Tag Archives: film reviews

THE LAST DAYS OF PATTON (1986): MOVIE REVIEW

Last days of pattonTHE LAST DAYS OF PATTON (1986) – George C Scott SINGS! Yes, an ENTIRE SONG while camping it up like he’s in a vaudeville revue! Blood and Guts Song and dance man George S Patton belches belts out Lilly From Picadilly in a WTF moment from this otherwise reasonable made-for-tv movie which SHOULD have been titled AfterP*A*T*T*O*N.

Nearly two decades after George C Scott played Patton on the big screen he returned to the role to depict the final days of the controversial military icon. The above-referenced strange interlude in which the General sang on-stage was a mere aberration but you just knew that as weird as I am I would start out my review with it.  

The Scottsploitation angle is the best thing The Last Days of Patton has going for it, because without the novelty appeal of the charismatic actor in the lead role this telefilm would be hopelessly soap-operatic. We’re told the General had an affair with a younger woman but his stoic wife (Eva Marie Saint) tolerated it even though she did not approve. We also get lots of medical drama after Patton is paralyzed following a car accident in Germany the day before he was to leave for America.  

Last Days of Patton 2Roughly half of the movie is spent with the great George C Scott in a hospital bed, like we’re watching Whose Life Is It Anyway, Ya Pusillanimous Sons of Bitches? Scott is always watchable, and really shines here, but the other actors have no room. With such a gigantic figure – real-life Elmer Fudd voice aside – it may have been like that in reality, too. Sharing any stage with the likes of George S Patton must have been suffocating for one’s own ego.  Continue reading

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THE CRYBABY KILLER (1958) – TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT

Cry Baby Killer

In the middle 1980s/ Way down on Level 31 …

Before MST3K there was … The Texas 27 Film Vault!

EPISODE ORIGINALLY BROADCAST: Saturday June 15th, 1985 from 10:30pm to 1:00am.

SERIAL: Before showing and mocking The Crybaby Killer our members of the Film Vault Corps (“the few, the proud, the sarcastic”) showed and mocked an episode of the Mascot Serial The Phantom Empire (1935). 

Phantom EmpireIn that classically campy serial Gene Autry played a singing cowboy who saves the world from an advanced underground civilization that comes complete with killer robots who wear cowboy hats.

FILM VAULT LORE: The movie ticket give-away this week was for Prizzi’s Honor.

THE MOVIE: Continue reading

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LIFEPOD (1981): MOVIE REVIEW

lifepodLIFEPOD (1981) – Previously Balladeer’s Blog examined the worst movies from the Robert Emenegger/ Allan Sandler collaboration, most of them with Steven Spielberg’s sister Anne … plus half the Cameron Mitchell family. With Lifepod, we return to E-Space (Emenegger Space. Sorry, Doctor Who fans.). This time, however, it’s with an underrated movie that makes you root for it despite its budgetary limitations.  

The year is 2191. The moons of Jupiter have been colonized and are called the Jupiter States. A company nostalgically called the White Star Line has begun providing a spaceship cruise line to and from the Jupiter States. The flagship in this new line is called the Arcturus, with a state-of-the-art propulsion system and a revolutionary AI called a Cerebral running the ship. 

lifepod picAs the Arcturus, on its maiden run, approached Callisto, the Cerebral announced massive system failures and began shutting down life support systems while ordering the crew and passengers to evacuate in lifepods and await rescue from Callisto’s authorities. In their Mayday broadcasts the crew make it clear they no longer trusted Captain Montaine (Christopher Cary), who insisted the Arcturus was fine and the Cerebral was just malfunctioning.

The picture becomes further confused when the Arcturus‘ engines restart and it flies off now that the passengers are gone. Continue reading

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ANALOG ARCHIVES AND CHANNEL 7

analog archivesPreviously here at Balladeer’s Blog I covered YT Channels that featured what I considered the very best of the emerging subgenre of Analog Horror or “Unfiction” as a lot of people have labeled it. Those descriptive terms have been coined to help keep these creative efforts distinct from pure ARGs (Alternate Reality Games).

Last year I reviewed Local 58, Kris Straub’s latest venture, but many readers have since been expressing their discontent with the way the new 2020 episodes never materialized. Per Straub, that’s because Local 58‘s Analog Horror tale was going to incorporate a fictional pandemic, so given real-world events he decided to hold off and reorganize the series.

masc graveyard smaller(If you’re in the mood for Analog Horror which does NOT back away from pandemic and lockdown lore, check out Walker Creek Broadcast Station, but be aware that such lore is only incidental to the main storyline.)

At any rate, being left hanging like that with Local 58 left many of you asking about similar Analog Horror/ Unfiction series which are already completed. I’m happy to say that two of the most popular series are now available COMPLETE and IN ORDER. Even better, they have been edited into one long-form YT video each for your viewing convenience, rather than spread out episodically. (You damn whiners. I’m KIDDING!)  Continue reading

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MARDI GRAS MASSACRE – (1978)

Mardi Gras MassacreMARDI GRAS MASSACRE (1978) – Category: A neglected Bad Movie classic, but its hard-core gore will prevent it from ever having a Plan 9-sized cult following

It takes a twisted sort of genius to make multiple disembowelment murders look boring, but that’s exactly what Jack Weis accomplishes in Mardi Gras Massacre! Today may be Fat Tuesday, but let’s rechristen it “Splat Tuesday” in honor of this late 70s splatterfest. 

The actual “massacre” part of this movie is an incredible disappointment. An insane, hate-filled man with a knife – no, not Jim Bowie (rimshot) – is roaming around New Orleans during Mardi Gras targeting prostitutes as sacrificial offerings to the Aztec deities he worships.

That sounds promising for a horror film but the disembowelment ritual is reenacted word for word and movement for movement for EACH VICTIM! There is no variation and also no suspense because after the first killing we know exactly how all the subsequent sacrifices will play out. The only chills come from listening to the awful disco music that plays during the ceremonial slayings. (“NOOOOOOOOOO!”) Continue reading

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SAMURAI FILMS – THE SON OF THE BLACK MASS SERIES

Raizo Ichikawa as the red-haired Samurai Kyoshiro Nemuri, the Son of the Black Mass.

Raizo Ichikawa as the red-haired Samurai Kyoshiro Nemuri, the Son of the Black Mass.

Balladeer’s Blog begins its examination of various Samurai films from Japan. In keeping with my blog’s overall theme I won’t be covering the uber-popular Samurai flicks like Yojimbo, The Seven Magnificent Samurai or the Musashi Miyamoto Trilogy. Regular readers who are familiar with my contempt for organized religion will not be at all surprised that I’ll be starting out with the Son of the Black Mass series of films starring Raizo Ichikawa, often called “the James Dean of Japan.”

In addition to the twelve Ichikawa movies I will also cover the two entries in the series made after Raizo’s untimely death from cancer. After that, to be a fully comprehensive look, I will also examine the original novels as well as the three Son of the Black Mass movies made in the 1950’s, even though they did not have the cinematic impact of the films starring Raizo Ichikawa.

Raizo Ichikawa headshotThe odd title of the movie series comes from the fact that the title character, former Samurai turned Ronin Kyoshiro Nemuri, is the child of a Japanese woman and the crazed Portugese missionary who raped her. The insane missionary was dabbling in Satanism and Nemuri was conceived during a Black Mass ritual, hence the series title. The deadly swordsman inherited his hated father’s red hair and when a heavy rain washed out the black dye Nemuri was disguising it with, his exposure as a half-breed led to his shunning and his fallen status. Continue reading

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RESIDENT EVIL MOVIES: A GUILTY PLEASURE

Resident EvilHere at Balladeer’s Blog I’ve always had a soft spot for the Resident Evil movies. I’m not implying that they’re good by any means, but as guilty pleasures I consider them pretty watchable in a Spaghetti Western sense. You don’t expect logic or well-maintained continuity in the original Django or Sartana series any more than you do from the Stranger or Hallelujah flicks or any of the other lower-level pulp series of Italo-Westerns.

To me the six Resident Evil movies (2002 – 2017) can be viewed the same way – as unpretentious B-movies with a kind of relaxing sameness and stories that are so unchallenging you can chit-chat with friends or loved ones while they’re on.

Resident Evil ApocalypseSeventies chop-socky films are another example. You might watch them but you sure as hell can’t defend them from criticism.

Milla Jovovich’s Alice is, to me, the main reason to watch these films. She’s believable in the action scenes and deserves recognition for the way she kicks post-apocalyptic butt in SIX movies as the same character. No other leading female figure has matched that feat in THEATRICAL RELEASE, English-language films. Not Lara Croft and not even Ellen Ripley. Continue reading

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SPIELBERG … ANNE SPIELBERG

masc graveyard smallerSteven Spielberg’s sister Anne got her start as a producer for many of the cheapjack science fiction films of Robert Emenegger and Allan Sandler. She had worked with them – and Cameron Mitchell – as far back as 1975’s Death: The Ultimate Mystery. With apologies to fans of the original Doctor Who series, to me “E-Space” will always mean EMENEGGER SPACE, as in the Emenegger-verse of his series of movies in 1980 and 1981.

Emenegger Space is full of Grade Z special effects, bad acting, a few good ideas and an overall feel of striving for Alien and Star Trek levels but falling far, far short.  

Warp SpeedWARP SPEED (1981) – Set in the far-off year 2013 (!) this movie features the crew of a spaceship sent to determine what happened to the vanished crew of a multi-year mission to Saturn. The organization they serve is called Starfleet, which serves as a reminder that by 1981 there was just the original Star Trek series, its cartoon version and one movie, not the enormous universe of spin-offs that we have today. Point being that the term Starfleet was apparently open for use by other creators. Starfleet features in another Spielberg/ Emenegger/ Sandler joint, too.

Adam West plays Captain Lofton, the leader of the now-lost mission, and has assorted offspring of Cameron Mitchell backing him up in this movie. One such Mitchell, Camille, stars as Dr Janet Trask, a psychic who is sent into the abandoned Atlas vessel to investigate the cause of the crew’s disappearance.

Trask is outfitted with tech which sends back images of the psychic visions she receives of past events on the ghost-ship. Amid assorted David Lynch-style psychosexual interludes we see disaster strike the Atlas, followed by an aborted mission and ultimately a mutiny as the crew try to get the damaged craft back to the Earth. Continue reading

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OBJECT Z (1965): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

Object ZOBJECT Z (1965) – Directed by Daphne Shadwell and written by Christopher McMaster, this was one of the many six-episode science fiction serials from British television of the 1950s and 1960s. The Quatermass serials are among the best remembered of those programs but there were also items like The Trollenberg Terror, a serial later adapted into the B-Movie The Crawling Eye.

If you’ve seen any of the other British programs like this you’ll know what to expect and whether or not you’ll enjoy this one. Personally I find them fun AND fun-bad all at once so to me they’re more than worth watching.

The storyline in Object Z involves the sighting of a distant space object which, as it draws nearer to the Earth, is determined to be at least six miles long and made of either stone or metal. Soon it becomes clear that it is going to collide with the Earth. Continue reading

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NICK CARTER IN PRAGUE (1978): MOVIE REVIEW

Nick Carter in PragueNICK CARTER IN PRAGUE (1978) – This film seems to like to hide from the millions of Nick Carter fans in the world by also going under titles like Adele Has Not Had Her Dinner or Dinner With Adele. I originally planned to review this movie last year but the passing of actor Robert Conrad prompted me to review his telefilm The Adventures of Nick Carter instead.

Created in 1886, Nick Carter was technically a private detective in New York City but really he was less of a sleuth and more of a forerunner of crime-fighting paragons like Doc Savage and Batman. Nick lasted through the end of the Dime Novel era and well into the age of Pulp Magazines, yet by the 1970s he was a much more popular character in Europe than in his homeland. Even before Nick Carter in Prague was released there had been a French-Italian animated series about Nick’s adventures.

This Czech film was directed by Oldrich Lipsky and starred Michal Docolomansky as Nick Carter. If you want a glib “pitch-meeting” style description of this movie think of it as a tongue-in-cheek effort like Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy but directed by Tim Burton and with a surreal, European arthouse feel.

Michal as Nick CarterThe approach is wry and knowing but without stooping to the overdone camp of 1975’s Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, starring Ron Ely. Nick Carter in Prague is often labeled a comedy but don’t go into it expecting laughs, just lots of smiles like during Dick Tracy or Tim Burton’s Batman. It’s more “comedy” as in whimsical fantasy touches, not hard belly laughs.

The film is set around 1905 judging by the automobiles, and the opening minutes provide a nice introduction to Nick Carter. He’s a world-famous detective/ crime fighter whose exploits earn him plenty of headlines. Police departments and Secret Services around the world bombard him with requests for help and he survives multiple attempts on his life by a variety of enemies as part of his daily routine at his office.

Nick has so many pleas for his services that he selects who he’ll help next at random. The “winner” is Countess Thun (Kveta Fiolova) of Prague, so our hero is off to then-Czechoslovakia. The countess has a lot of pull with her government and Carter is given a hero’s welcome. The tubby Commissar Ledvina (Rudolf Hrusinsky) is assigned to help Nick in every way. Continue reading

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