Brittany Runs a Marathon
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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UGH! a TERRIBLE MOVIE FROM START TO FINISH! rEMINDED ME OF "lASERBLAST," BUT THAT MAY BE AN INSULT TO "LASERBLAST." iNCOHERENT, SLOW-BURN, FAMILY DRAMA WITH A SPACE WEAPON THROWN IN, AND jAMES Franco playing another lout of a villain. THE BROTHERS WHO MADE THIS USED ONE OF THEIR OWN SHORTS AS INSPIRATION, BUT ''BAG MAN'' WAS FAR BETTER AND NOT AS INCOHERENT. they don't get around to using the gun early enough. poor dennis quaid is killed early on, and none of the characters are genuinely sympathetic. michael b. jordan fans will see him in a last minute walk on during the finale. wait for the rental!
âGoliath and the Barbariansâ director Carlo Campogallianiâs âSon of Samsonâ ranks as an above-average peplum about palace intrigue in 11th century BC Egypt, with beefy Mark Forest as Maciste flexing his oily pectorals and biceps in several displays of monumental strength as he topples a tyrant and sets enslaved men and women free. Our heroâs hand-to-hand combat scenes with a lion and a crocodile are far from convincing. Mind you, the fight with the lion tops the ephemeral water struggle with an ersatz looking crocodile. Nevertheless, the exotic setting of Egypt with its historic pyramids, our heroâs brawls with the Queenâs army, a stone cell that nearly crushes him, the obelisk erection scene, a supernatural necklace, and a minor surprise or two make this sword and sandal saga a better-than-average entry. Campogalliani and scenarists Oreste Biancoli of "Atlas Against the Cyclops" and Ennio De Concini of Romulus and Remus donât deviate from the usual formula. The Queen is treacherous beyond comparison and she tries to enchant our brawny champion. Of course, everybody here including Brooklyn born Lou Degni has been dubbed but thatâs part of the charm of these Italian produced spectacles. Surprisingly, the violence appear rather graphic with weapons piercing bodies and bright red blood splashed across the bodies. "Hercules vs. the Hydraâ composer Carlo Innocenzi contributes an atmospheric orchestral soundtrack, particularly so during the suspenseful moments. Lenser Riccardo Pallottini was no stranger to the genre; he would later photograph the Gordon Scott movie "Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World" as well as the Gordon Mitchell peplum "Atlas Against the Cyclops." Chelo Alonso makes a villainous queen and her scene where she throws herself to the crocodile rather than being "branded to ashes" is neat.
Anybody who has read Mary Shelley's landmark horror novel "Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus," published in 1818, knows Hollywood has taken liberties with it. Basically, Shelley's saga has spawned more than 70 movies. Most of them would make the Gothic author spin in her grave. Among the movies, "Hamlet" director Kenneth Branagh's "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (1994), with Robert De Niro, qualifies as the best, displaying greater fidelity to the novel than any other adaptation. The latest rendering of Shelley's work, "Push" director Paul McGuigan's "Victor Frankenstein" (*** OUT OF ****) follows dutifully in the footsteps of the Universal Pictures' classic with Boris Karloff as the monster. Nevertheless, "American Ultra" scenarist Max Landis provides some provocative changes. McGuigan and Landis pay tribute not only to the influential 1931 James Whale film with Karloff, but also Mel Brooks' farcical "Young Frankenstein" (1974), co-starring Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle. A triumph of production design in its recreation of Victorian Era London, "Victor Frankenstein" emerges as a energetic effort to launch a new franchise. Mind you, this isn't one of those horror movies where everything ends in fire and ashes. Instead, the mad scientist learns from his blunders, while everybody else--aside from the humongous monster-- gets away. No, the PG-13 rated "Victor Frankenstein" won't afflict you with nightmares. Certainly it contains its share of gripping, white-knuckled moments, but it concerns itself more with exciting rather than frightening audiences. Mind you, none of this will matter because "Victor Frankenstein" won't generate adequate box office to justify a sequel. British secret agents, old-school boxing champs, dames with arrows, animated dinosaurs, and heroes from a distant galaxy will divert virtually everybody from watching this rambunctious melodrama that deserves a fair better fate.
The first thing McGuigan and Landis alter in the "Frankenstein" formula is the character of Igor. This revisionist tale unfolds from the viewpoint of the hero's faithful laboratory assistant. "Harry Potter" superstar Daniel Radcliffe plays an anonymous, subjugated, hunchbacked circus clown. Everybody in Lord Barnaby's Circus mistreats this innocent clown. Despite the circumstances of his miserable existence, he serves as the circus medic. Improbably enough, he indulges himself in the study of anatomy in his spare time, and his anatomical illustrations rival those in the seminal "Gray's Anatomy" textbook. Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay, Lady Sybil on "Downton Abbey"), a picturesque trapeze performer far above Igor's social station, is the only person who doesn't treat him like excrement. During one performance, she plunges while performing an aerial stunt, and the deformed clown saves her life. When this accident occurs, a medical student, Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy of "X-Men First Class"), rushes to Lorelei's side, too. Victor is impressed with the clown's resourcefulness and his capacity to improvise on the spot. So impressed is Frankenstein that he helps the clown escape from the circus after his cruel employer, Barnaby (Daniel Mays of "Byzantium"), has locked him up in an animal cage. The daring escape that the Victor and the clown make against Barnaby's fire-breathing and knife-slinging henchmen is staged with vigor by McGuigan like an Indiana Jones' cliffhanger. The surprise of surprises is the circus clown isn't actually a hunchback! Frankenstein perforates the clown's hump, drains it, and them corsets him into a girdle of sorts that straightens out his posture. Frankenstein then names him after his former roommate-Igor Strausman-who has long since vanished. Clearly, this Igor shares little in common with previous Igors. Frankenstein takes this Igor on as his partner, and they plan to reanimate a pilfered pile of body parts that constitute a chimpanzee. During a demonstration at the Royal College of Medicine, Frankenstein and Igor ignite the spark of life into a ghastly looking chimp. "If life is temporary," observes Frankenstein, "why can't death?" Sadly, everything goes awry with his maniacal monkey business, and Frankenstein has to kill the poor chimp after it goes on a rampage through the building. Later, Frankenstein's formidable father (Charles Dance of "Underworld 5") visits and informs his ungrateful son that the is about to expel him. Meantime, one of Victor's fellow medical students, Finnegan (Freddie Fox of "Pride") exhibits a keen interest in Victor's efforts to reanimate dead tissue with electricity.
"Victor Frankenstein" reminded me of those exuberant "Sherlock Holmes" epics pairing Robert Downey, Jr., with Jude Law. Director Paul McGuigan, who helmed four of the Benedict Cumberbatch & Martin Freeman BBC-TV episodes, keeps everybody on their respective toes, including a rather inconsequential but obnoxious Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Turpin (Andrew Scott of "Spectre"), who stalks our dynamic duo after Frankenstein rescues Igor for the circus. During their escape, one of the circus henchmen killed another henchman by accident, and Turpin has devoted all his time to tracking down Frankenstein. Occasionally, Igor takes time out to romance the darling Lorelei. Naturally, she frets about the sinister shenanigans into which Victor has drawn him. At the same time, Frankenstein has no romantic love interest to turn his head. Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy are splendidly cast as fast friends, with Radcliffe as more sympathetic and McAvoy as more insane. The activities that they wind up engaging in to obtain body parts aren't depicted. Never do we see them either robbing graveyards for human remains or plundering animal body parts. Nevertheless, McAvoy's Victor Frankenstein is every bit as nimble as Peter Cushing's Victor Frankenstein in the lively Hammer Studios Frankenstein franchise. The drawback for most Frankenstein fanatics may be the late introduction of the monster. Not until the big finale do we catch a glimpse of the monster. Indeed, this monster is formitable, boasting two sets of lungs and two hearts, and he resembles the albino giants in Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" (2012). Alas, he doesn't last long, and he lacks the power of speech like the Robert De Niro monster in "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" and he is not the intellectual giant that Aaron Eckhart was in "I, Frankenstein" (2014). Like the sequence where our protagonists fled from the circus, McGuigan orchestrates other sequences with gusto. The final scene in a castle in Scotland where the monster is brought to life beneath stormy skies fractured by jagging lightning bolts is sensational. "Victor Frankenstein" ranks as one of the better "Frankenstein" adaptations.
"Thor and the Amazon Women" exemplifies the kind of moronic muscle man movie that gives peplum a bad name. In this poorly scripted and staged potboiler set in ancient times, a matriarchal society enslaves helpless males to toil in its salt mines and imprisons captive females to train as gladiators. Enrolled in a gladiator school, these gals must wear twenty-one rings on one arm. The rings account for the number of battles that each must fight to acquire their freedom. Anyway, when Queen Nera's (Diana Ross look-a-like Jannin Hendy of "Mole Men Vs. the Son of Hercules") beautiful blond Barbie doll-type soothsayer who wanders around a grotto prophesies that a strongman will dismantle her distaff empire with his bare hands, the Queen proclaims that anybody who can identify such a dude will receive a reward of a hundred male slaves if she can reveal his whereabouts. Nera dispatches an expedition to find a man called Thor and bring him back alive. They march into Thor's homeland and try to catch him with a set of bolas, an
array of ropes attached to spiked balls whose thorny points have been dipped in a drug designed to incapacitate its victim. They hurl this weapon at Thor as he backs away from them. You see, Thor refuses to fight women. Entwining his ankles, the bolas topple our brawny protagonist so that he falls backwards off a cliff and lands atop of his servant, Ubaratutu (African-American beef-cake specimen Harry Baird of "Tarzan the Magnificent"), who hides him from the Amazons. These nubile chicks wear headdresses that resemble something a smurf would sport. Since they cannot take Thor back to Nera, the Amazon women abduct a princess-in-exile, Tamar (shapely blond beauty Susy Andersen of "Black Sabbath") and her younger brother. Tamar and her brother Homolkeâit seemsâbelonged to the royal patriarchal family that once ruled the kingdom over which Nera presides. Marauders attacked Tamar's village, burned their houses, and dragged their dad behind their horses until he died. They escaped with their lives and have lived in exile ever since. Okay, Thor recuperates in a cave under the watchful eye of Ubaratutu. The fall from the mountain disjointed Thor's shoulder, so Ubaratutu refuses to let him track down Tamar's abductors until he is well enough to travel.
Clocking in at 85 minutes, this lackluster,battle of the sexes saga
spends more time on the Amazon women than our mesomorphic hero. In fact, Thor doesn't reach the Amazon camp until about 49 minutes have elapsed, and he botches his initial act of heroism to save a man from execution. If you rank your muscle man movies by the feats that the
hero performs to vanquish his opponents, nothing here appears remotely impressive. Meanwhile, simple-minded Ubaratutu follows Thor into the land of Amazon women, but this comic black sidekick wants nothing to do with Thor's shenanigans. While Thor is trying to figure out what is
going on in this Amazon camp where the men have no desire to revolt because they are inadequately fed, Ubaratutu becomes the apple of Queen Nera's eye. She ogles him like a voyeur from a secret room and asks him
to assume a variety of poses as he stands on a lazy Susan platform to show off his strength. Eventually, Nera crowns Ubaratutu as her king, that is, until she grows tired of him.
The irony about the politically incorrect "Thor and the Amazon Women" is that in the land of the white man, Ubaratutu is a slave, while in the land of the Amazon women (most are Caucasian), the queen is black.
Furthermore, Queen Nera totes around a white cat as a symbol of her authority. Eventually, they capture Thor and bring him before her. Our eponymous hero and she engage in a philosophical argument that constitutes the high point of the film. Quoting Nera, she proclaims: "But we after a long period of slavery under the rule of men realized
that women were superior to men. They (women) procreate children, they are internally stronger than men, they know how to resist physical and moral pain." Not surprisingly, Thor calls her "cruel." She maintains power over the men sweating for her in the mines, because they have lost their rebellious spirit. Before this confrontation, Tamar converses with Yamad (Maria Fiore of "Rambo's Revenge"), Queen Nera's Captain-General of the Army. The captain-general has grown disillusioned with their matriarchal society and secretly serves as the architect of a conspiracy to overthrow Nera. Quoting her, Yamad says to
Tamar: "The rule of women was the most frightful and horrible form of government." Yamad adds, "A woman cannot deprive herself of every human sentiment in the name of the superiority that nature never meant to
assign to them." This is about as good as the dialogue gets that scenarists Fabio Piccione of "The Glass Sphinx," Maria Sofia Scandurra and director Antonio Leonviola contrived for this half-baked hokum.
In the last ten minutes, Thor is put atop a platform and forced to compete in a massive tug of war match with 101 female warriors. If he loses, he will plunge from the platform into a blazing fire, while at the same time the princess Tamar must battle an unscrupulous brunette
to the death in a triangular-shaped area with spikes on the edges. British actor Joe Robinson isn't given nearly enough either to do or say in this anti-feminist 85 minute yawner. Robinson later appeared as a villain in the 007 movie "Diamonds Are Forever" and slugged it out with Sean Connery in the claustrophobic confines of an elevator.
Actually, the women do a lot more fighting than Thor, and his victory over them in the tug of war is nothing memorable. Of course, in an era that probably didn't have cosmetics and apparel as depicted here, the women are all gorgeous and perfectly made up with red lipstick and blue eye-shadow.
Good Nicholas Sparks movie. Nobody dies for a change.
This entry surpassed the previous "Thor."
This lightweight international co-production between Hong Kong's Run Run Shaw and Italian producer Carlo Ponti amalgamates chop-socky martial arts combat with gritty Spaghetti western violence. An Asian kung fu master teams up with an American gunslinger to find his uncle's treasure. Variously known as either "Blood Money" or "The Stranger and the Gunfighter," this tame 'East Meets West' oater is predictable but amusing nonsense. The humor that lies at the bottom of the plot is that four women have tattoos on their backsides that reveal the whereabouts of a fortune in gold. "Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye" director Antonio Margheriti and scenarists Miguel De Echarri and Barth Jules Sussman have incorporated a sex comedy in this Kung Fu/Spaghetti western. The running joke is that our heroes must obtain permission from four women to eyeball their butts. Veteran western villain Lee Van Cleef twirls his six-gun, while the often outnumbered Lo Lieh performs gravity-defying kung fu. Incidentally, Lieh emerged as the first martial arts superstar before Bruce Lee.
Martial arts movies were increasingly going mainstream by the early 1970s, and "Blood Money" exemplified one of a handful of Italian westerns with Kung Fu. Not only did producer Run Run Shaw co-produce this hybrid horse opera, but he also co-produced the Hammer vampire epic "The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires" during the same year in 1974. Mind you, "Blood Money" premiered in Spain in 1974, but illuminated American screens two years later in 1976. Initially, the Tony Anthony western "The Silent Stranger" should have qualified as the first 'East Meets West' Kung Fu/Spaghetti western. Produced in 1968, "The Silent Stranger" was not released by MGM until 1975, so it beat "Blood Money" to the draw. Earlier, James Bond director Terence Young had helmed a European western with Charles Bronson as an outlaw who reluctantly joins up with Japanese samurai warrior ToshirÃ´ Mifune to recover the Nippon ambassador's valuable ceremonial sword. Director Mario Caiano's "Shanghai Joe" (1972) followed "Red Sun" and concerned a Chinese immigrant Chin How (Chen Lee) who helps Mexican laborers from their sadistic boss. Sergio Corbucci even got into this genre in 1975 with "Shoot First... Ask Questions Later" (1975) as a samurai warrior helps a lawman find a treasure.
Dakota (Lee Van Cleef of "Barquero") arrives in Monterey by train. A conductor confronts our protagonist as he slips out from under the passenger coach. Before the conductor can do anything to him, Dakota escapes in a cloud of steam. Breaking into the local bank, Dakota picks the lock to the safe but he finds only photographs of women. Meantime, one of those women alerts Wang (Al Tung), a short fat Asian fellow that somebody is in the bank. Wang scrambles over to the bank. Dakota relies on explosives to blow the vault. As the dynamite explodes, Wang is blown off his feet. Dakota finds a fortune cookie and the photographs. He queries Wang about the contents, but Wang has died. The authorities arrive and arrest Dakota. Meanwhile, in Asia, kung fu teacher Ho Chiang (Lo Lieh of "Five Fingers of Death") is escorted by the warlord's troops to his house. The warlord questions Ho's father about his deceased brother who left behind nothing valuable. The warlord confronts Ho. "I was tricked by your uncle. Unwisely, I entrusted him with a vast fortune and all he did to repay me before he died was to send me that wooden figures." The warlord indicates the statue of a noble Plains Indian chieftain. Since nobody can satisfy the warlordâs curiosity, he gives Ho's sister to the guards. Ho intervenes but to no avail. Nevertheless, Hoâs martial arts skills impress the warlord. "You're brave and intelligent and I believe you can be useful in recovering my fortune," he informs Ho. "Find my gold in one year or all of you will --," the warlord completes his sentence with a slashing motion at his throat.
Ho arrives in Monterey. He meets with Wangâs lawyer and learns his uncle left behind a $1000 and four photographs of women. According to the lawyer, Wang's death was ruled accidental. Nevertheless, the authorities sentenced Dakota to swing. The lawyer (Paul Costello of âCannibal Apocalypseâ) adds that Dakota's trial lasted several months. Not surprisingly, Ho encounters racism in a saloon and defends himself against two gunslinging bouncers. The sheriff (Barta Barri of âHorror Expressâ) arrests Ho for hitting him. Ho lands in a cell next to Dakota. Dakota assures Ho that he didnât murder his uncle. Moreover, Dakota acquired no fortune. The sheriff releases Ho. Later, the Asian rescues Dakota as he stands poised on the gallowsâ trapdoor with his noggin in a noose. Together, Dakota and Ho embark on an unusual search for Wang's four mistresses. Along the way, they incur the wrath of a hypocritical preacher, Yancey Hobbitt (Julian Ugarte of âAutopsyâ), who wears a long, black duster with a ridiculous hat. Yancey quotes scripture and wields a devastating six-gun. Yancey abducts the Chinese mistress (Karen Yeh of âThe Iron Dragonâ) with the aid of a Mexican bandit (Ricardo Palacios of âReturn of the Sevenâ) and his gang. They take her to an old mission in the desert. Dakota and Ho follow. Calico captures Dakota and whips him to get information about Ho. Ho helps Dakota escape, and Dakota appropriates a Gatling gun to exterminate half of Calicoâs gang, while Ho releases the Chinese mistress. Yancey has tried to torture her to translate the tattoos.
Margheriti directs with customary aplomb. Everything unfolds fluidly. Clocking in a 107 minutes, "Blood Money" looks like a Spaghetti western, but the sex comedy often undercuts the usual amoral violence. The ending may surprise those who aren't expecting it. "Goliath against the Giants" lenser Alejandro Ulloa gives everything a larger-than-life appearance. "Secret Agent Fireball" composer Carlo Savina drums up a snappy, non-western orchestral score. Savina's music has nothing in common with the quintessential Ennio Morricone Spaghetti western music with whistles, bells, and whipcracks.
"My Favorite Brunette" director Elliot Nugent's western MY OUTLAW BROTHER qualifies as a fair to middling oater about a brother's search for his sibling and the Texas Ranger who tags along for the ride. Location lensing at Estudios Tepeyac, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico, enhances both the authenticity and flavor of this otherwise routine horse opera. The capable cast is first-rate. Mickey Rooney plays Denny O'Moore, a feisty New York tenderfoot who has come 3000 miles to see his long, lost brother in Mexico. Finding his brother proves to be quite a challenge for our protagonist. Patrick (a pre-"The Untouchable" Robert Stack) is his brother and he'll do whatever is required to shield his true identity. Denny goes to great lengths to meet his brother. Eventually, about an hour into this 82-minute oater, the brothers meet and chat. Meantime, Denny's compatriot, Texas Ranger Joe Waldner (Robert Preston of "The Music Man"), accompanies him into Mexico in search of Patrick. Our heroes escape from the villain's hideout with the help of a Mexican blacksmith.
One major surprise occurs in the Gene Fowler Jr. screenplay, with additional dialogue by Alfred Lewis Levitt, based on Max Brand's novel "South of the Rio Grande." The derby-clad Mickey Rooney protagonist suffers all the indignities forced upon a tenderfoot. He rides into MY OUTLAW BROTHER driving a buckboard through Texas to the town of Border City. Denny watches as a gang of banditos led by an Indian named Le Tigre hold up a bank, shoot a guard, and blast their way out of town. El Tigre is so ruthless that he shoots one of his own who has been wounded during the raid and cannot continue. Denny complains about the gang to the Joe Waldner who owns a pretty smart horse named Sunny. The latest raid is the fifth time that El Tigre has crossed the border. A Mexican official laments the disappearance of three of the best secret agents.
Meantime, the townspeople have fun playing pranks on Denny, one of which is telling him to mount his horse from the wrong side. Joe decides to cross the border and hands his Rangers badge to his captain. The Mexicans try to kill Joe, but they mistake Denny for the Texas Ranger. Denny and Joe ride together to the town of San Clemente. "Maybe I'll ride along with your for a piece," Joe observes. He adds, "You seem to have a habit of meeting up with fellows bigger than you are." Denny says that he not only gets all the big guys, but also all the big girls. He reveals that he hasn't seen his brother in eight years and that he's been sending money home to them every month in New York. According to Denny, brother Patrick operates silver mine. Joe expresses surprise at this revelation. Denny points out that his brother has tried to dissuade him from coming to visit him. Nevertheless, Denny has made up his mind and nothing is going to discourage him. "I haven't been doing anything in New York, so I thought I'd go out and help him with the mine." As they descend onto San Clemente, Denny says with verbal irony, "Wait till you see the expression on Patrick O'Moore's face when he sees us." Nugent and Fowler exploit Rooney's diminutive statue and his role as a tinhorn for comic potential. Not bad.
Writer & director Tom Laughlin's contemporary melodrama BILLY JACK qualifies as a flawed but provocative film. The cult history of this epic and its success at the box office don't prepare us for what we wind up. Initially, "Billy Jack" looked like a Charles Bronson revenge movie without Bronson. Here's a brave, resourceful fellow who is half-white and half-Native American. He lives on a reservation, and he practices a bizarre form of martial arts called hapkido. Billy Jack saves a herd of horses from being massacred and manufactured into dog food. He is courting the defiant but plain-Jane looking Jean Roberts (Delores Taylor) who operates a 'Freedom School' on the reservation. The abused daughter of a local lawman takes refuge in the school. Meantime, the chief villain's degenerate son rapes Roberts, and an angry Billy Jack goes after them. The skits that the school practices could have been left on the editing room floor. Basically, despite an occasion close-quarters combat scene, BILLY JACK is both crude but entertaining nonsense.
FUNNY PEOPLE director Judd Apatow's hilarious comedy THIS IS 40 concerns the trials and tribulations of a Generation X couple approaching middle-age with two daughters and debt up to their eyeballs. This Southern California based laffer qualifies as funny, straightforward, and full of insight. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann play Pete and Debbie so convincingly that you'd swear they are real-life spouses. Actually, Mann and the two daughters belong to Apatow.. If you saw an earlier Apatow comedy "Knocked Up" (2007) with Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl, you may remember that they played supporting roles. Five years older by the time this comedy rolls around, Pete owns a small music recording business while Debbie runs a boutique. Things aren't all they would seem in this paradise. This vaguely affluent pair are suffering mid-life crises as well as financial problems. Predictably, everything works out by fade-out, but this doesn't mean it will be easy for them during the 132 minutes that THIS IS 40 runs. Nothing about this melodrama seems phony, except that Pete and Debbie lives in dream world and seem oblivious to the outside world. What makes this movie so comedy is that you enjoy watching them smash up on the rocks of middle-age along with everything else they have to negotiate to return to normalcy. Apatow has written some sizzling dialogue, liberally laced with the F-word. I lost count after about 50 or 60 F-words. No, THIS IS 40 isn't fit for younger ears, but adults who've had to put up with larger-than-life fantasy films will find this a refreshing change-of-pace.
You know you're in for a breezy lightweight comedy during the opening credits of "Midnight Manhunt." The illustrations depict happy, upbeat cartoon characters, while the Alexander Laszlo score sounds bright and chipper. An infamous gangster who has been missing for five years perishes at the hands of a murderous thief. Nevertheless, the gangster manages to survive long enough to leave his hotel and die in an adjacent wax museum. A variety of characters find and lose the body throughout the action in his modest forerunner of the "Weekend at Bernie's" movies or Alfred Hitchcock's "The Trouble with Harry." The saving grace of this mystery-thriller is director W.C. Thomas' nimble pacing. The believable cast adds some humanity to this predictable potboiler about newspaper reporters and the police. Nobody here found greater fame in Hollywood. George Zucco is appropriately sinister as a pistol-packing hoodlum, while Leo Gorcey serves as comic relief. Gorcey mangles the English language with such abandon that he could be Mrs. Malaprop's son. Here's an example of Gorcey's dialogue: "Do you not never read no newspapers?" When a uniformed cop believes that he has seen a dead gangster, Gorcey cracks, "He's suffering from optical delusions." Detective Lieutenant Hurley sums everything up succinctly, "Maybe I'm crazy. I've never been on a case like this before: trying to find a corpse that somebody stole." Afterward, he adds: "Who in the blazes would want a corpse in the first place?" Basically, the David Lang screenplay boils down to somebody meets corpse, somebody loses corpse, and eventually somebody gets corpse back again. A quarter of a million dollars worth of diamonds is at stake in this 64-minute melodrama. The villain wants to recover the body so he can dispose of it. The reporters want to find the body so they can get a scoop for their papers. The police want the body because he is a missing criminal. This is the kind of serviceable nonsense that insomniacs would find tolerable.
A pale imitation of the original ABC-TV soap opera DARK SHADOWS that is nevertheless entertaining despite its campy twist on the chils. Director Tim Burton plays everything for laughs.