January 2020 Mini-Reviews – The Expanse (S4) – The Curse of la Llarona

2020 is off to a rollicking start, with me hitting over 40 movies/TV seasons/serials in January.  (February looks a bit slower — despite the Oscars.)

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a lot of GREAT genre TV going on now, in addition to all the new and classic cool genre movies, and I covered two of the absolute best this month: the new season of THE EXPANSE and the last season of the amazing heavenly comedy THE GOOD PLACE.  I can’t recommend these shows highly enough, but they’re BOTH shows you have to watch FROM THE BEGINNING.  You can’t just pick the storyline up in the middle,  In the case of THE GOOD PLACE, starting in the middle could really ruin the whole thing.  Don’t cheat!

My watching of Paul Naschy films also continues, and TCM got heavily involved with some Bob Hope flicks and their usual good mix of classics with occasional genre flicks thrown in. Probably there’s something here you’ll like.  🙂

Ratings are out of five stars. Here’s what those stars mean to me…

* – This film is not good. Avoid it unless you tolerate dreck well.
** – A flawed film. You may enjoy it if you like this genre or the folks in it.
*** – A good solid film. If you like this genre, you’ll probably like this film.
**** – A superior film within its genre. Thoroughly enjoyable.
***** – An outstanding film on many levels. A great example of its genre.

Expanse, The – Season 4 ***** 1st Season on Prime continues the excellent space saga of populating the galaxy.
Night of the Werewolf (with commentary) **** Rod Barnett & Troy Guinn give background on the film & actors. **** commentary.
Road to Morocco, The ***** Possibly the best of the Road Pictures, Bob & Bing meet Princess Lamore in Arabia. Fun & Funny.
Road to Utopia, The ***** Another of the best Road Pictures, Bob, Bing & Dorothy Lamore seek gold in Alaska. More fun.
Sorrowful Jones *** Bob Hope is a bookie who ends up with a child as a debt marker & a racehorse. Runion story.
My Favorite Brunette *** Lamore mistakes Hope’s baby photographer for detective & falls into criminal schemes. Amusing.
Alias Jesse James *** More Hope silliness as an insurance salesman who sells policy to Jesse James & must protect him.
Planet of the Apes (1968) ***** Boulle’s story coupled with Serling’s screenplay work brings powerful SF of a human in an ape world.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes *** Goes over a lot of territory from the original film, but a lot of great ape stuff & scifi mutant battle.
Chopping Mall *** 80s horror silliness about robotic mall security going wiled on teens making out after hours in mall.
King Solomon’s Mines **** Paul Robeson as African prince trying to regain his country, while Allan Quartermain & co. trek across unknown territory to find the fabled mines. Robeson sings, naturally. Good adventure film.
Unholy, The *** Ben Cross as priest destined to confront demon killing people in his church. Decent nudity, gore.
Slaughter High *** April Fools prank haunt’s bully graduates on reuinion night. Some good kills. Caroline Munro.
Panic Beats **** An evil knight haunts family’s personal lives as they drive themselves to doom. Good Naschy, nudity.
Hanging Woman, The *** Naschy as necrophile grave robber in mystery of hanged woman mixed up with supernatural stuff.
Satanis: The Devil’s Mass ** Low key exploitation documentary about Satanis Anton LeVay & his group. Nudity in Black Mass.
Scandal: The Trial of Mary Astor **** Doc about the child custody battle between Mary Astor & her ex that involved her sensational diaries.
7 Murders for Scotland Yard ** Jack-the-Ripper type killer in modern day London with Naschy as the prime suspect. Fairly standard.
1917 ***** Moving & heartfelt WWI story. 2 soldiers brave no-mans land to stop army from falling into a trap.
Indestructible Man, The ** Chaney Jr. seeks revenge as criminal accidentally revived & made invulnerable. Voiceover hurts it.
Sweet Sound of Death, The (La Llamada) *** Woman killed in plane crash returns to lure her lover to world of the dead. Carnival of Souls-esque.
Legend of Blood Castle, The ** Bathory story with her vampiric husband responsible for her depravities. Better print would help.
Countess Dracula’s Orgy of Blood *** Don Glut’s erotic vampire tale has plenty of flesh & great supporting role for priest Paul Naschy.
7 Women for Satan ** Zaroff grandson struggles against family traditions of rape & murder while butler eggs him on. Weird.
Why am I in a Box? *** Strange tale of woman kidnapped & forced to write a novel. Entertaining, if you like Grubb & Lemke.
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero ***** Even in the English dub, this is a superior kaiju film of Godzilla & Rodan vs. Ghidorah & aliens.
Maigret Sets a Trap (2016) **** Rowin Atkinson is excellent as the French inspector/detective out to catch a serial killer of women.
Patience of Magret, The (1992) *** Michael Gambon must solve murders related to a gang lord’s past jewel roberies. A bit convoluted.
Mummy’s Revenge, The **** Paul Naschy plays both mummy & descendant in this gory take on the classic monster. It’s a fun outing with a lot to recommend it, but I bet the more-nude European version would be stronger.
Flying Saucer, The ** 5-10 total minutes, maybe, of Flying Saucer wrapped around boring travelogue & US-USSR frakas.
Bamboo Saucer, The *** US & USSR teams seek flying saucer crashed in China. Low budget but better than expected.
Invasion of the Saucer Men, The *** Horror-comedy with teens vs great Blaisdell bug-eyed, poison-clawed green Martians.
Creature from the Black Lagoon ***** This one never gets old & the monster is so good in the water, it’s hard to believe it’s a suit. Classic.
Father Brown (1974 series) **** Strong mysteries that follows the originals. Kenneth More’s Fr. is excellent. I wish there were more.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 *** Gory black comedy sequel about radio DJ & man looking for revenge mixed up with cannibals.
Female Trouble *** Divine goes from rebellious teen mother to thief to disfigured fashion model to murderer. Goofy fun.
Bruce Gentry – Daredevil of the Skies *** 2-fisted pilot battles mysterious Recorder who causes havoc with remote-controlled flying saucers.
Arrow (S8 – Final Season) **** After flabby predecessor seasons, Arrow comes back to form with trips down memory lane & Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Beast & the Magic Sword (Naschy #9) ***** Strong production values combine with Naschy’s imagination & energy, plus West meets East mythology to make this one of the most interesting & fun of the Daninsky Werewolf series.
Good Place, The (4th & Final Season) ***** It was another great season, capping an amazing run, for one of TV’s best comedies & series. Ever. Heavenly send-off.
Multiple Maniacs *** Waters transgressively goes where no one dares in story of Divine & performance-crime troupe.
Curse of la Llarona, The **** Plenty of creeps & more than a few good scares in tale of a crying ghost looking to take & kill kids.

Next month… My wife and I both watch ALL the Oscar-nominated Best Pictures (and I slightly disagree with the winner) and the nominated Shorts, plus my Naschy watching continues as I near the final Daninsky werewolf films.  Maybe I’ll even finish them.  Stay tuned!

Remember, you can support this and all my other writing work, including Frost Harrow, Dr. Cushing’s Chamber of Horrors, and more, by joining my Patreon for a buck or two a month.  Thanks!

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