Film Mini-Reviews, May 2017 – Warcraft to Madhouse

June 8, 2017 2 Comments »
Film Mini-Reviews, May 2017 – Warcraft to Madhouse

Another busy month for film viewing, and with the Mihmiverse article behind me (coming out at the end of June), a little more breadth in my viewing, too.  (Not that watching Mihm films is a bad thing; far from it!)

For anyone keeping track, I’ve watched 272 (complete) films during the first 5 months of 2017.

Yeah, I guess that’s a lot, though it doesn’t count films I’ve watched part of, either.  But at this rate, it’d still probably take me more than 5 years to (re)watch my entire collection.  And that collection is still growing.

Again, these aren’t alphabetized, because that would take too long and ruin the fun.  They’re not quite chronological, either — same reason.  (I don’t write them down every day, like a diary.)  Maybe I’ll alphabetize at the end of the year — assuming I don’t drive myself mad by then.

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So, here are the films I watched in May, 2017…

FILM – Rating (0-5 stars) – Comments

Warcraft ** CGI cannot save this hot mess of a fantasy. Maybe players might like it. Expected more from Duncan Jones.
Cry Wilderness (MST3K) **** 2nd new MST3K show proves that they know what they’re doing. This movie, however doesn’t. 1 star w/o bots.
Time Travelers, The (MST3K) **** New MST3K version of this low-budget classic SF continues a great season by Jonah & crew. 3 stars w/o bots.
Avalanche **** New MST3K rocks Rock Hudson & company in this classic bad disaster-in-snow film. 2 stars w/o bots
King Kong (1933) ***** Likely the greatest fantasy/monster film of all time, this classic about a giant ape may never be surpassed.
Revenge of the Creature **** Not as good as the original gill-man saga, but still great fun, & worth seeing in 3D if you can. Really good.
Mothra **** One of the best Kaiju films in glorious color and Tohoscope with great miniature FX & worthy themes & story.
Ghidrah: The 3-Headed Monster (Sven) **** One of the best giant monster films of all time with Godzilla, Mothra, & Rodan teaming up against Ghidrah.
Girl in the Gold Boots, The (MST3K) *** Soapy Go Go Dancer “star saga” mixed with drug trade crime drama. Unmemorable. 1 star w/out bots.
John Goldfarb, Please Come Home ** Wrong way pilot gets lost in Arabia with girl reporter doing harem expose & coaches crazy football game. Wow.
Reaper ** Danny Trejo picks up a scheming hitchiker, the drug trade, & a monstrous grim reaper. Expected gore.
Up Goes Maisie ** Masie series. She finds a job at an aircraft factory & tries to foil a plot to steal plans to a new helicopter.
Cave Dwellers (MST3K) *** Mixed up nonsense (sequel) about a barbarian fighting against the usual evil. Unbearble w/o bots – 1 star.
Day the Earth Froze, The (MST3K) ***** MST3K turns mythical Finnish fantasy saga about the Sampo into pure gold. 2, maybe 3 stars w/o bots.
Snow White: A Tale of Terror *** Surprisingly bleak & frightening retelling of the Snow White tale with Sigourney Weaver as step-mom. Good.
Let Us Prey *** When a mysterious stranger is taken to a police station the cops start turning on each other. Devilish gory fun.
Castle of Fu Manchu (MST3K) *** Christopher Lee is still good in one of the lesser Fu outings, made fun by SOL crew. 2 stars w/o bots.
Uninvited, The (2009) *** Effective suspense thriller about a girl who returns home to family & a nurse who wants to kill her. Well done.
Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood ** The evil imp shows up in a black neighborhood this time, but is no more silly, nor less gory, than usual.
House of the Dead ** Like most Uwe Boll films, this starts off like it knows what it’s doing & then degenerates into gore & tits.
Thaw, The ** If The Thing were just bugs from a thawing mammoth, that would be this film. Handsome, but not near as good.
Shadow Zone: The Undead Express ** Kid monster film about vampires who ride a train beneath the streets of NYC, looking for victims. Pretty good.
Ghost Squad ** Kids are convinced to spend the night in a house that may or may not be haunted by a ghost dog. Not bad.
Bones ** Snoop Dogg as a gangster who, when murdered by drug cohorts, comes back from the grave for revenge. Ok.
Descent: Part 2, The * If there were characters to care about in this flick, I couldn’t find them. More a remake than sequel. See original.
Rodan (US cut) **** One of the best kaiju films of all time, with great miniature SFX & moving story. Even great in dubbed US cut.
Black Scorpion, The **** Lots of great Willis O’Brien & Pete Peterson animated monsters with a good cast & standard story. Great fun.
Deadly Mantis, The *** Sincerity & good SFX make this giant bug vs. humanity saga great fun to watch. Very rewatchable.
Monster that Challenged the World, The **** Practical SFX & scary monster design combine with good acting & location to make this a superior monster film.
Empire of the Ants ** Joan Collins wants to sell you real estate overrun with giant, mind controlling ants. Lesser Bert I. Gordon fun.
Giant Claw, The *** Beneath one of the (laughably) worst monster designs of all time is a pretty decent SF monster flick.
Gargoyles (Sven) *** Stan Winston make-up elevates this solid story of monsters living in the desert southwest. Great TV film.
Shallow Water *** Short original film with great makeup featuring turtle-like monsters stalking a survivor. Should have been longer.
Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (MST3K) *** This is a terrible film — one star at best — made bearable by MST3K. For me, far worse than Manos.
Hercules (MST3K) *** The original muscle-man movie with Steve Reeves is a fun mythical romp. MST3K neither improves nor hurts.
Conjuring 2, The ** Not as surprising as the first one, but another trip to the supernatural “true” realm, well played.
Return of Dortor X, The ** Bogart is the vampire-like doctor in this straight forward B-Movie with a reporter chasing a mystery killer.
Fifth Wave, The ** Nicely produced, but just another entry in the Standard Teen Dystopia
Beast from 20,000 Fathoms **** Ray Harryhausen’s first solo film is one of the great giant monster films of all time. Inspired Godzilla.
Them! ***** The best giant bug movie ever is an all-time great on every level. Giant ants threaten the world. Great cast.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (TCM rewatch) **** Even the US recut does little to harm this classic movie that helped spawn the giant monster industry.
It Came from Beneath the Sea *** Though not one of Harryhausen’s best, this giant octopus tale is still solid fun, well done. Great stop-motion.
Giant Behemoth, The *** Willis O’Brien & Pete Peterson’s stop-motion monster make this fun, but more budget would have helped.
Phantom from 10,000 Leagues, The ** Sincere B-Movie about an atomic mutation sea monster with marginal costume but good acting.
Monster Zero (Sven) **** The last of the greatest Godzilla series run with a fab cast & an alien plot that was reused forver. Nick Adams.
Beast from Hollow Mountain, The (MST3K) **** Jonah and the new MSTies elevate this from mediocrity to funny and highly watchable, despite the tongue.
Undercover Maisie *** Maisie becomes a resourceful undercover cop in a fitting & fun end to the Ann Sothern’s Maisie series.
Hobgobins ** Only an ’80s film could be so awful that even MST3K could barely make it worth watching. Gremlins ripoff.
Tremors 3 – Back to Perfection *** More fun with Michael Gross & company as the big worms mutate further becoming “ass blasters.” 🙂
Twin Peaks – The Return 1 & 2 **** The weirdness picks up where it left off in the continuation of Twin Peaks, played movie-style on Showtime.
Tarantula *** Solid giant bug movie with sincere acting & some surprises and twists. Good photographic SFX. Agar rules!
Return of the Fly *** Enjoyable B&W sequel to the color original, has a few shocks but probably too much spy drama.
Cosmic Monsters, The ** Done with sincerity, but with aliens & UFOs & bugs… probably too man plot elements. Weaker SFX.
Wasp Woman, The *** When Corman directs a monster picture, he goes all in, and this killer wasp-woman one is short & sweet.
Magnetic Monster, The **** Superior SF drama without a “monster” in the kiddie sense, but with suspense, good acting. Intro OSI series.
Star Crash (MST3K) *** Some love this SF mess, but not me. Caroline Munro is fine, but film is incoherent. Barely saved by MST3K.
Indestructible Man, The (MST3K) *** Even MST3K can barely save this 1-star Lon Chaney, Jr. film from total forgetability. Grade Z cheapy.
Hand of Death *** Low budget monster film made plausible by Agar. Deadly monster may have inspired The Thing from FF.
Jason & the Argonauts ***** Classic Harryhausen film has fab production values, monsters galore, & a great Hercules. Nearly perfect.
Golden Voyage of Sinbad, The ***** Another Harryhausen classic. Amazing monsters, great score, & John Phililip Law & Caroline Munro. Superior.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales *** Good cast & fun guest appearances, but 3D-centered sturm & drang covers a thin plot. Still fun.
Alien: Covenant *** Beautifully made & good move back to Alien’s roots, but with a “saw it coming” ending that takes out some fun.
Twin Peaks – The Return 3 & 4 **** More new Peaks weirdness with Dale making his way “back,” played movie-style on Showtime.
Blast Off ** AKA Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon (& others). PT Barnum & company plot to launch a midget. 60s silliness.
Madhouse *** Price plays a movie monster, Dr. Death, who goes mad in real life – or does he? Price, Cushing, & clips fun.

Next Month: More movies, including that one I have to watch for a podcast this weekend but didn’t show up (as it was supposed to) during the last days of May.  And, if I’m really lucky, a first viewing for a film I helped write: Joshua Kennedy’s Theseus & the Minotaur!

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2 Comments

  1. Daniel Cornell June 12, 2017 at 9:44 am -

    Hi Stephen! I am enjoying your movie reviews. It helps me decide which movies to add to my “watchlist”. Have you ever considered joining Letterboxd (https://letterboxd.com/)? It uses a similar five star system that you use in your review posts. It also includes a diary function that lets you log the day that you watch each film. You can then leave reviews of movies as well (similar to the little blurbs you provide for each movie in these posts). If someone follows you on Letterboxd, they could go to your diary to see all of the movies you watched, your ratings, and your reviews. You can also create a watchlist of movies you want to watch. I could then filter on your entire diary by specific categories (e.g., horror movies, 1930s, 5 stars, etc.) to see every film in your watched/diary list or your watchlist using specfic filters. So if I’m in the mood for a 1930s horror flick and want to watch one that Stephen D. Sullivan has highly rated, I could do to your diary and filter accordingly to find a highly rated movie by you.

  2. Steve Sullivan August 11, 2017 at 6:40 pm -

    Hi David! Sorry the site buried this for a while. I have a lot of friends who use Letterboxd, but my promise to myself when I started t his was that it couldn’t be “work,” because if it was, I wouldn’t do it. And adding Letterboxd would make it too much like work. Even the spreadsheet is pushing it sometimes. 😉 But feel free to catalog my entries if you like. 🙂 Thanks for your time and attention. — SDS

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