undeniably sentimental and predictable, Rudy succeeds with an uplifting spirit and determination.” In the movie, Rudy is portrayed as having largely gone into the steel industry after graduating high school. In reality, he served four years in the U.S. Navy as a yeoman on a communications ship, which is never mentioned, however the military duffel bag he carries in numerous scenes is stenciled with his name and “U.S.N.”. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $22.8 million off of a $12 million budget.

Ok, I think it is a bit over-hyped but I will admit that this is a good movie. The acting was good, with Sean Astin doing a great job as the title character, with Ned Beatty (Daniel), Charles S. Dutton (Fortune), and Jon Favreau (D-Bob) also doing good jobs in their roles. The story was very well written and even though it didn’t match exactly with the real events, they still managed to convey all of the emotions that Rudy went through in his quest to follow his dream. The drama involved was well done, as you felt Rudy’s constant excitement (which could be a bit sickening at times), as well as his depression and frustration as the setbacks continually pile on him. So it is a good movie and worth watching (but I still would have been fine not watching it).

Rating: 4 out of 5

drama, fantasy, movie, movie review, romance

October 15th, 2018 Movie – Ghost


Ok, another movie from the free gift collection. Once again, I have a movie that is not something I would have sought out and bought on my own, but this time I have a movie that I have seen before. This is due to my mom, who is a huge Patrick Swayze fan, and her renting many of his movies while I was a child. Now I remember seeing this movie back in the day and the main thing I remembered from it, aside from the potter’s wheel scene that has been parodied over and over again, was the shadow demons that dragged people to Hell. Now, I was a teenager when I first saw this movie and really didn’t think much of it. Let’s see if some growing up on my part will change things as I watch today’s movie, Ghost.

The plot: Sam Wheat and his girlfriend Molly Jensen buy and renovate an old apartment building to live in, with Sam’s friend and coworker Carl Bruner helping them out. As the renovations progress and they move into the building, Sam is worried as he says that every time things start looking up for him, something happens to ruin it. A few days later, Sam is at his office going over several accounts that he manages and notices that several of them have more money in them then he should. He tells Carl about this and Carl offers to help Sam look into it but Sam declines the offer, choosing to tackle it himself. That night, Sam and Molly go to the theater to see Macbeth and as they are walking home, Molly tells Sam that she wants to marry him but as they discuss it, they see someone stepping out of the shadows of a nearby alley and decide to keep walking. The man follows them and as Sam turns to confront them, the man pulls a gun on him and demands his wallet. Molly tells Sam to give him the wallet but when the mugger strikes her, Sam starts struggling with him while Molly calls out for help. After a while, the mugger runs off and Sam chases him for a little but when he returns to Molly, he finds her kneeling down cradling his body. As some people come to help her, they pass right through Sam and he sees a light shining down from the sky close by him but Sam hears Molly crying out not to leave her and he walks away from the light and towards her. Sam follows Molly to the hospital and as she goes to speak with the police about what happened, Sam is approached by an old man. The old man starts speaking to Sam, who is shocked that he can see him, and the old man reveals himself to be a ghost, like Sam is, and starts to explain things to him when they see a commotion in another operating room and the old man says that the patient won’t make it and as they watch, they see the light that Sam saw earlier shine on the patient and his spirit moves out of his body and is absorbed into the light. A funeral is held for Sam and afterwards, Molly is still depressed over his death, talking to him as if he is there, unaware that Sam’s ghost is watching her. Some time later, Molly and Carl are going through Sam’s things and Carl convinces her to get out of the house for a little bit. Sam tries to follow after them but is nervous about going through objects, when he hears someone putting a key into the lock. Sam backs away from the door, thinking it is Molly coming back, but is shocked to see it is the mugger. An enraged Sam tries to attack the mugger but is unable to touch him as the mugger begins searching the apartment for something. When Molly returns, the mugger ducks out of sight, then moves towards the bedroom to attack her but Sam is able to frighten the cat, as it can sense him, into attacking the mugger, causing him to run off. Sam decides to follow the mugger as he heads to the subway and boards a train but as Sam is on the train with the mugger, another ghost sees him and quickly approaches Sam, grabbing him and throwing him out of the car. The ghost then breaks the window, shocking Sam, and tells him that it is his train and to go somewhere else. Sam continues following the mugger to his apartment, where he learns the mugger’s name is Willy Lopez, and watches as Willy makes a call, telling the person on the other end that he couldn’t get what he was after but he will try again in a couple of days. Feeling helpless to protect Molly, Sam wanders the streets on his way back to the apartment when he sees a shop for Oda Mae Brown, a self proclaimed psychic, and he heads inside, only to find that Oda Mae is a fraud. Sam starts laughing about her scam when Oda Mae suddenly starts hearing him, shocking Sam. After causing Oda Mae to scare off her customer, Sam starts talking to Oda Mae and convinces her to call Molly and warn her about Willy. Oda Mae reluctantly agrees and calls Molly but when she tells her that she has a message from Sam, Molly hangs up. Sam tells Oda Mae to go see her, singing all night when she refuses, and Oda Mae heads over to the apartment. When Molly refuses to see her, Oda Mae starts yelling out things that only Sam would know, convincing Molly that she is telling the truth. Molly is still skeptical about the whole deal, thinking Oda Mae is using people’s grief to play a trick on them but when Oda Mae says that Sam says “ditto”, which is how he always responded when she said that she loved him, Molly realizes she is telling the truth. Sam has Oda Mae tell Molly about Willy and how he it wasn’t a random mugging and that he was murdered but when Oda Mae learns that Willy lives in her neighborhood, she gets scared and refuses to help anymore. Molly goes to see Carl and tells him about what Oda Mae said regarding Sam and Willy and Carl is skeptical but he says he will check it out. Sam follows Carl as he heads to Willy’s apartment but is shocked to learn that Carl knows Willy. Sam learns that Carl is laundering money for drug dealers and has $4 million that he needs to transfer to a fake account or else the dealers will kill him, which is why he wanted Willy to steal Sam’s address book which has all of his account passwords for work, as Sam had changed them before he died. Molly goes to the police and tells them about what Sam told her through Oda Mae but they don’t have a record on Willy but do have one on Oda Mae, as she has been charged. While Molly is out, Carl sneaks into her place and steals the address book and heads back to work, where he proceeds to call the dealer and is told to transfer the money to a single account under the name Rita Miller, all of which Sam sees. That night, Carl heads over to Molly’s place and attempts to seduce her but as he moves to kiss her, Sam leaps at them and ends up knocking a picture off the nearby table, causing Molly to stop Carl. Realizing there might be a way to stop Carl and Willy, Sam heads to the subway and searches for the ghost he encountered earlier and begs him to teach him how to interact with objects. After trying to get rid of Sam, the ghost eventually agrees to teach him, revealing that Sam’s problem is that he keeps thinking he is real and needs to focus with his mind. Sam is eventually able to interact with objects and heads over to see Oda Mae, only to discover that there are several ghosts in there with him. When Sam tries talking to her, Oda Mae yells at him about the ghosts all coming to see her now when one of the ghosts possesses her in order to talk to his dead wife. Oda MAe eventually kicks the ghost out of her and when the ghost complains about not being able to move, another ghost comments on possessing someone draining all of their energy. Oda Mae kicks everyone out of the room but as she goes to sit down, Willy shows up. Sam shouts out a warning to Oda Mae and she ducks into her trick closet while Willy shoots up the place, then leaves. Sam tells Oda Mae that they will come after her again but he knows how to get them to stop and she agrees to help in order to keep herself and her sisters safe. The next day, Sam has Rita dress in a nice outfit and use some of her fake ID’s to pretend to be Rita Miller and close out the account before Carl can transfer the money to a bank in Nassau. As they are finishing, Molly enters the bank to have lunch with Carl and Sam uses his abilities to knock some papers off the desk to distract her but Molly still notices her and questions the banker about what she was doing there. After they leave the bank, Oda Mae starts trying to figure out how to spend the money but Sam tells her that he never said she could keep the money and convinces her to sign it over to a charity. Meanwhile, Carl tries to transfer the money only to find that the account is closed and as he tries to figure out what happened, Sam starts taunting him, typing out “Murderer” and “Sam” on the computer. Carl heads over to Molly’s place to ask her about what happened when she thought Sam was there and Molly says it doesn’t matter as Oda Mae was a fraud and had closed out an account at the bank. Realizing what happened, Carl fakes being sick and asks Molly for some medicine. When she leaves, Sam starts taunting Carl but he threatens to kill Molly unless Oda Mae brings the check back to Molly’s place by 11 that night, then rushes off. Sam heads to Oda Mae’s place to warn her and when Carl and Willy show up, Oda Mae and her sisters quickly tun and hide in another apartment. Carl and Willy enter Oda Mae’s apartment and finding them not there, start searching for them but Sam uses his powers to frighten Willy, who eventually ends up being struck by a car. As Willy’s spirit recovers and stares at his body, Sam calls out to him and tells him he is dead. Suddenly, shadowy beings appear and grab Willy, dragging him screaming down to Hell. Sam and Oda Mae head back to Molly’s to warn her and when she refuses to open the door for them, Sam tells Oda Mae to puch a penny under the door and he makes it slide up the door and float over to Molly, convincing her that Sam really is there. Molly calls the police and asks them to show up and then talks with Sam through Oda Mae when Oda Mae tells Sam he can use her body to interact with Molly. Sam possesses Oda Mae and he and Molly share a dance but when Carl shows up and starts banging on the door, the surprise shocks Sam out of Oda Mae. Sam is too weak to move and Oda Mae tells Molly they should escape out the fire escape as Carl shoots out the lock and chases after them. He manages to catch up to them and grabs Oda Mae, threatening to shoot her if she doesn’t give him the check but she tells him she gave it away. Sam arrives and knocks the gun from Carl’s hand but he grabs it and threatens to kill Molly but Sam knocks the gun away again. Carl attempts to escape but Sam continues attacking him and when Carl throws a hook on a rope at Sam, the hook swings back and shatters a window, with one of the shards impaling Carl. Carl’s spirit leaves his body and as he stares at Sam, the shadow beings appear and drag him to hell. Sam asks Oda Mae and Molly if they are all right and Molly can hear Sam now, as the light appears and Sam is revealed to both of them. Sam kisses Molly and when Oda Mae says it is time he goes home, he thanks her for her help, then tells Molly he loves her before walking into the light.

Ghost met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Ghost offers viewers a poignant romance while blending elements of comedy, horror, and mystery, all adding up to one of the more enduringly watchable hits of its era.” Molly tells Sam that he “leads a charmed life”. This is a line from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Macbeth also claims to lead a charmed life, meaning he cannot be killed. Immediately after making this claim, however, he is killed while Sam is killed after seeing a production of Macbeth. The movie was a massive hit at the box office, earning $505.7 million off of a $22 million budget and was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, winning the awards for Best Supporting Actress (Whoopi Goldberg) and Best Original Screenplay.

Well, this still isn’t something I would watch on a regular basis but I will admit that it was a good movie. The acting was good, with Patrick Swayze (Sam) and Demi Moore (Molly) doing good jobs in their roles but Whoopi Goldberg pretty much stole the show as Oda Mae. I also liked Tony Goldwyn (Carl) as his desperate antics to get the money actually made him an effective bad guy. The story was pretty decent, mixing a good amount of drama with some comedy aspects to keep it from being too depressing. One thing I didn’t particularly care for is that the were too obvious at times in setting something up. Case in point, when Sam is working on figuring out where the deposits were coming from, Carl offers to help and when Sam refuses the help, Carl asks what he and Molly are doing that night. About the only way you could have made it more obvious that something was going to happen and Carl was involved was if you had a giant, flashing, neon sign saying “MAIN BAD GUY” floating over his head. The special effects with the ghosts were pretty neat in how they kind of absorbed the properties of what they were moving through. However, there were some times where the blue screening between the ghosts and the living was a little off, making it look really fake. Definitely one of the more memorable romance/dramas to come out in the last couple of decades and one that is worth watching if you get the chance.

Rating: 4 out of 5

drama, movie, movie review, sports

October 12th, 2018 Movie – Cinderella Man

cinderella man

Another free movie that I own through the ultraviolet account, though for a while I used to own the actual DVD. See, years ago I would loan out movies to my brothers every now and then. One day, my brother Blake borrowed Saved from me and then ended up getting it stuck in a DVD player that no longer worked. Needless to say, I was not too happy about that but Blake offered to let me have his favorite movie, Cinderella Man, until he got my movie back to me. I accepted his deal, thinking he would try to get my movie back to me as soon as possible but I was wrong because it took several years before I finally got my movie back. So I found it very funny that I ended up with my own copy shortly after he finally got his copy back. Now let’s see if it is any good.

The plot: [was watching the movie but also dealing with some rambunctious nieces so I couldn’t really do the plot review like I normally would so I just copied the one from Wikipedia]

James J. Braddock is an Irish-American boxer from New Jersey, formerly a light heavyweight contender, who is forced to give up boxing after breaking his hand in the ring. This is both a relief and a burden to his wife, Mae. She cannot bring herself to watch the violence of his chosen profession, yet she knows they will not have enough income without his boxing. As the United States enters the Great Depression, Braddock does manual labor as a longshoreman to support his family, even with his injured hand. Unfortunately, he cannot get work every day. Thanks to a last-minute cancellation by another boxer, Braddock’s longtime manager and friend, Joe Gould, offers him a chance to fill in for just one night and earn cash. The fight is against the number-two contender in the world, Corn Griffin. Braddock stuns the boxing experts and fans with a third-round knockout of his formidable opponent. He believes that while his right hand was broken, he became more proficient with his left hand, improving his in-ring ability. Despite Mae’s objections, Braddock takes up Gould’s offer to return to the ring. Mae resents this attempt by Gould to profit from her husband’s dangerous livelihood, until she discovers that Gould and his wife also have been devastated by hard times. With a shot at the heavyweight championship held by Max Baer a possibility, Braddock continues to win. Out of a sense of pride, he uses a portion of his prize money to pay back money to the government given to him while unemployed. When his rags to riches story gets out, the sportswriter Damon Runyon dubs him “The Cinderella Man”, and before long Braddock comes to represent the hopes and aspirations of the American public struggling with the Depression. A title fight against Baer comes his way. Braddock is a 10-to-1 underdog. Mae is terrified because Baer, the champ, is a vicious man who reportedly has killed at least two men in the ring. He is so destructive that the fight’s promoter, James Johnston, forces both Braddock and Gould to watch a film of Baer in action, just so he can maintain later that he warned them what Braddock was up against. Braddock demonstrates no fear. The arrogant Baer attempts to intimidate him, even taunting Mae in public that her man might not survive. When he says this, she becomes so angry that she throws a drink at him. She is unable to attend the fight at the Madison Square Garden Bowl or even to listen to it on the radio. On June 13, 1935, in one of the greatest upsets in boxing history, Braddock defeats the seemingly invincible Baer to become the heavyweight champion of the world. An epilogue reveals that Braddock would lose his title to Joe Louis and later worked on the building of the Verrazano Bridge, owning and operating heavy machinery on the docks where he worked during the Depression, and that he and Mae used his boxing income to buy a house, where they spent the rest of their lives.

Cinderella Man met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “With grittiness and an evocative sense of time and place, Cinderella Man is a powerful underdog story. And Ron Howard and Russell Crowe prove to be a solid combination.” Rosemarie DeWitt, who plays the neighbor Sara Wilson, is the granddaughter of the real Jimmy Braddock. She is the daughter of his daughter Rosemarie, who is portrayed by Ariel Waller in the film. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $108.5 million off of an $88 million budget, and earned 3 Academy Award nominations.

So, while I don’t mind watching sports movies, I will admit that they are generally not my preferred genre of films. And when it comes to boxing movies, I don’t usually care about them one way or another. That being said, this was a pretty good movie. I thought the acting was pretty good, with Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger doing good jobs in their roles as Jimmy and Mae respectively. I also liked Paul Giamatti (Gould) and thought he did deserve the Oscar nod for his role as Joe Gould, while Craig Bierko (Baer) did a pretty good job as the foil to highlight Braddock’s rise to glory. The story was pretty good, especially since it was based on real events. I thought Ron Howard did a good job in showcasing the hope that people had that their lives can get better; which was something that the average person was truly desperate to cling too during the Great Depression. The drama in the movie had a very real feel to it, which made the story telling even better, while the fight scenes during the boxing matches were well choreographed to add to the mix. A good movie and one that is well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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October 7th, 2018 Movie – The Babadook

the babadook

Now we come to one of the movies that was an actual gift from a friend. Now I will admit that I had not seen this movie before it was given to me but I had heard of it. Well…that’s not entirely true. I have seen a scene from this movie on the internet several times over the years. See, one of the more famous memes on the internet, which tends to get edited to match any situation that it can fit, is from this movie. So anytime you see the meme of the mother turning around in the car and yelling at her kid to be normal, and the kid is sitting there screaming, that is from today’s movie, The Babadook. Now, let’s see if the rest of the movie is as memorable.

The plot: Amelia Vanek is woken from a nightmare by her son Samuel coming into her room, worried about a monster. After searching his room and finding nothing there, she reads to him in her bed and he promises to kill the monster when he sees it. In the morning, Amelia is woken by a loud noise and she heads downstairs to find Samuel practicing with the weapon he had made. Amelia gets Samuel dressed and takes him to school while she goes to work but she is soon called back to his school, as he brought one of his weapons to school with him. After leaving the school, the go to the market before heading to the park, where they meet up with Amelia’s sister Claire and her daughter Ruby. While the kids play, Claire tells Amelia that Ruby changed her mind about what sort of birthday party she wants, as she doesn’t want Samuel there and Amelia takes offence but tries to not show it. After Samuel gives them a scare by climbing to the top of the swing set, Amelia takes him home, speaking with their neighbor Mrs. Roach when they get there. That night, Samuel wants Amelia to read him a book called Mister Babadook and as she reads the story, Samuel becomes convinced that the Babadook is the monster he keeps seeing. Amelia over sleeps the next morning and after sending Samuel to stay with Claire, she heads off to work, where a coworker named Robbie starts flirting with her. When Amelia’s shift ends, she finds that she has 10 missed calls from Claire and rushes there to find Samuel sitting in the driveway. Claire says that Samuel has been scaring Ruby with all of his talk about the Babadook and when Amelia goes to admonish him, he throws a firecracker at her feet. When they get home, Amelia begins cooking dinner but gets upset when she finds that Samuel had grabbed the key to the basement and gone down there, as that is where she is keeping her late husband’s things. During dinner, Amelia finds a shard of glass in her soup and when she check’s Samuel’s and finds nothing, he tells her the Babadook did it. Later that night, Samuel sees something in his wardrobe and pulls it down, scaring Amelia when it hits the floor. When Amelia goes to check on him, she finds him hiding under his bed, repeatedly saying “Don’t let it in”, and after calming him down, she takes the book and rips the pages up before throwing it away. Amelia goes to bed but she starts hearing strange sounds like the door opening. The next day, they head to Ruby’s birthday party and as Claire and some of the other mothers are talking, Amelia mocks their rough lives compared to those of a single mother. Later, Claire and Amelia are talking alone and when Amelia comments about how Claire never comes around their home, Claire tells her that it’s because she can’t stand Samuel. Meanwhile, Samuel is sitting in Ruby’s tree house while all of the other girls are watching the clown. Ruby confronts him and teases him about not having a dad and Samuel pushes her out of the tree house, causing her to fall and break her nose. Amelia takes Samuel home and as they are driving, he is constantly screaming for her attention, then starts yelling at something next to him to get out, before suddenly he starts having seizures. Amelia takes him to the doctor and as she speaks with him, she begs him for some sedatives to help Samuel sleep at night. The next day, Amelia is woken up by a knocking on the door and when she looks outside, she finds the Babadook book sitting on the doorstep. Amelia takes it inside and finds all of the ripped pages have been repaired, but some of the pictures have changed, showing herself being infected by the Babadook and killing their dog, Samuel, and herself. Amelia burns the book, thinking that will be the end of it, but she receives a phone call, with the voice on the other end saying “Ba-ba-dook-Dook-DOOK!”. Amelia goes to talk to the police and report a stalker but while they don’t seem inclined to believe her, she notices the Babadook’s hat, coat, and gloves hanging from a coat hook behind the desk and she quickly leaves. Amelia begins having more hallucinations, just as some people from the Department of Community Services show up to check on her pulling Samuel from his school. That night, Amelia is in bed when she hears a scratching at the bedroom door, just before it opens and something shuffles inside. Amelia hides under the covers but when she peaks out, she sees the Babadook on the ceiling and it lunges towards her. Amelia begins having more and more hallucinations and finds herself becoming withdrawn and isolated, taking her frustrations out on Samuel by yelling at him for disobeying her. After going out for lunch one day, Amelia sees bugs crawling all over her before hearing the Babadook clawing at the car and calling out, causing her to get in a wreck. As Amelia’s mood continues to deteriorate, she begins getting angrier at Samuel, using a knife to cut the phone line when he tried calling their neighbor and then brandishing it at him moments later. That night, Amelia has a hallucination of her husband oskar and as she embraces him, he asks her to give him the boy, revealing it is really the Babadook. Amelia attempts to flee from it but the it ends up catching up to her and possessing her. Later that night, Amelia is sitting in the chair watching TV, with a frightened Samuel watching her from the top of the steps when their dog Bugsy races down the steps and begins barking at her. Amelia grabs Bugsy, killing him by breaking it’s neck, then proceeds to pull out one of her own teeth. Amelia then heads upstairs after Samuel. Banging on the door to her bedroom, Amelia manages to break the door down, causing Samuel to wet himself. As Amelia begins taunting Samuel, he realizes that it isn’t his mom and runs for his room, using his weapons to try and knock her unconscious. He is unsuccessful at first and manages to hide while the possessed Amelia goes to the door to alleviate Mrs. Roach’s concerns, as she had knocked on the door after hearing all of the screaming. Samuel finds Bugsy’s body and as Amelia approaches him, he apologizes to his mom before stabbing her in the leg with the kitchen knife. Amelia pulls the knife from her leg and chases after him into the basement but Samuel uses his traps to knock her out. When Amelia regains consciousness, she finds herself tied to the floor, with Samuel saying he won’t leave her and telling her she has to get the Babadook out of her. Amelia gets free and manages to grab Samuel and start choking him but she lets him go, then begins puking out a black goo, indicating she is getting rid of the Babadook. Samuel unties her and they head back upstairs but Samuel says that they can’t get rid of the Babadook. Suddenly, an unseen force grabs Samuel and drags him upstairs to Amelia’s bedroom and Amelia chases after him and rescues him. The Babadook taunts Amelia with the death of her husband again but this enrages Amelia and she begins screaming out at the Babadook, eventually causing it to shrink down and flee into the basement. Amelia then locks the door and embraces Samuel before taking him over to the couch, where they finally get some sleep. Some time later, Samuel and Amelia are both doing better, as Amelia is more attentive to Samuel and supportive of his weapons and magic tricks. Amelia and Samuel collect earthworms from the garden and feed them to the Babadook, which the keep in the basement as they won’t be able to get rid of it.

The Babadook was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Babadook relies on real horror rather than cheap jump scares — and boasts a heartfelt, genuinely moving story to boot.” The movie had a campaign where you could buy a limited edition version of the pop-up book, signed by Director Jennifer Kent, and containing additional pages not seen in the movie. The movie wasn’t a big success in Australia at first but after a strong reception at the Sundance Festival, it garnered more interest in other markets, earning $7.5 million off of a $2 million budget.

When the director of The Exorcist says, “”I’ve never seen a more terrifying film than The Babadook”, you know that you have some high expectations to fill. Now, I don’t know if I can quite say it met those expectations but this did do a great job trying to do so. This is an incredible movie and one that deserves the hype it received. The acting was good, with Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman doing great jobs as Amelia and Samuel respectively. The story was fantastic, playing on the age old fear that little kids have about monsters hiding in their rooms or in the dark. The aspect of Amelia trying to deal with Samuel’s trauma really ramped up the drama and that, coupled with the subdued color scheme, made the actual scares that much more impressive. The special effects were pretty decent and the design and animation for the Babadook worked well with the movie. A great horror movie that shows the audience that you can produce the scares without the blood and gore.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

drama, movie, movie review

October 6th, 2018 Movie – Away From Her


This right here is an example of one of the random movies that were “gifted” to me when I signed up for my digital movie accounts. This is not something I would normally watch on my own, much less buy. Does this mean that there is anything wrong with this movie? Not at all. It is just not something that would have caught my interest. So I have no idea what this movie is about or anything at all about it. I don’t even recall seeing any trailers or anything for this movie. So let’s see what all I am in for as I watch Away From Her.

The plot: Grant and Fiona Anderson have been married for 44 years and are happily retired and living in Brant County, Ontario, Canada. Fiona has been having lapses in her memory that have been getting worse and as the consult her doctor, who runs some tests to see if she is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Receiving some information about a nursing home called Meadowlake, Grant heads there to inspect the facilities and is shown around the place, feeling very depressed when he sees the 2nd floor ward that houses the patients with advanced cases. As the facility administrator Madeleine Montpellier goes over the admission policies with Grant, he is shocked to learn that they have a 30 day no visitor policy for new patients, which upsets Grant as they have never been apart from each other for that long a time. Grant tells her that his wife won’t be going to their facility but takes the forms with him just in case. Some time later, after Fiona has a scare where she forgot where she lived and ended up wandering the street, she sees the papers and tells Grant that it is for the best that she goes, telling him 30 days won’t be so bad. As they drive to the facility, Fiona talks about Grant’s past infidelities while he was a university professor but unlike his colleagues, they managed to stay together. When they get to the facility, Fiona is shown to her room and Grant asks for some time to say goodbye. They end up making love and as they lay in bed together, Fiona tells Grant it is time for him to go. Grant leaves but stops to talk with Kristy, the head nurse, and voice some of his concerns over the situation. Grant leaves after Madeleine hands him a note from Fiona, telling him that she loves him, and he patiently waits out the 30 days, calling Kristy to speak with her about how Fiona is doing. When the 30 days are up, Grant goes to visit Fiona and finds that she doesn’t remember him at all. As he watches her, he notices she has grown close to another patient named Aubrey, a mute man in a wheelchair. Kristy sees him staring and mentions that patients sometimes latch onto each other as a form of coping with their disease but tells him to be patient and she will remember him. Grant continues to go see Fiona and is forced to watch as she spends all her time with Aubrey. As he talks with Kristy about it, he begins to wonder if Fiona is faking her disease and enacting some sort of punishment on him for his past infidelities. One day, Grant shows up to find Fiona and Aubrey embracing and crying in her room and he learns that Aubrey’s wife is taking him out of the home. Fiona begins falling into a depression and as her condition worsens, Madeleine tells Grant they may have to admit her to the second floor if she doesn’t improve. Grant does his best to try and cheer up Fiona and get her motivated, even taking her back to their house, hoping that it will trigger her memories about him, but it is no good. Grant gets Aubrey’s address and goes to see his wife Marian, trying to explain the situation to her and seeing if she would let Aubrey go to visit Fiona but Marian refuses, not knowing if anything happened between Aubrey and Fiona but not wanting to upset him by bringing him to see her. As the days go by, Grant and Marian end up getting closer, with Grant continuing to ask her to let Fiona see Aubrey. One day, they end up having sex but both of them are overcome by guilt for what they have done. Fiona is moved up to the second floor and Grant tries one last time to ask Marian to let him take Aubrey to see Fiona and she finally relents. Grant and Aubrey go to Meadowlake and as they head to Fiona’s room, Grant asks Aubrey to give him a minute alone to speak with her before bringing him in. Grant goes in and sees her reading one of the books he brought her and as they talk, she starts to remember him and how much she loves him and the two embrace.

Away From Her was well received by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “An accomplished directorial debut by Sarah Polley, Away From Her is a touching exploration of the effects of Alzheimer’s, in which the tender wisdom of Polley’s script is beautifully complemented by a wonderful performance from Julie Christie.” Director Sarah Polley wanted her feature film debut to be on a script she had written when she was 12 but when she didn’t get the green light for it, she chose to do an adaptation of Alice Munro’s short story “The Bear Came Over The Mountain”, which she had first read on a flight home from Iceland. The movie made $9.1 million at the box office and garnered 2 Academy Award nominations; a Best Actress nomination for Julie Christie and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Ok, I will admit that this is definitely one of those movies that tugs at your heart strings. This was a surprisingly (for me) good movie to watch. The acting was really good, with Julie Christie (Fiona), Gordon Pinsent (Grant) and Olympia Dukakis (Marian) doing incredible jobs in their roles. The story was incredibly moving, as you really feel the despair and heartache that Grant feels as he deals with his wife’s disease, forgetting who he is, and her relationship with Aubrey. You could also sense the pain Grant felt in going to ask Marian to let Aubrey see Fiona as a last result to try and get Fiona to start doing better. The relationship that forms between Grant and Marian almost mirrors the one that Fiona and Aubrey fashioned, as the both essentially cling to the other as a source for comfort as they deal with the declining health of a loved one. A very good and moving movie and one that is worth giving a shot.

Rating: 4 out of 5