Ha ha!

You certainly never know what movie he'll review next!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Burl reviews Paperback Hero! (1973)



Ha ha, eh, it’s Burl, here to review a very Canadian motion picture! It’s called Paperback Hero, and while it might not quite be the most Canadian movie ever made (there are quite a few other contenders, including Rip-Off, ha ha), it’s got to be pretty darn close, eh!
The story, which prefigures the similar Last Night at the Alamo by a decade, tells of cowboy-hatted thirtysomething Rick “Marshall” Dylan, played by Keir “Black Christmas” Dullea! The Marshall is a world-class ruckuser, and sure as shootin’ the king pin of Delisle, Saskatchewan! He’s got a gunfighter complex, so he’s also the town’s greatest eccentric, and also, if you ask me, its biggest j*rk! He treats ladies very poorly, is careless with firearms, is a monstrous egotist, and worst of all, perpetually wears a goony smirk! He’s completely unlikable, but you want to see what happens to him!
The movie really gets its hooks into you, even as you loathe this character and his ruckuses! Ha ha, it’s hard to figure out the ladies who love him, or even who can stand to be around him for more than a few seconds! Sure, he’s a go*d-looking guy I guess, but he’s dumber than a bag of doorknobs, and he’s violent too!
The town sort of tolerates him more than anything, though he’s got some admirers! His right-hand man and co-ruckuser is Pov, a bug ol’ lug with a wife and child, but barely more mature than his cowboy chum! Pov finally wises up towards the end, sort of! The admiration of the ladies is even more puzzling, because they seem reasonably intelligent! But the Marshall’s obtuse charms see to it that these ladies are seen without cl*thes a number of times!
As Rick begins to realize he’s a plain old los*r, his ruckusing becomes more violent and destructive than ever! He develops a loathing of someone called Davis, and attempts to paint his car orange! His greatest nemesis next to the hated Davis is the local cop, played by George R. “Bells” Robertson! Threats of jail seem not to bother our Marshall, though! One of his ladyfr*ends informs him that he’s got “a brain full of dingleballs” and that really everyone is laughing at him! An enraged Rick burns a few donuts in his T-bird, then sets the stage for a climactic ruckus – a ruckus he may not swagger away from!
Ha ha, what a terrific little picture! It looks beautiful, thanks to sterling work from cameraman Don “Meatballs” Wilder, and is mighty well crafted by director Peter Pearson! Dullea is okay in the lead role, though sometimes he sounds like he’s from Texas (because the character fancies himself a Texan I guess!) and other times from Newfoundland! All the acting is about perfect for the movie, actually!
It reminded me a great deal of Explosion, only much, much better! But beware: it often gets billed as a hockey movie, except there’s not much actual hockey! There’s a pretty epic brawl though, and some er*tic moments involving a Habs jersey! There’s lots of wheat stalks waving in and out of frame and shots of fields seen through barbed wire! “There’s too much goddamn sky, and not enough beer,” laments one character about Delisle, and maybe the movie is ultimately about what living that way can do to you! Ha ha, I’m going to give Paperback Hero three and a half boards about yea big!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Burl reviews Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold! (1986)



Ha ha, hello adventure seekers – Burl here to review one of the very, very many Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-offs of the 80s! Cannon Films alone made several, and ha ha, this sure is one of them!
I’ve never waxed enthusiastic about Cannon movies here, because there’s plenty of that around the internet! I like them as much as anyone and more than most, I’d say, but the G&G boys did seem to be in possession of some kind of Cannonization machine through which they put all their movies for extra seasoning before release, just to give it that Cannon Films flavour!
And this one, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, has it in spades, ha ha! This was the second Quatermain picture they did, and like everyone else, I’m not convinced they chose the right actor in Richard “Bells” Chamberlain! He’s not a bad actor or anything, and he’s perfectly macho enough; it’s just that he doesn’t seem like someone who would prefer to live in rural Africa to, say, Los Angeles!
The picture begins with a whole bunch of business about a suit, which Quatermain doesn’t wish to don, but which his l*dyfriend, played by Sharon “Total Recall” Stone, insists upon! Then a fellow stumbles in from the jungle and ignites a mystery, which leads the pair on an odyssey into the darkest heart of the continent in search of a lost city, where Quatermain’s brother may dwell!
Their party includes James Earl Jones from The Hunt for Red October as a nuance-free axe warrior, and Robert “Damnation Alley” Donner as an irritating swami! There are also some native bearers, but in the grand Eurocentric tradition of these things, they are given no names, no characterizations, no dialogue save “Aiiii” when they perish, and no hint of eulogy afterward! The trek takes them through some Raiders-like booby-trap perils and corpses who were the victims of same; through the territory of an aggressive canoe-based tribe; into battle with crazy cave snakes; down whirlpools and through a superheated subterranean river, and almost into a pillar of flame!
All of this sounds exciting, and though it’s actually not, it does provide some low-level cheeseball pulp enjoyment! Even this comes to a halt, however, when they reach the lost city of gold! It’s populated by toga-wearing wimps (it’s a lost white tribe, you see), ruled by Henry “Alligator” Silva in a fright wig, and features Elvira in a supporting role as an evil mute lady! By the time Quatermain somehow drums up some St. Elmo’s Fire or something, and manages to melt some gold onto Henry Silva, the very mild pulp pleasure has returned, but it’s way too little, much too late!
It’s a really terrible picture, never exciting, and only sporadically offering the 80s flavor that would be virtually the only reason someone might watch it nowadays! I haven’t seen the other Cannon PG adventure films – the other Quatermain picture, King Solomon’s Mines, or Firewalker, or others of that ilk – and though I still may do someday, I’m not going to be in any great hurry about it! For now I’m simply going to give Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold one single exploding bench!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Burl reviews Premature Burial! (1962)



Ha ha, the bell tolls twelve, and it’s Burl! I’m here to review one of the Roger Corman Poe movies, and if you know immediately what I’m talking about, then you’re in the right place! (And if you think to yourself that Corman prefigured this series with the walled-up black cat in A Bucket of Blood, you’re doubly in the right place – sit don and have a brandy, ha ha!) However, if you need a little reminder that, between 1960 and 1965, Roger Corman made a series of relatively lavish movies based on Edgar Allen Poe stories (with a little Lovecraft tossed in the mix, ha ha), then don’t worry, friend, you’re still in the right place!
The one I’m talking about today, Premature Burial (no “The” in the credits, ha ha!) is probably not anyone’s favourite of the Poe pictures (unless they’re a big fan of Ray Milland), but neither is it likely to be at the bottom of the list either, unless they hate Ray Milland! It’s unique in that it stars not Vincent Price in the leading role, but rather, you guessed it, Frank Stallone! I mean Ray Milland, ha ha!
Milland plays Guy, an artist with a morbid fear of being buried alive! Ha ha, this terror stems from his conviction that his father, a cataleptic, was interred alive these many years ago! Guy’s uptight sister disputes this, as does his would-be fiancée Emily, as does Emily’s father Dr. Gault (who’s played by Alfred from Batman, ha ha!), and as does family friend Miles Archer! The only person in the perpetually fog-shrouded house who doesn’t appear to have an opinion is the butler!
But there’s something afoot! Guy and Emily end up getting married after all, but Guy’s personality shifts violently, and he becomes worried and snappish! He retreats into a self-built crypt and paints dark and terrible paintings! And he outfits his crypt with all manner of escape mechanisms, which he shows off proudly in a terrific scene halfway through the picture! Emily and the rest finally convince him that he mustn’t dwell so on this unlikely eventuality, and they persuade him to blow up the safety crypt!
Things go wrong from there, and indeed there is a burial alive, and many of the characters come to various sorts of sticky ends! There’s a pair of gravediggers played by John Dierkes (the Tall Soldier from John Huston’s The Red Badge of Courage) and the great Dick “Apache Woman” Miller! Dierkes gets a pretty stiff neck-twist and Miller a fatal poking! We also have death by electricity and gunfire, and all of this takes place among freighter-sized drifts of studio smoke!
The picture looks great, with extremely atmospheric widescreen photography and marvelous sets! Milland is pretty good, but sort of one-note; and the rest of the cast is solid but unremarkable – except of course Miller, with his top hat and dirty mole teeth! It’s a pretty talky picture too, but does offer up some scares and shudders and the solid Corman craftsmanship that was on view during this period! I enjoyed the picture, even if it was a bit stuffy, and I’ll give it two and a half pullcord escape hatches!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Burl reviews Herbie Goes Bananas! (1980)



Beep beep, ha ha, it’s Burl here with a review of another Herbie picture! I sort of already knew Herbie Rides Again would be, or rather remain, my favourite Herbie movie after some recent re-viewings of the series! Watching Herbie Goes Bananas helped confirm this, though I don’t want to give you the idea that I disliked it!
I mean sure, it’s got problems! But what movie doesn’t? I will come right out and tell you what I perceive as the single most crippling deficit this picture possesses: not enough Herbie! But if you like slow disco dancing in costume, this is most certainly the picture for you!
Now, I can’t remember how they left it at the end of Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, but this one begins in Mexico, in Puerto Vallarta, reeba reeba! Two American do*fuses get off the bus and are immediately robbed by a grinning orphan! Their mission is to pick up Herbie, who has been willed to one of them by his uncle or something; and we must suppose that his uncle is Dean Jones! Meanwhile there are smugglers, who are played by the fantastic trio of John “Point Blank” Vernon, Richard “The Dark” Jaeckel and Alex “Gotcha!” Rocco! All of these people get mixed up together and there’s a lot of running around, but nothing much actually happens!
And this is the other major problem with the picture: like almost all the Herbie pictures, it’s overlong! (Herbie Rides Again is of course the marvelous exception!) There’s too much padding, like the disco dancing, or the two guys talking! (One of those two guys is played by the always welcome Charles Martin Smith of Starman!)
Then the action switches to a cruise ship captained by Harvey Korman, ha ha, and among whose passengers are Cloris Leachman and her owlish niece! Of course the orphan is a stowaway, and Herbie creates havoc in the hold! Korman’s Captain Blythe is a psychotic martinet who makes Queeg look like a calm voice of nautical reason! Eventually Herbie’s misbehaviour rouses Korman to an act of high-seas justice: Herbie is shoved over the side in a ceremony with all the pomp and protocol of an Admiral’s funeral!
But from Herbie’s encounter with The Baby himself in the guise of a hippie surfer, we know the little bug is able to swim! Still, it’s a filthy and exhausted Herbie who gets pulled out of a Panama Canal tributary by a burro, some bad hombres and the orphan, miraculously in just the right place! There are some little chases, some menacing from the bad guys and an overextended bullfight scene, and eventually Leachman, Korman and the young folk all end up together in an old bus, on the trail of the orphan and his revitalized auto-pal! Herbie never participates in a race but he does battles a small plane! Herbie rips the tail off and then sucks Alex Rocco out the back like a Junior Mint! Ha ha!
Herbie has a lot less personality in this movie, despite the fact that they have him near-talking with his horn and pressing buttons with his antenna! And though they realized they could never match Keenan Wynn, the bad guy from Herbie Rides Again, so had to break his character in half to share between Korman and Vernon, the movie is still undeniably possessed of really fantastic cast! It has a cheery travelogue feel at times, and the kid, who might easily have been intolerable, is instead tolerable! And in what I suppose is meant to be a complimentary comment, I’ll just say that it doesn’t go as crazily overboard with the faux-Mexican goofiness as they might have!
It could use a little more pep and a lot more Herbie, and the plot is baggy and the principals are mostly absent in the climax, but there’s nevertheless enjoyment to be had; and Herbie does indeed go bananas, if briefly! Plus it's got some old ringers in it, like Fritz "The Errand Boy" Feld as a chief steward and Vito "Von Ryan's Express" Scotti as a dogsbody! I’m going to give Herbie Goes Bananas one and a half wipers third class!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Burl reviews The Deadly Spawn! (1983)



Ha ha, Burl here to discourse on 80s horror movies! We all know that the best of them, the low-budget ones anyway, have a few particular things in common things which mark them as the cream of the crop, the purest expressions of 1980s B horror! The low-end line for this genre seems to lie between Don “Fiend” Dohler and Bill “Invasion From Inner Earth” Rebane, with those pictures lying on and below the Rebane side of the line being exceptionally regional and cheap! The upper regions wouldn’t extend much above The Power, stuff like that!
One key ingredient to these movies is the welter of blood that splashes against a wall, or better yet a bare lightbulb! Here I’m talking about The Evil Dead, Basket Case, maybe even Night Beast, probably Night of the Demon, and certainly the picture I’m talking about today, The Deadly Spawn! Ha ha, you’ll find no end of pleasures in this fine motion picture if you’re already a fan of this sort of thing, though if you’re a fan of this sort of thing, you’ll no doubt already have seen it!
But maybe, as was the case for me, it’s been a while! When I first saw this picture I wasn’t much older than the young monster-kid protagonist, and though I could not have matched his devotion to the cause, nor Cory’s in Friday the 13th part 4 (after all I never made masks, or even painted figures), I was fairly enraptured with this highly sympathetic portrayal of One Of Us!
The picture opens on a rainy day in New Jersey, the morning after the arrival of a mysterious meteor! Oh no, the basement is filled with spawn! One by one, the people of the house descend into the depths of the watery cellar, only to have their faces rasped off by the prolapsed gullet of the spawn! Ha ha, the spawn move about on sausage legs or slither through the watery basement, devouring householders and tradespeople alike! They movie upstairs, eating out the eyes of an unctuous uncle in an obvious tribute to The Birds, and, in a nearby house, disrupt a ladies’ luncheon! Watch for the intrepid old lady, the one who made the ratatouille, as she battles the verminous aliens with a ferocity matching that of Ripley from Aliens! I became very fond of that old lady, and she really represents the strongest claim The Deadly Spawn has on a similarity to any of the films in that blockbuster Twentieth Century Fox series!
There are some teenage characters, but they don’t accomplish much aside from becoming victims! Ha ha, one luckless lady, despite her creditable impersonation of a final girl, catches a combination decapitation and defenestration at the pin-hands of the spawn! Another guy, a real Jersey Joey-Jo-Jo, is driven nearly insensible by the spawn, which his brain refuses to accept! And of course it all ends with a giant spawn rearing up like a lost sandworm from Dune, roaring his pleasure at earthly conquest!
There’s entirely too much standing around in basements, and the kid hangs out down there approximately three million times longer than any other human being would, but the movie still keeps its Garden State snare in you all the way through! The monsters are simply delightful, and there’s enough gore for any taste! There’s even some unlikely and awkward semi-nud*ty! Yes, this movie delivers the goods!
I’ve still got a real soft spot for it and probably always will! A great watch on a dour and inclement day, just to see some people having a worse time of it than you! Ha ha, I give The Deadly Spawn three breakfast table issues of Famous Monsters!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Burl reviews Green For Danger! (1946)



A-ha ha, it’s Burl, here to review an English country house mystery story – with a difference! Here the English country house has been requisitioned and repurposed as a hospital “in the emergency of war,” and the mystery is set during the Blitz, with bombs falling unpredictably here and there! And the suspects are all doctors and nurses, ha ha!
The film in question is called Green For Danger, and it’s a terrific pickler of a picture, filled with marvelous voices and entertaining performances, and beautiful inky-black photography and cracking dialogue! The performance I most enjoyed was that of Alastair Sim, playing the detective on the case, Inspector Cockerill, “of Scotland Yard, I’m afraid,” who was also given the best dialogue!
The story tells, in one long, virtually uninterrupted flashback, of a murder done one August day in 1944, when doodlebugs were raining out of the skies and jury-rigged hospitals in expropriated manor houses dotted the land! The victim is a postman, who dies in an operation, and when a lovestruck theatre sister declares his death anything but an accident, she herself is summarily slaughtered in a scene that would not have been out of place in a Brian De Palma picture! Clearly, Inspector Cockerill tells us, the perpetrator is one of the five other people present in the operating room the morning of the postman’s death!
Inspector Cockerill goes about his investigation with an hilarious indelicacy! Sim tries a little physical comedy too, some one-man knockabout, but mainly relies on his marvelous staccato delivery and his constant knowing grin! It’s a highly entertaining performance! Surrounding him, the suspects, are a gallery of good actors, like Leo “Endless Night” Genn, playing a self-satisfied cocksman, and Trevor Howard from Von Ryan’s Express as the tetchy anesthesiologist! There’s a marvelous portly nurse with a marvelous voice, played by the marvelously named Megs Jenkins!
If you think the idea of a murder mystery set in wartime is an interesting idea, well, ha ha, you’re right, and this movie sure won’t disappoint! There was maybe a shade too much soap opera for my liking, and I was unable to perceive Leo Genn as a sex*al object pursued by multitudes, and the ending has some implausiblities involving a hypodermic, and I thought being called ‘sister’ meant you were a nun (or Pam Grier), but I guess not; but those are all small quibbles! It was overall a real cinder-burner!
And again, the best of all is Sim! Take it from me, you’ll be wishing there was a whole series of Inspector Cockerill films, even if his name makes him sound like a character in a high school VD film! I give Green For Danger three and a half resignation letters!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Burl reviews Nightmares! (1983)



Ha ha, Burl here, to review “this year’s sleeper!” That was the little phrase used to sell the omnibus horror movie Nightmares back in 1983, and I know because I had the poster for it hanging in my room for a while, with those eerie eyes and grabby hands! I recall seeing the movie in the theatre too, and thinking “Ha ha! I guess that was all right!”
I had less refined tastes back then, you see! I watched the movie again recently, and let me tell you this: it looks exactly like what it is! And what is it? Ha ha, it’s a made-for-TV movie that was judged by someone to be too good for the small screen, and was released into theatres on the assumption it would be a hit no one could have predicted! I don’t think it was much of a hit, and I don’t think it would have seemed out of place on 1980s TV either, ha ha! As horror anthologies go, it’s certainly many rungs below Dead of Night!
It was made by Joseph Sargent, the fellow who directed, on the one hand, the great Taking of Pelham 1,2,3, and on the other, Jaws: The Revenge! So you just never know what the guy’s going to come up with, ha ha! What he’s come up with here is four stories of largely suburban character, most of them pretty preposterous! The first one, “Terror in Topanga,” is the exception: a lady (Cristina Raines from The Sentinel and Hex) living in the canyon of the title is compelled to leave the house for cig*rettes when she knows perfectly well a maniac killer is stalking the neighborhood! The killer is played by Lee Ving, whom we know from Grave Secrets and Get Crazy, and the redherringsman who plugs him is an uncredited William “Blade Runner” Sanderson!
The second story is the one people remember best: “The Bishop of Battle!” Ha ha, let’s begin! Emilio Estevez, fresh from Repo Man, plays J.J., a youth maniacally addicted to video games, and in particular The Bishop of Battle, a sort of mash-up of Berzerker, Battleground and Asteroids! J.J. listens to the movie’s curiously legit So-Cal punk soundtrack (X, Black Flag, Lee Ving’s group Fear) as he gonzes out to his precious video games! After a video flip-out, on his parents and his little buddy Zonk (played by Billy “Hospital Massacre” Jacoby), J. J. faces the Bishop himself in all his vector-graphic majesty! The Bishop’s placid voice, provided by James Tolkan from Wolfen and Armed and Dangerous, gives him a slightly otherworldly eeriness!
Next comes Lance Henrikson, whom we know best from The Visitor, playing a desert-flower priest who’s lost his faith, and it takes a devilish pick-up truck to settle his hash, ha ha! Robin Gammell, from Skyline and Bells, plays, ha ha, The Cardinal! (I guess “The Bishop” was taken!) And the last story is “Night of the Rat,” in which Veronica Cartwright, whom we recall from The Witches of Eastwick, and her nasty umglaut of a husband, Richard “The Thing” Masur, are plagued by a big giant rat which spooks them and throws cornflakes!
Well, there’s the odd effective moment here and there, and a soupçon of pep, but no more than you might find in any garden-variety TV terror picture! The video game trick effects are pretty good I suppose, but the big giant rat looks like they got Bert I. Gordon to do it! Altogether unmemorable, but worth revisiting if you have fond memories of the Bishop! Ha ha, I’m going to give Nightmares one and a half cabinet-game fritz-outs!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Burl reviews Terror at Tenkiller! (1986)



Ha ha y’all, it’s Burl, here to review a movie of the South! The picture is so Oklahoma it’s got a fringe on top, and the title is Terror at Tenkiller! Now, the first thing I’ve got to tell you about this picture is that, immediately upon watching it with a couple of friends, probably Doug and Dave, on VHS many years ago, the three of us planned a road trip straight down to Lake Tenkiller, where the story takes place! I think we just saw the denizens of this region as so vastly different from ourselves as to feel driven by some anthropological imperative, like James Agee and Walker Evans!
Of course, these people are still a long mile from the swampbillies of Terror in the Swamp, so I’m not sure what fascinated us so about the Tulsans of Tenkiller! (Clearly the people we see acting in the film are locals – the thespian net was not cast too wide, ha ha! ) Anyway, we never went on the road trip, and I must admit I’ve still never been to Oklahoma! Ha ha, hope to get there one day!
Terror at Tenkiller, which is possibly one of the most padding-filled slasher movies ever made, begins with a murder committed by a guy named Tor! Ha ha, Tor disappointed me by never once, through the entire picture, grunting “Me go get fashlite fum patol kaa!” We then meet Leslie, a young lady who, under the guidance of her domineering, occasionally too-interested friend Janna, is taking a few days away from Josh, her possessive, rodent-cheeked b*yfriend! Josh is deeply unpleasant, and anyone can tell he’s a red herring and to be avoided except for this dim lass Leslie! It makes it hard to root for her, frankly, though much screen-time is devoted to discussions of how she became almost inextricably bound to this drawling bozo, and the difficulties of disentanglement!
And of course there are a few murders, committed by Tor, as we have been shown from the very beginning! By day Tor works as an assistant boat rentalsman at Tenkiller Marina, and uses his “Just another pockmarked good ol’ boy” charm to at*ract the young ladies of the parts! Now here’s the surprising thing: all the usual indicators of the direst slashers are here: dim lighting, summer-stock acting, dire mise-en-scene, an intolerable musical score! But in violation of the unwritten rules in producing such atrocious films, there are actual Special Makeup Effects!
Not many, mind you (it's no The Mutilator!), and not innovative in any way, but nevertheless they’re there: a throat-slashing, an arm-hacking and a knife stabbing into (counterfeit) backflesh! They do seem like afterthoughts, filmed and cut in when the horrified investors saw how dry the picture was! (This may be why there is no Special Makeup Effects credit, and if I had to guess, I’d say they were the work of the same duo who did the effects in Tulsa movies like Blood Cult and Revenge, and that one where Tom Savini plays a Jack the Ripper!)
It’s really an awful movie in every way, and the very terrible ending is an even worse purloin from Friday the 13th than we saw in Deep Star Six, but ghosts of that old Tenkiller fascination still linger! Plus, there are those few, brief trick effects and a defiantly regional atmosphere: big plusses in ol' Burl's book! Nevertheless, I can’t muster a rating of higher than one jelly arm, ha ha!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Burl reviews Drive-In! (1976)



Dancing like a hot dog wiener, it’s Burl, here to review a picture for you that exemplifies the 1970s as much as any movie I’ve ever seen in my life! Ha ha, the picture is called Drive-In, and of course much of it takes place at the titular institution, but not all of it!
It’s your basic one-night-in-the-life-of-a-small-town movie, like Hometown U.S.A. or any number of others – the sort of picture, in other words, that probably wouldn’t have been made had it not been for American Graffiti, though this one isn’t a nostalgia piece, or at least wasn’t intended as such when it was made! Now the fact is that I like this sort of picture, so I was predisposed to thinking kindly upon this one; and I like intentionally plotless movies, which is a feature Drive-In has in common with Malibu Beach and other favourites; and on top of this I like the 1970s, perhaps because the decade is so far back in the rear-view mirror!
Let me tell you, Drive-In has one of the densest and most concise collections of Seventiesania I’ve ever seen on film! You’ve got your drive-in, of course (not an exclusively 70s institution, but one which fits very comfortably within that decade); and you have a long scene at a roller rink with plenty of great roller rink details; and we have boogie van culture richly represented; and best of all, the movie playing a the drive-in this night is Disaster ’76, a fine send up of the Airport pictures and The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure and Jaws! (There are several Jaws references in Drive-In, actually, ha ha!)
As mentioned, there’s no plot to tell you about, but there are characters! The most like a protagonist is Orville, an average-guy ginger in the tradition of R. Howard, and strongly anticipating your Gary Hershberger types who would come along later on in pictures like Paradise Motel! Orville’s tubby brother is played by Engelberg himself, from The Bad News Bears! There’s a pair of very small-time crooks played by Trey Wilson (Nathan Arizona from Raising Arizona, don’t you know!) and a guy I thought must be Lou Perryman from Last Night at the Alamo, but turned out to be Gordon Hurst from The Sugarland Express! There’s Glowie, the young lady who’s taken a sh*ne to Orville now that she’s dumped the unpleasant Enoch, the stringy-haired big boss of the Widow Makers, a violence gang with a fondness for orange windbreakers! Ha ha, a run-on sentence is the only way to get all these characters in!
There are many more too: a doctor and his wife, a fellow who wants to marry his girl, a nasty theater manager, some other ladies, a whole other gang called the Gear Grinders, a fetching young candy-counter lady, and others upon others, and that’s not even counting the characters in Disaster ‘76! Ha ha, most of these people speak almost entirely in homespun idioms, which is a big part of the movie’s charm! Another part is the great songs, which are over-used perhaps, but well-chosen! You can't beat the Statler Bros.' "Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?" Ha ha!
Let me tell you, like Last Night at the Alamo, Bottle Rocket and Fandango, this is one of those little pictures that make you think fondly of both Texas and Texans - a mighty achievement! The movie is so easy-going for most of its length that you just want to hug it and thank it for being so kindly! There’s a little too much plot intrusion toward the end – the would-be robbers making their move, the gang warfare heating up and so forth – but for the most part this is one of those pictures you gently absorb rather than watch!
It’s a ten-bug picture as far as ol’ Burl is concerned, and a great watch! You’ll probably be able to find a copy if you try a little bit, and ha ha, I urge you to do so! I’m going to go ahead and give Drive-In three Texas Chainsaw Massacre posters and my most Burlian recommendation! And watch for the scene of the burly Hell's Angels observing a punch-up between Orville and Enoch! "Gang violence," one of them says! "It's frightening," another says mildly! Ha ha!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Burl reviews The Fugitive! (1993)



In pursuit of the one-armed man, it’s Burl, here to review one of those solid, middlebrow action pictures from the 90s! This one is of course The Fugitive, and I place it in the same round basket as In the Line of Fire and Heat!
Of course the picture is an update of that old TV series starring David Janssen, whom we know from movies like Cult of the Cobra, Moon of the Wolf and several Francis pictures too! Ha ha, I’ve got to check out one or two of those Francis movies and see if they’re as good as everyone says!
But anyway! We have Harrison Ford, famed from his role in The Long Ride Home, in the role of Dr. Richard Kimble, famous sawbones, who one night returns home to find his wife (Sela “Steele Justice” Ward) dying from a severe bonking, and a vicious unibracch lurking in the closets! The unibracch gets away and Kimble is accused of the crime, convicted and sent to the pokey! But wouldn’t you know it, on the way there his prison bus crashes and there’s a spectacular train crash sequence, very well pulled off by director Andrew “Above The Law” Davis!
Next thing you know he’s on the run from dogged U.S. Marshall Sam Gerard, played by Tommy Lee Jones, the actor well known for his performance in Black Moon Rising! Kimble uses all his considerable smarts to evade Gerard and his posse (which includes that beret-wearing individual Joe Pantoliano, best known from The Final Terror and The Mean Season), and the film depicts evasion after evasion in an episodic style! Kimble is apparently being helped along the way by his colleague Jeroen “The Living Daylights” Krabbé, but there may be hidden agendas at work! The unibrachh is played by a wild-haired Andreas Katsulas, whom we know from Next of Kin, and I won’t tell for sure, but there may be some connection between Krabbé and Katsulas – the K gang, ha ha!
It’s a fast-moving, entertaining, solidly-made picture with plenty of fine actors and suspenseful setpieces! There are a few memorable moments (the bus crash, the confrontation in a huge dam), but otherwise the movie doesn’t linger long in the old memory banks! As middlebrow Harrison goes, though, it’s more satisfying than Presumed Innocent, ha ha! It’s a good Hollywood production, and I give The Fugitive two and a half fake beards!