Friday, April 29, 2022

Week of April 30 - May 6, 2022


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Which Italian actor worked for directors Sergio Corbucci, Francis Ford Coppola, Bernardo Bertolucci and Andrea Barzini?
It was Gastone Moschin. 

Which actor who appeared in Italian Sword & Sandal films as well as Italian Westerns was the son of a signatory of the 1918 Act of Independence of Lithuania?
Tom Betts, Charles Gilbert and Bertrand van Wonterghem knew that it was Jacques Sernas.

Which actor who appeared in Italian Westerns survived the Allied bombing of Dresden in World War II?
Tom Betts knew that it was Terence Hill, aka Mario Girotti.

Which actor kills Erno Crisa in MACISTE, L'EROE PIU GRANDE DEL MONDO?
Bertrand van Wonterghem, Charles Gilbert and Angel Rivera knew that it was Mimmo Palmara.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Which Italian winner of an Olympic gold medal for boxing in 1960 appeared in an Italian Western?
Which Italian boxer from 1925 to 1934 - with 47 wins, 17 losses and 2 draws, became an actor in both Italian Sword & Sandal films and Westerns?
Which future star of Italian Westerns helped to win the Italian Championship for water polo in 1954 with the S.S. Lazio team?

Name the movies from which these images came.

Tom Betts, Rick Garibaldi and Bertrand van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Evelyn Stewart, Giuliano Gemma and Roberto Camardiel in ADIOS GRINGO.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Bertrand van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Giuliano Gemma in ERCOLE E LA REGINA DI LIDIA, aka HERCULES UNCHAINED.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Bertrand van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Giuliano Gemma and Tina Aumont in COBARI.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

No one identified the above frame grab. It shows Koji Tsuruta killing the bad guy in A SCARRED LIFE.

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:


CLEOPATRA (1963) - We will probably never get a chance to see director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's two-part six hour version, but the little over 4 hour version is still fun. 

Russian Dolls season one (2019) - Natasha Lyonne stars in this highly entertaining series of 8 half-hour episodes on Netflix. Chloe Sevigny plays her dead mother and Elizabeth Ashley plays her grandmother. Burt Young shows up in a few episodes.

Mildly enjoyed:

THE ANGRY RED PLANET (1959) - After reportedly writing the American version of the second Godzilla movie, originally released as GIGANTIS THE FIRE MONSTER in the U.S., Ib Melchior teamed up with producer Sid Pink to turn Pink's story into a feature film. Having previously directed some TV, Melchior helmed the low-budget studio-bound tale of the first Earth visitation to Mars on a nine day schedule. It starts out as a mystery, with the believed lost spaceship suddenly showing up on a return trip. Only two of the four astronauts are still alive, and a mysterious growth is slowly killing Gerald Mohr. Survivor Nora Hayden finds that she can't remember what happened, so Dr. Tom Daly authorizes a dangerous drug treatment to help her remember - but warns that what she says may be colored by her emotions. Pink had helped to kick off the 1950s 3-D craze with BWANA DEVIL, so he knew a gimmick was need to disguise the miniscule budget, and they came up with Cinemagic, which turned all of the fake Martian landscape into a blown-out red nightmare. Though often hokey, the movie is a lot of fun with many imaginative elements. 

Benjamin Franklin (2022) - There is fascinating material in this two part, four hour, documentary by Ken Burns, which, of course, put me to sleep.

Midsomer Murders "Send In the Clowns" (2017) - That makes two programs featuring Jason Watkins in one week. Now that Betty Barnaby is more than a toddler, Isabel Shaw is a welcome addition to the family. Finding a cellar room covered with blood and guts, DCI Neil Dudgeon comments "It's like something out of a Hammer Horror film." Noting the youth of DS Nick Hendrix, he adds "Before your time. Everything's before your time."

NAVALNY (2022) - Originally director Daniel Roher intended to make a documentary about the Russian dissident, Alexei Navalny who was a political rival to Vladamir Putin in the upcoming presidential elections. Things changed when Navalny was poisoned while on a flight. It turned out that he didn't die because the plane quickly landed and he received medical treatment before the poison successfully killed him. Not trusting the Russian authorities, Navalny's wife successfully had him transferred to a German hospital, where he was nursed back to health. With the help of investigative journalists, Navalny was able to identify and accuse agents of Russia's Federal Security Service of the assassination attempt. After publishing the results of the investigation, Navalny felt confident that he could safely return to Russia. He was wrong and now he is in a Russian prison.

THE TRICK (2021) - It is no surprise that Victoria Hamilton and Jason Watkins deliver strong performances in this TV movie portraying the effect of "climate deniers" attacks on Philip Jones, a leading scientist trying to alert the world about the dangers of climate change. Someone has hacked the computer system in 2009 at the University of East Anglia, and in carefully selected bits of emails, tried to discredit the science. George MacKay and Jerome Flynn are quite good as the "Crisis Management" team brought in to manage the manufactured scandal. Owen Sheers does a pretty good job of laying out what happened in this true story, and Pip Broughton directed it be a compelling drama. Some bits, such as using Jones' difficulty with completing a jigsaw puzzle to illustrate his disturbed mind, are a bit corny, but a close up of Hamilton keeps the drama rooted. The ending becomes confusing when we see Hamilton alone on the beach talking to an unseen person. Is it supposed to be a documentary crew, or is she "breaking the fourth wall" talking to the viewer. And why are we seeing Watkins spending time with a young woman when the filmmakers haven't established who she is. It is his daughter or granddaughter or a new wife? (I'm happy to report that Philip and Ruth Jones are still together. I checked.) In any case, the film ends with the message that the effort to discredit the science pushed back efforts to deal with the problem by about ten years. Do we have enough time left to do anything positive now?

The Witcher season one (2019) - Is it possible that they could have presented this tale is a more confusing manner? I shudder to think about it. 

The Witcher season two (2021) - With the story-telling taking on a more conventional aspect, it becomes even more noticable that material which would have been considered children's entertainment is being deliberately made unsuitable with needless profanity and graphic violence. I'm guessing this is the Game of Thrones effect.

Unsung Presents: The Decades - The 00s (2022)

Uncnsrd: "Trina" (2022)

Did not enjoy:

BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER (1960) - Oy! This movie gave me such a headache. The idea that flying an experimental air craft causes Robert Clarke to "break the time barrier" and end up in the year 2024 is one that I have no problem accepting. It is a nice switch by screenwriter Arthur C. Pierce that the future is not desolated by an atomic war, but by a "cosmic plague". Rather than fossil fuel destroying the Ozone layer, here it is the radioactive dust from nuclear bomb testing. Without the protective layer of atmosphere, cosmic rays have hit the Earth causing radioactive mutation, starting in 1971. After Man landed on the Moon, all nations came together to establish colonies on Mars and Venus by 1970. In 1973, a mass evacuation of Earth began to the planet colonies, but only the uninfected people were allowed to go. So, Clarke is made prisoner by the inhabitants of an underground Citadel, where most are rendered deaf and mute, except for The Supreme Vladimir Sokoloff and Captain Red Morgan. However, even they are sterile, so they hope that Clarke will mate with the deaf and mute but not sterile and telepathic Darlene Tompkins to ensure a future for their society. Clarke is labeled a "scape" because he escaped being affected by the plague. Soon he is introduced to three other "scapes": Arianne Arden (the daughter of director Edgar G. Ulmer), John van Dreelan and Stephen Bekassy. They too have time traveled to 2024 because the experimental flying technique Clarke used became standard for inter-planetary travel, and they were three more accidents. The real danger to the Citadel are the surface inhabitants, who can speak but want to destroy the Citadel inorder to get food. (THE TIME TRAVELERS was made four years after this and it reused the idea of technological cave dwellers versus bald-headed surface mutants - except in 1964 the mutants didn't speak.) The four "scapes" conspire to send Clarke back in time to 1960, hopefully to prevent the plague of 1971. The Supreme and The Captain try to stop the "scapes", so Arden releases the surface mutants held prisoner in "The Pit" and chaos ensues. The escape plan falls apart as the "scapes" double cross each other, but Clarke survives and flies back to the past. Will those in 1960 heed his warning? And what effect will time travel have on our hero? Was there excised nude footage of Darlene Tompkins to explain the awkward sound edit as she gets out of the swimming pool? How come the subhuman surface dwellers can speak, but the sophisticated underground people can't? Why do most of the underground people march around like robots? Production Designer Ernst Fegte and director Ulmer came up with a unique vision of future dwellings, where everything is based on an inverted triangle. Perhaps inspired by FORBIDDEN PLANET, most of the optical effects here are animated drawings, but look bad without MGM's finesse. To make "The Pit" seem larger, footage from JOURNEY TO THE LOST CITY was added. Robert Clarke had just produced, directed and starred in THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON, but decided to bring in Ulmer to direct this after a positive experience on THE MAN FROM PLANET X. Ulmer made BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER back-to-back with THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN reportedly doing both in only two weeks. In addition to employing his daughter as an actress, Ulmer employed his wife, Shirley, as Script Supervisor.

CASE 39 (2009) - I get very impatient with demonic child movies, so it wasn't long before I gave up and fast-forwarded through this one. At least this one had an ending - though they did consider the usual "the threat continues" ending. I can't fault the production on casting: Renee Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper, Callum Keith Rennie, Kerry O'Malley, Adrian Lester, Cynthia Stevenson and Dee Jay Jackson are all strong actors. What was it about Ray Wright's script that got everyone excited but resulted in director Christian Alvart's film being such a failure?

HORRORS OF WAR (2006) - At times, it seems that Directors Peter John Ross and John Whitney want the World War II battle scenes to look like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, but the wardrobe isn't convincing. These guys look like reenactors who don't want to get their clothes messed up. You can't fault these low-budget shoot-it-on-video filmmakers for a lack of ambition, but there is nothing compelling in their final product. In the night, an U.S. Army squad bumps into a German group, a member of which won't go down until he gets shot in the head. Because of his report on the incident, Lt. Jon Osbeck is order to join Captain C. Alec Rossel's unit, made up of soldiers who have criminal records, to parachute behind enemy lines on a secret mission. It soon becomes apparent that there's a werewolf in the area. The Americans come upon a farmhouse inhabited by two women, Brandy Seymour and Megan Pillar. The Captain and a Sergeant decide to rape the women, and when Seymour objects, the Captain shoots her dead. It turns out that the werewolf is the women's brother, so when Sgt. Daniel Alan Kiely show compassion to Pillar, she gives him special bullets. These come in handy when the soldiers sit around a nighttime camp fire confessing their crimes to each other and get attacked by the werewolf. Most of the squad is killed, Kiely gets bitten and Osbeck uses the bullets to kill the werewolf. Back at base, Osbeck is ordered on another mission, to capture the scientist making Nazi Zombies. He takes along Kiely because he can change into a werewolf. When the find Dr. David Carroll, he explains the effort to create super strong Nazis that are impervious to bullets by using a serum Then the doctor turns himself into a Zombie and begins to kill all of the Americans. Kiely turns into a werewolf, and the doctor kills him, too. Finding the serum, Captain Joe Lorenzo injects himself, turns into a super strong Zombie and kills the Doctor. Momentarily reverting to his normal self, Lorenzo orders the surviving soldiers to kill him before he kills them. Osbeck is then ordered on another mission to find more "of those things". Filmed entirely in Ohio with poorly rendered CGI effects, HORRORS OF WAR is a lot less fun than it sounds.

JUAREZ, MEXICO (2005) - Born May 6, 1971 in Orange County, California, James Cahill reportedly was an English teacher at Valley High School in Santa Ana before he decided to write, direct and star in SNITCH'D (2003), a shot-on-video thriller about a drug war at an high school in Santa Ana. SNITCH'D is mostly notable as the movie Eva Longoria made before doing a stint on The Young And The Restless. JUAREZ, MEXICO is Cahill's follow-up and you can't fault him for lacking ambition. The audacity of casting himself as an Private Investigator from El Paso, Texas named Johnny Cash is staggering. Exploiting the scandal of femicides in Northern Mexico is appalling. In his video production, Cahill suggess that the murders are linked to an operation dealing in the illegal organ trade. The fact that he got the project made shows some ability, though the product exhibits no talent for writing, directing or acting. He directed two other projects after this: CHARLIE WONG (2006) and CRUSH(ED) (2009).


Charles Gilbert watched:

WEEKEND OF TERROR (1970) TV movie with Robert Conrad and Lee Majors in atypical roles as abductors holding a gal for ransom. She accidentally dies from hitting her head in a fall, so now the two scoundrels seek a replacement. Three nuns (Jane Wyatt, Lois Nettleton, and Carol Lynley), in a disabled car, become the new target, hoping the younger in a wig will fool the payer (Todd Andrews) of the scheme.


Bertrand van Wonterghem Enjoyed:

A fistful of lead (2018, Marc Price)

Naeil / Tomorrow – season 1 – episodes 5 & 6

Russian doll – season 2 – episode 1

Outer range – season 1 – episodes 1 to 4

The ghost and Mrs Muir – episode « Puppy love » (1969, John Erman)

Mildly enjoyed:

Murderville – season 1 – episode 6

Delitto a porta romana (1979, Bruno Corbucci)

Sutton’s case (2020, Stavros Genaridis

Tex e il signore degli abissi (1985, Duccio Tessari)

The terminal man (1974, Mike Hodges)


Angel Rivera Enjoyed:

The last two episodes of season one of "The Flight Attendant".

The latest episode of "Superman and Lois".

Mildly enjoyed:

GOLIATH AND THE SINS OF BABYLON - Now I have never seen any of the sword and sandal epics which featured Mark Forrest before , so I did not know what to expect. To me he seemed out of place.  More more familiar to me was Mimmo Palmara, who here was playing one of the good guys, as opposed to the antagonists he usually plays. Giuliano Gemma, I also remember from one of my favorite S & S films, MY SON THE HERO. Not to take up too much space I found the film only mildly entertaining. I guess I am not that big a Mark Forrest fan.


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