Monday, November 30, 2020

Rock City: London 1964-73 (1973)

The story of the British rock scene from the early 1960s to the 1970s, well a kind of documentary. It is mostly a series of (mostly) great live performances - and some early music videos - interspersed with interviews.

If we are to be honest a lot of the interviews are not very illuminating (though Pete Townsend's anti-drug stance is interesting, as it comes alongside footage of Brian Jones' troubles). It doesn't really matter as the songs from the likes of the Rolling Stones, Cream, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Joe Cocker and Jimi Hendrix (and many more) are incredible. 

It is a bit of a hippy-fest, a film of it's time, but what a time.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Devil's Bait (1959)

A neat little B-movie. Frisby the baker (Geoffrey Keen) and his wife (Jane Hylton) have a problem with rats at their bakery. They employ an alcoholic rat catcher Mr Love (Dermot Kelly) to get rid of them. Mr Love uses some cyanide for his baits and ends up using a loaf tin to mix it. Then he goes off to have a drink... and ends up dying down a railway embankment. Unfortunately Mrs Frisby has used the poisoned tin to make a loaf...

Police Sergeant Malcolm (Gordon Jackson) begins a race against time to find out who bought the loaf and stop them from eating the cyanide laced bread...

A fast moving film with plenty of suspense. A limited film but makes the most of what it has.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967)

An incredibly weird film, despite the title it isn't really a horror film. It is more like a goofy spy comedy (though the humour is mostly unintentional) film with added country music. 

Three country singers (Ferlin Husky, Joi Lansing and Don Bowman) are on their way to Nashville, to avoid a storm they stay in what appears to be an abandoned house. However, the house is really the secret base of a bunch of spies (John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr, Basil Rathbone and Linda Ho) plus an unconvincing man in a gorilla costume. They have a basement torture dungeon and are after a secret formula at a nearby missile plant...

The spies try and scare the country singers away with a collection of rather lame "ghosts". Though there is a real ghost in the house which stirs the pot a bit...

A very strange film, at times so unbearable but at the same time so watchable. Country tunes (some of which are pretty good) are thrown in seemingly at random and with little real justification with respect to the plot. Don't expect many scares, but do expect some real oddness and awkwardness. 

This was Basil Rathbone's penultimate film (and his last in English) and he co-starred with Merle Haggard. A terrible film and great at the same time.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Phantom Empire (Serial) (1935)

Now as we know, 1930s movie serials are often quite odd but this one must be one of the strangest of all. It is a kind of mixture of cowboy musical and the usual mad science adventure. The singing cowboy Gene Autry discovers his ranch is above part of the lost continent of Mu and a science city ruled by Queen Tika (Dorothy Christie) is right under his feet!

However, Tika has trouble. Lord Argo (Wheeler Oakman) has led a rebellion to overthrow Tika and threaten the world above. Autry rides to the rescue, assisted by a group of young cowpersons in metal helmets led by Frankie Darro and Betsy King Ross. Can Autry save the world and also his radio show? That is a major plot point you see, the bad guys try to stop him from performing his radio show so he won't be able to keep up the payments on his ranch. There is a fortune in radium under there, and Mu's disintegration ray.

So this has the usual cliff hangers, ingenious (and doomed to fail) traps for our heroes, sparkling scientific apparatus and recycled costumes. Yes as usual the denizens of these lost cities full of advanced science (including sparkling electricity, clunky robots and television) fight with swords and helmets... The addition of cowboys and trick riding makes this serial quite frankly amazing and completely bonkers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Big Bird Cage (1972)

A shameless piece of rather grubby sexploitation set in a women's prison in the Philippines jungle. Terry (Anitra Ford) is a rather big headed young women who gets mixed up in a robbery by wanna-be revolutionaries Blossom (Pam Grier) and Django (Sid Haig). Terry gets sent into the jungle to a brutal prison governed by the gloriously over-acting Zappa (Andres Centenera)...

Terry's bravado and spirit is slowly crushed as she realises her women's wiles for once won't get her out of this one. But Blossom and Django have a plan to break the prisoners out of jail. They both infiltrate the prison (Blossom as a prisoner, Django as a ridiculously camp guard) to prepare for revolution...

It isn't a subtle film, it includes torture, rape, murder and lots of female nudity of course. High art it ain't, trash it certainly is and when treated in the right way it will deliver.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Dressed to Kill (1946)

Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr Watson (Nigel Bruce) investigate a case of little wooden musical boxes which hold a clue to the location of a property so hot a gang are prepared to kill for them. The boxes were made by a convict who stole the plates to print £5 notes in the Bank of England, the boxes containing the coded location of the plates. Unfortunately for the gang led by Hilda Courtney (Patrica Morrison) the boxes are sold before they can get their hands on them...

Holmes and Watson get involved in the case after one of Watson's friends (Edmund Breon) is killed over the musical box he bought. Holmes enters a battle of wits with Courtney who in many ways proves to be his equal...

An enjoyable little Sherlock Holmes mystery with the usual clever deductions and no small amount of suspense and tension. This was the last in the long series of Sherlock Holmes films made by Rathbone and Bruce and the series certainly went out on a high.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Alley Cat (1984)

A rather grim and dingy and violent vigilante film, in a way it is Death Wish but with a female lead. Billie (Karin Mani) catches some imitation hardcases trying to steal her tyres. After he beats them up with her karate skills they go running off to their boss Scarface (Michael Wayne) who kills Billie's grandmother. Billie herself ends up in jail after she stops a rape due to a corrupt cop...

Billie begins a one-woman mission to bring Scarface and his gang to justice, one way or another. The film has a lot of averagely choreographed fights, unfortunately most take place in the dark. There is also a lot of female nudity as well, including in prison...

It is a pretty run-of-the-mill low budget 1980s video nasty. Violent and grubby, it is very trashy. The best thing (by far) about the film is Karin, who does look pretty decent when she is fighting (and in general).