Horrors of Spider Island (aka "The Spider's Web" and "Girls of Spider Island")
Starring: Alex D'Arcy, Helga Franck, and a bunch of washed-up dancers and wanna-be porn actresses.
Director: Fritz Boettger
An impresario (D'Arcy) and his Girl Friday (Franck) are on their way to Singapore with a recently hired troupe of obnoxious, bitchy strippers and chorus girls when their plan crashes. They take refuge on a desolate south sea isand, where the heat makes the girls strip down to bare essentials, where they are menaced by a goofy-looking spider puppet, and where their fearless leader (who's named Gary is soon transformed into a hideous half-man, half-spider creature. And that;'s when things get REALLY boring.
I understand there's an "adults only" version of this film that was released, That's not the version I saw. Maybe nudity makes it more interest, although I sincerely doubt that. This is worth ignoring by everyone except those wanting to try their hands at a bit of homemade "Mystery Science Theater 3000"-fun. It's the perfect vehicle for that, if you have witty friends. (I also understand that there already IS a hilarious MSTK3000 version of the film in existence.
The only horror you'll find in this film is the realization you actually watched it, once you're done.
Three children, born at the same moment in a small town hospital under a full eclipse, go on a killing spree shortly before their tenth birthday. Clever and evil beyond their years, will they manage to finish off the only people who suspect them (Lethin and Martel) before the pair can find proof that anyone will believe?
"Bloody Birthday" is an excellent concept for a movie that plays like a cross between "Village of the Damned" and "Beware: Children at Play". It features a decent musical score and a fine cast of actors--with child actors Elizabeth Hoy (as a blonde, angelic-looking moppet who likes to choke her victims with a jump rope) and Billy Jacoby (as a bespecled bookworm who likes to lock playmates in abandoned refridgerators and grins happily while blasting victims into oblivion with a gun stolen from a dead police officer) are particularly chilling as the two lead killer kids, but everyone else also does a fine job in their respective parts. (Even comedienne Julie Brown in an early film role is good... although her part consists almost entirely of dancing around half naked.)
Unfortunately, this is another one of those films that's lacking in one of the most important departments--it's script. The film just sort of meanders from murder to murder, as our trio of devils with the faces of angels escalate the terror they're visiting upon the town. While the killer kids should definately be the focus here, it would have been nice if there had been a little more meat and organization of the material between the murders. (We have police work so sloppy that Barney Fife would be embarrassed by it--has no one in the town heard of ballstics or autopsies?-- characters that are introduced for absolutely no reason--such as Lori Lethin's boyfriend--and there are only two of a number of "gun above the fireplace" moments that end up paying off; both unexcusable artifacts of sloppy writing and even sloppier filmmmaking.)
The writer also ultimately wusses out at the end. I know there's unwritten rule of filmmaking that you NEVER kill off a kid, but if there ever was a film where a kid or two NEEDED to be wasted, then this is it! One dead or severely injured kid at the end of this film would have improved it quite a bit, and I wouldn't have been left with the feeling the filmmakers chickened out at the end.
Although far from perfect, this film has enough good bits in it to make it worth seeing. There are some excellently staged moments where two-thirds of our trio of killer kids is trying to run a girl over with a car, and another where a boy is trying to escape from a fridge he's been locked inside. It's a film that's of interest to lovers of slasher-movies--particularly if your interest goes beyond mere entertainment and crosses over into scholarly/criticism--and it's also a perfect addition to any "bad seed"- or "murder in a small town"-themed Bad Movie Night. (Perhaps making it one-half of a double-feature with "[URL=http://www.rottentomatoes.com/vine/journal_view.php?journalid=245672&entryid=371739&view=public]Beware! Children at Play[/URL]" is worth considering.)
Bloody Birthday (aka "Creepers")
Starring: Lori Lethin, Elizabeth Hoy, K.C. Martel, Billy Jacoby, Julie Brown, and Andy Freeman
Director: Ed Hunt
Time travel is a reality, but only if you don't wear pants.
Such is the case in "Idaho Transfer" where half a dozen young scientists partaking in an illicit time-travel experiment are stranded 57 years in the future after a mysterious disaster has wiped civilization (and possibly even human life) from the world.
Despite my amusement at the fact that the time machine only works if those using it take off their pants--the movie gives a rationale for the need to do so, but it's so laughable that the real reason had to have been the director liked to see young women in their panties--this is a dark, bleak film that ultimately conveys the message that there is no hope for humanity, no matter what we try. However, unlike other movies of this kind, it's a message delivered by decent actors, with interesting visuals, and a script that although nearly devoid of action is never boring.
This is one of those films that doesn't deserve the obscurity it's been consigned to. It's fate was sealed the week of its release in 1973 when its distributor went bankrupt. It was released briefly to home video some 15 years later, but soon vanished again. It took nearly two additional decades for it to see a true wide release, and it is now available in a couple of different DVD editions that are easy to come by.
And this is a good thing, because not only is this a quality movie that deserves an audience... and one might even be able to asser that it's a true classic that's fallen through the cracks of the movie business.
"Idaho Transfer" carries a message that's just as timely now as it was in 1973. It will even speak to more people than it did back then, as there are even greater numbers of those are convinced that the world will come to an end the day after tomorrow, due to pollution, over-population, and sinister goverment plots that there were some 35 years ago.
If only the similarly-themed "An Inconvenient Truth" could have delivered its message with the same level of class as "Idaho Transfer", it might have been tolerable to sit through. Yes, one is a supposed documentary and the other is pure fiction, but the makers of "An Inconvenient Truth" could have taken a lesson or two from the 35 year old film "Idaho Transfer" in regards to delivering a message about the dangers of excessive exploitation of the planet. The chilling, quiet ending to "Idaho Transfer" and the pall that hangs over the entire film stays with you far longer than the with a megaphone-and- and-sledgehammer approach of "An Inconvenient Truth".
I highly recommend "Idaho Transfer" to those who like well-done but downbeat sci-fi films in the "end of the world" mold. I reccommend the film even more highly if you're a member of the Cult of Al Gore and only wipe your ass with one piece of toilet paper at a time, and if you've stopped washing your hair to save energy. This is a movie that will speak volumes to you (pants or no pants).
"Idaho Transfer" is included in Mill Creek's 50-movie pack "Nightmare Worlds", and it's one of several reason why that set is a very worthwhile purchase.
(The film can also be had as a stand-alone DVD, but you'll be paying almost the same to get it that way as you will if you get "Nightmare Worlds" (at least if you [url="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000H5U68O?ie=UTF8&tag=stevemillesdo-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B000H5U68O"] order the set from Amazon.com[/url]. The smart money says you get the Big Box with the 49 bonus movies--some of which are actually pretty darn good.)
Starring: Kelly Bohanon, Kevin Hearst, Caroline Hildebrand, and Keith Carradine
Director: Peter Fonda
Entombed alive after getting frisky with a the God of Vengance's favorite concubine, Aziru (Curtis) is restored to some semblence of life and given a chance to earn the god's forgiveness after the obnoxious media baron Lord Moxton (Cohen) breaks into and loots the temple that is his resting place in the name of archeological science (and personal glory). All Aziru has to do is kill those who desecrated the temple and then sacrifice the reincarnated concubine (Hardy) to the gods and the stars.
"The Mummy Lives" claims to be based on Edgar Allan Poe's humorous tale "Some Words with a Mummy", but it plays out more like a rewrite of the classic 1932 film "The Mummy" by someone who missed the whole point of that story. While we have a pair of lovers reunited across the ages--Tony Curtis as the revived ancient Egyptian priest who speaks with a pronounced New York accent while going on about how he's a true son of Egypt and so on, and Leslie Hardy as the current-day incarnation as the woman he loved and lost everything for--we don't have the love story that made "The Mummy" so engaging. Instead, we have an uninteresting plot about an unsympathetic villain stalking and killing a bunch of even less sympathetic characters, while preparing to sacrifice a young woman who's died and been reborn so many times that the god MUST have been able to reclaim his concubine at some point.
Not only does "The Mummy Lives" not have the engaging story of the 1932 version of "The Mummy", it also lacks the visual style of its forebearer. It also lacks the visual lushness of the 1959 "The Mummy", with which it also shares plot similarities. Finally, it features a lackluster cast of mediocre talent that can't hold a candle to the likes of Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Zita Johann, Yvonne Furneaux, David Manners and Peter Cushing--all of whom have played the parts featured in "The Mummy Lives" far better.
(The only actor who can't be described as mediocre is Tony Curtis, but he is as horribly miscast here as any role I've ever seen. And his performance is definately lazy... whould it have killed him to attempt SOME sort of accent? No one knows what a native speaker of ancient Egyptian who learns English through some strange magic would sound like... but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be like a butcher from Brooklyn.
If you're a fan of mummy movies who wants to see everything this particular horror subgenre has to offer, I suppose you should watch "The Mummy Lives"...it's not as bad as "Mummy Raider" or even "The Mummy's Curse". However, if you want to see this particular kind of mummy tale done right, stick with either the 1932 version of "The Mummy" [URL=http://www.rottentomatoes.com/vine/journal_view.php?journalid=245672&entryid=344261&view=public](review here)[/URL] or the one made in 1959 [URL=http://www.rottentomatoes.com/vine/journal_view.php?journalid=245672&entryid=264012&view=public](review here)[/URL].
The Mummy Lives
Starring: Tony Curtis, Leslie Hardy, Greg Wrangler, Jack Cohen, and Moshe Igvy
Director: Gerry O'Hara
Dream of a Warrior
Starring: Leon Lai, Park Eun-Hye, and Lee Na-Young
Director: Park Hee-Joon
Dean, a Soul police detective (Lai) starts having strange dreams of a beautiful girl being menaced by monsters (Eun-Hye). He is soon assigned by his superiors to help Dr. Jang, a researcher working on time travel experiments. Dean learns that the girl of his dreams is the doctor's daughter, who he, in true mad scientist fashion, used as the test subject in one of his experiments and ended up stranding her in a distant time and place. Dean is the only one who can save her, and soon he too is sent long ago and far, far away, to the world of Dillmoon where the last outpost of cilization is being menaced by evil madmen who wield second-rate computer graphics as their primary weapons!
"Dream of a Warrior" is a fantasy movie that wants to be a sci-fi film. Or maybe it's a sci-fi movie that wants to be a fantasy film. Whatever it is, it's a hodge-podge of ideas that don't mesh very well. Most of the film consists of the story of the final days of Dillmoon and the last incarnations of Lai and Eun-Park as the doomed lovers, Dean and Princess Rose.
In fact, the whole time travel concept is such a small part of what goes on that it's almost extraneous. However, add to the mix a group of cultists that appear early in the film who warn about dire consequences when Jang's experiment links our world to Dillmoon (who then never reappear, and whose predicted dire consequences never pay off), as well as the fact that Dean isn't the only character in the movie that has a counterpart on Dillmoon, and the time travel aspect goes from a ill-fitting add-on to a sword-and-sorcery fantasy film to a convuloted and ill-conceived twist.
There's an average time-travel/eternal-warrior love story that's been smashed together with an average sword-and-sorcery story in "Dream of a Warrior", but the combined total is something that's less than worthwhile. Maybe the 100-minute version that was released in Hong Kong and Korea makes more sense, but the 87-minute international version (the one I viewed) was entertaining but severely lacking in any decent pay-offs from its disparate elements.