Tag Archives: 4.5/5

Masque of the Red Death 4.5/5

Masque of the Red Death

I saw this before as a teenager, and thought it was deliberately overwrought and contrived just to fill the running time, and I had that general opinion of Corman’s Poe cycle.

However, I watched The Haunted Palace for the first time not too long ago, and thought it was wonderful, and thought maybe it was time to give the whole Corman/Price cycle another chance.

Watching it again, I realised I was totally wrong. It is weird, vivid, a mashup of pulp and existential horror that’s works superbly, and apart from Witchfinder General, I think this might be Price’s best performance as the black-hearted Prospero.

I loved the garish colours and the very fine set design and rather good costuming, and I particularly liked the Red Death and his brethren.

A fine film, and a classic of horror.

Miami Vice: Brother’s Keeper 4.5/5

Miami Vice

Well, as I watched the first half, I couldn’t help thinking ‘this really isn’t as good as I remember it’. Then we saw Sonny Crockett lived on a yacht. With an alligator called Elvis. Then we saw a judge with a pump action shotgun, a clerk with a magnum, Sonny getting it on with a work colleague, and a bad guy in a dress.

So 80s, it hurts, in a good way.

I rate it Awesome++

Pygmalion 4.5/5


Terrific movie based on the play by George Bernard Shaw (and later adapted into the musical My Fair Lady), with funny, sad, angry scenes all mixed up together, and a great performance by Wendy Hiller as the brave, put-upon Eliza. I can’t decide if she’s uncannily beautiful or odd-looking…

Leslie Howard also puts in a 100% exhilarating performance as the brash, bullying Henry Higgins, and the bit players are also pretty good, especially the guy playing Eliza’s father. He’s hilariously low-class in all respects.

Destry Rides Again 4.5/5

nullDestry Rides Again

Ridiculously good comedy Western from 1939, with James Stewart as the thoughtful Destry, and Marlene Dietrich showing you why she was such an inspiration for Lilly Von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles. A really well-written, excellently cast and funny oldschool comedy.

Aladdin 4.5/5


This is easily the second most funny Disney movie after The Emperor’s New Groove, but it does feel a little dated with some of Robin Williams topical references – I think everyone will recognise Jack Nicholson for years to come, but maybe not Rodney Dangerfield and Scorcese-esque De Niro – but the really good turns from the incidental comedy characters such as Iago, Abu and the carpet keep it cracking along at an excellent pace. There’s also some very creative ideas going on in the fast-paced sequences, such as the escape from the closing treasure-pit or the final fight.

Very enjoyable.

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels 4.5/5

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Amazing debut from Guy Ritchie, who combines colourful characters and some dazzling camerawork with funny, highly-stylized dialogue. Even non-actors shine reasonably well in this (Lennie McLean and Vinnie Jones), and it’s cool to see some guys who I still enjoy seeing – specifically Jason Statham and Jason Flemyng – and whilst it does have rough spots and some sections that clearly have non actors in speaking roles, it trundles along nicely, guiding the viewer through the convoluted plot with a confident hand, and borrowing part from Tarantino’s snappy dialogue, part from an old British tradition of loveable rogues that stretch back to The Italian Job and on to old black and white comedy caper movies with Peter Sellers, Alistair Sim and Alec Guinness.


Snatch 4.5/5


Whilst Guy Ritchie’s directing career has been up and down (and I’m glad it’s now on the up, after his rather fine take on Sherlock Holmes), this reminds you why he deserves to still be in the game. Okay, there’s some overflashy visual flourishes, but we have a convoluted, multi-character story that sprawls all over, but Ritchie keeps is straight enough to follow, entertaining enough to keep you interested till the end, and shows us some rather good comedy-gangster monologues along the way.


Caddyshack 4.5/5


Superb comedy, so filled with gags and funny moments that it may just be the most rewatchable comedy ever.

Everyone’s really on form, from Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield and the fantastic Ted Knight.

When I watch this, I really try hard to disentangle the mighty nostalgia I had with it (this was a staple ‘watch a movie after the pub’ movie and I’ve seen it many, many times) for if it actually funny anyway, and I’ve concluded…nope, it’s not nostalgia, it’s just damned funny.

Gunga galoonga.

Yojimbo 4.5/5


Wonderful Eastern, with Tishuro Mifune spending the first 3rd of the movie munching rice, meat and other assorted goodies, drinking sake and killing tough-talking bandit types, whilst nonchalantly bringing the town to a boiling tension as he plays one gang against the other in assorted ways.

The bombastic jangling sound design, Mifune’s charismatic killer, the silly gurning faces of the heavies, and Kurosawa’s wonderful eye for composing shots and letting the camera enjoy the movement all adds up to a real treat and highmark of samurai genre movies.

The daddy of Lone Wolf and Cub movies, and the partial granddaddy of the impressive recent 13 Assassins.


An American Werewolf In London 4.5/5

An American Werewolf In London

This movie holds up, and remains one of the great comedy-horror movies, for several reasons. The transformation scene, done entirely using practical effects, still looks pretty great (apart from some of the elongated hands moments, but I stress ‘some’), the writing is done with wit and the acting of the minor characters feels pretty real, and overall the story zips along in an uncomplicated way. There’s very little of that most common fault of horror movies -people have to act stupid at some point to drive the story (inadvertently leaving the road to go on the moors is something we’ll ignore for the sake of the entire plot, rather than a contrivance to help drive the plot), and the central performance of Jenny Agutter, David Naughton and Griffin Dunne are wholly believable.

I feel a bad moon rising.
Link to my podcast about An American Werewolf In London

Star Wars IV: A New Hope 4.5/5

Star Wars IV: A New Hope

A real thrilling spectacle. It’s been 10 years or more since I last watched this, and I have to admit, I was excited about rewatching it. And yes, it easily lived up to the expectation and excitement. My favourite part is one of the quieter moments, where Vader declares ‘I find your lack of faith…disturbing.’ But there are a dozen of more really great moments, and the 2 hours whizzes by.

I enjoy Alec Guinness the most in this, I think, but Harrison Ford comes a close second.

Still thrills, all these years later.

The Bad Seed 4.5/5

The Bad Seed

This is a startling movie about psychopathy. The acting is stagey and melodramatic (it’s based on a Stage Play, with most, if not all, the original stage cast), and there’s a lot of monologues, but hell, does it work. Central is the little blonde girl, who psychopathy is clear – she’s charming but forcefully and oddly so, confident to a degree it feels unnatural for her age, and completely devoid of remorse. She feels trivial setups completely justify her murderous actions. Her glee is scary, but scarier still are the moments we detect a vacancy and absence of…something…behind those eyes.

And it’s not just her performance that electrifies the movie. The mother, torn by knowledge of her daughter’s evil actions, but still loving her daughter, gives a borderline hysterical performance that’s terrific, only surpassed by a grieving mother whose little son is dead…and she suspects it wasn’t an accident. Also, there’s a terrific Southern gardener who reminds you of William H. Macy, who is on to the little girl at the start, and threatens and teases her throughout…and it’s very unsettling how the little girl handles the (true) accusations with such clear confidence and offhandedness.

What I thought was the ending was extreme and shocking (I’m not going to spoil it, but you’ll know it when you see it), but there are further scenes that feel tacked on (kind of like the end of Psycho?), but that are in their own way, almost as weird as the preceding 2 hours, and in a way more dreamlike and pushing the story into archetype fairy tale.

Would make a great double bill with Night of the Hunter for a great night of fantastic black-and-white gothic-thriller-horror.

Shane – A beautiful looking, mature, complex Western 8.5/10


Made in 1951, and I’d never seen it before. This was terrific, I was expecting a simple but enjoyable horse-opera, but what I got was much more; whilst old-fashioned in many respects, it was amazingly mature and sophisticated in dealing with several issues, most notably violence and its aftermath, but also things like unspoken attraction (between the mother and Shane…and the father being aware of it, accepting it for what it is, and knowing his wife well enough to be comfortable with it), the need for community to make civilisation, and even showing at least one “bad guy” knowing things have gone too far and stepping away from it and trying to make his peace with the wronged people. Plus, it looks beautiful.

And I can see this film being the daddy of all those Westerns that have an element of a supernatural being appearing to return harmony to somewhere – particularly Eastwood’s “High Plains Drifter” and “Pale Rider”. As Shane himself says, “There’s no living with a killing. There’s no goin’ back from one.”

Rating: GOOD, suitable for all ages