Film Mini-Reviews – Jan 2017: Rogue One to The Minotaur

I watch a lot of films, apparently.  I didn’t really know how many until in January of this year, I decided to keep track.  I think I got most of the January ones, though I didn’t start keeping track right away (so it’s possible a few Bowery Boy films, or other stuff, got missed, early on.)  I was surprised how many I turned out to have watched in the first month.  It didn’t seem like that many, and I certainly wasn’t trying to “run up the numbers” or anything.  My wife’s guess that I may watch 400 films per year seems like it may be a low estimate.  😉

Because some of my Facebook friends seemed interested in what I’ve been watching and what I thought of those films, I decided to share the results of my “experiment,” on a monthly basis.

The “rules” are that I have to see the whole film (though not necessarily in one sitting), and I have to be able to describe the plot and feel I can give a fair review.  So, I won’t rate films that I just catch pieces of (like the stuff on Comet TV that plays in the background of my life, often), though I will count complete rewatches, say seeing a movie again in the theater — or catching a favorite monster film again later int he year.

Total for January = 51 films.  They’re in the approximate order that I watched them.  Sorry they’re not alphabetical, but that would be quite a bit more work — and this is supposed to be FUN!

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FILM – Rating (0-5 stars) – Comments

Rogue One: A Star Wars Film **** A tough “Dirty Dozen” for Star Wars with some great moments
Hidden Figures **** Very good film about overlooked heroines of the Space Race, deserving of an Oscar nod or three
House of Frankenstein *** Great cast harmed by segmented story. J. Carrol Naish shines. Still great fun.
Shadow of the Cat *** Lesser British (Hammer) mystery/suspense effort with “cat cam” POV shots
Two Lost Worlds ** 1 Million BC SFX highlight a competent but otherwise unremarkable film. Pre-The Thing James Arness.
What We Do in the Shadows **** Funny Kiwi take on “monster house” reality show/doc with vampire main characters.
Mutiny in Outer Space *** Precursor to Green Slime. Some feminine equality. Better than expected.
Brain from Planet Auros ** John Agar makes this fun, but otherwise unmemorable and very low budget.
Project Moon Base *** Struggles between Heinliein’s proto-feminism script and Hollywood sexism, but some good science stuff
Day It Came to Earth, The ** Space zombie lurking underwater (in color) is more fun than it has a right to be
Missile to the Moon ** Moon Maidens, giant spiders, and rock monsters in fun but silly melange
Silent Night, Deadly Night **** Relentless dark, anti-establishment comedy is much better than expected, gory fun
Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 * 35 minutes of footage from the orignial film and none of the charm to round out the rest
The Saint’s Double Trouble ** Twice the George Sanders but not nearly enough Bela Lugosi. Still fun, thoug plotting could be clearer.
Kiss of the Tarantula ** Don’t mess with this girl’s spider
The Prince and the Pauper *** Not much Errol Flynn, but a well-made take on the classic
Quiet Place in the Country, A *** Creepy mix of ghosts, sex, and encroaching madness with Franco Nero & Vanessa Redgrave
Into the Woods *** Fun retelling of old fairy tales with music by Sondheim ends on a bittersweet note
My Favorite Spy ** Kay Kiser leads a double life as band leader and spy. Harmless fun.
Terminal Island ** Exploitation SF-Dystopia with a low budget and good cast, lots of violence
Penitentiary ** Prison film mixed with fight film blaxploitation has some rough scenes and nudity
Double Wedding *** Powell and Loy can do no wrong, but the title gives away the ending in this romatic mix-up
I Love You Again *** How could anyone forget Myrna Loy? Still, con-man Powell makes it all turn out in the amsuing end
Love Crazy *** Powell and Loy are magic as always in this daft comedy where he gets himself committed to prove his love
Space Probe Taurus *** Better than it has a right to be, surpasses feminist struggles and low budget with good production values
Perri (Disney) *** “True Life Fantasy” story of a squirrell – how they filmed these things, I don’t know, but fun
Torchy Blane Playing with Dynamite *** Jane Wyman does a credible job picking up the role of Torchy in this series finale
Trick ‘r Treat **** Eerie and sometimes funny interwoven anthology story. Well worth seeing.
3 Worlds of Gulliver **** Harryhausen SFX look pretty great on new, remastered blu ray.
Black Friday *** Boris is great, but they should have had Bela in a major role — like the brain-transfered professor
Manos: The Hands of Fate **** Beloved by me, but still bad — even on MST3K, which is where I watched it. Again.
Thunderbird 6 **** The better of the 2 original Thunderbirds movie, though not enogh TB 4!
Bend of the River **** Jimmy Stewart and Julie Adams struggle against gold gree to homestead Oregon
The Conjuring **** Chilling, despite the fact that it’s not really a “true story,” as it claims
Mythica 4 – The Iron Crown *** Great action and nice character development, but connective tissue still a bit thin
Mythica 5 – Godlsayer *** More great action and some nice acting & production, but didn’t feel like ending was planned from the start
Despiser ** A bold early attempt to meld live action with CGI environments, a bit of a hot mess, but points for effort
Beyond the Time Barrier *** A Twilight Zone/Outer Limits style time travel plot given weight and beauty by Elmer G. Ulmer’s execution
Zabriskie Point *** Interesting but muddled counter-culture vs. establishment film with a stolen plane, the desert, & a beautiful house as directed by Michelangelo Antonioni.
Scanners **** Psychic cult film fun, creepy, innovative, and cynical.
The Invisible Man’s Revenge *** Not as good as the original, but well made with Vincent Price and pushed the SFX forward.
Rocket Attack USA * “Shock Ending” can’t make up for stock footage and flacid script and acting.
Assignment Outer Space ** Muddled but has intersting SFX. Seemed more like a Soviet State space epic than Italian, despite Margheriti.
Looking for Danger ** Bowery Boys – The boys (sans Slip) go Arabian during WWII. Slight.
Up in Smoke ** Bowery Boys – Sach sells his soul to the devil for racing tips. Not as fun as it should be. Misses Slip.
In the Money ** Bowery Boys – The boys go to London and Sach takes care of a diamond smuggling poodle. Last in series — and probably a good thing. The Boys missed Slip (Leo Gorcey) right to the finish.
Spook Chasers ** Bowery Boys – The gang brave a “haunted’ house filled with gangster money. Very Abbott & Costello, but…
Hot Shots ** Bowery Boys – The boys are framed for kidnapping a child star. Some amusing moments.
Crashing Las Vegas ** Bowery Boys – Sach gains the power to predict numbers, and Slip takes them to Vegas to cash in. Fun.
Time Travelers, The *** Low budget but smart and “serious” SF, with some stage-magic-based practical effects.
Minotaur, The *** Fun peplum (sword & sandal) Theseus epic that could use a fully restored widescreen print.

How many films will February 2017 yield?  I can’t say for sure, but I’m already at nearly 100 total for the year.

Stay tuned!

About Steve Sullivan 411 Articles
Stephen D. Sullivan is an award-winning author, artist, and editor. Since 1980, he has worked on a wide variety of properties, including well-known licenses and original work. Some of his best know projects include Dungeons & Dragons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dragonlance, Iron Man, Legend of the Five Rings, Speed Racer, the Tolkien RPG, Disney Afternoons, Star Wars, The Twilight Empire (Robinson's War), Uncanny Radio, Martian Knights, Tournament of Death, and The Blue Kingdoms (with his friend Jean Rabe).

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