Friday, August 21, 2020

Week of August 22 - 28, 2020


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

In which Italian Western does our hero crack open a coconut with a ball on an elastic string?

Which American actor, who made a Western with Terence Hill, also appeared in movies with John Agar, Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman, Bobby Darin and Duke Moore?
George Grimes knew that it was Gregory Walcott.

Which Spanish star of Italian Westerns played Sara Montiel's manager in one of her most successful movies?
No one has answered this one correctly yet.

In which Italian Western does the villain brand an "S" on the forearm of all of his men?
George Grimes knew that it was ARIZONA COLT, aka THE MAN FROM NOWHERE.

And now for some new brain teasers:

In which Italian Western does Rosalba Neri play Corrine Marchand's sister?
In which Italian Western does Giuliano Gemma wear the same size clothes as Giovanni Pazzafini?
Which Italian Western starring Giuliano Gemma was co-written by his co-star?

Name the movies from which these images came.

George Grimes identified last week's photo of Julian Mateos  in I CRUDELI, aka THE HELLBENDERS.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

No one has identified the above photo yet.
Can you name from what movie it came? 

George Grimes identified last week's photo of Rita Calderoni in DELIRIO CALDO, aka DELIRIUM.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

George Grimes identified last week's frame grab from THE MIRACLE FIGHTERS.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

I am interested in knowing what movies you have watched and what you enjoyed or not. So please send me an email at if you'd like to share. Here's what I watched last week:


JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK (2016) - Co-starring Cobie Smulder and directed by Edward Zwick, NEVER GO BACK is more entertaining than the first Jack Reacher movie and all of the Mission Impossible flicks.

E! True Hollywood Story "Burt Reynolds" (2000) - The second half of this program is devoted to reclaiming Loni Anderson's reputation after Reynolds use of the National Enquirer against her during the divorce proceedings.

Mildly enjoyed:

JOHNNY ENGLISH (2003) - Directed by Peter Howitt, this vehicle for Rowan Atkinson is only intermittedly funny, but Natalie Imbruglia is gorgeous and Ben Miller is amusing. John Malkovich seems to be having fun, and there are three ABBA songs given prominence.

JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN (2018) - Directed by David Kerr, the third film in the series has so many plot elements repeated from the first film it almost feels like a remake. This time Olga Kurylenko is gorgeous and Ben Miller is still amusing. Emma Thompson is a plus, and Howard Goodall's music keeps wanting to sound like what John Barry wrote for THUNDERBALL.

THE KING OF THIEVES (2018) - Based on the Hatton Garden safe deposit burglary of 2015, for which five criminals between 60 and 77 years old were convicted, this movie provides an opportunity for Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay, Paul Whitehouse and Ray Winstone to have a good time together. Michael Gambon also joins in the fun, but Francesca Annis only has one scene before dying. Unfortunately, when the gang falls out with each other, with everyone trying to get over on the others, these characters aren't fun anymore and one begins to hope for some violence. So, the ending where everyone seems to feel it was all a lark doesn't work. The youngest member of the gang is the only one to get away, ironically as he is the one the old guys didn't take seriously. James Marsh directed.

TIGERO: A FILM THAT WAS NEVER MADE (1994) - Filmmaker Mika Kaurismaki follows Jim Jarmusch and Sam Fuller on a trip to the Karaja people of Brazil, where Fuller had planned to make a movie in the 1950s. 

VOX LUX (2018) - Natalie Portman is the star of this film, but she doesn't appear until about the 50 minute mark of this 110 minute movie. Raffey Cassidy plays the 14 year old version of Portman's character, and then plays Portman's daughter for the second half of the film. Beginning with an incredibly effective dramatisation of a mass shooting at a high school, the first part of this film is riveting as Cassidy works to regain the ability to walk and sings at the memorial service which leads to her professional singing career. The middle section of the movie, after Portman appears, is a real drag as we once again see the miserable life of a pop star. However the epilogue showing Portman performing in concert is almost enjoyable enough to allow us to forgive the hour of angst. Going from a mass shooting at a high school, to the 9/11 downing of the the Twin Towers, to a fictional mass shooting on a beach in Croatia, this film seems to intend a comment on life in the new century, with our heroine complaining about nothing mattering anymore and the narrator telling us that after being shot she made a deal with the devil to survive. As that last bit isn't dramatized, it is easy to dismiss and one wonders how much weight writer/director Brady Corbet intended it to carry. We never see Portman's character doing anything intentionally evil. Are we supposed to think that her deal with the devil was to coarsen American culture? So does Corbet really hate Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift?

Did not enjoy:

CON EL DIABLO EN EL CUERPO, aka WITH THE DEVIL IN HIS BODY (1954) - Yes, that is Linda Cristal, five years before she played Cleopatra in Italy. This starts off like a Mexican Western, with Luis Aguilar coming into a saloon, singing a song and flirting with every woman around before going into the back room to gamble. Arturo Martinez shows up, gun in hand, to get Aguilar, but Aguilar shoots him first and then makes a getaway on horseback. (It bothers me that Aguilar throws over the card table and no one bends down to pick up the spilled money.) Aguilar stops to drink from a river, which annoys Linda Cristal, who tries to get him to leave by pointing a winchester at him. He takes away the winchester and kisses the unwilling Cristal before sending her away on horseback. Later, when Aguilar seeks refuge with friend Dagoberto Rodriquez, Rodriquez takes him to stay at the ranch of Domingo Soler, who turns out to be Cristal's father. Over Cristal's objection, Soler gives Aguilar a roof over his head. At this point, everyone starts driving cars, and when they go to a restuarant for dinner, the Mariachi band sings a song of modern Mexico which leads to a montage of Mexico City and all of the statues celebrating the ancient past. Aguilar spends the evening singing songs with America Martin, much to Cristal's irritation, and after being dropped off at home by Rodriquez, Cristal finds Aguilar forcing another kiss on her. Eventually, Cristal succumbs to Aguilar's charms - which seems to make her "bullet bra" even more pointed. And, eventually, Martinez shows up, not having been previously killed. One of Martinez' henchmen is killed and Aguilar is on the run again. When Cristal discovers that Rodriquez is leading the soldiers to Aguilar's hideout, she races ahead to try and get Aguilar to leave. It is too late to run, and Rodriquez approaches Aguilar to try and convince him to surrender. When Aguilar prepares to gun down the unarmed Rodriquez, Cristal shoots Aguilar with a similar winchester with which she first greeted him. Aguilar asks to be forgiven as he reachs out and touches Cristal's hand one last time. Raul de Anda directs the film that I wouldn't have bothered watching but for Linda Cristal.

CRY OF THE WEREWOLF (1944) - Were there horse drawn gypsy caravans roaming the U.S. in the 1940s? Boy, they really sold the monster stuff softly in 1944.

EVILENKO (2004) - The story of Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo had already been dramatised in the excellent HBO Movie CITIZEN X. Why Italian assistant director to Pier Paolo Pasolini David Grieco would want to turn it into a Thomas Harris like novel called THE COMMUNIST WHO ATE CHILDREN, and then make a into his first feature film is something that I'd like him to explain. With a majority English speaking cast, headed by Malcolm McDowell and Marton Csokas, the film does a good job of not seeming like an Italian production. Grieco sets a deliberate pace that builds a creepy atmosphere and seldom resorts to graphic violence. Angelo Badalamenti contributes another moody but tuneful music score that adds to the atmosphere. I'm guessing that the film's dedication "TO THE BELOVED MASTER AND FRIEND LINDSAY ANDERSON" is from McDowell, as I've found no connection between Grieco and Anderson. Perhaps the reason for this movie is that Grieco was able to make it a Russian co-production, which HBO couldn't. Another version of the Chikatilo story was made in 2015 as CHILD 44.

JONATHAN (2018) - Two consciouses live in the same body, with each taking over in 12 hour shifts. Rules have established how the two can co-exist, but each begins to demand autonomy. The film is told from the perspective of one concious - Jonathan - who is always concerned what the other half - John - is doing. Eventually John takes over completely. Ansel Elgort, Suki Waterhouse and Patricia Clarkson are able to flesh out the material a bit, but director Bill Oliver seems more interested in creating a depressing atmosphere than anything else. What's the point of imparting this experience?

EL VAMPIRO Y EL SEXO, aka SANTO AND DRACULA'S TREASURE (1968) - SANTO EN EL TESORO DE DRACULA was the family version of this production, with EL VAMPIRO Y EL SEXO intended for adults. Reportedly the adult version wasn't found until 2011, and that seems to be the one dubbed into English and shown on the El Rey Network. Director's credit is given to Rene Cardona but it is "A Film by Guillermo Calderon Stell". In this film, Santo is not only a masked wrestler, but also a scientist who creates a time machine - that looks suspiciously like The Time Tunnel. This time machine transports Noelia Noel from the present into the body of someone in the past. How do they get a TV transmission from the past? Unfortunately, Noel is sent back into a Mexican version of Dracula and she's the newest victim. The "adult" version sports some topless women, and the filmmakers decided if they were to be topless that they would also have very large breasts. In addition to bite marks on their necks, they also receive a bat stamp. Fernando Mendoza drives a stake into the sleeping Alucard, and is about to do the same to Noel when Santo successfully pulls her back into the present. Dracula showed Noel his family's treasure, so in the present time Santo seeks the treasure to prove that his machine worked. Meanwhile, a hooded intruder was a spying on our heroes all this time, and he's got a gang to help him to steal the treasure. Santo and his friends get the necklace from around Dracula's neck, but the hooded intruder gets the ring. Both are needed to find the treasure, so a wrestling match is arranged with the necklace and ring being the prize. Of course Santo wins the match, and the hooded intruder hands over the ring. The villain then goes back and pulls the stake out of Dracula's heart, figuring that the vampire will go after the ring and the necklace. Not only does Dracula revive his harem of naked vampire women, he also kidnaps Noel to finally make her his vampire wife. Santo and his friends defeat and unmask the hooded intruder on the road back to the crypt. Luckily, our hero has a wristband communicator to instruct his wrestling comrades to dynamite the roof off of the cave Dracula occupies, so sunlight turns all of the vampires to dust. All of the good guys stagger out, glad to be alive, and everyone seems to have forgotten the effort to find the treasure.

SANTO CONTRA LOS JINETES DEL TERROR, aka SANTO VS. THE RIDERS OF TERROR (1970) - Pity the makers of Santo movies. After 25 entries, the idea box must have been getting rather empty. So, why not Santo in a Western about escaped lepers terrorizing the countryside? Infected Gregorio Casal leads a group of lepers out of their hospital to freedom. Everyone who sees them, flees for fear of getting infected. Villain Julio Aldama (of GUNS FOR SAN SEBASTIAN) decides to take advantage of the fear and enlists the lepers in a series of robberies. Sheriff Armando Silvestre (of TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA) calls on Santo to help. Coincidentally, Santo arrives in town just as a barker is offering money to whomever can beat his champion in the ring. After giving a bag of money to three nuns, Santo gets down to catching the bad guys. Casal wanted freedom inorder to see the woman who was to marry him before he became infected. After Aldama reveals that he plans to murder all of the lepers after robbing the bank, and Santo reveals that they now have a cure for leprosy, Casal becomes our hero's ally and even shoots Aldama in the back. Gustavo C. Carrion contributs some pretty good Western movie music. Of course the movie is limply directed by Rene Cardona.

SHAZAM! (2019) - DC just can't make a fun movie. Well, the last 20 minutes are okay and there's a Ramones song on the end credits so it's not all a drag.

SILENCIO (2018) - Writer/director Lorena Villarreal successfully created an intriguing atmosphere for her science fiction/supernatural tale, and she assembled a good cast, but once the thriller elements kicked it, it became an irritating experience. First of all, saying that it was "based on a true story" appeared to be bullshit so why claim it? In the 1970 of the movie, an American missile suddenly went off course and crashed in the "Bermuda Triangle" of Mexico - an area called Costa del Silencio. John Noble (of TV's Fringe) was investigating the crash when he touched what was supposed to be a piece of a meteor that absorbed radiation from the crashed missile. The stone took Noble back a week to the site of an automobile accident that killed his family. Grandaughter Shayne Coleman (who is adorable) saw her grandfather suddenly appear and ran towards him, thus not being killed in the accident. The granddaughter grew up to be Melina Matthews who treated a man who seemed to have psychic visions of Matthews' dead sister. The dead sister was telling him to tell Matthews that she had to help the invalided grandfather find "the stone". After what turned out to be alot of needless complications - including the death of Noble, Matthews' son and the psychic, Noble's assistant needed the stone inorder to go back in time to save his daughter who died. Much of the dialogue in the movie was in English, with some sections in Spanish with English subtitles. And with a cast that included Rupert Graves, it would seem the filmmakers were hoping for a positive reception from an English speaking audience. At least Villarreal didn't follow the lead of Guillermo del Toro and end his film with a felling of helplessness.

SUPERFLY (2018) - The low budget nature of the original lent it some credibility, plus the music by Curtis Mayfield made it worthwhile. This remake looks like a hip-hop music video inspired by both SCARFACE and STAR WARS. "Pusherman" and a sample of "Super Fly" pop up on the soundtrack. Interestingly, there are no poor black folk in this movie - no concern about the effect of cocaine on society. It is the most glamorized portrait of drug dealing that I've ever seen.

UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB (2018) - Don't take home any lap tops left in the lost & found at a cyber cafe.

YOU BETTER WATCH OUT, aka CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980) - After the trauma of seeing Mama having sex with a man playing Santa Claus in his living room, Brandon Maggart grows up to be someone who takes Christmas more seriously than everyone else. Determining that some rich kids that are bad are getting more presents than those who are better deserving, he breaks into homes and steals presents and then gives them to a children's hospital. Dressed as Santa, he stops at a church where the attendees are leaving midnight mass. When three of them make fun of him, he kills them. Later, he breaks into the home of a co-worker who lied to him and kills the co-worker. Interestingly, when some adults see him giving presents to their children, they figure out that he's the homicidal Santa and quickly make torches to chase him out of the neighborhood. After getting into a fight with his brother over who ruined the other's life, the crazy man drives off in his van, which is painted to look like a sleigh, and we see the van take off into the sky as we hear the last lines from "The Night Before Christmas". Lewis Jackson is the writer/director of this flick which isn't nearly as entertaining as SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984). Thankfully this was the end of Jackson's directing career. 


Charles Gilbert watched:

The Cult Next Door. Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principals. Documentary on 'ultra conservative Christian' leader Bill Gothard who, a decade ago, commanded prodigious audiences with lectures on biblical living to counter the rebellious culture of the previous generations. His authoritarian philosophy created a cult headquartered in the Chicago area with nods of endorsement from Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin. He was eventually banished from the organization he started due to charges of sexual improprieties with underage girls in his charge.

BLONDE ICE (1948) B&W. Conniving, ambitious reporter (Leslie Brooks) marries for money, quickly disposes of husband, and then covets a rising Washington-bound politician named Stanley Mason. Robert Paige plays another reporter, the object of her whimsical affections, but frames him after stabbing Mason to death when the wedding is summarily cancelled. It takes the campaign's psychologist to finally shame the truth from her demented mind.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END (1957) B&W. Agricultural experimentation in Illinois using radiation to make crops larger instead inadvertantly produces truck-sized grasshoppers that eventually  head for Chicago. Reporter Peggie Castle helps scientist Peter Graves brainstorm the idea to lure them into Lake Michigan when the locust prove invulnerable to fire power. General Morris Ankrum is on standby to drop the A-bomb on the Windy City just in case. (That's a B 36 in the air not B 52 as he promised).


David Deal enjoyed:

THE TALL STRANGER (57) - Joel McCrea finds himself in the middle of a complicated plot involving a wagon train of settlers trying to get to California, their conniving leader who's misled them, a hateful half-brother, and a killer with a fancy gun.  It's a solid, violent western with a dependable cast.

TERROR STREET (53) - Dan Duryea returns to England after a military stint in America, to find his wife gone.  Tracking her down, she is killed and he is framed for it.  Dan must track down the killer in 36 hours before he ships out.  Fun, civilized Brit crime from Hammer.  Dan carries this easily, and appears to do his own fight stunts.

EXTRA ORDINAIRY (19) - Supernatural comedy from Ireland is actually funny.




Mildly enjoyed:

THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS (72) - Small town police chief James Garner investigates a murder involving a Doberman.  Features Katherine Ross, a deep supporting cast, and archaic views of human sexuality.


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