As the title says, a merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all, and thanks for reading! I hope your holidays are all fantastic!
Mine were pretty good, with many super neat presents received, including a lot of classic horror (mainly Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee material), the complete series of Bewitched (YES!), Watchmen (which is great, because it's always something I've been keen enough on to consider reading, but not enough to ever actually bother buying it, so it was a perfect thing to receive as an Xmas gift), and the coffin box-set for Elvira's Movie Macabre (which is a lot smaller than expected, and has a pretty crappy idea of disc storage, but is otherwise great!), among other things.
I'll leave with the note that Laverne and Shirley and Grease 2 are important things to have on one's mind on Christmas Day, or any day for that matter! I'm sure you'll agree...
Saturday, December 31, 2016
Park ranger Don Bradley has just been promoted after an act of selfless bravery during a wildfire, and is prepared to propose to his old ladyfriend Kay. However, it turns out that he's too late, and she's already married. Whoops! Don seems positively square-riffic when compared with Steve, but it soon becomes apparent that Kay's husband is hiding a dark secret-He's really a murderous smuggler. Kay finds this out just before a deal goes sour, and Steve kills several people, then going into hiding, dragging Kay along with him. She breaks away and goes to Don for help, as the authorities believe her to be complicit in Steve's crimes, so he sets her up in an isolated cabin up in the mountains. Steve finds her though, and it's up to Don to rescue Kay in time, if he can...
Dark Mountain is simply ok. It's an unremarkable film that does nothing but kill an hour. The story is just there.
Making the movie worse is the the leads are a couple of dopes. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the scene where Don visits Kay at the cabin after Steve has found her. While the ranger is over, Steve is hidden in the bedroom, and at no point does Kay wink, or signal to her beau 'My psycho murderer husband is in the next room! SEND HELP!'. Later on, after a few days have passed, she still hasn't told Don, and he still hasn't caught on. "You're eating enough for two people!" He says in a befuddled tone, the possibility that there is a second person in the cabin completely eluding his 'keen senses'. Following that, Don notices a shoeprint, but figures that since it's a man's shoe, it must be his, and happily goes on with his day. Later on, when Don's talking with his pal Willie, he's saying he's beginning to suspect that Steve is at the cabin-A conclusion he's arrived to due to several little things coming together. He then proceeds to list off half a dozen HUGE red flags! Little things my ass!
The acting is all ok. The two leads are decent, while Regis Toomey is quite good as the dastardly antagonist! Quite a different role for Reeg, as he's playing a villain, as opposed to a cop or G-Man. Despite not being the main character, he probably gets more screentime than Robert Lowery. Yep, the people behind this movie definitely knew who the audience really wanted to see more of!
There's also a surprisingly young Elisha Cook Jr. here, but the movie kills him just over 20 minutes in! NO, movie! BAD, movie!
Also present is Eddie Quillan, who I mistook for Joey Forman at first, before I realized the age discrepancy. I didn't much care for Quillan's performance in parts, and neither does his adorable pet dog!* Besides annoying moments like that though, he's decent. He also gets the worst/best line of the movie, in "Ain't it the cats?", used to describe something great.
*The dog understands the rules of checkers, by the way. He is amazing.
One last thing. May I say that I LOVE this font? I've seen it in countless movies, including a good chunk of what I've been looking at for this marathon. I wish movies nowadays had as much personality as older ones, rather than just have a dull wall of white text over black nothing, for around 10 minutes. There's something so much better about end credits that actually have an end, and look more interesting than just boring black.
Dark Mountain wasn't a very entertaining watch. The script as it is doesn't really have enough story to justify being a feature length film. With that in mind, it's actually really good that it's only 56 minutes long, but it's still lacking in some respects, and is ultimately just ok...
It sure took a while, but we're finally out of the 1930's and into the 40's, with Bullet Scars! Though not for long, as only this and the following review are of films from this decade...
A gang of hardened criminals robs a bank, but one of them is shot, badly injured. After one failed attempt at forcing a doctor to save their friend Joe (ending in the innocent man's death after he tried to call the police), the gang hide out in the country while a manhunt ensues, and they enlist the help of Dr. Steven. They tell him that their friend was simply injured in a hunting accident, and they get him to help with offers of extravagant pay. With the help of Joe's nurse sister Nora, Dr. Steven tries his best to save the man's life, and while he seems to be starting to recover, that's short lived. Meanwhile, as things g on, Steven realizes the truth of what's happening. As Joe's health begins to fail, the two unwilling surgeon's have to work out what they're going to do to get out of this terrible situation...
Not much to discuss with Bullet Scars. It's just a simple little crime flick, under an hour, and over and done with before you can blink.
While everything preceding it is akin to dishwater, the ending is absolutely redonkulous! There's a huge amount of cops, and the bare handful of crooks manage to put up quite a fight, lasting well into the night, and withstanding tear gas (which the writer took too literally)! All without ever reloading, or running out of ammo, too! Then, after several minutes worth of movie of this, the cops decide to flush the gang out by lighting a truck on fire and driving it into the farm, where it explodes! Didn't know the police were allowed to do that! Jeez, Detective Carter in Rush Hour would be surprised at how crazy these guys are acting! Following that, when that attempt at 'flushing the gang out' SOMEHOW killed them all, Steven and Nora grin, have a laugh with the police commissioner, then abruptly leave, saying "Come on, let's get out of here", in a chipper tone. Don't try and act too shocked, you two! Also, I'm pretty sure the police will want a few words with you! As will a psychiatrist!
The dialogue is all pretty meh, though one line had me laughing,-"Stay away from dames, and you stay away from trouble.". Don't worry, it's said by one of the villains.
The characters aren't much to speak of. Dr. Steven loses points when right after finding out that there are wanted bank robbers in the area, who fit the bill perfectly with the incredibly suspicious people hanging around who refuse to let him leave their hideout alone, Nora tries to warn him away, saying there's danger, and he glibly ignores her! The chump is all "Now you've got me so curious, I couldn't leave if I wanted to.". Once he finally does figure out what's going on, and after things start going wrong, he gets disturbingly trigger-happy in the climax for a doctor!
The gangsters all blend together, and I'm still not sure if there are 4 of them, or 8, or 6, or 9, or what! I wasn't a fan of the annoying comic relief gangster who won't shut up about vitamins, though I did like how that played into the conclusion, even if in a marginally stupider way than I was expecting*.
*I assumed Steven would be manipulating the crooks into getting a prescription of sleeping pills, which he'd then use on them. Instead, however, he writes a secret message on the scrip, hoping the the pharmacist can read fluent Latin!
The acting here is all decent, with Regis Toomey delivering a fine performance. The acting just before the climax is really rushed though, as if there was only a certain amount of film or time left, and the director had the actors hurry through their dialogue. One final thing to note is the appearance by the interesting Hobart Bosworth.
One last thing: Jesus, were men in the 30's and 40's born with fedoras attached to their heads?!
Bullet Scars is mostly a dull film, but damn all if the insane ending didn't give me plenty to talk about! I still don't much recommend it, but it's not too bad...
It's sad that the term 'The Orient' isn't much in use anymore, because it's one cool name! It's sadder still that people assume that just because the word isn't used anymore (as some words simply fall out of vogue now and again, as happens with language), that it must be a racist word, therefore anyone who says 'The Orient' is a fucking racist scumbag, to which I say "HEY!". Assholes...
Young heiress Viola Avery is almost caught in a Chinese gambling den during a raid, and meets an art collector who takes her home. Meanwhile, the police are hot on the trail of a smuggling operation, illegally transporting Chinese citizens to America. Investigating officer Bob Baxter, knowing of Viola's presence due to her dropped purse at the gambling den, calls on her for help. He suspects the art dealer she met as being involved with the criminal operation, and that hunch turns out to be accurate...
Shadows of the Orient is a really fun movie! It's not great, but after the movies I've been watching lately for this marathon, it's a welcome change of pace. It has thrilling action, chase scenes, an interesting smuggling story, as well as a fun aerial conclusion, if a little too quick.
Inspector Bob Baxter is a pretty decent lead, despite this supposed new blood to revitalize the force instantly falling head over heels for the attractive suspect. He makes up for it later on though when he literally punches a lightbulb out!
While she seems like a bit of a spoiled brat at first, Viola is a fun character, and she's a crack pilot too! Neat seeing a woman having a skill like that in an old film like this, and during the Hays Code too, when the censor board would likely have been of the unanimous decision of "This uppity creature can't presume to fly! What about bears?! Her periods will attract sky bears! They are a serious threat, people!", followed by declarations of "Silly girl. Only angels have wings!".
The villains are an ok bunch, and sometimes hilariously unobservant.
Regis Toomey's acting in Shadows of the Orient is really good! It's great seeing how far his acting has improved over just a few short years. The rest of the film's cast is fine, with Esther Ralston making for a nice sidekick/co-lead. There are also actual Chinese actors playing Chinese characters! Phew!
Thankfully this movie isn't racist at all! Sure, the word 'chinaman' is used a bit, but there are never any negative remarks made about 'subhuman chungs', or any other garbage like that on display here at all. It is a little annoying that there are no onscreen Chinese protagonists, nor is there any explanation for why these criminals are smuggling their countrymen to America. Unfortunately the main villain is just another white guy. That's something that could go either way. Obviously having Chinese villains in a movie would be fine-You can have the heroes and villains in your stories be whoever you want. In a movie from the 1930's though, I bet some people may have breathed a sigh of relief that the lead baddie was white, so there'd be no potential for negative stereotypes against an Asian lead villain, as well as the movie not showing the main villains as Chinese too.
Shadows of the Orient is definitely well-made, and looks like it had quite the budget. It's possibly the best looking movie I've reviewed so far for this marathon!
One last thing to mention is that there are SO MANY fedoras in this movie! Look guys, I like fedoras as much as anyone else, but this was just too much!*
*Note: This is a lie. There can never be too many fedoras.
While it does take a little while to get going, Shadows of the Orient is a fun little movie, and I totally recommend it! Definitely a pleasant surprise. I also love that title!...
Here we are again with another old dark house movie for the Regis Toomey Marathon! I wonder how One Frightened Night stacks up to the last one...
Elderly millionaire Jasper Whyte has called for a reading of his will, and given the lack of direct descendants, he''s seen fit to give his vast riches to distant relations/staff members, pleasing them to no end. He mentions though that if his long estranged (thanks to the actions of her parents) granddaughter Doris Waverly comes to the reading, she'll receive everything. Sure enough, Doris arrives, wanting to make up for lost time with her uncle. But is it the real Doris? Things get complicated when a second Doris Waverly shows up, and the first is murdered...
One Frightened Night is ok. It shares quite a few similarities with Wayne Murder Case, but it's a tad better. Whereas WMC was very by-the-numbers, this has a more interesting story. Unfortunately once the murder happens, things take a bit of a downturn into dullsville for a little while. Funnily enough, as the movie progresses, it ends up resembling WMC more and more!
For the record, this isn't a comedy. The opening minutes, as well as the title, had me under the impression that it was, but nope! There are murdernanigans afoot! The movie does have some levity and comic relief though, so it's not all grim tidings.
Part of what bugs me with One Frightened Night's story is that there's very little suspense as to which granddaughter is the real one, as the first one is murdered offscreen soon after she appears, and we don't even see so much as a body either, besides a brief flash of her hand. Quite a shame, as that angle of 'Which is which?' is what I found so interesting about the movie!
The ending disappointed me. It seems like it's going with an interesting route regarding the killer's identity, but the film soon ditches that idea and goes with a more traditional route.
The characters all start off pretty likeable in the surprisingly positive will-reading scene, but once the 'granddaughter' arrive, they take a tun for the worse, and the cockheads all take out their frustration on the granddaughter rather than the guy who wrote the will!
There's a great little moment after the attempted murder of Lavelle, when one character once again just derisively calls him by his surname, and Jasper surprisingly chimes in with the magician saying 'The Great Lavelle', and the two characters share a happy little bow.
Doris (the real one, that is), is likeable, but only screams, and isn't very proactive, while Regis Toomey's character, almost the defacto hero, is nothing special. The fake Doris seems quite prominent at first, but is very quickly dispatched, as mentioned above. Jasper is an entertaining old rich guy, and thankfully actually survives the movie (not a spoiler), while the Great Lavelle is a fun dude, and it's a shame he doesn't get the happiest of endings, what with being embarrassed, made a fool of, and not even getting the girl in the end!
One Frightened Night has a super neat intro! Wayne Murder Case had a similar one, introducing all of the cast with visuals from the movie, and captions, but they were just regular scenes from the movie, and ones that came very quickly thanks to the short runtime. Here though, the intros are specially filmed for the opening credits! By the way, the one for Regis Toomey makes him look like Gwynplaine!
The acting in this movie is all serviceable, with a few decent performances. Regis Toomey is decent, even if his character isn't. I especially liked Mary Carlisle. Here's the interesting bit-She's still alive! Yep, Mary Carlisle is a regular Lupita Tovar, and is currently relaxing at the ripe old age of 102/104 (apparently sources differ). Go, Miss Carlisle!
One Frightened Night is no The Old Dark House, but it's not a bad film either, and old dark house movies are usually pretty watchable fun. It is a really good setting/premise for a story, after all...