Friday, August 17, 2018

The Leopard Fist Ninja (1982)

The funny thing about Leopard Fist Ninja is that it doesn't actually include any ninjas...

Much of the film is a reasonable but unexceptional kung fu film set in the mysterious Chinese past... apart from the random appearance of the occasional black and white fighter.

The plot is (as you might expect) a bit hard to follow and not exactly original. The Japanese (who are evil of course) had invaded our heroes' land when they were children and killed their parents. Then they are sent to learn martial arts so they can avenge them. Et cetera...

Of course these films are generally not viewed for the story (which is just as well) but for the fighting so luckily there is a lot of fighting in the film and it isn't bad action at all.

As a film Leopard Fist Ninja is OK though adding "ninja" to the title was obviously a cash-in on the 80s ninja craze and seems a bit silly. The film was directed by Godfrey Ho (which explains the ninjas) though he didn't do his infamous trick where he spliced the film with footage from another completely different one. Which in this case is probably a shame.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Corpse Vanishes (1942)

The Corpse Vanishes is a fantastically cheap and macabre horror starring Bela Lugosi as Dr Lorenz, a mad doctor who drugs and steals young women (for some reason doing so during their weddings as that obviously is the least suspicious time). He does this in order to create drugs to treat his degenerating and rather unstable wife the Countess (Elizabeth Russell).

Perky young reporter Patricia (Luana Walters) thinks Dr Lorenz is behind a string of stolen corpses of young women and head to his home - which is full of every horror  film cliche imaginable including dwarves, thunder and lightning outside, a deformed hunchback and of course Dr Lorenz plays the organ at night.

Obviously Patricia should be running away as fast as she can but instead elects to stay a night in the house. She finds the Countess prefers to sleep in a coffin...

So you get the idea. The film is complete nonsense of course but is so much fun. The film is cheap and at times so obvious it hurts but... it is wonderful.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Life Returns (1935)

A rather strange film that is hard to categorise. Onslow Stevens is Dr Kendrick who is convinced he can conquer death, though his experiments do not come cheap.

The research lab he works at want him to concentrate on much more mundane matters like hair brushes and his patients drive him mad with their everyday issues. He faces ridicule from his peers and despair from his wife (Valerie Hobson). He falls into a depression when his wife dies. His son Danny (George Breakston) goes off the rails when the authorities want to take him away.

So things are all looking a bit bleak. However two fellow scientists Dr Stone (Lois Wilson) and Dr Cornish (playing himself) believe in him and his dream. Finally he is able to bring his son's dog back to life and prove the technique works. As for Dr Cornish, his real experiment in bringing a dog back to life is included in this film.

So there you go a very strange film. Sometimes it's billed as horror but is really a disjointed medical and family drama with a roughly sliced bit of real film footage.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Shampoo (1975)

Shampoo is a romantic comedy starring Warren Beatty as George, a hairdresser in Beverley Hills who spends his time, when he is not cutting hair, having sex with lots of women including the likes of Goldie Hawn and Carrie Fisher in her first film role.

The film is set in the late 1960s around the election of Nixon. In changing times George is unhappy with his life, although he is the star in the salon, he hates being there and wants to start out on his own. However unable to get working capital from the banks he turns to a rich woman (Julie Christie) instead...

It's a fun film with plenty of satire and style. George's life is totally chaotic but he comes across sympathetically despite his serial promiscuility. It is a comedy but not one you laugh at loud at (apart from a few notable times). Maybe it is more a tale of how you can't always get what you want... especially if you want it all.

The blaxploitation film Black Shampoo is based on this, though only very loosely...

Monday, August 13, 2018

Klondike (1932)

Lyle Talbot plays Dr Cromwell, who is acquitted of murder after a brain operation he performs results in the death of his patient.

However he cannot stay where he is so instead accompanies his friend on a flight to Japan... only bad weather means they end up crash landing in Alaska. There Dr Cromwell is rescued by a remote community and finds one of them Jim (Jason Robards Sr) has the same brain tumour as his previous patient. What are the chances of that?!

Dr Cromwell is finally persuaded to perform the operation again, of course there is a complication. Jim's girl Klondike (Thelma Todd) has also caught the doctor's eye...

An interesting film. Jim is a great character, menacing and sinister as he plots revenge even against the man who saved his life to keep his girl. It also includes silent movie star Priscilla Dean in her final movie role.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Charlie's Recreation (1914)

Also known as "Tango Tangle" this is a rather run-of-the-mill early Charlie Chaplin film, most notable for the fact he doesn't have a moustache! Although he doesn't play The Tramp (in appearance) the character he does play - causing mayhem at the dance is pretty familiar at times!

So Charlie turns up at a dance drunk and tries to impress some girls, he continually falls over instead of course. And he is pursued by Fatty Arbuckle for some reason (cue more slapstick). Really it isn't that good, Chaplin hadn't yet found the right character for his comedy work but you could see a few signs here and there. A work in progress.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Motive for Revenge (1935)

A rather corny crime/revenge thriller but it has characters you end up caring about. It stars Donald Cook as Barry, married to Muriel (Irene Hervey) who has expensive tastes and a mother (Doris Lloyd) who is determined that her tastes are sated (and is generally the mother-in-law from Hell.

Donald has to turn to crime to pay for it all but ends up caught and in gaol. Then Muriel divorces him and ends up marrying the rich but rather unpleasant Edwin Maxwell...

On release from prison Donald seeks revenge though things don't turn out as planned when his ex-wife's new husband ends up shot. Both Donald and Muriel are blamed by the police and are thrown together...

So pretty corny but an enjoyable film. What does drag the film down a bit is a rather drawn out police chase film (the police being idiots of course) and some more padding out. The ending is rather surprising but does enable a Hollywood happy ending.