Dr Frankenstein has buried his old identity and is now working at an asylum where he basically has complete control and harvests the inmates for their body parts so that he may continue his ghastly experiments on reanimation with the help of an ambitious doctor who has been institutionalised. Using pieces from the asylum's most promising inmates, Frankenstein patches up a horrific brute of a monster who is as sad and tortured as he is grotesque.
Hammer's last Frankenstein film is arguably one of the best of their final years. Director Terence Fisher was back at the helm for one last crack before retiring. Peter Cushing ( sporting a bad wig here) was back in his most famous role. And as usual, Hammer provided a good supporting cast as well as some tight script writing. So the stage was set to give the Frankenstein series one last big hurrah and for the most part, it works completely. The film is a true sequel which is good, as elements from the previous films are incorporated (either for a little in-joking or for plot developments including Frankenstein being burned at the end of Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed) to allow for newer developments to make way. Unlike the Dracula series, one of the strengths of the Frankenstein series was to re-invent itself and look original in every instalment (despite the plots being almost the same). At no point here do you feel like you've been here before and it's all seemingly original material we're given. Logical progression of the story has made Frankenstein more evil and murderous in each instalment and finally Fisher decides to go the full distance and relish the fact that the previously-sane-although-corrupt scientist is now simply a mad killer who doesn't realise the futility of what he's doing. Credit must be given to Cushing as well because his performance verges on the sane/insane and at times you don't know which side of the line he's treading. It's a fitting finale for Cushing in his best cinematic role, even though he could have slept-acted the part now. Shane Briant as his assistant is also pretty good and reminds the viewer of how Frankenstein used to be: a little cold, naive but intelligent and ruthless nonetheless. Dave Prowse plays the part of the monster and through his mannerisms, he manages to turn the creature into a sympathetic and pitiful monster. For the first time, Hammer decided to actually go with an out-and-out monster instead of just some guy with a big head and big boots. That's maybe one of the reasons why so many people dislike this entry. Albeit the suit isn't particularly convincing but it's still believable if you remember this is a mixture of about 60 body parts from different people - it ain't gonna be perfect folks. Gore was upped in the later Hammer films and there are plenty of surgical pleasantries here, with no less a brain transplant revealed in all of it's shocking power. Depending on what version you get, some parts may be censored ( this cuts my rating down half a star since the US DVD is the cut version. Try to find the old laser disc from Japan to see the uncut version) And like the rest of the Hammer films, it wouldn't be a Frankenstein film without the finale where the monster does meet it's maker (but not before a classic Hammer moment where the creature is digging graves during a lightning storm).
To sum up here. Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is an excellent finale to the Frankenstein series and that's because everyone from the director to the actors to the guys who makes the coffee seem to be on top form here. Check it out.
One of the hardest things to do for me is watch a film adapted from a novel I have read. Sadly, one is often expecting more and left with less, and for this reason I resisted watching this movie for many many years. But I can say, the purist might easily find many faults, indeed I had, but as a film I can respect it and recommend it as a good film about romance, titillation and for its time a bold attempt to capture a complex and controversial novel on film.
The casting was mostly superb. Each main character was believable, even if they did not fully walk off the pages so to speak. As the title character, Corinne Clery physically fulfilled the part of O, and I found her to have delivered a lovely rendering of the character, as the other actors seemed to also achieve.
The Story of O is a love story, and at bottom I think the film artfully delivered a good romance movie. I expected bad pornography but was very pleased with the it, certainly it has some kitsch and the S&M might offend some, but even that actually gets delivered rather gingerly and I thought respectfully. Perhaps that is my greatest concern with the film, that it gently tells a hard story, that it masks what should have been unmasked, but it is unfair to pommel the film over that because I am not certain the real story could have been told on film even in France.
It is respectful criticism that I only fault the film for drifting from the story on points that I feel cause the film to become more about filming than storytelling. I also must say that the film at times was too literal from the novel and seemed to lose some of the context that I say this in recognition that the novel is not an easy story to convey because it is subject to a lot of interpretation by the reader.
I think the more tragic ending of the book would not have served this film, the apparent happy ending for O and Rene and Sir Stephan makes this film its own interpretation, one I can respect and even enjoy.
I recommend a reading of the book to any viewer and feel that if one can view how O is pursuing uninhibited and unconditional love, even at great sacrifice, then both book and movie might have greater impact than a visage of Ms. Clery's lovely body and some kinky overlays of Sadomasochism.
In a nutshell this is Rear Window with giant bugs. This is a decent sequel to " Mimic" that works despite its low budget ( most of the film, even the exteriors are shot on a set). It has its own sense of style and actually has some very creepy and scary scenes that are played in shadow. I'm sure its one of those cases of financial necessity leads to creative invention since you can tell they didn't have the budget for huge effects shots. Also you have a solid cast here with Alexis Dziena and Lance Henriksen being the standouts To sum up, This one is worth a look if your in the mood for a good horror rental and if your a fan of Mimic.
By the time this film was over, I couldn't help thinking that if it were made today, using modern technology and special effects, "Dementia 13" might be one of the all time great horror and psychological thrillers. Add to that the fabled directing of an experienced Francis Ford Coppola, and you would have a modern day classic instead of a 1960's era 'B' grade programmer. Even so, the movie stacks up remarkably well, dated or not, particularly in the creepy edge given to it by the dysfunctional Haloran clan and it's setting in an old Irish castle.
Early on, we're led to believe that the scheming Louise Haloran (Luana Anders) will play a primary role in the Haloran saga, out to secure a sizable fortune upon the death of her mother in law (Eithne Dunn). She's not above a bit of skulduggery when her husband John dies of a heart attack while rowing on an estate pond; she merely weights his body down and sends it overboard. Blaming his disappearance on a business trip, Louise prepares to deal with the annual ritual of honoring the memory of John's deceased sister Kathleen, now dead for seven years. Mother Haloran presides over the austere gathering under black umbrellas, just as the original ceremony was conducted in the rain, a very effective touch.
John and Kathleen have two surviving brothers, Richard and Billy, (William Campbell, Bart Patton), and as the movie progresses, one begins to understand that something is not quite right with either one of them. Through deft storytelling and misdirection, Coppola guides our way through an intricately weaved mystery that plays out among suffocating underwater scenes and well timed ax thrusts. The appearance of a very lifelike doll in the image of young Kathleen keeps showing up in unusual places, adding resonance to the mystery.
The Haloran family doctor, portrayed by Patrick Magee, has his own ideas about what's going on, but manages to cast suspicion on himself along the way. Watch carefully in the movie's latter half when he enters a work shed and discovers the body of Louise and the lifelike Kathleen doll. Carefully picking up the doll, he closes the shed door, and immediately in the next scene is shown walking with the doll in his arms and a cigar in his mouth.
As flashback scenes of young Kathleen's drowning death recur through brother Billy's memories, the link is established to the identity of the film's ax wielding loony. When his identity is finally revealed after taking a bullet from the vigilant Dr. Caleb, he utters the message earlier seen on a headstone which lay buried beneath the pond's surface - "Forgive me Kathleen".
Taken together, and reflecting on all the elements of the story, "Dementia 13" defines itself as a satisfying horror mystery that laid the groundwork for future greatness for it's young director Francis (minus the Ford) Coppola. When you consider that Coppola also wrote the original story, you'll have an even greater appreciation of the film, and rightfully so. Fans of Mr. Coppola and 1960's horror should not miss this one.
The Changeling stars George C. Scott as John Russell, a music composer whose life is shattered when an accident kills both his wife and young daughter. Relocating to Seattle, Russell rents a large Gothic style mansion from which to bury himself in his work. But he soon discovers he is not alone in the house, there is a ghost here and it desperately wants his help with something......
Not a teenager or a scantily clad bad actress in sight here, for this is a traditional haunted house spooker for the adults, one that has a distressing mystery at its core that's just aching to be solved. Chief screen writer Russell Hunter has based much of the film on an incidents that happened to him in real life when he moved into a house in Denver. If you believe him or not is not really the point, because it does not take away from just how well executed The Changeling is, both as a scary movie and a well thought out drama. There's limited characters in the narrative, thus keeping the film free from filler and the clumsy character set-ups that mar so many horror films these days. It's also worth noting that it doesn't suffer from dating either, and proves a haunted house tale can be effective in any decade if the writing and direction is spot on. The Changeling has both, plus a towering and believable performance from Scott leading the way.
Director Peter Medak clearly knows that an imposing house is a key element. Utilising the big spaces to emphasise Russell's loneliness, he sweeps his camera around the sets (this is not a real house, it's a brilliant mock-up creation by the designers) to give the feeling of a spirit observing proceedings. The house is always a main character and acts as the perfect backdrop to some ghostly goings on (excellent work from the sound department too). The chills are genuine, the attic room is creepy personified, a rubber ball, a wheelchair, a bath sequence, an old water well and even the gentle tinkling from a music box, all induce the hairs on the back of the neck to stand to attention. All played out to some lush unholy musical arrangements from Ken Wannberg (the music box theme composed by Howard Blake).
Setting it apart from conventional haunted house movies is that it has a most intriguing story to tell. One of murder, greed, deception and grief. The latter part is often forgotten when talk of The Changeling arises. John Russell is absolutely stricken with grief, this stops him from being one of those characters who you shake your head at because they refuse to leave a clearly troubled house. His grief process, which makes him the ideal host for what this spirit wants, means he has no fear, some unhappy ghost can't hurt him anymore than he is hurting anyway. It's a neat and seamless meditation on grief that's threaded into the story. The last quarter of the film slips into action territory, which is a little jarring given the smooth pacing Medak has favored up to that point. But although the scares have gone, the intelligent story has come full circle and the film closes down triumphantly without copping out or having resorted to unimaginative formula.
An essential viewing for those who like haunted house movies; especially if you like slow build and genuine mystery as well.
The strangest thing about this movie is that, being so weird and original, it still strikes hard on your feelings. The characters have a life of their own that makes you think that you know them from before. And you love them for that. Bill Murray is just wonderful here. The music and the CGI images are so original, so modern and so anachronistic at the same time that make the perfect complement for this weird story that is, in fact, a work of fantasy about what could have been the life of a maritime show celebrity as Jacques Cousteau. There were moments when I saw this film that I did not know if this was a dream or if it was an actual movie. It also touches you in so many ways with its melancholy and its hints at the meaning of friendship and fatherhood? I am not a fan of Wes Anderson per se but let me tell you, he hit me hard with this film.
Paul (Christopher Collet) is your typical slacker genius, with a bit of a bad streak. One day, he crosses paths with John Mathewson (John Lithgow), a nuclear physicist who arrives in his peaceful suburban hometown to set up a plutonium refinery hidden behind the less threatening façade of Medatomics, a company specializing in nuclear medicine. Sure enough, Mathewson starts to get soft on Paul's mom, so he invites Paul out to the lab to check out the cool lasers and get some bonding time in. What Mathewson fails to realize is that Paul doesn't just have his head in the big books, he's a borderline criminal mastermind with a flair for the dramatic. Little does Paul know, the plutonium he's about to hijack is 99.997% pure. This mutual misunderstanding forms the basis behind the rest of the plot to follow.
Aided by Jenny (a teenaged Cynthia Nixon of "Sex and the City" fame), Paul builds from scratch his own private nuclear bomb, perhaps for the political activism aspect, but most likely for the challenge.
He's the unassuming punk of the science fair, a sarcastic, easygoing prankster surrounded by quirky science nerds who won't get laid until they're 37. This isn't his scene, and he's not here to compete with these kids. His aspirations are grander. At which point, Mathewson makes the connection his plutonium is missing. That's when this innocent scholarly pursuit goes horribly, horribly wrong.
Let's just say Paul's brand of political activism is performance art. And the name of his piece is "mutually assured destruction."
The Manhattan Project has more soul than most '80s "science whiz" movies in its class. A lively, charming bomb construction montage, and the product placement of Duracell on the bomb itself, have "classic" written all over them. Snappy, wisecracking dialogue decorates the script: "Jenny...I never thought I'd say this to anybody, but...I gotta go get the atomic bomb out of the car."
Most of the time, it's a lighthearted, idealistic retelling of the Radioactive Boy Scout - less a cautionary tale and more of a "kids versus the adults" caper. Scenes of Paul implementing devious chemistry, pranking the class know-it-all with home-brewed explosives, and outwitting security guards, government personnel, and the military puts this movie in the same league as Wargames.
Half the fun is watching how easily Paul manipulates his environment: He fires up computer consoles in a government lab like he's going for the high score at Pac-Man, makes operating a robotic arm look as easy as riding a bike, and maneuvers an RC car with the deftness of Jason Statham in Transporter 3. I laughed particularly at the simplicity with which he acquired C-4 and the nonchalance with which he handled weapons-grade plutonium. Unbelievable? Of course. But it's a hella good time.
What makes it work is the character of Mathewson: he's far from the preachy buffoon of an authority figure typically relegated to this kind of role. We don't even have any conflict arising from him stepping into the shoes of Paul's absent father. Instead of piling on reasons for him and Paul to be at odds with each other, the writers have crafted a more interesting, respectful relationship. You're endeared to both of them simultaneously, and only want for them to form their inevitable alliance, which is continuously prevented by circumstance.
There's no pointed commentary here. It's antinuclear proliferation to be sure, but that's about where the political sophistication ends. There is no villain in a black hat...that is, until we reach the end of the second act, where The Manhattan Project suddenly turns into my second-favorite scientists-vs.-military movie behind The Abyss.
Mathewson is a competent, morally sound realist surrounded by halfcocked gorillas. It's his character whose dramatic arc we're witnessing. He admires Paul for his resourcefulness but doesn't understand his motivations. By the end of the film, he's squaring off with the military himself.
At one point near the film's frantic climax, he turns aside, hundred-yard-stare, a sheen of sweat on his brow, and you feel his guilt about the power his lab-coated ilk have willfully turned over to the men with big guns and little brains - an exchange that has been going on, in this field of science, since the titular event of 1942.
Oddly enough, the last ten minutes pack the most comedic punch. Or maybe that's just my devious sense of humor.
Overall, The Manhattan Project is great fun. An unpretentious script, memorable scenes, and one of Lithgow's best roles (if I may be so bold) make this an undeniable cult classic. If you haven't seen it yet, it's the perfect fix to your '80s nostalgia habit.
In Snake Eyes, De Palma has made a film that is deeply immersing and one that makes sure you're giving it your unrelenting attention (at least until the last twenty minutes) that isn't on a really grand scale like in Mission: Impossible. Snake Eyes is a relatively straight forward mystery, detective film; much like Mission: Impossible yet unlike that film, it is compelling and interesting with characters we spend enough time with to grow to like and despise; with characters who drift in and out of the story and with camera work, setting and trickery more akin to a sports car commercial.
One reason Snake Eyes is a good film is that it takes place in a rather extravagant setting, has a narrative that starts off as nothing and that escalates as the film progresses and combines good pacing and scripting throughout. This is sort of the film Mission: Impossible wanted to be but that was all over the world with characters who you thought were dead but showed up later anyway and a film that was nice to look at but there was too much going on - Snake Eyes is based in one location, a location that starts off as a utopia for gambling, sports fans and people looking for a break. There is color, energy, bright lights from the gambling machines and enough product placement to suggest you are definitely in the Western world attempting to go from rags to the American dream in a second through one-arm bandits.
De Palma prides himself on his camera work and split screen effect. Sometimes it hits, sometimes it misses but in Snake Eyes it hits dead centre. The opening take (which actually contains a few cuts) is fun as well as effective but very immersing - putting you in the film. Also, the way multiple points of view are integrated into the film as different people's stories are being told is reminiscent of characters floating in and out of a multi stranded, non-linear graphic novel. Apart from the visual pleasantries most good films made in the post classical Hollywood era have; the film's story does hold up, albeit weak. There is something about government weapons and how one person's disagreement can lead to betrayal within the armed forces resulting in a lot of pain, death and panic in an instant - that instant just happens to be at a big money boxing match.
The film and its narrative move along at a good pace - twists are revealed when necessary and even when they are, twists in the form of further betrayal within that antagonistic group are very entertaining. My particular favorite scene or sequence involves a girl who everyone is looking for: the protagonist police man because she's a witness and the antagonist backstabber because she knows who really did it; needless to say, the whole fifteen minute sequence revolving around her trying to escape them by posing as a loose girl just to get to the safe haven of a hotel suite is brilliant to watch as each side hunt her, she desperately tries to get to the room and the chief of security watches everyone's every move through CCTV.
Like I said in the opening paragraph: 'everything's good until the last twenty minutes' certainly comes into play in Snake Eyes. I read that the ending was changed but some scenes such as Cage's 'I thought I was going to drown in there' had me wondering what the ell he was on about but further reading says the first ending involved a tidal wave (all is suddenly clear); also, the whole following of Cage's character to the desired place by the bad guy followed by the way he is defeated from a winning position (thanks to the weather and his own stupidity) was disappointing. It's not all bad; at one point Cage must contemplate siding with the bad guy and as he does so, stares down at a blood soaked dollar note after being offered a price to stay quiet in return for actual bloodshed which was a nice piece of iconography. I have to recommend Snake Eyes for its great visuals, fun yet entertaining plot and for its all round noir/crime-feel.
Jack Terry is a movie soundman in Philadelphia out recording sounds one night when he witnesses a car crash into a creek. He jumps in and pulls out a young woman, but the driver of the car - a powerful senator - drowns. Jack is approached by the authorities to keep quiet, but when he listens to his tape he is convinced the crash was not an accident but an assassination. Can he unravel the mystery before the killer comes calling on him? One of the most brilliant and overlooked political thrillers ever made, this is a fabulous movie featuring a dynamic career-best performance by John Travolta who sadly almost disappeared into obscurity afterwards until Pulp Fiction thirteen years later. It's very hard to play a complex lead in a densely-plotted thriller and yet somehow he manages to be exciting, tender, funny and guilt-ridden, all the while holding the story-threads together. Allen is fun as the dopey call-girl, Franz hits a new high in his sleazebag roles for DePalma (he doesn't even stop talking when he goes to the bathroom), and Lithgow is truly chilling as the Gordon Liddy-styled hard-as-nails killer with the coolest garrotte in cinema. The problem I have with most political thrillers is that they're all talk and no action (The Parallax View, The China Syndrome) - they may be credible but they're dull; Blow Out gets its balance of plot-twists, social commentary and hair-raising moments exactly right. It contains everything you could want to know about Nixon-era political tricks (wire-taps, surveillance, police coverups, etc), but it also has some seriously scary stalking scenes, a giddy chase through a Liberty Day parade and an amusing subplot about dubbing a horror flick. It combines DePalma's love of style and technique (split-screen, montages, complex shots, slow-motion) with his love of film engineering and technology, as Jack makes an animated film of the crash from newspaper stills and dubs his soundtrack onto them using lovely old moviolas and analogue tape machines. There's an extraordinary shot at one point when Jack finds all his tapes have been erased and the camera spins slowly around his studio, literally dizzying us with the bewildering conspiracy surrounding him. Vilmos Zsigmond's photography is stunning throughout and Pino Donaggio's lush score is haunting and poignant. The one criticism that could possibly be levelled against this movie is that it cribs from many sources, notably Rashomon, Vertigo, and Blowup (explicit in the title), and the premise is a variation on the infamous 1969 Chappaquiddick incident (senator Ted Kennedy crashed his car into a sea-channel and escaped but his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned). But DePalma's script is as perfectly manicured as his visuals, and has lots of good ideas of its own; Lithgow's trick of murdering two other women prior to Allen to make her death look like the work of a serial killer is a brilliant twist, and one that's been used in many subsequent thrillers. And the usual protest against DePalma's work - that he has no interest in character and directs clinically - is usually unjustified, but particularly so here - Jack is a nice guy with a guilty conscience and Travolta imbues him with energy, warmth, humor and tragic pathos. This movie is everything a good thriller should be and, along with William Richert's equally low-profile Winter Kills, is the touchstone American political conspiracy movie.
It is not easy to talk about "Lost in Translation". Sofia Coppola's second film as a director is in part about things we never talk about. While its two protagonists try to find mutual solace in each other, their silence is as expressive as their words. This is a film that believes that an individual can have a valuable relationship with someone else without becoming part of that person's life. Now I am not married but I can understand pretty well that it is easier for a stranger with whom you share a moment in the bar or corridor to understand your problems better than your husband or wife. Here is an extract from Roger Ebert's great review of the film: "We all need to talk about metaphysics, but those who know us well want details and specifics; strangers allow us to operate more vaguely on a cosmic scale. When the talk occurs between two people who could plausibly have sex together, it gathers a special charge: you can only say "I feel like I've known you for years" to someone you have not known for years."
In this marvelous story, the two lonely individuals that merge the illusions of what they have and what they could have are two Americans. The emotional refuge, Tokyo. We have Bob Harris (Bill Murray), and actor in his fifties who was once a star, and is now supplementing his incomes with the recording of a whisky commercial. On the other side of the telephone, a frightening reality: his wife, his sons, and the mission of choosing the right material for heaven knows what part of the house. When we consider Bob's situation, we realise that Lost in Translation is also a meditation on the misery of fame. Certainly fame has great (perhaps greater than disadvantages) advantages but then there are the obligations, the expectations...
We also have Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a woman in her twenties who is accompanying her husband, a photographer addicted to work, on a business trip. But it could said it is as if she is alone anyway. Her world, just like Bob's, is reduced to strange days in the bedroom, the corridors, the hotel's swimming pool, and the bar, the perfect destination for victims of sleeplessness and wounded soul. The bar is the place Bob and Charlotte meet for the first time. They talk, little, but just enough. Once their dislike for parts of their lives are established, they begin sharing times that feel dead to be able to feel alive.
Bob and Charlotte are souls in transition for whom, surrounded and confused by exotic rituals, and a different language, allows them a moment to lose their identities. Both characters provoke similar feelings form different experiences. There are no kisses or crazy nights between them, but only a shared intimacy in which a night out, a walk in the streets, a session of karaoke becomes a powerful expression of their affection an complicity. The relationship we all await only happens in our minds and the protagonists, whom we are not allowed to know everything they say and desire. Tokyo metaphorically speaking is the third character in the film. The bright colors, the noise of the city...just everything evokes the various spiritual awakenings of the characters.
It ends on a perfect note leaving the relationship of the characters undecided. This is rare gem in modern day cinema and one of my favorite films. Check it out.
*** Just an add on to this review. I was asked what I thought Murray's character whispered in Johansson's ear at the end of the film. I think the filmmaker left it up the viewer to decide and I've heard they're is audio on youtube that brings it up so you can hear it ( I've not seen it) but my thinking is that he said " I have never loved anyone as much as you. There are a million reasons I can't be with you, but I will spend everyday for the rest of my life wishing I had done it anyway. I'll always miss you." Maybe thats just me being a hopeless romantic. Watch the film and see what you think.
The Lawgiver tells the children of the future a tale of the planet earth and the influence of two apes who went back in time and had a son Caesar. Caesar liberated the apes on earth and brought mankind and apekind together after the war. However an exploration into the ruined cities brings the apes into conflict with the mutants and the humans get trapped in the middle.
The final of the films is the real low point of the series but its hard to blame the film makers, the budget was at a all time low here and the studio wanted a more lite family film here. The plot lacks the dark undertones and fatalism of the other films and an attempt to `get deep' at the end doesn't do it alone. The basic plot is a war between the mutants and the gorillas with the peaceful chimps and loving humans in-between. The action is average at best and the dialogue leaves no room for subtexts.
Worse still is the makeup which has declined far away from the standard set in the original. Here the actors clearly wear rubbery masks - General Aldo being the worst by miles! The mouths barely move and certainly don't move in time with the words. It's a shame but it does show how the standards of the first two films had fallen so far by this stage.
The cast are OK but the majority are trapped behind unhelpful masks. Even John Huston looks trapped behind a mask that almost totally renders him unrecognisable and unemotive. McDowall continues his monkey madness with yet another role and he's actually quite good. The human roles are the best as they are free to talk and the mutant leader (Eastham) even manages to get a few funny lines out before all the fighting kicks off.
Overall the quality of the makeup reflects the effort put into the film. The makeup is shoddy and the plot and subtexts are back of matchbox stuff. There are a few nice touches and it tries to add insight in the last 10 minutes but by then it's all a bit late......mind you it's still better than the remake of the original.
Imagine you've just written a movie which ends with the world getting blown up, and then you get a telegram from the studio asking for a sequel! That was the unenviable position Paul Dehn found himself in in 1970 following the release of 'Beneath The Planet Of The Apes'. His solution? Go back in time and show how Ape World got started!
A U.S. spacecraft - missing for two years - crashes off the American coast. Aboard are not human astronauts, but three apes! Zira ( Kim Hunter ), Cornelius ( Roddy McDowall ) and Milo ( Sal Mineo ) managed to recover Taylor's ( Charlton Heston ) old ship, and have followed his path back to 20th century Earth. It is 1973. While Washington tries to work out what is going on, the apes are sent to a zoo. They must remain silent at all times to preserve their uniqueness. But, during an intelligence test, Zira blurts out that she hates bananas. Milo is killed by a gorilla in an adjacent cage, leaving Zira and Cornelius to face this strange new world alone. It is an interesting reversal of the premise of the first film; there we sympathized with Taylor, here we are on the side of the apes.
During a Presidential enquiry, Cornelius and Zira charm the observers so much they go on to become media stars. Soon they are staying in a top hotel, shopping in boutiques, invited to give talks, drinking champagne, and attending boxing matches. The world has fallen in love with them.
But Dr.Otto Hasslein ( Eric Braeden, giving a wonderful performance ), the man whose theories of time travel Taylor quoted in the first movie, is terrified that the apes have the means to loosen Man's hold on the world. When Zira announces that she is pregnant, his worst fears are confirmed. He gains the authority to interrogate the apes in an effort to find out just what caused Ape World to happen, and prevent it...
Another absorbing sci-fi tale by Paul Dehn, matched by smooth direction from Don Taylor ( no relation to Colonel George Taylor ), later to make 'Damien - Omen 2'. What distinguishes it from the earlier movies are its lighter moments; the General welcoming the astronauts back to Earth only to discover they are apes when they remove their helmets gets the film off to a good start. Zira then passes an intelligence test with flying colours, smiling mischievously at Dr.Lewis Stone ( Bradford Dillman ). McDowall was back after a one-film absence ( as was composer Jerry Goldsmith ) and his scenes with Hunter have an unmistakable warmth; when asked by the inquiry if he talks, he replies: "Only when she lets me!".
As mentioned earlier, the plot neatly reverses that of the first 'Apes'. Zira and Cornelius find themselves in the same position as 'Taylor', hounded by 'Dr.Zaius' substitute 'Dr.Hasslein'. The Bradford Dillman and Natalie Trundy characters function the same purpose as the chimp couple did in the original. Hasslein is determined to prevent Ape World from happening at all costs, yet by his ruthless actions he inadvertently contributes to its existence.
Ricardo Montalban has a small but memorable role as 'Armando', the kindly circus owner who provides a temporary refuge for the apes. This would not be an 'Apes' movie without a tragic ending, and this one is tragic indeed, with both Zira and Cornelius being executed by the state, although baby Milo survives. Dehn had the foresight to leave a loophole for another sequel, which is just as well as there were two.
Thanks to its humorous content, 'Escape' is probably the most highly regarded of the four 'Apes' sequels.
In Escape From the Planet of the Apes, Cornelius and Zira arrived from the future and had a child, one who was destined to destroy the future of human civilization. To protect her child from human treachery, the baby chimpanzee was switched with a normal zoo chimp by his mother, and grew up under the protection of his benevolent human master Armando, the extravagant sideshow circus entertainer ironically played by Ricardo Montalban from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Having been given a taste of freedom by the compassionate Armando, the talking simian chimpanzee Caesar (played by Roddy MacDowall who had the unique opportunity to play the son of his character Cornelius) becomes disillusioned when Armando brings him into the city only to learn that his ape brothers and sisters have become "domesticated" after a plague brought back from space in the year 1983 wiped out every dog and cat on the planet. Because of their adept intelligence and human-like faculties, the apes quickly became trained to serve their "superior" human masters. In 1991, human civilization is controlled by an oppressive authoritarian government fearful that a race of talking apes will inevitably rise up and destroy human civilization as foretold by the arrival of Cornelius and Zira.
Now the apes have supplanted humans as working class slaves distinguished by the two dominant ape species... the smarter chimpanzees wearing green worker overalls and the stronger and more aggressive gorillas in red, not unlike the delineation between white and blue collar human laborers. When Armando and the son of Cornelius witness a cruel public display of torture against a helpless ape worker, the emotionally enraged talking simian lets loose his tongue and makes the fatal mistake of publicly shouting out an obscenity against the human oppressors. Armando, accepting the responsibility for the outcry, is taken into custody for questioning after he helps Caesar flee capture. The fugitive ape conceals himself by infiltrating a cage of "immigrant" ape orangutangs imported from Indonesia and is taken to a worker conditioning center where apes are harshly trained to become subservient to human domination. He is soon sold at a slave auction to the Governor's assistant MacDonald, who ironically is an Afro-American. MacDonald brings him before the Governor, played by the melodramatically camp Don Murray, who suspects that he is indeed the talking ape that they are searching for and is given the opportunity to name himself by choosing a name randomly from a book. The intelligent ape points to a name which not only surprises but confirms the Governor's suspicion and thus, Caesar is born.
Caesar is put to work in an operations center where he can be closely monitored. When Caesar overhears that his master Armando was killed trying to flee interrogation, he becomes outraged and communicates non-verbally with his ape brethren to be defiant against their masters and the seeds of discontent are sown. Caesar organizes the apes into an uprising against their human captors that erupts into a full-blown ape revolt akin to Che Gorilla --- a sly reference to the Cuban revolutionary guerrilla leader Che Guevara for which Caesar emblematically bares an uncanny symbolic resemblance to and has even been parodied as such in pop-culture. Roddy MacDowall gives a rousing and unforgettable dramatic performance that surpasses his characterization of Cornelius in the three previous Ape films. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes explodes into a riotous and violent action packed climax that inevitably sets the stage for the entire Apes Saga and the birth of The Planet of the Apes.
Conquest is the fourth film in the series and it is my second favorite. It is brutally violent and was the first Apes film to earn a PG rating after explicit scenes of graphic violence were cut. It is filled with so many socio-political themes that are just as relevant (if not more so) today as they were back in 1972. While the ape revolt was patterned directly after the 1965 Los Angeles Watts Riots, it could easily parallel the racial Alabama and Chicago civil protest riots of the 50's and 60's or the L.A. riots of the 90's. It's themes of working class oppression not dissimilar to the current issue of Immigration Reform which saw demonstrations of protest in major cities across the country by tens of thousands of immigrant workers who perform low-paying laborious and menial jobs that middle-class American workers think are socially beneath themselves by right of entitlement, as exemplified by the scene where Caesar witnesses the temperament of a snobbish blonde woman having her hair done in a salon by a chimp named Zelda and throws a tantrum when she messes it up which just nails the self-centered materialistic attitudes of our upper and middle social classes perfectly. The Government is portrayed as oppressive and paranoid and is an interesting examination of how the need for social constructs like Ape Management (i.e. Homeland Security) can easily deteriorate into an oppressive state of authoritarian control. Conquest is a political-charged cautionary allegory of how society breeds contempt.
"Rollercoaster" is one of those movies where you check your brain at the door and just sit back to watch. If you think about it much the flaws will come pouring out.
It's a simple story of an extortionist who terrorizes the nation's amusement parks until he gets his money. Obviously it is the rollercoasters that he sabotages. The opening scene is a slick and frightening sequence as we see a rollercoaster literally collapse before our eyes. George Segal plays a park inspector who unwittingly becomes an ally to the killer (nicely played by Timothy Bottoms). The middle section of the film is a mano y mano between the two as Bottoms runs Segal all over an amusement park where a money exchange is supposed to be made. One of the best moments is when Segal finds out where the bomb Bottoms has planted is hidden.
The performances are all solid. Segal plays his part with a nice 'everyman' quality that makes him easily relatable. It is nice to see him living in an apartment that is reasonably sloppy. It is also fun to watch him ride a roller coaster. While everyone else is screaming and stretching their arms into the air he just sits right in the front car looking bored. Widmark is equally as good and possibly at his most gruff and abrasive. The sparing relationship that he has with Segal is entertaining. The intricate cat and mouse game that Segal plays with Bottoms isn't too bad either. There are a few impressive shots where the camera is mounted on the front roller coaster car and then is glided along the tracks at high speeds giving the viewer of a very realistic feeling of actually being on a roller coaster.
Overall I would recommend it to fans of 70's cinema and to whoever appreciates a good popcorn movie.