Monday, February 27, 2017

Footprints on the Moon - 1975

Also known as "The Footprints" - literal translation of Le Orme. And "Primal Impulse," huh, what?  I saw it under that last name on the Sci Fi Invasion boxset.  In what is sure to be an introspective and serviceable entry, I review it now!

I will admit first and foremost that I had completely lost enthusiasm for this boxset.  It droned on for way too long, and I have to say that even though I only have 5 or so movies left I am still considering not finishing it.  It just drains my desire to watch films.  I somehow think I'll never look at movies the same after seeing this boxset, more because I'll be wondering what kept some random movie from 1963 OFF the set.  Like, who still claims the rights to it, when will it be public domain, and what meaning it has that it's released on solo DVD (if it is).

Footprints on the Moon, however, is the exact reason I watch sets like this.  This film is great.  I say that with both pride and an eruption of joy for the set itself.  Footprints on the Moon is one of those types of movies I love.  It's got a real interesting mystery.  It's got a interesting and hidden main character that we both feel empathy for but slightly distrust.  It's got a high level of bizarreness to it that makes it feel almost David Lynchian.  And it's got a real slow, developing storyline that would be easy to dismiss and find dull, but if you're into it it wraps you up with suspense.  What's more, it's got a great soundtrack.

Alice is a woman that we never get a complete picture of.  She's a single woman, strong but emotionless.  She wakes up one day to discover that she doesn't remember the last few days, but there are signs that she was awake and active during those days.  Alice finds small clues that lead her to other clues.  She discovers that there is an island called Garma that is connected, as well as a dress that appears in her closet and is her size.  Also, random memories of an old film she saw called Footprints on the Moon keep running through her mind.

She follows the clues to the island of Garma, where more clues pile up, a little girl named Mary and some of the town residents seem to know her.  From there, the plot continues on as such.  Alice has a lot of reveals and gains parts of the puzzle, some pieces leading to more questions instead of providing the answers.  The haunting score drives the mystery home.  I can tell Academy Award winning composers by the sound they create and I knew the guy that did this was good.  Yup.  Academy Award for Life is Beautiful composer.  Also of note is the cinematography, beautifully captured despite pan and scan formatting.  3 time Academy Award winner Vittorio Storaro really captures this film well.

In the end, I really liked this.  The great score, the weirdness factor, and the mystery of it all made me really reminded of Mulholland Drive, which I saw again recently.  I see now where David Lynch perhaps gets some of his inspiration from.  The strong female lead is definitely a missing ingredient in a lot of films, and Florinda Bolkan does a great job as a leading character.

The mystery payoff at the end is also one of those that you have to be paying attention to.  This movie is not one that you should watch without paying attention, although I do have to say that even paying attention I'm not sure I "got" what was going on.  It's left a bit vague, and that was the right call in my opinion.  So, see it and decide for yourself.  4 stars.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Future Women - 1969

Also known as: Rio 70, The Girl from Rio, River 70, Mothers of America, and The Seven Secrets of Sumuru.  That's not even all of them, that's a selection.  Called the Future Women title on my sci fi invasion boxset.

Jess Franco strikes again, which means low budgets and near exploitation level filmmaking.  This is classic exploitation, however it's still that definition of which I don't agree.  But I'll accept it.  It's not overly sexual or anything either, it's pretty much by the numbers and average for a 69 actioner film that is as much James Bond imitating as it is a late women-rule-the-world-how-wacky. Whatever gave birth to that awful concept, and also what happened to it?  Seems like that used to be such a thing, especially alien girls...

This time, it's a sort of sequel to the Million Eyes of Sumuru, which is a film I have seen since it's a MST3K episode.  Though I don't remember it, it's interesting to think I've seen the prequel to this as I watch it.  Of course, it's very loose in terms of prequel/sequel thing.  The woman in this is not even called Sumuru, but rather Sumitra or something like that.

Basically Sumitra is a power hungry leader of a group of women.  She wants to take over the world as she sees fit, which will put men in an awkward place.  She captures several people including Ulla Rossini, who soon has main character Jeff sent to bring her back.  They know Sumitra needs money so they say that Jeff has 10 million dollars somewhere.  She captures him, intent on getting the money, and he discloses to Ulla he is actually there to rescue her.

Since it has a plot and it's not just skin, I looked at it from that point of view instead of looking at it as a sex flick.  It has a small amount of nudity as does most of Franco's work, however nothing huge in this one.  It's actually pretty plot driven, and the actors are decent as well.  No real effects, and minimistic in shot, I'm sure because it was low, low budget.

In the end, it was an alright film.  I'm not going to give it the torch or say it was great, it was just straight down the middle average, "eh" of a film

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Abraxas: Guardian of the Universe - 1990

That ol' Sci Fi Invasion boxset is so close to being finished I can taste it.  I think I have about 3-4 movies left.  And I'm going to have to some major site scouring to figure out exactly which ones are even left.  I don't remember from the names of these things, and even IMDb is hard to tell cause some of the names of the movies are different from what it's listed as online.

Abraxas is on the outskirts of well known stupid culty films, and it's no doubt because it stars Jesse Ventura in a dumbed down Terminator clone.  It's kiddy, it's stupid, and it has nothing it brings to the table besides basic movie presence.  I guess the cast is good enough.  Sven Ole-Thorsen as a villain with a giant accent much like Schwarzenegger is fun, and Jim Belushi in a small role.  The girl is a decent actress even if I haven't seen her in anything else and she hasn't acted for over 20 years.

This was at a weird time in Hollywood.  I think that movies and producers were starting to realize they couldn't market R rated movies to kids, and so they were dumbing them down.  Abraxas is really a PG approach to Terminator, but still with some of that leftover 80's mentality.  It had a budget, that's not the problem really, the problem is that it has no real interest factor and brings nothing new to the table, and instead seems content to basically be Terminator-Lite.

An alien comes to Earth and impregnates main girl Sonia.  Soon enough, Abraxas and Secundus (Sven Ole Thorsen) also come to Earth.  Secundus is after the girl because he wants her baby, Abraxas is guarding her from Secundus and his evil plan.  So basically Abraxas is Kyle Reese and Secundus is Arnold's Terminator.  The woman in this is just a weak loser, not a strong character like Linda Hamilton in Terminator.

That's really it.  It has a bit more attempts at "comedy" because in this movie, Abraxas and Secundus are both robots.  Or, not specifically robots, but some sort of artificially enhanced human type things.  They are immortal, they have robotic enhancements, and they have a voice that is built into them that is sort of like Siri for Terminators.  This is their "Answer Box" which interjects at times with things it says that are either "funny" or "smart" but are actually neither.

The movie goes how you'd expect if you saw Terminator.  Abraxas falls in love with Sonia.  Secundus is pure evil and eventually gets beaten.  Lalala, happy day.  There's no real cool effects either.  This film basically slashed all the cool violence and robots that Terminator had in trade for Jesse Ventura sitting around without a shirt on.
Good trade.

Sure, you could riff on it or make a drinking game out of it.  Rifftrax exists for it, and I've seen that also.  It's very forgettable, and honestly I didn't even remember I'd finished it until last night.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Spacemaster X-7 - 1958

I tired of the sci fi boxset as you might have guessed, although I do have Abraxas lined up to view next.  Anywho, I youtubed "50's monster movie" and blindly clicked on Spacemaster X-7 after seeing it was about a mutant fungus.

First of all who the hell named this thing?  Spacemaster X-7 has literally zero to do with what happens in this movie.  Nothing is ever a master, and the X-7 thing doesn't refer to anything I heard or saw during the entire film.  The fungus is technically from space, so there is that, but that's really the extent of it.  It comes from space, lands on Earth via a space probe, and a scientist gets ahold of it and starts trying to experiment with it.

Most of this film is, as you might expect....dialogue!  Dialogue, and people walking here and there, and what feels like a secondary plot actually becoming the entire focus of the film.

Laura Greeling has a child with scientist Charles Pommer.  She is in town to get custody of their kid but Pommer is busy studying the space fungus.  She tries to get him to pay attention to her, but he's way too immersed in work (we gather this is the same reason why they split up in the first place).  So anyways, when the fungus gets out of hand it kills Pommer and is apparently spreading with her now.  She's like, according to the movie, and I'm paraphrasing here, "A thousand typhoid Mary's rolled into one".

She is super concerned about getting back to Honolulu to meet back up with her new husband.  She doesn't want her new husband to know that she has an ex and a child with that ex.  So she is going to lie to her new husband and tell him that she adopted the kid?  So seriously, you're going to tell your new husband who you love SO much that you just randomly decided to adopt some kid?!  And he would be mad at you for having an ex and a kid, but won't be mad at you for some seemingly random adoption?!

Greeling goes through a lot of bullshit as the cops are looking for her, cause they know that she is probably holding the disease.  She goes to the airport, a hotel, she talks to people and orders things for delivery, etc.  Yet, there is never a single concern given for these people becoming sick with the fungus, or with anything falling out from that.  Heck even the cab driver, played by Moe Howard in an odd cameo, would have to be heavily monitored after coming into contact with her.  But, hehe, you know, F all that.

We follow Greeling and she does all sorts of pretty average things.  This movie is definitely a slow one, and not as interesting as I would've liked.  It lags in the middle quite a bit, but for it's era it is pretty average in that way.  It is interesting cause it's more a Fugitive esque, personal story of a crime drama thriller than what I expected, which was sci fi horror.

The fungus is the only effect, and it's pretty good.  It doesn't look like more than some sorta black and grey thingy, and I can't imagine it was more than some random cloth and shit they used to make it appear on camera as a fungus.  The actors are good, and the story would've been sufficient except for the numerous plot holes I could point out with no problem.  In short, it's a very easily forgettable serviceable 50's sci fi movie with a thriller sorta drama twist.

3 stars.

Update 4/13/2017:  I just found out there was an Atari game named the same thing as this, Spacemaster X7.  It's not a video game based on the movie, it was just a weird coincidence.  I just thought that was really odd, and thought I'd mention it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Demon Witch Child - 1975

Also known as "The Possessed".

Blind Dead films director Amando De Ossorio "pays homage" to The Exorcist by pretty much ripping it off in this beyond crumby Italian film.  Getting right to the plot on this one I guess!

I went to one of the Bay Area's hip movie stores with the wife a while back (actually more like over a year ago) and I was feeling rich, or I must've had money, cause I bought like 3 DVDs.  One of them was what I thought was an entire boxset, turned out is was just one part of this boxset.  However, it was still 4 movies on a double sided DVD, and I got Demon Witch Child as one of those movie (oh joy).

Demon Witch Child is a very directly named film, one that obviously has a lot of other titles to it, as you can tell by just looking at the thing.  It's below second, below third rate in it's existence, but you know, it is what it is and a bad movie veteran like me was able to watch it no problem.

The actors were actually in things in Spain, and like I said the director has done other things.  The Blind Dead series is one of those that's semi well known in the cult film circles, and one of the few series that was all made and directed by the same person.

I guess I'm straying from the movie here.  Not a ton to say about it.  Really awful makeup on a young girl makes her into a balding witch woman, who is evil and running amok in town.  There is the obligatory exorcism scene, early on, which doesn't pan out, and in general there's a lot more of the demon up and about in this one than The Exorcist.

Imagine if you will The Exorcist, but way more talky, with less interest factor, bad makeup, and no real thrills to be had, and that's just about what this movie is.  It's pretty bland and banal, but it's not the worst thing ever made.  It's a lot like any other rip off of any other movie ever made really, when it comes down to it.

Nothing stood out except how shitty the quality of the DVD was, and this is really one where it's almost too bad to even watch, so I can't say I recommend this boxset.  Oh and don't worry, I still have ones from that *other* boxset still to come!  This one gets, uh..........1.5 stars?

Monday, February 6, 2017

R.O.T.O.R. - 1987

What does some Terminator or Robocop ripoff like Rotor have in common with my childhood?  Well, apparently the director of Rotor (fuck that R.O.T.O.R. time wasting title) also directed a pretty average episode of Pink Panther called Pink Piper.  It was a take on the Pied Piper of course, who leads mice away from the besieged village.  I loved that show as a kid, and apparently, that director went on to do this movie.  Good job, guy.

Despite that cool factor, Rotor is a very traditional, average, and quite slow ripoff of Terminator.  Some movies are known for having ripoffs.  Everyone can name tons of 80's horror rip offs, but as a genuine sci fi fan, I have to say I didn't know there were so many Terminator, Alien, and Robocop rip offs out there in the wide world of cinema.  This is another one, and I'm not going to link the others I've reviewed.  You've got a mouse, use it.

The beginning title card and information crawl informs us, very slowly, that the Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research is building robots which are going to be elite crime fighters, that know martial arts and have a bevy of useful skills which can be used in the heat of battle.  Ridiculously named Barrett Coldyron must pursue Rotor after it is determined to be on the loose killing people.  The bodies accumulate, and various things happen as the movie goes from there.

Not a lot of real effects in this one.  There's a claymation robot thing doesn't appear much beyond the introduction piece.  Usually the robot is played by a quiet, large musclehead (sound familiar?) who hunts down his kills without much in the way of dialogue or apparent skill despite being hard to kill.  Seriously, this robot moves so slowly, and doesn't seem to have any real power despite the fact that it's hard to destroy.  Bullets don't stop it, obviously, Beating it up doesn't do jack shit.  So it's really a question of how they'll destroy it.

The movie goes, it's very average.  It's easy riff fodder, in fact I watched this on Rifftrax with my buddy before I ever saw it as a real movie.  In comparison, it's a pretty entertaining film either way, it's just that at this point I've seen it all before.  Nothing this movie had brought anything new to the table, but then again it wasn't any worse than anything else.

I might sound confused here, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's not prime hunting ground for a cult movie night, or a drunk high experiment, or anything of that sort.  However, it's regular 80's sci fi fun, and you certainly shouldn't discount it for any reason.  If you want a prime slice of regular, by the numbers cheap thrills, this could very well fit the bill.
3 stars. And also, it's on the sci fi invasion boxset.